Friday, April 30, 2010

Song of The Day #004

"At Giza" by Om

A couple haikus based on this track from the band's awesome 2006 Persian-influenced work of doom, Conference of The Birds:

Crazy allusions
Underneath epic bass lines
The light shrine shining

Thick as pyramids
Cymbal chimes break up the sludge
Sixteen minutes long

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Song of The Day #003

"Hello Big City" by Yama & The Karma Dusters

This folksy track from the Chicago band's Up From The Sewers is very pleasant. That's really what it is: pleasant. It's not original, it's not complex. But it's pleasant, it's light, it's fun, and, most of all, it's good. The tune is about coming home to Chicago and how great that feeling is--a subject matter I'm quite familiar with. There's nothing finer than that first glimpse of downtown from the expressway when you've been away. When I hear a bouncy, good-timey folk song with warm lyrics about the best city in the universe, I'm always pleased--even if the intro always makes me think it's "We're Going To Be Friends" and so I get confused.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Song of The Day #002

"I Got A Feeling" by Tawny Reed

Today's Song du Jour is Tawny Reed's 1965 slice of wonderfulness, "I Got A Feeling"--the song the Black Eyed Peas' similarly titled 2009 smash is based on. (That's a complete lie.) Anyhow, the song starts off with James Bond-esque horns. Then Reed's raspy, blue-eyed voice kicks in and the song blows up. It's kinda considered part of the girl group movement, but it's far more robust and brassy than anything The Angels or The Shangri-Las ever put out. It's nothing spectacularly original, but it's a rockin', vintage good time. And I always have room on my computer for rockin', vintage good times.

SPIN's Top 125 Albums Since 1985

So the folks over at SPIN decided to produce an off-season album list. The more lists the better, I always say. That said, this list is semi-lame. It recounts the magazine's 125 top albums from the last time the Bears last one the Super Bowl until now, which seems like a slightly arbitrary time period, but whatever. They can do what they want. We're all adults here.

The top fifteen is listed just below, and the list is in its entirety here. (To put the list in perspective, Rain Dogs and Psychocandy are two of the better albums from 1985, and Ronald Reagan was president.)

15. Husker Du--New Day Rising
Hmm. Well, I like Husker Du--but this album is not this good.
14. Beastie Boys--Paul's Boutique
It's an amazing album; I wouldn't rate it this high, but I can't argue.
13. Sonic Youth--Daydream Nation
It's a necessary inclusion, and it could certainly be higher.
12. Outkast--Stankonia
See directly above.
11. The Replacements--Tim
Not my favorite 'Mats album, but it's by no means bad.
10. Nine Inch Nails--The Downward Spiral
I don't hate NIN, but this album is definitely overrated here.
9. Pavement--Slanted and Enchanted
Not too much can be said about this. Fine choice.
8. PJ Harvey--Rid Of Me
I've never really gotten the appeal of this album.
7. Guns N' Roses--Appetite For Destruction
From a pop culture importance standpoint? Sure. From a quality music standpoint? No.
6. Public Enemy--It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
I wouldn't put it this high, but it's amazing and deserving enough.
5. Radiohead--OK Computer
This isn't surprising, but I'm still not obsessed with this album.
4. Nirvana--Nevermind
I'm fine with this pick.
3. The Smiths--The Queen Is Dead
This makes enough sense, although I'd put it a but lower.
2. Prince--Sign O The Times
I more or less agree with this.
1. U2--Achtung Baby
U2 is...bleh.

I said it was semi-lame. But it's also semi-hard to argue with. In case you're wondering, I'd probably give the #1 slot to Loveless if I had to choose.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Song of The Day #001

I want to try something new on Il Buono to help increase my post frequency and talk about more music because, well, there's a lot of music out there. So I'm gonna start a "Song of The Day" column in which I--you guessed it!--talk about a song each day. The song that is mentioned could be new or old, good or bad; it will just be a song that I have heard that day and decided to write a few sentences about. Naturally, I will forget (or choose not to) post on some days, but I'll do my darndest to actually do these posts everyday. I think it will be fun. For me at least.

Without further ado, the first ever Song of The Day is "Skunks" by Caribou (or Manitoba as he was called when this song was released). The second track on the 'Bou's 2003 work of genius Up In Flames, "Skunks" is a bouncy and thoroughly enjoyable psychedelic instrumental. The tune is built around a two-bar loop of infectious melody that is toppled with mountains of Caribou's always-excellent percussion and a constant, messy free-jazz-inspired saxophone. Some frog noises and tablas make their way into the crowded mix, and the result is a groovy and fun track that stands out on an album full of standouts.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poll Results: Most Exciting Lolla Act

It's the first (or second) weekend in August. You're in Chicago's lovely Grant Park. It's Lollapalooza. All sorts of folks, from hipsters to frat bros to regular guys, are united by at least a passing interest in music and plenty of sweat for these three days. Now, which act do you want to see the most?

