Morrissey | Years of Refusal | Album Review

Morrissey | Years Of RefusalMorrissey (formerly of The Smiths) new album (titled Years of Refusal ) appears to continue with his themes of despair, loneliness, loss.  Morrissey brings his all with giant hooks,  cynical lyrics, a decent backing band and a great voice to top it off.

This album does have the feel of Your Arsenal, since they feature distorted guitars like the beginning of that album.  You’ll get that sense most notably in the first and last songs.  For me it’s always been his sense of melody intertwined with his words that really sell get me to listen.  Anything that sounds like The Smiths and I can’t but help listen to it, but if thats what your looking for then make sure to skip the tracks mentioned.

Years of Refusal is filled with Moz’s dark humor.  Tracks like “Sorry Doesn’t Help Us” with words like “Sorry will not bring my teen years back to me (any time soon)” you can understand his sarcastic genius and natural sense with words.  On “How People Grow Up”, he sings “I was driving my car, I crashed and broke my spine.  So yes, there are things worse in life than never being someone’s sweetie”.   So it takes some physical pain for Moz’s character to get over the mental anguish of never having been in love.  And on the last track, Morrissey wants death with words like  “Then came an arm around my shoulder, well surely the hand holds a revolver”.

John Frusciante – The Empyrean – Album Review

John Frusciante | The Empyrean | CoverJohn Frusciante (of The Red Hot Chili Peppers) new album is called The Empyrean which is the highest point in heaven.  With tracks like “God” and “Heaven”, it seems like John has found a place of peace musically and mentally.  The album goes through many moods and is constantly changing.  It demonstrates John Frusciante’s ability to compose and produce at the same time.  Thank you to Flea for playing on this album.  His playing is like jelly to John’s peanut butter.

Laden with pianos and guitars heavy with reverb, the album does have an earthy aura.  A cover of Tim Buckley “Song to the Siren” sounds close vocally.  The basis is there, but John adds keyboards and airy guitar effects that give it more of a Pink Floyd and spacey feel.  Anyone that would try to sing like Tim must have balls.  On the track “God” he continues with his spacey emotions, but then goes into a more Medeski, Martin, & Wood jazz type of groove.  He continues to build upon the groove with some heavy guitar and then a beautifully plucked melody in the background.  “Dark Light” begins with keyboards and John’s voice engulfed in reverb.  Again John decides to travel into a completely different direction by going into a groove with Flea and singing in his falsetto voice a-la “Under The Bridge” but with more of a gospel sound.

John plays some of his best solos on this album.  The album starts off with a track (“Before the Beginning”) which builds from a single guitar to an insane guitar solo.  It sounds like if Eric Clapton and The Velvet Underground got together.  “Unreachable” sounds like a hark back to his former song “Going Inside”, but with drums and more upbeat.  The solo sounds like Jimi Hendrix rose from the dead.  Filled with trills and Hendrix wah sounds, the guitar solo builds into a beautiful melodic ending.

The Fleet Foxes – Album of the Year or Another Arctic Monkeys – Self-Titled CD Review

The Fleet Foxes have been awarded album of the year from the best music magazine in the world Mojo Magazine.  Are they another Arctic Monkeys or actually good?  The Fleet Foxes - Self Titled

With five part vocal harmonies, this band echoes their folk influences on their sleeves.  They’ve done their homework and are actually able to pull off the harmonies without sounding like a boy band.  Influences The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, The Zombies, and more than anything else Steeleye Span.  In fact, the first thing that comes to mind on the first track “Red Squirrel/Sun Rises” is “Are these guys the offspring from Steeleye Span?”   It also sounds like a mishmash of Crosby Stills & Nash or Simon & Garfunkel.

This album has a lot of references to family members.  Robin Pecknold (the songwriter/singer/guitarist) had recently lost his grandfather while recording this album.  Surprisingly, these guys are from Seattle even though they sound like they’re from Woodstock or the South.  Every family member is mentioned on most of these songs including the grandpa on one or two, mother, sister, and father.  Most of all the brother is mentioned as in telling him to be good, staying at his house and missing flights.

Leon Redbone – Champagne Charlie – CD Review

Leon RedboneI first saw Leon Redbone on a SNL 70’s rerun doing a tune called “Harvest Moon”.  After hearing his voice, I knew I had heard it somewhere and that place was a cover of “Frosty The Snowman”.  I had to check out some of his work and it was wonderful if you like his sort of style.  Albums On the Track and Double Time showcased his unique style and blend of jazz, folk and blues standards.

Leon Redbone basically does a bunch of standards with the ragtime feel.  If you think of music that the Simpsons grandpa listens to, then you will get a sense of what his music sounds like.  His voice is so unique it is hard to describe, but the words gravel-throated baritone do come to mind.

Furthermore, there is little known about Leon Redbone’s personal life.  According to the liner notes, he described himself as “… born in Bombay during a monsoon and to be the offspring of Paganini”.  When asked to submit his biographical info, he supposedly sent a picture of Bob Dylan and called himself “Blind James Hocum”.  His looks only add to his mystery.  He looks like he walked straight out of the 20’s with a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and a mustache.

Jimmy Cliff – We All Are One: The Best Of – CD Review

Jimmy Cliff - We All Are One: The Best OfJimmy Cliff was one of the most influential artists from Jamaica. He was the pulse of the great soundtrack The Harder They Come.  However, he never made it big because his label Island Records chose to focus on Bob Marley instead.  Forging ahead, Jimmy released a series of hits even influencing artists like Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Sting and UB40.  Desmond Dekker even took Cliff’s own “You Can Get It If You Really Want” to the charts in England.