Category Archives: 90s Music

“The Wonderwall Album”

Happy Almost February! I hope you’re not stressed out to your eyeballs like I am! I made a New Years’ resolution to post once every 2 weeks at least. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t hold to that, but at least this is #2 for January, right?

I’ve got a good one for this week. It was supposed to be my last post but I scrapped it for TLSP and rewrote it anew for today.

Album: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Artist: Oasis

Oasis_-_(What's_The_Story)_Morning_Glory_album_cover

Why am I writing about Oasis? Good question. I guess I like a challenge. But what can you say about Oasis that hasn’t already been said? Nothing, if we’re being honest.

But I like to think of myself as a one stop shop for album information, so maybe if you’re reading you’ll learn something you didn’t know already.

Oasis was obviously a staple of the 90s. They’re one of those bands that makes me cry every time. Their albums have been hailed as record-breakers, they’ve made it on too many “greatest” lists to count, and they were one of the greatest acts in Britpop ever. They were big from the beginning — they formed in 1991, and their debut album, Definitely Maybe, was the fastest selling debut album in the UK at the time of its release.

Now, a little history about the band’s members: The band was initially formed by Liam Gallagher as “The Rain,” but eventually they invited his older brother Noel to join. Noel came on as lead guitarist with the agreement that he would do all of the writing for the band. Both brothers were big partiers and they had quite the reputation for their sibling rivalry, and one brother or the other was constantly leaving the band for some reason or another. The band swapped several drummers over the years, but more people were concerned with the fights Liam and Noel would get into.

Oasis also had a reputation in the media for their rivalry with Damon Albarn’s band Blur (see also the Gorillaz), since both bands were heading the Britpop movement. From what I understand, Noel and Albarn have put aside their differences since the 90s.

Eventually, the band broke up in 2009. Liam went on to form Beadey Eye and Noel went on to form Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (who happen to be playing at the Ryman on my birthday, hint hint Mom and Dad).

Also, for the purposes of discussing Oasis’ music, I feel like I should mention that Noel Gallagher and Oasis have successfully been sued at least once for plagiarism.

But on to what you guys really want to hear about, right? The Wonderwall Album.

Just kidding. It’s called (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and it’s awesome. It was released in October of 1995 (I mean, how 90s can you get?) on Creation Records and it sold over 300,000 copies in it’s first week. In fact, as of 2014, it was rank as the fifth best-selling album in the UK, and at the time, it was the third fastest-selling album in the UK. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and made it in the top 10 all over the world. Now that’s just impressive. Rolling Stone even included it on their 100 Best Albums of the 90s and their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time lists.

The album included many of the band’s most well-known singles, including “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” “Some Might Say,” and “Champagne Supernova.” I’d argue those are the only four Oasis songs a lot of people know. They aren’t the best on the album though — not to say they aren’t good, because they are.

I really find the material on WTSMG? fascinating. I can’t help but feel incredibly nostalgic every time I listen to it. Maybe it’s Noel’s lyrics — “Where were you while we were getting high?” — but there’s something about them that always captures your attention. Of course, Noel himself says most of the lyrics on the album were gibberish, but Liam disagrees. Even if they don’t mean anything to Noel, they still mean something — but let’s be honest, no one’s really sure what that meaning might be.

Regardless, his writing style mimics that of John Lennon better than anyone I’ve ever seen (and that might be because he’s ripped off a few of his lines here and there, but I digress). Lines like “Slowly walking down the hall/faster than a cannonball,” found in “Champagne Supernova” are exactly what I’m talking about. And he’s so consistent. “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” undoubtedly a tribute to John Lennon’s “Imagine” (it opens with the same piano chords, after all) does it best with lines like “So I’ll start a revolution from my bed/Cause you said the brains I had went to my head.” I’m pretty sure Noel got that one from Lennon himself, actually.

As AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine put it: “This is where his genius lies: He’s a thief and doesn’t have many original thoughts, but as a pop/rock melodicist he’s pretty much without peer.”

And he’s right. Noel might not always be completely original, but he’s easily one of the best songwriters of his generation. He brings the best from the artists he idolizes and mixes them together to create a movement. His soaring melodies and clever lyrics combine to give the album so much variance, and it all culminates into these feelings you’re left with as a listener as image after image is painted for you with words. There’s a ring of sadness to a lot of the material that I know I’m not imagining.

It definitely means something.

And while I generally think Noel Gallagher was the better vocalist (who doesn’t love the chorus in “Don’t Look Back In Anger”?), I’ll be upfront and say that without Liam’s vocals this album wouldn’t be the same. He’s forceful when he needs to be, cheeky when it’s called for, and his voice adds to the nostalgia I feel every time I listen. He brings something different to the words than I think Noel would — and that’s the beauty of it.

