The National / Sleep Well Beast

Sleep Well Beast

The National is an American indie rock band from CincinnatiOhio, formed in 1999. The band consists of Matt Berninger (vocals), Aaron Dessner (guitar, keyboards), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums).

Founded by Berninger, Aaron Dessner, and Scott and Bryan Devendorf, The National released their self-titled debut album, The National (2001), on Brassland Records, an independent record label founded by Dessner and his twin brother, Bryce Dessner. Bryce, who had assisted in recording the album, soon joined the band, participating as a full member in the recording of its follow-up, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (2003).

Leaving behind their day jobs, the National signed with Beggars Banquet Records and released their third studio album, Alligator(2005), to widespread critical acclaim. The band’s fourth and fifth studio albums, Boxer (2007) and High Violet (2010), increased their exposure significantly. In 2013, the band released its sixth studio album, Trouble Will Find Me, which was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. In 2017 the band released the album Sleep Well Beast.

Four of the band’s albums were included on NMEs 2013 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time

On May 11, 2017, the single, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” was released after two days of mysterious teasers. At the same time, a new album was announced, titled Sleep Well Beast, which was released September 8, 2017. The album’s second single, “Guilty Party” was released on June 28, 2017. The band released “Carin at the Liquor Store”, the third single from the album, on August 8, 2017. On August 29, 2017, they released the four single, “Day I Die”.

The band scheduled a worldwide tour in support of the album, which began in September 2017. In August 2017, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” became the band’s first song to reach number one on a Billboard songs chart, reaching number one on the Adult Alternative Songs chart.

The Analysis—-

Nobody Else Will Be There—-Coming out of a darkness, the gentle intro to the song carries a heavy and forlorn sound. The vocal enters…the familiar torment of the voice very present. The whispers of gentle music seems to transport you into the deep and melancholy feel of the mood. The double track vocal is exquisite….the whispers of pain stab your heart.

Day I Die—-Delivered with a bit more urgency and Indie like feel, the vocal is just incredible. This reminds me of the best of the bands I loved in the 90’s that no one else had ever heard of. This is a much larger song in scope and sound….the instrumentation more aggressive. The drums…so important to the pace of the track are clear and up front in the mix of the song. This is exquisite.

Walk It Back—-Returning to a bit more of a plodding feel musically, the vocal enters and brings classic Leonard Cohen to my mind as it is spoken/sung all the way through like a personal poem. This is stark and naked….full of mellow feel…that at times is interspersed with a building sound from the band that magically dissolves when the vocal returns. Wonderful.

The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness—-Delivered with brilliant instrumentation, the vocal is deeper in tone…but still as lonely and forlorn as anything you will find on this release. The tones of the guitars seem brighter…and the ever present drums are again forward in the mix of the song. I love the vocal style…switching between a deep incantation to a higher addictive soar on the ‘chorus’. A magical track.

Born To Beg—-Switching to a beautiful piano introduction, the vocal begins almost immediately….sounding as lonely and haunted as ever. The premise of the song…begging for love…is portrayed immaculately well in the vocal delivery and the stark and beautiful music. This is Indie Rock at it;s best…it just does not get any better.

Turtleneck—–I have always said that song placement is everything on a record…it adds to the cohesiveness and keeps the listener from becoming bored. This track….much more aggressive and noisy is right in place…breaking up the intense mood of the record and giving you some respite from the ‘darkness’ The guitars are louder…aggressive and the vocal actually has a magical angry edge to it. Perfect.

Empire Line—-Low guitar hums and the ever present drums create a dark and solemn feel to this track as it develops. The vocal enters…..sounding morose…but somehow brighter than in earlier songs. This is a quiet introspective affair…but solid in the musicianship….the lyrics cause me to sit back and ponder meanings…but this band, as usual, is elusive in a firm song meaning.

I’ll Still Destroy You—-Right from the onset, this has an entirely different musical feel. The vocal enters and again is an almost spoken word affair…but the music never quite quits….an almost quasi-dance track in the backdrop. This is remarkable….obviously the quaint synth line is necessary here…the surprise for me is the quite proper chorus that has an addictive quality that is hard to forget. This is fantastic….one of my favorite tracks.

