Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some Albums Are Too Long!

Yes, another rant, but this one deals less with modern music this time. Even going back to the mid sixties there has been one thing that plagued the album format; double albums.

Now, if you have enough talent and skill to fill an album with great ideas, go for it. The Minutemen certainly did. 42 songs on a CD? Awesome!

Once again, awesome

But there has been a major problem over the last twenty years. Artists see all of this excess space on the CD format, all 80+ minutes of it, and feel the need to fill it, regardless of whether the material is actually any good. Dance music is one of the main offenders, as I have 39 'pure' dance music albums in my collection, and I'd say about 80% are over 50 minutes long. About 10 of these albums were double albums, with over an hour and a half of music.

Somnium, take your seven hours elsewhere... Nah, you are cool.

But you can almost see a reason for dance music to do this; it's not made sit down and listen to as much, it's usually made for another purpose (such as dancing???). But I take offense at Sigur Ros and the other bands that drag out ideas for too long, without purpose. And especially prog, I hate you.

It's not just a modern thing though, I seriously wonder if anyone has actually listened to The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Electric Ladyland properly. If you want an example of wanking for wanking's sake (get your mind out of the gutter), this album is it. Overlong songs, and too many songs ruin what would have been a brilliant 40 minute album if it were cut down. But my dislike of wanky-ness in music is another topic in itself...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Popular Albums & Their Lesser Known Awesome Songs

Exactly what the title says!

Got Me Under Pressure - ZZ Top - Eliminator

Underlooked at next to Legs and Sharp Dressed Man (which have admittedly been done to death), but it's so... catchy, with a sort of weird sounding solo, and with a line that goes "She loves cocaine". That line sounds out of place on a mainstream album like this, but when they also have a song called I Got The Six (So Give Me The 9), I can't say it's too surprising.

Bye Bye Love - The Cars - The Cars

Everyone knows Good Times Roll, My Best Friend's Girl and Just What I Needed, and the fifty bazillion other hits the Cars had. No one ever mentions the perfect mix of rock and new wave keyboards that is Bye Bye Love.

Never Before - Deep Purple - Machine Head

The album with Highway Star, Space Truckin', Lazy and of course that 'other song' (don't make me say it.) The jerky riffs and Ian Gillen's overly awesome voice (even more so then usual) makes this a great track for all the classic rock fans that have thrashed out the other singles too much.

Untitled - The Cure - Disintegration

This is probably the Cure's most well regarded album, and rightly so, with songs such as Lovesong, Pictures of You and Fascination Street. The album is closed off with Untitled, a slow and emotional dirge that utilises an accordion quite well, that I think even triumphs the already mentioned songs.

Gut Feeling - Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Maybe a little less popular, but still, probably Devo's second most well known album. Devo made their quirky image with songs such as Mongoloid, Jocko Homo and their cover of Satisfaction, but they don't match the cohesiveness and awesome bass work of Gut Feeling.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Music in Cycles

I find it weird that whenever I talk to one person a lot about music and in depth, I find when it comes to what type of music they listen to now, as opposed to a month ago, a year ago, several years ago, the answer is always the same; I liked and listened to this particular style of music a lot back then, and I still like it, but now I'm fully immersed in something else.

To put this in context, at the moment, I'm in the middle of a 60's/70's folk-ish cycle, which means I've been listening to a lot of Van Morrison, Nick Drake, John Martyn etc. A few months ago I was in a stoner rock cycle, with Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Black Sabbath (close enough). Before that, I was in a psychedelic rock cycle, with Pink Floyd, Dr Phibes and His House of Wax Equations and Love.

Even people who focus on a more narrow form of music (only certain types of rock or EDM) seem to go between the different types of music in the genres they like. What does this mean? Is it a way to escape boredom in being constricted to only one type of music? Is it an attention span thing? Does this "Music in Cycles" thing prove the person it happens to is a true music lover? I don't know.

Random thoughts:

  • Van Morrison has one of the most emotional and awesome voices ever, and Astral Weeks is his masterpiece. If you aren't experienced too much in jazz or folk that can be a little hard to get a handle on, get Moondance first, but Astral Weeks is a must.
  • Speaking of wailers, check out Flower Travllin' Band's Joe Yamanaka. He seriously has a set of pipes. Satori Part 1
  • Making a song list for an upcoming party is reminding me how terrible pop music has been for the last ten years.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Random Album Reviews I

Today I thought I'd do something different, so I went to my dad's CD collection, closed my eyes, and randomly picked three albums to listen to and give thoughts on.

Now, my dad is a metalhead, with some interest in 60's garage punk, and with his combined CD and vinyl collections would easily have over 1000 albums, so I can't say I'm surprised that judging from the covers I picked three metals albums, two from the 80's, and one more recent.

Metal as a whole is one genre I've only really scratched the surface of, so this should be interesting...

Kreator - Terrible Certainty

Seems like a standard speed/thrash metal album, so it means there are some good riffs ruined by spastic sections. The vocals are pretty cool, and the self titled track and As The World Burns were good. Not much more I can say.

Dream Evil - The Book of Heavy Metal

Crap, it's power metal! And has possibly the most obnoxious and egotistical album title ever. And is filled with wanking guitars. In spite of this, I enjoyed it. It was heavy enough without going overboard, the singer's high voice surprisingly didn't annoy me, and it flittered around with a few different metal styles and instruments. In the end, it is still power metal.

Judas Priest - Point of Entry

Good, a band I've heard of. This is how you do power metal, and this is a nice slice of early 80's metal, before it had fully earnt it's 'heavy' moniker. Everyone knows how awesome Robert Halford is, and the rest of the band are just as good. I really need to get into Judas Priest.