Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Wailin' Jennys - Firecracker

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How do I love thee Wailin’ Jennys, let me count the ways. I guess that’s not entirely objective is it? When I reviewed the Jenny’s last album, 40 Days, I started out by saying that there were no other three people that I would rather be locked in a room with listening to them sing. I am infinitely grateful that I can still address that statement as truth. The Wailin’ Jenny’s new album, Firecracker, is another outstanding example of just how beautiful and expressive the human voice can be.

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On Firecracker, Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Annabelle Chvostek continue to use flawless three-part harmonies to paint elegant pictures of sound. The songwriting on Firecracker is also worthy of being called elegant. The thoughtful, wistful lyrics effortlessly mirror the tone of the outstanding vocal performance.

Firecracker is also a bit of a departure from the Jennys previous incarnation in that several of the songs on the album are presented in a “band” setting as opposed to just the acoustic and vocal offerings of 40 Days. Also, songs written by Annabelle Chvostek, the newest member of the Jenny’s, both open and close Firecracker. Annabelle Chvostek’s gifts as a songwriter are a more than welcome addition to the writing talents of Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta. Vocally, Chvostek offers the Jennys a tonally darker voice that is less similar to either Moody or Mehta than they are to each other. This gives Firecracker a new dimension that was not present on 40 Days. (Having purchased 40 Days in a digital format and not having access to the liner notes at the time of writing my review, I was just recently educated to the fact that Cara Luft and not Annabelle Chvostek sang on 40 Days…sorry.)

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All of the songs on Firecracker are multifaceted. My favorite example of this is the song Swallow, another Chvostek penned song. At first listen, the song appears to be a simple, straight-forward folk song. However with each subsequent listening, Swallow begins to emanate a certain longing in the lyrics and in the interaction of voices and instruments that helps to create an almost palatable impression of a place that exists only in between the notes of the song. There are also the moments on Firecracker which demonstrate the magnificent tonality and intricacies which The Wailin’ Jennys are capable of in their performance and their songwriting. I found the round refrain near the end of Starlight to be a perfect example of this.

40 Days producer, David Travers-Smith was again enlisted to produce Firecracker and delivers another beautiful sounding album without any of the trademark signs of over-production. He has again been able to capture The Wailin’ Jennys just being The Wailin’ Jennys without adding anything unnecessary. This time out however, he included a sizeable group of musicians to add subtly different flavors to Firecracker while still maintaining the delicate essence of the Jennys.

How do I love thee Wailin’ Jennys, let me count the ways. Now if I could just get them to come to Connecticut or at least less than a two hour drive away, I’d be a very happy man. Oh...and a live album would be nice until they’re able to get back into the studio.

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You can purchase Firecracker @

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Josh Ritter – The Animal Years

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Josh Ritter – The Animal Years

I seem to have been having a very difficult time putting my feelings about Josh Ritter’s The Animal Years into words. My main problem has been this…how many ways are there to say that someone is a gifted, intelligent and unique song writer?

I’ve been trying for the past few weeks to do The Animal Years justice with words and just feeling as if I were failing at it miserably. I really believe that it is one of those little gems that you could so easily miss if you weren’t paying attention. So…I guess I have to beg your pardon and ask you to try and trust me when I say that The Animal Years is a spectacular album and that it is most deserving of a listen.

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In my efforts to say ANYTHING about this album, I even tried to compare The Animal Years to other artists, which is something that I’m loath to ever do. Even then, all I was able to come up with was this…
Picture a young Springsteen who’s infatuated with the work of Dylan and who effortlessly backs out the Rock aura and eases into more of an Indie atmosphere.
Let me just say, writing about music has let me hear things that I may never have heard otherwise...and this is one of the best of them.

