Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stuff I Listened To Last Week – 1 Jan 2011

Every time I listen to a record, I leave it next to the stereo. On Sunday, before I go back to work, I re-file them all. Below are the contents of this week's pile.

The B-52's, Wild Planet
Just picked these up recently (at Cheapo in Cambridge), figuring I might as well check 'em out. The big singles from each ("Rock Lobster" and "Private Idaho", respectively) hold up remarkably well, both boffo new wave dance numbers that make you wanna shimmy.

But the rest of the albums didn't blow me away. I think the most surprising and disappointing aspect was how low-energy they felt, in particular the debut. These guys are supposed to be like one of the all-time great party bands, but I kinda wasn't feelin' it. Maybe I need to listen to 'em some more.

Both albums recorded in the Bahamas, incidentally. Maybe they shoulda just done a live EP in Athens to start with.

History of Eric Clapton
Pretty solid comp that stretches from the Yardbirds through the Dominoes. The Delaney & Bonnie tracks are particularly good. I think Clapton's at his best when he's in someone else's band, rather than out front. Don't get me wrong, he's got a few great solo tracks, but the overall body of work favours his sideman stuff, whether he's in a band with another frontman (Cream) or just a hired gun (Delaney & Bonnie).

What's really weird about this record is that it's a double LP with sides one and three on the first record and two and four on the second. I don't think I've seen another album like that, and it makes no sense whatsoever. You have to switch records after every side to listen to it in order. Even the more common 1-4/2-3 split makes some sense, because you can just flip the whole stack on a multi-record turntable. Heck, that Sinatra box I have is six records, and it goes 1-12/2-11/3-10/etc. But this one's ridiculous.

Culture ClubKissing To Be Clever
The wife was a Boy George fanatic in their heydey, and has all the albums. She even has an old VHS tape on which she used to tape any and all of their TV appearances. Anyway, when I put this on she said it doesn't really hold up that well. I think I was even more disappointed than she was. I can't really say why. I hate listening to stuff I loved when I was a teenager and realising it's just mediocre.

Flying Saucer AttackChorus, The Third Eye FoundationGhost
"Feedback Song" still totally pwns, and remains FSA's finest moment.

The liner notes say it's the end of FSA Phase One. The next couple albums were indeed pretty different. Lots of drum n' bass beats. Basically sounded more like Third Eye.

IsisWavering Radiant
Kind of unnecessary. If you have Oceanic and Panopticon you're pretty set with these guys. Another one of those bands like Mono, where I like their general aesthetic enough to keep buying their albums, which inevitably feel extraneous upon listening.

Jay-ZThe Black Album
How come no one's ripped off this idea yet? This is basically a compilation of the dozen-or-so hottest producers in the game each contributing a track and Jigga rhyming over them. It's terrific, was an instant classic when it came out that still sounds great now, and an idea just waiting to be replicated.

John Kongos
So psyched I finally found this. I only knew the two songs the Happy Mondays covered, but the whole thing's pretty solid. Drags a little on side two, but closes strong with "He's Gonna Step On You Again".

Pulled out the box to listen to Leviathan. One of my daughters was pretty into it, and into headbanging in general. Maybe she'll be a metalhead.

RadioheadOK Computer
My copy of this is pretty worn down, which is weird because I certainly own other albums I've spun more times that sound fine. It's a bummer because it's such a great album and I know I'll keep returning to it for years to come. Still, it's hard to justify dropping $25 on a new copy when this one's not that bad.

Saint VitusThe Walking Dead EP
These guys are famous for being one of the first slow-metal bands, but I actually like the faster stuff on here. They hadn't really perfected their doom sound this early, so the slow stuff just sounds like a regular metal song played way too slow.

Sigur RósMeđ suđ í eyrum viđ spilum endalaust
Quite a workout for the ol' character map on that one, but we pride ourselves on our accuracy here at the Shelf.

Sonic YouthMurray Street
Holds up well. Give it a listen.

TannerIll-Gotten Gains
So psyched I found this one on vinyl, and it's just as strong as it was when I used to listen to it back in the 90s. They sound like most San Diego bands from their era, but the vocals and guitar work give them a melodic edge that still sticks out. No idea why they never caught on, they were a great live act as well. I think the frontman wound up in Hot Snakes for a while. If you see this one, pick it up, it's great.

I always think I haven't listened to this one enough, then I throw it on once a year or so and am surprised to find that I recognise just about every song.

Sorry Jenny Toomey, but I'm filing this one under Unrest.

WireObject 47/Read & Burn 03
Wow. I can't get over how awesome last decade's Wire output was. Between this album and the three EPs (one of which is packaged together here) they didn't have a single weak release. These guys can reunite as often as they like and I'll be listening.

This is one of those bands I always read was good but I never got around to checking them out. I knew them from their late-80s/early-90s stuff and wasn't crazy about it. So I finally got this one and... not so into it. Maybe I need to listen to it more, but I can't foresee making time for it. I've got a lot of records. The one after it's supposed to be really good, so maybe if I see that I'll pick it up.

Return Of the DJ Vol. I
Hadn't listened to this in a while. Surprised to see how many names I recognised. This really was an impressive all-star lineup.

Metalheadz Presents Platinum Breakz II

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