|Ginger Wildheart - '555% The Triple Album Project' (Pledge Music)|
|Written by Rich Hobson|
|Friday, 20 April 2012 05:00|
"I love music being independent. Always have" thus goes the opening line of Ginger's Pledge Campaign manifesto, and indeed independent is the route that Ginger Wildheart has undertaken with this latest mammoth project, a triple album funded entirely by fans - old and new - without the faffing and compromising that is entailed with dealing with a record label. Ginger instead offering fans the chance to become de facto producers of the project in exchange for direct copies of the album when it is released (due physically sometime around May, I believe).
The project itself has been a huge success; funded to 100% of its target total within just 6 hours (with a 60 day window to reach it originally), with an eventual end total of 555%. Ginger himself capped things at 555%, due to the number 5 being his lucky number. Ginger admits that the success of the album has breathed new life into his creativity and drive as a musician, as 2011 saw him at a low, ready to quit the industry and 'get a proper job'?
Onto the music itself then: The first thing to note, is that this ISN'T The Wildhearts, and though inevitable comparisons with works by Ginger's formative group are about as redundant as a Northern Rock banker - the triple album has much more in common with the man's impressive solo albums, such as 'Yoni' and 'Valor Del Corazon', sharing similar ears for melody and catchiness whilst also being wholly original and fresh.
The whole thing kicks off with 'Forget About It' an instant nostalgia trip, sticking its hooks into the listener and drawing them in, the catchy choruses and fresh energy showcased on the track serve as a great launching pad for the first third of the triple album, combining many of the great trademarks of a Ginger song (catchiness, energy and positive vibe) with strong vocals and harmonies to quickly warm the listener up for the experience. (I do think the vocals on the whole of this triple album are much clearer than in previous efforts).
Track 2 and 'I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L R-adio' kicks off with a line that could easily stand as a mission statement by the ever working rocker, "There's a warehouse of riffs and melodies they're just waiting for a reason to live" and with a jangly melody and again strong vocal harmonies (utilising the vocal talents of long-time Ginger collaborators 'Random' Jon Poole and Victoria Liedtke as well as manager Gav McCaughey amongst others) this song is another that quickly ingrains itself on the consciousness of the listener. With its upbeat almost Ramones-do-pop sensibilities it's difficult not to quickly fall for the song, with its toe tapping, head nodding melodies promising a fast track into the hearts and minds of listeners.
'Lie When You Tell Me The Truth' quickly picks the pace back up from an apocalyptic end to 'I-N-T-E-R-N-A-L R-adio', promising yet another pleasing Pop Rock tune with jutting hooks, carrying on a pleasing upbeat tone set by the first couple of songs, with hints of Cheap Trick style pop sensibility creeping into the song, and more than a dabbling of melodic 'A' towards the song's close.
'Incidental Noises' hits off heavier than the previous tracks, before dropping to a bouncy verse that has much more emphasis on Victoria's vocal, and though not as springy as the previous track this is another that will ingrain itself within you, a continued theme as each song vying for your attention with every ounce of energy that it can muster.
'It Appears That The Parties Over' is something of a misnomer; once again a jangly and energetic tune it seems hand catered to be played loudly at parties, especially with the refrain "wasted, wasted all I wanna do is get wasted" it feels anthemic, and is lead heavily by the bounding bouncy bass skills of Random Jon, the party is still going strong for the first disc.
'Deep in The Arms Of Morpheus' is a big treat to Pledgers, and a payoff for the Wildhearts fans who had previously only heard this track live (having never been recorded, aside from on the 'Angel Biscuits' bootleg). Apparently the first ever Wildhearts song written, this track if put into a Wildhearts album seems to fall into the 'White Album-era', clocking in around the epic 6 minute mark it opens with a larger than life melody that sucks the listener up, a la 'Inner City Overture' before stepping up at the 2 minute 20 second marker to offer up trademark Wildhearts melodic heaviness a la 'Hard Way' or 'Slaughtered Authors'. Ginger has promised that this song will remain firmly on the triple album only, not making it to the commercially released album '100%' (which I'll get to later) as it is firmly a treat to the dedicated that made the triple album available in the first place, and it's easy to see why fans are overjoyed to finally get a high quality copy and why many are citing it as a favourite on the first disc.
'Baby Skies' falls back to bouncy rock sensibility, offering up a tune that has more than an air of melodic Manchester rockers 'A' once again in the mix, and yet another huge chorus that's impossible not to get swept away by ("I'm having a hard time waking, because you are in my dreams") with levels of melody and catchiness this high it's not surprising that disc one of '555%' is being hailed as one of the best, and most accessible Ginger albums to date (and yes, that includes The Wildhearts back catalogue).
'Silence' has an opening which, as one fan put it on Formspring "feels like a James Bond theme", 'Silence' certainly feels less nostalgic and more happy go lucky than previous tracks on the album (which includes 'Deep In The Arms', which incidentally is apparently about heroin addiction, of all things) with the bounciness being confined to the chorus. 'Silence' feels as though it fits musically into the 'White Album-era' Wildhearts, with large riffs and a chorus that are begging for festival outings.
