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Butch Walker (and the Black Widows)


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Good news, for any fans of Butch.


"So, me and The Black Widows are ready to put this record out and tour all year on it. Are you ready for it? Here's a couple of interesting things for you to prepare for.


The new record "I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart" will be coming out in Vinyl Feb 9th and will also include the digital version of the record with it. So you can't lose here. You get 2 albums for one small price and the vinyl will sound better than any cracked version digitally borrowed off of Pirate Bay. It also comes with all sorts of cool artwork and posters (welcome back to my childhood), so enjoy that.


The preorder will have different levels for you to choose from. Some are reasonable. Some are stupid, but hey, who am I to judge?


If you are wondering if I want you to preorder the record before it comes out (I want you to), do so by heading over to the preorder page...


Also, for kicks, 2 songs from the record "Trash Day" (hear it first on EW.com) and "She Likes Hair Bands" are available on iTunes this week. Download them here, and enjoy....


Oh, and as far as touring goes, US, Australia, Japan, and Europe... I'm coming for you this year.


See you on the road."




(BTW, I don't imagine it will be for many in the crowd here at HH, but if anyone has any interest in hearing Butch's cover of Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me", you can check out his live video of him recording the songs here:

. I picked it up at iTunes and love it. Plus, it's gotten a few people I know to at least listen to Butch that probably wouldn't normally do so. I didn't post this in the videos section because it would probably get shit on even more over there. Haha)
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Oops. I was reading this post again, and in case no one clicks on the link, the instore date, for the CD, is 2-23-10.


(Oh, and for anyone as stupid as me, the link to hear "Trash Day" on ew.com, which didn't come through in the copy/paste above (and is here), is after the article. The little headphones below the article where it says "EW Music", just click on the play button. Dur)

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Oh man, AWESOME on many levels. Can't wait to hear these samples - what sort of style is this project? More rocking this time round?


AND, more to the point... he's coming to Australia this year?! WOW!!! I better keep on top of that as I'd shoot myself if I missed that. Hey Jay, if you hear any info about Aussie dates can you let me know? Thanks mate.

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Unless Butch announces that he's reviving Southgang (yeah right), I just don't care anymore. His debut solo release was a decent slab of catchy pop rock (especially the song 'Suburbia'), but everything else since then has been all over the place. Pick a style Butch.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have tried many many times to get into his solo stuff. It just does nothing for me. Now Southgang on the other hand....classic!!

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I respect the guy and I did like the Marvelous 3 and the first solo cd, but since then, he's tried too hard to stay relevant thus leaving more fans in the dust than gaining new ones. I've sent him a few questions regarding Southgang related stuff and the messgae will say its been read, he never answer. I guess he's divorced himself from his past accomplishments... well... that's the feeling I get anyway.


I know Southgang was never "huge" or anything, but I know they have enough of a cult following to make a decent reunion type nostalgia tour with a few other bands. Hell... Trixter is doing it!!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ugh! Just ugh. I heard the songs about a week before the street date because there was a problem, the vinyl was released (or shipped) Feb. 9 and they didn't want the CD pre-buyers to get upset, so they sent everyone a digital copy of the album.


I wish they hadn't. I'd have had another week to believe this could be a great album. I got them at midnight, burned them to a disc and put them on my iPod, and listened to it in the car on the way to work the next day. So, I didn't listen to the album in its entirety, but by the time I got to work (12-15 minutes), I'd developed a negative opinion. I listened to the CD after work that day (well, after I was able to, but before I left) and finished the CD (on iPod) on the way home from work (and the following morning). After 2 listens through, I was not impressed at all. (Though, it did sound much better at work, blaring (as loud as I can blare it, anyway) over the speakers in my room.)


I didn't write a review right away because I'd intended to let it rest a few days and try it again. But, that didn't coincide well with the board being down. (Oh, and the fact that I had NO desire to listen to it again.)


I'll try to give it a shot again in a few days/weeks. I wasn't a fan of The Rise and Fall.... on first listen and it grew on me to the point that I enjoy all but 3 songs on the album. Sycamore Meadows had to compete against live versions I heard and all but Atlanta came out on the losing end, though the stuff I hadn't heard didn't do too poorly (other than Ponce de Leon Ave.), so I'm going to give this another shot. Whether the time off or maybe an eventual live show (and studying lyrics), I just couldn't get into this at all. It seems like Butch had a martini shaker and threw in as many different musical genres and instruments as he could and whatever came out, he used for a different song.


