Wow, what a quiet week for music, both new and reissued. As I’ve noted before, it’s a good week to pick up those things you didn’t get around to before.
Schoolyard Heroes: Fantastic Wounds – I reviewed the young Heroes’ last album, The Funeral Sciences, last year and found it to be a refreshing change of pace from all the angsty teen melodrama that’s forced down music buyer’s throats. Tinges of metal-greats past such as Iron Maiden with a PJ Harvey-esque vocalist at the helm, this is certainly not aimed at the OC-loving crowd. I would expect more of the same on this new release.
Engineers – Self-titled debut from this UK act that I can’t find much about. You try looking up “engineers” on Google and see what you get – not much useful info on the band. AllMusicGuide provides some samples of their dreamy, slow-motion pop.
Porcupine Tree: Up the Downstair – The first “real” Porcupine Tree album (On the Sunday of Life being a collection of oddities) gets a serious facelift more than a decade after it was first released. Steven Wilson, essentially the man behind the whole thing, wisely decided to replace the album’s cheap-sounding drum programming with real drumming courtesy of current PT drummer Chris Maitland, then extensively cleaned up the sound in general with a remix and a few spots of new guitar parts. The result is a stunningly powerful “new” album that easily stands up next to their latest release, Deadwing. This is one of those times when a reissue is a MUST-HAVE item for anyone who enjoys the band.
Bruce Dickinson: Tattooed Millionaire (Deluxe), Balls to Picasso (Deluxe), Skunkworks (Deluxe), Accident of Birth (Deluxe), Chemical Wedding (Deluxe), and Alive – Hot on the heels of his extremely strong new album, Tyranny of Souls (reviewed here by Blogcritics’ MuzikMan,) Sanctuary shoves out a load of good stuff for fans by adding a bunch of non-album stuff to each previous solo release. The best thing about these is that they went all out – these are separate discs with a significant amount of extra stuff in most cases. The only offerings that differ from the rest are the more recent Chemical Wedding, which simply gets three tracks tacked on to the end of the album, and Alive, which is a repackaging of Bruce’s two live releases (the double CD Alive in Studio A and the single disc Scream for Me Brazil) into one cheap package. Each album has been remastered and features extra artwork and liner notes plus a nice glossy slipcase for the jewelcases. I picked up my favorite Dickinson album today – the overlooked Skunkworks – and can vouch for the package’s greatness. Disc two has all of the single b-sides that I could never find, plus the equally hard to find Skunkworks Live 4-track live EP that I also never found. The bonus non-album tracks are surprisingly fun – opener “I’m in a Band with an Italian Drummer” showcase’s the band’s humor and a surprisingly successful nod to Frank Zappa while “R101″ is an obvious ode to Led Zeppelin’s acoustic side. Definitely a good deal and a highly recommended upgrade for Maiden and Dickinson fans alike. (Amazon is not showing Tattooed Millionaire as being available, but it is – look elsewhere online or locally.) Now if only we could get him to release the long-out-of-print videos Dive Dive Live and the Japan-only Skunkworks Live on DVD . . .