on June 12, 2012
Grace Potter and the Nocturnal's last album (selftitled) came out almost exactly two years ago. Since that time, the band has apparently been hard at work crafting more of their soulful genre-skipping blues rock. The band pulls influence from the past, but it is also forward-thinking in its use of tempo, timbre, and genre. While this blend of varying influences may sound esoteric, THE LION THE BEAST THE BEAT does a good job of staying grounded by obeying many of pop music's conventions.
The album begins with the title-track, "The Lion The Beast The Beat," which turns out to be one of the most exhilarating track of the album. Opening relatively slowly before dramatically shifting gears into a rocking and thrilling hard-rock attack. The band seems to be operating at its best in this mode, as other ventures into country-tinged rock ("Parachute Heart," "All Over You" or Kenny Chesney-duet "Stars,") just don't quite stand up in comparison. "Timekeeper" is a bluesy, sorrowful ballad that really puts Grace Potter's vocals on display; throughout the album Potter does a great job of coming across as a fantastic singer, but never as overbearing or domineering. The band effortlessly shifts into the radio-ready (in the best possible way) "Turntable," and "Roulette" which are both catchy and infectious without appearing pandering.
While most of the lyrics here center on loneliness or sorrow, there's something confident about it. It's not depressing; instead, it feels passionate and triumphant.
The deluxe edition of this album contains 4 additional songs ("Roulette," "All Over You," "Stars (with Kenny Chesney)," and "Ragged Company (with Willie Nelson)." This edition seems to be the best edition of the available options: the standard edition feels a bit incomplete, but it is perhaps more consistent than the deluxe.
This album is incredibly enjoyable. The band sounds tighter than ever before; long-time fans will love this release. Fans of southern-rock, blues-rock, alternative-rock (or anything in between) will find several tracks here to enjoy. I would recommend THE LION THE BEAST THE BEAT to fans of Alabama Shakes, Florence + The Machine, and Jack White. Standout tracks to sample: "The Lion The Beast The Beat," "Never Go Back," "Timekeeper," and "Turntable." Sampling these tracks will give the listener a good idea of what to expect from this album.
I first became aware of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals when they performed at an event for my company last summer. I liked what I heard, and I gave their eponymous album a try. From what I understand it was a departure from their previous work, and The Lion The Beast The Beat is a continuation of their musical evolution. While Potter has a more dynamic voice, this album reminds me of Sheryl Crow's Globe Sessions (which I still consider to be her best) in the style of music. I think that they captured the essence of what made that album great without sounding derivative.
That being said let's get specific about the songs. For starters the opener/title track is interesting in many ways. The song is structured in three parts that have slightly different feels. It opens sparsely with understated vocals "I found the heart of a lion in the belly of the beast. And I held it in my hand and I could feel. I could feel, feel the beat." A tempo change follows as the "beat" is called forth. In the chorus Potter tells us that "Life is a record playing on repeat." The final section of the song starts over the final minute or so with violin flourishes layered in. Potter's vocal delivery is spot on, and this song sets a high bar for the remainder of the album.
The theme that runs through The Lion The Beast The Beat is one of loss, sorrow, and sadness. It's in the vocals "Timekeeper" - "I'm too young to be feeling this way", "Loneliest Soul" - "I'm the loneliest soul so leave me alone.", and "One Heart Missing" - "If love is made for two, there's one heart missing". Also "Stars" is one of the true ballads on the album, and it features a mournful guitar solo. Finally there is the blues rock song "Runaway" in which Potter simply asks "...let me go..."
I mentioned The Globe Sessions at the beginning, and the clearest nod on The Lion The Beast The Beat is "Never Go Back". The opening beat calls to mind "There Goes The Neighborhood" in a strong way. I also found a similarity to perhaps a less known band - Elizabeth and the Catapult. The piano opening of "Timekeeper" reminds me a lot of "Time (We All Fall Down)" from The Other Side of Zero (see my review).
Overall, I think that The Lion The Beast The Beat is a great album, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes blues rock featuring very talented female singers.
Download this: The Lion The Beast The Beat
on June 12, 2012
This album has been highly anticipated in my area. I live in Vermont, and I've seen Grace Potter & The Nocturnals seven times.
I'm sure there's some concern among fans this album may lean country too much, given the popularity of last years duet with Kenny Chesney. I assure you it does not (not that there's anything wrong with that). Touches of country perhaps, but this is a rocker, just as Grace herself has become. I'm sure some fans of the folky first album didn't like the rock direction the following two albums took. I love it. A collision of Rolling Stones and Tina Turner.
