The string arrangements stand out, especially on the heels of the Eagles. Doors-y but not in a cheesy or cloned way. Not sure if it's actually underappreciated or just a victim of the "it's old and therefore underrated" curse, but I'm glad I discovered it either way.
I was unsure about how good three hours of music by one composer and for one voice could be. Add to that my appreciation for this era of music but general distrust of magical language about artistic periods. Well, I was utterly wrong. There's something special here, some kind of everyday magic. And now I have a standard for comparing vocals to bells.
What is there to say about this project? It's one of the best swansongs in popular music, and is a personal favorite on top of being my de facto introduction to Bowie qua Bowie (the absolute introduction was the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, but that was Ziggy). It's jazzy without being incomprehensible, but also avoids going pop: This thing is incredibly depressing. Repeated listens have only revealed more depth. As a musical idea, it's probably slightly less than perfect. I believe, though, that it's better as an album for it: It's only fitting that Bowie went out stretching a bit. And while we're talking about perfection, Lazarus is without question a perfect song.
S-K makes the good music. The guitar tone is consistently excellent across the album, very raw to go with the vocals. My ear for drums must still be amateur, as this is where most notice a change for the better with the introduction of Janet. But I haven't listened to any of their live material post-departure, and it's about time to return to their latest.
Cohesive as an album and has some interesting sounds, but those elements never quite combine. It's weird to say, since that should undermine the overall cohesion. Perhaps that means I'm not quite getting it. But the effect is that listening to the LP puts me halfway between "This is almost very good." and "This is nice background noise."
Wasn't sure what to expect, since I confused The Fall with The Cure before queuing up the album. An interesting mix of sounds. Took me a while to settle into the groove, but when I did I got a distinct dance sensibility (New Order-y kinda?, though I'm not well-versed in their discography either) and obvious similarities to Protomartyr. Didn't quite gel, and my preference for Protomartyr probably says more about me than The Fall. That said, this is apparently one of their more mainstream projects, so I should circle back around and listen to something weirder in the future.
Didn't realize the criticism around this album was so divided. Oh well. Still like Daft Punk and this is a great demonstration of their early style. The noisier tracks tend to get flak, but I was happy to hear them as it was a side of the band I was unfamiliar with. The length is certainly a bit much, but it's dance music after all.
New wave goodness. Wild that this was recorded nearly 40 years ago.
Fun pop album. I gotta say I like new wave Blondie better.
The fact that heavy metal is called heavy metal continues to confuse me. Iron Maide is good at it I suppose. Wish the 9-track version was on streaming. Don't really get it, but was a fun listen. Satisfying song lengths.
I'm still getting surprised by the amount of noise in certain old records. This was some excellent guitar music. Less energy than, say, a James Brown, but more refined and similar in terms of flourish. I imagine I need to listen to live recordings to hear the band really jam.
Very dad rock, still pretty good. Sometimes I'm just listening to an album and have a thought like that and realize what I'm hearing is good but feel unable to connect to it. (Except for F*!#in' Up because it reminds me of Common Sense.) It's unfair I suppose, but in the end this feels like a long (but rockin') album of medium tempo jams. Young's voice is still compelling but I still don't like it all that much. And yet... At the end I feel like I could listen to this again.
Devo sure is weird. Glad I listened the Frankenstein-like cut of the album + six live tracks + three B-sides as listed on Spotify. That meant I got Whip It again. Wild that "Mongoloid" doesn't cause more Discourse.
Folk's not really my thing, but this felt like it would make a really high-quality soundtrack to something. The words I caught were nice. The live tracks were very nice.
Higher tempo suits them better. Last two tracks drag a bit.
Fun, but dated. Loved the organ opening, but wow the synth sound has not aged well. At least for this kind of music, I think I like it in other places.
So this is rock Eno. Really, really good. Not flawless, but on a five point scale easily a five. Heads above most of what I've listened to recently. I'll be coming back to Julie With... right away.
"Solidify" is a great song. I realize that "Wow this sounds neat and was made a while ago" is both getting old and isn't particularly true for a '90s album, but wow this sounds neat and was made a while ago. Very mature-sounding for a debut, probably due to the backstory: Tapping into an existing collaborative group of musicians plus having scrapped a debut already. Not exactly cohesive, but very good. Stuck between whether this is a 3 3.5 or a 4 3.5. As I tend to do when rating just about anything. Heh.
Fire and Rain is a highlight I guess. Maybe, like others suggest, it's a grower. Not over the course of its runtime. Frankly boring.
Despite myself, I continue enjoying Primal Scream. And still really like Chaosmosis at that! This is universally more acclaimed, but I just couldn't get into the right mood.
Pretty decent, but outlives its welcome.
From electronic textures to fuzzy, surfy rock-outs, this record is just an immense amount of fun. The Welsh have something really good going on, apparently. Love it.
S-K makes the good music. The guitar tone is consistently excellent across the album, very raw to go with the vocals. My ear for drums must still be amateur, as this is where most notice a change for the better with the introduction of Janet. But I haven't listened to any of their live material post-departure, and it's about time to return to their latest.
Loved it. What a great way to communicate folk music. There's clearly a tradition here I haven't come close to tapping. That is, I liked playing folk forms at one point and am intrigued by some contemporary avant-garde approaches to old tunes, but felt like the pop-folk approaches were mostly cheap. I was wrong.
This didn't change my overall opinion of the Beatles, and didn't blow my mind as a new high point. My most recent listen of Sgt. Pepper's is several years old now, but I still prefer that more conceptual work as well as the noisier territory the boys occasionally visited. On the other hand, hearing a trim album full of trim but great pop songs is nice. The version streaming suffers a bit from the mixing strategy of putting all of a given instrument in one channel, which is a bit annoying.
First time listening to this album, as Kanye is highly hit-or-miss for me. On the other hand, I really enjoy Yeezus in full and the single cuts from Fantasy are iconic. On balance, this reinforces my notion that middle Ye is the best. While patchy in parts (and the mixing here seems especially meh) and extremely self-indulgent, the highs are like nothing else in hip-hop.
This is some dad rock. But good.
Fun album. In my view this sound is the gold standard for hard rock as a genre. So many tracks with well-deserved classic status on this.
Great pop record. I guess I really like studio Beatles.
Extremely well-produced, competent album. The A-side was pleasant to listen to but didn't really make my ears perk up, while the second half became much, much stronger. On balance, not exactly patchy, but neither is it forgettable nor excellent. Solid 3.4-3.5. I would go gaga over a similar album that kept the sonic experimentation up for the whole length.
Starts out strong, with an instrumental that made me expect more of a country-rap crossover (in 1996!? Lil Nas X eat your heart out). But the rest is some attractive East Coast hip-hop with rather guitar-centric beats. Fun to be sure, and I imagine a show with live instruments would be great, but not exceptional.
The amount of pure musical information in old funky recordings never fails to impress. Some of the instrumentals end up feeling a bit noodly, but that's quite a small complaint.
Ur-country, and a shining example of what a few voices and instruments can accomplish. Any sameness here exists in terms of tone (which is hardly a bad thing for a record) and in terms of the basic rhythmic structure. But that's what you get for committing popular music to a recording.
I like organ and I like the blues. Both can certainly sound cheesy over the course of 12 tracks, but together the cheese cancels out and the good parts of the Hammond and the form reinforce one another. Very fun instrumental version of Twist and Shout.
The second side is one of the finest suites of pop music in existence. The first side is also immaculate. Words fail.
This... just might be my gateway drug to full-on R&B.
It was... fine. Buckley seems interesting enough as an artist and person, but if I end up liking this album it will be as a grower.
Public Enemy is bad background music. Some of the sound design on this record was quite fresh. Flavor Flav is hilarious.
Now I understand why people aren't interested in prog. The shorter the tracks get, the better they are by far.
I don't have any particularly coherent thoughts on evaluating reggae. Still wrapping my mind around the genre traits. It's a chill album. Bob sounds utterly earnest.
So this is just straight-up as good as everyone says it is. Björk's voice is iconic, of course, but I'd never listened to a full project and therefore had never heard the pure range. I don't mind albums that veer all over the place, style-wise, but it's usually a rather personal enjoyment. The transitions between songs here are just objectively good, even when they are between crooning and live-recorded club tracks.
This would be insane on vinyl. Very post-punky, and unlike much of the punk that I've heard before. Despite the short lengths, the songs seem to last longer. This is a good thing for each track, but it makes the album drag a bit.
Good range of tunes here. Very reminiscent of the Sahel stuff I've been listening to over the past months, but on acoustic instruments and (obviously) recorded cleaner. The last three tracks were unnecessary for me. The title track was the standout.
Remains the Bowie album that I really should return to more but never do to a sufficient degree to really understand it. It has the right ratio of experimentation, with neither the tracklist nor any of the tracks feeling bloated. This may be the first time I heard it by itself, and not as the prelude to the Trilogy. Or maybe I'm crazy.
I'm not very familiar with the Kutis' body of work, but I believe I enjoyed Fela's tunes more on first listen (though to be fair I do not remember). There seem to be some good lyrical themes here, but the way I listened to the project was not conducive to picking them up fully. A satisfying listen, if a bit long; At this length, I'd rather hear more explicit improvisation.
The superlatives seem to be deserved on first listen. Of course, I'm a sucker for string arrangements, and there seem to be good ones here. The opening of F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. stood out especially in that regard. Other than that, loved the pop accessibility, loose concept, and vocals.
Strong individual tracks, but tends to blend together as an LP.
Dynamic from front to back the way I find much Indian music is to my novice ear. The explanations were a high point; I didn't expect them after the first track, but can now go back and try to understand each piece a bit better. Whatever the theoretical temptations to relate Indian classical music to jazz, it sounds entirely unique.
This helped me understood what made Mark Linkous and Sparklehorse so wonderful. The vocals took some getting used to. Certain instruments came across as cheap, especially the flutes at the beginning and some of the organ throughout. But while I can do without cheap flute, give me cheesy organ licks seven days a week.
Better than Beggars. In particular, the instrumentation and arrangement were much more interesting while still sounding raw. Still middling. There are apparently six Stones albums in the book; I'll have to see what I think of the other four.
Not sure where the dividing line is between Little Richard and rock writ large, but this feels thoroughly rocking to me. I've heard Tutti Frutti before of course, but never this version. While some of the melodic tropes of the era wear, the horns and (real) pianos only add. Wish we got more of that instrumentation nowadays.
Iggy and mixing seems to be a recurring theme. The full listen was the Iggy mix, and I went back afterwards to hear a bit of the original Bowie mixing. Gotta say I prefer the latter, at least from the few seconds of audio I listened to. Perhaps it's placebo, but the slicker production reads as definitely associated with Bowie. So I suppose the rawer mix is more punk, but something about the distortion combined with the arrangements grated a bit. Anyway, uneducated rambling aside, fun listen. Likely deserves a 4, but initial impressions win out.
Feels a little bad comparing this to the Sheryl Crow album from a few weeks back, but another polished roots-rock record this certainly is. My impressions are mostly the same, though this project has much more potential to grow on me.
It's a bit cliche to be into post-punk at this point in my life, but I am. And this is a fantastic post-punk album, among other things. I could have sworn I listened to it before, but I guess that was just the title track and Spanish Bombs. And to answer the random RYM commenter: Yes, there is reggae. And God bless it.
There is certainly something to be said for the way that the strings, in particular, are recorded. From the first track the slight scratch which is nearly inevitable in a performance is evident. But despite Eno's producing efforts, neither the experimentation nor the songs reach the heights of his other work. There is much better chamber music out there, and some of it is even well-recorded. And there is also much better experimentation with chamber instruments, better arrangements, less repetition and repetition and repetition of chords.
A classic East Coast album, simple as that. The production is a bit minimal at the front-end, but it's packed with many satisfying tracks (thanks to the consistent production, length, tempo, and theme) and a few choice skits. There is a tendency for this and similar LPs to blend together a bit when listened to, but it's quite possible due to the simple wordiness. TIDAL's animated cover for this is neat, too.
Listening to this is a reminder of just how deeply the singles embedded themselves in pop culture in the '00s and '10s. As radio-friendly rock/pop music goes, it's pretty quality; But the wave of British music which preceded it is strictly better as far as I'm concerned. The back half of the record, in particular, tends to be too melodramatic for the band's sound to support.
Ends on a particularly strong and interesting track, but is mostly an hour of drum machines. Plenty of decent material, but the kind that is better in a mix than back-to-back in an LP. The samples are less dynamic than the Fatboy Slims of the world.
Sounds as fresh as the hype promised. I'm not exactly speechless, but my enjoyment is almost entirely non-verbal. Christgau's impressions seem pretty close to truth here.
It's always a pleasant surprise when you discover something relatively fresh where you expected something bland. A consistently entertaining album from French-speaking Africa. Perhaps a bit too mid-tempo across the entire runtime.
Certainly accessible, with the experimental bits spread unevenly across the runtime. The first few tracks are certainly the strongest, though the fact that Chuck D is so easy to miss is disappointing. It would be a stronger record if it was more firmly in the pop-structure or noisy-sound camp. Or more Kim: Her appearances were the strongest songs and sections of songs.
Starts off a bit drab, but settles cleanly into a kind of groove as it meanders through a few styles. By the time I got to The Ocean I was certain that I had heard the song before, though I can find no record of that happening. Builds, or rather cruises, to the end, capping off a smooth fifty minutes. This is perfect music to slot into a day, though I'm not sure the album is dynamic enough to draw one back for an active listen.
Very solid pop record. Lots of hints of what I can only identify as early Arctic Monkeys influence, and at times close to Metric, which feels like a strange comparison indeed. Less out-there than Bowie, though, and I don't get the lyrical appeal just yet.
Very pleasant listen. As with much African music, I can't quite put my finger on what I do and don't like.
The opening of the album is heralded by an extremely dated synth line which immediately suggests the worst, but the rest of the songs fail to follow through with that promise. The Birks' Works quote is a particular high point, and while the title track is a rather indulgent note to end on, the musicianship is high-quality all the way through.
Far better than I remember from my first listen; Certainly rewarded a closer listen. There's still a bit of patchiness, and the sheer number of skits has been commented on to death. But Gasoline Dreams is an absolute monster of a track which I missed the first time around, and the hits still hit. A big part of my perception of higher lows is the consistent-but-interesting production and way Big Boi and André 3000's voices slot into the mix.
Wonderfully arranged and produced soundtrack music. But the reason for the acclaim eludes me. There's plenty of ambient with more experimentation, and post-rock with more excitement and better tunes. The 2 instead of 3 is out of spite, as this is fairly in the exact middle of the road (probably a 2.65, but whatever).
Delightful. Flows beautifully between singing and playing. The guitar is the right amount of percussive. Martyn's voice is unique and captivating and like another instrument.
Tight and jazzy. I expected cleaner production from Ronson. So many of the licks have become cliche, though I was unfamiliar with most of the songs as such.
Even in mono, this is the model for all baroque pop to come. The percussion is amazing, the harmonies and songwriting are of course beautiful, and the thing as a whole breaks my image of the Beach Boys.
Great production, though without listening to other versions of the LP I can't say how much is a good remaster and how much is due to particular recording techniques. Feels tight somehow despite half the songs being longer than five minutes. Feels like a pretty high point of the blues rock style which tends to underwhelm me. And I understand there are three more similar projects.
A few high points, but the style references wear a bit thin. Does much to reinforce the theory that Irish bands sound better with the accents.
It hurts because of my affinity for glam. This was competent and dated-sounding (in an endearing way, but not endearing enough). There's nothing wrong with mass appeal, of course, but without referring to that I struggle to explain my indifference. It also seems like Mr. Bon Jovi is a pretty neat dude, which makes it hurt a little more. Anyway, nothing wrong with liking this music: It's good and sneerers should be sneered right back at. But is there anything to love?
Scratches many of my aesthetic itches. Good stuff all around, though it lacks a standout track to my ear and isn't unique on a texture level. I'm optimistic about the second LP, and imagine that this will be playlist material at some point.
The version differences here are slightly mysterious. Solid hour of music on the four-track version on streaming (I gather this is the European CD release, or maybe just a CD release in general). The music's all groove. The melody instruments do a good job, though they are rather few, or lack the density certain jazz bands can produce for fifteen minutes. The vocal sections are the most dynamic, and far too rare.
This is a pop record which feels primarily soothing. I'm with Christgau: It never quite takes off. The string arrangements suggest it could have, too (at least for me). The writing seems solid overall with a hint of cuteness at points.
This is some excellent pop music. Sting gets some flak for his "world music" touches, but here it comes across as rather innocent. And many of songs just sound good, which goes a long way in the genre. The singles are great songs, but there's something special about the opener that never quite gets realized.
OK, so this is where I first notice "it" in Public Enemy. I had heard it indicated in Apocalypse 91, and believed in it, but didn't clearly see it. This record is what deserves that 4, and my esteem for it might grow as I learn more about this classic era in rap. The centering of the DJ is great, and it's sad that that has mostly died. There are skits that actually make sense, though the live show conceit seems to fade on the second half. The strongest bits are the moments of sonic experimentation, and the cheeky lines and song titles.
Just boring, honestly. And drags for over an hour. The 1 is an overreaction, but I don't have one of those yet.
I guess I had mixed up Minutemen with some other band, because looking back I really enjoyed the earlier band's output as well. Good, short songs with enough instrumental goodness to whet my appetite, but not long enough to wear. Post-punky bass passages were certainly the highlight. I look forward to listening to the rest of the discography, which I hear is a bit different.
The rapping here is in the back, as bass-heavy samples take center stage. Method Man's voice is still distinctive. The project has a tightness which it benefits from: Moderate runtime, a few interesting samples, no skits, and just the one remix.
The instrumental hook is instant in Wesley's Theory, and the rest of the album just goes. On a relisten, I notice the jazziness of the interludes for the first time: I think they were placing jazz and speech juxtaposed, as in a venue, deep in my brain and long before I was interested in jazz. "This convinced me that rap is good, actually." It's cliche and not a little embarrassing, but far more true than shameful.
More rock operas and especially prog projects need to take cues from this album. The story is small scale, and the 75 minutes drags less than many ambitious 60-minute projects. Fine pop writing, but ultimately the instrumentation doesn't hold up the structure of the thing. A very enjoyable 3.5, but the critical acclaim baffles.
Jams all the way through, though the sound seems dated. Perhaps I'm just jaded due to my love of e.g. Kate Bush and the high average rating I've given these albums so far. Is this actually worse overall than Tommy?
Soft rock with significant experimental interludes. Not a sound that captures my imagination on first listen, but could easily grow: The music isn't flawed per se, just smooth. Maybe subtle.
The cheese is a bit much sometimes, but the melodies more than make up for it. Major Ain't It Funny vibes on the opener. I'm not familiar enough with the history to know if it's accurate, but I have seen the Southern scene described as a cold war between East and West, with this group as one of the Eastern-inspired party. I can definitely get behind that characterization. This would be a good example of pop rap that's actually good to the hip-hop-skeptical. Also wild that it came out in '92.
Wonderful mix of genres, especially those important to British post-punk as I understand it. Leans to the new-wave side as opposed to the skronky, but contains plenty of sax. The arcs of individual songs and the entire album are both satisfying, and there's a lot of interesting composition.
Both Timbaland and Missy are excellent here, crafting a well-deserved classic. I'm not familiar enough with the history of the scene to pick up what precisely was happening with Aaliyah, but the skits suggest a degree of cohesion.
Eno's producer sound doesn't really click for me, even after hearing his solo output. Solid songs, the second half especially, but not nearly as strong as those on the first album. The emphasis on the rhythm section is neat, but everything on top of it is a bit sparse.
Very solid pop record, plenty of radio staples included. Never takes off as a project or reaches the level of excellence as a collection of songs. Interesting playing in places, and good lyrical gestures at Vietnam.
Insanely funky album. The arrangements, perhaps, are a bit samey. But the instrumentation is consistently interesting and I find Ben's voice magnetic. The energy oozes from every minute, though there are certainly peaks.
Despite myself, I still have a soft spot for the title track. But after that, the album is just pop rock. Competent, sure, but overwrought, especially when the Eagles try to include strings or keys in the arrangement. Stick to something that has a little soul to it.
The string arrangements stand out, especially on the heels of the Eagles. Doors-y but not in a cheesy or cloned way. Not sure if it's actually underappreciated or just a victim of the "it's old and therefore underrated" curse, but I'm glad I discovered it either way.
Melodramatic, and not in a fun, satisfying, or endearing way. The delivery, while not exactly convincing, is fine. The playing is also generally decent. Hasn't exactly turned me off of Mr. Cave, but it doesn't bode well that this is one of his more popular projects. The worst parts of horrorcore, indie-rocked.
Is this closer to country or indie rock? Should anyone care at all? Clearly the product of some talented musicians. The double album length is unnecessary, though the fact that it's over an hour long is masked by the steady forward energy of the songs. I don't see any magic in this particular project, but it's clear that Wilco has it. The Lonely 1, in particular, has a perfect country sound which I have not identified before: A combination of guitar strings evoking the wooden box of the instrument and the pedal steel suggesting infinite space. In other words, singing songs around a campfire with constellations bright above. The fact that I've ignored them to this point, unaware of the sonic breadth on offer, is a mark against me.
Masterful pop production. It wears its era on its sleeve, which is perhaps the only complaint, but also a big part of the charm. There are plenty of legitimately interesting ideas across the eight songs, while they all manage to sound like the commercially successful pop music which they were.
More of this, please. The polish of the debut with good instrumentation, complex arrangements (but without the noodling of full-on prog), and nothing cheesy in the songwriting. An optimistic five, but the contrast with the earlier album is what sells it for me. Fitting to look back and see my previous exposure to Steely Dan was the closer of this very album, arguably the weak point of the tracklist.
On first listen, not seeing the classic status. But her voice has a way of worming its way into your brain as it moves above the close-to-post-punk beats. Certainly could be a grower, but for now more interesting historically than musically.
Between the feeling that this is the best Stones album I've listened to so far and my recent turnaround on Steely Dan, I've a suspicion that I'm simply getting back into a rock mood. But a couple songs into the B side (of the UK release, Paint It Black is a great song but not worth shortening the tracklist for marketing [I listened to it after finishing the UK version]) I was nodding my head to Out of Time. This one doesn't blend in the same way I complained Beggars did, and seems more interesting than Sticky Fingers in every category.
I understand why "There Is A Light..." is so appreciated, it's a fine song. But nothing superlative as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, the sonic landscape is consistently good, a little melancholy but still pop. The pitch-shifting is fun.
Shorter has his characteristic spaciness, and there's other good playing on the record. Overall, though, his straight-ahead work is more rhythmically interesting. The fusion doesn't add anything to that formula as far as my ears are concerned, though it does sound like the band is having a good time. Good as far as instrumental rock goes.
Seems like average prog noodling. Fine as a soundtrack, but if you want to do the noodling thing at least commit to a silly concept or 20-plus-minute opus. Otherwise you end up with a pop record for people who claim not to like pop. To be fair, this is much looser than your typical pop project. Whether that's good or bad is up to the listener.
I was unsure about how good three hours of music by one composer and for one voice could be. Add to that my appreciation for this era of music but general distrust of magical language about artistic periods. Well, I was utterly wrong. There's something special here, some kind of everyday magic. And now I have a standard for comparing vocals to bells.
From the beginning, this is a biased perspective. I read Gibson's essay on Spence's pants while I listened to the front twelve, and I have a weakness for Gibson. Also read Spence's biography, of course, but the album ended up being far less devastating than I expected. That's a good sign for music, generally. Wasn't sure how much to like it, then found my attention being pulled to a huge number of songs compared to normal. Pretty much perfect arc, if at a shallow angle.
Cohesive as an album and has some interesting sounds, but those elements never quite combine. It's weird to say, since that should undermine the overall cohesion. Perhaps that means I'm not quite getting it. But the effect is that listening to the LP puts me halfway between "This is almost very good." and "This is nice background noise."
What an absolute delight of a pop record. I want to somehow play the songs on the violin. I want to listen again and see if I think it's a little better or a lot worse. I want a better master. I want slightly longer songs. I love the song about a cat; Reminded me of The Weakerthans.
Somehow I missed actually listening to this thing. Seems to be about worth the hype. The low end backs up the bars, and reinforces their sheer density. Probably the best fusion of East Coast sound and jazz that I've heard yet. Deserves a closer listen than I gave it, though.
The dynamism is welcome, as are the dirtier parts, which on first listen are the obvious high points. A dark album, for sure, in every way. I'm no QOTSA fan, but I appreciate their constant forward motion. Strikes a nice balance with the heaviness.
Top notch strings. I had never heard of the Chic-Sledge connection, but it makes sense now. Many vocals are strong, but outside those highlights it lacks energy.
So its thing is that it kinda sounds like Pet Sounds but without any edge at all? Add to that that I'm already ambivalent on Christmas music and am listening to this in February. Pretty neat that it's had such an impact on how pop Christmas tunes are arranged. And it does sound nice.
Hynde's voice floats beautifully above the guitar music. It ends up being a fun record. There's nothing mind-blowing on first listen, but there are also no weak tracks. The aesthetic of the album is total, from production to attitude.
