Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

Phish, "Joy" (JEMP Records) [2.5 out of 4 STARS]

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Throughout the extraordinarily successful first act of its career, the fact that Vermont's most acclaimed jam band recorded 10 studio albums was more or less irrelevant: As the most dedicated Phishead will tell you with a wide grin and heavy-lidded eyes, "It was all about the live adventure, man!" Indeed, Billboard reports that while the group's bestselling disc ("Hoist," 1994) moved only 663,000 units, and its last ("Undermind," 2004) racked up a mere 139,000 sold, from the period between 1989 and its split five years ago, the band peddled more than 5.8 million concert tickets to some 475 shows. That's a whole heck of a lot of T-shirts that will forever reek of patchouli and pot smoke.

Despite the accomplishment of having become the post-Jerry Grateful Dead for a new generation of grungy road trippers and tailgating partiers, guitarist and bandleader Trey Anastasio, keyboardist Page McConnell, drummer Jon Fishman and bassist Mike Gordon always seemed peeved that rock radio and MTV pretty much ignored them, and so they kept going back to the studio, often with mildly pleasant if far from earth-shaking results. Though I'm by far in the minority, I actually preferred recorded Phish to live Phish--I just can't abide by the unfocused and never-ending onstage jams, dudes--especially in the early days circa "Junta" (1989) and "Lawnboy" (1990), when there still was a lot more Genesis-style progressive rock in the mix instead of jazz-fusion/hippie-twirling wank and head-scratching stylistic detours into, say, barbershop quartet--the sort of thing that's an unforgivably bad idea no matter how stoned you are.

Well, the prog is back with a vengeance, at least on the 13-minute, 30-second "Time Turns Elastic," the most remarkable track from the reunited group's new disc, "Joy." Producer Steve Lillywhite--who previously helmed "Billy Breathes" in 1996, though he'll forever be best known for having some role in eight of U2's biggest albums--has said that the 15 different sections of the pseudo-orchestral suite took 278 takes to nail. Yet for all of that, it's a catchy little ditty, meandering along in a cheerfully dizzying way like a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

Unfortunately, nothing else on "Joy" is nearly as ambitious musically--and no, sorry, I do not count McConnell's pseudo-lounge tune, Gordon's heavy-handed stab at reggae or any of the jazz excursions. Thematically, though Anastasio told Rolling Stone that many of the lyrics deal with his struggle with drugs, his efforts to return to the land of the living after his 2006 arrest for possession and the recent death from cancer of his sister, the insights can best be described as sub-fortune cookie--and sometimes they're not even that good.
"Got a blank space where my mind should be," is the line that jumps out of "Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan," while "Ocelot"... well, it just has to be heard to be believed: "Ocelot, ocelot, where are you now?... You prance with the beasts that parade every night/And silently slouch through the forest by light."

Nevertheless, there's something noble in a band that really has nothing left to prove still chasing after the one goal that eludes it. Concert ticket sales alone are guaranteed to maintain spectacular trust funds for all the Phish men's spawn in perpetuity, and the group easily could have stuck with live recordings for as long as Act Two lasts, especially since it's now back where it was at the start of its career, funding its own recordings and releasing them independently. (JEMP is Phish's own label.) And rock radio and MTV barely even exist anymore, so who are they trying to impress now?

In any event, cudos to the boys for trying and, "Time Turns Elastic" aside, failing. One of these days, they may yet make an album as good as "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway."

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wow. you have no idea what you are talking about. stop writing about phish.

You, sir, have no clue about the history of phish at all. Nor have you a clue about the subjectivity of your own statements, which speak far more of your ignorance than they do of any music. If you want to go and give historical facts, then at least try to get those correct; (i.e. "as long as act two lasts" - ummm...try act three). It's o.k. to not give a gleaming review, just try to get the facts correct to lend a bit of credibility to the rest of your unresearched facts.

I'm a phish fan and though I haven't heard the album yet, I'm familiar enough with all the songs to be pretty confident this is a fair review. Its not going to get any love outside the fan base, and I'm not sure it should.

That said, I'll be buying it and still hitting as many shows as I can.

This is probably the worst review of an album that I ever read, and I'm not even a Phish fan. This review has no more that a mention of two songs, but plenty of subjective, non-supported jibberish.

A review of an album should describe the songs so that a person reading the review can make up his or her own mind as to whether it would be compelling to listen to. This article just tells me whether you, the "critic" liked it or not. Personally, I don't care if a critic likes an album or not as tastes among people are different.

You need to take a "Music Review 101" class.

