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The 7 - Music - CD REVIEW: Blue October "Argue With a Tree"
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kazhayashi81
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#1 Posted on 6.3.05 0323.42
Reposted on: 6.3.12 0325.37
Posting this on all the boards I frequent

Yeah, this was for another board, but I figured might as well post it here too. Who knows, might get someone to check them out, and that can only be good things.

CD REVIEW: Blue October "Argue With a Tree" Live Double-Disc
Recorded: Lakewood Theatre, Dallas, TX, June 4th, 2004

I've had this disc for almost 3 months now, listened to it a countless number of times, but upon hearing that it was receiving a national release, decided to write a review in hopes that someone gives these guys a chance, cause they deserve it.

The first disc starts off very strong with the spoken word intro of 2000's Consent to Treatment disc, "Retarded Disfigured Clown", the pop the intro receives beats any reaction you'll hear on RAW these days. As it finishes, the first song, "Amnesia" begins. You can tell right away the acoustics are great in the venue, as everything sounds amazing. The lead guitar might be a little too understated, in regards to the violin work and the drums, but it sounds great regardless. Justin Furstenfeld's captivating stage presence comes through right away, and keeps you hooked throughout the entire performance. Even though the song is very intense, it's got an uplifting feeling when Justin asks the crowd "But life goes on, right!? It goes on, right!? I've learned it goes on....", and the speed of the drums give the song a completely upbeat feeling. Also, C.B. Hudson's guitar solo is great. He adds a lot to the song, as he wasn't in the band when the song was originally started. The crowd singing one of the verses shows that for a smaller level band, they have an amazing fan base, and it's the beginning of a very special night.

"Independently Happy" is the next track performed. The crowd being completely into the band and the song show through here, as they yell the line "She lives in Oklahoma City, far away from me!" Although it's kind of a random line for the audience to quote, it shows their enthusiasm, which hasn't waned at all. Hudson's work in this is much more muted than the previous, but it works just as well with the theme of the song, as the guitar is not a big part. It just helps the song flow. The crowd also comes alive when Justin tells them to "tear the fucking roof down!" The performance is just amazing so far, even though I'm not a big fan of the song's original studio recording, the crowd responds so well that I infinitely prefer this version to the version on Consent to Treatment.

They segue into "HRSA", which refers to Justin committing himself to undergo a mental evaluation, which happened on October 29th, 1997, as he mentions before the band starts playing. One of my favorite songs by the band, and they absolutely kill. Justin's lyrics on instability just resonate so well. Musically, the song belongs to their violinist, Ryan Delahoussaye, and he just shreds all song. It's a great, great rock song, only with a violinist playing the role of lead guitar.

"Drop" follows, and it's the first song to really take advantage of Ryan's and bassist(at the time, she's since left the group) Piper Dagnino's backing vocals, which get pulled off extremely well. The song is just such an upbeat song, it doesn't matter how depressing the lyrics are(and they kind of are), you'll have your head nodding, and feel good. Most of Blue's music is feel good music, if not necessarily happy music.

"It all started, and then it ended... with one big lie!" leads into their next song, and the first off 2003's History for Sale, "Sexual Powertrip(One Big Lie) Bla Bla". The song is another upbeat, this one almost punky, song, with almost darkly comic lyrics about lying and sex, and sex and lying. The ending refrain "Can you show me how to treat someone? I don't recall ever learning how, because I keep fucking up.... I keep fucking up!" is very strong, and very relatable if you've been in a relationship.

Up next is a "scary kinda love song", "Clumsy Card House". It's also the first time the band does a downbeat song. The lyrics are actually very sweet, if kind of stalker-ish, offering to stay by your side forever, because he wants to fall in love with you. Ryan's violin doubles as a mandolin, and he picks the primary riff, and sets the tone for the song. A song that will make you smile, especially when he asks you to "please believe in heroes". The song does get heavier in the breakdown, and it brings it at just the right time, to remind you that this is a fucking rock and roll show.

They play the first song off of 1997's self-released The Answers, "Blue Sunshine", a ballad about drug use and probably depression, too. Ryan's violin work in this song is EXQUISITE. You truly feel for Justin as he sings these extremely heartfelt but twisted lyrics. The intensity in his voice and lyrics is unmatched today, and probably a strong reason why their follow, albeit small, is very committed. You'll feel everything on a Blue October album, or at a live show.

