Album 11: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Album 11: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

My oh my, this shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to bands under the radar their is no album more contested than Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Some people call it the threshold that needs to be passed for every new album (and consistently rated in the top five albums of the 90s) , others (as one of my friends called it) ” a mess of hot garbage. It’s literally just young people complaining about life .” Personally I think it’s just… okay. Not perfect or garbage, just okay. Let me explain before everyone grabs some pitchforks and torches.  Continue reading “Album 11: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel”

Album 10: Crazy For You by Best Coast

This indie garage surf rock band in the local town of Los Angeles, Ca. is the epitome of LA  just by it’s name, Best Coast.

This group is true image in exposing the focused LA struggles. Relationships, my cat, the beach, my weed, but not necessarily in that order. Well that might differentiate amongst others but it is very accurate with Los Angeles hipsters. The vibe Best Coast ripple out in their songs are relaxed, fun, and original. I’d point out other blogs describe this group with a combination of other artists who have similar sounds, but I’m not musically inclined or educated enough in indie garage bands to give out great examples.

This album in particular not including its following albums(The Only Place and California Nights) has a taste for exposing crushes, fear of commitment to relationships and friends with benefits to a crisp T. Lead singer Bethany Cosentino sings of love’s roller coasters and wanting to be near “him” all the time and often romanticizes the beach and summer sunset.
This album is a taste of falling in love ( with someone who loves you back) for the first time. It’s  different and fresh, with this comfort you weren’t aware of that can electrify you in strange moments. Like shaking a can of soda and opening the lid slowly letting all that carbon fructose fizz spill out.
A lot of the songs involve Bethany crooning over unrequited love, but this in fact is a mislead in the lyrics. I believe this is the album, of crushes and falling in love. In Boyfriend Cosentino belts “I wish he was my boyfriend, I’d love him til the very end, but instead he is just a friend.” In The End she  admits “last night I went out with this guy, this guy, he was nice and cute, but he, he wasn’t you.”  Whoever this he is, she has fallen for him hard.

Don’t listen to this in dim lighting with a candle burning or headphones. Save that stuff for Iron and Wine. Save it for when you’re driving around at 2 am to a local party or during a quick run at a 7/11 for some kick ass slurpees. It’s meant to be felt with headlights on the road ahead and wind in your hair.

This album exemplifies love in its yearning and longing for someone in its lyrics, but ricochets a summer vibe great enough to play at a party, bonfire, or if lucky enough a mix for someone special, and yes people still do that.

Album 9: The Mysterious Production of Eggs by Andrew Bird

Halfway through my Sophomore year, a friend tried introducing me to a very strange mix of Imitosis by someone called Andrew Bird. It didn’t turn me on to the sound but it planted the seed and beat for me to discover years later, when I heard this. I then spent hours listening to the entirety of The Mysterious Production of Eggs.

Lyrically, there are few musicians I like more than Andrew Bird. It’s hard to describe his songs as each one is kind of  its own little story. Every little song is a unique look at some of the creative parts of Bird’s mind back in 2005.

The entire A side plays off like so deceptively  innocent, as the first few times you listen to it you won’t notice the lines that talk about “accidental suicide, the kind where no one dies” in Sovay, or “you really should have died, stretched out on the tarmac” in  A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left (which is one of my top ten favorite songs of all time).

Of course Fake Palindromes takes the cake of for A sides deceptively nice song, with it’s fun beats and electric violin, which is a real instrument that I never knew I needed in my life. Why is it so frightening? Perhaps it’s the lyrics that describe a “dewy-eyed Disney bride” who has formaldehyde in her blood, has committed  fratricide ( or the murder of one’s brother or sister), has blood in her eyes and wants to “drill a tiny hole in your head.” Nightmares guaranteed!

Luckily we get a break from the Lovecraftian nightmares on side B about skin so pale and cold that it is transparent again the buildings downtown in Skin Is, My or how MX Missiles tells us that the subject of the song was “in the ground in late November” because that they weren’t as impervious as they thought. Did I say

Even more bleak is Tables and Chairs, which is just about the end of the world. Bird croons that “after the fall there’ll be no more countries…we’re gonna live on our wits, throw away survival kits.” Of course all is not doomed in the cheerfully bleak future as the song ends claiming that even after all this, there will be snacks.

Then there’s the ultimate gut punch in the form of Happy Birthday Song, the closer for this album. There’s no veil here, Bird just wants someone to sing it to him. He knows that it’s a bit cliche and maybe you don’t mean it but sing it anyway. Sing it “like it’s gonna be your last day here on earth.”

So go ahead, no matter how bleak tomorrow is, face it with a smile and beat that makes you happy.

