I liked this one. Sooo British sounding. The simple melodies and riffs provide a good frame for freeform, stream-of-consciousness lyrical outpourings. It got kind of fatiguing on my ears, I'm not sure I would have reached for this one in a vacuum, but I enjoyed it having been prompted to do so. One of those bands that makes me curious about the personalities and backgrounds of the members (especially that of the lead singer).
I've always loved Fleet Foxes but didn't really go deep with them until I listened to their album "Crack-Up". Since then I haven't followed their discography very closely, but I appreciate how little it seems their musical core has changed over the years. They've created a world and left a door open to it ever since. Even as the Fleet Foxes grew more ambitious with their arrangements and writing styles in the years following their eponymous album, would-be departures from this musical home still call it to mind as the place from which we left and to which we always will return. I do think that Robin Pecknold has become a much better singer since this album was released, but besides that it feels like the world of the Fleet Foxes has remained more or less unchanged since its inception. Lyrically, melodically, harmonically, sonically, this music almost always rings the right bells for me. I always get the impression that their music is a big, white, billowing sheet of silk trailing behind a slow-moving plane. Robin Pecknold's voice soars prismatically over hazy pastures of fading green and brown and blue. It's always some time between the end of fall or the quiet onset of winter here, as the listener huddles by a gentle fire, the tip of their nose still a bit cold. Maybe there's an ocean nearby. Every once in a while a flowing run or an especially sharp lyric will pierce the veil and strike me deep in my belly. Pecknold's lyrics always tease towards an open end, a restless urge, an unfinished investigation, in such a way that has me nodding solemnly to their implied questions: "Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it tragic?" The language calls to mind some deep and abiding pastoral mythology, yet for the most part still feels confidently unadorned. I love "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song". The beginning guitar parts remind me a lot of Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat", but Pecknold's flowing melodies are unbounded from a strophic frame in a way that sets the song apart from its here-presumed inspiration. Past that I don't have too many specific points to hit on this album. It feels like a long and gentle flight over a pastoral landscape, as the humble denizens below attempt to make the most out of what precious daylight hours remain.
At first I really disliked this album. Mostly because the suite of retro synths, drum machines, and digital reverbs used in "Dare" has become so associated with 80s tropes that it was difficult for me to access it as anything other than a gimmick. I also feel like lyrics were less of a priority for the members of the band than were sound design and melody. As a result several songs on the album sounded like perfectly decent synth instrumentals that had been retrofitted with lines from a children's book or a teenager's diary. I'm not sure if saying that the writers were being intentionally trite for ironic effect would be giving them too much credit, or if my "modern" ear (trained on the irony of such genres as vapor wave and hyper pop) imbues anything so directly commercial sounding with an implicit sardonicism, or if indeed this was all part of the intended affect. Despite all this, perhaps I was rewired by the sparks and glam and 80s circuitry, because I was really enjoying this album by the time it ended. "The Sound of the Crowd" was the first one that caught my ear, because of the strange vocal processing at the end of the chorus and the unconventional songwriting style in general. I also really liked "Darkness", "Do or Die", "Seconds" and "I am the Law" for similar sound design reasons. There were times when the drum machines struck up a great groove, and the synth arpeggios tickled the stereo field in a way that still felt fresh to my nostalgia-suspicious ear. The weakest song for me was actually the single "Don't You Want Me"; the writing feels a bit clunky to me. As a whole, this album is pretty good! I wish I could have heard this when it first came out to hear how it was situated in its contemporary cultural environment. I don't think I had a good angle of approach from the launch pad of all the "Stranger-Things"-type shows and reheated synthwave tropes that abound in today's cultural repertoire, but the trail that "Dare" blazed still feels interesting, if now a little over-trodden.
So sick. You can almost smell the sweat and pheromones that went into making this album. It's a monolithic middle finger raised above a roaring and youthful crowd. Yet despite its explosive energy and grit, it's mixed unbelievably well; I feel like I never lost track of a single instrument even during the album's most chaotic moments. I feel like I'm going to listen to this album a lot, weaving through gridlocks on the 101, going on grocery strike missions, staring down the leaf-blower-wielding gardener as I angrily scrub the dishes. I wish I knew more about rock music history so I could place it in dialogue with its inspirations and the things that it inspired. I'm hearing tons of Led Zeppelin for sure, in Dave Navarro's guitar tones and comping style, Perry Farrell's singing, the unconventional scales and time signatures, the strings, the riff-driven breakdowns, and so many other elements. Also, similar to many Led Zeppelin records, this album is extremely eclectic in terms of tone and genre, but still feels coherent as a single work. The first few songs kind of run the gamut, jumping between hard rock, funk, metal, grunge, and I'm sure many other rock genres that I'm less familiar with. "Been Caught Stealing" is one of the most 90s-sounding things I've ever heard; something about that swing, that bass groove, and that reverb carbon dates it nearly to the month. But that song's somehow on the same album as "Of Course", which is a Klezmer song? And all of it is followed by "Classic Girl", which is a perfect beautiful comedown after our frenetic tour de force. It's a testament to the talent in the band that they are able to chisel an original and cohesive sound out of so many distinct influences.
