Monday, July 31, 2006

Just so you know where I stand...

My favorite albums by the big bands:

The Beatles: Rubber Soul (US Version)
The Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet / Let It Bleed (it's a toss up)
The Who: Quadrophenia
The Kinks: The Village Green Preservation Society (I know, it's everybody's favorite...)
Led Zeppelin: Presence
Pink Floyd: Animals
Elton John: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
The Eagles: None. I fucking hate the Eagles and hope that they all die in a firey airplane crash.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This Album Melted My Brain #1

The Sea and Cake The Biz (Thrill Jockey, 1995)

Could this be the greatest album of all time? Almost every goddamn person on earth who wastes their time talking about rock music would have you believe that Revolver by The Moptops holds that distinction, but I'm here to set you all straight.

Jeezus, I don't even think you could really call this album "rock music". The sounds created by Chicago's indie supergroup on this, their third release from way back in the middle of the moldy 90's, hold such a beauty that I'm sure my words aren't going to be able to convey anything truly accurate. Well, I'll try anyway.

Somewhere over the rough terrain of popular musical forms glides the sleek spaceship-car of The Sea and Cake, coasting over the craggy boulders of Rock and sweeping through the sick canyons of Jazz in an effortless motion that is not nearly as vomit enducing as this sentence has become. In fact, the heavenly noise captured on tape by these geniuses of modern music, if magically transformed into solid form, would be a new kind of vomit sawdust to make even the most vile-smelling spew smell like the freshest rose.

Now that I've been truly ridiculous, let me get deadly serious: The Biz is an album of such remarkable beauty and inspiration that it aurally dresses me up in silk trousers and paints just the right amount of rouge on my slender cheeks, effectively tarting me up for a night of savage rumpy-pumpy with a foppish expressionist painter.

Now let me get ridiculous again: There really isn't a whole lot that I can safely compare the sound of this album to. For me it was so subtle upon the first few listens that it kinda didn't really sound like much and I almost never listened to it again. But for some reason I kept returning to it as if there was a nagging feeling in the back of my brain that some kind of greatness lurked beneath the swirling synths, jazzy guitar chords, hypnotic drums, and mumbled vocals.

You're probably thinking that The Biz is some sort of electronic acid-jazz bullshit, but I shit you not, it's not. The main instruments used are of the "classic rock and roll" variety; that is, drums and guitars with some organ. Those "swirling synths" are used tastefully as a coloring kinda thing instead of the focus of the band sound (like the boys would later do). I guess you could say that it's fairly jazzy sounding but without all of the quaint shucking and jiving Dixieland crap or plasticized Kenny G bullshit that most people associate with music of that genre.

There are actual songs here, by the way. The structures aren't the same as your normal variety pop and roll but are clever without being unlistenable. Some songs have choruses and others have instrumental refrains instead of choruses, but it's all about melody, right? A great melody is great wether it's sung or played on a "Electro Comp 101" (whatever the hell that is). These melodies stick in my brain like a broken-off oar from a lifeboat ascending straight into a marshmellow and unicorn covered heaven. Yeah, that means HEAVY DUTY MELODY to all you squares out there who aren't hip to the healing power of unicorns.

And what about the vocals? Singer/guitarist/god Sam Prekop mumbles, slurs, and bullshits his way through some of the greatest vocals and lyrics that have ever been improvised this side of an imaginary being made from the cross-polinated DNA of Kool Keith and Michael Stipe. [By the way, Sam, if you did thoroughly compose all of those lyrics, I'm sorry. They do sound like you made them up on the spot and they're absofuckinglutely brilliant.]

As I kept returning to the album, that nagging brain malfunction turned into a full-blown obsession which has never really left me. This is truly the only album that I have listened to over and over again without ever getting sick of it - and I get sick of lots of stuff quickly. I know it may be corny to say this, but I really do hear something new every time I put this plastic platter into my player. The subtleness that my ears heard the first few times has slowly morphed into a dense aural experience I can only really liken to being hit with a velvety sledgehammer.

I could go into individual songs but by this point, what with me spouting off about silk trousers and velvety sledgehammers, you probably just want this "review" to end so you can go grab another beer from the fridge. However, I caution you to go get this album immediately or suffer the humiliation of never hearing the greatest work of music ever recorded by anybody - ever. Won't you feel like a total dipshit for missing out on something like that?

Best Albums Ever!

So what I'm gonna do now is start writing about some albums that I know will melt your brains because they're so completely awesome. So when you see an entry entitled This Album Melted My Brain #6,347: Pete's Dragon Original Soundtrack or The Hand of God Touched My Butthole... With Sound!!! #34,399,201: The Monkees Pool It or some such nonsense, you'll know what's going on.

Just keeping you posted.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Syd Barrett, R.I.P.