Sunday, August 12, 2018

Guns N' Roses - "Appetite For Destruction"

Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
1987/2018, Geffin

1. Welcome to the Jungle
2. It's So Easy
3. Nightrain
4. Out ta Get Me
5. Mr. Brownstone
6. Paradise City
7. My Michelle
8. Think About You
9. Sweet Child O' Mine
10. You're Crazy
11. Anything Goes
12. Rocket Queen

1. Reckless Life
2. Nice Boys
3. Move to the City (Live)
4. Mama Kin
5. Shadow of Your Love (Live)
6. Welcome to the Jungle (1986 Sound City Session)
7. Nightrain (1986 Sound City Session)
8. Out ta Get Me (1986 Sound City Session)
9. Paradise City (1986 Sound City Session)
10. My Michelle (1986 Sound City Session)
11. Shadow of Your Love
12. It's So Easy (Live)
13. Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Live)
14. Whole Lotta Rosie (Live)
15. You're Crazy (Acoustic Version)
16. Patience
17. Used To Love Her
18. Move to the City (1988 Acoustic Version)

I've had to replace my old copy of this album for awhile. It was one of those cheapo five dollar Walmart deals with no liner notes or anything. I never got around to it until now. Since this is a proper reissue with a remaster, extra tracks, liner notes, I figured I'd get this definitive edition for the vault. I still maintain that Guns N' Roses was never as good as they were on Appetite For Destruction. I don't think there was anything wrong with the original master, but this remaster sounds great and really highlights how talented this band was in their prime. This edition also includes most of the material from GN'R Lies which saves me the trouble of having to bother with that. Not that I think I ever would... though "Patience" is a great song. Still trying to decide if I want to to try getting into the Use Your Illusion albums.

Useless Fact: My fellow game nerds know that the robot bosses in Mega Man X5 were named after members of Guns N' Roses (Duff McWhalen, etc). However, with the reissue of the game on the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2, they've gone back to the original names. Weird, I thought it was kind of silly originally but now I miss them. "Tidal Whale" just isn't as cool anymore.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Gabriel, Peter - "So"

Gabriel, Peter - So
1986/2012, Real World

1. Red Rain
2. Sledgehammer
3. Don't Give Up
4. That Voice Again
5. Mercy Street
6. Big Time
7. We Do What We're Told (milgram's 37)
8. This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
9. In Your Eyes

I've always been meaning to dig a little bit further into Peter Gabriel's solo stuff. I listen to Hit way too much to not have any actual albums in the vault. I started with So because, as I mentioned, I'd spend hours watching MTV when I was home sick as a child just to catch "Sledgehammer" or "Big Time." As one would expect, Peter Gabriel's pop music is artsy and compelling and wonderful. Even some of his Genesis-era weirdness shows up (like on "This is the Picture"). I've always been of the opinion that Peter Gabriel works better as a solo artist and So is the first piece of evidence I would submit. I think this was his most successful album - it's certainly his most accessible. Discussion question: I don't think I've ever heard Peter Gabriel called a "sell-out" even though he totally made commercial pop music. As opposed to Phil Collins, who gets that reputation in spades. Why is that? Granted I've never listened to Phil's solo stuff in depth. Anyway...So... it's great. Case closed.

Useless Fact: Peter Gabriel does not like album titles. The story goes that the reason he chose So as the album title is because the record company made him pick something. He thought So would look good from a visual standpoint on the album cover.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Soccer Mommy - "Clean"

Soccer Mommy – Clean
2018, Fat Possum

1. Still Clean
2. Cool
3. Your Dog
4. Flaw
5. Blossom (Wasting All My Time)
6. Last Girl
7. Skin
8. Scorpio Rising
9. Interlude
10. Wildflowers

Sometimes Facebook can do good things – like when it shoved the video for Soccer Mommy’s “Cool” in my feed. Lately I’ve been craving that mid/late 90’s indie rock sound and Soccer Mommy has that covered. Bright jangly guitars, fat fuzzy bass, lithe vocals. Yep… really scratches that itch. Most of the lyrics are about pinin’ after boys. It’s not just whining, though. There’s some pretty dark and violent imagery, specifically regarding the feeling of being emotionally consumed and used. Instead of being insufferable (which is a real risk when pinin’ after boys), the lyrics convey vulnerability and melancholy. Musings on unrequited love, if you will. I’m also getting a bit of a Sundays vibe here  – especially in the vocals. I’m glad that I got in on the ground floor because the Sophie Allison (who is the driving force) shows a lot of potential for growth and I can see her going on to do some great things.

Useless Fact: I guess “Scorpio Rising” is inspired somewhat by Sophie’s interest in astrology.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Panic! At The Disco - "Pray For The Wicked"

Panic! At The Disco - Pray For The Wicked
2018, Fueled By Ramen

1. (F**k a) Silver Lining
2. Say Amen (Saturday Night)
3. Hey Look Ma, I Made It
4. High Hopes
5. Roaring 20's
6. Dancing's Not a Crime
7. One of the Drunks
8. The Overpass
9. King of the Clouds
10. Old Fashioned
11. Dying in LA

Death of a Bachelor was great. Really great. Written before Brandan Urie married his wife, that album is filled with vigor and passion. This one? definitely feels like a plateau. It's definitely not his worst album - not by a long shot. It's also not his best. Pray for the Wicked busts out of the gate with two really great tunes, but after "Say Amen (Saturday Night)" it sort of levels off. I've listened to this album several times and I still don't remember some of the songs. Not great, not crap - sort of in the middle along with Vices & Virtues. Oh, and there's a song with some trap influences on here so...ew. It doesn't stay that way but I really don't like trap music. I don't have much more to say because, unfortunately, this is just that kind of album.

