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Friday, April 29, 2016

Nine Inch Nails -- The Fragile

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Left Disc: 9/10
Right Disc: 7/10

First, I want to say one last thing about The Downward Spiral. How about that album cover? It's beautiful on its own, a work of art, yet it also abstractly sums up the album it was created to represent...which is also a work of art.
A work of art, if you didn't get the rather blunt point I hammered again and again, that I couldn't make much sense out of when I was 12. However, as I went through middle-school, and the first three years of high school, I realized that a lot of people I admired were big fans of Nine Inch Nails. I wanted to be a fan, too, but the music just sounded like repetitive, incomprehensible noise to me. At 18 (newly minted), I was offered another chance.
On one of the last fleeting weekends of 1999 (and the 20th century, itself), a 91.1 FM KLSU DJ announced that he was going to air Nine Inch Nails' newest album, The Fragile, in its entirety. As he made this announcement, I happily realized that I was getting off of my dreary Wal-Mart job that night at the exact time that the DJ planned to spin the album.
Back in those days, unless you had the best current Internet and were extremely savvy, the only way to hear a new album was to buy a physical copy from a physical store. Now was my chance to finally get with it...for free!
The road to this was perilous. Working in a small town (non-super) Wal-Mart meant that when my work was done, I would have to "zone" my area of the store. "Zone" means to clean up and straighten all of the merchandise on all of the shelves in your section, until you're done, regardless of time. I almost failed high-school Physics because of "zoning."
Thankfully, "zoning" was light that night. I got out of the store just a few minutes after the album was supposed to begin. I lightly jogged to my car and turned on my radio...but drat!...some kind of weird cloud cover overhead was screwing with the reception. The songs were frequently pierced by white if I didn't already have enough trouble understanding what was going on in Trent Reznor's sonic world.
As I drove home along a night-fogged False River, the street and pier lights threw strangely-colored, jagged shadows among the haze. Suddenly, Reznor's voice came through my car speakers clearly. I immediately pulled over, to maintain this excellent reception. I just so happened to end up in the gravel parking lot of the fireworks stand my brother and I usually frequented, halfway set-up for the impending Christmas and Y2K festivities.
Once I put my car in park, I leaned back in my seat and shut my eyes.