I've been one of the more adamant (huh huh, Adam Ant) Butch defenders around here. Maybe I'll end up finding some merit in this album, maybe I need to study more (lyrically), but I'm just incredibly disappointed. For anyone who has been put off by Butch's solo efforts, this won't change your mind. Those who are fans, maybe I'm wrong, but approach with caution. (I think he may have some songs on his MS page. Don't know.) Maybe the songs are better live (more rocking), but this album is sorely lacking.


Boy, for an artist I consider seminal (to my collection, anyway), that's WAY too many "maybes". I hope Butch continues to be happy making music that pleases him because he's even starting to drive away the hardcore fan from his new music.

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Wow, that doesn't sound good at all. :( I'll still give it a spin, but call me concerned. On another note, finally bought 'Rise and fall' over the weekend for a few dollars. I'd held off for so long but I have to admit that the more I heard the songs there more I found that were actually decent. Still not great, but I'll own it.

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Geoff, did you hear this yet? What was your opinion? (I tried to give this enough time before I listened again so as not to let my disappointment color my opinion. But, I'm not sure that happened. I did talk to a friend who said he didn't think it was that bad (or as bad as I'd described), so that's why I decided to give it another whirl now.)


Track by track breakdown (which sounds exactly like what I had as I listened to it):


Trash Day - A peppy little number which is not a bad opener. I wish it were more like an exception than a rule on the album though. It's got good songwriting (definitely poppy; rock? what's rock?), typically strong Butch lyrics, but it definitely didn't grab me and make me want to continue listening. (I can only imagine someone who's not a Butch fan hearing it and not a big pop person.)


Pretty Melody - A title which should give us a peek into Butch's songwriting/album-making mind. A title like that should lend to a good song (and not that this is bad, but again, not essential). I get a very Roy Orbison feel from this. (I don't know many Roy Orbison songs. I'm not that caught up on too many past artists/records. So, I could be mistaking this. But after hearing it and trying to focus in on a comparison, that's the best I can come up with.) Again, if this were more the exception than the rule, it would probably be much better received, at least by me, than it has been.


Don't You Think Someone Should Take You Home - With a title like this, this song could have been an epic 80s ballad. And it's a ballad for Butch. And actually, one of the few songs I really like on the album. But, with the album evoking a "dirge" feeling from me, the lack of zip 3 songs in is really bringing me down.


Stripped Down Version - OK, so this could totally be descriptive of a song from Letters. (If only!) Again, totally fine song. Reminds of an early 80s slow pop song; I hesitate to say early 80s pop ballad, but I don't know exactly how those compare. (I'd draw a parallel, but I'd probably be wrong. Hey Jim, where are you? haha) Actually a very laid back, solid song. It definitely goes with the tempo/theme of the first 4 songs. (SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW)


Canadian Ten - OMFG! Are you kidding me Butch? 5 slow songs in a row and this one definitely brings that dirge comment full circle. So slow and plodding, it's difficult to get past it to continue listening. Not a bad song. Reminds of something like a 70's singer/songwriter-ish (or current indie) song. You get the laid back, almost folky, vibe. (That's why the "la la" interlude in mid-song seems even more out of place.) But, despite any merits the song may have on its own, when put in the current rotation and order with the first 4 songs on this album, I'd mortgage a middle toe for something that rocks.


Temporary Title - Finally something upwardly paced. (Don't mistake, folks, that for rocking.) The drum beat is very reminiscent of "Uncomfortably Numb" from Letters. If only it could have had a quarter of what the rest of Uncomfortably Numb had. A very 70's vibe. I'm trying to place a similar song, but can't. Suffice to say, this would feel like, without words, right on tap in a 70's after school special, on "That 70's Show", or maybe even a (non-sex) scene in Taboo or one of those 70s porn movies (that I hear people talk about; I'd have no clue).


She Likes Hairbands - Slightly up-paced, compared to the first half of the album, typical Butch tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but as many of his lyrics are getting, seem more for the type of crowd he's drawing now more than those of us who followed him for years when he was doing the personal stuff. Not a horrible song, but nothing so great that it holds any value on its own other than a nice little chorus (particularly before the last chorus when it's just the voices and claps) and does NOTHING to redeem the value of the album at all.


House of Cards - Another up-tempo song. It's actually pretty nice on its own, both musically and lyrically. Similar to Temporary Title in that the beat kept by the drums reminded a bit of "Uncomfortably Numb", though much more in pace than anything else. But, it has merit. It could have been a piece to a much better paced album (particularly with the exclusion of a couple songs and a few real rockers/pop rockers thrown in).


