Patrick’s Picks – The Burr

Patrick’s Picks – The Burr

This is a blog I am now working on with a legitimate publication at Kent State University—The Burr. I am working with a great team, including photographers, designers and editors.  Local music to international music will be covered.

Here is the blog description:

“Music is a powerful art form.I love discovering new music in albums and concerts, while noticing the intricacies that give music its creative juice. Whether it be a complex guitar riff or a catchy beat, a deep lyric or a ridiculous one, I am always paying attention. I want to share with you my musical discoveries, past and present.”

John Frusciante: Outsides

by Patrick Williams

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John Frusciante’s extended play Outsides isn’t due for release until August 27, but some copies were accidentally shipped early and Outsides has made its way online as a lot of music does before its formal release date.

Most people know John Frusciante best as guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers, which he played with on two separate stints and on iconic albums such as Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication. What people may not know about Frusciante is that he has 11 albums and 5 EP’s (including Outsides) of his own and has played with The Mars Volta, Wu-Tang Clan and George Clinton, among others.

Frusciante has tried his hand at a variety of musical styles and Outsides is his take on modern classical.

Making forward moving, full sounding music without resorting to any familiar musical relationships of harmony to serve as a basis has been a goal of mine for quite a while,” Frusciante wrote on his website.

And that is exactly what he does. Take the track “Breathiac,” for instance. Clocking in at under three minutes, the track is an avant-garde expression with at least three distinguishable parts. It includes quick drum fills and acid beats as well as both electric and acoustic guitar. The result is eerie, making the track seems longer than it actually is.

“Same” is the standout track, a 10 minute guitar solo that goes through a multitude of styles and effects and is set to sometimes-pausing drums. Besides the careful arranging and production, Frusciante’s guitar is the premier spectacle of this elaborate work. It is the adhesive that holds together and outshines all of the other elements.

“Shelf” is propelled by dreamy keyboards and synthesizer and is refracted by a blues guitar solo. The track loses its momentum until Frusciante sings a commendable verse.

Outsides starts off extremely song with “Same” and ends mediocre with “Shelf.” The bonus track “Sol” will be a refreshment for those who have it. The track is the most recognizable as classical in its entirety while incorporating new elements that don’t take away from or distort it. The EP is interesting to say the least and anyone who appreciates musical diversity like this should take a listen.

Eureka The Butcher: Music For Mothers

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Eureka The Butcher, better known as Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, keyboardist/percussionist of The Mars Volta and drummer of Zechs Marquise, released his first album of solo material titled Music For Mothers.

On Music For Mothers, Eureka The Butcher juggles between long-lost world music and more familiar club-type beats. The album as a whole is quite interesting and some of the tracks are very good, but it is by no means a masterpiece.

Like The Mars Volta and Zechs Marquise, Eureka The Butcher has a sharp, piercing attack, an element of darkness and frequent shifts in melody and rhythm. Rodriguez-Lopez uses these shifts at the end of each song to build into the next. As a result, he creates a musical quilt of Halloween nostalgia, hip-hop beats and Puerto Rican nationalism.

“The Home Stretch” is like a soundtrack for a dozen different movies. The melody is in part slow and dreamy and the beat is simultaneously quick and unapologetic. Mid-track, it shifts into a seemingly unrelated mournful tune and, seconds later, back into the same quick, danceable beat.

“Heavy Programming” begins with calm lounge-y jazz and turns into a frantic fiesta gone awry. If you’re looking for a good example of modern Latin electronic music to add to your collection of strange but good non-essentials, here’s a good one.

It is obvious when Rodriguez-Lopez misses his mark, though, as with “Swag Shit” and “Main Frame.” These tracks offer little more than the electronic music made by teenagers in their parents’ basements. But because most of Music For Mothers is thoughtful, good-hearted experimentation, it would be a blessing if more teenagers in their parents’ basements and other people took a listen to support this hardworking and creative musician.

