Tone Soul Evolution (1997) by The Apples in Stereo

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I am not very familiar with Elephant 6 but, to the extent that I am, I am familiar with weird, idiosyncratic indie pop bands, with a big emphasis on the “indie.” I assumed that Apples in Stereo would be along the same lines as the other Elephant 6 bands but, at least based upon this record, they’re very much on the pop side of the indie pop. Read More

Smiley Smile (1967) by The Beach Boys

Categories: 1967 and Music.

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 point that, whatever it was supposed to sound like, your expectations have been permanently set either to view it as an unfinished (later finished!) masterpiece, or the manifestation of a bunch of silly pop critic dreams for something “even greater than Pet Sounds” that couldn’t Read More

I Stand Alone (1968) by Al Kooper

Categories: 1968 and Music.

When I was younger, I was utterly fascinated by Kooper’s career: how he went from a successful songwriter to a less successful session guitarist to one of the best rock keyboardists of his era (or, perhaps, ever) and the major creative force behind some interesting ventures in the late 60s. But, for whatever reason, it took me ages to get around to his solo stuff. Read More

Mellow Yellow (1967) by Donovan

Categories: 1967 and Music.

This feels like a transitional effort for Donovan. On the one hand there’s still some songs that feel like they could have been on Sunshine Superman (though they feel like outtakes to me) on the other and there are some more subdued singer-songwriter things that feel nearly completely at odds with his sort of “Swinging London onlooker” persona he seemed to cultivate. Read More

Face to Face (1966) by The Kinks

Categories: 1966 and Music.

I have come to the early Kinks records backwards, listening to their late 60s classics before these earlier records and so my experience of them is coloured by being far more familiar with Davies’ mature songs than his early songs, leading to me listening to his early songs and thinking they are not as good (shock of all shocks). Read More

Music from The Unrealized Film Script Dusk at Cubist Castle (1996) by The Olivia Tremor Control

Categories: 1996 and Music.

This is a rather ridiculous record that asks us to indulge this band’s impulses immediately. This is a debut album and yet it’s a double LP length and it’s full of 10 tracks with the same name and numerous experiment that could have been cut. When these guys want to write songs, they’re pretty good at it. But there’s just so much damn material here and lots of it isn’t up to the standards of the opening tracks. And this thing is just so damn worshipful of both 60s psychedelia and early 70s McCartney. If you like that stuff, well Read More

Sunshine Superman (1966) by Donovan

Categories: 1966 and Music.

I grew up listening to oldies radio so I have long been familiar with Donovan’s hit singles. I guess they made no impression on me because I really never thought much about it. But this record is a real standout. At the dawn of psychedelia (there had been very little psychedelic music), Donovan releases a record with a sitar player on a bunch of tracks, with a very distinct Indian influence on a few songs, with a chamber music influence on other songs, and even a little bit of a jazz influence at times (sometimes present all in the same Read More

Stands for Decibels (1981) by the dBs

Categories: 1981 and Music.

This is kooky power pop record with so many weird detours that it’s borderline new wave. Individual verses and choruses (and, occasionally, whole songs) sound like they belong to a typical power pop group, but then there’s a weird effect, or weird, unpredictable time change or left turn. It’s no wonder it wasn’t a big success at the time, as it’s rather weird. But the idiosyncrasy helps a lot. It’s wacky, in a good way. 8/10 Read More