Archive for Album Reviews

Flood

Flood

(You are reading a review written in the month of June, 2011, which was dedicated to the band They Might Be Giants and the task of reviewing many of the bands most popular material.)

 

They Might Be Giant’s third album may be their best known. Flood was their first album with their first major label, Elektra, and was released in 1990. It would be the band’s best selling album, eventually going Platinum. The single “Birdhouse in Your Soul” reached number 3 on modern rock tracks and their other singles “Istanbul (not Constantinople)” and “Particle Man” would become popular staples of the band’s catalog, and were also set to animation by the Tiny Toon Adventures cartoon.

At first I didn’t enjoy listening to Flood, but the more I listened to it the more I enjoyed it, and today I think it is one of the band’s better efforts. “Birdhouse” is one of the best songs the band has ever written, and the album contains a number of songs that could have been just as successful on the radio. Songs like “Minimum Wadge” and “Lucky Ball and Chain” continue a lot of the bands earlier themes, and songs like “Women and Men” and “Birdhouse” showcase the talents of the band in ways I don’t think the other albums had. In fact, a good way to look at Flood is to think of it as the polishing and formal presentation of the sound and style that the earlier albums helped define.

The album sounds much more professional and polished and this makes songs like “Dead” and “Women and Men” sound as beautiful as they deserve to sound, while making songs like “Particle Man” more accessible and strange all at the same time.

This is the first album where you see a number of musicians help in the recording of the album. A total of 9 people are credited on the album as having recorded something for the album, from violin to hand claps. This may seem like a minor detail, but later the band would be touring with a live band as well, which would cause a great uproar with fans of the band. While many people consider the addition of this touring and recording band is where the band went through great change, I feel Flood is where the real change begins. Before there may have been one or two people helping out, but the whole process was very low-fi and DIY, and you could tell the process of song writing and recording was entirely or mostly left up to the Johns. But with Flood, we’re dealing with a new producer, 9 other credited musicians, and a major record deal, and I think you can hear a much greater difference between this album and the last than in any other case in the band’s history.

The album is a precursor to new material that would be written by the Giants in the future. Songs written most recently, such as “Take Out the Trash” and “Memo to Human Resources” can be easily compared to songs like “Your Racist Friend” and “We Want a Rock” where as “Boat of Car” and “Rabid Child” really have no equals.

You can find Flood at amazon.com used for a little over a dollar. Worth every penny and more.

Advertisements

Miscellaneous T and Then: The Earlier Years

Then: The Earlier Years is a must own

(You are reading a review written in the month of June, 2011, which was dedicated to the band They Might Be Giants and the task of reviewing many of the bands most popular material.)

They Might Be Giants has a bit of a reputation for releasing great songs on soundtracks and B-sides, most of which were impossible to hear before the internet became THE INTERNET. Today, I can go to YouTube and find the song “Sensurround”, but 10 years ago when I first got into the band I would have had to get lucky on Napster or spend money and buy the Power Rangers Movie soundtrack.

(This song isn’t on these albums, but it is a great song left off of their later albums)

So imagine it’s 25 years ago and there is no free illegal music online for me to download. In fact, there are like seven people on the internet and none of them are thinking about sending each other rare TMBG songs. So, you go to your music store and you look in the TMBG section and find their first albums, but that’s all. You check the Miscellaneous section next, at the end of the row, check under T and bingo, a ton of TMBG stuff: singles, remixed tracks, soundtracks, weird stuff from out of the country, and other crap you’ve never seen before. Each has one or two songs you’ve never heard before.

Rather than having you hunt down and buy all those obscure releases and singles, TMBG made an effort in 1991 to gather up the best of all this material and release it together on one CD. They called the album Miscellaneous T and included the best rare stuff from their first two albums. Some of these songs are all time favorites of mine. “Hey, Mr. DJ (I Thought You Said We Had a Deal)” is a song that I’ve performed in the past, “For Science” and “The Famous Polka” are always fun to listen to, and “I’ll Sink Manhattan” is one of the better written songs from this time in their career. All of these songs deserved to be on one of their albums. It must have been murder choosing which songs they would leave out. In fact, one of my favorite TMBG songs of all time, probably in my top 5 songs by the band, is on the album, “It’s Not My Birthday,” which was originally released on the They’ll Need a Crane single. It’s hard to believe that a song this great would have been so hard to find if it wasn’t for Miscellaneous T.