Corny narrative aside, that last sentence was the question in this past poll: which act at Lollapalooza is most exciting, intriguing, etc. I gave options of some ones I'm (at least relatively) excited to see come August. The winner? The wonderful and increasingly popular Grizzly Bear, who garnered 25 percent of the votes. Grizzly Bear is indeed a fantastic live band, and their set at Lollapalooza one or two or three years ago (bad memory) was one of the festival's highlights for me. Dirty Projectors, The xx, Lady GaGa, The Arcade Fire, Erykah Badu and Devo all tied for second with 12.5 percent of the total votes. 2ManyDJ's unfortunately failed to get a vote. Sorry 2ManyDJ's.

I'm excited to see all those bands as well--The xx less so, though. I haven't seen Dirty Projectors since Bitte Orca and I'm sure they have some bangin' new material. I haven't seen GaGa since she was in any way famous, and I know she'll at least be a spectacle. The Arcade Fire are a great live group, and I believe their new album will be out by then, so that could be fun. I've never seen Erykah Badu, and though her most recent album isn't quite its predecessor, I'm excited to see what she does. And then there's Devo: one of my favorite post-punk groups, whom I've never seen live. 2ManyDJ's should be loads of fun, too, but it's on Perry's stage, which is notorious for being full of all sorts of tools who love techno or whatever who like dancing or whatever but really just like doing ecstasy and jumping up and down--that could potentially ruin the experience. Hopefully not. Anyways, I'll see y'all in Grant Park in three, four months.

This next poll is in honor of Iceland's recent clustercuss. To make that bedraggled nation feel better, we're gonna celebrate their disproportionately great music scene. The question this week is who is your favorite Icelandic musician?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Favorite Sonic Youth Albums and Songs

To honor some of the greatest musical geniuses in modern music (Beatles, Kraftwerk, Bowie thus far), I've put together these "Favorite Albums and Songs" list. It's all I can do to pay tribute to the prolific, classic artists that have truly inspired me/blown my mind. What these artists have in common is their ability to put out consistently innovative and brilliant music over a decently long period of time.

Sonic Youth fits the mold quite well. Since the dawn of the 1980s, the Youth (I really shouldn't call them that, should I?) have been putting out album after album after album of mind-bending rock music while inspiring tons upon tons of other, less talented people to hit their out of tune guitars with screwdrivers. The sound that Sonic Youth developed--a harmonious blend of harshness and hooks, dissonance and consonance--with their guitar-based post-punk is one of the most influential (and best) in the history of rock n' roll.

The band has released sixteen studio albums (I think--not including side projects) and several hundred songs, and few to none of those are duds. That said, some are better than others. So I'm going to rank my favorite albums of songs by this wonderful, crazy bunch of No Wavers.

Albums (Top Ten)
1. Daydream Nation
2. Sister
3. Evol
4. Murray Street
5. Goo
6. Bad Moon Rising
7. Washing Machine
8. Confusion Is Sex
9. Sonic Nurse
10. Rather Ripped

Songs (Top Thirty)
1. Teen Age Riot
2. Expressway To Yr. Skull (a.k.a. "The Crucifixion of Sean Penn" a.k.a. "Madonna, Sean and Me")
3. Silver Rocket
4. Death Valley '69 (feat. Lydia Lunch)
5. (I Got A) Catholic Block
6. Trilogy
7. Shadow Of A Doubt
8. Kool Thing
9. Cross The Breeze
10. Schizophrenia

11. Hey Joni
12. Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style
13. Superstar
14. The Diamond Sea
15. Brave Men Run (In My Family)
16. Tom Violence
17. Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog
18. 100%
19. Sympathy For The Strawberry
20. Pacific Coast Highway

21. Pattern Recognition
22. My Friend Goo
23. Do You Believe In Rapture?
24. Bull In The Heather
25. Cotton Crown
26. Star Power
27. The Empty Page
28. Junkie's Promise
29. Disappearer
30. Touch Me I'm Sick

That's what I think. They're definitely a candidate for Joe's Favorite Band if there was such a band. Anyhow, because I like these tribute lists, I have ones planned for Miles Davis, Tom Waits, and Sly & The Family Stone. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My First Album

More of Il Buono's lists have centered around albums than around songs or artists or anything else. Why is this? For one, I find it slightly easier to differentiate between great albums than it is to pick between amazing artists (too many variables) or songs (too short). Second...there isn't a second that I can think of. I just like longplayers. Anyways, I've heard and bought countless albums--from post-punk to classical, dub to twee pop--over the past few years, many of which have graced the pages of this blog. But what was the album that started this compulsive listening to and seeking out of LPs? What single disc inspired the vulnerable, eight year-old Joe to embark on a lifelong journey of album buying? Which artist showed Joe the way to the world of underground music and rock n' roll? Tell me!

