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A Look Back: Vol. 1

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This marks the start of a series where I let myself look back at cds which older. Normally I have restrained myself from reviewing non-new items because that is what the people want to read, however, there is a whole world of music out there that doesn’t fit into the new shelf at stores.

Extol- Burial
Solid State Records
1998
This is the cd that started my facination with metal. I heard the track “Reflections of a Broken Soul” on a magazine sampler disc. I was facinated with it’s mix of clean and “cookie monster” vocals, as well as the Oriental sounding guitar work. I bought the cd and discovered while none of the other songs featured quite that mix, they did deliver solid death metal tunes. There is a darkness about the cd, which draws comparisons to black metal, however, most black metal fans would get offeneded at that classification. The two guitarists weave complex but beautiful parts around those distinctive cookie monster vocals. Production wise, the cd suffers a bit from that almost hollow, almost flat feel, however, there is enough life in the music that it shines, anyway. Most of the lyrics are in english, however, a few songs are in the band’s native tongue. Without hesitation I would call this my favorite metal release of all time.

The Residents- Gingerbread Man
East Side Digital

1995
This is a really weird album. Of course, it is argued (and generally agreed) that all Residents albums are weird. This one takes the melody from the children’s rhyme “Gingerbread Man” and weaves it into an entire concept album. Each of the first nine tracks tell the suffering of a character. Their fears, phobias, and regrets. You’ve got everyone from a dying oil man to a confused transexual, to an aging musician, or a simple weaver. The liner notes give the background of the person while the song delves deep into their wretched feelings. Needless to say it’s not an easy trip. And to have the unsettling melody “run run run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man” taunting you between every song can create your own phobia and fear. While this isn’t the best The Residents album (and there are many) it also isn’t the worst and is worth picking up.

Switchfoot- The Legend of Chin
Re:Think
1997
Switchfoot has become a fairly popular and mainstream band here recently. They’re more popular than Extol and The Residents combined, despite The Residents’ 30 plus years of existance (and insistance to release music). This is the first Switchfoot cd and the one that most drastically differs from “The Beautiful Letdown.” It’s kind of an edgy alternative with some indie influences. Most mainstream fans will probably find this less enjoyable than “The Beautiful Letdown” because of the production. It’s kind of crusty feeling, despite the well crafted and performed songs. However, I think that also adds character to the cd. Some standout songs include, “Chem6A”, “Underwater”, and “Concrete Girl.”

Enjoy.

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About The Theory

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent, but no need to apologize – ALL of recorded history is fair game. About the only caveat to that would be it should be available somewhere or people might get frustrated.

    I think the all-itals might be a bit hard on the eyes, if that’s okay.

    Also, it’s entirely up to you, but these are long enough to be their own posts, if you’d like to do it that way.

    Thanks!

  • The Theory

    but these are short for me. mwahahaha.

    nothing but half a heart-beat.

  • Eric Olsen

    I was just saying if you WANT to do them individually, that’s fine too.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i’m embarassed to say that i own no Residents records.

    is this a good place to start?

  • The Theory

    I’d start with Duck Stab if I were you. I only own six of their massive collection, but that’s the most accessable of the ones I own and others say the same.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i don’t need accessible…what’s really weird?!

  • Eric Olsen

    all of them

  • Eric Olsen

    check this out

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    They’re really weird, Mark. The Residents were a big influence on Primus, if that gives you any indication – and Primus is nowhere near as weird as the Residents. I highly suggest starting with The Commercial Album, which is a bunch (literally – 40) of songs that had the limit of one minute’s length placed on them. They wanted to force themselves to make music that would get the point across quickly and function almost like a jingle (hence the name.) Of course, any commercial that would feature music this, frankly, fucked up would be for some seriously odd products.

    You would also not go wrong checking out the 2-disc anthology, Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses.

    Gingerbread Man was one of their more disappointing releases – for me at least. The punch there just didn’t connect with me.

  • The Theory

    speaking of The Commercial Album… they took each song off of that and, on San Francisco’s #1 Top 40 radio station, bought 40 one minute time slots and in the span of 3 days had all of the songs played.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    Theory, now THAT is cool. Buncha freaks they are, but smart, funny freaks. We need a lot more like that.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i don’t consider Primus to be especially weird…certainly more so than, say, Creed…or somethin’.

    i got to see Primus once in boston (opener was Fishbone…great show)…and there were some kids right behind me who knew nothing about the whole “Primus Sucks” thing. they kept saying stuff like “i don’t know why everybody hates ‘em, they’re really good”.

    maybe i shoulda told them what was going on?

  • Eric Olsen

    My son is a bass player and loves Les – we’re working on him intervewing him when Primus plays Cleveland.

    The Residents interview I linked in #8 is a pretty good primer

  • The Theory

    Mark, I stick with my reccomendation of Duck Stab… however, just picked up Fingerprince used yesterday. I doubt if it’s available new anywhere, but if you find that PICK IT UP. Quickly becoming one of my favorites.

    Now on to something different, I had a fun experience at work yesterday…

    I work at a bookstore, usually in the music department, however they needed someone at the cash register so I was up there. I see two guys walk in the store and they were brousing around. The one guy turned around and smack dab on his t-shirt was the tell-tale The Residents’ eye. I about crapped my pants. Did he get it at Goodwill and had no clue what it was, or was he actually a fan? So when he checked out I was like, “Is that a Residents’ shirt?” and he was like, “Yeah!”

    Turns out he was a huge fan and I was the first person to comment on the shirt.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    it must be a sign.

    i will go out and look for both Duck Stab and The Commercial Album this afternoon.

  • The Theory

    online is probably the only place you can get them. Some cool music stores might stock their latest one (which I believe is Demons Dance Alone), but I doubt if any would carry, new, either of those.

    Your best bet might be to try and find it used if you have any nice used music stores in your area.

    *The Theory… has 3 used music stores and have found Residents albums at each*