Wednesday, November 30, 2011
At times it's solemn but not so much that it puts you into a state of depression. In fact, there a few faster tempo songs placed in just right spots so not to get too emotionally heavy.
Unfortunately, as it is with a lot of Americana folk groups, many of the songs just aren't that memorable in the melodic sense. With that said, I can honestly recommend this album just for a few of the 5 star songs.
3½ Songs sung into a buried jar out of 5
Songs Of Note: Bury Me; Transmissions
If the album had been promoted properly it could've been huge. Instead, it was shelved for two years by EMI. Damn them. If you want to take a chance on something old that sounds new, seek it out.
Songs of Note: 90's Itch; Soap Opera
4 victims of self-demands out of 5
PiL's second album pushed the boundaries even more of what experimental music could be. Jah Wobble's bass was again to the fore but was this time accompanied by Keith Levene's fully aluminium guitar, both of which helped lift John Lydon's vocals to something truly unique. Pretentious art students and music theorists loved it. It sounds as unique today as it did back in '79.
Songs of Note: Albatross; The Suit
4 they love you until they know you out of 5
Songs of Note: None.
0½ because they had Andy Cairns guest out of 5
Songs of Note: Souvenir from a Dream; July
4 refusals to be denied out of 5
Songs of Note: Along Came A Spider - The Movie
3 love is never pretty, best keep killing out of 5
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
After becoming known for his violent shock rock antics more than his music, Marilyn Manson played it smart and completely reinvented his musical sound. The glam-rocking Mechanical Animals showcased the image makeover with what would become Manson's strongest record to date.
A satirical jab at his own public image, Manson dissolves into split personalities paying tribute to David Bowie. The lyrics are sometimes a little hammy but the music is top notch stadium rock like glitter exploding from the bowels of a digital Hell.
Love him or loathe him. It can't be denied that Manson had some serious balls (contradicting the album cover) to release such an album. Easily a desert island disc.
5 Rose McGowans glittering in gold out of 5
Songs Of Note: Mechanical Animals; Coma White
NOFX have been making their special brand of pop-punk for slobs for nearly 30 years now and they don't seem to be running out of steam.
Coaster (or Frisbee as it's known as on vinyl) is their 11th studio album and there's no shortage of fast-paced punchy melodic pieces of enjoyable sneers and jeers. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes it's next to impossible to grow bored of the samesy sounding songs they constantly pump out.
It's difficult not to give NOFX anything but 3 stars. They're still doing the same thing they've been doing for 3 decades but they've never tried to be anything but. Just good ol' fashioned pop punk that spits in the faces of the crap that the youth of today are fooled into thinking is rebellious.
3 songs about Iron Maiden and Tegan & Sara out of 5
Songs Of Note: Best God In Show; I'm An Alcoholic
By fusing Jamaican dub, Mediterranean and Balkan traditional musical styles and dance-heavy hip-hop, Israeli music act, Balkan Balkan Beat have established themselves as one of the most unique groups working today.
On their third album, Blue Eyed Black Boy, BBB have smoothed out all the kinks of their previous albums and now it sounds as if every genre and texture flows together quite naturally. While they were mostly an excellent live band before and somewhat watered down for the studio, BBB manages to excel in both worlds with BEBB.
Being their best album yet, I look forward to what Balkan Beat Box have in store for us next.
4 Gogol Bordello Values out of 5
Songs Of Note: Dancing With The Moon; Lijepa Mare
Oingo Boingo's final studio album 1994's Boingo is a bitter-sweet farewell to a band who had been recording since 1976.
Incorporating the Gothic sounds of frontman Danny Elfman's film scoring into the mix is every fan's dream come true. Nearly dropping all signs of the horn section, The Vandals guitarist Warren Fitzgerald steps in giving it a modern feel. With lyrical jabs at organized religion, the kids these days, American fueled war and society's silly elitists, Elfman borders dangerously close to grumpy old man cynicism.
Juggling horror-laced material, good ol' rockers and insanely beautiful ballads, Boingo is Elfman's finest hour in the rock music genre. Another addition to my desert island disc collection.
