Posts Tagged ‘nirvana’

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Stationary/Moving Pictures

February 24, 2010

It is early in the evening and I am reading John Dos Passos. And I am listening to Stars of the Lid, because Stars of the Lid make the only music that I can listen to while studying. Their drones and long-held notes frame my existence for short periods of time before they shift into another form.

I have been extremely tired lately. Tired, apathetic, lethargic. But not depressed or anxious, which is a big change. But my limbs are very heavy, I don’t have much motivation to do much, and I can’t seem to get excited about anything. This is not to say that I feel that things bore me or that I feel as if I’m above being excited by anything in my life right now. I realize that this is a personal problem and I would like to rectify it, but I’m not sure what I can do. Exercise is a possibility, but the thought of going to the gym makes me tired and uncomfortable, but it would still most likely be a good idea. In any case, I just find myself wanting to retreat to bed almost all the time, and when I have time planned to do something like study, read or write, I’m often just stricken with a really overwhelming sleepiness. If I then do go lay down on the couch or my bed, I can’t close my eyes and go to sleep, and so I get bored, get out of bed, go somewhere, and the cycle begins anew. Writing and music are still things I spend time on, but mostly because I’m bored, and they don’t really excite me like they used to. Maybe someone would just call all of this laziness, and it very well might be, but that I haven’t really pinned it as this makes me think there is more to it than that. My psychiatrist didn’t seem to take much notice of it when I told him about it, but my counselor did. I’ll ask my psychiatrist about it again when I next see him, and I’ll continue to explore the issue weekly with my counselor.

I feel like I need to remove myself from this time and place. I can’t do either but I can at least pretend, and maybe that would make me feel somewhat better. I’m going to take a cheese grater to my jeans tonight. I’ve been showering every other day, and I don’t find myself to be smelly. I’ve been listening to Love Battery and Hole, and Nirvana are beginning to excite me again. I’m going to buy converse sneakers, next time I need a new pair of shoes. I’ll probably buy a pack of Turkish Golds and get rid of the pack very, very slowly. I’m wondering why it is exactly that I want to do all this. I’m thinking there may be a deep seeded reason, some kind of desire for a certain culture that I never got to experience. A lot of people may call it pretending to be something I’m not. I don’t think that. I think it’s finally becoming someone I want to be. My biggest hate is people pretending to be someone else. “Myself” is someone I know deeply and closely, and it’s about time I let him out as much as humanly possible.

This week I’ve been reading Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” for my class on American Literature from 1865 to the present day, and I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it. Granted, the thing is exhausting. I can typically only stand to sit and go through about five to ten pages at a time, because the way it is written is exhausting and hard to follow. But it seems pretty self-evidently brilliant. Faulkner’s characters are just incredibly human, despite the fact that their actions and the way they are written is quite surreal. The story seems to be viewed through a blurred looking glass, the immediate, stream-of-consciousness perspectives of individual characters. It is a willfully difficult story and Faulkner clearly knew this, but still there are many rewards to be found here, though I’ve yet to isolate more than a few of them, and there are no doubt more. I need to teach a class session on this book, and I’m looking forward to that. I think it will be refreshing and informative to have a conversation with my class about this book.

I am looking for things to take pictures of. I want to get through this last roll so I can develop what I have and get back the pictures of the snow filled Washington DC. It is supposed to snow again tonight, a lot. I’ve heard upwards of a foot. Maybe more pictures? Hopefully my aunt will send me the old camera soon, the antique. I would love to take pictures with it. I want to pursue photography now that I have a camera, even though I’m not in a photography class anymore. If you would let me take pictures of you, please let me know.

For now, more Stars.

Best

ATB

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Nirvana – Bleach

September 2, 2008

When I first bought Bleach, it came with a sticker on it, a black and white picture of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and original drummer Chad Channing, with the words “This is Nirvana’s First Album” in the signature Nirvana font. This actually makes some kind of sense in the area of marketing, because most anyone who would buy Bleach has already heard the band’s radio hits, of which Bleach has none, and it almost needs to be spelled out that the album is in fact by Nirvana, the same band that tore down as many barriers and rounded up as many fans as they did within two years after its release.

Bleach shows the band in a much different condition than they are best known for. Instead of the later problems with fame, they had a hard enough time putting bread on the table let alone getting noticed when it was being made. It comes as a surprise to many that an album with as much toil and trouble behind its recording and production as Bleach could be so much less monumental in comparison to Nevermind and In Utero, but the album is actually more “grungy” than most everything else was on the grunge market at the time, and it did do some things that hadn’t been approached before.

Instead of combining melodicism and heavy production like Nevermind and In Utero would later do, Bleach seems to waver back and forth between the two. It is hard to listen to the albums pop pieces, Blew and About a Girl, in context with the rest of the album’s stark heaviness, but in that sense this contrast actually foreshadows some of the band’s later work. Side A is the most consistent and powerful, containing the aforementioned hits as well as two songs worth of scalding guitar heroics, School and the Shocking Blue cover of Love Buzz. Much of the rest of the album is extremely heavy, most times to the point where it is rather silly, and also rather poorly written. There are a couple sludgey songs that are heavily inspired by The Melvins, namely Paper Cuts and Sifting. The rest are fast and heavy, with the verses consisting of uninspired riffing with pockets of memorable choruses in between. Lyrically Bleach goes back and forth between interesting and meaningful vocal melodies to scowling potty humor. In short, Cobain has clearly already learned how to write memorable, meaningful hooks, but doesn’t really know what to do with them.

Two essential tracks from the Bleach sessions that are actually very consistent were not included on the original pressing of the album. The 1991 remastered reissue contains Big Cheese and Downer, two of the better songs from the sessions. It makes little sense that these songs were not included on the original release. Big Cheese is a grimey rocker much in the vein of Love Buzz. Downer is the shortest song present, clocking in at under two minutes, but does more damage than many of the albums less accomplished songs combined, presenting a pessimistic world view as well as some of the band’s most memorable riffs from their early years.

Some of these songs may seem dated or cliche, but in fact this is a very early grunge album that most everyone liked and took cues from upon its release. Although it is undeniably patchy, Nirvana mostly have the right idea, and Bleach is one of the heaviest and most influential early grunge albums as well as a document of an era in music, paving the way for Nevermind two years later.

