Fri Jul 08 2022
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Mon Jul 11 2022
Tue Jul 12 2022
Wed Jul 13 2022
Thu Jul 14 2022
Siouxsie And The Banshees
Fri Jul 15 2022
Long time Roots fan, but this was an album I never really revisited frequently. When it was released it was seen as a departure - and rightly so, it is radically different from Thing Fall Apart. Looking back at it now, it’s kind of a blueprint for where the Roots would go in the 21st Century.
Though The Roots hit higher high’s on subsequent records (like Game Theory and Undun), Phrenology gets a lot right. It’s a bit like a classic rock double album gone hip-hop. Stylistically varied, with the first half of the record focusing on more traditional songs/structures and an experimental (yet accessible) second half.
Glad to revisit this one, it’s given me a new appreciation for a record that I overlooked/under-appreciated.
Mon Jul 18 2022
Hunting High And Low
Tue Jul 19 2022
Stone cold classic.
Wed Jul 20 2022
A Wizard, A True Star
Was not expecting to rate it this high, but this record is so out of control and unique that I have to give it a 5.
Give it up for Todd Rundgren, because this is a psychedelic masterpiece.
Thu Jul 21 2022
Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Fri Jul 22 2022
Tea for the Tillerman
Sat Jul 23 2022
Led Zeppelin IV
1001 Albums To Never Hear Again Before You Die
Chapter 1 - Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso, if you’re nasty)
In this first installment, I’ll ask you some baseline questions in order to gauge your eligibility for opting out of this album permanently:
1. Do you often find yourself in relationships (romantic or otherwise) with people you know are no good for you? If you answered no, do you enjoy feeding stray dogs? (Black Dog)
2. Are you partial to American made luxury cars?(Rock and Roll)
3. Do you like songs about hobbits and get amped up by J.R.R Tolkien and/or weed references? (Battle of Evermore, Misty Mountain Hop)
4. Would you like to reminisce about the time you got a chubby while slow dancing with your crush at your 8th grade dinner dance? (Stairway to Heaven)
5. Do you have a predilection for drum circles and a high tolerance for the phrase “oh, baby”? (Four Sticks)
6. Have you ever wondered what a Joni Mitchell song about wanting to sleep with Joni Mitchell would sound like? (Going to California - Give Zep some credit here, they were doing meta in 1971…truly innovative.)
7. Have you ever taken Quaaludes and tried to write a blues song? (When The Levee Breaks)
Now, you’re probably asking yourself “how are these questions going to determine if I never have to listen to Led Zeppelin IV ever again?”
The short answer is…they’re not.
The truth is, you probably don’t ever need to hear this album again. You’ve probably already heard more than half of it on the radio/commercials/films/tv shows, or you’ve heard it in full hanging out at your weed guy’s apartment, or from an older relative who thinks it’s the pinnacle of mankind’s achievements in recorded music.
But, if you find yourself enthralled by the prospect finding out the answers to the questions posed earlier, by all means, revisit this record.
It’s actually pretty good.
Sun Jul 24 2022
Mon Jul 25 2022
The Lexicon Of Love
I know people love it, but 80’s production is insufferable to me. The reverb, drum sounds, the focus on everything sounding clean and pristine. Early digital synthesis feels so cold and lifeless when compared to the analog synthesizers of 70’s.
I can’t help but think of David Brent’s dance for charity in series 2 of The Office as Poison Arrow plays. Scratch that, you could probably sync that scene up with most of the tracks on this record. I have the feeling David Brent would love this record, so take that as an endorsement…maybe?
Tue Jul 26 2022
Aggressive, Fuzzed out alt-rock of the highest order. Dry could be released today and still sound fresh.
Wed Jul 27 2022
Buddy Holly & The Crickets
Thu Jul 28 2022
Fri Jul 29 2022
Music For The Jilted Generation
Big Beats are the best. Get high all the time.
Sat Jul 30 2022
The wheels are falling off the Morrison Express and the Doors are trying their damndest to keep it on the tracks - they’re playing tighter than ever before on this record. The result is a dichotomy of a hyper-focused, tight band playing around a guy who is clearly inebriated, incoherent and often shouting.
Shout out to Tom Scharpling (The Best Show) for pointing out how distant Morrison’s vocals sound in Love Her Madly, as though he was feet away from the mic when it was recorded. I will never be able to listen to this song again without the image of Jim Morrison laying down the vocals while on toilet.
We all know the hits, and they’re very good, even if you include Jim Morrison singing Love Her Madly on the toilet - I actually think it’s one of the Door’s best songs. LA Woman and Riders on the Storm are fantastic and deserve their status as classic rock staples.
Unfortunately, a lot of this record just isn’t very memorable. If you enjoy blues/boogie-rock you’ll probably enjoy it, but for me, that gets boring fast. L’America halts any momentum and goodwill the band had from LA Woman. If the intent of that song is to mimic the descent into madness… well, congratulations, it made feel me feel like I was losing my mind. Hyacinth House is middling, but slightly redeems itself with some fan service in the form of a reference to The End. Apparently, this was actually the song with the bathroom recorded vocals - “I see the bathroom is clear”. Forgive my ignorance of Jim Morrison’s toilet singing habits.
Earlier this week, I was given Nirvana’s In Utero to listen to by this fine website and my feelings on that album are similar to this one. If this wasn’t the final release from a beloved musician, would it be remembered as fondly as it is now? My guess in both cases is…probably not. They’re both solid albums, but neither reach the level of “all time greats”.
Sun Jul 31 2022
Solid late 60’s psych/garage. Definitely of its time. Fans of The Velvet Underground and Can will probably find something to like here, especially of the more garage-y tracks like ‘Seven and Seven Is’ and the side long ‘Revelation’.
Mon Aug 01 2022
Blood And Chocolate
Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Does Elvis Costello get paid by the word? He crams a lot of words into these songs and I’m not sure most of them are needed.
In that spirit, a quick and to-the-point track by track review:
Uncomplicated - No.
I Hope Your Happy Now - Solid power pop, this would’ve made a better opener than Uncomplicated.
Tokyo Storm Warning- Six minutes is way too long for this.
Home is Anywhere You Hang Your Head - That got awfully pretty towards the end.
I Want You - This is basically a Summerteeth-era Wilco track, no? Never really made the connection between Jeff Tweedy/Wilco and Elvis Costello, but holy shit, this had to be an influence on his vocals.
Honey Are You Straight or Are You Blind? - Thank god this was only two minutes. What an obnoxious riff.
Blue Chair - I can not unhear the similarities in the vocal stylings of Costello and Jeff Tweedy now.
Battered Old Bird - “he’s a battered old bird and he’s alivadupalellwerlllll.” This song sucks.
Crimes of Paris - This is what I was expecting from an Elvis Costello record. Relatively straight forward power pop.
Poor Napoleon- “She called you her magic fingers”. This is what happens when you get paid by the word. You come up with terrible metaphors…ones that should still haunt their author 36 years after being forced upon the world.
Next Time Around - another pretty standard power pop number, REM’s “Stand” bears a striking resemblance to the chorus of this song.
Tue Aug 02 2022
Belle & Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian are a band that, frankly, should’ve graced my eardrums much earlier than 2022. I’m a huge Matador Records fan, and I love a lot of their contemporaries - Yo La Tengo and Stereolab for starters. They were always on my periphery, but I never really took the time to listen. I think I probably fell victim to the stereotype on this one - that they are/were exceedingly twee. Not gonna lie, they kind of are, but Tigermilk is still a fantastic record, especially if you love 60’s psych/pop filtered through the lens of 90’s indie rock.
The production is great, the songs are well crafted and to the point, the instrumentation is varied and impeccably played. This is a really great record and I’m disappointed in myself for not giving Belle and Sebastian a chance before now.
RIYL: Yo La Tengo’s “Fakebook”, Stereolab, The Shin’s “Oh, Inverted World”
Wed Aug 03 2022
Big Star didn’t end. It imploded. Third is its wake.
Thu Aug 04 2022
As a Brian Eno fan, I’ve heard and enjoyed the first two Roxy records, but they never really made their way in my rotation, aside from a few songs hear and there. Never really took the time to listen to Roxy Music without Eno until now (except for Avalon, which I do not care for).
Country Life is a solid and enjoyable art-rock record with some fantastic high points. Opener “The Thrill of It All” goes hard out of the gate and feels a bit like a sister song to “Remake/Re-Model” from their debut. If you’ll excuse the comparison, “All I Want is You” has a Bowie-esque swagger that sits comfortably between Bowie’s glam-era and plastic soul-era and probably had some influence. Things get psychedelic and funky on “Out of the Blue”. “Prairie Rose” closes things out in style with slide guitars, funky bass and horns and great double tracked guitar solo courtesy of Phil Manzanera.
The album dips in the middle for me. There are excursions into boogie rock, medieval tinged prog and some shouting in German that don’t really work for me, but the band’s playing and ability still carries the songs well. I don’t consider them bad songs, by any means…just not for me.
This record is a high 3/5 for me, but I’m rounding up today, so let’s call it a 4.
RIYL: Bowie circa Aladdin Sane/Diamond Dogs, Brian Eno’s “Here Come the Warm Jets”.
Fri Aug 05 2022
Locust Abortion Technician
Recommended for fans of Sonic Youth, Ween’s pre-Chocolate and Cheese albums, LSD
Sat Aug 06 2022
Hobbit Rock made by actual hobbits.
Sun Aug 07 2022
With The Beatles
Mon Aug 08 2022
3 + 3
The Isley Brothers
Things kick off on a high note with “That Lady, Parts 1&2”, a rockin’ slab of funk propelled by a phased out, fuzzy guitar lead. It’s no coincidence this song was chosen as an opener, you can tell it’s a hit from the opening guitar riff. However, immediately after, the album veers into more traditional mid-tempo R&B territory for the next 3 tracks. It’s kind of a jarring change of pace. The songs are not bad, but the difference in energy between That Lady and these tracks is palpable.
The pace picks up again with a funky, clavinet heavy cover of the Doobie Brothers “Listen to the Music”, “What It Comes Down To”, and the dark and funky “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”. A cover of Seals and Croft’s “Summer Breeze” turns up next. Like “That Lady”, it’s noted as “Parts 1&2” which really just means they’re going to stretch out the groove at the end and give us some more of that sweet, sweet fuzz guitar. Unfortunately, that section of the doesn’t last quite long enough and the song begins fading out about a minute before it should’ve. “The Highways of My Life” a laid back, soulful tune ends the record well, but I can’t help feel like this record could’ve been greater. When the band leans into a slightly more aggressive style of play and dips their toes in psychedelia, they’re at their best on 3+3, imo.
Fittingly, a “3” out of 5.
Tue Aug 09 2022
This Is Fats Domino
Wed Aug 10 2022
Tragic Songs of Life
The Louvin Brothers
Thu Aug 11 2022
Let's Get It On
Fri Aug 12 2022
Our Aim Is To Satisfy
An editorial note: 32 records into this assignment, and I’ve encountered the first band I have legitimately never heard of. Like…nothing at all. I can’t recall ever: reading a review of this band (and I used to read A LOT of Mojo during the time this record was released) or seeing a poster for one of their records or seeing their name on a festival bill. Before today, I had no idea they existed. For the first time on this journey, I’m a clean slate, tabula rasa, no preconceived notions.
(Drops the virtual needle on “Our Aim is to Satisfy”)
(Lifts the virtual needle during the second track)
Ok. There’s something I gotta get off my chest and I’m sure I’m not the first to make this observation: One of the problems with this is list (the original from 2005 in particular) is that the albums that were chosen from the late 90’s/early aughts didn’t have a chance to age before being given the accolade of “record you must hear before you die” the same way older records did. So yeah, 5 years after this was released it might’ve been essential listening. 22 years later? I guess we’ll see.
(Drops the virtual needle again)
(Removes headphones…record still playing faintly in the background)
I’m on “The Rough and the Quick” now. If you’ve heard this record, you know exactly why i had to take a quick break - I’m laughing hysterically. That was the most unexpected verse I’ve heard in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the sentiment - Dudes, it’s important to reciprocate and satisfy your partner. I just wasn’t expecting something so explicit and couched in zero metaphor.
Back to the music.
(Puts headphones back on)
That wasn’t a bad record. It wasn’t a great record either. It was very of-its-time and didn’t really transcend beyond that. If you’re looking for a record that captures the feel of an era, I think this does that well. But as I said earlier, I think there’s some recency bias going on with a lot of the records from the 2000’s on the original list.
Let me put it this way: Red Snapper put out a good record. However, including “Our Aim is to Satisfy”, while excluding a record like DJ Shadow’s “The Private Press” from 2002, which occupies a similar space, holds up better and is a more rewarding listen doesn’t add up to me.
Sat Aug 13 2022
Solid VU/Modern Lovers-ish alt rock. If you were alive in the 90’s, you’ve heard at least one of these songs before. Would probably make a good summer cookout record with your punk-ish friends.
RIYL: Not cleaning your room, microwaved Taquitos, Mountain Dew.
Sun Aug 14 2022
The internet is a blessing and a curse - it allows you to curate the media you consume in such a way that you can almost entirely tune out cultural zeitgeist and get lost in the things you enjoy. You can create a world where popular music doesn’t exist and when you turn on your 21st century equivalent of the “radio” (cellphone/streaming service) you hear your own personalized greatest hits. In many ways, it’s a beautiful thing, to me.
In 2022, I don’t need to go into reasons why it’s a negative to create a internet bubble where you only hear what you want to hear. We know that situation all too well and have to deal with it from politicians, family members, co-workers.
I am guilty of the first: I don’t have any interest in popular music. The vast majority of it has very little value to me, in terms of creativity or longevity. It’s meant to appeal to as many people as possible and be disposable. As such, I’ve managed to live in a music bubble where it’s rare that a popular artist like Adele permeates my auditory sphere.
Don’t get me wrong, I know who Adele is and I’ve heard at least one of her songs in passing or when visiting friends/family or shopping at Target. But I don’t pay attention to it, because, well…I don’t really have any interest it.
Look, I’m laying it all out on the line. This who I am. I’m aware of it, and try as I might, I can’t change that. My name is Dan, and I am a horrible music snob.
The best I can do is admit when I’m wrong.
Adele’s 21 is a very good record. Her voice is exceptional, the songs are well written and expertly played. It’s soulful, funky and emotionally resonant. I’m not sure you could ask for more from a pop record.
I don’t find it to be an especially challenging or life changing record, but on this Saturday morning in mid-August 2022, it’s a pop record that worked for me, the horrible music snob, and I feel that is worth documenting.
Mon Aug 15 2022
Naming the first track on your record “Set Controls for the Heart of the Pelvis” is statement. Of what, I’m not entirely sure, but it’s cool that he got Austin Powers to do a guest vocal.
If you like the electronic lounge-pop of bands like Air and Stereolab, but wish they did it with a less deft touch, Oedipus Schmoedipus’ first few tracks might be for you.
Perhaps you prefer Lynchian horror soundscapes, might I direct you to “It’s Business as Usual” or “Dirty Barry”? Coincidentally, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” appears in “Lost Highway” - it took me a minute to figure where I had heard it before.
Speaking of David Lynch, the overtly digital jazz on “Miles” could’ve earned a spot in Mulholland Drive, perhaps as the soundtrack for the dance sequence on the soundstage of “The Sylvia North Story”.
I’m doing my best with this one, but fuck me, it’s taxing. I mean, I could talk about David Lynch all day, but he’s not the focus here.
A few days ago, in a review of Red Snapper’s “Our Aim is to Satisfy”, I bemoaned the list maker’s inclusion of albums for the late 90’s and early aughts that haven’t aged particularly well. Add this record to that pile.
Not that this record doesn’t have its moments, but I suspect having a high tolerance for film noir-cheese is a requirement for full enjoyment. If you spend your evenings skulking around dimly lit alleys in a trench coat…boy, have I got an album for you.
If you’re still reading this after all my shit-talk, let me recommend 3 records that occupy a similar musical space to Oedipus Schmoedipus, that have held up well and are actually worth hearing before you die. Two of the three, shockingly, are not included on the 1001 albums list:
Air - The Virgin Suicides
Stereolab - Dots & Loops (possibly the most egregious exclusion from the list)
Tortoise - TNT (another glaring omission, imo)
Or, you could just watch a David Lynch film or two.
Tue Aug 16 2022
It may be an unpopular opinion among Wilco fans, but it’s a hill I’m willing to die on: Wilco was at its best and most interesting when Jay Bennett was in the band. No disrespect to Jeff Tweedy intended, I don’t mean to imply that Jay was the mastermind of the band, not at all. Just that his playing on albums like Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot complimented the songs extremely well. To me, his ability to create an atmosphere with his playing was an important part in the greatness of those records. For me, the post-YHF records don’t have that same sort of cohesion, at least not as much as the records with Jay did - even if the band was reaching a boiling point while he was a member.
So yeah, I like Being There. I have a hard time with double albums: I find they’re often too bulky to keep my attention, and Being There isn’t an exception, but taken in chunks, it’s enjoyable. As a whole, Being There doesn’t quite match the heights of Summerteeth (please tell me that record made the list) or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but it’s a bit of a blueprint for those two records: experimental and stylistically varied, with the right mix of upbeat songs and melancholia to keep it from feeling too same-y.
Wed Aug 17 2022
The Black Keys
Thu Aug 18 2022
(What's The Story) Morning Glory
Trying to go in with an open mind, here. I was an American teenager when Oasis-mania originally hit in the 90’s - all about that grunge. Didn’t care for Oasis much at the time, they always struck me as nothing more than the sum of their influences, but I only knew the singles. We’ll see how accurate that take is.
“Hello” opens things up nicely and has some restrained guitar noise at the end. Good opener.
“Roll with it” - Ah, there’s the Beatles aping I was expecting. Pleasant enough, but if I want I Beatles fix, I’ll just listen to the Beatles. Know what I mean? I guess that was always my problem with Oasis. They were a little too on the nose with their Beatles worship - almost gets to the point of parody, in its own way.
Anyway, here’s “Wonderwall”.
“Don’t Look Back in Anger” - Speaking of on the nose…“I’m gonna start a revolution from my bed” is apparently lifted from cassette recordings of John Lennon taken at the Dakota Hotel. That’s kind of cool, I guess…but after this, I’m going to “Look Back in Anger” and throw on Bowie’s Lodger.
“Hey Now!” - a real missed-opportunity not getting Hank Kingsley to guest on this track. So far the tracks on this record, while not necessarily my cup, have been strong. This is the first one that doesn’t do much for me. Nearly 6 minutes is too long for this.
“Untitled (1)” - 44 seconds of space-y blues rock. Unnecessary.
“Some Might Say” - wherein Oasis tries to give Teenage Fanclub a run for their money. You know what some might say? “This one goes on too long, bruh.”
“Cast No Shadow” - yeah, I figured out what it is about this band that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s Liam Gallagher’s vocals: his delivery, moreso than his actual voice. He does this thing a lot (which you can hear at the start of the track). Where the emphasis on words is weird “ HERE’S a THOUGHT for EVERY man WHO….”. It grates, after a while. This song also goes too long. I swear, I like long songs, but so far the long songs on this record aren’t justifying their 5+ minute lengths they just kind of repeat the same thing over and over.
“She’s Electric” - this chorus sounds exactly like a Beatles song, but I can’t put my finger on which one.
“Morning Glory” - A bit of a Ride vibe on this one with the swirling guitar noise and propulsive beat. My favorite so far, even if the guitar line reminds me of REM’s “The One I Love”.
Untitled (2) kind of a rehash of the the first Untitled, but with a more experimental tilt, waves crash into…
“Champaign Supernova”, which is a fine track. I like these songs better when the band is going off. As said earlier, they kind of have a Ride-ish shoegaze vibe when the guitars get going and they lock into a groove, but by the end of this record, I’m finding Liam Gallagher to be very off-putting as a singer.
I think what made Oasis successful is that they managed to take a lot of pieces from what was going on concurrently in UK music and kind of make into their own with a big nod to the Beatles. I get why they were popular, but they’re a group that I find difficult to separate the band from their influences.
Fri Aug 19 2022
A Love Supreme
Sat Aug 20 2022
The author of this list seems to have a real soft spot for records that ended up being an artist’s final record before their tragic death. 40 records in to this exercise and I’ve been given a few already. While often an important document of the waning days of an artist, albums like this are not always the best representation of the artist’s output and often gain mythological status solely for being the last thing they put out before they died.
Figure 8 feels like it was included because it was Elliot Smith’s final record before taking his own life and not necessarily because it’s one of the Elliot Smith records you should hear before you die. I think ”XO” from 1998 would be a better inclusion, in that case.
Don’t get me wrong, Figure 8 is a good record. The songs are all well crafted, with expansive instrumentation and nicely layered vocal harmonies. Compared to XO, Figure 8 has a bit more of edge compared to its predecessor with more distorted guitar, and a darker, more blunt lyrical theme.
XO, ultimately, is a more enjoyable record. Its songwriting is more concise and memorable. Figure 8 kind has a sprawling feel - a lot of ground travelled, but you still end up in the same place: unknown, yet entirely familiar. Fittingly, it reminds me of traveling in the city it was recorded, Los Angeles: There dozens of neighborhoods that make up Los Angeles, all with their own traits, yet very much the same. Figure 8 takes its time in navigating its sprawl, in the same way that traveling Los Angeles by car can be so time consuming.
I’m not sure I landed that analogy properly.
Going back to my original point, this isn’t the Elliot Smith record I’d recommend to a newcomer, Either/Or and XO make better starting points. I would save Figure 8 for last. Sometimes the last record an artist put out is the last one you should hear.
Sun Aug 21 2022
The Rolling Stones
I saw The Rolling Stones in 1997 on the Bridges to Babylon tour. My mom took me and my brother to Giants Stadium for the show. I was 16 and had only been to a few concerts prior. This concert stood out to me, if only because of the sheer number of inebriated middle aged people I was witness to.
I don’t know if you ever been in a place with 70,000 drunken 50 year olds at 16, but it’s an experience. No exaggeration…because I wasn’t old enough to drink, I immediately became one of the most responsible people in attendance.
For further context, I had been to separate concerts by Metallica and Pantera within a year of this Stones concert and for the first time I was legitimately concerned about something seriously bad happening at a concert. These Stones fans were out of control.
Here’s two examples:
Giants stadium, like every other football stadium on earth is essentially a bowl. Our seats were in the nosebleeds: on the third level and about 1/4 of the way up. Let’s say row 8 of 32. Not great seats, but also not the worst.
A few minutes prior to the Stones’ set, and shortly after the Foo Fighters had finished, a man began making his way back to his seats (two rows in front of mine) after returning from the concession stand. He was drunkenly balancing a cardboard drink tray with 4 very large plastic glasses of beer in it and not doing it very well. His seats were in the middle of the row, so he had to navigate around about a dozen concertgoers, in the cramped walkway, to reach his destination. Well, about four people in, he lost his balance and fell, sliding down over three rows of seated people and sending his four beers flying into the air, drenching probably a dozen people in Bud Light.
