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A Crow Left of the Murder

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★★★★☆
(550 Reviews)

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Kicking in like a compellingly acrimonious version of Rush (”Megalomaniac”) before meandering through what can rather uncomfortably be termed noodly, time-signature lottery jazz-metal terrain A Crow Left of Murder probably identifies Incubus as the average Pearl Jam fan’s second-choice for chin-stroking mosh action. Brendon O’Brien (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) produces and singer Brandon Boyd possibly fancies himself as a bit of a Vedder-esque sage, even blustering ”My secret arsenal is an infinite ageless ink well” on the otherwise acceptable metal squawk of ”Pistola”. Boyd obviously has big issues with the ills of the world but the lyrics to ”Talk Show on Mute” (reality TV is bad, especially Big Brother) and ”Zee Deveel” (nice cars, nice clothes and other status symbols are bad) say nothing to enhance mankind’s understanding of these twin evils. Incubus are probably on firmer ground with ”Made for TV Movie” (like ”Megalomaniac” it’s an anti-War-on-Terror diatribe) and musically they’re to be applauded for sidestepping the prescripted expectations of the metal genre they’ve been saddled with. Ultimately, however, one’s enjoyment of this record swings on whether one considers Brandon Boyd’s societal musings to be deeply venerable discourse or just soppy waffle. –Kevin Maidment

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  • This is a very difficult album for Incubus to make. Despite securing a quality bassist in Ben Kenney to replace Dirk Lance, losing a founding member and longtime friend impedes the chemistry of previous albums and leaves the band with the daunting task of creating a new, working formula. With “A Crow Left of…” the band delves into semi-new waters, displaying some maturity in both lyrical and musical content. Unfortunately, gone are the refreshing percussion elements of djembe, dijeridoo, bongos; the trippy, unique, drawn-out instrumental track openings (replaced by more standard, mid-song instrumentals); the positivity credo of “Don’t let the world bring you down”; the necessary D.J. interplay. Brought to the table is more sophisticated guitar work; more soul-searching and disconcerting lyrics; a new vibe. You can’t blame them for putting emotions on their sleeves. Despite the fact that the album is solid overall, I believe the true creative talent of Incubus is better harnessed with a kickback, mellow vibe in the hills of Malibu overlooking the ocean than in the Lollapalooza tour bus and a Hot-lanta studio. Incubus is true music by true artists. They are absolutely amazing in every facet.

    Posted on March 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Wow, This cd is amazing. A complete cultral blast of sorts. I love Incubus and all their forms. I’ve seen them, sadly only once, during the crow left of murder tour, when the guys graciously visited Philedelphia at the wac. Sick show. This is a great record, and my personal favorite.

    MEGOLAMANIAC
    The uncompromised, unruley, political bash, that is the album opener, blasts through your eardrums at an amazing rate, ditchotomizing it’s time between the melodic verse, and the thrashy chorus. Hardcore song, Amazing.

    A CROW LEFT OF THE MURDER
    With the melotic, wistful second track comes a pleasent vibration of song. Good, but not the best.

    AGORAPHOBIA
    With the soulfull observation of discomfort, Brandon sings of the governments control. “I don’t wanna stay inside, for good”

    TALK SHOWS ON MUTE
    A soical comment on the state of the species, possibly, but a good song none the less. Seems as an odd choice of a single, if you ask me.

    BEWARE!CRIMINAL
    Unadulturated funky bliss of song, this is Beware!Criminal. Sick Rock song…Great!!!!!!!!!!!

    SICK SAD LITTLE WORLD
    Anger could never be so beatiful. Brandon bellows his heart over Mike’s riprockin guitar. The lyrics are great, and the music is executed to perfect, bravo!!

    PISTOLA
    Hard rock at it’s finest!! Great message here. Violence may solve nothing, but words have a way fight the power!!

    SOUTHERN GIRL
    Love masks the air, in this beatiful airy ballad.

    PRICELESS
    Ahh, the sweet scent of revenge occupies this lyrical assault. Finnaminal drum work here. Dude, I can’t spell.

    ZEE DEVEEL
    Materialism is wrong, I reiterate in my nike sneakers, as I sip Pepsi. Great Message. Amazing lyrics, blasted forth with a raw emotion over a combination of technical brillance. My favorite song on the disc, just plain great.

    MADE FOR TV MOVIE
    To me this is just adverage, I mean its a good song but doesn’t fit the cirtiria of it’s peers.

    SMILE LINES
    Good upbeat song with an awrkward capability of genious.

    HERE IN MY ROOM
    OOOO, He’s talkin’ about sex. Good song. Some desent mtaphors, accompany the beatiful piano and reddundant preccusion.

    LEECH
    Thats right, an angery assault finishes the beatiful album. Good song, very true. Screw the posers, Screw me.

    Great album, Comendible effort!!

