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Old 03-25-2011, 05:25 PM   #21 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starrynight View Post
The song by Yuk definitely takes off nicely in the chorus.

Another good melody is probably the Silhouette song by Ceremony, I like the choice of video style too. The other song might sound a bit more dirge like though. Shoegaze at it's best, whether more noise or serene in style, can have good melody.
Yuck's album is incredible, certainly worth checking out if you like that song.

Shoegaze is always at it's best with good melody, but also with good atmosphere.
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Originally Posted by Stu View Post
Good write ups on The Cure, Bad Brains and FSA albums man, three bonified gems right there. Some great bands mentioned in the Shoegaze pieces too. Keep it up.
Cheers man. Gonna try and update this and get some more reviews in soon if I can get the time, kind of busy with a lot of stuff at the moment.
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Old 03-26-2011, 12:16 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I love Yuck... even if they have an awful band name that made me dread a first encounter with their music. Yuck won me over, right from the raucous guitar lead-in to the album's first song, Get Away.

Yuck reminds me of the shambling guitar fuzzed, smart ass, noise pop/shoegaze bands of the '90s like Pavement, the Replacements & Dinosaur Jr. Yuck is the most self assured debut album I've heard in awhile and is bright shining light in a wasteland of mediocre album releases by big name bands in the first three musically bleak months of 2011.

Yuck makes me remember what a great decade the 90s were for music.

In hindsight, the '90s may turn out to be the most creative decade in the history of rock music. I'm still discovering unheralded bands that put out 2 or 3 first rate albums in the '90s and then vanished into thin air before anyone ever discovered they were around. The was such a plethora of aspiring bands during the '90s that many of the better bands got lost in the shuffle of the marketplace.

From my perspective, it was the music industry's prevailing $18.99 price for a compact disc in the '90s retail marketplace that deterred a lot of potential music fans from purchasing unheard albums by unknown artists.

I've gotten a second chance to listen to many lesser known '90s bands only because of the advent of relatively inexpensive digital MP3 file, which has now become the standard product of the retail music marketplace. The 99 cent digital download & the $7.99 digital MP3 album may have been the downfall of music mega-labels & the bricks & mortar retail music store, but it's the best thing that ever happened to music fans.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
 
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Hüsker Dü - Candy Apple Grey (1986)



Track Listing:
1. Crystal
2. Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
3. I Don't Know For Sure
4. Sorry Somehow
5. Too Far Down
6. Hardly Getting Over It
7. Dead Set On Destruction
8. Eiffel Tower High
9. No Promise Have I Made
10. All This I've Done For You

Candy Apple Grey represented a pivotal moment in Hüsker Dü's career. While moments of more pronounced songwriting and melody had appeared on their previous two albums, 1985's Flip Your Wig and New Day Rising, here on their major-label debut the band moved further away from their punk roots and provided a clear template for alternative rock to come over the next decade or so. So what does Candy Apple Grey mean to me? For a start was my first real exposure to Husker Du and is still the only album of theirs that I own a physical copy of, so it has that sentimental value to me. There are plenty of other reasons of course which I will soon reveal.

The album opens with Bob Mould's 'Crystal', some classic hardcore-punk-infused Hüsker Dü which picks up where the band left off. This song is the most aggressive and intense track on the album and featuring Mould bellowing lyrics like "When Civilization falls in its grave. Technology throws on the dirt. You realize the finest things in life. Are the ones that can never be hurt". Bob Mould clearly means business on this opening track, he sounds like he really needed to get something off his chest, but this ferocity doesn't last for long. The album takes a turn for the melodic with drummer Grant Hart's 'Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely', one of the most definitive Hüsker Dü tracks. This track clearly demonstrates Grant's melodic and pop-influenced approach to songwriting and really gives a good indication of the direction that the band were taking on this album. Bob Mould follows suit with 'I Don't Know For Sure' featuring some killer vocal hooks over some catchy guitar riffs, with Bob refraining the line "I don't know for sure" on every second line during the verses. This repetition of the line gives an indication of Bob being uncertain with the direction in which his life is going and what the future will bring. The album tempo starts to slow down a bit for Hart's 'Sorry Somehow'. Hart's vocals here are at their most melodic and are somewhat uplifting to listen to despite lyrics such as "There's no need to talk to you, well to know what's on your mind. There's no need to see you either, no, I'm just being kind". The guitars on this track are backed up nicely by bright-sounding keyboards giving the song a nice uplifting sound. Juxtaposing this quite nicely is the next song 'Too Far Down' which features Bob Mould pouring his heart and soul over an acoustic guitar. This is Bob Mould at his most painfully honest and exposed, singing some deeply introspective and downbeat lyrics such as "If it is so easy to be happy. Why am I so down? All I can do is sit and wonder if it's going to end. Or if I should just go away forever". There's something very uncomfortable about catching a glimpse of this man's soul.

