Shuffle of the week #50

1. The Decemberists – Of Angels and Angles (Picaresque, 2005) [singlepic id=386 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Closing chapter from the third book of Portland’s finest storytellers, an epilogue from singer Colin Meloy, only supported by the acoustic guitar. Although their sound may sometimes revoke a kind of lamenting feel (Meloy is a big Morrissey fan and the album was recorded in a church, go figure), they cleverly avoid a lethal blend with little personal stories. Instead, it matches perfectly with picaresque (satirical prose, apparently) stuff like this.

2. Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1967) [singlepic id=409 w=80 h=50 float=left]

No problem of course for good old Lenny to follow up such an acoustic ballad. It’s acoustic guitar and great vocals again, only briefly supported by a backing vocal during the chorus. One of the many Cohen songs covered by Westcoast nightingale Judy Collins and also my favorite song from his debut album with one of the best (although very sober) sung choruses ever. Very curious how the album would have sounded if Cohen would have had the upper hand over producer John Simon when finishing the album.

3. The Great Society – That’s How It is (How It Was, 1968) [singlepic id=350 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Live recording (including introduction, always adding some value if not reenacted afterwards) from Grace Slick’s family ensemble, recorded (obviously) before and released after Airplane‘s success. Together with Conspicious Only in it’s Absence a great pair of live albums, from the famous San Francisco Matrix Club.

4. The Doors – Unhappy Girl (Strange Days, 1967)  [singlepic id=384 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Same era, same region, this tremendous Doors song with cracking organ riff. I’ve had a serious Doors year thanks to the many times their songs popped up in the shuffle, each time inciting me to play the complete albums. This one contains that raw, pure Doors sound from the debut album, which isn’t that strange as the songs of both records were written during the same period of time. Some kind of Amnesiac of its own era.

5. Buffalo Springfield – Hung Upside Down (Buffalo Springfield, 1967) [singlepic id=383 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Pass me the peace pipe once more, as we keep hanging around underneath the Californian sun. Another great switch by the shuffle, as the lead vocals don’t differ much from Morrison’s in the previous song. The stories of Buffalo Springfield’s origins are meanwhile almost as legendary as those about ‘successor’ CSNY, but we’ll concentrate on the role of those famous stages of that time. We discussed The Matrix Club before, and Buffalo Springfield’s first performance took place in Hollywood’s The Troubadour. A tour with The Byrds followed, after which Springfield became a regular at that third big club: The Wisky A Go Go. The disputes within the band were as similar as to CSNY’s ones and this (second) album even resembles Déjà-Vu as a collection of individual contributions of each band member. The joint tour de force of guitars and vocals in the end of this Stephen Stills song is very impressive, on an album on which the complete Westcoast elite is present, ranging from Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Jack Nitsche and … David Crosby.

6. Mogwai – With Portfolio (Mogwai Young Team, 1997) [singlepic id=285 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The piano intro is followed by sound effects that after two minutes inject this song with a serious load of stereo, a true gift for your headphones. A debut album from a post rock band can’t become much better than this.

7. Interpol – A Time To Be So Small (Antics, 2004) [singlepic id=282 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Unlike many other bands, Interpol didn’t just repeat the sound of their debut album, but didn’t improve it much either. Solid though, and they’d better stopped right here, as this closing track already lasts a little too long, just like the entire album and the band’s complete oeuvre.

8. The Olivia Tremor Control – Grass Canons (Black Foliage: Animation Music, 1999) [singlepic id=308 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The Elephant 6 was mentioned last time when talking about Of Montreal, and here we got its pioneers, founded by Will Hart, Bill Doss and Jeff Mangum. Mangum already left the band before the release of the first album (Dusk at Cubist Castle (1996)) to concentrate on Neutral Milk Hotel and the entire project basically stopped after this second and final album. This is in fact the complete anthithesis of the solid selling predictability of Interpol’s Antics: delicious Beatles-Beach Boys pop alternated with long, experimental audio-collages and brief intermezzos with a length that make the average GBV-fan become a little jealous.

9. Box Tops – I Pray for Rain (The Letter/Neon Rainbow, 1967) [singlepic id=385 w=80 h=50 float=left]

A last return to 1967 with this Memphis based band, but clearly rather an echo from the past than a glance into the future, as the artificial sound of rain and thunderstorm are rather touching after the sound effects in previous tracks. Closing track from an album that was released semi-obliged after the succesfull single ‘The Letter’, with Alex Chilton (who would later front Big Star) on lead vocals.

