Album Debate

Album Debate: Dredg- El Cielo vs Catch Without Arms

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Dredg is one of the most underrated, artistic and intriguing bands of the last couple decades. They have been been one of the most consistent bands that chose art over the easy way out. During this time, Dredg have released 5 full length albums all of which stand on their own artistic integrity. There are 2 albums that I’d like to focus on. The bands second and third albums El Cielo and Catch Without Arms are not just artistically sound but also two albums that have helped to influence and inspire countless of other bands.

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Album Debate: Type O Negative Bloody Kisses vs October Rust

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Type O Negative, one of rock er I should say one of heavy rock’s coolest and very influential bands has quite the catalog. The band was quite the group incorporating metal, goth, post punk, and doom to their sound. They left a profound imprint on the scene. And since the passing of frontman and bassist Peter Steele in 2010, the heavy music world hasn’t been the same. Type O Negative have two albums that really stand out and are often debated as to which one is best. I too have long debated these two albums as well and go back and forth as to which one is best. So lets break it down and finally come out with a winner.

First up is Bloody Kisses, the breakthrough album that put the band on the map. This was also the first album for Roadrunner Records to achieve gold and platinum status. Bloody Kisses also saw the band fully move towards the “goth metal” realm and incorporate samples and humorous (though often dry humor) interludes. Certain songs like “Christian Woman,” “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All),” “Bloody Kisses (A Death In The Family),” “We Hate Everyone,” and “Blood and Fire,” are tremendous stand out songs and really showcase the greatness of this album. Also included on the album is a cover of the Seals and Crofts song “Summer Breeze” which is actually quite a cool version. All in all, Bloody Kisses is a landmark album that really set a bar and influenced so many.

The follow up to Bloody Kisses is October Rust. This album saw the band move more toward a solemn wavelength and get more into the goth side of things and departing a bit from the “metal” that a lot of fans had come to equate with the band. Similar themes are still present on October Rust like life, death, sex, sensuality, romance and depression. Only on this album it seems that it comes across as more personal and darker than on previous albums. Songs that have always stood out to me on this album are “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend,” “Love You To Death,” “Green Man,” “Die With Me,” “Haunted,” and the very excellent cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” Since Bloody Kisses set the bar, October Rust is the logical follow up but also the chance the band needed to take.

Choosing between these two albums is quite hard, and if pressed to pick one, I’m going to have to go with October Rust. It’s just a personal preference but, to me there is a lot more depth and darkness to this album than Bloody Kisses. Don’t get me wrong, Bloody Kisses is great and its quite possibly the bands best work but, October Rust is the one I gravitate to more and connect with.

What one do you think is best?

 

Bloody Kisses:

 

October Rust:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album Debate: Jane’s Addiction Nothing’s Shocking vs Ritual De Lo Habitual

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One of the best bands from the early 90’s alternative scene has to be hands down Jane’s Addiction. They were such a bright spot for artistic imagination. Their influence of many genres allowed their music to go beyond the norm. During their brief early career, they managed to release two of the most iconic alternative albums ever, Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual De Lo Habitual.

Nothing’s Shocking is their absolute gem in their catalog. There is something truly spectacular about this album. A good portion of the best songs on the album were written by Eric Avery. Dave Navarro’s guitar playing has always been underrated in my opinion. And Stephen Perkins drumming is always right on. Songs like “Mountain Song,” “Had A Dad,” “Ocean Size,” “Pigs In Zen,” “Ted, Just Admit It,” and the ever overplayed “Jane Says,” are all complete standouts. The entire album start to finish is great.

Ritual De Lo Habitual really took a chance in exploring where the band could go. They really experimented with genres mixing in a bit of funk to their vibe. It’s this album that I think persuaded the Red Hot Chili Peppers to ask Dave Navarro to join the band for One Hot Minute (another unsung masterpiece in my humble opinion). There was also an added element of pop music in the way of really catchy choruses in songs like “Stop!,” and “Been Caught Stealing.” But there are such other great songs on this album like “Three Days,” “Obvious,” Ain’t No Right,” and “Of Course.”

