Albums, Rediscovered (Pt. 2)

9 Jul

buried-treasureLooking at my listening habits over the past few years, it is clear that while sailing the Seas of Music, somewhere along the way I came up against the Great White Shark of Limited Storage Space. Fortunately, I just got a bigger boat. About a week ago I bought a shiny new 32GB iPhone 3GS.  It is indeed as awesome as they say – the faster speeds, the 3G network, the video capability… all of these things are really great upgrades from my previous first-gen phone. However, the biggest, most welcome change of all is the massively increased storage space.

I’ve never had an iPod with this much space, and I’ve crammed it with, like, every album I’ve listened to in the last ten years. Amazing. Anyway, I thought I’d put together a list of the albums I’ve been re-listening to – it’s in two parts, Part One is A-L, Part Two is M-Z.

I highly recommend giving all of them a listen – I’d put in links, but Google will tell you how to get a copy, should you want to, and they’re all on iTunes, as well.


15777129_leviathanwf3Mastodon – “Leviathan”

Man, as much as I dig “Crack the Skye,” I gotta say, I think that this one is still my favorite.  For some reason, I like prog bands most when they’re out to prove something, and this record feels like these guys were out to prove, basically, that they rocked fucking harder than anything ever.  They may have the most appropriate band name of all time.

Team_Boo-Mates_of_State_480Mates of State – “Team Boo”

Dudes, it has taken me a loooong time to come around to the Mates.  I got them on a fervent recommendation, I know tons of people who worship them, and from minute one, it was clear that they were a really skilled, interesting band.  But the music, for a long time, was too tense, too much of a high-wire act – I was all too aware that there were only two of them, at how impressive what they were pulling off was…  Anyway, now that I’m returning to this album, I’m much more comfortable while listening, and think I’m going to pick up their new one.

B0000296PM.09.LZZZZZZZMichael Brecker – “Time is of the Essence”

I always get the feeling that this is an overlooked Brecker album – it’s not as freak-outy as his stuff with Randy, not as genre-defining as Tales from the Hudson, and not as instrumentally diverse as, like, Wide Angles or American Dreams.  But I love this album – in particular the tunes on which Bill Stewart plays.  Rennaissance Man is just the funkiest, man.  Awesome.

6-1222485219Mr. Bungle – “California”

I had some friends a while back who lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (I met them at Shell Lake Jazz Camp), and one year I spent New Year’s Eve with them.  It was so, so much fun – and one of my main memories is of driving from the Twin Cities (where I was staying) back to Eau Claire with them, listening to Mr. Bungle’s self-titled debut album.  It is some weird shit – Mike Patton really went off, and it was all a bit scatalogical for my tastes.  However, I picked up a copy, and then later their second record, “California,” and I’m glad I did.  The songs are waaay more focused, and there’s some truly incredible shit going on.  “Aris Moriendi” and “Retrovertigo” in particular are just amazing tracks.

Electric_Version-The_New_Pornographers_480The New Pornographers – “Electric Version”

For a long time, I was obsessed with “Twin Cinema,” and it wasn’t until I had the storage space that I went back to this album and realized that I honestly might like it even more.  It’s more aggressive than Cinema, though lacking in the sort of next-level writing that AC Neuman was doing on the later album, and while it doesn’t have a “Sing Me Spanish Techno” or a “Use It,” I gotta say that for whatever reason, I like the flow of the material better on this record.  Plus, it’s wicked fun to drum to.

bluestruthOliver Nelson – “The Blues And The Abstract Truth”

Classics are classics for a reason.  I hadn’t listened to this record for a while, but coming back to it is like coming back home.  I was obsessed with this disc in high school, and haven’t forgotten a note of it – Freddie sounds so sick, it’s ridiculous, and I have a new-found appreciation for Oliver’s strange, melodic solos.  He was a genius of the highest order, and I want to play more of his music.

