viernes, 30 de enero de 2009

Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary (1994)

Sunny Day Real Estate's debut album, Diary, virtually defined emo in the '90s, laying much of the groundwork (along with Weezer) for the genre's end-of-decade indie prominence. Although emo existed (both as a term and as a style) prior to Diary, it hadn't yet risen out of the deepest hardcore punk underground, save for a few bands on the Dischord label. For all intents and purposes, Diary was the album that made emo accessible, fusing its gnarled guitars and nakedly emotional vocals with more than a hint of melodic Seattle grunge. SDRE's song structures are far more oblique than, for example, the similarly anthemic Pearl Jam, but it's still easy to miss the group's main inspirations if you're not looking for them. Perhaps that's because, at bottom, SDRE don't sound much like their emo predecessors. For one, there are plenty of quiet, arpeggiated passages and contrasting dynamics; for another, vocalist Jeremy Enigk is more of a crooner than a screamer at heart, and the underlying tenderness in his voice breathes majesty into the group's slow, languid melodies. Yet, while Diary's true heart lies in its soaring, introspective anthems (like the band's signature song, "In Circles"), the more tortured, visceral moments balance things out, preventing the album from wallowing in melodramatic self-obsession. In retrospect, Diary doesn't quite fulfill all of its ambitions — there are a few underfocused moments that don't achieve the epic sweep of the album's best compositions. That occasional inconsistency makes it feel somewhat less realized than their proggier post-reunion work, especially since Enigk would develop into a far more distinctive vocalist. But even if it isn't quite the top-to-bottom masterpiece its legions of imitators suggest, Diary still ranks as arguably the definitive '90s emo album, and an indispensable introduction to the genre. Source: [AMG]

Sunny Day Real Estate: Seven

Track Listing
1. Seven
2. In Circles
3. Song About an Angel
4. Round
5. 47
6. The Blankets Were the Stairs
7. Pheurton Skeurto
8. Shadows
9. 48
10. Grendel
11. Sometimes


viernes, 23 de enero de 2009

Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill (1986)

Perhaps Licensed to Ill was inevitable — a white group blending rock and rap, giving them the first number one album in hip-hop history. But that reading of the album's history gives a short shrift to the Beastie Boys; producer Rick Rubin and his label, Def Jam; and this remarkable record, since mixing metal and hip-hop isn't necessarily an easy thing to do. Just sampling and scratching Sabbath and Zeppelin to hip-hop beats does not make for an automatically good record, though there is a visceral thrill to hearing those muscular riffs put into overdrive with scratching. But, much of that is due to the producing skills of Rick Rubin, a metalhead who formed Def Jam Records with Russell Simmons and had previously flirted with this sound on Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell, not to mention a few singles and one-offs with the Beasties prior to this record. He made rap rock, but to give him lone credit for Licensed to Ill (as some have) is misleading, since that very same combination would not have been as powerful, nor would it have aged so well — aged into a rock classic — if it weren't for the Beastie Boys, who fuel this record through their passion for subcultures, pop culture, jokes, and the intoxicating power of wordplay. At the time, it wasn't immediately apparent that their obnoxious patter was part of a persona (a fate that would later plague Eminem), but the years have clarified that this was a joke — although, listening to the cajoling rhymes, filled with clear parodies and absurdities, it's hard to imagine the offense that some took at the time. Which, naturally, is the credit of not just the music — they don't call it the devil's music for nothing — but the wild imagination of the Beasties, whose rhymes sear into consciousness through their gonzo humor and gleeful delivery. There hasn't been a funnier, more infectious record in pop music than this, and it's not because the group is mocking rappers (in all honesty, the truly twisted barbs are hurled at frat boys and lager lads), but because they've already created their own universe and points of reference, where it's as funny to spit out absurdist rhymes and pound out "Fight for Your Right (To Party)" as it is to send up street-corner doo wop with "Girls." Then, there is the overpowering loudness of the record — operating from the axis of where metal, punk, and rap meet, there never has been a record this heavy and nimble, drunk on its own power yet giddy with what they're getting away with. There is a sense of genuine discovery, of creating new music, that remains years later, after countless plays, countless misinterpretations, countless rip-off acts, even countless apologies from the Beasties, who seemed guilty by how intoxicating the sound of it is, how it makes beer-soaked hedonism sound like the apogee of human experience. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but in either case, Licensed to Ill reigns tall among the greatest records of its time. Source: [AMG]

Beastie Boys - No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Track Listing
1. Rhymin & Stealin
2. The New Style
3. She's Crafty
4. Posse in Effect
5. Slow Ride
6. Girls
7. Fight for Your Right
8. No Sleep Till Brooklyn
9. Paul Revere
10. Hold It Now, Hit It
11. Brass Monkey
12. Slow and Low
13. Time to Get Ill


sábado, 17 de enero de 2009

VV.AA. - Sup Pop 200 (1988)