I feel that Mr. Jim DeRogatis is severely biased and judgmental about the band Phish. This review, already stating that the band has failed on their attempt at a new album, is a pathetic attempt at, well, making himself feel better? The band doesn't make albums to impress anyone, they do it to introduce new music, that will now be a part of their repertoire, to their fans. Reviewers, MTV, and FM radio are not even a thought to consider when they are recording. Basically, I am a fan, and since you have made a poor attempt to bash their music and livelihood, I am being over critical and biased saying you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. Do some research first, and you won't look like a fool. WOW.

Mr DeRogatis covers 'pop music' for the chicago sun times. he spent 35 minutes on wikipedia and wrote this review which is of high school caliber at best. plus, just look at him

I'm sad to live in Chicago, be a fan of Phish, and read this in my local paper. Such a narrow, skewed, and stereotypical review. It's a shame that one would even approach writing a review in this manner, but if putting down a band's fans as all being losers and druggies gets you through the day (and gets you paid) then I guess more power to you!

Sadly though, this review offers no substance on the actual music, and for someone who hasn't heard the album, provides very little thoughtful or earnest coverage of the music on the album itself. Why even bother writing a review of a band (and its fans) who you obviously can't stand? It's pathetic that the ST even pays for garbage like this. Obviously they are just trying to be the next UK Sun. Yeah... you see what I did there? I made a royally awful comparison that is completely off the mark. Not unlike Mr. DoucheRogatis.

You know...I'll actually take this from DeRo...can't believe I just wrote this. Remember this review is coming from a man who prefaced his moe. review by saying 'baby dead challenged ears' least he admits he's biased. By no means is this Phish's best studio work and this is what is being reviewed. That being said, I would like him to find one band that incorporates the chops, zaniness and risk taking in the live setting. Back to Joy...TTE is the best song on the album...personally I didn't like it at the summer shows but its easily one of Trey's best prog pieces since the Rift days.

jesus christ dude! shut the hell up!

I think you dropped a star and a half back there, perhaps while distracted by your own predisposition to dislike anything that may be remotely correlated with the word "hippie". I admire your prog sensibilities and agree that TTE is a fine offering to the genre, but I believe you have overlooked some of the finer points of the album. Let's start with Backwards Down the Number Line, perhaps the most publicly accessible song the band has ever recorded. Just enough "noodle" to keep anyone who appreciates the finer points of guitar work happy, and enough pep and catchiness to grab people who may not know it's the band "Phish" playing the song. The line you decry as "sub-fortune cookie" in Faulty Plan is merely a reference to confusion in several areas (age / drugs), but as a prog enthusiast, you forget the prime observation of prog: The lyrics mean nothing if the music doesn't rage, and Faulty Plan rages against all opinions to the contrary. If you ever knew Phish the rock band (not the "look at the stupid hippies" stereotype), you would know that Joy is a major return to form, harkening back to the days of A Picture of Nectar, and a treat for all classic rock fans who miss the days when a band would play rock without apologizing for playing to the fullest extent of their talent.

wow, it took you the first paragraph to go completely typical of anything written about phish. the last sentence shows you have no interest in being objective of the band, their fans, and the live experience. your review is terrible and shows your biases

2.5 out of 4 is a fair rating for this album. However, the only thing you got factually right is that Phish is okay but far from great in the studio. Your reasoning/writing is atrocious and pathetic for a major publication, if the Times still is one. You have 6 paragraphs yet it is far from certain you even listened to the music. You just repeat the tired cliches of 'GD like,' 'pot,' 'patchouli,' 'ignored by radio/MTV.' Couldn't you spare a couple paragraphs to describing why THIS album and not Phish over the past 20 years is a 2.5 in the studio?

Have to chime again... Capt Obvious nailed it. Why retell the Phish story and not just go song x song and tell the reader what you like/dislike then focus on the overall feel of the obviously had the space to write it but I'm guessing you gave the album one listen and then went back to whatever else you were doing. Whether you're a fan or not, EVERYONE knows the generalized Phish story...makes the review and reviewer come off as sophmoric. Allmans/Widespread come through town on Tues and Wed and although those bands sound sounds nothing like Phish I guarantee that the review of the show would sound eerily similar to this album.

Why can't a critic write about Phish without mentioning pot and the Greatful Dead? I know its easier to wheel out these tired cliche's than actually listening to the album and putting together something of substance but isn't that your job? Please try harder next time, you put alot on paper without saying much at all.

It's sad you have no clue. Carry on.

