Mp3 Reviews

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

High As Hell Reviews : The Flaming Lips "At War With The Mystics"

I've heard this album 7 or 8 times now and so I feel it's time to give it it's chance for a wonderful HIGH AS HELL review here at mp3reviews. that's right. the album of course isn't officially released till April but was leaked last week. My estimation of the album is quite high - while not being quite the "masterpiece" that The Soft Bulletin is - it is a lot of fun. I'm not really sure I can compare it to any other Lips album and that's a good thing - it's got it's own feeling. It's got a lot of energy and a lot of sort of ridiculous songs but it's also got a few really beautiful moments. Anyhoo that's it with the setup. Let's get going here! I need some more of the marijuana though, really, now, don't I?

PREORDER THE ALBUM TODAY FROM AMAZON TODAY !



1. yeah yeah yeah -

i'm not sure what to think of this at the very moment. the verses are almost ridiculously cheesey in a way. i do love the line "with all your power" - the way he sings power is great. the over the top flange actually works here - usually i dont like it when you can so obviously hear what effect is being used. ahh-ahh-ah-ahhh. those crazy frank zappa-ish indian chants do my head in. those are well cool. really a weird song - it sort of thumps along but... i don't know hard to explain really brothers. i dont find it much of a close your eyes and chill type song though - its too upbeat and over the top silly for that. i enjoy the song though, much fun.

2. free radicals -

i love the ahh-ahh-ahh harmonies. reminds me of the beatles. mmm delicious. i also love the way the drums are just slammin' away and it just feels very much like the song takes of then. really cool. theres a ton of weird sounds going on here. and you think you're radical but you're not so radical, in fact you're fanatical.

3. the sound of failure -

this has been one of the real growers of the album for me, at first i didnt like this one at all, i was put off by the overly precise/clean sound of the guitars and overall production during the verses and the sort of AM Gold cheesed out guitars on the chorus and i thought the whole thing just sort of went on forever... but now i sort of just get it and it works for me - really beautiful song - great backing vocals - i hadnt really noticed till just now just how great some of the backing vocals are. those "ooh ooh" on the second verse are just killer. love that. so go tell britney, and go tell gwen... she's not trying to go against all them. i think it's sort of part of this songs charm that it's so radio friendly sounding (especially compared to most of the other stuff on the album) being that it's theme is about this girl not wanting to hear sickly sweet pop music like britney spears when she's dealing with real things in her life. sort of all works. could be a single i think - although it's not as immediate or as catchy as say.. do you realize - it's still a pretty lovely song and i quite like this spaced out ending. great flute sound. i think they actually were using a demo on a plugin because theres a sound in there that happens when you're exporting a demo in this one plugin... and i think they just left it in there on purpose with a wink to see if anyone would notice. good stuff. i could pinpoint the exact sound i'm talking about but... hey it's next song and it's one of my favorites...

#4 - Cosmic ....

This song just tickles my nipples. It's prettier than a wombat. the guitar solo just destroys me. possibly my favorite moment of the whole album this guitar solo. to me it's like a little bit of zaireeka just thrown in this album. the just insane layers of noise that just destroy your mind made all the more perfect by the fact that it comes out of it to this just beautiful second verse. just a great song. sorry i didnt say more but i was listening, man.

#5 - vein of stars

WHO KNOWS?! maybe there isn't a vein of stars calling out my name. man again im not saying anything. i'm really being drawn into these songs now. this is a bit of a highlight on the album i think this little stretch here. its strange the way the album goes from being over the top silly on the first 2 tracks to sort of very pretty but very strangely radio friendly on the 3rd track before getting a bit more serious and beautiful on tracks 4 & 5. atleast that's how i'm seeing the album as of the moment. more just great backing vocals. there's really a lot of great layers of vocals on this album.

#6 - the wizard turns on -

one of the more just totally crazy moments in the labum the way this song starts out. start of pink floyd welcome to the machine-ish with the insane sounds here. i love the way the drums in come in and just crash all over the place. this song reminds me a lot of darkside of the moon actually for more pink floyd references... but a bit more warped somehow. darkside could already get pretty warped but this song just has a really sort of wild funk sound to it. i've never been a real huge fan of yoshimi part 2. and the soft bulletin instrumentals while being nice are definitly not high points of the album - but to me this song just kicks ass - one of my favorite tracks on the album. oh uh.. its an instrumetnal. i was assuming you knew that man.

