Sunday, September 23, 2012

O.S.I. - "Fire Make Thunder"

O.S.I. - Fire Make Thunder
2012, Metal Blade

1. Cold Call
2. Guards
3. Indian Curse
4. Enemy Prayer
5. Wind Won't Howl
6. Big Chief II
7. For Nothing
8. Invisible Men

O.S.I. started as a side project of ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore and then drummer Mike Portnoy. They've released several albums of which Fire Make Thunder is the latest. It was another purchase I made on vacation and out of all the music I bought I think this is my favorite. O.S.I. are a progressive rock/electronica hybrid that reminds me a bit of Passafist in a way (i.e. it's a bit more rock side than the industrial side). Kevin Moore's subtle vocal delivery almost reminds me of Dave Matthews or Mumford and Sons sometimes. It's certainly unique and interesting. I'm going to have to check out more of this band's back catalog soon!

Oh, funny story, I was listening to this in the car with my wife and daughter when "For Nothing" came on. Lexi did not like it. She said it made her "sad." She actually requested that we listen to Sixpence None The Richer (which has become one of her favorite CDs). She's two, by the way.

Useless Fact: The intro to "Cold Call" features a broadcast by a station in Fort Wayne, IN. There was a miscommunication somewhere and the station was reporting an emergency when there wasn't one. Fort Wayne, for my faithful readers, is where I went to college and learned how to make large lists of nouns.

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Momma Wrote a Book...

... and you should go buy it!

I'm really proud of my mom for getting this one out the door. I remember when we were just kicking around the idea of her writing this and now it's in print!

When All Else Fails is a romance about two people who've lives have been wrung through the ringer. Two people for whom defeat always seemed to be snapped out of the jaws of victory. For whom it seemed life itself had it out for them. How do they find each other? Is love really possible for these broken human beings? And seriously, what's with all the dancing?

All these questions and more are answered in When All Else Fails by Elaine Sherwood!

Available now!

Buy a physical copy of When All Else Fails by Elaine Sherwood


How about the Kindle version?

Yes, I know this has nothing to do with music. I don't care! This is my momma! Now stop asking stupid questions and buy her book!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

In Flames - "Sounds of a Playground Fading"

In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading
2011, Century

1. Sounds of a Playground Fading
2. Deliver Us
3. All of Me
4. The Puzzle
5. Fear is the Weakness
6. Where the Dead Ships Dwell
7. The Attic
8. Darker Times
9. Ropes
10. Enter Tragedy
11. The Jester's Door
12. A New Dawn
13. Liberation

Sounds of a Playground Fading was another vacation purchase. From the samples I listened too I was really impressed at the melodies and the riffs. I think In Flames was more of a metalcore/death metal band but on this album they boarder on old-school thrash. The vocals do have a hard core influence but they don't get on my nerves like most hardcore vocals. While I really enjoyed this on my first few listens, I found that I didn't want to go back to it as much. I have no idea why though. It's not bad - I just don't feel like listening to it. I will say that the production is a bit loud. The guitars are down-tuned and sometimes they're so low that you can't really hear the riffs. The album is full of good hooks though and still sounds pretty commercial despite the heaviness. Hopefully, I'll get over whatever bug I have up my butt about this album and start to enjoy it more. Cool cover art, by the way!

Useless Fact: One of this band's past albums was called Whoracle. I'm sure it was a concept album but I have no idea what is about. With a name like that the mind can only wonder!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sixpence None the Richer - "Lost in Transition"

Sixpence None the Richer - Lost in Transition
2012, Tyger Jim

1. My Dear Machine
2. Radio
3. Give It Back
4. Safety Line
5. When You Call Me
6. Should Not Be This Hard
7. Go Your Way
8. Failure
9. Don't Blame Yourself
10. Stand My Ground
11. Sooner Than Later
12. Be OK
Bonus Track
13. I Do

All I have to say is:

It's. About. Friggin'. Time.

