Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 15: Procol Harum - A Salty Dog (1969)

I was first introduced to the title track by Transatlantic who covered it on their Whirlwind album, featuring my favorite dude in the world (Mike Portnoy) on vocals. Glad they did, as it led me to a pretty awesome album I may not have heard of otherwise.

A great album by a great early prog rock band. The title track starts this album off amazingly, with a piano and string-laden story of being at sea. Really an amazing song. The rest of the album is a bit more in the vein of 60s rock with some occasional prog touches. Overall a very solid album, looking forward to hearing more from them.

Day 14: Tera Melos - Drugs/Complex (2010)

Drugs/Complex is a compilation of an EP by Tera Melos and their side of a split record from a few years before that. It sounds like one consistent album though, somehow. At its heavier moments, this math-rock/noise band reminds me of the better parts of Lye by Mistake, but they are pretty monotonous for me. It's kind of dizzying throughout, even for me. I couldn't get way too in to it, though some of the musicianship is respectable. Complex, chaotic, frantic, noisy... sounds like something I'd be into. But something about its execution I just don't really mesh with. Oh well.

Day 13: Focus - Focus II (Moving Waves) (1971)

If you happened to have heard of Focus, it would have been because of this ridiculous, hilarious, awesome video.

The ridiculous yodelling and falsetto goofiness aside, the music is awesome. So I grabbed the rest of the album which that song is the opener for, and I was pretty blown away by how great it was. Almost the rest of the album is completely instrumental (thankfully), but most of the record after that song is really mellow and beautiful. Some really great classical guitar and piano with some flute playing in there as well, the album is just gorgeous. Reminds me a lot of I Talk to the Wind in parts, which is awesome.

Even when the singing comes back in later tracks, it is beautiful and clear, in the vein of the middle section of Close to the Edge. Definitely check this out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 12: Nurse With Wound - Space Music (2009)

Nurse With Wound, if you've not heard of him, is basically the main outlet of Steve Stapleton since the late 70's or so. They have tons and tons of albums, many of them being fairly different than the others.

This one, Space Music, is a 54 minute track of eerie, ambient sort of electronic noise. It sounds like something you'd play in the background of a sci fi haunted house or something. Or maybe an instrumental break in a Vektor song, haha. I later found out it was actually commissioned music for a planetarium, so there you have it. Anyways it's kind of interesting, but hard to hold your attention with something that ambient for a full hour. Being in the mood for it, it could make some cool background music but overall, pretty meh.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 11: PANTyRAID - The Sauce (2009)

I realized pretty early on in this album that it's just not really for me. It's like an instrumental rap album or something, I forget why I even added this to the list. Some interesting beats I guess, just pretty boring to listen to for 55 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 10: Razor - Violent Restitution (1988)

I'd never really heard Razor, and when I told my Vektor bandmate David I was doing this album-a-day nonsense he suggested I check them out. This album kicks ass! Every riff is solid and badass, and the vocals are really awesome too. Not much else to say, if you like fast, sharp thrash metal then check this out for sure. Beats Slayer any day.

Day 9: Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit (2010)

I guess I should preface this one for fairness; Agalloch's 2006 record Ashes Against the Grain is one of my favorite albums of all time. It has an amazing mix of mood, metal, rocking-ness and beauty that makes mid-paced black metal so cool. So naturally I was really excited to hear this, their first full-length album since then, and I was definitely not disappointed. It has some of their most intense, fast black metal parts in a long while, but also does not skimp out on the more ambient sections at all.

It doesn't top Ashes for me, but it may work its way up towards that upon repeated listens. Might have to take a long drive with it or something.

Awesome, awesome album.

Day 8: Skogyr - Rainchants (2007)

Skogyr's 2007 album Rainchants is actually really good. It's atmospheric sort of nature-based black metal in the vein of Wolves in the Throne Room, Drudkh, or Hate Forest -- but they are purely instrumental. The tracks are simply Chant I through Chant IV, with Chant IV being considerably better than the other 3. I looked it up later and found that 1-3 are re-recorded songs from an older demo and 4 is the newest one, so I guess that makes sense.

