Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dead Can Dance


Listening to DCD's debut album and Spiritchaser, from 1996, you can hardly believe it's the same core duo. The first recordings were very early-80s post-punk. Then they moved into exploring Renaissance music, then opened up to Middle Eastern influences, and finally dove into sounds of Africa. I suppose "goth world music" could describe them to the uninitiated, but it's much more than that.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Beautiful Noise


Documentary from 2014 focusing on The Jesus And Mary Chain, Ride, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine... featuring extensive interviews with said bands, plus Robert Smith, Billy Corgan, Wayne Coyne, Toni Halliday and more. It seems a bit of a stretch to throw all these bands into some kind of movement or genre or scene, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Kafka - The Movie

A forgotten gem of a film, this one - directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Jeremy Irons - has never made it on to Blu-Ray. Half-shot in black and white, it's visually sumptuous and droll, dryly witty. Like Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, it melds the author's work with his biography, doing a great job of capturing both along the way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Big Pig


A cool Australian act with multi-percussionists, they had a minor hit with I Can't Breakaway from their debut album, Bonk. Their second was never released worldwide and they quickly faded into obscurity.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Masters Of Reality


Chris Goss will probably always be best-known for his work as producer - Kyuss, QotSA, The Cult - but his own band could kick up some dust, too. Their self-titled debut was an excellent late-80s California rock record. The second one, Sunrise on the Sufferbus, was an entirely different affair, using Ginger Baker on the drums.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Zola Jesus

One of the most alluring voices to emerge in these Twenty-Teens, Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus uses her haunting voice to mine the depths of heartache. Sometimes it's even danceable.

Friday, December 9, 2016

LoOp


Loop emerged in the late-80s with a sound combining post-punk, shoegaze, psychedelia, and a bit of post-JAMC noise rock. To me, their sound really gelled later, culminating in their final LP, A Gilded Eternity, which is a very unique entity. They pared down the previous guitar workouts into repeated off-kilter riffs and a heavy rhythm section. The buried vocals still sound rather shoegaze-ish, but the music seeks to pound you into a trance rather than float you there on a bed of haze and clouds. Great stuff.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Alarm + Mike Peters


Mike Peters really is one of the good guys in an industry that fosters narcissism. Even when the lyrics are a bit ham-fisted, you're willing to go along with it because of the earnest passion.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Crowded House


All of Crowded House's albums are great, but this one especially, produced by Youth, with Neil Finn delivering on the songwriting in spades, has a particular energy to it. "Together Alone" is a densely-layered sonic pop masterpiece.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Swans - The '10s


They returned once more, to put the final nail in the coffin of rock music. M Gira and company have literally dissembled all that came before and stuffed it back in the womb, cowering and frightened, naked and permanently scarred.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Naked And Famous


Hands down my favorite band of these '10s... 'teens? For anyone who was a child of the '80s, the last 10 years has been like a second coming of sorts. Ear candy to the Nth degree. I can't recommend TNAF enough.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kyuss / Hermano / Unida


After Kyuss disbanded, Josh Homme went one way, finding success with QotSA, and singer John Garcia went another way - making kick-ass music in Unida and Hermano. I don't know why Garcia never found the success of his former partner. Unida is an absolute must for fans of The Cult, Circus of Power, and should even appeal to most QotSA fans.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Swans - The '00s


And by "Swans" I mean Swans-related. M Gira ended Swans in 1997, and by 1999 he was back under the Angels Of Light moniker.  What started out as a more subdued acoustic-based project slowly made its way to pretty much sounding like Swans by 2007's "We Are Him" album.  But gira did produce a lot of great music under the AoL name, so don't make the mistake of dismissing it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Alice In Chains


Another rock 'n' roll tragedy. Imagine achieving more and more success with each release, leading to a #1 album in 1995... only to become inactive until the lead singer finally dies from an overdose some 6 years later.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dadawa


Dadawa is the name Zhu Zheqin gave her project over 20 years ago. Though she's only managed 3 albums, they are unique and hover somewhere in the ambient world/world fusion type genre.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

RIP - Leonard Cohen


In my dreams, there is sometimes a roller rink. Leonard Cohen is always the soundtrack to those dreams.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Anti-Flag


Great punk rock band with strong social and political messages.  Seems highly apropos for some reason today.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mazzy Star



Light some candles, dim the bulbs, burn some incense, maybe a little opium tea, some cigs... now you're in the place.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