The song playing was "The Great Below," and it was the perfect song to listen to at that exact moment in my life. I'd just had the largest year I'd ever had and have yet to have, and now it was coming to an end. On top of that, after having so much fun, and experiencing so many new, interesting and exciting things, I had become extremely fatalistic. I was preparing myself for a major surgery just a few days before Christmas, not sure if I was going to make it through (and blowing it hugely out of proportion in my mind). If I survived the surgery, who knew what the dreaded Y2K would bring.
And yet, I was at peace. One of the major reasons I got so much enjoyment out of that year is because I made peace with my own (in my mind impending) death early on. I had no fear and only wanted to break new ground, make awesome memories before I (presumably) bowed out. As the notes of Nine Inch Nails "The Great Below" warbled, danced, and floated up from my speakers, I had a strikingly lucid waking dream, visualizing everything that had come to pass over the past 350 or so days. The closest thing I can compare it to is that hypnotic scene in the middle of Peter Jackson's The Two Towers, where Cate Blanchett gives a voice-over on top of a quiet montage of distant happenings, except instead of Galadriel's voice narrating the action, it was Trent Reznor's. Trippy, man.
"The Great Below," is the final track on The Fragile's first disc. It has a second one. I pulled out of the empty fireworks stand parking lot after "The Great Below," as the DJ took a quick break between the discs. I only heard crackly versions of the next three or so songs, and the radio in my room couldn't pick up KLSU at all that night. Still, I enjoyed "The Great Below" enough to invest my hard-earned cash in The Fragile, so that I could hear the whole thing.
 - - -
As I listened to the first disc, or "Left Disc," I discovered that the songs were much better when they weren't buried under piles of static. The Fragile, to me at least, doesn't feel like one story ala The Downward Spiral. It's more a collection of like feelings. I mean "like" as in similar, not "like" as in the conversational space-filler.
The Fragile seems to offer songs about a struggling relationship, and dysfunctional relationships in general, as well as addiction and loss, though all in very abstract terms. A lot of times, though, the most volatile relationship seems to be the one Reznor has with himself. With that said, he still sounds angry and at the end of his rope at times, but he also sounds calm and contemplative at others--maybe a bit older, too (after all, he is). Reznor could get heady on The Downward Spiral, but it's a far more commonly charted course on The Fragile.
Due to this and Reznor's restless musical curiosity, The Fragile's sonic variation is quite remarkable, from the driving, violent opening track, "Somewhat Damaged," to the cinematic, quiet-to-loud dynamics of "The Day the World Went Away." Those are just the first two.
My favorite Fragile tracks come in the form of a mid-album duo. The first is "We're in This Together," which features a huge chorus, maybe the best hook Reznor ever wrote, awesome driving bass, and a verse-beat that forces your head to nod against its will. The second is the title track, which finds Reznor again exploring quiet-to-loud dynamics, hiding odd sounds even in the gentler moments. The song also features a decent amount of piano, and that particular instrument is sprinkled generously throughout The Fragile--it is, after all, the first that Reznor learned to play.
Later on, "Even Deeper" features even more classical instrumentation, with a hypnotic violin line weaving in between Reznor's musings, a buzzy guitar, and a skippy beat...yes, "skippy." The whole disc is tied together by the closing track, the previously mentioned "The Great Below," which finds Reznor softly imagining sinking beneath the waves to join his recently deceased grandmother.
The Left Disc is great work, and pulls off my favorite trick: being simultaneously an artifact of its time (1999) and timeless. There's a second disc, though, Right Disc.I missed that one on my late night drive, but it turns out I had already heard the best bits of The Fragile.
Right Disc isn't bad by any means, but compared to Left Disc, it seems more of a compendium of neat ideas Reznor couldn't work into The Fragile's first 54 minutes of music. There are certainly standout moments within songs, like the opening ambiance of "The Way Out Is Through," the cool start-stop beat of "Into the Void," or the haunting atmosphere and startling change in dynamics of "The Mark Has Been Made." It's hard to hear this second disc as anything more than a collection of cool sounds, though. The twelve tracks of Left Disc would still feel like a complete album without the Right one.
And finally, speaking of sounds...
I talked about having a hard time making musical sense of Reznor's work when I was a pre-teen. I feel like that's a problem critics have always had with Nine Inch Nails. You often see NIN lumped into "Industrial Music," but the truth of the matter is, "Unconventional Rock," is a much better description. "Unconventional" because Reznor likes making loops out of weird noises and playing his keyboards more than he does utilizing an electric guitar. Once you get past that element, his music is surprisingly accessible.
- - -
Hey, I think this review is done. I can't wait to drive home from work (four hours after this lunch break) and listen to The Fragile.

1999 Nothing/Interscope

Left Disc
1. Somewhat Damaged 4:31
2. The Day the World Went Away 4:33
3. The Frail 1:54
4. The Wretched 5:25
5. We're in This Together 7:16
6. The Fragile 4:35
7. Just Like You Imagined 3:49
8. Even Deeper 5:48
9. Pilgrimage 3:31
10. No, You Don't 3:35
11. La Mer 4:37
12. The Great Below 5:17

Right Disc
1. The Way Out Is Through 4:17
2. Into the Void 4:49
3. Where Is Everybody? 5:40
4. The Mark Has Been Made 5:15
5. Please 3:30
6. Starfuckers, Inc. 5:00
7. Complication 2:30
8. I'm Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally 4:13
9. The Big Come Down 4:12
10. Underneath It All 2:46
11. Ripe (With Decay) 6:34

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Nine Inch Nails -- The Downward Spiral

