Friday, September 15, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 382 - Ben Folds Five: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

Album –  The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Artist -  Ben Folds Five
Key Players – Ben Folds – vocals, piano and keyboards.  Robert Sledge – bass and backing vocals.  Darren Jessee – drums and backing vocals.
Produced By – Caleb Southern

Release Date-
April 27, 1999

Overview – This is the third studio album from Ben Folds Five.  The band, based out of Chapel Hill North Carolina would release four studio albums and take two hiatus sessions.  This was the last album for over 10 years until “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” was released.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”)
–   The 40 minute 11 track album finds Folds on solo piano starting up “Narcolepsy”.  He is a very accomplished player and does a few pretty runs before the band full comes in with a fuzzy bass and gong crash.  There is a string section playing along with all this thundering bass and drum rumble.  By the time Folds sings the first lines we are close to 1:30 in.  The vocals seemingly secondary to the instruments as the bands plays with much fervor whole Folds never seems to break his steady vocal pace, until the song gets even livelier with the vocals and instrumentation.  “Don’t Change Your Plans” follows.  In is interesting that the first two tracks are the longest tracks and the focus is on the full band experience. No one instrument seems to be “the leader” and the group seems ready to explore on this record.  “Mess” has a bouncier feel, but the band hasn’t really varied a lot from the previous two tracks.  “Magic” is a little on the mellow side and I am waiting for things to get rolling by this point. The opening track had a lot of potential, but since then we’ve been sort of “just there”.  Another orchestral tune.  Ready to move it here…but “Hospital Song” is not going to get us there either.  We finally get there (to these ears) when “Army” starts right out of the gate.  This is the Ben Folds Five I find the most fun and interesting.  Fun lyrics with some great stuff from three guys.  A nice full sound with some great bass and drum breaks as well as some great sing alongs (as evident when the band would pair off the audience against one another in a singing battle on future tour dates).  The horn section really fills this out nice.  A tremendous/stand out track.  “Your Redneck Past” is another fun track so we have a great duo here at the mid-point of the record.  The track “Your Most Valuable Possession” is a phone message played over a smooth jazzy back beat.  “Regrets” is back to the earlier portion of the album, until Folds seems like he wants to take it elsewhere, and it has a good clip to it and we get more of a percussive back beat pushing it along.  Sounds more like an electric piano for “Jane” than the standard grand Folds plays.  Jessee and Sledge continue to be solid cast members, on this track and for the entire album.  The album concludes with the aptly titled “Lullabye”.
Where are they Now? -  The group has taken a few years off on two occasions.  They released a live record in 2013.  Sledge keeps busy teaching music and playing gigs in Chapel Hill.  Jessee works a lot as a sideman.  He’s played with Sharon Van Etten’s band and Hiss Golden Messenger.  He also is on the latest War on Drugs LP.  Folds has released a few solo records and continues to tour at his own pace.  Ben appeared in the second season of the Showtime series “Billions” playing himself.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? – Even when this record came out I wasn’t floored and it didn’t do a ton for me on this recent revisit.  At the time the band was in a transition.  They’d done three records, toured heavily etc and this was a departure for them.  Admitting I have not even heard their “latest” record which I sort of want to do now.  The first two records are ones I’d suggest to new fans.

Links, find out more, follow em, buy

Friday, September 08, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 381 - Goatsnake - Flower of Disease

Album – Flower of Disease
Artist - Goatsnake
Key Players – Pete Stahl – vocals, harmonica. Greg Anderson – guitar.  Stuart Dahlquist – bass. Greg Rogers – drums.
Produced By – Nick Raskulinecz

Release Date- October 31, 2000

Overview – This is the second album released from LA based metal band.  They formed in 1996 after the previous band “The Obsessed” disbanded.  They have released 3 albums total and have taken one hiatus since their inception.

