Tag: Pop Rock

1968

Aerial Ballet (1968) by Nilsson

Nilsson is just one of those guys I don’t get. I have listened to a few of his records now and every time my reaction is “This is what Nilsson sounds like?” You see, I am not really a fan of pop, and though this music is relatively adventurous – I stress the “relatively” as …

1978, Music

The Cars (1978)

The Cars’ debut album marks the point where, for better or worse, New Wave goes commercial. Basically very previous (American) New Wave album was too arty, too quirky, too herky jerky to connect with the average listener. But Ocasek and company found how to merge New Wave with that basic American need for big dumb …

1998, Music

Version 2.0 (1998) by Garbage

Though I feel like Garbage songs were everywhere when I was in High School, I honestly don’t remember too many of them. (A couple here are sort of ringing some bells, I guess.) So I was genuinely surprised when I listened to the record and then I decided the title must have something to do …

1988, Music

Lovesexy (1988) by Prince

To the extent that I know Prince, I know him as the dynamic performer who effortlessly combines aspects of R&B (funk, soul, etc.) with elements of rock (psychedelia, art rock, hard rock) and pop. Well, he’s dialed down the ambition at this point in his career and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

1988, Music

Melissa Etheridge (1988)

I know virtually nothing about the history of queer/LGBT performers and especially singer-songwriters in popular music. Depending upon how you feel about the queerness of David Bowie or Freddie Mercury, I may know absolutely nothing. So I don’t truly know how much of a landmark this record is, by a woman who was out, if …

1993, Music

Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993) by Lenny Kravitz

I do not love nostalgia. Even when that nostalgia is for music I like, I have a hard time liking or sometimes even appreciating music that was made in awe of and devotion to another time. Sure, it might sound better than the original because it was recorded better or mixed better or mastered better …

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 …

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 …

1988, Music

What Up, Dog? (1988) by Was (Not Was)

Imagine if you can a musically less sophisticated but infinitely slicker, but lyrically more earnest Steely Dan, recording with the very latest in ’80s musical technology, and featuring mostly guest vocalists, and you maybe get some idea of what Was (Not Was) sounds like. You also have to up the R&B quotient while dropping the …

1983, Music

Pyromania (1983) by Def Leppard

I struggled with just giving Hysteria my usual three listens and so I was not looking forward to this record. The good news is that it is better than Hysteria. The bad news is that claiming anything is better than Hysteria is damning with faint praise.

1983, Music

Cuts Like a Knife (1983) by Bryan Adams

I’m Canadian, so like every Canadian under a certain age, I know Adams’ hit singles rather well, whether or not I wanted to know them at all. But this is the first record of his I’ve ever heard. It sounds very much like I would expect Bryan Adams to sound (and I’ve heard the title …

1983, Music

Trouble in Paradise (1983) by Randy Newman

Most people who are not fans of Randy Newman seem to be put off by his voice. (Though given his prominence lately, and given the sheer proliferation of unique voices, I think that he sounds a lot less weird than he did when he first starting releasing music.)

1978, Music

Excitable Boy (1978) by Warren Zevon

My only previous experience with Warren Zevon is Sentimental Hygiene. An idiosyncratic songwriter backed by REM – I thought it was going to be really up my alley. But, alas, I really don’t love that record. It was enough to put me off listening to him again. So I find myself listening to this record …

1973, Music

Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973) by Elton John

I have no idea how this is the Elton John record I ended up first giving three full listens to. Sometimes these things happen, I guess, but after listening to it I’m pretty sure it was the wrong one for me. For some reason I listened to Honky Chateau once last May and then decided …

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 …

1997, Music

Come On Over [Original Version] (1997) by Shania Twain

In Canada we have “Canadian Content” rules that necessitates radio DJs (and music video VJs!) play 35% Canadian music. As a Canadian alive in 1997, I have heard at least 7 of these songs ad nauseum. This album was gigantic in the US, yes, but I’m not sure it was as omnipresent as it was …

1987, Music

Calenture (1987) by The Triffids

I can’t speak for the Australian critics, but i feel like the American critics who went gaga over this record are guilty of a fairly common problem, where they over-hype a band from a “smaller” English-speaking country like Australia or Canada when if the same band appeared in the US or the UK they might …

1987, Music

The Lion and the Cobra (1987) by Sinead O’Connor

I get why this record was such a big deal when it came out: in 1987 it seemed rare that someone with such a distinctive voice comes along, who writes her own songs, and who seems like her artistic personality is already fully formed.But I think that, in retrospect, that view says more about 1987 …

1982, Music

Thriller (1982) by Michael Jackson

Much like Bad, so many of the songs from Thriller were hits when I was a little kid that I know more of this record than I could have ever imagined. That knowledge once again puts me in a weird position, having the memory of what some of these songs sounded like to me as …

1977, Music

Slowhand (1977) by Eric Clapton

At some point during Clapton’s recovery from heroin addiction, his style of music changed rather drastically. He still played the blues but a lot of the fire and rawness of that playing was gone. His solo records from the ’70s (excepting the first one) all have a similar pop blues style, even if the individual …

1997, Music

So Much for the Afterglow (1997) by Everclear

I don’t know this band save for “Wonderful” so I cannot tell you whether the Beach Boys-esque opening to the title track is a giant left turn or not. If it is, that’s brave of them. But, for those of us who do not know this band, it’s the wrong note to start the album. …

1987, Music

Robbie Robertson (1987)

When I was growing up my dad had a Robbie Robertson album, I don’t remember which one. When I discovered the Band, I had a hard time reconciling the memories I had of his solo music with The Band’s music – they seem to have been made by two totally different people, or at least …

1982, Music

1999 (1982) by Prince

Listening to this record immediately after Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love is instructive: Prince shows how cutting edge musical technology can be used without permanently dating a record. Hint: it helps if you write good songs and it helps if you’re idiosyncratic. Prince has written a bunch of really catchy songs – even the songs he …

1962, Music

Surfin’ Safari (1962) by The Beach Boys

I listened to the Beach Boys a lot growing up, along with a lot of other music from this period. I had some Greatest Hits tapes and such, I believe. So when I discovered actually interesting music, the Beach Boys went the way of nearly all oldies bands and artists I listened to – I …

1997, Music

Urban Hymns (1997) by The Verve

I have made no bones about my dislike of Oasis, a band nearly everyone else seems to love (or at least enjoy). I don’t like their songwriter’s songs, I don’t like their sound and I find their biggest hit to be poorly produced. So what the hell am I supposed to do when I have …