Monday, 24 October 2011

#438 - "Under Construction" - Missy Elliot

Released On:  Goldmind / Elektra Records, 2002

Missy Elliot kicked the door open for strange sounds in hip-hop.  There was always a certain eccentricity in sample choices but Under Construction ran that idea through a blender; in essence it's a statement of Missy as an artist coming into her own.  She's on top of her game throughout, working the floor with a wild abandon rarely seen since the genresplosion of the early 90s.  She cuts like a razor switchblade on "Gossip Folks" and has an old-school blast on "Back In The Day".  On "Work It" she gets absolutely filthy, inviting a lover to perform very specific sexual acts on her, backed by an epic club jam complete with a backmasking hook.  The guest list is a who's-who of hip hop in the early Oughts, right down to the representative Ludacris verse on "Gossip Folks".  The mix of expert beatcraft from space-age tag team Missy and Timbaland proved to be a big commercial success, moving over two million sales to date, and listening to the highly creative field of hip-hop today it's hard to imagine a world without it.  It's the sort of album that still gets played when you're out drinking.

Where'd You'd Know It From:  The club and the radio; so, everywhere.

Track Listing:
1.  Intro/Go To The Floor (5:06)
2.  Bring The Pain (ft. Method Man) (2:59)
3.  Gossip Folks (ft. Ludacris) (3:54)
4.  Work It (4:58)
5.  Back In The Day (ft. Jay-Z) (4:55)
6.  Funky Fresh Dressed (ft. Ms. Jade) (3:56)
7.  Pussycat (4:32)
8.  Nothing Out There For Me (ft. Beyonce Knowles) (3:05)
9.  Slide (3:43)
10.  Play That Beat (3:02)
11.  Ain't That Funny (2:48)
12.  Hot (4:09)
13.  Can You Hear Me (ft. TLC) (4:29)

("Work It")

("Gossip Folks")

("Bring The Pain")

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

#439: "Punk In Drublic" - NOFX

Released On:  Epitaph Records, 1994

My last year of high school was spent practically living at the closest thing to a 'punk house' you could get in rural southwestern Ontario.  The guy that ran the local taxi service (which is quite the job in the country, let me tell you) owned a big old house at the edge of town.  He lived there with his two nephews, who didn't like to hold down jobs but who DID like to drink, smoke epic amounts of weed, play Street Fighter and listen loudly to mid-90's hooky post-hardcore punk.  Along with these two were an assorted crew of satellite characters, male and female, who would join in and add their own particular brands of Shenanigans.  There was a lot of feedback, a lot of fucking, and and lot of getting fucked up (to paraphrase the Stooges); oddly, there was also a lot of computerized chess.  It was my second positive experience with punk rock (the first being accidentally getting Stranger Than Fiction for Chirstmas) and, at the risk of sounding like Craig Finn, when I first thought that punk rock might actually be our saviour.  The soundtrack was usually Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords, featuring a slew of great punk records, but Punk In Drublic stands head and shoulders above all of them.  Out of all the so-called skater-punk bands of the mid-to-late 90's NOFX had the best head for memorable melodies and catchy lyrics, while simultaneously having the best eye for how to best state your contempt for modern society using epic amounts of snark.  Punk In Drublic is the triumph of the Epitaph sound.  It took the effortless hook-machine sound of Bad Religion but dropped the high-minded politics in favour of songs that spoke of a broader experience.  The smart ones got it, but so could the dumb ones (and the drunk ones).  Try NOT singing along to "The Brews", or feeling that punch in the gut when Kim Shattuck shows up near the end of "Lori Meyers".  It's not going to happen.  This was an album to define a micro-generation.  

Where You'd Know It From:  The punk kids in high school always blast it.  Every other NOFX album after it kind of sounds like it, too, making it even more ubiquitous.  

Track Listing:
1.  Linoleum (2:10)
2.  Leave It Alone (2:04)
3.  Dig (2:16)
4.  The Cause (1:37)
5.  Don't Call Me White (2:33)
6.  My Heart Is Yearning (2:23)
7.  Perfect Government (2:05)
8.  The Brews (2:40)
9.  The Quass (1:18)
10.  Dying Degree (1:50)
11.  Fleas (1:47)
12.  Lori Meyers (2:21)
13.  Jeff Wears Birkenstocks? (1:26)
14.  Punk Guy ('Cause He Does Punk Things) (1:08)
15.  Happy Guy (1:58)
16.  Reeko (3:05)
17.  Scavenger Type (7:12)

("Don't Call Me White")

("The Brews")

("Leave It Alone")

