Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 24

Album Review Saturdays 2024 have seen some delays and issues as of late, but the attempt to get back on track is upon us.  This Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 24 showcases a very well known DJ producer, of which we’ve done a Meal To Music in the past (so we’re always up for a new album in this club/mix/ genre).  We also dip into the latest from a Norwegian singer, songwriter that has truly delivered a very cohesive, inspiring and wonderfully dense concept record that truly comes from the “heart” of everything, if you will.  Then, it’s a return to form for The Decemberists in my opinion and with a progressively forged ending that leaves you wondering what is coming next!

Clean up Episode 22 and 23

Okay, so if you are following us religiously in the articles (thank you), you’ll note that we missed #23.  You also know that Episode 22 came in only as video due to the travels I have with my daughters for Lacrosse.  I’m trying to keep both written and video rolling, so Episode 24 is below.  As for the missing Episode 23?  I’m holding it back because of the health issues of our panelist, “The Grateful Dude” as the albums that were selected I would really love to do with him, as I know how excited he was about them.  I also don’t want to give anything away in the written format before hand, so please hang in there.  I am hoping that he will eventually return to the show, so we can showcase the five albums we had on the docket, which were previewed weeks ago as the new Willie Nelson, “The Border” and into the stoner rock of Young Acid’s “Murder At Maple Mountain” with one other written review and two other special reviews on the video side.  As I’m writing this, I’m in the business center of the Sheraton in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts with the hopes of getting the YouTube version of Album Review Saturdays Episode 24 posted on time (fingers crossed).

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discusses these (3) albums and adds three more at the end!]

 

RJD2 – Visions Out of Limelight

I’ve always loved that he worked his name into the overall name, and how it has a hint to the Star Wars character.  Ramble Jon Krohn is one of those music-minded producer, DJ, songwriters that makes you really stand up and take notice of the electronica environment and genre and the purse overall scope and reach that it can ensnare.  Sure there are misses along the way, which were only in part for me due to the amount vulgarity that was utilized.  And, when one of those albums went into a instrumental only mode, I was completely smitten.  I even did a Meal To Music to it, which was six courses for thirteen people.  It was the “STS: Instrumental” album that I utilized.  So, needlessly to say, I understand great music and how it brings more to the table (you got that right?).

Visions Out of Limelight, which is probably going to be considered his eighth studio album (hard to keep track with the instrumental versions and other projects), is another production notch in his skillful belt in production and music development.  When you look at the list of bands that he has had the pleasure of doing remix workings with (Elbow, Massive Attack, Yo La Tango, and MosDef) you get a feel for the depth of his music appreciation and willingness to create blends that might not fall under the usual soundscape.  Visions Out of Limelight falls into the same category of meshing and blending, and it has a palette changing track list that encompasses a lot, but keeps them slightly connected, and tightly on the rails (rather than going dangerously off the rails, which can happen in these types of productions).  I think one of the reasons for that is the limitation on additional players/vocalists in this recording, featuring only Jamie Lidell and Jordan Brown (no stranger to the RJD2 environment), so there’s a completely comfortability and fit within it.  Jamie Lidell an English musician with all kind of music-Cred met via Ohio connection, utilizing his vocal on ‘Through It All.’  The rest is pure Krohn, dabbling, crushing, sampling and bring it all together.

‘Cold Eggs’ kicks this album off in a big sound way propelling us into ‘Catch the Exit Door,’ which is a prime example of why he’s important to the music multiverse.  The dope, full on production and soul and funk of it is engaging to the point where I would find it impossible to not suddenly start swaying and dancing to it.  The percussion is front and center and has an infectious island-DJ vibe meets big band respect.  It is fearless in old world like approach, directing it, feeding his program and production scape. Crazy eighth album you might say, but it has definitely found its way as a frequent playing favorite in his catalog with flare and funk.  It’s ‘A Real Screamer’ that should be indulged upon with the best of speaker intentions!

