Friday, September 30, 2011

Up Shit Creek, No Paddle

I love Ween.

There I said it. With Ween, you either do or you don't. If you don't, you can probably stop reading this post now.

For anyone still remaining, I was flipping through records looking for something to get me in a traveling mood. I'm gettin' the fuck out of Dodge this weekend. Goin' to my motherfuckin' cabin on the lake. Gonna set me down on the dock and pretend to fish. Maybe shoot me my gun in the woods. Vacation: Fuck Yeah!

So...back to the vinyls (cringe). I'm headed to the country, so what we would be better than country music?

"Ween...Country?" you ask.

You're god damned right; Ween has a country album (two actually). The first, 12 Golden Country Greats, I will review this evening. To be completely honest, this is my all time favorite country album. Gene and Dean pulled together a group veteran Nashville musicians to record their first country offering. This group, who they later toured with under the name The Shit Creek Boys, really bring a classic Nashville country feel to the album. Dobro, harmonica, fiddle; every element is there.

So let's get to it.

Ween - 12 Golden Country Greats

There are a number of vinyl pressings for most of Ween's catalog. The copy of 12 Golden Country Greats that I will review is the most recent reissue for this album. It is packaged in a glossy jacket with a heavyweight custom inner sleeve. The vinyl is marbled brown as Boognish would require.

The front of the jacket is a painting of a Marlboro Man-esque cowboy herding steed across a dusty landscape. His lasso at the ready, his eyes survey the herd from behind leather lids. If that isn't country, I don't know what the fuck is. The vinyl itself is a beautiful marbled brown. Ween has a certain fascination with the color brown, I missed the memo as to why exactly. Custom labels showcase a close up of the Marlboro Man.

The back jacket once again utilizes the cowboy image. The track list is overlayed in plain black lettering. The custom inner sleeve displays the track listing divided by side. The reverse of the sleeve credits the performers.

The first track, "I'm Holding You," is a really smooth country ballad. Gene's vocals on this track are really nice, but not in the connotative sense. They sound friendly and gentle. The steel pedal is featured prominently in this track and it really melds with the twangy country vocals. I want Gene to hold me after listening.

The second track, "Japanese Cowboy," is a more upbeat affair. The lyrics play with oxymorons: blizzards in Georgia, brothers on skates, trains running late. They allude to the feeling off noticing something amiss, specifically your lover. You can really pat your knee and lift your toes to this track.

"Piss Up a Rope" is likely the track, if any, you have heard off of this album. It's a shitty little tune about a man fed up with his wife. This track is...okay. It's not really my thing, but everyone else seems to like it. The lyrics are occasionally funny, but mostly just crass and juvenile. There's a neat little guitar solo, that's probably the only thing I really take away from this track. In true Ween fashion, this song is shit.

The fourth track, "I Don't Want to Leave You on the Farm." is a really excellent track. The fiddle drives the melody of this track, it is rootsy country at its finest. The lyrics add to the melancholy melody as they tell a story of a man on the road agonizing about leaving his lady on the farm. "Days go by and I'm still high, but you know, I'm thinkin' about you." Great lyricism, great feel, and very emotive; a killer cut.

Side A concludes with "Pretty Girl." This track is a hoedown (actually, I'm sure hoedown has some technically specific definition and I'm not sure that this track is a hoedown, but I like to imagine that it is). Grab me my jug and tappin' shoes, we goin' down to the barn. This song makes me want to dance, and I am not a dancing man.

Side B begins with "Powder Blue." This track was the center of a little bit of controversy. Originally, it contained an audio sample of Muhammad Ali. Elektra was denied the rights to use the sample by Ali's lawyers pre-production. Somehow, Elektra managed to accidentally press a few copies with the sample uncut. I believe that the British import still has the sample, but I'm not entirely sure. This pressing does not contain the sample. It made me sad the first time I heard the track, they just awkwardly cut when Gene cues the Muhammad Ali sample. Excepting all that, this track is great. The vocals are twangy as fuck, true country. Gene introduces each member of the band as they perform short solos showcasing all of the instrument in classic country fashion. I just can't get over the absence of the Ali sample.

"Mister Richard Smoker" is a silly little song. Bordering on homophobic, it flirts the line between funny and offensive. Not the best track on the album, but there is some pretty good instrumentation. The short horn section is really good. The lyrics center around Mister Richard Smoker, he smokes big dick. I think that's about all there is to say.

The following track, "Help Me Scrape the Mucus of My Brain," is my favorite cut on this album. The lyrics chronicle a shitty morning of a shitty drunk. He spent the dog food money, that Frenchman loves to party. The track swings along Dobro and steel peddle, it really grooves. The middle of the track does a round of solos featuring each instrument. It effectively conveys the feeling of an apology of a drunk crawling back to the one that really loves him enough to help him scrape the mucus of his brain.

"You Were the Fool" is another sweet country ballad. This track has an almost Grateful Dead feel, like I'm listening to Terrapin Station. The lyrics are fanciful, we speak with turtles just by flippin' them around. We plug holes until we see straight through to the Mind's Eye. They seem to be the words of a friend offering help. Offering a way to reconnect with the world. A way to speak with the turtles just by flippin' them around...

..flippin' them around.
flip them around
You can speak with a turtle just by flippin' them around
Look the turtle in the Mind's Eye
Plug the hole with sticks and look the turtle in the eye.
Woah, woah I just...I think I'm...I'm...

I'm back.

The last track, "Fluffy," is fucking bawss. Gene drops his vocals an octave or so (not with effects) and tells us the story of Fluffy, a disobedient pooch. After an encounter with law enforcement, Fluffy is confined to the porch. The guitar kicks in and slowly builds to a really emotive solo, probably the best of the album. "Live in Toronto" also closes with this track and though the version on the studio album is excellent, it is definitely surpassed by its live counterpart.

This pressing of the album is really reasonably priced, but for a really reasonable reason. Absent the Muhammad Ali vocal sample, this is definitely not the pressing of this album to get. You can snag this one for about $20 brand new, but the original Flying Nun release is fucking impossible to find. It originally came with a t-shirt transfer and some other goodies, I desire it greatly. I am unsure if it contains the Ali sample, but at its current price I would definitely investigate before purchasing. As far as this press goes, I would say buy it. If you're a fan of country music or Ween, you will enjoy it.

Welp, time to get packed and head out west (actually east). I'll be MIA until Monday getting drunk and stoned and operating heavy machinery and firearms.

Fuck Yeah: Vacation!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Venous Ataxia; No Hace El Cuerpo

Mind Blown.

De-loused in the Comatorium blew my fucking mind. I recall the first time I heard The Mars Volta, one particularly slow evening stocking CDs. The name sounded familiar when I saw the jewel case in the queue, I believe Inertiatic ESP was getting radio play on some of the Clear Channel stations. But I did not expect that my musical horizons were soon to be expanded so greatly.

