Thursday, November 30, 2006
#21 Bavarian Fruit Bread - Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions (rough trade, 2001)
This album was indeed a gift from Captain Ultra almost 5 years ago now. (Big Cougar's memory of SF59 tapes leads me to remember the first time I heard Hope's voice on a now infamous BForbes mix tape that he made me that led me back and forth b/w campus and my country dwelling in Bristol, TN.) We were both Mazzy Star fans and together with Big Cougar and Shawna were going to soon be playing Mazzy's "fade into you" a couple times at shows.
So Ultra quietly passes me this record at the Christmas party at my mom's house. I put it on over the blaring "A Christmas Story" or "24 hours of Eastwood", I really don't remember. What I do remember is being drawn back again and again to the unassuming melodies and wondering where in the world is that voice coming from. Was she a Siren in the midst of those mad moments whilst wrapping paper was being tossed to and fro and 'thank yous' were being yelled? When the clamor died down, would I just hear a tender girl past her prime longing for the shoegaze/psych/folk of her 90's band? Lets just say she put the wind in the sails...
Bavarian Fruit Bread is a seamless album, you know what you're gonna get from the outset. It can seduce you or wrap you in a warm winter blanket, depending on the mood. It stands on Hope's sultry voice and lots of reverb. Colm O Ciosoig (My Bloody Valentine) his her main partner here and brings some of the warmest tones I've ever heard. I love putting this on and knowing there won't be any tempo changes, jarring percussion, or solos. Scratch that last part. There are solos but they are of the glockenspiel and harmonica varieties. I prefer to listen loud so as to hear the tender breathing, mallet washes on the ride, and the creaking of chairs as they record. For subject matter...some simple revelries "its a Clear Day to be out"...playing temptress/older sis "gonna teach her to sin cause i'm always knowing where she's been, living on the wrong side of the tracks"...to... my fav "she looks just like my sister, but feels just like my man."
They Might Be Giants
The tape deck in my 1982 Subaru Wagon GL wore out the cassette of this album when I was in high school. Is it immature?... yes. Am I half-ashamed to list this as #22?... indeed.
Tracks of Note:
Birdhouse In Your Soul, We Want A Rock, Particle Man, Whistling In The Dark, Istanbul
Best When Played:
Riding dirty in your '82 Subaru Wagon GL.
#22 The Fashion Focus, Starflyer 59, Tooth & Nail, 1998
Back in college, Papa Shoegaze used to sleep with a guy who wore purple tighties. I mean in the same room , of course, and the guy's name was Will J. Myself and ATrain, who was my sleep friend, had a nice little fiberglass bungalow five doors down from them and we would often hear competing musical sounds wafting down the corridor. If it was Will J's turn to spin, we were bound to hear the major chord tinkering of Michael W Smith or some other contemporary praise group (annoyance with this repeated experiment with the praise dial lead me to put Weezer's "Only In Dreams" at max volume on repeat in our room with the door locked for a good three hours one night when I went out. I believe because of that Rob, and most people in Liston Hall, will never forget the bass line to that song). If it was Rob's turn to play something on Will J's 50 CD changer (only in late '90s America), our ears usually met with thick shoegaze fuzz from a particular SoCal "Christian" rock group.
I had heard a lot about Starflyer 59 from being an acolyte of the Tooth & Nail school of Christian rock, an academy that proudly implied that their sound was "like" secular music without the spiritual guilt/baggage bound to accompany secular sound, and I had shipped countless copies of Starflyer records when I worked at a Christian merchandise distributor the summer after my freshman year at college. I loved the Starflyer cover art (or lack thereof), but the little tidbits I had heard didn't resonant with my punk/pop rock disposition. When I met Rob my sophomore year, his endless array of Velvet Blue tees and Starflyer references fascinated me (that and the omnipresent deck shoes). When we started talking about playing music together, he kindly composed a mix tape for me (which I still have) featuring a collection of his favorite Starflyer tracks. It didn't take long for me to become enamoured with Jason Martin's unique sound - guitar thickness and languishing solos enshrouding minimal, whispery vocals. It also helped that our first band, manifesting itself as "Flavor Station," covered Sled off of Silver for a packed (OK, loosely populated) Friday night dining hall crew (for the historical record, we also covered "Love" by Sixpence None the Richer with a future Mrs. Sievert on lead vocals).
When, then, in the fall semester of '98 I heard what I would later come to learn was the distorted raunch and arena lead of the Jacob and Esau homage "The Birthrite" drifting down the hall our way, a new level in my relationship with Starflyer began. I copied the fresh disc from Rob onto a cassette tape and proceeded to listen to it non-stop over the course of the semester. What set this record apart from former Starflyer releases for me, besides the backward-looking, epic shoegaze rock-a-thon "Too Much Fun," was the definite emergence of very noticeable pop songwriting skills. The Fashion Focus contains some acoustic guitar in the mix, some delicate Rhodes piano, and even harmonica, all interesting changes from the My Bloody Valentine influence of the the first several releases. No doubt Gene Eugene (RIP) as producer helped Starflyer make this move in a more pop-friendly direction (their next two albums encapsulate this progression and are also solid favorites of mine, Everybody Makes Mistakes and Leave Here A Stranger). The pop gems are a plenty here: the undeniable Smiths-like synth of "I Drive A Lot," the haunting slow-burn of "We're the Ordinary," the catchy bounce of "Card Games And Old Friends," and the lounge perfection of the earnest "Fell in Love at 22." My sympathetic favorite, though, comes with the echo-y darkness of "Sundown," which features some of my favorite drumming from Wayne Everett, and was the impetus behind an attempt to make a short autumn film about King College. Now that's a project I wish I had finished.
