Albums »All Our Own Work

allourby Sandy Denny and The Strawbs (1967, 1973)

All Our Own Work is an album for those quiet days when the sun is streaming through the window and you have time to stop, breathe, and listen to the world. It’s a folk gem and features one of my favorites songs ever, “I’ve Been My Own Worst Friend” as well as the heartbreaking classic “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”. Sandy Denny, she of the most extraordinary voice, is amazing here but even songs without her are beautiful.

The album was recorded when The Strawbs were fledgling and unable to secure a record deal. Denny famously went on to Fairport Convention and The Strawbs found success with various genres. The tracks were forgotten until released a decade later. Later still, a reissue included more unreleased demos and outtakes.

strawbs

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Posted on April 24, 2013

Albums »Ray Charles In Person

by Ray Charles (1959)

My sticking point with Ray Charles has always been over-production. Those Disney-esque backup vocals and cascading orchestra? It’s too much and distracts from his voice.

So, a live album like Ray Charles in Person is perfect.

Same great songs minus all the fluffy polish. It’s a quick one, blink and it’s over, but you get some classic favorites ( “The Right Time”, “What’d I Say”, “Drown In My Own Tears”).

Most impressive? It was recorded on a rainy night by one guy in the audience with a microphone but it sounds amazing.

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Posted on August 15, 2012

Albums »Hurt: The Best of Timi Yuro

by Timi Yuro

Timi Yuro, where have you been all my life? So crazy that a voice this good is virtually unknown today (or am I wrong? Has everyone been dancing to a Yuro party without me?)

Sometimes the arrangements are dull in comparison to her dynamic voice, but there’s lots to love in Hurt, a long compilation of her peak recording years.

If you don’t trust my taste, Morrissey and Elvis were both huge fans. Plus, she looked like a real life Rizzo.

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Posted on July 6, 2012

Albums »Outlandos d’Amour

by The Police (1978)

I guess I’ve never been a die hard Police fan. I like them, but realized I don’t know their albums too well (is all my information from the radio and best of collections? For shame!).

I was please to find out that two of my favorites by them “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely” are both on their debut album Outlandos d’Amour.

Jim, who’s a much bigger fan than I, has filled me in on their back catalogue and also has his favorite: “Masoko Tanga” while the great radio hit “Roxanne” also makes an appearance.

But the rest is not just filler, aside from an odd poem thing in the middle it’s prefect sunny weather post punk through and through.

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Posted on May 20, 2012

Albums »Disraeli Gears

by Cream (1967)

Man, Disraeli Gears is a fantastic album. It may be less bluesy and more psychedelic (that cover art isn’t lying) than my favorite, Fresh Cream, but the number of singularly amazing songs on this thing is astounding.

While songs like Take It Back, Tale of Brave Ulysses, Dance the Night Away, World of Pain, Sunshine of Your Love, and Strange Brew (I told you there are some doozies) represent the best of the experimentation with traditional music of the 60′s they are  still timeless.

I vividly remember hearing my dad play Strange Brew as a child and having my little world rocked. It still makes me feel transported to someplace wild.

Many bands claim to be “super groups” but Cream was truly super.

Also, somehow this album goes perfectly with the weird weather.

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Posted on May 3, 2012

Albums »Autobahn

by Kraftwerk (1974)

Like practically every art school nerd type person in New York City, I failed to acquire Kraftwerk tickets but not for lack of trying.

Though I’ve seen images and heard tell of the performances I still prefer to sulk a little with Autobahn – an album I would describe as a soothing video game journey of sound.

Ah! I feel soothed already just listening to a few times.

The word “soundscape” in relation to music doesn’t always conjure up wonderful images to me. I usually see boring performances by friend’s boyfriends one might be guilted into seeing – but here it means great things.

It’s a shimmering, sunny day album that takes you to glossy imaginary landscapes.

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Posted on April 20, 2012

Albums,Style Icons: Female »The Party Ain’t Over

by Wanda Jackson (2011)

I have Van to thank for introducing me to this album. He immediately started dancing to the infectious Shakin’ All Over (which played over the ending credits of Bridesmaids before the Game of Thrones premiere).

Always wanting to please the little guy, I found the song on spotify and we’ve spent several mornings getting pumped for the day to Wanda Jackson’s throaty rock and roll.

