Monthly Archives: January 2011

OKBye! – FIRE EXIT – 2011


I’m writing this review in real time. There is a reason why. I have no idea what the hell Fire Exit is. I’ve never heard their music. I’ve never heard of them. I don’t approach them with a preconceived notion of what their music might be. Or what they look like. Or sound like. “Fire Exit-OKBye!” is an unopened zip file that’s there on my desktop, offering promise or peril. A classic Schrodinger’s cat, this.

So, I see the artwork. Good news here. It’s five Indian kids who look like Indian kids clearly under no illusion that they are not white-working class redneck truckers. And what’s this? A cover that displays a Tata truck?

More and more, Indian bands have the courage to be Indian. Good.

Good.

So let’s start. The first song in any album, especially debut albums, has to be the most radio friendly. Think ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ and even – sadly – ‘Ice Ice Baby’. So, right on cue, we have ‘Waiting For’, with a bass-guitar doodle reminding me of ‘By the way’. Singer Subhadra has a smooth, if not terribly distinctive voice. The shakers and tupperware percussion works very well. The song builds slowly, propelled by the sound of a good hard pick on a bass (or at least it sounds like that).  I like this first song. I LIKE IT!! It’s distinctive, with a smooth-jazz attention to arrangement.  Unfortunately, things slide a little bit from here on.

‘Poison Ivy’ is let down by the guitar riffing. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s not delivered with conviction and feel. Further, I found the tabla and guitar jugalbandi to be a bit forced. That said, the idea itself is a good one, and deserves a second go. Same is the problem with ‘The Spark’. It is a good song let down by a slight lack of conviction in the riffing.

But don’t worry guys. One of the best albums of last decade By the Way, went by without nary a heavy riff to be heard. In fact, I think that’s a good starting point for this music. This is a mellow rock record, and I like it for its lack of pretention. It’s By the Way’s melodic bits + Porcupine Tree guitars + sincere vocals. Vox Subhadra does not have a voice that’s out of this world, but I realize that she ­really­ makes you want to listen to the lyrics. It’s all well thought out, if not particularly original lyrics, delivered with a soothing croon and yes, sincerity. A bit like Alanis Morissette stripped of the penis envy, then. She is the band’s big strength.

By the time ‘Heroes’ came along though, I realized that there is another problem. The tabla here is a bit like having an oboe in a metal band. He comes in sometimes, but then just sort of peters out. My suggestion, guys: either incorporate the tabla better in ALL the rhythms, or don’t bother. The song otherwise is quite nice, led by a nice little finger-picked guitar riff.

Now, usually the reason why tabla won’t fit into such a band is simply because the rest of the instruments are completely western and played in a western sort of way. Fusion almost seems like a dirty word. ‘MML’ seeks to redress this balance, led as it is with a bass riff attempting an Indian raga facsimile. I was hopeful this would be the track where the tabla player would redress the chronic underuse and under incorporation of his instrument. He manages it only partially, with a short solo section and and an intro, while the band slips comfortably back into the comforting arms of AOR accessibility. My point stands.

But I’ll be an optimist, though. This is a good start. It is not a meteor shooting through the night sky, but it is a gentle cloud with a special tint. I do think that the template for this band is set. They have an AOR sound with Porcupine Tree/John Mayer like production, and emphasis on ­­songs and melodies and thought out lyrics. All good. But despite the smooth vocal-jazz like production, a few rough edges remain. The tabla and the lack of great riffs is a jarring point. The Chili Peppers counteract this by having Flea lay down some bitchin’ bass riffs. A bit more rock would be welcome. More crunch on the bass would also add some balls too, compared to the current wandering hippo sound. Finally, more memorable melodies would set these guys well on their way. So in the final totting up, this sounds quite right.

- El Bajista

More DESI ROCK reviews HERE.

 

 


promo-> A/J – COLORS


So its like this. A/J, whose debut album I have previously reviewed HERE. His sound is one of Floydian backing tracks with ear-filling single note bass, with his guitar flying high over-head. Quite the tapestry. Well, for all you lucky dicks, I have the basic tracks for his next album coming out sometime this year, called Colors.

The idea for the album comes from- as the name suggests- various colors and their musical equivalent. That said, which track corresponds to which color depends on A/J, to be honest, and we will keep announcing all such advancements on our facebook group HERE. Follow us.

Now the stuff that I actually got to review were unfinished demos that A/J had. What that means is not-Phil spector-production, incomplete basslines etc. Even so, I have a few impressions to get ‘em out, and have the opportunity to see a work-in-progress albums and moot upon its strengths and weaknesses.

The name of the album comes from various colors and their musical equivalents.

