Archive for February, 2010

Oasis “Be Here Now”

February 25, 2010

Creation 1997

Maybe this isn’t timely, since Oasis officially ended a few months ago and everyone is probably over it by now. Hell, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve been done for a long time. No offense to the super-hardcore fans who love everything they have done, but “Be Here Now” is their last good album. Every record after it is phoned in, indifferently composed and lazily executed pop rock—with the exception of “Don’t Believe the Truth”, that is. That album has some great stuff on it. But “Be Here Now” is good enough to hold a place one or two rungs down from the band’s first two albums, which are already classic rock and roll records. (more…)


Listening Log: February 24th 2010

February 25, 2010

Epic 1971


Album of the Day: Sly & the Family Stone There’s A Riot Goin’ On

What a dark, sweaty and amazing way to start the coldest day of the New Year. This record is such a spontaneous and unpredictable statement about the general mood of the world in the early seventies, at times it feels like nothing more than an afternoon jam session that went on into the wee hours of the morning and produced several albums worth of material. In actuality, there is an elusive meticulousness at work here. Stone recorded most of the instrumentation himself, enlisting a few members of The Family Stone, as well as several guest performers. Everything from the songwriting to the performances, and especially the production, is drenched in a deep fog of disillusionment and repressed rage. Actually, I think it might be one of the most darkly hypnotic albums ever created, right up there with “The Madcap Laughs”, “Third/Sister Lovers” and “Tonight’s the Night”. What’s different about “Riot” is its success—despite its pervasively heavy mood, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and produced three hit singles. Man, I really wish I could go back and at least EXPERIENCE this time period, for like a few days. The fact that this album not only was at the top of the charts but DEBUTED there must mean they were doing something right back then. Have you seen who’s been topping our charts lately? (more…)

Listening Log: February 23rd 2010

February 24, 2010

Rockville 1994


Album of the Day: Erik Voeks Sandbox

I really don’t know much about this guy, and I would like to thank my friend Randall Paske for introducing me to this wonderful album and providing me with most of the following info–thanks, Randy!

Voeks lived in St. Louis for awhile, which may explain why this album features the late, great Jay Bennett (formerly of Wilco). He still plays music occasionally, but apparently has “gotten out of the Erik Voeks business” and doesn’t really play his own material anymore. After listening to “Sandbox” about four times in the last two days, I have come to the conclusion that this is an absolute tragedy, my friends. These songs are amazingly crafted little slices of power pop, charming as they are whimsical, and insightful without being too pretentious. I say “too” because there is one lyric about “sleeping with Santa Claus” that always helps that big question mark to form over my head. But any reaching as far as lyrics go is instantly forgivable when drenched in melodies as beautifully realized as these. More people need to hear this record, end of story. (more…)

Listening Log: February 22nd 2010

February 24, 2010

Warner Bros. 1999


Album of the Day: The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin

There’s almost no competing with this album. Even after listening to it for over a decade, I still believe it represents a key evolution in rock music, and that it’s one of the top 5 albums of all time. Is there a better album opener than “Race for the Prize”, one that is more distinct, memorable or awesome? It has become an album of glorious little details that have burrowed into my psyche over the years, like an old movie you watched a thousand times as a kid and every time you hear a sound or a line from it, you automatically get transported back to whatever or wherever you associate it with. Hearing this album helps to move any day up a notch. (more…)

Listening Log: February 19th 2010

February 24, 2010

Polydor 1980


Album of the Day: The Jam Sound Affects

I bought this record on vinyl at Love Garden a couple months ago, and it remained on my turntable for about three weeks straight after that purchase. It is the first Jam record that has really reached out and grabbed me. I know they have a lot of great records—I really like “All Mod Cons” and “This Is the Modern World”, as each album is peppered with obvious classics. But as albums, they are not as cohesive and consistent as “Sound Affects”. “Start!”, “Pretty Green”, and “Monday” are an excellent example of the perfect set of opening songs. And the last two—“Boy About Town” and “Scrape Away”—are two of The Jam’s best songs ever. Lastly, the last song on side one, “That’s Entertainment!”, really hits home with me. It’s more or less about the entertainment industry and the amoral world within it. “They’ll kick you in the balls—I tell ya, that’s entertainment” sings Paul Weller. Isn’t it, though? I know you all watch Jackass! (more…)

Listening Log: February 18th 2010

February 24, 2010

Spin Art 2001


Album of the Day: Jason Falkner Necessity: The 4-Track Years

This is one of those rare releases that could work either as an introduction to the artist or a compilation of unreleased goods for rabid fans. “Necessity” has this distinction because it contains some of the best previously released songs from Falkner (namely some of the standout tracks from his first album, “Presents Author Unknown”) as well as some notable outtakes and unused tracks. And even though all the songs here are in their 4-track, lo-fi versions, Falkner was already an engineering whiz by the time he recorded them, and he makes the best possible use of the equipment he had at his disposal. For instance, each recording has some pretty obvious tape hiss, but other than that, they are pretty immaculate for four-tracked goods. (more…)

Bettie Serveert “Pharmacy of Love”

February 22, 2010

Second Motion Records 2010

Holland’s Bettie Serveert are troopers, man. They have been around for years, stubbornly putting out records for a public whose interest has been steadily waning. This makes me happy, though–it’s a true sign that you really can’t keep a good tune down. Maybe that’s why “Pharmacy of Love” was made in the first place. (more…)

The Psychedelic Furs “Talk Talk Talk”

February 18, 2010

CBS 1981

To me, The Psychedelic Furs represent the best of the John Hughes generation, a time when the 80’s swagger was just becoming apparent but the production of the music had not yet gone completely south. Since “Talk Talk Talk” is from 1981, this album is even further removed from the tinny 80’s gloss that eventually took over in the popular sound. (more…)

Listening Log: Wednesday, February 17th 2010

February 18, 2010

4AD 1993

Album of the Day: Red House Painters Red House Painters (Rollercoaster)

I didn’t hear this album until the very end of the day, and right now as I am about to go to bed, I am still listening to it. Red House Painters are perfect music for any night, or for foggy days, or for driving around at dusk or something. It’s usually pretty depressing stuff, but even listening to it now, I can’t say I am particularly sad or anything. I mean, like anyone else, I have worries in my life, but I really just enjoy this record for its elegant and spacious songwriting and, of course, Mark Kozelek’s iconic voice. (more…)

Listening Log: Tuesday, February 16th 2010

February 17, 2010

Warner Bros. 1979

Album of the Day: Thin Lizzy Black Rose: A Rock Legend

It saddens me that more people are not aware of the awesome power Thin Lizzy are capable of presenting, even long after the demise of Phil Lynott. “Black Rose” is complete proof of this. Every song is no less than a bum rush of unrelenting guitar licks and awesome melodies. This is Thin Lizzy’s most commercially successful album as far as pure numbers go, but you won’t find any hits being played on classic rock radio like “The Boys are Back in Town”. What you will find are songs just as good if not better than that one that have been overlooked and underrated for far too long. (more…)

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