The Band

  • Ramble Jon Krohn – production and mixing
  • Charles Valentine – effects
  • Additional vocals:  Jamie Lidell, Jordan Brown

Visions Out of Limelight Tracklisting

  1. Cold Eggs
  2. Catch The Exit Door
  3. Through it All (featuring – Jamie Lidell)
  4. What I Do, Man
  5. Es El Nuevo Estilo
  6. Resting On The One
  7. Fools at the Haul (featuring – Jordan Brown)
  8. Wild for the Night
  9. Another Dime From Messoud
  10. Apocalypse March
  11. A Real Screamer
  12. Full Time Move, Jack
  13. Asphalt Lamentations

 

AuroraWhat Happened To the Heart?

The first time I ever bought an Aurora record, I did so based on the cover in the used section of the record store.  It was based on believing the look and feel of the cover to be a metal type record.  Boy was I sort of wrong, right (for those of you that know this Norwegian singer songwriter’s talents).  That album was called “All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend.”  Sometimes you’re either not prepared, your expectations are completely off, and the album doesn’t find it’s way out of that year (when you’re a record buyer, listening enthusiasts).  That’s kind of what happened to Aurora and my first experience.  Hold on, though, because I was foolish to have been mislead by my expectations.

What Happened To the Heart? is an amazing recording that does not waste a solitary musical space to enrapture audio to the heart of the listening experience.  And it starts directly with her voice.  The heart of this particular experience.  The notes, scales and waves of classical pitch and tone is amazingly played out.  “If my life is just a moment and this world is ancient, then the light through my window will…fade” she sings beautifully to the ‘Echo of Her Shadow.’  This is deep but attainable listening experience that uses every shape and design of her vocal in front and wave, in loop and pace to an extent I have not seen present in much these days.  There’s a patience and a place for everything from synth-pop to indie-pop rock to electro Nordic-folk and borderline Bjork vocal entanglement ingenuity, which are totally present in ‘The Conflict of the Mind’ (which actually reminded me of Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip lyrically).

This is not going to appeal to rock lovers, as they’re going to have some chamber feeling in instances, but they lead to so much more.  I kind of encourage them to get into the spirit of the progressive nature of it (Mellatron people).  Lean away from the impact of supposedly what a guitar chord can do, and find the Kate Bush of it like that of ‘The Dark Dresses Lightly,’ and find the rapture of her vocal and the bombastic delivery that reaches unique positions along with the synthesizer led musical arrangements.  There’s nothing cheesy about it, and it is not a homage to the 1980’s.  The lyrical quality and dimension of it alone makes that impossible to even consider.  Don’t worry you will get there with sitar and guitar (‘A Soul With No King’).  The music and the design of the instrumentations are deliberate, accurate, and amazingly played to be the accompaniment to the amazing levels of voice.  Yes, they’re enhanced to production, but your voice has to be beyond magical for it to work and sound pitch perfect like this does.  It’s miraculously made, laid out, and conceptually pieced record, leaving impressions, visuals and beautifully entangled shifts to release tension and feel the emotions of this concept album that knows the true heart of making an album…bring it from the heart through the heart and into the music multiverse at full gorgeous force (that of true nature…of man and earth).  This is my critical favorite album for the year so far at the halfway point hands down!  If you don’t know Aurora, it’s time!  This album is absolutely perfect.

