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Old 04-27-2012, 07:25 PM   #1191 (permalink)
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Not too many of George Harrison's post-Beatles work became hits for him, but this one did, with an attendant legal battle. This is “My sweet lord”.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:27 AM   #1192 (permalink)
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The fifty-year storm --- The New Law --- 2012 (Oasis)


Once again I find I can locate very little information about this artiste, but from their bandcamp page it seems they are two producers called Adam Straney and Justin Neff, who together make what are described as ”a unique style of instrumental music featuring organic and synthetic hip hop beats combined with evolving soundscapes, dreamlike sax, dusty samples, soaring synths, and pulsing drum machines that can only be defined as The New Law.” Indeed. It would appear these two Seattle-based musicians have created a trilogy, of which this is the final part, which would seem to be based around the idea of some sort of post-apocalyptic earth where the equivalent of cowboys and outlaws and lawmen roam. I can't get any hard information on the first two albums, other than that the first one was the self-titled project, the second called “High noon”, and the main character seems to be called The New Law. Perhaps a Judge Dredd character, for those of you familiar with the exploits of 2000AD's most famous antihero?

The story of this album is described thus, again from their bandcamp page: ”This is the third chapter of the unknown hero, THE NEW LAW, who is leaving the barren waste after the battle at "High Noon". He joins some fellow fighters who venture out to sea, to escape certain death of the old land, and they sail forth to explore new worlds. He gradually learns the way of the sea through the rolling waves of the journey, but on the red horizon ahead, there's something brewing: something dark and sinister... and he's unwillingly heading straight into the storm of it.”

From what I can make out, certainly from the description of the band above, all of this looks to be instrumental; electronic, techno, ambient, call it what you will. All I know is that I have both a sense of excitement and dread (remember Vincent Kuhner? The Atomic Bomb Audition?) heading into this, for me, unknown territory, but hey, I'll give it a go. These things have failed to work out before on occasion, but sometimes they do. So let's see how this pans out.

The opener is called “I've seen some mean faces”, and starts with low synth and horns then joined by what sounds like maybe Spanish guitar, some echoey effects that certainly give the impression of one of those old Sergio Leone westerns; you can just visualise The Man With No Name striding out of the desert dust into a tiny town that is being bothered by desperadoes. It picks up tempo a little then, with some drum machines and more guitar, horns or effects maybe, kind of Vangelis-like, touches of Air also, although I haven't too much experience in the world of electronic music to draw on, so may be making the wrong comparisons.

It gets faster and some whistling reinforces the western theme they surely are trying to create, then it all slides into “Dead men tell no tales”, a slower, more measured tune with some vocal samples stabbing through the overall melody, then it gets a little stronger and more intense, with keyboards and slow drum machines creating the soundscape, more vocal samples thrown in, picking up tempo now as it reaches its halfway point, the vocal and other samples becoming an integral part of the overall sound, meshing together with the music and becoming one with it.

The sound of bird cries, bassy keyboard and wailing synth open “Get your gun”, with an insistent bass getting more intense and pronounced as it enters the tune, running on almost a different rhythm to the main melody. Some nice Spanish guitar comes in, taking the tune, joined by slow stately keyboards that sound cello-like, then some horns and a rolling drumbeat keeping accompaniment. A sound like a fiddle slides in, with some more samples, the piece having by this point increased in speed slightly, perhaps giving the impression of a man riding a horse? Ending on slowly descending horns, it slips into “Voyage”, where echoey drumbeats and a low synth definitely give the impression of moving over the sea.

Nice light touches on the piano, swirling synth and soft, restrained percussion add to a sound like waves crashing, then a very Jean-Michel Jarre-like synth sound before the whole thing kicks up a gear with the drums getting faster and more intense, bells ringing out in sequence and the piano taking the main melody. It all stops then on the third minute for a second, there's a short guitar riff before vocal samples take over, the bells and the horns keeping them company as the song moves on. Somewhat reminiscent of Floyd on “A momentary lapse of reason” in places. Some whistling then takes us into “Constellations”, where everything slows down with a sort of stop/start sample and low synth until the drum machines cut back in, raising the tempo and speed a little, making spacey sounds which the choral samples answer, the melody almost stuck in a continuous loop until the synth opens up and takes the piece in a slightly new direction. “Bandits and smugglers” then comes in on a big rolling drumbeat, a sound like surf and gulls, a choppy bass and wailing horns.

