Listening Log: March 2nd 2010

Reprise 1970

3/2/10

Album of the Day: Neil Young After the Gold Rush

My writing style is such that I will spontaneously jot down whatever is in my mind at any given time, so I can understand how readers may have heard the phrase “one of my all-time favorite albums” quite a bit from me, in regards to several albums. But, I want my comments about “After the Gold Rush” to stand out significantly, so I will say this—it is EASILY on my list of top 5 albums ever made. On my I-Pod, I look at my individual ratings for the songs on this record, and I see eleven fives in a row. I NEVER see that! There is absolutely no filler here—even the minute-long “’Til the Morning Comes”, which acts as a sort of segue between sides A and B, is a perfect song. Aside from the overall perfection of the songwriting, there is just an amazing feel to this album that fills the room every time it comes on. It’s especially great at work—if the day is sucking horribly and I’m hating life and this record comes on, all of a sudden, the customers become people again. That first line of the opener “Tell Me Why”, “Sailing hardships through broken harbors”, sums up everyone’s day every day. It’s LIFE. “After the Gold Rush” is a very human record which covers pretty much the range of all possible human emotion, all in under 35 minutes and in Neil Young’s shaky-voiced glory.

Food 1994

Blur Parklife

I remember back when I used to read all the old rock magazines (God rest their souls). When “Parklife” came out, it was like the “Merriweather Post Pavilion” of its day—every publication was just all about relentlessly slobbing this album’s knob. In fact, without its success (but mostly its hype), Damon Albarn could have possibly gone on to do some good stuff. But all the “Parklife” knob-slobbing eventually led to a sort of Thom Yorke complex, except I would take Radiohead over Gorillaz (or even later Blur albums) any day of the week. With that said, “Parklife” did deserve some praise; maybe a few licks as opposed to a constant slob-fest. It’s easily Blur’s most consistent album, while also being their most diverse. I’ve always thought of it as a fun record, as there are several tracks of studio jerk-offery to ensure it does not take itself too seriously (“The Debt Collector”, “Far Out”). But in listening to “Parklife” now, after doing some “growing up” or whatever, it’s pretty fucking SAD. While songs like the title track seem like a tongue-in-cheek satire of a life lived in isolation, others handle it as heavy subject matter. The Kinks-y harpsichords and beautiful vocal harmonies of “Clover Over Dover” scream a great pop tune, but it’s basically a song about wanting to die. And two of the album’s greatest songs, “End of a Century” and “To the End”, are precisely crafted enough to inspire sing-alongs despite their narcissistic and pessimistic viewpoints. It’s juxtaposition like this that makes for great art in general, but especially great rock music.

XL 2006

Albums to Revisit: Thom Yorke The Eraser

I figured since I listened to this album today AND I just mentioned him in the above review, I would have to write something about this one. I don’t really have much to say about it yet, though—like most electronic music for me, I respond best to it when in a certain mood, and listening to it at work today didn’t do much for me. I will say that “Harrowdown Hill” is a badass motherfucker—that bassline, the tone of it and the way it’s played or looped or whatever, is an example of a truly original sound, like something you never even knew you wanted to hear. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that bassline makes this fucking song, just like the bassline in Sly’s “If You Want Me To Stay” makes THAT fucking song. Anyway, most of the other songs just kind of fuzzed through me, but there were enough cool things happening to make me want to hear this one again pretty soon.

Virgin 1992

XTC Nonsuch

I like XTC and all, but I can’t find one of their albums that I like all the way through, and this listen continues that as-yet-failed search for one. Granted, “Nonsuch” did come out in the early nineties, so we’re not exactly looking at prime Partridge/Moulding real estate, here. But, with a promising pair of opening tunes (“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”, “My Bird Performs”), I expected more than “The Smartest Monkeys”. Man, what a shit song—talk about taking a premise and hitting the listener over the head with it. At least when he did that same thing in “Dear God”, Andy Partridge was dealing with an issue with a certain amount of drama attached to it, and the song was good and powerful enough to convey this. Here, it just all sounds like some time-wasting joke. Plus, the album is soooooo long! You could gather up a pretty stellar EP from this one, but please, BE WARNED if undertaking a full listen of “Nonsuch”—it is less than good.

Blur “Parklife” ****
XTC “Nonsuch” **1/2
The Breeders “Pod” ****
Neil Young “After the Goldrush” *****
Thom Yorke “The Eraser” ***
Regina Spektor “Soviet Kitsch” **** (I’ll review this one soon. It’s so good!)
Rogue Wave “Permalight” ***
Field Music “Measure” ***1/2

Total Albums Heard=8

***** Classic
**** Amazing
*** Good
** So-So
* Nope

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4 Responses to “Listening Log: March 2nd 2010”

  1. Randall Says:

    Cameron, have you listened to XTC’s “Black Sea”? It’s easily my favorite of theirs. I agree that “Nonsuch” is overlong.

    • recordgeekheaven Says:

      Yep, that’s my fave of theirs so far. I also like “Skylarking”, “Drums and Wires” and “Oranges and Lemons”, but none of them all the way through, and that includes “Black Sea”. They just seem really self-indulgent at times. I know that can make for good stuff, as XTC have themselves proven, but I guess I have a line that they cross.

  2. Ian Says:

    Ha! “After the Goldrush” is next up on my record blog. I ended up listening to it three times the other night before I started writing anything and regardless, the first thing I wrote was something like “Neil Young still sounds like an old woman to me, but I’ll be damned if his vocals aren’t affecting as hell.” Also, I’m thinking about revisiting Thom Yorke’s solo record because that song he has on the Twilight soundtrack (which I listen to like, 5 times a day at work), is awesome.

    • recordgeekheaven Says:

      Say what you will about his voice, but man, the guy can write a song or two. His songs are so good, it doesn’t matter how good the voice is.

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