The album also contains an untitled track from the answering machine known to fans everywhere as Dial-A-Song. Basically, you can call this phone number, (718) 387-6962, and you can listen to a track from TMBG. Usually there’s a new one every day. Sometimes the band records right into the machine, when they’re on tour they have people come in and switch tapes for them. They’ve been doing this since the mid 80’s and advertised it in the local paper. Sometimes people would leave messages and one of those messages was from a woman trying to figure out what she had just listened to while on a conference call with some other man. It’s pretty funny:

“They sound like all kinds of people, right?”

Then: The Earlier Years was released in 1997 and contained the band’s first two albums, the rare stuff from Miscellaneous T, and even more material not previously released. Included in this two-CD set are two really wild tracks that the band used to get levels right before their shows. Back when it was just the two of them performing live, they played along with a tape to fill in the sound. When they did this, they would need to play an intro track to make sure the machine was at the right volume. The best of these tracks is the “Critic Intro” in which they share with the audience some fake reviews from news papers and magazines, as if it was a preview or a radio commercial.

(This is the only video I could find that has any part of the critic intro.  It’s only a clip of it.)

Then contains some must listen tracks like “Weep Day” and “Fake Out in Buenos Aires.” Aside from saving you a lot of money and a lot of time finding these tracks, Then also contains some really nice liner notes with comments about a lot of the songs individually from both Johns. You can find Then: The Earlier Years on amazon.com used for about $7.50. I strongly suggest you buy it new.

Thanks!  Wednesday I’ll post my review of Flood!

Lincoln by They Might Be Giants

Lincoln

(You are reading a review written in the month of June, 2011, which was dedicated to the band They Might Be Giants and the task of reviewing many of the bands most popular material.)

Following the success of their self-titled album, the John’s released their second album in 1988, two years after their self-titled album’s release. Whenever I listen to this album, I feel like this is where They Might Be Giants really solidified their sound and their style. The album did well, and made it to number 89 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, received strong reviews, and spawned 3 singles. Of these singles was the song “Ana Ng” which reached number 11 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

The album makes better use of Linnell’s ability to play the accordion, which was once a large part of the band’s songs until they began writing and performing with a backing band. Today the accordion pops up on albums in a small handful of songs. While the instrument lacks the star power of the guitar or drums, it made sense for They Might Be Giants. The band, at this time, was performing as a duo, playing along with recordings they had on tapes. Aside from providing the band with a unique sound, the accordion allowed John Linnell to move around the stage more freely in comparison to the keyboard, which he could also play.

The album continues to explore topics like the working world, love and loss, politics, American and world history, and supplies the same exploration of imagery and symbols as their first album. The single “Purple Toupee” is a song from the perspective of a man who grew up in the 60’s and is trying to recall events that went on in the USA and the rest of the world at the time. What we end up with a jumbled mess of misinterpreted words and accounts of real events that happened in his lifetime. For example, instead of “Free the Chicago Seven,” he shouts “Free the Expo ’67” and he mentions “Martin X” instead of Dr. Martin Luthar King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Another song, “I’ve Got a Match” is about a failing relationship, and has some great lines. “I’ve got a match,/ your embrace and my collapse” and “Which one of us is the one that we can’t trust?/You say that I think it’s you, but I don’t agree with that” are just two examples that are sung to what could be misheard as a love song, as the song itself is very pretty and doesn’t lend itself to the harsh words of a man totally dissatisfied with his relationship.

This album is actually a little heavy on the songs about failed relationships, actually. Another great song from this album is “They’ll Need a Crane” which is about how hard it is to move on after a relationship is over, mainly because of all the work you put into making the other person happy.  It’s probably one of the saddest songs of this era for the band.

Also, there’s “Santa’s Beard” which is a pretty funny account of a man dressing up like Santa every year and flirting with his friend’s wife. I like it a lot, although it has always seemed odd that a song about Christmas is on a regular studio album. You don’t usually see that. Anyway, it reminds me of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” for reasons that go no farther than the chorus.

