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Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

Review of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

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Score = A+


scroll down to listen to this entire album on youtube (embedded in this blog post)!

It’s like the Grateful Dead, but more restrained, but notably of it’s time (2001).  Wilco’s highly acclaimed, and well deserving, album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, mixes psychedelic rock with a hint of country resulting in a sound that is jam band-ish; except without the lengthy jams.

I’ve only listened to the album 3 times now (I am on my 4th listen as I type this), but already I like it a lot. Turn this album on and get ready for 51 minutes of easy listening. Give it all of your attention, or give it none – you’ll appreciate it just the same. YHF could be the centerpiece of a shroom trip or maybe road trip music for a family vacation on the way to visit relatives. There is just such a simple, ageless vibe to the music. In fact the genius is so simple that you might not realize it at first (would that make it, in reality, complex?). The first time I listened to some songs off YHF I thought, ‘Boring!’ I gave it another try a few months later and it hit me like an epiphanizing epiphany: this will go down in history as a classic album.

There’s no adrenaline pumping hype songs, no thought provoking brain boggler songs, no frills at all really. What you get with Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is about an hour of laid back ‘just kickin’ it’ music. Feeling hyped? Listen to old-school Three 6 Mafia. Feeling depressed? Listen to The Bends. Feeling normal and just wanting to relax on a Sunday night? Listen toYankee Hotel Foxtrot. It’s that kind of music. Somehow, YHF manages to evoke in me a strong feeling of nostalgia, even though I’ve only recently started listening to it.

The stand-out songs on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot are:

  • “War on War”
  • “Jesus, Etc.”
  • “Heavy Metal drummer”

Here is the entire album for you to listen to (hosted on youtube!):

I love the outtro ambiance. “Reservations” is spectacular closing.

Written by danielperry99

January 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

Review of The Gay Parade (1999)

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Score = B+

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. “I ain’t gonna listen to no faggot gay parade!” But honestly, this is a pretty good album, especially for kids (yes, seriously). And it’s not gay as in homosexual. It’s just a HAPPY parade. I’m not sure why the band, Of Montreal, decided to call their album The Gay Parade though. I mean, obviously a lot of people are going to get the wrong idea. I think, perhaps, that their intention was to keep ignorant rednecks and similar types from listening; but then again, I think they’ve got that covered just by being Of Montreal. Or maybe they chose the title, because the word “gay” (in the sense of happiness) carries a certain connotation that the word “happy” just doesn’t quite convey. Whatever the reason, please just look past it. I know you don’t want to go running to your friends to tell them all about the awesome gay parade, so if nothing else just at least listen and keep it to yourself.

This is quite possibly – no – quite CERTAINLY the most upbeat album I have ever heard. When you listen to the album, you’ll probably think “This really is a gay parade!” The music consists of gleeful piano progressions and happy guitar rhythms. It really seems quite simple compared to some other Elephant 6 albums.

Many of the songs feature lyrics based around the story of a fictional character’s life. “Jaques Lamure” is a ballad about a volunteer fireman that faces a heartbreak and subsequently leaves his hometown forever – and he’s better off for it. “The Autobiographical Grandpa” is about an old man and his daily routine. “My Favorite Boxer” is about a guy who looks up to and finally meets his favorite boxer, Hector Ormano. These three are just a few of the stories based upon the lives of fictional characters found on this album. Other songs feature lyrics on a broad range of topics; however, the clear lyrical theme of this album is that of daily life and all of the loneliness and normality that ensue. “My Friend will be Me” stands out to me as a particularly powerful song lyrically (and musically). Even though many songs on The Gay Parade cover topics such as loneliness and feelings of inadequacy, it all still sounds very upbeat and celebratory. That’s what this album is – a celebration of normal every day life.

This is “My Friend will be Me.” Whoever uploaded it named it incorrectly.

The Gay Parade is very clean, as in there is no cursing or controversial lyrics. The lyrical cleanliness coupled with the fact that the music is so happy sounding makes this a terrific album for children. Sure, it’s called The Gay Parade, but I highly recommend that any parents reading this right now buy a copy of this album for their young kids to listen to. You might want to burn it onto a blank cd and sharpie on a new title though, Something like The Creed of Satan: Volume 666 should be appropriate enough.

Now let me summarize:

  • Of Montreal’s 1999 album, The Gay Parade is an extremely upbeat celebration of everyday normal life.
  • The lyrical content is great and unique. I can’t think of another album like it.
  • No curse words and a lack of controversy make this a great album for little kids to listen to.

NOTE: It was difficult to find the songs I wanted on youtube, so I just posted some songs from the album that I could actually find.

