The Beatles – Please Please Me

27 12 2010

Listened: Thursday December 16

As with Live at the BBC, I can hear the Reeperbahn madness in the songs on Please Please Me – cheap, fast, rough and loud. Impressive that the majority of the songs are also written by John and Paul. Not only did they have time to speed through playing the songs, but also writing them as well.

Please Please Me (the song) is a perfect pop song – kids can hear a more innocent meaning in the lyric, and adults can hear another one, and either freak out about it or laugh to themselves.

Moby – Play

27 12 2010

Listened: Thursday December 16

When Play came out 11 years ago, things were so different. These days, in the age of sample freaks like Girl Talk and the entire mashup trend of a couple of years ago, it sounds almost quaint. I still enjoy listening to it and it’s beautifully done, it’s just interesting to note how it went from groundbreaking to old-fashioned so quickly.

Smashing Pumpkins – Pisces Iscariot

22 12 2010

Listened:  Thursday December 9

It’s very odd, considering it’s just a compilation of b-sides and demos, but I love Pisces Escariot more than any other Smashing Pumpkins album. Maybe when Billy Corgan isn’t obsessed with making a magnum opus, the songs are better. The Landslide cover was all over the radio back in the day, and was my first introduction to the songs of Fleetwood Mac.

The CD was one of the first I remember with a CD tray trick – if you held up the back cover to light with the CD removed, the image in the CD tray is a new image combining the front and back images. For a long time, I didn’t realize the front cover was a blurry face. It’s creepy now that I’ve noticed.

Weezer – Pinkerton

22 12 2010

Listened: Thursday December 9

Pinkerton is another wonderful “soundtrack to high school” album. To this day I enjoy singing “I’m dumb, she’s a lesbian”, “Shakin’ booty, making sweet love all the night, it’s time I got back to the good life”, and “Why are you so far away from me?”

I remember being surprised when I heard this was cult album, since it hadn’t been successful the first time around and had only become loved over time when Weezer stopped making albums for a while. I’ve always loved it and thought it brilliant. I feel lucky I got to love it as a high schooler, which is I think is the perfect age for Weezer.

The Decemberists – Picaresque

22 12 2010

Listened: Thursday December 9

I have a love-hate relationship with the Decemberists. As an English major, I appreciate their way with “big words” and storytelling and the fact that some of their songs are modern folk songs in the traditional style. The dark tone of the songs is really fun. However, sometimes their style can border on pretentiousness.

The music is good though – very folkie and lush. When I saw them at Coachella a couple of years ago, they were very fun and entertaining. The song about the whale was wonderfully illustrated and participatory.

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

22 12 2010

Listened: Thursday December 9

Physical Graffiti is one of the most bombastic, operatic albums I can think of. I don’t ever notice it’s a double album; once you start the ride, it keeps going until it’s done. This album reminds me of Almost Famous; Cameron Crowe gave his young cast copies of the albums that moved him at the time, so they could get into the mood for the movie. The only specific album I remember from his list is Physical Graffiti – he said something like “Before they were cast in the film, they weren’t familiar with these albums; now, like me, they crave Physical Graffiti.”

While I’ve noted that previous Led Zeppelin albums are air-punching or head-banging, this once is foot-stomping for me. Clearly, Led Zeppelin are a very physically oriented band, given these responses I have to their music.

And what music fiend doesn’t nod in the affirmative when Robert Plant says “Let the music be your master, will you heed the master’s call?”

Foreign Born – Person to Person

21 12 2010

Listened: Thursday December 9

Woody introduced me to Foreign Born. Person to Person sounds similar to Vampire Weekend. It’s kind of like surf and indie music mixed up together. I really enjoy it; the songs are pleasant and singable.

Woody went to high school with the singer. He said it’s not surprising the guy became a professional musician. He always seemed like the person who would go on to actually do it, instead of just dreaming about it.

The Velvet Underground – Peel Slowly and See

21 12 2010

Listened: Tuesday December 8, Wednesday December 9

I remember my mom buying me Peel Slowly and See upon request at Vinyl Solution as a birthday gift. I was turning 17.

Why did a teenager in 1996 want a VU box set? I had known of the band for several years, due to voracious Rolling Stone consumption. But it was chance that allowed me to love them. My friend Audrey’s older sister had abandoned a cassette of VU and Nico when she went off to college. I found it and asked if I could borrow it, since I knew it was supposed to be good. I remember driving away from her house in my Jetta as the first notes of Sunday Morning bleeped out of the speakers. The love affair happened quickly; I was immediately taken with it and it didn’t leave my car for a long time.

As with the Joy Division box I reviewed earlier, listening to 5 discs of VU madness for the purposes of the project is actually quite a haul. The first disc of demos is a slog. It’s interesting to hear the progression of a song’s development, but I think these days box set editors would have had their way with it and wouldn’t have filled a whole disc.

I would say I’ve listened to VU & Nico the most; it’s an amazing album. The sense of chaos and drama is presented so beautifully. Lou Reed is not a great singer, and Nico is an acquired taste, but it works. All Tomorrow’s Parties, I’ll Be Your Mirror, and Heroin are my favorite tracks. The live bonus track Melody Laughter is also pretty amazing. A cacophony of noise eventually evolves into a full fledged song. The patience it takes to do that over the course of 10 minutes is underrated.

I’ve spent some time with White Light/White Heat as well. The Gift and Lady Godiva’s Operation are interesting experiments in context, and I do listen to them when they come on, but I don’t think they’ve held up all that well. The really explosive and impressive track has to be Sister Ray, though. I was reminded to go back and enjoy it a couple years ago when I saw Brick in the theater. I loved the film, and then when the movie ended with a bang rather than a fade-out, the next sound I heard as the credits started to roll was Sister Ray. It was brilliantly used in the context of the movie, and is excellent for the credit roll since it’s so long. The funny thing is that I never feel like it’s too long, even though it’s an astounding 17 minutes. I just let it wash over me and sing along.

More recently, I’ve often listened to their third album, The Velvet Underground. Except for the odd experiment The Murder Mystery, this album is very poppy, accessible, and almost gospel in nature (See I’m Set Free, Jesus, Beginning To See The Light). I love Some Kinda Love, Pale Blue Eyes, and Foggy Notion as well. I can forget I’m listening to the Velvet Underground sometimes.

Speaking of poppy, their fourth album Loaded betrays its 1970 birth. It sounds very 60s to me, with all the ba-bas and such. I haven’t listened to it as much as I should have.

Needless to say, I’m really glad I found that abandoned tape that day. It changed my musical life for the better.

Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

9 12 2010

Listened: Wednesday November 10

What more can I say about Underworld? Pearl’s Girl gives me bang for my single-purchasing buck – tons of different music and mixes to keep me grooving to my heart’s content!

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Patio

6 12 2010

Listened: Wednesday November 10

Patio is the sound of a very young band rocking out in a garage (I would guess several of the members of the band were something like 15-17 here). As such, it’s not super listenable a whole, though it has its moments. Patio is an album I collected just to be a collector – I doubt there are very many copies extant in the United States.

The most hilarious part is at the end of Sally Webster when someone’s dad is captured on tape exasperatedly telling the youngsters this is their “last warning” and “I’m very serious” about their volume level. From his voice, I sort of imagine a parent who was once illicitly rocking out in his own garage.