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I remember it very clearly: the members of my youth group not currently on stage are all bunched around me on the back row of our Titian Avenue church. Those who are on stage are putting on a purposefully silly drama about the ill-effects of popular music on teenagers. One guy has tied his hair into Coolio braids. I'm not exactly sure what Coolio did to receive my youth group's ire, but everyone is getting a good laugh out of this kid's wacky hair. However, when the drama ends, things get a bit more dire. The kid with the Coolio braids' mom comes up on stage with a box of CD's.
If you grew up in a church when CD's were the main form of musical delivery, you know what is coming: it's time for an old-fashioned CD breaking.
As an ardent fan of "secular" music, I can only think of one occasion where I intentionally broke a plastic disc containing it, and I just ended up purchasing that album again a few months later. I am my usual defiant self at this church meeting, and none of the CD's in the box are mine. Truthfully, I don't even have a CD player by this point in history.
The Angry Church Mom pulls out a few choice albums from the box and pontificates on each. Suddenly, she is waiving Nine Inch Nail's The Downward Spiral in the air.
The Downward Spiral is Nine Inch Nail's breakout album. Unless you were stuck on Milli Vanilli in the early 90's, or not born yet, you've probably heard of it. I had because I saw the video for "Closer" on MTV and laughed hysterically when I realized what the censors were bleeping out of the chorus. To put that story in the past tense, I giggled thinking about it when Angry Church Mom held The Downward Spiral in the air, secretly hoping she would quote the lyrics for shock value. She didn't (truthfully, she is a pretty nice lady), but she did comment on the name of the band, asking the audience what other nails we could think of that were nine inches long. This comment was rather shocking, as I always assumed Trent Reznor was a fan of alliteration, and had not named his band after the implements used to hang our Lord and Savior from the cross.
It turns out my assumption was closer to the truth...Reznor just chose the name because he liked the way it abbreviated.
But still...The Downward Spiral is not an appropriate listen for a 12-year old kid. I'm coming up on the age that Angry Church Mom was when she went on her tirade. I haven't attended the church where the Angry Church Mom tirade was given in quite some time.
I still attend church, though. Like Stephen Colbert, I even teach Sunday-school. It's hard to think of someone from my generation getting up in front of a crowd of parents and teenagers, and telling them what they should or should not listen to. If such a person does currently exist, it is unlikely that that person would even comprehend Nine Inch Nail's The Downward Spiral.  A 12 year-old will most likely be unable to understand it, as well.
A teenaged Dylan Klebold most likely wasn't able to understand The Downward Spiral, either. I've spilled enough bytes on this blog talking about Columbine. I even wrote an editorial in my school paper after it happened (It was titled "Blaming Mario Is Not the Answer"). That editorial said the same thing I believe now: video games, movies, and music can't be blamed for what happened. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were already extremely messed up individuals. When Klebold's extremely depressive nature met Harris' total sociopathy, it was all over with. Klebold might quote lyrics from The Downward Spiral in his journals, but it's clear that he doesn't understand what he is talking about. He could have latched onto any available words, and given them whatever meaning he wanted. More than four million people purchased The Downward Spiral. Only one participated in a mass shooting (though sadly, as there have been so many mass-shootings since Columbine, the law of averages almost certainly proves that sentence false...and by that logic, I'm sure plenty of those mass-shooters also listened to Beyoncé). Did listening to Nine Inch Nails push Klebold further down his path? How do you push someone when they are already gone?
I could talk about The Downward Spiral itself now, but let's talk about me and let's talk about nihilism.
Nihilism is a system of belief which asserts that life is without meaning or purpose. I am simplifying for brevity's sake, but I don't think one could distill the philosophy much more efficiently.
Unfortunately, maybe more when I was younger, I've felt a tug toward nihilism. It always feels great to respond to people getting worked up about something by leaning back and saying, "Who cares. It doesn't mean anything anyway." In high school, a friend of mine had a shirt that pictured one kid asking another "What's cool?" "Nothing's cool, man," responds the other. I was really, really jealous of that shirt.
I think I probably get this bleakness from my father.He's done a huge 180 in the last 15 years, and transformed into one of the more optimistic and encouraging people I know, but when he was in his late 30's and early 40's, he was less a glass half-full guy, and more a "the glass will just end up empty, anyway" one. At that time, he was famous for sighing and muttering the phrase, "Life sucks, then you die."
