First Impressions: Red Hot Chili Peppers: I’m With You

I’m currently listening to the new Red Hot album streaming on iTunes for the fourth go around. This long anticipated, 14 track, record has finally hit the public arena and is free to listen to on several applications around the web. Straight from the first song “Monarchy of Roses” it is clear that at its core, the band has not changed. The energy, movement, and rock & roll feel that the Peppers have always embodied remains central to their sound. That said, this album represents the largest shift in sound that the band has ever made between albums. As a whole the album sounds more mainstream than anything that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released before. The tighter structure, adherence to more conventional methods intro/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus (Monarchy of Roses and Factory of Faith for example), as well as the repeat style chorus of “Did I Let You Know,” all lend to this feeling of typical radio music. This isn’t necessarily something to scoff at, but it does impact the way in which the album will be received by more traditional fans.

With the departure of guitarist John Frusciante, the band has lost that unique, funky, – “frooshiness” – if I may, that Frusciante was so worshipped for (be warned this is coming from a guy whose wireless network’s name is Frusciante). His replacement, Josh Klinghoffer (actually one of John’s personal friends) has toured with the band before as a background guitarist on the Stadium Arcardium Tour, providing many of John’s background guitar tracks. While admirably Josh has not simply replicated John’s style on this new record, Klinghoffer’s more atmospheric style leaves most songs feeling a bit empty. Although he does contribute several beautiful acoustic guitar tracks (most notably Brendan’s Death Song) his long, yet note starved, feedback induced, resonation style “solos” really detract and otherwise tarnish what could be a funky blistering mess of sensational talent. The fourth track “Ethiopia” has some groovy verse work and interludes but the main solo is simply a ten second repetition of the same three notes that seems so anticlimactic it’s almost unbearable. And at the second opportunity Josh simply loops the single, haunting beeping tone from the intro. And while these are understandably artistic choices that Josh has made, it comes across as lazy, albeit ill-thought out, and just plain boring. The songs “Annie Wants a Baby” and “Even You Brutus” perhaps demonstrate the best guitar work and merely becomes the tone and style in the song reminisces to the old Frusciante style. If it weren’t for pretty nasty guitar work in “Goodbye Hooray” most of the listeners would not even know Klinghoffer could actually play with some speed.

While the guitar work leaves something to be desired (or least getting used to), this album is by far Anthony’s best vocal work. His lyrics, flow, and melodies are impeccable. Almost every song contains an intricate array of beautifully crafted lyrics, which resonate deep within the listener. Although I have yet to digest the meaning and message behind the words, Kiedis has truly outdone himself here. Close to perfection. My only “complaint” would be that the song titles just seem out of character. Also that the lyrical flow in “Look Around” sounds very similar to “Purple Haze” from Californication.

Probably an effect of the lack of “Frusciantification” on the album, but Flea’s bass grooves take control of most songs. Klinghoffer’s less showboat style guitar and atmospheric solos allow Flea to really expand the bass line. Not that the previous albums have lacked any sort of expansion by Flea, but the listener can really feel the groove and almost taste and feel the articulation on his part (Factory of Faith is a great example). I can’t help but wonder if Flea and Chad wrote all the songs and Josh merely threw in some guitar filler tracks to compliment Kiedis’ lyrics. Probably an unfair statement towards Josh but, that’s just how it sounds. When almost every song starts off with a bass groove and then the drums come in, it feels like Klinghoffer is merely along for the ride. Josh’s work gets progressively better throughout the album, Police Station is a very nice example and while his background vocals aren’t Frusciante quality, they do fill nicely.
As far as the drum talent goes, Chad Smith is and always will be the man. Can’t speak enough to the quality of each subtle ride hit, every off beat snare smack, and that nice cowbell touch on their single (The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, track # 7 on the album).

