Some of my friends and I share music with one another while we work. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
I’m surprised it took this long. My friends have started sharing Christmas music. I can only think of one Christmas album I want to share, so I’m holding that until next week. Also, as my wife loves to point out, I’m a bit of a curmudgeon. Instead, I shared just another pretty good album. Before I get to that, here’s what my friends shared:
Charlie Hunter & Bobby Previte – We Two Kings (2015)
Spencer shared a (relatively) new Christmas album of “the Great Carols” by two (or three) guys I haven’t heard of, but feel like I should have. I was surprised at the surf rock, but I mostly really like it.
These were some interesting covers. Some good. Some I’ll just leave at interesting – mostly because of the choice of voice in the keys.
I really loved their treatment of We Three Kings. It was kind of retro-futuristic and horror. Oh, and Christmas. I never would have thought about putting those together, but it works. It makes me want to listen to a whole album of raygun gothic horror music.
And I think I was most disappointed in The First Noel. The jungle groove was cool, but I think they underused it. I also think they underused the cowboy feel in Jingle Bells, but I wasn’t as disappointed. 3.5/5
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium (2006)
I have mixed feelings about RHCP in general. I feel like they either write home runs or strikeouts. Maybe strikeouts is too harsh. Maybe they’re more like a walk. There’s no doubt they’re talented, there are just some songs where they get a little carried away with themselves. Charlie, for example, has a great chorus, but the rest of the song is overly complicated; everyone seems to be doing their own thing. Primus has a similar problem sometimes and Torture Me reminded me of a third band I’m putting on my list of things to share, which makes me wonder if there are other ’90s alt. funk rock bands made up of white dudes worth checking out.
Internal cohesion is different than album-wide cohesion. I know we’ve talked in the past about the idea of an album starting as just greatest hits and moving to concept albums. I’ve listened to a lot of interviews with musicians, and some write songs and hold onto them until they find a good place to release it. Others go into a studio session with nothing and just jam until they come up with enough ideas to fill an album (which is what RHCP did here), and while it’s not as unified as going into the studio with a singular vision of how you want the songs to end up, all of these tracks do stay true to RHCP’s brand/feel and only rarely feel like they’re ripping off their own stuff.
And there are so many songs. It isn’t a bad thing, but does make the task of reviewing the album a bit more daunting. The two CDs have different names, but that doesn’t come across on Spotify. Some artists would have had a reason why they named the CDs different. As far as I can tell, RHCP don’t. I’m guessing it’s more an art/packaging/marketing decision rather than a musical one.
This doesn’t really factor into my review of this album, but I have to say that while I don’t really have any opinion on Dave Navarro’s guitar playing, the band as a whole got better looking once he left (which is saying something).
The first two tracks are unforgettable singles (musical this time, not baseball), but I haven’t listened to this album in maybe five or so years so I forgot how much I like the title track and C’mon Girl. Other goodies were Slow Cheetah, Torture Me, Hard to Concentrate, If, Make You Feel Better (which reminds me of my brother’s wife) and Turn it Again (which had a sweet groove).
The weakest songs on the album for me are Warlocks, Tell Me Baby and Storm in a Teacup. And while I liked it, I feel like So Much I had the most unrealized potential.
To make a 28-track album even longer, I found the nine other songs written/recorded during these sessions which were released as b-sides. I think I liked a lot of the bonus tracks more. They seemed to have more variety. Whatever We Want To was kind of psychedelic butt rock and I didn’t really expect it. I could almost imagine Black Sabbath doing it. Lately also reminded me of some other vintage band, but I can’t put my finger on who. Mercy Mercy felt cleaner than other RHCP stuff; more like classic funk. I’ll be Your Domino is like a mix between Styx and Michael Jackson.
My favorite of the bonus tracks is A Certain Someone. My least favorite is Funny Face, not because it was bad, but because it’s only ok reggae. There are others which aren’t better, but they also weren’t as disappointing. Joe was perfectly good reggae, making Funny Face look just mediocre.
It makes me wonder why some songs end up on a double album and others are only b-sides of singles – and why those songs were b-sides to those singles. I’m sure every band/artist is different and even every album/studio session is different. In this age of digital music, when most songs are consumed individually (as opposed to an album at a time), decisions like that intrigue me.
Spotify also has a half-hour long commentary from RHCPs, and while I usually love to listen to those, I didn’t get there this time.
Aside from the aforementioned occasional lack of internal cohesion, my only other general complaint is the vocals. I can’t imagine RHCP without Anthony Kiedis at the mic, but I don’t always love his voice; I don’t know that I’d love him singing with a different band with a different style. 3.4/5
From my friends:
“I always think I’ll love the chilli’s but never have quite gotten into them. One that on paper sounds great but the sound isn’t what you imagine. That said though, I WAS in the mood for this one this week and really enjoyed it. While the first two tracks are the hits and aren’t bad, they seem pretty average on the album. The gold here is that there is quite a variety of sounds but a really nice continuity in feel and tone. I really liked several of the tracks, but can’t right now go back and figure out which they were.” 4.2/5 – Spencer
Seabird – ‘Til We See the Shore (2008)
Here’s an indie alt. rock band my wife found, which we both really like. My favorite tunes are Not Alone and Let Me Go On. Stonger, Cottonmouth (Jargon), Maggie Mahoney and the title track are pretty good too. Actually, I don’t think there are any bad tracks.
I’m not sure there’s anything mind-blowing about these guys, and I don’t love his voice; it seems kinda ’90s. They’ve just got some catchy tunes and good energy. They’ve got strong keys without being piano driven like Elton John, Billy Joel or Ben Folds. It’s more like how Coldplay or The Beatles (in their later years) use their keys. And it doesn’t feel far from some stuff I’ve written.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“I did listen to this a couple times and enjoyed it, but I wasn’t so much in the indy mood. Probably at another time I’d like it more. I’ll keep it in mind next time I have a hankering for such. Cottonmouth stuck out to me. That guitar solo with the arpeggiating piano is very cool.” 3.9/5 – Spencer
Share your own thoughts about any of these albums in the comments section down below.