#7 - it overtakes me...

this is a suite and the second part of it was my favorite part of the album on my initial listening - it just killed me. but anyways i'm jumping ahead of me. the beginning of the song is wayne doing his best gwen stefani hollaback girl. not really one of my favorite parts of the album BUT i do LOVE the "you know that it isnt real" part that comes in. that's awesome. theres some insane munchking voices in this piece. and then its like its floating out of wherever it was... sort of just disingrating in darkness... really nicely done there... if i had to pick just one moment in this album this would probably be it. i just love the way it transitions to this. i dont undersand anything at all. goosebump moment for me. just beautiful . and the acoustic guitar... its like going back in front of the fireplace after an interstellar trip... warming your bones by the fire in a cabin or some shit. in otherwords - goddamn brilliant. another bit in this album that sort of reminds me of pink floyd.

#8 mr ambulance driver -

this is a very subtle song but theres a lot of neat little things going on - i like all the ilttle details in the drums and in the guitars and in the backing vocals. it's really a nice song. the guitar on the chorus is very cool. i love the line "oh we cant trade places, our lives are strangely our own" --- my favorite part of the song may be the outro vocals "waiting for the ambulance to come, ooh ooh"

#9 havent got a clue -

just a totally out there song sonically. pretty ridiculous lyrically and sort of hard to take seriously as a song - but the sounds are pretty outrageous. theres just a ton going on in this song - perhaps OTT! hyperactive and great for the ADD set. i like those sudden shifts into the "ahh ahhh ahhh" sort of choir vocals. possibly a synth or heavily effected vocals

#10 the wand -

another hyperactive track this one. this one has grown on me a ton from when i first heard it. it's got a quite strange structure which i think makes it a bit hard to dig at first but the more you hear it - the more it gets into you i think. i love the phased out QUEEN type vocal bits. just great. i love the drums on this track. at first those cutting back and forth bits that happen i thought were too much - but i get 'em now and they work rock n roll type biz on my brainpatterns. awesome HIGH harmonies. and i love the melody on "why cant they see..." and then the next bit when it goes high. ah, just great. AND WE KNOW WHY WE FIGHT!

#11 pompeii -

one of my favorites from the get go. and another track that reminds me of pink floyd. i just love the sound of it. the vocals coming out of the top of your head. the sounds all flying all around your brains. the great pulsating bass. and then when it really gets going and the flute comes in and the sounds start crashing all around - its just killer. "one of these days" by pink floyd is definitly recalled by this one. i think a lot of people who otherwise cant get into the lips might love this song. just a sort of a different thing from what the lips have done before and they do it just awesome. great song. ALL MY SENSES. the flute mmm! the guitar part that comes in during the last minute is great - really like taking the song and somehow taking it even higher into outer space or something. really great stuff.

#12 goin' on -

this song was one of the last ones to grow on me. but i love it now.. inspite of the "uh huh" on the prechorus which just drove me crazy at first. they also used the "watch beep" sound again from the soft bulletin - probably as a reference to that. maybe an interesting reference being as the name of the song is goin' on... maybe sayin yo this is a biscuit from the past of the dolphin and now we're rockin this biz. this song really starts being great to me starting around 1:50 --- i just love the vocal parts starting there... really pretty. and again like throughout the album just great backing vocals. this is not a hit and definitly i think takes awhile to sink into the head - but its got some really pretty moments and some beautiful backing vocals - at first i didnt like that this came on after pompeii but it works for me now.


anyways - pretty great album - i wasnt really able to get myself fully into high as hell close my eyes and trip out mode. i dont think this is a really great album for that in a way because its so hyperkinectic and is so silly at times that it sort of takes you out of that place - but that being said - its a lot of fun and another great album by the flaming lips. i dont think the songs are as catchy as yoshimi's and it's nowhere near the overall STATEMENT that the soft bulletin was or as experimental and mad crazy as zaireeka or as rockin' as priest driven ambulance. it's not like any of their previous albums really - i think in a lot of ways it may be their most fun & upbeat album although of course with some pretty nice detours into some groovy spacy biz.