I always found that perspective to be very seductive. I never minded tossing out a discouraging comment to someone who was riding high.
More darkly, several years before Columbine (I was born the same years as the killers), a friend of mine asserted that he had found dynamite in his grandfather's storage shed. When he suggested that he might set some off at a school dance to punish all the people he felt marginalized by, I encouraged him. I mean, I didn't think he would really go through with it, but still... Thankfully, he didn't.
So anyway, for whatever reason, it has always been easier for me to imagine the universe as a bleak and hopeless place without meaning. I guess you can say that for me, nihilism comes naturally. With all that said, The Downward Spiral is one of the strongest arguments against nihilism I have ever heard.
The album follows a protagonist who spits at and casts himself away from all institutions, humanity, and belief. In the end he ends up full of regret, puts a gun to his head, and ends it all. The Downward Spiral does not present this as a desirable outcome.
Thus, in the proper context, the chorus of the third track, "Heresy," takes on a different meaning. "God is dead and no one cares/if there is a hell, I'll see you there," feels great in an arrogant mouth,  much less so when it's sharing it with a shotgun. A mature person, even a staunch atheist, can make this distinction. However, I'm not so sure a 12 year-old can. I'm pretty sure Dylan Klebold couldn't.
I think it's pretty obvious now (and maybe even then) that a young Trent Reznor worked out a lot of his mental issues through music. He's been pretty clear that his protagonists are usually just stand-ins for himself. That 12-year old kid in 1994 probably couldn't have predicted that 19 years later, Reznor would be singing "I'm just trying to find my way/oh dear Lord, hear my prayer." If you survive, you generally grow out of the anger...
and speaking of the Lord, I think a lot of 90's Christian artists could hear the value in Reznor's music. Audio Adrenaline's "Some Kind of Zombie" is certainly informed by The Downward Spiral's "Mr. Self Destruct." Little distinguishes Mark Stuart's "I hear you speak and I obey," from Reznor's "I take you where you want to go." Have you heard Skillet's second, third, and fourth albums (ed. note--I love those albums).
I'm quite sure plenty of folks didn't pay any attention to the lyrics anyway. The music is so good, and so original, I think many people focused on that aspect. Flailing music journalists threw NIN into the "Industrial" category, but The Downward Spiral doesn't lean heavily on synths, and Reznor crafts plenty of its soundscapes out of organic noises...bees, moans, natural percussion. There are so many sounds here, it's almost unbelievable. There's a harshness, easily represented by The Downward Spiral character's chaos, in over-driven guitars, Reznor's violent snarls, but there's also a sense of calm that the central character seems to be seeking, represented by islands of quiet, pools of ambiance.
My personal favorite element is the "Downward Spiral" motif Reznor creates, backing the chorus of "Heresy" (how ironic), peeking in gently at the end of "Closer," and then fully expressing itself in the penultimate title track. This descending series of notes, whether by Reznor's conscious or subconscious intention, backs the protagonist's early mockery of faith and his later suicide. Again, this is musical depth a 12-year old might not pick up upon.
And now, finally, I reveal why I keep picking on poor, hapless 12-year olds. At the time of this album's release, and in the story I started this review with, I was 12. In 1994, I did not understand The Downward Spiral on a musical level. It took me five years to breakthrough to an understanding of what Reznor was actually doing, nevermind the lyrics. If the music just sounded like noise, why bother?
But what if I had understood the music? What kind of connection would I have then made with the lyrics? When I was old enough to get the music, the lyrical themes of the album made complete sense to me. I had a suspicion that following my darker thoughts to their logical conclusion would not be worth it...and nobody knows how close I came to doing that. Listening to this early 20's angst-ridden Reznor actually helped me to focus on more positive be optimistic. I could better understand the futility of focusing on my own bleaker impulses...but not everyone hears this album that way.
So what should we do then? Put parental-advisory stickers on works of art that might give impressionable minds the wrong one? How does that even work now that teenagers no longer buy things that grown-ups can put stickers on? Should we refuse to sell it to them at all? Try to make the artist feel bad?
There's a great quote from a Rolling Stone Reznor interview that some helpful soul linked on Wikipedia. It involves one of the many controversies around The Downward Spiral: the location of its recording. A young, and frankly foolish Reznor rented the house that the Manson family murdered Sharon Tate in, and built a studio in it to record this very album. He thought it would be a cool and interesting place to record, but in this  interview with Rolling Stone, he admits:

