In these sad days for music when presentation tends to trump substance, it's refreshing to have an album come out from a band that wrote its own music, played its own instruments, didn't need any dance choreography, and gave us solid or even great tracks from beginning to end. That album is King Animal by Soundgarden.
Soundgarden was one of the original bands involved in the early nineties Grunge movement out of Seattle. I saw them live, opening for Guns n Roses, before I knew who they were, but they impressed me more than the headliners did, and I immediately bought their latest album and fell in love with the incredibly heavy sound of the song Searching With My Good Eye Closed. It's still my favorite Soundgarden song, though they've done well enough to have more than fifty songs of four stars or higher in my iTunes list.
Their most commercial album Superunknown was my least favorite, though it still had some good stuff like 4th of July. They broke up in 1997 shortly after releasing my favorite of their albums Down on the Upside.
Fifteen years later the group overcame their disputes and got back together. Would they still have their old chemistry? King Animal gives us a resounding 'yes'!
In the past I got used to their songs often appealing to me right off, while with this album I had to let it grow on me by multiple listens (the same thing I had to do with one of my all-time favorite albums--Mer de Noms by A Perfect Circle). I've now listened to the album more than fifty times, and there are no tracks of less than three stars in my iTunes, and there are only two of those, which makes this a pretty amazing album.
Taste differs from person to person, so these ratings are mine alone. Here are my rankings of the songs in the approximate order of how much I like them:
5 stars: Bones of Birds, Blood on the Valley Floor, Worse Dreams, By Crooked Steps
4.5 stars: Taree
4 stars: Non-State Actor, A Thousand Day's Before, Eyelid's Mouth, Attrition, Black Saturday, Been Away Too Long
3 stars: Halfway there, Rowing
They did a great sounding mini-concert on Letterman a month ago, and here was an oldie but goodie to turn way up and enjoy.