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21st Century Seance
Green Pajamas
21st Century Seance
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
 

     
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CD Details

All Artists: Green Pajamas
Title: 21st Century Seance
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hidden Agenda
Original Release Date: 1/1/2005
Re-Release Date: 10/18/2005
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Power Pop, Psychedelic Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 795306507727
 

CD Reviews

If Anyone Cares To Read All This...
If | Ohio | 09/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"21st Century Séance is probably the Green Pajamas album with the worst reviews I've read, which are still pretty good, but I can't understand it. This album has songs just as strong as any other album's with some that, once you hear, you'll never want to live without.

It opens with "The Secret of Bethany's Mouth", which is a title quite similar to All Clue's Lead To Meagan's Bed's opener, "The Secret of Her Smile", but that one is rather brighter and more upbeat than this. "... Bethany's Mouth" is a song of desire with what sounds like vocals that went through a Leslie speaker and the guitar sound that Jeff has developed in more recent years. Good song, but not the biggest wow of an opener like other albums have had. It goes into "Jenny V.", a song by keyboardist Eric Lichter. It seems that his songs are generally maligned on this album, though I honestly think they're the best he's had since the first two albums with the band he was on. I normally tend to think his songs seem out of place (Northern Gothic) or would look pretty good except that they're put right next to Jeff Kelly's songs, who just so happens to be an outstanding songwriter. "Claire" is short and simple and very sweet and a great sentiment. "Chip Chop" has a driving pace uncharacteristic of most of his songs and succeeds nicely at it. "Salomé" (which is who the cover art represents) is a worthy song of its story, with its softly heavy feeling, which is an expression you must hear the song to understand. It encapsulates the mad desire the young princess is feeling but the music barely manages to hold all of it. "Like A Memory" rocks pretty good and is a nice example of how hard Jeff Kelly can make his Telecaster scream. "The Black Guitar" continues the heaviness, though more subtly. It feels like a hot, sticky humid afternoon that just weighs down on you.

This is actually probably their heaviest studio album (although not that heavy compared to the mainstream rock, though if you're looking at this you're probably not a very big fan of Atreyu or Three Days Grace) and a marked change in atmosphere from much of their other material, though it does have some darker feelings which This Is Where We Disappear and Northern Gothic have explored, yet all reviews I've seen treat this as the band treading water, essentially repeating themselves. All I know is these songs are very good and that's all that matters to me, whether or not they've sounded like this before or not.

"This Haunted Hill" is one of those songs you won't want to live without. The atmosphere is thick and deep, with distant-sounding guitars and some eerie synth strings that heighten the mood. The melody when he sings "Even though I'm damaged" is one of the best single lines I've ever heard and I doubt Jeff even knows what he truly has here. I can't say this song is completely and totally unlike anything I've ever heard before, but I can't think of where I've heard anything like this and I doubt whoever did it did it better than this. Amazing song. It's one that you notice even when you haven't been paying attention to the music until it.

Laura Weller contributes an excellent song with her "True Lover", whose lyrics came from an A.E. Housman poem. "Gazelle" is another highlight, with its very tasteful use of electronics (which normally I'm at best skeptical of, at worst hateful of) and blissful melody, although it uses only two chords. This is the original recording, though the live version on Ten White Stones was released first, where it was rearranged. "Alibi" is Eric Lichter's last song of the CD and it's pretty slow and quiet, which is kind of a change for this album, and it's good. "All the Lost Kisses" tends to be a favorite, but one reviewer said he'd like it better if he didn't think the band had already done a song just like it. I don't have all their music but I haven't heard one just like it yet, though I concede it is a lot like their normal kind of bright songs. But think about it, this band has been around for more than twenty years and Jeff Kelly is an extremely prolific writer. When you've written hundreds of songs some are bound to overlap some. By this point he's locked into his groove and has his own style, so things aren't going to be rock one day and swing the next or something drastic like that. They've done psychedelia, they've done some folk-rock kinda things, they've done spooky and archaic (the In A Glass Darkly EP), they've done brightness, they've done darkness, soft, heavy, pretty, and dirty. Can you still expect something different than anything they've ever done anymore, especially on their 13th album? He doesn't seem to try to make things completely novel and innovative, I don't think that's what he's concerned with being. He writes songs and they're pretty much invariably good. I'm content with that.

I question the placement of "Pale as the Dead". I don't know if it really works following "All the Lost Kisses". It makes my attention kind of wander after a song as big as that, though I suppose it might have seemed more out of place anywhere else in the sequence. Good song when taken on its own, but it still seems less memorable after the song that follows it, "Mostly Alice [From the séance transcript]". Go to http://www.parasol.com/labels/hiddenagenda/aha077.asp for an explanation of the song, much better than I could give, and commentary from Jeff Kelly about many of the other ones on the album. Most people hype this song up, and it lives up to it, except I think instead of ending where it did there should have been a massive guitar solo, but that's just me.

If you're someone who's not experienced The Green Pajamas yet, Parasol, the site I referred to for the song commentary, has some free MP3s on their various pages for the Pajamas albums (including "All the Lost Kisses) and even more samples. http://www.cameraobscura.com.au/obscura.htm (one of their old record labels' website) has free MP3s of two songs on their Sounds page (click the link on the sidebar) and two from Jeff and Laura's side project The Goblin Market, which is softer, folksier music whose inspiration comes from literary sources. Check out their myspace at http://www.myspace.com/greenpajamas for four full songs, and they often will change them and put up ones that aren't even on an album. You can also buy three non-album songs from Snocap for $.99 each on that page (though I wouldn't say those ones are really representative of their work overall). Their website, secretday.com, has one unreleased song and two unreleased mixes of songs On All Clue's Lead To Meagan's Bed and then some unreleased Goblin Market stuff too. Also in my review here on Amazon for All Clues Lead To Meagan's Bed I elaborated a bit on many of their albums' overall feel so you can better decide which one might suit your tastes better as an introduction, because it'd be a shame to get an album whose feel you might not particularly care for and miss out on their other music that may well be a revelation to you like it has for me and many other people. Maybe all us fans hype the band up more than some would care for, but I don't find it unjustified at all and it's unusual to find music this consistently good still being made now by anyone other than the greats of yesteryear - who many would argue aren't so great anymore - except for the select group of younger people like Regina Spektor who show talent and promise (don't judge her by her song VH1's You Oughta Know was plugging, please!).

So if you've got a spare $15 or so and they sound interesting to you, give The Green Pajamas. You'll probably never regret it."