FDF Comments (aka “the songs”) – The 8 song 44 minute album opens with the title track “Flower of Disease”.  The intro is all reverse loops of guitar/bass and drums.  It then fires off with its deep swampy riffs.  The track is a slo-burn with the music heavy but no real push vocally from Stahl.  He has sort of a deep growl that fits the track perfectly.  The harmonica solo is an interesting touch that surfaces a few times on the record.  “Prayer for a Dying” continues in much of the same vein.  The heavy churning guitar with Stahl pushing himself a little more with vocal range. We get the rare mouth hard (Chad Essig) at “Easy Greasy” rumbles along.  There is a slight vocal effect giving it a “warble” sound but once the chorus comes around it has a more full effect.  The guitars on this track are so on point with the right blend of chorus and fuzziness.  When Stahl sings “Eassssssssssssaaaaaaaayy” you want to put down your whiskey and sign with him (trust me, you’ve been drinking whiskey).  We get another big harmonica, this time at the intro as “El Coyote” builds.  The band falls in to place behind the harmonica, a little plodding at times it is just so heavy that come the 1 minute mark it then starts to rumble forward.  Folks if you are looking for stoner rock, I give you this.  To me this has all the elements of that genre, and is just a killer track.  From the rumble of the bass, to the fuzzy guitar solo, you get it all.  “The Dealer” is much of the same, but that is a good thing. A little slower, but no less as heavy, than the last few tracks. On top of having one of the coolest song titles “A Truckload of Mamma’s Muffins” has such a massive guitar intro you can’t but move.  It is impossible.  The vocals are a bit more “soaring” too, this is a stand out track. “Live to Die” brings the harmonica back.  Even run through a wah-wah pedal it plays second fiddle as the band just explodes around it.  This is a quick in and out track (for the band at least) just over 3 minutes it the shortest track, proving the band can get it done as they see fit.  Closing out the album is “The River”. A bit more of a slo-burn for them, but you still get what you came for.

Where are they Now?
– The band is slow to release records but they are still active.  The most recent record was “Black Age Blues” which was released in 2015

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? - Yeah. It scratches every single itch you have. Do it.

Links, find out more, follow em, buy
The band is pretty inactive it seems on line (especially social media) but here goes.

Friday, September 01, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 380 - Mastodon - Leviathan

Album – Leviathan
Artist – Mastodon
Key Players – Troy Sanders – bass and vocals. Brent Hinds – Lead guitar and vocals. Bill Kelliher – rhythm guitar. Brann Dailor - drums
Produced By – Mastodon, Matt Bayles

Release Date – August 31, 2004

Overview – This is the second album from Mastodon.  This is a concept album loosely based on Moby Dick.  It did win a few album of the year awards

FDF Comments (aka “The Songs”) – The album is 10 tracks and opens with the powerful “Blood and Thunder”.  The track features Neil Fallon of Clutch as well.  The buzzing and heavy guitars are right along with the growling vocals and “all over the kit” drumming of Dailor.  “I am Ahab” showcases the, already dominant, dual guitar attack while “Seabeast”, although heavy, seems a little more subdued that the first two tracks.  To these ears, the great part is the complexity of this track.  It almost as that “math” feel to it.  Very technical (almost choppy) tempos, but the guitars punch right along with the drums. “Island” might fall in to “what you think heavy metal is”.  The vocals are really growled and the speed of the music is there, yet it all seems to hold together pulling you in to listen for each technical part. “Iron Tusk” has you reaching for your guitar (air or not) to riff along with the guys.  One of the stronger tracks on the album.  “Megalodon” starts off with the softer side of the band, but that does not last long.  The fun, almost country riff, in to the driving tempo has you perk up, and hit the skim back button on your cd player to see just what it was they did.  “Naked Burn” sets up “Aqua Dementia” really well that also features Scott Kelly of Neurosis.  Musically it’s Mastodon, vocally its all Kelly.  A noticeable change. The longest track (13:39) comes in “Hearts Alive”.  The band is in no rush for the first few minutes.  Sort of finding a comfortable spot and looping on a riff then its time to get down to it.  The track is almost exhausting at times, but so interesting.  The tempo changes, the complexity is there, the instrumentation of it all.  Doing lengthier tracks can be hit or miss, but they seem to have got this down pat.  The album ends with the track “Joseph Merrick”.  This is the real name of the individual most commonly known as “The Elephant Man”.  Mastodon closed out their first three records with an instrumental that in some form references him.  The track is a change from what you’d expect.  Organ fills, acoustic guitars and the like.  It’s a great way to exhale after being beaten up for the last 30+ minutes.

Where are they now? – The band is still active both in the studio and on the road.  They released their latest album “Emperor of Sand” in March of 2017

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting off? – Its hard to realty put this in a “forgotten” slot since it is just such a solid record.  The good thing is Mastodon continues to keep releasing interesting (and good/great) records to always keep you interested.  This is a perfect one to start with!

Links, find out more, follow em, buy
Official Site
Mastodon on Facebook
Wiki Page
Buy It!

Friday, August 25, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 379 - The Fucking Champs - IV

Album - IV
Artist - The Fucking Champs

Release Date – ?

Overview – This is actually the bands second release.

