Sunday, 7 August 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, August 2016


THE LOUDER STUFF

BOUNCING SOULS – Simplicity
Pop-punk veterans still love to pogo. (7)
 

DESCENDENTS – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
These guys  are not pop-punk veterans – they’d have to be 15 years younger to be called veterans. But 34 years after their debut they still sound fun, silly, and wild, you can’t help but feel like a teenager listening to this. (8)


DUNSMUIR – Dunsmuir
Featuring Clutch’s Neil Fallon and Black Sabbath’s Vinnie Appice this sounds just like Fallon fronting Dio-era Sabbath and it’s so good that everytime I play it it makes me alternate between laughing maniacally and crying. (8)


HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE – Dead Revolution
Thin Lizzy-influenced NWOBHM riffs, Deep Purplish keyboards, just a touch of prog, a 19th century folk song, and a fantastic bunch of songs by Cobbett & Co. Good stuff! (8)
 

PERIPHERY – Periphery III: Select Difficulty
Kicking off the album with a couple of their heaviest tracks ever Periphery display an affection for Slipknot this time around but as the album progresses they settle into their usual djent style with more prominent keyboards. The clean vocals are pretty weak and sort of ruin a good thing. (7)


VALIENT THORR – Old Salt
If you can’t dig these lunatics and their combination of Clutch riff-o-rama, Rollins Band aggression and “Powerage”-era AC/DC-esque attitude then you’re a lost cause for rock ‘n’ roll, give it up now. (8)



THE OTHER STUFF

AUGUSTINES – This Is Your Life
Brooklynite indie-rockers go all U2 on your ass with bombastic production, huge drums, keyboard flourishes and arena-ready anthemic choruses. (7)


ELOUISE – Deep Water
Elouise Walker and her band call their music “blackgrass” – it’s supposed to be a dark, cinematic subgenre of bluegrass but to my ears this sounds like the Geraldine Fibbers unplugged. Nobody under 40 will get that last reference. Now that I think about it neither will anybody over 40. (7)
 

JONAH TOLCHIN – Thousand Mile Night
Whether you call this folk blues or Americana, it all boils down to stripped-down roots music that makes for cool summer evening listening. (7)

NATIONAL PARK RADIO – The Great Divide

Yet another good folk/nu-bluegrass band. Great songwriting, virtuoso playing on acoustic instruments, interesting vocal harmonies. If you’re into the Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek etc. you’ll certainly enjoy this. (7)
 

TEENAGE FANCLUB – Here
Scotland’s favorite jangly indie rockers return with a new set of low-key, Big Star-inspired tunes. (7)
 

VARIOUS – Back In Blue: A Blues Tribute To AC/DC
It’s fun the first time you play it. (6)

Thursday, 4 August 2016

9 Λόγοι Που το "Outlandos D' Amour" Είναι Ο Καλύτερος Δίσκος Που Βγήκε Το 1978

Γενικά δεν θεωρώ εαυτόν fan του Sting, Police δεν πολυακούω, και ακόμα περισσότερο τα προσωπικά άλμπουμ του συγκεκριμένου Νταλαροειδούς δεν τα παλεύω με τίποτα. Γιατί; Πολύ απλά διότι απολύτως τίποτα από όσα έκανε ο Sting καλλιτεχνικά από το 1979 κι έπειτα δεν πλησιάζει το μεγαλείο του "Outlandos D' Amour", του καλύτερου δίσκου που βγήκε το 1978.

"Ωχ", σας ακούω να σκέφτεστε, "τον έπιασε πάλι το βιωματικό του και θα αρχίσει να μας λέει για εκείνο το πάρτι στη δευτέρα γυμνασίου όταν πρωτοάκουσε το "Roxanne" κι έπιασε τον κώλο της Άννας." Ε λοιπόν είστε τελείως λάθος, για τόσο προβλέψιμο με έχετε; Χα! Ε λοιπόν όχι. Το πάρτι ήταν στην πρώτη γυμνασίου, το κομμάτι ήταν το "Can't Stand Losing You" και τον κώλο της Άννας δεν κατάφερα ποτέ να τον πιάσω.

