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Showing posts from April, 2019

100 Albums: "Yes And Also Yes" by Mike Doughty

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Mike Doughty Title:   Yes And Also Yes Released:  2011 Genre:  alternative acoustic rock Soul Coughing was one of the stranger bands to come out of the 90s. They had two major hits, the poppy Circles  and the fun-if-incomprehensible  Super Bon-Bon . After they disbanded, singer Mike Doughty got a rental car and an acoustic guitar and started playing shows and selling burned discs of his first solo album Skittish . 19 years and 17 albums later, he's still going strong and playing weird, poppy, acoustic-driven rock over (with the occasional dash of avant-garde EDM). Yes And Also Yes  sits nicely in the center of the Venn Diagram consisting of these circles: weird enough to be interesting, poppy enough to sing along with, and suitable to play in front of my kids. In fact, Strike The Motion  was my oldest child's favorite song at one point in his short life. Weird Summer

100 Albums: "Untitled (IV/Zoso)" by Led Zeppelin

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Led Zeppelin Title:  untitled Released:  1971 Genre:  classic rock Is there a more epic album opening than Black Dog ? Plant screaming "Hey, Hey, Mama..." and a trio of musicians exploding into that proto-metal riff behind him? There's a reason Led Zeppelin is always included in discussions of who might be the greatest rock band of all time: Plant's bluesy wail, Bonham's impossibly huge drum sound, Page's guitar work--and tone, when people talk about "vintage guitar tone" they're talking about Jimmy Page--and Jones's bass and keys (bassists are the unsung heroes of rock, and Jones's bass work here is low-key phenomenal). They're an iconic band, and this is their most iconic album. Officially untitled, but commonly referred to as either Zoso  or IV , this record is not only their best-selling, but it contains their most well

100 Albums Supplemental: Video Game Soundtracks

So far on this list I've had two broadway soundtracks, one movie soundtrack (two if you count Help! , which isn't really one but...), and one season of a score from a television show. I like soundtracks. One thing that is not  going to show up on this list but is very much represented in my music collection is soundtracks to video games. They're usually available for a couple dollars as DLC, if you don't mind hunting through system folders to find them. I love video game music, but the soundtrack albums tend to not make very good albums. Invariably, some of the music is really more about setting a soundscape, which is really cool in a game and hard to listen to on its own. But it does mean that even the best ones are hit-or-miss. And some of them are really shoddily put together. But they can also be incredible in their own weird way. So here's a smattering of video game soundtracks that I don't really listen to, but definitely have a couple tracks mixed into my

100 Albums: "Seeing Sounds" by N.E.R.D.

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  N.E.R.D. Title:   Seeing Sounds Released:  2008 Genre:  funk rock with hip hop Pharrell Williams is probably most famous for his contributions to 2013's most highly anticipated summer single (Daft Punk's Get Lucky ) as well as its most controversial one (Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines ). But in the late 90s and early 00s, he was the public face of The Neptunes, a production duo consisting of Williams and Chad Hugo, which made waves producing huge hits for Britney Spears, N'Sync, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Kelis, etc. Around that same time, they recruited Shay Haley, a friend they'd jammed with in high school, for a side project called N.E.R.D., a "side project" that has put out five albums.  Seeing Sounds ' title is a reference to the fact that Williams has synesthesia, a condition in which input processing signals in the brain bleed across senses,

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

100 Albums: "Light Grenades" by Incubus

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Incubus Title:   Light Grenades Released:  2006 Genre:  mathy alt-rock with just a soup├žon of hardcore punk Incubus reminds me of Radiohead in everything but how the music actually sounds. They're nerdy in a very musician way, artful without being artsy, edgy without being completely cynical, and their songwriting is just strange enough to make you wonder how they ever made it into the mainstream in the first place. Arrangements are complex, built around unorthodox chord voicings and time signatures. Their lyrics aren't about your usual rock staples of sex and drugs (or angst, or self-destruction, or being abused by your parents--this album came out in the 00's after all) but are more introspective, metaphorical, and overall possessing of that whiff of a B.A. in Literature. In fact, most of the time when Incubus songs don't  work for me, it's because they

100 Albums: "The Colour And The Shape" by Foo Fighters

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Foo Fighters Title:   The Colour And The Shape Released:  1996 Genre:  post-grunge hard rock After Kurt Cobain died in 1993, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl shut himself up in a studio for a week to record a project called Foo Fighters , a collection of songs he had personally penned some years prior. He ran from instrument to instrument recording almost the entire thing himself. It was an unexpected hit, driven by singles Big Me, This is a Call , and , but the worry with these sort of projects is that they're ephemeral. Would Grohl have more than one album in him? Turns out he did, and in 1996 the band Foo Fighters released a follow-up The Colour And The Shape , which would be the band's best selling record. One great thing about Foo Fighters is that it sounds absolutely nothing like Nirvana. Nirvana was punk, but slower. Foo Fighters inherits more from the classic hard

100 Albums: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Elton John Title:   Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Released:  1973 Genre:  classic piano-pop rock Released at the height of his stardom in 1973, recorded on a farm in France,  Goodbye Yellow Brick Road  is a monster record. Though the CD manages to fit the entire album on a single disc, it was originally released as a double-LP. Bennie And The Jets , Candle In The Wind , Goodbye Yellow Brick Road , and Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting  are to this day staples of classic rock radio. For me, this was a car album. I grew up in Houston, but my extended family lived in St. Louis, so every summer we would pile into the van and make the seventeen-hour drive between the two cities (it's shorter now that they've raised the speed limits to 70 on the highways) with a box of tapes that my dad had made of his records--all of them immaculately lettered in calligraphy because t

100 Albums: "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" by Sarah McLachlan

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Sarah McLachlan Title:   Fumbling Towards Ecstasy Released:  1993 Genre:  adult contemporary Before Angel , before she was the patron sainte of sadness and puppy dogs, Sarah McLachlan was known as the woman who turned a letter from a stalker into one of the most seductive pop songs of its era. The true story there is somewhat more complicated--the lyrics to Possession were inspired by mail from obsessed fans, one of whom had the sheer audacity to sue her for "stealing" his work--but the fact that the song was composed from a place of fear rather than lust is wild. Suffice it to say, lines like "I would be the one to hold you down" read very differently in a man-speaking-to-a-woman capacity than vice-versa. Whatever that has to say about gender dynamics in 1993, I leave to the listener. I seem to recall hearing  Possession  on rock stations, not just Top