The production is crystal clear and the melodies are beautiful. However, essentially every song falls into the same form rut: Folky intro followed by two to four minutes of indie rock (especially the indie rock drums) (I say this as someone whose taste is shaped by The Suburbs). Because of that, I think it ultimately falls short of the earlier wave of British folk rock. That said, I may be seeing cliches where there are none, and I am very glad that music like this made it into the post-2000 mainstream. It would be better if it leaned further into what makes it interesting.
Whiny. Deliciously whiny. The only not-fun thing about this album is it makes me realize just how square I was growing up, right next to this scene. It puts the music taste of many of my peers in perspective. There are also obvious parallels to later pop-punk, but Dookie doesn't overstay its welcome in the same way.
The performance here is clearly something magical. It's marred a bit by the artifice history made clear was there: Cash wasn't actually as close to the prisoners as he made himself out to be. But the bridging of the outside and inside worlds is important, as is the fact that he sang about tearing down the prison walls twice, back to back. The recording itself is marred by the short length, sequencing, and censorship. It's a testament to Cash and his prison concerts that the record is fine despite all that.
The only comparison that springs easily to mind is Sun Ra. There are important differences, of course. Sun Ra has both better instrumentation, more varied rhythm, and a mythology that seems less hokey. But this is a great, sprawling project, clearly inspired by space, and with at least two levels of a heartbeat. There's the rock-and-roll pulse of course, but that's shared by even bad doom or stoner metal. There's a second rise and fall happening underneath, within and between the songs, of words, textures, electronics. The wind instruments greatly contribute to creating the sense of anticipation which is so needed to sit through a couple hours of largely similar music.
Just some friends having fun in the studio. Beats are pretty comfy, too. What's not to like?
Am I just hearing loudness or is there some real punk je ne sais quoi here? Either way, it's welcome and massively elevates the raps, which fade into the production in a way that is hard to do enjoyably. Length-wise the project seems a little bloated, but the instrumentals break it up enough to keep things fresh. Ending on one is an especially neat trick. There's clearly fun being had in the studio, but also what seems like genuine experimentation, deftly executed.
I didn't realize that Tainted Love was a cover. It makes sense, as the rest of the album is stylistically similar but less tight. Or maybe it's not, and there are untold depths. Maybe that possibility only occurs to me because of my affection for new wave. The melodies are catchy, the production is cheesy, and Sex Dwarf is truly raunchy. Puts certain ideas about the decline of pop music to bed, methinks.
I preface this by admitting that my ears know nothing about R&B, just that sometimes I enjoy it. That said, this feels by-the-numbers, but the numbers are about twice as big as usual. Very pleasant listening.
I've not listened to many Eminem projects at length. They tend to work. He has his sound, his flow, his themes. Background music, almost, though playing Eminem as background music is a questionable choice at best. Listening a bit more carefully to the whole LP was not exactly kind. The flow and insults get a bit old, though of course the rhymes are tight and Eminem acts perfectly like himself. I wonder about that last thing, though: How much is actually there in the music and how much is persona and coverage? Looking back, there is a really disproportionate amount of attention on the controversy and the context of MMLP, as opposed to the songs themselves. The production is fine, if minimal. The weird focus on ICP has maybe aged worse than anything. Granted, the back end of the album picks up significantly.
The desired effect here seems to be a religious experience. Without any French knowledge, I'm at something of a loss in evaluating it on those terms. The mix is something unlike anything else I've heard: Gainsbourg's voice behaves like some kind of rhythm instrument but sits at the very very very front of the mix. There's a sonic arc, and clearly a focused theme. Everything else is subtle. I picked up similarities between this and Charlotte's work, of course. Not sure exactly what was supposed to grab me, but it's at least a technically impressive album with clear intent behind it.
Surprisingly devastating, and got steadily more so as it played. I'm surprised that reviews seem to focus on the front end of the record as the strong part: My experience is exactly the opposite. Granted, there are hints of more interesting sonics in those first few songs. Between that and the hidden track, it's hard to escape the thought that the band was capable of much more. The end result is fully enjoyable, if not quite satisfying.
Tries to be cute, and has some boppy moments. But the singing is boring, the mix is mediocre, and the clean version on Tidal is annoying. Neptunes production that ends up being bad makes me sad, but it is what it is.
This is the first review to really surprise me. Perhaps that means that the negativity is mostly on my mood, or wanting to be contrarian, or comparisons to the other low points so far. In any case, it feels a little shallow to complain about Billy Corgan's voice, but I find it truly annoying. The songs, on the other hand, are fine. The guitars are a high point sometimes. There are some pretty solid tunes (that I would like better covers). The second disc seems much better, but I'm not a little offended that I listened to the first to get to it. I would have appreciated these songs more in a compilation, which is what Mellon Collie sounds like. I'm shocked that it's an album.
Leans into its darkwave cliches, but I'm weak to them. There's a greater-than-average amount of variation in the tracklist, too. Sprawling and short, quiet and loud.
Vangelis vibes were the last thing I expected going into a Pink Floyd album, but here we are. I'm not sure what exactly the band is trying to say, or if they succeed, but they keep their words short and that helps a lot. The length makes it feel like a prog EP, which is perfect. The bookending with the two halves of Shine On... is particularly nice.
An exuberant pop record, best during certain guitar passages. For the most part, the band keeps up the energy with speed. I think the small attempts at sonic variety (for example in the opener) end up a bit flat without more variation in form.
It's a straightforward (meant literally) collection of mostly-happy tunes. Feels like a collection of singles, front-loaded at that.
This is far from minimal house. The big-beat-adjacency is well-noted. Songs build up out of crunchy layers, and in an impressive amount of variety over the runtime. However, nothing's quite transcendently beautiful. This is music that makes you want to move and feel and drink to ignore some of the repetition. Less exhausting than many full-length dance projects, granted, but also less of a statement.
Ridiculous and not always in a flattering way. The Bach inclusions are good, and suggest an orientation to composed music which is too rare in popular music. However, as always, I wish that more prog bands would take that inclination further. The opening suite relies on the mythology and packaging around it, I think; In isolation it's rather quotidian. That said, at least it's a 20-minute suite. The B-side opens poorly, with a very silly song, but I felt myself warming to it over time. The ending number was quite endearing, a simple last laugh.
George has got a nice voice, and there are some good arrangements here, especially in the back half. Overall, though, it's an unengaging experience. Thankfully, not in a boring way: Even after almost an hour I wasn't checking to see how much was left. But after the opening tracks, which come across as nothing more than a very lame attempt to shock the audience, I couldn't stop noticing the unimpressive writing. I don't think there's a case for this being offensively bad pop music, but it loses me on every other level.
This is some absolutely first-rate indie rock. That's it. That's all I can come up with at the moment. This is certainly worth a revisit, but I just like it in a simple way, especially after a bunch of projects I didn't dig in the same way. The melodies are sticky and the songs fly by.
After listening to the first track, I really wanted to like this. And, listening further, I did, just not as much as I would have liked. After staring at the band name for a couple minutes, I seemed to remember a release by them from last year. I was sure I hadn't listened to it, that there was some kind of news coverage that I had bookmarked to read as I got to it. It turns out that that was not the case: I listened to the 2020 album in 2020, and I guess it was pleasant but not particularly memorable. This sophomore effort seems better for now, though in a year I suppose I'll be better-equipped to compare it. It's chock-full of good songs and a few hints at something more. One listen in, I think the mix lets down the music a bit. My rating is a tad harsh based on my disappointment.
I've mentioned in these notes before that I know next to nothing about R&B. That remains true, but I enjoy finding gems like this immensely. My entry into other genres has been more or less immediate through newly released albums or through systematically listening to the greats of the genre. R&B, on the other hand, is not something I love based on neo-soul, which I see as its genre successor. Neither is it something that I've dived into in a systematic way. Anyway, all that is to say that this is an album I likely wouldn't have listened to in any other way, and I really like it. It would easily be excellent if the instrumentation was less obviously synthetic, but the song quality and inclusion of 3 Stacks at the end make me think it'll hold up to repeat listens. The production is all relatively fresh and it strikes the right balance between sexiness and not taking itself too seriously. I'm not sure if any of the songs aside from Waterfall will be earworms, but they're all distinct and I didn't mind the skits either (which apparently makes me an outlier?).
Plays like a bizarre radio show, and as that it's pretty good. However, it's unfortunate that the obviously best cut is also the one which seems to be stolen. I don't like to think too much about the historical context when listening to an album, and it especially rankles to defend intellectual property, but failing to credit artists is crossing a line. There's also so little Englishness here: Perhaps it would feel less artificey to me if McLaren leaned into that a bit more. Or maybe I'm just trying to mask my love for more English music.
What is there to say about this project? It's one of the best swansongs in popular music, and is a personal favorite on top of being my de facto introduction to Bowie qua Bowie (the absolute introduction was the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, but that was Ziggy). It's jazzy without being incomprehensible, but also avoids going pop: This thing is incredibly depressing. Repeated listens have only revealed more depth. As a musical idea, it's probably slightly less than perfect. I believe, though, that it's better as an album for it: It's only fitting that Bowie went out stretching a bit. And while we're talking about perfection, Lazarus is without question a perfect song.
I heard something very close to what I expected. Sinatra's voice is familiar of course. It's like a warm but thin blanket: It won't hold up to a lot, but that's not what it's for. Its function as a sad album is the most interesting part of the record. There's a double disconnect: First, between the lyrics and moderately upbeat (to modern ears) compositions, and second, between the subject matter and Frank's impeccably smooth delivery (the affect seems not to quite match). He's most uncomfortable during the more-actually-jazzy sections.
Holds up pleasantly well. With the opening of Intro, I realized to which degree certain bits of this album have remained earworms for years. However, I had never heard the whole project. It didn't blow my mind or ears in any significant way, but the minimalism on display here is of a more interesting variety than most. xx's influence on the rest of the music world can also not be overstated.
As the first song began to play, I thought it sounded nice: Blur clearly has some Britpop chops. I still think that, but the sequencing and the length ended up souring me to Parklife-in-full. There's a lot of stylistic jumping around, with not enough fun being had in it. At the same time, the high points aren't high enough to perk up my ears. It's a fifty-minute grab bag of tracks, all of which end up sounding nice enough. It might be a gem for someone who liked each of the songs just a little more, but for me it outlives its welcome. The cover would be striking on a shelf: I give them that Blur unreservedly.
It's been a few months since I last listened to Jimi Hendrix. Thus, I'm not sure if my enjoyment of the debut is different because of context or just because it's a better record. This is immediately obvious, virtuosic guitar music of the highest caliber. The vocals are tucked back in the mix, because they aren't the focus of the music. But they also can be there because the meaning is crystal clear with the instruments in front of it. The hour flies by with the album in the background, but each song stands up to closer listening as well. There's simultaneous appreciation of rock history and creative innovation.
I have a soft spot for The Doors, and especially for Riders. The reason for that particular affection is embarrassing: A rather cheesy recording of a "Doors concerto" by Nigel Kennedy. So my impression is slightly fuzzier and warmer than it should be, objectively. All that said: The bluesier sound suits the band about as well as can be expected. Morrison sounds like himself but not in an insufferable way. The first half plays it a bit safe, perhaps.
Beautiful album. It's aged well, too. Lasts about the right amount of time, though it loses a bit of momentum near the end.
The pace, the horns, the voice: They're all so close to perfect! It's a slow but steady and energetic blues walk through songs both familiar and not. I suppose the ones I didn't know had better become known: This deserves its classic status with every cut.
This lacks a bit of life, which keeps it from being as beautiful a set of songs as it hints at. Lemper has a good voice, but the recordings seem a bit by-the-numbers. Ditto with the instrumentals, though they have nicely sharp bits. It's certainly cozy, though, and I can see myself returning if I become fonder of any of the non-Scott Walker writers or listen to more Lemper or Divine Comedy. The closing song is a great Walker suite, but it speaks to his strengths more than it reinforces the rest of the album.
This hits the sweet spot between rock and roll and the "roots" sounds of country, blues, and friends. Hits it perfectly, as far as I'm concerned, with a delicious dusting of California psych. If the debut lacks anything, it's fully-formed songs: Many pieces sound like beginnings, though that does not mean they are lacking. The playing is good and well-rendered, but short of mind-blowing. The high points are confluences of many factors.
The feeling here is part underground cathedral and part woods in the deep, deep night. I suppose that means that there is a reverent film across the entire album, both space and interiority. The first few tracks sound like rather by-the-numbers post-punk: Still good for my money, and the innovation in guitar playing is well-noted. But it rounds out by shooting off and blazing sonic trails. Those trails have been well-trodden, especially in Britain, but still sound fresh today.
This is a rock album, and it doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not. I found myself a little annoyed by Tyler's voice, and none of the songs gave me anything to write home about. However, I have a soft spot for this era of music and can understand its appeal. I did appreciate the tasteful use of piano in the closing track. I wish touches like that were more common: They are reminders that there's no need to separate pop appeal from musical attention. Of course, respect for tradition is not an inherent virtue in my account; But Aerosmith is far from avant-garde and I'm rambling now.
This gives me quite a few warm fuzzies. Especially during the bits closer to dance music, and when the objectively indulgent string arrangements come in. It may be naive, but "post-Britpop" neatly describes my initial reading. And like many a Britpop project, its songs never cohere into a sum greater than the parts.
Moby's Play during Lent seems like an appropriate listen for a few reasons. Off the bat, there's the nearly-too-obvious veganism, which I argue is fair to bring up due to its prominence in the packaging. Then there's the blend of melancholy with heavily sampled dance music, which over the course of an hour loses most of its power to invite dance. That last part is my perception this time, at least, which makes me uncertain about rating the thing. One part of me agrees that the album is a classic: The blend of sampled music and sadness into dance tracks is adept and unique. On the other hand, the concept wears thin quickly, leaving the melodies, which are catchy but fail to inspire beyond that. The last few cuts are especially flat in context, but taking too much context into account brings me close to review-as-reaction-to-popularity. There's something very good about Play, but I don't like it very much. That's something I don't think about music very often.
This is an impressive piece of work by the standards I have for Aerosmith. It might be a memory blip, but I don't think I had heard any of these songs before; Yet almost all of them had great pop potential. The exceptions are most obviously the instrumental interludes, but I enjoyed those as exhibits of as much of a concept as the album has. The integration of American folk stylings was great, if a bit inconsistent. As always, I'm a sucker for strings. And, when it comes to glam, unapologetic sleaze.
I may have tainted my listen a little by learning of Faith No More's relationship to the Chili Peppers as I began to play it. As I recently discovered, I'm one of the people who can't stand the latter band, and so as The Real Thing played I kept coming back to the idea "RHCP but good". At least, better. I'm still not a huge fan. The reasons for that seem pretty small, but they're consistent across the record. First, the electronic sounds come across as incredibly dated, and not in an endearing way. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I've ever liked old synths on a rock record. The above point is also assuming that the strings are synth strings; They sure sound like it. Second, I'm not a fan of Patton's vocals. Besides those things, though, there's a high-energy blend of styles played pretty well. Not well enough to get over my objections on first listen, but my impression has already moved from the very low bar of the Chili Peppers to better-than-middling.
A simple album of ballads, driven by piano and acoustic guitar. In that, it's reminiscent of Billy Joel, who I see is up next. I find Don's voice less hammy and his overall presentation more believable. Every song is pleasant. The whole project is, in many ways, forgettable, but it achieves its emotional goal I think: I was a bit choked up for the full forty minuets. Babylon is a wonderful closer, and has the most interesting instrumentation. The only flaw is that it's too short.
I was enjoying myself for the first couple tracks, but after that my opinion nosedived back to where I expected it to go. It's a mostly unobjectionable pop album, honestly. But so many of the instrumental sections are beyond cheesy. I was familiar with Only the Good Die Young and still have a positive outlook on the song, but it's not enough to buoy the back half.
I sensed some kind of religious undertone from the jump. That promise was fulfilled, and well, with string arrangements galore and a disarming, beautiful, succinct closer. I've mentioned the striving for a religious experience before; Here the album succeeds at it. The songs are not yet sticky in my brain, but it's the kind of project I can see myself considering perfect.
This is a confusing project for me. I'm hit with the thought that it's a singles album which nevertheless flows. That flow isn't particularly satisfying, though, so the only explanation I have is that it's not particularly strong as a project. So far, so mediocre, but the musicianship is deft, and the harmonies might be intricate, just not ear-grabbing-for-me. Thus, my rating doesn't really reflect an opinion, but I may never revisit Drunk. The subject matter is a touch too silly, the vibe a bit too background.
This is some really high-quality country rock. The album wears its California roots on its sleeve, which puts it both close to and a little distance from my heart. I can't quite say I love it after one listen, but it seems to last longer than its runtime in a good way: Every song is solid. It ends particularly well, on a bit of a twist. Which, written down, seems like a bit of a backhanded compliment, but is in fact sincere praise.
This is the finest example of old-school hip-hop I've heard yet. The sound is clearly indebted to the East Coast, and while there's not as much Southern innovation as say, Outkast, touches exist. The production and turntablism is insanely good. The flows are all relatively familiar ones from the era, but they're convincing and use enough tempo and theme variation to remain fresh.
Something about the way this is recorded makes it sound extra nice. Folky in a good way, not like the mics used were bad or the instruments especially noisy, but that there was real warmth in the space it was being recorded. There is a great spectrum of songs, and a few of them are shining gems: The opener, Faretheewell, and the closing Raga. The other tracks are best when they utilize Neil's low register. There's something that doesn't quite cohere, though that might disappear after further listening.
Pleasant enough pop music, but ultimately relatively boring. There were a couple hints at interesting vocal lines early on. At least I've learned that string arrangements can't save any music for my ears.
I was pleasantly surprised by this, as downtempo stuff usually isn't my bag. And it is long, though the beauty of the production can't be overstated (Actually, maybe it can when the cheesy strings come into Little Star.) Madonna's voice doesn't have much zing to it here, but if it did the whole album would have to be retuned to it. She takes you through the hour of music, and the melodies are pretty if not very hooked, and the calming effect of the music is undeniable. I tend to prefer my trip-hop with more of the mentioned zing, but Madonna is absolutely my bag.
The length should have tipped me off, but I was expecting more filler. It's a solid rock album, with hooks on both sides that have survived decades. The whole band seems to be moving toward the same goal, which makes it a bit hard to understand why Van Halen was so important for guitars. Guitar music, sure, but no playing strikes me as superlative.
This is certainly a 3.5. All the acclaimed elements I read about are there: I especially love the density of musical material in just over half an hour. Aretha had an iconic voice, of course. The sidemen sound fine. But something about the assemblage lacks the punch of other albums I've heard in the same vein. Yet I believe it's there. One to revisit.
Most artists who touch abjection in a song do so in the middle of or across an entire album. The arc of this album, on the other hand, is from low to low. No one sounds quite like The Cure, either. The pace is perfect, the bass tone especially is perfect, and the dark is bone-chilling.
What a strange listen. I know the band is capable of better songs, but it seems they aren't exactly going for songs. However, the soundscapes, while almost carried by solid musicianship, are too scattered and far outside The Cure's wheelhouse. The strangeness and some high points are enjoyable, but this would work far better as an outtakes disk than as an LP.
I've yet to hear a perfect Doors album, but they're clearly a band that has the ability to pull one off. The moment that convinces me of that fact in Morrison Hotel is the build-into-change in the middle of Waiting for the Sun. The rest of the A-side immediately appeals as well, while the backside is sparser in its spots of beauty. Powerful closer, though. I'm not sure if my feelings about The Doors make me too hard or too easy on them. The day I can rock out to an entire LP without thinking is when I'll know for sure.
I'm new to lang's discography, but as far as I can tell the arc within this album is a recursive version of the album's place in it. We move away from country instrumentation, while the sound palette and the voice remain lush. I can't help but think it would be a better album if it was more explicitly country. At the same time, the first couple tracks are where I felt most strongly that I was listening to standard adult contemporary. Perhaps that's still true, but only mostly.
The expeditions into genre territory like ska and surf are the most fun and also the best parts of the record. However, I have no taste at all for the (grungy?) vocal style and that is constant over far too long a time. I'm intrigued by some of the music and my take sweetened after the first two tracks. Please, people, lose the butt rock "growl".
The instruments are certainly dated. Even Bruce's voice goes that way, though it is emblematic of overall endearing effect of the sounds. The palette of American symbols produces an iconographic atmosphere, and certain ones - the prisons and refineries - are unfortunately timeless. The cover controversy is evocative of a strange kind of patriotism, but is also a reminder that the album is easy to play at a party. Very few misses on the tracklist. "They don't make music like this anymore" except, perhaps, one of my favorite 2019 releases.
2112 avoids the worst excesses of prog and keeps all the good bits, earning its place in the dad rock canon. The first side is discursive and indulgent, of course, but that's why you're here, and it's just half a record. For the rest of the runtime, we get songs, each distinct but tied together with instrumental chops and, most of all, Lee's wails. There's nothing mind-blowing here, and calling out those who say there is is fair play. But that doesn't make the music any worse.
The word to describe this is, without a doubt, "fun". One part of me wants to immediately queue it up again, another wants to find something to complain about. I certainly don't think it's too busy, too cheesy, or forgettable. Perhaps it's slightly less musical sophisticated than other albums on this list. One of the most body-activating listens, though. Certainly a strong album at its rating, and I might be underselling it.
The country/folk fusion here is cute, and exactly my bag. I felt that the more rocking numbers were the more forgettable, and that the tropier material was the most fun. I admit that fiddles are a huge weak spot in my taste, but I enjoyed them immensely. I wish that the closing track were longer, and I'm delighted that this thing was produced at all.
Loud, angry, and more than a little cheesy (though I think that's the hindsight view). Still, brilliant in the sense that something shines continually. I can't help but be won over.
I kinda love this, though I don't understand any of the acclaim. Except, perhaps, for Soledad, which weirdly fits and weirdly sticks out. The soundtrack for a movie (or something) documenting an altered series of karaoke numbers.
This sounds clearly like an important album in the development of folk rock, and a few tracks are quite good. I found not the singles but the B-side (and bonus tracks) to be most interesting. The relative of blandness of the first half is unfortunate, as there is a clear, incomplete image of excellent pop music. Though I'm tempted, no malus for the cover's violin bait-and-switch.
So you're telling me that a British band did in 1984 what Viagra Boys did on In Spite of Ourselves in 2021, for a whole album, with copious violin, and I didn't listen to any of it until today? Put this directly in my veins, stat. I don't care if it stops holding up eventually: This is exactly for me and there's an entire discography and several relistens ahead. Fine food for my imagination.
The Warmth is an early high point, and I was surprised how tolerable I found individual songs after my visceral reaction to RHCP. The inclusion of hip-hop scratches comes across as tacky as anything. Stylistically, this just isn't for me: I want something consciously noisier, or at least with the space post-punk tends to have.
The Crowes have a clear picture of the style niche they want to fill, and the playing to do it well. Unfortunately, the record falls hard into overproduction (at least to my entirely untrained ear) and the arrangements are unbearably radio-ready, especially where solos fit in or fade out. That sheen makes the LP grate a touch too much, though the songs here would sound perfect in the background of, say, a small-town rodeo.
I'm glad this wasn't my introduction-in-a-record to the group, thanks to Ill Communication getting generated first. Reading about the album's context helps me understand the relative simplicity of the debut, but without the color grading of nostalgia, the flows, rhyme schemes, and most of all the screaming are a bit... harsh. Funny enough, the humor, which usually rubs me the wrong way, doesn't come across badly here. I understand why this is a classic and think I get the hype for the Beastie Boys more generally, but when they start to play around with form more the difference is night and day. See: the samples in the closing track. Brilliant breaths of fresh air, a bit too late.
We get these songs produced so slickly, with such stereotypically grand string and horn arrangements, that the connection to the titular country and western music is subtle. I enjoyed the sharing of vocal duties at points. If it weren't for the title and historical context, I wouldn't have picked up on the source of the material until You Are My Sunshine. Charles's voice is the standout stylistic feature as he blends perfectly with the production and delivers the lyrics comfortably.
Orchestral-but-not-quite-champer-pop (and suffers for it, at least in my chamber-anything-loving brain). The band's talent for hooks is on full display if you listen closely, but they're mired in schmaltz and gestures at gospel. That makes it sound like a worse record than it is: There are moments of interest, but they are too spaced out. More than anything, this is a puzzling project to look at as essential.
This is an absolutely bizarre project, in a way that I am extremely partial for. Not entirely, perhaps due to being primed by Trafalgar first. In chronological order, that album comes across as a less interesting and slimmer version of Odessa. However, the songs here ride the edge of too cute for their own good, and there are maximal arrangements galore stretched out over a double album. Essential? Not on first listen, but this could be a favorite once the palette is cleaner.
The stride is hit in track four when the production switches to something vampy enough to blend with Costello's vocal affect. This is exemplary of the punk side of new wave, with a few references to other genres: I caught country and hard rock on a not-too-careful listen. The attitude is sneering, which is appropriate for the year and genre (I think new wave now is best melancholy). If there's any lack, it's in the relative simplicity of the arrangements. Melodies are spread out nicely across the band: Neither bass nor keyboard nor voice dominates the record.
The sticking power of Kind Of Blue isn't exactly due to "timelessness". The entrance to Blue In Green, in particular, seems very much of a time. The magic of the tune, and the rest of the record, is the ground everyone is able to cover. Thus, a recording that compares favorably with any of the music released after it. There's fast playing, bluesy licks, and a high degree of freedom in playing. Often all in the same track, and all easy to listen to and just fit-together enough. The first two tracks, especially, go lots of places but always come back home. I'm not a huge fan of the subdued B side, where I hear the most minimal compositions. But many compositions would be improved if players of this caliber picked them up and spun them into something new.
Eminently danceable for the entire time. Everything else is quite eclectic. The opening couple tracks are quite abrasive, then interrupted by a more melodic song. The production on the first half seems quite a bit more lush (at points I found myself thinking of it as presaging hyperpop), while things get more minimal later. Mango Pickle Down River seems to require particular context about the '07 world music zeitgeist to appreciate. Fourteen years later, Maya still sounds vital, but Kala can't hold my interest as an album.
The opening track is a great tool in homing in on my upper tolerance for hippie shenanigans. There are hints of interesting guitar work, but they are sadly overwhelmed by the tepidness of the idea. Cowboy Movie follows that up as the highlight of the album by far, and with the tone set we move into the rest. This seems to be a mixture of moderately interesting instrumental or instrumental-ish tracks, decent songs, and a couple more attempts at protest. Unfortunately, the instrumentals and chanting, the best bits, are subverted by a few lines of lyrics (What Are Their Names) or being directly subverted by parentheticals in their titles. Don't get me wrong, most of this would be very fun around a campfire with friends who were into it, and probably even at a show if you were. But it largely doesn't work on a recording. (Which is a shame given the harp non-sequitur, which would fit into the list of subversions above if I wasn't so charmed by it.)
Post-punk tending to the jangly with Björk's voice on the top. I discovered that her magic is in the totality of her solo music: Here the tunes are pleasant enough but not mind-blowing. The best tracks are where both vocalists interlace their lines (Blue Eyed Pop and Sick For Toys). There are hints of eclecticism (aside from obligatory Björk growls), but they aren't fully realized until the bonus tracks, which I could use a whole album of. Cowboy's touches of country, the heaviness of several of the extras, and the strings in the Deus remix were all very good.
Guitar and bass provide a consistent road over which the percussion and vocals coast and swerve. And that percussion comes through in that this is a highly percussive album. Not hammering to the ears, though; There's plenty of energy here but the band is discursive while they are always together. The result is music both tight and loose, a sound that comes close to others but is always its own and good at it.
Mostly-fine soft-rock. The massive overexposure of the title track does it no favors, and neither do the other string arrangements in its vein. Slightly overwrought and in need of more vocal harmony or weirder arrangements or both.
Sprawling and wonderfully indulgent. I hear flights of fancy in the instrumentation, arrangements, vocal stylings, and later in the other musicians. The "intro"-lude is a great break. It never quite flies into space, which is a shame, but always comes back to the ground, which is good. The back quarter never jumps the shark, but seems significantly looser than the rest. So far I'm enchanted but not quite in love. Future listens could temper my feelings, but for now this is just what I need.
Nu-metal's haters and defenders have all had their say, and I can add nothing. Mostly because I listened to it not at all (essentially, let's not talk about Skillet). Don't really like it, and this album is no exception to the rule that I have zero interest in relistening to it. On the other hand, nothing (except maybe the Durst track) is something I find actively bad, so I wouldn't mind if someone wanted to put it on. Certainly wouldn't mock them for it. It's still great that the genre had a short life. Bagpipe points go to Korn and not nu-metal.
This LP is a strange collision when it makes its way in through my ears. On one side, Celtic folk music, something that echoed through my childhood, softer over time. On the other, punk from across the pond: I only discovered that after I turned 20. The effect, for me, is disorienting. It helps that the instruments are rather raw, if recorded extremely clearly, and the arrangements and singing more polished (mostly). It doesn't exactly scratch an itch on first listen, but I think it could, if I worked at it for a bit. I suppose none of the titular elements are things I have the stomach for.
Absolutely flies by (after all, only four tracks!). It somehow feels both slight and like an absolute monster. I'll take my soul in this-sized chunks, thanks very much.
I went back and forth between thinking of this as average or average-ish and reasonably essential (2 and 3 in my rating scale, respectively) for basically the whole record; It was the "town cryer" pun that finally did it for me. This isn't a standout pop album for me. For what it's worth, I think bringing out the instrumental variety more would do a lot for it: My ear is drawn first to Costello's voice, my least favorite piece of the texture. However, there's quite a bit to be mined here, and no songs are throwaways, never mind skips.
It's hard to imagine a better set of music in this genre. It isn't exactly my speed, at least at the beginning, but the execution captured me. It's human-scale music that reaches the infinite. The guitar operates as the heartbeat of the album, leaving space for jazzy elements which peak on Fly and Poor Boy.
Creedence demonstrates their ability to rock out, but this is a rather obvious ramp-up to the significantly better second album of the year. "SF band does swamp rock" is a fun formula, but the largely overdone vocal affect reveals that it is, indeed, formulaic. The instrumental palette enchants in the way the smell of wet moss does. Thus, it's a shame that there is not more harmonica in Graveyard Train. The rest of the longer jams work well, but that one would be better covered by a stoner metal outfit, I think.
This thing moves lumberingly, but its reputation of coldness seems undeserved. So it's not particularly glacial after all. The dynamic contrasts are what keeps the ear engaged. Otherwise there's so much unfolding here that depths are promised. What is deserved is the assertion that nothing since has sounded quite like this.
I've listened to Black Magic Woman before, of course. "Accidentally", thanks to its reach, and on purpose a few times at least. It's a fine song if familiar. On Abraxas, its position in the tracklist does no favors. The harshest juxtapositions between rock and jazz are there, but they turn out to be evidence of the band dipping in and out of genre before weaving the rest of the tracks masterfully. There's a lot of range on the rest of the record, and as far as I can tell the keystone is the percussion, informing the electric instruments and blending in the jazzier elements. Fantastic playing and no drags.
Somehow ends up sounding a bit slight, despite the absurd maximalism. Which is a shame because that maximalism is the shiny thing that makes ELO ELO. I'm far from disenchanted, just need to wait for my mood to change or consume in smaller bites.
Almost magical, which is remarkable for an album of, as I understand it, mostly covers. It contains a nice range of country sounds, and Emmylou's voice is a smooth constant. It doesn't outlive its welcome in any way, but near the end becomes a collection of songs as opposed to a cohesive LP.
Very very fresh, fuzzy pop. The runtime is broken up by instrumentals which feel good. For that matter, the entire project feels pretty great. I think it succeeds on about as many levels as one could expect it to.
Top-notch country rock, at turns tender and loud. Always sincere, with the icons of the genre at the fore.
The melodies are nice enough and Nick does his thing from the first track, but nothing really caught my attention until Let the Bells Ring. Seven songs to get to the point is a shame, because the two remaining tracks on the first disc and the entire second are great music. Even Lyre doesn't set off my melodrama detectors like Murder Ballads did in full. The Lyre of Orpheus could very well be my gateway into the Bad Seeds, but on first look back-loading a record this badly is not forgivable.
Longstreth's voice sounds a bit strained on the first few cuts, but the compositions are intricate and the backing harmonies are delightful in stereo. Temecula Sunrise underlines the suburban angst with interjected "yeah"s. There's a prog-folk feel to first three songs, and they start in roughly the same way: minimal instrumentation and male vocals opening into movements and soundscapes. Stillness Is The Move is the proof that this is not the formula. It establishes that fact with its vamp. The sequencing continues to flow thanks to the string section linkage, until No Intention breaks the flow with a hint of a different kind of project altogether. The album ends with Longstreth in a halfway point between his early, more forced vocals and the more comfortable timbre of the couple preceding tracks. This time, he enters after an organ, and the song and album come to a close as the ideas on it come to fruition. I didn't expect something this accessible when I saw Trout Mask Replica comparisons, but this project earns it when its title is realized in lyrics.
Mark E. Smith sounds like he's on the wrong end of a radio for much of the runtime. A radio somewhere with thick, poisonous air, a shot out of a horror film. The difficulty doesn't come from that, however. It comes from the complexity of the texture. My ear was frustrated at first, and even after latching onto the guitars the rest of the music evaded simple recognition. In an ideal world, I'd prefer more and stickier bass and drum grooves: The guitar lines are too subtle to hook me. The samples (?) and occasional instruments are used deftly, on the other hand, and there is clearly precedent here for Sleaford Mods and Viagra Boys, very different bands which I am more familiar with. L.A. is a highlight, denser than the rest of the tracks and operating as a sonic and geographic escape. There's a horn-like tone on one of the early tracks which truly sounds wrathful. Damo Suzuki annoyed me a little bit. It's a meandering project, not quite as discursive as I prefer. The music feels litanic at times, but there are enough excursions from that space to keep things fresh.
This is the best case for dynamics in rock I've heard yet. It's produced well enough to overcome my dislike of some of the grungier stylings, and doesn't fall into indulging itself proggishly. After the fifth track, things get more experimental and, for the lack of a better word, sketchy. To the album's benefit. The attitude is immediately catchy, and the return of "man-size" is the formal cherry on top. Easy to see why this is essential, harder to figure out how to move from appreciating it to loving it.
The rock tunes tend to the multi-movement, and maintain their forward motion despite moderate length across the board. Buckley's voice is what ties the project together through its softer cuts, which were quiet highlights for me. The last couple tracks are examples of what could have been, with Eternal Life's tight but on-the-nose lyrics and Dream Brother's new sonic territory.
For the most part, the drum-driven grooves are of their time and genre. Every track could live as part of a soundtrack, but the skits fail to attach them into a free-standing structure. My body doesn't pick up anything particularly danceable either (N.B. I can't dance and this criticism is hypocritical given my enjoyment of Autechre's more abstract moments). This is something I notice with a lot of breakbeat: It's music that seems to be "about" other sound, but in an unpleasantly distant way. Because of all that, the Bond cover (for its explicit object), Rodney Yates (for its lounge jazz), and Caddell Returns (for its novel instruments) are highlights. I could see myself enjoying an album of cuts similar to Caddell in particular. Looking back, I see I gave Play this same rating, which feels a bit strange. For now, this seems like a strictly worse project. But it's not offensively bad at all and that response may come down to simple unfamiliarity.
The musicianship and simple chutzpah to put Free Form in there saves this from being offensively bad, but it's quite bad. It sneaks under the radar, which should perhaps be a point against it. Utterly uninspiring.
The production choice is immediately charming when paired with Cohen's vocals, but fails to land in any further sense. If the lyrical themes of the opener showed up more often I may have been convinced, but there's not enough ironic detachment to pull a, say, Alex Cameron (who I'll have to relisten to in Cohen's light now to be time-honest). While the other tracks with backing vocals provide additional highlights, the words and music never quite adhere. In the space between is the cheese, and there needs to be either more of it or none at all.
"Second wind" seems unfair and "hits its stride" is trite, but something happens at and after She Is Suffering. Not that energy is missing before that song, but I hear some kind of change, apparently nothing that I can describe but which certainly affects my ears. The skits give the project a kind of rap feel, but in spirit and not imitation. A shining example of music from across the pond, if not particularly boundary-pushing. I do find myself loving the edgiest-titled cuts. That seems like a sign that this could have been a taste determinant if I heard it younger.
A lot of fun but unfortunately quite inconsistent. The covers are especially divergent in quality: The opener is transcendent while the Doors cut comes off as kitschy. Other than that, the meat of the record is pretty satisfying, though one wonders how unique it is in the sitar-rock space. And, sadly, the closing track reinforces that notion with its weakly perennial lyrics and uninspired second half.
The production is gorgeous, the vocals a little less than, the arrangements classic or interesting at turns. I'm back and forth on how much of a wow factor it has. That's lost a bit in the gloss, while the less-well-aged bits stick out. Still, it's something that bears going back to: There are rough edges, but no splinters I can find.
"Die Mensch-Maschine": a perfect distillation of the record. So much of the future is in these songs, especially the future of electronic music. Yet there's physicality, even humanity, in every beat. It's the soundtrack of a cyberpunk world we never got. That might be good, of course: The music is more challenging than the titular phrase, and that lost future has problems we moderns don't have to face. Practically, moving to these rhythms works, but feels less than freeing. For other electronic music, that might be a flaw. Here, though, it feels like The Point.
Abjectly beige. The passionless delivery of "Do anything you wanna do" seals the deal. The line with the title in it is similarly empty, but at least there's the lampshading inherent to "dude". The single version of the rodeo tune is strictly better, but listening to it twice was not worth the time.
Quite simply the standard-bearing LP of glam rock. It was my first Bowie, and my perspective is forever tainted, but I doubt it will ever stop contending for a top spot in my all-time albums. Each time I listen to the full record, I'm blown away by the amount of musical material developed: This feels longer than it is in the good way. This time, though, I was struck by the sparse environment in which we start. Granted, it's only a minute and a half and then we're fully in Ziggy's world.
The Big Lebowski quote is funny but exaggerated: the Eagles' debut is forgettable but not horrible. The best tracks are at the end, almost tricking you into liking it. But it's paint-by-numbers, and the whistling fails to jazz things up. The band's definitely better with this instrumentation than not, but they desperately needed to drop the melodrama. Higher lows and lower highs than Hotel California; Better project but not by a lot.
My first exposure to 1989 was the Ryan Adams cover. That colors my experience of this listen, the most underwhelming one so far: The songwriting here is incredibly strong. The production is flawless as well, though it sometimes comes across as overproduction. Never stale, to be fair, and the magic of the album is when the vocals and production and songwriting perfectly overlay one another for a few transcendent seconds. Those intervals have been different for me over the years. This time I paid more attention to Taylor's vocals as well, which have a good amount of diversity while staying signature.
Pleasant, understated, playful. The band fits every instrument but the kitchen sink (I think) into a collection rock songs, without busting open the album form. The outstanding elements are noisy bits which do not grate, distinctly British vocals, and the lack of idle repetition or filler of any other kind. There is a taste of prog composition in the penultimate track, but in a quiet way. Nothing is particularly earworm on first impression.
I'm afraid that I'm just as reggae-illiterate as I was nine months ago. Still, I had no problem enjoying this record, released during what I understand is the same period as Natty Dread. It's very strong as an album, like the aforementioned project. Some instrumentals, especially that of the title track, are absolute barn-burners. I think a little more dynamic range would elevate much of the music, but the groove's there and the more important thing anyway.
The opener's inclusion of funk is quite promising. Unfortunately (I speculate), that genre is very difficult to get onto vinyl alive. Combine that with a pop form which is highly dependent on tools for sound and you get a fusion which, while fun, contains too much clear artifice. The good cuts (make a list by adding Kingsize and Love's Got Me In Triangles (absolutely the title highlight of the album) to the song mentioned above) are very good, but not parts of "essential" album listening. I suspect Haircut One Hundred would have been a fun live show.
The sequencing is a slow build: The listening state ten or twelve minutes is about the same as in any other live country case. Then, a few minutes later, comes the first fade, almost to black, of You Don't Love Me. Careful! This is where taste becomes more important, and where the live audience attempts to sway you with theirs. The organ peeks out, but won't come into its own until later in the multi-movement jam. At the end, everything crashes down painlessly and musically. The false promise of another song is unfortunate but probably an artifact of the vinyl format. The three longer songs are the obvious heart of the release. The guitar lines are long and indulgent, but not particularly noodly. In time, the aforementioned organ is introduced, along with slide guitar and (a bit of) bass. It's bright all the way through. Doesn't reach the rapture of certain other live recordings for me thanks to my lack of close listening for quotes (which could be remedied with time) and the backgrounding of the rhythm section (which is unlikely to change).
The first two numbers are languid, straight-ahead. There's life in the solos, but at ten minutes each my ears start to look for more explicit compositional variety. The Big Apple is much more sparse, with less virtuosity but more counterpoint. The following minutes of music, up to Inner Crisis, are largely similar. There's more space, which I enjoy, but little that's head-turning (the bass emerging at points is the exception). In Crisis, we get some organ on the surface of the texture. Next, the drums get a moment. Still, the percussion is pretty traditional for jazz, and I'm left searching for the advertised Afrobeat. Maesha is the record's crowning achievement, its thematic statement proceeding like something through-composed for jazz orchestra, huge and magnificent. But the organ asserts its freedom once again. The bass tone is as good as it gets, especially as the instrument slides and tries to scream for joy. There's opening-track-quality horn playing, though for far less time. The theme returns in religious bombast. And in the finale we get percussive and vocal variety. The bulk of the music here is not quite to my taste, though the playing is always good. The high points are excellent, but diminished somewhat by the runtime.
There's a characteristic riff/line/warmup/intro in desert blues. It's not exactly a scale, so my mind makes a weak connection to ragas. This record has it in several places. Sometimes, a tune emerges from that stem, but more often the rest of the track crashes down in a percussive, deconstructed cascade. Those songs are the weirdest blues songs I've ever heard. Their coherence in incoherence is an order of magnitude stranger than any set of effects or recording techniques. Nothing here is particularly abstract, though: There is always the sense and sound of the instrument in the recording, which makes the crashing seem like that of blocks of wood. All that is just what caught my ear on the first listen. The songs that are different are also physical, but are far less formally strange. Energy crackles, but seemingly from behind a facade.
The sound is of a time, both production and flow. But there's a sense of play throughout, with the music, features, and words. The wordplay will be more appreciated by fans of this era of hip-hop, and I'm not really one. However, the parts add up to something more than their sum, and the LP grows not just forward but backward.
Stereotypically and satisfyingly British: The scenes of nights out, the accent, the talk-rapping, and the musical landscape are all present. There's lots of production variance, mostly to the record's benefit, and a tape rewind at the end (cliché, but not telegraphed).
Lots of tunes, if not exactly hooks, here. Aside from the lyrical references to other nations, there were hints of glam and even math rock near the end.
Most of the songs are driving. Those that aren't are not exactly stinkers, but they do bring down the energy in the middle of the record quite a bit. Fortunately, it starts and ends on a high note and remains part of a tradition which maintains those highs.
This recording has two things that perennially delight my ears: An ageless, matured voice and piano that inexplicably sounds like something more organic than a piano is. The recording technique makes those elements, and the performances generally, shine. The rock is consistently crashing, and better sequencing and recording of the crowd would bump it from great to really great. For example, the two-parter of What'd I Say: I can tell what the slowing down and starting back up was, but I want to feel it too.
Seems at first blush to be a synthesis of soft rock and baroque pop. I dig the instrumental palette. However, there are few hooks otherwise and the songs are subtle enough that I feel going below the surface is necessary. There did seem to be some symmetry, perhaps mirroring the cover.
The songwriting here is stunning, both on its face and in retrospect: Apple never lost that skill. Hers is a smooth voice, but there are some jagged songs and the sequencing also has its peaks and valleys. The instrumental palette is wonderful, and could use a little bit more space.
Encyclopedic, a little repetitive (not within tracks but in the tracklist, too, and in neither place self-referential), long but driving toward its telos. That destination feels a bit hollow, but the music does not: Parts of it are positively live.
There are absolutely previews of krautrock here. Raw material for some other rock genres, too, but the space in these songs is not as pregnant as that in post-punk. The instrumentation is somewhat novel, but the forms are rather conventional. Best as a read text, but elevated a good notch in the listening department by Complication.
The opener-into-first-vocal-track transition is immaculate Queen-does-prog, with the glammy guitars doing a decent impression of the best kind of synth line. Unfortunately, while the rest of the tracklist flows well technically, the musical heights of that moment are only present again at the end of March. The raw material of great Queen is here, but the LP feels distinctly carried by studio work. The sitar imitation is the most egregious case of musical half-effort. It's crowd-pleasing overall, though, and despite a little drag in the middle ends up sounding just about the right length.
I heard a record that was part-ambient, part-something-else, though of course Autobahn predates that classification system. Kraftwerk doesn't reach the heights of electronic-flesh synthesis they do on Man-Machine, but there are glimpses of human joy through the beats. This time through, I caught those more on the B-side than anywhere else. The title track remains important, just a bit sterile.
This is stunning, straddling shoegaze and something else. Don't get me wrong, I've got a weakness for shoegazing and that's what draws me in, but the noise-pop/rock elements are well-executed. Decay seems like the most driving and least conventional track of the front eight, but fits the tracklist well. Dreams Burn Down carried the most emotional weight for me. The back or bonus seven songs were less even but still welcome listening.
Elvis's voice sounds nice and is recorded well, with consistent depth and the signature swagger when it's called for. However, everything suffers a bit from the commerciality (silly to criticize The King for, of course), and the slow cuts are especially underwhelming. Fever is the clearest high point with its interplay of voice and percussion. Like A Baby is an example of a slow song done well. The rest is decent-to-good.
Rocks, but not in a way that seems much different or better than their contemporaries. The riffs are well-executed, the lyrical material meh, the vocals consistent. Above average, but there are too many exemplary hard rock albums out there. Other albums.
Entertaining pop music, though not as ear-wormy as I found Village Green to be. Session Man seems to open things somewhat, especially into its transition into the sound effects of Rainy Day. A cheap trick, but effective. Perhaps especially effective because it's after several more conventional tracks. For a stretch, there's a strong sense of place, and that's one of the best parts. Sunny Afternoon is another gem, and listenable in at least two ways. The rest is good, but the concept argument reads as threadbare and I've already commented on the worm-lack.
Bowie's had a leader's hold on pop, but here you can here him going for it in a really accessible way. For that reason, there's a lot of "This is nice, and elevated by David." Now, I had never thought to draw a line between Bowie and White, but I caught something in Oh! You Pretty Things: Mostly the composition, but there's something to be said in comparing the piano to guitar and drums. I can't help letting Ziggy overshadow this record, but Hunky Dory was certainly a step in that direction. The powerful, building songwriting is in evidence in Quicksand. The songs-about-singers are incongruous, but hint at conceptuality. And again, it's Bowie: He gets a pass.
Interesting fusion of house and hip-hop. The visible - or rather audible - weld isn't a bad thing, but it does draw attention to the material on either side. The beats are good background music but hardly inspiring. The rapping is of its time as well. It's a solid hour of music, but doesn't seem notable.
To be consistent with how "jazz" works, "jazz rap" also has to be recognized as a reductive category, trying to pin down something elusive. The music on this record is subtle, but eventually reveals itself as jazz-y in an important sense, probably closer to the funk era of the instrumental music thanks to its angles. Songs, not just their production, maintain sharpness with their use of space if not silence. The beat is largely in the negative space, reminding me that dance is part of life instead of commanding me to get up. A few sudden transitions emphasize the effect. It's very grown-up hip-hop, without exuberance. I don't love it on first listen, because it's not really reading music unless it's the music you're reading. One definite takeaway: The closer is thematically satisfying but musically tantalizing.
Whew. Opening with capital Opinions on America and Forgiving Jesus soured me to this one pretty hard. Kudos to Morrissey, though: His musicality keeps things from sliding all the way into Melodrama. The sonar beep on I'm Not Sorry is even pretty interesting. Great cover, too. But Moz: Still not for me.
I went home for a bit. The local junior college, the I had attended a couple classes at years before, as the theater/film department was getting axed, hosted some kind of light show event at their observatory. My mom was interested: Me, my now-wife, and my parents headed there to see it. Turns out that along with the star-viewing party was a laser show accompanying Dark Side. I had, at that point, not listened to the album. I had, as far as I know, only heard Pink Floyd ambiently. My mom was underwhelmed. And, in a cliché, I was overwhelmed. It's not quite a masterpiece, but it is very, very good. Sounded like a warm fuzzy blanket the first time and still does. I don't think that the feeling is quaint, but if it is I don't care. The music doesn't overstay its welcome, it returns to its themes and motives on time, and it contains the appropriate amount of space for its title.
I sensed a connection to Jah Wobble, went back, and realized that my reaction to this type of impresario project is largely the same. Except with less affection in this case. Slight, uneven melding of musical material (feels like halves). Doesn't have a standout track. Not offensively bad.
Far too late for my liking I have discovered that there is a subset of punk and post-punk music which uses the violin. When I opened the wiki page for this album, I was hopeful that I was about to listen to another entry in that personal canon. Sadly, the string arrangements here are one of the weakest parts. The sax parts, on the other hand, are at least fun. There is a stronger rhythmic sensibility than there is in certain pop/new-wave releases. But it's soundly dated and mostly forgettable. Turn Away was the strongest cut, while Hokoyo hinted at a better sound altogether.
The marriage of the driving electronic beats which, developed to their logical extreme, make synthwave, with more organic instruments and vocals is nostalgic but never dated or cheesy. In the repetitive sections are echoes of more dance-floor-focused music, which I'm bearish on here. There's a great deal of thematic consistency which would benefit from longer-form working-out. Religious language gives the text some weight, while it sticks pretty close to the music-corrupting-teens narrative suggested by the title. But it's an order of magnitude more subtle than Soft Cell, which I utterly enjoyed as well.
Inarticulate even for the Twins, and not to their benefit. It still sounds unlike anything else out there, but there's the distinct sense that it's for good reason this time. Especially on the back half of the record, the textures begin to settle into songs, albeit not in the neatness-unneatness of later releases. For that reason, it's notable as a transition point for the band's sound.
Cool jazz has never been my cup of tea, and this doesn't change that fact. It is, however, strikingly cohesive for a compilation, and the first half's sequencing hits especially hard. Move sounds completely boppy, but also like it's being pushed through something viscous. The slowing-down continues through the third track, and then Budo presents an aural challenge again but with tone instead of speed. The compositions are fairly straightforward temporally, but the nonet format gives lots of interesting texture variation. The drums come across as especially dynamic.
I didn't like this as much as I hoped I would. There's a ton of instrumental variety, but nothing that coheres on first listen and nothing that evokes the supernatural charm of the Beach Boys. There are clear peaks and valleys in the tracklist, however, and I suspect there's more than I'm hearing beneath the surface.
Stone-cold classic. I feel unable to speak to the music in any cohesive way. But I know that the sampling work is second-to-none, pulling a wide swathe of music into a cohesive statement of the tip-top West Coast sound. There are multiple performers featured on top of that production, too, but they also blend beautifully. It's an exuberant album for the most part, occasionally dipping into dread. Predictably, most of those occasions are connected to cops somehow, but there's also a game show segment? In any case, it, like the other skits, is neither profound nor distracting. The last track could easily be dropped to keep the thing under an hour, though.
Dylan squeezes the blues through the rock tradition and his own folky take on big-M Music. The songs expand past typical radio-fare size while retaining accessibility (this especially obvious in retrospect). There's a straining here, in a different sense than other bluesmen I've heard. I think it can be interpreted as a barrier to album perfection or the very thing that makes the project mythical: For me it's the former, by a hair.
Eat your hearts out, British impresarios: Here's how to actually-pleasantly combine "world"-or-what-have-you with British pop. It comes at the expense of textural depth at the front, and Singh's voice is so laid-back that it's impossible to hear it as punk. However, there's clear layering in the rhythm, clearest on the instrumental tracks: Hip-hop that's danceable and works with guitar music is hard to integrate, but it fits here without sounding at all forced. Funky. There are quite a few spots that I think would be improved by more dynamic recording or more interesting sequencing, but the toe-tapping and sheer density of music (with a taste of country, even!) convinced me of my opinion. I had already bookmarked several more of the band's recordings.
The opener is slight compared to its follow-up, which I recognize thanks to its legacy as sample. In not too much longer, that song unfolds, with subtle drama and plenty of good nature. For forty minutes, it's the Nina's Voice Show; With minimal accompaniment, one still gets the distinct sense of traveling through many corners of American music. Comparisons are inevitable because of the mentioned samples and the Buckley cover served to me two months ago by this very site. The songs here have powerful forward momentum, but the lateral movements are quite delicate. That makes me think of Wild as an album not quite arresting enough to fall in love with, and then I hear the blatant parallel with Mitski's Nobody (which I was absolutely arrested by). Desaturation by familiarity: That's something decently new to yours truly. But in the interests of ending speculation about things I know nothing about: One hundred percent beautiful, fascinating as a document of singers'-songwriter's songs. I can't wait to digest it again and hear a more focused project. I can tell she's capable of a better run of songs and yet this one is better than so many others...
Alternate history noise pop for British boys. Hearing this makes me think I was over-generous with Tommy, though they are quite different pieces of music. It's an entertaining but shallow piece of garage. Thanks to it, I'm of the mind that the genre is best left to Americans. But - credit where credit is due - this is a formative album in the sound. That alone doesn't make it exemplary. I did start to pick up on winning tracks later in the tracklist: It's Not True.
Impressions of the album altogether, then more positive thoughts on its opener. This is my second time through Maggot Brain. I was primed a couple day ago by a discussion of Sun Ra, but also realized a truth. I tried George Clinton's groups, didn't really stick. The Arkestra, on the other hand, was immediately fascinating. And I have to say it's because Funkadelic, by and large, doesn't swing nearly as much. In addition, there's an obvious difference in tone: "I gotta go to work" vs. space chants. Irony aside. Now, the title track is great. Fades out a bit early for my taste, but there's a great sense of physicality to it I missed the first time around. It's very tape-y: You can hear the medium at times, but also imagine yourself pulling the nearly new artifact from a forgotten box in the attic.
I will always at least enjoy organ, and this brings that instrument and spades. Plus surf licks and just the right amount of cheese. It's far from perfect - saying it's "dated" is probably tired but definitely true - but always fun. The placement in 1001 Albums is absolutely deserved. My rating is a bit generous because it's psych. That final track is a statement, though. And something I can only speculate about the contemporary reaction to: There have been far too many echoes in the ensuing fifty years.
A focused set of country takes, but in the honky-tonk style which has never completely won me over. Comparisons to Sinatra are ubiquitous; For my part I'll say that Price doesn't have the affect problem I mentioned. There's solid fiddling on several tunes as well, elevating the music above the level of the rest of the playing.
An album of some number of pop-folk bangers. Yet another "how did this get produced so long ago" find thanks to this site. At first blush, I feel that it stands up to many of my favorite pop projects of the last twenty years. I want to give it time to grow on me before I think about it in words again.
Grindcore has always interested me more as a concept than as practiced. It's easy to get to innoculate oneself with noisy music such that the harshness is manageable (at least the harshness that gets recorded), but even after I reached that point I felt that the songs I heard were lacking. They still seem that way, but my mind has been changed about projects in this style. It's still not a song-oriented experience, but becomes something like free jazz in reverse: There are drumming similarities but the tendency is longness not shortness. One huge speed bump for the form is the need for context - lyrical, political, historical - to make it interesting enough to sit through. But Scum has some obvious musical aspects which improve it. Tunes poke their heads through the grime. The second half doubles down on the lack of recording quality but powers through it to the end. I think I'd prefer this on vinyl, all things considered, and in that it's similar to a slab of noise I have opposite Lingua Ignota songs. Listening to that whole record helps me think of noise as music, and I extend that thinking to this record.
This is a selection which absolutely deserves a place on this list, and I would have put it in my personal canon years and years ago. Still holds up. I hadn't picked up on the basslessness explicitly before, but it helps bring out Karen's vocals, squeezed through something before reaching the ear. For the most part, the songs are energy-fests, burning up as they fade out. The pop inclinations are there, but don't surface completely on this album. That might be for the best: It's a more consistent project even if it has duller aural peaks than some of their other albums. The second half dips in intensity, proving that breadth is eminently possible for the band.
The big problem here is certainly not that anything is "too long". For the most part, these are fragments of songs (in some cases, pretty experimental ones). It smacked of inclusion-by-context, especially at the beginning, but covered enough ground that I understand some of the appeal.
There are well-captured transitional movements here, between the braggadocious gangster style to the more chill if still focused politics of later conscious rap. Lyrically, there are clear themes, and 2Pac balances machismo with hope for something better. Musically, there's the high synth tone I think of as something between the string sections of soul and the richer electronics of 2000's music. The skit-lightness accentuates the framing of Intro. It's dated, I don't love it, but it's important listening. I prefer All Eyez On Me, but both albums are big and merit closer examination and comparison.
I'll always enjoy some XTC, even if I discovered them in reverse via Shriekback and still think I prefer the latter group. There aren't too many standout moments here, with the exception of some of the melodic lines in Earn Enough for Us. It's a tad overstuffed, reminding me of Out of the Blue nine years earlier. However, the genre influences here suit better. In an alternate variety, it's XTC instead of Lennon that draws pointless ire.
I dig this, largely, I think, thanks to the dub elements and use of acoustic sounds. Leaning into the latter element would have made some of the longer cuts a bit more dynamic. It's jazzy without turning skronky or "cool". Works well as a soundtrack, better as a palate cleanser. A good one, that is one which has its own character. There's a slight narrative curve on the album and track levels. Industri-ish samples gradually increas in frequency. The Rough and the Quick develops while relishing in its explicitness. There are closing veers into levels of composition impressive for electronic music, which also show off the acoustics.
Weird, but never quite reaches high weirdness. It's all a bit normal-weird. More jug please. The mono recording seems better, actually, but the stereo track order has a monster of a closer.
The highs are higher on the first side, no doubt, but I can't help but notice the lack of musical variety. The last seven songs give so much more in terms of texture and tempo variety, and the emotional beats seem much more realized. Influential sound, recording interestingly, worth my time, but not mind-blowing.
The songs here feel full (seemingly two of them packed into the opener, fitting together) while the tracklist avoids bloat. There's lots of sonic variety (I hear chickens, squeaks, swirly digital whoops, many a subgenre reference) in a framework that works well enough for commercials. I'm very glad I glanced at reviews, because "slacker" is the perfect descriptor for the project. Energy levels fluctuate nicely, but the interest level is not-quite-there in the distance recorded music allows for. It's Britpop with plenty of jangle; Could use a little more jingle to sound less demo-y at the back. Great electric guitars.
This seems a lot like a set of novelty covers, but it's slick enough to skate by. Turning it up reveals a lot of depth in the percussion parts, which I suppose should make sense based on name alone. The amount of organ is tastefully beneficial.
One of my favorite slightly dismissive words in these reviews are "slight". It came to mind again here; Not because of the instrumentation, or the arrangements, but their combination. Everything flows well enough and is inoffensive, but the overall effect is AOR-via-pop. (I guess there's an "adult contemporary" category for that, eh?) The horns and strings are what bring it out for me: They're there, but in neither the wall-of-sound nor the virtuosic sense. There are a handful of good songs, but as an album it lacks.
The general tendency of rock operas to end up less than operatic is a crying shame. Thankfully, The Wall doesn't have that problem. However, it ends up feeling slightly uncomfortable with itself. The moments of story are quite spread out: Not a problem, but it does draw the ear to the disconnect between the narrative and the embedded rock album or albums. The moments of thick musical beauty, on the other hand: I wish Floyd had gone all in on those. Their rate makes the finished product feel a little uneven. All in all, though, it's a nice thing to have playing. I'm reminded of my copy of A Passion Play. I put that record on after buying it, opened a site with annotations, scrutinized the stuff in the sleeve. But in the end all that was a bit hollow, and the music was... fine. Worms good though.
Lovely, subtle. Country albums tend to grow on me, but this one starts pretty well-liked. The entrances of new instruments are absolutely delicious. Very, very cool project. The shape of the narrative needs to be teased out a bit by me; Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough. Anyway, it earns its instrumentals while remaining relatively short, and I love that at the very least.
An enjoyable exposition of the grunge sound. So much so that almost every song has a hook I've heard before. And that's despite missing the genre while it was alive and avoiding it in retrospect. I prefer Sturgill's cover of In Bloom, but the brilliance of the composition here is still evident. Other songs are just as strong and are highly sonically cohesive: Substrate of low acoustic and electric guitars, vocals sitting in the middle, occasional high tone flourishes. The angst is laid on a bit thick, but the album's influence is undeniable. The noise on Endless, Nameless is probably my favorite newly-discovered piece of Nirvana music.
Brazilian music is never unwelcome. A good thing, because I had to go looking for this one a little bit. I ended up settling on the Hemisphere release, which at least on Discogs is categorized as a European reissue of "Elis" from 1980. In any case, it displays a variety of styles by Elis, as one might expect from a compilation. That's nice, but the instrumentals tend to be pretty uninteresting: The percussion choices were especially flat for Brazilian music. O Medo De Amar... was a standout, and Aprendendo Jogar captures the spirit of play well and, I imagine, makes a good opener to the Brazilian release (with a different tracklist). Other than that I'd like to hear her voice on a more cohesive set of tracks.
The lightning-speed swamp rock riffing that the band does on the opener simply sounds great. There's more pop-blues to come, and it's good. Not quite Dutch angled, but with plenty of edge to keep the ear engaged. The attempt to sexualize their interpretation of the genre comes off a bit flat, but thankfully it's not the main thrust of the record. The second half loses a bit of the energy, but serves as a demonstration of musical breadth and ends with a bang. Very impressive for a sub-forty-minute album.
This is better walking than driving music. It comes across as a bridge between 20th-century hard rock and the garage sound of the oughts, with QOTSA flair (I hope my lack of knowledge of Kyuss is as clear as it is deep). It could have come out in 2008, which suggests that songwriting has advanced unfortunately little since its release. Except for a few tracks at the end, the recording seems like one of an exciting if long session. There's rockstar swagger but not a whole lot of boundary pushing.
The tracklisting on this creates a funny but fuzzy listening experience. The initial two tracks are pretty tossed-off, but then the record opens up into long-form folk jamming. From what I've heard so far, this is where Young shines. Round & Round starts like a campfire hymn, then develops vocal harmonies which primed my ears for the following song and kept me listening for them to come back. They never quite did, but that anticipation had me listening closer, including to the fiddle lines which develop late. I must admit that I wasn't engrossed, but I think I see what this music can do. The suggestion of it, at least.
Snap (and almost certainly bad) judgement: the Reflektor of Neil Young's discography. In other words I've been grabbed finally. Organ and steel are exactly what my ears needed today, and you can't beat the combination of depressive subject matter with near danceability. The harmonica's entry swept me up, and Turnstiles's switch in instrumental energy couldn't bring me down. The initial impression of this record as similar to Reflektor but on one disc is borne out: The second side is far more pensive. That's closer to what I expect from Young's band, but I'm still excited and intrigued by the record. The "Blues" troika stands out initially.
There is a certain amount of automatic props available for including Grappelli. Neither that inclusion nor any other was cheesy or overdone. The album was little and sweet. Not a ton of meat for me, even though I loved Bridge Over Troubled Water. There were no obviously influential sounds either, though it fits neatly in the timeline of American pop music.
I mistook a lower ceiling and floor for less dynamic range than Rid of Me. Harvey's voice is reminiscent of Björk's at times, though it's no copy and the music underneath certainly is not. I adore the low instrumentation, especially when the low strings come in loud. The moments of self-loathing are the most painful ones, but more than anything the music pushes the listener on and on. It's a twisting journey along a less-than-smooth curve. I feel goodness, but not something that can be grasped all the way around. Perhaps that's one of the points.
I don't expect many other entries on the list to sound like this. That's a shame, as the recording captures something unique and captures it well. There's a definite devotional aspect to the songs, though they neither present themselves as a logical series nor explode into true long-form. There's something wrong-way-rubbing about "world" music. Not sure if it's contextual or actually in the aura of the music, but as the body percussion comes in at the end of the LP that feeling sharpens.
The light side and prelude to Violator, paling in comparison. The worst intervals are concentrated on the A-side; The rest lacks the coherence of the followup but stretches toward it and functions as good pop. To Have And To Hold justifies the listen almost by itself, which betrays my sympathies for less positive electronics.
I brought a CD of didgeridoo music back from my childhood trip to Australia, a CD which went unappreciated by everyone around me. Here, the instrument shows up in only one track but Kate uses her screaming register here more than in any other album, or so it seems. Harsh Medicine. Theme/concept aside, there's much less tonal consistency here than on Hounds, despite a similar sonic palette. Still love it.
There's an opening section, between Time Travelin' and its reprise, where jazz-rap beats manage to stay together despite the low level of melody in the production. It feels simply-right, but my sophomore analysis is that the mix of straightforward flows, old-school beats, and many collaborators is actually quite deft. (Defter by far than that sentence.) The second half reads much poppier, but there's an attempt to pimp square the conscious circle, introduced by a quote of Gil Scott-Heron. "Clumsy" is the wrong word, since A Song for Assata is so successful that it integrates hip-hop self-reference, too. But the half doesn't quite work. But I still like the project: It's strong.
That is soulful and electric! The starting and landing points are wonderful; The rest of the material is nice but musically low-key and vocally didactic. It would have been great to hear that grey area explored more deeply.
Listening to this is easy because Willie makes it sound easy. It's one of the least country albums I can imagine him making: Traditional instrumentation pokes its head up from time to time, but never all the way and always tastefully. On the Sunny Side of the Street has the best sonic blend going. As with coffee, I see little reason to choose the blend for myself, but it goes down great in the company of friends. His voice can easily convince you that he's that friend in this scenario. I don't think it sways my final impression, but the closer is crushingly affective.
There's never been a musician quite like Miles. This is a showcase of just that: It's clearly a transitional piece but is no less canonical for it. I'm partial to music which turns harder one way or the other, and the first side of this record stays on one harmonic plane but also doesn't attempt a studio skronk-out. That makes it less than perfectly dynamic as a recording, but all the electric touchstones are there. Shhh fades out and the title track, another great piece of music, emerges. The players emphasize their chops most during the middle section of that second track, but always keep things restrained. And thus they get to something unexpected: a combination of jazz and rock that becomes something "classical".
The overall effect is of speed and density. At least two LP's of musical material is compressed to forty minutes. I have only the lightest grounding in Ornette's discography, but it's enough to bring me into each tune. With the exception of Peace Warriors, which gets a bit vampy (not a good thing in this form factor), there's plenty of distinction to find aural purchase on. One saxophone or the other is often playing something slower, or they're both holding a tone, or the drums become legible, or a bass line emerges. This doesn't abstract the tunes as much as I thought it would: The rhythm section is weird, with the drummers departing from all tradition and creating the unique texture, but there are intact melodies galore.
Drum machines in pop music are almost always a mistake. They're a special shame here as the fusion of hard and Southern rock is nearly immaculate. The tracklist is a bit uneven, but the best-known songs are not the best ones and at this BPM you're all but required to turn your brain way down.
There's a slide or pedal in the very beginning: A strong opening which would usually cast the other sonics in country colors. The string sections alongside are arranged like soundtracks. There's noise, too: occasional distortion, creaks, what appears to be an engine. It all comes together, surprisingly, into a post-rock effect. Not something that would obviously work with pop music. Accessible is what the words and arrangements make each track. Masterfully prepared.
Very tight. Not as energetic as one might expect the "first glam rock album" to be, but I liked that: It's clearly historic, and a well-aged pop project.
Less driving than their debut and the intricacies didn't grab any particular part of my brain.
This opens with a stunner, and stays highly engaging. That's something of a surprise given the DnB bones. Perhaps I'm biased against looking at anything from the genre as masterful, because this comes close. I get a lot of the same feelings I got from Jessie Ware's latest (and in that case I 100% have a positive disco bias). There's a gentle ebb and flow, but Thorn's vocals carry the record. Can't say, however, that they would sound as nice over any old beat. The third-act introduction of acoustic instruments is extra poignant: It reinforces the tone of the preceding songs while demonstrating the collaborative nature of the duo's sound. Lingering on that sound instead of turning to remixes would have been it for me.
After the eight minutes of La fille de la mort I understand a connection between industrial and post-punk which I missed before. If this album came out today but with more traditional rock backing I would be as interested as I am in hindsight. The strings are just traditional enough for me to grip as the band dives into more obviously industrial territory. Some of the samples come across as anti-The-Mood, but it's relentlessly intriguing. A grower because of that confusion, perhaps, but great on first listen. There is truly little new in music.
In here are some of the rawest and rolling-over-me-est blues I've heard. Muddy exercises his control over the throttle, though. I appreciate the resulting variety but wish the recording was more consistently live. Nevertheless, this takes the form to some pretty magnificent places.
A sterling realization of loose concept. I heard less jingles in the back half, but there were plenty of those, given genuine musical love. Other than that, The Who give a tour of the era of pop through their ears and instruments. Unrelentingly fun. Not quite Sgt. Pepper's, but I hear the same genius.
It feels like I summoned this album with a throwaway line in a mediocre review of The Who Sell Out yesterday. Then, I was reflecting on listening to Sgt. Pepper's about a month ago. That was the mono version, and in retrospect I was thinking that it was a bit better than the Who record, still worse than Revolver. Well, it hasn't become my favorite Beatles album after another listen, but I was overcome today by how clearly this is a 5/5 listening experience. Each song is a hair away from perfect, perhaps, but together they form something sublime.
The chimes are explicit first, but brief. When they come back, they are varied: Sometimes overtones and sometimes ambient noise. On top of them - always on top, as the mixing is consistent even as the instrumentation morphs - come modified pop songs. The modifications are not all the same, but the best ones slow down the production to pain while Smith vocalizes normally and melodies swirl. This listen, the melodies are what drew my ear: The best ones are always a little buried, it's neat. There's a strange call to dance, which makes the album less abject than the surface suggests.
"Don't I know you better than the rest?" It's a question lots of great music asks, but usually not in the beginning of the text. But it seems like Beach House wear their hearts on their sleeve here. To me, the approach is slightly incongruous with the genre, and obscures the rich texture with few ingredients. Hardly sparse, but not over-subtle, a little loud: It's a grower. Perfect length, though, obviously.
This is the softest not-totally-instrumental music I've heard that I would still call funky. I wish I got the more interludey bits: It tickles my brain that Otis opted for so much material of that kind while using his voice as a lead instrument elsewhere.
Hard rock is fun. Wish I had more thoughts about it beyond noticing that the reality of Smoke is better than the meme.
Love this. Putting instrumentals so low-key that they appear as soundtrack next to something like "Jump Sturdy" is obviously weird, but in this case it's New Orleans weird. I expected something more uptempo when I saw the genre and length, but the way it is feels right.
The Pumpkins have largely passed me by over the years. I'm not even that familiar with the hits; It took me two tracks before I hooked onto the tune of Today. And now in quantity the appeal of the music is more obvious: There's a balance of styles, noisy and poppy not by turns but together. I have too much of a bias against the hint of grunge to fully love the record, but as it explodes into Silverfuck I appreciate the musicality. If I can trick myself into hearing the vocal affect as the legacy of hard rock I may be able to fully enjoy the band.
I'm confounded by my experience of Talking Heads after their debut. That was magical; Everything else has been distinctly not. This record picks up quite a bit after Once in a Lifetime (or after I get into the groove). Before then it's a bit too campy and Talking Heads-y for its own good. The turn to a fuller sound is very good for the band, though. Just not the day for me to fall for it. The last two tracks, in particular, make this worth listening to. I could have done with an entire album in that vein.
Emmylou is a deserved legend. However, this record chooses to show off her band primarily. They effectively evoke the country tradition in more or less modern colors: It's a good direction for the genre, if not pack-leading. There's no loss in the move away from covers. The tracklist doesn't blur together, but there aren't any sharp turns. Just occasional journeys into especially beautiful sonic space, working on the soul. That's certainly a cheesy line, as the project comes in a pretty slick package.
Sublime instrumentation is the first thing that jumps out into my ears. Harp! Hand percussion! Funky electric something! The breadth and depth here is too rare in concept albums and basically unheard of in music for film. It's the obvious archetype of blaxploitation-in-sound, but also an opinionated text by Mayfield and something more besides. For one thing, each song expands beyond its length, providing a feast of material in a relatively concise album.
It's hard, regardless of how closely I listen, to separate my biases and snap impressions of grunge from this album, clocking in at a healthy length. It is unique in that its position in pop music history is clear. There are new elements not present in the preceding rock wave, and the inherited ones have the complexity dialed down and the loudness up. The guitars are in the driver's seat; I'm tempted to treat that as a strength. It is a bit repetitive, though, and from hair metal Pearl Jam also takes the notion that slowing things down is a good idea. The band seems unfairly singled out for malignment. They drift to the pop edge of their lane, but make something perfectly listenable and of some historical interest.
There's a bit of interesting musical material and I like the instrumentation, but the orchestration is uneven and the overall impression is of Scott Walker-lite. Once that image fixed itself in my mind, it was hard to appreciate the concept or attempt at fourth-wall-breaking.
Cobain and the band prove that the strength of their songs are deep in the songs, not dependent on the particulars of recording. The opener has a good amount of harmonic weirdness that comes through extra-clear as presented. But to balance the weirdness, this is one of the more intimate live performances I've heard captured. There's evident theater, but it's the kind between friends and not the above-you variety more common to rock bands. MTV in the title puts a slightly uncanny spin on sincerity, but doesn't hurt the music.
This is how you use drum machines properly. Never dull, doesn't drag, chilled and fun through. The model of many an imitation, but it still stands. Slightly more adventurous instrumentals may have suited the lyrical edge, but not the mood.
The drumming is the most consistent element, and holds the album together as well as it can through the slog of a middle section. The pace of the rhythm section fits the race through a collage of rock styles extremely well, but somehow gets stuck in the mud for fifteen minutes. A more focused effort would be insanely entertaining, even recorded.
The B side is unfortunately sameier than the A. Ray Charles's voice is consistent and compelling, but there was little more on the bones in the first half. The transition to slower tunes is very nice, but the rest of them blur together a bit. This is a nice sampler record, especially if you like the genre. No jazz edge, sadly.
How blue can you get? Pretty blue, with the song that asks that question. That's a magical recording: Almost fifty-seven years old, it captures the crash of the band with King's voice somehow - magically - leading. The followup number is rock of the old and fine school. Then we get some artifacts, acknowledgement of the physical limitations of the live album. This is a slightly sly take on music, with its emotional directness measured. That clarifies the blues as a transparent form, one that the musicians all have their chance to play in. I want to be at the show more than I want to hear the album again.
I'm hard-pressed to think of this as anything other than my third-favorite Arcade Fire release. Realistically, it's probably their second-best. From both subjective and objective stances, it's an absolute icon of heart-on-sleeve indie. The quality jump from the EP is massive, and the rest of the oeuvre is built of many of the same ingredients. I find devastation, which as far as I can tell is the point, mostly at the beginning and end.
This list is really testing my assumed affection for Britpop. There's an obvious youthful energy on this record, expressed most positively on the first side. But while the band produces some nice pop-punk, it's an uncompelling pop fusion. The second half gets different and not in a good way. Instead, I'm left confused why this is on the list. Definite listen-once-as-it-comes-out material.
I think we are lucky indeed to have this concert on a record. The songs don't matter so much; Instead, the runtime captures the three-part interplay of Brown, his band, and his audience. Each strand is unique, each party pushes and pulls and contributes to some thing. That thing existed in space in 1962 and was immortalized in crackly tape. I haven't listened to the remaster. It might make me think better of the album, or worse. But the artifact is important to me, and the crackles don't make it hard to listen to.
Boy, this screams California. From the opening seconds and on and on. At first, it seems like that will be the album's downfall. It's slightly lush guitar music, adopting inland tropes to be captured in LA and piped slickly to ears. My love for guitar music is ambivalent, and I continue to distrust the instrument. But use a slide or coat those vibrations in psychadelic fuzz and you've hit me right in two of my big musical weak points. The ingredients are all there, but I'll need to listen more before I can fall in love. The songs all get room to breathe, but they open up somewhat inconsistently. When they succeed - the title track is an example - they are magnificently beautiful.
World Clique grew on me in a shocking way - shocking because it didn't break 90's-dance-album form. Instead, it revealed itself as a better and better project over the runtime. My only theoretical explanation is how well sound-designed the tunes are. The samples move through space in a way that most produced pop does not. This is extra-impressive since the songs are house-minimal. And beyond the theoretical I can only say that I bounced more and more as I listened.
This project has been my introduction to Eno, and I'm starting to understand the impact he had on music. This feels like a transitional album, and I do prefer the more traditional songs which preceded it. But there's also absolutely sonic magic, portals to other worlds heard. Those portals are one-per-song most of the time, but occasionally cross track boundaries.
Contemporary classical, played on the studio. More interesting historically than aesthetically. Other Eno and other ambient are both better. Neat movements though.
The first half grows in short bursts toward the familiar "There She Goes". Not quite unremarkable pop, but definitely past-worshipping for '90. On the other hand, a band that can move lithely through varied emotional terrain. The second half stretches a bit more, in the way debut albums tend to do - partially successful. But that eight-minute closer is, more than the hit, what makes this a curious album in retrospect. I suppose that's the way it goes: Sometimes you end on that note and then just fade.
Not quite my subgenre, but I think this is a nearly-pristine hour of pop rap. The Kanye tracks have a special sparkle, but there is a ton of variety and very few low points. Eminem shows up and fits in well, though Renegade's subject matter rings hollow next to the lyrics and production of Takeover.
Essential listening but by a narrower margin than I expected. The appeal of the album is in the pure volume of its flow, the overwhelming cascade of samples in a configuration which changes just ahead of your ear. But sound design seems largely left behind, and there's quite a bit of loud from the front and not much detail work other than the arrangement.
Aladdin as twin to Ziggy: It's so clear now but I missed it until today. I hear something like Blackstar, too, but that might come down to familiarity. The alien is a bit sadder here, and the songs are more for him. A piano can't deliver as much despair as woodwinds can, but the texture is still new and affecting. The style spirals out a bit at the end, into what might be the mad space of hedonism.
The Beach Boys have a unique sound in or out of surf rock. On the front half of Today!, the production and vocal harmonies dominate. On the back, it's about more interesting song structures. The group doesn't quite hit their stride on this one - or doesn't integrate the two halves - but it's still great pop listening.
Straightforward, short, but oh so tight. The closer clinches it, stretching out without losing the edge that has been honed by the other five tracks.
I realized early that this album contains exactly the kind of anthemic rock that appeals to me. While I have some reservations about some of the instrumentation, the raw appeal can't be denied, and neither can the idiosyncrasy and blend of ideas. I may regret thinking I like TV On The Radio after just one album, but the entire project has the magnetism that certain singles do for me.
Hardly unpleasant, but incidental. Not certain when it needed to be listened to, sure it doesn't belong on the list. It's the one piece of Smooth Operator that's iconic, not even the whole song.
A hardcore skeleton with all kinds of neat things hanging from the bones. I was unsure about everything but the energy in the first half; The second side brings that and a bunch of other musicianship as well.
Mystery music, and dance music. Somehow accomplishes the double feat of extending time and making you want to get up and move. On that first point: Sometimes succeeding in that way is more interesting than affecting. Here, the soundscape switches up to keep things far from boring. And the gesture at embodiment doesn't hurt, either. The vocals will have to grow.
Yes, here, move past sufferability into the good zone. This reminds me why I like prog, this is fun, this is playing with the medium without sticking one's head where it doesn't belong, this is a sound capable of sincerity even after being adopted as a meme.
For a stretch - the first three songs, say - I felt that this was pleasant jazz-pop, but nothing to write home about. Sure, there are gestures at character, but the effect is that of one color of paint. But the rest of Eli convinced me that the paint was higher quality and the technique more subtle than I thought. The richness comes out as the songs are layered, and my perspective on the beginning of the record is very different now that I have heard the end.
Brassy, schmaltzy, not a lot of variety. Certainly didn't make me want to get up and dance. I did feel some degree of energy, which kept me marginally better than bored. Perhaps I'm just in a bad mood.
I liked the album when it came out, and I like it now. Downtempo, extremely chill, still nicely modern-sounding. I could have done without the skits. They offer structure to the record which it probably needs but clash with the rest of the content.
A good album with a few essential listens. Green Day is good at what they do, but here they do it with less of the edge that made Dookie great.
A really interesting collection of songs, bridging the older, softer, slower folk forms and rock. The ending in particular gives it that "collection of songs" tinge, though, dropping us off in the middle of a thought. The musical choices are prescient but not quite inspired.
This record is essential jazz listening and enjoyable at the very least for its name. Funky at both ends, a bit thinner in the middle, but that's hard bop for you. Hard to think of a better introduction to jazz combo featuring organ.
This is a convincing example of a genre tradition, but lacks the sound design I've mentioned about certain other albums. It's just too long but not quite ambitions, beat-centered but without fascinating drums.
Quite a bit of a letdown, unfortunately. The first few tracks had me bobbing along to a sound that was familiar but just novel enough. Then the music found its level: I would use "AOR". Finally, the length killed my remaining goodwill. Wild Wood is a good sounding album, but it's wrapped in too much packing material.
High Funk, and nearly impeccable pop music, too. Plenty of songs are songs first before launching into extended, ecstatic, instrumental flourishes. All while staying trim.
A great but gentle slab of sound. It has a shape, isn't exactly ambient, even in the house way. But it works well as a soundtrack for life, biorhythmic.
I thought I heard some pretty strange poetry. Of its time and silly in many, many moments, but still compelling. I liked my time with this album, especially the high of "Stand Up". And in the balance, it's "poet" not "poetry", and the poet is necessarily a product of his time.
There are some transcendent moments, the exemplar being the lead-in to Here Comes the Sun. There's brilliant production, which is the part of the Beatles I appreciate most at the moment. (It's emphasized by the remaster, as well.) I respect the move toward guitar-focused pop. Abbey Road is a touch too slick, with less sticky weird parts than Revolver or Sgt. Pepper's. I don't love the near-vignettes on side B, but there the slickness is a strength.
The duo have undeniable pop chops, but this record is far from Bridge's heights. The songs are polished and precious stones, but so is the package they come in: Hits do not a transcendent work make.
The recording is essential and the playing tight, but the total is a little too cool for its own good. The *bops and the ECM set have affects that this style lacks, though Time Out is a kind of necessary link.
I enjoyed this ska entry in the list. That pains me to say, because the chops and energy on many of the songs were excellent. Fishbone is a band I already feel like I want to like. But as an LP, this one is all over the place.
After exploring many country touchstone sounds, often with levity, the music understates itself to make lang's voice the star of the show. The subject matter is utterly consistent; The music has the characters of country and pop but isn't quite either. It seems delicious to slow dance to.
Didn't know much about Bragg, but I thought I fancied Wilco and Guthrie! And to be fair, this album is fully listenable and has quite a few tunes. But it's far too indistinct and patchy to merit inclusion on the list. A pick for existing Guthrie fans, I should say.
One's reaction to the piano playing is the key determinant when it comes to Brilliant Corners. The opening number is less than convincing, but establishes the meandering style and the basic form used. That form is best-worked-out during the second, longer cut. Monk provides off-kilter tunes which the band wanders through, in several configurations. It's not obviously dense music, but the ingredients are all there. The rhythm section ties the work together for me, with the double bass standing out as melody.
Has a definite Central Valley sound to it, one I wish I became familiar with early in life. That insight is one I developed when listening to Grandaddy for the first time. Things get markedly more interesting toward the back of the record; Until then there's little that really grabs me.
I knew this one mostly by the cover, so was happy to hear several songs I already knew. That said, they've already largely faded from my mind. Lots of love for the genre, but this album feels like but a necessary step in its history.
As a defender of Everything Now: This is the good version of Everything Now. A little quieter, with the ambient tag at the end. I see the reason for Soundsystem's reception.
The strongest cut is the title track; The rest is certainly British folk. Far from Fairport in my mind.
Enjoyable, though some of the instrumentation is a bit cutesy and most songs end before they really start developing. Economical, though, and atmospheric.
Even in remaster, the timbre of the instruments is often a bit harsh. Nonetheless, I dig the brass and its contrast with the vocal affect. It's not what I expected, but I think the combination takes the band a long way. The jazzier tunes and instrumental sections are also points in favor.
This album was on my list for a long time, and I'm happy to finally check it off. The music is a bit too subtle for first impressions to be accurate, but it stands up well against similar, later currents.
Early signs of the Beatles are within, but essentially in the form of vocal harmonies. There are a couple of tunes I recognize. Decent enough pop listening, but mostly an introduction to the rest of the band's discography.
The degree of my positive reaction surprises me. Elvis's debut lacks some of the shine of later albums, but it's a nicely-sequenced and diverse piece of work. Simply rock-solid, and not a dull moment. The balance of factors could be changed, I suppose, but some of the appeal is in the corners.
Meat and potatoes gangsta rap. Solid production choices throughout; Body Count stands out but very much as an example of its time. Ice-T's lyricism is consistent, hits all the beats, and is slightly repetitive. The storytelling on Midnight is especially good. The skits fit. The 72 minutes feel earned.
The edgy-for-edgy's-sake shtick is something I could take or leave, but there's a moment that makes this album for me. It happens during the refrain of No More Mr. Nice Guy, a flourish on "obscene". That gives the game away, Mr. Cooper, but I appreciate it. I learned after finishing the song that it was used in Ash vs Evil Dead, which is entirely unsurprising. And the rest of the music is technically great, easy to listen to, easy glammy fun.
Here you will find music to melt your brain, or at least the space between it and your eardrums. MBV doesn't groove like certain shoegaze groups, but there are depths to their sound that emerge over time. This listen, I got a lot of the higher lines as types of distorted string sections: Strong stuff, and not at all what I remembered. There's quite a bit of variety in tracks, though it's all of a kind of piece.
I'm not always on board with the mood Manu channels, but the craft of that channeling is immaculate as far as I'm concerned. The mixing of vocals into the rest of the sounds is especially perfect. The dash between "French" and "Spanish" on Chao's Wikipedia is audible. Feels good to really love an album on the site again. No single track leaped out at me, which gives me more confidence in the score.
Very very solid. Arise goes straight ahead from beginning to end, with a few interesting twists and turns. The album is a bit flat to the stylistically uninitiated, but I would gladly pick it from a thrash lineup.
A bit all-over-the-place, this seems like a choice for those who are already committed to their Neil Young fandom. Most of the songs are fine, but the listening experience is not that of an album.
A triumphant album, simple listening thanks to its ubiquity, extremely tight in the playing. Puts one in the mood for clean whiskey.
This was a strange piece of music, surprisingly. There are many elements which I tend to be a fan of, but under a filter that rather detracted from the listening. That said, the songs grew on me the more of the record I heard.
I like this and the other Miriam music I've heard, but the poppier choices on her self-titled make for more misses than hits. The second half of the album is stronger and Makeba's voice on those songs makes the earlier cuts seem better.
There are more songs than tracks on this thing; That was clear in just a few minutes and is one of many strengths. Tribe's debut influenced much, and it's impossible to listen without that filter on. The beats, while varied, fade into the background while the runtime stretches. But the vast majority of tracks are strong, the record flows, and the mood set is unique and entirely pleasant.
A bizarre album: Gaye is chewing the scenery, it seems, but utterly sincere. The lyrics are obviously painful, while the instrumentals swirl and sparkle, glittering as their genre expects them to. It's long, but I had no problems sticking with it; Of its time, but I sensed no datedness.
I hear the Kraftwerk influences and appreciate the real percussion and strings, tasteful additions. Cars didn't quite wow, but was an easy favorite.
The experience of this, the nearly-final Leonard Cohen project, suggests that my weakness for old-man-death-albums is fixed. This is absolutely going on my list to listen again, though the second track drags an already slow album and the penultimate song's fade is early and redundant. Not much thematic variety, but it doesn't need that: Cohen's inflections and the subtle changes in instrumentation are enough.
I'm fond indeed of this album, which I think makes me a little generous in my assessment. It sounds much less experimental after hearing other music from this list, but is still unique enough to come off as above average to me. But it's music of a certain time and place in its tradition.
Almost technically perfect and one of the guiltiest pleasures so far. I try not to feel that way about music, so maybe it's subconscious recognition of some set of flaws. The sequencing leaves some gaps, but in sum I'm enchanted. Beautiful cover, too.
The first and third songs drag a little bit, but the second sends us off to the races and there's lots else to like. I was familiar with more than I knew. The guitar work is great, and while the style is whelming, the compositions are worked to interesting lengths in each case.
I was expecting swing cheese, but it thankfully never arrived. The music carries itself without cheap tricks, and the elements that are cliched now are there but in pleasant variety. The first track impressed me with sounds that I didn't expect to hear from acoustic instruments (the brass in particular). The rest of the record was more standard big-band fare.
Can't Stand to Love You was the highlight for me (and all too short), with the instruments swooping in and out of the mix with the melodic line. The rest of the tunes were nicely drawn out but less memorable as tunes.
Exhaustively polished dance music, especially for a record that came out pre-1990. There are hints of electronic music to come everywhere, and the sound design still blows a lot of modern projects out of the water.
Predator is an album built on rock-solid foundations of West-coast gangsta rap and a lyrical concept. The production is more varied than any other element, which leaves me wanting more. The funky beats of Dirty Mack were a highlight, while the skeletal drums of other songs drew my ear to lyrics which were consistently a little blunt.
The force behind Lemmy's voice on nearly every cut is nuts: It sounds like he's absolutely forcing the air out, yet the result is anything but weakened. The opening of the record was energetic but quite by-the-numbers; Around Fast and Loose the music became more urgent. Motörhead are great at what they do.
So many hits on this one, yet Aretha manages to make each and every one sound new. That stunned me; This certainly deserves its place on the list. The thing that feels a little lacking is nuance in song form or vocal approach. But as an album playing to Franklin's strengths, it works very well.
The slower cuts from the four-piece were hit or miss; More the former, but lacking a cohesive application of sounds and effects. The faster songs were carried by the energy, and I found their punches far more jarring than expected. Some of that is unfamiliarity, I'm sure, but I'm absolutely ready to go through Skunk Anansie's discography in full and on a proper stereo system.
This isn't quite tailor-made for me, but it's in an intimate class of albums produced with absolute mastery of the sampling and composition skillsets. The atmosphere Portishead conjures is pervasive, but there are clear bits and pieces to love. Give it two tracks: That's what it took for me, and Mysterons had me considering that the hype was entirely misplaced.
It's notable that a ninety-minute album can feel so purposely incomplete. The band is technically brilliant, but seem to be combining these songs toward an entirely different end than Sgt. Pepper's. The lynchpin of my reading is While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and my affection for that song is due in no small part to nostalgia. The first disc is killer; With the second, it seems a step down from the band's output. Still great to my ears, though this album seems extremely vulnerable to one's overall opinion of the Beatles.
Stevie Wonder neophyte here, so my impressions are fleeting at best. "Ineffable" seems like the wrong word to describe these songs, but there's far too much going on to call it minimal. Subtle, perhaps: Many catchy tunes, none that I think could be covered or replicated well. I have at least two legible observations. The synths sound great, and the final three tracks are flawless.
Not quite for me, but Frank's influence on future R&B is impossible to ignore. Things really pick up halfway through the record, but the landing remains unstuck. It doesn't have the dynamism of certain similar music, and drags too much to be a mood project for me. A few excellent songs, however, and the blend of influences is pretty seamless. The production holds up in full, as well.
Bare bones Waylon, and it's strong. There are some gestures to what sounds like church music with the organ, some rather silly but pleasantly country soundscapes. Mostly it's the guitar and voice, waiting to seep in.
It's a Beck album, and as such contains a wide sonic palette. In Odelay's case, there seem to be two, both worth listening two, but not quite knitted together. I found the punk/hip-hop/hint of classical bits to be quite compelling. The indie-country minutes were more expected and perfunctory.
As alluded to earlier in this project, Primal Scream's music blew my mind when I first heard it, and I started with some of their worse output. The Mondays put me in a similar state of mind, but I haven't found their mind-blowing record yet. This one has just enough variety in it to pique my interest, especially with the strings on the second tracks. Strings are a soft soft spot after all. Other than that, beats are uniformly good if not uniformly distributed, and the song structures rote.
The band sits precisely the correct distance and on the right side of "cool". The guitar most of all; The sax stays understated but not drowsy; The drumming is the hot hot source of life. It's an easy-to-listen-to album from beginning to end, but not because the same song or line gets played. One to make one sit up and realize why the Latin input to jazz is so important and enduring.
Every so often, some album-title/track-title wordplay hits the spot. Fitting that it's Dylan doing the language game here. Music's pretty killer, too. The journey home from full band to acoustic tunes is seamless, highlighting strengths. I do find the second half's songs to be stronger as songs. It's Alright, Ma is a wonderful piece of work.
Decades of imitators demonstrate that the Clan's East Coast Shaolin lane is a true niche. Nonetheless, a classic and wildly influential record. The group pulls a neat causal trick by launching a whole parcel of careers with the strange artifact that is 36 Chambers. Messier cuts like C.R.E.A.M. are my favorites, but the more focused tracks are good as well. It's a packed project.
(3) I appreciated being slapped in the face with weirdness for the five minutes of the fourth track of this. Don't understand the acclaim, but Don't Stop and what followed it make the Stone Roses' self-titled a worthwhile listen. Those first three tracks are pretty conventional, and so are the general arrangements. Th roughness of the entire presentation is intriguing but not quite right.
Creedence hits at something faster, then settles into their groove. Not a bad album: Middle of the road as this list goes. But the main takeaway is the hits, which are less moving than they could be.
The excesses of both Cooper and high-schooler rock are represented here, elevated by a diverse set of compositions. The performances were very competent and several songs got smiles, if not grins.
Observations that It's Blitz! is frontloaded are absolutely fair, but even listening for that, the album keeps my attention. This band can conjure a mood like no other, and it's one that Karen fits into seamlessly while remaining absolutely sincere and absolutely unique.
There's nothing bad on this record, but it reads as totally standard English bluesy rock. Some of the guitar work is nice. Perhaps the Yardbirds were a prerequisite for bands who move me more, but that fact is not obvious in the listening.
I've been primed for Underworld by a few soundtracks, and Second Toughest delivered. I'm not quite sure what to think of it: It's not quite perfect, but every track makes me itch to get inside it, tricky as that is. I had the same experience with Autechre, who I now hold in high regard but know little about. Does that say more about me than the band and the record? Likely, but the record is a great techno project, eight sonic crystals that could easily keep going and going and going (but would that ever overkill the runtime).
A worthy effort by the Dan, and one I'm assured opens up into realms of audiophile delight under a close listen. But however well-arranged it is, the jazz influence is of a pretty lifeless variety. At least in the beginning: Thankfully, the sound loosens up as the record progresses. But the second half is not enough to convince me that Aja deserves acclaim within the band's discography.
I heard hair metal in this outing, and, unlikely as that is to make me friends, it made me like Back in Black. The tunes are straightforward, but there are the bells in the opener, a few novel arrangements, and some skilled guitar work. I'd happily listen to the hits again, as well as the deeper cuts.
Sheer Heart Attack is one of the rare albums on this list that gets better, as I've said, retroactively. And that's without particularly obvious sonic contrast: This record is pure Queen from opening to closing chord and one's expectations have to be tuned to that fact. The A side is clearly a transitional period for the band. There are fantastic elements, but the songs are pretty tight. Side B is where Queen starts to throw a bunch of arrangement styles at the wall. It's a technique I adore on A Night at the Opera, and it elevates this record.
The Dead make folded music, which I happen to like, and it's easy to listen to in its folk clothes. If American Beauty stuck to the high points of the opener and Till the Morning Comes, occasionally dipping into territory like the closing track, it would be a great album. As it slowed down, though, I found myself merely liking it. The musicians are playing with something as the tunes unravel, but not with something as complicated or rewarding as one would hope.
New wave albums tend to coast through my ears, but the fakeness of the instruments in Karma Chameleon balanced out my familiarity with the single. There are a few highs elsewhere, but they are packed at the end and the whole thing is just a touch too fun for its own good. Not a bad listen, but bad for the list.
My brain may be addled, because I find it impossible not to hear Dune in Warszawa and Blade Runner in Art Decade. And in that light, Low is a slightly disjoint effort by Bowie. The goofy hair weirdness is gone from this music, vocal shrieks replaced by guitars. It's a wonderful choice, as the abstraction and applied effects are only really effective on instruments. I am sure that there is a sample or quote of New Career on Blackstar. The weirdness here is more outsider, more Trout Mask Replica. I love it, and the instrumentals somewhat less. Low's a better album than many 4s on this list.
This band has stayed almost entirely under my radar, which is a shame: They're pretty good. Over the course of Mott, I heard a few touches of interesting instrumentation and a lot of more-or-less expected arrangements. I hope the Hoople pops back up in the future; I likely won't revisit them for a while: Nothing here grabbed me tightly.
Straightforward rock music, with enough rise and fall in the tracklist to keep things interesting. Comes to a more or less skillful landing. My concern with the lyrics was not even secondary this time around. The opener is engaging enough to draw one in, though, and there was nothing that made me want to exit the ride. Worth the time.
S&M is never boring, but it does blur at times and plod at others. And that's a shame, because I root for symphonic metal whenever it crosses my radar. Here, the only symphonic effect is that of a middling film score, and no visuals to accompany it for its two hours. The band does drive on a few tracks - One and Battery stuck out. Metallica's lyrics are certainly not the highlight, but they're at their best when Hetfield's vocals are present in the texture. I also learned from his stage banter that I share some speaking tics. This sounds like it would have been a fun live concert, but a great live recording it is not.
Rhythm sections are a natural way to taxonomize post-punk band, and the ministrations of this one are precise. The growth on the substrate is a little too jangle pop, but the lyrical blend, dark and bare, is effective. This is an album in a tradition I love: British four-piece with Win-Butler-voice. But I'm spoiled by modern forms. The crystal guitar in All That Jazz and spiraling weirdness of Happy Death were high points, mysteriously left for last.
Before the voice arrived, I knew I would like this album. I'm not sure what the non-verbal tell was; In the lyrics the attraction is clear. Religion, music, love, home, death: Holy things which we all have mysterious lonely access to. Either that or the music sounds like the country music of my folks from when I was young. As always, songs named after times, separated into parts and spread across a tracklist are welcome. As is deceptive simplicity. I haven't figured out precisely how deceptive this record is.
Jethro Tull are in full possession of their powers here, contrasts made sharper by Wilson's remastering work. Flute against distortion, folk song against the cynical humanism. Even the cover captures the muddiness of the temptation to misanthropy. I'm partial to the band's weirder output, but here they demonstrate the potential of short-but-full songs. Radio-ready, somehow: The best intro album to Jethro Tull.
The so-far Goldfrapp albums are distinct, but about as nice. This one is a stylistic departure from the dance-oriented sound I prefer, but maintains strong - especially vocal - elements. Seventh Tree sounds like a cul-de-sac record, an entry in a genre which could have grown but faded away. There are brighter examples of that light, some of which I discovered through the list. But this duo's sound will always find its way home.
Electric Ladyland doesn't reach the heights the band is capable of, but is a steady slow build which uses the double album format well. It had me in a firm hold by the halfway point and I'm sure would fascinate earlier for those so inclined.
Perfect soul album, simple as. Gaye is a master of fitting in just the right number of sounds, and each one seems distinctive on top of it. The runtime makes for an easy fit, but every minute is rich. And there's a slight bend toward tragedy.
Motherless Children made me want to like this more, and even now I'm not sure that my impression is free of the whiplash I felt. The first side is thin on content despite the great opener: It feels like four songs instead of five. And the Marley cover follows flat because of something so stupid in its simplicity: You can't ape a reggae beat with no beating instruments to speak of. Steady Rollin' Man is a bright spot near the end, but the record ends with a whimper. Clapton's sound is a little unique, maybe. But this is a very middling record, and shows off his chops while proving they can be abused in the collecting.
