Tuesday, November 23, 2004

First Bomb Review by Watts

I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter, and I get that line in Miracle Drug, but it's just another of Bono's many twisted cliches that sometimes make me cringe. This album seems particularly loaded with them...
I'm a fan since Spring of '83, bought every album and CD on the day of release, so I couldn't help but download it as soon as I found it. It's the first time to listen without a CD booklet (or album cover!), but I think that helps me concentrate on the music more. In any case, I've listened to it 5-6 times and it is a good album, very much in the "All That"/"Electrical Storm" mode as opposed to the garage band "Vertigo" sound.
I like the hard-rocking U2, I just think they haven't mined this part of their sound as much as other parts (slow, driving, anthemic, bolero), so "Vertigo" really hit the spot for me. The rest of the album is still growing on me..."All Because of You" is rockin' and Bono gives a great Joan Jett-like "Yeeeeeah!!!" right before the guitar solo. Sweet! "Love and Peace or Else" is fantastic. There are great parts in just about every song, but there are also many cringe moments, times when I think "this sounds like a new Sting record". That is not good. But just when I think it sounds like Sting, or even Abba, the Edge sails in with some classic, unique guitar work and makes me happy again. Bono has many strong moments, although the new lyrics are more direct that I prefer, and other lyric ideas are all too familiar to U2 fanatics. It may yet be a classic, it needs more time to cook in my head, and that's a good thing.
The good: Many (3-4) top tier U2 songs, brilliant guitar, bass & drums, Bono's vocals soar at times, Edge-driven guitar parts
The bad: At times Bono is preachy and too full of himself (who...Bono? ;-), Not the rock album I've always wanted, your Mom will like many of these songs
I know you didn't want to hear from fans who prefer U2 in full rock mode, but I would prefer to hear U2 music less slickly produced, guitar bass & drums, ya know? I don't think U2 need all the bells & whistles (& strings & synth. etc.), I'd prefer a more raw sound (hard rockin' or not). But I've been saying that since Unforgettable Fire, so take that for what it's worth. Many tracks have a slightly more raw sound than anything in a long time...."Vertigo" rocks, I love it!! The rest of the album is deeper and will take time to grow. Right now I like it, still to early to place among my favorites but I imagine it will end up in my Top 5 U2 albums. That said, 4 years is too long guys...

blog:How to Dismantle an Album Review


Let me begin by admitting that I have lost any ability to hear U2 music with an open mind. I lost perspective from the "outside world" as U2 have been my favorite band for over 20 years. The internet has only made my U2 fascination deeper. That said, as a "big fan", I have expectations for what I would like to hear from U2, and through the years they have disarmed me many a time with sounds and songs I didn't expect. That's part of the appeal.
On this new album, as opposed to the 90's records, U2 sound like they are trying to get to the core of their sound. Tired of running from the old U2, this album marks the second step of U2 reclaiming their heritage. All That You Can't Leave Behind was the start, and the new album has more "body", more rockin' out and yes, more cringe-worthy Bono lyrics.
"All That" made me cry the first time I heard it (In a Little While), Atomic Bomb did not, so at first glance "All That" seemed superior. But that album wore a bit thin over time. I think HTDAAB may be more of a grower than "All That", and it has more full-on rockers. These two albums do sound like a set together. Part 3 surely awaits, hopefully sooner than later!
After listening to HTDAAB for a couple of weeks, it has really grown on me and it's certainly one of their best albums. Only time will tell, but I am sure that many songs on here are classics, and the rockin' nature of these songs is grounds for celebration in my part of the U2 fan-camp. Here's a song-by-song review:

Vertigo: Already reviewed on this site, a fantastic rocker, the "iPod song"? Yeah, well, at least it rocks!
Miracle Drug: Gets better with each listen, hopefully a single if just to get the ending guitar parts on the air. Bono really wants to get rid of his "romantic love" on this album, and listen for Edge singing a verse in the middle of the song...I like the talk of reason, science and heart repeated on other tracks as well...

Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own: Not your average tune, Bono goes from head in hands to arms wide open when he asks "Can you hear me when I sing?"

Love and Peace or Else-One of my very favorites, this song is like Depeche Mode meets Zeppelin, U2 does break new ground with this one, in a heavy zone that appeals to my inner rocker.

