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Monthly Archives: April 2009

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ALBUM – Emergency & I

ARTIST – The Dismemberment Plan

YEAR – 1999

Another recommendation.  This one comes from something I was reading online (check out number 16).  I often refer to this site, but it’s only ’cause, ’cause I think it has led me to lots and lots of discoveries.  Also, it has brought me back a lot of music I had forgotten.

This band I had never, ever heard of.  I’m hoping some of you have, that way you can tell me how much of a dumbass I am and maybe even let me in on your take of this outfit.  Regardless of my ignorance towards music, I really enjoyed this album.  I hope you do, too.  Check out “Girl O’ CLock” – it’s crazy!!!  Cheers…

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ALBUM – Ágœtis Byrjun

ARTIST – Sigur Rós

YEAR – 1999

I’ve been terribly busy, so this is just to fill in any gaps – and to make good use of a tiny bit of free time.  This album is very tough to like, I’ve found.  It took me about 3 to 5 years to actually enjoy this.  Before, I used to say it was genius, regardless of the fact that I didn’t get it at all.  It can be pretty “out there”.  “Starálfur” is a classic already and one I really enjoy.  Cheers…

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ALBUM – Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes

ARTIST – TV On The Radio

YEAR – 2004

They used to say, repeatedly, that America was a “Melting Pot”.  Hmmm.  OK.  So, I guess, in a sense, this group of musicians fits the category.  There is just so much going on here that makes it impossible to classify or label this band.  Rock, indie, electro, jazz.  None of the Above.  And that’s basically the reason for me to reccomend TV On The Radio.

I find it necessary for us music lovers to give this a try.  It is completely new, unclassifiable.  It doesn’t seem to follow any trend or specific tendency in contemporary music, and that’s why it’s so great.  I really enjoy this album.  I didn’t at first, I’ll admit.  I though it was weird and crazy and all over the place.  This was a while back, I think 2 years ago, when I first got my hands on it.  The inability to appreciate it after the first listen was nagging me, so I came back for a second and third serving.  After a while – and still today – I’m baffled by what it brings to the table.

It sounds like what my friend said about the movie BRAZIL, “there’s so much to contemplate onscreen – in every frame – that it becomes difficult to follow”.  This is what the band makes me feel, musically speaking.  Every time I put this record on I discover a new influence or reference.  It’s frustrating at first, cause you want to put a name to a face, but I guess that’s part of the fun.  Figuring out where the pieces fit is all part of the process.  Then, you can fully appreciate the band’s efforts.

They come at you from all over the place; it’s like a drive-by, you can’t quite figure out what’s going on.  Then it hits you, and you start to realise a whole bunch of artists these guys were influenced by and how they take that influence to produce quality contemporary music.  I dare anybody to find anything as rich and as new as this.

Tracks.  I’ll start off with my favourite.  Very objective and subtle, but full of subliminal references is “Ambulance”.  It sounds like those songs from the 50s, with male vocals, maybe even a choir or something you would hear before entering a church where gospel music is being chanted.  That’s the kind of range TVOTR brings to the table.  They are a bit underestimated, I think, for their musical knowledge and expertise, but overestimated in mainstream, pop culture bandwagon media.  Too bad.  “Staring at the Sun” has a pretty cool video.  I like the song better.  Sends me forward, to something in the future, a Kubrickesque future, cold and sterile.  Drum kits, horns, guitars, synthesisers, vocals, stereo.  Shit, there’s a lot to contemplate.  And, speaking of horns, the first track “The Wrong Way” sounds like a fire alarm, or just fire.  Yeah, I realise it sounds crazy.  The horns seem to call for rescue; then there’s this big, bad, mean and dark bassy sound.  Really cool.  Being a drum-freak, I really enjoy “Poppy” and “Don’t Love You”.  Cut.

Cheers…

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ARTIST – Broken Social Scene

ALBUM – Broken Social Scene

YEAR – 2005
… is Canada Day!!!

