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Old 08-02-2011, 03:15 PM   #41 (permalink)
 
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This Is The Part Where I Put My Music Player On Shuffle And Review The First Five Songs That Come Up...

1. Nine Inch Nails – “Ruiner” (from The Downward Spiral)



It’s been a quite a long time since I’ve listened to Nine Inch Nails and especially the Downward Spiral album. The collision of synths and distortion on this track is pretty well done but not really engaging in any way and Trent Reznor’s vocals seem to be a bit obscured, giving a feeling of anger bubbling under the surface. The strange, broken-sounding guitar solo in the middle of the song I must say is very interesting but overall this song doesn’t seem to really stand up on its own. If I was to listen to this in the context of the whole album I would probably have a different opinion though.

Current mood match: not really in the mood for this right now

2. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Bring the Light” (from Zeitgeist)



I’m not really sure nowadays what to really make of the Pumpkins 2007 reunion album Zeitgeist. I was pretty excited about it at the time just because it was a new Smashing Pumpkins album and there are some pretty good songs on it. This song on its own stands up pretty well and is one of the best songs on the album, but you can’t help but feel it pales in comparison to their previous output. There’s some cool lead guitar work on it though.

Current mood match: not really in the mood for this right now

3. The Strokes – “I Can’t Win” (from Room On Fire)



Room On Fire is another album that I haven’t listened to in a number of years. This is a very typical Strokes song I guess, Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi’s contrasting guitar styles always seem to work well together but as regards the song itself it doesn’t seem to grab you in any way. Julian’s vocals aren’t the problem as such but it’s just that there’s nothing really distinctive or engaging about this song. This always seemed to be one of the filler tracks on Room On Fire which isn’t a bad album I must say.

Current mood match: not really in the mood for this right now, I think there’s a pattern beginning to develop here

4. Sabbat – “Mythistory” (from the album Dreamweaver)


All I could find was a live video from 1989, sound quality isn't the best.

A damn good slice of classic thrash metal. The dual guitar work in the intro is very well done and sets you up for song full of furious riffs and pounding drums. The song structure is very complex which is typical of every song on this album and this leads to many different sets of riffs and quite a lot of lyrics. Some hushed spoken-word pieces in the background also add a sinister feeling to the song.

Current mood match: yep seems to suit my mood a bit more, but not quite

5. Spacemen 3 – “Things’ll Never Be The Same” (from the album The Perfect Prescription)



Ah yes you can never go wrong with some Spacemen 3. This song is based around a very droning, minimalist guitar riff with some wah-wah guitars floating over it creating a very hypnotic and psychedelic feel. The song doesn’t alter much through but it doesn’t really need to, it just seems to work perfectly, it instantly brings to mind The Velvet Underground. The vocals have a nice rock and roll feel to them and add to the feeling of drug-induced satisfaction. A brilliant song.

Current mood match: Yes that’s more like it.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:39 AM   #42 (permalink)
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I'd like to thank you for introducing me to the LSD and the Search for God EP. It's quite brilliant, and sounds like MBV's Glider EP to me. Ah, if these two were combined into one album that would be awesome, could totally see these tracks fitting in seamlessly with the likes of Off Your Face.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:06 PM   #43 (permalink)
 
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I'd like to thank you for introducing me to the LSD and the Search for God EP. It's quite brilliant, and sounds like MBV's Glider EP to me. Ah, if these two were combined into one album that would be awesome, could totally see these tracks fitting in seamlessly with the likes of Off Your Face.
Awesome, cheers! Yeah MBV are kind of the obvious comparison, must actually listen to Glider and the LSD EP together sometime, I'll say it will make for quite the trip. There was rumour of them making a full-length album floating around online a while back but it's hard to find any reliable information about what they are up to at the moment.

There's actually a few untitled songs played live by them up on youtube which gives an indication that they have more material to be released. The sound quality isn't the best but you can just about make out the songs.

