I went mad and bought a bunch of CDs over the weekend.
Muse - Drones
I've liked Muse since Absolution. I did delve back into their back catalogue too but the first two didn't quiet tick the boxes with me. The last effort 2nd Law was ok but I felt a move away from the "Muse" sound they'd defined up until then. I remember commenting at the time that it sounded a bit like Porcupine Tree - which wasn't a criticism but simply an observation that it didn't sound really like a Muse record to me. Drones is much more on song for me. Heavier, the distorted bass riffs are there, Bellamy's soaring guitar sounds heavily over effected too and his voice is right on song. I heard a review on Jo Whiley's Radio2 show about this in which the guest reviewer went on about how hilarious Muse were with the bombastic instrumentation, hand built guitars etc. He seemed to think they are a parody of themselves. I completely disagree but then I get the feeling we'd never sit down and listen to Yes Relayer and be able to meet anywhere on a level for a conversation either. However here's a funny observation. The title track - he expected a post apocalyptic attack on unmanned combat aircraft (that is on Reapers actually). I had already thought to myself DADGAD... i.e. some sort of droning musical statement. It is largely a vocal chant. I think showing I'm more in touch with Muse and their output than the reviewer. So... if you were switched on to them with 2nd Law but didn't like Absolution et al look away now. If you wrote them off after 2nd Law - put them back on your list.
The Plague Within - Paradise Lost.
I like Paradise Lost. I first came across them at Knebworth in 2009 where their performance was one of the highlights for me and they were the discovery of the weekend. This is really dark and heavy from the starting out doom laden riff and the gruff shouted initial lyrics we know where we stand. However Paradise Lost for me have a couple of bits that make them stand out. Firstly Nick Holmes vocals. He switches effortlessly between the gruff shouty metal genre to melodic and attractive lyrical singing easy and it adds something many lack in this area. He is a really great singer. Secondly Greg Mackintosh is a unique lead guitarist. He uses a set up with two wah-wah pedals open but set normally in specific positions. This gives his lead lines a very unique tone and quality. They are ethereal and not what you initially expect, you expect a more typical over driven scooped sound with machine gun attack but this high pitched middle heavy lyrical and melodic tone and feel is hypnotic. The Plague Within is their heaviest offering for a while but attractive none the less. If you like any heavy metal try them out - I think you'll be as enamoured as me. BTW my son met the rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy in Aberystwyth last summer, I'm not sure if my son had any influence but the latest videos show Aaron has now moved to using an Ltd Vintage Black EMG loaded EC1000.... just like my son has... hmmm... ;-)
B.B. King - Definitive Collection
I had some old vinyl BB King when I was younger a studio album and a live one. Sadly long lost. I have a few others bits of him - esp Riding with the King the album he made with Clapton which is one of Clapton's best albums too frankly. But with his passing I realised I have a BB hole in the collection this was as cheap solution. Every song on here he nails. His vocals are fantastic and the big bell ringing clean tone he had with that instantly recoginsable vibrato - genius. There is a duet with Robert Cray on there - now Mr Cray is no slouch and his first solo has is characteristic strat snap and bite to it but then BB hits the first note in his reply and sorry Robert should just join the employment line. I mean that with the greatest respect - Robert is great but BB .... well he was just something else entirely....