The Band

  • Aurora – lead vocals (all tracks), backing vocals (tracks 1–5, 7, 16), percussion (4, 8, 9, 13, 14); Mellotron, Mellotron programming (4); piano (5, 9), keyboards (8, 13, 14); synthesizer, drums (11, 12, 15)
  • Matias Tellez – guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizer, programming (tracks 1, 2, 7, 16)
  • Adam Schoeller – drum programming (track 3)
  • Asher Bank – drums (track 3)
  • Chris Greatti – bass, Juno-106 programming (tracks 3–5); guitar (3, 4), percussion (3), drum programming (4), EBow guitar (5)
  • Liam Hall – Juno-106 (track 3)
  • Kieran Brunt – vocal ensemble conductor (tracks 5, 10, 16)
  • Shards – vocal ensemble (tracks 5, 10, 16)
  • Kane Richotte – drums (track 5)
  • Michelle Leonard – backing vocals (tracks 6, 8, 13, 14), keyboards (8), synthesizer programming (13), synthesizer (14)
  • Nicolas Rebscher – guitar (tracks 6, 8, 13, 14); bass, drum programming, keyboards, percussion (8, 13)
  • Steve Durham – drums (tracks 8, 14)
  • Håkon Aase – fiddle (tracks 9, 11, 12)
  • Vetle Junker – vocals, guitar, drums, programming (track 10)
  • Magnus Skylstad – bass, synthesizer, drums, percussion (tracks 11, 12, 15)
  • Runyu Qian – pipa (track 11)
  • Ane Brun – vocals (track 11)
  • Fredrik Svabø – bass (track 12)
  • Dave Hamelin – keyboards, percussion, drum programming (track 14)
  • Tom Rowlands – synthesizer, drums, drum programming (track 15)

What Happened To the Heart? Tracklisting

  1. Echo of My Shadow
  2. To Be Alright
  3. Your Blood
  4. Conflict of the Mind
  5. Some Type of Skin
  6. The Essence
  7. Earthly Delights
  8. The Dark Dresses Lightly
  9. A Soul With No King
  10. Dreams
  11. My Name
  12. Do You Feel
  13. Starvation
  14. The Blade
  15. My Body Is Not Mine
  16. Invisible Wounds

 

The DecemberistsAs It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again

The obscurely named Russian revolutionists are back.  Truly back, and they’re not Russian I know, but I just adore that their name comes from red revolution and how it somehow leads to their unusual blend of indie rock and maritime tales of mortality, mortal woes, and well, sometimes just waiting for someone to mow a field, as in ‘The Reapers.’  We can cleverly go to ‘Shankill Butchers’ to ‘William Fitzwilliam’ to the delights of ‘Burial Ground’ from a never-ending catalog of truly riveting lyricism that lives in a fantastical realism.  There, now you know how I digest my The Decemberists.  As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again fits perfectly into my digestion and love for this quirky, catchy and divine band of unapologetic and revered troubadours led into the deep by the pied piper leader, Colin Meloy, and his band of mischievous musicians.

More of the same?!  Hell to the ‘Oh No!’ (which blends The Decemberists and The Squirrel Nut Zippers with the devil and the devil we all know).  It is, and it isn’t, which is the greatest gift of this record.  While you cannot deny the love for what they are and deliver, you do look for something of a risk, but still want that Colin-comfort.  This is the pleasure and pleasure you know from As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again.  There is pleasure around most corners and song to song with puns, brief allegories (nothing as long as Tolkien – or is there?) and the wonderful playful melodies that march us in and our the variety of songs that story us into usual and unusual places.  The vocals, harmonies and lyrical patterns are there and again, and so it is.  But, what comes at the end leaves you far from the devil you know and waiting in a progressively natured purgatory (not the belly of a whale kind of wait), but that of something ready to blow in and sweep the very thing that is The Decemberists away.  Will it?  Will they turn Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and old Genesis…as ‘Joan in the Garden’ leads us to believe in the epic 19-plus minute ender?  I know we’re all going to wait anxiously to find out, as I hear no reason why The Decemberists should suddenly anchor down and retire from the storytelling spotlight anytime soon.

The Band

  • Colin Meloy – Lead vocals and guitar
  • Chris Funk – Guitar and multi-instrumentalist
  • Jenny Conlee – Piano, keyboards, accordion, and backing vocals
  • Nate Query – Bass
  • John Moen – Drums

Special guests:  James Mercer (The Shins), Mike Mills (R.E.M.)

As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again Tracklisting

  1. Burial Ground
  2. Oh No!
  3. The Reapers
  4. Long White Veil
  5. William Fitzwilliam
  6. Don’t Go to the Woods
  7. The Black Maria
  8. All I Want Is You
  9. Born to the Morning
  10. America Made Me
  11. Tell Me What’s on Your Mind
  12. Never Satisfied
  13. Joan in the Garden
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