Since 1989, Phish has played a hell of a lot more than 475 shows. I could care less about your review but a little research would have been nice.

Although I agree with the rating, this is a truly awful excuse for a review.

You, Mr. DeRogatis, are an idiot! I base this just by looking at your picture and reading a short pathetic review on an album by a band that you obviously have no clue about. Maybe get a job that you are cut out for because this one clearly is not for you.

Congrats, it only took you three sentences to get to the pot smoke and patchouli cliches.

The new album is great! Can't wait for some live shows this fall!

This writer is just another moron!

agree with neil... dude,,, what??? i lovethe song joy.. whatever

I understand that there are people that like to get high at a phish show, but i don't get it why reviewers can't get over that fact when reviewing their albums or shows. Honestly, I don't think I have been to a show without seeing people toke up. In fact, I saw local favorites Smashing Pumpkins 10 years ago and I saw as much pot smoking as I have ever seen at a Phish show. But you wont hear reviews talk about that when reviewing the Pumpkins.

wow. Now I know why of the 7 shows i attended, Chicago was the crowd that i disliked the most. what a joke. I am sure the album isn't a 4 out 4, but I am not going to listen to anyone who thinks "Time Turns Elastic" is the best new track, and prefers their studio recordings to their live music. Find someone who knows something about music that is fit to publish. My shirts don't smell like pot, because I don't smoke it.

Seriously, Don't you have a Ludacris album to review?

I had an opportunity to see 5 shows this summer, heard most of the live tunes at those 5 shows, and if I didnt' hear them at a live show, I listened to the recordings of the summer shows I didn't get a chance to see. This reviewer is CLUELESS. TTE is considered in many realms of the phish community the weakest song of the Album, even in its live form. This reviewer does not have any credibility in my book and dos not appreciate the band and their music for what it is and what they do. Mr. DeRo... are you on drugs?

Nice effort in reviewing friend. However, you lost me when you said Time Turns Elastic was the best song to come from the project and then referenced the Beatles. It was the proverbial crack that turned into a leak and sunk your ship.

Phish and there latest studio offering needs to be placed (along w/ most Phishtory)in context. One need to simply look at the lyrics and hear choral longing feel of Backwards Down The Number Line. Now relate what you've found to Trey and Tom Marshall(main songwriting partner)feelings turned into music as Trey's sister slipped away, a victim of cancer.

My wife prefers studio Phish to live Phish so I understand where you come from. Truthfully though Phish can be disected from so many angles it probably isn't worth the time. So go grab A Live One and listen to Chalkdust Torture. It will make you smile.

Not that it really matters, but I have Bachelor degree in business administration, another in accounting, and a Masters degree in Hotel Management. I am also a huge Phish fan. I have to concur with most of the responses to your review. I would suggest that you pull this nonsense and write an actual review of the album "Joy". After reading this, I know nothing more about the songs/recordings on this album than I did from reading the track listing on Phish's website. Sure there is a hippie scene associated with Phish, but these guys are nothing less than incredible musicians. Review the album. You owe it to your news organization and the general public, not to mention Phish fans.

Jim, well I can't call this a "fair and balanced" review, it's certainly entertaining to see the hippies squirm a bit about their golden boys. It's what regular readers of you have come to expect and it certainly gave me a smile over my morning coffee. However, I do know the feeling of eagerly waiting for a beloved band's new album or hoping a new movie will be great, only to have you or Mr. Ebert rip these expectations to shreds. That isn't always a bad thing as sometimes my personal bias has to be shaken up so i can see things in a different perspective. As for Phish I've always been a big fan of their 90's recordings too and have seen them live 6 times (including Chicago this past month). The Chicago show was a microcosm of every live Phish experience ive ever had wrapped into one. The parking lot was pretty much bourbon street for a couple of hours. Cops were arresting people for selling nitrous (hippies, lol) but otherwise were allowing patrons to smoke whatever they liked while they bought beer, food, and "other" things from the numerous parking lot merchants (many who had very nice tents). The venue, although in Illinois and thus non-smoking, had no pat-down entrance procedure and smoking of any kind was again frequent in the crowd. Being on the floor with a group of 8 people I can say that while there are many Phish fans who are still as jerky and stinky as back in the day at Alpine, many have gotten much older and much more calm. The music itself was a mix of good and bad as well. I had a first set moment of "oh no here we go again" as they played 2 25 minute spectacles of jam nonsense (one being VERY Genesis like btw which i had never considered before). However the second set was incredibly tighter, much faster and hard rocking in pace and sound, and had the crowd dancing in rhythm for well over an hour (maybe the drugs had kicked in for them). It is this mix of very entertaining and mindnumbing jams that has always left me at odds with Phish. In the end I think they will be historically known, much like the Grateful Dead, for their ability to fill arenas and sell merchandise (while supporting a massive underground infrastructure)in an independent fashion and without radio/MTV play. You see bands like Pearl Jam selling their own live recordings for cheap, Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails selling albums online (i got in rainbows for 0 pounds!), and you realize that wile Phish may always end up with mixed results musically they have had a profound impact on the industry itself.

