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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trey Anastasio: Shine (Ronan)

Trey Anastasio – Shine

I first came across Trey Anastasio from his involvement in the Dave Matthews & Friends Winter Tour of 2003/04, and from his playing on Matthews’ first solo album, Some Devil. Like Matthews, Trey Anastasio is used to playing in a band – a band who have no problem jamming onstage for extended periods of time. Unlike Matthews, Anastasio’s band is no longer making music. Shine is Anastasio’s first mainstream solo album. Seis De Mayo, and some of his other albums aren’t treated as proper solo albums, because they mainly feature his work as a composer and with his Trio and Sextet, rather than as a solo guitarist and vocalist. This album should immediately appeal to Phish fans (or should that be ‘phans’?), but the first thing you’ll notice is a lack of jamming on the album. There is some, but not enough to please those hardcore jam-band fans. The album is more polished, it’s more produced than his work with Phish, maybe even too much.

Through his work with Dave Matthews I have developed a liking for Anastasio. For one thing, he has a pretty cool beard, and since my beard-growing skills aren’t the best, this bodes well for me. Another thing is that he is a great guitarist (Voted #73 in Rolling Stones’ Top 100 Guitarists of All Time in 2003), and also a pretty good singer – in fact he’s a better singer than Matthews is. (But in my opinion, not as talented as a musician, but what do I know, I’m only a music critic.)
Shine opens with the title-track – what better way in fact? ‘Shine’ reminds me very much so of Phish’s Farmhouse album. Yeah, just because I didn’t get into Phish when they were together doesn’t mean that I don’t know their music. Well, I do, a bit. Okay, okay, I only have three of their albums, but it’s enough to get me by, right? ‘Shine’ is a good song, and it’s an awful pity the same can’t be said for the utterly annoying ‘Tuesday’ – I just can’t stand the way he sings ‘Tuesday’: it sounds like he’s trying to say both ‘today’ and ‘Tuesday’ at the same time. The song is also over-produced – it doesn’t have that same spontaneous element that made Phish great. It does have a guitar solo, but not a very interesting one. ‘Invisible’ sounds too much like ‘Tuesday’ to have a good impact on me. Although the guitar does show glimpses of being good, but only glimpses.

Track 4 ‘Come as Melody’ on the other hand, is an excellent song. The erses build up into a rousing chorus, with some great trashy guitar. You know there’s some times when you want trashy guitar – when you’re listening to Anastasio you’re expecting it, and when it does come, it’s excellent. ‘Come as Melody’ is a really powerful song – one which I hope becomes part of the next Dave Matthews & Friends tour, the way ‘Bathtub Gin’ did in the last tour. Unfortunately, there aren’t any songs as good as ‘Bathtub Gin’ on this album.

‘Air Said To Me’ continues this trashiness – and in places the vocal sounds like the loudspeaker parts of Neil Young’s Greendale. Although that’s not a bad thing, because as you may know Greendale is loved here at TwoWayMonologues. There’s also a wonderful solo at the end of the song, to lead out of it and into… ‘Wherever You Find It’ which starts off with a simple piano intro. Maybe Anastasio got the idea from ‘Out of My Hands’ from the so-so Dave Matthews Band album Stand Up. The thing is, this works well on both albums – so it must be a good technique to use. Remember this for the future guys. Strangely enough, the first guitar solo herer reminds me of Europe’s ‘A Final Countdown’ – weird. That’s right, I said “first solo” – this song is a six-minuter – and if you know me, I do have a love for long songs.

‘Sweet Dreams Melinda’ is pure radio-fodder, but Anastasio makes it work quite well. I think the song would have been better if Matthews had appeared as a guest vocalist on this song. Their voices complement each other perfectly, and it would have added an extra dimension to the chorus. As well as made it more accessible for certain radio stations. ‘Love Is Freedom’ starts off slow before going into what sounds like a phone ringing. This can get quite confusing, as I’m always looking for my phone when this part comes on. The chorus has a great sing-along quality to it, and is sure to please Anastasio fans everywhere (i.e. in colleges throughout the world half-baked or fully-baked as the case may be).

‘Sleep Again’ can get quite repetitive if you were to listen to the album a lot – if you had it “on and on / on and on / you will live again / you will live again”. Come on Trey, even you can afford to buy a rhyming dictionary. Come on, seriously, the same line five times in a row is not clever, you can do better! And I know I said that I liked long songs, but only when they’re not repetitive, this one is torture at almost five minutes. ‘Spin’ does go some way to appeasing me, but unfortunately isn’t enough. I do quite like the fast pace of the chorus and bridge, but the verses don’t do much for me. At this point you just hope the album didn’t peak in the middle, and it’s only gonna get worse from here.

‘Black’ unfortunately is not a Metallica cover. Instead it’s a slow-piano-led-ballad-as-you-may-notice-I-like-putting-hyphens-in-the-middle-of-words-where-they-are-not-needed. In fact, it couldn’t be more unlike the Metallica song of the same name. It’s actually very boring, even when it gets going it’s still dull. The final song is not the Redemption Song we were looking for, and once again proves to be a bit of a bore. Oh well, I think I’ll turn off this CD now, and from now on, only listen to the middle of it. That’s an awful pity – I expected a lot more from the sevety-third best guitarist of all time.

Tracks to Download: Love Is Freedom, Come As Melody, Air Said To Me, Sweet Dreams Melinda

6.0 – Although there are a few good songs here, the album will leave Phish fans wanting them to reunite, and leave me wanting to hear Trey Anastasio go back on tour with Dave Matthews. Whatever, it won’t leave you wanting more solo Trey.


At November 23, 2005 at 11:09 PM, Blogger Daysthatareover said...

Love the not-so-subtle knock on the track fu winning song from this album;)

I like this a bit more than you do but don't love it.

At November 24, 2005 at 1:49 AM, Anonymous Laura said...

Not havin gheard Phish i could listen to some of this and not feel bad about the potential poor comparison.

But so much other stuff sounds like this and is better that I wouldn't waste the time.

At November 24, 2005 at 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More importantly will Phish ever comeback at least to tour again?

I hope so.

At November 24, 2005 at 11:33 AM, Anonymous terri said...

Well, I am a sucker for a catchy song, especially of the sensitive-boy-rock variety. I will admit that.

I am familiar with Phish as a cultural phenomenon, thanks to a mysterious Rolling Stone subscription my aunt received in the mid-90s and passed off to me every week (I say mysterious because my aunt in no way needs a subscription to a music magazine, and because they never asked her to pay for it).

I am not, however, familiar with Phish's music. I do know that I'm not keen on jam bands, Dave Matthews included, even if I can appreciate what a jam band does, so they probably aren't my thing.

At November 24, 2005 at 11:39 AM, Anonymous Ronan said...

DMB aren't a jam badn per-se, but let's not get into that.

Glad you liked it Dan.

Of all the Dave Matthews collaborators' albums this year, I liked Mike Doughty's the best.

At November 24, 2006 at 2:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, what is a "jam band" REALLY? Doesnt everyone love to jam, just other jam in different ways. I'm kinda sick of the"jam band" phrase.

Secondly, you can't judge a guitarist by what he is on some list. IMO Trey should be further up on the list. Trey has a sound like no other, not to mention complex, fluid jams (like in live Phish)unlike any other. I love Dave Matthews, I grew up listening to him...but you really can't compare him with Anastasio.

I would def. die a happy man if Phish gets back together. I was just getting into them when they were calling it quits.


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