Discussion in 'Community' started by Rogue1-and-a-half, Oct 7, 2014.
Been listening to Soundgarden again lately... especially these two albums:
Both a late career surprise but, I also suspect, the last Weezer album to be described as a classic:
In time of need...they never disappoint
One of the most perfect albums ever created.
It had been so long since the Strokes had made music that sounded like they were having fun together as a group that I thought it wouldn’t happen again but The New Abnormal is getting some of the best reviews of their career, beyond their first 3 albums. https://www.metacritic.com/music/the-new-abnormal/the-strokes/critic-reviews
It’s ultimately a love it or “meh” it affair among critics but that’s better than their last couple records which felt mailed in and like contractual obligations where none of them were having fun or finding much inspiration.
The band as a whole has branched out more from their previously more overt and narrow 1980s garage rock, post punk, and new wave influences. Yes, you can still tell that they love the Stooges, Velvet Underground, The Cars, etc but more influences beyond them now shine through to create some of their best ear worms in a long time. It doesn’t hurt that Rick Rubin was there to produce either!
Say what you want about these guys but collectively at their best they had a knack for hooks and atmosphere and those skills are back.
There’s more musical variety on display here than usual and Casablancas in particular seems more willing to step beyond his signature croon and closer to some of the things he was doing on his solo work and work with Daft Punk.
Some of the early track standouts for me are:
Lead single “Bad Decisions”
This one is a perfect balance of what the Strokes have always done well and provides some nostalgia back to the first time you saw or heard them while also embracing the pop swagger of Billy Idol.
The album opener shows Casablancas singing in a hushed, reassuring tone unlike anything I can think of that he’s ever sang on before.
For people who lost interest in the strokes after their first 2 highly acclaimed records and saw First Impressions of Earth as the first steps away from what they liked and mostly just want them to stick to the jangly crooner garage rock of their first 2 albums, the song that jumps out most is Not the Same Anymore. This one will take you back.
For unbridled New Order inspired synth pop up embrace there’s Brooklyn Bridge to the Chorus:
If nothing shared here interests you in any way to want to hear more than it’s likely not for you but if anything here does then you may want to give it a few spins because the other songs contain elements of each and could become your own favorites. It’s a grower album and in my opinion their best beyond their first 3.
A fitting soundtrack for some very awkward times.
Deeper Life (2003) – Natalie Grant
Did I mention that I’m doing some decluttering? Contemporary Christian Pop diva Natalie Grant would approve. She’s all about finding joy in the moment, living your best life, being all you’re meant to be, etc. That’s what the songs here are all about anyway. The sound is very poppy, not as Adult Contemporary as Grant would get on her next album, Awaken, and I think this bright, up-beat sound fits her voice better than the crunchy guitars she brings out on that album. She’s got range, but in a bland kind of way and no real soul. The emotions here are big and uncomplicated, kind of “what a beautiful day” over and over again. That said, it isn’t awful, for what it is. The songs are upbeat, but not annoying, except for Love Without Limits which has a godawful spoken word section and a cringe-inducingly cheesy acoustic Spanish guitar riff. Still, this is music for people who like music like this and I don’t particularly. So, I’m decluttering and this album was on my shelf along with Awaken and I’m loathe to give away a CD without at least giving it a listen or two. So, maybe Grant wouldn’t approve after all; because this one’s going to Goodwill. I think sincere goodwill is at the heart of the music Grant makes, so it all comes full circle at last, I suppose, though maybe not in the way she might have hoped. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – bland, upbeat CCM pop is unremarkable, but not terrible; those who like this kind of thing will like this while others should stay away. 2 ½ stars.
The Afterman: Ascension by Coheed and Cambria
The Afterman: Descension by Coheed and Cambria
Next Generation Swing (1998) – Various
Okay. The 90s Swing Revival. We need to talk about it. Like all right-thinking people, you did your best to ignore it at the time and to put it out of your mind in the years since. And look, do I blame you? No. I don’t. I mean, number one, look at that ******* cover to this CD. Look at that ******* thing. Secondly, well, this CD sums it up pretty well; of the fourteen tracks on this CD, thirteen of them are songs by 90s Swing Revival bands. There is, however, one track here from back in the original swing era; it’s Louis Prima’s Jump, Jive & Wail and that is undeniably a great track. On the back of this CD, it is listed as “the GAP TV Commercial Theme Song.” I mean, can you sum up the absolutely teeth-grindingly infuriating bull**** part of the 90s Swing Revival more succinctly than that?
Here's the thing though. I had a lot of fun with this CD. It was a gift from a friend who was decluttering; now I’m decluttering, so I finally gave it a few spins and I’m not going to lie. This is a good time. At it’s best, this is music that can indeed be enjoyed unironically. Indigo Swing’s Blue Suit Boogie is absolutely fantastic. Alien Fashion Show’s Oak Tree is a weird melancholy piece in an off beat minor key. Lee Press-On & the Nails (yes, yes, I know) deliver a live version of Sing Sing Sing and if things aren’t exactly as precise as I like to hear with this kind of music, the raucous energy downright makes up for it and it has an undeniable sloppy charm. The bulk of CD is maybe not as good as those, but it’s perfectly fine and it kept me tapping my foot whenever I listened to it. The only song I’d call downright bad is Zoot Suit Riot by the Chill Pill Dancers which I’m pretty sure is just one guy, given the fact that it uses electronic drums and SYNTH horns. In SWING MUSIC. No. No no no. Come on. Some genres, you can make a whole song right on your keyboard; not swing. Absolutely not. Anyway, I really had a good time with this CD and I listened to it several times and never got tired of it. The 90s Swing Revival: maybe actually pretty great. What a twist. Because look at that cover. 4 stars.
tl;dr – compilation of 90s Swing Revival music is high energy, occasionally brilliant and a ton of fun; a couple of disappointing tracks, but overall, unironically great. 4 stars.
i've bought like 30 records since the quarantine days started so i've been listening to a lot of albums. my latest fixation is this:
i've been a pretty big steel pulse fan ever since i saw them live outdoors on the north shore of oahu in 1995, but somehow i pretty much completely missed this record. anyway it's great.
Buena Vista Social Club
So many good songs