The Last Shadow Puppets Album Review: The Age of the Understatement (2008)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Age of the Understatement, debut album of the Last Shadow Puppets. This supergroup, comprised of Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and Miles Kane of the Rascals, released this single album as a side-project. They have yet to release a second as of 2015.

In green is my opinion. I am familiar with some of Turner’s work with the Arctic Monkeys as well as his solo album recorded for the film Submarine.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is familiar with indie rock and knows Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys.

The Age of the Understatement

If John Wayne was to ever be raised from the dead, he would be raised from the dead to this song. Fit for a western, the Age of the Understatement is a dynamic explosion featuring electric guitar, horn accents, and cinematic strings. The lyrics are well written, giving the music more edge than it already has. Somebody needs to throw this track into a western. Perhaps Tarantino could put it in his upcoming Hateful Eight. The Age of the Understatement is a fantastic track that introduces the album properly.

The album begins with a cool, horror-sounding introduction that leads into a sick, Muse-like arrangement. I could not help but notice that the Age of the Understatement sounds similar to Muse’s Knights of Cydonia. Knights of Cydonia is my favorite Muse song, so the similarity between the two tracks is by no means a bad thing. I like the western sound this song has due to its galloping drum beat. I cannot think of a better song to start off the album.

Standing Next to Me

Standing Next to Me is essentially a catchy hook. This track is defined by solid lyrics and a lovely orchestral arrangement. The song’s vocal melody faintly emulates that of Elton John’s The Trail We Blaze, which was featured in the remarkable movie The Road to El Dorado. Perhaps that is why I feel the song was built for adventuring. Standing Next to Me is a brisk, pleasant track that is easy to enjoy.

Damn it, why do great-sounding short songs always leave you wanting more? To me, the Last Shadow Puppets provide a modern take on the Beatles. I don’t like the Beatles, though I do like this song thanks to the violin and the guitar. The two instruments always make a great pair, as showcased by Standing Next to Me.

Calm Like You

Hell. Yes. From this day forward, Calm Like You will be my theme song. “I can still remember when your city smelt exciting” is the lyric of the album. The track is a Bond theme. The orchestra is booming, the electric guitar is smooth, and the horn is so slick that it’s unbelievable. Strong vocals are delivered on top of the outstanding instrumental elements, selling Calm Like You as a meaty song. This is an excellent track.

Calm Like You is yet another song that has an Oasis/Beatles vibe. Alex Turner steals the show, as his voice is just magnificent. His vocal delivery makes you feel as if you are listening to an Arctic Monkeys song. Calm Like You is satisfying despite its short length. 

Separate and Ever Deadly

Ah, English people. Pronouncing ‘butter and crumbs’ like ‘boater and chromes.’ This is why your own people left your country and established colonies in swamps. Anyway, Separate and Ever Deadly is a fine track. The song is certainly high in energy, though it does have a minor flaw. I feel that the track was too short for its own good. The breaks in the songs teased drama and retreated back to a rapid-fire pace. If the Shadow Puppets slowed down to flesh out the brief breaks, Separate and Ever Deadly may have felt more wholesome and less rushed. Regardless, the track is still solid.

Separate and Ever Deadly begins with bluesy guitar that progresses to become more western-sounding. I love this song’s fast tempo and interesting lyrics. I hope the Shadow Puppets keep these upbeat songs coming. I really do enjoy them!

The Chamber

Relaxed vocals paired with elegant strings give the Chamber an old-school vibe. There is something about the vocal delivery that makes the song seem as if it could have come out of my dad’s CD collection. The Chamber is a nice song, though it’s not a grand spectacle as are some other tracks on the record.

The Chamber is a simple yet beautiful song. For me, the bass steals the show. In addition, I love the odd-sounding outro to the song. The Chamber is one of those old-school songs that our parents would probably enjoy.

Only the Truth

Somebody needs to put a leash on that electric guitar. The orchestra, inclusive of crisp horns and strings, gives dramatic flare to the already rocking song. Only the Truth swells to a climax of grand proportions, making it a memorable track that further showcases the cinematic sound that glazed across this entire album.

An epic battle awaits, and Only The Truth can set you free. As a person who plays a lot of RPG titles, I can definitely see this song fitting into plenty of these games. This song just screams ‘prepare for battle’ with its tempo and its mosh of different instruments that raid your ears. I love this song for that reason.

My Mistakes Were Made for You

Constructed as if intended for a Bond film, My Mistakes Were Made for You is smooth like cream. Alex Turner’s voice is sleek, the drumming is relaxed, and the orchestra is crisp. Both the electric and the acoustic guitars stand out from one another, creating an interesting dynamic within the song. While simple, the bass adds a significant layer to the track. Yet again, insightful lyrics are included with the top-notch instrumental package. My Mistakes Were Made for You is an incredible feat.

The beginning of My Mistakes Were Made For You reminds me of an intro that would be included in an Arctic Monkeys song. This makes sense considering that Turner sings for the Arctic Monkeys as well. Once again the orchestra is pleasant to listen to, as is the western-sounding guitar. This is another solid track.

Black Plant

Black Plant contains two personalities. The first personality is that of a woman who has a glint of mischief in her eye. Defined by an energetic string melody, horn accents, and breezy drums, this side of the song is pleasant despite (or perhaps due to) the dark overtones. The second personality is that of a woman who is accustomed to throwing tables at other people. Turner explodes with a condescending tone, and angry buzzing that sounds straight out of GoldenEye from the N64 pops up as well. Trust me, I’ve played the game enough times to know its sound effects when I hear them. Ah, nostalgia. Black Plant is a moody track that I approve of.

The beginning of Black Plant sounds incredibly familiar, though I cannot pinpoint what it sounds like. Regardless, I love how the strings give the song a dark and spooky sound. Its early-2000 vibe makes it a joy to listen to.

I Don’t Like You Anymore

I Don’t Like You Anymore might as well be a Chris Isaak song. It’s got brooding lyrics, it’s got depressing electric guitar at the forefront, it’s got an organ, and it’s got attitude. All that’s missing is an overhanging cloud of suicide contemplation. The song quickly accelerates from sadness to frustration to all-out anger. The structure and progression of the song specifically reminds me of Chris Isaak’s Go Walking Down There. I Don’t Like You Anymore is a classic-sounding song that is full of passion. I dig it.

I Don’t Like You Anymore starts off slow, picks up in the verse, and then decelerates in the chorus. I love how this song is constantly fluctuating in tempo. Once again, the ending sounds like something out of a horror movie.

In My Room

The Last Shadow Puppets tease the James Bond theme at the beginning of this emotional outburst of a song. The orchestra comes out loud and fiery to complement Turner’s angry vocals. As was the case with Separate and Ever Deadly, however, this song could have benefit from taking its time. In order to fully sink in, In My Room should have stuck around longer, as the entire track is constantly moving forward at such a fast speed. More theatrical than cinematic, In My Room is listenable but rushed at its core.

In my room, I have furniture, Shark-signed pucks, a bunch of trading cards…oh wait, we’re talking about the song? This track starts off sounding like the 007 theme. Once the song gets started, a dark, mysterious tone is established by the organ and violin. I love the effect created by that particular combination. I suppose a room can be a scary place.

Meeting Place

The Last Shadow Puppets take us on a trip to a tropical hotel for a holiday. See how I used British terminology to fit the occasion? The Meeting Place employs irony, pairing a cheery instrumental background with breakup lyrics. The entire track is pleasant, enhanced by the distancing effect placed on the vocals. Usually, I feel that vocal distancing detracts from songs. Meeting Place is undoubtedly an exception. It is a solid, individual song that is, without question, the happiest of the album.

Meeting Place starts off with a nice violin intro and evolves into elevator music with lyrics. I mean that as a compliment. The song has a smooth tempo and some sad lyrics. I like this song, but I certainly do not want to go to this meeting place.

The Time Has Come Again

The Shadow Puppets get acoustic on us. The acoustic melody is pleasant, strengthened by the restrained orchestra and Turner’s easy vocals. I enjoy the soft side of the Last Shadow Puppets, as it’s a breath of fresh air. The Time Has Come Again is a cool little tune that ends the album on a satisfying, mellow note.

The Time Has Come Again for Juck and I to review the final track of an album. I love how this song has an acoustic guitar as its focal point. It is pleasant to the ears, much to the credit of Alex Turner. The Last Shadow Puppets have released an album that reminds me of the Beatles in the sense that they recorded short, solid songs that blend a variety of genres and sounds. If you want something that is totally different from what you are used to listening to, look no further. I love this supergroup and I hope we get more albums like this one.

My Top 3

Standing Next to Me

Calm Like You

My Mistakes Were Made for You

Rob’s Top 3

The Age of the Understatement

Only The Truth

The Time Has Come Again

The Age of the Understatement from the Last Shadow Puppets is a one-of-a-kind album. Its blend of rock and orchestra is remarkably effective. Each track on this album offers something individual. The tunes are breezy, the lyrics are strong, and the music is outstanding. This group needs to reunite to write the next Bond theme. The Age of the Understatement is a must-own Filet, charred on the outside and tender on the inside. Check it out immediately.

~Juck

Swoope Album Review: Sinema (2014)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

*requested review*

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Sinema, Christian artist Swoope’s second album.

In green is my opinion. I have never listened to Swoope, though I am familiar with some other Christian artists.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He too has listened to a handful of Christian artists, but Swoope is new to him as well. He does not consider himself a fan of rap, though he does enjoy some albums that the genre has birthed.

Sinema

This album takes off with the collective explosion of psychedelic synthesizer, booming horn, and dramatic piano. The synthesizer sound seems to have taken notes from Pink Floyd’s On the Run. I approve. Swoope’s lyrics, which seem to discuss a dysfunctional relationship, are accented by what sounds like Asian flute, a cool element which harkens back to both Mike Shinoda’s verses on Linkin Park’s Nobody’s Listening and Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’. The entire track is blanketed by an edgy tone that comes across as genuine. The inclusion of the voicemail dialogue at the beginning and end of the track indicates that Sinema will be a concept album with a linear story. I found this song to be intriguing, full of bold elements and solid lyrical delivery.

We start off the album with a generic breakup song. I can tell that it has some meaning, but all in all, it sounds like a track that you would hear again and again on the radio.

On my Mind (feat. J.R.)

The synthesizer returns. This time, however, it isn’t emulating Pink Floyd. Instead, its melody is closely reminiscent to that of The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Can’t Stop. Once again, I can dig it. Swoope doesn’t merely recycle the melody. Instead, he throws some decent verses on top of it. The chorus is a daring blend between a voice that could be coming from Elvis and the vocal distancing effect akin to that which is widely employed by the Black Keys. On my Mind is more about the blues-infused beat than the lyrics, but this track is still a fresh one.