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You can purchase The Animal Years @

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mieka Pauley – Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes

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Mieka Pauley – Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes (EP)
(...and Mieka Pauley's Acoustic EP)

A few weeks back, I wrote up a series of mini-reviews for some of my favorite musical artists I found on Myspace Music. One of the artists I mentioned was Mieka Pauley. If you missed it, here it is:

Mieka Pauley:

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Mieka Pauley offers up four downloadable MP3s on her Myspace page and all of them are, in a word, brilliant. She effortlessly mixes genres like Folk, Rock, Blues, Pop and contemporary R&B. Her voice is soulful and bluesy and her writing is smart and full of feeling. The overall impression of the tracks is powerful, the production is transparent and doesn’t get in the way at all and the orchestration is perfect for the individual tracks. Mieka Pauley’s influences do show through on occasion in these four songs, but again, her delivery is so powerful that they meld into the songs that she brings to life. She actually has two EPs available on iTunes for download. The first is the Mieka Pauley (Acoustic) EP from 2003 and the second is the Out of Car Wrecks & Hurricanes EP released in 2006. The Way It Is, Stronger, First Stone and Run are more than worth the download time. If she doesn’t have a deal already…she should!

Well, I took my own advice for once and went back to iTunes. Both of Mieka Pauley’s EPs, Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes and her self titled Acoustic EP, were priced at only $3.99 each. In the words of Neal Stephenson, I have “Poor Impulse Control” anyway, so that was just too much to resist. I picked up both of the EP’s for less than the cost of a full album on iTunes and I recommend you do the same. Why? Let me explain.

One reason is:
Mieka Pauley’s song Faster may very well be one of the best written songs I’ve ever heard…ever…from anyone. Understand? Let me repeat that if you weren’t paying attention, Mieka Pauley’s song Faster may very well be one of the best written songs I’ve ever heard. Lyrically she manages to weave her words together in such a way that as you listen, you nearly experience them for yourself. The verses loop back on themselves in a fashion similar to that of the “Fate” Mieka Pauley sings of.

The other four songs on Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes are also blessed with more outstanding songwriting. Lyrically and musically, Mieka Pauley’s songs Stronger, The Way It Is, First Stone and Draped In Blue each manage to shine on their own which give the EP an amazing overall presence with five extremely powerful songs all showcasing her signature bluesy, soulful and smooth voice.

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Another reason is:
Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes is a beautifully produced EP by John AlagĂ­a who has worked with John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews and Liz Phair just to name a few. The arrangements and orchestrations are flawless and the instrumental performances given by the supporting musicians are stellar. The only problem with Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes is that it only lasts for five songs.

In contrast, the Mieka Pauley Acoustic EP offers up seven acoustic guitar and vocal tracks, four of which are fleshed out on Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes. The three songs not reworked, Run, Secret and Invincible, are all very good tracks. However, I think the reason I like the Acoustic EP so much is that it gives you, as the listener, the ability to “zoom in” on the full tracks from Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes and get to the very core of what the songs are.

When you listen to Out of Car Wrecks and Hurricanes and then transition into the Acoustic EP, you get to go from a very lush and full aural experience to one that is very sparse but incredibly passionate. So where does that leave the listener? My answer would be, with two albums that could not be more different and yet more closely related.

Putting it in another context...For me, Mieka Pauley's two EPs are almost like looking at a Monet from across a room and then close up. When you see one of Monet’s Waterlillies or his work from his garden at Giverny at a distance you see a complete image full of light and color and depth. As you approach the image, it magically vanishes before your eyes and you’re left with the canvas, the brush strokes and dabs of color that are equally as impressive in their simplicity.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Albums I Missed:
Rage Against The Machine – Live & Rare

Albums I Missed:

Rage Against The Machine – Live & Rare
January 1999

Listening to a Rage Against The Machine album is like hearing someone yell fire in a crowded theater. Rage Against The Machine live is like being in the burning theater itself.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to know where exactly to start a discussion about a band like Rage Against The Machine. As you can see, I’m already having a problem because there are no other bands like Rage Against The Machine…not even them anymore. The hard part about talking about them as a band is that it’s almost impossible to discuss their music without discussing their politics, because for all intents and purposes...politics is their music.

No where is that more evident than on their 1999 release, Live & Rare.

Live & Rare captures Rage Against The Machine at their best musically, but it also captures a snapshot of their politics. Live & Rare includes some of the best Rage tracks from their albums, but it also spotlights an urgent call for awareness about Leonard Peltier, a guest appearance by Chuck D from Public Enemy, an inspired musical rendition of Alan Ginsberg’s 1975 poem Hadda Be Playin’ On A Jukebox and an acidic cover of NWA’s Fuck Tha Police aimed at the Fraternal Order of Police of the city of Philadelphia.

