Your Arsenal (1992) by Morrissey

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I hate Morrissey, both personally, as I find him an objectionable human being and cannot understand why anyone would find him charming, and musically, as I find The Smiths really underwhelming and Morrissey’s solo music (that I’ve heard) to be hilariously middlebrow for someone so full of attitude. Morrissey talks a lot about a certain type of music and then makes music very different from that. He basically doesn’t walk his own talk. And his music is boring. Read More

Glee (1997) by Bran Van 3000

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I love genre-bending. A number of my most favourite bands are bands that can play a wide variety of genres well, and make these genres sound like their own (or, alternatively, convince you they are an entirely different band). So I should like this. I should like this even though it is based in music I don’t personally love (electronic, hip hop). Read More

Honey’s Dead (1992) by The Jesus and Mary Chain

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I should never read anything before I listen to a record, especially a record by a band I don’t love. I heard why they called it Honey’s Dead and suddenly my head was filled of dreams of reinvention. But no, it’s still very obviously The Jesus and Mary Chain. Only this time they’ve gone Madchester (I think). Read More

Going Blank Again (1992) by Ride

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I thought I was getting shoegaze, and I do.. But there’s a lot of other stuff going on here that isn’t strict shoegaze. One of the things that I don’t love about some shoegaze is the relentless commitment to one particular style. But there’s enough variety here that I’m kept interested. Also, the songs are pretty good so it’s not just the wall of sound that is appealing. 7/10 Read More

Generation Terrorists (1992) by Manic Street Preachers

Categories: 1992 and Music.

What do we do with a record like this? It’s called Generation Terrorists but sounds like it was produced by Mutt Lange or Bob Rock or someone like that. (Well, the production is maybe not that bad.) We have the bizarre amalgam of 80s hard rock (or “cock rock” as some call it) with extremely political lyrics that belong in punk songs. Is the idea to make super accessible and conventional music but to sneak in the lyrics so that young, impressionable youth are converted? I mean, if that’s the goal here, I’m not sure how much it succeeds. How Read More

We Became Snakes (1986) by Saccharine Trust

Categories: 1986 and Music.

A lot has been made of the latent jazz influences on hardcore and post hardcore bands – Black Falg is supposed to have listened to Free Jazz for example. But never was I expecting a hardcore band to make music you might actually confuse with jazz. There are times on this bizarre, crazy record that you could possibly mistake these guys for one of the “Downtown” NYC jazz combos trying to incorporate punk and metal into their music in the 80s. But then, the lyrics come back, and you are reminded that this is indeed rock music. This is a Read More

Trompe Le Monde (1991) by Pixies

Categories: 1991 and Music.

With hindsight this feels like a step between the earlier Pixies records and Frank Black’s solo career, which would make sense. To me, though, it suffers in that sense, lacking the strongest songs of either earlier Pixies records or Black’s early solo albums, but produced almost if it was one of his solo records. That’s not to say I dislike it – it’s still the Pixies doing what they do best pretty well. I just feel like it’s their weakest record and it very much feels like a transitional one for their main songwriter. 7/10 Read More

Raise (1991) by Swervedriver

Categories: 1991 and Music.

This is a strong shoegaze set with roots a little more on the rock side of things (there’s a CCR riff in the opening track…) than what I’m used to, and I must say that endears this to me more than the more famous shoegaze bands I’ve heard previously. There’s still the sort of laconic thing vocal thing that irks me when I don’t love the music, but enjoying the music more than other shoegaze helps. It’s interesting; they straddle this line between shogegaze and more American alternative that I never really imagined. 7/10 Read More

Pretty on the Inside (1991) by Hole

Categories: 1991 and Music.

This is a noisy, abrasive set of songs which manages to be significantly more noisy than most of the other grunge bands of the era, at least on record.. That feels like even more of an accomplishment given the expectations around a female-fronted band at the time. I can’t say that I love the songs all that much, but I appreciate the seeming unwillingness to compromise (which seems to have been revealed as something very different through interviews). Pretty great stuff. 8/10 Read More

Sublime (1996)

Categories: 1996 and Music.

Sublime is frat boy rock: just musical and lyrical sophistication to appear like it is interesting music, but with enough sex and drugs and reggae to appeal the young man that is not yet been turned into a proper adult. The melodies are strong and the fusion of reggae, hip hop, alternative rock is relatively unique (and is accomplished, absolutely). But the lyrics lose their appeal once you pass 25 or so (or, you know, if you’re a woman) and go through being kind of amusing and seemingly clever to problematic. And the record as a whole just isn’t that Read More

Sebadoh III (1991)

Categories: 1991 and Music.

Without having heard the two previous albums, and not being familiar enough with the evolution of home recordings in the ’80s, I still feel confident in saying that I think this album is a pretty big deal; it’s influence on 90s indie rock, indie folk and the lo-fi movement in general is rather immense. Along with early Pavement, this feels like the blueprint for so much American indie rock in the 90s well into this century. There are two problems for me that keep it from being an absolute classic: The first is the sheer length of this record. Like Read More

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (1991) by Mudhoney

Categories: 1991 and Music.

This is a strong, particularly grungy grunge record, with a bit more of a roots feel than some of the other grunge records from the period. I really like the aesthetic – especially because it is a little more musically diverse than I was expecting – but I find the songs not quite up to par compared to some of the other major grunge bands. (For example, Ten has way better songs but has dated horribly compared to this record.) Maybe I’ll come to like the songs more in time, but I still like the record a lot and I Read More

Trouble at the Henhouse (1996) by The Tragically Hip

Categories: 1996 and Music.

