Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekly Musical Roundup & News

So, I've been in distribution hell since launching Through Darkness and Stars earlier this week. Distribution hell is basically what it sounds like: contacting eBook distributors and negotiating for hosting or linking of the story. It's not very hard to do, but it does take a little time, and it gets repetitive. However, I'm nearly done with my list of distributors!

Likewise, I've also now got an official Facebook page for the Omniverse series, and I'll be permalinking it somewhere on the site soon. The Facebook page even allows me to be able to interact with readers.

Hope to see you there soon!

Story Of The Year: The Constant

I’m really on the fence about SOTY’s latest. I mean, ‘The Constant’ opens with a solid (and quintessential SOTY) anthem, “The Children’s Song”, and they keep up the pressure and the desperate intensity throughout…but it’s just so much like the rest of these medium-venue Rock acts out there, with trebled-up guitar work, repeating hooks and balladeering vocals…it sounds like every Emo and Post-Hardcore band I’ve seen since beginning work for CONFRONT Magazine, four years ago.

I’ve listened to this one several times over the last few days, and I have to admit that I just stop paying attention a couple of songs in. Every now and again a lyric from one of their half-heard songs sparks my attention, but it’s not long after that their Rock interpretation turns into background noise, again. It’s not that I wanted to tune it out; it’s just that ‘The Constant’ really doesn’t do it for me

That being said, I’m sure they put on one hell of a live show, because there’s not a single song on this album that isn’t tailor made for the obligatory “I’m-going-to-stop-singing-and-dangle-the-mic-over-the-audience-so-they-can-sing” portion of the show. Is it contrived? Is it just the kind of music these guys like? I don’t know. But I also don’t care.

Story Of The Year are all capable, talented musicians. The album is capably produced and the songs are all very tight, very well performed. There’s a sincerity to the effort, but earnest delivery just doesn’t make up for the fact that it just sounds too much like every thing else in the genre.

Seriously, in this day and age aren’t we past the need to churn out so much cookie-cutter, pre-fab music?

Story Of The Year: The Constant
Steve’s Rating: 6/10

Massive Attack: Heligoland

I have to admit that I was thrown by the latest – and long, long awaited – ‘Heligoland’ from Massive Attack. See, although I’ve been a fan of Massive Attack for – Holy SHIT almost twenty years – I’ve never actually listened to one of their albums from start to finish.

No, I’m more of a fan of their singles; the groovy, sexy Massive Attack songs that got me laid back in the 1990s…Okay; the Massive Attack songs that were SUPPOSED to get me laid back in the 1990s. So, used to songs like “Dissolved Girl” and “Teardrop” or “Angel” or “Black Milk” or any other of their awesome and SMEXXY songs, I was surprised as I listened to ‘Heligoland’.

It IS different from their previous releases. Gone are the big beat electronics; this one is minimalist, with discordant sounds and very bleak overtones. The sensuous drum rhythms are still there, but this is more chill out music than make out music. It’s all still very good, but ‘Heligoland’ might not be the Massive Attack CD you want to put on if you’re trying to get your freak on. Aurally, I’m reminded of Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’ for the dreary minimalism. However, unlike the disappointing follow up to ‘Kid A’, ‘Heligoland’ does not disappoint.

The list of artists who’ve collaborated on this disc reads like a virtual who’s who of avant-garde Trip Hop and Alternative music, including Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio; Damon Albarn from Gorillaz; Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Adrian Utley of Portishead.

The opener, “Pray For Rain” sets the strange tone, though the grim sexy on this disc reaches its apex on ‘Splitting The Atom’. There is some good old-school Massive Attack grooves on songs like “Girl I Love You”, “Paradise Circus” and “Saturday Come Slow”, but this album does not dwell on the past.

Now at first you, like me, might find yourself out of sorts over the difference shift on ‘Heligoland’. You might even feel a bit let down, but I promise you that if you keep listening to this one, really pay attention and you’ll wonder how you doubted it. Let there be no doubt: Massive Attack are back, and ready to start their third decade of setting the bar for Trip-Hop tracks.

Massive Attack: Heligoland
Steve’s Rating: 10/10