Sunday, October 24, 2010

Episode 50

George Michael – Faith
This was one of my favorite albums growing up. I use to listen to it when I would fall asleep. The first half of the album is the dance music. This side had the single I Want Your Sex. This song is actually a two part song. There is the single that was released on the radio and a second part that was like a remix and more fun dance pop than the first half. There is also a third part that was included on the CD, MD and Cassette along with an additional track called Hard Day. I have the cassette and the vinyl releases. I can’t remember what the songs sound like but I will probably record the two tracks from the cassette later. The whole album has a feeling that I remember while growing up in middle school. That feeling is really mellow and fuzzy. I also remember raging hormones relating to sex. This is obviously linked to the song I Want Your Sex. It is a feeling of I know what sex is but I don’t have any idea how to properly do it or what it would feel like if I were to do it. No girl at that age wanted to get into that kind of trouble or liked me enough to even think about it either. Life went on and it was a blur too. There was so much stuff that I did not know and would not know about life for a while.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – So Far
The only reason that I wanted this album was for the song Ohio. It is such a catchy song about one of the many incidents that happened in the USA during a strange and wonderful time. I thank the four for putting this song out in such a hurry. I believe that this song was created during a very important time in the history of the USA. Songs like these were created similar to the way that the bards of old use to sing and tell stories. I think that these types of songs hold the most meaning. When they are sung/replayed you can see the reality of that time. You can see a glimpse of what happened through their eyes. It is truly magnificent story telling.

Led Zeppelin – In Through The Out Door
I have owned this album on CD since 2000. I have never listened to it, ever. I think that it was sent to my house by accident along with The Doors first album. I actually listened to the doors album a few times but never cared enough about the Led Zeppelin album. Now, ten years later, I finally listened to it. To my surprised ears I find two or three tracks that I love and remember from my childhood. What was the reason that I finally broke down and listened to the album? I found a copy of the album for a very reasonable price at Half Priced Books on vinyl. It is in perfect condition with the paper bag outer sleeve still in good condition too. It is not as though this is a particularly sought after album but to find a copy of it or any other Led Zeppelin album on vinyl seems to be somewhat difficult to do at the moment. I was very tickled to hear the singles off this short album but was also a bit confounded with the other tracks. They did not seem to fit on the album. Maybe I had preconceived notion with all their other music or maybe the other few songs were put together with these singles to juxtapose the singles. Then again, maybe the other songs will jell together with more listens. Radiohead writes music like that why can’t Led Zeppelin too. Anyway, I was very excited that I had music that I wanted on CD and that I found a copy of the music on vinyl too. I would always want to have the music on the original medium that it was released on anyway.

David Bowie – Scary Monsters and Super Creeps
I found this album in great condition used at Down In The Valley. Any time I find a David Bowie album that was released before 1983 I will grab it for sure. I was not sure what I would find on it but knew it would be a great find. After listening to the album I found the two singles, Ashes to Ashes and Fashion, to be the couple songs that I remember hearing on the radio growing up. I just love the stuff that Bowie did in the early to late 70s.

David Bowie - Let’s Dance
This is the last album that I wanted from David Bowie. I am just not that interested in anything that he has put out after this album. I love the title track off this album and always have. It has a good beat and urges the listener to do just what I can’t do, dance. The other single off this album is China Girl. Although I can’t remember this single being played on the radio it was showcased in a movie a few years ago called The Wedding Singer. This movie is a lot of fun and gave this single a good spotlight in the movie. Now I really like the song after having such a good memory tied to it via this movie.

David Bowie - Young Americans
This album came out the year that I was born. I remember the singles off this album but not from when I was that young of course. I really like the title track off this album too. It is happy and has that great saxophone sound in the solo parts. There is also the fantastic track Fame. This is yet another song that I absolutely love. There is something about Fame that just rocks me solid. This album also has a great cover of The Beatles song Across The Universe.

Death Cab For Cutie – Plans
This album signified a change ever so slightly in direction from what they were doing. This change made all the difference in the ability to make singles that would stand out in top 40 land. This is the album that was released before Narrow stairs. I bought this album on CD used at Cheapo Records simply because I was curious. I had already picked up Narrow Stairs on CD and was absolutely thrilled with what it contained. It was not long after that I bought both albums on vinyl because I loved both of them so much. The music that is on both albums had a certain something that held me in place and put a warm light on my heart. The music is somewhat depressing but it makes me happy to listen to it. I was very excited to get this on vinyl. I gave the CD to my father-in-law along with a few other CDs that I managed to find on vinyl as well. He was thrilled to get a new stack of CDs that he has never heard. We actually listened to the album while we worked on my car at one point. We both enjoyed the album and it kept us on track to fixing my car.

Devo – Freedom of Choice
From Whip It to Girl U Want, this album is a fantastic Punk/New Wave experience. They are great at mixing the synth sounds with the electric sounds. This album showcases their ability. It also helped that there was a video on MTV for the song Whip It. It featured the flower pot hat that they have become known for along with the silly shenanigans that they are also known for, i.e. using a whip, dressing in uniform, and other forms of making the lyrics come alive. It is a great video for its time and really funny to boot. The title track was also a great single and put into words exactly what the song title, Freedom Of Choice, really meant. This is one of the great new wave albums of the beginning of the 80s.

