Tag Archives: Tool

Got that covered – Aaron o’Keefe edition

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Unless you’re a pop megastar or an outspoken feminist, sifting and junking unedifying email isn’t really that big a deal.

So sign up for a bunch of stuff; just dive in. Sure, you might find yourself deluged with bunch of crap stuff, but then once in a while you’ll stumble across something that just blows you away, like this did me:

Aaron o’Keefe‘s just a regular guy: a music tutor. But when his students are tackling tunes like this – and with such applomb – he’s obviously doing something right. I think I actually prefer this to the original. I went straight back to Ӕnima after hearing this and it’s ok – good actually – but Tool never really happened for me until it put out Lateralus. Maynard Keenan is an amazing singer (see below) and it takes some balls (or maybe just childish fearlessness) to step into his shoes. This little girl is just fantastic, and the young guy on drums ain’t no slouch, either (check out those drum signatures [4.31-5.06]). Don’t let X-Factor/BGT get you down: not everyone’s chasing the money and/or vacuous adulation. For many it’s all about the art…

I likely wouldn’t have come across this if not for Jason Hirshhorn’s Media ReDEFined, along with Upworthy, GenderTrender and The Lefsetz Letter they’re my top go-to sites for current affairs stuff. Like I said up top, trawl the net and if something clicks, click: there are enough diamonds in the rough for everyone.

For Tool newbies, here’s the original recording from Ӕnima:

…and my favourite Keenan vocal performance, Wings For Marie Pts 1 and 2:

Enjoy! 🙂

Triple review: A Perfect Circle – Three Sixty + Multimedia Pack

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Great review of 360, the new A Perfect Circle compilation from A Metal State Of Mind. ChristopherMammal is the newest addition to their growing roster of reviewers, and I love his writing. This site is constantly raising its own game with its expanding pool of writers, helping to remain an essential go-to site for the latest in metal, hard rock and prog news.

Fans of Tool and Maynard Keenan are a notoriously-devoted lot, so the release of a new APC song – de rigueur on any decent ‘best of’ – is sure to have them salivating. Best of all, it’s a great song and not a tacked-on b-side or demo-quality throwaway track.

Keenan evinces a quality shared by many of rock’s most iconic frontmen, from Elvis to (Jon) Anderson to Rotten to Morrissey and on, in that his voice is utterly distinctive from the first note. It’s to his and the other writers’ credit, then, that APC avoid sounding like Tool clones whilst managing to grab a sizable portion of that band’s alt/prog rock audience.

As ChristopherMammal says By And Down ‘…should greatly satisfy followers of APC...’ as well as temporarily assuaging Tool fans hungry for new material during that band’s extended hiatus. It’s a great track, and a timely reminder of just what a powerful and nuanced performer Maynard J is.

Saying that… I gotta take issue with the ‘sublime prog metal’ tag. Well, not the sublime bit; but ‘prog metal’? For me, the refreshing thing about APC – as with Puscifer – was the way it showcased Keenan‘s unmistakable vocal in a soundworld that was – and is – decidedly more accessible, closer to conventional pop/rock structure, and none the worse for it. In Tool, his voice is frequently as much an instrument in its own right; a haunting addition to the sonic palette as it is a conveyor of feeling and idea. In APC he’s all about the words. To me the band is very much what would have been considered alternative rock, before the crossover successes of bands including Nirvana, Oasis, REM and Metallica back in the ’90s made the term somewhat anachronistic. The line-up of nominees for the recent Mercury Award ceremony in the UK amply demonstrates just how far we’ve travelled down the road in blurring any distinction between ‘mainstream’ and ‘indie’/’alternative’/’underground’ these days.

I don’t hear much prog OR metal in By And Down: what I DO hear is a pair of true artists who have honed their songwriting craft and taken it to the next level. I hear a mature, poignant, perfectly-paced rock ballad that matches, even surpasses the quality of their previous output. Sure, like CM I’d like to hear more, an album’s worth, even. But maybe that’s not possible… With both Tool and APC, Keenan and co. have maintained the quality precisely by pandering to their muses and keeping up the mystique; rather than joining to rock’n’roll gravy train and churning out sub-par albums every 18 months.

Enjoy the song for what it is, and don’t hold your breath for the next Tool record either. That looks like being some time off too.

A Metal State of Mind

APC Three Sixty - Deluxe LZW PA

Reviews: Three Sixty (Standard Edition), 13 tracks; Three Sixty (Deluxe Edition), 2 CDs, 19 tracks; Release date: November 19, 2013; Label: Universal Music Enterprises (Ume).

Preview: A Perfect Circle Live: Featuring Stone And Echo, Concert DVD and audio + three live CDs; Release date: November 26, 2013; Label: Universal Music Enterprises (Ume).

A Perfect Circle presents us with a quandary. By releasing two editions of the “best of” collection as well as a full multimedia pack within the space of one week, they make it difficult to decide which of the three to choose. The answer to that question may depend on how much Perfect Circle you already have.

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Three Tools

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I’ve been concentrating on the political strand of my blog lately, to the detriment of my rock’n’roll persusions. I don’t apologise for that: media stories have been cropping up that have rightly grabbed my attention: I’ve been saddened and angered by by knee-jerk, bigoted responses to timely and perceptive social commentary by Suzanne Moore; and conversely felt psychically-restored by displays of public anger over the Jyoti Singh Pandey rape incident in Delhi: in a world where violence is normalized it’s good to be reminded that people (as Faith No More once sung) care a lot.

So today let there be rock… with a little bit of politics.

Tool were part of the ’90s alternative rock movement in the US – which included the likes of Nirvana, Hole, L7 and Rage Against The Machine – in Amerika. They attempted to kick back against the then-prevalent tide of cock-rock by embracing Feminism, and rejecting racism, homophobia and corporate politics along with the recognizable ‘rock star’ look.

Artistically, they embraced a range of diverse influences including Metal; Prog Rock (notably King Crimson); Punk; anti-capitalism; expressionist theatre and mysticism to create a brand which remains unique in the annals of US hard rock. Singer and lyricist, Maynard James Keenan is, in my mind, one of the all-time great rock vocalists; able to communicate pathos and anger; tenderness and disgust and often in the same song.

Despite Keenan having contributed to some worthy musical endeavors under the Puscifer and A Perfect Circle appelations, I’m personally itching for some new Tool (fnarr, fnarr) and persistent rumors suggest new material is on the way, albeit slowly…

The Pot and Hooker With a Penis are songs about hypocrisy; Wings for Marie/10,000 Days is both tribute and lament, inspired by Keenan‘s mother who died in 2003 after a prolonged illness. It’s one of my all time favourite songs by anyone: Keenan‘s puts in his best ever vocal performances and I choke up every time I hear it.

So enjoy…

Aside

By way of tribute to Jacintha Saldanha and as a poke in the eye to those prone to self-aggrandizement at the expense of others less fortunate in the event of her death, I post this video clip by the excellent Tool, who perfectly encapsulate the ‘Lions and Christians’ trope (no pun…) which predominates in so much of today’s exploitative ‘reality’ TV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUXBCdt5IPg

Vicarious