(Note: When Sarah and I first moved to Durham, I got a belated B-day package in the mail from Rob and Shawna. Inside was my very own Fashion Focus CD. It's always nice to move from tape to CD when one of your favorite records is involved. Thanks guys.)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
I know I'll probably receive some "nerd" flak on this choice, but I don't care. In my opinion, it's the best movie soundtrack of all time. Anyone who disagrees can fight me. Yeah, yeah... I know it's overplayed, and in addition to being a staple at college football games, it's the anthem for those who can not get chicks.
I love John Williams, and no one can deny the power of the dark... er... um... the Imperial March. The music is iconic and will live forever despite George Lucas' efforts to bastardize the films. (Maybe that's why the soundtracks are so good... because Big George has nothing to do with the production - otherwise we'd been listening to Jar Jar crooning a Vegas-style solo. ["Mee, sir, will be here all week, yoou, sir, try the nerf."] Wow that's nerdy, sorry.)
Tracks of Note:
The Imperial March, Battle In The Snow, Star Wars, Han Solo And The Princess
Best When Played:
Imperial March - Right before the in-laws show up for Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
# 23 New Radicals - Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
I'm hesitant to admit this in a quasi-public forum, to say nothing of including it in my Top 25, but I like the only release from New Radicals. There, I said it.
Gregg Alexander is the musical equivalent of former Yankee Kevin Maas. Subbing for Don Mattingly in 1990, Kevin Maas had 16 home runs by the end of August in only 167 at-bats (an insane average for the uninitiated). I view New Radicals similarly, because they (he) had a couple of singable tunes during a particularly meaningful season of life; however, this in no way meant I wanted a sophomore effort. Just at Mattingly's career was overall superior to Maas' brief outburst, my life was no different in a post-New Radicals world than it was prior to discovering Alexander's contrived angst, suburbanized prophecy, or ridiculous grievances against musicians who had hit the Billboard jackpot.
New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" owned the airwaves in college, but now has been assigned the coveted status of background music for NBC's Sunday Night Football highlight package. This little ditty ends with a diss-lite of Courtney Love, Manson, Beck, and Hanson. (Smart move on Alexander's part by not calling out the Wu Tang Clan. By the way, the Wu once beat a journalist unconscious, who had recently slammed their album. The Wu ended the beatdown with calling out "Wu Tang Clan ain't nuthin to f%^k wit." Just for the record, I say if you beat another person and punctuate it with your own catchphrase, you are a bad mamma-jamma, and certainly not someone to f%^k wit.) Alexander clearly read "The Art of War" before recording "Brainwashed" and knew which enemies he could and could not handle.
Back to my sentimental attachment to "Brainwashed": After I broke up with a college girlfriend (and then attempted, unsuccessfully, to reconcile with her), I needed to something to drag me further down into the abyss. Enter New Radicals. Gregg's middle class croonings about his hard-knock life as a non-conformist spoke to me. This guy knew love and loss of biblical proportions, as "Someday We'll Know" brilliantly posits "Someday we'll know why Samson loved Delilah/One day I'll go dancing on the moon/Someday you'll know that I was the one for you."
According to my college roommate I listened to this song EVERY morning for a month followed by the equally depressing "Crying (Like A Church on Monday)," which offers the chorus:
And I'm crying like a church on Monday
Praying for these feelings to go away
So do me a favor baby
Put down your new god
And love me like Sunday again
Wow. I can't believe I just typed that.
When I picture Gregg Alexander laying down tracks, the only thing that comes to mind is John C. Reilly in Boogie Nights encouraging a rocking n' rolling Dirk Diggler. "Hell yeah! That will show those music industry pricks! Take that Hanson!" I still laugh. I still listen. Where have you gone Kevin Maas?
#23 Funeral, The Arcade Fire, Merge, 2004
In the Fall of 2004, I found myself rummaging through stacks of new releases at CD Alley in Chapel Hill. When I came upon a slim, interestingly designed record in the mix the clerk said "I think that's going to be huge this winter." I had read about the Arcade Fire online and had heard some initial good reviews, but budgetary restraints kept me from adding it to my bag that day. A few weeks later, I noticed the record was up on iTunes and decided to give it a listen. I was so struck by the uniqueness and undeniable pull of the sound that the next day I skipped lunch to go get the album. Driving back to Cato from Chapel Hill, the sounds of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" blasting from the stereo, I knew I had found something that would get me through the winter.
