Almost 3 years later…

…dang!! Somehow I stumbled upon my blog today. It’s been that long since I made an entry. Life has changed. I met a woman, got married, and have a stable job.

I have achieved few of my goals that I had in mind for the 30s. I got to find a time to write blogs about music album reviews. It’s my soul man, my outlet.

 

 


Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

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After the magnificent Siamese Dream made them superstars, the Smashing Pumpkins came back a mere two years later with this sprawling double album. Though decried by critics as being too “pretentious” and containing too much filler, I don’t find the band guilty on either count. First of all, the band simply sport grand ambitions and are one of the few bands around today that actually dares to be great; if that makes them pretentious then so be it. Secondly, I only see one weak song (“Tales Of A Scorched Earth”) among the 28 here (almost all of which were written by lead Pumpkin Billy Corgan), making this not only easily the best album of 1995 but a decade defining monument that’s one of my favorite albums of all-time.

Much more of a band effort than its infamously Corgan dominated predecessor, this is a rawer, more spontaneous effort that shows off all of the Pumpkins’ many sides, as they expand their sonic palette and rely less on the soft-to-loud dynamics that had previously been their trademark. Though the angsty (detractors would say “whiny”) lyrics are at times embarrassing, they’re also often memorable, and besides, it is the band’s spectacular sound that most matters, though Corgan’s unique voice, presented here in a less processed form, is still to many an acquired taste. Dreamy, angelic synth/piano pieces (“Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness,” “Cupid de Locke”) stand beside sparse pretties (“Take Me Down,” “Stumbleine,” “Farewell and Goodnight”) and soaring ballads with sweeping orchestrations (“Tonight Tonight,” “Galapogos”), while fabulous prog rock epics (“Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans,” “Thru The Eyes Of Ruby”) fit snugly alongside explosive/soaring hard rock (“Jellybelly,” “Here Is No Why,” “Love,” “Muzzle,” “Bodies”), raging heavy metal (“Zero,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Ode To No One,” “X.Y.U.”), breezy pop perfection (“1979”), moody, emotional balladry (“Thirty-Three,” “In The Arms Of Sleep,” “By Starlight”), and lightly catchy sing alongs (“We Only Come Out At Night,” “Beautiful”).

The amazing end result encompasses everything that was great about alternative rock in the mid ’90s, as this well-balanced collection of songs can be both inconceivably beautiful and fragile, and deliberately ugly and abrasive, sometimes within the same song! Mellon Collie contains the bands prettiest ballads as well as their heaviest rockers (really, what more could a fan want?), with too many great moments to mention, and this smartly paced, all over the place masterpiece has been in heavy rotation on my stereo ever since its release. A Physical Graffiti for the ‘90s, this magical album was a brilliant band triumph that sold like hotcakes and briefly made the Smashing Pumpkins the biggest band in the world.


Wasting Light

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When did the Foo Fighters become this classic band? I’m not exactly sure, but they’re as much if not more of a radio presence, both on current and “classic” stations, as hipper bands such as Nirvana. I still think they’re a great singles band who make merely good to very good albums, but this album definitely falls in the “very good” category, and there’s no denying the number of first class individual songs the band has released over the years.

If you’re not a fan, I suggest you check out the excellent Back and Forth documentary that was released in conjunction with the promotion for this album. It documents the recording sessions for the album but also presents a thorough career overview, warts and all, but I know that I gained a further appreciation for the Foo Fighters as a band and the band as individuals after watching it. Anyway, back to this album, which was recorded by old friend Butch Vig (who remember had produced Nirvana’s Nevermind) in Grohl’s garage using analog equipment, as the band wanted to keep it real and capture the raw, unprocessed sound of a band playing live. The strategy worked very well, because the sound is definitely a throwback to their earliest (best) records, and the album is also aided by several guest appearances, including singer-guitarist Bob Mould, bassist Krist Novoselic (ex-Nirvana), singer Fee Waybill (The Tubes), and keyboardist Rami Jaffee (The Wallflowers), plus Pat Smear is back with the band as a permanent member (having already rejoined their touring ranks since 2006).

As per usual, this album will likely be best remembered by its often-played anthemic singles, and “Rope,” “These Days,” and “Walk” are all very good efforts if not among their absolute best. What distinguishes this album from their prior album is how consistently strong it is from top to bottom, as “Bride Burning” is a hard-hitting opener with a lighter catchy chorus, and “Dear Rosemary” is moodier but still rocking, with Mould adding his trademark intensity and memorably weird vocals. Elsewhere, “Arlandria” is a grower track with another big chorus, “Back & Forth” manages to have a raw sound and still be poppy, with yet another easily singable chorus, and “I Should Have Known” is an emotional ballad (mostly) whose last minute-plus (where Novoselic really shines) is among their most intense ever.

Even the lesser songs (typically the less hooky ones such as “Miss The Misery”) usually have some cool parts that make them worth listening to, as this veteran band shows that they’re still capable of surprises after all


No end in sight

Past few months have been dreadful. I have lost motivation to write anything. I used to be so good. I made a reference in my last post few months back that I will be writing a lot. But that hasn’t been the case. Reviewing music albums had me motivated but I fell off the wagon from that too (no longer temporarily as it seems) – Though, I did enjoy few photoshoot sessions but I ran out of the ideas there as well. At this point, I do feel like I’ve hit a major roadblock in life.

