Monday, April 30, 2012

Top 20 Tori Amos songs

Rarely do artists have such dedicated fans as Tori Amos. Tori is an artist who inspires either hatred or pure love, there seems to be no in between. To compile a list of top Tori Amos tracks seems an exercise in futility, since no two fans can agree on anything, whether it be song interpretations, let alone which songs are essential. There is never a consensus on which songs are essential and many throw away some popular tracks for unknown ones, which is good but still missing some essentials. Tori Amos is a unique artist and no two albums sound the same. She has gone from baroque pop, to simple piano or harpsichord melodies, to electronica to classical on her latest release. There's no telling where her next album will lead. Looking through her work you do see some common themes. The most common are womanhood, femininity, religion, relationships, motherhood (lately), selfdiscovery, and heartbreak. Throughout her 12 (13 if you count Y Can't Tori Read) albums she has approached all these topics and has always managed to maintain true to herself and her diehard fanbase. She has also had some pretty interesting friendships with writers and musicians such as Neil Gaimain (who she mentions in song frequently), Trent Reznor (who sang on Past The Mission and Tori herself has made several references to Nine Inch Nails songs and albums), and Maynard James Keenan of Tool (there's a live version of Mohammed My Friend with him on backing vocals). She has also cofounded the foundation RAINN (The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), a toll-free help line in the US connecting callers with their local rape crisis center. Amos herself was a victim of rape (and has inspired some songs such as Me and A Gun and Silent All These Years). She is an inspiration musically and as a person and here are 20 songs which are some of my personal favorites.I would also like to add how much of an incredible live performer she is. She really gets into the songs and has such a passion for what she does. Here is my list of top 20 songs. I know some notable songs are missing but it's very difficult to narrow this down to 20 but here goes.

#20 Virginia from the album Scarlet's Walk (2002)
This song is about America, Native Americans struggles and the bloody history America has been through. The last line is especially interesting "Virginia, you can't remember your name". Virginia was the first state admitted into the nation, many early states and cities had Native American names, and also the name itself,, maybe about how the land was pure but then was corrupted.

#19 Concertina from the album From Venus and Back (1999)
A song about being all the different personalities inside you. Tori had this to say about it back in 1999. "Do you ever feel like you walk in a room, and you don't know why, but you're just so uncomfortable you're crawling out of your skin, even though nobody's touched you, physically? That's in 'Concertina,' when you feel like you haven't excavated enough of your different personalities that when one pops up, you're not sure where it came from, and you try to hack it out of yourself. It shocks you that you could have this kind of fault, or that other people could bring it out in you."

#18 Take to the Sky b-side of Winter
Great song! It's about living your own life and not caring about what anyone things. An empowering song. Having confidence even when it's hard. This song should be more popular.

# 17 Bouncing Off Clouds from the album American Doll Posse (2007)
The Beekeeper album deals with topics such as death, adultery, and the Gnostic gospels. This song is a simple song. It's about keeping a relationship with a person by not making things to complicated. It's about keeping things easy.

#16 A Sorta Fairytale from the album Scarlet's Walk (2002)
A song about being open to receive love. not fairytale, real love. Love which means accepting people with all their flaws, quirks..everything. It also mentions travel, which is a theme on the Scarlet's Walk album. A very weird video featuring actor Adrian Brody where Tori is a head attached to a leg and Adrian is a head attached to an arm.

#15 Cornflake Girl from the album Under The Pink (1994)
One of Tori Amos best known songs. The inspiration for "Cornflake Girl" came from Alice Walker's novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, about a young African woman going through the ritual of female genital mutilation. Amos was angered by the idea that a mother could subject her daughter to such a brutal act, and the song arose as an exploration of the idea of betrayal between women. In the song two factions of women are referred to: the "raisin girls" are "multicultural" and open-minded, while the "cornflake girls" of the title are "narrowminded and full of prejudice"

#14 Bliss from the album To Venus and Back (1999)
It's about people wanting to enter your mind, know your every thought. Sometimes you kill your own thoughts so others won't have access. It's basically about taking control of your own life and having it be your own.

#13 Crucify from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
A reminder that we are not perfect and we shouldn't continue to crucify ourselves every day. There are also religious undertones, which is a theme in a lot of Tori Amos' songs such as the line "Just what god more victim" This song is also about religious guilt especially in the lines about dirty sheets, how religions shames us and makes us feel guilty for things like sex, etc..

