Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

 

Pearl Jam with BoomThe past couple of days in Timmins haven’t been great; cold (plus 4 Celsius/39 Fahrenheit), raining and just been a “typical fall” in Canada and with the weather changes comes with the first batch of chili! Since I was a kid, my dad showed me how to make chili but never wrote it down. He gave the basic ingredients (sauce, diced tomatoes, meat, peppers, mushrooms) but always told me “chili is something you can never screw it up; you have the basic ingredients but can add spices, not us as much, whatever you want and it’ll still be chili.” When Pearl Jam announced that they were streaming their new album Lightning Bolt a week early on iTunes, it then dawned on me that they are chili.

It can easily be argued that their first two albums (Ten and Vs.) set a benchmark for the band but it was an industry standard. They were making music they wanted to but the sound needed to be what the time was: grunge. Vitalogy and No Code really broke the norm for the band and even divided listeners (the number of people I’ve argued with over the greatness that those albums bring to the table are countless) but it wasn’t really until Yield that the band really hit their stride. Needless to say, it was interesting to see what direction the band went with Lightning Bolt.

The album eases you in with “Getaway” (a decent, mid-tempo song) before blowing the doors off with the first single “Mind Your Manners”. From there, the rest of the album takes the mid-tempo feel that “Getaway” started with. The third track, “My Father’s Son”, will have you nodding to the beat and “Sirens”, the second single and fourth song, has great transition into an amazing Mike McCready guitar solo. Title track “Lightning Bolt”, “Infallible”, and “Pendulum” are all good songs but at the same time don’t necessarily grab your attention the same way the first four have. But that will soon change.

“Swallowed Whole” reminded me of “Thin Air” with the repetition (during which you’ll quickly be humming along) but a more up-beat version. “Let the Records Play” is, by far, the biggest surprise that the band has done to date; a deep, bluesy guitar riff that was featured for the “Hatchet” vignette. “Sleeping by Myself” is a more complete version of the ukulele song released by Ed Vedder back in 2011 and “Yellow Moon” is a good transition song into, arguably the best song, “Future Days”.

No, “Future Days” will not knock your socks off like “Mind Your Manners” but it’s great for so many more reasons. We were given a sneak peek at the song when they debut it at Wrigley Field this past summer but the quality was never the best; hearing the studio version puts the song over the top with the layers they put on the song and it’s a great way to end the record.

Overall, this record is better than Backspacer and Riot Act but not quite as heavy as Yield. It had great flow, gave you some amazing guitar solos, and had deep lyrics that brought emotions to the front. Clocking in at just over 47 minutes, Lightning Bolt could single-handedly crown Pearl Jam as the “Masters of Mid-Tempo” simply because all of the songs found you tapping your toe to the beats but never changing too much. The best thing about Pearl Jam making a new album is that you can put all the guys into a room with their ideas, from song to song it varies as to who has more input, but they always turn out perfect…just like chili.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

Addition by Subtraction – Vapour Trails

Posted: September 27, 2013 in Music

Rush Vapour Trails

When Rush announced that they were releasing a box set of their Atlantic Record days, my ears perked up (figuratively) but when I read that Vapour Trails was going to be remixed, my eyebrow raised (literally). It didn’t make sense to me that Rush would want to remix an entire album; a few songs here and there to make a remix album, sure. But an entire album? This intrigued me. Then I read this article from Rolling Stone Magazine where Geddy Lee said: “We overcooked it.” (Wow, that’s pretty harsh. But he goes on.) “The mixes were really loud and brash. The mastering job was harsh and distorted.” Not exactly giving the original a ringing endorsement there, is he?

Well, in that Rolling Stone piece the magazine also got the exclusive rights to the remix and I sat down and compared it to the original cover-to-cover (even though online there are no actual covers but you get the general idea). Now, you should know that I’m not a HUGE Rush fan; I like Rush, I will defend Rush against the haters, but if you asked me to give you the entire track list of Moving Pictures, I can’t do it (yes, even after researching the album I can’t remember. Also know that you’re trying to ask a guy that forgets what he had for breakfast two days ago or when his Dad’s birthday is….but I still think I deserve points for getting the season right).

