Monday, August 29, 2016

Music Vault Vlog, Episode 2: More CD Pickups!

Want a preview of what's coming up on the site? Check out my vlog!


Monday, August 22, 2016

The Genesis Project - "Nursery Cryme"



Genesis - Nursery Cryme
1971, Atlantic

1. The Musical Box
2. For Absent Friends
3. The Return of the Giant Hogweed
4. Seven Stones
5. Harold the Barrel
6. Harlequin
7. The Fountain of Salmacis

Way back in the day I worked at a hospital cancer center. I made molds and helped inpatients. I had my own little room and my own little space. I had the benefit of following a complete numbskull so all I had to do was show up and do my job. Everyone thought I was like Superman or something. It was nice. That was one of the best jobs I ever had. What’s the point of all that you ask? Well, hang on and I’ll tell you. You’re awful impatient aren’t you? Just relax. Anyway, the point was next to my little “office” was the dosimetrist’s office. I had no idea what a dosimetrist was or what he did (still don’t), but he was a pretty cool guy. We were both music lovers and we’d occasionally trade music back and forth. One day he gave me Nursery Cryme and I listened to the whole thing in one sitting…because I had a job that allowed me to do that. Did I mention that was my favorite job? That was totally my favorite job.

I would love to say that listening to Nursery Cryme that day was a revelation. That it really moved me on a deep, fundamental level. That I had gained a new appreciation for the craft of music. Ha ha! No.  It wasn’t. I just remember thinking it was really, really weird and not my type of music at all. I was not a progressive rock fan back then. My little mind just could not wrap itself around what was going on. This guy also gave me one of King’s Crimson’s albums and I was similarly unimpressed. You’ll have to forgive my ignorance. I was dumb. My eyes were closed to the wonder.

My experience with Nursery Cryme was much different this time. I’m a bonna-fide progressive rock fan now. I’m used to ten-minute songs and weirdness. I like ten minute songs and weirdness (to an extent). I’ve also been marinating in Genesis all year so I came fully prepared for what I might find. This being a Peter Gabriel era album, I braced myself for that emotional disconnect I had experienced with Foxtrot. I mean, just look at the song titles – “Return of the Giant Hogweed,” “Harold the Barrel,” “The Fountain of Salmacis.” I could just picture Peter Gabriel’s painted visage hovering next to me screaming, “IDEAS! CONCEPTS! PAY ATTENTION YOUNG MAN!”

Young man? Who does he think he’s talking to?

I don’t know whether I’m just used to Genesis by now or what, but I really enjoyed my time with Nursery Cryme. I was more engaged than I was with Foxtrot. The emotional disconnect remained, but it wasn’t as bad. I loved the little guitar parts in “The Musical Box” that compliment Gabriel’s vocals. Eventually the track builds into a maelstrom of progressive bombast. That’s a good thing, by the way, at least for me. Also, “For Absent Friends” (the very first Genesis song to feature Phil Collins on vocals) and “Seven Stones” had a bit more heart that I was expecting. I especially enjoyed the jaunty “Harold the Barrel” – speaking of weirdness – a song about a restaurant owner who cut off his toes and served them for tea. The man then escapes and tries to commit suicide, while the authorities (and his mother) try to stop him in the most inept and hilariously British way possible. The only track I didn’t care for was “Return of the Giant Hogweed” mostly because it didn’t really seem to stand out for me.

One thing I noticed about this album that seems to be unique is the copious use of fuzz distortion on the guitars. I know they’ve done that on other albums but there seems to be a lot more here than on any album I’ve listened to yet. Some parts sound just shy of heavy metal because of it – giving off sort of a Black Sabbath vibe.

According to what I’ve read, Nursery Cryme wasn’t as well received and reviewed as the albums that came after. Even now it seems to occupy the “good, but not great” spot on the spectrum. I’d have to agree with that assessment. I enjoyed it, but there was no danger of it overtaking Selling England or Trick of the Tail as my favorite Genesis platter. I can see myself taking it out for a spin every now and then but it’s not something that’s going to stay in heavy rotation. Mostly I just want to revisit Foxtrot and see if my opinion might change. Unfortunately, I must tread every onward…

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5

Useless Fact: Apparently, “Harold the Barrel” was replaced in live shows by “Get ‘Em Out By Friday” and wasn’t really played after that.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Hindalong, Steve - "The Warbler"



Hindalong, Steve - The Warbler
2016, Galaxy 21

1. Unparalyzed
2. Not Thinkin' Anymore
3. Oblivious
4. Love You Bad
5. Lucky and Blessed
6. That's How It's Gonna Be
7. For a Lifetime
8. O Jimmy A
9. Shellie's Song
10. Cloudburst
11. Into the Dark
12. Outta My Mind
13. The Warbler
14. Antithesis of Blue

The Warbler is Steve Hindalong's second solo album. It was a Kickstarter album, but I didn't kickstart it because I didn't have the funds at the time. However, I was more than happy to purchase it the regular way. I liked Skinny okay and I absolutely loved "Love You Bad" when he released that. I have to tell you, this is a great album. Probably better than some of the latest Choir records, to be honest. Steve has never been a strong singer and that's still true here. However, he makes up for it with strong, poignant songs, good instrumentation, and great production. The past few Choir records have struggled with lyrics. They've been okay, some have been great, but some have just felt kind of uninspired. He's caught a second wind here, though. These are the kind of lyrics that we expect from him. This album is definitely a contender for one of my picks of the year!