"Balance Beam" follows. A much happier song, it's about a first date, first kiss. "It's about a girl, that I hardly even know... so this is not another love song, just a list of things that I should know... and everyone should know that." The checklist of things you have to do on the first date, besides being alarmingly true, are very romantic at their core, and it's just a great, great fucking love song. The mandolin and violin work is once again phenomenal, and the entire song just has this very happy vibe that will make you smile. If this song doesn't make you smile, you have no heart.

One of the few songs I'd call boring by Blue October, "A Quiet Mind", follows. I might like this song more if I understood the lyrics, but alas, I do not, and as of so far, it's been a down point in the album. But considering how fucking great the album's been so far, a small down point is OK.

"Inner Glow" gets a good response from the crowd, and for great reason, it's an amazing mid-tempo rock song. The crowd also sings along with the entire song, screaming along with the lines "Here's a preview, shove it under old/new, call it rock, or pop, or Bach, or... fuck! God damn, where did we go wrong, now there's a category for every song!" The line will resonate with anyone who has ever heard two music nerds argue whether a band is indie, noise rock, progressive, post-punk, etc. Just a great, great song, one that had a lot of single potential, but label mismanagement pretty much made History for Sale a one-single release.

A song about the difficulty to share yourself completely with the person you love, "Ugly Side" is next on the disc. It's a slower paced song, but definitely not a ballad. The guitar work steals the show on this song, as Hudson's understated playing shines, as he can go from a Santana-esque riff to pure rock crunch without flinching. A nice mid-tempo song, but not a show-stealer, but that's ok, because it's followed by one.

IMO, one of the best ballads ever written about depression and loneliness, "Black Orchid", follows. Justin starts the song telling the crowd how he'd play the songs he wrote for his mother when he was younger, and this was one of the most personal confessions he'd ever made. The song is an amazing song, with lyrics generally more accessible than some of their others, and it needs to be, because this song will make you feel something. It's that strong. And the fact that Justin practically breaks down into tears as he performs it is really moving. It's.. you just have to hear it. It's an astonishing way to finish the first disc.

The second disc begins with "For My Brother", which he asks his brother, drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld, to sing with him. It's another show stealer, and one that will definitely touch you if you have a sibling, or someone that you can relate to in that sense. It chronicles his brother helping him when he's feeling insecure and needs a refocusing. And the person he went for advice was his brother. With Jeremy singing along with him, there are no drums for the song. And it makes it stronger than the album version. Another great, great track.

A single off of Consent to Treatment, "Breakfast After 10", follows. And it's a much happier song, even if it's kind of bitter lyrically, about a relationship not going to last. It's a fairly non-offending song, but still very nice. Mostly acoustic, as opposed to the muted guitar work on the album. And it works that way too. The crowd is definitely into this song. And it's just kind of happy and rebellious, and you gotta love it.

The biggest hit the band's ever had, "Calling You", a soundtrack cut off of American Wedding, follows. It's a sugary sweet love song, but written with Justin's intensity. This song had #1 hit all over it, and was GIFT WRAPPED to Universal, and they dropped the fucking ball. I don't get that. But I do get the song. Very, very fun.

"This here is for a good time, so everybody get off of your asses" kicks off Italian Radio, which might be the most upbeat song they've ever done. Just super-super fun. Hudson's guitar solo in this is just SO FUCKING AMAZING. Too great for words.

Justin introduces C.B. Hudson, and tells the story of how they wrote the next track "Somebody". Essentially a "Fuck You" to the music industry after being dropped by Universal. And after he cues CB to play the opening riff, you know you're in for something special. The riff is really muted but ESPECIALLY heavy. This is a motherfucking hard rock song, and Justin tells the crowd to "wake the fuck up!" And it is a fuck you to the industry. Just bitter, brilliant... "I only wanted to be somebody, so fucking bad I came unglued, I only wanted to be somebody, now here we are, face to face, and I'm fucking you!"