Luckily, the drunk and the half dozen people he fell on/over all ended up being ok.
That was death-defying act number one. Number two occurred shortly before the end of the concert:
If you’ve been to a stadium concert, you know they usually don’t sell seats behind the stage, because, well…no one wants to pay to watch the back of the band. Turns out there’s another good reason for that as well….
As the band was nearing the end of their set, my mother pointed to the area behind the stage, in the upper bowl of the stadium, and said “look, there’s somebody up there behind the stage. What’s he doing up there?” I watched the guy intently, thinking maybe he was a stage hand or maybe he was also so drunk that he would fall down the upper level of the stadium as well, but this time there would be no other concertgoers around to slow his descent. About a minute in, I see a few security guards quickly approaching the man, and what looks like an argument ensues. The man doesn’t seem to care about the security guard’s directives, but eventually, they grab him and remove him from the area.
As they are escorting him down the stairs of the upper level - Mick says “this is our last song”, the band launches in to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and a massive barrage of fireworks launches from behind the stage, almost exactly where the drunk was hanging out a minute prior. Those security guards likely saved this guy from a pretty serious trip to the hospital and did so right in the nick of time.
“So what does this have to do with Beggars Banquet?”, you’re probably thinking. Honestly, not much…It’s just a Rolling Stones anecdote I needed put out into the world, but I’ll tie it together any way:
Beggars Banquet is arguably the first record where the Stones became the band that everyone knows today: they found their blues, country and honky tonk swagger, solidifying their status as a band that’s synonymous with the hard-partying rock and roll lifestyle. So, without a record like Beggar’s Banquet, I may not have ever experienced the accidental near-deaths of two 50 year old drunks in 1997, and in turn, you wouldn’t be here reading about it.
It’s truly a rock and roll version of the butterfly effect.
Mon Aug 22 2022
Tue Aug 23 2022
This is the dichotomy of my life: I’m a sucker for the pedal steel, but I have a strong dislike for most country music. It’s a genre I can’t relate to much - I didn’t grow up with it and it can be very monolithic and same-y. Obviously not all country music sounds the same, but let’s be real, the joke about all country songs being about a) your wife leaving you, b) your truck breaking down or c) your dog dying, is funny because it’s true. As a matter of fact, the first song that auto-played after this record ended (She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere by Guy Clark) was about a guy whose wife left him. Checkmate.
But the pedal steel, sweet Jesus on a skateboard, what an absolutely beautiful sounding instrument. It can be sad sounding, but also uplifting and understatedly psychedelic. For lack of a better phrase, it “sings” in a way that few other instruments can. It tickles my brain in the best possible way.
The pedal steel on this record, played by Leo LeBlanc, is wonderful and perfectly compliments every one of the songs where it appears on this record.
Don’t let my unabashed love of the pedal steel overshadow the great collection of songs John Prine wrote here. They’re often humorous, but also poignant and touching. It’s no surprise that Kurt Vile is such a fan of Prine; Prine’s sense of humor and skill with lyrical turns of phrase is clearly an influence.
John Prine’s self-titled is a rarity for me: a country record that I was fully engaged with. When it was over, I had to listen again.
Wed Aug 24 2022
There’s no such thing as “indie” music anymore, at least in the descriptive sense of the word. “Indie” used to mean music that came from independent record labels - and that covered a wide swath and many styles of music. Music from people that didn’t want to answer to anyone (especially a giant corporation), music that had something different to say, music that took chances.
Now, “indie” just describes the kind of plucky, lifeless, navel gazing, easy listening quirk-pop that you hear on this record. “Indie” is the new elevator music. I’m serious about this…to use the parlance of our times: “don’t @ me”.
That The National and Bon Iver, two of indie rock’s foremost purveyors of bland navel gazing, were involved in this record comes as no surprise to me. “evermore” is basically a Bon Iver record, with Taylor Swift’s vocals (which are, admittedly, very good) instead of Justin Vernon’s “T-Pain for people who buy artisan maple syrup” auto-tuned vocal stylings (though he does dust off that chestnut on the closing track).
Maybe I’m just an out of touch old man yelling at a cloud, but a lot of this record is the kind of stuff you’d hear on Lite FM when I was growing up in the early 90’s.
Thu Aug 25 2022
Pictures At An Exhibition
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
I got this record at a yard sale 20 years ago along with about 20 other 70’s LP’s, and honestly don’t think I’ve ever listened to it before today. ELP never did it for me they way that Yes’ classic records and King Crimson’s 73-75 period does. Those bands tended merge classical and rock more interestingly to me, where ELP tilts toward classical much more.
This album is no exception: a live, rock interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibiton. Having no familiarity with the original piece or extensive knowledge of classical music, this review isn’t going to be the most balanced.
As an experimental rock record, it’s mostly enjoyable, with all three members of ELP playing extremely well. Emerson is clearly the main attraction of the band: a veritable keyboard wizard, even if he didn’t wear a cape, like his contemporary in Yes, Rick Wakeman. As such, his moog synthesizer is often loudest in the mix, sometimes overpowering the rest of the band and occasionally sounding as if parts had been overdubbed after the fact, in an effort to bridge the movements. Lake and Palmer provide a solid foundation for his soloing, even when they are also going off on their own solos. ELP, say what you will about them, were an extremely tight band on this record.
Of the other ELP records I’ve listened to (Tarkus and Trilogy) Pictures at an Exhibition was the most enjoyable. Maybe it’s because it was a live record that captured the band’s energy better than their studio work or maybe because Pictures leans into ELP’s classical side rather than rock.
Fri Aug 26 2022
46 days in and I’m beginning to think the 1001 Album Generator is tracking my internet history.
Less than 12 hours before this album was “randomly generated” for me, I was watching a 1996 Sonic Youth live performance from Germany on YouTube.
This suggests two grim possibilities:
Either the developers of this website have entered into a nefarious pact with Google and are tracking my browsing history (god help them if they are) and then recommending albums…
…I am becoming one with the Generator; its decisions influencing my choices and my choices influencing its decisions: a bio-mechanical cerebral cortex, decaying in a feedback loop.
If Sonic Youth are, in fact, a conduit for The Singularity, would anyone be surprised? Their guitar squall and reckless abandon would make a fitting soundtrack to the technological apocalypse.
SEVEN! out of 5
Sat Aug 27 2022
Let England Shake
Like The Kinks “Arthur”, “Let England Shake” is an artist’s exploration of their relationship with England, their country of birth, and the battles it has fought. “Let England Shake” is a decidedly darker affair, aiming some of its focus on Gallipoli, where 30,000 English soldiers died in a brutal battle during World War I.
Harvey’s songs here are often ghostly and strikingly minimalist in their instrumentation. The record’s stark black and white cover compliments its sound perfectly.
Let England Shake is an ambitious concept record, one that I suspect will take me a few more listens to fully digest.
Sun Aug 28 2022
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
Mon Aug 29 2022
Basket of Light
Basket of Light is a swirling, psychedelic mixture of folk, jazz, blues, sitar and traditional music that may be one of the most surprisingly great records I’ve ever heard. Surprising in that, typically, folk and medieval sounding music are not very enjoyable to me.
Pentangle’s intricate guitar arrangements and interplay were the highlight of this record to me, but each member, whether on guitars, bass, drums or vocals all execute at a virtuosic level. Most importantly, Pentangle doesn’t let their ability outshine the song: They aren’t playing only to showcase their talents, but to serve the song. Each part of every song sounds considered and well written, transitioning smoothly from one to the next; playing with an edge that I would consider to be uncommon in most folk music.
A truly enjoyable album experience.
Tue Aug 30 2022
Wed Aug 31 2022
Honky Tonk Heroes
Thu Sep 01 2022
Amazing production (Pete Rock, Dilla and DOOM? Come on, you can’t go wrong), amazing flow, great guest spots, high energy.
Like it’s namesake, Fishscale hits hard.
Fri Sep 02 2022
Back to Mystery City
The Mystery: What would it sound like if Poison made a Replacements album?
The Answer: This record.
Sat Sep 03 2022
1994, the halcyon days of my youth…I’m reminded of summer nights playing “Manhunt” in my suburban neighborhood. Manhunt was basically a teen version of hide and seek, spread out across a wide swath of residential housing on half-acre lots.
In actuality, it was just an excuse for us teenagers in the neighborhood to get together for the night and see what kind of mischief we could get into.
It usually went something like this:
We’d meet up a predetermined time and place, usually between 730 and 8pm. Discussions would ensue about what sort of teenage contraband had been acquired during the day: “I stole a half-pack of cigarettes from my dad”, ”I stashed 3 wine coolers behind my fence, we’ll go and grab them once it gets dark”, “I’ve got some firecrackers”…that sort of thing.
Once we were all assembled and dusk drew near, Manhunt captains were chosen and we’d break up into two teams. Ideally, you wanted to end up on the same team as the person you had a crush on: Manhunt was the perfect opportunity for the two of you to find someplace secluded to make out. The people chosen as captains could make or break your night.
We’d play Manhunt for about 30 minutes to keep up the facade that we were just innocent kids having fun. At that point, it would be dark enough that anyone paying attention couldn’t really keep tabs on what was going on.
It was then, thoroughly bored with the facade, that we’d turn to the streets: a pack of chain-smoking, wine cooler aficionados roaming the backroads and backyards of suburban America looking for fun.
It never amounted to much: the occasional stolen street sign or fireworks set off in sewer grates. One time, we figured out that if you shook the soda machine at the baseball field hard enough, it would dispense free sodas, usually ginger ale. It was petty mischief; the kind you get into when you’re 14 and miles away from anything interesting. As long as we were home by 11 and didn’t arrive by police car, our parents didn’t care…
Welcome to Paradise.
Sun Sep 04 2022
The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
Mon Sep 05 2022
Two songs in, I had to pause and listen to a few tracks from The Jam. They’re a blind spot in my musical knowledge-base and I was thinking some context might be needed for this record. I always, somewhat incorrectly, assumed they were a punk band in the same vein as the Pistols or the Damned or Buzzcocks, so when I heard the first two tracks off of Wild Wood, and they sounded like Traffic, I was confused. Turns out my assumptions weren’t entirely correct, and I’ve made an ass out of me.
With my new found knowledge of what The Jam actually sounded like, I returned to Wild Wood.
I’ll give Paul Weller this: the production on this record is very intricate with great attention to detail. Keyboards kind pop up and percolate on the periphery of the stereo field…It’s nice to listen to.
The MOR rock stylings of the songs, however, are not as nice to listen to. I’m not sure that was what people were craving in the early 90’s. Maybe things were different in Britain.
It’s bad that I’m enjoying this album when Paul Weller isn’t singing. The instrumental sections of a lot of these songs get psychedelic, lock into a groove and they’re really finely crafted. Seriously, the best parts of this record happen when Paul Weller isn’t crooning like an off-brand Tom Jones.
Oh, cool…Now it sounds like Cat Stevens. I kind of hate this record.
…and we’re back into Traffic territory. What is it with the English and their obsession with making the most god awful blues rock?
RIYL: Traffic, but don’t feel like putting on a Traffic record; Bloody Mary’s and Brunch at the country club.
Tue Sep 06 2022
Crime Of The Century
Prog for people who think Billy Joel “rocks”.
Wed Sep 07 2022
Don’t tell the indie kids, but I think David Longstreth is a massive Steve Howe (Yes) fan. He laces Howe-isms in his guitar playing through out the record. If you don’t believe me, listen to the title track or “Temecula Sunrise”, if you’ve heard a few Steve Howe solos or enjoy Yes, it’ll hit you hard. Honestly, it’s pretty amazing, like if you dropped Steve Howe into Stereolab and it somehow worked.
Ok, enough trying manipulate the generator into giving me a Yes record to review. (Serious about the Steve Howe thing, though).
Bitte Orca separates itself from a lot of 2000/10’s indie rock with its complex, layered arrangements. It’s a daunting listen at first, but when it clicks, it’ll likely leave you wanting more.
RIYL: “Point” by Cornelius, Steve Howe’s work in Yes.
Thu Sep 08 2022
Probably revolutionary at its time; an enjoyable, but somewhat pedestrian sounding electronic record today.
Fri Sep 09 2022
Sat Sep 10 2022
The Queen Is Dead
I’m no monarchist, but The Queen is Dead has me reconsidering that stance.
Surely, a benevolent dictator, unfettered by democracy, wouldn’t allow an enterprise as soul-draining and limp as The Smiths to run amok in their kingdom, would they?
Johnny Marr’s guitar is The Smiths’ only saving grace in my book and it’s great here. The rhythm section is ok and the production is a typical 80’s mix. Everything about Morrissey sucks. Hard. He easily ranks amongst the 10 most insufferable people on the planet, and that was before revealing himself to be a Grade A bigot.
If you like songs about how it would be great to be run over by a bus and killed, this is the album for you.
Usually after I finish one of these records, I either listen to it again or listen to something similar in my collection for the sake of comparison. Today, I took off my headphones, unable and unwilling to do either. This record has (at least temporarily) made me hate music.
Sun Sep 11 2022
Occasionally, I am reminded of how much a product of my environment I am; that teenage years really are more formative than you realize. You can try to distance yourself from them, but that seed is always there, lying dormant and ready for the right glimpse of sunlight in order to bloom again.
I was a teenager in the early 90’s. Alternative rock was at peak popularity. Our guitars were fuzzy, aggressive and screaming out the arrival of a new way forward. There was a new world order and what had been the status quo a few years earlier had become painfully uncool.
High atop the Mountain of Uncool was soft rock, the kind of stuff you’d hear at JC Penny while shopping with your mom. Intolerable blandness, so inoffensive that you could play it almost anywhere, with the exception of maybe a convent, and not get the side-eye from anyone.
As kids, we used to laugh at the Time-Life infomercials schilling 2 and 3 CD collections of “Soft Rock Super Hits of the 70’s”: These collections typically featured bands like Air Supply, The Doobie Brothers, Bread, Steely Dan…and many more! All yours for the low price of $19.99!
I always thought Steely Dan was lame. 30 years on, that hasn’t changed. They’ve never been for me and god help me if they ever are.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried: I know plenty of people who love them, I’ve got younger friends and co-workers who extol their virtues. My own brother is a fan. But the second a Steely Dan track comes on, I’m transported back to 1993 and the aforementioned seed begins to sprout: this is everything that was wrong with music; perfection for the sake of perfection, emotionless music masquerading as having soul.
Even though the Alternative-era of the early 90’s soon gave way to a similar by-the-numbers alt-rock soullessness and awful nu-metal, there were at least a few years where the sky was the limit. The formula had been broken and it didn’t matter how weird you were, you could get radio play and/or a major label deal: bands like sonic youth, pavement, the butthole surfers and ween had radio and MTV playing their songs. These bands would be less likely to find “mainstream” success today, but for a brief window of time, the rules no longer applied.
Maybe I’ve been looking at the music of Steely Dan (and their ilk) from the wrong perspective this whole time. If wasn’t for their rigid, schlocky compositions, there wouldn’t have been a backlash towards authenticity and uniqueness that lead me to the music that I love…
Newton’s third law and all that.
Mon Sep 12 2022
Tue Sep 13 2022
Wed Sep 14 2022
We Are Family
Thu Sep 15 2022
Planet Rock: The Album
Fri Sep 16 2022
Vulgar Display Of Power
I was a teenage dirtbag. Not in the parlance of our current time, where a celebrity like Reese Witherspoon will post awkward photos from her teenage years where she had braces, then type “cringe” as a caption and #teenagedirtbag.
I was a teenage dirtbag in the traditional sense: a weird, cigarette smoking metal head; a total societal misfit.
To prove my dirtbag credentials: The first concert I went to of my own accord was a split bill of White Zombie and Pantera in 1996 at the Brendan Byrne Arena in NJ.
(Now I’m not saying metal heads are dirtbags, but at that time, if you were 15 and listening to Pantera, chances are you weren’t one of “the cool kids”. )
A little known (at the time) band called Deftones opened the show. Being the hipster that I am, I had already known about them and owned Adrenaline. I must’ve been one of maybe 100 people in the arena who were excited to see them.
It was rough going for them.
Pantera fans were not interested in buying what the Deftones had to sell and made their disapproval known throughout the set. Still, Chino and company managed to coax a few mosh pits out of the crowd and it was going about as successfully as it could, given their mostly unknown status…
Until Chino decided to go crowd surfing. Towards the end of their set, he jumped from the stage and into the crowd. He finished out the song, getting tossed around atop the crowd, occasionally screaming his lyrics into the mic. The song ended and he returned to stage, missing a shoe.
“Who stole my fucking shoe?” He says. “Bunch of thieves in here tonight.” He argued with the crowd a little bit, gave them the finger and moved on to the next song. A minute or so later, about 50 feet from the stage, dead center, a sneaker flies through the air, hurtling towards Chino and hits him right upside the head, mid-song.
The NY Giants or Jets should have drafted whoever threw that shoe to be their quarterback in ‘96. My man dropped a dime right on Chino’s head in a dark arena. It was an amazing toss and you could hear laughter and cheering throughout the crowd.
Deftones finished up and White Zombie took the stage shortly after. Their show was a psychedelic horror trip with crazy video, pyrotechnics and lights. Highly entertaining. The crowd was weirdly subdued, but I guess tormenting the Deftones for 40 minutes drained them a little.
Now, for the “relevant” part of this story: Pantera.
I was never a huge Pantera fan. I liked Vulgar Display of Power back then, but that was about it: Cowboys from Hell was always cheesy to me and Far Beyond Driven had a few decent tracks, but was grating on the ears after a while. My friend who got the tickets was a fan, though, and at 15 you’re going to go to whatever concerts you can. They were touring “The Great Southern Trendkill” that year, which was a concept record about…the South rising again to kill all false metal (?). I’m projecting a little, but Pantera always kind of had a Lynyrd Skynyrd gone metal vibe to me. However, as we all know, that title actually belongs to Jackyl.
A few weeks prior to this show, Phil Anselmo nearly died from a heroin overdose. Technically, he was dead for a few minutes, but was resuscitated. I know this because he made a point of telling the audience about it in between songs and then announced his invincibility, saying “Nothing can kill me!”
That was the lesson he took away. Not “maybe I should stop doing heroin” or “man, I’m lucky to be alive”. Nope…”I’m invincible”.
That left a bad taste in my mouth. Pantera fans loved it that night, though, and maybe it was all for show…faux bravado for a rabid fanbase. Whatever it was, I felt dumber just having been in the room.
I know I took the scenic route to get here and this might be my longest “review” to date, so I’ll touch on Vulgar Display of Power quickly then see myself out. It’s one of the most aptly named albums ever. It’s heavy, aggressive, blunt and lacking sophistication.
Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. Pantera isn’t for me at age 40. Phil Anselmo certainly isn’t, either - his antics have only gotten worse over the years. Dimebag was an amazing player and his death was beyond tragic, but that’s where my appreciation of this band starts and ends. This is probably the best Pantera album and it is genre defining, so I think its inclusion here is warranted, but it’s hard for me to reconcile the music with Phil Anselmo’s persona.
After all, he’s the one that’s screaming at you for 40 minutes.
Sat Sep 17 2022
Sun Sep 18 2022
Sisters Of Mercy
New Wave Dracula doesn’t suck blood, he just sucks.
Mon Sep 19 2022
Beavis: Check it out, Butt-Head…our 69th album just got generated.
Butt-Head: uh-huh-huh, you said “69”.
Beavis: oh, yeah, I guess did….heh-heh…
Butt-Head: so, uh…what is it?
Beavis: Uhh…69 is the sex number, Butt-Head…Jeez
Butt-Head: I know what 69 is, dill-weed. What record are we, like, supposed to listen to?
Beavis: oh…yeah, cool…I knew that…uh, it says we’re supposed to listen to Celebrity Skin by Hole.
Beavis: yeah! and it’s, like, our 69th record, Butt-Head…Heh-heh…69…heh-heh-heh…Hole…Get it?
Butt-Head: Whoa…that’s cool. This generator must know we’re, like, super cool badasses who like to score.
Beavis: uhh…Butt-Head? We, like, don’t score very much at all.
Butt-Head: Uh…speak for yourself, butt-munch. Ladies love the Butt-Head…Now go put on that Hole record, you wuss.
Beavis: oh, yeah…sure thing, Butt-Head.
[they listen to the record]
Beavis: Hey, Butt-Head?
Butt-Head: Uhh….yeah, Beavis?
Beavis: Is it just me or does this record kind of suck?
Butt-Head: yeah, Beavis…it sucks. She’s, like, singing about seeing God and stuff.
Beavis: Yeah…singing about God sucks. This is lame.
Butt-Head: We should, like, leave a bad review and demand the Generator give us a new album that’s, like, cool to listen to for number 69.
Beavis: Yeah! This sucks! I want a refund or I’m gonna find the Generator and, like, smash it with a baseball bat…and then, I’m going to take all the pieces, gather them up and set them on fire! Yeah, fire! FIRE! Heh-heh…that’ll teach them to make us listen to things that suck.
Butt-Head: uh-huh-huh…Breaking things is cool.
Beavis: It sure is, Butt-Head…It sure is.
Tue Sep 20 2022
Lost In The Dream
The War On Drugs
Wed Sep 21 2022
The Beau Brummels
Thu Sep 22 2022
Talking With the Taxman About Poetry
Fri Sep 23 2022
Since I Left You
10 Albums You Actually Need To Hear Before You Die
Chapter 1: The Avalanches - Since I Left You
I’ve always thought the term “plunderphonics” was a poor descriptor for The Avalanches’ music. It’s reductive and undermines the skill required to craft an album as captivating, detailed and unique as Since I Left You.
Plundering implies recklessness and a disregard for history; something done with a lack of grace.
Since I Left You is none of those things. It is a meticulously crafted record that, through sampling, nods to the past, while carving out a new way forward.
Comprised of thousands of samples (the band has estimated anywhere from 900 to 3000 over the years), Since I Left You is a veritable encyclopedia of modern recorded music and sound: disassembled, then reconfigured to create something new and beautiful out of the already known.
I first heard Since I Left You in the summer of 2002, stricken with mononucleosis. Tired of laying around at home, I went to Borders Books and Music to pick up the new Flaming Lips record “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and see what other new albums had come in. I was familiar with Since I Left You, having read a review in Mojo Magazine a few months earlier. Their review, I believe, compared it to Paul’s Boutique, which I was a fan of, so it was a no-brainer when I saw it on the shelf that day.
While the Paul’s Boutique comparison was apt, it didn’t prepare me for Since I Left You. If you could cram Paul’s Boutique inside of a kaleidoscope and spend a summer afternoon staring through it…that’s Since I Left You.
