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Lullabies to Paralyze
Lullabies to Paralyze
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lullabies To Paralyze, May 9, 2008
This review is from: Lullabies to Paralyze (Audio CD)
Back in 2005 I didn't give this album the listens it deserved. I had a lot of stuff going on, including the birth of my son. There was also the departure of Nick Oliveri, and in seeing such a 'high profile' member of the band leaving so soon after the success and attention "No One Knows" brought Queens of the Stone Age, just gave me warning signs. Another 'o here we go, success starts spilling in, the rats start jumping ship' mentality, and then you just have a band that just isn't as good, or the same as it once was. Missing the elements that got them there to your attenton in the first place. It's a bad mentality to have. It brings a pre-judgement of the work contained therein, and doesn't allow the piece to take a shape and form of its own. The departure of Oliveri surely affected Homme's songwriting. It shouldn't affect the way you listen to what he's done. But, alas, we are all subjective creatures and blah blah blah.

So after a month of celebrating 20 years of King's X by loading my mp3 player with only King's X and their solo projects material, and listening to nothing but them, when it came time to stop celebrating I decided to next fill up the Hitachi with only Queens of the Stone Age. And Queens of the Stone Age only. No Mondo Generator, no Kyuss, no Eagles of Death Metal. Nothing but QOTSA.

This is when I finally really 'heard' Lullabies To Paralyze (in its entirety and in pieces). And when heard in comparison to QOTSA's other albums, I finally realised how great this album is, and deserves 5 stars through and through. I personally think everyone should wait 1 to 3 years before they review an album. :) Don't let me tell you what to do though. It's just that if after a year or two you're still listening to that album and still noticing new things in it, then that's a hallmark of a great album. Everything's so damn temporary these days, ya know? Let it sink in a bit.

And based on "Precious & Grace" if QOTSA strolled up on stage and announced 'The ZZ Top you once knew is gone. We are now ZZ Top.', I do not think they would get any argument from me. They could be ZZ Top if they wanted to. ;)

This album is brilliant. And there's things on here when you listen to the album very closely followed by tracks from Era Vulgaris (2007) that say QOTSA was heading towards Era Vulgaris in sound and design anyway. "Skin on Skin" and "Broken Box" could easily be Vulgaris songs. But truly there's so many influences and things going into what makes a QOTSA album what it is, it doesn't matter where they're heading or where they've been . It's all good. And I'm not in the know to say that Homme is the main songwriter for all things QOTSA. He may be just very generous when it comes down to songwriting credits (but I think drummers should get credit for song composition too. I don't see why not). He may just be a genius at selecting musicians to work with. Whatever it is that Homme is responsible for, as a songwriter myself, I'm slightly envious. Because he just comes up with songs you wish you wrote. A lot of QOTSA's material utilises the same design, beat that riff down into the ground, but you absolutely love them for doing it. It's incessant. Unrelenting. It's very cool. You hear shades of 70's classic rock, glam, punk, new wave, heavy metal all in there, but it's all kind of disturbed and ominous. Yea. QOTSA are kind of ominous. Slightly twisted up.

So I was hearing a lot of these songs really for the first time in the past month. I just didn't head towards Lullabies as often as Deaf, Vulgaris and Rated R. ('QOTSA the first' kind of escaped some listens as well.) When I was ripping MP3's to my PC a few years ago, only "Tangled Up In Plaid" made it the library cavalcade. Other QOTSA albums were ripped a plenty. Lullabies was gently ignored. But that's cool. I'm listening to it non-stop now. QOTSA got their money from me at the time, and here I am reviewing it now hoping that what I say get's them some more money somehow.

Did I say how great this album is? "Everybody Knows That You're Insane". I can't stop listening to this song. Once I finally heard it, I kicked myself for ignoring it in the first place. But I'm listening now. I can't help thinking of The Partridge Family when hearing "Broken Box". It just somehow brings me to 70's bubblegum music, but yet the whole song is this fuzzed out, contemptuous (of whomever the lyrics may be about) piece of distorted something or other. It's like a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket found in an alleyway on the wrong side of town at the right time of night for bad things. (The Ominous of the Stone Age). "Skin On Skin' is just nasty. It's a dirty song. It's all shadows and bad neon lighting. It's a seedy dive. It's great! Liquid decadence. Don't know why I wrote that in relation to the song, but it sounded right.

Surely "In My Head" will turn up on the inevitable The Greatest Hits of the Queens of the Stone Age's Greatest Hits collection one day. It bears the hallmark of what makes the QOTSA 'format' so ... QOTSA. And when I say format I don't mean it's just 'manufactured' or a thing Homme and Co. says, let's just do a song like that one again but change the lyric or the key. I just mean they do this thing, and you know they did it before, but you don't care. Because elements of the song stick out so much that its difference from another is so noticeable that any comparison seems moot. I just think Homme and who he works with and what comes out, is great songwriting. I think it's magical. I think there's so much talent and creativity associated with QOTSA that to not see it seems .... stupid! I think they (those associated) have contributed to one of the best bands of the last 20 years. And if Homme is responsible for that, then let it be so.

Sometimes I think this might be the best of the QOTSA albums. I don't know why. It's really turning into a favourite. But then I really like the direction Era Vulgaris has gone. (In my Era Vulgaris review I compared it to QOTSA's equivalent of David Bowie's LOW, and the direction he pursued for the latter half of the 70's working with Brian Eno & Robert Fripp). Maybe Lullabies is like a closing chapter on a certain phase of QOTSA's career, and Vulgaris is going into different territory. Don't know. Too early to tell. But I know Skin On Skin and Broken Box said to listeners what Era Vulgaris might sound like.

