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Old 06-24-2012, 09:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Bitesize: Trollheart's Not-Quite-Daily Album Mini-Reviews

In an effort to make a start on all those albums I have piling up on my hard disk that I have yet to listen to, I'm going to do my best to listen to one new album a day. This will then be reviewed here, but unlike the usual rambling, in-depth, detailed reviews that you will find in my main journal, these will be far shorter, barely skimming the surface. Hardly even reviews really: more a collection of thoughts and impressions I form on first listening to the album. Unlike the “200-word album reviews” that occasionally surface in my main journal, though, these reviews, as such, will not be restricted to any number of words, though they will be very short. This will help me perhaps discipline my writing and allow me to cut to the core of each album, rather than waxing poetic about each track, thus spinning out the review, however unintentionally.

None of which means I see anything wrong in what I do in my main journal: I like doing long, in-depth reviews, but sometimes the review can take longer than the album runtime. It's a balancing act: sometimes shorter is better, sometimes longer suits the album. It will be nice and also refreshing for me to, as it were, just bounce off the sides of the review process without diving in, as I usually do.

All of these albums will be first-listen (though they may be from artistes from whom I've heard other work, or they may not) and will be accompanied by just the one YouTube, to give an idea of what the music is like.

Some of these albums may indeed impress me sufficiently to be properly reviewed at a later date in my main journal, or they may be bad enough to warrant being torn apart in more detail. As anyone who reads my journal will already know, often I go so deeply into the reviews that listening to the album for pleasure becomes a secondary consideration, though not of course always. But sometimes I'm just trying too hard to compose my thoughts and find things to say, to bring the reader a flavour of the album, that I almost fail to really listen to the music. Sort of forest for the trees kind of thing. Doesn't always happen, but I'm aware of it being the case in a few instances.

So this will hopefully allow me a more organic listening experience, and I'll just jot down simple thoughts as I listen, forming my overall no doubt simplistic impression of the album, without thinking about it too hard. It may not give you any idea at all what the album is like, but it will serve to get me at least listening to more music, and hopefully I can then share, or try to share, my opinion of the albums I review in this way.

All right then, let's get this show on the road!

Gentlemen, start your guitars!


Artiste: And so I watch you from afar
Nationality: Irish (Northern)
Album: And so I watch you from afar
Year: 2009
Label: Smalltown America
Genre: Post rock/math rock/Instrumental rock (genres assigned by Wiki)
Tracks:
Set guitars to kill
A little bit of solidarity goes a long way
Clench fists, grit teeth... Go!
I capture castles
Start a band
Tip of the hat, punch in the face
If it ain't broke, break it
These riots are just beginning
Don't waste time doing things you hate
The voiceless
Eat the city, eat it whole

Chronological position: Debut
Familiarity: Zero
Impression: Interesting, different, surprising
Best track(s): Set guitars to kill, I capture castles, Don't waste time doing things you hate
Worst track(s):n/a
Intention: Listen to more
Comments: This is very interesting. I generally see instrumental music (at least, the type I listen to) as either electronica, like Vangelis or Air, or laidback and relaxing, like maybe Gandalf, but this is all guitars and drums. It's loud, powerful, and yet in its own way strangely soporific, though not in a bad way. I've never listened to anything like this before, and I have to say I do like what I hear. Plus, they're Irish!
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Dosvidanya, Comrade Anteater!


Artiste: The Gourishankar
Nationality: Russian
Album: 2nd Hands
Year: 2007
Label: Unicorn Digital
Genre: Progressive Rock. Well, sort of. Hard to tie down really.
Tracks
Moon7
Endless drama
Queer forest
Taste a cake
The inexpressible chagrin
Syx
... End
Marvellous choice

Chronological position: Second album
Familiarity: The tiniest bit, thanks to Anteater
Interesting Factoid: “Gourishankar” means “the mountain as high as Everest”. Now you know.
Impression: Interesting, but a little too much going on all at once.
Best track(s): Endless drama, Taste a cake, The inexpressible chagrin, ...End
Worst track(s):Moon7, Marvellous choice (overlong at 18 minutes and wanders too much)
Intention: Listen to more, if more can be found!
Comments: The music is excellent, however the start/stop nature of the singing --- not to mention the often indiscernible vocals --- make it often seem as if I'm listening to a corrupt file; music sort of jumps up like a dolphin leaping out of the water before just as quickly darting back under the surface and swimming away, and singing hits then runs before you have a chance to even realise it's there. There are, as Anteater mentioned in his review, a huge variety of styles and genres used by the Gourishankar, but in some ways I think it's a case of trying to force too much into one box: eventually it'll split. When they get it right though, --- and in fairness, a lot of the time they do --- it's really quite special, and I'll be trying to hunt down the rest of their catalogue, though this one was hard enough to track down. Ant? Any help, mate?
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Excellent Trollheart. I really like the format you used. Also, I am familiar with And So I Watch You From Afar. Not shabby at all. I had to check them out because of their funny name. Excellent idea!
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanx man, and thanks for being the first to comment in my new journal!

As I said, it's two-fold really: a chance to kick myself up the arse and start listening to some albums I haven't heard before, and also an opportunity to fine-tune and hone my writing. Working ok so far...
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You want mean? You got mean!