10. Grinderman – Electric Alice (Grinderman, 2007) [singlepic id=103 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Strong track, again dominated by several sound effects, that (combined with the shrilling guitar, the driving drums and the threatening voice of Cave) perfectly succeed to absorb you into the song. Cave’s temporary return to rawness after the baroque gospeltriumph on Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus.

Shuffle of the week #49

1. Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod (Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, 1992) [singlepic id=315 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Prereleased and succesfull single from Ministry’s fifth album, on which a blend of industrial and beat-driven speed metal bans out all melody. Most noteworthy is of course the title of the radio-edited version on the single: Short, Pusillanimous, So-They-Can-Fit-More-Commercials-On-The-Radio Edit.

2. The Chameleons – On The Beach (What Does Anything Mean? Basically, 1985) [singlepic id=382 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Post-punk with a classic rock line-up, from Northern-England during the 1980’s. That’s exactly what you get: dreamy guitar melodies and a drummer impersonating a computer. They disbanded after this album (before reuniting between 2000 and 2003), probably because they suffered from that typical post-punk syndrome, the lack of much variation in their songs, something they inevitably inherited from their testators.

3. Electric Light Orchestra – The Whale (Out of the Blue, 1977) [singlepic id=101 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Early morning in Robotland, where the population wakes up with a lot of bleeps and beeps till the mighty drums march in. After a while some deformed voices seep through and the landing of aliens seems to be completed. This could have been some avant-garde band from the early 2000’s if you didn’t know it’s ELO.

4. Caribou – Irene (Andorra, 2007) [singlepic id=380 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Exactly one of those acts I was referring to, thank you. The ideal opportunity for your headphones to act like they got a pair, with sounds draining away and rising up all over the place.

5. Kraftwerk – Numbers (Minimum Maximum, 2005) [singlepic id=166 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Recording from their live performance in San Francisco (2004), collected on this report from their world tour. It originally appeared on Kraftwerk’s eight album Computer World (1981), that successfully succeeded to defy the ungrateful fate of following up The Man Machine. Computer World (with great cover) continues to tell the story about the human being becoming one with his machine, although it is now called a computer.

6. Andrew Bird – Scythian Empires (Armchair Apocrypha, 2007) [singlepic id=81 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The Scyths was a generic term for different kinds of horseman tribes that reigned over the extensive plains in Eurasia for about ten centuries. No wonder this was a great source of inspiration for the young Andrew Bird when searching for a good subject to start his songwriting life. Awesome song, highlighted by the piano intermezzo, on a very strong album.

7. Led Zeppelin – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zeppelin, 1969) [singlepic id=27 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The proof on Led Zep’s debut album that Plant’s voice also sounds great along the acoustic guitar. It’s a traditional folk song that was written (and played) by Anne Bredon and later recorded for the first time by Joan Baez as the opener of her first live album. With Page and Plant both being fans of Baez it was only a matter of time before this song was transformed into a hard rock classic, right?

8. A Perfect Circle – Thomas (Mer de Noms, 2000) [singlepic id=379 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Band that was founded in 1999 by Billy Howerdel, who had been writing some songs in the years before. Maynard James Keenan offered his vocals already back then (Howerdel was one of Tool’s guitar technicians) and was eventually invited to form a band together. After adding some wigs and gigs in L.A., this album was released as the band’s debut. The line-up of backing musicians has changed numerous times since then, but Howerdel (music) – Keenan (lyrics) always remained a solid tandem.

9. Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (What’s Going On, 1971) [singlepic id=141 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Second sucessfull single (after the title track) from the album that is considered by some music professors as the best album ever made. Including a delicious sax solo by Wild Bill Moore in the second part.

10. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Own Me (A Girl Called Dusty, 1964) [singlepic id=381 w=80 h=50 float=left]

A girl called Dusty growing up, leaving the lighthearted pop trios behind and cautiously entering the worlds of Motown, Bacharach/David and Goffin/King. Excellent debut album from the Princess of the Swinging Sixties.

Shuffle of the week #48

1. Lemonheads – Rudderless (It’s a Shame About Ray, 1992) [singlepic id=105 w=80 h=50 float=left]

As written earlier, Boston based Lemonheads’ lonely claim to fame. Solid, melodic alternative rock that unfortunately quickly lost its rudder when it grew up.