ΟΚ, το παραδέχομαι. Το έχω πει επανηλειμμένως ότι οι καλύτεροι δίσκοι όλων των εποχών είναι αυτοί που πρωτάκουσες στα 13-14 κι έτυχε το "Outlandos D' Amour" να είναι ένα από τα πρώτα άλμπουμ που απέκτησα. Έλιωσα την κασέτα (κυριολεκτικά), την αντικατέστησα με βινύλιο το οποίο επίσης έλιωσα (κυριολεκτικά) και αντικατέστησα με το CD που παίζει την ώρα που γράφω αυτές τις γραμμές, για εκατομμυριοστή φορά. Το "Outlandos D' Amour" είναι άρρηκτα συνδεδεμένο στον ψυχισμό μου με άλλες, αθώες εποχές που δεν γυρνάνε πίσω, μου έχει γίνει βίωμα από τις πολλές ακροάσεις στο εφηβικό δωμάτιο γιατί δεν είχα τότε εκατοντάδες επιλογές τι να ακούσω ή εκατοντάδες άλλα πράγματα να κάνω, ξέρω κάθε νότα και κάθε λέξη απ' έξω, ακόμα και σήμερα τραγουδάω φωναχτά μαζί με το Sting όταν το ραδιόφωνο παίζει κάποιο κομμάτι του άλμπουμ. Είμαι βέβαιος όμως ότι δεν είναι μόνο οι προσωπικές μου περιστάσεις - το εννοώ ότι είναι ο καλύτερος δίσκος του 1978. Και εξηγώ γιατί:

1. Έχει περισσότερη πλάκα από το "Easter" της Patti Smith, χορεύεται πιο εύκολα από το ντεμπούτο των Van Halen, και τα τρία μέλη του συγκροτήματος είναι πιο ξανθά από τη Debbie Harry των Blondie. To "Powerage" των AC/DC από το 1978 δε μετράει γιατί μου γαμάει το επιχείρημα.

2. Χωρίς πλάκα τώρα, το 1978 ήταν μια παράξενη, μεταβατική χρονιά: Το punk είχε ήδη ξεφουσκώσει έχοντας προλάβει πρώτα να σκοτώσει το progressive rock ενώ το new wave δεν είχε γεννήσει ακόμα τα αριστουργήματά του, οι metal πρωτοπόροι τύπου Black Sabbath διένυαν περίοδο παρακμής ενώ οι διάδοχοι τύπου Iron Maiden δεν είχαν σκάσει ακόμα μύτη, η μαύρη μουσική είχε προ πολλού εκφυλιστεί στη disco που κι αυτή ήταν στα τελειώματά της, οπότε τι μας μένει; Μια υγιής, τίμια αλλά λίγη pub rock σκηνή, κάτι middle of the road hits όπως το "Baker Street" και το "Copacabana" και δευτεράντζες τύπου Jefferson Starship, April Wine και Foghat. H ποιότητα των Police ξεχωρίζει ακόμα περισσότερο το 1978 λόγω χαμηλού ανταγωνισμού.

3. Το άλμπουμ, παρά τα εμφανή reggae και pop στοιχεία που σε μεταγενέστερες δουλειές τους θα κυριαρχούσαν στον ήχο των Police, είναι κατά βάση punk. Και όχι μόνο επειδή ξεκινάει με μια εκρηκτική ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΑΡΑ όπως το "Next To You" (το οποίο, παρεμπιπτόντως, έχουν διασκευάσει και οι Anthrax και οι Foo Fighters και οι Offspring κι ένα κάρο άλλοι): Το punk ήθος είναι διάχυτο παντού, ξεκινώντας από το "Peanuts" όπου ο Sting τα χώνει σε ξεπουλημένους δεινόσαυρους τύπου Rod Stewart (άσχετα αν ζήτησε συγνώμη πολλά χρόνια μετά, όντας δεινόσαυρος πλέον ο ίδιος) και καταλήγοντας στο γεγονός ότι το άλμπουμ ηχογραφήθηκε με μηδαμινό budget - βασικά με 1,500 λίρες Αγγλίας δανεικές από το αδελφό του ντράμερ.