Listening to Live & Rare you realize just how good of a band Rage Against The Machine actually was and what an incredibly unique guitar player Tom Morello is. Hearing him play his signature yet bizarre lines and then switch to a jazzy lead or a heavy rhythm part through the course of the songs on Live & Rare helps to cement his place as one of the most individual voices to ever pick up a guitar. The rhythm section of Tim Commerford on bass and Brad Wilk on drums is amazingly tight in this live setting. Then you have Zack de la Rocha, the voice behind Rage Against The Machine. In the song Freedom, he delivers the line, “Anger is a gift!” A case could be made that Zack de la Rocha’s gift is anger and he shared that gift with all of us through the music of Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine is not always easy to listen to. In fact, I personally find them very challenging. That is part of what made them so influential. Lyrically, their songs are so political that they exist in their own world of protest. They strive to expose the listener to a reality which exists but is rarely spoken about or receives coverage by the conventional media. Rage Against The Machine is challenging because the songs they wrote, at the very least, forced you to confront a world which seems to exist at odds with conventional wisdom and, at best, made you go out and do something about it.

You can purchase Live & Rare @

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way

Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way

Natalie Maines has issues. Normally, outside of Jerry Springer, we don’t get to hear anyone try to deal with their problems, but on Taking The Long Way, we get to hear Natalie work through the consequences of a few misplaced words spoken on March 10, 2003.

Many of the songs on the new Dixie Chicks album openly address the consequences that resulted from Natalie Maines voicing her displeasure with having to share the state of Texas with the second president Bush during a London concert just weeks before the United States entered into its current war with Iraq in March of 2003.

In her own words she said, “Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” Later, in an effort to clarify what was said, she went on to say, “I feel the president is ignoring the opinion of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration, and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view.” With those simple words, Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks found themselves at the center of media frenzy, receiving death threats and on the outs with the country music community as a whole.

After three years, the Dixie Chicks have returned with their fourth studio album, Taking The Long Way.

If you take the album out of context and try to ignore the reason for some of the lyrics, Taking The Long Way is a good album. It’s a really good album. If you add back in the circumstances, it’s even better. Knowing…well not really knowing but having a vague understanding of the environment these songs were written in help make the lyrics and emotions behind them seem just that much more personal and relevant.

There is a definite line drawn between earlier Dixie Chicks albums and Taking The Long Way. There is no Goodbye To Earl here which may disappoint some listeners, but the album doesn’t suffer from its absence. The signature musicianship that helped to make the Dixie Chicks earlier albums the successes they were is still evident on Taking The Long Way. However, it is showcased in songs that appear to have a new found sense of urgency to them and that seem more closely related to singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Carol King than other contemporary country artists one would normally associate with the Dixie Chicks.

In all respects, this is a more mature album by three individuals who were forced into a situation where they had to either grow as individuals and musicians or cease to exist. After hearing Taking The Long Way, I think they made the right choice.

You can purchase Taking The Long Way @

New: On the pod

New: On the pod

The Cure – Bloodflowers
The Cure – Disintegration
The Cure – Paris
The Cure – Show
The Cure – The Cure
The Cure – Wild Mood Swings
The Cure – Wish
My Chemical Romance – Life On The Murder Scene
Snow Patrol – Eyes Open
Richard Cheese – I’d Like A Virgin
Richard Cheese – Lounge Against The Machine
Richard Cheese – Tuxicity
Dio – The Very Beast Of Dio
Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast
Tool – Aenima
Tool – Lateralus
Tool – Undertow
Alice In Chains – Greatest Hits
The Dixie Dregs – King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents…
Joe Satriani – Additional Creations
Jaco Pastorius – The Word Is Out
Jaco Pastorius – Word Of Mouth Revisited
Niacin – Live: Blood, Sweat & Beers
Niacin – Organik
Audiovent – Dirty Sexy Knights In Paris
Hum – Downward Is Heavenward
Hum – You’d Prefer An Astronaut
Bic Runga – Birds
Indigo Girls – Cold Beer & Remote Control
Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls EP
Jewel - Goodbye Alice In Wonderland
Tori Amos – Scarlet’s Hidden Treasures
Richard Marx – Music Hall: Koln, Germany 05/13/92
A Perfect Circle – eMOTIVe
A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms
A Perfect Circle – Thirteenth Step
Lacuna Coil – Karmacode
Pain Of Salvation – Be
Ray Wilson – Change
Ray Wilson – The Next Best Thing
Barenaked Ladies – Everything To Everyone
The Silent Hill Videogame Soundtracks from