    Posted on March 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The so-called fans rant. The nu-metal crowd begins a revolt. I pick up the new disc and let it play and feel like the only one in a thousand who just loves watchin it go around and enjoys the music as music. Incubus dumped the aggro-rock, and if that was their best attribute, we should all be upset. Fortunately, it is obvious by their latest release “A Crow Left of the Murder” that the band, even with the sudden line-up change after so many successful albums, has become a modern rock band that writes music to write music and to express themselves. I don’t say this like this is my first incubus album. I own most of them, the valiantly creative SCIENCE, the triumph of nu-metal Make Yourself and the morph to friendly radio Morning View. The band never ceases to go new places, the replacement of funky rhythmic beats instead of crashing guitars finds old band doing new songs. They seem to have flawlessly changed again, the mid-tempo grooves of the beginning of the cd are some of the best Incubus moments since “Stellar” and “A Certain Shade of Green”. This album is even lighter on the ears than anything the band has done before, but Brandon seems at his best crooning to succinct guitar melodies and funk-style backbeats.The journey through and out of nu-metal is a voyage that most bands couldn’t make out alive. However, tracks like the beautiful “Southern Girl”, the soulfulesque “Agoraphobia” are reminders that songs like “Echo” off the last record were not merely flukes of acoustic genius. If it isn’t the band you have come to know and love, maybe you should come to know and love this one. I wouldn’t suggest that this cd will flood the airwaves with sappy garbage, Incubus still retains the flavor that makes them a rock band. “Beware Criminal!” finds a catchy chorus that makes you relive the glory days of songs from the old records. Overall the guitars have dropped down another notch and every other element has taken over to make up for it. The vocals are superb, Brandon shows range, versitility as well as the encompassing knowledge of where he can take the band vocally. Although mellowing out was a slow and almost painless process, the band is still reaching out in new directions. The 6 minute long “Sick sad little world” is quirky and driven by the chorus which features no roaring guitars but is driven by drum work. The track is interesting and breaks down in the middle to an instrumental interlude. The band is pushing what they can do while avoiding the nu-metal crowd. I appreciate that in the band, this effort is a well done song and fits in with the more laid back titles. The feel-good “Pistola” is a great piece to throw in the middle of the work. It roars along fast and keeps the tempo from dropping to the horrible word that music this soft often goes towards: boring. However, Incubus is almost reinventing the wheel with this album. The wheel is the fragments of nu-metal that have been further shattered by such an outright attempt at creativity by a band that has always proven to be good at doing what it does. Incubus even takes a moment to throw in a track that could have been on the last record, “Made for TV Movie”. The smooth chorus and guitar riff flow like normal Incubus. They haven’t shifted too much from their efforts of the past in all aspects. The lead single “Megalomaniac” made it sound like there would be more to like that sounded similar to Morning View. It’s a great track but merely a great opener for the real album. Give the album a chance to be the album it is. If we were all to dwell in the past efforts we aren’t even choosing to see the highlights of this album. If all you want is the same Incubus from their other albums why don’t you go buy yourself another copy of Morning View or SCIENCE and pretend that it’s their new disc. A band with this much promise doesn’t stop evolving so fans who can’t cope with the new music can keep listening to their favorite band from years ago. This album is different. This album is thought provoking. Who knows, this may be the album of the “sell-out” but this is Incubus. If you don’t like it go live in a little box and listen to SCIENCE and dream about the “good ol’ days”. I own the last four Incubus albums and enjoy them all, this one is definitly no exception. If you truly like Incubus, run out and get this album. If you like good music, run out and get this album. If you choose to think that Incubus is ripping off STP and Brandon whines then sell this album to someone who will appreciate it. Guess we know who the real fans are now.

    Posted on March 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • What is this nonsense I keep reading about the album being bad? In what way is it possibly bad? Yes, it is vastly different to S.C.I.E.N.C.E, but great bands grow and evolve just like all good things. So I’m gonna try and defend the changes here.

    Ben Kenny: You may have loved Dirk Lance, he was a fantastic bassist. However, Ben Kenny is a better musician (shown to the full on the DVD, “Alive at the Red Rocks”). He adds a totally new dimension to Incubus because he manages to create brand new chords and sonic ambience. Incubus have always been about experimentation, especially live. Ben Kenny adds to that in a way which I don’t think Dirk Lance ever did.

    DJ Kilmore: Stop having a go at him! Just because he doesn’t do scratching all the time doesn’t mean he’s not doing anything! He works to create a scope which you would notice quite a lot if it weren’t there.

    Brandon: He’s writing catchy lyrics so people say he’s sold out. WTF? I’m sorry, but why, every time a band starts writing better songs, which more people will like, do all these narrow minded idiots come out the woodwork to insult original, effective, quality work?