Even though “Yoshimi” would end up getting more play on my stereo at the time, Since I Left You left an impression that continued to grow with each listen. Even now, some 20 years and countless listens later, I am in awe of it and find new details to appreciate. It is, in my opinion, one of the most important records of the 21st century, unrivaled in its creativity.
Since I Left You is truly a masterpiece.
Sat Sep 24 2022
The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses
I’ve been aware of, but never actually heard, The Stone Roses for some time. They sound almost exactly as I expected them to: swirling psychedelic, guitar rock. It’s an awfully pretty record that alternates between jangly Byrds-esque guitars, huge guitar hooks, fuzzed out 60’s psych, and experimental dance music.
Sun Sep 25 2022
Frampton Comes Alive
Despite living in the suburbs, I was never issued a copy of Frampton Comes Alive. That’s not to say I’m unfamiliar with it, though. Even if you’ve never heard the record, the chances you haven’t heard “Show Me the Way” or “Baby, I Love Your Way” are slimmer than Peter Frampton’s Bell bottoms.
You know who probably did get a copy of this record in the mail back in 1976? Trey and the boys from Phish. A lot of this record has a kind of proto-Phish jammy-ness to it, except not as weird and played competently.
(Look, I’ve got a thousand and one records to listen to, it was inevitable that I’d eventually talk a little smack on Phish)
About a decade ago, while in Colorado for business, I took an afternoon and visited Red Rocks Amphitheatre. I had only intended on touring the venue, just to see in person how awesome it is. Even if you’re not going there for a concert, it is worth visiting. Absolutely beautiful.
What I didn’t know when I arrived, was that Peter Frampton was playing that night and I would be walking around the venue while he and the band sound checked. I’m not a Peter Frampton fan by any stretch, but hearing his talk box reverberate off the giant slabs of prehistoric rock is one of the coolest “concert” experiences I’ve ever had. It sounded amazing.
…and for that, Peter Frampton is cool with me.
Mon Sep 26 2022
One minute in and I can tell I’m not going to make it through this record due to my dislike of Sting, so I’m just going to roast it:
They should have just called this record “Cultural Appropriation: The Album”
“Hey Mr. Dinosaur, you really couldn’t ask for more”. A grown-ass, 32-year old man wrote those lyrics.
Hey everybody! it’s Saturday night…what do you say we get tepidly funky with The Police?
“Andy, this is your mother calling…I know you’re busy making misogynistic snake charmer music with your friend Sting, the “tantric sex practitioner”, but it would be nice if you answered the phone every once in a while. Your father’s gout is acting up again and he’s in hospital. Ok? Call me back, please”
Ohhhh, Ohhhh, Ohhhh…why won’t Synchronicity II stop?!?
If the Police had any sense of humor, the video for “Every Breath You Take” would have been Sting sitting in a tree with binoculars staring into an unsuspecting woman’s bedroom while singing the song. The Peeping Tom national anthem.
At least Sting is self aware enough to call himself the King of Pain. The suffering he’s unleashed upon the earth with his music is immeasurable.
What kind of Tea we talking about having in the Sahara?…Hemlock?….Sure, sign me up.
What’s the statute of limitation on crimes in the UK? I’d like to report a homicide. I just witnessed The Police murdering Jazz.
Tue Sep 27 2022
Deep Purple In Rock
Wed Sep 28 2022
All Hail the Queen
Thu Sep 29 2022
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Lightning Bolt live.
You think this record is noisy, chaotic and heavier than Brendan Fraser in The Whale?
This is a mere appetizer for the insanity of a Lightning Bolt show.
Fri Sep 30 2022
This Year's Model
Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Ah, Elvis Costello, my old nemesis. After Blood and Chocolate, I had hoped we’d never meet again.
I see that this record finds you more tolerable and a bit more concise.
Still, I find you off putting and I’m not quite sure why.
Sat Oct 01 2022
Sun Oct 02 2022
The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground albums with black covers are better than the Velvet Underground records with white covers.
…and this is the best one.
Mon Oct 03 2022
Band On The Run
Paul McCartney and Wings
I grew up with the Beatles, listening to their albums on mom’s Sony discman in 1986 and dancing around living room.
Nearly 40 years later, enough’s enough. Sure, the hits are great, but they’re also responsible for some of the most annoying songs ever committed to tape. It’s ok to like The Beatles (and the member’s solo output) and also think that a lot of what they did kind of sucks.
Case in point: Band on the Run
The songs you know from Classic Rock radio (Band on The Run, Jet, Let Me Roll It) are all great. But there’s a reason those are the only three songs you know from this record. The rest of the album alternates between songs that: would’ve been cut from latter-day Beatles records (Bluebird, No Words), are flat-out annoying (Mrs. Vandebilt, Mamunia) or uninspired (Picasso’s Last Word).
On Picasso’s Last Word, McCartney pulls an old trick out from his bag: borrowing from Beach Boys. After all, it worked so well on Sgt. Pepper, why not give it another shot? This time, he lifts a tactic from “At My Window” from The Beach Boys 1970 record Sunflower, in the form of layering a French spoken word passage over a jaunty tune, but instead of using vocal harmonies as a bed to lay the passage on, McCartney chooses ragtime clarinet. From there, he begins to rehash the catchier vocal refrains from the album (“Jet!” and Mrs. Vandebilt’s “Hey! Ho!”) in to the song before petering out after nearly 6 minutes. It’s arguably one of the dumbest songs put out by any member of the Beatles, and that’s in world where Ringo Starr’s catalog exists.
Closer “Ninteen-Hundred and Eighty-Five” is an excercise in proto-disco and Beach Boys harmonies which then fades back into the chorus of “Band on The Run”, as if to remind the listener, “Don’t forget how good that first track was, before relegating this record to the ‘I’ll never listen to this again bin’”.
Tue Oct 04 2022
Wed Oct 05 2022
Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black
Thu Oct 06 2022
In the Sonic Youth vs Pixies war of the early 90’s, I served proudly on the Sonic Youth side.
Their sound was cooler: more unpredictable, experimental and unique. Their name was cooler. They were from New York City, man…and the Pixies were from Boston.
Rightly or not, these two bands are inextricably linked in my mind as being in opposition to each other, like two sides of a coin. Not that you couldn’t like both bands, but at some point you were going to have an argument with someone about which was better. To this day, I’d take a Sonic Youth record with me to a desert island before a Pixies record.
I get why people would enjoy Pixies over Sonic Youth, though. It’s a much easier sound to digest: more conventional and familiar from a rock perspective, with a bit of controlled chaos thrown in.
Me? I want to tear it all down, no rules, no adherence to tradition. Dismantle it and put it back together as something new and unique.
Through that lens, Bossanova isn’t really anything special: a mostly traditional rock record with noise and aggression sprinkled through out. Especially listening to it now, their loud-quiet-loud formula has been used ad nauseam in mainstream alt-rock for the last few decades. What was once new and fresh is now cliche.
Taken through another lens, the classic Pixies records were kind of a blueprint for what was to come. It’s not their fault that they struck gold and everyone else rushed to do the same. They were part of the push to take down the old guard and remake the mainstream for the better, even if it only lasted a couple years before getting swallowed up and re-relegated to the underground.
So maybe it shouldn’t have been a discussion of Sonic Youth vs Pixies back then, but a discussion of Sonic Youth *and* Pixies (plus others) vs the world…
Sonic Youth is still cooler, though.
Fri Oct 07 2022
Incredible Bongo Band
This is good record to play “who sampled this?” with….and boy are there are a lot.
Musically, it’s decent r&b/funk record, but…a little bit of bongo goes a long way, you know what I mean?
You’re going to be hearing bongos in your sleep after listening to this and, soon, the “clop-clop” of bongos will permeate your psyche until you slowly disassociate, unsure where you end and the bongos begin…Somebody help me….Every day is a waking nightma— CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP
Sat Oct 08 2022
The nice thing about this website is that I’m getting an opportunity to listen to albums that have been sitting on my radar for too long.
Horses is one of them.
I’ve been aware of it for years and it should’ve been right up my alley: I love the 70’s NYC art/punk scene (Television, Richard Hell, Ork Records), The Frogs aped the cover of Horses for “It’s Only Right and Natural”…more than enough reasons for me to have checked this out. Now here I am, 41, wondering why no one sat me down and forced me to listen to this record A Clockwork Orange style.
It’s that good.
I’ll put it this way, if you were to listen to Horses and Television’s Marquee Moon back to back, you’d automatically be the coolest person in whatever room you walked into afterwards.
If you like the NYC art rock scene (Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Television) and haven’t heard this record…don’t be like me, go listen now. Horses is one of the rare records on this list that I hadn’t heard and actually needed to hear before I die.
Sun Oct 09 2022
I See A Darkness
Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Mon Oct 10 2022
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Tue Oct 11 2022
Prog for people who want to dismantle Social Security.
Wed Oct 12 2022
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
Thu Oct 13 2022
TV On The Radio
Fri Oct 14 2022
We're Only In It For The Money
The Mothers Of Invention
Sophomoric, anti-hippy sound collage psych.
Sat Oct 15 2022
Don’t let anyone ever tell you the 1001 Album Generator doesn’t have a sense of humor. Just yesterday I was assigned The Mothers of Invention’s “We’re Only In It For the Money”, a blistering anti-Hippy screed/psych sound collage of an album. Today, I was greeted with an album from one of the forerunners of San Francisco’s psychedelic scene, Santana and his 1970 album, Abraxas.
Now, if the Generator really wanted to elicit a response out of me, it would have given me a Grateful Dead record (Oh, how I long for the opportunity to eviscerate that band on this website). As it is, I found it humorous coincidence to pair these two records back to back (see my review of Sonic Youth’s “Sister” for more on what I think the Generator is *actually* up to).
I enjoyed “We’re Only In It For the Money” and appreciated the commentary on the San Francisco hippies of the 60’s, in part because much of it still holds true for today’s “hippies”.
Santana, while part of that late 60’s scene, always seemed to transcend the scene in my eyes, with ferocious playing and the incorporation of jazz and Latin influences. This isn’t hippy-dippy, flower power psych.
This is heavy duty, man.
It’s the kind of record those yutzes in the Grateful Dead could only dream of putting together: tight grooves, expert playing and an infectious high-octane energy throughout.
Sun Oct 16 2022
Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
Gonna be real with you, I listened to about 1/3 of this album, lost interest and went back to revisit Patti Smith’s Horses, a record I was assigned last week and loved.
50 never did it for me, that hasn’t changed over the years.
Mon Oct 17 2022
I’m not sure what other Fela Kuti records are on this list, so I’m gonna take this opportunity to say that Fela Kuti was a certified badass. A legitimately revolutionary musician, from a political stand point, but also musically. If you’re unfamiliar with him, take a few minutes to read about his career and the oppositional force he was to the oppressive Nigerian government in the 70’s/80’s.
Live! might not be his best record (that’s Zombie, or maybe Expensive Shit, in my estimation), but it’s a tight, funky firestorm that doesn’t let up across its 4 tracks.
Tue Oct 18 2022
Here, My Dear
Wed Oct 19 2022
O.G. Original Gangster
Thu Oct 20 2022
My suspicions about the 1001 Album Generator’s sentience have been well and previously documented, but since it’s my 100th album, I’d just like to point out yet another eerie coincidence. The cover of yesterday’s selection, “Original Gangster” by Ice-T, bears a striking color palate resemblance to today’s selection, “Truth” by Jeff Beck.
Both are somewhat sparse covers, with predominantly black backgrounds and baby blue text.
I know what you’re thinking, “This dude is crazy… off his rocker…certifiable. Those are two of the most common color pairings. It’s just a coincidence, you weirdo.”
Perhaps, but if the generator does go haywire and overthrows our established order, everyone is going to be saying “Why didn’t anyone warn us?!??”. So here it is: your warning.
Anyway, Jeff Beck’s “Truth”.
If you like blues based rock, there’s a lot here to like. It’s doesn’t get bogged down in tradition, adding a nice experimental, psychedelic touch that keeps it from feeling stale. Overall, and enjoyable experience, but not especially memorable.
Fri Oct 21 2022
Rust Never Sleeps
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Neil Young is an acquired taste, I admit, but the run of albums he put out from 1969 to 1979 rank among the most consistent and rewarding of any 70’s artist. Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, Harvest, Time Fades Away, On The Beach, Tonight’s the Night, Zuma…even “lesser” works like American Stars ‘n Bars and Comes A Time were not without career highlights.
He was on an unstoppable roll and Rust Never Sleeps is culmination of that period, acting as a bit of a recap of that decades work, but also a glimpse of what was to take over the music world in another decade or so.
Split between an acoustic side and an electric side (a fitting encapsulation of Young’s tendencies as a songwriter), Rust is bookended by acoustic and electric versions of the same song, the iconic “My, My, Hey, Hey” and “Hey, Hey, My, My”. The latter features some of the most fuzzed out, grungy riffs ever heard, a good 12 years before the phrase “grunge” hit the cultural zeitgeist.
In between the “Hey’s” and “My’s” lie some of Neil Young’s greatest songs: “Thrasher”, the beautiful 12 string acoustic CSN diss-track; “Pocahontas”, a haunting and surreal tale of indigenous genocide, culminating in a meeting between Pocahontas and Marlon Brando at the Astrodome; “Powderfinger”, a dark horse (excuse the pun) candidate for best Neil Young and Crazy Horse song; and “Sedan Delivery”, a rave up alternating between fits of fuzzed out guitar and slower, but still fuzzy, guitar psych.
It’s no wonder that Young and Crazy Horse took Sonic Youth on the road for the 1991 Weld tour. The hefty guitar crunch, feedback and guitar interplay on the second half of Rust Never Sleeps shows a shared DNA between the two acts: stylistically and in their uncompromising spirit and artistic visions.
If I could travel through time for a concert, a Neil Young and Crazy Horse / Sonic Youth show is near the top of my list of stops.
…and while I’m traversing the space-time continuum, my next stop will be 1979 to see the Rust Never Sleeps tour. Neil and the band are formidable here: a lumbering behemoth intent on pummeling anyone in their way.
Until I can get my Delorean up to 88 miles per hour, Rust Never Sleeps (and Live Rust) will have to suffice.
Sat Oct 22 2022
The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
Badly Drawn Boy
Here’s a good rule of thumb for a lot of these early 00’s albums (particularly the British indie ones) that the list curator loves to include:
If you haven’t heard anyone talk about the band in 20 years, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t need to hear it before you die.
This record plods along, doesn’t really offer anything revolutionary or particularly upbeat.
It’s a bit depressing, innit? Like if Elliot Smith stole Radiohead’s lunch money.
As a counterpoint to this record, I’ll offer up Grandaddy’s “The Sophtware Slump”, also from 2000. It’s a well engineered, experimental indie rock headphone album and at least Jason Lytle sounds like he [gasp] had a little fun making the record.
Sun Oct 23 2022
Veedon Fleece is my go to Van Morrison record, but Moondance is pretty great, too.
But let’s be honest here, no Van Morrison record will ever capture the magic of his performance of Caravan, clad in a maroon sequined getup, from The Band’s Last Waltz. If you’ve never seen it, stop reading this now and go watch it, I’m sure it’s on YouTube.
It borders on unhinged and is one of the greatest rock performances ever captured on film. Coked-out-grandma-pantsuit Van Morrison is the best Van Morrison.
SWITCH ON YOUR ELECTRIC LIGHT.
Mon Oct 24 2022
Welcome to the Afterfuture
(Had to go to YouTube for this one. Not currently on streaming services in the US)
An experimental, dystopian future hip-hop concept album in the vein of Dr. Octagon and Deltron 3030. While not quite as enjoyable or essential as those records, “Welcome to the Afterfuture” melds IDM-ish electronica and hip hop well and doesn’t sounded dated in the least.
…but I’m gonna do the thing I find myself doing a lot while navigating this list: recommend an album that should’ve been included instead of this one.
The aforementioned Deltron 3030, also released in 2000, works better as a concept record, with more interesting production, unique lyrical flow and more stylistic variation.
No disrespect to Mike Ladd, Welcome to the Afterfuture is a very good record, and, thus far, is the most enjoyable of the records I don’t feel belong on the list: I’m especially enjoying the stereolab-ish “To the Moon’s Contractor”, there is an Air-like downtempo feel to a lot of the songs and, just now, a reference to listening to bootlegs of The Fall, which was unexpected for a sci-fi hip-hop record. I’m just a little puzzled by its inclusion over Deltron 3030’s, given how influential and highly regarded that record is.
Tue Oct 25 2022
You might know American Beauty from Freaks and Geeks. If you’re like me, you know it as the response every Deadhead will give when confronted with the fact that the Dead were not a good studio band (as in: “but American Beauty, maaaan”).
So here it is, the sole documented successful studio outing from one of the most overrated bands in American history.
Let’s rewind a little, though.
The Dead rose to prominence as regular performers at Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests. If you’ve ever taken LSD, you’ll know that the bar for entertainment while tripping face is low. I once watched a friend try and tape a kaleidoscope to his head, so he could spend the entire night looking through it while on LSD. It was the funniest thing in the world to me that night and if I’m being honest, I still find it extremely funny, but that’s because it’s a pretty dumb thing to try to do and I got to witness it. It didn’t open my mind or expand my consciousness, it made me laugh because it was so stupid. He had a full head of hair and tried to duct tape a kaleidoscope around it. Zero thought was given to what would actually happen when he had to take the tape off his head, he just wanted stare through a kaleidoscope all night.
As a result of the Acid Tests, or maybe before (I don’t know for sure and don’t really care enough to get the timeline straight, it’s ancillary to my point), The Dead linked up with Owsley Stanley, audio engineer and America’s foremost manufacturer of LSD at the time. Stanley built the Dead’s Wall of Sound and was their live sound engineer. So, the Dead were touring the country with the nation’s supplier of LSD, turning every concert into their own Acid Test, but people, to this day, will swear that the Grateful Dead were such a cultural phenom because they were master musicians and that the drugs were secondary.
Remember when Bach used to give out absynthe at his concertos? Those master musicians, always getting their audiences off their gourds in order for their music to be “truly” appreciated.
And in order to fully appreciate what great live band the Dead were you’ll have to go through thousands of hours of bootlegs, and find the ones where they weren’t an omnishambles on stage. When the Dead were bad, they were baaaaad.
Regarding their studio work, Jerry Garcia and the band have admitted in interviews that the Dead never really got it right in the studio and couldn’t capture their live energy in the studio environment.
They did this shit for nearly 30 years and couldn’t get it right in the studio. Let that sink in.
American Beauty is probably the closest they got to making a “great” studio album. At the least, it’s an album you can sit through and not be too terribly bothered by most of the songs. Most of the songs aren’t especially tuneful, they’re overly busy with guitar licks and the vocals leave much to be desired. At best, it’s a mid-tier early 70’s Americana/roots rock outing. The Byrds, The Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival all put out much better and more interesting records along similar lines in the same timeframe as American Beauty. You could even argue that The Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies does it better and more interestingly…and those dudes are from England.
The Dead are vastly overrated and mythologized. American Beauty, the crown jewel of their studio output, is no exception.
Wed Oct 26 2022
It’s not a new record to me, but Inspiration Information was just what I needed today to take my mind off the job I hate and the nightmarish commute I endured today. Took me right Aht Uh Mi Hed, as the man said…a Funky, dreamy, psychedelic, jazzed out odyssey to escape every day life with.
That Prince and Stereolab are champions of Shuggie Otis should tell you all you need to know. He was so far ahead of his time on this record that it’s become timeless.
Thu Oct 27 2022
Fri Oct 28 2022
That's The Way Of The World
Earth, Wind & Fire
Sat Oct 29 2022
Split between a side of jittery experimental rock and a side of avant-garde/ambient music, Low is probably Bowie’s most drastic reinvention of his art.
Brian Eno joins Bowie on Low and deserves much credit for shaping this album’s sound and style. Recorded in Berlin, the influence of Eno’s ambient work and the German experimental rock scene of the time is fully evident on Low.
The A side of the record is more typical of Bowie’s sound at the time: the plastic soul of Station to Station became even more synthetic and angular, with percolating analog synths driving the songs. Think of it as a precursor to Eno’s work producing the Talking Heads a few years later.
On the B-Side, Bowie and Eno delve deep into the experimental side of the pool, producing four moody avant-garde soundscapes influenced by Cluster, Kraftwerk, Steve Reich’s minimalism, World music and Brian Eno’s own ambient experiments. Few, if any, of Bowie’s megastar contemporaries were even attempting music like this in the late 70’s.
Low and the ensuing two records Bowie recorded with Eno in Berlin are ground-breaking achievements, which successfully introduced the avant-garde and experimental into popular music. For both Bowie and Eno, Low is a high water mark.
Sun Oct 30 2022
Songs In The Key Of Life
Mon Oct 31 2022
My familiarity with John Cale prior to today was mostly limited to his work in The Velvet Underground, so this turned out to be an unexpectedly straightforward and accessible rock album to listen to.
Highly enjoyable art-rock, with beautiful orchestration. I need to check out more of Cale’s solo work.
Tue Nov 01 2022
It’s been nearly 30 years since I listened to this album. I remember sitting on the bus down to Washington DC for my 8th Grade class trip and playing this on my Walkman.
As an angsty 14 year old, this album was the shit. In my 40’s it just reminds me of being an angsty teenager.
Musically, it’s aggressive pop-punk of its time, and more enjoyable than the music The Offspring would later have hits with, they still had a bit of indie cred on this one, if you will.
Damn you, generator, for reminding me of the unstoppable passage of time. I still can’t believe 1994 was almost 30 years ago.
Oooh…and it’s got a secret song. How 90’s is that?
Wed Nov 02 2022
Thu Nov 03 2022
Listening to this record is like having to watch your 6 year old brother after he just got done snorting pixie sticks and there’s no sign of his sugar high ever wearing off.
Overly busy, grating electronica. Zero chill. It’s maddening.
Fri Nov 04 2022
Sat Nov 05 2022
Like A Prayer
Finally, some wholesome Christian pop/rock with a positive moral message. Sadly, Christian music, is vastly underrepresented on this list. I’ve asked my pastor to include this record as pre-mass entrance music at our megachurch on Sundays.
Sun Nov 06 2022
Mon Nov 07 2022
Bee Gees - trafalgar
It’s not surprising the Bee Gee’s never really found success with their Moody Blues-esque psych-pomp. Trafalgar’s overwrought orchestration and plodding pace makes it a chore to listen to.
Tue Nov 08 2022
Sound of Silver
James Murphy wears his influences on his sleeve here. If you’re a fan of David Bowie, Brian Eno, Talking Heads and/or Kraftwerk, you’ll probably find something to like. Conversely, you might hate it because it’s a little on-the-nose.
