Micro Reviews of All My CDs
(in alphabetic order)
Each day I listen to several CDs at work. I decided to play them all in
alphabetic order and note what I liked about them.
Notes on Pedantry: Reviews which appear chronologically out of order
are typically for albums I purchased while the project was in progress or which
were originally filed alphabetically by title or genre instead of artist.
Cover albums are generally listed after albums by the original band. Various
Artists compilations are listed as if the band name was the album name.
Quirks of capitalization in album names are generally intentional attempts at
following the band's intention. When I review more than a couple albums
by a band, I typically list them in chronologic order of release dates with
older albums listed first. The word "the" is ignored when alphabetizing.
Solo musicians and bands named after a person are listed by last name.
Song titles are all quoted, album titles are not.
Note that an album's absence from this list doesn't mean I don't listen to
it. I have over 75 days worth of material on iTunes which I do not wish to
review at this time. In many cases, I downloaded or borrowed a popular album
from a band and was then inspired to buy their other CDs. (Are you listening,
A B C D
E F G H
I J K L
M N O P
Q R S T
U V W X
- A Band of Bees - Octopus - 6/30/2008
- A pretty bouncy set of songs with some funky undertones. The lyrics are
fun, though a bit hard to read given the CD insert layout.
- AFI - Decemberunderground - 1/12/2009
- Melodic punk with gothy lyrics. Just listening, I didn't notice how morose
the lyrics were because the voices sounded uncharacteristically melodic (for
punk) and the guitar work was active but not grating.
- Afro Celt Sound System - Pod - 5/13/2008
- Remix album of the great Irish/African/electronica fusion group.
The first few and last few tracks feel like heavy-handed mixes and
distract from the original quality of the songs. The tracks in the
middle (especially #7) are quite good and put me in a good working groove.
- Afrocelts - Seed - 5/13/2008
- The group's fourth album feels both produced and natural with a
consistent flow. Good for zoning in on work.
- Alice in Chains - Facelift - 5/13/2008
- Fairly standard grunge faire. AiC have some songs which veer from their
own mold, but they aren't on this album. The lyrics on Facelift are good to
growl along to, though.
- Alien Sex Fiend - Too Much Acid? - 1/20/2010
- Drumkit and mildly-organized noise and screaming somehow manages to
be enjoyable. I'm impressed this was all recorded live.
- Altan - The First Ten Years 1986 / 1995 - 1/30/2009
- Lots of lovely, mostly instrumental, Irish tunes. None stood out as totally
awesome, but they were all enjoyable.
- Altan - The Blue Idol - 1/8/2010
- A good mix of songs and tunes, helpfully labeled for those who can't tell a
reel from a jig. "Daily Growing" (also known as "The Trees They Do Grow High")
is particularly lovely.
- Anam - Riptide - 5/13/2008
- Like any good traditional Irish album, it's a mix of dancy tunes and songs
which examine the soul of the Emerald Isle. The album doesn't stand out
against the sea of Irish music, but it's a good listen.
- Laurie Anderson - Big Science - 5/13/2008
- Laurie Anderson's known for making unusual music, and some of the songs
on this album are rather abstract. But the rest are downright groovy,
particularly "From the Air," "Big Science," "O Superman," and "Let X = X."
- Laurie Anderson - Home of the Brave: A Film By Laurie Anderson - 1/27/2010
- This has some odd songs and some abstract-yet-catchy songs like "Language
is a Virus" and "Smoke Rings." I'm curious what this film looks like,
with all the random references to things like using the phone.
- Anti-Flag - Underground Network - 5/13/2008
- Strongly left-wing punk. Sometimes the message gets lost in the noise,
but "Underground Network" and "Watch the Right" have catchy, insightful
lyrics that shine through.
- Anti-Flag - A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crime - 6/30/2008
- Five studio songs, five live songs, and two short political interludes make
less than 28 minutes. They take aim at the Bush administration and corporations
with sometimes-clear lyrics.
- Anti-Flag - The Terror State - 1/28/2010
- You have to pay attention to hear the lyrics, but they're clear and catchy,
though not especially insightful. Good for getting revved up against recent
- Apocalyptica - Cult (Special Edition) - 5/14/2008
- Cello-metal band's first album focusing on their own compositions.
This is a good move, as heavy metal composed for the cello sounds better
(especially on repeated listenings) than simple covers of Metallica songs.
"Romance" and "Beyond Time" are especially moving. Second disc contains
two tracks with vocal versions plus three live tracks. Probably not worth
paying too much extra for.
- Apocalyptica - Reflections - 5/14/2008
- A recent album of heavy metal composed for cello. This album features
a significant amount of percussion which fits in pretty well. "Faraway" is
a great track and the album includes a version with vocals.
- Apocalyptica - Worlds Collide - 2/2/2009
- Cellos and drums strike with a heavy hand on this album. The title track is
lovely and powerful while "Helden" is an interesting cover in German of David
Bowie's song ""Heroes"" but the other vocal tracks aren't that great nor do
the other instrumentals reach the highs set by Cult.
- The Atari Star - Prayer + Prayed - 5/14/2008
- Several years ago I downloaded two of their albums and enjoyed their
singer's voice. Their sound is fairly standard indie (as amusing as that
phrase sounds), but they're fun to listen to once in a while. I like
the songs "The Assimilationist" and "Silver Montgomery."
- Austin Lounge Lizards - Small Minds - 2/2/2009
- Poking fun at country music, Texans, conservative politicians, and NPR in a
way only those immersed in the subject can. "Gingrich The Newt" isn't
particularly great ten years after the subject left power, but "Half A Man" is
still a great song lampooning those who voted for his crew.
- Austin Lounge Lizards - Employee of the Month - 2/2/2009
- This album of satirical country music is worth it for Beach Boys send-up
"Hey, Little Minivan" by itself. While familiarity with country music aids the
enjoyment of this album, most of the songs cover subjects of general interest.
- Average White Band - Face to Face Live - 5/14/2008
- Six groovy songs and a few slow numbers. I had more fun at the show
I attended than I do listening to this live album, but it's sufficient for
bouncing around. The band was originally active in the 1970s, but this
1999 album (and the concert a year or two later) show they're still fun.
- Average White Band - Pickin' Up the Pieces: The Best of Average White Band - 5/14/2008
- I'm a little surprised these guys aren't better known; they're fun to
listen to. I'm particularly a fan of their songs that really boogie, so
I find this Best Of to be a little on the slow love song side.
- The B-52's - Good Stuff - 5/15/2008
- Listening to the B-52's is all about having fun, and this album is pretty
fun. The refrains are easy to sing along to and the meolodies are basic
enough to hum to yourself after the music stops playing.
- The B-52's - Nude On The Moon: The B-52's Anthology - 5/15/2008
- The first disc of this comilation has a beach-party dance feel to
it; the second disc has more of a dance-club dance feel to it. A few tracks
are live (including one which starts "This next number is also a song") and
remixes, but they thankfully don't repeat other tracks in the set.
- Various Artists - Back to Mine: Groove Armada - 7/22/2008
- The concept of this series is essentially professionally created mixed CDs.
Groove Armada did a great job selecting a mix of hip hop and R&B songs to
create a very groovy listening experience. Al Green's cover of "Light My Fire"
is very amusing.
- Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First - 5/15/2008
- Well over a decade since they hit the scene, Bad Religion is perhaps
the best-sounding contemporary punk band. In 2004 it would've been easy
to make an album entirely against George W. Bush, but they keep their sights
broad, challenging the whole system from war profiteers to Christian theology
to Orwellian sympathizers.
- Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell - 5/15/2008
- 16 songs cleverly playing on Christian themes and cliches. There isn't
any guitar work that stands out, but they don't interfere with enunciation
which is more than can be said for many punk bands trying to get out a message.
- Bad Religion - No Control - 5/15/2008
- "I Want to Conquer the World" is perhaps their best known song, and it's
the easiest to sing along with, but the rest carry a similar message of punk
discontent with the status quo. You can hear strain in Greg Graffin's voice;
it's amazing that he still sounds as clear nearly twenty years later.
- Bad Religion - The New America - 2/2/2009
- They cover several social issues in interesting ways while maintaining a
good head-bopping punk style. "A Streetkid Named Desire," "Whisper In Time,"
and "I Love My Computer" are all great.
- Bad Religion - The Process of Belief - 4/1/2009
- This album seems about 40% faster than their others, but the words are still
markedly clear. "Materialist" and "The Defense" are good songs.
- Joan Baez - Greatest Hits - 5/15/2008
- Perhaps my favorite singing voice, certainly among women. There are Baez
songs I like which are not on this compilation and the song order is suboptimal,
but the songs are all good.
- Joan Baez - Speaking of Dreams - 5/15/2008
- Released in 1989, the production on several of the songs sounds wrong
with post-80s ears. A few good compositions, but it's far from my favorite
- Joan Baez - Very Early Joan - 12/3/2008
- 22 lovely songs sung in the early '60s. Some are a lovely take of familiar
folk numbers like "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Freight Train." Others I've
never heard before, so they're both beautiful and novel. When I think of Joan's
voice, this beautiful tone is what I have in mind.
- Bakra Batá - Steel Drums, Percussion and Flute: The Afro/Carribbean Rhythms of Bakra Batá - 5/16/2008
- I enjoy listening to steel drums, but I rarely seek the pleasure of such,
so I don't listen to this album often.. The music has a tendency to blend
together from one tune to the next; it makes good background music.
- Banco de Gaia - Maya - 5/16/2008
- Electronic music kept interesting with a host of natural sounds, laughter,
and detached phrases. The whole album flows nicely and is good for working.
- Banco de Gaia - You Are Here - 5/16/2008
- A lot more lyrical than their previous work, the album gives me a sense
of a world in progress, a world moving, but not with the mechanistic sense
many electronic music albums give. This is the antipole of Kraftwerk.
- The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds - 1/12/2009
- A lot of people think this album is a master work of production and
arrangement. I agree that, as a pop album full of somewhat sappy love songs,
it's hard to beat. But for all the musical and vocal quality, their older songs
about cars and surfing were more fun to bop along to.
- The Beatles - Live at the BBC - 5/16/2008
- A collection of live performances (during their early yeras) on the BBC
with a few humorous introductions mixed in. It's got big early hits, covers
(particularly of Chuck Berry), and some Beatles songs that don't get a lot
of play. They were a fun pop band back then.
- Various Artists - A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles - 5/27/2008
- Covers of late Beatles songs by 16 reggae artists, most of which I have
not otherwise encountered. The songs work as reggae numbers, fitting into
a ska kind of mood, while maintaining lyrical integrity from Lennon/McCartney.
Nicky Thomas's "Isn't it a Pity," The Israelites's "Come Together," and
Phyllis Dillon's "Something" are all great. A rule of thumb for finding
a quality cover album: if it's got obscure songs by the original artists,
it's probably not just a sales gimick.
- The Grass Series - Beatle Grass - 5/27/2008
- Instrumental bluegrassish covers of 12 Beatles songs from the early side
of their catalog. This album is neither astounding bluegrass nor astounding
Beatles, but it's a pleasant toe-tapping musical interlude, reasonably good
to work to.
- Maziplay Pops - Beatles Greatest Hits - 5/27/2008
- I imagine this is what nursing homes will put on when the baby boomers
are drooling in wheel chairs in the activity room. With four tracks of
uninspired piano and 12 tracks of straight orchestral arrangements of Beatles
songs, this album should be relegated to background shock. The prominent
placement of "Over 61 minutes of music" should have warned me that this
album treats music as a commodity, not a message.
- David Palmer and The Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra - Orchestral Sgt. Pepper's - 5/27/2008
- I know now that orchestral cover albums are rarely a good buy, especially
if many tunes feature an electric guitar. If you're considering buying this
album, you presumably already know how Sgt. Pepper's goes and this treatment
doesn't try anything new and inventive. I can't think of a situation in which
I would rather listen to this than the original album.
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Save My Soul - 5/27/2008
- This album is from the tail of the 1990s swing revival. BBVD has a very
New Orleans feel. I don't like this album as much as some of the other swing
revival offerings, but it's still fun.
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - This Beautiful Life - 1/15/2010
- Equal parts swing and big band revival, this album feels like it's better
for listening than dancing, but it's a good feel. The lounge-style
"Ol' MacDonald" is pretty fun.
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - How Big Can You Get? The Music of Cab Calloway - 1/26/2010
- BBVD does a good job of creating a big band feel worthy of Calloway
without trying to duplicate Cab's famous voice or other minute details.
All of the songs are fun and danceable.
- Björk - Volta - 2/3/2009
- Both personal and avant garde, this album rewards tolerance to cacophanous
electronic accompaniment with beautiful lyrics well sung. "Earth Intruders,"
"Wanderlust," "Vertebrae By Vertebrae," and "Declare Independence" are all
lovely. One of the collaborators (Timbaland?) sounds like a male Nina Simone.
- Bleecker St. - Tumblin' Down - 5/27/2008
- Boulder's best blues band Bleecker St. bring both upbeat washboard jazzy
songs and slow harmonical blues ones. I often get songs from this album
stuck in my head for days at a time.
- The Five Blind Boys of Alabama featuring Clarence Fountain - Deep River - 5/28/2008
- I don't consider myself a Christian, but I love good gospel music and the
Blind Boys of Alabama rarely disappoint. This album doesn't have as many
awesome performances as their releases in the last decade, but "Brother
Moses" is great and the whole album is good.
- The Blind Boys of Alabana - Higher Ground - 5/28/2008
- A rockin' collection of gospel songs by the elder statesmen of sightless
song. "Freedom Road," "People Get Ready," and "Spirit in the Dark" are
particularly good and there's a nice cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."
- The Blind Boys of Alabama - Atom Bomb - 5/28/2008
- While some of the songs on this album don't stand out among other gospel
numbers, the great songs are really great. A piano baseline gives
a lot of power to "Old Blind Barnabas," "Demons" is a surprisingly good mix
of gospel and rap, and "(Jesus Hits Like the) Atom Bomb" is a great gospel
rendition of a somewhat weakly sung country song that would've been lost
in the landscape of half a century ago.
- The Bobs - 20 Songs 20 Years: The Best of The Bobs - 5/27/2008
- A varied collection of funny original songs and unusual acapella covers.
A few tracks include some of the audience interaction that makes a Bobs
show so fun. If you've never heard of The Bobs, pick this up and enjoy.
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Green Onions - 5/28/2008
- The title track is one of the great instrumentals of all time. A lot of
the rest of the tracks are covers of early soul songs. Aside from "Comin'
Home Baby," most didn't stand out, but they're all solid.
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Soul Dressing - 5/28/2008
- Their naming scheme seems to have been "Put the best tune first and name
the album after it." The other songs are great too; I think these guys are
the ultimate driving and working music.
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Hip Hug-Her - 5/28/2008
- At least a third of the songs on this album are outstanding, but they're
subtle enough that they aren't the first ones which come to mind when I think
of a random song by the group. This is the smoothest album of their '60s work.
- Booker T. & The M.G.'s - The Booker T. Set - 8/21/2008
- Eleven covers of popular rock and pop songs from the late 1960s, some are
immediately recognizeable ("Mrs. Robinson" and "Michelle") while others sneak
in without lyrics ("Light My Fire").
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Melting Pot - 5/28/2008
- Released in the early 1970s, this album has a slower, smoother feel than
their 1960s material. The title track is phenominal and the others are great
to groove to.
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s - that's the way it should be - 5/29/2008
- Over 30 years after their first album, these guys could still groove.
In addition to several upbeat original songs, they cover songs by Bob Dylan
and U2, among others. This album feels more jumpy and less smooth than their
earlier work with more prominance given to snare drums and guitar notes plus
a few rare tracks with vocals. It's still a fun album to listen to, it just
doesn't provide the same cool smooth feeling.
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Play the "Hip Hits" - 5/29/2008
- 25 covers from Ray Charles to Howlin' Woolf to The Beatles and other
songs I don't recognize. A lot of these don't feel as "Uniquely Booker T"
as covers on their main albums, but few feel like an overstretched cover.
- Booker T. & the M.G.'s and The Mar-Keys - Stax Instrumentals - 5/29/2008
- An album which alternates between groups every third track sounds like a
recepie for confusion, but since both were house bands for Stax (and have some
members in common), it's not at all jarring, though the listener can detect
changes in organ style and the presence or absence of a sax. "Good Groove"
is the best tune on the album.
- Boom Boom Satellites - OUT LOUD - 5/29/2008
- "On The Painted Desert" is one of my favorite electronica tracks ever and
the reason I bought this album. The rest is good too, providing a high-energy
but largely non-caustic aural experience, though without the full grandeur
- Brother - ... pipe dreams - 5/29/2008
- A so-so bagpipe rock album. "Romp and Circumstance" is a great
all-instruments-blazing tune and some of the other instrumentals are
pretty rockin', but their vocal harmonies don't really grab me.
"All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of
applicable laws (minimum penalty - a good spanking)" reads the small print.
- Brother - Black Stone Tramp - 5/29/2008
- Much better than "pipe dreams," Brother learned a better balance of voice
to instrument and bagpipe to guitar to drum. "Granny & Rory MacLeod" is
a rocking bagpiperydo number and "Carry me" feels like better harmony than
their previous album offered.
"All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable
laws. (and is potentially spankworthy or worse)." reads the fine print.
- BT - 10 Years In The Life - 12/1/2008
- Though it's more dancy and a little less heady than the electronica I
usually listen to, BT has created some great stuff. The early synthy stuff
isn't too hot, but tracks like "Remember" and "The Promethean Groove" are
superb. The second disc flows like a single mix, good for focus. And I applaud
filling almost every possible second on two discs. Certainly worth the money.
- Buenos Aires Connection - Tango Argentina - 5/30/2008
- Fairly standard tango music. I haven't been exposed to enough tango to
know how to spot a good album, so I haven't bought much tango. It's a cycle.
- The Bulgarian Voices – Angelite & Huun-Huur-Tu - Fly, Fly My Sadness - 1/19/2010
- The Bulgarian choral voice mixes very well with both dual-toned Tuvan
throat singing and the central Asian strings. The combination of diverse
styles is sandwich-like in quality. The songs are long enough to get a
meditative drone effect, but the tracks are varied so the album doesn't turn
into a drag.
- Butthole Surfers - Electriclarryland - 5/30/2008
- Without knowing anything about the album, one could be forgiven for
expecting it to be self-indulgent noise. There's some of that, but many
of the songs are surprisingly calm and catchy, including "Pepper," "Jingle Of
A Dog's Collar," and "The Lord Is A Monkey." And the loud raucous songs are
also fun to sing/scream along to.
- David Byrne - uh-oh - 5/30/2008
- Twelve fun upbeat songs. They're individually not as immediately catchy
as many Talking Heads and other Byrne songs are, but after I listen a few
more times I'll probably add one or two to my random song head-stuck repertoire.
- Cab Calloway - The Fabulous Mr. Calloway - 5/30/2008
- A best-of album with such fun music. "Everybody Eats When They Come To
My House" may be my favorite jazz song ever. I need to get more Cab.
- Francisco Canaro y su orquestra típica - Desde el Alma - 5/30/2008
- Piano tango with vocals that makes me do a little dance in my chair. It
feels very much like the 1940s or so.
- Capercaillie - To The Moon - 5/30/2008
- The synth effects (I think that's where that sound is coming from) on this
Irish album are generally used for good rather than evil. I rather like the
singer's voice, especially on "Claire in Heaven" and "The Price of Fire."
- Capital Steps - I'm Not Listening - 1/5/2010
- Oops! This isn't The Capitol Steps, the celebrated political satire group,
but an electronic artist since renamed to Square Wail. The music is
simultaneously groovy and annoying, turning what would be a fun GameBoy-created
album into a noisy distraction.
- Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica - 6/2/2008
- Perhaps the Captain's least-accessible album, there's plenty of dissonance
to go around. It's not a good album to put on in the background and focus on
work; when the band is playing two different melodies with squeaking lyrics
the listener's focus is drawn to the chaos. The folks who don't like really
weird music might enjoy "Dachau Blues" and "China Pig," but they would have
trouble sitting through the whole album.
- Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Ice Cream for Crow - 6/2/2008
- This album varies from the pleasant and catch "Ice Cream for Crow" and
"The Past Sure is Tense" to the unusual "The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O"
and "Ink Mathematics" to the surreal semi-poetry of "Semi-Multicoloured
Caucasian" and "The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole."
It's all interesting, but I need a palate-cleanser between songs.
