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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Extraordinary' Is the Word
With all the hubbub surrounding the release of her third album, "Extraordinary Machine," singer/songwriter Fiona Apple had a lot riding on her shoulders upon its release. Doubtless, when the Jon Brion-produced original version of the disc was left to gather dust on the recording studio floor in 2002, she could not have known that it would eventually end up the most...
Published on November 3, 2005 by Rudy Palma

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great music, bad media
I wish that I could focus this review on a fine artist and the great music she's created, but just now the media of this release overshadows the art. The DVD side of the DualDisc has just ruined my DVR. After playing the DualDisc my Sony DVR will no longer play ordinary DVD's. An EPIC/Sony DualDisc and a Sony DVR. I've contacted Sony support and they refuse to address...
Published on December 18, 2005 by T. Ferguson


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Extraordinary' Is the Word, November 3, 2005
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
With all the hubbub surrounding the release of her third album, "Extraordinary Machine," singer/songwriter Fiona Apple had a lot riding on her shoulders upon its release. Doubtless, when the Jon Brion-produced original version of the disc was left to gather dust on the recording studio floor in 2002, she could not have known that it would eventually end up the most notoriously circulated music the internet had seen. She also could not have imagined that her fans would found an official website, [...] and protest Sony in the hopes that it would at last be released. Following those events, she returned to the recording studio with producer Mike Elizondo, re-recorded nine of the eleven tracks, and added the stunning "Parting Gift," a poignant tribute to an ended relationship. The result is a far less kitchy version of the disc that satisfied both herself and Sony and became her first Top 10 album when it debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts.

The album kicks off with the endearing cabaret-style title track, one of the two Brion productions salvaged from the original, along with the joyful "Waltz (Better Than Fine)." Amidst its oddball lyrics Apple confronts adversarial forces with a toothy grin, proclaiming that she is an "extraordinary machine" and will thus prevail. She then moves on to "Get Him Back," the ultimate revenge fantasy.

"Next one up, a contemptible snob/He lived to put things in their place/He did a commendable job/He put himself so low he can hardly even look me in the face/So wait `till I get him back/He won't have a back to scratch."

As soon as the record begins it is apparent that Apple has matured, leaving the bulk of her once understood angst behind. Still, that does not stop her from being extremely ticked off at her would-be flame in "Not About Love," where "last night's phrases, sick with lack of basis" are writhing on her floor. "Tymps (The Sick In the Head Song)," with contains a slight hip-hop veneer, follows the same theme.

Elsewhere, she makes extremely astute commentary on the mass-consumerism and superficiality that marks American pop culture with "Please, Please, Please."

"You can hear our sad brains screaming/Give us something familiar/Something similar/To what we know already/That will keep us steady/Steady going nowhere."

The apex of the album, however, comes with "Window" and "Oh Well." The former, an outstanding ode to escaping physical abuse, finds Apple breaking the window to her freedom, stating "better that I break the window than him hurt me." She then comes to her senses after initially blaming herself in the latter track, realizing you cannot make someone accept unconditional love if he "doesn't believe in the stuff."

All things considered, "Extraordinary Machine" is an excellent art pop album from every angle. Only one track, the frothy "Better Version of Me," suffers in its new incarnation, proving the resurrection of the project both worthy and successful.

The DualDisc of the album features all the tracks in enhanced stereo, live performances, behind-the-scenes footage and a hilarious video for "Not About Love."
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113 of 129 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Effort, October 5, 2005
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
Fiona Apple's first new album in six years, Extraordinary Machine, faced a Wilco Yankee Foxtrot Hotel dilemma when her label, Epic, held off releasing it because they thought it was too uncommercial. Due to an aggressive internet campaign and the leaking of the songs, Epic changed their mind and gave Ms. Apple the green light. The album is a stunning collection of songs, many of which were written in the aftermath of Ms. Apple's break up with director Paul Thomas Anderson. Due to this circumstance and the fact that she is no longer a teenager as she was on her first release, the songs have an air of maturity that her previous efforts lacked. The album features producers Jon Brion (who worked the original sessions, but only ends up as a producer on two tracks, Brian Kehew and Mike Elizondo who work with hip-hop artists shows up on the album. Mr. Kehew & Mr. Elizondo don't turn the album into a hip-hop affair, they beautiful match Ms. Apple's smoky voice and soft piano with simple loops that accentuate not dominate the sound. "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)" is a perfect example of their work. They also move away from the baroque sounds of the internet album by adding guitars, horns and slamming drums to the mix. Ms. Apple is the real star though and her work on the piano driven "Get Him Back", the wicked "Red Red Red", the intense "Window" and the great "Better Version Of Me" show that she is ready to take the leap into superior singer-songwriter territory.
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109 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY!, October 4, 2005
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
After two years of waiting, grumbling, downloading, and sighing for lack of, we finally have Fiona Apples amazing third album, Extraordinary Machine.

You can definitely tell that she has matured a great deal since "When the Pawn...". She made a lot of changes from "Tidal" to "When the Pawn..." and made a lot of changes from then until now. She seems to have fused the sounds from both albums together, making a musically biting, yet soft album that incorporates a few new sounds as well. For instance, "Tymps" has a very...hip hop feel to it. It's the danciest track she's EVER done, and I think it's absolutely amazing.