Amazing band, awesome sounds and wicked instruments and vocals.  So chaotic and so melodic.  Very cool.  Been on my stereo for a week now, non-stop.

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ALBUM – IV

ARTIST – Led Zeppelin

YEAR – 1971

Don’t feel like writing.  Anything I put down might jeopardise this pitch-perfect recording.  Seriously.

All I can do is link some reviews and perhaps allow the music to do the talking.  This band is my favourite band of all time.  Undisputed champion, nothing comes close to my love for Zeppelin.  They’re the reason I listen to music, why I took up drums (and dropped 6 years of clarinet), and just thought I was badass.  I was about 13 when I first listened to Zeppelin.  It’s a landmark; there’s before I listened to Zeppelin and everything after that.  I have a romantic attachment to this.  Many will say Zeppelin sucks and bla, bla, bla.  Right.  Make an album this good, then, fuckers!!!  That’s it.

Here’s a brilliant excerpt from Pitchfork’s Chris Dahlen:”Because when the riff from “Black Dog” hits you for the first time, you come face to face with God. Nothing is bigger than Led Zeppelin IV . It tears your skin and grinds away your doubt and self-hatred, freeing the rage and lust and anger of cockblocked adolescence. Listening to this album is like fucking the Grand Canyon.”  I could not have put it any other way…

Some reviews:  Rolling Stone, BBC.

I cannot be more emphatic about this group of people.  I love John Bonham.  He’s the best drummer ever.  Rush fans can kiss my white ass!!!  Bonham RULES!!!  Jimmy Page?  Need I say anything about this man’s ability to domesticate a guitar???!!!  Plant’s high and shrieky vocals???!!! “Hey, hey mamma, said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove.”  Yeah, right, Zeppelin’s no good.  Ok!!!  Go out and purchase this album, buy all their albums, you will not be disappointed.  I can’t get enough.  I have everything they put out, even the DVDs.  It’s crazy how good they are.

I’m gonna skip the song selection, for the sole purpose that all of their songs are brilliant.  No single track is better than the next.  Like I said, I have a very passionate affair with Zeppelin.  Very, very biased.

Cheers…


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ALBUM – I’m Not There OST

ARTIST – Various

YEAR – 2007

This may seem (even be) heretical; a mistake, some will say.  Nevertheless, my attempt at being bold.  The subject matter is fragile, sensitive, controversial and basically undefinable.  Bob Dylan is a bigger-than-life artist and musician; he will be so for who know how long.  A creature blessed, a misfit?  Regardless, talking, or, in this case, writing about him, will surely stir up some more debate.  More so because I’m not commenting on HIS album, but something put together by different artists interpreting HIS music for a movie about HIM.

Baby steps, baby steps.  Nice and gentle.  Maybe this way I’m able to reduce contempt for me and this blog.  But I must say – or write – that this album has stuck with me ever since I saw the movie, back in December 2007.  I soon after acquired the album and have been regularly listening to it.  Of course, Bob Dylan himself is better able to play his own music (more on that in a later post) than the artists compiled here, but the album nonetheless is surprisingly good.  I’m guessing the reason for that is the line-up of artists also bow to Bob; that is, they most definitely praise and were more than honoured to perform his material.  I mean, how many people do you know, who have actually listened to Bob Dylan, that dislike his work?

So, once again, I’ll let the music speak for itself.  I also reckoned this to be a way – one of subtlety – for those not familiar with Dylan to get to know him.  After listening to this, maybe, who knows, people will seek out his albums and “get into” his music and lyrics.  Mind you, his writing is magnificent, beyond words.  Listen carefully to his poetry-like skills.  Some of it makes sense, some doesn’t seem to, then, later on, it does, and that which did somehow does not anymore.  His music is tantalising and wonderful.  Don’t make it a point, though, to “get” what he’s preaching.  Sometimes, I think, it’s just Dylan being Dylan; like as if he’s playing tricks.  It’s not supposed to be “got”.  Still, I regret not having gotten to know him earlier in my life.  Better late than never, eh?!

