Tag Archives: Gil Norton

Trompe Le Monde

This is an awesome album! The sound may seem slightly ‘murky’ in places, but that’s all that really prevents this acheiving the same perfect grade ‘Doolittle’ achieved. There were tensions within the group, Charles ( Black Francis ) worked in the studio with producer Gil Norton around the clock, worked harder on this album than he had any other, to ensure it’s quality in the face of estrangement between Kim and himself and the lack of a unified band firing on all cylinders. So, lots of guitar!! Lots of aggression, particularly through second song and all time Pixies classic ‘Planet Of Sound’. Got to love Joeys guitar through the middle especially. And then Black Francis screams for all he’s worth as the song closes with a thud. ‘Alec Eiffel’ arrives next with the by now classic Pixies strummed duel guitar sound of Charles and Joey together. The melody throughout the song is strong, the ending sequence of the song which works in former Captain Beefheart man Eric Drew Feldman’s keyboard parts is truly beautiful, so much so, it makes me cry more often than not. ‘Sad Punk’ is another piece of aggression switching to beautiful mellow vocals and guitars to close. ‘Head On’ is a cover of a Jesus And The Mary Chain song. It’s been performed here perfectly well, but lacks the character of The Pixies own songs. The screaming returns for ‘U-Mass’ which is an entertainingly dumb sounding ROCK AND ROLL SONG!! Good grief, why the hell did The Pixies never break through REALLY BIG!!! Two short but beautiful guitar songs close the first half of the album, both songs featuring great vocal performances.

‘Bird Dream Of Olympus Mons’ is a piece of genius, a trip into space with a tear in the eye, admiring the landscape and mountains on the moon. A love song, of sorts. ‘Space’ has guitars absolutely everywhere, heavy as hell. ‘SubbaCultcha’ all sorts of weird lyrics amid a heavy grinding guitar rhythm. Yeah, it’s good, and you can also hear Kim on backing vocals. ‘Distance Equals Rate Times Time’ isn’t any kind of song I suppose, but The Pixies just had such a great sound it could transform almost anything by this stage. ‘Lovely Day’ works here on ‘Trompe Le Monde’ in a similar fashion for me to ‘Stormy Weather’ from ‘Bossanova’. This is the sunny counterpart to ‘Stormy Weather’! ‘The Navajo Know’ is a strange thing, weird sounds abound and a rhythm that almost sounds like a slowed down Ska group. It works totally on the album, because it follows the emotionally exhausting and utterly beautiful ‘Motorway To Rosswell’ with it’s evocative musical and lyrical content. Of course, we wanted more. We all wanted more music from The Pixies ( well, I did! ) but leaving the way they did? They never made a bad record. They never descended into following fashions and ‘Trompe Le Monde’ is as fine a way to close a career as could be imagined.

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Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Foo Fighters reunited with The Colour And The Shape producer Gil Norton, but the resulting album unfortunately ranks among the lesser Foo Fighters efforts so far. I’ve been thinking about it, and I think that there are three main problems with the band.

One is that they’ve strayed too far from their grunge/alternative roots. For example, “Let It Die,” “Come Alive,” and “But Honestly” all start slowly and eventually pick up a head of steam (and again by and large the band are much better at rockers than ballads), but all take too long to get going and never take off quite like I’d hoped. As for problem number two, I understand Grohl wanting the Foo Fighters to be a real band, but they were certainly better when he handled the drum parts (except on The Pretender track). Hawkins is a solid drummer but he’s simply nowhere near the same dynamic force behind the drum kit that Grohl is, and as a result subsequent albums haven’t quite matched the explosive pop of their first two albums. Thirdly, somewhere along the way Grohl lost his sense of humor; this guy has it pretty good, but there’s too much bitter fingerpointing on this album. That said, the current incarnation of the Foo Fighters still have their virtues. “The Pretender” and “Long Road To Ruin” can be added to the band’s growing list of terrific singles, and there are other strong efforts as well, such as the rocking “Erase/Replace” and the intense acoustic ballad “Stranger Things Have Happened.” “Summer’s End” and especially “Statues” have airy ’70s So. Cal vibes that I also find appealing, but I could live without the filler instrumental “Ballad Of The Beaconsville Miners” and the dreary finale, “Home.” “Cheer Up, Boys” is a perfect example of what’s right and wrong with the band, as it’s a standard surging melodic rocker that’s reliably pleasant and hard-hitting without being especially exciting.

I’m still glad that they’re around, as the band continues to do their part in making modern rock radio a little bit more listenable,


The Colour And The Shape

One of the hardest things for a rock band to do is to follow up on a strong debut album, but the Foo Fighters smashed any thoughts of a sophomore slump with this stellar second album. I’m not going to get into psycho-analyzing Dave Grohl’s mindset with regards to Kurt Cobain; amazingly, Rolling Stone’s review of the album went through great pains to tell us all about Grohl’s alleged state of mind, while failing to mention much at all about the actual music on the record! What I will say is that Cobain’s death and Grohl’s then breakup with his wife seem to weigh heavily on his mind, as Grohl reveals much more of himself here than on his catchy but cryptic debut.

I’ll also note that The Colour And The Shape is more of a band effort than the Grohl-dominated debut, and that most of these songs follow a similarly soft and then loud pattern, with big riffs and an even bigger beat carrying most melodies. Grohl’s vocals are also rougher this time around, which is ironic considering that Gil Norton’s production is much smoother than what was offered up on the demo-like debut. As for the songs, the awesome power pop surge of “Monkey Wrench,” towers over everything else on the album (especially memorable is its incredible “one last thing before I quit…” section, which I always sing – make that scream – along to). However, the pulverizing (drum) pop and epic chorus of “My Hero,” the tightly coiled, extremely intense groove rocker “Everlong,” and the softly whispered ballad “Walking After You” were also deservedly popular radio tracks. Foo Fighters re-recorded a superior version of “Walking After You” for the X-Files soundtrack.

Other catchy, hard-hitting highlights include “Hey, Johnny Park!” and “My Poor Brain,” while “See You” is surprisingly sweet and melodic (actually, the album on the whole is mellower than the debut). The rest of the album is rock solid as well; maybe some of the shorter songs are on the slight side, but only the grating “Enough Space” fails to really add anything to this fine overall package.