#12 Strange from the album Scarlet's Walk (2002)
Many of the songs on Scarlet's Walk was written after 9/11. It's a bit of a political record about the US after that event. The album is about a journey all across the US. There are references to Native Americans, history, a girl going to New York, etc... This song in particular is one of my favorites. It has a very sad sound to it, the radio version gave it a bit of a country sound. Nevertheless, so soothing. This seems to be about a relationship gone wrong.

#11 God from the album Under The Pink (1994)
An excellent song about how can god create such beautiful things like daisies yet also cause death and disease. It's Tori questioning religion again. It's also about how religion is so male-dominated (for example, how some women cannot speak in church and god is always reffered to as "he") This is one of my personal favorites. In the video for the song, it shows a lot of religiously-themed situations. Tori is also famously seen dancing with rats and snakes.

#10 Spring Haze from the album To Venus and Back (1999)
A strangely optimistic song. This album seems to be about Tori coming to terms with her past and a sense of relief. It's about moving forward after years of unhappiness. There's also references to JFK Jr.s death yet this song sounds so hopeful

#09 Spark from the album From The Choirgirl Hotel (1998)
From the Choirgirl Hotel was a very different album for Tori Amos. It's the first where she uses a full rock band as backup and there are hints of electronica also. This song specifically mentions Tori's miscarriage. It's a very dark song and it seems like Tori is mad at god as well for letting such a thing happen. Here is what Tori herself had to say about it. "Y'know, once you've felt life in your body, you can't go back to having been a woman that's never carried life. The other thing is feeling something dying inside you and you're still alive. Obviously when it was happening, it was already over, but in my mind, you don't know that it's over yet. You're doing anything, thinking, 'Oh God, maybe if I put a cork up myself, maybe it'll keep this little life in.' That's why in 'Spark', I say, 'She's convinced she could hold back a glacier/But she couldn't keep baby alive.' You just start going insane. There's nothing you can do, so so you surrender and then... start again."

#8 Pretty Good Year from the album Under The Pink (1994)
Growing up, getting older, the passing of time. Greg was a guy who had written to Tori for advice, this is Tori consoling him in song. It's also about shaking the feeling of numbness. The burning CDs line refers to literally burning CDs, not recording blank CDs.

#7 Marys of the Sea from the album The Beekeeper (2005)
About Mary Magdeline, and possibly her relationship with Jesus. mary was a sinner and is afraid of being chased away from town. "Last time I checked he came to light the lamp for everyone" might be about how everyone has an idea of Jesus' message but it's universal

#6 Caught A Lite Sneeze from the album Boys For Pele (1996)
One of Tori Amo's best known songs. The video is extremely psychedelic and colorful. The album Boys for Pele was written after Tori broke up with her boyfriend and it does mentions her relationships with other men. It's a very interesting album in that it heavily focuses on women's role in religion and relationships. This song is rumored to be about Trent Reznor because Tori mentions pretty hate machine, which was the debut album from Nine Inch Nails. Tori says this album is about female's self-discovery in a male dominated world.Voltaire does a pretty neat cover of this song as well.

#5 Father Lucifer from the album Boys For Pele (1996)
There's a funny story about this song. Tori's father thought she wrote it about him but it happened to be about this time she took drugs with a shaman and had visions of the devil. Powerful song, the lyrics are way out there, even for a Tori Amos song. The lyrics seem to be about looking for those hidden places, those places we hide from others. Many Tori songs talk about this, it seems to be a universal theme. There's a really cool part in the song where all the voices all crash together, which I guess is like the voices guiding you, yet it all seems so confusing.

#4 Silent All These Years from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
This song is about finding your voice in spite of all the relationships you find yourself in. Tori says she was inspired after reading Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid to her niece and the story deals with the character losing her voice and essence for something else. The single was released to cause awareness of the RAINN foundation.

#3 Blood Roses from the album Boys For Pele (1996)
The angriest song Tori has ever done. This opens up Boys for Pele and what an opening! I think the song is about use and abuse. It's how you feel after being wronged. “God knows, I know I’ve thrown away those graces” I just love those lyrics. This song is solely played on a harpsichord, there's no other instruments but it totally rocks! One of the most requested songs from Tori Amos. Intense performance.