Eggstone – Vive La Difference!
They are an indie group with such a great pop influence. They are one of the few pop groups that I really love in this world. Forget top 40, this is true pop. Although there are some strange sounds that happen in the music they are underneath and the listener would need to listen carefully to distinguish them from the fantastic pop sounds that happen through out all three of their albums. My stand out track on this album is Taramasalata. There is a great pop feel about this track. Secondary to this would be Birds In Cages, Never Been A Better Day, April And May and Still All Stands Still. In my opinion some of the greatest pop ever made.

Led Zeppelin – IV (AKA - Four Sticks, ZOSO)
This album has some great classics on it. The most recognizable track on this album is Stairway To Heaven. It is a good track but it doesn’t seem to hold up to some peoples expectations. I think it is a great song and would prefer it to all of the covers that are out there. The first two tracks on the album are also some very good singles. Black Dog, with its classic and instantly recognizable whine from the vocalist Robert Plant, instantly stands out as classic rock of the 70’s. Rock And Roll has the same feel but with more of that blues rock guitar sound that Jimmy Page does. It just gets you in the heart. All in all, the album is really great. I was lucky enough to find this album in great condition on vinyl for a reasonable price from my favorite used album seller, Half Priced Books.

Radiohead – In Rainbows
When this album came out it was first released as a pay how much you want for low quality MP3s. I chose to pay no money for this album because I knew that I would be getting the limited version as well as the regular CD. So I got to hear the album for a few months before the physical versions came out. I did order the special edition from the Radiohead web sight, the only way that you could get it, for 80 bucks. It is the best special edition item that I have ever purchased. It is a hard slipcase. Inside the case is a fold out hardcover book style music holder. In side each of the covers is a 12” record cut at 45 RPMs. There is also the album on CD and an extra CD of unreleased songs. There is also some great pictures in a book. There is also an additional book that has all the lyrics for the songs. All in all I really like the way that this SE was put together. The regular CD came out in a paper sleeve. Inside was a group of speakers and the CD. The stickers were meant to be put on a clear jewel case and there was a video that was put together that showed a set of hands doing just that.

I really like this whole album. It is easily one of their most accessible albums to date. The first song off the album, 15 Step, wasactually used in the credits of the first Twilight movie. It was not included in the soundtrack for the movie though. That was a bit disappointing but I already had the track as it was anyway. My favorite songs from the album are Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, All I Need and House Of Cards. They all three have a really great bass line. It is not just these three songs that are good though. The whole album is great but these three are the stand out tracks for me.

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I heard the first single off this album on the radio. The first single is You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb. It is a very catchy song about, you guessed it, cherry bombs. It seems that everything that this group puts together is super catchy. It makes it hard to not get what ever it is that they put out. It is just so easy to love. The other two singles that were released from this album were Don’t You Evah and My Little Japanese Cigarette Case. These songs are just so easy to listen to.

There was also a bonus disc that I did not know about until recently that came with the original release of this album. I have no idea what the tracks are on it but it is disappointing that I was not able to get this little extra disc.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Episode 49.5

This is just a note. I couldn't justify calling this episode 50. My external hard drive crashed recently. Hopefully I will be able to get the data off with out to much cost to me. Most of the music that I have is backed up on my iPod and I think that the stuff that I don't have on the iPod I think that I have hard copies for. I know that there is some downloaded stuff that I don't have backed up though. But, Like I said, I am hoping to get the data off the crashed hard drive for little monies.

On a down note, the ball joints on my car are broken. On a up note, I made it through all of the stages of full time interviewing at work. Hopefully, I will be placed in a full time position sooner than later.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Episode 49

Philip Selway – Familial

Phil is primarily the drummer for Radiohead. He has released a solo album. He is the singer/song writer for this album. He plays the guitar on this as well. It is an exceptional album. His vocals are very quiet and the drums are very sparse. It is a wonderful, quiet and subdued album from an unexpected source. This album was a big risk for Phil but I think that it was well worth the risk. The albums sound has been said to be similar to Nick Drake in style. I don’t know any Nick Drake songs but I do recognize the sound that is being produced on the album. I can only guess that this is what Nick sounds like. I can’t say that I would run out and buy any albums from Nick Drake. I love Radiohead so much that I would buy anything that any of the artists from the band would put out. I love the quiet sound of Selways’ voice accompanied by his acoustic guitar. There is something about this album that makes me feel good. I think that I would love to fall asleep to this album on a sunny Saturday afternoon repeatedly with golf on the TV.

Led Zeppelin – Presence

This album is the seventh studio release for the group. It received the least favorable reviews of all of the releases from the group. It is the second album from the group that contains all new and original material after Houses of The Holy. It is my least favorite album from the group in reference to the studio albums. I am not a fan of live recordings so I don’t usually take them into consideration anyway. This album to me after listening to it seems a bit watered down when compared to the rest of their catalog. It is a fair album but doesn’t seem to have that bite that their other albums have. That being said, there are some very cool guitar solos that happen on this album, magnificent soaring solos on this album.

Janet Jackson – Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

This is the fourth album from Janet. It is also the follow up to Control. This is a concept album focusing on the problems of the world at the time. This is of course not what the record company wanted from her. They wanted another Control album. She basically forced them into letting her do this concept album. There is eight singles off this album. It is a fantastic album even if I don’t like a few of the songs. My favorite of the eight singles are Rhythm Nation and Black Cat, primarily because of the combination of the New Jack Swing style and the use of industrial sounds on the two songs. I remember hearing these two songs particularly and probably all of the other eight songs but they did not stick in my head as well.