Monday, 18 July 2011

#440 - "Strangeways, Here We Come" - The Smiths

Released On:  Rough Trade, 1987

Johnny Marr's primary songwriting influence for this album was The Beatles, and it's just those sort of slow, druggy atmospheres that are all over moments like the epic coda of "Death Of A Disco Dancer".  As the last album the band ever released it is something of a disappointment; the band was beginning to break away from the sound that it had perfected on The Queen Is Dead but we will never know where they might have gone to had they not worked themselves to the breaking point.  Lead single "Girlfriend In A Coma" is really the only nod to their previous music.  Elsewhere throughout, there is an emphasis on a sort of piano-led Morrissey-driven bombast that is best exemplified by "Death Of A Disco Dancer" and "Last Night I Dreamr That Somebody Love Me".  Lyrically the album is haunted by the specter of death; people die, people contemplate murder, the death of the band is even foreshadowed in "Paint A Vulgar Picture".  This is, of course, really the only way to possibly end The Smiths - a band of such exquisitely dark snark can only end in theatrical bloodbath.  Interestingly, all four former members count the album as their favourite.

Where You'd Know It From:  "Girlfriend In A Coma" is a favourite of retro clubs and radio shows.  The album also went to #2 in the UK (#55 in the U.S.).



Track Listing:
1.  A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours (3:00)
2.  I Started Something I Couldn't Finish (3:47)
3.  Death Of A Disco Dancer (5:26)
4.  Girlfriend In A Coma (2:03)
5.  Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before (3:32)
6.  Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Love Me (5:03)
7.  Unhappy Birthday (2:46)
8.  Paint A Vulgar Picture (5:35)
9.  Death At One's Elbow (2:01)
10.  I Won't Share You (2:48)

("Girlfriend In A Coma")

("Death Of A Disco Dancer")

("I Started Something I Couldn't Finish")

Friday, 15 July 2011

#441 - "Hangable Auto Bulb" - Richard D James (AFX)

Released On:  Warp Records, 1995

I think that this is the only EP on the list (as far as I know), but it's a very necessary one.  The album not only invents/perfects an electronic micro-genre - drill n' bass - but is also a stellar example of drum n' bass in general.  Hangable Auto Bulb pays no attention to the dancefloor; this is not a rave album.  It concerns itself instead with twisted, high-tempo and high-intensity breakbeats interlaced with Richard D James' trademark off-kilter creepiness.  Tracks like "Children Talking" and "Laughable Butane Bob" are both mind-blowing and incredibly unsettling.  The sounds that close out the title track are nothing less than the sound of a man taking music, heating it until it has the consistency of warm taffy, and then twisting it into shapes that only vaguely resemble what came before.  For extra fun, take something hallucinatory, grab a copy of the Richard D James album, stare at that unearthly grin for ten minutes, and then listen to Hangable Auto Bulb.  "Custodian Discount" alone will earn you a berth in the local psych ward.

Where You'd Know It From:  Weird parties, weirder people.  Electronic musicians, "digital DJs".



Track Listing:
1.  Children Talking (5:16)
2.  Hangable Auto Bulb (6:46)
3.  Laughable Butane Bob (2:59)
4.  Bit (0:07)
5.  Custodian Discount (4:23)
6.  Wabby Legs (5:28)

("Children Talking")

("Laughable Butane Bob")

("Custodian Discount")

Thursday, 14 July 2011

#442 - "Darklands" - The Jesus And Mary Chain

Released On:  Blanco y Negro, 1987

In the early part of their career, Scotland's Jesus and Mary Chain were synonymous with epic violence; 20-minute, audience-baiting sets followed by near-riots were quite common, with the band claiming it was "art as terrorism".  They were also synonymous with feedback-slathered noise-pop, where classic pop melodies were buried under screaming guitar noise (something many modern artists - Wavves, Times New Viking, Eat Skull - seem hellbent on emulating).  By Darklands both of those things were virtually gone; the band's inability to get gigs in the UK for most of 1985 had ended the most flagrant acts of artistic terrorism and the feedback had been dialed back to a much more accessible level.  Also gone was drummer Bobby Gillespie, who had gone on to form Primal Scream and was replaced by a drum machine.  The result is much more of a classic pop album than it is a pillar of the post-punk 80s; think of a volumed-up Beach Boys on a Velvet Underground bender through Scotland.  Anyone who claims to dislike this album simply has not loved or drank enough.

Despite the end to the violent reputation, 1987 did hold one notorious incident for the band.  They played a show at the Guvernment in Toronto (then known as the RPM Nightclub) during which singer Jim Reid attacked two audience members with his microphone stand.  I'm sure the night spent in a Toronto jail was fun and educational.

Where You'd Know It From:  Being British in the 80s, when it went to #5 (although it scored a berth at *ahem* #167 in the US).



