Tuesday, February 24, 2009


One thing I'm going to try and do soon is post a top 100 of my favorite albums. I think that will provide a good starting point, and that way I can see how much changes between now and the day (someday) when I finish all of these. We'll see how that goes. I have a top 100 that I make and change constantly, so it's not work to put it up, it will just be a list just to put things in retrospect. As I stated when I first started this thing, I know that there are a lot of albums out there that I just plain haven't listened to so that will make a difference as I go through this. Some albums I look forward to are:

David Bowie - Low
Blonde Redhead - Misery is a Butterfly
Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
2Pac - All Eyez On Me

There are many others, but those are just a few of some albums that I've failed to listen to all these years and have somehow retained some credibility. So I look forward to those.

Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll (2005)

It's so hard to find albums where it sounds like the band is actually having fun playing. It doesn't necessarily have to be an uplifting album full of catchy melodies and love (although that is the norm (and this album is no exception)), but bands find it easier to take their music seriously and get their songs as artfully across as p0ssible. Not to say that Art Brut isn't taking what they do seriously. They sound like they damn well are. But at the same time one can almost hear the studio party going on in between songs on this album, as each song comes to a close it seems like the energy is going full-out until it bursts into a much-needed break. Plus they kick ass.

Art Brut is a hyper-clash of lead singer and multiple personality Eddie Argos. He doesn't take personas in songs (like David Bowie) nor try to make something that has an arc to it (David Bowie again), but instead creates powerful British Punk-Metal anthems that come out as the most poetic spraypainted anthems you've heard in some time. After the success of the album it was common to find Art Brut shirts to contain lines from their songs, and rightfully so. One can pull out almost any line from a song on this album and find something very ironic, quirky, catchy, brilliant and funny all at once. Not to say that it's all great and brilliant, but it's been a while since love and heartbreak and rockin' out have had such a simple level of comprehension and quality applied to them. Muck akin to the rapper singing about getting hoes and getting paid, it's been done, what makes this band different?

At the start, "Formed a Band" plays with the notion of the band themselves. "Look at us! We Formed a Band!" Eddie Argos shouts in the opening lines of the song, which end up being not only the chorus of the song but almost the anthem of the whole album. To call his singing singing is a stretch, it's more of a hyperized banter that goes with the flow of the songs and stops and starts in the right parts, but never sounds like a melody is being constructed anywhere. And yet that is what makes it work so well. They formed a band?

A lot of the songs are inside jokes on bands themselves, about B-Sides, Rock & Roll, Velvet Underground snobs and moolah. It couldn't be more just, but it's done here that while yes, is snobbish itself, at least is original and funny. "Emily Kane" might be the saddest love song you'll ever hear, not just because it's about a girl that got away but about a girl that you're in love with in your memory of when you used to know her, that girl you always saw that you fell in love with but she really never knew who the hell you were. Every guy has one. He knows who it is.

Some of the songs work but not quite, but only in the sense that there's so much great stuff here it's pales in comparison, but it's still better than 99% of the stuff you'll hear on the radio this moment. "Rusted Gun of Milan" is a funny subtle play on often-loved masturbation theme, and "Fight" brings the physical-ness of any fight a couple has more to light, but both feel somewhat out of place on the album. Maybe they belonged near the end around one another.

"Good Weekend" captures the act of falling love for the current generation as explicitly and humorously as we needed it. It's all about that first week that you have a girlfriend and you couldn't be happier and at the top of the world. And it captures all of that in such a short song, as one loses their innocence in a typical schoolboy sense of being so excited to see that girl naked not once, but twice. Exclamation points have never been more necessary in these lyrics. "Moving to L.A." is probably the best rock star song on here, capturing the idea and ideals of rock n' roll in all of its glory and sadness.

Bang Bang Rock & Roll is an album that rarely comes along, providing fun and spirit to a much-needed genre that always needs it and yet lacks it most of the time. Rockin' out and getting girls will always be the norm, but sometimes it just has to be fun again and poetic without being gushy. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But there's nothing wrong with having it either.

Standout Track: Good Weekend
Rating: 9.3

The Avalanches - Since I Left You (2000)

What a aural pleasure it is to go back and listen to The Avalanches debut (and still only) album "Since I Left You." It's been almost a decade since the release and still no sign of the follow-up album, despite the band claiming it will be any second now, but the album still holds up after the years. A brief synopsis is as follows: Bunch of DJs get together and make an album full of no original sounds, compiled mostly of various beats and lines of dialogue from films that will probably never be seen. And a classic is born.

