Music Review: DANIEL AMOS – Darn Floor ~ Big Bite

Leave a comment

daniel amos darn floor big biteDANIEL AMOS
Darn Floor ~ Big Bite
Alarma
1987

The eight studio release for Daniel Amos – and also the final release of theirs in the 1980s – Darn Floor ~ Big Bite finds the band’s music going back to a more guitar-driven sound. The title, of course, is famously derived from an incident with Koko the gorilla, who was trained to understand limited amounts of American sign language. After an earthquake, Koko reacted by signing, “Darn darn floor bad bite. Trouble trouble.” So, the band used this as a way to highlight mankind’s oft-inadequate attempts to describe God.*

That previous bit of information is always included in pretty much every review I’ve read on this album; however, my friend Terry Glenn was the first one to inform me of this, and was far more entertaining in the delivery. Anyway…

The album starts with the song “Return Of The Beat Menace”, which seems to be it’s angriest song on the record. Not “angry” as in “loud and grating”, but more to do with the lyrics married with the more driven pace and guitar hook of the song. Like they had a bit of something to say about certain criticisms being lobbied at them. Or something. It’s a good song to kick things off, regardless. “Strange Animals” takes things back to a normal – for Daniel Amos, anyway – pace with a nice jangle pop hook; the title track “Darn Floor~Big Bite” is a bit darker, but has a good bass hook at the beginning before it settles into a nice groove; “Earth Household” continues things with a slower pace, one of those not quote a ballad, but with a dark, kinda Peter Gabriel style going on; “Safty Net” picks things up with a faster, punkish pace and an Elvis Costello kind of hook and an interesting guitar riff; “Pictures Of The Gone World” is upbeat yet melancholy, with a waltz beat and a more avant gard style; “Divine Instant” is more of a psychedelic, slide guitar, kind of Chris Issac style song; “Half Light, Epoch, And Phase” guitar style reminiscent of The Edge from U2; “The Unattainable Earth” has a nice psychadelic, dreamy hook with a good guitar progression; and “The Shape Of Air” ends the album with a lush, psychadelic ballad, not too bad there.

Overall, I found Darn Floor~Big Bite to be a very good, very multi-textured and very smart collection of gutiar-based alternative rock put out by a band that, by now, you would expect nothing less from, regardless of how modified they make their moniker. Listening to this was a pleasure, and probably one of my top favorites from Daniel Amos. I really do prefer the guitar based stuff rather than the keyboard and synth based stuff, but they never seem to disappoint no matter what they do. Recommended.

[* = while it doesn’t pertain to the album itself, I did play this in its entirety the night I learned of the recent death of Koko…rest in peace, pretty girl]

Advertisements

Music Review: DANIEL AMOS – Fearful Symmetry

Leave a comment

da-fearfulsymmetryDANIEL AMOS
Fearful Symmetry
Alarma
1986

The seventh studio album by Daniel Amos, and the fourth and final instalment in the !Alarma! Chronicles, Fearful Symmetry is also the first Daniel Amos album to feature the shortened DA form of the band’s name. A vast collection of useless information, that’s me.

The tone of Fearful Symmetry was a bit darker than the previous releases (although, the band could venture out into darker territory on the previous albums easily enough), utilizing a synthesizer-driven sound with lyrics that deals with pain and darkness. That’s not to say that the music is depressing and melancholy; far from it, really.

The album starts off with “A Sigh For You”, which features something of an upbeat hook that echoes that of The Pretenders from that era, kind of an electro-calypso thing going on. The following track, “The Pool”, has a rather driving beat with a catchy hook, while “Sleep Silent Child” is one of the darker cuts on here, a bit slower and utilizing a kind of melodic structure based on the James Bond theme. I rather like this, it may be my favorite cut on this album, really. Now, before anyone begins thinking that they sold out their sound and went more mainstream with the songs, it’s on the song “Neverland Ballroom” when the familiar experimental style that Daniel Amos is famous for really begins shining through. The hook from that song will stick in your head almost indefinitely. This continues on with “Strong Points, Weak Points”, “Instruction Through Film”, and the psycho-folk bluegrass with a power-ballad twist ending of “Sudden Heaven”. Yeah, I just wrote that out loud. I’d say it’s “different”, but this is Daniel Amos we’re talking about, here. “When Moonlight Sleeps” is a surreal bit that manages to be both melancholy and happy at the same time; “Shadow Catcher” has a good driving midpaced dark hook, while to album ends on “Beautiful One”, an acoustic !BALLAD ALERT! for those on the lookout for those kind of things.