The middle two songs could be about 4 or 5 minutes shorter and the album would be just as good, if not better. Oddly it ends with a cover of the Silent Hill theme, which is interesting but kind of random for an album that seems to put such emphasis on the natural world.

Definitely check this one out if you are into that atmospheric black metal style, you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 7: Tiny Tim - God Bless Tiny Tim (1968)

Yep, I did it. I listened to Tiny Tim's first album. All the way through, tulips and all. And I'd do it again, dammit!

Tiny Tim is known for being a goofy, eclectic, vibrato-falsetto-singing, ukelele-playing weirdo that kind of looks like Russell Brand. But clearly there is a bit more to it than that... based on the strange set of covers on this disc he must have a pretty wide knowledge of old pop and jazz music, as well as much more of a vocal range than people realize. He even rocks some low, baritone-ish vocals in a few of the songs.

There is a lot of talking on this record, which adds to its cheesiness pretty heavily.

It's silly, and it sounds ridiculous. But there is something about Tiny Tim and his music that I can't help but kind of like. I have no fucking clue why. Pretty cool album, and I'm curious to hear what he was doing a few albums later...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 6: The Orb & David Gilmour - Metallic Spheres (2010)

I'm not at all familiar with "ambient house pioneers" The Orb, but when I heard that David Gilmour was singing and playing on some kind of weird, ambient electronic album I was definitely interested. David Gilmour is best known for his work with Pink Floyd (in case you live under a rock or something), and I've always preferred both his voice and playing style over Roger Waters'. Waters has grown on me more recently, but I still will always love David Gilmour a lot.

Well, as excited as I was to see what kind of ambient awesomeness these two could put together, it is a serious bore. 2 tracks, the first being 28 minutes and the second around 20, are pretty damn boring even for ambient music. Add into that a few lines of hippy-ish "freedom! human rights!" lyrics that only last a few seconds and this whole thing just left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

If you want to hear David Gilmour doing slide guitar to awesome ambient stuff, go listen to the intros from Welcome to the Machine or Shine On You Crazy Diamond. This thing is lame.

Day 5: Gnidrolog - Lady Lake (1972)

Yet another early 70's prog-rock band, as suggested by my friend and co-worker Andrew. These guys have a sound that reminds me a lot of King Crimson's works, especially with the heavy use of saxophone. The album is an alright listen, with some really great instrumentation, but the vocal style can get sort of annoying some times. Hard to describe why, it just has a bit of a nasally whine to it at times. Still an interesting album, but if this is the type of band you're looking for, you're better of just listening to King Crimson or Uriah Heap (or the many other great bands who were playing that style at the time).

Day 4: X Japan - Blue Blood (1989)

I've been aware of X Japan for a while, mainly through videos of their insane live shows in Japan. For those who don't know, X Japan are sort of a glam metal / ballad-y / thrash-y sort of rock band from Japan. Out there, they were (are) HUGE, but here they aren't really well known outside of their home land. Their main guitarist "hide" died a few years back and only recently have they started playing anything since the late 90's.

Anyways, Blue Blood was one of their first albums. The first few tracks especially are pretty speedy, and later in the album there are a few of the more symphonic rock and ballad type songs like Endless Rain. You can immediately tell this band is Japanese, even in their more metal moments, because they just sound so damn cheesy. Lots of major chords and classical style chord progressions going on. Still it's a fun listen I suppose. I really, really love the drummer Yoshiki. He not only writes and plays really awesome drum parts, but he writes the majority of the rest of the music himself also. Pretty admirable.

Overall the album is a decent run of kinda cheesy glam metal. I think I'll stick to watching their live videos though.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 3: Tyler, the Creator - Goblin (2011)

Disclaimer: I am, by and large, not a fan of hip-hop/rap.  There are a handful of albums that I really like (mostly older stuff and more underground, "artsy" stuff), but for the most part it's not my thing.  Suffice it to say I can't fucking stand rappers that just sample an old beat and then spend an album on an ego trip about their bitches and money.  It's boring and annoying to me.