High As Hell Reviews : The Flaming Lips "At War With The Mystics"

I've heard this album 7 or 8 times now and so I feel it's time to give it it's chance for a wonderful HIGH AS HELL review here at mp3reviews. that's right. the album of course isn't officially released till April but was leaked last week. My estimation of the album is quite high - while not being quite the "masterpiece" that The Soft Bulletin is - it is a lot of fun. I'm not really sure I can compare it to any other Lips album and that's a good thing - it's got it's own feeling. It's got a lot of energy and a lot of sort of ridiculous songs but it's also got a few really beautiful moments. Anyhoo that's it with the setup. Let's get going here! I need some more of the marijuana though, really, now, don't I?

***keep checking back***

Friday, February 17, 2006

Full Album Review Of : The Flaming Lips AT WAR WITH THE MYSTICS

not yet... but will be coming.

also coming up : a review of the new grandaddy album : just like the fambly cat.

nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, a lord of troubles, ephedra, a lord of troubles. no fish oil to help, no dreams left to be dreamed.

Annie "Chewing Gum"

This is a pop song. A dance pop song. But it's fun as hell. I don't usually listen to this type of music as you can see from the rest of my reviews but if you are at all interested in hearing some fun upbeat pop music this is some of the best I've heard in the new century. It's just completely infectious (like herpes) and just a very lovely time. The production on this song and really throughout the album is just a ton of fun to listen to.

ANNIE - CHEWING GUM.

ANNIE - ANNIEMAL.

John Vanderslice "If I Live Or If I Die"

This track is #9 on Vanderslice's 2001 album Time Travel Is Lonely. It's a lovely album and all of the tracks are good but this particular song has really been standing out for me. The words are from a poem by William Blake called "the fly" :

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance,
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly.
If I live,
Or if I die.
---

The song is based around a very cute piano riff and handclaps. The vocals are smooth and pretty. There's some strange electronic bleeps and bloops that really add to the atmosphere. The attention to detail on this song and really on the whole album is great. If you are the type that really enjoys thoughtful production with lots of interesting things going on - this album is for you. I've also got Pixel Revolt - Vanderslice's latest album but I'd get this one first if I was you. Time Travel Is Lonely.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

wayne coyne's track by track for the new flaming lips album.

Wayne's Track-By-Track of At War With The Mystics

THE YEAH YEAH YEAH SONG (WITH ALL YOUR POWER)


Steven had been recording in a separate vocal booth on his computer and I walked by and heard the crazy grouped vocals doing the "yeah yeah yeah" part and I was immediately hooked. This is one of those songs that points the finger at the pettiness of those in power but also points the finger back at ourselves - what would YOU do? Power in the hands of the inexperienced (which is what we would be) is very dangerous...



FREE RADICALS (A HALLUCINATION OF THE CHRISTMAS SKELETON PLEADING WITH A SUICIDE BOMBER)


I had a dream in which Devendra Banhart (the weird singer/songwriter) is pleading with a suicide bomber (who is about to go blow up something or somebody) to change his mind. And once he changes the deranged zealot's point of view, he (Devendra) immediately sympathizes with the frustration (mostly aimed at George W. Bush) that could make someone long for such exaggerated revenge...(Keep in mind that this is just a funny dream - these suicide bombers are clearly brainwashed religious fanaticals that are insane with their own agenda...they are beyond any pleads of reason and are not worthy of any sympathy.)



THE SOUND OF FAILURE


We have some friends whose father was dying of cancer - I say "was" because it (the cancer and his death) dragged on agonizingly for over a year - and they (our friends) were becoming, understandably, weary of being forced to be upbeat...



And I remember hearing a comment once about how annoying it was, to them, to have to hear this gratingly jubilant fake enthusiasm (usually hokey hyped-up pop groups like Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, Ashlee Simpson, Hillary Duff, etc.) blasting out of the "Muzak" systems virtually everywhere they went. To them this cheerleader-type assault was really only effective if you didn't actually have any real psychic stress...And they felt that it was, surprisingly, helpful to them to try to understand their fears and their sadness - as opposed to pretending that it's "all good." And, you see, this is true insight... finally we know it's okay to have a troubled mind, it's okay to fail...