    The mix: It’s not overproduced, like so much is today. So what you get on the album is what you here live. It’s fantastic! What you’e hearing is Incubus playing, not loads of effects and compression.

    The songs: are great. They aren’t bad. How are they bad? I’ve read that they all sound the same. Well they don’t – in fact, I don’t know too many more albums as diverse as this. All the songs on Fungus Amongus sound the same – don’t get me wrong it’s good, but it’s good for a bunch of 17 year olds. S.C.I.E.N.C.E songs are very similar bar 2, so how people can complain, I don’t know.

    This is one of the most fantastic albums of the year. Don’t let those who are stuck in the past get to your heads. BUY THIS ALBUM!!

    Posted on March 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I wrote this review for a Literature class at school._______________________Many mainstream listeners will know of the Southern Californian band Incubus only for their pop-rock radio hits Drive and Wish You Were Here. The band has much more to offer, however, and prove this once again with their latest studio release A Crow Left of the Murder. Yet again Incubus has lived up to guitarist Mike Einziger’s rock and roll philosophy that “if you make the same record twice, even if everyone likes it, you’ve failed.” It is Incubus’ admirable ability to reinvent itself with each record that keeps the hardcore fans coming back for more.For this latest effort, they worked with critically acclaimed producer Brendan O’Brien of Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam fame. The influence of O’Brien is clearly heard on A Crow Left of the Murder, with the album managing to capture the raw energy and sound of a live show, without sounding messy or under-produced. The lyrical content of the songs is also reminiscent of Rage and Pearl Jam, but whether or not this can be attributed to O’Brien or simply the current political climate is debatable. The opening track and first single, Megalomaniac, is a politically charged rocker that has front man Brandon Boyd calling out to George W. Bush and co. `Hey megalomaniac/You’re no Jesus/Yeah you’re no f***in Elvis/Wash your hands clean of yourself baby and/Step down, step down’. While Megalomaniac breaks little new ground for Incubus, it is the perfect way to bridge the gap between the group’s previous release, Morning View(2001) and A Crow Left of the Murder.While the first five tracks of A Crow Left of the Murder threaten but never quite explode, it is only when we reach track six, Sick Sad Little World, that the potential Incubus had been hinting at with the previous tracks is finally realised. Sick Sad Little World is a six and a half minute rock-funk odyssey and quite possibly the best song Incubus has written over its thirteen year career, combining a signature Mike Einziger guitar riff with intricate drumming, a killer bass line, ample atmosphere from the turntables and Boyd crooning about a character who could quite possibly be based on departing bassist Dirk Lance. `The world is a drought when out of love/Please come back to us/You’re all of the above/”I’m making a choice to be out of touch, leave me be” he said/”Leave me here in my stark raving sick sad little world!”‘ The song is completed with a two minute Einziger solo reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, moving from haunting and intricate to just plain crazy.A Crow Left of the Murder seems to be a fusion of Incubus’ former efforts, and the most obvious reminder of this is track nine, Priceless, which could have been lifted straight off the 1997 release S.C.I.E.N.C.E. While not a personal favourite, the almost schizophrenic guitar riff and rap-rock singing style, as well as yet another masterful Einziger solo will appeal to fans of Incubus’ earlier works. Not all the tracks on A Crow Left of the Murder are hard rockers, however. Southern Girl is a love-sick ballad that sees Boyd lamenting `You’re an exception to the rule/A bonafide rarity/You’re all I ever wanted/Southern girl/Could you want me?’ The band also explore the softer side of things with the experimental track Here In My Room, incorporating a piano for the first time in any Incubus release.A Crow Left of the Murder bubbles with social and political commentary, with Boyd voicing his opinions most prominently on America’s involvement in the war on Iraq in a cryptic, poetic manner, as well as a few tracks which could be written about Incubus’ previous bassist, Dirk Lance, who left the band shortly after the conclusion of the Morning View tour at the end of 2002. Replacement bassist Ben Kenney, formerly of the Roots, joined the band for the Lollapalooza tour (2003) and proves himself to be more than competent on A Crow Left of the Murder. The element that appears to be missing from A Crow Left of the Murder is the scratching provided by turntablist DJ Kilmore. While he provides ample atmosphere and interesting sound effects, the absence of the scratching heard on S.C.I.E.N.C.E, Make Yourself (1999) and to a lesser extent Morning View will be a disappointment to many hardcore Incubus fans. A Crow Left of the Murder is from start to finish a sonic journey that will please most current Incubus fans and no doubt convert a few mainstream rock listeners to the more experimental sound of a band who refuses to bow to public pressure when writing their music. It doesn’t quite live up to the brilliance of the breakthrough album Make Yourself, but A Crow Left of the Murder does a hell of a job in trying. As Boyd appropriately asks in the final track, Leech, `The ride’s over/Did you enjoy yourself?’I certainly did.

    Posted on March 7, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now