Mar 232005
Authors: Nicholas LoFaro

John Butler Trio, "Sunrise Over Sea"

On an assumption that you have probably never heard John Butler or his trio, consider yourself unlucky. The John Butler Trio has had three previous albums, but "Sunrise Over Sea" is the finest album the trio has created thus far.

The group is devoid of all rock 'n' roll clich� and glamour, and even upon a quick listen to any of the group's songs, it is clear that the members put a lot of thought and time into carefully constructing every aspect. If John Butler Trio sounds familiar, it may be because the band has toured extensively for a long time, shared the stage with Gov't Mule and made an appearance at the Bonnaroo music festival.

John Butler violently plays an 11-string guitar (a 12-string Washburn acoustic without the high-octave G string) and belts out finger-picked, organic and grassroots style jams. For fellow guitar players, imagine a deep acoustic sound and open-tunings played through a Marshall Super Lead amplifier. Alongside the aggressive guitar playing, bassist Shannon Birchall plays groove-worthy lines on a standup bass and drummer Micheal Barker moves in and out of progressive beats with the energy of a machine gun.

Influences from all different types of music genres will easily draw in fans from all different realms without any alienation. The trio is an incredible cornucopia of blues, hip-hop, rock, reggae, pop, Appalachian/Celtic folk and country laced with hip-hop beats and reggae flow. Collectively, John Butler Trio is one of the finest rock bands to never be heard in the mainstream, but give it time because there are no complaints about this album has in this review- it is rather flawless.

Butler is a terrific singer/songwriter who exposes his eco-critical and environmentally conscious concerns to the point of extremity in many songs. The opener, "Treat Yo Mama," is a terrific slide-guitar jam that screams out to people to treat Earth like you would a family member. "Company Sin," has the album's tightest groove propelled by a hand-bobbing bass riff, and "There'll Come Time" is one of the darker songs reflecting the destructive direction in which the human race is headed.

"Oldman" has an Incubus/Dave Matthews feel to it and is the hardest hitting on "Sunrise Over Sea." Butler lets his singing guide the album's emotions with a voice that sounds like a combination of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Incubus's Brandon Boyd and Days of the New's Travis Meeks.

Besides Butler's obvious love for Mother Earth, he takes a lot of time to express love for other females, too. His daughter and his wife are subjects on the acoustic ballads "Peaches & Cream" and "Seeing Angels." If you are interested in hearing some incredibly enjoyable music and an entirely original sound then check out John Butler Trio. It will not be long before the band is going to be in your eardrums anyway.

Queens of the Stone Age, "Lullabies To Paralyze"

It's often hard to understand if a band is a group or if it is a concept. Bands that purposefully try to stay a concept and maintain their sound while adding and subtracting musicians are going to struggle with sound issues because of the musician change – no one artist is an exact replica of the one that he or she is replacing.

While this may not be entirely true for Queens of the Stone Age, it has proven to be a failure in the past with some bands. Josh Homme, singer/guitarist, would technically be a solo musician if it weren't for the entourage of musicians who are helping out as part of the Queens family.

Nick Oliveri, who had been bassist for Queens, left the band prior to this album, and Dave Grohl is not back behind the drum set for this album either. Although new drummer Joey Castillo is capable, he is flawed in the fact that he is not Dave Grohl, but he holds his own – especially on the powerhouse songs "Tangled Up In Plaid" and "Little Sister."

So with Homme and fellow musician Troy Van Leeuwen, formally of A Perfect Circle, keeping the Stone Age alive, they needed extra help from other musicians. ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons appears on "Burn The Witch," a grit-and-smoke blues tune that sounds like it may have been recorded in a mid-'70s garage with vocals reminiscent of Jim Morrison.

Garbage's Shirley Manson and the Distiller's Brody Dale add vocals on the acidy blues song "You Got A Killer Scene There, Man," but they might as well as not have contributed anything to the song because their voices are barely audible behind the sounds. "Tangled Up In Plaid" is the coolest song on the album with a haunting guitar riff backed with churning drums and a bass line that hits you like a punch in the face. "Long Slow Goodbye" closes the album with melodic acoustic and slide guitar, sounding like a song that might be a good companion on a summer road trip.

"Lullabies To Paralyze" lacks the comical aspect of the last album and also lacks the ferocity and catchy genius of the songs "No One Knows," "Go With The Flow" and "Song for the Dead." Queens of the Stone Age fans should go pick up this album immediately, but whether or not "Lullabies" will draw in new listeners is questionable; the Queens will have to wait and see.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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