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Marc Epstein RSS Feed (New York City)

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5.0 out of 5 stars "Oceania" : The Smashing Pumpkins' Great Summer Surprise!, August 11, 2012
This review is from: Oceania (Audio CD)
"Oceania" is the perfect CD for people who love great Rock music and have a hard time finding it in new releases these days. So many people keep listening to their old classic rock albums (Led Zeppelin, The Doors, etc.) or early `90s Grunge (Pearl Jam, Nirvana).

Bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Doors obviously influenced the Smashing Pumpkins who were very much a part of early `90s Grunge, along with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and others. They released two CD's, "Siamese Dream" and "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," that are timeless classics. After those CD's and the death of Kurt Cobain, `90s Grunge started to die out.

"Oceania" is an album that has all the greatness of the best CD's from that special era in music. It actually sounds like it could have been released during that era or even during the height of the classic rock era. The opening track "Quasar" is a hard rocker and got my attention immediately. (Remember how Led Zeppelin II started with "Whole Lotta Love" and Led Zeppelin IV started with "Black Dog"?) And continuing with the Led Zeppelin analogy, the Smashing Pumpkins know exactly when to slow down and give the listener the kind of lyrics that really touch the heart. "The Celestials," third track on "Oceania," is a perfect example.

Getting back to the Smashing Pumpkins, they are also completely different from any other rock band. The reason is singer/songwriter/musician Billy Corgan, the band's frontman from the beginning. He's one of those people who is so unusually talented and original that it's actually hard to believe that any one person can be so gifted.

"Oceania" was released on June 19, 2012 and so far has not had much commercial success. It might never have it. It seems to be a bit lost in the shuffle. So don't miss this one. If you have been looking for a great Rock CD, and perhaps were not aware of "Oceania," this CD is a Must Have.

Other CD's Referenced:

Led Zeppelin II Led Zeppelin IV Doors Nevermind Nirvana: Unplugged In New York Ten Siamese Dream The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness

The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Return of Fiona Apple, July 29, 2012
I was very disappointed when I first heard this CD about 5 weeks ago. I figured this was just not for me. I didn't like the stripped down sound, and I thought the percussion was not well arranged. I found it unnerving and I thought that if Fiona Apple wanted to record a CD with a more stripped down sound, she should have just accompanied herself on piano.

Since I am a big fan of Fiona's first three albums, "Tidal," "When The Pawn...," and "Extraordinary Machine," I just kept listening. What changed my mind about this album is Fiona's vocals. She's developed this rough howl and knows exactly where to use it. Just listen to the tracks "Werewolf" and "Regret." After a while the percussion arrangements started to make sense to me and I was able to focus on the lyrics which are brilliant.

Now five weeks later, I think this is one of the best CD's I have heard in years. Now, everything is perfect. Fiona has remained a real alternative artist and has amazingly managed to sell a respectable amount of CD's at the same time. "The Idler Wheel," debuted on the Billboard 200 CD chart at number 3 and is now in its 5th week in the top 40. It's also her fourth consecutive Billboard Top 10 CD.

"The Idler Wheel" is even more of a Jazz album than her three previous albums, so Jazz fans - please run out and buy this. I also highly recommend this to people who prefer other genres, but enjoy hearing something different sometimes.

So listen, be patient, give it some time to sink in, and I promise you will become addicted.

Fiona's first 3 CD's:

Tidal When The Pawn... Extraordinary Machine
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2012 12:08 PM PDT

In Your Dreams
In Your Dreams
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Your Dreams (IYD) is already another great Stevie Nicks Classic, July 31, 2011
This review is from: In Your Dreams (Audio CD)
I've been intending to write this review ever since IYD came out in early May, 2011. My only problem was that initially I wasn't sure what to make of it. I liked it but was not immediately in love with it. In the past, I had found it easier to get into new Stevie Nicks' albums.

Well, I kept listening and this is one of those albums where every time I listen, I discover something new and love it even more. It struck me yesterday that Stevie Nicks has been a star for many years but she writes as if she's living the life of an everyday person. She's the opposite of some rockstar turning out cookie cutter lyrics because s/he lives in a glass house and doesn't know any better.

From beginning to end this CD is full of brilliant lyrics and outstanding music plus a unique delivery from someone who really feels her songs. (There's no need for me to do a track-by-track analysis because everything on this CD is wonderful).

I guess the best thing about IYD is that it's something you can cherish for a long time. It's quite amazing that Stevie has been around so long and still turns out great new music.

It's her first solo CD since 2001. The last Fleetwood Mac CD was released in 2003. She's still going strong. Whether she decides that her next project will be another solo effort or another Fleetwood Mac gem, I hope she doesn't keep us waiting too long.

A Thousand Suns
A Thousand Suns
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4.0 out of 5 stars Linkin Park (LP) is still good with some ways better, October 15, 2010
This review is from: A Thousand Suns (Audio CD)
This CD will take time to grasp and many of you will probably grow to like it if you give it a chance. I bought this CD the first day it came out and had some trouble figuring out what to make of it. I like LP so much that I kept listening and "A Thousand Suns" is making a lot of sense to me now. A lot has changed. The sound is much more electronica/industrial and experimental while the lyrics have shifted from inner anger toward anger at the world.

