Portugal. The Man ------ Rx Bandits ------- Dredg
"The Satanic Satanist" ------ "Mandala" ------- "The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion"
I wanted to speak today/tonight/tomorro about Taking a Leak.... Never Fear, I'm not talking about what you do in the lavatory. What I'm referring to when I say "Take A Leak" is the taking of leaked music or albums from the internet. Well, whataboutit? Are you a leak taker? A Pirate? A Digital Booty Thief? Do you fit the profile of someone that illegally obtains music from internet based sources for your own enjoyment, entertainment, or amusement? Or is it for more illicit reasons, i.e. Selling bootlegs CD's on the street corner like the true skell that you are? Maybe, maybe not. Either way - I'd like to speak on it momentarily if you'll indulge me.
Pirating music in the last 10 years + has become many things, a blight, a boon, a phenomenon, an epidemic, all things to all different groups.... whether it be Record Labels that have had to lose millions in revenue (Yay!?) to these file sharing networks that enable individuals to search & download many different types of digital content including music. Some see it one way, others in a different light. I'm here to talk about the bands whose music has been made available via illegal early leaks..
Portugal. The Man, Rx Bandits, Dredg, Eels, Metric, St. Vincent, The Thermals, Thrice, Discovery, Passion Pit, Mos Def, Abe Vigoda, Albert Hammond Jr., ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Apostle of Hustle, As Tall As Lions, Wilco, Doves, 311, Tortoise, Taking Back Sunday, Silversun Pickups, & the list just goes on & on & on forever. Each of these artists has either released a new album, had an as yet un-released album leaked early, or just piqued my interest & had their wonderful work pilfered by my grubby internet fingers in recent weeks.
Starting with my first listed artists above, I'd like to speak briefly on Portugal. The Man's recently leaked album "The Satanic Satanist".
Not the most creative name in my opinion for a band that has shown tremendous depth in their insistence on creating a unique & divergent album with each subsequent musical outing that they've embarked on. "The Satanic Satanist" is a wonderful album from this band whose early years sounded like if Minus The Bear & The Mars Volta had an illegitimate child & said child was then raised by founding members of Incubus, Coheed & Cambria, & maybe the Who. They followed in the footsteps of many bands of that nature. A post-prog, post emo inkling sound that was like all your favorite bands growing up but oh so brand new & electrifying.
Well forget everything you may or may not remember about those early albums. Yet at the same time, take all those early albums & their influences, mix in some pop & put them in a blender with Willie Nelson & what new records from Woody Guthrie might sound like. This might get near the sound that comes through on "The Satanic Satanist". As I always recommend, It really takes 3-5 listens all the way through to digest it. It's wide, it's lush, it's warm, & intimate all in one. I'm pretty sure that Portugal. The Man is on the verge of becoming one of the best bands in contemporary music. I know we hear that a lot, I might even say it a lot but I don't think it's very long before everyone & their mother agrees with me.
Here's a link to them performing "People Say" from the new record Live.
Looking forward to seeing them @ Johnny Brenda's in fishtown Philadelphia on Oct. 22nd.
* Next - Rx Bandits - Mandala
The Rx Bandits are wonderful! With the release of Mandala the Rx Bandits continue to grow their sound in new & exciting ways. Some will consider the idea that they've lost their brass section as a detraction in sound, while the band is quoted as saying they felt the horn section in their previous work was holding them back from rocking out. Either way, Rx Bandits fans couldn't ask for a better compliment to their catalog than what the band has given them in Mandala. From the opening pummel of "My Lonesome Only Friend" to the Proggy intensity of "Breakfast Cat" (Possibly the Rx's greatest song ever written), Mandala delivers & surpasses on all heightened expectations of what this band would deliver.
Starting in 1999 out of California as a ska-pop-punk outfit, they've transitioned & reformed slowly & meticulously into a Prog rock, hyper-tempo'd, kinetic group of songwriters. Matt Embree's lyrics stir the political & personal pot as much as ever if not more so on Mandala with lyrics like, "Are you living the life that you've dreamed of, or while you're working are you working just to survive?", while the instrumental chops of the band keep getting better. The instrumental breakdown that concludes "It's Only Another Parsec.." is the perfect example of a great band with a burgeoning sound that's increasingly comfortable broadening their musical ambitions.
All in all, following 2 fantastic hard rock ska albums like "The Resignation" & "...And The Battle Begun" wasn't going to be easy, but with the release of "Mandala" the Rx Bandits have done it & have possibly even surpassed those 2 great works. Kudos bandits!
* Dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion -
What a title! Named for a Salman Rushdie essay "Imagine There's No Heaven: A Letter to the 6 Billionth Citizen", The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is a brilliant return to form for Dredg. Previously Dredg had released 2 albums while signed to Interscope Records, "El Cielo" & "Catch Without Arms". Both of which are great albums, especially "El Cielo", but with "The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion" Dredg has returned to self-promotion & display a freedom that wasn't as evident while the record label pressure hung over the music. This is adventurous stuff for the California foursome. From the childlike chanting that opens "Pariah", to the great interlude that is "Drunk Slide", it's Dredg's signature sound tweaked up with little creative touches that touchstone back to their arching crescendos & emotional build ups of "El Cielo" combined with the taut, sharp songwriting displayed on "Catch without" but with just enough improvisational free-wheeling to make it feel loose & exciting again.
Gavin Hayes has managed to fill almost every song with palpable emotion that grips the listener with the turn of every word. "Ireland" seeps into the mind with his musings on the changing of life & love & how time affects both. Lamenting the loss of innocence & the inevitable cynicism that comes with growing up, the Hayes' lyrics are as tragically enthralling as they ever were. The band has also managed to create a musically epic soundscape for Gavin Hayes to pour his heart out onto. "Lightswitch" opens with a Built To Spill-esque country twang guitar line that harkens back to 1994's "There's Nothing Wrong with Love" or Doug Martsch's solo work "Now You Know".
To say it plainly, Dredg has always been an emotionally gripping band. Their music has a plaintive, heart on sleeve quality that worms inside even the densest heart & mind coupled with titanic, building instrumentals that show how touching real hard rock can be when done with finesse. Overall, the album is fantastic & the band deserves much more attention than what they regularly receive.
Of all 3 of the albums listed above, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is by far the most invasive. Each album is great in its own right, but none touch the heart with dramatic emphasis like Dredg's does. 5 Stars.
So to sum up, each of these albums has been leaked & illegally downloaded to provide the audio entertainment for this review. The internet has changed the way the world works in so many ways, & it will continue to do so whether the suits & ties can hope to contain it or manage it. I for one am happy to support the artists by buying their albums first hand after having enjoyed the free download capabilities. Most progressive bands in this day & age realize that their music will inevitably be leaked & that only by incessant touring & continual self-promotion will they be able to endure & prosper. The idea being that the more people that hear your work, the more downloaders you have pirating your songs, the more individuals will come to know & love your music as well. Let's all do our part to keep downloading & leaking the music we love as long as we promise to buy a cd once in a while or pay for a download & then go see the groups when they roll into town. These guys need to make a living too & they can only continue to do it & continue to make the music that we love if we help to support them, right?
So go out & Buy some damn music then people!
This article gestated waaaay too long, & I've gotten about 200 additionally interesting albums in the meantime. More will hopefully follow soon.
bye for now.