Era Vulgaris
Era Vulgaris
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5.0 out of 5 stars Era Vulgaris, May 9, 2008
This review is from: Era Vulgaris (Audio CD)
I absolutely give this 5 stars. I love this album. I was in love with it the first time I heard it, and it only seems to keep getting better.

There are hints of Era Vulgaris that show up on Lullabies To Paralyze (2005), so if there is a change in direction and sound that caught some or many by surprise, it was already leaned towards 3 years ago. I kind of think this is QOTSA's album equivalent to David Bowie's LOW (1976). It would seem imminent that QOTSA next work with Brian Eno, Robert Fripp or somebody of that ilk based on the things happening within Era Vulgaris.

There's always been for me, something sinister afoot in QOTSA's music. Josh Homme's voice and vocal delivery has always reminded me of Ben Orr in The Cars, and when I hear certain songs from QOTSA (especially "I'm Designer") I think 'this is Ric Ocasek when he's almost overdosed'. If no one likes The Cars here, that's okay, or thinks it's a bad comparison. I've always thought of QOTSA as The Cars on really good bad drugs. Probably why I love this band so much and what they do, no matter who is in it. 'They' convinced me Dave Grohl should quit Foo Fighters and go back to playing drums. ;)

My wife thinks "Turning On The Screw" is one of the most annoying things she's ever heard. I'm absolutely enthralled by the song. It's that panning left to right action on the guitars during the 'solo section'(?). Whatever that section is QOTSA called it in the studio. Bridge Maximus 76 or whatever. Apparently it's none too popular with listeners to this album based on reviews I've read. I loved it. "Sick Sick Sick" is irresistible, it's just something QOTSA are so good at. I could go song by song of course. I love that it takes over a 1 minute 30 secs to finally hear a vocal in "Misfit Love" and that that main riff is hammered down into the ground until the end opens up. "Suture Up My Future" I listened to non-stop for weeks. It was just absolutely my favourite song from this album for the longest time.

Really this review is a bunch of nonsense. Everytime I go to write something about Era Vulgaris (and I've tried 3 times and cancelled the review) I never say enough or have too much to say. No in-betweens. That I've gotten this far in the review is a miracle, cuz I'm already reading it back and thinking, "you didn't mention much about the guitar tones and the overall strange sounds you hear on this album". Wait. I just did kinda. It's QOTSA's LOW/HEROES and LODGER. I can only hope they get more weird and strange and innovative, because that sinister 'thing' in QOTSA's music is only served by these disturbing and peculiar sounds that are showing up all over Era Vulgaris. It's really like Musique Concrete of the Stone Age.

Thirteenth Step
Thirteenth Step
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirteenth Step, March 17, 2008
This review is from: Thirteenth Step (Audio CD)
I think this album spoiled me.

When Mer De Noms (2000) was released, I went to it with open arms because of its TOOL connection, but came out with folded arms, and an unsatisfied feeling. "3 Libras", "Judith", "Thinking of You", the production, the music and the playing had a fan in me, but to my ears it was all a little 'too' Tool. It felt like a thing to fill the gap between Tool albums. Not for Keenan. For me, as a listener. "3 Libras" I thought to be one of the best songs of that year, and hearing 'this side' of Keenan was refreshing and interesting. His vocal talents were never more appreciated until hearing A Perfect Circle's 1st album.

I bought "Thirteenth Step" on Vinyl LP, because I prefer vinyl. :).

"Thirteenth Step", to me, was miles beyond the first album. I was literally stunned, because here, A Perfect Circle had found their own sound, their own vision it seemed. A totally different album to their debut, with more textures and atmospheres, experimentation and depth. I sat back, only getting up to change the LP sides. When I got to "Pet" I had to listen to it 3 or 4 times in a row. Eyes lit up. Ears tingled. I have to say I have listened to this song at least 5 times a week since 2005, but not on Vinyl ;).

And in accordance, "Thirteenth Step" still regularly rotates as CD's do in my player to this day. The album is 5 years old, I've owned it for 3 of those years, and I still think this is an almost perfect album. It just has so much going for it in the songwriting, the sound and production, and the level of musicianship going into it. And A Perfect Circle had found their own sound. You would think because Keenan was singing it, it automatically would sound like Tool. But that wasn't the problem for me with Mer De Noms. To me, a lot of it sounded like Tool. Too much, but just 'lighter' in execution. Not a crime at all. Just left me waiting for another Tool album.

"Thirteenth Step" actually accomplished the reverse with me. When Tool's "10,000 Days" was released, I expected Tool to almost follow suit with A Perfect Circle, drastically changing their sound or how they do the things they do. And I have given "10,000 Days" multiple listens since its release. And I keep going back to "Thirteenth Step". It's not fair to compare the way different artists do the things they do, but at the same time, A Perfect Circle's second effort was leaps and bounds beyond their first. "10,000 Days" seemed like it was a step back to something before "Lateralus". And it left me feeling a little uneasy about the gaps in time between Tool albums, and .. well ... yeah. It's Tool, so you can't fault them truly. Constructively you can criticise the effort, but knowing full well that bands like Tool are completely rare and should be appreciated no matter what they do, because what they put into it is often miles beyond what is chosen 'acceptable' in music culture.