This is a great album and I actually prefer it  to their first. Most people I talk to feel the same way. I think this album just displays more focused themes and for the first time really gave fans the style that TMBG would carry with them for their entire career. The album can be found for about $4 used on amazon.com, but as mentioned before, you can get this album and their first album along with a ton of cool rare tracks together on the double CD set Then: The Earlier Years for about $7.50 used on amazon.com.

They Might Be Giants (Self Titled)

The self titled album

(You are reading a review written in the month of June, 2011, which was dedicated to the band They Might Be Giants and the task of reviewing many of the bands most popular material.)

The first release by They Might Be Giants was their self titled album in 1986. John Flansburgh and John Linnell had been writing music together for a few years after moving from Lincoln, Mass.  to the same apartment building in New York City. The album got solid reviews from those who found it and soon TMBG became a staple of college radio and the New York music scene.

The self titled album really defines the style of TMBG right out of the gate. Their first album is a more abstract and experimental than their others, I feel, and as their career moved on and their sound became more defined, things began to seem less about testing sounds and ideas, and more about creating music with the experience gained from those experiements.  It contains songs about love and loss, about loneliness, and discontent, all the while providing a commentary on politics, pop culture, drugs, and the music industry. Add to that the references to movies and literature and world history, and you’ve pretty much got the lyrical styling of the band. Also, since the band slowly began to incorporate the help of other musicians until their 5th studio album when they recorded John Henry with the help of a full band, on the first album we get a very potent introduction to the song writing styles of the band’s main songwriters.

Listening to the first two albums for the first time was an experience I’ll never forget. I was sitting in my living room, listening to the music and following along online on a website that is still up today (www.tmbg.org), which supplied lyrics and interpretations of their songs. Listening to songs like “Everything Right is Wrong Again”, “Rabid Child”, and “Rhythm Section Want Ad”, while reading all of these alternate interpretations and understanding the multiple references and allusions in their songs put me right in the middle of the music.

A good TMBG song is like a treasure trove of images and symbols, and it is all layered under a style of music that is sometimes uplifting and exciting, and other times bizarre and unsettling, supplied by lyrics which are at times totally literal and at other times are very abstract and surreal. In the end, they provided a place for me to spend my geeky down time, pondering meanings and enjoying the music all the same. I think you can attribute their large following online to these same conventions of geekdom.

The album contains some classics like the singles “Don’t Let’s Start” and “Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head”: And some other great tracks that range from the bizarre, like “Youth Culture Killed My Dog”: to the extremely bizarre “Boat of Car”:

I think the best written song from this album has to be “Rhythm Section Want Ad.” It is the definition of a great They Might Be Giants song. It explores discontent with the music industry, band marketability, and a plethora of other issues that up-and-coming bands like TMBG might have faced in the 80’s. Some of the best lines include “In a world we call out own/ there’s lots of room to roam./Plenty of time to turn mistakes into rhyme./ There’s a place for those who love their poetry,/ it’s just across from the sign that says ‘Prose Only.’” and “Hats off to the New Age hairstyles made of bones,/Hats off to the use of hats/ as megaphones./ Speak softly, drive a Sherman Tank./ Laugh hard, it’s a long way to the bank.” (Forgive me, this is the best video I could find…[wtf? right?])

I don’t think the band could have released a better album to introduce the world to their strange, intelligent style of rock music that would be their calling card for years to come. You can find this album for about $3.00 used on amazon.com, but you can get this album and their second album, Lincoln, along with a ton of cool rare tracks together on the double CD set Then: The Earlier Years for about $7.50 used on amazon.com.

Next up: Lincoln

Little Known A+ Albums: #1 Face the Truth by Stephen Malkmus

This time, I finish it…

.

Face the Truth

 

I’ve been known to call myself “Sinister Joe” from time to time.  You know why?  Because I heard it on a Stephen Malkmus album, and I liked it.

.

The album, “Face the Truth” is Stephen Malkmus’ third solo album.  Malkmus, the once lead singer, guitarist, and song writer for the band Pavement, is what I would call a living legend of rock and roll.  Pavement did a lot for rock music and he was one of the main reasons they did.  As a solo artist he moves away from the lo-fi indie garage jam band, and dabbles in a more professional sound.