- Captain Beefheart - Captain Beefheart At His Best - 6/2/2008
- Fans who like the opaque melodies that would bug most people would probably
disagree with the claim that these twelve songs are his best. The collection
is, however, full of good bluesy-rock (or perhaps rocky-blues) which pushes
the envelope rather than replacing the envelope with a Rubik's cube. A good
starting point for folks who aren't yet ready for everything the Captain has
- Captain Beefheart - A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond - 6/2/2008
- A collection of prevoiusly-released songs with occasional short quips
between tracks, this album features slow love songs ("Observatory Crest" and
"Blue Jeans and Moonbeams") and several odd songs ("Run Paint Run Run" and
"Sherriff of Hong Kong"), resulting in a sampling which is neither random nor
- Various Artists - Steel Drums of the Caribbean - 6/2/2008
- I love the sound of steel drums, but for some reason I don't get into
the music for ore than a few minutes. "Pedro" is the best tune on the album;
most of the rest aren't very exciting.
- International Music Series - Carnival in Trinidad - 6/2/2008
- Most of the songs don't seem to be about the festival preceding Lent, but
they've all got a party mood. Even though the songs are by a dozen artists,
they have a very similar sound, a close cousin of reggae. I didn't get really
into any of the songs, but they're fun and authentic.
- Johnny Cash - The Essential Johnny Cash - 6/3/2008
- A two-CD set of Cash's big hits from Ring of Fire on down. The second disc
has a lot of well-known live performances and duets. There's a lot to Johnny
Cash that's not on this collection, but all of the songs on it are worth having.
- Manu Chao - ...proxima estacion... Esperanza - 6/3/2008
- In typical Latin style, this album mixes a lot of elements with precision
to create a complex but smooth aural experience. While successive songs are
significantly different in instrumentation, tone, and even language the whole
album feels almost like it's one long tune with different words playing on
an evolving rhythmic theme. When the CD finishes playing, I usually want
to start it again.
- Ray Charles - The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years - 6/3/2008
- The music of Ray Charles spans several genres and styles, but I like
his early R&B, of which this album is full, the best. There's not a lot
of production, so the sad songs sound like he's playing and singing by himself,
just what you'd expect from someone disappointed in love.
- Ray Charles - The Birth of Soul - 2/3/2009
- Ray Charles visited several genres over his career, but his music that I
most reliably enjoy is his work in the 1950s for Atlantic. Most of the songs on
this collection are slow love songs with arrangements that work very well. It's
punctuated too with some of his big swinging hits. I just wish the store'd had
Volume 2 to match 1 and 3.
- Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind (Double Pleasure) - 6/3/2008
- A two-CD compilation that's less exciting than it could be. Almost all
of the songs are slow, and in several cases they're of a song which sounds
much better in the original quick style. Some of the tracks sound like they
have inferior recording quality, too. Overall, it feels somewhat ponderous
with a few breaks of excitement.
- The Chemical Brothers - Push The Button - 6/4/2008
- A hard-hitting, groovy electronic album with lots of rap vocals ("Galvanize"
and "Left Right" are quite good). My main complaint is that the album ends
somewhat abruptly: "Surface to Air" makes me feel like something should follow.
- The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night - 6/4/2008
- A rather dancy album with fairly meolodic vocals (aside from the incongrous
but amusing "The Salmon Dance" in the middle). "Das Spiegel" and "Burst
Generator" are quite groovy and "The Pills Won't Help You Now" is a great song.
- Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot - 6/4/2008
- Probably the most successful swing revival album of the 1990s, this is full
of good songs. The lyrics are often quite amusing, too.
- Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Kids On The Street - 6/4/2008
- Though they achieved fame for their swing music, CPD touched on many genres
without as much success. Most of this album is so-so rock, but near the end the
swing experimentation starts and things get fun.
- Chevelle - point #1 - 6/4/2008
- Three brothers play heavy metal that sounds a little like a simpler Tool.
The album opens fabulously with "open" and "point #1." The rest can't really
hold up to that level of awesome, but "blank earth" and "peer" are pretty good.
- The Chieftains - A Chieftains Celebration - 9/29/2008
- A solid album of traditional-style Celtic tunes. A number of folks
collaborate, including a didgeridoo on ""The Strayaway Child" and Van Morrison,
but it retains a very distinctively Chieftains feel.
- The Chieftains - Down the Old Plank Road / The Nashville Sessions - 6/4/2008
- The Chieftains play with a top-notch set of Nashville groups and musicians.
Unfortunately, much of the album sounds more like Nashville than The Chieftains.
There's nothing wrong with a Nashville sound, but it's not what I want when I
grab a Chieftains CD from the shelf. "Molly Bán" (with Alison Krauss)
and "Give the Fiddler a Dram" (a medly with several folks) have a good Irish
- The Chieftains - Santiago - 1/14/2010
- A great collection of tunes with collaboration from Galacian and other Latin
musicians. The Galacian bagpipe works really well with the Chieftains sound and
the diversity of styles on the album work well together. On many tracks,
it sounds like the old Chieftains but with an international flavor.
- Choralschola Der Wiener Hofburgkapelle - Gregorian Chant - 7/21/2008
- The acoustic quality is quite good, capturing a sense of distance from
- Chumbawamba - Tubthumper - 6/10/2008
- Made quite popular by "Tubthumping," this album is a well-crafted work of
strong pop/rock with well-placed sampled songs. Chumbawamba is able to create
music which is both commercially accessible (suitable for ambiance while
having a drink in a pub) and social commentary, though the latter is not always
immediately clear when listening at the surface level.
- Chumbawamba - WYSIWYG - 6/10/2008
- A fun album which pokes at telecomuting, the Internet, gated communities,
Charlton Heston, Jerry Springer, and others. The songs are all great for
- Chumbawamba - A Singsong and a Scrap - 6/10/2008
- This minimalistic acoustic album is a big change from the band's earlier
highly-produced work. Some songs, including "Walking Into Battle with the Lord"
are rather a capella; others like "The Land of Do What You're Told" have a
simple guitar and string accompanyment. The lyrics are still thoughtful, but
are a little more opaque than their older material. It feels like a calm folk
- The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem - Irish Drinking Songs Come Fill Your Glass With Us - 6/10/2008
- Great traditional Irish music and songs. I particularly like "Rosin' The
Bow" and "Johnny McEldoo."
- Clannad - Fuaim - 9/29/2008
- A fine batch of songs and tunes in the traditional Irish style. Enya's
keyboard experimentation on "Buaireadh An Phósta" and elsewhere are
subtle and interesting without being overpowering the way the rest of their
1980s synth could be.
- Clannad - Magical Ring - 12/4/2008
- Ten pleasant songs. "Theme from Harry's Game" and "Coinleach Glas An
Fhómhair" are great; many of the rest aren't as exciting.
- Clannad - Legend - 12/4/2008
- As the 80s grew, so did Clannad's use of the synthesizer. This album
features lots of swells and "oohs" and sounds for a foggy day on the heath.
As a TV soundtrack it's pretty good; I especially liked "Battles." As Irish
music, it's a bit weak.
- Clannad - An Díolaim - 6/11/2008
- A compilation of mostly Gaelic songs. I love all of the vocals on this
album; the quiet instrumentation supports it nicely.
- Clannad - Sirius - 6/11/2008
- The lyrics on this album are decent, but it succumbed to the
oversynthizization of the 1980s and it's hard to get past the artificial sounds.
A few songs, especially "White Fool," are worth listening to.
- Clannad - Landmarks - 6/11/2008
- Though electric keyboards are still present, Clannad had abandoned the
synthesizer overindulgence by the 1990s, resulting in a pleasant, though not
particularly remarkable, album. I particularly liked
- Clannad - Crann Ull - 4/1/2009
- A lovely batch of traditional songs in Irish. Harp, fair-voiced ladies,
light drum and guitar... just the Ireland we've romanticized.
- Clannad - Lore - 1/14/2010
- Soft and new-agey songs in English and Irish. Synthesizers are minimal and
the album is quite relaxing, but also somewhat boring.
- Márire Brennan - Má - 1/6/2010
- A Clannad "solo" album, this doesn't sound much different than the full
band's synthesizer and airy vocals phase. I didn't get excited about any
of the songs.
- The Clash - London Calling - 2/2/2009
- Known as one of the best punk rock albums in history, this album is a lot
more dynamic than what has become the typical punk sound, due in large part to
Stummer's rhythm guitar work. Most of the songs are great fun and socially
meaningful, so I'm not sure why I didn't like this album the first time I
listened to it a decade ago.
- The Clash - London Calling - 3/31/2009
- Featuring the band's quintessential sound, this album is fun, though not as
iconic as some of their later songs. I liked "Tommy Gun" and "Julie's Been
Working for the Drug Squad."
- Various Artists - Classic Rock superhits - 6/11/2008
- Many of the ten songs are good rock, but there's not much reason to listen
to this particular set of ten songs together. This sort of thing is superceded
by downloading singles.
- Les Claypool - Of Whales and Woe - 9/29/2008
- An exploratory studio album with Les, his family, and friends. Some of the
songs get pretty weird as Claypool takes on guitar, percussion, and effects.
If you think Les Claypool is a little too weird, stay away from this album.
Otherwise, dive right in.
- Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains - The Big Eyeball in the Sky - 6/11/2008
- This irreverant collaboration between Les Claypool, Buckethead, Bernie
Worrell, and Brain has some social commentary on George W. Bush and the media
as well as some songs meant mostly for fun. The musician's mix of styles works
- Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - Live Frogs Set 1 - 6/12/2008
- Listening to this CD, I feel like dancing around with a bunch of fun folks.
The live format really works for this set of songs, they lend themselves well
to long jams.
- Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - Live Frogs Set 2 - 6/12/2008
- I find it amusing that they released a live performance of the entirety of
Pink Floyd's album "Animals." I like the original better, but some of the
instrumental segments are pretty sweet.
- Jim Cohn - Unspoken Words - 6/12/2008
- A collection of songs and accompanied poems by a local poet/musician.
I only have this album because my dad recorded the tag-team performance of
Allen Ginsberg's "Lay Down Yr Mountain," which is great. A few of the other
songs are good too, but it takes a little more focus than I have while working
on other stuff.
- Colcannon - Trad. - 6/13/2008
- This album of all traditional songs and tunes is very pleasant. Unlike
many of their earlier albums, it doesn't have any silly or really sad
(English-language) songs so it doesn't break the listener out of mood or focus.
- The Progressive Sounds Of Combustible Edison - Schizophonic! - 6/13/2008
- This is one of the grooviest albums I own. The vibes, guitars, and vocals
mix together really well and create a great ambiance.
- Jesse Cook - Tempest - 6/13/2008
- Breeze from Saintes Maries was one of the first MP3s I ever downloaded and
it's so fantastic I bought the album when I found it. Other great songs are
"Tempest" and "Jumpstart," but the whole album is happy up-tempo flamenco and
- Jesse Cook - Montréal - 6/13/2008
- There's a lot of energy in this live recording. The crowd is into it,
the players are hot, and the drums are more prominent than in some of his
other albums. There's more vocals too -- the album opens with "Beloved," with
some Arabic-style chanting and closes with "Fall At Your Feet," a lovely song.
- Jesse Cook - Frontiers - 7/31/2008
- With fast percussion-heavy rhumba, slow flamenco, and two songs, the flow
of the track order is important to this album's quality. Apparently
"Café Mocha" has charted as far away as Japan, but I think some of the
other tunes are even more fun.
- Jesse Cook - Vertigo - 1/26/2010
- Alternating slow and fast tunes flow really well. "That's Right!"
brilliantly adds accordion to flamenco guitar, a good Canadian mix. Percussion
is used well throughout, including the six-and-a-half minute hidden track which
is some of the most fun flamenco I've heard, with excellent palmas clapping.
- Coverdale • Page - Coverdale • Page - 6/16/2008
- Jimmy Page made an album with David Coverdale, who can wail somewhat like
Robert Plant. This album is, unsurprisingly, more full-on electric guitar than
many Led Zeppelin albums, blending into a long series of vocal and guitar
wailing without the blues roots or clear lyrics that make Page and Plant worth
- The Cranberries - Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can't We? - 6/16/2008
- The Cranberries first full-length album is full of sweet songs about lost
and unrequited love. The guitars weren't as heavy as some of their later work
and the lyrics hadn't yet branched out to the other Cranberries themes of
premature death and new beginnings. For anyone who dislikes their later works,
this album could remain enjoyable.
- The Cranberries - No Need To Argue - 6/16/2008
- This is perhaps the best Cranberries album for singing along, offering some
opportunities for aggression ("Zombie"), high notes ("Empty"), mournful
("Daffodil Lament"), and pensive ("No Need To Argue").
- The Cranberries - To The Faithful Departed - 6/16/2008
- An album of songs about death, war, and drugs could be really depressing.
This one's strong enough to be mournful without being overbearing... at least
most of the time.
- The Cranberries - Bury The Hatchet - 6/16/2008
- In a bit of a departure, this album has some songs in which the protagonist
is happy. It's balanced, of course, by a song about child molestation. But if
other Cranberries albums get you down, give this one a try, possibly skipping
"Fee Fi Fo."
- The Cranberries - Wake Up And Smell The Coffee - 6/16/2008
- This album feels like the singer is wishing the listener well, that life
will be good, despite all the previous Cranberries songs. Some sound happy,
like "Analyze," while others sound bittersweet like "Chocolate Brown."
Just like a cranberry, I suppose.
- The Crystal Method - Vegas - 6/17/2008
- A solid album of medium-heavy electronica with enough variation to be
interesting. I particularly like "High Roller" which samples (or creates) some
verbal communications between a space center and astronauts. This is a good
album for focusing on work.
- Cusco - The Best of Cusco - 6/17/2008
- I had a few Cusco tapes as a kid in the 1980s. I remembered some of the
tunes as pretty good, so I got a used Best Of CD when I found it. While some
of the songs are rather lame '80s string synth, "Montezuma," "Didgeridoo," and
"Quetzal's Feather" are actually pretty enjoyable; you could almost overlook
the synthy sound.
- Cut Chemist - The Audience's Listening - 12/21/2008
- Great beats (many from real drums) and interesting DJ work make for
a fun, upbeat album. "The Garden" works excellently with a capoiera
song and "What's The Altitude" is a fun hip-hop number.
- Gino D'Auri - Flamenco Mystico - 6/27/2008
- Most of the tunes on this album are long, slow, and quiet. They feel a
bit like lullabies, a relaxing sojourn through a guitar. I prefer the faster
side of flamenco, though.
- Days of the New - Days of the New (yellow) - 6/18/2008
- Back in the early days of automated Internet radio, I heard "Shelf in the
Room" and thought it was awesome. The whole album holds up, with heavy
acoustics and insightful lyrics about struggles and success in life. I heard
them described as "post-grunge," with the simplicity and intensity of Seattle
in the early 90s, but without the feedback loops and in-your-face push.
- Days of the New - Days of the New (green) - 6/18/2008
- This features the same songwriting skill and raw acoustic power of the first
album. It adds some fun elements like a barnyard chorus and some well-placed
synthetic sounds on songs like "Enemy." This album is good for focus, for
contemplation, and for singing along.
- Days of the New - Days of the New (red) - 6/18/2008
- Between the switch to electric guitars and the symphonic interludes between
some songs, this album feels like Travis Meeks got lost somewhere between
writing songs and creating records. "Die Born" is well written and performed
and "Dancing with the Wind" makes reasonable use of symphonic elements, but
the rest of the album is too big and therefore underwhelming.
- Dead Can Dance - Dead Can Dance - 6/18/2008
- This album sounds kind of like an unusual ethnic festival happening at
the other end of the tunnel. That's not meant in a negative way, and may
be what they were going for. The group's later work often does a better job
of grabbing the listener, but their eponymous album does a fine job of setting
a spooky mood. The CD ends with the EP "Garden of the Arcane Delights," which
has emerged from the tunnel and sounds more familiar, but maintains the spooky
- Dead Can Dance - The Serpent's Egg - 6/18/2008
- This album is particularly suited to rocking back and forth and humming
along. The meaning is wrapped in alternating layers of gossamer and wool,
a casual listen doesn't unwrap much that is there. "The Host of Seraphim" is
one of the best album openers I've heard.
- Dead Can Dance - Spiritchaser - 6/18/2008
- This album gives me a sense of traveling down a river. With both Brandon
and Lisa singing in non-English, it sounds quite foreign, far from the odd
British countryside feel some albums give.
- Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin - The Guitar Trio - 6/19/2008
- I got this album because I heard their awesome Live in San Francisco
recording. This album doesn't have the vibrant energy that the live one brings
forth, but it's full of good Spanish guitar nonetheless.
- DeVotchKa - SuperMelodrama - 11/3/2008
- The group's first album sounds a bit like a drunken waltz party. It's very
lively and the music is all right on, melded with Nick Urata's wailed and muddy
lyrics. I noticed the tuba's absence; I think it's key to the band's later
- DeVotchKa - Una Volta - 11/3/2008
- This album is less chaotic than their first, and their concerts for that
matter. A few songs are slow, but the energy isn't dropped. "Deathy by Blonde"
and "One Last Vow" have some fantastic instrumentation.
- DeVotchKa - How it ends - 7/2/2008
- I love the feel of this album, its confluence of Mexican and gypsy.
I love the tuba riffs on "twenty-six temptations" and the wild abandon on
"we're leaving." I hate the fact that I never get around to seeing them live.
- DeVotchKa - A Mad & Faithful Telling - 6/30/2008
- This album has less jump-up-and-dance energy than other DeVotchKa music
I'm familiar with. In isolation, the lyrics of ucontemporary isolation sound
miserable, but set to music they induce a swaying social catharsis, suggesting
perhaps a gypsy wake.
- Didgeridoos - Sounds of the Aborigine - 6/19/2008
- I used to be really into didgeridoos, fascinated by the droning vibrations.
While I still think the sound is cool, I don't really get into listening to
a didg with light percussion and nature sounds for three quarters of an hour.
It might be good for meditating, but I'm not in the habit of putting on music
and closing my eyes.
- DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo - Ki-Oku - 12/2/2008
- Trumpet and spun beats and bass create a very groovy jazz album. DJ Krush
makes the turntable an instrument rather than a production tool. This album is
good for focus; tracks are similar enough to keep a groove but different enough
to avoid repetitivity despite loops.
- DJ Logic - presents Project Logic - 6/19/2008
- It's hard to tell how much of a track's quality is due to the turntablist
compared to the original artists, but there's a lot of good music on this
album. "Abyss," "Eyes Open (but Dead)," and "Spider Dance" are all great.
The source material is all jazzy, but it shifts significantly from track to
track making listening to the whole album a little jarring.
- DJ Shadow - The Outsider - 12/4/2008
- Shadow collaborates with about a dozen singers and rappers on some
interesting songs. At a concert he said "I'll put on a rap song to piss off
the indie rockers and then I'll play a folk song to make the hip hop kids go
huh?" The album feels mostly hip hop, but there's a lot of instrumental
interludes and sweet-voiced singers like Chris James and Christina Carter ("What
Have I Done"). "Backstage Girl" (Phonte Coleman) is a pretty entertaining rap.
- Donna The Buffalo - Positive Friction - 1/13/2010
- It's got twang, but it's got enough rock that people who "don't like
country" can enjoy it. "Movin' On," "Riddle of the Universe," and "Family
Picture" are all particularly good.
- The Doors - Greatest Hits - 6/19/2008
- The Doors have released more compilation albums than they released studio
albums. There is no shortage of ways to get songs like "Light My Fire" and
"Riders on the Storm." This album provides "Ghost Song" and an Apocalypse
Now version of "The End" as well as an "enhanced CD" portion with a Ghost
Song video and some extras that don't run on a contemporary operating system.
- Jim Morrison, music by The Doors - An American Prayer - 6/19/2008
- An album of poetry mixed with musical segments from The Doors's history.
Many of the poems have the ethereal sense that Morrison is famous for and the
musical presentation is quite carefully constructed. One can listen to this
as an album of songs, letting the sounds of the words and general sense of
meaning percolate through the conscious mind. This is not true of many
collections of spoken poetry.
- Rob Dougan - Furious Angels - 6/20/2008
- "Clubbed To Death" (featured in "The Matrix") is one of the grooviest songs
I have. Most of this album sounds like it belongs in film soundtracks: sweeping
symphonics, non-invasive electro beats, and progressive (as in building, not
as in political) lyrics. The songs don't necessarily fit together, so this
album might be best when shuffled with other trip hop. The second disc contains
instrumental versions of most of the first disc. These are quite enjoyable
and, since an hour passed since the vocal version, sound familiar but not
- Dr. Didg - Serotonality - 6/20/2008
- I listened to this album a few times and somehow got the impression that
it was pretty lame, so I didn't listen to it again for years. It's actually
not bad, with a good mix of didgeridoo, guitars, and electronic elements which
flow well with the didgy drone.