That having been said... Holy shit!  This album is amazing.  Tyler, the Creator just released Goblin about a month ago, and after my friend Andy (whose rap opinions I can usually get on board with) played me a song or two of his I was definitely interested in what the rest of this album would be like.  I'm really, really glad I listened to it because it might now be my favorite hip-hop album ever.

Tyler's style overall is incredibly creepy and over the top offensive.  The beats are very dark and have a sort of ominous, unsettling quality about them.  On top of that, the lyrics and themes are really pissed off and funny.  Looking into it more, the album is a sort of loose concept album based around a conversation with his fictional therapist Dr. TC.  The rhymes are creative, often funny, and overall just smart and badass.  He seems to catch a lot of flak for being pretty "offensive" (he does throw the "faggot" around quite a bit, and there is a healthy dose of anti-religious material that I love), but it's not like being offensive is new for rap. Just about nothing offends me, so I just find it more entertaining.  Being shocking is part of what is so cool about it, and it's done in a way that accentuates his style rather than defining it.  He plays around with fast and slow rhymes, talking sections, pitch shifted vocals and characters, etc. yet with all of the experimental aspects, it flows together and feels like a solid, cohesive, and incredibly badass album.

I can't say enough positive things about this album, which is pretty damn rare for hip-hop I listen to.  Considering this guy is only 20 (!!!) and seems to be starting to get some MTV attention, hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more from him and the rest of his Odd Future friends. Go find this album and listen to it as soon as you possibly can.

It's hard to show how cool the overall album is with just one (EDIT: TWO!) song, but here is a sample.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 2: Massacra - Final Holocaust (1990)

I have almost nothing to say about this album...  A pretty average slab of metal, mostly thrash based but clearly on the path towards death metal.  There are a few decent riffs that are memorable, but overall it's a pretty run of the mill death metal album.  The title track is probably my favorite from it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 1: Camel - Breathless (1978)

The conclusion I came to while listening to this album is that I picked the wrong album.  I've heard lots of great things about Camel, and the songs here and there that I've heard I generally liked.  Stylistically Camel comes from the same 70's prog-rock type of school that King Crimson, Uriah Heep, ELP, Genesis, Pink Floyd, etc. come from.

However, Breathless seems like they were starting to move on from the prog and more towards radio friendly keyboard rock or something.  Wikipedia confirmed my thoughts... basically I need to go back and listen to Mirage or one of their other early albums.  Still, Breathless has some decent moments.  It's by no means bad.  Echoes is a pretty cool track, and the instrumental song near the end is pretty awesome too.

Another thing I noticed -- a few of the songs start sounding like Sonic levels.


I recently came across a thread on a certain music forum where somebody had mentioned the idea of listening to a new or recently released album every day for the whole year, and it struck me for a few reasons. Number one, I've been muttering to myself lately about how stale my music library is starting to get. I badly, badly need to go through and destroy a lot of the crap in it, and I also am missing a lot of things that I really like (or know that I would like, if I ever got to acquiring it). Number two, it gives me an excuse to stop being lazy and find more music, even if it's not always something I'd normally listen to. Trying to keep an open mind, as you will probably notice within the first few weeks.

So I decided to do a similar thing, but it won't be limited to "recently released" albums. The only two real rules for it are that it must be something I've never heard, and I have to write some amount about it afterwards (even if it's quick). I'd like to review all of the albums I listen to at least in some way, so months from now I will have this to look back to and remember what album it was that had that song I really loved by that band I can't remember.

Should be fun, and it may be hard to stay on the schedule, but I think I can do it. I'm already a bit late, so June 3rd will have 3 albums listened to and reviewed.

Drop a line here if you have any album recommendations that you think I might like. Still have 300+ spots to fill on the calendar.