filling in the gaps #2

Yikes, been a while…but I haven’t forgotten! Picking up where I left off back in April, I’ll be continuing to listen to and review all my unlistened-to CDs…if you have no idea what this is about, go take a gander at this post from a while back. Still have a ways to go, but we’re on our way!

1-cardigansApr 17, 2017

The Cardigans – First Band On The Moon (1996)
I mean it’s good, it just doesn’t stand out too much in any way. I really do like the ’60s production sound it kinda has going on (those druuums), and the singer sounds a whole heckuva lot like Rebecca Coseboom from Halou (which is definitely a compliment), but it’s pretty bland most of the time. I may listen to this again if I find myself in a very particular mood, who knows. — 3.0/5.0

Apr 20, 2017

The Choir – Chase The Kangaroo (1988)
This was bad, guys. I generally love the echoey ’80s production that permeates this type of music but there was almost nothing redeeming about Chase The Kangaroo. I think the singer’s voice — which heralds the wave of high, slightly nasally college rock shlubs that would dominate the following decade — was the death knell for this one. Would not recommend. Dad, dad, what were you thinking? — 1.5/5.0

The Choir – Free Flying Soul (1996)
Equally as bad as Chase The Kangaroo. Actually, marginally worse, but the last song approached palatable so…whatever. — 1.5/5.0

Apr 21, 2017

Chopin – Chopin Selections (various performers, 1997)
This is just a random compilation of some of Chopin’s pieces, performed by different people. I picked it up because I like piano music, in general, and I figured I should probably explore some classical. Every time I try to do this, it never works. I just can’t get into it, no matter how much I want to. People talk about how emotive classical music is, but I just don’t get it. Very, very few classical pieces have ever moved me, and most of it just ends up being “nice”, but nothing more. I can appreciate this stuff from a distance, but try to get me to focus on it for any extended period of time and my brain just shuts off. This album was pleasant enough, and would make excellent background music, but does nothing for me otherwise. — 3.0/5.0

Apr 24, 20172-cocteau twins

Cocteau Twins – Milk & Kisses (1996)
It’s been an age since I’ve listened to the Cocteau Twins, and since I last did my tastes have shifted away from dream pop somewhat, so I was preparing myself to slog through this one, however I was delighted to find that I still really enjoy this band. This album doesn’t depart much from the sound they established in Heaven Or Las Vegas, and the second half of the album is, if anything, better than the first. I was especially taken with “Treasure Hiding”, which is this kind of music done exactly right — emotive, hazy, and rich with sounds and moments of sharp clarity. I think I could get back into this band. — 4.0/5.0

Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto (2011)
About the worst that can be said of any Coldplay album is that it’s entirely inoffensive, bland, sterile pop rock. I’ve tried countless times to “get into” Coldplay over the years, and it’s never worked, no matter how much I may have wanted to at one point or another. By 2017, Coldplay simply exists and that’s fine, they don’t contribute anything to the current pop zeitgeist, but neither do they detract from the stuff that is actually innovative. They’re really easy to ignore and that’s probably the best place for them to be, and while none of what I’ve written here references Mylo Xyloto specifically, just trust me, it all applies. — 3.0/5.0

Apr 25, 2017

3-commonCommon – Like Water for Chocolate (2000)
Great! I’m pretty picky with hip hop and this is the kind of stuff I like in small doses only, but maybe I was caught in the right mood or something. Super loose, atmospheric beats and a smokey, jazzy atmosphere…very moody music in a good way. None of the tracks really stuck out above the rest, but all of them were good at worst so I can’t complain. Just a really consistent album all around; this’ll be perfect for a rainy drive or a hot, cloudy day. — 4.0/5.0

Apr 26, 2017

Cool Hand Luke – Wake Up, O Sleeper (2003)
I found it really hard to get excited about anything on this album. It’s lo-fi Christian indie fuzz rock, and if that’s your thing then I suppose there’s probably a lot to like here; for myself, while I found that there were sparse moments here and there that could have been turned into something likable, the album was overall just not my thing. — 2.5/5.0

