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)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chris Cornell ~ Scream

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: dance pop, techno
Label: Interscope
Year: 2009
Home: Seattle

Members: Chris Cornell ~ lead vocals
Timbaland, Jerome Harmon ~ all instruments
Dan Warner ~ guitars
DJ Timmy T ~ DJ scratching

Additional: Demo ~ programming
Peter Thorn ~ guitars
Lasim Richards, Frank Chadwyck Bernstein, Brian Keegan,
Rashawn Ross, Phil Lassiter ~ horns
Lee Levin, Jason Sutter ~ drums
Darryl Pearson ~ bass/guitars/b. vocals
Brent Kutzle ~ cello
Justin Timberlake, Amar, Ryan Tedder, Jim Beanz, Ezekial Lewis ~ b. vocals


When artists decide to reinvent themselves in a momentary lapse of reason the results can be shocking, though honestly sometimes great and honestly sometimes just plain shocking. Though, shocking might be an understatement for Scream, the third solo album from former Audioslave-Soundgarden-Temple Of The Dog vocalist CC, perhaps one of the best rock singers to ever come out of Seattle with an instantly recognizable deep croon that is to be admired. He's never been shy about experimenting as his diverse musical catalog from day one is witness to ... but to bring on producer Timbaland to become the next dance floor Madonna is a bit too much ... to both consider & certainly to digest. Techno beats galore, loops like nobody's business, synthesized vocals intent on embarressing & all the trademarks of the dancefloor ... not a fun one actually, but a very awkward cold one ... are here, even the profane highly repeated lyrics that may represent real emotions but are too looped & autotuned or something to be taken as honest. This is CC like you've never heard him before ... & pray that you never will again. If he had taken rock song & given them a techno background, such as Seattle's Sky Cries Mary or in an electronica direction a la Die Krupps, who are known for bringing Metallica into the electronica realm, that would be once thing & potentially something interesting to hear, but on Scream the guitars are tucked very low behind the beats & this is anything but a rock album ... in any definition of the word rock ... unless you're like the Rock'N'Roll Hall Of Fame that considers rap music to be rock. This is as straight forward dance as anything in Madonna's catalog since Ray Of Light ... but that had at least a soul & hypnotic flavor to spice up the beats which this lacks. But, one might think that CC's great powerhouse voice might be able to rescue him from the worst musical crisis ... not here. Timbaland has forgotten what makes CC so amazing. Yes, it's his songwriting ... except when looped & turned into a dance beat. But, more importantly it's his singing & that's been tucked into the mix as much as the guitars & given a synthesizer treatment more often then not. The result is like autotuning Streisand or Sinatra & then playing distorted guitars over them blurring almost anything that's left of their talent ... gastly. I'm reminded of Ozzy who once said something akin to that if the most recognizable part of the song is the melody line then don't kill the melody. If the most recognizable feature is the singer, why kill the singer? Puke buckets in the lobby, free of charge, for CC fans & non CC fans alike. I honestly can not figure out the good reviews that are out there on this album. Those must be emphasizing the idea of the experiment over the outcome ... if only we could look in the drop in the stock exchange like that, as remember it's not where the numbers are today but where I wanted them to be! Egads. Though, it should be said, if this was a foundation crafted for Madonna or Rhianna or one of the many dance oriented vocalists out there, Sinatra not withstanding, even Cyndi Lauper's strange beast of a minimalist dance album a few years ago, this album might have some merit. Timbaland knows his stuff, even if he's created something a bit more cold than not & lacking enough texture to keep the album afloat above being heavily repetitious. Some of the looped choruses are actually pretty good. The music flows intricately into one long medley, though that doesn't help the suffering individuality of the songs, & some of the beats are really interesting & quite unique sounding ... if one is still awake to listen. Timbaland should be commended for making one of the more distinctive voices sound like one of the Jacksons desperate for a hit after having lost his voice. The lost & beloved CC does get a few moments to come back to earth, such as the bridge of "Get Up", "Climbing Up The Walls", "Time" & the verse of "Never Far Away", but they are few & make the torture that much worse. Sadly, by the middle of the album one is barely paying attention to those moments anymore having thoroughly lost interest in CC's experiment or a game of listenability. After this Phillip Glass, John Adams, John Cage & opera seem heartwarming. This has to be one of the oddest, most confusing & most disappointing albums of 2009 ... & certainly the worst album from one of my favorite singers. Even Jewel's foray into dance beats still kept some of the Jewel soul & cute spark of poetry. Here it seems to be a game of how to obliterate everything related to CC's personality. One can only ask what CC was aiming for here. Was he sick of his career? Was he sick of being called a rock singer or that guy from the now defunct Soundgarden? Was he so desireous to reinvent hiimself that he knew of no other genre? Was a country career, even, off limits or reality tv? Did he realize how alienating this would be for his fans? Is he really into techno & is doing this because he can & doesn't care what anyone thinks? Did he plan to piss off his fans who expected more great music from him? Did he really think he was pushing the definition of rock music & creating a new synthesis of rock/electronica? Is this his vision of some great musical identity change because the beats flow through him more than the grunge? Does he think he's Bowie or Madonna ... egads, a drag queen coming out of the closet ... both famous image changers who do it far better? Did he want a R&B or dance club fanbase & if so where are they going to go after this - "Black Hole Sun" ... the remix album? I shudder to think of Soundgarden Mach II - the disco era. As for Timbaland, it's said he wanted to leave R&B for a rock album ... keep trying, dude, but you might want to learn what a rock album sounds like first. The funny this is, in theory the pieces of this album, a mixing of talents & styles, isn't so bad & has been done & it works ... just not here unless you consider pain a sign of a theory gone right. The fact that this is the highest charting album of CC's solo career, hitting #10 on the Billboard 100, shows that either folks have no taste or they like to see people embarress themselves ... which some might say is why Bill O'Reilly is so popular. The fact that the following week it dropped to #55, the second biggest drop of a Top 10 album in almost three years, shows that the album was probably a success out the door because folks wanted a new CC solo album - this guy makes great music - but joke on all of us! We don't get his definition of what great music is! Whoops!


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