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Old 09-05-2011, 02:20 PM   #44 (permalink)
 
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Various Artists - NME C86 (1986)



Track Listing:

1. Primal Scream – ‘Velocity Girl’
2. The Mighty Lemon Drops – ‘Happy Head’
3. The Soup Dragons – ‘Pleasantly Surprised’
4. The Wolfhounds – ‘Feeling So Strange Again’
5. The Bodines – ‘Therese’
6. Mighty Mighty – ‘Law’
7. Stump – ‘Buffalo’
8. Bogshed – ‘Run To The Temple’
9. A Witness – ‘Sharpened Sticks’
10. The Pastels – ‘Breaking Lines’
11. The Age Of Chance – ‘From Now On, This Will Be Your God’
12. Shop Assistants – ‘It’s Up To You’
13. Close Lobsters – ‘Firestation Towers’
14. Miaow – ‘Sport Most Royal’
15. Half Man Half Biscuit – ‘I Hate Nerys Hughes’
16. The Servants – ‘Transparent’
17. Mackenzies – ‘Big Jim (There’s No Pubs In Heaven)’
18. Big Flame – ‘New Way’
19. Fuzzbox – ‘Console Me’
20. McCarthy – ‘Celestial City’
21. The Shrubs – ‘Bullfighter’s Bones’
22. The Wedding Present – ‘This Boy Can Wait’

This compilation is one of the very few things I can actually give NME magazine credit for. But I’m guessing back then they were probably a half decent magazine, or maybe not. Either way this compilation stands on its own as a seminal and highly influential collection of songs that has inspired so much great music over the past 25 years. It is a perfect snapshot of the emerging indiepop scene in 1986, where bands were crafting expressive, joyous and thrillingly memorable pop songs within the confines of independent labels and with a stripped-down, D.I.Y. approach that gave their songs more urgency and purpose. There are quite a few songs on this compilation but I’ll keep this review short and try not to bore you.

This compilation consists of 22 bands and 22 songs. While there may be a lot of similarities between each of the bands, each has a different approach and array of influences. The Smiths are an obvious influence on a lot of the bands, but in particular Mighty Mighty and McCarthy who have The Smiths flowing through their veins. The only way they could be more like The Smiths would be if they were actually called The Smiths. But in their own way both of these band create wonderful music and are worthy of an inclusion here. A lot of the bands featured here, such as The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Soup Dragons, often take the energy and simplicity of punk rock and combine it with a jangly indie sound inspired by the likes of The Smiths and Orange Juice. The raw production and lack of musicianship here often gives the music an amateurish and shambling feel, but that’s all part of its charm and appeal. What shines though in every song is youthful energy and a passion for writing memorable songs and sweet melodies. The perfect example of this is the wonderful opening track ‘Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream, at one minute and twenty-one seconds it is a bit on the short side, but it says everything it needs to say and leaves you wanting more. It’s bright, chiming Rickenbacker arpeggios recall the early Byrds sound.

Sticking out like a mentally-deranged uncle dancing around at your birthday party is the song ‘Buffalo’ by Stump. This song never fails to put a smile on my face due to its pure unhinged, atonal madness. In its own crazy world, in some parallel universe this is probably the greatest song ever. This song however shows that some of these bands were unafraid to think outside the box and take in more abstract influences. Also having an otherworldly feel are The Shop Assistants and their contribution ‘It’s Up To You’. The use of soft guitars, tubular bells and breathy female vocals create a dreamy and hazy ambience that soothes the soul. Fuzzbox add a darker and otherworldly feel to things with ‘Console Me’, with their use of fuzzed-out bass, weird keyboard sounds and Siouxie Sioux-esque vocals. One of the real highlights of the album is the indiepop classic ‘Breaking Lines’ by The Pastels. Compared to most of the bands here The Pastels show better songwriting skills and more confidence and were one of the few bands featured here that really made a name for themselves, along with The Wedding Present, The Soup Dragons, Half Man Half Biscuit and oh yes Primal Scream.

This compilation is the cornerstone for indiepop and its influence has had a profound effect on the indie scene today as well as over the years since its release. The number of bands inspired by this compilation is huge, but some notable bands that have channelled this inspiration over the years include The Field Mice, Belle and Sebastian, Another Sunny Day, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Vaselines and many many others. For anyone looking to delve further into the wonderful world of indiepop this is an ideal place to start.

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Old 10-02-2011, 09:58 AM   #45 (permalink)
 
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Discovery, Discovery...