First time I heard "Never Go Back" I was underwhelmed I admit. I was expecting heavier. But it's got a great/odd combination of blues and synth, and catchy as can be. The piano ballad "Stars" is really nice. If this album has a "Paris (Ooh la la)" it's probably "Runaway", another collaboration with Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys. I really like "Parachute Heart", but as much as I want to like "Turntable", it's...eh. The whole band sounds in fine form, and are clearly comfortable together. I do miss recently departed bassist Catherine Popper, but that may be more visually than musically.
The Lion, The Beast, The Beat tries to be all things. Pop, rock, soul, blues. Sometimes the mix of genres fails, but here it works. I'm gonna call it at least as good as the previous album. Cool artwork too.
This is also available as a deluxe edition with 4 bonus tracks, another track with Chesney and one with Willie Nelson. There's the 11 track vinyl LP too. Plus an exclusive Best Buy edition with a DVD.
on June 12, 2012
Grace Potter and the guys have returned with what could possibly be the best album of the year. It opens with the finest track of all "The Lion The Beast The Beat". It starts out calm, and then kicks in to hyperdrive like a classic Ann and Nancy Wilson(Heart) classic track. It will be a crime if this piece of work does not bring Grace to a more global audience. She is quite frankly one of the best things music has to offer these days. If your tired of boring watered down rock/pop that is continuing to be churned out by such shows as American Idol and The Voice, then you should take notice of Grace. She rocks and you get to actually hear music with real instruments. No auto tune either. Key tracks: The Lion The Beast The Beat, Never Go Back, Timekeeper,Parachute Heart, and Turntable. Honestly, the entire album is amazing. Do yourself a favor and buy this. You will not be disappointed. Enjoy!
on July 24, 2012
There is so much going on with this album. Paris and Medicine from their previous album skyrocketed them into fame. I would have figured Grace Potter and her band was smart enough to take a hint and put out a blues rock album full of songs aiming past the heights of Paris. I was wrong. This album, to put it bluntly, is an overly produced indie album where you don't know what sound is coming next from track to track. I am heavily and thoroughly disappointed.
on August 1, 2013
I should have known better. I should have listened to the samples. Grace apparently is never going to record another "nothing but the water" type effort. It's a damn shame, too. This over produced, pop diva effort is just not indicative of what this lady can do. I'm done buying her recordings unless I see mention of the word Blues somewhere in the title or in a review.
on June 25, 2012
I expected to hate this album, actually. The title track left me suspecting that the industry had gotten ahold of another promising band and chewed it up into something commercial as soon as they saw money-making potential (R.I.P., Kings of Leon). But I got shocked out of my snobbery on this one. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals actually sound, well, natural. Genuine. True, they are cultivating a different image than they had on their eponymous album two years ago (though perhaps not too far off from that god-awful "Paris (Ooh La La)"), but it seems as if they have found the grounds for confidence, even while remaining refreshingly versatile.
I caught on to this band through the snippet in Rolling Stone magazine, and thus started with the eponymous album. I liked it but didn't think it was great. Mostly I welcomed the opportunity to get my ears out of the 60's and 70's and into the now. After all, you can't rebuild Rock by funneling more money into Mick Jagger Inc. GP&N's 2010 album was refreshing in that regard, though it left me wondering if they packed the umph necessary to make a great Rock N' Roll band, and certainly I didn't see them matching up to the Black Keys' early work (don't like their new stuff, by the way). Nevertheless, I decided it would be worth keeping an eye out for them. I think, for the most part, my judgment call was right, and I think the band judged themselves accurately as well. This is definitely not a 70's revival record, but it's a stronger album as a result.
"The Lion, The Beast, The Beat" falls somewhere between Blondie and Fleetwood Mac, and also with an eye on both Nashville and New Orleans. "The Divide" also owes something pretty obvious to Led Zeppelin. The style overall is very well executed as well: let's not forget that Buffalo Springfield was criticized for never nailing a distinctive style down. The album is impressive in its consistency and viscosity, especially considering the wide range of styles and sounds that are sampled. It is, overall, a pop album, though it bears none of the frivolity of its mainstream counterparts, old or new. What I mean to say is it's not Madonna or Lady Gaga pop, far from it. It is retro pop, and exhibits a tinge of a whole range of decades. But Grace's voice is still bluesy enough that I can't call it a completely pop record. Have I confused you yet? That is one of the wondrous things about this album: you can't pin Grace's band down, but you are never left with the feeling that it is completely scattershot. This, I think, is the mark of a band coming to maturity: when they no longer find it necessary to emulate other bands and instead strike out on their own. As far as this effort goes, they are coming together nicely. Will it be a classic for future generations to look back on? It's hard to say- certainly the band has gained momentum in the last two years, but it remains to be seen if anybody's listening. They deserve the ear of their generation, either way.
