Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another one - Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Some would no doubt argue that there are better PF records but this is actually my fave.

Kyle - BDB is your all time fave? That is indeed idiosyncratcic. Good on ya.
Badly Drawn Boy and The Doors are nice additions there, Bri, and possible nominees for top 5. On a personal level, the Badly Drawn Boy is probably the best debut of all and also the most disappointing in terms of subsequent releases. For a less idiosyncratic nomination, I'd go with Hendrix.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here a bunch of others, some of which might be top ten for me:

- Crosby Stills and Nash
- Joe Jackson - Look Sharp
- Buffalo Springfield
- Chicago Transit Authority
- Led Zeppelin (although two, three, and four were all better)
- Hendrix (though Ladyland was equal or better)
- Lloyd Cole - Rattlesnakes
- Moby Grape
- The Pretenders
- Traffic - Mr. Fantasy
- Nico - Chelsea Girl
- Big Dipper - Heavens (I'll play some of this when we get together)
- Badly Drawn Boy
- Santana
- The Police
- Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque (though it's not their debut, apparently...who knew?)

Good choices all - I like the Rickie Lee Jones one Mike, I wouldn't have thought it, and it's a great record.

I've got about 50 that I jotted down - the list is at home though. I either like or love all of the records already proposed, and a number of them would make my (in particular Costello, Smiths, Strokes), so for now I'll put a quick list of ones I either (a) absolutely love to death that have been mentioned but I've got to echo or (b) great openers that haven't been. Also with an eye towards some representation per decade, despite the obvious tilt toward the sixties. The other thing I tend to exclude just instinctively (though not fairly) is an artist whose first record while great was signficantly bettered (in my opinion) by later records.

The Byrds - Tambourine Man (maybe my number one). Simply sublime, created a genre of music that's still going strong (anyone like a little jangle and harmony in their pop?)

The Doors - unbelievable record that still sounds completely unique.

Velvet Undergound and Nico - ditto comments for the Doors, though this record I love with a white (though appropriately nihilistic and cynical) hot passion. Maybe the most influential "indy" record of all time.

Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks. It brought punk to the masses. Plus it's filled with great songs.

The Cars - Wow. Never had a band sounded anything like this. New wave hits the big time.

REM - Murmur - among all of their great records of the eighties this is the best. Defined the college scene.

Pearl Jam - 10. Hasn't necessarily aged well for me, but was so crucial at the time.

Weezer - note the connection to Rik Ocasek (yes, this one sounds unbelievable too). I knew the 90's was for real when the music on the charts sounded this good. So much crunch, wit, and angst all blended together.

And in terms of artists that looked great and then (more or less) fizzled, Oasis is a great chioce. The Strokes is another one. Tracey Chapman comes to mind, as do the Cars. There are many others which I will add tonight.

Two more questions:

(1) Anyone have the balls to say "here is the greatest debut"? (2) as a flip side question, which bands do you think reached the highest heights despite middling or just plain bad starts? (3) Finally, where is Derek? Still out at Betty's maybe.

In the category of debut albums, I do have to nominate Boston, though I'm no longer into that music as I once was. Not only was their first album and enormous commercial success, the story goes that it was essentially a meticulous home recording that required very little in the way of post-production for its commercial release. If that is true, it is an astonishing feat, especially in the days before inexpensive digital quality home recording systems.

The other album that leaps to mind (and is also a strong candidate for the false hopes category) is Rickie Lee Jones' first album. I listened to that one just the other day, and I still think it's great. According to AMG, she did releaese some impressive stuff later in her career, but I think she's flitted between genres to the extent that she has been lost in the mix.

And while I'm at it, two more debut albums that I really loved were Crowded House and the Bodeans' Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams. But I don't expect that either of those albums garnered enough critical acclaim to appear on any definitive lists.

good picks in nick drake and oasis, stu. two that i haven't listened to in awhile, esp. the gallagher bros.

in fact, i would nominate them for contenders in the second question that you posed, bri, about bands who showed great promise on the first couple of releases and then faded rather quickly. by their third album, the 'hey jude'-like na na na nas moved to the beginning of almost every song and their on-stage antics quickly became tiresome, and there may have been the odd song here and there afterwards that i'd listen to for more than a minute but nothing close to the near greatness of the first two releases.

will try to come up with some others. in the meantime, more embedded video, this time a related cover:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

all good choices , great debuts....a few more that worked especially for me
the band-music at big pink
oasis-definately maybe
costello-my aim is true
nick drake-5 leaves
kate bush-the kick inside
jeff buckley-grace
jackson brown-self titled
next i will try and list some new purchases that the artist has yet to build on...
to try to predict who will make it...this is obviously more difficult
Two very good questions, Bri and well worth pondering. A third could be, "Drinks on a Monday night?"

