Late last month, veteran virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani released his latest album Shockwave Supernova. The album, Satriani’s fifteenth full-length studio recording, is perhaps Satch’s best record to date, harking back to the days of Crystal Planet and Is There Love In Space? That is not to say that it just re-hashes the songs presented in those albums. Rather it just means that it possesses the same energy and similar vibe of said albums throughout all fifteen of its tracks. At the same time, the professor doesn’t stick to just one style of song throughout the album. The blues style arrangements for which Satch has become so well known are represented here yet again most notably by the laid back groove of ‘San Francisco Blue.’ The album’s opener and title track clearly show the influence of Satriani’s previously noted albums with its complex arrangement and sound. The album’s closer ‘Goodbye Supernova’ is another good example of the growth exhibited in this album. It shows yet again with its string arrangements and almost Pink Floyd-inspired sound just how in depth Satriani can get with his compositions. Whether through this song, either of the previously noted works, or for any of the album’s other songs not more directly noted here, it can be said that Shockwave Supernova is one of Joe Satriani’s best albums to date, one of the year’s best new rock records, and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall.
Shockwave Supernova is a triple-threat of a record. It is one of the best of this year’s new rock records, one of Satriani’s best albums to date, and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall. That is because the picture painted by the album’s fifteen tracks is one that is entirely new while showing a clear influence from at least a couple of Satch’s classic albums–Crystal Planet and Is There Love in Space? Long-time fans will note that while Satriani doesn’t just re-hash the songs composed for those records in this presentation, the songs do at least show their influence through their collective vibe. One of the album’s arrangements that proves this (and does so quite well at that) is the blues-based jam ‘San Francisco Blue.’ The song’s familiar laid-back groove is established not just by Satriani in this case but also by his band mates–Mike Keneally (keyboards, guitar), Marco Minnemann (drums), and Bryan Beller (bass). It could even be argued that Minnemann’s work behind the kit lies at the heart of that groove. That easy-going groove set against Satriani’s equally smooth riffs and the Beller’s harmonies and low end instantly conjures thoughts of someone overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day, and cruising back and forth along the famous zig-zagging Lombard Street. Listeners could even close their eyes and see people strolling along the bay’s equally famed Fisherman’s Wharf or going for a ride on one of the city’s many legendary cable cars. Such images alongside such a calming and original sound clearly show why this song is an exemplar of this new record’s positives. It is just one of those positives, too. the album’s opener and title track serves as just as much of an example of what makes this record so enjoyable.
The laid-back, easygoing groove of ‘San Francisco Blue’ and the images generated by said groove make this song a clear example of what makes Shockwave Supernova one of Joe Satriani’s best records to date. The vibe generated by that groove will take listeners back to Satriani’s older recordings without leaving them feeling that he has just re-hashed the bluesy pieces included in said records. The title track/opener to this record will have much the same effect. The multiple time signatures that Satriani and company have to negotiate in the song’s opening bars instantly take listeners back to the days of Crystal Planet as do the rest of the song’s driving tempos. While Satriani’s talents are on full display here once again, listeners will be happy to know that he doesn’t hog the limelight here. That is saying quite a bit especially with the song being the album’s opener. Minnemann shines as he maintains the song’s driving tempo all while navigating some rather impressive poly-rhythmic patterns throughout the song. It can be assumed that Mike Keneally handles the keyboard line in this arrangement. And while that line doesn’t necessarily steal the spotlight, it is just as impressive in its subtle addition to the song. The combination of those three lines and Beller’s low-end shows clearly why this song was chosen to open the album and why once again the album in whole proves to be another impressive recording from Joe Satriani.
Both ‘San Francisco Blue’ and ‘Shockwave Supernova’ show in their own way just what makes Joe Satriani’s latest effort such an impressive new collection of songs. Of course they are only part of what makes this record one of the year’s best new rock records and potentially one of the year’s best new records overall. The album’s closer ‘Goodbye Supernova’ is just as solid of an example of what makes Shockwave Supernova so impressive as the previously noted songs. That is because it proves to be just as much of a departure from those previously noted songs as they are from one another. It is a much more reserved work complete with string arrangement and what is either a piano ine or a rather solid bass line. Regardless of bass or piano, that low end, when coupled with the string arrangements and Satriani’s own guitar line, rounds out a work that is just as perfect of a closing number as the album’s title track is an opener. All of the lines combined create a full, rich sound that is both soothing yet mysterious at the same time. It is a sound that is the perfect final statement from Satriani on this record. As with certain other works included in the record, it is another piece that long-time fans will appreciate because of its similarity to works included in the likes of Crystal Planet and Is There Love in Space? At the same time, it serves as a fitting accent that even in its reserved sound is just as strong as any of the more energetic pieces presented throughout the record’s sixty-four minute run time. When combined with those other songs (including the pieces noted here), it becomes the final touch on an album that in whole proves exactly why it is one of this year’s best new rock records and potentially one of the best new albums of the year overall.
Joe Satriani’s fifteenth full-length studio recording is one of this year’s best new rock records and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall. That is proven time and again over the course of the album’s fifteen total tracks. From the familiar blues-tinged sound of ‘San Francisco Blue’ to the equally familiar sound of the album’s opener, which will take long-time fans back to previous great Satriani records such as Crystal Planet and Is There Love in Space? to the reserved yet mysterious sound of the album’s closer this record proves in the end to be one that every listener will appreciate regardless of their familiarity with Joe Satriani’s body of work. The same can be said of the roughly dozen tracks not noted here. Those tracks each add their own element of enjoyment to this album. Collectively, they prove Shockwave Supernova to be a record that while obviously not as powerful as the shockwave from a supernova (to say the least) is a record that will still have quite the impact on audiences. That impact will lead audiences new and old alike to agree that this record is one of the year’s best new rock records and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall. Shockwave Supernova is available now in stores and online. More information on Shockwave Supernova is available online now along with all of the latest updates to Satriani’s current tour schedule and all of his latest news at:
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