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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Grand Opening And Closing CD (album) cover


Sleepytime Gorilla Museum



3.81 | 102 ratings

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2 stars This is the debut album Rio/Avant prog band "Sleepytime Gorilla Museum". No, I did not misspell the name of the band if just the band name alone gives a "what are they thinking?" feeling, the music and awful lyrics probably will as well. With a few exceptions, I generally don't like this genre of music, but this certainly didn't change my mind. Now, before it sounds like I'm giving this a one star review instead of a two, something about this album is strangely intriguing at times. While some of the songs are so unthinkably awful that I'd rather jump off a cliff, some of the songs are decent very experimental (and weird) music pieces. However, there is not a single song without its fair share of flaws. Also, only a few of the musical pieces can be called "songs". Expect almost an entire album blending psychedelic rock, prog metal, and avant garde music similar to Revolution 9. The entire album I was waiting for a song to begin, let alone one that would actually grab my attention. After listening to this, I actually thought pop music was better.

What makes this album worth two stars instead of one is its ability to occasionally fascinate me with all of its weirdness. As a result, sometimes I will voluntarily listen to this album when I'm in the mood for something very creative and different. Unfortunately, many songs are worth skipping. This album includes, for better or for worse, a lot of odd time signatures with odd starts and stops. The arrangements aren't very typical either. Just look at what the band members play! Food container, "thing", popping turtle- this is very different music! There are borderline experimental/prog metal sections in addition to lighter sections (unfortunately) with unlistenable feminine vocals. There are some points where the vocals go so high that her voice can't hold the note, and she has a voice crack. Yet, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum decided to leave that on the album. Sadly, the male vocals aren't any better. It's simply lower pitched screaming that is completely unbearable.

Well, the people who are singing the lyrics certainly don't do it well, but I can't write this review without dedicating a paragraph to the awful lyrics. None of the lyrics here can be taken seriously, and they are actually some of the worst I've ever heard. While there isn't a single good lyric in the entire album, I'll just point out some of the worst. From the song "Powerless" comes this awful quote; "Finding some shoes. Losing you feet/Finding some food. Losing your teeth". The next quote is from "Ablutions"; "She hangs her skin up by the window and looks to see that all the doors are open". I've heard more than enough times that this is an intelligent and intellectual band, but the lyrics certainly don't prove it, even if it were to be true.

"Sleep is Wrong"- This is one of the few decent songs on the album. It starts out pretty weird, but about a minute in begins a complex section that sounds very promising. It experiments with odd time signatures and an awesome complex melody. This turns into a heavy section with just a repeated note with odd starts and stops. The singing is absolutely horrendous, but the reprise of the opening is very good. It is a good song where, unfortunately, the singing ruins almost the entire experience.

"Ambugaton"- This is by far the best song on "Grand Opening and Closing". It is almost completely instrumental, so the singing can't ruin this one like it did to the last song. This isn't nearly as weird as the other tracks, and is almost a standard prog metal song. This is a great song simply because it has no awful vocals and isn't quite as experimental. I wish the whole album would be like this.

"Ablutions"- A good thing can never last. After an excellent previous track, we have this unlistenable mess. This possibly has the worst lyrics on the album, and that is no small feat. The singing begins with the awful female vocals I mentioned earlier. The melody goes way too high for her range, and she can't even hold the note. Then later, the male vocals begin screaming pointlessly, and destroy the song even more. This is a perfect example of where singing can ruin a song. The music, even though it drags on too long, isn't that bad, but the singing turns this into a disastrous mess.

"1997"- Significantly better than the last track. This has pretty bad lyrics with unnecessary profanity, but the vocals don't seem as horrible here. The screaming is actually used pretty well because it fits the tone of the song. The music is more straightforward, which I find to be a plus for this band. It still has an experimental rock/metal feel, but it is much better.

"The Miniature"- This is a very short almost classical-like piece of music. I wish that more of the album would have used this sound. While it is pretty boring, it is far better than some of the other stuff on this album.

"Powerless"- This has okay moments, but definitely didn't need to run for over 9 minutes. The brief choruses are pretty cool, but most of the song is passable at best. One minute near the end there is what sounds like a cool jam session. But just when you think something good will come out of this song, both vocalists start annoyingly screaming "LA LA LA LA LA!!!!!!". It ends oddly, and this is almost a completely terrible song, possibly the worst on the album.

"The Stain"- From the awful lyric "The man is thin and hungry because he's lazy/The seeds are sprouting in my garden" to the wannabe music, there's only one thing to say about this song. Skip it!

"Sleepytime"- This has a very strange and oddly intriguing opening that shows how both voices can sing if they actually try. After 5 minutes it gets pretty repetitive, but it introduces a new section with a cool build. This is far too long for the small amount of material that is in it, but it is a very good song. About 6 minutes in it has a guitar solo that almost reminds me of something from Yes. This is one of the better songs on the album, but of course, it isn't without its flaws.

"Sunflower"- This is almost 8 minutes long, but could easily get away with being 2 or 3. It's extremely repetitive, has no buildup, and just has a boring melody using psychedelic instruments. I never listen to this one.

Grand Opening and Closing falls into the "what could have been" category. It has some cool musical parts, but is ruined by the lyrics and singing. If this were all instrumental with some repetitive sections cut out, this could be worth a three, and maybe a four if I was feeling extra nice. It's clear there are some skilled musicians here with good ideas. You just need to get past an album where at least half of it is unlistenable, and the other half is decent at best. This album pretty much defines the two star rating: Collectors/Fans ONLY. This will only appeal to fans of the Avant prog genre. This won't convert you to the genre if you don't already like it. So, people like me, stay away from this one!

2/5 stars.

J-Man | 2/5 |


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