On My Mind sounds like the Nine Inch Nails song Closer. That being said, I’m not a fan of the electronic junk thrown into this song. I can’t even understand its meaning. You know that a song is bad when you use words like “dag.” I first thought that On my Mind was about a murderer or something, but then Swoope started to rap about buying stuff. It is so confusing that it annoys me.

TGC 2 (feat. Sho Baraka)

Call this song “Submarine,” because that sonar is righteous. In fact, the entire beat is rocking. The nasty bass, the sharp claps, and the scratches hold their own among the electronic sounds that are laced throughout the song. The occasional dual-layering of vocal tracks in which one track is drastically dropped in pitch creates an effect similar to that created in Eminem’s resurrection in Bad Guy. Swoope’s lyrics are clever and his delivery is on point. TGC 2 is a fantastic track.

I do not hear anything true, good, or creative in this song. I think the song is about sin or something, but, once again, I cannot understand it. I like how Swoope uses the turntables though. They remind me of Linkin Park, which is always a good thing.

#SameTeam (feat. Tedashii, Yaves, Dre Murray, Jgivens, and John Givez)

The “yeah” that rings out throughout the song, at first, seems to be an intentional nod to Jay-Z’s N****s in Paris. As it turns out, the signature “yeah” originates from a 1959 recording of a track titled Baptizing Scene from a compilation called Southern Folk Heritage: Sounds of the South. This inspiration is certainly more fitting for a Christian artist. With the origins of the sample clarified, I can proceed to criticize #SameTeam. Swoope seemed to be aiming for an epic rap collaboration in the same vein as Drake’s Forever, but the whole thing comes across as underwhelming. The passing of the mic isn’t dynamic because the rappers don’t do much once they have the mic in hand. The artists don’t distinguish themselves from one another in such a way that makes the listener eager to hear who is next or contemplate which of the group they identify with the most. The beat does not fluctuate, remaining constant throughout the seven minute track. If a rap artist wants to craft a seven minute song, there must be hills and valleys. Driving on a dirt road for five hours isn’t much of a dynamic experience. #SameTeam was unimpressive.

Anytime you see a # (this is a number sign, or “pound”, not that made-up “hashtag” crap), you know the song is not going to be good. I do not know who these featured people are, but I want them to be quiet. 7 minutes is way too long for #SameTeam. I could not stand listening to this song.

LSD (feat. Christon Gray)

LSD features a beat ideal for the bedroom. The soft instrumentation fits the lyrical content of the song, but the track’s mood sharply contrasts with the edgy atmosphere established by the first few tracks. In addition, the lyrics are weaker than those in previous songs. I personally prefer the darker side of Swoope. LSD, essentially a hip-hop soul track, has an old school vibe that doesn’t sit well with Swoope. His first tracks indicate that he is moving the genre of hip-hop forward, namely Christian hip-hop. I hope that LSD was only a detour on this journey that is Sinema. LSD is not Swoope’s best.

When I first saw the title of this song, I wondered, “How the heck does that go with Christian music?” After listening to the song, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that Swoope is comparing LSD with sin, because both are terrible for you, both are dangerous, and both are addicting. The connection is an interesting one that works really well. Just listen to the song a few times and you will be able to piece together the connection between drugs and sin.

Bow Down (feat. Tragic Hero)

Bow Down is the Christian anthem of the album. While the previous tracks are laced with Christian messages, Bow Down is an all-out praising of Jesus. The chorus’s melody is reminiscent of that of Y2K’s White Wine, an interesting similarity. Still, the lyrics and beat in Bow Down are straightforward. A strong majority of Christian albums that I have listened to suffer from being safe at one point or another. Bow Down is the track on Sinema where Swoope plays it safe.

Yeah, that’s right. Bow down to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ! Kick Satan and any other false God out our life and make way for Jesus! Great job there, Swoope. Way to tell that to people! I like Bow Down for that reason, and I hope you all feel the same way as I do.

Best of Me (feat. Natalie Lauren)

Heck yes. Best of Me is on point. The lyrics, music, and female vocals mesh together to create an uplifting track. The beat is individual, the wordplay is impressive, and the essence of Sinema returns. I had almost forgotten that this record was built as a concept album until the voicemail bit returned at the end of the track. Best of Me’s beat reminds me of that in Atmosphere’s Sunshine. As a whole, this is a song that is ideal for a summer cruise in a convertible. I enjoy this pick-me-up track.

I love the intro to Best of Me. I wish the entire song featured more Natalie in place of Swoope’s rapping, but in the end, I don’t mind the rap because it is very uplifting. It’s true that nobody is perfect and nobody will ever be. For once, I am able to easily pick up a religious connection in one of Swoope’s songs.

Right Side

That bass is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. The sudden explosions that follow the chorus are absolute madness. Swoope could rap about peanut butter sandwiches over this beat and it would sound nasty. It must be noted that the chorus is slightly ridiculous, however, almost verging on Lifestyle-leveled ridiculous, but the bass goes so hard that I find it difficult to care. Bounce to Right Side. Yes, nuns, you may bounce to Right Side. It’s a Christian song. Now that would be a sight to see.

On our right side we have our angels. It is true that we should never let them go. We always need an angel to help us to move on in our lives no matter what happens. I’m not sure if Swoope is referencing angels when he is talking about the right side, but that is how I interpret the lyrics. If the reference is in fact regarding angels, then I like the song.

Beauty and the Beast

As a rap song, Beauty and the Beast is satisfactory, not bad by any means. As a Christian rap song, Beauty and the Beast is fit for the top of the pile. No Christian artist that I have listened to is as bold as Swoope. He doesn’t hold back from discussing real-world issues that plague individuals. His catalog isn’t dominated by worship songs. Worship songs are fine, but they are ideal for church, not for the car. Music that dominates is music that is accessible. I could easily play this song (or this entire CD, for that matter) for a friend and expect him to dig it right away. Beauty and the Beast is a cool song.

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme? Oh, we aren’t talking about the Disney movie? Beauty and the Beast (the song) talks about lust, and its dangers. What I find interesting is the message of how living a sinful life leads to death. To me, the song tells how lust is a deadly sin, which is why I like Beauty and the Beast. It shows the good and bad side of love.

Before Goodnight

Before Goodnight is riddled with pain. From the screeching sounds to the strained electric noises to the lyrics, Before Goodnight is a release of emotion. The lyrics are fine and the beat is serviceable, but the track doesn’t do much for me. In addition, I’m not a fan of the generic auto tune effect placed on Swoope’s voice. The track ends with Swoope’s girlfriend nagging him to call her back. While this voicemail is obviously a part of the story for the sake of constituting a concept album, it certainly isn’t pleasant. Even if Before Goodnight was a great song (which it isn’t), I wouldn’t opt to listen to it upon knowing that Maya would be roasting me every time I played it. I’m not a fan of Before Goodnight.

Before Goodnight is another song about lust and relationships. We get it by now, Swoope. We know that you are in this troubled relationship and whatnot. You do not have to keep making songs about it like Taylor Swift. I do not like this song because we have heard other songs like it on the record already.

Sin in Me

Clearly the climax of the album, Sin in Me is a cinematic track that brings Swoope’s story to a close. Swoope’s delivery is right on, the beat is strong…and then Swoope gives the listener the middle finger. SPOILER ALERT: It was all a dream! I don’t feel cheated, exactly, because I wasn’t into Swoope’s story like I was into Gladiator. Then again, I feel like I’ve been left hanging. Nonetheless, the climax was effective. The outpour of emotion felt genuine. Sin in Me is gimmicky in its conclusion, but it’s gimmicky in a way that sounds good. A lot of Christian music is gimmicky without sounding good, so I’ll take it.

Sin In Me is a deep song in which the lyrics strongly complement the title of the song. I can just picture Swoope walking through a rainstorm feeling like crap because of all the sins he knows he’s committed. On this track, his sins finally catch up to him, and he realizes all the pain he has caused. Swoope then realizes that he has to ask the Lord for forgiveness for his evil ways to make things better. Sin In Me is my favorite song on the album because it is a deep, dark song that fits my musical taste.

Fix My Heart (feat. Denise Powell and Propaganda)

There we go. The Christian single off of the album. Fix My Heart is light and frothy, an ice cream cone on a summer’s day. Compare it to the heavy-hitting TGC 2 and you will be able to observe the full spectrum of Swoope. Fix My Heart has some nice lyrics and a soft backing track ideal for reflection. The chorus is beautiful, perfect for a worship session. Fix My Heart is a moving song, a perfect way to close Sinema.

We end the album with Fix My Heart, a song incredibly different from the previous track. Swoope knows he is a weak and sinful servant, but rather than giving his life away, Swoope asks God for forgiveness. I noticed that there were a lot of TV show names thrown into this song, which I find really freaking clever. Fix My Heart is the perfect way to end Sinema. After all of the sins that have been committed, Swoope knows to ask God to forgive his sins and to help him to become a better person. That is a great message that I really love.

My Top 3

Sinema

TGC 2 (feat. Sho Baraka)

Best of Me (feat. Natalie Lauren)

Rob’s Top 3

Beauty and the Beast

Sin In Me

Fix My Heart (feat. Denise Powell and Propaganda)

This album was a pleasant surprise. I did not expect Swoope to deliver such an introspective, inventive rap album. His beats are tight, his lyricism is impressive, and the messages in his songs come across as fresh despite the fact that they have been conveyed before. I enjoyed this T-Bone. I recommend it to all who enjoy the Christian genre, as it offers a freshness that the genre so desperately needs.

~Juck

Citizen Cope Album Review: The Clarence Greenwood Recordings (2004)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, Citizen Cope’s second album.

In green is my opinion. I am very familiar with Citizen Cope’s music and background.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He has heard some of Citizen Cope’s music before and is excited to take a closer listen to this album.

Nite Becomes Day

This grooving song begins with a piano riff reminiscent of that included in Let the Drummer Kick It, the hit single from Citizen Cope’s debut album. Because of this similarity, Nite Becomes Day is warmly familiar to those who are acquainted with Cope’s work. The way that all of the instruments mesh together to create one big head-bob makes this track an ideal album opener. The fact that Cope is singing thoughtful lyrics on top of the groove is remarkable. Nite Becomes Day is a fantastic track.

Everything in this track just sounds right. I love how Citizen Cope’s bum bah flows from start to finish. His vocals have a rap vibe to them, though he ultimately remains true to a bluesy sound by incorporating piano and simplistic guitar. I get a kind of Stevie Wonder feel from this song, which is by no means a bad thing.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is a fascinating track that feels like a full package despite its simplicity. The lyrics are both dark and cryptic, giving the song a healthy dose of intrigue. Because the meaning of the song is up to interpretation, Pablo Picasso is just as much a poem as it is a piece of music. The steady strumming and R&B-styled beat gives the song rhythm that is meant for vibing. I enjoy Pablo Picasso immensely.