Granted, much like Lionel's Bright Eyes fetish, this one comes with some baggage. The acolytes of the Fire are many and they and their belabored obessession are not to be trusted. But, much like many misguided sects, they have an origin in truth: the clear-eyed brilliance of Funeral. If there's one thing Funeral encapsulates, its a clairvoyant, youthful will to truth. "The pains of love, and they keep growin', in my heart there's flowers growin' on the grave of our old love, since you gave me a straight answer," lead singer Win Butler opines in "Crown of Love," which marks the trademark Arcade Fire formula of heavy strings, disco percussion, and group vocals. The urge to find truth in the face of death certainly dominates the record (several family members of multiple band members died during the recording of the album, leading to its title), and this melodramatic impetus certainly has lead to criticisms of mawkishness in the record itself as well as in its followers. But when I hear what might be the best anthem of the double aughts, "Rebellion (Lies)," I can't help but draw comparisons with another classic teenage anthem: "Smells Like Teen Spirit." While Nirvana are heads and shoulders above the Arcade Fire, and far more important to music, the ripple effect of musical imitators and fanatic aesthetes in their wake can certainly be applied to the case of Arcade Fire as well. And, much like Nirvana, this cultural effect can detract from the music. But this detraction, at least for me, is only true when I'm not listening to Funeral. Whenever the pounding beats of "Rebellion (Lies)" or the powerful crescendos of "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" or the familiar swagger of "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" reach my ears, I can't help but love it. Even emotive closer "In the Backseat," with its slightly off-key female lead and piercing strings, speaks the truth of the future: "My family tree's, losing all its leaves." Leave it to the youth of Montreal to tell it like it is. And in danceable form, no less.
The task gets more difficult. I find it hard to write something about this excellent album that isn’t either 1) wide-eyed or 2) trite and tired out. But let me try. What I love about the Milk-Eyed Mender is that has substance enough to make it survive the initial OMG! reaction it usually elicits. As in: Wow, it’s an album built around a solo harp player! Tee hee, did you hear her squeaky singing voice? How sickly-cute, she sings initially cloying lyrics about mollusks, bean sprouts, and dragons (not to mention that the jacket cover has an embroidered unicorn on it)! After hearing that, if you already haven’t rushed out to buy it, I’ll tell you that I wanted to write a review of it without using the phrase “homespun wisdom,” but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Maybe though, the notion of “homespun wisdom” (it has to be in quotes here, sorry) is a good conceit after all. It does, in fact, appear very literally, on “Sadie,” “Stretched on the hoop where I stitched this adage/ ‘Bless our house and its heart so savage.’” This couplet nicely encapsulates why I like this record so much. The phrasing is clever and precious, but at the same time, it hints (or more than hints) that something else, something decidedly not precious, lurks in here.
In fact, “The Milk-Eyed Mender” is filled with aphoristic goodness. One that strikes me as actually profound (and not just “Dooood, Bob Marley’s lyrics are so right on, man” profound) is, “Never get so attached to a poem / you forget truth that lacks lyricism” (“En Gallop”)/ Don’t let me bore you, though, with the idea that Newsom is some kind of fairie-queen philosopher. Most of her lyrics are just fun and compelling (“Advice from the master derailed that disaster/ he said, ‘Hand that pen over to me poetaster!’ / While across the great plains,/ keen lovely and awful,/ ululate the lost Great American Novels”, from “Inflammatory Writ”). Don’t feel embarrassed about using a dictionary, I certainly did. And not to forget the, uh, actual music, which is, to be brief (for once) inventive to my lay ears in both obvious (harp! harpsichord!) and subtler ways. This album may be attention-grabbing for its renaissance fair trappings, but it relies much more on strong songwriting than on gimmickry.
Ugh. I bet that this was as painful to read as it was to write, so I’m going to offer some bonus Warrant-talk. All you clowns who are trying to bring late-period, “Cherry Pie” era Warrant into the conversation are driving me mad. I’m an early Warrant purist. All those other trappings are Dylan-at-Newport, Genesis-after-Peter-Gabriel bullshit. Once they got dollaz and groupies and lost the hunger of having nothing to their name except “32 pennies in a Ragu jar” (actual lyric!), it just went downhill.
I know, I know...being a Bright Eyes fan NOW paints me as a hoodie-wearing, somewhat moody, tattoo considering, 17-26 year old female. Well, to set the record straight, I am by no means a female. Everything else though is much like a shoe, which I shalt wear. I should get a clipper ship tattoo that says...nevermind...here's my review:
Let me explain my relationship with "Fevers and Mirrors." I was rooming with Wes Montgomery my Sophomore year and he was a new music junkie. During that time we were very influential of one another's music, though we didn't always agree.
He introduced me to Pedro the Lion (upcoming post teaser), I introduced him to Karate (upcoming post teaser) and Pavement (we'll see).
I also introduced him to Millencolin (don't repeat that) and he introduced me to the emo stylings of Deep Elm...which is to say, we our brains weren't developed completely yet. Oh, and he never fell for Danielson the way I did.
Anyway, so he would just buy anything that sounded interesting in the reviews section of Muddle magazine or Copper Press. IF, he wasn't into it (which happened a lot), he could return it to Disc Exchange in Knoxville for (I think) free. This was when we were still paying the one guy on campus with a cd burner to make mix cds for our girlfriends, so the stores weren't worried then about people just buying them and returning and returning and returning them. One afternoon, while riding up to return the cd with the young kid who's voice was ridiculously "off key" and "put on" I started reading the lyrics out loud, and we both fell for it. Later, we would see one of the top 4 shows of my entire life at the now closed Metro Cafe in DC when Wes was up for a visit. Connor and his homeboys played to a group of 7 or 8 of us that were there for him, and about 25 that were just there to drink. I was wearing a coat of my dad's that I'd found in the attic that smelled like him (I wore it even though it was too small for me).
Even when Fevers and Mirrors came out it was still hard to convince friends outside of our Art department to like it. They couldn't get past his voice.
