Friday, December 31, 2010

The Final Wrapup

YOURZ

It's the Final Wrapup... (to the tune of Final Countdown by Europe)

First of all, apologies for putting that dreadful song in your head but I really couldn't help it...

So, we made it.  All the way to the end.  Three hundred and sixty five days of music reviews.  Sure, there were a few moments when we thought we might not get here but thankfully, we stuck to our guns and kept on truckin'.  And I'm glad we did.  The feeling of achievement is undeniable.  In fact, aside from a couple of reviews being a little late on the day, we've not missed one single deadline.  For a world champion procrastinator like me, this is huge.

There have been some absolutely wonderful albums we've reviewed over the year, so much so, it's hard for me to pick a favourite.  The variety has been quite astounding.  I'm also pleased to say I think there was a great balance between new and old music.  Some of the ones that come to mind include The Dead Weather, The Beatles, Paul Kelly, The Clash, Gorillaz, Sleepy Jackson, QOTSA, Florence & The Machine, Washington and Them Crooked Vultures, to name a very few.  Somewhat surprisingly, instead of reducing our collection to a more manageable number as we thought this might do, our collection has actually grown.  And we couldn't be happier.

One of the best things about starting this is meeting some great, like-minded people from around the world.  It is a constant source of delight to me to get a comment from someone living on the other side of the planet who, through no particular fault of their own, shares similar views.  That sense of being part of a community is wonderful.

With this in mind, our final give-away will be going to the one of the people who have offered us great advice, comments and friendship over the year.  This is not to say you all don't deserve something, because you do.  But we're not Oprah (thankfully), so we've had to make a hard decision about who its going to be.  Our friend Martin, at Music Obsessive, has provided some great comments, food for thought and support over the  year and we are very grateful for it.  There is a special padded bag of goodness on its way to him, along with our heartfelt thanks.

A big thanks to Mine; my lovely wife, best friend and the smartest, prettiest sparring partner I could have ever hoped for - thanks for putting up with my raving, ranting and general palaver.  You continue to rock my world!

So, where to now.  One thing we know is we'll be taking a bit of a break for the first couple of weeks of the year to collect ourselves and get some idea of what we'll be doing.  Rest assured, we'll be back, but just not every day.  And we've already decided to expand our reviews to include all the different interests we have, both together and separately.  And we look forward to sharing these with you.  Thanks for sticking with us so far.

Happy New Year!


MINE


Let him get in the first word and he never shuts up... that's something I've come to love about YourZ.  Of course, I have a tendency to babble too, so often the volume of stream-of-consciousness at or house reaches death metal levels.

I'll admit that when we were coming up the final days, all I wanted to do was stop.  It's been a bit of a stretch for me, just because writing is what I do for a living and this has on occasion felt like a second, part-time job.  Some days it's hard to get enthusiastic about a review when I've had eight hours of intensive reading, writing and editing under my belt already.  But that's not to say that I haven't also managed to write a lot of this in my downtime from said day job.

I guess it's the enthusiasm that YourZ has managed to hold for this project through thick and thin that's kept me tagging along; sometimes willingly, sometimes with that sulky teenage whine and sometimes kicking my heels in an all-out childish tantrum.  So I guess I have to thank him, too for getting us through it.  And for enthusing me enough to consider keeping this going next year.  Expanding our horizons with more things to review.  But always with our two points of view.

We've made some great friends along the way, and I hope you'll hang in there while we take a breath and regroup.  New horizons in the New Year.  Hope you all have a fabulous time.  As a good friend of mine said to me in high school - "Have fun, rave lots, don't O.D."  Wise words that I've managed to stick by for some thirty-odd years.



Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R


YOURZ

Here is a recap for you: we started this project not because we love writing (which we do) or because we love music (which we do) but because we basically wanted a novel way of going through our collection and moving them to our newly-acquired (at the time) Ipod.  So it is rather telling that Queens Of The Stone Age are one of the very few bands whose every CD we own have been all put to the digital library.

I think everyone who is a fan has a favourite QOTSA album.  Every album is a winner in my world but Rated R is the biggest winner of them all.  Maybe its because around the time it was released, I saw them tour for Big Day Out.  Or maybe because it's just a beer-swilling, drug-enhancing, kick-arse and take numbers rock album that does surprisingly well with the ladies too.

Yes, this does have their anthemic Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, but it also has the best recording of Monsters In The Parasol, a fantastic piece of rock nonsense and the way-cool wig out that is Better Living Through Chemistry.  It also has the crazy shit provided by Nick Oliveri, whose live appearance did not include anything done in the nude, thankfully.  And seeing them perform Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret was a  highlight I still remember.

I don't think we could end this project on a better note.  I'm sure Mine would probably disagree but then, isn't this what this project has been all about?

VERDICT: TURN IT UP


MINE

Feel Good Hit of the Summer.  Ain't nothing better.  Frankly, I don't really care about the rest of the album, all I want to do is turn this up L-O-U-D and dance.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (wait, didn't I already say that?)


For more information: http://www.qotsa.com/

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Massive Attack - Blue Lines


MINE

Not only do I own and love Blue Lines, and I think everything else Massive Attack have done, but I'm still holding on to a video of theirs for Be Thankful (even though we don't even own a video player any more) because it's my favourite video ever.  Of all time.  But now, I guess it's available on YouTube or MySpace or something - see?  Um, that's emphatically not G-rated!

I love that song so much I own the Paul Oakenfold remix single and consider it every bit as essential as the album.  But I still haven't seen them live.  Funny, each time they've toured, I've either missed out on hearing the announcement or I've been too poor to afford tickets.

However, this is one album that gets its time on the home dancefloor.  Over and over again.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP 


YOURZ

What to say about Blue Lines other than it is another absolutely essential piece of music.  I still find it hard to believe this was the d├ębut for Massive Attack, but there you go.  

One thing I didn't reveal when we reviewed Mezzanine is that I've never actually owned a single Massive Attack record because every one else I knew owned them and played them all the time.  I have to thank Mine for adding this and their other albums to our collection.  It would have been lacking without them.  And thanks for picking this one out too.

The video accompanying Safe From Harm is still one of my favourites too.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP


For more information go to http://www.massiveattack.com/

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beck - Odelay


YOURZ

This diminutive Scientologist, born and bred in LA, has had a huge amount of influence on me as a songwriter and producer.  I've been a big fan ever since his first major label release, Mellow Gold, and his independent releases but if there is one album that defines him, then it is Odelay, winning numerous awards when it was released in 1996, including a Grammy.  It has since consistently appeared on best-of lists right around the world.

