Tag: Art Pop

1989, Music

Like a Prayer (1989) by Madonna

Many years ago I was drinking at a bar in grad school, when the title track came on. A colleague of mine said it was a good song, I scoffed and we got in an argument, with everyone else siding with him and getting annoyed at me for being stupid. For my entire life I …

1979, Music

Breakfast in America (1979) by Supertramp

I grew up listening to Oldies Radio when that meant music from the 1960s and, occasionally, the late ’50s. Especially as I got older, the station I used to listen to would make exceptions for some music from the 1970s, usually MOR and singer-songwriter stuff. Supertramp was one of the bands that made that cut. …

2018, Movies

Post-Crash (2018) by Missing Waves

Jazz is at a weird place in the 21st century, like basically every other form of music. Boundaries between jazz and other genres sometimes completely disappear, as they do with this record. At times, I think for sure this is some kind of modern art pop (i.e. not jazz) but then there are tracks when …

1993, Music

The Red Shoes (1993) by Kate Bush

The first time I listened to it I just couldn’t get over the productive, which sounds so ’80s like any number of early ’90s albums, made by artists or producers who hadn’t yet seen the writing on the wall – that the era of gated drums synthesizers approximating any instrument you could think of was …

1993, Music

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993) by Sarah McLachlan

This is the Sarah McLachlan I was too young for; the kids at my school weren’t into this music when it came out and I don’t think she was big enough in the States yet to make it on MTV when I got the chance to watch that at my cousins’. I say this because, …

1983, Music

Soul Mining (1983) by the The

My main complaint against synthpop is that the majority the bands decided to entirely or mostly drop conventional instruments in favour of synthesizers and drum machines. I have never been a huge fan of either instrument and so it’s an uphill battle for me when an entire album is performed with instruments I don’t like. …

1988, Music

Peepshow (1988) by Siouxsiee and the Banshees

The opening song “Peek-a-Boo” really threw me for a lip – those samples are a massive departure from what I’m familiar with from this band. My initial impression of it was that they were trying to piggyback on the emerging sound of hip hop and electro which they didn’t understand and were failing terribly. That …

1993, Music

Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (1993) by Stereolab

I am familiar with what one might call “peak” Stereolab, the sound of the band in the mid 19990s. They are not a band I particularly enjoy but they are a band I respect, given their pretty much utterly unique fusion of styles. (They basically have their own genre, in many ways. And I wouldn’t …

1993, Music

janet. (1993) by Janet Jackson

As I say all the damn time, coming at an artist backwards is a bad idea. And yet here I am doing it again. This is only the second Janet Jackson album I’ve ever heard, but the first one I heard was the sequel to this one. The problem for me is that the sequel …

1973, Music

A Wizard A True Star (1973) by Todd Rundgren

If you’re like me, you wished that Something/Anything?could have been, well, weirder. Or, if not weirder, at least more varied. I personally find that the record doesn’t quite live up to its reputation for weirdness and variety. Well, be careful what you wish for.

1968, Music

Eli and the 13th Confession (1968) by Laura Nyro

I was barely aware of Nyro when I listened to this record – I had heard her name, likely from seeing it listed in credits and mentioned here and there I guess, but I didn’t know what I was in for.

1998, Music

Ray of Light (1998) by Madonna

This may or may not be the first Madonna album I’ve ever listened to – not 100% sure – but it is definitely the first one I’ve given my three requisite listens to. Given that fact, it should be no surprise that I can’t fully grasp what a drastic left-turn this record probably was for …

1978, Music

The Kick Inside (1978) by Kate Bush

The problem with starting mid-career with an artist is that you kind of assume what they sound like in their maturity or prime is how they’ve always sounded. I started with The Dreaming, a record that knocked me out. It was pretty damn unlikely that Bush’s debut would stand up to it. And I certainly …

1973, Music

Approximately Infinite Universe (1973) by Yoko Ono

My first encounter with Yoko Ono as the dominant performer (as opposed to Lennon) was with her Plastic Ono Band. I guess I wasn’t in the right mood for it, as it felt just way too directionless and faux avant garde to my ears at the time. (Some of the stuff they do on that …

1987, Music

Savage (1987) by Eurythmics

I don’t know Eurythmics very well. Sure, I know their biggest hits, but that’s it. And I only ever recently sat down to listen to an Annie Lennox album. So I have no idea about context here. For example, I had no idea they were so damn prolific. (Seriously, what the hell? 7 albums in …

1982, Music

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

I am really big fan of JuJu for many of the same reasons I like this record: there’s this balance between the dark. “gothic” lyrics and Siouxsie Sioux’s vocals, and the often shimmering neo-psychedelic guitar and sound effects. But I definitely get a sense of deja vu. And I get that sense even though this …

1997, Music

The Velvet Rope (1997) by Janet Jackson

I had a very, very fixed idea of Janet Jackson before listening to that record. It was an idea essentially created by music videos (Janet Jackson is attractive) and the odd accidental radio exposure, but also created by the music industrial complex, which has generally marketed female performers in a particular way for quite a …

1997, Music

Homogenic (1997) by Bjork

It’s been a while since I sat down and listened to all the Bjork records I own at once time so you should really take what I say with a grain of salt because, maybe if I had done that recently, I wouldn’t be so damn blown away by this record. But, without having listened …

1997, Music

Dots and Loops (1997) by Stereolab

Stereolab do their thing. It’s a very particular thing that sounds like no one else and, for that, they should be commended. They invented this kind of fusion of lounge, krautrock and pop, and that’s to their credit.

1997, Music

Fantasma (1997) by Cornelius

I have heard Fantasm described as ‘the Japanese Beck.’ It’s a comparison that sounds kind of ridiculous but is also kind of appropriate. It’s inappropriate inasmuch as Cornelius had been releasing music with Flipper’s Guitar well before Beck was known to most of us (is Beck, therefore, the American Cornelius?) but it is appropriate inasmuch …

1967, Music

Smiley Smile (1967) by The Beach Boys

If you read a lot of music criticism about the ’60s, like I used to, you have heard about Smile ad nauseum. If you read a lot of indiependent music criticism at the turn of the century, like I used to, you have also heard about Smile ad nauseum. You’ve heard about Smile to the …

1977, Music

Pacific Ocean Blue (1977) by Dennis Wilson

Full disclosure: I did not want to listen to this. I don’t love The Beach Boys and have generally been annoyed by the Brian Wilson-worship that has bubbled to the surface over the last few decades. Of all the likely listeners of this record, one would expect me to be among the least fair.

1982, Music

Imperial Bedroom (1982) by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Though I haven’t heard the couple previous albums to this one, this still feels like a pretty big stylistic left turn for Costello. The production and arrangements are both noticeably different from the first Attractions record (or his first few solo albums). It’s a brave move (if it is indeed a move) as he could …

1972, Music

American Gothic (1972) by David Ackles

Ackles has a really idiosyncratic style, combining the confessional storytelling of other songwriters of his era with a huge does of musical theatre, particularly cabaret and American musicals, with borderline novelistic lyrics. It’s a weird amalgam that mostly doesn’t just work but wows.

1976, Music

A New World Record (1976) by Electric Light Orchestra

Despite deciding I was going to get into ELO when I was 16 or 17, I never actually did. So I have no idea how this to compares to any of their other records. I believe this is supposed to be their best, or at least their most popular. Anyway…