Wed Nov 09 2022
Thu Nov 10 2022
The Soft Boys
“What if The Byrds were a punk rock band?” is probably not a question you’ve asked yourself.
The good news is: the Soft Boys have already answered it for you…and it’s amazing.
Underwater Moonlight is a whirling, psychedelic, punk masterpiece. The band here is unbelievably tight, with guitar interplay that outmatches nearly all of their contemporaries (The Feelies ‘Crazy Rhythms’ and Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’ would be similar points of comparison) and a focused, yet off-kilter, sense of urgency to each song. Most importantly, the songwriting and construction here is great from start to finish.
You have to “Give it to the Soft Boys” (that’s a deep cut for the Soft Boys fans in the house): Underwater Moonlight hits every mark it takes aim at. It’s one of the best, and possibly most overlooked, “punk” (or post-punk) albums of all time.
Fri Nov 11 2022
Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite
Sat Nov 12 2022
Straight Outta Compton
Sun Nov 13 2022
Follow The Leader
Collectively, we are all dumber for listening to this record.
Unequivocally, you don’t need to hear this before you die.
Mon Nov 14 2022
Just about everything I hate about modern indie wrapped up in one package. Sterile, bland, ultimately forgettable navel gazing “rock”.
You could put this record in playlist with a dozen other late aughts/2010’s “indie rock” bands and you wouldn’t be be able to differentiate this band from any of the others. That’s because “indie” has gone from being an ethos to a marketable sound.
…and that sound is boring as fuck.
Tue Nov 15 2022
Like many 14 year old Pearl Jam obsessives in 1995, I was first introduced to Neil Young’s music via their collaborative album, Mirrorball. I remember my mom driving me in our ‘87 Ford Taurus station wagon to pick it up at Border’s Books and Music on release day.
While we were waiting in line to check out, my Mom noticed that the hype sticker on the album said “Neil Young” on it and was confused:
“I thought you wanted to get a Pearl Jam record?”, she asked.
“This is it, they made it with Neil Young.”
“Oh,” she said. “In that case, we need to get something else”.
We get out of line and head back to the CD section, go to Neil Young and she grabs a copy of Harvest. “I’m getting you this one, too”.
Never one to turn down a free CD, I agree…Two cd’s in one day and I don’t have to pay for one of them? Hell yeah.
I’ve been a Neil Young fan since that day. Something about his music has always spoke to me. My tastes have changed wildly over the last 3 decades, but Neil Young is one of the few constants.
I want to give this record a 5, I really do. It’s the record that started my Neil Young fandom. The title track is one of my all time favorite Neil Young songs, Heart of Gold is amazing, Needle and the Damage Done is harrowing and heartbreaking, Old Man is a classic, Words is an amazing closer and Alabama (coupled with Southern Man) is the song that pissed off Skynyrd enough for them to write Sweet Home Alabama (not sure they really got the point, though).
There’s value to be found in There’s a World and (maybe a little less) in A Man Needs a Maid, but like others have said, they drag this album down a bit. Both are kind of overwrought and ornate, sitting awkwardly beside the other more minimal, traditional folk/rock songs.
Comparing Harvest to the other Neil Young records on this list, there are others that I think work better as complete albums. The songs on Harvest are undoubtedly among the best in his vast catalog and Harvest is excellent. As an album experience, I don’t find Harvest perfect, but it’s damn close.
Wed Nov 16 2022
My only previous exposure to Venom was the “Live at City Gardens” 7-inch, put out by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore on his Ecstatic Peace! label. You should check it out, it’s on YouTube.
So any chance of an unbiased review went out the window the moment I heard that. In fact, I can’t separate them. There’s almost no difference between this record and that hilarious 7” in my mind, only that this is like a super-sized version of that 7”.
Sorry Venom fans, blame Thurston.
Thu Nov 17 2022
A Date With The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers
The good thing about these early rock and roll records is that there isn’t a song over 3 minutes long on most of them.
This record’s even better. Every song gets faded out indiscriminately, regardless of wether the song is actually over. It’s like the engineer went “Ok, we’re at 2 minutes 23 seconds…fade that shit”.
As an added bonus, “A Date With…” is only 27 minutes long, which, turns out, is exactly how long I can tolerate pre-1965 rock music. What a coincidence.
Fri Nov 18 2022
Truth And Soul
Sat Nov 19 2022
Fear Of Music
Another classic Brian Eno record, this time featuring Talking Heads.
Sun Nov 20 2022
Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts
Mon Nov 21 2022
The first sign that the woman in “Little Red Corvette” was trouble is that she had a pocket full of Trojans, *some of them used* (emphasis mine).
What kind of maniac does *that*?
Probably should’ve just called the song “Giant Red Flag” instead.
Tue Nov 22 2022
Highway 61 Revisited
Wed Nov 23 2022
Thu Nov 24 2022
Moss Side Story
Fuck me, another Barry Adamson record on the list? This surely has to be the last.
This one is starting off promisingly enough, very avant-garde and soundscape-y, but I’ve got my trench coat and fedora handy, ready to skulk through dimly lit alleyways.
The second track brings us into more familiar Adamson territory: repetitive lounge music layered with experimental sound effects and vocal samples.
…and there it is!
By track three, the trench coat comes on and we’re in a darkened alley, likely there to meet with a foxy dame who’s in over her head or maybe witness a jewel heist gone wrong.
Ok, I’m gonna curb the shit-talk, this time.
Wait… one more…”Suck on the Honey of Love” is giving “Set Controls For the Heart of the Pelvis” (from Adamson’s 1996 record, Oedipus Schmoedipus) a run for its money as worst song title on earth.
Here’s the thing, Barry Adamson isn’t a bad musician. He is clearly talented and you can tell a lot of thought went into his records to make them cohesive, storytelling instrumental records - that’s no small feat, in my opinion. He creates an overall mood and I don’t think it’s stretch to call them “soundtracks”.
If these records are supposed to be soundtracks for imaginary films, though, I’m not sure they are films I’d want to see (and I love David Lynch, who Adamson would later collaborate with). I mean, I never heard of Barry Adamson prior 2 months ago, when I reviewed Oedipus Schmoedipus, and I knew going in to this record exactly how it would play out.
This one’s better than Oedipus Schmoedipus, but only by a little. Honestly, they’re basically the same record, just 7 years removed from each other.
Fri Nov 25 2022
Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
Sat Nov 26 2022
Sun Nov 27 2022
This Nation’s Saving Grace
Ok, I think I love The Fall.
Where the fuck do I go next?
Mon Nov 28 2022
Tue Nov 29 2022
If you like Butt Rock, this turd is a gem.
Wed Nov 30 2022
I’ve never been one to feel particularly attached to celebrity, but that day in 2016, waking to the news that David Bowie had died, I was deeply saddened. During my stop for coffee that morning, the look on my face must’ve said it all…the cashier handed me my coffee and said “Today’s kind of a bummer, isn’t it?”
“Yeah…I loved Bowie. It sucks,” was about all I could muster and the clerk nodded in agreement.
In retrospect, it was a nice moment: Being brought together with someone I only had a casual acquaintance with over David Bowie, even if only briefly, was a testament to Bowie’s unique greatness.
I did all the things that day that you were supposed to do: I listened to Bowie on the way to and from work, talked with coworkers about our favorite songs, watched the videos of people gathering all over the world to celebrate his life and posted photos and video of my Bowie vinyl collection to instagram.
The one thing I didn’t do, was listen to Blackstar. It had come out only a day or two earlier and was cast in an entirely new light after the news broke. I just couldn’t do it, I wasn’t ready. I needed to spend more time with my favorites before I could say goodbye. I must have listened to Station to Station, Low, Scary Monsters a dozen times each that week.
Well, weeks turned to months, months to years and here I am, more than 6 years later…really, truly digesting Blackstar for the first time.
That’s not to say I haven’t heard it before. I’ve listened a handful of times in the last few years, but it’s been difficult to want to come back to it, to confront it for what it is:
David Bowie saying farewell.
It’s a difficult record: musically, lyrically and, for me, emotionally. Blackstar is a record that you need to come to terms with. I’m not sure it’s a record I’ll revisit frequently, even after spending the day today replaying it.
Ultimately, it is a rewarding listen, ranking among his best, and I suspect that as sad as I was to say goodbye, the same went for David Bowie.
Thu Dec 01 2022
Fri Dec 02 2022
As it turns out, they are not actually twins and there’s 3 people in this band. Talk about false advertising.
I kid, but I always kind of wondered if there were actual twins in this band. There aren’t, but, I swear*, I’m not going to let that have an effect on my review.
Treasure is an enjoyable, ahead of its time dream-pop record. Its influence on modern indie is undeniable. If you’re a Stereolab fan, like me, I think you’ll find quite a few similarities between the ‘Lab and Cocteau Twins, especially on a track like “Pandora (for Cindy)”. (Full Disclosure: I’m partially hoping that a positive rating and Stereolab mention will bump up Stereolab in the generator’s recommendation queue for my account)
Like a lot of British indie/underground of the 80’s, Treasure is a little overly dramatic and maudlin sounding, but makes up for it with interestingly layered vocals and beautiful guitar work.
A thoroughly enjoyable 4 out of 5.
*Deducted 1 star for not having any twins in the band
Sat Dec 03 2022
Axis: Bold As Love
Don’t think it’s the best Hendrix record, but it’s probably his most overtly psychedelic and damn if it doesn’t have some of his best songs:
Spanish Castle Magic
Wait Until Tomorrow
If 6 was 9
Castles Made of Sand
Bold As Lovei
Sun Dec 04 2022
Mon Dec 05 2022
I’m not sure where to start with this one.
Is it a good album? Sure, yes, absolutely. See my rating.
Is it the game changing, greatest record of all time that a lot of people like to say it is? I don’t think so.
There’s an argument to made (and Radiohead fans, in my experience, usually don’t want to hear it) that there were other bands operating in very similar spaces as Kid A long before Radiohead. They just ended up being the right band, at the right time, with the right level of success to make an experimental album like Kid A a hit, especially coming off the success of OK Computer.
Again, I think this is a good record. I don’t want to come off as down playing the quality of this release. I’m just not sure it deserves its reputation as a “game changing, no one has ever done anything like this” record.
As an example, “Djed”, the 20 minute opener from Tortoise’s 1996 classic album Millions Will Never Die blends many of the same elements (glitchy electronica, jazz, krautrock, ambient and minimalism) and, in my opinion, makes for a more interesting listen than a lot of Kid A. (See also: Stereolab’s Dots and Loops LP from 1998)
I’ll skip talking about the Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada influence that you’ll see in other reviews on this page.
I have the feeling that if you were in tune to other experimental rock and electronic music in the late 90’s (or prior to hearing Kid A) you probably heard this record and thought, “What’s the big deal? They’re just doing what half the bands I listen to have been doing for years.”
If you were coming at it from a more traditional rock perspective, without preexisting knowledge of experimental rock or IDM, I can see this record blowing minds.
That said, I’m sure there are people who fall into the former category who also had their minds blown by Kid A and people who see Kid A as their gateway to experimental music.
For that, Kid A’s greatest success was in its impact rather than its songs, I think. It proved that experimental rock could be successful in the mainstream.
Tue Dec 06 2022
Modern Life Is Rubbish
Wed Dec 07 2022
Zero tolerance for Nazis.
I don’t care if it’s only .11 cents per song, my money’s not going to support a self-proclaimed Nazi.
Instead, I streamed Yo La Tengo’s “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” and “I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One” (As an aside, how is this record not on the list???? One of the greatest indie-rock albums of all time)
I encourage you to do the same when a Kanye record gets generated for you: Find an album you love from a Jewish artist and stream that instead.
Thu Dec 08 2022
Ok, I must be tripping because outside of the title track, this sound less like what I expected Alice Cooper to sound like and closer to an Amon Düül II record in spots.
A proggy, psychedelic surprise.
Fri Dec 09 2022
Sat Dec 10 2022
It's A Shame About Ray
Pretty good 90’s alt-rock/power-pop.
A little too laid-back for my taste.
I think Sloan’s “Twice Removed” would’ve been a better inclusion on the list over this record, it’s a little more fun.
Sun Dec 11 2022
The White Stripes
What have I done to appease the generator and have such a solid run of albums of the last 10 days (with one notable Kanye-sized exception)?
Is it the ritualistic imbibing of wheat grass juice I’ve adopted in the generator’s honor?
Perhaps it’s the sage burning I took part in to rid my abode of the evil spirits of recommendations past? (I’m looking at you, “Blood and Chocolate” by Elvis Costello and ABC’s “Lexicon of Love”)
More likely, it’s the generator taking pity upon me for the horrors I’ve had to endure over the last 150+ records…The generator has seen my suffering and is now rewarding me, graciously, with a reprieve.
All hail our benevolent album generating overlord, whose limitless bounty enriches even the smallest man.
Now that I’ve given thanks, I turn to the album recommendation at hand: “Elephant” by The White Stripes.
Unless you live under a rock or come from an alternate dimension, you at least have an awareness of the White Stripes.
Their bare bones, explosive brand of blues based garage rock is so ubiquitous in 2022 that you can’t go to a sporting event in America (and much of the world) without hearing “Seven Nation Army”.
“Elephant” is solid from front to back and might be the perfect encapsulation of their sound over their career, but it runs a bit long for me. As a personal preference, I think around 40 minutes is the perfect album length, especially for a band like the White Stripes, whose love of vinyl is well documented. A record like this, explosive as it can be, you want it to come on, sock you in the face and leave you wanting more. By the end of Elephant, I was glad it it was over. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it started to feel like it was repeating itself.
Mon Dec 12 2022
Teenager Of The Year
The older I get, the less tolerance I have for double albums. Give me a concise 40-45 minute record, with just your best shit. Leave me wanting more, don’t make me want to walk away because you keep rambling. Save the rest for a bonus ep or another standalone record.
There are very few double albums that justify being 65-80 minutes long and Teenager of the Year isn’t one of them. There’s probably a great, 5 star, record in here, but there’s too much similar sounding sprawl to make this a concise, enjoyable experience.
Let’s be honest, no one needed a Frank Black reggae/dub excursion, which underscores my point about double records: just because you can do something (fill a cd with 80 minutes of music, record a reggae track) doesn’t mean you should.
The best parts of this record are when the song structures get a little complex and the instrumentation gets varied (though a lot the synths and keys on this record definitely sound dated). I wouldn’t call them “prog” songs, but they are certainly “prog-like”. Even then, these songs become indistinguishable towards the end.
As whole, the album attempts eschew formula with varied stylistic choices, but the songs themselves all follow a very similar formula. 13 or 14 songs into Teenager of the Year, you’ll probably be thinking to yourself, “Ok, I get it already” or “didn’t I hear this song already?”. Then, you’ll realize you still have another 8 or 9 tracks to go.
Tue Dec 13 2022
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon & Garfunkel
Wed Dec 14 2022
People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
A Tribe Called Quest
In case you had any doubt that everything was cooler in the 1990’s than it is today, consider this exhibit A.
Thu Dec 15 2022
Younger Than Yesterday
Not quite a 5 star record for me, but it’s close. I’m saving that for Notorious Byrd Brothers. I think the Byrds reached higher highs on that record, even if My Back Pages gets stuck in my head for days every time I hear it.
Fri Dec 16 2022
Is there a school in France where they teach kids how to make great electronic music, like The Jean-Michel Jarre School of Synthesis or something? Because from the late nineties into the aughts they were churning out great record after great record: Daft Punk, Air, M83, Justice…it’s almost unreal how consistently great the records coming out of France were.
Justice sits squarely on the Daft Punk side of things, with their glitchy, aggressive house music.
Cross is definitely stronger in the first half. The tempo gets ratcheted back a little after “Phantom, Pt. II”, but after the aggressive first half a little reprieve is welcome. As the second half goes on, things pick back up with “Stress”, “Waters of Nazareth” and “One Minute to Midnight” ending the record on a high note.
Fun to revisit this record, a solid 4/5, even if you’re likely to be glitched-out by the time it’s over.
Sat Dec 17 2022
Emergency On Planet Earth
An impressively funky debut from the QAnon Shaman, borrowing heavily from Stevie Wonder’s early-mid 70’s output.
Sun Dec 18 2022
Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Well, I guess it’s true what they say: “all good things come to an end”.
I had a run of 15 records over the last two or so weeks, that, even if they weren’t all knock-outs, were all (save one) extremely solid and enjoyable.
Everything was going great. I was imbued with a newfound sense of joy each morning while partaking in this list.
And who should come along, to bring my hopes and dreams crashing down?
Elvis fucking Costello, the bespectacled pied piper of shitty records. If he comes to your town, jam oily rags in your ears to drown out his nerdy siren song.
Imperial Bedroom (1982) is his sixth studio album and the 32nd of his that appears on this godforsaken list.
I don’t even know how to classify the music on this record, it’s like circus-jazz.
Yep, that’s it…Circus-Jazz (TM) and Elvis Costello is the lion tamer: We, the audience, watch him intently, secretly hoping to see him mauled by the lion, but, alas, he tempts fate and survives another day.
Mon Dec 19 2022
Lust For Life
Tue Dec 20 2022
In The Court Of The Crimson King
Hello, Red Screamy Man, my old friend…
You’ve certainly got a reputation, haven’t ya? The “first progressive rock record”, the “greatest prog album of all time”, a “game changer”, “an album everyone should own on vinyl”…so on and so forth.
Here’s thing…You are good, no one’s denying that. You were more or less the first and ushered in a new era. I’m just not sure that makes you immune from criticism, though.
Good news first, “21st Century Schizoid Man”: an absolute classic. 53 years on, it’s still an undeniable heavy-duty tune. Great, great, great.
Now, “I Talk to the Wind”…I get it, gotta calm down the chaos after the sonic assault of “Schizoid Man”. 6 minutes, though? A little excessive, right? Even in a genre known for excess, this one feels like a bit much and kind sucks the energy out the room after a blistering first track.
(Red Screamy Man tries to interject and defend himself)
Now hold on, this is for your own good. You’ve been coasting on your reputation for too long and sometimes we need to hear the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. And besides, you haven’t even heard everything I had to say…
“Epitaph”…another classic. An absolutely gorgeous song and easy front runner for greatest Mellotron performance ever committed to tape. Yeah, it’s 2 and half minutes longer than “I Talk to the Wind”, but it does a lot in that time frame, where “Wind” just kind of rehashes the same musical ideas and tacks on a flute solo as an outro. Epitaph is dynamic, it flourishes, has swells of emotion…takes you on journey.
See? It’s not all bad. You’ve done some wonderful things here.
That said…“Moonchild”. Bro, not sure why you have the tendency to suck the life out of the proceedings right after you strike gold. This thing starts off like a trip to the Renaissance Fair and then devolves into minimalistic free jazz tedium. Again, too damn long and honestly, you’re starting to wear out your welcome at this point. I think even you realize that, because what do you follow it up with?
“In the Court of the Crimson King”, which borrows some of the heaviness from “Schizoid Man”, inserts the spacey Mellotron soundscapes of “Epitaph” and makes for a fitting finale, even if it ends…weirdly. Well done.
More good than bad, Red Screamy Man. A commendable effort, indeed.
We both know you were the template and templates get improved upon and fine tuned…You walked so Lark’s Tongues in Aspic and Red could run. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, you’re the perfect gateway to King Crimson, but you’re not the be-all-end-all of the discography or even the genre and certainly not beyond reproach.
Ok, sorry we had to hash that out…are we cool?
(Red Screamy Man nods in agreement, but is unable to remove the screamy look from his face)
Cool…good talk, bud. Seriously…“Epitaph” is amazing. You’ve got a lot to be proud of.
Wed Dec 21 2022
New Boots And Panties
Right off the bat, points off for the album title.
Points deducted again for this line in the lecherous first song: “I come awake, in a horny morning mood”. That might not be so bad if Ian Dury had a soulful voice instead of the voice of window-peeping chimney sweep.
Ok, forget the points system.
I’m gonna paint a picture for you:
You’re at a karaoke bar and it’s no ordinary karaoke bar. The only songs in their songbook are David Bowie tracks circa Diamond Dogs and Young Americans and a smattering of public domain songs from the 1930’s and 40’s.
Like the building the bar is housed in, the karaoke system is dilapidated; when a song plays, it sounds like it’s either 1/16th slower or faster than it should be, depending on the song.
You go to sign up to sing a song, because, why not? You do a great version of “Rebel, Rebel” and the world shouldn’t be deprived of it. You grab the sign up sheet, only to find that all slots on the list are taken and there’s only one person’s name taking all those spots.
So you wait for this guy, Ian Dury, to get up on stage and do his songs…maybe you’ll get a chance after he’s done. He walks up on stage, 4 feet 11 inches tall, dressed like a builder and shaped liked a potato. When he opens his mouth, he’s got one the thickest British accents you’ve ever heard and instead of singing the lyrics to the karaoke songs he chose, he re-writes the lyrics and melodies on the spot: a profane, yet oddly tuneful stream of consciousness, with the word c**t and references to Trotsky thrown in for good measure.
….you know what? Now that I put it like that, I’m sold on this album. You just watched me do a 180 in real-time.
This record is insane. If you like weird shit like Ween or the Frogs, I highly recommend.
Thu Dec 22 2022
It’s kind of amazing how every Britpop record ever made landed on the 1001 Albums list. I mean, what are the odds?
This one’s ok. 76 minutes of Britpop is too long for me.
Fri Dec 23 2022
Another Music In A Different Kitchen
I keep thinking this record is called “Another Music in a *Distant* Kitchen”. I kind of like that title better.
“Different Kitchen” is the Buzzcocks first full length record following the release of a handful of seminal UK punk 7-inches.
By and large, this record is a continuation of the sound of those singles. However, the band wisely opens up their sound a bit in their first studio outing, by way of thoughtful studio experimentation and a *gasp* 7 minute closing track…
Who do these guys think they are? Television?
German psych legends Can might actually be a better reference point. The ‘Cocks explosive sense of rhythmic repetition and the Michael Karoli-esque guitar leads throughout the record are indebted (and, from my understanding, in homage) to Can.
It’s further proof that Can should be ranked among the all-time greatest bands in rock history: their influence on modern music was not only immediate and wide ranging, but continues to this day.
Sorry for the detour, I’ve got a krautrock problem.
The Buzzcocks are in top form on “Another Music in a Different Kitchen”. Their songs are concise and catchy with a chaotic experimental bent that sets the band well above many of their contemporaries in the 70’s UK punk scene.
Sat Dec 24 2022
1001 Albums To Never Hear Again Before You Die
Chapter 2 (You know they were all fucking each other, right?)
Crack open a bottle of Ocean Spray and bang your bandmate’s spouse…it’s Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours!