Talk of "angular" guitars is just noise, like the sound of the instruments themselves. Necessary to locate the songs, but what Gang of Four really has is counterpoint between the words and the rhythm section. It's particularly evident in the opening cut; After that, the band explores lots and lots and lots of sonic territory. I stress words because the lyrics, while coherent, are by far less important semantically than sonically. Sadly, I don't have the familiarity with Gang of Four to hear this well; But I do see why they echo so loud and, true to form, dig this in a major way.
The eleven-minute jam on Playing With Fire is pretty good. It would work well has a double-header with Viet Cong's Death, I think. But the rest of the tracks make the Spacemen feel like a markedly inferior band. (I let myself think I might like the closer better after hearing Suicide, but no: Just more of the same.) The instruments sound tinny, the voices squeezed. One track, in all its runtime-packing glory, saves this narrowly from being completely forgettable.
I have a soft spot for Iggy, but this project clearly deserves its line in history. A little bit of freakiness is in evidence, though it's mostly stuffed in pop-song forms. If there's any lack, it's that the tracklist avoids a real rise or fall. But there's development, there's the hit, no filler, and plenty of rock forward.
The last third piqued my interest in a major way. Everything else is weird in a good way, but also a bag of vignettes. Waits's voice is compelling, but many of the song
There's not much folky jazzy goodness that's not here. An excellent road album. Jaco does his thing and at times shines out. The cores of the songs are dead simple classic, though: Voice, guitar, the language of the West.
It's not the instrumentation that's lacking; Not exactly. The compositions just move slowly, which is hardly a bad thing. Lots of interesting moments, easy easy easy to listen to. But the texture is thinner than my ear thinks it should be. Was not motivated to hear the bonus tracks after hunting down a recording.
Nice and quite twee. It sounds a bit spare with mostly acoustic guitar and voice. Strings get my ears to perk up, and this could be a grower. But I'm not immediately inspired to return.
I had to actively ignore Rudy Van Gelder's name to get on board with this one. The recording is the weakest part, at least in terms of pleasantness. There's plenty of information preserved, and the beat information in particular is of such density that I can't help but love it. I've only been affected by rhythms in this way by EDM records in the past, but this is all humans all the time. I took and left the often harsh tone elements, but there's enough variety on here to make me question the wisdom of that move.
The project has its high moments and is a fine background record. But it's also far too long and uneven in quality, interest, and genre.
The back half contains the noisy melodies that make me love shoegaze, but the songs themselves, while varied, come across as particularly short and half-baked.
I was quite impressed with this record, and the combination of the good parts of Britpop with post-punk sounds and a diverse array of sonic effects. It's not obviously perfect, but it does play precisely to my biases and I want to hear the rest of the band's output, stat.
I was confused by some of the negative reviews on this page, and then I passed track four and it became clear that the good ideas were being stretched mighty thin. A lot of the runtime of this record was rough, and I removed the bonus tracks from the queue pretty early. But I found myself liking a few of the choices - organ! - and soft toward even the goofier bits. But overall: Youch.
I remembered being less warm on Rundgren, but looking back it seems I was about as warm to Something/Anything? If anything, it took me a while to warm to that album; This one, while sprawling, has my favorite bits in the first half. I love the gonzo nature of it, and while it tries a tiny bit too hard it's also plain fun.
GREY Area's brevity appears to be considered a strength in most reviewers. I'm ambivalent on the length: My copy of Stillness In Wonderland came as a double LP and I maintain it's an excellent record, with Simz's voice the standout factor. The followup is trimmer, slicker, and more varied in production: A wonderful vibes record, and meaty at that. But I still don't understand the superlatives. Granted, I listened to it for the first time in pretty bad conditions and found it boring. And it certainly isn't that.
I still have a ways to go before I'm totally on-board with Berman's voice. That said: I got on board with the longer instrumental sections in the second half, lyrics worth reading, love songs, the passage of time.
I love Zappa's imagination, but I'm not quite sold on the quality of the recording, the inconsistent use of the electric violins, or the wide-ranging song lengths.
I started out really enjoying Nothing's Shocking, but it eventually loses a lot of momentum. Not all of it, certainly, and the flatness of the recording doesn't help, but two or three of the deeper cuts are pretty substanceless. That's a shame: There's a germ of a really fun sound, bass-led but lighter than the typical alt-metal fare.
I knew going into this record that I would enjoy it, but a closer listen didn't disappoint. It depends on looped samples to a fault, but the seams, especially those in the vocal lines, end up as tasty imperfections. The sides are reasonably distinct: A has the hits and the self-reference, B a couple deeper cuts and a melodic surprise at the end, C brings the drums over melody as such, and D takes a beautiful left turn. One has to be prepared for repetition in form, but it rides on strength of execution.
A notably critter-centric album. Critters include the human kind and reinforce the humanity of the music. Ups, downs, echoes make me happy I listened.
The last song is aggressively bad. As for the rest, cause and effect are confused where I took four days to finish the album. I understood the sound as misanthropic wedding music, but, while I appreciated the organ, the string arrangements were lacking and the presentation thin. This list seems to be teaching me that Nick Cave is not for me.
Teenage Head winds pleasantly towards the strange as it proceeds, and I'm glad the list introduced me to the band. Perhaps I should sharpen my regard given the release date, but I'm not sure if I'll revisit this music over similar expressions.
I don't think I wanted to jump off that ride, but it was going so fast that in the end that matters not at all. Great to have a plain fun album again. Strong tunes, interesting vocal performance, great medley choices and a joke to top it off (until I get through the bonus tracks tomorrow).
This debut strikes me as the introduction to another tailor-made band. The organ is incredibly flattered by the mix, and the sleaze is the perfect level of grime except, perhaps, on Peaches.
I had a disjoint (but not disjointed experience) listening to All Directions. The pieces on it feel more like scenes than songs, peopled with a family familiar and proficient with their music. Beginnings, endings, in-the-midsts-of. That's anything but conventional, but I couldn't get into the music-for-itself, especially the strings. That makes this another rare album which I see clearly as part of the canon but not for me.
I found myself missing the guitar riffs a bit after the second track. Nevertheless, the MCs effortlessly demonstrate the reasons for their influence. The progression from drum machine beats, to bragging, tunes, props to the DJ: It's all innovative, all entertaining.
The first fifteen minutes of 1977 had me thinking Ash were nought but a Nirvana rip-off. I'm still not certain: Don't exactly love the record. But that assessment was unfair, the sequencing is exceptionally smooth, and the stolen melodic techniques are the good kind. It's a bit long and the musical range is made to make sense but not to mean. Strongish but inessential.
All in all a less self-serious effort, which suits the sound. The downtempo cuts aren't for me, but the songs feel essential and the musicians all have their chops.
I'm shocked again by the newness of Stevie Wonder. Some of it's thanks to my naïveté, but plenty is due to the enduring influence and complexity of Innervisions. That he was able to put out another great album just a year later is amazing, but this collection contains the better songs by far. What a journey I went on, with the music often mismatched emotionally but always excellent.
Like many a pop-rock crossover, The Specials straddle a line that, not being a fence, doesn't really need straddling. Still, there's more good than bad and ska is pretty great. Strangely lacking in energy at many points and that makes the sentiment of Too Much Too Young come off really poorly.
Beautiful chamber pop I've not heard before. Stuff like it, stuff which strikes closer to my core immediately, sure. But nothing which created such a disjoint response to the first track and the rest. Far, far too subtle to evaluate without really sitting with it. Perhaps 2005 was a wild time for this to release.
The synthy bits are absolutely divine, but the boys maintain their penchant for length: Forty-five minutes is a bit long for what's here. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe I'm a tad harsh on The Who generally. So far, this is the album of theirs I'm most likely to revisit. Subliminal effect of the monolith, I'm sure.
The very few pages of Finnegan's Wake I've read come to mind, I'm sure because of the water.
The group, mostly Shock G by the sound of it, produce sex-raps in a low-gonzoness/high-legibility vein. That niche and the unique sound of the thing quickly earned my respect. That said, I continue to not get the p-funk beats which underlie Sex Packets: Just too slow and low-fi. The listening experience was a descent into discomfort.
Post-punk which I listened to more or less happily. I understand the band evolved after their debut, leaving me with rather higher hopes for other albums. This one is a touch too produced up front, starts to stretch its legs and then ends.
As much as I appreciate them, this says ABBA are a singles/compilation band. Arrival has little sonic cohesion outside ABBAness as-such, and the hit density is rather too low. They deserve at least one spot here.
Sounds not quite like anything else. A little saccharine, surprisingly. The vocals are lightly Beach Boys-y, while the rest ventures further.
Elton John is reliably tuneful, even when the songs fall too far in offensive or ridiculous registers. I never appreciated the orchestration of his music, though: Tiny Dancer is too staple to register in that way. So I liked Madman Across the Water - the album and the track - most when it got louder on the stereo and I heard the band playing together, directed with mastery.
Driving to the airport with my mom a few years ago, I heard Oliver Nelson and Eric Dolphy's "Images" for the first time. That tune features melodies in stereo, half a step apart. Even on the highway, the effect was striking. Either/Or created a similar feeling at times with its double-tracking, emotional instead of intellectual. On top, earworm potential galore. There are also plenty of things I like: Moving guitar lines (especially low ones), a hint of dream noise. It's a bit grab baggy, though the last two tracks are exceptionally strong.
Ends on a three-song-or-so run of the most adventurous and light material. The rest is carried along by Mitchell's tone, but far flatter.
Absolutely fantastic. The first few songs sounded more conventional than the core of the record, which ends on a slower note. I hear the movie's awful, but expect it adds some amount of context.
Every second spent on Street Life was a second I wished I was hearing a jazz record, or something funkier, or something else from this list. It's very professional but entirely commercial. I was totally underwhelmed by the opening vocals which proceeded to completely disappear. There's meandering soporific music I like well enough, but the formlessness of several of these tunes was notable though that haze. Caught a few solos, at least.
Almost totally non-experimental, with the narrow exception of some parts of Four Sticks. Still an immaculate straight rock album: Inescapable, cohesive, with many corners which have been partially duplicated since. Even Battle, the low point of the tracklist, manages to make moving upper notes on a guitar sound moving, plaintive, not done-a-million times. The followup fails the latter criterion through no fault of its own.
I was already convinced of the necessity of psych-country, but this album did very little to help. I was already convinced about pedal steel, and that instrument wormed its way in during the second half and recommended the project to me nonetheless. Parson's voice is silky, which lends the unsmoothness of the record a strange quality. Fine pop country is what the Gilded Palace ends up at, I think.
Less incisive than the debut, but knocked me off balance late and enough.
The Lemonheads have melody writing down, but too-quickly give it up to slide on every song into acoustic guitar pop-punk jangle. Without a concept to tie it together, the record slid past without making much of an impact on me.
Bruce delivers a cello-filled treat for my inner boomer. I'm convinced that this is a country album at heart, with the expected post-2001 patriotism. Interesting writing, roots-rock instrumentals that are just too arena-forward.
This is a tough one to rate. It fires on a bunch of cylinders that I'll always love: psychedelic fuzz, organ, sad strings, a mix of genre influences in a cohesive sound. I was left a little wistful, generously, at the end.
The Truckers cover a lot of ground on this one, and until admirably near the end stay sonically engaging. I'm not convinced one way or another on the wisdom of the ground covered; The project is certainly a little sprawling, though.
Screamadelica has grown on me massively since the last time I heard it. The influences feel very dated but the assemblage is inspired and fresh. For whatever reason, I still find myself referring to the pop hooks of the band's 2010 output, but this is objectively superior and I expect to uncover more layers in the future.
Reaching backward with that double bass, Low End Theory is both a perfect 90's rap album and a bridge to an older peer music. Never frantic, Tribe is able to keep their pace up: The number of strong tracks on the second half is notable in itself.
Reid and the crew take a detour just too far into camp for my taste, but Vivid should still live forever. It's a wonderfully accessible album, with performances that balance fun with virtuosity, gracefully-aging social criticism, a collage of genres, and excellent basslines.
The production is sharper if it's possible, lyrical exchanges still impeccable. After the initial stretch of songs, there seem to be fewer ideas. The formula was perfect for the record-as-product; With about as many worthy riffs as the debut, it feels like a step sideways.
Here is an album which shows its age in arrangements but not in recording, and is aged - two syllables - in the voice. There's nothing here I haven't heard before, but Billie's phrasing sublimates the familiar bittersweet. It's a mature album, the completeness of love brought into shattering focus as she sings "you've changed".
Thanks to the samples, most of this album starts out positively evilly. The formula, a well-executed one I'm a bit saddened by, is to arc from there to a more straightforward party mood. That means most tracks feel padded at the back for dancing over album listening, but the spots where synths and drums are joined are second to none. This project continues to remind me that I enjoy techno.
Not for me: Soul music done well against dated instrumentation. The artist seems more interesting historically than on this record.
I'm always down for some North African guitar music, but my knowledge of the tradition is shallow. There's nothing formal to write home about here, but it's clearly a music informed by different histories than the material I already love. The production makes Music In Exile sound very normal, which is hardly a bad thing but removes some of the distinctive heft.
Veedon Fleece was my gateway to Van's catalog, and beside it this seems meh. Easily as good as Elton John, to be fair, and sounds good. The timelessness of the production takes it over the line.
I expected folky rock - with organ and from Canada - to make more of an impression, but only heard The Band as high quality background noise.
Another giant project, another great Public Enemy performance. There really is no one that sounds like this band. The recordings here sound like they're getting played out of a dumpster: I dig it.
I'm not sure entirely what to make of the ambient-inflected R&B of Take Me Apart. The vocals are especially syrupy, but even Arca's production stays in the background, low-key but lush. But Enough was gorgeous enough and the sequencing of long and short tracks engaging enough I don't really care where it sits in a more informed listener's canon. It works as a measuring stick for me.
Ritual is worse in execution than the debut but far more interesting. I expected not to like it as much as I did: When the guitars get quiet, the band can't figure out how to keep a song going or end it properly, all impotent voices and flat drums. But the shoegazey bits were instantly attracting, and the transition between halves was extremely well-executed.
Pop that's just forgettable enough thanks to the underwhelming production (electronics that mostly disappear after a few tracks!?) and way-excessive length. It would make a pretty good EP, but it's always a bad feeling to check and see you're less than halfway through a project.
I've heard Hurt before, of course, but not in context. And apparently I hadn't really listened to the peaking at the end, that twin to the overwhelming depth of the opening track of American IV. The production is simply disorienting, maximizing the complexity of the voice and few instruments. The arrangements get fuller as we proceed, but Cash's voice is dead center. I figure one's response to it mirrors one's opinion of the album. I am a fan of the Man in Black, and enjoyed a rock-solid hour of music.
This is certainly the first time a list album has reminded me of HOLYCHILD. Nothing sparkles or shines, but the entire hour-plus is tinged with a comfy glow, some kind of connective tissue holding the instrumental and stylistic and even vocal digressions. Britpop to a fault and lasts exactly as long as you expect it to given the speed of delivery. However, it's one of the most DJ-set-like guitar band albums I've heard, reminded me of a trashy pop band discovered in university, and is thoroughly unique.
The group handles a surprising variety of musical material for a hip-hop crew of their vintage, but there's a salient historical takeaway on here, too: The genre was dance music first, and here it's plainly that, though information-dense with the additional voices on top.
Another British-man-creates-"world"-music-sampler record. At least here it all sounds good; However, the production choices add almost nothing and sound especially out of place when they're on their own. Middling-to-solid if you like Eno or Byrne.
I'm feeling a little vindictive, but definitely needed my janglemeter calibrated. These aren't bad covers, exactly, just worse than the originals: Slowing everything down is not, in fact, a good idea.
Sinéad's voice comes across as delicate, but stands up to quite a range of (unfortunately often dated) styles. That range is weird enough and the gossamer compelling enough to hear this as a unique record in a now-satured genre. The recording is hardly naturalistic: I often felt alone with her voice in a cavernous room. It was the perfect place to hear it.
The sound of music reminiscent of that I already know is pretty common. What's rare is for that feeling of recognition to be tilted at just the right angle. Horses hit me that way and at exactly the right time: I heard an obviously seminal punk album but also something country, something city, just enough obvious weirdness to draw the ear deep in. Deep into a very rough recording, but I didn't bounce out, and I'm glad of that.
I was expecting worse, but at its best Japan deliver synthish sounds with an unconventional palette. Fall In Love With Me was the peak of said sound, but things dropped off pretty hard after that: Some experiments with form at the end weren't enough to justify the song lengths.
I prefer the filthy-garage blues sounds of the bulk of Fun House to many a genre, but with Pop's totally American affect the music becomes almost pure affect. I think he's best when balanced against a Bowie or the Underworld duo, in the case of that EP I kept reflecting on as I listened this afternoon.
Half the length of London Calling, The Clash's self-titled still manages to pack plenty of material in. It's all more raw, mostly meat-and-potatoes, but there's surplus aplomb and plenty of small-scale genius moments.
Languid compositions replete with Fela's urgency. I think I would have liked more, but am not sure if an album could handle more songs or if said songs would survive compression.
It's a perfect album less some recording quirks picked up on this time around. There's a perfect LP flip and an immaculate run of songs from A6 to B1 and B2. Plays like very few concept albums can with its flow and false starts and stops, packs so much with so little into forty minutes.
Undoubtedly impressive as a one-man band, Foo Fighers shows cracks as it drifts towards grunge-pop sameness. But the opener, the most recognizable track for me, was one of the stronger cuts, and Grohl knows how to play an interesting chord even when he's less than noisy.
I think I'm continuing my own tradition of underrating GKMC. Truth is, I narrowly prefer the relative bloat and musical excess of Kendrick's next album. On this one, he sticks to narrative beats over expanding interludes, presides over a roundly West Coast soundscape, and embeds some of the best single tracks of his career. In defense of my rating, the last twenty minutes loses a bit of steam; Then again, everything before that revealed hitherto-hidden depths on this listen.
Adele comes through on the singles and cover, but is let down by the production too many other times. 21 is an unfortunately flat album, and it can't seem to decide what it wants to do musically. That's not a recipe for success when every arrangement relies on the lead vocals: They're the only thing holding the tracklist together and are not given nearly enough space.
This turned out to be the long-awaited so-bad-it's-good album. It's audacious; That's a word. The sounds of grime are clearly present, and I'm intrigued by the production if nothing else. That's mostly it: Few of the lyrics grabbed me, making me feel the need for a trim. But the minimal beats require the kind of exposition we get. The two halves never come together, and the effect is jarring and less than pleasant. To enjoy this I need it to be shorter or I need to listen to it a dozen more times. That latter shot is long.
Dad pop, though I didn't recognize it as such when Dad showed it - at least Bloody Well Right and Dreamer - to me. In context, even those sillier tracks fit nicely into the Anglo class despair framework: The lyrical material is the right amount of dark, if sometimes a bit brief. Wurlitzer's appearance was appreciated as always, with jazzy touches not much worse than some of the best I've seen. Dynamic range comes through in a big way on the remaster.
Even at his lowest, Eminem is entertaining, and Slim Shady is far from low. It drags a little at the end and rides very close to my red gonzo line, but ends up a weak but obvious four. The focus on characters on this LP keeps it from sliding into the rut of the followup and emphasizes the real disturbing parts. It might be a little less dynamic, but I preferred the production of this effort as well.
Hole gets angrier here, and it suits the music. They operate very much within a lane, and it's not one that particularly inspires me. But besides that caveat it's very good.
This is a hard score to give, but despite my general tolerance for hair-band antics, there's simply too much Springsteen in this "hard" project. There's nothing wrong with a heavy metal album of-the-road, but the higher-concept first and last minutes are not enough to wash away the taste of Kiss slowing down and trying to get sincere.
Musically speaking the initial references to Indian music were the most prominent. But the rest is also solid, or the strings are digging their way into my brain and convincing me of as much. Screaming Trees don't have the harmonic depth of Nirvana, but I much prefer the singing and country influence evident here to the band's contemporaries. The eruption of pleasant surprises like the organesque piano licks helped me be sure in another discovery.
A less than bombastic great album, Coat Of Many Colors just has next to nothing to dislike. Dolly's voice is familiar, of course; I was impressed by the quality of the backing musical material, and the ground covered. In less than half an hour, pretty amazing.
There's lots of ground for more than Gibbons's voice to grow. While it remains a unique project, Third lacks the placiness of Portishead's earlier efforts.
Marty's vocals ride a little close to Sinatra-in-a-bad-way at times, but the instrumentals are impressively clean and Gunfighter Ballads is iconic despite the memetics.
Exile obviously has more space to grow on me than the other mediocre Stones albums: My baseline respect for it is based largely on the chops and variety on display. The latter prevents the album from feeling like a slog, but the high points fail to move me, and there's too much pastiche (my only explicit objection, leaving Jagger's vocals and lyrics to future appraisal).
Dylan winds in and out of folk, a choice which elevates this work above the shorter and more straightforward layouts of the previous two albums. Less straightforward comes with a huge caveat: The lyrics, of course. On Blonde On Blonde there is still plenty of ambiguity, but the songs often extend their roots into familiar ground. The result is a set of songs romantic, wistful, at times bacchanalian, and with a killer set of closers. I'm still a bit cool on Dylan, I think because of his voice, but this is a prima facie masterpiece of his style.
Incredibly slick. So slick it can't simply be ignored. The non-hits are about as good, all things considered.
I've listened to OMD before but never a full album. This one is marked for future late-night listening and compares favorably to the other synth pop on the list (if it's less dynamic). The genre-staple parts are staple, but there is also a surprising amount of ambient-tinged noise.
I am certain that the titular fear is tongue-in-cheek, but one could easily read it in the monotone of the opening songs. Intention is evasive like that, and divining Byrne's feelings about melody seems annoying and useless. Talking Heads wake up late in the tracklist with a fabulous run of songs. Drugs proves that there's still range there, and suggests that I should revisit the music I initially found boring.
Smoother than All Mod Cons, not as tailored to these ears.
This is the most U2 I've heard at a time, and I quite enjoyed the meal. The quieter ballads were totally average, but the rest of the tracklist had me eager to return. From a distinctly Berlin sound, the blueprint for the indie rock which defined my earliest music taste. I hear this album's echo in Gang of Youths now, with no reduction in my esteem of either.
My earlier conception of Sonic Youth remains accurate: Worth listening to, stronger with Kim at the front, noisy, accessible. While the female vocals are more spaced out here, the band feels generally more present. The songs seem to get lazy and stretch out, and it suits Sonic Youth's sound. Not quite the rock blueprint I was promised, but it's got a nice suite.
Kanye's remarkably consistent: Dropout was already overstuffed but has the magic. This time through I continued to miss the factor that sets the bear albums apart for so many, but find it hard to dislike a Kanye project.
What the Fugees are putting out isn't quite what I gravitate to: For example, I remember listening to Lauryn Hill's solo album and bouncing off the reported greatness somewhat. For a few tracks, I was worried the same thing happened here, but it sounds so current, with such spacious and interesting beats, that I can't help but be sucked in. On top of the contemporary sound, there's the insane influence this album has had. On plenty that I don't love, sure, but the source is on another level.
A dense forty minutes of post-punk will always be welcome. This has touches of synth brightness at the moment that I felt were rather weak, but the album as a whole was certainly a grower. The nihilism of certain cuts was sadly fitting for the day: That's probably informing my opinion somewhat, but I can tell a revisit won't be unhappy.
Kenya came across a bit too soundtrack-y, though the rhythms were neat and the playing high-quality. Seems like many of the players never really opened up, at least not in any way I could pick up.
Tons of fun, of course, but more musically interesting than I knew and just long enough not to grate.
Radiohead can turn out bangers: There are four or maybe half a dozen exquisite moments on Kid A. "Moment" is unkind, really. I'm thinking of extended passages, but also the parts and interludes which don't quite fit. The band does lots of fascinating things with their instrumentation and composition and scene work, and, while there's nothing wrong with ambient music, much of this album feels like a retreat from music. A transitional point.
It's fun enough to hear early Floyd, in much-less-than-cohesive form and without much conjuring (for as familiar as Dark Side has become, the techniques are perfectly effective as far as I'm concerned; little of that here). It's even a genre I enjoy-by-default, but with a quarter of the runtime taken up by stinkers I cannot imagine returning to it entire.
You have to be able to enter Van Morrison's dream space to bear him, but I'm often able to do so and was in an especially good position for it tonight. Highly noodly, the songs hang together in sequence better than they ever do internally. Not a boring dream, musically speaking: We move through substantial terrain.
I've left the continent of my birth once. I was ten, flew to Australia with People to People, away from my homeschool milieu long enough to suffer double humiliation: Confessing a crush and earning a nickname by being sick the whole time. But when I met my mom in the airport after those two weeks, I had at least two trophies with me: A barf bag from the plane - mercifully empty - and a CD of didgeridoo music. I tortured my family with that album periodically, a sibling tradition to that time I made my dad listen to Christmas music on repeat as we drove from Missouri to California. So when I heard the instrument opening Emergency, I got excited. There's the promise of novel fusion in that choice. Sadly, the rest of the project failed to carry the baton all that far. Serviceable, the tracks drag towards the penultimate, ten-minute cut. That ended up being better than expected, thankfully. But Didgin' Out is, in the end, a whimper, and that pretty much broke me for Jamiroquai. Could have added something to the music it worshiped, but didn't.