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Eleven Reviews

April 1, 2007

Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains [Tripod]
Tripod
For their final studio effort, Alice In Chains delivered a full album that they did not accompany with a tour. They did, however, perform on David Letterman, and watching that performance even today will send chills down even casual fan’s backs. Alice In Chains Unplugged may have tied the loose ends up and ended up being the final farewell, but this album is where you see the breakdown happening for Layne Staley. Not that the album is all melancholy or heavy metal. This is actually AiCs most diverse record, and it touches on everything from the most hardcore sludge they have ever produced (no less Sludge Factory, and Grind too) to more positive songs (Heaven Beside You, Shame In You). But you can definitely hear the dissolution of the band in this record, mostly because it bounces around so much. The beautiful classic Heaven Beside You segues into the insane nausea of Head Creeps without any provocation. Most all the songs are good except for a few in the last half that don’t quite cut it as AiC classics, but Heaven Beside You is still one of the bands best and Again is the heaviest thing since Them Bones. The real winner is Over Now. After what appears to be a curl-up-and-die maneuver with the interesting Frogs, there is silence, and then a muffled recorded trumpet resound, after which the confused positive/negative song kicks in and does significant emotional effect on the listener. The biggest problem with this album is the production, which falters very obviously. The idea to continue layering Layne’s vocals was a good idea, but the vocals are treated very poorly here and the sound is simply not heavy enough. Such an emotional record should not have been treated so preciously. A remaster, perhaps? It’s not perfect, but it is a respectable way to throw in the towel and contains some of Alice In Chains’ very best songs.

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin [Box Set]
Tripod
This box set released in 1990 acts as an inflated greatest hits to the music of Led Zeppelin. Each disk both covers a specific time period as well as a musical aesthetic. The first disk is the dirty blues rock that made Led Zep famous, the second disk more folky acoustic stuff (my favorite), the third disk is the longer stuff mostly from the middle career, and the fourth disk is the best of the latter stuff that kind of needs to be included for posterity. Jimmy Paige himself chose the songs so the selection is solid, and every song is great. But the truth stands that this box set was probably unnecessary. There are some rarities rounded up, the bands two famous b-sides Traveling Riverside Blues and the Bob Dylan cover Hey Hey What Can I Do, as well as a brilliant live Jimmy Paige take of White Summer/Black Mountain Side. But beyond that, there isn’t too much incentive for fans. This collection is geared towards the fan who is a little more than casual but less than obsessive, a rare breed for Led Zeppelin. For that reason, people interested in the band could have done better with the two disk greatest hits, and people who want more could have gone with The Complete Studio Recordings box set, which also has the two aforementioned b-sides. The fourth disk may be useful for people who do not want to get too into the bands latter mediocre career, as it gathers the best of those albums pretty effectively. As a collection of songs this is easily an A+ purchase, but as a compilation it is just dumb. One is probably better off just getting The Complete Studio Recordings or starting the long fan trek of buying all the albums. Led Zeppelin was a fantastic band and this is a good portrait, but why stop at this when you could have the whole deal?

Boards of Canada – Music Has The Right to Children
Music Has The Right To Children
Surely Boards of Canada’s finest work, Music Has The Right to Children is at first downright confusing and off-putting but is ultimately a great ambient work. This is an album that has no clear purpose but in that sense reasserts itself within each song, creating everything ranging from small interludes to long beat oriented ambient techno. I remember walking home one day listening to this on my headphones. An Eagle In Your Mind was playing on the way there, the cool constantly changing beats keeping my mind interested and relaxed over the interesting synthesizer. Then the second I unlocked my door and walked into my dark apartment, The Color of the Fire started to play. The song is basically an airy drone underneath a childs voice horribly echoed and warped, complemented by bell-like instruments. I kind of freaked out. I didn’t know what the hell was going on and I felt like the sounds were real enough to be in the actual apartment. That is when the true purpose of this album opened up to me. Music Has The Right to Children is an album of electronic audio toys. Every song on the album has it’s own fun charms. There are some more straightforward pieces, especially the chill Turquoise Hexagon Sun comes to mind, and other times the album is more challenging, like with Sixtyten. Roygbiv is unspeakably fun or the short time it lasts, and Wildlife Analysis is a relaxing ambient opener. The whole album has a recurring mood of comfortable technology, and for that reason the album sticks together very well for how much it bounces around. It may have a few weaker songs, but the strong songs are enough to compensate and make the album a joy to listen to at any time, and a personal favorite as well. Rarely will you find an electronic/ambient album that is both passive and interesting, but Music Has The Right to Children makes the cut and is a completely unique, priceless album.

Aphex Twin – Richard D. James Album
Richard D. James Album
The issue everyone seems to have with Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James Album is mostly due to confusion. Confusion that the record simply does not straighten out. James’ approach on this record is completely skewed, and while this is definitely a product of his usual fun and ultimately effective psyche, listeners will likely be put off by his odd taste. Simply put, this record isn’t sure if it wants to be happy or evil, and the result is a big mess. It’s a fun mess, and an interesting one too, but by no means is this for the casual electronica listener. The ingredients are usually simple ambient melodies that could have worked as songs on their own (or maybe with soft beats) inflated to ludicrous levels of energy by breakneck beats. A surprise lies at every turn of this album, and as a result, the listener is hardly ever spared their temporary sanity. The opening 4 is an Aphex masterwork, a touching gel of strings hammered by the fast beats to make an interesting and contemplative modern piece. But then conversely the next song, Cornish Acid, is fun in a horribly evil way, with practically the same beats overlaying a creepy synthesizer. These decided contradictions are placed by the minute. Sometimes the trick works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Goon Gumpas strangely enough has no beat, and it’s a charming melody, enough to make even the happiest listener suspicious of what tricks might be up Richard’s sleeves. Girl/Boy Song is fairly innocuous even under the asteroid field of a drum machine, and another highlight. Logon Rock Witch is just evil, with a playful organ/jack-in-the-box tune that drifts into a creepy haze. And of course, Milkman is a schizophrenic trick that needs no explanation. This album probably does what it sets out to do with flying colors. I simply don’t always enjoy the goal. The intent is to make good electronic music, and there is a myriad of good tracks here, specifically 4, Fingerbib, and Girl/Boy Song. But the intent is also to confuse with an obnoxious juxtaposition of clashing elements. This can be enjoyable, and there are people who enjoy beats like this, so this is no throwaway. But I probably would have enjoyed the album more had those beats not been there at all. This album is insanity, take it or leave it.

The Cranberries – Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?
Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?
Irish rockers The Cranberries delivered their most acclaimed record as a debut, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We. There is a certain charm to this kind of music, and no question they presented their style very well for a debut. But there is simply something about this that is lacking. If anything, the wonderful tune Dreams is enough to justify the rest of the album repeating itself. And it does sort of linger on the same melancholy Gaelic themes a lot. When it does it with specific taste and hooks like with I Still Do, it’s alright. But one would think that if the band continued on in the same way they presented Dreams, the album would have been nothing short of phenomenal. But unfortunately, what The Cranberries do the most is not necessarily the most interesting. In any case, some songs here are just priceless, namely Linger and Dreams, but for anyone who wants good Irish rock, a very narrow genre, it definitely wouldn’t be a bad purchase.

