Saturday, August 29, 2009

Best Albums Of The '80s

For the past few months I've been posting lists with the best albums from each year of the '80s on Cool Music Database and finally, last week, the process was completed with the 1989 selection. Those lists have been in existence for several years and were first published in the original Cool Music Central site, hosted on Netscape websites between 1999 and 2008.

Instead of posting the lists on the new blog in their original version, I decided that this was a good opportunity to revise them, rethinking the all-important ranking with the benefit of hindsight and adding albums that I've discovered more recently as I searched the net for previously hard to find releases. The result of all this research is more complete and well-informed lists (still 100% subjective, of course), but it also means that it will take several more months until we have all the lists from the '80s to the present day in one place.

To mark the completion of the '80s part of the project (and before we move on to the detailed '90s lists, starting next month), a list with C.M.C.'s 200 favorite albums of the '80s has just been posted on Cool Music Database. You can see the complete list here and you'll be also able to find it on R.Y.M. with easier access to information on the albums and artists. But before you start clicking away, you can scroll down to watch videos related to the Top 3 albums and to check out the tip of the iceberg, our Top 25 Albums of the '80s:

Sonic Youth - Silver Rocket

The Fall - Tempo House (live in Hacienda)

The Pixies - Broken Face (live)

Top 25 Albums of the '80s

1. Daydream nation - SONIC YOUTH
2. Perverted by language - THE FALL
3. Surfer Rosa - PIXIES
4. It takes a nation of millions to hold us back - PUBLIC ENEMY
5. Songs about fucking - BIG BLACK
6. Zen arcade - HUSKER DU
7. Document - R.E.M.
8. Meat is murder - THE SMITHS
9. The gift - THE JAM
10. Remain in light - TALKING HEADS
11. Closer - JOY DIVISION
12. Psychocandy - THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
13. This nation’s saving grace - THE FALL
14. Sister - SONIC YOUTH
15. Fire dances - KILLING JOKE
18. Life’s too good - THE SUGARCUBES
19. Bug - DINOSAUR JR.
21. The Smiths - THE SMITHS
22. The days of wine and roses - THE DREAM SYNDICATE
23. Over the edge - WIPERS
24. Violent Femmes - VIOLENT FEMMES
25. Sound affects - THE JAM

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blast From The Past Vol.5: 1995-1999

The search into the dustier parts of our record collection continues for the fifth installment of "Blast From The Past". The aim of this series of posts is to pick our 50 favorite albums from a different 5-year period each time. As a rule, only one album is permitted from each group or solo artist. This means that we also have to decide on the best release from each band in this 5-year period.

The focus this time is on the second half of the '90s, the post-grunge come down years. After the tragic end of the Nirvana story and the realization of the music industry that no more easy money could be made by signing up every new act with loud guitars, the gates of the mainstream started to close for decent rock music and the pop charts returned to their normal boring state. Once again, as it was the case in the ’80s, the most intriguing new rock sounds were created in the fringes.

Understandably, the late '90s were nowhere near as exciting as the first half of that decade. I mean, how often can you get albums of the caliber of "Nevermind" or "Rid of me" or "Dirty"? So, after the tidal wave of landmark rock records in the early ’90s, the second half seems poor in comparison, but there was still a great wealth of excellent music to be found as you can see in the Top 50 below.

This time there is no clear choice for the best album of this particular period. The three albums that I feel are the most deserving to occupy the number one spot of our list is "House of GVSB", perhaps the best album of the mighty fine Girls Against Boys (one of the best live acts I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness), "Celebrity skin", the third album from Hole, where Courtney Love set out to make a perfect sounding classic rock record and hit the bull’s-eye, and "The hot rock" by Sleater-Kinney. In the end, the group formed by Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein in Olympia, Washington, took the honor as it was probably the best new band of this period, showing tremendous progress in a short amount of time. Their fourth album from 1999 blends flawlessly the incendiary riot-grrrl sounds of their early work with an overwhelming pop sensitivity and truly brilliant melodies. Their previous album, 1997's "Dig me out" (their first with Janet Weiss as their drummer), is also highly recommended.

Top 50 Albums of 1995-1999

1. The hot rock - SLEATER-KINNEY
2. Celebrity skin - HOLE
5. Deadsexy - SCARCE
6. University - THROWING MUSES
7. The magic city - HELIUM
8. To bring you my love - P.J. HARVEY
9. No joke! - MEAT PUPPETS
10. Scream, dracula, scream - ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT
11. White light white heat white trash - SOCIAL DISTORTION
13. Mellon collie and the infinite sadness - SMASHING PUMPKINS
14. Garbage - GARBAGE
15. New adventures in hi-fi - R.E.M.
16. A thousand leaves - SONIC YOUTH
17. The light user syndrome - THE FALL
18. Murder ballads - NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
19. My brother the cow - MUDHONEY
20. Powertrip - MONSTER MAGNET
22. Hello nasty - BEASTIE BOYS
23. Foo Fighters - FOO FIGHTERS
24. Into the pink - VERBENA
25. The slow-motion world of Snowpony - SNOWPONY
26. The Italian flag - PROLAPSE
27. Too many days without thinking - SWELL
28. Do the collapse - GUIDED BY VOICES
29. The soft bulletin - THE FLAMING LIPS
30. Deserter’s songs - MERCURY REV
31. Keep it like a secret - BUILT TO SPILL
33. In the long still night - GALLON DRUNK
34. Brighten the corners - PAVEMENT
35. Urban hymns - THE VERVE
37. One part lullaby - THE FOLK IMPLOSION
38. Cha Cha Cohen - CHA CHA COHEN
39. The Dandy Warhols come down - THE DANDY WARHOLS
40. I can hear the heart beating as one - YO LA TENGO
41. The Sebadoh - SEBADOH
42. Tales of great neck glory - SAMMY
43. Electriclarryland - BUTTHOLE SURFERS
45. Cobra and phases group play voltage in the milky night - STEREOLAB
46. Maxinquaye - TRICKY
47. All eyez on me - 2PAC
48. Second toughest in the infants - UNDERWORLD
49. Whitechocolatespaceegg - LIZ PHAIR
50. Yield - PEARL JAM