And so this song (which was written in the car on the way up to New York from Oklahoma while I drove and Steven played battery powered keyboard and computer) is about a young girl whose best friend has died, and everywhere she goes (like the friends I mentioned earlier) she must endure the empty optimism of the inexperienced. She wants to know, since it has arrived, what is despair, what is hope, what is failure...And what is in the darkness??



The line in the song, "so go tell Britney and go tell Gwen" is obviously a reference back to my friends and their Muzak incident...meaning, "Yeah, go tell Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani that their energy and their Prom Queen smiles only go to prove that they don't empathize with my sadness." I believe, in the song, that Britney and Gwen could be thought of as this grieving girl's less mature friends...and that she's not trying to go against them, she just doesn't want to pretend that she understands what she doesn't really understand - what death is...what despair is...what existential fear is... She doesn't know, but she's starting to find out...


IT'S DARK... IS IT ALWAYS THIS DARK?


A strange sort of afterword to the previous song. The voice and the strange blippy trail is actually my voice run through a computer plug-in effect called "Squirrel Parade"...Pretty cool... Anyway, it sounds like I'm saying "It's Dark", but I didn't say "It's Dark". I don't remember what it was exactly - just me talking before a song, but it gives the illusion of a young girl finding her way through a mystery...yes?


MY COSMIC AUTUMN REBELLION (THE INNER LIFE AS BLAZING SHIELD OF DEFIANCE AND OPTIMISM AS CELESTIAL SPEAR OF ACTION)


We had been using the musical elements of this song (it wasn't a song then) as an intro for our live shows, as I rolled around on top of the crowd in the now famous "Space Bubble." The power of the chord structure and arrangement kept inspiring me and I eventually pieced together this manifesto of defiance and optimism. It is my response to the naysaying know-it-alls who see life leading only to death and see nature as a cruel prankster designed to defeat the human spirit. And the truth (which I get to proclaim as if standing on the top of a holy mountain shooting lazer beams out of my hands - thanks to Steven's epic orchestration) is that no circumstance can ever defeat us unless we let it... Resilience in the face of failure is a manifestation of the mind...



VEIN OF STARS


I picked up a guitar that Steven had tuned to an odd open chord (F 6/9) and, without thinking, strummed it a couple of times and immediately sang (off the top of my head) the first line into the tape recorder, "Who knows, maybe there isn't a vein of stars calling out my name." My intention was to sing something cosmic about how humans have (as science reveals more and more about the nature of time and space) been abandoned by the stars...But I believe, once we finished it (the song and its production), it seemed to convey just the opposite...That almost despite science we are connected to the stars...Because we love to look at them, we hope maybe they love to look at us...



THE WIZARD TURNS ON...THE GIANT SILVER FLASHLIGHT AND PUTS ON HIS WEREWOLF MOCCASINS


A kind of space jam where the initial performance had Michael playing the CD player (in it was a CD with a recording of the drums), Steven playing the Rhodes and me playing electric bass. Mr. Fridmann ran the whole thing through a series of space echoes. flangers, filters and distortion boxes... The entire mix lays in the bed of a program called Metaphysical Function...Neat, huh?



IT OVERTAKES ME


I sometimes will do a silly songwriter's trick - I'll act like I'm writing a song for someone else and on this track I was imagining Gwen Stefani... I pictured her singing it and imagined what kind of production would happen. Initially I called the song, when it was intended for Ms. Stefani, "I Like To Masturbate and Think Of Outer Space"...and I still think that if she was doing the song it's a great title....But to think of me, a 45 year old man with a graying beard, umm, masturbating....is... well...(I'm uncomfortable even typing this)...unpleasant...so anyway...The song ends up being more about my occasional bouts of panic when accidentally contemplating the "Cosmic Reality", that is....that we (the Earth) are floating perilously adrift in a vast and endless sea of black infinity (outer space) and it is, when analyzed, a mindfuck...and yes I feel horribly insignificant....So anyway, what we ended up with, I believe, still sounds like a mashing of "Hollaback Girl" and "1969" by The Stooges...take some drugs and turn it up real loud...