Track Listing:
1.  Darklands (5:29)
2.  Deep One Perfect Morning (2:43)
3.  Happy When It Rains (3:36)
4.  Down On Me (2:36)
5.  Nine Million Rainy Days (4:29)
6.  April Skies (4:00)
7.  Fall (2:28)
8.  Cherry Came Too (3:06)
9.  On The Wall (5:05)
10.  About You (2:33)


("Happy When It Rains")

("April Skies")

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

#443 - "Pod" - The Breeders

Released On:  4AD, 1990

Released at the height of her day-job band's prowess, Kim Deal's side-project debut is immediately more straightforward than anything the Pixies ever did.  Much of this has to do with Deal's bandmate, Tanya Donnelly of Throwing Muses.  The Pixies were all dynamic and angles; Donnelly's influence serves to sand down some of the sharper angles and shore up a more pop-influenced sound, helped along the way by the punchy, bottom-heavy production courtesy of uber-producer Steve Albini.  Listening closely you can realize that it's definitely an album of the 90s; it's sound, fury, and structure are all classically grungy in nature, yet it predates almost everything of that era.  Kurt Cobain called it one of the biggest influences in his life, saying that "it's an epic that will never let you forget your ex-girlfriend".  Whatever that means.  Personally it sounds like the band took "Gigantic" and ran with it - something many bands would have been wiser to adopt.

Where You'd Know It From:  You went to college in the 90s.  Maybe you collect Beatles covers.  Weirdo.



Track Listing:
1.  Glorious (3:23)
2.  Doe (2:06)
3.  Happiness Is A Warm Gun (2:46)
4.  Oh! (2:27)
5.  Hellbound (2:21)
6.  When I Was A Painter (3:24)
7.  Fortunately Gone (1:44)
8.  Iris (3:29)
9.  Opened (2:28)
10.  Only In 3's (1:56)
11.  Lime House (1:45)
12.  Metal Man (2:46)


("Happiness Is A Warm Gun")

("Fortunately Gone")

Sunday, 10 July 2011

#444 - "L'Autrichienne" - Jucifer

Released On:  Relapse Records, 2008

There's so much heavy on this album that it's sometimes hard to realize that there are only two players here:  husband-and-wife duo Gazelle Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood.  Between the two of them they touch on Sabbath-inspired hard rock ("Blackpowder"), grindcore ("Thermidor"), doom metal ("Deficit", "Armada") and some good old-fashioned yearning minor-key balladry ("To The End", "L'Autrichienne").  The diversity here is almost as astounding as the sheer length; for an album that clocks in at 70 minutes it drags very rarely. Plus, it's a concept album about Marie Antoinette (the titular Austrian) which only adds to the hard-edged cool factor.  If you've ever been a fan of dynamics in heavy music then this is definitely one to check out, all the more so as the band is severely underrated and has spent the last seven years in an RV touring the country.  As far as rock n' roll lives go, that's admittedly pretty cool, but click that BUY link anyway, as I'm sure they could use the change.

Where You'd Know Them From:  They've probably rocked your town at least twice, even if you've never heard of them.



Track Listing:
1.  Blackpowder (2:16)
2.  Thermidor (0:32)
3.  To Earth (3:04)
4.  Deficit (2:29)
5.  Champ De Mars (3:52)
6.  Fall Of The Bastille (0:56)
7.  To The End (3:18)
8.  Armada (5:56)
9.  L'Autrichienne (5:00)
10.  Behind Every Great Man (3:10)
11.  October (4:09)
12.  Birds Of A Feather (2:11)
13.  Traitors (2:28)
14.  The Law Of Suspects (2:31)
15.  Noyade (4:21)
16.  The Mountain (9:07)
17.  Window (Where The Sea Falls Forever) (4:59)
18.  Fleur De Lis (2:39)
19.  Procession A La Guillotine (3:50)
20.  Coma (1:40)
21.  The Assembly (1:57)



("The Mountain")

#445 - "Black On Both Sides" - Mos Def

Released On:  Rawkus Records, 1999

Contrary to what you might imagine, rapper-musician-actor-political activist Mos Def only has one great album to his name (although 2009's The Ecstatic is good too, in its own way).  Coming off the stellar pairing of himself and Talib Kwali, though, how could his debut be anything but a bona fide hip hop classic?  Lyrically it was quite different from the vast majority of mainstream rap then and now; socially conscious hip hop doesn't chart all that often but when it does it's worth it.  Musically its basis is in old-school hip-hop (two songs sample Eric B and Rakim) and tempered sampling with live instrumentation ( is playing the electric Fender Rhodes on "Umi Says", before he abandoned musicianship for money and political posturing). Front and center is Mos Def's intricate flow and clever wordplay, proving that the man has always had the skills even if he made questionable choices on later albums.  Mos Def would always get eclectic, which would fail as often as it would succeed, but his most successfully eclectic moment is one of the highlights here, "Rock And Roll", in which he embraces hardcore punk and discusses White America's continual appropriation of black music as their own ("Elvis Presley ain't got no soul / Chuck Berry is rock and roll").  It's a brilliant juxtaposition and contains a diss of Limp Bizkit; in retrospect I was sold from the start.  One of the most adventurous hip hop albums of the 90s.

