Hello from Athens! So to speak anyway. This is the first leg of my journey through the discography of alternative rock heroes R.E.M. If you want a little more historical background on the band and their roots, well, I guess you can hit up Wikipedia. I'm going to focus as much as I can on just the music for this series. So I know that in the introduction post I said I'd only be hitting the main albums and EPs in my writeups, but I would be doing everyone a disservice without mentioning "Radio Free Europe." Released in 1981, it's R.E.M.'s first single and was largely responsible for landing them a record deal with I.R.S. Listening to it 30 years later it's easy to figure out where it fits in the history of alt rock, although there are some strong New Wave sounds going on as well. Her
A new Devo album? Yeah, sign me up for that. The as-of-yet-untitled album is now due in May. Here's one of the songs, "Fresh". That works for me. Sounds like they've done a nice job retaining their trademark sound but bringing it into the modern era. This could be a contender for album of the year. Fresh, indeed.
Just because I'm in the mood for some vintage New Wave, here's one of my favorite songs by the Cars. It's the title track from their 1979 sophomore effort, Candy-O. While never released as a single, "Candy-O" nonetheless brilliantly showcases the darker and more sinister side of the group. The main guitar riff is ferocious and I'm always down with Ben Orr's vocals, but Elliot Easton's lead work is the star here.
If any song is the epitome of New Wave it's XTC's brilliant "Making Plans for Nigel", from 1979's Drums and Wires. Bassist Colin Moulding delivers this piece of musical bliss, rather than driving force Andy Partridge (seen with the striped guitar). It should be pretty obvious that this is not a "live" performance, but that was standard for ToTP. It's better than a still image. Here's XTC on the legendary musical showcase Top of the Pops, miming "Making Plans for Nigel":
Listening to most of Los Angeles-based pop chanteuse Eleni Mandell's recorded output brings to mind a smoke-filled club full of broken-hearted hipsters on a lonely Wednesday night (for those clubs where you can still smoke anyway). But after spending years perfecting the role of lovelorn torch singer, Mandell released Miracle of Five in 2007. Its comparatively spartan, acoustic guitar-driven sound was a departure for the singer, and the album finally brought her some much-deserved critical attention. Mandell moves even further from her roots, albeit in a different direction, with her latest effort, Artificial Fire. Gone is the sultry film noir atmosphere, and in its place is a much more mainstream effort (although there are still plenty of tales of failed romance). That's not to sa
Our friends at Hipgnosis return with another memorable entry. But whereas their last appearance here was all about a striking and surreal image, this week is just the opposite - no image at all. It is the second album from New Wave/post-punk legends XTC, 1978's Go 2: That's a lot of words, innit?! Here's what it says: This is a [place album format here in all capitals] COVER. This writing is the DESIGN upon the [place album format here] cover. The DESIGN is to help SELL the [place album format here]. We hope to draw your attention to it and encourage you to pick it up. When you have done that maybe you'll be persuaded to listen to the music - in this case XTC's Go 2 album. Then we want you to BUY it. The idea being that the more of you that buy this [place album format here] the
These days it's commonplace for music to function as an integral part of a television show; think Grey's Anatomy, Smallville or Dawson's Creek. With Seinfeld, not so much. Nevertheless, there are more than a few classic moments during the series that can be called to mind with just a few notes. With that in mind I give you the Seinfeld Songs Mixtape. The following songs were played on at least one episode of Seinfeld, which started featuring much more non-original music during its last few seasons. There are numerous instances of songs being sung by characters on the show, but unless at least a small clip of the song was played or performed, they don't qualify for my mixtape. "Desperado" and "Witchy Woman" (Eagles), heard on "The Checks" - Here's a classic rock two-fer. "Desperado" ...
Looking back, mixtapes sure were a pain in the ass to put together. But man, were they fun. So for just a minute, let's imagine iPods don't exist (I know, scary) and we are putting together a new one. The ground rules for the songs on this mixtape are: Each song was released as the B-side of a commercially available single. The songs did not appear on a regular album (at least not at first). No more than one song per band. I must like the song (the critical part). "Total Eclipse" (Iron Maiden) - Over the years Iron Maiden has compiled what is probably the strongest collection of B-sides in heavy metal history. This one nearly made it onto the group's seminal 1982 album, The Number of the Beast, but was left off and instead included on the "Run to the Hills" single. Th...
Well we've arrived, and not a moment too soon! Snakes & Arrows is mere days away, and I look forward to seeing it take its place in the Rush pantheon. But before I reveal the four greatest Rush albums ever, let's recap one last time: Part 1 (#17 - #15) -- Rush, Hold Your Fire, Roll the Bones Part 2 (#14 - #12) -- Test for Echo, Vapor Trails, Fly by Night Part 3 (#11 - #9) -- Caress of Steel, Power Windows, Presto Part 4 (#8 - #5) -- Counterparts, Hemispheres, 2112, A Farewell to Kings For those who have been paying attention, a pattern has been developing over this countdown. Most of the early and recent albums, while good, don't seem to stack up as well. Last time we got into the creamy center of Rush's catalog, and now we reach the rich, nougat center. I think. I don't eat