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.

The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

18 01 2011

Listened: Tuesday December 28

I admit it – The Queen Is Dead is the only true Smiths album I own (Louder Than Bombs doesn’t count, since it’s a compilation). I should rectify this problem.

I giggle to myself every time I hear “I’m the eighteenth pale descendant of some old queen or other” – I’m sure the double meaning of “queen” is intentional here.

Some of my favorite Smiths songs are on this album – Cemetry Gates, Bigmouth Strikes Again, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, and The Boy With The Thorn In His Side.

I remember a Belle and Sebastian show where someone yelled out that they wanted to hear The Boy With The Thorn In His Side and they pulled an audience member onstage to sing it, which he did amazingly well, and the whole audience sang as loud as they could along with him. It’s one of my favorite concert memories ever.

Stone Temple Pilots – Purple

18 01 2011

Listened: Tuesday December 28

OK, I know I went off on Core and the pain it brought me, but I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed Purple. I don’t think I’ll bust it out to listen outside of the project, but I listened to it several times and enjoyed it each time, both the singles and the deep tracks.

I thought the songs were of higher quality than the songs on Core; no sophomore slump here!

Lady Sovereign – Public Warning

18 01 2011

Listened: Tuesday December 28

I feel a little bit like a 15-year-old (a hip one though) when I say I love Lady Sovereign. A lot of personality is packed into her 5’1″ frame. Despite her brattiness and the likelihood that I wouldn’t enjoy her company socially, I find her incredibly endearing. She makes fun of herself, being English, and educates us on the real, untouristy London, but raps sentimentally about the fun she had just being a kid in a tough housing estate that has since been demolished.

Maybe she reminds me of high schools friends who would swear, say rude things with a smile, and accidentally burp in your face. Or maybe because, as she says “I can’t dance, and I really can’t sing, I can only do one thing and that’s be Lady Sovereign.” What’s a better attitude than that?

UNKLE – Psyence Fiction

11 01 2011

Listened: Monday December 27

Psyence Fiction is a classic of my college experience. I’m surprised I’ve never bought any DJ Shadow records, since I assume he’s the one who made it so badass (Shadow left the collaboration after this album and I didn’t like their followup as much).

Richard Ashcroft’s and Thom Yorke‘s contributions are critical too. Both Lonely Soul and Rabbit In Your Headlights are entire rock/trip-hop operas compressed into one song. I feel the emotion ripping into me as I listen to both. I love the Jacob’s Ladder sample on Rabbit, too. Brilliant. Now that I think of it, the sound of Rabbit In Your Headlights is very reminiscent of later Radiohead. Maybe Thom and the band got some ideas!