Where You'd Know It From:  Mos Def has of course been in such films as "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" and "Be Kind Rewind".  Soon he'll even be on Dexter (how fun is that?!).  The album itself was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts and "Ms. Fat Booty" is a classic track from the 90s.

Track Listing:
1.  Fear Not Of Man (4:28)
2.  Hip Hop (3:16)
3.  Love (4:23)
4.  Ms. Fat Booty (3:43)
5.  Speed Law (4:16)
6.  Do It Now (Ft. Busta Rhymes) (3:49)
7.  Got (3:27)
8.  Umi Says (5:10)
9.  New World Water (3:11)
10.  Rock And Roll (5:02)
11.  Know That (Ft. Talib Kwali) (4:03)
12.  Climb (Ft. Vinia Mojica) (4:02)
13.  Brooklyn (5:09)
14.  Habitat (4:39)
15.  Mr. Nigga (Ft. Q-Tip) (5:12)
16.  Mathematics (4:06)
17.  May-December (3:29)

("Ms. Fat Booty")

("Rock And Roll")

( "Brooklyn")

Saturday, 9 July 2011

#446 - "New Adventures In Hi-Fi" - R.E.M.

Released On:  Warner Bros., 1996

I first got into modern rock music the summer before this album was released.  As I was first forming an opinion of music and what was pleasing, the local radio station was playing "E-Bow The Letter", "The Wakeup Bomb", and "Bittersweet Me" in regular rotation.  This album has forever since reminded me of being fourteen and discovering everything for the first time.  For the band it was a retreat from the bombastic guitar noise that made 1994's Monster such a drag, and a willingness to use that noise in moderation and in balance with the somber acoustics that informed Automatic For The People.  The Monster tour did not go swimmingly, but they took a page from their opening act (*cough* Radiohead *cough*) and recorded these songs on the road (presumably learning the mistakes they made on Monster in the process).  There was still a lot of studio-amped loudness ("Leave", "The Wakeup Bomb") but it didn't overwhelm the listener this time around, and it tended to sound more like R.E.M discovering volume rather than R.E.M. discovering grunge.  "Bittersweet Me" especially sounded like a contemporary update of something from their 80s IRS output.  Sometimes at night when I close my eyes I can still hear "E-Bow The Letter" rattling around in there.

Where You'd Know It From:  Radio and television, aging Gen-Xers.



Track Listing:
1.  How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us (4:31)
2.  The Wake-Up Bomb (5:08)
3.  New Test Leper (5:26)
4.  Undertow (5:09)
5.  E-Bow The Letter (5:24)
6.  Leave (7:17)
7.  Departure (3:29)
8.  Bittersweet Me (4:05)
9.  Be Mine (5:33)
10.  Binky The Doormat (5:01)
11.  Zither (2:34)
12.  So Fast, So Numb (4:12)
13.  Low Desert (3:31)
14.  Electrolite (4:05)

("E-Bow The Letter")

("Bittersweet Me")


Thursday, 7 July 2011

#447 - "The Warning" - Hot Chip

Released On:  EMI / Astralwerks

If you've ever seen Revenge Of The Nerds then you've seen the part where the titular nerds win a talent competition by playing a so-80s synth pop song with homebuilt equipment (and robots).  This, in essence, is Hot Chip.  British indie kids attracted to electronica early in their career, they were relatively unknown before The Warning took over the blogs in 2006, and subsequently the charts (at home anyway - the most they managed over here was a top 20 berth on the Electronic Albums chart).  The album was an earthy mixture of live instruments and warm, well-loved analog synths.  The combination produced a friendly, dancefloor-ready sound that was often at odds with the lyrical subject matter.  That side of the album is quite a bit darker than electronic albums usually get; it can be quite jarring to hear the refrain of "We try, but we don't belong" over the breezy, relaxed butterscotch beats of "And I Was A Boy From School" or the rather violent posturing of the title track ("Hot Chip will break your legs, snap off your head" goes one memorable line).  This was perfectly in keeping with the Revenge Of The Nerds idea, too; the protagonist-nerd in the movie technically rapes his love interest by pretending to be her boyfriend, and thinks no worse of himself for it.  After all, there's always been a resentful, revengeful streak to the nerd motif in society - if you were constantly picked on you'd be seething with rage too.

Where You'd Know It From:  Blogs and music mags alike adored it; it was a top 40 hit in the UK.