Given a very arabic sort of flavour, the melody is then broken up by the first almost real vocal parts, someone chanting on I guess what must be a sampler, not quite a rap but not a vocal line really either. Some nice horns here following the vocal, such as it is, and snappy drum patterns. The longest track, “Opium den”, at over seven minutes, opens on twangy guitar and rising synth, with drum machines and some nice bass, a female sampled vocal, and some more keyboards. Organ takes the melody mostly for the second part of the song, as it were, with vocal samples thrown in and drum machines rattling along.

“Blood red sky” is driven mostly on drum machines and a jangly keyboard, with some effects added, some spoken vocals sampled. Nice bit of classical guitar too, with the drums becoming more like human-operated ones later on in the piece, and some synth that gives a very strings-like effect, as well as some scratching and some choral vocals, then the synth becomes very buzzy and raspy, rather appropriately for a track called “Nest of hornets”, the drums a little more echoey and some nice piano and lush keyboard carrying the piece, with some horns and strummed guitar halfway before the track goes back to its main melody, quite jangly rock really, upbeat and friendly.

The track ends with a spoken “introduction” of the various bandits in, I guess, the New Law's gang, which he refers to (if it's supposed to be his voice) as “a nest of hornets”, which I guess clears that up! There's a lot of the new romantic, Depeche Mode/Human League about “Into the clouds”, popping along on frothy synth and marching drumbeats, elements of videogame music in there too, then “Three sheets to the wind” is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at just under two and a half minutes, and seems to ride along on basically a slow horn section, complemented by synth and handclap drums, while “Descent into fire” seems to feature mainly a guitar melody, with what sounds like castanets keeping the rhythm, faster and more upbeat, with choral voices joining in, and a few snippets of what sounds like conversation. The castanets are supplemented by drum machines, hard and punchy, and ending on what sounds like wolves howling.

The closer is the title track, and gets going with the sounds of thunder, then low synth and drum machines that take the piece along in a slow, graceful procession. At the two minute mark, the drums drop away completely, leaving the synth to carry the tune alone, and it's very effective. A minute later the drums thump back in, and they and the synth take the song along towards its conclusion. They fall away though for the last minute, leaving the synth to carry on to the end. At the last few seconds this too drops away and we're left with the sound of wind, thunder and rain to end this interesting album.

Did I like it though? Well, yes, but I did find it very hard to review. Any instrumental album is always going to be difficult to critique, to try to draw a picture with words of what the music is like. But it's so much harder when it's a concept album, as it's often really difficult to understand the theme or link it to the music, which I did here in places, but only in places. The instrumentation is first rate though, and it's quite an excellent album to listen to. For review purposes, however, it's a tough sell.

If you don't know these guys and their music, I'd suggest running the YouTubes and seeing how you feel about what you hear. In the end, I can only describe so much, and probably quite inadequately. The age-old adage definitely applies here: let the music do the talking.

TRACKLISTING

1. I've seen some mean faces
2. Dead men tell no tales
3. Get your gun
4. Voyage
5. Constellations
6. Bandits and smugglers
7. Opium den
8. Blood red sky
9. Nest of hornets
10. Into the clouds
11. Three sheets to the wind
12. Descent into fire
13. The fifty year storm
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:20 AM   #1193 (permalink)
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:42 AM   #1194 (permalink)
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Great song from Frankie Miller, this is simply entitled “Darlin'” (no “g”, you see...)
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:44 AM   #1195 (permalink)
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Okay, so it's been three months, nearly four now since I first introduced this section, and yes, I thought I would be updating it more frequently than I have, with this only being the second edition. But there are a few things to bear in mind. First, it takes a lot of patience, perserverance and meticulous attention to detail to put together one of these. I spent almost half an hour getting the first solo right: you don't want singing or other unwelcome parts spoiling the selection! Even given that, the more snippy among you will note that there are one or two moments where the last syllable of a word maybe gets left in. To you I say, try doing this yourself: it ain't that easy and sometimes close enough has to do ya!