I will say that the 13-track album is overall a very good record (even before the remix issue came) but Geddy Lee was right; it was overdone. When you hear songs like ‘Ghost Rider’ and ‘The Stars Look Down’ from the original to the remix, the new edition really adds layers to the songs (backing vocals that aren’t brought forward, more elements that have crescendos than just ‘being there’ for lack of a better term). In fact, the second you compare the two albums, you can notice it on the first track ‘One Little Victory’.

Now, not all the songs feel like they’ve been changed that much; take songs like ‘How It Is’ or the title track ‘Vapour Trails’. They have been brought down so they’re not “loud and brash” but that’s more likely because they were originally written as songs that should be quieter. You notice the heavy guitars and backing vocals but on a song like ‘Earthshine’ to the point that you could have said to me “Hey, the guitars for that song were produced by Chad Kroeger and Mutt Lange which is why the distortion sounds the way it does” and I would’ve believed you. For Rush, that’s not a good thing (simmer down, Nickelback fans…I said “FOR RUSH”; I’m not hating, just saying…).

Overall, the remix album is a much cleaner and higher quality version to have. If you’re someone who likes to pick up on little nuances that a band like Rush will put into their music, you will appreciate the subtleties that Rush has done with this remix instead of the original. Think of it like this: Rush laid the perfect foundation and even the too care of the interior design to the point that the floor plan was solid (kitchen, bedroom, family room all laid out, great view because it’s on a hill and the backyard faces west) but they hired the wrong contractor who messed up the plumbing and electrical so they had to get someone to come in and make it…better (clearly, I’ve been watching too much Holmes on Homes…but he keeps saying he’s a drummer which would be REALLY cool to see him play with Neil Peart! I would pay to watch that.).

In Short: if you’re offered up a choice between the remix and the original studio version of Vapour Trails, take the remix. You’ll appreciate it far more and the decision by the band to remix it was a great addition to their collection.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali

Hesitating on the new NIN.

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Music

 NIN-Hesitation-Marks

I’m torn on the new Nine Inch Nails album. Yesterday, it was posted to their site and Facebook page that Hesitation Marks, the 28th Halo in the series, was (and at the time of writing this, still is) available for free streaming on iTunes and Deezer. I would say that when it comes to NIN, I’m a fan; I’m not necessarily a die hard but I will enjoy anything and everything they put out and do my best to support it (including you, Year Zero). But when it came to Hesitation Marks, something felt a little different. Something I couldn’t put my finger on…

 …something just felt off…

 …until 2:48 into the third track, and second single, “Came Back Haunted.” The first sound of a noticeable guitar riff.

 Maybe it’s because of songs like “Hurt” or “Head Like a Hole” that carry a good and heavy guitar riff with the backings of the synthesizers and other samples. It’s been a slow move for Trent Reznor & Co. from that to the NIN we’re hearing more and more from. Don’t get me wrong, the album is still solid.

 Songs like “Find My Way” and “In Two” hit you with bass like a lot of slow, but booming hip hop songs would. And there are some definite potentials on here that have the foundation to make for a great live show, including the aforementioned “Find My Way”, “Disappointed” (with what feels like clapping), and “All Time Low”.

 Hands down, the biggest surprise (but not a total surprise because it) is the third single “Everything”. It has a very retro feel to it; like someone told The Cure to write a song that Trent Reznor would take lead on the vocals and then blow up part way through with distortion (pretty much the only way he can).

 This album as a whole has a great “one-off” feel to it; you put it in your car, probably listen to it once and then you can brush it off as another NIN album. It has some great songs that would work for a live show but feels a little repetitive for a casual fan (NOTE: if you’ve never seen NIN live, shell out the $50 or whatever it costs and do it because it is spectacular). It would be nice to have Trent add more guitars to the songs instead of falling back on the synthesizers, but if that’s the direction of the band he’s going with, this album does hit all the right marks.

 Thanks for reading and stay in touch through Twitter: @ChrisFudali.

