Editor's Note: The covid-19 ordeal definitely slowed down the pace of writing here at Somebody's Webpage. It's been two and a half years since my previous installment of this column which was intended to be a semi-regular feature. Hopefully we will get back into the swing of things and start posting new content on a regular basis. - Somebody
Audio Pile 2 - July 2022
Star rating guide:
- Excellent, a classic, a vital addition to your musical world
- Good, above average
- Just OK (or bad in an entertaining way)
- Dull, clichéd, or uninspiring
- Unlistenable, possibly conceived as an act of malice against listeners
R.E.M. - Fables of The Reconstruction (1985)
A fantastic forgotten gem of an album. The perfect combination of surreal jangle pop and post-punk rock rhythms, with Michael Stipe's always-enigmatic song lyrics.
Procol Harum - Grand Hotel (1973)
A dramatic prog-psychedelic masterpiece which evokes a historical world full of organ and orchestral passages. The mood alternates between ghostly, semi-apocalyptic, and playful. Truly an unclassifiable work of genius.
Trash Sun - Bill (2021)
This shoegaze dreamscape combines guitar experimentation with reverb-saturated vocals that try to find a reason to get up in the morning, and then go exploring in a giant abandoned shopping mall. Which may sound like a convoluted analogy, but the end result is the perfect sonic opioid for our dystopian times. (Available on Bandcamp and Spotify.)
Walter Becker - 11 Tracks of Whack (1994)
Three songs into this first solo album by the other half of Steely Dan and I found myself thinking, "I'm not worthy to be listening to this." To which I imagined the late Becker replying, "No, son, you are just worthy enough." In some ways this is the polar opposite of bandmate Fagan's solo albums (although he's the producer), and really recaptures the gritty eclecticism of 1970s Dan albums like Countdown to Ecstasy.
Siouxsie and the Banshees - The Scream (1978)
This adjective-defying debut is still stunning to hear decades after its recording, full of goth-punk attitude, innovative musical twists, and great lyrical concepts to make you think while you dance. Possibly the best album of all time.
The Stooges - Funhouse (1970)
This is one intense and crazy (and probably scandalous at the time of its release) record, propelled by Iggy Pop's vocal acrobatics. Within it you can hear several future genres of music waiting to be born. To quote one YouTube commenter: "Love the way it progressively descends into complete madness."
Yes - Union (1991)
The credits on this aptly-titled album read like an who's who of Yes band history (minus one or two people), plus a massive entourage of additional musicians, producers, and engineers. (In the credits I counted 10 extra synth players in addition to band veterans Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye.) The result is like a musical version of your 20-year high school reunion, with lots of merriment and drifting from one musical conversation to the next, with Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin as the cordial hosts.
Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (2018)
A newer band that we old guys here at Somebody's Webpage have decided are pretty darn good. This album could be described as a beat poetry performance with an experimental music backdrop, drawing plenty of influence from The Beatles and David Bowie, with a dash of Elvis Costello cynicism.
Europe (debut 1983)
Structurally solid Swedish hair-metal from the 80s, I'm putting this debut album in the "I can't believe I'm listening to this" category. It contains lots of minor-key classical influences, as were common with European metal bands in that era. It doesn't appeal to me much, but overall the thing is nicely executed, and the second half of the album has a little more pop influence and a couple of crazy-good guitar solos.
Rush - Hemispheres (1978)
As with many of their albums, this comes across as math-rock for the type of serious person who would have been studying to go into medical school or become a software engineer in the late 70s. The musical execution is precise and the tone is level-headed with minimal emotional distractions. "Circumstances" actually rocks but is followed with "The Trees," possibly the silliest Rush parody ever written.
Reviewed by Somebody
Copyright 2022 by Somebody's Webpage
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