Tag: Art Rock

1979, Music

Real to Real Cacophony (1979) by Simple Minds

How synthpop and the New Romantic movement evolved out of punk via post punk has always been one of the most confusing parts of recent popular music history, at least to me. But it’s records like this, caught somewhere in the middle (of punk and synthpop), that make that whole evolution a little more clear.

1974, Music

Country Life (1974) by Roxy Music

I have approached Roxy Music in a strange way – listened to their second album first, got really into it, and then listened to their last album and didn’t enjoy it. And I’ve jumped around ever since. And because of the way I feel about their earliest and later albums, I’ve approached the ones in …

1974, Music

Sheer Heart Attack (1974) by Queen

This is, by all accounts, the record where Queen really becomes Queen, taking their bizarre (insane, really) hybrid style and finally pairing it with enough quality songs that it no longer seems gimmicky. I’m not sure I entirely agree, but I get why people feel this way.

1989, Music

The Sensual World (1989) by Kate Bush

Kate Bush, ever the iconoclast, finds a good balance on this record between contemporary art pop – and all of the obsession with technology that entails – and folk music influences. In the vaguest sense this one sort of reminds of Peter Gabriel’s work, only they are incorporating very different forms of folk music and …

1979, Music

Tusk (1979) by Fleetwood Mac

The number of times I’ve heard that Tusk is “experimental” in my life…well, if I had a dollar, I still wouldn’t be able to afford a down-payment on a house in Toronto, or anything, but maybe I could lease a car or something. The problem with pop music fans telling you that some pop album …

1979, Music

Broken English (1979) by Marianne Faithful

Broken English is one of those records I heard so damn much about throughout my life that, by the time I listened to it decades after first hearing about, there was going to be a let down, it was inevitable. With multiple listens, the record is growing on me a bit, but it’s still worth …

1974, Music

Fear (1974) by John Cale

Paris 1919 is my favourite John Cale album but it’s not coincidentally the album of his I’ve heard the most, by far. That seems to be the way with me and Cale’s songs, it takes some time for them to impress themselves upon me,  I don’t like his other albums as much not just because …

1974, Music

Crime of the Century (1974) by Supertramp

Before I knew what Prog Rock was, Supertramp was just a band on classic rock radio that I didn’t exactly love. Once I figured out what Prog Rock was, they became this caricature for me – my friends who hated prog hated it because they hated Supertramp but, to me, Supertramp wasn’t prog at all, …

1974, Music

Rock Bottom (1974) by Robert Wyatt

As I write in seemingly half the reviews of albums I write, expectations are a terrible thing. I have heard about Rock Bottom for perhaps as long as I was aware of Wyatt’s existence, which dates back to my first encounter with Soft Machine maybe 20 years ago (or slightly less than that).

1984, Music

Hyaena (1984) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Reading about this album, it’s absolutely incredible how much ink was spilled over Robert Smith’s involvement. Even though it sounds like the Banshees (much more than the Cure) and even though Smith’s involvement in the songwriting is not explicitly laid out (perhaps because of this), the critics of the time attribute basically everything they like …

1974, Music

The Psychomodo (1974) by Cockney Rebel

I think I got this band confused with a pub rock band. I don’t really know how I did that, but I did. So, as you might imagine, I was in for a surprise.This is extra arty glam rock (or perhaps super glammy art rock, if you prefer) with a fair amount of quirk courtesy …

1989, Music

Street Fighting Years (1989) by Simple Minds

Simple Minds is one of those bands that put out an absolute ton of music but which I was only aware of due to their biggest hit. Until 2018 or 2019 I had never heard a single album of there’s. That one album sounded too much like U2 to me, but mostly because of Kerr. …

1979, Music

Discovery (1979) by Electric Light Orchestra

I don’t know ELO much at all, though I know a lot of Jeff Lynne’s work as a producer (which I hate). I first read about the band in the first music book I ever owned, but I never got around to listening to them in part because when I first consciously encountered their singles …

1974, Music

Queen II (1974)

I think it’s safe to say that there’s no other band that sounds like Queen: hard rock plus operatic vocals plus other weird arty or proggy ideas, in a really accessible package, with occasional diversions into other genres that shouldn’t fit – pick a Queen record and there’s usually at least one of these. I …

1974, Music

Sparkle in the Rain (1984) by Simple Minds

What do you do when you’ve heard one band your whole life and not another, and then you hear the second band and they sound a lot like the first? But, the thing is, the second band was actually first, and really doesn’t sound that much like that first band.