The Mars Volta really spawned my interest in progressive rock. They opened up my ears to a genre that soon became the driving interest of my quest for new music. After acquiring every piece of Volta I could track down, I went all Hungry Hungry Hippo for prog-rock. Overpriced Bubble Puppy reissues, Wishbone Ash, as much Gentle Giant as I could find; I bought it all. Living rent free in my girlfriends apartment really opened up my discretionary income, but I would not say that I used discretion when purchasing vinyl. Frankly, I wasted a ton of money on albums that I still have yet to listen to. I do not regret it now though, at least I have a reason to give that Amon Duul album a spin.

Today though, I review The Mars Volta's second full length offering, Frances the Mute.

The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute

There are two vinyl pressing of Frances the Mute. The regular 3 LP version (which is the one I own and am reviewing) and a 4 LP special edition that contains the single, "The Widow." While I yearn for the special edition, the vanilla press is sweet nonetheless. The glossy tri-fold jacket houses three LPs, each with custom sleeves and labels. The colors are really deep and saturated, I really like the packaging on this album.

The exterior of the jacket displays a somewhat disturbing picture of two automobiles passing each other, their driver's heads are covered in red velvet bags. The imagery that The Mars Volta alternates between esoteric and improvisational, much like their lyrics. Though I am sure much of the artwork in this album is steeped in meaning, I can not wrap my head around the message (if any) being conveyed. The image is flipped upside down on the back of the jacket, the spine is also reversible. The third pocket of the jacket folds inside the front and back. It displays a figure perched precariously on an immense tangle of roots. This image is cast through a kaleidoscope and etched onto the sixth side of the album.

Did I mention that I love vinyl etching?

The interior of the jacket houses two more photographs. One depicts two more hooded figures seated in the back of a car. I get a Guantanamo Bayish feel, these photographs are fairly unsettling. The second photograph, spanning the other two partitions of the jacket, is set in a desolate industrial roadway. A hooded figure straddles the top bar of his bicycle and is focused on a mannequin viewing its reflection in a mirror. The reflection, however, is not a mannequin. A man in a suit appears in the mirror, but his face is curiously absent, that part of the image falls in the void between the pockets. I have to wonder if this was intentional.

Enough with the artwork, let's get to the listening.

This album, at over seventy minutes in length, is a fucking marathon of Rock. Of the five tracks, only one is less than ten minutes long. Side 1 contains the first two tracks, "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus" and "The Widow." The vinyl here looks perfect, I've only played it once. It begins with a soft guitar, tumultuous and twangy beneath reserved lyrics. After a moment, the band kicks in. The percussion really drives this track while effects laden guitar tangentially explores the melody. The vocals seethe with emotion.

I will take a moment to address the lyrics here, and will not revisit them unless I am really struck by a particular line. The lyrics for this album were essentially improvised during recording. Omar chose to record each instrument and performer separately for this album. While recording of the vocals, Omar helped Cedric feel his way through the songs. At times, he would simply use gibberish to find their place, much of the words were actually devised afterwards. The lyrics seems to be the main gripe of The Mars Volta haters. I feel that they are akin to jazz; improvisational, groove oriented, and occasionally discover a lick that is transcendental. Especially in Frances the Mute, discerning their meaning or relation to the story arc of the album is almost entirely pointless. However, Cedric has a knack for stumbling upon impressive one liners that really plumb the depths of stock emotion. I will make an effort to highlight those instances as I review this album.

Side 1 concludes with "The Widow." This is about as close to a ballad that you are going to find in The Mars Volta's catalog. This track was released as a single for radio play, and why it was chosen is readily apparent. This track is exceptionally accessible. Following the "soft verse, LOUD CHORUS, soft verse" pattern it builds to a cathartic release. This track demands your attention for its duration and lulls you out of hypnosis as the melody falls apart leaving you adrift in a sea of synth. This side concludes with a locked groove of what sounds like some sort of out of tune engine.

Side 2 features the track "L'Via L'Viaquez." Following a few seconds revisiting the sound from the locked groove on Side 1, the guitar on this track explodes into an amazing solo. To me it sounds like Jimi Hendrix; there is definitely a classic rock feel to it. The lyrics are in Spanish, adding to the Latin feel of the percussion. I really dig this track, probably my favorite on the album. There are some really interesting percussive sections that inevitably return to one amazing guitar solo after another. Once again this track drifts slowly into ambience, reprising a heavily distorted version of the chorus vocals. Side 2 also ends in a locked groove, coqui frogs chirping melodically.

Side 3, "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore," begins with a long section of the coqui frogs. Eerie vocals begin to fill the background as the track builds into a melancholy horn section. The lyrics on this track are very dark, families are separated, children go blind, everyone turns away. This track culminates at around midpoint and slowly falls away into another locked groove, about one bar of music.

The remaining track, "Cassandra Gemini," is split between sides four and five and concludes the album. It begins spastically and at full volume. After the opening section, strange demonic vocal effects weave a lyrically dense tale. Impenetrably dense, it is nevertheless unnerving. This cut progresses in five sections. There is some more impressive soloing in the first two sections. This builds into a horns section and lyrics concerning drowning ophidians. Side 4 cuts section three, "Faminepulse," in two.

Side 5 begins with the second half of "Faminepulse," a largely ambient section. The composition begins to pull together as we approach the fourth section, "Mulitple Spouse Wounds." What a name. The album ends with a reprise of the first section of Cygnus, "Sarcophagi." "Cassandra Gemini" is an excellent multi-layered beast of a track, it is a very satisfying conlcusion to the album.

Personally, I think this is the first "true" Mars Volta album. Though De-Loused in the Comatorium is excellent, I feel Rick Rubin's influence stunted the development of the album during recording and production. On France the Mute we see Omar Rodriguez-Lopez really begin to unleash. Using an unconventional recording technique and letting in more ambient soundscape sections, this album stands out to me as more complete than the first full length. Though not my favorite Mars Volta album, I would not hesitate to offer it as a first experience for new fans.

The Mars Volta's vinyl versions can be difficult to locate. It is safe to say that when they release something, it is likely worth purchasing from a collector's standpoint. However, unless you have a pretty fat roll in your back pocket, purchasing the first three albums second hand is for huge fans only. Bedlam in Goliath and Octahedron remain reasonable but De-Loused, Frances, and Amputechture float around $100, $70, and $60 respectively. Keep your eyes peeled at garage sales, maybe someone's mom will put their kid's record collection on sale for a dollar a piece and you can buy them all.

No, don't do that. That would be an awful thing to do and you are an awful person for considering doing it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

After the Mind

Whether or not you agree with a Jungian interpretation of the human psyche it can be an interesting lens through which to view the world. The idea of individuation permeates the modern American zeitgeist. There is a strong cultural emphasis placed on defining one's self from the inside out. In my opinion this has in part led to the current fascination with the libertarian ideal of self sufficiency that molds the at times extremist rhetoric of those on the right side of the political spectrum. The inevitable failure of many who practice and believe this paradigm has lead to a trivialization of the concept of metanoia. The concept of mid-life crises has been so engrained into our understanding of personal discovery and progression that it has become expected. The disconnect lies in the resolution of these cases of metanoia; it is not always something that can be accomplished alone. In a culture that places individuality above all other forms of identification, those who are unable to find themselves without help are seen as fundamentally flawed.