Like a lot of music I love, Beck bravely explores the boundaries between genres, breaking through the confining walls of folk, pop, punk, hip hop, country and whatever the heck else to create something brilliantly idiosyncratic, amazing and absolutely essential.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP


MINE

OK, this is better Beck.  Confirmed readers will know I wasn't impressed with the album the pointy stick selected of the (seemingly hundreds) of Beck albums YourZ owns.  This one is much, much better.  I like it.  Um.

OK, so I don't have much more to say about it.  Which seems a bit silly, given that I've had to wait about 24 hours to do this review, because I wasn't feeling very well.  But after about 12 hours' sleep, I'm still no closer to imparting any words of wisdom.

Guess I'll just have to say sorry for the delay on Odelay.  Thank you, thank you.  I'll be here all week.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP


For more information go to http://www.beck.com/

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Turin Brakes - The Optimist LP


MINE

Sometimes my husband and I differ on things.  No, really!  And one of these things is kind of good for me, but it also annoys me.  You see, while to most people my music collection (before YourZ) seemed wide and varied, his was and is truly huge.  A large part of that is because... how do I put this nicely... he sometimes has a bit of a short attention span.

Which means sometimes he doesn't want to play the old faithful numbers.  There's this new band or artist he's bought, and he knows I'll really love it, and the annoying thing is he's usually right, but then sometimes I think he just doesn't get the fact that some days I want to listen to the album I know I'm going to love.

Which is The Optimist.  Top to tail, beginning to end, beautiful, layered, brilliantly produced, those edgy yet sweet voices, this album is one our collection will never be without.  It's the album I want to play on this first night we move into our new home, up on a hill in a tropical town in Queensland, looking out over the dark and lush vegetation with the lights twinkling in the distance.  It's yet another album I have to thank YourZ for... and for that reason I can never be too annoyed with him when he wants me to listen to something new.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

This is one of Mine's choices but if she hadn't chosen it, I would have (in fact, I deliberately left it from my five because I knew she would end up picking it).  (Mine says: well aren't you the clever clogs then!)  I don't have any fancy story about how I came to hear Turin Brakes.  But every so often, a piece of music comes into your life that is so clearly meant for you, it is a wonder it isn't simply gift-wrapped with your name on it.  Turin Brakes, for me, is one such band.

Some years ago now, musical friends and I would regularly gather in the back room of a house I shared with an ex-girlfriend (hi Maz).  This room was off the kitchen, so close to all the things a bunch of musicians would need: a kettle, coffee and tea fixings and a fridge for alcohol.  We'd start with rounds of coffee and cigarettes, warming up our fingers on tunes we all knew.  I'd set up a few microphones and maybe get the recording equipment ready to make a rough of the proceedings.  We'd move on to beer or vodka as the day wore one, getting looser and louder and having a ball.   

Lots of music inspired us then.  Some of the names you'd recognise (David Bowie, Beck, Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin) and some were new to most of us.  Turin Brakes, and The Optimist LP particularly, were one such band.  Their acoustic-driven, harmony-laden tracks had us singing along at the tops of our voices, long after we'd put down our instruments and started on the second case of beer.  And while we never went much further than that room, we were the best band in the world for a little while there.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For further information go to http://www.turinbrakes.com/

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Clash - London Calling


YOURZ

I never got the opportunity to see The Clash live.  But in the last couple of weeks, I was able to see two of the original members performing together live when we saw Gorillaz live.  Sure, both Mick Jones and Paul Simonon aren't the young men they were when they made London Calling, but it didn't matter to me.  Seeing them on stage with Damon Albarn was something I'll never forget. 

As I stated in the review we did of their greatest hits earlier this year, if we lost our collection tomorrow, London Calling would be the first album I'd replace.  It is absolutely indespensible, a stunning album that expands itself well beyond its limited 'punk' label. 

I can't name a single track as a favourite.  I find it impossible.  How can I pick Rudi Can't Fail over Hateful or Train In Vain (Stand By Me) over Clampdown?  See my dilemma.  The Mick sung tracks over the Joe sung tracks.  It aint gonna happen, not ever. 

VERDICT: TURN IT UP - what are we gonna do now?


MINE

I can't imagine ever being without this album.  It's been with me since the moment it came out, when I'd sit on the floor of my best friend's living room, playing her brother's copy and listening to every note, singing along with the songs from the the lyrics on the inner sleeves.  I've had it on vinyl and now we have this brilliant Deluxe Edition.  Which reminds me, we've got so many of these editions and we never take out the DVDs and watch them.  Aha!  A mission for the Christmas break!

In my youth, before I owned the album myself, I recorded my best friend's brother's copy on cassette.  On a 90 minute cassette, so the double album could fit on both sides.  Anybody remember those?  The C90s that left a tiny bit of room on the end, so you'd search around for another song or two to fit?

Re-listening to London Calling today, I've been stunned by how fresh and sharp it still sounds.  From the distinctive twangs of the opening number, it puts you on notice that this is music to be listened to.  My favourite? Lost in the Supermarket.  Yours?

VERDICT: TURN IT UP guaranteed personality


For more information: http://www.theclash.com/

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kirsty MacColl - What Do Pretty Girls Do?


MINE

So I didn't pick Kite, my favourite Kirsty album.  And I didn't pick one of the more "complete" best-of's that I've got.  But I picked this one, because it's a compilation of some live sessions she did for the BBC.  Now if you know Kirsty (like I know Kirsty) you know she didn't really enjoy performing in front of people (until later in her life).  So getting a live recording is a bit of a bonus.

Here she shows a lot of her country stylings, and particularly my favourite song, Don't Come The Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim.  A hymn for any girl who's been treated like dirt after giving her all, this version is kind of close to the original.  But the standout version is her voice-and-guitar stying of He's On the Beach, which was originally production-packed. (And for all of you northern hemisphere types, on the beach is exactly where YourZ and I hope to be today.)

The album also features a duet with Billy Bragg of A New England.  Made me wonder if he misses her.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP and he says it's brilliant there


YOURZ

I could have guessed Mine would pick a Kirsty MacColl CD of some sort.  Predictable much? 

When we reviewed her earlier this year (see it here) I said while I appreciated her talent, I found it all a bit too nice for my liking.  While there are some pretty cool tracks on What Do Pretty Girls Do, a lot of this is just a bit too country for me. 

However, there are two versions of A New England on here and I could listen to both over and again without any effort.  The duo with Billy Bragg is just about perfect.  And the guitar groove of My Affair coupled with that wondeful voice was a very pleasant surprise indeed.  And Bad is anything but.  Still, its not enough for me to say anything but...