Devo – New Traditionalists

This is the album that followed Freedom of Choice, one of their best albums. New Traditionalists could not be expected to be better than its predecessor and it is not. There are some good singles on the album but for the most part it is a lighter weight album than Freedom of Choice. The singles off this album are Through Being Cool and Beautiful World. I remember Beautiful World from popular radio at the time. It is still a very fun album with lots of synth sounds that bring me back to that early 80s time.

George Harrison – Cloud Nine

I have never heard this album until I recently purchased it used on vinyl. I wanted it for the single Got My Mind Set On You. I remember listening to that song on one specific trip up to my friends’ cabin at Breezy Point Resort in Brainerd MN. I was an emotional wreck at that time. At the time this was a happy song for me that kept my emotions in check. For me, this album was only purchased for that song and my nostalgic needs. This song is the last song on the album. This was quite a disappointment in my opinion. The bulk of the album is subdued and not all that entertaining. The album was recorded in an interesting way, the band is imaged in the back ground and very clear but George’s vocals are subdued, not quite as clear but still imaged in the front. I don’t know if this is just my copy or on purpose but it is interesting none the less.

Thomas Dolby – Blinded by Science

This is an EP with the song She Blinded Me With Science as the first track. It is a 5 track EP or mini LP as it is labeled on the sleeve. Of course I got it for the single. The other 4 songs on the EP are not as great or as punchy as the single but are still listenable as the extra songs. This will probably be the only set of songs that I would buy from this artist only because I don’t know any of his other music. He has put out other albums but I don’t have a interest in any of his other stuff.

Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive!

That’s right the classic standard live album. This double vinyl live album is one of the best selling live albums to date. The album was recorded from multiple live sessions but only from two venues. The two venues were Winterland from San Francisco, California and Long Island Arena from Commack, New York. There are more details on this at Wikipedia if you are interested. The record was pressed in automatic turntable sequence, i.e. record 1 has sides 1 and 4. This record was also priced at lower than a single LP prices by one dollar. So, at the time it was priced at $7.98. This is a silly little fact but it shows how inflation has affected prices of albums today. I got this album simply because it is a standard. I recognize the singles and they are good but as a collector of music it seems that this should be in my collection.

That is all I got for now.

Signing off

Monday, September 13, 2010

Episode 48

R.E.M. – Out Of Time

This is an album from the early 90s, when I was still in high school. Back when music was in a downward/inward vibe. I loved this album but I had it on cassette. I remember seeing the videos for the singles on MTV. Yes they actually played music videos on Music Video Television. I liked the first single, Losing My Religion, but it was so down. The video was especially interesting though. I don’t want to dissect the video but it was not as much of a story but more of a video collage. I liked the second, Shinny Happy People, single more because one of the girls from The B-52’s did a guest appearance on the track. I really liked her voice. I think that it was the fourth single, Radio Song, that I liked after that. It did not do very well here in the USA. It featured KRS-One doing some backing vocals and he did some rapping in the song too. I had some respect for KRS-One. He was one of the pioneers for the late 80s rap scene. I never purchased any of his solo work but I had heard it and liked what I heard a lot. I was a kid at the time and could not get everything I wanted. This is a great album and there are songs that touched my heart and made me happy. There are a lot of people out there that are putting this band down right now. But, If you go back and listen to the albums that they put out you will realize that they are brilliant albums and are important to the history of music.

Cream – Wheels of Fire

Obviously the greatest song off this album is White Room. It really is a great song. The rest of the album comes in second to me. There are some really great jams on this album but they are shadowed by this one song. There is a second LP of live music included with this album. I think that this was included because they are more of a live jam band than a studio group. The four songs that are on that second disk are really great versions of their songs but they can get a bit tiring because they are so long. There are some great parts in those live songs but you have to live through some of the lagging stuff to get to them. There are some ridiculously long drum solos for example. It is all in all a great album. I want to get its predecessor. There are some great tracks on that as well.

R.E.M. – Fables of The Reconstruction

The first single from the album is a jumpy danceable pop song called Can’t Get There From Here. It is a reference to the rural colloquialism used to give directions to travelers. The second single from this album is called Driver 8. This is an abstract reference to train stations. Since trains are a big point in most American rock the group decided to give it a go. It went with great success on the radio. I was a young kid at the time of this songs release and I remember it very well. There was a third single from this album but it did not do very well and was only released in the UK. I loved the singles off this album but the rest of the album is only OK. It is hard to give any reference to any of the other tracks when the singles stand out so much.

R.E.M. – Murmur

Although Chronic Town was the bands first release, it was an EP, Murmur was the bands first full length album. I was so excited when I found a copy of this album used at Half Priced Books. My knees almost gave out on me. It is not that I need to have these records. It is more that I am chasing after a feeling that the music gives me. It is easily categorized as nostalgia. I had a conversation with a friend of mine a while back. He said that there are three things that he is trying to accomplish right now. I should re state that. There are three categories that things are falling under for him at the moment. One, projects that fall under for the maker or for god. Two, personal projects for today or the now projects. These things may be physical fitness or planning for the future. The third thing is “the feeling” or nostalgia related things. Music has always been important to me. I think that my chasing after music falls under the third thing but writing music falls under the first thing. This is difficult for me because it is so easy to just sit back and listen to music but it takes so much more effort for me to sit down and write and record some music. This is the way that life is though. Work is hard and nothing gets done if you just sit around and listen to music. Anyway, Radio Free Europe was the only single released from this album.

