Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the week - Week of 09/27/2011 PART TWO!

   Part two of "Best Guitar Cds of the Week"!? Awesome to see so much good guitar music,especially after some of the sad weeks we've seen this year. These are going to be short and sweet because I'm still sleepy from staying out late last night to see Joey DeFrancesco and his new trio. If he comes anywhere near you,DO NOT MISS IT.

Bill Frisell - All We Are Saying
   Quite simply,the best Frisell of the year,in a year with several great Frisell performances,with his best group yet,playing some of the best songs in the world. Go buy this.

John Scofield - A Moment's Peace
   Sco in straight jazz mode. Gathering up an impressive band of guys,they go for romance and ballads. This is some of the most nuanced and subtle work Scofield has ever played. Buy this one too.

Plenty more Cd reviews...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - 09/27/2011 PART ONE!

   What a crazy week for guitar lovers! With three of my all time favorites releasing albums and several others that would have easily taken the top spot on many other weeks this year,how am I to choose who goes first? Well,I've already written teaser articles on Bill Frisell and John Scofield,so I guess it has to go to:

Wilco - The Whole Love
   This is a difficult review to write. Why? None of Wilco's records sound alike,but my reviews of them could: "It's great,they blend various forms of their three influences a) Beatles/Byrds meets Motown pop b)acoustic-folksy Americana and c)noise/experimental/avant-garde." Find a few variations of those themes,mention how the album will reveal more and more of it's secrets on repeat listens and there you have it. That's my review of every Wilco album since Summerteeth. They consistently put out albums that reach heavy rotation in my Cd player.Thankfully,Wilco is better at making music than I am of writing reviews. This is another winner and I'll do my best to try and explain why.
  Much could be made of the two opening and closing songs, two oddball bookends with the poppier confections in the middle. The opener is a noisy freak out of the type that Nels Cline fans wrongly assumed he would be adding a couple of albums ago and the closer, a droning,emotional build up that is also a fine showcase of Cline's textural side. (There,I mixed things up a bit by mentioning style c) avant-garde, first.) As a Brian Wilson fanatic,I would be remiss if I didn't mention Sunloathe, the most overt Wilco has been in adding Beach Boys style vocals to their pop mix. ( That would be style b) Beatles/Byrds meets Motown.)  And is that...whistling I hear on It Dawned On Me? Wow. As shiny as the surface may appear,Wilco at their sunniest always has something a bit subversive under the surface,textures and colors bubbling under the surface. (Here is where I mention the secrets reveled on repeat listens.) Throughout every song,Cline is a master of shading,blending in subtle and sometimes not so subtle textures.
   Acoustic guitar and peddle steel wends it's way in and out of many of the songs. While none of the songs would qualify as "country",there is more of that element than we've heard for the past couple of albums. (You didn't think I'd leave out style b)Americana,did you?) When speaking about Wilco,I have been guilty of speaking as if it were the Tweedy and Cline show. This album,more than ever before,shows how short sighted that is. Bassist John Stirrat and drummer Glenn Kotche make a great rhythm section,solid and rock steady while also adding cliche-free textures of their own. This may be the album were Stirrat finally gets some credit for being one of the most creative and tasty bass players in rock music. It would also be unfair,especially on an album I keep mentioning words like "texture" and "color",not to mention two of the guys providing that texture. How about a little love for the always excellent Patrick Sansone on guitars and keyboards and Mikael Jorgensen on keyboards.
  I can think of no other "current" band that consistently puts out such high quality music. With the announcement of R.E.M. breaking up just a few days old standing as a stark reminder that bands can't stay at their peak forever, I can happily report that Wilco is still at the top of their game.

Available in vinyl,regular Cd and the now obligatory "limited deluxe edition",with a bonus Cd containing four extra songs:

Bill Frisell and John Scofield will be in tomorrows unprecedented part two. Plenty more reviews below...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New John Scofield AND new Bill Frisell on Tuesday!

  A new John Scofield album AND a new Bill Frisell album released on the same day!? My guitar loving head might explode as the two guys that take turns being my favorite guitar player release new music this Tuesday,September 27th. Scofield's A Moment's Peace is an all-star affair with pianist/organist Larry Goldings (who not only has stellar jazz credentials but also appears on Walter Becker's 2008 solo album Circus Money),bassist Scott Colley (he's played with Jim Hall and Pat Metheny in addition to having the good taste to have Bill Frisell on his 2010 Empire album) and drummer Brian Blade (Wolfgang Muthspiel,Bob Dylan,Joni Mitchell,Wayne Shorter). This is a standards heavy album,with only five Scofield originals,a low number for the prolific writer. Check out this sneak peak of  one of the new tunes:

You can find out more on the new Bill Frisell album and watch a "making of" video here. You can also read my brief review of Scott Colley's Empire album here. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 09/20/2011

