Known Johnson

June 6, 2005

Overlooked Alternatives: new releases for June 7, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:40 pm

There’s three absolutely huge releases this week (from Coldplay, White Stripes, and Black Eyed Peas) but we’re not concerned with those, are we? Of course not – we’re all looking for a little something different, and while you may have to work a little harder to seek these out, they’ll be worth the trouble.

New Releases:

Dream Theater: Octavarium – Dream Theater is back with album #8, and their fourth with this lineup including Jordan Rudess on keyboards (the keyboard slot being the weak seat in the band.) Apparently the band listened to fan’s comments about the last two extremely hectic, overly chaotic albums and scaled back their penchant for excessive, needless soloing, focusing more on building intriguing song-structures like they used to do – rather than finding excuses to show off. If this album is anything like lead singer James LaBrie’s recent solo album, Elements of Persuasion, it should be a rewarding release.

Danny Cohen: We’re All Gunna Die – Cohen works a kind of outsider-art aesthetic in his unusual pop-songs. Like Dylan at his most uncomfortably nasal, this is not for everyone, but the rewards for patient, open-minded listeners are great. Cohen’s a bit of a mystery – finding information on this guy is pretty tough. He’s been around since rock started, but only has a few albums to his name. His reclusive nature seems to have separated him from his rock contemporaries, as the glimpses one gets of life through a Cohen song seem decidedly out of touch with the world today. It’s like stumbling into a charming, but disorienting and slightly worrisome backwoods town. Cohen’s world probably won’t physically harm you, but it’ll leave you slightly unnerved – but fascinated nonetheless. This might just be the release of the week.

Secret Machines: The Road Leads Where it’s Led – The secret of the Machines is that they have an addictively fun, poundingly-heavy beat that is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, and they have a penchant for really stretching out their compositions for texture and emphasis. It’s prog-rock without the slightest hint of twee frilliness. Road is an EP with a non-album track, “Better Bring Your Friends,” and covers of Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks,” the Motown classic “Money (That’s What I Want)” (you decide who of the many, many artists who handled this tune they’re aping,) Dylan’s take on the tradition “Girl from the North Country,” and Harmonia’s “(De Luxe) Immer Wieder.” It doesn’t look absolutely necessary, but certainly worth keeping in the back of your mind for those times when you just want to hear something new and fun.

Reissues:

DJ Shadow: Endtroducing (Deluxe Edition) – The album that made turntables go from being that scratching sound in hip-hop to being an actual instrument capable of expression and bearing the unique identity of an individual musician, Endtroducing is being reissued with the full “Deluxed Edition” treatment – luxurious packaging, dense liner notes, and a second disc full of demos, mixes, and live recordings. This is not to be missed.

Sepultura: Roots – Max Cavalera’s final album with the seminal metal band Sepultura is being given a “deluxe” treatment of sorts by Roadrunner Records, who issue this album in a two-disc edition in honor of their 25th anniversary (isn’t that nice of them? It’s their anniversary and they give you something new to buy! How generous!) Disc one is the album proper and disc two is crammed full of 15 b-sides and unreleased tracks, all in a special digipak.

Fear Factory: Demanufacture – If you want to look back and see when metal changed directions, Demanufacture is the album that could easily be the one that did it. With their previous album, Soul of a New Machine, Fear Factory did something unusual – they released a remix album helmed by Front Line Assembly’s Rhys Fulber. It didn’t set the world on fire then, but when the band returned a couple years later, Fulber was chosen to mix the album outright, instead of focus on a separate remix album. The result was a serious changing of the guard for metal – no longer were beats, keyboards, and other inorganic sounds banned from the process. Fulber filled the band’s sound with electronic flourishes and a muscular, highly digital sound that came along at the right time. Nine Inch Nails were on top of their game and the public wanted anything industrial. Fear Factory, with Fulber pushing them, fused industrial with the already pummelling assualt of speed metal. Metal hasn’t been the same since. Like the Sepultura release above, Roadrunner releases this classic in a deluxe two-disc edition with the second disc consisting of Remanufacture, the remix disc that came out following this album, along with a few rarities.

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