Doves – Lost Souls

So Doves’ album Lost Souls (2000). I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying I got bored with it…every time. There is something about this album that has failed to catch my attention. The music is ok; the vocals do not suck, but I cannot indulge myself or dive into the music like I have done with other albums (on and off the list). I keep relistening to this album in order to find something catching, or at least unique, and honestly, it sounds like a simple rock album. I am not impressed, but I do not hate it. It’s just typical. I have been listening to a lot of music lately that I have been really getting into (Joy Formidable, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Of Monsters and Men, Frank Ocean). Sorry, but this does not stack up in comparison. One thing that I did notice is how there are times when I felt like I was listening to Radiohead, but a bad Radiohead. This album has Radiohead-esque moments but it’s like buying cheap beer, the more you have, the more you want the good shit (Innis!). I’m finding it even hard to talk about this album for very long. It’s like clockwork, by the middle of what I think is the second or third song, I forget I am even listening to something. By the way, I listen to everything with headphones if that’s any evidence to my apathy for this album. All in all, eh. Nothing to see here.

 

 

Track List

 
Next Week: The National – High Violet

P.S. I’ll start posting regularly again, I promise.

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Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas

An interesting album with weird melodies accompanying a unique voice, Heaven or Las Vegas (1990) by the Cocteau Twins represents a lot of variety to me. I can feel inspiration from the 80s style of new wave and electronic music combined with a desire to make something new and fresh. Cocteau Twins accomplishes that with this album. As I write this, and make my third full listen-through, more parts of each song become apparent. At first it is hard to get passed the leader singer’s vocals. It is quite a catching voice, although many times incoherent. However, having grown accustomed to her voice, I notice a lot of things going on behind her. The music is just as catching as the voice, it just went unnoticed by me at first. For example, during the track “Road, River, and Rail,” there is a steady beat that is played along side many odd sounds that I, honestly, cannot tell from what instrument they derive. But that’s ok, it does not make the song any less enjoyable.

As a whole, this album has a mellow feel. There is not any song that I can think of that has a fast or invigorating feel. It gives the album a consistency, possibly a theme. To start the album is the track, “Cherry-coloured Funk.” The opening guitar riff and drum set the mood for the rest of the album. It is played steadily and casually, as if there is no hurry at all in singing or making this song. There is no rush to these songs. Every one of them plays like they feel they should. There is no need for a fast paced song on this album. Once you start listening to the album, it just plays for about 40 minutes, and then it’s over. And everything is neat. I do not know any actual details of the production of this album, but when I listen to it, I can imagine all the band members just casually playing their parts. No need to hasten anything, no deadlines, everyone just plays. Once again, this could be completely opposite of the production process for Heaven or Las Vegas, but you do not get that feel.

I have no outstanding tracks for this album because I feel the need to listen to it as a whole. Unlike when listening to previous albums, I’d get the urge to skip around after the first run through. Heaven or Las Vegas calls for a complete listen. So, I recommend you take about 40 minutes out of a day and do just that. Put it on, and just relax while the melody slowly drives forward. Trust me, you won’t even notice the time.

 
Track List

 

 

Next Week: Doves – Lost Souls

 

Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier

Ah the 80’s. I was born during this decade, however I was not that coherent. Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980) by Adam & the Ants is a tremendously good album. Personally, I am a big fan of this era of music. The style of music in the 80’s has always been enjoyable. The style I am referring to is New Wave, not hair metal (no offense). From open to close, this album had me listening in. I even stopped doing anything else but listening. The use of drums and guitar strums accompany lead singer Adam Ants continuous voice. He never stops, and I do not mind. The big musical part of this album is the percussion. It is varied and prevalent. The guitar is also present, but I felt it was behind the drums. Of course, nothing could be more stand-out than Adam Ant’s voice.