Not sure how this is going to end. No end in sight as it maybe. Next few weeks, I need to find and lock down a new apartment place for another year. As much as I have loved Phoenix, I have played around the idea of moving away. Even though, I do love the short weekend drive up to Vegas and L.A. from time to time.

Few more things to clear out: I won’t be attending Grand Chapter Congress. It kinda sucks as I really wanted to explore Seattle but I just can’t dip into my savings at this moment. Best part? I will be going to Austin in October. Definitely want to explore that city as I’ve heard so much growth in the economy there, and what city offers in terms of culture and music. Phoenix definitely lacks multi-cultural interaction. My ideal place would be San Francisco but Austin isn’t too shabby either.

Life awaits..


Slacking off…on my terms

For past few months, my activity on the blog has declined. I literally have made like 10 posts in over 6 months. A lot of fact is due to work and I’ve become obsessed with Netflix lately. I have to say I have caught up a lot with TV dramas that I missed out on during my college years.

I’ve joined meetup groups to meet professional individual like myself. Been to few meetup events that has been quite fascinating. One thing that hasn’t changed a bit is my love for attending live concerts. I’m due to attend another 6 shows till the end of the year. The biggest regret I have had is that I never kept myself up for reviewing shows that I’ve been to recently.

If you follow up my blog, you’d know that I’ve a YouTube channel dedicated to capturing live videos from the concerts I’ve been to. It’s my open library for everyone to approach me. My hope is to get invited on tour with bands to follow them around, and create a documentary on their tour.

I’m slightly off the topic here but I assure you I’ll be writing album reviews soon, and won’t have sporadic postings.

Till then, Ciao!


Down on the Upside

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This was released when grunge was losing its popularity, but this “commercial disappointment” still went platinum several times over. Although this album is cleaner and less heavy on the whole than previous efforts, lyrics such as “only happy when you hurt” (from the standout album track “Rhinosaur”) show that the band hasn’t softened up too much. In fact, songs such as the lead single “Pretty Noose,” with it’s swirling guitar lines and monster drum fills, are as intense as anything the band has ever done.

Elsewhere, Zeppelin-esque highlights both minor (“Zero Chance,” “Dusty”) and major (“Burden In My Hand,” the album’s signature song and arguably the band’s best song ever) are heavily reliant on Eastern tinged atmospherics, while “Blow Up The Outside World” starts with a mellow, trippy Beatles-esque melody before exploding into the splendor of its huge chorus. Actually, the first half of the album is mostly excellent, presenting a more accessible Soundgarden that still rocked plenty hard. On the whole, the album doesn’t quite have the diversity of Superunknown, however, and it has much more filler, as the second half gets bogged down by too many unmemorable tracks. I wouldn’t miss “Never Named,” “No Attention,” or “An Unkind,” the albums punkiest songs along with the first side’s far superior “Ty Cobb,”, and though the playing on “Never The Machine Forever” is impressive, the songwriting is only so-so, while “Applebite” is a simple yet strangely alluring (mostly) instrumental that probably could’ve been cut in half. Better is more melodic fare such as “Switch Opens” and “Boot Camp,” while successful multi-sectioned epics such as “Tighter & Tighter” and “Overfloater” also attest to the band’s undiminished ambition and ability. On the downside, this mellower, less edgy album under utilizes their greatest asset by not unleashing Cornell more, but there’s still enough first rate stuff here that had the band left the lesser songs on the cutting room floor, they could’ve had another classic on their hands. As it is, this turned out to be merely a very good goodbye, as Soundgarden broke up soon after this albums release.

Having emerged from the first wave of grunge to stand tall amid other great Seattle heavyweights such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains, I am lucky to say that I’ve seen Soundgarden live twice  (Lollapalozza 2010 and Vegas 2011), and hope to see them more when the release their long awaited 7th studio album in Oct. 2012.


Zero

This response is to my previous journal entry. I have zero social skills…ZERO! Back in college days, things were a bit easy. But now, it feels like time has surpassed me. I do like going out and given my two recent meetup get together, I realize it’s hard to communicate at times.

I’ve been known for being reserved, not shy…just reserved. I guess you can say I don’t like taking chances. I maybe ok jumping off the plane without a parachute, but having a conversation with large group of people in a social gathering is never ideal.

I did however, enjoyed baseball game this afternoon, and I really hit it off with few new faces. I sure hope that I get to hang with Patty and her hubby Ian, whom I met on Saturday night. Patty is into live music, and her fav. band is Modest Mouse. Her music style in more so towards dance/electro but loves indie/alternative rock music as well. I hope to hang with her and her for live music scenes.

While on my way back to home this afternoon, Alison hopped into rail light as soon it was about to leave. We chatted about 15 mins, and she seems to dig that I’m into going concerts a lot. When I mentioned, I’ll be going to see 10 concerts starting from Sep, her reaction was priceless. I felt we got off the right spot as buds. She was even amazed that I love The Dandy Warhols, who are based from her hometown. I hope that I get to hang with her in future events, possibly going to music concerts!

Small step in places, if I can I have few more friends that I hang with besides that I already do, I’d be in good shape.


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