Friday, April 20, 2018

KXM - "Scatterbrain"

KXM - Scatterbrain
2017, Rat Pak

1. Scatterbrain
2. Breakout
3. Big Sky Country
4. Calypso
5. Not a Single Word
6. Obsession
7. Noises in the Sky
8. Panic Attack
9. It's Never Enough
10. True Decievers
11. Stand
12. Together
13. Angel

KXM is another side project of King's X bassist/vocalist Dug Pinnick. It also features George Lynch from Dokken on guitar and Ray Luzier from Korn on drums. The combination is pretty good, I'd say. It's always great to hear Dug's vocals on...anything really. George Lynch offers some cool licks and Ray is a monster on the drums. It's an enjoying listen and packed with all the talent you'd expect from such a group. So... the problem might be on my end. I liked it well enough but it never really got its hooks in me after multiple listens. I don't see myself going back to it again and again. Time may prove me wrong (it often has) but as of now I can say I liked it but I didn't love it. That being said I'd still recommend anyone check them out - you may have better luck than I did.

Useless Fact: K is for Korn, X is for King's X, and M is for Lynch Mob. Just in case that was keeping you up at night.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bowie, David - "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)"

Bowie, David - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
1980/1999, Parlophone

1. It's No Game (Part 1)
2. Up the Hill Backwards
3. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
4. Ashes To Ashes
5. Fashion
6. Teenage Wildlife
7. Scream Like a Baby
8. Kingdom Come
9. Because You're Young
10. It's No Game (Part 2)

If you’re a regular reader you might remember the Genesis Project from 2016. I had a lot of fun with that and I always meant to do a David Bowie Project. Unfortunately, life had other plans and I never got around to it. Despite Mr. Bowie not getting his own official project, I still wanted to do something because I needed an excuse to buy some Bowie albums. So this is a sort of David Bowie Project lite, if you will. I can’t guarantee a Bowie album every month – the release schedule is: you'll get 'em when we finish 'em. This is because I am doing something a little different – a team review with my friend Uvulapie! We’re going to trade off thoughts and see how it goes! I’ll go first –

The Old Man: First off, I admit Scary Monsters is probably a strange place to start. I have no defense except that “Ashes to Ashes” is one of my favorite Bowie songs and it’s on this album. It also has “Fashion,” which is another well known and well liked Bowie tune. So… here’s the thing. I like Scary Monsters, I really do. But I don’t love it. I’m not sure what my deal is. Maybe my expectations were too high. I was expecting to just be floored but I wasn’t, even though I liked what I heard. There are a couple songs I’m not wild about either, particularly “Kingdom Come” (which is a cover), “Up the Hill Backwards,” and “Teenage Wildlife.” On the other hand I loved “It’s no Game” (both parts), the title track, and “Scream Like a Baby.” Maybe I should have gone with a different album to start with?

Uvulapie: Scary Monsters is a great start for me because it was the first album where I became aware of David Bowie as an artist.  It was late 1980 and this new channel called MTV was on cable (yes, I’m about a decade older than The Old Man which makes me, what…  The Older Man?)  They played the video for “Ashes to Ashes” and as a kid I really liked monsters so the name of the album caught my eye.  And so did the video.  By today’s standards it’s laughably lo-fi but, being the consummate artist that he is, Bowie was able to create images that stuck in my brain for decades, images of ghostly clowns on some martian landscape.  But instead of following up on this Bowie fellow my fifth-grade self plunked his money down to get Love Stinks by J. Geils Band, a video that starts with a guy using two fish as drum sticks.  Which is all to say that I heartily approve of your choice.

The Old Man: First of all you’re not the “Older Man” you’re the…Ancient Man! Haha! Get it? Because you’re SO MUCH OLDER than me! *ahem* Anyway, I never got to see any of the videos from this album but there are plenty of pictures of Bowie in the clown costume in the liner notes of my version of the album. Here’s one random thing I noticed – Bowie’s vocals in “It’s No Game (Part I)” are pretty desperate and ragged. The vocals in “…Part II,” however, are far more restrained – as if the singer is just trying to get his bearings of the situation he’s in. I’ve wondered why put the desperate vocals first? It seems like we get the end of the story, then the beginning. Which, now that I think about it is a pretty David Bowie thing to do.