whoa, this is an album review??...worst one I've ever read for sure. this knob has no clue of phish history or what the band is about at all. love the stereotype right of the bat about patchouli stank and pot smoke...what a cliche, grow up man. I have heard "Joy". it's pretty good, but in my opinion not their best studio work...i like billy breathes better. the new songs are solid, fit in well at shows, but agree they won't be accepted much outside of the fan base. this dude who wrote this review needs to stick to writing about things he actually knows about...which at this point i am wondering just what that might be...

Oh dear God Chicago-Sun Tribune! Where do you find these lazy, uneducated music writers? This is the second painfully ignorant review I've read in your publication in less than a month. Seriously, this guy should be fired for plagiarism alone as this review fails to contain even a grain of original thought.

poor bastard

oh and it really is laughable that people like you after all these years still think that it is important that you give your opinion about a band as serious as phish. phish eats your soul.

Jim, I generally agree with 98% of your opinions on music and I am a longtime fan. However, every time you talk about Phish I wanna reach through my headphones/monitor and xxxxxxxx you in the xxxxxxxx. I do like how you completely buried that compliment of Junta and Lawnboy though. Personally, I'm always shocked when I hear a New Jersey pseudo-hipster DOESN'T like Phish. Its good to hear that at least you prefer the epic compositions to the 2-chord boredom that they seem to think fans love. Maybe some do, but I certainly don't. Every time I hear 'Prince Caspian' or 'Birds of a Feather', I just feel embarrassed. Improvisational music is not about the bad moments though, its about the good ones, and on that note, no one delivers better than Phish. It is rare that a band can fall apart so completely (imo) multiple times and still come back as the undisputed kings of their genre. Thank you for taking the time to review this album.

ps. I'm pretty sure you can't get a t-shirt to smell like pot smoke- at least not for long

kudos on the spellcheck? haha

"any of the jazz excursions"

wtf? is he even listening to the same album as the rest of us? there are no jazz excursions on Joy, nothing even a little bit close.

this review is so poorly researched it should be considered slanderous

Maybe you should take a music class or two at your little community college before you attempt to write about one of the most successful acts in American music history. Mike Gordon's "heavy-handed stab at reggae?" Sugar Shack has nothing at all to do with reggae. And could you please point out the "jazz excursions?" You clearly don't know what jazz is. And mentioning concert shirts that reek of patchouli and pot smoke? That is the most pathetically cliche thing you possibly could have written.

How can you be close-minded about this? You must have an open mind and agree with the Phish fans! If you do not agree with them, you do not have an open mind! There is no room for debate!

The very open-minded Phish fans have spoken.

I am a phish fan and I enjoy your review. I disagree with you about time turns elastic, I think it is terrible. But you did an excellent job of reviewing the band and album.

phish > jim derogatis

Jim DeRogatis sure looks like he's had his cases of the munchies now and again over the years.

is he a closet phish fan trying to impress his Chicago Pop Music audience?!

Maybe he spelled his name wrong - I think its Jim DeRogative...

I thought this review was completely dead on accurate. I fully agree with everything that the author had to say within the article. As a 12 year old boy, I just want to say that I cannot wait for the Jonas Brothers to come back to Chicago!!! Yay!!!

Let me try to explain where Jim DeRogatis is coming from. DeRogatis is a music journalist who depends on a newspaper for his livelihood. Newspapers are rapidly evaporating for-profit ventures. To surivive, DeRogatis must deliver the kind of writing and ideas that please his corporate masters and service their vanities.

This is why DeRogatis begins his piece with the throw-away comments about "heavy-lidded eyes" and "patchouli and pot smoke"-- he is signaling to the general readership and to his bosses that he shares with them an uninformed, hackneyed, and cartoonish view of the subject. This is an odd posture for someone who claims to be a journalist, but we quickly see that DeRogatis is no journalist; for example, Phish actually played 1,039 shows from January '90 to August '04-- not 475.

