Monday, March 28, 2016

Panic! At The Disco - "Death of a Bachelor"

Panic! At The Disco - Death of a Bachelor
2016, Fueled By Ramen

1. Victorious
2. Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time
3. Hallelujah
4. Emperor's New Clothes
5. Death of a Bachelor
6. Crazy = Genius
7. LA Devotee
8. Golden Days
9. The Good, The Bad, and the Dirty
10. House of Memories
11. Impossible Year

Well, I thought I was pretty much done with Panic! after their last album. Boy, was that a stinker. Ugh! So when I heard they had a new one I really didn't pay it any mind. However, The Rock Critic on You Tube gave it a favorable review and he is one of the few people whose reviews I trust. My wife wanted it too, so that helped. I am happy and relieved to say that Death of a Bachelor is way better than Too Weird to Live, Too Rare To Die. Whereas that album sounded like a warmed-over Fall Out Boy record, this one sounds alive and vibrant. Brandon Urie is the sole member of the band at this point but the songs are so much more interesting. The hooks are better and Brandon's vocals are just amazing here. He's really giving it his all. I especially like it when he slows it down just a little bit and puts a little Frank Sinatra in his performance. Some of the vaudeville influences from their debut album show up too, which I appreciate. I always thought that made them stand out more. Not to say this album is a return to A Fever You Can't Sweat Out because it's not, but you can hear it a little bit in songs like "Crazy = Genius" and "Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time." I'm glad that the last album was a misstep instead of a downward spiral.

Useless Fact: The album's title comes from the fact that Brandon Urie was getting married. Thus, no longer a bachelor.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Genesis Project - "Invisible Touch"

Genesis - Invisible Touch
1986, Atlantic

1. Invisible Touch
2. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
3. Land of Confusion
4. In Too Deep
5. Anything She Does
6. Domino
7. Throwing It All Away
8. The Brazilian

“Land of Confusion.”


That’s pretty much the best way to start this write up. That song was my first real exposure to Genesis. I’d heard songs from them here and there but never knew it was Genesis until much later. MTV was in full swing and I was just conscious enough to be aware of what was on television. The video for that song was surreal, creepy, and frightening. It was awesome. The song itself is excellent too, mixing a great hook with a sense of urgency that perfectly matches the mood of the lyrics. It’s one of those times when the video and the song went together like chocolate and peanut butter. The video still holds up today in terms of quality, though most people wouldn’t recognize most of the puppets.

It should go without saying that at the time Invisible Touch was released, the band was on top of the world. They were doing world tours and selling out stadiums. They were in constant rotation on MTV. Oh, did I not mention they had a slew of videos from this album? They did. This is the most popular they would ever be. For the most part, all the progressive snobs that loved the Gabriel era of the band had given up on Genesis, thinking they’d just made lazy music for the masses.

That’s a shame, because Invisible Touch is a dang fine pop album. I love it when progressive musicians do pop albums. Like when Devin Townsend did his prog/pop/rock masterpieces,  Addicted and Epicloud. There is a stark contrast between pop music made by amazing musicians and pop music made by one trollop and five “producers.” This particular album was written by three men – Phill Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks. That’s it. They are extremely talented musicians and it shows, even when they are not writing ten-minute songs about aliens or whatever.

Though there is a ten minute song on here, “Domino”. Yeah, I guess the guys can’t totally exorcise their progressive past. Aside from the eight minute “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” the rest of the songs stick within the radio friendly three to four minute range. They are mostly all great, catchy pop songs. The album does sound a bit dated, but it was the Eighties after all. There is just one little problem…

“I know I love ya but I’m in too deep…”

Now this isn’t a terrible song, but it is definitely the most boring. Ballads don’t have to be boring but it feels as though the band looked at their seven amazing songs and realized they didn’t have a ballad, so they crapped out “In Too Deep” in an afternoon. When you hear someone go on and on about how far Genesis fell, they usually cite this track as exhibit A. While the band was no stranger to sappy balladry, “In Too Deep,” marks the start of a problem the band will have with its next album, We Can’t Dance. We’ll get into that in a few months.

However, as it stands – one mediocre ballad aside – Invisible Touch is an excellent album. It’s a time capsule of sorts and quite rewarding for those who are willing to forgive it’s complete Eighties-ness. It’s not trying to be a progressive rock album, it’s trying to be a pop album. I’m happy to say it succeeds brilliantly. Don’t be a hater, good tunes is good tunes.

Final Score: 4.5

Useless Fact: Tony Banks admitted in interviews for the reissue of this album that writing a three minute pop song was a lot harder for him than something progressive. He says everything in the pop song has to be right immediately and there’s no room to breathe.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Megadeth - "Dystopia"

Megadeth - Dystopia 
2016, T-Boy

1. The Threat Is Real
2. Dystopia
3. Fatal Illusion
4. Death From Within
5. Bullet To The Brain
6. Post American World
7. Poisonous Shadows
8. Conquer Or Die!
9. Lying In State
10. The Emperor
11. Foreign Policy

Wow...well...I guess Dave Mustaine took the criticisms of Super Collider to heart because Dystopia is a lean, mean, thrash machine! Seriously, this is probably the heaviest and thrashiest album of the band's latter period. I would also go as far to say as it's one of the best of their career. The band is on the top of their game here with solid heavy riffs. The guitar tones here are a lot meatier and thicker than they've ever been. Couple that with a bit more modern production and...whoa...heavy. We've even got some throwback acoustic passages and a full on thrash instrumental in "Conquer or Die!" I will say that some of Dave's lyrics are kind of pushing the boundary into crazy paranoia conspiracy theory. Granted that's always kind of been his style but, honestly, the man has been able to make crazy paranoid music for decades - maybe the system is not after him, y'know? Anyway, it's good to see the band back with a fierce thrash album that could be a contender for a pick of the year!

Useless Fact: "Foreign Policy" is a cover but I don't know who did the original. Probably my least favorite song on the album and not one of their better covers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Vanden Plas - "Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld, Path Two"

Vanden Plas - Chronicles of the Immortals: Netherworld, Path Two
2015, Frontiers

1. Vision 11even * In My Universe
2. Vision 12elve * Godmaker's Temptation
3. Vision 13teen * Stone Roses Edge
4. Vision 14teen * Blood of Eden
5. Vision 15teen * Monster
6. Vision 16teen * Diabolica Comedia
7. Vision 17teen * Where Have The Children Gone
8. Vision 18teen * The Last Fight
9. Vision 19teen * Circle of the Devil

I didn't even know that part two of Vanden Plas' musical extravaganza had even come out. I liked the last one alright so I made it a point to finish out the series. It's pretty similar to the first one. The band is still more interested in making these sprawling epics than albums, but like the last one, has enough to hold my interest even if the story is incomprehensible. I especially like "Monster" which almost has a bit of a commercial feel to it. Okay, now that we're done with the epic, could you guys maybe dial it back a bit and just make a solid album?

Useless Fact: I guess the story has something to do with vampires? Like I said, I have no idea.