Track Listing:
1.  Careful (3:28)
2.  And I Was A Boy From School (5:19)
3.  Colours (5:28)
4.  Over And Over (5:47)
5.  (Just Like We) Breakdown (4:12)
6.  Tchaparian (3:20)
7.  Look After Me (4:50)
8.  The Warning (4:51)
9.  Arrest Yourself (2:31)
10.  So Glad To See You (4:05)
11.  No Fit State (5:38)
12.  Won't Wash (2:35)

("And I Was A Boy From School")

("Over And Over")

("The Warning")

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

#448 - "For Your Own Special Sweetheart" - Jawbox

Released On:  Atlantic Records, 1994

Jawbox were a typical victim of the Alternative Revolution; after achieving indie cred on the legendary Dischord label, they released two great but under-selling albums and imploded.  In Jawbox's case it's particularly hard to take, as their major label debut, For Your Own Special Sweetheart, is a pinnacle of indie rock circa the mid-90s.  It takes Fugazi-esque post-hardcore and makes it sound absolutely massive.  With a major-label recording budget behind them it avoids the middle-heavy muddle that other albums of the period trapped themselves in.  Each instrument is distinct and separate, which for a 1994 band with their sound is impressive (*cough* Sunny Day Real Estate *cough*).  It proves that sometimes it isn't necessary to constantly progress; it perfects the sound that at the time was still being called "emo".  It would never have succeeded anyway, not as a major label record; it's hooks aren't obvious enough, it's charms weren't as straightforward and easy for the masses to digest as Green Day and the Offspring would prove to be.  It's simply a blessing that some idealistic A&R guy at Atlantic took a chance on them in the first place.

Where You'd Know It From:  You were an indie-kid in the mid-90s, you remember when emo wasn't a dirty word, you got caught up in reissue fever in the late Oughts.  "Savory" was on MTV for a while in '94.



Track Listing:
1.  FF=66 (2:41)
2.  Savory (4:39)
3.  Breathe (2:47)
4.  Motorist (3:43)
5.  LS/MFT (2:50)
6.  Cooling Card (2:51)
7.  Green Glass (3:26)
8.  Cruel Swing (2:16)
9.  Jackpot Plus! (2:34)
10.  Chicago Piano (3:30)
11.  Reel (3:39)
12.  U-Trau (3:10)
13.  Whitney Walks (3:57)


("Cooling Card")


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

#449 - "Travels With Myself And Another" - Future Of The Left

Released On:  4AD Records, 2009

After this album leaked three months before its release date, singer Andy Falkous pitched a hissy fit about "entitlement" and "this valueless modern culture" that was stealing the bread from his mouth (conveniently ignoring the fact that as a regionally 'famous' punk rock band he likely wouldn't have made a bloody dime off his record sales anyway).  One thing he got right was that the album deserved "a fanfare and fuss befitting its status".  Featuring half of mclusky, the album exemplified the caustic wit and flair for the dramatic that the long-dead Welsh band had been known for, but shaved off the rougher edges and made it swing more.  It makes moments like the breakdown in "Arming Eritrea" or the buzz-bin-'92 riffing that propels "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" all the more poignant.  Click the "BUY" link though, if only for the rest of us.

Where You'd Know It From:  You read hipster blogs.  

Track Listing:
1.  Arming Aritrea (2:57)
2.  Chin Music (1:56)
3.  The Hope That House Built (3:41)
4.  Throwing Bricks At Trains (2:36)
5.  I Am Civil Service (2:17)
6.  Land Of My Formers (2:47)
7.  You Need Satan More Than He Needs You (2:46)
8.  That Damned Fly (2:07)
9.  Stand By Your Manatee (2:08)
10.  Yin / Post-Yin (2:54)
11.  Drink Nike (2:33)
12.  Lapsed Catholics (4:15)

("The Hope That House Built")

("Arming Eritrea")

("You Need Satan More Than He Needs You")

Saturday, 25 June 2011

#450 - "Pink" - Boris

Released On:  Southern Lord Records, 2005

Japan and noise go hand in hand - their hardcore punk scenes are legendary and experimental artist Merzbow is internet shorthand for noise music.  Boris is the sludge of Japan's noise-punk community, playing heavy riffs like Sleep and Jesu with enough amplifier worship to wrap every note in an aura of screaming bright volume, but they still clung to the hardcore scene which they sprang from.  Pink was their most accessible album, if you can call it that, moving things into a more melodic direction but keeping the feedback-laden production.  The album opens with "Farewell", which brings the idea of metalgaze to the point of post-rock.  The temp then kicks up to a high degree.  Tracks like "Nothing Special" and "Woman On The Screen" were crash-along noisy hardcore; "Pink", "Blackout", and "Pseudo-Bread" came off as doom metal played by a thrash band.  The closing track, "Just Abandoned Myself", crushes out god-tier headbanging for nearly six minutes before resolving into twelve minutes of hazy, spaced-out feedback.  It sounds like nirvana being achieved in a sweaty basement filled to the choking point with weed smoke.