For the most part, I like the changes and I believe LP is one of those bands that has the talent to do something different each time around and come out with a good product. Still there is a constant that runs through all four LP CD's: Chester Bennington. He's the best male rock vocalist to emerge in the 21st century - he really knows how to sing his guts out. Perhaps that's why my favorite song on this CD is "Blackout," followed by "The Catalyst" and "The Messenger."

There are a couple of downsides for me. The first two tracks should have been left off this CD so the band could have gotten down to business right off with the third track, "Burning In The Skies." Also, the lyrics in the lyrics book are too difficult to read. That part of this project is annoying rather than creative. Fortunately, I can catch most of the lyrics by listening and LP really has stepped up the songwriting. That was one of the things I felt this band needed to do since the HT/Meteora days.

Christmas In the Heart
Christmas In the Heart
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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bob Dylan hits his all time low, October 23, 2009
This review is from: Christmas In the Heart (Audio CD)
Bob Dylan never had a good voice. However, during the 60's and 70's, he wrote material that matched well with his voice and turned songs like "Blowing In The Wind" and "Like A Rolling Stone" into timeless classics.

In more recent years, his voice has deteriorated into an awful growl and his albums are torture to listen to, even if there has been some good new material.

But why record a Christmas album? There are too many Christmas Cover albums as is already. There is no need for another one from Bob Dylan - a tired has-been.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Patti Smith is definately back!, June 17, 2007
This review is from: Twelve (Audio CD)
Patti was never one to play it safe. This time I thought she took on too much risk. I saw the track list before I heard any of the alternative Patti versions. I thought it would be impossible for anyone to cover a collection of some of the best Rock classics of all time. Well, she does it very, very well. I was not convinced the first, and even the second time I listened to "Twelve." By the third time I realized what an exceptional job she did with this huge challenge she presented herself with. The bottom line is that she completely connects with and respects all the songs on "Twelve."

Tracks that I like best are "Gimme Shelter" and "White Rabbit" -- just listen to those two if you are short on time and want to get a taste of this CD. Also, the poetry reading by Patti on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a great addition to the original track. It's almost like Kurt had it in his head but forgot to write it down.

Patti's previous CD "Trampin' " was a masterpiece. So now with back to back incredible CD's she has proven herself to be as vital as when she first released "Horses" in 1975, a CD many now consider one of the top 10 Rock CD's of all time. [Horses] [Trampin']

Minutes to Midnight
Minutes to Midnight
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4.0 out of 5 stars "What I've Done" is not the only great track, May 19, 2007
This review is from: Minutes to Midnight (Audio CD)
Has LP strayed too much from its famous trademark sound? Yes, in the sense that the transition has been too much for the hardcore LP fans. It really takes a lot of time to listen to this CD to fully appreciate it and many people just don't have the time. In this case, I decided to spend the time and see if I would warm up or not.

I have come to really enjoy the CD. "What I've Done" is not the only great track. I especially like the hard hitting "Given Up" and the softer tracks including "Leave Out All The Rest," "Valentines Day," "In Pieces," and "The Little Things Give You Away."

In the meantime, one thing remains true. Chester Bennington is the best Male Rock Vocalist in the business today. He keeps proving it over & over and his work on "Minutes to Midnight" is further evidence. Linkin Park will always be a cut above the rest because of Chester's outstanding vocal skills, regardless how much they continue to mix in the rap.

Extraordinary Machine
Extraordinary Machine
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ABSOLUTE BEST OF 2005, November 30, 2005
This review is from: Extraordinary Machine (Audio CD)
Want to hear some truly intelligent lyrics, original and creative compositions and a big, soulful voice all in one? Try Fiona Apple's new CD "Extraordinary Machine (EM)." Been listening for weeks and EM just keeps getting better with every listen. Yes, it's one of "those" albums. If you enjoy artists who really are Alternative, not just labeled so, Fiona is for you. (Once you are done with EM, buy the rest of her catalogue if you don't already own it: "Tidal" and "When The Pawn...").

Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert
Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of 2005 -- Brilliant!!!, November 30, 2005
Led by John Mayer, the JM3 bring back blues rock with a fresh, compelling sound. It's definitely different from mainstream pop/rock, and congratulation John for walking away from that.

American Idiot
American Idiot
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best CD in Years!!!, January 3, 2005
This review is from: American Idiot (Audio CD)
I've held off writing this review for several weeks -- just wanted to be sure, but yes, this is the best CD to be made in years. An instant classic, a CD you love more each time you play it and something you'll be listening to years from now (I am assuming you like rock music).

It's like Green Day took the pulse of America and is reading it back to us accurately in the form of brilliant rock lyrics, melodies, musicianship and vocals. Brilliant social commentary with a lot of deep personal feeling. Innovative song structures, taking punk rock and stretching it beyond any place it's gone before.

At times I thought rock had died when Kurt Cobain killed himself. Now I know I was wrong. Thanks Billy Joe & Co. (Green Day) for this amazing disc. I hope you just started a new era in the world of rock 'n roll.

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