Oasis had a tumultuous run, but I think that’s why they rock with the best of them. Liam and Noel both have a lot of passion for the music and they both poured their hearts and souls into it. And I think that’s the reason for the nostalgia — their feelings take hold of yours. And that’s the genius found in (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

 

What are your thoughts on (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Love it? Hate it? Comment here, Facebook or Twitter! Until next time, keep listening.

Honorable Mentions: “Cast No Shadow,” “Some Might Say,” “She’s Electric,” “Morning Glory”

Information pulled from Oasis’s band page, AllMusic.com, and Billboard.com

Overrated — Or Maybe Just That Good

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? This one has been a long time coming but the unfortunate thing about college is that you spend so much time wasting time that when you actually have something you want/need to get done, you can’t get it done because real life gets in the way.

For those of you that don’t already know, I’m no longer studying at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville — I’m now at MTSU. So if I’ve got any readers in the Boro, let me know! I’m missing way too much live music just by virtue of the fact that I hardly know anyone out here and I need someone to go to shows with.

But on to the music, right? That’s what you came here for anyway I’m assuming. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Album: OK Computer                                                                                 Artist: Radiohead

OK Computer

OK Computer. One of the greatest albums of the 90s? One of the greatest albums ever? The album that made Radiohead? Some say yes, others no. While Radiohead might be the music gods of the 90s to some, they’re simply an overrated band to others.

Let me explain how I moved from the latter category to the former:

I used to be really into Muse (I swear this is related). In fact, I’m still into Muse (despite how weird they’ve gotten), and my Muse Pandora station has been a favorite for years. I’m pretty sure it’s been a favorite since I was like 11 or 12 (because of course I lied about my age to create a Pandora account). Anyways, on that Muse Pandora station, I heard a lot of Radiohead. Of course, I knew about Radiohead — or at least I knew of them, and I knew that they were hailed as this amazing revolutionary band. In short, I was completely underwhelmed. I thought they were weird, I hit skip, I moved on.

As I got older I came to appreciate the big Radiohead hits out of the 90s: “Creep,” “Karma Police,” “Paranoid Android.” Again, I never really listened and while I thought they were good songs I failed to really see the significance.

THEN I read an article about how Dave Matthews is a huge Radiohead fan. Actually to be honest, it didn’t change my opinion of them, but it maybe it did make me listen closer — so thanks again, Dave Matthews! — because now I finally realize what Radiohead did and why everyone should listen to them.

And so here I am, at age 19, having finally gotten the memo, and hoping to give you some insight. Which is why I chose this album to write about, rather than their debut or their sophomore efforts.

So, for those of you who were like me and wrote Radiohead off the first time, let me introduce you to the band. Radiohead is a five-piece, post-Britpop, experimental rock band out of Abingdon, Oxfordshire. They actually formed in the ‘80s while in school, but they didn’t really make it on the big stage until their first album debuted in the early 90s. Most of you might recognize their hit single “Creep” which was one of the singles off that album.

While I would give both of their first two albums positive reviews, many view OK Computer as Radiohead’s most important album and I think I would be inclined to agree — this is the album that made them artists rather than just another 90s band. The album was released in May of 1997, though it didn’t hit the States until July. Though this was only their third album, the band elected to self produce with the help of Nigel Godrich, who has worked with artists such as U2, Beck, and R.E.M. The album was released by Parlophone Records in the UK and by Capital Records in the United States. Their previous album, The Bends, was super successful in the UK, so OK Computer was met with a lot of anticipation — it debuted at number one in the UK and held that position for a couple weeks.

But now that we have the cold hard facts out of the way, let’s talk about the music. Radiohead’s sophomore effort was sort of the melancholy, personal and emotional material you’d expect from a tortured artist — it was the bands way of coping with the stresses of their newfound fame. But OK Computer was more of a reaction to the material found on The Bends. It would have been really easy for Radiohead to churn out the same material that was found on The Bends — it would have been good, even. But maybe not great.

Instead, the band set out to produce a new album that had different material — so different that the labels were a little nervous with the finished product. Most of the album was recorded in and old mansion known as St. Catherine’s Court; the band didn’t have a deadline for this production so they took advantage and went creative ham on it. Recording in an old mansion allowed the band to use different acoustic styles and I think that OK Computer wouldn’t be the same if it had been created in a studio.