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN


For more information: http://www.kirstymaccoll.com/

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cocktails


YOURZ

Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah, Joyeux Noel, Shub Naya Baras or Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, depending on where you are.

Well, here it is, the last compilation.  Throughout the year, we've had many discussions about the compilations we reviewed.  But for this one, I didn't have a choice.  Mine insisted it had to be this one and when she insists, its pointless arguing.  I was hoping I might find a CD called something like A Very Rock Christmas or Indie Xmas Tunes.  I would have even settled on Metal Yuletide (I can even see the cover of this one - a black christmas tree with razor wire tinsel and grenade-like baubles).  Alas, for all the looking I did, I couldn't find anything.

But this compilation isn't too bad, I suppose.  At the very least, it doesn't make me gag, which is  a good thing.  There are even a few songs on here I actually don't mind.  Lou Rawl's Christmas Is turns up the heat as only he can do while Ray Anthony doing Christmas Kisses gets the toes tapping.  But the one track that does it for me every time would have to be The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole, even though the imagery is completely wrong for us living in the Southern Hemisphere.

I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxed and happy holiday season.  Merry Christmas to all!

VERDICT: TURN IT UP and pass the gravy


MINE

Merry Christmas to all... and here's hoping you'll be having as happy a time as YourZ and I will be enjoying. Among the other traditions we enjoy there'll be a screening of Monty Python's Life of Brian, and the consumption of entirely too much alcohol. But also, I'll be playing this CD. In fact, having to preview it for this review has moved me from "bah-humbug" mode to being positively... things ending in "olly" (Thank you T Pratchett)

I love this collection for its funk, swing and cha-cha. And especially for Kaye Starr's version of  (Everybody's Waiting For) the Man With the Bag, which I've promised myself I'll remember all the words to by, um, today.

But maybe we'll also celebrate the iPod by putting together a list of kind-of Christmas songs. Any suggestions?

VERDICT: TURN IT UP ho, ho, ho

For more information: http://www.ultralounge.com/

Friday, December 24, 2010

Regurgitator - Tu-Plang


MINE

Sometimes frenzied and always entertaining, Regurgitator are one of those bands who hovered just outside my orbit.  Oh sure, I'd turn them up when they came on the radio, but they didn't quite make it into my hot little hand when I ventured into a music shop.

And that doesn't really surprise me when I listen to this album.  For me, it has its moments... but that's where I stop.  The change of pace and style throughout the album feels to me like a lack of cohesiveness.  And I don't really know enough about the band to comment about why  that might be.
VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN


YOURZ

Coming out in 1996, Tu Plang was a breath of fresh air to an industry overwhelmed by post-grunge bands, wanna be indie popsters and *shudder* Savage Garden.  Their magpie-like eclecticism was brave, daring and a little bit naughty too.

Opening with a sharp, self-deprecating dig at the music industry in the form of I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am (and the laugh but gag but laugh line of I keep on rinsing again and again), the 'Gurge swing between indie-pop gems, frenetic electronica, savvy hip hop and even a stab at surf music instrumentals with 348 Hz, all with equal aplomb.  Fittingly, it won both Alternative Album of the Year and Best Debut at the Australian Recording Industry Awards (ARIA) that year.

Importantly, it showed a fickle industry that there was plenty of room for bands to explore the boundaries of contemporary music and gain a strong fan base at the same time.  And while record companies struggled then (even as they do now) to try and pigeon-hole music for the sake of demographics, bands like this consistently prove them wrong by saying fuck categorisation and fuck demographics.

For all the years Regurgitator has been around, all the hits they've had and all the albums they've released, this remains my favourite by far.  In my mind, not only was it one of the best releases of the 90s but one of the best Australian releases ever.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information: http://regurgitator.net/

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Garbage - Version 2.0


YOURZ

My exposure to Garbage has been through women in my life.  In fact, I remember getting a phone call from Mine just before she and I started dating, asking if I'd like to go to a Garbage concert as she had a last minute spare ticket after the friend she was going with (g'day Dom) fell off his motor bike.  I had to decline but not long after, returned the gesture.  The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.

We've waxed about Garbage before but this album is probably the quintessential one for many of the fans.  It certainly contains some of their biggest hits in When I Grow Up and I Think I'm Paranoid along with their almost trademarked hybrid sound.  And while Version 2.0 is polished to a sheen, thankfully none of the magic has been rubbed off.  

And damn it, when Shirley sings "Darling, how would it feel if we sleep together?" I want to jump on the next plane to where ever she is and show her.  But I think I'd be last in a very, very long line.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

MINE

Killer, killer, killer album.  The band at their balls-to-the-wall best.  That hot, hot blending of rock, pop and dance that made this album the best thing they've ever done.

My personal favourite is the song that's kept me going through many a hard time, The Trick Is To Keep Breathing.  Although the album is chock full of hits, it's this song that I return to over and over again.  Because it's me.  It's how I am.  It's the point I got to after a lot of ups and downs in my life, and it's sung to me by one of my favourite voices.  How good does that get?

Ah, but they're recording, and releasing a new album and TOURING to support it next year.  Be still my beating heart.  Will it be possible that I'll be in the same room as Shirley Manson once again?  Oh Father Christmas, if you love me at all, I don't want a big red india-rubber ball like King John did (AA Milne) but please, please will you make sure Garbage come here?  I promise I'll be good(ish)!


VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to: http://www.garbage.com/

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sebadoh - Bakesale


MINE

Oh, I'm sorry, YourZ - I know this is your first favourite and I tried, I really tried to like it.  But it's no way as good as Harmacy - except perhaps for the opening number.  The rest of it was kind of ordinary.  It's pretty typical of that indie sound that was all around in 1994.  The production's OK but there's nothing to make me wake up and say hello.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

YOURZ

My first choice out is Bakesale, by Sebadoh.  This album, probably more than any other of the time (with a possible exception being Slanted & Enchanted by Pavement), was the one that helped define me as both a fan and a songwriter.  I wasn't interested in the glamour and sheen of big production nor could I give two shits for high fashion either in video or on stage.  What I wanted was something raw, impassioned and personal.  And Sebadoh had this in spades.

Not as lo-fi as previous albums, Bakesale garnered the band some mainstream attention, particularly on the back of singles Rebound, Skulls and Magnets Coil, all emotive slices of indie rock.  Main man, Lou Barlow, seemed to be able to tap into the emotional bedrock of a generation of slackers with his self-deprecating lyrics.  But the strength of this album doesn't belong to Barlow alone.  Jason Lowenstein's contributions to the album are as equally strong and in tune with the times.