Opeth - Heritage
   My oh my,aren't modern metal fans a fickle lot. Here we have Opeth,a band in a genre that is in part,based on disregarding the rules and finding your own path. The catch? You're only supposed to disregard the rules in a very particular way! This is an album that will cause strong reactions from listeners. If you come to Heritage with expectations of what Opeth is supposed to sound like,you may come away disappointed. Singer/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt and the rest of his Swedish prog/metal lads lean even heavier on the progressive elements than ever before. Heritage is both a continuation of and a departure from 2008's Watershed, more similar perhaps,to the experimental detour they took with Damnation in 2003. The acoustic guitar is more present than ever,there are keyboards straight out of Deep Purple,and I can already hear the "extreme" metal fanboys grumbling about all the clean vocals.
The 1970's influence is also heavier than ever. Aside from the previously mentioned Deep Purple,flavors of King Crimson,Yes and Rush make appearances here but don't dominate or sound like simple rip-offs of those bands. Even the haters should be able to admit,Opeth always sounds like themselves.Watershed guitarist Fredrik Akesson is still in the fold and makes an able foil to Akerfeldt. Jazz has been as influence from the beginning and continues to  poke it's head in here,especially in some of the guitar tones and chord progressions.
  So,will metal fans accept such a diverse,trend-ignoring album? Who knows. Is it heavy metal? Who cares. Listeners who are aware of their music history should ignore the kids who seem to think Opeth invented prog/metal and just enjoy. Listeners who feel the vocalist needs to sound like a Muppet in order to be "real" should feel free to not listen,Opeth weren't talking to you anyway.

Plenty more reviews below...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 09/13/2011

Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events
   Prog-Metal fans rejoice as the first music from the "new" version of Dream Theater officialy hits the streets. Even us guitar crazy John Petrucci fans know that in the drum throne,Mike Portnoy is out and Mike Mangini is in. We make light of drummers around here at Guitar Omniovore (after all,they're drummers) but honestly,the guy steering the ship is a wee bit important. He is especially important if you're playing music that has multiple time and tempo changes. Being one of the best drummers in the business,able to inject some feeling into a genre sometimes accused of being stiff,Portnoy left big shoes to fill. I'm happy to report Mangini seems to fit right in. Musically,this album has a bit of a "back to basics" feel,basics for Dream Theater being not so basic. Perhaps "back to classic Dream Theater" might be a better way to put it.         
Songs are tight and focused,a bit less prog and a tad more metal in their prog/metal equation. Although with several songs over the ten minute mark,these aren't exactly pop songs,it's cool to hear them mix it up a bit after the very long compositions on Black Clouds and Silver Linings. Petrucci,is as usual,in fine form,using what sounds like his usual Ernie Ball/Mesa Boogie rig for a big,heavy sound. There seems to be more of keyboardist Jordan Rudes in the mix this time around but it doesn't detract from the guitar at all. Loosing someone as talented and important to the band as Mike Portnoy couldn't have been easy but it sounds to me like Dream Theater will still be around for plenty more years.

Lots of great music,new and old this week!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Dream Theater this Tuesday!

  At long last,the new Dream Theater album will arrive this Tuesday,September 13th! New John Petrucci material is exiting anytime but this release has some extra buzz for a couple of reasons. First,even us guitar players are aware that this is the first material with new drummer Mike Mangini. Secondly,Dream Theater superfan Thiago Campos has stirred up some controversy stating that perhaps DT has stolen some ideas...from themselves! You can read a nice overview of the whole thing over at

  It will be released on vinyl and in regular Cd editions along with the now obligatory "deluxe" edition.Until Tuesday,here's the first song and a video of John Petrucci and Jordan Rudes talking about the deluxe edition.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 09/06/2011

Lindsey Buckingham - Seeds We Sow
    Lindsey Buckingham fans are in for a treat. All the things you would want from a Buckingham solo album,the slightly oddball arrangements,the lush Beach Boys inspired background vocals,the unique finger style guitar, are not only here but are better than ever. Headphone listeners in particular will have fun as Buckingham,who handled all of the mixing and production duties,has his trademark guitar tone doing all manner of  cool tricks in the stereo field.It is,of course,the guitar in particular that caught my attention. There is an impressive amount of  drool-worthy playing that never takes away from the focus of the song.
   I was also surprised to notice that this is the first time Buckingham,a noted control freak,has released something on his own label. The freedom seems to suit him well. Instead of leading to self indulgence,Buckingham has released his most intimate and focused solo album thus far. No word on a solo tour yet but Buckingham reports he's hoping for a Fleetwood Mac tour in 2011.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fitting a 25-1/2" to 24-3/4" conversion neck.

Here's our patient "before". Don't worry,I already gave him grief about the gold Gibson pickups on a guitar with chrome hardware.
   Scale length is one of those things that make a guitar sound and feel the way it does. The classic example of this is 25-1/2" scale of the Fender Stratocaster versus the 24-3/4" scale of the Gibson Les Paul. The are,of course,many other reasons why they sound and feel different but scale length is a big factor.A longer scale length allows for a crisp and clear tone,conjuring up phrases like "piano-like" and "bell-like". It also makes for a stiffer feel with harder string bending.A shorter scale length tends to be deeper with more bass content,making for comments like "creamy" and "round". Neck-through and set-neck guitars make changing scale length impractical but guitars with a bolt on design allow hot-rodders and budding luthiers to change the neck. Combining a shorter scale neck with a long scale body isn't as simple as it sounds. Simply put,if the beginning (nut) and end (bridge) of the string aren't in the right place,the frets will be in the wrong place! I remember reading that Eddie Van Halen ran into the same problem in his early experiments that led to the now iconic "frankenstrat". I'll add that to the long list of things I learned from Eddie. Luckily for we folks that just can't leave a guitar stock,companies like USA Custom Guitars and Warmoth offer what are called "conversion" necks. These necks allow you to take a body intended for a 25-1/2" neck and "convert" it to a 24-3/4" scale. Let's see how our conversion went: