Upcoming Classic Reviews!

I’m not sure if I am going to be able to listen to a lot of new music at college; fortunately, I did just receive a generous gift of several discs. I’ll be listening to them and reviewing them soon!

– Drive-By Truckers A Blessing and A Curse
Counting Crows August and Everything After
– Mojo Presents Abbey Road Now!
– Rolling  Stones Steel Wheels Outtakes + Stripped
– Genesis Live 1974
Bob Dylan Live @ Paris 1978
– Roger McGuinn (Byrds) Solo Live 1989
– The Cure Live

Classic CD Review: Cheap Time

Band: Cheap Time
Release: 2008
Label: In The Red

1. “Too Late” – A-
2. “Glitter & Gold” – A-
3. “Zig-Zag” – A
4. “People Talk” – A
5. “Push Your Luck” – B+
6. “Living in the Past” – B+
7. “Tight Fit” – A
8. “Permanent Damage” – A-
9. “The Ballad of Max Frost” – B-
10. “Falling Down” – B+
11. “Over Again” – B
12. “Ginger Snap” – B
13. “Back To School” – B+
14. “Trip to the Zoo” – A

Comments: Cheap Time supported everyone’s best friend, Jay Reatard, on a 2008 tour to promote this fine album. Now, at a few gigs I’ve noticed opening bands not really sounding at all like the main act. In the case of Cheap Time, they happen to sound quite similar to Jay. With all songs except for one under three minutes, CT gets the job done quickly and relatively complex-free. These songs are kind of hard to at first judge and say “yeah, I like this” or “nah, this sucks.” “Tight Fit” might be the band’s best attempt at shoot-em up punk and, in my very humble opinion, one of the best on here. Overall, this isn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but for 2008, it was definitely one of my big listens. It’s got its moments.

Classic CD Review: An End Has A Start

Band: Editors
Release: 2007
Label: FADER (US); Kitchenware (UK)

1. “Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors” – A++
2. “An End Has A Start” – A+
3. “The Weight Of The World” – A+
4. “Bones” – A+
5. “When Anger Shows” – A+
6. “The Racing Rats” – A++
7. “Put Your Head Towards The Air” – A++
8. “Escape The Nest” – A++
9. “Spiders” – A+
10. “Well Worn Hand” – A

Comments: I don’t get how a song like “Smokers” could be criticized to any degree. It’s a complete song, replete with harmonies, prolonged guitar solos, and pounding drums. In fact, it’s one of my favorites of all time. Editors, you know, don’t conceal their roots too well. Comparisons to post-punk fathers as well as revivalists are abound in various critical works. Big chunks of Editors’ sound = reverberated heavy high notes. If you are not fond of these repetitive ditties, you might be easily irritated by this album. Also, Tom’s deep voice is not kind to everyone’s ear. Ian Curtis or Paul Banks or whatever other comparisons exist are essentially void because all these vocalists are their own animal. Also, I think Editors have “moments” in their music, especially present in this album, that are absolutely clutch and experience-changing. These “moments” turn good songs into great ones and great ones into classics. While the band hasn’t exploded in such a manner as the Killers did (pop songwriting can only get you so far in today’s environment), I’m sure the band’s general following has both seen periods of increase and decrease (with the latter potentially due to the band’s latest effort In This Light and On This Evening, which is heavily darker and more electro based). Chris might have been riding the coattails of a spectacular January 2008 concert (Orpheum Theatre) when he commented “there’s no doubt in my mind that this band will be huge within the next few years.” Taking a 180 degree turn sound-wise is something that simply may not make that possible, but the freedom to change and improve is, itself, a testament to what Chris said next, “They are a great example of how a band can achieve such tremendous success, yet still be attached to independent label and not have to sacrifice their integrity.” Getting back to the album itself…”The Racing Rats” is an awesome song for all the hunnies to dance to despite its depressing lyrics. Let me not forget to mention that in some instances like in “Put” there is a wildly atmospheric element existing above what we know as pop. Okay so the last song is cheesy and could sound okay in Aladdin or some shit: “I don’t want to go out alone anymore.” But it’s Tom’s baritone that makes it somewhat interesting and surprisingly guilty-pleasure esque. It ends basically prematurely, making me wonder when the eff the build-up is going to happen?! It never happens, which is sad, but I’ll deal. Whatever though, this LP is one of my favorites of all time.

Grade: A+ (98)

Classic CD Review: Up the Bracket

Looks eerily similar to a scene in one "Bad Kids" music vid!