Guilty Party—-A staccato synth line in the back drop….entwined with a somber dark feel that overlaps everything allows for another journey into the mind of what must be a true genius. The voice is remarkable….never veering from what we expect…no histrionics….no tone changes…but somehow comforting and familiar. The entire thing is like visiting with an old friend.

Carin At The Liquor Store—-Wonderful, right from the onset. The introduction piano is just beautiful…..almost taking my breath away. The song opens up a bit by the second bar…the vocal seeming to move to the back of the music…sounding almost faint and resolute. this is beautifully constructed and delivered. Another favorite track of mine.

Dark Side Of The Gym—-Again, although stark and beautiful, the track has a hopeful feel to me. Not nearly as dense and down trodden for me, this almost sparkles to my ears. The promise to stay in love means love has been found…and that is a positive sound to me. This is remarkable. Truly a fantastic band.

Sleep Well Beast—-Rounding out the release with a return to the synth sound of a few earlier tracks, the vocal enters and just reeks of Leonard Cohen and the magical way he told stories in his vocal delivery. This is brilliant….the song….the longest on the release, is an ode to all of the bands heroes I’m sure. I wish I could understand all of the brilliance that is in the lyrics from this band….but perhaps it is all left better to interpretation. This is magical….this release is yet another triumph.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

Gene / Olympian

Olympian

Gene were an English alternative rock quartet that rose to prominence in the mid-1990s. Formed in 1993, they were popularly labelled as a Britpop band and often drew comparisons to The Smiths because of their Morrissey-esque lead singer, Martin Rossiter. Gene’s music was influenced by The JamThe SmithsThe Style Council and The Clash.

Olympian is the 1995 debut album by British guitar band Gene, released on 20 March 1995 by Costermonger Records.

It is frequently recognized as one of the crowning achievements of Britpop.

The album sound is noted for being influenced by The SmithsThe Jam & The Small Faces. Aesthetically, the album cover reminds of The Smiths’ sleeves.

The album reached number 8 in the UK albums chart, selling 70,000 copies and gaining a silver disc.

The image used for the cover is a still from Ingmar Bergman‘s The Seventh Seal.

The Analysis—-

Haunted By You—-Beginning with a decidedly British sound, this track, at the onset leads the most resemblance to legendary Morrissey. The music is large and boisterous….the lyrics are filled with an intense fervor of human emotion…even now, for me…this release sounds fresh and new and filled with a promise of things to come. This was a fantastic listen my first time…I nearly had heart failure. The quasi-rockabilly sound is remarkable…and the backdrop voices allow the song to sound huge.

Your Love, It Lies—-Martin enters with a forlorn and emotional vocal delivery that is layed over a sparse instrumentation. When the chorus enters and the band opens up….I fall in love with the energy…just as suddenly it disappears again…..a remarkable journey of moods. You can catch every single word that is sung….and the energy builds and builds…almost making me lose my mind. A wonderfully intelligent band with very introspective lyrical content.

Truth, Rest Your Head—-Gentle at the onset with a wonderful melody that plays underneath the vocal, the song slowly develops and becomes more muscular before giving up and falling melancholy again. This is a perfect recipe that works wonderfully well for this band. The chorus is contagious…melodic and energetic….making you push rewind more than once as you listen.

A Car That Sped—-Rossiter enter with his vocal laid over a beautiful piano introduction. By the time the chorus begins, the song is again an anthemic delivery of power chords and emotional energy. Martin has such an emotive voice…you catch every word…every inflection and every emotion. It is the huge chorus that attracts me so much…this is still so nice to listen back on.

Left-Handed—-Huge and driving from the very first note, the muscular music almost threatens the vocal from Martin. The song slows and allows the voice…but becomes huge and driving in a moments notice. This is really nice…showing diversity and the ability to change things up from song to song. This is a huge track.

London, Can You Wait—-Hands down, my favorite track on this release, I often pull out this CD to to listen to this song. I love the melancholy feel of the song….and the way it builds to a screaming urgency in my brain as Martin hollers…”I was having the time of my life, why did you have to die”. Just remarkable…emotional and fantastically crafted.

To The City—-With a huge drum based intro and exquisite guitars full of feed-back, Rossiter enters with his vocal pushed a bit to the back of the mix…really letting the band shine. At times, the music falls away for split seconds…but comes roaring back in a muscular and aggressive delivery. I love the little interludes and the fact that the band really gets to play…

Still Can’t Find The Phone—-Returning to the true British styling of the band, you can almost hear the accent of Rossiter as he delivers the vocals of this sparse and rather pretty song that has very dark edges in the lyrical content. The British Irony is remarkable with bands like this….you almost have to look inside the words to realize this is perhaps not the pleasant song it portrays itself to be.