I went to a Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks concert a few years ago and I was shocked.  I’ve seen concert footage of Pavement and expected the same feel of a low-budget jam band, but it was all business for Malkmus on stage.  He could be one of the best guitarists alive today, quite honestly.  He’s at least one of the best I’ve ever seen (top 3 for sure).  Every song seemed to be at least 5 minutes longer than on the record because of his extended solos.  It was great.

.

The first solo album was fantastic, and the second actually has one of my favorite songs ever written on it (“Vanessa From Queens”), but as a whole, Face the Truth is the strongest and most well written album of the original three.

.

Ok, let’s talk turkey.  Face the Truth opens with “Pencil Riot.”  The guitar-work throughout the entire album is phenomenal, and this track introduces you to Malkmus’ style in the best possible way.  The song is louder than most on the album.  The distortion might be a little misleading because the rest of the album is much more mellow.

.

Thanks to KCRW and their awesomeness, I actually have some videos to post for this album.  They are all acoustic, and as good as they sound now they’re a lot better on the album.

.

The thing I love about this album is that, like many albums on this list, has a lot of personality.  Stephen Malkmus is great about being creative and trying new things in his music.  His albums come alive with character.  “It Kills” shows off his guitar skills, but it also introduces the listeners to his song writing skills that seem to blend the carefully plotted musical arrangement and the freestyle verse.

.

“Freeze the Saints” is home to some of the best lyrics I feel Stephen Malkmus has ever written.  The lyrics are surreal and if you listen close enough, it might not speak to you, but if you take a step back, the mood of the song and the images he creates with his words blend into a great experience.  “If you need the pain/then you are, yes you are, so much like me/…nothing lasts for long/ except the earth and the mountains./so, learn to sing along and languish here./ Help me languish here.”

.

The single off of this album was “Baby C’mon.”  The video is pretty awesome.  It looks like those ads for HP that rocked so hard about 5 years ago.  The song is very guitar driven and very much more energetic than other tracks off the album with the exception of “Pencil Riot.”  I really wish I could find a video for that song, but I couldn’t.  I guess you’ll just have to buy the album.

.

Stephen Malkmus gets the number one spot for a few reasons.  While Okkervil River is the most emotionally moving album on the list, Face the Truth is an album anyone can pick up and just enjoy for the simple fact that the music is fun, exciting, different, and has such character.  Also, if you look past what the album seems to be, you’ll find great meaningful lyrics and an artist that is just adding to a great line he’s drawn on the landscape of rock music.  To put it simply, this is an album that deserves to be a classic and everyone should listen to it.  You can get this album used for $2.50 on Amazon.com.  Do it.  I’ll post the other videos I found from this album now.

Little Known A+ Albums: #2 Black Sheep Boy by Okkervil River

William Schaff has done most of Okkervil River's album covers. You should check him out, too.

When I first listened to Okkervil River ’s “Black Sheep Boy” I had to take a step back.  It was like nothing I’d ever heard.  The closest thing to the album is Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In an Aeroplane Over the Sea.”  The lyrics create vivid imagery both surreal and seemingly personal, the music builds and overflows with emotion, all the while telling the story of some tragic hero or villain.

.

The album was recorded in 2005 and started out with a cover.  Will Sheff, lead singer and guitarist for Okkervil River , wrote a cover version of the song “Black Sheep Boy”  by Tim Harden.  The lyrics sound like they might be about someone misunderstood and under appreciated:

.

But when it was written in the 1960’s, the song was actually about drug addiction and pleas to be left alone.  It was a cry for no more help.  “If you love me, let me live in peace.”

.

Will Sheff knew this about the song.  The character of the “Black Sheep Boy” inspired many songs that were sequels to the original, and soon Sheff ended up with a concept album in which the Black Sheep Boy was woven in and out.  The songs revolve around a few other characters and in truth some of them are hard to tell apart.  This isn’t as straight forward as…well, I don’t know…Ziggy Stardust, I guess.  It’s very surreal and is very hard to figure out at times.  What is easy to tell is when a song is through the perspective of the Black Sheep Boy himself.  The song “For Real” for example:

.