'Powderkeg' meanwhile is a toe-tapping tune, which has all of the melody of the previous tracks with the main hook this time being the instant-familiarity of the riff, which is a quick grabber of the under carriage.
The final track of the first disc is 'Time', with a massive sound and riff that should be recognisable to anybody who has ever seen 'News At Ten', or visited London, being cheekily nabbed from Big Ben, the final track of the first third offers an attention grabbing mix of Beatles, jazzy melodies and pop rock sensibility to round the first third off in true Ginger fashion, with its big melodies and sing along promises with a big payoff of heaviness at the 5 minute marker to really push the final track and round off the first part of this Triple Album Experience.
If disc 1 was an instant nostalgia trip then disc 2 is where the party really kicks off, opening with the tremendously funky and dancey 'Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow'. Disc 1 may have appealed to the radio vocalists amongst us out there, but it's disc 2 that will have kids in the mirror singing and dancing. It was only a matter of time until the goofy and yet warm humour of Ginger and Random made itself apparent on the album, and with the funky opening of 'Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow' as well as a quick vocal flourish by Random Jon at 40 seconds the humour begins to seep in. Featuring little references to previous songs ("The white zone is for loading and unloading only"... was also used in The Wildhearts B-Side 'You've Got To Get Through What You Got To Get Through To Get What You Want') the song jumps from funky verses to country rock choruses concerning the bane of all Apple Mac users, this opening track is yet another perfect tone setter for what is to yet to come. Right up to the heavy flourish at the tail end of the 3 minute marker.
Following on from 'Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow' is 'Westward Ho! (A New Reputation)', which opens with an odd melody before jumping into the larger than life chorus before dropping to a group vocal which I can only describe as "Ginger goes tribal". This song builds on what at first seems like completely random moments, but after a few listens the song unveils itself fully as a clever and twisted piece, which sounds fresh and new with each repeated listen. Probably the most bizarre moment of the song is the outright tribal chanting at the mid 2 minute marker, which then bursts into a Ramones-y burst of good times rockiness that dares you to not at the very least bob your head along like a maniac.
'Do The Lonely Suffer More Or Less At The Point of Death?' once again marks a change in tempo and style with a track that has some of the liveliness of the first disc mixed with Zippos to the sky melody, and strange dance like background effects used to create a stark and interesting track.
'The Other Side' is more singalong pleasure, dealing with the subject matter of the afterlife and the age old questions, it also contains a lyrical highlight of this disc in "we are as likely to go to hell for our mistakes, as a dog is going to, for making the noise he makes" (sang by the lovely Victoria Liedtke). As I've already said a strong singalong sensibility makes this track a highlight of the disc for me, and if the proposed '555%' live show does go ahead this track should surely be earmarked as one for fans to learn for full mass vocal effect.
Up next 'Strange New Year' carries on the singalong theme set by the previous track, offering up some of the best melodic nuances that Ginger can offer for another perfect radio friendly single that could easily play soundtrack to your every day life.
'Lover, It'll All Work Out' opens with a taste of the orient, and has been earmarked amongst some of us here at Uber Rock as another highlight of the second disc. This track promises the typical Ginger positivity within its lyrics, with a pick up and run chorus that's easy to grab onto. The influence of Willie Dowling is more than apparent in this track, not least in the sampling of ringing phones, whispered acting bits and such like, which give the track a strong sense of distinctive energy and presence.
'Illuminating Times' had its first sample outing in one of the Pledge videos, focusing (quite rightly) on the bigger than a beast chorus which delivers on the "grab your friends and sing" quality that Ginger does oh so very well.
'Begin From Within' has a distant verse/loud chorus structure that is reminiscent of Industrial music, and indeed the chorus gives it a feeling of the pop rock Rammstein with your need to "dance" and "sing" being highly emphasised.
'Return Of The Northern Cardinal' opens with a "dust in the wind" style acoustic arrangement that possesses a similar feel to that which is utilised to begin the wind down for the end of the disc. The track itself is a soft arrangement with a few little flourishes of absurdity, such as the sounds sampled around the 4 minute marker. This is also when the track kicks in for one last hurrah before closing track "Taste Aversion".
'Taste Aversion' closes the mixed bag of nutty tunes that makes up disc 2, and this track sees Ginger in a piano/vocal arrangement setting that feels more than just a little Beatles-y, before picking up the tempo up to a bouncy melody that could be the theme tune to a cheesy TV show (in the best possible way of course). 'Taste Aversion' is as stark as the opening tracks and closes off the second "session" with another extended instrumental of madness, goofiness and first class musicianship - something which is starting to become a trademark of the Ginger album with both Chutzpah! And Disc 1 of '555%' possessing similar closing bits. This track is a hectic mix, offering sudden bursts of total heaviness and jazzy musical interludes towards the end.
