Monday, June 6, 2005

This Week’s New Releases

Three notable releases for today are Dream Theater's "Octavarium", Coldplay's "X & Y" and The White Stripes' "Get Behind Me Satan".

Octavarium"Octavarium" has taken me from "casual observer" to "Dream Theater fan"! So, being only loosely familiar with any of their other output, I might sound like I'm talking out of my butt to you other fans out there. But, to me, this album feels like the guys said, "Let's make an album where we just wear all our influences on our sleeves and pay homage to the greats!". You've got keyboard solos a la Yes's Rick Wakeman and a section near the 17-minute mark of a 24-minute song that brings to mind 'Apocalypse 9/8' from Genesis's "Supper's Ready". That song also directly references "Supper's Ready", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Cinema Show" and other classic songs in the lyrics. There's also a 4 minute "sound scape" intro that pays homage to Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" intro. And, dangit, if "Panic Attack" isn't the most kick-ass metal riff-orgasm I've heard in a long time. Highly recommended! I'd order you to get it if I were your dictator. Just one thing... while I think the whole album is great, the last four tracks strike me as stronger than the first four... so don't give up on this too soon without playing tracks 5 - 8.

X&YI've never taken the time to check out Coldplay, although everything I hear about them seems to indicate that I'd like them. I've given the new "X & Y" album a cursory listen while doing other things (like eating dinner, surfing the web, etc.). It's gotten my attention as something I really want to dig into deeper. I think I'm going to enjoy it. Perhaps you Coldplay fans can leave some comments about how this new one fits into the Coldplay discography.

Get Behind Me SatanI'm sorry. I haven't jumped on The White Stripes bandwagon. Not yet anyway. A casual listen to their older stuff has not left me wanting much more. I prefer to hear an effort put into making music that sounds good, not just raw garage shenanigans. I can (and do) appreciate the good things about The White Stripes... the spontaneity, the energy, the songwriting, and all that. And just based on that I'd tell you I like them. But, I don't particularly care to listen to their music very often because of the way it sounds. That might sound strange, but that's just how it is with me. But... I'm listening to "Get Behind Me Satan" right now and... I like it! It sounds cleaner and more focused to me. Obviously, I need to give the previous albums another chance. I don't think fans will be let down at all. Rich, chime in and let me know what you think.


  1. Dream Theater - Modern day prog-rock gods! Havn't heard anything from this new album yet, but your review moves it to the top of my list. I've been a fan since the beginning of the millennium, and can't get enough. Saw them live a couple years ago, and they blew me away. It's almost unbelievable they can play that stuff live! Jordan Rudess is the new Rick Wakeman, and my idol.
    Coldplay - Jon, you'll dig their earlier stuff too. I've only heard a couple songs from the new disk, but while giving us something new, as Michele said, they still have their trademark laidback, thick soundscape that immediately identifies them as Coldplay.
    The White Stripes - How can you have a band without a bass player? Think of ANY great, or even good, band in the last 30 years...they had a bass player, didn't they? They might not have any other siblings, but I'm sure there's a bass player out there with the last name 'White'...hire him!

  2. I am a fan of all three, making this week either great or for those of us a little short on scratch highly torturous. I have heard both pluses and negatives for the new direction that Jack takes the White Stripes in. Which I would guess is why Jon likes the new one, since I have read that it departs from the formula of their first 4 albums (all of which I have of course). On the Dream Theater end, this does seem to be more influence referencing than normal, but they are never without some contact with their roots. If I am on the news tonight for holding up a liqour store you know why.

  3. Although I dig what I've heard from the Stripes' album so far, it seems that the intensity has dropped a notch in comparison to their last efforts. If there's anything to catch about them, it's one very important dichotomy: Awful drumming, fantastic guitar playing. Meg White is passable behind the kit, but oftentimes, her stuff is sloppy and clunky (she makes up for it by being hot, but that's fodder for another post). Jack White, on the other hand, is destined to go down as one of this generation's five best axeman (again, fodder for another post). I have already proclaimed him to be rock's best slide guitarist since Greg Allman (granted, that was before I fully discovered the power of Robert Randolph, but still...), and maybe it's because I've seen him live, but he is just a joy to listen to. For example, "Ball & Biscuit" off of "Elephant" is the most spectacular electric blues guitar workout in years, reaching Clapton/Page level. Anyway, the sweltering, gritty power that the Stripes have makes their music ultimately exciting, even if it does sound like it comes out of the garage at times. In fact, it allows me to throw out a theory: If you think Neil Young and Crazy Horse isn't that good, you're probably not going to be a fan of the White Stripes. If you enjoy Young, even slightly, you'll probably enjoy the Stripes.

    I've never gotten too much into Coldplay. I think they suffer from "Star 98 Syndrome." That is, once a song hits Star FM in L.A., it is destined to be overplayed for a good stretch of time. This tends to happen to a lot of their songs, which is unfortunate. I loved "Clocks" when it was first released as a single, now I usually don't get through it on the radio. That said, I do know that if I was to snap up their album and listen to it on my own accord, I'd enjoy it. Not as much as I like The Doves (which have their similarites with Coldplay), but I'd dig it nonetheless.

    I'm all over the new Dream Theater album. In fact, I hereby decree that we, as a group, need to see these guys when they come into town again. I'm still not done kicking myself for missing them last, when they opened for Yes.

    By the way, did you guys know Teenage Fanclub put out another disc today? Wonder if they've captured the magic of their first album.

  4. Thanks for the tip on Teenage Fanclub. I also learned that Ringo Starr had a release today and The Hellacopters new album was released in Europe, but isn't due stateside until July 19 (if allmusic is to be believed). Next week we've got a two-disc set from the Foo Fighters. Lots of interesting new releases!

  5. There's been a ton of interesting albums released in the last few weeks. Now Jon, I know you're not a fan of System of a Down, but they do have a new album out, and it's quite good. They had a good interview in Rolling Stone a couple weeks ago, where the lead singer describes their songs as "progressive rock epics squeezed into three minutes." Upon hearing their new stuff, it's a pretty decent description. There's also been releases from The Mars Volta (I think I've talked these guys up before), Brendan Bensen, and a whole lot of other stuff that I haven't talked about here because I haven't listened to their albums fully.

  6. One more thing worth noting: On the new Ringo album, he does a duet with Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders. Heard it on "Breakfast w/ the Beatles," and I think I remember somewhat liking it.

  7. All in favor of the group attending a Dream Theater concert say "Aye". AYE!