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Music Review: Barenaked Ladies Are Me – Barenaked Ladies

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Barenaked Ladies Are Me hits stands starting Tuesday, September 12. This latest album is by far my favorite. I believe the artist always has the best idea of what they want the song to be and now that the Barenaked Ladies are their own boss, they get to make the decisions. This has truly brought out the best in their music.

The first song on this album is also one of my favorites. “Adrift” has banjo and I like a song with a banjo. It also has the type of lyrics everyone loves this band for ("You’re an abacus, and my heart was counting on us").

Next we come to "Bank Job" a completely awesome song in its own right, though I like the live versions I have heard more. They contain more guitar and less keyboard. However, the recorded version does a great job of going through the ups and downs of robbing a bank musically. Also the way Ed Robertson can sing makes it seem like he is actually trying to figure out just what went wrong, making it an awesome effect.

So we’re two songs in and both are sung by Ed and not as much as a peep from Steven Page, the band’s lead singer yet. Well, he gets his big entrance in "Sound of you Voice" and it is really one of his better vocal accomplishments. It's '50s meets rock meets pop and it is an amazing outcome. It is also easy to sing along with. It has a catchy chorus; the kind that gets stuck in your head. But then it also totally rocks so it's ok when it doesn’t go away for hours.

On the first couple listens, I didn’t quite know what to think about the song "Easy." I heard this song much earlier than the rest of the album as it is the lead off single and it took several listens for it to grow on me. Because of the delivery of the lyrics I feel it is easy to not catch the plot of the song. You have to listen to it five or ten times before you can decide if you like it or hate it. However, it has one of their most unique videos and I cannot get enough of.

One thing you notice rather early in this album is it's a lot more guitar rifts and a lot less chords. It's a big move musically for the Barenaked Ladies and it affects the music in a positive way. A good example of this is "Home." While many of their songs have always stayed away from the three chords standard, Guitarist Ed Robertson is just plain amazing when it comes to writing unique rifts the fans can fall in love with.

The next song, "Bull in a China Shop," could have very easily gone on their first album Gordon. It goes back to their roots and I love it. It also tests Steve’s voice in a new way. It goes high to low, piano to fortissimo, and ends up with a great vocal performance.

The only thing better than one Banjo song is a second. "Everything Had Changed" is Steve’s musical genius at its best lyrically. I think it is one of his best since "Break Your Heart." I always enjoy his I-regret-the-fact-that-I-can’t-express-emotion songs. What I like best about this type of song by him, they are often written and sung with such emotion that they become sarcastic in tone.

The musician I envy most, the whole reason I play stand-up bass, and maybe the largest musical influence in my life, Jim Creeggan, wrote and sings the song "Peterborough and the Kawarthas." The influence for this song comes from a weather forecast of all places. "Perterborough and the Kwarthas" is a region in Canada that always just caught his ear. The jazz feel along with lyrics of longing for something makes it just impossible to hit the skip button.

One thing that makes "Maybe Your Right" such a powerful song is, it starts off soft and slow and really builds. Another is the layer of lyrics going on towards the end, the most prominent of which is Steve all but yelling, "Maybe you're right. Maybe you're right. Maybe you're right, but I don’t think so." It also features a wicked-awesome horn melody at the end which really brings the song to a powerful close.

"Take it Back" is my favorite song on the whole album. It has lyrics trying to figure out if there is something within us to blame for terrorism, while still wondering why someone would go to such an extreme. It also has a great bridge that is the peak of the song. I love the flowing feel of the chorus that makes the four minute song seem like it's barely two.

Kevin Hearn gets his chance to sing in his song "Vanishing." It has an awesomely eerie finger picked guitar rift that is just pure musical genius. I believe it's the kind of song you either love or hate on the first listen. You either get it or you don’t. It doesn’t really grow on you in time.

The song "Rule the World with Love" is full of the musical changes that make Barenaked Ladies so unique. It effectively keeps the listener on their toes, and I am sure the band members must stay alert when performing it as well. It also has a keyboard solo in it I can just not get enough of.  I cannot get bored with this song!

Their last song is a super-silly rock song along the same lines of what has made them famous. The magnificent guitar work by Kim Mitchell on “Wind It Up” makes you want to just jam with it.  It also has incredibly fun lyrics about disguise and flying cell phones.

I knew with the first listen this CD was my favorite from them. They have advanced tremendously now that they are on their own label. They have made huge advancements musically and lyrically and I feel everyone in the band has a huge factor in the writing of the songs, which make them all that much better. Please stay tuned for more articles on this band as they are the Blogcritics Featured Artist for September.

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About Josh Phillips

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

    You didn’t even mention the “intriguing” multiple format options the band has chosen to release this thing in.

    Today the 13 track CD comes out in stores. Simple enough. If you download it from Itunes as a full album, you get two bonus tracks. Not only this, but early next year they’re going to release another album, the second half of this album (called Barenaked Ladies Are Men,) and it’s the same thing – two more bonus tracks from Itunes. But wait, there’s more. Starbucks in Canada, of all stores, may get a special release of BOTH discs together in one package, on October 3, but not with the bonus tracks, but they will definitely have the second album by itself that day.

    AND THEN there’s yet another release that people can buy at concerts – Barenaked Ladies Are USB, which is both albums on a USB thumb drive, PLUS a live album (which could have been bought on CD as a bonus for pre-ordering Are Me from their official site,) an additional bonus track, two videos, 2 “Tru Tones” (whatever those are, but they appear to be songs,) “4 adlibs” (whatever that means,) and some other crap like pictures and stuff.

    Yes, of course, you could always just not respond, but the problem is that fans want all the music, and bands are now taking advantage of multiple avenues to make sure fans are parted with as much money as possible in doing so. This may work for a few fans, but the end result will simply be encouraging most of them to trade songs with others who got what they did not – and I can’t blame them.

  • Josh

    The biggest problem is 29 songs was to much to digest as one up front mega album. I got the second half today, and it is difficult to take in all the different musical aspects, though there are some wonderful works on the second half such as “Running Out of Ink”, “Maybe Not”, “Fun and Games”, and “I Can I Will I Do.” All of which I will cover in my next review for the featured artist. (I need time to digest.)

    However if fans are looking for the best way to get the music I defiantly suggest the USB version. The bonuses are worth it I got their holiday CD this way. Adlibs are just great they are the improve songs they do each shows and are quite often hilarious. Also you really want the two bonus tracks; “What a Letdown” is one of my favorite of their new songs.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Congrats! a link to the article now appears on our Myspace Profile page.

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