But I think what makes OK Compter so fascinating is the material on the album. The lyrics are highly impersonal but very emotional. Thom Yorke himself described the lyrical content as snapshots of what was going on around him — reactionary almost. Subject matter ranges from highly political statements to aliens to schizophrenic social climbers, while the overall sound is almost celestial in nature. I would say this album is what launched the sort of electronica era, though all the sounds on the album were made with guitars and synthesizers. It’s a montage of layers and layers and layers, played with undeniable skill, that peel back to reveal Yorke’s tortured falsetto. It’s pretty impressive, really, because it sounds like there should be too much going on.

Take for example the lead single from OK Computer, “Paranoid Android.” It’s not your typical single in that it’s six-and-a-half minutes long and involves about three distinct changes, but several people have regarded it as the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of the 90s. While I wouldn’t necessarily go that far (and neither would the band, since it was sort of a gag song), I would say it’s a pretty good sample of what the album has to offer. Lyrically it explores the mind of someone who’s clearly insane: lines like “Please can you stop the noise/I’m trying to get some rest/From all the unborn chicken voices in my head,” start the song off on an interesting foot while layers of both acoustic and electric guitars combine with synthesizers, a voice box, and Yorke’s haunting vocals.

OK Computer takes it’s listeners on a musical ride. Tracks like “Karma Police” and “Climbing Up The Walls” are constantly building tension and others like the hard, political “Electioneering” release it in a way that makes the album flow like one continuous piece of work. All the while, lines like “For a minute there, I lost myself,” found in “Karma Police,” and “Show me the world as I’d love to see it,” found in “Subterranean Homesick Alien” leave the listener empathizing with the singers sense of solitude and loneliness. And to tie it all together, the track “Fitter Happier,” found in the middle of the album gives the listener the sense that the world is fast-forwarding before his or her eyes while the voice of a robot rattles off life advice.

Sure, it’s not a concept album, but OK Computer has a concept. Maybe I wouldn’t describe it as “positive” — though I think that’s the comparative vibe the band might have been going for in relation to The Bends, but in 1997, Radiohead released an album that was way before their time. Hundreds of bands have tried to go for the same thing, but Radiohead pulls off the chaotic layers and sci-fi sound with an artistry that hasn’t been matched in a long time. No wonder critics loved it.

Requests? Leave them here, Facebook, or my Twitter page! I lost my list of suggestions, so seriously throw some out there. Who knows when I’ll write again, but until then, keep listening. And seriously, listen to this album. It’s excellent.

Honorable Song Mentions: Airbag, Subterranean Homesick Alien, Electioneering, Lucky — just listen to the whole thing really. It’s that good.

Crash Into DMB

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you’re week has been lovely. Mine actually has. I’m in Rockville visiting my sister again. I’m also seeing Dave Matthews Band again tomorrow. Last year’s concert turned out to be a bust (not because of DMB, they were amazing as always) because of some rather unfortunate circumstances. So! We are trying again, and thus I must write about my favorite Dave album for good juju. Gear up, cause it’s a long one.

Album: Crash                                                                         Artist: Dave Matthews Band

DMB_Crash

As I mentioned, Crash really is one of my favorite DMB albums, if not actually my favorite. I have really distinct memories of putting this album on for long drives back when I had my first iPod. If I really listened, I could fall asleep about halfway through “Two Step” and wake up around “Lie In Our Graves.” Every time. Really it was the album I went to for everything from needing a good cry to just dancing around for the longest time. It’s just THAT good.

Crash was released in April of 1996. This is actually DMB’s best selling album, and it peaked at #2 on the US Bilboard 200. For the longest time I thought this album was their fourth, but it’s actually their third. My sister set me straight — Before These Crowded Streets actually came after. Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with the band quite a bit, produced the album and it was released by RCA Records.

I think I like this album because so many of the songs found on Crash were songs that just floated around for awhile. I’ve listened to DMB’s Live Trax Vol. 20 (thanks Erin!) and early versions of “Two Step,” “Tripping Billies,” and “Lie In Our Graves” are on it, despite the fact that it was recorded 1993. This album had literally been played and perfected a thousand times before even being recorded. And it has my all time favorite song on it, so that helps too.

Crash is actually kind of a long album, as per usual with Dave Matthews Band. There are only 12 tracks, but total time on the album is almost 70 minutes. There’s some jamming to say the least. I think this album is a great demonstration of what DMB has to offer, and I think in writing about it I’ve realized why not everyone likes it.

Dave Matthews Band has a very distinct style to their music. I mean, every album is different and I can actually pick out the ones that are less like this than others, BUT a Dave Matthews Band song lacks structure. Not in the way you’re thinking — it’s not a free for all. But it’s hard to find the melody in a Dave song. This isn’t a bad thing, though. If anything, it works for the band because every player is able to showcase their talents. I’ll be coming back to this in a second, but I want to talk about the actual tracks on the album first.