I honestly thought this song would be about Picasso. I was wrong. As it turns out, Pablo Picasso is a deep track about a guy who falls in love with a lady on a billboard…I think. It is definitely a strange song. Honestly, it is sad that someone would fall in love with a famous person on a billboard, but I guess there are crazy people like that in the world. Hey, at least he appreciates the beauty of art.

My Way Home

Coming off of Pablo Picasso, My Way Home is a track that doesn’t offer anything interesting. Citizen Cope’s vocals are moreso akin to shouting than to singing. The loud instruments that blare behind Cope muddy the sound of the song, making it a release that stunts the pleasant, easy sound that this album begins with. My Way Home isn’t a song that I often opt to listen to.

My Way Home starts with a quick intro that directly connects to the previous song. I love the chords and the message Citizen Cope delivers with this track. I think he is saying that no matter what the world throws at you, fighting through it will always lead you to the brighter side. My Way Home communicates a powerful message, strengthened by the fact that it is one we all can relate to.

Son’s Gonna Rise (feat. Carlos Santana)

Son’s Gonna Rise is an anthemic track that sounds like a blend between Eminem’s Lose Yourself and Jay-Z’s Heart of the City. Son’s Gonna Rise is a song that was built for speeding down the highway. The lyrics are uplifting, the instrumental is energetic, and the guitar provided by Carlos Santana is raw. Son’s Gonna Rise is rocking.

Wow! Anytime Santana is brought into a song, you can bet it’s going to be good. Son’s Gonna Rise makes me want to get up and dance. The guitar solo is the selling point for me. It just rocks your socks off. I found my self head-bobbing to this track. We need more songs like this in today’s music.

Sideways

Undoubtedly Citizen Cope’s most popular song, Sideways may be the Ain’t No Sunshine of this generation of music. The heartbroken lyrics accented by simple chords, grooving bass, and emotional strings beckon comparison to Bill Withers’ masterpiece. Citizen Cope sings the song with passion that comes across as genuine rather than showy, selling Sideways as a song that comes from the heart. It’s hard not to love Sideways.

Finally, we arrive at a chill song on the Clarence Greenwood Recordings. Once again, Citizen Cope delivers powerful and relatable lyrics. Sideways reminds us to live, laugh, and of course, love!

Penitentiary

Penitentiary is a sinister-sounding song that is driven by a nasty piano-and-organ combo. Picture Dracula playing the piano in his empty mansion as lighting is striking. A weightier song, Penitentiary remains a solid piece of the album.

I love the slow tempo that comes with Penitentiary. It has a nice rhythm to it, as well as some more great lyrics. The lyrics urge you to free your mind and find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hurricane Waters

Hurricane Waters is a poppy R&B song. The entire song as a single unit is one that isn’t very dynamic. The verses merely float aimlessly, as if they were stranded at sea. (See what I did there)? The chorus is undoubtedly stronger than the verses, but the song still remains monotonous. Instead of progressing, the track sounds as if it is on autopilot. Some could find it boring. I simply find it to be uninspired.

We all know that I love water, but I also love hurricanes and the patterns they make before crashing onto shores. Hurricane Waters is soulful and uplifting. I love the drum beat that stays constant throughout the whole song. 

D’Artagnan’s Theme

If you would ever like to bask in your sorrows while downing a bottle of your preferred liquor, look no further. D’Artagnan’s Theme swells to an overwhelmingly emotional climax when it reaches its chorus, exploding into a cinematic sound that requires a montage with rain, crumpled love letters, and tears. Lots of tears. This song speaks. I dig this track a whole bunch.

Sweet, another chill song! Citizen Cope’s words literally leave me speechless. The guitar and piano pair well together. As I see it, this song is about war and soldiers. I absolutely love D’Artagnan’s Theme!

Bullet and a Target

Hell yes. Bullet and a Target flows like a fresh-flowing river. The strings from Sideways return, adding an emotional layer to Bullet and a Target that culminates with the strong acoustics, grooving drums, and excited clapping. The lyrics are incredibly rhythmic, working in tandem with the fast pace of the music. Bullet and a Target is a song that can amp you up, get your heart beating, and show you one heck of a time.

I get a rap/hip hop vibe from this song. What I love about Bullet and a Target is that the lyrics make sense. They’re not about drugs, sex, or money despite a hip hop feeling. In addition, the instruments sound great together. Bullet and a Target is a great song with an interesting meaning.

Fame

Fame is a chill song that throws together honking horn, sharp organ, easy drumming, and relaxed vocals. The lyrics are straightforward, certainly not as complex as others included on the album. Regardless, Fame is a satisfying song that is exactly as long as it should be, avoiding an overstayed welcome.

I am not a fan of Fame. I am struggling to understand the meaning of this song. The lyrics are weird. For example, Cope mentions Bob Marley. I’m not sure if Marley is simply mentioned for reference or if he is integral to understanding the meaning of the song. Cope also talks about the Irish folklore regarding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Was Cope high or something when he thought of this song?

Deep

Deep is a chill instrumental track. I personally find Awe, an instrumental piece from Cope’s following album, Every Waking Moment, to be more dynamic and more interesting than Deep. Nonetheless, this song is still serviceable. In the case of the Clarence Greenwood Recordings, Citizen Cope says goodbye in a humble way, closing his second album on a quiet note.

We conclude this album with Deep. I do not think any of us expected the album to end with a drum solo. Many may find this track to be stupid or lazy, but I don’t. I always appreciate when a song is solely instrumental. There are plenty of great songs that are only instrumental, from Moby Dick to The Call of Ktulu to YYZ. I would have liked for more sounds to be combined with the drums, but Deep is still a solid song. I would not have made it the last track of the album, though.Thank you, Juck, for exposing me to Citizen Cope. His music is different than what I typically listen to and I love it!

My Top 3

Pablo Picasso

Son’s Gonna Rise

Bullet and a Target

Rob’s Top 3

Son’s Gonna Rise

Sideways

Hurricane Waters

The Clarence Greenwood Recordings is a fantastic collection of songs. Of all of Cope’s albums, this is certainly his most muscular. The grooves are tight, the lyrics are excellent, and the overall sound is pure Cope. This powerful T-Bone is absolutely worth a listen. Pop it in your car and you may find that it’ll remain within the player longer than you expected.

~Juck

The Cinematic Orchestra Album Review: Motion (1999)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

*requested review*

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Motion, The Cinematic Orchestra’s first album. 

In green is my opinion. I have never heard of these guys, but I am excited to give them a listen, as they are predominantly instrumental. I dig instrumental music.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is unfamiliar with The Cinematic Orchestra, but is always willing to listen to something new.

Durian

Durian is comprised of two different parts. The first part lasts almost five minutes, offering some ambient lounge music laced with subtle horns, elegant violin, and vocal accents. It’s a cool sound fit for sleuthing around in a corporate office. Then, funky guitar erupts out of nowhere along with saucy organ. A younger cousin of mine stumbled into my room as I was playing the song on my speakers and remarked that it “sounds like Despicable Me.” Despicable Me is pretty great. Likewise, Durian is a pretty great chill-out track.

We start off the review with a track that is largely inclusive of drum and bass. Durian definitely establishes a chill mood, emulating music that is heard at coffee shops. I like how the song shifts gears at the end with more sounds added, lead by guitar. As a side note, the piano reminds me of classic rock group, The Doors. Durian (not the fruit) is groovy, a nice song to kick off the album.

Ode To The Big Sea

Upright bass and jazz-styled drums work together to create a repetitive rhythm that is embellished by sterile horns and uninspired piano. The violin and saxophone sounds that are laced within the song are commendable additions to the rhythm, pleasant overall, but the entire song is too bland for me to enjoy for its entire duration. Ode To The Big Sea fell flat.

Ode To The Big Sea is a jazzy song with a repetitive bass-line, so no, Meghan Trainor, it is not all about that bass. I’m disappointed with this song because I thought that it would have an island sound or theme to it, as suggested by its title. I admire the jazz sound that it has, but the song simply drags on for too long.

Night Of The Iguana

Night Of The Iguana establishes an eerie vibe fit for a jungle night. Flourishes of bass and the manifestation of mysterious noises throughout the song serve as effective touches to the living atmosphere established by the energized drumming. It is when the horns intrude upon the ambiance that the song yields a shrug. I don’t feel that the saxophones were warranted. After about two minutes of saxophone playing, sinister violins creep into the song, returning the listener back to the track’s original sound. Intrigue is rekindled and all is well…until the saxophones return! I truly dig sax. LeRoi Moore and Dick Perry captivate me when they play. The saxophone in this song, however, doesn’t impress me. What could have been a unique track ideal for easy-listening was instead an attempt to make an epic composition. I feel that Night of the Iguana would sound stellar live, but in this particular studio recording, it wasn’t captured in an adequate light. 

Night of the Iguana is a long, classical-sounding jazz song that is worth the ride. It is one of those songs that is ambient yet full of substance, like a Pink Floyd track. Once again, I get a Doors vibe from the group, and I am okay with that.

Channel 1 Suite

Heck yeah. Throw Channel 1 Suite into a Bond film! This track is slick, optimal for illustrations of espionage on screen. The introspective guitar and strong bass are complemented by rapid horn accents that sound as if they were pulled straight out of a Bond movie. The saxophone included within the track bears notable similarity to that which is featured in Sting’s Perfect Love…Gone Wrong from his album Brand New Day, which was interestingly released four days before this album was. The subtle vocals give the track a quality akin to that of a Buddha Bar compilation, making Channel 1 Suite a versatile track that could fit within many mediums. I greatly enjoyed this track.

No, I do not want to hug ya and squeeze ya. There must have been some crazy events happening in the Channel 1 Suite. The song sounded great in the beginning, but it did not progress well. A few minutes into the track, I had already grown tired of it. I understand that it is an instrumental track, but it should still fluctuate once in a while and incorporate some other sounds.

Bluebirds

Bluebirds is a piece of music that is more suitable for the live setting than the studio recording. It sounds as if it is an all-out improvisation, a flurry of crashing drums and sporadic instruments. Jamming is something that I appreciate whenever it is done by an artist, whether it be through the brief, polished delivery of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the lengthier, experimental jams from Phish. When a jam is captured in a studio, however, it rarely lives up to its counterpart that is performed live. Artists like John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band, who often integrate jam-sections into their studio tracks, try to do so in a way that is brief and cohesive. Bluebirds knows neither brevity nor cohesion. It’s a cool bit of music, but nothing that warrants repeat listens.

Bluebirds is a loud, drum-pounding song with an intro that will make you want to start hitting some pots and pans to make some noise as if you were a Rugrat. It does get spooky-sounding a little after three minutes into the song, but the brass neutralizes the sinister sound. Bluebirds is one crazy song, and that is why I love it.