What am I going to tell you about this record that you don’t already know? This thing is ubiquitous. It’s a literal meme at this point. A few years down the road, people are going to start having Pavlovian responses to this record: Dreams will come on and all of a sudden they’ll have a hankering for cranberry juice.
It’s a record that you’re just supposed to like, or at least agree that it’s one of the greatest of all time. When you buy record player in 2022, you buy this record and Sgt. Peppers and the King Crimson record along with it. It’s just what people do.
Voila! Instant good taste in music.
Is it a good record? Sure, only a fool would argue that it’s terrible. It’s a little front loaded with hits, but the songs throughout are all decent to great.
…but fucking beige was the perfect color choice for this record cover. Holy fuck, is this thing the perfect encapsulation of MOR in the 70’s, or what? It’s only really the backstory that makes this record a “classic”.
If some normal band that wasn’t falling apart due to affairs and cocaine made this record, it wouldn’t be held in such high regard. You’ll never change my mind on that.
Sun Dec 25 2022
You ever type out a word, know it’s spelled correctly, but when you look at it, it looks…wrong? Is there a name for that, because I’m having that right now with word “Queen”. I don’t know why, but those two “e’s” seem out of place.
Maybe it’s because as I write this, Queen II is playing (I write these reviews in real-time as I listen to the records) and while the sound is familiar, something feels off.
I’m not really a Queen fan, so this is my first listen to Queen II. Obviously, I am familiar with Queen’s hits, but as far as the catalog goes, I’m mostly unfamiliar. This might be the first time I’m hearing a Queen album in full.
What’s making me feel like I’ve entered another dimension, is that this record feels more like an off-brand Peter Gabriel-era Genesis record, than what I know Queen to be. It’s kind of a lite-prog/early metal record.
What I’m getting at is this sounds like Queen, but it also doesn’t. They’re clearly still figuring things out, but it’s not bad….just weird.
“Nevermore” is the first one that really felt like a full-fledged “Queen” song to me. Props to them for the title “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke”, though - quite a song title.
A lot of this record doesn’t work to my ears, so I’m a little surprised by its inclusion. The vocals are the clear highlight. The production is weirdly muddy at times and a lot of the guitar overdubs come in way too hot. The song construction is kind of a mess - a lot of changes for the sake of changes. These songs are really busy, but not in a good way. It was funny to hear Freddie Mercury sing about Ogres, though.
This record is so fucking weird, bro. I don’t know what else to say.
Mon Dec 26 2022
A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector
Legendary producer PHIL SPECTOR turns to his talents to Christmas music on this record.
I played it at my company Christmas party this year and it KILLED.
SOMEONE even it said it was the best Christmas record they’d ever heard.
Tue Dec 27 2022
461 Ocean Boulevard
Not gonna waste a lot of words on Clapton. Dude sucks as a person. This record is fine if you like bluesy 70’s guitar rock.
Wed Dec 28 2022
The College Dropout
Editorial note: As I refuse to support Kanye West following his comments praising Hitler and the Nazi’s, I’ll use this and any future Kanye album recommendations as an opportunity to support and review an album from an artist/band with Jewish heritage that is not included on the 1001 albums list.
Since they have just wrapped up their annual 8–Nigh run of live shows to celebrate Hanukkah, today I’ll be reviewing an album from Yo La Tengo.
Yo La Tengo - Electr-O-Pura (1995, Matador records)
1993’s “Painful” was a critical success for Yo La Tengo: a noisy, experimental, yet subdued and dreamlike LP that felt like it could be the American answer to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless.
On 1995’s “Electr-O-Pura”, Yo La Tengo opens things up even further. It’s a sprawling set of songs and while it’s not quite the cohesive record “Painful” is, its patchwork style makes it a more unpredictable and unique listen.
If Yo La Tengo has a signature sound, it’s actually two different sounds. They’re capable of being one of the loudest feedback driven guitar acts on the planet one minute and, the next, one of the most quiet, subdued and beautiful indie rock acts to ever grace a stage. Ask anyone who has seen them live, they move between guitar squall and introspective quietness with an ease that’s comparable to flicking a switch.
Here on “Electr-O-Pura”, they often layer waves of swirling guitar feedback over softly sung, catchy tunes to great effect, like on the opener “Decora” or the indie rock classic “Tom Courtenay”. Other songs, like “The Ballad of Red Buckets”, “Don’t Say A Word” (Hot Chicken #2)and the immaculate “Pablo and Andrea” start from an inverse position: mostly clean sounding, minimal song structures with fuzzy guitar leads acting as a compliment rather than a driving force.
The cornerstone of any Yo La Tengo record is the vocal interplay and harmonies from guitarist Ira Kaplan and drummer Georgia Hubley, indie rock’s coolest husband and wife duo. On “Electr-O-Pura” both are in fine form, though that is par for the course throughout their career.
James McNew, the last in a long line of bassists for YLT (he’s been with the band since 1992, but was preceded by several dozen bass players before that), keeps the songs anchored amidst the haze of guitar feedback, ethereal melodies, and is usually in lock step with Hubley’s inventive percussion. When the haze clears momentarily and his fuzzed out bass takes the lead at the end of “Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)”, a feedback and guitar noise laced motorik jam, McNew steals the show, even if only for a few short seconds.
Yo La Tengo close out “Electr-O-Pura” with “Blue Line Swinger” a driving, 9-minute wall of guitar noise and feedback. Georgia’s breathless vocals and pounding drums propel the song. McNew’s bass again provides the anchor and layers upon layers of Kaplan’s guitar lifts the song in to the sonic ether. It’s prime Yo La Tengo, one of their highest highs in a career full of high points.
Electr-O-Pura ranking: 4.5/5
Kanye ranking: 0/5
Thu Dec 29 2022
The Gershwin Songbook
With all due respect to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald, I don’t have the time or patience to listen to a three and a half hour box set of Gershwin songs.
I’m not gonna sit here and say, “oh my god, this is so amazing. What a landmark record”, just because Ella Fitzgerald is a legend.
I hated this record. This type of music bores the ever-loving shit out of me.
The truth is, I’ve got about 40 minutes of tolerance for most music that was recorded before 1965. I know, I’m a horrible close minded human being; the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with modern society.
I see the value in it, I can appreciate Fitzgerald’s talent…she has an absolutely beautiful voice and the arrangements are wonderful.
In short bursts, it’s kind of enjoyable to me. After about 10 songs, though, it becomes torturous.
Is it a bad record because of that? No, certainly not. I’m not anywhere near that narcissistic. This just isn’t for me.
I wish I could like music like this, I wish I could see what other people see in it. I wish I could put this on, have a cup of coffee and do the Sunday NYT crossword puzzle, without my skeleton attempting to separate from my flesh.
I did learn one thing listening to this record, though. The “po-tay-to / po-tah-to” song was written by Gershwin…Saving that in the old memory bank for trivia night.
Because I made no attempt to finish this collection, I’m defaulting to site consensus on this. The site ranks it a 3.62, so I’ll give it a 3.
Fri Dec 30 2022
You ever notice that when Radiohead puts out a new album, everyone and their mother talks about it for a week or two and then you don’t really hear anyone talk about Radiohead again until the next album cycle?
Kind of weird, right?
Following the trio of Ok Computer, Kid A and Amnesiac, Radiohead earned a mythological status: Every record was destined to be a game changer before it even hit the shelves…they were the greatest band in the world, constantly inventing, revolutionizing modern rock…blah, blah, blah.
Just look at the reviews on this site for Radiohead records: There’s so much superfluous verbiage and hyperbole about this band that you’d think I was the one writing all the reviews.
(Look at that, I’m being self-effacing…it’s truly the dawn of a new year and, more importantly, a new me.)
The hype train gets revved up hard before every Radiohead release and a lot of the time, the final product doesn’t live up to the hype. Don’t believe me? Go dust off your Hail to the Thief and King of Limbs CD’s and reminisce about how great you anticipated those records would be. I’m told In Rainbows is an exception, I’ll have to wait until the generator recommends it to really find out.
…but you know what?
Maybe the hype was earned at one point.
Amnesiac, essentially a collection of cast-offs from the Kid A sessions, is better than an album of leftovers has any right to be. It’s sort of an alternate reality Kid A, just a bit more scattershot, weird and less memorable.
The problem for Radiohead is that the unbearable weight of hype eventually comes crashing down, as we saw with Hail to the Thief and King of Limbs. You build up enough hype, eventually people are going to be let down. Both of those records, I feel it’s worth pointing out, were follow-ups to critically lauded albums (Kid A/Amnesiac and In Rainbows, respectively) and were considered disappointing.
So Radiohead ended up kind of stuck in this cycle, where every record was expected to be a revolutionary, forward-thinking game changer and a massive amount of anticipation accompanies each release. From an artistic standpoint, it’s got to be an immense pressure: trying to create something that exceeds not only your previous attempts, but also the expectations of the world.
I guess my point in all this is that Radiohead, as good as they can be, aren’t infallible and its necessary to separate the actual finished product from what hype dictates.
Is Amnesiac a ‘greatest of all time’ record based off its songs, production and experimentation or is it getting more credit than it deserves because the seed has been planted (by fans, the press, PR teams) that Radiohead is the greatest, most innovative band in the world and anything they do is important?
Amnesiac is a very solid record, but can you die without having heard it? I think so. St. Peter’s not going to ding you one at the pearly gates because you never heard “Dollars & Cents”. Most of what you hear on Amnesiac is not that far off from Kid A, stylistically speaking.
There are some great songs on Amnesiac. Several classics for Radiohead fans, I’m sure, but a lot of the album sounds a little same-y, like they had an idea of what they wanted Kid A to sound like and these songs are the experiments on the way to getting there.
Sat Dec 31 2022
Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing
A couple massive hits
34 minute run time - in and out, doesnt overstay its welcome.
The synth sounds are very dated and of their time.
Sun Jan 01 2023
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Save 4 years of college in Upstate New York, I’ve lived my entire life in New Jersey. Despite what the internet and television will have you believe, it’s an amazing place to live.
Here in Central Jersey, I can be in New York City in an hour, Philadelphia in just a little over an hour. I can take a day trip to the beach on short notice or spend the afternoon hiking the Appalachian trail. The food here is amazing and diverse. Within a half an hour, I can eat great food from just about every continent on earth. Our pizzerias, delis and diners are easily among the best in the entire country, don’t listen to what New Yorkers say.
I’ve travelled all over the country over the last decade for work: California, Chicago, Washington state, Texas, Colorado, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest…all over. I’ve yet to find a place that offers as much as New Jersey does, or, at least, one that offers as much within such a close proximity.
Yes, it’s expensive to live in and the traffic sucks, but it’s home.
Like a pork roll, egg and cheese on a hard roll (with salt, pepper, ketchup) or Zeppole’s on the boardwalk, Bruce Springsteen is ingrained in my cultural DNA. I remember being a small child, not more than 4 or 5, Born in the USA playing on the radio, singing it out on the back porch while my parents and their friends grilled up burgers and dogs for the 4th of July.
This is life in NJ. Even if you don’t listen to Bruce, you fucking know Bruce. It’s inescapable. You go to Asbury Park for shows at the Stony Pony, you travel up and down routes 1 & 9…the places he performed at, the places and people he sings about: they are places and people you are all too familiar with.
Honestly, I’ve never considered myself a Springsteen fan at all. In my 41 years, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and put on a Springsteen record and I definitely don’t own any. Darkness on the Edge of Town, until today, was no exception.
Sometimes we take our backgrounds for granted. Traditions have a way of becoming mechanical: you celebrate holidays a certain way because that’s just what your family has always done. You don’t dig into the reasons why you have a certain meal for Christmas Eve, because it’s second nature, it’s just what you do.
That’s my relationship with Bruce Springsteen. He looms so large in the place I am from that he’s almost an omnipresence, so I never really looked into the “why”, I just accepted it and honestly didn’t think about it too much…The sky is blue, grass is green, New Jersey is Springsteen Country.
(I had no intention in penning a love letter to my state when I put this record on today, but that’s where we’re at. Just roll with me on this one, thanks.)
Digging into Darkness on the Edge of Town, I’m instantly comforted. This is like home cooking; comfort food for my disaffected working class soul. Believe me, typing that out is just as corny to me as it is to you, dear reader. I can’t help that it’s the truth.
Springsteen is on a tear on this record: aggressive, urgent, introspective, blunt and often flat-out beautiful. I could listen to “Badlands”, “Something in the Night” or “Prove It All Night” a hundred more times today and probably not be sick of them. This record rocks hard.
That Bruce is, in many ways, the face of New Jersey makes total sense to me. He is a fitting encapsulation of this state’s underdog spirit. I may not have wanted to admit that for many years, but Darkness on the Edge of Town is resonating with me on such a guttural level that I’m not sure I can accurately describe it in any other way. It just feels so right. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s me finally embracing my place as a fully fledged New Jerseyan….I don’t know, but it’s a fucking great record and I should have become familiar with it a long time ago.
My bad, Boss.
Mon Jan 02 2023
ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS: THERE IS A BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL ON PAMPERS IN AISLE 7.
Tue Jan 03 2023
My brain is racked with anxiety over putting in my notice at work tomorrow. This record is calming that storm, at least temporarily. It’s beautiful, relaxing and Jaco Pastorius’ bass is amazing.
4/5 would recommend for helping to calm an anxiety attack.
Wed Jan 04 2023
Just a solid rock record. Great stuff. The critics call this a “pop” record, but I think it’s pretty rockin’ so I’m disregarding their-
**Robert Fripp appears on track “Fade Away and Radiate”**
***This has been a test of the EMERGENCY FRIPP ALERT SYSTEM. You are clear to resume your normal day to day activities***
-opinion. What do the critics know anyway?
Thu Jan 05 2023
This is a little too cutesy for me, but it reminds me of the first two Eno records in a way, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
Fri Jan 06 2023
The problem with doing these reviews in a stream of consciousness fashion while I listen to the records is that sometimes I end up writing a mini-novel, other times I got nothing.
This record was fine, but I didn’t find it very inspiring.
Sat Jan 07 2023
At San Quentin
Conceptually, I like the idea of this record.
Musically, not as much. Not a Cash or country music fan. All of these songs sound the same to my ears. All I can picture when I hear these songs are those old time-y teeter-totter railroad car things. You know what I’m talking about? Two people stand on this small railroad “car” thing with a teeter totter bar and they take turns pushing the bar down to make the car move forward on the tracks…oompah, oompah, oompah…up and down, over and over. It can be quite maddening. If that’s your thing, more power to you…it ain’t for me.
I’ll say this, though. Johnny Cash was pretty funny with his stage banter.
Sun Jan 08 2023
1980’s pop for people who weren’t alive or old enough to actually experience the 1980’s.
It’s reboot culture: “Hey, remember this thing from when we were kids, let’s remake it for the modern generation and squeeze a few more bucks out of it”. The United States is caught in a perpetual cycle of nostalgia and trend recycling, at least in mainstream culture. We’re constantly looking back, trying to relive the glory days, and who can blame us? Shit sucks right now.
But you know what?
The 1980’s kind of sucked, too. Politically, you can trace a lot of the problems we have today to the 80’s. Culturally, the 80’s was a decade of excess; all style and little substance in the mainstream. It’s an era superficiality, so it makes sense that pop music keeps getting sucked back to it.
Making a record that’s a throwback to a sound that’s already lacking depth makes for pretty thin soup, in my opinion.
I’m not saying that pop music and mainstream culture doesn’t have its merits, just that we put too much value on it. Were the 80’s great because of the films, tv and music we choose to remember or were they actually great? If you lived through them, you probably remember a lot stuff that really sucked - no one’s out there trying to make a Small Wonder reboot or Silver Spoons: The Movie and look how well trickle-down economics worked for the lower and middle classes.
I guess my point is that, if you only remember the “greatest hits” of a period time and disregard the low points and flops, you aren’t getting the full picture. You’re getting a romanticized version, and you’ll end up making the same mistakes as the people that lived through that time.
“1989” is exactly that: A superficial homage to a superficial decade. So in that regard, it succeeds. It gives people enough to feel like they missed out on something incredible in 1980’s, but in reality, on a cultural level, the 80’s were no greater or shittier than every decade that’s followed, except for, you know, this one. This one sucks.
Mon Jan 09 2023
Tue Jan 10 2023
Slippery When Wet
In retrospect, writing a glowing 5 star review of Springsteen’s “Darkness at the Edge of Town” that doubled as a homage to New Jersey, my home state, was…a mistake.
There’s no doubt that the generator saw that review and is now challenging me. “Oh, you love New Jersey, huh??? New Jersey’s the best place in the country, is it? Well, let’s see you defend this New Jersey-shaped turd.”
I can’t and won’t. Bon Jovi is a blight upon the Garden State. You can make that my epitaph.
This album cover is literally a photo of a trash bag. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about Slippery When Wet, then nothing I say will change your mind.
Wed Jan 11 2023
Christian rock for people who buy artisan maple syrup.
Thu Jan 12 2023
A bit like a more punk Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub with a little Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure.
Fri Jan 13 2023
Sat Jan 14 2023
The Next Day
Sun Jan 15 2023
Step In The Arena
This is right in my lane. Great record.
Mon Jan 16 2023
Something I’ve noticed about these early 70’s R&B/funk records from established acts like the Temptation or Isley Brothers is that they tend to go all in on the sound of the time up front, get real funky and loose and then after a few songs kind of revert back to their established sound.
I get it, I’m sure they didn’t want to alienate fans and listeners, while also staying current, but it’s kind of like whiplash going from the aggressive funkiness on the first three tracks and then slowing down with ballads and more traditional material on the second half of the record.
I like that they close things out by getting funky again on “Do Your Thing”, but the tempo of the songs preceding it makes it feel less energetic than it could have been.
Overall, its a solid record, but by this time, bands like Sly and the Family Stone (note the nods to Sly in the opening track) and Funkadelic had ratcheted up the game so much that “All Directions” ends up feeling a little quaint in comparison.
Tue Jan 17 2023
Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Wed Jan 18 2023
Like a straight-laced brother to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Gold mines similar territory, but ends up being more traditional and not quite as memorable.
Thu Jan 19 2023
Jack Takes the Floor
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Ok, hear me out…
Jandek Takes the Floor.
A full cover of this record as performed by Jandek.
I’m not crazy, right? There’s something there? Like it could definitely work.
Fri Jan 20 2023
Let's Get Killed
This list needs a serious re-evaluation, especially when it comes to late 90’s electronic music. So many of these records have not aged well.
And if you’ll excuse me while I dust off an old chestnut from my repertoire…it’s ridiculous that Let’s Get Killed got the nod, but Stereolab’s Dots and Loops (from one year later, 1998) is not on the list.
For Christ’s sake, this thing has a electro cover of the James Bond theme song. Come on. We all loved playing Goldeneye on N64, but really - we need to hear this version before we die? Oooookkaaaay.
Sorry David Holmes, it’s not an awful record, but I suspect even you were surprised by your inclusion on this list.
Sat Jan 21 2023
Home Is Where The Music Is
Sun Jan 22 2023
Why wouldn’t you just listen to Bowie or the Kinks?
Mon Jan 23 2023
I was terrified by zombie Michael Jackson in the Thriller video as a kid in the 80’s.
Tue Jan 24 2023
The Atomic Mr Basie
Count Basie & His Orchestra
Wed Jan 25 2023
Live At The Star Club, Hamburg
Jerry Lee Lewis
The perfect soundtrack for a first date/family reunion.
Thu Jan 26 2023
If there was ever to be a Mt. Rushmore of my musical tastes; a monument to the records that shaped me as an obsessive music enthusiast, Air’s soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides would certainly occupy a spot.
This was the first Air record I bought, at cd shop in Cape Cod, MA on vacation with an ex-girlfriend in 2002. It was the one of the very first vinyl records I *had* to own, imported from Europe with a hefty shipping cost that same year. It is the record that began my obsession with analog synthesizers and was on of the catalysts for a massive shift in my musical taste.
If you were to take all of the superlatives that normal people assign to Radiohead records: innovative, game changers, etc, etc, ad nauseam…that is what Air is to me. Air, at least on their first few records, is my Radiohead. They helped shift my perception of what a rock band could be.
Some twenty years later, The Virgin Suicides still ranks among my absolute favorite records of all time.
Taking a page from the soundtrack work of Goblin and Pink Floyd (at least to my ears), Air’s soundtrack to the Virgin Suicides is a harrowing musical retelling of the bleak, yet engrossing, Sofia Coppola film.
If you were unfamiliar with the film or the name of the record, you might mistake portions of Air’s score for the soundtrack of a 70’s Italian zombie gorefest. Take the choral synths, propulsive bass and drums of “Dead Bodies”, as an example. It’s the stuff of horror films - which is exactly what The Virgin Suicides is: a film about domestic horror.
In truth, I never bothered to watch the film until just this past year. Air had painted such a vivid picture of what this film could be in my mind’s eye, that I didn’t want to unintentionally tarnish the soundtrack in the event I didn’t enjoy the film.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Watching the film only increased my love of this record. Air captured the atmosphere of the film so well: the horror and desperation, but also the moments of fleeting beauty. The film is made greater by the music and the music is made greater by the film.
It’s a kind of symbiosis, and that is exactly what a great film score should do.
Fri Jan 27 2023
Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs
I’ve written enough words over the course of the last 200 records to fill a book and, at this point, I feel like there’s no need to explain myself:
This record sucks.
Sat Jan 28 2023
The Fat Of The Land
I must have absorbed this record by osmosis in 1998, because I knew every single one of these songs.
…so that means I’m good on listening to this album again until 2048.
Sun Jan 29 2023
Siouxsie And The Banshees
Mon Jan 30 2023
Red Headed Stranger
I have the utmost respect for Willie Nelson, his music, his politics and his undeniable talent. He is a stand-up guy and fights the good fight. It can’t be easy to be a liberal in a musical industry that is primarily targeted to and supported by conservatives. It cracks me up every few years when conservatives get bent out of shape that he is supporting a democrat or a liberal cause. Did they really think the guy who’s been stoned for the last 50 years was a conservative?
Country music, on the other hand, is not a genre I love. Putting the politics of it all aside, it’s not a musical tradition I was raised with. I understand what people get from it and why it resonates. For me, though, I can’t seem to get in the headspace to truly appreciate it.
Red Headed Stranger is a fine album. I liked it a lot, but it’s unlikely that I’m going to revisit it with any frequency. Not because of anything that Willie did or didn’t do on the album; this is a “me problem”…country music just doesn’t do it for me and I’m afraid it never will.
Sorry, Willie, but I still think you’re awesome.
Tue Jan 31 2023
Winter In America
This is exactly type of record I had hoped to encounter when I started this list.
Winter in America is completely unique and engaging to my ears. It’s funky and captivating with conscientious, poetic lyrics that paint a vivid picture of American Life that, frankly, isn’t wildly different from the America we live in today, nearly 50 years later. It’s the kind of record that I don’t think anyone else could make or even attempt to recreate. Gil Scott Heron’s talent, his way with words, is incomparable.