FDF Comments (aka “The Songs”) – There are 12 tracks on this 38 minute album and the trio wastes no time going right after you with “What’s a Little Reign?” and “Esprit De Corpse” which attack you from every angle with pummeling guitars and drums.  There are no vocals at all so it is just a wall of sound. “Esprit” has some really clean guitar sound, even though it is heavy.  We get a bit more of a full band (bass and drums) on “Policenauts” yet this song feels a little out of place, almost too much syth.  We make up for it as “NWOBHM 2” has the rumbling drums and crunching guitar.  The drums seem to get more attention here as the ride cymbal gets a work out, just as the full kit did at the start. “Lamplighter” is a mellower track (for the band) than anything else fusing in some bird calls even. “Thor is like Immortal” seems to fail to get going to these ears.  Some big riffs but no real structure seems to evolve and it feels like a warm up, get your fingers moving type track.  The nine string guitar seems to stand out (as it should) though. There is a slow fade in for “C’mon Smash The Quotile” and after about 30 seconds the band is at full volume locked in their groove and it seems to get louder and louder as the lead guitar attack begins.  This is another of the 9 string guitar solos from Smith. “These Glyphs are Dusty” comes right of the prior track and finds to be on the same riff seemingly but with big tom tom rolls from Soete.  The grinding riffs later in the track are awesome, they will fire you right up reaching for your air guitar.  “I Love the Spirit World and I love Your Fathers” is just a 30 second track from Smith which opens to “Vangelis Again”.  “Lost” is a solo effort from Green and the album concludes with “Extra Man” that seems to really break the mold, there are actually vocals for one.  It has a cleaner “rock” sound to it with not as much flashy/speed going on.
Where are they now? - According to their Wiki Page the band is still active, yet it says they have broken up?  Go figure?

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting off? It didn't grab me like it once did.  Need to check it out a bit more often.

Links, find out more, follow em, buy

Official Site (not updated)

Friday, August 18, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 378 - Midnight Oil - Earth and Sun and Moon

Album – Earth and Sun and Moon
Artist – Midnight Oil
Key Players – Bones Hillman – bass and vocals. Jim Moginie – guitar, keyboards and vocals. Martin Rotsey – guitar. Peter Garrett – vocals and harmonica.  Rob Hirst – drums and vocals.
Produced By – Nick Launay and Midnight Oil

Release Date – April 20, 1993

Overview – This is the 8th studio album from Australian band Midnight Oil

FDF Comments (aka “The Songs”) –  The 11 song album runs 54 minutes and Hillman rolls his bass line to start up “Feeding Frenzy”.  Hirst acknowledges and rumbles forth to get it rolling.  The sound is classic “oil” and there is some fun 60’s sounding keyboards put down by Moginie.  The guitars and keyboards shine on “My Country” and Garrett is in strong voice.  After a sort of false start “Renaissance Man” begins and Garrett plays a strong harmonica.  The band then comes in and it starts to rumble forward.  Hillman has a strong bass tone and the band seems to be right with him.  The backing vocals on the track are “fun” with some Beatlesque harmonies.  “Earth and Sun and Moon” follows and the vocals are slightly distorted and the band crafts the song around it and by the end of the first verse Garrett has a clean vocal.  The mandolin is a nice touch. “Truganini” was probably the one single off the single the US market could recall.  It has a very the same feel as some of the more popular Oil tracks so its easy to grab on to.  Starting with a single acoustic guitar and just Garrett “Brushfire” gets underway.  As the full band being Moginie puts down a fun keyboard run while the vocals remain hushed.  “Drums of Heaven” has a good driving beat while “Outbreak of Love” quickly changes the mood/focus.  The band shows some great diversity of sound on the album.  Case in point, the acoustic lead “In the Valley” which opens up to one of Garretts shining moments vocally.  “Tell Me The Truth” has a great full chorus, where all the members seem to chime in.  The album concludes with “Now or Never Land” another track that showcases this is a “band” and not individuals.

Where are they now? – Midnight Oil is back on the road!

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting off? – I am a little more a sucker for the bands earlier work, but there are some decent moments on here.  I think the fact that band is/was back in the USA for the first time in 15 years drew me in.  Hopefully they were pleased with the shows and we might get a new album or US tour!