Jane’s Addiction through all their ego trips and break ups have remained one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years. These two albums have helped influence countless bands over the years. The way they kept to their artistic integrity shows how creative they really are.

If I had to pick between these two I’d go towards Nothing’s Shocking. I jut love the purity in that album and the songs. That album has always stood out to me amongst their catalog and holds up beyond them all.

What do you think is the best?

 

Nothing’s Shocking:

 

Ritual De Lo Habitual:

 

By: Brian Lacy

 

Album Debate: Smashing Pumpkins Disc 1 vs Disc 2 of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

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Since it’s been 20 years since Smashing Pumpkins double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness came out, I thought this would be a great topic for an album debate. Since it’s a double album the debate is between what disc you prefer. Disc 1 is entitled Dawn to Dusk and features classic like “Zero,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” and “Tonight, Tonight” along with some great deep cuts like “An Ode To No One,” “Jellybelly,” and “Muzzle.”  This part of the album is heavier and filled with more rage. Disc 2 entitled Twilight To Starlight is loaded with songs that show a more mellow side of things. Songs like classics “1979,”  and “Thirty-Three,” really set the tone of this side of the album. Other deep cuts like “XYU,” “Bodies,” “Where Boys Fear To Tread,” also give this side a kick in the teeth to break up the solemn mellowness.

I for one am a big fan of the album and depending on my mood it differs on which one I pick. I will say though that if I ha to pick one side, I would absolutely pick Disc 1: Dawn To Dusk. I just love the way the songs all flow into each other and the way that you can get so wrapped up in the angst but all the while there is a calming sense nestled in each song.  Not to take anything away from Disc 2: Twilight To Starlight, which is an entirely different beast all on it’s own.
What side do you pick?

Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness:

Album Debate: Joy Division Unknown Pleasures vs Closer

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One of my favorite things to do when I love a band so much is to delve into what influenced them. Throughout the years of my obsession with Nine Inch Nails, I read that Joy Division was a huge influence on Trent Reznor. So years ago I went out and bought all the Joy Division albums and listened to them over and over, realizing why Trent loved them so much. Which now brings me to todays topic, which Joy Division album is better, Unknown Pleasures or Closer.

Unknown Pleasures was released in June of 1979. Interestingly no singles were released from the album. This album is considered one of the most influential albums in the post-punk movement. There are so many great songs on this album from “Day Of The Lords,” “New Dawn Fades,” Shadowplay,” and “She’s Lost Control.” There is something beautiful and haunting about this album. The desperation of Ian Curtis’s voice, is so dyer and urgent that it makes the music even more driving. I can’t forget about the cover art, which is such a seminal part of music history. It’s kind of sad that hipsters have hijacked the cover and made put it on all their urban outfitters clothing.

Closer was released in July 1980. This album took a  darker approach and instilled a more gothic feel to it. This was a giant step in the creativity and songwriting of Joy Division. there are lots of critics out there that claim Closer to be the bands masterpiece. Ian Curtis had committed suicide two months prior to the release of Closer. The songs on this album really delved deeper into Ian’s problems with depression and seizures. “Atrocity Exhibition,” “Passover,” Twenty Four Hours,” “Heart and Soul,” really show the progress the band had made since their debut.

It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite, but If I had to I’d go with Unknown Pleasures. There is something about that album that really strikes a chord with me. There is a wonderful influence of The Velvet Underground and The Doors that rings throughout the album. I also love the production of it. Closer is more in line with what New Order would go on to do. I enjoy New Order, but I love Joy Division.

What are your thoughts?

Unknown Pleasures:

Closer:

By: Brian Lacy

Album Debate: Marilyn Manson Antichrist Superstar vs Mechanical Animals

279371In the late 90’s Marilyn Manson released two albums that cemented his place in the rock world. His breakthrough album, Antichrist Superstar came out in 1996. This album was produced by Trent Reznor at Nothing Studios in New Orleans. The album was was met with a slew of controversy and excitement. It should also be noted that this was all part of a “rock opera” trilogy. Even though Antichrist was released first, it is the final installment of the trilogy. Holy Wood is actually the first.  Antichrist had a real heavy industrial edge to it, along with a raw mentality that allowed it to have a cool, sinister and taunting feeling. There are so many songs on the album that are standouts besides just “The Beautiful People.” Songs like “Tourniquet,” “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” (Which is the albums opener), “Cryptorchid,” Antichrist Superstar,” are all standouts.