The Cure – Standing on a Beach
Standing on a Beach
The Cure are the owners of a frighteningly large body of work and can therefore be a complete hassle to approach. Starting at any individual album can likely result in misconceptions or an unclear picture of what The Cure were really like because at every leg of their long career they have been a bit different. The later compilation Greatest Hits just doesn’t do the job, and there has not yet been a good collection that has covered the bands whole near three decade career. When Standing on a Beach was made, there was never any question whether another collection would have to be made because the band was already making their next album Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, so this was never meant to be a complete picture but it is most likely the best place to start diving into The Cure’s imposing discography. The material here runs from the subdued punk of the bands debut Three Imaginary Boys all the way through the commercial sucess The Head on the Door, and the development is undeniably great and a wonder to listen to. Robert Smith’s voice is honed and the guitars are refined over the years that this spans. All the songs here are great, and it’s a wonder how a band so comtemplative and long winded can make such great pop gems. Accuracy is not any issue because this is a collection of singles, but the band definitely gave their best to the radio and never lost their grace in the process. The Cure are a great band and worthy of exploring, but it is tiring and troublesome to know where to start. This is not a complete picture, but there will most likely never be a completely accurate one, so for casual fans this along with the bands other singles collection Galore will be all one could ever need. And for those who want to dig deeper, this is a good branching point and signpost for where to go next. Either way, Standing on a Beach is a collection of great songs and further proof that The Cure are always fantastic.

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
Pretty Hate Machine
At what it does, Nine Inch Nails’ debut Pretty Hate Machine is a killer record. But unfortunately it has some qualities that are hard to get used to or simply not for everyone. This isn’t considered one of the industrial genres best records for no reason. Most all the songs are irresistibly catchy while staying abrasive and heavy. For a first song, Head Like a Hole is still arguably Trent Reznor’s finest concoction of muscular guitars and hypnotic electronica, and the lyrics aren’t bad either. However, one of this albums many flaws are how hit or miss the lyrics are. Half the time, they are spot on and a joy to hear unfurl (lay my hands on Heaven and the sun and the moon and the stars / while the devil wants to fuck me in the back of his car), and at all other times they are cringeworthy at best (how could you turn us into this? / after you just taught me how to kiss…you). Another problem people will have with this album is the very ’80s production values, such as the echoed snares and the stylized synthesizers. But fortunately the core of the record is simply good enough to keep it’s quality apparent even after almost twenty years under it’s belt. Each song is individually crisened with great hook and develops with great guitars and catchy electronic beats and tunes. Not only are all the songs strong, but the record presents itself like a finely cut gem. None of these tunes are as bleak or pained as Reznor’s later songs, but they still have a significant bit of emotion. No question, this is a thematic album based on a relationship that is both painful but also seductively fun, but the lyrics just don’t quite cut it in the end. All the tracks are standout, from the devils hook Kinda I Want To to the sexual pulse of Down In It. The album has great things to share with the right listener, a lot like The Downward Spiral, but it’s problems catch up with it pretty readily. Although it may not be an indesputable masterpiece, it is still a great collection of songs, one of the first truly good industrial records, and a fantastic start to Trent Reznor’s great career.

Cocteau Twins – Garlands
Garlands
Garlands is no question Cocteau Twins most off the wall, odd creation. Being the bands debut one can only expect so much, but either way this is hardly an enjoyable listen. The intension here is clouded. This is kind of a stab at the gothic genre but without as much force as The Cure or similar artists. Garlands is of it’s own world, though. The beats are almost primeval, and the guitar and bass provides a quiet, reserved swirl of out of place sound in the backdrop of Liz Frasers at this point un-honed vocals. To say I don’t understand this record is avoiding the obvious fact that I don’t enjoy listening to it, but the album may well be purposefully strange. Almost every track is an uncomfortable swirl of insanity, and the guitars rarely do anything more than unsettle, and the songs do not conclude very well. One has to wonder, judging from the sharp rise in quality with the proceeding record Head Over Heels, whether this disorder was intended. But the album does have it’s redeeming moments that justify it’s existence. Blind Dumb Deaf is absolutely gorgeous in a sad paranoid way, the title track Garlands is actually kind of interesting, and Wax and Wane is often cited as a Cocteau Twins favorite by hardcore fans who like the bands earlier work. The truth is, this is just setup for the brilliance of Head Over Heels and the spectacular career that follows, but this might actually be your thing if you are looking for early gothic music.

Oceans 11 Soundtrack
Ocean's 11
For a movie that has an otherwise fantastic soundtrack, the CD release is a let down in most all ways. Whoever compiled this clearly did not know what the hell they were doing, that simple. What struck me about Oceans 11 most the first time I saw it was the awesome jazz score, but on here, most of the songs are smashed in value by way of either brevity or inclusion of in-movie dialogue. Tunes like Pickpockets, Ruben’s In, and Stealing The Pinch, and Hookers would be ten times more enjoyable if they weren’t so criminally short, and the dialogue sprinkled throughout is not only unnecessary but also annoying. Some otherwise darling Percy Faith songs are only played as background music to dialogue… So stupid. What saves this for near salvation in the longrun is the fact that the music is fantastic. Boobytrapping, The Projets, Gritty Shaker, $160 Million Chinese Man, and 69 Police are all great songs and long enough for the keeping. Claire de Lune is, as always, a charming classic as well. But the fact of the matter is, the production here is catastrophic. Fans of the movie and it’s music deserve better, and this just doesn’t deliver on the level it should.

Smashing Pumpkins – Rotten Apples: The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits
Rotten Apples
As a sampler to the Smashing Pumpkins discography, Rotten Apples does a fair job, but as a Greatest Hits compilation it fails on a few levels. For one thing, the song selection is rather mixed. To be fair, this is not “Rotten Apples: Best Of Smashing Pumpkins.” Instead, we are treated to what is supposed to be the bands biggest hits on the radio, and in many ways those hits are not presented well enough. Any fan could make the argument that certain songs should have been included, but for a few reasons this compilation just can’t decide whether it wants to be a Greatest Hits or a Best Of, so it falters more in the face of these complaints. The choice of including a shortened version of Drown from the Singles soundtrack is a nice treat though, and two bonus unreleased songs are saved for last as the incentive for fans. These two songs are, no question, fantastic. But attention to the bands whole career is divided between it’s uneven components at the demise of quality of songs. Once again, personal preference is a prevalent complaint. Mayonaise was a much bigger hit than Disarm, and there was no reason whatsoever to include Eye at all. Landslide is truly one of the bands greater gems, but it does not reflect on it’s respective album quite as much as something like Frail And Bedazzled would. If you want a place to start, this might be the best bet you have.