 

 

Album 8: West Side Story Original Movie Sountrack

As we come to the end of February, it’s impossible not to reflect on the meaning of relationships. Is it really just some kind of biological need to make more people, or is it a real choice that we have? No matter what boat you fall in, we can all agree that there are those who take it to the extremes, and yet are somehow the ultimate love birds. Yeah Romeo and Juliet, I’m looking at you. Lets look at the most famous adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous story that is West Side Story.

I’ll be honest, I hate this show with every fiber of my being. Perhaps it was the connection to my least favorite Shakespeare play, the way death is romanticized, or the fact that having to watch this in school took something away but no matter the cause I can never go through a full showing of this movie. I always stick to the few songs I enjoy.

West Side Story set the standard for movie musicals at the time, and outside of Singing in the Rain is still one of the most successful in its genre.It’s a important film that many view as nearly perfect, or having very little flaws. Well, outside of the whitewashing by getting a white actress to play a Puerto Rican, but it was another time period so there’s no way that would happen today, right?

Right off the bat, the Prologue does a wonderful job creating a great urban atmosphere. You feel the city for all it’s dirt and grime, hear crowds and cars. It’s a wonderful piece of that when added to the Overture is one of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s best. Then all that slips as we get to the Jet Song. While the intro line of ” Once you’re a Jet…” may be famous, the song itself isn’t.

Luckily after the short but enjoyable Something’s coming, we hear more of that wonderful orchestra in Dance at the Gym, which is just a blast. Outside of one other song, which we will get to, this is my favorite piece. A fun time to listen to, this song makes me want to dance.

Of course, this being the month of love, there’s two songs we are here for. We’ll start with the obvious in Maria. A song that is tried and true, Maria may just be the song I like the least in the whole film. It’s sung beautifully but it’s just, somehow desperate. You just met this girl, that’s not love!

At least Tonight is a wonderful ballad, lyrically it’s much better. The stage version in particular does a great job of showing the great contrast of this budding love and the impending doom of the two gangs preparing to fight. Of course, we only remember the duet and fact that these kids have known each other for hours!

Why can’t all these songs be like the great Officer Krupke and tackle the fact that the Sharks feel like they’ve been let down by America (the place) so they owe nothing to no one! Perhaps even the fantastic America (the song) where you have to face the fact that “…things are alright in America, if you are white in America!” Lyrics that some still hold true today when you look at the political climate.

Nope, we stick to the “sappy” story of two kids thinking just based on looks that they were meant to be, and that life is fun and games until you stab someone to death.

Album 7: I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty

Last Christmas, something rather funny happened between my girlfriend and I. In my attempts to buy her a gift that would act as an extension to her birthday gift earlier that year, a record player I had purchased from a local store, I missed the clues that we were both looking for the same gift. In my own way, I followed the footsteps of people and have done the same when it comes to this album and missed the point entirely at first chance.

Continue reading “Album 7: I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty”

Album 6: Love Songs by The Beatles

Album 6: Love Songs by The Beatles

Ah, the week before Valentine’s Day. If you listen closely you can hear the sounds of hundreds of thousands of people panicking to make last minute dinner reservations and purchase flowers online. It sounds quite a bit like a car crash, but with the most romantic of intentions.

While you’re out  and wondering what to do to save the date, why not go with a classic and play them a song that you think helps describe how you feel for them. Who better to help with that then The Beatles, writers of some of the best love songs of all time.

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Album 5: Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye

Album 5: Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye

Ah, February the month of love. The time of the year when men and women from all over try to impress the ones they love with heartfelt gifts and sentiments of undying love. Of course, if you’re like the statistical average of Americans then you’re single and slightly bitter about all these couples being happy. We’ve all been there, a bit heartbroken, contemplating life without them, and maybe seeking some kind of revenge for lost love.

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Album 4: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning by Bright Eyes

I’m surprised it took me this long to purchase I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning by Bright Eyes, much less let it be the first album I purchased this year. I have a few songs from the album isolated  in my library but whenever I went to go buy it, I always found something else. Something I recognized better or was just more in the mode for.

So why spend the twenty dollars on an eleven year old album? Well it was just the right time.

Continue reading “Album 4: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning by Bright Eyes”

Album 3: Please Please Me by The Beatles

I have this great book  called 101 Essential Rock Records by Jeff Gold that lists, well, the 101 essential rock albums every  album collector should collect. It’s great, I’m not being paid to say this, and I highly recommend it if you collect records. The very first  album that this massive book suggests is Please Please Me by The Beatles. Guess what my first Beatles album was?

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Album 2: Aladdin Sane by David Bowie

I need to be honest here, I never intended for Aladdin Sane to be the second album on the site. I planned on waiting until April for the Classic Rock section as I hardly feel qualified to give my thoughts on such a stellar Bowie album now, but life doesn’t always play out how you want it to.

I don’t wish to reduce this to either a senseless grab for attention, but merely as a means to express the spirits and ideas of a man who deserves every bit of praise.

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