Though my parents had bought me many CDs prior to "my first album" (most notably the Space Jam soundtrack and *NSYNC's landmark eponymous debut) I didn't really get my own CD--one I picked out and brought to the register--until I was eight. I remember that day like it was nine years ago, which is to say my memory's a little hazy and half this story might be made up.

Anyhow, my parents were getting me my first walkman from Best Buy. I felt cool. Really Cool. I picked out the one I wanted with some help from a Best Buy employee and headed towards checkout. But I was missing something: a new CD to inaugurate my new CD player. Prominently displayed on the new releases rack were many albums I hadn't heard of and one I had. That one? Lil Bow Wow's debut, Beware Of Dog (the edited version, of course). I had heard Lil's "Bounce With Me" on local station B96 once or twice and was thoroughly excited about seeing this album in the store. I snatched that CD like it was the last one on earth and brought it to the cashier along with my walkman. And just like that, my first real album was bought.

Now, my tastes have expanded, I'm allowed to get the non-edited versions of CDs, and I've listened to less and less Lil Bow Wow as the years have progressed. But that first experience--the act of buying a CD--is so ingrained in my psyche and my personal history. On an increasingly regular basis after that day in the year 2000, I've done the same thing; I pick out a CD I want and buy it (or download it, now) all the time (more or less). Albums as a whole are a huge part of my life and personal culture, and that all began with Beware Of Dog.

This isn't to say that album is terrible. I still nod my head to "Bounce With Me" or the Snoop-assisted "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" or even the amusing "This Playboy". (I say "amusing" because at the time of the album's release, Bow Wow was thirteen years-old. Part of what made me like him so much was his age and its proximity to my own. I felt a kinship to him as a child and also as a midwesterner. He's from Cleveland.) The music itself is very radio-ready hip-hop, full of Jermaine Dupri-produced hooks and prepubescent, nasally rapping. But for an eight year-old whose internal musical library went from 98 Degrees to *NSYNC to Space Jam and then stopped, radio-friendly hip-hop sounded pretty badass. And the fact that it was mine and I could listen to it through headphones on my CD player made it all the better.

I'd pick Andre 3000 over Lil Bow Wow nowadays, and I'd pick Lou Reed over Andre 3000 (I know they're not really comparable--I'm just making a point), but Il Buono and I are forever indebted to the feisty little MC: the man (boy) behind the first album I ever got.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Poll Results: Most Exciting Lolla Headliner

Hey, folks. The most recent poll here at Il Buono asked you which Lollapalooza headliner you are most excited for. Lollapalooza is a big, hot, smelly, crowded music festival that takes place here in Chicago each August. It's smelly, but it's also a lot of fun. Some time ago, five headliners were leaked (Soundgarden, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, The Strokes), and those were the choices in this poll. Since the poll was released, a sixth headliner--Phoenix--has been added, and the rest of the lineup has been officially disclosed. It's a solid lineup--Dirty Projectors, Devo, Fuck Buttons, some other people. It should be fun.

Anyways, your pick for most exciting non-Phoenix headliner was, kind of surprisingly and kind of not surprisingly, Lady GaGa, who received a hefty fifty percent of the votes. While her music is hit or miss, GaGa is sure to put on an intriguing show--and one much more lavish than her set at Lolla a few years ago, where I was one of about twelve people watching her noon performance. Anyhow, The Arcade Fire came in second (I thought they would get first), The Strokes came in at third. Soundgarden and Green Day, two popular alternative bands who I'm not surprised Il Buono readers hate, each failed to garner a single vote.

Because I'm not feeling inspired and because the whole Lolla lineup is now out, I'm going to ask you which act in general you are most psyched to see at this year's festival.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Revisiting My Favorite Albums of The 1960s

Hey, it's that time of year again. Every year (starting--and probably ending--in 2010) I've kicked off Spring by revisiting my favorite albums of the decade lists. As I did before, I'll count down my favorites from the '90s then the '80s then the '70s then the '60s then, finally and counterintuitively, the '00s. Why? you ask. Because not only are my tastes constantly changing a little--I'm getting more or less mature (not sure which), more or less knowledgeable, etc.--but also I'm always hearing new (old) music.