Personally, I despise this idea. What we consider to be a "modern human" is in fact genetically identical to the humans that practiced a tribal lifestyle for thousands (if not millions) of years. The idea that we should define ourselves solely from within ignores the basic human need to belong. We have a instinctual desire to group ourselves with those that have similar interests, come from similar backgrounds, and believe in similar ideas. The focus on individuality and individuation has led to a perversion of human nature; we are a tribal animal. We are not panthers, we are not snakes, we do not have the capacity to go it alone. We require the support of others and work best in groups.

Consequently, we ignore those in our society who struggle with metanoia. We feel them to be deserving of their plight. There is a term for this idea, something like the Deserving Victim. The poor are poor because they are lazy. The rape victim deserved it, look at the clothes they were wearing. Conversely, we see those who have accomplished a sense of individuation as superior. The rich are rich because they work hard etc. We seem somewhere along our path to have lost the essential sense of tribal community that has defined the human psyche since its original formation. We are, in essence, hairless tribal apes.

MGMT's opus titled "Metanoia" explores some of these concepts. Originally released as the B side to "Time to Pretend," it was reissued as a 10" vinyl in mid August, 2008 as a limited run of 1,050.

MGMT - Metanoia

This 10" popped up on the distributors site at work one day so I threw one in the cart. At the time, MGMT was exploding into the mainstream. They were everywhere, TV commercials, movies, late night talk shows. Frankly, I was getting burned out. Electric Feel began to inspire a deep rage within me. When the 10" arrived, I was excited to hear something from them that was not widely available and had not been droned into the depths of my consciousness.

The front of the album jacket features a caricaturesque portrait of Carl Jung. He signals a time out with his hands and his wardrobe sets him up to be our mystic referee for the album. The styling is all black and white. It is an interesting analogue to the strictly defined nature of Jungian psychology.

The back of the jacket continues the stark, minimalist motif. It focuses on a ticket to the show with the words "HELP ME!" inked above. The artwork also displays nearly nude drawing of Wyngarden and Goldwasser, their genitals covered with money. Freud would likely have some phallic interpretation of this, however it is beyond my analytical skills at this time in the morning, give me a couple more cups of coffee and I'll make a stab at it.

The B side of the album is etched with a depiction of a referee's whistle. This continues the theme of metanoia, taking a time out to rebuild and rebirth one's pysche. I love etched artwork in vinyl and though this example is fairly simple it is cool as hell.

The interior of the jacket is awash in technocoloric spectrum of color. It suggest that all is not black and white within our minds. It is definitely my favorite part of the packaging on this album. As a whole, the presentation of this vinyl is superb. It fits the thematic elements of the album very well.

The sound quality of this album is excellent, I have zero complaints in that regard. Musically Metanoia flits back and forth between glistening pysch-pop and cacophonic punk. Bursting at the seams with phased synthesizer, it is a really good biopic of MGMT's musical sensibilities. In fact, Metanoia is my favorite recording offered by the group.

Though lyrically obtuse, one can glean a certain sense of Andrew and Ben's struggles with Metanoia. They seems to struggle with their new found fame and the lyrics reflect that struggle. They seek rebirth through the teachings of Satchidananda. They apologize to the referee Jung, and promise to return to his earthly interpretations after attaining enlightenment. The album concludes in a melancholy fashion. They are left alone, and we are left wondering if they have attained a sense of individuation.

I really enjoy this song. It encompasses the motivations and stylings of pre-Congratulations MGMT. I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their musical preferences. However, the vinyl version is exceptionally difficult to locate. I have seen it valued anywhere between $30 and $60. That price point is a little high for just under fifteen minutes of music. So if you can find a copy of the song on another medium, go for it. The vinyl release came with a download card, so I'm sure there are some copies floating around out there. I would suggest hoisting your sails and pointing your sextant to the nearest bay of pirates, there is bound to be some booty drifting along the currents.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Vinyl Hunter

Today was a great day of new releases today. Wilco's The Whole Love and Mastodon's The Hunter both dropped today. I listened to each of them three or so times during the work day (I hog the stereo if left to my own devices). I ordered the super deluxe Mastodon in early August and was starting to get worried that it would not arrive in time. I would have loved to review it today (it is fucking awesome), but I have yet to find a vinyl release. If anyone hears anything let me know. The version I ordered came with lenticular poster of the wood sculpture created for the album. All told the package cost about $60, totally worth it for the poster alone. I apologize for the poor picture quality here, the lighting in my office blows hard.

The poster, as you likely can not tell, is 3-d / hologram / lenticular deal. It is fucking bad ass. In honor of the albums release, I will review their previous offering - Live at the Aragon.

Mastodon - Live at the Aragon

This is yet another RSD 2011 release (I am working through the pile of stuff I grabbed that day, most of it I haven't opened). The album contains the entirety of Crack the Skye as well as one track off of each previous album. It is pressed on 180 gran vinyl and comes in a heavy weight jacket. It also contains one glossy insert and a DVD of the live performance. The inner sleeves are lined with plastic and the custom labels harken back to the early Vertigo label; a mesmerizing spiral wrapped around the center hole.

The front of the gatefold jacket is presented in a very Mastodon-esque styling. Gold calligraphic text that stands out as metallic inlays on ebony wood. Four snake skeletons eat their own tails in the corners.

The back of the jacket displays the track listing framed by a larger image of the skeletal ouroboros. An unfortunate barcode is embedded in the bottom of the Celtic knot work of gold filament (Are barcodes required by law now?).

The interior of the gatefold displays a mirrored image of what I assume are the band members, I can't really tell with the color scheme. It is reflected over the center of the spiral that also appears on the custom labels.

The insert continues the black and gold spiral motif, an image of each of the band members are distorted in a circular fashion. I raged a little when I attempted to pull the insert out. It had been sucked the inside of the spine and bent. While not creased, it made me sad. At $45 retail they could have opted to sufficiently glue the spine together.

Crack the Skye is the focus of this live effort and I will analyze it first. I will abstain from an in depth lyrical analysis; I also own the studio version of this album and I feel those topics would be better suited to that review. Instead I will focus on the positives and negatives of this live interpretation of the original album.

If you have seen Mastodon live you know that at time Brent's vocals...suck. Clenched and nasal, they detract from an otherwise amazing live performance. However, this offering is a definite improvement. I recall hearing the Mr. Hines had been working with a voice coach and it really shows on this album. There are some low points, but overall he does a really acceptable job.

Side A begins with Oblivion and they do not stray from the original track listing of Crack the Skye during the album. The guitar work throughout the album is amazing, with some very interesting harmonics that are not present on the studio version. Everything feels tight and rehearsed. This is as far as I'm concerned, the best available live recording of mastodon. Side A really lays a good foundation for an amazing live version of The Czar on Side B.