PJ

Recently, Pearl Jam (or to me known as “The Greatest Band on Earth and possibly the Milky Way Galaxy) released a video for their new single “Mind Your Manners”. Take a look:

AMAZING! (again, I’m biased but not foolish; there’s a reason I said “possibly ther Milky Way” because you don’t know what else is out there…yet.)

Here’s a look back on the videos that Pearl Jam has done with a little breakdown of each one.

Alive (1991): The video that started it all (and a song that they sometimes end concerts with because, with an extended solo, is nothing short of phenomenal). What’s even cooler is that the band with a live version of the song instead of the single release (a version that you can get off the “European Deluxe Edition” of Ten).

Even Flow (1991): Pearl Jam! In Technicolor! And the debut of Dave Abbruzzese (look at that hair flying!) The version heard in the video was actually an alternate version used for the movie Singles and if you go to Seattle, the Moore Theatre where Eddie jumps from still exists (you learned something new!).

Jeremy (1992): Uh oh. The video that ended it all. If there’s one lesson to be learned it’s that you do NOT have that many close up of Ed Vedder and get away with it. Ever. (but what is “forever”, really?)

Oceans (1992): (Wow. So, “forever” really wasn’t that long then.)The video that Americans didn’t get to see (because Ten was too big already). It features Ed surfing, Jeff Ament in short hair, Mike McCready having fun, and Stone Gossard….wait. STONE GOSSARD?!?! SHORT HAIR GOSSARD?!?! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the death of grunge.

Daughter (1993): The first “unofficial-official” Pearl Jam Video. The guys didn’t want any videos released but had this ‘fine’ thing slapped together for promotional release (and, dare I say, could be a pioneer of the ‘lyric video’ we see a lot of today on YouTube.)

Do The Evolution (1998): It may not technically be a music video if the band isn’t in it…right? Some say yes, others (LOGICAL people) say “no, it totally counts.” The most shocking thing is that it was only 6 years between Jeremy and Oceans until Do The Evolution came out but felt like a lifetime.

I Am Mine (2002): Okay, the first music video of the band where we actually see the band; little older, short hair all around except for the keyboardist (BOOM! Seriously, his name is Boom. Boom Gaspar.).

Save You (2002): TWO VIDEOS FROM ONE ALBUM?!?! Just over a decade later and it happened! Amazing! The fact that they decided to go with a song called “I Am Mine” and followed it up with “Save You” should be taken as shots to the industry, but….TWO PEARL JAM VIDEOS!

Love Boat Captain (2002): Amazing! A third video from one album and…wait…is Ed wearing the same shirt as he did for “I Am Mine”? Yes. So, clearly they just shot all these videos at once and released them at separate times. But…ah, who cares? THREE VIDEOS!

Thumbing My Way (2002): …and, the videos keep coming. As it turns out, they filmed all the videos at Chop Suey, a restaurant in Seattle, and you can buy all of them on DVD. The more important question here is: WHY DIDN’T I KNOW ABOUT THIS EARLIER?!?! *bangs forehead off of desk*

½ Full (2002): The last of the “Chop Suey Sessions” (if no one has come up with that, I want credit!) and another “unofficially-official” video for the band. Solid song, too bad it wasn’t made as a single.

World Wide Suicide (2006): Long-Hair Eddie makes his return and is also rockin’ a neatly trimmed beard. Oh, also forgot to mention that during the “Chop Suey Sessions” (CREDIT HERE!) Matt Cameron of Soundgarden is behind the drum kit (and has been since 2000; over 13 years! Hooray for job stability!)

Life Wasted (2006): This is a great song and a great video. It feels how an actual music video should with great shots and amazing art.

The Fixer (2009): Directed by long time friend and movie maker Cameron Crowe, Ed does his best Jim Morrison impression by singing to the back of a crowd a couple of times and makes for some great shots.

Just Breathe (2009): Recorded live and sounds really good with the live string section in the background. Also, click here for a cool cover of it (probably the best cover since Johnny cash did this).

Amongst the Waves (2010): It’s funny that when I talk to people about Pearl Jam, they all say “their earlier stuff was better”. Songs like Amongst the Waves makes you really appreciate Pearl Jam and what they can do as a rock band.