Somewhere back there - I think it was during the phone sample in No Reply - I wondered if the Buzzcocks were going to do something conceptual. They most certainly did not, but pack their love songs with enough melody to stay sticky.
I simply can't find this coffee-shop electronic interesting. It's too much precisely like the other world-compilation-sounding duds on the list, and I made the additional mistake of reading reviews. So many comments about "experimentalism"; There's nothing experimental here! It's literally just got a few samples and recordings of traditional percussion. Shame, since the fact that the West's most terrifying military achievement was connected explicitly to the Indian sacred is a legitimately tempting concept. But when the parodic synth instrument entered after the first vocal snippet I knew more or less what I was in for. (I should also note that the cover reminds me of Lafawndah's Fifth Season and the two projects are not totally dissimilar. My appreciation for that album illuminates the flaws in this review, I hope.)
The Only Ones lay down some great bones on their self-titled. I was surprised by how slurred and dark the songs ended up being. Most are short, many are Shaggs-like, but there's plenty of instrumental skill under the surface. On the vocal side, I'm not sure whether to read the lyrics and delivery as laconic or simply underworked.
Little Wing and Layla are decent songs, which annoys me: After an hour I really wanted to hate this record purely. That's not dissimilar to my confusing vendetta against guitars generally. Part of it's just the narcissism of a bad violinist, but part is legitimate or at least grounded in reality: The reality of mediocre few-chord noodling on a cheap instruments. Far be it from me to accuse the musicians here of being technically inferior, but there are formal similarities: Cheap bluesy frameworks and totally underwhelming soloing. "Worse than the Eagles" was an early thought and still true: That band understands the occasional need for a gimmick, but they haven't convinced themselves that supposed guitar-godliness is sufficient.
Grunge is solidly my least favorite genre in this list so far, and that makes the middle of this record drag a little bit for me. It's the kind of music I can imagine hearing in a small venue, but not by a band I would likely go out to see. Yet it stays loud and stays good: Dinosaur Jr. do their thing better than many of their genre contemporaries, even if the guitar tone is nothing to write home about. As YLAOM is to that mentioned show, Poledo is to listening to a cheap CD player. That's what convinced me of the project's merit in the end: Putting that song on a ukulele takes some doing.
It was a struggle to get through the first several tracks, but everything from No Good through the end has actual musical material and moments of obviously skilled playing. It's dragged down by muddiness and calling a rut a groove.
Dark but the yodeling seals it for me. The quietest and probably the best funk/soul project I've heard. Not get-up-and-dance music, but mandatory-relisten music.
My predispositions are pulling at me, but despite a few flourishes, Kilimanjaro isn't carrying very much with its sound. More than listenable once, but confusing: Typicality is not canonicity.
Immaculate production with the weirdest early spin on the East Coast sound. Lyrics fell a little bit flat for me on first spin, though Jeru clearly created at least one elite project. Baffles me that I know nothing about this body of work.
I have immense respect for the personnel of this album, so the listening experience was a little bit of a letdown. It's solid, doubtless, and the blend of tracks-that-would-become-hits and deep-but-good-cuts is nice. But it ends up sounding a bit thin; Perhaps I was expecting too much Iggy thanks to the Bowie involvement.
More than certainly I'm being unfair to the Pogues somewhere. It's just that my ears have to adjust: There's a blurry quality to the music which suppresses the crystal guitars, and the band's range and accessibility dulls the edge of a full-album delivery. I started to understand that halfway into If I Should Fall..., decided to start simply enjoying the strings tying everything together, and heard some wonderful tunes. Both albums of theirs deserve a relisten: These reviews might deserve to switch places.
Most pieces are in the mold of guitar-ambient, executed by Krautrock experts. Touches of the rural and the weird and plain old songwriting keep things fresh. Not many words here, but plenty of material to sit with.
Rattlesnakes is mostly a wordy set of songs. On its face, the sound world is not particularly distinct. That's not to say it's bad, but the focus is clearly supposed to be the on the songwriter here. And it might be the bias of my perspective in history, but Lloyd doesn't sound quite in the league of the other great writers of the era. But in thirty-five minutes the music grew on me, so who knows, this might be primer for future appreciation.
The band has less of their incisive power on II than they do at their best, but the capital-S Sound on display is an instant attractor. There's musical breadth if not the amount of depth I was looking for based on IV. Lyrics take a backseat for the most part but everything about the mix suggests that is intentional.
Unsurprisingly, Frank's interpretation of sundry extra-musical recordings used here is far less interesting than he thinks it is. But Freak Out! is buoyed because the rest is simply stunning. The most compelling element of my listen-through was the decay of the love song, but the record more than earns its length and contains much more than that. As much as Zappa's sense of humor grates me, there's a joyful orientation toward American music which I share wholeheartedly.
I remember seeing the name of this band growing up and assumed it was some kind of country supergroup. And I suppose it is, but as far as this outing is concerned I can attach no negative connotation. Circle is a recording which earns its length in context: We got at least this much on tape, and these LPs are what you get. This is an album that lets me fully lean into my string-weakness. But the instrumentation switches up subtly throughout the runtime as the vocals occasionally drop out. To my ear, top-notch bluegrass playing.
50 has strong singles and a consistent voice, and the bass peaks distinctively throughout. But the last half of the runtime fades away into mist. Solid, though not sure it left many echoes in music.
I'm left a little perplexed by Doolittle. There are great surf flourishes, and obviously a lot of space within the music from which to love it. The poppiness is just a clear a line to grunge as was advertised, though the Pixies lay down more musical material than your average album in that vein. But many songs feel like they could use thirty more seconds or one additional instrument, and, space or no space, that makes me hedgy.
I respect albums like this, clear personal statements. Most folk on the list is either pop-oriented or very clearly part of a tradition; This is neither unless you look at hippiedom as the latter. Many tunes seem cut short, but Insect Eyes proves he can do multi-part work. It's charming, but I'm bearish on that fact. Folksy and charming, but lacking folksy charm, y'know?
This is blue-eyed something-or-other, not overdone which is a mercy. One of those projects that balances pop with sonic stretches, not so long here, just enough for a half hour.
Sign doesn't have Prince hits, at least not ones I know. Despite that, it's a lovely dance record. The blend of the political and sexual comes in slightly less than perfect to my ear.
Stronger than the followup musically, though I prefer that record's lyrical themes. Those on display here aren't camp, though I'm tempted to use that word; There's a definite theater taste, coming I assume out of the New York influence. The instrumentation is all over the place: Violin, even electric, gets its obligatory shoutout and the record comes together as it arises and fades back into fuzz muck.
Truth was entirely listenable thanks to a bit of looseness in the opener, but wow does the body of British blues rock do nothing for me. That's in spite of the presence of Rod Stewart here. Bunch of dudes convinced that demonstrating instrumental mastery magically makes the blues sound interesting. Learn something other than The Guitar, please.
A blistering, essential big beat album. There's not much to think about with this one, though I caught onto the Kool Keith cameo this time through. Prodigy are less obvious on the samples but sprinkle their signature throughout the tracks, which have very little fat. Here, it seems, the group figures the tunes can be extended via DJ. That's an approach to a dance record I can get behind.
Every tone in Rage's arsenal is distinctive, and the self-titled sticks to meat and potatoes from opening to closing riffs. The album's well-aged, sadly. It's a pretty simple record; That's not a bad thing, but does mean that the mentioned riffs aren't as melodically distinctive as they could have been. By far one of the best album covers ever, but I suppose that comes down to a perfect photograph.
As clearly as much of this isn't music, it performs the same function. The formal elements have clearly been picked up by the modern ambient community, sans much ugliness. As interesting is the motorik sometimes present: Throbbing Gristle didn't come from nowhere. Deranged, though.
I was expecting the old known hit into mediocre deep cuts pattern, and was shocked to find a perfect pop album. It reminds me of Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion if I were to compare it to a record with which I'm much more familiar. The accessibility is the only soundscape similarity, though: There are a couple more cuts in Take On Me's style, a taste of what would become outrun, and some slower numbers. It all may age poorly on a revisit, but for now I'm too busy grinning, riding the high of the last hour.
Pretty clearly a late-career album, and one I have nothing bad to say about. Elvis-as-product is more interesting historically than musically, and that shows up a little bit on the recording. But he gets into the pocket on more tracks than not, which means the iconic voice, classic band work, and divine instrumental flourishes just beneath the surface.
Amnesiac has a magnificent couple of ending pieces and its consistency puts it strictly ahead of Kid A. Even the more pop-oriented tracks have funky mixing and appendices galore. This sits in the same sonic category as this year's We, which I also quite enjoyed. Abstract, existing warm fuzzies for the band, pretentious influences, etc. Good music.
That's not Bowie on the cover, but the man is distinctly of the same vintage. Not the best place to start from, but Frampton does a decent job. Most of the album is proficient. The talkbox helps the band sound a little bigger, but it's relegated to a novelty. Anyway, the audience clearly digs it, elevating the project somewhat in this format.
It's a lot of fun to hate on Kid Rock and this record because it's dumb and gimmicky. But while entertaining trash is the prediction, Devil is in fact a solid collection of the sounds of its time and niche. A bit overstuffed, sure: The Eminem feature and surrounding songs scream "Pay attention to me as I do the thing!"; But Ode 2 the Old School is clearly what it says on the tin, the low-point rapping obvious. Rock doesn't end up being as genre-innovative as his image suggests. The grab bag approach to production makes up for that.
Ladies and Gentlemen is music about music, and packs enough worship into seventy minutes to sustain the jamming tendencies in evidence throughout. I'm not sure if the vision will work for everyone - though it certainly does for me - but feel confident that there are a few minutes for everyone here. It puts me in the mind of Matmos's Consuming Flame, though it's eminently listenable as an album. Too many love songs to choose from, and I love that.
For a fifties album, initial tastes of surf, country, blues were satisfying: all distinct and intense enough. A necessary listen for the list, perhaps, but lite through-and-through.
I'll take or leave the Kinks brand of psychadelia, but it might be the contrast necessary here. Something Else turns out to sound wistful. That's impressive given the rather simple formal elements.
Critique of the structure is easy: It all does sound the same. But that's only part of the (admittedly simple) package. Compared to much of punk, the Ramones manage to do something musically different on each track, though the second half blends in a disheartening way. It's straight to the point, it's rowdy, easy to listen to, but never quite predictable. At least not in all the ways.
The record starts with a few moments of definite Scott Walker-ism. The opening tracks are notable in that they move away from the more avant-garde implications of that, into poppier territory which retains a bit of a psych edge. There are a couple of notably weak tracks near the end, but Goodbye and Hello is a return to form for this list: Something that evokes both curiosity and familiarity with things I already think are great.
There's certainly a Leonard Cohen in here. Beyond that, I'm not sure: Bounced off the minimalism, perhaps just today. Cohen is neither balanced atop surprise nor deep in his lane. This is the hard work of chipping out that niche captured.
Big Sleep and a few other songs are relatively engaging, but as a soiree this feels musically obligatory. It's not my genre, but not a particularly interesting one anyway.
This record has been my queue for several years; When it popped up here, I became conscious of my worry about the length. Certainly Hey Ya was enough? I didn't have to sink two hours into the strangely split double album? Thankfully, that unease was incorrect. This holds up well and hurts my opinion of OutKast not a bit. The ordering is a bit unfortunate: Love Below has more interesting music overall but feels less cohesive and important an hour in.
Portuguese sounds like Russian and Brazilian music is all about vibes. That's all I've got, though the stronger cuts won me over in the end. I'm pretty sure I'm missing something, as this sounds about as dynamic as modern across-the-sea copies I've heard.
Carole King immediately seemed like a peer to Elton, so I was chuffed to see I had correctly predicted Tapestry's proximity to Madman. There's less here, perhaps, but that means less to go sour. It would be bland if the layers didn't get laid down, one by one, blankets to lull but never to make one sweat. What I'm saying is that mom rock is a particular kind of comfort, but one I think is valuable.
I was starting to think there's something in the French water spurring interesting Spanish-language projects, but didn't sense its presence here. That's a shame, as the start was pretty strong, fading away into samey electronica.
There's the familiar Helpless, and the grunge delivery I've come to quite dislike. That said, I found myself moving to Copper Blue as I went through it. The record is a representative sample, and its melodic flourishes in different directions, especially the synthy bits of Hoover Dam, are marginally interesting. I caught some island steeliness in If I Can't Change Your Mind, hints of metal elsewhere. All very 90s in the end.
I can't name the coherence-beyond-formal missing from Medúlla, but as much as I'm glad I listened to it, the record is certainly missing it. Shaw's Partita seems to be in the same vein, but I didn't have as much trouble following the thread of that work. I love Matmos's more abstract projects, but bounced off the surface here. Right now, I can only identify the obvious: It's all voices! There are lots of great collaborators! All true, but where many seem to see strengths I see only descriptions. I hope my opinion either moves or sharpens in the future.
The songs I knew are still wonderful, along with a couple others. "In" Crowd is an outside choice I wish was followed further.
My last Waits review is erroneously abridged; Nighthawks, thankfully, is not. Two notes: The painting is great and there are much, much better examples of this kind of music out there. On that latter point, I was prepared to be highly annoyed: This is not even close to the best statement in the spoken word plus jazz idiom. I found the playing largely serviceable. But the package is funnier by far and more compelling than Sinatra, the liveness-but-not adding something. So Nighthawks at the Diner ends up threading some kind of needle. Listen to it; Listen to more jazz; Listen to more poetry. It'll turn out possibly.
I'm fully shocked at how good Dirt is. As expected, the slower, acoustic cuts lost me a little. In more of a surprise, Would? didn't do much of anything at all. But the rest of the album is extremely good, a metallic take on grunge which affects me much the same way Skunk Anansie's funk did at first blush. The choice to integrate doomy sounds was inspired, and the writing I caught, especially on Rooster and the title track, hit hard.
For something solidly in the Buzzcocks vein, this self-titled was a surprisingly conflicting listen. It absolutely requires the single inclusions: Without them, the highs are nowhere near high enough, the curios buried in the tracklist, Casbah Rock's shift in timbre literally at the end. This kind of music is absolutely over-represented on the list, yet the longer I stayed in the Undertones' world the more fun I had with the music. I don't see this sound going anywhere other than all the way into post-punk (a development I would welcome), but there's a sheen of experimentation and Irish friction just under the undisturbed pop-punk surface.
I lack the linguistic ability and context to appreciate Siembra. The record is clearly positioned in a part of this country I have never visited, and is absolutely accessible from here. Part of me knows there have to be better salsa deep cuts out there, but the rest of me just loved listening to this whole album. It has unspooling in spades, but no tracks that drag on in the same style. Just songs which groove in a sonic space and give way to the next, doing something a little different. The vocals are the least remarkable part, but, as I led with, I can't understand the words.
Common's voice is too smooth for me, working against the reifying-the-Street project he seems to be on in The Corner. Still, riding high on enjoyable music, I felt the significance of Be. Common, Kanye, and Dilla are all icons, and the producers' sounds come together here in a nicely compact package. However, the meandering closer gives up that production and leans heavily on the children-are-hope trope: An easy way to lose some goodwill.
Something is here to be sure, especially evident in the second half. It gets weird, reminding one of the strained beginnings. It's clear then that Cope is not only worshiping American sounds but commenting on the scene. A double album with no filler but largely expected arrangements.
Rush pack the stuff that makes them fun into a slimmer case; Thankfully don't shy away from the more ridiculous facets.
Not all the moves work, but it's good to hear a good heavy band stretch. Has to be consumed in order, I think.
My remembered impressions of Miseducation were quite wrong. I don't love the production choices from minute zero as I did with The Score, but Lauryn's singing is perfect once the album settles into its harp-and-gospel happy place. The songs are long, but the arc of the record is pretty accessible and with only a few features it never feels overstuffed. The only speed bump I can see is the skits, but they never get goofy or egregious. Just make sure your palette can tolerate a few.
I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Radiohead-at-their-best, but this is certainly the band in that register. It helps that I was perfectly primed for this listen. I'm in an electroacoustic-reading mood, and OK Computer has plenty of that in its DNA. That presence is more clear than that ascribed to jazz or prog. Yet Radiohead doesn't dive all the way into the experimental mode which fails for me. The record is packed, but packed with beautiful songs.
Christine starts Chris firmly in her comfort zone, moving gradually into some new and sparser territory. Her voice remains incredibly compelling for me, especially on the French side, the set of tracks to listen to as far as I'm concerned. I think of Chris as a companion to the much-loved debut, incremental rather than revolutionary, still real real good.
As far as my ears can tell, no one else is making pop concept albums like this nowadays. So I'm sad to return to Metropolis and still not get it. There are excellent cuts from this album; Someone made me a really nice mix with some samples from it. However, I never thought The ArchAndroid was bad and this time around I no longer think of it as forgettable. That second half and its escape theme is a little more distinct. Both are musical-ish to their detriment.
This is exactly my bag, down to the electric-violin-not-guitar teased on the cover. I was worried, based on the blurb, about the disastrous potential of that fact. The United States of America ends up being brilliant, though the magical transmission is refracted by the sequencing and scatters a unevenly. That variation is largely in density, it seems at the moment. But the album is a gem which I'm sure will bear revisiting. A band whose oeuvre is easy enough to explore.
Near flawless in its simplicity. You aren't getting much unexpected, though multiple solos involve pushing a guitar just to the edge of listenable. The trio gets their slow cuts in without breaking up the listening experience with a sudden mood change.
The Pixies sound with some burrs sanded off doesn't do much for me. Teenager is arranged like a pop album, that is to say it arrives all at once but takes an hour to finish. Not bad, but I have no urge to dig back in.
I can't justify the Furries' eccentricity on aesthetic grounds, but I did enjoy every minute of it. There's a creeping misanthropy to Rings.
Immaculate. Nearly every song has its surprises, and the hits are the hits. I was unaware of Toto's involvement, but you can hear it, and it just barely works. The disco sound on Thriller is teetering.
Find me another punk band who can play seven quality songs and then record the absolute insanity of Starship; Won't be easy. The solos leave something to be desired. That about sums it up: This was an energizing listen, stands up against the intervening decades of music, and still sounds like it's coming from the bottom of a dirty bucket. What more can a guy ask for?
Side A: American punk was inevitable, and its characteristic elements are nice to hear even if the genre tends toward one note. The B side blows all that away. The Kennedys get weird, timeless (California), and manage to pack the second half of a brief record with impressive musical working.
The band enters a pop mode on Pretzel Logic, spending half their time on short melodic statements and half in characteristic, jazzier fare. I'm not a good listener of the former, but I can appreciate the attempt in light of the latter. No duds on this one.
For its reputation, Bollocks is surprisingly muddy and slow. The gloss is alright; Deeper inspection tends to get boring. I will note that Stealing People's Mail is both more concrete and more interesting than Anarchy.
This album has such a silly groove that I simply can't help enjoying it. The unique percussive elements take a back seat at the same time the Ants slow things down, which is less than ideal. Well worth a listen nonetheless.
This is not the object to change any opinions about prog or the Volta, but it seems to arrive in one's life precisely where it's most needed. It's a quick hour, but contains enough tricks (very lush for Rubin) to establish itself as a 21st century prog album, a load of ambition, plenty of meaning-evading. Put that way, the record sounds like a mixed bag, and I suppose it is: Something brimmeth over, certainly. But I still can't shake the feeling that De-Loused is something special, and it makes me grin.
This is not not a soundtrack, which biases me against it from the start in some sense. On the other hand, it's a necessary antecedent for something like the Xiu Xiu Twin Peaks project; The vibes are clear, in moments intentionally left incomplete. Back on that first hand, the concluding narrative is helpful as it is jarring.
There's a listen-once EP in Melody A.M., but it doubles down on all the worst traits of chill-out genres. Here are some quiet ignorable musings, there's the watered-down funk. The range is from soundscape to aggressively background. And background music is a tricky space to operate in: Be careful and leave the jazz samples alone!
One can't but be delighted by Fagen continuing in fine form after Steely Dan. Nightfly's hearty; The initial sheen is just a bit clinical pop. I shamelessly nod along.
It's a good thing Yellow Brick Road is a double: This second side is rockin' and rollin', and that trait is just what sets the album above typical Elton fare. Not that typicality is necessarily bad. Lyrics detail a love affair with show business, filling a welcome glam niche. The ballads scattered throughout are good. A few pieces (Dirty Little Girl) are well and truly weird. It's appropriate for the titular voice to be the connecting tissue of a pop album. Elton John's is a tad too nice for some of the cuts here, but it was never going to be a fully cohesive or eclectic record.
If you decide not to linger here with the Twins, there are three roads: noise, pop songs, indistinction. Meritorious music in all directions, and Heaven or Las Vegas itself flows without trying to cohere a concept. It's an important stop, but nonsense with distinction has distinct shortcomings (the closing track definitively not among them).
There's no better word than annoying to describe the wasted potential of Elephant Mountain. Let's begin with a degree of balance. California-hippie-psych-country is a risky currency to spend, and prejudices the listener against certain excesses. The bad ones here include not one but two nonfunctional interludes and the tepid sprawl of On Sir Francis Drake. Those jazz elements are better-represented on the closing track, which forms a decent pair of bookends with the superb Darkness, Darkness. I think I might be hungry for a different Youngbloods record but can't imagine why this one would be highlighted.
"No bones" is right, muddy song-bodies sprawled out with heads stuck to them which are momentarily excellent. The opening fifteen seconds are the fleshiest example. Cover's the best part. Bugs don't have any bones.
This one hurts: I respect-but-don't-love Sufjan and Illinois is clearly a grower album, one ill-suited for the way I go through this list. It's the string arrangements that I repeatedly bounce off. Classical inclusions of this kind rarely work, and this music is far too twee to go for quiet-loud contrast.
Another slightly odd choice as far as Brazilian music goes. Or at least so it seems to me, unfamiliar with the music but listening to this entirely accessible take on bossa nova. The production elevates it by the right number of inches. Diverse styles in the back meld into something recognizable, while the sequencing moves us from warm vinyl to a relatively energetic finale.
Golden Hour is sonically perfect, and the instrumentation pays plenty of homage to historical country music without falling into cliche. It's a forward-looking record, successful in that I think. It's a straightforward project, not at the top of the modern country pack to me but certainly worthy of note.
Sounds like it's aged well, as someone totally new to Brown Sugar. It is smooth to a fault, a little bit more material needed to stretch it to its length.
It's easy to make the mistake of over-attributing Vespertine to Matmos. From the sound of it, Björk built most of the edifice, and it shows. The most danceable bits are insanely abstract, and they fade in and out to the other instruments. Vespertine sends the listener on a journey. Something about the eccentricity of Debut simply can't be matched, but this is fine, fine, fine as well.
Smile seems to have a kind of concerto form: The middle slowed things down and apparent lyrical themes lost me a bit. Every track has a bit of substance, and Heroes and Villains grabbed me hard at the start. The project in retrospect, though, feels overproduced and under-something (certainly not -worked, given the time involved).
Maybe it's the American cut that was smoothed, because the bones of Marcus Garvey are solid. I could certainly go for more aggressive versions of the instrumentals, but the quiet delivery contrasts beautifully with the lyrics. Burning Spear is a band noted.
Neil sounds terrible, and it hits the spot. I dunno, this supposed trilogy is just really getting me so far. To put it in slightly less personal terms, this is the kind of set the Piano Man's playing before Joel swoops in and polishes it up. And I like that song, too.
The strength of SZA's writing is evident throughout. The set is consistent in its rawness and precision, and that's a tricky balance to maintain and never drop. The bird punning is something I missed the first time and stuck out as a highlight. However, CTRL didn't manage to sink any earwork hooks into me. A solid release, but I don't see it changing hearts and minds about R&B. The production provides a foundation for something bigger; That never quite obtains.
A mad band, though only the rhythm section benefits, musically speaking. Hardcore moves fast enough that misses and hits are obvious; Remarkably, Germs veers back and forth between success and failure in the space of seconds. Repeatedly. This is a remarkable set to have captured on wax. The bass and forward momentum carry a listen or two and one hopes there are grimy depths to plumb.
Add a measure of Turner, dash of Morricone. Stir well: With the orchestra, those ingredients form the best part of the dish. Age doesn't fold them in evenly, so its sound world is less than enveloping. I enjoyed it, but see little to recommend it as a base for other recipes.
Shortly after the Who cross half of My Generation, a riff leaps into the soundstage from the right and, echoing across, returns as a low grind in the left ear. That was the specific moment of the magic the band conjures on this live recording, even in diminished six-track form and on the least typical of those songs. The four musicians approach the limits of rock instrumentation, and fill that space without needing to get psychadelic. Live at Leeds includes one of the more honest Brit takes on the blues I've seen, in the Who's own register. It can do the convincing that their studio recordings sometimes seem to fail to do.
For one newish to R.E.M. in album form, this excursion is a little odd. The band's clearly between things. All the music attempted succeeds, but the Americana is a bit over-polished. Funny - The rest of the record is comparatively quiet.
Drake's less jazzy here and thus less to my taste, but the guitar work is still very good. Pink Moon is packed despite its minimalism, proof that songs can be short without being fragments.