- Dr. Didg - Dust Devils - 12/1/2008
- A very groovy mix of elements. "T'Boli" and "Sub-Aqua" are both awesome and
feature a keyed didg. "Harry's Multimix" is well-done and "Arrhythmia" is quite
- Dropkick Murphys - The Warrior's Code - 4/1/2009
- High volume bagpipes, electric guitars, and guys shouting. This is ideal
music for a party with lots of beer or scotch, some old and new friends, and at
least one or two guys with Scottish ancestry. While more enjoyable than a lot
of punk, Flogging Molly's Irish version sounds better to my ears.
- Marty Durlin - Cosmic Polka and other songs from the body of life - 6/20/2008
- I've got this album because my dad recorded it and Marty's an old friend.
"Just Off the Oval Office" (about the Clinton/Lewinski scandal with the
great line "What I thought was love / You said wasn't even sex"), "Cosmic
Polka," and "Dear Jane Fonda" are all quality songs. Some of the others
are expressions of the artist, collected over time. It's not something
with wide commercial appeal, but that's not what Marty's about, anyway.
- Earth, Wind & Fire - Last Days and Time - 6/23/2008
- This album doesn't contain the EWF hits one is likely to encounter. It
is a calm and groovy album with some smooth guitar melodies and soothing
vocals. It's not for a dance club, but I'm not trying to dance right now.
- Earth, Wind & Fire - All 'N All - 6/23/2008
- The first two songs are pretty rockin', but most of the album consists
of slow love songs. It's quite a relaxing listening opportunity.
- Earth, Wind & Fire - I Am - 6/23/2008
- This album is full of good songs to sing along to, from "In The Stone" to
"After The Love Has Gone" to "Boogie Wonderland." The horn section is pretty
- Earth, Wind & Fire - Faces - 6/23/2008
- At times this album is too full, guitars, horns, and others competing for
the listener's focus. I suppose this is symptomatic of its 1980s release.
Also in that reflection, the melody of some tracks feels a bit like disco.
It's a good album to play while other things are going on.
- Earth, Wind & Fire - Millennium - 6/23/2008
- This album veers quite away into synthy sappy love songs, but the kalimba
keeps it a level above much other R&B of that sort.
- Earth, Wind & Fire - The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire - 6/23/2008
- "Fantasy," "Shining Star," and "September" are all awesome and the other 7
songs are pretty fun too. The two "Megamix" bonus tracks (one a radio edit)
are somewhat lame, but at least they include portions of songs not on this
disc. EWF albums are consistently good enough that Best Of albums are good
- Duane Eddy - Twangy Guitar / Water Skiing - 6/23/2008
- Twangy Guitar, the first of the two reproduced records, is full of excessive
string section flourishes which drown Eddy's signature guitar in a sea of lame.
Water Skiing, on the other hand, is a fine lot of early instrumental rock &
roll that would lead into a wave of surf bands in the 1960s.
- International Music Series - English Folk Collection - 6/24/2008
- I got this album because it was $2 and I don't think it's worth any more
than that. "Manchester Rambler," by Ewan MacColl/Peggy Seeger, "Doctor Calls"
by June Tabor, and "Wired to the Moon" by Promises are pretty good. On the
other hand, "Ancient Beatbox" sounds like almost like Depeche Mode trying to
play folk. Pentangle-quality it's not.
- Esquivel - Cabaret Mañana - 2/3/2009
- Latin-influenced lounge music from another dimension. These tunes are
groovy and interesting, worthy of intense study or music at a party. "Mucha
Muchacha" is pretty funny. I'll keep an eye out for more music by Esquivel
& His Orchestra.
- Esteban - Enter the Heart - 6/24/2008
- A nice mix of dancey flamenco (including a few tracks with a nice horn
section) and some of a softer, sweeter variety. "Blue Lotus" is an interesting
mix of flamenco and raga, Spanish guitar and Indian sitar.
- The Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back: The Everly Brothers on Warner Bros. 1960 to 1969 - 6/24/2008
- A two disc set with 50 songs in all the rockabilly, fraternal-harmony,
simple-early-rock-n-roll they're justifiably famous for. There's not a bad
song on this compilation.
- Cesaria Evora - Cabo Verde - 6/25/2008
- Evora's beautiful voice and the strumming and shaking behind it transport
the listener to the swirling mists of the idealization of her native country.
- Cesaria Evora - Miss Perfumado - 9/29/2008
- There's a ritualistic simplicity to Cape Verdean music that draws the
listener in for enrapturement of one of the world's best singing voices.
"Sodade" is a song every human should hear.
- Cesaria Evora - Café Atlantico - 6/25/2008
- This album feels a bit like a party is going on with dancing, drinking,
and socializing. A lot of the songs feel more upbeat, with the feeling of
sodade kept for a time in the back of the revelers minds.
- Cesaria Evora - Voz D'Amor - 6/25/2008
- These songs linger, moving somberly from one to another. It's the slow
procession of one in love; sometimes walking with the beloved, sometimes
walking alone. In the former, the lover doesn't want the moment to end.
In the latter, the lover knows the moment won't pass faster, but may pass
- Explosions in the Sky - How Strange, Innocence - 6/25/2008
- Though the band consists of drums, three guitars, and a block of amplifiers,
this album is rather peaceful. Unlike "The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place,"
I don't have refrains echoing through my mind after listening to this album.
It's more like I've just returned from a pleasant walk, mind meditatively clear.
- Faith No More - The Real Thing - 6/25/2008
- The basis is heavy metal, but the songs rise well above that standard.
"Zombie Eaters," "The Real Thing," "Underwater Love," and "Edge of the World"
are sweet, if somewhat morbidly so. The rest are pretty fun.
- Faith No More - Angel Dust - 6/25/2008
- Many of the songs on this album sound juvenile and noisy, but there are
a few good tracks. "MidLife Crisis" is the most fun song about menstruation
I've ever heard. I like "Everything's Ruined" and "A Small Victory" while
"Midnight Cowboy" is a great album-ending instrumental which doesn't fit in
with the rambunctiousness of the rest of the album.
- Faith No More - Album of the Year - 6/26/2008
- I rather like the songs on this album, though it's hard to articulate why.
The lyrics are clear, for one. And the electric guitars are used a bit like
some groups use string sections in rock. But it works much better when guitars
do the swelling.
- Fanna-fi-Allah - Annihilation into the Infinite - 1/7/2008
- A Qawwali party maximizes the amount of music on a CD. I don't know this
music well enough to compare the quality of performances, but this album did a
good job of trancing me into what I was working on.
- Fatboy Slim - Better Living Through Chemistry - 6/26/2008
- Despite some odd samples and weird directions, this is a surprisingly groovy
album of interesting electronic music. "The Weekend Starts Here" is a great
chill-out number and I rather like "Santa Cruz," "The Sound of Milwaukee," and
"Next to Nothing."
- Fatboy Slim - You've Come a Long Way, Baby - 6/26/2008
- Most of the tracks on this album are very repetitive. They start out
annoying, but after a minute or I can get into them and bounce around. "Right
Here, Right Now" opens the album in a less-annoying vein. It and "Praise You,"
would be worth listening to with some frequency.
- Fatboy Slim - Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars - 6/30/2008
- This feels a bit like Fatboy's answer to Moby's album "Play" with extensive
samples of gospel, blues, and speeches from black community leaders (and also
Jim Morrison, just to keep things complex). But while the focus of "Play" seems
to be dance, this album is more contemplative, offering the user space to
think about the sampled words.
- Fatboy Slim - Palookaville - 9/30/2008
- A wide array of samples and sound varieties leads to a bunch of interesting
songs, but doesn't give much cohesion to the album. "The Journey" is a neat
little ditty, the cover of "The Joker" is amusing.
- Perry Farrell - Song Yet To Be Sung - 6/26/2008
- Best known as the singer for grunge/alt-rock pioneers Jane's Addiction,
Farrell's solo album is instrumented primarily by drum machines and other
manufactured sounds. There's nothing spectacular about the album, but the
vocals and instrumentals mix well enough to be enjoyable. "Happy Birthday
Jubilee" + "Song Yet To Be Sung" and "To Me" are my favorite songs on the CD.
- Firesign Theatre - Give Me Immortality Or Give Me Death - 6/26/2008
- The Firesign Theatre were pioneers of comedy albums with sly references in a
generation before mine. This album is set up as a radio news crew just before
the millenium. In addition to commercial media and apocalypse nuts, they take
shots at Princess Diana and the events around her death, the OJ Simpson chase,
and advertisers. There's some pretty funny bits and the whole thing runs
- The Flaming Lips - Transmissions From The Satellite Heart - 6/26/2008
- The songs on this album are pretty weird, back in their "punish the fans"
mode before they realized they could have fun making music that's not hard
to listen to. ""She Don't Use Jelly" is a lot of fun and "Turn It On" and
"Slow Nerve Action" are interesting, but the album as a whole is a small
- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - 6/27/2008
- The first offering by the groundbreaking banjo-led jazz group doesn't seem
so astounding eighteen years later. The picking is supurb from Fleck and the
other players and it works well as active but calming jazz.
- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - UFO TOFU - 6/27/2008
- This album has several musical themes it returns to periodically, but in
between it takes some rather impressive detours. I particularly like "Nemo's
Dream," "UFO TOFU," and "The Yee-haw Factor."
- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Three Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - 6/27/2008
- There's not a lot that distinguishes one early Flecktones album from
another. This can be a good thing for mixed CDs or listening to all the albums
in order; you don't have to worry about breaking mood. "A Celtic Medly" and
"The Longing" are both quite good.
- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Live Art - 6/27/2008
- I was disappointed to discover one of the first CDs I owned developed a
scratch recently. Fortunately iTunes was able to import it so I can listen
to two discs of banjo, bass, and synth-axe drummitar without interruption.
A lot of the tunes have great energy, in part thanks to various musicians
who sit in with the band, particularly on strings. "New South Africa,
"Bigfoot," and "The Message" are quite good. I'm not sure if I really like
the rest because they're fantastic or because I've heard them so often that they
have worn a groove in my musical memory, but there's certainly not a bad
performance on this album.
- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Outbound - 6/30/2008
- The first part of this album is spacier than their 1990s material. I
particularly like the other-placeness of "Hall Of Mirrors." The second half
is a little more down to Earth, but still groovy.
- Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - The Hidden Land - 6/30/2008
- This album has more prominent banjo, or perhaps just more subdued other
instruments, than many other Flecktones works. "Who's Got Three?" and
"Subterfuge" stood out as really cool.
- Flogging Molly - Float - 7/2/2008
- It's hard not to bounce in your seat while listening to this album.
Their use of traditional Irish instrumentation and styling is extensive and
well-mixed with the punk energy. "(No More) Paddy's Lament" is one of many
- Fluke - Risotto - 7/2/2008
- The first two tracks ("Absurd" and "Atom Bomb") are great throbbing vocal
singles only loosely connected with the progressive ambience of the rest of
the album. "Bermuda" and "Amp" are both great and the whole CD is good for
focusing on the task at hand.
- The Flying Burrito Brothers - Sin City - 7/2/2008
- This seems like an odd conert to publish since the band sounds a bit off.
I'm not sure if they normally sing not-quite-together, but it's not particularly
enjoyable listening. The four encores (two labeled #1) are better, though.
- Various Artists - best of FOLK ROCK - 7/2/2008
- Ten hits from the late sixties include some that are political ("Eve of
Destruction") and some that are just poppy ("You Were On My Mind").
The songs are good, but they needn't be played all at once.
- Smithsonian Folkways - A Vision Revisited: The Original Performances of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly - 7/2/2008
- All three performers have more than enough material on their own, but the
cyclic songs on this album are a good introduction to the listener unfamiliar
with their works. The songs are all great and the performances vibrant.
- Michael Franti & Spearhead - Stay Human - 7/2/2008
- This album's setup with scripted radio segments about an impending execution
makes listens beyond the first a little tedious. The lyrics are good and the
songs and dialogs flow well enough that the music remains enjoyable.
- Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand - 7/3/2008
- In an age of remixes and production, it's good to see there are still young
Brits who can rock out. Every song is fun and high energy, my favorite is
"the dark of the matinée," but they all occasionally get stuck in my
head. The five songs on the bonus disc aren't too derivative, but not worth
paying a lot extra for.
- Franz Ferdinand - you could have it so much better - 7/3/2008
- While the songs don't feel quite as iconic as the ones on their eponymous
debut, they've got the same driving drum beat, energetic guitars, and sweet
harmonic vocals. While I listen to this album, each song in turn is my
favorite. None are better and none are worse.
- Robert Fripp, The League of Gentlemen - God Save the King - 7/3/2008
- This album is essentially 44 minutes of semi-frenetic electric guitar
picking. It's an impressive display of skill and not a bad listen, but it
doesn't really grab me.
- Various Artists - Funk: The Language of New Orleans Volume 8 - 7/3/2008
- My mental prototype of funk comes from the 1970s; this compilation sounds
half-way between those bros with fros and New Orleans jazz. Rhudabega's
"Joseph" is probably the only funk song I've heard featuring a banjo and
Cyril Neville's "Fonkaliscious" sets out a righteous groove.
- The Future Sound of London - Dead Cities - 7/7/2008
- FSOL creates very lush soundscapes. This album in particular is an odd
but workable balance between calm and spacey music and bursts of noise and
- Various Artists - Future Soundtrack for America - 7/7/2008
- Profits from this album went to "non-profit progressive organizations
working to involve more Americans in our political process..." As one might
expect from a diverse compilation focused on message, the selections don't
all fit together well. Several individual songs are good, particularly Mike
Doughty's "Move On," will.i.am's "Money," and Fountains of Wayne's "Everything's
Ruined." Several well-known artists make an appearance with live or remixed
versions, and while enjoyable they're placed a bit haphazardly.
- Garbage - beautifulgarbage - 7/7/2008
- This electropop album has several good songs, but I don't really get into
it. The lyrics are good and it flows decently, but the guitars add crackers
to the smoothie, which isn't as nice as it could be.
- Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band - Almost Acoustic - 7/7/2008
- This live album sounds a bit like a jam session. It's got traditional folk
songs and a few Dead regulars that work well in a pickin' style. "Deep Elem
Blues" sounds great, but most of the rest isn't overly exciting.
- Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook - Black Rock - 1/15/2010
- Most of this collabration with the great Armenian woodwind musician is quite
slow, meditative, and plodding. "Take My Heart" and "Freedom" have good energy
and the whole album has a good sound, but I wish it was up a notch.
- Gilberto Gil - Quanta - 12/2/2008
- A lovely long collection of energetic and soft songs. The album art
indicates mathematical and Chinese symbolism, leading me to desire an
exploration of the lyrics.
- Gilberto Gil - O Sol de Oslo - 12/3/2008
- These songs are medium on the lively scale with a quick tempo but staid
instrumentals. Few are super awesome, but none are bad.
- David Gilmour - David Gilmour - 7/7/2008
- Though Gilmour's best-known works from the late 1970s featured massive
sound, his solo debut is markedly quiet and pensive. The album displays
little range in guitar style or vocals. Thematically, one gets the sense he's
singing to someone who's not quite there, perhaps the same person he's grasping
for in A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
- David Gilmour - On An Island - 7/7/2008
- Gilmour's solo style seems to be bluesy in nature with guitar notes set
out to sea to float for the listener's consideration. I like this best of his
three albums, but it's a far cry from the power of Pink Floyd. I suspect he
likes it that way, riding a small vessel to a solitary island instead of a
cargo ship to a major port.
- Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi - 8/5/2008
- The dialog-free movie Koyaanisqatsi had a major impact on me when I first
watched its sped-up and slowed-down scenes of city life, natural processes,
and destructive events. Glass's score is tightly woven with the film and I can
almost picture scenes based on the pacing of the orchestra. This album is good
for focusing but also good for spacing out.
- Various Artists - Global Meditation - 7/8/2008
- This compilation of "authentic music from meditative traditions of the
world" starts with some chants that I don't find very meditative. Other
tracks from elsewhere in the world are peaceful, but I'd think trying to
meditate when the ambiance changes every five minutes would be rather
distracting. It'd be much better to focus on one style for an hour.
- Godsmack - Awake - 7/8/2008
- There's nothing innovative about Godsmack's music, but they're good at being
loud and raw, so when that's called for, this is a good album to listen to.
"Sick of Life," "Awake," and "Vampires" are all good songs.
- Grateful Dead - Go To Heaven - 7/8/2008
- Grateful Dead studio albums often lack the energy that transports the
listener to a s reality somewhere between their seat and a dance floor that
live recordings often impart. "Althea," "Feel Like a Stranger," and "Lost
Sailor" give a nice calm groove, but a lot of the other songs, though
good on their own, don't fit together super well.
- Grateful Dead - Live at the Cow Palace, New Year's Eve, 1976 - 7/8/2008
- The first disc features "Promised Land" and "They Love Each Other," which
I'd never heard before, both are great. Good long jams finish the first disc
("Playing in the Band"), span the second ("Eyes of the World" -> "Wharf Rat"
and others), and cover the middle of the third ("Splipknot!" -> drums, "Not
Fade Away," and "Morning Dew.") The packaging is lovely, too.
- Grateful Dead - So Many Roads (1965-1996) 5 CD Box Set Sampler - 7/9/2008
- The bulk of this preview disc is from the late 70s and early 80s with
great jams of "Estimated Prophet," "The Music Never Stopped," and "Shakedown
Street." It starts with "Cream Puff War" and "You Don't Have To Ask," giving
listeners a glimpse at their less well-known early psychedellic side. What's
missing is something from the early 70s, perhaps their most definitive period.
- Grateful Dead - Infrared Roses - 7/9/2008
- Bab Bralove used plunderphonic techniques to construct an entire album
of Dead jams. Mixing together pieces of space jams spread across the Grateful
Dead catalog, each piece is a new sandwitch constructed with subtly different
flavors of jam.
- Grateful Dead - Grayfolded - 7/9/2008
- John Oswald took dozens of live performances of Dark Star and stitched them
together into a two-hour plunderphonic extravaganza. Sometimes several
performances tumble by in a pile, particularly with vocals. Other stretches
feature a few minutes from one show on its own, ever-so-perceptibly supplanted
by another stretch from elsewhere and elsewhen. The whole experience is spacy
and a bit spooky, a fascinating exploration of an iconic musical segment.
- The Other Ones - The Strange Remain - 7/10/2008
- This is a very well-selected two disc set of great jam songs. The band
lineup is great, and Bruce Hornsby's "White-Wheeled Limousine" inspired me
to buy several of his albums. "Sugaree" and "Corrina" are great long jams
and the infrequently-heard "Banyan Tree," "Mountains of the Moon," and "Baba
Jingo" are groovily fresh.
- Various Artists - The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead - 7/10/2008
- This compilation features an impressive array of original artists performing
songs that were a staple of the Dead's live shows. Without the Dead connection,
this collection of songs wouldn't really go together, but I've been glad to have
it on hand a few times. Several of the songs aren't easy to find on their own.
- Wake the Dead - Wake the Dead - 7/10/2008
- This group playing in the traditional Irish style demonstrates the
flexibility of the Grateful Dead songbook, mixing Garcia/Hunter with O'Carolan
and traditional Irish jigs and reels. The group's voices are significantly
sweeter than the Dead's and their selections are very well suited to the style.
- Wake of the Dead - Buckdancer's Choice - 7/10/2008
- This album is generally as good as the group's first. The song selection
is a little more on the psychedelic side than the folk side, but they all
work well with the Irish instrumentation.
- Jazz Is Dead - Blue Light Rain - 7/11/2008
- Seven Grateful Dead covers with a jazz bent. Much of the enjoyment in
listening to this album is the sense of recognition of various Dead grooves.
And while it's a fine instrumental performance of the Blues For Allah suite
and some others, listening to actual Dead performances would probably be more
- Jazz Is Dead - Great Sky River - 7/11/2008
- The tune selection is better than on Blue Light Rain, providing a better
base for jazz jamming. "Terrapin Station" and "St. Stephen/The Eleven" work
- Various Artists - Fire on the Mountain - Reggae Celebrates The Grateful Dead - 7/11/2008
- The range of reggae represented on this compilation is somewhat limited,
but Robert Hunter's lyrics work well with a reggae groove. "Uncle John's Band"
(Joe Higgs) and "Wharf Rat" (Michael Rose) are pretty good.
- Great Big Sea - Something Beautiful* - 7/11/2008
- A Scottish rock group on the lighter side of the spectrum. "Beat the Drum,"
"Helmethead," and "John Barbour" have a good Scottish feel to them, but several
of the other songs sound almost like a different band (Bob Schneider, perhaps),
giving a disunified feeling from the album.
