Sunday, December 16, 2007

Counting down: 40-31..

40. Paulson - All At Once (reissue w/ Bonus tracks)
Another disc that's reissue dropped on March 6th, 2007 (maybe it'll be considered a holiday for me as it was that day? :P), it was one I would go back to sometimes, mainly to listen to the standout cut "I Knew You When." It has one of the catchiest sections I heard all year from any song. And even though it is a reissue, they added a bunch of new songs to this edition, and that I got the sense it received a lot more distribution. Having 14 songs and about an hour in length, I tended to enjoy other parts of this one as well. The whole thing has an upbeat feel and energy to it; which is one of the reasons I went back to it as often as I did. It was definitely one that when I 1st heard I didn't expect to like or play as much as I ended up doing. At 1st it seemed like a alt-rock guilty pleasure, but over time, however bubblegum or pop-ish it came across, the fact was I went back to it a fair amount; and I found a lot to like about the majority of this one.

39. Marillion - Somewhere Else

The good parts of this are a. It is still Marillion, a band I've loved for over a decade. Even their worst work I often find good material in. b. It is different than their last record "Marbles" so it really cannot be accused of being rehash. The best pieces on here to me are a couple of the songs in the middle. The title cut, while sad like this whole disc, does offer an enjoyable atmosphere, a powerful crescendo, and another trademark Steve Rothery guitar solo at the end. The following piece "A Voice from the Past" is effective in a similar way. Well-written and not as lazy as much of the rest of this. "Wound," and I suppose a couple of the others like the closer "Faith," the opener "The Other Half," and "Thank You Whoever You Are" all are decent songs with qualities I enjoy about Marillion. But ultimately, this album doesn't demand me to go back to it right now anymore than say "Radiation" or "Holidays In Eden" ever did. The feel of it is dreary and very slowww, not to mention the intended depressing or melancholy mood it gives. In a way it almost feels like demos or they wanted to go at this one at 1/2-speed. You'd almost not recognize them if you heard this back-to-back with "Marbles." I guess some of these songs do better live; which is a bit of a relief. But with their history, I'm not highly surprised and thus not highly disappointed in it. I know they can and will put out more great music, it's just it wasn't quite there on this one. The next disc may be out in 2008, so maybe pretty soon; although some of that material and reason so soon for a follow-up has to do with the fact they recorded a lot of material that didn't end up on this one. Let's hope a lot of that ends up being better than this. They're still my favorite band, no matter.

38. The End - Elementary
Were to open for Between the Buried And Me this fall, but their guitarist Andrew Hercules departed the band, and they had to drop-out of that tour. That is how I heard about this band. Even though they had to bail on that tour, I still checked them out and got into this one. This is their 3rd full-length release, but the only thing I know by them right now. Sort of progressive/alternative hardcore if that's a style (aren't "styles" only a necessarily evil in the 1st place?). A couple of the songs have a decent Tool-slant. I guess I just dig how I can put this on and hear little things in each song to notice each time around. Having a new interest in more kinds of Metal, these guys fit right-into what I was digging this fall. The vocals for some will kill this for them, but for me, they only add to it. I like screaming in fact now. Ironically, maybe the finest part of this is the entirely clean-vocalled 9 minute epic "And Always." The piano, and build on that one closes out a for the most part, flawless record. Their future may or may not be certain (it appears they are doing some concerts this month at least, so the guitarist issue may be remedied for now), but at least they have left us with something to enjoy in the mean time.

37. Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring (EP)
With the highly disappointing "Fear of a Blank Planet" dropping in April, it was uncertain what to expect on this EP which the material was written and recorded in the same time period. As it turned out, this release ended up being better all-together. Sort of less-is-more in a way, which often can happen with EPs. A band teases you, or just includes some individual pieces that didn't seem to fit with the majority of the writing they do. "Normal" is the best thing I heard from Porcupine Tree in 2007, and it's not even close. It takes a melody from "Sentimental" and blows it up. The fast, intricate drumming from Gavin Harrison is perfect for the Meshuggah- like section in the middle. Almost a tease since we only get to hear that briefly from this band. The other 3 cuts are worth hearing in-the-flow and feel of this. "Nil Recurring" is a heavier, spacey instrumental which I remember being reminded of "Wedding Nails" initially. "Cheating the Polygraph" and "What Happens Now?" has this great spacey-groove that reminds me of Signify-era Tree, that later builds. I couldn't help but listen to it and *love* it as much for what it is, as how much better it seemed to be than FoaBP.

36. One Republic - Dreaming Out Loud
A bit of a wait for this thing to be released, it surprised me as there aren't any songs here I'd skip. "Someone To Save You" and "Mercy" are maybe my two favorites among the tracks I had yet to hear, not from their myspace going back to the Spring of 2006. STSY is a highly catchy, poppy track with a melody I couldn't help but love and think of a band like Jellyfish. "Apologize" is a good song, without the Timbaland exposure and factoring what the remix did, which I honestly don't think is as good. "Sleep" was a track that got me into these guys. "Stop And Stare" is rather poppy and adult-contemporary sounding but for what it is, I'd rather hear it from these guys than someone else. Their singer has a lot of similar elements to Jeff Buckley or even Bono, yet still has enough of his own voice for these songs to work. To go along with that, the songwriting, even with a lot of it's poppy nature, is one of this band's strengths. I just wish the whole Timbaland thing hadn't done the opposite of what it could have done. Getting the band exposure, and then leading them to being Timbaland's little pet project to get overplayed by Radio stations to death. In the process, many folks who might have picked up their disc, may not have; and maybe worst, they have been evaluated soley on that one (remixed) song and video, while it doesn't do the quality of this album justice.

35. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo
We didn't see The Mars Volta release a full-length in 2007 for the 1st time in 3 years, but this solo-offering from their guitarist is more or less on par with much of their work. And possibly his best solo work having only heard and read about his other material. "Please Heat This Eventually" is a classic Latin jazz-rock mini-epic at 11 minutes. The hook is one you don't get out of your head easily. The bits of psych-noodling on it and the rest of this record don't hurt this album. "Rapid Fire Toolbooth" is really the blueprint for "Goliath," a track on the upcoming Volta LP. The title track and really the whole record works beginning to end. Some great elements of Jazz-Rock, specifically with a Latin or *Salsa* approach which reminded me as much of Return To Forever, Chick Corea and Al Di Meola as anything else. I wonder how big a fan of Al's Omar is. Santana I'm sure, but Di Meola I'm sure as well.

Woven - Aftermath EP
34. Woven - Aftermath (EP)
Saw a bit of buzz about this band the past couple of months which led me to check them out and become a fan. I guess they have toured with dredg even. They released a debut EP and a full-length prior to this, which the brief amounts I've listened to those I've liked a lot of their electronic style rock. But at least for now, their new stuff seems to be having them go further for me. Layers, textures, mood. A bit of a Deftones-like style to the singer in spots. Only the last 15 minute minimalistic 6th track "Untitled" I can find flaw with as the 1st 5 numbers totally work in a big way. I got into the band Stateless this year as well, and these guys have a lot of the same kinds of elements I love about Stateless. The 1st song "Inhale" has a great build and vibe that I can't help but rock-out to. "Cosmonaut" as well. The chorus is strong on that one; the rhythm almost reminds me of "Free" by the band VAST. The 5th track "Abort Instruction" has audio for about four and half minutes, the last section with a whispering "Again" that leads to a "I never feel this againnnn!" that in turns segues into a brief, but still soothing dreamy section. Maybe the only thing that hurts my feeling about this is the fact some of the tracks on their myspace weren't included; notably "Where We Going" which was the 1st song I got into from them. However, they have an LP expected to drop in 2008 already titled "Designer Codes" which that and a lot more moody-greatness may be on.

