Thursday, February 28, 2013

Album 365: Day 142 - Queensryche - Empire


Favorite tracks: Best I Can, Empire, Silent Lucidity
Sleeper tracks: Della Brown

One of the best sounding rock albums of the late 80s/early 90s.

I was fairly late to the Queensryche party.  I didn't start getting into them until their Promised Land album.  I knew of them back when Operation Mindcrime was released and I liked some of their songs but during that time, I was snobby and didn't think the drums were cool enough and it wasn't proggy enough.

I later came to appreciate the band and how awesome the songs were.  Empire was a great transition album.  While having a prog theme/concept, they were able to write radio hits and still keep their sound.  And yes, today, Scott Rockenfield is one of my favorite drummers.

Album was produced by Peter Collins.  He produced a couple Rush albums in the 80s.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Album 365: Day 141 - Rush - Clockwork Angels

Clockwork Angels

Favorite tracks: Caravan, Clockwork Angels, Carnies, The Wreckers, Headlong Flight
Sleeper tracks: BU2B

It's really something special when a band makes one of their best records (all around best) during their 38th year of existence.

This was a great album and I haven't enjoyed a release from my favorite band this much since 1993.

The songs are really great.  The production is pretty great.  I didn't like the new mixes of 'Caravan' and 'BU2B'.  I preferred the songs when they were released 2 years prior.  I will say that the drum sound on the record was less than what I was expecting because of the 2 previously released songs.  The toms on the record are not as loud and that's really frustrating.  The guitars and bass are great and Geddy's playing holds up to any bass player in rock.  He's really quite a tremendous bass player.

Lyrically, the band created a pretty decent story.  It's the first album-long story and it works.  What doesn't work is the novel that was written about the story.  That's a complaint for another day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Album 365: Day 140 - King's X - Ogre Tones

King's X
Ogre Tones

Favorite tracks: Alone, Open You Eyes, Goldilox
Sleeper tracks: Be Bop, Get Away

A pretty good album from the band.  Better than their previous release but not  as cool as Dogman or Tape Head.  

I could never understand the boner the band (and a lot of other engineers) had for Michael Wagener.  He was a producer in the 80s that did a lot of popular 'hair metal' albums.  While his sound worked for back then, the quality of production on the King's X albums he worked on wasn't that great.  They did better themselves with Tape Head.  The songs are pretty good but the whole album sounds thin.  I remember being lambasted on an engineering forum for not thinking Michael walked on water.  

'Goldilox' was a reboot.  I never like when bands re-record their old hits and this version of one of my favorite King's X songs never lived up to the original.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Album 365: Day 139 - Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Death Cab For Cutie
Narrow Stairs

Favorite tracks: Bixby Canyon Bridge, Cath
Sleeper tracks: Talking Bird, You Can Do Better Than Me

I heard this album every day for about 2 months.  There was a girl that worked for Oarfin's promotions department.  She played this fucking album every single day at about 12:30 pm.  It got to a point where I found myself picking my favorite songs and hating the bad ones as much as I could.

It's a decent album but I can't wipe the bad memories that coincide with it.  I will say that 'Cath' is my favorite song from the album.  The hook is really catchy and the lyrics are spot on.

I do have an issue with the drummer.  He uses the Purdie shuffle in the song and that should be reserved for better bands.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Album 365: Day 138 - Steve Winwood - Back In the High Life

Steve Winwood
Back In the High Life

Favorite tracks: Higher Love, Back In the High Life Again, The Finer Things
Sleeper tracks: Take It As It Comes

I don't think I owned this album until I started my internship at Oarfin.  I'm pretty sure it was during my 'trying to find great sounding, well produced pop albums' period.  It was good training to hear how great records sounded after learning what to listen for.

This album is a great representation of 80's rock/pop.  The songs are awesome (5 of the 8 songs I've heard on the radio over the years) and the production is top notch for the era.

James Taylor's vocals on "Back In the..." are really tasty.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Album 365: Day 137 - The Who - Who's Last

The Who
Who's Last

Favorite tracks: Dr. Jimmy, Love Reign O'er Me, Long Live Rock
Sleeper tracks: Magic Bus, Twist and Shout

A 'farewell', live record.

