Thursday, March 27, 2008

NIN's Ghosts III, Wherein JR Speaks the Truth

Okay, so Iris is all whining that Maise has deserted this place and with a whole new peachy keen NIN record in four parts that need IMMEDIATE ATTENTION and blah, blah, blah, and I’ve been railroaded into taking some time out of my already crazy busy schedule to do a review of the third movement of NIN’s Ghosts. So, as I routinely say to my boss, There ARE 24 hours in a day (why not use ‘em all?), and I set out to give it a listen and see what’s what. I’m even giving my thoughts in real time, so this review is also innovative.

This had better be good.

Reznor has something of a history of disappointing me lately.

Ghosts III – 19

  • First of all, I’m not digging on the numbering system. I guess when you’ve got to turn something out as quickly as this, you don’t have time to: A. Come up with lyrics; B. Come up with song titles; C. Wait for the packaging ideas to come to you, so you just release it real cheap as a download.
  • Soundtracky.
  • Is this song ever going to get off the ground? I haven’t got all day. I can’t sit around and paint pictures with my mind AND make videos for this stuff for you, Trent. I already have a job. What happened to the artist being responsible for the art?

Ghosts III – 20

  • I guess it’s cool that Reznor is such a fan of recycling that it includes not just plastics and newspapers, but past songs of his. “Closer”, anyone?
  • This song is, like, begging for lyrics. Reznor is neglecting his own material.
  • Feels like a long intro to something else.
  • I like what it morphs into in the second half; more organic, less of the ball-less industrial-lite of the first half.
  • The outro with piano sounds a lot like the softer parts of [With Teeth]. He must be sucking Al Gore’s dick with all of this recycling going on.

Ghosts III – 21

  • Does nothing for me. Other than to make me think of Fields Of Gaffney’s “Xylophone.” So I guess that means he’s recycling other people’s stuff, too.

Ghosts III – 22

  • Is that a didgeridoo?
  • Trent does lite-jazz!
  • I like the drum sound, though the actual drum riff sounds, shall we say, “familiar.”

Ghosts III – 23

  • Finally, something that I can sink my teeth into, and that references NIN’s back catalog without sounding mired in it.
  • Love the distortion. Finally.
  • Okay, two thirds of the way through this song, and where is this going? Anywhere?

Ghosts III – 24

  • Okay, something else that is starting out promising.
  • Totally hearing the Human League influence in the keyboards.
  • I think club DJs could get a lot of mileage out of this one.

Ghosts III – 25

  • Tedious.
Ghosts III – 26
  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Ghosts III – 27

  • zzzzzzzzz….zzzzzzzzz….huh?….oh, nothing…….zzzzzzzzzz
  • Well, part the underlying guitar line is reminiscent of Cheech & Chong’s “Earache My Eye”—can’t wait for that lawsuit!

I guess I would like listening to this stuff while doing yoga, or going for a walk or something. Except that I hate walking, and haven’t done a single yoga pose in three years.

This sounds, overall, like nothing more than more thought out than average demos, which seems to prove my point that this is why TR chose to release it as a download. It’s expensive to release a multi-disc “work” (and believe me, ladies and germs, I’m using the term “work” loosely), and there would probably be a backlash from people who felt ripped off. And well they should. But if you get a few dozen songs for five bucks, that makes it a little harder to complain.

In all honesty people, I don’t want it to be the case, but I think Trent is running out of ideas. Every song on here either sounds like something that he has already done or something that someone else has done. I’m not stupid enough to not realize that there aren’t really any original thoughts left in music, and it’s all about how people interpret their influences, but this is kinda like stealing Aunt Linda’s Famous Apple Pie recipe and passing it off as your own, just charging $1.50 a slice instead of $4.25. Just cause it’s a bargain and not total crap doesn’t make it good.