They Don't Know What We Know - And this, dear friends, could be one of the tracks that gets excluded. Butch got his Dion/Meatloaf vibe going on in this track. It sounds painfully too close to a song that could be pulled off of the "Hairspray" soundtrack or like Frankie Avalon could have sung it in "Grease" instead of "Beauty School Drop-out". (Fuck you! I like Grease. That's how I knew that. :anon: )


Days/Months/Years - Here we go. More Butch experimentation. Again, has aspects that bring to mind a 50's song. (Not only the song/music, but the guitar style used in the "solo".) If I had a better knowledge of that era's music, I could probably draw a comparison, but alas, you'll have to draw your own. It's actually a kind of fun song. But not right after the last one. And I think it could have been left off the album. (Or could have been a throwaway add-on like "Get Stupid With You" from Left of Self-Centered.)


Be Good Until Then - This should be the most incredible track on the album, if not for years, because this is for his son. Starts out promising with the intro and first and second verses. Not as crazy about the refrain. And while the song has meaning layered upon meaning, it doesn't seem nearly as heartstring-tugging as I would have hoped. A good song, just not what I'd hoped for when I heard about the subject. (Maybe I've put him on an unreachable pedestal at that point. Or it was one he'd achieved earlier in his career, but with what he wants to do/effort he puts in, he can't get back there.)

Fixed Gears and Broken Hearts (Bonus Track) - Starts out and I'm instantly thinking "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt. It's got the Butch lyrical stamp and again, it's not a bad song. By now, I should be used to the fact that a rocker/pop-rocker isn't coming down the pike. However, end of the album or bonus-track, it's still a major disappointment.


Oh, and I refuse to review that POS Xmas in April track that he released with all pre-orders. 1:39. Really Butch? Fuck you!


Overall, maybe this isn't the train wreck I originally described, but it's also nowhere near not only the album I hoped for, but even an album that resembles anything about Butch's past. Letters was a largely acoustic/stripped down with many slower or personal songs, but Butch managed to craft his masterpiece of an album that still had places that rocked and wasn't so unevenly paced to go 1/2 slow, 1/2 peppy, then finishes slow. Maybe a better mix would have helped, but even if it's not quite as all over the place as I originally thought, it's like Butch threw a bunch of different musical styles in a tumbler and wrote a song in whatever style(s) he pulled out. (I'm sorry, I had that analogy in my head from when I first thought of doing a review and I just had to use it, regardless of how successful it was. HEY! I'm like Butch that way.)


There are only a few reviews, but an idea of what other folks are saying.

Metacritic review (compiled from 5 different reviews)


iTunes reviews


Amazon reviews


Rolling Stone review

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Nah, mate, haven't heard it yet... will make a point to do it asap, hopefully today. I'll be sure to let you know my thoughts too. :)

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Okay, here we go mate. My first impressions track by track:


Trash Day - Not a bad opener. I enjoyed this one a bit, even if it seems a little average coming from Butch. Not bad and nice to see it open uptempo. And in hindsight, after playing the full album this is one of the best songs on the CD. Which is not positive.


Pretty Melody - Haha @ the Roy Orbinson comparison... it's actually not a bad one. Wasn't wild about this, but again, after giving the whole album a run-through this is about as good as it gets. Decent chorus melody makes it okay... but it's not what you'd ideally expect from Butch.


Don't You Think Someone Should Take You Home - This one almost sounds like it could have come from 'Sycamore Meadows'. I don't love it, but it is without doubt one of the best on the CD. In fact, I think all three of the first songs are about the best there is on this CD.


Stripped Down Version - Another one that sounds like an out-take from the last album. Unspectacular but nice enough. The tempo of the CD has by this time become a real issue. Seriously, who the hell are the Black Widows and what do they actually do? :lol:


Canadian Ten - Sorry mate, just hate this one. Starts out nice enough, but the chorus, the horns, the 'La la la's... I can simply not even tolerate that. Hated this one.


Temporary Title - The combination of this and the last song is not a good one. More irritating 'La la la's and even some annoying 'Whoah whoah's thrown in too. :lol: WHat's not thrown in is a piece of nice music, a decent hook or chorus. This is a bad listening experience for me.


She Likes Hairbands - I have to admit this is actually one of the stronger tunes for me so far. Nice opening lines that actually got a smile on my face. Decent tune too, nice enough chorus. I don't mind this one.