And Relax!

And Relax! is incredibly similar to Ode To The Big Sea. As stated earlier, Ode To The Big Sea was monotonous. Thankfully, And Relax! places dynamic elements over the rhythmic drum and bass combination. Lovely piano marks the ending of the song, piano that I would have preferred to have been more dominant throughout the song. Despite its energy, And Relax! stays true to its title, making it a solid addition to an album that is largely ambient.

The title of this track is perfect! Honestly, And Relax! could be my lullaby. It is chill, calm, and slow- paced. I could imagine dreaming to this song and entering my fantasy paradise without worrying about any problems from the real world. And Relax! is a magical song that will have you feeling relaxed. Likewise, it is also an appropriate song to play on a rainy day, as it does fit that blue mood spurred by stormy weather.

Diabolus

Diabolus features saxophone that finally hits the mark. This time around, the instrument is successful at meshing with the music surrounding it. Diabolus is a chill lounge jam for the first five minutes before it morphs into what sounds like the earlier parts of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Ending with the lounge tone established by Durian, The Cinematic Orchestra says goodbye. A decent closer that teases a more electronic side to the group, Diabolus leaves more to be desired from the Cinematic Orchestra, partially because the group has flaunted its potential and partially because Motion was not quite a complete meal.

Diabolus brings back the coffee shop vibe from Durian. Diabolus takes a twist around the 5 minute mark, as more piano and a dream-like sound is added to the song. I must say, Motion is an interesting album despite being one that is different from what I typically listen to. I just wish that it was not boring and repetitive at times. If you need an album to chill to, then this one is for you. Thank you all for another amazing year of album reviews. Happy New Year everyone!

My Top 3

Durian

Channel 1 Suite

And Relax!

Rob’s Top 3

And Relax!

Night of the Iguana

Durian

Motion was an interesting album. It was conceptually organized, full of reoccurring sounds and bold ideas, but it isn’t quite ripe for high praise. The Cinematic Orchestra is undoubtedly promising, as their sound lives up to their name. In other words, the music is cinematic. Because the music retains a unique dynamism, I presume that this group’s later albums are tighter and more focused. There is surely meat to be preserved from this Porkchop. 

~Juck

Gamerscene: What to Expect in 2015

The new year is upon us. People across the globe will be attempting to shed weight. None of that is happening on Gamerscene. Here, we eat steak and don’t apologize. That is all.

Come 2015, yours truly will be reviewing more albums with Robby. As of today, we have reviewed 25 albums. That’s no small feat. With the arrival of 2015, we’ll be bringing you more music, more insight, and, hopefully, more laughs.

If you are not a regular reader of our reviews, check out what I consider to be one of our best. Our take on Santana’s Supernatural is one that turned out golden.

Robert and I try to achieve a healthy balance between new music and music that is far past its original release, as we truly believe that there is fresh music to be found from all over time and all over the world.

We have tackled artists ranging in genre, from Johnny Cash’s postmortem album Out Among the Stars to Eminem’s newest record, the Marshall Mathers LP 2. We have explored reggae through Dub Inc’s Paradise and psychedelic rock through Pink Floyd’s iconic Dark Side of the Moon. We’ve tackled Christian music, whether it be through Skillet’s Rise or Phil Wickham’s Cannons, as well as indie rock through both Linkin Park’s Hunting Party and Lydia’s Illuminate

That’s just scratching the surface. Rob and I have explored a multitude of other genres and artists, and have probed names both popular and unpopular.

Perhaps the best part of the album reviews are the trail of Robbyisms that they leave behind. For those unfamiliar, a Robbyism is a phrase from Robby that can be construed as hilarious. Rob’s a funny dude, both consciously and unconsciously. Often times he’ll write something in a review that yields laughter. These phrases are so commonplace that after every wave of album reviews (10 reviews = 1 wave), I sift through the reviews and pick the funniest 10. What comes of this are my favorite posts to reside on Gamerscene. The Top 1o Robbyisms of Wave 1 and Wave 2 are undoubtedly the best posts of the year. I look forward to the compilation of Wave 3 Robbyisms, as they are guaranteed to plant smiles all around. Check out the posts if you haven’t already.

Without a doubt, it’s been a wild journey. I would like to thank all of you for sharing, liking, commenting, and enjoying the album reviews. We hope that you continue to enjoy them. Keep on requesting and keep on reading! You guys and gals keep us going.

Thank you once again. Get wasted responsibly. 

~Juck

Phil Wickham Album Review: Cannons (2007)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Cannons, Christian artist Phil Wickham’s second album. To lend a second opinion, I brought my buddy Robert on board with me.

In green is my opinion. Christian music is nowhere near my primary genre, though I am familiar with its general sound. I’m excited to listen to Phil Wickham, as his musical style seems promising.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is unfamiliar with Phil Wickham, but is a fan of Skillet and some other Christian bands.

Must I Wait

Contemporary Christian music rarely packs a punch, generally regarded by the masses as being underwhelming. Must I Wait is a song that promises anything but disappointment. This song opens up Cannons with smoke and fire. The electric instrumentation, the excited drums, and Wickham’s edgy vocals amount to an intense listen, full of energy and emotion. Must I Wait is a Christian song with value outside of church, which is precisely what I am looking for when it comes to Christian music.

Must I Wait kicks off the album with some great vocals along with some nice guitar playing. I feel like this song is intended to take you on a journey of some sort. The melody is beautiful and the bass line is likewise nice to hear. Must I Wait is a good way to start off the album.

After Your Heart

After Your Heart, while it is fluffier than Must I Wait, still manages to retain both edge and power. Phil Wickham can undoubtedly sing with passion, his emotion audible. The stand-out instrument in this song is the piano, offering a beautiful little melody that serves as the backbone of the song. After Your Heart has a commercial sound that glosses over the entire track, but it is decent nonetheless.

After Your Heart is an uplifting song with pleasant piano at the beginning. You can clearly detect the Christian vibe within the music. After Your Heart reminds us that God will always love us. It is a pleasure to hear music that inspires people to keep their faith.

Desire

A worship song? Yes. A worship song that is bold? Not quite. Overcharged electric guitar and ceaseless drums ring out for the duration of the song, signifying a spiritual outpouring that is supposed to be occurring within the listener. That outpouring didn’t happen. If the easy vibe teased at the beginning of the song was embraced, Desire would have been enjoyable, as the sound was Arctic Monkeys-esque, an attribute I would never expect to assign to a Christian song. Instead, Desire is simply a Christian song as Christian songs are understood by the mainstream.

The first 20 seconds of Desire could easily be my morning alarm, as it would provide for a pleasant waking. Once again, I love the guitar because of the mellow vibe I get from it. Wickham’s vocals are also delightful, effectively communicating his positive message.

Cannons

Wickham aimed for Coldplay’s In My Place but instead got Coldplay’s Paradise. That’s not a compliment. The dreamy pings dancing behind Wickham’s voice are spice to the track and the lyrics are honest in delivery, but Cannons suffers from the bug that plagues an abundance of Christian music, one of unreasonably loud instrumentals and unnecessary, cheesy chants. Cannons is not a failure, but a disappointment.

I love the galaxy-themed lyrics and how they tie in with the Lord above. I also like the fact that Wickham points out that we as humans are unworthy of being loved by God due to the fact that we sin everyday, yet He still loves us no matter what. I wish more people could dish out positive messages like those in Cannons.

Sailing On a Ship

Sailing On a Ship is beautiful. The acoustics are poignant, the drumming is inspiring, and the vocal melody of the chorus is stirring. Furthermore, the harmonies within the chorus are notably well-executed, adding depth to an already strong song. Sailing On a Ship is an anthemic, dynamic feat that is a joy to listen to.

Yo ho ho and away we go on a mellow voyage on the great blue sea. Sailing On A Ship is a beautiful song from start to finish. It talks about the fact that no matter what life throws at us, we still find a way to get through it all by praying to God above. We all hope to reach heaven someday, so just seize every day, repent your sins, live a great life, and you will have a smooth ride after your time has come.

The Light Will Come

A pretty song? Sure. A song that is interesting? No. A minute and twenty seconds into the track, distorted guitar creeps back from Sailing on a Ship, but it is not executed nearly as well as it was on the aforementioned success of a song. Not much is happening here. I feel that The Light Will Come is ideal for a live church setting, but the studio recording unfortunately falls flat.

I always love when a song starts off with nothing but an acoustic guitar followed by nice sounding vocals. The song is obviously about God’s light and how we all await the day for it to shine on us. The light reminds us that evil has lost and peace is coming.

Shining

Shining is a song that is in formulaic balance, as the melodies are tight, the vocals are acceptable, and the instrumentation is satisfactory. Nonetheless, there was no feeling within the song. The track comes across as passionless. Once again suffering from the Christian music bug, Wickham and his backing band lack subtlety and embrace the norm. Shining is underwhelming, contrary to its title’s implications.

I love all of the instruments in Shining, especially the bass, which keeps me hooked onto Wickham’s music. Shining is another uplifting song that will raise the faith of anybody listening to it. Keep on shining, our friends up there in heaven! We hope to join you in paradise sometime.

You’re Beautiful

You’re Beautiful is a successful worship song. Its instrumentation is properly restrained, Wickham’s delivery is powerful, and the lyrics are poetic. A calming track overall, You’re Beautiful is a job well done. I have had the privilege to witness this song being performed by a church youth group and it moved everybody in the substantial crowd. Wickham got this one right.

Wow, I never thought that a song could be this majestic and bring a little tears out of my eyes. Honestly, I’m at a loss of words with how wonderful this song is. It can be played anywhere just to cheer someone up, or be sung to someone who is very ill. It may make others cry, but they will be joyful. You’re Beautiful is definitely magical.

True Love

If After Your Heart had a baby with Sailing on a Ship, True Love would be the result. Falling in between the two songs (with Sailing on a Ship at the top), True Love is a decent track. It has the signature Phil Wickham vibe to it, a satisfying blend between subtlety and boldness. Thankfully, his vocals are just as impassioned as they were at they beginning of the album. If I was to ever catch this guy live, True Love is certainly a song I would want in my set list.

If you have ever felt like you were drifting further and further away from our Lord with every passing day, then this song is for you. The lyrics make you feel like you are being pulled closer to Jesus. I feel like this song would also be perfect to be played on Easter Sunday. Never give up your faith and Jesus will always find you.

Jesus Lord of Heaven

Jesus Lord of Heaven is the first song from Cannons where the bass stands out to me. The easy bass gives the track a relaxed feeling, enhanced by the distorted guitar effects and Wickham’s appropriately restrained vocals. I dig Jesus Lord of Heaven, as it is a solid chill-out song.