As to the first ?, how about:

"Slanted and Enchanted" - Pavement
"Funeral" - Arcade Fire
"The Stone Roses" - The Stone Roses
"The Smiths" - The Smiths
"Is This It?" - The Strokes
"The Velvet Underground and Nico (banana) - Velvet Underground
"Unknown Pleasures" - Joy Division
"Surfer Rosa/Come On, Pilgrim" - The Pixies
"Murmur" - R.E.M.
"Debut" - Bjork

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wow, that's pretty wacked. Really odd but cool. I've got to spend more time on youtube. Doesn't hurt that it's got one of my favourite VU songs as its backing (more on them in a moment), and with some pretty cool visuals in there.

Re the Dylan, I'll confess my multi tasking was somewhat limited - I think I managed to read four of Wallace Stevens' shorter poems in two hours. Just to end the suspense that's been killign you all for the past week, the album I was listening to was Bringing it all Back Home, which I've always thought of as a transitional album (ie from folky Bob to blues rocky Bob) but actually the blend that's on that record is fantastic. Some of his best (or my favourite anyway) material - Tambo Man, It's All Over Now, Subterranean Homesick, It's Alright Ma - and then some songs that fly below the radar that are amazing - like She Belongs to Me, Love Minus Zero. What a great record.

Up until last Tuesday I would have said, fairly reflexively, that this was my favourite Dylan record. It probably still is. For me Blonde on Blonde doesn't quite compare song for song, though it has a some great tracks, and perhaps as importantly, it is a little bit "more of the same", stylistically, whereas 61 was Dylan as a rocker, full bore, for the first time. Both are great records. I do really like Blood on the Tracks, but it's the sixties Dylan that really works for me, and Blood is more of a return to form than him at his peeak, in my opinion.

The other record that I would put forward is The Freewheelin' Bob, which is one of the great folk records of all time, wouldn't you say? Mr. Mercer, enough silence from you on this.

And speaking of VU and Derek, we had beers at Betty's last night (always a fruitful combination for blog topics) and discussed the following two (related) topics:

- what is the greatest debut album of all time? Tough one I know....More manageably, which ten make it into the pantheon?
- and secondly (could be the same bands), which bands are the best examples of having enormous promise based on the first (or first few) releases only to end up as relatively minor contributors to music history? Which current bands are in danger of joining that group?
A Monday morning mashup:

Kinda cool. Love it when positive happy songs are rendered psychedelically creepy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blonde on Blonde.
And yeah, I'm a bit of a mutlitasker myself, listening to music while reading quite a bit of time, but I find it difficult to read and listen to anything with lyrics, let alone Dylan. What were you thinking, Herr Doyle? I suspect you were also smoking a gauloise and wearing a beret. having sex while ......ok Ill stop there Mike....
I would have to say the dylan question, thats a tough choice....but for me it would have to be blood on the tracks...because it is flawless, and I seem to need to listen to it regularly
.having recently listened to hwy 61 all the way through on a car trip , it would be very close...
that album while almost reaching perfection, still has a few weak moments, (though you may disagree)...... blond on blond maybe tied with it for second...
6 others would tie for 3rd...
Nashville skyline would be in there as a heavily under rated album...along with desire, john wesley harding , another side of , oh mercy, and bringing it all back home....
something like that anyways...
I'll give the Dylan album question some thought, Brian, but in the meantime, I have to ask how you can enjoy listening to Dylan's music while reading poetry, presumably by some other writer. Isn't that like reading a book while watching a different movie? Like tasting a fine wine while chewing on a fresh stick of gum? Driving a car while playing a video game? You get my point...
Hello men. I've just spent a couple of hours at a splendid new cafe on Broadview overlooking the park and the cityscape, listening to music and reading poetry. I am a freaking cliche. Nevertheless, at the risk of (over)stating the obvious, I had the revelation that I don't do this sort of thing often enough. A glorious morning out there. But wait, it gets better. I listened to two albums in their entirety - imagine! Whole albums with undivided attention! Amazing.

