Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This is the Sea, The Waterboys
The Joshua Tree, U2
Life’s Rich Pageant, R.E.M.
Graceland, Paul Simon
SwordfishTrombone, Tom Waits
Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits
Starfish, The Church
Live 1975-1985, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Copperhead Road, Steve Earle
Amonia Avenue, Alan Parsons Project
This is based entirely on my own enjoyment of the music, rather than on my perception of its historical significance. I found it very hard to eliminate some of my other favorites, so for those who are interested in such things, I'll include the other albums that I originally listed before the painful sorting exercise began. These are partially sorted, but I gave up trying to complete that task.
Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys
Lyle Lovett, Lyle Lovett
Eastern Wind, Chris de Burgh
Making Movies, Dire Straits
The River, Bruce Springsteen
Fleetwood Mac Live, Fleetwood Mac
Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
In My Tribe, 10,000 Maniacs
The Unforgettable Fire, U2
If I Should Fall From Grace with God, The Pogues
Fables of the Reconstruction, R.E.M.
Diesel and Dust, Midnight Oil
Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty
The Game, Queen
The Lonesome Jubilee, John Mellencamp
The Rose of England, Nick Lowe
The Wishing Chair, 10,000 Maniacs
Crowded House, Crowded House
Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega
Rain Dogs, Tom Waits
Pontiac, Lyle Lovett
The Final Cut, Pink Floyd
Various Positions, Leonard Cohen
The Turn of a Friendly Card, Alan Parsons Project
Gossip, Paul Kelly & The Messengers
Eye in the Sky, Alan Parsons Project
Scarecrow, John Mellencamp
Exit 0, Steve Earle
Red Roses for Me, The Pogues
Love Over Gold, Dire Straits
Up to Here, The Tragically Hip
The Traveling Wilburys Vol. I, The Traveling Wilburys
Slow Turning, John Hiatt
So, Peter Gabriel
Most of my favourite eighties music is nowhere to be seen here, which would include That Petrol Emotion's "Babble", Husker Du's "New Day Rising" (or Zen Arcade), Midnight Oil's "Diesel and Dust", REM's "Murmur" or "Reckoning" (I mean, c'mon!), The Feelies' "Only Life", Waterboys "This is the Sea" or "Fisherman's Blues", Billy Bragg's "Talking with the Taxman about Poetry", Camper Van Beethoven's "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart", Smithereens "Especially for You", Paul Kelly's "Gossip", The Church's "Starfish" (or Heyday or Remote Luxury), or The Jazz Butcher's "Fishcotheque" or "Bloody Nonsense".
In terms of nineties and oughts, I won't go on at length, but a few oversights like Nevermind (ridiculous to exclude), but for me also Eleventh Dream Day's "El Moodio" Sufjan Stevens "Illinoise", Sebadoh's "Bakesale" and a ton of others.
Not to discourage further discussion of this list, but my rantings above prompt me to ask for input (given that I'm back to downloading via Azureus) on everyone's Favourite Records of the 1980's. A top ten, ideally.
Wondering if I can get some input from the likes of Derek and Stuart and (dare I hope) Marc, on this, as well, of course, as the new regular threesome of me, Mike and Kyle.
Monday, June 23, 2008
This is their 'Best Albums of the Past 25 Years', which takes us back to 1983 (can you believe I failed Grade 11 and 12 Math?). While there are some odd choices and the rankings are ridiculous, it's not an altogether horrid list. Not sure how Amy Winehouse cracks the top 10 or Nirvana's Unplugged disc makes the list while Nevermind is nowhere to be found....my guess is that they're being deliberately provocative.... I'm happy to see they've included 'Disintegration', 'Slanted & Enchanted', 'Surfer Rosa', 'Loveless', 'Low-life', 'Siamese Dream', 'The Queen is Dead', 'Play', 'Dummy', 'The Soft Bulletin', 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot', among others but it's a weird list overall. The Bjork choice is 'Homogenic'...really? Kind of luck saying you like the third Strokes album the best.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Always thought Malkmus was a cross between Dave Lowry of Cracker and J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.. My evidence:
Total excuse to post youtube vids on a Friday. Happy weekend all.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
And Kyle, re Malkmus (from Pavement....Mike, I assume you know this but just in case) I think it is his voice that elevates the songs. It works so in tandem with the shambolic lo-fi-ness in their earlier records that it is hard to separate the two. But it's a remarkably expressive instrument in its own right.
As for your other questions, Neko Case always elevates a song for me...'soaring' seems to be the best, albeit clichéd way to describe her voice but there's a fullness to it that feels as though it were being carried across a landscape. Her songs are good to begin with though. An example of a bad singer who doesn't ruin a song might be Leonard Cohen, (see: 'Suzanne') . Do so many Pavement songs work in spite of or because of Malkmus' voice? [For sure, their videos suck].
Frank Sinatra certainly made an ordinary song sublime....'Fly me to the moon/Let me play among the stars' is no great poetry but the words sound golden when they come out of his mouth. Chet Baker also lifts many of the jazz standards.
For a more recent example, Sam Beam from Iron & Wine writes some very non-complex, stripped down acoustic songs but his voice envelops you in its warmth, even when the material has recorded on low-fi equipment in his own home, which I believe was the case with 'The Creek Drank the Cradle'. I'd argue that may qualify as lifing the material but I'm guessing what you're looking for are examples where the source material is bad in the first place.
Will keep pondering on that one.
