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Old 10-20-2008, 01:32 PM   #51 (permalink)
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Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island



This album should be owned on vinyl. Not just because that makes it the ultimate hipster status symbol, which it does, but because it is obviously meant to be listened to on vinyl. When you listen to a digital version it sounds like you're listening to vinyl, except you get those infuriating breaks between the songs.

This album is so warm, it feels like an old friend. It begs you to melt into it. Someone complained to me about the last track, which is a fuzzy, noisy dronescape, and I honestly did not know what they were talking about. I had to go back and listen to it and realize that it does end like that. By the time I get to the end of this album it has moved into a back corner of my mind and I don't even really notice it on a conscious level. That, for me, is the sign of a very good album. Tago Mago does the same thing, the first half is so mesmerizing that I'm usually too blissed out to notice the second half.

But really, this is an album album. There is a unity here that never threatens to get monotonous. Each song flows into the next. Each song is beautiful. It's difficult to differentiate between acoustic and synthesized instruments because they all swarm together in a lo-fi haze. It sounds like a stoned day at the carnival. Everything sounds delicate and self-enclosed; this is the sort of album that will make you forget the outside world exists at all. The lyrics are simultaneously personal and universal, with a vocal delivery that borders on melancholy but always goes for hope over despair.

The music itself is equally wonderful. A dreamy medley of all sorts of folk music drifting together, mournfully inspired trumpet playing, acoustic guitar picking, supported by washes of analogue synth and a propelling drum/bass section. The lo-fi aesthetic literally ties it all together, with each voice bleeding color into the others. The album picks up and slows down, but there is never a dull moment. Lose yourself in it.


I own both this and Aeroplane on vinyl

Because I lost my CD copies.
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Old 11-01-2008, 06:21 AM   #52 (permalink)
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please post more
I've gained a few great albums from this already.
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:43 AM   #53 (permalink)
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Disco Inferno - D.I. Go Pop
1994




I suppose the first thing to comment on should be the “irony” of the title. Most would not call this a pop album. I do not really have a problem with calling this a pop album, at its core it consists of simple melodies and it caters to the tastes of a target audience. This does not say anything about the quality of the album, nor does it tell you how to approach listening to it. It's not the kind of album you can have a distinct impression of ten seconds in. Each song takes time to digest, needs time to let its internal structure unfold. All you get at first is chaos.

Musique concrète gets a distinct makeover; with more of a feel for mood and texture than a group like say Art of Noise, Disco Inferno shroud their songs in dense sound collages, with the individual sounds taking on musical color as they are modulated and looped. The mood is claustrophobic, like tightly constrained insanity, and the lyrics are pessimistic, the center will not hold.

These could be dissected Joy Division songs, revealing an even deeper cacophony. The use of crashing waves on “A Whole Wide World Ahead” is perfect. The album is almost over. You've reached the shore. You know it can only end with a yearning for more. Now you're standing on top of the cliffs at Dover Beach, staring into the abyss.

We'll hold our ground
till it's too tough to bear
Then we'll go somewhere safe
or at least go somewhere
Because the whole damn world
is mutual ground
And love is no shelter
from the madness around
All we need is a corner
at the edge of a map
And we'll be out of this place
with its dead ending traps

The song drifts into a dream, the waves have grown more violent, thunder, guitar, and slowly it all fades away. The sound of running footsteps in the snow is magical. Then bells, more delight, and for the first time vocals that sound somewhat hopeful. Something about Lazarus; magic, resurrection, yipee! What a delightful way to end an album. But apparently the landlady doesn't like it. That's pretty embarrassing. I mean, the woman is hearing my 18th favorite record of all time performed and she doesn't seem to be appreciating it at all. I'm nonplussed.

