Album Review: Sept. 25, 2007 Releases

October 6, 2007

Three of my favorite bands released new albums a few weeks ago.

The Foo Fighters released a greatly anticipated album: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.

David Crowder released Remedy.

Iron & Wine released The Shepherd’s Dog.

I would recommend all three albums to anyone. The new Foo is just simply a rock album at it’s finest. Grohls guitar and vocals drive the songs as usual, and the drumming is kicked up since In Your Honor (read: actually interesting to listen to). Honestly, I just put the first three tracks plus Cheer Up Boys (Your Makeup is Running) on repeat and chill to that for a while.

Remedy is another strong offering from DCB, but it is hard to get much better than A/B Collision was. However, there are strong points to the album. O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing is simply a perfect remake of this hymn for a contemporary ear. We Won’t Be Quiet features something entirely unexpected: The Nuge. Deadly Tedly. Ted Nugent apparently was listening to A Collision and thought that the guitar work was amazing. He gave Crowder a call and said that he wanted to jam with him sometime, and that led to a 100% Nugent solo on the new track.

Now as for Sam Beam’s latest works; they’re…interesting? If I am ever in the mood to be put into a wonderful mood I through on Our Endless Numbered Day by Iron & Wine, but The Shepherd’s Dog is something completely different. It appears as though Beam learned about post-production and all sorts of modulation for both vocals and instruments. And then, like any kid with a new toy, he played with them far too much. I did the same thing. The first digital music I made had flanged phasers on every instrument on every note. It sounded like a good idea at the time, because I was learning how to use them at a level I thought (without much foresight)  was appropriate.

So, that which is Iron & Wine (Sam Beam and the self-actualized beard that graces his face) went a little happy with the effects this time around? Does it make the songs bad? Not by any means. It adds an element that has been absent in other recordings; Rolling Stone would call this “gravitas” though I am inclined to disagree. However, it isn’t the Iron & Wine I was expecting. I suppose I saw it coming, and dreaded it, but could not have imagined the outcome would be like this.

But as I said, the effects do not a bad album make. It just takes away from that brutally honest, raw, lo-fi folk with astoundingly naked notes and instruments. It instead adds layers that produce sometimes haunting overtones. “White Tooth Man” is the most lo-fi sounding track on the album, and as such is my favorite. However, “Carousel” comes in a close second. In the track, Beam adds a very neat organ-style chorus effect to his voice, and this makes the song come alive and yet sound so dead at the same time.  In yet other tracks, GASP, electric guitars can be heard.

It’s raining, it’s storming, it’s time for me to be snoring.


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