4. Και μια που αναφέραμε το ντράμερ, σε περίπτωση που δεν το ξέρατε ο Stewart Copeland είναι ίσως ένας από τους 10 καλύτερους ροκ ντράμερ όλων των εποχών, σίγουρα ένας από τους πιο επιδραστικούς, μάλλον ο κορυφαίος στα syncopated beats, και με ταμπούρο που ξεχωρίζει από χιλιόμετρα. To παίξιμο του Copeland είναι πραγματικά η ραχοκοκκαλιά του "Outlandos D' Amour" - ακούστε το "Roxanne" ξανά κι ας το 'χετε ακούσει χιλιάδες φορές. Προσέξτε κάθε χτύπημα του Copeland. Κανείς άλλος δεν θα το έπαιζε έτσι.


5. Αμ ο Andy Summers; 10 χρόνια μεγαλύτερος από τους Sting και Copeland, ήδη 38 ετών όταν κυκλοφόρησε το "Outlandos D' Amour" κι έχοντας στο βιογραφικό του συνεργασίες με Soft Machine, Animals και Jon Lord, φέρνει σε αυτό το άλμπουμ έναν άλλο αέρα, μια ποιότητα που οι υπόλοιπες μπάντες εκείνης της σκηνής δεν μπορούσαν να φανταστούν ούτε στα όνειρά τους κι έναν ήχο ξεχωριστό. Άκου πως χρωματίζει ένα απλό reggae κομμάτι όπως το "So Lonely", βασικά ένα rip-off του "No Woman No Cry" του Marley, δίνοντάς του προσωπικότητα μοναδική:


6.  To "Born In The 50s" είναι ο απόλυτος teen ύμνος. OK, όχι της δικής μου γενιάς, πάμε δυο γενιές πίσω, αλλά όπως και να 'χει ήταν ενδιαφέρον παιχνίδι να προσπαθώ να σκαρφιστώ νέους στίχους που να διατηρούν το πνεύμα του original και μετονομάζοντάς το σε "Born In The 60s" για διασκευή με το συγκρότημα που σκόπευα να φτιάξω μια μέρα. Όχι, δεν ξέρω πού είναι εκείνοι οι στίχοι και όχι, η διασκευή δεν έγινε ποτέ - οι υπόλοιποι στο συγκρότημα που έφτιαξα αργότερα θα με κοιτάγανε σαν λεπρό αν τους πρότεινα να διασκευάσουμε Police.

7. Tι είναι ακριβώς αυτό το "Be My Girl - Sally"; Μπορείτε να φανταστείτε την επίδραση ενός ποιήματος για μια φουσκωτή κούκλα του σεξ στο μυαλό και την αίσθηση του χιούμορ ενός δεκατριάχρονου; Νομίζω ότι το "Outlandos D' Amour" μου έχει καταστρέψει τη ζωή.

8. Είπαμε για τον Copeland και τον Summers αλλά κακά τα ψέμματα, το "Outlandos D' Amour" είναι αυτό που είναι χάρη στον αχώνευτο: Ο Sting εδώ είναι αναμφισβήτητα χαρισματικός, σπουδαίος συνθέτης, οι ερμηνείες του παθιασμένες, και μην ξεχνάς ότι ήταν και μπασισταράς - το groove του σχεδόν instrumental "Masoko Tanga" που κλείνει το δίσκο το αποδεικνύει.

9. Και, φυσικά, πάντα θα υπάρχει το "Can't Stand Losing You" να μου θυμίζει τον κώλο της Άννας όταν ήμασταν 14.




Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2016

THE LOUDER STUFF

BIG BUSINESS – Command Your Weather

Anthemic and absolutely epic heavy rock from everyone’s favorite power duo. (8)

HEART – Beautiful Broken

A solid combination of new songs and reworkings of older ones proving that the Wilson sisters remain relevant. Features a duet with James Hetfield on the title track. (7)

KAYO DOT – Plastic House On Base Of Sky

The guy says his influences are Gorguts, Bjork, The Cure and Scott Walker and I think that’s a fairly accurate description. (6)

LORD VICAR – Gates Of Flesh

The expected Black Sabbath worship. (7)

