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Butch Walker - 'Sycamore Meadows'


Geoff
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Okay, so to be honest I'd all but given up on Butch after the drivel he's released since the brilliant 'Letters' albums... but I just stumbled accross this bit of news - that he has a new album due out on 11th November. Here's the tracklist:

 

Tracklist:

1. The Weight of Her

2. Going Back/Going Home

3. Here Comes The...

4. Ponce De Leon Ave.

5. Ships in a Bottle

6. Vessels

7. Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You

8. The 3 Kids In Brooklyn

9. Summer Scarves

10. A Song For The Metalheads

11. Closer To The Truth and Further From The Sky

12. Atlanta

 

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There's a full glowing review here but the most interesting part in it is this:

 

"Musically, there are no huge surprises: the general mood of despondency recalls the Marvies’ hidden masterpiece Hey! Album; the shift towards acoustic instruments and more subtle arrangements brings to mind his 2004 album Letters; and there are a couple of glam rock nuggets in the form of lead single ‘Weight Of Her’ and the brassy ‘Ponce De Leon Ave.’ He experiments with new instruments and styles just enough to make the familiar sounds fresh."

 

"His debut solo record Left Of Self-Centered experimented with hip hop and electronic styles, but often came across as awkward as it was well-intentioned; Sycamore Meadows is a far more accomplished effort, an extremely well-polished and well-drilled pop-rock record."

 

"Similarly, ‘Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought Of You’ could easily be Hey! Album’s ‘Let Me Go’ revisited ten years on, tracking the singer’s descent from moderate self-pity to eternal, irreparable heartache."

 

Goddamn I cannot wait to hear this thing!!!!

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I've heard many of the tracks on this one, in a live format.

 

He's already got a few of the tracks up on his Myspace page. Ponce, Weight, and Ships.

 

His live version of 'Ships In A Bottle' was miles ahead of the album version, in my opinion. The despondent quality with just his lonesome wail and a piano create a palpable sorrow that just rips at your heart and brings you back to SOME time in your life that you could not stand to breathe because of a girl.

 

I do like the album version of Weight of Her. (Got that track from iTunes.) Passed Your Place and Here Comes The..., at least live, were both great songs. Summer Scarves was a good track too. Atlanta and Going Back/Going Home didn't really do much for me, but maybe the album versions will get me better. And I wasn't too up on A Song For The Metalheads either. Maybe the album will help that. (I know, at one time, he had demos of Vessels and Brooklyn on his page too. I'm imagining others I know might have heard/have versions of the few tracks I haven't covered yet.)

 

I know R&F was received pretty poorly. I remember upon my first listen, I wasn't crazy about it at all either. Then I saw him live in Nashville and fell in love with many of the songs. Came home and learned all the words and by the time I saw him again in Philly, I was in love with most of that album. It took repeated spins and getting lost in the songs (maybe even having an agenda for listening). But once I was hooked, I was hooked completely. (That said, I still thought there were at least 3 duds too. The demo of 'Song Without A Chorus' was far and away better than the album version. We're All Going Down was nothing worthy of even completing a first spin. And the countryish Rich People Die Unhappy, while maybe an important message he needed to convey, just absolutely fell flat.)

 

Obviously, I'm a diehard Butch Walker fan. I've refrained from alot of the recent discussion (at least when I was here) because his last effort was so poorly received. But, I'll for sure end up supporting Sycamore Meadows. Maybe, with repeated spins, I'll like the tracks that, so far, I'm not crazy about. But, based on what I've heard so far, what works works on a simply amazing level.

 

(As far as comparisons, since I've heard most with just piano or an acoustic, I'll obviously compare it to Letters as well. But, having heard the 3 on MS, he's got some nice arrangements/pop sensebilities in there.)

 

I'm gonna go so far as to say any Butch fans of Letters should not be disappointed (at least compared to the disappointment many felt over R&F of the LGOTs) with Sycamore Meadows at all. (Then again, let's wait and see how vastly different the album is from what I've heard before I completely render my judgment.)