Some of the tracks – or, to be more accurate, some of the interpretations – on this album really stick out.  It’s funny because a few of the songs here hadn’t caught my attention the way they did after I listened to some of these renditions.  First and foremost, the wicked, wicked song “All Along the Watchtower” (this doesn’t actually require me to write anything) is belched out by Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam’s front-man and vocalist).  The now with teeth, without teeth at Woodstock, Richie Havens carries out gracefully one of my personal favourites, “Tombstone Blues”.  Attention to Yo La Tengo’s “Fourth Time Around” – beautifully executed.  Former Pavement front man Stephen Malkmus delivers a powerful, yet subtle, “Ballad of a Thin Man”.  That is followed by a contemporary artist I’m quite fond of, with her raspy, husky, coarse and sensual voice; probably one of the best tracks.  It’s Cat Power. And yeah, she is pretty hot.  I love “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol”; here it’s done by Mason Jennings, good job.  Who here has seen the movie ONCE?  It’s a beautiful romantic comedy, majestically acted and with sweet ballads all perfomed by the lead actors.  Well, here they are on this recording, with a grand, grand song “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.  So, check it out, will ‘ya…

Cheers…

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ALBUM – Full Moon Fever

ARTIST – Tom Petty

YEAR – 1989

Need I actually write something?  Seriously, I’m kind of proud of myself, with back to back “classics”.  Also, cause it relates to something I mentioned in my previous entry, regarding the sifter and finding brilliant recordings from the 198s – in no way was it a “lost decade”.  Seriously.

This album came at a particular period in my life, way back; I must have been twelve or something.  In any event, me and my best mate at the time used to travel to the Adirondack mountains in the North of New York State (quick correction: it was actually his parent’s cottage, so HE took ME).  That said, on our drive up there and during the time we spent there in the summer, all we listened to, when in the house or car, was Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever.  We did a bit of fishing, camping, trails and what not.  Oh, salamanders; small, red and black salamanders – they were all over the place up there.  And Lipton Ice Tea is all we drank.  What a combination of events.

On to the music.  This album has a couple of memorable tracks, some obvious, some not so much.  As I listen to this, I feel the mood and the circumstances of those warm, mountain air days.  The indisputable song is the first, “Free Fallin'”.  I mean, who is there to argue that this is a monster song, as good as they come and as sticky, too.  You won’t be able to get it out of your head, ever.  There’s a slower song I am fond of, “A Face in the Crowd”.  It’s got a soothing guitar and desert kind of cue.  “You were just, a face in the crowd…  Out in the street, walkin’ around… a face in the crowd”.  For those lesser days.  Or, when you want to just doze off and contemplate and wonder.  Perfect.

My friend’s favourite was “Zombie Zoo”, last track on the album.  It’s now mine. It wasn’t, mind you, but it reminds me of good times and I’ve just gotten to like the hell out of it.  It’s clumsy and fun, great, great tune.  Another gem, and also unquestionable landmark, is “Runnin’ Down a Dream”.  What a cool guitar, edgy.  Hair blowing in the wind, driving way over the speed limit with the top down in some valley or a desert, not a soul around.  That’s how I envision this song.  Really expressive, fast, like it has to get somewhere.

There’s something really unique with my CD.  I got it back then, in 1989.  There were still cassettes around, ok.  Yeah, I’m from back then, when we used to “tape” stuff and make mix “tapes”.  Good times; nothing like today’s downloading mp3s and “burning” them onto a CD.  Whatever.  As I was “saying”, the 6th track “Feel a Whole Lot Better” has a small introduction where Tom suggests we change sides of the cassettes.  It’s funny ’cause you’re listening to a CD and I guess he’s just being silly.  Yeah, laugh away.  Pretty cool, though.  Oh, and the song’s genius, very upbeat, another sticker.