The follow up to this, Harmacy, which we reviewed here, continued in a similar vein, although it could never quite match up to the sheer emotional weight of Bakesale, at least not for me, anyway.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP


For more information go to http://www.sebadoh.com/

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paul Weller - Stanley Road


YOURZ

For those readers astute enough to notice this is the second Paul Weller album we're reviewing, well there is a reason.  Basically, we ran out of artists to review and decided we would pick five albums each from our collection that we would have liked to review.  Stanley Road is the first of these.

Way back in January this year, when we reviewed Mr Weller's Wildwood, I said I thought I'd find it hard that he could make a better album than it but I was prepared to be wrong.  Well, now is the time to admit it, I guess.  This album, with tracks like The Changing Man (a big live favourite), Woodcutter's Son, Pink On White Walls and the title track, is a modern classic.

But it is elevated to something more with track four, You Do Something To Me.  But I will let Mine wax about this track.  It, and the rest of the album, is so damn good, in the hands of anyone lesser, this would have been the peak, and possibly the end, of a career.  Thankfully, it only served to lift Paul to the status he now deserves.

Suffice to say...

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

MINE

This album is the only Paul Weller album you need if you're buying a solo Weller album.  It contains You Do Something To Me which is one of my favourite songs of all time, one I can listen to over and over again.  It's packed with great songs, and it's an album I'd be certain to replace if the collection ever went south.

But why is it so good?  It's the Modfather at his very best, singing with those husky-yet-strong tones that reduce me to jelly.  It's varied in mood, yet cohesive in tone.  It's a damn good album, and one of those I'd ask you - why don't you own it?  You won't regret it.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to: http://www.paulweller.com/

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Drones - Wait Long By The River...


MINE

He does this all the time.  He buys music, and then says "Oh, I bought this and it sounds good" and then I never hear about it again.  Which is why we really needed this project.  Because here we are, almost at the end of the task, and I'm still finding albums I swear I've never heard of tucked away in the drawers.  Sheesh.

Anyway, this isn't bad.  It's not really my kind of music, but I wouldn't object if it was on. It's the sort of bluesy rock that gives YourZ a thrill, so I can see why it's here.  But I wouldn't grab the CD out of choice.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

YOURZ

I forgot about this band.  I seriously forgot.  

I bought this CD after reading about it and seeing lead singer/songwriter Gareth Liddiard on RocKwiz.  Wait Long By The River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By is uncompromising in its raw, passionate delivery, so much so its release in 2005 garnered the band best release at the inaugural Australian Music Prize that year.

But this isn't why I forgot about it.

I saw a snippet of the band doing this album in its entirety at the All Tomorrow's Party Festival in 2009 and the performance is pure, intense and massive.  I was totally blown away by the band.  The only comparison I have of this is seeing Nick Cave live at the Enmore many years ago.  Again, it is uncompromising in its raw emotion.  Watch a bit of here and you'll see what I mean.  

But this isn't why I forgot about it.

You see, I bought the CD, got it home, copied onto the iPod and then put it away.  With well over six and half thousand songs on it, I forgot about The Drones.  Completely...  Thankfully, Mine found it when doing the last scout through the collection to see if there was anything we missed.  

This is the sounds of a band happy in the mire, where the rest of us flounder.  This is a band comfortable putting everyone on edge, with stirring up the cobwebs and muck.  This is band making brilliant uneasy listening music.  It's not blues nor is it rock or punk.  What it is, is unforgettable.

And I forgot about it.  This won't happen again.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://thedrones.com.au/

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Crystal Method - Tweekend


YOURZ

Yet another recommendation from that friend of mine who used to work in a local music shop.  He knew I liked my rock so sold this to me under the pretence that Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine had co-written a number of tracks.  So I bought it.

In reality, this is more a big beat album than anything rock.  Not that I mind.  Tweekend, released in 2001, could have been made by any of the big beat bands in England at the time except it wasn't.  Interesting though, The Crystal Method are a duo originally from Las Vegas but who transplanted themselves in LA, where they still reside.

Yes, there are some bits that kind of sound like Rage meets the Chemical Bros. (the best example being Name Of The Game), a lot of the album relies on the usual big beat sounds and tricks.  And while it wouldn't be bad turned up loud in a club or at a party, it really is by the numbers and therefore not particularly interesting.  Probably explains why I haven't played it for ages.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

MINE

Yeah, it's OK.  It's the sort of big-beat-ish stuff I like, but it's not clever enough for me to put it on for an intensive listen.  It'd be fine to dance to at a party sometime, but then we have so much better big beat in our collection, I can't imagine why we'd want to.

VERDICT: THROW IT OUT

For more information go to http://www.thecrystalmethod.com/

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Reels - Reel To Reel


MINE

We were lucky enough to see Reels frontman Dave Mason perform a lot of these songs at the Sydney Festival, when he did a gig with seminal Sydney electronica outfit Severed Heads.  And it was divine.

These guys came from country New South Wales and delivered a bunch of quirky pop songs that found their way into my teenage heart.  I actually own a Reels apron - not your conventional band merchandise, but released to coincide with their Kitchen Man tour.  Dave Mason also used to sit on the steps of a Sydney courthouse selling flowers, in the year I went to university.  I even bought some from him, now and then.

This best-of covers all of their career - from the early quirky originals to the later, quirky covers of songs like This Guy's In Love With You. But I especially love this collection of songs for what might just be the most beautiful song I've ever heard - Quasimodo's Dream.  Take a moment.  Listen to it.  Don't you agree?

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

Damn, Mine beat to the punch.  Again!  But the night was so good it bears repetition, I think.  Seeing The Reels live doing some of these songs earlier this year was such a wonderful treat.  We saw them on a balmy, beautiful Sydney night in a partially outdoor venue set up for the Sydney Festival and set in the grounds of the Hyde Park Barracks in the city, all very conducive to what was a great night of music.

Years ago, I worked as an FM DJ and Quasimodo's Dream was a particular favourite of another couple of DJs, who would play it every show they did, to the point where it kind of ruined the song for me.  So as a consequence, I hadn't heard it for many years.  But it is no wonder it was voted one of the Top Ten Australian songs.  And their take on numerous covers is really cool, a favourite being Jim Reeve's classic According To My Heart (which is one of my Dad's favourite songs) The video for it is hilarious.  I also like their version of the Cold Chisel classic Forever Now, firmly claiming it as a hidden country gem.  And the track features the gorgeous Amanda Brown, from The Go-Betweens.

There is two distinct versions of The Reels, in my mind.  The first is the young band who did the great, quirky pop songs and the second is the synth-driven tracks of the latter years.  Both are equally impressive but I do prefer the more organic earlier version.  There are very few songs as uplifting as Love Will Find A Way.  It's a beautiful thing.
   