HardGrooveRoy Hargrove – “Hardgroove”

One of the most fun records I have, I hadn’t listened to this in YEARS before the advent of the new iPhone.  But man, I kinda can’t believe it – I mean, a jazz/hip-hop jam hosted by Roy, featuring Erikah, Q-Tip, MeShell, ?uestlove, Common, D’Angelo, and a ton of the best young funk players in Houston?  Even with the kinda lame name “The RH Factor,” holy crap, that’s a lineup.  Wicked fun from beginning to end, this record lives up to its title.

ryanhell1Ryan Adams – “Love is Hell”

I originally bought this in two parts (as it was originally released) – and part one was my first Ryan Adams record.  When I got it, the dude at Virgin Records said, “You should really get Gold, it’s way better than this.”  Well, Dude At Virgin Record Store, while I really do like Gold, I’m not so sure you’re right.  Especially once part two came out, and the whole album came together – there’s some pretty amazing shit on here.  “Thank You, Louise,” “I See Monsters,” “My Blue Manhattan,” and of course the famous cover or “Wonderwall.”  It’s a strong album, and one of my favorites of his.  Strange, but beautiful.

screaming1995Screaming Headless Torsos – “Screaming Headless Torsos”

One of the most balls-to-the-wall shredding albums I own.  More shredding, in its way, than say, Vital Tech Tones or anything that the G3 has done. Dave Fiuczynski is a complete madman – there’s nothing like his slipping, sliding, screeching fretless guitar.. it’s, like… okay.  You know in Gremlins 2, when the one gremlin becomes a bolt of lightening?  Dave’s playing is pretty much exactly like that. “Smile and a Wave,” man.  Hell yeah. Also, I just checked and I spelled Fiuczynski right on my first try.  Booyah! Also, I’m pretty sure that JoJo Mayer is playing drums on this album, and holy crap.  Later stuff with Gene Lake is also amazing, but I can’t get over JoJo’s playing on this record, “Word to Herb” in particular.  Chops, man.  What’s also pretty outstanding is that the album cover features an actual headless torso that is screaming.

album-marvins-marvelous-mechanical-museumTally Hall – “Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum”

Had it not been for “The OC,” I never would have heard of this (awesome) album.  Let me explain.  In an episode of the show, Tally Hall, a previously (and currently) unknown band from Michigan, did an A Capella version of a Killers song. In his recap, Jacob at TWoP mentioned that they were one of his favorite bands at the moment.  Intrigued, I checked them out, and really enjoyed what I heard (the song “Good Day”), so I got their album.  And really dug it!  A bunch of talented dudes who got together at college and had as much fun as possible making an album, it’s far from the most mature expression of musicl vision I’ve ever heard, but it’s totally fun, legitimately funny, and has some really great writing.  I’m not sure what these guys are up to at the moment, but they certainly made one really good album.  “Banana Man,” indeed.

They Might Be Giants – “Every Album They Ever Made”

I think I’ve been over this.

8491-pawn-shoppe-heartThe Von Bondies – “Pawn Shoppe Heart”

Another band that made one amazing album and then kinda fell off the face of the earth (well, after getting punched in the face).  The Dans saw these guys at The Independent a little while ago and said that they still sounded great, though they’d changed quite a bit of their lineup.  This album was, I believe, a bit of a shocker to anyone who knew the band – I guess that they kinda didn’t play that well for a while, then got in the shed, worked their shit out, and put out this record.  Well, whatever – “Pawn Shoppe Heart” fucking kills. Jason Stollsteimer just belts that shit out, and the combination of him yelping over the Blondie-esque female vocals works every time. It’s a drag that he’ll go down in history as “The Dude Who Got His Ass Kicked By Jack White That One Time,” because he’s a totally great player, writer, and singer.  I guess my writing that just now didn’t help things.

20070811094518!Apple_VenusXTC – “Apple Venus Volume 1”

This album takes me back to college, though I bought it way back in high school.  When I was in High School, I was not cool enough to be listening to XTC on my own – I only got the album because I heard “Green Man” on the radio and thought it was awesome, then I heard “I’d Like That” on the same station (92.3, coming through!), and though “Hmm.  This band sounds pretty cool!”  I dug the album well enough, but it wasn’t until years later, when I had a chance to really listen, that I got just how amazing these guys really are.  I have plenty more of their records these days, but this one remains my favorite – I can’t believe I hadn’t listened to it in so long.

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