She embraces her soft side from the getgo, letting EVERYONE know that this is still very much her, regardless what "Fast As You Can" and "Limp" had to say about it. Her lyrics are great, and I think the ode to her own amazing abilities is extremely well-done. I find this song very fun to listen to, and relaxing at the same time.

The next track, Get Him Back, is a rompin' tavern song (at least I can imagine it being one, with that piano!). Her voice sounds great on this song, and the lyrics are clever and interesting. One of my favorites!

O'Sailor was one of the songs released on Itunes before the CD was released. It's got a very bluesy, merry-go-round sound to it that compliments her smoky voice perfectly. This is one of those "Tidal" fused with "When the Pawn..." songs I told you about. I really enjoy this.

Better Than Me is another fun, bouncy song. I tell you, I love the piano! I just love it! You'll like this one. The chorus is fantastic. This song also utilizes some interesting synth work we haven't heard from her before.

Tymps (The Sick In The Head Song) is the most fun you can have on this CD while still remembering that it's heartfelt, soulful Fiona that's singing. Add the beat and you've got yourself a DEFINITE radio track. Take THAT stupid record labels!

The album continues in this general trend, vascillating from slow to warm and fast, till it concludes with the truly clever, interesting, and downright wonderful track, "Waltz (Better Than Fine", which utilizes, as the title suggest, a waltz as background music. It's pretty soft, at the beginning, but as it progresses it gains edge and volume. You gotta hear this to understand just why I love it so much.

Oh, and some background on this album incase you aren't aware.... In 2003, this album was up and ready to go, but her label "shelved" it because they didn't feel it had a leading radio single to push sales of it. Then, an internet DJ apparently leaked the tracks all over the internet, and when mad Fiona fans heard it, they only got madder. Why keep this brilliance "shelved"? What the hell? "Free Fiona", a website dedicated to getting this album released was then erected (which she thanks in her liner notes) and I wholly attribute this release to their efforts. Fiona, you ROCK, and your fans ROCK HARDER! I love you all!

Pick this up, if not for Fiona, then for the love of music. Do it. Now. Stop reading this, and press "buy".
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary...but..., October 6, 2005
By 
David Johnson (Mill Creek, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
I must say, I am so happy and yet so cursed by having heard the early version of the album. For those of you who don't know, somehow a complete version of the album was leaked onto the internet before all of the drama happened with its release (Fiona initiated it, not the label!) and I happened to come across a copy of the first version of the album back when everyone thought it wouldn't be released. I absolutely adored it! It is full of strings and whitty instrumentation, that almost reminds me of a musical or broadway type stuff! It was so lush and cute! I'm not saying cute in a belittling way, it was just so dainty and refined yet the same things that make Fiona Fiona.

So anyways, there's my little whining session. I know, I brought it on myself. If I hadn't accepted an illegal copy, then I wouldn't have to gripe about it! : ) Hehe. Anwyays, I will say that despite my disappointment in the differences between the first version and this one, it still is a good album. It is finally the way that Fiona really wants it, supposedly. And I would definitely not hesitate to tell you to get the Dual Disc, it's got the music video for my favorite song ("Not About Love") it's really cute! This comedian guy she heard about lipsyncs the whole thing...it's funny. And there's great live performences of new and old songs! Go for it!

For those of you who have heard the first version, you know what I'm talking about (and either agree that you like it or don't), for those of you who haven't, just enjoy this album! It's great even tho it's different than it might have been! Great songs can't be ruined by simple changes, I think...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Word of warning about DualDisc, October 7, 2005
By 
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
Just a head's up, the album itself is great but the CD audio side of the dual disc will not work with many (if not most) computer CD players. As a result, depending on your specific computer (I personally have an Apple G4 powerbook) you might not be able to burn the tracks and transfer them to an ipod or other portable mp3 players. I've written DualDisc about this and they replied back with a form letter acknowledgine the issue and claiming that they're "actively developing technologies" to improve playability on CD/DVD-ROM drives, but for now their best advice was for me to try to return the dualdisc and exchange it for the regular CD version (most stores do not allow exchanges of opened CDs/DVDs for different items). I would advise anyone who wants to listen to the album on their mp3 player to play it safe and just stick with the regular CD version.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but still great, October 4, 2005
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Fiona Apple ever since picking up a copy of Tidal back in college. Since that time, I've pretty much always had a tape, CD, or .mp3 player with at least one of Fiona Apple's songs on it. Her voice and talents on the piano can't be matched by any other artist I've ever heard. So, it should be easy to see that I'm very happy the drought of new Fiona material has ended with the release of Extraordinary Machine.

I should also add that I have heard the "leaked" version of this album, which was done with producer Jon Brion. The music they created together in that version is amazing and I was eagerly awaiting something just like that when I picked up the official release. This is not the case though.

