Friday, April 27, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 54: Catherine Wheel - Chrome

Album - Chrome
Artist - Catherine Wheel
Key Players - Brian Futter -Guitar/Backing Vocals, Dave Hawes -Bass, Neil Sims - Percussion, Rob Dickinson - Lead Vocals, guitar
Produced By - Gil Norton

Release Date - July 23, 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- Catherine Wheel is one of those bands that I had/have been a fan of since I first heard them. Even with the last few albums being somewhat "uninteresting" they still capture a perfect moment in time and released some great records and singles. For the first few records they released this particular one is one that I'd grab "least often" honestly. It is a little more fun to look at a record now and then that you may have not grabbed "first" even when you were a big fan.

Overview - This is the second record from Catherine Wheel. The band was categorized as a 'shoegazer' band in the early years but this harder record would bring them more radio play as well as larger audiences and record sales. Catherine Wheel would become one of the bigger names in "alternative rock" in the early 1990s. Dickinson would really develop as a singer around this time as well. Over time audiences tastes changed some but the band always remained true to its sound and vision.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- "Kill Rhythm" opens with guitar and Rob signing right out of the gate. The band then erupts around the vocals. The bass and ride cymbals stick out as the band chugs along. The bass fill cascades over the top as the band folds back in to a groove. Towards the end it lulls the listener only to explode once more. "I Confess" is a driving track. The production value on this track alone is worth a listen. Once again you can hear each instrument both the subtleties they bring as well as their driving force. "Crank" was the lead off single from the album. One of the three tracks on the album that also produced a video. A single crunchy guitar fades up and Dickinson begins the verse with the vocals in a high vocal range. The background vocals have a little bit of a call and response to them. The guitar work of Futter holds down the bottom during the verse. After the second chorus the band really has hit its stride. We are only three tracks in and the band is a very cohesive unit. A bombastic guitar intro brings "Broken Head" up. Before long you are actually singing the bass line to the track. (listen during the chorus and try not to). The mid section of the track is a wall of sound that has the listener actually leaning towards "turning it up" no matter how loud it is. "Pain" if the 'shoegazer' tag could be used in part on this record look no further than the intro to this song. Swirling guitar over a very heavy band before dropping back some for the verse. The drums rap, the bass chugs and the guitar flitters over the top before the band steps on overdrive and it all swells back up. The formula is repeated yet remains interesting to the listener. The final few minutes of this track are a sheer auditory climax. The track hardly fades before "Strange Fruit" is right up in your ears. The drum line is not overly complicated from a technical standpoint but it adds a lot to the feel of the track. Catherine Wheel can write some fast songs, and this is right up there, but its a comfortable fast. It does not feel out of place at all. "Chrome" the title track (no duh) opens with a crunchy solo guitar and the band comes in shortly after. The track is uptempo and won't let the listener shake off easily. "The Nude" is considerably slower than the last two tracks but the song still has a very heavy rock overtone. The vocals are still pushed and Rob soars on a few lines. "Ursa Major Space Station" follows with some light effects on the drum intro as the guitars fade up. The swirling guitars hearken to the shoegazer phase but the band is rocking a little too heavy to be pigeonholed to that genre. The guitar and bass work "shred" towards the end of this track. "Fripp" follows with a very subdued intro. Simple guitar line and some ride cymbal with a light bass line under it all. The track shares the same (last) name of Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame. A terrific track that just builds and builds yet I can't escape the idea that I want to sing "Hey Hey My My" (Neil Young) during certain points. "Half Life" is a little more uptempo than the previous track with some tight guitar lines and a more 'bounce' to the beat feel. "Show Me Mary" wraps up the album on a high note. This was another single from the album and perhaps a little more well known. The band produced a video for this track as well. The lyrics are shot out as quickly as the band plays. A slight tribute to the Ramones for the chord progression but still one of the best songs the band ever recorded.