Cracker – Kerosene Hat (1993)4-cracker
I hated this album. I thought that The Choir was going to be the low point of this section, but wow, Cracker was worse. One of the reasons the ’90s is probably my least favorite decade of music (at least for rock-oriented music) is because of crap like this — grungey hard rock with no fangs, with singers who can’t sing, which basically helped birth an alternative scene into the early 2000s that was a creative and musical dead-end. Can we honestly say that bands like Puddle of Mudd and Nickleback added anything to the world? Yes, Cracker is directly responsible for Nickleback. This is still a relevant insult in 2017, I swear. Thanks, Cracker. — 1.0/5.0

Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites (1996)
(Oops, slightly out of order here I guess, oh well). When I was younger, I bought Counting Crows’ greatest hits CD Films About Ghosts, and that has endured through the years — I would probably count it among my all-time favorite albums, despite being pretty opposed to the idea of greatest hits collections these days. The Crows have always been a band I liked, although I very often forget about them — but when I do end up hearing them again, I remember just how much I love their music and think “Hey I should probably give those studio albums of theirs I own a listen at some point…” and then never do, which brings us to Recovering the Satellites.

This one is good — more upbeat than August and Everything After, but retaining that same dusty, overcast texture that I love so much about this band as a whole. Not a whole lot actually jumped out at me besides the songs I already knew from Films About Ghosts, but it was all stuff I immediately enjoyed. The title track and “A Long December” are pure gold. This is an album to explore, I can see myself enjoying this more as I listen to it more. For now though, not bad! — 3.5/5.0

Apr 27, 2017

Counting Crows – This Desert Life (1999)
Very similar to Recovering the Satellites, so much so that I don’t feel I need to say much more about it. I liked it, I’ll enjoy exploring it more in the future. It’s good stuff. — 3.5/5.0

5-ccCounting Crows – Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (2008)
I wanted to like this more than I did. I love the concept — it’s split into two “sides”, the first (“Saturday Nights”) being full of more upbeat, rock ‘n’ roll tracks, the second (“Sunday Mornings”) being softer and more introspective (read: more hangover-friendly). It’s a cool concept, and it works just fine — the more negative reviews I’ve read tended to harp on the album’s lopsidedness, but that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was more that the music on here is just a lot less inspired than on previous albums. Take, for instance, the song “When I Dream of Michelangelo”, the title of which is a line from their song “Angels of the Silences” from 12 years ago. Similarly, the music on here just feels like a retread of some of the Crows most generic work from the previous decade, but even more watered down. It wasn’t bad, and I’ll probably give this another listen when I can actually give it my more focused attention, but I was hoping for a little more. — 3.0/5.0

Apr 28, 2017

Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (2008)
Like everything Crystal Castles does, this is a mixed bag. I tend to like their more synthpop-oriented work, as opposed to the 8-bit electroclash stuff, and this album has way more of the latter than the former so it’s probably my least favorite CC album. I mean, it’s alright, but I can cherry pick a few songs I really liked (“Untrust Us”, “Magic Spells”, “1991”) and leave most of the rest. I probably won’t ever listen to this album all the way through again. — 3.0/5.0

Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion (2011)6-crystal stilts
A big, hearty “meh” from me. I’m not really into this type of neo-psychedlic garage rock anyway, so it was an uphill battle from the beginning. I actually liked parts of this — more for the cavernous, echoy production than anything — but none of it stuck in my brain. — 2.5/5.0

Sep 21, 2017

The Cure – Disintegration (1989)
This album is perfectly fine but I can’t see myself ever being in the right mood to put it on of my own free will. I don’t know — I see why it’s considered a classic and is basically universally loved, but I just feel like it hones in on such a specific mood, and I never find myself thinking, “Man, I need to listen to The Cure right now”. Still, I liked this well enough, although I’m not particularly looking forward to the next two Cure albums I have to go through (a big part of the reason working on this list went on hiatus for five months). — 3.5/5.0