Overall, Fearful Symmetry continued on with the development of the band’s creative music output, making something that was contemporary for the time it was released, yet maintaining their unique style and quality of songwriting. It’s dark, but it’s more contemplative kind of dark. It’s kind of hard to explain for those who prefer their Christianity to be bright and sunshiny; regardless, if you’re a fan of the electronic based pop rock custom-made for dancing and brooding to, Fearful Symmetry is recommended listening.

Music Review: POOR OLD LU. – Mindsize

Leave a comment

poor old lu - mindsizePOOR OLD LU.
Mindsize
Alarma Records
1993

It’s probably not coming as much of a surprise to you that I would have something like Poor Old Lu. in my collection. Yes, I’m a metalhead, but it’s no secret that I’m known to branch out once in a while. Depends on the mood, really. And thus, this review of Poor Old Lu.’s first album, Mindsize.

For the express purpose of padding out this review (and in case you weren’t alive in the 90s): Poor Old Lu. was one of the more prominent bands to come from the big alternative music paradigm shift of the 1990s, forming in 1990 and going onto become one of the more respected bands from that era, at least in the Christian music culture. Taking their name from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, they released a couple of demos before catching the ear of Terry Taylor, who helped get them signed on to the Frontline Music Group, which then released the band’s first official release, Mindsize.

I personally discovered the existence of Poor Old Lu. back in college, on one of the radio promo samplers FMG sent me for the radio show I was doing. The song included on there was “Cruciality”, which came from Mindsize. I was impressed with the dreamy, yet darkly neo-psychadelic style of the song, and went ahead and got ahold of the full-length album on the strength of that song alone. Keep in mind, this was just before I got turned off to alternative music by all the alterna-jerks that started coming out of the woodwork. They were like hipsters of today, only they at least knew the proper usage of the word “irony”…at least until that Alanis Morissette song came out.

Listening to Mindsize now, the music on here still stands up after a couple of decades. It’s a refreshing blend of janglepop, psychadelic and retro alternative that manages to be dark yet dreamy at the same time, creating a sound you could close your eyes and get lost in without everything bleeding together into a jumbled mess. For what it is, Mindsize remains a solid front-to-back listen when I need something to chill out with once in a while. Is it a classic? Sure, why not? Recommended.

Music Review: DANIEL AMOS – Doppelganger

Leave a comment

daniel amos doppelgangerDANIEL AMOS
Doppelganger
Alarma Records
1983

Daniel Amos’ fifth release continues the overall Alarma Chronicles concept, something that I still have no idea what the story itself entails. But, at least the second part itself, Doppelganger, is a rather good entry in the series. Also, it’s a great classic New Wave record in its own right, methinks.

Having a bit of a darker tone than that of the previous release, Doppelganger nonetheless manages to maintain the high quality musicianship and writing, putting out a very detailed and multi-textured album, filled with some of the best writing going as well as showcasing the bent sense of humor the band was famous for. If that wasn’t evident by the album cover–a slightly unsettling monochrome image of a mannequin–then you’re not paying attention.

The album itself kicks off with a brief yet mind-twisting intro “Hollow Man”, played backwards with spoken words and an avant-garde bent, which leads into the first proper cut of the album, “Mall (All Over The World)”, which is an infectious and dark New Wave cut with a funky bass hook that will get into your head like none other, there. “Real Girls”, “Memory Lane”, and “I Didn’t Build It For Me” feature that kind of New Wave style, yes; but like with their previous releases, the band branched off into other styles while keeping things unmistakably their own: “New Car!” has a cool rockabilly style, almost psycho-billy in a way before that became a thing; “Do Big Boys Cry?” isn’t necessarily a ballad, but it comes close; “Youth With A Machine” and “Little Crosses” are guitar-driven with some good hooks, while “The Double” and “Angels Tuck You In” are more janglepop, with the later having a classic Elvis Costello vibe to it. “Distance And Direction” has a Caribbean vibe to it that reminds me of another song from that time, the title of which escapes me greatly; “Autographs For The Sick” is another avant-garde tongue-in-cheek spoken word bit over ambient played music; the final song, “Here I Am”, has a very Beatles-esque somber-brite quality that just burrows down into your brain and will have you whistling it absently long after the record ends on the second part of the “Hollow Man” intro.

So, as I’m coming to understand the further I look into the Daniel Amos discography, you can’t just casually throw on a Daniel Amos record in the background and leave it; Doppelganger as an ablum begs to be listened to, closely, to take in the various textures and layers and lyrical play melded together into a whole. The production is fantastic, and you can tell a lot of time and careful crafting went into the making of this. I’m just now beginning to realize why the band ranks so high on everyone’s list of influential Christian bands. This release comes highly recommended.

