SirTheory’s Treatise on Life

(opinions on just about anything)

Jars of Clay – Live Monsters

When Jars of Clay released their self-titled debut in 1995 few people would have predicted that the band would still be going strong twelve years later. They have kept going, even as their popularity dropped from the insane fervor that drove the self-titled album to platinum sales. Yet the albums they release continue to be amazingly strong. Even a band as consistent as Jars of Clay will have a few duds in their catalog. Live Monsters is definitely a stumble and a weak way to follow-up their hit Good Monsters.Live Monsters takes seven of the songs from Good Monsters and, as can be inferred from the title, presents them in a live setting. The problem with that is that Jars of Clay doesn’t really sound any different live than they do on album. If you are actually in a crowd in a live setting this doesn’t really pose any problems. Fun will still be had. Unfortunately, when presented on album, the lack of difference makes owning both Live Monsters and Good Monsters pretty redundant.

The song that feels most different when compared to the studio version is “Oh My God.” The difference can be debated, but the live version feels more steady than the studio. In the studio the song rises and falls in a more-or-less steady manner. But live it does more of a gradual climb to the eventual spine-tingling ending.

Subtleties aside, this album is a fairly classic example of how to get out of a contract. Jars of Clay has been on Essential Records from the very beginning. However, their new Christmas album, simply titled Christmas Songs, releases soon and it is fantastic. I have listened through it several times and will doubtlessly become my favorite stuff of the season. Not so surprisingly, the album releases on Grey Matters through Nettwerk Music Group.

Contract ditching or not, Live Monsters can really only be recommended to three groups of people: Those who must own everything Jars of Clay has released, those who saw the group live on this tour and want a postcard of sorts of the event, and those who did really prefer a live version of one of these songs to the studio version. Yet as much as I preferred “Oh My God” on the live album, I still wouldn’t invest my hard earned money into it. However, if you don’t have Good Monsters, I do recommend checking that album out.

October 13, 2007 Posted by | Music | , | 1 Comment

Obligatory Radiohead Post

Radiohead shocked the world two weeks ago with the news that they had just recorded an album and that it would be available as a download starting today (Oct. 10th) on a– get this– “pay what you want” basis. Many people who would have simply P2Ped it gave $0. Then the hardcore Radiohead fans who wanted to support the band on such a venture gave up to $20 for the download. I paid ~$4, which seemed worthwhile for a download of our generation’s Beatles.

I got the link this morning to download the album from Radiohead and was surprised that the download took a mere minute and a half. I figured that the high traffic of everyone and their mother trying to download the album would really slow things down. Thankfully that was not the case and within ten minutes of waking up I had the album downloaded, on my iPod, and was on track two while walking to my General Astronomy class.

In Rainbows seems to be more about subtle nuance than most of their catalog. My favorite Radiohead album was, and remains, Hail To The Thief, due to how three dimensional the album and songs feel. The other Radiohead albums always struck me as feeling more two dimensional. In Rainbows seems to return to two dimensions, at least initially. Yet the afore mentioned subtle nuances allows it to breathe freer than the sum of its parts would imply. But that is Radiohead for you: their albums often feel like more than they should.

At this point, trying to determine how this album ranks among the rest of Radiohead’s output would be an exercise in futility. Indeed, even trying to pinpoint the best track from the album would be a pointless task. It is just too early to be able to tell. But what can be told is that for an album where you could pay what you wanted, you got your money’s worth. The songs are not throw-away tracks that won’t be worth keeping around. Nor do they feel like b-sides from past albums. In Rainbows feels like a genuine album. It is merely missing the packaging and heightened anticipation that accompanies most normal releases.

Of course, for those who have yet to purchase the download the question remains of how much to pay for it. If you have no interest in a physical release if and when one comes, then I’d go with $5-$8 for it. If you plan on picking up the physical release (if and when) then I’d suggest somewhere between $1 and $4. I picked the $4 because I don’t want to take advantage of the system while also realizing that this is a digital release and, with my $4 Radiohead is still making more money on the download than they would have from a major label release in physical CD form.

Regardless, kudos to Radiohead for this interesting experiment. While I don’t see this exact format working for most normal bands, the fact that a major band such as Radiohead pulled it off will definitely be something the industry takes a long, hard look at. It will also be interesting, once there is an actual physical release of the album on a label, to see how that sells after the digital release. Only time will tell.

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

This Dude Is A Stud…

Eh, eh?

Yes, that is me. I find it perhaps to be one of my most photogenic moments ever. While I generally don’t want this blog to be about me, I thought it worth sharing. The man behind the words.

In other news, the Phillies have been killing me the past two days with their lackluster pitching against the Rockies. While the Phillies have it in them to win three in a row, the way the Rockies have been playing will make it tough.

Everyone and their grandmother should, by now, be aware of the forthcoming Radiohead album. Few future releases stir up a buzz the way Radiohead does. Particularly when you combine it with the way Radiohead is doing their new release. They suddenly set up a website proclaiming that they had just finished recording their new album and that it it would be releasing in what at the time was 10 days. TEN DAYS. It is going to be available in two formats: digital download and a super-deluxe boxset. The really, really good news is that the download is pay-what-you-want. Anywhere between $0.00 and your credit limit. The deluxe boxset is about $80, depending on current currency exchange rates between USD and Pounds. The big perk to the box set is that it comes with both CD and Vinyl… plus includes a second CD/Vinyl exclusive to the boxset. Without a doubt the hardcore fans are pulling out their wallets for the boxset. Order either at http://www.radiohead.com

October 4, 2007 Posted by | General, Music, Sports | , | 1 Comment