Sep 22, 2017

7-cureThe Cure – Wish (1992)
Actually liked this one a lot more than I thought I would. It was a lot more all over the map than Disintegration — there were way more happy songs and that’s a weird thing for me to say about The Cure, as they’re always associated with a more depressing sound. There’s plenty of that too though — “Apart” is a devastating song, and one of the album’s highlights. I also really loved “Doing The Unstuck” and “Friday I’m In Love” (despite being very familiar with the latter), but there actually wasn’t much of a what I would call a “low point” on this album. I may have spoken too soon about never being in the mood for The Cure yesterday. — 4.0/5.0

The Cure – The Cure (2004)
Was expecting bleh, got bleh. This album actually had some ok songs on it — “Before Three” and “(I Don’t Know What’s Going) On” were both pretty great, but nothing else grabbed me. It’s probably not quite as bad as a lot of the reviews on RateYourMusic might have you believe, but it’s nothing special. Anger doesn’t really suit these guys, and this is an angry album. It all just kind of falls flat. — 3.0/5.0

Sep 25, 2017

Dave Ralph – Tranceport 2 (1999)
Truly everything I think of when I think of “generic trance”. There was really not much too redeeming about this, and two CDs’ worth of the same 120 bpm build-build-release cycle was the aural equivalent of running a marathon, except without any sort of feeling of accomplishment at the end. This album just illustrates really well why I’ve more or less given up on the genre, and while I do have a few trance albums I’ll probably always enjoy (one of which, ironically, is the very next entry in the Tranceport series), this isn’t one of them. — 2.0/5.0

David Crowder Band – Remedy (2007)8-dcb
I have a love/hate relationship with Christian music. On the one hand, I owe it a lot — the Newsboys’ Step Up To The Microphone was the first CD I ever owned, and I still love every song on it today (and in fact, most of their music from that album and earlier). Several other Christian artists were influential in developing my music tastes, however it’s not a stretch to say that the vast, vast majority of mainstream Christian artists make some of the absolute dullest, most creatively void stuff out there, especially those that make simply “praise and worship” music, i.e. the kind of stuff you’d hear played in a typical contemporary Protestant Sunday worship service.

It’s weird because David Crowder Band definitely falls into this category, and yet they’ve put out at least three albums of seriously quality material — A Collision and Give Us Rest are both absolutely phenomenal albums that tread outside the bounds of typical Christian worship music, at least musically, while staying true to the “praise and worship” ethos. They’re really the only band I’ve come across that has been able to walk this line; unfortunately, Remedy is just kind of blah in comparison. Like, it’s fine, and it’s probably better than almost anything you could find on your local Christian music radio station, but DCB set a high bar with their general approach and this one just feels phoned-in. Still ok, and I may listen to it again in the future, but there are quite a few Christian albums I’d go to before this one. — 3.0/5.0

Sep 26, 2017

9-dctdc Talk – Nu Thang (1990)
This album is every bit as cringingly awful as the cover art would lead you to believe. I received this album as a gift from a relative shortly after I started collecting CDs, although I’m pretty sure it was just a way for her to offload a CD she found in her basement onto me. I’m already not much of a fan of really early hip hop, and early Christian hip hop is basically the bottom of the barrel in terms of what the era had to offer. Still, all things considered, I’d rather listen to this than that Cracker album. — 1.5/5.0

dc Talk – Supernatural (1998)
Significantly better than Nu Thang (surprise, surprise), and it hit me across the face with nostalgia — although I had never listened to this album all the way through, I found that I was familiar with several songs. “Since I Met You” is a song whose chorus gets stuck in my head on a regular basis to this day, and only today did I realize that it’s a dc Talk song. Overall the album is pretty standard mid/late-90s pop rock, but it’s not bad, and say what you will about CCM in general, but Kevin Max has a good voice.