The lists will be presented in one serving (a.k.a. post) and counted down from #90 to #1. When compared to the original lists, albums that are completely new to the lists will be listed in blue. Albums that have moved up ten or more spots will be in green, and albums that have moved down ten or more will be in red. I will choose to write blurbs about random albums that are listed in these colored fonts. The write-ups will be in grey. It will be awesome. Hopefully. It might be confusing.

I'm done with the (long) faux-nostalgic write-ups; all I'm going to say is: the '60s were the beginning--I know rock n' roll and even electronic were bubbling up in the '50s, but the '60s were the first decade in which the rock album figured prominently in culture and in which experimental music, soul, rock, pop, etc. all started to intertwine. (The first editions of the list are here, here, and here.)

Here are my 90 favorite albums of the 1960s:

90. Lothar And The Hand People--Presenting Lothar And The Hand People
89. Herbie Hancock--Fat Albert Rotunda
88. The Rolling Stones--Let It Bleed
87. Skip Spence--Oar
86. Cromagnon--Orgasm
85. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood--Nancy & Lee
84. Serge Gainsbourg--Songs On Page One
83. The Soft Machine--The Soft Machine
82. Yusef Lateef--Eastern Sounds
81. Bobby Hutcherson--Dialogue
As is the trend with all these revisions, albums at the bottom have gotten pushed back because of new additions. Such is life.

80. Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm--A Black Man's Soul
79. Bill Evans--Sunday At The Village Vanguard
78. The Beatles--With The Beatles
My penultimate Beatles album (Let It Be came into my life after), With The Beatles is another great batch of pre-writing-all-their-own-stuff Beatles songs. While it's not quite as good as most of their other efforts, it's still full of great, very fun rock n' roll.
77. Scott Walker--Scott
76. Duke Ellington--Money Jungle
75. The Beach Boys--Wild Honey
74. Silver Apples--Contact
73. The Byrds--Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
72. The Beatles--Help!
71. John Coltrane--My Favorite Things

70. Sun Ra--Heliocentric Worlds, Pt. 1
69. Johnny Cash--Live At Folsom Prison
68. The Kinks--Are The Village Green Preservation Society
67. The Beatles--Beatles For Sale
66. Frank Zappa--Hot Rats
65. John Fahey--Requia
64. Isaac Hayes--Hot Buttered Soul
63. Anthony Braxton--3 Compositions Of New Jazz
62. The Beatles--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
61. The Sonics--Boom

60. Nico--Chelsea Girl
Who knew that girl from the VU album could make good music on her own? Well, a lot of people did. And know I do, too. Chelsea Girl is a really great rock/pop/folk album anchored by one of the best songs of all time: "These Days".
59. Leonard Cohen--Songs From A Room
58. Cecil Taylor--Unit Structures
This is another addition to my growing collection of free jazz, and it's a truly awesome album. Cecil Taylor proves himself to be one of the best pianists around with his manic, loud ivory tickling. Unit Structures is surprisingly aggressive for a jazz album, and also surprisingly good.
57. Scott Walker-- Scott 3
56. The Beatles--Please Please Me
55. The Band--The Band
54. Terry Riley--A Rainbow In Curved Air
53. Eric Dolphy--Out To Lunch
52. Creedence Clearwater Revival--Willy And The Poor Boys
Nothing against CCR, I just lost a little appreciation for Willy. It's a great album--it's just not their best. It's a little too...something. And I still need to get Green River, so I'm saving room on the list.
51. Scott Walker--Scott 2

50. The Beatles--Rubber Soul
49. Roscoe Mitchell--Sound
48. Simon & Garfunkel--Bookends
47. The Jimi Hendrix Experience--Electric Ladyland
46. Sam Cooke--Night Beat
I've always loved Sam Cooke; his voice is arguably the greatest I've ever heard. But I never knew that he had made an amazing studio album--that is, until I heard Night Beat. It's a rare album in that it's an early '60s soul album not full of filler. It's full of classic songs.
45. Peter Brotzmann--Machine Gun
44. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band--Safe As Milk
43. Bob Dylan--Highway 61 Revisited
42. King Crimson--In The Court Of The Crimson King
41. Nick Drake--Five Leaves Left