While I was working on [The] Downward Spiral, I was living in the house where Sharon Tate was killed. Then one day I met her sister [Patti Tate]. It was a random thing, just a brief encounter. And she said: 'Are you exploiting my sister's death by living in her house?' For the first time, the whole thing kind of slapped me in the face. I said, 'No, it's just sort of my own interest in American folklore. I'm in this place where a weird part of history occurred.' I guess it never really struck me before, but it did then. She lost her sister from a senseless, ignorant situation that I don't want to support. When she was talking to me, I realized for the first time, 'What if it was my sister?' I thought, 'Fuck Charlie Manson.' I went home and cried that night. It made me see there's another side to things, you know?

1994 Nothing/Interscope
1. Mr. Self Destruct 4:30
2. Piggy 4:24
3. Heresy 3:54
4. March of the Pigs 2:58
5. Closer 6:13
6. Ruiner 4:58
7. The Becoming 5:31
8. I Do Not Want This 5:41
9. Big Man with a Gun 1:36
10. A Warm Place 3:22
11. Eraser 4:54
12. Reptile 6:51
13. The Downward Spiral 3:57
14. Hurt 6:13

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

And Now It's Time for...NIN?

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Yeah, so I like Nine Inch Nails. I've never listened to him in any situation where I wasn't alone, and I don't have one of those classic T-Shirts, so maybe this will surprise some people.
I'm about to publish reviews for a bunch of his albums, but I am finding some interesting topics to explore, as well as some significant personal details that are working their way into these reviews, so I might just take my sweet time with them. Up first is a review of The Downward Spiral, my first experience with Trent Reznor's music, as it was released the year I turned 13. I can't go further back than that, as the idea of a nine year-old listening to late 80's-early 90's NIN is a little messed up.
Kind of like my hair.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Baskets -- Season One

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FX Networks
Season One Score: 9/10

I haven't done a full-entry review on a full season of television in a while. The shows I've already reviewed, I feel I'd be a bit redundant in reviewing season to season, and nothing has held the inviting combination of sparking my interest and not being already spoken of to death by everyone else...until now.
The early cast interviews for FX's Baskets, a show about a 40-something aspiring clown who moves back in with his mother, made the show seem as niche as possible. Star, Zach Galifianakis, essentially said that maybe ten people in the world would "get" Baskets.
Here is who will get this show:
1. Anyone who has come to the realization that their childhood dreams will never come true, and that their family situation will never be reflective of what they want it to be.
2.Anyone who can both cry at a funeral, and laugh when the priest either trips and falls on the casket, or accidentally refers to the deceased as the "dearly defarted." In other words, for those who don't think sadness and humor have to be mutually exclusive (and this show is quite sad and quite funny!)
3. Numerous others, because humans are nearly infinitely complex, and who knows why we like anything.
I enjoyed Baskets first season. I won't say I enjoyed it immeasurably because I can measure how much I liked it on a scale of 1 to 10 (9). I think that producers Galifiankis, Louie CK, and Jonathan Krisel have produced something that feels genuinely new and unique, yet incredibly true to life.
The titular clown, Chip Baskets (Galifianakis), is forced to leave his lifelong goal of French clown school, and finds himself working as a rodeo clown in Bakersfield, California for $80 a week. His married-for-a-green-card wife has no interest in him, refuses to even live with him, and cheats on him regularly. Chip is forced, for financial reasons, to live with his mother (his dad "fell off a bridge"), portrayed by Louie Anderson. Yes, the Louie Anderson who is in real life a 63-year old male comedian.
I think this is one of the most inspired casting choices in history.
Anderson, as Christine Baskets, brings so much warmth and gravitas into the role, it is impossible to see anyone in his place. Mama Baskets has just as much deeply-buried personal pain as Chip, and when I picture the character in my mind, I actually feel myself start to tear up a bit. Rounding out the cast is Martha Kelly, as Chip's oblivious, but affable insurance adjuster and new best-friend, and Galiafinakis again as Chip's far more successful twin, Dale. Which segues me to:
The Bad:  If thi show has a weakness, it's that Dale is a bit too abrasive. While Baskets creates sympathy for Dale late in the season, his character could have used a little more rounding out.
And that is my only negative comment for Season One of Baskets.
The Good: I have no idea how this show pulls off the things it does. Chip's anger at the world and near catastrophic inability to comprehend it should be off-putting, but it isn't. Anderson's casting should be distracting, but it's a masterstroke, and if the major award shows ignore his performance this year, their organizational headquarters should be burned to the ground (figuratively, of course!). The Baskets family dynamic, despite the seemingly off-the-wall nature of the show, is completely believable. Martha's deadpan pronouncement of everything should make the viewer want her to stop talking, but her irresistible recital of every single chain-restaurant breakfast special to a disinterested and not-hungry Chip is but one example of how this is never the case. Basket's casting for regulars and bit-parts is always spot-on, as well. This is one of the only shows I have ever seen where every single person in every single scene looks like an actual person. Even Chip's estranged French wife is only beautiful in an ordinary sort of way. I think that highlights this show's surprise strength: relatability, and I'll highlight it to close:
Near the end of the season, Chip remembers a magical night during his time in France. The dreamlike cinematography and the editing creates feelings of bliss that anyone who's ever had a good time can relate to. The night ends with a baguette picnic, but when Chip comes back to the present and attempts to recreate the experience on an empty Bakersfield lot, with an over-sized subway sandwich, the scene is at once ridiculous, and heartbreaking. The visual gag is hilarious, but Chip's disappointment that he'll never be able to recreate that night is emotionally devastating, and again, relatable.
That's the weird alchemy of this show. It is strangely, overwhelmingly beautiful, then it is belly-laugh funny, then sad enough to make anyone with feelings cry.
It's a complete original.
I like adverbs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Night Verses -- Lift Your Existence