- Gritos de Guerra - Los Flamencos No Comen - 7/21/2008
- Decent nuevo flamenco. Some tracks use drums quite effectively.
- Groove Armada - Lovebox - 7/22/2008
- Most of the songs on this album feature party-themed lyrics and bouncy
hip-hoppy grooves. They're done fairly well, but I don't especially care
for most of them. "Hands of Time" and "Tuning In (rewritten)" are much calmer
trip-hop and quite enjoyable.
- Groove Armada - Soundboy Rock - 12/3/2008
- Most tracks are in a dance/party style, but each feels significantly
different. Several are quite fun ("Paris," ""Lightsonic," and "Drop That Thing"
particularly), but the album doesn't really go together as a unit. Dropping
individual tracks into a playlist would work, though.
- gusgus - Attention - 3/30/2009
- Electronic music that feels mellow while having a strong beat. Great to
work to; I was zoned out with occasional awareness of the groovy tunes.
- gusgus - (This is Normal - 1/6/2010
- Calm with an undertone of energetic, independent and remixable,
interesting and ambient. "Ladyshave," "Starlovers," and "Love vs Hate"
are great examples of what trip-hop should sound like.
- Various Artists - Gypsy Passion: new flamenco - 7/22/2008
- This Narada collection is full of great tunes by Lara & Reyes,
Ottmar Liebert, and Willie and Lobo among others. I need to remember the
artists involved so I can keep an eye out for full albums by them.
- Various Artists - Gypsy Soul: new flamenco - 7/22/2008
- This Narada collection is full of great tunes by Jesse Cook, Slash,
Chuscales, and Bozzio Levin Stevens among others. Mostly it's upbeat, but
some tunes have a slow sensual element, sometimes at the same time as the
rapid string playing.
- Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock the Joint! The Original ESSEX Recordings 1951-1954 - 7/28/2008
- Bill Haley immmediately associates to early rock & roll in my mind, but
I discovered that I was unfamiliar with almost all of these songs. Their
rockabilly sounds, particularly the swing-like use of the snare drum, are
absent from most rock today, giving the songs a spare sound which feels even
older than it is. "Rockin' Chair on the Moon" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" are
- Mickey Hart - Rolling Thunder - 7/23/2008
- Hart's solo work is best known for world percussion collaborations, but
this early '70s project is a mostly rock collaboration with appearances
from Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Steven Stills, and others. Some
of the songs are pretty good, particularly "Hangin' On," but it's not an album
to choose when in a "Mickey Hart mood."
- Mickey Hart - Planet Drum - 7/23/2008
- This groundbreaking world percussion collaboration provides a sense that
the listener is moving through a jungle, stumbling upon new groups of drummers
joined by the sounds of nature. Most of the songs are quite calm, so this is
only a corner of the drum planet, but it's a beautiful region.
- Mickey Hart - mickey hart's mystery box - 7/23/2008
- A fabulous album of songs by Robert Hunter, vocals by Mint Juleps, and
percussion arranged by Hart. Everything is great, particularly "Down The Road,"
"Only The Strange Remain," and "The Last Song."
- Mickey Hart, Planet Drum - Supralingua - 7/23/2008
- This album has a lot of fun elements in it, including a didj, group calls,
and wood blocks. Some of the numbers are upbeat, some slowly paced. The bonus
remix disc is largely repetitive and boring.
- Mickey Hart - Spirit into Sound - 7/24/2008
- Less busy and more serene than some of Harts other collaborations, this
album has a lot of cool elements like bamboo tubes and jew's harp on "Cloud
Moss" and pan flute and water drop on "Elephant Walk." I find myself swaying
in my seat as if walking down a road.
- Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo - Global Drum Project - 7/24/2008
- This album features four world-class drummers having fun with a bunch of
different sounds. I love "Dances With Wood" (played on an old-growth grapevine
and an old-growth redwood stump) and "Funky Zena" has justifiably gotten plenty
of airplay, but they're all excellent.
- Isaac Hayes - The Best of the Polydor Years - 7/28/2008
- Though Hayes is most famous for funk like Shaft, I think he's best at slow
soul ballads. The songs on this compilation aren't as fantastic as those on
Hot Buttered Soul, but they still provide that smoothe seductive sound.
- Isaac Hayes - Movement: Raw & Refined - 7/28/2008
- A very groovy set of instrumentals. The best are in the middle of the
album, "The Night Before," "Memphis Trax," and "Soul Fiddle," the first makes me
feel like I'm travelling somewhere with maximum possible smoothness. "The 405"
sounds like the artistic quality that hold music only wishes it could reach.
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland - 7/24/2008
- The Experience had hit its stride, shifting from short hits and into long
somewhat spacey and bluesy numbers ("Voodoo Chile", "1983... (A Merman I Should
Turn To Be)"). The album still features some hits that receive regular airplay
- Jimi Hendrix - The Ultimate Experience - 7/24/2008
- This "best of" album contains the Hendrix songs a person should know,
from "Purple Haze" to "Little Wing" to "Star Spangled Banner", for basic rock
cultural knowledge. It's got some less-heard songs as well, including
"Castles Made of Sand." It's not the ultimate Hendrix, though, as it's all
published material from the Jimi Hendrix Experience era with no contributions
from Band of Gypsys or other archives that have been scoured for the last
- Hendrix - Band of Gypsys live at the fillmore east - 7/25/2008
- This two-disc set contains songs from four performances on New Year's
Eve and New Year's Day, 1969/1970. Jimi notes at the end of one, "We're
still working on some of these songs," but they're quite good, representing
much of the Band of Gypsys repertoire including "Stepping Stone" and two good
versions of "Machine Gun."
- Jimi Hendrix - First Rays of the New Rising Sun - 7/25/2008
- Even though this is a collection of songs Hendrix was working on before
he died, they fit together quite well as an album. It's got intense rocking
songs like "Izabella," soft bluesy songs like "Drifting," and guitar brilliance
mixed with sweet imaginitive lyrics on "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)." I think I
like this album more than any released during Hendrix's life.
- Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Soup - 7/25/2008
- Most of the songs on this album are available on other posthumous albums
and compilations, making assembling the minimal complete Hendrix collection a
significant challenge. The strongest songs on this album are instrumentals,
the opening "The New Rising Sun," "Midnigt," "Pali Gap," and "Peace In
- Jimi Hendrix - Best Of The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings - 7/25/2008
- This is a two-CD set containing choice picks from six albums of material
recorded in the year or two before Hendrix became famous. Curtis Knight sang
most of the vocals and Hendrix overdubbed guitar and bass on the studio tracks.
The first disc has some quality rhythm & blues, especially "How Would You
Feel." The second disc is largely live and more bluesy; not bad but not super.
- Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks - Beatin' The Heat - 6/30/2008
- The 15 "songs to cool off by" are swingin' and fun, but I don't think my
body temperature changed. Maybe I should've been dancing. Their cover of
"The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" sans the mumbling of Tom Waits (who
appears on the album elsewhere) is nicely incongruous.
- Chris Hinze - T'ai Chi In Balance - 10/3/2008
- A mix of traditional Chinese song with synthesized drums, guitars, and
other elements. Many tracks sound pretty good, including some with African
vocals and synthetic grooves ala Afrocelt Soundsystem. I don't think I'd want
to use this as a soundtrack for doing T'ai Chi, though, as the emphasized
percussion would disrupt my natural flow.
- Billie Holiday - the classic decade 1935-1945 - 7/28/2008
- The quality of this compilation rests entirely on Holiday's voice. While
it's sweet and elusive, 70 minutes through 1930s recording technology can
start to drag. Perhaps this music is best in a radio context, an ethereal but
friendly voice emerging between two more burly jazz selections.
- Buddy Holly - From The Original Master Tapes - 7/28/2008
- Buddy Holly is a fixture of the American imagination of the 1950s. He's
playing on the radio at the drive-in hamburger joint while kids in leather
jackets drink a milkshake while they talk about their cars and who'll they'll
invite to the high school dance. Holly's music fits this image well; even the
songs about lost love are upbeat.
- David Holmes - this films crap lets slash the seats - 7/28/2008
- "No Mans Land" is a phenomenal opening track, creating a sense of alienation
with the everyday world. The next three tracks are repetitive to the point of
annoyance, but then the album calms down into lush soundscapes. The bonus disc
is mostly remixes of "Gone," the second-best track on the main disc.
- David Holmes - Bow Down to the Exit Sign - 7/1/2008
- I got interested in David Holmes because of his appearance on the Π
soundtrack with a very lush electronic track. This album is a significantly
different sort, feeling more like a rock band playing with electronic elements
than the other way around. Several tracks would fit in with Garbage.
- John Lee Hooker - The Best of John Lee Hooker - 7/29/2008
- John Lee Hooker has a very quintessential modern blues sound. His voice is
just right, his guitar is just right, his rhythm is just right, his songs have
the right elements.
- Bruce Hornsby and The Range - The Way It Is - 7/29/2008
- I can almost visualise music videos with these songs providing background
for a camera sweeping across western mountain vistas. There's a very 1980s
feel to the instrumentation that detracts in many cases from the songs.
- Bruce Hornsby and The Range - A Night On The Town - 7/29/2008
- The piano and guitars blend well together for some good songs. The title
track and "Another Day" are both good, most of the rest don't especially stand
- Bruce Hornsby - Hot House - 7/29/2008
- Every song on this album is great with sing-alongable lyrics. "White
Wheeled Limousine" is my favorite, but I can't help but bounce around listening
to any of them.
- Bruce Hornsby - Spirit Trail - 7/29/2008
- This double album has a lot of rockin' songs including drums very well
suited to Hornsby's piano playing. I like "Sneaking Up on Boo Radley;" "Shadow
Hand" has some bouzouki riffs that sound almost like an autoharp. "Sunflower
Cat (Some Dour Cat) (Down With That)" is an interesting concept, but the
repeated rhythm sample from "China Cat Sunflower" is a little heavy-handed.
- Bruce Hornsby - Big Swing Face - 7/29/2008
- This album sounds a bit like Hornsby trying out hip-hop, though without the
heavy bass and manufactured sounds. In the end, it sounds a lot like his other
work in the last ten years without particularly standing out. Coupled with the
fact that my "promotional use only" copy has hacked track listings to prevent
play by computers, I don't desire to listen to this one very often.
- Bruce Hornsby - Halcyon Days - 7/29/2008
- This album has a faint sense of artificial, but just enough to keep things
interesting. "Gonna Be Some Changes Made" is a great song while "Hooray For
Tom" and "Mirror On The Wall" have some neat elements.
- Bruce Hornsby - Harbor Lights - 2/13/2009
- Hornsby's first "solo" album is very groovy with good bass lines,
well-paced drums, and swingin' piano and vocals. None of the songs stand
out above the others, but it's a fun listen all the way through.
- Hot Tuna - The Phosphorescent Rat - 7/29/2008
- This album is quite a departure from the duo's earlier work inspired by
Rev. Gary Davis. There's still a hint of blues, but it's a tint on a much more
psychedelic sound. "Corners Without Exits" is one of many fabulous songs.
- Hot Tuna - Burgers - 2/13/2009
- The sonic gulf between electric and acoustic Hot Tuna is wide, and both
are enjoyable in their own way. This album features some swell rock guitar
work and good lyrics, though I'm not a big fan of the electric fiddle's role.
"Sea Child" and "Water Song" are interesting examples of their early melodies
dancing with new electric partners.
- Son House - Delta Blues - 7/30/2008
- Lots of music evokes thoughts of a particular place, but no music evokes
such a specific sense of both time and place as delta blues. It's as if the
listener has stepped through a time warp and landed on a hot porch in
Mississippi while House plays familiar-yet-distant songs like "The Jinx Blues,"
"Am I Right or Wrong," and "Shetland Pony Blues."
- Howlin' Wolf - His Best - 7/30/2008
- This compilation from the CHess 50th Anniversary Collection has all the
Howlin' Wolf songs any music lover must have in his collection. The recording
quality is good, bringing the wolf's spooky howls and simple electric guitar
rhythms to your living floor.
- Mississippi John Hurt - The Best of Mississippi John Hurt - 7/30/2008
- Hurt's voice doesn't have the stereotypical gravel or spook quality of the
old blues guys and his guitar playing doesn't match the newer style, yet his
renditions of traditional and original songs have the clarity and essential
feel of "difinitive versions." The cover says it's two albums in one; the first
half feels studio and the other half is clearly live. But it provide any
details of the source albums. Note that there may be other "Best of" albums.
- Mississippi John Hurt - Last Sessions - 1/30/2009
- I love the beauty of Hurt's folk blues. The subtleties in his voice and the
squeak of guitar strings transports the listener to a place with no
distractions, just a mild man singing great songs. "You've Got To Die" and
"Goodnight Irene" make a poignant end.
- Mississippi John Hurt - Today! - 2/13/2009
- Contrary to prototypical blues, Hurt's songs feel like simple stories
from everyday country life. Some things are good, others bad, but nothing
is melodramatic. "Talking Casey Jones" and others sound almost like Hurt
is playing two guitars at once. "Coffee Blues" is a great song even for
- Gentle Persuasion - Sonds and Songs of the Humpback Whales - 7/30/2008
- I can't tell if this is the same whale sound repeated for 59 minutes or
several similar whale sounds strung together. It might be useful as background
sound to aid in falling asleep, but not particularly interesting to listen to
for its own sake. I wonder if the next logical step is Humpback Whales (Techno
- Industrial Monk - Prophecies - 7/31/2008
- This is almost the ultimate gothic album: bass and soprano singers giving
spacy voice to Latin prayers and keyboards, electric guitars, and drum machines
providing a dark ambiance. The album works pretty well, and while it doesn't
add much to the world of melodies, it sets a mood beautifully.
- Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog - 1/30/2009
- Production tricks and odd vocal ranges are used very well in an album that
is both calming and intriguing. I really dug both "White Tooth Man" and "Boy
With A Coin."
- Gregory Isaacs - More Gregory - 7/21/2008
- One of my three favorite reggae artists, Isaacs has a voice that's both
oddly high and calmingly sweet. The backbeats are simple, the love songs are
so cute it seems hard to believe he doesn't get the girl.
- James - Laid - 7/31/2008
- The band creates a lot of soft and sweet melodies, but the strength lies
in singer Tim Booth's sparkling vocals. "Laid," "One of the Three," and "Out to
Get You" have particularly good lyrics and the whole album is consistently
tasty like honey. The album cover with everyone in a dress eating a banana is
pretty tasty too.
- James - Gold Mother - 7/31/2008
- The CD I own is actually self-titled and says "This Compilation © 1991
Phonogram Ltd.," but it has all the same songs in approximately the same order
as the re-release of Gold Mother. Strong guitar work drives lyrics with a
political flavor, but often without a clear political point. Most of the
songs are good for singing along.
- Jane's Addiction - Strays - 8/1/2008
- Although some of the band's edginess is missing from their first album after
neraly a decade, it's still a fun listen. Their current sound has definitely
been influenced by the intervening time and they don't stray far from the
tone they set out, but it works well with Farrell's vocals.
- Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings - 8/1/2008
- In the story of modern music, it's hard to find a figure with a higher
legend to catalog size than Robert Johnson. The hour and three quarters in
this compilation contains everything Johnson recorded, including alternate
takes of many songs. These come after the released versions and can get a
little tedious, though they often seem like another verse. True to their
78 roots, listening to these songs may be best in a radio format, mixed
other music. The blues legend has a distinct and unusual flavor which is
best savored a little at a time.
- Janis Joplin - Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits - 8/1/2008
- Ten tracks highlighting one of the most soulful voices of the 60s. This
LP-length compilation was first released in 1973, so there are probably more
extensive "best of" releases, but all of the songs on here are good, including
a live "Ball And Chain" in which Janis talks for a few minutes about love
- Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn & Party - The Last Prophet - 8/4/2008
- It can be hard for a listener accustomed to European and American music to
dive in to Indian and Pakistani music. To the new initiate, this sounds like
an hour of wailing with a tabla beat and accordion-like sounds. To the listener
with a little experience it sounds like really good wailing.
- Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn & Michael Brook - Night Song - 3/30/2009
- A fantastic mix of traditional qawwali singing and contemporary
instrumentation from east and west. The musicians do a great job of creating
the right undercurrents to take enjoyment of Nusrat's voice to a new level.
Of his music I've heard, this is definitely the one to start with.
- Kan'Nal - Kan'Nal - 8/4/2008
- Kan'Nal's first album has a very soft spiritual sound. The electric guitar
makes only occasionaly appearances and several of the tracks are more meditative
than rockin' (particularly the 13-minute "Palenque Rain Song" which is rainfall
with occasional meditation bowl strikes). I particularly like "Kodoish" and
"Spacechild" and can be found chanting some of the refrains and noises from
several parts of the album. Half of the songs on the album also appear on later
Kan'Nal albums with different instrumentation.
- Kan'Nal - Dreamwalker - 8/4/2008
- The group's second album contains several repeat songs from the first, but
with augmented instrumentation with electrics and a stronger drum emphasis.
"Desert Flower," "Sun and Moon," and others give this album a very primal
feeling. Over a third of the album is live tracks, demonstrating that the
group is most comfortable on stage with a full production.
- Kan'Nal - Myth Magic - 8/4/2008
- This album is very well done, with excellent guitar work, strong drumming,
thoughtful lyrics, and good pacing. "Rain Gods" and "Mama's Babies" show
several of these qualities and the poem at the end of "Dragonfly" is groovy.
- B.B. King - Why I Sing The Blues - 8/4/2008
- Most of the songs on here are supurb mixes of guitar, voice, and lyric.
You can just slide into King's blues and feel good about feeling bad. This is
one of the first CDs I owned, but for some reason I haven't acquired any more
B.B. King albums. Maybe there'll be a good boxed set at some point.
- KiTTiE - SPiT - 8/5/2008
- Four Canadian high school girls who play heavy metal. What's not to like?
Well, the heavy metal part, I suppose -- it's pretty thick. "BRaCKiSH" has
some interesting metal vocal technique while "PaPeRDoLL" has good lyrics and
a less distorted sound. Apparently the band is still together, but I'm not
surprised that each album has sold fewer copies than the previous. The "Is that
four teenage girls playing death metal?" novelty isn't a factor any more.
- The Klezmatics - Rhythm and Jews - 3/31/2009
- Good traditional Jewish music. From the title I was hoping for something a
little more ironic, but I'm glad to have some straight klezmer in my collection.
The tunes alternate between fast and slow, which isn't ideal for dancing around
but could be very effective in a mix CD.
- Leo Kottke - A Shout Toward Noon - 8/5/2008
- This album is a bit uneven. I really liked "Little Beaver" and "A Trout
Toward Noon" at the beginning and "Air Proofing Two," but tunes like "Three
Quarter North" have really distracting synthesizer and others are not great
with just guitar.
- Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity - 8/5/2008
- This album is more spacey and a little more focused than most of the group's
other albums. The title track is phenomenal, "Antenna" is pretty groovy. This
album feels like it's a lot longer than 38 minutes.
- Kraftwerk - Minimum-Maximum - 8/5/2008
- Three decades after some dorky Germans synthesized a new form of music,
their live performance shows some of the sensibilities of their progeny.
More advanced audio technology provide a smoother ride through some expansive
versions of old songs while still keeping the great dorky flavor.
- Various Artists - 8-Bit operators - 8/5/2008
- I can think of no better cover album concept than the music of Kraftwerk
played on hacked 8-bit video game systems. Covers by Bacalao, Glomag, David E.
Sugar, 8-Bit Weapon, and gwEm and Counter Reset are all pretty sweet. Some of
the others are rather fuzzy in an Aphex Twin sort of way which isn't really my
- Kutandara - Who Will I Dance With? - 10/22/2008
- This marimba band sounds prototypically south African. Perhaps I get that
sense because they're local so probably get a fair amount of play on KGNU. Even
though many of the songs sound like each other, it's a good fun sound.
- Lamb - between Darkness and Wonder - 8/11/2008
- A woman sings softly and sweetly with a variety of electronic and acoustic
backing. While the instrumentation is carefully matched to Lou's vocals,
sometimes it feels a little busy and overproduced. Tracks "stronger" and "sun"
- Morten Gunnar Larsen - Charleston Rag - 8/11/2008
- This CD contains the first two LPs created by Larsen, the contemporary
Norwegian master of early ragtime and jazz. Composers Scott Joplin, James
Scott, Jelly Roll Morton, and Eubie Blake make multiple appearances. Though
I've listened to a lot of ragtime, I don't have a great ear for evaluating its
quality, but everything sounds good. I particularly liked "Caprice Rag,"
"Solace - A Mexican Serenade," "Don't You Leave Me Here," and "Charleston Rag."
- Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II - 8/11/2008
- A lot of songs on this album don't seem to be in perennial rotation on
dormitory stereos and commercial radio. They still had a bit of a blues feel
and hadn't yet launched into wailing epic mode; the album fits into the solid
classic rock mode without standing out exceptionally far.
- Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV - 8/11/2008
- This is the quintessential Zeppelin album. In addition to the epic
"Stairway to Heaven," it's got fantasy references, a sweet lost-love song,
and hard-driving rock.
- Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy - 8/11/2008
- "No Quarter" is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs and it fits well with the
other introspective songs on the album.
- Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin Disc Two (from a boxed set) - 8/12/2008
- This CD was in the used bin without its brethren, so I can't speak to
the overall quality of the set, but this disc is well-ordered. "Tangerine"
followed by "Going To California" is a is a great pairing of sweet.
- Jimmy Page & Robert Plant - No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded - 8/11/2008
- If I had to pick just one Led Zeppelin album to own, it would be this one.
Page uses guitars with a significantly different sound than the tracks classic
rock radio plays all day and several songs have additional players to add a
Middle Eastern flavor. "Kashmir" is a fantastic version of the song.
- The Lillingtons - Death by Television - 8/12/2008
- I bought this album because of the cover which is reminiscent of a 1950s
sci-fi/horror movie cover. I lucked out, because it's a CD of great punk songs
about geeky teenage subjects like Superman, robots, and aliens. There's not
much variance in the music, but it's high energy.
- Little Richard - Essential Little Richard - 1/12/2009
- I don't know if the kids these days know about Little Richard, but few
performers in the last fifty years have matched his intensity and booty-shake
inducing style. From an era of singles and a single difinitive style, this
compilation doesn't suffer any odd transitions and contains well-known hits and
songs I hadn't heard before.
- Various Artists - Love is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 - 10/22/2008
- Four CDs and a gorgeous 120-page book document an impressive number of bands
from the height of the San Francisco music scene. Only a few tracks are easy
to encounter, and Rhino chose less-widespread versions of many of them. I'd
nevery heard of any of the bands on the "Suburbia" disc, and probably for good
reason. But this was put together by master compilers and is both fun and
educational to listen to and read.
- Luminescent Orchestrii - Too Hot to Sleep - 8/1/2008
- This fiesty group stirs up an eastern European, klezmer, and odd original
mix with three violins, a guitarron, a resophonic guitar, and some other quirks.
Their percussive string style is quite interesting. "She's a Brick" and the
title track answer the question "What would happen if a string band dabbled in
hip-hop?" "Tea" is a song that's meant to be shared.
- The Mamas & The Papas - 16 Of Their Greatest Hits - 8/12/2008
- This album has quintessential San Francisco hippie songs like "Monday,
Monday" and "California Dreamin'." It's also got some songs I'm familiar with
from other artists and others I haven't heard before. The group's vocal harmony
is very pretty.
- Maria de Barros - Nha Mundo: Music of Cabo Verde - 1/12/2010
- With a beautiful voice and a mix of pensive and danceable songs, this is
what I expected from a Cape Verdean album. It's an enjoyable, though not large,
step from Cesaria Evora.
- Bob Marley and The Wailers - The Best of The Early Years - 8/12/2008
- This is a sparer reggae than the one in popular consciousness which
accompanies a marijuana-themed Marley poster in a dorm room. I'd encountered
some of these songs elsewhere like "Soul Shakedown Party" and "Mr. Brown," but
others like "Dreamland" are novel and wonderful.
- Bob Marley and The Wailers - Rasta Revolution - 8/12/2008
- This early compilation by a British label starts with a spooky "Mr. Brown"
and contains 12 other simple songs. It's good to hear the old grooves shining
- Bob Marley and The Wailers - Exodus - 8/12/2008
- This album is perhaps the gold standard of roots reggae. "Exodus,"
"Jamming," "Natural Mystic," and others are classics of lyric and groove.
- Bob Marley and The Wailers - Trenchtown Rock (Anthology '59 - '78) - 2/2/2009
- Though the years for this anthology span some of Marley's best-known reggae
hits, only a few tracks on Disc 2 will be familiar to folks whose knowledge goes
as far as Legend and radio play. The mix austerity for many of these songs
greatly aids their soulful character. I commend those in charge of Wailers
compilations for covering different territory with each release.
- Massive Attack - Blue Lines - 8/12/2008
- The first album by the seminal trip-hop collective is full of groovy songs
with great lyrics. The music is somewhat minimal -- their later work features
a lot of great instrumental sections -- but that lets the power of the words
and voice do their work.
- MC 900 Ft Jesus with DJ Zero - Hell With The Lid Off - 8/13/2008
- A lot of the tracks get very repetitive with sampled drum beats and other
sounds. Some of the songs are pretty good, including "Truth is Out of Style"
and some of the repetitive grooves are worthwhile.
- MC 900 Ft Jesus - One Step Ahead of the Spider - 8/13/2008
- A lot of the music on this album is cool and spacey, particularly "Buried
at Sea." The song "If I Only Had a Brain" and the narrative on "New Year's
Eve" are kind of annoying, though.
- Loreena McKennitt - Elemental - 8/13/2008
- Famed for incorporating a lot of cosmopolitan elements into her
celtic-themed music, McKennitt's first album is distinctly spare, featuring
primarily her voice and harp. This does a great job of evoking images of a fair
lass on the heath singing into the wind, but it also has an air of old-fashioned
- Loreena McKennitt - To Drive the Cold Winter Away - 8/13/2008
- Melodious harp, breathy voice, and refrains from Christmas carols bring a
sense of late December. To my mind, music from warm climes would do a better
job of putting snow out of mind, but this is a pleasant album to play while
drinking hot cider and chatting with friends.
- Loreena McKennitt - The Mask and Mirror - 8/13/2008
- McKennitt wonderfully combines music and themes from Celtic and Middle
Eastern traditions, weaving a mystic journey from Marakesh to a deserted island.
While many of the songs stay in the Western European musical mode, they're
fuller than her earlier works, engulfing the listener in the mood.
- Loreena McKennitt - The Book of Secrets - 8/14/2008
- This album is pure beauty. Loreena's melodious vocals, string sections,
strummed string instruments, drones, doumbeks and tablas all swirl together for
a fantastic passage through the lands visited by the Celts, recreated by the
- Bobby McFerrin - Spontaneous Inventions - 8/14/2008
- Eleven songs featuring the mostly-solo master of simultaneous lead and
percussion. The duet with Robin Williams doing a gospel style improvisation
about shopping in "Beverly Hills Blues" is hillarious. Other songs are familiar
(including "Another Night in Tunesia" and "From Me To You"), but with a very
- Bobby McFerrin - Circlesongs - 8/14/2008
- An acapella album with no words, this is one of my favorite works of music.
McFerrin and friends form multi-part harmonies with syllables which are not
words but are so good I like to sing along; I've sung the baseline to the first
song solo.. This album is a mood enhancer: when I'm in the mood to work, it
keeps me working. When I'm in the mood to relax, it keeps me blissed out.
- Bobby McFerrin - Beyond Words - 8/14/2008
- 16 songs without words, accompanied by piano and other soft instruments.
I like wordless song, but none of these particularly stood out. They aren't
nearly as energetic as Circlesongs.
- Meat Beat Manifesto - R U O K - 9/30/2008
- An interesting mix of chill-out background and sharp foreground, combining
both natural and artificial sounds. The album does a reasonable job helping the
listener find a zone. The included miniature single "free piece suite" is
rather artificial and blippy.
- Meat Beat Manifesto - Actual Sounds + Voices - 12/3/2008
- A rich soundscape with elements as the title suggests. While the tracks are
fairly intellectual electronica, most are quite listenable. Favorites include
"The Tweek," "Acid Again," and "Hail to the Bopp."
- Meat Beat Manifesto - 99% - 1/12/2010
- Glitchy while still groovy, with screaming that's not imposing. This early
electronica album is surprisingly still quite enjoyable.
- John Medeski, Billy Martin & Chris Wood - Notes From The Underground - 8/14/2008
- I got into MMW because I liked the groovy electric organ style. Their
first album is all acoustic and in a more traditional experimental jazz mode
than what I usually listen to, but it's still quite groovy. "Querencia" is
thirteen minutes of boppin' enjoyment.
- Medeski Martin and Wood - Shack-man - 8/15/2008
- I don't think it's possible to not enjoy "Bubblehouse," the totally rockin'
funky organ spectacular. "Think" and "Lifeblood" are also great for grooving
in your seat and the closer "Kenny" is a nice slow piece.
- Medeski Martin & Wood - Combustication - 8/15/2008
- John Medeski matches squeaky organ playing to guest DJ Logic's squeaky
turntable spinning. There's plenty of cowbell and bass grooves to go around.
"Whatever Happened to Gus" is a fun story and several other tracks would serve
well as bases for spoken word pieces. The secret track on "Hypnotized" is a
bit of a crashing improvisatoin that straightens out in interesting ways.
- Medeski Martin & Wood - Combustication Remix EP - 8/15/2008
- I bought this in a different CD case and listened to it a few times before I
realized it was a remix of songs on Combustication. It's worth listeneing to
on its own or after the parent album. The grooves are strong, but different
enough to avoid boring.
- Medeski Martin & Wood - Tonic - 8/15/2008
- A live acoustic album with lots of experimental jazz. This doesn't have the
groovy electric organ I love from MMW and sometimes it gets a little far out
(e.g., "Rise Up"), but it's got some fun sections too ("Buster Rides Again").
- Medeski Martin and Wood - The Dropper - 12/2/2008
- Definitely on the experimental side, this album is also very listenable,
though not particularly danceable. Elements like cuícu, spacy
notes, and odd key sequences give the album a lot of neat layers.
"Big Time" and "Note Bleu" are pretty accessible.
- Medeski Martin and Wood - Farmer's Reserve - 2/13/2009
- A very experimental album with all sorts of fun percussion instruments,
a toy piano, and noises worthy of a 1950s sci-fi movie. It's not a danceable
album, but I enjoyed it a lot more than a lot of other free jazz I've heard.
- Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood - Out Louder - 7/1/2008
- John Scofield's guitars are a sometimes subtle sometimes obvious addition
to the perennial trio. This album didn't have any tracks that stood out as
being totally awesome (the way "Bubblehouse" and others do), but "Down the Tube"
is a long groovy number.
- John Scofield - A Go Go - 4/1/2009
- Though technically a solo album, Scofield works with Medeski, Martin, and
Wood on all the tracks. Though it's a guitar-focused album, MMW add their
magic in big doses. "Chank" is my favorite number.
- The Meters - The Very Best of the Meters - 8/15/2008
- This album is such a funky New Orleans sound. "Cissy Strut" has the
quintessential funk groove. "Tippi-Toes" sounds like Les Claypool jamming
with a keyboardist. "Hey Pocky A-Way," "Fire on the Bayou," and "They All
Ask'd for You" are great classic songs.
- Steve Miller Band - Living in the 20th Century - 8/18/2008
- This album is a bit more subdued than the band's stadium rock heights of
the 1970s. "Maelstrom" is an awesome instrumental and the second side is covers
of songs by Jimmy Reed and others.
- Steve Miller Band - the BEST of 1968-1973 - 8/18/2008
- This compilation has a lot of great songs from sing-alongs like "My Dark
Hour" and "Quicksilver Girl" to introspective tunes like "Song For Our
Ancestors," this is a fun disc to have.
- Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits 1974-78 - 8/18/2008
- This was a span of time for rocking out. Even though the guitars seem so
simple, the music is so much fun. I've brought up the chorus of many songs on
this compilation in amusing social moments.
- Moby - Everything Is Wrong - 8/18/2008
- Moby can change sound and even genre at the drop of a hat, but this album
stays mostly consistent. It's a spacy chill sound from "Hymn" to "Into the
Blue" to "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters." Relax and listen.
- Moby - Rare: The Collected B-Sides 1989-1993 - 8/18/2008
- There are some good tracks here like "Time's Up [Dust Mix]," but also some
repetitive stuff that's not very interesting to listen to. Apparently
"Thousand" set a record as world's fastest recorded song; it's very annoying.
The bonus disc "Go: The Collected Mixes" is essentially the same set of beats
and vocal bits for over an hour, but it's actually not bad. It's got a very
subdued thump-thump sound and enough variation in remixes to keep things new.
- Les moines d'Hautecombe chantent - Notre Dame - 7/21/2008
- This Gregorian chant album features a few organ interludes, which adds to
the being-in-a-cathedral feeling. The singing doesn't grab me as much as my
other Gregorian recordings, though.
- Momus - The Ultraconformist - 8/19/2008
- Ten amusing songs with soft accompaniment. "The Mother-In-Law" is
particularly fun among the silly selections.
- Momus - the philosophy of momus - 8/19/2008
- The album starts with a bad bluesy song "toothbrushead" and then an amusing
dub song "the madness of lee scratch perry." The rest of the album is mostly
Momus softly singing odd, ironic, or amusing lyrics set to drum sequences and
keyboards. "girlish boy," "virtual valerie," and others are good.
- The Monks of St. Francis D'Assisi - The Gregorian Chants Gold Collection - 7/21/2008
- The songs are all consistent in tone, providing a good metitative
- Monty Python - The final rip off - 8/19/2008
- Monty Python have very verbal humor, so many of their sketches are just as
hillarious without visuals as they are on the screen (though I think "Cocktail
Bar" doesn't make it well). The casual fan can experience many of their most
famous sketches in a short listen. Several bits play on the assumption the
album is on a record player, but the sudden scratch noises are abstractly
amusing for CD listeners.
- The Motet - Instrumental Dissent - 8/19/2008
- This is a very groovy album, with tight coordination between all the
musicians. The only words are samples of noted left-wing speakers on the title
track and "Music is the Weapon" which incorporate them well. Even if one
doesn't espouse the views of the speaker, the album is still worth a listen.
- Moxy Früvous - Thornhill - 8/19/2008
- The band's last unified album is less silly than their notable early songs.
The vocals work very well on several of the folky songs including "Splatter
Splatter," "Independence Day, "and "My Poor Generation."
- Mucis - Music - 8/20/2008
- This is a vibrant album of funky jazz. It's a shame the band's no longer
together, as I'd love to see a live show. "Sunflower Girl," "Sometime
Yesterday," and "As It Turns Out" are all great groovy songs.
- Various Artists - Music for the Mozart Effect - 8/20/2008
- I have a general rule to be suspicious of any book which puts "Dr." before
the author's name. This rule should extend to CDs which say "Studies have shown
Mozart can raise IQ by focusing attention, enhance creativity by activating the
"right brain..."" The study they refer to involves listening to a segment of
Mozart prior to taking a standard psychology test. I use music to focus and
activate brain powers by listening to it while I work and notice a stronger
focus result from the "Alice in Chains effect." Even if Mozart specifically is
productive listening material, I'd recommend getting an album organized around
musical principles (e.g., a particular performance group), as I don't believe
this CD was built by exhaustively testing the effect of Mozart's life work and
selecting the most effective pieces.
- Various Artists - Music, Man & Nature: Wind's 10th Anniversary - 8/20/2008
- This compilation comes in sections "Wind's Contemporary Collections,"
"Chinese New Age Music," "Traditional Chinese (Instrumental) Music," "Chinese
Health Music," "Chinese Religious Music," and "Ethnic Music." It's not
particularly easy, nor perhaps important, to tell them apart. Some of it sounds
nice, but not very special. This would probably work well as background music.
- Muslimgauze - Arab Quarter - 1/21/2010
- An interesting mix of folks speaking, singing, and yelling in Arabic with
Arabian percussion and electronic elements. The remix disc, "Eleven Minarets"
is very repetitive, has fewer organic sounds, and is much less soothing.
- μ-ziq - royal astronomy - 8/20/2008
- This album maintains a light-weight experimental electronic feel while being
quite accessible to a casual listener. The opening track "scaling" is such a
catchy electronic string number that a local NPR station uses it as regular
transition music. The melody continues into the funky "the hwicci song" and
elements persist through "carpet muncher" and several other great trakcs.
- μ-ziq - Bluff Limbo - 8/20/2008
- Two discs of sometimes-spacy sometimes-experimental electronica. Individual
tracks aren't as striking as some of the later work, but it's good for
semi-attention. "Organic Tomato Yoghurt" does a good job with what I always
thought would be interesting: intentional CD skipping sounds.
- My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges - 3/30/2009
- The band stays in one zone for most of the album. It's a zone of fairly
heavy guitar, which starts to get old after 10 tracks or so, but then it ends
with a very groovy and calmer "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream pt.2" that lets
the listener in for a serene landing.
- Negativland - Dispepsi - 8/21/2008
- They're not allowed to print the correct name of the album, so it also
appears as Ipsdesip, PISDIESP, etc. The album mixes together snippets of Pepsi
ads, people talking about Pepsi ads and Coke/Pepsi marketing, music, and other
elements for a fair use look at a slice of American consumerism. It's blended
well so that it's pleasant to listen to while still provoking thought. "All
She Called About" goes beyond soda and "Bite Back" is good music abstracted from
the subject at hand. It's not an album to listen to every week, but it's worth
hearing once or twice.
- Aaron Neville - Warm Your Heart - 8/21/2008
- 13 sad and warming soul songs. Aaron Neville has a beautiful voice that
sweeps the listener into empathy in "Louisiana 1927," "That's the Way She
Loves," "Angola Bound," and "I Bid You Goodnight."
- Neville Brothers - Gold - 8/21/2008
- The first disc is mostly from Neville solo acts and bans containing some
Nevilles like The Meters and The Wild Tchoupitoulas. These are mostly fun
danceable numbers. The second disc has a lot of socially conscious and
beautiful songs like "Sister Rosa," "With God On Our Side" and "Let My People
Go/Get Up Stand Up."
- New Riders of the Purple Sage - The Best of New Riders of the Purple Sage - 12/2/2008
- Country music at rock speed, this album is fantastic. Half an hour of early
'70s New Riders is packed with great lyrics and danceable music. This would be
a great album to give to people who claim they like "All genres except country."
- Nóirín Ní Riain - Gregorian Chant Experience - 8/21/2008
- Ní Riain's eerie voice is well suited to the Gregorian mode. Since
the chants are typically all-male, the lone female solo gives an extra special
feeling of otherworldlyness.
- Nirvana - In Utero - 8/21/2008
- Nirvana had an impressive ability to alternate between catchy tunes with
great lyrics and explosions of senseless static and screaming. While collecting
the greats together offers more fun, it doesn't quite capture the insanity that
is Kurt Cobain.
- NOFX - 45 or 46 sONgS that weren't GOOd eNougH TO go On oUR oTHeR ReCORds - 8/22/2008
- Technically, it's 46 or 47, if you count the secret track. The title ought
to be enough warning: a lot of these songs are really lame. The music is pretty
much the same and the lyrics usually aren't much better than the song "I gotta
PEE." "PIMPS and HOokERS," "Zyclone B Bathouse," and "Pods and Gods" are at
- Gary Numan - Warriors - 8/22/2008
- Bass lines, sax interludes, goth keyboards, and sometimes-clear lyrics make
for a rather groovy album. In true pop style, there's nothing particularly
insightful or enlightening, but it's still lots of fun. The title track and
"The Iceman Comes" are probably my favorites.
- Ojos de Brujo - Barí - 4/1/2009
- Flamenco with aggressive but not aggravating female vocals, this is hot and
danceable. "Zambra" is probably my favorite track. The album ends with a
percussion explosion on "Acción Reacció Repercusió" and an
interesting track "Rememorix" that mixes flamenco with a little Kraftwerk and
- Om Trio - Live - 8/22/2008
- Groovy jammy jazz from several live appearances, not compiled in order.
About half of the tracks are part of a large improvisational piece "Tuscon Is
Burning" (performed during riots in Tuscon, AZ) interspersed between the rest
of the album and serving as an interesting baseline sound. Many of the other
tracks are 10+ minute jams and a lot of fun. I'll definitely see these guys
live if they come through town.
- The Orb - u.f.orb - 8/22/2008
- The 1992 album art looks dated these days, but the groundbreaking electronic
music still sounds fresh. There's a lot more layers and interesting sounds on
this album than in much contemporary electronica.
- The Orb - Pomme Fritz - 8/22/2008
- This album repeats a lot, but is not generally repetitive. All sorts of
noises keep things interesting. "We're Pastie To Be Grill You" has some odd
- The Orb - Orbvs Terrarvm - 8/22/2008
- The cover art and track names imply a sense of historic geographic
contemplation. While the music has a certain baroque feel, it felt more static
than my sense of geographic music. "Slvg Dvb" samples extensively from English
countryside childrens' books, but listening to it I find myself imagining
reading Beatrix Potter, not visiting the British countryside. Intentions and
personal geographic musical associations aside, this is fairly calming music.