'Hardly Getting Over It' continues the downbeat mood into the second half of the album. Here Mould addresses the prospect of time moving on and losing loved ones along the way, over some beautifully melancholic guitar refrains. This is a very downbeat affair, and lines such as "My parents, they just wonder when they both are going to die. And what do I do when they die?" make you think to yourself about your own mortality and the prospect of people that you care deeply about dying and leaving this world. This track is really the highlight of the album for me. Grant Hart extinguishes the heavy mood of the previous song with the catchy and uplifting 'Dead Set On Destruction' which features some nice groovy guitar riffs from Bob Mould. On this album you can clearly see the difference between the two in terms of songwriting, Grant's songs are quite distinctively melodic and somewhat uplifting while Bob's songwriting is more aggressive and more introspective at times. Despite these differences the pair complement each other almost perfectly. Of course we can't leave out bass player Greg Norton, who provides a key role in glueing their whole sound together into a magnificent force. The energetic 'Eiffel Tower High' displays a more upbeat side to Bob Mould with some nice cleverly tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as "And I scream, ice cream, I scream, I scream 'Merry Eiffel Tower High'". This song also proves that Bob is also well capable of writing catchy and melodic numbers to match Grant Hart and gives a good indication of the more melodic approach to songwriting that Bob would take on the following album Warehouse: Songs And Stories as well as his post-Hüsker Dü band Sugar. 'No Promise Have I Made' is a powerful and emotional piano-led song by Grant Hart. This song builds nicely into an explosive climax just before the end with Hart screaming "No promise have I made" over some full-on instrumentation. I nice way to round the song off. The final track 'All This I've Done For You' ends the album with a bang, with some killer vocal hooks from Mould and once again lyrically coming to terms with growing older and figuring out where his life is going: "Now I'm a little bit older. And I'm not a hell of a lot wiser. So I've gotta sit down and contemplate it". The song is backed-up spectacularly by Mould's energetic and squalling guitar, Hart's pounding drums and Norton's fluid bass holding it all together. Even though the three members had their differences and didn't personally get along with each other, when they played together they clicked and formed the tightest unit you could imagine and were so much more than the sum of their parts.

Although this isn't a concept album as such there does seem to be a reoccurring theme throughout the album. The album gives a great insight into growing older as an adult and having to face the consequences and the uncertainty that comes with it, such as losing direction of your life and figuring out who you are really meant to be. This is a situation I often find myself in and I often worry about what direction to take in life and where I will be in 10 years time. This is one of the main reasons why this album means a lot to me. Overall this album gives an excellent personal glimpse of the band and is a key album in shaping the sound of the American alternative rock scene that would continue well into the 90's.

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Old 03-30-2011, 09:01 AM   #24 (permalink)
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The opening track from their self-titled debut. It perfectly channels the spirit of late 80's/early 90's alternative rock to create a belter of a tune.



Good old Polly Jean is back with us with her best album in a decade and this song is probably the highlight of the Let England Shake.
Yuck have managed to impress me, which is all the more convenient as I've been looking for a new band whose debut came out this year to latch onto just so I can say that I can

Good to hear a new Peej track as well. Let England Shake was one of the albums I was most looking forward to getting this year, and I still haven't bloody got round to it.

Good journal sir. Keep up the good work eh.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:07 PM   #25 (permalink)
 
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Shoegazing In The 21st Century: Part 3

Asobi Seksu
Asobi Seksu are a band which formed in New York in 2004 and is focused around vocalist and keyboardist Yuki Chikudate and guitarist and vocalist James Hanna. This band have combined shoegaze and dream-pop influences together to create a dreamy and lush textured sound, and are one of the main bands responsible for popularising shoegaze and dream-pop in towards the latter half of the 00's. What really sets them apart from other bands doing the rounds is Yuki's tendency to write and sing some songs in Japanese which adds an exotic feel to their music. The band have released 4 studio albums to date: Asobi Seksu (2004), Citrus (2006), Hush (2009) and more recently Fluorescence (2011).


