|08-29-2009, 10:23 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Musicphantom's Records Reviewed
I feel like reviewing some music and listening to records, so I'm going to work my way through my record collection. I'll just be picking them out at random and reviewing. First one will be coming shortly, I'll give whatever I choose a proper listen first.
|08-30-2009, 11:57 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Why thank you Bulldog . I apologize it's taking me so long to get started, I managed to actually get out last night for a change. Now, I'm sitting here looking at the first box I pulled out wondering where I'm going to start on this. As for my process, I'll listen to each album at least twice before writing (though I probably have the vast majority of them memorized). I think we'll start with something a bit obscure that hopefully will be new to a lot of you:
Fad Gadget - Fireside Favourites (1980)
1. Pedestrian – 3:20
2. State of the Nation – 3:48
3. Salt Lake City Sunday – 2:12
4. Coitus Interruptus – 4:39
5. Fireside Favourite – 4:31
6. Newsreel – 3:42
7. Insecticide – 3:09
8. The Box – 4:19
9. Arch of the Aorta – 6:17
Ah, what a fun album to listen to. Fab Gadget is the pseudonym used by Frank Tovey, a British new wave/electronic musician from the early 80's. This is the only album I've ever heard by him under any name, so I won't be comparing this to his other works but rather looking solely at this album. Fireside Favourites is, overall, a very dark, humorous commentary on society during the time it was released. It focuses heavily on synthesizers but also uses sounds recorded from every day items, from what I can tell - the album cover lists Fad Gadget as playing the ashtray, metal chair, and electric shaver, and John Fryer is Extra Fingers, Ashtry, and Metal Chair. Essentially, the album is darkly humorous synth pop and new wave music.
This track starts off with a catchy little synthesizer rhythm, and then the electronic percussion kicks in. Fad Gadget starts singing in his monotone, somewhat droning voice, and if you pay attention to the lyrics, you're in for a good time. Pedestrian is essentially social commentary on everyone's addiction to automobiles, and he ends the song by saying "I'll lace up my shoes, I'll walk where I choose!" There is an interesting bridge in the middle that has some sounds that I can't quite figure out, and the end of the song breaks down into distortion and noise, leading into...
2. State of the Nation
There is a prevalent scratching sound that comes in about halfway through this song, and I think that may be the electric shaver kicking in. State of the Nation is about, well, you guessed it with a chorus that declares "Life begins when you're ready to face it." About halfway through this song, it begins to break down, with distortion and strange sounds becoming more and more prevalent, until finally for the last few seconds only a cacophony of noise remains.
3. Salt Lake City Sunday
Can anyone guess what this one is about? That's right, here he goes for the Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormons - "They march the Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake's sick residents, They want you to repent, they want your 10 percent." At one point, a military type snare drum roll kicks in, brilliant for a song talking about essentially the army of Mormons attempting to convert people. He ends the song "I slam the door in your face" which made me laugh, because that's what I do to. A very harsh synthesizer sound is used here in between each line.
4. Coitus Interruptus
This song's all about modern day relationships (at least at the time of release), and he uses some stupid puns ("Emission impossible"). At the end, a very out of tune background noise of some sort kicks in and Fad Gadget begins yelping, followed by an organ with some very harsh bizarre synthesizer noises over Fad Gadget just making strange noises.
5. Fireside Favourite
This song, to me, sounds bizarrely upbeat in comparison to the rest of the album. That's not to say it sounds like a happy song, per se, but the main verse music feels much brighter than the rest of the album. However, the lyrics are actually somewhat nonsensical and very, very dark, almost something out of a nightmare. Fad Gadget begins singing about sex in front of a fire, and it seems like a perfectly normal song, until the third verse arrives and there is just one line out of place - "Saliva's sweetness, we perspire, All things are one in front of the fire, Melting flesh on the front room floor, That's what my fireside favourite's for." From here he just gets stranger, first telling the girl to open her eyes and see the mushroom cloud, and lastly the final verse "Your head was on my shoulder, Now I'm kissing the skull." To me, it just seems like a nightmare in which things start out normal but just get more and more bizarre with no explanation.
Newsreel almost sounds like something you could find on a Skinny Puppy album. The song satirizes the news media, and they way they turn terrible things like interviewing a dead man's wife or a soldier shooting someone in war into something to be seen every day by the public.