33. Bend Sinister - Bend Sinister (EP)
Last year in finding out of this Vancouver, BC based group, a few of the tracks they made stream-able on their myspace page were not coming from their excellent debut "Through the Broken City." "Time Breaks Down," "Yours Truly" and "Julianna" all are included on this along with their two newest gems "TV War" and "High Horses." My hopes and admiration for this group may be a reflection to an extent on the placing/ranking of this release. Why I say that is partly due to one difficult thing to not mention. Those three songs and more specifically the *recordings* I have only one big beef about. The cymbals and/or specifically Crash/Splash triggers seem in my multiple experiences to *clip* noticeably to the point of almost nails-on-a-chalkboard like way. Whether it's just me, the mp3's, or the headphones and speakers I've listened to them from I can't be certain as the limited other writings I've come across about them (and this band sadly still) fails to mention this. The songs other than that part are great, classic Bend Sinister and seem to be a reasonable progression from the material on the debut. What is probably most encouraging is the two newer tracks are possibly better and this clipping issue doesn't seem to be evident with. I love the crescendo in "TV War" and breakdown in "High Horses" especially. Money, exposure, possibly being in Canada and in the Pacific NW could be their biggest reasons for obscurity. But if even a fraction of the folks who've caught onto Portugal the Man among some others knew of these guys, I still think they could blow up. But then again, how often do I and many others say that? What sucked maybe even more for me this year is they did finally get to tour, but only in their native Canada (thanks to a grant I recall), and I failed to be able to travel across the border to catch them due mainly to the financial hit that I would have faced (I don't earn a 6-figure salary just yet of course!).

32. Andre Matos - Time To Be Free
Ever since the split of Angra in the late 90's, it's very clear to me this guy was the bulk of the talent in that Brazilian outfit. The group he formed with two of the other members from Angra, in Shaman, put out a highly memorable debut in 2002's "Ritual." A couple years later a somewhat less discussed follow-up in 2005's "Reason" was released. Since then, for whatever reason, Andre's musical path led him and the two Mariutti brothers to continue somewhat in the same direction with his 1st solo-band release. I suppose I have come to the conclusion about this album, as I have also got with some other '07 heavier and symphonic releases like Alter Bridge and even Inme. A flow beginning to end, many hooks and sections on most of the songs you want to bang your head to. And it does have a lot of the *big sound* many of the Angra and Shaman material had. "Endeavour" is a bit of an epic and probably my favorite cut, even if it's the final original song on this one (the last track is a respectable cover of the Journey song "Separate Ways"). Other songs that I enjoy include the title track and "Letting Go." There are even some hints of a death growl in "Rescue Me." This one is probably one of those albums that I'll never regard as a classic, but I can't say anything bad about it as I enjoy it all beginning to end. Being the Matos fan I am could be partly biased about that, as he's still at least in the studio, one of my favorite singers with as good of vocal chops as any singer today. His compositional skill and desire to progress also seem evident here.

31. Battles - Mirrored
Catchy, fun, dance-able, a grower, and more accessible than you'd think on paper. The 1st half of this debut LP from this *math-rock* of a sort group, seems to really work. Tracks like the single "Atlas," "Tonto" "Ddiamandd," and the opener "Race:In" were among my favorites. Percussive, time-changing, and rhythm being a large focus of the sound here. The quirky edge I think of 80's King Crimson, and the vocal chanting reminds me of as non-traditional music like The Residents, but at the same time recalls similarities to even Yes. Yeah, this was certainly an album once given some repeated attention, I recognized where and why some of the buzz happened with them. Unfortunately, I can't entirely say they floored me live mainly due to wondering if they would add more improvisation than it seemed they did. Although I wouldn't say the concert I caught them was unsatisfying at the same time. I may find myself discovering more about this one down-the-line even as the 2nd half of it I remember enjoying but not frequently making it through to for various reasons not involving the music itself.

1 comment :

sacrificed acid said...

Where's the rest? =(