Oh, and credit where it’s due — an AMV made to the song “Supernatural” was one of the few AMVs I saw before I really knew what AMVs were that got me into AMVs. So, there’s that. — 3.0/5.0

Deas Vail – All The Houses Look The Same (2007)10-deas vail
This was basically what you’d get if you combined Mae and Copeland — the lead singer sounds so much like the guy from Mae that it would probably be impossible to distinguish between them if I didn’t know better. It’s really airy, pretty mid-2000s emo-influenced uplifting indie pop, and it was a pleasant enough listen. That said, it was a bit too long for its own good and it all started to run together about halfway through. I might have to check out some of their other stuff, though. — 3.0/5.0 (Oh, and that falsetto on “Shoreline” is, in fact, incredible).

Claude Debussy – Préludes pour piano, livre I & II (as performed by Krystian Zimerman, 1994)
Very nice background music, can’t say I enjoyed it more than that. Classical in all its forms just doesn’t get through to me. — 3.0/5.0

Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers (1984)
So boring. If you take out the blatantly sexual lyrics in “Knocking at Your Back Door” it’s a decent song, but otherwise there’s not much to recommend here. Even when I went through my “classic rock” phase in high school, Deep Purple were never a band I particularly enjoyed, and I’m happy to say that hasn’t changed. Still searching for a ’70s/’80s blues rock/hard rock band I actually like. — 2.5/5.0

Sep 27, 2017

Def Leppard – Best Of Def Leppard (2004)
Of course my dad had bought the 2xCD version of this collection, so I’ve spent the last two and a half hours listening to Def Leppard, something I can honestly say I’ve never, ever had any desire to do, and now I can say that I certainly don’t ever want to do again. I don’t understand the appeal of these guys, and perhaps there’s a reason I always associate Def Leppard and their ilk with long-haired old guys whose lives effectively froze in the ’70s or early ’80s. This is way too long, about 30 songs too long if I’m honest (it’s a 34-song collection), and while there’s nothing that offends my musical senses quite as much as something like, say, Cracker or those Choir albums, it probably says a lot that one of the only songs I enjoyed off of this was “Waterloo Sunset”, which is a cover of a Kinks song and is probably the most un-Def Leppard-like song in the whole thing. I’m glad this is behind me. — 2.0/5.0

11-de la soulDe La Soul – 3 Feet High And Rising (1989)
I’m kind of cheating here — I have listened through this before, once, but I figured I’d give it another go as it’s been a long time and my tastes have changed since I first heard it. I liked this a lot; I’ve heard it likened to Sgt. Pepper’s in terms of how it related to the hip hop zeitgeist of its time, and I think that’s a fair comparison — really colorful, playful, and goofy when set against a lot of the more straight-faced stuff that was being released around the same time (Straight Outta Compton and It’s Takes A Nation of Millions…, I’m looking in your direction). This album just sounds like three guys having a whole heckuva lot of fun making their music, and the result is a hip hop album from the ’80s that, in my opinion, has aged quite gracefully and is still very listenable today. There are certain elements that I don’t prefer (modern rap has spoiled me on flow and vocal delivery, both of which can feel comparatively lazy on this album), but the overall product is super entertaining. The sampling on “Eye Know” is probably some of the best I’ve heard in the genre. Really, really good stuff here. — 4.0/5.0

Delerium – Karma (1997)
Bad. Literally the only thing worth hearing on this album is “Silence”, and since you’ve probably already heard a million different remixes of this song before, there’s no reason to listen to this. Karma found itself in the unfortunate space residing between the trendy new age and ambient electronic movements in the ’90s, and the result is the kind of dull crap that most elevators would be embarrassed to play. Man I hated this. — 1.5/5.0


About crakthesky

Early 30s and vocal about my subculture.
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1 Response to filling in the gaps #2

  1. Pingback: filling in the gaps #3 | subculture diaries

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