This is just a strange song, with a loud pervasive cymbal sound that continues through the entire song, and a synthesizer sound that embodies the lyrics perfectly - they are written through the eyes of some sort of bug. This may not seem like it would be a particularly dark song, but Fab Gadget manages to make it an extremely hopeless song - "I've been here a year now and I'm getting restless... I'm smashing my face on a windowpane, I fall to the floor and I do it again."
8. The Box
The music to this song is dark, haunting, and foreboding, without the usual sound he puts in his music that gives them a clashing upbeat/dark feeling. Which is perfectly appropriate, as the song is all about premature burial. Probably the darkest song on this album, with verses like "A POV of man in carbon monoxide fumes are choking him, His face turns pink, And now we see him winding down, The window streaked excretion brown, We watch him sink" and a verse repeating "Let me out, I can't stand the dark anymore". I guess the thing is most of his songs are satirical or tell some sort of story are take a bit to figure out, while this is just blatantly depressing lyrics.
9. Arch of the Aorta
Just an outro song with some voices saying things with weird effects. It's a really cool song though, he uses a guitar to strum distorted chords with a synthesizer playing echoing sounds in the background with a pervading drumbeat. The end of the song is perfect for the album, slowly degrading into a driving, murky synthesizer chord and a lady saying "What?"
Overall this album scores very highly with me because I enjoyed the dark humor and satire of the album, particularly on the front (tracks 1-5). The second half is much darker music than the front, but still just as good. I also appreciated the times throughout the album that he headed in a more experimental direction, throwing in clashing sounds and heavy distortion to have songs slowly break down. The main rhythms and melodies are the driving force of the album, but it's these breaks and the sounds in the back that you have to pay attention for that truly make this album shine amongst my collection, and stand out from all of the other new wave/synth pop type stuff I've heard.
|08-30-2009, 02:25 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
And now, because the Bills Steelers game is on and I'm perfectly content muting that and I feel like listening to music, I believe I'll do another.
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
1. The King of Carrot Flowers pt. One – 2:00
2. The King of Carrot Flowers pts. Two & Three – 3:06
3. In the Aeroplane over the Sea – 3:22
4. Two-Headed Boy – 4:26
5. The Fool – 1:53
6. Holland, 1945 – 3:12
7. Communist Daughter – 1:57
8. Oh Comely – 8:18
9. Ghost – 4:08
10. *** There's no title on the tracklisting in the album *** - 2:16
11. Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two – 5:13
It always amazes me how split opinions on this record are. Some people regard it as one of the best albums ever created, others hate it, and some just find it to be an average 90's indie creation. Obviously, I fall into the first of the three categories. Aeroplane is at time nonsense, at times very serious, and at times even confusing. All in all, it is a very honest record that seems to be about World War II times and concentration camps as much as it is about growing up. I remember reading in a review somewhere, maybe Pitchfork or something (I know you hate it) that this album was inspired a lot by Mangum reading The Diary of Anne Frank, which would explain the concentration camp focus. This is by far the best thing to come out of the Elephant 6 Collective group, creating a poppy indie rock sound that borrows from a whole variety of eras and genres to create a very unique sound. NMH also uses quite the variety of bizarre and unusual instruments on here (at least for the 90's) that make for quite an interesting listening experience. In fact, the insert that came with the album gives credits for guitar, organ, floortom, bowed fuzz bass, tapes, shortwave radio, drums, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, euphonium, singing saw, bowed banjo, accordion, home organ, air organ, zanzithophone, saxophone, and uilleann pipes (Scottish bagpipes). Quite the combination there.
1. The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One
The lyrics on this one are just ridiculous, something from a dream. This song makes me think about being a child with the strange dream world that is first presented, being a teenager ("As we would lay and learn what each other bodies were for"), and at the same time it is a very serious song, with Mangum singing about a father considering killing himself but barely unable to bring himself to do it. I knew I would fall in love with this album the first time I heard it as soon as the accordion kicked in on this song.
2. The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three
It deserves mentioning here that Mangum wrote a short note about this song that is mixed in with the long string of lyrics on the insert. He writes, "A song for an old friend, a song for a new friend and now a song for Jesus Christ which seems to confuse people... the theme of endless endless on this album is not based on any religion but more in the belief that all things seem to contain a white light within them that i see as eternal." This gives a great insight into the innocence that Mangum sees in the world, and explains a bit more how he can sing about death, murder, and the Holocaust on such an upbeat record. Anyway, this song is another ridiculous one lyrically, and you get your first real taste of the noise rock that continues on and off through the album about halfway through when he hits the distortion and rocks out. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is back to the acoustic guitar sound, and has some other strange whistling instrumentation accompanying the guitar (I think it's the singing saw?) A very catchy song, the title track is very innocent song about young love and not worrying about what's going to happen later.
