News and thoughts
* - The main dominating that has been released recently is Fear Inoculum. Can't get moved for every Tom, Dick and Harry talking about it, I've been called an "edge lord" (cheers Jonesy) for not saying it's the best thing ever upon release and reserving my opinion until I've listened to the album a few times. Tool have also finally decided to allow their music on streaming services (as well as preparing for the release of new music for the first time in thirteen years. Now, whilst I can see why there is a lot of excitement about this, I have to question that excitement as well.
Let's look at the streaming thing first, and most of my comments here are going to be about streaming services first. For the record, I love the music of Tool, I have seen them live a couple of time, I own Ænima, Undertow, 10,000 Days and Lateralus. But, I already own these, so having them on streaming services is not something that affects me too much, more on that later. I've a strange relationship on streaming services anyway. Even though I use them for review purposes, placed links on said reviews, I've always struggled to find one that gives back to the artists financial what they're worth. There is also something soulless about them, something that takes away from the magic of having music in your life. This is not due to choice, there are a million+ songs, EP's and albums that I would love to listen to. It's also a very useful way to listen to bands before purchasing albums (either digitally or on CD/Vinyl/Cassette/WHS/Betamax/Wax wheel). I get that some people have fallen for the idea of not owning the physical, to keep their houses like minimal hovels of beige vanilla thunder. Or, if you have a young family, to make sure that records are not used as plates or colouring boards.
But I digress here, which brings me to my "however", and this is a big "however". I cannot get excited over a back catalogue that I already own on these services, I just don't see the point. If you don't own the back catalogue, then that makes sense, but I'm one of those guys who likes to own records. There is also a strange thing which happens now when bands let their wears out on the cheap. This was the same with other big announcements (The Beatles, AC/DC, etc), it just drifts by to a certain degree. You have the initial buzz and then it's over, the mystery is gone and the next shiny ghost comes along. Also, when I can play anytime on my iPod/MP3 player/Phone by uploading copies I already own, sort of makes it even more redundant. "But why won't you stream it Carter????" I hear you cry. Well, in a Wi-Fi area, that might make sense, but I don't want to give a lot of my data package to this sort of thing. For me, it's something that I could have done for any time for years. Not a brag, it's probably a little (or a lot) condescending. But I really don't care, I'm just old school in that way - or "edge lord" (copyright Jonesy).
As I mentioned earlier, I cannot get excited when bands/artists are paid a criminal amount for each stream! When you get a chance, check out the figures. I don't think Tool are short of funds, they are doing canny well for themselves. It's more to do with the way that smaller bands who are at the poor end of the streaming spectrum, the ones who are starting out and struggling. They are the ones who get nowt and it sucks ball. I just wish bands were paid properly for their music by Spotify/Tidal/Deezer etc because they are the ones who have created the music in the first place.
Whilst I'm personally not excited by Tool joining the streaming world, I can get why other people were excited, that makes a lot of sense. Again, it comes down to being able to check out a band before purchasing it, which is good these days. But something I've heard over the last few years (especially what I heard when I appeared on the Bearded Gentlemen Music Podcast from May 2018, when the boss man John talks about his experience, you might think differently too), it dented my enthusiasm a little. They've not joined Ryan Adams, Morrissey (and by default, The Smiths), The Orwells and others on the condemned pile, but it's getting close.
Now for Fear Inoculum itself, an album that has launched a thousand debates and blood feuds along the way. How do I feel about this one.....
When you look at anything that Tool release, you immediately look at the back catalogue at the same time. The measuring stick of any band or artist (unless it's their first release) is their own work. For Tool, they're the measuring stick against which a lot of other bands are measured as well, so already you've got a hell of a high standard to match. Anticipation is also a factor for this record, thirteen years between records is a bit Axl Rose, no matter how great you are!
Musically and production-wise, you cannot fault Tool here, they are at the top of their tree for good reason. You can feel that everything has been looked at so many times, painstakingly works on and that when performed live, it will have that same amount of effort and drama. In that regard, I can see why a lot of people are hyped and excited. Yet for all this hype, for all this excitement, I've found myself listening to this and having no connection. The drama of the songs has been played out on other Tool albums, which was the first thing that came to mind at the end of the record. "Pneuma" could have been on Ænima. "Invincible" feels like a track that would have been great on 10,000 Days. Whilst this might be great for other bands, Tool were always the pioneers and not the band to sound like anyone else, even themselves.
Also, you can sort of tell that this is not how Tool wanted to release this record. As the whole album was too short for one CD, but would have been too short for two, you're missing part of the picture. I've heard that this was supposed to be one seamless record, which would explain the recurring themes and movement changes. You can hear the full version with extra songs on streaming sites, but the CD version is missing some tracks (and was stupidly expensive - £74 in the UK!!!! Fuck off on that one).