All that to say, these albums are ridiculous pop genius...and though I know that's very unhip to say at this moment, I shall. Don't tell pitchfork. Oh, and he was like 9 when he released Letting off the happiness. Insane.
i was apprehensive, to say the least. it's true to say that the song-spinner behind this punk-rock-gum-drop outfit is some sort of super genius. but is he from this planet? in recent years, i'd felt as if the songs and albums he was releasing had become a shell. a ghost of his reputation for carefully crafting beats, blips, buzzes, and words of days gone by.
but i made my purchase anyway.
the third installment of the legacy series, this album returned to a darker, more brooding sense of rhythm, and the lyrics are honest, razor-sharp, and all-but-void of the fairy-tale cheese of yesteryear.
"Disloyalist. Misery ever after, misery ever after"
please understand, i love the fairy-tale cheese of yesteryear. but it should be noted that this album is filled of more things than nostalgia. i can't justify some of the previous works making this list. i love them, but even with their ability to transport me back to my high-school years, i dont think most of the catalog has withstood my evolving musical taste: rob, 5 stars for failure AND old wives tales almost made it. seriously. were we doing our top 50 favorite albums, they certainly would have.
but this record did something to me. i could feel it. from it's intro track ("Hello Mannequin. I’m angry. Hello Mannequin. I’m scared. Hello Mannequin. Will you be my friend?") i knew this was not going to be an empty contract-filler.
into my cd player it went on a chilly summer night, as i drove into the outskirts of staunton, virginia en route to my girlfriends house. we had made plans to watch a movie. but i couldnt bring myself to get out of my car until this record ended on its final chirp. needless to say, i had a lot of explaining to do (if youre in a band, and youre home from tour, you BEST be seeing your girlfriend/boyfriend every second you can) and she had to field more "who is that guy? why is he going in that building?" questions about the movie than i'm sure she felt like answering.
this record challenged me. it made me look harder at my own synth playing. the crutches i had begun to fall back on. it showed me what a synth solo really is. and how to craft a song out of 3 or 4 sounds, rather than an army of synth. please, bask with me in the almost TOO-catchy glory that fills the next spot on my list:
JOY ELECTRIC-Hello, Mannequin
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2004
LABEL: Tooth & Nail Records
It's amazing, sometimes. the idea of being related to someone. the idea that you share so much of your genetic make-up as another person. according to sciene, youre practically the same person, but despite looking alike and having a similar voice on the phone or the same stupid cowlick in the front of your hair, you can't seem to stop kicking him in the back of your parents' white station wagon because he just wont stop making that freakin obnoxious sound.
i love my brother. i really do. i just find it incredible that we have so little in common. especially when it comes to musical taste. correction...especially when it CAME to musical taste. i dont know what year it was. i just remember that i was in my first two years in college. i was in my "everything has to be a wall of sound and NOT on commercial radio" music phase, and harrison was in his "if the vocalist doesnt sound like he's birthing a dump truck through his throat, i dont wanna listen to it" phase. needless to say we didnt see eye-to-eye about music. but he came running into the room one night. he was expanding his musical vocabulary; i could see it in his eyes. we sat in my car and listened to every track of this record. its amazing. so many genre's blending. the melding of rock, jazz, techno, punk, post-punk, pre-punk and everything in between. i was amazed. i was bewildered. i was blown away.
it should also be mentioned that if you havent heard this record in 5.1 surround, which few GOOD records have been RE-mixed in, you should check it out.
" It's coming through the air | For all of us to hear | Could it be the sounds of liberation | Or just the image of detention?
We want the airwaves back | We want the airwaves back | We don't just want airtime | We want all the time all of the time"
REFUSED-The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombation In 12 Bursts
RELEASE DATE: October 27, 1998
LABEL: Burning Heart
Full Moon Fever
So were we suppose to introduce ourselves? Sorry. I'm Joshua Hathaway. I'm a senior designer at a small interactive agency in Johnson City, TN.
This is my favorite of the Petty albums. I can pretty much listen to and enjoy every song with the exception of Zombie Zoo, which I can't stand for some reason. I have nothing else incredibly deep or intelligent to say, just that I like it. (and, oh yeah, I labor under the believe that Tom Petty and Bob Dylan are the same person.)
Tracks of Note:
Yer So Bad, I Won't Back Down, Running Down A Dream, The Apartment Song, Free Fallin'
Best When Played:
Two words. Road. Trip.
# 24 Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
Apologies for not introducing myself yesterday: Justin here. I live/work in Jackson, TN (hour north of Memphis) at a Southern Baptist school with college students, so be on the look out for Ray Boltz at #'s 18 - 15. But for now...
If "Liscense to Ill" was one big Natty Lite kegger, then "Paul's Boutique" was like the Federalis busting up the party...and then passing out the imported stuff. While I'll always have fond memories of "Liscense" - (I got in trouble on the way to church in 3rd grade for singing along to "Fight for your Right." I believe I shouted, "your mom threw away your best porno mag." I cried when told what a porno mag was, immediately repented, and redicated my life that morning for the 9th time.) - "Paul's Boutique" belongs in a hip hop time capsule. "Paul's Boutique" came out right before sampling became mega-expensive. The samples alone on this album could probably fill a Top 25 list, but it's the attention to detail that made this album great for me. My personal favorite is the gun cocking over and over in "High Plains Drifter."