2.Tom Waits – Diamonds & Gold (Rain Dogs, 1985) [singlepic id=89 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Satisfied with a bunker full of professional musicians (including Keith Richards), Tom snaps out for some fresh air and smokes a cigarette or ten on the roof top. Coming from the distant neon spoiled city, he can hear the industrial sound of synthesizers and drum machines. After inhaling a last shot of imagination, he’s ready to go back inside. Unleash the Chinese drunk and give me your best midget’s bar mitzvah’s sound.

3. Beirut – A Candle’s Fire (The Rip Tide, 2011) [singlepic id=92 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Not playing at the Ba Da Bing anymore, but at his own Pompeii label on this third album. Pleasant and fresh indie pop, but lacking the musical class from his first two albums. Looking forward to number four nevertheless.

4. The Doors – The Unknown Soldier (Waiting for the Sun, 1968) [singlepic id=343 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Like I said last time, probably the Doors album with their best songs on it. Although I consider this one not among them, it became the album’s first single (with a stripped-down outro) and closed side 1. Rather an anti-media than anti-war song, with typical Morrisonesk catharsis in the end.

5. Of Montreal – Eros’ Entropic Tundra (Satanic Panic in the Attic, 2004) [singlepic id=68 w=80 h=50 float=left]

According to its name, you might associate this band with Canadian peers like Islands, Sunset Rubdown, Apostle of Hustle and Arcade Fire. However, these guys are from Athens, Georgia and rather linked to a group of guys who regarded the unfinished Smile-album as their Holy Grail, recorded albums in their Pet Sounds Studio and like to hang around in their pedestrian-based eco-village: Elephant 6. Collective sixties-tribute.

6. Jack Eliott – Boll Weevil (Jack Takes the Floor, 1958) [singlepic id=378 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Traditional from Jack Eliott’s third studio album, recorded off-the-cuff in London while this New York cowboy (for real) was touring across the British pubs and nightclubs. Keith Richards and Paul McCartney could have been among his audience and after returning to the US, he adopted Bob Dylan as his musical son: all admirers of the Ramblin’ Jack Eliott.

7. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Country Girl (Déja Vu, 1970) [singlepic id=10 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Victory of vocals, with Young’s After the Gold Rush –visions still being very present on this song.

 

8. Feist – Honey Honey (The Reminder, 2007) [singlepic id=377 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Ending up in Canada at last, with former Broken Social Scene vocalist Leslie Feist. Feist broke through with her second album Let it Die, but this third one was the biggest success after all, especially commercially. Good album, although the shuffle didn’t hit its strongest track.

9. Spirit – Soldier (Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, 1970) [singlepic id=303 w=80 h=50 float=left]

What I said last time about Gary Usher’s work on The Notorious Byrd Brothers, does as well apply to David Briggs’ production of this fourth Spirit album: it completely disguised the hostilities between the band’s greatest actors, guitarist Randy California and singer Jay Ferguson. The original line-up still fell apart a month after the release, but the album was certified Gold five years later.

10. Beirut – The Bunker (Gulag Orkestar, 2006) [singlepic id=268 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The shuffle heard my prayers and delivers an early Beirut just in time, back in Tom’s bunker. Cheers.

Shuffle of the week #47

1. Fatboy Slim – Soul Surfing (You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, 1998) [singlepic id=371 w=80 h=50 float=left]

One of the less known tracks from the Hotel California of the nineties, freely dropping four singles in the top of the charts and personally bringing the big beat genre to the attention of the great audience thanks to all the hooks and well-chosen samples. Fair enough, but I’ll pick my druggy Hotel.

2. Ray Price – There’s No Fool Like A Young Fool (Night Life, 1963) [singlepic id=373 w=80 h=50 float=left]

I couldn’t have imagined a greater contrast to start this shuffle with, as we move over to mister Ray Price, born and died in Texas at the blessed age of 87. Price moved to Nashville during the early fifties, where he became the great ambassador of honky tonk. Just when Bakersfield was about to launch country music to prominence during the early sixties, Price released his best album about the real Night Life: not the preceding joyful expectations, not the ecstatic moments of drunkenness, but the disappointing conclusions right before closing time.

3. Pink Floyd – Pigs on the Wing 1 (Animals, 1977) [singlepic id=372 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Lighthearted, acoustic bookend about Waters’ girlfriend at that time, on Pink Floyd’s tenth album, that was itself bookended by Wish You Were Here and The Wall. On WYWH, Waters was primary aiming at the music industry of which Floyd had inevitably become part of. On Animals, he broadens his critical sight to late seventies Britain as a whole, drawing capitalist parallels with Orwell’s Animal Farm and presenting a decent successor to Selling England… from prog pals Genesis. Its promotion tour In the Flesh, with massive arena gigs culminating in Waters spitting at a fan, directly led to Water’s next project: The Wall.

