Music Banter

Music Banter (
-   Album Reviews (
-   -   This Is Pop (aka more albums I like that you might like too) (

Bulldog 03-12-2010 05:05 AM

This Is Pop (aka more albums I like that you might like too)
This Is Pop

In being inspired by Lovissucide's thread (which it'd be cool if more people would reply too) and the uber-cool XTC tune of the same name, I've finally got something to keep me properly occupied around here again, which is never a bad thing ;) The jist of this is that pop music, as I'm sure we all know, doesn't consist solely of songs like this (and, frankly, thank god for that). Pop music comes in varying degrees, shapes and sizes, as you'll all see when I start getting some reviews up of nice, fairly accessible albums - albums one could call pop in some way shape or form then.

I'll get my first review done soon enough. If any of you guys have any you think would fit in with this thread, guest reviews are very welcome.

Anyway, I'll nip back in here with the first one in the near future...

edit - You'll find an index of all the albums covered at the top of page 4 of this thread.

Oh, and it goes without saying that there'll be plenty of mixtapes as this thread goes on. Something like one every five albums with two from each I'd think.

lucifer_sam 03-12-2010 10:43 AM

Excellent. Looking forward this.

loveissucide 03-12-2010 03:14 PM

Look forward to seeing what's come up with, no topping good pop music.

jackhammer 03-12-2010 06:07 PM

Will be great to read about some genuine Pop albums for a change. Good luck fella.

Bulldog 03-12-2010 06:36 PM

Cheers guys, I'll try not to disappoint ;)

Some of these will be more obviously pop than others, some less so, some just downright cheesy, but I'll get them all up here someday.

Provided I can get enough work done, I'll do the first one tomorrow.

Bulldog 03-14-2010 11:28 AM

To all concerned, sorry for the delay with properly starting this thread. Apart from being a bit busy, I've also thought of about 30 albums off the top of my head and can't decide which to start with. Definitely a fairly diverse list of albums I've got so far (more so than I first imagined), so it should at least be interesting reading. I'll get the first one up later tonight in any case.

Bulldog 03-14-2010 03:59 PM

Turns out I'm gonna be doing three albums per post, and a mixtape after each six. Here goes...

David Byrne - Look Into the Eyeball (2001)

So, first up it's David Byrne's seventh bona fide studio album, presenting as it does a move away from the combinations of tub-thumpingly catchy Latin American vibes, noisy alternative rock and quirky pop tunes (which themselves would go out of their way to turn the rulebook upside-down) and move into a much more relaxed kind of artistic territory. Before I continue though, I think it's worth saying I'm a fairly big fan of David Byrne's work, be it solo, collaborative or with the Talking Heads, but one thing I have against his solo work is that, with a few exceptions, the handful of excellent songs on them aside, the rest of most of his albums kinda tail off into mediocrity. In other words, over the length of his discography as well as on a lot of his albums in themselves, he's a bit inconsistent for me.

I don't have either of his latest, collaborative efforts (we're not even counting those in that little statement of mine anyway) so I couldn't comment on those, but the exceptions to this rule are the Catherine Wheel, Rei Momo and, of course, this album, which finds Byrne in a much more relaxed musical mood, what with the mellow feel of the most part of the album, not to mention the fact that just about the whole album is guided by ambitious string arrangements. Although a few songs deviate from that norm, the majority of the musical theme is laid back, heavuily-orchestrated and propelled by a fantastic rhythm section, all of which provides a great foil for David Byrne's smooth-as voice and the cryptic lyrical rants therein. Despite a weaker moment or two, this one's a great little pop album, and easily the most accessible in David Byrne's solo recording career.

The Pretenders - Break Up the Concrete (2008)

I won't claim to be a huge fan of the Pretenders myself. I don't really have a lot of their albums barring this one after all. What I do know is that lead singer and principle songwriter Chrissie Hynde not only worked in Malcolm McClaren and Viv Westwood's store on King's Road in London, but she also made a few pretty cool contributions to John Lydon's autobiography of the Sex Pistols. Goes without saying then that she started out in the thick of the London punk scene as it grew, what with rumour having it that she was also involved in early, embryonic versions of the Clash and the Damned back in the day too.

All the above matters little though aside from being a nice bit of trivia, as this album's about as far from the punk rock Hynde first moved into the British music industry with as you can get, let alone the new wave she and teh Pretenders first started recording. Well, maybe that's exagerrating a bit, as there are shades of the relentless energy of her musical origins in place on this album, but overall this latest effort of theirs focuses on three very different musical areas. Those are pop melodies (executed with gusto by Hynde's neat little voice), rockabilly and a few dashes of country rock (what with the odd hint of pedal steel you can hear on a few tracks) to spice things up. Basically, the hard-rock swagger of their early work has been substituted here for a head-bopping rockabilyl vibe, and it makes for a very unique and authentic-sounding pop album in itself (at least to this pair of ears anyway). It combines the moods of punk rock and rockabilly superbly to conjure a very American-sounding (for want of a better phrase) album, with the right kind of friendly vibe to make it as accessible as it is.

Television Personalities - And Don't the Kids Just Love It (1981)

Given the amount of albums they've released over their 30-odd year career in tandem with an insane amount of lineup changes, it wouldn't be pushing the envelope that much to call the Television Personalities here a kind of anti-Fall, what with singer Dan Treacy being the only constant member throughout the band's entire career. On the other hand, maybe it would be, as if truth be told the Television Personalities sound nothing much like the Fall, but it's nice to draw analogies eh. Truthfully, this album's about a million miles from what the Fall were doing at the time, seeing as it delves into twee pop as opposed to, say, grainy lo-fi garage rock and balls-to-the-wall post-punk.

So, yeah, you're looking at a much more commercially-viable proposition with this one, seeing as I'm mentioning it in the context of this thread. The crux of the whole thing is the light-hearted and playful vibe that dominates the album stylistically and conceptually - it's basically nothing that's going to take itself too seriously then. There are much more downbeat moments like Diary Of a Young Man, but such moments are very scarce indeed, as the emphasis is on an early indie rock sound which is designed to make you smile more than simply be blown away by some of the most amazing music you've ever heard. In that sense, while they're not quite as funny a bunch as Half Man Half Biscuit, the Television Personalities do succeed in making a very convincing, very uplifting and stripped-down album, boasting both the rhythmic energy of early Joy Division and that cross between the melodic prowess and energy that the Buzzcocks had at their finest. Great stuff then.

So, yeah, more on the way whenever I feel like it. If anyone fancies an upload along the way, feel free to ask.

Bulldog 03-15-2010 04:23 PM

And here are a few more for ya. First mixtape coming soon...

Divinyls are one of a few bands you'll catch me mentioning here who started off from relatively rougher-edged, hard-rock beginnings who made a move as their career progressed into much more accessible pop territory. This here Sydney six-piece is another one of those kind of success stories, such to the extent that virtually everyone who hasn't been living under a waterfall's heard their uber-cool mega-hit I Touch Myself before (if not, watch the first Austin Powers movie again, as if its being one of the funniest movies ever isn't reason enough). As far as I know, they still tour without any plans for a comeback, making Underworld here their last album.

In essence, and for the sake of those who've never heard of this bunch before, what we're dealing with here is good old, unabashed pop music with a sharper, hard-rock edge - pop-rock when all's said and done, this album being among the finest of its sub-genre. In the faster, rougher-edged parts of this album Divinyls do sound a little like a prehistoric Yeah Yeah Yeahs, although with much more of a leaning towards melody. Plus I reckon Amphlett's a much better singer than Karen O but, then again, I'd be lying if I said I was a die-hard fan of the latter's anyway. Comparisons aside, throughout the length and depth of the album, we're simply presented with a load of absolute belters of tunes - nothing that challenging and definitely nothing to turn someone's musical world upside-down, but just an album's-worth of deliciously melodic pop-rockers to stick on when you're not really in the mood for listening to Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, Pere Ubu or whoever (at least that's how I feel about this). Plus, Amphlett's great vocals and trademark falsetto swoops make this one all the more special. Apologies in advance for the lame SQ on the below video clip...

And here lies the first of a few moves into electronic pop that the albums I've deemed appropos for this thread that we'll take. Saint Etienne, a name I'm sure a lot of us on these boards have already heard somewhere before (whether or not we were watching England get dumped out of France '98 on penalties there), as they're a band who aren't without their own extensive little back story, seeing as they've been kicking about the scene since well into the early 90s. Five albums after their heady entrance into the commercial music industry, they deliver us this, something of an artistic two-in-one package as this particular album saw Saint Etienne release a film of this same name, which provided their lucky customers with a narrative-based short movie that stemmed from all the nice, jazzed-up visual accompaniments for each song upon live performance. This little added quirk also gave the bunch a good opportunity to revive a certain standout feature of their earlier work, that being the presence of spoken-word interludes between songs (which in this case were taken from the accompanying film).