- The Orb - Orblivion - 9/2/2008
- This album features both bouncy beats and ambient atmosphere. "Ubiquity"
and "Toxygene" are great tracks while the sampled Revelations interpretations
in "S.A.L.T." are somewhat amusing.
- The Orb - Toxygene single - 9/2/2008
- This single contains album and remix versions of "Toxygene" and "Asylum" and
a bass beat remix of "Little Fluffy Clouds." I like the originals better than
the mixes; a listener would do better with the Orblivion album and a copy of
the original "Little Fluffy Clouds."
- Roy Orbison - The Sun Years - 9/9/2008
- Any used CD store probably has multiple Orbison greatest hits albums that
all have the same mega hits like "Only The Lonely" and "Oh, Pretty Woman."
This compilation is from the beginning of Orbison's career when Rock & Roll
was a new thing, so many of the songs are a lot more rockabilly than crooner.
Well-known hits like "Ooby Dooby" and "Domino" are present, but also great
lesser-known songs like "You're My Baby."
- Orbital - Orbital + Peel Sessions - 9/9/2008
- (The first disc is also known as Orbital 2 and The Brown Album.) Orbital
starts with a fun looped sample of a discussion of time before getting into fun
bouncy soundscape tracks that are good for focus. "Halcyon + On + On" doesn't
fit with the rest of the album, but it's a good enough track that I can't think
of a situation in which I'd be disappointed to hear it. The Peel Sessions disc
has remixes of the first disc which would flow better if halcyon were skipped.
- Orbital - Blue Album - 9/9/2008
- The duo's last studio album feels similar to their early work, with ambient
melodies and a dancy beat. I really like "Lost" as an example of this style.
"Acid Pants" is mildly amusing, but they do better when words are not involved.
- William Orbit - Water From A Vine Leaf - 9/9/2008
- I'm not sure if this 33 minute compilation qualifies as a single, but it
starts with three mixes of the title track. They aren't too disjoint, though,
so it feels like a nice long ambient tune. "Fire And Mercy" is very
dance-poppy, a little out of place but fun nonetheless.
- William Orbit - Strange Cargo III - 1/20/2010
- A dozen mellow tracks. It starts strong with "Water from a Vine Leaf"
and the next two tracks, then much of the album fades to ambience (which
can be a good thing).
- Dolores O'Riordan - Are You Listening? - 1/21/2010
- Unsurprisingly, this feels like a Cranberries album in a lot of ways,
though some songs are less-rocky and more produced. There also isn't a
focal angsty song on the album, so singing along isn't as automatic.
- Our Lady Peace - Happiness... Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch - 9/2/2008
- This album lands somewhere between commercial and challenging, flopping in
an odd land. They sound to me a lot like Radiohead without the distinctive
vocals or some of the interesting riffs. "Happiness & The Fish," "Is
Anybody Home?" and "Stealing Babies" are decent songs.
- Our Lady Peace - Spiritual Machines - 12/10/2008
- Interspersed with snippets from Ray Kurzweil's book The Age of
Spiritual Machines, this again is almost interesting. It may get better
if I study the lyrics a bit.
- Pele Juju - Live! - 9/2/2008
- This all-woman band plays some rockin' jazzy funk. "Anikewa" sounds very
west African while "Happy To Be Alive" sounds positively New Orleanean. There
are some great long grooves on this album.
- Pentangle - So Early In the Spring - 9/2/2008
- I'm not keen on the instrumentation on some songs and this album isn't the
group's best work. However, "Eminstra," "Lucky Black Cat," and "Bramble Briar"
are all good songs.
- Pentangle - Light Flight: The Anthology - 9/2/2008
- This two-disc set has over two hours of great music by the fantastic
English folk band. If there's a Pentangle song one's fond of, it's probably
on this anthology. Their playing and singing are a tough act to match.
- Phish - Junta - 9/3/2008
- Some great songs stand out on this album ("Fee" and "Golgi Apparatus" among
them") but the bulk is in long meandering jams. Some of the jams are lots of
fun like "David Bowie," but the bonus tracks starting with "Union Federal" are
a bit like listening to someone ramble on with little sleep.
- Phish - Lawn Boy - 1/12/2009
- This album features some interesting experiments with tempo changes and out
of phase vocals. The songs aren't as catchy as many of the other albums, but
it's a phun listen.
- Phish - A Picture of Nectar - 9/3/2008
- Every song on this album is fun and bouncy. The lyrics are irreverent and
amusing. This is probably my favorite Phish album.
- Phish - Hoist - 9/3/2008
- This album flows really well among songs with different tempo and style.
Meanwhile, several songs are great on their own including "Sample in a Jar" and
- Phish - The Story of the Ghost - 9/3/2008
- This is a very calming album with interesting interplays between background
and foreground. It showcases the four guys' harmony quite well.
- Phish - Farmhouse - 9/3/2008
- A lot of songs stand well on their own. I particularly like the nonsense
"Gotta Jibboo," but others are quality as well. This album doesn't give a
unified feel, though.
- Phish - Round Room - 9/3/2008
- I like singing along to these songs, even though several ("Mong Song" and
"Walls of the Cave," for instance) feature multiple singers that are
intentionally not aligned with each other. Most songs on the album aren't
single style, but I often find myself wanting to listen to a particular one.
- Phish - Undermind - 9/4/2008
- This almost sounds like a different band than the guys who made the albums
full of bouncy silly songs in the 1990s. There's a lot of emphasis on harmonies
and love songs (with a nontraditional bent). I really like "Access Me" and
"Scents and Subtle Sounds."
- Astor Piazzolla - Vuelvo al Sur - 9/4/2008
- Seven live performances and a song from a film line this album by the most
reknowned tango composer. There are lots of sharp moments in these tunes,
focusing the listener's attention during otherwise calm seas. I'm not sure
if that would be distracting while dancing, but it makes good listening.
- Wilson Pickett - A Man And A Half - 9/4/2008
- This 2-disc greatest hits compilation has 44 songs including a few
duplicates in live form. A lot of great songs in this collection live in the
collective culture of the U.S., but I hadn't associated them to Pickett until
listening to this. Given Pickett's reputation for intensity, many songs feel
a little subdued, possibly due to recording technology.
- Pink Floyd - The Piper At the Gates of Dawn - 9/4/2008
- Far removed from the epic and narrative Pink Floyd albums of later years,
Syd Barrett's quirky lyrics and psychedelic musical tastes is lots of fun.
I often sing "Bike," "Chapter 24," and "Astronomy Domine" in random situations.
- Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets - 9/4/2008
- "Spooky" might best describe the music on this album. Spacy explorations
and whispered lyrics give that ephemeral sense, but some songs keep hold of the
anchor, a foot in everyday life.
- Pink Floyd - Ummagumma - 9/4/2008
- The live disc has fairly conventional versions of "Astronomy Domine" and
"Careful With That Axe, Eugene" and long and spacy versions of "Set The Controls
for the Heart of the Sun" and "A Saucerful of Secrets." The second disc has
experimental pieces composed by each of the four band members. This stuff is
on another planet from the rock spectaculars of the late 1970s, but it's a
planet with very interesting landscapes.
- Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds - 9/5/2008
- The film The Valley: Obscured By Clouds isn't great and Pink
Floyd's soundtrack isn't very prominent in it. The album version of the
soundtrack, however, has several great songs. "Childhood's End" and "Free Four"
are upbeat songs about aging and death. "When You're In" and "The Gold It's In
The..." have fun simple music. This is probably Pink Floyd's most overlooked
- Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother - 9/5/2008
- The title opus is a phenomenal work of sweeping music with symphonic
sensibilities but without the trainwreck of "symphonic rock." The middle three
tracks are pleasant in or out of the album's context. "Alan's Psychedelic
Breakfast" is long and weird, worth listening to a few times but not durable
like the title track.
- Pink Floyd - Meddle - 9/5/2008
- Meddle is the bridge between Pink Floyd's early work of long spacey pieces
mixed with simple songs and their years of studio precision and signature rock
songs. "One Of These Days" does an excellent job of ramping up energy and
"Echoes" is 23 minutes of beautiful. "San Tropez" and "Seamus" feel out of
place, the echoes of 1960s Floyd.
- Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon - 9/5/2008
- I listened to this album on repeat almost every night for about a year.
When I play it now, I still love every note. I love the stereo effects on
"Running," I love the chord progression on "Any Colour You Like," I love the
lyrics on "Time." This changed my outlook.
- Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - 9/5/2008
- Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a wonderful exploratory homage. The three
normal-length songs are all great. This is a cagey concept album.
- Pink Floyd - Animals - 9/8/2008
- "Dogs," "Pigs (Three Different Ones)," and "Sheep" have some of Floyd's
best rock basslines and riffs in radio-format-busting length. The imagery in
the lyrics (and its interplay with the famous flying pig) is worth exploring
in the light of an image I saw declaring the album about types of people.
- Pink Floyd - The Wall - 9/8/2008
- In my mind, this is the best rock opera. The album is both a set of good
songs and a single long song. Its power comes from being personal, a much more
direct Pink Floyd than their spacey songs and subtle metaphors.
- Pink Floyd - The Final Cut - 9/8/2008
- With some of Waters's most direct lyrics, this album takes world leaders
of the early 1980s to task for a warlike mindset. The best parts are the songs
from the point of view of individuals affected by war: "The Gunners Dream,"
"Paranoid Eyes," and "The Final Cut."
- Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse of Reason - 9/8/2008
- For all Roger Waters's songwriting prowess, I connect most personally with
the Pink Floyd albums David Gilmour did. Maybe it's because I'm not from a
military family or maybe it's because I bought this album when its lyrics and
mood well matched my emotions, but this is my favorite Floyd album to
- Pink Floyd - The Division Bell - 9/8/2008
- It's a long way from the Piper to the Bell, but it's an interesting
evolution to hear. The Division Bell focuses on communication while maintaining
classic Floyd elusiveness; the
Publius Enigma is
still unsolved. Were it any other band, "Keep Talking" would probably be my
favorite song in their catalog, but for Pink Floyd I have to award the
distinction based on mood.
- Pink Floyd - Works - 9/8/2008
- On the surface, Pink Floyd's early singles and "Grooving With A Pict" are an
odd complement to songs from Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, and Saucerful of
Secrets. But aside from "Arnold Layne" between two tracks from Meddle, the
album flows pretty well. The starts and ends of some songs differ from their
original album, but not enough to justify the purchase of this album. "Free
Four" and "Embryo" are two great tunes that many casual Floyd fans don't have.
- David Palmer and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Music of Pink Floyd Orchestral Maneuvers - 9/9/2008
- Electric guitar and drum kit are present in most of these maneuvers, making
them a lame hybrid of rock and symphony. Had Pink Floyd felt The Wall and
Dark Side of the Moon would be improved by more horns and strings, I'm sure they
would have added them, accompanied by better guitar playing than this album.
"Hey You" is the least lame selection.
- The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Peter Scholes - Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd - 9/9/2008
- This is probably the only album of symphonic rock covers I own with any
redeeming musical value. There's no guitar, no snare drum, and no slavish
devotion to precise recreation. The tracks (all taken from Dark Side of the
Moon and The Wall) are all recognizeable, but if you don't focus on matching
lyrics to string swells, they're just music. Themes well-suited for an
orchestra are repeated, making several tracks longer than the original song.
The album starts with "Time" and ends with "Time (The Old Tree With Winding
Roots Behind The Lake Of Dreams Mix)," but the intervening hour has been so
relaxing that it feels like a return to a theme rather than a repitition to
- Robert Plant - Fate of Nations - 9/10/2008
- Plant's voice is as clear and intriguing as ever, but the music isn't very
exciting. The general message is one of concern for the world, but I'd want to
listem more if the guitars were toned down.
- The Platters - Greatest Hits - 9/10/2008
- I've encountered "The Great Pretender" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" several
times elsewhere, but the other tracks are new to me; they sound more or less
like the well known two. They're probably better mixed with other music of
similar vintage than all on their own.
- Pop Will Eat Itself - Now For A Feast - 9/10/2008
- I bought this album because I loved their later album Dos Dedos Mis Amigos.
This album, however, doesn't have the varied influences of their later work.
It has a very working class British rock sound with added distortion. The
lyrics seem kind of catchy, but they don't come through clear enough.
- Pop Will Eat Itself - The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure for Sanity - 3/30/2009
- A great mix of electronic and rock from the early 1990s. Both versions of
"X Y & Zee" are great fun. Some songs have good lyrics, though not
generally as good as Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. They've all got a great sound with
power and substance.
- Primus - Pork Soda - 9/10/2008
- These songs are varied, weird and fun. "Mr. Krinkle" sounds like Les
Claypool is playing a pig with a bow. The album has a redneck feel but is easy
for a city boy to like.
- Primus - Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People - 9/10/2008
- Packaged with a DVD of all their music videos (which any rock fan should
watch), the CD contains five new Primus songs; some are long, leading to 28
minutes of total music with insightful lyrics. I was particularly amused by
"Mary the Ice Cube."
- Prince and the New Power Generation - Love Symbol - 9/10/2008
- (Technically, the album's title is Prince's notorious unpronounceable
symbol.) My main complaint with this album is its failure to indicate "Sexy
M.F." is edited to replace "fucker" with a high-pitched wail which doesn't match
the envelope of the song. Where's the sticker saying "Adult Warning: Censored
Lyrics?" The album's got some good songs, including "7" and the over-the-top
"3 Chains O' Gold," but a lot of them feel derivative.
- Prince - Planet Earth - 1/20/2010
- The rockesque songs are pretty fun, particularly "Chelsea Rodgers."
The R&Besque songs fail to be particularly sexy or interesting.
The CD presentation is pretty cool, though.
- Procol Harum - The First Four - 7/1/2008
- A 2-disc collection of the band's first four albums, "Procol Harum,"
"Shine On Brightly," "A Salty Dog," and "Home." Though I hadn't heard any of
their music before buying this album (at Douglas Adams's recommendation), it
sounds strikingly familiar. I don't know how much of their sound is a
reflection of the ambient sound of the late 1960s and how much of the ambient
sound of the late 1960s is a reflection of Procol Harum. They also activate
strains from later work like Jethro Tull and early King Crimson. Their
instruments can all be heard distinctly, but they are masterfully blended,
particularly the play between piano and organ.
- Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama Vol-2 - 9/11/2008
- Punk-O-Rama is a series of compilations of songs from a bunch of punk
bands for low price. On this volume, most songs are from mid-90s albums.
It doesn't have too many standouts, but "Code Blue" by T.S.O.L and "Whatever
Didi Wants" by NOFX are amusing. The best part of the compilation format
is it doesn't drag down into one band's repetitive sound.
- Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 4: Straight Outta The Pit - 9/11/2008
- 25 more decent punk songs on the fourth Epitaph compilation. "Hopeless
Romantic" by The Bouncing Souls is my favorite punk song on the album. I'm not
sure who decided "Big In Japan" by Tom Waits counted as punk, but it's an
- Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 5 - 9/11/2008
- More than usual, this compilation seems to have a similar sound across most
of the bands. My favorite tracks stand far away from that sound, with groovy
guitar and bass riffs from The (International) Noise Conspiracy ("Smash It Up")
and Refused ("Refused Are Fucking Dead (EP version)"). It's also got the great
celtpunk "Good Rats" by Dropkick Murphys.
- Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 6: 2001 - 9/11/2008
- This is my favorite Punk-O-Rama compilation. It's got great songs by
Guttermouth, Deviates, The Bouncing Souls, Bad Religion, The Business, and
others. The album art references to the movie 2001 makes me remember how few
people showed the film or made references to it when we hit the actual year.
- Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 7 - 9/11/2008
- This compilation features good songs by the usual suspects including
The (International) Noise Conspiracy, NOFX, and Bad Religion. I liked tracks
by bands I hadn't noticed before: Division Of Laura Lee ("Black City") and 98
- Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 8 - 9/12/2008
- The compilation is up to two discs now with only one artist appearing twice.
The genre boundaries are relaxed a little with a few songs which feel a little
more hard rock or heavy metal than punk. Two hip-hop songs also share the
space, but Sage Francis's "Makeshift Patriot" is a message punk fans can love.
Thanks to Punk-O-Rama, I'm going to keep my eye out for Division of Laura Lee
and The (International) Noise Conspiracy; this edition also has good songs by
Bad Religion, Matchbook Romance, and Pulley.
- Various Artists - Punk The Clock Vol. 2 - 12/10/2008
- Aparently mildly distorted guitars with high-volume emotional singing now
counts as punk. This punk-pop isn't particularly interesting, but it's okay as
background energy music.
- Putumayo Presents - Cairo to Casablanca: An Arabic Musical Odyssey - 9/30/2008
- A lot of Arabic music I have includes elecronic elements, producing a
modern world beat sound. This compilation sounds modern in style but
traditional in content. Hand percussion and strummed strings are a great
combination. Despite the title, most of the artists are Algerian, but I
suspect there's a lot of cultural flow in the desert.
- Putamayo Presents - Gypsy Groove - 9/12/2008
- A collection of Roma music mixed with electrobeats and hip hop style from
Europe and beyond. These are mixed very well, with synthetic elements sliding
seamlessly with traditional gypsy style. "Sadagora Hot Dub (Shantel Remix)" by
Amsterdam Klezmer Band and "Vino Iubirea Mea (!DelaDap Remix)" by Eastenders
are just two of the good songs to sample.
- Putamayo Presents - Arabic Groove - 9/12/2008
- It's a shame a lot of Americans have associated "Arabic" with violence and
guys who want to outlaw fun, because contemporary Arabic music is full of good
times. The traditional Arabic singing style can overlay a lot of different
grooves, allowing for expansive collaboration opportunities. I liked the tracks
by Amr Diab, Hisham Abbas, and Fadela & Sahraoui particularly.
- Putamayo Presents - Brazillian Groove - 9/12/2008
- A lot of the songs on this compilation use samba or bossa nova as elements
in a synthetic work rather than the other way around. Zuco 103's "Outro Lado"
and Carlinhos Brown's "Lagoinha" and others sound good, but in the end the
drum machines win over the classic style vocals.
- Putamayo Presents - Zydeco - 3/30/2009
- Accordions pumping, Zydeco is high-energy cultural music. The core rhythms
are similar through most songs, so it's not obvious to the casual listener that
this is a compilation.
- Putamayo Presents - Rumba Flamenco - 3/30/2009
- A compilation of one of my favorite genres. I was dancing in my seat to the
whole album, so no particular track stood out, but it's all fun.
- Ramones - Greatest Hits - 1/30/2009
- Credited with founding punk rock music, their peppy repetitive chords still
reverberate through punk a quarter century later, but their songs make me think
more of the Beach Boys. This album is in roughly chronological order and the
songs work well as singles. That the previous owner spilled soda on the case
and insert makes the album feel more authentic.
- The Red Army Choir - The Best Of The Red Army Choir: The Definitive Collection - 9/12/2008
- The Soviet Union's army engaged in many activities detrimental to humanity,
but organizing a choir was not one of them. They sing with an interesting mix
of classical European and Russian folk sound. Not knowing Russian, propaganda
songs like "The Red Army Is The Strongest" don't have an effect on my ideas,
but still sound good.
- Soviet Army Chorus & Band - Soviet Army Chorus & Band conducted by Colonel Boris Alexandrov - 9/15/2008
- This collection is full of pomp and strangeness. I'm not sure how much of
my enjoyment of "Tipperary" was from the quality of the performance versus the
amusement of a few dozen soviet army men singing an old English song. "Along
Peter's Street," "Kalinka," and "Bandura" are also good.
- Various Artists - Red Hot + Rio - 9/15/2008
- Part of a series of AIDS-awareness compilations, this one features remixes
of and tributes to the music of Brazil's Antonio Carlos Jobim. The 1960s Verve
feel pervades the album with good performances by Crystal Waters ("The Boy
From Ipanema"), David Byrne + Marisa Monte ("Waters of March"), and Gilberto
- Lou Reed - Growing Up In Public - 9/15/2008
- This autobiographical album has a lot of great songwriting. "How Do You
Speak to an Angel" speaks to an experience shared by schoolboys everywhere,
"Love Is Here To Stay" could be about any number of liberal couples while
"The Power of Positive Drinking" is an amusing stroll of poetics.
- Lou Reed - New York - 9/15/2008
- This album has a very difinitive time and place: New York in the late 1980s.
"Sick of You," "Hold On," and others have a very direct correspondence to
specific people and issus. I didn't realize the AIDS theme of the beautiful
of "Halloween Parade" until I read the liner notes and I'm not sure just who
"Last Great American Whale" is about. I guess I missed out on some subtleties
of the '80s.
