Posts Tagged ‘Classic’

Surprise, a list! Who doesn’t love to list things they love and present them to the public? I’m sure the good people on Facebook land and beyond have seen the “10 Best Stuffs to Stuff” list, the “Top 5 Best Stuffs” and so on. So allow me introduce you to my pretentious little exhibition. Below are 4 albums I enjoy listening to from jump to splat. Yes you read that right, only 4…because fuck lists in which the total number of items are divisible by 5 and/or 10. Also, don’t try to look for a pattern here. This list is in no particular order, and has very little rhyme or reason attached to it.

Ihsahn's 'After' was released January 26th, 2010 via Candlelight Records Genre: Progressive Black Metal

Ihsahn’s ‘After” was released January 26th, 2010 via Candlelight Records
Genre: Progressive Black Metal

First off is After by Ihsahn. If you’re a Black Metal enthusiast, you know this name and the gr1m fr0stbitten cache of epicness that accompanies it and you can skip the next sentence. Ihsahn, as the front man for Black Metal band Emperor, helped pioneer the genre and shape it throughout its satanic birth and infancy. This album was the thematic end to a conceptual trilogy that began with ‘Adversary’ and ‘angL’. After is big sonically, and what I mean by that is that there is a lot of space that you can just feel at times. Sure, Jens Bogren (Mix/Mastering Engineer) added weight where previous album ‘angl’ lacked it, but combined with Ihsahn’s superb riffing and “guitar orchestration”, combined with his knack for always writing the quintessential ‘complete song’, no track on this album is a skipper. As far as I’m concerned it can go down as one as the best metal albums of all time, and can easily top multiple albums across a multitude of extreme metal sub-genres.

Enya's 'A Day Without Rain' was released November 21st, 2000 via Reprise. Genre: New Age

Enya’s ‘A Day Without Rain’ was released November 21st, 2000 via Reprise.
Genre: New Age

Next up is A Day Without Rain by Enya. No, let me stop you here, Sail Away, Sail Away is not on this album, and it isn’t even the actual name of the song. This album is magnificent as that song was. If you are not into New Age music, you may not know what I’m babbling on about…pfft, there aren’t even any guitars on this record, or breakdowns for that matter. Good point, believe me, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Enya had put together an almost flawless body of work again. In the United States along ADWR went 7x platinum, that’s 7,000,000 copies! It helps that ‘Only Time’ was played repeatedly in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Enya effortlessly navigates chord progressions that were arranged seemingly with a patented technique that dates back to the 1980’s. Enya’s works have garnered international praise and accolades, to which I say…no shit.

Daylight Dies' 'Dismantling Devotion' was released March 7th, 2006 via Candlelight Records Genre: Doom Metal

Daylight Dies’ ‘Dismantling Devotion’ was released March 7th, 2006 via Candlelight Records
Genre: Doom Metal

Replace the stringed instruments with guitars, 80% of the singing with guttural death growls, make the lyrical themes darker and you get Daylight Dies’ 2006 effort ‘Dismantling Devotion. No, I did not mean Killswitch Engage, I mean the North Carolina Doom Metal group Daylight Dies. From top to bottom, there is enough meat here to feed every starving organism on the planet. Hyperbole aside, for a sophomore effort DD took no prisoners with these songs. There is emotion, intensity, and aggression within each song. The melodic content from song to song is rich and ripe with purpose behind the brutal death metal vocals of front man Nathan Ellis. I first ran into this band listening to a My Dying Bride station on Last FM. This band’s strength lays in their composition. Once you get past the slower pace inherent in the Doom Metal genre, you will be able to appreciate this record.

Doomtree independently  released this self titled album July 29th, 2008 Genre: Hip Hop

Doomtree independently released this self titled album July 29th, 2008
Genre: Hip Hop

Last, but surely not least, Doomtree’s self titled effort from 2008, Doomtree. I know what you were thinking, but this is not a metal band…sorry. Doomtree is a hip-hop group from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before you go and dismiss these guys, give this album a listen…and I mean really listen. From top to bottom this album, features thought provoking, and introspective lyrics that come across as genuine as all hell. The instrumentals are raw, and gritty but create a 90’s feel that suites Doomtree’s aura. The rappers that make up this group pride themselves on their individuality, and this group of songs captures that thought process completely.

'The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener' was released independently September 10th, 2013.

‘The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener’ was released independently September 10th, 2013.

Elitists would probably agree that they just don’t make music like they used to, especially in the Progressive Rock arena. Some would say that today’s prog elite is more in to showing off their skill as opposed to using their skill to make good music. Long gone are the days when music possessed the intimacy, the humility, and the raw genuine passion for making music inspired by something else. Fret not; Sigmund Blue is here to fill in the void, no DeLorean required.