4. The Beatles – When I’m Sixty Four (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967) [singlepic id=267 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Small step to another guy who loves the bass, himself and the idea of a good concept album. And of course, McCartney (who wrote the song when he was 16, to record it only eight years later when his father turned 64) wouldn’t be McCartney if he didn’t add a clarinet trio to this composition.

5. The Mountain Goats – Song for Dennis Brown (The Sunset Tree, 2005) [singlepic id=375 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Indi folk band from California, that originally consisted mainly of singer John Darnielle. He led a lo-fi life with an overwhelming need to write songs throughout the nineties, before recording well-thought through albums in the new century. After discussing his meth years on the third one, this album treats his not so enviable childhood. This album breathes revenge.

6. Echo & The Bunnymen – Rescue (Crocodiles, 1980) [singlepic id=35 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Jim Morrison meets The Smiths, literally, on this lead single from The Bunnymen’s (Liverpool) debut album. Nothing to laugh about here, that way setting the tone for a series of four strong albums. And those covers, those beautiful covers…

7. Blind Faith – Presence of the Lord (Blind Faith, 1969) [singlepic id=369 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Probably the strongest track on this muscular album, with Clapton on guitar and vocals from Steve Winwood. Talking about album covers, this must be one of the weirdest in rock history. The portrayed 11-years old girl asked for a horse as compensation for the use of her image, but had to settle with 40 pounds…

8. The Move – The Last Thing on My Mind (Shazam, 1970) [singlepic id=205 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Clapton and Winwood fantastically fade into one of my absolute favorite cover songs of all time. It was originally written by Tom Paxton and covered numerous times afterwards. But this version absolutely tops them all: top class vocals complemented by delicious guitar solos towards the end.

9. Sonic Youth – Rain King (Daydream Nation, 1988) [singlepic id=374 w=80 h=50 float=left]

A jump in time, but the guitars are still there on this electric powertrip. They took their time, but with this album, Sonic Youth brought the guitar back home. Not in any specific nation, but at the forefront of the music scene.

10. Broken Social Scene – Shampoo Suicide (You Forgot It in People, 2002) [singlepic id=370 w=80 h=50 float=left]

A pleasant surprise after my recent addiction to Apostle of Hustle’s Folkloric Feel, although this track rather sounds like Tortoise or something like that. Didn’t like BSS’s debut album, but this one is a young and modest classic.

Shuffle of the week #46

1. Tindersticks – Cherry Blossoms (Tindersticks II, 1995) [singlepic id=70 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Strings-piano duet from Tindersticks’ (Nottingham) second self-titled album. Lost the band out of sight for a few years but listening this record again a few times proved that I have to regret that, especially the strings on several tracks (recorded at Abbey Road) are intriguing. Imagine that the lyrics were sung in German and it would be the perfect soundtrack for a Stasi movie.

2. Guided By Voices – Exit Flagger (Propeller, 1992) [singlepic id=365 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Dayton’s finest featuring sound wizard Robert Pollard as its only captain, whose characterizing voice kicks in after a classic guitar intro. Propeller was GBV’s fifth album, and the first one that gained them some nationwide attention. Ironically, only 500 copies of it were originally released, all with different, handmade artwork. Another artisanal credit: the intro of the opening track was reenacted by the band itself during the recording sessions.

3. The Troggs – From Home (From Nowhere, 1966) [singlepic id=368 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The Troggs? ‘Wild Thing’, right? Yes, their cover of Chip Taylor’ song will always remain the first thing that crosses into people’s minds when asked after this band (if anything at all comes up, that is). Is there more to say? Yes, The Troggs were a classic mid-sixties British (Andover) four piece band that had eleven other songs on this debut album of which at least eight are to be classified somewhere in between ‘worth listening’ and ‘great song’. However, although much cited as an influence for later garage bands, they have more in common with early Beach Boys and Lennon-McCartney compositions.

4. Pink Floyd – On the Turning Away (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987) [singlepic id=128 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Roger Waters left Floyd in 1985 after using it as a vehicle for his personal trilogy Animals, The Wall and The Final Cut. Gilmour and Mason asked Richard Wright to rejoin the band and together they proved (with this album) what Waters probably believed to be impossible: that Pink Floyd without Waters would still be a more successful act than Waters on his own. One of the better songs on the album, including typical Gilmour solos and biting backing vocals.

