Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Album Index: A REVISITING (and a few mediocre titles) LIST Part 1

This is kind of a list of albums that I guess didn't find the top 50, maybe 1st and foremost due to lack of time spending with them, or knowing about them. But also of course when I did listen to them, they didn't demand me to replay them. But, as the topic says, more or less all of them could and probably will receive some revisiting and my feeling may change about them.

In other words, there are too many albums, and in 2012 I didn't have enough time for these.

But, these are also here, as opposed to some of the others on the list that didn't make my top 50, given these had reason to like, or anticipate. They are not completely worthless records for the most part, but more in the underwhelming category. I didn't hate them, but I hardly loved them.

This is also just Part 1, I likely will include at least 1 more part to this, perhaps before the top 50 countdown, but perhaps after, I haven't decided yet.

Also some of these may be edited out and moved into the top 50 depending on if the revisiting happens soon enough and warrants them.

OSI | Fire Make Thunder
Initially, I enjoyed much of this. They seemed to emphasize more riffs, and not so much of the slow, mellow work on their last record Blood. But after more time with it, this one still fell short overall. They had samples on 1 track I recall, which I've said was 1 of the best parts of their debut record. Kevin Moore doesn't seem to be interested or be able to incorporate that significant element to what made the 1st album so good.

I honestly don't know why I keep hoping they will make music like their 1st album again. I love Matheos, and Kevin Moore has made some great music in the past, but this band has swung and missed now 3 straight records. That's not a phase, it's a predictable pattern. Matheos needs to collaborate with Portnoy again.

School of Seven Bells | Ghostory
Not that I found this to compare to their live shows, but I have always struggled with their studio albums despite enjoying the heavy acid trip that has been their concerts. But this album, while not incredibly better than their two others, I found had more flow and subtle mood that worked slightly better for me.

Sigur Rós | Valtari

Another album I barely got to hear, enjoyed somewhat, but gave the *mood music* category, and then I never was able to go back to. I do recall hearing "Varud" and a few other tracks on Radio K and it being rather mesmerizing. But most of their music is that way. So this ends up being par for the course, which is fine, just not as significant or addictive. But more time might allow this to standout more so.

Ian Anderson | Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?
I honestly only streamed this once or twice, and tried to listen to it at work a few times, but never managed to get through it all. Not due to it being bad I guess, but just due to circumstance. I love the original Thick as a Brick, as it's one of my top 20-30 albums of all-time, but from the amount I did hear this sequel of sorts, it seemed to be a classic case of overtly trying too much and failing to capture the brilliance of a past work. Some of the references to the original were a little charming, but overall, it just didn't go too far.

Now seeing it live with the 1st part might change my mind, but for now, this will just end up being mediocre. Not having Martine Barre, I think may have hurt some of the writing on it as well.

Akphaezya | Anthology IV : The Tragedy of Nerak
This album took awhile to come out, and as I understand, was a minor miracle it did, as I think the band finished recording, mixing and mastering on it maybe over a year before it actually got released.

Frankly. I remember thinking I was going to love it, and it just didn't blow me away. Their last album was a nice fix for wanting more music like Unexpect, but this album didn't have as many freakish sections that I long for.

I will say, it came around the same time the new Diablo Swing Orchestra did, and that other album grabbed me a lot more, this kind of had its thunder stolen from it before it was given a chance.

But, a revisiting should still be warranted soon just to see if my feeling about this might change.

Big Wreck | Albatross
This was cool to see a band from the late 90's who I grew to eventually like, comeback and release a new record. Sadly, the sound on this album, sounds more or less like the work from the late 90's, except the songwriting isn't really at the same level of  for example their debut record In Loving Memory Of... . But I think part of that is, not necessarily wanting/needing to hear that blatant late 90's melodic grunge-rock style of music again. I just remember sort of liking this, but wondering when and why I would want to listen to it again. Was it better for them to have made this, rather than not? yeah. But it still sounds like it was made in the late 90's rather than 2012.

Internal Affairs
The Nightflight Orchestra | Internal Affairs
A fun record, that's very retro. Sort of channeling bands like Deep Purple, Uriah Heap, ELO and Thin Lizzy. This is an album I'll likely find worth revisiting, just because it's relatively consistent and energetic. Not mindblowing, but the songwriting has enough to enjoy, say even compared to other blatant retro acts like Astra.

I should cite credit due to my friend and fellow music-aholic Epic Rock Talk podcast co-host That Drummer Guy just for posting this among his extensive 2012 end of year blurbs.