City of Blinding Lights- I have a love/hate relationship with this song. One of two songs on here that really have sub-par lyrics. The music in the intro and chorus is great but the verses are not the kind of music that attracts me to U2.

All Because of You- The Vertigo-like rocker is garage-band rock at its finest. Looks like the next single. Ahhhh, give me more like this!

A Man and A Woman- This one's for the ladies. Most out of place tune on here, it's really a jazz tune, well-done by U2, but would be better covered by Sade. Some questionable lyrics, but really a good tune if out of place here.

Crumbs From Your Table- Another great tune, classic Edge riff, sounds like it came from part of "Walk On", but hey, that's a good place to find a tune like this one.
One Step Closer- Harkens back to "Running to Stand Still" vibe, not one of the best songs on here, but fits the album well.

Original of the Species- OK track, some bad lyrics here, this and City of Blinding Lights seem like they developed down the wrong road.

Yahweh- Great Edge-guitar work, Bono as you expect him, calling on God. Take this heart..

It will take months to fully digest, and that's a good thing. It has the potential to be one of their top 5 records, and put U2 firmly in place as the Greatest Band on Earth, once again. The record will appeal to a wide audience, from 13 year olds to grandmothers. U2 aimed high and you can tell. I think they did try to make a mass appeal record, and this is it, a future classic. Not everyone will like every part, but overall it is a great record though not perfect by any means. Standouts for me are Vertigo, Love and Peace or Else and All Because of You (the rockers), second-tier are Miracle Drug, Crumbs From Your Table and Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.
Overproduced? In my opinion, yes, but that's been the case for years and the live versions are usually stripped down a bit, and that's where these songs will really come to life. City of Blinding Lights will even be good live.

Great effort, thanks for the rockers and record a new one, the sooner the better!


A Deeper Review Than Mine

U2 news article - from @U2:

"The abandonment of romance for a truer love (of the 'tougher,' more resilient, eternal, variety) is a common theme on Atomic Bomb, and though it might strike contemporary ears as paradoxical and uncool (is this rock & roll?)..." (snip)
"Another day with the record will banish any doubt that Atomic Bomb is, song for song, a work of art: complex, gutsy, intimate, demanding, eloquent, and ravishing."

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Condi Department

Well, that was quick. Mr. Powell, we miss you already. I know it must have been difficult to work with a majority of people who disagree with you, to have the president say "I hear you Colin, but I'm not taking your suggestion, I'm going with Rummy". Loyal to a fault, you took the presidents orders and mislead the UN on WMD in Iraq. You knew the evidence was flimsy, yet you did your best to filter the truth from the exaggerations before the speech. But the intelligence was wrong. You took the punch for the administration. I hope W can find a way to make his presidency worthwhile for all the sacrifices you have made.
Ms. Rice has big shoes to fill, and I have hope that she will impress us all.

U2//Atomic Bomb Review Brewing

I've been listening to the new U2 CD....er, the new U2 release, via the Clie for almost two weeks now. It's taking a good while to sink in and I'll have a full review in the coming days, before the official release. Wow, getting the tunes early really makes me feel like a rock critic, and I admit that I feel extra-special carrying around the MP3's in my pocket.
I'll post my Day 1 review and write up a proper one after living with it for a while. Here's a preview:
You're gonna wanna buy this CD.

Da Phone Blog

I really like that "audio blog" by phone thing, but it does take a while to log on and I haven't seen the phone bill yet. I'll try to think of more clever things to with that someday....for now, just enjoy the southern accent and warm wishes.


I gotta find a better way to drive home. There is just no good way to get from Morrisville to Wilmington...some agents from Beaufort, SC had a shorter drive than we Wilmingtonians. The Matthews/Monroe corridor is a fiasco. I'm gonna find some backroads around that beast, because I don't want to risk hitting Raleigh at 5:30 on I-40. I'll let you know if I get lost...



EXiT Training

I'm in Morrisville, NC, home of NASCAR and Lake Norman, taking a training course for EXiT Realty. I'll be posting from here and uploading when I get home later this week.
Look for some new photos, I have a great view of Wal-Mart from my hotel room...