#2 Precious Things from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
This list is pretty Little Earthquakes heavy. I couldn't make a Tori Amos list without including this song. It starts slow yet builds in intense anger. It's about letting go of bad things. It also seems to be about insecurities and a girl who feels ugly, so she does sexual things to compensate. She feels insecure next to those "beautiful girls" and "christian boys". When she talks about "precious things, let them bleed, let them wash away" it could be referencing virginity. It also talks about moving forward and forgetting the bad things.

#1 Winter from the album Little Earthquakes (1991)
This song is about Tori and her relationship with her father. It's about a father wanting to take care of his daughter, and about her growing up into her own person and learning to love herself. He tells her to stand up for herself because he won't always be around. Powerful song and I love the music on this one.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Original and cover: Love Will Tear Us Apart

The most popular song from Joy Division. It has been one of the most covered songs of all time. The lyrics reflect singer Ian Curtis' problems with his marriage to Deborah Curtis, and the title is an homage to the Captain and Tennile song "Love Will Keep Us Together" It also talks about his general frame of mind at the time. NME has named it as best single of all time in 2002, Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys has said it is his favorite song of all time. It was featured in an important scene in Donnie Darko where Donnie has to leave his girlfriend to save the world. An important song, but in my opinion, not their best. I think that spot belongs to New Dawn Fades, Novelty or 24 Hours. Joy Division was one of the most important postpunk bands and this song was basically their legacy. The title was even written on Ian's tombstone. Their dark lyrics and Ian's singing predated the gothic rock subgenre, and were the first band to be labeled as "gothic". John Bush of Allmusic argues that Joy Division "became the first band in the post-punk movement by ... emphasizing not anger and energy but mood and expression, pointing ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the '80s." I first heard it on some 120 Minutes compilation CD which names escapes me. I wanted to hear more from this band. I was bummed to find out they were no more. I ended up getting the Heart and Soul box set which includes everything you really need to hear from them. Here is the original song:

Like I mentioned, there have been too many covers of this song to count, so let's start with the Cure's version. This version is pretty good, keeping the same spirit as the original. The basslines are a bit fuzzy and loud which distracts from the vocal a bit. Overall, a pretty ok cover. Joy Division did open for The Cure for a bit during the late 70s as well. Here is the version from the Cure.

Now, this version from The Swans happens to be my favorite and I have said before that this should be the only cover that should exist because it's sooo good. Actually there are two covers of this song from this band. Let's look at the version with Jarboe on lead vocals first. This version is my favorite of the two because of her beautiful, ethereal vocals and the nice guitar on this. It gives a whole new meaning, look and sound to the song. It's nice to hear a female voice interpret this song. So pure and beautiful.

The following is another cover by Swans. This time it featured Michael Gira on lead vocals, though Jarboe does backing vocals. This is more similar to the original, though (and many Joy Division purists will dislike the following comment), I feel Michael Gira has a better voice than Ian. Ian was more of an emotional singer but Michael is the better vocalist here. I love the use of guitar and the vocals of Michael and Jarboe here. This to me is the definitive version of this song, a must hear.
The last cover is from bossa nova group, Nouvelle Vague (which roughly translates to new wave). Nouvelle Vague are a covers band, but they cover 80s and new wave song in a bossa nova style. They have covered songs from The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, XTC, The Church, Depeche Mode, PiL, among others. I love their album and it's always awesome to hear this old classics in a different form. The singer has a very strong French accent so it might not be for everyone. I happen to like how awkward it sounds. Here's Nouvelle Vague's cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart.

The list is endless of bands who have covered this. It has been covered by U2, Fall Out Boy, Heavens, New Order (which is Joy Division minus Ian), Bjork, Dave Gahan, Thom Yorke (of Radiohead), Jose Gonzalez, Apoptygma Berzerk, Moonspell, Arcade Fire, John Frusciante, among tons others. I think only Love Song by The Cure has been covered by more artists. Nevertheless, check out the covers I posted. Thanks again!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Currently listening to: Week of April 23,2012

To really hear an artist's work, you must look past the hit singles. The entire album is worth hearing to truly get a glimpse of it all in one body of work. Here are some of the albums I am listening to this week.