Favorite line: From "Hey Ladies" - She's got a gold tooth you know she's hardcore/
She'll show you a good time then she'll show you the door/Break up with your girl it ended in tears/Vincent Van Gogh and mail that ear
"B-Boy Bouillabaisse" gives us a glimpse into the instrumental experimentation that was soon to come on "Check Your Head" and "Ill Communication"
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
i was done. i was finished. i hate music. "fuck it," i said to myself, holding back tears after loading my synth and my amps for the final sad lives of the hollywood lovers show. "fuck it"
i didnt listen to music that night, on the long car ride home. or the next night. i didnt even listen to note one when i drove to or from new york. alone. "i'll throw myself back into film." the days and weeks that followed were hard ones. a band break up is a lot like breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, but without the possibility of make-up sex. it's just bitter. and hard. and you have to re-find yourself.
i spent the long, sleepless nights watching movies. i'd buy as many as were worth watching from the 5-for-$11 bin at walmart, til i ran out and would go back to re-stock. but i was done with music. fuck it.
one night, i cant explain it...i just walked past the now-emptying bin, straight for the music. before i realized what i had done, i was sitting in the parking lot of walmart at 4:30am with his face staring back at me. "okay, fine. i'll just listen to it. i payed for the thing. might was well." i sat in the walmart parking lot and finished the whole thing. this album reminds me of my family, my loves, myself. i only wish i could thank him for his words beyond the grave that have helped me not hate music. thank you john.
JOHNNY CASH-American V: A Hundred Highways
rel. date: July 4, 2006
Label: Lost Highway
my brother went to four of their shows. he followed them city to city to city, hounding the band members because he KNEW they had the limited pressing of their previous ep on vinyl and he wanted to get it for me for christmas because he thought i MIGHT like it. i did. a lot. i dont know what to say about this. i cant sum it up. i cant even wrap my head around the honesty and truth in the words of this. so i'll just post it and hope that someone else knows what i mean.
THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES-Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home
rel. date: September 21, 2004
Label: Jade Tree
After graduating from Duke in 2003, the summer was not kind to me. Unable to find any other job than Cato Research, I found myself as a postmodern Roy Rogers, “back in the cubicle again.” Though I could discuss Levinas’ ethics or debate the finer points of religious phenomenology, I was faced with long afternoons of data entry, phone answering, and fighting with the fax machine. Oh, and depression. But at least I had my own office, so I often took breaks (like the entire afternoon) to explore the world of music online. And that’s how I came across the beautiful, haunting, and bearded folk of Sam Beam. The same afternoon I read about Iron & Wine and heard some tracks, I took an afternoon errand break to ditch Cato and head over to CD Alley in
But it wasn’t until 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days that I realized Beam was beyond the real deal – he had tapped into something utterly transcendent. Days is, over the course of 12 tracks, a homily on death. “Naked As We Came” engages the fear of widowhood (“One of us will die inside these arms/eyes wide open/naked as we came/one will spread our ashes around the yard”). “Teeth in the Grass” turns the passion of young love into a prophecy for future passing: “When all tomorrow’s are gone there will be teeth in the grass.” On “Each Coming Night,” Beam creates a whispery sing-a-long so simple in its beauty that its poetry almost passes you by: “Will you say to me when I’m gone/your face has faded but lingers on/because light strikes a deal/with each coming night.” From the muted acoustic expectancy of “On Your Wings” all the way to the unbelievably profound “Passing Afternoon,” Beam channels the muse in a manner that is stupefying with each repeated listen. His earnest, soothing voice helped both Sarah and I cope with the death of a family friend in the spring of 2004, and that’s another reason this record is momentous for me. It seems that if you let a man grow a beard, profound things are bound to happen.
#23 - Adore (Smashing Pumpkins) - 1998
While I wouldn’t hesitate to bet
Best Song: Ava Adore
#24, Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming, 1979
I guess I am the first to introduce a Dylan album. This often-overlooked gem contains some very powerful, sharp, and inspirational tunes that seem to come whispering in your ear when you are trying to make sense of things.
There are many great songs on this album, but the two that stand out to me are "I Believe in You" and "When He Returns." Some of my favorite lyrics are- "As I, I walk out on my own, a thousand miles from home, I know that I'm not alone, cause I believe in you" and "The iron hand it ain't no match for the iron rod, The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God... like a thief in the night, He'll replace wrong with right, when He returns." (both sung in typical Dylan fashion).
This album is a couple of mediocre songs away from landing in my top ten. (namely "Man Gave Names to all the Animals" and "Do Right to me Baby"- Dylan's exposé on the golden rule, which reminds me too much of a song by Psalty the Songbook used by my mom to encourage my brother and I not to fight in the car.)
#23: F#A#oo - Godspeed You! Black Emperor (1997)
The opening words that would haunt, inspire, and speak of an immediate apocalypse in my life in early 2002. Buildings toppling in on themselves, mothers clutching babies? What? All I knew as I stared out my 20ft. window in Durham was that there was and is something beautiful here. Urgency! This 10-piece 'band', 'orchestra', collective full of anarchists from Canada knows they won't change the world, nor will we, but gets us off of our couches with thundering cataclismic climaxes perhaps asking us to make things better with our time.
