Solo Album Spotlight

Solo Album Spotlight: Jonathan Davis- Black Labyrinth

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For a long time now, over 20 years actually, I’ve been a fan of Korn. Their early albums were some of the albums that shaped my teenage years. The lyrics of Jonathan Davis have always stood out. The guy bares his soul for the world and people to feel like they aren’t alone. Since Korn hit the scene, Jonathan has been one of the best frontmen in rock. The delivery of the songs each and every night while on stage is almost like a purge of demons from inside. During the height of Korn, Jonathan was asked to work on the soundtrack for the film Queen Of The Damned. The movie was pretty bad but, the soundtrack was excellent. There were 5 original songs written for the film by Jonathan though, label interference got in the way of releasing the songs on the soundtrack with Jonathan singing on them. Either way, at this point, I started to wonder what a solo Jonathan Davis album might sound like.

Fast forward many years till now, 2018, and we now have the first solo album, Black Labyrinth by Jonathan Davis. This album has been in the works for over 10 year and is pretty much a departure from what Korn is. Everything from the instrumentation, production, musical styles, and some of the lyrical content is different. There are moments on the album that hark back to the new wave/ new romantic era of the 80’s, along with some interesting goth vibes. There is even a bit of an early 90’s alternative sound, more in the realm of a band like Porno For Pyros. Something else that makes Black Labryinth interesting and different are the explorations of different styles from all over the world. The use of certain flutes, percussion, and other instruments, give this album a trippy almost psychedelic sense. The exploration of genres on this record is really cool. As well as the genres I mentioned above, there is a bit of an industrial/electronic vibe going on. Different guests appeared on the album like Wes Borland, Ray Luzier, Miles Mosley and more. There are so many songs that really stand out like “Final Days, “Everyone,” “Basic Needs (which is my favorite song on the record),” Your God,” “The Secret,” “Please Tell Me,” “What You Believe,” and “What It Is.” The entire album is an experience from start to finish. Those songs mentioned are just the ones that have really hit home a bit more for me

Black Labyrinth showcases how talented Davis is as a songwriter. His knack for writing powerful songs both musically and lyrically is astounding. The fact that he’s remained relevant for over 20 years shows the power music has, as well as a loyal fanbase. Never mind the fact that most of these songs were written about 10 years ago, they still hold meaning and fit perfectly today. The last Korn record, The Serenity Of Suffering was a resurgence of creativity in the right path for the band, and by releasing this solo album, it’s allowed Jonathan the chance to really explore all the things he’s wanted to do. I’m very interested to hear both the next Korn album and Jonathan’s solo record. Give Black Labyrinth a chance and I bet you’ll be rather surprised by what you hear.

 
Jonathan Davis- Black Labyrinth:

 

 

 

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Solo Album Spotlight: Scott Weiland- 12 Bar Blues

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To this day, I will always remember the first time I heard “Lady, You Roof Brings Me Down.” I was sitting in my room doing my homework and listening to the radio and then there it was. I thought to myself, this doesn’t sound like Stone Temple Pilots but, that’s Scott singing. I was absolutely engrossed by what I was hearing. Then the song ends and the DJ says that it’s a song from Scott’s upcoming solo album and from the film Great Expectations.

Fast forward a bit and I now have Scott’s solo album, 12 Bar Blues in my stereo and I’m playing it on repeat. There was something odd and strange about this album and at that age I wasn’t quite sure what I was hearing and where this influence was coming from. So, I did what I’ve always done and really looked into it. To me 12 Bar Blues was an album Scott made to pay homage to those that really influenced and inspired him over the years. There is a real David Bowie and Iggy Pop element to the record among many others like Lou Reed and some in the R&B world.
The album was also made while Scott was deeply into his addiction and you can hear those nuances in the instrumentation, chord progressions, melodies and lyrics. You could tell, even back when STP made Tiny Music From The Vatican Gift Shop, that Scott was looking to explore different styles and sounds to break away from the “rock” sound, and he managed to create something that really stood out in a good way. When you listen to songs like “Desperation No. 5,” “Barbarella,” “Where’s The Man,” “Cool Kiss,” and “Mockingbird Girl” you can really hear the escape Scott was plotting as well as the influence. The album as a whole is a true piece of art and deserves to be acknowledged as such. For Scott’s first foray into making a “solo album” he really set a high bar for himself and others in his genre to follow.