Band: Libertines
Label: Rough Trade
Release: 2002

1. “Vertigo” – A-
2. “Death on the Stairs” – A
3. “Horrorshow” – A-
4. “Time For Heroes” – A+
5. “Boys in the Band” – A+
6. “Radio America” – A-
7. “Up the Bracket” – A+
8. “Tell the King” – A+
9. “The Boy Looked At Johnny” – A+
10. “Begging” – A-
11. “The Good Old Days” – A+
12. “I Get Along” – A+

Comments: A much more polished album than The Libertines, this is , too, a more straight forward, cut-the-shit kind of release. Like the harmonies in “Boys in the Band” are priceless (unless you actually bought this album). I enjoy the bloody humor in a song like “The Boy,” you know what I mean? By the way, “The Good Old Days” is slowing developing into one of my favorite Libertines tunes.

Grade: A (94)

Classic CD Reviews: KK + His Shrines

Title:  Three Hairs And You’re Mine
Release: 2001
Label: Voodoo Rhythm

1. “Three Hairs and You’re  Mine” – A
2. “Kukamonga Boogaloo” – A
3. “Don’t Walk Away Mad” – A
4. “Fool Like Me” – A+
5. “Saba Lou” – A
6. “King of the Jungle” – A+
7. “Live Fast Die Strong” – A+
8. “Que Lindo Sueno” – A
9. “Tell Me” – A
10. “Cracking Up” – A+
11. “The Mashed Potato Itch” – A+
12. “Shivers Down My Spine” – A

Comments: This is a sneak peek into what the Supreme Genius was up to when the Shrines was just an infantile big band. At least on record, these guys sound like a seasoned band, not a two year old independent outfit on a no-name label. The energy is off the chart, which is to be expected from Khan. At the time of this release he was just in his early twenties; pretty quickly after performing in a prolifically “frenetic” Canadian punk outfit called Spaceshits. On this record, Khan adds a mere teaspoon of garage punk to a clan of foreign soul/blues obsessed foreigners. This album consists of a number of tracks that later appeared on the Vice Records released greatest hits collection: most of  “Side B” and “Fool Like Me,” a poised love song ditty. “Saba Lou” is interesting. That’s because Khan has a daughter named “Saba Lou,” but was she even in born at the time of recording? I wouldn’t necessarily call this release a thing of absolute beauty (it’s close), but it’s definitely typical Shrines. Rock ‘n soul. You’ll be smiling for days after listening to this. It does serve as a decent confidence booster and a slight euphoric enhancer.

Grade: A (95)

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Title: Mr. Supernatural
Release: 2004
Label: Hazelwood Records

1. “On The Street Where I Live” – B+
2. “Mr. Supernatural” – B+
3. “Destroyer” – A-
4. “On A Brass Bed (In Paradise) – B+
5. “Pickin’ Up The Trash” – A-
6. “Stone Soup” – B+
7. “Lovesick” – B+
8. “Train No 8” – B
9. “Chatter” – N/A
10. “I Don’t Have To Tell You”  – A-
11. “Shattered” – B-
12. “Burnin’ Inside” – A+

Comments: Initially, this record is a bit of a forced effort it seems. It seems like the band’s crazy experimental factor has been reduced and the music has returned more to its roots. It’s still fun, don’t get me wrong. Even a “great hit” like “Destroyer” is a lackluster (compared to other magnificent songs) until the groovy as heck interlude “GOOD BAD UGLY…DESTROYER!” So in this respect, it’s noticeably weaker (but chiller, if that’s your thing) than probably every other KK + Shrines released. The innate catchiness just isn’t there. It’s more like a soul aficionados’ wet dream.

Final Grade: B+ (88)

Classic CD Review: Hind Hind Legs

Band: Lovely Feathers
Label: Equator
Release: 2006

1. “Pope John Paul” – A+
2. “In the Valley” – A+
3.  “I Really Like You” – A
4. “Frantic” – A+
5. “Wrong Choice” – A+
6. “Mildly Decorated” – A+
7. “Photocorners” – A+
8. “The Only Appalachian” – A
9. “Ooh You Shocked Me” – A
10. “E Man Sorrow” – A+
11. “Rod Stewart” – A++
12.  “Breakfast Cake” – A+
13. “Lion Eats The Wildebeest” – A+

Comments: Talk about a fun album! Lovely Feathers are overflowing with energy and power-pop charisma. It’s sort of synth-pop meets straight up garage-pop. A fun combination! Although it looks like I am worshiping this album or what have you, I am not. It’s damn good, though. If I was doing a normal review for this, it’d probably end up as a best album of the year candidate, not to mention one of the best albums of the decade. There is nothing epic about this one. What you hear is what you get. Fast, quirky, pseudo-dance numbers. “Rod Stewart” sort of exemplifies the spirit of this album. Heavy and catchy. Unfortunately, haters might decline to take this album seriously. That’s unfortunate for them, because sometimes sappy is much needed in music. Most of the tracks on here are multi-layered. So inevitably some parts are catchier and better than others. But I tell you that the catchy parts are really really really catchy.