Favourites have to be "The Package", "Pet", and "The Noose". But it's an album worth buying for the piece as a whole, for the sum of its parts added together.

One of my favourite albums of recent years.

Offered by IMS Distribution
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogman, February 23, 2008
This review is from: Dogman (Audio CD)
There are two artists who have had overwhelming and undeniable influence on me, whether musically, emotionally, or mentally, it doesn't matter. There's only two I truly loved. That's George Harrison, and King's X. When I look back on my life at all the music I've listened to, all the albums I have, everything I've embraced, and even, maybe at one time rejected ... and none have mattered to me as much as these two.

Why do I say this? Because I can vividly recall buying "Dogman", sitting down and listening to it. I remember it so well, that it feels like I just did it ... yesterday. That's how strongly King's X showed up in my life. And really any album I associate with these two artists, I could most likely tell you where and when I bought the album, what the setting was, what the first reaction was, and so on, and so forth. But that would be telling you more about me, than the actual album I'd be reviewing.

1994. I'm trying to remember how I found out album's were being released without the Internet!!! 'All we hads wuz books and magazines back then, and sumtimes you had to go to the store to find out what was in it! It were hard'. All I know is, if there was an album I really wanted, I'd be outside the record store's doors when they opened in the morning. I absolutely could not wait for King's X's follow-up to "King's X" (1992) to be released. And I remember trying to choose what 'colour' cover version of Dogman I wanted. (It wuz the yellur wun, but I think today I would choose the reddur one). And I brought that CD home as quickly as possible, and I sat down and I set forth listening to something I knew would be one of the greatest things I'd ever heard.

And I remember being shocked.

Sam Taylor was no longer associated with King's X. Okay. I can deal with that. Brendan O'Brien, producer, cool, I like Stone Temple Pilots, this has to be a good thing for King's X, because I'm tired of telling people the bands you listen to all suck compared to King's X. Maybe STP's producer will bring in some more people so they stop listening to this music that sucks (I was in my mid-20's. I still say sucks though, just with more maturity).

What shocked me was:
1.Ty Tabor didn't sing lead vocal on anything. It was all Doug.
2.Gone were embellishments, augmentations, extra stuff in the songs.
(and today I listened to "The Big Picture" from their "King's X" album, and really listened to the textures and sounds produced in the second verse, where acoustic guitars strum, and Tabor overdubbed almost 'pedal-steel' sounding guitar chords to conclude the chord pattern, and I thought .... I miss Ty doing stuff like that in post-1998 King's X material)
3.Little to no spiritual references.
4. It was heavy (not the CD. The music itself)

I actually was, on first listen, so disappointed in what I heard. They had totally reversed gears and ... they had abandoned what they had done that got me to love them so much in the first place. And when I say disappointed, I don't mean I sat there saying this sucks. It was just a shock. I listened to every minute intently. I paid attention to every single detail in each song. It was just the sound of it was so different to what they had done previously. It was just the shock of 'change' that brought disappointment.

Because I honestly loved "Shoes" on first listen. I remember loving that song at first sight. So yes, there was a disappointment that a lot of their 'signature' sound was gone, but at the same time, it was still King's X, and they were one of the best bands out there, and I could live without extra guitars, and 'arrangement', and ... well everything they put into their first 4 albums.

"Dogman" is one of my favourite albums by King's X. It has intensity, and emotion and a lot of power. There is also a sense of sadness on it that I hadn't perceived in their earlier work. There was a lot to Dogman to be heard, and their stripped down sound maybe allows you to hear it. I just remember thinking 'what happened to faith, hope and love guys?' after listening to this album for a little while. It's darker, a bit more cynical than its predecessors. But there's still hope in the underlying messages, that's definitely still there in their work on this album.

This, and "Gretchen Goes To Nebraska" (1989) are absolute must have albums if you're going to try King's X. There are songs on this album I absolutely love to death, especially "Human Behaviour", "Black the Sky", "Shoes", "Pretend", and "Pillow". And one song in particular I must mention on its own. "Fool You". That song actually made my spine tingle when I first heard it, and it never fails to bring that sensation back whenever I hear it. I remember seeing the Dogman tour, and this song was performed, and I could've wept. And when Doug sings the final lyric in the song .... "And don't ever think that I could do you wrong", that is absolutely one of the best things ever recorded on anyone's album, at anytime, anywhere in recorded history. Okay, maybe that's over the top. No. It's not. That is absolutely one of the most 'passionate','emotive', 'heartfelt','soulful' things I've ever heard sung, and when he sings it, you absolutely believe him. You absolutely feel secure and safe in that assurance that there is no way this person would ever do you wrong. That person absolutely, positively means it, with all their heart. "Fool You" is an amazing song, one of my favourite songs in the world, and it even sends a tingle up my spine thinking and talking about it. That is a powerful piece of music.

Dogman good album. You buy it.