Crash opens with a few really upbeat numbers. Honestly, don’t ask me why this is the album I always picked to listen to before bed. The opener, “So Much To Say” is a great jam that features a lot of LeRoi Moore, but I’m going to gloss over it to move on to “Two Step.”

“Two Step” is a much darker song than it’s predecessor, but then suddenly it’s not. It’s almost like listening to two different songs, but quite honestly it’s one of the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard. Lines like “Hey my love do you believe that we might last a thousand years/Or more if not for this, our flesh and blood” show the dark place the author is in, but then the song takes on a lighter tone with lines like “Celebrate we will/for life is short but sweet for certain.” The song has a pretty interesting story behind it; I really encourage you to look it up, but it’s just not something I can cover here.

But moving on, I want to talk about my favorite song. I honestly think Crash is my favorite album because of “#41.” People get really confused when I say my favorite song is a number, but DMB fans know exactly what I’m talking about. I think what makes this song special is it applies to any situation. Rumor has it it’s about the band’s break up with an old manager over creative differences — it’s probably the best break up song ever written. “#41” is especially unique in that it has no chorus. It’s literally the most beautiful poem I’ve ever heard put to music. This song is the reason that I believe Dave Matthews is an amazing lyricist. I can’t even pick just one line for you guys because the whole song is THAT good. And remember how I said DMB songs lack a certain structure? This song is the perfect example. I can’t tell you or sing you the melody, but I know the song front to back. It’s just so perfect to me.

From the upbeat tracks like “So Much To Say,” “Too Much” and “Tripping Billies” to the more serious “#41” to the slow and quiet “Crash Into Me” and “Cry Freedom,” Crash covers it all. I could probably give each song on this album it’s own post because I have that much to say, but don’t worry. I won’t share. Crash is an album with a little bit of everything, and it’s an album that really showcases what every member as well as the band as a whole has to offer. This album — this style — might not be for everybody, but it’s certainly something everyone should try. And it’s an album that probably makes my top 5.

Like this album? Hate this album? Share any strong, weak, or ambivalent feelings below in the comments, on my Facebook page, or on Twitter @notreallyindie. Until the next time I feel like writing, keep listening 🙂

Lately I’ve forgone the honorable mentions section, but I think it’s time for a revival: Crash Into Me, Too Much, Drive In Drive Out, Lie In Our Graves, and of course, #41. Seriously. Listen to it.

Who Covered Who?

So it took me awhile to update this one and here is why. I originally wrote about Glass Animals and had the post like 80% done but then I completely changed my mind and I haven’t had time to write the new one. Instead of writing about an album this time, I’m writing about my top 5 favorite covers. Glass Animals is soon to come, and I’m kind of thinking of posting about Catfish again because good god were they amazing. Anyways, on to the music.

All Along the Watchtower
Cover Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Original Artist: God Only Knows (Kidding, it’s Bob Dylan)

I remember one time I had a conversation with my best friends mom about Dave Matthews Band, and I remember her asking, “Do you know what drives me crazy about Dave Matthews Band?” I asked her what, and she told me that they cover “All Along the Watchtower” like it’s their own song. I guess some people are entitled to that opinion. I full-heartedly disagree, however.

I like this version because it throws in a little Hendrix, it throws in a little Dylan, and it mixes it all up with DMB. Over the years it’s become an up to twelve minute spectacle that builds into the best jam ever. And I really mean that. “Watchtower” as us DMB fans call it is possibly one of my favorite things to watch the band play. Hell, even Bob Dylan himself likes DMB’s version.

The Man Who Sold The World
Cover Artist: Nirvana
Original Artist: David Bowie

I’m just gonna get this out of the way, cause it’s something I’ll get a lot of hate for: I am all for David Bowie. Really I am. But Bowie’s version of this song is just weird.

“The Man Who Sold The World” is another one of those songs that is pretty famous for how many people have covered it. The song itself has a bit of an ambiguous meaning, but the lyrics are sort of about someone’s multiple personalities and finding oneself. It’s kind of a horror twist on a coming of age kind of deal. The reason I like Nirvana’s version better is because of what Kurt Cobain brings to it, and honestly the content is probably why the song was important enough to him to even bother covering it. Seriously, listen. It’ll put you in a dark mood though — don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Do I Wanna Know?
Cover Artist: MS MR
Original Artist: Arctic Monkeys

I love the Arctic Monkeys. I love MS MR (post about them to come soon). And I love this song. So naturally I love that MS MR covered this song, and I’m extremely jealous of Alexandra cause she got to see it live and I have to rely on YouTube. Oh well.

