This was definitely an interesting week…
With all the new music released this week, I feel like I had hotwired a DeLorean and gunned it to 88 MPH to different musical moments in my life. For example, I start off in elementary school with the new Bush album (our review for this week, so more on that later), find my way to early high school (Dream Theater) and land in the more-or-less present with The Kooks. All I needed was my red puffy vest and self-lacing Nike shoes and it would have SO been on!
The one thing I notice, though, is that some music ages better than others. Maybe I just believe that you need to be able to evolve or die. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, natural selection works in reference to music as well. Sometimes it works (Iron Maiden going from NWOBT to a full-on prog metal band) and sometimes it doesn’t (St. Anger…that is all). Those who play it safe end up being left behind. Your fans get older and wiser. Their tastes become either more refined or completely different over time.
A perfect, yet obvious, example of a band that understood this was The Beatles. I dare anyone to tell me any two albums of theirs sounded alike. I love “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” I love the Abbey Road LP. Yet, to debate which one is better is comparing apples and oranges…and that’s within the same group’s catalog!
Now, whether the changes were purposeful or drug-induced is an entirely different story. My point is they were capable of jumping around and shaping the genre while not only gaining fans, but not alienating the existing ones. That, my friends, is the difference between a good musical act and a legendary one.
Now that I’ve got my rant out of the way…
1) The new Bush album is exactly what to fear will happen to a band where the singer goes solo.
2) Another round of “Five Singles in Five Words”
3) Best/Worst Live Track of the Week (yes, I’ve decided epic fails deserve a spot in this column)
The Bush album no one asked for, yet exists…
Before we get into my deeper thoughts on “The Sea Of Memories,” I thought I’d share a little story of my childhood.
One of my very first musical experiences was seeing the music video for “Machinehead,” the first single by none other than Britain’s grunge kings, Bush. “Sixteen Stone” came out around the time I was in the fourth grade, but I couldn’t buy it until years later, as I’m pretty sure my parents were trying to pretend like we lived in a Footloose-esque town (the tiny town of Fort Lauderdale, mind you) and banished most current music from the home.
When I was twelve, I had a good friend named Mark. We had grown up in the same neighborhood and had the same sense of humor and taste in music. His parents were much cooler than mine and he was able to get the cassette version of “Sixteen Stone,” which we went on to use as the soundtrack to a film we made over one summer (a masterpiece we knew as “JAM” – Jon and Mark…creative, right?). I still remember doing scenes to “Alien” and “Comedown” that were so over the top and inconsequential to the plot, they’d make “Birdemic” look like “Inception.” Truth be told, I’d kill to see this movie one last time, but Mark’s mom accidentally taped over the one and only copy of “JAM” in favor of a soap opera.
Now, a lot has happened since those day. Bush has put out multiple albums, with some being much better (“Razorblade Suitcase”) than others (“Science of Things”). They’ve also gone through breakups and a solo project by frontman, Gavin Rossdale. To keep it brief, the solo work was a total pile of self-indulgent crap you’d expect from a singer who had grown to be coddled due to early success.
“The Sea Of Memories” is the first release since Rossdale’s solo project. Sadly, he has done what I believe to be the musical equivalent of “jumping the shark” with this one.*
*Let me explain: whenever a frontman goes solo, when they return to the group that made them so effin’ famous, they forget what it is that made them famous in the first place and are stuck doing their solo work with the original band! Need more proof? Listen to any song by Slipknot prior to Stone Sour and then listen to a song from anything post-Stone Sour. Gwen Stefani, if you ever get back together with No Doubt, you’ve been warned…
Basically, most of the songs on the album sound like B-sides for Rossdale’s solo album. “All Night Doctors” sounds like a record executive asked him to rewrite “Glycerine” on a piano. I’m sorry, but when did grunge rock allow pianos? I feel like I should have gotten a vote! My other huge complaint with the majority of songs was the vocal tracking. This is my nice way of saying “homey got auto-tuned.” Choruses on songs like “The Sound of Winter” sound badly forced, replacing the guttural vocals of their early work.
If you’re worried that the entire album is destined for the $3 bin, fear not! There are actually some songs that are enjoyable. Pleasing to the ear, even. “All My Life” is the closest thing to an evolution of Bush’s sound. It brings together the elements of grunge that made them famous, but with better production value. I could see it fitting in well with the current list of British indie rock songs (anything by Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand).
For all the vocal rape of “The Sound of Winter,” it does introduce us to some guitar solos, another faux pas of 1990’s grunge. I wish I could tell you who the guitarists are for Bush now, but sadly, the group is Rossdale and a bunch of hired hands. It’s like Axl trying to tour with Guns n’ Roses; sure you’ll hear all your favorite tunes, but you’re going to need name tags to know who is playing them.
- All in all, I guess you can compare “The Sea Of Memories” to buying a tire at Wal-Mart: you’re not looking for anything ground-breaking or life-changing, but it gets you from point A to point B. It’s a very average rock album that is worth a stream for those who are more nostalgic. If you don’t miss the years of flannel, pogs and yo-yos, you might want to move along.
Five Singles in Five Words
This week there were plenty to choose from. However, if it takes me more than ten seconds on Google to find the track, I’m moving on. If you don’t like it, to quote my younger brother, “Sucks, bro.”
“Paradise” by Coldplay: Catchy beat with simple orchestration
“Cry Baby” by Cee Lo Green: Vintage motown vibes never hurt
“Gucci Gucci” by Kreayshawn: Ke$ha rapping…yeah that bad
“Days are Forgotten” by Kasabian: Generic Brit pop; nothing special
“Vision in Rags” by Young Knives: Loving the African percussion vibe
Live Track(s) of The Week
Yes, I decided to go plural with this for one simple reason: everyone loves to watch epic fails on the internet. So in my first of probably many changes to this column, I’ve decided to do an epic win and an epic fail.
For my win of the week, I’m going with a band I’m a huge fan of; The Black Keys. This version of “Tighten Up” is the best I’ve found to date (and when can you ever NOT post something where Letterman is showing the vinyl version of the album introducing the act?). It’s a little more produced than I would like, but when you go mainstream, you have to make concessions like…oh I don’t know…hiring a touring bassist. Enjoy!
For my epic fail, I’m going with a nice little video from a Panic! At the Disco show a couple years ago, where the frontman got hit in the head with a coke bottle. First off, I couldn’t be happier that the whole “Fueled By Ramen” stable of artists have gone the way of nu metal, latin pop stars and boy bands (or man bands, if you happen to enjoy Big Ups!). This happened to make me laugh uncontrollably the morning I started workshopping ideas for this week, so I figure I’d share the wealth. Enjoy the carnage!
Well, that’s it for another week of “These Posts Go To Eleven.” As always, feel free to leave comments or shoot me e-mails or tweets (@JRizzle86). Lates.