I purchased this with Christmas money when I was 12 or 13.  I got enough money to get a new Walkman.  My aunt Lisa and I went to American (electronics store in Appleton) to purchase the item.  She talked me into getting an AIWA player (a step up from what I was going to get) and even gave me the extra money to help with the difference.  I was able to purchase this record as well.  I was a very happy boy.  Add this little story to the list of tales that make Lisa a great influence in my life.

The album is a pretty good recording of one of the band's last shows in 1982.  I'm not a fan of the Kenny Jones era drums but I've listened to this record enough times to appreciate him as a member of the band for this time period.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Album 365: Day 136 - Porcupine Tree - Deadwing

Porcupine Tree

Favorite tracks: Deadwing, Lazarus, Arriving Somewhere but Not Here
Sleeper tracks: Glass Arm Shattering

This is my favorite Porcupine Tree album and besides In Absentia  it's the only Porcupine Tree album I come back to.

I picked this up on release day.  I kept hearing really good things about the record and couldn't wait to listen to it from start to finish.  The production is really good and the songs are a step up from In Absentia.  "Lazarus" is one of my favorite Porcupine Tree songs.  Unfortunately, my fascination with the band started to fade after this record.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Album 365: Day 135 - Wayne Krantz - 2 Drink Minimum

Wayne Krantz
2 Drink Minimum

Favorite tracks: Whippersnapper, Dove Gloria, AFKAP
Sleeper tracks: Isabelle

Found this record reviewed in the back of a Modern Drummer magazine.  For some reason, the description of the album made me go to The Exclusive Company and order it.  I used to special order a lot of CDs from them.  A dollar deposit and a catalog number was all you needed to get something they wouldn't carry.

I was blown away when I put the CD in and heard the first track.  The drummer (Zach Danziger) was unreal. Wayne's guitar work was unreal.  It was a really good find and I couldn't be more happy that I was able to learn about this record almost 20 years ago.

The album was recorded with a couple microphones and a DAT recorder.  It must have been a really small club because you can hear the people at the tables talking in spots.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Album 365: Day 134 - Primus - Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Favorite tracks: Sgt. Baker, Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, Tommy the Cat
Sleeper tracks: American Life, Is It Luck?

The first Primus album I heard.  It was a really fun album and once I heard how cool the rhythm section was and how much they were influenced by Rush, I held them as one of my favorite bands of the 90s.

Sonically, the album is miles behind Pork Soda.  The sound is pretty thin.  "Tommy the Cat" was one of my favorite songs and I was glad I always got goofy looks when I played it in the high school commons during noon hour.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Album 365: Day 133 - Pink Floyd - Animals

Pink Floyd

Favorite tracks: Dogs, Pigs (3 Different Ones)
Sleeper tracks:

This is my favorite Pink Floyd album, hands down.

I don't remember when I got my own copy of this record.  I think it was probably around senior year of high school.  My aunt Lisa was a Floyd fan and I may have heard this when I was spending time with her when I was young.  

Sidenote:  Try to listen to Les Claypool's Frog Brigade performing this album live.  It's a really good performance of this album.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Album 365: Day 132 - Weather Report - Heavy Weather

Weather Report
Heavy Weather

Favorite tracks: Birdland, Teen Town, Palladium, Havona
Sleeper tracks: A Remark You Made

This album is a staple in any jazz fan's collection.  I had about a decade of gorging on 70s fusion and of course, Jaco Pastorius is one of my favorite bass players.  Black Market was my first Weather Report album but Jaco was only on a few tracks of that record.

I really enjoyed listening this to album after being away from it for several years.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Album 365: Day 131 - Stone Temple Pilots - Shangri-La Dee Da

Stone Temple Pilots
Shangri-La Dee Da

Favorite tracks: Days of the Week, Wonderful, Regeneration
Sleeper tracks: Hello It's Late, A Song For Sleeping

I eagerly went to the Musicland in downtown Minneapolis to get this the day of release.  I was really stoked about the record.  "Days of the Week" is one of my favorite STP songs.  Hell, I can remember exact blocks I was walking down when I heard some of the songs for the first time (2500 block of Blaisdell for "Coma" to be precise).

