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Monthly Archives: March 2009

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ALBUM – Daydream Nation

ARTIST – Sonic Youth

YEAR – 1988 (Deluxe Edition 2007)

I’d never heard this album until last week.  Been on my iPod and home stereo ever since.  Just thought I’d drop a quick line, or post, regarding this incredible achievement in contermporary music.  I was never “into” Sonic Youth, that is, until now.  Outstanding album; a keeper…
Just for fun and reference, check this out.  They were voted number one album of the 1980s by Pitchfork.  And have had nothing but praise from other music media.

Cheers…

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ALBUM – Funeral

ARTIST – Arcade Fire

YEAR – 2004

What can I say?  This is an overdue post.  This band’s been with me since their debut year, 2004; long time coming.  Should have posted about this album before.  Why I didn’t I can’t really say…

Here it is, though.  Arcade Fire.  After this 2004 recording, they exploded, playing all over the world and at major events.  Not surprising.  They are a talented bunch, and brave, too.  Talented you can assume I’m referring to their abilities with their instruments.  The braveness comes from “trying” something new out.  Their sound is like nothing I had heard before; drums, electric guitars, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, keyboard, French horn, accordion, hurdy gurdy, harp and mandolin, male and female vocals together, rock, opera-ish vibes and grandiose songs.  So, much respect for their bravery, putting together a bunch of talented musicians to play rock a slightly different way.

You know where they’re from, eh?!  EH?!  Yeah, Canada.  Coolest country ever.  I guess the diversity of the country is somewhat reflected in their music.  Whatever, let’s not get into that.  Music only, eh?!  Then you must put this on immediately.  Listen to it, all the way through.  See what you feel, what you hear; then, go back and listen to it all over again.  It’s that good.  Like squeezing a wet rag, you have to do it over and over again until you get all you want out.   This approach will allow for new sounds and perspectives to come to you.  All of the sudden, you’ll hear the drums, then a really cool accordion and right after that, when you’re listening to the album or a particular song again, it’ll hit you that you’re hearing things you hadn’t heard the first time around.

“Come on Alex, you can do it…”

This is most redudant, but I can’t stress this enough: all of the songs on this album are great.  It’s why I put the blog together in the first place (one of the main reasons).  A good friend of mine told me a while back that he’d not listened to a “good” album in a long time.  To be more specific, he mentioned Nirvana’s Nevermind as being the last album he considered “good”.  He then explained what he meant by “good” – and here’s where my imagination took hold and brought me, a long time after our talk, to this blog -, stressing that until that album, he’d listen to records all the way through and all the tracks would be good, decent.  It was a complete work of music, you see.  Not like what’s happening today, where only “singles” sell and the rest of the album sucks.  So, after that, I began my quest for records that had that appeal to me, that were “good”, by my friend’s definition.  Hence the redundancy.

Track 1, “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”.  Check out the lyrics, they’re pretty “cute”.  Great intro.  You get the feeling that the album will be great just from this song.  After you finish listening to it, you realise all the tracks have a mystical appeal; they all build up to a huge climax.  Creeping and crawling sometimes, in the beginning, the songs come together near the end for a full-on musical explosion.  Really cool.  It’s an exciting listen.  Track 2, “Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)” has a mellow introduction, one I enjoy very much, and a sort of chant of inspiration “Come on Alex, you can do it”.  I’m divided, however, between tracks 7 and 9, “Wake Up” and “Rebellion (Lies)”, respectively.  Both got to me; still do.  So, I’ll call it a tie.  They’re both anthems.  Hey, that’s a good way to describe Arcade Fire’s songs, anthemic.  Agree?  No?  Well, to me, it’s sort of like that; a spiritual experience.

Cheers…

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ALBUM – Staring at the Sea (CD Title); Standing on a Beach (Vinyl Title)

ARTIST – The Cure

YEAR – 1986

Somber title.  Sort of Goth and “existentialist”…

Probably among the most objective and contemplative introductions to a novel, ever.  If you read, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  A hint: it’s a translation from the original in French.  Any ideas?!  Ok, then, here’s another clue: the third song on this album is an explicit reference to the work of fiction I’m writing about.  Enough.

The Cure.  What can I say?  What can anyone say about this band?  Great?  Goth?  Amazing?  Awesome?  Yeah, all of the above.  They are inexplicably good, from their lyrics to their unique sound and way more peculiar ways, demeanor and overall style.  Seems every song says something, but not just “something”, something deep, something that has meaning.  I should improve my vocabulary, maybe then I can stop repeating words, eh?!  I’ll work with a Thesaurus next to me from now on.