VERDICT: TURN IT UP

Friday, December 17, 2010

Iggy Pop - A Million In Prizes: The Anthology

YOURZ

This review is late.  This is the first review of the entire year that wasn't ready to go on the dot at 12:01 AM.  But I have a good excuse and I have to tell you all.  Mine and YourZ truly went to see the Gorillaz last night.  It was, in short, the best large venue live show I've ever seen.  But enough of that, lets get to Mr Osterberg.

He is made of a better cut of the same material Keith Richards is made from.  If the world went pear-shaped tomorrow, he would emerge from the rubble relatively unscathed and ready to rock.  The word 'iconic' really doesn't cut it when it comes to Iggy.  He is so much more.  What he did on Countdown live on national television inspired a generation of punks.  Mine has linked it so check it out.

As you would expect, this collection contains all the hits, including his turn at Cole Porter with Debbie Harry, Well Did You Evah.  But the big surprise for me are some of the tracks I'd not heard before.  Skull Rings, for instance, is an awesome rock song and Iggy sounds as fresh and full on as ever.  About the only complaint I have about this selection is that it doesn't included Loco Mosquito or Dog Food, personal favourites.  And his version of China Girl is different but better, no offence to Bowie, of course.  Iggy Pop for Emperor of the World!

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

MINE

Legend.  I remember going to see Henry Rollins in his spoken word tour one year, and he told a story about trying to outlast Iggy at some music festival in Scandinavia sometime.  He said even after months of training, weightlifting, hard cardio, a strict diet, Iggy wiped the floor with him.  "Nobody out-Iggs the Igg."

I've sen him live once, and he really is an amazing performer.  I also remember him performing I'm Bored to a bemused teenage audience on Countdown - when was that? Late 70s, early 80s sometime.  His version of Real Wild Child has been the theme song for the Aussie TV music show rage that's been on - forever.  He's influenced so many people, so many bands - the man is, as I said, a legend.  Rock Royalty.  All hail Iggy.


VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to: http://www.iggypop.com/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Skyhooks - Living In The 70s/Ego Is Not A Dirty Word


MINE

How do you describe Skyhooks?  They're a band who were glam and rock, rude and crude, pop and schmaltz.  And I love the fact that on my favourite album, Living in the 70s, six out of its ten songs were banned on commercial radio.  In fact Skyhooks has the honour of being the first ever song played on the youth radio station Triple J - You Just Like Me 'Cause I'm Good In Bed.

Of course we all loved Skyhooks as teenagers - especially the rudest of the rude songs - Smut - which long before Peewee Herman became infamous for it, described the ins and, er, outs of pleasuring yourself at the movies.  And I was absolutely gobsmacked to see there'd been a video made of that song back then!  Ah, the internets - is there anything it can't give me?

Skyhooks also gave me a feel for Melbourne long before I spent any time there, with their namechecking of neighbourhoods in songs like Balwyn Calling, Toorak Cowboy and When the Sun Sets Over Carlton.  This stood me in good stead when years later I spent time there - oddly enough frequenting The Club in Collingwood - owned by Bongo Starkey, the band's guitarist.  It still has my vote as the best music venue I've ever been to - with sloping floors so even short people like me could see the bands. 

So if you've never heard any Skyhooks songs, take a moment or two on YouTube and expore their weirdness.  It's worth it.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

Skyhooks, the band parents hated but all the kids adored.  There was a time, I remember, in the mid to late 70s when they could do no wrong, at least not according to their fans and the music-loving public at large.  But more so, they were the first really popular Australian band to not only acknowledge their homeland but to write a unique set of songs not directed by overseas trends and fashions but instead following their own game plan.

For a band that wasn't really supposed to be successful, their record of being one of the biggest Australian bands of the time stands unblemished.  They carved their own path out of the musical wilderness and isolation and showed many other Aussie bands that it was not only a good thing to do things your own way, but that in doing so, you could be successful as well. 
Both these album, their debut Living In The 70s and the follow up, Ego Is Not A Dirty Word, still stand as being two of the most interesting and socially-aware albums of the time.  But more so, it gave us local kids stars of our own, who recognised and understood what was going on locally and who had enough balls and showmanship to take the glam-boat and make it their own.  And despite the general disparagement they received from commercial radio and moral watchdogs of the time, they stuck to their guns and gave a big 'up yours' to all their naysayers.  They were punks in satin and makeup, daring the authorities to shut them down.  And boy, did we need them back then.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to: http://www.skyhooks-music.com/

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grinderman

YOURZ

This is not just dirty, this is absolutely filthy.  It is dark, raw and impassioned and the grimiest thing Nick Cave has done since The Birthday Party.  Recorded in just four days but compellingly well-produced by Nick Launay and the band, this ticks all the alternative blues boxes and then some.

Right from the opener, Get It On (not a cover of the old T-Rex hit either), there is no doubting the rabidly raw vision of this group, also comprising of some of Cave's Bad Seeds; Warren Ellis, Martin Casey and Jim Sclavunos.  Cave's gothic-blues lyrics couldn't have found a more well-suited home while his voice has never sounded better and his delivery is of an energy and passion of a man at least half his age (not that us old blokes are passionless, mind).

More than anything else, it is the way Cave and company continue to push their creativity and themselves to extraordinary lengths (Nick eschews his first instrument, piano, for guitar, which he admits he plays rudimentarily at best).  The rest of the band have said in various interviews it is this element, more than any other single thing, that informs the overall sound of Grinderman.

There are some tracks on this album that have goth-classic written all over them with Depth Charge Ethel, I Don't Need You (To Set Me Free), No Pussy Blues and Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars) being particular favourites of mine.  I don't think I could ever hear enough of this.  Grinderman 2, the followup, is now officially on my must-have list.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

MINE

When I first started listening to this CD I thought - he's done it!  Nick Cave has found a band that will bring him to his vocal nadir!  But actually, that's only the first track.  The rest of it - wait for it - is not too bad.  Especially song 2 - No Pussy Blues - which was hysterical.

So while I haven't changed my mind about Mr Cave's musical chops, I won't be putting this one in the rubbish bin - yet.
VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

For more information go to http://www.grinderman.com/


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crowded House


MINE

Everyone I knew had this album.  Including me.  In fact, we've broken a rule by buying it recently, as I do have it on vinyl.  But it's so great to go back to this first album, that wavers between the familiar sounds of Split Enz and the broader, poppier strokes that would, in the end, make this band large on the world stage.

