Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vol. 2, Episode 2

Well, here it is, number two. More stories, more detail, more fun!

New Order – Low-Life
About a year ago I found this album on vinyl. A few months after I found this album I found out that the record company put out all of their 80s albums as special 2 CD editions. I picked them all up. There are 5 albums that were released this way. I also found out that they repressed them all in vinyl. I couldn’t bring myself to also buy them on vinyl. It is a little disappointing to me as I would rather have them all on vinyl. This album is a classic synth/pop album from the 80s. New Order is the result of Joy Divisions loss of their lead singer to suicide. The group decided to continue to make music and relabeled themselves New Order. I remember this album in particular because there are a couple of great singles that I remember from when I was a kid. Love Vigilantes is the first song on the album and instantly the most recognizable track. Unless you were not allowed to listen to pop radio in the 80s (I’m looking at you Moms) you should know this song by heart. It is perfectly classic and simple. The group were never the greatest musicians but could put together some of the greatest pop songs. The second song and the second single is Perfect Kiss. The vocals on this track are a little pitchy as the black guy would say on American Idol. I don’t know where those judges get off complaining about such minuscule things anyway. Every group that started in a garage has been this away. Anyway, there is a really cool breakdown in this song with frogs talking in the background. That is what always got me with this song. It was an organic breakdown in an electronic song. The song Elegia was used in a few different movies including Pretty In Pink. This is where I recall the track from. It is an instrumental track that the band claims is dedicated to Ian Curtis who was the groups lead singer when they were Joy Division. This is a great album and shows how the band has transformed from punk to dance pop.

The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
Most fans of The Lips, as they are known to their fans, are not happy with this album. It is too precise and pop for their expectations. The group is knows for their progressive rock sound and this album does not follow that sound at all. This is exactly why I love this album. They get down and into the music. They lay it out so precise and exact with their progressive sound that I can’t not listen to the whole thing. They have somehow put an attraction sound into the music that once I start listening to the album I find it very hard to turn off. From the very first track, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, It drags you in. Most of you would probably recognize the track from a car commercial that was released a few years ago now. The second song could have easily been a single but I don’t think that it was picked up. This song is called Free Radicals. The first single that was released to radio was The W.A.N.D. This track has a riff that goes through out the whole song and does not quit. It may cut out for a few bars but when it comes back it is exactly the same. It is a simple riff but it is so catchy. It is so catchy and simple that when it was released I was obsessed with the riff and taught myself how to play it on my guitar at home. I did my best to get the distortion on the guitar that is playing the riff. Then I proceeded to play that riff with the song playing on repeat until my fingers hurt or I finally tired of the song. I can’t remember which happened first. The last single that came from this album is called It Over Takes Me. This is another song that has a great riff but it is played on the bass guitar. This song doesn’t have that same pull as the previous three that I have mentioned but is still sounds great. It may be that there is more variation on the bass part or it could be something else all together that I just cant put my finger on. Either way this album is really a great listen.

Silversun Pickups – Carnavas
I picked this album up when it first came out on CD from Target of all places. It was on the up and coming artists end cap. The graphic caught my eye. I had never heard anything from them before and just picked it up on a whim. I was astonished with what I heard from them and instantly fell in love with their sound. That sound is what I have come to label as NUgazer or the new shoegazer movement that has started pushing through in recent years. They are more focused on the music than on the lyrics. I am not the only one to think this is a great album either. There are four singles off this album. The first of which is Future Foe Scenarios. It is a good song with a cool distorted sound but it did not gather enough steam. It was not until the next single was released that this album started gaining some headway. The second single is Well Thought Out Twinkles. This song has a brighter lead guitar sound with higher pitched vocals to match that guitar part. The next single, Lazy Eye, is a song with a clearer sound. There is no distortion in this song which is not usual for a group of this genre. It is actually a refreshing point of view. This song was also used in a couple of the new crop of rhythm games that have come up in recent years giving the group lots more visibility in the public teen eye. The last single off this album is called Little Lover’s So Polite. This song comes back with the fuzzy distortion on the guitar. The guitar is just so catchy. This is what grabs me on this track. That is what attracted me to them after the first listen I think. The fuzzy, warm guitar riffs are so welcoming to me. I also like how the male and female vocals blend in with the music but at the same time stand out enough so that you can understand the song.

LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (S/T)
This is the first album from LCD Soundsystem. The band is actually a musical project put together by songwriter/producer James Murphy, who also happens to be the co-founder of record company DFA Records. I found out about this album only because of the second release. When I find a record that I really like I tend to do some research about the group to see if they have any music that I may have missed out on. In this case there was a whole album that I did not know about. I picked it up as soon as I could. I instantly could tell where the second album came from after listening to this one. This album is defiantly inferior to its predecessors but this does not make it irrelevant. The first single, Losing My Edge, for example uses a simple drum and bass loop with some cool synth sounds and on top of that is a talking vocal that talks of someone trying to stay on top of the curve. It is really a fun track. The second and third singles came from the second disc of the album which contained re-releases of previous singles not from the album. The second single is called Give It Up and the third is called Yeah. The fourth single and the song that got the “band” the most attention is Daft Punk Is Playing At My House. This is the one song that I recognized when I first listened to the album. I had heard it on the radio, 89.3 The Current to be exact. It is a laughable song about Daft Punk, a popular electronic band that I like a lot, that he got to play at his house. This makes sense since he is a well known producer and record company owner. I wish I could have Daft Punk play at my house too. I don’t have any connections with the music world so I don’t see it happening any time soon but that is OK. I think that I would rather have heard a song about them playing at someone else’s house at the moment anyway. This is a great album just not as good as his following works.

That is all for now...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vol. 2, Episode 1

Holly cow, January is almost over and I have just started writing my reviews. How am I ever going to get all 50 episodes out for volume 2? Well, the hard drive issue has bee resolved and I have a lot of new and old music to start writing about that I have picked up in the past Three months plus all of the other music that I have and haven’t written about yet. So, here we go…

Ride – Nowhere
This is an important album involved in the shoegaze(er) movement coming out of the UK during the late 80s/early 90s. Chasing after the psychedelic/wall of sound that Phil Specter had created in the 60s. I picked this album up a couple of years ago and never gave it much of a chance because I was listening to My Bloody Valentine (MBV) – Loveless at the time. I knew that I liked the album but was giving my time to MBV at the time. Recently, Rhino Records repressed the album on vinyl. I couldn’t say no to that. I think that this genre of music needs to be listened to on an analog format. It gives it that nice warm feeling that the creators of this genre intended I think. In the few weeks that I was waiting for the album I started listening to it in heavy rotation. I fell in love with it as much as I like the MBV albums. It is a very perfect album. It is cool to hear a shoegaze(er) album with male vocals instead of the more popular female vocals. It is easier to get lost in the music this way in my opinion, although, both are really great. It is really cool to have a large picture to see. The cover picture is that of calm water with a slight wave rolling across it in a slight S shape. The small cover on the CD is really not detailed enough for me. As an extra bonus the cover is embossed with the group name and album name as opposed to printed as it is on the CD. The LP also came with a reprinting of the original inner sleeve. The LP itself was in a separate audiophile inner sleeve. Thank you Rhino Records! Keep repressing those records to keep the integrity of the originals. The record itself sounds fantastic too.

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
I picked this up as a repressing a couple years ago now along with their first one Isn’t Anything. Those who are into the Shoegaz(er) movement call this album the crowning glory of the genre. They are also hoping for another album from the group. I don’t personally think that this will happen because it has been over 10 years since this album was released. But, here’s to hoping. I will say that having listened to a lot of shoegaz(er) music over the past couple of years that this is defiantly the best album to come from that genre. There is no gap in the sound at all. It is by all definitions a wall of sound. It is brilliant. Upon the first note you are lost in a sea of sound, warm and fuzzy, just lovely. I will say that this is not for everybody. It is something that you have to want to hear. The cover is a red tinged (pink, red and black), blurry picture of a guitar being played. The cover is nothing special but instantly recognizable as the album cover to many who know the genre or the band. The group is a rock band and only have drums guitar and vocals but you could swear that you hear other instruments being played. It is really amazing how they can create sounds through the standard rock instruments that sound like other instruments that are not even used in the group. I think that is the main thing that really gets me. Me being a musician I am always wondering how they did that or made that particular sound. I can only guess that it is a layering of sounds and the use of different pedals that combine to create some of these wonderful musical pieces. I do wish that the group would create a new album especially with the new crop of psychadelia/shoegaz(er) bands that are popping up. Then again it would be really hard to top something that fans love and adore so much.