Sleep Well Tonight—-With a perfect recipe of muscular chorus and introspective lyrics…combined with an addictive melody…this is another very favorite track of mine. You can’t forget the energy that the band conveys in the playing and the way the vocal gets stronger and more urgent as every thing comes together in a perfect storm. This is brilliant!

Olympian—-A beautifully arranged intro to the song allows Martin to enter with his voice…stark…beautiful and damn near pitch perfect. This is so sparse at the onset…..the song opens up slowly with a wonderful melody and a catchy addictive chorus that makes you sad and elated at the same time. I think for a debut release, this was fantastic. When that chorus builds…I just want to jump up and down in a circle….scream and die with the sadness and elation of the song. This is fabulous.

 

We’ll Find Our Own Way—-Ending the release as strong as it began, I doubt the band even cared that for me they were releasing a ground-breaking debut that would be played thousands of times. For me…this helped to kick start the Britpop thing in my brain…I listened because of The Smiths comparisons….I fell in love for the simple uniqueness of the band. This is a wonderful listen.

***** out of 5

Tom Petty / Hard Promises

Hard Promises (Remastered)

Hard Promises is the fourth album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released in May, 1981.

I decided to make this release my Tom Petty tribute…it was and still is my favorite release from this iconic performer. Although there were many, many great songs, for me this was a cohesive and incredibly emotional record…..so it is my choice.

The Analysis—-

The Waiting—-There is something incredibly magical about the Mike Campbell sound on the guitar. When the intro to this begins…there is no doubt what band this is. Petty delivers a vocal that is so nasally and punchy….I fall in love again every time I re-listen to this record. There is a slight urgency to the song….it moves fast and Petty seems rushed at times…but damn is it a classic!

A Woman In Love [It’s Not Me]—-Again with that trademark Heartbreakers sound! Petty delivers a nasally vocal that makes me want to tell him to open his mouth when he sings…lol. But the melody of this song….damn…it catches your brain and drags you right in…you can’t escape the lazy, bluesy feel of the track…this is exquisite.

 

Nightwatchman—-With a funky guitar delivery, the vocal still manages to shine though over the music. Mid second bar, the Campbell sound opens up the track…and then delves right into the funky free flowing delivery of the song. I love the almost ‘experimental’ sound of this track…this was all brand new to me as a Junior in High School…but I fell in love.

Something Big—-A magnificent gentle opening to the track takes you on a journey before the vocal even begins. Petty enters with his vocal…a slight echo seemingly to resonant from every word. Petty delivers a vocal that has a nice Country drawl to it that never gets old….the entire track reeks of Country…..lazy, laid back…but filled with a magical summer sunshine.

Kings Road—-Delving again into an almost Rock/Country sound, I am still amazed at how comfortable Petty sounds with the music that is being produced….no surprise considering the releases that were to follow. The guitars on this track are very big….but they never seem to overpower the vocal….this is rockabilly, rock and Country all rolled into one song.

Letting You Go—-Sounding much in the same vein as the opening track, Petty sings clearer than I had heard in quite sometime. This is a lazy….catchy…almost contagious track that lives on the remarkable chorus. This is catchy as hell…..the finest ‘mainstream’ track from Petty to date. The melody and the joined vocals give a huge 80’s feel to the song….just brilliant.

 

A Thing About You—-Instantly switching the mood and delivering  a track that screams with urgency and want, this is a favorite of mine. You notice the lack of the nasal tone on this track….Petty sings to fast to use his nose…lol. This is brilliant….strong…aggressive and delivered with an intention.

Insider ft. Stevie Nicks—-In the rock world, there are seldom to voices that blend together with the magical results of Petty and Nicks. This track is incredible…heartbreaking…..beautiful and delivered in a magical moment in the studio. This will ALWAYS remain a favorite track of mine…..above all else.

 

The Criminal Kind—-Off again in full Petty mode, this seems to hearken back to the very early days of the Heartbreaker sound. You can just see Campbell jamming on his guitar. The keyboards add a dirty kind of bluesy sound that is irresistible….a magical moment….for me, there is not one bad track on this release.