Some stuff I've been enjoying lately

Northern Picture Library


Formed by Bob Wratten, Annemari Davies and Mark Dobson in 1993 after the dissolution of The Field Mice. They released their one and only studio album Alaska in 1993 and also released a number of EPs and singles in their brief existence. Afterwards Bob Wratten and Annemari Davies formed Trembling Blue Stars who have released a string of albums right up to a new album this year. Northern Picture Library adopted a slightly more experimental, ambient, dream-pop sound compared to the more accessible indie-pop of The Field Mice but still retained most of the chemistry that made The Field Mice sound magical. A largely forgotten band well worth checking out.




Allo Darlin'


An indie-pop band formed in London as recently as January 2009. Although they released their self-titled debut album last year I didn't stumble across it until this summer and I'm glad I did find it. It's probably one of the most addictive albums I've heard in the past year and it never gets dull with repeated listens. Their music is so simple yet effective and can be uplifting, melancholic and humorous at times. I'm really looking forward to a second album from these guys and gal.




Language Of Flowers


This band have had quite an unusual existence. They originally formed in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1992 and played one gig supporting Heavenly before quitting. They then reformed in 2003 and released their one and only album Songs About You in 2004, a charming twee/indie-pop album packed with jangly Rickenbacker guitars and sweet and simple female vocal melodies. It's heavily in debt to the late-80's/early-90's wave of indie-pop, especially The Field Mice, but they did it so well and crafted some brilliant tunes in the process.

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Old 10-22-2011, 04:19 PM   #46 (permalink)
 
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A Small Selection Of Songs I've Been Enjoying A Lot Lately

Bardo Pond - "Be a Fish"


Their 1996 album Amanita is a sprawling psychedelic monster and this song is one of the highlights of the album for me. It's a bit more accessible than the rest of the material on the album, which is probably why the song stands out for me, but take a listen to it and enjoy the awesome fuzzed-out guitar breaks and detached vocals.

The Orchids - "Peaches"


Okay this song is cheesy as fuck and screams early 90's but I love it anyway. Amazingly despite the very slick and assured nature of the song it was made by an indie band signed to seminal indiepop label Sarah Records in 1992. Love it or not the huge chorus will lodge itself in your brain and force you to listen to it on repeat.

Bowery Electric - "Fear Of Flying"


Bowery Electric are a band I've been really enjoying lately and this song sums up what I like about them. They effortlessly merge trip-hop and shoegaze together and create some remarkable dreamy tunes such as this one. The video for this song is superb, it suits the mood of the song and it leaves me wondering why more bands can't make promo videos like these?

Zola Jesus - "Vessel"


Zola Jesus is back with a new album and it contains some of her best material yet. This song manages to be dark and artistic yet still has an accessible edge to it. Her voice sounds haunting and gives the song a nice tense feel.

Warpaint - "Billie Holiday"


A song from their 2009 EP Exquisite Corpse. It has a very haunting and sexy feel to it and is a brilliantly well-done song and tribute by these lovely ladies. It has a very dreamy psychedelic edge to it as well which makes it all the more enjoyable.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:45 PM   #47 (permalink)
 
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The Cure - Join The Dots (2004)


You can always judge a great band by the quality of their b-sides and rarities and The Cure are no exception. Join The Dots B-Sides & Rarities 1978>2001 The Fiction Years (to go by its full title) was compiled by Robert Smith and contains nearly all of The Cure’s b-sides (excluding some unnecessary remixes) from their time on the Fiction label as well as rare tracks and a few alternative versions across four discs. This box-set is very elegantly packaged, resembling a hardback novel from the outside, containing the four CDs on the inside of the front and back covers and a fascinating 76-page booklet sandwiched inbetween. This booklet contains some rare and previously unseen photos of The Cure throughout the years, artwork from their singles, interesting stories about the songs features in this box-set as well as a nice history of the band.

