Wednesday 17 February 2010

Back in 1985, I was in New Zealand for five months, and during that time, my music collection was constrained by my travelling and so I had my Walkman and a few (very few) cassettes. One of them was a pre-recorded Steely Dan tape with Gaucho on one side and Aja on the other. As a result, this album is associated in my mind with five months of sunshine and a holiday romance.

Not all of this is down to what I was doing when I listened to the album -- I don't think that, for example, Unknown Pleasures, would have felt so sunny -- but the music itself is bright and clear and spacious.

Irish school goers of a certain age will also enjoy the hidden meaning behine the line 'Pe(i)g, it will come back to you'.



Aha Shake Heartbreak

Tuesday 16 February 2010

I was too busy when this was on to listen to it, so I have nothing to say(Frackin' internet connection was up and down like a yoyo while I was remote desktop-ed into a customer's machine).

It's high energy stuff. Lyric that caught my ear: girls are gonna love the way i toss my hair, boys are gonna hate the way i sing...



Aerial - A S(ea|ky) of Honey

Two for the price of one...

Ms Bush has a powerful voice and has produced some amazing songs. On these/this album(s) there aren't any stand out tracks but while there isn't a song of the calibre of Running Up That Hill, the whole feels very coherent. The only false note struck is the unfortunate fact that the name Bertie is forever sullied for me (and many others) and I cannot easily hear that name along side the lyric 'you bring me so much joy and then you bring me more joy'.

Honestly, I'd say that Sea is better than Sky, but maybe if I listen to them the other way around, I'd feel different.



Adventures in Afropea 3: Telling Stories to the Sea

I'm not sure I've ever listened to this before. I bought it because it had David Byrne's name on it -- it's distributed by his 'world music' label, Luka Bop -- and I like his Rei Momo album very much. So guessing this might be a bunch of sources or inspiration for that, I took a chance. But I didn't follow through and actually listen to the thing.

It's pretty good. I've no idea what they're singing about (I thought Amor De Vino was about, you know, drinking, but it turns out to be Amor Divino, which I guess is a more serious thing...) , but it's very cheery. My feet are tapping and my fingers drumming on the table.

Another lucky punt.




Monday 15 February 2010

Sorry Billy, this is a little dull. The track that holds most interest for me (Ava Adore) sounds like Barrel of a Gun (Depeche Mode). Which is fine, but I prefer their song. It picks up a bit towards the end (Shame and Behold! The Nightmare) being noteworthy, but too little in the 72 minutes required to get through it all.

Maybe there's a great 45 minute album in there.




This is Blues Power!

I can't lie. I bought this because Wynona Ryder was in the video (No Disco, RIP). It is, however, fun -- charting a course somewhere between Green on Red and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. So as an impulse buy, I got lucky.

(does the phrase I lucked out mean I was lucky or I wasn't?)



Achtung baby

Saturday 13 February 2010

And here is one of the aforementioned Lanois produced albums. The album where U2 went away and 'dreamed it all up again'.

Indeed this is different from what went before, but from my current perspective it suffers from over familiarity. As usual with a U2 album there are some crackers (One, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World) and some dross. I can't get excited about Zoo Station or The Fly despite their billing as game changers and as the album drags to its conclusion, it's all a bit lame.




Friday 12 February 2010

From one Canadian to another...

Mr. Lanois is know more for his collaborations with others that his own work; but this, his first solo album is perfectly fine. Faint praise, I'm afraid. While it's all very pleasant, it certainly isn't enough to make me buy any of his subsequent albums, although I do have others that he produced.

Too much soul and no guts.



Absolute Torch and Twang

Sometimes I forget how happy music can make me.

Notwithstanding that many of these songs are narrated by sad people, they're just so durn nice to sing! Maybe I have an inner country singer struggling to get out. Or maybe it's the tunes, or the lyrics (in time for the 14th of Feb: I might not be all you want, but it's all you get, it's me.)

If you over think the whole thing (as I feel I must do in order to fill this space), you could criticize the crisp, precise production, but really, that would be unfair. Yes, the band sound like they know what they're doing, but isn't that what we want? We don't always want The Fall, often we just want to sing and feel good.

Of course, as I type this, Ms. lang closes the album with a song about beating children, so it's not all puppy dogs and posies.



About a Boy

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Forget the movie, we're here to talk about the music.