Ohh boy, more 80s music. That's what I thought after the reveal. But to my surprise, I got full chills down my arms in the first minute of "The Visitors". By the line "Now I hear them moving", I was literally popping my elbows out and shaking my booty all around the apartment. This full-on body excitement was a bit short lived, though. When I realized the second song "Head Over Heels" was basically an 80s-style Bolero-Mambo song, I found a little kernel of skepticism forming in my gut. And when I heard "I Let The Music Speak", I had to fight the urge to hit the "next" button to get me out of weird-80's-musical-theater-land. After that, I had a bit of a hard time getting back into the album. I had another booty-shaking moment during "One of Us", but for the most part I struggled with the more saccharine, balladic moments that were scattered throughout the album. I thought "Slipping Through My Fingers" was an exception; despite all the drama in the verses, that chorus melody and those thick vocal textures felt just right to my ear. "Cassandra" also seemed to strike a good balance between the nearly-too-sweet delivery of the verses and breakout triplet gallop and polychromatic textures of the chorus. In fact I noticed that same interplay throughout most songs on the album: single-vocal verses delivered in an almost uncomfortably earnest recitative style, offset by choruses full of surprisingly rich and electric vocal textures and rhythmically driving, well-sculpted melodies. This latter feature is the thing that kept me tuned in. In general, I was impressed by this album's leaping melodies, unexpected harmonic shifts, rich vocal textures, and crisp grooves. And even though I couldn't get into the musical-theater-style verses and the over-articulated vocal delivery that characterized much of the album, I think "The Visitors" is well-crafted, earnest, colorful, and at times surprising.
I think I've been grading these albums on a really generous curve, so I'm going to start being a bit more critical from here. This album sucks! Just kidding. I liked it. But mostly only for those thick juicy guitar tones. It was interesting comparing my listening experience with this one versus Jane's Addiction; I don't know why I just feel like I related with the youthful outpouring of Jane's Addiction more than the grungy head bob of Smashing Pumpkins. I just felt like there was more quirk in JA's music, even if they misstepped sometimes. SP feels a lot safer, but it's possible (likely) that they're one of those bands that inspired a lot of copycats, which would make their music sound less exciting to someone who heard the bands that they influenced before hearing them. I could have done without the orchestral treatment in "Disarm". I also kind of felt let down by "Soma", the intro had so much promise but I kind of tuned out by the end, even with the big glow-up halfway through. I did really enjoy "Mayonaise" and "Silverfuck"; in fact I enjoyed the last third of the album a lot more than the first two. The later songs felt more dynamic, more daring and energetic to me. My favorite moment of the whole album was the whole section in "Silverfuck" from that big trippy dominant chord that comes in at 4:19 through the unbelievable thrash of a jam at the end. Those screaming grunge guitars and bounding crashing drums feel incredibly well-earned after the long spacey breakdown. I also really liked "Luna", it felt like a concentrated version of all the things I like about SP. As a whole, Siamese Dream is a really nice album to have on in the background, but until that bit towards the end, I found it hard to sit down and actively listen to. After each attempt to do so my ears kind of just glazed over after and I thought "Yeah, this is nice. The guitars sound great." I think this album could have been an album of guitar-driven instrumentals and not much would have been lost. Again, some really nice tracks towards the end! But in general, not what I'd reach for.
I like it! I agree with the other reviews up here. This is an album full of well-played simple songs, but it gets a bit same-y after a while. It has a nice Oasis / Blur / proto-Real Estate kind of sound, and the album sort of blends together in the same way that a lot of the music from those other bands does for me. I never had an “Oh shit!” moment, but I don’t think that they were shooting for provocation. I really liked December, I’m not sure why that one’s not on Spotify. I also appreciated their use of bluesy major/minor interplay, and all of the diminished and augmented chords (NERD ALERT); all of these added a good amount of spice to the otherwise straightforward melodic main course. The kind of thrash-y electric guitar tones got pretty tiresome; I would have liked a bit more variety on the amps, recording techniques, processing etc. All in all pretty solid! Pleasant and inoffensive perhaps to a fault. 3 Stars.
