Discussion in 'Community' started by Rogue1-and-a-half, Oct 7, 2014.
This album totally destroys Bathory's debut.
I was listening to that the other day. One of those albums I always seem to come back to.
I go through phases where I listen to this album on repeat cycles to the point that I swear i'm done with it. 12-18 months later, i'm obsessed again.
One of the most underrated bands of the 1970s.
DAMN. (2017) – Kendrick Lamar
DAMN probably isn’t the album you expect it to be or, at least, it wasn’t the album I was expecting. It’s a more focused, kind of stripped down album in a lot of ways, at least toward the beginning. Throughout the first four or five songs, I kept thinking that this felt like a pretty standard, unremarkable rap album. I was aware that the album was improving as it went along, something albums rarely do anymore. Most of them, it seems, want to start with a bang and then peter out. It was surprising to me that Lamar released a version of the album that was inverted, ie. it was in reverse order to the original album since, listening to the original version, I thought it was one of the best sequenced albums in recent memory. Regardless, repeated listens revealed riches even in that first third I’d originally been unimpressed by. It’s still true that the last half of the album is superior to the first half, but that first half is impressive in its own right. Lamar has really crafted a deeply effective album that is raw, intense and dark. The specter of damnation really hangs over the album, whether Lamar is discussing the fate of his own nature in DNA or the legitimate curse of God in Fear. There’s not much in the way of respite once this album kicks off, fittingly with the sound of a gunshot. It’s very grim, very serious and, while there is still posturing found here, the mood is mostly one of uncertainty and dread. The stripped down sound gives some tracks a seriously claustrophobic feeling and the album kind of crackles with an intense heat. There are a couple of missteps; the woe begotten Lust is probably the worst track on the record. But it’s more than balanced by the tracks that rise above the very good to become genuinely great; Humble, Loyalty, DNA, Feel. But it’s those final four tracks that really just cohere into something truly grand and epic. This album is very thematic, from start to finish, but those final four songs really coalesce everything the album has been about, particularly the dazzling Fear, the foreboding, doom-laden heart of the album. But after all the darkness, perhaps Lamar’s most daring move is in finding a moment of hope near the end. We may be living under a curse, Lamar seems to say, but with the brilliant Duckworth, he muses on the way a single choice to eschew violence has resonated down the generations of his own family. There may or may not be a way out of the cursed cycle of violence that Lamar spends most of this album musing on; but with every righteous choice we make, we reveal surprising riches. It’s testament to Lamar’s skills that this ending doesn’t feel cheap; it feels earned and hard-won. Right decisions aren’t easy, particularly in the world we live in, but maybe they’re all we have. This album ends up being a profound artistic statement and Lamar further cements himself as a true visionary in his field. And that final sentiment feels absolutely right somehow; things get bad, but as long as we have artists like Lamar making art this powerful and moving, there’s still hope. 4 stars.
tl;dr – dark, claustrophobic album boasts thematic depth, emotional evocativeness and ends up making a profound artistic statement; a true masterpiece from a true master. 4 stars.
I kind of forgot about Primus until being reminded about them the other day by something from Mastodon saying that they were touring together this summer. I had just a couple of their CDs in high school and college, but liked them quite a bit despite how weird some of the songs were. So I found this greatest hits compilation on iTunes, and it's really good... they're an acquired taste for sure, but they are really good instrumentalists and they play together very well (very tight, good timing, etc.). Some of the songs on here I knew from the CDs I had before (and I was reminded how good some of those are), and some of them were new to me. They're together again now and have a new album that this upcoming tour is supporting, but I haven't heard that yet.
I went through a little Primus phase last year, mostly listening to Pork Soda.
Super fun read for Pumpkins fans:
Listening to Django Reinhardt the last few days.
