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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's always cold inside the Icehouse


Icehouse had a long run of hits in their native Australia, but only ever reached international success with "Crazy" and "Electric Blue" in 1987. Unfortunately, those 2 singles put them in the "adult oriented" pop category. In reality, they're more akin to late-period Roxy Music and I think all their albums are pretty solid.

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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Suicide


I hope when I say it's a good night for Suicide, it isn't taken the wrong way. Alan Vega passed away this year, maybe lost among the larger celebrity names. Or perhaps he was never going to be lauded by the mainstream anyway. No matter. They started dark, minimal and gritty... and never really changed much. Why would they?

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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The way of CURVE


Curve - essentially the duo of Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia - were one of my favorite bands of the 1990s. So many bands tried, and almost all failed, to merge a dark, cacophonous sound with pseudo-industrial rhythms with Ice Queen vocals. Curve not only succeeded but during the 5 years between their 2nd and 3rd albums, they saw Garbage hit mainstream hitdom with a very similar, though poppier and less edgy, sound.

Their discography gave me fits back in the day - oh, those Brits and their love of multi-release CD singles and the myriad of promotional-only material that I would sit on the back floors of record shops hunting for. I'm sure I missed a few, but I found a good lot...

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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Danielle Dax


Danielle Dax... I got to see her live in... 1990, I think it was. She was excellent. Her cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows" was getting good rotation on the MTV. Sire Records thought she could be the next Siouxsie Sioux. And then... silence. Apparently, she is a fairly successful interior decorator and gardener now.