I've been eagerly waiting a new Extreme album since the 1995 release of Waiting for the Punchline. When Extreme broke up a few years later, I thought I'd never see another Extreme album. On Tuesday, August 12, 2008 that all changed when Extreme released Saudades de Rock.
Before I get into my review, I should give a little background on my music tastes. Some of my earliest memories are of riding in my parent's car listening to the Beatles—so they probably are the single largest influence in my music tastes. There's nothing I like more in my music than a strong melody and vocal harmonies (which explains why I've loved bands such as King's X and Galactic Cowboys—two bands that have always done a great job with vocal harmonies.
For those of you just know Extreme from their few commercial hits, that's not a really great representation of the band. They've always been extremely diverse in their music. Each album they put out from their self-title debut through Waiting for the Punchline should their growth as song writers and musicians.
So after my first listen of the new album, here are my thoughts track-by-track:
I actually heard this song via an early preview Extreme released on their MySpace page. The chorus is layered with thick vocal harmonies that definitely remind me of King's X. Oddly enough, my least favorite part of the song is the chorus—but I think it's because it sounds so familiar to me (but I can't place what song it sounds like.) The guitar work is blazing though.
This sounds like a lost track from Waiting for the Punchline. They also released this on their MySpace page and I've loved this song from the first listen. It just oozes Extreme to me.
Learn To Love
The third track really goes in a different direction. I have a feeling Nuno and Gary have been listening to a lot of classic rock lately. The open lick reminds me of April Wine's I Like To Rock and the chorus really sounds like Paul Rogers with Bad Company. The song doesn't sound dated, but the chorus definitely will take you back to old Bad Company. It's a very cool track. Not at all what I was expecting—I think in a good way. :)
Take Us Alive
I know this will sound weird, but think Led Zeppelin's Bron-Yr-Aur-Stomp/Hot Dog. Like I said, I think they've been listening to a ton of Classic Rock. Even the first two lines of their chorus keep bringing to mind Pat Benatar's You Better Run. Even though this so is such an eclectic mix of genre's, I have a feeling this song will keep growing on me. It's definitely got a foot stomping groove.
The opening lick makes me think immediately of Primus—the open lick just sounds like Les Claypool. As the verse kicks in, it takes over this David Bowie Fame vibe. It's a weird mix, but I like it.
There's something about the way this starts that makes me think of a Quintin Tarantino movie—it's just got this sort of Pulp Fictiony vibe. I think this is probably a song Gary wrote, because it has a vibe very similar to the work he did on the Exit Elvis album.
Just as I think the last song was probably a Gary creation, this sounds like a Nuno song—it just reminds me of his early solo stuff. As much as I tried to like the Nuno solo stuff (Mourning Windows, Population One, etc.) I just could never get into it. This is definitely the first track that I've been tempted to skip ahead just to check out the other tunes. I do really dig the solo though.
King Of The Ladies
If I didn't know better, I would have thought this song was a Beck tune. Also, with listening to lots of Classic Rock, I think the bands must be fans of Flight of the Conchords. The way they sing the phrase "King of the Ladies" sounds like something FotC would do.
This has a real Maroon 5/Panic at the Disco vibe. I could see this song being a single that gets some radio play.
Another real throw back song that reminds me a bit of something from Zeppelin's House of the Holy/Physical Graffiti era, but with more funk. The middle section once again seems to have a little Flight of the Concords thing going on (really funky pop-ish falsetto thing that the guys in FotC do.)
Interface is actually a remake of a song of the Dramagods (another Nuno project band) "Love" CD. I liked the original, but this remake is better. You could probably call this the "More Than Words" of the CD.
This song is more in tune with the first couple of tracks and that it really sounds like an Extreme tune. It definitely sounds like a natural progression from Waiting for the Punchline and III Sides to Every Story.
On every Extreme album, there's at least one really "deep" song. The open piano reminds me a bit of "Lean on Me", but overall the song has a Rolling Stone's Wild Horses vibe. It opens with just piano and Gary's vocals and then it kicks in with a little drums and gradually builds.
So, you're probably now asking what I think of the album overall. Well there are some really killer tracks that grabbed me on the first listen through. Since I've really only listened to it once, I really need more time to figure out what I really feel. However, I get the feeling the more I listen to the album the more I like. Afterall, this is an album I've been waiting on for 13 years—so my expectations and hopes were really high.
I'd highly recommend checking out the Extreme MySpace page to listen to the first couple of tracks from the album.