The four part track, The Czar begins side B. I almost prefer the instrumental performance to the studio version. They continue on to do really excellent version of the titular track, Crack the Skye. The first album of this set really shines and would be satisfactory on its own.

The Baron, the final track of Crack the Skye, begins side C. Unfortunately, the vocals on this cut...suck. They are just bad. I am sorry. I do not know how anyone could listen to it and think otherwise. Excepting that, the track is fucking awesome. The breakdown is even more disjointed and frantic than the its studio counterpart; you can almost feel The Baron's sanity slip away and his kingdom crumble around him.

The final side of the album contains some of Mastodon's earlier work. Their seems to be a division among fans regarding Crack the Skye. I for one, do not see the need to argue. Bands mature, they change. In the words of Mr. Maynard James Keenan, "Dumb Fuck. I sold out long before you ever even heard my name." There is no reason to dislike a departure from the norm and Crack the Skye is most certainly that. I really dig both early and recent Mastodon and encourage others to try to do the same.

The CD / DVD version of this album is still in print, and at $20 or so I would not hesitate to recommend it. The vinyl version, though a limited RSD release, has actually depreciated somewhat from its original retail value. You can score a sealed couple for a little over forty bucks. I think it is worth it, but you may want to give the album a listen before shelling out the bills.

In conclusion, someone needs to get off their lazy fucking ass and release a vinyl version of The Hunter. Shut up and take my money. I do not understand the persistent disconnect between the vinyl, digital and CD versions of albums in the current market. It almost seems like the record Execs are ignoring that portion of their market. More than likely though, they know there are a few suckers such as myself, who will purchase both.

Seriously though, if anyone hears anything or knows the half-sister of someone who fellated the Warner CEO's cousin's next door neighbor and can get some info on a possible vinyl release of The Hunter, give a shout out. It would be much appreciated.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Food Fighters

I was going to review At War With the Mystics, but I'll save it until my next day off and give a good once over. My time today however is constrained, and I am really fucking hungry. I was flipping through my records and this particular one looked really juicy.

Foo Fighters - Medium Rare

Raw beef. Nothin' better. This album was released on Record Store Day 2011. The Foo do an impressive array of cover songs. The packaging on this album is really well done. The front of the jacket features a t-bone or porterhouse (What is the difference exactly?). Complete with a label displaying weight, price and an amended song listing. The label appears to have been cleaned of blood drippings and denatured protein.

The back of the jacket continues this motif, a butcher's receipt of the song listing complete with a bloody thumbprint. It also came with the record slipped into a plain white sleeve, but also had a custom sleeve included (I love when they do this and loath when the custom sleeves splits during shipping). The labels are custom and faux stamped with cuts of beef.

There are some really great covers on this album, beginning with the first track, Band on the Run - Wings. It starts out as a pretty typical cover version, very similar to the original. Dave kicks in with nice heavy distorted guitar after the first section. They really fucking rock this one out. They also really jam out a cover of Bad Reputation - Thin Lizzy. This one is pretty straight forward, not too much of a departure form the original. Side A concludes with a cover of Darling Nikki - Prince. I really love the original, and this cover does it justice - Foo Fighter style. Dave screams his gat damt lungs, it is pretty painful, almost screamo. I still really dig this track, probably the highlight of the album.

Side 2 begins with Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army - Down in the Park. It is entirely unexpected, but just sounds... right? It is a good lead in to a somewhat unorthodox selection of covers on Side B other than a somewhat obligatory Floyd cover, Have a Cigar. Gerry Rafferty, Husker Du (I got no umlats here bros), The Ramones, Angry Samoans and The Zombies round out side 2.

The Gerry Rafferty cover starts out pretty cheesy, kind of hard not too with that opening lick. The verses are done well and keep it interesting. Danny Says - The Ramones is also done well, but lacks the snottiness of the original, it is a little sickly sweet.

Have a Cigar is is pretty fucking kicking, Dave does starts out with sort of strained impersonation of Roy Harper that slowly transforms into something entirely different. Using some interesting vocal effects, heavily distorted guitar and some unexpected tempo changes they accomplish remarkable interpretation of this song. Probably my favorite cover of Have a Cigar.

The Husker Du (fuck you umlat, I'm not even going to try to find you) cover sounds recorded to live. Dave's vocals are drenched in emotion and really modernize the apathetic loneliness of the original's. I feel this track is somewhat marred by the crowd noise, but I forgive that.

I hadn't heard of the Angry Samoans until listening top this album, but they must be pretty punky. The track is under a minute long, which is about all I can take. I'm just not a punk guy, my bad. I can tolerate it occasionally, and I do appreciate its influence on modern music, but it's just not my thing.

The album concludes with This Will Be Our Year - The Zombies. I really like The Zombies, one of my favorite of the early British Invasion. The cover is done acceptably, nothing to write home about. I do think it was a good choice to end the album on.

This record is a little pricey, not too bad but not really worth the chuck of change unless you are a huge fan. At original retail, I would say it was worth it ($15 or so) but now it is $40 or $50 so...

Just torrent it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tongue Tied and Dizzy

Hello and welcome to today's post! I have the unfortunate obligation of employment in a short while so today's post will be an exercise in brevity. Keeping that in mind, I'll review something that I don't entirely enjoy: The Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues / Grown Ocean

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues / Grown Ocean

This is a two track 12" released for Record Store Day 2011. I think I grabbed this one at Treeshouse Records, a really cool shop in Minneapolis if your in the MN metro area.

Kitty! Get out of there, sorry. The packaging on this 12" is pretty standard. Black and white artwork depicting a snow covered mountain. The vinyl is pressed at 45 rpm and the sound quality is excellent. I do like the presentation, I do not like the content. Side A features the track Helplessness Blues, the title track from their latest album. The song is OK, not bad.

My issue with Fleet Foxes is one of "sameness." Robin Pecknolds vocals bore the absolute shit out of me. Absent the harmonies, we are left with a consistently dreamy almost detached vocal styling. While I do enjoy the musicianship on both of the Fleet Foxes albums, the lack of variety in vocals prevents them from being stand out albums. Their sophomore effort, Helplessness Blues, begins to stray at times from this problem, but it is still present.

I like music that covers a wide range of emotion. While Robin's lyrics express everything from happiness to sorrow, the vocals he uses to present them do not. There is a contradiction in emotion that hurts the product as a whole.

Side AA features the cut Grown Ocean. It begins with more of Robin's dreamy "ooh wee ooh ooh" bullshit. I kind of hate this track. Not that it is a bad song, I just personally do not like it. That's not even it, I just can not handle these fucking vocals. Someone contact him and let him know to switch it up a little bit. There are a couple of tracks on Helplessness Blues where I can hear him begin to escape his self imposed vocal prison, so I will not give up hope that their next release will be an improvement.

