It has been five years since The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ last release, and the hype surrounding their tenth record has been monumental. The band has spent the last couple of months blowing up press releases with how excited they are about the new collection of songs and, of course, the new addition to the group.
John Frusciante has been the Chili Peppers’ on-and-off guitarist since 1989’s ‘Mother’s Milk’, and has acted as a crucial asset to the band’s unique sound and unrivaled success. Unfortunately, but not shockingly, Frusciante announced back in December of 2009 that he would not be joining his former band mates in their next musical endeavor. While this came as a harsh blow to the band and their fans, it was by no means a deal-breaker. The band has been through two other guitarists in the past, Hillel Slovak (deceased) and Dave Nevarro (not deceased, but did appear on the reality show “Supergroup”… so more or less), and has never missed a beat. The new face on guitar belongs to one Josh Klinghoffer, an accomplished studio musician who has worked with several noteworthy artists including Beck and Gnarles Barkley. He also played with the Peppers for their Stadium Arcadium tour, which is how he became a serious prospect for a replacement guitarist.
‘I’m With You’ is an interesting mix of old and new Chili Pepper swagger, ranging from upbeat funk grooves, to head-banging rock ballads. Rick Rubin, who has produced every Chili Peppers album since ‘91’s “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”, had each track specially tailored for iTunes downloads. So as a whole, the album is, at the very least, an interesting new product from the band. Here’s a brief review of each song in order of the album:
1. “Monarchy of Roses” – Starts out with a lo-fi, effects washed tribal arrangement barely resembling the Red Hot Chili Peppers we all have come to know, and then suddenly snaps into a shimmering up-beat head banger that even your grandparents couldn’t resist tapping a foot along to. This song is one place on the album where the original members of Kiedis, Flea, and Smith really shine.
2. “Factory of Faith” – A poppy bass driven dance beat fuels this song’s fire. I think Kiedis’s vocals really shine on this one.
3. “Brendan’s Death Song” – This song is a tribute to former booking agent, Brendan Mullen. He died right when the Peppers started on the new record, and on that same day they birthed this song. Check out more on the topic here: http://www.artistdirect.com/entertainment-news/article/red-hot-chili-peppers-talk-brendan-s-death-song-dance-dance-dance-and-more/9049338.
4. “Ethiopia” – The unorthodox time signatures in this song are cool, but they come off as a little chaotic and slightly contrived. This is probably the one most listeners will hit ‘next’ on.
5. “Annie Wants a Baby” – Klinghoffer really shows us what he’s capable of in this one. His guitar creates a beautiful accompaniment to Kiedis’s lyrics.
6. “Look Around” – Personal favorite. This was the first song I randomly chose to listen to after reading a review claiming, “there were no solid rock songs to head band to” … I respectfully (and immediately) disagreed.
7. “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” – This was the band’s first single that they released on the record. Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtBbinpK5XI&feature=player_embedded
8. “Did I Let You Know” – Flea has a trumpet solo after the second verse. Enough said?
9. “Goodbye Hooray” – By far the most aggressive track on the album. Klinghoffer crushes some pretty cool guitar riffs, which is nice to hear. I thought this one had an old-school Incubus feel to it. Oh, and there’s an awesome bass guitar solo too.
10. “Happiness Loves Company” – In a word, “Skip-able”.
11. “Police Station” – Awesome song again for Klinghoffer. If you’re a fan of Kiedis’s book, “Scar Tissue”, you’ll appreciate the lyrics in this one.
12. “Even You, Brutus?” – Cool Julius Ceasar reference! You can tell they’ve matured since the days of song titles like, “Catholic School Girls Rule”. This one is a piano and bass driven hip-hop ballad. If you like to hear Anthony Kiedis rap, you’ll enjoy this tune.
13. “Meet Me at the Corner” – A down-tempo song to get lost in. I guess every album should have at least one of these. I think Klinghoffer resembles Frusciante quite a bit on this one, he has a vocal part too.
14. “Dance, Dance, Dance” – Cool drum beat, cool vocal harmonies, tasteful guitar. Flea says it’s his favorite tune on the new record. I could see this being sung along to at many a future house party.
In summary, “I’m With You” is a solid new addition to the ten albums that the Red Hot Chili Peppers now have locked into their arsenal. Sure, it wasn’t as quite as great as ‘Californication’ or ‘By The Way’, but those are some pretty ridiculous standards to hold any band to. In regards to the guitarist change, I think Klinghoffer really proved himself as an asset to the band. I don’t think you can call him a direct replacement for Frusciante, but then again, they are completely different players. Additionally, I think it’s important to take a look at things from Klinghoffer’s perspective. It’s got to be pretty intimidating getting into the recording studio with one of the most popular rock bands of our time. Can you really blame him for keeping things low-key on his debut album? At the end of the day, he does a great job of keeping his guitar tasteful and appropriate. And honestly, when you have Anthony Kiedis on vocals, Flea on bass, Chad Smith on drums, and Rick Rubin as your producer, that’s really all you need.
Quick Review: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Monarchy of Roses
Brian’s Death Song
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Dance, Dance, Dance
Happiness Loves Company
Anthony Keidis’s new mustache.
Written by Jordan Schneider