May 21, 2015

REVIEW: "The Waterfall" by My Morning Jacket

Jim James Takes a Few Hits off the
Aurora Borealis on MMJ's The Waterfall
If you’re planning to grow out your hair and stare profoundly into the sky all summer long, My Morning Jacket’s seventh album, The Waterfall, is the soundtrack you need.
The rollicking "Compound Fracture" would be a perfect opening song for your summer road trip mixtape. "In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)" is the song most bands hope to write in one career. It shifts from mood and tone with one count off the hi-hat, blending Classic Rock interpolations with thick-fingered shots of prog. The stunted falsetto of Jim James rises like mist from the instrumental downpour.
Since hitting it big time in 2003 with It Still Moves My Morning Jacket have strived not to settle into the same grooves and guitar crescendos that gave them their platform. Veering outside their formula worked magnificently on the follow-up, Z, two years later. Continuing the trend, however, backfired on the next two, Evil Urges and Circuital. Those albums are still decent additions in MMJ’s musical scope, but they're lumpy, overinflated and only truly good in sections.
The Waterfall hones in more closely on the band's strengths, but finds a newer psychedelic expanse where they have not yet been before. Their own Kentucky landscape still anchors their rootsy, woodsy, in-the-weeds sound, but here they find a more ethereal space to extend to. James gets high off Aurora Borealis fumes and it sounds so sweet.
James released his first solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, in 2013. The album finds James in a deep drift of meandering, drawn-out songs. That creative offshoot was a positive thing for this album. The songs on The Waterfall are more compact (save for the final two epics) and they find their hypnotic power instantly.
James looks inward on the well-wishing acoustic, “Get The Point.” He strums a hushed melody and sings directly to a true love that has since shed its truth. "I'm trying to tell you plainly how I'm feeling day to day," he admits, "And I'm so sorry now that you ain't feeling the same way."
"Spring (Among the Living)" comes echoing off the canyon walls. Guitars twinkle like the opening lights of spring after an agonizing winter."Thin Line" and the first single, "Big Decisions," will both snuggle warmly into the setlists of the band’s tremendous live show.
By the time the contemplative "Only Memories Remain" falls into the tracklist The Waterfall has moved beyond the cliffs and rocks, downstream into a calming river flow. The album ends with the whiskers in Jim James’s beard burning down like dynamite fuses on "Tropics (Erase Traces)" and after ten songs, it’s time to find the path home.

Key Tracks: "Compound Fracture," "Thin Line," "In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)," "Tropics (Erase Traces)"

source: http://imp

May 04, 2015

LOOKBACK: "Diamond Eyes" by Deftones

On this Date Five Years Ago Deftones
Re-emerged with Diamond Eyes
   Five years ago today Deftones hurled back with their sixth album, Diamond Eyes. “Let’s drink with our weapons in our hands,” frontman Chino Moreno suggests on “Rocket Skates,” the first single. “Let’s sleep in this trance.” Then, with the scream where you can actually hear the throat tear, “Guns, razors, knives!” With that Deftones announced a return to form in the wake of tragedy. 
   In the years leading up to Diamond Eyes, the structure of the group had nearly come undone. Their previous album, Saturday Night Wrist, came four year earlier in 2006 during a somewhat creatively stagnant time for the band. The album still had some great songs (“Rapture,” “Beware,” “Rats! Rats! Rats!”), but something about it felt over-labored and ultimately garnered little enthusiasm from critics or fans. It easily cemented its place as the lesser of all Deftones’ near-perfect albums.
   The abyss that followed left the group looking like they may go the way of their pre-9/11 metalhead brethren: a scorching burn with a quicker fade to mediocrity. (See: Korn, Staind, Godsmack) Then, the fall of 2008 brought the devastating news that founding bassist Chi Cheng had been the passenger in a car wreck and was put up in the hospital, deep in an uncommunicative comma.
   Eros, it was learned, was the name of the album they were working on at the time of the accident. It would be shelved as the group sought to find perspective of their misfortune. When it became clear Cheng wouldn’t wake up with any sort of ease, the band decided to soldier on without their brother in song.
   Sergio Vega, who previously played in Quicksand, was a longtime friend of the band and would fill in for their live shows. Eventually he would add his flex to the muscle of Stephen Carpenter’s riffs and Abe Cunningham’s scatter-shot drum blasts in the studio. The band rediscovered themselves amidst the darkest chapter of their creative lives. With Cheng heavy in their hearts they began to record new music.
   On Diamond Eyes, the songs got leaner, louder and tighter. Cunningham ascends into another level of drum genius, matching the subtle twists in Carpenter’s meaty riffs. Just try to air drum to “Diamond Eyes,” “CMND/CNTRL” or “Rocket Skates” and not look like a fool.
   “You’ve Seen The Butcher” turns a clunky guitar burble into a slithering sexual come-on. Moreno weaves between the riff. “You slowly enter ‘cause you know my room,” he sings. “And then you crawl your knees off / before you shake my tomb.” After lyrically phoning in it on the last album, Moreno gets back to cunning ambiguity, painting lines that point in different directions.
   Vega brings a new lockstep groove that immediately qualifies him to fill the legacy of Cheng. Hear him creep around the crunch and scream of Carpenter and Moreno on “Prince” and “Royal.” Gone are the empty atmospherics that started to pervade the previous album. Frank Delgado adds touches of keyboards to wrap it all in a wave of dark radiation.
   Sometimes a tragic moment can lead to unearthed expression. For the band and their fans the loss of Cheng will never be forgotten, but for those same people the music had to continue. Diamond Eyes is a testament to the group’s longevity and maturity. Their follow-up two years later, Koi No Yokan, would be even better.
   Cheng would never wake up. He remained in quiet unknowing solitude until his death in 2013. On “Risk” Moreno sings out to his brother. “I’m right here just / Come outside and see it / But pack your heart, you might need it.”

source: http://imp