5 Tender Lumplings out of 5
Songs Of Note: Insanity; Helpless [available on cassette only]
Much of the album is sure to make it onto a NMA Best of.. compilation, it's that good. The remaster improves the sound a lot, so seek it if you can. I find it really hard to describe their sound, so it's best to just listen to the links:
Songs of Note: Marrakesh; Innocence
5 buried hatchets out of 5
France's own self-proclaimed pervert, Serge Gainsbourg has received numerous covers and tributes but Monsieur Gainsbourg: Revisited would be the first time an entire album would made with all English cover versions.
With the likes of Portishead, Tricky, Placebo, Michael Stipe, James Iha, Marianne Faithful, Feist, Jarvis Cocker and more contributing, it's inevitable that the more solemn songs of Gainsbourg would be covered. Not to say his distinctive "sexy" sound isn't still there, it's just a little gloomier to fit with the modern era.
Like most tribute albums there's a few drastic misses but luckily enough the source material is good enough to have more hits.
4 where's Nick Cave, Barry Adamson or Mick Harvey? out of 5
Songs Of Note: L'Hotel / Michael Stipe; Those Little Things / Carla Bruni
Canadian post-rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor's first full-length album, F# A# ∞ is a post-apocalyptic aural painting of rage, despair and fear.
Broken up into 3 movements, Godspeed makes incredible use of haunting sound effects inserted between drawn out instrumentals that emotionally unfold into a surreal mixture of emptiness and grandiosity. Using the standard guitars, bass and drums, they cleverly throw in strings, horns, xylophones and glockenspiels to create a more organic sound that is that much more disturbing.
It's a difficult album to endure in one sitting but is certainly one of the most rewarding if you aren't turned off by being nearly suffocated with such beautiful desolation. Yet another desert island disc to add to my list.
5 Streets I nearly died on out of 5
Songs Of Note: The Dead Flag Blues [excerpt]; East Hastings [excerpt]
Songs of Note: Public Image; Annalisa
4 bibles full of libel out of 5
Songs of Least Fail: Wizard of Sextown; Hookerbot3000
1 revolting collection of songs out of 5
Songs of Note: For My Demons; In Death, a Song
4½ letters never sent out of 5
Songs of Note: Strangel; Donnez les Esprits
3½ moon revolutions out of 5
Virtual hip-hop band the Gorillaz, being the "digital era" group that they are, were destined to release a free digital album eventually.
Produced late at night in hotel rooms while Damon Albarn was on tour supporting the Plastic Beach album, The Fall doesn't include the usual mob of guest musicians as previous albums do (with the exception of The Clash's Mick Jones & Paul Simonon).
The end result sounds exactly like what it should be. Late night hotel room fun with a case of beer and cigarettes, resulting in a moody sonic spectral of bleeps and bloops. It's not great but it's an interesting listen. It captures the sound of late night experimentation perfectly.
3 Sounds that disturb the hell out of your pets out of 5
Songs Of Note: Amarillo; Bobby In Phoenix
Chris Cornell adds his voice once or twice but can be ignored, along with the first single, Lost in America, which has the dubious honour of being Alice's worst song since Trash. It's easy to make a playlist without it and neither the story nor album flow suffers from its removal. What's doubly great about TLT is that the softer lullaby tracks are equally as interesting as the regular guitar tracks.
Songs of Note: Sideshow; Nothing's Free
4 ringmasters with blackened eyes out of 5
Monday, November 28, 2011
Songs of Note: Beautiful Bluebird, Ordinary People
5 old guys know what's what out of 5
Songs of Note: Ribbons; I Was Wrong
4 red lights (and Oh No! Jim Steinman) out of 5
After a breaking all ties with Nick Cave in a bitter split, former Birthday Party and Bad Seeds member, Mick Harvey finally releases his first full solo album of original material.
Sketches From The Book Of The Dead is solemn collection of dreary ballads that tell of loved ones long gone and the places that evoke their memories. After working with Cave for over 30 years, it's impossible to step out of his shadow in a musical sense and the influence is very evident in Harvey's songwriting.