From the first note of Jesus Lord of Heaven, you can easily tell it is a worship song. The lyrics are lovely and the music is calm. It is true that love is all we ever need, and Jesus will always be there to help us get through our lives. Jesus Lord of Heaven reminds us of this, and helps us to remember to pray to him every day/night/both.

Home

There must be a thousand songs titled home. Without even thinking of one in particular, I can assure you that every song I have ever heard titled “Home” has sucked…that is, until I heard Phil Wickham’s Home. Just as was the case with Jesus Lord of Heaven, this track is relaxed and calming. There is a brief violin solo within the song that was accompanied by a wild distortion effect that sounded incredibly cool. Home is a unique song that provides for a satisfying listen.

Home is another song with some awesome guitar. The music reminds me of sitting on a beach right as the sun sets. I would just be sipping on lemonade, watching the waves go by, and forgetting about life for a while. I would not forget about Jesus, and will continue to await the day I hopefully unite with him and my departed family members in the kingdom above.

Spirit Fall

A sad-sounding song, Spirit Fall is a satisfying conclusion to Cannons. Certainly a fitting finale, it ends with a bang. While a calm atmosphere dominates a majority of its duration, Spirit Fall climaxes with loud instrumentation and strong final words. The entire song feels like a collective sigh of release or goodbye wave. Spirit Fall concludes this album on a positive note.

Cannon ends with Spirit Fall, a song that can be related to how teens and young adults feel today. Lots of people are afraid to let out their love for God, but this song reminds us to never be afraid to let the world know you love God. After all, it is our job as Christians to spread the word of Jesus to others. Never give up your faith, and never be afraid to show it. We have the freedom….sort of. (This is no place for politics.) Anyway, we have the freedom to say what we want, and if people do not like it, who needs them anyway? Thank you all for reading yet another album review! Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I know that 2015 will be a great year for music, and I hope you will continue this journey with us!

My Top 3

Sailing on a Ship

You’re Beautiful

Home

Robby’s Top 3

Sailing On A Ship

You’re Beautiful

Home

I’d first like to acknowledge that this is the first time that Robby and I have had the same Top 3. Rob says it’s a Christmas miracle.

Back to Cannons. This album features some treasures along with songs of substantially lesser value. Some of the music is overdone, glazing Wickham’s individual style with the very bug that plagues much of the other Christian music made today. Nonetheless, Cannons is worth some of your time. This Porkchop, though overcooked in many spots, has a tender center that you can surely enjoy. Cut off some of the excess char and enjoy what is left of your meal.

~Juck

Skillet Album Review: Rise (2013)

Feel free to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Rise, the ninth solo album from the Christian rock band Skillet.

In green is my opinion. I am generally familiar with Skillet’s later work, though I haven’t followed their entire discography.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He has been a big fan of Skillet ever since he heard Awake and Alive on the radio. He is very familiar with their discography and sound.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Rise

Rise is a proper re-introduction to Skillet. The song contains many elements that Skillet fans will appreciate upon first listen, notably the familiar orchestral strings and unmistakable male-female harmonization. The classic Skillet staples are spiced up, however, by the inclusion of a children’s choir as well as a rattling explosion of frantic voices at the end of the song. These additions may very well be nods to Pink Floyd. Either way, it is the chorus where the meat of this track can be found. Hard-hitting, it is built to pump up the listener. Rise is a fantastic start to this album, promising power all around. Throw this song on a Hunger Games soundtrack for God’s sakes. 

If you have ever needed a battle/war song, look no further. Rise starts off the album with a heavy, powerful song. Skillet declares that it is time to revolt because of how terrible life is. I love how we get to hear more of Jen’s vocals along with her pounding drum skills. Rise gives off a strong message, as is usually the case with Skillet. Rise is a perfect display of how every rock album should begin.

Sick of It

Is it Skillet or is it Linkin Park? Sick of It is founded upon a heavy beat that is entirely driven by electric guitar and pounding drums. Some electronic accents are added in with the relentless guitar in a style comparable to that of Linkin Park. Even the lyrics are reminiscent of those from LP. Sick of It is a fast-moving explosion of a song, undoubtedly a fun listen.

Sick of It reminds me of Skillet’s Monster with its heavy guitar and electronic noises, which is why I did not like it from the very start. Additionally, I do not like how repetitive the lyrics are. Nonetheless, I can see this song being played at a party or at clubs because of its high energy. Out of curiosity, I would love to hear a remixed version of this track. While I am not a big fan of Sick of It, I can understand why many fans love it.

Good to Be Alive

Good to Be Alive is a lovely song. The inclusion of piano softens the entire track, giving it the hopeful feeling that Christian music is known for. The lead guitar emulates David Bowie’s Under Pressure, while the chorus has a ring of the Who’s Baba O’Reilly. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Skillet is a Christian rock band, as their music is very aggressive. Good to Be Alive reminds us that Skillet has an easier side. The band harkens back to their aggressive roots, however, at the track’s end, where an ominous verse is sung by a young girl, foreshadowing darker things to come. Good to Be Alive is a greatly enjoyable track.

There is one word to describe Good to Be Alive: chipper. This song is very positive, as it reminds us to have a great time with our lives. In other words, Good to Be Alive is the exact opposite of Rise. I love the piano in this song. Still, I can’t help but feel that the track is a little too happy. It is odd to hear a song like this after listening to two tracks that didn’t hold anything back. I will admit that Good to Be Alive is repetitive, but the song gets away with repetition because of the high-quality lyrics. When I first heard the dark outro at the end of this song, it caught me by surprise. I was a bit startled because of the negativity of the lyrics. Good to Be Alive is a great way to build up to the next epic track, however.

Not Gonna Die

Not Gonna Die clearly pulls influence from Skillet’s very own Awake and Alive. Frantic strings accent determined lyrics, throwing the listener back to the classic Skillet sound. The guitar solo within the song, while brief, is a real treat. Skillet has a talent for rocking together, but I feel that the band members could discover some new heights if they branched out once in a while and gave one another time to shine individually. This song isn’t quite a step forward in Skillet’s sound, but it is one that listeners are sure to enjoy.

Not Gonna Die starts off with a classic Skillet violin intro which is then followed by a nice riff. We are once again treated with Jen and John’s vocals. This song reminds me of Awake and Alive because of the sick violin-playing and simple-yet-heavy guitar riffs. Not Gonna Die has the heavy sound I love, a speedy guitar solo, crazy violin, and powerful lyrics. I can see this song being used for a crazy battle scene in a movie, an anime movie in particular! Not Gonna Die is a prime example of what Skillet can do, and it is one of my favorite tracks from them.

Circus for a Psycho

Circus for a Psycho’s rapid-firing riff, clearly inspired by AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, begins the song at 100 miles an hour. The entire track is quick-firing madness. The frenzied lyrics, the speedy instrumentation, and the wild guitar solo keep the song moving at a ridiculously fast pace. When the song ends with peaking cacophony and a sigh of relief once silence is finally achieved, you can’t help but sigh along. Circus for a Psycho is off the wall, incredibly high in energy, and a damn good time. If the next song isn’t slower, I may have a heart attack.

You are about to be Thunderstruck…sort of. If this song sounds like the classic AC/DC song to your ears, that is because it is supposed to. Skillet has confirmed this Thunderstruck influence in an interview. As a fan of hard rock/metal, this song is in my comfort zone because of the guitars along with John’s screaming. Circus for a Psycho is very fast paced, essentially a wild roller coaster ride. The guitar solo punches you in the face. I really love this song for all of the energy it has. I am getting a Pink Floyd vibe with all the madness that happens at the end of almost every song from Rise. I am always intrigued when songs have interesting endings and segues into one another.

American Noise

Through this song, Skillet expresses their disappointment in society as well as their hope of overcoming the “American Noise” that is so contrary to life according to Christian ideology. This song is intended to be inspirational, a pick-me-up for struggling believers and those who are tired of the trappings of American society. Therefore, I feel that it is more fitting in church than it is on an iPod, unless Christian music is one’s primary genre. The same cannot be said about many of Skillet’s other songs, which can double as both church songs and songs for day-to-day listening. American Noise is a preachy song that screams “single.” It could serve its purpose in church, but it surely isn’t the best musical piece offered on Rise.

American Noise is a perfect song for a shy guy like me. Through the lyrics, I can tell that the song is about having enough confidence to put yourself out in the world and being able say what is on your mind. Never second-guess yourself. Always be vocal. American Noise is another positive track, much like Good to Be Alive, though people will be able to relate to American Noise more. Believe me: being quiet, isolating yourself, and not caring about anything is a terrible way to live. I have a friend who is like that, and my buddies and I always try our hardest to change him.

Madness in Me

This song is heavy, carried by a mean-sounding guitar riff. If that riff was a person, it would be a very strong, hairy person; the kind of person who I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with. Madness in Me contains lyrics that are typical of Skillet: There is a war inside of me but I am stronger than that war. And so, while the guitar goes hard in the paint, there isn’t anything new here. Madness in Me is a song that won’t be remembered among all of the dynamic titans on Rise.

The riff of Madness in Me sounds a lot like the hit Three Days Grace song Animal I Have Become. Other than the riff, I am not a big fan of this song. I feel that the lyrics are just typical Skillet lyrics. There is nothing special about Madness in Me, making it another generic heavy rock song. It is a shame, because this song could have been so much more than it is. Still, it is nice to hear Jen’s voice at the end of this song, along with piano.

Salvation

I really dig the fact that Salvation is dominated by the chick. She does a fantastic job offering her voice to role of lead singer. Having a female lead freshens the song immensely. The fact that the male-female duo isn’t trading vocal blows with each other as they typically do is a huge relief, because that’s what they always do. Keeping the record new and interesting, Salvation is an outstanding song.

Salvation is where Jen Ledger finally shines! Salvation is classic Skillet. Songs like this one are why people love this band. This song is obviously about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we all know, Skillet is a Christian rock band, but what I love is that they have a heavy sound. Salvation is a beautiful song, and it will always be ingrained in the hearts of Skillet fans.

Fire and Fury

The inclusion of blazing piano makes Fire and Fury an ideal worship song. Unlike American Noise, which is too churchy to be commercial, Fire and Fury is an awesome, easily accessible religious song. The singing duo shines together on this track. While they usually seem to be finishing one another’s sentences, they actually seem to be singing this song together, as if it was a duet being performed on stage. Hats off, this is a well-done song.

Fire And Fury is yet another religious song off of Rise. It is cool how the first half of the album was mostly about real world problems, whereas the latter half of the album feels like classic Skillet. The duet in this song is genius. I could not imagine the song without it. Always remember that no matter how rough life may get, God will always be there to carry you!