(This harkens back to your editorial (borderline polemic) of last week Stu, which I won't reply to for the moment, though I will say that I sympathize with your point but tend to agree with Kyle).

And not to give my hand away, but one of them was a Dylan record. So the question of the day for this somewhat muted gang is - which is your favourite Dylan record and why?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Don't let your babies grow up to be musicians, I guess.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stuart, great question, you should really drink more wine (is this humanly possible?). Your postprandial insights, and, paradoxically, improved grammar and spelling, are testaments to the gentle powers of the fermented grape.

I am very much struggling to absorb the amount of music I purchase on a monthly basis, which, as you astutely surmise, includes not just the 90 emusic downloads (say, 6 albums conservatively), but two or three other albums either purchased through itunes or on disc. Add to the fact that I have music on both my home and work computers, that the hard drive on the former, which houses my music collection in its entirety, is quickly exceeding capacity, that my 60gb ipod can't contain all the songs so it contains an ever-shifting variety of new and old music, none of which ever seems to contain either the older song I want to hear at a given time or a newer album I've recently downloaded and haven't yet transferred (often due to lack of space on the ipod), and that my iphone, which is even smaller in size and syncs only with my work laptop, which holds only a fraction of the music I download, is usually the only player I carry with me on the road, which is where I get most of my listening time in, and well, you get a sense of the difficulties I'm having in, as you put it, reconcilling the vast quantities of music at my disposal with my limited amount of time to appreciate it.

Having said that, I'm loathe to give up my grandfathered-in, extremely generous 90 d/ls for $24 per month or 1,080 tracks per year or 72+ albums (at a conservative 15 tracks per album average, more if you consider that many of the discs are closer to 12 tracks per) for $288 or just under $4/album. And as you also noted, there are many artists who aren't available on emusic in Canada, which forces me elsewhere if I want to purchase that music.

So, while I'm unwilling to get off the 'grab as much music as I can' merry-go-round, I also don't have time to get in those minimum 3-5 listens per album that Mike suggests, and with which I'll wholeheartedly agree, are required to really understand an album.

The way I see it, my options at this point are:
  • reduce my downloads and/or quit emusic and limit my consumption to that which I can actually consume [chance of short term adoption: 5%]
  • come up with a better system for evaluating new music that ensures I devote enough time to the new stuff to properly grasp/understand/love/loathe it [chance of short term adoption: 5%]
  • resign myself to the fact that i may not get around to listening to all the new stuff and that it may sit on my hard drive untouched and unloved, like so many plastic wrapped discs sitting on a shelf in Derek's apartment, where, like a fine wine (bringing the post full circle now to your original vino-themed opening), it will age gracefully, waiting for that perfect day to be opened and either savoured with gusto or spat out like the oxidized, trichloroanisole-tainted plonk it has revealed itself to be [chance of short term adoption: 90%]

I'm open to other suggestions, and, as always, to wine recommendations.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yes - that is exactly my problem, Stuart! I currently have a 50 song subscription to emusic. I'm not buying much additional music these days - I completely agree that emusic's catalog is too limited to be my sole source of music, but I'm currently operating on a constrained budget while I wait for some company to recognize the obvious benefits of adding me to their staff. Corporate hiring managers have proven to be remarkably dim-witted about that. Nonetheless, even at 50 new songs per month, I am not able to fully digest everything. I generally need to hear a new album 3-5 times before I can fully form my opinion of it. But between listening to the new music and revisiting old favorites, it can take a very long time for me to get those listens in. Consequently, I have a large and growing amount of music that I don't even know if I really like or not. I've taken to loading up my ipod with the latest 3-4 months of additions plus a selection of older music, and then listening to the albums in alphabetical order, which intersperses the new and the old. My other problem is that I have so many albums now that I find it daunting to select them, either for loading onto the ipod or for playing on my home system.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

