Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pitchforkmedia.com

I want to take a minute to talk about this website, particularly because I've spent most of my music loving days with this publication.

After discovering the website in early high school, I came to appreciate them because they loved all of the new bands I loved, agreed with me on the bands that were overrated and plain bad, recognized the greatest albums of all time, introduced me to hundreds of new albums, and most importantly filtered out a lot of the music that probably was not worth my time.

I also want to talk about the website because of this. This guy says:

"Pitchfork, as this is one of those things that used to be cool, but is now not cool"

This is dumb, and maybe the writer of this blog agrees with me, because who the fuck cares if Pitchfork is "cool." This really pissed me off. Pitchfork started out as a indie music website, gained the status of a magazine, and then turned into a multimedia music broadcasting source. They play videos, interview all of the bands we would care about, show new music before it comes out, throw their own concerts, and most notably review every new album.

They became popular 3-4 years ago, and now they're not "cool"? Their popularity is because of their strong fan base, and their strong fan base is because they gained respect from people for thoroughly covering the underground music scene.

I understand others not liking them because they are pretentious, because they are as pretentious as it gets. But my argument is that they are allowed to be pretentious. They know more about music than pretty much any other writers out there, and they have managed to dictate the music scene from the ground up. Those two qualities warrant being pretentious.

That's not to say I agree with everything they say, as with anything I will have strong opinions of my own. They have blunders, they are not always right, but as a genuine music filtering source they are the best. Nothings perfect, but most of the time they come quite close.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ohhhhhh Talking Heads - Remain in Light



Let's finish off my first round of posts with the remaining decade on my list-- the often unappreciated 80s. the Talking Heads were responsible for much of the great and terrible music of the era, and even much of the music today.

This album is so crisp, it sounds anything but outdated, especially on vinyl and on my new B&W's. The album is characterized by sharp percussion, quick attacking guitars (at times 2-3 at a time), funky bass lines, multiple singers harmonizing over each other with David Byrne taking the lead, and Brian Eno's production.

I love how some songs start simple, some immediately start complex, and the instruments and sounds are added and removed periodically. All throughout, a minimal yet sharp and perfect beat carry the songs, and never stop. There's much going on, but the beat carries through, and makes you move your body.

This is the fucking 80s. Let's party.

Monday, February 23, 2009

B&W 683's

I just bought new speakers. This is one of the many times I am reminded why I work so hard:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks



I've been waiting for this album to come in the mail for a week now. Since I set up my turntable, and since my last post, I have bought a decent number of records, but I really didn't want to write about any of them until I got Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

Some say Van Morrison has the best rock and roll voice of all time, and that's hard to disagree with. His voice is his own instrument, and he treats it like an instrument. At times he can hit you so hard you feel it at the bottom of your spine.

This album is not easy listening, it's very personal. It's so personal that it's almost hypnotic. He evokes your imagination and your feelings in ways that no other musicians have. And it's really with just his voice...

His voice really carries the whole album. Every song is a poem, and every lyric can and should be read and analyzed.

Most notable is his ability to repeat simple words and phrases, with the vocal lines and projection fluctuating, for an extended period of time. He turns something simple into something so complex, it's really hard to explain but easy to feel when you are listening.

Probably one of the greatest records of all time, so naturally it's not possible to pick a favorite to post on the blog. Madame George is a classic.

She loves to love the love that loves to love the love. Huh? Just listen.

It's tough to write about this album, especially after this. But if you're looking for a great album and you have spare time to devote to this masterpiece then spend it with Van Morrison, it's incredibly beautiful.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

On Vinyl: Battles - Mirrored




This album is one big math equation. Lots of layered instruments. Not in 4/4. Excellent production and sound quality.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Vinyl: Radiohead - OK Computer



Obviously.

This was probably my introduction to good music, and definitely the album that made me love music. Although I was too young to hear it when it came out, I discovered this in early high school and instantly fell in love.

I was asked by a fellow music friend that I used to go to shows with in high school "which band changed your life?" I told her I didn't understand the question, I don't think any music in fact change my life. She told me to think of the band that I truly loved, the band that inspires me, the band that made me love music. Radiohead changed my life.

OK Computer started me on a journey to find good music. They made me look for bands that would give me the same uplifting feeling and would make the hairs on my arms and neck stand like they have so many times. I have had many successes and failures, but it all started here.

Through that search I have found it hard to find an album, as a complete album, that matches up to this one. It is the best album of the 90s, hands down, there is no question about any album that comes close in depth, musical ability through the instruments and vocals, and most important consistency. Every song on the album is excellent, and the album as a whole tells a story and flows from start to finish. There are not many bands in history that have accomplished such a feat.

The singles on the album, while great, are so well fitting into the album that it does complete injustice to leave these alone and simply listen to them on the radio. You must dedicate the time to listen through the whole thing. I don't pick through the songs, I listen from start to finish to get through their musical novel.

It's incredible to think of where Radiohead were before OK Computer, the monumental status that this album gave them, and the path they took thereafter. They match up as one of the greatest, most original, and brilliant bands of all time.

I really recommend dedicating time to this album. Pay attention to the layered guitars and piano, lyrics, feelings, production, and buildups that the record is so acclaimed for. It takes time to process, because the music is not simple, but that is always the type of music that is most rewarding.

Monday, February 9, 2009

On Vinyl: Television - Marquee Moon



I never hear about this album, I don't know why. That's probably why it took me until my sophomore year of college to discover this band. I walked into Caliban Book Shop, my favorite indie record store in Pittsburgh (it wasn't even a record store just a small music corner in a book shop with very knowledgeable staff), and they were shocked that I never heard of Television.

The band's landmark album came in 1977, arguably one of the best years in music. 77 was defined by many experimental and punk rock n roll bands and Television finds itself right in the middle of the two. Trying to stick a type of music to the album doesn't do it justice, I think it's almost in it's own category, but rightly gets grouped into the progressive and punk music of that era.

The album has some of the most raw and incredible guitar work of any rock n roll album in the 70s, and probably of all time. Not jam-style guitar work, just very edgy and well crafted, melodic and overlapping, quirky and roughly produced, with simple drums, base, and keyboards to support. The vocals are perfect for the guitar, very edgy too, while some may find Verlaine's voice tough to listen to as they purposely leave the recording raw and the production low.

The vinyl catches many of the low polished sounds and makes it a pretty unique listening experience.

The whole album is incredible, there is not a bad song. Marquee Moon, the title track, has one of the quintessential guitar solos of all time, lasting over 5 minutes, with both guitar players playing off each other.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's hard to find Good Music anymore

I've been facing a dilemma recently: I average about a 1:4 good album to bad album ratio recently. Unfortunately I've exhausted all of the greats and am forced to search harder, and so many albums that I hear about simply aren't that great. So what to do?

I bought a needle and preamp and set up my brother's old turntable. I started buying vinyls that I already have heard and constitute some of my favorite music. Some of my next round of posts are going to be the vinyls that I'm listening to, kind of as a filtered guide of my favorite albums of all time.

I bought In Rainbows and it made me appreciate it more (if that's possible), mostly because of the way the album is broken up into 2 on vinyl. You flip the record and it starts with Faust Arp, how excellent.

The 1/5 I bought the other day was the Pretender's comeback album, Learning to Crawl. Very 80s and catchy, I enjoy the female lead very much.