- Lou Reed - Magic and Loss - 9/15/2008
- This album has a lot of imagery, but I tend to lose it in the rather boring
guitar. "What's Good" and "Power and Glory" at the beginning and "Magic and
Loss" at the end are god, as are "Sword of Damocles" and "Gassed and Stroked."
- Lou Reed - Ecstacy - 9/15/2008
- The guitars are a good mix between rhythm and buzz. The songs explore
drugs, dangerous sex, and other familiar Reed subjects. The 18-minute "Like a
Possum" stays just out of the jaws of dragging on. I also liked "Modern Dance"
and "Rock Minuet."
- Lou Reed - Legendary Lou Reed - 9/16/2008
- Three CDs of material from Reed's RCA catalog. Though the liner notes
mention Reed's lyrical focus on subcultures, most of the songs on the album are
rather safe. "Walk On The Wild Side" might be unnerving for middle america, but
they didn't include anything as extreme as "Heroin." That said, all the songs
on this compilation are worthy of inclusion. Many are quite uplifting, all are
- Various Artists - RORX: The Tenth Annual Reggae On The Rocks - 9/16/2008
- Even though I've lived in Colorado my whole life, I've never made it to
Red Rocks in late August for the big reggae festival. This compilation features
just Burning Spear, Israel Vibration, Black Uhuru, and The Skatalites, so it's
not necessarily representational of the event, but it's a decent mix of roots.
And given reggae's repetitive nature, it might be a better choice than owning
individual records with all these songs on them.
- R.E.M. - Murmur - 9/29/2008
- Coming to the group's debut album after listening to most of their other
offerings, it doesn't seem like a first effort. The sound is seamless with
other work in the '80s with solid guitar rhythms and mossy lyrics. Listening
is fun and it sounds like playing was as well.
- R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant - 9/17/2008
- This album has a very bop around feeling. It's easy to let the creative
lyrics pass by and just sing the repeating word choruses, but it can also be
deconstructed with deliberation. Note: The back cover misleads about the track
- R.E.M. - Document - 9/17/2008
- The slightly distorted guitars on this album sound very standard, but I
don't know how much of that impression is due to R.E.M.'s influence in the
last 20 years. "King of Birds" is a neat almost experimental song. I think
"It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" works so well in
part because the lyrics are often out of sync with the guitars, but perfectly
in sync with the drums.
- R.E.M. - Green - 9/17/2008
- Every song on this album is fun to sing along with (and not just the
chorus). There's not a lot to be said about the instrumentation other than it
fits nicely around Stipe's voice.
- R.E.M. - Monster - 9/17/2008
- A lot of songs have a very heavy guitar sound. It's enjoyable, but I'm glad
it's not a sound they used on many other albums. At the end of the album, I
feel ready to float away.
- R.E.M. - Reveal - 1/6/2010
- Full of string sections and production value, songs alternate between catchy
and overly schmaltzy. "Imitation of Life," "The Lifting," and "Disappear" are
all in the former category.
- R.E.M. - Around the Sun - 9/17/2008
- These songs have a gentile feel to them, but they aren't lightweight.
Keyboard parts blend in well and Michael Stipe sounds as if he's conversing with
- R.E.M. - Accelerate - 12/1/2008
- This album definitely has an accelerated pace, finishing in less than 35
minutes. I liked "Supernatural Superserious" and "Until the Day is Done," but
the hurried pace detracted from enjoying much of the music. Monster was a
better rendition of loud and distorted.
- David Thomas Roberts - American Landscapes - 9/17/2008
- I know David, and he definitely has a direct intellectual and emotional
connection between these compositions and the places and people they are
inspired by. And while I also love to stare at maps and explore terrain,
but I don't have a strong connection between my ear and the geographic
part of my brain. So pieces like "The Girl who Moved Away," "Through the
Bottomlands," and "Roberto Clemente" please me purely through sound, not
through any associations.
- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - 18 Greatest Hits - 9/24/2008
- Motown doesn't get any sweeter than Smokey Robinson. Beautiful voices and
great session players combine for songs both upbeat and calming.
- Various Artists - Rock Against Bush Vol. 1 - 9/18/2008
- It's not about "Let's be punk rock and hate the government"; it's about
"Let's be punk rock and change the government" reads the liner notes. 26 songs
by well- and lesser-known punk bands feature some that are explicitly against
Bush policies (The Offspring's "Baghdad" and Ministry's "No
for instance) and others with a broader social view (the accelerating reggae
song "Overcome (The Recapitulation)" by RX Bandits is an interesting addition
to the mix).
- Judy Roderick & the Forbears - When Im Gone - 1/30/2009
- Lovely blues with a country flavor. Judy had a great voice and a lot of
emotion comes out in timbre.
- Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Merengue & Bachata - 9/18/2008
- Simple production fills this compilation with traditional Dominican sounds.
There's a very metallic sound not found in a lot of other Latin music, giving
a feeling of something both old and new. Nelson Roig's "El Dueño De La
Noche" is my favorite song on the disc.
- Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Egypt - 9/18/2008
- A good mix of male and female vocalists with the standard drum and string
accompaniment. A few songs like Mohamed Mounir's "Sala Fi Serri We Gahri" and
Angham's "Leih Sebtaha" use some modern techniques, but most of the album has a
good timeless feel to it. Smudging unfortunately makes my copy unreliable.
- Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Yodel - 9/18/2008
- This wide-ranging compilation features sources you'd expect (Alpine
Europe and American cowboys), yodel techniques from other cultures, and some
modern songs with some yodel thrown in. The latter category includes the
Bollywood song "Main Hoon Jhoom Jhoom Jhumroo" by Kishore Kumar and "Pygmy
Divorce" by Francis Bebey, a very humorous 1970s African song. The three-part
arrangement of "Inuit Wedding" is very intriguing.
- Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand - 9/30/2008
- This compilation presents significant variety in sound. Based on this
sample, Thai pop music seems to feature a lot more ethnic music elements than
other East Asian pop music I've heard. On some songs, the voices sound
traditional on top of modern instruments, on others the relationship is
reversed. This follows the trends of modern Thailand quite well.
- Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Tango Nuevo - 9/30/2008
- A lot of artists have done a lot of different things with tango as a base.
This compilation features songs with tango violin as a base, instrumentals with
a taste of tango, and electronic constructions with tango mixed in. This might
not be the best album to put on to dance with your partner around the room, but
individual songs could be a great addition to a dance.
- Ruben Romero & Lydia Torea - Flamenco Fantasía: Tradition meets Nouveau - 1/20/2010
- A mix of modern rumba and other flamenco nuevo and some slower trad tunes.
Despite the change in tempo, the album flows well and most of it is danceable.
- Various Artists - Run Lola Run original motion picture soundtrack - 9/18/2008
- I think this was the first electronic music I bought and it's still great.
The sometimes hard, sometimes ambient music is an integral part of the film and
helps maintain focus on its own. The seven remix tracks don't feel repetitive;
I'm usually glad the music isn't over when they arrive.
- Rush - Rush - 7/1/2008
- There's nothing particularly striking about the quintessential Canadian
power trio's debut album. It's eight solid tracks, a good foundation for
three decades of rocking out.
- Rush - Fly By Night - 9/19/2008
- Simple music executed perfectly. Between "Rivendell," "By-Tor and the
Snow Dog" (about Lee and Lifeson) and "Best I Can," this feels like a high
school album. It's just getting warmed up for something complex and exciting.
- Rush - Caress of Steel - 7/1/2008
- Rush hit their stride with this album. Both long ballads ("The Necromancer"
and "The Fountain of Lamneth") are strong, though neither reach the power of
"2112." They also demonstrated their ability for awesome songs of single length
with "Lakeside Park" and "Bastille Day."
- Rush - 2112 - 9/19/2008
- The title track, a 20 minute epic in seven parts in which an electric
guitar starts a revolution in a dystopic future, is a high point of 1970s rock.
The other six songs further demonstrate rock instrument mastery and lyricial
- Rush - A Farewell To Kings - 1/12/2009
- Fantasy rock featuring the epic tour de force "Xanadu." The other epic,
"Cygnus X-1" is a little heavy for space flight. The four short songs are all
- Rush - Hemispheres - 9/19/2008
- "The Trees" is the closest thing Rush has to a folk song (a la "One Tin
Soldier") and it balances the mythic "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres." The
latter isn't engaging as many of their other epics.
- Rush - Moving Pictures - 9/19/2008
- Each song is great, but the sum of the parts is no less than the whole.
"Red barchetta" is one of rock's best songs about being a teenager while
"Witch hunt" is a groovy reminder of the darkness of censorship. The hit
singles are good too.
- Rush - Exit... Stage Left - 9/19/2008
- Aside from "Broon's Bane" leading into "The Trees" and the crowd singing
along with "Closer to the Heart," Rush live isn't very different than Rush in
the studio, so this isn't a great addition to a full collection. However, the
material comes from five different albums and melds well together, so it's a
good choice for a casual fan.
- Rush - Signals - 9/19/2008
- 25 years later, "Subdivisions" still feels contemporary in all its synthy
presence. The whole album does a good job of capturing a social moment and
making it resonate for decades.
- Rush - Grace Under Pressure - 9/22/2008
- The keyboard-based four-to-six minute song Rush is quite different than the
1970s guitar Epic Rush, but both are good. This album is able to consider the
subject of nuclear war between Soviets and Americans while still remaining fun
and upbeat. "Afterimage" and "The Body Electric" are great.
- Rush - Hold Your Fire - 9/22/2008
- On the whole, a fairly lackluster offering by the group. "Turn The Page"
sounds groovy and "Tai Shan" is a beautiful song, but the rest sounds like
average 1980s rock.
- Rush - Presto - 9/22/2008
- Presto's songs sound fairly homogenous and much like Hold Your Fire. There
are some good parts including "The Pass," "Anagram (for Mongo)", and "Red Tide,"
but the late '80s were not Rush's best period.
- Rush - Roll The Bones - 9/22/2008
- After meandering through the late '80s, Rush picked out the elements that
worked and put them to use in service of some great lyrics. There's a lot of
play between instruments and between lead and backing vocals. "Heresy" is a
great example of Peart's songwriting about current affairs.
- Rush - Counterparts - 9/22/2008
- I think this is some of Rush's best work since the mid-70s. "Leave That
Thing Alone" is their best instrumental (portions of epics aside), lyrics are
consistently insightful, music is spot on, and the album art is fun.
- Rush - Test For Echo - 9/22/2008
- Though the album features scads of great lyrics, the music feels like little
more than a platform for them. Focusing on a segment of music reveals skillful
playing, but the overall sound isn't fantastic.
- Earl Scruggs - The Essential Earl Scruggs - 9/23/2008
- 40 tracks on span the first forty years in the 60+ year career of
the world's most influential banjo player. The first disc is three songs with
Bill Monroe and 17 with Lester Flatt featuring tunes everyone should hear like
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Old Salty Dog Blues." The second disc has a
mix of selections from the sixties through the eighties including some neat
- Seven Nations - Seven Nations - 9/23/2008
- I associate Seven Nations with loud bagpipe rock because of my concert
experience, but this album is fairly calm with a lot of great fiddle, acoustic
guitar, and non-overpowering bagpipes. "O'er the Moor and Among the Heather,"
"Twelve," "Scream," and "Seeds of Life" are all great.
- Seven Nations - and now it's come to this - 9/23/2008
- This album has some good bouncy rocking songs, but the fiddle is minor in
many of them, making them not as neat as some of the band's other work.
"jump_START ☮" is an exceptional instrumental with fiddle and talking
drum front and center.
- Sha-Na-Na - Greatest Hits - 9/23/2008
- This is actually the greatest hits from a bunch of other bands in the 1950s.
Sha Na Na are (were?) a long-running 1950s rock & roll cover group and a
major source of 1950s nostalgia. Of the songs I'd heard before, none are
anywhere near as good as the originals. A few I hadn't heard sound alright
("Witch Doctor"), but there's got to be a quality cross-group compilation that
would be better than this.
- Ravi Shankar - Bridges: the best of Ravi Shankar - 9/23/2008
- A full CD of beautiful music by the sitar player best known in the west
(George Harrison doesn't count). The collection contains both medium-length
and short pieces, fast numbers and slow tunes. I should start putting "Chase"
on some mixed CDs. The tunes are all rich with many (often well-known)
- Sharon Shannon - Each little thing - 9/23/2008
- The great thing about accordions is they adapt to divergent ethnic genres.
Irish accordion sounds different than Cajun, Latin, German, or Russian
accordion. And Sharon Shannon plays a mighty fine Irish accordion. She even
stretches out a bit for "Libertango."
- Sherefe - Opium - 9/23/2008
- Seven beautiful songs and instrumentals from the Middle East and southeast
Europe. The players work very well together and create beautiful melodies
that develop slowly. "Yianni Mou To" and "Alf Leyla Wa Leyla" are my favorites.
- Nina Simone - Legendary Concert Recordings - 9/24/2008
- Nina's voice is beautiful and distinctive, flying between blues and jazz,
and she has good rapport with the crowd. A lot of these songs suceed in the
quintessential blues quality: feeling so good about feeling so bad.
- Die Singphoniker/Godehard Joppich - Passio Domini: Gregorian Chant from St. Gall II - 7/21/2008
- This two-CD album has some great stereo effects. It also features several
- Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin' On - 9/24/2008
- A lot of the songs on this album find a groove and stay in it for quite a
while. It's also got some more focused songs, including my favorite Sly number
- Sly & The Family Stone - Remember who you are - 9/24/2008
- There are a surprising number of Sly compilations with disjoint track
selections. This one has a lot of groovy songs I encounter less frequently,
probably because they're from the end of the group's career.
- Sly & The Family Stone - Star Power - 9/24/2008
- This compilation from "Direct Source Special Products Inc." doesn't have any
liner notes and doesn't appear in Wikipedia's discography. It's got a lot of
old material with a pre-James Brown R&B feel. It sounds good, but not like
- Sly & The Family Stone - The Essential Sly & The Family Stone - 9/25/2008
- Two discs of groovy funk from Sly's 10 albums with Epic. The group's music
carries strong social messages, but is also a lot of fun (which is itself a
message). This compilation is probably the best single-album choice for folks
who want some funk in their lives.
- Smashing Pumpkins - gish - 9/25/2008
- The group's first album demonstrated their two primary modes, intense and
bittersweet. None of the songs are awesome, but they're all decent.
- Smashing Pumpkins - pisces iscariot - 9/25/2008
- Most of the songs are slow, touching, and spare including the great acoustic
cover of "Landslide." I don't like the periodic aggressive distorted
- The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - 9/26/2008
- I don't know what is special about the performances on this album, but every
lyric, every note, every chord, and every bit of amplifier noise works together
to create perfect moments. It appeals to multiple moods and multiple
- Soul Hooligan - Music Like Dirt - 9/26/2008
- Hip-hop vocals sung clearly with live instruments leads to a much better
sound than drum machines and samples. "Algebra" is phenomenal and the rest of
the songs are great. I'm quite disappointed the group didn't continue after
this great release.
- Soul Kitchen - Soul Kitchen - 9/26/2008
- I bought this album because of the band's name, not knowing the concept of
"hair metal." Though the genre is associated with the 1980s, these Californians
were still trying to sound like Skynyrd it in the early '90s. Theirs isn't any
better or worse than any other hair metal I've heard, which says something about
the genre. This might make a good white elephant.
- Various Artists - soundings1 :: music from visualsoundings 2002-2003 - 9/26/2008
- A compilation of experimental music performed at Museum of Contemporary Art
in Denver. A lot of this sounds pretty good. Much of it is minimalistic and
creates a good background (though if these are the sorts of artists who decry
background music, it didn't do a good job). I particularly liked "Draft Number
Eleven" by devslashnull and "Funeral Hymn" by The Experimental Playground
- Sound Tribe Sector 9 - Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace - 1/28/2010
- The album starts with natural sounds and ambient electronica sounds,
then moves into medium-quality rock jam, ending with two good long tracks.
- Squirrel Nut Zippers - Perennial Favorites - 9/26/2008
- I think this beats out Zoot Suit Riot for the Best Swing Revival Album.
"Ghost of Stephen Foster" is one of my favorite songs of the 1990s and it's
joined by several other fantastic ones. The retro flower catalog CD booklet
is neat too.
- U. Srinivas & Michael Brook - Dream - 1/15/2010
- Indian-style mandolin and experimental electric guitar work quite well
together. It feels like there's more emphasis on the latter sonically, but it's
an equal partnership stylistically.
- John St. John - Flight of the Eagle - 7/2/2008
- Pleasant New Age synthesizer inspired by (if the cover is any indication)
eagles flying over computer-generated bodies of water. It's not as lame as
I remember it, but it's not spectacular either.
- Staind - Disfunction - 9/26/2008
- Heavy metal music whose message is generally "Woe is me!" "Just Go" and
"Mudshovel" are decent songs as is the acoustic secret track at the end, but
most of the album sounds like a grown man with a loud guitar whining like a
- Frank Steiner, Jr. - I Ching Symphony - 7/31/2008
- I'd mentally filed this under "lame new age music" and only played it once
or twice, but it's actually not bad. Aside from the wave sound effects for
"K'an (water)," little evokes my sense of each trigram, but the music is still
enjoyable. The soft synthesizer is much less overpowering than in typical
Chinese pop songs and actually carries the listener through a pleasurable
listening experience. This might be the best new age album I have for working
productively, though that may be damning with faint praise.
- Stereolab - Mars Audiac Quintet - 9/29/2008
- Stereolab's songs are a lot of fun and I tend to sing along to myself, even
though most of the words are in French, which I don't speak. The music is
somewhat repetitive, but in a way that lets the listener groove out and which
provides a good base for the vocals. The album ends with some chill
- Stereolab - Margerine Eclipse - 9/29/2008
- Though the group has experimented in a lot of different directions, their
core sound is very resilient. This is a good album to work to; I particularly
liked "Dear Marge."
- Steve Stevens - Flamenco.A.Go.Go - 6/27/2008
- Fairly up-tempo flamenco, in some cases mixed with nontradtitional elements.
It sounds like there's some electric guitar on a few of the early tracks.
"Feminova" starts with the clichéd guy talking about a stereo system.
The playing is pretty good, but doesn't really stand out.
- Various Artists - The Stomper Time Records Story - 10/1/2008
- From back when rock and country sat at the same Thanksgiving table, this
compilation of "Memphis rockabillies, hillbillies & honky tonkers" has a
lot of typical music of the time and sveral great songs. Compilations are
great when their source material dispenses with its subject in about two
minutes, leaving room for 36 tracks.
- Jayme Stone - The Utmost - 10/1/2008
- Jayme has great expressiveness with the banjo and the compositions do a
beautiful job of weaving its phrases with the complementary sounds of guitar,
fiddle, and other string instruments. These eleven instrumentals would be a
great offering to someone who thinks all banjo music sounds twangy.
- Straylight - (?) - 10/2/2008
- When I was an RA, one of my residents gave me his band's CD. It's a spacy
mildly-distorted rock with vocals which sound as if they're coming through a
window in the next room. I think it sounds pretty good, good for working or
- Strunz & Farah - Live - 1/22/2010
- Lots of hot flamenco playing. The audience isn't prominent and there's no
noticeable segways, so it's essentially a studio album with one take per tune.
- Sugarcubes - Stick Around For Joy - 10/2/2008
- Björk's first band has fairly simple songs that sound like they're
played at a party. Not too deep, but reasonably fun.
- Sugarcubes - Life's Too Good - 12/10/2008
- Björk's high and perky vocals are balanced by Einar Örn's more
stable words. I particularly liked "Deus," "F***ing in Rhythm & Sorrow,"
"Coldsweat," and "Cat" (in Icelandic).
- Sweet Honey In The Rock - Selections 1976-1988 - 10/2/2008
- 34 songs from the first eight albums by the celebrated black women's
socially-minded a capella group. A lot of the songs are beautifully sung with
poignant lyrics, but listening to over two hours straight drags me down. This
would be a good album to have on MP3 so the honey is dispensed a little at a
- Talking Heads - Little Creatures - 10/3/2008
- While their greatest hits are lots of fun to sing along to, several of the
songs on this album are good for reflective listening with neat lyrics sung
rather sweetly. I really like the music on "Road to Nowhere."
- Talking Heads - "Naked" - 10/3/2008
- Compared to their catchy early work, this album is fairly subdued and
exploratory. Lots of the songs are still danceable fun like "Mr. Jones," but
others are more introspective.