It's awesome to have your best friend stay for a weekend, but if they stay for the whole week...
they start to get on your nerves. Proggish/heavyish band, Night Verses, has a drummer who could feasibly play drums for the Milky Way All-Stars. The Milky Way All-Stars are a hypothetical band I am proposing that is composed of the best musicians in the galaxy, and some of those musicians have 10-plus arms. The guitarist sounds like he is conjuring some kind of snake-like blue flame racing around your speakers from the ether. The bassist, it turns out, is actually quite good, himself. The singer can sing and scream and emote and probably do all three while back-flipping from an amplifier. However, by track seven of the fifteen-track, 70-minute Lift Your Existence, I find myself thinking, okay, you guys are gonna leave soon, right? But they don't.
Honestly, if this was a nine track album, I'd give it a nine out of ten. I'm not even saying that the last six songs are bad. A lot of them are really, really awesome. In fact, outside of maybe "Yours," I really like every song here...but together all 15 are just soooo exhausting. I said "just soooo exhausting" because I just got off the phone with my wife. Otherwise, I would have simply said "they are so exhausting." Valley-speak is contagious. Lift Your Existence is exhausting, even though there are a decent amount of songs that slow down the pace: and pretty much all of those songs are awesome, too. "Parasomnia?" Great! "Celestial Fires?" Just listen. It's so good!

Apparently, you can have too much of a good thing, even emotion...once the singer starts titling things as nakedly as "I Don't Want My Loved Ones to Die," maybe it's time to pull the veil back on a little.
As critical as this review seems, I can't find much of a reason not to recommend Lift Your Existence. Too much of a good thing still means you are getting a lot of a good thing. This band can write some awesome songs. Hopefully, for LP 2 (this is their debut) they will learn how to write an awesome album.

2013 Easy Killer
1. Introducing: The Rot Under the Sun 5:33
2. Rage 4:11
3. Time Erases Time 3:30
4. Celestial Fires 4:34
5. Antidepressants 4:44
6. Parasomnia 4:23
7. Pull Back Your Teeth 3:35
8. Whatever Makes You Hate Me 4:40
9. Blind Lighthouse 5:39
10. Yours 4:20
11. Cathexis 4:41
12. Elucidation 4:29
13. Altimeter 4:14
14. I Don't Want My Loved Ones to Die 5:00
15. Phoenix: I.Rising II.Falling 10:12

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Night Verses -- Out of the Sky EP

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Do you want to listen to an inventive hard rock band? Sure, we all do. So download this EP to find out how easy it is to give your ears a better time. Far less than 10 million men and women have listened to this EP without setting foot inside a classroom and now at home, you can listen to these songs, or even the whole EP. Choose from any one of these songs, "From the Shadows Where I'm Low" (a right-opening banger that showcases Night Verses' virtuoso drumming, fiery guitar, and singing that sounds like it's coming from a guy who fronted an early 00's emo-band, but in a good way), "To the Ends of the Earth" (keeps up the party), "Be Happy With Yourself, I'm Staying Here in Hell" (the requisite slower song with a righteous Morello-esque guitar solo), and "I've Lost My Way Back Down" (the slightly toned-down but still jamming closer), or listen to them all. Compare your present music with the music you could be listening to in any one of these songs. They'll be repeated for you at the end of this review, so have your pencil ready to jot down the song you're most interested in. Then click the Amazon toll-free link, and it'll send you one of these exciting songs for absolutely 99 cents, with all the music you need. Here are these songs again, so click today.