Written by danielperry99

January 27, 2011 at 4:32 am

Review of Tubthumper (1997)

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Score – C-

Chumbawamba are best known – well almost only known – for there hit single “Tubthumping.” I got the Tubthumper cd for my 7th or 8th birthday, and I can remember jamming out to every single song while I played Waverace 64. Now that I’ve listened to it at an older age, I can’t help but feel silly for liking it so much back then. It’s an ok album, but not worth paying for (unless you find it for $3, which you probably could).

The album starts off with the one hit song, “Tubthumping,” an electro-punk-pop jam, and then continues on with more electro-punk-pop. There is definitely some ska influence as well. Well, some of the songs are more creative than that. I don’t know how to classify “Drip Drip Drip,” but I can tell you that punk has no part in it.  “Smalltown” has a kind of house vibe to it; the beat is pretty cool. “Scapegoat” has a fun, yet far too simple beat.

The lyrics on Tubthumper sound like a conversation between two conspiracy-theorist anarchists. I sung along with them when I was 8, but then again I also thoroughly enjoyed the taste of play-do when I was 8. The vocals that deliver these mediocre lyrics suck. I hate to be so blunt, but both the male and the female vocalists of Chumbawamba are annoying.

To summarize:

  • Tubthumper is ok, but not worth more than $3.
  • The album features the hit song “Tubthumping.”
  • Chumbawamba’s musical sound is like electro-ska-punk-pop. It sounds about as good in reality as it does in theory.
  • The lyrics aren’t too good and neither are the singers.

Written by danielperry99

January 20, 2011 at 6:32 am

Review of Wu-Tang Forever (1997)

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Score – A-

For their second release, the Wu-Tang Clan knew that they had to do something big to live up to 36 Chambers. So for Wu-Tang Forever RZA produced almost 2 hours worth of cerebral head busting bangers in an expansive double disc for his clan to rap over. Unfortunately, the bar had just been set too high. Regardless, Wu-Tang Forever is still one of the hottest rap albums to come out of the 90s, or any time really.

Lyrically, Forever is much less focused than 36 Chambers. Most verses on this album are heavily laden with non-sequitors. It’s like they’re just trying to say a bunch of smart-sounding shit without worrying about whether or not it makes any sense. U-God and Cappadonna are especially guilty of this. Personally, I don’t mind at all – it sounds dope regardless.

RZA amazes the musical world once again with his unforeseen genius. The production here isn’t too much like 36 Chambers or Only Built 4 Cuban Linx; it’s more of a bass heavy classical string influenced style. It sounds great, and RZA keeps it up throughout the whole album.

In summary:

  • Wu-Tang Forever doesn’t have the same cult appeal as 36 Chambers, but it’s a great album in it’s own right.
  • The production is something else. You won’t hear beats like this on any other album.
  • The album is long, and at times the lyrics fall off a tiny bit – nothing too detrimental. The beats are superb throughout, however.

Written by danielperry99

January 20, 2011 at 5:49 am

Review of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998)

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Score – B+

Neutral Milk Hotel are weird. It’s like Jeff Magnum was trying to make an album combining stereotypes of old-timey instrumental music and new-age lo-fi pop-rock. Well, whether or not he was trying to do that, that’s what it sounds like. In The Aeroplane Over the Sea grew on me after a few listens; I didn’t like it much at all at first. This album is very interesting. I don’t quite know what to think of it. Right now, I’m thinking it’s a bit overrated (Pitchfork gave it a 10), but it seems like one of those albums that might contain a hidden genius that sneaks up on you.

The album starts with a couple of songs called “King of Carrot Flowers pt 1” and then “King of Carrot Flowers pts 2 & 3” (that’s one song). Jeff Magnum jumps straight into it on KoCF part 1 by singing a bunch of nonsense that certainly doesn’t mean much to anyone but himself. This style of unorganized inner-thought lyrics persists throughout the entire album. Also, this is just a side-note, but Magnum sings about semen way too often; the word “semen” appears in at least 2 songs – ridiculous. Magnum’s straining voice gets a little bit of additional grit thanks to the lo-fi recording process. I didn’t like the vocals much at first; in fact, the vocals were my main beef with the album. After my last few listens, I came to appreciate them a more. Magnum does sound like he’s forcing it at times, but there are a couple instances on In The Aeroplane Over the Sea where the vocals stand out. On “King of Carrot Flowers pts 2 & 3,” Magnum’s incessant belting out of “I love you Jesus Christ” is odd yet uncannily aesthetic. In the last bit of “Oh Comely” Magnum uses his voice as an extra horn for the ensemble. It sounds cool as hell.

