This Week’s Albums:
August 1st, 2015
IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…
that doesn’t rhyme. “ I do a D.J. gig every week; I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts)- in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose). Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; from FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun. I get to talk to people (about music); play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds (well, I try to). I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you had forgotten about.
The Old: Pink Floyd- Wish You Were Here (1975)
Following the success of Dark Side of the Moon- an album that by all means, changed the face of music- the band produced Wish You Were Here: an album that differs yet contains the same quality and sense of genius. Where D.S.o.t.M. was a dark and challenging listen- ethereal and haunting the one moment; disturbed and shivering the next- Wish You Were Here (an album about and inspired by, Syd Barrett) is a gentler, more textured thing. Although there are few songs (five in total) the songs are sweeping and grand- no track is shorter than 5:24 (Have a Cigar); the Shine On You Crazy Diamond suites (that bookmark the album) total 26 minutes. The band have gone on record stating (the album ranks as their) favourite; a pleasure to listen to- their crowning achievement. From Welcome to the Machine’s pulsing build-up- fractured electronics and aching vocals- to the title track’s heartbreaking lyrics (“We’re just two lost souls/Swimming in a fish bowl”); it is a phenomenal achievement- an album that should be cherished by everyone.
The New: The Maccabees- Marks to Prove It (2015)
An album that has been greeted by mixed reviews; it is your classic vote-splitting album: an L.P. that is intriguing and impressive yet not strong enough to draw new fans. The London band’s fourth album sees them in fine voice- I would give the album 8/10 for interest’s sake- and following up 2012’s Given to the Wild. This time around the group sounds inspired and united; in love with the act of making music- a band finding their true voice. Spit it Out- the finest track of their career- begins with gentle piano; the atmosphere builds (the vocal is both tender and haunted) and flourishes- the song explodes into life. Not just a simple fluke, the band follows this up (with four or five similarly ambitious tracks). The title track is a rushing paen to the strains of modern life; the stresses and oddities of our society/city life. With its racing vocals- a composition that hurries and scrambles- it is a tremendous gem. Perfect for nights in- or dancing in the summer sun- the album contains ounces of passion and heart; insight and drama- awash with stunning tracks. Whilst not their strongest album, it still shows a band that are at the top of their game- with plenty more to say…
The Influencer: The Smiths- The Smiths (1984)
One of the most influential acts of the ‘80s- the decade was not a complete car crash- The Smiths have inspired a huge amount of bands- half of the bands I review regularly possess Smiths-esque touches. Morrissey’s witty and unique lyrics; his stunning and semi-operatic voice- tied to Johnny Marr’s stunning guitar work- came together in their debut L.P. This Charming Man is the iconic standout: the song that remains their most quoted/famous. Although The Smiths turned in better albums- The Queen is Dead is their finest cut- they were fully-formed from the off- turning in an album that changed the face of guitar music in the U.K. It was not just the songs’ structures that were radical- breaking away from the verse-chorus-verse predictability- but the lyrics and compositions. The former looked at everything from sexual frustration to child molestation; violence to homosexuality. The album started a revolution in music; the public were staggered (by the Manchester band’s) sound and innovation- in no small part due to Morrissey’s wonderful penmanship. With his delirious croon bringing the subjects to life, Marr laced the songs with intelligence, emotion and diversity- a stunning arranger and wonderful guitarist. An album that will continue to inspire and amaze.
The ‘Other One’: Nelly Furtado- Whoa, Nelly! (2000)
The stunning Canadian singer burst onto the scene with Whoa, Nelly! Differing from the crop of singer-songwriters (of the era), Furtado’s distinct style and projection took critics by surprise. Amidst the sea of Pop puppets- and premed princess of the scene- Furtado was a refreshing antidote. Her scatting and note-bending fused with elongation and unique quirks- making her songs stand out impressively. Filling the album with upbeat and positivity, the young singer displayed a sense of wit and naivety (some of the lyrics and songs fall short but they are few and far between). Turn Off the Light is an infectious and album standout- that shows Furtado at her eccentric and mesmeric best- and is one of my all-time favourite songs. I’m Like a Bird is the singer’s “freedom song”- a simple narrative that is impossible to forget. Shit on the Radio (Remember the Days) does what it says; it’s the response to market forces- that desire to ‘fit in’ with the modern scene; hence the outpouring of dirges and bland songs. The entire album brings sunshine and smile; it is to played loud and proud- a perfect solution to the capricious nature of a British summer. If you have not checked it out, then there are no excuse- and dare to prove me wrong.