You Can Still Change Your Mind—-Incredibly poignant….perhaps my favorite Tom Petty song EVER…..this track never really truly leaves my mind…it was so relatable to me at the moment….I felt like it was a song written just for me…his is a masterpiece of a song. Brilliant….sad….touching…meaningful…..I will miss the man! And that little Nicks additive at the end…..magical!

***** out of 5

 

Cradle Of Filth / Cryptoriana-The Seductiveness Of Decay [Bonus Tracks]

Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay

Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is the twelfth studio album by the British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth. It was released on 22 September 2017 through Nuclear Blast Records.

Dani Filth said the album “is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that. ‘Cryptoriana’ implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish. And the subtitle, ‘The Seductiveness of Decay’, further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation”.

The first promotional single, “Heartbreak and Séance”, premiered alongside an accompanying music video on 11 July 2017.

The second single, “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw”, premiered together with a lyric music video on 8 August 2017.

The third single, “Achingly Beautiful” was also released in conjunction with a lyric video on 15 September. Vocalist Dani Filth stated the single “has a very old-school Cradle vibe.” and compared it to the song “A Gothic Romance” from the album Dusk and Her Embrace.

The Analysis:

Exquisite Torments Await—-The one thing you can always count on with a new Cradle release is consistency. This begins much in the vein as you would expect…orchestrated and atmospheric…interrupted by a gut wrenching scream, then the growl of Dani Filth that wanders between squeal and bark. The remarkable chorus is fantastic….with what sounds like a choir of voices and orchestration. The drumming is fantastic….and the guitars soar as well as the vocal.

Heartbreak And Seance—-The intro for this track melds from the previous track…allowing for a cohesive transition. The simple fact that Filth can still scream like this is incredible. The song moves at a blistering speed…the words come at you fast and furious with a generous amount of evil spit included. Filth sounds incredible…..but the band on this outing sounds even fresher and more driven than ever.

Achingly Beautiful—-Teasing us with a gentle instrumentation at the onset, there is only 30 seconds before all hell breaks loose and we are off and running again….trying to keep up with Dani Filth and his blistering fast lyrics. The way the vocal changes tones is amazing….from screams to growls in a split second. The addition of trademark female vocals add a depth and fullness to the song. The rhythm section of this band is ON POINT!!!! The drums are just amazing. I am falling in love with the band all over again. The toy like piano and the orchestration with the conclave of voices add a nice break in the song and make it sound literally huge.

Wester Vespertine—-Beginning slow and overblown, the band enters…sounding a little muted to me like a huge wind is blowing over them. The bass guitar is literally huge on this track…..you can feel the chug chug chug in your temples. As usual, Filth never disappoints with his vocal. The nice overdubs add another sense of harmony to the entire thing. This is fantastic! The spoken female parts of the song give it a nice demonic edge…..Happy Halloween!!!!

The Seductiveness Of Decay—-With a deeper more plodding intro, you can only guess what will occur. The song builds and builds on the bass sound…slowly adding nice guitar leads and then the bullet fast blast of the bass line. Dani again…sings so damn fast…you wonder how he can fit so many words in a single bar of music. This is aggressive and made a bit uglier by the gutter vocal…the song lightens up here and there….nice breaks in the aggression…but then enters back into the fray of mayhem. I love this track…..at the midpoint…there is a rhythm and melody that is almost addictive. At times the bass line sounds straight out of the Steve Harris playbook!!!

Vengeful Spirit —-Ha…..fool me once and all that Cradle…..this pretty interlude is all a facade…lol. Dani almost whispers in the aggressive guitar attack that emerges….and then delivers line after line of scary storybook horror stories. The band sounds so incredible to me on this release…the female vocal adds depth and body to the song…taking you to an even higher level. This is the best Cradle in quite awhile.

You Will Know The Lion By His Claw—-No gentle introductions here, this track is pretty much off and running right from the get-go. The band sounds incredible….does all this orchestrated sound come from just a keyboard…the result is huge. Filth sounds demented on this track…urging you to do unworldly things….and you just dying to comply. The bass section again….just drives the track….giving it a groove underneath everything that sucks you in. I love this….Filth can scream like a Mother Fuc&er!!!!