First up, it seems A/J did read my review from last time, and there is much more straight up melody than in the last one. There relatively a lot more meandering there. This one has more structure to the melody. A/J is clearly moving forward. There also a much greater emphasis on basslines, such as in ‘Three four’. If there is one thing this world needs, it’s more basslines. The fat ass strumming on ‘It’s Muddy Out There’ is another step in the direction of bottoms up. Compare it to the last one, where the bass parts were dictated by the guitar parts and provided the sort of halo to the sound that Adam Clayton manages in U2. And on some songs, such as ‘Tree Top Green’, there is even some evidence of slapping! Nothing like a technique to change articulation and sound.

The electric guitar tone is the midpoint between Jeff Beck and Steve Vai. The acoustic tone is a DI sort of sound devoid of acoustic ‘noises’. Such treatment works very well for A/J’s music which is of the produced and layered sort. It’s used to great effect on “Rustic Waves”, which has got a great riff, which would do really well with some more structuring. That said, the rough edged soloing is not bad at all, and makes for some great improvised sound reminiscent of early Cooder and Beck.

What is great, and good news, is that none of the songs start alike or have the same vibe. ‘Nocturnal Dream’ (heh, dirty joke), has a darker vibe than just about everything else on this album. ‘Floating Vibe’ is a romantic song waiting to happen. Same is the case with great cuts such as ‘Inner Space’, ‘It’s Muddy Out There’ and so on and so forth. Its far from schizophrenic though. It’s the layered Porcupine Tree-like sound which defines this album and A/J music in general, and I’m looking forward to more.

Watch out for more updates on our Facebook page HERE.


Strange Days-THE DOORS-1967


Today I continue with the list of albums that changed the way I listen to music. We’ve had a prog rock album in my top 5, one thrash metal album, and now I shall talk, nay, rave, about the immortal Doors.It is like you just reached another, more open world..............

Doors are a cultural landscape all by themselves, and largely due to the charisma and voice of Jim Morrison. I need not write anything about how Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek met and how they started gigging at the famous/infamous Whisky-a-go-go, pardon me if I didn’t get that right, I have never been to L.A and can’t bother opening Wikipedia right now because I am drunk and just don’t care. I am not a one for facts you know? So there were X people in the band and shit happened. BOoo………..

You know what? I find it unfair that people talk so much and worship Morrison to the exclusion of all else. HELLO, what about the lush/ atmospheric keyboards of Ray? What about the heavenly hippie/warm guitar of Robbie Kreiger? What about the jazzy, rainy, almost silent background formed by John Densmore on the drums? What about them, eh? Yes, the god like baritone, the casual explicit line dropping, all that belongs to Jim Morrison. But what the hell about the background, eh? No doubt that Morrison just watched the other guys create atmosphere and then stepped into the spotlight and made the song all about him i.e. hippiness, casual sex, the infiniteness of the universe, the stupidity and monotony created by morality etc. But then we do have the other awesome guys.

In any case, Strange Days is the most awesome album they ever made. Not that the other albums were not awesome, they were. But this album is the place where they really…….aww…I don’t know. Whatever. Except for Horse Latitudes every song is one more addition to your list of “Songs I have to listen to when high.”

I am high. I am high and listening to the Doors. And when the music is over, please turn out the lights.

When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear to man as they truly are…infinite.

i.e. There is no ultimate truth. The hippies lost but they were right. You can wait around, invest, marry, fuck, practice religion, worship Jesus, Allah.,….its bullshit. No one put us on Earth. No one told us to be “moral”.

We want the earth, and we want it…we want it…….we want it NOW……..!!!!!!

-Baba T

 


Rust in Peace-MEGADETH-1990


This is the album that permanently changed the way I thought thrash metal should be practiced. Yes, I had heard Metallica before, but this was it. The adrenaline rush in the breakdown and buildup sections of Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, the pure unadulterated catchiness of Tornado of Souls…..this is the essential thrash album. If there are only three thrash albums that you ever have to own, then they have to be Reign in Blood, Master of Puppets and this one. While the atonal hardcore leanings of Slayer gave rise to death, and the symphonic thrash stylings of Metallica continued the chapters of progressive rock, Rust in Peace’s pure thrash catchiness and melodic lead solos captured the essence of thrash – fun and loving it. If there is a true successor to Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast, then this has to be it, especially if you hear tracks like Hangar 18.

Megadeth has never been a very consistent band, in fact I would be hard put to name any Megadeth album that I can hear in one go, including this one. Tracks like Take No Prisoners are fun but showcase the side of Megadeth that I don’t really dig that much. It reminds me of Judas Priest in the British Steel era, and I am not talking of Breaking the Law either. I am talking of songs like United. Therefore we have drop in quality in the middle of the album with tracks which are almost consumed alive by the rest of the brilliant tracks. Notwithstanding all of that, even Dave Mustaine accepts that this was his band’s high point. If anyone of you are interested check out the Big 4 Concert DVD held in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Now that I have named almost every metal album that I have ever heard, I can conclude this review.

Recommended Tracks – Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, Hangar 18, Tornado of Souls, Rust in Peace.Polaris, Dawn Patrol.

-Baba T

 


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