Nirvana – Nirvana Unplugged
Nirvana Unplugged
For as long as I can remember, Nirvana Unplugged has haunted, amazed, and touched me on levels that no other record can. It would be silly for me to pretend that this isn’t my all time favorite record considering how much I come back to it even after long periods of leaving the bands music on the backburner. Every song here is a classic, and each song, be it one of the bands songs or one of the covers, is flexed to it’s otherwise unseen limits, displaying all their glory at completely new revealing angles. Instrumentally, the music is hypnotizing, and I’m yet to figure out why even after all these years, but the perfect rhythm section probably helps and the beautiful guitars are always wonderful. The momentum the album carries is never interrupted, from the Beatles pop of About A Girl through the Meat Puppets set straight down to the Leadbelly cover. Absolutely every moment on this album is as good as can be; there is not one weak song, and even Something In The Way, which I have always considered to be one of Nirvana’s lesser songs from their popular days, is seamlessly transformed into a wonderful gem. Considering Kurt Cobain shot up some heroine right before this show and was nervous out of his mind, the quality of the music is nothing short of miraculous. The band is, in fact, in better playing condition than they have ever been, even if Dave isn’t used to playing so quietly and Kurt is high and emotionally broken. There is clearly an uneasiness here, which makes the listening experience that much more enjoyable. Kurt exaggerates the price of a Leadbelly guitar among other precious nuances shared with the audience in between songs, as if to hide what emotions are really there. Thankfully, this music speaks emotions that words cannot capture and more than makes up for the less than adequate suicide note that Kurt would write in not that many more weeks. This is not only the greatest recording Nirvana ever did, but it is also the unequivocal culmination of their entire career, perfectly tying up any loose ends and leaving me with nothing more to desire from what has always been my favorite band even under deep scrutiny. It is my personal opinion that no record is ever completely perfect, but for all intents and purposes, this is as perfect to me as any album has ever been.

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Ten Reviews

March 1, 2007

So I found this thing called rateyourmusic.com.

Anyone who knows me knows I have issues even keeping my own tastes and opinions straight, and I feel like having a profile like this helps put everything into perspective for me and keep my thoughts organized. It’s a good system for showing what I have, what I want, and what I really like as well. I have copy/pasted all the reviews from here over to there by now. But I have done a few quickie reviews on RYM as well. Not big, full album reviews, but smaller, quick, concise ones. And I feel like that’s working a bit better for me. Whenever I ask for criticism on my reviews, they are almost always that they are too long and not concise enough. So I think for a time I might see if I can write a lot shorter reviews and see how it works out. It’s not like full album reviews will just be out of the question though, I already have some more of those on the way. But I want to post some of the quickie ones I’ve got done on RYM. Enjoy.

Beck – One Foot In The Grave

Beck’s One Foot In The Grave is a quaint release in every way; it wasn’t a major album release, only two out of it’s sixteen songs meander into the three minute range, and most all of the tracks are acoustic folk recordings. Beck’s odd personality still gets into the mix with songs like Forcefield and Cyanide Breath Mint, but this is probably his most subdued album next to Sea Change. Quantity is clearly valued over quality here, but in any case almost all of the songs are real treats. The first five tracks are among Beck’s absolute best and He’s a Mighty Good Leader makes for a great opening cover, and Hollow Log is nothing if not simple and touching. A must have for Beck fans, this album is a real treat and a taste of Beck’s more stripped down early style.

Crossfade – Crossfade

I have no idea why I like this. Crossfade is a guilty pleasure record for me for sure, following in the wake of Linkin Park and other mediocre nu-metal. And let’s be honest here, it is mediocre nu-metal. Very few albums jump between good and bad as much as this. The opening Starless represents just about everything this album does wrong with a boring riff and cliched lyrics of pain and hate. Cold is interestingly enough an apology song and doesn’t wallow in it’s own problems. In any case, the lyrics almost always fail. It reaches some pretty good vibes though, which is weird, because a band of this stature really shouldn’t. It’s a contemplative listen, but the guitars don’t have enough strength. For as bad as Death Trend Setta is (if the name didn’t tip you off anyway), there are other songs that are actually good, specifically So Far Away and Disco, both of which have decent riffs and good choruses. The albums only true win though is The Unknown, the closing. It’s a simple elegant end to an otherwise overly complicated and boring album, and it emenates some great vibes and has an irresistable hook. I hate to see it, but I like this. It fails about as much as it suceeds, so I guess it’s not that accomplished, but it’s high points are actually good. For sleazy whining metal anyway.

Gorillaz – G-Sides

Gorillaz debuted with a killer album of chilled hip-hop and rock, and the album rocketed Damon Albarn to heights rivaling his fame as frontman of Blur. The album had several singles and some very good b-sides, and G-Sides is the best way to get those b-sides. But really, the disk only contains five b-sides that can’t be heard elsewhere. You might not have the Soulchild Remix of 19-2000 depending on your edition of Gorillaz, and it is far superior to the original version and well worth having, but besides the b-sides the disk only has sub-par remixes up for grabs. The version of Latin Simone found here has English vocals, and the Spanish ones were much better anyway. The rest of the remixes are really bad, nothing worth having. But the five b-sides are great gems. The true winners are Faust (chillout synths galore), Ghost Train (almost gospel hip-hop goodness) and 12D3 (a low key guitar strum with accompanying soft vocals). Probably unnecessary, but worth picking up if you liked Gorillaz.

Green Day – American Idiot

It’s unfortunate that I have gotten to the point where I cringe at the name ‘American Idiot.’ This is a very good pop album and that is just that, but it was overblown to ridiculous proportions. I’m not sure that I have heard any single album overplayed as much as this on the radiowaves, and for that reason the album is almost a task to listen to all the way through. But if it’s any condolences, this is about as good as the bands most popular effort Dookie, in it’s own way. Green Day hasn’t changed much by 2004, and they still know how to mix pop with punk pretty effortlessly. They have, however, gained a political edge. I had the pleasure of seeing the band play live on the tour, and they were very good. The crowd was annoying as all getout, but that aside the band still knows how to put on a show. And by this time they still know how to make a catchy tune. The title track and Holiday are probably the two best songs on the album, not to outrule the two great rock symphonies Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming that are just too freaking long for the radio, but they were by no means the only tunes that got radioplay. Boulevard of Broken Dreams was a radio juggernaut and Wake Me Up When September ends got a music video what felt like years after this came out. It trips in a few places, specifically Are We The Waiting and Extraordinary Girl, but it is still classic Green Day. It just annoys the shit out of me. The radio killed it. Does that matter? Eh, not really.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Cow Fingers and Mosquitoe Pie

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous blues artist you will ever have the pleasure of listening to. His popularity lives on even after his death and this disk outlines his career very well. Let’s be honest here, the man is freaking crazy. But fortunately, this craziness translates through his music perfectly. His biggest claim to fame is his, well, incessant screaming, and he does it all the time. Be it through the ridiculous blathering of Little Demon or You Made Me Love You, the mindbending irony of Darling, Please Forgive Me (the man did have well over sixty illegitimate children), or the racist bombshells I Love Paris and Hong Kong, every minute of this is pure gold. This compilation would have been worth it’s price if only just for the fantastic and influential I Put A Spell On You and the hilarious cover of Temptation, but you get your full money’s worth on this album. The only problem is the lack of Constipation Blues, a Screamin’ Jay classic that you can probably hear in your mind already. There are even some alternate takes to put the icing on the cake. Don’t hesitate; pick this up now. You need it.