Another thing about that has come out of this album is the nastiness of both Tool fans and Tool haters. I mean, you can be a fan of a band and get that people don't like an album, that is a natural position in the world. It's also natural that some people love it, I really get that one too. Just because this is not for me, does not automatically make it a bad album for everyone else. It just means that it's not for me. Yet it would seem as if this album ignites a passionate love or hate, no matter where you stand. For me, I'm just sort of not feeling it either way. Which brings me onto the reviews I've read for this, and I've read a fair few. I get some people are really excited, some people are really not excited. But when I read a review that says something along the lines of "if you're a Tool fan, you'll love this", that sort of gets on my wick! I've learnt (the hard way) that you should not write assumptions, as it comes back to bite you in the ass. The irony here is not lost on me, truly I get I am showing the highest double standard, but as this is my blog - my rules!
Fear Inoculum is not without charm, like a bad pizza, it's still pretty good. But by Tool's own benchmark, it's below average and missing something, which is a bit of a shame to be honest. I'm not saying this to be edgy, or to be controversial or hip, I'm saying this because it's how I feel about the record. I love long songs, I love music you can lose yourself and happily ignore the world. Fear Inoculum is not that sort of record for me, so I will leave it at that and move on to other topics (as stuff apart from Tool has happened).
|Daniel Johnston, rest in peace!|
* - At present, I'm still without a permanent spot on Nova Radio. I was offered one on a day which I cannot do, so I'm stuck waiting until something becomes free that suits me and Nova. Whilst I wait, I have been offered cover slots, but these have not been something that I can always do, I do have outside commitments and things which will always take priority over everything I do. Also, an audience cannot be built by bouncing around the schedule in a free-form style, so unless everything aligns, then I'm without a UK show. This is not a "cry for help" or trying to stir the hornet's nest, but at present, there are no slots available to suit Nova and me. If this changes, great and I will produce a brilliant show. If it doesn't change, then so be it - no harm or foul and things will move forward as they always do. However, if you do want to listen to either station (which I would truly recommend), you can visit the websites of each station and listen to Nova here and the Flytrap here!
* - Speaking of Flytrap & Across the Pond, in July I aired three episodes which formed the first specials I have recorded for Flytrap. These focused on the bands and artists of the North-East of England and they have been well received. I loved compiling them and I will be curating some more very shortly. You can listen to these shows (and other episodes of Across the Pond and Attention Please) on my Mixcloud account here.
*- The announcements for the next round of Marvel films and new TV shows had some good surprises. The introduction (or reintroduction) of Jane Foster as the female version of Thor is a good way to change the character. It follows the comic at least, it also means that Helmsworth can become Odinson and drift out of the MCU for a bit. The TV shows which will appear on Disney's own TV network sound good as well. I like the fact they've not brought in the Fantastic Four or X-Men straight away. They can take their time with those characters, as long as Deadpool is the new cameo performance to replace Stan Lee.
* - Gonna pick up a couple of reviews for this blog which I've promised to people over the past year. I figured I owe people a few things. The reviews are going to be for a few Cruel Nature Records releases, Dunes and This Is Not A Drill. They will be up very soon, together with a round-up of the year so far music-wise. The image at the top of the blog is what I've been listening to over the last few weeks. You can listen to the new playlist (as I don't have time to do the usual list) here - ATTIWLTMOWOS PLAYLIST SEPT '19!
* - Speaking of Dunes, I was lucky enough to attend the recent album launch party for Take Me To The Nasties, my review of which is linked here. It was a fantastic night at the Nemix studios! First up was Sign Again Syren, who brought the blues-rock and dances to every band for the rest of the night. Creature were up next with their Grunge sound and I was truly impressed by them. I love their studio output and live they sound massive. Next was Kkett (another band who danced all night) and they are hard to pigeon hole. They describe themselves as Joycore and that sort of suits them. They have to be seen to be believed and their album Kketterwaul is amazing too! Then, it was time for the Dunes boys, who arrived on stage to a hero's welcome. They're such a great band and they didn't disappoint the audience, apart from having no encore (but they had reached the curfew time). A great night was had by all, I'm hoping to see each of the bands live again very shortly.
* - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century has not aged well at all, I mean it is incredibly hard to watch. I've got a feeling it's what makes people like Donald Trump feeling like a man and how the future should be. Let's put it this way, I'd rather watch Love Island than repeat that again. The joy of childhood ruined by the reality of the present. To be fair, it was never something I really thought about, but age has changed me (for the better) and I cannot stand casual racism any time I see it.
* - New episodes of "Then There Were Two" are being released shortly! We missed August due to my Assassin's Creed addiction, but there will be two released over the next few weeks! Once available to the public, you'll be able to stream them on Podbean here or download them from iTunes here!
* - Well, as Tool took so much time (I mean, by christ, they took up far too much time - and I'm a fan), it's time to go! Until next time, take care! - Eddie