5. Vampire Weekend – Walcott (Vampire Weekend, 2008) [singlepic id=160 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Probably the best song on this terrific debut album. Affirming what was stated last time.

 

6. The Byrds – Tribal Gathering (The Notorious Byrd Brothers, 1968) [singlepic id=367 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Great Crosby song, that could as well have been appeared on his later projects Crosby, Stills & Nash or Déjà Vu. Not surprisingly, these projects were started right after this album, as he was already fired at the release of it, giving the horse the opportunity to feature the cover of one of rock’s greatest albums. Melody and experimentation dance with each other, while Gary Usher’s production completely wiped the underlying tensions (drummer Michael Clarke also left the band and former member Gene Clark made a temporary comeback of three weeks).

7. Tame Impala – The Bold Arrow of Time (Innerspeaker, 2010) [singlepic id=97 w=80 h=50 float=left]

From the debut of this Australian (Perth) band, if you want to call it a band because it’s a one man project. Kevin Parker recorded the vocals and most of the instrumentation on this album, that sounds like 13th Floor Elevators walking into a 2010 studio.

8. Lambchop – Popeye (OH (Ohio), 2008) [singlepic id=184 w=80 h=50 float=left]

American equivalent of today’s opener, with a song from their tenth album. Eventually sounds like a hit sensitive song featuring a catchy ‘lalala’ chorus, but halfway it suddenly transforms into an Afghan Whigs track, somehow cleverly combined with a southern touch. Interesting.

9. Creedence Clearwater Revival – It Came Out of the Sky (Wily and the Poor Boys, 1969) [singlepic id=5 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Although John Fogerty could also offer you a serious jam when he wanted to (only think of ‘Susie Q’), it was especially after the fog above the psychedelic San Francisco was cleared that CCR claimed most of its fame. A roots sound started to dominate the American rock scene, led by this band and The Band.

10. The Bees – No Trophy (Sunshine Hit Me, 2002) [singlepic id=366 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Must have been over five years since I heard this. British band from the Isle of Wight, led by Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher. Sounds Caribean, but is also perfectly served on a European summer morning underneath a tree.

50 Albums you must hear before you buy a house 3.0 (6)

Happy New House Year:

GVZ:

5. (23) Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)
“Here we are: the melancholic romanticist, some morally omniscient cynics and the one that just tells me to get stoned. Unfortunately I don’t have a basement, my friends.”

4. (5) Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
“The completion of that download, the uncompromising support tour: for the first time in my life I consciously witnessed rock history being written.”

3. (8) Love – Forever Changes (1967)
“Who gives a shit about forever? The Now Album.”

2. (2) The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
“If they would have replaced ‘Yellow Submarine’ by ‘Paperback Writer/Rain’, this list would have been a dictatorship.”

1. (1) The Velvet Underground and Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
“What has become of democracy anyway?”

RKH:

5. (20) DJ Shadow – Endtroducing… (1996)
“Technological deconstruction leading into organical reconstruction. The first true musical collage that actually sounds great.”

4. (4) The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
“The Big Bang. The start of an ever expanding revolution that’s still being felt today. But tomorrow? It’ll never know.”

3. (2) Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)
“Ying. Mysticism, conjured by a 23 year old seer. The musical definition of The Divine Touch.”

2. (1) Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity. We shouldn’t flee from this revelation, but embrace it with every fiber of our being. Let this album be your guide.”

1. (9) Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
“Sitdown and listen, really listen. Take it all in. Poignant lyrics, passionate singing and subtle yet overwhelming melodies. A sum greater than it’s parts, which 43 years later still makes me wonder why the most relevant questions are often times the least asked ones.”

GF:

5. The Who – Who’s Next (1971)
“Een oerkracht van protest en  schreeuwen in de verre wildernis.”

4. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971)
“Verslavend, strak en geil, van de platenhoes tot de nummers.”

3. Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
“Zang, teksten en instrumenten verweven tot een magisch geheel, zoals het samenkomen van zon en regen.”

2. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
“Zware gitaren, fluisterende stemmen, pakkende melodieën en teksten over gevoelens die ieder kent maar nog nooit zo mooi gehoord heeft.”

1. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (1975)
“And every one of them songs rang true and glowed like buning coal.”