The song about abuse, molestation.. "Razorblade" starts next, and it starts with just Justin.. as he sings, the crowd starts to sing along with him, and by the time he reaches the end of the chorus, and the band starts playing, the crowd is doing the singing for him.... This might be the most intense song I've ever heard. This fucking song will move you. "In a way I failed religion, I spit my wine from out the cup, and I reached for something more than just your guard. Although you spared not your children, while your praying hands were up, there's no forgiveness for you, you sick fuck!" The entire song is just so... warped, and very very intense.

Justin calls this next song perhaps the most personal song he's ever written, and mentions in the last year, he's lost 5 friends to substance abuse. The song is "Chameleon Boy", dealing with his guilt to not help his friends enough. "Here comes excuses, why I let you down..." Another very, very good song. And you can once again really feel with him as he's singing. If he could make the mainstream feel with him, if they could just get some exposure, trust me, they'd be HUGE.

He explains the next song far better than I ever could... "I know that there's some issues in life that you've just gotta let go, and I've never been able to, so tonight, after this song, I'm just letting this shit go. This is a song about anger, this is a song about revenge, this is a song about hurting someone's feelings so bad.... This song is for you, James, one last time." and they launch into "James", which was a minor radio hit off Consent to Treatment. And it is another intense, angry fucking rock song. James, as I understand it, was his former best friend who fucked his girl behind his back, and this song was the response to that, and the end of their friendship. It's a vicious mindfuck of a song, too.

Up next is the acoustic ballad about a lack of self-confidence, "Amazing". A very sad song, one of the saddest played of the night. It's done to perfection, the crowd feels it, you know. It's a continuance of a great fucking concert.

Up next is probably the lead single off their next album, "Weight of the World". It's very personal... and about his family being disappointed in him. First time I heard it, I cried. If this is released, and finds any kind of radio play, it will be a hit. It's that powerful.

Another track that will probably be on the next album is "PRN". Although it is just a violin solo by Ryan, it's fucking phenomenal musicianship. Just... very, very wow.

"Come In Closer" assumably closes the album. It's kind of dark.. kind of electronic. Really great. It's mainly a vocal exercise by Justin on the live version, but his very particular voice sounds great in the song. Kind of a weird song to end it with, but who gives a fuck. It's been a great, great concert. Just the type of stuff you could listen to all the time.

There is a bonus track, but it's just 2 minutes long, and it's not a great song.. IMO, Come in Closer should've been the final song. It made it work so much better.

BOTTOM LINE:
I bought the double disked CD and the DVD at the same time, and I can't say enough about both(trust me, would I have written this much if I didn't fucking LOVE the thing?) Just check these guys out if you like any kind of rock music. They can rock your socks off or make you cry with a ballad. Phenomenal musicianship, Justin's voice adds so much to the music, and his lyrics might be some of the best in music. Not overly cloaked pretentious masturbation, but a definite poetry in what he writes. The DVD has yet another song("18th Floor Balcony", Radio Interviews, and Justin talking about writing some of the songs.

The CD's probably not more than 13 bucks most places, and it's a double disc. BUY THE MOTHERFUCKER.

CD AVALIABLE AT:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0007QCLAY/qid=1110097840/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-8044744-8327916?v=glance&s=music&n=507846
Best Buy: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?j=1&id=1418684&skuId=7013563&type=product
Circuit City: http://entertainment.circuitcity.com/Music/Album.aspx?p_id=P+++384041&a_id=R+++731916&prodid=BNO5324.2
Target: http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=8-11/qid=1110098025/ref=sr_8_11/602-5613399-1206200?%5Fencoding=UTF8&asin=B0007QCLAY

DVD AVALIABLE AT:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0006TU4VA/qid=1110097840/sr=8-4/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i3_xgl74/104-8044744-8327916?v=glance&s=dvd&n=507846
Best Buy: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=7013572&type=product&id=1420608
Circuit City: http://entertainment.circuitcity.com/Music/Album.aspx?p_id=P+++384041&a_id=R+++731925&prodid=BNO5324DVD
Target: http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=8-1/qid=1110098049/ref=sr_8_1/602-5613399-1206200?%5Fencoding=UTF8&asin=B0006TU4VA

You can also get either, or both together(as I did after Christmas) at their official store: http://store.bandwear.com/Merchant2/agent.mv?AG=wrappers-blueoctober&SC=CTGY&S=Bandwear&C=blueoctober


(edited by kazhayashi81 on 6.3.05 0324)
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