Friday, July 27, 2007

New Music

I've gotten a lot of new music lately and haven't had time to post reviews of everything, so I'm going to do one post and just do a quick review of everything.

Pearl Jam - Live at the Gorge Box Set

It's a pretty well known fact that I am a HUGE Pearl Jam fan. In my iTunes library, PJ has the highest number of tracks out of all artists (619 tracks or 629 if you want to count the Temple of the Dog album). This box set contributed 100 of those tracks. 8 hours of music, all live, all recorded at The Gorge in George, WA. There are 3 complete shows represented, 1 in 2005 and 2 on back to back nights in 2006. The music covers PJ's entire history, going all the way back to the beginning, even including early stuff that wasn't on Black like Wash. Technically, they go back to before the band existed as Crown of Thorns (originally done by Mother Love Bone, Stone and Jeff's original band). The 2006 shows include a lot of new material from the 2006 self-titled album.

The sound is great, song choices are great, it's live Pearl Jam so what else would you expect? PJ knows what playing live music is all about. They truly appreciate their fans and it shows. How many bands are willing to record every show they do and make it available to their fans? One of the things that makes me love PJ so much is represented on this box set: when they record a live show and release it, they don't "clean it up" or fix mistakes, you get the real thing. On the 2005 show, Eddie misses some lyrics in "Off He Goes" and they just laugh it off. He totally blows the lyrics to "Do the Evolution" in one of the '06 shows, but they didn't go into a studio and re-record that part. Live music isn't about perfection.

Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell

I bought this the day it came out, after listening to the first 3 songs on their MySpace page. Punk has always been considered a young person's genre, but this group of 40-somethings show the kids what punk really is. BR has been around since 1980, I remember hearing some of their early stuff on the local college radio station back in the early 80's. I forgot all about them until 1994 when they released Stranger Than Fiction. A lot of fans view it as their "sell-out" record because they went with a major label. I leave the "sell-out" argument to the hipsters and those that care about that kind of thing. A band exists to make music and if that music is good, it doesn't matter what label they are on.

New Maps of Hell is a fast and furious sonic assault. It rocks out of the gate with "52 Seconds" and stays balls to the wall through the first 5 songs. These 5 songs (52 Seconds, Heroes & Martyrs, Germs of Perfection, New Dark Ages and Requiem for Dissent) are the best on the album. That doesn't mean the rest of the album isn't good, it's very good. Other honorable mentions are Grains of Wrath, Scrutiny, Prodigal Son and Submission Complete. The music is fast and hard, but still has those great BR melodies. And, of course, there are plenty of vocal harmonies. The lyrics are very topical and, as always, scathing attacks on society and government. Like most BR albums, you will probably need a dictionary at some point. How many punk bands can pull off lyrics like
Amid the heat and the wrack
Hot boots invested and cracked
Poor candidates jacked into gray light
An ultra-violent call summoning both poet and thrall
Sweet catalyst for the acolytes
-Heroes & Martyrs
If you like BR, it's a no-brainer, go buy it. If you are younger and think Green Day invented melodic punk, you need to pick this up and learn where Green Day got their influence. One complaint, it seems that CDs now are getting louder and louder. Not a good louder, but one that causes distortion when listening with headphones. This album is guilty of that and the vocals are at times buried in the mix.

Velvet Revolver - Libertad
I liked the first Velvet Revolver album (Contraband), but it never got to that level of "that's an awesome album." I couldn't even tell you the last time I actually listened to the whole thing all the way through. But I've listened to Libertad 4 or 5 times since I got it 4 days ago. That's all the way through, no track skipping. You can tell they have gelled as a band now. Stand out tracks are: the album opener "Let It Roll" which kicks ass, the first single "She Builds Quick Machines" which is a catchy rocker, "The Last Fight" is this album's "Fall to Pieces", great wah guitar on "Pills, Demons & Etc.", "Messages" has a beautiful Slash guitar melody, bringing up memories of "Sweet Child O' Mine". And check out their cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer", they did it justice.

The Mars Volta - Deloused in the Comatorium

This isn't a new release, but I just got it. I've been hearing about The Mars Volta for a while now, but never really checked them out. I'm glad I did. This isn't music for the casual listener though. They use lots of weird time signatures and changes, poly-rhythmic stuff, ambient noise and strange lyrics, which sometimes flow between English and Spanish within the same song. So if you like progjazzpunk music, check this out.

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