Critically Acclaimed Fiona Apple Returns with her First Studio Recording in Five Years. Fiona Apple Established Herself as a Visionary Singer/Songwriter at the Age of Nineteen with her Debut Album Tidal in 1996. This Stunn... more »ing Album Went on to Earn her a Grammy Award in 1998 for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" Establishing her as an Uncompromising and Original Artist Gaining Intensely Loyal Fans all Over the World. CD/PAL Dvd - Live Performance Footage.« less
Critically Acclaimed Fiona Apple Returns with her First Studio Recording in Five Years. Fiona Apple Established Herself as a Visionary Singer/Songwriter at the Age of Nineteen with her Debut Album Tidal in 1996. This Stunning Album Went on to Earn her a Grammy Award in 1998 for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" Establishing her as an Uncompromising and Original Artist Gaining Intensely Loyal Fans all Over the World. CD/PAL Dvd - Live Performance Footage.
"Fiona Apple's first new album in six years, Extraordinary Machine, faced a Wilco Yankee Foxtrot Hotel dilemma when her label, Epic, held off releasing it because they thought it was too uncommercial. Due to an aggressive internet campaign and the leaking of the songs, Epic changed their mind and gave Ms. Apple the green light. The album is a stunning collection of songs, many of which were written in the aftermath of Ms. Apple's break up with director Paul Thomas Anderson. Due to this circumstance and the fact that she is no longer a teenager as she was on her first release, the songs have an air of maturity that her previous efforts lacked. The album features producers Jon Brion (who worked the original sessions, but only ends up as a producer on two tracks, Brian Kehew and Mike Elizondo who work with hip-hop artists shows up on the album. Mr. Kehew & Mr. Elizondo don't turn the album into a hip-hop affair, they beautiful match Ms. Apple's smoky voice and soft piano with simple loops that accentuate not dominate the sound. "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)" is a perfect example of their work. They also move away from the baroque sounds of the internet album by adding guitars, horns and slamming drums to the mix. Ms. Apple is the real star though and her work on the piano driven "Get Him Back", the wicked "Red Red Red", the intense "Window" and the great "Better Version Of Me" show that she is ready to take the leap into superior singer-songwriter territory."
Benjamin Norman | Washington DC | 10/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After two years of waiting, grumbling, downloading, and sighing for lack of, we finally have Fiona Apples amazing third album, Extraordinary Machine.
You can definitely tell that she has matured a great deal since "When the Pawn...". She made a lot of changes from "Tidal" to "When the Pawn..." and made a lot of changes from then until now. She seems to have fused the sounds from both albums together, making a musically biting, yet soft album that incorporates a few new sounds as well. For instance, "Tymps" has a very...hip hop feel to it. It's the danciest track she's EVER done, and I think it's absolutely amazing.
She embraces her soft side from the getgo, letting EVERYONE know that this is still very much her, regardless what "Fast As You Can" and "Limp" had to say about it. Her lyrics are great, and I think the ode to her own amazing abilities is extremely well-done. I find this song very fun to listen to, and relaxing at the same time.
The next track, Get Him Back, is a rompin' tavern song (at least I can imagine it being one, with that piano!). Her voice sounds great on this song, and the lyrics are clever and interesting. One of my favorites!
O'Sailor was one of the songs released on Itunes before the CD was released. It's got a very bluesy, merry-go-round sound to it that compliments her smoky voice perfectly. This is one of those "Tidal" fused with "When the Pawn..." songs I told you about. I really enjoy this.
Better Than Me is another fun, bouncy song. I tell you, I love the piano! I just love it! You'll like this one. The chorus is fantastic. This song also utilizes some interesting synth work we haven't heard from her before.
Tymps (The Sick In The Head Song) is the most fun you can have on this CD while still remembering that it's heartfelt, soulful Fiona that's singing. Add the beat and you've got yourself a DEFINITE radio track. Take THAT stupid record labels!
