Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's like opening a present, listening to an anticipated album and discovering new favorites

My favorite band is Barenaked Ladies. While I love many styles of music, this band of Canadians have humo(u)r, spirit, caring, intelligence, and life in all of their music. There is not an album of theirs that I have not enjoyed, have not listened to a million times. Today, their 9th group album has been released. The album is called, "Barenaked Ladies are Me," or "BLAM."

I paid for the album a few weeks ago, being notified of the great deal through emails from the band (fan club alert!) and was thrilled to see it download in iTunes. By getting the pre-order, I was able to get the deluxe version at a discounted rate. Good music and a good deal! Heaven!

This post is a pure endorsement for a band that tries anything to reach fans. They have worked hard to develop an album they can be proud of and one that is sent to fans in anyway. A couple of years ago, they released a holiday album. To jump on the technology and mp3 era, the band released a version of the album on a jump drive, complete with a couple videos and random live tracks. How cool! I bought one even though I already had a jump drive (keychain drive, pen drive, use any terminology but it is basically a USB storage device) and already had most of the songs on the "album".

The band also records their concerts and allows them for download. I've bought a couple of the concerts, including the one that DM and I went to in Vegas. If you get a chance to see them perform, take it! The live show is awesome, full of energy, laughs, ad libs, and emotion. Tour dates for this upcoming tour are found here and I'm thrilled to see that the band is playing in Saint Paul on a Sunday! It may mean showing up late for karaoke, but I want to go. DM, do you want to go? I'm serious about this one. Consider it what I want for my birthday. I want to spend a night out at this concert. Ask Keem. The show is Sunday, November 19th and it is at the Excel Energy Center.

This album is produced by BNL and BNL alone. This was their project, no record label putting fingers in the pot. I do recommend a listen and if you like it, support the band!

The tracks are as follows:

Adrift - Ed Robertson sings this song about how things do not feel right anymore. "Your heart's got a heavy load, you've still got a long way to go, keep your eyes on the road." The lyrics make me think of a lost person, trying to discover themselves again in a world that has changed.

Bank Job - Ed sings this one. It starts slow but feels like it should speed up as Ed narrates a story through song. It doesn't speed up, but the bridge has more melody driving the song. "I was the driver, you ran the show, you had the last word, I knew every ..." It's seriously about robbing a bank that was full of "nuns." Plans gone wrong? It is funny.

Sound of Your Voice - Strong guitar intro. This song has an older rock feel. Steven Page (how I love him) sings this one. "How I miss waking up to the sound of your voice." It's got a good beat and you could dance to it.

Easy - The first single released from the album and a video has already been compiled for this song. The video goes through fairy tales and has a "Monty Python" cut-out feel to it. This is an Ed track and I can see why it was released as the first single of the album. This song is more folk rock sounding.

Home - Steven sings this one, soft and relaxing. "Where does the heart reside if not where I lay my head, I could run but I'm petrified, but choose this instead, again, again, again." "That's when I knew I was home."

Bull in a China Shop - The fun, campy song of BNL. "I'm a tired old metaphor for everything you can't afford, for everything you can't afford to be." It's an upbeat, quick song with Stephen singing. "I can't hear a thing because I stopped listening." "I'm the reason I don't go out." "If you lived here, you'd be home by now. If you still lived here, you'd be home now with me!"

Everything Had Changed - Steve sings this one. I'm just happy every time I hear his voice start a track. It's sick really. There's some good strings in this song (compliments of Jim, I'm sure) and a bit of bluegrass feel. I'm sure that's a banjo going throughout the song, driving the beat. "Then one day, I was not alone, everything had changed, everything was strange..." I like it.

Peterborough and the Kawarthas - Jim sings this one. Jim Kreegan typically plays the bass (not the electric kind, but the large stringed instrument). Once in awhile, his voice will show up on a track as the primary singer. While I like the song, I'm usually confused by his songs. This one is no exception. It does have a radio broadcast during the song that makes me wonder if it is a short homage to "We Built this City."

Maybe You're Right - Steve again. Background is mostly synthasized with guitar picking driving a bit of melody. Another soft, sweet tone with a deeper meaning. "Shall I, take back, everything I never said, and live, my whole life, in silence instead?" "There was a time when crying was a crime and now I think I'm losing my mind taking it all to heart." Ed has a large vocal part on this song and the chorus has a round between Ed and Steve. They echo each other, strengthening the song. The break of horns is unexpected and totally awesome to end the song with power.

Take it Back - Nice piano/keyboard track running through the song. This is an Ed-on-vocals track. "If I said something to make you mad, I'll take it back." I do love the line, "Is this a news report or a trailer for a motion picture, it all fades to grey." "Save me from a villianous imagination, deliver me from my friends." The keyboard track really drives the song.

Vanishing - Kevin Hearn has a few songs on this album where he does main vocals. "He's a magician, hoping and wishing, that you're the one vanishing." A bit haunting and yet it fits the feel of the album. The lyrics include a verse about the Bellagio and I wonder if he got the idea at an actual performance of magic.

Rule the World With Love - Steve! "While we were napping, someone else began to rule the world with love." Nice message, "Love will conquer all, one for all ... love and war is won." "Hearts are won, empires fall, and love with love, all is fair in love and war, love for all," are all lines in the song. Pretty and feel good.