Why do I like this cover? Well besides the fact that it’s almost impossible to not have a major girl crush on Lizzy Plapinger, the duo manages to take the song, smooth it out, add a few things, stir in a little funk, and it still keeps to the original. Despite the fact that they’ve put their own spin on it, it’s got the same emotion with a slightly different tone. Basically, this is a perfect example of how covers should be done.

We Can’t Stop
Cover Artist: Bastille
Original Artist: Miley Cyrus

I know, Miley. Gross. Really can’t stand her (though she doesn’t irk me as much as she used to, surprisingly). Hot damn Bastille turned this song to gold though. I’m not even kidding when I say you can actually take this song somewhat seriously.

The cover starts with a sick bass, includes some great piano, a violin, a tad bit of guitar work, need I say more? And despite the overall serious tone Bastille brings to the song, Dan Smith makes fun of the cover a little by adding the line “only Dad can judge us” (instead of “only God judge us), and throwing a little bit of “Achy Breaky Heart” in just for kicks and grins. Because I’m posting this, you guys had better watch to the end because it’s hilarious.

Hold On We’re Going Home
Cover Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Original Artist: Drake

This totally makes the list because, despite the fact that I don’t really listen to or even like Drake, I’ve heard this song a million times and the Arctic Monkeys completely transform it. They take the song and give it a totally different vibe. It sounds like something that should be in a Target commercial and I mean that in a fantastic way (not even a hint of sarcasm, even though it totally sounds like it). They turn it into a funky almost dance number that sounds like it should’ve come out of another era, and Turner’s voice is completely magical as he serenades you with Drake’s words. I think this is my favorite version of this song. So you should listen.

I highly recommend listening to all of these. Until next time, keep listening!

Catfishing

Look at that. A post that was promised and it’s even on time. Please, hold the applause.

Album: The Balcony                                                      Artist: Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish

Honestly, I don’t know that much about this band. They’re from Whales, which is pretty cool. I don’t know about that many bands from Whales. I do know that they’re fairly new on the scene having just come together in 2010. According to their Wikipedia page, they started off playing covers of The Beatles (which earns them mad respect points) and eventually moved on to writing their own stuff. Originally they just played “opening” gigs in parking lots before other artists’ shows. Soon enough they got their record deal in 2013 and emerged fast by playing the festival route the following year. In September of 2014 they dropped their debut, The Balcony. That was in the UK. Don’t ask me when the good ol’ U.S. of A got it cause I can’t tell you.

So before I say anything about the band or the album, I want to point out that frontman Van McCann (not his real name, but I wish it was) claims his inspiration comes from The Strokes and Oasis. What does this tell us? 1) he has really good taste in music and 2) he’s fond of 90s music. He might be my favorite person already. And might I just say, Catfish nails it.

Now Ben Homewood of NME called Catfish’s sound “about nine years too late.” He said it (or, wrote it rather) pretty negatively. His review called The Balcony “ham-fisted” (whatever that means) and goes on to slam McCann’s lyrics and the band’s overall sound.

My opinion? Homewood just doesn’t appreciate what Catfish is bringing to the table. Or maybe I’m just sentimental. This album is about nine years too late, and I can give him that. But it’s honestly something that needs to be here and now.

So what is their overall sound? Well if Oasis and The Strokes had a baby that grew up to become a rebellious indie teenager under the influence of The Arctic Monkeys, it would be Catfish and the Bottlemen. So let’s talk about that for a second.

First of all, I have mad respect for the band. They said they wanted to sound like The Strokes and Oasis and they do (if not a little lighter on the Oasis side). Not many really pull that off. So maybe that’s a good thing, and maybe that’s a bad thing. Maybe they aren’t original enough. Maybe they know exactly who they want to be as musicians. It could go either way. Regardless, they bring the “indie” sound to an old favorite.

Now The Balcony had it’s fair share of singles. Usually I hate people who only know/talk about the singles, but I’m gonna be that person for a second. I feel like CATB definitely picked their strongest songs to release, and it did them a world of good. “Pacifier” opens up with a distorted guitar riff that’s just screechy enough to hear a definite melody. It’s fast paced and heavy on the drums, and McCann’s actually quite the vocalist. There’s something to say about artists who aren’t afraid to roughen their voice. It’s quite honestly 90s-tastic. And if The Strokes’ influence wasn’t apparent enough in that track, there’s always the ever so pop-rock “Kathleen.”