I tried to like this as much as the other STP releases but it grew to be one of my least favorite records by them.  There are some good songs but for the most part, the songs are a bit forgettable.  I'll always like the band for being part of the good (and bad) memories of my 20s.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Album 365: Day 130 AC/DC - Highway To Hell

Highway To Hell

Favorite tracks: Girls Got Rhythm, Walk All Over You, Shot Down In Flames, If You Want Blood (You Got It)
Sleeper tracks: Highway To Hell, Beatin Around the Bush

This was an 8-track favorite of mine when I was a kid.  I played the hell out of this album.  It's probably the best album the band recorded and should be considered one of the best rock records of all time.

I would play this record at my aunts' parties and I could watch everybody start getting into the music.  Also, "Night Prowler" was a song I couldn't listen to alone.  I would get scared because my uncle Bill would tease me by saying this "Night Prowler" was walking around outside.  Funny that the song is actually about a guy sneaking into his girlfriends house.

I still get excited when I hear the intros to some of the tracks.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Album 365: Day 129 - Rush - Grace Under Pressure

Grace Under Pressure

Favorite tracks: Distant Early Warning, Afterimage, The Enemy Within
Sleeper tracks: Red Sector A, Between the Wheels

This album was the start of the 80's era Rush.  That is the era that most music fans tend to ignore when it comes to their appreciation of the band.

I was late to the party on this record.  It didn't appeal to me when I first heard it.  I liked "Distant Early Warning" and absolutely hated "Red Sector A".  Throughout middle school and hight school, I would have voted this the worst Rush album.  Now, I think the record is pretty great.  Neil's lyric writing started to be more concise and thoughtful...less proggy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Album 365: Day 128 - The Jelly Jam - The Jelly Jam 2

The Jelly Jam
The Jelly Jam 2

Favorite tracks: Not Today, Empty, War Is...
Sleeper tracks: Drop the Gun, Maybe

A prog supergroup...

Ty Tabor:  Guitars and vocals (King's X)
John Myung: Bass (Dream Theater
Rod Morgenstein: Drums (The Dixie Dregs)

I wasn't too impressed with the first Jelly Jam album.  Considering the roster, I thought the music would be a little cooler.  This 2nd album was considerably better but it seemed more like a Ty Tabor solo album.  I'm all into Ty's guitar playing and his role in King's X but his vocals aren't too pleasing.  He's real nasal-sounding.

Rod Morgenstein is one of my favorite drummers.  His performance on this record is pretty awesome.  John Myung? Well, he's John Myung.

Album 365: Day 127 - Mastodon - The Hunter

The Hunter

Favorite tracks:  Black Tongue, Blasteroid, Octopus Has No Friends
Sleeper tracks: Stargasm, Creature Lives


Thanks internet, for allowing me to search for these guys.  I knew about them but didn't really dig em until they were featured on VH1's "Metal Evolution".  That was around the release of this record and I'm very glad the stars aligned.

The album is really good.  Hell, the band's discography is really good.  There is a whole bunch of prog references and themes in the music....notably, the cover of this record resembles themes of E.L.P.'s 'Tarkus' releasen (but fits in with a larger theme the band has created with their studio catalog.  Search for a Mastodon The Hunter cover art video) :

Black Tongue promo video

Drummer Brann Dailor is an incredible musician and singer.  His fills were something I gravitated towards.  He's busy as hell but serves the song better than most rock drummers of the day.  Also, his singing chops are great.

I had the chance to catch these guys live last summer.  I will say they are a better studio band but it was cool to see prog chops presented on stage.  I'm glad I was able to see the show.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Album 365: Day 126 - Blood, Sweat and Tears - Nuclear Blues

Blood, Sweat and Tears
Nuclear Blues

Favorite tracks: Agitato, Nuclear Blues, Spanish Wine Suite
Sleeper tracks: I'll Drown In My Own Tears

Brilliant album.

B, S and T was a radio staple in my life.  Their hits were pretty damn cool.  What took me over the edge was meeting Chris Huston, the engineer who recorded this album (along with such hits as Led Zeppelin II...various songs).