PLANET OF ZEUS – Loyal To The Pack

As the only Greek to have never seen the Athenian leaders of the stoner rock pack play live, I admit I’m not among the ranks of the converted as their previous albums sounded sort of derivative. On this one however they’ve kicked their songwriting up a notch or three. (8)

SCHAMMASCH – Triangle

Ambitious triple album by Swiss extreme metal band, a bit too long for its own good. Disc 1 sounds like a dissonant Behemoth, disc 2 sounds like Celtic Frost doing Pink Floyd in the style of My Dying Bride, disc 3 sounds like SunnO))) on acid. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF


AVETT BROTHERS – True Sadness
Rick Rubin-produced folk rock band experiments with a “modern” sound, which thankfully doesn’t always get in the way of their great songwriting. (7)

BRIGID MAE POWER – Brigid Mae Power

Cinematic, sparse orchestration with ethereal vocals, sort of like Grails does 4AD. (8)

CHANTAL KREVIAZUK – Hard Sail

Look, everybody has their guilty pleasures and it’s time to get out of the closet. I don’t usually listen to Adult Contemporary stuff so I’m either no adult or not contemporary but I do love Chantal, she’ll always remind me of “Dawson’s Creek” which I also loved in the closet, “Colour Moving And Still” is a desert island disc, and now she’s got a new album. (7)

CODY DICKINSON – Leeway For The Freeway

North Mississippi Allstars drummer and son of late great producer Jim Dickinson releases solo album with guests such as his brother Luther, John Medeski, Duane Betts and Robert Randolph. The problem is, Cody’s singing is worse than my cat's drumming. (5)

SARA WATKINS – Young In All The Wrong Ways

Nickel Creek violinist/singer/bluegrass icon lays her soul bare on post-break up album. (7)

SARAH JAROSZ – Undercurrent

Dark Americana blues from a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer. (7)

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2016 Vol. II

THE LOUDER STUFF

BLAAK HEAT – Shifting Mirrors

Rooted in metal but with a strong Middle Eastern flavour and healthy doses of everything from spaghetti western to surf, this French-American power trio delivers an album that’s intriguing, exciting and above all fun. (7)

FATES WARNING – Theories Of Flight

I just can’t get over how good this is. Best prog-metal album of the 21st century. (10)

GOJIRA – Magma

Another excellent effort from the French masters of “modern” metal. (8)

I SEE STARS – Treehouse

Just a super-compressed, ultra-triggered, auto-tuned piece of plastic (or bandwidth). They call this “electronicore” but basically it’s Linkin Park with all traces of testosterone removed. (4) 

LETLIVE. – If I’m The Devil

Music for young people. It’s aggressive and melodic and catchy and a bit too emo for my taste and age. (7)

RIVAL SONS – Hollow Bones

The expected Led Zep worship. (7)

SWANS – The Glowing Man

Classic latter-day Swans, meaning it’s three weeks long featuring a bunch of tracks that last a couple of days each. It’s droning and repetitive and loud and scary and beautiful and forget all the hipster post-rock crap you’ve been listening to, this is the real thing. (8)

VIRUS – Memento Collider

Carl-Michael Eide is one sick puppy and “Memento Collider” sounds just like a sick puppy’s soul throwing up. Compelling but not necessarily pleasurable listening. (7)

ZEAL & ARDOR – The Devil Is Fine

A DIY, homebrewed hybrid of gospel singing, black metal blastbeats, Godflesh heaviness, Μiddle Εastern chants, hip hop beats, children’s lullabies, even some “Rain Dogs”-era Tom Waits guitar skronk, a bit all over the place but I’ll take this over Virus for kicks any day of the week. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF

BRANDY CLARK – Big Day In A Small Town

She writes songs for Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert and keeps some of the better stuff for her solo records. Subject matter: Former beauty queens stuck in dead-end marriages, cheating husbands in one-horse towns, substance abuse, odes to deceased loved ones, the usual happy country fare. (8)

ELI PAPERBOY REED – My Way Home

Soul/blues shouter goes down ‘n’ dirty with a pure 60’s southern juke joint sound. By the way, the guy’s so white he makes Zooey Deschanel look like Oprah Winfrey but listening to this album you’d never believe it. (7)

