Friday, September 18, 2009

More on JOY

I'm really glad that as fans, we got the chance to hear all of the JOY songs for two tours live before hearing the album, BUT that the album had been recorded before we heard the songs.

Let me explain...

When we have connections to songs through live experiences prior to a song appearing on an album, the studio version is almost always a letdown and overlooked. Though i heard Rift as an album first, then the songs in concert, those songs had mostly become fan favs before the album was released and didn't carry the same energy on disc.

With Hoist, they reversed this trend, saving these songs for album release, then playing live. These songs had a definite starting point and evolved from the album to the live shows.

More personally, i knew all of the Farmhouse songs before the album dropped and though there are terrific versions of some songs (1st Tube, Sand, GBOTT) I was more disappointed with the songs that had lost their luster (Piper, Twist).

In the case of JOY, Phish composed these songs with their ideas, then took them on the road to try them out. Some became hits (Kill Devil Falls), some became jam monsters (Light), some had to be reworked (BDTNL) and some are still snoozers (TTE).

Though many of the album cuts of these songs leave you wanting more, you can hear the urgency of making music that pervades this entire album.

The solos are short, the songs are tight and they wanted to spit this out and move on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gorge Wolfman's: I just don't get the love...

Ok...i was there. I saw the amazing glowstick war (other than the AC/DC Bag at Hampton, prob the best of the year). The crowd was going nuts.

But it just doesn't hold up on tape. I listened in the car. I listened while chillin' out. I listened again while cooking dinner one night. It's just not there.

It's a good jam, had some nice peaks, but the crowd energy is what made it cool.

Compared to some of the other jams that weekend, and throughout tour, i'm not sure this makes a top 10.

Oh, why the hell not...In no particular order:

1. Gorge Light>Taste
2. Gorge Gin
3. RR Drowned>C&P>Joy
4. RR Tweezer>BDTNL
5. Gorge Sally>Gorge Jam
6. Merriweather 46 Days>OSN
7. SPAC BDTNL>20 Years Later
8. Darien Drowned>Caspian
9. RR Ghost
10. RR Boogie On (I LOVE the last two mins or so before YEM)

Mike Gordon @ The State Theater

I really had no idea what to expect at this show.

Never been to any of his other side projects, and let's face it, the songs Mike writes tend to be...well...weird.

While these songs were no different, there was a pervasive funkiness, a "mikeness" if you will, throughout the show.

Lot's of grooving, some pretty awful singing (even for these guys), a sick light show and a pretty cool venue all made for an enjoyable night.

Am i paying to go see Gordon solo again soon? No, but i'm glad i went and i hope that a song or two i heard make it into the Phish rotation.

9/12/09 State Theater Falls Church VA

Another Door
Andelmans' Yard
Emotional Railroad
Can't Stand Still
Ain't Wasting Time No More* >
La La La*
Couch Lady >
15 Step
Only A Dream

Sugar Shack
Taking It To The Streets

Show Notes:

* Allman Bros cover, Reid Genauer on guitar & vocals
^ Craig Myers original

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joy Review

This is going to be a short one since i actually got most of my thoughts out yesterday.

There are only a few songs worth the time on this disc:

Backwards Down the Number Line
Sugar Shack

BDTNL, as i've already mentioned, is THE 3.0 anthem. Trey is giddy every time he sings it and lately it has evolved into a jam monster. You can hear the pure energy on this track of the four of them back in the studio together and its noticeable that Lillywhite had very little to alter off this first take.

Mike's Sugar Shack is def one of my fav new songs and is probably the "phishiest" of the tracks. Great vibe and it comes across well live. No major jamming from it yet, but i'm looking forward to its evolution.

I first heard Light at Gorge and was privileged to hear the calypso jamming out of this one. While the body of the song doesn't really have any umph, the ambient intro is maybe the only piece of music i hadn't heard before this came out. Could be wrong, but i think the next studio album will have much more of this type of lead in. Phish's songs have always had intros and outros that are as much a part of the tune as the chorus or verse (2001, DWD, Axilla, Bowie).

Beyond those three there's not much i'm going to listen to again on here. I had to skip through Time Turns Elastic after 7 minutes and the other new songs just don't do it for me.

So there you have it. I'll give this a B, if only because BDTNL is so fucking awesome and if i hadn't played with someone for four years and made an album i have no idea what i would have to go through.

This crop of Trey songs rightfully dwell on his troubles and i'm very much looking forward to some new songs with a "phishier" disposition.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joy Review - Initial Thoughts

I know i'm tardy on my late summer reviews, but I'm still digesting. For now, just keep listening to RR and Gorge on loop.

In the meantime, I've begun listening to JOY and though I'm only about halfway in, i think there are a few things worth mentioning.

"I've got memories..."

I can vividly remember waiting for the release dates of Billy Breathes, Story of the Ghost, and Farmhouse. As we all know, studio albums are not this bands forte, but each album gives us a peek into where the band's mind is at during the recording sessions.

The "growing up" of Billy Breathes had no relation to the sheer funk of Ghost and Farmhouse was pretty much a happy medium of trancey soundscapes and adult rockers and ballads.

I skipped Round Room and Undermind. I have never listened to either as part of my 02-04 (except Nassau and IT) didn't happen mantra. Some of the songs i enjoy live, but these albums have always seemed haphazard and lacking to me.

"This time's gonna be different..."

While i firmly believe Backwards Down the Number Line is the 3.0 anthem, Kill Devil Falls has surely become a quick fan fav with its infectious lyrics, driving rhythms and optimistic viewpoint. In short, its a rager with monster potential.

The central line of this song appears to me as an open ended question. Most certainly THIS time, meaning 3.0, has been different. Much better than the aborted 2.0.

More than ever, this band is speaking to us in the album, directly to the fans and to themselves. Nostalgia is high with a tip of the hat to the past and a giant leap towards the future.

This album is by no means great, and i can tell you that without listening to the whole thing. But after a summer of hearing these songs evolve, its cool to hear what they sounded like before they hit the stage. Like any album, many of these songs will be put on the back bench, while some with be thrust into the permanent rotation. Some will be reworked and have second lives and others will be barely heard from again.

Full song by song analysis coming...likely late as always.