Speaking of the single, it always seems that the track they release sounds the least like the rest of the album. Just like Dani California off Stadium Arcadium doesn’t really sound like the rest of the album. Its strange how that works (at least to my ears). Besides the entire album, songs worthy of special attention are Monarchy of Roses (great intro to the album) Factory of Faith (very catchy chorus), Brendan’s Death Song (beautiful intro acoustic guitar), Ethiopia (fun verse guitar), Annie Wants a Baby (funky rhythm guitar), Look Around (nothing special but by no means skip-able), The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie (we’ve heard it so much it’s a classic now), Did I Let You Know (which sounds like a combination of Hard To Concentrate and Hey), Goodbye Hooray (Josh finally lets a jam slip out), Police Station (funky jam), Even You Brutus (fantastic Kiedis rap jam and wah guitar by Josh) Meet Me at the Corner (which actually kinda sounds like “Hey&rdquo and Dance, Dance (another solid track).

Overall the album has a very wintery, atmospheric tint to it (most likely indicative of Klinghoffer’s guitar style). It seems appropriate that it is being released in the autumn. This is by every means a fantastic album. And while previous fans must overlook the apparent lack John Frusciante, and all the unique style that he added to the band, Josh brings a more delicate mood to the band which perhaps brought out Kiedis’ beautiful lyrics. This album contains more personal emotions than any previous Peppers album. It is certainly no One Hot Minute Disaster, but again it is nowhere near the groundbreaking event that Californication was. Still, there exists some very high quality music here which any fan can be proud of. I can’t help but think that this may end up being Kiedis’ favorite album and I feel that Klinghoffer’s guitar style better suits Kiedis in general. One thing’s for sure though, as long as Flea and Anthony continue to make music together, the core of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will never die.

Track List:

1. Monarchy of Roses
2. Factory of Faith
3. Brendan’s Death Song
4. Ethiopia
5. Annie Wants a Baby
6. Look Around
7. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
8. Did I Let You Know
9. Goodbye Hooray
10. Happiness Loves Company
11. Police Station
12. Even You Brutus?
13. Meet Me at the Corner
14. Dance, Dance, Dance
My Gear:
-Fender American 1962 Stratocaster Reissue
-1984 Marshall JCM 800 2204
-Ibanez Wh-10 Original
-Boss DS-2 Distortion
-Boss CE-5 Chorus
RHCP thread. But there were a few songs that I enjoyed.
“Just to sum up: I would do various things very quickly.” - Donald Trump
Meh, some songs were good, but the album as a whole was pretty mediocre.
I'm just like the Jonas Brothers,

I'm no longer relevant and write mediocre music.


Edit: I thought it sounded fairly good, and I have been a long time RHCP fan
Quote by travs2448

How many of you are vegan?
Hopefully none

Does anyone know any fun recipes?
Yeah a big juicy flank steak

What can be done with tofu?
Nothing it taste like crap

Is there such thing as vegan meat? Vegan sausages ect
I'm underwhelmed. And my expectations were exceedingly low due to the loss of Froosh.
Please excuse my godawful username. I was thirteen.
The best part of RHCP (for me) has always been John. I was devastated when he left, but vowed to still give the album a go. I've listened to the first few tracks, but I just find it kind of meh. There's just nothing exciting or interesting coming from the guitar. Somewhere in that long and winding copy paste OP it said the guitar seemed like an afterthought, and I agree. I still have to listen to 3/4 of the album, but this is my impression so far.




Quote by Scumbag1792
My God, this must be the smartest/greatest guy ever.
Lol copy and paste? I typed it in word so I wouldn't lose it..
My Gear:
-Fender American 1962 Stratocaster Reissue
-1984 Marshall JCM 800 2204
-Ibanez Wh-10 Original
-Boss DS-2 Distortion
-Boss CE-5 Chorus
I only listened through once, but it's better than SA at least.
Quote by Kozlic
Music doesnt need to be quality to be good.

Press eject, give me the tape, if you know what's good for you
Raindance Maggie sucks unbelievable amounts of ass.
~don't finkdinkle when ur supposed to be dimpdickin~
This album is amazing. The peppers did not disappoint, even with the loss of Frusciante. Haters gonna hate, its their loss if they can't enjoy or appreciate the great music on this album.

And by the way, OP, great post.
Last edited by H2Ozo at Aug 25, 2011,
I can't listen to the album on iTunes, it says expected august 30th, is that because I'm in canada?

and I for one enjoy your blog.
Not a bad album but if I wasn't a RHCP fan already I don't think it would sway me into their fanbase
It didnt leave a lasting impression at first, but after I put it on my ipod, all of the songs have really grown on me.
YEAH! ಠ_ಠ