Iggy and the Stooges - Live at ATP 2010 (2012)

Limited edition release for Record Store Day. This album features Iggy and the Stooges performing the entire Raw Power record live. This record only includes a few songs from Raw Power. It also includes Funhouse and other songs. It sounds completely incredible live, especially on vinyl. There is also a 13 minute interview included where Iggy sounds a bit tired and talks about some upcoming book and the tour. Included on the vinyl is a download code where you can download the entire performance for free! This shows what an incredible vocalist Iggy is and such energy for his age! Hurry and purchase because this is limited to 1,000 copies. Here's a few of the tracks.

I Wanna Be Your Dog:
Death Trip

R.E.M - Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)

One of the top 3 best R.E.M. albums ever. It's a more upbeat album compared to their previous Fables of the Reconstruction. There were only 2 singles from this album released, Fall On Me (which talks about acid rain) and their cover of the Clique's Superman (sung by Mike Mills). Even though there were only 2 singles from this album, there were tons of classic songs, including Cuyahoga (which talks about the infamous river which was so polluted it caught fire), and Begin The Begin (which is fast becoming a favorite of mine). One of the important albums released in the 1980s. Here are some examples of songs from this album:

Fall On Me:
Swan Song H:

T. Rex - Electric Warrior (1971)

The biggest selling album in the US in 1971, this even peaked on the US charts at #32. This includes some of T. Rex's greatest hits including Bang a Gong (their only US hit) and Jeepster. Produced by Toni Visconti (who would later work with David Bowie), this album is rocking, yet touching. Sadly, vocalist Marc Bolan died in 1977, but this music lives on and it still used in movies and TV shows. This is the first glam rock record, and it preceded Bowie's huge success. Here are some of my favorites from this album.


Cosmic Dancer:
Life's A Gas:

Depeche Mode - Ultra (1997)

When this was released, I was originally not a fan of this album. I wasn't used to this new sound. It was darker, not as upbeat as I was used to from this band. Barrel of a Gun was the first single and it has now become one of my favorite songs. It's interesting when you find out this was written after Alan Wilder left the group, Martin Gore was suffering from seizures, Dave Gahan was battling drug use and Fletch was having emotional issues. This influenced the song and the album. It's No Good, Useless, and Home were also singles from this album. There's also an excellent version of Sister of Night which Martin Gore sang on the Exciter tour which is pure emotion. One of the great 90s albums. Here are some great songs:

Barrel of A Gun:
Sister of Night:

Oingo Boingo - Only a Lad (1981)
Coming out of the Los Angeles early new wave/punk scene from the early 80s, this album establishes Oingo Boingo as a new wave group (they were previously a cabaret act). This albums mentions social taboos (especially in the tongue-in-cheek Little Girls, and Nasty Habits). The music was a mixture of new wave, ska, jazz, even heavy metal. A very diverse record which features vocalist Danny Elfman (who is now known more for his soundtrack work with Tim Burton). Local Los Angeles radio station KROQ constantly played songs like Only A Lad, and Little Girls. They later influenced groups such as Mr. Bungle and Nirvana. It's hard to believe how young this band was and how much influence they had later on. Listen to these songs:
Only A Lad:
Little Girls:
Nasty Habits:

That's it for this week. This was a fun trip back through time.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Live videos of The Cure from the Wish Era.. Play Out!

Yesterday on April 21, along with it being the iconic Iggy Pop's 65th birthday was also Robert Smith of The Cure's 53rd birthday. It was also Record Store Day, which included a reissue of The Cure's Friday I'm In Love single, along with a live album from Iggy and the Stooges. I already talked about Iggy in my previous post so we'll talk about The Cure this time. The Cure have been rereleasing all their studio albums, and the Wish deluxe edition is due this year. Previous deluxe edition have included rare demos, live tracks, and early studio versions of songs that made those albums and some that didn't. Let's hope the upcoming Wish deluxe edition brings us more of the same. I love the live songs from this era. There were 2 excellent live albums released by The Cure in 1993, Show and Paris which show some of the non-singles from that album such as From The Edge of The Deep Green Sea and Doing the Unstuck. Play Out (only available on VHS) collects songs from that era including rarely heard songs like Harold and Joe. This VHS contains clips from the Jonathan Ross show, MTV Unplugged and the Brit Awards. Luckily, youtube has the entire thing in 9 parts. I'm hoping they release it on DVD someday. In my meantime it's available online. Here is the playlist:

or if you wish to see the individual parts...