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Sweet action. Sounds good to me. As long as it's a rock album (even if there are light tracks) I am sure it'll be a gem in the hands of Butch and his song-writing (sounds like an album really close to him) so I will embrace it.

 

I just couldn't handle that that 'Rise and Fall' and 'Lets go out tonights' completely strayed from everything that made his sound beautiful... and pretty much from rock entirely. But no one will be more happy to jump back on the badwagon than I if this is a good one. :)

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Sweet action. Sounds good to me. As long as it's a rock album (even if there are light tracks) I am sure it'll be a gem in the hands of Butch and his song-writing (sounds like an album really close to him) so I will embrace it.

 

I just couldn't handle that that 'Rise and Fall' and 'Lets go out tonights' completely strayed from everything that made his sound beautiful... and pretty much from rock entirely. But no one will be more happy to jump back on the badwagon than I if this is a good one. :)

 

 

 

I will second that!

 

Butch I've missed you. :(

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(As far as comparisons, since I've heard most with just piano or an acoustic, I'll obviously compare it to Letters as well. But, having heard the 3 on MS, he's got some nice arrangements/pop sensebilities in there.)

 

I'm gonna go so far as to say any Butch fans of Letters should not be disappointed (at least compared to the disappointment many felt over R&F of the LGOTs) with Sycamore Meadows at all. (Then again, let's wait and see how vastly different the album is from what I've heard before I completely render my judgment.)

Just got this spinning now (I know, I know - I'm a naughty boy, but an impatient naughty boy) and the above is correct.

 

I can't really hear much of Marvelous 3 or even 'Left of self-centered' here, but this does slightly resemble 'Letters'. Again, this is probably even lighter than 'Letters' but the only thing that matters is he's writing good songs again. This actually sounds like Butch. It's mellow, but insanely personal and sincere with some wonderful lyrics. If you like Butch for the big hooks and insane choruses that made M3 and "Left of self-centered' I think you will be disappointed, but if you like him as a storyteller and poet still keeping an eye on nice little discreet hooks, you should enjoy this one. Off the bat I'm going to say I prefer 'Letters' but I can see this growing on me. More comments after more spins.

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That last song, 'Atlanta' is not a song... it's blood dripping from open veins. I am 100% sure this album will not be for the majority here, but I just can't fault a man who puts that much into his craft. Just beautiful...

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Ive just spent 10 mins staring at your avatar.

 

I feel better now.

Yeah, as I said elsewhere it's pretty much the best thing that's ever been placed on this planet.

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ......Lemme know when he decides to get Southgang back together......until then I'll pass

 

 

 

I love Southgang for what it is, but everything he's done since is much better.

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ......Lemme know when he decides to get Southgang back together......until then I'll pass

 

 

 

I love Southgang for what it is, but everything he's done since is much better.

 

I won't pretend to know everything that Butch has done since 'Gang but I have heard some of his solo work and Marvelous 3(who were very good) but for me it all pales in comparison to Southgang. I guess their style is much more my thing.

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Okay I had to check out the new one also and I'm thinking it's going to be very good. I see the comparisons to Letters which I love. Thank Christ for Mr. Walker.

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Okay, after a couple of spins here are my early thoughts:

 

1. The Weight of Her ; Good pop rock intro. Nice start.

2. Going Back/Going Home ; Nice personal tune... the verse-long biography is wonderfully delicious.

3. Here Comes The... ; very nice balld - good catchy chorus.

4. Ponce De Leon Ave. ; Good pop rock tune but I could do without the brass.

5. Ships in a Bottle ; Yum yum yum! This is what I was after. Best song so far and beautiful, stunning ballad. Lots of chlls.

6. Vessels ; okay pop rock.

7. Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You ; Sweet jeezus pass the tissues! More chills, second best song. Just a beautiful ballad.