The whole album isn’t from this psychotic perspective.  The album actually holds two of the best love songs I’ve ever heard: “A King and Queen” and “Song of Our So-Called Friend.”

.

There are two characters, a man and a woman, and I think the woman is in love with the Black Sheep Boy, and the man is trying to win her over for himself.  In “Song of Our So-Called Friend” the man makes his last attempt.  It’s a sad song, but it’s beautifully written.

The album is very vivid.  Because of the singing style of Will Sheff the raw emotion of the characters and the disappointment of the love songs really sting you.  On the talent of the band to build with the action of these images and feelings, the listener is forced to experience the album from beginning to end.  I know people who have cried listening to this album.  It feels more like a musical or opera at times.

.

I want to go into greater detail about each song, because every one is just phenomenal.  I’ll end by talking about just one more.  “Black” is a song in which one character is being told about how she was molested as a child.  Will Sheff’s lyrics revolve around the male’s perspective; He wants to go kill the guy who did this to her, but she wants to put it all behind her.  One of my favorite lyrics are in this song:

.

“And I can still see the cigarette’s heat.  I can’t believe all that you’re telling me, what is cutting like the smoke through your teeth as you’re telling me “Forget it.”  But if I could tear his throat and spill his blood between my jaws, and erase his name for good, don’t you know that I would?  Don’t you realize that I wouldn’t pause?  That I would cut him down with my claws if I could have somehow never let that happen?  Or I’d call, some black midnight, fuck up his new life where they don’t know what he did.  Tell his brand new wife and second kid.  Though I tell, you like before, you should wreak his life the way that he wreaked yours, you want no part of his life anymore.”

.

Okkervil River ’s “Black Sheep Boy” is available in two versions.  There is the original version which you can get on Amazon.com used for $9.99.  Then there is a two disk extended version which features the unreleased recordings from the album which were labeled “Black Sheep Boy Appendix.”  This double set will cost you $8.97 used on Amazon.com.

.

You do the math.  Thursday’s review will be the final in the set of ten.  Thanks for reading!

Little Known A+ Albums #3: Mink Car by They Might Be Giants

The CD cover colds out into a poster that looks like directions on putting together a model of a guy and a car.

Anyone who knows as much about me as they say they do wouldn’t expect to see a list of A+ albums without a They Might Be Giants appearance.  While they are my favorite band, I’m trying to be fair here, and I’m putting them at #3.  I’ll admit, the next two albums are better than this one, although I still prefer their catalog as a whole to nearly any other band’s.

.

Anyway, Mink Car came out when I was in high school and I didn’t like it much at the time.  After listening to it again and again, I’ve come to accept it as one of their best.  They Might Be Giants have been around for nearly 25 years now, so they have gone through a lot of different sounds.  You can tell what songs are from the 80’s for example, and which are from the 90’s, but they always have a certain quality that separates them from other bands. This album was released in 2001 and was their first of the new millennium.  It was released just after their single “Boss of Me” (the theme song from “Malcolm in the Middle” which won the band their first Grammy), although the song does not appear on the album.
.
The album is different from their other albums in that it is the first to really cover many different genres of music on its own.  If you look back over their previous albums, each had its own sound and identity.  Mink Car is an eclectic assortment of dance music, power pop, and TMBG’s trademark bizarre.
.
One of the biggest reasons to respect this album is because it was recorded mostly on the road at different studios and with different producers.  Still, it stands out as one of their greatest efforts.
.
The album starts out with “Bangs” which is one of my favorite songs by the band.  It’s about a guy who is with a girl because he loves her bangs.  And I quote, “And although I liked you anyway, check out your haircut./A proscenium to stage a face that needs no make-up.”  I tried to find the song on youtube, but this is the best I could do…

He does a pretty good job though.  Maybe he can play my wedding.  (Steph, you should probably get some bangs so this will make sense.)  More from him later.

