Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lady Gaga - "ARTPOP"

Lady Gaga - ARTPOP
2013, Interscope

1. Aura
2. Venus
3. G.U.Y.
4. Sexxx Dreams
5. Jewels N' Drugs
6. Manicure
7. Do What U Want
8. Artpop
9. Swine
10. Donatella
11. Fashion!
12. Mary Jane Holland
13. Dope
14. Gypsy
15. Applause

Remember way back when I said that there may be more to Lady Gaga than people think? Yeah... I'm pretty sure I was wrong about that. All I have to say is: thank goodness this is better than Born This Way. It's a little bit of a return to The Fame with simple songs about sex... and drugs... and fashion. I also like the catchy electronic/synth-type stuff that made me like her debut so much. Another feature of this album is the dub-step influence in many of the songs. Not that I mind, there's enough melody in here to make it interesting. I will say I absolutely HATE "Jewels N' Drugs" because it's a rap song. The exact kind of rap that I despise. It's completely out of place on this album. Anyway, nothing here is really groundbreaking but it's still infectious and Lady Gaga's still one of the best singers in pop music today. Let's round this out with some observations:

"Do What U Want" is a duet with R. Kelly in which Lady Gaga tells him he can do anything he wants with her body. I'm not really sure that's the person you want to tell that to. Several of these songs appeared on Lady Gaga's Holiday Spectacular (which starred the Muppets). It tanked in the ratings. Probably because the venn diagram intersection of "people who like Lady Gaga" and "people who like the Muppets" includes four people - five at most. Two of those people are my wife and I. Finally, I have the censored Walmart version (because we were there and that's what they had). I find it hilarious that people think you can clean up a song like "Sexxx Dreams" just by removing the word "sex."

Useless Fact: ARTPOP was also inspired by the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods. The sexy ones at any rate. Oh, and that picture on the cover is actually a statue that someone made. And did you know that up to five people wrote some of these songs?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

LaBrie, James - "Impermanent Resonance"

LaBrie, James - Impermanent Resonance
2013, Inside Out

1. Agony
2. Undertow
3. Slight of Hand
4. Back On the Ground
5. I Got You
6. Holding On
7. Lost in the Fire
8. Letting Go
9. Destined To Burn
10. Say You're Still Mine
11. Amnesia
12. I Will Not Break
Bonus Tracks:
13. Why
14. Unraveling

Years ago I bought James LaBrie's first solo album, Elements of Persuasion. I remember liking the first two songs and no others. However, some kind (or evil, I guess... depending on your perspective) soul posted LaBrie's new album on You Tube in its entirety. I listened... and boy did I like. I put in on my Christmas list post haste. This is a lot different from Dream Theater. It's not progressive at all - these tunes are very radio friendly with lots of hooks and melodies. It's also pretty heavy as well with some great riffs and good production. I honestly think LaBrie's performance on this album is better than on the new self-titled Dream Theater.

Useless Fact: I guess "Why" and "Unraveling" were bonus tracks on the European version. Somehow I got them even though I think I have the American version. It also annoys me when question asking song titles don't have question marks.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Deliverance - "Hear What I Say!"

Deliverance - Hear What I Say!
2013, 3Frogz

1. Liber 111(Intro)
2. Annals of Subterfuge
3. Angst
4. Hope Lies Beyond
5. Detox
6. Nude
7. Passing
8. A Perfect Sky
9. Where Eagles Dare
10. Entgiftung (German Version of "Detox")

I am so happy Deliverance's last album finally saw the light of day. If you'll remember, the big D has planned a new album since 2010. It was originally supposed to be called The Annuls of Subterfuge, and a return to the band's old thrash roots. However, it was cancelled some years later only to be resurrected in 2013 as Hear What I Say! It's been billed as the band's official "last album" (though that's been said before!) but instead of a thrash album it's got a lot more variety. It's almost a celebration of all the different eras of the band. The first two tracks, "Annuls" and "Angst" are prime thrash cuts while songs like "Hope Lies Beyond" have a definite River Disturbance vibe. Both "Detox" and "Nude" have a sound not unlike Learn. There are even some shades of Camelot here and there. "A Perfect Sky" is notable for being an acoustic ballad featuring only Jimmy's voice and guitar. "Where Eagles Dare" is an Iron Maiden cover that the band pulls off with style. As a whole the album rocks and will please fans of the band who appreciate all of their material. If you're only into Weapons well... get over yourself! There are awesome songs on here and it all truly sounds like Deliverance. I've always thought there was something "off" about As Above - So Below musically - like I'm wearing my shoes on the wrong feet while I'm listening. There's no such feeling here. As a bonus, the production is excellent and the mighty Jayson Sherlock (formerly of Mortification and Paramaecium) provides the drumming. It sure is a pleasure to listen to that man drum again!

The only problem with Hear What I Say! is that it's just too darn short. Not counting the intro, the cover, and the German version of "Detox" there's only seven new songs here. "Hope Lies Beyond" is actually a cover from an indie band called Sombrance bringing the total to six. I really wish there could have been a couple more tracks here. It seems like "Annals" and "Angst" were from the Annals album sessions, while the rest of the tracks are newer. On the other hand, Jimmy has never been one to fill a CD up with songs just because he can.

One final thought regarding the cover art. I wonder if Jimmy feels like being in Deliverance has stifled his creativity or his real self. The guy's gag has the D papal cross logo on it. I know Jimmy has felt in the past as though he's had to pretend to be someone he's not in order to keep the band running. Maybe I'm reading too much into it...

Useless Fact: No lyrics in the liner notes? *sigh* I has a sad. They are up on the band's website, however.