Faith Hope Love
Faith Hope Love
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith Hope Love by King's X, February 19, 2008
This review is from: Faith Hope Love (Audio CD)
In the CD copy of the Faith Hope Love I have owned for 17 years, is a dollar bill signed by Doug Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill (because Ty Tabor never came out of the tour bus - he probably still doesn't). And I remember them looking at me puzzled when I asked them to sign it, but just had to explain ... it's the only piece of paper I got. It is also the only 'rock' signature/autograph I have ever possessed. I have never sought out those I admired, bought and respected. No hanging out at the airport or hotel lobby, or waiting around their second home's garden gates waiting to catch a glimpse. Except for King's X. I'd wait around after their shows with a whole host of other fans, hoping to tell them how much I loved them and that they mattered in my life. They were worth it. They required a signature. And sometimes, I just open up the CD case, and take out that dollar bill, and look at the signatures of Doug Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill covering up the founding father's visage, and remember what it was like to love a band that much.

FAITH HOPE LOVE is a far different affair than its predecessor 'Gretchen Goes To Nebraska'. 'Gretchen' tended to keep within a particular framework and its songs all had a persisting need to be heard with eachother. They complimented one another in the King's X 'sound' of 1989. The listener could tell the band was growing and expanding this 'sound' with one listen to its predecessor 'Out of the Silent Planet', far simpler in execution with less instrument augmentations. Faith Hope Love takes this 'sound' and experiments with it, sometimes with leaps, often with bounds, and with great talent and vision. No, not all songs are immediate (unless you're totally in love as I was with King's X back in 1990) but what you will find here are moments quite gentle, exquisite, honest, powerful, experimental and passionate.

This was also the album that made me wonder what King's X possessed musically that I lacked. And it wasn't a question of playing skills and technical prowess. It was a question of 'what' is that thing they are putting into their songs that makes them so ...... good. It's the only word that suffices to explain a thing, an emotion very hard to describe. To me, King's X had a spirit, a force working through them that I just did not have. One could call that God, one could call that belief, one could call it any thing they so wished. In hindsight, I think what I was seeing in them was their belief in what they were doing and how it was done. What they put into it. How they worked together. How 3 people could make a song sound like 1 person unified. To me, it was magic what they did.

I think this album's phenomenal. It might be my sentimental favourite. It is one I attach a great affection towards, regardless if I listened to 'Gretchen' or 'Dogman' more or less than it. Faith Hope Love is an album of great depth, sincerity and ... passion. With each listen, a new thing is heard, observed, noticed. Some of the things sneak up on you. Some catch your 'eye' automatically. It is an album that opens up like a little treasure chest. Some of the gems are ornate, some are simple. Some appear like costume jewellery, others like shining diamonds. No matter the contents of the chest, you value each and every stone and trinket discovered. All have equal value. Time may change your views of their gleam, but not a single thing is ever removed from that chest. Kind of like a wrinkled and faded dollar bill, criminally defaced by two signatures that make it worth a hundred times its value to the possessor.

With this album, I also associate the feeling of contempt and indignance. Not at King's X. At the media, and particularly other bands at the time, who appeared far more successful with something that I had known about since 'Out of the Silent Planet'. And I know all is 'cool' with parties involved, and this is not meant to enrage fans of, nor hold on to a grudge, but the one band that I remember being enraged with the most was ..... Pearl Jam. I remember how incredibly successful this band was with its first album in 1990. And I distinctly remember hearing 'Jeremy' and being absolutely fuming with this contempt and indignance. Because 'Jeremy' was a King's X song, but with Eddie Vedder singing it instead. This was further fueled by seeing them perform live on Saturday Night Live, and seeing the bass player (Jeff Ament) WEARING a King's X shirt while performing. I was in my early 20's at the time. I did not understand Ament's purpose in doing so was 'advertisement' and 'promotion' of a band he truly loved. All I saw was - you took King's X's sound, you've made a huge amount of money with it, and with your spare change you bought one of their shirts. That's all I saw. And there were a small number of bands that sounded like King's X on the horizon and in 1990 that further made me look at King's X and wonder .... why aren't they as successful??? It's their sound! They should have put a patent on it! A ® on their work ready to claim infringement of their art at a moment's notice, and with accolades pouring in for its innovativeness and ability to inspire? And the money. It was in 1990 that I knew the music business was wrong. It was upside down. It was unfair. And it left a slightly bitter aftertaste. My affection for this album grew, but also an intense protective jealousy towards others who tried to see inside the treasure chest and rob it of its jewels. If no one wants King's X, then they will be mine was the attitude, because you don't know what you're missing. And those fans upon fans of Pearl Jam and others, only had a portion of a portion of that chest. They had the chain that at its end once held a diamond encased in gold. Not the whole thing.

I'm thinking of the songs now that this album possesses, and I can't really think of a place to go with words that adequately says what's in that treasure chest of trinkets and rare gems. A sudden flash of "Everywhere I Go" comes in like an echo, only to be replaced by the beautiful "Legal Kill" (its most honest and profound line being 'truth does not depend on me'). Pinnick's vocal exuberance during the extensive title track, hidden behind a multi-layered King's X 'Orchestra' of instruments, or his strange disembodied like singing approach to "Talk To You", restrictive and cold as the person describes the inability to talk to those as unable to talk themselves. Pinnick's vocals throughout this album are as experimental as the music itself, and the styles embraced and abandoned since their previous effort. And the unity. The unity in which this all is presented by Tabor, Gaskill and Pinnick is something truly to be noticed and appreciated. Faith Hope Love in its artwork and fashion (and its title "by King's X") is their statement. A manifesto. It's their 'piece'. Not presented as a concept album by any means, it is more, these are the collected writings of three people (and one producer) about a certain thing (or three things). Look at the work as a whole, not as 5 short stories, 2 poems, and 6 novellas. It is meant to be Faith Hope Love by King's X, the collected writings about how they felt at the time about things.

