I found out about this 2008 album from my friend David, who, in a stroke of irony, started a blog of his own.
But Hunter, what's ironic about that?!
When we were in high school, back when AOL Instant Messenger was not only the primary method for teenagers to talk to each other, but the AIM Profile served the same kind of function that facebook does today --- kids had their favorite quote, some information about themselves, a link to their favorite band, snarky comments, etc. Exactly like facebook. Don't fight me on this.
Anyhow, back then, the word "blog" didn't exist yet, but guess what word did? "JOURNAL." Yeah baby, you know you remember it. "Journals," which were, predictably, online journals, were the awkward precursor to blogging as we know it, but back in the day, you have to remember that Google didn't exist yet. That meant that journals were not ever meant for mass audiences - they were always meant for your 3 friends that had AOL to read. This exclusivity meant that most early journals were full of embarrassingly
Anyways, one day I checked David's AIM profile, and saw that he had added a link: "my journal." Now, I thought this was weird, because David just wasn't the type. Well; naturally I was excited at potentially having some dirt on David with which to make fun of him. I also thought, hey, there might be a side of David that I've never considered before - maybe he has a more introspective side beneath the hard persona. Maybe he has sensitive ideas about things that he couldn't say out loud because the high school social structure would never let him live it down. Maybe he really loves cats. Maybe he's into gardening. All told, I was pretty curious to see what this journal was going to be about.
So I click the link, and I am just tickled pink thinking that I am minutes away (this is 1997, yo) from laughing at one of my friends writing about how elephant poaching makes him cry, or how he still watches Winnie the Pooh. Well, the site finally loads, and my jaw dropped.
I been zapped!
On the page was a picture of David, mean-muggin' like you never seen before, middle finger up, with big, bold block letters "JOURNALS ARE FOR FUCKING DORKS"
Anyways, the Cynic album is badass, buy it.
Just kidding, I'll actually tell you a little bit about it.
The first thing that stood out to me was the composition --- Paul Masvidal's composition and arrangement style uses a lot of dynamic range --- not only volume, from quiet to loud, but also smooth, clear guitar tones to harsh, heavy guitar tones, from legato, jazzy drum passages up through thrashy metal sequences. you will immediately either 1) respect the composition, or 2) think "OK, I don't get this."
Chances are though, if you read this blog, you'll listen to "King of Those Who Know" at least once, for the sake of science and artistic exploration. When I first heard it, I was like, "ehhh, this ain't my thing," but after I listened to it in full once, I felt a strong compulsion to hear it again, and all these little things jumped out at me. 9 listens later, I had to buy the album.
There is a very present jazz influence. Also, for the guitar nerds out there, you will hear some beautiful Stratocaster style tones. You could honestly mistake the outro to "King of Those Who Know" for John Mayer if you didn't know it came right after a thrash-metal verse.
You'll also notice an incredibly addictive groove to all of these songs once they get going. The post-intro drop on "The Space For This" slays me.
The thing that impresses me the most is how the soft and hard parts work so well together. I remember my sister once told me, with a preface / disclaimer of "I know this is totally lame to say," that she finally "got" Radiohead, while she was at a Radiohead concert that her husband dragged her to - and couldn't describe it any better than this; "it was just beautiful."
Getting Cynic is a lot like that --- the total picture just has a beauty to it. If you zoom in too far and focus on what you're hearing right now, as opposed to what you're hearing, you might miss what's so great about it.
Blues Brothers from Oz is Over the Rainbow on Vimeo.
Think of it like your favorite movie. Mine's "The Blues Brothers." All in all, the movie is hilarious, and the overarching theme of reserved, subtle humor is what I love about it. One if the best scenes / lines in the movie is when they're under the bridge, about to make their run for the Palace Hotel Ballroom in their Dodge cop car, and Elwood turns to Jake and says, " It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses" and Jake, without a second's hesitation, says "Hit it."
If you didn't know the characters, the characteristic of their dialogue, and their dynamic, you would not be able to extract any humor or enjoyment out of that --- but in the context of the film, it's the turning point of the whole story, and one of the most revered movie scenes of all time.
Check out Cynic's "Traced In Air."