Friday, November 12, 2004

W, the Clintons, and Bono (pdf link)

U2....They're like the First Band. Rock Star laureate?

"It won't be the first time George W. Bush has commemorated Clinton's presidency. The Republican president praised Clinton this summer at a White House ceremony to unveil the Democrat's official portrait. Clinton did the same for the elder Bush's portrait ceremony and library opening in College Station, Texas.
After the presidential speeches, the politically outspoken Bono and guitarist The Edge will perform. They are two of the four members of the Irish band U2, which has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide and won 14 Grammys. Like Clinton in his post-presidential foundation work, Bono is a champion for fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa and has been since he helped start Band Aid in the early 1980s."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

We're Safe Now!

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Text of Ashcroft's Letter to Bush:

"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." -John Ashcroft

Well, that's good to know. I feel better about Bush being elected, I would have voted for him too, had I known we were all now safe from crime and terror. That's fantastic! Bush should have run his campaign on this message, what great news for us!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Y W?

Why did the American voter choose Bush over Kerry? Or, did they?
Numerous "sour grapes" reports from lefty-conspiratoriasts cite the early exit polls as evidence that the electronic voting machines were rigged before the election. How else can we explain the discrepancy between the exit polls and the final outcome? I don't (necessarily) believe this hype, but the fact remains that there is no way to prove it's false. There are no hard copies we can look back to for verification, it's all just 1's and 0's on somebody's machine. It seems to me that the paper ballot with a pencil is the best way to cast a vote and it's simple...we should have figured this out by now. We need a federal standard for the ballots, and we should have figured that out four years ago.
But since we probably can't accurately blame the voting machines, what explains Bush's big win? All the pundits agreed that the more voters who turned out, the better it would be for Kerry, but it didn't work out like that. 120 Million voters, the high end of early estimates, turned out and over 51% of them voted for Bush. Was Kerry that bad? I don't think Kerry's completely at fault here. Unexciting he may be, but he was certainly a credible candidate.
Given the voter turnout, credit for the win must be given to Karl Rove and the Republican party machine. Rove did his best "throw mud at him till he's unrecognizable" routine on Kerry and it worked, at least until the debates where Kerry won back a few. But that was a big hole to dig out of, and it cost Kerry in the long run. And playing on fear of a Kerry presidency, that it would be a victory for the terrorists, that ultimately kept many Americans from voting Kerry.
But the main reason W won is because the Republican party got up off their duffs and brought supporters to the polls. Not content with just big checks, the Repubs did what Dems have been doing for ages, reaching out to their base to turn out on election day. 120 million voters and Bush wins? There can be no other conclusion, the Republicans turned out in droves.
I guess I should have seen it coming, what with all the "W" bumper stickers that have replaced the American flag on many SUV's. "W" is a brand now....Bush could start selling shirts, luggage and perfume with that "W" logo on it and make a fortune. He IS a brand.
And the American people just bought it, even though there was a better, similar product right next to it. Advertisers take note...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Misunderestimated Again

Simple but Effective - Why you keep losing to this idiot. By William Saletan: "12:01 a.m. PT: Sigh. I really didn't want to have to write this."

I didn't want to have to read it. Those exit polls had me thinking Kerry looked like he was in good shape, so it's just more salt in the wound. Congrats Karl Rove, you've done PT Barnum proud.

Saletan thinks Bush won with "simplicity", and he's mostly right, but I think he pulled off the marketing trick called "branding". He repeats the same things and creates his brand: steadfast, strong, flag-draped, in a ray of light from God, he's like the Marlboro Man. Even for people who know that Marlboros are bad for your health, there's just something about that Marlboro Man that you trust, he seems to be the essence of "America". People don't want to vote against "America", and a lot of Bush support comes from this kind of view. I don't agree, in fact, I am more concerned for the future of our country than I've ever been.

Saletan thinks Dems should rally around Edwards in '08, but if McCain runs, nobody can beat him. And if the Dems couldn't beat this president, with his 4 year track record, I don't have much hope that the Democrats can ever get back in the White House. I'll take McCain over most any Democrat, I just wish we'd elected McCain last night or 4 years ago.

Almost everybody I voted for lost, including all of my endorsements. It's a sad day for me...