I feel it necessary to begin all three of these reviews (Moonflower Lane, Massive Grooves... and Tapehead) with the same somewhat negative introduction, to put what I then say about the individual albums into an overall perspective. I was financially restricted for a good portion of 1998, but when I got myself out of the hole, I purchased all three of these CD's the same day as a sort of late Christmas present to myself.

My initial reaction, therefore, was similar to what I had often with Ear Candy, which is that heavy=Doug, mellow=Ty. Now that they were allowed a complete split, the difference became even more dramatic. In addition, the vocal harmonies on both solo efforts suffer, since one person doing each part gives it a one-dimensional feel. (The thing that makes Freddie Mercury great is his ability to layer 100 vocals of himself onto Queen tunes, but the result is just one giant Freddie, not a rich harmony.)

Doug's songs come off kind of uniform because of his limited guitar chord choices, which may be due directly to his personal playing ability. Although hitting on some harsh topics like murderous spouses, homosexuality, and various personal tragedies, many of the lyrics are simplistic and derivative odes to shaking, grooving or believing in music. Deeper meanings may just be lost on me because I haven't dug into this enough.

Ty's songs are kind of thin and straight, with little groove or depth, and slip occasionally into the guitar-ego showing off his chops territory (although only mildly). The lyrics are stronger than Doug's in many ways, but don't carry a lot of emotional weight, opting to tell a story rather than be one.

So, as much as I truly enjoy both solo albums, they eventually just leave me wanting more of these guys as a band. In addition, the absence of Jerry on all of Ty's and most of Doug's tunes just emphasizes what a different kind of drummer he is compared to the mainstream style of the other players. The way the three King's X members complement each other's styles makes a conjunction that is far greater than the sum of it's parts. Upon listening to the new album, having now vented their individual ideas, it's sounds the most like songs were written as a group since the first couple albums. I've listened to Tapehead probably five times more than the solo albums.

Now, on to the individual reviews:

I was deliberately giving the albums some time to settle in my mind before getting back to this, but I've taken most of a year now, so here goes nothing.

With the freedom of Metal-Blade, these guys just had a good time making an album.

"I don't need to fit in
Like I did way back then"

I like the structure of this album, which is very similar to faith, hope, love, in that it starts with a couple strong songs to hook you in, then lays back a bit, slowly building up to the strongest songs, Happy being the peak, with Higher Than God and Mr. Evil just below on either side. After a full set of mid-tempo rockers, World is thrown on at the end as a speed-punk-metal monster (that single bass note in the third verse drives harder than anything!) The last track, simply put, is hysterical and self-explanatory.

Just as Train welcomed you to the end of the band on Atlantic, we're welcomed to the new material with Groove Machine, which sets the tone for the whole album: heavy, but not fast, serious, but not too serious, subtle dynamics and lyrically sparse.

Fade is a perfect radio-single, since it features a return to the dual lead vocals of Ty and Doug, something absent from most of the last two albums.

The next two tracks feature a semi-theme of the album, similar to Sometime, about not always making the right choices and needing forgiveness from those around us. The confession here, though, is that we repeatedly make the wrong choices and try to make excuses. Cupid is an ode to making excuses for a broken heart. Sparsest lyrics on the album, but the whole point is easily summed up in one line: "Cupid shot the wrong guy!"

Production on this album is deliberately poor in places, and I particularily like it on the clean guitars of Ono and Ocean. This latter song is beautiful and uplifting, the brightest spot in a gray but never truly dark album. I dig the waves in the bridge!

Hailing back to the early tracks of the PoundHound album, Little Bit Of Soul urges you to free your life through music. Doug's falsetto vocal gives it a great R-n-B feel. The other uplifting song of the album.

Do you ever hide how you truly feel about someone? Well, maybe they Hate You, too!

And after getting spurned by someone in Ono and Cupid, you realize you weren't Higher Than God at all, and now feel lower than ever. Love the crunchy guitars!

"Now the kingdom of everything is within..."
"And if there's a light inside, it'll shine"

Get older and get over it, look inside and make yourself Happy. If it's gonna change, gonna get better, it'll be because you did something about it, rather than just complaining. Did I mention crunchy guitars?

The anonymous Mr. Evil is probably a friend of dear Mr. Wilson.

Crunch, Crunch! squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek!
Crunch, Crunch! squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek!
Crunch, Crunch! squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek!
squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek squeek!

You know what? After all the paranoid panic of Y2K is over, the World will keep on turning.

Next: Please Come Home...Mr. Bulbous -- Back: Massive Grooves...
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