Geeks & Beats

Being a long-time Alan Cross fan I(Daren) followed him to his newest podcast a few years ago with Michael Hainsworth called Geeks & Beats. It is such a great mix or tech, music, and well… nerd stuff. Both guys are great and I like the relaxed vibe and subjects they cover. I shared this with fellow SC member Scott Coates and he became a big fan listening from his home in South-East Asia too. We can’t recommend these guys and this show enough.
They do this for the love of their crafts so you should probably help them out and donate to the podcast. After all, it is “The World’s Most Popular Podcast™”.
Here is everything you need to know about them and to get listening.
Geeks & Beats website: http://www.geeksandbeats.com/
Geeks & Beats twitter: https://twitter.com/geeksandbeats/
Geeks & Beats facebook: https://www.facebook.com/geeksandbeatspodcast
Alan Cross is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.
Website: http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alancross
Michael Hainsworth is seen by 3.2 million Canadians each night as the country’s most-watched financial news and technology reporter on CTV Television and Business News Network. When he’s not busy making telemagic for Canada’s largest private broadcaster, you can find him on Twitter and Facebook or taking down a rogue nation with nothing more than his wits, a pack of Beemans chewing gum, and his iPhone.
Website: http://www.hainsworth.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hainsworthtv

Review of Jane's Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual

Please read our selection of Jane’s Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual before reading our reviews below..
Summary: 
I (Darren) can definitely say that this album had an impact when it came out and even now 25 years later. We all had four different opinions of this album. In general we all saw some great positives but then there were varying opinions about the rest of their album. However, they were all strong opinions. Like they say, any publicity is good publicity. This applies to Jane’s Addiction and RDLH as many love it but others think they are just way too high for their own good and the music meandering. I’ll let the reader review our individual reviews but here is our overview.
What was cool about Jane’s Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual:

  • The big hits Been Caught Stealing and Stop! are classics for a reason and liked by all of us.
  • Perry Farrell’s voice defined a new vocal style and was very unique in that time and still now
  • A few of us really enjoyed the crazy ride that the entirety of the album brought and appreciated the highs, lows and nuances of the music.
  • The album brought back fond memories to all of us older guys (cough cough – not Alain)

What we didn’t find so cool :

  • The music can be considered overly and unnecessarily complex, unconventional and weird.
  • That this album was potentially the by-product of heroin use.
  • That appreciating this album can take some time to grow on you. (Maybe that’s a positive point.)

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would w recommend?: 3
Influenced our tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Sound quality: 4.5
Read our full individual reviews below. We hope that you all enjoy such a great band.
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.
 

Our Full Reviews

Greg-JorgensenGreg’s Review

Just as I expected, dusting off Ritual de lo Habitual after at least ten years had a powerfully nostalgic effect on me. As soon as Cindy Lair’s Spanish narration popped on, I was sitting in Tim’s basement, wearing Levi’s red tab jeans and a silk button-front shirt (tucked in, naturally), trying to understand it again. It might be a bit difficult to write objectively about this album, because it’s tied so closely to such a powerfully formative era of my life. But I shall try.

I’m happy to report that the ignorant kid confused by the appeal of Jane’s Addiction has been replaced with a (slightly) less ignorant adult who can see what they were getting at. Where before I heard Perry Farrell’s screeching voice, now I hear a powerful, raspy wail that’s playing a perfect counterweight to the expert musicianship from Navaro, Perkins and Avery. Where before I heard a band that was meandering and unfocussed, I now hear a band that’s slowly stroking the listener off with each song until BAM! it explodes in a burst of energy and focus. 

Stop is a suitable opening for an album that came out in the 90’s, surely one of the most bizarre and singular decades in terms of fashion, music, and technology. Fads weren’t just local adoptions of new trends, they were fast-moving energy waves that transformed entire swaths of the population, from skinny jean-wearing hair band fans at the beginning, to flannel-wearing grunge fans in the middle, to baggy jean-wearing hip hop wannabes by the end. 

I really enjoyed the rest of the album, save for No One’s Leaving, which was just okay. Ain’t No Right is a good example of a song that starts soft and then pops like a coiled spring. Obvious is a nice departure, I guess you could call it Janes’ version of a slow song. Been Caught Stealing was their standout hit from this album, and it’s pretty good – an easy, rocking rhythm that would have been perfect for any 90’s radio station wanting to be a bit ‘edgy’ with songs from an unconventional band. Three Days is an exceptionally cool song for my delicate ears – starting slowly and then progressing with an almost unnoticeable pickup in…well…noise. By the end of the song you’re rocking hard and can’t really remember how you got there. Subtle and powerful.

Classic Girl is an interesting one for me – I really love the lyrics, but I feel that songs like these and Jane’s Addiction should just agree to disagree. Maybe it was because back in the day I wanted to tell one particular crush how I felt about her; this song was the perfect message in the wrong wrapping, and playing this for my ‘classic girl’ as a romantic gesture would have not gotten me the result I wanted. Not that I got it anyway.

When I first posted the album to SC, I sent Tim a message and showed him my writeup. He loved it, and wrote back: “How could that be possible? They were the greatest band I’ve ever experienced. Their first album Nothing’s Shocking changed my life and being the impressionable teenager that I was, they really shaped my imagination and attitude.” Thankfully, I have a few decades of experience that I didn’t have then, and can appreciate RDLH on a much different level. After only 25 years, I can see where he was coming from. 