Pretty good! It would be hard to say that this isn’t a tight album. If the Def Leppard sound were a recipe it would be as follows: take some big reverberant backbeats, thick electric guitars, growly vocals, groovy 8th-note bass lines, raunchy lyrics, then mix well and supersize the whole thing until it fills a stadium. Surprisingly groovy too! Not just head-bobbing 80s rock, a little bit of hip swing in there as well. My favorites were “Rocket,” “Love Bites,” and “Hysteria”. Probably because I found those three to be the quirkiest in terms of interludes, grooves, and overall mood. Not much more to say here; this isn’t my go-to genre but I enjoyed listening to it!
Uhhh... All I can say is that some parts were almost listenable. Most were not! I guess it's cool that they found a bunch of pots and pans to bang on in 1981, don't know if anyone had done that yet? But past that the whole time I was thinking "why is someone doing this to my ears?" Also why did it have to be so long? I actually liked Sado-Masodub. But that was literally the only moment on the album that I thought was kind of cool. Maybe I don't get it! But I'm just glad I never have to listen to this whole thing again.
Hm. I was kind of torn in a couple different directions for this one. The band’s sound is somewhere in the middle of the triangle of Coldplay, Keane, and early Radiohead. I don’t think any of the writing in The Last Broadcast was as tight as that of any of those three bands, though, so I found myself kind of disliking (or getting bored by) the songs. Like damn, “There Goes The Fear” is just the generic brand version of “No Surprises”. Some similar comparisons to other, better songs could probably be drawn for many of the other moments on the album. My guy the lead singer also sounds EXACTLY like Chris Martin, which didn’t do him any favors in terms of setting this band apart. But some moments truly gave me chills! Lurking behind the somewhat bland central songwriting elements was a darker, mysterious and compelling backdrop that felt unique or at least more interesting to me. The beautiful, solemn choral interlude or breakdown of “Satellites” is a good example of what I thought Doves did really well. In general, the interludes and the transitions and the breakdowns were my favorite parts of this album. Shoutout to the Suzuki Omnichord in “Sulphur Man”! The stretch from M62 through Satellites felt the most well-defined in terms of the band’s unique sonic identity, I enjoyed it quite a bit. But besides that, my experience listening to The Last Broadcast was basically boredom bordering on discomfort, punctuated by moments of “Whoa, what’s that dark shape way over there?” Some redeeming qualities here, but probably not enough for me to come back to this album in the future.
Great album! It was a lot more folk-country than I expected, from the songwriting to the guitar patterns to the way Beck sings. What set it apart for me were the sudden harmonic shifts and chord jumps characteristic of a lot of late 90s early 00s music (think Elliot Smith, Zero Seven, Nirvana, early Radiohead, etc.), and the swelling and wandering string textures. My favorite songs on this album were probably "Lost Cause", "End of the Day", "Lonesome Tears". All super harmonically interesting but never jagged or jumpy. It's interesting because I felt like all of the songs sound kind of similar but I never got bored of the sound or the mood. Beck creates a particular feeling with his somber vocal delivery: it's a bittersweet, "what can you do?" sort of shrug punctuated by a furrowed brow, a mood that melts into quiet wonderment as we look up to the nascent starlight and, despite our tragedy-honed suspicions, imagine better days to come.
I just kind of don't get the blues! Fair warning, Jacob's and my reviews might be similar here for a while because we're in the same place listening at the same time lol. But we both largely agreed: for us the blues are more fun to play than to listen to. Don't get me wrong, this album was really pleasant to have on in the background while prepping coffee and cooking and cleaning. But my enjoyment just kind of hovered on a superficial level for the whole duration. My eyes kind of glaze over and my head bobs gradually grow less emphatic the more I sit down and try to really listen to what's going on. "I Can't Be Satisfied" and "Crosseyed Cat" were exceptions, super weird funky shuffle-y grooves!! Everything else seemed to be straight blues, better consumed live at a block party, outdoor festival, or someone's backyard than on studio speakers. One really obviously great thing about this album is all of the players. It's so tight in a subtle way: when the pianist doubles the bass-line, the harmonica player plays a more comp-y pattern; when the harmonica player plays trills and more solo-y lines, the piano steps up to fill in the chords; the bass and drum battery are so tightly locked that you almost feel them more than hear them. And of course Muddy Waters' vocals are incredible, expressive, raw, emotive without ever sounding forced. My 3 star review here is more a reflection of my own inability to approach and enjoy the blues than a reflection of the album itself. I think part of it might be because I played the sh*t out of the blues every day when I was playing trombone in jazz bands growing up. But I definitely didn't mind the album! Just wish I could get in there and enjoy it more.
