viernes, 25 de diciembre de 2009

Alice In Chains - Jar Of Flies (1994)

Written and recorded in about a week, Jar of Flies solidified Alice in Chains' somewhat bizarre pattern of alternating full-length hard rock albums with mostly acoustic, ballad-oriented EPs. That quirk aside, Jar of Flies is a low-key stunner, achingly gorgeous and harrowingly sorrowful all at once. In a way, it's a logical sequel to Dirt -- despite the veneer of calm, the songs' voices still blame only themselves. But where Dirt found catharsis in its unrelenting darkness and depravity, Jar of Flies is about living with the consequences, full of deeply felt reflections on loneliness, self-imposed isolation, and lost human connections. The mood is still hopelessly bleak, but the poignant, introspective tone produces a sense of acceptance that's actually soothing, in a funereal sort of way. Jerry Cantrell's arrangements keep growing more detailed and layered; while there are a few noisy moments, most of Jar of Flies is bathed in a clean, shimmering ambience whose source is difficult to pin down, but is well served by Cantrell's varied guitar tones and even occasional string arrangements. And coming on the heels of Dirt, the restraint and subtlety of Jar of Flies are nothing short of revelatory -- though it was written and recorded in about a week, it feels much more crafted and textured than Sap. Perhaps Jar of Flies would have gotten more credit if it had been a full-length album; as it stands, the EP is a leap forward and a major work in the Alice in Chains catalog. Source: [AMG]

Alice In Chains - No Excuses

Track Listing
1. Rotten Apple
2. Nutshell
3. I Stay Away
4. No Excuses
5. Whale & Wasp
6. Don't Follow
7. Swing on This


domingo, 20 de diciembre de 2009

Bis - Social Dancing (1999)

As Bis' career progressed, the band's music changed ever so slightly. (Somehow, the word "mature" seems singularly inappropriate as far as this trio is concerned.) The D.I.Y.-punk influences faded into the background as kandy-colored, trashy new wave-dance roots took hold. Simultaneously, the bandmembers' calls for Teen C Power rescinded, leaving them without any message, genuine or manufactured, outside of pop music and fun (or something along those lines). Nevertheless, when it came time to record its second album, Social Dancing, Bis teamed with producer Andy Gill, best known as part of the socialist post-punk band Gang of Four. Following its transformation from a band of underground activists to Casio-driven bubblegum practitioners, Bis turned into the kind of group that would have been in direct opposition to Gang of Four in the early '80s -- all the more ironic, since Gill's production makes Social Dancing sound uncannily like a period piece. That turns out to be a blessing, since his shiny retro sounds make the album go down, even when the trio's kiddie choruses deteriorate from charming to annoying. Consequently, the record is more cohesive than the band's debut, but it never feels relevant -- and at one point, that's what Bis was all about. Arriving at the tail end of Brit-pop, Bis' first EPs seemed fresh, original, part of a new zeitgeist. But since that zeitgeist was all about youth -- and the fact that the members of Bis were teenagers pining for the golden age of elementary school -- sealed the fate for the trio; Bis was of the moment in 1996, and when that year was gone, the band would never again sound hip or relevant. To their credit, they figured out how to move on, entrenching themselves within new wave, and they have made an album that's pretty entertaining. But that triumph is compromised somewhat by the fact that the album ultimately sounds as good and is as substantive as a Haysi Fantayzee record. Source: [AMG]

Bis - Eurodisco

Track Listing
1. Making People Normal
2. I'm a Slut
3. Eurodisco
4. Action and Drama
5. Theme from Tokyo
6. The Hit Girl
7. Am I Loud Enough?
8. Shopaholic
9. Young Alien Types
10. Detour
11. Sale or Return
12. It's All New
13. Listen Up


domingo, 13 de diciembre de 2009

The Chemical Brothers - Exit Planet Dust (1995)

The former Dust Brothers make oblique reference to litigation averted on their debut full-length. The Chemical Brothers' sound is big on bombast, replete with screeching guitar samples and lots of sirens and screaming divas. A breakthrough album of sorts, Exit Planet Dust was, upon its release, one of the few European post-techno albums to make any sort of headway into the stateside market. Source: [AMG]

The Chemical Brothers - Chemical Beats

Track Listing
1. Leave Home
2. In Dust We Trust
3. Song to the Siren
4. Three Little Birdies Down Beats
5. Fuck Up Beats
6. Chemical Beats
7. Chico's Groove
8. One Too Many Mornings
9. Life Is Sweet
10. Playground for a Wedgeless Firm
11. Alive Alone


domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2009

The Lazy Cowgirls - Ragged Soul (1995)

Ragged Soul was the first album in five years from the Lazy Cowgirls, and from the first blast of D.D. Weekday's guitar on "I Can't Be Satisfied" it's obvious that this band was ready to make up for lost time. Against all odds, Ragged Soul sounds like the band's best album ever; the twin-guitar punch of Weekday and Michael Leigh offers plenty of kick with no clutter, the rhythm section (Leonard Keringer on bass and Ed Huerta on drums) drives the songs forward without crowding anyone in the process, and Pat Todd proves he's one of the greatest unsung frontmen in rock, pouring out fire and passion on every cut. The material is top shelf, too, especially the bitterly anthemic "Frustration, Tragedy and Lies" and "Bought Your Lies." Tough, furious, loud and proud -- Ragged Soul is roots-smart old-school punk at its finest. Source: [AMG]

The Lazy Cowgirls - Who You Callin' A Slut

Track Listing
1. I Can't Be Satisfied
2. Much Too Slow
3. Frustration, Tragedy and Lies
4. Who You Callin' a Slut
5. Everything You Heard About Me Is True
6. Never Got the Chance
7. Too Much - One More Time
8. Time and Money
9. Another Long Goodbye
10. Now That You're Down One Me
11. I Can Almost Remember
12. Still on the Losin' Side (A.K.A. Snake Eyes)
13. Take It as It Comes
14. Bought Your Lies