I have to be completely honest; I was disappointed by Strange Negotiations. I guess my expectations were just too high. I enjoyed some tracks, like Wolves at the Door, Virginia, Don’t Change, Strange Negotiations and Won’t Let Go, but the rest were mediocre in my opinion. I’ve only l listened to the album about four times so far, and I’m sure I’ll grow to like the album more and more with each listen… but Strange Negotiations is the ONLY Bazan album I didn’t fall in love with on the first listen.
Level With Yourself lacked the beautiful chord progression and melody I’ve come to expect from Bazan. I found the drums on Future Past to be boring and somewhat uninspired, tarnishing an otherwise decent song. I would have enjoyed People so much more without the irritating off-beat rhythm. Eating Paper and Messes are growing on me, but they didn’t pull me in immediately like the rest of Bazan’s catalogue.
I’m not saying Strange Negotiations is bad, it’s just not the flawless album I expected from my favourite artist. I love David Bazan so much that I feel guilty saying these things, but my discontent with the album was making me uncomfortable and I needed to get it off my chest.
Keep in mind this is only my opinion, and we’re all entitled to our own.
I largely agree with most of what Joe said here, but I’m not quite as harsh on the album as he is, though he did nail a few key points. At this point I’ve listened to the album 10 times in 5 days.
The drums on Future Past are the worst part of the whole album. I like Alex Westcoat’s drumming overall, and he’s been great both times I’ve seen him live, but this performance kills the song. I’m assuming he wrote the part, as it’s pretty clear that Bazan treated this album as more of a “Bazan + Band” project - allowing Alex and Andy Fitts some freedom for writing their own parts.
Wolves At The Door will get most of the attention simply because it’s the first song on the album and it includes a singable catch phrase: “You’re a goddamn fool, and I love you.” It’s pretty much a standard Bazan composition.
Virginia, Strange Negotiations, and Won’t Let Go are excellent songs. No disappointment there. The remaining 5 songs are just average, and yes, when compared to Bazan’s extensive catalog, they are mediocre, but when compared against most popular music in general, they are still strong songs.
I’m sure that part of the issue here is that Curse Your Branches was, quite simply, a perfect album. Every aspect of that record spoke to me on truly fundamental levels. It felt like he was speaking for me. I just can’t imagine any album being able to live up to that standard, and Strange Negotiations is the first thing he’s given us since, so I don’t think Bazan’s most devoted fans will be able to give it a fair chance.
The bottom line is that while I’m slightly disappointed, I’m beginning to like the songs more as the lyrics begin to sink in and my brain starts to decode all the metaphor and symbolism. However, it’s clear that the album is full of political/socioeconomic criticism, and that just doesn’t speak to me as deeply as Bazan’s traditional topics: religion and relationships.
Out of a deep respect for my mother, who might very well be next in line to be pope after this dude dies.
It’s a genuinely awesome story. Whether or not we choose to believe it, none of us should deny that it’s pretty awesome, and perhaps even more impressive if it’s all invented (The Greatest Story Ever Told?). All religion is pretty interesting when you really dig into it.
I usually go alone which means I don’t really have to talk to anyone and I can stand in the back or on the side and just observe the proceedings. Yes, I’m judging most of the people there, like the parents with their flamingly gay son wearing a bright purple shirt under a white jacket, and the old people who themselves sit there judging everyone else for not wearing a suit or a dress or not following along with the traditions (even though their religion tells them not to judge others), and the parents who let their teenage daughters wear too much makeup and too short skirts in a so-called holy place of worship.
To see (watch) people I knew in high school. Maybe they were friends, usually they weren’t, but I like to see how they turned out.
It’s usually true when they say the “hot girls” get uglier and the “ugly girls” get hotter. I don’t feel guilty for thinking about that kind of stuff in a church.
Oh, she appears to be single… nice. If you need me I’ll be available on Facebook chat while I see what she’s been up to for the past 10 years and then close the page without making any attempt at communication with her because I’m anti-social to a fault.
Stop judging me!
I like when the priest walks by and sprinkles holy water on everyone. It’s like we’re the fans at a sweltering rock concert and he’s in the band spraying us with his water bottle.
What? It’s not like that at all? Yes it is. Shut up.
The body of Christ is the most delicious little cracker in this world. I wish I could buy those wafers and put cheese and pepperoni on them to make little tiny Jesus Pizzas.
I’d probably put Nutella on the wafers too. I bet that’d be delicious. Nutella Jesuses.
What was I talking about?
Now I’m gonna go listen to Jesus Christ Superstar for the millionth time.
Maybe Ian Gillian is actually the second coming of Jesus and his gift to the world is Smoke On The Water, Highway Star, and the rest of his excellent work with Deep Purple. And maybe the day of reckoning will come at the hand of his servant Richie Blackmore’s blistering riffs.
Jesus Christ Superstar - The Last Supper & Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say) (steelopus cover)
Go big or go home?
I originally planned on doing only The Last Supper, but it felt completely empty without Gethsemane, so I did them both. Doing both those songs would’ve been tough enough with my original plans - in which I thought I’d be able to spend a full 7 days working on them. Then my family came to visit for 5 days and so I actually only had 2 days to complete all of this. So much for seeing how much better I could do at a leisurely pace!
Skipping all the piano and orchestra parts meant both songs ended up a bit more “rock and roll” than their various original versions, as I replaced that stuff with some crunchy guitars. I would never pretend to have even 10% as much vocal talent as the great Ian Gillian, or Ted Neeley, or Murray Head, or Carl Anderson. Their performances are legendary and I tried not to imitate them wherever possible, though some of the crazy-high melodies are essential to the production, so I did the best I could do. Go big or go home. With these two, more than any of the previous 40, I surely can’t be accused of not putting myself out there.
So, after two solid days of recording and mixing, I thought I was done. I exported a version and while listening I heard a few things that I wanted to tweak, so I reopened the session and as I got to the end of Gethsemane I noticed that the drums, bass, and guitar tracks had vanished. I have no idea what happened. It may well have been my mistake, though it feels like a technical error. Regardless, the session is mostly lost and we’re left with this original export. It has everything in there and it’s good enough to get my point across - though it’s mixed a little rougher than I’m happy with, but as it’s nearly 3:30am, I’m going to chalk it up as a loss. Jesus might have resurrected, but these lost tracks certainly won’t.
This is the end. Thanks to all of you for joining me on this insane journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Happy Easter.
Of course it’s not until I export my 41st song that Garageband decides to randomly delete a large portion of several tracks. I’ve tried every trick in the book but those tracks are gone, never to be resurrected. I consider this a major disaster. The only way to get them back would be to re-record them.
So you’ll just have to settle for my original export that has the vocals a little hotter than I wanted and is overall a bit sloppier, because there’s no way I’m re-recording drums, bass, and guitar at 2:45am. At least the original export has all the parts.
This is an entirely frustrating way to end the project.