Other Stuff from On the pod:

Well…judging from the above list, I guess I have some listening to do. I decided to use up my balance at one of the websites I usually download music from, so that’s the reason for all the new albums. Still, there’s a ton of stuff to listen to.

I’m actually going to be working on reviews for the new Dixie Chicks album as well as The Animal Years by Josh Ritter…which I’m listening to as I write this.

You may have noticed the three Richard Cheese albums in the album list. He’s just brilliant. He covers popular songs in a lounge music setting. You really haven’t lived until you’ve heard Gin & Juice done as Lounge music . It’s really kind of surreal.

Something I didn’t mention before is that I picked up a couple of good microphones so I can try and start keeping up with the podcast side of On the pod. I dig K7, but I’d like to try and do something that doesn’t sound like an answering machine. I’m working on a format and contemplating a theme song for the show. Hopefully, I’ll have a new podcast up in a week or two.

If you noticed all my babbling about a fashion show for the past couple of weeks, it’s over so you won’t be hearing about it anymore. If you’re interested in hearing some of the music, you can check out or for a few samples. You can also purchase a disc of all the music from the show called “The Sogno Suite” by clicking the PayPal button on this page or over at, or

Speaking of Terminally Vague…Terminally Vague Media is actually my new thing. I started it as a music and internet publishing company and it will be an umbrella of sorts for On the, On the pod @ myspace,, Pseudojoe @ myspace and pretty much everything else I have my hands into. You can see most of the other projects I’m working on at the Terminally Vague website @

Well, like I said at the beginning…I have some listening to do, so I’m off to write up Josh Ritter & the Dixie Chicks and listen to all the cool new stuff I got.

Have fun…


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Myspace Music

Myspace Music

Myspace is huge. It’s everywhere. Sometimes it seems that everybody has a Myspace page so everybody else needs to have a Myspace page just to keep up. While its gotten some bad press lately, Myspace is not just a bunch of old men trying to lure fourteen year old girls, or the police officers pretending to be them, out into mall parking lots for a Vladimir Nabokov inspired rendezvous. There is a thriving music community on Myspace, which I am pleased to say, I am a part of.

For every artist you hear on the radio, fourteen or fifteen times an hour, there are hundreds of independent artists who are infinitely more talented. Myspace Music gives artists an opportunity to showcase and promote themselves on a scale never before available to your average garage band. Bands and musicians from all over the world can post their gigs, MP3s, blogs, promotional material, pictures and pretty much anything else you can think of. They can also build up a community of fans, heroes and other likeminded artists around themselves who can take their names, their songs…and, for all intents and purposes, their futures to the “wired” and “unwired” masses alike.

There is so much great music out there that you are jut not hearing because the music industry in it’s current form, isn’t designed to allow it…or as more often than not is the case, chooses not to allow it. I guess this is my attempt to help inform the “wired” masses about some of the great music I’ve managed to find on Myspace Music.

Chelsea Williams:

Chelsea Williams’ MP3s were some of the first I downloaded and I was not disappointed. She has four tracks available for download on her Myspace Music page: Wait, Undecided, It’s Not Too Late and You Don’t Want To Know. They’re very simple tracks made up of just her voice and acoustic guitar and yet they are elegant in their simplicity. Chelsea Williams is a smart, intelligent writer with a sexy, jazzy, sophisticated voice and a knack for melody. Hearing her four songs makes me want two things. The first would be to hear what she would sound like in a more orchestrated and structured environment. I would love to hear a professionally produced studio album. It would be like putting a the right frame around a piece of art, the core is still there but you have the support that lends itself to making the work look even better. The second thing that I want when I hear Chelsea Williams is…more.