Where You'd Know It From:  Weirdos with imported music collections, metalhead P4K readers.




Track Listing:
1.  Farewell (7:33)
2.  Pink (4:20)
3.  Woman On The Screen (2:38)
4.  Nothing Special (2:18)
5.  Blackout (4:49)
6.  Electric (1:45)
7.  Pseudo-Bread (4:30)
8.  Afterburner (4:22)
9.  Six, Three Times (2:53)
10.  My Machine (2:01)
11.  Just Abandoned Myself (18:14)


("Nothing Special")


Thursday, 23 June 2011

#451 - "...And Out Come The Wolves" - Rancid

Released On:  Epitaph Records, 1995

...And Out Come The Wolves is, of course, one of the four major pillars of the second wave of punk, along with Dookie, Smash, and Stranger Than Fiction.  Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman had both done their time in legendary Berkeley ska-punk band Operation Ivy; they would carry that influence into Rancid, an influence that is instantly recognizable in the radio-invading bounce of a track like "Time Bomb".  That song and "Ruby Soho" shot the band straight into the awareness of the younger siblings of the grunge kids.  Other second-wavers like NOFX, Green Day, and Bad Religion would develop a slick pop sheen to their punk rock core but Rancid refused to shave all of their rough edges off; the vocals were still gritty, and the songs could have still held their own at a show in the anarchic communes (maybe).  These songs were their lives; they were restless, a little aimless, and infused with a burning desire to do something.   

Where You'd Know It From:  "Ruby Soho", "Time Bomb" and "Roots Radical" were all hits on rock radio in the 90s.

Download It:


Track Listing:
1.  Maxwell Murder (1:25)
2.  The 11th Hour (2:28)
3.  Roots Radicals (2:47)
4.  Time Bomb (2:24)
5.  Olympia Wa. (3:30)
6.  Lock, Step & Gone (2:25)
7.  Junkie Man (3:04)
8.  Listed M.I.A. (2:22)
9.  Ruby Soho (2:37)
10.  Daly City Train (3:21)
11.  Journey To The End Of The East Bay (3:11)
12.  She's Automatic (1:35)
13.  Old Friend (2:53)
14.  Disorder And Disarray (2:49)
15.  The Wars End (1:53)
16.  You Don't Care Nothin' (2:28)
17.  As Wicked (2:40)
18.  Avenues & Alleyways (3:11)
19.  The Way I Feel (2:34)

("Ruby Soho")

("Time Bomb")

("Roots Radical")

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

#452 - "Meat Puppets II" - Meat Puppets

Released On:  SST Records, 1984

Meat Puppets II is an album that is simultaneously shitkicker music and music that will kick the shit out of you.  Songs like "Lost" and "Split Myself In Two" are just as much rooted in hardcore country-and-western traditions as they are in the anarchic spirit of hardcore punk.  The result is the perfect go-nowhere small-town punk album, music that makes you want to get drunk in the barn and crank it because your nearest neighbours are far, far away.  Kurt Cobain was very obviously a fan; three songs from Unplugged In New York, "Oh Me", "Plateau", and the funereal "Lake Of Fire", are included herein.  A lot of bands that would adopt the idea of "cowpunk" were largely NOFX-esque skater punk bands with a twang; the Kirkwood brothers actually got country, though, and realized that there was always a darkness hanging around at the edge of town.  Life was a black affair, and their adaptation of the 'poor white blues' incorporated this just as well as their mid-20th century influences did.

Where You'd Know It From:  Nirvana, again.  I'm sure most of the kids from the middle of the generation know about the band from Unplugged In New York.  

Download It:


Track Listing:
1.  Split Myself In Two (2:24)
2.  Magic Toy Missing (1:22)
3.  Lost (3:26)
4.  Plateau (2:22)
5.  Aurora Borealis (2:44)
6.  We're Here (2:43)
7.  Climbing (2:43)
8.  New Gods (2:12)
9.  Oh, Me (3:02)
10.  Lake Of Fire (1:57)
11.  I'm A Mindless Idiot (2:29)
12.  The Whistling Song (2:57)


("Oh, Me")

("Split Myself In Two")

Saturday, 18 June 2011

An Interesting Quandry...

That is, should I start sharing mediafire links for these albums?  On one hand, the links are already out there and interested parties could just search for them via Google anyway.  It would make the entries more complete, in my mind:  "Here's a blurb about the album, here's some YouTube links to give you an idea, if you like it here's the mediafire link to download it".  I suppose that if the album is available on iTunes I could put a "Buy It" link as well, right?  On the other hand, "insert corporate stooge ideology about piracy and hurting artists here".

Wow, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  Time to edit some links.  Maybe I'll FINALLY get some comments up in this place...even if it's just "cease and desist".