It's often puzzled me - what weas it that made Crowded house so much more successful than SplitEnz?  Apart from ditching the costumes, the songs to some degree are still flavoured with a similar sound.  But from this moment on, it seemed the younger Finn could do no wrong.  In fact, they became so successful they were offered the ultimate accolade by Australian audiences - we claimed them as our own, despite the fact they were only two-thirds Aussie.  (Or occasionally half Aussie when brother Tim joined in). 

This album is still as beautiful to me today as it was the first time I dropped the needle on to the vinyl, and I defy anyone to hate it.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

Where do you start with such a band as Crowded House?  Maybe I should start by saying while I appreciate the song writing and the musicianship, I've never been a big fan of the band.  Simply, they were too pop for my liking and probably a bit too nice as well.  At the time this, their debut, was released, I was more interested in dirty, sweaty rock.  But listening now, it is hard not to be caught up in the infectiousness of these ten great songs.

While the singles Don't Dream It's Over, Something So Strong, World Where You Live and Now We're Getting Somewhere have become classics in their own right, it is the less popular album tracks like Love You 'Til The Day I Die and Can't Carry On, which appeal to me.  These are a bit darker and closer in sound to Neil Finn and Paul Hester's previous band, the mighty Split Enz.  And while it still isn't enough for me to call myself a fan, I do have a better appreciation of the band now and certainly won't turn up my nose like I used to do.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://www.crowdedhouse.com/

Monday, December 13, 2010

Black Sabbath - Paranoid


YOURZ

Heh, this was the shit when I was a lad.  So bad, in fact, I dared not speak the band's name around my conservative Catholic mother.  Status Quo was fine, AC/DC were okay and even KISS got past her.  But I had to rely on friends copies this classic in order to hear it.  

I remember sitting on the front steps of my mate Mick's place after a long summer afternoon, sharing a sneaky cigarette and listening to music on his Dad's quadraphonic system.  This was one of the LPs we'd listen to then and listening now takes me right back there.  

I love that this record still makes me headbang even though I hardly have the long locks of youth to flay around like I used to do.  It is, without a doubt, my favourite type of metal.  And while there have been so many great bands after them and despite Ozzy parading his tragic family in front of television cameras for the world to see, there will only ever be one Black Sabbath. 

VERDICT: TURN IT UP


MINE

So, when I was about 15 or so, there was a group of girls I went to school with and we used to get together every couple of weeks to smoke weed.  We'd meet up at Bernie's place, more often than not, because she used to hold for us (plus we were buying the stuff off her brother) and we'd smoke and eat (her mother was the most amazing baker of pies) and play records.  Mostly her brother's records.  So there was Dark Side of the Moon and Kiss and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Then many years later there was a TV show called The Osbournes which both delighted and horrified me.  And now there's re-listening to Paranoid, which made me realise, he had an amazing voice, didn't he?  But apart from War Pigs (nearly eight minutes, that takes balls for an opening number) and Paranoid, I don't really know this album at all.  And it's not really my kind of thing.  But we need this in out collection.  Gives us gravitas, I think.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN


For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sabbath but there's a bunch of fan sites, too

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tame Impala - Innerspeaker


MINE

I wanted to like it, really I did.  This was picked as an Album of the Year for Aussie Youth Radio network Triple J, and I like to think I've got a bit of an insight into what those young people are on about.  No, seriously.  Stop snickering, you.

But all I could think while listening to this was - Beatles Rubber Soul and Revolver,  but without the variety the Fab Four managed on those albums.  Amped up a bit with some beats here and there, but essentially a bit hippy-trippy.  Which is alright for a song or two, but a whole album?  Nice dinner-party music, but that's about it.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

YOURZ

Yet more proof that there is something in those isolated waters of Western Australia that keeps producing some of the best music in Australia. 

Citing a laundry list of influences, including Beck, Kyuss, Massive Attack, RZA and The Beatles (boy, are they covering all bases or what), Tame Impala are anything but locked into a single style.  Yet the cohesiveness of Innerspeaker, their debut album, is surprisingly strong, thanks to the overall production aesthetic   While it is definitely psychedelic, it also reminds me of some of the shoegazer bands around the late 80s and early 90s.

Listening to Lucidity, for instance, took me back to house parties, where most of us were floating from a cocktail of various fixings.  And the music, like Innerspeaker is to a new generation, was not just background but an integral part of the journey.  Maybe the fact I'm relatively straight and sober these days dulled my appreciation slightly but not by much.

There are treats of sharp, effected pop gems like Solitude Is Bliss and I Don't Really Mind as well as surprises like the sludgy psych-rock of The Bold Arrow Of Time.  And while I think the band could have done better with a name, I expect it will be one I'll be hearing of for some time to come. 

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://www.tameimpala.com/

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lost Prophets - The Betrayed


YOURZ

This is another recent purchase I took a chance on recently.  The only thing I knew about this band was that they were from the same town in Wales of Sir Tom Jones, being the wonderfully Welsh-named Pontypridd.  And this is about all Lostprophets and Sir Tom have in common.  Musically, this five piece might have punk rock roots but their sound is from the same school as bands like Rage Against The Machine and Linkin Park. 

But some of the song titles reveal a touch of the emo-branding as well.  Mine mentions one such below and the other long-winded titles (If It Wasn't For Hate We'd Be Dead By Now, for instance) don't do them any favours.  Thankfully, the driving distortion and sharp melodies actually work well, in that MTV rock kind of way.

But when I compare it to favoured bands like Karnivool and Mastodon, unfortunately the Lostprophets wind up way down the list.  Maybe I need to be an angst-ridden post-teen to really get this.  But I'm neither and while I don't mind it, I'm not rushing out to buy anything else by them.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

MINE

Well, this wasn't just disappointing - it was downright infuriating.  These guys can't seem to figure out what sort of music they're playing, going from almost Rage Against the Machine-type songs, through downright U2 ripoffs, one number that sounded a bit like the Killers and another couple that said "Gee, 80's-sounding music is getting popular, maybe we'd better do that?"

Don't get me started on the lyrics.  Banal isn't among it.  I mean seriously, It's Not the End of the World, But I Can See it From Here?

Resolutely mediocre.

VERDICT: THROW IT OUT

For more information go to http://www.lostprophets.com/

Friday, December 10, 2010

The KLF - The White Room


MINE

Quite apart from the fact that this is top-notch dance music, I have a link to this band that goes way, way back - to my teenage years.  You see, when I was young my then-boyfriend (hi, Richard!) introduced me to the Illuminatus! trilogy, a work of cosmic conspiracy so far-reaching, it makes the Da Vinci Code look even more banal and trite than you thought.