Slapping a dance-pop label on this album would be a gross over-simplification of the whole thing and would probably put a few of you off (with good reason), so I won't do it here. It'd hardly be justified if I did, as not only is the overall vibe of this album a little bit too chilled to be blared out at that party you were thinking of holding in your kitchen and inviting that bird you fancy to, but also there are plenty of live guitars which add to the atmosphere of the whole thing nicely, not to mention the stoned kind of vibe you get from some of the heavy basslines and pounding, robotic rhythms. To put all that into plain English for you, you may be familiar with female-fronted trip-hop bands like Lamb, Hooverphonic or whoever? Imagine all that, just waaaay more accessible. Trip-pop if you will, and where you can't say that you get a bunch of instrumentals that are just lively enough to keep your head nodding and just chilled enough not to get that little bit too rowdy for the album's overall mood. Another fine album then. The only dud is the pretty lame Soft Like Me, but what's perfect eh.

Scritti Politti - Cupid & Psyche 85 (1985)

I've mentioned this album a few times lately, so I'll try not to keep this long. I did have this album for about four or five months before it properly clicked with me as the classic it is (not just in the 'oh, this album's nice' sense), and since that happened fairly recently, I guess I couldn't help it. Anyway, little bit of back-story before we get to the album itself, Scritti Politti (for those who've never heard of them) started out as one of the finest post-punk bands to emerge from the north of England (sunny old Leeds in this case), released some EPs of jagged, left-of-centre post-punk on Rough Trade, supported the likes of Joy Division and Gang Of Four on the live circuit before singer Green Gartside had a heart-attack at the age of 23, due to his dangerously-careless lifestyle. That prompted Scritti Politti to go down a slightly more accessible musical avenue with their first album proper; Songs To Remember (some of you may recall a nice, reggae-tinged song called the Sweetest Girl from off of it). Gartside had a vision of pop music though that his current backing band couldn't pursue with him so in short he sacked the lot of them (keeping the name), moved to New York to find the right kinds of musicians and recorded a very very accessible, very very successful album.

This album being, along with the Human League's Dare (and yes, I'll be getting to that one later), not only one of the most influential and defining pop albums of the 80s, but also one of the very best. As I say, I've mentioned it before so I'll keep it short here - where Phil Oakey and the Human League experimented with their vision of pop music by recording Dare entirely on synth, Green Gartside and his merry band of session musicians went about taking that idea further by recording live, funky basslines and guitar breaks over the top of it (the kind of music which was kicking about the New York clubs at the time, necessitating Gartside's move across the pond), all the while laden with Gartside's witty wordplay in lyrical form. In a sentence, it's charming, it's gorgeous, it's melodic, it's cheesy as hell (but ever-so lovable for it), it's Scritti Politti! Maybe not your cuppa tea, but it certainly is mine. Whether or not this is your thing, I'd recommend you check out the Rough Trade compilation of Scritti Politti's early stuff (the aptly-named Early), as that album and this one are simply worlds apart.

loveissucide 03-15-2010 04:40 PM

Really enjoying the posts so far, Cupid & Psyche is fantastic stuff.

Bulldog 03-15-2010 05:18 PM


Originally Posted by loveissucide (Post 837467)
Really enjoying the posts so far, Cupid & Psyche is fantastic stuff.

Cheers guy, glad you like it :) Don't forget, you (or anyone else) are welcome to ask for a link or two if you want. Might wanna check this out before you do though...

This Is Pop #1
1. David Byrne - Like Humans Do
2. David Byrne - Neighbourhood
3. Divinyls - Sex Will Keep Us Together
4. Divinyls - Sorry
5. The Pretenders - Don't Lose Faith In Me
6. The Pretenders - You Didn't Have To
7. Saint Etienne - Action
8. Saint Etienne - Shower Scene
9. Scritti Politti - Small Talk
10. Scritti Politti - Lover To Fall
11. Television Personalities - Geoffrey Ingram
12. Television Personalities - I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives

^ They'll come to you in a jumbled order should anyone feel like downloading, and they're best re-arranged by artist as above. Click the pop tart to download and enjoy.

I've got a lot on this coming week, so I probably won't get the next update done for at least a few days...

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:32 PM.

2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.