Anyway, you might know one or two of the songs from various appearances they made in TV spots or on other stuff.  Like this ad for Chrysler.
……..
Ok, I couldn’t find it.  The song was called “Yeh, Yeh” but every time I searched it I kept getting videos for that band the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s.  It’s a good song, though.  And it’s a cover…anyway, let me see what songs I can find…
.
Ah ha!  Here’s a good one.  They used to play Conan a lot.  This song is called “Man, It’s So Loud in Here.”  How great is this song?  A dance song about not being able to talk in a club because it’s too loud.  Genius.  The chorus is great.  “Baby, check this out, I’ve got something to say./Man, it’s so loud in here./When they stop the drum machine and I can think again/I’ll remember what it was.”
.
The song “Drink!” is great.  It’s a waltzy kind of drinking song.  Very fun live because they get the whole crowd involved.  On the album it ushers in the final seven tracks and a kind of lul in the tempo of the album.  This is the best video I could find of the song.  Enjoy:
.
Alright, you know what?  Here are all the best videos I can find for the songs off the album.
.

A+.  You can find the album for $7.50 on amazon.com, but I suggest buying it from their e-store at tmbg.com.  Stay tuned for more awesome albums you think you don’t need to know about or do not know about and you should know about.  Thanks.

.

Interesting Fact: This album was released on September 11th, 2001.  Just like the KGB’s album reviewed on this list. (I didn’t do that on purpose)

Little Known A+ Albums: #4: Fountains of Wayne

This is their REAL first album.

A lot of people only know Fountains of Wayne because of their 2003 hit, “Stacy’s Mom” off of their album Welcome Interstate Managers.  It was a big success for the band and landed them a nomination in 2003 for “Best New Artist.”  This confused me greatly since I had been a fan of the band since 1996 when their first, self titled album was released.

.
I understand a lot of people might have bought Welcome Interstate Managers and having heard of their nomination thought that they had discovered a new and interesting power-pop band.  The truth is they have two albums prior.
.
#4 on my list is their first and self-titled album.
.
There were a few singles off of this album.  The one I remember hearing on the radio was “Radiation Vibe.”  I remember seeing the music video on MTV (that’s how long ago this happened, MTV was still showing videos).  It was pretty awesome.  I can’t find that video, so here’s this live version.
.
The whole album was very full of energy which is something I kind of feel like their other albums lack.  It’s true, the band has been writing more advanced songs and has been exploring more interesting sounds, but nothing can top this album’s furver.  I enjoy the angst and the heartbreak themes that run through this album, and I also appreciate the other fast-paced songs with lyrics that don’t really add up or matter, like Radiation Vibe and Survival Car.  Every song is fun to listen to and to sing along with.
.
The album stayed in my CD player for about a month and a half after I got it.  I made copies for all my friends.  Now they’re fans too.  It’s not an album that’s hard to enjoy.  Even my friends with selective tastes can find something to like about this album.  It’s got heart and it’s got noise, and in my opinion that’s all a good album really needs.
.
It’s A+ is well deserved, and if the Grammy’s actually gave a shit about good music Fountains of Wayne would have won that award in 1996.  For less than a dollar on Amazon.com, you can’t go wrong!
.
Honorable mention: My favorite song by Fountains of Wayne isn’t on either their self titled album or Welcome Interstate Managers.  It’s on the album Utopia Parkway.  The song is called “Denise” and it goes like this:
.
The whole album is pretty great (I give it a B), and you can get Utopia Parkway for about 50 cents on Amazon.com!
(You can currently get all 3 albums mentioned in this article for $30 online as part of a Amazon.com promotion)

Little Known A+ Albums: #5: The KGB

This is one of the most difficult images to find on the internet. It took me a good 15 minutes.

You really want to talk about something you don’t know about?  Alright.  The KGB.  I remember when a good friend of mine showed me this album.  I went out to get a copy and I ended up with the edited version.  It’s strange.  I have no idea if all the issues were this way or not.  Either way, it’s pretty awesome.

The band had a single, “Love Undercover.”  It was released on September 11th, 2001.  So yeah…no one really cared about it.  That was the last we ever heard of them.  Some say they live in an abandoned sea lab on the ocean’s floor.  Others say they are still around today, haunting the Bay Area with their hip and upbeat sound.