ELISABETH COOK – Exodus Of Venus

Swampy country rock from a Nashville renegade. There’s been divorce, death of close ones, mental illness, substance abuse and rehab in Cook’s life and this album reflects the pain and darkness. (8)

FANTASTIC NEGRITO – The Last Days Of Oakland

THIS is what the blues should sound like in the 21st century: Angry, wild and funky. (8)

MAREN MORRIS – Hero

If you’re into that whole Taylor Swift/Kacey Musgraves pop/country hybrid you’ll love Morris, plus she says “shit” a lot and I like girls who cuss. (8)

NEKO CASE, K.D. LANG, LAURA VEIRS – Case/Lang/Veirs

All-star Americana female singer/songwriter team comes up with some beautiful, smart songs to light up your breezy summer evenings. (8)

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – The Getaway

First time in 25 years without Rick Rubin at the helm and RHCP sounds like a totally different band, much more laid back and refined and focused on the melodies. Just goes to show how important the choice of producer is. (7)

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2016




THE LOUDER STUFF

ARCHITECTS – All Our Gods Have Abandonded Us

For post-Meshuggah chugga-chugga this is actually pretty decent. (7)

FATES WARNING – Theories Of Flight

Either you get it or you don’t. (10)

JORN – Heavy Rock Radio

Great track selection, plays like Wisconsin’s coolest jukebox in 1986 or the most drunken karaoke night ever. (7)

KATATONIA – The Fall Of Hearts

Turn off the lights, turn up the volume and let the darkness engulf you. Fuckin’ Katatonia. (9)

MELVINS – Basses Loaded

The usual Melvins wackiness with a twist: Rotating bass players – Krist Novoselic, Trevor Dunn, Jared Warren, Jeff Pinkus, Steve MacDonald and Dave Crover handle the low end on two tracks each. Did I mention it’s heavy as hell? (7)

NO SINNER – Old Habits Die Hard

Second album by blues rock band elevated above mediocrity only thanks to Colleen Rennison’s powerhouse voice. (6)

SKYCLAD – A Bellyful Of Emptiness: The Very Best Of The Noise Years 1991-1995

I’m going to be revisionist about this: They always were a bit of a one-trick pony even by heavy metal standards and Walkyier’s clever wordplay often lost out to his weak, barked delivery and a flat production that has certainly not withstood the test of time. Right, bring on the torches and the pitchforks. (7) 

SUMAC – What One Becomes

I got a headache, but it’s a good headache. (7)

THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM – Monolith of Phobos

Psych-pop duo consisting of Primus mainman Les Claypool and Sean Lennon whose abstract guitar playing is more Yoko than John. (7)

THE LIVING END – Shift

Semi-hard rock the Aussie way, tough and catchy just the way I like it. (7)

THE SO SO GLOS – Kamikaze

Old school punk rock that owes quite a bit to the Clash. (7)

THRICE – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

This is much better that any melodic post-hardcore band’s ninth album has any right to be. (8)

 

THE OTHER STUFF

AUSTIN LUCAS – Between The Moon And The Midwest

This is top-notch country music that rocks with the best of ‘em by a guy who started out as a punk rocker. The great Lydia Loveless makes a cameo here. (8)

BOMBINO – Azel

Yet another Tuareg bringing the Sahara’s desert blues to the west, this one’s a guitar virtuoso and significantly more upbeat compared to the Tinariwen benchmark. (8)

CAR SEAT HEADREST – Teens Of Denial

This guy wasn’t even born when Pavement, Guided By Voices and the Pixies ruled college radio, but he does an excellent job capturing that era’s spirit. (8)

DANIEL ROMANO – Mosey

Romano goes way beyond countrypolitan for his third album and writes some gorgeous 60’s-influenced pop hooks, then shoots himself in the foot with the cheesy cheapo synthbrass orchestration. If he’d been born 50 years earlier and had Lee Hazlewood’s studio budget, “Mosey” might have been a masterpiece. (7)

ERIC CLAPTON – I Still Do

It’s an Eric Clapton record in 2016, what did you expect? (6)

HARD WORKING AMERICANS – Rest In Chaos

Back in 1994 I saw Todd Snider live and called him “the future of rock ‘n’ roll” but he turned out to be a world champion underachiever instead. That being said, his new band –a meat ‘n’ potatoes rock supergroup of sorts featuring a couple of Widespread Panic members– just released a stunner. (8)

MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD – Soulrocker

A kind of pop-reggae/EDM hybrid with a strong spiritual message. I liked Franti more when he was a Gil Scott-Heron-inspired angsto-political activist. (6)

NATACHA ATLAS – Myriad Road

Atlas throws jazz into her multi-culti western/middle eastern mix and ends up with an album that makes for wonderful late night listening. (8)

PAUL SIMON – Stranger To Stranger

Simon’s in top form here, both as a composer and as a storyteller. (8)

ROBERT ELLIS – Robert Ellis

This is so weird, I listened to this back-to-back with the new Paul Simon album and it turns out it sounds exactly as if a younger Paul Simon did a country album. (8)

THE HIGHWAYMEN – The Very Best Of

Sometimes the sum is lesser than its parts. (7)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

8 Λόγοι που το "The Number οf the Beast" Είναι ο Καλύτερος Δίσκος Όλων των Εποχών

  1. Invaders
  2. Children Of The Damned
  3. The Prisoner
  4. 22 Acacia Avenue
  5. The Number Of The Beast
  6. Run To The Hills
  7. Gangland
  8. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Υ.Γ. Καλά σοβαρά μιλάς τώρα; Τη δική μου γνώμη περίμενες για αυτό το τοτεμικό άλμπουμ; Χρειάζεσαι τη γνώμη οποιουδήποτε, αυτάκια δεν έχεις;

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2016 Vol. II

THE LOUDER STUFF

DEATH GRIPS – Bottomless Pit

Dear hipsters, FYI Dalek was doing this rap/industrial thing better than Death Grips 20 years ago. (6)

GOO GOO DOLLS – Boxes

I remember these guys from the early 90’s as a really cool punk band on Metal Blade Records. What the fuck happened? This sappy shit is like a soccer mom’s idea of edgy rock music. (4)

KVELERTAK – Nattesferd

What do you get when you crossbreed black metal with cock rock? I’ll give you the answer before any smartass says “black cock” – you get “Nattesferd”. (8)

PURSON – Desire’s Magic Theatre

More fun that this year’s Blood Ceremony and Witchcraft albums, if you’re into the whole vintage psychedelic/occult thing. (8)

VEKTOR – Terminal Redux

With their most ambitious album to date Vektor take thrash and twist it into weird four-dimentional shapes not of this world. If a better metal record is released in 2016 I’ll be very surprised. (9)

WRONG – Wrong

Helmet from Lidl. (6)


THE OTHER STUFF

ANOHNI – Hopelesness

The artist formerly known as Antony (& The Johnsons) lyrically attacks everything and everyone in sight, also goes full-on electronica. I guess you’ll like this sound if you enjoy FKA Twigs and the weirder Bjork and Radiohead stuff, I’m a Billy Squier fan. (6)

IMARHAN – Imarhan

Another interesting Tuareg desert blues band – it seems that Tinariwen’s success has created (or unearthed) a huge scene down there on the Algeria/Mali border. This one’s a bit funkier. (7)

JEAN-MICHEL JARRE – Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise

Another collaboration album, this time featuring the Pet Shop Boys, Julia Holter, Primal Scream, Gary Numan, Hans Zimmer, Peaches, Sebastien Tellier, The Orb, Yello, Cyndi Lauper and others. Just as meh as the first one. (6)

JIMBO MATHUS – Band Of Storms

9-song, 23-minute EP of Jimbo taking another trip into all things Southern: Dr. John-type stompers, honky tonk tear-jerkers, swampy blues, American gothic devil tales. Fantastic. (8)

MARISSA NADLER – Strangers

Not bad but after Lana Del Rey, Sharon Van Etten, Eleanor Friedberger, Lera Lynn and a couple of dozen others I really can’t take any more tortured gothic hipster chanteuses. (7)  

RADIOHEAD – A Moon Shaped Pool

Not a stone cold proper rock masterpiece like “The Bends” or “OK Computer”, not a WTF avant garde whatchamacallit that you admire rather than enjoy like everything they released since the turn of the century, but somewhere in between and still light years ahead from the competition. (8)