The album continues in this general trend, vascillating from slow to warm and fast, till it concludes with the truly clever, interesting, and downright wonderful track, "Waltz (Better Than Fine", which utilizes, as the title suggest, a waltz as background music. It's pretty soft, at the beginning, but as it progresses it gains edge and volume. You gotta hear this to understand just why I love it so much.
Oh, and some background on this album incase you aren't aware.... In 2003, this album was up and ready to go, but her label "shelved" it because they didn't feel it had a leading radio single to push sales of it. Then, an internet DJ apparently leaked the tracks all over the internet, and when mad Fiona fans heard it, they only got madder. Why keep this brilliance "shelved"? What the hell? "Free Fiona", a website dedicated to getting this album released was then erected (which she thanks in her liner notes) and I wholly attribute this release to their efforts. Fiona, you ROCK, and your fans ROCK HARDER! I love you all!
Pick this up, if not for Fiona, then for the love of music. Do it. Now. Stop reading this, and press "buy"."
Listen to it again.
Tricia Estlund | Jupiter, FL USA | 11/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always thought Fiona seemed wise beyond her years. I've read some reviews of her past works that have included the word genius. Although I always thought she was a bright girl, I also thought people really needed to quit throwing around the word genius so lightly.
As I listened to about half of each song on her Extraordinary Machine CD I thought to myself, what was that poor misguided girl thinking? Please Please Please was the only song I liked enough to load onto my mp3 player.
A few days later as I was jogging I was so stunned I actually stopped cold and just stood there for a minute. Then I started the song over and listened to it again. The lyrics that caught my attention were "Give us something familiar. Something similar. To what we know already. That will keep us steady. Steady going nowhere."
I then realized the reason I added this song to my player was because it was the only song that reminded me of her earlier stuff. I did exactly what she was pointing out in the song and truly felt like she was straight up calling me on it.
After listening to the whole thing a few times I'm utterly addicted to it. Not only was I initially wrong about Extraordinary Machine. I was wrong about Fiona. She truly is a genius and I honestly think this CD is her best work to date. "
"O' [Elizondo], why'd you do it? What'd you do that for?"
Justin Snodgrass | Sebring, FL United States | 10/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""O' [Elizondo], why'd you do it? What'd you do that for?" I was very excited when I found out Fiona Apple's masterpiece was finally going to see the light of day. I was even further psyched when I heard song samples on numerous websites prior to it`s release. The very broad strokes of difference from it's original I heard in little teasers was quite intriguing. I was very eager to hear the "newly reworked" songs in their entirety. I really wanted to like this album more than the previously leaked and somewhat unfinished version. However, now that I have my hands on it, I am less than thrilled. With the "revised" edition, I am left with a sense of emptiness. Don't get me wrong, I love the album. I mean, I would love anything spouted forth from Fiona's perfectly pout mouth. However, the question I have to ask myself is whether or not this version is better than the original. As of right now, after only one listen, I'd have to say no. My biggest complaint is that Fiona's vocals just sound constrained. She sounds as if she's lost her spark. That burning red spark that was always smoldering from within her tiny and neurotic frame. With that gone, she just sounds incredibly bored. And if I were her, I would probably be bored to nausea at this point as well. After the long and strenuous journey to this point of Extraordinary Machine's release, it seems almost anti-climactic. And you can certainly hear that within her voice. I don't really have a huge problem with the remake as far as the instrumentation goes. Almost everything is perfectly pleasing to the ear. Mike Elizondo created some really interesting music here. However, he probably should have kept his talents within the "rap world". In my opinion, Jon Brion, the albums original producer, is much better suited for this genre of music. Some people have said that Brion's version didn't give Fiona's songs a chance to breathe and that Elizondo`s did. But personally, I'd rather be short on breath than pass out from exhaustion. Elizondo's songs just sound tired and uninspired. In fact, a lot of the albums sting has been extracted. For example, on the original "Better Version of Me", just before "Can't take a good day without a bad one", there is a step up that packs a major punch. On this new version, it just coasts on by without making any waves. Elizondo took away it's kick. He also botched "O' Sailor", which was once sultry and remorseful. Now, along with it's insipid chorus-like backing vocals, it