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 …

1973, Music

Stranded (1973) by Roxy Music

I must say I was pretty damn worried about the first post-Eno Roxy Music album. I have heard later records and, well, I didn’t love them. I don’t love where Ferry took the band. I figured this was the beginning of the end, with the “end” being Ferry the oh so sophisticated synthpop crooner.

1978, Music

Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (1978) by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

For some reason, so much of my experience of Beefheart is tied up with Safe as Milk and Trout Mask Replica, and how the latter is such a huge departure from a former, that when I hear latter Beefheart records that are closer in spirit to his early work than Trout Mask Replica I’m not …

1968, Music

Shine On Brightly (1968) by Procol Harum

Procol Harum remind me of The Moody Blues in a way; not in terms of their sound but in terms of their place in the history progressive rock, and how it evolved. Both bands got in on the ground floor, which makes them pioneers, at the very least. But both also got in before progressive …

1973, Music

Boulders (1973) by Roy Wood

I had a Billboard book growing up, which was just a series of chronologies of bands. It was really quite boring but for some reason I ate it up; I read it front to back more than once. I think one of the things I found fascinating about it was all the recurring names from …

1978, Music

Peter Gabriel [Scratch] (1978)

Because of the nature of the collaboration – my favourite guitarist, Robert Fripp, produced this record – I had sort of viewed this record as the holy grail of early Peter Gabriel records, in spite of the lukewarm reviews. I had just assumed that, whenever I got to it, I would discover this incredible mixture …

1998, Music

Leitmotif (1998) by dredg

Apparently these guys were Nu Metal once upon a time. You can sometimes hear that in the vocals – without actually knowing anything about Linkin Park, I’d say I hear a similarity in the way this guy sings – but on the whole the idea that this was a Nu Metal band on their EPs …

1998, Music

A Thousand Leaves (1998) by Sonic Youth

The first track makes me think of their early music, even though I haven’t heard anything earlier than their earlier than their fourth album, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. But anyway the opening makes it sound like they’ve gone more experimental. (Actually a few tracks do.)

1988, Music

A Bell Is a Cup Until It Is Struck (1988) by Wire

I am a long-time fan of both Pink Flag and especially Chairs Missing but have somehow never managed to get to any of their other material. Having not heard their first album after they reunited either, this is a surprise.

1998, Music

This Is Hardcore (1998) by Pulp

I think one of the things that distinguishes Pulp from their supposed contemporaries in Britpop is simply their experience – they’ve been making music so much longer than most of the other bands they’re lumped in with, they just know how to do things better. At least, that’s my theory as to why I like …

1983, Music

Porcupine (1983) by Echo and the Bunnymen

I really enjoyed Heaven Up Here and I perhaps had too-high expectations when I first listened to this record. The first time I heard it, I wasn’t feeling it. A lot of that had to do with listening to War for the first time in ages at the same time, as both records were released …

1998, Music

Mark Hollis (1998)

Given how world-changing the final Talk Talk albums were, I guess we could be forgiven that Holli’s solo debut (and only record to this point) would somehow also be world-changing. I think there’s a natural desire for us to believe that artistic innovators will always be innovative, and always to the degree that they were …

1978, Music

The Modern Dance (1978) by Pere Ubu

Imagine New Wave at its absolute quirkiest (i.e. Devo) and then add a dose of avant rock from the late 1960s and you get some vague idea of what Pere Ubu sounds like on their debut. All the herky jerky New Wave stuff is here but so are piercing noises, samples of who knows what, …