The album works for all the reasons it shouldn't, but mainly I feel that the success of the album comes from its repetition. Too often do singers fear repeating themselves (or at least something other than the chorus), wanting to jump from one verse to the next and get out as fast as possible and leave that familiar and warming hook in your mind. Avalanches songs don't necessarily have a chorus, but they have lines that they often repeat over and over, often for lengths of the songs. What is interesting is some of the creative stories they weave in each song, most of them simply about love and heartbreak.

What makes the album work the most is the repitition. Not to say that this album repeats parts over and over again. If anything, The Avalanches sound like they are trying to make a new sound every second of the album, resulting in what sounds like an ever-evolving album. The track that gets the most attention is "Frontier Psychiatrist," and rightfully so. It's one of the strangest songs I've ever heard and yet couldn't be catchier, and is an excellent diving in-point for anyone unfamiliar with The Avalanches, but the whole album really needs to be listened to as a whole. No songs feel unnecessary nor prolonged, everything flows to what sounds like a logical conclusion at the end of the album, a bookend to the excellent opening track.

Get this album. Dance to it. Fall in love with it. Then wait for whenever they're gonna come out with the next one.

Standout Track: Since I Left You
Rating: 9.9

A.C. Newman - Get Guilty (2009)

A.C. Newman's "Get Guilty" is a fair starting point for this blog to begin again. It's a simple album that is anything but simple, like most of Carl Newman's power-pop that he's known for. The album gets off to a good start in the first half, containing some of his finer melodies in the past recent years (and a major step up from most of the stuff from New Pornographers' last LP "Challengers") that do what Carl does best while also making his music sound all the more new again. In reinventing himself on his solo album he affirms listeners why his music still matters when it seems that his music might be starting to show signs of fatigue.

"The Heartbreak Rides" stands out as a one of the best tracks on the album, doing a good job of doing what Carl does best, using his pop standards to get a typical love-song message across, while at the same time creating a sonic sound that is totally original and yet familiar at the same time. Carl has the freedom here on his solo album to take chances that The New Pornographers aren't able to, doing slower ballads that sometimes don't go anywhere yet make for unique songs ("Thunderbolts," "Young Atlantis") and yet still creating striking work.

This also turns out to be the album's downfall as well. Too often the songs seem to be all build-up and no payoff. Not that there needs to be. Maybe that's what Carl is going for. But when the song sounds like it's going somewhere (again, "Thunderbolts") and never arrives it makes for a wavering experience, losing confidence in the singer in his handle of the material. It's still better than most of the albums out there you'll listen to this year, so it's worth a purchase and multiple listens, there are many things to pick up on repeat listens, as Newman is usually known for with his wall of sound approach, but this time the silent spots are more noticeable and good in away. Plus "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer" just rocks and makes no sense at all. And that's what Carl does best.

Standout track: The Heartbreak Rides.
Rating: 7.9


All right, I'm going to try and give this a start again. I obviously haven't been posting in months and quite miss it honestly, so I need to make it like an assignment in my life to post on here. And to accumulate followers that actually check this and so on and so forth. So I'm going to do it again with a re-vamped system as follows, along with a new design when I get my lazy butt around to it.

First off I'm going to start over again from the top. I was doing it before, but I feel my reviewing style was not what I exactly wanted. I wasn't giving the albums the proper attention they deserved, regardless of their quality or genre. So from now I'm going to try and listen to them a couple of times before reviewing them, or at least twice, once all the way through and then again just skimming through what's on it to see if anything stands out. I also want to write a little better too, so I appreciate the feedback.

Secondly, I feel a grading system of sorts is in need. I don't really know what kind to go with, definitely not stars or a thumbs up/thumbs down sort of thing. I'm thinking more along the lines of points, but I don't know what yet. I like Pitchfork's reviewing system, but at the same time don't like the idea of comparing something and if it's 0.1 higher points than something else having that bother me. I don't think that would bother any readers (if there are any! Zing!), but it would bother me personally more. I might have to go with that for a while unless there are any suggestions.

Let's boot this thing again!