Final Grade: 96 (A)

3 Days Until Arctic Monkeys

Notice how drummer Matt Helders looks like Chris' brother Justin

Here are two classic reviews of, coincidentally, Arctic Monkeys’ first two albums:

Favourite Worst Nightmare
1. “Brianstorm” – (A) – Heavy rocker in all aspects, most noticeably drums and lead guitar.
2. “Teddy Picker” – (B) – Alex’s great voice kind of gets lost in distortion.
3. “D Is For Dangerous” – (A-) – A catchy riff, simple as that.
4. “Balaclava” – (A) – I can’t believe I’ve always overlooked this song. It’s awesome!
5. “Fluorescent Adolescent” – (A+) – Might just be the best they have to offer. Great ending harmonization.
6. “Only Ones Who Knew” – (B+) – It’s like you expect a huge build-up, but don’t get it. Still good, though.
7. “Do Me A Favour” – (A-) – Kickass heavy ending!
8. “This House Is A Circus” – (A) – You see the correlation yet? Loud, noisy distortion = awesome for AM.
9. “If You Were There, Beware” – (B+) – Cool rhythm, but not ultra exciting…well, the last minute or two is!
10. “The Bad Thing” – (A) – Just a good one!
11. “Old Yellow Bricks” – (A) – My favorite part is the beginning.
12. “505” – (A) – Makes sense that they usually close out sets with this one.
Final Grade: 93

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
1. “When The Sun Goes Down” – (A+) – An instant classic! “Said he’s a scumbag, don’t ya know!”
2. “The View From The Afternoon” – (A) – High energy goodness.
3. “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” – (A+) – Nothing needs to be said.
4. “Fake Tales of San Francisco” – (A) – I think it’s the bass line that makes this song!
5. “Dancing Shoes” – (A+) – Exquisite replication of tapping.
6. “You Probably Couldn’t See…” – (A) – Really really really really catchy. Features drummer vocals.
7. “Still Take You Home” – (A+) – Crisp all the way through.
8. “Riot Van” – (A) – Somebody on KLYAM’s favorite AM song. Soft, but meaningful throughout.
9. “Red Light Indicates…” – (A) – Very Humbug-esque.
10. “Mardy Bum” – (A) – Awesome.
11. “Perhaps Vampires…” – (A) – Like so many other songs.
12. “From The Ritz to the Rubble” – (A+) – I dig the spoken-word deal. Definitely one of their best.
13. “A Certain Romance” – (A+) – Great great great great way to end things.
Final Grade: 97

Classic CD Review: The VU & Nico

Title: The Velvet Underground & Nico
Band: Velvet Underground
Release: 1967
Label: Verve

1. “Sunday Morning” – A+
2. “I’m Waiting For The Man” – A-
3. “Femme Fatale” – A+
4. “Venus In Furs” – A+
5. “Run Run Run” – A
6. “All Tomorrow’s Parties” – A
7. “Heroin” – A+
8. “There She Goes Again” – A+
9. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” – A-
10. “The Black Angel’s Death Song” – A-
11. “European Son” – B

Comments: What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? Well, “I’m Waiting For The Man” is kind of lackluster compared to the crackly, but excellent 1969 Live version. A change-up comes with the noise classic “Run Run Run,” which has to have had a tremendous influence on many bands. I liken 3:37-on to Black Lips’ “Juvenile” with in terms of vocal structure and quick guitar progressions. “ATP” is an experimental-pop follow-up. It’s an awesome tune, no doubt, but not amongst the greatest on here. I like the noisy doo-wop of “There She Goes Again.” It’s fun. I’m not so impressed by the last three songs, but that’s okay.

Grade: A

Classic CD Review: Safe As Milk

Band: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Label: Buddah Records
Release: 1967

1. “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do” – B+
2. “Zig Zag Wanderer” – B+
3. “Call On Me” – B+
4. “Dropout Boogie” – A-
5. “I’m Glad” – A-
6. “Electricity” – B
7. “Yellow Brick Road” – B+
8. “Abba Zaba” – B
9. “Plastic Factory” – A
10. “Where There’s A Woman” – B
11. “Grown So Ugly” – B+
12. “Autumn’s Child” – B+

Comments: This is a very encouraging album for me. It’s an exciting listen (as is most music from the 1960s), although I won’t go as far as to designate it as one of the best “classics” that I’ve heard. I wouldn’t say a lot of modern day garage/punk/psychedelic bands are necessarily derivative of Captain Beefheart, but influenced for sure. The best way I can describe this record is: saner than Bloodshot Bill. I guess my own real gripe is that most of these songs feel too archaic; this may be where the delta blues references are validated. My comments may be a bit skewed: most of the bands that I love play music that has several grand-daddies in a plethora of genres and styles. These guys, on the other-hand, could only draw upon a few primitive fathers such as the blues and early rock. I can’t wait to hear Trout Mask Replica, their magnum opus.

Grade: B+