Download: Nine Inch Nails Tour Rehearsals

A member of Nine Inch Nails’ live production team has recorded a collection of 26 tracks that will be heard on the band’s upcoming Tension tour 2013. The setlist includes some tracks off their upcoming album, Hesitation Marks, as well as some old favorites. In some instances, you can hear Trent Reznor chat with the rest of the band during the rehearsals. And best of all, the recording quality is divine.

The setlist is as follows:

Copy of A
Sanctified
Came Back Haunted
Disappointed
1,000,000
March of the Pigs
Piggy
The Frail
The Wretched
Terrible Lie
Gave Up
I’m Afraid Of Americans
Closer
Burn
Help Me I am In Hell
Me, I’m Not
Find My Way
What If We Could?
The Way Out Is Through
Wish
Survivalism
Only
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole
The Day The World Went Away
Hurt

Download the entire recording here, or click the picture above.

Hesitation Marks comes out September 3rd on Columbia Records. Pre-order the new album here.

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Album Review: Tom Hummer – “Pairs”

Pairs cover art

When The Greenhouse Effect came out in 2010, I didn’t get to hear it until around mid-2012. I was struck by its very clean instrumentation and production, as well as its dark and morose songwriting. The album also had a knack for melody and hooks, especially on tracks like “Town Meeting”. But I felt like it was missing something, like a true purpose or ambition.

When I learned of a new album to be released by Hummer, I thought that it would probably be more of the same, only refined. In TGE, Tom didn’t have much confidence or self-esteem when it came to performing as a solo artist. Thanks to much retrospective praise and acclaim, he found the will to continue and create this leap of a sophomore album, simply entitled Pairs.

Aside from the headache-spawning, yet brilliant album cover this has (it’s a scintillating grid illusion), Pairs isn’t really the easiest experience ever. This is a concept album, and its concept is a bit tough to wrap your head around. Songs are arranged in sets of two, hence the album’s title. They are grouped together, mostly lyrically. The album is primarily in the vein of progressive rock, noticeably different from The Greenhouse Effect.

Despite that quality, the album maintains what made Tom’s last album special: catchy hooks, great riffs, and bass-heavy production. However, the lyrics are where change is evident. Take the track “Alcatraz” for example. The track before was the single, titled “Free”. But on this track, the lyrics totally explain a different story. Tom starts off talking about being free and not knowing what comes to him, and on the next track talks about being trapped and restrained: “We just can’t believe you got outside/we locked the door a thousand times”. The two are a pair in the concept, and it’s a pretty good batch of irony.

“Drifting Out to Sea” is a more chord-based track. The chord progression and vocal melody is a bit predictable, however. But the lyrics are especially depressing, explaining Tom struggling through insanity and losing hope in himself and others. The song only features Hummer on guitar, with no other instruments around it. The simplicity of the track is what hits it out of the park for me.

The vocals on this album are a huge factor in Pairs. Tom has definitely gotten very confident in his vocals. A bit too confident, I think. Of course, you have some great vocal moments, like “Free” and “Absolutely Everything”, but there are moments where I think Tom’s confidence got the best of him. The track “Hypnosis” has some great guitar arrangements and a great interview sample, but the background vocals can be very pitchy. At one point, I didn’t even know what notes he was trying to sing.

Now, to the concept part. The conceptual flow to the album is absolutely brilliant. I can’t help but feel the “pairs” idea and the depressing lyrics come together like bread and butter. There are noticeably less catchy standouts on the album than The Greenhouse Effect, due to the idea of an “album listening experience” rather than a collection of songs.

Pairs is an album that takes several listens to get the idea. It is definitely one of the best “multiple-listen” albums of the year. The only thing I question is Tom’s inconsistent vocals. If he can step up his game on his next album and consistently churn out equal-par vocal parts, then I think I’ll have a better time. But for now, I really can’t wait to hear this live.

83/100

Album Review: Washed Out – “Paracosm”

Washed Out is the pseudonym of Ernst Greene, a Georgia electronic/indie pop musician. His music is commonly associated with the chillwave movement of 2010, along with artists such as Toro Y Moi and Neon Indian. Once the movement faded out, it seemed like demand for these type of artists, and the artists that were known for creating these types of music, were fading. Toro Y Moi’s most recent release was more of a change of pace, slightly turning away from the chillwave sound that dominated past releases. I was expecting sort of the same from Washed Out on this album, but the end product, to me, feels like familiar territory.

Greene continues to make great chillwave tunes on this record. most notably the title track and “Falling Back”. However, the lack of surprises really prevents me from truly enjoying this record. Washed Out has been doing this same style, with barely a change for three releases now. For me, I think it’s time for Washed Out to truly start experimenting with his sound. Consistency isn’t always a bad thing, but you can’t stay too same-y for too long.

64/100

Album Review: Jackson Scott – “Melbourne”

Melbourne is the debut album by the psychedelic, lo-fi musician Jackson Scott. The sounds on this record are very dense and layered, and also very hazy. This album is filled with drone-y, psychedelic, and atmospheric production. The melodies are also very dark and apocalyptic, in a way. Aside from those qualities, a few songs on here can be very memorable, even catchy at some points. I can give credit to Jackson for creating very likeable psych-pop songs.  Tracks like “That Awful Sound” and “Any Way” are fun and exciting tunes.

There are also a large share of experimental, textured instrumentals on here. Tracks such as the opener “Only Eternal” or “Wish Upon” are short transition pieces that bridge the previous track to the next. Also, a few songs on here are pretty stripped down, with only vocals and guitars. A pure example is the track “Tomorrow”, with a pretty good melody to it as well.

However, some tracks on this record can feel a bit unfinished. Tracks sometimes meander without having a true “ending”, or can be somewhat disappointing structurally. Not taking anything away from Jackson’s skills as a musician, but a few tracks feel a bit underwhelming.

All in all, Melbourne is an enjoyable listen for sure, although I can’t help but feel that a few things on this album could have been executed a lot better. Despite my gripes, I did enjoy this album. If you’re into trippy, psychedelic soundscape-esque sounds, Melbourne should be added to your queue.

73/100

DFC turns 1 today!

Last year on August 2, 2012, I decided to start a small blog on Tumblr that posted music news and album recommendations. I can’t believe it’s been exactly one year since I’ve started this. Thanks to everyone who have supported me along the way.

P.S: I am still on vacation, and my posts will remain less frequent than usual.