It’s week 43 of 2019 and I’m downloading music from the Tidal streaming service exclusively. Each week I sample the first 2 track of every new release on the service. If those 2 tracks are good I listen to the full record and then most of what I listen to you’ll see a review on below. If those 2 tracks don’t interest me then I move on.
Editor’s note: Got a couple questions where my reviews for 10/11/19 were and the answer is, there aren’t any. The releases on 10/11 were simply the shittiest set of albums of the year, so I didn’t waste any time. But this week surely made up for it.
- Album: Stone Temple Pilots – Purple (Remastered Deluxe Edition)
- Previous knowledge: Everything (Tidal Catalog #64)
- Review: I don’t normally review deluxe editions of records but since Stone Temple Pilots are my third favorite artist of all time and this is my favorite album from them, I was stoked for this baby to come out and it doesn’t let down at all.
In terms of the regular record, I thought Brendan O’Brien did a great job producing it originally but even so, with new technology, the music sounds so dynamic. “Vasoline” is one of my favorite tracks of all time and those unique opening riffs really blow the house down now. Eric Kretz’s fantastic drumming is really dynamic on “Lounge Fly” and twin rock attack of “Unglued” and “Army Ants” are truly brought alive with the new mastering. If you’re thinking about buying the disc just for it though, you’d have to know the album really well to have it make that much of a difference to you. But if you’re buying it for the extras, well, okay then….
The second disc is comprised of demo recordings of the songs on the record, showing how raw the tunes started out and while I’m not usually a fan of the gibberish guide vocals, it’s interesting to hear how Scott Weiland formed the melodies of the tracks but didn’t have real lyrics yet – like on “Meatplow” where he has part of the chorus down but everything else is just him establishing the cadence. And I just love hearing the early version of “Interstate Love Song” where at one point the music and Scott’s guide vocals don’t lineup at all and you can hear him pause and regroup.
The third disc contains a pretty great concert recording from New Haven, CT in 1994 on the Purple tour. At this point, they still only had two albums out, so you get all the tracks from the record live, except for “Kitchenware & Candybars” and all the best songs from Core. Thankfully, in retrospect, the band can pick out a concert where Scott wasn’t a fucking trainwreck – which made for a fascinating live show but probably not the best to put on disc as a release.
Die-hards like me, go ahead, get a physical version. Worth every penny. If you’re a casual fan, stream it.
- Rating: Original album remastered 10/10, Bonus Material 9.0/10
- Album: Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
- Previous knowledge: Everything
- Review: Like clockwork since their second album in 1996, you can bank on a new Jimmy Eat World record every three years. And every three years, personally, I look forward to one. I’d often wondered if the band would have been bigger than they are if they had followed up 2001’s Bleed American, in a quicker manner than they did. Jimmy Eat World perfectly captured the indie rock to major label movement in the early 2000s and was a key band in defining emo-culture in the decade. While Dashboard Confessional was the slow, sad version of emo, Jimmy Eat world was the rock version but still vulnerable and able to appeal to a mass audience. 2004’s Futures, while a great album, didn’t have the same impact as the previous record as there was no immediately great single and the musical climate was already starting to change and potentially leave them behind. Understandably, there’s not many bands making the same music that Jimmy Eat World is right now and thus, a future hit record seems unlikely at this point but if you’re a fan, you can certainly appreciate that Jimmy Eat World continues to put out very consistent records, both sounding like you’d expect and pushing a few boundaries for themselves now and again – like the saxophone in “All the Way (Stay).”
But look, liking a Jimmy Eat World record comes down to if you liked Jimmy Eat World in the first place. I can’t picture the band is making new fans at this point but each record has been good enough to keep the band’s fans coming back for more. Despite the fact that that it seems like the band is kind of stuck in the mid-2000s, the music continues to be pretty damn fantastic. And Surviving is the best album since Bleed American. My only drawbacks to some of the last few albums is that they tended to get a little too slow and depressing at times. That doesn’t happen here. While there are a couple of tunes that are on the slower slide, even one of those (“Recommit”) is a slow burn that kicks in half way through the track to be a pretty epic rock song. The first half of the 10-song disc is fill with a bunch of great rock songs, it’s the last three tracks you need to hold out for. “Love Never” has this pretty awesome buzzsaw guitar riff that hasn’t been heard from the band before. Then there’s the aforementioned “Recommit” before ending the disc with another slow burner in “Congratulations.” The album closer starts off with a subdued rock energy that seems to be busting at the seams waiting to explode in a wave of guitars. Around the halfway point in this six minute tune, the song changes to just a creeping bass line before the band brings the rest of the instruments back in…before dropping the bomb in the final minute of the tune, with fierce guitar hooks, almost metal in nature or something like Rush put out on Clockwork Angels. It may very well be their most unique and best song in their catalog – which definitely pushes this album over the edge for me.