Then in 1998, Manson released Mechanical Animals. This album has a much different feel to it that comes completely from left field. I’ve always sort of felt that Mechanical Animals was his David Bowie album, in the way his persona and the music changed. Originally, The Dust Brothers were going to collaborate with Manson, but nothing really came of those sessions. Later on Manson’s friend, Billy Corgan served as an unofficial music consultant for the band during these early stages. After playing a few of the early songs for him, Corgan advised the band that “This is definitely the right direction” but to “go all the way with it. Don’t just hint at it.” When it was time to go into the studio Michael Beinhorn was chased to produce that album. Beinhorn whose credits include Soundgarden’s Superunknown,  was wrapping up work on Hole’s Celebrity Skin album before coming aboard for these sessions. Musically this album is a deep departure from Antichrist, but it is also one of the most thought provoking albums of Manson’s career along with his newest album The Pale Emperor. Songs like “The Dope Show” and “I Don’t Like The Drugs,” are fun and catchy and a typical singles, but then when you really delve into the album you come across songs like the very impressive “Coma White,” “The Speed Of Pain,” “Dissociative.” Those songs really make an impact on a entirely different level.

As you all know I’m a huge Trent Reznor fan, and you would think because of that I would pick Antichrist over Mechanical, but I actually like the songs better on Mechanical thought I love the production on Antichrist better. I think Michael Beinhorn is a horrible producer that does too many things to make it sound polished and compressed. So my pick for this debate is Mechanical Animals. Can you imagine what Mechanical would have sounded like had Trent done this one too?

Antichrist Superstar:

Mechanical Animals:

Album Debate: System Of A Down: Self Titled vs Toxicity

soadlogoWhen System Of A Down first came on the scene, it was something intriguing and exciting. Their debut album was released in June of 1998. At first they enjoyed a bit of success following the release of the singles for “Sugar” and “Spiders.” It was also during this time that they went out on tour with Metallica, Slayer and Ozzfest. The group’s big break arrived when their second album Toxicity was released September 4, 2001 and debuted at No. 1 on the charts. Even through the events of September 11, Toxicity would go on to see over 3 million copies in the US and has since sold over 12 million copies worldwide. With songs like “Chop Suey,” “Toxicity,” and “Aerials,” it’s no wonder this album went on to be as big as it was.

Personally, I enjoy the first album more. The message is still the same throughout all their albums, but the sense of urgency of the delivery on the first album really comes through. The production on the first album is a bit more raw as well. Not to take anything away from how good Toxicity is, that album to me just has a bit too much polish on it, almost to the point of being too theatrical. The first two System albums are awesome. It’s too bad they couldn’t carry on this level after. Their follow ups were miserable and lackluster.

What do you think?

System Of A Down- System Of A Down:

System Of A Down- Toxicity:

By: Brian Lacy

Album Debate: Alice In Chains- Unplugged VS Nirvana- Unplugged

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Both of these albums are amazing. They each possess something great and powerful. Alice In Chains and Nirvana were so different from each other musically, yet were able to reach the same generation. The voices of Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain are without a doubt, pure, honest and as real as real can be. This is one of those debates that is really hard to pick one. It all depends on what camp you land in.

The Alice In Chains unplugged album to me is my favorite. When the band went in to perform this, it had been quite a few years since Alice had last performed live. Layne even jokes during the show that this is the best show they’ve played in a few years to which Jerry Cantrell replies Yeah it’s the only show we’ve played in a few years. Granted Layne was high as a kite during the filming, he was pretty much spot on throughout (though he did flub up the beginning of “Sludge Factory”). The set list they chose for the night was perfect and each song brilliantly executed. Opening with “Nutshell” was outstanding and closing with a new song “Killer Is Me,” was another great choice.