DeRogatis also makes the claim that Phish "always seemed peeved" my their lack of mainstream success. Although he ends up basing the last half of his piece on this notion, he offers no support for it whastoever.

Finally, it's spelled k-u-d-o-s.

Your review is so obviously biased against the band and its fans, that it makes you look stupid. Seriously. I know you're smarter than this.

It's spelled kudos, idiot.

Sorry you never saw the Camden Sand, Jim.

This is, once again totally expected. Most music fans, let alone music critics, arent intelligent enough to understand what this band does.

This is not an album review, your literary skills are sub-par, and stop trying to act cool with your
criticizing techniques.
Bet you didn't listening to Party Time !!!
beginner ....

"rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read" FZ

This is quite possibly one of the worst reviews I have ever read. The unemployment rate in this country is too high for someone who writes and reviews as poorly as you to have a job. If I were an English 101 professor I would have to give your poor excuse for an opinion an F. You have told me absolutely nothing about this album besides the fact that you think Time Turns Elastic sounds "Proggish." For your sake you should pray this review flies under your editor's radar or else you too may end up unemployed. KYS


you should go ahead and kill yourself now.

I can't believe that either of Chicago's papers is even associated with this guy. All the run-sentences and half-balked analogies aside, you make absolutely no relevant musical arguments for giving this band or this record a 2.5/4.0 stars. This is less of a review an more of you telling the world that "you don't like the hippie types or the circus music". You were probably in a fraternity, have the spiked jock pointy's on the front of your hair, and think you are an accomplished journalist. Please, when reviewing music, steer the content towards something resembling an honest constructive criticism of the musical content, song structure, album art of the piece you are reviewing.

This article sucks. Stuckdog1976

I can't believe that either of Chicago's papers is even associated with this guy. All the run-sentences and half-balked analogies aside, you make absolutely no relevant musical arguments for giving this band or this record a 2.5/4.0 stars. This is less of a review an more of you telling the world that "you don't like the hippie types or the circus music". You were probably in a fraternity, have the spiked jock pointy's on the front of your hair, and think you are an accomplished journalist. Please, when reviewing music, steer the content towards something resembling an honest constructive criticism of the musical content, song structure, album art of the piece you are reviewing.

This article sucks. Stuckdog1976

V wrote:
"You need to take a "Music Review 101" class."

V stole the word's right out of my mouth. I didn't realize the Sun-Tribune had such an amateur paper. This article is a prime example of how badly corporate media has dis-solved, and the level at which hacks will use stereotypes as a substitute for articulation This is music you're supposed to be reviewing, Jim. You must've missed the 'Unbiased Journalism' workshop when you were in night school. It's the cornerstone to professional journalism that you, sir, are lacking.

Shame on you.

Is it cliche to say that this reviewers comments are cliche? Wow, I learned NOTHING from this review.

you spelled kudos wrong

everyone is entitled to their opinion but Jim provides no basis for why this album receives 2.5 stars of 4..the line "seemed peeved that rock radio and MTV pretty much ignored them, and so they kept going back to the studio" is completely untrue, I've never even heard about this as a mild phish rumor...I highly doubt that Phish cares how many albums they sell, they understand that they are a live band and going into the studio to record is an opportunity for them to write new material, hone their craft and take their learnings and new material to the live setting where it can really morph into something new and different....

If you'd like to read a "real" track-by-track review of Joy written by an actual fan, head on over to Hidden Track
and see what Scotty B had to say about it.

It's got the obligatory Dead reference like this review, but the similarities end there.


Somebody get this guy :

1: An editor. this is the most uninformative review ever.

2: A trophy for finding a job where you get paid to do NOTHING.

I would like to thank the reviewer for trying....and FAILING.

Failing @ having no respect for your readers.
Nice job !

"Kill yourself." "This article sucks." "This is the worst review..." "Amateur." "You call yourself a journalist." Lighten up, folks. It makes you sound very insecure in your own opinions if you just can't handle it when others don't agree. I'd wager Derogatis got the facts you're so concerned about from Phish's press release(s), but if that's not the case, and he did poor research, I think you'll all live through it.

This is THE worst Phish review I've ever read. Peeved at MTV? Please. If you don't like improvisational music, don't write about it.

SIIYB....worst. review. ever

cudos to me for knowing how to spell kudos. Jim gets paid to write AND listen to music.

