|07-25-2009, 01:26 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2005
One hundred albums of solitude
you know what the deal is dude, top 100 albums in no specific order.
Smog - A River Aint Too Much To Love
Say Valley Maker
Rock Bottom Riser
I Feel Like The Mother Of The World
In The Pines
Drinking at the Dam
Running The Loping
I'm New Here
Let Me See The Colts
The first of my many reviews concerning the enigmatic Bill Callahan will be on what is widely considered to be his best work. While under the guise of Smog, Callahan recorded around 18 albums, cassettes, and EPs that span psychedelica, lo-fi, folk, Americana, and modern indie. It's staggering to see just how much music one man can create, and it's shocking to think that one of America's most prolific singer-songwriters is unknown to so many people. "A River Isnt Too Much To Love" is one of those albums that changes your perceptions, your beliefs, and even your outlook on music.
"A River Isnt Too Much To Love" was my first experience with Callahan's brand of atonal folk. His delivery style can most accurately compared to Ernest Hemingway, as it's marked by short, blunt staements. The way he crafts elegant yet simplistic songs that rely upon the oldest time signatures and rhythms is, to me, fascinating.
First up is "Palimpsest", a song that starts out slow and winding. Callahan's eerie lyrics, along with the appearances of cello and violin, create a devastatingly emotional song about alienation and loss. Short yet powerful, "Palimpsest" is a standout track.
Next is "Say Valley Maker". I'm on the fence with this song, as it's one of those tracks that at time seems beautiful, but also warrants skipping over on occasion in favor of some of the more lively songs. However, it has some of my favorite lines in all of music:
Well I never really realized death is what it meant to make it on my own
Because there is no love where there is no obstacle
To me, these are powerful lyrics, full of emotion that is somewhat dampened by Callahan's style of monotone delivery. Still, it's a song that I don't mind because I can recognize its function as a transition to "The Well".
"The Well" is a narrative song that tells the story of Callahan discovering a well that he yells "F*ck all y'all" into. Weird sh*t, but sweet nonetheless. In contrast to everything prior to "The Well", this song is more uptempo and rolls along with the help of some simple violin and drum work.
Now I don't really know why this next song gets so much praise from indie hipsters and retard music critics, because to me it's nothing too spectacular. Maybe it's because I've forgotten more about music than the average Brooklynn Vegan journalist will ever know, but I'm not too quick to declare this his opus. Apparently going apesh*t over piano chords mixed with acoustic guitar is the "in" thing to do. Whatever, I'm not trying to say that "Rock Bottom Riser" is a bad song, because it is enjoyable, it is catchy, and it is well written. I just think that there are other songs in this album that deserve recognition over it.
One of these songs is "I Feel Like The Mother Of The World", and I'm nice enough to include a video for you dudes to enjoy.
This is another song that has particularly badass lyrics;
Whether or not there is any type of god I'm not supposed to say
But today, I don't really care
God is a word, and the argument ends there
In short, "I Feel Like The Mother Of The World" is one of my two favorite songs off this album, and is actually what convinced me to give it a chance.
Moving along then, "In The Pines" showcases Callahan most melodic singing yet. Another slow track that is saved only by it's lyrics.
"Drinking at the Dam" is my favorite Bill Callahan song ever, and to my brain it's perfect in every way. I could listen to this song for the rest of my life. It reminds me of 1994's "Steep Cliff Mountain Type Valley Jaunt" because of the spacey background vocals. You'll have to excuse me if we're ever together and this song starts to play because I'm liable to enter full-on school girl gush mode. I suggest you download this album just to hear this song.
A great intro is really the only thing I can compliment "Running The Loping" on having. If anything this song serves as a reminder that great artists make mistakes. Bummer dude, it's lame but I'm sure some like it because most people are stupid.
"I'm New Here" has the best guitar work on the album. Fingerpicking that would put most folk artists to shame is the best part of this song, and the minimalistic lyrics aren't a distraction.