8. The 3 Kids In Brooklyn ; Not really a fan of this one. Some really annoying backing vocals.

9. Summer Scarves ; Splendid song! Another beautiful ballad with a great chorus.

10. A Song For The Metalheads ; Okay song. Cool lyrics but not a fave.

11. Closer To The Truth and Further From The Sky ; Good acoustic pop rock song. Very likeable and another fave.

12. Atlanta ; Another splendid, moving and heartfelt ballad. More chills... another wonderful song.

13. Hidden Track ; Another piano ballad with Butch's heart bleeding through the speakers.

 

Overall, I really like this. The highlights truly make this album a delight. It doesn't match 'Letters' overall, but there are some of his best songs ever here. It is an acoustic album - nothing for the hard rock n' rollers here at all. But if you like sentimental songs of beauty give it a go. If this is your intro to Butch, don't bother. Introduce yourself to him through Marvelous 3 and his first two solo albums before even attempting to try this one.

 

Thumbs up from me.

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For those of you still debating (or wanting to see how your opinions match up with Geoff's), if you're interested in previewing the album before buying, check out this site:

 

Listen to Sycamore Meadows by Butch Walker

 

(Be advised, there are small commercials between songs.)

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For those of you still debating (or wanting to see how your opinions match up with Geoff's), if you're interested in previewing the album before buying, check out this site:

 

Listen to Sycamore Meadows by Butch Walker

 

(Be advised, there are small commercials between songs.)

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the album version of 'Atlanta'. I noticed that in your post above you said that wasn't one of your faves. I agree with the other two you mentioned, but 'Atlanta' was one of my personal highlights on the disc. :)

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For those of you still debating (or wanting to see how your opinions match up with Geoff's), if you're interested in previewing the album before buying, check out this site:

 

Listen to Sycamore Meadows by Butch Walker

 

(Be advised, there are small commercials between songs.)

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the album version of 'Atlanta'. I noticed that in your post above you said that wasn't one of your faves. I agree with the other two you mentioned, but 'Atlanta' was one of my personal highlights on the disc. :)

 

I'm on this album right now. So far, I'm not much into the differences between live (and just an acoustic or piano) and the album. There's just something about listening to his stuff stripped down. The emotive quality that you previously mentioned in his sincere lyrics and the pain you hear in his voice is so tangible and makes it the perfect soundtrack to any pain you've ever felt.

 

That said, there are some new twists that are great! I'm going to borrow from you and post my thoughts on the each track in a bit. (I'll be sure to pay extra attention to Atlanta. I will say, I know a LOT of people loved that song, so it maybe it's just me.)

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ......Lemme know when he decides to get Southgang back together......until then I'll pass

 

 

 

I love Southgang for what it is, but everything he's done since is much better.

 

I won't pretend to know everything that Butch has done since 'Gang but I have heard some of his solo work and Marvelous 3(who were very good) but for me it all pales in comparison to Southgang. I guess their style is much more my thing.

 

my thoughts exactly, HRH and H&H i mean

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So, I had impressions of a lot of these songs before I heard the whole album; most were live tracks I'd heard. (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12)

 

Some I thought were fantastic (Ships In A Bottle, Passed Your Place, and Summer Scarves, in particular). Some I didn't think worked as well, but were enjoyable, at least marginally. But, just when I heard the album version of Ships (a month ago or so when he first released 2 tracks to iTunes/Myspace), I thought he did a ton of different things to the album. Now, getting a chance to listen to the entire album, I have an idea of the whole body of work. So, a la Geoff, here is my review of Sycamore Meadows, track by track. At least after listen one. When I get the CD next week and spin in repetitively, views might change. We'll see.

 

1. The Weight of Her - Really like this track - full of pop rock elements, a good beat, and good vox/effects. Probably the best choice to lead off the album. (Maybe Brooklyn, but Weight was best, IMO.)

 

2. Going Back/Going Home - I like the personal song nature. This version works better than the live one. Live was a little too drawn out. The choice of instrumentation/effects is super on this.

 

3. Here Comes The... - Nice ballad, good lyrics. Instrumentation doesn't work with the lyrics for me. The live vocal was mournful and . Seems the vox are overpowered by the drum/beat, to me. I like the BG vox though.