With the exception of the Melvins, at the point Sub Pop 200 was released the label had virtually every important Seattle band on its roster. Here 20 bands get to strut their stuff in the premainstream alternative rock world. And many of the bands that helped alternative rock reach its popularity are represented here, including Soundgarden, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, and Green River (which would mutate into Pearl Jam). Strangely enough, most of these bands do not have the standout tracks on the album. The Fastbacks try to steal the show with their charged cover of Green River's "Swallow My Pride," but the Walkabouts might have the best song here with their folk-rocker "Got No Chains." Mudhoney covers the Bette Midler torch song "The Rose," while the Chemistry Set have an impressive entry with "Underground." The Thrown Ups also show up with the best song in their catalog, "You Lost It." The album as a whole is really good; there are few standouts, but everything is solid. Many will buy the album for the Nirvana track "Spank Thru," which is decent, but hopefully those listeners will stick around for the good obscure grunge tracks included. Source: [AMG]

Nirvana - Spank Thru

Track Listing
1. Tad - Sex God Missy
2. The Fluid - Is It Day I'm Seeing?
3. Nirvana - Spank Thru
4. Steven J. Bernstein - Come Out Tonight
5. Mudhoney - The Rose
6. The Walkabouts - Got No Chains
7. Terry Lee Hale - Dead Is Dead
8. Soundgarden - Sub Pop Rock City
9. Green River - Hangin' Tree
10. The Fastbacks - Swallow My Pride
11. Blood Circus - The Outback
12. Swallow - Zoo
13. Chemistry Set - Underground
14. Girl Trouble - Gonna Find a Cave
15. The Nights And Days - Split
16. Car Butt - Big Cigar
17. Beat Happening - Pajama Party in a Haunted Hive
18. Screaming Trees - Love or Confusion
19. Steve Fisk - Untitled
20. Thrown Ups - You Lost It


lunes, 12 de enero de 2009

VV.AA. - Judgment Night: Music From The Motion Picture (1993)

The gimmick here is that on each track a hard rock act has been combined with a rap act: Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill, Living Colour and Run-D.M.C., and so on. The idea, as with Run-D.M.C.'s duet with Aerosmith on "Walk This Way," is to achieve musical synergy and commercial crossover, and at least the second goal was met when this album went gold while the movie it accompanied went into the dumper. But, as on any duet album, from Sinatra to Elton John, the concept has to be translated into appropriate pairings on good songs to really work. Sometimes, it has. Living Colour and Run-D.M.C. meld well on "Me, Myself & My Microphone," and Slayer and Ice-T make an angry thrash of "Disorder." But in both cases, the rappers are familiar with the style -- Ice-T has a metal band of his own in Body Count. Elsewhere, neither the rappers nor the metal kids sound distinctive enough to make a striking impression beyond a faithfulness to a hard, angry approach. Source: [AMG]

Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul - Fallin`

Track Listing
1. Helmet & House Of Pain - Just Another Victim
2. Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul - Fallin'
3. Living Colour & Run DMC - Me, Myself & My Microphone
4. Biohazard & Onyx - Judgment Night
5. Slayer & Ice-T - Disorder
6. Faith No More & Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. - Another Body Murdered
7. Sonic Yout & Cypress Hill - I Love You Mary Jane
8. Mudhoney & Sir Mix-A-Lot - Freak Momma
9. Dinosaur Jr. & Del The Funky Homosapien - Missing Link
10. Therapy & Fatal - Come and Die
11. Pearl Jam & Cypress Hill - Real Thing


domingo, 4 de enero de 2009

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters (1995)

Essentially a collection of solo home recordings by Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters' eponymous debut is a modest triumph. Driven by big pop melodies and distorted guitars, Foo Fighters do strongly recall Nirvana, only with a decidedly lighter approach. If Kurt Cobain's writing occasionally recalled John Lennon, Dave Grohl's songs are reminiscent of Paul McCartney — they're driven by large, instantly memorable melodies, whether it's the joyous outburst of "This Is a Call" or the gentle pop of "Big Me." That doesn't mean Grohl shies away from noise; toward the end of the record, he piles on several thrashers that make more sense as pure aggressive sound than as songs. Since he recorded the album by himself, they aren't as powerful as most band's primal sonic workouts, but the results are damn impressive for a solo musician. Nevertheless, they aren't as strong as his fully formed pop songs, and that's where the true heart of the album lies. Foo Fighters has a handful of punk-pop gems that show, given the right musicians and songwriters, the genre had not entirely become a cliché by the middle of the '90s. Source: [AMG]

Foo Fighters - This Is A Call

Track Listing
1. This Is a Call
2. I'll Stick Around
3. Big Me
4. Alone + Easy Target
5. Good Grief
6. Floaty
7. Weenie Beenie
8. Oh, George
9. For All the Cows
10. X-Static
11. Wattershed
12. Exhausted