Rounding out Smog's most popular album is "Let Me See The Colts". A great tune that everyone I've ever met has loved. In one of his most accessible tracks Callahan acknowledges his Western Americana type appeal by singing about a gambling man taking a trip to see the future crop of horses. The best part is when the song switches from military snares and ambling chords to soft and sweetly melodic strumming. Callahan asks "Is there anything as still as sleeping horses?" before the violins kick in and revert the whole thing back to a cacophony of lustrous harmony.
And just like that, it's over. On first listen my mind wasn't necessarily blown, but I was pleasantly surprised. Callahan certainly isn't the average folk singer, and most of his songs take time to grow on you. For me, the growing came quickly. I guess what helped was that Bill Callahan doesn't seem like a
man whose music is a reach. He's more concerned with getting it all out there and seeing what comes back. In a way he embodies his adopted city of Chicago through his straightforward approach and blue collar ethic. It has been said that "Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work", surely Callahan's 18 albums can attest to that. He is one of the very few musicians I can say that I would truly like to meet.
|07-25-2009, 07:53 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Good job with the review there. I'd be lying if I said I'd heard of Bill Callahan before, but I really liked that song in the vid there, particularly that curious kinda juxtaposition between vocal and instrumental tracks. I'm a sucker for a good set of lyrics as well, so I'll definitely give the album a shot myself.
Hope you keep this going, as you're off to a great start.
|07-25-2009, 05:04 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2005
thanks for your support fellas, holler if you'd like anything up'd.
L'antietam - Family
Dear Good Man
Outro (A Safe One)
We Saw The Umbrella Man
We Turned Off Harbor Lights
We Drank To The Top Of Our Lungs
We Built Our Heavens
Holy Family Fuck
Bah Bah Bah Patriots
Everyone Loves Raymond (Not The Town In NH)
The Johnny Appleseed Trail
None Of This Is No Longer Worth My Time
Joe's Dad Looks Like Michael Moore
Thanks For The Gift But It's Completely Useless For My Situation
I Sat For Days And Came With This
It's Hard To Listen To A Word You're Saying When You're Spitting In My Face
The first of few screamo/hardcore albums to appear on this list, L'antietam's "Family" might be the greatest hardcore record to come out of the Northeast since Tiny Hawks were still making music. Put simply, while many contemporary hardcore bands are making a mockery of the genre by branching out into more post-rock instrumentation and experimental musical tangents, L'antietam's goal has remained the same since day one. That goal is to rip your fucking face off with the youthful enthusiasm. Listening to L'antietam is akin to eating a shit-ton of mushrooms and then proceeding to skydive without a parachute. Oh, and you're also fighting mechanical ravens that have laser beams in their mouths and talons made from the bones of small children. They are intense. I've been lucky enough to see them once when they came through Chicago on a tour two years ago, and I couldn't hear myself think for at least three days after.
"Family" embodies everything the screamo/hardcore community does right; awesome jams mixed with head-exploding live performances. Clocking in at 60 minutes of devastatingly good hardcore, "Family" is L'antietam self-actualized. They bang on all cylinders, ranging from gnar to reflective without skipping a beat. With as many songs as this album has it really doesn't make sense for me to do my typical play-by-play, so instead I'll be focusing on the overall feeling of the album mixed in with the occasional song analysis. Besides, this is a band that needs to be heard firsthand in order to be properly dissected.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? "Intro" sets the mood for the entire album with its light and dark elements, by which I mean heavy distortion and cleaner reverb. Immediately following "Intro" is "AM:JM", and then our journey into the abyss begins. Screaming and rapid shredage make their first appearance. The only lyrics audible for ears unaccustomed to screaming are "I REMEMBER HOW WE USED TO FEEL!", but I've always loved not knowing what the members are saying. Sometimes it's more about style than substance. One thing that L'antietam does extremely well is blend screaming with their music in a way that even the staunchest anti-hardcore listener can enjoy. The album rolls along with "Brick Halls" and "00:43", both raucous tracks that bring the noise. Next up is "Boxes", a far more reflective track that devolves into melodic jams at around the halfway point.