My Religion

Skillet just got grungy on us. Really grungy. My Religion is all edge and attitude. The saucy riff rocks and rolls, amplified by buzzing electronic accents. Even the lyrics are edgy. Skillet seems to be saying that God is enough; going to church isn’t necessary to secure a spot in Heaven. They interpolate a little bit from Amazing Grace within the song, unapologetically molding it for their own purpose. My Religion is a fun ride with bold meaning. Skillet doesn’t get much better than this.

Well…this is different. I like this song’s fast-pace, as it reminds me of classic rock. Once again, we get some meaningful lyrics. This song is about the fact that we do not need a church or religious place to pray. No matter where we are, we can always show our love to Jesus. I enjoyed this catchy, oddball song.

Hard to Find

It’s interesting to hear the Christian side of Skillet. I know that Skillet has always been labeled a Christian rock band, but a majority of their music wouldn’t sound fitting in church unless it was stripped down to being acoustic. Hard to Find is a genuine Christian song, completely appropriate for church as is. It is less ambitious than most songs from Rise, but it has its place regardless.

Hard To Find starts off with a familiar piano intro. Once again, John is singing uplifting lyrics about religion. You may feel that Skillet’s lyricism is growing old by now, but I have come to terms with the fact that Christian rock is repetitive. If you think about it, faith is not all that hard to find. Everywhere you go, you will always find something God created. Hard To Find is a nice song, but in the end, it is what you would expect from Skillet.

What I Believe

What I Believe is essentially a less interesting Not Gonna Die. That’s really all I can say about it. Much of Skillet’s work is formulaic, following the same pattern in each and every song. What I enjoy about Rise as a whole is that, for the most part, every song sounds remarkably different. Aside from a handful of songs, one of those being What I Believe, each song is individually interesting in its own right. I feel that Skillet should have omitted this track from the album. It isn’t a bad track. It’s simply uninteresting.

Skillet concludes the album with another faith-centric song. This song actually sounds like it can be from another Skillet album, Comatose, which happens to be my favorite record from the band. I like how Rise starts off with a heavy song about revolution and ends with another religious tune. Overall, Rise is definitely one of Skillet’s best. It displays their classic side, as well as a heavy side that has not been heard since their Collide album. Thank you all for reading this review of an album from one of my favorite bands. I hope you all enjoyed it! Fun fact: I graduated high school the same day that this album was released. I guess Skillet will always have a place in my heart.

My Top 3

Rise

Salvation

My Religion

Robby’s Top 3

Not Gonna Die

American Noise

Salvation

Skillet is a group that usually plays very close to their chest. The band isn’t known for diversity or for boldness. Rise, however, is diverse enough to mark a change in Skillet. This strong Porkchop is a must-own for Skillet fans and a proper album to start with for those who want to get acquainted. It is dynamic and high in energy, a fresh addition to the band’s discography. Check out Rise.

~Juck

Chris Cornell Album Review: Euphoria Morning (1999)

Feel free to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Euphoria Morning, the first solo album from Chris Cornell.

In green is my opinion. I was introduced to Cornell through his song You Know My Name, which was recorded for the stellar Bond film Casino Royale. I am generally familiar with his solo work, though I have not listened to his work with Soundgarden or Audioslave.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He knows Cornell for his work with both Soundgarden and Audioslave. He likes both bands. 

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Can’t Change Me

Chris Cornell kicks off his debut album with a melodic, dark-sounding track. Can’t Change Me is grungy, rocky, and twinged with attitude. The lyrics are effective and the music is riveting.  “It sounds like a Bond song,” remarked my dad upon listening to it. He hit the nail right on the head. Can’t Change Me is an easy introduction to Cornell’s debut solo album.

I was hooked to this song right away because of its sick guitar intro. The mixture of electric and acoustic guitar works well with Chris’s vocals. The bass groove is also nice. Can’t Change Me is a solid start to the album.

Flutter Girl

Flutter Girl possesses a curious vibe, bordering on sounding Middle Eastern. The electric guitar adds a layer of attitude that complements Cornell’s smoky voice, all while the acoustic guitar manages to hold its ground. Perhaps Flutter Girl is successful because of the seamless merging between both guitars. I feel that Cornell could have found a more interesting chorus to sing, but it’s a good song nonetheless.

I enjoyed Flutter Girl’s western feeling, though I did not like the electronic noises that occasionally popped up during the song. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that Cornell shows off his impressive vocals through the track. In addition, I like the unusual sounds that the guitar makes, as well as the sick drumming. The song serves as a good display of what Cornell is all about.

Preaching the End of the World

Preaching the End of the World features crisp acoustics that are so crisp that one could call them Krispy Kreme. Have I mentioned that this song has some crisp acoustics? Chris Cornell launches from a long, strong acoustic introduction to an emotional stream of impressive vocals that shine behind a rocking band. The electric guitar that is spread throughout the song sometimes emulates the guitar from the beginning of Paul McCartney and the Wings’ Band on the Run. That is yet another reason why this song is great. Preaching the End of the World is an enjoyable, individual track that sums up Chris Cornell’s ability as a musician.

I’m a sucker for a slow song that picks up after a bit, and Preaching the End of the World is just that. I love every single aspect of this song. The instruments along with the vocals are plain beautiful. The song is great even when Chris hits the high notes. It is definitely one of my favorites thus far.

Follow My Way

Yet again, I am hearing a Middle Eastern sound. Perhaps it is Cornell’s constant vocal fluctuation that produces a sound that emulates vocalization. Or maybe the Arabic vibe comes from what sounds like an orchestra. Regardless of the cool Middle Eastern vibe possessed by this track, Follow My Way is all about the electric guitar. It sounds mystical, as if Gandalf were playing it with his white staff. I dig this track because it’s bold. I like bold.

Follow My Way definitely has a Soundgarden vibe to it, especially in terms of Chris’s vocals. I was really hoping to hear that side of him on Euphoria Morning, and I’m glad that it came not too far into the album. He has a very distinctive scream that is showcased perfectly in this song.

When I’m Down

This is the kind of song that one hears when they stumble into a ratty bar looking to get wasted in an effort to drown their problems in liquor. I really enjoy When I’m Down. The beginning of the song is comprised of Chris Cornell’s powerful voice and a lounge piano. Then, out of nowhere, drums, guitar, and bass attach themselves to the passion-fueled outpouring. All throughout the track, Cornell belts out top-notch, smoky vocals. The inclusion of a nasty guitar solo and the subtle addition of backup singers makes When I’m Down a song full of tricks that add up to a badass clown-for-hire. Of course, this clown would exclusively perform in bars, and would be paid by the pint. Did I mention that it’s a sad clown? Oh, and it’s a member of Depeche Mode. Pick any of them. They’re a bunch of sad clowns.

Sweet! I love ballads more than any other type of song. The piano in When I’m Down is beautiful, Chris’s vocals are great as usual, and that solo is smashing. This song is perfect in every way,  fitting for when a couple wants to have “fun.” On the other hand, you can simply play it when you are having a good time with the person you love. Yeah, that sounds better to me.

Mission

By far the heaviest song on the album, Mission is a song that is fitting only for a badass.  Chris Cornell belts out some outrageous screams all while heavy guitar erupts around him. The mercilessly mocking lyrics fit the music like red wine fits a steak dinner. Only, this steak is bloody. Cornell rips this song apart with his voice. Mission is a great time that likely killed this man’s vocal chords.

Mission reels me in with a guitar intro that sounds very western. Chris is forceful in this song. Just let Chris be Chris and you will not be disappointed. You may find that screaming annoying, (like my mom) but that is what makes Chris a great singer. That is screaming, people, not yelling like you hear in mainstream crap.

Wave Goodbye

The main guitar riff of Wave Goodbye sounds a lot like something that Phish would play. In other words, it’s funky. Wave Goodbye retains a rockish sound, but the funky guitar and gliding bass keep it from being a hardcore rock song. I don’t mind the sound at all, as it makes for some easy listening. Wave Goodbye is a refreshing glass of water after the bloodbath that was Mission. But don’t get it twisted. Cornell still sings his heart out, delivering some solid lyrics while he’s at it. Wave Goodbye is one of the lighter songs on the album, and it sounds great.

I’m not going to lie: I thought that it was Dave Matthews at the beginning of the song. Anyhow, Wave Goodbye is a sad song that doesn’t sound very sad at all. The song is clearly about losing someone you love/know. You should never let loss bother you. It is best that you just move on with your life. Death is a part of life that we all experience, and Wave Goodbye reminds us not to grieve about it.

Moonchild

Moonchild has an eerie sound to it. The lyrics are notably poetic, full of vivid imagery. While Cornell does a fine job with the writing of the song, it isn’t a consistently smooth ride. The chorus is much stronger than the verses, both melodically and vocally. The guitar solo and bridge towards the end are daringly melodic, however, resulting in the literal “ending on a positive note”. Once Moonchild overcame its monotonous opening verses, it is a smooth ride. Moonchild should have been polished more, but is a good listen nonetheless.

The guitar in Moonchild makes me bob my head slowly, perfect for when I just sit down and chill. Once again, we are gifted with a short yet sweet guitar solo. I know that this song is not slow enough to be called mellow, but it is relaxing to me nonetheless.

Sweet Euphoria

Sweet Euphoria is a nice song that is solely comprised of lovely acoustics and Cornell’s voice. Sweet Euphoria feels surprisingly full despite its minimalist layout. It doesn’t define the album, but it does display a softer, quieter side of Chris Cornell that the listener doesn’t get much of elsewhere on the record. A fine cool-off from the driving Moonchild, this track is a welcome one.

Bingo! We finally found a mellow song that could put me to sleep! I absolutely love how this tune is solely acoustic. Whenever I finally learn how to play guitar, this is a song that will be at the top of my list to master. Furthermore, the lyrics are interesting. I love the vibe that I get from Sweet Euphoria.

Disappearing One

Disappearing One offers a little taste of Sinatra in its introduction. Some orchestral instruments are subtly worked into the sound of the song, giving the track a classic feeling. At times, Cornell’s vocal melodies resemble those in Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die. That’s both an observation and a compliment. Disappearing One’s standout feature is its lyrics. They express a pure outburst of emotion. Disappearing One is a solid song.

Wait…since when was I watching an old movie? Oh wait, never mind. It is just another Chris Cornell song. The guitar in Disappearing One is pleasant and Chris’s vocals are great as usual. I love how can he bust out the high notes at will and then knock down the intensity a notch just as easily.

Pillow of Your Bones

There are moments in life where steak tastes even more delicious than usual, moments where every bite is heavenly. Pillow of Your Bones is like one of those moments. This song has its ish together. The right hand *raises left hand* knows what the left hand *raises right hand* is doing! The lyrics are poetic, the acoustics are deep, the bass is wild, the guitar is robust…the list goes on and on. I especially love the calming, almost trance-like chorus. Pillow of Your Bones is flavored with some more subtle Middle Eastern melodies, giving it an overall mysterious vibe. Pillow of Your Bones is a stellar display of Cornell’s talent as a solo artist.