I played the album for a friend of mine a few years ago.  Before I hit play I told him “Try NOT to like this band.”  He did, but it didn’t work.  It’s crazy.  They’re a party band with tons of energy.  Most the songs are about being famous, doing it with girls, or….well, doing it with girls.  Within the first two listens of the album you’ll find yourself singing along.  Every song is way too catchy, from the lead-in track “Fortune and Fame” to their cover of the 1977 song “The Goodbye Girl,” the band is full of energy and excitement. 

I don’t know why this band didn’t catch on.  They have ska undertones, but mostly they’re a poppy party band.  The lead singer had a pretty good voice, but he shines with lyrics that are fun and just predictable enough to sing along on the second listen.  It’s great fun.

The more you listen to it, the more you like it.  I think this is because you’ll listen to the same songs over and over again, and once you move on you find a new favorite.  A good example is “Isabella” which is near the end of the album and “In Case of a Bad Trip…” which is the very last song on the CD (kind of).  They’re so good, but I honestly never gave them a chance because I couldn’t get past what was my favorite song on the CD for a long time “Captain Max.” 

So, go look up this A+ CD up asap.  You can find it used at the Warehouse or you can just get it on amazon.  I’m a little shocked at the price, but it’s worth it; only $14.50.

PS: While I was researching this band and looking for some videos to post here, I found out the band got back together again for an Obama fund raiser.  I’m not sure if they are still together or if this was just a one time thing.  Let’s hope they’re still writing music.

Little Known A+ Albums: #6: Bring ‘Em In by Mando Diao

 

This is what you're looking for. Its all right here.

 

Let’s talk for a second about the Swedish.  Meatballs and prefab furniture aside, the Swedish are possibly the best source for rock music today.  When the Hives made the jump from Sweden to America an MTV reporter asked them why they would leave thousands of fans and all their fame to come to the USA.  They responded by saying that we (America) has forgotten how to rock.

How can you argue against that point today when our best-selling rock artists are Kings of Leon and men in girls pants?  Since grunge died, rock has struggled.  The rock/rap thing went way overboard and now we’re in shambles with all this hardcore nonsense.  But this isn’t a review of our nation’s inability to think for itself and actually seek out great artists.  No, this is about me seeking it out for you.

May I then present the revival rock band Mando Diao and their 2002 debut album “Bring ‘Em In.”  First of all, what an awesome title for a debut.  The cover is a photo of the band and it looks like they’re trying to get into a club or show or something.  It’s a subtle awesome, very understated in black and white.

In truth, that is almost what this band is. We’re talking about the roots of rock and roll explored by a capable and talented band.  The first track, “Sheepdog” actually sounds just like the Arctic Monkeys.  It doesn’t sound like a particular song by them, but it sounds JUST LIKE them.

The second song, “Sweet Ride” is worth the whole album by itself.  I don’t understand half the words in this song, but that doesn’t stop me from singing along with it every single time I play it.  You know how sometimes when you’re driving or you’re about to play a game of football or something like that, and you just need to get pumped up?  You shuffle through your iPod and you look through your CD case, and by the time you find what you think you want it doesn’t deliver.  It never does.  Well, “Sweet Ride” is that song you’re REALLY looking for, and it goes like this:


The rest of the album is great, but I promise that you will not get past track 4 before you want to go back and listen to that marvel of modern music again and again and again.

Once you get over it, maybe a year later, you’ll hear other great songs like Mr. Moon and The Band.  Speaking of “The Band,” check out this awesome tid bit of info about where the song came from, coming to you via Wikipedia:

“The Band” is a song from the Swedish rock band Mando Diao. It is about a fight between the band’s two singers. It was written when singer/songwriter Gustaf Norén wanted to leave the band and move away from their hometown of Borlänge, Sweden. Björn Dixgård, the band’s other singer/songwriter, wrote the chorus of the song to Norén after their fight to reveal his side of the argument. Norén returned to the band after hearing Dixgård’s song. The band reconciled, and Norén wrote the verses to the song.

Mando Diao shows a lot of range on this CD, especially for a band in their genre.  They go from garage band styles to blues and back again over and over.  It’s an interesting contrast and it works really well.  For this reason, it earns an A+

The album is available for about $2.50 on amazon.com.  Buy it.

Next entries » · « Previous entries