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Part 5:
Part 6:
Part 7:
Part 8:
Part 9:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Iggy Pop's birthday! Top 20 of Iggy Pop (and the Stooges)

Iggy Pop (born James Osterberg) was born on April 21, 1947. Today marks his 65th birthday. Iggy Pop has been at the forefront of punk music ever since he joined The Stooges in the 60s and continues to record to this day. Iggy Pop stands as a reminder of what can accomplish by sticking to his guns. From his work with the Stooges, to his albums he recorded with David Bowie in Berlin in the 70s, to recording a top 40 song in the 1990, to rejoining the Stooges and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, Iggy Pop is one of the greatest artist and frontmen EVER! There is no one alive who can compare to his energy on stage, at any age. To be he will always be timeless and his music (especially his collaborations with Bowie) are some of the best music recorded ever. What I have always loved about Iggy is his determinations, his willingless to make mistakes, and all through it all, his honesty. His honesty will everything he does. Many great musicians have sold out, or faded away, Iggy is still here, and he was there before they were even born. I first got into Iggy from picking up a copy of his No Values album from Goodwill on a whim. I was aware of his iconic image and his influence on people from almost every musical background. I loved what I heard and I wanted to hear more. I started listening to his collaborations with Bowie (The Idiot and Lust for Life), and I just loved the intense rawness of the original version of China Girl. It blows Bowie's version out of the water. I recognized the beginning part of Nightclubbing being used on Nine Inch Nail's Closer, etc.. His influence is beyond almost any other performer. Here we will explore some of my personal favorite songs from Iggy Pop. I am one of his biggest fans and this will be a hard one to really narrow down to 20 songs, but I will give it a shot.

Johanna from the album Kill City (1997)

Ha! The first song on this list with a girl's name. This is from the Kill City album. A very sludgy album, but a taste of solo Iggy to come. A simple song. Iggy doing what he does best.

Candy from the album Brick By Brick (1990)
Duet with Kate Pierson of B-52s fame. This is the only Iggy Pop song to ever crack the US top 40, peaking at #28. It's a duet that talks about lost love and that the woman misses him too. A strangely sweet song from the Godfather of Punk rock. I'm still surprised this was a hit for Iggy.

Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell from Raw Power (1973)
Raw Power is such an intense album. Bowie later referenced this song in his entitled The Pretty Things Are Going to hell. One of the best opening riffs to any Stooges song. This must be played loud!

I'm Bored from No Values (1979)
A simple song about boredom. Songs do not always have to have some deeper meaning. A person fed up with society and everything and feeling bored. One of the first Iggy Pop songs i remember hearing.

Repo Man from the album Repo Man soundtrack (1984)
Recorded for the soundtrack of the same name. This song was written specifically for the movie. This soundtrack was on my list of top 25 of all time.

Kill City from the album Kill City (1977)
Great collaboration with James Williamson. A dirty, rocking song. It was also recorded by the Stooges live. The album Kill city is now available in remastered form.

Tiny Girls from the album The Idiot (1977)
One of the most underrated songs on The Idiot. Supposedly about how young girls are not much different than older ones. Bowie plays sax on this song. Covered by Martin Gore of Depeche Mode.

No Fun from The Stooges (1969)
One of the best known songs from the Stooges. Iggy and the Stooges really pioneered punk rock and would go on to influence a ton of bands in the 1970s, Iggy was doing it all in the 60s. A very carefree song.

Funtime from the album The Idiot (1977)
Covered by Peter Murphy and R.E.M. A really upbeat song which predated new wave. Bowie sings backup on this and it sounds like a Bowie song. I linked to the version Iggy did with Bowie on the Dinah Shore show. What a showman!

Fix Me (Black Flag cover with the band Mother Superior) from the album Rise Above (2002)
Henry Rollins got a bunch of musicians to cover Black Flag songs for a tribute album, including people like Keith Morris, Dean Ween, Ryan Adams, Ice T, and Iggy Pop. This is one of my favorites and it makes you wonder what would happen if Iggy Pop fronted Black Flag. One of the best Black Flag songs and one of the best covers.

1969 from The Stooges (1969)
From their debut album, check out the cover from Sisters of Mercy. This song is basically about alienation, boredom of living in the small town and wanting exitement, which is basically what punk rock is about. Great energy and excellent guitar riffs in here.