If you have heard the leaked version of this album and feel that anything less than owning an actual copy of that is a waste of money, then it might be better to not buy this album. I'm not saying this version is bad...it's still amazing when looked at on its own. I'm only trying to convey that some of the tracks have been changed drastically in terms of backup instruments and vocal effects, to the point where they have taken a slightly new direction. Most notable in those changes are revamped versions of Window, Tymps (the sick in the head song), O'Sailor, and Not About Love. All of those tracks are still wonderful works of art, but they feel a little different on this album. There were changes in just about every track, but those are the ones that stand out most to me.

Two of the Brion tracks did survive the change to producer Mike Elizondo. Extraordinary Machine and Waltz remain the same as what many Fiona fans have heard over the past several months. Brion's influence is still present in many of the other songs as well, although most of the tracks do have a slightly more hip-hop sound to them. That is largely the result of using a producer who has worked with many of the greats of that genre. They still sound great and should be enjoyed by any music fan.

This album does include the addition of the song Parting Gift, which is a melancholy tune with just Fiona and her piano. Her voice really shines through the entire song and it is quickly becoming on my favorites of the new album. This song alone almost makes it worth owning the record for me.

I purchased the DualDisc version of the CD, which has many great little extras added in. The camera work on the live performances is a little shaky and out of focus at times, but it does provide a look at Fiona and Jon in a very intimate club setting. Fiona plays no piano in most of the videos. It's mainly Jon playing acoustic guitar while Fiona sings. Most of the features were actually already available on the official Fiona website, so you may not get much new material if you've viewed the media there. The video for Not About Love is pretty humorous, and is another added bonus of the DualDisc release.

Overall, this is a great album and I would say just about any fan of Fiona should pick it up. I'll be proud to have it sit in my collection, ready to pull out when I'm one of those moods where only Fiona will do.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not about internet album, March 22, 2006
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
To write something new about "Extraordinary machine" is complicated. I just can say is one of the best records in 2006 and maybe ever.
I'm a Fiona Apple fan since "tidal". I'm not in the opinion is better the internet version, you know about it I guess. In the internet copy music covers fiona's voice in a way destroy her best, her voice and her piano playing.
Now you can listening to her in a very clear way, and there are treasures as Parting Gift, so simply and stunning.
My favorite songs, whatever, are "Window" with best lyric on Fiona career and Oh Well, so beatiful...
So, forget about al the noise about internet album and Sony conspirations and all these stuff and enjoy this extraordinary record.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Apple, it's been too long...., October 6, 2005
By 
Brooklyn Marie (Iowa City, IA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
Though I'm a huge Fiona Apple fan, it's been so long since I've heard anything new from her that I completely forgot her fantastic-ness. "When the Pawn..." was in my CD player for a whole year and was with me through some break-ups, but it's been awhile since I've let Ms. Apple wash over me.

I bought "Extraordinary Machine" with no preconceived opinions. I was, admittedly, a little afraid to listen to it because it's been over 6 years since I've anything new from her. I didn't hear any of the leaked snippets and for awhile thought the album would never be released.

But I just turned it on and from the opening song, the title track, I was immediately impressed. It's a lot of fun, musically and lyrically. Now I wish I'd sprung for the dual disc copy so I could have the "extras."

It's such a fantastic album. Despite the fact that many an amazing and talented female songstress has broke out on the music scene while this album was lost in record label land, this album shows extraordinary growth and beauty. It's a lot more comparable to "When the Pawn..." with it's quirky musical stylings and such--not as deeply brooding and slow, smoky like "Tidal." Though it definitely still has that soul. Dig that piano.

I really had honestly forgotten how amazingly beautiful and interesting Fiona Apple was. If you've been hesitant at all to pick up this album--rest assured. Though it took forever to be released, it's fantastic. Buy it, no questions asked. Don't even listen to samples of the songs. Just get it for yourself and set an hour aside to let the magical beauty wash over you. Finally!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good it hurt my feelings., August 29, 2006
By 
J. Moss (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
It is hands down the most amazing album I have bought in years. I never thought I could get personal, emotional affect from music. Now I know I just hadn't found it yet. Favorites -Tymps, Parting Gift, Extraordinary Machine, Better version of me, Window, well you get the point the whole disc is wonderful. Fiona, if you ever read these, thank you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Machine, indeed, August 1, 2006
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
Though the overextended wait for Fiona's third release might have left you to expect a disappointment, this is anything but. Fiona's work as a individual - both in and outside of music - continues in full force with "Extraordinary Machine." While I personally enjoy the title track by far, you cannot deny the compelling sounds of "O'Sailor" and "Get him Back." I had the fortune of seeing her perform selections from this new album live, and she was fabulous. Though Fiona can be labeled, at times, melodramatic and slightly over zealous, I have to say, it's refreshing to find that someone who has fallen in and out of the Hollywood hype can still channel that energy into something excitingly creative. If you strive to find others like her that still manage to write compelling songs with lyrics to match, check out Gretchen Lieberum - you can totally sink into her album like you can fiona's, and she just came out with "Siren Songs".

And if you don't have any of Fiona's earlier works - for shame! No, seriously, go buy them.
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Extraordinary Machine
Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple (Audio CD - 2005)
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