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OK, now that I have seen the video for Tell Me What You Want, I am completely mesmerized by the song (despite silhouette-Neil's impersonation of Mr Bean skipping).

I particularly love the eerie sound that doubles Neil's and Sharon's vocals in the chorus. I presume Sean Donnelly is making it. Does anyone know what instrument he (or Neil) is playing here?
Originally posted by renzo:
I wonder who is the man with the low, opera sounding voice in the TNT song (that closes that song out)....can't wait to read the notes in the CD when it gets released to revel this and possibly other nuggets. I think this adds a great sound to the song.

Could this be a person of Maori background?

- Initially my thoughts as well, Renzo - love that vocal. My understanding is that on the CD the vocal is Sean's but live Neil/Sean harmonised, although the vocal was put through some effect on it's way to the PA. Someone more technically minded here will hopefully be able to have a stab at how that effect was achieved
Dead Leg reminds me of the 'shoegazing' bands of the 90's, like My Bloody Valentine or the way these huge swaths of ambient sound wash over things in the chorus, slightly overwhelming the vocals. I guess the difference is that those sound washes were usually done with guitars in the shoegazing bands, and here it sounds more like Sean's synth work. But the effect is the same.

I'm still not liking the sound of things that come out of Neil's studio. His vocals sound so dry and cold, the opposite of rich. There's really no reverb or delay on a lot of his vocals on Pajama Club, and while I know he doesn't need those things to sound good, if you're going to mix the vocals bone dry they should maybe have a bit more body and richness to them.

I'm not sure if it has to do with the choice of microphone, the digital domain, or what. I looked at the equipment list for Roundhead and there's plenty of vintage/analog equipment there (including a host of Neumann microphones that would surely give body and color to Neil's vocals) - things don't need to sound as scratchy-dry and digital as they do. So while I'm really liking the album musically, I still don't care for 'the Roundhead sound.'
I've had the Pajama Club album on non-stop rotation for close to a month now. I don't think there's a single weak link on it. Every song is a soundscape packed with beautifully colourful textures, from the Strawberry Fields-era psychedelic electronic fadeout of Tell Me What You Want and the lo-fi ESG funk of These Are Conditions to the faux-Maori choral of TNT for Two and the Eno-esque glam glow of Diamonds in Her Eyes. And every song rewards repeated listening, with new, unexpected sonic elements suddenly revealing themselves after many plays. This is, for the first time in many years, a Neil Finn album that hangs together as a whole -- indeed, whose whole is even bigger than that of its already substantial, consistently excellent parts. And how many times have we been able to say that of an album with which Neil has been involved since, ooh, Together Alone?

Re Neil's vocals: I'm not having quite the same reaction to them as slowpogo, but I see what he means. I'm enjoying them in part because they sound so different from Neil's customary vocal stylings: he's pushed himself to sound unlike himself in a way that he hasn't since Twisty Bass on Try Whistling This. I do miss the vocal production gimmickry that we might associate with high-psychedelia circa '67 (flanged, multi-speeded, reverbed, delayed, tremeloed treatments of the Tomorrow Never Knows variety), but the vocals have a lo-fi bare-bonesedness to them that mesh well with the album's general feel. And Neil's vocal interplay with Sharon on Daylight and Go Kart are two perfect slices of heaven. In short, I wouldn't change a thing about the album.

Honestly, has Neil done a better album since '94? Or before? It's that good.
The only time I feel Neil's singing is obviously different from the norm is Tell Me What You Want. While I appreciate how strikingly different the vocals are and the song is not bad, I feel it might be the weakest on the album to my ears. But I understand why they open the album with it, as if to send a message: 'Hey folks, this is gonna be a bit different.'

I do hear more subtle examples of Neil pushing in a different direction, from the verses of TNT, where he sounds Thom Yorke-ish, to Diamonds, where he sounds Jeff Tweedy-ish in the verses. And in Go Kart his singing is more like forcefully melodic talking.

I'm not ready (yet) to call it Neil's best since Together Alone, but it's very consistently at a high level. I don't think any of the individual songs rank amongst Neil's very best per se, but that doesn't mean there aren't several excellent tracks. I think it's less of a songwriterly effort and more of a stretching exercise, something new and without preexisting expectations for Neil to let loose on. So in that sense I would not necessarily expect the highly crafted, poignant songwriting of his best work - and that's OK. This is different, and different can be very good indeed.
yes!!! Watney is with me on this (neil's best since Together Alone) and this is good enough for me! a strong vote of confidence from the articulate fan himself....Watney.

Neil has kept the excitement of these songs to himself quite good because he hasn't set them up high too much as he should...he should be playing these up more but then Neil does not tend to do that, which is one great quality about him.

when this one is released it will blow away the critics, not that we care about that....
Slowpogo gestures toward a really interesting question. What determines an album's quality? Is a brilliant album one that has several memorable songs that rank amongst the artist's best? Or does an album's quality derive from something more holistic, something that transcends the brilliance (or less-than-brilliance) of its individual songs?

The Pajama Club album may not have many tracks that will make our all-time top-ten lists of favourite Neil songs. I doubt that, next time Crowded House tours, audiences will be baying to hear the band "cover" These Are Conditions, TNT for Two, Deadleg, or Diamonds In Her Eyes. I think Try Whistling This boasts more instances of brilliantly crafted songs; heck, Time on Earth (an album I love, but which is not everyone's favourite) and even Intriguer (an album I do not particularly care for) have more songs that are likely to make their way into the Canonical Neil Finn Songbook. Golden Child and Daylight might make it at a pinch, but even then its hard to see Neil ever whipping out a guitar to play either song as a crowd-pleasing encore at a Crowded House or solo gig.