Death And The Maiden—-Rounding out the proper release, this track begins much with the same atmosphere as the opening track. The orchestration that introduces the song is almost bordering on beautiful. The band kicks in with the most melodic delivery of anything thus far on the record. This is remarkably intricate and almost pretty at times…the music has all of these small nuances that catch my attention. The track gives you many moods…but the vocal….delivered in a matching word for word at times sucks you right in…this is remarkable…..a really top notch release.

Bonus Tracks—-

The Night At Catafalque Manor—-Organized mayhem from the very onset, the band pummels through the intro before the addition of another blistering vocal from Filth. This song sounds…to me….literally huge! Dani, at times on this track, literally sounds possessed…aided in the backdrop by the soaring oohs of the female vocalist. This is a magical moment…well worth paying for the bonus version of this release simply for this huge, monumental masterpiece of classic sounding Cradle. When Dani adds that classic spoken word interlude…it makes me want to re-listen to everything again!

Alison Hell—-Another acoustic and gentle interlude, the bursts of power eventually over ride the beauty and transport us back to Metal Heaven. Again….I listen to this and think of Iron Maiden again. This is fantastic…the mood changes throughout the song are damn near perfect…..giving you LOTS to pay attention to. This is fantastic…..Dani finally enters and delivers a true Metal vocal….sounding as good as he did when the band first began. This is a fantastic release!

****3/4 out of 5

 

KMFDM / HELL YEAH

Hell Yeah

KMFDM (originally Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, “loosely” translated by the band as “no pity for the majority”) is an industrial band led by German multi-instrumentalist Sascha Konietzko, who founded the group in 1984 as a performance art project.

The group’s earliest incarnation included German drummer En Esch and British vocalist Raymond Watts, the latter of whom left and rejoined the group several times over its history. The trio recorded the band’s earliest albums in Germany before Konietzko and Esch moved to the United States, where they found much greater success with seminal industrial record label Wax Trax!. German guitarist Günter Schulz joined in 1990; both he and Esch continued with the band until KMFDM broke up in 1999. Konietzko resurrected KMFDM in 2002 (Esch and Schulz declined to rejoin) on Metropolis Records, and by 2005 he had assembled a consistent line-up that included American singer Lucia Cifarelli, British guitarists Jules Hodgson and Steve White, and British drummer Andy Selway. Konietzko and Cifarelli moved back to Germany in 2007, while the rest of the band stayed in the U.S. In addition to these core members, dozens of other musicians have worked with the group across its nineteen studio albums and two dozen singles, with sales totaling in excess of two million records worldwide.

Critics consider KMFDM to be one of the first bands to bring industrial music to mainstream audiences, though Konietzko refers to the band’s music as “The Ultra-Heavy Beat”. The band incorporates heavy metal guitar riffs, electronic music, samples, and both male and female vocals in its music, which encompasses a variety of styles including industrial rock and electronic body music. The band is fiercely political, with many of its lyrics taking stands against violence, war, and oppression. KMFDM normally tours at least once after every major release, and band members are known for their accessibility to and interaction with fans, both online and at concerts. Members, singly or working together and with other musicians, have recorded under many other names, primarily Watts’ Pig, Konietzko’s Excessive Force, and Esch and Schulz’s Slick Idiot.

Hell Yeah is the twentieth album by KMFDM, it was released on August 18, 2017, on earMUSIC and KMFDM Records.

The Analysis—-

Hell Yeah—-A contagious and remarkable dance beat opens this track. The sound transports me back to the awakening of the Industrial sounds and movement of the 90’s. This is a bit tame to me though….not quite as aggressive as usual….but catchy as hell….it seems like the creative juices are still in flow on album number 20!

Freak Flag—-Again, this is full of the 90’s style beats and direction that defined the band in it’s heyday….the step backwards, with all of the available technology available today, is a bit disappointing. As always, the chorus of the song…steered by the ever present female vocal shapes the direction of the song. This is nostalgic in sound…..and offers little new in sound.

Oppression 1/2 /Total State Machine/Oppression 2/2—–I don’t dislike this record…..but with everything that is going on in the world today, I expected more anger and ire. After the mundane intro, the music does open up into a fantastic gallop of noise that makes me inwardly smile. The words fascist and hate appear throughout…..perhaps they got the message….this shaped up to be a great track. A single for sure!!!!

Murder My Heart—-The lead off single from this release, this is a but tame and generic at the onset. I’m amazed at the lack of aggression and anger on this release. This is a’love song’ that leaves me less than impressed and inspired.

