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