Audio Pile

Welcome to our new music column which will take the place of the former Favorite Album of the Moment (but the old FAM columns will remain accessible on the archive page). Audio Pile will feature short reviews of several albums from all time periods. We feel that this new format will be more interesting and informative for our readers. The focus of the column currently leans toward progressive rock because that is what Somebody has been listening to for the last couple of years, but don't let that scare you. There will be other genres mixed in to (hopefully) keep the column interesting for everybody.

Audio Pile - January 2020

Star rating guide:

five stars - Excellent, a classic, a vital addition to your musical world
four stars - Good, above average
three stars - Just OK (or bad in an entertaining way)
two stars - Dull, clich├ęd, or uninspiring
one star - So bad, it's bad

FM - Black Noise (1977) five stars

This unique and synth-heavy record feels like a visionary hybrid between progressive rock and late 70s new wave. Listening pleasure ensues in the opening seconds and continues until the end. Another great obscure Canadian band, not to be confused with the pretty good FM movie soundtrack that was released a year later.

Ty Segall - Twins (2012) five stars

Heavy psychedelic rock. Nice crunchy guitar sound and great vocal harmonies. Just a stunningly great album. Is Ty the best American music artist since Beck? You decide.

Toto - Toto (1978) five stars

I listened to this after being familiar only with their radio hits of the 70s and 80s, and found it much better than expected. Toto's debut sports keyboard-based pop eclecticism with elements of jazz, progressive rock, and disco, all performed with considerable chops. Features the fantastic "I'll Supply the Love" and their 1st big hit "Hold the Line."

The Private Press by DJ Shadow

DJ Shadow - The Private Press (2002) four stars

Almost as good as his groundbreaking Endtroducing album, the shadowy DJ's second effort revealed his evolution as a composer and incorporated keyboards and other live instrumentation into the trip-hop sample salad.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998) four stars

Dylanesque, folky and lyrically engaging songs with quirky instrumentation and production. This album is considered a classic by many people, but Mangum's underlying message is elusive and the music seems mired in tradition.

Script for a Jester's Tear by Marillion

Marillion - Script for a Jester's Tear (1983) four stars

The classic British band's debut was like an 80s version of Gabriel-era Genesis with dramatic (almost operatic) vocals courtesy of Mr. Fish. Released in 1983, it was probably considered too progressive and British-sounding for promotion in American markets. Maybe a little too stereotypically progressive (think Dungeons and Dragons), but they deserve credit for resurrecting a worthy music genre that was radically out of vogue at the time.

Bread's first album

Bread - Bread (1969) four stars

The infamous soft rockers' first album is probably more listenable than most people realize, with equal measures of psychedelic and country rock baked in for that down-home, slightly confused flavor of late 60s America. Features an early, slightly more rockin' version of "It Don't Matter to Me," which became one of their big hits after they re-recorded and released it as a single in 1970.

Every Night Something Happens by Lost Crowns

Lost Crowns - Every Night Something Happens (2019) three stars

A modern progressive band with a sound like early King Crimson stuck in a broken elevator with Zappa. Very atonal, but structured. The nightmarish quality of the music is made more endurable by the compressed, analog sound. Play it loud to kill a party. According to a comment I read in a Facebook group, this band is part of something in London called "the weird music scene."

Walk On by Boston

Boston - Walk On (1994) three stars

Their fourth and probably best album since their 1976 debut had a harder rock sound than the previous album (the ballad-heavy Third Stage). The "Walk On" medley is particularly good and Tom Scholz shows off some Eddie Van Halen guitar technique and also some of his impressive organ playing. No Brad Delp on this one but the replacement, Fran Cosmo, does a fine job on lead vocals. There are a couple of weak moments toward the end, particularly "Magdalene," which sounds like a hair metal love ballad left over from the 80s.

Wasteland by Riverside

Riverside - Wasteland (2018) two stars

This album is dark and brooding, like a 90s prog-metal version of Pink Floyd at their most depressing. This is the Polish band's seventh album, maybe I will give their first one a listen and see if it's more to my liking.

Reviewed by Somebody

Click here to leave a comment

Read previous Audio Pile columns

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...