Gabor 13:

Gabor 13, from Hungary, is retro rockin’ lo-tech funk at its best. They have four downloadable MP3s available on their Myspace page: E74, Loose4, Love and Provaa…all instrumental and all worth a listen. All the tracks are sonically interesting and intense and flow with an amazing amount of energy. I’m curious to know more about the band as a whole as the only description on Myspace lists them as being from Hungary and their website does not provide any additional information, it does however provide additional MP3s for download. Listening to Gabor 13, I’d be curious to find out if everything was recorded live in studio or if any samples were used. Either way their four tracks are just fun to listen to because it’s so rare to hear something so raw and full of energy.

Jan James:

Jan James can sing. She’s got a deep, funky voice and just tears up the blues on her tracks. Her band also rips and who ever is playing guitar for her sounds like Gary Moore meeting Stevie Ray Vaughn in a dark alley. Three of her four downloads are samples of the full tracks and judging from Drive Me Home, Good Times Roll In and Hush the rest of the tracks should sound great. Rock Your Woman is a full length download and really showcases her guitarist. It almost has that recorded live feel to it. I’m sure a Jan James show would be something to see…and hear.

Late Nite Access:

Late Nite Access are pros. They play like pros, their recording sounds like a pro recording, their production is top notch, the band as a whole is tight and when it comes right down to it…they rock. They have three downloadable MP3’s available on their Myspace page, two samples and one full track. The full track, All Too Easy sounds like a demo, but still showcases Late Nite Access’ strengths. As I said before the band is tight, the vocals are strong as is the musicianship and the lyrics hold up too. The two sample tracks are Save Me and Money. Their tags list them as coming from an EP. If that’s the case it sounds like it was done by, you guessed it, a pro. The sound is crisp and clear and everything is where it should be. I can only imagine that a major label debut is sure to follow sometime soon.


Law is one of the more unique bands that I found on Myspace. There are shades of Ben Folds and Weezer as well as what might be an acid flashback to the late sixties. Law gives you four MP3s for download: Domino Effect, Headphones, I Couldn’t and Lets Meet all featuring drums, bass and keys with a sense of humor. If the Beach Boys, back in the day, ever decided to venture off into the adult industry I Couldn’t would have been on the soundtrack. All of Law’s songs are catchy and fun with good production value and would be right at home on your iPod.

Martina Axen:

Martina Axen only has one downloadable MP3 on her Myspace page, but it’s completely worth a visit. The song is listed as the Xmas Song Demo. It’s Dark and heavy and sexy and in general...awesome. The track is tight and polished and the musicianship is out of this world. The guitars, in particular, are fantastic. It’s hard to really talk about an artist based on one track because there’s always the possibility that it was a fluke. But you know what? Based on this one track, I’d be more than willing to find out.

Mieka Pauley:

Mieka Pauley offers up four downloadable MP3s on her Myspace page and all of them are, in a word, brilliant. She effortlessly mixes genres like Folk, Rock, Blues, Pop and contemporary R&B. Her voice is soulful and bluesy and her writing is smart and full of feeling. The overall impression of the tracks is powerful, the production is transparent and doesn’t get in the way at all and the orchestration is perfect for the individual tracks. Mieka Pauley’s influences do show through on occasion in these four songs, but again, her delivery is so powerful that they meld into the songs that she brings to life. She actually has two EPs available on iTunes for download. The first is the Mieka Pauley (Acoustic) EP from 2003 and the second is the Out of Car Wrecks & Hurricanes EP released in 2006. The Way It Is, Stronger, First Stone and Run are more than worth the download time. If she doesn’t have a deal already…she should!

So there you have it. I could go on for damn near ever, but I have to draw the line somewhere I guess. Without having this turn in to a thirty-seven (" a row?") page review of everything I’ve found at Myspace Music, there are some other artists I would just like to quickly mention.

Once Just:
A very cool and fun Ska band.

Kind Of Girl:
A cool band in the vein of Death Cab For Cutie.

Letters From Earth:
A no bullshit hard rock band that should be playing the main stage at Ozzfest.

Slow Signal Fade:
A great band with ambient soundscapes and cool guitar sounds.