The first stand out track on this album is the opening number, “Dog Eat Dog.” It is fast tempo song that actually starts out with a swing-like drum roll., and then the guitar kicks in. The guitar is mainly a couple of strums. It is not continuous but comes in strong. To further this swing connection is Adam Ant’s use of “Daddy-o.” I can see some good ol’ boys and girls dancing away to this track. The next stand out track is “Killer in the Home.” Once again, the song starts with a drum roll, then the guitar strumming, and then the voice. But, there is a bass undertone that sneaks in when Adam Ant is not singing. This bass line carries the rhythm. The track is somewhat haunting when you really listen to the lyrics. However,  as I’m writing this, I have repeated the song 4 times.

The title track really brings all the unique aspects of this album into one cohesive track. Adam Ant’s voice is still the most prevalent part of the song, but the drums are heavy, and the guitar keep sneaking in and out, until the couple of parts when everything explodes together. When these parts play, I find myself closing my eyes and trying to hear everything. I want to hear every little piece of the song. The rest of the album is as fun as the previous tracks. In “The Magnificent Five” there are some harder guitar parts, kind of grungy. Recalls a thing a friend of mine said, that Adam and the Ants really paved the way for new music, they tried new things that everyone started doing. I can hear it, and if you don’t believe me, just listen to “Physical (You’re So). The most fun track off of King of the Wild Frontier is “Don’t Be Square (Be There).” “Antmusic for sex people, sex music for Antpeople.” The song sounds like the band is just having fun jamming. The playful guitar strums adds to the merriment.

To end this post I will say that Adam Ant is as unique as his music. Pirate wave is what I’m calling this CD and it is because of Mr. Ant (“Jolly Roger” really is pirate music, I swear). As he sings in “Don’t Be Square (Be There),” “You might not like it now, but you will.” So, get the CD, download Spotify, whatever, listen to it. Favorite album of the list so far, by far.

 

 

Track List (U.S. release not UK)

 

Next Week: Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

I’m sure most of you have heard of CCR at least once in your lifetime. Songs like “Travelin’ Band,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain” are played all the time on the radio. For me, listening to a whole CD of CCR was not a thrilling idea. The fact that the radio repeats the same songs from the same bands over and over is part of the reason why I avoid it, mostly. However, keeping with the surprising turn of events of the CDs I have been listening to for this blog, I found Cosmo’s Factory to be pleasant overall. Admittedly, I had to listen to it multiple times because when the songs that I am familiar with start playing, I zoned out. So, I made sure I heard it once through, with no distractions, before writing this.

The opening of the album is my favorite part. “Ramble Tamble” opens up with a good riff, and then sounds like good ol’ CCR, but, at the 2:00 minute mark, the song changes for me. This is when I perked up and really started paying attention. Fogerty’s voice disappears and it becomes 4more minutes of instrumental goodness. Singing picks up again at the last minute. The nice interplay of guitar and drums, with some noticeable bass in the background, makes “Ramble Tamble” the best song on the whole album. After awhile, they start playing this oddly placed sequence, going 1, 2, 3,…1, 2, 3, that I find hard to explain except by saying it sounds kind of ahead of its time. This album came out in the 1970, and the use of a sound that feels synthesizer-esque (it’s probably just a piano), with nicely placed guitar riffs on top, is ahead of the game to me.

The rest of the album is plain CCR, which is not bad at all if you’re into a group influenced by blues and southern rock. The second song on the album feels so bluesy that without Fogerty’s distinct voice, I wouldn’t be able to tell it was CCR at all. As long as Fogerty is singing, it always sounds like Creedence. What I liked about this album, besides the previously stated, is the covers. “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is an amazing song not matter who sings it, almost. Whether it’s Marvin Gaye or CCR, I can never turn this song off. “Ooby Dooby” is a cover of an old Roy Orbison song. This song is just fun. I dare someone to listen to it and not want to dance. Even I wanted to dance, and I’m like Elaine. The last cover, that I know of, on this album is “My Baby Left Me.” Originally an Elvis song, it also inspires movement, even if it’s just toe-tapping. It has a great opening with the Double Bass sound.

