Thursday, March 30, 2017

Starflyer 59 - "Gold (Extended Edition)"

Starflyer 59 - Gold (Extended Edition)
1995/2005, Tooth & Nail

1. A Housewife Love Song
2. Dual Overhead Cam
3. When You Feel Miserable
4. You're Mean
5. Stop Wasting Your Whole Life/Messed Up and Down
6. Messed Up Over You
7. When You Feel the Mess
8. Somewhere When Your Heart Glowed the Hope
9. Indiana
10. Do You Ever Feel That Way?
11. One Shot Juanita
Bonus Tracks
12. Next Time Around
13. Goodbyes Are Sad
14. When No One Calls
15. The Starflyer 2000 Reprise
16. Le Vainqueur

When Gold originally came out people did not like it. I didn't really like it. It was really, really different. Not a different style or anything but certainly a different tone. Whereas the first album was more upbeat and the songs peppier, this album is dour, morose, and slow. While the "wall of sound" distortion and shoegazery-ness (I know that's not a word) is still there, the entire thing is so downbeat and depressed. Back in the day I really only liked three tracks: "A Housewife Love Song," "You're Mean," and "Do You Ever Feel That Way?" - these songs sound the closest to Silver. This album has aged well though and people (including myself) have come to enjoy it a lot more over the years. There's a lot to dig into if you're willing. Though, honestly, I really do have to be in the mood to listen to this one. My edition is the reissue from 2005 with the extra tracks from a couple of EPs from the era, the names of which escape me.

Useless Fact: Rumor has it that this album is about Jason Martin's break-up with Leigh Nash (then Bingham) from Sixpence None the Richer. I think it's a little hilarious that a sweetheart like Leah would get this whole morose album written about her. Maybe someone can confirm or deny the rumor...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lady Gaga - "Joanne"

Lady Gaga - Joanne
2016, Interscope

1. Diamond Heart
2. A-Yo
3. Joanne
4. John Wayne
5. Dancin' in Circles
6. Perfect Illusion
7. Million Reasons
8. Sinner's Prayer
9. Come to Mama
10. Hey Girl
11. Angel Down
Bonus Tracks
12. Grigio Girls
13. Just Another Day
14. Angel Down (Work Tape)

So I thought I was kind of done with Lady Gaga after ARTPOP. It wasn't a bad record. I liked it okay and it had some good songs on it. However, overall I didn't like it as much as The Fame or The Fame Monster and I really didn't like but one song on Born This Way. Add to that I though "Perfect Illusion" and "Million Reasons" were...okay. Again, nothing spectacular. Those particular songs grew on me and I eventually ended up getting the album. Which, I must say, is probably her best album yet. Not kidding. There's a maturity and melancholy here on this disc that just wasn't on the previous ones. She also strips things down a bit like on the title track, which is just her voice and acoustic guitar. It's one of the most beautiful songs she's written. Even the radio friendly "pop" songs are great - recalling some of the fun dance tracks from her debut but adding the maturity.  I came away really impressed and happy that it came together like it did. If I had bought it last year it would have been one of my picks for sure.

Useless Fact: Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine lends guest vocals on "Hey Girl."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Throes - "12 Before 9"

The Throes - 12 Before 9
1995, Rode Dog

1. So Controversial
2. Circles of the Wheel
3. It Bothers Me
4. Mess With Me
5. Words
6. 12 Before 9
7. Confidence Man
8. Reckless Feeling
9. We'll Breathe
10. Stunned
11. So Controversial (reprise)
12. - blank track-
13. C Is For Cookie
14. Words (reprise)
15. Bye-bye

I have some pretty vivid memories of this album. I remember it was spring...around Memorial Day, I think. I remember that I was really having problems sleeping during this period in my life. I'd stayed up most of the night playing Super Metroid. Anyway, I remember my impression of this album being... not very great. I remember thinking it didn't really "sound" like The Throes. I don't know why I felt this way. I also remember that I thought "Words" and "C Is For Cookie" were the best songs on here. So what do I think of this today? Well, I do enjoy it a little more than I did then, but it's never going to be as good as the first two albums. I still hold to the opinion that "Words" is the best track. I think the band agrees with me because it's on here twice. "Reckless Feeling" is about sex. I think the band was trying to court a little controversy because of it and the other song, "So Controversial." Though I don't think there was really very much actual controversy. Definitely not my favorite Throes disc by a long shot. Not as terrible as I thought when I was a teen, but not super great either.