Nirvana – Sliver: The Best of the Box

I can’t bear to give this a bad rating, mostly because most all of these songs are very good Nirvana rarities, but I won’t deny that the collection is kind of pointless. Anyone who would have been interested in these rarities in the first place probably wouldn’t have been adverse to just shelling out the money for the box set With The Lights Out. Even if they did put their trust in this alone, there are many selections from the box set that were left out and truly deserved a spot, such as D7, They Hung Him On A Cross, If You Must, and Verse Chorus Verse. There are three previously unreleased tracks that might make this worth it to fans like me, and they are the Spank Thru take from the Fecal Matter demo, a boombox version of Come As You Are, and another version of Sappy. I can’t complain too much because these are all great tracks, but it’s a poorly constructed and unnecessary compilation that was probably a ploy to get the casual fans money, and it most likely didn’t work very well. That’s alright though; it’s another one for the collection.

Santana – Shaman

Why I gave this the lowest rating possible is irrelevant, as everything at 2.0 and under is a blur anyway. Either it’s bad or it’s not at that point, and this is bad. REALLY BAD. Santana is one of my favorite guitarists ever, and the preceeding Supernatural was a fantastic album. I actually saw Santana on the Supernatural tour and it was my first show ever. Not too shabby. But the energy from Supernatural almost doesn’t translate to here at all. The opening Adouma is the exception. It’s a good trance-like latin solo-fest, exactly what we love from Carlos. But the rest of the album consists of horrible collaborations with people who don’t deserve to be said in the same sentence as Santana. America is an easy pick for a worst Santana song list. I suppose The Game of Love is decent if not a bit annoying, but the album is otherwise dirt. He should have stopped while he was winning with Supernatural.

Smashing Pumpkins – Pisces Iscariot

A fine collection of Smashing Pumpkins b-sides, Pisces Iscariot handpicks the finest Siamese Dream era b-sides the band has to offer. One disappointing absence is that of Bullet Train To Osaka, a great James Iha original, but another one of his great songs is included, the country oriented Blew Away. Pretty much all of these songs stand alone be they muscular sunny riff-rockers like Hello Kitty Kat and Pissant or more downtempo melodies like Obscured and Soothe. There are two fabulous covers as well, a touching rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide and a catchy Girl Named Sandoz, as well as a signature SMP epic, Starla. Also included is probably the bands best b-side, Frail and Bedazzled. It almost holds the power of an individual album. You can see why these are b-sides because they really aren’t as memorable as the album songs, but they are essential nonetheless.

Tool – Lateralus

Tool’s biggest flaw is that their music goes over peoples heads before they can truly get a grip on the music and enjoy it, but the band makes up for it by being easily the most sophisticated and talented metal band active today. Lateralus just so happens to be their magnum opus, and like Tool as a band, it is an acquired taste and at first very difficult to understand. The band has progressed a great deal since Ænima, but every member of the band has already proved themselves to be of the absolute best at their trades, so there isn’t any real need to prove anything. The whole band lets loose with this energetic, dark, adrenaline filled masterpiece. But once again, it’s no easy listen. The genre is no longer just metal, but progressive metal, and each song is laced with complex beats and druggy dirty guitars. But for anyone who can manage to wrap their head around this album, the payback is plentiful. No time is wasted here, and only two “filler” tracks are included, both essential to the overall mood. Every track is key to the overall structure of the album, but some are a bit stronger than others. The Grudge is a colossal opener, featuring the famous Maynard twenty five second spine tingling scream and a killer Danny Carrey drum solo. Schism is the radio pick with it’s irresistible bassline akin to Fourty Six & 2. Parabol and Parabola are respectively reflective and muscular accompanying tracks, and Triad is the albums highest point, an instrumental outburst of dark energy. But once again, there is not a weak track on the album. It’s not hard to have problems with this album on the first listen; Maynard’s voice is extremely varied and may not appeal to some people and the rhythm can be downright confusing if your ear is not trained. This album may not be an easy listen or a good introduction to Tool, but it is, by a good margin, the height of their career. Tool is a very difficult, complex, and draining band, but giving them enough time to sink in yields great rewards, a fact that Lateralus demonstrates to the utmost.

Yo La Tengo – Painful

Easily Yo La Tengo’s best album, Painful is a wonderful masterpiece of dream pop and noise rock. It may not be packed to the brim with gems like I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One is, but the album does wonders in it’s own subtle ways. Each song is a meticulously planned work of art. The songs fall under two categories, quiet comforting pop and the signature Yo La Tengo guitar developing noise. This kind of combination would seem counterproductive, but in a way both fit the same mood, conveyed well even with the cover of the album. Each song has it’s own distinct night time image to go along with it, be it a badass hero trip to 7/11 or a gentle sleepy dream, this is Yo La Tengo at their absolute best. But the height of the album actually comes at the end with the monumental I Heard You Looking, one of the best dream-pop instrumentals you will ever hear and a truly moving development of sound. The problems Painful has are a matter of preference; Painful has a stronger coherency as an album than anything and has maybe less power in individual songs than I Can Hear The Heart, but it still holds a historical place with Yo La Tengo by being the first album where the band came into full circle. A tight, classic album.

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Shuffle Time, Again

October 9, 2006

Hey, sorry about the missed update on Thursday again. It’s not that I’m running out of things to say so much as time to say it in. And beyond that, I am having difficulty finding things to review that haven’t already been acclaimed by everyone already. It’s not that I don’t want to review things like Oasis, Tool, or Liquid Tension Experiment. I’m just 90% sure that you don’t give a shit. And why should you? I don’t want to stray too far into the mainstream even though I am your typical mainstream whore. I just want to keep things a tad interesting.

Sonic Youth – Silver Rocket

Talk about a dream job. What non-jock guy wouldn’t want to be Thurston Moore? He’s around fifty now, and yet he’s still kicking, producing great records with his art punk band that not only revolutionized music, but can still kick out some good hooks and also features his lovely wife. Now that’s the life. I haven’t heard Rather Ripped yet but I’m told it’s pretty awesome. Daydream Nation, however, I have heard and it is an awesomely badass album not to mention revolutionary and extremely important on it’s own. Silver Rocket is actually a standout punk song of sorts, with a livid guitar squall in the forefront driving it all the way home. It’s no Teenage Riot, but holds it’s place as a fantastic short rocker.

Head Automatica – Broklyn Is Burning

Theres something awesome about this, but I don’t know what. It’s got a solid beat I guess, and the riff is nice, but that’s about it. It’s kind of sleazy rock, and if you are in the right mood for it, that’s good. I haven’t heard too much else by these guys nor do I really have a desire to. I believe they just recently came out with a new album. The guys voice really annoys me though, enough so that even if this is a half-decent song, I have absolutely no desire to get anywhere close to anything with these semi-emo vocals.

