Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
Alejandro Agonistes may yet have a happy ending, but you wouldn't guess it from this torrent of surrealism and gothic textures. Escovedo's first album since nearly succumbing to hepatitis C and crushing debt in 2003 is the... more »
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Alejandro Agonistes may yet have a happy ending, but you wouldn't guess it from this torrent of surrealism and gothic textures. Escovedo's first album since nearly succumbing to hepatitis C and crushing debt in 2003 is the darkest, most mysterious album of his career--a harrowing, poetic soundscape partly the result of producer John Cale's industrial-noir sensibilities, but also Escovedo's own avant-garde punk roots. The difficult trilogy which opens the album moves from arid Arizona (a wasteland where the soul finds nary a drop to drink) to a conversation with a "dear head on the wall" that becomes a negative Zen poem ("The sadness will come / When there is no one") to a cryptic vision of a buck trampling a wandering doe. Writing with his wife, poet Kim Christoff, as well as Chris Stamey and guitarist Jon Dee Graham, Escovedo isn't just confronting his own mortality and the mistakes which plunged him into a nightmare. He's courting a danse macabre for the sounds and poetry he finds there. On "Sacramento and Polk" he surveys a bohemian hell through a "Thorazine haze," while the Princely groove of "Take Your Place" only seems like a discordant funk party until the lyrics sink in: "I'm going down, down, down / There's nothing here." Escovedo's voice has weathered the physical ravages, caressing all the Mexican nuances out of the synth- and cello-sweetened "Evita's Lullaby" and breaking beautifully on the country ballad "Died a Little Today," which, like each of these emotionally concentrated tracks, is as literal as it is elusive. --Roy Kasten
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The sound of an artist expanding his range
punkviper | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 05/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you'll enjoy this album really depends on how much of Al's previous work you're familiar with. I say this because if you're expecting Man Under The Influence Pt.II you will be disappointed. It's clear that Escovedo is no longer content making rote "alt-country" records, and has decided to expand his sound. This will inevitably lead to above-average reviews from newcomers who weren't on board for any of the past half-dozen albums, but might leave established fans a bit disconcerted. Truth is, first time i heard this album in its entirety i was severely nonplussed. Personally, i don't look to Al for avant-garde production theatrics, or overblown triple-tracked string sections. I thought the work he did up until the illness was the best he'd ever done, and i have to give him full credit for coming back and making a statement, i'm just not 100% sure i'm on board for it. He's reaching, and i completely understand why, but the pursnickety sonic experimentations often leave me yearning for a simple song like Rhapsody again. Though to be fair, a lot of these songs sounded better live during his last tour with the "orchestra." Maybe Cale is who i should blame here.
So that's my take: older fans approach with caution, but keep an open mind. You might agree with the current critics who seem to think this is some sort of watershed moment for the man. It certainly is a change.
Worth the wait
James Reckling | Roanoke, Va USA | 05/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's been 6 years since "A Man Under The Influence" as Alejandro battled (and still does I am sure) Hepatitis C. The production on this album is different than his others, there is less space and Alejandro's voice is up front. I think it works to the music's benefit as Alejandro's great songs sound terrific. Worth picking up for sure."
Vibrant Rock Hybrid
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 01/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alejandro Escovedo who is related to Sheila E & has been in rock bands Rank & File, the Nuns, & True Believers has produced an excellent CD. Escovedo's "Pyramid of Tears" from his "Gravity" CD remains one of my favorite classic album cuts of all time. On this CD we have a number of excellent tracks. "Break This Time" rocks with roaring electric guitar and strings to great a vibrant rock hybrid, "Whoever told you there'd be no danger, nothing to fear here in this house of pain; So speak to me softly & tell me you love me & we'll join together in the refrain." It's a breathtaking stew that climaxes with the closing bars. "Take Your Place" places a complicated lyric on a driving rock beat, "I'm going down, down, down, even deeper still, 'cause this world has gotten so f***ed up." "One True Love" written with Chris Stamey is a wild rocking track, "I'm all messed up; I got nothing to take your place." The opening cut "Arizona" is a haunting melody that snakes eerily through self-exploration, "I turned my back on me & I faced the face of who I thought I was." Mark Andes who was in the bands Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne & Firefall plays the bass on the set. This is a dark album. Escovedo explores themes of loss, regret and sorrow in an original blend of musical styles. Enjoy!"