Sigmund began as a project between two members but took to full band status with the addition of another member in 1999. Each member recorded their parts separately as the three live in different regions of the United States. Un-phased by such unfortunate circumstances, the trio presented The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener (Eight Deaths) in September of 2013. Eight Deaths is a 1970’s inspired concept album that chronicles the many trials and tribulations encountered by protagonist Delphinium Gardener.

The album opens in spectacular fashion with ‘Overture’, a piano friendly introduction with remarkably familiar melodic trappings. Immediately the goal of the album becomes clear with this “curtains up” instrumental. It is as much of a proclamation of arrival as it is a solid introduction. The melodies that dance throughout the latter stages of the track serve as a perfect lead-in to the track that succeeds it, Charcuterie of Babylon. From then on, Eight Deaths stays the course with a chill-out easy going vibe that serves to put the listener in a state where focusing on the story becomes a natural reflex.

Eight Deaths shakes things up with ‘Can’t Stay’, presenting the first deviation from what the album had previously established as a norm. This is by no means a bad mark on the report card, as the band does well transitioning be a more rock based feel to a song that contains more bounce and pop. After that diversion, the album returns to business as usual until ‘Go Now’. This track is by far the emotional powerhouse of the album. The vocals carry the weight of the songs part in the story with incredible ease and packs enough power to move the listener to tears.

From that point out the journey is much more rocky but the sonic cohesiveness heard earlier in the album remains consistent. The exiting tracks at this point of the album serve as a build up to a climax that sees a rather calm and soothing end melodically. ‘Pod’s Lament’ serves as evidence of this with gusto as there is a stark ramp up in energy. This track sees the band shed the prog rock element for an all out balls to the wall sprint to the finish. It makes the transition to the aptly named album closer ‘Epilogue’ all the more interesting.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The biggest hurdle for this album to overcome, aside from some slightly creepy dialogue in ‘The Meeting’, is the time investment. At 18 tracks and just over an hour and five minutes, there may not be enough meat for the average listener to chew on. Big moments tend to fall flat due to the context of the era that influences the production, but if appreciated properly within said context, it makes for an even bigger set of musical events. Eight Deaths is far out in a good way and all in all, the entire album achieved what it set out to do. Fans of Queen and the Beatles may have something to latch on to here.

Album Picks: Here It Is, Can’t Stay, Go Now, Carbon Copy
Album Skips: The Meeting

Rating: 4 out of 5

Franz Ferdinand's 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action' was released August 26th, 2013 via Domino Records.

Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ was released August 26th, 2013 via Domino Records.

Wasn’t 2013 about time for a visit from some friends across the pond? If you answered yes, then you’re right (pun intended)! It’s been about a decade since these guys asked us to take them out, but Franz Ferdinand is back in the swing of things with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (RTRWRA). The quartet from Glasgow waited 4 years since their last offering taking a low profile approach for this release. A lot has changed from the last time we heard from them but despite that, they seem to have rolled right along un-phased.

Right off the bat (pun intended) Franz sets the tone with the title track ‘Right Action’…or do they? Franz is undoubtedly known for their easy going positive vibe and this album has plenty of the feel good stuff, but ‘Evil Eye’ is far from that. Well maybe not that far, these blokes don’t do ‘scary’ very well, even the video almost missed the mark. To be honest, it was just creepy, but let’s digress. The album from then on does not contain anything particularly note worthy in regards to substance. No one song really sticks as you move from track to track, but they do well when taken in context of album as a whole.

Style is what this album does right (pun intended). From top to bottom Franz carries the indie genre well sonically and stylistically. From start to finish the album feels organic and intimate. Album closer ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’ is the only track that has the potential to wow listeners (with a proclamation of hating pop music) however. Aside from that, the entire album seems as if the band made a conscious decision to play it safe. After waiting 4 years for a release an apparent lack of effort is what one can gleam from that.

Be that as it may, Franz enjoys a fanbase that possesses eclectic taste and forgiving musical appetites. A stylistically strong album will be enough to satiate current fans. The band is easy to listen to altogether so fans of indie rock in general will find ‘RTRWRA’ easy to flock to and rally around. If you’re looking for something to blow you away however, this isn’t the right place (pun intended) for you to begin.

Rating: 3.75/5
Album Picks: Evil Eye, Standing On The Horizon, Brief Encounters
Album Skips: None

Ryan says: The entire album is available on Spotify where they’ve released an exclusive live album from Avatar Studios!

studio
Everyone loves a great performance by his or her favorite artists; no really, it is true! Hundreds of thousands rush to Ozzfest, Warped Tour, and the like to see their bands tear it up each year, and each year the talent is up to par, or least they are supposed to be. Standing in a sea of people all day waiting for the headliner can become quite a chore when you have to endure horrible support bands…and if the headliners let you down, you would be ready to flip a table. Not all musicians have the stage chops to carry a crowd through a set. However, their god awful on stage performance should not leave you to with the thought that they are god awful musicians overall…wait, let me finish Kanye.