Micky Dolenz | Remember
I'm surprised how much I enjoyed these selections/re-arrangements of covers by Micky, who of course is best known for being an integral part of The Monkees. There's a few Monkees covers like "I'm a Believer," "Randy Scouse Git" and "Do Not Ask For Love" along with some standards like The Beatles "Good Morning, Good Morning," and others like "Johnny B Goode," "Sugar Sugar," and "An Old Fashioned Love Song."

I'm going to spend more time with this soon, but initially, some of these interpretations are pretty brilliant!

Maps of Non-Existent Places cover art
Thank You Scientist | Maps of Non-Existent Places 
I was suggested this band from the owner of This to me sounded like a cross between Coheed and Cambria and Jazzkamikaze. Or rather, like if Coheed had a big jazz influence, including using soprano saxophone among other non-traditional rock instrumentation.

I guess part of why I haven't been able to love it is the clear 'core element sort of sticking out as the base of their sound, regardless of what else they include. Part of it seems a little excessive.

I guess Bumblefoot/Ron Thal played on some of this ("My Famed Disappearing Act" for one), and may have been involved with the production, which has it's value I suppose given his talents. But like most albums, it goes furthest based on how good the songwriting is; I think that particular piece is nice, but it comes all the way at the end of  the record. I suspect had I enjoyed the rest of the album as much as that piece, I would have listened to this album more. But with some time, I may, or at least have this band in mind to keep track of in the coming years.

Judgement Day | Polar Shift
This honestly came out to being a little more bland than I hoped. "Epic Acoustic Metal Record" is how it was billed on their Kickstarter campaign. And I backed it of course. I guess it wasn't as memorable, and shorter than 2010'a Peacocks / Pink Monsters , it lacked addiction. The style/approach maybe being a reason why as well. I dunno, this may be one for the right mood, or one that I'll enjoy more in the coming years. It's not bad, just not one at this point I ever found a reason to go back to.

DRRT cover art
Lost Lander | DRRT
Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls/ex-Menomena produced this album, from this band whose based out of Portland, Oregon like himself. I guess the best thing to say about this is, the songwriting and layering has Brent's stamp on it, which overall is a good thing. But, I also can't help but get sort of a Poor Man's Ramona Falls/Menomena from it. It also almost reminds me of some groups like Rural Alberta Advantage or your token college rock band doing things a bit different. The actual magical side, or amazement doesn't quite get there. Maybe more of this album is a bit better or worse than the sum of it's parts, because there aren't like the 1 or 2 standout tracks, yet nothing on it is particularly repulsive.

Given this is just a debut album, I guess I didn't have gigantic expectations, but still at the same time, I liked it enough, I'm surprised I didn't listen to it much after initially checking it out. Maybe I will again soon and my feeling will change.

Van Halen | A Different Kind of Truth
A somewhat surprising comeback with David Lee Roth. A fun album, that is almost like polished bar rock. Consistent energy, and not a track to skip. Although the style seems to be somewhat samey from track to track. I wouldn't necessarily put it among their best, but the same time, it was so unexpected, I couldn't help but respect it.

Ihsahn | Eremita
Compared to 2010's After, there is less Black Metal and more progressive metal on this record, which on paper, that would seem to be in my favor. But I remember going back to it a few months after initially checking it out, and struggling with it. I recall it being samey and having some cymbals clipping. "The Paranoid" has a reasonable chorus I suppose. But for some reason, the way the sax was used on After, translated better than on this. Perhaps being that it has been done before, and it seemed more buried on this album. It being a little repetitive, and overall the best parts of this are isolated. A mood record maybe at best, at this point.

Sound and Shape | Hourglass
I loved this band's 2009 mini album The Love Electric. That record had the classic college prog elements that I love with extended parts, that segue well and were memorable. But both the EP they made last year, and this, really lacked what they had on that album. I'm not sure if they are not into doing progressive rock anymore, or just found the band wasn't best suited for that style. I don't hate this album, but like many others in 2012, it just did not have enough for me to demand to go back to it yet.

Punch Brothers | Who's Feeling Young Now?
I could go more into detail about my thoughts of this record, but I'm not gonna lie; I only got around to hearing it in full for the 1st time this morning (November 3rd), and I guess the best thing to do is to pass along what I posted on rateyourmusic.

The 1st half sounds like par for the course for these guys, but the 2nd half the songs take different twists. "New York City" and it's epic nature probably stands out the most..

And I'd say "New York City" is among the best songs this groups has ever done. But given how little time I've spent with this, I may regard this better over the coming years. One thing is certain, they do kind of have a formula for most of their songs in the acoustic/dynamic folky/singer/songwriter bluegrass vein,, which is one reason why I never made it a point to spend time with this, this year. But at the same time, when they're good, they can be pretty moving.