Bethany Curve
Bethany Curve formed as far back as 1994 just as the original wave of shoegaze had fallen from the glare of the media. Nevertheless these Californians plowed on releasing two albums in the late 90's, Skies A Crossed Sky (1996) and Gold (1998). The band really hit their stride after the turn of the millennium when they released their 3rd album You Brought Us Here (2001) , a dark and heavily atmospheric offering sounding like Slowdive on downers. They followed this up with the excellent Flaxen EP (2004) which further built on their atmospheric sound with added beauty. Alas Flaxen is still the last release from this band but their long delayed 4th album, interestingly titled Murder, will apparently soon be gracing us with it's presence. Also in the works is a remastered edition of their 1994 demo Mee-eaux.


Amusement Parks On Fire
Originally started in Nottingham, UK in 2004 as the solo project of Michael Feerick who played all instruments on their debut album Amusment Parks On Fire (2004). Their debut combined passionate and melodic vocals with a heavily textured sound to great effect. The band had expanded to a full line-up before their blistering second album Out Of The Angeles (2006) which further build on their debut and presented us with clearer production and a huge, dense, powerful yet melodic sound. The band seemed to lose their way somewhat with their 3rd album Road Eyes (2010), which sounds like a slightly miscalculated attempt to crack the American market and perhaps grab onto the coat-tails of Silversun Pickups, resulting in a slightly musically confusing album. Hopefully the band will return to the promise they showed on Out Of The Angeles for their follow-up.

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Old 04-23-2011, 04:58 PM   #26 (permalink)
 
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Some upcoming releases I'm very much looking forward to.

Airiel - yet to be titled EP
Release Date: ????

Their first release in 4 years will soon be with us at the start of the summer. Whether this album is a precursor to a new album later in the year remains to be seen but it's great to have something from them. The only preview of what is to come is this tantilisingly short snippet:



Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Release Date: 3rd May

Yeah I know it's leaked but I'm going to wait until the official release date so I can pop on down to my local music store and get it on CD, then bring it home and listen to it for the first time. It's one of those important releases that you really have to do traditionally. The first single released from it is fantastic and has me really excited for this album.



My Morning Jacket - Circuital
Release Date: 31st May

The follow-up to 2008's mixed-bag Evil Urges. Judging by the amazing title track that they made available for free on their website, this album could be a return to the epicness of Z and It Still Moves. Really looking forward to this one.



The Antlers - Burst Apart
Release Date: 10th May

The follow-up to 2009's heartbreaking and beautiful Hospice. The album cover for this album is one of the best I've seen in a long time, hopefully the music will live up to it *fingers crossed*. Here's a very interesting sneak preview:

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Old 05-03-2011, 04:04 PM   #27 (permalink)
 
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Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap (1998)



Track Listing:

1. It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career
2. Sleep The Clock Around
3. Is It Wicked Not To Care
4. Ease Your Feet In The Sea
5. A Summer Wasting
6. Seymour Stein
7. A Space Boy Dream
8. Dirty Dream Number Two
9. The Boy With The Arab Strap
10. Chickfactor
11. Simple Things
12. The Rollercoaster Ride

The Boy With The Arab Strap was the third album from Scottish indie favourites Belle and Sebastian and with this album they further built on the bittersweet laments of their first two albums Tigermilk and If You're Feeling Sinister. The most significant difference here on this album is the decision to record a selection of songs with an orchestra, giving the album a very nice widescreen, cinematic feel to it. This was also the first album to feature songs from other band members, besides main-man Stuart Murdoch, giving Isobel Campbell and guitarist Stevie Jackson their chance to shine.