Click now for a free demonstration of the music The Nicsperiment spoke about.

Call 1-800-445-7200. Operators are on duty now to send you free information by return mail. Choose any one of these exiting careers! That's 1-800-445-7200. Call now!

2012 Self-Released
1. From the Shadows Where I'm Low 5:16
2. To the Ends of the Earth 4:09
3. Be Happy With Yourself, I'm Staying Here in Hell 4:23
4. I've Lost My Way Back Down 5:00

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Nick Lachey -- What's Left of Me

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You Cannot Purchase this Engagement Ring Because You Don't Have Any Credit/10

Let me start this off with a caveat: I'm sure Nick Lachey is a nice guy. He seemed amiable enough to poke fun at himself in this recent Foo Fighters fake "Breaking Up" announcement. With that said, I have no interest in actually reviewing his album, What's Left of Me, here, and I am only using it to tell a story.
In May of 2006, my girlfriend wanted me to buy her the new Nick Lachey album. "Why would anyone want to by an album by Nick Lachey (sorry Nick Lachey)" I asked? Also, "Why am I dating someone who wants me to buy them Nick Lachey albums?" But alas, my love was deep. I bought said girlfriend the new Nick Lachey album. I then decided that I wanted to marry someone who wanted me to buy them Nick Lachey albums, so I made up my mind to drive to New Orleans to buy an engagement ring.
I broke the news of my impending engagement to my good friend Jon, who responded with the remark "You guys are probably, like, making out all the time, huh?" I immediately invited Jon to New Orleans to buy the engagement ring with me.
The problem with buying expensive stuff, though, is that if you can't afford to buy the whole thing at once, they want to check your credit. The problem with being a barely employed farmer's son from the middle of God's nowhere is that you don't have any credit.
Jon and I, despite making such a distant trip, found we could not purchase the ring, and we drove home in silence, dejected.
Then, I saw it. The only thing that could possibly cheer me up in this situation.
Nick Lachey's What's Left of Me.
Who knows about having your hopes and expectations smashed and broken?
Nick Lachey.
Who knows about having to reformulate your plan and try again?
Nick Lachey.
"Hey, Jon," I said. Let's mourn Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's marriage."
"What?" he asked.
"I don't know," I said. "The Aristocrats?"
We then proceeded to listen to Nick Lachey's What's Left of Me the entire 90-minute ride home, holding up the lyrics booklet so that we could belt them out euphorically.
Last week, I went to see The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you about that because that was awesome. Since the concert was in New Orleans, and I realized I was reaching "La" in this review series, I attemptied to recreate the What's Left of Me experience on the ride home.
Unfortunately, I had to eject What's Left of Me by track four. It is not very good. Bland, acoustic pop-rock from the middle-00's is not very interesting, and certainly not something to keep one awake on a late night drive. One need only look at the amount of co-writers for each song below to see why this album doesn't have much personality.
But hey, for one glum spring afternoon, Nick Lachey lit up my life.
Thanks, Nicky!
And with that, the series of reviews of artists named after The Nicsperiment comes to a close.

2006 Jive
1. What's Left of Me (Jess Cates, Emanuel Kiriakou, Nick Lachey, Lindy Robbins) 4:06
2. I Can't Hate You Anymore (Cates, Lachey, Robbins, Rob Wells) 3:54
3. On Your Own (Luke McMaster, Wally Gagel, Xandy Barry) 3:06
4. Outside Looking In (Cates, Lachey, Dan Muckala, Robbins) 3:20
5. Shades of Blue (Muckala, Liz Vidal) 4:18
6. Beautiful (Peer Åström, Anders Bagge, Andreas Carlsson, Lachey) 3:34
7. Everywhere But Here (Greg Johnston, David Martin, Rob Wells) 3:29
8. I Do It for You (Astrom, Bagge, Carlsson, Lachey) 3:23
9. Run to Me (Cates, Lachey, Muckala, Robbins) 3:32
10. Ghosts (Jamie Cullum, Kara DioGuardi, Greg Wells) 4:10
11. You're Not Alone (Astrom, Bagge, Carlsson, Lachey) 3:43
12. Resolution (Cates, Lachey, Robbins, Rob Wells) 3:55