Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Great, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly-PINK FLOYD

So this isn't an original idea at all but i am co-opting it to Speed Glue and Music. This is a new series I(maybe "we") am starting where we take a look at a band with a large catalogue of albums and discuss in chronological order where they fall in the categories of Great(a masterpiece or near-masterpiece), the Good(something definitely worhty of checking out), the Bad(something pretty shitty that might be worth your time depending on your taste) and the Ugly(something that no one should listen to and possibly should never have been made). These critiques will not go into a lot of depth but they will give a feel for where these albums lie in their discography to act as a guide for your future listening. For our first entry in the series we are focusing on Pink Floyd. A band with many different phases and faces with a few different songwriters who helped shape the band into the megolithical powerhouse they are today. So beginning with the psychedelic 60s on thru to their last album in 94. here we go! Piper At the Gates of Dawn(1967) Sometimes drugs are a good thing. Sometimes a band just starting out is at their best. Sometimes combining drugs and youthful energy yields your best album. In this case the manic energy Syd Barrett(their original singer/songwriter) brings to the table really elevates the mood and the overall creativity to the music that I feel hasnt been reached since. Overall I feel this is the pinnacle of Pink Floyd's output. "THE GREAT" A Saucerful Of Secrets(1968) This album still resides in their short lived psyche-rock mode. This would be their last album to feature Syd Barrett in any capacity. He ends up only writing one song(the last one) on this album but his presence is still felt throughout. The psyche rock on here is still good but doesnt quite reach the acid drenched heights of the previous album. This I would consider to be a transitional album, they would soon start to explore more ambient textures, nearly abandoning all that came before them. "THE GOOD" Soundtrack From the Film "More"(1969) Honestly I havent heard this one, i am not going to rate it. I have heard it is ambient droney rock stuff. so no comment until further investigation. ???? Ummagumma(1969) To be honest it's just kind of meandering boring by the numbers space rock. not highly recommended but definitely not their worst. "THE BAD" Atom Heart Mother(1970) A nice foray into having a bit of a sense of humor. This album feels light and airy compared to the somber dense live/studio noodling of Ummagumma. The title track and the closing track are great examples of well done long prog rock suites. I recommend this album to people looking for a more light hearted chilled out Pink Floyd. "THE GOOD" Meddle(1971) Another album where it's split up between short, fun songs and in the case of "Echoes" on Meddle, one 28 minute track. I have to say i really enjoy the humor and light hearted nature of the shorter tracks especially San Tropez(which predates Ween in a lot of ways) and Seamus(a nice acoustic ditty with back up vocals by a dog). Now these short tracks are nice but my main beef comes with Echoes. Echoes is the exact opposite of the bookended tracks on Atom Heart Mother. Were they had exciting elements that formed a long suite that always kept the listener on their toes, Echoes was an excercise in boring. This track is just boring and since it is half the album I have to throw this album in the negative category. "THE BAD" Obscured By Clouds(1972) Now they are just treading water in a sea of mediocre overblown "arty" rock. totally boring and not worth your time. "THE UGLY" The Dark Side Of the Moon(1973) All I can say about this is that some of the tracks are great, more tracks are alright. The female soul vocals are terrible and cheesy. The beginning to Breathe is awesome. Money is pretty tight. Some of it is overrated some of it is rated just fine. It's a solid "BIG" 70s album. "THE GOOD" Wish You Were Here(1975) By toning down the "hugeness" of Dark Side and tackling more meaningful subject manner they were able to tap into something both epic and emotionally resonant. There isn't a lot of cheese on this album which is nice when returning from some of the more cringeworthy moments on Dark Side. The ode to their frontman who they mentally lost to acid is touching and one of the better compisitions they ever made. This album is relaxed yet very large in it's scope. I can definitely recommend this one. "THE GREAT" Animals(1977) Honestly the high reviews for this thing seem a bit weird to me, aside from the advanced political lyrics and the fact they seem to be a bit more pissed off. My question were they really pissed off? or was it just a response to punk rock and fashionable at the time. The answer will probably die with the members. At