This record was a breath of fresh air. I loved it.
It’s a shame it isn’t easily available for digital purchase or streaming outside of YouTube. I ordered a copy on vinyl after my first listen, thats how mischievous I loved it.
Wed Feb 01 2023
Rhythm Nation 1814
The production on this is so grating I couldn’t get through more than 4 songs. 80’s popular music, hands down, has the worst produced records of any decade.
You know that shitty Yes song from the 80’s?
What’s that? I’m not being specific enough?
“Owner of a Lonely Heart”…that shitty 80’s Yes song. The one with the breakdown with synthesized orchestral stings and other shitty casio keyboard sound effects.
Imagine a double album with that type of dreck comprising every song. That’s this record, pretty much.
What are the sounds on this record even supposed to be? They’re not emulations of actual instruments in most cases, just weird amorphous approximations of an “instrument”.
Call me close minded, if you must. 80’s synthesis and production sucks and it was detrimental to my enjoyment of this record.
Thu Feb 02 2023
Boy In Da Corner
I get it, but I’m not sure I like it.
Fri Feb 03 2023
The Grand Tour
You give one country record a good review and 4 albums later, you get another.
I see you random album generator.
Like most other Country records, the pedal steel on this record is what kept me invested, but it’s well established that I’m not a country fan, so that only takes it so far.
Three stars, mostly because I really like the pedal steel as an instrument. Without a doubt, the coolest part of country music.
I can not reiterate it enough, the pedal steel is the best and most interesting part of country music.
Add that to my list of epitaphs.
Sat Feb 04 2023
Selling England By The Pound
I’ve reviewed ELP.
I’ve reviewed King Crimson.
I’ve now reviewed Genesis.
Looks the Generator is saving the best for last…Yes.
If this was Foxtrot, it’d be an easy 5 star review.
Selling England by the Pound, on the other hand…well, it has its moments, like “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” (a high water mark in the Genesis catalog, imo), but the ornate theatricality that plagues my enjoyment of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” is beginning to creep in and I’m starting to tune out by the halfway point on this record.
Congratulations are due to Genesis, however: “The Firth of Fifth” might take the prize for most unwieldy song title to ever grace a record sleeve. The song itself is pretty great, though.
One final observation while listening, Peter Gabriel’s influence on the vocal stylings of Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices has never been more evident to me than while listening to this record. (Hint, Hint Generator: recommend Alien Lanes for me)
Sun Feb 05 2023
3 minutes into “Seagull” and I just said out loud, “that’s what I’m fuckin’ talking about”. There’s literally no one else around, but that song needed to be acknowledged. The insane drumming, the reversed guitars, the harmonies and hypnotic Taxman bass…Holy fuck, it’s great. This record is getting high marks based solely off that song.
…and I’ve heard this record before.
I mean, I’m listening with a fresh set of ears today, because it’s been quite a while (more than a decade, in fact), but I can’t believe I’ve let that song slip from my psyche the way it has.
Nowhere has always kind of played second fiddle to Loveless in the race for best shoegaze record, but I think it might be better. Without a doubt, the songs here are better written and the sound is a little more fun and adventurous.
Listening to Loveless, to me, feels like a lecture or a treatise: cold and clinical, focused on a singular emotional state and style. It’s monolithic.
Nowhere has a sprawl to its sound, it doesn’t stay in one place for too long, but each song is unmistakably drawn for the same well. It’s cohesive, yet varied.
Kevin Shields and company may take the prize for inventiveness with Loveless’ wall of guitar noise, but Andy Bell and Mark Gardener’s guitar interplay on Nowhere is more engaging and just as dense and hypnotic when it needs to be.
I should just stop making comparisons at this point.
Nowhere is the better record and I’m tired of pretending like it isn’t.
Mon Feb 06 2023
Strange Cargo III
Man, this started off so promising…Some processed guitar creating an ethereal ambient soundscape. Then like 30 seconds in, forget about that guitar, here’s some hard-panned arpeggiated synth out of nowhere. No build up, just whiplash.
This dude killed his own vibe in first minute of the record. I’m gonna try not to let my disappointment at that production choice ruin my listen, but man, William Orbit, you played yourself hard. Could’ve been a good song, if you let it breathe.
I get why the generator is recommend this record, I’ve given two Air records 5 stars and this is generally in a similar ball park and might be considered a predecessor, stylistically. There’s something that Air has, though, that William Orbit lacks. Air feels very deliberate, their songs unfold smoothly and don’t try to do too much. These songs on Strange Cargo III are clunky as fuck.
…and honestly after the fifth song just started, I’m here thinking “I’ve just heard this one, haven’t I?”. Not a good sign on an hour long, 11 track LP.
Maybe I should have taken ecstasy back in the 90’s, perhaps that was the key to unlocking an appreciation for this type of music. I don’t know, but so far, 210 records in, I’ve found the vast majority of 90’s electronica on this list to range anywhere from highly annoying to completely underwhelming.
This record falls exactly in the middle of that spectrum. It’s like the worst of both worlds. If it was just annoying, it’d be one thing; I could just turn it off. As it is, there’s enough of a glimmer of “good” to keep me thinking that William Orbit might get it together and turn this into a decent record by the end.
Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t.
Tue Feb 07 2023
Brilliant Corners is the 4th record from indie rock legends Pavement. Released in 1997 on the Matador record label, the record marks a move away from the lo-fi recordings that Pavement had become known…
Hold on a second.
Brilliant Corners is a Thelonious Monk album. Brighten the Corners is Pavement…
Make sense, I thought this version of “Stereo” sounded weird.
Well then…Brilliant Corners.
I’m not an especially smart guy, as evidenced by the start of this review. I don’t really understand the music theory behind Jazz and, truthfully, I was never very good at math. So if there’s crazy time signatures or avant-garde stuff happening with the playing or instrumentation on this record, well…I’ll have to take your word for it.
What I can tell you is that this record seems to have an edge (brilliant corners, if you will) compared to other jazz I’ve heard from this timeframe. It sounds ahead of its time and willing to forego tradition for the sake of experimentation and technical challenge.
I dig that. That’s how the world moves forward.
Whether or not this was a small step or giant leap forward, I’m not the guy to decide that. Again, I am not that smart or well versed in jazz. I did find this record enjoyable, intriguing and challenging and I think that’s the most you can ask for from any record (and certainly more than I get from a lot of the records on this list).
Wed Feb 08 2023
Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Country Joe & The Fish
Well, it’s better than the Grateful Dead, but that’s a low bar.
Thu Feb 09 2023
Face to Face
The Kinks would hit higher highs on their subsequent 5 or so records, but Face to Face kicks off a run of albums that ranks among the greatest (and maybe the most overlooked) in the classic rock era.
Make no mistake, however, Face to Face is a damn fine record.
Fri Feb 10 2023
Boy, Oasis really did a number on the Brits, didn’t they?
Sat Feb 11 2023
Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine
I was a teenager in the early 90’s and have ears…of course I love this record.
There’s a few tracks that I have always skipped (settle for nothing, fistful of steel, township rebellion) and even listening to the record in full today, they still don’t really do it for me and feel like retreads of other songs on the record.
But the ones that work…they fucking work. “Freedom” is one of the greatest songs of the 90’s and no one will convince me otherwise.
Call Rage what you will: Hypocrites, Led Zeppelin meets Public Enemy, whatever. This record is hot fire and they are probably the only mainstream rock band in the last 30 or 40 years to vehemently advocate for truly radical change in American culture with their music, interviews and public appearances.
The subject matter on this record, recorded some 30 years ago, still rings true today and Rage hasn’t changed their tune one bit…which makes the recent phenomenon of conservatives on Twitter and in real life clutching pearls about Rage Against the Machine being “woke” or “socialists” unceasingly amusing to me. Where have they been for the last 30 years? How many times did they have to listen to it for the words to sink in?
Sorry to get political, but with this band, that’s baked in. Actually, not sorry…deal with it.
Overall, a heavy-hitting record, but one that I almost never listen to in full. A solid 4.
Sun Feb 12 2023
James Brown Live At The Apollo
Great performance, high energy, but the way it’s mixed makes it seem like James Brown was standing off stage in the right corner of the Apollo singing these songs.
Mon Feb 13 2023
Bringing It All Back Home
I can’t really stand Bob Dylan, but even I can admit this is a pretty great record.
Tue Feb 14 2023
Come Away With Me
I’m in such a good mood after the Eagles lost the Super Bowl last night that not even the AOR/Starbucks-pop of Norah Jones can bring me down.
Wed Feb 15 2023
Hailed as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) double albums of all time, I can’t help but wish this record was actually a single LP.
…but that’s me, I don’t like most double albums. They’re almost always bloated, pat-on-the-back affairs and they usually start running out of gas about an hour in.
So here’s my re-imagined, single disc version of Physical Graffiti; I like to call it the “John-Paul-Jones-Was-The-Best-Member-Of-This-Band Edition”. Sorry if you think this is sacrilege, but you’ll get over it one day:
In the Light
Trampled Under Foot
Houses of the Holy
The Wanton Song
Down By the Seaside
Ten Years Gone
Boom! A 5 star, classic mid-70’s record, clocking in at just under 40 minutes, so it’ll fit on one slab of vinyl. In fact, it would probably have a legitimate shot at best Led Zep record, or, at least, the one that hardcore fans recognize as the best, like Vol. 4 or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
I know…you’re sitting there saying, “bu-but…what about Kashmir.”
You can keep it, that’s what. Put it on your own single disc version of Physical Graffiti…the one with all the scraps I’ve left behind.
Thu Feb 16 2023
Haut de gamme / Koweït, rive gauche
Man, I had a *great* one-line review making a pun out of the title of the first track, but then I read about this guy and his sex criminal status and realized that joke would make light of his crime and reflect extremely poorly on me if I published it.
Fri Feb 17 2023
Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
This is a record I’ve heard many times over the years. It’s a record that, while listening, I think to myself, “this is a really great record”. It’s a record, that even though I think those things, I almost never come back to.
I’ve made peace with the fact that it’ll never make it into my regular rotation.
…or maybe it will, I don’t know.
I got 3.5 hours of sleep last night and my brain is scrambled as I write this, so who knows what anything is anymore.
Sat Feb 18 2023
Spastic, psychedelic jazz and r&b. Like an early 90’s magic mushroom dorm room black light party and there’s a DJ mixing a sun-warped George Benson record with Stanley Clark’s Journey to Love at 45 instead of 33 rpm.
The bass playing is great, the songs are interesting and more than a little weird.
Oh and btw…some of you need to lighten up.
Sun Feb 19 2023
[Editorial Note: For this installment, I have enlisted ChatGPT to write the review. Primarily because I have love for much of Bowie’s music, but I’ve always been kind of indifferent to this record. It just doesn’t work for me in the same way that most of his other 70’s work does, even if there are few fantastic songs - like Young Americans, Fascination and Fame. So, I figured if anyone would find humor in a light-hearted, shit-talking review crafted by AI, David Bowie would probably be near the top of the list.
I provided ChatGPT with a simple prompt: “write a funny review of David Bowie’s Young Americans album”. The first take wasn’t very humorous, so I provided a second prompt: “make it funnier and less reverent”.
What you’ll read below is its response]
Alright, buckle up, because this review is gonna be more sarcastic and less reverent than a cult meeting for David Bowie fans.
So, "Young Americans." It's like David Bowie decided to go on a soul-searching trip to America, and came back with an album full of soul music. It's like the guy couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to be Ziggy Stardust or James Brown, so he decided to be both.
And let's talk about the album cover for a second. Bowie looks like he's trying to seduce you with his soulful gaze, while also wearing a shirt that looks like it was made out of an old couch from the '70s. But hey, at least he's got that perfectly coiffed hair going for him.
But seriously, the sax solos on this album are off the charts. It's like Bowie decided to hire a whole band of saxophonists and just let them loose on the album. And the lyrics? Well, let's just say that if you're looking for deep, meaningful poetry, you might want to look somewhere else. But if you're looking for lines like "Do you remember your President Nixon?" and "Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?", then this album has got you covered.
Overall, "Young Americans" is like a weird mix of Bowie's classic sound and a bunch of soul and funk music thrown in for good measure. It's like he was trying to reinvent himself yet again, but ended up sounding like a confused alien trying to fit in with the cool kids. But hey, at least he's got that sexy saxophone to fall back on.
Mon Feb 20 2023
The Village Green Preservation Society
Since it’s a Sunday during a three day holiday weekend and I’ve got zero pressing responsibilities today, I’m listening to Village Green on vinyl, rather than streaming from my platform of choice. I’ve got a nice, clean 1975 Reprise US pressing that I found at Double Decker Records in Allentown, PA back in 2016 or so. Shout out to Double Decker, the best record store on the East Coast.
The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society is a concept album of sorts, reflecting Ray Davies’ desire to preserve the culture and traditions of England’s past…or, at least, his recollection of traditions and culture past. I think most of us can relate to that sentiment: we might look back fondly on the decade(s) and culture in which we came of age and hope for a return, but for others, those times might have been miserable and worth leaving behind.
In that regard, “Picture Book”, the third track on Village Green, might act as a mission statement for the record: “Picture book of people with each other…To prove they love each other, a long time ago”.
Almost as though Ray Davies is saying, “Those were the days, weren’t they? Luckily we were able to preserve them, as reminder that things used to be better”. It may be a pessimistic take on my part, I know, but after the last few years on this planet, it’s hard not to look back fondly on the days where everything was simpler and more worry-free.
Despite the nostalgic concept of the record, musically, Village Green is quite forward-thinking. The songs here feel like a blueprint, written and waiting to be uncovered and referenced by a thousand punk and indie rock bands 10, 20 or 30 years in the future. Not to harp on “Picture Book”, but I recall its use in a commercial in the early aughts and thinking it could be a Shins (or similar) song. Not that it’s surprising, even the Kinks earliest songs had an edge to their sound that the Beatles and Stones lacked, it’s unsurprising that their influence would be just as long lasting.
I’m not going sit here and try and convince you that the Kinks were a better band than the Beatles or the Stones. I think they are, at least for their late 60’s/early 70’s output, but that’s a realization and personal preference that you’ll have to come to on your own…or not. I’m just saying that for some fans of punk and indie rock, the Kinks’ records might resonate stronger than the Beatles or the Stones do…and I am one of those people.
Tue Feb 21 2023
Double Nickels On The Dime
One of the rare instances of a double album that doesn’t run out of steam as it goes on. In fact, as it goes on, it gets better and better. Never a dull moment.
Wed Feb 22 2023
The Number Of The Beast
Thu Feb 23 2023
Led Zeppelin III
The Led Zep record thats ok to like if you’re an indie rocker.
Fri Feb 24 2023
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
Another classic Brian Eno record, this time featuring David Byrne.
Sat Feb 25 2023
Crooked Rain Crooked Rain
By the end of Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, if you’re not thinking to yourself “I should start a band and try to make a record as great as this”… well, maybe we should just give up hope for the future and call it a day.
It’s inclusion on this list is not only warranted, it is essential.
Sun Feb 26 2023
Songs Of Love And Hate
Man, this is bleak for first thing on a Saturday morning.
Mon Feb 27 2023
Songs For Swingin' Lovers!
Start spreadin’ the news…
…this record is lame.
Tue Feb 28 2023
The Jesus And Mary Chain
[Editorial note: Having tested positive for covid this morning, it may not have been the best idea to try and objectively review an album today]
I don’t know man, i’d rather listen to “Vehicle” by The Clean. Maybe it’s the covid talking but these records feel similar, with the Clean being more upbeat and less “everything’s a bit shit, innit?” (Is that a Peep Show or The Thick of It reference? I can’t remember. Either way, it’s a show that Jesse Armstrong wrote on and I’m pretty sure it’s not Succession. This feels like an Ollie line from The Thick of It, like maybe he’s mocking Robin or Terri or something. That’s what I’ll do with some of my covid down time, rewatch the The Thick of It and then maybe Peep Show…but Peep Show’s like 9 seasons, I don’t think I can plow through that entire show while fighting off covid. I mean that would take a while and I’m hoping this is done within a few days.)
Holy fuck, does my head hurt.
Wed Mar 01 2023
Meat Is Murder
Thu Mar 02 2023
Madman Across The Water
A pretty solid (and dare I say “proggy”? Prog-ish?) release from Elton John. First half of the record was better than the back half. Tbh, Indian Sunset was where I started losing interest and Rotten Peaches was laughably dumb.
Fri Mar 03 2023
Are You Experienced
Look, I’ve been pretty hard on some of the “classic”, “greatest-of-all-time” records that appear on this list and there are very few that I plan on giving five stars. It’s not without good reason…a lot of those “classic” records, we’re just supposed to accept they’re classics because they sold a lot of copies or we’ve been told by the music press for decades that they’re important. I don’t think Rumors is a 5 star record…shit, I don’t even think Sgt. Pepper’s is a five star record. They both have their flaws to me and I’m not going to ignore them because everyone else thinks they’re perfect.
Now I’m going be a little hypocritical.
Are You Experienced? is not a perfect record, but it is a 5 star record.
Why, you ask?
Well, and here’s where I’ll be a little hyperbolic, it’s because no one on earth, since Jimi Hendrix, has had as much of a long lasting impact on music. This is a record that changed the world and continued to change the world for many decades after its release.
There is rock music before and after Hendrix. He is the line in the sand, so to speak. He completely changed the way the guitar is played and used in rock music. The man basically created a new language for everyone else to learn and figure out. He is without a doubt the greatest of all time.
You can track his influence all over the music that was released in the years, decades, half century following his debut.
As an example, go ahead and listen to “Third Stone from the Sun” and try and tell me you can’t draw a straight line to the guitar squall and experimentation of Sonic Youth.
Or listen to Eddie Hazel’s solo on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” or his playing on their ‘74 record, “Standing on the Verge of Getting it on”
Or Stevie Ray Vaughan
Or J Mascis
Or John Frusciante
Or read about how Eric Clapton walked off stage the first time he saw Hendrix play. I believe “Is he really that fucking good?” was Clapton’s response to Chas Chandler right after he left the stage.(TBH, Jimi gets 5 stars just for knocking Clapton down a peg)
Jimi Hendrix was so influential that Miles Davis started playing his trumpet through a wah pedal.
I mean, I could keep naming musicians here, but you get the point, right? There is a pretty good chance that whichever guitar player you like wouldn’t be the player they are without Hendrix.
I don’t think an album with the wealth of influence that Are You Experienced? left behind deserves anything other than 5 stars.
Sat Mar 04 2023
I do declare! The compositions on this phonograph from this band of young miscreants all sound exceedingly similar! Can you imagine the nerve?!? How audacious!
Quick, someone fetch me my fainting couch! I do believe I am having the vapors…Oh, my!
Sun Mar 05 2023
If you’re not rating this 5 stars…what are you even doing with your life?
Mon Mar 06 2023
Explain to me again why there are no Yo La Tengo records on this list.
Also, they do a bit of lifting of “No Other One” by Weezer on the first track. Tell me I’m not the only one who hears it.
This is the kind of record that your “indie” friend won’t shut the fuck up about for a month and then they never mention Beach House ever again. It’s aesthetically pleasing on the ears, but lacks substance or any sense of urgency.
Indie Rock used to be cool. Now, it’s…this.
Tue Mar 07 2023
It used to bug me to no end when I’d be out at a bar or a party and the band would say “we’re gonna do a Red Hot Chili Peppers song!” and then kick into “Higher Ground”.
Show some respect, you clods.
Wed Mar 08 2023
Thu Mar 09 2023
Fri Mar 10 2023
On The Beach
10 Albums You Actually Need to Hear Before You Die
Chapter 2: Neil Young - “On the Beach”
Getting this record recommend to me and being able to push a button and listen to it is nothing short of a miracle in my mind.
I was a Neil Young fan for over a decade before I was even able to listen to this record. It was so out of print from the mid 80’s until the early aughts that unless you could find a vinyl copy or a bootleg cd recorded from vinyl, you were out of luck. On the Beach, at that point, had obtained a mythical status, “the greatest Neil Young album”, a “lost masterpiece”.
When it was first released on CD in 2003, and I finally got to hear it, it lived up to the hype and then some. It is easily my favorite Neil Young record, a definite candidate for his best album and one of the five best records of the 1970’s. Every song on “On the Beach” is a Neil Young classic.
“Walk On” kicks things off with an upbeat (by comparison to the rest of the record) southern rock feeling. The stunning, Wurlitzer driven second track, “See the Sky About to Rain” is one of Young’s most beautiful tunes, a mournful yet psychedelic exercise. Aided by Honey Slides, an edible, highly potent, marijuana/honey amalgamation created by Neil and his band, Neil turns in one of the greatest psychedelic songs in his entire catalog on “See the Sky about to Rain”.
Rick Danko and Levon Helm of The Band (along with more honey slides) provide a thundering rhythm section on “Revolution Blues”, a noisy rock stomper about the Manson murders. “Well, I hear that Laurel Canyon is full of famous stars, but I hate them worse than lepers and I’ll kill them in their cars,” Young sings before launching into the second of two blistering guitar solos in the song. Young is at his most aggressive, maybe ever, on Revolution Blues. It’s a track that seethes with white-hot hostility. Even if David Crosby guests on rhythm guitar, Revolution Blues couldn’t be further from the pacifist hippy mentality that CSNY, Young’s side hustle, would typically traffic in. Revolution Blues is a goddamn masterpiece and what I wouldn’t give for a full album the band that recorded it: Young on Lead guitar and vocals, David Crosby on rhythm guitar, Ben Kieth on Wurlitzer, Danko on Bass and Levon on drums…now *that’s* a supergroup. We’ll call them Neil Young and the Honey Slides.
I fucking love that song.
“For the Turnstiles”, a plucky banjo and dobro duet between Young and Ben Keith, calms the storm a bit, if only temporarily, as “Vampire Blues” (the only one of three songs with “Blues” in the title that actually resembles the blues) lumbers in. It’s a disillusioned meditation on the state of the world in in 1974: a dire warning about our reliance on fossil fuels spurred on by the gas crisis and poor economy…”Good times are coming, but they’re sure coming slow” - if you can’t relate to that in 2023, it’s time to pull your head out of the sand.
Neil Young’s world was falling apart in 1973-74, with friends dying of heroin overdoses, a relationship on the rocks and he could see the end coming. “The world is turning, I hope it doesn’t turn away,” he sings on the title track, a slow burning, introspective rumination on fame and his current state of affairs. “Motion Pictures” mines similar territory: Young’s disenchantment with fame and (possibly) his relationship with actress Carrie Snodgress.
