December 18, 2005

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Strung Out In Heaven

If you've never heard of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, you are too late. The mad genius that is Anton Newcombe once had a vision to start a revolution. To ruin the music industry with his commercial free music. His plan was to become an insanely popular musical visionary through his music without it ever getting help from the corporate hands that cripple new bands and rape them for all they're worth. Unfortunately, after going through nearly 60 band members since they formed, Anton accomplished nothing more than releasing a dozen or so albums, but still became an indie rock favorite. To get a better glimpse of how insane Anton Newcombe really is, the only recommendation I can give you is to go to your local Blockbuster and rent the rock documentary "Dig!". There from the beginning, it documents the bands highs and many lows, heroin addictions, live shows that were guaranteed to end in a brawl with band members fighting each other on stage or taking it into the crowd to fight their few fans, and dissecting Anton's head to see what was really going on in there.

"Strung Out in Heaven" is Anton's failure. His first major record release, and you can almost hear it in the music. Much more calm than his older stuff, yet it still packs a powerful punch. Sounding like it is straight from the 60's, the influences from the Velvet Underground and 60's Rolling Stones are hard to deny. Anton's voice however, is peculiar enough to make the band different from the rest, singing his meaningful lyrics with a raspy twist. Some tracks sound like psychedelic garage style trip stuff, while other songs are acoustic masterpieces. Songs like "Maybe Tomorrow", "Dawn", "Spun", and "Going to Hell" make this album irresistible. "Maybe Tomorrow" is a song you'll listen to then go pick up a guitar and learn the tabs just so you can play it in your room by yourself. "Spun" is about falling for a girl that turns your mind into a basket case. "Going to Hell" sets the scene for this album too well. As a first song it really delivers. How can I forget "Dawn", without a doubt my favorite song on this album. One of the most catchy guitar riffs I've heard in a long time. Another plus to this album is that it is full of whistling tunes, something you don't come across too often. Not one person can listen to "Dawn" or "Lantern" without whistling along with the song.

I would advise you to go listen to The Brian Jonestown Massacre before they self destruct, but like I said before, its too late. So the best I can hope for is that someone purchases their music and enjoys it for what it is. An indie band with masterpieces that will never get the recognition they deserved.

December 15, 2005

The Beta Band - The Three E.P's

The title of this album basically explains its origin. This Scottish band took three separate EP's and combined them into one album, creating a detail oriented delight. Most listeners that aren't familiar with The Beta Band might remember their brief musical moment in John Cusack's film "High Fidelity". Rob Gordon predicts he can sell 5 copies of this album just by playing one song in his record store. Unfortunately the song he played, "Dry the Rain" in my opinion, doesn't fairly represent The Beta Band one bit. "Dry the Rain" is an extremely fun song, and it does get your head bobbing right along with it. What makes it differ from the rest of the songs on the album is that it doesn't have that same hypnotic effect on you that the rest of the tracks do. Song's like "B+A", "Inner Meet Me", "She's The One", "Dogs Got a Bone", and "The House Song" all have this spell-binding sound that captures you and makes you focus on the eccentric details. Bird chirps, record scratches, kitten meows, 70's synth bits, and about a million other inch long snippets of random recording showcase just what The Three EP's is, fun loving basic indie-rock grooves.

The album as a whole leaves a distinct impression on the listener. At first listen you will be tempted to sell it back to the local record store, but after more in-depth listening, you'll realize this is more than just funky beats set to abstract lyrics. The Three EP's, once finding your cd player, will stay there for quite some time because of its ability to capture you with its unparalleled sound. Comparable to nothing I've come across thus far in my musical journey, this is truly a unique album that delivers with time. Once you've been hypnotized by the groovy sound, you'll be digging deeper into The Beta Band catalog to see what else they have out there. The Three EP's is a bona fide must have.

December 14, 2005

John Frusciante - Shadows Collide with People

You may know John Frusciante as the guitarist from the 90's hit band The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Any fan of the Peppers will tell you that John has a gift for finding that catchy riff which gave the Chilli Peppers their big lift into stardom. Frusciante left the band in 1992, before the release of "One Hot Minute", to experiment with heroin and other drugs. Spending all of his time in his room reading into philosophy, trying to communicate with other dimensions, and working out mathematical equations. During which, John went back into the studio without the band and recorded a few albums that got little attention from fans and even less attention from the labels. The albums were raw and sounded unprepared. Basically any junkie that can play the guitar and use equipment could have accomplished what Frusciante did in "Niandra Lades and Usually a T-Shirt". After a few more musical experiments, he got back together with Flea, Anthony Kiedis and the rest of the band to make the highly appreciated album "Californication". He branched off yet again to release the more respected "To Record Only Water For 10 Days" in 2001.

Now that the brief biography is over, lets get to the topic at hand, Frusciante's 2004 release "Shadows Collide With People". If this isn't your first listen to Frusciante, fear not. This album is way more produced and less of the junkie on steroids sound that his previous attempts are known for. The first track, Carvel, sets the mood for the rest of the album very well, showcasing Frusciante's incomparable nack for creating that original sound that many musicians lack these days. John's lyrics are very personal and become profound with time, (everywhere you are in a maze is a lie/anywhere you are in a page, you still go to the right) but the initial seller of this album is the unique guitar sound and his crazy synthesizer effects, comparable to Radiohead and The Mars Volta. Listening to the quality of the songs, it becomes apparent that Frusciante didn't want this attempt to fail and made it a point to get his sound perfected ("Failure 33 Object"). Tracks like "Song to Sing When I'm Lonely", "Ricky", and "Chances" also become an outlet for John to project his true thoughts in the lyrics. Frusciante's partner in crime, Josh Klinghoffer, helps out with the synth's, keyboards and percussion. John also brings some very big names in to help out his sound like Omar Rodrigues (At the Drive-In / The Mars Volta) and RHCP members Flea and Chad Smith.

In closing, there isn't one song on "Shadows Collide with People" that doesn't captivate you. Each song is contagious in its own way. If you're looking to get away from the corporate production sound that has been shoved down our throats for so long, this is one album that is easy to enjoy the whole way through. "Shadows" is a listening experience. It's as if Frusciante was given one last chance to clean up his act and get it right, and I couldn't have asked for anything more.