Where are they now? - When the band released their last studio album Wishville it was met with lackluster support from the industry. Also audience tastes were shifting. As a result the band is listed as being on "hiatus" since 2000 but the members have been busy. Neil Sims and Brian Futter have a project called 50 Ft Monster. When one tries to click over to they are brought directly to Rob Rob continues to write and perform solo. Dave Hawes was released from his bass duties during the recording of "Wishville". Dave wrote a note to fans about this subject that you can read here.
Also while doing research for this I stumbled upon a page that Dave was running. I had emailed him to "confirm" this to be true. He was very polite in his response. Please check out his page here to see what he is up to...and buy something! (thanks again for the nice response Dave)

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The band were no strangers to the road. They would play headlining shows, festival shows as well as opening slots. Somehow I only managed to see them two times live. The first was September 1, 1995 at Club Babyhead in Providence. It was a packed sweatbox of a show but one of the most memorable shows I ever went to. The second and final time was part of a "Holiday Concert" named for a Boston Radio station. The WBCN Holiday Rave at Avalon on December 2, 1997. Catherine Wheel was on the bill with Everclear and Ben Folds Five.

FDF Overall Take
- Honestly if you came to me asking which Catherine Wheel cd to check out first I'd be the first to make the suggestion of Ferment or Happy Days..that is until I went back and gave this the good old FDF treatment. Sure Ferment and Happy Days contain some of the more important (to me) Catherine Wheel tracks this cd stands up easily with those mentioned. In reading some reviews the band went from "shoegazer to metal" between Ferment and Chrome. This is a far, FAR cry from a metal album. It is a little more punchy perhaps but no less focused. Grab this if you don't have it..or spin your copy and fall in love all over again.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***MP3's have been removed 6/1/07 12:20pm ET

I Confess
Strange Fruit
Show Me Mary

Like it..grab it
here or even
here (hey we do the leg work for you!)

Extra special live show download.

Catherine Wheel
Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland Ohio
December 13,1993

This show has been removed...

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, April 20, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 53: Steve Burns - Songs for Dustmites

Album - Songs for Dustmites
Artist - Steve Burns
Key Players - Steve Burns (virtually everything) with the help of Steven Drozd
(The Flaming Lips) on 6 of the 12 tracks.
Produced By - David Fridmann

Release Date - August 12, 2003

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Read the overview...

Overview - Steve Burns may be more familiar to you if you have younger children. From 1996 until 2002 Steve was the "human" on the children's' program "Blue's Clues"

Recently my four year old has discovered his sisters older Blues' Clues VHS tapes. Watching these episodes in passing along with him reminded me of the huge amount of time spent with this cd when it first came out and it had been a bit since it got a good listen.

Steve also was the subject of a tragic death rumor while hosting the children's program that was proved to be false.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)

