This Week’s Albums
November 28th, 2015
IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…
that doesn’t rhyme”. I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose). Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun. I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to! I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.
The Old: The Replacements- Let It Be (1984)
One of the 1980s’ best albums; Let It Be is a post-Punk album that deals with everything from generational disenfranchisement to youthful self-consciousness. Balancing itself between adolescent and adult concerns this album- compared with other works by the band- incorporates more humour and musical depth. The diverse and melodic set of songs see The Replacements forge market expectations Paul Westburg’s voice sound weary yet essential; the album brilliant snapshots the experiences of growing-up and the strifes of the modern youth. It is not surprise Let It Be is seen as one of music’s all-time greatest creations. The throwaway and humourous moments- Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out and Gary’s Got a Boner– are just as important as the most urgent moments on the record. Unsatisfied is a bridge between the band’s harder-edged past and current melodic sensibilities; the opening 1-2 of I Will Dare and Favourite Thing make an emphatic statement indeed. Answering Machine is a strange and mesmeric swansong that completes The Reaplacements’ finest hour. If you have not encountered Let It Be and its 11-track magic then realign this misdemeanour and discover a timeless and ever-relevant album.
DOWNLOAD: I Will Dare; Unsatisfied; Answering Machine
STAND-OUT TRACK: I Will Dare
The New: Anna von Hausswolff- The Miraculous (Out Now)
In a change to the listed album- this one is technically a couple of weeks old- I was compelled to investigate The Miraculous. Having reviewed von Hausswolff in my blog (she is the only artist to score a perfect-10 from me); her sky-scraping and orchestral works are stunning to behold. Whilst a little self-indulgent at times, The Miraculous begs some truly wonderful moments. The angst-between-the-notes of Evocation is one of the album’s highlights. Discovery leads with bass pipes before evolving into militarism drums territory; the vocals are among the most urgent and frantic on the album. The strum-and-drang 11-minute Come Wander With Me/Deliverance finely boasts the combination of von Hausswolff’s choir-girl vocals and languid/epic organ work. It is hard to pin down exactly what defines The Miraculous. Von Hausswolff’s voice- which sounds startlingly like Kate Bush at times- is only bested by the stunningly imaginative and ambitious compositions. Dragging Hard-Rock, Metal, Pop; Folk, Classical and Prog.-Rock into an astonishing album is not an easy trick to pull off- few of her peers manage to do this successfully. What The Miraculous does is provide music (nearly) as apt as its title: an album that begs for repeated listens and a patient ear. Give it time and its dark beauty will seduce fully.
DOWNLOAD: Discovery; Come Wander With Me/Deliverance; Stranger
STAND-OUT TRACK: Discovery
The Influencer: Run-D.M.C.- Run-D.M.C. (1984)
This groundbreaking Hip-Hop masterpiece saw Run-D.M.C. explode onto the scene in 1984. The sparse beats and aggressive rhythms were a stark contrast to the lighter and ‘safer’ Hip-Hop/Rap of the ‘80s. Whereas a lot of Hip-Hop collectives favoured the call-and-response/each-take-a-verse approach; Run-D.M.C. interweaves vocals and lines to create something truly dazzling. It’s Like That (later to be remixed featuring Jason Nevins) and Sucker M.C.’s changed the face of Hip-Hop whilst Rock Box features stunning guitar riffs and a persistently persuasive beat. Not quite as influential as The Beatles- many at the time saw them as a ‘Hip-Hop ‘Beatles’- the group’s influence cannot be understated. Jam Master Jay’s scintillating scratching are backed by forceful and hardcore rhymes- ably and expertly backed by the taut and muscular musical backdrop. Not just concerned with parties, boasting and insincere motives; we get a record that addresses urban concerns and the realities of the streets- in a way, Run-D.M.C. are a more accessible and palatable version of N.W.A. Mixing reportage, objective fatalism with cutting-edge commentary and humour; we get an album that shaped the ‘80s and changed Hip-Hop forever.
DOWNLOAD: Rock Box; Sucker M.C.’s; It’s Like That
STAND-OUT TRACK: It’s Like That
The ‘Other One’: TLC- CrazySexyCool (1994)
The U.S. girl group’s sophomore album was blighted with production issues- the alcohol issues of band member Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes- producers Sean Combs, Dallas Austin and Organized Noise incorporated Hip-Hop, Rock and Deep-Funk into an album that tackled coming-of-age themes and new-found maturity. Smooth, seductive and cool the album boasts numerous standouts: Waterfalls ranks as one of the ‘90s’ finest moments. If I Was Your Girlfriend is a Prince cover that (perhaps ironically) surpasses anything the pint-sized legend produced during the decade. Elsewhere, the steamy and unescapable lust of Red Light Special sees the girls at their steamy and alluring best. Creep is one of the album’s highlights: looking at a boyfriend’s infidelity- the heroine, in turn cheats on him- it was nominated for two Grammys in 1996. Kick Your Game is filled with funky beats and recurring themes of infidelity and lust. Evolving from the Rap-only confines of their debut, SexyCrazyCool is a more accomplished and diverse album that perfectly blends myriad themes and genres (into a single album). One of the trailblazing girl groups of the ‘90s, TLC influenced a host of modern-day bands and artists. For that reason alone, CrazySexyCool is a must-hear album.
DOWNLOAD: Creep; Red Light Special; Waterfalls
STAND-OUT TRACK: Waterfalls