Uncle NecRo’s TOP 100 CHRISTIAN ALBUMS FROM THE 1990s, Part 4: 40-21

Leave a comment

Hey hey, it’s Part 4 of this list! Hope I’m not giving anyone any antacid flasbacks with this. Anyway, here’s the next 20 in the list:

stavesacre-friction40 – Friction (Stavesacre)
…I remember someone from the church I was attending at the time giving me this CD, stating that it wasn’t Christian enough for him. So, it was good enough for me, is what you’re saying?

mortal-lusis39 – Lusis (Mortal)
…I remember having a friend in college play me this album, and then telling me to close my mouth as I was attracting flies. Behold my first taste of industrial music.

zao-all-else-failed38 – All Else Failed [1996 Steadfast version] (Zao)
…yes, I happen to be one of those people who prefer the pre-Solid State Zao release to their later output. This just seems more raw, more ferocious.

deliverance-learn37 – Learn (Deliverance)
…dark, introspective, and given to fits of artistic brilliance. That album cover, though. Needs to be re-released with artwork befitting the music.

mortal-fathom36 – Fathom (Mortal)
…while Lusis was groundbreaking, this second release of theirs was darker, heavier and much more diverse. The video to “Rift” still haunts me.

living-sacrifice-living-sacrifice35 – Living Sacrifice (Living Sacrifice)
…Deliverance may have been the Metallica rip-off, but the first release by Living Sacrifice was definitely the Slayer rip-off we all needed.

vengeance-rising-released-upon-the-earth34 – Released Upon The Earth (Vengeance Rising)
…it may have been made under very tumultuous circumstances, but this one is still a pretty good thrash/death release. Upon the Earth. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

klank-1999-numb33 – Numb (Klank)
…I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, this was released in 2000! This doesn’t count!” And you’d be right…for the re-release on some label that stiffed him and thus shall not be named. My copy was the 1999 version on Klank’s own SmokeDogg Productions, purchased at the band’s merch table at Cornerstone 1999. Hah.

mortification-post-momentary-affliction32 – Post Momentary Affliction (Mortification)
…my third-favorite Mortification album, a bit more progressive death metal style. And the last death metal album Mortification would release.

tourniquet-stop-the-bleeding31 – Stop The Bleeding (Tourniquet)
…blistering speed metal with a vocalist that could give King Diamond a run for his money. Mmmmm.

crimson-thorn-dissection30 – Dissection (Crimson Thorn)
…thick, heavy, innards-congealing DEATH METAL. That’s all you need to know. That, and their cover of Stryper’s “Loud N’ Clear”. It’s awesome.

living-sacrifice-inhabit29 – Inhabit (Living Sacrifice)
…third release from Living Sacrifice, and it’s a nice blend of thrash and death metal. The only complaint I have is that it’s too short, really. Also, the last to feature DJ on the vocals, and a switch to a Sepultura-inspired metalcore sound.

deliverance-stay-of-execution28 – Stay Of Execution (Deliverance)
…I remember getting this when it was first released in the late summer of 1992; I listened to the cassette so many times, it wore out within the year. Sure, it wasn’t speed metal; it was fantastic dark heavy metal.

argyle-park-misguided27 – Misguided (Argyle Park)
…another one I got from that guy who gave me the aforementioned Stavesacre CD, for the same reason. His loss. Sometimes knowing that one holier-than-thou person pays off.

tourniquet-psycho-surgery26 – Psycho Surgery (Tourniquet)
…many consider this release to be the bestest Tourniquet release, like, evah. They are wrong. But, it’s still a really good collection of technical thrash metal. Second best, easily.

bride-snakes-in-the-playground25 – Snakes In The Playground (Bride)
…my first introduction to the band that is Bride, and it was this particular one that took the gritty heaviness of Gn’R’s Appetite For Destruction and gave it a nice Southern glaze.

the-pillars-of-humanity24 – The Pillars Of Humanity (The Crucified)
…crossover thrash classic. Recently remastered and re-released with much better album artwork.

believer-sanity-obscure23 – Sanity Obscure (Believer)
…complex technical thrash metal that still rips it up after all this time.

vengeance-rising-once-dead22 – Once Dead (Vengeance Rising)
…quite a bit more honed than the debut, but still some tasty raw thrash metal here. Great cover of Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin'”, too.

deliverance-weapons-of-our-warfare21 – Weapons Of Our Warfare (Deliverance)
…this is the one everybody says is the ultimate classic Deliverance release. I disagree with it being the best of their releases, but it is a fantastic speed metal album.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Uncle NecRo’s TOP 100 CHRISTIAN ALBUMS FROM THE 1990s, Part 3: 60-41