Uvulapie: BALDERDASH!  Actually I never even noticed the change in vocal tone so one point for The Old Man.  What I did notice were all the guitar noodlings of Robert Fripp.  ALL.  OF.  THEM.  In songs like “It’s No Game” which is one part song and three parts Fripp.  They’re also in “Up The Hill Backwards” which sounds like a sing-a-long that would be sung around a camp fire.  Enough with the Frippery, already!  On the plus side are the creepy wavering piano tones and the slap bass of “Ashes to Ashes”, the immensely urgent and memorable melody of “Fashion”,  the weird warped spoken parts of “Scream Like a Baby” (plus the cowbell), and the authentic jangly eighties synth vibe from the intro of “Because You're Young.”  And how can you not enjoy lyrics like “Little metal-faced boy / Don’t stay away.”   But I fear that I’m agreeing too much and we all know that dissension makes for more interesting reading.  So hey, Adam, “Teenage Wildlife” is da bomb!  How can you not like Bowie singing an incomplete song like a bored lounge singer?  That’s not laziness… that’s genius!

The Old Man: "Teenage Wildlife" is...long. Too long. Even though I think it does a good job of evoking 50's Americana, I just don't care for it. I'm not sure if it's the pacing or length or what. Though now that it's walking around in my head I feeling like listening to it again. Maybe my opinion will change? Anyway, the synths in "Because You're Young" are actually my least favorite part of that song! I noticed you'd didn't say anything about "Kingdom Come." I think if you said you liked it I'd have to drive to your house for a fist fight. Haha! Just kidding! (Sort of!) So all in all it seems Scary Monsters is a bit of a mixed bag. "Ashes to Ashes" will remain one of my favorite Bowie tracks of all time. However, as a whole it seems to leave a bit to be desired. It wasn't the complete revelation that I'd hoped it would be, but there's still plenty more Bowie to dig into.

Friday, April 6, 2018

BAND-MAID - "Just Bring It"

BAND-MAID - Just Bring It
2017, JPU

1. Don't you tell ME
2. Puzzle
3. Memoria
4. Yolo
5. Cross
6. Ooparts
7. Take Me Higher!!
8. So, What?
10. you.
11. Awkward
12. decided by myself
13. secret My lips

So I've known about Band Maid for a long time. Saw some You Tube videos about them around the time I was getting into Baby Metal. They were good and I always meant to check them out but never got around to it. I guess it took The Rock Critic to kind of kick me in the pants and get me to give them a closer look. Dude... they rock! Like... dang these women have chops. Insane leads, pounding bass, great drum work, and plenty of hooks. Just check out the opening lick in "Memoria" if you want an idea of what I'm talking about. Like I said about Baby Metal, I don't usually like foreign language music but this is too good for it to matter. I even like some of the more pop/rock tracks like "Ooparts" and "Awkward." The latter being one of my favorite tracks on the album, period. They've got a new album coming out this year as well and you bet I'm going to be getting that one too.

Useless Fact: The liner notes come with both the Japanese lyrics and an English translation. Very cool. Though, I ain't gonna lie - I'd give up the English lyrics for some pictures of the band.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Cooper, Alice - "The Last Temptation"

Cooper, Alice - The Last Temptation
1994, Epic

1. Sideshow
2. Nothing's Free
3. Lost In America
4. Bad Place Alone
5. You're My Temptation
6. Stolen Prayer
7. Unholy War
8. Lullaby
9. It's Me
10. Cleansed By Fire

The Last Temptation is Cooper's concept album about his conversion to Christianity. You'd think this would be right up my alley. Me too... like I'm surprised at how much this one just doesn't do too much for me. I like "Sideshow" and "Lost in America" a lot, but the rest of the album...meh. Not that I hate this album or anything, I'm just very neutral about it. Even Chris Cornell's appearance didn't do too much for me. Maybe it will grow on me over the years...