Led Zeppelin – I

I listened to this album with my son for the first time. It was a fantastic experience. The both of us had never heard the album from start to beginning. I had heard the songles off the album of course but never the whole album let alone all the way through. From the first riff off the first track my son says, “Wow, I like this. No, I mean I really like this a lot!” I said to him that this is what rock and roll is supposed to be. He then said to me that he wants this on his iPod. I told him that we had to record it first. Then we can put it on your iPod.

They were formerly The New Yardbirds because of a contractual obligation to tour Scandinavia. After that obligation was fulfilled they changed their name to Led Zeppelin. There was only one track, Good Times Bad Times, that was officially released as a single but every song is well known enough off the album that they all could have been released as singles.

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

The same can probably be said about this album. There was only one track, Trampled Under Foot, that was officially released as a single but every song is well known enough off the album that they all could have been released as singles. The song that, IMHO, everyone knows around the world is Kashmir. There is something so sexy about this song. It just washes over you. To me it is the sonic equivilant of soft red velvit. I couldn’t wear it but I love to touch it and there is something about a deep red color that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I also really like that first single that was released off this record. I have a thing for the disco sound and Trampled Under Foot has that great sound. I think that it is because of the clavinet that was used on the track. It gives it that cool funk feel. John Paul Jones gives credit to Stevie Wonder for the song Superstition.

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

I listened to this album for the first time ever today. I recognized 2 tracks from the album. They were Ziggy Star dust and Suffregette City. I remember the first because of the guitar riff in the beginning of the song. There is something about that riff that is so simple and brash at the same time. I couldn’t pin this on any other artist. I mean, I don’t think that any other artist has done any thing with that type of riff and that sound together. On the other track, Suffergette City, this song has been used as an influence for many artists. It has that smooth swagger but pushes forward or chugs along. Kiss has this feeling frequently through their rock songs. I read that there is a line on the back of the jacket that reads, “TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME”. This line was removed from the re-released in 1999. Luckly, my pressing still has that line. I think this is hilarious and it now makes for a great collectors piece. The rest of the album is good and I am sure that it will get better with time. This is the way it is usually for me. By the way, I know the two singles that I mentioned very well but I could not place where or when I had heard them the most. I think that I have probably heard Suffregette City on the radio because of my dad but can’t pin it on that exactly.

That is it for now.
Signing Off

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Episode 47

Glacier Hiking – The Color By Number EP

I knew about this EP but was not sure about it until I read a few reviews from Abandoned Pools fans. I looked it up on Amazon but found that the EP is just a CDR. So I decided to download the EP from iTunes for a cheaper price (3 bucks as opposed to 8). I have listened to it one time through. I find it fantastic. It is very reminiscent of Tommy’s previous work as Abandoned Pools. I have visited his new web site and found all kinds of new information about what Tommy has been up to. I knew about this before but he has collaborated with Rie Sinclair to create a group called Oliver The Penguin. They have put together a full album. There is also rumor of a new Abandoned Pools (AP) album. I hope sooner than later. I find Tommy to be a very interesting and musical man.

Surfer Blood – Astro Coast

I have listened to this album a few times now. I want to not like this album quit a bit. Every time I listen to it I seem to like it more and more with the exception of a couple of songs. It is literally two songs that I don’t like off the album. This drives me nuts because I would rather not like this album. I don’t know why but it is still a great indie album. Maybe it is the cover art, an artistic photo of a great white shark. Maybe it is my music snob mentality. This album has gotten a lot of indie music press praise since its release and this may be the reason that I don’t want to like it, anyway, moving on.

Free Energy – Stuck On Nothing

This album is absolutely fantastic indie pop at its finest. There is nothing special about this album. The group is just bringing back a classic rock sound that use to be very popular in the 60s or 70s. They do it with such accuracy and still in their way that it hits me with those nostalgic feelings. From the cow bell to the vocals and guitar work it is really great indie pop with classic rock roots.

White Lies – To lose My Life . . .

I listened to this album a few times. It is not that the album is not put together well. But it did not hit me in a good way. It reminded me of The Smiths or Joy Division but the music did not quite measure up to either of those groups. It was good and produced well but the album just did not give me that feeling. Maybe that was just it. The production was done so well that it over shadowed the flat music that the group had made. I am definitely not saying you shouldn’t get this album it just wasn’t the album for me. You should really make that decision for your self by listening with your own ears.

My own work (PurelyHim), has been coming along slowly. I am not happy but I am also happy at the same time. The work that I do accomplish I love but the recording comes at such slow pace that makes me frustrated at times. I feel that this album should have been finished so long ago. I have been working on it since 2007 with short bursts of recording time. It is still fun to work on even though it is slow.

Signing off

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Episode 46

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message
I did not know anything about this group except for the single, The Message. I loved that song growing up as a kid. The political meanings escaped me at the time but it was the beginnings of rap. I understand what they were trying to say back then now that I listen to it today. I have had many discussions with various people on the net about the fact that rap music is actually music and has come from a culture that needed a voice but had no money to get equipment to voice what needed to be said at the time. IMO the people from that time and culture got creative with what they had and found a way to voice themselves and make some pretty good music at the same time. The problem that these people on the net have is that they were not making new music they were instead stealing other people’s music and “talking” over that music. I call BS on that line of thinking. To me it was a reinvention of music in one of the most creative ways possible. To me it is kind of reverse engineering a piece of music. It is making a new instrument out of something that already existed. It took an intelligent mind that had no way out to find an unseen way out to the public. I don’t care what anybody says, rap is music and a turntable can be an instrument. Although samples can cost big bucks they are an important part of music today.

