This is the disc that got me back into the Deftones. My friend Cindy told me about an upcoming show (which just passed and which I could not attend, boo), and since I didn’t know that had a new album out, I ordered it and was really really impressed by it. Diamond Eyes was an amazing culmination of all of their previous successes and Koi No Yokan (which means “Premonition Of Love”) takes it one step further. They’re moving away somewhat from the really heavy sounds, and yet there is heaviness aplenty, both in Chino’s screams and in Stephen’s guitars. Indeed, the album opens with big loud guitars–letting you know that they can still rock.
Then “Swerve City” shifts to cool swirling verses. It’s not as extreme as earlier songs but it’s one of my favorites that they’ve done. The piercing guitar solo is great. “Romantic Drams” has some of their more complex guitar lines mixed with a vocal line. The bridge is bright and leads to a really catchy chorus. There’s some really tight stop-on-a-dime moments as well. “Leathers” pounds open with some bludgeoning chords and Chino’s screams (see, they haven’t gone soft), and then a great soaring bridge–a great hard/soft song, especially when the chorus kicks in at it’s almost inquisitive. “Poltergeist” opens with hand claps and then some heavy loud guitars and bass.
“Entomed” presents another beautiful shimmery guitar introduction. It’s one of their most delicate songs with the soaring chorus “shapes and colors are all I see.” I can’t believe this song wasn’t a hit. Why didn’t they release that as a single? “Graphic Nature” has some great angular guitars but it smooths out into a cool song with some great basslines in it (Sergio Vega shines on this disc and even helped write some of the songs). “Tempest” is one of those great songs where Chino sings at a different pace than the music–which I always like. There’s a big heavy section about 4 minutes in that gives the song an extra boost. “Gauze” has a heavy off-kilter guitar riff (with some really interesting keyboard blasts–Frank Delgado proving indispensable). There’s a dark bridge and splashes of really heavy guitar throughout.
“Rosemary” is nearly seven minutes long and is has multiple parts. It opens with some great echoey guitars. And then the heavier guitars kick in chugging along while Chino’s voice soars over it. By about five minutes the song gets really heavy and chromatic, rocking along until it suddenly stops and is replaced by a gentle guitar and keyboard passage. “Goon Squad” opens similarly to how “Rosemary” ends (in fact the end of “Rosemary” feels more like the beginning of “Goon Squad”) with quietly strummed guitar and swooshing keyboards. There’s some cool weird screams that are layered in the mix of sounds. Late in the song there’s a simple guitar solo that reminds me of Alex Lifeson. Complex drumming (Abe Cunningham is still amazing) opens a very jazzy flavored final song “What Happened to You?” Chino’s falsetto is in full effect and the song feels like a springboard to new styles of exploration on future records.
This album is really amazing. It may not be as diverse as White pony but it’s more cohesive and it really highlights what a staggering good band Deftones have become. I’m rather bummed that I missed that show.
[READ: March 13, 2013] Friends with Boys
Sarah had this book lying around for a while. I had meant to read it because it sounded cool (and she said it was very good), but I never did. Then she grabbed it again because it’s on a list of books she wants to read. It was sitting on the table and I realized that the author (whose name is very very hard to read on the cover) was Faith Erin Hicks who wrote Zombies Calling, a book I enjoyed very much. Now she’s on First Second Books (a favorite publisher of graphic novels) with this really great story.
I have one gripe I need to get out of the way. The title is terrible for the story. According to the drawings in the back of the book, it appears the original title was The Education of Maggie McKay which was an overdone idea at this point, but which actually makes more sense than Friends with Boys. The title made me think that the story was about a tomboy who gets older and realizes that she can’t hang out with boys the same way. That is certainly a part of the story, but the full story is far more complex–a girl who has been homeschooled all her life finally goes to high school, where she learns to make friends. Oh, and there’s a ghost following her around too. So you see, Friends with Boys, while an engaging title I think does it a disservice.
But that’s neither here nor there. Because the story is really excellent.
Maggie is the youngest of four kids. Her oldest brother is a senior in high school, her two other brothers are twins. All of the kids were homeschooled until high school and now it’s Maggie’s turn to head to school, too. Maggie’s father is the local chief of police and their mother has…left. [There's a lot of open-ended issues in this story, issues that are never resolved or even directly addressed. This book could be a lot longer or could have a sequel with no problem]. On her first day of school she walks (by herself as a rite of passage) through the graveyard across the street from their house, where she runs into the ghost who has been following her for ages. The woman is sad, bereft and completely uncommunicative–she can’t tell Maggie what is bothering her. And lately, she seems to be harassing Maggie more intently.
But Maggie doesn’t have time to think about that. Because when she gets to school she realizes that she knows no one. But there’s one girl, Lucy, with piercings and a shaved head who smiles at her and who then sits with her at lunch. The girl’s brother, Alistair, who has a mohawk, also comes over and sits with them. The brother is quiet, especially when Matt, the head of the volleyball team comes in and announces how great the team will be this year.
As the story moves along, we learn that Matt is a jerk and that he often made fun of Maggie’s oldest brother Daniel, for being a theater geek. Daniel is, it turns out, a great actor and is starring in the school’s upcoming zombie play. Alistair used to be on the volleyball team until Matt started making fun of Lucy. At first Alistair was mad at Maggie, but then he realized that she’s not the problem. He shaved his head and left the team, agreeing to be an outcast. But Daniel is unconvinced by Alistair’s gesture, and tells Maggie to be wary of him.
Despite the warnings from Daniel, Maggie and Lucy become good friends. We learn that Maggie loves horror movies and that Lucy (despite her love of graveyards and pirate ships) is not a big fan. So they bond over Alien. And Maggie reveals that since she was homeschooled, most of her friends were her brothers and their friends, so she’s unused to the social scene. Lucy is an outsider too, so they bond nicely. What I liked is that although they are sort of outsiders, there’s no problems for the girls–the main plot is big enough that they don’t need any kind of comments about the outcast girls.
The dramatic moment comes when Lucy tells Maggie about the big shipwreck in town and that the Nautical Museum houses the prosthetic hand of the captain of the ship that sailed into town with no crew. It transpires that the ghost who has been visiting Maggie is the widow of the captain. So Maggie hatches a plan to give the ghost that historical limb.
But that plan hatches more trouble than they could have imagined when Matt and his gang spies them breaking into the building. Which means the cops. Which means her dad. Which means that the freaks will naturally be getting into trouble.
The payoff is nice (which I won’t reveal) although as I said there’s many threads left open. Something should probably happen to Matt and his gang, I feel like more should be said about her dad (he got a haircut for his new job), and there’s that whole loose thread about her mother. But none of those are crucial to the story. The one glaringly confusing thing to be is the very end. I simply don’t know what the ending means. It seems like closure for the ghost but it doesn’t actually seem to be any kind of closure that I can tell.
Aside from those issues, I really enjoyed the book–the story was compelling, the characters were great and the drawing was awesome.