40. Miles Davis--Sketches Of Spain
39. The Mothers Of Invention--Freak Out!
38. Pink Floyd--Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
I was never too keen on Pink Floyd until I heard this one. Sure I respected them for doing whatever it was that they did. But none of the music is truly exciting to me except for that on Piper. (It might have something to do with Syd Barrett.) Nevertheless, Piper is a wild, psychedelic rock album that isn't pretentious like Floyd's later work; it's just good, weird rock n' roll.
37. The Beatles--A Hard Day's Night
36. John Coltrane--Giant Steps
35. The Zombies--Odessey and Oracle
34. Pharoah Sanders--Karma
33. The Rolling Stones--Beggars Banquet
32. White Noise--An Electric Storm
This album is certainly one of the most important in the history of electronic music due to its technological innovations, but it is also full of genuinely great (experimental) pop music. While some examples of early electronic are messy bits of sound, White Noise mixes technology with great hooks and great textures that assemble to create great actual songs.
31. Charles Mingus--The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady

30. Van Dyke Parks--Song Cycle
29. The Mothers Of Invention--We're Only In It For The Money
28. Anthony Braxton--For Alto
27. The Monks--Black Monk Time
26. Otis Redding--Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
25. Terry Riley--In C
24. Miles Davis--In A Silent Way
23. The Sonics--Here Are The Sonics!!!
22. Can--Monster Movie
21. Bob Dylan--Blonde On Blonde

20. Scott Walker--Scott 4
19. John Fahey--The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death
My love for these two grew exponentially over the last few months--not that the two above albums have anything to do with each other musically or culturally. Scott 4 is without a doubt Walker's masterpiece; it's darker, stranger, richer, and better written than anything else in his '60s canon, and still better written than any of his later work. (It certainly isn't stranger than The Drift.) Transfiguration, like Scott 4, is an opus. Over the last few months, I've been listening to copious amounts of John Fahey (and followers/contemporaries of his like Leo Kottke, Peter Walker, and Jack Rose), and I like his music more and more each time I listen. I know a few of his albums now, but none are quite as amazing as Transfiguration. It's the right amount of fun and challenging, traditional and experimental.
18. John Coltrane--Ascension
17. The Beatles--Abbey Road
16. Sly & The Family Stone--Stand!
15. The Jimi Hendrix Experience--Are You Experienced?
14. The Beatles--Magical Mystery Tour
13. Leonard Cohen--Songs Of Leonard Cohen
12. Albert Ayler Trio--Spiritual Unity
11. The Velvet Underground--The Velvet Underground

10. James Brown--Live At The Apollo
9. John Coltrane--A Love Supreme
8. The Stooges--The Stooges
7. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band--Trout Mask Replica
6. The Beach Boys--Pet Sounds
5. Love--Forever Changes
4. The Beatles--The Beatles (The White Album)
3. The Velvet Underground--White Light/White Heat
2. The Beatles--Revolver
1. The Velvet Underground--The Velvet Underground & Nico
Well, there was only one small change in the top 15: switching The Stooges and A Love Supreme. So there.

That's what I think. Best of the '00s won't come out for a bit--I need more time to reflect.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Revisiting My Favorite Albums of The 1970s

Hey, it's that time of year again. Every year (starting--and probably ending--in 2010) I've kicked off Spring by revisiting my favorite albums of the decade lists. As I did before, I'll count down my favorites from the '90s then the '80s then the '70s then the '60s then, finally and counterintuitively, the '00s. Why? you ask. Because not only are my tastes constantly changing a little--I'm getting more or less mature (not sure which), more or less knowledgeable, etc.--but also I'm always hearing new (old) music.

The lists will be presented in one serving (a.k.a. post) and counted down from #90 to #1. When compared to the original lists, albums that are completely new to the lists will be listed in blue. Albums that have moved up ten or more spots will be in green, and albums that have moved down ten or more will be in red. I will choose to write blurbs about random albums that are listed in these colored fonts. The write-ups will be in grey. It will be awesome. Hopefully. It might be confusing.

I don't really know much about the '70s; they were before my time. There was, you know, Watergate and Camp David and stuff. That's about where my historical knowledge of the era ends. But what I do know is that more great music came out of that decade than maybe any other. Out of the '70s came punk, post-punk, krautrock, advancements in electronic music, hip-hop, disco, funk, and all sorts of other groundbreaking movements and genres. No other decade, on the whole, proved to be as innovative in the pop music world. (The late '60s were on par in terms of innovation, but the early '60s seem to be a little more boring.) Anyhow, the bottom line is: the '70s were awesome for music--maybe for world affairs, too, but definitely for music. (Oh, and the original posts are here, here, and here.)