This would be the part where I could go on about Tabor's amazing solo during 'Moanjam', or Gaskill's drumbreak and fills during 'I Can't Help It', or the when does this song actually end start and stop fashion of 'We Were Born To Be Loved'. In fact, you know when the song actually does end by the time you're used to its finale, but it's getting there each time which is so expectant and fun and joyous to celebrate that makes it a vicious cycle of pretending not knowing when it ends, but completely knowing when it does. Magic. The rabbit you know will appear out of that hat, but you still like seeing it rise up with assistance regardless.

This is not that part of my review. That was just an excerpt of wanting to say so many things, but words do not suffice.

Please purchase anything by King's X. I did. And it left me with so many words unsaid and spoken, that I think they will stay with me a lifetime.

Lords of the Demozone
Lords of the Demozone

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lords of the Demozone, February 14, 2008
This review is from: Lords of the Demozone (MP3 Music)
I'm giving it a 5 star review. Why? Cuz it's my work. If I went and gave myself 2 or 3 stars that would look awful wouldn't it. Downgrading my own efforts for the sake of truth and/or honesty just does not seem wise at this juncture.

In truth I'd give it a 3, just because of sound quality and the age of some of the works contained in this collection. I released this a week or so after TEARS, just so people who might look at that piece would see another collection of songs if they were interested in such things.

The selection of songs on Demozone were chosen because either:
A. I liked them and thought they were good representations of a work in progress.
B. People on MySpace strongly reacted to the songs when they were uploaded over the past 2 years.

These works aren't perfect by any shot. But the songs are good, considering I'm playing everything and the equipment I was working on is quite antiquated now (though the wonders of analogue still amaze me in the digital age).

As a judge of my own work, I think the strongest songs here are "Only Somedays" and "You" which came from a collection of demos entitled HUMANA, about the masks we wear throughout our lifetime to cope with the ways of life (and death). "This Situation" has always been a favourite, even with the duff note somewhere around the first chorus, and "Love Song" which was an experiment in how quickly I could record a song and upload it to MySpace (in preparation of getting my more major works "CHRONONAUT" and "FROM ASHES DOWN TO DUST" released in 2007 -- which did not happen. Because 2007 blew)

All in all, it's a pretty compact representation of some of the music I do, or a style which I tend to lean towards. Though I feel my best work is ahead of me, Lords of the Demozone tells you where I've been and how I got there.
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10,000 Days
10,000 Days
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 10,000 Days, November 23, 2007
This review is from: 10,000 Days (Audio CD)
I really wanted to love this CD. I really did. Part of me wanted to start this review (in my preparation to writing it) with a Hmmmmmm. Because I just did not know what to say about it.

To have a band like TOOL around during these days of very homogenised/pasteurised shelf market processed musical offerings where everyone sounds slightly the same barring the way the singer says "you" (optional "chu") is pure luck of the draw. They put so much work into what they do, visually, musicially, artistically, it is so difficult to fault them for anything. They are literally something very hard to find in the music industry. Had this been the late 60's, early 70's, it would be easier to find bands like TOOL roaming around the tundra, eating up all the vegetation, but in the 21st century, TOOL are one of the last of their species. And this species is dwindling if you listen to modern radio and pay attention to the media and what it says is the new link in the food chain. TOOL -- count your blessings in regards to them.

This aside, listening to 10,000 Days with eager anticipation because LATERALUS was so amazingly great (and I agree with the reviewer who stated every TOOL release just seemed to keep getting better the further into their career they got) was ..... well .... it just was.

First impressions should never be trusted. You should always give something or someone a 2nd, 3rd, 4th chance if possible. You might be missing something first time around. So first impressions left me thinking I loved "The Pot". But not alot else. And I was disappointed,. But I thought it was me. It might still be me. Maybe I am missing something. Maybe I'm looking too hard for something that just ain't there, or something that I understand now completely which was a mystery to me before. The questions, the questions.

After impression 15 (I keep trying with this album) I felt I had favourites from it. But I also had this nagging sensation. It kind of cropped up listening to my two favourite songs. They being "Jambi" and "The Pot". During both their "solo" sections, I sat there wondering, um, what is the difference between Jambi and The Pot here? They were practically interchangeable, and Danny Carey takes the same approach to one as he does the other. And part of me wondered, is it me who notices that this album has a sort of "automatic for the masses" feel to it, or have TOOL entered into a slight musical/inspirational rut? Maybe it's just me. But my two favourite songs all of a sudden became, the two songs that kinda sound alike for a little while, which makes me wonder what happens in the creative process, and maybe 5 years is too long to put out albums.

And after awhile, listening to all the songs, half the time I was saying "why"? I have no problems with songs being 11 minutes long. If I can sit and listen to Tales From Topographic Oceans by YES and concentrate on 4 songs that each last near or over 20 minutes, AND I'm not particularly a fan of that work preferring CLOSE TO THE EDGE or RELAYER, then TOOL are quite easy compared. 10,000 Days just seemed to have songs that I wondered "why" a lot. I just couldn't see a reason why this song had to be 8 minutes, or that one 9. Particularly with:
Wings For Marie (Pt 1)
10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)
Those two in particular.