I was expecting Pillow of Your Bones to be a dark song, as implied by the title. I was slightly disappointed. The guitars are deep, but a handful of lyrics are weird in certain ways. I feel that Pillow of Your Bones would have been better if it was eerier.

Steel Rain

Steel Rain is fit for a horror movie. This dark song, full of mysterious, droning vocals, is made even more horrifying by its pained guitar and sinister organ. Steel Rain is a full, satisfying track that leaves the listener’s ears feeling numb but good. Chris Cornell says goodbye in a way that is fresh and memorable, unique to his grungy acoustic style.

I’m a Steelers fan and I love water, so of course I love the title of this song! Euphoria Morning ends with a slow, dark song, which is exactly what I wanted the previous song to be like! Along with the nice acoustics and cool piano, Steel Rain also features an eerie guitar solo. Hearing Chris wail that chorus puts chills down my spine! With that, I would like to thank you for reading another album review.

My Top 3

Preaching the End of the World

Wave Goodbye

Pillow of Your Bones

Rob’s Top 3

Wave Goodbye

Sweet Euphroia

Steel Rain

Euphoria Morning is an album that packs a pleasant punch. Cornell’s bold acoustic-electric fusion makes for some really interesting music. Each song is a true joy, full of dynamic elements that keep them fresh and unique. This high-quality T-Bone deserves your time. Oh, and be sure to check out Cornell’s French version of Can’t Change Me. It’s stellar.

~Juck

Santana Album Review: Supernatural (1999)

Feel free to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Supernatural, the seventeenth studio album from Carlos Santana.

In green is my opinion. I am quite familiar with Carlos Santana’s work, and so I am excited to tackle this grand album.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. Thanks to Guitar Hero III, which featured the hit song Black Magic Woman, he was exposed to Santana. He says that the “rightfully overplayed” Smooth was another big help in exposing him. 

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

(Da Le) Yaleo

This song can be summed up in a few words: ‘Carlos Santana enters a room…’ Yaleo is a welcoming, festive-sounding song that doesn’t hold anything back. Santana shreds his guitar all while horns, piano, and drums are going wild. As is often the case with Santana’s music, Yaleo is ripe for dancing. I can’t dance, but I am perfectly content grooving to this song while sedentary. This track manages to be high in energy without being overbearing, a quality that isn’t easy to attain. Yaleo is an outstanding opening track.

We start off Supernatural with the groovy (Da Le) Yaleo. Sorry, no hably espanol, so I cannot understand anything being said in this song. Regardless, it is easy to tell that it has a fun vibe. Through this song, Santana shows why he is one of the best guitarists to ever pick up the instrument. If this track doesn’t make you want to get up and dance, then you clearly have issues.

Love of My Life (featuring Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford)

This song is magic. There is a very small list of things that I call magic. This list includes Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Popcorn Bowl and Nickelback. Of course, I am wholeheartedly joking. Those are two of the least impressive things on this planet. Regardless, Love of My Life is a standout track that deserves praise. Dave Matthews lends his gruff voice to some romantic lyrics. He is supported by his main man, Carter Beauford, who lays down some hot drum grooves that fit right into a Santana song. Santana pours his heart out through the guitar, accenting the sensual lyrics before coming to an explosion at the end of the track. Love of My Life is a savory treat.

Dave, Carter, and Santana all in one song? Did God really give us this gift? This is another one of those “chill out” tracks. From Dave’s vocals to Carter’s drumming to Santana’s guitar, this song is a pleasure to listen to. Love of My Life is a great love song that I wish DMB would play on tour with Santana.

Put Your Lights On (featuring Everlast)

Everlast’s smoky voice complements Santana’s powerful guitar-playing like asparagus complements a filet: perfectly. The lyrics to Put Your Lights On are powerful. Executed by a commanding, angry voice, they work excellently . Santana takes the song to another level, singing through his guitar with an innumerable amount of feeling. Hearing acoustic guitar among the wicked electric provides freshness to this track, giving it a grand feeling. Put Your Lights On is a track that will be remembered for decades to come, and for good reason. This deep song is musically in sync.

Wow! Who would have thought that we would get a deep song from Santana that featured acoustic guitar? I love this song’s lyrics, as they tie in well with Santana’s timeless playing. Everlast (not the company that makes boxing equipment) does a great job with the vocals on this track. This song is just so true with everything!

Africa Bamba

I would dance to this song if I had the physical capacity to do so. This song is rich in Latin flavor, and while it may not be as explosive as (Da Le) Yaleo, it’s still high in energy. The gliding piano adds a lot of substance to the song, working alongside Santana’s stunning guitar-work. The horns that are sprinkled into Africa Bamba are a pleasant topping to an already golden baked potato. Africa Bamba is essentially Yaleo’s older brother: slightly more reserved, a little more mature, but still a great time.

Wow! That intro is just stellar! Africa Bamba is another smooth song that I can dance to from start to finish. (Wait…I am terrible at dancing). This song makes me want to pick up my guitar and play my heart out. Africa Bamba is a song that flows really well, and can be enjoyed by anyone.

Smooth (featuring Rob Thomas)

This song is the kind of smooth that is illustrated when one throws a cigar into a pool of gasoline whilst walking away from it, or when a man strides into a Victoria’s Secret to pick up a piece of scandalous clothing for his significant other. In other words, this song is smooth. The drums and piano lock in tightly with Santana’s guitar, creating a stellar musical accompaniment to Rob Thomas’s attitude-twinged vocals. He rocks this song, giving it soul that is alluring. Smooth is a badass track.

Here it is: the song we all know and love! Smooth is such a timeless classic. Rob Thomas’s vocals with Santana help this song to shine bright! I always love singing along to this song, as it always puts me into a great mood. Honestly, there is nothing more that I can say about this classic tune that hasn’t been said already. Just listen to Smooth and be blown away!

Do You Like the Way (featuring Lauryn Hill and Cee-Lo)

Do You Like the Way can best be described as being an R&B song featuring Carlos Santana. This track is made individual by the sleek horns, which give off a vibe reminiscent to that of Sting’s Tomorrow We’ll See. While this song is listenable, it doesn’t pack a punch like the other songs on Supernatural do. Instead, there is a lot of empty space where neither Santana nor his guests provide much substance. Do You Like the Way doesn’t leave much of an impact on the listener, though it surely is a functioning song.

Hold the phone…is that Cee-Lo I hear? Wait, why is there crap in a Santana song? Do You Like The Way is simply an overfilled collaboration song that is ruined by the rapping. Rap aside, this song is creative, and I always admire the creativity of artists. The question is, do you like the way your soul feels after hearing this song?

Maria Maria (featuring Product G&B)

An interesting fusion between R&B and Santana, Maria Maria is surprisingly successful. The Product G&B provide tender vocals that work in unison with Santana’s rocking electric guitar. Even while the virtuoso assumes the warmer acoustic guitar, Maria Maria remains groovy. This is much to the credit of the bass, which is turned up for the sake of emanating an R&B track. Over all, this track is a chill ride. It is likely a spectacle in the live show, with Santana’s guitar flares dominating the stage.

I always love some nice bass. Maria Maria is a beautiful title to a beautiful song. I love the beat and I love the lyrics. This song is ideal for driving through town on a hot summer day, feeling happy with the love of your life sitting next to you, not giving a crap about the world around you. It does not get any better than this!

Migra

My entire childhood flashed before my eyes during the first ten seconds of Migra. Move Along from the All-American Rejects is a staple song of my childhood soundtrack. Unexpected nostalgia aside, Migra is a party. The drummer is holding a steady, reserved rhythm that amplifies the power of Santana’s wailing guitar. This song has a festive, cultural feeling to it, very Spanish in its sound. If I were to try my hand at bullfighting, I would select Migra to be my battle song. Sure, I would be impaled by the bull, but this song would make the experience better.

Wait, is that Move Along by The All-American Rejects I hear? Nope, it’s more Santana! Migra is the type of song that can pump you up! I love the Spanish vibe given off by the brass instruments. Once again, we are blessed with an amazing Santana solo. Migra is a song that gets you moving.

Corazon Espinado

If Dora the Explorer and her friend Boots were to get married, this would be their wedding song. It’s got everything a grooving Latin American song needs. Rocking piano, tight drumming, sick guitar, and, of course, cowbell. Corazon Espinado is a great song that’s easy to like. It’s essentially a red Solo cup. Nobody can hate a red Solo cup.

I’m not sure if this makes sense, but the beginning of this track makes me feel like I am on an elevator ride…a good elevator ride. This song’s theme reminds me of Clapton’s overplayed hit Layla, though I like Corazon Espinado a lot more. In addition, it resembles Black Magic Woman, which isn’t a bad thing. Oh, love, you bring people together and crush people. I still have yet to be in a relationship, but it does not bother me, and I am not rushing. I just wish my family would stop telling me to get in one.

Wishing It Was (featuring Eagle-Eye Cherry)

My father and I were listening to this album in the car very recently when a revelation was thrust before me by some higher power. It’s not Eagle-Eye Cherry singing this song, it’s…it’s…WILLEM DAFOE! Try unthinking THAT! Aside from the humor of the song that I am now unable to dismiss, this is a solid, funky song. Once again, Santana pours his heart out through that guitar. The inclusion of piano and easy horns gives the song a ton of flavor, which was well appreciated. Wishing It Was is a solid track that is a ball for me to listen to, as I can no longer take it seriously.

I’m not sure who this Eagle-Eye Cherry person is, but he’s got an awesome name. I like the Phish-like vibe that this song has, though I didn’t expect anything remotely like it from a Santana song. Wishing It Was is an individual, chill song with blasts of Santana’s remarkable guitar-work.

El Farol

This song is so unbelievably chill. It’s an end-of-the-day kind of song, to be played after the party is over. A breath of fresh air, is what it is. El Farol doesn’t try to make a bold statement. Instead, it’s here to soothe, and it does just that. This track is a satisfying one.

El Farol is a perfect song for chilling on the beach with a pina colada in hand, where one could relax and be taken away by the music. El Farol proves that lyrics are not necessary for a song to be amazing. As a matter of fact, lyrics would easily ruin this song. I wish we had more songs like this one.

Primavera

Primavera is a song that Santana rips apart with his guitar. Carlos jams hard on this track, holding back absolutely nothing. The second half of the song is all about him and his guitar. Period. Primavera would be an ideal show closer, as it ends on a loud, incredibly impressive note.

Pasta Primavera anyone? Anyways, I love both the chord progression and the vocals in this song. Primavera is beautiful, a track that deserves to be a classic. It is amazing how Santana can be soulful through nothing but his guitar. Primavera is a bit longer compared to the other tracks on the album, but the jamming makes the song worth your time. I hope that a modern jam-band does eventually cover it.

