Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Currently listening to:Week of April 2,2012

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 Mortal Coil - It'll End In Tears (1984)

This week was a huge week for gothic nostalgia. I remembered some of the songs that truly moved me, in particular from the 4AD label. Ivo Watts-Russell was the head of 4AD recordings, he also produced a few of 4AD's albums, including Clan of Xymox's debut and Garlands from Cocteau Twins, which included the song "Ivo" in his honor. In 1984, he formed the band This Mortal Coil with members of the 4AD family, which included Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, Lisa Gerrard, Brendan Perry, and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance and various members of Throwing Muses. This album is their best and finest release. It mostly consists of cover songs from artists such as Big Star and Tim Buckley. Ivo Watts-Russell also handpicked the songs, arranged them and played keyboards on a few songs. One of the most beautiful, touching songs is on this album. It is called Song to the Siren which is performed by Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins and is a Tim Buckley cover. When I first heard this song I was immediately floored by it's beauty and Elizabeth Fraser's vocals. Here is the song:
Lisa Gerrard also lends her vocals to 2 songs on this album. One of them is Dreams Made Flesh. This is also a great intro to Dead Can Dance. Dead Can Dance themselves have performed this song live on their last reunion tour in 2005.
Many have a wrong idea on what is "goth" music. I think this album is one of it's essentials. Full of beauty, emotion and meaning. This is one of the best albums of the early 80s.

The Smiths - Troy Tate sessions (1984)

The Smiths were set to record their debut album in 1984. This was the original album as recorded by Troy Tate, yet John Porter took these and made several changes to the way the songs were performed. I'm not sure which I prefer, but lately I have been listening to a lot of early and rare Smiths albums and demos and I would say to judge for yourself. The version of Pretty Girls Make Graves has made my regular playlist recently. Accept Yourself has an excellent bassline, which sounds very different from the final version too. Here are some examples of the early Tate versions.
Pretty Girls Make Graves:
Accept Yourself:

Switchblade Symphony - Serpentine Gallery (1995)

The debut album from this San Francisco based goth band. They combined synths with ethereal vocals to create a sound, which owed a lot to bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Dead Can Dance, but was all their own. They also had a very child-like quality, including nursery rhymes and such in their songs. Lisa Root and Susan Wallace was the heart of the group, and they revitalized the goth scene in the 90s, (along with bands like London After Midnight). I discovered them from a CMJ magazine sample cd. The song Clown was included and I loved the vocals and harmonies. It was then (and to this day) unlike anything I have heard before. Tina Root is one of the most unique vocalists I have ever heard. It's a shame they only had 2 albums before breaking up. I would suggest listening to this album as a whole. There's a ton of instrumentation on this album: xylophones, harpsichords, strings, etc.. This is their best album also. From here I would branch out to listen to Three Calamities. Bread and Jam for Frances does has some good songs, but they went from a strange trip-hop sound and lyrics about witches and demons and it didn't always work. This is essential listening. Here are some notable tracks:
Bad Trash:

Bauhaus - Crackle (1998 compilation)

Bauhaus is a band which was led by Peter Murphy on vocals, Daniel Ash on guitar, David Haskins on drums and David J on bass. They would last from 1979 until their breakup in 1983. Peter Murphy would continue on with a solo career, while the rest of the band would form Love and Rockets and Tones on Tail, with Daniel Ash and David J releasing a few solo records along the way. This is a great compilation to start with if you are curious about this band. This band were one of the forerunners of the so-called "goth" scene before it was even called goth. Peter Murphy's vocals is often copied but never truly imitated. Bauhaus, and most of the early goth bands came from the punk scene along with the art rock scene. It was a nice mixture of both, with a little Bowie-esque glam rock combined. This includes most of their early singles, including Bela Lugosi's Dead, their cover of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, The Passion of Lovers and The Sanity Assassin. One of my favorites is the song Crowds, it is just sooooo over the top! I'm surprised they weren't laughing hysterically! One of the things I love about this band is their sense of humor and talent. Like I mentioned before with Tina Root, Peter Murphy is a very good vocalist. Seeing him live is an experience like no other. Here are some essential songs:
The Sanity Assasin:
The Passion of Lovers:

Brendan Perry - Eye of The Hunter (1999)

Released by 4AD Records in 1999, Eye of the Hunter is the debut album from one-half of Dead Can Dance. Where Lisa Gerrard sang in a made up language, and carried you into faraway lands, Brendan Perry put you back on earth. This album is closer to folk, than the medieval world of Dead Can Dance. This reminds me of Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen at times. There is an excellent Tim Buckley song, called I Must Have Been Blind. The Voyage of Bran refers to the Irish tale of the same name, and is another great song with Brendan Perry's baritone vocals. Fans of Dead Can Dance's most acoustic songs will like this, particularly those who like the songs American Dreaming and Don't Fade Away which were included on Toward The Within. It would be nearly 10 years until Brendan Perry would release another solo album. Ark appeared in 2010. Here are some essential tracks from Eye of the Hunter:
 Voyage of Bran
I Must Have Been Blind

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