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Friday, August 26, 2005
At Last! The Return Of: Music to Torment Customers and Co-Workers With!
Bangles Greatest Hits: What do you know, there is more than one song on here! Kidding, I kid...I've always thought the Bangles were unfairly dismissed as "just another" 80s girl-group, frequently unfavorably compared to the Go-Gos. But they're good musicians, and there's an infectiously happy quality to their music, especially their original compositions. And it's awfully hard to dispute that they had a good ear for which songs would make for good covers in their style. Best Song: The opening track, "Hero Takes a Fall"
The Best of Warren Zevon: A Quiet Normal Life: He makes me mad, he's so lyrically clever and gifted. It's a dark and cynical sort of approach to lyric, and I'm certain you must all be terribly surprised to hear that I respond to that sort of thing. The album itself actually makes for difficult listening. After a while, a certain sameness sets in to the lyrics and music and the whole thing blends together. I find myself flipping forward to random songs on a regular basis while listening to the album, just to get past that quality. But it's still terribly good. Best Song: "Werewolves of London" Cheesy, I know, but I like it best
The Best of Bardot: Yes, that would be Brigitte Bardot. A French import disc of the sex-pots musical accomplishments, notably in collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg. In fact, I'd almost go so far as to say that Gainsbourg is Henry Harrison to Bardot's Eliza Doolittle, only instead of passing her off as a Real Lady, he's proving to the world She Can Actually Sing. It's French Pop, so you need to have a high tolerance for that sort of thing, especially since it's old French Pop, so it sounds a bit dated on top of everything else. Best Song: "Le Diable est Anglais"
Justin Tranter: Tear Me Together: It's hard to describe this one. It's very...big sounding. And it's got a complicated, mash-up type sound. And it's very technically accomplished and compelling lyrically. In short, it's very very good, but I'm at a loss of vocabulary to say why it's very good, and I hate to have to cop out with the "it's a gay thing, you wouldn't understand" excuse, because while I think the music may resonate a little more strongly with gay listeners, there's nothing in the music itself to mark it out as specifically "gay" unless it's perhaps just the overall approach and impression the music makes. Best Song: It's toss-up between "Gag Reflex" and "Good Luck With Your Armageddon"
John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter: It's so very mellow...It's a bit frustrating, in fact, because Barrowman can sing, and as an actor he has tremendous charisma, but he chose mostly, well, the duller Cole Porter songs for this album. Yeah, they make good lounge tunes, but there's very little to get excited about. Best Song: "Anything Goes", but what I wouldn't have given to hear Barrowman sing "Love for Sale" or "Let's Do It"
The Mountain Goats: The Sunset Tree: Apparently my playing this in the store is responsible for a good number of the local sales of this album...I don't like the term "folk-rock" because it sounds dismissive, but John Darnielle is one of the few musicians who does seem to happily occupy the ground between the two genres. He's got a distinctive sound and voice that is compelling, and lyrically he can move back and forth easily between high emotion and playfulness. And really, how many artists do you know who can casually allude to Romulus and Remus in their songs and trust that their audience will get it? Best Song: "Up the Wolves"
Robbie Williams: Greatest Hits: This is the Argentinean import version, which seems to be the preferable one. Not only for the cover illustration of shirtless Robbie Williams, but for the Spanish-language versions of "Angels" and "Better Man" which are unavailable on the regular edition. The album as a whole is a great introduction to a fun and talented and unashamedly pop singer. It does lack, somewhat, in the omission of any songs from "Escapology" or "Swing When You're Winning", and the lack of any of the non-album songs like the cover of "Freedom" is downright criminal. The two new songs makes up for the lack, somewhat, but man there are plenty of songs from Robbie's first album that made their way onto this that could have been left off to make room for those tunes. Best Song: "Radio", one of the new songs
Bloc Party: Silent Alarm: I'm liking the direction English rock is taking lately. This, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs...I hear certain similarities between the bands, but they've all got their own voice as well. It's that clangy guitar sound they're all running with and the deliberately vague lyrics. If I had to make a distinction, I'd say that Bloc Party sounds English. They actually put me in mind a bit of the garage-rocky British bands of the 60s and 70s, the lesser lights of the music scene as it were, only with a more contemporary sound. Best Song: "Helicopter"
Paranoia Agent Original Soundtrack: The music here is so unlike anything else I've heard in any anime series. It's a mix of electronica and found sounds, it sounds more like an experimental alt-rock album than a tv show sound-track. Best Song: "Dream Island Obsessional Park"
Paisly Close: All on a Day: Let's be upfront, it's Celtic music. You have to already like it, a bit, in order to enjoy it. And a lot of it can be awfully self-conscious, which is probably why the more successful cross-over bands aren't really doing straight-up Celtic music. This is closer to a Celtic-rock fusion. The lyrics and music are Celtic, but they've got that fast guitar and strong beat you associate with rock. It's still got a little bit of that self-consciousness thing going on, but the music is strong enough that you can easily overlook it. Best Song: "The Fox", though "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is a close second.
Gothic Rock 3: Black on Black: Best of 80s Collection: A two-disc (!) compilation of the best of 80s goth rock. You know, back when goth music was just kind of pretentious, not the unintended comedy it has become today. It's an old album, I've just been in the mood to hear it lately. It's a good selection over-all, but it does have a preference for songs that "charted" which does give it a slightly more "commercial" feel than maybe the music should actually reflect. Best Song: A tie between Danielle Dax's "Yummer Yummer Man" and Theatre of Hate's "Do You Believe In The Westworld?"