Leave a comment

Part Three of this list of Top 100 Christian Albums Released In The 90s. Continuing on, then:

deliverance-river-disturbance60 – River Disturbance (Deliverance)
…in an interview with Deliverance main man Jimmy P. Brown on a podcast, he mentioned that, after he recorded this particular album, producer/artist extraordinaire Terry Taylor told him he just recorded his Rubber Soul. Sure, why not.

saviour-machine-saviour-machine-ii59 – Saviour Machine II (Saviour Machine)
…basically a continuation of the first album, only more orchestral and grander in scope. Eric Clayton sounding as pretentious as ever.

bride-scarecrow-messiah58 – Scarecrow Messiah (Bride)
…I remember this being some great hard rock. Others remember this as the album where Dale Thompson cut his hair. Good grief, people.

disciple-this-might-sting-a-little57 – This Might Sting A Little (Disciple)
…before they transformed into another modern rock band indistinguishable from the others, Disciple played hard and heavy southern fried rock and metal, and this one here was the best of the bunch.

dead-artist-syndrome-prints-of-darkness56 – Prints Of Darkness (Dead Artist Syndrome)
…my favorite of all the DAS releases, as it’s also the darkest one going. Helped me through some really dark times. On my Existential Meltdown playlist.

detritus-if-but-for-one55 – If But For One (Detritus)
…second and last release by the U. K. heavy metal group. Even in the early 1990s, you had to import the good stuff.

mortification-1995-primitive-rhythm-machine54 – Primitive Rythm Machine (Mortification)
…essentially “Steve Rowe & Friends”, this one was tuned to a brighter Standard E, but still retained the heavy.

saviour-machine-saviour-machine53 – Saviour Machine (Saviour Machine)
…not the first Gothic rock album in the Christian market, but definitely the first time I was amused by the CCM industry lose their collective do-do over this oddball group. The album is pretty good, too.

ethereal-scourge-judgement-and-restoration52 – Judgment & Restoration (Ethereal Scourge)
…this could very well be the first death metal praise & worship album I’ve come across. Pity there was only this one full-length release.

deliverance-camelot-in-smithereens51 – Camelot-In-Smithereens (Deliverance)
…bit more metal than the previous release, a lot more somber, and the last Deliverance album we got until the new Millennium.

minier50 – Minier (Greg Minier)
…great crossover thrash from the guitarist for The Crucified.

detritus-perpetual-defiance49 – Perpetual Defiance (Detritus)
…a woefully underrated thrashy metal album from the U. K. Also, the production doesn’t do this justice.

circle-of-dust-circle-of-dust48 – Circle Of Dust (Circle Of Dust)
…the first release by the second industrial band I discovered. This was remixed and re-released in 1995. Either way, it was groundbreaking for its time.

mortification-1994-blood-world47 – Blood World (Mortification)
…even when toning down the death metal influence and adopting more of a groove and less growled vocals, this was still heavier than anything else that was being released then.

strongarm-atonement46 – Atonement (Strongarm)
…really good hardcore album.

zao-where-blood-and-fire-bring-rest45 – Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest (Zao)
…at a time when actual good metal was sparse, we had to make due with the metalcore that was beginning to come out. This was one of the least painful.

deracination-times-of-atrocity44 – Times Of Atrocity (Deracination)
…why these guys didn’t get as big as fellow Aussies Mortification is beyond me. The “Atrocity” referenced in the title has to be the really low production, otherwise this would have been a rafters-shaking classic death metal release.

metanoia-in-darkness-or-in-light43 – In Darkness Or In Light (Metanoia)
…some some really good death metal from the Land of Down Under that isn’t named Mortification.

zao-liberate-te-ex-inferis42 – Liberate Te Ex Inferis (Zao)
…one of the more tolerable of the early metalcore releases in my collection. Also, Event Horizon reference.

strongarm-the-advent-of-a-miracle41 – Advent Of A Miracle (Strongarm)
…pretty decent hardcore album. Again, it’s what we had to subside on until the bookstores and record shops started carrying metal again.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Uncle NecRo’s TOP 100 CHRISTIAN ALBUMS FROM THE 90s, Part 2 (80-61)

1 Comment

Hey everybody, I’m back now with Part 2 of the Top 100 Christian Albums from the 1990s. If you missed it, Part 1 is right here. Now, without further adeu, here are picks numbers 80 through 61:

chagall-guevara80 – Chagall Guevara (Chagall Guevara)
…that one time that Steve Taylor fronted an actual band that was pretty good, but nobody noticed because it was 1991 and they weren’t from Seattle. Bummer, that.