This album was not as much of an influence on me as say DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – He’s The JD, I’m The Rapper was The Message was still a really great song. Last year I bought this album and instantly fell in love what the music that they created and what they had to say. I especially love the fact that they gave props to Stevie Wonder in the form of a love song. Have you ever heard an all male group do any song to thank another male artist, let alone to do it in a slow love song style? I also just recently bought the eighth track that was included on the CD that was reissued recently since it was not included on the record that I purchased.

Falco – 3
I heard the first single to this album on the radio, KDWB to be more precise. I really liked the production and artistry that went into the song. I couldn’t get enough of the song really. I pleaded with my mother to get me the whole album. I even recorded the song about six or seven times on my personal boom-box before she finally got me a copy of the album. It wasn’t soon after the second single came out, Vienna Calling. I remember being at a family friends house, she was probably baby sitting my sister and I at the time, and the video for Vienna Calling came on. I remember her saying that she did not want us watching that mess on TV or something like that. We tried to reason with her that I already owned the album and we knew the song very well. Of course a child reasoning with an adult never goes well for the child. The TV was turned off and that was the end of it. I never saw the rest of that video. I don’t think that I will even search it out on the YouTube either. I have the music and that is what is important.

I just read that the lead singer died in a car crash. My heart was broken. I had no idea. This was the only album that I ever got from the group and as such the only influence that the group will ever have on me but still I am saddened by the fact that he will never be able to touch the hearts of the world through live concerts again. Not that he ever did so this way with me. As a matter of fact he still has a chance to touch people through his recorded music just as he did with me. I guess what I am trying to say is that his legacy still has the chance to touch people even though he can not. The same can be said about any artist that has passed away and left behind their work for all to see.

The Soft Pack – S/T
This group was originally called The Muslims. They changed their name because of racist comments that continually surfaced relating to the bands name. They have released quite a few EPs and singles prior to this album but this is their first full length album. The group has put a really great indie pop collection together here. The first single is what attracted me to them. I first heard it on my local public radio station, 89.3 The Current. It has a very danceable driving beat with some laid back but still directing vocal performance. I am not all that excited about the group and forget that they are as good as they are. I guess that the name of the band is not indicative about what they sound like. Try them you will probably like them.

Stereolab – Margerine Eclipse

Just like with any Stereolab album, it is more of the same but from a different angle. New facets are shown with every album and every listen on each song. It is just the way that every song comes out. They are each unique and different but still the same in a way. The analogy that I have heard of the band was that every song comes from the same ice burg but each song is a different ice crystal from that ice burg. That being said, this is one of my favorite albums. The biggest highlight from this album is the triplets used in a 4/4 time signature. The way that the music turns over during this part hits me every time. It has so moved me that I am trying to incorporate something like this in one of the songs that I am writing. I am not sure how this will turn out in the music that I write but we shall see. All in all the music is fantastic, smooth and mellow. It is an album that I could listen to over and over and do at times.

That is all I have for now.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Episode 45

The Black Keys – Attack & Release
I can’t believe that I have not talked about this album yet. This is a two piece band that has just made magic wit this album. They enlisted the help of Danger Mouse for the production on this album. Just about anything that DM touches it seems turns to gold. The 2 members of the band play just drums and guitar. There are other instruments included on this album along with layered guitars. I think that his comes from the production work of DM. What ever, this album is so fantastic I don’t know why everyone does not have a copy.

I bought this album when it came out in 2008 on vinyl and it came with a CD. I have listened to this album so often that I had to take off the shrink wrap. The record was in and out of the shelf so often that I had to take the shrink wrap off. I brought this album over to my father-in-laws house a few times. He loved it as much as I did.

I have been previewing a few albums that I have been meaning to get recently. The following is a few that I have been really happy with and will be purchasing soon I think.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – S/T
They are of the noise pop/shoe gazer genre. For the most part My Bloody Valentine is just loud and noise. This group seems to pull this off with out the loud part. The music is not all noise and mostly pop. It almost makes me happier to listen to this album than to the MBV stuff. There are more hooks in the TPOBPAH. I think that this makes it easier to listen to as well. I also found this album on vinyl for cheaper than the CD. How exciting is that! I am very excited to get my hands on that album.

Broken Bells – S/T
This is a project featuring Danger Mouse and James Mercer of The Shins. I was not sure that I was going to be interested in this pairing after listening to the NPR first listen a while back. I liked the first single that was put out from this album a lot. It was always nagging me in the back of my head that the single could be that good and the rest of the album not so much. So I searched out a preview copy. I have fallen in love with the sounds that are on this album. I guess that I knew that I was wrong the whole time. I just can’t say no to what DM is putting out right now. It is really good stuff.

The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
This is their 3rd album. I really love the second album, Neon Bible, because that is where I first heard about them. This new effort is something special though. There are a couple instant hits but not as driving as those on Neon Bible though. This album is not as dark as the previous two have been. I think that the group is finally getting over their hard times and seeing a brighter light. I hope that they continue to write in a lighter vein because it is easier to listen to I think.