I definitely have favourites on this album, they being:
The Pot
Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)
Rosetta Stoned
Right In Two

To me, these are all essential TOOL songs. Even with that slight nagging sensation I get with Jambi and The Pot. But Right In Two is something TOOL does incredibly well. And that song "feels" right. It takes ages to get through it, but you love it regardless, because the minutes are filled with something to listen to, and respect for its talent, and enjoy on multiple layers. Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann) & Rosetta Stoned are favourites. They just are. I think they're just incredibly interesting, moody pieces. They make you question, they make you curious, they make you wonder what's going on. TOOL - count your blessings in regards to them.

I just think this is an album, if I was introducing someone to TOOL, that I wouldn't go with. I don't know if it's me, or if it's TOOL, but something's not right here, and I'd love to get to the bottom of it, so I can look at this album for what it's truly worth. Or maybe I don't need to. I have the other albums to enjoy. But there's something about this album that I feel TOOL didn't do. I expected them to develop and change their sound massively. I don't know why. I just expected a major or at least noticeable departure from where they've been before. Different sounds, textures, different arrangements. I don't know what I was expecting. I just wasn't expecting this. And "this" made me feel like TOOL was here before in this territory, and the trail has truly been traveled. There were moments (quite a few) that I loved. But there were quite a few that made me say "I've heard this before". And I don't want to do that with TOOL. I didn't want to do that with Jambi and The Pot. But it happened.

Maybe in a couple years I'll say -- ahhh I see where they were headed. But right now, in this moment, I'm thinking TOOL counted the days because they just didn't quite know where they were. It just has a kind of "where do we go from here" quality about it, this 10,000 Days that I can't shake when listening to it. Hearing them use synthesisers on LATERALUS said they were expanding on how they do what they do. 10,000 Days seems like they stepped back to something pre-Lateralus thinking they missed something back there that they need. Don't know if that makes sense, but it just seems like 10,000 Days is a step-back. Not forward.

But it's TOOL. And there are very few like them, if at all, so it's worth it regardless. :)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2008 4:06 AM PST

Snakes & Arrows
Snakes & Arrows
Price: $5.99
108 used & new from $1.03

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snakes and Arrows, November 9, 2007
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
It took me awhile to buy this, only because 2007 has been a difficult year on the wallet. But I have never not bought a RUSH album. They never cease to put out something good in all their years of putting out stuff to listen to. I've never truly been disappointed by RUSH. There's always something there. And I can think of countless bands where creativity starts sliding to a gradual halt, and it's a basic regurgitation of previous ideas and past glories. And I've never seen RUSH do that. Though VAPOR TRAILS was slightly disappointing, and that was mainly in its sound, there were gems there.

Until you get to Snakes & Arrows.

For me this has to be one of the best albums they've released in ages. And when I say that, I don't mean it to sound like they've been coasting for years. One of my favourite albums by RUSH is Presto (1989). I think that album is brilliant. I loved Counterparts (1994) almost as much. And it's not to say Roll The Bones, Test For Echo, and Vapor Trails are not worthy of distinction. It was just that Presto and Counterparts were just always in my CD player where RUSH was concerned in the late 80's, 90's and recent years. It was just something about those two albums.

When I first heard Snakes & Arrows, it wasn't a wonderful setting. Sitting in a kitchen on a stool, late at night, because it was the only place I could go to get some solitude and time to myself to really listen to it. The first thing I noticed was the vocal sound of Vapor Trails was sort of back. And I think this dropped my sights a bit low on first impressions. Vapor Trails had a kind of "sameiness" to its production values, and I thought S & A was going to go down the same route. I got 5 songs in, and shut it off. I wasn't disgusted or anything. I quite liked Armour & Sword and Spindrift on first listens. They stood out. But it just wasn't grabbing me.

I had purchased the MVI version of the album, and watched as much of the documentary as I could. Heard Lifeson, Lee and Peart speak about the working conditions and how the album was put together. Thought about it. Went back and listened to the CD again.

All of a sudden, it clicked. And it was listening to "Workin' Them Angels" that did it. The first time hearing it, it truly did nothing for me. I liked it, but no urge to hear it again like Spindrift. That second time with the CD, I listened to it. And realised Workin' Them Angels is like "Red Barchetta" for the 21st century. I heard it. It had the same vibe going through it. And I smiled, because I realised RUSH still do their thing regardless of how people say they abandoned their prog roots to go synth and la de la de la la. RUSH is still there in everything they do. They just do it differently and when the mood is right. Workin' Them Angels revealed RUSH still creating Moving Pictures, but updated and relevant to now, not a repeat of premise.

From that point on, I listened to the whole album, and realised it was one of the best things they've ever released. I'm absolutely happy with this album and what's contained within. EVEN though I would have (as a producer) suggested that maybe an instrumental link between The Way The Wind Blows and Hope would connect those two better, or that Hope come after The Main Monkey Business, and segue into The Way The Wind Blows. Maybe that's nitpicky, but I just heard something there in the 3 songs that could've connected them a bit more, made them 3 parts of a whole. My only desire with the finished product. Because what I found in this album was a vibe and feeling running throughout the whole work, and it made it one of the most listeneable RUSH albums in ages. Every song works with one another very well, they all make sense together. And I found my favourite to be "Faithless". I think that's one of the best songs they've ever written.

That's really all I can say. It's one of their most musical albums in years, the inclusion of 3 instrumentals does this album no harm whatsoever, and it's got Faithless on it. I am really quite happy to say this is one of RUSH's best albums ever released. A major thumbs up.