My cousin (Hunter/Captain Ultra) introduced me to these guys in the back seat of his ride- hee, hee. Back in Durham I walked down the street to the most kickass record store in this galaxy and found that he had all 3 GYBE albums on vinyl. Well, I started here with the first one. Inside I found a crushed penny from the train tracks outside the 'bands'' studio in Montreal. Also, and as would be the case with all 3 subsequent releases, desperate sketches; this time of a Low/Godspeed flier with a sinking bomb with "Repent" on the side and also a schematic for a ruined tape machine that somehow lays out a manifesto/diagrammnig fear, self-doubt, lack of money/confidence, regret, desire, and hope. Huh?
No song titles on the record. Just two sides of trains rumbling by, looped street preachers, radio hiss, and of course strings/drums/slide anthems. Oh yeah, and some more glockenspiel-im gonna try and have 1 release a day that features the instrument. I don't know of a more influential album on the whole 'post-rock' movement. Those of us who attended their 2003 show around the time of our Invasion,........
".....for sure as the Valley of Death, I opened up my wallet, and it was full of blood"
#22: Handwriting - Khonnor (2004)
It's what you get when you combine a 17 year-old from Vermont armed with cheap equipment with a fan of Jim O'Rourke, My Bloody Valentine, and the Pixies. What Connor Kirby-Long got out of his accoustic, synth, and $10 mic led me to believe that I could make music with what was right next to me. And that's what I did. 2 months after Efrim was born I found this album and it became my 'summer' album. Every morning when he took a nap, I took a trip with these mini-epic songs. Not a lot of cynicism here, just the thoughts of an aged adolescent and some serious skill with the use of space. Anyway, I ended up packing up a crate of cables, pedals, and kids instruments and taking it to PA later that summer to play around with. 3 songs did happen.
There is so much haze goodness on this album. Daylight and Delight is my fav.
I know this is off topic, but I thought you all might like this Swedish version of "You were always on my mind." Though, this song isn't half as good as "Hurtin' all the way with you joanna" (a classic with Rachel and I), it's still gold.
Scriven by the argyle academy at 8:05 AM
How is it possible that one album made such an impact on the life of Mike Lowery? This should be in my top FIVE, however I won't remember to post it in a few weeks, so here's a rundown of my experience with this album:
a) first REAL cd I bought (first actual cd was sound effects, second cd? Weird Al. blush.) The album was released in 93, when I was in 8th grade and I remember listening to it while laying on my bed reading a Grendel comic. I had a huge crush on some girl who's name I now don't remember, but she was Asian.
b. In October of 19 and 97, more than NINE years ago (this was just after Recovering the Satellites had been released), Rachel (my wife) and I went to see Counting Crows at Nissan pavilion here in the DC area. A few months later we were dating. She and I had both loved Counting Crows (a love that I kept hidden during my college years whilest listening to punk and then experimental stuff and then folk and then and then and then) and though I don't think this album actually HELPED get us together, it sure was a part of our early relationship.
c) I can't tell you how many times folks told me I sounded somewhat Duritzy in my early bands. Perhaps we both have a slightly East Coast/MD accent? Isn't that possible?
d) I love pineapple. Adam Duritz looks somewhat like a pineapple. Fate?
Sure it's corny emote music these days, but was it possible to not love this back in the early 90's? Wait, I think I still love it.
#24 - This Beautiful Mess (Sixpence None The Richer)
There are few albums that come together with such artistic vision as this one. Every detail, from the album artwork, to the introspective lyrics, to the way Leigh’s voice lingers perfectly with the band’s music, melds into, well, a very beautiful picture of the less-than-always-beautiful human heart. I still think this disc was heads and shoulders ahead of what everyone was doing (or thinking) in 1995. The lyrics alone tackle things the industry was scared to admit and terrified to produce. Lots of sentimental value here, reminding me of slight high school rebellion, broken hearts, and divorce. The message is pretty clear: true Christianity doesn’t require a “Christian” college education, courtship, or curfews. It does require love, salvation, and the fear of death, however…
Best Song: Within A Room Somewhere
Monday, November 27, 2006
#25, Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973
Jason Courter here, a high school science teacher from Blacksburg, Virginia...
Refreshingly unique. Each song on this album is original and markedly different than your typical classic rock tune, yet the album has a very nice flow to it. My favorites tunes on the album are "Money" and "Eclipse." The mysterious correlation between it and the "Wizard of Oz" also adds hype. I have never taken any mind-altering substances (nor do I really plan to), but if I did, it only seems appropriate that this album would be playing in the background.
#25 We Have the Facts And We're Voting Yes, Death Cab for Cutie, Barsuk, 2000
I have to thank Sean B for this one. Early on in our first semester at Duke, we decided to music swap - I lent him Pedro the Lion's Winners Never Quit in return for a chance to listen to an oddly named band that Sean was stoked on. While Sean's earlier post may make you think he loaned me Def Leopard's Hysteria, in actuality it was Death Cab. From the moment the distant guitar and percussion on "Title Track" kick into a bigger pop presence with the lyrics "I tried my best to keep my distance from your dress, but call-response overturns conviction every time," I was hooked. The record as a whole seemed so lyrically astute even in the face of its subject matter: party make-outs ("Title Track"), wedding crashing ("Company Calls Epilogue"), and alcoholic summers ("405"). Musically, it is still probably Death Cab's most subdued, save maybe for "Company Calls," which features group yells of "Set! your Sights!" over a blistering indie hook. But there's something to the fact that it is so relaxed in the face of Death Cab's subsequent pop rock ascendancy that makes We Have the Facts so appealing. That, and the fact that every time I hear Ben Gibbard's "Lowell, MA"command "Don't go holding out on me now" it makes me remember Sarah and I's first year in Durham, riding down 9th street in our Sentra listening to a cassette with We Have the Facts on Side A and Pedro the Lion's It's Hard to Find A Friend on Side B. Needless to say, we wore the tape out.
