Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cocteau Twins - "Heaven Or Las Vegas"

Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas
1990, 4ad

1. Cherry-Coloured Funk
2. Pitch the Baby
3. Iceblink Luck
4. Fifty Fifty Clown
5. Heaven Or Las Vegas
6. I Wear Your Ring
7. Fotzepolitic
8. Wolf in the Breast
9. Road, River, and Rail
10. Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires

Cocteau Twins is a band that's sort of been floating out there in the ether for a long time. I've heard the name from people whose music I love or whose opinions I respect. I never really checked them out before but not for any particular reason. However, I found Heaven Or Las Vegas at Goodwill for a dollar and decided it was time to check them out. What cinched the deal was the year it was produced: 1990. 1990 was, in my opinion, a fantastic year for music. Upon listening I could immediately tell which band the Cocteau Twins had a profound influence on - The Choir. The Twins make swirly, dreamy, atmospheric alternative music. It's evocative and unique. The female vocalist is light and airy as well, sometimes singing in English and other times singing in... French? Italian? Nonsense? I can't really tell but I can discern only about thirty percent of the lyrics here. From what I've read this was their most successful release.

Useless Fact: There are no actual twins in the Cocteau Twins. I checked.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sacred Warrior - "Waiting in Darkness"

Sacred Warrior - Waiting in Darkness
2013, Independent

1. Desperately Wicked
2. Waiting in Darkness
3. Sinking Sand
4. In Dust and Ashes
5. Fallen Hero
6. Fear Me
7. Long Live the King
8. Jealous Love
9. Living Sacrifice
10. Day of the Lord
11. Temples On Fire

Add Sacred Warrior to the list of old Christian bands who released albums in 2013! Waiting in Darkness is a little different in that longtime vocalist Rey Perra has been replaced by Eli Prinsen. While I think Rey was an integral part of the band's sound, Eli does a great job as his replacement. He's got a powerhouse voice that fits with the Sacred Warrior sound. He can do the highs and the lows all with style. I will say that on the album's ballad, "Jealous Love" he does sound a bit... um... "Josh Groban-y." Just a bit. I'm sad to say that I haven't really been able to get into this album as much. Part of this is the production which is kind of muddy and noisy. Also, it seems like the songs just aren't as strong. Some of them almost seem like an old man who's told a story but after the gist of the story just won't shut up. This is especially true of the first two songs. "Waiting in Darkness" has a great tight sound and a good hook, but then it goes into this bridge part and never really resolves. My favorite song is probably "Fear Me." I'd also like to talk about the lyrics for a second. They seem kind of angry, condemnatory, and judgmental. I know that was standard fair back in the day but I just have a problem with calling people fools because they don't have the same faith as me. A lot of other fans really dig this album, but for me it was merely okay.

Useless Fact: The album contains re-records of "Day of the Lord" from Rebellion and "Temples On Fire" from Obsessions. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Petty, Tom - "Full Moon Fever"

Petty, Tom - Full Moon Fever
1989, MCA

1. Free Falling
2. I Won't Back Down
3. Love Is a Long Road
4. A Face in the Crowd
5. Runnin' Down a Dream
6. Feel a Whole Lot Better
7. Yer So Bad
8. Depending On You
9. The Apartment Song
10. Alright For Now
11. A Mind With a Heart of Its Own
12. Zombie Zoo

While I never had the entire Full Moon Fever album, the singles really, really take me back. They remind me of a particular time in my life when my entire day consisted of church, watching MTV, listening to music, playing Nintendo, and reading Nintendo Power. I had absolutely no responsibilities other than "stay out of trouble" and "don't burn the house down." Fine, fun times. "Free Falling" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" were played endlessly on MTV. They're also played on the radio stations a lot down here in Georgia and each time it activates my nostalgia chip. For whatever reason I never saw fit to buy the entire album as a lad. After my dalliance with Greatest Hits I naturally defaulted to Full Moon Fever on my quest to find more Tom Petty. People, if the singles are all you hear from this album you are missing out. The entire CD is full of finely crafted pop rock with stellar musicianship and catchy hooks. As tend to be the case when I research an artist, my favorite tracks aren't even the singles. "Yer So Bad" and "The Apartment Song" are two of shining examples. As is "Alright For Now" which is a beautiful acoustic ballad - I didn't even know Tom Petty did that kind of thing.

Useless Fact: George Harrison and Roy Orbison both lent their considerable talents to the making of this album. Some fans even refer to this as Traveling Wilburies Vol 2. (Traveling Wilburies being the supergroup comprised of Petty, Harrison, Orbison, Bob Dylan and someone else whose name escapes me.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bloodgood - "Dangerously Close"

Bloodgood - Dangerously Close 
2013, Independent

1. Lamb of God
2. Run Away
3. Child on Earth
4. I Will
5. Bread Alone
6. Pray
7. I Can Hold On
8. Run the Race
9. Father Father
10. Man in the Middle
11. Crush Me
12. In the Trenches

Bloodgood is back! Dangerously Close has been out for awhile now so a lot of people have already reviewed it. Everything you may have heard about this album is true. The band has not lost any of the passion or talent in the twenty-some odd years since All Stand Together. Vocalist Les Carlson's vocals are surprisingly good. Usually older singers just can't belt it out like they used to. Not Les, though. While his voice has aged a bit it's in a good way. He sounds more seasoned and wise and can still hit the high notes when it counts. Also, Michael Bloodgood's bass playing is more upfront than just about any Bloodgood record I've ever heard ("I Can Hold On" being the primary example). He's got a great melodic style and I'm glad it's featured more prominently as some of the old albums barely have any bass to speak of. It's also nice to hear some good old-fashioned Jesus metal lyrics. It seems like I haven't heard straight-up Christian lyrics in forever. My only complaint is that the album closer, "In the Trenches" seems to end prematurely - like they ran out of tape or something. The vocal line doesn't resolve itself like you'd expect and the album just sort of... ends.

Useless Fact: Dangerously Close was another Kickstarter funded release. Kickstarter seems to be the place to go for old Christian bands to record new albums.