Without further ado:

90. Marvin Gaye--What's Going On
89. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band--Clear Spot
87. Kraftwerk--Autobahn
86. Parliament--Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome
85. Pere Ubu--The Modern Dance
85. This Heat--This Is 1
84. Cluster--Zuckerzeit
83. Miles Davis--A Tribute To Jack Johnson
82. Robert Wyatt--Rock Bottom
As has happened on all the "revisiting" lists thus far, albums on the rear end of the list tend to get bumped the worst because of all the new additions above them. In this case, a few albums were able to hold their spots, but others were not. Too bad.
81. Pink Floyd--The Wall

80. The Beatles--Let It Be
Once I had Let It Be, I officially had every Beatles studio album. And though I'm a little embarrassed it took me so long to get this one, I at least have them all now. Let It Be might very well be The Beatles' worst album, but it's still a great album--which is a testament to the greatness of the band.
79. Throbbing Gristle--20 Jazz Funk Greats
78. Richard Hell & The Voidoids--Blank Generation
77. Gil Scott-Heron--Small Talk at 125th and Lenox
76. David Bowie--Aladdin Sane
75. Faust--Faust IV
74. Joni Mitchell--Blue
I'll admit: I finally get the appeal of Joni Mitchell. She's a pretty darn great songwriter. And although I'm not a huge fan, I do really like Blue now. So there.
73. Brian Eno--Before And After Science
72. Herbie Hancock--Thrust
71. The Cure--Three Imaginary Boys

70. The Clash--London Calling
I've lost a little steam on The Cure. They were up there with my favorite bands at one point, and they've fallen a touch. The Clash meanwhile, well, I've never really loved them. It's unfortunate, but it's true. London Calling is yet to move me. So these two punk classics had to get pushed down a little.
69. Leonard Cohen--Songs Of Love And Hate
68. Herbie Hancock--Sextant
67. T. Rex--Tanx
66. David Bowie--The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
65. Curtis Mayfield--Superfly
64. Faust--So Far
63. Sly & The Family Stone--Fresh
62. Wire--154
61. Jimi Hendrix--Band Of Gypsys

60. Brian Eno--Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy
59. The Rolling Stones--Exile On Main Street
If I don't seem like a huge Stones fan, it's because I'm not. And as much respect as I have for them and their music and all that crap, I just don't love listening to them. The reason Exile is this high even is mostly out of respect. The music's good enough, though.
58. Al Green--Call Me
57. Talking Heads--Talking Heads: 77
56. Nick Drake--Bryter Layter
55. Herbie Hancock--Head Hunters
54. David Bowie--Hunky Dory
More proof that David Bowie is probably Artist of the Decade for the '70s. I've known the songs on Hunky Dory for years, but it wasn't until recently that I had them all, in order, in my possession. It certainly showcases a tamer Bowie, but it's about as good as anything else you'll hear by him or anyone.
53. The Slits--Cut
52. The Congos--Heart Of The Congos
51. Black Sabbath--Master Of Reality

50. Giorgio Moroder--From Here To Eternity
49. Randy Newman--Sail Away
I loved Randy Newman when I was four. What kid who was four around the time Toy Story came out didn't love Randy Newman? Well, I kind of put him out of my life once I hit five or six, but in the past few months, I've given him another chance. Turns out: not only can he write great, inspirational, family-friendly tunes, but he can also write really clever, satirical, weird, and great pop/soul songs. Which is what he does on Sail Away.
48. Led Zeppelin--IV
47. Suicide--Suicide
46. James Brown--The Payback
45. Fela Kuti--Expensive Shit
44. David Bowie--Station To Station
43. The Specials--The Specials
42. Creedence Clearwater Revival--Cosmo's Factory
41. Miles Davis--Get Up With It

40. David Bowie--Lodger
39. T. Rex--The Slider
The three above albums are three great reasons why it's a good idea to look at great artists' whole catalogues. Just because The Slider, Lodger, and Get Up With It aren't necessarily the most lauded albums by the respective artists, they hold their own against each artist's opuses.
38. Bob Dylan--Blood On The Tracks
37. Tim Buckley--Starsailor
36. Iggy Pop--Lust For Life
35. The Beach Boys--Surf's Up
34. Miles Davis--On The Corner
33. The Ramones--Rocket To Russia
32. Kraftwerk--The Man Machine
31. Neu!--Neu!

30. Talking Heads--More Songs About Buildings And Food
29. David Bowie--"Heroes"
28. The Pop Group--Y
27. Can--Future Days
26. Iggy Pop--The Idiot
25. Devo--Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
24. Miles Davis--Bitches Brew
23. Steve Reich--Music For 18 Musicians
22. The Velvet Underground--Loaded
21. Iggy & The Stooges--Raw Power

20. The Modern Lovers--The Modern Lovers
19. Brian Eno--Here Come The Warm Jets
18. Wire--Chairs Missing
17. Can--Tago Mago
16. The Ramones--Ramones
15. T. Rex--Electric Warrior
14. Talking Heads--Fear Of Music
13. Serge Gainsbourg--Histoire De Melody Nelson
12. Brian Eno--Another Green World
11. Gang Of Four--Entertainment!

