Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mad at the World - "Flowers in the Rain"

Mad at the World - Flowers in the Rain
1988, Frontline

1. Fearfully & Wonderfully
2. Flowers in the Rain
3. Why?
4. Puppet Strings
5. No Mistakes
6. Wait
7. I Don't Wanna Go There
8. Faith is a Perfect Road
9. In My Dream
10. Love Light in the Midnight
11. This Lie
12. Dancing On Your Grave

Since I first got into Mad at the World with Boomerang I never listened to Flowers in the Rain...until now! Actually I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The band starts to add some more hard rock elements to their sound on this record previewing what would happen with Seasons of Love. It seems like for the first half of the album they do a techno-pop song, then do a rock song, then back to a pop song. On the second half of the album they seem to combine both approaches and these are the songs that I find more compelling. I love tracks like "In My Dream" and "This Lie." It almost makes me wish they would have experimented a little bit more with this type of techno/rock fusion - it was quite interesting. There are some cheesy lyrics here and there but nothing that turned me off the music. Probably the biggest problem with this disc is the wafer thin production. The sound of the guitars is so thin they're barely audible. Also, it sounds like there's almost no bass to speak of. This kind of electronic music needs a little more bass I say. Glad I finally checked this out!

Useless Fact: It looks like Rose brother Ray is actually featured as a member on this album. That makes three Rose brothers on an MATW disc - a record, I believe.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Haven - "Your Dying Day"

Haven - Your Dying Day
1990/2012, Retroactive

1. On Judgement Day
2. Deliver Me
3. Murder
4. Below the Grave
5. The Calling
6. America
7. Escape
8. Help Me Follow
9. I Found Love
10. Your Dying Day

For some reason or another I never really cared for Haven's debut. I can't put a finger on exactly why, I just know that it didn't really hold my interest. I think part of the reason is the original production which makes the music seem "far away" - if that makes any sense. My mind wanders and before long I'm writing stories in my head and not really listening to the music. Speaking of which it's power metal. It's not bad either though tracks like "Deliver Me" and "Murder" just reek of early Queensryche - especially in vocalist Kevin Ayers' lower register. His vibrato can get a little over-the-top silly, particularly in "America." I like it okay but I definitely prefer Age of Darkness to this one. As you can guess by the CD cover the theme of this album is: YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!!! Okay, there's a more to it than that but the old Christian metal scare tactics are in full-force here. Though it's because of this album that I still remember certain passages in Revelation. In fact, most of the Scripture I remember to this day were lyrics to Christian metal songs.

This album was re-issued by M8 way back in the day and included extra tracks and what not. I believe it was titled Straight From the Cutting Room Floor. Also, as I understand it the mastering was WORSE than it was on the original. Retroactive reissued this album in 2012, which is the version I have. It has been completely remastered by J. Powell at Steinhaus. I tell you the truth, the sound is leaps and bounds better. You're no longer listening to a tinny, muddy album from a mile away. Everything is crisp, clean, and up front. I definitely enjoyed this album a lot more with the improved mastering. I was a little disappointed with the packaging. It's a cheap digipak with no insert whatsoever. Phooey!

A little story/rant: I had a friend who saw this tape in the Christian bookstore and begged his mom to get it for him. She didn't because she didn't like the cover or didn't like the idea of metal or whatever. Later, when my friend had a little more independence he got into Nirvana and Pearl Jam and all that. He won't touch Christian music with a ten foot pole now. What's funny is that this same mother relents that her son doesn't want to listen to any Christian music. Way to go mom! I'm so thankful to my mom for always supporting my music tastes.

Useless Fact: Be careful when searching for Haven CDs online. There's a British pop band by the same name that's released several albums.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Music Musings: My Dream Project

Hey everyone!

Today I'm going to let you inside my head for a bit. Scary, I know. This may surprise you but I do a lot of thinking about music. I often rewrite songs in my head, assign new projects to vocalists, and dream up concept albums. Since today is a rather slow day and I don't have anything else to do I'll let you in on one of my "dream projects."

Concept Album about Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection.

I'm aware that this has actually been done before. A bunch of people got together and did Hero which I believe was a rock opera featuring Christian music's best and brightest. Michael Tait (DC Talk) played the part of Jesus. Mine would be a lot different. First, it would be a LOT heavier but progressive - like an Ayreon CD but with more heavy. Secondly, it would feature both Christian and non-Christian talent. I don't have a set cast list but here's what I've been thinking.

Mary - Hayley Williams (Paramore): I picked Hayley for Mary because she's young and has proven to me that she can tackle a wider range of styles and emotions than "angsty." Though to be honest having to birth the Son of God might make anyone angsty so there's another point for her.

John the Baptist - Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian): I love Hansi's voice and think he would be perfect to play the voice in the wilderness.

Zechariah - Terry Scott Taylor (DA, Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs): Our friend Terry would have one good song, namely, "Benedictus." It would be soft, acoustic, moving, and beautiful all at the same time. It would perfectly capture the mood of someone able to die feeling fulfilled.

Herod - Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine): We need somebody nice and bombastic for Herod. I think Eric fits the bill nicely.

Jesus - Jimmy P. Brown, II (Deliverance, Jupiter VI): As a huge fan of the D I'm convinced that Jimmy has the passion and pathos to voice the Savior.