You know, if I wanted to carry the apple pie analogy a little further, this is not only like stealing the recipe and trying to pass it off as your own (…cough…Rachel Ray…ahem…cough…), it’s like also saying, “Well, you know, I thought maybe what you apple pie fans should do is go out and make your own ice cream to go on top of this pie. You can have a slice now, and eat it without anything on top of it, OR you can take the slice—did I mention it’s only $1.50 and that you can get it right through your computer?—and set it aside while you go to the store and get the cream, vanilla and rock salt, churn the ice cream, wait for it to set up, then scoop it out yourself and put it next to the pie I made. In fact, I’m going to have an ice cream making contest to see who comes up with the most interesting ice cream to go alongside my pie. So get churnin’!”

Yeah, it’s kind of A LOT like that.

Thanks for nothing, Reznor.

I’m sticking with GAFFNEY.

About the author: JR is known by many as the “hardest working woman in (non-profit) show biz,” a title that—along with herself—she takes very seriously. You can read more about her exploits and preferences at JR.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just What the Doctor Ordered

We will return to your regularly scheduled program momentarily
but first...

March 26, 2008 -- TIRED of a world in which Americans idolize wannabe singers, and where musicals about high school students pass as rock 'n' roll, Dr Pepper is begging Axl Rose to finally release this year his 17-years-in-the-making album, "Chinese Democracy." The soft drink company's incentive to Axl, the frontman of Guns N' Roses? If he ships the album in 2008, everyone in America - except estranged guitarists Slash and Buckethead - will receive a free can of Dr Pepper. "It took a little patience for us to perfect Dr Pepper's special mix of 23 ingredients, so we completely understand and empathize with Axl's question for the perfect album," said a company spokesperson. Dr Pepper is asking fans to lobby Axl to drop the album already.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Oh Axl! Stop! Stop! My side hurts. Ow, ow! And Company Spokesperson you're KILLING me with the "it took a little patience" pun. Seriously!

But wait...*sniff, sniff* that a gimmick I smell? Here's how I'm predicting it will go down, folks. If, I said if, Axl actually drops this record in 2008 I'm saying that in order to claim your FREE Dr. Pepper people will have to actually BUY the album. So who's up for a $15 can of soda with a side of has-been?

Any takers?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts do Tahoe

Happy Easter, Readers!

I know the posts may be slow coming around here some weeks but the reviews for the remaining two sections of Ghosts are in the works. I feel we've got something good cooking for #3 and will be worth the wait but in the meantime I have this quick tidbit to hopefully tide you over.

As some of you may or may not remember last month the hubby and I took a vacation to the lovely Lake Tahoe, CA. It was my first trip to the west coast and it was fantastic, although it's unfair the amount of gorgeous scenery the west coast ended up with. Seriously, how awful would it be to have to look out your office window and see this everyday?

In between adventures in mountain climbing and relaxing in the hot tub we found time to catch a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts show. We passed a huge sign on the way into town announcing they'd be playing at Harrah's on Saturday night. My contact in town assured me that this venue never completely sells out so I didn't immediately bother with looking for tickets. So of course when I did call the day of the show the lady tells me the place is completely booked but that I might have a chance in the cancellation line since it had been snowing for three solid days with no signs of stopping. I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of waiting it out but figured what the hell. Lucky for us two inebriated fellows, Mike and Bob, spotted us rather quickly and offered two tickets for face value of $56 a piece but the catch was they were for a table and we'd have to stick it out with them. As I started to look over to my hubby to see if this was okay Mike, the more drunk of the two, says "Fuck it. I'll sell them both to you for $40." SOLD!

The venue is decent size and there really isn't a bad seat in the house but ours were supposed to be somewhat towards the back. No problem for me since I was fulling intending on doing a little video work but apparently a problem for Bob. So he used the ticket money he'd just made off us to see if the hostess could "upgrade" our seats. After a few minutes she came back and asked "Will front row seats be alright?" So we went from no tickets to front row seats in about 30 minutes. SCORE!

One cool thing about thing about this show being in a casino: no dreadful opening band to suffer through. It was get seated, watch some random roadies, and then -BAM- there's Joan and crew. They jumped right into the swing of things kicking off the show with "Bad Reputation".

Joan's starting to get up there in age a bit but Girlfriend still looks good and can still pull off a leather/rubber getup better than some other aging rockers we're all familiar with. *ahem*

After the first couple songs people started making their way to the front to watch which irritated some of the seated folks near the stage. You'd think they'd never been to a rock show before.