One of my favorite L'antietam jams ever is "Two Birds", a song that departs from the album's overall mood. I see "Two Birds" as a turning point in the album, as if the band's disorganized brand of chaos shifts from careless to brutal. Indeed, all of the songs beginning with "We" are in-your-face and exciting. "Bah Bah Bah Patriots" is a typical L'antietam jam, combining elements of skate punk and Bells On Trike style indie-emo to produce something completely different. Everything after "Everyone Loves Raymond (Not The Town In NH) is foreshadowing. The next release by L'antietam would be "Heady Chugs and Heavy Nugs Split With Kidcrash", a two-song effort that is barebones hardcore riffage with minimal bullshit. Let's just say it goes to 11, and the last 1/3 of "Family" is a foreword to those sweet licks.
At times, L'antietam's critics have said that the majority of their music sounds the same. Ever since "We Like It When The Red Water Comes Out", their first effort, the band has been slowly maturing and becoming more deliberate in their approach. I'd describe them now as a hi-fi version of Daniel Striped Tiger, but the duality of "Paper" and "Plastic" showcase their ability to craft ingenious tunes worthy of high praise. L'antietam is not like Neil Perry, they are certainly not like Capsule, and they are nowhere near Dawn Treader in terms of the music they make. But they don't have to be, they've spent their lives carving out a niche for themselves in the genre that many seem to love. They've even started influencing imitation bands. To this day, they are still creating a diverse array of music that satiates all my tastes. This year they are slated to release three new records: a split with Loma Prieta, an ep entitled "Dark Brew", and a full-length due in fall. I couldn't be more excited.
|07-25-2009, 08:58 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2008
that being said i will most certainly be a benefactor of this thread, kinda wish caveman or bardonodude would make one as well. keep up the good work dude.
|07-25-2009, 09:27 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2005
|07-26-2009, 06:16 PM||#7 (permalink)|
you know what it is
Join Date: Mar 2008
Oh, Smog. I still think it's hilarious he's involved with Joanna Newsom. I downloaded Knock Knock quite awhile ago and haven't really taken to it yet, I'll check out A River Aint Too Much To Love and see if it's any better.
|07-27-2009, 09:09 AM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2005
J Dilla - Donuts
Light My Fire
Time: The Donut of the Heart
Stepson of the Clapper
The Twister (Huh, What)
Two Can Win
One for Ghost
Dilla Says Go
Last Donut of the Night
This album is hard for me to talk about, because what can I say about a man who has influenced my life so heavily without asking for anything in return? James Dewitt Yancey is the man I have modeled myself after, and has played a huge role in shaping the way I see the world. One of the most important things I took from Dilla that not many others have is a sense of modesty. Dilla constantly maintained a strong sense of humility, even while redefining an entire genre and shaping the future of hip hop. As a part of the Ummah, Dilla pioneered the jazz influenced, soul heavy Native Tongues-style of beat making. A maverick in his own right, Dilla's influence is only starting to be acknowledged in the years following his death. But if you're a true hip hop head, you know about Dilla through his contributions to Phat Kat, Slum Village, Guilty Simpson, A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Kanye West, Soulquarians, Royce Da 5'9, Frank-n-Dank, The Roots, Proof, Pete Rock, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, The Pharcyde, Janet Jackson, and De La Soul.
For being one of the greatest producers in history, Dilla is severely underrated and under appreciated by the mainstream. His accomplishments include four solo albums, two hip hop classics with Slum Village, a collaboration with Otis Jackson Jr. (better known as Madlib), and an absolutely massive catalogue of singles, guest appearances, production credits, and collaborations that span a lifetime. Dilla is perhaps the first undisputed "King of the Beats", and his last album also happens to be my favorite, but more importantly, the most influential to my development as a person.
I started listening to J Dilla right around my one-year anniversary on mb. I was fourteen years old and just coming off a long dedication to blues and soul music when I started to explore the genre of rap/hip hop. The groups that immediately struck me were A Tribe Called Quest, Mac Dre, and various other west coast rappers that I've since forgotten about. Eventually, I found myself staring at the vast catalogue of Stones Throw Records. Still relatively small at that time, Stones Throw had just announced the signings of Aloe Blacc, J Rocc, Roc C, Cue, and Georgia Anne Muldrow, as well as a collaboration between Madvillain and Adult Swim that would eventually give the world "Chrome Children". But none of that is really important, as I somehow managed to find J Dilla's "Donuts" amidst the hoopla of expansion.