“Yer So Bad”, hymn much???!!!  Spot on.  Shaky guitar and pretty cool lyrics.  I love it.  When you get near the end you’ll realise there’s some “country” elements mixed in – not a bad thing, just saying.  A beautiful melody and very subtle, but effective, vocals, can be found in “Alright for Now” – delicious.  Moving along, then, here it is, finally, the end.  Actually, it’s “Zombie Zoo” (the song before it is also awesome.  I’m sorry, I have to be emphatic or else what I write won’t make any sense, to me and to you, dear reader), and it’s an impeccable choice for closing out an album.  Damn, this song is fun.  The image that comes to mind, always, is an old-time theme park, with Cotton Candy, Ferris wheel and the works.  “Cute little dropout, how come you pack a rod
Is your mother in a clinic? Has your father got no job?  Sometimes you’re so impulsive.  You shaved off all you’re hair.  You look like Boris Karloff and you don’t even care… You’re dancin’ at the zombie zoo…”

Cheers…

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ALBUM – Murmur

ARTIST – R.E.M

YEAR – 1983

“Like looking for a needle in a haystack”, that’s how we – who were born before then -, describe finding “good” music in the 1980s.  Seems as if the reason for not finding anything during that decade is that we lived through it.  I guess you need some perspective.  I’m pretty sure, nowadays, that this feeling is ubiquitous for all generations.  We hear it all too often, “the 80s sucked”; or, “the 70s sucked”; most commonly spoken “the period immediately before ours was wicked, ours, no matter what decade, sucks.”  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Enough with proverbs and analyses of irrelevant nature.  “Murmur” is that needle; search long and hard enough, you’ll find it.  This album is it.  Can you get any better an album than this?  It’ll be, at least, a gargantuan task.  The simplicity or straight-forwardness of this particular effort is almost too good to be true, or, in a more prejudiced note, from the 1980s.  The period of time in question, with (now) perspective, was a fertile one, musically speaking.  Just listen to this.  Better put “everything sounds just as good, and even as refreshing, two decades later. If any one album were single-handedly responsible for inventing alternative rock, this would be it”, Chris Dahlen writes, from Pitchfork.

I’ve been familiar with R.E.M for quite a while, everything from “Out of Time”(1991) onwards.  So, as you may have put together, I only knew their 90s music, which is also of a superior quality, just not as shocking as this recent discovery.  This is, yet again, one of those albums you must own; one of those you listen from track one ’till the end and replay it, again and again.  It’s a delight, it’s pleasant to listen to.  It’s not too upbeat like “Shiny Happy People” or too much of a downer like some of the material being released at the time.  It’s “just right”.  Kind of like when you cook and the result is above average; you get the essentials right, enough pepper and salt, good quality ingredients, right amount of cooking time, etc.

That sort of spells out this album’s power.  It’s got the right ingredients, right temperature, cooking time and all that is needed to produce an above average – in this case a stand out – piece of work.  “Murmur” is amazing.  I could listen to this all day, every day of the week.  Like other albums mentioned on this blog, this one starts out with a bang and keeps the rhythm all the way through; there’s no back and forth, it’s all good.  All the lyrics, melodies and group effort are dead on.

“Radio Free Europe” kicks off the massively influential album.  Don’t you get a feel for the 80s?  But at the same time, does it not feel very contemporary?  For instance, had you not known it was from 1983, you could easily assume it was from two years ago or even a future release.  I feel that, anyways.  And the wave of euphoria and good music carries itself from track to track.  One of my particular favourites is “Laughing”.  I like the introduction and sweet accoustic guitar.  “9-9” is an anthem.  To top it all off, they re-released “Murmur” in a deluxe edition last year, with extra tracks and a live performance.  Check out some reviews.  Rolling Stone magazine gave them 4 out of 5 stars at the time of release (1983), then, in 2008, with the deluxe edition, they got a 5 out of 5.  Hmmm.  Perspective maybe?

Cheers…