 

4. Ponce De Leon Ave. - Not a huge fan. Pretty sure I'd like at least a little better without the brass, too. I'd love to hear that mix, as I think the vox work pretty well. Have to have a talk with someone. lol

 

5. Ships in a Bottle - Still a very good ballad, but, this suffers for the same reason as Here Comes The.... (But, I think after it kicks in at the first verse, it is much better overall, than Here Comes The....)

 

6. Vessels - Not a typical Butch vocal, but I find this pretty decent pop rock that will prob. be a grower.

 

7. Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You - Yet another great ballad, that, IMO, suffers from poor pacing/instrumentation. Lyrics are sorrowful, but music doesn't fit it. The keyboard beat - YUCK! :crying:

 

8. The 3 Kids In Brooklyn - Felt this peppy number worked pretty well as a pick me up after PYP. I liked it and found the lyrics worked well. (I can see Geoff's point about how BG vox could be annoying for some. Guaranteed this'll be the sing-a-long live.)

 

9. Summer Scarves - Great song and it works the way Butch put it on the album, even though live was superb too. One of those songs that should work full band/acoustic live. Which is Butch's true milleu. But everything about this song works on a great level!

 

10. A Song For The Metalheads - Some personal messages in this song for Butch, and not a bad song overall, but nothing I found essential, on the album or live.

 

11. Closer To The Truth and Further From The Sky - OMG! What a song! It sounds ripped from Butch's early life, but it's just him and an acoustic to start and nailing some personal lyrics. The effects bring to mind Marah's "Freedom Park" or something Springsteen did and this works on EVERY level. GREAT SONG!

 

12. ATL - IMO, this works so much better on the album than live. Not that it wasn't powerful live, but the piano and vocal sound so much better (obviously than a bootleg!) with some production behind them and there's almost a hollow feeling that permeates your ears/heart as you listen. Another win for Butch!

 

No bonus track online, so I'll have to reserve judgment on this one till next week.

 

Faves on the album are: Weight of Her, Summer Scarves, and Closer To The Truth. Other really good ones. A couple that just fell flat (maybe because of previous opinions on different versions, so who's to say my opinion won't change with repeated listens). I'll gladly be in line on the 11th to get this album!

 

Also, for any of my fellow Butch Walker fans, if you're interested in my comparisons to the live stuff, I'm including a link to a zip file of live Butch (from the new album and one cover). If you're so inclined, take a listen and see what comparisons you draw.

 

New Butch Tracks (live - Atlanta '08)

 

(There are only 10 d/l allowed. If anyone gets shut out, let me know. I'll re-upload.)

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ......Lemme know when he decides to get Southgang back together......until then I'll pass

 

 

 

I love Southgang for what it is, but everything he's done since is much better.

 

I won't pretend to know everything that Butch has done since 'Gang but I have heard some of his solo work and Marvelous 3(who were very good) but for me it all pales in comparison to Southgang. I guess their style is much more my thing.

 

my thoughts exactly, HRH and H&H i mean

As a worshipper of "hair metal" I fully know where you guys are coming from and I deeply enjoy Southgang, but there is no way in the world you can actually musically compare Southgang to what Butch is doing now. I love the harmless fun nature of Southgang but the truth is it will never, never come close to finding the place that some of the songs on this new album go to. It's a whole different genre and the only way to describe it is outside the boundaries of anything wonderful that "hair metal" could offer.

 

But to the disc onece more. Having given it a few more spins I am deadset sold on this thing. The first 3 songs are wonderful - love them all. The only tracks I have not warmed to are 'Ponce De Leon Ave', 'Vessels', 'The 3 Kids In Brooklyn'. All are okay, but not my faves. 'A Song For The Metalheads' would be next in line, but after that I adore everything else on this album. 'Ships in a Bottle', 'Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You' and 'Closer To The Truth and Further From The Sky' are stunning to me. Absolutely immaculate. My second favourite song is 'Summer Scarves' but the surprise favourite for me... I just cannot go past 'Atlanta'. I was sitting there in a sweltering car with chills all the way down my entire being. This song is beyond the realms of beauty. It's just sheer heartfelt perfection.

 

I can't put this CD in my 'Top 10 Melodic Hard Rock' albums or even my 'Top 10 Modern Hard Rock' albums but this is sure as f*ck the finest "other" album I have heard since 'Letters' was released by the very same man a few years ago.