Some Weird Sin from Lust for Life (1977)
A great song from Lust for Life. Not really appreciated as others. I believe this song is about an outcast in a world that doesn't even want you anyways. A very existential song and you reallly feel Bowie's touch on this. This song features Tony Sales who would later join David Bowie in the band Tin Machine

Well, Did You Evah! (duet with Debbie Harry) from the album Red Hot and Blue (1990)
Duet with Debbie Harry of Blondie, this is a cover of a Cole Porter song. Two icons of new wave and punk together at last. A very kitschy song. It's worth hearing. I find it cute.

Aisha (w/Death In Vegas) from the album The Contino Sessions (1999) 
A collaboration with the electronic group Death In Vegas, also the name of my Fiancee! I remember first singing this to my now-fiancee back in high school and how freaked out she was. The song is just spoken and it's really cool how Iggy shouts "AISHA!!" The video features a woman being chased around, but at the end there's a twist. One of the coolest songs from Iggy.

Raw Power from the album Raw Power (1973)
This is what punk rock is about. I saw Peter Murphy perform this live once. This is the ultimate song from Iggy and one of the best songs ever. The energy, manicness and power this song brings is incomparable.

The Passenger from the album Lust for Life (1977)
One of the most covered songs from Iggy Pop, it has been covered by David Bowie, R.E.M.,Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees among others. A simple song with very distinct chords, about being a passenger and riding around town. Simple, yet such a fun song.

China Girl from the album The Idiot (1977)
Most people are familiar with David Bowie's version of this song, which makes it more pop sounding and overproduced. Iggy's version is much more awesome. Iggy made this song so much darker, I love his delivery when he says "It's in the whites of my eyes!" and he just screams it! Just passion

I Wanna Be Your Dog from The Stooges (1969)
The lyrics have been described as evoking a sense of lubricity and self-loathing, a monument to a state of blue-collar tedium and alienation of their era, late 1960s industrial Michigan. This is from the Stooges debut album. A song about submission. Many Stooges songs were dark in that sense and were not afraid to mention sex and drugs.

Nightclubbing from the album The Idiot (1977)
Famously used in the movie Trainspotting. Nine Inch Nails sampled this for their song Closer and it has been covered by Peter Murphy and Trent Reznor. My love for this song stems from the fact that it's called Nightclubbing, yet Iggy sounds like a zombie when he sings this and it's really not a song you imagine when you think of Nightclubbing. Genious.

Search and Destroy from the album Raw Power (1973)
I really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers version of this. Iggy Pop said that he pulled the title "from a column heading in a Time article about the Vietnam War."One of the best intros to a song ever "I'm a streetwalking cheetah with a a heart full of napalm I'm a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb, I am a world's forgotten boy, the one who searches and destroys" Lyrically and musically, The best song ever by Iggy and the Stooges.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Best performances at Coachella 2012

 The Coachella Music and Arts Festival is an annual 3-day music festival held in Indio, California. It competes with Lollapalloza, Pitchfork, and many other music festivals. It plays host to mostly indie rock bands but has also had genres such as hiphop, pop, punk rock, metal, among others. Bands who have played at Coachella include Iggy and the Stooges, Tool. Rage Against the Machine, Bjork, The Arcade Fire, Love and Rockets, The Cure, Prince, Bauhaus, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Janes Addiction, among many others. This year's lineup was subpar in my opinion, though here are some highlights from this year, which saw many bands reunite for the first time in years.

The Buzzcocks

The Buzzcocks are an English punk band formed by Pete Shelly and Howard Devoto (later of the postpunk band Magazine). They were one of the innovators of "pop-punk" and would later influence punk bands in years to come, including every band on Lookout Records, Green Day, and basically every punk band who had a pop edge. They are also one of the most influencial bands to come out of the Manchester music scene (which would later include bands like Joy Division, New Order, The Happy Mondays, The Smiths, Stone Roses, etc..) Smiths drummer Mike Joyce joined the band and played drums for them in 1990-1991. Their songs are infectious, catchy and lyrically brilliant. Some of their best known songs are What Do I Get, Harmony in My Head, Everybody's Happy Nowadays, Ever Fallen In Love, Orgasm Addict..etc.. Most can be found on the Singles Going Steady collection. Another one of my personal favorites is I Believe, which is also one of their longest songs. Here is the band playing it live at this year's Coachella.

The Buzzcocks - I Believe

Florence and the Machine

Florence and the Machine is one of the few new bands worth talking about. Their music is moving, catchy, passionate, and warm. Florence Welsh has one of the best voices in music today. I previously mentioned their Unplugged performance, where you really see them shine. They only have 2 albums to their name, but expect this band to be around for a while. Florence is one of those rare female singers who has a presence, a strong voice. I can see a lot of influence from people such as Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux, and Bjork in Florence. That is great company to be in. This was one of highlights of Coachella this year. Check out Cosmic Love.

Florence and the Machine - Cosmic Love


James is another great band to come out of the Manchester music scene. They formed in the early 1980s, but did not achieve success until the 90s with their album Laid. They have toured with such notable artists as The Smiths and Neil Young. Brian Eno even produced a few albums with them. Morrissey even called them one of the best bands in the world back in 1983 and he covered their song What's the World. Here is James with their only hit in the US, Laid.

James - Laid


One of the great reunions of this year's Coachella. Refused are a hardcore punk band from Sweden who achieved success with their 1998 album, The Shape of Punk To Come, which would find an audience after the band broke up. It has been named one of the most influencial hardcore punk albums of all time. The album was a "punk" album but includes jazz interludes, and even techno sounds, It challenged what it punk rock was all about. That's why it's an important record. It's refreshing that these guys are back. Here is Refused with Liberation Frequency.

Refused - Liberation Frequency

 At the Drive-In
 At The Drive-In are a post-hardcore band from Texas who reunited at Coachella for the first time in nearly 10 years. Formed in Texas, the band gained a following because of their intense live shows, surreal lyrics and unorthodox guitar melodies. They achieved success on their 2000 album, Relationship of Command. They were signed to Grand Royal Records, which was started by The Beastie Boys. Iggy Pop appears on 2 tracks on this album, and it was produced by Ross Robinson (who also produced Korn and The Cure). The album included hit singles such as One Armed Scissor and Pattern Against User. Soon after this album was released, the band broke up and morphed into The Mars Volta and Sparta. The band decided to get back together for this performance and a performance in Australia but no talks of recording new songs. Here is Pattern Against User.

At the Drive-In - Pattern Against User

One of the original ska bands, Madness is mostly known here in the US for their song Our House. They have tons of other singles and have been making music since the 70s. Other hit songs include One Step Beyond, Ghost Town and House of Fun. This is one of the most exciting bands at Coachella, and I love that they have these veterans on stage. They released their most recent album in 2009. Check out the clip of House of Fun.

Madness - House of Fun

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Currently listening to: Week of April 16,2012

To really hear an artist's work, you must look past the hit singles. The entire album is worth hearing to truly get a glimpse of it all in one body of work. Here are some of the albums I am listening to this week.

This week will mostly focus on new and recent albums from a few bands wanting to make a comeback. We will be looking at some recent albums from the past few months starting with Candlebox:

Candlebox - Love Stories and Other Musings (2012)

You might remember Candlebox from their radio hits, Far Behind, You, or Simple Lessons. The Seattle-based band's 4th studio album still show they have the raw energy they have always had. They really show tons of energy on songs like Youth in Revolt, Believe in Me and Turn Your Heart Around. There are only about 9 new songs here. The other 5 are rerecordings of some of their best known hits, including Cover Me and You. Here are some songs to check out.
Believe In It:
Turn Your Heart Around:

Counting Crows - Underwater Sunshine (2012)

Counting Crows were one of the most important rock bands of the 90s. They had songs like Mr. Jones, Round Here and Long December which were all over the radio. They recently go released from their major label and have joined Cooking Vinyl (which is also home to Marilyn Manson, The Cult, The Cranberries, The Prodigy, among others). This album is a departure for Counting Crows because it's entirely made of covers. There are times you feel like you are listening to a barblues band. There is a strong R.E.M. influence here, especially with the use of acoustic guitar and dulcimer on a few songs. I especially like their version of the Face's Ooh La La, and Teenage Fanclub's Start Again. Here are some songs worth hearing:
Ooh La La:
Start Again:

Peter Murphy - The Secret Life of Bees EP (2011)