Useless Fact: The band shrinks back down to a three-piece band after being a five-piece band for Fall On Your World. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Xandria - "Theater of Dimensions"

Xandria - Theater of Dimensions
2017, Napalm

1. Where the Heart is Home
2. Death to the Holy
3. Forsaken Love
4. Call of Destiny
5. We Are Murderers (We Are)
6. Dark Night of the Soul
7. When the Walls Came Down (Heartache Was Born)
8. Ship of Doom
9. Ceili
10. Song For Sorrow and Woe
11. Burn Me
12. Queen of Hearts Reborn
13. Theater of Dimensions

1. Call of Destiny (Acoustic)
2. Dark Night of the Soul (Acoustic)
3. In Remembrance (Acoustic)
4. Sweet Atonement (Acoustic)
5. Valentine (Acoustic)

Theater of Dimensions wasn't really on my radar when it came out. Mostly because, while I liked Sacrificium okay it didn't really hit the heights of Neverworld's End. In the end, I listened to samples and decided I would check it out. I'm so glad I did! I can honestly say that this album is a contender for favorite album I've heard so far. Yes, equaling or possibly surpassing the mighty Neverworld's End. I think the songs here are far more engaging and exciting than on the previous album. Each has its own character and a great hook to hang your brain on. Dianne's vocals are amazing - switching from operatic Valkyrie to soft and sensitive to rock goddess on a dime. I think this is also the heaviest album I've heard as "We Are Murderers (We Are)" has a couple sections that are almost death metal. They've still retained some of the Celtic influence on tracks like "Death to the Holy," "Ship of Doom," and "Ceili."

I originally thought this was a concept album but as it turns out it's just the title track. It's an epic 13-minute long epic about a young woman, time travel, and an evil overlord. It's pretty good as well. My version is the deluxe edition with a second disc full of acoustic versions of an assortment of tracks. These renditions are beautiful and really show off how great a singer Dianne van Giersbergen is. I wouldn't say they were essential, but they're a great epilogue to a great disc. One of the first great new releases of 2017!

Useless Fact: This album has some guest vocalists: Bjorn Strid of Soilwork, Ross Thompson of Van Canto, Zaher Zorgati of Myrath and Henning Basse of Firewind. Yeah... I've never heard of those bands either. Though I may have to check them out now.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jet Circus - "No Mercy For the Living Dead" (Demo)

Jet Circus - No Mercy For the Living Dead
1992, Never released

1. Never
2. Motorcycle Mama
3. No Mercy
4. Get In Line or Step Aside
5. Shine
6. Landslide
7. Paradise
8. Honey Pie
9. Delilah
10. Welcome Home

Well, well, well... I finally got it. The mysterious, elusive, REAL second album from Jet Circus. How did I acquire such an animal? Well, it involved a lot of cloak & dagger shenanigans. Overseas accounts. Calls to international diplomats. It was a real 007 operation - but I've got it. And it's.... pretty good, actually! Just hearing Terry singing again filled me with joy. This actually sounds like Jet Circus in a way that Look at Death Now just didn't. I'm still not sure why this wasn't ever released. The rumor mill states that the record company (Wonderland, I believe) was giving them a hard time about it. That's probably because the lyrics on this album are not nearly as overtly religious as Step On It. That's not a problem for me, but back in the day I can see a Christian record exec being a little cagey about lyrics like, "Would you mind if I touched your breast/Kissed your lips and forgot the rest?" (from "Motorcycle Mama"). Granted the song isn't what it might seem just from that line but you can guarantee that people would have gotten their panties all in a twist about it. Also, the sound of this album is just a bit more experimental than the last. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of that deliciously fuzzy guitar and bass. However, there's also a lot more programmed beats and electronic pop noises. Oh, and "Honey Pie" is a straight-up bluegrass song. Love it. Seriously. I want Steam Powered Giraffe to cover it. "Paradise" is the album's lone ballad and it's kind of boring - though there is some sweet bass lines in it. It's also probably the most "Christian" song on the album. I think that if this had come out in '92 or whenever I probably would have loved it. I really wish the guys would get back together and finish this for old time's sake. Definitely worth hearing if you get a chance to!

Useless Fact: I guess there's also a second version of Step On It with three members in the band and live drums. I will have to check that out as well.