4. Two Headed Boy
Two Headed Boy has quick, almost punk like acoustic guitar rhythm strummed by Mangum as his voice is pushed to it's limits. Another song about growing up, sort of seems to me to be talking about painful, awkward sex with lines like "Catching signals that sound in the dark, We will take of our clothes, And they'll be placing fingers thru the notches in your spine."
5. The Fool
This is a good instrumental song with a melodic horn part, cymbals, slow plodding drums, and some more sounds in the background.
6. Holland, 1945
This may very well be my favorite song, if I had to pick one. Starts off with acoustic guitar strumming, then a count by Mangum, and explodes into majorly distorted noise rock. The song is about the end of World War II, and I think the lyrics about burying her alive come from the death of Anne Frank right at the end of the war. Also, the lyrics read "With your dark brother(h.p.) wrapped in white says it was good to be alive. But now he rides a comets flame and won't be coming back again the earth looks better from a star that's right above where you are he didn't mean to make you cry." I looked this up and found out that was written to a close friend whose brother committed suicide. Regardless, this is probably the fastest, most upbeat song on the album, and is great.
7. Communist Daughter
This song uses some white noise staticy sound in the background, with acoustic guitar and a trumpet creating the main melody. The first side of the album ends with the white noise ringing and repeating to silence.
8. Oh Comely
A long song with Mangum playing a rather dark acoustic guitar part. He finally really explains what the albums been about with "I know the buried her body with others her sister her mother and 500 other families," describing the end of the Holocaust. This song carries on with the same sound for a bit longer than it maybe should, until finally in the last couple minutes it switches it up and throws in a horn. before switching to a somewhat slower acoustic guitar rhythm.
This song takes us back to the noisy fuzzy sound and nonsensical lyrics. They try to fit a lot of instruments and here, and succeed rather well. The end of the song has Mangum chugging along in a punk like acoustic guitar part, some sort of fuzzy instruments making the noise sound (don't think it's a guitar), a trumpet, a singing saw, a trombone, and a zanzithophone at once.
Another great song, this one is just an instrumental. But no where will you find any indie rock or pop song that makes such amazing use of two organs, bagpipes, trombone, an acoustic guitar, and an electric guitar at once. Surprising, right? A very upbeat noisy song.
11. Two Headed Boy Pt. Two
The final track starts off with a very strange singing saw introduction, before Mangum starts playing alone, another song with just acoustic guitar and his singing. I'm getting tired of writing this now, so that's all I'm saying about this one.
Overall, this album has a sad undertone in terms of the lyrics, and this shines through on the songs with just acoustic guitar and vocals, but the music often has a very upbeat and strange feel to it. The only reason I don't give this a 10 is because I get bored listening to Oh Comely sometimes. This would be Neutral Milk Hotel's second and final album, with the band more or less drifting apart after this. Mangum rarely plays anymore, though is supposed to be doing some sort of album this year. But despite the fact that the band never recorded anything more after this, his second album was quite the parting gift for all of us.
|08-31-2009, 08:06 AM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Fad Gagdet I've heard of but can't really remember anything by. They're on my 'to get to someday' list, like so many others. I'm not really fan of Neutral Milk Hotel I'm afraid, but you still did another great job with the review there.
|08-31-2009, 01:48 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Oh nice choice on Fad Gadget, I just got that last week coincidentally. I did a quick search and don't think there was any mention of them anywhere on the boards. Anyway, I've had their Best Of for a few years but this was the first time I checked out a proper album. I'll play it again this week, I don't remember which tracks stood out the most for me.
NMH is a nice choice too, though unlike most people, I prefer On Avery Island. Maybe because I heard it first?
|09-02-2009, 08:59 AM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Sorry I wasn’t able to get this up earlier. I had to finish up the last little bit at work today.
