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Old 06-03-2010, 06:46 PM   #21 (permalink)
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23. The YMD—Excuse Me, This Is The Yah Mos Def (2008)

Speaking of party music, Excuse Me, This Is The Yah Mos Def is another great throw down album. Probably minus the drugs though since these two guys are straightedge-type vegans who most likely abstain. Irregardless, this is the the kind of cathartic, yell-at-the-top-of-your-lungs album that will probably become a staple of your music collection as we approach the apocalypse.

The YMD are from my adoptive home city of Philadelphia and Philly's whole messy freak out musical aesthetic really seeps into this album despite the fact that it's of a genre—hip hop—that's normally unaffected by these things. But then this is a different kind of hip hop album. For one thing, the samples and name-dropping mostly reference hardcore. And the flow is intentionally off the beat. And the production sounds like your friend's basement. Hell even the album's running time, clocking in at a lean 27 minutes, is not the hip hop standard.

In some ways the group The YMD most remind me of are early Beastie Boys. Not so much the Beastie Boys we all know, but some alternate "what if" version of Beastie Boys that came into existence twenty years later than the actual Beastie Boys. The hardcore pedigree and bratty attitude are there, but the rawness has been taken up a few notches. And that's not bad thing.

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Old 06-07-2010, 08:38 PM   #22 (permalink)
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22. Unsane—Occupational Hazard (1998)

There are some people in this world who just can't handle bad news. When the announcement is made that everyone on Earth is doomed, these are the people who are going to snap, chug a gallon of whiskey and go for a joyride downtown, randomly firing a machine gun out the window of the car as they swerve all over the the sidewalk at ninety miles an hour. This album is for them.

Unsane have made a career out of making music that sounds like distilled violence, and this album is that in it's purest form. Sure there are heavier bands out there—noisier bands, faster bands, whatever—but there's something about Unsane that just makes them sound so… aggressive. It could be the factory-like pounding of the drums. It could be the locomotive chugging of the bass. It could be the circular saw grinding of the guitar. But I'm pretty sure it's Chris Spencer's voice that's the most essential part of the equation. His barked, distorted vocals are the perfect thing for this music and I cannot imagine a single way in which they could be improved, their throat-ripping intensity sounds like it's coming straight from the very heart of anger.

Violence might make for a poor solution to the inequities of an existence tied to a dying planet, but for 38 minutes Occupational Hazard somehow manages to make the case in it's favor. For a moment it makes you wonder, in a universe capable of snuffing out so much life in such an arbitrary way, maybe violence is simply the most natural expression of the state of things.

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Old 06-08-2010, 07:35 PM   #23 (permalink)
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21. Swans—Love of Life (1992)

Let's face it: this whole Moon-crashing-into-the-Earth situation I've come up with here isn't exactly uplifting. It's a bummer to a degree far above and beyond some guy at a party cornering you and telling you all about his divorce. It's the downer of all downers when it comes down to it. That being the case, how could I make this list and not have Swans represented somewhere?

For reasons that are unclear to me, this seems to one of M. Gira and company's least well-known albums. It's strange because this is probably my favorite by them. There's just so much going on here that I find myself totally immersed every time I listen to it. Some songs, like the title track, have the kind of pounding industrial beats that many people seem to associate with Swans, while other tracks are quite folky and reminiscent of their album The Burning World. Experimental interludes and snippets of found-sounds crop up frequently but then just as often bleed into tracks which have almost a pop structure to them. Not surprisingly there's the requisite brutality here but there is also sweetness, like memories of better times that have been cruelly torn away—even more so than on their other albums this is played up with Jarboe's etherial singing as a counterpoint to Gira's Johnny-Cash-on-suicide-watch vocalization.

This isn't simply another depressing album in the long line of depressing albums out there. It's so much more complex than that and so full of life in a strange way. It's filled with loss and regret and pain, but also tiny little glimpses of hope and triumph. It's an album that leaves you with a strange sense of longing for some kind of past that doesn't necessarily even belong to you. And those handful of sunlit peaks are what make the inevitable plunge back down into the abyss all the more harrowing.

Below is "Her", one of my favorite songs on Love of Life. I don't know why but there's something I find incredibly haunting about the combination of the music and long sample of the woman's voice at the end.

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Old 06-08-2010, 08:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I just checked out some other songs from this album. I like it. Kind of like Death in June, only better. =)
Oh, and the heavy part of 'Her' made me jump in my seat. I'll definately have to check this band out.
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:34 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Janszoon -- your # 21 and 22 are kind of blowing my mind.

I've been meaning to check out the Unsane album for a long time but I haven't heard the thing. your review is confirmation that I need to.

On the Swans album you wrote about: it's just fu@king uncanny because that is my favorite Swans album (that I know of: I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of thier music) and I have been half-assed searching for a used copy of that CD for years. I know that it's something I need to have a physical copy of.
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Old 06-09-2010, 02:46 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I just checked out some other songs from this album. I like it. Kind of like Death in June, only better. =)
Oh, and the heavy part of 'Her' made me jump in my seat. I'll definately have to check this band out.
Oh Swans are much better than Death in June. One of my all time favorite bands. From this 90's period I would also recommend The Great Annihilator (1995) and especially Soundtracks for the Blind (1996/97) their final album.
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Old 06-09-2010, 04:10 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I just checked out some other songs from this album. I like it. Kind of like Death in June, only better. =)
Oh, and the heavy part of 'Her' made me jump in my seat. I'll definately have to check this band out.
Heh. Yeah, I love how that part just kind of jumps out like that.

Death in June are one of those bands I've always heard of but never actually listened to. Sounds like I should check them out.

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Janszoon -- your # 21 and 22 are kind of blowing my mind.

I've been meaning to check out the Unsane album for a long time but I haven't heard the thing. your review is confirmation that I need to.

On the Swans album you wrote about: it's just fu@king uncanny because that is my favorite Swans album (that I know of: I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of thier music) and I have been half-assed searching for a used copy of that CD for years. I know that it's something I need to have a physical copy of.
That's funny. Great minds, you know.

Not only is that Unsane album good but really all their stuff is worth checking out—their 90s output at least, I still haven't gotten around to giving either of their albums from the 00s a listen.

As far as Love of Life goes, it's unfortunately really hard to track down because it's out of print. I had the cassette for years and years but was never able to track down the CD until an ex-girlfriend of mine somehow managed to find it for me for Christmas.

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Oh Swans are much better than Death in June. One of my all time favorite bands. From this 90's period I would also recommend The Great Annihilator (1995) and especially Soundtracks for the Blind (1996/97) their final album.
I love both of those albums. White Light From the Mouth of Infinity and Die Tur Ist Zu are amazing as well.
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:34 AM   #28 (permalink)
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As far as Love of Life goes, it's unfortunately really hard to track down because it's out of print. I had the cassette for years and years but was never able to track down the CD until an ex-girlfriend of mine somehow managed to find it for me for Christmas.
I just checked Amazon and I can get a used CD for about $40.
That'll probably have to wait. Maybe I'll survive long enough after the moon hits the Earth to do some serious looting in search of a copy. MP3s will have to do for now
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Old 06-09-2010, 02:07 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I'm still trying to get into Love of Life due to your previous recommendation. I definitely think it'll grow on me, but it's taking its time.
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:35 PM   #30 (permalink)
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I'm still trying to get into Love of Life due to your previous recommendation. I definitely think it'll grow on me, but it's taking its time.
I'm kind of surprised to hear that. It was an instant love affair for me. That was almost exactly 15 years ago to the month and the love hasn't faded yet.
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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

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25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


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