Well, it begins. Pleased to meet you all. If you don’t know me, I’m Sean Burt, I live in Durham, NC, and you can think of me as the Guy Who Put Warrant In His Top 25. How did this happen? A story: the other night I decided to fix a little problem. My account on lala.com was frustratingly stagnant. I was owed 6 CDs, but for almost 3 weeks nothing from my rocksnob-heavy “want” list was forthcoming. So I sat back, cracked a few beers and began the brainstorming. Surprisingly, after each drink, the notion of listening to some good old fashioned hair metal started to sound like a better and better idea. “What if I could find that diamond in the rough – the classic hair metal album?” I thought. With the impossible dream in mind, I started to do my research – snippets on itunes, allmusic reviews, unhinged yet compelling raves on I Love Music. I narrowed it down to 5 possibilities, and -zap- added them to my “want” list. I considered that I would maybe get one or two of them, figuring, you know, that whoever has this stuff by now must really want it and would be unlikely to give it away. I closed the laptop and stepped away from the desk. A half hour later, I came back to the computer, only to be greeted with 5 cds on the way! Oh, the buyer’s remorse. Though I learned my lesson about drinking while buying music the hard way, at this point, I had no choice but to toughen up and listen to them.
I should note here that I loved me some hair metal from 6th-9th grade, so the nostalgia factor creeps in here, and perhaps there is some pro-hair metal tokenism going on with the appearance of this album in my Top 25. And the tokenism goes as follows: so the main defender of this genre is Chuck Klosterman, whose argument was (paraphrased), “well, we liked it, so it must have been important on some level, even if I don’t know what.” That’s way too wishy-washy for my tastes. Hair metal, my friends, was good/great when (and only when) it was power pop gold, the New Pornographers with leather pants, poofy bangs, and Satan. As an example, check out “Cold Blood” by Kix. Trust me: pop explosion.
But, on to Warrant, which is the pick of my litter. I owned and loved this cassette way back when, and it’s still good. The first 4 tracks of DRFSR could be a five-star bitchin’ hair metal EP (can you imagine such a thing as a hair metal EP? And if so, can you imagine any adjective to describe it other than bitchin’?) and it doesn’t even include either the Monster BalladTM “Heaven,” or “In the Sticks,” a moving paean to doin’ it in a barn. Plus, they manage to avoid putting on any unlistenable tracks, which is scientifically documented as unprecidented in hair metal (see R. McCoy, G. Incognito, and M. Power in Science 125 (1994): 535-536). The 3rd track, “Big Talk” is the true pop gem, even better than the undeniable “Down Boys.” Also, auxillary monster ballad “Sometimes She Cries” holds up way way way better than I thought it would, and in fact I can totally imagine it being rocked boy-band/AmIdol style by ‘NSYNC or Party Posse or whatever (and this is unequivocally a compliment, by the way).
If you are still with me, here’s another tokenism update. Among my lala bounty included a copy of Def Leppard’s Hysteria, which is to be honest probably better than DRFSR. So, if you want to be technical about it maybe Hysteria is my real #25. But I don’t feel like Def Leppard really is hair metal. What it comes down to is that it’s now obvious that Def Lep knew all along who T. Rex and Roxy Music were, and that just seems unfair.
# 25: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme - Simon and Garfunkel (1966)
An album 40 years old, yet still so full of hope, exuburance, and pop culture commentary. This one has the entire back side of the sleeve full of dissection/praise for the genius it is. If we could all have someone who adores our compositions pimp us like that. The shimmering "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" is the song which of course brings the album's title to life and is probably the best known. My favorite is the cheery/glockenspiel laden "Cloudy". They employed irony at certain turns as well towards the political/folk situation of the times in "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)". Today we could change this title to maybe "...Karl Rove'd Into Submission. The "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night" would have to be altered a little too to "5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 10, 11 O'Clock News". I can't help but feeling joy in hearing "The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)".
# 24: s/t - Shalabi Effect (2000)
I believe this is the second release from Alien 8 Recordings to make the list today...Over 2 hours of spacey, psych, middle eastern influenced drone from Canada. This album is a drug. Like many of my favorites it requires patience and the right mood. Just don't try to dance to to it, well, Shawna does and can. Two of my favorites Mokoondi, On the Bowery (the only vocal track) are each 13 min. in length and take me somewhere. On the 1st disc, opening track "Wyoming", we get to hear the alphabet recited at about the 9 min. mark underneath the drone. Also included-oud, tabla, and scraped metal.
Though PE's "It Takes a Nation of Millions" or "Fear of a Black Planet" gets all the pub, "Apocalypse 91" brings rhymes that are still relevant today. "Can't Truss It" deals with the shadiness of 'da man' and has a great grimy video set in pre-Emancipation South...complete with slave girl giving birth to the slave master's white son. Classic PE imagery.