"Mighty Little Man" opens the record with some quick guitar then fades up quickly with some heavy synthizier. The "band" all comes in for a few bars but fades down for the whispered delivery of the lyrics. After a partial verse the whole thing kicks back in with heavy drums and the "moogy" syntysiser. The chorus is beyond infectious with the music swelling around the vocals. By the second verse your feet should be tapping and if you never figured Steve had this in him, you are smiling ear to ear. A call and response of "I am a Mightly Little Man" repeats and ends on a dime. This is a perfect lead off track and sets the tone for whats to come. "What I Do On Saturday" has a very strong Flaming Lips feel. The bass is punchy with acoustic guitars driving the top. Steve delivers the vocals more in a spoken form than "sung" until the chorus. "Maintain" opens with acoustic guitar and a simple drum line for the first portion of the verse, it then opens up with a nice heavy keyboard based run with punctuated rat a tat drum beats. ">1" is the shortest track on the record just under 3 minutes long. The track is a solo electric guitar and Steve singing in hushed tones. The track follows the same pattern and ends with some plucking of the acoustic guitar. "Troposphere" opens with a reverse loop on some keyboards and then falls in to places with a wah wah keyboard line. It's a quiet, yet somehow, "bouncy" and just a few minutes the band opens up with an almost orchestral effect. Steve delivers some lines through a megaphone as Steve bemoans "Lately I have not been myself". The song uses the same formula throughout but overall this is one of the stronger tracks on the album. "Stick Around" is another track that opens with a solo acoustic guitar and hushed vocals. Cellos fill out the track even further with some chimes and horns. Its seems a little out of place on the record with its haunting feel but it shows the diversity of Steve as musician and artist. "A Reason" is a track that you'd almost hear an artist due at an open mic night in a local pub. Acoustic with some slight conga style drums holding the beat down. "Music For Montgomery County, PA" is the shortest track on the record at just over a minute long. Heavily keyboard based its a lyric free track that really doesn't do a whole lot to improve the record. A musical interlude for sure leading up to the title track. "A Song For Dustmites" which has a heavy solo piano opening and holds to that formula for its duration. "Superstrings" opens with some clanging guitar, then compressed guitar, then phased drums. "A Sniveling Mess" is a terrific song (as you'll hear). An urgent intro, slowed way down for the verse only to swell up and be brought to a more rocking chorus. The vocals have a cool phase/delay on them adding to the punch of the track. It fades up and down for verse/chorus yet it keeps its fun beat. There are some cymbal "sploshes" some upright bass plucking. Steve asks "will you love me if I'm a mess?" and the bass and drums hold down the band. The chorus has some nifty vocal effects and the band just lights up coming out of the second chorus. "Henry Krinkle's Lament" ends the record on somewhat of a down note, but its still a pretty song delivered with piano and hushed vocals. The track slowly builds and there are hints of a jazz feel, spiced up with some flute runs that build along with the vocal delivery. It fades down and the album stops. Your once "dropped jaw" may now be closed.

Where are they now? - Steve is currently working on a new solo album that should be out in 2007.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Steve has toured sporadically since the release of this record. His Boston show was on the radar to attend but the area was hit by a pretty good snowfall and I never made it.

FDF Overall Take - The most fun with this record (or songs) is to play a track and then say "Do you know who this is?" and then watch the reaction when you tell them "It's Steve from Blues Clues!" Well, its more fun if the person you are telling has an idea of what Blues Clues is..but still.

You can check out his official page here

His myspace page is here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3's removed may 14th

Mighty Little Man
What I Do On Saturday
A Sniveling Mess

Check out the cd for sale here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, April 06, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 52: Snow Patrol - when it's all over we still have to clear up

Album - When It's all Over we Still have to Clear Up
Artist - Snow Patrol
Key Players - Gary Lightbody - Vocals and Guitar, Mark McClelland - bass, Nathan Connolly - Guitar and Backing Vocals.
Tom Simpson - Samples and Keys, Jonny Quinn - Drums

Produced By - various

Release Date - March 5, 2001 in the U.K. Subsequent reissue in America in 2006.

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Call it a a guilty pleasure (now) to like Snow Patrol. The last two records have catapulted the band to a whole new level but its early gems like this that have you realize it was happening a few years before the breakthrough.

Overview -
Hailing from Scotland and having a core group of members from Ireland as well this was the the bands second album. The album was released in 2001 with little fanfare and the band was actually dropped by their label Jeepster. The band signed with another label and released a breakout record "Final Straw". The success of that album found the two earliest Snow Patrol albums getting re-issues stateside.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The tracks reviewed here are from the 2001 UK release and not the US re-issue which contained additional tracks.