Rip The System V. 2.0—-This is more like it…..the song opens up with more aggressive beats, the female vocal disappears and Sasha delivers line after line of everything that is wrong in the world today. This is accessible….but meaningful enough to restore some of my faith in the band. This reminds me of Nitzer Ebb.

Shock—-Returning to a mundane and predictable sound, the music that plays underneath is the songs saving grace. The beats give off an urgency that steers the song despite the female love tale that ensues in the song. I love the sharp and direct beats.

Fake News—-Everything  I hoped this song would be and more. Fantastic lyrics that are timely and important…..a beat that drives the song to a pinnacle of excitement. A chorus that will live in the front of your brain for days….send this to that Trump guy will ya!!! This is fantastic.

Rx 4 The Damned—-I don’t embrace the female vocal of the song right away…but it really grows on you. This is the aggression and anger that I have been hungry for. When the voices join together for the chorus, the song becomes literally magnificent. I really like this…….all the noise I needed and more.

Burning Brain—-Continuing is the same vein as the previous track, the second half of this release far outweighs the beginning. Sasha delivers a vocal that borders on angry dementia that brings a huge smile to my face. This is the KMFDM I wanted from the very onset. Incredible!!!

Only Lovers—-Ugh…..not at all what I wanted…..this sounds like a dated Motels song. I hate the mood shifts…..just when the band finds a groove…..than this!!!????? Just crap….

Glam, Glitz. Guts & Gore—-Ending the release much better than it started, the band delivers a scathing and blistering musical backdrop that literally blows your head off. This is aggressive….driving……forceful and full of biting vocal. I freakin’ love this song. A masterpiece this one. Leaves a great taste in my mouth.

***3/4 out of 5

 

R.E.M.—-Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 [Pt. 2]

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 [Explicit]

The Analysis—-

Disc Two:

Everybody Hurts—-Continuing with a track that again brought worldwide attention to the band, Stipe sounds literally crushed in his vocal delivery. The heaviness of the song lyrics are matched perfectly with the understated style of guitar and gentle drums. A true favorite track of mine.

Man On The Moon—-Fun and a bit lighter than the previous track, I have always loved this song. he duel vocals are remarkable….raising Mills and his talents to a whole new level. This is brilliant….addictive and remarkably fresh for the time we are in now. I love this song.

Nightswimming—-Such an odd and rather ominous intro, Stipe enters with his melody heavy vocal that gives the song it’s very structure. This is a remarkable track…beautifully stark and full of an indescribable intensity and beauty. A true standout.

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth—-Such a joyous and noisy track. I remember falling in love with this the first time I heard it. The electricity from the instruments are just phenomenal. The driving guitar line is incredible….the tone of the song urgent and intense…..just fantastic.

 

New Test Leper—-Sedate and delivered with a beautiful understated acoustic guitar, Stipe sounds almost defeated and broken in his vocal delivery. This is a strong track…..truly accessible but very Indie at the same time.

Electrolite—-Really almost an extension of the previous track, this carries the same feeling over. The lyrics are intense…the music understated and the vocal delivery almost heavy with a certain sadness. he understated elements of the song make it even more powerful for me.

At My Most Beautiful—-Piano heavy and still understated in the instrumentation, this has an almost ghostly feel to it. The simple strains are powerful….the vocal pushed to the back of the mix making you feel a sadness and heavy emotional feel. This is dark but beautiful.

The Great Beyond—-I don’t really feel a familiarity with this track….it seems naked and uninspired to me….I’m left with an empty feeling from the starkness of the song. Not a throw a way……but not a favorite either.

Imitation Of Life—-Returning to a more familiar and accessible sound, this sounds like an invigorated band that decided to return to the sound the fans fell in love with. This is much more pleasant…sounds inspired and had an addictive chorus that is just brilliant.

Bad Day—-Electric and almost with a funk line in the underbelly, this sounds like a throwback to It’s The End Of The World….delivered in the same urgent feel and jerky jaunty guitar. Stipe sounds a bit hollow…like the freshness of the band really had left him.

Leaving New York—-Again sedate and delivered with an odd style vocal that really never resonated with me….like Stipe thinks he is in a stage play or something. This is not on my list of favorite tracks by any means. Only the chorus saves the song for me…..