The Beatles: Let It Be… Naked

By Patrick Williams

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In conjunction with the iTunes release and (almost) 10-year anniversary of Paul McCartney’s remixed and remastered version of Let It Be, titled Let It Be… Naked, I feel that it would be interesting to compare the two versions.

What I have written are simple observations that I gathered by listening to Let It Be… Naked one time through.

“Get Back” – I never noticed John’s backup singing before. Spector may have removed that completely on the original.

“Dig a Pony” – Preston’s organ is much more noticeable. The lead guitar is quieter and raunchier sounding. Lennon’s vocal range is exemplified.

“For You Blue” – George’s singing is crisper and Ringo’s snare is louder. The slide guitar is quieter and the acoustic guitar is louder, giving it an earthier sound.

“The Long and Winding Road” – This is the most obvious change between versions. Paul’s piano arpeggios and the piano was taken out in the original. Spector added a string section that isn’t on the Naked album. The reverberated guitar was also taken out, or at least brought to a very low volume.

“Two of Us” – Besides from the removal of John’s exclaiming “I dig a pygmy…” quote at the beginning, there are other differences. One is Paul’s singing, which is dominant on the original during the duet section with John and is even louder on the Naked version. The acoustic guitar was amplified much more on the original. The bass is predominant here.

“I’ve Got a Feeling” – The arpeggio guitar is quieter. The drums are louder. The piano is louder. I didn’t notice John’s duet singing as much on the original of this one either. Paul’s singing is much louder here. John’s singing part is again, more ranging. The lead guitar (sounds like George) at the end is much louder.

“One After 909” – The guitar is louder. John does some call-and-response with himself that was taken out of the original. His voice is raspier. It’s powerful.

“Don’t Let Me Down” (Added) – Lennon’s singing is better. Spector may have had some sort of problem with his voice because he seems to have edited it so much. It is one of the best things about the band. The Guitar was quieted down. Guitar parts were taken out in the middle.

“I Me Mine” – The lead guitar parts are crunchier (especially at the beginning) and the piano and organ are louder.

“Across the Universe” – John’s singing is more flowing and natural-sounding. I’m not sure if George is playing sitar. It sounds like he is. I always thought that all of the background noise was edited in by Spector. It is obvious that the band was going for an ethereal sound.

“Let it Be” – The piano is quieter. The background singers sound more like people and less like machines. It is clear that Spector edited their voices on the original. Some of the George’s guitar right before the solo was taken out too. The solo itself is wide-ranging on the Naked version. There is also more of George’s playing toward the end that was taken out on the original.

Omitted – “Maggie Mae,” “Dig It”

Atoms for Peace: Amok

by Patrick Williams

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Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s mastery of making electronic music has led to a liberation of sorts for the genre. It is ironically becoming more accessible to a variety of listeners for its increase of humane themes.

Yorke’s side project Atoms for Peace—consisting of Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, drummer Joey Waronker (R.E.M., Beck), percussionist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You) and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, released their debut album, Amok, on Jan. 25.

Yorke basically arranged the whole album himself. So, naturally Amok more closely resembles Yorke’s solo album The Eraser than anything Radiohead has ever done. It is electronic throughout, as opposed to many Radiohead songs that use many but far less electronics. Amok, at the same time, uses more live instrumentation than The Eraser.

The main idea is that Atoms for Peace is not Radiohead nor is it just Thom Yorke. Listeners of Atoms’ previously released singles “Default” and “Judge, Jury and Executioner” already have an idea what the band is about.

“Default” uses excessive and jabbing electronic and live drumming percussion throughout, making it one of the most rhythmically melodic tracks out there—not to mention the synthesizer and distorted bass. Yorke’s aforementioned music mastery is in full force in that his soothing vocals (“I laugh now”) take precedence over the pulsing instrumentation, not the other way around.

“Dropped” is faster and more reverb-soaked then most of the other tracks on the album. It has much more of a traditional, boring 80s electronic sound, especially during the chorus. “Dropped” isn’t as personal as the rest of the album, although it tightens up towards the end. The consistently best part is the bass line.