Stone Temple Pilots – Days Of The Week

This was one of STPs last hits off of Shangri – La Dee Da in, what, 02 or 03? Something like that. The album is rather difficult but if you give it a chance it could be considered better than No. 4, which is usually classified as a little better than Shangri. In any case, this is one of the bands better songs. But there are a few other good ones on that album… Bi-Polar Bear, Hollywood Bitch, even Coma. Theres good things to be found in the druggy mind of Scott Weiland, and it’s surprising enough that these good things are infectious straightforward pop. Purple was the height of that talent though, and after that things sort of went downhill, at least as far as albums go. The band still produced pop gold until the end, but just not consistantly as they did before.

Home – Smashing Pumpkins

This is one of the better tracks off of Machina II, the final album from our great friends Smashing Pumpkins. I’ve already ranted more than necessary in refference to their current situation, so I won’t do that. But this is a great song from a pretty underrated album. In my opinion, Machina II is miles over Machina/The Machines of God. For whatever reason, it is just much more inviting and comforting than it’s predecessor. For those of you who don’t know, the album was only released in hard copy form in extreme rarity in the form of four rare EPs (I think they may have all been vinyl, actually), but the gist of the whole thing was that the bands last album was encouraged to be shared on the internet for free. What a nice gesture. The only problem might be the production, and even then that might just be the version I have. I’m sure there is a higher quality version elsewhere on the web. Anyway, this is actually a standout track from an album that really shines and serves as a grand sendaway to SMP.

Led Zeppelin – Night Flight

As far as I’m concerned, Physical Graffiti was the last Led Zeppelin album that really mattered. Presence never did anything for me, nor did In Through The Out Door (although I guess In The Evening is a classic product of it’s time). I never even really liked Houses of The Holy that much either, but I would still say it’s a good album. Physical Graffiti, however, remustered the bands old energy and innovation and put out all the cards on the table. It was a big deal when it came out, surely. My mother even remembers the sign in the local mall above the entrance to the record store. “ITS NOT HERE YET.” That’s just how big they were. Half the album was new stuff and the other half old unreleased stuff. It’s hard to pinpoint which was which, but you can hear some of it having some newer eastern and even dance type stuff in it, while the other half is more vintage Led Zeppelin, consisting of more bluesy and pop stuff. This is one of the better tracks from that world. Great track from a great album.

Nirvana – Stain

Well, it was bound to happen. How many Nirvana songs do I have on my iPod anyway? Over two hundred easily. So one is bound to come up early in a shuffle. To be honest, there isn’t too much special about this song. There are some Nirvana songs I just don’t like. They are few and far between yes, and most of them are b-sides like this. It’s just generally an uninspired obnoxious rocker. And yet when I get to this whenever I listen to Incesticide, I won’t skip it. It’s got pretty good production and the solo is good. It’s got the punk attitude down, it just doesn’t follow through with it, and the lyrics are kind of tasteless. Not much else to say.

Porno For Pyros – 100 Ways

Theres something strange about Perry Ferrel…
Wait, I didn’t just fucking say that, did I?
EVERYTHING is strange about Perry Ferrel. He’s totally weird, but ingenious too. For some reason, not one of my friends likes Jane’s Addiction, and they seem to bring up the fact that they don’t like them at totally irrelevant times. I can’t understand that. Whatever. Porno For Pyros was the sort of follow up project to Jane’s Addiction featuring Perry as the main songwriter. They had two albums, and the approach was generally much more relaxed and mellow. This is a pretty good song, but there is something unnerving to hear him making something serious and contemplative instead of genuine angry punk like Mountain Song. I still like it though.

Elvis – Can’t Help Falling In Love

Here’s one from the King, maybe my favorite song from him. It’s just a beautiful love song. It’s a cover, like most all of Elvis’ songs, but we all know that Elvis didn’t really shine in his songwriting ability so much as his keen delivery. Everyone has to have a little Elvis, right? Right. Want a greatest hits? Go here and prepare to get sick.
http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:6qotk60x9kr0~T21
I myself find the vast number of movies he starred in more dependably hokie and interesting than I find his music ingenious or fantastic. He’s the man, theres no denying that.

Tool – Parabola

Tool disorients me. They are a great band, don’t get me wrong, but they have some obvious downfalls. One of which is their fanbase, which is about 7/8 complete and total ass wipes. Second is the fact that I personally find it tiring to listen to one of their albums all the way through. Their sophistication in the metal genre is off-putting to the casual listener too. Their sound is very tribal and often times filled with strange time signatures and progressive outings that people find difficult. I know I sure did, and it took me a long time to bring myself to like Lateralus. But it happened eventually, and this is probably one of the better songs off of the album, standing up there with The Grudge, Reflection, and Mantra (what can I say, I was never really one for Schism).

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dosed

The best song off of the bands best album, By The Way, easily. To be honest I’m not a big fan of the band, but they can pull off some great songs if they put their mind to it. I think the main reason why is Anthony Kiedis. I think the instrumentation of the band is utterly fantastic. But with his voice and lyrics… I find I can’t really take them too seriously anymore. Especially on Stadium Arcadium. There are so many great songs there just ruined by uninspired lyrics, but you have already heard my take on that album. Coincidentally, my friends mother recently saw Anthony Kiedis in an airport. Apparently there was some fuss in the ticket line with him, and he was a little flustered. Keep in mind that my friends mother is pretty much the biggest RHCP fan EVER. He was doing a little damage control I think, so he allowed a picture to be taken with her. Strangely enough, she saw the band on an airplane ten years earlier, before she was a fan. Weird coincidence.

Brian Eno – The Big Ship

Another Green World defined the electronic genre and what synthesizers could do in not only a pop context but in a lush instrumental. It’s easily one of the greatest albums ever made, truly a one of a kind piece. This is one of the instrumentals, which arguably make up the more interesting portion of the album. A very floaty and airy guitar fuzz wall is in the middle, with a piano like instrument augmenting the chords, a noteworthy beat supplementing the beauty, and an interesting synthesizer cut in the background (which if you listen closely enough, is in the same rhythm but not the same time as everything else). The image is what it sounds like. Think a traveller who has come all the way from a monastary in sixteenth century England, now arriving at a port with a big beautiful ship ready to take off to his next destination into the early morning sea.

The Jesus And Mary Chain – Dirty Water

This is the opener to the bands 1994 accoustic album Stoned And Dethroned. It’s really a very relaxing tune. The entire album is underrated I’d say, and it contains a lot of mellow almost country-ish chill tunes. Like Psychocandy, it’s got such a great number of songs that it should keep even the most avid Chain fans satisfied for a long time. To me, this is the more obvious choice for a single, way more obvious than Come On or Sometimes Always (with all due respect). This song reminds me of when I was on vacation in upstate New York when I was in Seventh grade. We stayed with some relatives, and we all went swimming in a pond one day. I didn’t really swim so much as put my feet in the water. I was still a little pampered back then, so I didn’t really want to jump into the dirty and cold water on that chill late summer morning. It wasn’t that big of a pond as far as diameter goes, but it was bordered by an extremely high cliff, at least a few hundred feet tall. I remember someone saying that the pond was probably at least as deep as the cliff was tall. That always stuck with me for some reason.