House of Cards - Finding it hard to enjoy this one. A little more uptempo but no real hook to speak of. In time I could not mind it... but not into it at all yet.


They Don't Know What We Know - Nope, no... just cannot dig this. Not even if I try. There's just nothing here that resembles music I like. :(


Days/Months/Years - Pretty cool and entertaining enough story, but as a song? No, just doesn't work at all for me. As you say, Jay, there is stuff here that sounds like it's from an era of music I just have no relationship with... and by the sounds of this song it's for good reason. :lol:


Be Good Until Then - Agree with you, Jay. This should be great and starts out with promise, but I feel nothing when I hear this. The thing I love about the best of Butch is sitting there chilled to the bone listening to bare heart and soul. This just sounds average again. I wasn't moved even slightly. :(


Fixed Gears and Broken Hearts (Bonus Track) - Speaking of bonus tracks, this sounds like some throwaway acoustic ditty you might find at the end of a good album, as a sort of reprieve from the brutal assault of rock your ears have just been witness too. But sadly this is about as good as this album gets. An acoustic guitar and finger clicks... okay lyrics. Yeah, don't mean to be a broken record, but it doesn't gel with me at all.


Overall, this one is definitely down there with 'Rise and fall'. When that album came out I was all like WTF... what is this? Through the years I've become accustomed to the idea that the Marvelous 3 and first 2 solo CDs are a thing of a distant, distant past and I've tried to adapt. In time there were a few things from 'Rise and fall' I enjoyed and to be honest, I absolutely loved some of the stuff on 'Sycamore Meadows'. Very mellow, but also very well written at times too. The main problem I have here with this disc is that despite it really being, to be brutally honest, a musical nightmare at times... aside from that fact, I am not gripped by the lyrics on offer here, as I often am when it comes to Butch. As noted, this is the first spin for me and I'm sure I'll come around on certain songs here as there are about 4 I don't mind, but it's going to be a long road and I'm not sure how much I will bother this time. I've never been one to go out of my way to enjoy a CD that might not deserve it and it's not something I intend to make a habit of. I've persisted with Butch before because of the genius I know he has to offer... but this one sounds like a very, very average, almost tired offering from Butch.

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^Agreed Geoff. I've supported and pushed for Butch for so many years. In spite of things I haven't agreed with right away, or at all, I'm still stumped for support. But this makes it too difficult for ME, let alone bring along others.


I hope he takes some time off before the next one and doesn't half-ass another album. Maybe I'll grow to like this too, but I'm too old (and have far too much music I like instantly, to try to WORK to like any more of his music).

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Yeah, I was reading through those reviews you posted too and one of them said how the album sounds like it was recorded in 48 hours and he could go into the studio and pump out another one just like it. I kind of agree with that. There really just doesn't seem to be much effort put into this CD. It sounds like messing around in the studio rather than actually going in there with intention to make some good music that fans will enjoy.


But then again, many of those reviews you posted were quite positive, so maybe it's just us? :lol:

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^ In my heart of hearts, as much as I'd like to believe that's true and that we'll grow to love this one, or at least that he half-assed this one and the NEXT one will be awesome, I know this is how I feel at this point in time, that the "48 hours" comment is true because he could crank out another album's worth of shit in another 48 hours, and that I don't have very high hopes for the next CD unless someone gets through to him that it's not about quantity, but quality.


*When I read that exact same review/comment, I had the very same thought.

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  • 2 months later...

Saw Butch in concert a few weeks ago and he played 3 or 4 songs from this album live. Other than the "woo hoo" part of "Hairbands", it was pretty good. "Trash Day" wasn't bad either. "Pretty Melody" wasn't horribly out of place there, although he definitely could have rocked it up more with a different song from a different album.


I started to revisit the album this past week (on the iPod on the way to work). It seemed to be going decently. (I guess I could say I wasn't as massively disappointed with it as I had been), but after 4 or 5 songs, that wore off and I switched to something else again. (I've been in a big Wig Wam way the past week or two.)


I really do hope Butch is done "evolving" as an artist and will either go back to rocking like with M3 and the first solo or he will go back to what made his "solo" new fans happy (I think he succeeded pretty well with (obviously) Letters, but Rise & Fall, and Sycamore Meadows too). The days of anticipating a new Butch release have been so long ago (with each new disappointment, regardless of how much I may end up liking it in the future) that I almost forget what it's like. At least he still doesn't disappoint live; he'll always rock it out there!

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