Public Image Ltd


From the warbled strangeness of Metal Box to the pop electronics of 9, Lydon impresses more often than not.  The Pistols left an indelible mark with one, single album, but this is his real musical legacy.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Joy Division


An iconic band.  Should be in everyone's collection.  But, hey, you never know.  It's amazing to think these guys were barely adults when they started a very short career, which possibly influenced as many people as the Pistols.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Psychedelic Furs


The Psychedelic Furs went from a kind of art-rock band with cacophonous guitar and saxophone to New Wave pop darlings and back again, leaving lots of great tunes in their wake.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Swans - The '90s


Swans consistently produced some of the best music of the 1990s until breaking up in 1997. M Gira was prolific, pouring out albums under the aliases Swans, Skin, World of Skin, Body Lovers, and his own name... all sounding rather like the musical equivalent of Dostoyevsky.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fields Of The Nephilim


Once you get past the cowboy outfits dusted with pancake mix... there's some seriously good and original music going on here. "Elyzium" is kind of the goth "Dark Side of the Moon."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Rose Of Avalanche


Goth or not goth? They arrived on the scene in 1986, definitely sounded derivative of The Mission, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, with a bit of Mighty Lemon Drops. Not bad, whatever their sub-genre.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Skinny Puppy


Hey, it's Halloween week, right? So, the Big Three of industrial - Ministry, out of Chicago, melding hard rock guitar into their martial beats; Belgium's Front 242, making cold Euro-centric music for the dancefloor; and then Skinny Puppy, Canadians who occasionally rocked, occasionally had a 4/4 danceable song, but more often, they worked in cacophony, purveyors of noise, with the odd hint of melody here and there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Swans - the '80s


Swans destroyed rock music. They took it apart, disseminated its innards and then reassembled it, all in the span of 6 years. The debut album is worthy of its title, undeniably one of the ugliest records ever made. But by the end of the decade, Swans produced some of the most beautiful music. And thus has been the duality ever since.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Squeeze me, I'm yours


One of the UK's greatest pop groups. Squeeze have made a career out of writing really catchy tunes, but are also a good enough band to keep the tempo crackin' and arrangements interesting.

Friday, October 21, 2016

IN eXceSs


Hey, it's Friday night and there's no better band to hit the town with. The whiteboy funk and swagger of INXS is totally underappreciated. Their first couple albums are loose, with punky energy and often overlooked. They then tightened up, added some layers and pop sensibilities and wound up with hit songs. Then, of course, international stardom, arenas, and celebrity behavior... in excess.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bauhaus


What more really needs to be said about seminal alternative band Bauhaus? If you're into dark, sometimes experimental/avant garde music, Bauhaus needs to be in your collection.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Woodentops


The Woodentops share a similar high-tempo kinetic energy and quirkiness with Oingo Boingo. They spent a couple years building a sizable following, had several songs on Alt radio in 1988, were a buzz band on MTV, and seemingly just vanished at the height of their popularity.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bowie - The 2000s


Still producing some of the best music of his career, there was an unfortunate decade-long pause in new material after 2003. When he reappeared with a new album in 2013, something was clearly amiss. We now know the unfortunate reasons behind it all and were lucky enough to be graced with the last couple years of material.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Easterhouse


Easterhouse only had 2 albums, and they're pretty different beasts. The second LP spawned the single "Come Out Fighting" which got some radio play and the video was used constantly as part of MTV News' intro. It's one of those albums that didn't catch me right away, but upon returning to it, it is a real grower. Kind of a mash-up of Smiths-Simple Minds-Billy Bragg.

It's TRICKY


Yes, Tricky came to prominence as an early member of Massive Attack, but he definitely cannot be pigeonholed into any genre. I'm sure that drives some fans batty, but personally, I always look forward to whatever he's gonna chuck up next.

For the uninitiated, the list of people who've collaborated or appeared on random songs throughout his catalog is pretty astonishing - Bjork, PJ Harvey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cyndi Lauper... just to name a few.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Siouxsie & The Banshees


From punky upstart to post-punk gloominess to radio-ready alterna-goth-pop, Siouxsie really cut out a great niche for herself and made some glorious music along the way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

You, too?



Probably no other artist have I ever had as nasty a break-up with than U2. Our relationship was full of such passion but we diverged on  totally different paths in 2000. {sigh} Ah, well, we'll always have the music, eh?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Neil Young - a beginner's guide


By the time you read this post, Neil Young may have released a new album. Such is the prolific nature of his career. And it's probably detrimental to gaining younger fans, not that he needs them. It would be very easy for someone to randomly choose one of his albums and hate it. But it probably wouldn't be indicative of his ouevre.