As far as lyrics, I can admit that McCann has some work to do. He wrote most of The Balcony’s tracks when he was just fifteen and sixteen, so yeah. Some of them are the work of a teenage boy. But some of them hold insight that most sixteen year old boys don’t have. For example, in “Pacifier,” McCann mourns a lack of understanding with a lover as he cries “You just don’t know how it feels to lose/something you never had and never will,” which is a concept I think most people don’t often think about.

The Balcony received mixed reviews. Most critics put it somewhere in the high-middle. Some loved it. Some (like Mr. Homewood) hated it. Regardless of what other critics think though, I liked the album. It’s got something that I think a lot of younger people missed out on in the late 90s and early 2000s — something that I think they shouldn’t have missed out on, and something I was very fortunate to be very exposed to (thanks Lindsay & Erin!). Catfish is merely reviving their opportunity.

Personally, I think they’re a band who know exactly who they want to be. I like what they’ve got and they can only grow from here. I’m very excited to see where they take their sudden fame. And I’m also very excited to see them next month.

Until next week (or whenever the hell it is I post these days), keep listening 🙂

Make Yourself (update your blog)

Well last week was a disaster. I think that’s the first week I can officially say I didn’t post anything. I kinda feel like I failed. I didn’t post a playlist. I didn’t post anything else. I just didn’t post. I even started to post and then didn’t. I wasn’t even LATE, I just didn’t post. I officially suck at life, but hey, there’s a first time for everything, right? I still don’t have any Jimmy Eat World for you, so I kinda feel like it’s not going to happen and it’s honestly out of pure laziness. And not to mention, I’m a day late on this week. But whatever. I have something good for you. You’re welcome.

Album: Make Yourself                                                             Artist: Incubus

Wow, I just noticed that that's like a robot thing up in the corner.... SWEET.
Wow, I just noticed that that’s like a robot thing up in the corner…. SWEET.

There are a lot of good albums I could have pulled from Incubus, but I chose this one for a reason. You see, it might be arrogant of me, but I like to be able to say a band’s name and have someone I know with questionable taste in music be like “Who?” because then I can say, “Trust me you’ve heard them.” And I’m usually right because believe it or not, the music I like was what all the cool kids listened to at some point. Anyway, here we have Make Yourself, with quite possibly the biggest song of the late 90s/early 2000s with “Drive.” Look it up. Told you you’ve heard them. You may have been four or five, but you know you did.

But on to the album, right? I think what I like most about Incubus is that they do kind of encompass the spirit of the late 90s/early 2000s to me. And they managed to do all that stuff that mainstream rock was doing all at once and they made it work, and they didn’t sell out. Plus they have a DJ who does that scratching thing that people of my generation have only seen in movies. It’s like the best of mainstream 2000 combined with ultimate stoner rock.

Make Yourself was put out in October of 1999. It was Incubus’ third album, and it was a little different than Fungus Amongus and S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Make Yourself was slightly more… I guess the word I’m looking for is “subtle,” even though that’s not a word that’s entirely appropriate for the album, but it best conveys my meaning. What I’m getting at is that the band added some variety. Instead of all out raging all the time (don’t get me wrong, cause it rocks hardcore), songs like “The Warmth” and “Stellar” bring in a (for lack of a better word) mellower aspect before the rock n roll really hits. It’s a pretty good way to keep the album moving. It settles into a groove, it builds, and it slips right back into the groove. It’s a good change up, because it keeps the listeners on their toes and appeals to those who prefer raging Incubus and those who prefer mellow Incubus.

Now, what’s unique about Incubus is that they’ve managed to put out a lot of albums, always tweak their sound, and never lose their fanbase (until MAYBE their last album, but I’m holding out for a really good release next year). Make Yourself is a good example of this talent, especially since they dropped DJ Lyfe for DJ Kilmore. Maybe this didn’t have a huge impact on their sound change, but it sure seemed to. I find Kilmore’s sound more prominent than Lyfe’s was and Kilmore’s sound gives the record kind of a mystical feel, apparent on one of the albums singles “Pardon Me.”

I think it’s pretty apparent that this album wasn’t exactly industry changing, and as Tyler Fischer of Sputnik Music puts it, it wasn’t technically challenging either (his review is here). But despite these facts, it’s a great album. It takes you from the hit single “Drive” (which is actually fairly unrepresentative of the album as a whole) to the groove “Battlestar Scralatchtica” to the more familiar roll and toil of “When It Comes” and “Out From Under.” Brandon Boyd’s vocals and lyrics improved in my opinion too. He’s depressingly hopeful (total oxymoron there) in “The Warmth,” an easy groove with silky vocals and a bass that doesn’t quit. The chorus, which urges the listener “Don’t let the world bring you down” and “Remember why you came here and while you’re alive/experience the warmth before you grow old,” really resonates with the listener.