Living Well Is The Best Revenge—-The electricity and urgency side of the band returns in a fiery display of guitars and drums. Stipe sound possessed as he delivers his lines fast as lightening and with a renewed purpose. This is a fantastic, noisy track.

Supernatural Superserious—-Perhaps one of the last truly meaningful and powerful tracks from the band before the demise, the electricity of the band is in full force. Mills returns on the backing vocals and fills out the song remarkably well. This is a huge track for me….I love Mills voice and the melodic quality of Stipe’s singing.

Uberlin—-With a nice throwback sound to the mid 90’s, this track sounds much better to me now listening back on it. The understated instrumentation seems to wrap itself around the emotional feel of the lyrics. Really a beautifully constructed song.

Oh My Heart—-This for me…..is just a mess. The attempt to deliver a Spanish style feel to the guitar falls flat. Stipe sounds like he is singing in another room. Even the addition of Mills can’t even come close to saving this song.

Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter—-A nice vigorous feel to the electric side of the band, the music has an urgency that is nice…but there is so much happening here that it all comes about as a musical mess full of chaos and incongruity. I really don’t like this. Even Kate could not save this.

A Month Of Saturdays—-Empty and uninspired. Naked and without form……a band that has lost direction…..Stipe sounds bored and tired.

We All Go Back To Where We Belong—-The swan song is a pretty but uninspired track that leaves me sad to see them go…but happy to know that they knew when the inspiration was gone. This is pretty…..but really does not resonate with me.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

 

R.E.M / Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 [Explicit]

R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, that was formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. One of the first alternative rock bands, R.E.M. was noted for Buck’s ringing, arpeggiated guitar style, Stipe’s particular vocal quality and obscure lyrics, and Mills’ melodic basslines and backing vocals. R.E.M. released its first single—”Radio Free Europe“—in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band’s first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single “The One I Love“. The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre. The band then released its two most commercially successful albums, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which veered from the band’s established sound and catapulted it to international fame. R.E.M.’s 1994 release, Monster, was a return to a more rock-oriented sound, but still continued its run of success. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; the tour was marred by medical emergencies suffered by three of the band members.

In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US$80 million, at the time the most expensive recording contract in history. Its 1996 release, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, though critically acclaimed, fared worse commercially than its predecessors. The following year, Bill Berry left the band, while Stipe, Buck, and Mills continued the group as a trio. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success, despite having sold more than 85 million records worldwide and becoming one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in their first year of eligibility. R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011, announcing the split on its website.

Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 is a 2011 greatest hits album from alternative rock band R.E.M. Intended as a coda on their career, this is the first compilation album that features their early work on independent record label I.R.S. Records in addition to their 10 studio releases through Warner Bros. Records. The double-disc retrospective was released through Warner Bros. on November 11, 2011, and was compiled by the band members. The existence of the compilation was revealed simultaneously with the group’s announcement that they were disbanding on September 21, 2011.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Gardening At Night—-Beginning with the trademark style of guitar twang the band was know for in the early days,  the vocal from Stipe enters displaying his unintelligible vocal style that always lest everyone guessing as to the true lyrics and meanings of the songs back in the burgeoning days of the band. The jaunty feel of the song is addictive and instantly recognizable….still filling me with a joy and reminder of the beginning of what we all called Alternative.

Radio Free Europe—-Perhaps recognized as the first proper release from the band, this was a landmark recording for me. I instantly fell in love with the band and the mystery that surrounded the meaning of the songs. The energy of these early recordings still manage to bring a smile to my face…instantly making me appreciate the genius of the band and at the same time mourn the passing of true legends. This is addictive…accessible and damn pleasant to listen to…..when Mills joins in on the chorus….the song is unstoppable.

 

Talk About The Passion—-Beginning with the unmistakable guitar sound that the band always managed to deliver, Stipe enters with a melancholy vocal that always seems to wrap itself around my very soul. here were times in my youth when I was sure the man was constructing these emotional masterpieces designed for my dark and needy moods. a true wonderful memory of youth, sadness, struggle and an underlying joy.

Sitting Still—-A song I was not really familiar with my title alone, it is one of those songs that when you hear the beginning chords you say….ah yes…that one. Again, there are times when Mills enters on the vocal and rounds out the sound of the song. I love the urgency, the pleading feel of the vocal and the remarkable jangly feel of the music.