Stephanie’s Id:
A very theatrical band with a very unique take on their music.

Tiffany Page:
A great voice in contemporary female country music.

Ye Gods!:

Your modern, classic metal band with a sense of humor. They may very well have influenced Spinal Tap. Douglas Adams would have loved these guys.

I absolutely think that everybody I mentioned here is great. I respect each and every one of them for doing their own thing and putting it out there for you and me to listen to. All of these bands, not to mention the rest of the unsigned, independent bands on Myspace Music are kind of like an alternate reality if you think about it. They exist, despite what the major labels and the chain stores and the video music channels and the radio stations of the world tell you exist. They exist because they love music and they love making it. The least we can do is listen.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tool - 10,000 Days

Tool - 10,000 Days

I somehow have managed to live under a rock when it comes to Tool. 10,000 Days is their fourth studio album, fifth if you count their EP Opiate, and the first one that I’ve actually listened to. I think I may have been missing out.

10,000 Days is a dark and heavy album with complex rhythms and intense lyrics and is just about flawless in its execution. My only real complaint about the album is that the vocals are a little too buried in the mix sometimes, but other than that…nothing. Sonically, it’s great. The guitars have a great, thick, rich distortion that just rips and the bass and drums work here are outstanding.

The tracks are relatively long on 10,000 Days, with the exception of two clocking in between five and eleven minutes. You could think that with such lengthy cuts the album would drag, but it really doesn’t. You have the epic combo of Wings For Marie (Pt. 1) and 10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2) clocking in at 17:25 total yet it still breaths and moves…without the aid of the fast forward button.

Those two tracks, in particular, are almost a metal version of ambient music. Both Wings Pt. 1 and 2 envelop you in their own “environment” if you will. They try to take you into the story they tell not just through their words, but through the music that makes up the two tracks. It would be easy to try and make a comparison to Pink Floyd as far as the overall feel of Wings Pt. 1 and 2, but I think that would be too convenient because they really do deserve to be listened to.

Another high point for me, no pun intended, was the track Rosetta Stoned. This song is basically a cautionary tale against Mulder and Scully ever dropping acid. Area 51, alien abductions, the chosen one or just a bad trip? Lyrically, the song is unique to say the least, and musically it’s intense and heavy and even comes with its own anal probe guitar solo. How can you pass something like that up?

In terms of a modern metal or progressive metal album, I really think this is the real deal. 10,000 Days just manages to seem bigger than most albums that I’ve heard in the genre lately…it’s aurally bigger, bigger in its intensity and bigger in its scope.

If the previous Tool albums are as good as this one is, then I have defiantly been missing out. I guess I know what will be “New: On the pod” next time…Opiate, Undertow, Aenima and Lateralus.

You can purchase 10,000 Days @

Friday, June 02, 2006

John5 - Songs For Sanity

John5 – Songs For Sanity

I guess that I have been holding on to a misconception as fact for quite sometime with regard to the modern guitar player. I’ve listened to a lot of music and I have labored under the delusion that modern guitarist really couldn’t play all that well, being a guitarist…that gave me hope, but I digress. I don’t mean that as a slam against today’s guitarist, I just mean that it seems as if the art of the guitar solo has been dying a slow death. Once in a while, you’ll hear someone take a lead, but they’re not really focused on as part of the song anymore, they’re more a novelty…hell, solos are even cut from radio versions of the songs they are in.

That little diatribe brings me to this…I recently read an interview with John5 and while I don’t really remember what was discussed, I do remember being very impressed with him. Granted, with a lot of what’s published today there’s always a spin on it, but I was impressed by the way he spoke about music and his playing. So…when I saw John5’s Songs For Sanity, I decided to give it a try. After listening to it and more specifically by the time I finished the song Blues Balls, I was not too proud to admit that I was wrong. Actually, my initial reaction was more like, “HOLY S@#%, THIS F#@$%# GUY CAN PLAY!!!”