Events like American R&B diva Beyonce’s lip-syncing the American National Anthem and last month’s air guitar scandal at Super Bowl XLVIII leave many with a salty taste in their mouths concerning musical performances. Cynics across the interweb’s social sphere drew the conclusion that the days of live pop performances are over. Fans found themselves doubting the ability of their favorite artists, and others merely chalked it up to the decline of talent in the modern day music industry. Oh ye of little faith. Fret not; you can still enjoy great performances while cherishing the talent behind what you see.

Rock out...hard!

Rock out…hard!

A typical musical act’s purpose is to present a combination of musicianship and showmanship that is as infectious, magnetic, and powerful as possible. In a controlled environment like the studio, focusing such raw unrestricted energy can prove to be a challenge. Modern day tricks like ‘elastic audio’ can fix stray grooves, and auto-tune rules the modern day recording vocalist music, but nothing beats a solid take or two. Reduced labor, computer processing, and the amount of coffee needed for endless nights of editing are benefits of having “one take Jakes” in the studio. Nevertheless, a hybrid will get the job done, and earn a healthier living than the other two one trick ponies.

Read more at: Underground Press

 

Paul Mawhinney is the owner of the world’s largest collection of records. During his years as a traveling paper salesman he amassed approximately 60 thousand records. When purchasing his first house his wife proposed an ultimatum. Either get rid of them -or- open a record store. “You should call it Record-Rama”, she suggested. He did open that store and made it a policy to never sell the last copy of anything making it truly an “archive” of music. Sadly, in February 2008 he was forced to shut the doors to the store but would not let go of the records.

Today, his collection, accurately being hailed as “The Archive”, consists of over 1 million albums and 1.5 million singles.  The estimated worth of the collection is about $50 million. Mawhinney has been trying to find a single seller for the archive for the last decade, but to no avail. His asking price is now painfully, abysmally, at $3 million.

The historic significance alone puts the value of Paul’s Archive upwards of… priceless. The Library of Congress determined that 83% of the collection consists of recordings that are not available to the public. Albums that were never commercially produced or never intended for release. Albums, that if lost, will never exist again. Shown with a mint condition Rolling Stones release. It is truly a heartbreaking thought that these records may have no home one day. It will be a terrible day for the world. What’s worse is that most people will never know the gravity of the loss.

Being the devout music lover that I am I would love to be able to own or even just browse through this collection for days.  Listening to them all would take me more than me, my children’s, and their children’s lifetimes but would be able to be shared through the next five generations and but would still be worth more than it’s weight in history books.

Paul had this to say about the status of the recording industry:

“What really makes me want to save this collection, is the world is dead out there. They have their ears closed. They don’t understand what’s going on at this moment. And it’s going to take them 10, 15, 20 years to wake up and realize what they’ve missed… There’s no comparison for what they’re selling as music these days.” -Paul Mawhinney

He goes on to make a point about how the age of digitization has depreciated the quality of the sound of recordings, mainly pointing at MP3’s, which are notoriously compressed to fit more neatly on iPods and iPhones rather than having better sounding music with more space and better dynamics. Which, if you ask any true audiophile is one of our biggest complaints. So much time, work, and money is poured into albums it is a downright shame to compress them and deplete the value of the recording itself.

Now struggling with complications related to diabetes and now legally blind, he is struggling further to find someone who can care for the collection that is really truly worth being featured in a museum. Or made into a museum itself.

Towards the end of the video Paul gets choked up while listening to the John Mile’s song titled: Music, released in 1976. It’s a fitting outro to this man’s legacy and the archive. Yet an immensely sad ending for both. Both conclusions will appear grim until some deep pocketed music lover or a museum picks up these historic art pieces and stores them for future generations to experience and learn from.

A perfect song for this beautiful day we’re having. Relaxing in the sun beams, smelling the pre-autumn air, enveloped by Robert Fripp’s swooning voice. Bliss people. Bliss.

“Matte Kudasi” means “please wait” in Japanese which sounds to me like a plea to the end of this summer. Please wait.

King Crimson released Discipline in 1981. This was the first album to feature one of my favorite bassists, the wildly prolific Tony Levin. The album also contains the tune, “Elephant Talk”, which was the first to feature Levin jamming on his famed Chapman stick.

King Crimson has gone through many line-up changes but has always featured Mr. Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford. Adrian Belew, a member of Frank Zappa’s band joined with Levin on Discipline and became a permanent member of the rotation.  The band has always been a beautiful combination of genres and easily one of the most quintessential addition to any prog fans’ collection. I know I have.

Enjoy the atmosphere of this song and be sure to check out all of King Crimson’s collection. Despite being infamously absent from Spotify’s library, their music is available on Amazon and many songs and live performances are ready to hear on Youtube.