any rate this is basically a second rate angrier version of "Wish You Were Here". Yes, the songs are a little more brittle and spiky but the songwriting is the same. For a band considered by so many to be so revolutionary, doing the same thing for multiple albums is a little shitty. This wasnt a step forward, this was them walking at the same pace just with something different coming out of their mouths. "THE BAD" The Wall(1979) Some good tracks, most of it overbloated. Trying to one up the Beatles and it didn't work. Tried to be a prog rock masterpiece about 5 years too late. I kind of like the samples to Another Brick In the Wall. Overall this is some misguided attempt at cultural relevancy. No thank you "THE UGLY" The Final Cut(1983) Basically a Roger Waters solo album. It is very political in parts the music is good for the 80s, pretty mediocre for Floyd. This isn't a total disaster. Some ok tracks. This album seems to get a lot of friendly praise, especially starting in the 2000s with everyone's nostalgic love of the 80s, which is weird because it doesnt sound like a stereotypical 80s album. so yeah this album is pretty much just ok. "THE BAD" A Momentary Lapse of Reason(1987) They should have totally saved this tital for The Wall or Obscured By Clouds or maybe they shouldn't have, I have never heard this one either. No judging. ???? The Division Bell(1994) I remember this being a lot like the album "POP" by U2 in the way that this was a seemingly cash grab of a band to try and remain relevant in an era that has quickly surpassed them musically instead of doing what they should have done after The Final Cut, BREAK UP. This album has a lot of "modern" for 94 sounds on it and is basically a rehash of their late 70s material(that made them millions) updated for the dumbass baby boomers all grown up in the 90s, i remember my dad loved this album...and that says a lot. "THE UGLY"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual (2013) Mute

So a few years ago I made some music. Some I made by myself and some I made with my neighbor. Nothing was remarkable or groundbreaking about what we were doing in terms of sound necessarily, yet the reason i bring it up was, to a cetain degree we didnt really know what we were doing, we just knew we wanted to create something that was against what we were normally exposed to. You could call it improv, you could almost call it free jazz(though not nearly played as well as the greats). whatever it was it was full of intent and thought to be apart of the pack. there are three distinct songs on this double album that bring the actual tonal quality of what we made years ago to mind. 2 extremely short tracks and one 3 minute track of, pretty much, atonal noise and screeches. sounds like crap right? well in the context of the album and the context of the musical landscape these tracks of pure noise are a revelation, especially considering the artist putting them out. The Knife for years now has been championed as an electro/pop/arty top of the class musical act. People(including myself) loved their 3rd effort "Silent Shout". That album was dancy, dark, weird, poppy and intelligent in it's sound design. This band was supposed to deliver on that album again, and they did it, but they did it a bit differently than expected. A lot of the same sounds are still around(steel drums, bjork like vocals, dancy drum beats etc...) this time though they put art in front of accessibility. not completely, just a little. Where once there was a 4 minute concise blast of tweaked dance pop now there is a 9 minute beast of a track that still retains the same energy and excitement from that track in the past but this time stretches it, adds a trance-like quality and expands on themes that might not have been attainable in the shorter time period. This album is divided up between the fun/exploratory and the heady/meditative. This is achieved with great effect. Ambient soundscapes bump up against electro bangers and so forth. The old sound is definitely evident but there is a sense of growth and wide eyed exploration and just the right amount of punk attitude. The songs are supposedly very political but aside from a few confrontational phrases the politics are lost on me. This album feels like another excellent case of the low-brow meets the high-brow worlds of art. Where the gutter meets Artforum. Where a trashy free zine meets the Wire. I appreciate artists who do this, it shows their intelligence, it shows their open-mindedness, it shows their wide range of taste. These things make me want to listen, to absorb every note. These are the kinds of people i respect. Yes this album is a lot to take in, yes it doesnt make a lot of sense as an easy follow-up but you would be sorely mistaken to think this is crap and anything short of an exploratory mind expanding listen. get lost in this shit and try and dance your way out. I fucking dare you....