My final words for this album are “experience the warmth,” and really appreciate what Make Yourself has to offer. Not only does it rock your socks off, but its got a great message that Boyd manages to keep from being cheesy. I think Dirk Lance is one of the better bassists to come out of the 90s, Mike Einziger has mastered the art of switching up his style on the fly, and Incubus is a band that has a lot of chemistry. Brandon Boyd really expanded as a vocalist with this album and I really do find the addition of DJ Kilmore did a lot for the band — if you’re looking for an experience thats about as 90s/2000s as it gets, “Battlestar Scralatchtica” is your jam. I think this album marks a major growth for the band and might make my top list for the early 2000s.

So that’s what I have for you. I really encourage you to go listen to this album because just about everyone I’ve met who has given Incubus a shot hasn’t had regret. Until next week, and I really do mean next week and not the week after, keep listening!

Honorable Song Mentions: Drive (so help me God you had better know this one already), Stellar, Pardon Me, Privilege, The Warmth, and last but not least Battlestar Scralatchtica

Sometimes I Suck At Life

Well then. This is late, even by my standards. This is like so late I don’t even know how to explain myself. It’s not that I forgot! It’s just I kept being like “Maddie, go write your blog,” and then I’d get distracted with this really annoying thing called school work, and then the cycle would repeat and here we are. Well, here I am with Alexandra in Asheville getting ready to see Jimmy Eat World tomorrow. There you are sitting at your computer or smart phone reading this.

The point is, I was going to write about Jimmy Eat World but I didn’t feel comfortable enough with one straight album and Best Buy crapped out on me and didn’t have any JEW at all. So unfortunately, I have no post this week 😦 I wish I had something for you, and I’ll definitely be writing about Jimmy Eat World next week, but that’s all I’ve got now. I hope no one is too disappointed with me. Until then, keep listening to this playlist I have for you! I know, it’s getting old but just roll with it. It’s another one heavy on the 90s 🙂

  • Bliss — Muse
  • The Ocean Breathes Salty — Modest Mouse
  • Sex On Fire — Kings of Leon
  • Good Riddance — Green Day
  • Reptilia — The Strokes
  • Here It Goes Again — OK Go
  • The Original — Incubus
  • Inside Out — Eve 6
  • Everlong — The Foo
  • Name — The Goo Goo Dolls
  • Paper Planes — MIA
  • The Middle — Jimmy Eat World
  • I Believe In A Thing Called Love — The Darkness

What’s The Fuss About?

Once again, I’m cutting it close (and by close I mean late), but my suit mate has made it her personal goal to keep me on track despite the fact that she doesn’t read. Oh well. This week is kind of an important one, so if you don’t know any of these songs you probably should go listen to them now.

Album: Hot Fuss                                                                           Artist: The Killers

the killers

So lets talk about The Killers for a second. But before we do that, let’s pause for just a moment to appreciate that their name is The Killers because I like it. Like are they murderers, or are they just killing it all the time? (I know, I’m being so lame but it’s also midnight).

ANYWAY, Hot Fuss was The Killers’ first album, and was produced by a British record company called Lizard King Records. But what was that? They aren’t British? I won’t lie, I actually did think that The Killers were British for a long time (I mean, Flowers’ fake accent isn’t that bad) mostly because they played the UK seriously before the US and they record in the UK, etc… but they are in fact from Las Vegas. Not Los Angeles, Las Vegas. I know, I know. Not the stereotypical California you’d expect. I mean who would ever guess Nevada? But that isn’t the point.

A lot of this album was put together with Jeff Saltzman (who I do believe is a former manager for Green Day) as demos, but most of the demos from their earlier days made it onto Hot Fuss, which dropped in 2004. I think a lot of people my age and older certainly remember the singles “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me,” because I know I sure do. I actually really associate The Killers with my older sister’s swimming days because I remember these songs playing in the car when I was little and we drove her to and fro. Again, not the point though. The point is this is an excellent album, especially for a debut.

The album opens with “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine,” which is an upbeat, pop/rock funky mix that starts the album off pretty aggressively, but man is it a good song. The fist time I listened to Hot Fuss all the way through I remember getting about halfway through “Jenny” and thinking, “Yeah. This is gonna be a good album.”