Fun! Not sure what the exact breakdown of genres would be but a lot of songs felt like punky Irish shanties; I pictured wooden floors and beer and salt water. I feel like I've heard some of the more upbeat songs in Scorsese films. There was a good variety of styles here too; crazy that "Fairytale of New York" and "Fiesta" were on the same album. But the gritty, charged vocal performance of Spider Stacy (what a name) provided a nice through-line. The band is super tight, that accordion player rips and the strings sound great. There were some moments of more somber beauty in there too, "Shanne Bradley" and "Fairytale of New York" were gorgeous. Not too much else to say, this isn't a type of sound I'm super familiar with but it was great to appreciate The Pogues from a distance. A little bit of appropriation going on maybe but I won't question it too deeply lol. Enjoyed it!
Never been too wild about Morrissey or The Smiths but I feel like I could be converted if I were to find the right angle of approach. The music is simple and catchy; I think this album bears repeated listenings well because it's satisfying to hear those familiar melodies crystallize on top of the vague outlines of them in your memory. I think this is a great backdrop to certain kinds of parties and social events, but it didn't really shake me up or grab me when I was giving it a dedicated listen. What I enjoyed the most with this album was pulling up the lyrics while listening. So many "wait, what??" moments. It feels like he was just having a laugh retrofitting the back pages of his journal entries to random tracks that his musician friends sent him. "Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning" was sooo dark but kind of hilarious as a result. It was also one of my favorites from a musical standpoint. It feels like Morrissey albums are all about Morrissey; the music is kind of secondary. If you're into his self-presentation, his kind of jarring, almost funny, dark, flippant lyrical style, and his covered vocal tone that teeters dangerously on the upper edge of flat, then this one's for you. Musically it didn't do too much for me though.
Awesome listen! Wow. Everything from the guitar and sitar tones to the juicy Moog lines to the unexpected backbeat grooves. The mix is airtight; sitar can sound really pokey and bright but here it sounds warm and full. I love all of these songs, but "Mamata (Affection)" comes to mind as a favorite. The sitar tones sound really thick and rich, they play super well with electric guitar and I can't say I've heard a blend like that before. I get chills every time the sitar swells out over a simple backbeat pocket or flourishes out of the texture. It's such a simple recipe: Western rock guitar tones and harmonies, spacey Moog lines and textures, a rock solid battery of bass and drums bolstered by Indian drums, all as the perfect backdrop for the beautiful sitar lead.
It was alright! Really love "Have You Seen Her Face", "Everybody's Been Burned", and that awesome cover of "My Back Pages". Can definitely tell they were in the same ecosystem as The Beatles and The Beach Boys (and obviously Dylan). But I don't think they were quite as tight as any of those contemporaries on the songwriting, composition, or performance front. Had a few other problems with it. It struck me as a little weird to name an album after a lyric in a cover song, but maybe there's some meaning there that I'm missing. Also I felt like the playing wasn't super tight; I can point to moments on every instrument (maybe except the vocal) that were pretty out of time or sloppy. And not a fan of that super far stereo spread with drum overheads faintly in the right and guitars running completely uncontested in the left (they definitely aren't the only band in this era to pan everything to oblivion but it still bears mentioning). And I don't think they quite pulled off the psychedelic effect they were going for for some of the songs from a musical or texture standpoint. Honestly only really liked about 3 or 4 songs on the album, the rest were okay at best. This one's probably a low 3 for me; some moments were pretty nice but don't think I'd love sitting through the whole thing again.
What is this an indie metroid-vania rogue-like side-scrolling action platformer OST?? From me that's high praise. Really interesting music. About 4 minutes into the first track I was fully hooked. Such an interesting recording environment. Texturally and compositionally so cool; event though each of the pieces are super long no one idea overstays its welcome. Some jarring moments too, like the first entrance of the electric guitar in the first track. Really feels like a series of vignettes, or like some long overture to an epic musical. Some cool Steve Reich-esque moments too of weird rhythmic groupings and melodic sequences that build tension, then release into something wildly unexpected and driving. So much to say because I feel like this album does so much! I am so impressed by the sheer output and pace of ideas in each part. Probably one of the most interesting albums I’ve heard in the sense that I was constantly being pleasantly surprised by a new musical thing. We gotta discuss the goblin singing in Pt. II. It’s so dank!!! But I’m also really confused about it. It’s also I think the first moment we get drums in the album? So strange and cool. I was half joking with my first line but this music is super linked to video game music in my mind; the goblin spitting molten hot fire over electric guitars and a backbeat reinforces this feeling. All in all this album is amazing! Funny, interesting, explosively creative and novel while thoroughly listenable all the way through. 5 from me!