And here's 20 more albums equally worthy of inclusion: End hits - FUGAZI, Sleepy eyed - BUFFALO TOM, Boss Hog - BOSS HOG, Debt and departure - THOSE BASTARD SOULS, Little plastic castle - ANI DIFRANCO, Odelay - BECK, It was written - NAS, Elastica - ELASTICA, (What 's the story) Morning glory? - OASIS, Without you I’m nothing - PLACEBO, Le Tigre - LE TIGRE, Wu-Tang forever - WU-TANG CLAN, The fat of the land - PRODIGY, Dig your own hole - THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, The Contino sessions - DEATH IN VEGAS, Liquid swords - GENIUS/GZA, Blur - BLUR, Indoor living - SUPERCHUNK, Only everything - JULIANA HATFIELD, King - BELLY.

There are certainly dozens more of excellent albums to be considered for this Top 50. Even with the one LP per band rule, the original list had more than 100 albums, but the final cut has to be based on personal taste and vices. Objectivity, as I usually say, is out of the question! This doesn't mean that we wouldn't appreciate your comments on the albums that you think that should have been in here...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Listening Habits 06-07.2009

It's finally time for our summer vacations but before we prepare our suitcases and hang the "Gone Fishin'" sign, we'll be taking a look at the latest batch of fine records that fell into our lap recently.

The "Album of the Month" title for July goes to the latest Jack White-featuring supergroup, The Dead Weather. This time he has taken up the drums and hooked up with Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stone Age and Jack Lawrence from The Greenhornes and, of course, The Raconteurs. Once again, his ongoing mission to deliver at least one classic record every year is accomplished. And with such an illustrious company it would be really hard to fail. The composition of the fiery, blues-inspired rock of "Horehound" is divided almost equally among the four members, while Alison handles the vocals in her customary passionate style, whispering sweet nothings in your ear one moment and exploding the next, howling her intentions to "grab you by the hair and hang you up from the heavens".

The singing style of Jonnine Standish of HTRK (stands for Hate Rock), on the other hand, is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Hypnotic, barely above a whisper and yet completely captivating. The 9 songs of "Marry Me Tonight" seem to be variations on the same slow-burning theme but they possess insidiously addictive powers and they'll have you craving for more just as the last notes of closing track (and upcoming single) "Disco" fade into silence.

Meanwhile, the return of the old school of indie-rock continues. After Sonic Youth's comeback to their indie roots with an album that takes inspiration from their early '90s sound, Dinosaur Jr. continue to build momentum and present another fine, typically ear-splitting LP, while their '80s SST comrades, Meat Puppets, return to form with "Sewn Together". The explosion of the grunge revival seems imminent and Rick Froberg's Obits (the voice of Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes) might be the ones to hit the detonator button. "I Blame You" is a hot lava of guitar meltdown and I'm starting to look for my old flannel shirts just in case. Did I forget to mention that Domino is re-releasing early Flipper albums? Oh, yeah! Punk Armageddon is upon us! And 'till that time comes, we'll be also grooving to the sounds of Viva Voce's "Rose City", The Gossip's "Music For Men" and Dirty Projectors' "Bitte Orca", while complicating things further with Jarvis Cocker and commuting with Jason Lytle.

Top 10 Albums

1. Horehound - THE DEAD WEATHER
2. Marry Me Tonight - HTRK
3. Farm - DINOSAUR JR.
4. Sewn Together - MEAT PUPPETS
5. Rose City - VIVA VOCE
6. I Blame You - OBITS
7. Music For Men - GOSSIP
9. Further Complications - JARVIS COCKER
10. Yours Truly, The Commuter - JASON LYTLE

Top 15 Tracks

1. Treat me like your mother - THE DEAD WEATHER
2. Got nuffin - SPOON
3. Disco - HTRK
4. Sick muse - METRIC
5. Over it - DINOSAUR JR.
6. I'm not you - MEAT PUPPETS
7. Triangle walks - FEVER RAY
8. Heads will roll - YEAH YEAH YEAHS
9. Heavy cross - GOSSIP
10. Angela - JARVIS COCKER
11. Die a little - VIVA VOCE
12. Widow of my dreams - OBITS
13. Sunken union boat - JOHN VANDERSLICE
14. Ghost of my old dog - JASON LYTLE
15. Useful chamber - DIRTY PROJECTORS

Site News: To make it easier to follow our music recommendations and the latests posts of Cool Music Central and Cool Music Database (did you check out our 1988 list?), we are introducing Twitter Updates. You can see the latest updates in the blog's sidebar and by signing up and following us on Twitter you'll be able to find out all our latest music discoveries (or oldies flashbacks, as the case might be sometimes) as they happen. Come on over, it might be fun!

When we return from our short break, we are planing to hit you with another Blast From The Past. This time the late '90s will be under the microscope, selecting our Top 50 albums from 1995 to 1999. We leave you for now with this month's Killer Track, The Dead Weather's new single "Treat me like your mother":

The Dead Weather - Treat me like your mother