But if we judge an album less for its individual tracks and more for the originality and consistency of its sonic textures, it's hard to better the Pajama Club album. Together Alone is the only Crowded House album that has such a consistent "sound," where every song is recognizably from THAT album and no other. It has many individually brilliant songs -- but even much-beloved gems like Distant Sun are also exemplary *album* tracks that possess the distinctive Together Alone sound. Try Whistling This and One Nil/All also have their distinctive sounds (the late-night lo-fi vibe of the first, the Wendy-and-Lisa flourishes of the second), but each jostles with tracks from other recording sessions that sound like they belong to a rather different record. By contrast, everything on the Pajama Club album sounds to me as if it belongs there and nowhere else.

In other words, Slowpogo is absolutely right. This is not an album of standout individual tracks. But I think this is a standout album because of its distinctive sound. In that respect alone, it reminds me a little of Young Marble Giants' Colossal Youth or Stereolab's Emperor Tomato Ketchup. They are two of my favourite albums -- not because they boast brilliant individual songs (they don't particularly) but because each has such a unique sound. The songs on each record make an impression inasmuch as they all contribute to the cumulative effect of the sound. Ditto with songs on the Pajama Club album: as one moves from the psychedelic organ fade out of Tell Me What You Want to the wurlitzer that begins Can't Put It Down, from the incandescent harmonies of Daylight to the downhill vocal rush of Go Kart, it becomes increasingly clear that this is an album with a remarkably distinctive, sustained, and colourful sound palette.

It's early days yet, and my feelings about the Pajama Club record may change. But for now I think Renzo's prediction that it will be a critic's favourite has much to support it. This is a better-crafted album than any Neil Finn has made since he holed up eighteen years ago with Paul, Nick, Mark and Youth in Karekare.
yes, I spoke of cohesiveness of songs of the other thread and Watney brings up the other major point that brings it all together for me....the distinct sound that binds these songs together which makes it so appealing from the first note to the last. I totally agree with the fact that there are great individual moments on Together Alone and that even those moments seems to mesh with the rest of the songs there, where they wouldn't on other CD's of Neil's....which is probably why I struggle pulling some of those songs out to make a home made "greatest hits" CD of Neil's...just as I may struggle with that regarding PJ Club.
I really just have to make a very random comment right now and say that this Pajama Club album is the Neil Finn album of my dreams.

Seriously...never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I'd hear this sort of music from Neil.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of it and where to rank it with all his other work, but wow, I am absolutely flabbergasted by the vast majority of this music.

It's not that I ever sat down and thought to myself "what would be the Neil Finn album of my dreams?"....but this is it.

I will try to work on articulating my reasons for thinking that, but for now I am just revelling in this music. I should really try to pay attention to the lyrics, but for whatever reason, the music distracts me from the lyrics and the lyrics almost don't even matter.
Brownie, totally! This album is incredible and we need to talk about it more. It is so outside the box, it's basically unbelievable. I too never would have dreamed that Neil would make an album like this, but he has and we need to celebrate the heck out of it.

There is so much fun and immediacy in this music that it brings me all the way back to the original CH album. I can't put it down until it ends!
Hear, hear Brownie. (And Painaporo!)

For me, it's the Neil Finn album of my dreams in large part because it SOUNDS like a dream. Just as a dream takes the everyday materials of memory, cuts them up, jumbles them, and rearranges them into unexpected colorful maps of our hidden desires, so does this album do exactly that with Neil's -- and our -- musical memories. This record is so full of familiar snatches of sound -- a wurlitzer that echoes Sgt Pepper's Mister Kite, a funky guitar that hints at David Byrne channeling Nile Rogers, a drumtrack that recalls ESG, a synthesizer wash that points to the Breeders, a squall of guitar effects that would be at home in a Sonic Youth song, a vocal arrangement that sounds like Stereolab paying homage to Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, and many, many more -- yet it mixes all these up in ways that are strange, beautiful, and utterly original.

THIS, unlike Neil's last effort with CH, is the album that deserves the name "Intriguer." Like a mesmerizing dream, one that comes from the deepest recesses of our unconscious longings, the album never ceases to intrigue -- and tug at my heartstrings.
Haha! Well in that case, I will do my level best effort to hunt it up at Streetlight downtown this weekend! They're a good bet to stock it - that's where I got 7 Worlds.

I'm officially psyched. How come nobody TOLD me this was that good? Ka-jeeesh.

Ya know, as busy as I sometimes get, sucked away by work (and I can't access the forum from their anymore, alas - damn filters!), anybody can always PM me if you need me and I'll come running directly!

My apologies for being so far gone so long.

I do still love the **** out of both Intriguer and Time On Earth, by the way. It'll be wonderful to hear how this one has come together!
Got my copy last weekend and I like it.

It's edgier than the last few Neil Finn projects, in fact some of it reminds me of Enz. It's definitely more groove based and I'm not sure fans who enjoy the melodic side of Neil's talents will get into it. Be interesting to gauge the reaction if these songs were issued under the Crowded House moniker.

All in all thumbs up. Fave tracks include Tell Me What You Want and These Are Conditions.
Originally posted by slowpogo:
Originally posted by Dazz:
I'm not sure fans who enjoy the melodic side of Neil's talents will get into it.

I don't understand this (and you're not the only one who's said it). To me, these songs are just as melodic as anything Neil does; they're simply dressed differently.

Exactly, Slowpogo. It's what a lot of us had been hoping for from Neil for a long time including for the Intriguer CD! I for one would love it if Crowded House went off in a similar edgier direction with the new album.

As for current favourite - 'Can't Put It Down....'

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