The Stratford 4 – The Revolt Against Tired Noises

25 01 2011

Listened: Friday January 14

I’ve realized I made an error in my entry for Love & Distortion, Stratford 4’s followup to The Revolt Against Tired Noises. It was Revolt that was sitting around forever in my “listen to this” pile, not Love & Distortion. I bought Love & Distortion later, after I had fallen in love with Revolt.

I guess I got confused because Love & Distortion is such a good followup. The two albums flow together like one big awesome shoegaze party. Lyrics like “Everytime I see your face, I start to hydroplane” and “Gonna put it in autopilot, close my eyes and just let you drive it” are really fun to sing. I also like the female backing vocals on a lot of the songs.

Anybody who likes a good shoegaze now and then should check them out! Both of their albums can be found for $.01 on Amazon.

Idlewild – The Remote Part

25 01 2011

Listened: Friday January 14

The Remote Part is my favorite Idlewild album. The REM part of their personality is starting to really overtake the Green Day side here, but then that happened to Green Day later in their career too.

It’s hard to put Idlewild in a box – they can really rock out on songs like “You Held The World In Your Arms” and “(I Am) What I Am Not” but can legitimately carry ballads like “American English” and “Live In A Hiding Place”. They’re sort of like the younger Scottish cousins of 90s Britpop bands like Blur.

I wish they had a bigger name in indie circles. I rarely see them name-checked anywhere.

Basement Jaxx – Remedy

25 01 2011

Listened: Friday January 14

Basement Jaxx and Underworld were my gateway drugs to dance music in college. The first time I heard Remedy I could easily hear the appeal. It’s got both lyrics and bouncy beats, as opposed to much of dance music without many lyrics and very repetitive thumpy beats. The vaguely reggae sounds are also fun. I can’t listen to Same Old Song at work though – too many orgasm-simulation sounds.

I’ve seen the Jaxx at least once; they played the Fillmore with a massive subwoofer running the length of the stage. It was in front of the stage on the floor, so I thought it was a security pit or barrier when I first saw it. But no, it was just a huge subwoofer. I recall their shows also having awesome and beautiful dancers and singers, who were pretty much all black girls (which is an unexpected juxtaposition, since the Jaxx are both pasty white English boys), in flamboyant costumes with pheasant and peacock feathers and such. It was definitely a sexy dance party.

Talking Heads – Remain In Light

25 01 2011

Listened: Thursday January 13

Talking Heads is another older band that was nevertheless still a part of my teenage years. Several of their songs were played regularly on Live 105 in the 90s. In college I decided I should dive into their work, so I bought what seems to be their most famous album, as far as number of Rolling Stone mentions – Remain in Light.

These days I don’t think Remain in Light can be appreciated for how  bizarre and groundbreaking it must have been back in 1980. It could be released today and I think it would still find a place and would sound modern. Once in a Lifetime has been used in a movie at least once in the last couple of years, if that’s any indication of its relevance.

I can also hear the Velvet Underground influence as plain as day in songs like Houses in Motion. I love it when that happens.

The Roots of Orchis – The Red House In Winter

21 01 2011

Listened: Thursday January 13

The Red House In Winter reminds me of fun weekends in Santa Barbara. Woody’s friends Sean and Becky played this album a bunch when we were cooking in the kitchen at their place. It’s a beautiful album and the association with relaxing, fun times make it even more pleasurable to listen to.

Even though I enjoy their later albums, I still come back to the lovely instrumental soundscapes of Red House over and over again.

Bush – Razorblade Suitcase

20 01 2011

Listened: Thursday January 13

I was surprised at the fact that I still enjoyed listening to Razorblade Suitcase. I found myself singing the songs as I walked to the car after work.

I remember really anticipating this album’s release when I was in high school. Sixteen Stone had been really important to me and I wanted to enjoy a followup.

Compared to a lot of suspect 90s music, I really don’t think it’s that bad. Maybe not important in the grand scheme of things, but not crappy.

Ravi Shankar – The Ravi Shankar Collection: India’s Master Musician

20 01 2011

Listened: Thursday January 6

Listening to Ravi Shankar at work is a little suspect. It’s either music to bliss out to, or concentrate on really hard in order to appreciate all the layers of sound. Plus people look at me kind of funny when they hear a sitar coming from my office. I’m glad I own an album of his, though.

I think my favorite of the tracks is the most Western sounding “Dhun (Folk Airs)”. It does sound like an Indian flavored folk song!

Bob Marley – Rastaman Vibration

20 01 2011

Listened: Wednesday January 5

Rastaman Vibration contains fewer of the universally famous Marley songs, but this isn’t a bad thing. When I listen to it, I never experience a slow moment. Johnny Was, Cry to Me, Crazy Baldhead, and Who The Cap Fit are all greats songs for different reasons – tragedy, love, righteousness, and the paranoia of fame.

When Bob asks “Didn’t my people before me slave for this country? Now you look me with that scorn, then you eat up all my corn” even though I’ve had a comfortable life, for a moment I understand. War is also transformed from a speech by Haile Selassie into a beautiful, affecting, and rocking protest song.

A concert from the LA Roxy in 1976 is included with the deluxe edition of the album. Starting off a concert with  Trenchtown Rock is one of the better ideas anyone has ever had. What gets you in the mood better than hearing “One good thing about music, when it hits you (you feel no pain). Hit me with music, hit me with music now”? Even more so than the London show on Exodus Deluxe, the show feels like a religious experience for the audience; repeated screams of ecstasy are heard throughout. Whenever I hear these shows it’s clear a time has passed that may never come again.

The Ramones – Ramones

18 01 2011

Listened: Wednesday December 29

The Ramones are one of the weirdest bands that have ever existed. Grungy punks from NYC playing fast girl-group music with sometimes traditionally innocent, but sometimes violent and disturbing, lyrics – who would have thought that would work?

I don’t own any of their albums other than Ramones. I bought this one because of how much Blitzkrieg Bop and Beat On The Brat were a part of my teenage years, since they were played a lot on Live 105, and I thought I should own one of their albums for posterity.

Like the girl-groups of 60s pop music, The Ramones are a singles-based band. They don’t make albums, they make songs. Sometimes listening to a whole album gets a little tedious, even though the songs are pretty short. They do their one trick pretty well, but one trick wears out eventually.

Kings of Convenience – Quiet Is the New Loud

18 01 2011

Listened: Wednesday December 29

Quiet Is The New Loud is a very important album from my college years. It’s one of those rare albums that less than 30 seconds into my first listen, I was already in love.

KOC is like the modern European version of Simon & Garfunkel. The guitars are lovely, the harmonies beautiful, and the lyrics brilliantly metaphorical.

They’ve never made another album quite like this one. Like a lot of things in life, it’s something I can’t hold in my hand; it slips through my fingers and is gone very quickly.