I blindly assumed The Party Aint Over was from her heyday – the rockabilly 1950′s – but something about it felt indefinably modern.
The fact that one song, You Know That I’m No Good, (one of the best tracks) is an Amy Winehouse cover would have been a clue to a less oblivious listener.

The album was actually recorded last year with Jack White at the helm who has an affinity for awesome but nearly forgotten songstresses (see his Loretta Lynn collaboration a few years back). Miss Jackson, whom I’ve grown a small obsession for, sounds fabulous at 73 years of age.

While not all the songs are exactly my cup of tea – I’m looking at you Dust on the Bible – Blue Yodel #6, Like a Baby, Thunder on the Mountain, and Teach Me Tonight are sure to get your spirits up and fighting.

I’m currently exploring the back catalogue of this ferocious and inspiring rock and roll pioneer who I is also quite the style icon. Sexy and rebellious she is nicknamed The Queen of Rockabilly and dated none other than Elvis himself – but her lasting influence is her music more than her romantic life.

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Posted on April 4, 2012

Albums »Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Soundtrack

by Stu Phillips etc (1970)

It’s hard to make an album as off the wall brilliant/bad as the movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but in its own way the soubdtrack is pretty fabulous.

I sought it out one morning when I was craving a 60′s counter culture girl band sound, that insanely enough, I only found (without extensive searching) in the satisfying throaty sexiness of the fake in-movie band The Carrie Nations.

Songs like of “Look On Up At the Bottom”, “Come With the Gentle People”, “Sweet Talking Candyman” will make you want to shake your mini skirt hips on gogo boots. And not ironically either.

Much of the music’s success comes from writer Stu Phillips and the amazing vocals of one Lynn Carey who, after a brief google search I’ve learned was a penthouse model and hippie/sexy lead singer of a band called Mama Lion. I’m intrigued.

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Posted on March 21, 2012

Albums »Purple Rain

by Prince (1984)

Prince has been filling our apartment with his grooves. From his self titled album and even the Batman soundtrack Van and I have been enjoying his oeuvre.

One of his most fully satisfying albums is the Purple Rain Soundtrack which features so many huge hits that we all know from growing up in the 80s:

The raucous Let’s Go Crazy, the poppy I Would Die 4 U, the amazing titular slow jam (which is a toss up for my favorite) but the incomparable When Doves Cry would have to be my favorite. There’s no way, just no way, to listen to this song and not feel elated.

But this king of soundtracks isn’t just top forty – there are less played songs just as deserving of note.
Darling Nikki is one of Prince’s most joyfully, profoundly dirty while Computer Blue makes me want to star in a roller skating movie or strut a catwalk wearing a mini skirt power suit.

It’s no new news that this is an exceptional album (although people are getting younger all the time and know nothing!) but it’s fun to revisit albums, even those we know by heart especially if it gets a toddler to dance wildly.

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Posted on February 24, 2012

Albums »Marianne Faithfull Live at The BBC

by Marianne Faithfull (1965)

Marianne Faithfull is well known for her later period of husky voiced experimentation.

This compilation of her earlier folk songs recorded live for the BBC, Marianne Faithfull Live at The BBC, sheds light on her younger days as a singer and public figure beyond her kinky exploits with Mick Jagger and lovely hit As Time Goes By (though it’s included).

These are several covers and her floating voice usually lends a soft melancholy. I prefer her version of the Herman’s hermits hit Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat.

Many tracks begin with oh so polite interviews and quaint commentary about her life – having a child, getting married, her parents etc. It makes the crassness of modern pop icons more glaring.

This is mini skirt and flowers in your hair music. I particularly love the original The Sha La La La Song and This Little Bird. Even if some of her folkier numbers leave you unmoved, these will win you over.

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Posted on February 17, 2012

Albums »Come on Pilgrim

by The Pixies (1987)

I vividly remember listening to Come on Pilgrim with headphones in my room after receiving it as a birthday present and being absolutely thrilled by the lyric “you are the son of a motherfucker”. Ha! Foul language and my parents would have no idea!

Beyond that, The Pixies were just game changing for me. Rock music sounded new and different and that old stuff just didn’t work anymore.

The Pixies were angry, whiny, melodic, silly, serious, inventive, and straight forward all at once. Only an underground band at first that only got air time on college radio is now considered “classic” even by old classmates that wouldn’t have been caught dead at the time.