Wind it Up - Strong electric guitar and Ed's voice starts this one out. "You've done a lot of yelling pointed at my eardrum ... I'll get back to you once I get my disguise on ... Had it up to here." The lyrics indicate this may be a song about the fights a married couple may have. And from the sounds of it, could be a nasty fight. "If you are leaving, then I wish you luck, I hope someone can make your heart form, I was a baby when I learned to suck, but you have raised it to an artform."

Serendipity - Kevin Hearn sings this track. He's normally the keyboardist but I enjoy it when he sings a song. The fact that there are multiple singers in this band is nice to mix up the tracks, the feelings. This song has a beat that reminds me of a song from Maroon called, "Conventioneers." The lyrics are nowhere close to that song, but the keyboard accompaniment is similar.

Something You'll Never Find - Steven sings this one. Fast paced music and one I'll have to listen to a few hundred times. "You're looking for someone, I'll never be."

One and Only - Another Ed-on-vocals track. Slower than normal for a BNL track. Not sure what I think yet.

Angry People - Steven singing again. This song is campy and upbeat again, but about attitudes and how negative (or angry) people try to drag down those around them, making happy people feel bad for being happy. "We just drag you down until you're just like us." This is the happiest song about negative emotions I think I've ever heard. What else can you expect from a band who wrote a song about shopping to mock the United States view of our economy and how to avoid world issues by spending money?

Down to Earth - Ed sings this upbeat one. "What's more ironic than a hippie in Versace?" "Hey now, wake up and lose the make up ... you really want to show her how she's just so down to earth via satellite."

Beautiful - Ed-on-vocals again. "What if you were not so simply beautiful?" "Hoping it's deeper than skin," this song is a bit jazzy. It's a nice change from the other songs, a different feel, more romantic. I do love how the band is not afraid to have different types of musical influences. The album, "Everything for Everyone," has various styles of music on it, ranging from bluegrass to techno to latin. This band constantly evolves and tries new things much to the enjoyment of the listeners.

Running Out of Ink - Steve has this one. It is quick, jumpy, and fun. "It's bigger than you think, I'm running out of ink, give a guy a break, this is what it takes to drive a man to drink." The lines are delivered as fast bits of information and I do like it.

Half a Heart - Ed again. "Anyone with half a heart would help me out before they let the other half find out ... anyone with half a heart would let me drown."

Maybe Not - Ed blares this one out. It's strongr than he usually sings and I didn't expect that, but I like it. "Maybe you'll forgive the things that I forgot. Maybe you're forgetting all the times we fought. Maybe we should divy up all the things we bought, but maybe not." Sounds like the debate over whether or not a couple should break up. Is it harder to stay together or to split up? Interesting question to ask. The beat of the song is jumpy and I found myself bouncing to the beat.

I Can I Will I Do - I first heard this song as a live track. "You don't think I can love you, but I can and I will and I do." This is a Steven vocal track, always my favorite. While I enjoy Ed's voice quite a bit, there's something about Steven's voice that draws me in. It's probably because of "Break Your Heart," but that's another song and another story.

Fun and Games - Ed sings this one out that starts with the snare drum counting out the beat like you would expect in a military setting. Once the intro passes, the song picks up with electric guitars and then the song breaks out into something you'd expect in "Chicago," the musical. Then back to the regular beat. It sounds like the song is about politics and possibly history or just the fall of a nation. "Who knew this barrel of fun would be a powder keg." Knowing the views of most of the band, this is possibly a slam at the governments of North America.

The New Sad - Steve again! "Everybody knows that happy is the new sad, I'll imitate my dad and never crack a smile again." This song has a bird singing and cooing in it. I'm not entirely sure what to thik of that. The lyrics make me feel this is a song about aging and losing what we all had when we were young. Every BNL album has a song, somewhere on the album, that drives a depressing message. This feels like that song.

Quality - Another Ed-on-vocals track. Not about the quality monitors I deal with at work. Not that I expected that. The lyrics seem to travel around the world, mentioning England and Japan. It also puts every -y word I can think of in it to rhyme. Catchy and cute.

Another Spin - Kevin sings again! How cool! At first, I thought it was going to be a piano bar ditty, but that even makes sense for it to be a Kevin song. The spinning object seems to be a globe.

What a Letdown - Ed sings this one too. It's on the iTunes download, but I didn't see it on the band's site. I've heard this as a live track from one of their concerts (they played various songs in development while touring). My favorite line from this song is, "That might have been funny at twenty but I just turned thirty-two, oh well, what a letdown."

Why Say Anything Nice? - Another Steve song that wasn't listed on the band's site. "Why say anything nice when you can say nothing at all?" I'll have to listen to this one a few times and I'm sure I'm going to love it. It has a fun beat and I do love Steven Page.

*Note: iTunes lists the tracks in a different order than the album on the BNL website. The listing here is in the order from the band's site.

BNL's catalogue of full albums:
1. Gordon
2. Maybe You Should Drive
3. Born on a Pirate Ship
4. Rock Spectacle
5. Stunt
6. Maroon
7. Everything for Everyone
8. Barenaked for the Holidays
9. Barenaked Ladies are Me

Worth mentioning:
Vanity Project (Steven Page solo project)