Thursday, 16 June 2011

#453 - "Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts" - Matthew Good Band

Released On:  Independent (Later A & M Records), 1995

Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts is the best-selling independently released album in Canadian history.  The mid-1990s were a boom time for the Canadian recording industry; the alternative revolution in the U.S. translated into a huge burst of alternative-leaning rock bands from the North.  Canada's rock history consisted for the most part of ex-pats (like Neil Young or the Band), and the Guess Who.  Our bands in the 90s, lacking a solid national tradition, tended to ape American rock bands like the Smashing Pumpkins (Our Lady Peace), Built To Spill (treble charger) or Nine Inch Nails (Econoline Crush).  Matthew Good was a step apart from these others; he always sounded as though he were treading a path of honest-to-goodness original thought.  There was perhaps more than a little R.E.M. guitar work going on in most of these songs but the lyrics, the vicious delivery and the mood of tonal despair are all very much his own.  Not one electric guitar was used on the record, either; just an ex-folkie's acoustic guitars run through Marshall stacks that powered such propulsive attacks as the gigantic "Haven't Slept In Years".

Where You'd Know It From:  You're Canadian, and you grew up in the 90s.

Track Listing:
1.  Alabama Motel Room (3:18)
2.  Symbolistic White Walls (4:30)
3.  She's Got A New Disguise (6:17)
4.  Native Son (4:52)
5.  Vermilion (4:49)
6.  Every Name Is My Name (4:00)
7.  Haven't Slept In Years (3:23)
8.  Radio Bomb (3:09)
9.  Fearless (5:15)
10.  The War Is Over (7:56)
11.  (Omissions Of The Omen) (4:32)

Download It:  There's no mediafire link, so find it at your own discretion (you may have to download an entire discography, or, I don't know, just buy the album)


("Symbolistic White Walls")

("Alabama Motel Room")

("Haven't Slept In Years") (The Raygun EP version)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

#454 - "Wowee Zowee" - Pavement

Released On:  Matador Records, 1995

The sound of a hyper-literate, hyped-up American indie band reacting to fame by sprawling their genius all over a lengthy canvas.  After having a minor sort of hit with 1994's "Cut Your Hair", they retreated into their humble beginnings as messy art-rock sound collage.  There was still the melodic brilliance that made their first two full-lengths such instant classics; "Rattled By The Rush", "Motion Suggests Itself" and "Best Friend's Arm" are easy additions to the list of great rock songs Pavement has made.  It feels looser, though, with a lot more breezy jamming in the middle of songs and a lot of mid-song direction changes.  There are even tracks ("Brinx Job", "Serpentine Pad", "Flux = Rad") that feel like the band trying on other genres to see if they fit.  "Father To A Sister Of A Thought" contains some of the best countrified steel guitar I've heard outside of it's usual cliche settings.  When it came out, Rolling Stone tried to say that it was sprawling and experimental because Pavement was afraid of success; Stephen Malkmus counter-claimed that it was because they smoked a great deal of weed while they were recording it.  Rolling Stone also only gave it 2.5 stars, one of many reasons why RS is complete shit.

Where You'd Know It From:  Pavement were indie-famous in the 90s, meaning that hip know-it-alls with the time to read music magazines knew them and pretty much no one who listened to mainstream rock radio did. Still, they've been deified so much since they broke up the first time that you've probably seen them mentioned at least a few times.  There's even a Canadian teen's show that named one of the main characters after a Pavement song.

Track Listing:
1.  We Dance (3:01)
2.  Rattled By The Rush (4:16)
3.  Black Out (2:10)
4.  Brinx Job (1:31)
5.  Grounded (4:14)
6.  Serpentine Pad (1:16)
7.  Motion Suggests Itself (3:15)
8.  Father To A Sister Of A Thought (3:30)
9.  Extradition (2:12)
10.  Best Friend's Arm (2:19)
11.  Grave Architecture (4:16)
12.  AT & T (4:16)
13.  Flux = Rad (1:45)
14.  Fight This Generation (4:22)
15.  Kennel District (2:59)
16.  Pueblo (3:25)
17.  Half A Canyon (6:10)
18.  Western Homes (1:49)

("Best Friend's Arm")

("Rattled By The Rush")

("Father To A Sister Of A Thought")

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

#455 - "Hot Fuss" - The Killers

Released On:  Island/Universal/Mercury, 2004

If Interpol wanted to be Joy Division by way of The Cure, then the Killers were the mid-decade aftermath - New Order.  It was as bright and polished as one might expect from a band coming from Las Vegas, yet underneath that pop sheen and Eighties-Retro groove was a sense of sadness and resentment.  Not to harp on the obvious, but the Killers and New Order shared the same ideal:  bang-on pop songs that sound as if they could have been formed whole by a versificator that were also fucking downers.  To the casual listener they were good-time songs, pop hits to soundtrack nights at alterna-clubs, but it was always just an illusion to mask the real emotions:  the emotional toll that is taken by living and loving in Sin City.

