Posts Tagged ‘the clash’

h1

More small reviews

June 28, 2007

Slowdive – Catch The Breeze [Compilation]
Was it really a good idea to make this compilation in the first place? It should be known that Slowdive is a wonderful band and there really needed to be some kind of introduction for new fans, but why make it two disks when the band had so little material? This includes nine out of ten tracks on the original release of Souvlaki, barely anything from Just For A Day, and half of Pygmalion, as well as a lackluster selection of rarities from some early EPs. To be quite honest, this is unnecessary and poorly compiled, and anyone who is interested in Slowdive after buying this will want the rest of their stuff for the sake of completion, making this even more frustrating. What we really needed was a rarities collection, a compilation of all the hard to find EPs that include other songs that fans really want to hear but can’t bear to spend tons of cash in different places for. Which brings me to yet another problem with this, the price. It’s an import, so it’s going to cost around twenty five in the States if you can even find it, because it’s rare. This is really only for hardcore completionists who want the art and liner notes, but for anyone else the recent re-releases of the studio LPs that round up all of the officially released goodies on their bonus disks is more than enough and does more good than this does. On one hand all of this music is great, so I can’t really bear to give this a horrible rating, but as a purchase this is really stupid.


Blind Faith – Blind Faith
I was very apprehensive when I first listened to this, mostly because I don’t really like Eric Clapton that much. To be honest, I just really didn’t want to like this at all. But for whatever reason I ended up enjoying it to a certain degree. The first three songs are darn good. Had to Cry Today is a classic riff, and Well All Right is too, but I really prefer Can’t Find My Way Home, a quaint little acoustic tune that is probably my favorite song on the album. The one even casual Clapton fans seem to know is Presence of the Lord, which really does nothing for me because the whole religious thing kind of doesn’t sit well. But I guess the peak of the album is the final rocker/jam Do What You Like, which at times is very cool but probably could have been chizzled down, at least the long bass and drum solos. There are really some talented people working on this album. Clapton and Baker are really some of the best on their respective instruments. But like most stuff from this lite 60s blues genre, the guitar style and production bores me to no end. That doesn’t stop this from having some choice songs though, and it may be a better place to start on Clapton’s career than the likes of his solo albums.


Sonic Youth – Sister
Pinning Sister as a second best record really undermines the fact that it is a great record and not just the alternative to the obvious. While this is not an obvious record, like most albums by Sonic Youth, it is still immediately recognizable as a true classic of it’s decade, virtually refining noise-rock and displaying Sonic Youth’s songwriting ability and truly monumental style. Perhaps the comparison is made because Sister is not quite as ambitious or relentless as Daydream Nation, but in any case it is just about as enjoyable in terms of good songs and the overall result. What Sonic Youth does with undeniable success is rain the easygoing nature of American youth into a single album which does it’s damage with great consistency. At some points the album feels like the soundtrack to a quick weekend trip through rural America with your buddies, and to me that is represented by the cover pretty well. Sometimes this album is soft, with the wonderful Schizophrenia and the appropriately titled soft/hard noise of Tuff Gnarl. And sometimes it is great punk with choice numbers such as Catholic Block and Hot Wire My Heart. The album gets more rocking as it goes along and is very abrasive and by all means not a softie, and the only one song goes over the five minute mark, making it feel more listenable to the casual fan and easier to swallow, making this a good place to start. A noise rock landmark that not only deserves respect but demands it.


George Carlin – Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics
Although George Carlin is without question one of my favorite comedians, this is not his comedy working at it’s best. In my opinion, his sense of humor translates best through his books, but for a live comedy album, you could do worse than this. However, most of his completely outlandish comedy is overshadowed here by vulgar social satire, some of which is good and some of which isn’t. More than anything, George Carlin makes some really good points here and completely tears down politically correct walls and makes them his bitch. Especially provocative are “I Ain’t Afraid of Cancer” and “Rape Can Be Funny.” But as informative as this humor might be, it really isn’t all that funny. Carlin is his best when he is spitting anger and completely outlandish, random complaints, but here is more of a constructed approach to his psyche. Essential for fans, but in my opinion it’s a hard comedy album to listen to.


Cocteau Twins – Violaine [Single]
As far as I know, the Violaine series was the last material the Cocteau Twins ever released. In more ways than one, the series of EPs for the singles Tishbite and Violaine are just as important if not more important than the album they came from. Finding these singles is quite the task, and paying for them is even harder, but hunting them down individually or getting them in the box set Lullabies To Violaine is surely worth it. Like all of the Twins’ singles from the time, the song Violaine doesn’t take too many risks but is still quite a good song. All of the other songs are equally accessible, romantic, and at times wonderfully fragile. But the truth stands, the sound of the Milk and Kisses sessions feels a bit recycled from the Four Calendar Cafe recordings. In any case, these songs are lovely and a treat to any Cocteau Twins fans. The swirling bittersweet romance of Circling Girl and Smile are simply lovely, but the other two b-sides are the real treats. Tranquil Eye is a fine lullaby, and Alice is really like nothing the band ever did, from an era that otherwise doesn’t stand out that much. The song is one of Liz Fraser’s best vocal performances, and a mysterious, almost dark song that is a personal favorite of many fans. More than appropriate as a last released song for the band on their last single. For fans who have already deciphered the bands unique sounds, completely essential.