So, let’s get to it.  Objective post, straight to the point.  Or, maybe I can slip in a personal account?!  You asked for ir.  It was 2002, Spring, Rome, Italy.  A friend who went to college with me was supposedly a big fan of The Cure.  Well, I was a fan, I’d had their albums in vynil, from like the early eighties.  I wasn’t a hardcore, diehard fan, just a fan.  “Little did I know” my friend was not only one of those long-time, hardcore fans, but also had a secret adolescent crush (maybe even an adult one) on Robert Smith.  This was a surprise.  My good friend, one of the smartest people I know, was, first of all, a Cure fan, and into Robert Smith.  Jaws dropped.

So, my college mate came to pick me up on a very beautiful Spring, almost warm, but not cold, day.  The show was at the Olimpico (Mussolini’s “remains”), the Football Stadium in Rome.  I thought it was a big venue for such a band – not that The Cure is a small gig.  Rather, I figured they had been around for a good number of years, I didn’t reckon people, Romans for that matter, followed them still.  Apparently, and to a most agreeable surprise, the venue – as it was set -, was practically full.  I felt pretty bad during the concert however, standing next to my friend clueless of what Smith was singing, while my friend seemed to know every single word and song they performed.  Pretty embarrassing moment for me, being that I like The Cure and all.  Seems my company was the real fan, not me.

Nevertheless, it was a magical concert.  The best company, great setting and impressive show.  They did like 2 hours of “encore”, played all of their greatest hits, some more known, some more obscure; all great.  The band, wrongly labelled as goth and what not (although it has spurred some of a following), was vibrant onstage and it was delightfull experience.

I chose this album in particular ’cause I used to own it in vinyl.  I remember being a kid and really liking this sound.  Of course, I had no clue as to the lyrics, but the songs were great.  Now that I’ve come of age I can understand the lyrics and appreciate Smith’s talent.  The Cure haev definitly made a mark, too.  Their sound, so unique and particular, with somber themes and intricate lyrics, although subversively upbeat at times, represents a landmark in music in recent decades.

If you’ve never heard the band or, like me in the past, had heard them but never really “listened” to them, maybe a good way to begin would be with this release.  It’s like a “pot-pourri” of the band’s variety, it expresses their range of light and fluffy to grim, rainy, gray and muggy sounds.  Of course, some of our favourite tracks also stick out, like “Close to Me” and “Boys Don’t Cry”.  But there are other tracks just as great for us to discover.  My top tune is “Killing an Arab”, hence the title of the post (a very allegorical one).  Another I particularly enjoy is “Play for Today”; it so fits the environment of the time I first listened to it.  “The Love Cats”, a familiar track, has a great, big bassline I love. It’s really cool.  Check ’em out, will you?!

Cheers…

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ALBUM – Doolittle

ARTIST – Pixies

YEAR – 1989

Recently looking over a list of the 80s best albums – well put together, by the way -, I came across this album at number 7.  Of course I’ve heard of and listened to the Pixies, but I hadn’t realised the extent of their influence.  A lot of friends mention them as being one the most underestimated (to main stream) of the past couple of decades.  I must confess, nevertheless, as heretic as this may sound, that I only really started listening to these guys a few years ago.  Shame on me!!!

So, as the story goes, one of my favourite tracks is in one of my top movies “Fight Club”; it’s “Where is My Mind”.  And I know it isn’t on this release, but I just thought it would be worth mentioning, to serve as a means of explaining HOW I first learned about this particular and amazing band.  I loved the song, didn’t have the access we have nowadays to the internet; or did, but not at the speeds we now have and with possibly 1 tenth of the resources.  Thus my bewilderment, years later, that the same bunch were responsible for a song played over and over and over and over and over again at a bar I used to go to when a teen (I occasionally revisit this pub whenever I can).

The song was what’s playing right now on my stereo, “Here Comes Your Man”.  Yeah, I’m that – or was – out of it.  Goes to show though, that, no matter how many times this song was played and has been played along the years, I still think it’s fantastic.  And now, it’s got sort of a nostalgic quality to it, which makes it even taht more exciting.  Pretty neat!!!

Seems like we’re always going down memory lane, eh?!  Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m no critic much less someone who “knows” music.  I just tell it how it comes to (my) mind.  Personal experiences and references.  I think, actually, that that’s what makes music so great and why I’m always listening to it.  It can take you places, forwards and backwards in time, especially back in time.  It allows you to just let go and dream and wonder and enjoy the different surroundings and environments.  I reckon that’s why I took to this blog.