So. Central Rain—-Tracks like this….from perhaps my favorite R.E.M. release, remind me of a care-free, employment free, alcohol filled summer of complete abandon and a deepening dive into everything Alternative and out of the mainstream. Stipe still delivered lyrics that were open to interpretation and implication and just left enough of the dial to appeal to the youth of the day. Fantastic.

[Don’t Go Back ToRockville—-full of Country inspired guitar strumming, the song opens up further upon the chorus  and becomes a frenzied romp that is even pertinent these days. I love the lazy drawl that Stipe manages to deliver throughout the entire song. There is a deep underlying tone to the song that is magical….and then Mills starts to sing with Michael on the chorus and the song becomes a masterpiece.

Driver 8—-Driving and seemingly filled with a bass driven aggression, Stipe again delivers a slurred type of vocal that seems to dissolve during what could be the most important lyric. Mills takes a bigger part on the vocal on this track and really serves as foreshadowing of how important his vocal would become later in the band. This is a driving, bass filled angst ridden journey that I still love.

Life And How To Live It—-This is a nice example of the slow but steady evolution of the sound of the band. Although much of the lyrical content is still a mystery. the sharpness and ability of the band seems to improve with every song on this compilation. These were the finest days of a classic and brilliant band.

Begin The Begin—-This release started for me a progression that the band continued until it’s demise. The music was brighter and filled with messages for the listener to grab a hold of. The lyrics were clearer and the music was filled with an aggressive delivery that seemed to help the message be conveyed to the listener. This was a brilliant track.

Fall On Me—-With an almost Alt-Country intro, the band introduces a addictive mellow sound that propels your mind to struggle with the lyrics, draw your own conclusions and fall in love with the blended vocals from Stipe and Mills. A truly shining moment from the kinds of Alternative.

Finest Worksong—-I love the propulsive feel of the guitar on this song. The riff sounds like it is always progressing but manages to stay in one place. Again we get remarkable blended vocals and a huge masculine bass line that still sounds incredible now. I really consider this one of my favorite tracks from the band.

 

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It—-Jaunty and fun right from the onset, the song travels at an amazing pace. The lyrics come at you so fast and furious….it is hard to keep track of all he doom that is being delivered. Another track that still stands the test of time remarkably well.

The One I Love—-One of the songs responsible for propelling this beloved Indie band to world wide success, The band stayed true to their sound and message…I guess the time was just right for the band to burst from the underground, so to speak. Laid back and gentle until the heavier chorus guitar line, Stipe sounds remarkably fresh and driven…sincere and positive in delivering his message.

Stand—-For me this has always been a track that has a slight silly side to it. The lyrics and clear and simple…the guitar is basic and understated. The chorus is addictive and will live in your brain for a long time. Addictive and fun.

Pop Song 89—-Another track that for me at least, has a slight Alt-Country feel to the under belly of the melody line. The crisp clarity of the vocals are a big change from the early days. The message is quasi-political and the melody line damn pleasant.

Get Up—-Aggressive with sharp burst of guitars and great drumming, the mixed vocal brings an automatic smile to my face. Sometimes I prefer the Mills vocal over Stipe. This is a fine progression in sound and direction.

Orange Crush—-Another landmark release for me, this was a nice throwback in sound to the earlier days of the band…the duel vocals…the jangly guitar and the vocal urgency. This was also a period when I think Mills started adding vocals even more to the band’s songs…giving the sound a pleasant fuller sound. Remarkable still today.

Losing My Religion—-Another track that really pushed the band and sales into the upper reaches of the universe. The track is pleasant enough but at this pint suffers from overplay. I don’t have complaints about the song, I’m just tired of it.

Country Feedback—-Bringing the Country leanings of the band into the front of the sound, I love the talk delivery of the vocal…..it tends to give the song a haunting feel that still manages to give me goosebumps. This is wonderful to hear again.

Shiny Happy People—-The joining of vocals from Stipe and Kate Pierson was pure genius. The blend is perfect and created a magical musical moment in history. The jangly feel of the music is true to the sound of the band….but the elements of Stipe, Mills and Pierson makes this a masterpiece.

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight—-Never a true favorite of mine, I still love the basic elements of the song. The sound is true to form,,,Stipe sings with an urgency that is nice to hear….The range of vocal styles are great…the chorus falls flat for me though

*****