By the way, I have to note: although I did read the Code, because I had to know what all the fuss was about (but was no wiser at the end of it), Dan Brown's followup Angels and Demons has the honour of being the only book I've ever actually thrown across the room in disgust mid-read.  How he is so popular I have no idea, the man cannot write!

So anyway, when I heard that these two guys were calling themselves the KLF I was delighted.  You see, this is the name of a secret society in the Illuminatus! books.  They also call themselves the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, also referenced in the books, and use the John Dillinger phrase "Everybody lie down on the floor and keep calm".  Dillinger is a key character in the books.

I also love the KLF for deleting their back catalogue and using the profits from their music to rock the art world by burning one million British pounds.  In cash.  At an event they invited the media to watch.  These guys have rocked my world in so many ways and this album is them at their best.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

See, there is the word, right at the start of Mine's review above.  Dance.  It really says it all for me.  While I have a lot of respect for the attitude of The KLF, they were, first and foremost, a band.  And its the music I have to listen to and make a call on.

I don't like it.  Never have and, I'm sure, never will.  I've had this discussion before.  It really doesn't matter how smart or whatever.  It simply doesn't appeal to me.

The Illuminatus! books, however, sound seriously interesting.


VERDICT: THROW IT OUT

For more information go to http://www.klf.de/

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Jim Jones Revue - Burning Your House Down


YOURZ

This is turn your stereo up, windows right down, driving down the highway towards a bloodshot sunset music.  The night is in front of you, another shitty day is behind you and the only thing you can think about is getting yourself as far away from everything as possible.  But you'd settle for, at the very least, something cold, strong and easy to drink.

The Jim Jones Revue aren't doing anything that hasn't been done before, but who gives a fuck.  This is rock and roll in the tradition of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard through to Jon Spencer and every other greaser rock'n'roller in-between.  It is raucous, hot, sweaty and completely and utterly infectious.

I dare anyone listening to High Horse, for instance, to not want to kick back their chair, jump on the table and dance til you puke.  (Okay, maybe a bit over-the-top but then, so is this music).  Even if you've lost your youthful vim and vigour (and, please, let's not forget flexibility) you'd be thinking about doing it.  The only complaint I have about this album is that it seems over before I had even remotely enough.

So, Mine, they're coming to Australia early next year.  Waddaya think?  It would be loud, messy and we'd have a ball, I'm sure.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP, all the way up!

MINE

It was a little shouty in parts for me but mostly this is, as YourZ says, pants-down, gritty, bluesy rock (and furthermore roll).  I did find it a little difficult to listen to in a whole lump - but that's because this is party music.  I should be wrestling my way through the crush of bodies to find a drink while having a yelled conversation with someone I haven't seen for months over the too-loud music - and probably knocking over something valuable in the process.

It's not new.  It's not clever.  It's not remotely nice.  But it is a whole lotta fun.

VERDICT:TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://www.jimjonesrevue.com/website/home

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest


MINE

Boring.  Largely unintelligible.  The lead singer had a whiny voice.  Some of the songs had a repetitive loop-style sound that's akin to Chinese water torture.  I have mentioned I'm sensitive to sounds?

VERDICT: THROW IT OUT

YOURZ

Yeah, I brought this on a whim.  I used to do this a lot, back in the days of vinyl.  I'd skim through the new releases, check the covers out and if something on it caught my eye, I'd take a chance and buy it.  But sometimes, forewarned is forearmed, so I would also scour the pages of my favourite music mags and ensure I was, at least, partially armed.

If I'd taken the time and read up about Deerhunter, I would probably have pretty much ignored it as another is the swag of post-rock (or post-hardcore or whatever the fuck it supposed to mean).  And when I got it home and listened to the first track, Earthquake, I wondered if I'd made a mistake.  This is an opening track that should have been buried at the back of the album somewhere.

Thankfully, the next few tracks redeemed them, particularly the Pixie-ish Revival.  I particularly liked the use of banjo in this track.  This is followed by my favourite track of the album, Sailing.  The starkly simply guitar and ambient sounds behind it perfectly set off the beautiful vocal line.  What a gorgeous track.

The album yields a a few more surprises, like the ambient-fuelled Helicopter and Coronado, a retro-sounding throwback.  And given this all came about because of whimsy, of wanting to relive those good old days, when vinyl was cheap and plentiful.  Thankfully, the experience was a good one as this turned out to be a chance well-taken.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For further information go www.myspace.com/deerhunter

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Vines - Highly Evolved


YOURZ

Craig Nicholls and his band mates in The Vines do the sneery, angst-ridden rock thing really well.  Of course, the best of this is Get Free but the title track, Aint No Room, In The Jungle and Outtathaway all possess the same snot-nosed attitude.  I like it a lot.

But Highly Evolved is an album of diversity too.  There are massive ballads like Country Yard and Autumn Shade.  It is almost as though there are a number of bands playing. I was particularly impressed by the psychedelia of Sunshinin and 1969 as well as the playful, infectiousness of Factory.

But to be honest, I find this diversity kind of distracting.  I found myself skipping back and forth between the tracks, trying to balance out they styles a bit better.  Maybe it is as simple as the sequence of the songs but Highly Evolved seems to be a bit all over the place.  It obviously worked for them, though, because this album did really well both here and overseas.

Not a Forgotten Gem, but certainly not bad.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

MINE

There was so much hype about this band when this came out, and I was thrilled to see an Aussie band get all that attention.  And then, when it all emerged about lead singer Craig Nicholls having Aspergers Syndrome, I had some sympathy for him - and his band-mates.  You see, I believe my mother has AS, and I'm definitely on the autistic spectrum somewhere - I'm a speed-reader and often take people too literally.  I'm also very sensitive to noise and smells.  But I do like to feel I have empathy, unlike many people with the syndrome.

So I hadn't listened to Highly Evolved much and I can see why.  It's another of those "musicians" albums that YourZ is so fond of.  It's technically perfect - if at times a little derivative, but then these days what isn't - but it lacks heart.  Soul.  Ooomph.  I don't know what to call it, but I can tell you this doesn't have it.  It's well done, and it doesn't make me wince, I didn't get bored listening to it.  But it just doesn't do it for me.  It's all in the head, and there's nothing for the guts or the groin.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN

For more information go to http://thevines.com/

Monday, December 6, 2010

Squeeze - 45's And Under


MINE

Hey, there's a song on here I never listen to!  It's called If I Didn't Love You and it's not very good.  As opposed to the rest of this album, which is not just good, it's essential listening.  I'm sorry, are you one of those people who think Squeeze only did Cool For Cats? Shame on you!