Mike did a great job of feretting out singers that I've always disliked, but, in the case of Richard Thompson, had never admitted to myself that he ruined great songs for me. There are countless when you start to think about it - I've always disliked Adam Dortiz of Counting Crows (the update Van Morisson croon is deeply pretentious) and yes I believe he ruined a few really good songs; that annoying voice from the Wedding Present (Gedge, I think) also took an entire oeuvre off the rails for me; Antony (of the Johnsons is grating) beyond belief, and so was the lead falsetto singer for The Ass Ponys (looking back into the nineties); that singer (name escapes me) with the girly voice who plays the harp. Yes, all of the gravel-voiced morons who ruined grunge; even Bono is a caricature of himself most of the time these days. Neil Diamond of course became pretty ridiculous fairly quickly (sorry Mike and Stu), there are hundreds of others if you start to look back a bit.
Two other questions - how about some bad (technically) singers who strangely don't ruin songs, and even elevate them? What about the singer who, given the quality of his/her voice, makes an ordinary song sublime?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Mike, some great choices, imo. Not sure if Axel Rose or David Lee Roth annoy the shit out of me more...guess it comes down to whether the former's conscious warbling constitutes a greater crime than the latter's buffoonish yelping? Kudos for singling out Carol Pope, who thankfully hasn't had much airplay since the early 1980s. Derek, I think you've correctly identified 'Black Velvet' by Alannah Myles as the worst Canadian single ever but I think it's more the lyrics than than vocals on which this indictment is based.
Others that spring to mind: the lead singer from the band 'Cake' (at least Fred from the B52s has a sense of camp, this guy aims for ironic detachment while still trolling for gags and the result is that I'm bored and irritated at the same time), James Blunt (only time a human sound put to music prompts the question: is someone torturing or fellating that cat?) Hootie, frontman for Blowfish (no explanation required), the lead singers of nth generation retread grunge bands like Creed, Nickelback, Glueleg, etc., (falls under the category of shooting fish in a barrel) and finally, P.J. Harvey (perhaps some find the devolution into wailing that typifies most of her work to be emotionally powerful...i just find myself wondering why i'm listening to someone wailing).
Time to go back to work....'if you were/Winona Ryder...' damn!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In addition to pieces previously published in various magazines like Spin, The Believer, and NYTimes Magazine, are a few little additional side pieces, one of which poses the following hypothetical question:
"You meet your soul mate. However, there is a catch: Every three years, someone will break both of your soul mate's collarbones with a crescent wrench, and there is only one way you can stop this from happening: You must swallow a pill that will make every song you hear--for the rest of your life--sound as if it's being performed by the band Alice in Chains. When you hear Creedence Clearwater Revival on the radio, it will sound (to your ears) like it's being played by Alice in Chains. If you see Radiohead live, every one of their tunes will sound like it's being covered by Alice in Chains. When you hear a commercial jingle on TV, it will sound like Alice in Chains; if you sing to yourself in the shower, your voice will sound like deceased Alice vocalist Layne Staley performing a capella (but it will only sound this way to you).
Would you swallow the pill?"
Of course, I found this quite funny because I've always loathed Alice in Chains. But it gave me the idea to ask if you could come up with a list of at least 5 singers/bands whose vocal stylings so grate on your nerves that you'd consider consigning the love of your life to tri-annual random violence.
Several of you have expressed a distate for the lead singer of the National, which Stuart and I continue to find irrational to the point of idiocy, so I'll throw that one out to get you started.
We could also come up with a list of favourite vocalists if you really feel you must put a positive spin on things but let's 'go neg' first, shall we?
Monday, June 16, 2008
As for emusic suggestions, some I've downloaded over the last three months include:
- Ida - folky, pretty harmonies, perfect summer Sunday music
- Pete & the Pirates - bad band name but great jangly pop songs
- Headlights - kind of derivative but if you like Elliot Smith, Belle &Seb, similar music, you'll likely find this collection of songs enjoyable
Am contemplating getting the new My Morning Jacket disc, 'Evil Urges'. Reviews are all over the place and I'm not digging what I'm hearing on my first few listens of some sample tracks so I'm not sure. I'll likely get it anyway, given that on emusic, it will cost me all of $3.
Any other emusic folks out there have any recent download suggestions? Or shall I assume you're hitting the refresh button on the Taylor Swift album which, inexplicably, has yet to appear any lower than #3 on the emusic charts for the past year and a half.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
As for discovering new stuff, I've added some a set of links to the right under the title of 'Streams & Downloads" which might help.
Hype Machine contains links to music blogs as well as daily playlists from contributors with a good mix of old and new tracks, as well as remixes and mashups. Stereogum offers a combination of free mp3s and mixed compilation downloads as well as streams, news and video.
Fingertips is a great website that features new mp3s and a service that will email you a weekly list of picks for the cost of zero. The previously spotted (kudos, Derek) Muxtape, which allows anybody to upload a weekly playlist; the list will only stay up for one week at a time, i guess due to copyright concerns.
Also, if anybody doesn't/hasn't listened to the most recent NPR All Songs Considered podcast, where a panel of music writers discuss the 'soundtracks' of different generations, I recommend that you do so. It's an interesting discussion and touches on some conversations that we've all had at one point, either here or offline.
Okay, no more links for today. Go back to watching Euro soccer updates.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
As a consolation, I have a CD of Andrew Cash's Hi which I can lend you.