Flea’s bass is, as one could imagine, much more staccato on Amok than on the Chili Peppers’ albums. The funk flavor is still there, though. It provides a solid juxtaposition with Yorke’s vocal scatting and fierce instrumental arrangements.

Flea lays down an unforgettable bass line on “Stuck Together Pieces.” What may be the most surprising thing about the track is Yorke’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”-like guitar playing and layered solos. It is powerful that Yorke chooses to wait until the album is halfway over to begin to really show off his guitar skills.

The title and last track, Amok, combines Yorke’s piano, distorted hums and whispery vocals with Waronker and Refosco’s clacking percussion and drums to emphasize the simultaneous feelings of spaciousness and complexity present on the album. Flea’s bass loops and Godrich finalizes it all so nicely. Just in the last minute, Amok winds like a spinning top and all perceptions of time are lost in the confusion and there is suddenly nothing left to do but to listen again.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away

by Patrick Williams

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Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds invoke the feelings of walking down a desolate path on a freezing and dark night on their new album “Push the Sky Away”.

Almost all of the parts of this album that aren’t just downright creepy are still saddening.

On “Water’s Edge”, Cave cuts deep with his lyrics about sinful children—himself narrating callously like a homeless passerby rubbing his hands next to a burning oil drum in an alleyway. “It’s the will of love, It’s the chill of love, Ah but the thrill of love,” he aches.

“Yeah you know we real cool” Cave passionately sings over Martyn P. Casey’s thumping bass and violinist Warren Ellis’s overpowering bowing on “We Real Cool”. It would seem strange if anyone else sang that with such conviction, but Cave pulls it off. He’s been pushing the boundaries of alternative music for decades.

Aside from the obvious themes of fear and dread that are present, there are little pieces of hope sprinkled throughout the album. Because these moments are still oddly layered instrumentally and lyrically ambiguous, they help accentuate Cave and the Seeds’ strange and beautiful destiny.

Perhaps the best examples of this fulfillment of destiny are on “Jubilee Street” and “Finishing Jubilee Street”. The rhythms are tight and the guitar arpeggios are in your face.

Cave’s lyrics, matched with the band’s solid groove, on “Higgs Boson Blues” are terrific — making mention of everything including Robert Johnson and Hannah Montana.

There’s so much here that with every listen brings more entertainment

NickCaveTV uploaded the lyric videos for all of the songs off of “Push the Sky Away” on YouTube.

Coheed and Cambria: The Afterman: Descension

by Patrick Williams

Coheed and Cambria’s The Afterman: Descension starts off with acoustic guitar and ukulele arpeggios and blasts off into space with a robotic-sounding countdown in the track “Pretelethal.”

The most impressive thing about this album is the fact that the band still can achieve the perfect blend of slow and melancholy material and the driven progressive riffs, solos and drum fills that make them so destructive. The technique and rhythm change so unexpectedly that it’s hard to believe that not everybody could appreciate some element of this band’s artistry.

Singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez has a wonderful voice, which is evident in all of Coheed’s albums, but there has always been a seemingly strange combination of his simple and magnetic singing and his over-commercialized scream-singing that post-hardcore singers like to use so much.

Descension’s previously released track “The Hard Sell” is perhaps the most straightforward on the whole album except for the solo middle section, which sounds very much like David Gilmour’s playing on Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust.” This is one of the best moments on the album.

Another track that stands out is “Number City.” It is probably the poppiest song on the album, yet the way it is mixed in with the electronica sound and the featured horn section is undeniably genius.

“This Cursed Iron Fist” is a beautiful love song. “God damn this cursed iron fist, when I lose control, oh no” Sanchez mourns over acoustic bass and trip-hop beats. Then comes Sanchez’s Sting-like scatting followed by a strong build.

There are a few moments on the album that sound stale, but overall it is structured well and it bangs.