To say I dislike The Smiths would be an understatement. I don’t hate them so much as I hate the aura around them and this idea that they somehow saved British music from itself (and synthesizers! don’t forget the synthesizers), almost like a younger, hipper Bruce Springsteen (because Springsteen saved rock music from disco, don’t you know). Read More
Programmic music is often hard for, whether it’s some Romantic composer trying to conjure up a storm or a picnic, or someone trying to show me what a drug trip is like, I often find the concept unnecessary to my enjoyment of the music. Read More
I agree with the general consensus that Martin Gore is perhaps synthpop’s best songwriter. At least at this “mature” stage of the band’s career Depeche Mode sound most like the band willing to leave the confines of their genre to serve his songs. I find his lyrics to be, on average, significantly better than the average synthpop lyrics. And he has strong melodies – though Depche Mode are sort of positioned as the least commercial of synthpop bands, they have always had catchy songs. Read More
I love Bauhaus and, initially, I think I found it hard to get into these guys simply because they are not Bauhaus, which is unfair. It’s unfair because these guys are very much their own band, particularly with the wind instruments. (By the way, that flute solo is hilariously Ian Anderson, who I would have thought was super uncool in 1987.) Read More
Full disclosure: I don’t love synthpop and I don’t like most dance music, electronic or otherwise. So this was likely going to be a chore for me. Read More
My whole life I’ve sort of wondered why “Beds are Burning” was a hit (it topped our chart when I was 6). I never liked the song but I never listened to lyrics. Read More
The UK has a long, weird tradition of hilariously opinionated and antagonistic rock front men who bash other musicians and other people and then make wussy music; the Reids, Morrissey, the Gallaghers (I’m sure there are many more). That shouldn’t matter, really, but I find it harder to accept pop music (and poppier rock) on its on terms when the people make it are assholes and have massive chips on their shoulders which they want the world to know about. I mean, if you’re going to be a dick in the press, make punk music or metal or something fitting… Read More
1987, Contemporary R and B, Dance Pop, Funk, Music, Pop, Pop Rock, Pop Soul, and Synth Funk.
I grew up with “Fat” and have a hard time separating the real song, the title track of this record, from its parody. But I haven’t listened to “Fat” in so long. Listening to Bad for the first time (and to the remaster, no less), I can’t help but wonder, “does “Fat” sound this terrible too?” Read More
I have had a hard time finding this album online; Google Play doesn’t have a license for the early Def Leppard stuff (just their later, better stuff!!) and YouTube is missing a bunch of songs. So I probably shouldn’t review it. But I can and I will. Read More
Full disclosure: my favourite Grindcore band is Anal Cunt, because they are a joke. Grindcore has always struck me as a joke, or at least something easily turned into a joke, because of the brevity of the songs and the over-the-top nature of the music. But there are and have been tons of grindcore bands and lots of people like it. And I believe that there are no bad genres. So, there must be something to grindcore. Read More
People just love the Replacements and I have been trying for what feels like 10 years to love them. But I don’t. Read More
This is one of the most commercially successful albums of its era, so I guess that’s why I felt I had to listen to it. But if I learned one thing from this album, it’s that the things that I like about music and the things that most consumers like about music are not the same. (I knew that already, but this just heavily reinforces that.) Read More
Apparently there is some debate as to whether or not this is the first death metal album. I haven’t head the other contender myself, and cannot speak to that. I also don’t know mid 80s Thrash enough to speak to it. Also, I’m no genre purist, so I’m not sure I care for anything other than assessing this record as a historical document. Read More
This is a record with a couple of The Cure’s best singles and a few other decent songs and way too much other stuff. It’s crazy that Smith claims to have written another record worth of songs for this album. Isn’t it long enough already? Read More
Someone described this record as Prince’s White Album. This is only the second Prince album I’ve ever heard (I know, I know) but I still think that’s pretty apt. There’s a range of music here that is kind of incredible, especially given how much of the record he made himself. Read More
1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, Ambient, Ambient Techno, Compilation, Electronica, IDM, and Music.
I am familiar with electronic music up until a point – that point is somewhere in the very early 80s. I have no idea what happened between then and the music we have today (save for the odd track that gets played too much or turned into stadium music). Read More
I always thought I had watched this movie – more than once – but I watched it last night post-beer tasting and realized I had never seen it, just the music videos. Read More
This is a well-meaning satire of television news and where it was headed in the 1980s (i.e. where we are today with infotainment) that is hijacked by a love triangle, which prevents it from turning into the 80s Network, which is certainly could have been. Read More
Ives: Symphonies Nos 2 and 3; The Unanswered Question (1966) by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Berstein
1901, 1902, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1935, 1958, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1987, Modernism, Music, Orchestral Music, and Post Modernism.
This is a compilation of the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Berstein’s performances of the middle symphonies and The Unanswered Question, originally a piece paired with another but one that has found a lot of attention as a standalone. Bernstein was one of the great champions of Ives once he was “discovered,” but these performances are actually significantly later than the premieres, which were handled by other conductors in the ’40s. Apparently Bernstein made some somewhat radical changes to some of the tempi and these changes have entered the repertoire. That’s not something that necessarily bothers me, though I understand Read More
1987, Dub, Experimental Rock, Funk Metal, Instrumental Rock, Math Rock, Music, Noise Rock, Post Hardcore, and Thrash Metal.