 

Scott Weiland- 12 Bar Blues:

Solo Album Spotlight: Liam Gallagher- As You Were

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Solo albums are quite interesting to make. On one hand you want to make something different than the band you are/were in. And on the other you want to still be yourself. Recently a friend of mine told me I needed to check out the solo album from Oasis singer Liam Gallagher. At first I was a little hesitant but, after the first song was over, I was completely sold. Liam Gallagher’s debut solo album As You Were, is outstanding. The voice of Oasis is alive and well and it feels like a rebirth of sorts. Following the break up of Oasis, Liam and the remaining members started a new band called Beady Eye. That band seemed to fall short of what their previous band did. Though on this solo album, Liam is right back where he belongs. From the start of the first song “Wall Of Glass” all the way through to “I’ve All I Need” you get a sense that this is the album Liam was meant to make since Oasis’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. There are so many stand out songs on this album like “Bold,” “Greedy Soul,” “For What It’s Worth,” (which is my favorite song as of this writing), “When I’m In Need,” “I Get By” and “Come Back To Me.” All the songs flow in the way an album should but, they also stand out on their own. The only complaint I have about the album, is that the production is a little too slick at times. Part of what makes Liam stand out among other singers of his time, is the gritty and raspy vocals he emits. That part aside, this album is truly great. As You Were deserves your attention and to be in your collection.

 

Liam Gallagher- As You Were:

 

 

Solo Album Spotlight: Dale Crover- The Fickle Finger of Fate

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Solo albums can be tricky at times. People expect you to do something similar to the band you are already a part of, and the expectations are often very high. That is a huge conundrum for singers but, when other members branch out and try something else, the results are often quite interesting. Dale Crover, drummer for the legendary and very influential band The Melvins, has released a solo album that is a sharp left turn away from his norm. The Fickle Finger of Fate, the first ever solo album from Crover, is full of interesting melodies and tinges of the late 60’s and early 70’s rock. There is a sheer excitment that comes over the listener as the album rolls on. This solo effort really shows how integral Dale is to The Melvins and all the other bands he’s been a part of.

Dale is one of the most underrated drummers/musicians of the last 30 years. This solo album is an extension of what fans of his already know. He’s made an album that allows him to show another side of his personality and abilities. I for one welcome the change of pace from his “day job.” The elements of pop, psychedelia, experimental, and rock really go deep into the psyche of Dale. Songs like “Bad Move,” “Little Brother,” and “Hillbilly Math,” are great examples of the depth of the album.

 

Bad Move:


Little Brother:


Hillbilly Math:

 

Solo Album Spotlight: Jerry Cantrell- Degradation Trip

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Ever since I started Audioeclectica, I’ve constantly been thinking of different topic ideas to add to the fun. One that I’ve been thinking about a lot as of late is a spotlight on solo albums. There are so many out there and certain ones really deserve to be given their proper due. Solo albums are tricky to pull off. A lot of the time the solo album tends to fall flat or sound too similar to the artists main band.

Back in 2002 following the passing of Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell was readying a new solo album. The album was recorded before Layne had passed but, was dedicated to him when the album was released two months later. The album I’m speaking of is Degradation Trip. This opus is truly a remarkable album. The story behind it is pretty interesting too.  To quote Jerry, “In ’98, I locked myself in my house, went out of my mind, and wrote 25 songs. I rarely bathed during that period of writing; I sent out for food; I didn’t really venture out of my house in three or four months. It was a hell of an experience.” Something else that makes Degradation Trip a stand out solo album is Jerry using a different backing band, enlisting the help  Mike Bordin (Faith No More, ex- Ozzy Osbourne) on drums and Robert Trujillo (Metallica, ex- Ozzy Osbourne. Another intriguing tidbit about this album is that while making it, Jerry would be left without a label and a slew of studio bills. Jerry would go on to mortgage his home to continue on making this record. Upon completion, Jerry would sign a new deal with Roadrunner Records. After the signing, the label had asked for the album to be condensed from 25 songs to 14, but promised it would release the other songs at some point. Which explains why there are two different versions of Degradation Trip.

Jerry Cantrell is one hell of a songwriter and on this album he really carves his own niche. While the material on this album has many similarities to Alice In Chains, there is a purity to it that makes this a memorable and artistic triumph. Songs like “Psychotic Break,” “Owned,” “Angel Eyes,” “Solitude,” “Hellbound,” “Gone,” “Castaway,” She Was My Girl,” “Anger Rising” and “Thanks Anyway” are among my favorites on the album. The guitar work on all throughout the album is masterful. Not only are Jerry’s riff skills impressive, his use of melody is what really separates him from the pack. Always one to write deep and introspective words, Jerry doesn’t stray from that on this album. In fact I find these songs to be some of the most poetic songs he’s written since Dirt.

Jerry Cantrell really comes through on delivering a true solo album. This album deserves to be regarded and given the proper accolades it deserves. It’s not easy to go out on your own especially when you are part of something as special as Alice In Chains but, Jerry did it with grace and artistry. Check out Degradation Trip and let the music consume you.

 

Jerry Cantrell- Degradation Trip Volumes I & II:

 

Anger Rising Video: