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Old 07-30-2009, 07:20 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Well, that's the tenth essay. I'm one-tenth finished!

Here is a preview of the next ten, and this is as much for me as it is for you, so I can get my ideas down. Also it's nice to see these summaries and the growth of where the idea started out to what it ended up being, since these are my rough draft, preliminary ideas.

11. Kid A – Radiohead - Will write this tonight, about depression(my depression) and the numb yet depressed feeling Radiohead gives that I connect so deeply to.

12. Entertainment! – Gang of Four - About politics in music and anarchy and rebellion in general(this was supposed to be the topic for London Calling but I changed that to Cold War paranoia and the futility of punk and the fight it waged, this album is much more political than London Calling so I figured it more, appropriate.)

13. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – David Bowie - I really don't know what I'll talk about. I just really love this album. Maybe glam.

14. Perfect from Now On – Built To Spill - how the quest for perfection can affect people and possibly destroy them.

15. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd - about Floyd and the whole Barrett situation maybe, maybe the effect of acid on a generation. Actually that sounds good. Acid on a generation.

16. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk - The arrival of machines into music

17. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground - about my experiences of first getting into indie music as this was the gateway band.

18. Let It Be – The Replacements - about the struggles The Replacements went through to get stardom and how they are the top band from the eighties in my mind who should have been famous but weren't.

19. Bee Thousand – Guided by Voices - No clue, haha.

20. Odessy and Oracle – The Zombies - This'll be a big one, about the rise and fall of the sixties.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:48 PM   #42 (permalink)
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I love the way you just have an album and go with it, i wish i could do that if i was as a good writer. I'm definitely looking forward to the Ziggy, Kid A and Bee Thousand entries.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:55 PM   #43 (permalink)
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69 Love Songs is my favorite album, hands down. Stephin Merritt should be hailed as a god of lyricism and broken hearts.
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Old 08-01-2009, 03:46 PM   #44 (permalink)
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'Kid A' by Radiohead (2000)


Note: This is a rehashed and revised version of my Kid A review, plus some added in things. By this point I am sick of Kid A. I have been stuck for a day and a half trying to write about this damn album. This essay is part praise and part indictment.

There are a lot of different forms of depression. The one I have is a sort of numb detachment, an apathy for things. A very selfish thing. The kind where you say, f*ck it, nothing matters.

Radiohead have carved out a very unique sound, a sound which I dub 21st Century Cocaine Music. It's electronic, it's frantic, and it's incoherent, like you're speeding down a long tunnel at 2 A.M. in a black Mercedes and two people you just met at the nightclub are doing lines and screwing in the backseat. And yet, for all it's manic anxiety, the core of their sound is numb, like all of this is being broadcasted by a man in a coma, and I say that with all the love in the world. Kid A especially takes on and embraces this tone. It's an album of contradiction and duality, it's electronic yet organic, elusive and fragmented yet precise in the emotion and meanings it evokes.

'Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon. There are two colors in my head.'

That's the sort of fragmented, detached images we are given right at the start of the album. This album is lyrically populated by the sort of lines that stands on the fence between heavily symbolic and perhaps that joking Dylanesque throwaway that makes the songwriter grin as dipsh*ts like me try and dissect them and find a hidden meaning. The sorts of lines that while being interviewed the songwriter goes 'I don't know where that came from. Your guess is as good as mine.' This is a subconscious album. The purpose of it's lyrics are not to give you concrete meanings but phantom tones and images that evoke whatever feeling that happens to be associated with it. For each listener it's different and that's what makes it so special. And that's also what makes it so frustratingly elusive.

And at times, frustratingly boring. Usually multiple listens reveals more layers to an album. Surprisingly, with Kid A, more digging reveals nothing. I used to think this as their best album. I don't know anymore. At this point I'm wishing I did an 'OK Computer' essay, but then I realize that perhaps not all of my essays have to be glowing endorsements. This album can reached an unmatched brilliance at times. At other times, it seems almost irrelevant. I would call that a dichotomy, but I think in the end it is poor decisions by the band. Because there are some songs on Amnesiac, which was recorded in the same session, that are brilliant and some songs on Kid A which are subpar. Like Treefingers or Optimistic. Add in 'Pyramid Song', 'You and Whose Army', 'Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box', 'Like Spinning Plates' and replace 'Morning Bell' with Amnesiac's version of 'Morning Bell'. Add that third verse into Motion Picture soundtrack and cut out the hidden track. Listen to the demo: YouTube - Radiohead - Motion picture soundtrack rare demo

I give you, the improved Kid A, which would be three times better and be in the running for my favorite album ever. I defy you to claim it isn't improved:

1. Everything in it's Right Place
2. Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box
3. Pyramid Song
4. Kid A
5. The National Anthem
6. How To Disappear Completely
7. You and Whose Army
8. I Might Be Wrong
9. Amnesiac/The Morning Bell
10. In Limbo
11. Idioteque
12. Hunting Bears
13. Like Spinning Plates
14. Motion Picture Soundtrack(with third verse added and hidden track removed, but keep the same instruments)

That looks like an improved album right there.

I love the image of the carnival. The symbolism. It's such a bittersweet and perverse sort of atmosphere, it looks flashy and great on the surface but dig deeper and you'll find a rotten underbelly populated by maggots. A carnival is confusing. A carnival is the perfect symbol for a decade of decadence, that's what the 2000s were and right now we're feeling the start of that hangover. We're in the same category as the 20s and the 80s. The last song on this album sounds like a carnival winding down. It's tragic sounding, somehow it sounds whimsical at the same time, and always, numb. It's the greatest song on the album.

