Tag: Art Rock

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, …

1982, Music

Music for a New Society (1982) by John Cale

I have read a lot (perhaps too much) about the way this album was made, and the rather drastic change in Cale’s method that was part of the process. Maybe reading about that created an image in my mind that this album does not live up to. If that’s so, it makes me sad.

1977, Music

I Robot (1977) by The Alan Parsons Project

When I was young and obsessed with prog rock, people used to make fun of me. They would learn I loved prog and they would be bemused or even a little shocked/outraged. And I was confused because I really liked the stuff. Eventually, I realized that those who made fun of my tastes were often …

1977, Music

The Idiot (1977) by Iggy Pop

Recorded before Low but released afterwards, The Idiot feels in many ways like the missing link between “The Berlin Trilogy” and Station to Station. Though it’s Iggy’s solo debut, it is the least Iggy Pop album he recorded, as far as I know. I do think the criticism that Bowie hijacked Iggy for his own …

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…

1980, Music

Peter Gabriel [Melt] (1980)

On December 31, 2008, I wrote the following: This may sound stupid, but this sounds little too much like 1980. They had a good thing going, those Genesis guys… and while I know that version of the band could never have topped The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, neither Gabriel nor the rest of the …

1968, Music

The United States of America (1968 Columbia)

This stuff is mind-blowing. Almost as out there as Zappa and the Mothers (at their very weirdest) or the Velvets (at their very artiest) and not quite as crazy – and far more artsy – as Beefheart was about to get. It’s too band the sound isn’t exactly great, as apparently these guys were very, …