I am not particularly a fan of Phish, but I must say, this review sounds like it was written by someone who went into listening to the album already disliking the band's nature. How, then, can you presume to write an article that relies on objective, unbiased reporting? The author should be shipped back to Journalism's Double-A ball. Take a few more classes on how to listen to music objectively, or go back to the bloggosphere with the rest of the hate-mongerers.

this guy clearly just doesn't "get" it.

"always seemed peeved that rock radio and MTV pretty much ignored them"

Hahaha, sure, it would seem that way to somebody who has no idea what they're talking about. But if you actually did know what you were talking about, you'd know the band has expressed on different occasions that they don't care about being "ignored" by rock radio or EmptyV. They've enjoyed success that meets or rivals 90% of artists on rock radio or EmptyV.

Some words of advice: Eat less twinkies, and actually do research into a band before embarrassing yourself by tarnishing your supposed jounalistic credentials with false information.

oh jim... if only you had a clue

here's a review of your face... it's ugly

This review is complete crap. Buy the album and decide for yourself. Stealing Time, BDTNL, Joy, Kill Devil Falls, and Twenty Years Later are awesome tunes. If Jim DeRogatis enjoys studio Phish to Live Phish then he obviously doesn't know Phish. Maybe Jim should attend 8 so the fanbase can dose him.
Marco Esquandolas

You do a lot of hanging out with Bobby Reed?

Worst review ever. Why don't you go listen to creed and nickleback... Oh and maybe if you would dance to Phish's new album you might lose a few lbs.... Just saying. Cheeseburger?

DeRo is of the type that loathes anything remotely "hippie" and/or popular while at the same time will absolutely fluff any "underground" act to no end in an obvious attempt to be hettie and on the cusp.
It must suck to grow old, alone, and bloated trying to remain "in the game".
Its too bad that with all the cuts the Sun Times have made, this guy was not one of them as the vast majority of the time his writings reek of self-loathing and dislike for others that are even slightly different instead of sticking to actual music reviews and not going on tangents making weak generalizations of any bands fan base etc. etc.
As they say though, any press is good press and its obvious this guy just likes to push the negativity buttons to get people talking and therefore justify that he is an important piece of the industry and/or Chicago.
Its hilarious to see how many people at local shows run into this guy and let him know what a turd sammich he really is.
Sweet Lyphe man!
Its only a matter of time though before he gets the cut and when one less podium for this guy is taken away, Chicago will indeed be better for it.

Hey Jim,

Damn, the phish fans are almost as nasty as the DMB crowd, (though I have a feeling that there might be some overlap in the fanbases).

I love the people who get upset over the "subjective" nature of your reviews. What is this objectivity they are looking for? Because honestly folks, by any empirical,objective measure, Phish totally blow. They traffic in the subjective! That personal buzz you get off of hearing a song keep, on going and going and going, is their bread and butter. Think about it.

And so much hate, and bad fat jokes... that doesn't sound like neo-hippie Phish fans to me. Next time you post a message Phisheads just remember WWTD... what would trey do?

I have listened to this whole album and have to disagree with this review. While some of the tracks are a bit slow for me, Joy in particular gives me a Velvet Sea vibe, their are a few songs that blow me away. "Time Turns Elastic," is definitely one of them, but probably my favorite song off this album is "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan." I am somewhat biased because I play guitar and Trey is definitely in my top 3 favorite guitar players. But the second song listed, "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan," is your classic Trey ripping it up, but the lyric's are decent and whole flow of the song is killer.

Why do you think that they are trying to appease you and other critics? They have been, for quite some time, to the point in their careers where they can make an album because they WANT to. This is about them putting together songs that signify the state that the band is in right now. If you think that they are chasing some double platinum dream you are insane. This is a disc for them... they all have been. They already have more money than they can every know what to do with while living rather modest lifestyles.
Keep writing about Miley, Britney and Mariah


That is the worst review of any artist. You dont know anything about phish. Are you either a frat boy or you are a 60 year old republican

4 of your 6 paragraphs do not relate to this specific album at all. Based on your preassumptions in the beginning of this article, I wouldn't doubt you rated it before you gave it a listen. This band doesn't strive for 3 minute pops songs looking for the next big hit. If you love music enough write reviews of it, you should know there is more to music than instant gratification and record sales.

Your review should be about the music, not about your outside view of "some" of the bands' fans. go review some brittny spears or american idol contestant album.

At ther very least tell the readers WHY you did or didn't like the MUSIC.

what a jerk off

I love that the moderator is letting all the hateful fat jokes and other idiocy through. Pretty much exposes the whole open minded, good natured fanbase as a fraud. I think Phish can handle it, unlike you. BTW, there's 60 years of improvised jazz and rock that came before Phish, and to their credit, Phish knows, understands and respects that even if a LOT of people think they are not very good at playing it. Their hateful, angry fans on the other hand...try a Captain Beefheart record. If you don't like it, I promise won't call you a fat, no nothing loser.