Welp, time for me to manage some record store employees. Hopefully nobody is too hungover or high to do their honest day's work. I spent most of yesterday sifting through a bunch of shit 99 cent records, If I could never see another copy of Genesis - Self Titled or Frampton Comes Alive I would be a happy man. I had to (gasp) throw away a number of records; we do not have the room. I tried to sell them dirt cheap (two bucks for 200 records) but no one was biting. I would have given them a home, but I already have half a garage full of shitty records. I couldn't even give them away, I guess no one like free records? As it stands I saved a couple by creating collection starting crate deals (a crate full of records for $15 or $20, crate included), I'm sure someone will find that appealing.

Lastly, I'll post a link to my incomplete listing of my collection on discogs. I got through a good portion of my collection, but lost motivation when I found that I had more than a hundred records that would need a listing created. In the future, I'll compile a simple spreadsheet with catalog numbers.

If you see something you want reviewed, leave a comment hear or on the reddit post, thanks again for reading everyone. I'm still going strong, the motivation has not left me and I do intend to review every records in my collection.

Saturday, September 24, 2011



Today I will review a fucking cover album. The Condo Fucks - Fuckbook, is a collection of covers performed by fucking Yo La Tengo. For those not in the know, Yo La Tengo has a fucking immense repertoire of covers. I recently saw these fucks at the 400 bar in Minneapolis. Fucking amazing. They have this fucking Wheel of Fortune device that they use to decide what show they will be performing that night. They call up some lucky fuck from the audience to spin it, and they play whatever the fuck comes up. One of the selections, The Condo Fucks, is the moniker they perform under as a cover band. I was fucking hoping it would come up at the show, but alas it did not. Regardless, they are incomper-fucking-able live. I had a socially awkward penguin moment after the fucking show as Ira left the stage and meandered toward the restroom.

Me: (not verbatim) Oh hey Ira, can I hold up your fucking piss for a moment? Great fucking show, man.

Ira: Still slowly moving toward the fucking bathroom Thanks, man.

The Condo Fucks - Fuckbook

(Insert picture here, sorry my dumb fucking ass left the camera on all night)

Matador released this fuckspin of a record in 2009. The fucking thing is only $10, Matador's "Low Price Guarantee." How can you pass that the fuck up? The packaging is fucking sweet; the front jacket displays "Condo Fucks" and "Fuckbook", they appear to be shitily taped to a fucked up yellow wall. The back of the jacket lists a bunch of fake Condo Fucks albums, and also features a fake letter from the biggest fuck in congress - Joe Fucking Lieberman. It is all presented in a fuax fifties style, fucking sweet.

The pressing sounds really fucking good, but the limitations of the source tape are definitely revealed. Not to say that is a bad thing, this album is fucking gritty. It sounds like these fucks set up an eight track in the garage and banged out the record in under an hour. One fucking take.

Fucking Side A rocks out a couple awesome Beach Boys covers, a two part Shut Down. They end this half with a Fucking Troggs cover. You can hear Ira fuck up a couple times throughout the album, but I think it just adds to the fucking rawness.

Side B does not fucking dissapoint. It begins with some fucking obscure shit, The Kid With the Replaceable Head by Richard Hell and the Voidods. No fucking clue who they are, but I'll have to check them out, the track is fucking killer. Come On Up - The Young Rascals, fucking rocks as well, it it straight fucking punk. The album concludes with a fucking Slade cover, SLADE. Gudbuy T'Jane really fucking shines. It's great to hear Ira really bust out some fucking vocals, as opposed to the more restrained approach of Yo La Tengo.

Ten fucking dollars. Just buy the fucking thing, you won't regret it. Skip your fucking Chipotle fucking burrito next week. Really it's only ten bucks, what the fuck better are you gonna do with ten bucks?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Inhaling Deeply of the Sacred Smoke

Good news everyone! I have located the camera. It was in the most obvious of all places. Tucked inside a plastic Target bag beneath a pile of empty computer accessory boxes underneath my desk. Don't know how I did not initially think to look there. I'll begin to back log the pictures for the first couple postings, but today we inhale deeply of the sacred smoke. I mean it.

I'm gonna get really high and listen to Stoner Metal.

The Sword - Warp Riders

The Sword was in my town of Minneapolis in June of this year. They played the Triple Rock with Dead Meadow and Romero. Both the opening acts were outstanding. I think I prefer Dead Meadow's live performance to their recordings. When The Sword took stage, I think I actually peed myself a little bit. If they come within your tri-state area, go. Get in a car and drive there. If you don't have a car, kill someone who does and take theirs. Make sure you bring enough weed. It will help to prevent your face from melting off.

My first Sword album was Gods of the Earth. An absolutely stellar album with some really stand out cuts (How Heavy That Axe comes to mind). I was instantly hooked and grabbed Age of Winters, their first album, the next day. Age of Winters is forty some odd minutes of continual riffage, I do not recall even a breakdown in that album. Gods of the Earth follows suit but with a more composed arc to the album. I feel that they have really come in to their own on Warp Riders. It blends the heaviness of Age of Winters with the composition of Gods of the Earth.

For those that don't know, Warp Riders is a "concept album." It is quite an epic sci-fi story set atop blistering riffs and heavy metal. I'll delve in to the progression of the story on a track by track basis so as not to spoil it all right off the bat. Suffice it to say, I love this album. It fulfills everything I find important in music: album oriented, story driven, melodic and it impels me to throw a clenched fist in the air and sing along to the chorus.

Technical Details

Pictures too, you say? Well let me see if I can figure out this here formattin' 'puter device and put some looky things in here.

The front of the jacket features a framed glossy picture of what I believe, according to the albums mythology, portrays The Sword, an ancient star ship capable of hyper-spatial flight. Aesthetically, I love the color scheme of the packaging for this album. Black, Red, White and fuck you there are no other colors - METAL. The glossy finish of the picture stands out nicely against the matte black background and the minimalist text does not distract from the presentation.

OH GOD HOW DID THIS GET HERE!? Sorry guys, I am not computer illiterate per se, however rotating the images in this blogger interface is somewhat beyond me. Please ignore the incorrect orientation today, I'll get it figured out for the future.

The back of the jacket displays the track lengths for each movement of the album. It also has a small white box in the lower right hand corner with a hand numbers X / 5000. This pressing is the Clear Red (I recall it being described as "Mars Red" on the product info from the distributor). My copy is numbered 3178 / 5000.

The interior of the jacket is comprised of more imagery from the album's canon, and the lyrics. The picture portrays three figures standing at the edge of a pool, I believe them to be the "Tres Brujas." They are shadowy and not entirely human in appearance, the ringed planet in the background adding to their otherworldliness.

The vinyl itself on this pressing is a dark red, almost brown. It is translucent, but just barely. Black custom labels display the title of both parts of the album. The spindle holes on my copy were not cut especially well, the label is frayed in the center. Also, it requires a little bit of force to get the spindle through the hole and drop it onto the platter. I was a little scared the first time I tried to play it, I could not get the record to lie flat, but that seems to have worked itself out. This is one of my favorite colored vinyl, it is fucking cool. It fits the imagery of the album and is generally bad ass.

So, I have a fat bowl packed and the record cued. I believe I am ready to slip the needle between the curves and ride the warp of vinyl into the womb of night.