While each song has beautiful textures and mood, not all of it is memorable enough to really stand on it's own for a complete album. Still well worth checking out if you're a fan of his Cave compositions.
3 denials into Heaven out of 5
Songs Of Note: The Ballad Of Jay Givens; Two Paintings
Songs of Note: Paraffin; Pine
3 paper muscles out of 5
Songs of Note: Shifter; Battle for Heaven
2½ bells of heaven out of 5
Songs of Note: Cult without a Name; Thirteen
2 embarrassing inlay band photo shoots out of 5
If you're a NIN fan and don't have it already, then it’s an essential addition to your collection. It can only be purchased from the NIN website, but is well worth it.
Songs of Note: Something I Can Never Have; The Fragile
5 heartfelt moments of anguish and tranquillity out of 5
Songs of Note: Hail Horror Hail; Burial
3½ demons from the underworld out of 5
Songs of Note: I Sang for the Swans; You, That May Wither
4 undreamt dreams out of 5
Songs of Note: The Portrait; Charon
2½ faces in the candle flame out of 5
Acting like the bridge that connects the folksy based Morning Wood and the punkier Taking The World By Donkey, The Rugburns' EP Mommy, I'm Sorry is the 2nd of their only 3 releases.
The Rugburns was pretty much songwriter Steve Poltz's way to announce the things that ticked him off in the world. Nothing big but enough to laugh at and enjoy like he's lost everything all ready.
Packed with 5 storytelling songs and one Sesame Street theme cover, Mommy, I'm Sorry is good quick fun that leaves no bitter aftertaste.
3 dead deers on LSD out of 5
Songs Of Note: Dick's Automotive; Skyfuckingline Of Toronto
Songs of Note: Anarchy in the U.K; Holiday in the Sun
5 ways to get what you want out of 5
Sunday, November 27, 2011
In between 16 Horsepower albums, David Eugene Edwards takes a solo ride on his new project entitled Woven Hand.
Brooding over a sound palate leaning towards a Gothic Bluegrass sound that's teetering on the brink of neo-folk, Edwards sounds right at home here. If not for the twangy sounds of mandolins, brush drums and banjos, one might actually swear it was Nick Cave washing his menace all over this haunting and hypnotizing project.
It's the type of music that's meant to played loudly over the mountaintops as the sun goes down on a dead winter's night. Simply a wonderful delight for this weary traveler.
4 nods to Bill Withers out of 5
Songs Of Note: My Russia; Arrowhead
The soundtrack to Liev Schreiber's moving yet quirky drama Everything Is Illuminated captures the feel of the film perfectly.
The album features a line-up of various Eastern European flavored artists like Gogol Bordello, Leningrad and Tin Hat Trio. What takes center stage though are the eight score cues from composer Paul Cantelon. Sounding more like Odessa street performers than a regular score ensemble, Cantelon's score is organic and heartwarming while still retaining a slight goofy charm.
It's a wonderful little soundtrack that may not be for everybody but if you're curious about foreign music genres then this is a great place to start.
4 soundtracks in a baggy out of 5
Songs Of Note: PROLOGUE/BABUSHKA : Paul Cantelon; FEAR OF THE SOUTH : Tin Hat Trio
Following the breakthrough success of 1994's Dookie, pop punk outfit Green Day were beaten down, alienated and ready for a break. 1995's Insomniac captured those feelings perfectly with a bratty smirk gashed into their faces.
Louder, grittier and tighter than before, Green Day spit up a tight little package of snot-nosed pop punk songs packed with such an infectious bounce you'll hardly notice how angry they actually are.
It may not be a step forward from their Dookie sound but it's still good ol' fashioned rock n' roll with an honest sneer and that's exactly what captured my heart for all these years. Add this to my desert island discs.
5 Jesus Christ Supermarkets out of 5
Songs Of Note: Stuck With Me; Panic Song
Songs of Note: Deadhouse; I Break
5 Mikael Åkerfeldt cameos out of 5
Songs of Note: 24 Minutes From Tulse Hill; Sheriff Fatman
3½ teeth as deposit out of 5
Songs of Note: My God; You and Me
2½ the door opened, then shut out of 5
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Its main focus is his voice and acoustic guitar; there's other orchestration but it's not in your face. Neil is a performer, he loves the extravagance; to hear him so reserved is a joy. 12 Songs is without a doubt the best album he'd made in over a decade. But it was just the beginning. The album he made after is even better.