First: one of the best band names ever. This record gets off to a pounding start. Essentially it’s instrumental thrash, so it seems, and you’d have to think that this is an absolutely key step in the development of math rock. I mean, it’s not far from Don Caballero. But there’s more variety than you’d imagine. The tracks in the middle are considerably more traditionally “hard rock” than metal (and there’s that funk metal track thrown in for good measure) and then, out of the blue, comes the dub. What the fuck? Seriously. Certainly one of the most bonkers instrumental Read More
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d: A Requiem for Those We Love by Paul Hindemith, performed by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Robert Shaw (et al.) (1987)
There is a tendency among us humans to celebrate things which in turn celebrate the things we think are important. I guess it’s only natural. This requiem is a Walt Whitman poem set to music for the death of Roosevelt. It’s conducted here by its commissioner so, in theory, this is how it’s supposed to sound. I appreciate the sentiments and I appreciate taste. Though I have never mourned a world leader – and cannot imagine doing so – I understand why many would mourn FDR. And I recognize the merit in commissioning music for his death, especially in commissioning Read More
This is an over-stylized but interesting attempt at reviving American Film Noir in a decade in which it could be presumed dead and it’s combined with an interesting genre-mashing twist. There are some obvious problems: For one, the accents are nonexistent. DeNiro doesn’t try a Cajun accent, neither does Bonet (and what’s with the flat female “love interests”?) and Rampling is the wrong kind of French (though at least she’s actually French). Another problem is the soundtrack, which starts out full of ‘80s cool jazz sax, completely fucking with the tone of the movie and momentarily confusing me about what Read More
Missa in Angustiis aka Nelson Mass (1987) by Margaret Marshall, Carolyn Watkinson, Keith Lewis, Robert Holl, Rundfnkchor Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Neville Mariner
This is widely considered to be the greatest of Haydn’s masses and, according to some people, the greatest of Haydn’s compositions. For reasons that escape me, I have (mostly) struggled with masses compared to other forms within the classical tradition. Masses always seem more dense to me, more impenetrable. (And this is someone who loves operas and many oratorios, so go figure.) And so find myself kind of now knowing what to do here. It’s far from the first 18th century mass I’ve heard – though it’s probably the only one outside of Bach’s masses, if I hazard a guess Read More
1987, Alternative Rock, Hardcore Punk, Industrial Rock, Music, Noise Rock, and Post Hardcore.
What probably sounded unbelievably loud (not to mention offensive) has mellowed considerably nearly thirty years later. So much of this record (or the oeuvre, perhaps) has integrated into alternative rock and even some indie rock. Hell, it doesn’t even sound noisy compared to what’s being made these days. But I am not trying to sell this short, not for a moment. Read More
1987, Alternative Rock, Comedy Rock, Demo, EP, Funk Metal, Fusion, Metal, Music, Ska, Ska Metal, and Thrash.
This second Bungle demo is a lot closer to their “mature” sound than the first (if you can call early ’90s Bungle “mature”) but they kind of sound like a metal-influenced Camper van Beethoven on crack here. I guess that doesn’t give full credit to their weirdness – even at this early stage they were significantly weirder than CVB, but if CVB really was an influence on Bungle (and I can’t help but think they were) this demo reeks of that influence more than anything else they ever recorded. It’s way crazier than CVB ever got, but it’s also a Read More
This is a significantly more traditional piece of music than Einstein on the Beach. (I have not heard the second opera in this so-called trilogy.) Not being super familiar with Glass, I’m not sure when this change happened, but this is a lot closer to traditional opera (there is evidence, albeit minor, of a plot) than his first effort. And that’s both a good thing (if you care about such things) and a bad thing (if you enjoyed the more radical approach). I like this – I am generally very intrigued by works that clearly mix traditions as this does Read More
Faure: Requiem (1987) by Philippe Herreweghe, La Chapelle Royale, Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Louis, Ensemble Musique Oblique
I don’t, as yet, listen to a lot of Requiems. So I can’t necessarily say how it fits in to history. But I can say that I wouldn’t be offended if someone played this at funeral. (Of course I couldn’t be offended, and hopefully there won’t be that kind of funeral…) As I have said elsewhere Faure is someone who has a lightness to much of his music which I might normally detest – or at least get occasionally annoyed by – but for some reason I don’t. I can’t really explain it. I doubt it’s rational, but in his Read More
1987, Action, Biography, Historical Drama, Historical Fiction, Movies, Political Drama, Revisionism, Satire, and Western.
I think going in that one must accept that Alex Cox made this movie. If one doesn’t like Alex Cox (or Godard, or filmmakers like that) one should probably not watch this film. That being said:Cox appears to rarely get great performances out of his decent to great actors. I don’t why that is, but this is yet another example where the lead performances draw attention to themselves in not so good ways. I wouldn’t say that Harris is terrible in this, but he is curious and I think a better performance from him – and from a few others Read More
1884, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1893, 1897, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1919, 1920, 2003, Box Set, Impressionism, Music, Piano music, and Ragtime.
Erik Satie’s piano music changed the way many people thought about music. It’s hard to imagine John Cage, cool jazz, ambient, post rock and a bunch of other things without this. It’s also really cool to hear the ragtime stuff. Read More
“The Musk-Ox” is certainly a unique story, but it doesn’t really grab me. “The Sealed Angel” is certainly fascinating, but more as a docudrama then as a story. “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” is probably the strongest story over-all, but I’m not sure how well the allusion holds. “Pamphalon the Entertainer” would be the best story in the bunch were it not for the ridiculous ending. “A Winter’s Tale” is way too much wondering about a writer I don’t particularly like. On the whole I have to say that I understand why Leskov is somewhat forgotten. If this is a best Read More