The Calling (featuring Eric Clapton)

The Calling is essentially three tunes in one. The first piece has an ambient, impassioned sound. The guitar that dominates the first tune has a John Mayer-esque vibe to it, as it is very bluesy. Once the ambient introduction subsides, the listener is met with a largely instrumental, soothing jam piece, which retains the classic Santana feeling. The third piece, which is perhaps my favorite of the three, includes acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar at the beginning of this section of the song retains a vibe that is reminiscent of a pirate shanty or Spanish song, which is by no means a negative thing. Given an even further cultural feel through the drumming, which is nearly identical to the percussion in Daniel Lanois’ Where the Hawkwind Kills, the final part of the Calling escalates with electric guitar and rallying vocals. The Calling is a satisfying final song, full of intriguing, diverse sounds.

Go figure! I mentioned Clapton earlier. It turns out that he did a song with Santana. The Calling is a great way to end the album because, within it, you have two of the greatest guitarists on the planet. It is nice to see both a Les Paul and a Fender Strat in the same song, considering the fact that both are rivals. Honestly, what can be better than a song jam-packed with guitar playing? I love that The Calling ends this timeless album. If you are looking for a different sound for your collection, look no further. Supernatural is the definitive Latin-rock album. Thank you for reading. See ya’ll next time!

My Top 3 

Love of My Life

Put Your Lights On

Smooth

Rob’s Top 3

Love of My Life

Maria Maria

El Farol

Supernatural is a bold album that is full of influences from across the globe. Whether Santana is playing with a flurry of Latin instruments, an R & B beat, or warm acoustics, he shines, retaining an individual voice in each song. Supernatural is an album that is diverse in its way yet cohesive in its sound. It is truly remarkable how nearly every track is fitting for both easy-listening and dancing. This Filet is a must-own. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy if you haven’t already. 

~Juck

Pearl Jam Album Review: Ten (1991)

I want YOU, the viewer, to leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ten, the first studio album from Pearl Jam.

In green is my opinion. I am familiar with a few members of Pearl Jam, and have listened to this album before. Other than that, I am not very familiar with Pearl Jam’s discography or history.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. Being a 90’s kid, he’s heard Pearl Jam on the radio. Rob has always enjoyed their music.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Once

Once is a pleasant punch to the face. The mysterious introduction, guided by a gliding bass-line, is very reminiscent of the bass-line from Coldplay’s High Speed. It serves as a swelling, thought-provoking buildup to the explosion that is Ten. Eddie Vedder doesn’t hold back, singing (and yelling) with urgency. He certainly doesn’t sound bored. The Vedder growl and all that comes with it is showcased here, as well as a quick, shredding solo from Mike McCready. The solo, if it can even be called such a thing due to its brevity, is there solely to tell the listener that McCready is there. Once latches the listener on, energetic and excited in its sound.

ONCE UPON A TIME! This album begins with a song that is very intense. It does what all first tracks should do: excites the listener for the rest of the album. The guitar riff is unforgettable, and Vedder’s classic screaming is showcased well. If Once does not make you go crazy, then you seriously have issues.

Even Flow

Even Flow’s main guitar riff sounds a lot like the bass-line from Once. I enjoy Once, I enjoy High Speed, and so, surprise surprise, I enjoy Even Flow as well. The chorus of this song is light in terms of sound yet strong in terms of delivery. Vedder’s tone is full of attitude, oozing grunge. This track is easy to stomach. Think of it as a doughnut that is frothy on the inside and glazed conservatively. It’s smooth and easy to down.

Many know Even Flow thanks to Guitar Hero 3. It’s no surprise that this particular track was featured in the game, because the guitar is amazing. Even Flow is Grunge at its finest. This song always gets me pumped up! Even though I cannot understand what the heck Vedder is saying all of the time, I still enjoy Even Flow.

Alive

This song bothers me. The problem I have with it doesn’t stem from the music, but from the lyricism. The verses are dragged down by Vedder’s poor lyrics. The only outstanding thing that I can say about Alive is that the guitar solo is wicked. Mike McCready did a nasty job. There was no way that his guitar made it out alive out of that one. Alive is an underwhelming track that is made salvageable because of the outstanding solo.

I was first hooked to this song because of the guitar intro. Alive has a wonderful story to it, which I always appreciate in songs. This is my favorite Pearl Jam song, and that’s because of every single element that the song has in it! The guitar solo that ends Alive can be considered one of the greatest solos of all time. I’m not going to lie. Whenever that solo starts, I blast the song and play air-guitar, even if I am in the car! Of course, I still have a hand on the steering wheel. I’m not that stupid!

Why Go

Why Go is a quick, breezy song. For the first time on this album, the drums caught my attention. The drummer isn’t doing anything crazy, but he’s playing pretty hard. Props to him to playing with energy. Once again, Mike McCready rips a solo that is remarkable. Eddie Vedder’s chorus is hard-hitting, memorable, and melodic. Why Go is a nice little song that feels whole despite its shorter duration.

Pearl Jam finally gives us a song with a drum intro and rocking bass. The guitar, as usual, is great, and this song definitely has that “classic” sound to it. Please do not think I mean classical music. I mean classic rock. You’ve got to love that screaming! Just remember: Do your best not to get diagnosed by a stupid !@#$.

Black

I have heard this song more than any other song on this album (thanks to my dad, who bought this album just for the one song) yet I cannot understand half of what Vedder is saying…but I don’t care. Black kicks ass. Vedder’s vocals are top notch. Backed by the powerful piano, he slays both the verses and the chorus . Black is one of the only songs on this album that feels like a band song. By that, I mean that the listener is conscious of everyone at once. McCready is shredding, the drummer is chugging along, and Vedder is vocalizing all over the place. Black just works. I love this song.

Finally, we get to hear a mellow song from Pearl Jam! Black is pure magic, and really displays how great Eddie Vedder is as a vocalist. I love the piano in this song.  It is another song you can really rock out to. Black is a classic masterpiece that could be enjoyed by anyone listening to this album!

Jeremy

Jeremy is a dark song. Damn.  The story tied to the lyrics is haunting, to say the least. To appreciate the song, hearing the lyrics is essential. Prior to looking up the lyrics, I only got a fragment of an idea from Jeremy. Now that I am fully acquainted with this track lyrics-wise, I understand it. In terms of music, Jeremy has both dark and uplifting moments. Jeremy is a solid song that is strong not only in terms of the chorus, as is expected from Pearl Jam, but in terms of the verse as well. It’s a solid song. Oh, and (you knew this was coming) the similarities between Eddie Vedder’s and Dave Matthews’ vocal styles are on display here. Just wanted to point that out.

Keep those awesome bass intros coming! Anyways, Jeremy is another song off of Ten with a wonderful yet depressing story. It is deep and dark. I love songs like that! It is why many other people love this song as well. What is not to love about this song?

Oceans

Oceans is a Pearl Jam song with flavor. From the dipping and rising vocal effects slapped onto Vedder’s voice to his falsetto to the track’s progressive flavor, Oceans is different all-around. I find it intriguing to hear a different side of this band. I hear a lot of Chris Cornell in here, in both the vocals and in the music, which is awesome. I can’t help but feel, however, that Oceans could have been grander, or at least longer. Regardless, I really dig this track. That’s why I want more of it.

Damn it, why are all the songs I really like short? Oceans is one solid track! Hence the title, Oceans would be a great song to play on the beach. I do not know exactly why, but the guitar reminds me of Led Zeppelin, and that is never a bad thing!

Porch

I don’t care for Porch lyrically. The boys play too fast for any of the lyrics to soak in. It’s when McCready steps up to the plate when things get wild. He makes that guitar moan. As soon as he kicks into gear with his solo, the song takes a very dark turn that I dig…then Eddie’s back, and it’s a buzzkill. All of the darkness is expelled. Honestly, I just wanted him to shut up and give the stage back to that wizard with the guitar. Porch was wasted potential. McCready’s solo could have been used as a brooding base for a different song entirely.

Damn Eddie, you really wanted to start this song off angrily! The lyrics to Porch can be related to our world today, and that is just crazy smart. Once again, the guitar-work is stellar in this song, and the bass groove is nice as well. I love how fast and heavy Porch’s sound is.

Garden

Garden is smooth. The entrancing guitar and poetic lyrics swell to a satisfying explosion through the triumphant chorus that sounds warmly familiar. I hear faint echoes of Phil Wickham’s Must I Wait for a note or two in Vedder’s chorus. As much as I do enjoy this song, I feel that it has the potential to grow into a grand live song. (If it hasn’t already. I don’t follow this band’s live shows). It seems to have spaces for sweet jams to sprout. I dig Garden.

Wow! You could just play me that guitar riff over and over again and I would enjoy it! Garden has a lot of soul in it, which usually isn’t expected from a Grunge band. I love how Garden is quiet at some points and louder at others. It is amazing what Pearl Jam can do.

Deep

Deep is exactly what Porch should have been. The guitar-work is a sinful blend of mean and crazy. Hot damn. Vedder controls his yelling to deliver punctuate lines with pure anger and attitude. Deep is out of control and I love it. It is, without question, the heaviest song on Ten. This song is plain cool.

That intro really hits you hard, and I freaking love it! Deep definitely has that classic metal sound to it that was made famous by bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. I can really imagine Jimmy Page playing Deep, and I love this song because of that comparison! Deep is by far the loudest and heaviest song on the album.

Release

This song is a giant, relieved sigh. The long duration isn’t felt at all. It’s an easy listen despite its heavy nature. What I will call the “Once Reprise” at the second half of the song is a cool instrumental bit that isn’t anything crazy. Pearl Jam says goodbye properly: with confidence.

Release is a slow song, and you can easily tell that it is about fathers. I love how this cry for help serves as a closer to an album that is otherwise heavy. Release shows how amazing Eddie Vedder is as a vocalist, and how legendary Pearl Jam is! Around 5:20 into Release, you can hear the hidden track Master/Slave, which sounds a lot like Jeremy. Clever Pearl Jam!

All in all, Ten can arguably be called the greatest debut album of all time, and is no doubt the best album of 1991. If you have never listened to a grunge band before, this is the place to start. In my opinion, there is not one bad song on this album, so do yourself a favor and pick it up! As always, thank you all for reading, and stay tuned for more reviews!

My Top 3

Black

Garden

Deep

Rob’s Top 3

Alive

Oceans

Deep

Ten took a long time to grow on me, as it is heavier than what I typically listen to. In the end, it did grow on me. Pearl Jam’s debut album is one worth having in your collection. This high-quality, black-charred T-Bone is fantastic, full of energy and confidence. Hats off to Pearl Jam. Debut albums aren’t always this special.

~Juck