To sum it up, Cosmo’s Factory is not a bad album. However, with today’s radio it is hard to really listen to CCR without hearing songs that have been played over and over. So of course, many of the standout tracks I haven’t heard before. If you’re not a CCR fan, no problem, but I do suggest listening to “Ramble Tamble” for that 4 minutes of awesome instrumental.

 

Track List

 

Next Week: Adam and the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier

Joan Baez – Joan Baez

Lately I have been on a female vocalist kick, from Heart to Florence + the Machines, and even Tina Turner. So, I am pleased that a female artist has cropped up on my list this early. Joan Baez, a classic female artist, is sadly only known to me by name. However, today I listened to her first full length album, self titled. Joan Baez (1960) is a fantastic thing to hear. Her excellent guitar strumming is noticeable yet takes a backseat to her fantastic and melodic voice. The songs are great, but it is Joan’s voice that makes this whole album worth listening to, more than once. For me, the stand out tracks are “House of the Rising Sun” (never heard another version but the Animals), “All My Trials,” and “Donna Donna.” With that said, I kept having to rethink what I would consider the stand out tracks. With every new song that played I kept thinking to myself, “This is better. Now this is better. Nope, it’s this one.” So, please understand that my stance on which songs are better is as fickle as southern summer weather (I just thought to myself as I write this and listen again, “John Riley” maybe the best, sigh, such fluctuation).

Now what drew me to this album once I started listening to it is its folk style. If you look up Joan Baez it will clearly say “folk,” and it does not disappoint in that aspect. The same reason why I was drawn to listening to the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou (Coen Brothers 2000) has hooked me again for Baez. It slow, yet it does not drag. It is lulling yet not dull. Songs like “House of the Rising Sun” allow Baez to sing with a little more gusto, while “Henry Martin” is mostly even and reminds me of a traditional style song. A type of song I would hear in a film about old America or Great Britain. Even though I did say that her guitar playing is mostly overshadowed by her wonderful singing, it is still noticeable. This album is stripped down to just her and a guitar, so you cannot help but notice it. In “Henry Martin” and the ultimate song, “El Preso Numero Nueve,” her impressive playing is obvious but not emphasized, yet in each song, I could not help but want to lean in and try to pick out her guitar playing more. For a debut album, this is quite impressive. It further rekindled my love for female vocalists and introduced me to a new one; one I should have listened to along time ago.

 

 

Track List

 

Next Week: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours

I have never been much of a Sinatra fan, although I have always admired his voice. I’m sure most people have heard of him or heard him before so let’s not go into any of that. This album, In the Wee Small Hours (1955) is, and I think would be, enjoyable to hear. It’s smooth and has a touch of class, just like the mythos of Sinatra. Like I’ve mentioned before I am not involved in music in any way, therefore nothing I am about to say will sound technical. With that out of the way, there is a great overall mood to this album. The article written in the 1001 Albums… mentions that this was Sinatra’s come back. People thought he was done however, with this collection, Frank became big time again. The mood adds to that come back. It is a sensual Sinatra that I feel is missing from a lot of the popular songs of his that I have heard. With the opening track, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” there is a longing that is evident in elongated syllables he belts out with tact. Actually, there is a lot of longing in this album. In “Last Night When We Were Young,” it feels like Sinatra is reminiscing about his previous heyday, even though he sings about a woman. The song starts off nice and slow, like most of the songs on this album, but builds up at certain parts to emphasis what was there. The main feeling I get from hearing In the Wee Small Hours is that Sinatra is singing because he can, not for any other motive. It does not feel like he is trying to make a comeback, but enjoying the chance that was given to him. According to the book, this album did bring him back into the spotlight. He rejuvenated his career with these tunes. One of the more playful songs, to me, is “Can’t We Be Friends?”, which is ironic because it is about him being rejected. Rather than keeping with the somber mood of the majority of the songs on this album, this song has a nice, slightly more uptempo piano accompanying Sinatra’s usual spot-on tone. All in all, I would say I am pleasantly surprised with this album. I would definitely listen to it again, which I am doing now.

Track List

 

Next Week: Joan Baez – Joan Baez