Heaven Tonight
Heaven Tonight
39 used & new from $0.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven Tonight (1978), March 15, 2006
This review is from: Heaven Tonight (Audio CD)
My own reviews of Cheap Trick albums written already, I'd give each 2 stars. They were poorly written, and didn't even delve into the importance of the band's output from 1976 to 1979. I'd rewrite my reviews of Cheap Trick / In Color/ and Dream Police, if I thought you'd read them. But it was in my early days of Amazon, so verbosity wasn't adhered to, and I just tried to ''sum it up''.

What I've realised about particular bands I listened to constantly, growing up in America, was that I always had a favourite band member. No matter how good the band was together, there was always a person who stood out to me as ''on their own, they're just as good''. And maybe I don't listen to KISS the same way I used to, but I still feel Ace Frehley was their saving grace. I may not believe The Beatles were ''all that'', but George Harrison still remains my one of the very few in the category musical ''hero''. Queen's Roger Taylor issued solo albums, and I have each one of them, but not a solo album by any of the others. And so on and so on. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. Colin Moulding of XTC. Glenn Hughes in Deep Purple. There's always someone who stands out to me in a group.

Except for Cheap Trick.

It's the one band I know I listened to religiously between 1977 and 1984, that I did not have a favourite member of the band. And that must say something. It must say, that no one stood out over anyone else in this band, that they were all equals in some way some how. Without Zander singing Nielsen's ''power-pop'' it wouldn't be the same. Without Petersson's revolutionary use of the 8 & 12 string Bass, Cheap Trick would not have sounded as individual & unique as they did. And without Bun E. Carlos, they just wouldn't have had as great a drummer. It seemed all for one, and one for all in Cheap Trick, and it's the one band I can remember I did not say, ''yeah they're great, but Zander 'makes' that band.'' Not once.

So applauds to Cheap Trick for achieving the status of a 'true band'. With no one standing out over anyone else, and solidarity and unity present, even with a prolific main songwriter at the helm (Rick Nielsen).

Much debate hangs around the production techniques of Tom Werman as opposed to Jack Douglas. My main debate tends to linger around why a producer such as George Martin could give the band its first reasonable failure after such a high degree of rising success (All Shook Up). Maybe it's because the comparison to The Beatles is always brought up in accordance with Cheap Trick. But I believe that if you look more towards The Move and Electric Light Orchestra is where you'll find more influence hanging around Cheap Trick's way of doing things. Particularly late period albums by The Move, where there is definitely a way Zander & Nielsen do things that are highly reminiscent of the Wood & Lynne way of doing things. Listen closely to songs like 'Brontosaurus', 'Hello Susie', and, of course, 'California Man'. You'll find more Cheap Trick here than on ''The Beatles'' or ''Abbey Road''.

So Jack Douglas may have captured Cheap Trick's rawness, which Budokan's success said was the way to go, and Werman captured Nielsen's Pop Rock talents and gave them a ''sheen'', which was not a bad way to go either. It showed both sides of where Cheap Trick could sit on that fence, much like their album covers represented 2 sides of the band. And I played 'In Color' no more or no less than I did their 1st album. You can't resist songs like ''Oh Caroline'' and why would you? Nor would you want to avoid songs like 'Taxman Mr. Thief'' because they weren't as shined up.

And with Heaven Tonight, you get a little bit of both. There are definitely songs here that fit well on to the 1st album, and some of them were written that far back, so much was Nielsen's arsenal of songs in reserve. And it was a good thing that ''Surrender'' was held back, to enjoy the success Budokan would give it. It might have gone unsung if placed on the 1st album, which no one seemed to know about. And there are moments of ''pop bliss'', like the title track, which showed where Cheap Trick took finesse and where they went with it.

And overall this is a great album, with songs one after the other showing how good a band Cheap Trick is, no matter who's recording them. No filler whatsoever. Pop catchiness in ''On The Radio'', satirical remarks on society in ''Surrender'', the nastiness of "Auf Wiedersehen." The all-out rock of ''Stiff Competition'' and the power pop dregs of society aimed ''High Roller''. It all turns into a brilliant album, and what would have happened to Cheap Trick had Budokan not broke them through is anyone's guess. Something had to give, but for a band to put out three seminal albums in 2 years is pretty remarkable. Especially albums that have shown huge influence on American ''rock''. Cheap Trick's first 4 albums hardly sound dated, and with the current trends in 'alternative' rock, they don't sound like they're out of keeping either. The first 4 Cheap Trick albums are pretty much timeless. Highly recommended, you will not be disappointed.

Maybe Petersson's my favouriter member of the band. Nah. They're all great.

Spilt Milk
Spilt Milk
Price: $7.99
109 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spilt Milk (1993), March 15, 2006
This review is from: Spilt Milk (Audio CD)
For those, like me, that witnessed MTV late at night, and the oft chance that you'd be able to view the video for ''The King Is Half-Undressed'' or ''That Is Why'' in 1990, Jellyfish were something new that was old that was new again, and definitely interesting. I went out and bought ''Bellybutton'' after hearing ''That Is Why'', and its remained one of my favourite albums from the 90's. Bellybutton is an auspicious debut album, filled with great pop songs, huge influences from Badfinger, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys, with a great vocalist in Andy Sturmer, and the effortless songwriting of Sturmer and Roger Manning. It was also helped by Jason Falkner on guitar. Had he stayed in Jellyfish, I'm sure he would have suffered the George Harrison Syndrome, only to emerge years later with an album as good as Bellybutton. He cut his losses and moved on right after their debut album and has had a fairly successful solo career, with much applauds.

