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Monthly Archives: October 2009

barenaked-ladies-gordon

ALBUM – Gordon

ARTIST – The Barenaked Ladies

YEAR – 1992

You just had to be there!  Don’t you hate it when people tell a story and there’s this awkward silence afterward?  It’s the perfect moment to throw in a “You had to be there”.  It is annoying, but it’s true, in this case.  This album, apart from bringing me back to the 90s and freshman year at Brookfield High School, stirs up some pretty awesome times.

It was a time of many firsts.  Let’s see, first cigarette, first High School crush (still sort of have a crush, after all these years), first serious make-out session, first contact with a bunch of older people, lots of firsts in the music territory, like the drums (I still played the clarinet, but took up the drums, as well) and first time away from all of my Middle School/High school mates.   I had to move away, to another country, at the end of my freshman year.  They were, I won’t lie, hard times.

But, all of that behind me and you, all of the fond memories remain.  And this album sticks out for being a perfect wormhole for me to travel back in time to Ottawa and to what that time and friends and city meant (and still means) to me.  I still maintain contact with some of my buddies from back then – usually on a Facebook basis.  Regardless, the memories are great.

So, why this album?  Well, there are, first of all, obvious reasons; for instance, they are Canadian, they were huge when I was in school at the time and it related perfectly to what a lot of what me and my friends were going through (the lyrics, I mean).  And, for some not so obvious reasons, these guys just represent a good time in my life – probably the best I ever had.  It is, like I mentioned before, I can travel back through time and place myself in certain situations and remember exactly what was going on and what I was feeling.  Not many other musical references allow me to feel this way.  Weird, EH?!

Now, I don’t want to get carried away with adolescence and forget about the music.  So, I reckon we can focus on that now, right?!  First is the classic, classic, unbelievably corny and wonderful and brilliant number 2 track, “Enid”.  It’s my favourite.  I love the last part “But maybe it’s fair to say there was a lack of communication.  I took a phone message, oh and, speaking of communication…  Oh and Enid, Enid you caught a cold.  I can a job, I can pay the phone bills, I can cut the lawn, cut my hair, cut offl my cholesterol, I could work overtime, I could work in a mine.  I could do it all for you…  BUT I DON’T WANT TO…”.  Seriously, the little pause after “I could do it all for you” always gets me.  Check it out.

Then there’s the next track, number 3 on the CD.  Just a small interruption, I had this in cassette!  “Grade 9” is a perfect picture of the stereotypes found in a Canadian High School, when you first look around and get a feel of what awaits.  The different little groups and the astonishment of all the different people you meet and run into.  There’s so much to process the first couple of weeks.  The song captures it brilliantly.  Of course, the best part is the High School dance, which, ALWAYS, no matter what, ended with Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.

The rest of the album is filled with comedic tracks and some rather more serious and mature ones.  It’s the case with “Brian Wilson”.  ” ’cause right now I am lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did”.  I love the acoustic guitar and bongos.  “Be My Yoko Ono” is a favourite, together with “If I had a Million Dollars”.  All tracks, once again, are great.  You really can’t go wrong with this recording.  It’s very upbeat and will undoubtedly get you in a good mood and singing along to their silly and goofy lyrics.  Try it on for size.

Cheers…

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ALBUM – The Bruce Lee Band

ARTIST – The Bruce Lee Band

YEAR – 1997

Finally, I get to post some ska/punk.  I know I´ll get lots (I wish) of nasty looks and replies (only I read my blog, so no hope for any sort of argument on the matter) regarding the nature of this recording.  Ska or punk or just rock or whatever the fuck you wanna call it. 

The reason for the title of the post, as many of you may guess, is a shout out to a friend who gave me a bottle of the Vodka for my birthday.  I can´t wait to crack it open.

All I know is that this little outfit is hands-down one of my all-time favourite ska albums ever.  Probably right up there in number three.  Really, I like this album that much.  It´s that good, at least in my opinion, which is the point of this blog, right?

So, I´ll continue chatting with myself.  The recording came at a particular time in my life – one filled with happiness and loads of summer fun and surfing and skating.  I reckon the vibe of the album sort of reflects that, it´s also pretty upbeat and cheerful. 

The lyrics are genious in “Don´t sit next to me just because I´m Asian”.  But I guess the band doesn´t focus on the writing.  It seems to rely on their casual, simple, yet brilliant ska riffs and melodies.  How can you not like these guys?  Just so you know, my favourite track is “Konsomida”.  Don´t ask me why, it just is.  I really like “Calling for me”, as well; it´s more of a straight punk song than ska, but it was featured in a really cool skate movie we used to watch back in the day, so it stuck with me. 