So, here's my little guide to the essential albums if you happen to be a newbie or casual fan:

* Decade [2-disc best of compilation spanning 1967-1977] - does what it says on the package. It also includes some early essential songs he did with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash. A great introduction to his early work and will either spur you on to further dig into his early catalog or just move on.

* Freedom [1989] - A masterpiece of an album that very much put him back on many people's (especially critics) radar.

* Ragged Glory [1991] - A long-winded jam album with backing band Crazy Horse that never loses the great batch of songs Neil came up with.

* Sleeps With Angels [1994] - Shows the versatility of Crazy Horse, as Neil veers all over the place, seemingly hitting all the genres he's ever explored in one single LP. But it somehow works as a whole. Probably his darkest album.

* Harvest / Harvest Moon - For those who really dig the laidback acoustic side of Neil Young, these albums are the go-to ones, for sure.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Tom Waits... for no one

Tom Waits - the man, the myth, the legend. It's kind of similar to the way I view Dylan - you can dislike the voice or particular periods of their career, but you just can't ignore the songs. And both are master craftsmen in that category. Looking back over Waits' body of work, it seems that he sticks with a certain sound for about 3 albums, then moves on to something new. And that ain't easy to do while still maintaining the high quality of tunes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bowie - The '90s



The 1990s were another period of rabid creativity in Bowie's career. He started off the decade with Tin Machine, then made a pseudo-R&B album (Black Tie White Noise), then reunited with Eno for Outside, toured with Nine Inch Nails, played Andy Warhol in the movie"Basquiat," then went into drum 'n bass territory (Earthling) and finished off the decade with the first in a new trilogy of albums (Hours). That is more than most have done in a career; just another decade for db.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Bowie - The '80s


David Bowie started off the '80s with one of his best albums... and ended it with one of his worst. And in between those two points, he catapulted into international superstardom, mainstream success, and creative confusion. He'd rebound, though.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bowie - The '70s


Warning: If you're a casual Bowie fan, you should turn and run now. Go get yourself a copy of the Best Of and be done with it.

Starting in 1989, EMI (Rykodisc in the US) began a campaign of reissuing Bowie's catalog. All his albums were remastered with bonus tracks and there was an odds 'n sods box set collection, Sound & Vision. This was basically the first big Remaster campaign, which since has become quite common. Some people still swear by these 1990-1992 versions of the albums as being the definitive versions.

In 1999, his catalog went to Virgin, who began their own remaster campaign, issuing all the albums, newly remastered, but sans bonus tracks.

In 2007-2009 his albums were released on SHM-CD in Japan. In 2013, many of his albums were mastered for HD digital. Just this year, posthumous box sets have been released with yet new remasters.

Does it all really matter? Don't they basically sound the same? Well, not really. I'm not a collector (good luck finding all 200+ versions of Ziggy Stardust), but I am a bit of an audiophile and after being a fan for so long, I've just acquired different versions of the same albums over time.

So, you have choices... although, I don't think you can go wrong with the EMI/Rykodisc versions from '90-'92.

As to the music itself, maybe no one has gone through so many different styles and incarnations, alter egos and sounds in one single decade than Bowie in the 1970s.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

David Bowie - The '60s

Who knew this fresh-faced young lad would become the greatest British pop musician of all time? [according to BBC voters]  I have an embarrassingly large collection, which I will try to group by decade. So, stay tuned...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lou Reed


"I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag with Latin written on it that says "it's hard to give a shit these days." - Lou Reed

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Flesh For Lulu


Despite having "I Go Crazy" play seemingly throughout the entire movie "Some Kind of Wonderful" - it seems most of Flesh For Lulu's catalog has gone out of print. There were talks of a reunion, but sadly, singer Nick Marsh passed away in June 2015.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wild - Wild 1


This strange concoction could only have come from the '80s. Part leather biker rock, part goth rock, part sub-industrial drum machines... this studio project from Todd Barrone and John Wildblood only produced one album - "Wild 1" - but it's a good listen for fans of Billy Idol, The Cult, Circus of Power, Zodiac Mindwarp...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Paradise Lost


Paradise Lost built a good following on their first couple dark metal albums, then turned more polished hard rock, then turned electronic rock, then started going backwards toward doom metal. Personally, I would start with "One Second" - fantastically produced by Sank, with deep baritone vocals. Goth hard rock never got any better.