The album begins in much the same style as what featured on their previous albums. The opening song 'It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career' continues the tradition of Stuart Murdoch's poetic and literate song lyrics playing a major part in their music. The song loosely seems to deal with some unfortunate individuals and what would have become of them had they not suffered a crippling blow to their lives. The opening two lines "He had a stroke at the age of 24. It could have been a brilliant career" set the tone very nicely for this song. But as ever with Stuart Murdoch this song could have an entirely different meaning. Things take a turn for the slightly more upbeat with the delightful and memorable 'Sleep The Clock Around'. The song's gentle yet infectious melodies provided by Stuart and Isobel are backed nicely by some offbeat keyboard sounds and a driving drum-machine rhythm which gives the song a nice quirky edge. The brass toward the end of the song adds a nice dramatic conclusion. Following this is the gentle and breezy Isobel Campbell song 'Is It Wicked Not To Care', a simple yet effective number in which Isobel's soft vocals add a nice innocent charm to the song. The inclusion of other member's songs on this album, especially Isobel's contribution here, adds that extra dynamic and variety that Tigermilk and If You're Feeling Sinister didn't have. It feels like you're listening to a real collaborative effort, even though the relations within the band at the time were less than friendly. The next two songs 'Ease Your Feet In The Sea' and 'A Summer Wasting' sit remarkably well alongside each other and although both are relatively simple Belle and Sebastian songs, some nice touches of strings add some extra character and spice to them. 'A Summer Wasting' captures the feeling of the freedom and boredom of summer holidays off school or university very nicely with lyrics such as "I spent the summer wasting. The time was passed so pleasantly". The sad and gorgeous opening chords of Stevie Jackson's 'Seymour Stein' invoke a very melancholic and nostalgic feeling. It's the type of song that could sound so well while watching reels of old Super 8 footage or soundtracking some bittersweet, coming of age movie. The cinematic feel of this song is heightened by the beautifully bittersweet ending where insistent keyboard lines and wandering guitar lines play out to the sound of an airplane taking off. A very moving moment in the album.

The album is broken up nicely by 'A Space Boy Dream', a fascinating product of Stuart Murdoch's imagination. This spoken word tale, over some nice sleepy instrumentation, tells of a dream he had where he was travelling to Mars along with his father and his sister. While listening to this track you can picture everything perfectly in your own head, it's almost like Stuart is painting a picture in your mind. Some great touches of organ and wah-wah guitar add a nice funky dynamic towards the end of the track. One of the highlights of the album for me is the fantastic 'Dirty Dream Number Two'. The opening lyrics "I'm lucky, I can open the door and I can walk down the street. Unlucky, I've got nowhere to go and so I follow my feet" resound remarkably well with myself. There is this sense of freedom and boredom that appeals to me somewhat. These lyrics set us up for an unforgettable and breathtakingly melodic song, backed superbly by a string section and is undoubtedly one of their finest moments. The momentum continues with the title-track 'The Boy With The Arab Strap', one of their most well-known songs. This is a sprightly, infectious and delightfully upbeat song and contains the unforgettable line "Colour my life with the chaos of trouble", as referenced in the film 300 Days Of Summer. The transition from this song to the next song 'Chickfactor' works remarkably well. The fade-out of 'The Boy With The Arab Strap' ties in beautifully with the melancholic-sounding piano chords of the intro to Stevie Jackson's 'Chickfactor'. Like his other song on the album 'Seymour Stein' this also carries a similar sense of nostalgia and cinematic beauty. The string melodies and piano form one sweeping and beautiful entity and back up Stevies retrained vocals perfectly. The short and sweet 'Simple Things' adds some dynamic towards the end of the album, with Stuart Murdoch's soaring melodic vocals and chiming guitar setting us up for the finale. The slow-burning closing track 'The Rollercoaster Ride' is probably the finest song the band have ever produced. This is Belle and Sebastian at their most bittersweet and widescreen, it really brings the album to a remarkable conclusion and sums up the album perfectly. You could spend ages reading into the lyrics of this song trying to decipher their true meaning or at least try to form your own interpretation of them, "Hey people, looking out the window at the city below. Hey people, looking out the window, you'll be gone tomorrow". The song builds to a beautifully cinematic conclusion with piano and brass, and leaves you feeling rather satisfied indeed. You might even want to hit the back button and listen to the song again.

For me this album was Belle and Sebastian phase one at the height of their powers. The inter-band relationships that were becoming strained during the recording of this album would have some degree of effect on the recording of the next album Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant, a dark, sad and brutally honest follow-up. Although the band went on to record two brilliant albums in the 2000's, Dear Catastrophe Waitress and The Life Pursuit, this is the Belle and Sebastian that I love best and is one of the most cherished albums in my music collection.

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Old 05-06-2011, 03:58 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Love Arab Strap. Beautiful is an over used word, but it's so apt for this album. 'Seymour Stein' and 'Rollercoaster Ride' are etched onto my soul.
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Old 05-06-2011, 05:55 PM   #29 (permalink)
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On the topic of The Antlers, Burst Apart has leaked and it is thus far my AOTY. Parentheses is one of its best tracks.
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Old 05-06-2011, 06:06 PM   #30 (permalink)
 
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On the topic of The Antlers, Burst Apart has leaked and it is thus far my AOTY. Parentheses is one of its best tracks.
I was looking for a link earlier but I couldn't seem to find anything that worked. You wouldn't have a link by any chance?
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