Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Old Albums I Have Recently Heard: Volume 2

More stuff I have only recently heard as a full album for the very first time.

Skafish's "Skafish"
I no longer wonder why a CD wasn't pressed of this one. I've been looking for this LP for about 6 or 7 years and found it. It turns out that encapsulates something Captain Beefheart once said about another recording entirely: "This album is not available to the public. Even if it were you wouldn't want to listen to it." I don't hate it but someone's trying too damn hard to be edgy and "outsider"y here.

The Cramps' "Songs The Lord Taught Us"
Rockabilly with too much echo, one of their earliest releases. If you told me the band was formed on a dare I'd believe you, it's very jagged but endearing. The cover of "Fever" on this album was featured during the "what the fuck just happened" sequence of the film The Hangover. The album immediately made me happy.

Sexual Milkshake's "Sing-A-Long in Hebrew"
I got this off eBay like two ago and my record player needle was screwed. Now that I heard it I don't think it was worth the fuss. It's noisy and fun to listen to but I haven't exactly had the urge to rip it to MP3. Great if you need something fun from the 1990s that you aren't sick of yet. Hardly worth the several years I spent tracking it down but if you have the chance to hear it and liked the other stuff related to this band, worth a look.

The Police's "Zenyatta Mondatta"
2 hits, 9 shits. I thought this was supposed to be good, it was pretty much a real drag.

David Bowie's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"
Astounding fact: I almost made it to 30 without hearing a Bowie album in its entirety. I probably would've hated this a few years ago, and I didn't like it much on the first listen... but it's growing on me. I think that means it's basically good but it wasn't the kind of moment where you basically feel like your ears should give you a hug for finally hearing something great. That's reserved for The Stooges' album "Raw Power."

Talking Heads' "Talking Heads: 77"
I heard a lot of their stuff but missed this one. Pretty good. While some critics posted otherwise I don't think they put out a genuinely awful album, ignoring True Stories... which I got for like a buck on vinyl and think I got taken. The debut has "Psycho Killer" on it and a bunch of other stuff that you probably haven't heard unless you were paying attention to the band 30+ years ago.

Alice Cooper's "School's Out" LP
I heard a lot of this in various places but decided it was time to hear the group's work from the early 1970s in its full album format. If you've already heard the title track and most of the tracks elsewhere, like on the boxed set or a greatest hits collection, you can probably skip this one. It's not that it's awful, it's actually a fun "let's work and write all night" kind of album. And I freaking love Alice Cooper, particular pre-solo career. (I love the "Billion Dollar Babies" LP so maybe there's no accounting for taste.)

Klark Kent's "Kollected Works"
If you like The Police but want less Sting and more snotty nose-thumbing, here you go. This is Stewart Copeland's side project and it's been on my hunt list for years... now that I've heard it, I can safely say that I worked too hard to find it, but I knew that after hearing "Don't Care" on a collection of 80s stuff like ten years ago. I don't think you're going to want to play this for your friends to show off some awesome obscure find, but it's worth listening to. "Grandelinquent" sounds like 1980s Frank Zappa and The Police had a baby instrumental song. Awww.

Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express"
People think this is their best album. It's a little harder to listen to, particularly because of Kraftwerk's decision to release albums in German (for Germany) and in English for other regions. The songs are basically the same but the fact that the tracks are sung in this German accent makes it almost sound like you're listening to Krafwerk perform thier own "Weird Al" Yankovic parody... I get why they didn't want to do it in just one language, and admittedly I'm new to hearing this band so I'm probably missing something, but it comes off as more goofy than great. (Perhaps more listens are required but I think if I put this on a loop for you that you'd ultimately kill yourself.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Newish Albums I Have Recently Heard: Volume 1

With toys I spend most of my life looking in all directions. With music, I generally look back. I try to find new stuff, though, because I probably should. I'm not old or anything, it's just that I prefer stuff that sounds like it was recorded awkwardly and doesn't involve someone's phone ringing.

Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Operation Stackola"
A couple of knuckleheads from Phoenix doing what is probably best deemed some sort of folk-punk, only it isn't annoyingly stupid, just pleasantly irate. This isn't going to make you feel any smarter but I can assure you that if you're a bitter fart from the desert you will enjoy it. Not as fun as their other stuff, much of which can be downloaded from their site for free. But most AJJ tracks are high entertainment, so.

Datarock's "Red"
This isn't out yet but people post things to their blogs and I have a habit of listening to them. Not as enjoyable as their debut, full of reference name-dropping. "The Blog" is a little too cute, my opinion of this album is inversely proportional to their actual command of the English language. If you haven't heard their s/t debut, give that a whirl, it's sugary but fun if you're a Talking Heads fan under 35. This album isn't for sale yet... but... uh... yeah. I keep my ears open and hear things.

Freezepop's "Form Activity Motion"
I genuinely enjoy this band's catalog but listening to this one all the way through was a chore. 8 songs which sound like they're probably better served to a certain kind of teenage girl, 1 new, 7 remixes/variant recordings. "Moons of Jupiter" is entertaining enough but there are four fucking mixes of "Frontload," another "Plastic Stars," and a pair of "Thought Balloon" revisions.

Friday, July 3, 2009

New Old Albums I Have Recently Heard: Volume 1

You know how a lot of people say that as adults, they want to go back and read all of those books that everyone was supposed to read in school? Well, I'm doing that with records lately. Like, the stuff I probably should've heard in college or on the radio in high school. For the purposes of this article, music older than 4 years will be defined as "old." Here are 7.

Kraftwerk's "Computer World"
Damn krauts and their awesome music I missed out on. I'm slogging my way through various albums of theirs and most of it is actually quite fantastic, despite being 30ish years old, in German, and made on really old electronic equipment.

Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon"
My friend Timmy once described this to me as an album "handed out to every boy when he turns 14." That's about right. I could've gone without hearing this one, listening through it was the sonic equivalent of doing homework.

The Cramps' "Gravest Hits" EP
Where have you been my whole life, beautiful? 5 tracks. Low-fi, too much echo, plus it includes a crappy cover of the already awesomely crappy "Surfin' Bird." "Human Fly" is also awesome. The sound is reasonably out-of-time, if you handed this to someone that never heard of them before and told them it was some new unknown punk act it's possible they'd believe you.

Avengers' "Avengers"
I heard a bit of this in a record store like eight years ago, and it's OK. It's seeing a reissue soon. San Francisco punk album from 30 years ago with female lead. Not a lost masterpiece but better than a lot of the stuff I'm subjecting myself to. "We Are The One" is cool but kinda corny, but the sound is great.

Ladytron's "604"
Heroin chic has never been more candylike and digestible. "Light And Magic" and "Velocifero" and subsequent LPs are helping to cure me of the notion that if I like a band I should own their discography.

Van Halen's "1984"
I have not heard any Van Halen LP in its entirety until recently. The first one is where I started, and like the Nerf Herder song says, it's fantastic. This one? Positively overrated. A couple of tracks are pretty great. "Hot For Teacher" is nothing special but sounds like someone injected it full of cocaine. Much like David Lee Roth.

Led Zeppelin's "Presence"
Why didn't John Bonham just die a few years earlier?

If by some reason you stumble on this, make me your guinea pig. What else should I have been listening to that you liked or hated?