Other than that, there's also the decision as to what solos you choose. It's a lot harder than you would think, so that's taken some time. Then the file has to be checked, converted, uploaded, blah blah blah moan moan don't I have a hard life etc... Well, finally it's ready so I hope one or two of you will take the time to actually listen to the damn thing...





First we have one of my favourite prog rock bands, Arena, with a track from their album “Pepper's ghost”, which until last year was their most recent. This is the great John Mitchell on guitar, a fine solo from the track “The shattered room”.


An album I reviewed some time ago, but then Jackhammer told me that the legendary David Gilmour plays on it, so I had to listen to it again! I think I described this solo, in my review, as “Gilmouresque”! Little did I know! This is from Berlin's album “Count three and pray”, Gilmour taking the fantastic outro solo on “Pink and velvet”.

Also an album already reviewed by me, this is Y&T, from the seminal “Black tiger”, with a great solo by Dave Menniketti on “Forever”.

Wonderful, classically-influenced solo from Brian Tatler on Diamond Head's “Borrowed time”, this is “Am I evil”.

It stood to reason, with our recent tribute to Gary Moore, that we were not going to let this selection slide by without including one of his many solos, but which one? It could have been any of a hundred, I guess, but I just really like this one. Title track to “Still got the blues”, this is the outro solo.

And finally, wonderful and expressive solo from Vinny Burns on Ten's first album, X, this is again an outro solo, one of the very best I've ever heard, from “Soliloquy (The loneliest place in the world)”.
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:17 PM   #1196 (permalink)
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:25 PM   #1197 (permalink)
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Just heard this on the latest episode of “The Sopranos” the worm was watching --- yes, yes, catching the boat late: understood. Nevertheless, a great song from Bobby Darin, it's “If I were a carpenter”...
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:17 AM   #1198 (permalink)
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One subject there has been a lot of songs written about is trains. Trains for many songwriters typify freedom and a sense of choice, hark back to the golden age of transport and recall a simpler time. Songs have been written about trains going places, coming from places, carrying people or things, being blamed for taking people away from other people, and of course many many songs have been written about particular trains themselves. When I went looking for train songs I found far more than I had expected, and my initial inability to think of more than six or so was soon overtaken by the plethora of odes, cautionary tales, and even songs of love, all to do with trains, that are accessible via the internet.

I did in the end have some trouble cutting the list down to the usual ten, but by judicious and careful selection, and using the criterion of trying to avoid using songs I've featured anywhere before, this is what I came up with.

Starting off with the Boss, this is from “Born in the USA”, great track entitled “Downbound train”

The Doobie Brothers' classic is certainly worth including: this is “Long train runnin'”

Nice one from Gordon Lightfoot, called “The Canadian Railroad trilogy”

And we couldn't not include this!

One of my favourite train songs, this is Bob Seger, with “Long twin silver line”.

Waits has certainly written his share of train songs. This one was popularised by Rod Stewart, but this is the original, it's “Downtown train”.

And something different, from “Infected”, it's The The, with “Slow train to dawn”.

Great song covered by several artistes, this is Nanci Griffith and friends, with their version of Guy Clark's “Desperados waiting for a train”.

Then you have of course the “Love train”

and finish with Paul Simon's cool “Train in the distance”.
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:30 PM   #1199 (permalink)
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:33 PM   #1200 (permalink)
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Wow! Haven't heard this in an age! Wonder what Army of Lovers are doing now? On the basis of this the worm would enlist in a minute. If they took invertebrates, that is. This is “Crucified”.
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