Links, find out more, follow em, buy
Official Site

Friday, August 11, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 377 - Boris - Pink

Album – Pink
Artist - Boris
Key Players – Takeshi – vocals, bass and guitar.  Wata – guitar and Echo.  Atsuo – drums and percussion
Produced by - Boris

Release Date – November 8, 2005

Overview – This is the 10th album from the Japanese band Boris

FDF Comments (aka “the Songs”) – Clocking in at 55 minutes the 11 track album opens with ‘Farewell”.  After a drone intro the song takes off.  The fact that Takeshi sings in Japanese doesn’t seem to impact the vibe at all.  The sound is massive, it is not a quick song, but a little slow and almost plodding at times track, but it is just “so big” sounding.  “Pink” is an absolute frenzy of a track, with everything hitting and hammering from all sides. “Woman on the Screen” has a great fuzzy bass guitar and the guitar is equally as gritty.  The band can make a lot of noise as evident in “Nothing Special” and “Blackout” but “Electric” really seems to bring it even further.  The tracks are all heavy and noisy, yet somehow clean. This track you’d put on in your car if you were in the mood for a speeding ticket and although it is short it barrels in to “Pseudo-Bread” which won’t leave you feeling left out for long. “Afterburner” is a good tease up to “Six Three Times” which is as rowdy as anything else on the album.  Atsuo hits the drums impossibly hard it seems.  One of the shorter tracks so that is probably a relief to him.  “My Machine” is an instrumental track that is pretty quiet for the band but just makes the album closer “Just Abondoned Myself” all the more pummeling.

Where are they Now? – The band has a new album called “Dear” which came out on July 14th

FDF Overall Take/Was it Worth Dusting Off? – One of the regrets I’ve had in recent months was missing the tour when the band came back through doing this record in full.  It is not something that you can put on all the time and most of your friends would probably what in the heck you are listening to, but the heaviness of this record can really scratch that itch should you find the need.  The band seemingly releases an album a year and they can be up and down (which is okay) but this is one you shouldn’t sit on..get after it.

Links, find out more, follow them, buy

Friday, August 04, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 376 - Aretha Franklin - Spirit in the Dark

Album – Spirit In The Dark
Artist – Aretha Franklin
Key Players – Aretha Franklin – vocals and piano.  There are many backing players and vocalists.  Check out the albums wiki page page for album specific details.
Produced By – Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin

Release Date – August 24, 1970

Overview – This was the nineteenth studio album released by Aretha Franklin.  It would peak at #25 on the US album charts.

FDF Comments (aka “The Songs”) – The album is 11 tracks long and runs just short of 40 minutes long.  “Don’t Play that Song” is the opening track.  In reading the liner notes Franklin was in a new and fresh mood as she had split with her husband (and manager).  She is in fine voice and seems very animated. “The Thrill is Gone (From Yesterdays Kiss)” is the same song that most would associate with B.B.King.  Aretha has just as much emotion vocally and you can almost see the tear glide down her face.  We are a little more uptempo on “Pullin’” and Franklin works a lot more with her support singers and the bass line keeps your toes bouncing and as the track moves it has the gospel/church fury of emotion. “You and Me” is a pretty ballad with some really wonderful harmonies. “Honest I Do” is Franklins take on the Jimmy Reed’s big hit.  Franklin sings both the lead and backing vocals on the track and her as Barry Beckett plays an exceptional piano/electric organ section.  “Spirit in the Dark” was released as a single from the album (peaking at #3 on the R+B charts) is a slow building track but the end is the payoff, “welcome to church” indeed, easily my favorite song on the record.  “When the Battle is Over” is a cover of Delaney and Bonnie (written by Dr.John) and it’s a driving track with Franklin in fine voice (shocker I know). “One Way Ticket” is a soulful tune with a lot of work being done by the backing vocalists.  They don’t carry the song, but they make it a bit more interesting. “Try Matty’s” is a fun song, and anyone of a certain age in the Boston area may remember that Kiss 108 Morning Man Matt Siegal used to play the intro often. “That’s All I Want From You” is another pretty song, that is mid-tempo flanked by a wonderful horn section.  “Oh No Not My Baby” is a cover of Carole King and was a hit for another R&B artist in the 60’s (Maxine Brown).  Franklin sounds wonderful on the track.  “Why I Sing The Blues” is the second B.B.King cover on the album and closes out the record perfectly.

Where are they now? – Aretha Franklin is still appearing for limited shows.  Her last album was her covering some “Diva” classics and was released in 2014.  It was also her 41st album.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting off? – It’s a great record that doesn’t have RESPECT on it, lets start there.  I mean that politely of course.  Her catalog is so expansive it’s a shame that she is only seemingly remember for 2-3 songs.  I could be wrong, but not a lot of my friends run around expounding on her excellence, or even her catalog.  She is an institution and hopefully she gets well enough to tour extensively, she is someone that I’d like to see live.  As far as this record, there were a LOT of support players and I didn’t realize so many tracks were cover tunes, but she made them all her own.

Links, find out more, follow em, buy