I was trying to decide which song's my favourite, and I'm kind of surprised to find that it's Up the Junction.  Not that Tempted isn't great, it's so well written I'm sure it makes songwriters cry, but it's the lyrics that get me in Junction.  You see the song follows this relationship from go to whoa, from first kiss through cohabitation, childbirth and divorce.  Often skipping months or years in a single line.

And there's so much more on here that's wonderful.  Is That Love, Goodbye Girl, Black Coffee In Bed... this is one of my favourite albums ever.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

I remember seeing Glenn Tilbrook on RockKwiz in the not too distant past, doing my favourite Squeeze song, Tempted.  He absolutely killed it, as did the house band.  It was blisteringly brilliant and I often go back and watch it again, as I did for this review.  Tilbrook doesn't just have a killer voice but has his guitar chops too.  Check it out for yourselves here and see if I'm wrong.  

But to be honest, I wasn't much of a Squeeze fan back in the day.  I liked Cool For Cats and had it on one of those vinyl collections back in the day.  And I remember Up The Junction being played on radio.  But beyond these three tracks, I hadn't listened to any Squeeze or at least not that I can remember anyway.

But there are some really great tracks on this collection.  I have to thank Mine for introducing me to them.  I even liked the song she didn't even though I'll admit stacked up against some of the other gems in this collection is a bit unfair.  But only a bit.  Top stuff!

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://www.squeezeofficial.com/

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nada Surf - High/Low


YOURZ

Released right in the middle of the 90s, it always seemed to me that Nada Surf provided the link between the sounds of grunge, the nerd-rock of bands like Weezer and the smart art-rock of Sonic Youth and others.  This despite their first single being a huge anthem to the downside of being the coolest kid at school with Popular.

Unfortunately, while High/Low has travelled the years very well and more recently has achieved recognition as a defining piece of music, this was a long time coming.  It didn't help that the band, full of promise, were completely hobbled by a relentless record company, Elektra, looking for a follow-up hit.  When the band presented their second album, the record company basically turned their back on them, letting the album languish until they eventually dropped the band.

While the centre-piece of High/Low is undoubtedly the single, it is so different to the rest of the album, the way it sticks out from the rest of the album is a bit like a sore thumb (I imagine the band probably feel the same way about the song too).  While there is not a dud track here, I particularly like Treehouse, The Plan, Sleep and the closer, Zen Brain.  Definitely a Forgotten Gem for me, so...

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

MINE

Of course I remembered Popular but I hadn't heard any of the rest of the album before, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Good fun, well put together, nice hooks - a shame the "long dark corridor" of the recording industry didn't treat them better.

But it got me thinking - wouldn't this be a great Glee episode?  They could do all those school-type songs.  How about adding in Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus and of course Smells Like Teen Spirit? Then I guess we'd have to have Rock and Roll High School and Beck's Loser.  An episode about high school songs: an instant classic.

Anyway, I loved High/Low and I wasn't expecting to.  Yay!

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://www.nadasurf.com/

Saturday, December 4, 2010

OK Go - OK Go


MINE

So long before this band became famous for this video clip, YourZ and I were sitting at home with another friend (hi, Dave!) and listening to a freebie compilation given away by Q Magazine.  A rock collection, if memory serves me.  And while most of the rest of it was unremarkable, one song made us sit up and listen.  (This video isn't quite the version we heard, but it'll do.) So we played it again, and then again.  And I believe later in the night we played it once more!

And then for quite a while I searched for the album it came from, believing it would be filled with similar gems.  And when I found it, I was a little disappointed.  But re-listening to that album now, I see I've dismissed the other songs too readily, because they're also great.  Sardonic, and at times weirdly reminiscent of The Cure, for some reason.  I love You're So Damn Hot and Don't Ask Me, but really they're all good.  So I can't call it a Forgotten Gem - but maybe it's a Rediscovered Gem?  Pop-rock heaven, anyway.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

YOURZ

I was pleased to finally land on OK Go so I could write about our collection of great CDs we've got for free from various music magazines.  As Mine says, we picked this track up from one such CD and I do believe we played the song possibly even more times.  I have a distinct memory of our friend requesting the song many times over the night.  And I think he laughed and sang along loudly each time.

I was sold on this band the first time I heard What To Do.  There was no way who ever wrote that song was going to write a one hit wonder.  I'd seen the album around when it was first released but didn't take much notice of it.  But I'm so pleased we sought this great band out.  This, their debut, is full of smart, wry pop rock gems (yeah, try saying that five times quick).

Again, as Mine says, they're more known for their clever videos.  Their domination of YouTube changed the landscape of the music industry.  And it won them a Grammy too.  Thankfully, they have continued to write the same smart music while making some fantastically inventive videos over the last few years (I reckon you could probably tell a lot about a person by what OK Go video they liked the most).

I listened to the CD twice through but was still wanting to hear more after the second listen.  And frankly, I'm a little surprised we haven't added anything more of theirs to our collection.  Guess these are going to be another addition to that list, Mine.
VERDICT:

For more information go to http://www.okgo.net/

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See

MINE

I was really pleased the other morning that it was raining while I made my way to work, listening to Mazzy Star.  Not because I like the rain - dammit this is supposed to be summer - but because it reminded me of when I like to listen to music like this.  Which is curled up on the sofa with a good book, the rain coming down outside and me snug and warm inside.

It also made me think about my niece, who's recently left home, and is the first of the young 'uns to leave the nest.  She's all about the horses and a lot of her musical tastes run to the country.  So I thought to myself, YourZ and I ought to get together an alt-country playlist for her.  There's a bunch of stuff we've reviewed this year that fits nicely into that genre, including this band, Cowboy Junkies, Love Me, M Ward, Nations By the River... we could have fun!

Anyway, there's a bunch of things Hope Sandoval's voice got me thinking about - and that's another reason I love Mazzy Star.  It lets your mind wander in the best of ways.  Love it.

VERDICT:TURN IT UP

YOURZ

I don't think I ever noticed how much parts of this CD remind me of The Doors.  In a good way, too.  This album, while best known for the hit single, Fade Into You, has a creeping, bluesy quality in parts where vocalist Hope Sandoval sounds like a female reincarnation of the Lizard King himself.  But then she does this whole whisper singing thing as well and sounds more like a country chanteuse, full of bitter passion.

It also sounds positively art cinema, so much so I'm waiting for someone like Jim Jarmusch to make a film using this as the soundtrack.  There's the dirty, almost falling apart blues of Wasted, the languid groove of She's My Baby, a folky, violin-fuelled spareness called Into Dust and, of course, the wasted elegance of Fade..., with that irresistible, velvet slide guitar line.  It is a thing of beauty.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP

For more information go to http://www.myspace.com/mazzystar68