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Really Classic Album Review: Sounds of Silence

Artist(s): Simon & Garfunkel
Full Title: Sounds of Silence
Year: 1966
Label: Columbia/ CBS
Tracks:

1) Sounds of Silence- 9
2) Leaves That Are Green- 8
3) Blessed- 7/8
4) Kathy’s Song- 9
5) Somewhere They Can’t Find Me- 8
6) Anji (instrumental)- 7
7) Richard Cory- 8
8) A Most Peculiar Man-9
9) April Come She Will- 10
10) We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin’- 8
11) I Am a Rock-9

Comments:
Simon & Garfunkel kick off this ditty with an impassioned, classic, Folk Rock anthem in the title track. The song showcases the duo’s great talent for harmonious vocals, soft, emotional, pop ballads; a far, far cry from their Tiger Beaty teen idol counterparts. A focal point, I often feel is necessary to make- that S & G were not just another wimpy, sensative, Teeny Bopper group, a category/genre that they are sometimes cast aside to. “Leaves That Are Green,” is a nice, catchy number, not too adventerous, but sound. “Blessed,” at least for my money, doesn’t quite cut as deep; it’s an ok tune, but not on par with other tracks. Enter “Kathy’s Song,” a rather soft spoken ballad, that is extremely direct, musically and lyrically. It’s as if Simon is singing soley for Kathy. The tune utilizes the “less is more” logic: it’s simply Simon and his Gee Tar singing his poetry, without any major choruses or instrumental changes. It really gives the ballad a distinct quality and overall feel. Clearly, the band had a knack for writing poetic numbers with deep themes behind them. Later on in the album, we hear two back to back character studies of two very different (or very similar?) suicide victims. The first being “Richard Cory” (based on the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem of the same name, we read in Brennan’s class, if y’all recall :) a fast paced tale about a extremely successful businessman, who seems to have it all and then one night decides to “put a bullet through his head.” This unexpected suicide is contrasted by the next track, “A Most Peculiar Man,” a slow, softer, song about a lonely man, who “lived all alone, within a house, within a room, within himself.” This fucking guy leaves on the gas in his car and thus takes his own life, much to no one’s chagrin. The two studies brilliantly stand in stark contrast to one another. They are followed up by the gentle, folky, “April Come She Will,” the LP’s strongest track, in my humble opinion. It’s so peaceful and almost Summerlike- reminding me of kicking back, relaxing, and thinking about “life.” And ok, also the fact that the months idenitfied include the Summer season! Another reason why I adore this lesser known S & G track is the fact that it was featured in the classic film, The Graduate (1967) as was the title track, the much, much more famous song. For some reason, April stands out to me more and instantly brings back images of the film and the scene it’s featured in. April, her only crime? Brevity… 1:53 is too short! This LP closes with another Folk Rock anthem in “I Am a Rock,” a highly catchy and memorable ditty that contains just about everything that made the pair loveable to begin with. Overall, this is a solid listen, but comparably weaker than most of their efforts. It feels more like a bunch of decent songs, rather than a whole album. With that being said, if you like 60s Folk Rock, poetic lyrics, songs with stories, a shit load of harmony in your vocals, etc. then you will probably dig this, and naturally if you are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel, then by all means, check this out.

Grade: B+

Classic Film Reviw: Gummo

Full Title: Gummo
Director: Harmony Korine (first timer)
Year: 1997
Grade: A
Comments: Chilling. Distubring. Haunting. These are some of the words that best describe Korine’s cult masterpiece. In more simple terms, however, FUCKED UP! describes it more accurately. Truly fucked up. Not strange. Not weird. Not bizarre. FUCKED UP. To be blunt, if you were trying to be polite and didn’t want to curse, so instead you replaced it with “screwed up,” I do not think you would be getting the picture across or doing the film justice for that matter. So, why is it so FUCKED UP? now, that I have mentioned it 500 times. Well, Korine does not present us with a story or a plot in any linear or normal sense. But, rather he takes us on a journey to a town “we would never want to call home,” as the tagline states (I may be paraphrasing) through documentary style, vivid, eerie shots of peculiar (to say the least) images and characters living their day to day lives. The characters are residents of a small, tornado struck town in Ohio, and their activities include killing (sometimes beating) cats and selling their remains, burglarizing, wrestling with chairs, amongst other antisocial behavior. And yes, that was not a joke about the chair wrestling! It is humorous in its odd nature, but at its heart, highly disturbng and really sad. These characters are bored and simply have nothing else to do, but wait to die or be the subject matter of a Steve Albini creation. Korine said he wanted to make a completely different kind of film, with shots coming from any (or every) direction and he did just that, so kudos to him. Gummo may not be the kind of movie you sit back and stuff popcorn down your throat and play over and over again for the giggles, but rather a totally unique experience worth at least one voyeursistic endeavour for those that can handle a completely (for the final time!) FUCKED UP film and want to challenge their psyche to something new; it’s nothing like I have ever seen before.

