h1

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium

May 19, 2006

I guess I have never really been a huge fan of RHCP, but I’ve liked them in any case. I heard their songs as much as any other kid who listened to the radio regularly would. The band had some solid classics, such as Give it Away, By The Way, and Under The Bridge. The band is simply irresistable to whoever listens to them, for whatever reason. I have found very few people who don’t like the band at least a little, and I think that is because they are versatile enough to be able to crank out at least one tune that you will like. They have their hard rockers and wacky stuff, they have their relaxed California tunes, and they have their more artistic slower songs from recent years. So they can find some kind of, well, weakspot in everybody.

So out of the three big releases of older bands this Spring, Stadium Arcadium is going to be the one that sells the most, easily. Fans will obviously jump for it. The fact that it is a double album is reason enough for even casual fans to pick it up. And Anthony Kiedis said it was the best material they have ever made, so then even less casual fans jump for it. And then, get this, the album ends up almost being a summary of all of the bands different eras and styles, so even people who only like a few songs by the band will probably get more interested.

Is it good? …Yeah, it’s good. It’s actually really good. And I think the reason why it’s good is because the band is experienced enough to know how to make an album while appealing the general public more than their desire to go off and just try something different. All bands do that, where they go off and do experimental stuff after their initial popularity. Well, I think that Red Hot Chili Peppers just know how to keep it real, and keeping it real means doing what they have been doing for over twenty years. And then putting it on a double album.

It’s not all solid gold. In fact, I’d say maybe around half of the material is mediocre. But mediocre is a misleading word. The album does touch on all of the different styles the band has done, but they haven’t exactly done this in a balanced way. They seem to be more geared towards their recent By The Way/Californication type stuff, at least that’s what it seems like to me. And I think that’s great. By The Way is still my favorite RHCP album, and I think the band can do really well when they are concentrating on these relaxing slower sad type songs. But they do it an awful lot on this album, and not all of this material is good. But they still manage to produce some of the funkier older type stuff, the flat out hard rock, and then some stuff that’s in between. So I guess half of it is mediocre because the other half is just better. Sometimes the band recycles ideas, and sometimes they force beats and riffs too much, but that’s okay, because the really solid stuff is stuff that everyone will love, and the other half seems like the kind of stuff that fans will eat up more than anyone.

The album is divided into two disks called Juppiter and Mars. It’s hard to say which one is better, but you have to keep in mind, this album doesn’t exactly flow, and it finds it’s better points more in the songs than in the big picture like By The Way did. Juppiter kicks it off with Dani California, which to me seems like the tune that the band things would get the most radio play and popularity anyway, so they put it out as the single so that the album will sell and people can see the rest of what they have to say. It’s a good song, and it sort of does the typical funky thing in the verses and explodes into a more serious album opener type of chorus. I like it a lot, even though I didn’t at first. Next is Snow (Hey Oh) which in my opinion, is a real keeper because of the atmosphere it creates. That guitar is just such a great weapon for the band, and John Frusciante can do that quick rhythmic sound really well. This is one of the more successful riffs he makes on this album. Also keep in mind that the chord progressions on this album are extremely predictable, and you can find yourself almost humming the tune when you have only heard it for a little bit. And only sometimes does the pull a trick out to make it a little different. But that happens mostly on the filler.

Charlie is the kind of thing you would expect from the band in the BSSM era, and for a while it’s just this free verse nonsensical rhyming, which is okay, because these guys may be older but they are still totally kids. So they can get away with that really easily. It’s a classic song. The part where Anthony goes “so much more than/Charlies waking me” is just fantastic. Its’ one of the best hooks the band has produced in years, at least from the stuff I have heard. The song is supposed to be about little sparkles of immagination you can find, which is probably the lyrics talking about this hook and how good it is. Maybe.

Anyway, the band clearly put all of it’s best stuff on the first disk, in my opinion. Stadium Arcadium is another lush By The Way type song, but it’s one of the better of it’s breed on this album. Hump de Bump is also interesting, mostly because it is just a fun groove. Maybe the best one is Slow Cheetah, a song with another mildly uncreative and familliar chord progression, but it’s good. It’s rugged, and it is also very accessible. But when a lot of people listen to RHCP, they don’t want JUST this touchy feely more creative type stuff. A lot of the better RHCP is when they are totally unleashed, and they are doing “let me jump on top of you and work you uncontrollably” stuff. Which is why Especially in Michigan and Warlocks are cool. They aren’t THAT uncontrollable, but they are happier and more optimistic, and they are a good break from the sadder stuff.

The rest of the first disk is okay, but it starts up again on the next disk. You have to keep in mind, it’s not like a good deal of this album is bad or anything. It’s just you have heard it before. And there is better stuff that tries to do the same thing in other places. Desecration Smile is surely a highlight, even if it is more of what you have already heard. It’s still a solid track, and I like it a lot. Hard To Concentrate should be better than it is. It’s sort of built lyrically like a marriage proposal. That’s what the words say anyway. While I am always the kind of person to accept new ideas, this is just too un-RHCP even for me, and I’m not a huge fan. It’s a shame, because the riff and groove are solid. Whatever. It happens. We have bad stuff.

Readymade is another one that people seem to like a lot. I guess it’s okay. It’s just that the tune doesn’t sound as strong or anything than a lot of the Peppers better material. And it doesn’t seem to really go anywhere. The chorus is short enough to propell the song back into the riff, which is just generally uninteresting after a while. But it’s a rocker, so any fans who were waiting for a relentless ball breaker, well, here it is. A song that tries a different style successfully is If, which sort of explores a simple trippy summer sleep feeling. I like it.

Probably the best thing on Mars is Make You Feel Better. This is another totally classic song, and it’s fast paced and more aggressive and catchy. Yeah, you might still be able to call the progressions as you hear them, but the lyrics really don’t fault too much here like they do in some of the albums lesser works. It’s just vintage Peppers. I know that and I don’t even know them too well. It’s good stuff. Beyond that, Animal Bar is probably the second best thing on this disk, and it does the entire mellow schtick without exactly being sad or boring. It just seems to drive itself.

Just because I summarized most of the better stuff doesn’t mean there aren’t other treats to be found on this album. That’s essentially what it is… An album full of treats. There are only a few tracks that will stand out as the best of the best in the RHCP catalog, but the rest is still really good for fans, in that they have their own tunes that can be accessed with time, or at least that’s how it seems to me. I feel bad that I haven’t completely gotten to know this album and all of it’s songs, but that’s okay. The great thing is, it’s got material for everyone, and that is enough to make it one of the better albums I have heard this year.

I still probably like Pearl Jam better though. I mentioned that I have heard two out of three of those releases that older bands are releasing this year. The only one that I haven’t heard is Tool’s 10,000 Days. I might talk about it once I hear it, which will be soon, but I’m not huge on Tool, so we will see.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: