Tag: album reviews

Album reviews – Icky Thump/Anonymous

Album reviews – Icky Thump/Anonymous

Music
Today I'm reviewing two new albums that could not be more different - The White Stripes' Icky Thump and Tomahawk's Anonymous. Well, they are alike in one key respect: they are both the end-result of artists who clearly care about their craft and go to great lengths to create music that will be anything but disposable. First to the White Stripes. If I had to guess, I'd say Jack White was revitalized by his work with The Raconteurs. While the Stripes' last effort, Get Behind Me Satan, had some inspired moments, it was a bit dense and labored overall. Icky Thump, while certainly ambitious in parts, heralds the return of the loose and fun atmosphere evident on the band's early albums. Somehow Jack White pulls off the feat of delivering an album that feels more expertly produced and p...
Chris Cornell should not have carried on

Chris Cornell should not have carried on

Music
Chris Cornell's first post-Soundgarden release, 1999's Euphoria Morning, was an artistic triumph and a commercial flop. Apparently, most of the fans who loved him in Soundgarden didn't care for his more introspective side. Perhaps in response, Cornell hooked up with three quarters of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave. Anxious to get to work on his second solo album, Cornell left Audioslave after three albums last February. Prior to the official breakup, Cornell surfaced as a solo artist with "You Know My Name," the theme song for the James Bond film Casino Royale. It was a promising signal of things to come -- but it turns out to have been a misleading one as well as his new album, Carry On, is a an uninspired bore. Things begin promisingly enough. The album opener, "No Suc...
Memory Almost Full – An understated triumph for McCartney

Memory Almost Full – An understated triumph for McCartney

Music
Paul McCartney long ago passed the point in his life and career where he had anything left to prove. Yet at 64, he continues to release new music at a pace that puts acts half his age to shame. And while his post-Beatles work has been derided by many as being so much fluff, his output over the last decade has been consistently satisfying. Macca's winning streak, which began with 1997's Flaming Pie, continues with his most recent release, Memory Almost Full. And while it may not surpass McCartney's best albums (Band on the Run and Tug of War to name a few), Memory Almost Full reveals that Sir Paul's gift for melody is still very much intact. (more…)
Macca is back-a.

Macca is back-a.

Music
Paul McCartney's new video, "Dance Tonight", made its debut on YouTube today. I checked it out, and it's pretty good (it even has an appearance by Natalie Portman). Not stunning, but good. It's the first single from his upcoming album, Memory Almost Full, which comes out in a few weeks. And for those who aren't up on his rather large body of solo work (which is unjustly criticized), that's all been made available for legal download on Rhapsody. The thing that gets me about Macca is that even at age 64, he seems to still have the ability to conjure up great melodies with seemingly little effort. And after a period of not-so-great albums starting in the mid-'80s, he began a revitalization of sorts with 1997's Flaming Pie. That creative rebirth was evident on his last record, the exc...
2nd Chance Album Review – Hear in the Now Frontier

2nd Chance Album Review – Hear in the Now Frontier

Music
The late '90s were not kind to Queensrÿche. 1990's Empire was a commercial juggernaut, selling more than 3 million copies in the U.S. The followup, 1994's Promised Land, was a strong artistic statement and sold well in its own right. Enter March 1997 and the release of Hear in the Now Frontier, Queensrÿche's sixth full-length studio album. The album failed to earn Gold status in the U.S. and plummeted off the charts after debuting at #19. To make matters worse, the group's record label - EMI America - went bankrupt soon after the album's release. The band was forced to finance their own tour, which simply stopped after just two months. By the end of the year, guitarist and key songwriter Chris DeGarmo left Queensrÿche after a roughly 17-year stay. Thus began Queensrÿche's time in the de
Album review – Send Away the Tigers

Album review – Send Away the Tigers

Music
Despite falling in love with the Manic Street Preachers' 1998 release, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, I never became a fan of the band. I guess part of the reason for that is I didn't care for their well-publicized political leanings, and allowed it to taint my enjoyment of the music. Stupid, I know. Anyway, I came across a positive mention of their latest release, Send Away the Tigers, on blogcritics so I thought I'd give them another shot. The first things that stands out about the new album - in contrast to the only other one I've heard - is its brevity. Truth clocks in at a beefy 63 minutes, while Tigers is done in less than 40. This is fine with me, as I've always felt that less tends to be more. But it turns out that in addition to scaling back on the amount of music, the M...
First impressions – Snakes & Arrows

First impressions – Snakes & Arrows

Music
Here's my stream of consciousness review of Snakes & Arrows, written as I listen to it. "Far Cry" - This is the only song I heard prior to the album release. This is much in the same vein as Test for Echo and Vapor Trails. It has a really catchy chorus, and crackles with more life than all of TFE. And of course there are the Hemispheres-era chord changes, which are sweet. "Armor and Sword" - A little plodding, but I like the addition of the acoustic guitar and the lush (but not overpowering) production. Lyrics are decent but it seems like Geddy doesn't know how to cram that many words into the arrangement. Love the bass tone on this one. More classic era chord changes toward the end of the song. The main qualm here is that it is just too slow, which lessens the impact of ...
Album review – From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

Album review – From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

Music
Mention the name Wynton Marsalis in some jazz circles and people will look at you as if you had just ripped a particularly loud fart. Due to his rather outspoken opinions on the validity of more traditional jazz styles over newer ones, he has been viewed alternately as a savior and a fossil. This was only exacerbated by his ubiquitousness throughout Ken Burns' controversial Jazz miniseries. Given this, it may not be possible for some to objectively approach his work - including his newest release, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary. Luckily for me, I never really paid attention to any of that controversy. However, I honestly never paid any attention to his music either. I decided to give this album a shot after seeing Marsalis's recent appearance on The Daily Show. And I have ...
2nd Chance Album Review – The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp

2nd Chance Album Review – The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp

Music
Just one year before prog-rock titans King Crimson released their first album, two-thirds of that band released their first and last studio album as the erstwhile trio of Giles, Giles & Fripp — guitarist Robert Fripp, Peter Giles on bass and brother Michael on drums. Released in 1968, during the height of the Psychedelic era, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp promptly sank into oblivion. But believe me, it's worth revisiting. If I had to surmise a reason why this album tanked, I'd say its oddly eclectic songs are a contributing factor. The album has a generous dose of cheeky, Kinks/Pythonesque humor, but most of the acts of the day were practicing a much darker and substantive form of psychedelia. Had this album been released even a year or 18 months earlier, it