a few passably related topics here...
i am closing in on the end of a bottle of 2005 Maleatis red wine from greece that i bought a year or 2 ago and I am quite loving it... not knowing anything (at all really) about greek wine , I bought it (like a good little tourist) because it has a silver medal sticker , was almost sold out, and was only 20 bucks.... I checked online after enjotying it so much to find nothing much on it. This made me think that maybe wines are similar to music (or art in general) that there is much good stuff out there that generally goes un-noticed (except locally w the greek wine medal), so the real game is to find this good stuff at very reasonable prices...I wonder how much sucsess you lot have at this game??? It is certainly hit and miss for me, but tonight I got lucky...My segue (sp??) to topic two may be weak but the happily arrived at state of bliss from the wine , and listening to a wonderfull (if self laudatory) playlist of old and new music which I am made a while ago made me think of a topic I discussed w Derek last week regarding (of course) music....
Currently I have only a 30 song a month emusic subscription...pardon me while I refil my glass...........................................................................................................................................................................
but i also buy about 3 cds a month because a lot of good music is a little larger than emusic can get the rights to....Really if all you are buying is emusic you dont get out enough...
So I am trying to process at the very least 1.5 cds a week of new music... Now I listen to pretty well everything I have ever purchased, so as I age the math becomes at a certain age I can no longer listen to some music because I have too dammn much of it... Also, the stuff I really love ( say belle and sebastian for egample) I listen too almost bi-weekly, and there are a bunch of bands like them that I listen to so much its ...well...absurd... Bob Dylan, DEcemberists to name this brings me to my first point..
-Sorry kyle but you are in my line of sight here.... you have ( last we spoke ) a 90 song selection, add that to what you buy on cd, ( since you must do that) ....there must be tons of music that gets lost to you, or else you dont repeat listen much ( I really doubt that) or else you dont go back and listen to stuff you liked in the past but now find dated, ( I doubt that too because you like 80's stuff so much..( a fault I am ready to overlook)..
so my question is ( unfortunately using Kyle as the bait) ..
How does a music lover reconcille the vast quantities of music at our dispersal... How do we decipher what is good form average because a lot of stuff we all agree is great we only teally understand after repeated listenings....
In short I propose that a better stategy may be to buy less... be more disciminate... and listen more to the fewer purchases...perhaps play it safe and listen more to those dreaded biases unoriginal music critics...
damn I dont know the answer, but it is worth pondering
Two good examples in Holly and Baker, of record companies going to the well too many times with the same music. And here I thought that Tupac Shakur was the only one who released more albums after he died than when he was alive. I assume there's money in constantly reissuing and repackaging the same music year after year. I just wonder why, with all the new music out there to explore and review, sites like pitchfork choose to review the same old same old again and again. Increased page views? Also, why didn't Buddy Holly ever release an album with N.I.G.G.A.Z. in the title?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's even more pronounced in the jazz world. FOr illustrative purposes I give you the "compilation" section of the Chet Baker discography on Keep in mind that Chet died (a mysteriosu fall from a window in Amsterdam, no less) in 1988. Ridiculous! I am as big a CB fan as you're likely going to come across, and I would recommend "must haves" at about 3 records. I don't really understand how multiple labels are able to access / issue the same music time and time again.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Yes, the relentless re-issuing of existing music is annoying, but it is by no means limited to indie bands. Look at Buddly Holly, for example. He released 5 albums before his untimely death, and that music has been re-packaged dozens and dozens of times. In fact, according to AMG, since his final studio album in 1964, the only years that have NOT seen at least one Buddy Holly compilation album are 1973 and 1976. The Doors and Jimi Hendrix catalogs have been similarly abused. I wonder what business case drives this behaviour. I can readily understand that there is still a market for Buddy Holly among younger people who are hearing some of his songs for the first time. But how can it make sense to continually create new packages containing those same songs? Why not keep selling the existing catalog plus one or two well-crafted compilations for the casual listener?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

You know, I've always enjoyed Galaxie 500, with their dreamy ethereal, drony guitar pop fondly evoking uni days for me, bonus points bestowed for being progenitor of even more enjoyable Luna but when I came across this review in Pitchfork the other day I kind of had to scream a bit.
My issue, in the form of a rhetorical question: How many motherfucking times does a motherfucking obscure indie band from the late 80s/early 90s have to motherfucking reissue their motherfucking music? Given they reissued their sum total 3 studio albums a decade ago, as well as a box set of music in mid-1997, then a rarities disc from the box set separately a few years after that, plus the requisite Peel Sessions disc, doesn't a third decade on reissue of all three albums seem a tad motherfucking excessive?

Any other 'too many trips to the well' examples you can conjure up/muster enough outrage to curse about?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A pre-long weekend chuckle. Anybody still play their cassettes?