The music itself is rather interesting. It combines old timey r&b with punk. It comes off as mostly a folk album though. The instrumental song “The Fool” stands out to me as by far the best song on the album. It’s a rare number with an amount of soul that you just don’t hear too often these days.

I can’t understand why so many people claim that this is the best album of the entire Elephant 6 collective discography. It doesn’t touch anything by Olivia Tremor Control, but it is good enough to be worth a listen.

Summarized:

  • In The Aeroplane Over the Sea is an extremely highly acclaimed indie album with an interesting sound.
  • It’s overrated, but still pretty good
  • The music is a lo-fi production combining elements of folk, punk, and genres so old I don’t know what to call them.

Written by danielperry99

January 19, 2011 at 4:42 am

Review of Siamese Dream (1993)

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Siamese Dream is the second album released by The Smashing Pumpkins. This was the album that made the Pumpkins a household name. The album is pure alternative rock in it’s prime.

Unlike the Pumpkins more popular album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Siamese Dream is almost entirely electric guitar rock oriented. Heavy distortion and progressive melodies make this album more grunge than anything else. With that said, there are some softer songs on the album – and they are quite good. “Disarm” represents perhaps the Pumpkin’s first experimentation with strings – a method that would be implemented in later albums in a highly successful fashion. Well, “Disarm” was actually highly successful itself, as it should be. The acoustic strumming gives listeners a nice break from the heavy distortion found on most of the rest of the album.

This is a solid alternative rock album. Billy Corgan really had a knack for writing memorable songs with imaginative progressions and thought provoking lyrics. I’ve read many critics who have berated Corgan’s lyrics for being immature, but I disagree wholeheartedly. The lyrics are perfect as they are. They fit in great with the music. Don’t let pretentious snobs tell you otherwise.

The Smashing Pumpkins put forth some of their greatest hard rock achievements on Siamese Dream with “Cherub Rock,” “Hummer,” and some others; however, some of the songs tend to drag on a bit too much. For example “Geek U.S.A,” a mostly boring song that sounds so familiar it must’ve borrowed it’s rhythm from the years of yore, would have been best kept at a short but sweet 2-3 minutes. Instead it drags on for more than 5. “Silverfuck,” the worst song on the album, is also the longest at nine minutes and 12 seconds. Why did they do this? Because they are assholes, and they wanted to troll the world. I see no other possible reason.

A treat on the album comes with the last song, “Luna.” The Smashing Pumpkins effectively add sitar into their regular formula, and the result is spectacular. This is the best song on the album that you’ve probably never heard.

Time to Summarize:

  • Siamese Dream is a grungy alternative rock album. There is not even close to the amount of variety on this album as there is on later Smashing Pumpkins titles, but it’s ok – the Pumpkins were great hard rockers, and this album showcases that.
  • Some of the worst songs last way too long.

Written by danielperry99

January 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

Review of The Bends (1995)

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In 1995, Radiohead released their second album, The Bends. Their first album had done fairly well, but most critics chalked it up to a fluke thinking that the band would never devise another hit single like “Creep.” I can only assume that any of the dissenting critics felt like morons after hearing The Bends, which contains more hit singles than any other Radiohead album so far. This album marked the group’s initial move away from typical Brit-pop toward something more creative.

The Bends is through and through, a haunting album. From the hopeless announcement, “Everything is broken,” on the album’s opener “Planet Telex,” to the solemn cry of “Fade out again,” on the album’s closer “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” the tone is somber throughout. There is a pretty clear lyrical theme to this album. It’s about losing all hope and just giving up on life altogether. I think that the band probably wanted to get the point across that everybody feels this way sometimes, so you (the listener) should not be ashamed. Or maybe Radiohead hates life and just wants everyone to know that they might as well just not try. Or maybe they want to spread a nihilist ideology. Whatever, I don’t know.

One thing I do know, though, is that The Bends is chock full of radio hits. “High and Dry,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Bulletproof… I Wish I Was,” “Sulk,” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” all received a decent amount of airwave time. Personally, my favorite songs on the album are “The Bends” and “Black Star,” but all of them are good. There isn’t a single skip on the whole album, which is a mark of greatness.

This is probably the ultimate album to cry along to. The entire band show that they have a deep understanding of human emotion, and Thom Yorke’s lyrics will make you believe that he truly is feeling everything that he sings about.

There’s no way around it – The Bends is an essential 90’s album that everybody should listen to at least once.

In summary form:

  • Radiohead proved critics wrong by releasing The Bends, an album full of sad radio ballads.
  • The album has an overall tone of hopelessness. The emotion is real.
  • Great album. Not as good as Ok Computer, if you ask me, but great nonetheless.

Written by danielperry99

January 18, 2011 at 6:17 am