Er. Not as good as The Hour of the Bewilderbeast; better than Have You Fed the Fish?

I like when he brings in the swirling three-four time waltz-y stuff, but there's nothing on this album that I can name. Or hum.

Nick Hornby had a lot to say about one of the songs in his book 31 Songs (which I recommend), but he had personal reasons (apart from the obvious).

Actually, I take some of this back. I like River, Sea, Ocean. But he does this better on Bewilderbeast.



Abbey Road (2009 remix)

So, here we are again. Somebody told me if you listen very carefully, you can hear Yoko blinking.

The remix isn't as drastic as I thought on first listen, but noticeable nonetheless. The guitars seem to have been de-emphasised the most. One might say (uncharitably) that as only the drummer and the bass player are left, what would you expect.

No harm. I think the other version will remain the canonical version for me, but the difference isn't really enough for me to care.

I just remembered the first time I heard the whole of the album and looking at the label remarking that Octopus' Garden was written by 'someone called Richard Starkey'. Well, what did I know.


Abbey Road

Monday 8 February 2010

The Beatles' finest moment? Yes, there's the silly Maxwell's Silver Hammer and Octopus's Garden and they mess with a perfect ending with the pointless Her Majesty, but ... but!

We have George's perfect moments, the ending of side one, Ringo's drum solo (and Octopus's Garden isn't all that bad...), the epic side two medley, the iconic cover....

It doesn't have the swirling othery-ness of Sgt. Pepper's but given that they were barely a band at this point, to put together a consistent, coherent, brilliant 47 minutes means that this deserves its place in the top 10 albums of all time.



A Toot and a Snore in '74

Friday 13 November 2009

A rambling unfocused recording of a jam session between Lennon and McCartney has a curiosity element. But not much more.

Mostly snore; little toot.


A Rush of Blood to the Head

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Overplayed and over familiar. Like Dire Straits before them, going rapidly from eminently likable to crushingly dull.

But I like Clocks and others, so nyer.



A River of Sound

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Phillip King's documentary about Irish music was interesting (as far as I can remember it) despite being pitched at the non-irish market (we don't need to be told what the Gaeltacht is). The music holds up well too.

I'm a bit ambivalent about Irish music -- I like it well enough, but it can be a bit repetitive. This collection avoids that and has enough diversity to keep your interest. Although one less Micheal O'Sullabhain here or there wouldn't hurt.

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A Post Punk Primer

Monday 7 September 2009

Filled with nuggets of "new wave" goodness from Japan, The Monochrome Set and others, this is a little slice of musical history from the time between the Sex Pistols and Duran Duran. As with all compilations there's wheat and chaff, but this has enough roughage and sustinance to go around.

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A Period of Transition

Sunday 6 September 2009

The title indicates that this was not where Van was or where he wanted to be and I guess that accounts for the slightly non-committal feeling of this album.

It's pleasant enough, and by no means the worst of his albums, but the best thing you can say about it is it's no too interruptive.

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A Map of the Universe

... by Blink

This is a neglected gem. Pop songs from a time when pop was not a dirty word. I haven't listened to this for some time, but since I have, much of it has has been happily lodged in my head.

Albums that have more than three notable tracks are candidates for notability in their entirety and by this measure A Map... is notable indeed.

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A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording...

Sunday 30 August 2009

... by Amateurs - The Flaming Lips 1984-1990

I do believe that this is the first time I've listened to this, but it was enjoyable.

Some of the tracks are covers but I don't know the originals well enough to know how faithful or experimental they are. Other tracks feel nice and familiar but not obviously stuff I've heard before.

Stuff that falls into the latter camp is usually a good mental 'fit' -- music that aligns with some internalised Platonic ideal I have for music.

Some of the songs are too experimental for my taste and the fact that these lurk towards the end of the CD lead me to believe that this would have been better on vinyl.

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3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of

Saturday 29 August 2009

I wish I had the intellectual and social wherewithall to place this in the context of Dr. Dre and rappers of that ilk, but I can't. I feel they must be related somehow, but is it just coz theys black?

Anyway, this album is very much more palatable than 2001 and is played quite a lot around here (owing to the fact that it's near the top of the album list and not likely to offend many).

I like Mama's Always on Stage and Give a Man a Fish, hokey? Perhaps. But tuneful, and as is becoming more and more obvious, for me the tune's the thing.

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