Some others to consider are “Hongulmamotaya” and “Brother, brother”.  Mind you, all the tracks are perfect, I´m just sorting some out in case you choose to listen to a few on Lastfm.  All of you readers (me, probably not my sister, who is busy with real things and maybe a friend or two) should check this out.  It is hard to come by, so I recommend an iTunes or Amazon download.  I just purchased the CD; my original copy was lost in time. 

Cheers…

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ALBUM – Veckatimest

ARTIST – Grizzly Bear

YEAR – 2009

I can´t believe I finally got a chance – given the small break I got at work – to write back to back posts.  Pretty neat, I almost don´t want to write.  I don´t want to come off as repetitive or annoying.  Plus, the drama of waiting for the next post is, I think, worth it.  Lastly, I don´t want to lower expectations – If they were ever high.  I hope this blog is worth the read and that expectations are low, so if and when you do come across it, it´ll be better than what you exepcted.

However, we must focus.  “Veckatimest” is a brilliant piece of music.  The name of the album, I just found out, is after an island in Massachussetts – I thought it was some crazy made up name.  If you think about it, it makes sense, I mean, the band are called “Grizzly Bear“, and they come out with an album named “Veckatimest”?!

The album was well recieved, and it should have been, by critics.  It was not by me.  I have a delayed reaction to things, very delayed.  So, it took me two or three tries before I really got into the music.  And, the thing is, that once you´re in it, it´s hard to pull away.  It´s really that good. 

The album has a crisp, morning dew kind of feel.  Very sweet and tender, almost gentle.  It is very melodic and has a nice pace to it.  It doesn´t rush, but most importantly, it doesn´t feel like a draggin on kind of album.  It´s got a good mix of material, both dense and rich with musical instruments and vocals and simpler tracks, with fewer guitars and poignant vocals. 

I really enjoy the band´s sound.  It is, again, good to know that there are bands out there that actually work to have a good sound, that are actually good musicians and put an effort into producing and recording it.  That´s what this album feels like, a genuine effort.  It is a pleasant listen, and pretty straight forward, but once you´ve given it a third or fourth or fifth go around, you´ll start realising how precious the music is, how much effort was put in to making this recording.  These guys are really good musicians and seem to have a grasp of what they are doing (something rare these days). 

Of course, the now popular “Two Weeks” stands out as one the catchier tunes.  It is a great song, but I´ve fallen for a certain “Cheerleader”.  I love it, just love it.  The other talked about track, “While You Wait For the Others”, is just as intriguing.  Overall, I reckon all tracks deserve a mention.  I´ve only expressed my personal liking and attachment. 

Cheers…

 

jd

ALBUM – Unknown Pleasures

ARTIST – Joy Division

YEAR – 1979

Breathless.  Really.  I mean, could a band be any cooler?  And I´m a late comer.  I only began listening to Joy Division later on in life – although their tunes have always been a part of my growing up in the 80s.  Nevertheless, the impact they´ve had on me these past years is, well, difficult to put into words. 

Although the band´s history is tragic, I think their legacy and, more importantly, their lifetime, is something that should always be taken into consideration.  They rose to stardom relatively fast and, just as they were “making it big” they lose their front man, Ian Curtis.  It was a tragic event, his death, and untimely.  I really don´t want to get into personal history or matters that tend to be sensitive or polemic.  You can check out the 2007 movie, by Director/Photographer Anton Corbijn. Control (it´s mindboggling how much the actor resembles Ian, and the movie is pitch-perfect).  But this is all about the music, damnit.

So, to it then.  The music is revolutionary, unlike anything prior or following the band´s demise.  Their unique sound and ways was something that drew me to them.  The songs are nervous, tempestuous, but can also be quite melancholic and depressing.  I personally like the more fast-paced rhythms and crazy drums and guitar riffs.  One more thing to take into account is the writing.  Joy Division´s lyrics are excelent.  They´re not just some “chorus, chorus, repeat chorus”, POP, one-hit-wonder shit that we get today.  It feels like they were meticulously elaborated and are at times very personal. 

Enough sentimentalism.  My favourite track, of all of Joy Division´s songs is number one “Disorder”.  I wish I could somehow translate the introduction into words.  It´s the coolest.  “I´ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand… Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man…”  Brilliant, just brilliant.  The other track I´m really keen on is “She Lost Control”.  I loved it before I saw the movie, and I love it even more now that I´ve seen it.  According to the movie, Ian bases his lyrics on a young woman he met while working for the government, who, like him, had epilepsy.  So, it makes it that much more personal.  Beautiful song. 

One last thing, before I finish, is another movie – not focused on Joy Division, but that captures them in a very coherent manner and the whole Manchester scene of the late 70s, early 80s – is “24 Hour Party People“, a gem by Michael Winterbottom. 

Cheers…