The Pogues – If I Should Fall From Grace With God
1. If I Should Fall From Grace With God -2:20
2.Turkish Song of the Damned - 3:27
3. Bottle of Smoke - 2:47
4. Fairytale of New York - 4:36
5. Metropolis - 2:50
6. Thousands Are Sailing - 5:28
7. South Australia - 3:27
8. Fiesta - 4:13
9. Medley: The Recruiting Sergeant/The Rocky Road to Dublin/The Galway Races 4:03
10. Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six - 4:39
11. Lullaby of London - 3:32
12. Sit Down by the Fire - 4:10
13. The Broad Majestic Shannon - 2:55
14. Worms - 1:01
To start this off, I should mention the only other Pogues album I’ve ever heard is Rum, Sodomy, and The Lash, so everyone knows where I’m coming from. The Pogues were the creators of the Celtic Punk genre, fusing the fury of punk with Celtic music influenced by the Irish past time of getting drunk. And by the way, they do it better than anyone that followed them. This album goes a step further in terms of folk, combining the Pogues’ sound with folk music from around the world. It flows perfectly together as well, never straying too far into the various other folk sounds. And they use just the right combination of story telling songs and drunken anthems to create a classic that could never possibly get boring. The diversity on this album just makes it so much fun to listen to. I’m not going to do a full track by track because there are too many songs, so I’ll just do a few of my favorites.
2. Turkish Song of the Damned
This song is really cool; McGowan and the gang take an Eastern stance on their music. But they blend it in with their sound perfectly. There’s no questioning that it is the sound of the Pogues, but they go from an Eastern sounding chorus to a typical Poguesy Celtic punk chorus without missing a beat.
3. Bottle of Smoke
Bottle of Smoke is very punk, a song about winning a bet on a horse with 25 to 1 odds. They’re offensive, don’t give a **** attitude in this song epitomizes the drunken Irish punk perfectly, if you ask me.
6. Thousands Are Sailing
One of the slower songs on the album, Thousands Are Sailing is an immigrant song about sailing to the United States. Possibly the best song on the album, this one stands out to me as being the perfect fusion of traditional Irish music with the upbeat, aggressive sound of punk that the Pogues embraced. The melody is hopeful and nostalgic all at once, placing the listener right there on the boat leaving their home country and everything they know in search of a better life. The standout track overall from the whole album for me.
7. South Australia
The last track on this album is one final hoorah from the Pogues, and another gem from the album. It’s a drunken, upbeat (complete with crowd vocals) anthem with just the right addition of enjoyable ferocity to end the album leaving any one that listens to it in a great mood.
I remember listening to this album for the first time, and having no idea what was going on when this song came on. It starts off with a saxophone and a bluesy bass line. But about half a minute in, there’s a whistle, and soundly it devolves into a chaotic, Spanish influenced, punk mess. Imagine The Pogues going to Spain, getting drunk with a mariachi band, and then teaming up to create a song. That’s pretty much what you have here. Is it just me, or is McGowan’s Spanish accent hilarious?
12. Sit Down By the Fire
A fun to listen to song about a nightmare of sorts, I guess. I suspect the lyrics might have something to do with some sort of Irish folk tail, but that’s just my best guess. It’s a perfect fusion of punk and Celtic music, basically more of the great sound that we all know and love. Sort of feels like an Irish jig around a fire at night when the air is cool.
13. The Broad Majestic Shannon
A fantastic Pogues song, I really enjoyed the music on this one. The melody is just so catchy and fantastic. The song is about young love, I think. It’s a fantastic song to be the last, well, real Pogues song on the album. Worms isn’t quite like the other tracks.
The thing that I can’t stress enough about this album, which you’ve probably realized by now, is just how much fun it is to listen to. Never a dull moment, and it never drags you down too much to get you feeling depressed. It’s the perfect soundtrack to an evening drinking with friends, but is just as great when you listen to it by yourself. What made the Pogues so much better than later more current punk bands like The Flogging Mollys, The Dropkick Murphys, or The Street Dogs is the artistic, creative side that they seem to possess. While many bands in the genre focus solely on songs one might enjoy in a pub after a hard day at a typical working class job, the Pogues manage to do this while also writing creative songs that reward careful listeners. This is an absolute must for anyone that enjoys punk.
Last edited by music_phantom13; 09-02-2009 at 09:21 AM.
|09-02-2009, 09:17 AM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Fantastic album, and I couldn't agree more with your review. It's more fun than a barrel of monkeys and according to LastFM is my most played album of the last year, which goes to show that it just never gets old. It shows the Pogues at their most mature and their peak for me - there are a lot of good songs on a few of their albums after this, but none of them have as consistent a level of quality as this.
Anyway, top job