The White Stripes – Blue Orchid [Single]
I don’t know exactly what issue of the Blue Orchid EP I have is, but it has the title track, the two b-sides, and the You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket live take. As a big White Stripes fan, I’ll pick up any singles I see in the store, which is actually pretty rare to see. But this was more of an asset to me than the Walking With A Ghost EP by a long shot. The single is damn good, one of the few good ones from Get Behind Me Satan. And the two b-sides are disposable but fun little scraps/leftovers. Whose A Big Baby is funny and playful as long as you don’t take it seriously, and Though I Hear You Calling is just plain fun. But the live take I’m just not interested in, and although the song has some good moments, it might be my least favorite song on Elephant and is all around not that good of a performance. In a word, interesting. Fans will want this.


Cocteau Twins – Dials/Crushed/The High Monkey-Monk/Oomingmak
This rare EP which I believe can only be found from the Cocteau Twins first box set contains five absolutely wonderful, classic Cocteau Twins numbers. In terms of mood and sound, this matches The Moon And The Melodies relatively closely, or at least the first and last songs do. But to be fair, these songs have much more identity and feel a lot more special than any songs from that album. The lovely Dials starts off the disk, and an instrumental version of Oomingmak ends it beautifully. But it’s the ones in the middle that really matter. Crushed is a typical pick for best Cocteau Twins song from hardcore fans, and The High Monkey-Monk is like nothing the Twins had ever done before, combing their lovely ambiance and dream-pop sensibilities with an eastern tinge making for an absolutely priceless cut. I have no idea about the rarity of this release, but these songs are four of the bands best and whatever trouble it takes a fan to hunt them down is worth it.


Arcade Fire – Funeral
Since their 2003 self titled EP debut, Arcade Fire have reached near mythical, untouchable status in the indie community by means of two fantastic albums and a killer live act. And Funeral raised the majority of that hype. If I recall correctly, Funeral stands as the best selling indie debut of all time, or something like that, but the details don’t really matter… Even upon it’s release, there was a stampede of popularity. Funeral is a tour de force of everything that indie rock has ever been about. Clever instrumentation is the first big draw. Using a myriad of creative instruments such as bells, accordions, violins, cellos, and even kettle whistles during Neighborhood #4, the band produces an interesting sound that does not let up. The fact that this album is about death does not overshadow the fact that it is also about love. For the most part, the album stays solid and lovely the whole way through. Almost every track stands out. The opening Tunnels is a touching love song, Power Out is an amazing explosion of energy, and an anthemic masterpiece is achieved with Rebellion. But they reach true pop bliss with Haiti, an irresistible tropical bounce, when Regine Chassagne whispers “in the forest we are high.” The album is not without it’s small flaws though, but perhaps they make Funeral all the more lovable. The production is creamy and smooth, which is probably why it gained so much popularity in exchange for a little backbone. Also, the vocalists styles are unique but also not necessarily always great. And a few low points are reached, namely 7 Kettles, but the spirit of the album is revelatory and lovely enough to captivate anyones mind. Big surprise, we finally have an indie band that meets almost impossible hype. A real keeper.


The Clash – London Calling
London Calling, The Clash’s massive double LP, is just one of those punk classics that I could never really truly like despite my best efforts. But to me, this isn’t really classic punk but instead classic punk-pop. It’s best moments more than justify it, and I can definitely see why people like it so much, but the majority of these songs are simply tired to me. It’s best moments are either some of the most brilliant, heavy songs the punk movement ever heard or wonderful pop; London Calling, Brand New Cadillac, Hateful, Spanish Bombs, The Guns of Brixton, and Train in Vain are all fantastic songs. But the majority of everything else is plagued by hooks that apparently only I deem cheesy. Specifically, songs like Rudie Can’t Fail, Jimmy Jazz, Lost In The Supermarket, and Clampdown are horribly annoying. Part of the problem I had with this album was the occasional reggae that they tried to work into the music which really only ended up severely annoying me. This is a monumental album, because not ever before had punk been drawn so freaking close to pop, enough so for the genres to meld. Thus, this is an essential punk album and subject of countless classic hooks. I mean really, I heard it first when I was a little kid and I was amazed even back them how many songs I recognized from the radio and pop culture in general. It’s also got that classic album cover that represents everything that punk is all about, and it is eternally plastered in my mind from being framed in so many of my friends houses. It’s a classic album. Half of it simply annoys the shit out of me, that’s all.