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Shuffle Time

August 28, 2006

I saw a guys site (that is now linked from here) where he shuffled his mp3 player and talked about each song. I guess I’ll do that every once and a while. If I’ve already covered the album that the song is on, I will most likely skip it. But I don’t like making rules, because I break them all the fricking time. Anyway, I almost never seem to keep on topic for too long on this thing anyway, so I guess when I’ll talk about a song, what I know behind it, if it’s good or not, whatever else is on my mind.

Pixies – Gouge Away

I’ve really started to like Pixies lately. It seems like I have the fortune of getting interested in bands right after I could have seen them live. Yes, Pixies reunited last year for a tour and it was supposed to be awesome. I feel bad that I couldn’t go. This one is off of Doolittle, a great album, and it is one of the stand out tracks. The band has an uncanny knack for writing great, catchy songs, this being one of their better works.

The debate always rages on; which is better, Doolittle or Surfer Rosa? If you want my say in it I’m going to have to go with Surfer Rosa. But Doolittle is a great album too. It just has a lot of clunkers, some stuff that just doesn’t fit in that well. I’d say Surfer Rosa stays consistant all the way through, but if they could have delivered with stuff like Gouge Away, Here Comes Your Man, and Monkey Gone To Heaven all the way through, it would easily be better.


The Beatles – Blackbird

By the time the white album came out, The Beatles were already one of the most influential bands ever. They could write whatever they wanted and it still would have been well recieved, and they still had money coming out of their noses, so they could do anything. For that reason, much of the white album was spent in a drunken stupor. An interesting drunken stupor yes, but be it through great singalong pop like Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and weird stuff like Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, the album is just really solid. This song is a break from all the weirdness and such for a few minutes of a tender melody. And that actually happens a lot in this album. The best songs are the ones that stray away from the strangeness and pop to say something straightforward and cool. It’s just a really good song with great words.

The Clash – The Guns of Brixton

When people think punk in the seventies, they almost always think of three bands. The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash. The Ramones invented punk. The Sex Pistols refined it. And most people will tell you that The Clash perfected it. Whatever you say about that statement, The Clash were a great band with a lot of great songs, and they combined straight up angry punk with good hooks. The Guns of Brixton is one that leans a little more towards the anger and the thrashing, but it still has a bouncy thing going on. It’s like you are being told a story by an old crusty rock veteran sailor dude or something. I guess I’m more partial to The Sex Pistols as far as classic punk goes, but this is a great song.

Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation – Tin Pan Valley

Led Zeppelins main man had a solo career with it’s ups and downs, and say what you will about the quality of his music compared to Led Zeppelin stuff, he still sold a lot of records. He came out with Mighty Rearranger, what, was it last year or the year before? Whatever, I saw him and his band in the Auditorium Theater downtown last summer and it was a great show. Granted, he’s old and fat and he can’t hit the high notes very well, but his backup band kicks ass and he can still move around on stage. And he actually played a lot of Led Zeppelin. It’s weird because a lot of times artists that go solo after their initial fame refuse to play their older material from their last band, but I guess Robert Plant just isn’t going to pretend or anything. They played a really funky version of Whole Lotta Love that was very cool, during which he hit an extremely high note. There was some echo on it yes, but it was still an impressive feat for what condition his voice was in. The crowd was actually very cool for what kind of area we were in. It was mostly just cool older dudes, not too many rowdy people. This is the one that got the most radio play I think. It’s okay, it sort of has this mysterious creepy thing going on at first and then it sort of crescendos into this big burly tough rock thing. And he’s screaming his lungs out and his voice sounds shitty. Yeah, his voice is bad but what are you going to do. Cool song.


Santana – Samba Pa’ Ti

I’m a big Santana fan and this is one of my favorites. I actually saw him in concert too, but I was really little. You know, before he sucked. It was on the Supernatural tour, we were out in the grass where all these hippies were smoking weed and stuff, probably not a good show to bring your kid to but whatever, I thought it was great. I doubt he played this. Pretty much the entire song is him doing some great beautiful soloing on a cool relaxing backdrop of beat. That guy can really play guitar, this is one of the best and longest solos I’ve ever heard if I would in fact call it a solo, it’s more just him singing with his guitar.
Nirvana – Ain’t It A Shame

Get ready, because you are about to hear a Nirvana fan go on with a lengthy discussion.

I got the box set, what now… Over a year and a half ago? And out of the four disks that With The Lights Out contains (one of which is a DVD), the first is easily the most strong. What most casual fans or listeners have never heard is Nirvana in it’s earlier developmental stages, which is unfortunate, because I really believe that if you have never heard Bleach or maybe the material from this first disk, you really don’t quite understand Nirvana completely. Yes, Nirvanamania came around just when Nevermind was released and the band did the interview blitzes all over hell and gone and it left Bleach and a lot of the earlier demos and EPs in the dust. Yeah, it was with good reason because Nevermind was just flat out one hundred times better than Bleach, but it wasn’t really all that… Grungy, so much as great run of the mill alternative hard rock. Don’t quote me on that, because yes it was grungy, but theres two kinds of grunge. Earlier grunge and later grunge. Bleach is a classic album of early grunge. Nevermind is a classic of the latter period.

Whatever, anyway, try to acquire this first disk if you can. If you thought Ultramega OK or Facelift were heavy, well shit, this trumps those in the respects of heaviness that they attempt to achieve. Kurt had a thing for Leadbelly, and he did, I think a total of four Leadbelly covers that were recorded, unless I’m mistaken. There seems to be confusion as to whether one of them was actually Leadbelly… But as far as my knowledge takes me, the covers were Grey Goose, Where Did You Sleep Last Night (of course), They Hung Him On A Cross, and Ain’t It A Shame. Ain’t It A Shame was easily the best, it’s just flat out fast hard rock blues, and Kurts little sense of humor was probably satisfied when he got to sing “ain’t it a shame to beat your wife on a sunday/aint it a shame.” One of my favorite unreleased recordings from Nirvana, even if it was a cover.

Rage Against The Machine – Bullet In The Head

Good song with a kicking bassline. I take Orchestra during the school year and I remember my orchestra teacher talking about how people used to think that the fiddle was the devils instrument hundreds of years ago. And there was also some superstition about the devils increment or something, I don’t know, Christian people were weird back then. It’s two notes that have five half steps between them. In this song it just happens to be used. In the conext of the song it’s a straight groove, but play the two notes next to each other and it does sound kind of creepy, like something you would hear in a horror movie. G sharp D. That’s the pattern in this movie, but both notes are played at the same time and in conjunction with the two Es on different octaves it sounds cool for the main bass riff. Not very evil.

This song is just vintage Rage. It’s just good stuff. A lot of what was on s/t was more long and progressive type stuff, and then as their career went on the band started to drift more towards shorter more energetic music with The Battle of Los Angeles. Evil Empire was sort of the in between, it had some really short rockers and a few longer ones. The stuff on s/t just seemed like it meant more for some reason though, even if I like The Battle of LA a lot more. It seemed like each song was more of a thrash symphony for some reason.