Music, music, music!!!  “Debaser”, the first track, kicks ass!!!  Coolest bass ever???!!!  Now, something I particular enjoy is at around a minute and 16 seconds into the song, during the chorus, is Black’s almost comedic “ha ha ha ho”.  Really good stuff.  The album, myabe just for me, gets a bit melancholy – a good thing, though.  It has a weird, dark, upbeat, contemplative, envolving vibe.  When you put it on to listen to – I mean, really listen to it, and not like we listen to music nowadays on iTunes, skipping through songs and albums kind of the way they were made (with a great deal of rush and regretful production and lack of talent) -, it drags you along for a good experience.

And that’s how I got into this lot.  They have a lot of talent, all of them.  Fighting aside, they have made a mark on modern music.  People may not know it, but their influence is widespread.  “Wave of Mutilation” is a beautiful, almost psychodellic Velvet Underground sounding, tune.  “I Bleed” is a pretty somber recording, but precedes a very pleasant and upbeat, groovy, track “Here Comes Your Man” – the guitar get stuck in your head forever.  Kim Deal’s bass and tender but raspy voice are all over this album and resonate beautifully.  She brings a balance to Black’s aggressiveness, she seems to match it with a sweet (but also aggressive, although disguised in a female kind of way) voice.  “Mr Grieves” is also grand, followed by a punk-ramone-beat-track “Crackity Jones

Cheers…


ALBUM – The Low End Theory
ARTIST – A Tribe Called Quest
YEAR – 1991

All the time Tip… Ok, ok, so I’m back posting Hip-Hop. This is a truly magnificent album, top marks, perfect, exceptional, to go down in history books. It is THAT good. Trust me, try it, see if it fits.

It’s not the first contact I had with A Tribe Called Quest, the first album was actually in a previous post, “Beats, Rhymes and Life” (I mentioned back then that it was my favourite album). It is my favourite for emotional reasons, nostalgia, basically. This is a better album, more thorough, elaborate and just jazzy as hell. I have to fulfill one of my “adulthood” dreams and buy a turntable so I can enjoy this the way it should be enjoyed – on vinyl!!!

You have to listen to this on reasonably loud terms; this is in order to get the whole sound. Listen to the bass, the jazzy saxes and trumpets throughout – of course, there’s a scratch here and there and most powerful rhymes. These guys really brought the movement to a level unnatainable by any other act. This style is so unique it’s impossible to match. It is a shame they followed different paths after an amazing run, specially during the 90s. I heard they MAY get together again. Q-Tip’s got a solid solo career with guest appearances on loads of recordings and two very well produced solo albums.

“The Low End Theory’s” got my all-time favourite track, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”. You can start off there, get a feel for the album and for their style. Or, you can do the opposite, listen to the album and THEN bust this one out. There, maybe that’s a better approach. Much respect to those who try this out. You’ve got to recognise these guys’ talent for putting out one great recording after another. This one followed their debut “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” – a brilliant start -, so you can imagine that maintaining these standards is absurd, but they managed to pull it off. There’s no such thing as a “so-so” Tribe album; they’re all great, amazing, to “Holy shit this is good” and perfection (the case with The Low End Theory).

Much love to the East Coast as well. You’ll catch some of that vibe in the album. So, let’s talk a bit about this album. You can check this out for reference. The album starts off the way I like it, with HUGE basslines. Damn, they kick it off “Buggin’ Out” – superb. That bass plays through the entire album. “Butter”, in my opinion is a bit mellower and melancholic – it’s just me, eh?! Following the trippy experience is “Verses From the Abstract”. I love the guitar riff and female voice (Vinia Mojica) in the chorus. A classic is “Check the Rhime”, worth the listen. Then, then, it’s time for it (right after “Everything is Fair”), “Jazz (We’ve Got)”. Damn, it doesn’t get old, it gets better everytime I put it on. “We got the jazz, we got the jazz…”. Listen to Busta Rhymes go off on a funky, upbeat and just awesome track “Scenario” – wicked!!! The last song’s got a bass as heavy as the first. “Excursions” will undoubtedly leave you wanting more, or, at least, another walk through the album.

Cheers…


ALBUM – Ramones
ARTIST – Ramones
YEAR – 1976

Fuck yeah!!! Punk!!! These guys inspired the Sex Pistols, they’re the ones that brought Punk to UK; they brought it everywhere, actually. Fast, straight to the point, ugly and just fucking awesome. Sheer power and velocity. Great, great, great.