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To join in on the whole Southgang vs. Butch (like you need another opinion, let alone mine), I figured I'd throw in my $0.02.

 

I remember the joy I felt the day I first popped in Tainted Angel and then raced over to my friend's house to some more guys in on the discovery I'd made. I wasn't sure there was a bigger palpable joy I could feel. While I wasn't impressed with Group Therapy, that certainly grew on me and I was more than a bit depressed to hear of their demise.

 

Sadly, I, other than seeing an article in Metal Edge about Floyd's Funk Revival, lost track of Butch until '00. (And, to be honest, there really wasn't a "Butch" yet. It was "the rest of Southgang" at that time.) And by the time I became aware of the fact that (t)he(y) hadn't dropped off the face of the earth, I had quite the back catalog to attempt to attain. 3 Marvie albums, FFR, and the Floyds. And, pretty much, that was the end of M3 (about a year later) and then it was solo Butch.

 

Southgang put out some wonderful music. The songs, while maybe a bit dated sounding, are fantastic groove-laden hooks with wonderful melodies. And maybe it's the favorite "type" of music of some people, therefore, it'll be more highly regarded than the solo stuff. And that's fine, because, you know, the whole different strokes for different folks deal. However, both on a musical and lyrical artistry level, along with higher levels of variance/risk in styles of music, Butch's post-SG work, particularly solo, has been leaps and bounds ahead of Southgang. (Again, just my opinion, but I believe a true musical scholar would tend to believe the same, particularly when defined as above.) Just because Butch's new stuff is all "artists/critic-friendly", in comparison to SG material, doesn't mean it will be more well received by everyone than the Southgang albums. But, whether you like the actual songs (solo) better than the SG stuff, you've got to admit the higher levels of quality in the craftsmanship of pretty much every part of Butch's solo material. The man can craft a story woven through intense lyrics and and emotive songsmanship/use of instruments.

 

I'm a fan of nearly every album Butch has been a part of (sans his production credits/guest vox... I haven't heard many of those albums because of the names of the artists/type of music). And, whatever side of this argument you are on, I don't think you can deny that the lgeneral level of Butch's music has gone up since SG, regardless of it's your favorite or your heart will always belong to Southgang.

 

As a rather sad aside, there are lots of fans out there that still love that music. However, in "Butch" circles, many of the younger kids don't even have a clue about the 'Gang. And Butch is more than content with that. There was always the metalhead in Butch's audience who was in love with SG and liked, or maybe even loved, M3, who would always yell "Play Southgang!" or something to that effect. And Butch often spoke against it. (Some of us have even suggested on his message boards, back when there used to be one, lol, that he cut some SG tracks with him on lead vox and use them as B-sides or as a separate release/digital release for the hardcore fans. Um, unless something major happens, like amnesia, I'm guessing that won't happen. I couldn't imagine the joy I'd experience at just ONE Southgang song redone by Butch as a hidden track or digital download in the future.)

 

Sweet action. Thanks mate, I might give that one a go. Nice review too. :)

 

 

Thank you kind sir! I hope you partook of the d/l, as I hope at least 9 others will as well.

 

I'd love to hear your (or anyone who chooses to d/l the songs) thoughts on the live compared to the album as well. :drink:

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Sweet action. Thanks mate, I might give that one a go. Nice review too. :)

 

 

Thank you kind sir! I hope you partook of the d/l, as I hope at least 9 others will as well.

 

I'd love to hear your (or anyone who chooses to d/l the songs) thoughts on the live compared to the album as well. :drink:

Yeah, got it on Friday night. Thanks a bunch. Haven't had a chance to spin it, but I definitely will as I'm really quite interested.

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well i played two songs to my brother, Tainted Angel and Freak Of The Week

 

he thought the first was a Vince Neil solo song, and the second he thought was Blink 182...

 

so whats a better album? Exposed by Vince Neil or Enema Of The State by Blink 182?

 

yes i have a warped sense of logic, but it works out in the end :tumbsup:

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