Part I: The Archer & the Orb

I feel this album progresses in two movements, so instead of track by track, I'll go side by side. The vinyl itself looks really good, though I have played it numerous times. I see a small amount of sleeve scuffing and a couple unfortunate fingerprints; I was probably inebriated in one way or another most of the times I have listened to this album, my bad. However, none of this seems to affect playback. As far as clarity, that first Honey Crisp apple in autumn comes to mind. Clean, sweet and crunchy. Well maybe not crunchy, but I do love me a fresh Honey Crisp. Are we still talking about records? BRB going to the orchard.

I expect the entire album to be the same, I will refrain from addressing the condition unless something notable comes up.

The album begins with a rumbling undertone, mechanical yet organic. It does not delay for long though, the riffage begins almost immediately. The first track, Acheron / Unearthing the Orb, let's you know what you're in for - beginning with spaced-out guitars and moving into knuckle busting Stoner Doom. The jacket shows lyrics for this track, yet I do not hear them. Their text is italicized, unlike the rest of the lyrics. They seem like the songs and poems at the beginning of sci-fi / fantasy novels, you know, the ones you skip over to get to the story. Well you know what, fucking read them next time, you might miss out on a gem. In this instance the text reads:

Upon the forsaken world of Acheron,
the Archer is exiled from his tribe.
In his solitary wanderings, he make a
singular discovery within an ancient

This begins our hero's journey. His call to adventure is an exile, during which he finds a glowing orb buried beneath ancient ruins. His old life is over, and an adventure awaits.

I was reading the text and finished just as the heavy distortion kicked in. At that moment, I was the Archer. And guess what guess what?
Guys guess what...
I just found
I found
it's the best thing...
best thing ever..


In the first track we have essentially the entire "Departure" section of the hero's journey. We have the call to adventure (the exile), refusal of the call (implied as it was an exile), supernatural aid (the orb), crossing of the first threshold (entering the ruins), and the belly of the whale (the hero is exiled and must start anew).

The second track is the beginning of the next step in the adventure, the hero's "Initiation." Along his "Road of Trials," he meets three witches. One will love him, one will deceive him, and one will show him the way. These are the "Meeting of the Goddess," "The Temptress," and the third is the "Atonement." She shows him the way to ultimate power.

Musically, the second track thunders along an undercurrent of solid riffing. John Cronise's vocals are really well done, superior I think to the first two albums. There are some really groovy breakdowns and solos in this cut as well. Love this song.

Moving on to the third track, Arrows in the Dark, we have more of the hero's trials. We are bound for the black country of Acheron, a planet trapped in a tidal lock where one side gets perpetual light and the other perpetual dark.

Musically, this track starts of with an eerie howl as we approach the precipice of the dark side of Acheron. It builds into a full blast fear driven traversal of its mysterious and dangerous geography. Pursued by tribes of night, the guitars scream and bellow. The hero approaches an altar, presumably to gain the ultimate knowledge, "The Boon." The track grows darker and darker until it seems we are trapped or captured by the tribes. The melody seems falls away and we are droned into submission.

Track four, The Chronomancer I: Hubris, finds our hero on trial. He has gained the ultimate knowledge, learned from men of wisdom. He must escape, but his skin is his prison. The lyrics suggest that we are on the "Magical Flight" from the boon. The hero has learned to cross the aether and leave his body, he has mastered the art of temporal exploration.

"Arcane science of temporal exploration
known to no one of his kind
immortality through artificial
To rule a world that soon will die"

This track is really fucking rocking. Probably my second favorite track on the album. The riffing uses somewhat unorthodox syncopation. It builds and falls and reprises, cementing the feeling that we have truly transformed.

The fourth and final track of Side A is Lawless Lands. Our hero seems to have slipped backward in his journey. He is lost and alone, apart and exiled. "No woman will have him, no man calls him friend." He seems unsure as to what these powers mean and what to do with them. Something is amiss, and he again searches the dark side of the world. He has been led astray, the knowledge of the altar was incomplete and without purpose. He travels to the bright side of acheron, beneath the raging suns. It seems he finds his "Apotheosis" here. He is died and reborn.

"...a shining angel descends
down from the sky
Her coming was foretold"

This is the third witch. She gives him purpose and shows him the way to "The Return." We end side A here. The hero is transformed and must find his way back. Side B details the third stage of our hero's journey.

Part II: The Android and the Sword

The second half of this album has a different feel than the first. It reminds me at times of Thin Lizzy, especially the track Night City. The first track of side two, Astraea's Dream, is again instrumental with an accompanying poem.

Amid the lifeless crags of distant Leeth,
Astraea slumbers through lost aeons,
while great forces converge upon
Acheron. Her awakening fast

This half of the album chronicles our hero's return to Acheron with his new found knowledge. He is god-like and no longer a member of his race. He knows the secrets of the blackest voids and is free from the chains of reality, the chains of gravity of the planetoids. He is able to call upon a sisterhood and slip between the folds and curves of space they create. He exists outside of time and space, "You don't age when you live out of time." However, even with his new abilities, the journey home will be just as difficult as the journey there.

Track two, The Warp Riders, is my favorite cut on this album. I really dig the sci-fi imagery of creating folds in space and slipping between them. The guitar work is impressive and melodic. The song feels like a whole; it is very well composed.

Night City, the third track on side two, is the bastard child of Thin Lizzy and Stoner Metal. The lyrics detail some underhand dealing of a group of pirates. "They shackle her wrists, it's too late too resist" - I believe the "she" refers to the ship. They sell The Sword off at auction, our hero must be the buyer. As close as I can tell, this the "Help From Without." The archer's dealings with the pirates ground him once again in reality, and allow him to integrate into society. Though still an outsider, he is capable of returning to Acheron.

The Chronomancer II: Nemesis, crunches along rhythmically throughout. They use some interesting vocal effects in the second half, they are really doomy and demonic. The song pauses for a moment toward the end and vocals drone as the guitar comes to a grinding halt. The tempo picks back up; The Archer has Returned. The lyrics detail an ancient enemy, but one who has already failed at this point in The Archer's journey.

The fifth and final track on side B is (The Night the Sky Cried) Tears of Fire. It is in this song that the Archer becomes the "Master of Two Worlds." He sails his ship home, only to find his way blocked by a fleet of warships. A Deus Ex Machina emerges in the form of an angel and choir. She bring "Tears of Fire" that are meteors. They destroy the armadas blocking the heroes path, but at a terrible price. Acheron is wiped clean and reborn in a sea of fire. This is an interesting end to The Archer's journey, the album ends with "The Captain" finding his vengeance. I believe the Archer is truly home at this point, he is The Captain of not only his ship, but the entirety of the world from which he was exiled. Musically the track ends where the album began, reprising the opening guitar work.

If you don't own this album and are a fan of metal, you are doing it wrong. From start to finish, the album is a triumph. I less than patiently wait for The Swords next release, though I have heard nothing even hinting at anything soon. Listening to all of the albums, you can hear a definite maturation of the band and the prospects for what they will do next are exciting.