Useless Fact: There was a comic or graphic novel made to go along with the album. I remember seeing it somewhere but I don't think I ever owned it.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Taylor, Terry Scott - "A Briefing For the Ascent"

Taylor, Terry Scott - A Briefing For the Ascent
1987, Frontline

1. A Briefing For the Ascent
2. Somewhere to Elsewhere
3. Beyond the Wall of Sleep
4. The Wood Between the Worlds
5. Changeless
6. My Love, My Love
7. Wars of the Heart
8. Capture Me
9. Where Dreams Come True
10. Long, Long, Long
11. Prelude
12. Going Home

I missed this one the first time around - mostly because I was too young. I'm not sure what motivated me to check it out other than I love Terry Scott Taylor and I hadn't heard this one before. A Briefing For the Ascent is a meditation on death and the afterlife - something Taylor tends to revisit again and again. The music matches the theme being equal parts fifties dream-pop and Enya. It's kind of weird to hear this type of music coming from him. Even though Daniel Amos worked in lush synth soundscapes on the Alarma! Chronicles it seems different here. Very ethereal - again, much like Enya (who in '87 was just getting started with "Orinoco Flow," I think). Now I can't say this is one of my favorite platters from Taylor, but it's definitely unique.

Useless Fact: I'm told this album was inspired by the passing of Taylor's grandfather.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Guardian - "Fire and Love (Legends Remastered)"

Guardian - Fire and Love (Legends Remastered)
1990/2018, Retroactive

1. Power of Love
2. Send a Message
3. Time Stands Still
4. Forever and a Day
5. Takin' On the World
6. Fire and Love
7. Turnaround
8. Time and Time Again
9. The Rain
10. Never Say Goodbye
Bonus Track
11. Take Up Your Cross

I'm glad Retroactive remastered this one as my hard copy of the original suffered from CD rot. Sad, I know. Let that be a lesson, kids from ten years ago - never put your CDs in those big binders! Anywho, this remaster cleans up the sound a little makes the guitars sound a bit heavier. I mean, this album didn't need much help anyway because it was pretty stellar to begin with, but I did notice a difference. Remember what I said about the original vocalist for Guardian versus Jamie Rowe? Yeah... that's so much more apparent listening to First Watch and Fire and Love so close together. First Watch was pretty good, but with Fire and Love the band really came into their own and I think the Jamie's vocals had a lot to do with that. He's pretty distinctive and unique and fits the more commercial style of hard rock perfectly. If you've never listened to Guardian before, now's the perfect time!

Useless Fact: This version comes with a bonus track, "Take Up Your Cross," which was originally appeared on Larry Howard's Cornerstone Blues Jam from 1992. I remember I had that album but since I wasn't as much of a fan of blues I didn't listen to it much.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Marmozets - "Knowing What You Know Now"

Marmozets - Knowing What You Know Now
2018, Roadrunner

1. Play
2. Habits
3. Meant To Be
4. Major System Error
5. Insomnia
6. Lost In Translation
7. Start Again
8. Like a Battery
9. New Religion
10. Me & You
11. Suffocation
12. Run With The Rhythm

Man, I was a little worried about this band. After the stellar Weird and Wonderful I was hoping this band would have a nice long life. Then...nothing for awhile. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and here we are four or so years later with Knowing What You Know Now. Marmozets' sophomore release finds them doing more of the same intense, frenetic hard-edged alternative rock that I grew to love with the debut. However, I think they've dialed back the intensity and technicality just a notch in favor of a slightly more commercial sound. Becca has also changed her vocals a touch, affecting a sort of child-like cutesy-poo style in the slower songs "Insomnia" and "Me & You." It was slightly off-putting at first but I got used to it. She's also doing a bit less growling. It's a good album to be sure and continues on what the band built with their first album. So... the problem might be on my end. I like it. I do. I just... it's not sticking with me like the first one. Weird and Wonderful just dominated the playlist for a month or two. This one? I'm not as motivated to go back to it. I'm hoping this is temporary and I just haven't given it enough time to grow on me. I still totally recommend it and hopefully you'll take to it quicker than I have!

Useless Fact: Not a fact - more of a wonderment. As in, I wonder what the religious stance of the band is? Like... I don't know but they seem to have some basis of belief in something but beyond that I don't know. They've never talked about it in interviews that I've seen so I'm just kind of going with my gut here.