Come on Pilgrim is still one of my favorites and the band’s first rough release. It still packs a primal punch and there’s not a bad song on it.

It’s hard to write about an album that’s kind of been with me for so long and is so familiar but if you somehow missed this one, it’s a must.

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Posted on February 4, 2012

Albums »Bang Bang Rock & Roll

by Art Brut (2005)

If you described Art Brut to me: tongue in cheek, hip, indie, in the same art wave boat as Franz Ferdinand, I’d probably tell you I wasn’t interested.

But songs kept popping up on shuffle and every time I’d be loving if and wondering who it was.

The catchy tunes with Eddie Argos’ stecato speak/ singing are infectious and they manage to be humorous without being cute or obnoxious.

Bang Bang Rock and Roll seems to be universally adored by critics and I agree with them.

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Posted on January 9, 2012

Albums »Best of 2011 – Albums

The best albums recommended this year will make you want to dance in the streets, take you back to a 60′s you never knew, beg you to tap your toes and sing along, make you stretch your head in bafflement, get your mojo revved up, and make you want to make out with both Serge and his lovely Jane. Have fun!

1. Cartagena!

2. Part One

3. Ella and Louis

4. Wicked Witch

5. Grinderman

6. Histoire de Melody Nelson

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Posted on January 1, 2012

Albums,Laughs »2001: A Space Odyssey Soundtrack

Various Artists (but Kubrick’s vision) (1968)

An epic soundtrack to an awe inspiring film.

Listening to the 2001: A Space Odyssey Soundtrack will make your day seem significant and very weird.

And while we’re at it, how awesome is this monolith action figure?

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Posted on November 23, 2011

Albums »Trash Yeye

by Benjamin Biolay (2007)

Benjamin Biolay certainly pulls inspiration from his fellow Frenchman Serge Gainsbourg in style (there’s smoke in these strangely sultry songs) if not in content (it seems the horniness is more low key here – but I admit I can’t speak a lick of French, so who knows.)

Trash Yeye manages to feel modern all the same even as some tracks could be long lost Serge.

Stirring but lazy, this album is actually perfect for foggy days like today.

It goes well with battered woolen trench costs, scarves, and if not cigarettes then at least an espresso and faraway intellectual gazing from cafe windows.

Biolay is a big producer, brother (to Coralie Clement), and lover (once married to Marcello Mastroianni’s daughter) in his home country but less known here.

This will be a nice introduction. I know you’ll get along famously.

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Posted on November 10, 2011

Albums »Part One

by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (1966)

Part One by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band began and it was like putting on a long time favorite album that I had never heard before.

While the Zappa cover Help I’m a Rock grates me in the same way Syd Barrett’s ode to bikes and Donovan’s to his shirt do, incredibly lovely songs like the first two tracks Shifting Sands and I Won’t Hurt You took hold of me completely. I am in love with this album.

I’ll bet money that within a year you will be hearing this in those hip bars. It’s just so lovable, cool, odd, and best of all (in many peoples opinions) a bit of a secret.

But wait! That’s not all. Not only are you getting the scoop on a highly listenable album that rivals (my favorite band of the era) The Animals but you get one hell of a back story.

See, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was a pet project of one Bob Markley, a trust fund jerk (according to band mates) who wanted to be a rock star and had the money to kind of make that happen.
After minimal success he then went on to play the part of a beach dwelling bohemian, landing in hot water with young girls, then even hotter water with some lady in Detroit and ended Howard Hughes style nuts sitting on tons of inheritance in an insane asylum. Read all about it here.

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Posted on November 4, 2011

Albums »Stand By Me Soundtrack

Various Artists (1986)

The whole apartment’s been alive with the sounds of third grade as Jim and I been nostalgic for the Stand By Me soundtrack.

I imagine we weren’t the only ones that treasured that well worn cassette tape.

I choreographed a dance to Lollipop and always somewhat dramatically cried during the title track as the thought of River’s bar fight demise was too much for my eight year old heart to bear.

The album steered me towards a 1950′s obsession that lasted a few years – lucky for me I was hosting birthday parties in the age of Fuddruckers.

Now I’m a mom and I’m old and my baby Van is grooving to his favorite track “Get a Job”.

It’s one of the coolest things about parenthood really, that things you loved from your youth get revisited by new eyes and ears and suddenly being eight years old doesn’t seem far away at all.

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Posted on October 24, 2011