- Rating: 10/10
- Album: Third Eye Blind – Screamer
- Previous knowledge: Everything
- Review: Well, I’ll lead with it…Screamer has served to vault 3EB into my top 10 artists of all time. This is only their sixth full length record since their debut in 1997 but also the first since singer Stephan Jenkins came out and said the band would never make another full length record so they could focus on EPs that are more digestible by the masses. That lasted a whopping two EPs. In an interview posted on Trib Live, Jenkins also stated there would be “no smoothed-out edges” and he wanted to “keep it weird,” which is odd, since this record is both as “smoothed-out” as some of their best material and also, not very weird at all (well, there is a trap song on this one, so I give him that. Yes. That’s not a typo. Trap). In fact, it’s catchy as fuck, which is exactly what makes Third Eye Blind themselves after all. And Jenkins manages to make a sparkling 3EB power pop record with a band that’s almost completely different from the original group with only drummer, Brad Hargreaves still around from the first record. I know many people who simply hate “Semi-Charmed Life” with a damn passion but for me, the self-titled record and follow up, Blue, are two of the greatest power pop records of all time. And despite Jenkins proclamations of things that I simply don’t hear on the disc, the music speaks louder than all and the music is vintage Third Eye Blind. You know, except the trap. And album has to be good for me to not knock it completely for that bit of silliness.
- Rating: 9.5/10
- Album: G-Eazy – Scary Nights
- Previous knowledge: Singles, a few albums…enough
- Review: I’m going soft in my old age, I think. I feel like I would have normally had some issue with Gerald and his rapping, which I really don’t remember thinking fondly of in the past. But Scary Nights is a fantastic EP. I continue to have the thought process that albums like these are better than they really are to my ears because they simply aren’t trap but sometimes good is just good. I guess I’m old school in that I like to understand the lyrics, I still like a good chorus and I like authenticity. And I like variety on my hip hop records. With trap, the art of creating a unique beat seems to be lost. And then artists like G-Eazy get labeled as “alternative hip-hop” now, even though five years ago this album would have just been a normal hip-hop record. When the fat, lame white dude (me) starts bouncing in aisle 4 of the supermarket to a rap album (re: I’m old), you are either out of touch or have made an album that any rap fan can enjoy – and to make myself feel better, I’m going with the latter. Lead single “I Wanna Rock” does indeed mix rock and hip-hop together but I’m focused on “Full Time Cappers” with Money Bagg Yo and French Montana and “K I D S” with Dex Lauper as the two tracks that really make this EP for me. Overall, this is an easily digestible hip-hop album for the masses that doesn’t make me feel like the artist sold out at all.
- Rating: 9/10
- Album: White Reaper – You Deserve Love
- Previous knowledge: None
- Review: Two thumbs up for a blend of garage and glam rock with power pop in 2019. I’m not sure what to compare White Reaper with right now – they have a decidedly vintage garage rock, 70’s base to them, while mixing with a robust, huge current pop sound. And then a track like “Might Be Right” has an element of 80’s new wave mixed in. So with this, White Reaper have created this amazing concoction of music that sounds incredibly familiar and yet wholly unique at the same time, which is pretty damn hard to do.
- Rating: 9.5/10
Albums ranked 10/10 so far in 2019 (ordered only by release date)
- Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr
- Emily King – Scenery
- Good Fuck – Good Fuck
- The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
- UB40 – For the Many
- Griz – Ride Waves
- Pup – Morbid Stuff
- Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
- Howard Jones – Transform
- Mavis Staples – We Get By
- Prince – Originals
- Yeasayer – Erotic Returns
- Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn off the News (Build a Garden)
- Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants of the Sun
- The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
- K. Flay – Solutions
- Tuxedo – Tuxedo III
- Dorian Electra – Flamboyant
- My Life Story – World Citizen
- Bedouin Soundclash – MASS
- Jimmy Eat World – Surviving