I’m pretty sure this was the Hip’s biggest album. It has a couple of their bigger hits on it – including “Ahead by a Century” which, if not their biggest hit, never seemed to leave Canadian radio in 1996. But I get a strong sense of deja vu from this record, particularly from “Gift Shop” which reminds me of another Hip song so damn much (I just can’t quite place it right now). I like some of their records from the first part of the decade and I’m not sure that this one really improved on any of them. It Read More

Everything Must Go (1996) by Manic Street Preachers

Categories: 1996 and Music.

This is my first experience of The Manics, beyond one single (“If You Tolerate This than Your Children Will Be Next,” which I have a compilation). As I’ve noted more times than I can count, the problem with hype is that is elevates your expectations to heights where they will never be satisfied. This is a well made Britpop record with well-above-average lyrics. But one of the best albums of all time? Really? I want my “great” records to do more than just make me happy. For me, greatness is as much measured in influence and staying power (“transcendence” as Read More

Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991) by Primus

Categories: 1991 and Music.

Les Claypool is probably the closest rock music has ever come to a “Jimi Hendrix of the bass,” but he will forever be underknown because of his desire to play in his own band and follow his own whims. And those whims are…weird. As others have noted, this is Funk Metal meets Frank Zappa (and other art rock). There are numerous things that might put you off: Claypool’s voice, the sense of humour, the unwillingness to make anything resembling earnest, straightforward rock music (and yet, somehow, this album spawned two minor hit singles…). But these things are actually virtues if Read More

Nothing’s Shocking (1988) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1988 and Music.

Unlike the follow up, I really like this one. The production’s better, even if the song’s aren’t. (Everything’s a little more raw and unhinged.) Whether you think of this as hard rock or some kind of metal, there was nothing really like this being made in the late ’80s; funkier and way weirder than the Gunners but way louder and cooler than any other mainstream hard rock band at the time (that I’m aware of). I can hear a lot of ’90s rock in this record. And though a number of bands may have done this better, it sure sounds Read More

Bob Mould aka Hubcap (1996)

Categories: 1996 and Music.

This is a reasonably strong set of songs by Mould, occasionally supported by the kind of attitude towards noise that Husker Du used so well at their peak. But the the diversity that made Husker Du great isn’t really present, nor is the contrast between their two songwriters. It’s like listening to half the band, really. That’s not terrible, but it’s not amazing either. It’s a solid little record, but that’s all. 7/10 Read More

Temple of the Dog (1991)

Categories: 1991 and Music.

I have generally liked Cornell’s songs more than not and he has a good voice. But there’s an earnestness (for lack of a better word) to his music that can be unappealing. He can, at times, sound like he should have been belting out classic rock songs instead of grunge. When Soundgarden is around to hide his over-singing and to give a little more muscle to his songs, I have zero problem with Cornell. The problems emerge, for me, when he is backed by a softer band. For example, though I didn’t mind Audioslave’s first hit (am I the only Read More

The Reality of My Surroundings (1991) by Fishbone

Categories: 1991 and Music.

When I first heard Mr. Bungle, it sounded to me like it had come out of nowhere – this crazy amalgam of ska, metal video games, porn, crass humour and, as I would learn later, Frank Zappa. I was 19 (I think), and so it really, really appealed to me. Since then, I’ve realized that at least some of what Bungle was doing was not just indebted to Zappa, but was indebted heavily to some more comedy-oriented bands of the ’80s. But listening to Fishbone for the first time, it feels like the real influence on Bungle’s debut was Fishbone. Read More

Rope-a-Dope (1994)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

This murky, kind of lo-fi record at times reminds me of a lo-fi Eleven. But I feel like such a comparison is a real disservice to Antietam who are, to my ears, a far more varied and capable band than Eleven, even if the husband-wife things it an easy comparison. This is a band that’s a little too lo-fi to be considered mainstream “alternative.” And the range they show here makes me really regret my initial comparison to Eleven and how that’s sort of dominated my thinking about them. This is one of those solid indie rock records that features Read More

3-Way Tie (for Last) (1986) by Minutemen

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I have come to the Minutemen completely backwards. I have been a fIREHOSE fan for quite some time but am only now getting to the point of listening to these guys and of course I listen to their last album… Anyway, this is a set of rock songs (and song fragments) that varies from righteous anger about US politics to reflections on the nature of story-telling, with a bunch of covers (from literally all over the place). The music is pretty typical post-hardcore with the kind of silly, mild experimentation that makes so much American ’80s alternative music great. Though Read More

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) by Oasis

Categories: 1995 and Movies.

When I was 14, this album was relatively ubiquitous, but not to the extent of some other records I’ve listened to recently. I only know about 3 of the songs, I think. But those 3 songs never made me want to listen to Oasis. I never really had any desire. Other bands I ignored when I was a teenager had a great deal of appeal to me later (Pearl Jam in particular, but also Blind Melon, Blur, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and on and on…) but I have never heard an Oasis song and thought “wow, I really need to listen to Read More

Ritual de lo habitual (1990) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1990 and Music.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I finally got around to listening to this record, but it wasn’t this. That is sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing. But expectations always mess with our appreciation. Hopefully I can get through mine. First of all, I finally understand why Navarro is a guitar hero to a certain generation. I had never understood why before, but had rarely heard him play. Aside from Slash (who is, by the way, much better), I can’t think of another guitar player to embrace classic rock guitar like Navarro does here. That’s pretty Read More

The 2015 Wolfe Island Music Festival August 7-8, 2015

Categories: 2015 and Music.

The annual pilgrimage to WIMF got off to a bit of an uneven start but ended up being one of the better festivals I have attended over the last half decade or so. On Friday night, we arrived to catch the end of Daniel Romano’s rather sedate country set. Romano had been to WIMF a few years earlier, but I missed him. This time he was on the Main Stage. It was pleasant music but nothing that made me want to go out and by a record. Romano was followed by Elliott Brood, a band I saw 3(?) years ago, Read More