Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For ALL my friends who have ears

If you've known me any length of time at all, you've probably heard me gush and blather senselessly about my favorite band, the fairly-obscure British quartet called Porcupine Tree. I first discovered them when I was running an online radio station about ten years ago, and since then I've only loved them more and more as time goes by. Here is a very brief, quick introduction to them, thanks to YouTube. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ, JUST SKIP TO THE LINKS BELOW FOR A "QUICK FIX." PLEASE, GIVE THEM A LISTEN! Over the years, Porcupine Tree's sound has ranged very broadly, covering everything from the underground metal scene to psychedelia to electronica to alt-pop. But through their entire history there is a continuous, steady sense of respect for music not just as amusement but as genuine art. In this age when even a four-minute song is too long and demanding for the stunted attention span of the average listener, Porcupine Tree does not cater to the merely-average listener. They are one of the few bands who don't just write songs; they craft entire, cohesive albums -- complete works with a sense of unity and direction, with a cohesive theme both musically and lyrically. They have written albums telling an emotionally griping ghost story (2005's "Deadwing"), albums about serial killers and others who lack a conscience (2002's "In Absentia"), and the devastating impact that hyper-exposure to media and technology has on kids (2007's "Fear Of A Blank Planet"). Their new studio album, "The Incident" (which is just now hitting store shelves), addresses how media reports dehumanize life-altering events by depersonalizing them -- horrific tragedies are reduced to mere "incidents." Porcupine Tree attempts to inject humanity back into a few such events, while interweaving poignant autobiographical vignettes from band leader Steven Wilson's own life. "Time Flies" is the first video from "The Incident", and breaks the somber mood of much of the album with dreamy, romanticized lyrics: "I was born in '67, the year of Sargeant Pepper, and Are You Experienced..." "Time Flies" by Porcupine Tree http://ping.fm/gE0vc Their previous album, 2007's "Fear of A Blank Planet", dealt with how a mix of technology, media saturation, and excessive medication are ruining the lives of kids today. The title track sums up the album's theme. Here is the video. "Fear of A Blank Planet" by Porcupine Tree http://ping.fm/qIhvo The track "Way Out of Here" addresses the desperate longing for escape from the numbness and stress. "Way Out of Here" by Porcupine Tree http://ping.fm/0Pjzg For a rather jarring change of pace, going back ten years to their 1999 album "Stupid Dream" you find a more playful -- but no less meaningful -- side of Porcupine Tree. Their song "Piano Lessons" addresses the shattering of idealism and naiveté through a cynical girl who teaches piano. The video flirts with the absurd, the psychedelic, and a touch of steampunk sensibilities. "Piano Lessons" by Porcupine Tree http://ping.fm/O3yMK And finally, a live performance of one of their most beautiful, romantic songs, "Trains" from their 2002 album "In Absentia." This performance is from their live DVD "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here." "Trains" (live) by Porcupine Tree http://ping.fm/4ZFdm Karrin and I will be seeing Porcupine Tree live at the Moore Theatre in Seattle tonight, Tuesday, September 15th. I got advance tickets through the exclusive fan club, and expect we'll probably be right up front by the stage like when I saw them in 2007. I can't wait! FOR MORE ON PORCUPINE TREE: Their official website: http://ping.fm/UYgKG Follow them (and hear/see more) on MySpace: http://ping.fm/hQb8c

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