Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Extra Odd Years

Guess what arrived in the mail today... Buck 65's new album 20 Odd Years! ...Wait a minute, didn't I already receive and review 20 Odd Years back in October? Yes, well, this, I guess, is 20 Odd Years 1.2... 20 Odd Years was released as a series of three EPs (originally there was meant to be four, but one fell through), on 7" vinyl, mp3 and CD/DVD. That must've done pretty well, because now there's this new release (also available through on LP and CD. It's got a nice picture cover and a slightly different track-listing. So, let's break it down:

First, the missing songs:

1) Red-Eyed Son (w/ Coral Osborne) from EP #1 - This was a good song; I'm sorry to see it go.

2) The Niceness (w/ Colin Linden) from EP #2 - Frankly, I'm happy to see this one go. I mean, while the collector in me would like to see every song ever included, the whole album feels more mature with this silly number axed.

3) Tears In Space (w/ Meaghan Smith) also from EP #2 -This was okay, but no great loss.

And that's it for the missing songs (you can read more about them in my original review of the EP releases). If you've noticed, that means EPs 1 and 2 have exclusive songs, but #3 does not. So if you're considering picking up the EPs (they're still available as of this writing) in conjunction with the LP, #3 is the least essential, as it has nothing that isn't already on the album.

Now the new songs:

1) Whispers Of the Waves (w/ Gord Downie) - I could do without the guy (I guess that's Gord) singing the hook; but it's not terrible. Buck's flow over the rhythm bass is cool, though, and the scratches are a nice touch. Definitely a winner.

2) Stop (w/ Hannah Georgas) - The upbeat instrumentation is a nice change, but it feels more like a Hannah Georgas record featuring Buck than the other way around. Buck only has two short, unimpressive verses (over a lame beat) shoehorned into what's otherwise some kind of indie rock song. Feels like watching MTV, which I'd rather not do if I can avoid it.

3) Tears Of Your Heart (w/ Olivia Rulz) - Like the past EPs, forcing practically every song into a collaboration hurts this project. The girl sings something in French on the chorus, and, except for the breakdown, she doesn't sound like she belongs on the song. Buck comes with it, though, and I like the instrumental manages to have a live garage band feel while still maintaining a hip-hop nature. I like it, but a shorter version without the long, self-indulgent instrumental stretches and the excessive hook would've worked even better.

4) She Said Yes - Kind of boring and lifeless... I kept thinking, "when is this extended intro going to end and the song proper going to kick in?" But it just goes on until it ends, sort of a slow spoken-word bit over subdued keyboards and weak percussion.

So, overall, it's a nice package and a decent, if still uneven album. At first I felt a but like we'd been duped - we weren't told all these songs would be released as a proper LP back when the EPs were being sold, so we couldn't make the informed decision to hold out for this album. And it's frustrating that the absolute worst song from the EPs ("Who By Fire") was carried over, while one of the best ones ("Red-Eyed Son") was not. I wish it wasn't too late to trade them, but oh well. Forced to call it, I think the LP is slightly better than the EPs, but it's pretty close (the bulk of the songs are the same, after all), and my fellow completists will need both anyway. So, yeah, it's a good album - not Buck's best; but has some really strong moments. It's just unfortunate that we've bought most of them before.

But now, with the LP in my hot little hands, I'm a little feeling better about the whole thing. After all, getting four new songs... in a way, it's almost like getting the fourth EP that never materialized. And this one's on 12" with a nice picture cover. It just so happens to also include a bunch of the older songs from the past EP over again. It's hard to get too excited about an album I pretty much bought already four months ago; but it's nice to finally score that last EP. But, like the other EPs, it's just okay, and brought down by all these misfit guests. If you heard the last few EPs, this is more of the same. Hopefully Buck has worked all the cross-genre collaborations out of his system, and the next Buck 65 album will feature Buck 65 on at least 75% of the vocals and production.

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