The Jesus And Mary Chain – Darklands
Considering the circumstances of the previous album, Darklands is a pretty ambitious album, even considering it’s tame nature in comparison to Psychocandy. Instead of loud, hooky punk-pop, The Jesus And Mary Chain created breathy, touching love songs, as well as including both Reids in the vocal responsibilities. The sheer emotional power that these songs hold is sometimes staggering. The three singles, Darklands, Happy When It Rains, and April Skies, are among the best the band has ever created, and the rest of the album is fairly solid as well. The problem might be the environment in which this is listened to. If you actually find yourself listening to this in your house on a rainy day, you probably WONT be happy. But at the same time, these songs hold considerable weight when played at the right time and in the right place. This may be tiring to listen to all the way through, as it does not let up in it’s revelatory romantic mood, but the truth still stands that this is another record that built a signature JAMC sound, as every record of theirs did. They never really came back to this style, making it feel like an anthem packed explosive valentine to fans. Wonderful in it’s own way.


Sigur Rós – Ágætis Byrjun
The Icelandic band Sigur Ros, by this point in their career, have redefined and expanded their sound enough times to completely avoid categorization. Are they rock? Are they ambient? Or are they simply some breed of sophisticated pop? The only thing for certain is that Sigur Ros aren’t afraid of being themselves, and have an awe-inspiring artistic freedom. Throughout this sprawling sophomore album, Sigur Ros created possibly their most accessible and simulatneously memorable album of their careers. The strategy utilized on Ágætis Byrjun is the same that was used on Von and would be used on future albums () and Takk. That strategy is simple. More means more. Which is ironic, because the opening introduction track is exactly the melody that the listener would want expanded on to about five minutes. This may seem like a pretentious move, but many have mistaken Sigur Ros’ all-over-the-place style and relentless experimentation for pretentiousness only to gradually realise that it is true beauty and the art of learning while writing songs. Really, it is quite impressive how consistant this album stays. The bands style here is to combine subtley atmospheric instrumentation with emotive, soaring melodies. These songs sound huge, both in length and in scope, and the result is surprisingly warm. This also sounds very unlikely, almost too good to be true. But what do you know, Sigur Ros pull it off, against all odds. From the opening Svefn-G-Englar, vocals are given extremely relaxed treatment and strings and a lovely melody is gradually explored. It’s hard to believe it, but every track is standout. Around the middle, the album shifts into a more dark, melancholy mood for the extent of two songs, Ny Batteri and Hjartao Hamast, which help to make Ágætis Byrjun Sigur Ros’ most representative album. The extent of my gruff is that the band repeats themselves a little here and there, but who doesn’t like more of a good thing? Happy, sad, lovely, dark, bright, relaxing, urgent. Sigur Ros are all of these things and more on their many albums, and this is the one that just happens to be the best. Although it may seem “uncool” to like Sigur Ros in some of the indie circles, emotion doesn’t lie. Sigur Ros is a wonderful band with a myriad of wonderful sounds. Start here.


Tool – 10,000 Days
While I would have deemed 10,000 Days the worst Tool album to date a couple of months ago, I have given it enough time to decide that it is slightly better than Undertow. The sheer quality of the album is simply shadowed by how difficult and limit pushing the music is. Every song on the album is in some way a new exciting revelation for Tool, who having been out of the studio for five years really had to prove that they weren’t loosing their touch. Some familiar aspects of Tool are still here. The touches of filler, the difficult rhythms, and progressive style are still here. These details remind us that Tool is still very much one with their fans. During the filler song Lipan Conjuring, Adam Jones “sings” along lightly with a creepy Native American chant. This detail caught my ear for some reason. It is just a subtle reminder that the band does not let up, even when they are crafting a small, seemingly insignificant nuance. Once again, every corner of the album shows Tool doing what they do best in new ways. Maynard’s voice sounds much different at times, which is alright, because his voice actually sounds more smooth and his lyrics are only getting better and more insightful. The radio hit Vicarious is hypnotically dark, as the lyrics describe our painful world to be like. Jambi. The most difficult part of the album is the long, pained Wings for Marie series, dedicated to Maynard’s recently departed mother. Tool have never made a piece this long and progressive, and it’s fun if not a little difficult to get through. The album contains less memorable riffs than other Tool albums, but on the other hand The Pot is easily among the absolute best songs the band has ever creates. It has rock solid riffs, a frenetic pace, and downright unbelievable guitar and bass work. In fact, the entire album features perhaps the most impressive instrumentation the band has shown yet. The latter parts of the album tend towards more hypnotic psychedelia. It’s a difficult album, and not always fun, but it has some great, classic Tool songs and it expands the band repetoire even further, proving that Tool really ARE amazing and don’t lose momentum.

I guess we can nail Tool down to a specific genre now, can’t we?

Progressive psychedelic alternative grunge metal.

Maybe.

Advertisements
h1

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.