We watched a fight between a nice older, gray-haired guy who looked like he's probably an insurance agent or something else fairly harmless and two 20-something girls. It looked like he was just asking them to move but that didn't go over well and one of the girls attacked him. Now I normally don't condone violence against females but after knocking him back through four rows of seating while scratching at his face and breaking his glasses I feel the one face slap she received as he finally fell over backwards was probably deserved. Unfortunately for him the other audience members didn't agree and they jumped him. Eventually security sorted it out and tossed the three of them.

The rest of the show was pretty uneventful but still fun. Joan and the gang played a pretty well balanced set of old classics like "Crimson and Clover" and "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", to which some Granddad was reliving a youthful moment patting the ass of his much younger girlfriend, and the new stuff off their latest album Sinner. I obviously don't really follow Joan Jett but there seems to be several catchy songs from this release and I briefly considered purchasing it but because I'm lazy, I haven't.

All in all they played for about three hours and wrapped it up with "A.C.D.C." off their new record.

I really liked this song and wish I could have recorded it all but the old memory card was full. This is a problem that I'll have fixed shortly though. I can't be running out of space if I'm to record NIN when they come to Lolla this year, now can I?

To anyone living near one of the cities this tour will be coming through I'd recommend catching the show. Thanks again to Mike and Bob for making this all possible. *sniffle* We love guys! You can see the rest of the videos here and also a few pictures from the show and our trip here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

NIN's Ghosts II, Wherein Iris Loves the Music...

...but retains the right to poke fun. But first some other very important NIN related news. According to yesterday we were to "watch for an announcement tomorrow!" Today was the day and HOLY SHIT what an announcement it was.

I think the only other thing that could have made me happier is a solid confirmation to play Lollapalooza. But as excited as I am right now about the potential greatness of this band/fan interaction (seriously Trent I'm so proud of you!) I also groan at the thought of all the pure and utter crap it will produce and that has already started. Let's face the end of the day a large portion of NIN fans are retarded. But do I plan on making what will probably be an equally retarded entry? Well after a little pep talk from my excellent friends for what has otherwise been the shittiest workday I've ever experienced in my life, the answer is a definite HELLZ YEAH!

For now though I'll continue on where Maise left off with my random review of Ghosts II. Perhaps I shouldn't reveal all my ideas since I may be competing with some of you in the film festival...but oh what the fuck, right.

10 Ghosts II-- So if you nodded off during the soft tinkering piano in #9 Trent's added a nice "CLAP" at the beginning of this number to wake you up. Points off. I was just getting somewhere in my daydream and then you had to go and snap us back to reality. Well not reality...just some TV static, pots and pans percussion, some other noisy bits, and more piano. This track seems to be lacking something to me. It just doesn't really go anywhere musically or take your mind off on a trip.

11 Ghosts II
--A slow builder that weaves an interesting path between distorted guitars, warbled synths, piano, and a staggered drum line. This one is excellent for headphones as it shifts from one side to the other. It finishes with a nice fade out that makes you ponder where you've just been. #10 should take notes.

12 Ghosts II--I really like this song but I can't deny that it makes me think of the Dresden Doll's "Delilah". There's really only about 3 second long piano part that makes me think that but then it kind of repeated throughout the song. And now that I've made the association I can't not hear it. I hate to even bring it up for those who may not have made the connection. I'm wondering...was this intentional or did Brian Viglione suggest it?

13 Ghosts II--Ah...sweet, sweet #13. Far and away my favorite track on the whole release. Just Trent noodling away with his piano. Another great one to listen to on headphones. Sit down, close your eyes, feel your breathing slow as you let it sink in and wash over you. -sigh- So relaxing that I believe that Trent may have even nodded off towards the end. Some people who want to take it out of context may say the breathing you hear during the last half of the song may be creepy and a little "the call is coming from inside the house" but they can fuck off. I love that Trent can make this kind of quiet retrospective melody in what I'm sure can still be at times a frat-boy mentality environment. Although I can also picture Trent holed up in his room with his keyboard and beat up boombox ala the "Non-Entity" Hurricane Katrina Benefit performance. My only complaint with this one is what feels to me to be an abrupt ending.