Rammstein – Los

For an almost gothic heavy metal band, Rammstein is actually pretty consistant. Usually that genre is just crap, but it’s hard to get better than Rammstein in not just industrial rock but flat out raging metal too. But this one isn’t so angry. It’s off of Reise, Reise which I believe came out in 2004. It’s about the most nonthreatening thing the band has ever written. It’s just a nice little groove really. I mean, I’m sure even they grinned later on when the cool funky little guitar solo comes on. It wasn’t until one of my friends started getting into Rammstein that I actually started listening. Most Rammstein is good stuff to listen to when you are pissed off, but this is just a good tune to flip on when you want to chill, maybe it’s late at night or something. Really, it keeps the Rammstein vibe without really getting angry. Very few other Rammstein songs, if any, can do that.


Dada – Mary Sunshine Rain

It’s kind of hard to explain what kind of band Dada was. They weren’t quite a one hit wonder I don’t think, because they had maybe two or three. And they generally made really good music, if only for three albums. Everyone has heard their biggest hit. It’s the one where the guy goes “I’m going to Disneylaaaand.” It’s good pop, and this is one of the lesser known tracks off of that same album, but at the same time one of the better. I really like what they have going with the guitar here, it’s sort of a twangy subdivided thing. Very overlooked pop, but they weren’t a band that would have had a vastly successful career or anything. But it’s a good song.


Little Hat Jones/J. T. Smith – Bye Bye Baby Blues

There was a movie released in 2001 that was pretty low key. It featured Steve Buscemi among other people and was based on an obscure comic book about two girls who lived in a town full of really droll people living really droll lives and how they dealt with it. Well, this movie was based on that comic book, and while it was a great movie, it was a tad depressing. The soundtrack really struck me. While it also included the movies more comedic tracks too, nine tenths of it was really old blues and swing from the twenties. Steve Buscemi’s character collected old vinyl, so you heard a lot of really great old blues. Bye Bye Baby Blues is one of the more standout tracks, a mellow guitar blues number featuring only the guitar and the voice.

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Nirvana – Roma (2/27/94)

August 24, 2006

I just felt like I needed to do some Nirvana rambling and because my friends are probably sick of that by now, I guess I might as well do it here.

How much Nirvana was officially released? Well, not that much. Most of what material hardcore Nirvana fans will have is B-sides and live stuff. Of course the vital stuff is the official recordings, but it’s hard to be a fan of a band that had three studio albums, one b-sides album, and two live albums. You kind of have to branch a little, and box sets and bootlegs are probably the best way to do this. I have no doubt that more official recordings of Nirvana shows will be released in the future, but hardcore Nirvana fans make a point to look for live Nirvana, sometimes live Nirvana that is not easy to get. There is something to be said about the live albums that were released. From The Muddy Banks of The Wishkah is a pretty good collection of some of the bands better live stuff. But theres a few clunkers I suppose. The live Spank Thru makes it well worth it and theres some other fantastic performances on there too. Unplugged is easily my favorite album ever. It’s pretty much flawless, and every song is utterly fantastic. But beyond that, you have to start roaming in bootleg country for any live material, and it’s hard to know where to start when there are so many different choices to make.

All things considered, Roma is probably the best place to start just because it’s so popular. While Unplugged is the best Nirvana you can get, it’s not like what Nirvana normally did. What is really important to have is some hard hitting live stuff, and this is a winner in that respect. And about 75% of fans will tell you that this is the best bootleg there is anyway. The reason being it’s utterly fantastic sound quality. It really sounds like it was professionally recorded. It wouldn’t surprise me if this concert was ever officially released, because it’s just that good.

The only bootleg that you can find that will match this in quality is Out of the Blue, and that’s a piece that only really big fans will enjoy because it mostly only contains the older material that the band did. With that said, Roma is filled with a huge set containing all of Nirvana’s hits and more popular songs. The most treatment is obviously given to the In Utero material, because the album came out not too many months before this. So you get some beautiful renditions of Heart Shaped Box, Scentless Apprentice (possibly my favorite Nirvana song), Dumb, and Rape Me. And of course theres some of the Nevermind era material like Come As You Are, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Lithium, which while is not anything extremely exciting to hear live, is essential for the perfect Nirvana setlist. And of course there are a ton of great songs played here that weren’t singles and such, the rendition of Very Ape is admirable and a good job was done on Sliver.

I guess one of my few complaints about this disk is that not enough rarities were played. But then again, what is a rarity in the Nirvana respect? The only songs played here that I would really consider a rarity (and then again that’s still a stretch) are the fantastic opening Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, the monster of a live song School, and maybe Serve The Servants. Oh, and Lounge Act. But once again, I wouldn’t even really consider these songs rare for concerts but more uncommon than the others. All I’m saying is I would easily trade Drain You or Breed or Pennyroyal Tea for Paper Cuts, Aneurysm, or Aero Zeppelin. But beyond my nitpicking this is pretty much the quintissential Nirvana set list because it’s just so goddam huge, spanning twenty two songs.

Some tidbits include Krists various funny comments between songs. This is one of Nirvana’s last shows, and god knows Kurt was not in very good condition at this time. So he doesn’t do a lot of the talking. Krist enlightens the audience with words of wisdom. But with all this said, the band is in perfect condition. Very few, if any, mistakes are made at all. Dave is hitting away as hard as ever, and Kurt and Krist are in good playing condition too. Kurts voice is still great and he never misses a note. The only mildly complaint worth thing I could say is that Kurt didn’t talk to the audience enough, but he almost never did during shows. So who am I to complain? Pat Smear produces some good meat for the bands sound with his backup guitar. You can even see him on the cover between Krist and Dave. As far as previous members of Nirvana go, you will probably hear me give about as much respect to Pat Smear as Chad Channing. While Pat was a backup guitarist and we wasn’t as talented or vital as Kurt, Krist, or Dave, he was still a cool and reportedly very nice person who played some great guitar. As far as I’m concerned, they should have just included him as a full time member of the band. Now I know I’m getting extremely involved when I say this, but of all of the pictures I have seen of the band, the cover of Roma is one of my favorites. Not just because of how awesome the rest of the band looks, but because they actually look like a full fledged band with the four of them, a group of warriors now helped by numbers. Another little prize is the ending track, Demolition, which is essentially the band destroying their gear after the show. While it’s not that involving of a listen, really hardcore Nirvana fans will enjoy this track simply because of it’s capturing the moment.

So despite the fact that any fan could argue against the setlist as much as any other bootleg, this is the best you can get. It’s not quite as good as Unplugged or any other official albums, but it’s the essential piece on the opposite side of the spectrum of Unplugged. Considering Kurt Cobain would commit suicide around two months later, the enthusiasm in the playing and singing doesn’t let that uneasiness show. It’s an utterly fantastic live album and even casual Nirvana fans should pick it up somehow.