Sebastian, your critique on Phish and their phans would be a lot more legit if you actually had a minimal knowledge of grammar in the English language. Seriously dude, learn how to write before actually attempting to burn an entire phanbase that destroys you in IQ points. And for the record, there is very little overlap in the DMB and Phish phanbase, and if you were an astute student of music and pop culture, you would know that.

Wow, come on, Phishheads, lighten up. I'm a big fan from back in the day (the tape trading days), so I'd like to think I speak from a position of semi-reasoned authority. So Jim doesn't like the album much. So??? I totally disagree with this review - I've been loving these new songs, and I've listened to the album itself a few times and think it's among their best studio work. But it's one man's opinion...of a studio album by a band that isn't known for the strength of their studio albums. Written by a guy who prefers their studio albums to the live Phish experience. Highlighting that particular passage from "Ocelot" is kind of odd, as it isn't a remarkably bad lyric. But that aside, you have here the rare rock critic who actually kind of likes Phish. Let him not like the album, for god's sake. It doesn't hurt my enjoyment of it one bit.

I always find reviews such as this hilarious, not for the review but for the commentary that follows because music cannot be reviewed by an objective lens. Never in this review has Jim claimed to have the "All-Knowing" pompous attitude that his is the only opinion. And by providing a background to his likes and dislikes as a critic only points out to me the reader his previous listening experience and opinions.

Let's face it, established acts have a bias, both good and bad that inversely reflect our overall opinion of the band and their music. If you are reading this as a diehard Phish fan your opinions and thoughts of their last album will be in context to that. A Phish fan has just as much subjectivity as Jim, albeit from a different perspective.

Think about it this way, if you are a Phish fan listening to this album, your like and/or dislike for this album is based on your prior appreciation for their music and you will ultimately compare this album to their past work. How many fans of any band have compared a current work to a past body of work or rank an album among the best or worst of their career?

When a friend recommends a band or album do you not take it into the context of the type of music they listen to? What Jim has done through his reviews is provide a bio of who he is. We know that he appreciates a band like the Feelies, he appreciated early R.E.M., not so much now, he saw the new Animal Collective album as a growth upon, in his opinion, their hit and miss albums prior to this. And yes, if the Feelies come out with another album and he gushes over it, I would take that into context that he is a fan, conversely, if he were to give it a negative review, that would take that into context as well.

I do not always agree with him, (See Grizzly Bear's Latest) but at least it makes me think about why I appreciate an album which is one reason why I read his reviews to begin with.

And quite honestly, from the perspective of this reader, Jim's review is actually not half bad. A 2.5 star album is marginally positive. He shows a preference to their recorded music, appreciating the prog rock influences that the band has shown in the past. It could be much worse.

Ya'll need to understand how much you embarrass yourselves here. For the ones above who claim "there is nothing similar between the DMB and Phish fanbases", well, your responses here alone show how similar fanboys are everywhere. And by the way, there are a huge amount of overlaps between all music fanbases, so many DMB fans will be listening to this album. A couple thoughts:

1. Pop is not bad. Phish covered Katy Perry, played with Jay-Z, and in Specimens of Beauty Trey discussed the difficulty of making a pop song and how he wanted to make one. Just because something is popular does not make it bad, jambands can be just as derivative as pop music. SCI is just as uninventive as coldplay. Want something new? Listen to The XX.

2. Music reviews are never objective. They never were nor should they ever be. They are as subjective as could possibly be, in fact, the entire point is that they should express the reviewers opinion and nothing else. If he does not enjoy it, so be it, shouldn't affect your opinion. The only reason I read critical reviews is to decide whether to check out bands I've never heard of. Oftentimes, if a band scores above a 7 or 75 from Pitchfork or Metacritic respectively, I check it. Oftentimes, both are wrong, as Calvin Harris, Ting Tings, and others are pretty sweet in my opinion.

3. Ya'll should never limited yourselves to any genre or type of music. Phish is great, as is New Monsoon in my opinion, as is the Dead, but as well, so is Sublime, The Strokes, Lady Gaga, Rural Alberta Advantage, etc... Variety is the spice of life and if you think Trey sits at home listening to only jambands, you are very wrong.