Artiste: Y&T
Nationality: American
Album: Mean streak
Year: 1983
Label: A&M
Genre: Heavy metal. No Progressive, Power, Nu or bloody Goth!
Tracks
Mean streak
Straight thru the heart
Lonely side of town
Midnight in Tokyo
Breaking away
Hang 'em high
Take you to the limit
Sentimental fool
Down and dirty

Chronological position: Fifth album. Well, third really: the first two were released under their original name (see below) and “Earthshaker” is widely accepted as their proper debut.
Familiarity: “Earthshaker”, “Black tiger”
Interesting Factoid: Y&T began life as Yesterday and Today, shortening their name in 1981.
Impression: Love it!
Best track(s): Mean streak, Lonely side of town, Midnight in Tokyo
Worst track(s):Straight thru the heart (too similar to the Dio track of the same name), Take you to the limit
Intention: Listen to more, rediscover this band
Comments: Okay, okay! So I've broken my own rule in the first three days! This ISN'T a first-listen album, but in fairness I've only ever listened to it the once (as my brother owned the only copy we had) and never really took it all in. Now I can say it's a very worthy successor to “Black tiger”, shows Y&T really finding their feet and trying some trickier compositions like “Midnight in Tokyo”, which has some (sort of) progressive influences, while both “Lonely side of town” and “Sentimental fool” shows them crossing over briefly into AOR territory, in which they don't stand out as strangers in town, like you would probably expect! There's more straight-forward metal too though, as in “Hang 'em high”, not to mention their emulation of AC/DC on the closer “Down and dirty”. With crystal clear production from Chris Tsangarides, and no ballad this time round, this album is a winner, and mean indeed!
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've not heard Mean Streak but Earthshaker is one of the best metal albums of the 1980s, every song is virtually a killer, the whole thing sounds like a force of nature, its essential to any metal collection. The follow-up Black Tiger was a miss though and a big disappointment.
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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No, I wouldn't agree. "Earthshaker" is excellent, and like many people I suspect, it was my introduction to the band, but I love "Black tiger" (see my review in my journal). It's not perfect but it's a damn fine album, and I love "Forever" and "Winds of change": nice to see Y&T can handle a ballad with aplomb when the mood takes them.

Need to listen to more though: "Mean streak" was where I stopped, as my brother got married and moved out. Who's mean now?
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Floating, drifting, boring


Artiste: Eloy
Nationality: German
Album: Floating
Year: 1974
Label: Harvest
Genre: Progressive Rock
Tracks
Floating
The light from deep darkness
Castle in the air
Plastic girl
Madhouse

Chronological position: Third album.
Familiarity: “Performance”, “Metromania”
Interesting Factoid: The name “Eloy” comes from the name of a race in HG Wells' “The time machine”.
Impression: Gimme an “M”. Gimme an “E”. Gimme a “H”. Sigh.
Best track(s): Nothing really. All a bit boring and monotonous. Plastic girl is ok, but only that. Things get a little more animated and rockish for the closer Madhouse which is also not bad, but it's a bit late by then...
Worst track(s):As above. Meh.
Intention: Hope their later stuff, other than what I'm already familiar with, is better than this.
Comments: I've always considered Eloy --- what I've heard of them anyway --- to be more towards the harder side of progressive rock, while still never coming close to anything that could be considered progressive metal, but they have more of an edge to their music that makes it somehow more immediate, more forceful. I came across Eloy off the back of bands like Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator, and was initially surprised at how heavy they sounded, to me, at the time. Of course, those albums were their later ones, released in the mid-eighties. This is a little more laidback, more what you'd expect from a seventies prog band: lots of organ noodling, long instrumental passages and songs with grandiose titles. There are only five tracks on this album, but yet it's just barely over forty minutes long. The longest track is the second one, “The light from deep darkness”, at just over fourteen and a half minutes. I have to say though, in general, I find myself getting bored with this album: it just seems to wander all over the place, without any real idea of where it's going or what it's trying to achieve. Luckily Eloy got it together later and put out some pretty fine prog rock albums. I don't consider this one though.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I like Eloy but to each their own. When you hear most of their works, you can truly make a final judgement.

Really liked Y&T and The Gourishankar, too.

Excellent journal Trollheart. I'm in love with the format. And your choices have been stellar thus far. My first journal flopped (because of my own indecision on format, in part). I hope it wouldn't be improper to make a journal with a similar format. It's really concise and informative, with the comments section steering you away from writing a run-on review. Keep your eyes open for me reviewing some albums in a similar format.

Oh, also, Eloy's origins lie in Germany.
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks Mrd00d, always nice to have your input.
I look on this journal (even though it's only in its infancy) as a sort of "Trollheart-lite", where people who perhaps get a little bogged down in my often wordy and certainly lengthy interviews and who are constantly screaming at the screen FOR ****'S SAKE TROLLHEART! JUST TELL ME WHAT THE ****ING ALBUM IS LIKE! ENOUGH WITH THE FLOWERY DESCRIPTIONS! WE GET IT: YOU'RE A FRUSTRATED WRITER! (ahem!) can have their wish.

It also makes it a lot easier to review the albums by not having to go too deeply into the guts of the music, though I still enjoy doing that for albums that deserve it (see my review of My Friend the Chocolate Cake's "Brood" from yesterday) --- nice to be able to keep my hand in, both ways.

By all means use the format: it's not like I have a copyright on it or anything. Huh? What's that? Sorry, my phone... You do? ... We are...? He cant?...

Uh, sorry, my legal team advise me I DO have the copyright on the format. Sorry.

Any attempt to reproduce my format here will result in legal action being taken. Sorry, just business.



Look forward to your new journal, and see you in court!

Oh, and yes I know Eloy are from Germany, just can't find out what region...
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