Seriously. This album has been done since 2010 and has been sitting on the shelf for two years! You'll recall that this albums lack of release has been on my "Disappointments" year end lists. Finally, miraculously, it's here. Is it worth the wait? Sure is. I like it a lot. It's not quite as awesome as I was expecting but it's still a fine release with great songs. They've used three tunes from the My Dear Machine EP and they sound the same for the most part. The rest of the album has some great hooks with a little country flavor. Not annoying modern country, mind you, but real country. Leigh Nash has said that artists like Patsy Cline have influenced her since the inception of the band and that influence comes to the fore here. It's more than just shoe-horning in a pedal steel here and there too. Some of the vocal melodies seem to be cut from the bygone era of female country and western singers. It's just enough to give the album a little spice and flip on my nostalgia chip.

Unfortunately, it's not a perfect album. The song "Failure" is kind of boring to me. Also, the album seems a bit light. I think part of the reason is the short length of the songs. Leigh herself said this album tries to focus more on the songs themselves instead of instrumentation. Each song comes in, does its thing, and leaves. I kind of wish they would have slowed down a bit and explored the songs a little more - let them breathe. Despite those complaints, I really do like disc a lot and I'm so happy that it's finally seen the light of day. I hope this is the start of a new era.

One rant before I finish. The band has gotten a lot of press for this album. I even saw a little blurb in Entertainment Weekly. This made me very happy. What disappointed me was that they said the band had moved away from their "sugary pop" past or some nonsense. In fact, every single thing I read about the band talks about how they've strayed from their pop roots. People, let's get this straight. SIXPENCE WAS NEVER A HAPPY POP BAND. EVER. They were ponderous and melancholy from the very beginning (you know, their first album with the happy, shiny title The Fatherless and the Widow). They didn't produce "singles" they produced albums that were meant to be listened to as a whole. "Kiss Me" wasn't even supposed to be on the self-titled album and neither was "There She Goes." These are the black sheep in the Sixpence library. It just really irritates me that people judge the new album based on those two songs.

Useless Fact: "Give It Back" was originally called "Amazing Grace (Give It Back)." "Sooner Than Later" is about the death of Leigh's father. Also, the album was originally called Strange Conversation.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Iced Earth - "Dystopia"

Iced Earth - Dystopia
2011, Century

1. Dystopia
2. Anthem
3. Boiling Point
4. Anguish of Youth
5. V
6. Dark City
7. Equilibrium
8. Days of Rage
9. End of Innocence
10. Tragedy and Triumph

"I though you didn't like Iced Earth?" asked my wife after she found out I bought this CD. I had to inform her that that wasn't true. I like Iced Earth just fine when they're singing about something interesting. I've always loved Jon Schaffer's warp-speed riffs. Anyway, I was on vacation with some cash burning a hole in my pocket and I bought this. Dystopias, huh? Well... that could be interesting. As you can guess, the theme of this album concerns various dystopias in pop culture from V for Vendetta ("V") to Dark City ("Dark City"... duh). It definitely leans toward "book report" lyrics though. There's nothing here that's terribly thought provoking or memorable but nothing bad or cheesy either. Although Jon has some fascination with single mothers on this disc because they're mentioned in, like, three separate songs. The music is just alright as well. There are a lot of mid-paced songs which made me sad because, as I said, Jon is the master of super-fast picking. There are a couple of fast tracks ("Boiling Point" and "Days of Rage" specifically) but not as much as I would have hoped. New vocalist Stu Block does an admirable job on vocals. He sounds like a cross between Matt Barlow (in the lower register) and Tim "Ripper" Owens (in the upper register). Nothing to complain about there. Frankly, Dystopia is a perfectly pleasant metal album but it's nothing ground-breaking.

So... here's an update. I wrote the above a long time ago. I recently gave this one another shot because I've been reading how people say it's one of their best. Well... yes. They are correct. This is way better than I originally gave it credit for. I'm not sure what my problem was. Oh, and I also don't know where I got the whole "single mother" thing - it's just in "Anthem." Though I may have just assumed "Anguish of Youth" was about that too. Ugh! I'm keeping this up here, but I'm a little embarrassed. Oh well...  I like it plenty now!

Useless Fact: There is a special edition of this album with some extra tracks: "Soylent Green," "Iron Will," and another mix of "Anthem."