What makes "Donuts" different from Dilla's other outings is that it was released only three days before his death, with the majority of the recordings being done in hospitals around Detroit and at his own home. For beat-junkies like me, “Donuts” is basically a ghetto version of Mozart’s Requiem. It blends soul, funk, jazz, hip hop, r&b, and rap into a modern masterpiece.
For starters, this album flows better than any other I've ever heard. The beats are like a patchwork of Dilla's youth in Detroit, where he was exposed to the pantheon of black music at a very young age. Aside from the intro, "Workinonit" is the first real track. Clocking in at 2:57, Dilla utilizes a sick bass line and incorporates raw guitar hooks. The inclusion of unorthodox sounds is one of Dilla's hallmarks, and there are definitely some strange shit here. "Waves" is a track that moves you, it feels like it's pulling you deeper and deeper into the sea with its spacey vocal hook and steady beat. "Light My Fire" is only :36, but it's one of my favorite beats of all. Based around Africa's "Light My Fire", it's raw.
Now we come to the heart of the album, "The New" is Dilla at his best. Taking funky horns and stank ass beats to create something entirely different. The transition to "Stop" is flawless, and the sensuous Dionne Warwick sample is sexy and beautiful. Dilla's message comes through clearly in this one, as the whole song is based around the phrase "You better stop, and think about what you're doing". When a sample saying "Mad with a passion" flashes into your ears, you get that Dilla isn't your ordinary producer. "People" is heavy on the tom-toms and odd breathing samples that make it sound tribal and macabre, that is until Eddie Kendricks breaks in and moans "Say it, say it, say it, MY PEOPLEEEEEEEEEEEE, my people!".
"The Diff'rence" is another Dilla classic, as he flips up Kool and the Gang's "Fruitman", melding it into a euphoric beat that leaves your heart in pieces. "Mash" is best known as being a Galt McDermot track with Zappa vocals over it. I love the MF DOOM/Guilty Simpson rhymes over it in Peanut Butter Wolf's "Zombie B-Ball War" album, and the collab between the two shows how diverse artists still sound great over Dilla's timeless beats. Next up is "Time: The Donut of the Heart", a fantastic guitar groove with Jackson Five vocals spliced in. Their track "All I Do Is Think Of You" never sounded better, ya dig?
"Glazed" sounds like a game show fanfare wack attack, but what do you expect from a track based off Lou Rawl's work? The next two tracks, "Airworks" and "Lightworks" especially, are two of Dilla's finest. Taking an L.V. Johnson soul sample and manipulating it into "Airworks" is no easy feat, but Dilla makes it happen. "Lightworks" is described as one of Dilla's personal favorites, because he took obscure, avant-garde classical music to create an instant classic of his own. "Twister (Huh, What)" is awesome, with its twangy guitar hook and sirens blaring. Stevie Wonder serves as a perfect intro before things get hectic. Smokey Robinson's music is used in "One Eleven" which revolves around a sample from a Run-DMC live album that features a man saying "Aww yeah!". "Two Can Win" has Dilla mixing an old Sylvers hit, and "Don't Cry" is one of the best songs on this album. The perfect blend of soul hooks and pacing make it a track you can't help to sing/dance along to.
If you thought Dilla only dealt with soul/funk/jazz, then you're sorely mistaken. He makes use of Australian pop's Tin Tin in "Anti-American Graffiti", an oddly satisfying track. "Geek Down" drills your brain with abrasive sounds and constant horns. It reminds me of a soundtrack for the daily life in Detroit's rough inner city. "Thunder" continues where "Geek Down" left off, as it features harsh piano and horn samples, with steady thumping drums.