The Nirvana unplugged album has been hailed as the best of the series. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s the best of the series, but I will say it is the best thing that Nirvana ever did. I love the fact that they did what they wanted to do and played what they wanted as well. Their cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World,” is one of my favorite covers ever and one of the best covers of all time. The set list they chose was great as well. The version of “Pennyroyal Tea” is haunting as well as the closing song of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” with that scream at the end, which still sends me chills when I hear it.

Both albums are great in their own right. I still always will pick the Alice In Chains album, but if I’m ever in the mood to listen to Nirvana I always pick the unplugged.

Where do you stand?

 

Alice In Chains- Unplugged:

 

Nirvana-Unplugged:

 

By: Brian Lacy

Album Debate: Deftones- Around The Fur vs White Pony

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I’ve been a huge Deftones fan since I first remember seeing the video for “Bored.” I thought Adrenaline was a cool album when it came out, then I heard Around The Fur and my excitement level went through the roof. Around The Fur was so powerful. There was a striking difference between this album and their debut. As The story goes, when Deftones went into the studio to make Around The Fur they really didn’t have a set idea of what they wanted to come out with. This time around the guys spent more time in the studio with producer Terry Date. If you listen closely to Abe Cunningham’s drums, you can tell there is a difference on the drum sounds especially the snare, as he began to experiment using different snares on each song. There is also something really intriguing about the quiet to loud dynamics on the album as well. When you have songs like “My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Lhabia,” Around The Fur,” “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” it really shows the bands growth and ability to write songs that can be heavy yet have a sense of melody without compromising their artistic integrity. 

After a break from touring Around The Fur, the band spent a few months locked away in the studio  writing and recording what would become White Pony. The majority of this time was spent trying to write songs, and that the writing of a particular song “Change (In The House Of Flies)” was the turning point for the group as they began working as a “band.” There was also pressure from their label to release the album sooner, but,  the band decided to take their time making the album that they wanted to make. The band essentially picked up where they left off with Around The Fur by really delving more into melancholia and melody. The album is explosive and beautiful, thus making it one of the bands most mature releases. The inclusion of songs like “Digital Bath” “RX Queen,” (which features guest vocals by Scott Weiland), and “Knife Party,” join in with the vibe that “Change” had in its spaciousness and use of experimentation. The guesting of Maynard from Tool was a great use of a guest vocalist on “Passenger.” Even with all the experimentation and evolution, Deftones still had their heavy touch on a lot of the songs like “Elite,” “Feiticeira,” and “Street Carp.”

Granted these are two very different albums but they are similar in showing a bands evolution. Personally I’ve always been more partial to Around The Fur, for it’s raw prowess, and unforgiving nature. White Pony is a close second though. To me though Around The Fur just really gets me going in such a fashion that I can’t turn it off, or even turn the volume down. Where do you fall on this issue?

 

Around The Fur:

 

White Pony:

 

By: Brian Lacy

 

Album Debate: Pearl Jam TEN or VS

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To create an album that is absolutely memorable, relatable, and sonically amazing is no easy task. However during the musical renaissance of the 90’s there was an abundance of bands that did just that. Pearl Jam came out swinging with their debut album TEN. Songs like “Once,” “Black,” “Garden,” “Alive,” hell the entire album is a gem. There is not one ounce of filler on this album. The only thing I can really pick on about the album are the mixes. The band was never completely satisfied with the final result. When TEN was re-released, longtime producer Brendan O’Brien remixed it to the way the band had envisioned it originally. You can definitely tell the difference. A couple years later in 1993, Pearl Jam released what I consider to be their finest piece of work, VS. This album had a much more together feel along with a rawer and more aggressive sound. There was also a more natural, band-oriented album, rather than each member bringing in a bunch of songs that was already arranged. It really does show. As a whole its a more cohesive put together album. This is where the bands identity lies. It also showed a broad section of the band and their ability to do ballads, faster songs, slow songs, and the more punk driven songs. Again, there is not one song on this album that is filler. From the heavier side of things like “Go,” “Animal,” “Rearviewmirror,” to the more delicate like “Daughter,” “Elderly Woman…” and “Dissident” and closing it out with the more than beautiful “Indifference,” this is such a well rounded album.

Obviously I pick VS as my favorite album of theirs. Where do you stand?

 

By: Brian Lacy