Incubus - Drive
Weeks on Chart: 39 Peak: # 3 (April 2001) buy it!
The third chart hit from the Make Yourself CD is my favorite Incubus single so far but after hearing Drive since its December chart debut, I've had enough of it. I guess that, like Staind, Incubus have struck the delicate balance of keeping their modern rock cred while making music that's accessible and not too harsh for a wide audience. I see why Brandon Boyd's meaningful sounding mix of vulnerability and optimism, singing about feeling the "fear of uncertainty" but finding he can stop it from taking control, is appealing. I'm just finding it a little boring.
Incubus - Megalomaniac
Weeks on Chart: 20 Peak: # 3 (March 2004) buy it!
After mellow hits like Drive and Wish You Were Here, Incubus show they can still rock on Megalomaniac, the first single from their new CD called A Crow Left Of The Murder. On the verses, Brandon Boyd does a familiar smooth croon but, supported by Jose Pasillas' pounding drums, he's focused and not too laid back. On the chorus, Boyd shows off a new, pissed off voice. Ranting like Johnny Lydon, Boyd grabs your attention, sounding committed and a bit crazed. Incubus have done a bunch of songs alternating between mellow and harder sections but Megalomaniac is tighter than most. It doesn't drag, staying interesting even in its quieter parts. Part of the credit goes to guitar player Mike Einzinger, who does his usual solid, versatile job, ranging from spacy, jazzy doodling to big, tough power chords. Megalomaniac is a bit overdramatic and not that well developed but I like its intensity and Boyd's kooky passion. Megalomaniac's video suggests a political bent but the angry lyric is a fairly unspecific diatribe at someone Boyd hears "on the radio" who permeates "my screen" and has delusions of greatness and of being the "only one." Boyd vents violent fantasies and asks him to "step down."
Incubus - Nice To Know You
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: # 17 (March 2002) buy it!
The Morning View CD's second chart hit reminds me of its first, I Wish You Were Here. Both songs, like most Incubus tunes, have some hard rock trappings and a bit of hip hop but are otherwise pleasant pop. Nice To Know You alternates between rougher patches with a driving beat and record scratching, choruses with a big rock guitar sound and bridges with an upbeat folk rock feel. Incubus aren't particularly important or as tough and edgy as they think they are but their music is pleasant, inoffensive and flavorful and it does a decent job of bridging the gap between different musical styles. Nice To Know You's music and Brandon's Boyd's lyrics, about beginning to experience and enjoy life again, have the same vaguely spacy, positive sense as much of Incubus' work.
Incubus - Pardon Me
Weeks on Chart: 30 Peak: # 14 (April 2000) buy it!
Pardon Me, from the Make Yourself CD, resembles a lot of music on rock radio with its anthemic chorus, power guitar chords and anguished lyrics about having had enough of the world. However, as an acoustic version indicates, there is a real, thought out song within the more rocking record. Brandon Boyd's intensity and images of spontaneous combustion are striking. The band also create a distinctive sound on the electric version. A good, jagged beat and records scratched by their DJ add to a feel of turmoil.
Incubus - Stellar
Weeks on Chart: 22 Peak: # 17 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
Like Pardon Me, Incubus' hit from the Make Yourself CD, Stellar is hard rock with a bit of an unusual edge. Stellar has jazzy, psychedelic verses that give way to harder, guitar driven choruses. Brandon Boyd sings about being amazed by his lover asking, how do you do it, and equating having sex with her with the sensation of being in outer space.
Incubus - Talk Show On Mute
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: # 10 (July 2004) buy it!
The release of Megalomaniac as A Crow Left Of The Murder's first single implied that the newer record would have a harder edge than Incubus' previous CDs. It wasn't very well developed and Brandon Boyd's ranting was a little crazy but Megalomaniac had an energy and anger that was encouraging coming from the often laid back rock band. Talk Show On Mute shows that Crow Left Of The Murder doesn't completely lack the pleasant, spacy, mellow rockers that dominated the band's recent work. Talk Show On Mute has an easy, genial mood. It floats along inoffensively and has a decent flow. But even less happens on Talk Show On Mute than on other relaxed, midtempo songs like Drive, Wish You Were Here and Warning. Talk Show On Mute betrays a bit of narcissism on Boyd's part. The arrangement focuses on Boyd's vocal. The band is deferential to the point that it seems to have been decided that nothing musically interesting can interfere with appreciation of Boyd's brilliant lyric. To be fair to Boyd, his singing isn't narcissistic. He tries to sound humble to the point that his singing doesn't show any personality. Talk Show On Mute's music is smooth and well played but it's also pretty boring. On Talk Show On Mute, Boyd compares our society to the world in Orwell's 1984. His beef is with a country narcoticized by homogenized, cynically manufactured entertainment that pays "an audience to care." His solution is apparently to realize that "there's so much more." Unfortunately, Boyd's message is undermined by his bland, unvaried croon.