I think you're crazy...maybe
I think you're crazy... maybe

How the f*ck did we get to this point? How did we get to a point where the government we thought would be our salvation is a giant beast gasping for life smashing things up trying to solve an unsolvable problem and probably just making it worse? How did we get to a point of such moral bankruptcy and excessive shallowness, where the highest rated TV shows show graphic murders, and flashy reality shows where we see broken celebrities humiliate themselves for us like those monkeys with a little hat and cymbals, and they desperately cling to the hope that they can get on top again, yet, as we watch them, we all know that isn't gonna happen...I ask you...how?
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:58 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Hmm... Your new version of Kid A may sound better by itself, but that would mean taking those great tracks off of Amnesiac. I know they were recorded on the same album, but you could combine certain tracks from different albums by any band and make an improved album. You might as well just make a greatest hits compilation. Really, both Kid A and Amnesiac stand by themselves as great albums, and they actually aren't all that similar. Also, I completely disagree about Morning Bell. I think the version of Kid A is fantastic, and the one on Amnesiac is really nothing great. Still though, the majority of your review was a nice read. Keep up the good work!
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Old 08-02-2009, 09:44 AM   #46 (permalink)
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I've listened to Kid A a lot over the last day and a half and I'm convinced that it isn't a great album by itself. Oh, and my solution is that Amnesiac doesn't exist, nobolds.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:27 PM   #47 (permalink)
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Note: wouldn't it have been kind of funny and ironic if I ran off without finishing this, after swearing I wouldn't?

'Entertainment!' by Gang of Four (1979)


Using music as a way to express distaste about the society that swarms and surrounds you is an age old concept. For instance, the lyrics to perhaps one of the greatest compositions of all time, 'Ode to Joy' are taken from a poem supporting universal brotherhood, and Beethoven added lines that all men are brothers, something that was definitely not the status quo in Vienna circa the 19th century. For all intents and purposes, 'Ode to Joy' was the original 'All You Need is Love', and with a better melody to boot. But really, politics and music didn't really take off until the early 20th century. Take the haunting Billie Holiday song 'Strange Fruit', one of the most poetic songs I've ever heard. Or the songs by Woody Guthrie, like 'This Land is Your Land', an angry protest in response to Irving Berlin who just wrote 'God Bless America.' By the way, as a side note, I hate 'God Bless America', and I think Guthrie's song should be our national anthem.

Then of course there was the 60s. In the early 60s, there was the civil rights movement, and by the end, everyone was railing against Vietnam. And the king of these protest songs was Bob Dylan. He was deemed the head of a movement he really wanted nothing to do with. And then, of course, he raised the question, did these songs really do anything? Bob Dylan used to call his protest songs 'finger pointing songs', and he famously said that, 'I've only got ten fingers'. Dylan left the movement because perhaps he saw that songs cannot enact any sort of tangible change in the world, and all it amounted to was a bunch of whining. Dylan refused to disassociate himself with the evils of the world by singing about them and profiting off them, while truly doing nothing to actually solve anything.

There were political albums after Dylan, and there always will be. Look at Immortal Technique.

But if you want to listen to a catchy post-punk affair with funk and reggae influences, which also happens to be the greatest political album of all time, Gang of Four takes the cake with 'Entertainment!'. Even the band name is a great political reference to the 'Gang of Four', four leftists within the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong's last wife, who were all eventually jailed and exiled for crimes against the Party. It's weird to think that these guys aren't classically defined as 'Punk', because their attitude is insanely punk. But I guess their chords and music aren't simple enough, so they are Post-Punk, taking the punk attitude and combining it with more interesting things musically. And this thing really is interesting musically, it twitches more than a bug that was half-crushed.

I was reading 'The Corrections' by Jonathan Franzen and there was a scene where a bunch of leftists and radicals were protesting and one of the signs said 'This heaven gives me migraine', a great line from what I see as the best song on the album, 'Natural's Not In It', which rolls on like a bullet train and in each line it describes a new scene, almost protesting through short machine gun sentences. The problem, of leisure, what to do, for pleasure. The main target of this album is capitalism, the sheer amount of times it mentions consumers and buying things it really staggering. Most political albums lose focus or turn into watered down versions of operas with no real concrete message, but 'Entertainment!' has a concise message, and coincidentally, concise music, twitching guitar chords almost never rambling off into a solo.

Protest music and rebel music try and enact change. But it's hard to intentionally enact change. Whenever humans on a massive scale try and intentionally change something and get a desired result, they screw it up most of the time. Think of all the major revolutions that have taken place, they usually end in disaster. The French Revolution is probably one of the greatest examples and a great story overall, ending with the Reign of Terror and the rise of Napoleon.

The reason Animal Farm has stayed with us is not because it's an exact allegory of the Russian Revolution, it's because it tells us a lot about human nature. In the end, the pigs are acting exactly like the humans they just overthrew. Most revolutions just propel a new class of people to the top, and the lower classes are the ones who suffer.

I think the sheer fact that society is still in a moral decay and still selling itself out means that political albums don't mean squat. But it's noble of them to try. And despite all of the nihilist futility I threw at you, 'Entertainment!' is still a hell of a listen.
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:23 PM   #48 (permalink)
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I'm new around here and I've only had time to read your first essay, but I'd just like to say congratulations on these. Like many I'm familiar with the vast majority of the albums (even if not, i'm likely to check them out) in your list, so it's great to see your personal thoughts on the album, or thoughts provoked from the album. Great little essays and I look forward to reading both the ones you have completed and hopefully the remainder of the list.

Good luck with them!
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:49 PM   #49 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davey Moore View Post
I defy you to claim it isn't improved


Well, the Morning Bell on Kid A >>>> Morning Bell on Amnesiac.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:16 PM   #50 (permalink)
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This is undoubtedly some of the best writing on this site. Fantastic job on every one, I really enjoy the touching personal accounts as well.
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