Tapes ‘n Tapes – Outside
They are a Minnesota group. The new album just came out a week or so ago. I went out to see them at an in-store appearance at The Electric Fetus. I missed the performance but I did get to see the group. I bought the new LP and brought with me the covers for the first 2 albums. The guys in the group happily signed all three. I was so excited. We also got a limited edition poster because we bought the album. I was not expecting that at all. I also found out that you could have bought the album on cassette tape. I thought that was cute considering the band name. I couldn’t afford to get both the tape and the LP though. I totally would have if I had enough money to do it but I only planned on buying the LP. It isn’t that big of a deal really. The music on this album is not so intense. It is actually very catchy. I like it more than the first two albums, a lot more. There is one song in particular that really gets me. It is called One In The World. It is a simple catchy guitar riff with a poly sound. I have been getting into the poly sounding music lately with the likes of The Dodos and Vampire Weekend. So, this just fits in with that sound. The cover also fits in with what is going on with this sound. Some random realistic 35mm photo of a group of people walking on grass at night. It is a very casual picture and is very fitting for a slightly relaxed album from the group. The picture does not show any faces. It is kind of a waist down picture of some young adults walking. I like the nondescript photo. There is something about it that puts you at ease.

Jonsi – Go Live
I have talked about this guy a lot last year. He has also put out a live album of the songs from go. It is a CD/DVD combo. It is a great album that comes with a couple songs that are not on the studio album including a live version of the track that is on the end credits for How To Train Your Dragon called Sticks And Stones. There are 14 tracks on this live album as opposed to the 9 tracks on the studio album. Those extra tracks are good enough that they should have been included on Go but he probably wanted to keep it a bit on the light side for acceptance sake. The DVD is just as good. It really does justice to the concert that I saw last spring. Granted you are only watching it from the TV but it does show what I saw at the concert, and that is the important part. There is a problem with the DVD in that not all players will play the DVD properly. It was apparently converted from PAL and some players will have problems with this. My Blu-Ray player is one of them apparently. My DVD player doesn’t have any problems with it though. This is slightly annoying because the DVD player is not a part of the home theater setup currently. I will tell you this though. When I go shopping for a new disc player I will be bringing this with as a test disc to be sure that I can play it in the home theatre in the future. The packaging was simple enough. A CD sized slip case to house the two discs together. It is all in paper with plastic disc trays. There is also a booklet with some great pictures of Jonsi and his support band throughout the tour. If you are a fan you probably already have this. If you are not a fan I encourage you to get it. It is absolutely better than the studio album. I am not a fan of live albums but this is a good one.

T. Rex – Electric Warrior
I have found myself getting into the whole Glam Rock genre of the early 70s. I got a copy of this album for Christmas. It is a Rhino re-pressing and, like the album from Ride, it came with a re-printing of the original inner sleeve too. This is a really fantastic re-pressing. It is crystal clear. There are no skips or pops in my recording and the digital noise that is associated with digital recording is at a minimum too. This means that the stamper that was used was exceptionally clean for my pressing at least. The cover I love. It is so simple but explains what they wanted to say right off the bat. This music for me is very easy to listen to. I could fall asleep to it until the last song comes on any way. The last song is called Rip Off and is the most rockin’est song on the album. The reason that I wanted this album was that Jim and Greg of Sound Opinions did a dissection of this album at some point last year on its anniversary. I loved what I heard and I loved what was said about the time that the album was recorded. It was interested in what I was hearing and I recognized most of the tracks that were talked about on the show. As it turns out I only know a few of the tracks on the album but I recognized a lot of the rhythms in the music that I have been listening to from the current years of indie music. That should tell you a lot about current music. Any way, I really like the album and I am happy that I have it.

There will be for sure more to come, but, that is all for now...