just doesn't impress. Most of these songs have been reworked so much that the edge has finally wore off. Another complaint I have is for the once perfect song "Please Please Please". Brion's version is amazingly catchy. The new version is amazingly stoic. Elizondo has completely raped this song of all it's glory. Once staccato paced and delightfully deviant, is now just plain, stripped and bare. "Red Red Red" was also regretfully touched in the same way. That seems the case for most of Elizondo's cuts, in fact. He tries oh-so-very hard to bring new life into Brion's songs. But the results only backfire in his face. Sometimes bigger, louder, and more commercial isn't always better. Brion's version may have not been perfect, but it was certainly better than this. He had the right idea. He just needed a little help executing it. I'm sure Mike Elizondo had good intentions, and for the most part didn't create a bad album. But some things are better left untouched. To me, it sounds as if Jon Brion's Extraordinary Machine has been taken by Elizondo and dunked into a glass of stale water. Now that the album has reached the surface, it just comes off cold and wet in comparison to that of the original. Now with that said, I would like to say I am giving this album 5 stars. You may be wondering why I would give it such high marks after everything I`ve just said. The reason for that is, it's only insignificant when put next to the original and unreleased Jon Brion version. If this album were to stand on it's own, it certainly wouldn`t need supports. Fiona Apple is without a doubt one of the most talented and ingenious artists out there today. Her writing and musical sensibilities while odd at times, are visionary and completely unparalleled nonetheless. The "Extraordinary Machine Saga" is an unfortunate event that hopefully will not sway her from continuing on as a musician. Because frankly, the world needs more albums like this, original and/or new. "
Not what I expected, but still great
A. Beckett | Madison, WI | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a fan of Fiona Apple ever since picking up a copy of Tidal back in college. Since that time, I've pretty much always had a tape, CD, or .mp3 player with at least one of Fiona Apple's songs on it. Her voice and talents on the piano can't be matched by any other artist I've ever heard. So, it should be easy to see that I'm very happy the drought of new Fiona material has ended with the release of Extraordinary Machine.
I should also add that I have heard the "leaked" version of this album, which was done with producer Jon Brion. The music they created together in that version is amazing and I was eagerly awaiting something just like that when I picked up the official release. This is not the case though.
If you have heard the leaked version of this album and feel that anything less than owning an actual copy of that is a waste of money, then it might be better to not buy this album. I'm not saying this version is bad...it's still amazing when looked at on its own. I'm only trying to convey that some of the tracks have been changed drastically in terms of backup instruments and vocal effects, to the point where they have taken a slightly new direction. Most notable in those changes are revamped versions of Window, Tymps (the sick in the head song), O'Sailor, and Not About Love. All of those tracks are still wonderful works of art, but they feel a little different on this album. There were changes in just about every track, but those are the ones that stand out most to me.
Two of the Brion tracks did survive the change to producer Mike Elizondo. Extraordinary Machine and Waltz remain the same as what many Fiona fans have heard over the past several months. Brion's influence is still present in many of the other songs as well, although most of the tracks do have a slightly more hip-hop sound to them. That is largely the result of using a producer who has worked with many of the greats of that genre. They still sound great and should be enjoyed by any music fan.
This album does include the addition of the song Parting Gift, which is a melancholy tune with just Fiona and her piano. Her voice really shines through the entire song and it is quickly becoming on my favorites of the new album. This song alone almost makes it worth owning the record for me.
I purchased the DualDisc version of the CD, which has many great little extras added in. The camera work on the live performances is a little shaky and out of focus at times, but it does provide a look at Fiona and Jon in a very intimate club setting. Fiona plays no piano in most of the videos. It's mainly Jon playing acoustic guitar while Fiona sings. Most of the features were actually already available on the official Fiona website, so you may not get much new material if you've viewed the media there. The video for Not About Love is pretty humorous, and is another added bonus of the DualDisc release.
Overall, this is a great album and I would say just about any fan of Fiona should pick it up. I'll be proud to have it sit in my collection, ready to pull out when I'm one of those moods where only Fiona will do."