10. Television--Marquee Moon
9. David Bowie--Low
8. Funkadelic--Maggot Brain
7. Can--Ege Bamyasi
6. Nick Drake--Pink Moon
5. Joy Division--Unknown Pleasures
4. Wire--Pink Flag
3. The Stooges--Fun House
2. Kraftwerk--Trans-Europe Express
1. Sly & The Family Stone--There's A Riot Goin' On
So the top 30 changed like a Steve Reich piece: minimally. (God, I'm a dork.) Anyways, the point is, I guess I just haven't heard anything earth shattering from the '70s in the past few months. That's okay, though. These albums are plenty earth shattering enough. And I don't ever see Sly being knocked from the top spot.

That's what I think. You'll get the '60s list at some point.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Revisiting My Favorite Albums of The 1980s

Hey, it's that time of year again. Every year (starting--and probably ending--in 2010) I've kicked off Spring by revisiting my favorite albums of the decade lists. As I did before, I'll count down my favorites from the '90s then the '80s then the '70s then the '60s then, finally and counterintuitively, the '00s. Why? you ask. Because not only are my tastes constantly changing a little--I'm getting more or less mature (not sure which), more or less knowledgeable, etc.--but also I'm always hearing new (old) music.

The lists will be presented in one serving (a.k.a. post) and counted down from #90 to #1. When compared to the original lists, albums that are completely new to the lists will be listed in blue. Albums that have moved up ten or more spots will be in green, and albums that have moved down ten or more will be in red. I will choose to write blurbs about random albums that are listed in these colored fonts. The write-ups will be in grey. It will be awesome. Hopefully. It might be confusing.

This part--Part 2--counts down my 90 favorite albums from the 1980s. Starting on the heels of punk and disco, the '80s gave us a lot of unique and wonderful music. While the music from 1980 to 1989 is generally best remembered as shimmering, sunny, and corny, there was plenty that was anything but. Sure, there was plenty of new wave and synth-pop--some of which was great, much of which was terrible--but the '80s also saw the birth post-punk, noise rock, indie rock, and more; the foundation of hip-hop being laid; and the creation and death of no wave and other various punk and new wave related genres. Plus, Prince came to power in the '80s. Though we now recall John Hughes and Michael Jackson as the paragons of the '80s (not that they don't deserve it), there were a lot of people of equal artistic stature. If you want to compare this list with the original, see: here, here, here.

Anyways, here's the new list:

90. R.E.M.--Murmur
89. Tears For Fears--Songs From The Big Chair
88. Ministry--The Land Of Rape And Honey
87. The Stone Roses--The Stone Roses
86. Galaxie 500--Today
85. The Birthday Party--Prayers On Fire
84. Rapeman--Two Nuns And A Pack Mule
83. Arthur Russell--World Of Echo
82. Public Enemy--Yo! Bum Rush The Show
81. Talk Talk--The Colour Of Spring
These albums got the short end of the stick because of all the new additions. Rest assured, though, each one of these is still very good.

80. Crass--Penis Envy
79. Skeleton Crew--Learn To Talk
78. Modern English--After The Snow
77. The Smiths--Strangeways, Here We Come
I've begun to appreciate The Smiths more and more. I had always enjoyed the lyrics, but I was never super impressed by the music. I'm now impressed by the music. (The Queen Is Dead also moved up a bit as you'll see if you scroll down a touch more.)
76. The Gun Club--The Las Vegas Story
75. Ultramagnetic MC's--Critical Beatdown
74. The Misfits--Walk Among Us
73. Gang Of Four--Songs Of The Free
72. The Cure--The Head On The Door
71. Big Black--Atomizer

70. Leonard Cohen--I'm Your Man
69. Boogie Down Productions--Criminal Minded
68. The Gun Club--Miami
67. Nurse With Wound--Homotopy To Marie
66. The Cure--Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
65. Husker Du--New Day Rising
Again we see a chunk of red, and again it's due to new additions to the list.
64. The Pogues--Rum, Sodomy & The Lash
63. Glenn Branca--The Ascension
62. New Order--Brotherhood
61. Michael Jackson--Thriller

60. Dexy's Midnight Runners--Searching For The Young Soul Rebels
59. ESG--Come Away With ESG
58. Spacemen 3--Playing With Fire
57. New Order--Movement
56. Meat Puppets--Meat Puppets II
55. The Feelies--The Good Earth
54. King Crimson--Discipline
53. The Soft Boys--Underwater Moonlight
52. New Order--Low-Life
Low-Life, a later addition to my New Order collection, further proves why they're not only the '80s most consistent group, but also one of my favorite bands.
51. Adam & The Ants--Kings Of The Wild Frontier