This is a concept album again. The previous two were as well. It seems to be about living life in the suburbs as the album title says. It is kind of a life cycle really. Moving from a youth to an adult and having kids to start the cycle over again. There are a couple of brighter spots that don’t seem to fit in the song order but these tracks actually help the album to move along and give the listener a jolt out of the lull that the band had created. I am still trying to get use to the album because of this. It keeps me coming back for more because of this too.

David Bowie – Low
This is the first of a trilogy of albums that Bowie collaborated on with Brian Eno. The other 2 were Heroes and Lodger. I don’t yet have the other 2 but there are quite a few albums that I don’t yet have from Bowie yet. I really like his work and am always looking for more from him.

This album is very experimental and, apparently, influential for many groups creating music at the moment. It is not my favorite album from him but I can defiantly see where a lot of current acts would site this as influential to them. It is not an album that I can really get into frequently but it is still an important album in the history of music today. Bowie was a recovering drug addict at the time so the songs deal with negative emotions that a person goes through during these times. The music relates to this as well with its haunting sounds.

That is all I got for now. Sorry for the delay.

Signing off

Monday, July 5, 2010

Episode 44

Nada Surf – If I Had A Hi-Fi
I have been a fan of Nada Surf since 2 years ago when I picked up their vinyl box set for Christmas. I have liked them since their first album but did not really become a fan until I got that box set. Then this album was released. It is a collection of cover songs. I am still very excited about it. I wanted to get out to a good record store to get this album early but I was not able to. It was only available on CD for record store day so I am not disappointed that I had to wait. The LP release of this album has 3 bonus remix tracks. The only thing that I am disappointed with is that the Japan release of this album has 6 bonus tracks of covers of some Japanese songs. I can live with out them but I would love to at least hear the Japan extras.

The album is really fantastic. There are some unheard of artists being covered on this album along with some classic greats and some current artists too. All of these songs are reworked to that classic Nada Surf smooth mellow sound. Some people think that if a band does a cover album that they are then out of good material. I will never understand this because back in the day (days of the rat pack for example) that is what an album was made of. An album was made up of mostly cover songs and a couple originals. It is only until recently that artists have been making albums 100% original songs, i.e. the past few generations.

Some may be discouraged by the complete reworking of their favorite songs. To me they are reworked so completely that they become Nada Surf songs. I think that the album was put together very smartly. My biggest complaint is that the download content with the vinyl record is very lacking. When I downloaded the album from the internet with the supplied card all the tracks except the last 2 (not including the remix tracks) were 128 kbph. Yes, it is a nice gesture to offer a download coupon when you get a record but people buying records want good sound quality. At least offer the downloads at 256. I was really confused because the last 2 were at 320. What is worse is that the last 3 remix tracks were not even included in the download. I had to go to the Nada Surf web site to figure out what was going on. There was no explanation but the whole track listing for the US release of the LP was there and I could figure out what was going on from that. I ended up making a copy of the LP myself and deleting the download.

The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
This group has a sound all its own. It flows through all of their albums. I think that this is their most accessible album to date (it is their latest). They are the current version of “The Boss.” I like the group but I don’t really like Springsteen, go figure. I think that it is because they use a classic punk styling in their music. I have a natural affinity for punk rock since I grew up in the 80’s. For me it is more fun music than Springsteen has ever made. The Clash is also referenced with this group. Hence the punk flavor that is mixed with the “Jersey sound.”

I think that this album will be recognized and given more respect than either of its predecessors. It is so easy to get in the groove with this album. To me it is a little bit more watery than the last 2 albums. I think that this is what will make it easier for others around the world to get into them. Sometimes this album reminds me of The Refreshments a little to much. This is also where I get the watered down sound from. The Refreshments were overly accessible to the public and I think that was their downfall.

I do have the same complaint with this album about the download card. Everything came down at 128. Please record companies give us some good sound quality if we are buying the vinyl. I know we are talking about hard drive space but when drive space costs are coming down so drastically this should not be an issue!

Billy Joel – Storm Front
This album was my introduction to Billy Joel and my love for his music. Although he made one more record after this one and it was so popular to the world this was his last album for me. This album fit perfectly with the year it was released. Music changed and went in a new direction after this for me. This album was released in 1989, the year before I went into high school. Music became a quest for me when I got into high School. Before that it was a casual listening experience for me. Music was still important but it was not a situation of, “I have been listening to this way before you even knew about that group.”

There are a lot of groups that I have now that I did not even know existed when this album was released. There was a whole world of music out there that I did not even know about until I got into high school. This album and The B-52’s – Cosmic Thing were what I was listening to for most of 1989. I was just 15 at the time and these 2 albums had every thing I needed at the time. Although they alluded to the things that would change in my life or that I would start getting into music much heavier than I already was. Consider both of these groups history of music for reference. I will say that I own all of the regular albums that I can get my hands on from Billy Joel up to this album. I am not to that point with The B-52’s though because they are such a hit and miss band for me.

This album is really a well thought out collection of songs with most of the album’s songs being used on the radio as singles. This is not just classic piano rock. There is guitar, synth and piano. All the songs are well orchestrated. This is also why most of the songs were singles.