So there we have it Disc 2 is a twisted behemoth of differing styles, an interesting mix of different bags that come together to make a cohesive piece. Now onward to the final chapter of disc 3...
Opening with a track familiar to Pledgers, having been available as the first full track streamed of the '555%' album on Valentine's Day this year, 'You're The One, You're The One, Yeah I Know You're The One, You're The One (Yeah I Know You're The One)' stands as undoubtedly the most annoying track to type out, but is the perfect kick in to disc 3, offering up the join-in choruses of discs 1 and 2, with the rocky side of the song being more prevalent than in previous singalongs.
'Beautifully, Blissfully Unsettled' keeps the rock heavy singalong theme going, with more tales of positivity through adversity and misery. This song paints a miserable character picture of in the verses with a more positive chorus over a rock heavy beat, which kicks harder than a mule.
'Confusion' is another stand out unique and twisted track marrying dance bass and beats with rock fan choruses like a more radio friendly early Therapy? This track is Designed to bury itself in your mind and get you up and moving.
'Sleeping In The Light' is a softer side of life showing a strange tenderness and uses orchestral arrangements to really round the track off, giving proceedings a bright and vivid presence when sat amongst the other tracks within the triple album project.
'In Vino Veritas' opens with a blues guitar lick which grabs the listener before giving way to a building guitar riff that feels oddly like The Beatles meets Metallica before jumping headline into a soaring riff that could easily fit in with 'Spirit Of Radio' style Rush, albeit with less technically masturbatory bass-lines. This instrumental track is nothing less than a strong showing of musicianship, and so rightly so, with the varied musical talents being brought together for this album, every one of them being highly accomplished in their own fields (And if you hadn't realised that by this point, you have probably stumbled on a crack in track and ended up in some parallel universe listening to the Green Day "triple album" instead).
'Very, Very Slow' then is the perfect antidote to those who may have been put off by 'In Vino Veritas', being another misnomer; this track is actually a quick blast of neo metal/punk just like we once had in early Wildhearts songs like 'Drinking About Life', the track is a quick blast to catch the attention again and it listening to it just makes you roar out like a maniac.
'Just Another Song About Someone' changes the pace once again as we return to mid-level karaoke fun, like 'Can't Do Right (For Doing Wrong)' but without the heavy pay-offs, this track feels like it fits in as the soundtrack to a perfect summer's, offering itself up as a relaxed contrast to the grab your head and beat it energy of the preceding tune.
'There Is Something Wrong With My Mind' opens like Ginger does The Police, marrying the strange sense of melody of Sting and Co with Ginger's sense of quick jumps in pace and style to really mess with the listener, jumping from slightly off-kilter verses to loud choruses that really catch you out on first listen.
'We've Been Expecting You' feels like a nice wind-down again leading as it does to the finale of the 555% triple album, another acoustic-y song which feels relaxed and once again promotes singalongs inside my head, the song sets the stage nicely for the final hurrah and eccentricity of what awaits you the listener in 'The End'.
Aptly entitled, 'The End' closes off the whole '555%' Triple Album with a strangely arranged opening that feels slightly sinister like it could burst out into an out and out rocker at any moment (something that's not unfamiliar to a Ginger song), instead the beast bursts out into another final large 'n' loud chorus. Ending pretty much to script on one final extended instrumental, with what sounds like a rocket taking off, the album closes on a high, ascending musically until the record finally breaks.
In 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story' a character asks the movie's hero "all I've asked you to do is to make one masterpiece which is a coming together of everything you've ever accomplished - how hard can that be?" Well using Ginger's '555%' as a way to answer this million dollar question, I would say our hero has made it almost effortless as he has managed to create a record which marries classic material with new to create a truly distinctive and powerful masterpiece.
With such a heavy 3 album offering given to us the fans so early into 2012 we can now but look forward to Ginger's 2nd release due later this year (the long awaited 'Frankenstein Effect/Mutation' album, due to drop in June). But right now we have plenty of time left to give this trilogy the "spin it to death outing" that it so justly deserves. Ginger is sounding fresher than ever on each new listen of '555%' always promising to give you a new gem that you didn't like quite as much as the one you loved yesterday. Indeed my favourites on each disc are ever changing and that is why I decided to not vote for my fave tracks to make up the commercial 12 track version of this project being released some time soon as '100%'. So for those of you that missed your chance to be a part of this tremendous triple album, I whole heartedly suggest you going out and buying '100%', upon its release.
The final track listing for 100% is as follows and it is available to buy via the weblink below
1. Forget About It
2. Internal Radio
3. Lover It'll all Work Out
4. You're The One, You're The One, Yeah, I Know You're The One, You're The One (Yeah, I Know You're The One)
5. It Appears That The Party Is Over
6. Taste Aversion
7. Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow
8. Just Another Song About Someone
9. Westward Ho! (A New Reputation)
10. Beautifully, Blissfully Unsettled
11. We've Been Expecting You