14 Ghosts II--If I were giving these tracks real names this one would definitely be called "Trent Goes to Bollywood". The music video would be an odd assortment of belly dancers, snake charmers, perhaps even the Indian Thriller dance troupe, some hand held Cloverfield-esque footage of walking through the streets of Bangladesh, and it would all be projected on the giant cheese cloth screen during the live performances. Just to keep it in line with Trent's other movie projection projects there would also be pictures of oh...I don't know...rotting coush-coush, a sacred cow chasing down a bird or attacking a kid or something, and maybe this Minnie Mouse(?) just to scare the shit out of little kids and send a "Fuck you" to Disney for maybe an old repressed grudge when they told Trent he was too short to ride the rides. I don't know. Just thinking out loud here.

15 Ghosts II--The feel of this song and the picture accompanying it me think that I'm being held captive in some evil scientists laboratory out in the middle of the woods where the mad doctor performs experiments on those forgotten in some kind of 70's sci-fi thriller. Perhaps Trent had just watched the "Island of Dr. Moreau".

16 Ghosts II--Another track reminiscent of international origin. It's like electric Aboriginal? The "vocals" remind me of someone using an electrolarynx. Either that or one of those auctioneers talk so damned fast you can't really understand them so later when you go to settle your bill you find out you didn't purchase the antique rocking chair that you thought your Grandma would like but instead bought a cardboard box of mismatched shoes, broken drill bits, and a collection of 12 years worth of pocket lint. Yeah it sucks when that happens but if I got to listen to this song when I got back to my car I guess it wouldn't be so bad.

17 Ghosts II--Starts off sounding a bit like "TDTWWA" and "Help Me I'm in Hell". Um-hmm...working my way, Trent! What did I say about that xylophone? I don't care that you tried to bury it under layers of other noise! This is not acceptable. Did you listen to Lullaby Renditions of NIN and think it was a good idea?

18 Ghosts II--A catchy tune but aside from the small guitar riffs and feedback, I would say it was solely comprised out of old Nintendo game sound bytes. Remember when Meathead remixed "Closer to Mario"? Yeah. Or maybe it predates that Pong I hear?

If you've not downloaded the album and want to listen to the songs we're referring to then check the playlist here on Channels Parallel. Stay tuned to hear Maise weigh in on Ghosts II and for the eventual third installment. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to make my masterpiece video that will win this "non-contest".

Monday, March 10, 2008

NIN's Ghosts I, Wherein We Actually Discuss the Music...

So we've had some people (and when I say "some people," I mean JR) acridly observing that the new NIN album has not provoked much discussion. Well, I'm not ashamed to say that this new album does actually require some absorption before discussion, and um, well, it's all instrumental. I'm not really good at writing florid prose about the sublime places where transcendant music transports me, so if there's a lack of trenchant analysis and emotional outpouring, then blame me, not the music. As I would point out to our Anonymous WTC fan, I'm not Dierdre Keating.

But there are things to be said about this album, both complimentary and critical, so I think what Iris and I will do is write down what goes through our minds as we listen to Ghosts I-IV. After all, this is music for daydreaming and getting lost in your chain of thoughts. So, taking a break from my demanding workload and sneaking on my headphones at the office, here I go with the first installment:

1 Ghosts I--sounds like it could have been on "Still." Mostly just Trent and his piano, haunting and sad. If I could transport my novel from my head onto the page and then adapt it for the screen, this would so be the soundtrack. And what I love most about this album is that it makes me want to write my novel--it's saying to me, here is some art that I've made with my go make some too!

Hm, for a second, the music transported me to the dentist's office with a drill-like sound.

2 Ghosts I--omg, this is a long intro. I took a moment to IM Iris rather than capture my stream-of-consciousness thoughts. But never's the piano. Beautiful and bittersweet; echoing and distant.

3 Ghosts I--The pace picks up with this one. Trent's been listening to some world music lately, I think. It's very modern but indigenous-sounding nevertheless. Hints of South America and Australia, I think. At one point, I thought I heard Trent's bee/wasp sounds from Downward Spiral. A moment of Middle Eastern influence? And yes, I'm talking out of my ass about the global influences, but this almost doesn't feel like Trent Reznor or NIN. I'm really enjoying it, though. Even though it doesn't have a melody that catches in my head, it's pure enjoyment to hear.

4 Ghosts I--Starts off okay, gets kind of annoying for a moment, then improves with the drum part. More dischordant than other tracks...who let Jack White into the room? Uhhhh...not much to say about this one. It's not transporting me to distant lands or anything.

5 Ghosts I--I feel like I'm in the hospital, while starring in a David Lynch movie. There are definite shades of the Lost Highway soundtrack here, no? The piano part kind of echoes Track 2. Or Track 1, I can't remember right now. This sucking sound, it feels like I'm trapped inside some kind of hazardous materials suit or am behind Darth Vader's mask. Also, this music has turned kind of James Bond-ish.

6 Ghosts I--Oh fuck, it's this one. This one threatens to get stuck in my head and not in a good way. I mean, nice use of xylophone or whatever, but this one is pretty monotonous. I am tapping my fingers waiting to get to the next track. I'm sure this is of a similar length as the others, but it feels soooo long. Doo DOO doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo...

7 Ghosts I--Now, this is what I'm talking about! Funky, harder, sexier. Add in that guitar part...very sexy. It reminds me of "Closer" inasmuch as the air is filled with sounds that wouldn't by themselves sound remotely musical, yet I want to either dance or fuck to this. Since I am in the office, however, I will currently do neither.

8 Ghosts I--I feel like this track is very Year Zero or Niggy Tardust. Year Zero, especially. I hear shades of "Survivalism," definitely. I want to say more about this one, but uhhhhhhhh...I mean, writing about these songs is kind of like writing about wine. An industrial nose, goes down '70s hard rock, with a light, fruity finish.

9 Ghosts I--Back to the piano...reminiscent again of the Still tracks or "Zero Sum." A good song, doesn't overstay its welcome. Something about it reminds me of sitting in the house on a summer afternoon with nothing to do and looking through a window watching it rain, then seeing the sun come out, and watching it rain again.

And that, folks, is my take on the first installment of Ghosts I-IV. Stay tuned for Iris's thoughts, opinions, complaints, and gushing praise! In the meantime, add your own thoughts about any of the tracks or, you know, carry on with business as usual:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ghosts I-IV...

Hello again, readers! The season of love and candy and flowers and cupids is OVER. Because Trent Reznor has released a new album.

Yes, Trent has been teasing us recently with cryptic blog messages, but the wait is now over. Ghosts I-IV is 36 tracks of instrumental, gothy goodness. And Brian Viglione helped! I hope he was topless at the time.

Now, you have several options of purchasing Ghosts I-IV, but right now, only the expensive options are currently working, due to the simultaneous online ejaculation of every dedicated NIN fan out there this evening.

I'm not going to exhaustively detail everything here, but for $300, you get the album, some vinyls, a fancy book, some fancy prints, and who gives a shit about all that because you get TRENT'S AUTOGRAPH! There are only 2,500 of these available. Hopefully for $300, Trent personally delivers the shit.

For $75, you get the album, a fancy book, and some other shit, but you won't get Trent's signature nor a casting of his penis. Sorry.

For $10, you can immediately download the album, and you will receive physical CDs. This is my personal preference because I like cluttering up my house with CDs. Call me old school, if you will.

For $5, you can immediately download the album, and I think you get some 40-page pdf.

Or if you're really cheap, you can download the first 9 songs for free, which proves that Trent DID learn something from Saul Williams after all.

All versions of the album can be purchased here, which isn't working at the time of this writing because the website is being slammed by the faithful, but I'm sure they'll be up to speed shortly. Or you can also purchase the expensive options on Artists in Residence, which others have had better luck with.

If I sound slightly cranky, it's just because I WANT TO ORDER MY CDS, DAMMIT. But I'm VERY excited about this new release, and I'm loving Trent for giving us different purchasing options, depending upon our personal amounts of expendable cash. Although Trent has my favorite singing voice in the world, I have never been disappointed with his instrumentals.

More to come after we purchase the album (hopefully soon!) and absorb the new songs.