Once "Gobstopper" starts, it's like stupid doo doo dumb time in my brain. Easily the best beat on this album, it instantly brings a huge smile to my face. Following "Gobstopper" is "One For Ghost", which was made for Ghostface Killa's album "Fishscale". "Dilla Says Go" is right up there with "Gobstopper", and the title has become a battle cry for Dilla fans worldwide. "Walkinonit" is a mellow track that is pretty sweet. "The Factory" is by far Dilla's funkiest, albeit weirdest, track on "Donuts".
"U-Love" is another favorite of mine, mainly because I'm a sucker for love songs from old soul singers. "Hi" starts out with a seductive female voice sample from some old blaxploitation flick, and then promptly kicks into jazz standard mode. "Bye" is famous because Common has used it. "Last Donut Of The Night" has an old Regal Theatre live song sample in it that perfectly describes Dilla's rise to fame in Detroit. Finally, capping off what would be Dilla's last first-hand production on earth is "Donuts (Intro), a song that ends with him saying "I don't care".
And there you have it, Dilla's "Donuts" has always been the crowning piece in Dilla's career. He wasn't just a producer, he was a loyal friend, a father, a loving son, and an amazingly generous performer. Long after you and I will be dead, Dilla's fame will still be growing if only for the legendary performances he gave in a wheelchair due to his incurable blood illness and lupus. I am only left in awe after listening to Dilla's work, stunned at the talent of just one man.
|07-27-2009, 09:35 AM||#9 (permalink)|
you know what it is
Join Date: Mar 2008
The fact the he was able to produce some of the best instrumental/sample albums I've ever heard while sick in the hospital really speaks in this man's genius. Mad respect yo. When I heard Lightworks on the new DOOM album I nearly shat.
|07-29-2009, 12:38 PM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2005
Magic Sam - West Side Soul
That's All I Need
I Need You So Bad
I Feel So Good (I Wanna Boogie)
All Your Love
I Don't Want No Woman
Sweet Home Chicago
I Found a New Love
Every Night and Every Day
My Love Will Never Die
Mama Mama Talk to Your Daughter
I Don't Want No Woman
Alright, let me start out by saying that blues is one of oldest joys. I'm not going to go into the complex relationship between the blues and me, mainly because I could talk about it for the rest of my life, but also because it is not necessarily vital when talking about one of the greatest electric blues albums ever recorded. What I will say is that given where and how I grew up, the blues and I were destined for each other since the day I was born. I've listened to so many different styles and traveled to so many different regional hotspots that I have a hard time deciding what I like and what I love. If I was pressured into saying which group of artists I like the most, however, the answer would almost certainly be the masters of the Mississippi Delta blues. If Chicago is what put blues on the map in terms of widespread recognition and popularity, then it is the Mississippi Delta that paved the way for it to do so. This particular album is one of only two that Samuel "Magic Sam" Gene Maghett, who was born in Grenada, Mississippi, ever recorded. To me, it is a paragon of the shift from traditional Delta blues to the electrified Chicago sound.
Now, when I talk to the blues enthusiasts I've known since I was a young child our conversations usually revolve around the current state of blues, which is unfortunately dismal in many people's minds, as well as some of our old favorites. Both Magic Sam's influence on future generations and the importance of "West Side Soul" are two of my favorite topics of discussion. The fact that Magic Sam is overshadowed by some of his better-known contemporaries, such as Otis Rush and Buddy Guy, does not diminish the fact that he was one of the greatest showmen ever. His distinct singing style and wild on-stage antics were well known throughout Chicago, and led to him becoming one of the most popular acts. Not having the technical skill as a B.B. King nor the flamboyance of a Bo Diddley, Magic Sam relied on pouring every ounce of his soul into his songs and produced some of the most heartfelt performances of his day.
"West Side Soul" is an album that is all Magic Sam. One of the benefits of Sam's sound was that it was instantly recognizable. No one could reproduce the harmonic tones and sweet licks of Sam's guitar work, and it was this divergence from the typical 12 bar blues that gave him his popularity. It has been said that "West Side Soul", along with a few other seminal albums, is responsible for ushering a new era of blues in Chicago. Indeed, much of the Chicago sound owes itself to Magic Sam's energetic musical stylings.