Melodrama (2017) – Lorde
These are what they call hard feelings
I’ll admit that I had some trepidation as the years rolled on after Lorde’s wonderful debut, Pure Heroine, and that second album just kept getting pushed back. But I needn’t have worried. No sophomore slump here. In fact, Lorde has topped her debut with an effort that is at once more intimate and more expansive. The song writing here is even sharper than on her debut, the soundscapes even stranger and more immersive. And it’s a more varied album as well in terms of the sounds she & co-writer/producer Jack Antonoff conjure up. This is an album to be blasted on your best speakers and an album to be listened to on your best headphones. There are moments that are as purely epic & transcendent as any anthems this side of Springsteen, as on the dazzlingly written, absolutely brilliant Supercut. But there are also moments of incredibly quiet introspection, like the piano-based, haunted Liability. But, honestly, there’s not a song on this album that isn’t as near-perfect as songs get. Lorde’s vocal performance is even better here than on her debut, more wide-ranging and intriguing to match the way the songs and production are. On the verse of Writer in the Dark, she sounds like nothing so much as David Bowie and it’s delivery and melody working together. The double track Hard Feelings/Loveless is deliriously strange, particularly in the closing minute or two in which she takes her voice to places it’s never been before. This album is a true masterpiece, transporting, immersive and surrounding in all the right ways. The beautiful songwriting and beautiful production go hand in hand to support Lorde’s brilliant vocal performance and the result is one of the very finest albums of the year, if not of the past few. Everything coalesces on that final song, Perfect Places, which is wrapped in sparkling diamonds of sound, when Lorde sings a line to remind you of something you have probably forgotten. “I’m nineteen,” she says and the mind boggles again at the depth of brilliance from this incredibly young woman. The good thing is that this hopefully means we have decades of Lorde’s music ahead of us. Personally I can’t wait. Because she gets her age right, of course, but she’s also right in the second half of that jaw-dropping line: “And I’m on fire.” 4 stars.
tl;dr – breathtaking second album ups the ante on Lorde’s brilliant debut; amazing songwriting, brilliant vocal performance and beautiful production create an awe-inspiring masterpiece. 4 stars.
24K Magic (2016) – Bruno Mars
With this album, Mars continues a streak of doing what he does best which is show up, lay down some great party music and then breeze out the door, looking good the whole time. This good-time album is nine tracks and only a hair over thirty minutes which makes for a fast-paced, leave you wanting more experience. I really like that short length, not because the music isn’t good, but because it’s right in keeping with the sweet tone of the album as a whole. This isn’t a serious album in the way that a lot of other albums that came up at the Grammies; it isn’t interested in creating connections or themes in order to make the album compelling as a single work of art. It’s just here to collect a few bitchin’ songs and it excels. The production values here are absolute pristine, creating a bed of synths, bass-lines, funky drums in order to really emphasize Mars’ voice. The album is pretty great from start to finish, if you ignore the lyrics. Mars has always been about a sound and a groove and he really captures the emotions of fast paced party tunes, like the title track or Straight Up, and slower ballads, like the beautiful Versace on the Floor and the album closer Too Good to Say Goodbye. You have to give the lyrics a pass. Try to appreciate the excellence of Mars’ voice without really honing in on what he’s saying. “I’m a dangerous man with money in my pocket,” he croons at one point, “All these pretty girls around are waking up my rocket.” Another song starts with a real headscratcher: “It’s my birthday/No, it’s not.” Kinda feels like there was no reason for that little couplet to exist at all. But, again, Mars isn’t about the lyrics; he’s about a kind of James Brown/Prince/Michael Jackson pastiche and, while a lot of his stuff is just an imitation, it’s a darn great imitation and this album lets the good-times roll with so much verve that resistance is futile. 4 stars.
tl;dr – Mars keeps delivering a pastiche of greater artists, but he does it with such verve, you can’t help but dance; a fantastic party album with a good time guaranteed. 4 stars.