The Killers’ sound is the perfect combination of that 90s rock n’ roll I love so much and everything that was good from the 80s. Between the funky bass, the 90s guitar riffs, and Flowers’ keyboard, it’s the perfect 80s/90s lovechild. There are heavy influences from the likes of Duran Duran and The Cure (to name a few), but also that late 90s sound of The Strokes and arguably the Smashing Pumpkins. And it just works. There’s a lot of talent in The Killers, and the members seem to mesh well together.

In fact, Hot Fuss actually makes for great running music. Most of it’s tempos are held fast, the best example of this being “Somebody Told Me.” The music seems to fly by, even as Flowers pleads “Pace yourself for me/I said maybe baby, please.” And overall, I find myself pretty impressed with Brandon Flowers’ lyrics. I mean, we can all admit it: some of them are kind of cheesy (example, “Smile like you mean it”), but then there are lines like “Save some face/You know you’ve only got one,” found in “Smile Like You Mean It” or the somewhat gospel-like anthem “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier,” found in “All These Things That I’ve Done.”

Hot Fuss has it’s slower moments though; “Andy, You’re a Star” opens with a somewhat raunchy guitar riff, but turns into a pretty impressive ballad and “Everything Will Be Alright” is a kinda creepy synthesizer anthem with strangely beautiful lyrics.

I guess what it all boils down to is this: Hot Fuss was kind of a big deal. It made not just one, but two of Rolling Stones’ top 100 lists (including Top 100 of the Decade and Top 100 Greatest Debuts). The Killers are the perfect example of how pop and rock can mesh together to make good, mainstream music that isn’t trash. If you ask me, we need another band like them now.

Any suggestions? Leave them here, Twitter, or Facebook! Until next week, keep listening 🙂

Honorable Song Mentions: Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, Smile Like You Mean It, All These Things That I’ve Done, On Top, Midnight Show

Run Run Run

Ok, I’m really late. I actually thought about updating last night and then just sort of forgot because I was studying for a bio test. You see, if I want to keep updating my blog (which I do because I get some sort of enjoyment out of this) I actually have to get ahead on homework. Which I managed last week. And in the fact that I managed it I lulled myself into a false sense of security and got really behind again this week. So unfortunately, because I suck at life and I have a bio test today (I know, it’s Thursday, I’m sorry) you all get yet another list of really good music from me. But to make it up to you, I’ll actually make another playlist on youtube for you and post the link. Maybe not the second this goes up but definitely by tomorrow night. And with that, here’s what I run to at 7:00am.

  • Muscle Museum — Muse
  • The Hardest Button to Button — The White Stripes
  • Arlandria — The Foo Fighters
  • Easily — Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Oil And Water — Incubus
  • Citizen Erased — Muse
  • Frank Sinatra — Cake
  • I Believe In A Thing Called Love — The Darkness
  • Fell In Love With A Girl — The White Stripes
  • Imitation of Life — R.E.M.
  • Hero — The Foo Fighters
  • Around The World — Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The World Has Turned And Left Me Here — Weezer
  • Orange Crush — R.E.M.
  • Pardon Me — Incubus
  • Zombie — The Cranberries

My runs at 7:00 aren’t very long 🙂 What do you exercise to? Until next week, keep listening!

run

When French Gets the Best of You…

So I got swamped with French homework this week, and I should have been more on top of it but I wasn’t and so it was all my fault. So unfortunately, you all just get another playlist this week. Jane, I promise it’s coming next week, even though I promised it this week.

I dedicate this one to my band director Michelle Clupper, because it more or less was inspired by The Beatles’ “Michelle.”

cropped-records.jpg

  • Michelle — The Beatles
  • New Kid In Town — The Eagles
  • I Feel Free — Cream
  • Handle With Care — The Traveling Wilburys
  • Octopus’s Garden — The Beatles
  • Eye In The Sky — The Alan Parson’s Project (great band, I’m not afraid to admit it)
  • Thunder Road — Bruce Springsteen
  • Hey You — Pink Floyd
  • End Of The Line — The Traveling Wilburys
  • Brothers In Arms — Dire Straits
  • The Man Who Sold The World — Nirvana (originally by Bowie)
  • Livin’ Thing — ELO
  • Fluorescent Adolescence — The Arctic Monkeys
  • Give Me Novocaine — Green Day
  • The Story In Your Eyes — The Moody Blues
  • Girl From The North Country — Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

It’s a short one, but it’s what I’ve got and it’s full of some great ones that most of my readers probably haven’t heard before. Maybe I’ll even link this one to YouTube at some point in the future. Any additions? Thoughts? Comment below 🙂 Until next week, when I promise to finally write about the album I’ve been promising my friend Jane for two months, keep listening!