Here’s the trailer-

Fun Fact!: It was this trailer that specifically got me into Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” as it is the only song by her that I like.

Chris

Classic Album Review: Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

Artist: Deerhunter
Album: Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
Length: 81 Minutes
Label: Kranky
Year: 2008\

Microcastle

1) Cover Me (Slowly)- 9- Epic as fuck! Deerhunter kicks right in with a trippy, psychedelic, almost Pink Floydish triumph. I’m sure fans will cover it slowly over time.

2) Agoraphobia- 9- The first track perfectly flows right into this ditty. Lyrically, Pundt desperately moans, “Come for me, cover me, come for me, comfort me,” thus making these first two numbers inseparable.

3) Never Stops- 9- The flow keeps going. This is a pretty catchy tune actually. As spacey as Deerhunter can be (and they really are on this record) they never stop reeling you in with their pop hooks. Ok, I’ll cease making retarded puns from here on!

4) Little Kids- 9- This track is a bit slower than the others and doesn’t necessarily jump out at you, but it works in its own way. I dig the little bell like sounds in the background. They’re barely noticeable at first listens and yet so vital. That’s what I really appreciate about Deerhunter, the little things you continually discover after much needed ear time.

5) Microcastle-9- Very atmospheric, much like the opener: slow vocals in the background, really spacey. The emotion lies far more in the sound of the vocals than the actual lyrics themselves. I really dig it when the music unexpectedly explodes into a massive rocker. Truly a surprise that makes this track stand out as a Deerhunter classic.

6) Calvary Scars-8- This track makes heavy use of strange sound effects.

7) Green Jacket- 9- As with most of the songs, the previous track smoothly weens it’s way into this track. The highlight of this track is the beautiful piano work.

8) Activa- 8- Not much to say here lol.

9) Nothing Ever Happened- 9/10- Certainly one of the record’s strongest tracks. Unlike, other Deerhunter songs, this one is rocker you can bop to. The lyrics are demented and disturbing, but insanely catchy.

10) Saved By Old Times- 9- Starts with some simple strumming on an acoustic guitar, just like Old Times, bluesy garage stuff of the Black Lips fashion. Speaking of the Black Lips, midway into the song, everyone’s favorite cocksucker, Cole Alexander provides some bizarre, hilarious vocals. I swear he mentions being trapped in a basement, well he would know.

11) Neither Of Us, Uncertainly- 8- Psychedelicly like the others. It’s a decent track, but doesn’t particularly stand out.

12) Twilight At Carbon Lake- 9/10- Fantastic closer of grandiose proportions; just as epic, if not more, than the opener! In fact, it has a reprise feel to it, like you are just picking up where you left off at the beginning and everything in between was just a haze. Simply, the number has a very pop like, inviting sound to it, supported by 50s-60s era vocals, which makes you feel all warm inside ahah. Of course, the experience culminates into a heavy meltdown, as manic as anything else on this record. It’s an explosion of all the instruments and passion these Atlanta fellas have to offer. To Be Continued…



Weird Era Cont.
:

Unlike Mircro, for Weird Era I will provide some deep analysis as always, but not track by track rundown. First things fucking last, Micro is the superior of the two, but Weird Era perfectly complements it’s predecessor. With the first track, “Backspace Century,” the ambient, shoegaze flow is continued. In “Operation,” we find ourselves dancing and prancing to it’s catchy, electronic beat. As I said, much of this record shares the psychedelic/ambient sound of Micro, but it lacks in popability. The tracks have cool sounds that are stimulating to my ears, but they don’t make the hair on my testes jump up in excitement, like memorable Rock and Roll songs should do. In many ways Weird Era and Micro are like brothers and sisters and other ways they are their own entities, to be heard separately.

Final Comments/Grade
: A-, this is the kind of album that you have to experience as an album, from start to finish to really appreciate. And, I’m positive several, if not many listens will be required to truly grasp the brilliance of Deerhunter. There are pop songs and rock songs and yes even dance songs here. But, they do not jump out and dangle their naked bodies at ya and beg you for acceptance. In contrast, you have to dig deeper. May I suggest, a quiet place, alone perhaps, when it’s dark, just getting dark, dusk, early in the wee hours of the morning before you start to see light. I can imagine this would be a terrific record to lie back and stare at the stars to. Personally, there is a wintery feel to this record that enhanced the beauty of the record. All in all, a kudos to Cox and crew, I hope their musical/emotional exploration never stops…

Chris