Greatest Hits (2001) – Mariah Carey
So, yeah, I know, make your jokes. I have no defense for listening through a two-disc set of the warblings of one of the definitive melismatic divas of our time. What I will say is that it isn’t exactly terrible music; it’s more just numbing or like being smothered by marshmallows. There’s little offensive song to song, but they just all sound exactly the same, by which I mean, really dull and musically uninteresting and Carey prizes vocal acrobatics above emotional evocativeness. There are a few tracks here that I actually like. Hero has a great melody and she actually sings the melody a lot of the time instead of whirling about all around it as she does on a lot of these songs. Her version of Without You is actually pretty top; she sings a significant portion of the song very quietly and in what has to be the lowest part of her register which is interesting to hear. And Emotions is a kind of forgettable track, but the main hook of the song features her really working that whistle register and it’s like watching a high wire act every time you hear the song. It’s genuinely kind of breathtaking to hear her actually sing a series of notes as a hook in the whistle register; she usually saves it for the last note of a song or whatever, but she does a great little stairstep hook in Emotions that is pretty fantastic. So, we’re talking about maybe four to five good songs on a double disc that has over thirty songs on it. And, you know what, I even kind of like her holiday standby All I Want for Christmas, so of course they don’t include it; instead we get a “remix” featuring Lil Bow Wow & Jermaine Dupri. That goes about as well as you’d expect and it’s the last track on the record, so at least it sends you out with a sour taste in your mouth to cut all the bland sugary fluff that’s been shoveled down your throat over the last two and a half hours. I mean, not my thing. 1 star.
tl;dr – uninteresting, bland music meets over the top diva belting; a meaningless goop that, except for a few songs here and there, makes you feel like you’re drowning in marshmallows. 1 star.
@Rogue1-and-a-half Come on, you lost a bet. Surely.
I know, Bruno mars, jaysus
A Collision (2005) – David Crowder
In 2005, iconoclastic worship musician David Crowder dropped a boulder into the still pond of contemporary Christian music with this 72 minute masterwork. This album is certainly the strangest, most challenging album to ever be filed under Worship at your local Christian retailer. Crowder puts his own anthemic originals up against rootsy covers of old hymns; smashes ambient instrumentals up against spoken word tracks; goes menacing minor key and peppy pop; does the blues, classical and country. In the final track we hear snippets of a phone interview with Crowder in which he comes close to articulating the idea behind the album; in classic Crowder fashion, the vocals are buried behind static and a classical recording and kind of obtuse. But he seems to be dancing around the idea that when we see God as mind-bendingly great as he is, we’ll understand that we have to use EVERYTHING at our disposal to worship Him. We don’t have the option of limiting ourselves to only certain genres or only new music or only songs of one type or another; we’re already doomed to failure when we try to capture God Himself in music, but the best effort we can make has to include everything, thrown together in that titular collision. That’s really perfectly exemplified by this album. There’ll be a straight choral rendition of an old spiritual like Soon I’ll Be Done with the Troubles of the World that goes for 45 seconds and then just crashes into the bluesy, minor key stomp of Hope Rising or Be Lifted; Hope Rising or Be Lifted is, as the title indicates, itself a mash-up which devolves from electric blues to frenzied banjo driven bluegrass at the half point. In Our Happy Home, Crowder does a faithful, haunting reading of the ancient hymn Jerusalem Our Happy Home as a kind of electronic mess. He covers Hank Williams & Sufjan Stevens. He quotes the melody of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Lark Ascending repeatedly. He goes from a peppy worship anthem in the traditional CCM style to a quiet violin instrumental. He’s sorrowful, exuberant, awe-struck and blown away. And, by the time the album wraps, so are we. The worship community, I think, felt the sting of the rebuke rather than embracing the joy of the experience; even the traditional worship songs Crowder did here like Foreverandever or Here is Our King failed to become standards in the way a lot of his other previous songs had. One rarely hears A Collision mentioned anymore; it was a true critical darling when it came out, but it never made a big dent with the public. As in a lot of music genres, people in the worship genre want to hear the same safe things over and over; Crowder had no interest in giving them that and he remains one of the truest artists to come out of the genre, perhaps the only one that can really resonate with secular listeners. This album is his masterpiece; there’s not a weak track on it. Time hasn’t dulled it in either shine or sharpness – it still dazzles and it still cuts. 4 stars.
tl;dr – astonishing, bracing album crashes genres & styles together to create an experience like no other; one of the greatest Christian albums ever from perhaps the only true artist of worship. 4 stars.
Oasis - Definitely Maybe. A definite classic rock album
Ready Player One OST - Outstanding stuff by Silvestri
Just steer clear of that remaster.
this album is awesome, no face and untitled god song my highlights but the whole thing is great. going to see her when she tours London soon
That bad huh? All my CD's are the original releases.
Same with Morning Glory.
Yeah, it's clean and compressed.
Nearly two years on and it still sounds great.
I'd gotten over Death Magnetic about two months after its release.