The Black Keys – Brothers
This is their 6th album. Danger Mouse did not do the production on this album and you can instantly tell the difference. I only got into this band on Attack & Release (A&R). I have only heard rumors about the sound quality and production on their previous 4 albums to A&R. Those rumors were that the production was very sloppy since it was only the 2 of them working on it. I have also read that with this album they have taken some of what they have learned with Danger Mouse and applied it to this album. I will say that I really like this album a lot. Not to the level of A&R but right next to it. I am also tempted to get the previous 4 albums because I am really liking this group quite a bit. I don’t think that I will hunt them down on vinyl but probably on CD. I don’t want to sink a ton of money into this group. They are great current style blues duo but if the sound is not that great on those previous albums why bother hunting them down when I can find them so much more easily in a common format?

Any way, that is all for now.

Signing off

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Episode 43

Jamiroquai - Traveling Without Moving
I have always liked the singles from this band but was never interested enough to actually get an album from the group. Apparently, this is typical for US listeners as they have never charted very high here. I have only just listened to this album recently (2010). My sister-in-law owned this and a couple of others that she loaned to me. I still have yet to listen to the others as of yet. She was one of the cutting edge music fans back in the day. I was and still am today but my tastes in music are different but run parallel at the same time to her tastes in music.

I loved the first single from this album, Virtual Insanity. This song was my first exposure of the band. Like most people my age, I saw the video first on Mtv (back when the station actually played music videos). The video is so brilliant that it won a Grammy and 4 Mtv music awards (at the time they actually meant something sort of). The video featured the lead singer in a white walled black floored room with various pieces of furniture. As he sang the song the floor moved and the furniture moved with the floor. All I can say is that you need to see this video if you haven’t already. Here is the link for it.

The rest of the album is just as fantastic. It is done in a funk/rock style that is really very entertaining. The standout songs are basically the singles but you can’t really go wrong with the album as a whole. The other singles are Cosmic Girl, Alright and High Times. This is really a great album and the only one that charted well in the US. This album was a 1996 release just incase you were wondering.

Tapes 'n Tapes - Walk It Off
This is the second album from the group. They are from Minneapolis MN. I was very excited to get this album after hearing the single on the radio. It has a really good beat that you can dance to (lol). The artwork on the cover is similar to the previous album in that the colors are the same. The background on this cover is white where as the background on the first one is black. The album was put together while touring in 2007. It was finalized and released in the spring of 2008.

I bought the album when it was originally released on CD. My wife likes the group more than I do and we both appreciate vinyl releases so I got her a copy of both albums for her birthday a year ago. I have listened to both albums and like them both a lot. I ended up giving my father-in-law the CD version of the album. This way it stays in the family if you understand my meaning. I am sure that he will never listen to them but if for some reason I want it back it would not be an issue.

The single, Hang Them All, is very catchy. It uses a classic organ sound that is reminiscent of something from the animals to me. It is probably something more robust or a sample of something that is so much more grand in scale but it reminds me of a cheap Vox keyboard from the 60s or 70s. I can’t really tell if the organ sound is a sample or an actual organ. My ear is not trained to organ sounds yet so I am not sure about it yet. I have not found any information relating to this organ sound on the internet yet either but I will keep searching.

Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
Although emo music has been around since the 80s the genre was given a new face in the 90s primarily with this band and the band Jaw Breaker. I was not really into either of them at first. I did like the singles off this album though. I did not have the money to be buying albums at that time though. I was still in high school and only had a part time job at the time. I did make a note of it in my head and now, years later, the record companies have repressed their 2 albums on vinyl. I picked up this one as soon as it was re-released. I want to get the second album that they put out but have not gotten to it just yet. To me this is the heart of emo music, emotional and hard rocking. Many bands have come since these 2 groups showed the world what it meant to be emo in the 90s but, IMO, this one still stands the test. I own many albums from emo artists since this one but most of them seem to come off as whiney little brats. What I mean is that there are more emotions than just “My life sucks and there is nothing I can do about it.” Sunny Day Real Estate is proof of this.

The original pressing of this album on vinyl was missing 3 tracks. I am not sure at the moment if this is true with the repressing. I have it put away at the moment but the album also came with a download and all of the tracks came with the download of the album.

The group was so revolutionary on this album that it laid the groundwork for future artists and their albums. For example, one of the sleeper albums of the 90s was Weezer – Pinkerton. The reviews of this album were very bad indeed. But that is for another review. It was because of Sunny Day Real Estate that Pinkerton was even made.

Sub.Bionic - You I Lov///
I found out about this band from a promotional release that I got from the now defunct Extasy Records. This promo disc was basically videos for the computer. They called the disc Blue.Monster. They filmed a bunch of videos for a few of their songs, not every song on the official release. There was one particular song on this disc that fans of the group wanted on the You I Lov/// release. That song was called If Gunshy. The video is still up on YouTube here. I loved everything on this promo disc. I was very excited when I finally heard that there was going to be an official release. When it was finally released it was very difficult to find. I was scared that I would not find a copy of this album. I had to have it. I realized what it meant when people said that and album was so indie that it hurt. I was freaking out because I couldn’t find this album. I think that I found a copy on Amazon a week or two after it was released. The music has been thought of by others as a little bit of Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley mixed together. I love all three of these bands so this music is right up my alley. This album is still hard to find but if you do find it the album will be super cheap. Nobody has heard of it so nobody cares about it and this is the reason it is cheap. I think I saw that Amazon had a copy of it from a 3rd party seller for a Penney.

The album is dark and depressing in nature but that is what I was after at the time. It was released in 2001. This was a dark time for me and this album fit right in with everything that I was listening to and how I was feeling. It defiantly was not what I needed. It held me down more than it helped me up and out of the depression that I was in at the time.