At first listen, "That's All I Need" provides a great introduction to Magic Sam. Only :30 seconds in and you're bombarded by an absolutely intense wail.
When I first met you, you looked so fine
I said pretty baby, oh yes I did, I'm gonna make you mine
Just give me love, OOOOOOOOOOOOHOHOOO give me loooooove, that's all I need
Yes, this is how Magic Sam sings, and yes, this is why he is one of my favorite musicians. He's always maintaining that swinging guitar to accompany his sweetly soulful voice. The lyrics are inventive and grand, reminiscent of the way things were in blues's heyday. You're instantly transported to the wild 60's and there's nothing you can do about it.
To supplement more traditional blues fans, and to show how versatile he is, Sam switches from euphoric soul to ragtime Chicago blues. Imagine being in a blues bar on a cool night after a sweltering Midwestern day, and a 20 year old kid strolls in and blows you away with bittersweet guitar licks and a booming voice. This is what "I Need You So Bad" sounds like. What's even more impressive is that Magic Sam was able to write and perform the blues without having a severe drug habit, and without being an alcoholic, and that's what set him apart. His love for performing and love for the guitar is legendary, and he serves as a perfect role model for guitar players worldwide.
"I Feel So Good (I Wanna Boogie)" was one of Sam's earliest hits, and it's easy to see why even on the recording.
Sam's face-melting bellows and bluegrassish riffs are indicative of just how amazing this man was. Touring Europe and the U.K. before he even had a recording out, Magic Sam was the type of performer people came from miles around to see. "I Feel So Good (I Wanna Boogie)" is my favorite track on this entire album. I love the way it sounds and the way it makes you feel like jumping up and dancing all night long.
"All Of Your Love" gives you the chills as it socks you in the gut. Sam's guitar playing really shines in this song, showing that those of us who play without picks are just as valid as those who do.
I really don't see why Magic Sam isn't one of the most popular bluesmen in the world. He was just as inventive and talented as Muddy, the Wolf, or Buddy ever were.
"I Don't Want No Woman" is another one of my favorite blues songs. Sam's grudge against the lesser gender is wonderfully exhibited through his outlandish lyrics and meaningful gripes. This song is a perfect embodiment of the Chicago style, with its seamless blend of soul, blues, country, and bluegrass. I'd give anything to have seen this song live, especially during Sam's day.
You used to boss your men, now that I won't oblige
Before I let you boss me I'll LAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY down and die,
I don't want no woman, tellin' me how to live my life
Yes I'm gonna leave ya darlin', because I don't want no wife
With lyrics like these, "I Don't Want No Woman" is a song that all guys can relate to.
Next is "Sweet Home Chicago", and Magic Sam does this song justice by recording one of the best versions since Robert Johnson's original. "I Found A New Love" is Sam's best lyrical effort yet.
So now if you hear me baby,
Make sure you understand
I found this wonderful woman, and you can have your selfish man,
Because I love my new love, she makes me feel so gay
But I really don't mind it, because I like to feel this way
"Every Night and Every Day" is one of my favorite love songs of all time, which may surprise some because of my knowledge of soul and the fact that it's on a blues album. Sam's voice fluctuates between old black fieldworker and slick, big city performer flawlessly. Sam's awesome licks really make this song go from good to great, and remind me of B.B. King's style.
"Lookin' Good" is a driving song if I ever heard one. The type of music usually reserved for dance halls and hoedowns is channeled by Sam is this rootsy instrumental. "My Love Will Never Die" follows in the footsteps of "Every Night and Every Day" in terms of lyrics, but the music is way different. Sam's experimental rhythm and chord progressions give this song a different feel than the rest of the album. Darker and more eccentric, it's a proto-soul classic.
"Mama Mama, Talk To Your Daughter" has a great rhythm and progression. The standard 12 bar blues is masterfully used by Sam in this song about a rogue girlfriend that's plagued him.
"West Side Soul" is part of this list for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the amazing Magic Sam's vocals. Without his influence, blues isn't anywhere near where it's at today in terms of popularity and style.
Last edited by anticipation; 07-29-2009 at 12:56 PM.