There you have it, all the music videos Pearl Jam has released “officially” to date. Fingers crossed there’s more to come.

Thanks for reading and if you want to stay connected with me, do so on Twitter @ChrisFudali.

Please Pass the Pearl Jam

Posted: July 12, 2013 in Music

Pearl Jam

Everyone has “one of those” bands. It’s the band where whenever they announce a tour, you try to be first in line to grab tour tickets. You will argue with anyone why that band is THE BEST (even though musical taste is totally subjective), and if your favourite band releases something new, you HAVE TO be first in line to get it/overplay it until your head explodes like in Scanners. For me, Pearl Jam is that band. I’ve seen them live twice in Toronto and twice in Ottawa (there would’ve been a third time in Toronto but I had to make a judgement call: Pearl Jam ticket or birthday gift for the girlfriend at the time. Clearly, I chose incorrectly). So when they announced this past Tuesday a list of North American Tour dates, I was excited but also knew I couldn’t catch any of those shows. But then Thursday rolled around and my week changed with the release of their new single Mind Your Manners off the upcoming album Lightning Bolt. Take a listen:


*grabs paper towel to clean up drool from chin/shirt/floor*

Okay, let’s not over react. Take a breath and we’ll break down this song to see where the awesomeness lies.

0:00 – The plate and cutlery was actually posted a couple days ago on their Twitter page and then this morning the guy, rosary and blood were added. *Thumbs up for Boondock Saints-esque meal!*

0:02 – Great opening guitar riff with the drums. Has the potential to just explode.

0:13 – OKAY! ENOUGH WITH THE BUILD UP! KICK THIS SUCKA INTO OVERDRIVE ALREADY! (sorry, I’m impatient to hear how Eddie sounds.)

0:14 – Yup, if I have waited an extra second that last line wouldn’t have existed. Ah, well. Good fast pace; very punk-y.

0:22 – No idea what Ed is singing (even though he’s clearer than Yellow Ledbetter ever will be) but found myself bobbing to the beat.

0:33 – I think Ed channeled his inner Lukin just now.

0:38 – I like how it went quiet for Ed to enforce the fact that we have to “Mind Your Manners.”

1:00 – Okay, a minute in and all I’m really getting is “Mind Your Manners” from Ed lyrically. Yet, I’m totally okay with it.
(NOTE: If I’m bobbing too much to the beat, I wonder if *double checks to see who owns 106.9 The Bear* Bell will pay for my worker’s compensation. Hmm…)

1:15 – Oh, wow. I can kinda-sorta understand Eddie Vedder! Love it!

1:30 – MIKE McCREADY KICK-A** GUITAR SOLO!!! If there’s one thing you should know, if McCready nails a pre-recorded solo like this, he will OWN IT when they perform live. (In other words: this pleases me greatly.)

(UPDATE: I emailed the legal department at Bell “the-company-that-shall-not-be-named” about head banging and worker’s compensation. They replied by writing “Hahahaha” in the subject line and nothing in the body of the email.)

1:54 – That stop down to have Ed say “Mind Your Manners” will be amazing live. To have the band go dead silent and the crowd just belt it out will be nothing short of amazing.

1:59 – WHAT HAPPENED?!?!

2:00 – Oh, I see what they did there. Another quiet spot which will be great live because the…well, you get the idea. (Okay, I really, REALLY want to see this song performed live. COME TO OTTAWA, PEARL JAM!)

2:30 – I don’t know if they’re saying “Live in Hell” or “Livin’ Hell” or what. Until the lyrics get officially released, this will be my “…part of every day.”

2:37 – Strong scream to end it!

Conclusion:

This is a very strong single from the band (not like they’ve never disappointed with singles in the past) and I would put it (SLIGHTLY) ahead of their more recent singles Got Some, The Fixer and Life Wasted. It has a beat that you definitely be bobbing your head to and a great guitar solo that has the potential to get shredded when performed live. If you like this, then dabble in other Pearl Jam songs like Spin the Black Circle, Lukin, and Brain of J.

Overall Grade: A-

Thanks for reading and stay in touch with me on Twitter @ChrisFudali