Short post today. Don’t want to bore everyone with a post overdose. “Judy is a Punk” is my fav. They’re all my favs. How can you not like the Ramones???!!! How can you not listen to this fantastic, punk-perfect, album???!!! It’s got like 22 songs and you can hear it all in about half an hour or so. I love the Ramones. Anytime, anywhere… “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!!!”

Cheers…


ALBUM – Music
ARTIST – 311
YEAR – 1993

This is definitely my favourite 311 album. It’s all good, from track 1 through to the end. Speaking of which, listen to the introductory song and you’ll understand what I meant in the previous post regarding their mixture of sounds – starts off nice and easy, mellow and cool, then gets really hard, but not like a death metal hard, a cool, listenable hard.

It’s the band’s essence, their uniqueness. These guys play like nothing I’ve ever come across; they’re so far from any classification which is, I think, they’re biggest achievement (at least for these 2 albums – their later stuff, not so great).

Favourite tracks: “Freak Out” and “Feels So Good”. Unquestionably the best songs on the album. Damn, I like this album. I’m really getting tired of writing; in fact, I’m just lazy, I’ve been writing all day, you see, and I’m just really tired. So, just get a hold of these two gems and “kick ’em out”!!!

Cheers…

P.S: check out the fucking bassline at around 2:15 into “Feels So Good”, following “Yo, Peanut, beat that thing”… Crazy good…


ALBUM – Grassroots
ARTIST – 311
YEAR – 1994

I never really knew how to describe this band. Are they a rock band, a reggae band, hip-hopish?! Whatever… Fact is they are good, so good I decided to double-post today. Well, sort of, anyways. This one will contain information regarding their 1994 release, Grassroots, the other, their 1993 album Music. So, here it is.

Grassroots has got one of my favourite 311 tracks, number 5, “Omaha Stylee”. I guess it’s a reference to their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska (Dave Kolasch – for those out there into easter eggs). It’s a good song to start off with, if you’ve never heard these guys’ sound. Which brings me, again, to this matter; that is, what kind of sound do these guys play. Yeah, my inner conscience is telling me to let it go, and let the music speak for itself. Ok, then, I will. So, start off with that track. You’ll see lots and lots of influences and some fairly hard riffs and drums. Sounds weird to have all of that mixed with hip-hopish vocals and reggae breaks. I guess that’s what makes these guys good, and one of a kind.

So, let’s get into the music. This particular algum is not my favourite, but has my favourite song, the one I mentioned in the previous paragraph. My favourite album is Music, which is why I could not single out Music or Grassroots, get it?! They must be put side-by-side and considered in the same environment. Again, this is just a blog regarding my personal views; I’m no critic, much less a connaisseur of the art of music, so bear with me. And what I mean by the same environment is that I bought these two albums at the same time, many years ago. They sort of complete eachother (and vice-versa).

After these two releases I sort of began getting tired of their music, it became a bit too mushy and “try too hard” for me. They went down a road I was unwilling to follow them on. This one in particular, Grassroots, has got some heavier hitting songs, bigger guitars and riffs, which I like, mixed in to all that crazy reggae and chillout sounding melting pot. Really cool album. You’ll see what I mean once you press play. “Homebrew” opens this recording and you feel the heaviness right off the bat. But, pay closer attention and you’ll notice the groovy vibes. Get to “8:16 A.M.” and you’ll be thrown off, left wondering, WTF?! Where did this come from? Such a beach and sunny song. You’ll eventually check your player to make sure it’s not busted. Keep going, the best song is next. Coolest introduction, eh?! Right after “Omaha Stylee” is another delight, “Applied Science”. I really enjoy its speed and big guitar riffs. Track 7, if you get to listen to their other album Music, will resonate, that’s the kind of sound they put out on that album.

Now, to go on to my other post, check out “Lose”. It’s completely off, in the sense that it doesn’t seem to fit the standards of previous songs, so mellow and so “maryjane” hence the title of the album, maybe???!!!)….

Cheers…


ALBUM – Exile On Main Street
ARTIST – The Rolling Stones
YEAR – 1972

Alright, alright, alright (just remember Woody in Dazed and Confused)… They were going to a Kiss concert, though, in the movie – not my cup of tea. But, here it is, a big, big album. Big in the sense that this separates those who consider today’s artists’ music rock n’ roll from those who actually played rock n’ roll, and know their shit. It was a good time back then, must have been, anyways. It’s like I mentioned in a past post, regarding Buddy Holly – he started this whole thing out.