My personal opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 4.5
Worth the hype? 4
Sound quality: 4.5

 
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Scott’s Review
I thought I knew Jane’s Addiction better than it turns out I do. I was sure I’d listened to Ritual de lo Habitual in full many times before, but that was an assumption, and outside of its two well-known singles, Stop! and Been Caught Stealing, I discovered I hadn’t consumed the entire album before. A great opportunity was presented with Greg’s pick!
I was surprised by the album after getting past opening track Stop!, as it turned and twisted into a bit of an odd, sometimes complex, often meandering volume that’s relegated me not entirely sure what to think. I remembered the time period of its release and Greg’s recollection of hearing it from a cool guy named Tim when he was younger, which mirrors my experience. Lindsey was that guy at my school and he loved it too. I’d heard it in his car in bits and pieces but was unable to digest it properly in my high school years.
Years later I’m still not sure it completely resonates, but does serve as a great time capsule of the time period and foreshadows what many bands emulated after. It’s full of angst, sexual ambiguity, sometimes-bizarre lyrics and rhythms, and has required many listenings before writing this. Overly and unnecessarily complex is where I stand with Ritual de lo Habitual.
Some tracks immediately stand out for their catchy licks, while others leave me slightly puzzled, as though the band was overstepping their capabilities in an attempt to make their mark on the musical world. When they stick to rocking, as they do so well on Stop! and Been Caught Stealing, it’s bliss. Other tracks go here and there, leaving me unsure whether to tap my foot or throw on a flannel shirt and be angry with the world.
Jane’s Addiction are now legends and many of their later works resonate more with me, and I completely respective Ritual de lo Habitual for laying the tracks for later bands, but overall it’s a bit too messy at times, which will likely leave me revisiting the two singles on playlists rather than the entire album.
My personal opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 3.5
Worth the hype? 3.5
Sound quality: 4.5
 
Darren Scott
Darren’s Review
I was quite excited when Greg picked Jane’s Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual as I was very familiar with that album. Ok, so it isn’t exactly pushing me out of my comfort zone and I have owned this album since it came out but I will admit it had been quite some time since I had listened to the entire album.
My first memories of this album were from when I was bartending in a live music rock nightclub and one of our DJs started playing Been Caught Stealing. That song was – and still is – awesome. I soon after picked up the CD and partied many-a-time to this album.
To me, more than anything, I was drawn to the sound of Perry Farrell’s unique vocal sound. As this was the era of grunge many of the vocals sounded more raspy like Kurt Cobain or more deep and brooding like Eddie Vedder. Jane’s Addiction seemed to break away from the surrounding Seattle grunge sound (which I love nonetheless) and create a new LA sound to dethrone the Hair Metal bands with peers like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
As a complete album it does still stand the test of time for me, as I am old enough to remember the context it started in as well as appreciate it today. I like the ride the album took me on. Today we so often forget that music is part of albums, and those albums were planned by the artist(s) to be listened to in the order they meant you to hear it. I think Jane’s Addiction did an amazing job on this album and this will always be in my playlist. I can’t recommend this album enough. Definitely in my top 20 of all time.
My personal opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4.0
Worth the hype? 4.5
Sound quality: 4.5
 
alain-dupuisAlain’s Review

I never paid Jane’s Addiction any mind beyond the radio-friendly singles that charted, so when Greg suggested this album, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I only knew it was very likely gonna be weird, man.
Wouldn’t you know it, I was right. These guys were probably on an alarming amount of heroin while making the album. (In the band’s biography, Dave Navarro actually mentions that he barely recalled the recording process due to his addiction.) But, hey – I maintain that the Beatles wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome if they hadn’t discovered drugs, so I’m not going to hold anything against Jane’s Addiction. Though, I must really stress: This is a weird album!
Stylistically, 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual sounds like it’s stuck somewhere between prog-rock, and some kind of proto-grunge. A few of the tracks sprawl seven or eight minutes in length and feature unconventional instruments, and unconventional time signatures. The song Of Course is a good example of this, and proves a stark contrast to the radio-friendly, short, catchy singles Stop! and Been Caught Stealing. The guitars are awesome, as one would expect from Navarro. Perry Farrel’s vocals are a bit shrill, which took me some time to warm up to. The song I kept returning to was No One’s leaving. It had just the right balance of catchy and strange for me. Definitely my favourite track on the album.
So, did I like Ritual? I think so, but frankly I don’t know for sure yet. I’ve listened to it about a dozen times, and it’s still kind of growing on me. I think this might be one of those albums that requires repeat visits in order to fully appreciate it. I’ll say this though: I’m going to explore the other albums in their discography, because if nothing else, my curiosity has been piqued.
My personal opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes? –
Worth the hype?3.5
Sound quality: 4

The Beta Band: The Three E.P.'s

So I might sound like a sucker for what Hollywood dictates I should like, but dang it if I didn’t see a clip from the movie High Fidelity the other day that totally got me.
Check it out here:

I hadn’t seen this movie in years but one of my favorite music bloggers, Alan Cross, posted that clip and I was indeed grooving to The Beta Band, and like John Cusack’s character Rob Gordon predicted I did want to buy the Three E.P.’s album.
I didn’t know anything about this band so at this point I feel that Wikipedia description is good.

beta_Band_smallThe Three EPs is a compilation of The Beta Band‘s first three releases, consisting of the EPs Champion Versions,The Patty Patty Sound and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos. The cover art includes the main image from each of the EPs.
“Dry the Rain” was prominently featured in a scene from the 2000 film High Fidelity.
In 2000 Q magazine placed The Three EPs at number 74 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[4]Pitchfork placed the album at number 23 in its Top 100 Albums of the 1990s.[5]

I know I am somewhat breaking our rule of no compilations but I figure this is ok as it is just making a full album out of three short EPs.
I look forward to getting to know this band and this album. Besides, how bad could a Scottish alt-pop-rock-atmospheric-krautrock-hip hop be?
Wikipedia entry for The Three E.P.’s
Wikipedia entry for The Beta Band
Purchase it on iTunes
Darren Scott
Read our review posted on April 1st here.