I listened to these tunes about half a dozen times back when you posted the final mp3 of the 12 and I had the complete album, I guess three months or so ago. I liked some of it but overall felt like it needed more work. Then I listened again a few times in the last couple of days and this is what I think of Laker after revisiting it and having it sink in over time. For the record my take is about 85% influenced by the music and 15% on the lyrics. That's just how I listen to rock - I do like a good set of lyrics and they do make a difference, but the meat of it for me is always the music.
Oolong doesn't leave much of an impression on me. Some fun noises but nothing that moves me emotionally or imaginatively.
Detritus sounds like travelling in an old convertable or on a bike on desert roads. It sounds nomadic. That repeating picked chord progression gives it a feeling of time passing without anything changing emotionally but the fun and unpatterned wah-wah keyboard lead evokes changing scenery along the road. When the vocal comes in near the end it feels like arrival at some roadside bar or diner, climbing out of the car or off the bike and wandering into human contact again.
Speaking of that, The Bounce has a nice sleazy vibe, like it was born in a roadhouse. There's a dirty swing to the beats and the wah gat out front is confrontational without being muscular. The bass holds the two together, linking the sex in the drumming with the fight in the gat. This one really grew on me.
I like the riff and drumming out front of Strange too, it returns to the laid back cruise of Detritus, like you've hit the road again but there's more purpose and momentum than in Detritus. The only thing I'd change if it was my song or if I was covering it would be to tighten up the middle, where it loses that momentum and becomes meandering. I don't feel like it needs to be 5:11.
Barrens is the bad guy and his gang barrelling along in the opposite direction to our guy, on an inevitable course to an unplanned rendezvous. The groove is at once swinging, swaggering, because of what the rhythm section is doing, and jagged because of the guitar riff and tone. This one gets my fight or flight engaged. There's menace in it, and a formidable fearlessness. Great track, maybe my favourite.
Defenestration doesn't really jive with the previous four songs for me (not that anyone said it's supposed to), it's a song set in the air. It's a flying car or a ship in the atmosphere. The plucked, effected, loosey goosey keys that run from about :30 don't do much for me, but when they settle into a more widescreen vibe around 1:33 and are soon joined by that stabbing guitar is when the song lifts away from Earth for me and starts to get evocative. And it's a nice flight, nothing strenuous or aerobatic but swooping and banking and with a great view.
Little Wizard is back on the deck, on the road starting out widescreen and open-air and panoramic and continuing just as awesomely. There's a palpable joy to it that's right up my alley because of that big guitar riff that seems like a cousin of Keith Richards or Ronnie Wood might have written it. Really effective dynamics too with either full breakdowns or just the bass dropping out. The only thing I'd change would be the last 13 seconds, where the momentum dies off instead of exploding. But overall another great track, probably my equal favourite with Barrens. If there's a way it fits into the narrative in my head this song is where our guy sees a vision of gorgeousness dancing by herself, fearlessly, with quiet confident joy and strength and womanliness, in an otherwise deserted part of another roadside joint. She's dancing for herself but she's not going out of her way to be private about it. She just doesn't care who sees. But she'll let our guy buy her a drink.
Laker has that fucking sweeeeeet riff that plays perfectly with the bass and drums. I mean a fucking sweeeeeeeeeet riff. It's not until the vocal comes in that menace of Barrens becomes apparent again, like we're either back with the bad guys gang or a crooked sherriff just came in the bar. Really good song.
One For One is a confrontation, another cool riff and groove that'd be at home in Josh Homme's home to kick it off. The chorus goes RHCP-esque, but instead of being Keidisly boring like RHCP it drives onward and upward like The Lucky Nightsticks. The solo near the end is perfectly loose. Another really good, fun track.
Taken on its own Valhalla probably wouldn't grab me. The whacky keyboard lead and meandering chord riff just keep me at arms length personally, I'd end up dismissing it as too hippyish or something, because there's an earnestness that's not really my bag. But in the context of the cinematic vibe and narrative this album gives me it's almost perfect. "Looks like a good day for riding ... straight on into the horizon." There's a nice hook to that melody too, and the song overall is like a strangely laid back, almost tensionless but still captivating finale where our guy is effortlessly dealing to bad guys in an ultra slo-mo fight scene.
Antimatter is more cool riffs. The left and right panned single note gats work a treat together and then later when one breaks onto the chord riff and the other takes lead duties they compliment each other really well. One of my favourite vocal melodies on this one too. If I changed anything it'd be to run different beats. The drum pattern on this one could benefit from being as muscular as the riffs instead of that offbeat snare funking around and holding the thing back from really sinking into a satisfying groove. It's kissing the girl and riding off into the sunset, badass as a dream. Roll credits.
On The Dervish you guys bring back that RHCP vibe but it doesn't fuck things up for me. I think it's because it's RHCP by way of Meat Puppets, or some such combo. That's not to say it feels ripped off, just to pick the vibe. So it's a cool enough song, but I find that that by the time I'm getting to it at the end of the album I'm done with the narrative and in the lap of aural fatigue, so it feels unnecessary. I'd relocate it back into the middle somewhere, or maybe even just swap it with Antimatter, because The Dervish is a fight scene too.
So overall I'm glad I came back round for another trip with Laker. A lot more of it stuck two or three months after first spending time with it. If it was mine I'd cut Oolong off the front, take out Defenestration (as a stand-alone single with Oolong as b-side) and swap the positions of Antimatter and The Dervish. But I could have totally missed the point of the whole album so I'm at home to having that tracklisting suggestion ignored.
eta: I just read back to Micah's post and realised I downloaded these with a totally different track order. I don't have the cd so I worked out the track order from how you gave it in the posts about these songs. I guess it changed in between me downloading them and the cds being put together.