Feature: ARTISTdirect.com's Top 20 Maynard James Keenan Songs From Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer
Mon, 11 Feb 2013 07:46:03
Basically, every single song that Maynard James Keenan has recorded—whether it's from Tool, A Perfect Circle, or Puscifer—has enough merit to be on this ARTISTdirect.com list. We know that. We went into compiling this list with full knowledge of that. However, in the spirit of debate, we settled on 20 of our favorites spanning his gargantuan catalog.
We want to encourage you to share yours below in the comments. However, we'll show you ours first…
ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino shares our "Top 20 Maynard James Keenan Songs"
And by the way…
Puscifer will release the Donkey Punch the Night EP February 19, 2013. You have to get that. Go to the official site and follow Maynard on Twitter!
The Top 20 Maynard James Keenan Songs
Tool — "Third Eye"
The swooping final statement of Ænima traverses a trudging groove before opening up into a haunting refrain. Everything climaxes on Keenan's cataclysmic last words, "Prying open my third eye". The seemingly disparate elements work in unison to form a strange and superb examination of consciousness. This is just one of many examples why Tool keep 21st century music interesting.
Tool — "Prison Sex"
Its primal riffs are so dirty you'll feel like you need a shower after. By far, it's one of Undertow's most brilliant and brutal moments. However, Keenan's lyrics remain both cathartic and disturbing, diving into the horrors of abuse with jarring tunefulness.
Tool — "The Grudge"
On the Lateralus opener, the sound of a mechanical lift drops into a guttural guitar stomp that tribally builds into the frontman's distinct howl, "Wear the grudge like a crown". This vulnerable and vital epic sputters into elegant heaviness like only Tool can.
A Perfect Circle — "3 Libras"
Over a soft finger-picked acoustic melody, Keenan croons, "You don't see me at all". It's a tender moment of longing encased in a beautiful, blissful melody on A Perfect Circle's now classic debut, Mer De Noms. "3 Libras" illuminates the singer's massive vocal range and ability.
Puscifer — "Dear Brother"
From Puscifer's forthcoming Donkey Punch the Night EP, "Dear Brother" sees this collective build on the harmonies of Conditions of My Parole, while preserving both instrumental intricacy and that whacky sense of humor jumping from "Once more into the breach dear friend. Donkey punch the night away". That's one hell of a way to spend your evening quoting William Shakespeare and, well, donkey punching…
A Perfect Circle — "Blue"
"I didn't want to know," admits Keenan at the start of this Thirteenth Step gem. It's imagery of "turning blue", paint a harrowing picture of addiction leading into overdose that's as poignant as it is poetic. The singer's voice reverberates through the haze with real color beyond just "Blue".
Puscifer — "Monsoons"
This is as close to Keenan's Arizona sanctuary as you'll ever get. The lush electronics cackle under his soothing delivery as he pens something of a love letter or homage to the landscape and weather of the land around him. "Only you can bring the color in" remains one of his most beautiful choruses from Conditions of My Parole.
Tool — "Opiate"
"Opiate" shined a light on two important things very early in Keenan's "professional career" on Tool's debut the Opiate (EP). His knack for a hook popped through the perverted bass funk, but his sharp sense of humor peaked through as well announcing, "Deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow, let me lay my holy hand upon you". Lest we forget the totally weird, wild secret Satanic hymn it leads into tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek.
Tool — "Jambi"
The most crushing moment of 10,000 Days is also its most melodic. Keenan sings, "I would wish it all away, if I thought I'd lose you just one day". It resounds beautifully with anyone who's ever lost someone.
Tool — "Rosetta Stoned"
On this 10,000 Days supernatural trip, Keenan tells a warped abduction story with gritty megaphone-style delivery that beams up into sardonic, heavy space and another soaring chorus.
Puscifer — "The Mission (M is For Milla Mix)" From "C" is For (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) and Sound Into Blood Into Wine, "The Mission (M is For Milla Mix)" borders between Massive Attack sexiness and alternative sleaze. It drips sex appeal as Milla Jovovich—yes that Milla—hums and trades verses with Keenan over throbbing Danny Lohner production.
Tool — "Sober"
The music video still scares the shit out people to this day. However, Tool's breakout single from Undertow, rises from paranoid poetry into an almost orchestral buzz. Keenan's chorus is so catchy its blasphemous—in the best way possible.
Tool — "Undertow"
A surf-style guitar bleeds into a propulsive verse from Keenan. His voice will drown you in this one inside a wave of tangible emotion.
Tool — "H."
Ænima is a perfect record, and we could put every one of its songs on this list. Granted, that could be said of all of Tool's albums, but there's just something so special about that album. It really brought a generation into their world. "H." creeps along as Keenan sings, "I feel like this coming over like a storm again". He pulls everyone into the eye of that storm with impeccable delivery too.
A Perfect Circle — "Judith"
"Fuck your god," Keenan wails in the middle of this single—named after his mother, mind you. It's another catchy, corrosive anthem, and it properly introduced the world to Mer de Noms.
A Perfect Circle — "Orestes"
The imagery of "umbilical residue" and being pulled into "your perfect circle" is undeniably cinematic. Of course, everything builds into a murder of sorts, as well as some of the vocalist's most powerful song.
Tool — "Hooker With A Penis"
You want heavy? This is as heavy as it gets. Keenan confronts claims of "selling out" and "sucking up to the man" with visceral screaming and snide, venomous barbs. He makes a good point. We're all "the man". Yes, if you believe that, "you can point that fucking finger up your ass". Seeing Tool open shows with this is a thing of twisted beauty.
A Perfect Circle — "The Package"
A guitar resembling an eerie music box sound contributes to the paranoia of the beginning of the Thirteenth Step opener. Keenan takes on the role of an addict waiting for a fix. "I am what I'm after," he says. "Take just what I came for and I'm out the door again". It's an uncomfortable slow burn before it explodes into a heavy swaying stomp. Keenan pulls up the curtain on the timeless journey of Thirteenth Step here.
Tool — "Ænima"
Praying for a flood to overtake Los Angeles might resemble Travis Bickle's wish for a "real rain" in Taxi Driver, but it also makes for one of Tool's most enduring and timeless songs.
Puscifer — "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Keenan does Freddie Mercury proud with Puscifer's take on "Bohemian Rhapsody". It's recognizable, but it's also a little warped in true Puscifer fashion so the band's identity remains intact. Being able to hit those notes is divine. Naming the EP Donkey Punch the Night is too.
See our feature where Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Korn, Mastodon, and more talk Tool here!
See our review of Donkey Punch the Night here!
Okay, here's your chance. What are your favorite Maynard James Keenan songs?