"Shut Em' Down" gives Chuck D yet another chance to talk about black empowerment in the hood. "By the Time I get to Arizona" was the closest thing I heard to a sermon on race throughout high school. Plus, "91" brings the noise with Anthrax, which is still a favorite headbanger.
Best time to listen? When you're an impressionable 8th grader!!!
Okay, I know this will make some of you all scratch your heads, but this is my #25. I should make it clear at this point that I don't intend on ranking my top #25 in order. My list will just be a top selection that I will then post at random. There's no way I could choose a NUMBER ONE album, since my feelings about an album change daily.
Judgement Night Soundtrack
Combining the best of the rock/metal world with the best of the rap world is like casting Emilio Estevez and Cuba Gooding Jr. for an action movie... except it doesn't suck.
Tracks of Note:
Just Another Victim, I Love You Mary Jane, Judgment Night
Best When Played:
When you're mad at the man.
#25 - 88 (Seventy Sevens)
You won’t find this album anywhere near Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All-Time, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be aired out every now and then. Never heard of the Seventy Sevens? Fans of good ol’ blues rock might find another gem here, as this album is easily the highlight of the band’s long career. The second side of this live album carries more passion than a McFly all-nighter at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. Top tracks include Closer, I Could Laugh, Where It's At, Over Under Sideways Down.
Best Song: You Don’t Scare Me
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
okay, seriously, is everyone really going to let Forbes get away with posting video links for not one, not two, but SIX girl-fronted Swede-pop bands without any mocking comments whatsoever? Can I get a position with Cato Research ASAP, please?
Scriven by ATrain at 10:31 AM
To deprive "Thriller" from any top 25 album discussion because of Jacko's recent "insanity," would be like keeping Pete Rose out of the hall of frame for betting on baseball. Although it didn't quite make my top 25, no one can deny that it was a groundbreaking album. If you can listen to the whole thing without moving any part of your body,... you're a corpse... nay, unamerican.
Tracks of Note:
Billie Jean, Beat It, Thriller
Best When Played:
When no one is watching.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Just a friendly reminder that our reverse countdowns of our Top 25 records of all time are set to begin in one week on Monday, August 27th. Spin your discs, drop the needle, and sweat through jacket covers and booklets over these next seven days to finalize your list. I know I will...
Oh, and in honor of it being one week, I thought I'd provide a sneak peek at my #5 record of all time, BNL's late Clinton-era classic Stunt.
This is, of course, a joke. Stunt is my #1.
Scriven by Urbane Master at 5:09 PM
There's just something about girl-fronted Swedish rock that is irresistible. For your viewing and listening enjoyment, here are six videos from this year produced by Swedish girlie bands. Now, will any of them make your list.....? Any favorites?
The Sounds, "Painted By Numbers," Dying To Say This To You
The Concretes, "Chosen One," In Colour
Hello Saferide, "The Quiz," Would You Let Me Play This EP Ten Times A Day? EP
The Cardigans, "I Need Some Fine Wine (And You, You Need To Be Nicer)," Super Extra Gravity
Frida Hyvonen, "The Modern," Until Death Comes
Love Is All, "Make Out, Fall Out, Make Up," Nine Times That Same Song
Scriven by Big Cougar at 8:20 AM
Saturday, November 18, 2006
There's a new female fronted electro-trash heroine on the horizon: The Blow's Khaela Maricich. Portland once again proves it's the new Brooklyn with The Blow's Paper Television, a poppy, less offensive version of Peaches' best dance hits. Parentheses may be a sleeper hit on my Top 50 songs of this year: it's like a digitized take on Motown doo-wop. There's no way this track won't bring a smile to your face.
Scriven by Big Cougar at 2:42 PM
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Alright, here is my first initial list of songs for my Top 25 of all time:
#25: The Story - The Angel in the House
#24: Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
Both of these records made me excited about music at different times in my life. Saturday Night Fever was the album I played drums to, non-stop up until my first drum teacher died. I had learned a disco drum beat and would play it incessantly on my drum set. After my first drum teacher died, I found it difficult to play along with this record. Not sure why.
The Story excited me, not only for the songs that were melancholy/ singer-songwriter-ish, but for their stellar arrangements and musicianship, not to mention their vocal harmonies. Especially their song: Fatso, Pt. 2: Yo Estoy Bien Asi which was the spanish version of their song "Fatso" about the travails of being a woman and losing weight. Brilliant writing in my book, and I loved the salsa rhythms of the spanish version of the song.
Scriven by Dale Baker at 2:11 PM
Monday, November 13, 2006
Here's a link to a track I'm digging currently: Oxford Collapse's "Please Support Your National Parks." While it may seem annoying with an initial listen, just imagine you're at a kegger with a plastic cup of warm brew and somebody just threw this single on and it'll start to grow on you. I'm doing a review of the record this track is on, Remember the Night Parties, for Thirsty Magazine's December issue so I've been giving it several spins over the last week or two. In total, a nice ode to late '90s college rock. And they get major major props for featuring a blow-up pool Noid on the record cover.
Scriven by Big Cougar at 9:11 PM
It's the first part of the video that relates to music. But I must say that his use of Abba's music in his previous show "Knowing Me, Knowing You" was brilliant. "There's more to Ireland den dis..."
Pardon the laugh track.
via You Tube:
Scriven by Dale Baker at 4:51 PM