Useless Fact: I don't really know any interesting factoid about this album. That's kind of par for the course for it though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Angelica - "Rock, Stock, & Barrel"

Angelica - Rock, Stock, & Barrel
1991, Intense

1. The Fire Inside
2. Someone to Believe In Me
3. Cover Me
4. Home Sweet Heaven
5. A Little Love
6. Sail Away
7. Keep Pushing On
8. Bumble Boob Groove
9. Rhyme & Reason
10. Without Words
11. Oh Canada

Ahh...the summer of '91. Good times, good times. One of the things that sticks out in my mind was the Hot Metal 4 compilation. It had videos from Angelica, Deliverance, Tourniquet, etc. This was pretty momentous to my cousin and I because we didn't really have any Christian music videos anywhere unless we bought them. Sure, there was CCMtv on at like 11pm on Saturday, but they sure as heck weren't playing Ransom. To say that video got a lot of VCR time that summer is an understatement (I still have a copy, though I have nothing to play it on). "Cover Me" was Angelica's contribution and it was killer... kind of bluesy and melodic but definitely metal. It's kind of an oddball track because the rest of the album is a lot more metallic and shiny a la Walkin' In Faith. Not that I have a problem with that. I think I might prefer Walkin' In Faith, but Rock, Stock, & Barrel isn't bad by any stretch. I think new vocalist Drew Baca doesn't quite fit as well as Jerome Mazza. He does fit on "Cover Me" but the rest of it... I don't know. Not bad... he just doesn't "click" for me. Also, how the heck did they get away with using the word "boob" in "Bumble Boob Groove?" How did Christian stores everywhere not have a fit?

Useless Fact: Years and years later I was watching a DVD from Third Day and saw Drew hanging out with them. I can't remember if he was an engineer or what. But I was like, "Hey, it's Drew!" and no one knew what I was talking about.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Choir - "Bloodshot"

The Choir - Bloodshot
2018, Galaxy21

1. Bloodshot Eyes
2. Californians On Ice
3. Summer Rain
4. Birds, Bewildered
5. Only Reasons
6. House of Blues
7. The Dizzy Wounded
8. Because You're Beautiful (Bloodshot Reprise)
9. The Way You Always Are
10. Magic
11. We've Got the Moon
12. The Time Has Come

Hey, remember way back during the Loudest Sound Ever Heard era when Steve Hindalong said his wife didn't want him to write about their relationship anymore? Well...let's just say he's gone back on that a bit here. Most of the album's lyrics are inspired by Steve's recent divorce. I hate to say it, but that tragedy makes Bloodshot a pretty compelling album. The heartache is real. All of the fights, the sleepless nights, the confusion - it's all here. In "House of Blues," Derri sings, "Bittersweet reverberations/That melancholy ghost is here/Haunting every empty room/Meet me in the hallway/I'll trade you tear for tear." You can really feel the anguish in every note. It makes me look at my own marriage and appreciate what I have and maybe try to avoid some pitfalls. "The Dizzy Wounded" is another favorite with the chorus, "Before we begin our descent into madness/Why don't we/The dizzy wounded dance." There are a few breathers here, "Californians On Ice," "Magic," and "We've Got the Moon," are mercifully upbeat and provide a reprieve from the tumult and balance out the album a bit. Music-wise, the band doesn't stray too far from Shadow Weaver except with maybe a little more acoustic guitar and a little less ambient guitar swirlies. "The Way You Always Are" sounds like it could have been on Steve's solo album, The Warbler (especially because Steve sings the lead). Probably the only track that I don't care for is the album closer "The Time Has Come." It contains 90% of the albums guitar swirlies ("Because You're Beautiful" contains the other 10%). The lyrics center around the theme of forgiveness... but I don't know. It feels like the band wanted to end on a more positive note so they included this song - it falls a little flat for me. Also, as Uvulapie pointed out to me, the bass is kind of buried in the mix for some reason. It sucks sometimes that heartache and pain translate into some of the best art but it's what makes Bloodshot so engrossing. It's among the best of the band's 2010's era for sure.

Useless Fact: There are a few videos for songs on this album, "Californians on Ice," "Birds, Bewikdered," and "The Time Has Come."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Driver Eight - "Watermelon"

Driver Eight - Watermelon
1996, Tooth and Nail

1. Watermelon
2. Polish
3. Cheers
4. Strange
5. Getting This Thing To Go
6. Waiting For Godot
7. Brown Paper Bag
8. Drive
9. Sunbittern
10. Carrousel
11. Superglue

I remember listening to the demo of Driver Eight back in the day at my local Christian bookstore. I also remember really being impressed and wanting to buy it. Shortly thereafter though I got out of music entirely and Watermelon was lost to me...until now. I guess I was in the mood for some mid-nineties indie alternative rock. This album was just the thing to scratch that itch. I also like the lyrics which are Christian in nature but very subtle. Though that was the thing back then. Nevertheless, this disc is quite good and it just proves that, even as a teenager, I had pretty good taste. It's too bad this band never put out any more least I don' think they did.

Useless Fact: "Driver 8" is the name of an R.E.M. song. I'm pretty sure the band is named after this song. There's definitely some R.E.M. influence in their sound.