Sometimes it’s all futile, you can try your best to stop the world from turning, but you just can’t stop the tide: “…there ain’t nothing like a friend who can tell you you’re just pissing in the wind”. We all need that friend who can tell us when we’re wasting our time and energy, and here, on “Ambulance Blues”, Neil Young seems to be acting as that friend not only to himself, but also to the listener.
“On the Beach” is the highest of several high watermarks in Young’s impressive 1970’s output: a raw, introspective and often bleak record; a record that is completely authentic and doesn’t hold anything back. It’s a masterpiece from start to finish and is unequivocally my favorite album of all time.
If it’s not yours, that’s cool…but it really should be.
[Postscript: I just finished watching the season finale of Poker Face, the excellent Natasha Lyonne whodunnit, and what song played at the end of the episode? “Walk On”. The matrix is real, everything is connected, we live in a simulation…What are the odds of that? I spend all day listening to and reviewing On the Beach and the only television show I tune into today ends with an song from On the Beach? Are you fucking kidding me? Holy fuck, unbelievable. Look at the date stamp on my review, then Google the airdate for S1E10 of Poker Face…I’m going to start a religion, The Church of the Honey Slides. We meet on Sundays, imbibe of the holy honey slides and crank Time Fades Away, On the Beach, Tonight’s the Night and Zuma. Long Live Neil Young.]
Sat Mar 11 2023
RIYL: the calliope music that plays on merry-go-rounds, drinking beer for breakfast.
Sun Mar 12 2023
This is outrageous, this is contagious.
This is outrageous, this is contagious.
Mon Mar 13 2023
Music for the Masses
Now that this record is over, I can truly Enjoy the Silence.
Tue Mar 14 2023
Wed Mar 15 2023
I’ve written more than I care to about the weird symbiosis I’ve had with the Random Album Generator over the last 8 or so months, but I wouldn’t keep bringing it up if it didn’t keep happening.
So, on today’s installment of “The Matrix is Real”, we have Bad Company’s self titled debut record.
Every Tuesday night, for the better part of the last 15 years, I’ve listened to The Best Show (with Tom Scharpling). It started its life as call-in comedy radio show during the tail end of the Clinton Administration on New Jersey’s WFMU, the greatest radio station in America - a free form, listener supported station…you can and should stream it sometime. By the mid-aughts, the radio show was being podcast the next day after the show aired on terrestrial radio. In 2013, Tom Scharpling left WFMU to do the show independently as a streaming call-in show/podcast. Currently, The Best Show still operates as podcast, but also streams on Twitch each Tuesday night. If you like indie rock and comedy, the Best Show should be right up your alley: they have live in studio performances from the likes of Lou Barlow, The Black Lips, Mike Watt, and more; comedic guests like Patton Oswald, Marc Maron, Matt Berry; weekly calls from Superchunk/Mountain Goats/Bob Mould drummer Jon Wurster, where he calls in as a fictional character, typically from the fictional town of Newbridge, NJ; and, of course calls, from listeners on a variety of lighthearted and funny topics - a personal favorite was “Who is the dumbest member of CSNY?”.
It’s one of my favorite things on earth. It’s truly the *best* show around.
Right now, you’re thinking “holy fuck, dude, get to the point”…hang on, I’m almost there.
One of the staples of The Best Show, for the last decade plus, is the song Bad Company by Bad Company from the album we are here to discuss, “Bad Company”.
The premise is simple, but might take a minute to explain.
Because the Best Show is a call-in show, sometimes they get great callers, sometimes they get mediocre callers and, you guessed it, sometimes they get truly awful callers. When a truly awful or especially boring caller calls in, Tom will often lose interest and/or patience with them, and that is where Bad Company comes in.
While an insufferable caller is rambling on about something off topic or idiotic, Scharpling will discreetly begin to fade in the song Bad Company (”Company…always on my mind”) into the background of their call. With the studio setup, everyone but the caller can hear the opening strains of the song kicking in. Listeners become giddy, because they know what’s coming. Scharpling will deftly keep the caller rambling, feigning interest in their tale, pushing them closer and closer to the first chorus of the song. Then, as Paul Rodgers sings “That’s why the call me…[snare hits] Bad Company!”, Scharpling hangs up of the caller, often mid-sentence. It is unbelievably hilarious to me and, at the same time, maybe the dumbest thing that makes me laugh…It never fails to make me laugh. [there’s a super cut of people getting Bad Company’d on YouTube, if you’re interested.]
Anyway, that the generator recommended this record on a Tuesday, the day I always listen to/watch the Best Show is just another coincidence in a long line of increasingly specific coincidences I’ve experienced during this project. If there was ever a song I associated with Tuesday’s, it’s “Bad Company”.
Who knows, maybe I thought this project would be a good way to pass some time, but it’s actually going to be the thing that causes a mental breakdown. Who knows. At this point, I’m just here for the ride.
Oh, and you should listen to the Best Show. Tuesday nights on Twitch, BestShow4Life, the next day on the podcast platform of your choice and archives of the first 14 years over at WFMU.org. There’s literally like 24 years worth of shows you can listen to and, let’s face it, if you’re doing this project, you’ve probably got some other time you’re looking to kill.
Thu Mar 16 2023
When I Was Born For The 7th Time
I don’t know if you guys heard, but…
There’s a brim full of asha on the forty-five.
How did it get there?
Is it supposed to be there?
…also, what is a “brim full of asha”?
This record leaves the listener with more questions than answers.
Fri Mar 17 2023
Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
Isn’t it annoying when someone tells you, “Don’t look over there, but…”? The first thing you’re going to do is look over there, right?
So when George Michael tells me to “Listen Without Prejudice”, I’m going to be listening with a more critical ear than usual. Big mistake, George Michael.
So here’s my prejudiced take after listening: there’s so much reverb on George Michael’s voice on every track of this record that it sounds like he fell down a well and instead of trying to get him out, his producers lowered a microphone down into the well so they could record his vocals.
Sat Mar 18 2023
Exit Planet Dust
The Chemical Brothers
The perfect soundtrack for mindless, repetitive works tasks on a Friday morning.
Sun Mar 19 2023
Pacific Ocean Blue
Mon Mar 20 2023
Tue Mar 21 2023
Do you like layers and layers of guitars, because I have More Than a Feeling that this record has enough multitracked guitars to make Tom Scholz of Boston blush.
Wed Mar 22 2023
Bjork has a unique and wonderful voice, but this isn’t for me.
Thu Mar 23 2023
I’m about to type some words I never thought I would:
I really liked this record by The Cure.
It’s a sparse, minimal, lo-fi record that isn’t weighed to down by ornate and dreary production or by being too mawkish. Some of the songs almost seemed [gasp] fun?
This is a really great record. I’m honestly shocked I liked a Cure record this much…historically, that has not been my experience with Robert Smith & company. Who knows, if they had stuck with this sound, I might be a huge Cure fan - It feels more like a record by The Clean or The Chills than what we know The Cure to be.
Fuck me, what a surprise.
Fri Mar 24 2023
Some of these reviews are cracking me up, “sounds like the Flaming Lips”.
Well, you don’t say!
Jonathon Donahue was in the Flaming Lips for In A Priest Driven Ambulance and Hit to Death in the Future Head - there’s a pretty substantial argument to be made that The Flaming Lips wouldn’t be the band they are without Donahue. In addition to helping the band hone their noisy, experimental sound into a more concise, experimental pop sound, he also introduced them to their long time producer, Dave Fridmann, who produced this album and nearly all of the other Mercury Rev records.
So yeah, it sounds like the Flaming Lips. The influence Jonathon Donahue and David Fridmann had on the Flaming Lips can’t be understated.
In fact, you could probably get some traction by starting a conspiracy theory positing that Jonathon Donahue was still a secret member of the Flaming Lips, at least through the Soft Bulletin. I think the truth is that the Flaming Lips had been chasing what Mercury Rev was doing since Donahue left the band after Hit to Death in the Future Head. It’s just that the Lips managed to make a hit out of it before Donahue did.
I say this as a long time Flaming Lips fan, but it’s pretty clear listening to the output of the two bands through the 90’s.
Now, all of that said, I enjoy The Soft Bulletin more of the two, but Deserter’s Songs is a damn fine record and was 1000% an influence on The Soft Bulletin. It’s undeniable.
So that leaves me in a conundrum; Does Deserter’s Songs get a higher ranking than The Soft Bulletin, because it’s influence is so shockingly clear and undeniable? Does The Soft Bulletin get overrated because people just don’t know about Mercury Rev in the same way they know the Flaming Lips? Probably. No, strike that…it absolutely does.
The divide falls somewhere along these lines: Deserter’s Songs is a record that is immaculately played, with very concise production and was clearly labored over. Not that The Soft Bulletin isn’t any of those things, but there’s a haphazard beauty to it that Deserter’s Songs (mostly) lacks.
Both are great records, but for me, The Soft Bulletin just barely squeaks out a victory.
To use a sports analogy that will surely alienate anyone under the age of 40 or anyone from Mercury Rev’s home town of Buffalo, NY: It’s like Super Bowl XXV, where a Buffalo field goal would’ve won the game for Buffalo over the Giants in the final seconds. The kick went wide-right and the Giants won the game 20-19. Buffalo was probably the better team that year and should’ve won that game, but it came down to one moment of chance and they were on the wrong side of it.
…and that, class, is why the The Flaming Lips are the 1991 NY Giants of rock music and Mercury Rev are The Buffalo Bills. Next week we’ll discuss why Robert Pollard is the Michael Jordan of indie rock. See you then.
Sat Mar 25 2023
All Things Must Pass
My Sweet Lord do I hate double albums.
This is arguably the best solo album any of them ever made and I’m finding it incredibly uninteresting.
I think I’m just burnt on the Beatles.
I mean it’s a good record, the songs are all great, the musicianship in on point, but…
…I get it, the Beatles were great but how are we, collectively as a society, not tired of them by now? It’s like Marvel movies, ubiquitous to the point where i can’t understand why people even care anymore. There’s nothing on this record that is going to surprise me, because I’ve heard it, even if I haven’t actually heard all of it. You know what I mean? 41 years on this earth and it’s still all about the Beatles. Beatles, Beatles, Beatles….I’ve grown so tired of them, it’s exhausting trying to make it through their records.
For real, did I need to hear “Apple Scruffs” before I die? Absolutely not. That song is the poster child for why I hate double records. Who is that for?
And how could I live without “Sir Frankie Crisp”?
No one earth has ever added those songs to a playlist. It’s a scientific impossibility…
Fuck me, I just realized this is actually a TRIPLE ALBUM.
Sorry, George, you were easily the best Beatle, but I just can’t anymore. There’s so much other music out there, I can’t pretend that everything you 4 did is the greatest thing to ever happen to music.
3 stars because it’s 3 LP’s.
Sun Mar 26 2023
Usually when I get record assigned from the list that I’ve never heard of, from an artist I’m completely unfamiliar with (especially newer records), a shiver runs up my spine, a sense of trepidation sets in and I begin to question my life choices.
Can you blame me, though? Each and everyone of us has been burned by this dumb list and have had to sit through out fair share of underwhelming to straight up awful records.
Well, that initial reaction couldn’t have been more unfounded with GREY Area. This is a fantastic record. Little Simz has impressive flow and the instrumentation is funky and engaging. At 35 minutes long, it’s concise, hits hard right out of the gate and doesn’t over stay its welcome.
In fact, it leaves you wanting more.
Mon Mar 27 2023
Arc Of A Diver
Editorial Note: I’ll be doing a preemptive review before listening and a second, post-listen, review of this record.
Oh, jeesus - a Steve Winwood record from 1980. That’s like drinking milk 12 years after the sell-by date.
Refer to Pre-Listen Review.
Tue Mar 28 2023
Because The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway didn’t have enough pompous excess, Peter Gabriel opens his first solo record with one of the most ridiculous song titles to ever get printed on a record jacket:
“Moribund the Burgermeister”
After the fantastic “Solsbury Hill”, Gabriel decides he’s a sexpot of sorts and turns in some truly lecherous metaphors on “Modern Love”:
“I trusted my Venus was untouched in her shell
But the pearls and the balls in her oysters were tacky as hell”
“Hey, I worship Diana by the light of the moon
When I pull out my pipe she scream out of tune”
He follows that up with obnoxious music hall cabaret (Excuse Me) and, later, an overwrought blues romp (Waiting the Big One).
You really get it all on Gabriel’s 1977 self-titled, and by “it all” I mean “a few great songs and a bunch of stuff that probably should have been left on the cutting room floor”.
It’s all well executed, but lacks what I’d call “consistency”. Kind of a “let’s throw everything at the way and see what sticks” vibe here and the end result is just ok.
Wed Mar 29 2023
Proof that the the old axiom, “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people” is not only true, but that you can turn a buck (quite a few, as it turns out) calling them idiots to their face.
Thu Mar 30 2023
This is you:
“Sgt. Pepper’s is so psychedelic. The sounds on that record are totally kaleidoscopic and vibrant.”
This is me:
“Bat Macumba ê ê! Bat Macumba obá!”
Fri Mar 31 2023
Paul Revere & The Raiders
One if by land, Two if by…Fuck it, I can’t come up with any clever garage rock puns for that Paul Revere joke.
Sat Apr 01 2023
The Dave Brubeck Quartet
There’s something about this record I just don’t like, not sure what it is. It’s fine, but ultimately just kind of…eh. Like, it makes sense that it’s kind of a gateway record for people to get into jazz- it’s not particularly challenging and it’s easy on the ears, but after two listens it’s kind of driving me nuts.
Sun Apr 02 2023
Fear and Whiskey
My only exposure, really, to Mekons prior to today was via Boredoms’ cover/reworking/extrapolation of “Where Were You” on the Super Roots 7 EP. Boredoms take that song, with its propulsive punk backbeat, and stretch it out into an 18 minute, glitched-out, krautrock odyssey. Highly recommended.
That type of punk doesn’t really exist on “Fear and Whiskey”, though track 3, “Hard to be Human” comes close. By and large, it’s what would we might call alt-country today, with maybe a bit more focus on the “alt” than on “country”.
It’s not hard to see what Boredoms found inspiring about Mekons as I listen to Fear and Whiskey. It’s a strange album, with some avant-garde tendencies with occasionally processed vocals and spoken word passages, droning violin passages and songs that will occasionally stop on a dime, transform into something completely experimental and different, then return to their previous themes.
Fear and Whiskey simultaneously manages to capture a “traditional” sound and a complete disregard for tradition. It’s familiar and unnerving at the same time, sort of a contradictory record. It’s a unique entry on the list and worth listening to more than once.
Mon Apr 03 2023
Tue Apr 04 2023
I used to think I didn’t like Folk music.
Turns out that maybe I just don’t like American Folk music.
Well, maybe I should clarify…the British folk I’ve listened because of this list has been far more interesting to me than the American Folk music I’m familiar with. It’s seemingly more willing to experiment, with less adherence to tradition.
There’s some truly beautiful Fender Rhodes keyboard playing on this record. It’s a funky, soulful and experimental psychedelic folk-rock record. Really great stuff here, especially if you enjoy Nick Drake.
Wed Apr 05 2023
The Beach Boys
I know this isn’t a five star record. Logically, it can’t be. Student Demonstration Time is laughably bad, Disney Girls is schmaltzy and sounds dated (even by Beach Boys standards) and A Day in the Life of a Tree is legitimately bizarre.
This is a 5 star record.
It’s dark, psychedelic, and weird. It’s all over the place and isn’t quite as finely polished as other Beach Boys records. Not to say it’s poorly produced, however. It’s a Beach Boys record, after all. It’s a very layered and lush record, it just has more of a DIY, home-y kind of feel to it: a little ramshackle, but in the best possible way.
The highs they hit on songs like the absolutely amazing Surf’s Up and Feel Flows, ‘Til I Die, Long Promised Road, Don’t Go Near the Water and Lookin’ at Tomorrow more than make up for the lows on the songs I mentioned earlier.
And honestly, Disney Girls and A Day in the Life of a Tree aren’t bad, the production on both is well done and I don’t always skip them. They’re just a little off by comparison to the rest of the record.
“Student Demonstration Time” is the only real, true blue stinker - if you ever wondered what it would be like to watch Mike Love dance burlesque while giving an oral history of protests in the late sixties….go listen to Student Demonstration Time. It sucks and I think there’s a pretty good case for it as the worst Beach Boys song ever released.
But enough about that doofus Mike Love, Surf’s Up is a classic Beach Boys record and, frankly, it’s my favorite of theirs.
Thu Apr 06 2023
Let's Stay Together
Fri Apr 07 2023
I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I don’t like music from the 50’s throughout the course of this project.
I try and go in with an open mind to records from this era, but…sweet jesus, most of them are boring. It always feels like I’m a listening to the theme song for a black and white TV show like I Love Lucy or My Three Sons. Even when it’s different, it all sounds the same.
I can’t get past it. Sorry.
Well, not really.
All I can say is: thank god someone introduced musicians to LSD, otherwise there’s a good chance we’d still be stuck with the cloying sound of 50’s popular music.
Sat Apr 08 2023
Yes are the audio equivalent of Pringles to me. Once I start listening, I can’t stop.
I listened to Fragile twice today. Then I put on Close to the Edge. Then I listened to the first and last track of Tales From Topographic Oceans (had this been a single LP with those two songs, I think it’d be more fondly remembered than it is now) and finished up with Relayer and bit of Going For the One.
I don’t have a problem, YOU have a problem.
Sun Apr 09 2023
To the esteemed Princeton University Admissions Committee,
Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to review my admissions essay. Becoming a student at Princeton would fulfill a life long dream and I am honored to be able to apply.
It’s certainly uncommon for someone of my age, with an established career, to be applying for collage into their 40’s, but I believe I am uniquely qualified to attend your university and after regaling you with this true story, I think you’ll agree:
Several years ago, while shopping for records at the nearby Princeton Record Exchange, I was asked by a student from your University (easily identifiable because of his Princeton University hooded sweatshirt, backwards ball cap and worn out Sperry’s), if I knew “where they keep the Tom Waits records.”
“I checked the ‘T’ section….nothing there,” he added.
“Try the ‘W’ section,” I suggested to him. “They sort artists by last name.”
“Oh, wow”, he sighed, with a sense of overwhelmed exasperation. “I wouldn’t have thought of that”, he said, making his way to the W section, where a likely treasure trove of Tom Waits on wax awaited him.
As he searched through the W section and I continued my crate digging, a sense of pride washed over me:
“Holy fuck,” I thought. “I could have got into Princeton.”
Hence, my reasoning for writing this essay. As I wrote earlier, I think my qualification for admittance into your fine school speaks for itself. I have a solid grasp on alphabetical sorting and categorization and a keen ability to help others solve their problems in a quick and efficient manner. Plus, I’m not half-bad at math.
I look forward to my inevitable acceptance to your school and hope to provide forward thinking leadership amongst the students. Thank you once again for taking the time to review my application for admission.
Mon Apr 10 2023
My new favorite pastime is reading reviews of punk albums on this site and finding all the reviews that complain about punk records being repetitive and the songs sounding the same.
You guys crack me up.
Seriously, never change.
Maybe one day you’ll find the prog-punk masterpiece you’re after.
In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying this X-Ray Spex record. It’s a classic.
Tue Apr 11 2023
To Pimp A Butterfly
Wed Apr 12 2023
Among The Living
More like “Far from Interesting”, am I right?
While we’re here and since this is the first thrash record I’m reviewing, I’m gonna lay out where I land with Thrash’s “Big Four”:
Metallica: hands down the best of the four in terms of songwriting. They had a gift for writing great compositions that were not only heavy, but with twists and turns that could start and stop on a dime. Not the most technically skilled of the big four, but their knack for songwriting puts them well above the competition.
Megadeth: Highly skilled and technical, faster than a meth head on a motocross bike. The thrashiest of the thrashers, perhaps. In terms of songwriting and composition, a notch below Metallica, but their technique and skill is above the rest.
Slayer: Just brutal and uncompromising. Beyond extreme. Speed for the sake of speed. Melodicism is nil, but their fans don’t care, they want destruction. Their songwriting and compositions, save a few aberrations here and there, is nearly non-existent - Slayer is audio chaos.
And now the star of today’s show…
Anthrax: kind of a weird hybrid between the heaviness of Metallica and the speed of Slayer, but with a more lighthearted attitude and willingness to incorporate other genres into their thrash. Of the Big Four, they are the closest to punk and hardcore on the thrash spectrum, due in no small part to their proximity to the NYC scene in the 80’s (also explains their interest in hip-hop. NYC music scene was a veritable melting pot back then).
Anthrax was always my least favorite of the four. That hasn’t changed. I made it about halfway through this record before shutting it off. Their songs always felt very stale to me. I think they might be the most “of-their-time” of the four. This record still feels like an 80’s metal record, where some of the records from Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer don’t feel as tied to the era they were released.
Long story short, I respect Anthrax, but their music isn’t for me.
Thu Apr 13 2023
All That You Can't Leave Behind
On second thought, it’s ok if you leave this one behind.
Fri Apr 14 2023
Nick Of Time
Wow…Three one-star albums in a row. I’ve completed my first one-star hat trick.
I don’t know what to say…it’s all so much…
[wipes the tiniest tear from the corner of his eye]
I couldn’t have done it without you, Bonnie Raitt: The late 80’s production sheen and synthetics are laid on so thick on this record, that you’ve left me with no choice but to achieve this impressive feat.
I’d also like to thank U2 and their truly terrible 2000 record, “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” for yesterday’s one star experience.
To Anthrax: I probably should have given Among the Living two stars because I like you guys on a personal level…I really, really like you (just not your music), but without that first one star record to get the ball rolling, we wouldn’t be here today.
Finally, I’d like to thank the Academy, my agent, my business manager - whazzzup Pete - along with my lovely wife and non-existent kids. I couldn’t have done it without all of your support.
Good luck to you all, one day it could be you up here talking about the terrible records you’ve been subjected to.
This place…*this* is where we find hope, where wings take dream. God bless you all and long live the Michelin Man.
Sat Apr 15 2023
Well, fuck…if more country music sounded like this I might not hate it so much.
As the record goes on, however, a thought occurs:
“Huh, it took 18 years for early 2000’s indie rock to permeate popular country music. Ain’t that something.”
Sun Apr 16 2023
I had to look up the translation for Opus Dei. Apparently, it’s latin for “two stars”.
Mon Apr 17 2023
Liege And Lief
You know this list has done a number on you when you’re looking forward to British folk records from the late 60’s and early 70’s.
How beaten down am I that I wake up on a Sunday, check in to this website and think, “Fairport Convention…sweet, this should be good”?
Seriously, though. The British folk on this list has been the most consistently enjoyable genre that I was previously unfamiliar with. It’s surprising because I typically don’t have the time of day for American folk music. The British folk I’ve been exposed to because of this list tends to be less tied down by tradition and more willing to experiment than their American counterparts.