Where You'd Know It From:  Any of it's four big singles.  Maybe you're one of the 3.4 million people in the U.S  (or the 300 000 from Canada?) that bought it.  Probably you've just heard it on the radio.

Track Listing:
1.  Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine (4:04)
2.  Mr. Brightside (3:42)
3.  Smile Like You Mean It (3:54)
4.  Somebody Told Me (3:17)
5.  All These Things That I've Done (5:01)
6.  Andy, You're A Star (3:14)
7.  On Top (4:18)
8.  Change Your Mind (3:11)
9.  Believe Me Natalie (5:05)
10.  Midnight Show (4:02)
11.  Everything Will Be Alright (5:45)

("Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine")

("Somebody Told Me")

("Mr. Brightside")

Monday, 13 June 2011

#456 - "Hello Nasty" - Beastie Boys

Released On:  Captiol Records, 1998

I vividly remember listening to the radio at one point when this album came out.  The local modern rock station ("London's Best Rock", FM96) had put "Intergalactic", the planet-destroying first single, into rotation, and this wasn't sitting well with some of the more belligerent listeners.  "I'm going to stop listening if you keep playing this rap crap" is what one winner actually said.  Suffice to say, it was on there for good reason; listener demographics and secret racism likely kept the vast majority of great hip-hop tracks off of rock radio but Hello Nasty was unstoppable.  It's a party that doesn't flag once, from the massive beat that starts off "Super Disco Breakin'" through to the appearance of Lee "Scratch" Perry on "Dr Lee, PhD".  It fit in perfectly with the Alternative Nation, too; witness the declaration on "Putting Shame In Your Game" about never being in an ad on television.

Where You'd Know It From:  You've heard it.  It was a freakin' #1 album.  Someone's played it, in their car, at a party, while hitting the bong.  You've at least heard "Intergalactic".  I mean, come on.

Track Listing:
1.  Super Disco Breakin' (2:07)
2.  The Move (3:35)
3.  Remote Control (2:58)
4.  Song For The Man (3:13)
5.  Just A Test (2:12)
6.  Body Movin' (3:03)
7.  Intergalactic (3:51)
8.  Sneakin' Out The Hospital (2:45)
9.  Putting Shame In Your Game (3:37)
10.  Flowin' Prose (2:39)
11.  And Me (2:52)
12.  Three MCs And One DJ (2:50)
13.  The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin') (3:01)
14.  Song For Junior (3:49)
15.  I Don't Know (3:00)
16.  The Negotiation Limerick File (2:46)
17.  Electrify (2:22)
18.  Picture This (2:25)
19.  Unite (3:31)
20.  Dedication (2:32)
21.  Dr. Lee, PhD (2:25)
22.  Instant Death (3:22)


("Super Disco Breakin'")

("The Negotiation Limerick File")

Saturday, 11 June 2011

#457 - "And Don't The Kids Just Love It" - Television Personalities

Released on Rough Trade, 1981

Before shambling/C86, there was Television Personalities, the first stable full-length by Daniel Treacy as his soon-to-be-permanent nom-de-rock.  Recorded on 4-track tape machines at the dawn of the generation, it fully spelled out what lo-fi would mean for every poor hip rock band to follow, as well as the future career of Art Brut.  The album is also quintessentially British.  "Jackanory Stories" named for a popular BBC children's show of the time, may as well be the bowler-hatted, Micheal Caine-looking geezer on the cover.  "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" is as sweet and addled as the man himself.  It was still essentially three-chord punk, but rooted firmly in the aesthetic of the Merseybeat.  Later, Treacy would release a number of albums that sold fairly well in Europe, develop a rather bad habit, and spend six years in another curiously Anglo construct, a prison ship.  This whole entry may as well be drinking tea right now.

This rather delightful article also posits that Treacy might be the shadowy brains behind another all-too-English band.
Where You'd Know It From:  You live in England, and/or you're a fan of obscure British rock bands.

Track Listing:
1.  This Angry Silence (2:39)
2.  The Glittering Prizes (3:01)
3.  World Of Pauline Lewis (2:38)
4.  A Family Affair (2:36)
5.  Silly Girl (2:49)
6.  Diary Of A Young Man (3:59)
7.  Geoffrey Ingram (2:15)
8.  I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives (2:34)
9.  Jackanory Stories (3:04)
10.  Parties In Chelsea (1:41)
11.  La Grande Illusion (3:33)
12.  A Picture Of Dorian Gray (2:13)
13.  The Crying Room (1:59)
14.  Look Back In Anger (2:40)

("This Angry Silence")

("I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives")
("Geoffrey Ingram")