Whenever I listen to songs from this collection it transports me back to Christmas 2007 when I received this as a present from someone very special, so it has a lot of sentimental value to me as well. If I was to thoroughly review this 70-song collection this would be a very long review indeed so I will just select highlights from it. Disc 1 covers the first ten years of the band from 1978 to 1987 and allows you to trace their evolution from being a youthful post-punk outfit in the late-70’s, through to the dark, atmospheric sounds of their early 80’s period and then on to their more synth-pop years. The nocturnal ’10:15 Saturday Night’ was the b-side from their debut single ‘Killing an Arab’ and also appears on their debut album Three Imaginary Boys. You also have ‘Plastic Passion’ which shows a more punk edge to The Cure and ‘Splintered In Her Head’, the b-side of ‘Charlotte Sometimes’, which indicates the dark and twisted sounds that were to come on Pornography. The real highlight of this disc however is the hook-filled ‘The Exploding Boy’, the b-side of ‘Inbetween Days’, which is as good as any song that appears on The Head On The Door. It’s a song that is definitely up there with the best Cure b-sides.

Disc 2 covers the years 1987 to 1992 and contains some very strong songs. While Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me was a solid double album there were still some incredible songs left over from it such as the gorgeously downbeat ‘A Chain Of Flowers’ and the uplifting ‘Snow In Summer’. ‘To The Sky’ appeared on a Fiction compilation in 1989 although was recorded two years previously during the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me sessions. It is a relatively simple yet brilliant song and is very typical of the bittersweet songs that The Cure do so convincingly. ‘Babble’ quite funnily contains some extremely weird keyboard pieces which were apparently played by Boris Williams’ dog while Lol Tolhurst was slumped in a corner too drunk to play his own parts. The outstanding song on this disc is the fantastic ‘2 Late’, the b-side of ‘Lovesong’, and is also a favourite of Robert Smith himself. Robert Smith was nearly sure that this song was going to be a single, but as Disintegration took shape ‘2 Late’ seemingly just didn’t fit in with the overall sound of the album. Although the song still has a bit of a downbeat feel to it, it sounds a bit more up-tempo compared to the brooding songs on Disintegration. Definitely my favourite Cure b-side and perhaps one of my favourite Cure songs.

Disc 3 covers the years 1992 to 1996 and while it does contain some great songs it doesn’t seem to be able to quite stand up to the previous two discs. One thing that strikes you here is that the b-sides from the Wish period seem to be better than most of the songs on Wish itself! ‘This Twilight Garden’ pretty much lives up to its name and invokes a very lonely twilight feeling. ‘Halo’ is another great Cure b-side and shows Robert Smith at his happiest. It is one of the b-sides to ‘Friday I’m In Love’ and pretty much continues on from the blissful happiness of said single. The best Cure song of the 90’s in my opinion is ‘Burn’, which makes an appearance here. This song was recorded for The Crow soundtrack in 1994 and shows a more modern edge to The Cure yet still retains the band’s key traits. It’s quite an excellent song from one of my favourite films of the 90’s. Elsewhere on this disc covers of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Purple Haze’ and David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ make an appearance. ‘It Used To Be Me’ is the only other real highlight on this disc and shows a more spacier, sparser and uncommercial side to The Cure and still contains some nice downbeat introspection from Robert Smith.

Disc 4 covers the years 1996 to 2001 and highlights on this disc are difficult to note. It mostly contains remixes but some standout songs would be their cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘World In My Eyes’, recorded for a Depeche Mode tribute album, and the previously unreleased ‘Possession’. A slightly disappointing final disc but the first two discs in this collection, as well as most songs from disc 3, certainly make this collection essential for any Cure fan. By listening to this collection from the very beginning through to the very end you can pretty much trace the evolution of The Cure track by track and slowly but surely build up a picture of what The Cure were really about, just like joining the dots as the collection title suggests. But the quality of the b-sides and rarities here can only boost The Cure’s legacy as one of the best bands of the past few decades.



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Old 11-10-2011, 02:57 PM   #48 (permalink)
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It's times like these that I kick myself a tad for not going about reading other peole's journals too often. Quite enjoyed Allo Darlin', Bowery Electric and Northern Picture Library, I'd never heard of any of them. I shall investigate further.
Good man for mentioning Warpaint, by the way, I love that song.
Keep it up!
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:54 AM   #49 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unchained Ballad View Post
It's times like these that I kick myself a tad for not going about reading other peole's journals too often. Quite enjoyed Allo Darlin', Bowery Electric and Northern Picture Library, I'd never heard of any of them. I shall investigate further.
Good man for mentioning Warpaint, by the way, I love that song.
Keep it up!
Thank you very much! It's always great to know people are actually reading these things, makes it all the more worthwhile.