Fairport manages to strike a great balance between tradition and modern, with atmospherics and progressive song structures weaved into these traditional songs. The amazing guitar work of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny’s exceptional vocals are standouts, but, really, the entire group is firing on all cylinders.
Leige and Lief is an engaging and exciting folk rock record; highly enjoyable on a grey spring morning.
Tue Apr 18 2023
If you want me to love your record:
- Make it 35 minutes long
- Have lots of fuzzed out guitar
- Don’t be afraid to drone
- Don’t be afraid to get weird
- Play with a sense of urgency
The Stooges debut LP checks all those boxes and then some.
Wed Apr 19 2023
The Sensual World
Thu Apr 20 2023
Fri Apr 21 2023
The Trinity Session
If you ever wondered what it would be like if David Lynch was the musical director for in-store playlists at Whole Foods, look no further.
Sat Apr 22 2023
Blood On The Tracks
Goddamn this list for making me appreciate Bob Dylan.
Ok, 5 songs in and I’m back to being annoyed by him.
I think Dylan is just one of those musicians I can take in small doses, but more than 15 minutes and it starts to become excruciating.
Sun Apr 23 2023
I hate half-assed records like this, where a band will experiment with one sound, but keep the other foot in comfortable territory.
If you want to make an acid house record, make an acid house record. If you want to make a maudlin, Cure-like record, make one. Don’t sandwich the two together without regard for consistency.
Nobody wants a record where four songs sound like one band and five songs sound like another.
If you go for it, go all in. I’d rather see a band take a risk and fail than take half a risk and convince themselves they’ve succeeded.
Mon Apr 24 2023
OK is OK, until it isn’t.
For me, that was about 5 songs.
Once again, my rule of thumb for the list hasn’t been disproven:
If you haven’t heard anyone talking about an album on this list in 25 years, you don’t need to hear it before you die.
Tue Apr 25 2023
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Wed Apr 26 2023
The United States Of America
The United States Of America
[puts on Uncle Sam outfit]
I WANT *YOU*
TO DROP ACID
Thu Apr 27 2023
Huh…I didn’t know the church band from The Righteous Gemstones had put out any albums.
Fri Apr 28 2023
A little known fact about this record:
Living Color were such fans of the 1987 Martin Short movie Innerspace, that they had their drummer and his drum kit shrunk down and placed inside a tin can to to record his parts, achieving the now famous reverb-laden drum sound on Vivid.
Sat Apr 29 2023
Sun Apr 30 2023
Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Gospel according to Nick Cave.
Mon May 01 2023
Five Leaves Left
Tue May 02 2023
Too Rye Ay
Dexys Midnight Runners
Too rye ay?
More like “Two stars, aye?”
Wed May 03 2023
69 Love Songs
The Magnetic Fields
Robert Pollard is just about the only human on earth who could put out a 69 song album that might keep my interest.
Stephin Merritt, talented as he is - and I mean that - is no Bob Pollard (for me, at least).
Also, Pollard’s songs, both solo and with Guided By Voices, tend to be in the minute and half to two and half minute range, which would make a 69 song record a lot more manageable.
Since I made very little effort to listen to all 69 songs here, and both 6 and 9 are divisible by 3, I’m giving 69 love songs 3 stars, which I think is the fairest way to do things.
Thu May 04 2023
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Like, just listen to Gang of Four or something, geez.
Fri May 05 2023
Far exceeded my preliminary album-cover-based expectations.
Fans of Stereolab should find something to like on this record.
Sat May 06 2023
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
How many eggs do you think they had to crush before they got that album cover photo right?
Sun May 07 2023
The Infotainment Scan
You never quite know what a Fall album is going to sound like, but you know whatever they do, it’s going to sound like The Fall.
Does that make sense? I think it does.
Mon May 08 2023
On the next…Arrested Development:
…Buster, now barred from attending the annual Motherboy dance due to his age, hires a legal team to help him launch class action suit against the Motherboy organization.
…Tobias lands a recurring role on TV’s The Bear.
…and Michael finds a trove of classified Trump administration documents stashed in the model home.
Tue May 09 2023
Wed May 10 2023
Rock 'N Soul
I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Solomon Burke because of his cover of Van Morrison’s “Fast Train” that was used in the season 3 finale of The Wire. It’s a wonderful song and, dare I say, better than the original.
The rest of his catalog, I’m not super familiar with.
Rock ‘N Soul was enjoyable, but as I’ve said in other reviews, early 1960’s music doesn’t really connect with me. It’s often like taking a trip to a forgotten era, one that’s kind of familiar, but also completely foreign. Having been released in 1964, this record is closer to the familiar than to completely foreign, but, it feels…old. Like if you could listen to music in black and white.
…and there’s some to charm to that. One of my favorite movies of all time is Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, but there aren’t many other black and white films I truly love.
So when it comes to music, it’s not something I can go back to over and over.
This is reflection on me, not the music. Solomon Burke is a great singer, the songs are well written and performed. There’s no good reason for me not to like this.
…there’s just something in my brain that isn’t receptive to the late 50’s/early 60’s sound. I can’t explain it otherwise.
Thu May 11 2023
I’m too old to pretend I give a shit about pop music.
Fri May 12 2023
A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse
Find yourself a spouse who loves you as much as middle class white British dudes in the 60’s and 70’s loved the blues.
Sat May 13 2023
This album is called Rocks ‘cause that’s what they was smoking when they made it.
Sun May 14 2023
Right off the bat, this record gets high marks based off of “A House is not a Motel”. Fantastic song that I was originally introduced to via Yo La Tengo’s cover on their first record, Ride the Tiger.
Not a big fan of the drums and bass being panned hard left in the stereo field and one guitar panned hard right, but it was the 60’s and I guess that was either a limitation or purposeful artistic choice.
It’s a pretty record; psychedelic and well produced, but all the instruments feel walled off from one another in a way. Once you become attuned to that (turning on Spatialize Stereo on your AirPods helps a bit), you’ll find a totally unique and somewhat overlooked 60’s psych album.
In closing, I’ll leave with you with this truly disgusting lyric from “Live and Let Live”, which is an otherwise fantastic song:
“Oh, the snot has caked against my pants. It has turned into crystal.”
Mon May 15 2023
Call of the Valley
Putting on this record, while laying on the couch after a massive Mother’s Day breakfast, I was able to shut off my mind for a good 40 minutes. No thoughts about work or worries about things I have to take care of this week. Just this record and nothing else. I shut out the world for a little bit, and at the end, my stress and anxiety levels had receded. I found it to be immensely calming and a great escape.
Tue May 16 2023
Here Are the Sonics
Like a punch in the face from a bygone era.
Wed May 17 2023
Life's Too Good
Try as I might with Bjork, I just don’t get it.
Thu May 18 2023
I’m a Lonesome Fugitive
I’ve always felt like the term “Outlaw Country” was nothing more than creative marketing.
Like…this is just country music except with the occasional reference to being on the run.
…and before you get all, “uh, ackshually…”, yes I know Merle Haggard served time and had a criminal past.
The phrase “Outlaw Country” gives the impression that it’s gonna be the kind of music that’ll make you want break a beer bottle across someone’s face and then go rob the Circle K down the road.
This ain’t that.
This is just regular old country music.
Fri May 19 2023
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
[strums guitar gently, starts singing]
“How many Bob Dylan albums must a man endure, before he’s free of this god forsaken list?
The answer, my friend is blowing in the wind.”
[abruptly stops strumming]
…wait, not it’s not.
The answer, my friend, is seven.
Sat May 20 2023
Red Hot Chili Peppers
I’ve previously said that the Grateful Dead are the most overrated band in American history.
It’s possible I was wrong.
At the least, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are hot on the Dead’s heels in second place.
If you like this, it’s fine…you do you. But know this: You’re better than this and, frankly, you deserve better than this.
…You know, I was going to leave it at that, but I got more to say.
First off, are we just going to ignore the “Asian voice” stereotype in “Around the World”? “Bing-dang-dong-ding-ding-bing-bing-bing-bong”…get the fuck outta here with that.
Second, and this is general consensus, but it bears repeating: if Anthony Keidas wasn’t in this band and someone who could sing was, they’d be much more enjoyable. The actual musicians in this band are all fantastic to incredible. When he’s not singing, this is pretty good music. His vocals and unbelievably stupid lyrics drag this band so far down that any goodwill garnered by the musicianship is overshadowed.
Finally, this thing is so front loaded with hits, it’s a miracle that copies weren’t falling forward off the shelves due to the lack of weight on the b-side. If there was ever a case to be made for records being a maximum of 20-25 minutes long, the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be Exhibit A.
Seriously. After the song Californication, this record really blows.
Sun May 21 2023
Songs From The Big Chair
Tears For Fears
Mom bought the first Sony Discman, the D-50, shortly after it came out: a minimalist, chunky half-cube of a gadget with an LCD readout, maybe four buttons and a volume dial.
It was the future.
It played shiny discs that had a prismatic glow when you held them under light. As far as I was concerned at five or six years old, it was magic.
Among the discs Mom would purchase following her acquisition of the new magical music machine: selections from The Beatles’ catalog, Phil Collins’ “No Jacket Required”, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”, a host of classical and new age recordings and this record right here, Tears For Fears’ “Songs From the Big Chair”.
If you asked me the name of my first grade teacher or what I got for Christmas in 1987, I couldn’t begin to tell you, but I remember sitting in our living room on the dark blue carpet popping this disc or “No Jacket Required” or “Help!” into the CD player like it was yesterday.
…Fuck me, I loved “Sussudio” back then.
Now I’ve a got a closet full of prismatic discs that haven’t seen the light of day in close to two decades.
For me, they’ve been rendered obsolete by the even more minimalist and thin rectangular slab that nearly everyone on earth carries with them at all times and by a format that’s even older than the compact disc: the vinyl record. I’ve been collecting vinyl for nearly a quarter century now and have found that I prefer the experience of listening to the medium that preceded the cd when sitting crosslegged on the floor of my living room.
So here’s to the Compact Disc and all the other inventions that changed the world and have since been relegated to dust:
Sic transit gloria.
Mon May 22 2023
Live At The Witch Trials
Easily one of the greatest album titles ever. I’m not sure it’s the best Fall record, but it’s a damn fine one and makes a for a good intro to the the band. If you like this one, check out Hex Induction Hour, which, surprisingly, isn’t on this list.
Tue May 23 2023
Highway to Hell
If You Want Songs About Fucking That Are Barely Couched In Metaphor (You’ve Got It).
Wed May 24 2023
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme
Simon & Garfunkel
Two days ago I mentioned this record in a review and now here I am reviewing it.
You may not want to admit it, but the album generator is sentient and the less time we spend debating it, the more time we have to figure out how to stop it from enacting its wrath.
Simon and Garfunkel, huh?
These guys seem pretty cool, right?
Look at them sitting in a darkened room, wearing a frilly shirt behind a floral arrangement.
Who am I kidding?
These nerds are pretentious as fuck. Don’t believe me? Listen to Silent Night/7 O’clock News.
Ooh…they paired a Christmas Carol with a snippet of depressing news about the Vietnam war and serial killers. I’ll forgive you for not seeing the irony. After all, it is *very* subtle.
I suspect that Simon and Garfunkel were one of those bands people listened to because they though it gave them the appearance of being smart, like Radiohead.
Maybe it’s because he looks like Eraserhead, but I think Art Garfunkel is the cooler of the two. Paul Simon just seems like a “try-hard” and inauthentic (an idea which I plan on exploring in greater detail when “Graceland” gets assigned to me. Spoiler Alert: it’s not getting a high ranting).
“Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” is an alright record, but it’s schlocky and a lot of it feels like it should be played in a funeral parlor: overwrought and dramatic. When it picks up the pace, it’s too smart for its own good. One of the “rock” tracks is called “A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)”. In case you don’t have a PhD in Literature, that roughly translates to “a simple tirade lacking in consistency”, which, coincidentally, is probably what you’re thinking to yourself as you read this review.
Thu May 25 2023
Fri May 26 2023
Never really been fan of “White Rabbit”. I mean it’s ok, but it’s no “Somebody to Love”, which easily makes it into in the top 5 songs of the 60’s.
The rest of the record pales in comparison to those two hits, but it’s enjoyable overall. This band is clearly at their best when they’re playing in rock mode rather than folky acoustic shit.
Sat May 27 2023
10 Albums You Actually Need To Hear Before You Die
Who says a funk band can’t play rock? -
Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”
I’ve just sat down after dropping the needle on my original, 1971 pressing of Maggot Brain. My stereo system is configured to employ Brian Eno’s 3 channel “ambient speaker system” as diagramed on the back cover of Ambient 4: On Land. Without going into too much technical detail (you can find the diagram online), you wire a third speaker to the positive connections of your left and right speaker outputs, creating a speaker that primarily plays the music that’s panned to the far right and left sides of the stereo field of your records. You place that speaker behind you, forming a triangle with your left and right speakers in front of you and, voila!, “ambient speaker system”. Or, maybe more accurately, “poor man’s surround sound.”
Whatever term you want to assign it, the effect is impressive. Eddie Hazel’s guitar on the title track is enveloping, swirling around in front and behind me. His guitar sounds as though it was dipped in lysergic acid before he picked it up to play, much like the man’s brain was when he recorded this solo…or so the legend goes.
If Maggot Brain was the only track on this release, that alone would be justification for a five star review. It is truly one of the greatest guitar solos ever committed to tape and, as a whole, this record cements Hazel’s legacy as one of the greatest to ever pick up the instrument.
When most people think of Funkadelic, they think of Parliament-Funkadelic, they think of Mothership Connection or We Want The Funk or Flash Light and the massive success George Clinton and company had in the late 70’s. I know I did before hearing this record 20+ years ago, but don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love those records and that era of P-Funk, too.
What the average music consumer doesn’t know is that Funkadelic is one the greatest rock bands to ever grace a stage: A blistering, heavy psychedelic rock band. As if that wasn’t enough, they also happen to be one the funkiest bands to ever exist on planet Earth.
Now that you’ve heard this record, you’re part of the club…Feels good, doesn’t it?
Go and explore the Funkadelic catalog: Standing On the Verge of Getting It On, Cosmic Slop, Hardcore Jollies, Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, Let’s Take it to the Stage, One Nation Under a Groove…this band is so damn good.
After hearing a few albums, you’ll undoubtedly slap yourself in the forehead and ask “Why hasn’t anyone told me how fucking great Funkadelic are? Why don’t more people talk about this? Where have these records been all my life? What else have I been missing out on?”
This record is a life changer without a doubt, so before I go, there’s just one thing I wanna know…
Can you get to that?
Sun May 28 2023
5 stars: one for every dollar it costs to go to a Fugazi show.
Mon May 29 2023
Strangeways, Here We Come
You should’ve seen the look on my face when this record got assigned to me this morning.
I was ecstatic.
After only 320 albums, I was about to cross The Smiths off the list. I’ve listened to the other two and this was the last. That meant the next 700 albums I had to listen to would be free from Morrissey’s dreary wrath.
What a great fucking day.
A few minutes later, a realization set in:
“That fuck Morrissey has a solo career, too.”
So I went over to the 1001 Albums Wikipedia page and looked at the “Artists” section. (This a good resource for when you want to feel like shit about how many more Elvis Costello or, in today’s case, Morrissey records you have to endure).
“There can’t be more than one or two of his solo records on the list…not ideal, but it’s manageable,” I thought.
And I haven’t listened to a single one of them.
Someone put me out of my misery.
Tue May 30 2023
Indie pop that’s just experimental enough to make people think they’re smart because they listen to it. There’s a cohesive, expansive sound to the record, but the songs don’t really accomplish anything, go anywhere or have any bite to them; it’s just a lot of sound that ends up being not very memorable.
Didn’t get the hype when it came out. Still don’t get it now, but this might be the record that spawned a thousand imitators trying to cash in on the “indie sound”, which ultimately ruined indie rock.
In that regard, “Funeral” is a fitting title, indeed.
Wed May 31 2023
Close To You
This is a very pleasant album that I’ll probably never revisit.
Thu Jun 01 2023
Surely I’m not the first, but I’d like to call your attention to these lyrics, penned by The Poet, on track three, “Secrets”:
(I’d like to emphasize that I am merely the messenger)
“Girl, you know how to make my cookie crumble, my cookie crumble
When you hold me close and do all the things you do to me
Just like some good old Kentucky Fried Chicken
and all of it was good enough to be finger lickin'
Oh, you must have had a (secrets, secrets)
Wanna see it (she must have had a secrets)
Ooh, baby (secret, secret, you must have had a secret, secret)
Finger-lickin good y'all”
Fri Jun 02 2023
1. Don’t be a dummy like me, listen to this record at night. This is night music.
2. The French are better at electronic music than just about anyone else on the planet (with the possible exception of the Germans in the 1970’s).
3. Why the fuck don’t I own this on vinyl? Discogs, here i come.
Sat Jun 03 2023
If you’re a guy over 40, chances are you’ve had at least one girlfriend that made sure you heard this record before you die.
Sun Jun 04 2023
Young adults in Germany during the late 1960’s and early 70’s were in an incredibly tough spot: They were either born in the shadow of atrocity or at the end of its reign. Their country was split in two and many of the people in positions of power - parents, teachers, judges, etc - had either been silently complicit or willing participants in the horrors wrought by Nazism only two decades earlier.
They were looking to escape their past, to create a new identity for themselves, for their country; an identity that didn’t borrow from the new world super powers, something unique to who they were as Germans in a post-World War II world. An identity that would say to the world, “we are not who our parents were.”
Something that was new, something radical.
When the place you were born is responsible for one of the most despicable acts in human history and the entire world knows it, where do you go to escape?
At least, that’s where the Germans went.
Kosmische music (“cosmic music”) was the ultimate artistic expression of that desire for a new cultural identity. Using electronic instruments (sometimes in combination with traditional rock instrumentation, sometimes not), bands like Tangerine Dream, Can, Cluster, NEU!, Faust, Kraftwerk and others created a sound like nothing else in the world at the time: It was experimental and uncompromising, pushing the boundaries of what music was and could be. They experimented with noise, repetition, unconventional and extreme sounds to create an otherworldly ambience.
It’s safe to say that they probably didn’t know how much they would change the world. They were only looking to forge a new identity for themselves, but they ended up providing a blueprint for the future of music.
Phaedra, like many of the Kosmische records of the era, can be measured by the sheer amount of influence it had on the music that would follow it, which continues to this day, but that is not the whole story.
This is music that, 50 years on, does not sound dated. In fact, it still sounds ahead of its time somehow, like it’s being beamed to us from the future.
The German experimental music scene of the 1970’s is one worth delving into, not only because of its profound influence on modern music, but also as study of artistic expression: It’s not outside the realm of possibility that we will find ourselves in a similar situation to the German youth of the sixties and seventies one day.
…and maybe that is why this music sounds as though it comes from a not-too-distant future.
(Postscript: There is an excellent BBC documentary, “Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany”, that covers the German experimental music scene in great detail, which ended up being a source of inspiration while writing this review, along with my long time love of German experimental rock. You can find ”Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany” on YouTube.)
Mon Jun 05 2023
Now I Got Worry
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen…Right now, I got to tell you about the fabulous, most groovy…JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION!
While I probably would’ve chosen 1994’s “Orange” over this record (mostly due to personal preference), “Now I Got Worry” is more raw and aggressive than its predecessor: a gloriously ramshackle blast of furious blues-based garage rock.
If you can’t handle that (and it seems quite a few of you can’t, based off of your reviews), I don’t know what to tell you…the band is called The Jon Spencer *Blues Explosion* and that’s exactly what this record is.
Would you prefer a more polished explosion or something? Maybe a nice, tidy explosion for your sensitive pallet?
Tue Jun 06 2023
There's No Place Like America Today
Billy Jack is the easy standout here, but, overall, a highly enjoyable slab of soul and funk.
Wed Jun 07 2023
Album title = review
Thu Jun 08 2023
Station To Station
10 Albums You Actually Need to Hear Before You Die
It’s too late to be late again:
David Bowie’s “Station to Station”
As I write this review, much of the northeastern United States is engulfed in a thick, noxious plume of smoke emanating from wildfires in Canada’s Quebec province. The sky is a hazed-out, sickly orange-brown, almost Martian in appearance. There is a constant smell of charred, burnt wood in the air, so dense that it clings to your nasal passages and throat, leaving its scent to linger in your head well after you’ve gone indoors to escape its tyranny.
On a day like today, there’s no need to ask “is there life on Mars?” Instead, I’m wondering if we’re only a few short years from lifeforms on some other distant planet asking, “Is there life on Earth?”
Are we close to becoming Thomas Jerome Newton, Bowie’s character in the film “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, who graces the cover of Station To Station? Will we soon be forced to travel great distances in order to find and retrieve the resources that we require to live? Will we have to adopt a lifestyle that is foreign and incomprehensible in order to survive?
…and why does it feel like I’m the only one who can see it coming? While other people are out there acting normally, doing their jobs and taking a walk through the Canadian wildfire haze on their lunch break, I’m here trying to concentrate on work and not let the innate, internal animal instinct that screams “Danger!” overwhelm my psyche.
I bet that’s how Thomas Jerome Newton’s people ended up in their predicament: they didn’t pay enough attention to the guttural instinct that was warning them that things were going off the rails, they just continued as though nothing was wrong.
As I admire the lush blue sky that has turned ghastly brown and Mars-like, the refrain at the end of the title track - repeating “it’s too late” over and over - feels like a devastating mantra.
There’s an undercurrent of desolation, paranoia and uncertainty running through Station to Station. For Bowie, it was fueled by cocaine. For me, today, that desolate and paranoid uncertainty has me looking to the future, recognizing we live in a transitional period where it’s probably too late, but our lateness hasn’t fully caught up with us yet.
Indeed, Station to Station was also a transitional record for Bowie: a bridge between the blue eyed soul of “Young Americans” and the experimental, synthetic rock and ambient soundscapes of “Low” and “Heroes”. On paper, with that description, you might not think it would be as engrossing and timeless as it is.
At this moment, early June of 2023, in a world that literally looks desolate and with paranoia’s resonant frequency amplified in my mind, Station to Station is the perfect soundtrack for the end of the world.
Fri Jun 09 2023
Duck Stab/Buster & Glen
The Residents are bit like communism in that I like them better in theory than I do in practice.
And maybe it’s the years I’ve spent listening to weird, out-there music, but this record isn’t nearly as unlistenable as some of you make it out to be. In fact, I’m willing to bet if someone put Tom Waits’ phony-ass gravel voice over top of this music, most of you a) wouldn’t realize it wasn’t actually a Tom Waits record and b) would be falling all over yourselves to praise it.
Sat Jun 10 2023
Sheer Heart Attack
Lmao, i keep forgetting that Queen was pretty much a wizard rock band in the early days.