I’ll be the first to admit that as an album, Songs For Sanity is a bit weird. It’s not terribly cohesive in terms of the tracks relating to each other, it doesn’t tell a story…actually it’s more like an album with a split personality. On one hand you have exactly what you might expect by looking at the cover…a dark, heavy, shred-fest with mood swings. However, after the first few tracks you’re presented with songs that end up being a bit more like that little red-headed kid you heard about from down south that spent a few years too many locked in the root cellar. Mom always said, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

There are several tracks on Songs For Sanity that just drip with southern flavor like the proverbial gravy off a biscuit. Gein With Envy, Behind The Nut Love, Fiddlers and Death Valley, featuring guitar legend Albert Lee, all showcase John5’s amazing talents as a picker as well as what appears to be his deep appreciation and respect for the art form. The tracks are stellar in terms of their technical proficiency, but if you didn’t know what you were listening to you would think you had ended up on a Steve Morse album, not an album by one of the guys who played with Marilyn Manson.

Mind you his duet with Albert Lee is followed by Perineum, featuring the equally renowned Steve Vai. Perineum couldn’t exist in a galaxy further away from Death Valley. If these two tracks were kids in the same high school, they wouldn’t even look at each other much less get close enough to share an album. Between John5 & Vai, the speed of sound seems to be increased by a few mph. Just as a side note, I’ve never heard Vai sound less like Vai with the exception of his work on the Halo 2 soundtracks…maybe.

The remaining tracks on the album just fly by in really heavy (and really cool) rhythms and blurs of speedy melodic lines. I keep saying speedy, but there is a lot of melody here too. Soul Of A Robot is a track that mixes both, with plenty of those really tiny connected notes you see on sheet music but a middle section that has a very melodic theme, as short as it may be. You also have a track like 2 Die 4, that’s made up of a haunting acoustic guitar part backed by odd and eerie sample tracks.

In terms of an instrumental guitar album, it’s really right up there with the better one’s I’ve heard. I don’t think it will ever be as well know as say, Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien, but players and aficionados of the genre will recognize Songs For Sanity for what it is…an amazing display of fret board prowess that is hardly one dimensional. I see lots of reader’s poll awards in John5’s future.

You can purchase Songs For Sanity @

New: On the pod

New: On the pod


Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way
The Wreckers – Stand Still, Look Pretty
Rik Emmett – Westwood One Live – Absolutely Tour
John5 – Songs For Sanity
Lisa Loeb – The Very Best Of
Obsession - Carnival Of Lies
Selections from Myspace Music



The Ambler Warning – Robert Ludlum

The Ambler Warning

Augustan Burroughs – Possible Side Effects

Possible Side Effects


Quick Audiobook Review:

Ben Bova – Saturn


On the surface, it’s a pretty interesting as far as Sci-fi novels go. A Theocratic government, or should I say governments, have come to power on earth. Some of the dissidents have fled to the lunar colonies but some remain. A mysterious donor has sponsored a mission to study Saturn and it looks like all of the remaining misfits are going to be on it. Below the surface, although not so far as you have to actually look, Saturn is an attack on religious fanaticism without any real ideas on how to fix it in the long term…still, it’s not a bad way to pass the time.


Other Stuff @ On the pod

Well, a while ago I mentioned that I was writing music for a fashion show. It’s all done and actually I liked it so much that I had some CDs made up to try and schlep. If you’re remotely curious about the fashion show, check out a blog that I’m also working on for it at

If you want to listen to some of the music, you can go to and sample some of the over 40 minutes of music I wrote for the show. If you like it, I should be selling a few CDs at the show on June 10th and eventually at that same myspace site.

In other stuff news, I got the official On the promotional cards yesterday and they look amazing. A big thanks goes out to SuzieQ @ Signz & Dezines by SuzieQ at If you are ever in the market for a graphic designer or just someone to help you with your business cards, she comes highly recommended by On the

As far as reviews go, I just finished one for John5’s new album Songs For Sanity and I’m going to work on a group review for some of the music I’ve found on myspace. There are some really great musicians who have pages up at myspace music and they really are worth checking out.

You may have also noticed the Barnes & Noble links that have popped up around the site. I was looking for a way to make getting the music I was talking about easier so I wanted to link a store. I had a lot of problems with the Amazon website so I decided to use Barnes & Noble.

That’s really it for now I guess, so I’ll let you all get back to it.

Thanks for visiting On the