Peter - Damien Wilson (ex-Threshold, Star One): Damien's voice is another one of those that just gives me chills every time I hear it. I think he's got the gusto to match Peter's strong emotions yet the ability to also reflect Peter's regrets.

John - Dug Pinnick (King's X): Because we need some soul up in this joint.

Judas - Roger Rose (ex-Mad at the World): I was going to pick Randy Rose for this spot but I thought that might be a little too predictable. Randy's Morrison-esque voice would be too obvious. I think Roger's more sensitive vocal style would be a little more interesting also, let's be honest here, Roger can handle hard rock vocals just fine.

Mary Magdalene - Anneke Van Giersbergen (Various Ayreons): Anneke could provide a sensitive and quiet counterpoint to Jimmy's emotion, but she can also belt it out when the time is right.

Pontius Pilate - Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria): Claudio the vocalist spends most of his time question his place in the world as Claudio the character. Who better to as the question "What is truth?"

Satan - Devin Townsend (Devin Townsend Project) and Steve Rowe (Mortification): Do I really need to go into why these two would be perfect for the part? Satan's voice would be layered with Devin handling the higher register and Steve's old school death metal growl handling the lower register.

The Magi - Joey Belladonna (ex-Anthrax), James Hetfield (Metallica), and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth): I admit this one's a little silly but I find the idea of three of the "Big Four" lending their voices to the Magi to be too awesome not to consider. Heck, if he's up for it we can throw in Tom Araya (Slayer) too.

That's all the vocalists I have spots for in my head. As for musicians we'll have Rex Carroll (ex- Whitecross) for the facemelters because he's the MAN. We'll also have John Scheaffer (Iced Earth) on tap for some of those super-fast thrash riffs. Oh yeah, we'll need Derri Daugherty (The Choir) for the ambient stuff. We'll have Ryan Van Pooderuyan (or however you spell it) on the drums. Tim Chandler will be providing the bass on the more melodic parts and we'll go ahead and let Steve Rowe handle the bass on the heavier parts. We'll need a keyboard guy too but since I don't really have a favorite you'll have to think up your own.

There you have it. Feel free to post your own suggestions if you have any!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - "The Essential 'Weird Al' Yankovic"

Yankovic, "Weird Al" - The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic
2009, Sony

Disc One:
1. Another One Rides the Bus
2. Polkas on 45
3. Eat It
4. I Lost on Jeopardy
5. Yoda
6. One More Minute
7. Like a Surgeon
8. Dare to be Stupid
9. Dog Eat Dog
10. Lasagna
11. Melanie
12. Fat
13. UHF
14. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
15. Trigger Happy
16. Smells Like Nirvana
17. You Don't Love Me Anymore
18. Bedrock Anthem
19. Frank's 2000" TV
20. Jurassic Park

Disc Two:
1. Since You've Been Gone
2. Amish Paradise
3. Gump
4. Everything You Know is Wrong
5. The Night Santa Went Crazy
6. Your Horoscope For Today
7. It's All About the Pentiums
8. The Saga Begins
9. Albuquerque
10. Ebay
11. Bob
12. Hardware Store
13. I'll Sue Ya
14. Canadian Idiot
15. Pancreas
16. Don't Download This Song
17. White & Nerdy
18. Trapped in the Drive-Thru

So the other day I was listening to the new "Weird Al" song, "Perform This Way" (a parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way), and I had a startling revalation. I said to myself, "Self, we have no 'Weird Al' in our collection!" to which my self replied, "By golly gosh darn, we don't! We should remedy that, post haste." Thusly I went to Walmart and got this, the "Essential" "Weird Al." I've always been a big fan of "Weird Al" and I think he's a lot more talented an artist than he's really given credit for. This collection has most of his more famous parodies like "Fat," "Eat It," "Amish Paradise" and the like. It's also got some of his originals - it's a good balance between the two I think.

The liner notes suggest that when "Weird Al" is at his best when not doing a parody and I have to agree. Some of my favorite songs on here are originals. "Trigger Happy," "Melanie," "You Don't Love Me Anymore," and "Everything You Know is Wrong" are all songs I love. I like a lot of these more than the parodies. Just listen to a complicated song like "Hardware Store" and try to tell me Al isn't a genius. Listening to this collection actually makes me want to go out and get some of these albums that I had when I was younger because I really remember enjoying them.

Useless Fact: The same four guys have been in Al's band since the 80's. That's longer than most bands out there now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whitecross - "Hammer and Nail"

Whitecross - Hammer and Nail
1988, Pure Metal

1. Living on the Edge
2. When the Walls Tumble Down
3. The Hammer and the Nail
4. Take it to the Limit
5. Walk With Me
6. Because of Jesus
7. When the Clock Strikes
8. Resist Him
9. Living in a Lost World
10. Top of the World

Ah, yes... Whitecross. I sure do loves me some classic Whitecross. When fans talk about their favorite Whitecross album they usually mention Triumphant Return or this one. While I generally prefer the former I can't blame anyone for loving Hammer and Nail. This is pure, slick LA Glam metal that totally rocks the house. Rex Carroll's guitar is a delight to the ears no matter how you cut it. Most of the songs have a mid-groove swagger about them. I admit that "Walk With Me" is not my favorite ballad from these guys, but hey, can't win 'em all, right? This disc is out of print and pretty hard to find these days. I scored mine at a little used CD shop while on vacation in my hometown.

Useless Fact: I have no fact for this record.