Songs of Note: Delirious Love; Hell Yeah
3½ Beach Boy cameos out of 5
Songs of Note: Another Day (That Time Forgot); Don't Go There
4 bites of the apple out of 5
Friday, November 25, 2011
Following the platinum success of the The Real Thing, influential gonzo hard rockers Faith No More took a genre-colliding sharp turn into something even more twisted and disturbing than what listeners were ready for.
It starts off sounding like the powerpop of their previous album but quickly dissolves into something far weirder and unfriendly. Mike Patton's vocals take center stage as he channels a vast array of personalities from a smug "I have the power" charm to blasts of falsetto elegance to the screeches of a rabid animal.
With cheerleader choruses, masturbation & oral sex allusions and Kronos Quartet samples, Angel Dust is an definitive album of the '90's that practically runs through my blood like a drug. Another desert island disc to add to my list.
5 Midnight Cowboys out of 5
Songs Of Note: Caffeine; A Small Victory
Songs of Note: Consume Me; Dear 666
3½ portraits of the artist out of 5
Songs of Note: Mouth for War; Walk
4 moved mountains out of 5
Songs of Note: Time of Ye Life / Born For Nothing / Paranoid Arm of Narcoleptic Empire; Bat Stack
4 unusual and hard to define projects out of 5
Most of Blackacidevil is a noisy industrial mess; it's distorted, fuzzy, irritating and boring. It's the ugly child that no parent wants to pick up after school. I'm tempted to give it permanent banishment from my collection. It sullies the rest. Approach with caution. It gets 1 point for the song Ashes.
Songs of Note: Come to Silver; Ashes
1 downhearted loss of 5
Songs of Note: Now She Knows She's Wrong; The King is Half-Undressed
4 fashion explosions out of 5
Coming out of Vancouver, Canada, hip-hop act Sweatshop Union is a smooth mishmash of varied vocal styles and musical backdrops. With vocal rhythms reminiscent of Heavy D, Eminem, Chali 2na and Del The Funky Homosapien, Sweatshop produces a strong musical sense of positivity while tackling some serious subjects in their lyrics.
Their sophomore album Natural Progression is a mixture of everything mentioned above, plus friendly charisma, impressive production and a firm grasp on the underground hip-hop movement.
It's only downfall is the lengthy playtime. Clocking in at over 60 minutes, Natural Progression could have benefited from maybe 4 or 5 songs cut from the playlist.
4 New World Orders out of 5
Songs Of Note: Us; The Thing About It
Psychocandy has some great Pop songs buried beneath the fuzzy sound, but you may have to work extra hard to hear them. Later albums were more ear-friendly, so don't hate them just yet.~
Songs of Note: Taste of Cindy; Never Understand
3½ seeds out of 5
Thursday, November 24, 2011
I didn't laugh when he wore his pointy nose and pointy ears or when he grew bat wings, but The Grudge is a musical joke. Does anyone like it?
Songs of Least Fail: Decadent and Desperate; Le Petit Cochon Sordide
0 'cos it's bad for your Elf out of 5
Trip-hop duo Bitter:sweet are a bit of a lone-wolf in their genre. Upbeat and toe-tappingly delightful, they'll have a problem attracting fans of Massive Attack or Portishead.
Taking healthy dips into 60's lounge music, Bitter:sweet is reminiscent of The Supreme Beings Of Leisure, only having more fun than they ever did. Shana Halligan's kittenish vampy vocals echo that of Beth Gibbons, except Halligan isn't too shy to let her sexuality shine.
The songs don't really leave a lasting impression but are incredibly enjoyable while they last. Fun, catchy and sugar-sweet.
3 lipstick jungles out of 5
Songs Of Note: The Bomb; Trouble
Songs of Note: Here Comes the War; Living in the Rose
3 thick black nights out of 5