on June 14, 2012
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals latest album "The Lion The Beast The Beat" is high quality, straight ahead rock with a diverse set of influences - blues, country, soul, and even synth. This makes it comparable to Jack White's album "Blunderbuss". I can't say that this album is as good as Jack White's (which was excellent), but it is a pretty good album. There aren't any songs that I would skip. This album is much less bluesy and has more of a pop-rock influence than "Blunderbuss". Potter's style here is actually more comparable to Sheryl Crow's than White's. Some have compared the Potter and her band to Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones, though I don't see it.
Although I am from Vermont (the band's home state), I was never into the band's music until only half a year ago. I've been expanding my musical horizons lately, and after checking out their music further, I liked the band's sound and appreciated Potter's talents as a vocalist and performer. She's got great pipes and one the best energies on stage.
Potter and her band's talents are demonstrated throughout the album. The tunes here also happen to be catchy. The title track is also the opening track. It's a good opening, and it's probably the hardest rocking track. "Parachute Heart" has a bit of a synth-y feel. "Stars" is a power ballad with a country edge. "Loneliest Soul" has the catchiest chorus and is one of the three tracks produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. "Keepsake" is a fast-tempo pop-rock tune with a bit of blues. "Runaway" is an excellent track that is the bluesiest on the album. The deluxe version on the album includes another duet between Potter and Kenny Chesney worth checking out.
on June 18, 2012
I absolutely love Grace Potter and The Nocturnals. I have every album and was super excited to get The Lion The Beast The Beat. I thought it was Amazing! Although, it was a great rock album I didn't think it had quite as much 'umph' as their last album. I got the extended album because I wanted the extra songs with Kenney Chesney and Willie Nelson. It was well worth the extra few dollars but I was a little disappointed in Ragged Company with Willie Nelson. I thought Grace Potter did great and I thought Willie Nelson did great but I don't think that they did great together. It almost sounded like they took the original song and just added Willie Nelson's part to it rather than trying to mesh the two singers together. I gotta say, if you've never really listend to Grace Potter and The Nocturnals but you love Bonnie Rait, well, you will ABSOLUTELY LOVE Grace Potter! Trust ME!
on July 17, 2012
When Grace Potter & The Nocturnals arrived a decade ago, they originally started out doing music on an independent label. After Grace released her solo album "Original Soul", they recorded their first album as a band "Nothing But The Water". The album garnered instant buzz due to heavy airplay on a local station- which lead them to a deal with Hollywood Records. As a result, their debut was reissued on a major label. They followed it up with their second album- and major label debut- "This Is Somewhere" two years later. In 2009, Grace was going to record a second solo album produced by T-Bone Burnett, but she insisted on recording the project with her band. So Burnett was replaced with producer Mark Batson (Dave Matthews Band, Nas, Anthony Hamilton, India Arie) for the next record, the self titled "Grace Potter & The Nocturnals". The album became their most successful to date, with the minor hit "Paris (Ooh La La)".
In 2012, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals returned with their fourth album "The Lion The Beast The Beat". On this new album, Grace produces most of the album with Jim Scott (Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Court Yard Hounds, Crowded House). There's also production help from The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who hands in three songs- "Loneliest Soul", "Runaway" and the first single "Never Go Back" in which Grace sings about refusing to be hurt again. The title track "The Lion The Beast The Beast" transforms from a Led Zeppelin like rocker into a glam rock powerhouse. On the song "Parachute Heart", The song explores an all too familiar concept: A couple in a relationship that was doomed from the beginning. They reminisce over lost love on the piano driven ballad on "Stars", and channel the sixties on the ballad "Timekeeper". While the song "Turntable" has all the makings of a potential hit, the songs suffers from cheesy lyrical content. On "Keepsake", Grace seeks to end a relationship where she feels she's being unnecessarily strung along. She sings of neglection on "One Heart Missing" and closes the album with the Southern rock influenced "The Divide". Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' "The Lion The Beast The Beast" is a good record from the band. Despite their blatant attempt at wanting radio play, their new album is actually pretty good.