50. David Bowie--Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
49. Bad Brains--Bad Brains
48. Beat Happening--Jamboree
47. Mission Of Burma--Vs.
46. The Human League--Dare
45. Gang Of Four--Solid Gold
I want to adore Solid Gold like I do Entertainment!, but I just can't. It's an excellent album for sure, but it's next to nothing compared to its predecessor. It's too thick, I think. But know that it's still certainly worth your time.
44. John Zorn--Naked City
43. Young Marble Giants--Colossal Youth
42. New Order--Technique
41. Talking Heads--Stop Making Sense

40. Prince--Dirty Mind
39. Minor Threat--Out Of Step
38. Eric B. & Rakim--Paid In Full
37. Talk Talk--Spirit Of Eden
36. The Cure--Disintegration
35. Modern English--Mesh & Lace
I've enjoyed "Melt With You" for years, but only in the last few months did I realize that Modern English were a brilliant band beyond their one hit. Mesh & Lace and After The Snow are both excellent examples of post-punk/new wave, Mesh & Lace being the superior and much weirder album. This one is full of dark, schizophrenic, very 4AD, very awesome post-punk.
34. De La Soul--3 Feet High And Rising
33. Mission Of Burma--Signals, Calls, and Marches
32. Pixies--Surfer Rosa
31. Public Image Ltd.--Second Edition

30. The Replacements--Let It Be
29. The Fall--Hex Enduction Hour
28. The Gun Club--Fire Of Love
The Gun Club is another group that I've fallen in love with over the last half year or so. After acquiring Miami and Fire of Love, I spent several days listening almost exclusively to Jeffrey Lee Pierce and his chaotic blues-punk. Fire of Love is the group's crowning achievement: it's raw, messy, dirty, and every other adjective used to describe great music.
27. Kraftwerk--Computer World
26. The Smiths--The Queen Is Dead
25. Prince--Purple Rain
24. Big Black--Songs About Fucking
23. Husker Du--Zen Arcade
22. Violent Femmes--Violent Femmes
Violent Femmes have been a favorite of mine for several years, which makes it all the more surprising that I only got their debut album a couple months ago; I had been living off a greatest hits collection of theirs. I knew I'd love it, and, well, Violent Femmes is pretty spectacular.
21. The Fall--This Nation's Saving Grace

20. Galaxie 500--On Fire
19. New Order--Power, Corruption & Lies
18. Beastie Boys--Paul's Boutique
17. This Heat--Deceit
16. Sonic Youth--EVOL
15. Public Enemy--It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
14. Spacemen 3--The Perfect Prescription
13. The Jesus And Mary Chain--Psychocandy
12. Tom Waits--Swordfishtrombones
11. Sonic Youth--Sister

10. The Feelies--Crazy Rhythms
You may have noticed The Good Earth, The Feelies' second album, hanging out in blue up at number fifty-five. Well, The Good Earth is an awesome guitar-y college rock album, but The Feelies' opus is Crazy Rhythms. Thank the Lord that this album was reissued in late 2009 (it had been out of print) because it's full of some of the best musicianship I've ever heard. The dual guitars provide an attack that is both minimal and complex, the Liebzeit-ian drums provide a visceral listening experience. If I'm gushing it's because Crazy Rhythms is one of the most aptly titled albums ever, and it's truly amazing.
9. Minutemen--Double Nickels On The Dime
8. My Bloody Valentine--Isn't Anything
7. Brian Eno & David Byrne--My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
6. Pixies--Doolittle
5. Joy Division--Closer
4. Talking Heads--Remain In Light
3. Tom Waits--Rain Dogs
2. Prince--Sign 'O' The Times
And you thought Purple Rain was Prince's masterpiece. I feel bad for only getting Sign 'O' The Times in January, but I quickly made up for lost time by listening to it (at least partly) every day from then until the beginning of March. (It's still in the car.) It's his White Album, it's his Trout Mask Replica, it's his--you get the point. It's his crazy, overblown double album, as varied in style and tone as both of the other albums just mentioned. The songs are fun, weird, long, and incredibly unique. He bends pop music about as far as it can go, throwing in all sorts of different structures and textures. He sounds like Sly, he sounds like Clinton, he sounds like Bowie, he sounds like Zappa. But he really just sounds like Prince, and on Sign 'O' The Times, he proves that his own style is one of the best and most unique in the history of popular music.
1. Sonic Youth--Daydream Nation
There's really nothing else quite like Daydream Nation, and I have a feeling it will always be #1.

That's what I think. The new '70s list should be arriving shortly.