Useless Fact: If you're reading this you probably already know that "The Warbler" and "The Antithesis of Blue" are both Choir songs re-arranged. They kind of serve as bonus tracks for the album.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Amon Amarth - "Jomsviking"



Amon Amarth - Jomsviking
2016, Metal Blade

1. First Kill
2. Wanderer
3. On a Sea of Blood
4. One Against All
5. Raise Your Horns
6. The Way of Vikings
7. At Dawn's First Light
8. One Thousand Burning Arrows
9. Vengeance Is My Name
10. A Dream That Cannot Be
11. Back On Northern Shores

I wasn't originally going to get Jomsviking as I'm not a huge Amon Amarth fan. I liked Deceiver of the Gods alright and that was kind of enough for me. However, as often happens, I was on vacation and I was seduced by the power of the special edition media book packaging and cool cover art. I like this album, it's got pretty much everything I liked about the last one...only again. Basically, if you're not a fan of Amon Amarth, then you can safely skip Jomsviking. If you are a fan you probably already own this so my words mean nothing to you. This album is the band's first concept album. It's about a young viking warrior searching for his lost love. Spoiler alert: it doesn't end well.

Useless Fact: Doro Pesch provides some guest vocals on "A Dream That Cannot Be" as the lost love. As you can tell by the title, their love is not exactly The Notebook.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Haken - "Affinity"



Haken - Affinity
2016, Inside Out

1. affinity.exe
2. Initiate
3. 1985
4. Lapse
5. The Architect
6. Earthrise
7. Red Giant
8. The Endless Knot
9. Bound By Gravity

I fell in love with Haken after 2013's The Mountain. They remain one of my favorite progressive rock/metal fans so I was eager with anticipation for Affinity. It's a different album, influenced and inspired by progressive rock from the 1980's. So there's lots of 80's type riffs and 80's type synth parts. It all gels together so well and sounds new and vibrant and nostalgic at the same time. Like...this could be the soundtrack to the book Ready Player One. I'm not sure whether it overtakes The Mountain or not, but it's a great album. I think the parts where they're the 80's-est are my favorites. "Earthrise" in particular is an amazing song as is the fifteen minute epic "The Architect." The album isn't a concept album, per se, but has the overall theme of artificial intelligence and how it affects humanity. At least I think that's the concept. Anyway... go buy this!

Useless Fact: All the packaging for the album resembles cassette packing and old computer displays.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Return of the Vlogs!

I guess the vlogs are back. Not sure how often...but they are back.

Sort of.

Maybe.

Well...this one is.


Circle of Dust - "Metamorphosis"



Circle of Dust - Metamorphosis
1993/2016, Fixt

DISC ONE:
1. Heldweller
2. Nihilistic Void
3. Consequence (Temporary Remix)
4. Dissolved (Disintegration Remix)
5. Descent (Pit of Hell Mix)
6. Consequence (Eternal Remix)
7. Daraq
8. Emerge (Living Sacrifice Intro)
9. Void Expression (Circle of Dust 'Blank Stare' Remix)
10. Void Expression (Circle of Dust 'Black Veil' Remix)
11. Distorted (Circle of Dust Remix)
12. Sacrificed (Circle of Dust Refix)

DISC TWO:
1. Bed of Nails (Blue Stahli Remix)
2. lvl - Backslide (Circle of Dust Remix)
3. Rivot - Never
4. Heldweller (Instrumental Demo)
5. Consequence (Temporary Remix Instrumental)
6. Klayton & Tommy Victor - Lightyear (Demo)
7. Klayton & Tommy Victor - Long White Con (Demo)
8. Heldweller (Cassette Demo - 1987)
9. Dust 16
10. Dust 17
11. Dust 18
12. Dust 19
13. Dust 20
14. Dust 21
15. Dust 22
16. Dust 23
17. Dust 24
18. Dust 25
19. Dust 26
20. Dust 27
21. Dust 28
22. Bed of Nails (Blue Stahli Remix Instrumental)

Whew! That was a lot to type! Metamorphosis began life as a compilation of songs from Circle of Dust, Brainchild (basically Circle of Dust), and Living Sacrifice. All of the tracks were remixed by Klayton. It was a cool little project then, it's a cool one now. Though it's really for fans. This is not the album you want to hand to somebody for their first exposure to Circle of Dust. However, it's a pretty cool package and I'm glad Klayton didn't let it fall into obscurity. The tracks that were on the original edition that later reappeared on the other albums aren't repeated here. Instead we get some cool tracks from Klayton's various side projects. Like I said, this is mostly for the Dust fan - but what a package it is. I especially like the Star Trek lettering on the new cover art.

Useless Fact: "Self-Inflict" and "Deviate (Sawed-Off Shotgun Remix)" are the two tracks that are missing. The first was on the '95 reissue of the debut and the second was used for the rerelease of Brainchild. Helpful information for that bar bet you'd undoubtedly have.