For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)
I think I’ve heard of Brian Eno through Coldplay (I know I’ve heard of him somewhere, I just don’t know where), but I haven’t heard any of his stuff. Yet.
If you don’t know, this is ambient music that was composed to accompany the footage from the Apollo missions (hence the name). The project drastically changed after a couple of screenings and some of this music was used in other places, but the original intent of this was to be a soundtrack for the stars.
For the most part, its fine music, but not really something I’d choose to listen to. I mean, I get that not all people want to listen to video game music, but I do. Here the opposite might be true. While I don’t have particular feelings about this one way or another, others might prefer this ambiance.
One song I did not like was Under Stars II. It just felt hollow. It probably makes a great soundtrack for the Apollo footage, but I would skip it if it came up again. I know it’s just small nuances, but while the closer Stars was essentially the same song, it felt fuller, richer and strangely tense – like it belonged in a sci-fi survival horror movie. The first Under Stars was fine. It has some interesting bass stuff, but it was meh for me.
The Secret Place was similar to Stars, but better. And it reminded me of the Inside the Deku Tree from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I know. I’m a geek.
There were songs that were beautiful, like An Ending (Ascent). There was just something about the simplicity of that track that was just calming. And angelic. Silver Morning was perhaps the most normal song on the album. It was still a little weird, but it reminded me of Black Sabbath’s Laguna Sunrise. And that’s a good thing. It might be my favorite thing I heard this week. Deep Blue Day is up there too. It felt like it was sampling the karaoke version of some old country tune, which I’d like to hear, but I’m sure it wasn’t. I’m sure it was original. Weightless continued that feeling, but didn’t do it as well.
I’m not sure how I feel about the … space cow (?) noises in Matta, but this album was more enjoyable than I anticipated. And perhaps my favorite of the week. 3/5
Eagles – Long Road out of Eden (2007)
This is their first studio album since 1979. And the first anything (except for a single song) since 1994. I actually didn’t know they put out anything after Hell Freezes Over. I’ve heard plenty of other classic rock bands put out new stuff when I was in high school and I wasn’t super impressed with it, so I stopped paying attention to what older bands were doing. Especially because the Eagles were not really a band at the time.
When I was working in a treatment center, I did hear one live tune of theirs Joe Walsh wrote about his recovery from alcohol and drug abuse (I didn’t know at the time, but apparently they played it live in 2004/2005)(and apparently he has since released it on one of his solo studio albums). He sounded pretty bad introducing the song, but the song itself was pretty good. Anyway, I’ll get on to the review.
I feel like a majority of this record is a return to their early, country-influenced sound. Not that I think they ever strayed very far away from that. There were things I loved about this record, and things I didn’t care for so much.
I loved the rich harmonies on No More Walks in the Wood. It felt almost Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-esque. And having a simple guitar accompaniment was the right choice. The piano playing on Guilty of the Crime (as well as the more bluesy rock sound) is excellent. I would love to hear them play that live. I’d just sounds like the perfect live song.
The title track was a little long, but with the help of a little blended world music it was musically interesting. And the guitar solo was great. I Dreamed There Was No War was great, but also left me wanting more. I guess the length made up for the title track’s. And if that’s all you’ve got for a song, I’d rather have short than filler. But still, I want more.
I wasn’t so much a fan of What Do I Do with My Heart. Mostly because I thought the lyrics were corny. I Don’t Want to Hear Any More was … ok, but Schmit’s vocals were just annoying to me. Give me Meisner back. Bringing Leadon back to the studio wouldn’t be a bad thing either. I Love to Watch a Woman Dance was kind of a snoozer for me. I guess it was alright (the mandolin was especially good), but at that point of a double album I needed something more upbeat.
I don’t dislike all the softer, slower songs. I thought Waiting in the Weeds was excellent. It felt like they wrote it the morning after a state fair or carnival or something shut down. It felt like they were covering a Fastball song, oddly enough. And I don’t love all the more rock songs. The vocals on Fast Company killed it for me. Frail Grasp on the Big Picture wasn’t really my favorite either. It just felt like they were trying to hard.
I liked the Latin influence on Last Good Time in Town, but I didn’t love the vocals (both the lead and the whispers). It’s Your World brought in a little Mariachi (although it does get a little Jimmy Buffett-y), which was nice. And it felt like a
good-bye adios “we’re done making records” kind of song, which was a little sad.
This wasn’t bad. It may not have been my favorite record of the week, but it was a good Eagles record. It felt new, yet familiar. I would look forward to hearing more new stuff. But since this is 8 years old, I’m not getting my hopes up. 3/5
Owl City – The Midsummer Station (2012)
I know he’s had some big songs on the radio and used in media and stuff, but I’m not sure I’ve heard more than a chorus from him.
Electronic dance rock isn’t really what I’d tend to seek out, but it’s pretty infectious. There were a few times I found foot tapping along. Dreams and Disasters and Speed of Love were some of those. There was some instrument sound in the verses of the former that I especially liked, but I have no idea how to explain it.