- Tangerine Dream - Alpha Centauri - 10/6/2008
- Clear and present flute, rumbling drums, and meandering keyboards create a
very spacy ambiance on this very influential band. Tangerine Dream's early
period did for contemporary music what 2001: A Space Odyssey did for science
fiction. The electronic music I really like usually has reflections of
- Tangerine Dream - Le Parc - 10/6/2008
- My first association with the synthesizer timbre which starts the album is
with bad '80s music, but the first three tracks work with it phenomenally,
creating music that's both ambient and energetic. The tracks are all named
for famous public parks. Yellowstone's the only one I've been to and I
didn't get a strong resonance between the place and the music. Perhaps it's
a better match for the major city parks.
- Tangerine Dream - Turn of the Tides - 10/6/2008
- Tracks on this album differ significantly in elements added to the synth
base, but the album coheres nicely. "Firetongues," ""Death of a nightingale,"
and "Twilight Brigade" have my favorite sounds on the album.
- Tangerine Dream - Ambient Monkeys - 10/6/2008
- Originally played before concerts as folks trickled in, this music has a lot
of interesting ambient sounds including, yes, a monkey. The album contains two
compositions by Bach and Mozart set in a jungle/zoo ambiance, but I'm not too
thrilled about them. I really dug other tracks including "Calyx calamander" and
"Lemon Vendor Khaly."
- Tangerine Dream - 220 Volt Live - 12/2/2008
- A quality, if guitar-heavy, performance. I particularly liked the title
track and "Backstreet Hero." The cover of "Purple Haze" isn't very interesting.
- Various Artists mixed and compiled by DJ Red Buddha - TANGOmotion: neo tango chill 2 - 10/1/2008
- I don't know if tango is particularly well suited to electronic mixing or
if electronic mixing is particularly well suited to tango. Perhaps it actually
takes a lot of skill to do it right, but the dozen artists on this compilation
do a marvelous job of creating music which is both interesting tango and
interesting mix music. "La Pampa Seca" by Otros Aires is just one very groovy
- The Tannahill Weavers - Capernaum - 10/6/2008
- A fitting mix of traditional Scottish dance tunes and slow songs in the
soothing dialect. The title track and "The Braes o' Balquhidder" are two fine
examples of the latter, but the whole album is solid.
- The Tannahill Weavers - Live & In Session - 10/6/2008
- I like the live half of this album more; it's got more energy to it as in
"The Athol Gathering." The studio half featues some lovely vocal harmonies as
in "The Cruel Brother."
- Thievery Corporation - sounds from the Thievery hi-fi - 10/7/2008
- This is a well-constructed chill-out album. Dub reggae is the primary
ingredient, but bosa nova is well-blended in for instance "Scene at the Open
Air Market" and ambient style is added in "The FOundation" and "The Oscillator."
- Thievery Corporation - Abductions and Reconstructions - 10/7/2008
- Most of these fifteen remixes of various artists get into very repetitive
dub loops of a single fragment of the song. The first track, however, stands
out as very dynamic and fun: the remix of David Byrne's "Dance on Vaseline."
The remaining hour and change are best left to the background.
- Ali Farka Toure - the source - 10/8/2008
- With a slow and contemplative pace, Mali's music master lets his unassuming
guitar share a simple blues. There's an interesting sounding African instrument
on "Goye Kur" and beautiful call-and-response vocals on "Roucky" and others.
- Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder - Talking Timbuktu - 10/8/2008
- Although I'd heard "Diaraby" before, the first time it came on at the end of
this slow and sweet album I had to stop working and cry with the beauty. I
could tell it was about love, even though it's in the Bambara language. Many
songs are long with few words, a good fit for desert blues and quite distinct
from the cramped blues of the Americans.
- Ali Farka Toure - Niafunké - 10/9/2008
- The tracks are shorter on this album and a little more perky, a little more
homey. Njarka violin adds a great sound to "Allah Uya" and "Howkouna." I also
love the happy sound of "Cousins."
- Various Artists - Trance Planet - 10/9/2008
- This is not the thump-thump "trance" electronic music, but songs of awe and
devotion from around the world. Several I've encountered before like Zakir
Hussain's "Balinese Fantasy" and Cesaria Evora's "Sodade." "Nwahulwana" by
Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mocambique is one of the most beautiful songs of
elation I've heard. "Tanola Nomads" by Sainkho is good and it never hurts to
have a "Petition to Ram" handy. I don't think this album would be super helpful
for entering a trance as the ethnic sounds shift, but it's not terribly jarring.
- Transglobal Underground - International Times - 10/9/2008
- This group impressively pulled sounds from all over the planet. Natacha
Atlas's Arabic vocals are balanced by rap-style. Ethnic percussion and other
odd instruments (I think there's a quichu in there) is balanced by keyboards
and bass. This album has some great grooves.
- Transglobal Underground - Psychic Karaoke - 10/9/2008
- This album's balance is more to the remix/dub/dance side of Transglobal than
the world music fusion side, but it does a good job with both. I learned
something interesting from the sample and title of "Good Luck Mr. Gorsky."
- Transglobal Underground - rejoice rejoice - 10/9/2008
- Drums are the most striking element of this album, and there's a great mix
between drum and synthetic sounds. As the title suggests, this is a fun and
very upbeat album.
- Various Artists - The Trip Hop Test: Part 3 - 10/10/2008
- These tracks tend to use a few phrases as mix elements rather than the acid
jazz end of the trip hop spectrum. A lot of them are realliy groovy and they
flow together rather well. "Fun For Me" by Moloko, "The Weekend Starts Here" by
Fatboy Slim, "Break In" by Cirrus, and "Think" by Strata 3 are favorites.
- Tuatha - Invocation - 10/10/2008
- Spacey tribal trance rock. With two percussionists and a good bassline,
they get into some really good grooves. While the electric violin often bugs me
during their concerts, it sounds just right on the album. I can focus well
while listening to this album.
- Various Artists - Tuva: Voices from the Center of Asia - 10/10/2008
- This Smithsonian/Folkways collection is probably responsible for bringing
awareness of the throat singing of the Siberian steppes to Western ears. The
album is largely documentary in its structure, presenting immitations of
animals, demonstrations of techniques, and highlighting certain instruments.
So while the tracks are very interesting, the album isn't something to groove
to. But due to the awareness this album brought, Tuvans made some great
appearances with other artists in the '90s.
- Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses - 10/10/2008
- Self-consciously over-the-top goth metal. Rather than liking particular
songs, I like particular sections of this album such as when "We Hate Everyone"
changes from low chug-chugs to undistorted lead guitar.
- Type O Negative - Slow, Deep and Hard - 1/30/2009
- Long, slow, and ponderous tracks with entertaining titles. Not bad as
background black noise.
- U2 - Boy - 10/10/2008
- It's interesting to reflect how far U2 has come in a quarter of a century.
The freshman album was one of the best for many bands that made it big in the
'60s and '70s. But the first album by rock bands that grew in the '80s often
is not very remarkable in retrospect. Maybe that's why they're "Alternative."
- U2 - October - 10/10/2008
- This album has some great songs with different tones. "Gloria" is a strong
though a bit poppy, love song, "Fire" is a solid rock song with neat interplay,
and October is a sweet somber song about fall, perhaps the group's song closest
to traditional Irish songs in thematic style.
- U2 - War - 10/13/2008
- In this album, U2 mastered their rock sound. Driving drums lead simple but
powerful rock rhythms with socially-conscious lyrics. Overlaid vocals are a
subtle effective production effect. And then it ends with ""40"," a beautiful
song with a very different tone from the other 9.
- U2 - Live Under A Blood Red Sky - 10/13/2008
- Some tracks stay close to the album versions, but several have great energy
from the crowd and from the band. This album and its associated music videos
also contributed greatly to the image of Red Rocks.
- U2 - The Unforgettable Fire - 10/13/2008
- U2 explores the American West and the figures of the previous generation.
There are so many quietly beautiful songs on this album, a thoughtful departure
from the standards of rock.
- U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (single) - 10/13/2008
- Features the album version of the title track, a live version of "A Sort of
Homecoming," "The Three Sunrises," "Love Comes Tumbling," and "Bass Trap." The
latter is a rare instrumental for the group, quiet and mellow. This isn't a bad
CD, as singles go, but I hardly ever listen to it; I should load it onto my
- U2 - The Joshua Tree - 10/13/2008
- Justifiably considered by many to be U2's best work. Guitars that sound far
away give voice to the American West theme; lyrics focus on existential
struggles, pursued without end. This is perhaps their most American album (in
subject) and their most Irish album (in somber tone).
- U2 - Rattle and Hum - 10/13/2008
- A mix of live songs from the Joshua Tree tour, new songs, and a few covers
and collaborations. The theme which crops up all over the album is love for
fellow man. It doesn't have a unified feel like U2's other albums, but most of
the songs are good.
- U2 - Achtung Baby - 10/13/2008
- Song subjects turn to personal relationships and away from the social issues
and interaction with the environment that Bono featured in the 1980s. The
vibrant guitars were also dulled by muddy feedback perhaps influenced by grunge.
Many of the songs with this poppy twist have nice lyrics, but I don't find
myself wanting to hear them again and again.
- U2 - Zooropa - 10/13/2008
- Definitely my favorite U2 album from the '90s. It feels very different from
most U2 albums, but it's not an awkward feeling. There's depth and care and
worry and reflection.
- U2 - Pop - 10/14/2008
- The title correctly identifies the genre of this album. The songs are fun
enough to listen to, but they wear off quickly. Electro/remix style is not what
these guys do best.
- U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - 10/14/2008
- The grammy was well-deserved. U2 has reclaimed their mastery of pure rock
with intense vocals. I can't help but mouth along with the lyrics and if I'm
not attached to a computer I usually dance around the room. The personal love
songs are better than most of their previous attempts and far exceed the pop
- U2 - No Line on the Horizon - 1/21/2010
- In many cases, this feels like a pop rock album with songs getting lost
to sound. It's hard to tell if "Unknown Caller," catchy as it is, is trying
for metaphor and being obtuse or just stringing related phrases together.
"Cedars of Lebanon" closes the album with a soulful gentile touch.
- Ukulele Loki's Gadabout Orchestra - Ukulele Loki's Gadabout Orchestra - 10/14/2008
- A cross between retro-Victorian and East European fusion, their songs range
from amusing to highly danceable. Ben Fausch's wide tuba range is one of this
band's key elements. I heartily recommend their live shows.
- Underground Orchestra - Active Ingredient - 12/10/2008
- Groovy electric jam instrumentals. Good to work or boogie to.
- Us3 - Hand on the Torch - 10/14/2008
- When people say they like "all music except rap," I usually refer them to
Us3. Mixing old Blue Note jazz riffs with well-enunciated socially-conscious
rap lyrics makes for a great listening experience. "Different Rhythms Different
People" and "Just Another Brother" are my favorites, but it's good all the way
- Vangelis - Oceanic - 10/15/2008
- Quality soothing music with wave sounds; much better than a CD of whale
songs. '80s synthesizer still sounds a bit silly to me, but these guys know how
to use it well. "Islands of the Orient" is my favorite track on the album.
- Vangelis - China - 1/19/2010
- Lots of calm synth with a few gems. "The Dragon" is fun and upbeat and
"The Tao of Love" uses a melody from a song I can't quite recall.
- Vangelis - Odyssey: The Definitive Collection - 1/26/2010
- Movie themes and other catchy focused pieces make up this best-of
collection. A few tracks venture into boring synthesizer land, but as a
whole this album is more enjoyable than any other set of Vangelis music I've
- Vermillion Lies - Separated by Birth - 10/15/2008
- With found-object percussion, a backwards track followed by its forwards
one ("tfird"/"drift"), and a song about a zombie circus, this sister duo could
come across as a gimmick act. But the concept songs are interesting and much
of the second act has lovely family harmonies.
- Vermillion Lies - Scream-A-Long EP - 10/15/2008
- "Global Warming" is a fabulous song for kids and grownups, freely available
on their website. "Found Myself" is a
good summary of their instrumental creativity and harmonic voices.
- Vermillion Lies - What's in The Box? - 10/15/2008
- A short album with lots of good songs, including the tracks on the
Scream-A-Long EP. "The Astronomer" and "Take Off Your Shirt" are neat desire
songs and the whole album is fun.
- Various Artists - Sounds From the Verve Hi-Fi compiled by Thievery Corporation - 10/8/2008
- The Thievery Corporation duo are big fans of classical Brazillian music and
came up with this quality selection. Note that it is not a remix album and that
"The Girl From Ipanema" does not appear (listeners presumably already have it).
It does have great selections by Cal Tjader with Lalo Schifrin ("The Fakir"),
Astrud Gilberto ("Light My Fire") and Walter Wanderley ("Batucada") among
- Violent Femmes - New Times - 10/15/2008
- I didn't know the Femmes had an album other than their teenage angst
masterpiece eponymous album. This album has some fun songs like "This Island
Life," some angst songs like "Breakin' Up" and a very odd closer "Jesus of
Rio," but it doesn't make it to the high bar set by their initial release.
My CD had trouble playing in my laptop, maybe I should consider letting it go.
- Väsen - Whirled - 10/15/2008
- Traditional norse string music isn't as catchy as traditional Irish music,
but this group makes up for it in interesting timbre. I keep humming core
melodies quite a while after the album is done. "Shapons Vindaloo" and
"30-års Jiggen" are two good tunes.
- War - ☮ - 10/16/2008
- Peace Sign is a very socially-conscious album. It covers issues from inner
city poverty to homeless veterans to hopes for the future. It's also got some
funky groovy songs about having fun. In sum: the essence of War.
- War - Platinum Jazz - 10/16/2008
- War is usually quite funky, but this is a compilation of their smooth and
chill numbers. A few have lyrics and the first few are upbeat. I think this
album would be a great source for remix material.
- War - The Best of War… and More - 10/17/2008
- The War songs which still kick around in the popular consciousness are
all represented. These are mostly songs about having fun and being cool,
which is only half of what's important about funk.
- Various Artists - Warped Tour 2005 Compilation - 12/8/2008
- 50 tracks that are reasonably good. A lot are commercial radio friendly
(punk pop?), but a few are political or noisy. I didn't find as many gems as
in a typical Punk-O-Rama, but it's not bad music to work to.
- Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking - 10/17/2008
- The music takes a back seat to the message, but the message isnt so clear.
I catch sections of lyrics and then lose track, so I have to read the lyrics
to figure out what's going on. This album sounds like Pink Floyd's The Final
Cut, but the latter has better music and a clearer point.
- Roger Waters - Radio K.A.O.S. - 10/17/2008
- Probably my favorite Waters solo album, it places pointed dialog between
songs which reinforce the scene. The songs are good even out of the album's
context and the storyline is interesting.
- Roger Waters - Amused to Death - 10/17/2008
- The concept–a monkey watching television–and some of the
messages (e.g. "What God Wants") are interesting, but this album suffers from a
lack of energy. The first two thirds or so feel like Waters mumbling into your
ears with little bits of music in the background. The final four tracks redeem
it somewhat with more normal songs and clear lyric images.
- Leo Watson - The Original Scat Man - 10/17/2008
- An extensive collection of 1930s and '40s big band and jazz featuring the
groovy scat cat. The tracks have that comforting warm big band feeling and it's
easy to forget that Watson is the focus of the collection. He's more subtle
than my mental image of scat, but it's still lots of fun.
- Vince Welnick & Missing Man Formation - Mising Man Formation - 10/17/2008
- Though obviously inspired by the loss of Jerry Garcia, this isn't just a
tribute and it doesn't dwell on the past. Lots of it are quite upbeat like
"Golden Days" and "It's Alive" and some are interesting experiments like
"Fabiana." Some other parts aren't as good as they could be, dissipating into
time. Appropriate, I think.
- Dar Williams - The Honesty Room - 10/20/2008
- There's some timidity in this album. The music is accompaniment rather than
standing on its own. Many of the songs don't deliver the impact that their
lyrics could. "The Babysitter's Here" shows that these hurdles can be overcome.
- Dar Williams - Mortal City - 10/20/2008
- This album touches on a lot of themes and moods, but it does justice to
each. Several songs tell stories perfect for sharing with friends in certain
circumstances. Others provide a mosaic in support of confronting cold
- Dar Williams - End of the Summer - 10/20/2008
- Instruments beside acoustic guitar are used for good effect on several
songs. About half of the album is upbeat, the other half is introspective.
The flow is decent.
- Dar Williams - The Green World - 10/20/2008
- This is a great sing-along album. It features high sustain songs, boppin'
metaphorical songs, a political history song, and songs of love for life.
- Dar Williams - The Beauty of the Rain - 10/20/2008
- I get a feeling of reflecting on things and letting them pass away. It's
a very introspective album with more poetic angst than the directed angst of
many of her other albums.
- Dar Williams - My Better Self - 10/20/2008
- The music is more rock than folk, but her voice is still melodiously clear
and her songwriting is still insightful poetry. "Teen For God" marvelously
paints a picture of both an individual handling issues on her own and a whole
- Dar Williams - Promised Land - 1/12/2009
- Most of the songs work well as both focus and background, good to dance or
work to but also good to contemplate. It's hard not to focus on the words to
"Buzzer," an upbeat but critical song about not questioning social norms with
the setting of the Milgram experiment. Folk that's insightful and fun!
- Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan - Hall of Fame - 10/21/2008
- The ultimate name in western swing, when people say they like "All music
except country," I recommend they give Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys a
chance. This CD groups two records featuring great songs and dance tunes. The
band is tight with strong lead snare and great melodies on fiddle and steel
- Reverend Billy C. Wirtz - Deep Fried and Sanctified - 3/31/2009
- While his persona is a charismatic preacher, the songs poke fun at life in
the south, love, and elderly drivers, too. "Will There Be a Shopping Mall in
Heaven?" is great stuff.
- Various Artists - WOMAD 1996 - 10/21/2008
- 13 songs from the WOMAD world music festival in the U.K. This includes a
lot of strong performances including those by The Kamkars, Shooglenifty, Savina
Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico, Ashkhabad, and Abdel Ali Slimani.
- Victor Wooten - Yin-Yang - 1/22/2010
- I like the instrumental disc+vocal disc approach. The former (Yin) is
smooth but varied, reminiscent of the work Wooten did with The Flecktones.
The latter (Yang) is pretty funky, channeling a bit of Prince. The two
tracks with his young daughter are iffy.
- Richard Wright - Wet Dream - 10/21/2008
- Water and Gilmour get most Pink Floyd focused attention, leaving Wright
underappreciated. This album from 1978 recalls the Floyd feeling circa 1970.
The music is quiet and nuanced, the vocals float through the air. It's a
lovely dance in the country, far away from the violence inside the Wall.
- Various Artists - The Young Flamencos (Los Jovenes Flamencos) - 10/21/2008
- 18 jumpin' flamenco tracks. None of them stood out to me as totally
awesome, but none were bad either. If I can remember these cats' names, I'll
get individual albums when I see them.
- Zap Mama - Adventures in Afropea 1 - 1/26/2010
- Percussive a capella keeps things fun and dynamic. With more time
listening, there are some songs I'd want to sing along with, despite not
knowing the words (or even which sounds are words…).
- Dweezil Zappa - Confessions - 10/22/2008
- Influenced by virtuosic metal guitarists of the 1980s, Dweezil shows good
talent. Though he probably only gets attention because he shares his father's
last name, Dweezil's rock is less social but still fun.
- The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out! - 10/21/2008
- Very weird but very listenable. Frank Zappa's first album features several
single-worthy songs (particularly "Trouble Every Day"), cheezy love songs, and
a record side worth of wanderings through weirdness starring Suzy Creamcheese.
- Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti - 10/21/2008
- If hip-hop artists today know about Zappa, they probably wish they could
match this album's marriage of offensive with catchy. "Flakes," "Broken Hearts
are for Assholes," "Bobby Brown Goes Down," and "Jewish Princess" would all make
Classic Rock radio more interesting.
- Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers - Bongo Fury - 10/22/2008
- This album is mostly on the Zappa/Mothers side with Captain Beefheart
providing great gravelly vocals. Most of the music is fairly straightforward
and the album doesn't get into any stage oddities so it's perhaps not very
representative of a Zappa concert, but it's probably the most
commercially-accessible album featuring Captain Beefheart.
- Frank Zappa - Cheap Thrills - 10/21/2008
- An odd compilation including several tracks from the You Can't Do That On
Stage Anymore series and some original album versions of various songs. "The
Torture Never Stops" with Captain Beefheart was an interesting find and other
songs are fun, but I'm not quite sure why they're all together here.
- Frank Zappa - Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa - 10/22/2008
- This is a subset of Zappa's best. It's strictly commercial, so it lacks
many great songs about kinky sex and human oddity but it has no shortage of
social commentary through the medium of rock music. I don't listen to Zappa as
often as I should, perhaps because it's at the end of my CD shelves.