Falling Up – Crashings
This group is a Christian themed grace driven rock/punk group. This album was released in 2004. They were one of the first groups that I was introduced to when I started going back to church. I had always been interested in listening to Christian music but to my knowledge there was no Christian group out there that was playing in the style that I wanted to hear. My whole world opened up when I found that there were Christian groups in the world now that was playing real hard rock and punk music. I found out about this group and a few others from a concert that I went to in the city. They and a few others opened up for, oh, I can’t remember who at the moment. Maybe it was Pillar or Skillet. Any way, I was so impressed with their sound that as soon as I possibly could I picked up this album. I also picked up a few others from that concert that was either playing or I got a flier about. I bought them based on what I heard and after listening to the CDs I fell in love even more. This album is so over produced it almost sounds fake. The problem is that it is done so well that you can’t help but listen to the whole thing in one sitting. To me there is just something about this album that screams don’t stop once you have started. The songs are unique to each other but they flow into each other so nicely. This is why it is so difficult to shut it off after it has started.

That is all I have for now.

Signing off.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Episode 42

Talking Heads – Little Creatures
I came into this group a little late. Like 2009 late. My mother-in-law said that she and her family came into this group late. So I had to one up her by telling her that. I did not even know about this album until I came across it at my favorite used record store (Half Priced Books). I found this along with a couple others on vinyl in great condition for less than 8 bucks, if I remember correctly, an absolutely wonderful find in the store. I think that there is someone who is updating their record collection as the new ones are being repressed. I find more used records that are being repressed at that store. Anyway, back to the story. I remember hearing the And She Was on the radio when I was a kid at about 9 or 10 years of age (based on the release year of the album, 1985) on the radio and not thinking much of it. It was good but not superb to my young ear. The one that really hit me was from the previous album, Speaking In Tongues. Everyone recognizes it as the big hit for the band. That song is Burning Down The House. That is for another time though. I also remember another single from Little Creatures called Road To Nowhere. This is a fun one. It is kind of a marching or at least forward moving song. It is not fast but steady moving. It makes me want to get something done or progressively get what I am doing done. I recently listened to this album with my Mother-in-law, the reason I mentioned her in the first place, and my wife. We were at the MIL’s house cleaning and putting together furniture (and doing laundry). I started the album and she said to me, I love this album, how did you know that I liked it? I said to her that he has told me a few times in the past that this was her favorite and it is also my wife’s favorite album by them. It was a cute little “Of course I know you like this and that is why I am playing it for you” moment.

The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free
This is a one man band that writes music in the genre of Grime. This is a subdivision of rap that has come from the UK. There are not many artists that are doing this genre that have crossed over to the US. The Streets is one of them. It is very simple music. A drum loop matched with a simple rhythm line. I think that there is just something about the way that this group writes music so simply that intrigues me. The first single is what hooked me into this group. The song is called Fit But You Know It. It is basically about a girl that is cute and she knows it and plays it up as much as possible. I can’t remember where I heard this single, probably on 89.3 The Current. It has a good danceable beat to it though so I could have heard it anywhere. This is actually a concept album. It follows a guy through some tough times and some good times. It even has a twist at the end of the story. The last 2 songs are about a different way of ending the story. One is about a negative ending and the other is about a positive ending. If you can handle the style of music it is actually a fun album. If you can’t handle repetitive music or can’t handle rap then don’t bother with this album.

Coldplay – Leftrightliftrightleft
This is a live album. You could only get this as a physical copy of you went to a concert for the band last year. Otherwise you could download it for free from the web site(link embedded in the title of the album above). The album was released to say “thank you” to all their fans. Although I am not a superfan of the group I do own all of their regular albums and the first live album that they put out, Coldplay Live 2003. Leftrightleftrightleft is a live album that features only 9 songs. 6 of the songs are from the latest album Viva La Vita (including one from the Prospects March EP) and the other three are from the previous albums. It sounds like it is a soundboard recording, a very good one too, and you can still hear the crowd clapping and cheering and even singing along with the songs. Some people think that hearing the crowd on a live album is important. It helps to get you in the mood of the concert that it was recorded at. I agree with this to an extent. I don’t want to hear so much of the crowd that I don’t get to hear as much of the music as I want to. This is actually a very good recording. I get to hear the music clearly and I can hear the crowd to an extent that I want to. I am disappointed that the album is only 9 songs considering how much music that they have created. I guess you get what you pay for and seeing as it is a free album I really got more than I bargained for. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good live album.

My own recording (PurelyHim)
I finally did some more recording this week. I had a week off from work and I only worked on my music for a day. I take that back for a few hours really. I did record a bass line for a new song that I have had in my head for a long time. It came out pretty good. I think there was only one minor glitch. I also recorded a lead part for another song that I had mostly finished. I played this part so hard on my fingers that I ended up with a blister on the tip of my left hand ring finger. I popped it and continued playing though. I also converted 2 other songs that I did not have current copies of so I could listen to them and come up with ideas. One of those 2 I did not even remember working on. The part in question is not all that great but there are little bits in that part that I could use in the final draft. I also need to move the parts around a little bit too. What I mean by that is that every instrument is dead center. I need to move them left or right a bit depending on where I think they need to be in the song. Every song is a little bit different too. I don't have a place yet but when I think that the music is ready I will post it somewhere for all of you 2 people to listen to.

Signing off.