4. The hippie movement died out a long time ago. Stop pretending. You can enjoy the music and the scene without dressing and sounding the part. It makes you a pariah and an easy target as the butt of jokes.

5. In case you couldn't guess, I love Phish. I love this review even though I haven't listened to the CD yet because it seems honest. I love all sorts of bands. Best cds of this year? I can guarantee you that MMP by Animal Collective, Hometowns by Rural Alberta Advantage, and all sorts of CDs will place far above Joy. Nothing against Phish, but if, as all of you claim, their goal is not commercial success, then it shouldnt matter.

6. Hartford was a weird show, but Psycho Killer and the Talking Heads rule.


The Z

LVNT - It's not that he doesn't like the album. It's a commonly known fact that the band's records are rarely their best work and I agree that it is not the strongest album in the world. 2.5 stars is probably fair. The part that I (and almost everyone else on here) is upset about is the insulting nature of the review. He obviously has put very little effort in learning about the band and its fanbase, as evidenced by his reliance on tired old cliches that have been used hundreds of times in past reviews, all of the factual errors, and the fact that he barely devotes any lines to actually discussing the MUSIC (did he listen even more than once?). Why should I trust his opinion when it's obvious that so little effort was put forth?

This guy is obviously a f---ing pr---.

First off, way to stereotype with the stoner references. We don't all walk around reeking of pot and patchouli, a--hole. I could just as easily do the same thing to you by looking at your picture and telling you to cut back on the Twinkies and Doritos. It doesn't require a whole lot of brain power to think this stuff up. I don't care if you don't like the album. That's fine, you're entitled to your own opinion. You don't have to be such a d--- about it and attack the band and it's fans. But, I bet you get off on that kind of thing, don't you?

Who the hell are you? What makes you credible in any way? Just because you can write cute little sentences on your laptop doesn't mean you know anything about music. You're a music critic. Really? What kind of bull---- career is that? Does that just mean you're a failed, wanna-be musician that can't play or write music for s---? Or, are you some mediocre writer that isn't good enough to be a legitimate journalist? After listening to that noise that comes from that band you're in called Vortis, I'd say you definitely fit into the first category. Real intellectually stimulating and creative music you've got going on there. And talk about originality! If that's what your idea of good music is, then your opinion is about as worthless as a four dollar bill.

He thinks that Phish "always seemed peeved that rock radio and MTV pretty much ignored them, and so they kept going back to the studio."

HA! How do you expect anyone to take anything you say seriously after writing that?

bad vibes, brah. (said with a wide grin and heavy-lidded eyes)

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about so why even bother picking up your pen and paper on this one?

wow. what a horrible review. you just don't understand this band.

But my shirt really does still smell like pot smoke after the Saratoga Springs show last month. You mean, no one is smoking pot at other Phish shows?

There is nothing wrong with Mr. Derogatis's star rating or the degree of affection he has for either Phish or this album (or Genesis). And apart from a few 1 liners from 14 year olds (You suck! Phish rox!) nobody here is arguing that there is.

What people are saying is that this is 2009, and this review consists almost entirely of 3 things:

1) Pot and Patchuli jokes. These were old when Peter Gabriel was still helming Genesis.
2) A bizarre claim that the band has long been bothered by their lack of exposure on MTV. I'm sure the same goes for Pearl Jam and their continued album production.
3) Off-based descriptions of the music on the few times he gets around to mentioning it. I echo the question of others - where are the jazz excursions on this album?

Lazy, cliched writing, unoriginal thinking, and some off-base music comparisons. So what is it that we're actually supposed to like?

Here's an arguably more negative review that actually, you know, reviews the album. A bit of, correct, context and background, some off hand remarks, and some descriptions of what the damn CD actually consists of from one person's point of view. Hence, "review".

Why is this guy so bitter towards Phish? Who cares if their kids have trust funds. Good for them. I wish I had one. Geez.

Hey Fatty,

You must not like/understand Rock 'n' Roll if you dislike "Joy." Yeah, keep on writing stellar reviews on the latest Nickleback, Sum41, Jonas Brothers, and Taylor Swift albums.


In and out of focus, your face looks elastic

If this guy actually thinks "Sugar Shack" is a reggae song, I'm not too concerned about his musical opinions one way or the other.

I find that readers respond very well to posts that present your personal weaknesses, failings and the gaps in your individual information relatively than those posts the place you come across as figuring out every thing there is to know on a topic. People are attracted to humility and are extra possible to answer it than a post written in a tone of somebody who would possibly harshly reply to their comments.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on August 31, 2009 3:23 PM.

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