Coming off his amazing last album, Ninth, Peter Murphy released this EP full of songs that didn't make the album. These songs are more melodic and mellow than the material found on Ninth, which is probably why it wasn't on the album, but I feel it would have worked in the context of the album. Gaslit is one of the best opening tracks I have ever heard, along with a new version of Secret Silk Society. Rose Hunter sounds similar to I Spit Roses on Ninth, but still stands out as an excellent track on it's own. I would recommend to any fan of Peter Murphy or Bauhaus who needs to complete their collection. Here are some highlights:

Rose Hunter:
Seasaw Sway:

Gary Numan - Dead Son Rising (2011)

Gary Numan's 16th studio album! Gary Numan continues in his darkwave/industrial rock genre, where he has constantly evolved. His early work was closer to synthpop, and lately with this (and his recent work with the band Battles), he has acquired a new audience and has been seen as very influencial. He used to be known as a David Bowie-clone but he has moved so far past that, it's hard to imagine that as a reality. A very sparce, emotional album, this was originally intended as a filler album between 2006's Jagged and the upcoming album Splinter. This was originally formed from a collection of demos and recorded with long time collaborator, Ade Fenton, this album leans more toward moody than loud, and that's not a bad thing. I love the piano on the track, Not For the Love We Dream Of and the lyrics to the title tracks are some of his best work since Pure. Check out the following tracks:
 Dead Son Rising:
The Fall:
Not The Love We Dream Of:

††† (Crosses) - EP1 (2011)

Another side project of Chino Moreno (Deftones, Team Sleep). Crosses sees Chino heading more into synthpop territory. It's a very soothing EP, which echoes Depeche Mode at times. I especially like the synths in the song Bermuda Locke, and the guitar in Option. There is a 2nd EP out which I must check out. I see this as similar to the AFI sideproject, Blaqk Audio. I like this release and I plan to see out more from this band in the future. Here are a few songs to check out:
Bermuda Locke:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Peter Murphy and Mick Karn presents Dalis Car - InGladAloneness

This EP was released last week. Sadly, this was Mick Karn's last recordings since he passed away in January of last year due to cancer. Peter Murphy initiated the project after a long hiatus. Previously, Dalis Car only recorded one short album, The Waking Hour in 1984, which peaked at #84 on the UK charts. Peter Murphy of course has a sucessful solo career as well as being in the classic goth band, Bauhaus. Mick Karn was the bassist of leading artrock/postpunk band Japan, led by David Sylvian and drummer Steve Jensen. InGladAloneness also features drummer Steve Jensen. I have yet to hear the EP but I hear excellent things, and I am interested in all works by Peter Murphy especially after his last album, Ninth blew me away and was a major comeback after the disappointing Go Away White (by Bauhaus) and his last solo album, Unshattered. I am a proud owner of the previous Dalis Car album, The Waking Hour on vinyl, which is one of the most interesting albums released in 1984. Peter recently did a few concerts around the Los Angeles area last year and I was lucky to catch two of them, at the Mayan Theater along with a free show at Amoeba Music in Hollywood. An incredible talent, funny, soulful, and just an all around excellent frontman. I look forward to hearing this EP, which is only available in digital form through the following link: InGladAloneness EP

Mick Karn will be missed. Japan is the band which predated bands such as Duran Duran, and you can hear it's influence through the songs of Duran Duran and other new wave bands such as Adam and the Ants. Japan never quite achieved the success as their counterparts, Roxy Music, Duran Duran or David Bowie, but had a sound all their own.

Peter Murphy achieved success early on with the goth band Bauhaus, and his later solo career. Bauhaus had some really great singles such as Double Dare, Kick in The Eye, All We Ever Wanted was Everything and of course, their cover of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust. Though often compared to David Bowie on account of their similar baritone voice, Peter Murphy was not a clone by any shape or form. He later on recorded and album with Mick Karn under the name Dalis Car and has enjoyed a successful solo career. He also recorded an EP in 1997 entitled Recall with several members of KMFDM. Recently, he is touring to support his most recent album, Ninth, and the new Dalis Car EP, InGladAloneness,. Here is some essential listening from Japan, Bauhaus, Peter Murphy and Dalis Car.

Japan - Ghosts

Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids
Bauhaus - Kick In The Eye

Bauhaus - All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust
Peter Murphy - All Night Long
Peter Murphy - A Strange Kind of Love
Peter Murphy - I Spit Roses
Dalis Car - The Judgement is The Mirror
Dalis Car - His Box
Dalis Car - Sound Cloud