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Various – Music Of Croatia

27 10 2010

Listened: Tuesday October 5

Occasionally Amazon gives away random non-mainstream albums for free. Having visited Croatia and the Balkan region before, and being a fan of the neo-gypsy music craze, I jumped at the chance to get Music of Croatia for free.

I knew nothing about the artists on the album (I’ve since read up on them on Wikipedia, if I could find English-language articles), but they seem to span older styles of Croatian music to modern-day examples. There’s rock, reggae, octet acapella, and very traditional-sounding instrumental songs. It’s quite catchy and does fulfill the need for Gypsy Soundz.

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Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York

27 10 2010

Listened: Tuesday October 5

It took reading wikipedia’s article on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album for me to grasp how unique it is. Since I grew up with it, it was a normal part of history for me, and I hadn’t really thought about how odd it was that they played relatively few of their own songs, and almost none of the big hits at all.

They play songs by David Bowie, The Meat Puppets, The Vaselines, and Leadbelly. These are probably artists and songs almost no mainstream rock fans were familiar with at the time.

I heard this version of The Man Who Sold The World before I ever heard the Bowie version, and as a result, I prefer it. It’s one of the spookiest songs I can think of, second only to Ghost Town by The Specials. (My Mind Playing Tricks on Me by Geto Boys is on that list too.) As a rabid reader of rock magazines, I had heard mention of the Meat Puppets before, but was totally unfamiliar with their music before hearing this. The covers of their songs are some of the best on the album.

The capper to all this is Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night – which Kurt totally tears up like probably no one else could. He gives us the 90s punky version of the blues, which works out perfectly. Even more so than his own songs, it gives us a glimpse of the struggles he was going through at the time.





Heartless Bastards – The Mountain

25 10 2010

Listened: Tuesday October 5

I’ve already commented on what a force of nature Erika Wennerstrom is, but on The Mountain, she is quite simply a badass. Fitting that this review follows Ocean Colour Scene, because I’d use the same descriptors I used there for this album: bombastic, testosterone stomp.

Since I wrote my last Heartless Bastards review all those months ago at the beginning of the project, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform. It was everything a rock and roll show should be – loud and fearless. Heartless Bastards, like Led Zeppelin, are the rare band that makes me want to headbang.





Ocean Colour Scene – Moseley Shoals

25 10 2010

Listened: Tuesday October 5

It’s getting to be a frequent refrain, but Moseley Shoals was another cheap album purchase that sat around unlistened until a couple of years ago. Upon finally listening, though, I loved it. They’re kind of a modern Led Zeppelin in style with their bombastic, testosterone stomp.

I recall listening to this while driving and parking in Northside (Berkeley) for a concert at the Greek. I love it when music sticks to relatively mundane events like that. It always makes me think of Northside at twilight.





Air – Moon Safari

25 10 2010

Listened: Tuesday October 5

I remember seeing huge posters of the album cover in Tower Records when Moon Safari came out. Memories like that make me feel old, because I don’t think today’s teenagers have any experiences like that anymore.

Air were one of the first French loungy-chillout bands I can recall from this time period, and this is when the Astralwerks label really started to hit their stride. They released so much good stuff in the late 90s-early 00s.

Moon Safari still sounds fresh and not dated; it’s a joy to listen to all these years later!





Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica

25 10 2010

Listened: Monday October 4

I think The Moon and Antarctica is Modest Mouse’s Kid A. I remember when it came out how much of a departure it was from The Lonesome Crowded West. The other complication was that I had heard live versions of a bunch of the songs through my friend Audrey and I was used to those versions. This was right at dawn of the MP3/file sharing age, and she had downloaded as much Modest Mouse stuff as she could find.

I didn’t quite get it when I heard this album then, but I’ve definitely come around. I love 3rd Planet’s “eye in the sky that can’t be stopped”, Tiny Cities Made of Ashes’ “I’m gonna hit you in your face I’m gonna punch you in your glasses”, and Wild Packs of Family Dogs’ “A wild pack of family dogs came running through the yard one day.”

This album is full of great lyrics and that unique Modest Mouse guitar sound.





Edith Piaf – Montréal, Monument National, 1948

19 10 2010

Listened: Monday October 4

Montréal, Monument National, 1948 is a phantom album. iTunes recognizes it, yes, but I can’t locate the real album cover in Google images, or a store selling it, even Amazon Canada.

This album was given to me by Pierre, my first boyfriend, who is from Montréal. At the time, I was taking a semester of French in college, and I used to be able to understand more of the lyrics and her commentary. But one semester didn’t stick for long!

Oddly, Tabitha Soren was taking the same small French class. I felt kind of dumb when I finally realized who she was because of a comment someone else made (I learned later from the Daily Cal that she was teaching a journalism seminar at Cal and was going to move to France with her family for a while afterward, so that’s why she was in the class). I’m usually the first person to recognize anyone of any notability, but I didn’t put two and two together. “Somewhat-older-than-the-average-student-redheaded-chick-named-Tabitha” should have made me take notice right off the bat. She put on absolutely no airs at all, so I wasn’t telegraphed by her behavior that she was anyone special either.