But I think the better songs were things like Silhouette and Metropolis that showcased a little more musicality. I also thought it was good placing them back to back to bring us down and then build us back up.
I didn’t particularly like the police references (or siren vocalization) in I’m Coming after You. It was like he was trying to be clever, but I thought it was just really corny. Same with Shooting Star, but not so annoying.
For the most part, it was upbeat but empty music. I don’t know that I’d mind if some of this popped up from time to time, but I wouldn’t seek out most of it. 3/5
Type O Negative – October Rust (1996)
My only exposure to Type O Negative up to this point has been a song they played with Ozzy Osbourne singing. I really liked it. We’ll see how I like a whole album of theirs.
When Chris shared this, he said they were kind of heavy. I guess that’s true, but I think he was more hedging his bets. I don’t know about Spencer, but I know Tim and Scott don’t tend to listen to as hard of stuff as I do. So while this is weightier than a lot of the stuff I’ve shared, it didn’t really phase me. It may not be my bread and butter, but I certainly enjoyed it. Haunted was particularly … different. It was musically interesting, plus a little gloomy. I don’t think it’s something I would have ever thought about doing, but there are some sweet little snippets in there. It wasn’t really bad. But it was kind of long.
I liked the spacey parts of Red Water. The rest of the song was a littler creepier than most of the rest of the album, which is saying something. But those instrumental hooks were great. And I love the opening to My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend. Although once the vocals come in, not so much. It was the one song where I thought the doom and gloom vocals were over done. Be My Druidess also had a sweet opening to an otherwise meh tune.
The Glorious Liberation of the People’s Technocratic Republic of Vinnland by the Combined Forces of the United Territories of Europa was loud, hard, short and good. I’m pretty sure these two sentences are longer than the whole song.
My main complaint about their stuff is that I feel like the vocals are blended in with the guitars; I think the distortion needs to come down a little so the vocals stand out more. But it’s the mid ’90s, and that seemed to happen a lot. Die with Me I think would have been especially good if they would have left themselves somewhere to build. Even if they would have laid off the heavy distortion until the first chorus, it could have been great. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it a lot. The solo was great. As was the ending. The song on the whole could have been better. The song with the most even balance seemed to be Love You to Death. It sounded very ’80s influenced. Maybe an homage to The Cure. I really liked Wolf Moon. It started just okay, but by the end I think it was the best minute or so on the album. My favorite song all around was Burnt Flowers Fallen – even though the goats or whatever at the beginning were a little weird.
Also, Bad Ground was just a waste. At first I thought there was something wrong with my headphones, and I was going to look up another version of the song. But then I realized it wasn’t a song title so much as a description of how they made the sound. A similar, but more forgivable thing happened when I first stuck the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack in my car. It starts with a chain gain smashing rocks with hammers. But if you don’t know that, you think your car is breaking as you drive down the freeway at 75 miles an hour. Thankfully the lyrics started after a few seconds. But the point remains that Bad Ground is a waste of time and data. Even if it was just supposed to be a joke.
Well, not totally. It did make me think about reworking my rating system and including 0 as the lowest option. But while that might benefit this game, I don’t know that it’s the best option for my iTunes. 3/5
Tiger Army – III: Ghost Tigers Rise (2004)
This week is Halloween, so I’m going with one of two bands I think of when I think of Halloween, although the connection might not be totally obvious unless you pay attention to the lyrics, which mention ghosts and vampires and such.
Artists like these guys took the country swing rock of rockabilly and added in some punk to create the sub-genre of psychobilly (which I think is most evident on Sea of Fire). This album is the transition point between their original black-and-white-horror inspired lyrics and their more traditional rockabilly sound (which you can really hear on The Long Road).
This is their third of four albums. They’re still together, but they haven’t really been super active outside of southern California. Some other highlights for me include Rose of the Devil’s Garden, Through the Darkness, and Calling.
Here’s what my friends thought:
“I’ve listened to some tiger army on youtube right after my mission ’cause a companion reccommended it. I though it was interesting, but didn’t really become a group I came back to. Honestly its been long enough I’ve kind of forgotten what it sounds like.
After a go, its pretty cool to listen too. A lot of the time you don’t even notice that they’re using an upright bass, but sometimes the slap comes through and its cool. I love upright bass. Really though the way its written it just sounds like a bass guitar with a bit different tone. No moaning upright solos or anything.
Listening to Santa Carla Twilight this sounds a bit thin. I think I’d like a second guitar.
Through the Darkness has a real surf-rock vibe to it. I like the slapback echo on the vocals a lot. So far this is my favorite track.
Overall, I could see myself coming back to this. Its a nice sound. I like the vocal style. No particular tracks stood out as being really catchy or cool. There’s not a lot of movement in the music, kinda hard and loud most of the time, but never harsh, and I appreciate that. Its also a little too sparse at times. The surf-like guitar is probably my favorite aspect. So its fun music, not amazing, but a good listen. Frankly I think psycho-billy is a misnomer.” 3.9/5 – Spencer
In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on any of these albums (or your own favorite Halloween-time album) in the comments below.