Monday, April 7, 2008

Full Immersion: First Blush Roundup, Vol 2

Kings of Leon - Because of the Times
I pretty much thought... that this was a major change in the band's sound, with less edge and a greater focus on musicianship - a likely step forward, even though some of their more fun elements were gone.

First Blush is cool because... "now with Caleb’s suppliant lead vocals. Yes, that came from the thesaurus. Don’t complain, we all just learned a new word." We learned a new word. We later learned two more. That's cool, isn't it?
I'm obviously a genius because I said... of Black Thumbnail, "This is going to send them into a frenzy live. It’s like ELO meets the Cars meets something bitchin’."
I'm obviously an an idiot because I said... "They’re not going to show us everything right away, but are just setting the table for what’s to come. Good thing I’m hungry."
With the benefit of greater experience with the album, I now say... I pretty much feel the same way as I did then. A major step forward for the band, and one that shows off how much better songwriters and musicians they've become. The rest of the band has caught up to drummer Nathan. It is missing some of the fun and edginess to their two earlier albums, but had they simply made the same album again, it would have been unnecessary. In short, it's not a great release, but it is a very good one, and one that will continue to hold up.

I pretty much thought... that this was a complex work with a creative new approach to making and releasing albums.
First Blush is cool because... I said, "the club kids are going to remix this one and then lick each other on the dancefloor." That's quite an image I chose to paint.
I'm obviously a genius because I said... "Trent is doing some sort of weird character voice. I’ve never heard this from him before. I’m not sure I like it."
I'm obviously an an idiot because I said... "I'm sure the album will grow on me... it is likely a masterpiece."
With the benefit of greater experience with the album, I now say... After waiting so long to purchase With Teeth, and then having it grow on me like it did, I assumed the same would happened with Year Zero. It did not. At this point, it is easily Reznor's most boring release. He spent a ton of time and energy on the concept. I am afraid to say that the music does not seem to have the same labor put into it. There are a lot of interesting sounds, but few well-written songs. I can safely say that it is Nine Inch Nails' worst album, and one that I don't ever seem to have the urge to replay. I kind of had that feeling on the initial listen, but gave a major benefit of the doubt to Reznor. Did guilt play a role for me? I think it's more likely that there was a lot to cut through, and once I cut through it, I was left with little payoff (unlike The Fragile or With Teeth). Don't get me wrong. It doesn't mean I'm not still psyched to see them at Lolla. I just hope they don't play too many of the songs from this record.

I pretty much thought... that I was pleased. I said it twice, in fact. I called it a return to form and felt like it was a solid effort.
First Blush is cool because... Not only did you get various links to women beating the tar out of each other, you also got a really bad snowboard crash and a clip from Gleaming the Cube.
I'm obviously a genius because I said... "Things are picking up. Perhaps I was too quick to judge this song."
I'm obviously an an idiot because I said...
"It says this is written by Sublime, so I suppose it’s a cover, but I don’t think I know it." Not only was it a pretty big hit, I had a co-worker who used to sing it all the time and I had just plum forgot.
With the benefit of greater experience with the album, I now say... that it's a damn fine release by one of my favorite bands. Fishbone is probably the great forgotten act of the early 90s. When I mention them, most people have no idea who I'm talking about. Their previous effort (from seven years ago) got a lot of critical praise, but didn't get much traction with fans. This one didn't really get reviewed many places, and also isn't finding fan traction. Despite some lackluster lyrics, this album is excellent, and of course nobody under 30 has heard of the band. I know that a chance to see them perform these songs in person would only bolster my appreciation. Of course, they have yet to play Chicago since its release. But I'm sure I'll get my chance eventually. With an almost completely new roster, they aren't showing any signs of slowing down. It would be a good thing if more people were checking out this release.

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