Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

January 18, 2013

Built To Spill ~ Ancient Melodies Of The Future

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Style: indie rock, experimental
Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 2001
Home: Boise, ID

Members: Doug Martsch ~ vocals/guitar/keyboards/percussion
Sam Coomes ~ keyboards
Scott Plouf ~ bass/drums
Brett Netson ~ bass/drumsguitar/hi-hat/thumb piano

This doesn't have the awkward rhythm kick of some earlier albums, such as Perfect From Now On, the first album I heard by the very unique B2S led by intrepid guitarist/songwriter Doug Martsch who draws more from Allen Holdsworth & mixes it with indie rock than you might have thought possible. Ancient Melodies Of The Future doesn't stray far from the intricate melodies of weaving waves called songs & Martsch's lazy voice that B2S has become famous for. It sounds different than previous albums, yet it doesn't. Guitars intertwine over a strange hypnotic groove that's really unlike anything else in the musical landscape, or at least anything immediately referenceable in my mind that folks reading this review might know. The music is intimate & approachable, maybe more so on this album being less awkwardly rhythmic & less guitar oriented, & it wraps you up, yet easily can be blasted at full volume from a big stage & not loose that feeling. B2S is one of those bands that really needs to be checked out & I recommend them fully. You won't be disappointed. They're also one of those bands that you actually can't pull apart their albums too much. Yes, songs blend into each other, some fade from memory, others leave you wondering what you heard him play, some meander a bit too much & too long, others you have to hear again, but its the experience of the whole here that's the magic. Martsch will run you through the gauntlet & other times craft a lullaby. He somehow never sounds like a show-off pretentious guitar rocker making music just for musicians, though he's doing stuff you won't be able to figure out. Do not avoid Martsch's baby. All their albums get great reviews - that's a rare thing & worth considering, too. The only rough part is their unfocused 1993 debut but its name says everything: Ulimate Alternative Wavers. Best description yet of B2S. Intricate & unpredictable & unlike anything you've heard before - the real ultimate alt rockers.

CONCERT REVIEW: Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, c. 1997. Watching B2S is like watching a one man band, but with a band. & it's watching yourself get confused. Is it stoner rock? Indie rock? Guitar driven pop? Guitar rock? A jam band? Is he improvising any of this? A groove band? Certainly, a live show feels like a little bit of each with a big groove underneath it all pulling you into a musical world & a humbling live performance. Pot smoking welcomed, I'll confess. Over a decade later I don't remember the album being toured, but I know I walked away mesmerized & always remembered how great it was. & this was just a little show for 200 of us & he was the opening act for Sky Cris Mary. This certainly isn't show-off music, that's for certain. Martsch isn't there to put together a flashy show or even show off his technical prowess. Go to Dream Theater for that. This is a guy whose feels & looks like a songwriter more than anything whose shyly come out of his bedroom to share his music with abandon. B2S really must be seen, but luckily the magic of the live show comes across on the albums.

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