3 years was a long time to wait though for the follow up.

And when it was released, Spilt Milk left me a little cold. There were songs I liked immediately, such as ''New Mistake'', ''All Is Forgiven'' and ''Brighter Day''. But most of the album had me namechecking which band Jellyfish were portraying, whether it was Queen (''Joining A Fan Club'', ''All Is Forgiven''), Supertramp (''New Mistake''), Electric Light Orchestra (''New Mistake''), The Beach Boys ('' Hush'', ''The Ghost At Number One''). XTC aka The Dukes Of Stratosphear (''Sebrina, Paste & Plato''), and so on. After a few listens it was hard to hear who Jellyfish were on Spilt Milk, and where they started and where someone else began.

And then something funny happened.

The songs started really staying in my head. I forgot about ELO, Supertramp, The Beach Boys, and the songs began to speak for themselves. And after awhile ''New Mistake'' was less about 'it sounds like SuperELO' and more about, that song is as good as anything Supertramp or ELO recorded. It's actually a great song. It's almost ...... perfection.

And that is what Jellyfish achieved on Spilt Milk. A grand undertaking, and you can hear how much work was actually put into this recording and its production. And if you're going to peak and break up a band, then do it the Spilt Milk way. It is one of the 1990's masterpieces. I have no problems saying it, nor standing behind that assertion. One of the best albums issued in that decade that ever was. Miles ahead of their contemporaries, yet totally quicksanded in the past, Jellyfish's Spilt Milk is a wonder to behold, and to own.

Bellybutton is a simple album compared to Spilt Milk. Bellybutton works almost immediately on the listener, with very sparse instrumentation, memorable melodies, and a ''band'' feel. But Spilt Milk is almost like the Jellyfishchestra. Sometimes this gets a 'pompous', 'pretentious' or 'grandiose' label attached to it. And personally, I can't stand the words 'pompous', 'pretentious' and 'grandiose'. I feel its a word used defacto by people who don't have the energy, time or patience to put that much effort into anything at all, let alone record an album. So the P's and the G are an easy substitute rather than illustrate your own lack of conviction. The work put into Spilt Milk should be respected if anything for how it was done and what was accomplished. It was an updated version of the 60's and 70's for a 90's audience.

Spilt Milk's biggest draw is the songwriting of Sturmer & Manning. It holds up above the obvious influences, and Sturmer's voice is a definite pleaser. Particularly on ''Glutton Of Sympathy''. His falsetto is controlled and is never overused. Another huge draw are the lyrics. At first they threw me off, because I felt that nothing was actually being said for the sake of a clever pun, but once I removed this barrier to Spilt Milk, it revealed a very witty and intelligent lyrical approach, which often poked fun at the same things Jellyfish seemed to be celebrating. And they definitely had witticism in abundance. There are a multitude of clever turns of phrase and cliche to be found throughout the album.

''sure life's no cherry

but a cupcake for the meek

so he shoots up his poison

until the frosting tastes so sweet

(like a valentine)''


''yes he tries to hide the cross he


but splinters, like the truth have

always risen

all is forgiven''

It's just a great album about the English language and vernacular for one, regardless of the music contained within.

Musically, the talent that goes into the songs makes Spilt Milk shine even brighter. So it's part Supertramp or ELO. Do they actually do it well? Yes, quite well. And making ''New Mistake'' part Supertramp and part ELO, putting two bands that sounded very different from eachother makes Jellyfish's song something entirely new done with something ''old''. It shows influence and it shows creativity. And there is a lot of creativity on this album, particularly in the background vocal embellishments.

Though its missing Jason Falkner's Guitar & Bass work, Tim Smith provides solid Bass lines, and hired guns Lyle Workman (ex- Bourgeois Tagg) & John Brion do the guitars justice, never overplaying or going completely out of context with the song's intention. Bellybutton in appearance was like a novelty act, though the songs were great pop, the band itself seemed to be just as easily taken as a joke, or a pastiche of something else. With Spilt Milk, the band's image gets underplayed, but it is Jellyfish nonetheless in design and construction. Why it had to come to an end with Spilt Milk is beyond me, because surely Jellyfish had more in them beyond these two albums. But it's better it ended with this high watermark, rather than compromise and do something that's just in repetition of itself.

I'm not really sure of the comparisons to Sgt. Pepper, since I'm not particularly a huge fan of the album, but if a comparison has to be made, then 'yes, this is Jellyfish's Sgt. Pepper'. But remember, it was only their 2nd album, if such a comparison is to be made. And that says quite alot about how much talent it takes to make a Sgt. Pepper, and how many albums it takes to do it in. Though that's not to be interpreted as a slight on Sgt. Pepper, I'm sure it will be seen as one, so let the 'not helpful' votes come in flying. Just saying, Jellyfish achieved their ''masterpiece'' quite quickly in their career. Where they would have gone next is only in dreams, but I'm pretty sure it would have made Jellyfish one of the most respected bands of the 90's. It's obvious they did something right, because more than 10 years later, their 2 albums are still being talked about regularly.

Buy Spilt Milk and its predecessor Bellybutton, to hear some truly gifted songwriters and musicians do what they do best. Be pompous, pretentious and grandiose, and still come out with a song like ''New Mistake''.

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