THE STARS ARE SO BIG AND I AM SO SMALL...DO I STAND A CHANCE?


This section of the song captures, I think, the vulnerability and awe of this same scenario (the Cosmic Reality) within a cathedralesque womb-cloud of angelic voices... but instead of panic it is solemn and comforting...


MR. AMBULANCE DRIVER


The entire song, its key and chord structure, is built around the ambulance siren sample. When we first did it there was an eerie death coloring (probably due to the siren and the lyric about the girl being dead) that was very satisfying... But we found, with repeated listening, that the siren, somehow, subliminally disappeared and, to our surprise, it revealed a kind of Eddie Rabbitt (70's pop-country singer-songwriter) at the roller rink, easy listening teenager car crash ballad.



HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE


A friend of ours, Greg Kurstin (he played with us on the Beck tour and was nicknamed "Firefingers" by Steven due to his sublime playing of the keyboard) is an accomplished musician and has a great ear for pop sounds and structure...He's written songs with artists ranging from Enrique Iglesias to Karen O and he, upon my insistence, sent this unfinished track for us to build on. It was great fun and again (like the Gwen Stefani trick) it allowed us to create inside a different identity. The song is about a type of person that everybody knows and endures (we won't mention names). They blame everyone but themselves for all of their problems which they seem to have in endless supply. If they suffer, you suffer more... You know what I'm talking about.



THE W.A.N.D. (THE WILL ALWAYS NEGATES DEFEAT)


I was playing electric guitar, Michael was on fuzzwah bass and Steven was on the drumkit and we stumbled upon this druggy prog-rock riff and stuttery, funky beat. It was like Black Sabbath getting mashed up with Sly and the Family Stone or Stevie Wonder, and it sent us off in a wonderful new direction. The idea of a magic wand and magic powers occurred to me while watching a homeless guy in Oklahoma City. He was, I believe, Vietnamese, and had a cool looking wizardly beard and mustache and he carried a long stick, which he used as a kind of cane-weapon. And one day I saw him fighting an "imagined" enemy and the long stick became (as best I could tell) a kind of magic wand that made his invisible foe retreat. I mean... it seemed to give him a confidence that allowed him to defeat his hallucinations...and at first I thought "how sad...he believes this old stick is saving him"... but the more I thought about it, the more I envied him in a way...for the evil manifestations of his mind he invented a sparkling sorcerer's baton to lead his psychic revolution...yes!!...



And so we delved into a kind of radical protest rock mentality...We sing, "We got the power now, motherfuckers, that's where it belongs", but I believe it's cosmically empowering - not actually empowering. In the song, we rail against the greedy, corrupt evil beings who are in control and trying to enslave us... But our rebellion is simply to fight back - we have no solutions.



POMPEII AM GTTERDMMERUNG


A galloping Godhead melody (reminiscent of the German National Anthem) telling a vague story of a young couple planning their suicide. They live in a place where there are volcanoes erupting and they are going to take the train up the mountain and jump into the flowing lava as a symbolic sacrifice of their restricted love.The triumphant quality of the arrangement suggests that, just before they obliterate themselves, they realize that to make such a decision, to destroy yourself, is really just a point of internal motivation leading to outward action. And, if they could do something as extreme as annihilating themselves, why couldn't they just try to change the circumstances that have limited them?....Action is all we have....Worth mentioning is that this is Steven's first lead vocal on a Flaming Lips track...



GOIN' ON


The core of the chorus melody has a melancholy resolution evoking, abstractly, sections of Mahler's 9th Symphony...We are, subconsciously I guess, drawn to "the answer"... maybe that is why people have the urge to pray or sing or create...We long for this thing called "closure", but I believe that "closure" is, maybe, an illusion. This song takes a long stare at coping and the secret healing powers of slipping through time and space...How suffering, somehow, is relieved by simple...acceptance...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Video To Come.

soon in a move that will delight millions : video of the mp3 reviews. that's right. you heard it here first. it doesn't make any sense. believe it anyways. you will love it. you do love it. you can't wait for it. mmm.

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