Bowery Electric are definitely a band well worth investigating. Haven't listened to all their albums yet but Beat and Lushlife are two albums you should listen to. Beat is closer to shoegaze with electronic influences and Lushlife has more of a trip-hop sound to it. Both great albums.
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Old 12-03-2011, 02:08 PM   #50 (permalink)
 
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The Lemonheads - It's A Shame About Ray (1992)



Track Listing:
1. Rockin' Stroll
2. Confetti
3. It's a Shame About Ray
4. Rudderless
5. My Drug Buddy
6. The Turnpike Down
7. Bit Part
8. Alison's Starting To Happen
9. Hannah & Gabi
10. Kitchen
11. Ceiling Fan In My Spoon
12. Frank Mills

You’ve got to love a short album. A twenty-nine minute and twenty- one second collection of songs that says all it needs to say over the course of twelve short pop songs and then gets the hell out of there. It’s the perfect way to hit the spot and never outstay your welcome. When I say ‘pop song’ I don’t mean the bollocks that clogs up the charts and infects your mind through endless radio play torture. I’m talking about the other kind of pop, the good kind; the way The Ramones wrote pop songs, the way Big Star wrote pop songs, The Cure, The Buzzcocks, and The Replacements etc. This is the kind of frame of mind the Lemonheads occupied here their fifth album It’s a Shame About Ray.

‘Rockin Stroll’ kicks off the album with a brief song about viewing the world and people through the eyes of a baby or toddler. This kind of sense of fun and innocence gives the album a light-hearted feel but there are other moments elsewhere on the album which in contrast give a less innocent look at adult life. With this album the band left behind their noisier punk roots, toned down the electric guitars and combined these with acoustic guitars to give the music a gentler and mellower sound. This being the band’s major-label debut for Atlantic you could accuse them of selling-out but the more easy-going sound gave their songs more clarity and purpose. It’s a formula that works so well on this album especially on the fantastic run of songs on the first half of the album ‘Confetti’, ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ and ‘Rudderless’. One of the most interesting songs on the first half of the album is ‘My Drug Buddy’, and is a good example of the less innocent side of this album. The song itself has a nice mid-paced and uplifting feel but the lyrics seem to deal with the happiness of drugs and the happiness of doing drugs with a good friend. This song could seem somewhat harmless but it’s actually about scoring speed and is tragic in a way as it was soon revealed that Evan Dando was addicted to various drugs including speed and crack cocaine. There is however one striking image that the song portrays and that is the bond between Evan and his female drug buddy, especially in the lyrics “She’s in the phone booth now. I’m looking in. There comes a smile on her face”.

A lot of Evan Dando’s songs on this album seem to be written about characters and his relationship with these characters. He likes writing about his friends and about people he has met that have had some positive impact on him in some way. ‘My Drug Buddy’ is an example of this but also the title-track ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ which was written about a guy he met in Australia who calls everyone “Ray”. There’s also ‘Alison’s Starting to Happen’ which was written about Smudge bassist Alison Galloway and the excitement and fun that she brought into Evan Dando’s life as a friend. It’s these simple things in life that seem to impact him the most and inspire him to write these songs. ‘Alison’s Starting to Happen’ as well as ‘Ceiling Fan In My Spoon’ also display some of the band’s punk roots with their fast and lively feel, yet they still seem like short, simple and sweet two-minute alternative-pop songs. The song ‘Hanna & Gabi’ shows a folkier side to the Lemonheads with its gently-stummed acoustic guitars, pedal steel and Evan Dando’s melancholic vocals. But overall the album has a high level of consistency and its short running time ensures that the album is filler-free and leaves you wanting more.

It’s a Shame About Ray is the Lemonheads' most successful and most well-known album, probably because of a certain Simon & Garfunkel cover which was included as an extra track without the band’s permission when Atlantic issued it again in 1993. Even Evan Dando admitted it was one of the weakest songs he ever recorded and that the band were basically forced into recording it by their label. The song spoiled the album’s otherwise perfect song flow and is certainly best left out of the picture. It is however an album that I always revisit from time to time and I certainly never get sick of it. The production might seem very 90’s nowadays but the music still holds up remarkably well and the bright, lively feel of the album reminds me of summer, something that seems distant now that winter is right on top of us as I type this.

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