Dated synths and attempts to interpolate Elton John and protest song aside, Listen is a fair shot better than Faith. It's far from perfect pop, but not dominated by the hits.
The second listen is a little less bracing; Two and a half years ago, things were differently unclear, and I identified lows and highs in Fetch I barely recognize now. The music comes from all directions, many of them novel for Apple. The percussion, of course, convinces everything to hang together. Everything includes chants and deeper lyrical workings, rhythmic breakdowns and harmonic moves which echo and return. Something substantial for everyone.
It's a shame this thing gets better (linearly, more or less) as it plays, since the first fifteen to twenty minutes are utter dross. I'm grateful for listening, I suppose: The duo format is interesting, and there are a few ideas recorded here. It's mostly really boring noise, and not the challenging kind. Instantly hatable.
Even more attractive than the self-titled, initially, which had me making favorable comparisons to Bowie. The music's all a bit more low key, which keeps the B side from reaching 100%, barely. I was impressed by Roxy Music before and this listen ensured I won't forget about the band.
This sounds like the first 21st-century psych album to me. There are plenty of nice surprises peppered throughout, and, while the annoyance quotient is still present, beauty overwhelms it.
Newport has a great build. I was shocked at the acclaim for what starts as fairly straightforward blues tunage. The energy dials up first, then there's an electric murmur in Tiger, and finally a few scorchers finish off the set. But while I like it, the patter is quite dated and the album is shorter and flatter than expected. The hype hasn't grabbed me yet.
Street Signs is highly particular, making it a peculiar listen. I'm tempted to lump it in with the other slightly off-kilter Latin choices in the book, more American and rockin' than the rest. It doesn't work, but isn't bad either. Good background music.
I continue to have no idea how to think about the Byrds. Eclectic to a fault; Californian to a fault. Both are semi-accurate descriptors of at least the first half. But it held my interest and the rest of the record is packed with simply great work. Bottom line: I have no idea how the band is supposed to work.
The shine could wear off this one, but it's exactly in an uncomfortable vein of music which is extremely valuable. The vignettes on Good Old Boys don't form a single narrative, but they stretch across multiple songs. Newman's voice is Disneyfied, now, and that casts a pall over everything. But the South of the record is a particular one, with significant authenticity. Few melodies, a lot of words, but so many colors.
The early pop-country is all too unwelcome and lengthy. There's some above-average material, too, but it's quite buried.
A grab bag does not a great double album make. That said, all the music material on Dirty is pretty good Sonic Youth. The album is less spiky, though still full of noise and with its affect dependent on the person currently on vocal duty. Accessibility grows, and I'm not sure whether to point out at the sequencing or in at the listener. The lyrics deserve lowlighting as underbaked, unfortunately.
Hysteria appears to have perfect production, but the compositional approach seems to be a bit restrained. I was impressed more than anything else by how American Def Leppard sounded in the eighties. That's not a dig: There's very little anyone could hope to add to the arena sound captured here. But there's little else to motivate me.
A downer of an album that defined an era of "alternative" albums which were truly unique sonically. I missed the techno influence the first time around, and appreciate that and the way that Reznor is able to fade industrial tracks into one another so well. The album's unifying conceit doesn't hold together perfectly through the close, but the up-and-down-but-mostly-down is an intricate rendering of angry young man mind.
Def Leppard sound relatively generic here, but all ten tracks are gimmick-free, competent hair metal and I like hair metal.
What I knew and like from Elephant arrives closer to the end. That makes sense, since Jack seems to start with a limited palette and move gradually and generally into more complex sound spaces. Song lengths and styles are nicely varied, and while there's no obvious binding conceit, it's a strong meat-and-potatoes rock record, occasionally remarkable for just how stripped-down it is.
Radiohead at their bandiest, the harder rock less noticeable. This is either generous or less than charitable.
The band smacks you over the head in the first minute with what one would could call a tuning or Spencer not quite getting there. That choice, however, like so many others which read as bombastic when introduced, is in facto considered enough to be consistent. That consideration might bear other fruit, or I might be blinded by the right kind of stupid that rockabilly entails. But the other voices aren't stupid, and neither is the way the Explosion gradually expands its palette, coming to a stop in Xiu Xiu territory. Not for everyone, but I'm a particularly grateful listener.
I get the Pixies hype now. The debut suffers at times from lack of focus, but there's nothing I wish I had known to skip. The production is in the right harshness zone for the compositions, most of which work out. I can see this one burrowing away at one's mind, shaping it.
You could spin this in its entirety at a roller rink and it would work admirably. The basal production is pretty gimmicked, very eighties, and that's the only thing that brings down the sound. The per-song gimmicks are fresh, and Cyndi can more than do justice to both curated and written material.
To all appearances (at first) a watered-down R.E.M. from across the pond. But about halfway through the record, the background arrangements reveal a kind of British-folk ambiance which sunk the H.M.S. Fable just deep enough into my mind's ocean. I wish there were more to read on the band and the record, but I guess the deep listening responsibility lies with the listener here.
Building-block punk. This has a distinct clean-kid vibe to it - checks notes: Ian MacKay, checks out - which is a little unusual for the space. Forty years old, but still feels current. As in, pieces of this are clearly getting released. A palette-cleanser-type listen.
I'm not sure why I liked this so much. The sound isn't particularly lush, though it does a lot with a rather standard band. None of the lyrics leaped to mind. However, the sequencing did a lot of work and my overall impression is of Blur as nineties inheritors of the Kinks, deservedly.
If you want an insane, expansive, accessible introduction to a certain kind of underground, look no further. While it's gonzo and not always in good ways, Octagonecologyst has aged surprisingly well. The strings sustain the production, a fact I failed to notice during my first listen. The plot, such as it is, is choppy, but Mr. Octagon is nothing if not consistent with his themes. Hard light.
In keeping with the sound-manipulation-posing-as-percussion on its central work, Millions Now Living is an exercise in blurring lines. Krautrock worship is easily Tortoise's strongest side: The melodies don't have the compositional or improvisational weight to really recommend them. But if they linger too long, it's a slight offense, and there is some care in the arranging, and all tones retain something more than nil. Half derivative and half niche, the final minutes underwhelm the scales; Still glad I listened for the niche.
The keys on the opening tracks are immaculate; Could have been recorded today; Give me Sun Ra via funk. There's less musical material in the songs here, so it's a listen best left in context: Hip-hop has other realms to explore nowadays. The rest of the scratching and posse-cutting is about what one would expect, adding up to an essential listen with a little filler.
Appraisal of this project as Kate-Bush-lite is inescapable, musically speaking. On the other hand, there's a grungy side, too, and it eventually reveals itself as more than an affectation. The length of the LP helped here. A world with more pop music like this wouldn't be so bad.
I feel enriched for the listen, but there is an astounding amount of bloat and lack of focus here. And for an eighties record in this style, that is not a positive type of achievement.
Bragg is badly preachy but skirts doing so bad. It's a good trick, like the sequencing, building political diatribes out of love songs. The instrumentation of the closer is particularly bad, but I found the final, sampled seconds particularly good.
Hardly clean, but surely the sweetest I've heard Neil yet. Harmonica, steel, movements between acoustic and electric guitars are always welcome. Rootsy music in the accessible and good senses.
A bad case of new wave voice plus era clichés don't sink Lexicon. The first half is elevated by gonzo pairings: Something unspeakably eighties, arresting bass tone on the same track. The track record isn't perfect, unfortunately. The lyrics are sweet-nothing, but helped me realize something about good British new wave: There's an attention to language, the sounds of words interacting to create musical if not semantic meaning. A favorite genre trait, I think, unarticulated until now.
This sound is pre-genre-crystallization, important but lacking in important. Blue Lines is a vibe record, the literal "one love"-level lyricism promoted too far in the mix. In the closer's terms, there is a tension between simple life and the reality of the sounds sampled. The twenty-first century didn't provide a new simplicity, in the end. But the music here stood and stands and begat.
I wrote something about "their brand" of psych last time I listened to The Kinks and this album has me regretting it. There is a progression here more suitable for an album twice as long, but only in density and never in drag. The weirdness and soft noodlings peak in the middle (and in Australia) with what sound like British beginnings and American ends, more simply. It's an album that covers much of life and a lot of the time between 1969 and now. All in a way that sounds great and is still fun. Village Green charmed me and this adds just enough edge while staying full Kinks.
The trio's singularity is captured well on Sunday, but it feels like there is some compositional fire missing. For better and worse, it's a bass-driven record, and all three instruments take on the supporting role at times. That's technically very impressive, but it makes Evans's solo work on Solar shine brighter than the keys do anywhere else. However, I can't ignore the creativity and precision, somehow snagged together and live.
The video version of this promises to be relatively interesting. It almost fell apart in a compelling way, but finished off with inoffensive-enough material to make the record a pretty simple mood piece. I enjoyed the experience, but I'm puzzled about the three-ness, the long-ness, the list-ness.
I must say I prefer the complete objects of good ambient or adequate techno to this, but it's the canvas ambient techno alright. Aphex Twin falls for the throw-it-all-in-a-bucket trap, but most of the tracklisting has something to say in its five-minute chunks.
The highs of Paranoid have something of the curse of familiarity, initial heaviness giving way to hits which sometimes get a little silly. But silly is hardly a bad way to be, and that Black Sabbath register worked its magic on me quietly. No duds here, just solid tunes. The band trades experimentation for stability and still rocks.
The Beatles can deliver constrained as they are here by genre and length. Two very strong openers for the two sides; Beyond that, I liked the sounds on the B-side a little better. I'm impressed by the breadth of the short songs, and happy to receive the record now.
A Girl Called Dusty is likely patchier than I'd like to believe, but there's a sparkle about most of the music that simply works. The initial few songs expose the listener to a pretty wide variety of styles, with Dusty's voice doing significantly but not wildly different things. Then the record seems to settle in a groove, though not as far as style goes: We end in another new world, with kaleidoscopic memories of the last half hour.
Title Music opens with a stuttering rhythm, one of the more unusual Indian musical ideas I've heard. The rest of the score is fun; It seems to be a wide survey, integrating jazz interestingly and featuring a variety of vocalists and moods.
Everything but the recording points to this being the exemplary English-folk-rock release in recent decades. That first property even points straight back to Harvey herself, and the grimier overall sounds of earlier releases. One is tempted to say "darker", but the lyrical material on Let England Shake represents as much darkness as anything, the smooth elegant choking kind. The listening experience was inviting, even in the context it occurred in. It's like Björk but further in English, and I must be true to that impression.
There are half a dozen good beats here, and for most of the runtime I was thankfully not particularly mad. On the other hand, structure is nonexistent and the guest vocalists are trite. A good producer's bad songs are still bad. It's quite an inverted emperor's clothes situation, I suppose.
Steel guitar is easy to love, and there's little else consistently accompanying Jones's voice. I usually let context inform my impressions but do my best to hide it from these notes. Not so here: There's something about the opening track, closing track, the marriage. Beyond words, but I read it and then heard it.
This is the most accessible Nirvana I've heard so far, and they compensate for that with noise and a few deranged lyrical turns. The drums seem barebones across basically the whole record, mixed loud. There always seems to be a drone, but the instrument or voice carrying it varies. I can't begrudge Cobain the grunge voice, but still don't adore it.
I wonder how Sound of Silver sounds to someone walking into an LCD Soundsystem album without knowing what they'll be getting. The band has had so much influence on groups I love that I can't even imagine the experience. As a whole, the thing holds together well with the exception of New York. It's a great song, but doesn't work as the left turn at the end of an hour. The songs manage to stay fresh with a rather stripped-down palettes, James Murphy masterfully doing much.
The choice of opening unfortunately relegates this one to sound artifact (?) territory. No song even leaves you satisfied, which I suppose is the point; The opening minutes, however, are so senseless than the question on my mind is why this is an alleged LP. Certainly not the most interesting Zappa work I've heard, but I'm glad I listened and can see myself returning at least once. Impressive amount of dead space in under forty minutes, though.
Songs is pretty slow for *billy; That and the spacy recording gives it a funereal/reclaimed church feel. Everything is charming, but nothing leaps to the fore as especially notable. I found myself disinclined to check out the bonus material.
The lack of lyrical focus, as in sharpness, is great. It gives the record a driftiness which fits the music just right. The LP form ends up constraining the songs a little bit: I find myself wanting a double album with a musical left turn or a same-length project with fewer jammier songs. Gil Scott-Heron is as musical as I've heard him in these cuts, sometimes personal, sometimes political, but mostly relaxed. Winter In America didn't ask much of me, but it does beckon me back.
It feels testy to say a single bad thing about Bat Out of Hell, as nicely put-together it is from cover art to final note. It really is only one complaint: The cycle doesn't obviously add anything to rock music, and the lulls are, on the other hand, obvious. It might be my seeming genetic aversion to musicals. In any case, the album is a worthy addition to the canon, and I love that motorcycle more the more I look at it.
I guess it's the American touch: I finally am getting some of the evil assigned to metal, though it's very high-school-impression-of-Lovecraft in the form of Thing. Unfortunately, Orion is a bit of a black hole in the tracklist, performing the same function as one of the breaks of the title track. Metallica are good when they mix whatever prog ambitions are evident here with their meat and potatoes; The instrumental jamming is less convincing.
Actually ages and I still love it. This is my first listen of this remaster, which brings out the datedness of many of the instruments. Yet I can't find anything bad at a song level and looked excitedly forward through the end of the record. The laconic delivery pairs perfectly with the ironic tone, but the songs keep you dancing as well. The rare record you can enjoy earnestly while annoying your friends with.
It's always nice to look back on old listening notes and see consistent observations of a band's wont. In the case of the Bunnymen, it's the Arcade Fire connection. Ocean Rain was a shocking listen thanks to how timeless it felt, the vocals and drums I noted of the debut blending into a much more mature and robust texture. Yet, as songs, the effect is that of carefully blanched post-punk, basic and, most of the time, just lush enough. I was deeply feeling for most of the runtime, save a dip into melodrama at the end that didn't quite work. The lyrics I paid attention to were worth one revisit, and suggest returns on a Bunnymen deep dive.
As much as I like and defend Yeezus, I listened to it this time in a context wider than Kanye's discography and with a little more attention. And sadly, that makes the album come across as markedly uneven. The fusion Kanye attempts - sex, race, noise - is interesting, but none of the raps are particularly compelling and the production is the real star. Put it on, bob your head, don't use it too hard. That's the approach I'll take in the future, at least.
ABBA over this set of songs is very low-key. Still themselves, but they lose much of the disco in favor of early-digital production. It makes the album more cohesive, but the peaks lower, at least in the original run of nine tracks. Fewer silly turns of phrase mean less charm, in my mind. Visitors was fine, not particularly stirring.
I appreciate the blues; I appreciate Waits; The marriage is less than satisfactory with the latter trying to some degree Song. Still strange and sweet. Smoky but less theatrical in that.
The aesthetic of cover and title suggests a detached-but-not-really attitude, and Untitled sound like a mixtape before its music pulls a similar turn. At first, the sound is rather light against the themes gestured at. But as the record unfolds, it takes a kind of chronological track through build and release. I looked at SAULT (unfairly) as a novelty band. This has convinced me to listen to its twin and take the group more seriously, even if it didn't blow me away. I guess gospel music isn't meant to, most of the time.
Groovy. Mingus gets weird without resorting to a lot of extended technique. Or any notable technique, really. The innovation is all in the melodies and arrangements, making an eminently approachable piece of avant-garde. With a great laconic ending note. The final movement(s) end up slightly samey, but that's the differentiating factor as well.
This is the kind of record to launch a thousand guitar solos, but wouldn't it be better for all if it simply didn't? A big of grudging respect for choosing the blues, but most of the beginning and end is at such a lifeless pace that I found myself getting bored. In the middle, organ or harmonica flourishes that I expected to genuinely hate took on a charming character thanks to the early-stereo mixing. But in the end, Clapton and Mayall fall back on their old tricks.
This was recommended to me by an acquaintance a while back, and I only got to it relatively recently for the first time. On second listen, much of the middle recedes, even under the modern mixing regime. But when Isn't It A Pity arrives a second time, dark and wobbly below Harrison's voice, the record has me again. The last disc even works as a kind of explosion of the material just heard. Wonderful pop just on the right side of "out there".
The production covers a few bases, and Dion's voice tries to push at something, but it never amounts to much. Born to Be With You comes across as beige adult contemporary despite the edge the vocal strain tries to suggest. It never sounds bad, but is basically forgettable after the second track. If others have plumbed the depths, I'm happy for them.
Three years since I listened to the quartet properly, and I knew I would love Scott 2 standing by itself. It's a nearly perfect night-out album, with Walker pushing the boundaries while remaining eminently listenable. Basically the good version of the Dion record I heard yesterday. Spectacularity is inconsistent, as it maybe must be. But pop Scott Walker and weird Scott Walker are all worth listening to, preferably in big blocks.
Retro-worship goes long and the contemporary elements - voice, synth - sound thinner than the rest. The density of hits at the front of this thing is intense.
I've listened to a whole Slipknot album now. Gematria actually rips and a lot of the early songs aren't half bad. Lots of filler, though, and not much interesting outside the fast stuff.
This sounded like extra-harsh trip-hop and staying up all night. Not sure if that's the point, but it worked for me if it took a little long to get to it.
The slowest hardcore I've heard, predicting so much music I like, almost endlessly inventive. The guitar tone fades into itself, maybe, but the pieces are so well-designed that I never came down from amazement. Track-by-track impressions are pointless because of the time-warp affect musicians can conjure. The package is united by sound in the way great post-punk albums are, laconic lyrics ready to unfold.
Perhaps you had to be there. The hits are there and represent the bones of almost all the contemporary Christian I grew up with, the production choices are delicate, and the band sounds like itself while keeping things varied, but I simply can't get inside any part of this record. Chalk it up to the non-American American concept, maybe.
Metallica and the generator are getting to me with repetition. It's a shame that the band drop the syncopation thing they've got going at the start, but even the sillier cuts provoke a smile. There's a little that's truly boring, but it's a classic enough sound that it all works as fast food.
I want to dislike it because the compilation effect removes so much dynamic range, but the tunes are too good. Swedish punk continues to be palatable.
New to Faces, I didn't expect this from a Rod Stewart project at all. His brand of idiosyncrasy is not usually so diverse, and the effect is much more relaxed than one would expect from the melting pot. This record isn't particularly exciting, but the blend of influences is as tasteful as it can be with that drunken piano going on and on. I enjoyed that, though, and the instrumentation's evolution to the end. As always where violins are mentioned and guitar tones bent, I feel generous.
The packaging screams late-period monolith, so it's a shame that markers of early or late are lost in the swirl of sound. From the surface, though, emerge points of bright difference: The folk of She Floated Away seems to come from another century and would work to close the album, but it keeps going and not entirely wrongly. By the end, Hüsker Dü are producing a kind of shoegaze haze up top, with a few more songs of note beneath.
I really dig the second thing, the Primal Scream sound, but can't grok how it's supposed to fit with the Britpop. That works at certain times, simply (not really) doesn't work at others.
The somatic prompt to dance perfectly follows the emotional manipulation of guitar strings. For a record with a low number of compositions, there's a little drag in the middle; I prefer this style overstuffed. But it's important to be reminded that, important as certain bands are to one's taste, there is always an older group (New Order here) who can one-up their off-peak output.
Ready to Die is a heavy chunk of music, and the first time I heard it was a kind of wash, around me one moment and gone the next; Not repeated this time, thankfully. I was listening to newer underground East Coast stuff recently and thought about the similarities of the form to straight-ahead jazz: Head, solos, something to cap it. If you follow the time trail back to jazz and scoot a little to the side, I find this album now. The beats are more abstract than those on Low End Theory, but still low in the mix. The missing samples leave holes, but Biggie was always there to fill them. The oft-maligned skits even have a sense of rhythm. The ingredients the rapper is playing with here are simple ones, but he understands their limits and pushes just beyond them, until the story crashes in on itself. After any death, there's plenty of work left to do for the living.
The Boys take a trip into ambient space, breaking apart proto-house to build a quieter album. It doesn't quite work for me, though the highs are very affecting and there's something for everyone here. My wife heard Toto in the opening track, I caught something like video game music: Hits and misses. Still like the band, had a good time.
I continue to be perplexed by Nick Cave: This album seems like it was made in a lab for me, and the song and vocal choices make it slide past slightly-annoying. A good cover and hints at a matching aesthetic, at least.
The first half of Solaar's debut puts the phonemes of French to use with a remarkable smoothness, but nothing sets those records apart from contemporary hip-hop material. There's a hint that a progression is stirring, but the hope for that can end up negative as easily as positive. Fortunately, remarkable smoothness gives way to sampling of a weirder variety, and Solaar's delivery matches the spikiness where it appears. This album ends up notable for its approachability, that velvet voice providing an easy landing first and more besides.
I guess I'm not kvlt, because this attempt at Satanism-over-thrash is fully hilarious. From the ridiculous lyrics covering life, death, and crushing on teacher to the teaser for an album which could just as easily tease Black Metal if it were at the front, it's pure glorious schlock. I will admit that the complaints about "real black metal" don't make the music any better than serviceable. (Oh, and I like Liturgy, too.)
The downfall of many a piece of experimental music is whatever the performers are trying to make it. Most of the music on Tago Mago lacks a clear telos: It can only be itself, and there's no striving to ruin the rumination. What's curious is that by all accounts, Aumgn should ruin the record. It spends too many minutes lacking not only an end but also the sense of urgency which propelled the rhythms of the other songs. Drumbeats appear but promise no impact, until the last handful of minutes somehow pull the song out of the muck and save it. Peking O is another curiosity, its drive disappearing into a frantic affect. All that means that the double LP registers as slightly underworthy as far as pure runtime goes, too much plain old ambient. But also the kind of weird that gets under your skin as well as your ears.
Excellent in an unassuming way, which is not what I have been primed to expect from Oasis. This is an album that, at first blush, I can say has a moderate amount of filler that still deserves to be there. That's not an impression I'm used to having, but the sequencing of Definitely Maybe does the job. The seamless runtime has me getting some of the Oasis hype without bringing to mind any particular song highlights. Simply a solid rendition of British musical past, present, and niche.
I can enjoy anything that Matt Berninger sings over, which makes the echo nature of High Violet ultimately disappointing. The record has effective turns of melancholy and strong drumming at points, but the lows are truly forgettable. What it lacks is a telos, and when the music is low-key, vibes are hard to find to carry the formlessness. Background music, a fine coda for those who know they already enjoy the band.
Is it the strings and mandolin? It's probably the strings and mandolin. It doesn't break the ceiling that British blues groups do, but as a solo effort Gasoline Alley is eminently authentic and doesn't have a weak tune. The mixing is strange, but Stewart has a voice that is impossible to lose. Covers and originals blend perfectly, a concert developing out of acoustic guitar and barroom piano.
Blue Cheer's restraint could be taken for the minimizing kind if it weren't for the final minutes of Vincebus Eruptum, the whetting of the appetite for more, and the perfect match to me in musical style and haircut.
The Boys' flow is the love-it-or-hate-it piece. Rapping, the group is simultaneously grating and conventional. The words are right there on the surface, though, and there's a lot of good. The beats, on the other hand, are excellent. Pistol and tape deck are ambiguated, music building toward violence before taking a well-deserved left turn for B-Boy Bouillabaisse.
Jones's debut is a tricky one to rate because it does what it sets out to do, and is absolutely worth a listen. However, the folk stylings get mostly dropped, leaving good playing and mediocre sequencing. The album splits the difference between pop and jazz, but to such a polished level that I'd take CRJ's "run" over NJ's "come" or one of many other Blue Note releases with oomph. And the sound isn't with antecedents. Where's Blossom Dearie?
In verbalizing the feelings, I have to justify the way that Joan Baez impacted me in contrast with the other folk stalwarts. I think it has something to do with in-betweenness, the way Joan's voice is a bridge between the traditional forms and the moment one listens. There's precious little else in the recording. A lot of dynamic range, I suppose. These are compositions held gently, and offered now and for the future: After all, they arrived at Baez.
I'm all about the noisy originals and weirdly-familiar covers. The effect of the juxtaposition, though, fades rather quickly. The Sonics didn't find the middle path, and I think that's what my ears needed for a righteous and not merely worthy listen.
This drifted along just outside The United States of America, trading jam length for variation in language. I can't decide how much more I would like Os Mutantes to freak out after just one listen. The wild sounds get impressively harsh at times, though I grooved to every single track. Another instant favorite, though again the gonzo elements read as just a little ambiguous.
It's hard to make something like "Gypsy Woman" age gracefully, but the lyrics aren't even the bad part of that cut. Over all of Happy Sad is a play-sense, but not in the good, childish way. Rather, the album feels less than fully formed, a personal document of sounds not yet integrated. That does lend a curiously intimate feel to every track, not just Love.
The Saint Etienne stop on the sample music train is one tethered to time but quite attractive in its dubby way. It doesn't present as a lost classic and the influence seems to have waned, but the sounds are still here, a little overstuffed.
The "King" moniker is dropped and earned early. The recording choice is inspired: close and raw, as close to the songs as one can get. It's a trip back in time to living versions of what are now stodgy standards. And do they ever live. Lots of musical reference points close-packed and shimmering.