This got rrrrrreeeeealllllllly fucking long, so tomorrow I will keep it brief. I have a couple of albums in mind, we'll see what the winner is. If at any time reading this grows tiresome, I blame the dope.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Evil One

I am enjoying this. Due to time scheduling constrictions of late, I have lost touch with my vinyl collection. The constant distractions of life make it difficult to budget time for simple, solitary activities. But I am making an attempt to rediscover my records. And it feels good.

Roky Erickson - The Evil One

Tragic and fucked up, with a glint of light on the horizon.

I think that sums up Roky Erickson's life story fairly well. I will avoid abridging his biography for your benefit, just watch "You're Gonna Miss Me." Stop reading this and go watch that movie. Now.

Are you back? My first introduction to Roky was that film, and it is truly an excellent rock documentary. The trial and tribulations of Roky are painfully apparent in his music. The compilation I will review today spans the breadth of his "solo" career omitting his fairly recent release, "True Love Cast Out All Evil," which is another excellent record that I highly recommend.

Roky has a primal understanding of Rock and Roll. He is truly super human in his ability get to the core of a song. His lyricism is dark and brooding. It takes you to the edge of his sanity, and possibly to the edge of your own. I could gush for pages about his work, but I will spare you and get down to the review.

This collection consists of fifteen tracks, so I will pare down my song by song review down in the interest of time and stick to some good highlights of the album. Alrighty, let's fire this fucker up.

Technical Details

This album is pretty hard to find on vinyl, which is a shame. Sympathy for the Record Industry released The Evil One in 2002, and they really should reissue it. It is a must own for any fan, unless you have the original albums, in which case I hate you. It is a 2 LP set packaged in a heavyweight jacket. The front cover features a mug shot of Roky, you can see a smile in the corner of his mouth but the portrait expresses a deep sadness as well. It possesses that Mona Lisa effect, his eyes follow you. The rear cover displays the track list as well as a black and white photo of Roky and his band, lit from beneath they look otherworldly. The interior of the gatefold gives a nice rundown of Roky's recording career as well as his personal struggles. It also features two more photos. The color photo is haunting, you can see the into the depths of Roky's pychosis. His fatigued eyes stare out but seen empty within. The second photo is black and white and shows Roky holding a cigarette and cane, his smile peeking through the gaps in his scraggly beard.

Shall we fire this fucker up? It has been a while since I've spun this and the vinyl looks gorgeous. I would rate both the jacket and vinyl at NM-. Hopefully the sound reflects its appearance.

I Think of Demons

First off, this pressing is fucking superb. Everything sounds clear and zero hiss. I see no surface marks or scuffs, so I think we're in business on the technical side. Second, THIS SONG IS FUCKING AMAZING. I tend to focus primarily on the lyrics when I listen so I will address them first.

"I think of demons
they never kill
I think of demons
they never will
they don't need to
their scare is true
I think of demons
for you"

Personally, I am god damned glad that Roky is thinking of demons for us. I can not think of anyone better suited to the task. It takes a true man whose been through real struggles to stare Lucifer in the face and come out the other side. Another aspect of Roky's lyrics is that they come from the heart. This is a man who has run with demons.

Other than the disturbing lyrics, this is a really fucking rocking tune. I mean in that in the true sense of Rock and Roll. This shit rocks and rolls.

Bloody Hammer

I hesitate to imagine the inspiration for this song, but I will try. Lyrically, this is about as dark as it gets:

"Vampires in rain
Vampires in lightning for Dr. O'Chane
Dr. O'Chane"

The central imagery of this song centers around a psychiatrist. Violence pervades the lyrical atmosphere, the doctor prevents the patients from hammering their minds out with a bloody hammer. To me, some of the words suggest electroshock therapy. Roky was subjected to involuntary electroconvulsive therapy during his stay at Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

"It's not a sledgehammer
It's not a chisel
It's not a train
but a thought of unlimited horror for Dr. O'Chane
Dr. O'Chane"

That's fucked. I don't really know what else to say about that.

Roky's inhuman growl really shines on this track. The riffing on this track is almost metal, and raw as a knee on asphalt. The pace is as fevered as the lyrics; it feels like an unstoppable freight train in its momentum.

If You Have Ghosts

"If you have ghosts, then you have everything." That level of pop poetry rivals Bukowski in its obvious elegance. Roky really gets to the core of it with his lyrics. In a sense there are no flowers or obtuseness, but rather the real thoughts of a man with a dangerous understanding of metaphor. To him, the metaphor was not a reference to the concept, they were one and the same. Wow, that sounds like some really pompous overly analytical garbage when I read through it, but eh fuck it.

Musically the track is sort of a let down, I feel it drags. Not in the sense that it is overly long, but it just seems to lose its steam about half way through. To me, it sounds like Roky and the band did not want to record that day. A good song though, none the less.

I'll leave it there for now. Seriously though, snatch this up if you see it. The original Roky albums are nigh on impossible to find and this is a really satisfactory second best. I'd take pictures, but I think the gremlins must have taken it, they have pictures too. I just have no idea where it even could be other than the places I checked, so I may have to resort to using the cell phone camera in the meantime. If that bothers you, go fuck yourself.

Nuts, Bolts, and Animals

In the interest of transparency I'll lay out my self imposed rules for this process:

1. I will review one album every day unless I am feeling lazy
2. I will review every album in my collection
3. In the event of multiple pressing of the same album, I may or may not choose to listen and review each pressing
4. 45s are excluded from the review process unless I want to include them
5. The reviews will be pressing specific - I will give the release details of every album I review and the review will focus on that particular pressing of the album
6. I will post pictures of the actual album being reviewed (except today, I can't find the camera)

Alright, this seems fair. So we've got nuts, bolts and...What else is there? Oh yes...

Pink Floyd - Animals

This is the first album I purchased, and seems like a reasonable jumping off point in this effort. A little over five years ago I began working in a record store. A gentlemen came in and sold a small collection of Pink Floyd albums. At the time I did not even own a turntable. To be honest, I did not even have anywhere to keep a turntable.

At this point in my life I was couch surfing and sleeping in my car. I had been kicked out of college a year or so earlier and was really just wandering my way through early adult life. Realizing the twenty dollars a week from my mom was not an adequate income, I strolled into the first "cool" business I saw and flagged down the owner. Long story short, I began working there a short time later and continue to work there to this day.

Back to Animals, I bought it. I bought the shit out of it. Something about the packaging, the size, the custom sleeve and labels; I wanted that fucker. So I bought it. There is something intrinsically desirable about vinyl that I find hard to express. Something about it is I am a lifelong collector, bordering on hoarder. It started with rocks (agates in particular), then pennies, then on to Magic cards, then there was about five years of heavy marijuana and drug use, then records. I still dabble in Magic cards (currently the online variety, you can find me in Daily Events on MtGO), but for the most part my extra cash goes into my record collection.

