domingo, 26 de abril de 2009

Teenage Fanclub - Thirteen (1993)

Unjustly savaged by fans and critics alike upon its initial release, with the benefit of hindsight Thirteen has revealed itself an eminently worthy follow-up to the classic Bandwagonesque; though not as consistent or refreshing as its predecessor, the album takes simultaneous steps backward and forward, retreating to a darker, sludgier guitar sound reminiscent of their debut effort A Catholic Education even as it blossoms to incorporate lilting string arrangements and glowing harmony vocals. Despite taking its title from Big Star's most gentle and optimistic moment, the record not only expands its horizons far beyond Alex Chilton-inspired pop but also maintains an emotional tenor that's largely bitter and disillusioned -- titles like "Song to the Cynic," "120 Mins," and, especially, "Commercial Alternative" reflect the band's disenchantment with both its former flavor-of-the-month status and the growing creative malaise rampant throughout the alt-rock community (then at its commercial zenith). Although Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley make memorable contributions, Thirteen is first and foremost a showcase for the peerless pop genius of Norman Blake -- the should-have-been hits "Norman 3" and "Ret Liv Dead" boast a crunchy, lumbering sound heavily indebted to Neil Young's records with Crazy Horse, while the soaring "Commercial Alternative" evokes vintage Byrds, a reference point further driven home by the epic closer "Gene Clark." [Original pressings of Thirteen included no fewer than six unlisted bonus cuts assembled from British singles -- the material is consistently excellent, highlighted by the McGinley original "Golden Glades" as well as reverent covers of Phil Ochs' "Chords of Fame" and the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Older Guys."]. Source: [AMG]

Teenage Fanclub - Radio

Track Listing
1. Hang On
2. The Cabbage
3. Radio
4. Norman 3
5. Song to the Cynic
6. 120 Minutes
7. Escher
8. Commercial Alternative
9. Fear of Flying
10. Tears Are Cool
11. Ret Liv Dead
12. Get Funky
13. Gene Clark


domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

The Vandalias - Match V (1995)

The Vandalias, from Minneapolis, play good power-pop with great harmonies, driving guitars and exceptional hooks. Following the single Build This House (Tenpop, 1992), debut album Mach V (Big Deal, 1995) is successful at what it does: copy the originals (Byrds, Big Star, Raspberries, Cheap Trick). Such is the evocative power of the humbly crafted toe-tappers that these popsters deliver.... The Vandalias high concept--a madcap band of cartoony heartthrobs bounce through zany adventures involving muscle vans and mini-skirts--is pure guile. But the music is so smartly composed and cheerfully presented, the whole shebang actually achieves an intoxicating celebration of teen-dom. Plus, it rocks wicked good.

Track Listing
1. In
2. Hey Now (Motor City)
3. Build This House
4. Have You Seen Mine?
5. Mach V
6. I'd Be a Boy
7. Knife
8. Watch My Baby Cry
9. Mighty Song of Joy
10. Fall Girl
11. Cathy's Back
12. Sky High
13. Done for You
14. Wait and See


martes, 14 de abril de 2009

Oblivians - Soul Food (1995)

On Soul Food, Jack Oblivian, Eric Oblivian, and Greg Oblivian trade off on guitars and drums (no bass) in a 30-minute album of guitar chicken scratching with bent note solos, some church organ, spitting vocals, and thud-and-crash drumming. The songs are delivered like a fire-and-brimstone preacher who dabbles as Mr. Hyde on weekends, full of spirit and depravity. Few bands sound as possessed by the belief in the power of rock & roll. Like similarly veined groups the Cramps, Tav Falco, and the Gories, the Oblivians often sound deranged in their preservation of the raw shaking beat of pre-Elvis manic and dark blues. The Oblivians honor the same canon of musicians, opening the record with a stomping cover of Lightnin' Hopkins' "Vietnam Blues." A legacy to the past is established but the party has just begun. The lonely screaming anthem "No Reason to Live" elicits both sympathy and a pumping fist in the listener. No one wants Greg Oblivian to end it all, but it sure is fun to bomp around to this track. Testimonials of faith in the culture and music that they love continue in "Never Change" and "Static Party." "Sunday, You Need Love" and "And Then I Fucked Her" would have some people looking for dust on the needle if it wasn't a CD. The bare-bones live production heightens the urgency; the Oblivians are desperate to get these songs off their souls. The Oblivians ignore the speed, grunge, and artsy angles bands pass off as the next stage of rock. They are dedicated to a sound: "Never Change" declares, "Like a broken record/I play the same sad song." Production and perfect playing are overrated; Soul Food's greatness is found in emotion and devotion. Source: [AMG]

Oblivians - She's A Hole

Track Listing
1. Viet Nam War Blues
2. And Then I Fucked Her
3. Big Black Hole
4. Jim Cole
5. Mad Lover
6. Sunday You Need Love
7. Never Change
8. No Reason to Live
9. I'm Not a Sicko, There's a Plate in My Head
10. Blew My Cool
11. Cannonball
12. Nigger Rich
13. Bum a Ride
14. Any Way You Want It
15. Static Party
16. Ja Ja Ja


miércoles, 8 de abril de 2009

Hüsker Dü - Candy Apple Grey (1986)

Moving to a major label doesn't affect Hüsker Dü's sound greatly -- although the production is more full-bodied than Spot's razor-thin work, the Hüskers don't change their blazing attack at all. Much of Candy Apple Grey charges along on the same frenzied beat that propelled New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig, and both Bob Mould and Grant Hart are in fine form, spinning out fine punk-pop with "Sorry Somehow" and "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely." However, the sound is beginning to seem a bit tired, which is what makes Mould's two acoustic numbers, "Too Far Down" and "Hardly Getting Over It," so welcome. Demonstrating that punks can mature without losing their edge, Mould inverts the rules of conventional confessional singer/songwriter songs with these two haunting numbers, and in doing so, he illustrates the faults with the relatively staid post-hardcore punk that dominates the remainder of the record. Source: [AMG]

Hüsker Dü - Eight Miles High

Track Listing
1. Crystal
2. Don't Want to Know if You Are Lonely
3. I Don't Know for Sure
4. Sorry Somehow
5. Too Far Down
6. Hardly Getting over It
7. Dead Set on Destruction
8. Eiffel Tower High
9. No Promise Have I Made
10. All This I've Done for You