CD Review

Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine Sony HHHHH Extraordinary Machine does not have the same captivating qualities as her 1996 triple-platinum album, Tidal, but her latest is the same old Apple, except this time around, the fruit

Fiona Apple
Extraordinary Machine

Extraordinary Machine does not have the same captivating qualities as her 1996 triple-platinum album, Tidal, but her latest is the same old Apple, except this time around, the fruit takes a harder bite to get to the core. Her vulnerability has faded, replaced by a previously unseen confidence in herself and her work.

Dissatisfied with the original version of Machine, Apple re-recorded most of the songs with a new producer and bassist before its Oct. 4 release, debuting at No.7 on the Billboard Charts.

And although many fans believed her record company, Sony, had halted the album’s release, (fans even organized a mass delivery of apples to Sony in protest). Apple has said in interviews that her perfectionism is what caused the delay.

At just 19 years old, Apple wrote Tidal at an age when heartache is permanent and angst just another part of the daily teenage routine. The new Apple, at 28, is wiser, a little stronger and thankfully, this time around a little more selfish. Whether musically or otherwise, Apple knows what she wants; and boys, she won’t take your crap anymore.
On the track “Oh Well,” Apple sings, “My peace and quiet was stolen from me … what wasted unconditional love on somebody who doesn’t believe in this stuff.” Apple’s brain no longer feeds from her heart. She has learned to distinguish love from lust, able to recognize when love has died, and how not to die with it. Apple re-recorded Machine because she only settles for the best, and as heard in the album’s lyrics, the same goes for her love life too.

The song “Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)” echoes of hip-hop influences, most likely thanks to Machine’s new producer, Mike Elizondo, who is widely considered to be rapper Dr. Dre’s right-hand man in the studio.

The song opens with the playful creepiness of a xylophone, a non traditional instrument that lends itself well to this musical jaunt in Apple’s haunted house of love. Apple speeds and slows her voice to the xylophone’s beat, emphasizing her words in a whimsical, rapping form.

Apple recognizes her change, poking fun at her love-stricken past self in the sarcastic last lines of the track, “Not About Love.” She sings, “This is not about love, ’cause I am not in love, in fact I can’t stop falling out, I miss that stupid ache …” Machine is living proof of Apple’s transition from defenseless girl to strong and self-assured woman.

And while the ache may be gone, the talent remains.

-Sammy Davis

5 stars

Since the late 90s, Sevendust has been one of the most hard working rock bands around. They have built a large legion of fans all over the U.S. and have defined what true melodic hard rock is. Unfortunately, the band suffered a serious blow recently with the departure of their great guitarist Clint Lowery. Their recent release Next has been anticipated by fans to see if the band can still be as good as they were before Lowery left.

The album shows the band is still on top of their game. With the addition of the band’s close friend Sonny Mayo as their new guitarist, they have filled up the hole created by Lowery’s departure. Not only did he pick up where Lowery left off, he has solidified himself as the perfect guitarist to this hard rock quintet.

Their music is as heavy as it has always been and Lajon Witherspoon’s distinct vocals continue to light up the band’s every track. The album’s first track, “Hero,” takes every fan’s eagerness to know if the band still has it and shoves it in their face. It’s as heavy and as melodic as all of the band’s great songs from the past.

Though they have never been fully recognized in the mainstream media they still produce some of the most powerful and emotional music around. The song “Shadow of Red” is a gripping song about the fear of being lonely. The song has powerful lyrics like “I’m lonely scared to be lonely, thought until death meant my fears were safe within, now they begin …” The acoustic guitar play adds a powerful and emotional element which really reflects the lyrics of the song.

Their ability to take such strong emotional lyrics and combine them with hard rock music is something that many hard rock bands fail to do well. Though all music is emotional, singing about loneliness and love in a hard rock song can be a difficult challenge.

For instance the track titled “This Life,” which is about experiencing a new love and finding the person who completes your life, proves just how talented they are. Witherspoon is remarkable with his singing and the lyrics are nothing short of awe-inspiring. This song will undoubtedly remind the listener of feelings of a love experience. No matter what track you listen to on this album you are in for hard rock at its best. Sevendust truly has set the standard for how hard rock should be played. Though they may have lost a big part of their band their music has only gotten better. Their passion for making music is something which listeners get to understand in every song they hear. Sevendust has been creating music for years now and with their new album Next it should finally be time for mainstream media to take note of a great hard rock band.

-Dan Capello

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