Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl

16 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 2

When Howl came out, many hardcore BRMC fans freaked out. Where is the drenching reverb? The head-crunching guitars? What is this dirty bluesy stuff?

I was also shocked at the change, but I quickly came to love it. A couple of weeks before the album release, Hurricane Katrina happened. When I heard the album I was hit by how many flood and water metaphors were in the lyrics (“Racing with the risin’ tide to my father’s door”). The bluesy/gospel sound also led my thoughts to that area of the country. This album never fails to remind me of that time. It was one of those coincidences that makes life interesting.

U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

16 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 2

U2’s singles these days are pretty crappy, I will admit. Vertigo is lyrically the weakest track on How to Dismantle. Bono’s incorrect counting at the beginning has always bugged the crap out of me.

However, the rest of the album is amazing. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own always moves me. City Of Blinding Lights and Original Of The Species could both be on Achtung Baby; the lyrics and music are that classic.

And speaking of lyrics, there are some stunners on this album, both poetically and descriptively:

“Freedom has a scent like the top of a newborn baby’s head”

“I was there for you baby, When you needed my help, Would you deny for others, What you demand for yourself?”

“I wanna trip inside your head, Spend the day there, To hear the things you haven’t said, And see what you might see”

“Neon heart, dayglo eyes, City lit by fireflies, They’re advertising in the skies, For people like us”

Bono’s voice sounds strong and healthy and Edge’s guitar lifts it to higher planes, just like how U2 should work.

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

16 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 2

Up until about age 25, I was intimidated by Led Zeppelin. The intense male sexuality of their music and style was just too much for me. Also, I felt like liking them was too cliche. Eventually I discovered that they are amazingly good. Now I really enjoy the testosterone blast of their music and the heavy sound that tells you immediately that you are hearing Zeppelin.

Houses of the Holy is one of the albums I came to later, as I usually insist upon proceeding through a band’s catalog in order. They are really hitting their stride here – the album is a steady ride on a wave all the way through, fittingly ending at The Ocean. This is an album that makes me feel like actually headbanging, and while I deeply love and groove to many albums, not many make me want to risk head and neck damage like this one does.

Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast

16 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 2

Hour of Bewilderbeast is another brilliant first album. I’m not surprised it won the Mercury Prize; it’s like a piece of art in music. It never fails to lift my spirits.

BDB’s live performances are something else though – when I saw him at the Fillmore during this period he played one of the longest Fillmore sets I have ever attended. Which seems like it could have been great, but for 6 songs running he said it was his “last song” and that was frustrating. I wanted to burn my remaining energy on the “last song” and having the rug pulled out from under me every time got exhausting. Additionally, he smoked so much (chain-smoking throughout the whole extended set) I got seriously worried for his health.

Anyway, albums: yes, live shows: maybe, if you are feeling like runningĀ  a marathon through a cloud of smoke.