"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" starts off with a single buzzing guitar and Gary Lightbodys compressed, yet clear vocal delivery. There is a keyboard making a unique "bo-woop" sounds through and after the verse the bass comes in and is punchy but fits perfectly into the mix. The only downside to this track, is realizing the band really doesn't have a lot of words in their songs and will repeat certain lines over and over. Listening all over again this is one fault to the record. A musical interlude may have worked better. "Ask Me How I Am" fades up with swirling vocals. Garys voice sounds much like fans are used to and the vocals are quiet but sung beautifully. This is actually the very first song I ever heard from the band and its still one of my favorites. The band has sadly all but ignored this song in a live setting. On top of being one of the better songs, its also one of the shortest on the record. "Making Enemies" is the first track newer fans of the band may recognize as a "Snow Patrol" song. The whole bands comes together on this track with subtle drum taps, to solid bass fills throughout. The vocals have a semi "squished' feel to them but they are clear. Some nice backing vocals are mixed under some "yeah yeah's" delivered by Lightbody. "Black and Blue" the track starts of with some quiet vocals but launches in to the heaviest track to this point. The guitars are brought up and the keyboards hold down a swirling bottom under the band. The band will still perform this track live, usually towards the end of their set. This track repeats a lot of the verse "she rescues me" when instrumental work would do the trick.
"Last Ever Lone Gunman" is one of those tracks that make your realize that Snow Patrol had found a formula and stuck with it on the later records. The music is driving while each instrument gets a clear cut in the mix. "If I'd Found the Right Words to Say" begins as a darker, more melancolly track. Its sandwiched in the middle of the album. This gets the vote for the most "skippable" track on the album. "Batten Down the Hatch" vocal track is virtually "whispered" but the whole band offers harmonies and backing vocal work. Its neither a stand out track or a toss out track. "One Night Is Not Enough" a more full, rocking song from the band. The guitar work is poppy and played cleanly while the bass and drums hold down the fort with chop/chop accuracy. "Chased by... I Don't Know What" opens with distorted vocals and a crunchy guitar riff. The vocal line sung at the start is looped over the verse and the band continues with much the same feel as the prior track.
"On/Off" opens with a simple drum line and acoustic guitar line. The chiming guitars follow suit. By the time "nobodies perfect" is sung the band has found a nice, easy groove. "An Olive Grove Facing the Sea" is the longest track on the album running just over five minutes. Lightbody carries this track on his back. Musically it is subdued and it allows Lightbody to emote a lot of passion on this track. "When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up" begins with a swelling solo guitar. The drums arrive via a ride cymbal roll and the bass guitar fades up. The song continues to swell until it finally pops like a balloon. The band takes you by surprise as you'll have the volume up to hear the lyrics then the band just erupts. "Make Love to Me Forever" begins with a solo plucked guitar and breathy vocals, the words are just repeated over and over. Its a whole lot of nothing and then there is verse but over the top is the same line repeated. The album wraps up with "Firelight". For what seems like the umpteenth time a word is repeated over and over (Firelight) as the song slowly gains momentum.

Where are they now? - Snow Patrol are still active and bigger than ever. Mark McClelland was "excused" from the band during the "Final Straw" tour. Rumors circulate over a "power struggle" as well as song writing credits. McClelland continues to write and perform with a new band "Little Doses" The band is currently on tour and you can view the dates here

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - September 11, 2004 is the only time I saw Snow Patrol live. It was in the early part of the touring for Final Straw and the band played the very small (and now closed) "The Call", in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a sold out show, hot and sweaty and the band was right on top of the audience. It was the first and only time I saw a show at the Call. In the audience that night you could almost sense the band, and audience knew, it was never going to be this intimate again.

FDF Overall Take -
With the help of two strong recent records as well as music being on hit television shows Snow Patrol has entered he mainstream. For better or worse "soccer moms" can be found singing along while running errands. You know what? That's really not horrible when you think of it.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3s have been removed 1:34PM ET April 25th

Never Gonna Fall in Love Again
Ask me How I am
Black and Blue

The three tracks were taken from the album which you can buy here

The bands official page is here
You can visit their myspace page

Bonus live show download

Snow Patrol April 14, 2001
Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

**show has been removed**

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.