The Rolling Stones earlier recordings are incredible; the band kept doing what the master many years prior had started. Nevertheless, the reason I chose this particular album is ’cause I have it here at hand, on CD, and has been with me for some time, so it’s sort of grown on me. I don’t think it’s their best, but this is, simply put, KICK ASS!!! So bluesy and so cool and so rock n’ roll. These guys were good musicians to begin with, when they were but in their teens – they all seemed predestined to greatness.

Yes, I agree, they have gotten old and the music is not as raw and funky and just fucking good as it was back in the days, but they still put out decent records. They’re performances on stage are also something to emphasise, for they just put it all out there. It’s hard to come by good, consistent bands like this, in any time of history. take a minute here to think about it. How many bands can you actually say have put out either good to great records for over 3 decades? Yeah, thought so…

Which brings me to this, Exile On Main Street, and its 19 tracks. First off, just check out the title of the first track, “Rocks Off”. I haven’t figured out what it means yet (supposedly something related to an orgasm), but it sounds really fucking cool, the title and the song, of course. Excellent start to a memorable recording. My favourite of the album is probably “Shake Your Hips”. The groove is just so steady and sweet. You can feel it getting New Orleans hot and steamy. This is a sexy, sweaty tune. “Torn and Frayed” deserves a listen, just as does “Happy”. All the songs are good, damnit!!! It’s not easy writing these posts. Perhaps I should write negative remarks on things I despise, might be easier. Check out the quick, jumpie and bluesy feel of “Turd On the Run” – great!!! Number 14 is the classic “”Let it Loose”, and following it is another one I cherish, “All Down The Line”.

Really though, this band has amazing musicians. As you listen to this or any other of their albums, pay closer attention to Keith Richards’ guitar, to Charlie Watts’ drums (I don’t think a drummer could be any steadier than this individual), and of course, Keith Richards’ raspy, loud and big voice. For other reference, check this and that out.


ALBUM – Buhloone Mindstate
ARTIST – De La Soul
YEAR – 1993

I first heard this album after having listened to some of their later albums. This is the best one!!! I’ve got a couple of their albums here at home, on CD, not this one. How come?! Yeah, that’s something that’s been on my mind, especially after I began this post. Now, for the usual digression, this album came at a time I was perhaps at one of my most eclectic phases – I listened to Pantera, Biohazard, Operation Ivy, The Skatalites, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Miles Davis, James Brown, Jorge Ben, among others. Suffice it to say, I had an ample variety of sources.

As time goes by… Right, right, well, as it does pass, tastes change and discover new sounds and artists. More often than not, some music is rediscovered. I reckon as we mature (supposedly) phisically and mentally, our attitudes towards the arts accompany that transition. But, you see, I had this idea, this preconcieved perspective that, as an adult, I’d cherish Classical, Jazz and overall erudite music. Not the case.

As a nearly 31 year-old semi-adult, I find myself revisiting past influences and have recently come to realise that I am a big, big fan of Hip-Hop. Not rap, this contemporary shite they put out, but old – by today’s standards -, cool 80s and 90s Hip-Hop. I admit I am a tad more selective and picky with regards to what I listen too. A couple of names come to mind and are pretty obvious, considering past posts: A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, The Sugarhill Gang, Guru (his Jazzmatazz series are wicked!!!), De La Soul, The Roots. This is basically the collection most often played on my stereo at home and in the car.

Now, finally, with regards to this particular album, the sound is great – like those that start at track one and carries you all the way through; then, when you come to terms, it’s suddenly done and you want more… You know which kind of album I’m talking about, right???!!! This is it. I don’t think De La has put out anything similar or as good. Lots of people and critics talk about their previous release Three Feet High And Rising – which is, don’t get me wrong, an incredible album -, as being their best. I beg to differ. According to this humble opinion, thee best is Buhloone Mindstate. Serioulsy, give it a listen.

Tracks?! Ok, so, this is tough. Where to begin. Sure, with track 5, “I Be Blowin'”. Listen to the sax. It’s an instrumental track, yes, no lyrics, and yes again, by a Hip-Hop outfit. Great, great tune. One of my favourite all-time greatest tracks. It flows, meanders through sound and thought and seems to provoke a mellow feeling. You can’t help feeling pleasant listening to this. “Eye Patch”, the first song, second track (taking into account the INTRO), has the coolest guitar. As I mentioned previously, track 4, “Patti Duke” has the participation of the Guru – worth a listen. Also, it’s got a sample for The Pharcyde’s track “Running” – check it out. Hmmm, maybe my next post should be about “Labcabincalifornia” – more on that later. Last track I want to mention before this post gets completely out of hand is “Ego Trippin’ (Part 2)”. I think this stands out as the album’s spirit, it represents the feel of the release. I’m out…

Cheers…