1998, Music

Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998) by Nile

One of the things that I worry about with Death Metal (or Black Metal, for that matter) is that I am going to be confronted by 35-60 minutes of the same style of music and that doesn’t really float my boat. I just don’t want to listen to so many tracks where the style of …

1998, Music

Before These Crowded Streets (1998) by Dave Matthews Band

I have always been the kind of person to go left when everyone else was going right, when it comes to cultural things. If a song is everywhere, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t like it. If a movie is getting celebrated a little too much, I want to not like it. What does this …

1998, Music

Music Has the Right to Children (1998) by Boards of Canada

I don’t listen to a ton of electronic music but I do listen to some, especially more recently, with my podcast about album anniversaries, with lost of major electronic music album anniversaries arising. So I do find it hard at times to put electronic music in context, though I think I’m getting better at it.

1993, Music

www.pitchshifter.com (1998)

I do not know anywhere near enough about ’90s industrial or the British electronica scene to have any real idea of the context this record was made in but I can tell you it sounds insanely ’90s. Imagine a more political, perhaps slightly less articulate Nine Inch Nails, mixed with The Prodigy and maybe you …

1993, Music

The Full-Custom Gospel Sounds of The Reverend Horton Heat (1993)

I understand the appeal of this music: it’s loud, raucous, fun, manic, and it’s well-played. The Full-Custom Gospel Sounds (no gospel included…) manages to bridge the past and future together, like other psychobilly, combining punk with more traditional rock and roll. There’s definitely more of an alternative rock vibe here than the punk vibe with ’80s …

1993, Music

Today’s Active Lifestyles (1993) by Polvo

Imagine if Sonic Youth played Pavement-style indie rock (albeit longer songs), but more of a post-hardcore version of Pavement without their idiosyncrasies, you may get some vague idea of what Polvo sounds like. RYM lists them as a Math Rock band and frankly that mystifies me, even in the context of the early 1990s, but …

2011, Movies

Cafe de Flore (2011, Jean-Marc Vallee

This is one of those maddening movies that eschew conventional narratives but lack the visuals, editing or other techniques to make the lack of story compelling. That’s not to say there isn’t a narrative here – there are two – but it’s fractured to bits and the hooks the audience are given are character development …

2008, Movies, Music

Cadillac Records (2008, Darnell Martin)

From the opening scenes of this docudrama about history of Chess Records, things feel a little off. The attempt to balance the stories of Leonard Chess and Muddy Waters feels a little wonky and the pacing definitely seems off. A man just walks up to Muddy in a field and says he’s Alan Lomax and …

1988, Music

Life’s Too Good (1988) by The Sugarcubes

For Bjork fans coming to this after listing to her solo career, this album feels like a bit of glimpse into Bjork in utero: her voice is already fully formed and distinct but much of the other stuff that make Bjork Bjork seems missing or replaced by a rock band which sometimes has a male …

1988, Music

History of a Time to Come (1988) by Sabbat

I am, on some level, a sucker for thrash. Yes, this was released in 1988. Yes, it is heavily influenced by the major American thrash bands. No, there isn’t the kind of genre-creating and genre-defining additions to trash that other late ’80s bands were able to create, on this particular record. I don’t care. Its’ …

1988, Music

Tracy Chapman (1988)

Chapman’s self-titled album is the introduction of a strong new, one might even say necessary, voice. She offers what was likely a very unique perspective in late 1980s, that of a folk-singing African American woman. Excuse my ignorance but I’m not sure there was much precedent for her, even by 1988. (When I say folk, …

1988, Music

Viva Hate (1988) by Morrissey

One of my reasons for my antipathy towards Morrissey (and the Smiths) is the music, and I must say the music here is much artier and weirder than I was expecting. (I think we can thank Vini Reilly for that. He’s a musically interesting guy in ways that Street and Morrissey normally are not.)

1978, Music

Grease Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1978)

When I was young, I absolutely hated nostalgia. I saw it as the enemy of creativity. Time, and particularly age, has softened that approach; I now understand nostalgia and even sometimes like it despite myself. But the thing is, when I do like nostalgia, it’s nostalgia for something I experienced. So I can understand why …

1973, Music

Parcel of Rogues (1973) by Steeleye Span

This is the first Steeleye Span record I’ve ever heard, after hearing about them for years and years. As with any band like that, my impressions were fixed without ever having listened to this, so on first listen I didn’t know what to do with it.

1973, Music

Diamond Girl (1973) by Seals and Crofts

I am fascinated, on some level, by bands that want to combine “soft rock” and pop with roots music because fundamentally they are two very different things. The whole point of roots music was to return to the pre-rock professionalism, which necessarily embraces the rough edges. But the essence of soft rock, and much if …

1973, Music

Catch a Fire [Jamaican Version] (1973) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

I generally rag on Marley for his lyrics. I find most reggae lyricist to be not that great, but I find Marley in particular to have been over-hyped. Once you listen to Peter Tosh (who only wrote two of the songs here) it’s hard to take Marley this seriously as a lyricist. So I thought. …