Chris was an original studio designer for Oarfin (Metro) studios.  He was flown in to discuss a possible studio move and design.  It never happened but the stories he told for the few days he was in town were incredible.  His band had the Beatles open for them back in the day.  Undertaker was their name or something equally as sinister.  Enough said.

'Nuclear Blues', while 'dated' for 1980, was a great jazz/pop record.  Great musicianship and the recording was pretty awesome.  The space was dead and Chris did a great job capturing the band as a whole.  I would reference this as a marker for being prepared and capturing the 'first take' of any recording session.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Album 365: Day 125 - The Cars - Candy-O

The Cars

Favorite tracks: Let's Go, It's All I Can Do, Candy-O
Sleeper tracks: Since I Held You, Lust For Kicks

A pretty decent sophomore album.  There were bright spots on the record but there were also some songs that were a bit too pop for me.  Ben Orr is a great singer and it's no surprise that the favorite songs are the ones he sang.  This felt more like a Ric Ocasek album than the debut.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Album 365: Day 124 - Coheed and Cambria - Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

Coheed and Cambria
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

Favorite tracks: The Willing Well (Parts I-IV)
Sleeper tracks: Welcome Home, Mother May I

I could add all the tracks to the list of my favorites but that wouldn't be in the spirit of the post.  By the way, the worst album title of all time!

I found out about this band through the internet.  A lot of prog fans were always talking about this band but when I would see them on MTV, a whole bunch of kids 10 years younger than me were digging them.  The music videos I saw weren't that great but I did like the singers voice.

I bought this record based on a review, saying it was their best album and one of the best prog albums of 2005.  I was blown away when I heard it.  I think it was one of the last records that I would listen to 4, 5...6 times in a row.  I loved the production of the album.  I didn't quite care for the lyrics (as this was the 3rd album in a group of 7 that told a big-ass comic book story.  I didn't have the patience to dive in lyrically).

I've mellowed in my fandom over the last 5 years but I still can't wait to listen to all the records in story order.  The reoccurring themes in the music are fun to hear.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Album 365: Day 123 - The Black Crowes - Amorica

The Black Crowes

Favorite tracks: A Conspiracy, High Head Blues, P .25 London
Sleeper tracks: Nonfiction, Downtown Money Waster

I remember getting this because it came out on my birthday.

This is my favorite Black Crowes album by far.  I can make an argument that it's the best written Black Crowes album.  The production is pretty awesome although it suffers from moments of being way too compressed during the chorus' (although you can pretty much hear everything during those times).

A great record of american rock.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Album 365: Day 122 - Styx - Cornerstone


Favorite tracks: Lights, Why Me, Never Say Never
Sleeper tracks: Boat On the River, First Time

I commandeered several 8-tracks that my parents had when I was young.  This was one of the 3 that I listened to a whole bunch.  I really, really loved this record back then.  I can remember singing along to it with my aunt Cheryl when I lived in the welfare apartments on the north side of Kaukauna.

It's one of Styx's most successful albums but I know a lot of Styx fans don't like how pop sounding it is.  Aside from "Babe", I think the songs were totally Styx sounding.  They toned this record down based on bad reviews they were getting for being too 'artsy'.  A true master of songwriting is to be able to change your style and still be successful.

"Never Say Never" is one of my top 5 Styx songs.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Album 365: Day 121 - Cry of Love - Brother

Cry of Love

Favorite tracks: Highway Jones, Too Cold In the Winter, Peace Pipe
Sleeper tracks: Pretty As You Please, Gotta Love Me

Rock radio played 2 songs from this album.  They were pretty popular because they sounded like the Black Crowes but a little sleazier.  I remember back in 1998 I tried out for a band that loved this album.  We worked on "Too Cold..." and "Peace Pipe".  It would have worked if I didn't have to drive 20 miles each way for practice, 2 nights a week.

The album is a really good blues-rock record.  The production is great and most of the songs had my foot tapping.  I never really gave the album its due except for the 'hits'.  I will listen to this again.

