Tag: Singer Songwriter

1984, Music

Born in the U.S.A. (1984) by Bruce Springsteen

I understand why a lot of Boss fans love this record. More than any other record of his I’ve heard, this one has a (relative) lot of songs I know, and I generally avoid Springsteen as much as possible. There are at least four songs here which, to me, are among the most famous Springsteen …

1999, Music

The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999) by Ben Folds Five

For most of my adult life I’ve been only vaguely aware of Ben Folds and his band. I think he had a hit or two I heard of and many years ago I managed to listen to their reunion album but it apparently made no impression on me. Despite sort of bemoaning the death of …

1999, Music

Mule Variations (1999) by Tom Waits

At this point, anyone who has followed Waits since his left-turn in the early 1980s knows what to expect from a Waits album. Aside from from production choices, most Waits albums of the last 35 years have sounded rather similar to each other, with everything in his own inimitable style, and the only major difference …

1989, Music

Full Moon Fever (1989) by Tom Petty

For years, my only real experience of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was their 1993 Greatest Hits record. That record contained the three big hits everyone knows from this solo album, though I wasn’t too concerned that these were ostensibly solo singles on a record collecting the band’s hits. I also wasn’t particularly concerned, at …

1969, Music

Songs From a Room (1969) by Leonard Cohen

Songs of Leonard Cohen is over-produced. Like so many singer-songwriter debuts from the late ’60s and early ’70s, somebody somewhere didn’t trust the songs and/or the singer and made the decision to dress up his songs. Cohen likely didn’t know any better himself, not being a musician. But after the record came out, people complained …

1998, Music

White Ladder (1998) by David Gray

When I lived in rez, my neighbour played this record fairly frequently because he loved Dave Matthews and Dave Matthews put it out in the US. (He seems to have played it so much that, a few years later, I would insist that the men in my rez only liked DMB, Sublime and David Gray, …

1998, Music

Supposed Form Infatuation Junkie (1998) by Alanis Morissette

My biggest problem with Jagged Little Pill is its faux grunge (what we would now call post grunge) production; there’s this veneer of trying to make Alanis fit in with alternative rock bands, but it’s clearly the work of someone who was never in an alternative rock band and is just trying to create a …

1988, Music

Mutations (1998) by Beck

I can imagine that, had I paid attention to Beck more when he first became popular, and only heard Mellow Gold and Odelay, and not his earlier “anti folk” records, this record might have knocked me on my ass. In retrospect it has far more in common with Sea Change than it does those records …

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

The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle (1973) by Bruce Springsteen

I have never heard a Springsteen record like this one. Maybe that’s because I just haven’t heard that many Springsteen records but I suspect or at least wonder that it’s because, at some point later on, he figured out who he was, and this version wasn’t part of that (or wasn’t normally part of that).

1973, Music

Piano Man (1973) by Billy Joel

I do not like Billy Joel. I recognize he has talent but let’s say I don’t like the way he uses it. I find his melodies too sappy and saccharine but even when I don’t I often don’t find them compelling enough. I regularly do not like his lyrics. But it’s really the arrangements that …

1968, Music

The Marble Index (1968) by Nico

If you only knew Nico from Chelsea Girl (i.e. you had never heard The Velvet Underground & Nico nor were you aware of her subsequent reputation), I have trouble imagining the shock of this record. It’s a little like what later happened with Scott Walker, albeit not nearly as radical, but it took Nico less …

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, …

1988, Music

Copperhead Road (1988) by Steve Earle

I have a weird bone to pick about records that weren’t recorded with the same group of musicians throughout. This doesn’t necessarily apply to guest vocalists, but it does apply to guests on other instruments. I guess my argument would be that I want a record to have a consistent sound and recording with different …

1983, Music

Infidels (1983) by Bob Dylan

The conventional wisdom is that this is the first Dylan album after his weird trip to the Christian Music wilderness to really be worth listening to. I have deliberately avoided his late ’70s work because of its reputation, so I have no idea if this is his best album since Desire (1976) or not.

1983, Music

Uh-Huh (1983) by John Cougar Mellencamp

A number of times in the last few years I have put on a Mellencamp album with the intention of talking about it on the podcast and come up with some reason not to talk to about, so I’ve never given any of them the full three listens I want to give any record before …

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 …

1978, Music

52nd Street (1978) by Billy Joel

Full disclosure: I do not like Billy Joel. This is the third record of his I’ve listened to in the last year or so and I have liked exactly zero of them. Moreover, I don’t think I get Billy Joel. At all. I listen to this record and I don’t understand how there are 4/5 …

1973, Music

Sweet Revenge (1973) by John Prine

Many years ago – 15? – I was watching Austin City Limits as usual and John Prine came on. I had never heard of him before but I was blown away. ‘Who was this songwriter I’ve never heard of?’ I thought. I was blown away by his stage demeanour as much as his songs, probably, …

1973, Music

Marjory Razorblade (1973)

Reading about someone before you listen to them is always problematic. I had never heard of this guy but then I read a lot about him on Wikipedia before listening to this record and so much of it was about how much of an “outsider” he was. Well, he may well have been an outsider …

1973, Music

For Everyman (1973) by Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne is one of those artists I’ve heard so much about but never really heard (that I know of). He’s always been on the periphery of music I’ve listened to – guesting on many albums I’ve heard, or co-writing songs, or both – but I’ve never sat down and listened to anything of his …

1973, Music

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

The double album (LP edition) is such a fraught proposition for the artist: on the one hand, for serious fans, it’s the opportunity to hear even more of one of their favourites and so its a treat to cherish – and it should come as no surprise the number of bands whose dedicated fans regard …

1998, Music

Is This Desire? (1998) by PJ Harvey

If you spend too much time reading music magazines – do people still do that? – or you spend too much time on the internet, it’s tempting to see Is This Desire? as the flip side of The Boatman’s Call, or a direct response to it or some combination of the two. The easiest thing …

1998, Music

Whitey Ford Sings the Blues (1998) by Everlast

As you might imagine, I heard “What It’s Like” a ton in High School, pretty much completely unaware that this guy was in House of Pain until someone told me. But having not heard that song since it was in heavy rotation, I had no idea what I was getting into.

1998, Music

Electro-Shock Blues (1998) by Eels

I had long heard of Eels but was actually completely unaware I had heard him, as I had never made the connection between “Last Stop: This Town,” which I vaguely remember from High School, and Eels the band name. So all this time I thought Eels was something else but I had actually heard what …

1993, Music

The Black Rider (1993) by Tom Waits

I’m always willing to listen to any Tom Waits record, particularly any record since he changed his sound, but I also agree with the general consensus that work written (or assembled) for stage shows rarely meets the level of an artist’s best work, especially when that artist is a singer-songwriter (who, by their very nature, …