Incubus - Warning
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: # 18 (July 2002) buy it!
Incubus keep giving us likable, unremarkable atmospheric rock songs. Warning, third chart hit from the Morning View CD, is appealing. Warning is even more laid back than I Wish You Were Here and Nice To Know You but it has a similar vibe. On the verses, Brandon Boyd's vocal drifts along with some minimal guitar and sonic effects. The chorus, with Mike Einziger's electric guitar strumming, is harder and more focused, but the song retains it's dreamy feel. Warning is positive and spacy, advising that as you float "in this cosmic jacuzzi", "count your blessings", "don't ever let life pass you by" and love yourself. Warning seems intentionally inconsequential but it is quite appealing.
Incubus - Wish You Were Here
Weeks on Chart: 33 Peak: # 5 (Dec. 2001) buy it!
Incubus follow their mellow megasuccess Drive with a song reminiscent of Make Yourself's other singles. Wish You Were Here, the first single from the Morning View CD, has Pardon Me's record scratching and Stellar's spacy atmosphere. As on Drive, the lyrics show a sincere, slightly sappy, decency. Brandon Boyd sings about being in an idyllic setting. The you he wishes were here are apparently extraterrestrials. Wish You Were Here is good sounding, if unremarkable. Big guitars beef up a basically poppy song.
India Arie - Video
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: # 48 (May 2002) buy it!
Video, from the Acoustic Soul CD, has been around for a year. It's been on VH1's playlist for almost the entire year. Video finally moved near the top of the pop charts after India Arie Simpson got a bunch of Grammy nominations including for album of the year and best new artist. Hearing any song frequently over a long period can make you a little sick of it. At this point, I sometimes think about Video: I'm glad you love yourself but enough already. I generally still love Video. The message about being happy even if you don't look like a supermodel or have expensive clothes or cars is a very welcome reponse to the ostentatious displays of material wealth and idealized female beauty in countless MTV videos. Video has a very likable, relaxed sound. India Arie's vocal is appropriately confident but charmingly unassuming. She plays an appealing shuffling acoustic guitar riff over loose, varied percussion.
Indigenous - Little Time
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: # 36 (July 2000) buy it!
Little Time is from Circle, the second CD from the family band who are members of the Nakota nation. Mato Nanji's guitar work isn't original. On Little Time, from the Circle CD, his guitar style is copped from Jimi Hendrix. Still, more so than young blues rock contemporaries like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shephard who often try to prove how much they resemble their heroes, Nanji sounds like he's relaxed and creating his own sound. While his voice is derivative of his predecessors, it's also strong and real. The lyrics of the love song, with a storm coming, "the darkness inside my mind" and standing still when the wind is blowing, are somewhat cliched but Nanji's Native American background gives them added resonance.
Indigo Girls - Peace Tonight
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: # 46 (Oct. 1999) buy it!
On Galileo, one of their best singles, Indigo Girls acknowledged that they had a sometimes justified reputation that they "take everything so seriously." Shame On You, the single from their last CD Shaming of the Sun, was a good rock song and one of the few really good songs on the record but it's not surprising that a song about our country's policy towards immigrants didn't appeal much to the mainstream. Peace Tonight, from the new Come on Now Social, is much more light hearted. The music has a good feel with horns, hand claps and upbeat drums. The lyrics also create a nice mood with vignettes evoking joyful moments.
Indigo Girls - Perfect World
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: # 45 (Feb. 2004) buy it!
Perfect World is a pleasant, good sounding song from All That We Let In CD, Indigo Girls' ninth studio record. Perfect World has an appealing lyric that urges us "to be a ripple in the water." The Girls ask us not to "look the other way" but to "look a little closer" and to work towards a perfect world. As on many Indigo Girls songs, there's a sense of preaching to the chorus. The people Indigo Girls have in mind are unlikely to appreciate being criticized for their cell phone dependence or being help complicit for "the killing."
Injected - Faithless
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: # 38 (April 2002) buy it!
Faithless is from the Atlanta based band's Burn It Black CD. Faithless is fairly standard guitar rock but it does has a good combination of rock toughness and pop energy. Faithless is well made with a likable, polished sound. Stomping guitars, bass and drums give way to a bright, uplifting chorus. I have a pet peeve about young rock singers who use a deep, serious old sounding vocal. Injected's Danny Grady fits that desciption to a certain extent but, at least on Faithless, he doesn't sound as pretentious and self satisfied as his contemporaries in Calling, Default and Creed. Faithless is about a guy who's played the fool in a relationship but keeps his spirits high even after seeing his girlfriend's shamelessness.