“In Sharky Water,” the first track on the album, kicks it all off, appropriately enough, with the sound of water being poured. The sample is looped in a complex, dynamic rhythm, as the drums pick up, only to be pushed aside by monstrous, pounding, minimalist bass. It sounds like a rock anthem trying to keep itself from collapsing. And quickly it does, back into water, and has to reassemble itself. The style of musical composition seems equal parts post-rock climactics and Burroughs cut-and-paste. It's love it or hate it, obviously. It can sound tremendously chaotic, and bleak, but that's the point. You only get as much as you're willing to give.
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Old 11-02-2008, 08:53 AM   #54 (permalink)
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This sounds very interesting. Winky wink.
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:05 PM   #55 (permalink)
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This sounds very interesting. Winky wink.
same here
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Old 11-03-2008, 01:45 AM   #56 (permalink)
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i really like the juxtaposition of my avatar and that album cover
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Old 11-03-2008, 10:13 AM   #57 (permalink)
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Ooo they're from Essex, i'm feeling a nice sense of pride!
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:16 PM   #58 (permalink)
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Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted
1991-2




This album is lovely.
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:18 PM   #59 (permalink)
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No review?
ive got crooked rain crooked rain and wowee zowee...is it as good?
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Old 11-06-2008, 08:24 PM   #60 (permalink)
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The Fall - Live at the Witch Trials
1979




There's something about Mark E. Smith's voice where, when he says something, it sticks in your mind. Like, you might be searching for the perfect pair of socks in a department store and all of a sudden hear a disembodied voice yell “spoilt Victorian child!”

When I think of this album I hear “we were early and we were late, but still, live at the witch trials!” Of course, being the deliberately unconventional band that they were, that intro doesn't come until close to the end of the album. With so much Fall to listen to, so much diversity to sort out, why does this album come out on top? Are all the best Fall songs on this album? Is it the most cohesive, is it the best unity The Fall has achieved? Hardly.

Because The Fall is not really a band about unity. They operate on schisms and conflicts; the struggle within the band metamorphoses into a chaotic, disparaging aesthetic that manages to be entirely unique, even though it constantly references and imitates. It is in this spirit that I would elect this as their greatest album; not only is the conflict between MES and the rest of the band already present, but there is also the uncertain ground of a starting band, MES has not fully adopted his role as band leader yet so there is also his internal conflict. As such, this is also perhaps the most democratic Fall record, and there is more of a focus on instrumental interplay.

MES plays a character better than any band leader I can think of at the moment. From the first line in “Frightened” you're overwhelmed by the paranoia, discomfort, outsiderness. Every line is perfectly accentuated by the music--utterly claustrophobic, repetitive, convulsive; it gets under your skin and stays there. The schism between the steady, driving stepwise rhythm section and the freeform guitar only furthers the sense of alienation.

“Crap Rap 2/Like to Blow” is one of those songs you tend to gloss over, but if you really listen to it and try to discern why it's forgettable, you find that it's slightly hard to listen to. Parts of it sound like they can barely hold themselves together, before releasing only slightly into the chorus. It's a very asthmatic song, it gives a feeling of constipation and anxiety, and it leaves you reaching for catharsis. Which is where the next song comes in. “Rebellious Jukebox” delivers the goods--a timeless Fall anthem. “Make music to itself, make music for itself...”

This is the idealist MES, who already paints himself the absurd hero, a step behind but “still one step ahead of you.” It is this mixture of absurdity and elitism which makes The Fall the ultimate record collector's band... that and their immense discography. But unlike their later releases, this record sits on no history, it does not have to concern itself with smashing its own past. In that sense it is also the ultimate Fall expression, before they had to turn away from themselves. But maybe it's too indebted to punk?

I love the line, “What's this song about?”
“Oh, it's about nothing.”

It's like a seesaw
it's like an up-and-down
mother-sister mother-sister!
Oh why did you push your head in?

The album sticks together in a scattered and undirected kind of way. The songs sound strange, but in a predictable kind of way. The real gems of the album come at the end. In “Two Steps Back” MES intones “everybody likes me/they think I am crazy/they pull my string and I do my thing.” “I don't need the acid factories/I got mushrooms in the fields.” As perfect a declaration of intent as I've ever come across.

“Futures and Pasts” is a rambling interrogation of the human condition.

“Music Scene” sounds vaguely bitter. It sounds like the jaded and restrained cousin to “Sister Ray,” the song which is driven not by its internal volition/volatility but by external forces. The studio that forces the song to keep going and fill up the album, the other music groups they must relate to for “listenability,” and of course the fans themselves. It's the ideal conclusion to an album that spits on everything.
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