Sidebar: The drummer from this band (and the bass player for a short time) were members of the Chris Duarte group.  I was able to see the drummer play with him at Ryan's Ballroom in Combined Locks.  He was great to talk to.  I think I saw the bass player with Chris at a show in Minneapolis but again, my memory is not what I'd like it to be.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Album 365: Day 120 - Dave Matthews Band - Under the Table and Dreaming

Dave Matthews Band
Under the Table and Dreaming

Favorite tracks: The Best of What's Around, Typical Situation, Jimi Thing, Warehouse
Sleeper tracks: What Would You Say, Rhyme and Reason

I will have to admit that when radio started playing "What Would You Say", I didn't want anything to do with this band.  I thought it was the next fad.  I think it was a performance of "Ants Marching" that I saw on TV that quickly turned my opinion around and made me a real fan for the next 8 years.

The album sounds great.  I think Steve Lillywhite was and is the greatest thing to happen to Dave Matthews. The production on the albums he worked on is spectacular and the production of albums he didn't work on is just ok.  I quickly became a fan of Carter Beauford's drumming.  It was something that wasn't in mainstream music and it was funky as hell (even though he stole every lick he had from Billy Cobham and Dennis Chambers).

This is one of the records that I THOUGHT I heard in high school but couldn't have because of the release date.  Seriously, I thought my friend Eric (fellow drummer in band) had this album senior year.  Given the release date of September, 1994, that couldn't have been possible.  Old age memory loss I suppose. 

Album 365: Day 119 - Queen - News of the World

News of the World

Favorite tracks: We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, Get Down Make Love, It's Late
Sleeper tracks: My Melancholy Blues

I didn't get into this album until I moved to Minneapolis.  My friend Mike was a huge Queen fan but I honestly don't think we listened to this record during our summer night music parties.  My friend and boss Todd had this CD back when we were at Oarfin Records.  That was the first time I listened to the album all the way through.

It's not as good as the Roy Thomas Baker albums.  "Get Down Make Love" is my favorite song from the album (sorry everybody who thinks "We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions" is something special).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Album 365: Day 118 - Genesis - Genesis


Favorite tracks: Mama, Home By the Sea, Just a Job to Do
Sleeper tracks: Illegal Alien

Here's another one I can't remember hearing for the first time.  I think it was probably after I moved out to Minneapolis.

What's strange about this record is all the songs sound pretty cohesive until you get to "Just a Job to Do".  That smacks you in the face with awesome drums, a killer groove and super cool chorus.  Then it's back to your regular sounding, 80s style Genesis.

Overall, I do like the album.  I like all the Genesis stuff from the 80s.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Album 365: Day 117 - Blind Faith - Blind Faith

Blind Faith
Blind Faith

Favorite tracks:  Had to Cry Today, Can't Find My Way Home
Sleeper tracks: Do What You Like

Yeah, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton 2 days in a row.  If it wasn't for Winwood, I probably wouldn't have listened to the record at all.

My aunt Lisa had this record.  I wasn't really a big fan of the band and it's not like you never heard the hits of the album being played by Clapton over the years.  As I got older, I got into the album a bit more.  I went through my Cream phase and my Winwood phase like most people (right?).  I like Traffic and Cream more than this band.

Tipper Gore probably hates this album cover.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Album 365: Day 116 - Cream - Disraeli Gears

Disraeli Gears

Favorite tracks: Sunshine of Your Love, Tales of Brave Ulysses, SWLABR
Sleeper tracks: Strange Brew, Mother's Lament

I can honestly say that I can't remember the first time I heard this album.  My parents didn't have it.  My aunts and uncles didn't have it.  Of course I heard the singles for years on rock radio.  I'd have to say that I was in my late 20s before I actually bought the record and heard it all the way through.  SWLABR is my second favorite Cream song.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Album 365: Day 115 - Heart - Little Queen

Little Queen

Favorite tracks: Barracuda, Love Alive, Kick It Out
Sleeper tracks: Sylvan Song, Dream of the Archer

I first heard this one listening to my aunt Sue's album.  I loved "Barracuda" and it's certainly in the top 5 Heart songs (along with "Love Alive").  They really flaunted their admiration for Zeppelin with this record.