"Enough masturbatory back story," you say. I agree, let us delve into the specifics of this pressing.

Technical Details

This is a pretty common press of this album, the one I have must be a later run as its proudly displays a stark white barcode over the back cover art. Other than some light surface marks and a little dust, the vinyl looks really good (were I operating in my official capacity I would grade the jacket at VG and the vinyl at VG+).

I'll start with a quasi-intellectual interpretation of the symbolism embedded in the album art. The album art wraps around the spine and continues on to the back cover. It depicts the Battersea Power Station, rendered in varying shades of dystopian brown. The photograph is devoid of life, excepting a curious pink pig floating between the smoke stacks of the power station. Interpreting this through the lens of Animal Farm, this symbolizes the "pigs" in our society overseeing and controlling the means of production. I would assume, were we to obtain a cutaway of the building, we would find it filled with mules, sheep, cows and menagerie of other barn yard creatures toiling away and secretly plotting to become a true Marxian proletariat. The interior of the gate fold showcases a series of black and white photographs that serve to reinforce the feeling of emptiness that accompanies class exploitation.

Welp, that's enough of that. Let's listen to some fucking music. I have never actually reviewed an album. I don't really even read album reviews, and have very little musical knowledge from a practical perspective. So I'm just going to wing it, here goes:

Track One - Pigs on the Wing

Technically, I can hear some small hissing and popping, this album has been fairly well played. Excepting that (or maybe due to it), the vocals and guitar sound removed and hollow. It fits very well with the themes in the lyrics.

Musically, I fucking love this track. It makes me feel that musical frisson. The simple guitar and vocals are melancholy yet beautiful. Also, as a man who pretends to play guitar, I think I could actually hammer this one out and it would sound decent. The track is very familiar, I think everyone can relate.

Lyrically, this track seems to be from the perspective of the under class. It evokes a feeling of resignation, but Pigs on the Wing is bittersweet. One can picture two blue collar factory men walking home under a grey sky. They use their comradery as a panacea to ward off their feeling of anger towards the upper class.


The rest of the A side is filled with Dogs, one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. The person who owned the album before me must have felt the same way, this track is heavily played. The portion with "Who was..." sounds pretty awful. The "stone drone" is really washed out, it kind of makes me sad.

Musically though, this track is amazing. Their is a funky discoish guitar riff under an ethereal layer of synthy goodness. It builds and falls a number of times and really takes you on a roller coaster ride, but I ain't 'fraid a no rolly coaster. Gilmour's solos really showcase his control of tone. Nothing technically superior, but emotive as fuck. I love Gilmour's guitar work, that is all. Water's base underpins and drives the movement of the track.

Lyrically this song depicts the rich but momentarily impoverish members of society. Those who think that one day, if they do everything right and work hard, they too can become a "pig." From the perspective of a dog, it truly is a dog eat dog world. The lyrics describe the futility of this perspective. "When you lose control, you'll reap the harvest you have sown." There is a moment when the dog seems to see through the illusion of class mobility, but "you just keep on pretending." The lyrics flirt with transcendence, but in the end it seems unattainable. In the end the dog dies alone. Feels bad, man.

Pigs (Three Different Ones)

Side B of this album seems nearly unplayed. Very little scratching and hissing, no pops. The recording sounds really good, I can hear all the layers. Pigs sounds really clean. I haven't listened to this on vinyl in a long time and I am genuinely impressed by the quality of even this lame pressing.

Musically Pigs is a continuation of dogs. The riff is heavier and the syncopation is changed, but you can hear it all the same. There is cowbell, enough said. The vocals sound snide, the voice of someone with deeply held contempt. Water's bass on this album is excellent and not overstated. This track features more of Gilmour's awesome solo work, did I say that I love his guitar work?

Lyrically, this song describes three different kinds of "pigs" (no shit right?). The first pig is a "big wheel." A corporate cog concerned with gluttony and wealth. His chin is stained with slop as he gorges himself. The second pig I would describe as "old money." A sad old figure clutching tightly the remnants of wealth. This pig sees the others with so much scorn, it would not hesitate to gun them down were they to threaten it's control. The third pig is a government man. Working to oppress and control the under classes and "keep their feeling off the street." From the perspective if the lyricist these figures would be no more deserving of pity than scorn. They would be almost comical if they were not so sad and depraved.


Wake up sheeple!!!11!!1

Sorry, had to get that one out. This copy of Sheep didn't hold up as well as Pigs. There are quite a few pops and a fair amount of hiss. It is pretty listenable, though at this point I think I'll grab another copy of this album, this one is definitely not in its prime. So if anyone would like to donate a nice, unopened, MFSL press that would be great, thanks!

This track starts out with some animal noises beneath jazzy keys. A typical dun, dun dun dun dun dun Water's bass line thumps below. The vocals build repeatedly into distorted and phased synth. The guitar explodes unexpectedly in to the track and really focuses what I would consider the catharsis of this album, the dogs are dead. The interlude of the Lord's Prayer is a nice respite before the track really begins to fucking rock. Love this track, and seriously, the dogs can go fuck themselves.

Lyrically, this track expresses both sympathy and scorn for the sheep. Those that choose not to see beyond the veil, so to speak. In the end though, it seems the pigs have won. The dogs are dead and the sheep are in line.

Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)

The album ends where it began. "Any fool knows a dog needs a home," really resonates with me, I can't say exactly why.

All in all, this is my favorite Pink Floyd album. DSOTM can suck it. If you do not own a copy on vinyl, I would definitely recommend picking one up, I don't find the Pink Floyd CD masters to be very good, excepting the MoFi gold discs, which are pretty tasty.

This ended up being significantly more involved than I imagined, yet I will endeavor to make good on my goal to review an album a day until they have all been reviewed. Comments are welcome, suggestions as well. Eventually I will post a catalog of my collection and if you want something reviewed, just ask.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finite Beginnings

I find myself in dire need of a hobby.  Not just something to pass the time, but rather an activity that is in some way "productive and social."  An activity that fulfills the human need of worth.  I need something I can be, not just something I can do.  In that quest, I have resolved this - I will review every fucking album in my vinyl collection.

For too long they have sat, the majority untouched.  My disposable income financing an ever increasing need for more storage space.  Some sit unopened, price tags still affixed.  Most though have been opened in a ritualistic fashion; shrink wrap removed, packaging stickers cut out with a razor blade, the album removed for a cursory glance at the vinyl, inserts examined, download cards noted and unused, dropped in to a poly bag, and slid into alphabetical order among hundred of other unplayed records.

But no longer.

I will run a needle through each and every groove of each and every record.

But the question then is where to begin?  I can only choose one to be the first in this process.  Do I approach it like a bag of skittles - eating the undesirable flavors first and saving the morsels for last?  Do I channel my inner librarian and review them alphabetically?  This question seems important to me, though I can not articulate exactly why.  I guess it is in a sense similar to stacks of virgin vinyl at my side, there is only one "first" for anything.  Eventually that high gloss fades and the action become routine.

So I will ponder this tonight.  Tomorrow I begin.