77s-pray-naked79 – Pray Naked (The 77s)
…as alternative music goes, this one’s pretty good, but let’s face it: any band that can make the American Evangelical communities flip their collective lids over a title that encourages the listener to come before God with no pretensions, transparent and vulnerable has a place in my collection, regardless of the genre.

aunt-bettys-aunt-bettys78 – Aunt Bettys (Aunt Bettys)
…speaking of artists that consistently manages to piss off the American Christian subculture without even trying to do so, I present you Michael Knott’s woefully underrated side project, Aunt Bettys. ‘Nuff said.

scaterd-few-sin-disease77 – Sin Disease (Scaterd-Few)
…sorry to say that I was a bit late in the game in appreciating this particular album. It’s a classic, yes, and one of those albums that was controversial for many reasons, but mostly because they weren’t safe like certain other so-called “Christian punk” bands at the time. Incidentally, “Kill The Sarx” is where I got the inspiration for my online persona, The NecRoSarX. Now you know.

holy-soldier-last-train76 – Last Train (Holy Soldier)
…a bit more bluesy, quite a bit more mature than the first released. Kind of like Cinderella’s second release after Night Songs. You get the idea. I hope.

fear-not-fear-not75 – Fear Not (Fear Not)
…what is essentially the former Blonde Vinyl band Love Life, given the ol’ Elefante slick production makeover. Big, bombastic 80s hair rock, and a guilty pleasure indeed.

scaterd-few-jawboneofanass74 – Jawbonofanass (Scaterd-Few)
…this may seem like blasphemy, but I actually prefer Jawboneofanass over Sin Disease. I don’t know why, other than it flows a bit better, maybe? Is that pretentious-sounding enough?

deitiphobia-clean73 – Clean (Deitiphobia)
…contrary to popular belief, there was an underground contingent of Christians producing industrial back in the 1980s, but they mostly didn’t get noticed until around the time Trent Reznor showed up. Or something like that. Anyway, this is a good album.

dead-artist-syndrome-devils-angels-saints72 – Devils, Angels & Saints (Dead Artist Syndrome)
…”gothic rock”, “post-punk”, “gloom rock”, whatever, sometimes you gotta throw this one on with the lights off and stare at the wall.

bride-drop71 – Drop (Bride)
…stylistically different than the previous two heavier releases, more of a throwback to the Kinetic Faith release yet more mature than that one.

dig-hay-zoose-magentamantalovetree70 – MagentaMantaLoveTree (Dig Hay Zoose)
…released back when the word “Alternative” was thrown around like a brand name, this release saw Dig Hay Zoose as the spiritual successors to scaterd-few. Too bad it was to be their final studio release.

deitiphobia-lo-fi-vs-sci-fi69 – Lo:Fi Vs. Sci:Fi (Deitiphobia)
…a electronic industrial sci-fi concept album. Enough said.

lsu-this-is-the-healing68 – This Is The Healing (L. S. U.)
…dark, introspective, with an underlying twisted sense of humor. Probably one of the first instances of discovering it was okay not to be a shiny-happy Christian.

dead-artist-syndrome-happy-hour67 – Happy Hour (Dead Artist Syndrome)
…this was sold in Christian bookstores. It started with a song called “Young Sexy & Dead” (sure, it was listed as “Y.S.D” on the CD, but still), and has another song referencing the Church body as a psychotic knife-wielding back-stabber. That’s called “irony”, folks. Delicious irony.

bride-kinetic-faith66 – Kinetic Faith (Bride)
…hard rock with a southern twinge, and a total 180 from the hair metal they played previously.

zao-the-splinter-shards-the-birth-of-separation65 – The Splinter Shards The Birth Of Separation (Zao)
…at the time of this release, good quality metal was hard to come by, especially in the so-called Christian market. This had to due until some came around.

crashdog-cashists-facists-other-fungus64 – Cashists, Fascists, & Other Fungus (Crashdog)
…one of my favorite punk albums, it has all the hallmarks: raw, crusty, and probably the first instance of outspoken Christians protesting the G. O. P.

12th-tribe-livin-in-babylon63 – Livin’ In Babylon (12th Tribe)
…Run DMC style rapping paired with some metal riffs provided by Jimmy P. Brown of Deliverance? Yes, please.

index62 – Blood (Red Sea)
…a collaboration between the guitarist from Fear Not and the vocalist from Die Happy, and it’s a monster of a bluesy metal rock album.

wedding-party-anthms61 – Anthems (Wedding Party)
…basically Saviour Machine with all the beautiful richness without all the unnecessary pretentiousness. And a better singer.

Older Entries