453 of 1001 Albums: Joy Division’s Closer

Closer would arrive in 1980 after the suicide of singer, Ian Curtis. The album would go on to be a hit for the band though. The album closely reflects what was to come though. Not only by the cover, but by the dark lyrics including themes of isolation and depression.

The cover of the album was chosen before the death of Ian Curtis. This did cause much concern for the record company. The photo was done by Bernard Pierre Wolfe, and is of the Appiani Family Tomb. The tomb is in Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa, Italy. Martyn Atkins and Peter Saville were behind the cover design, which depicts a funeral. While they might have been concerned, I think it reflects the atmosphere and deeper workings of the album well.

Unknown Pleasures, their debut album, was a hit for the band, so much success was predicted for the follow up. They even had their first United States tour on the books, but it was never done since the singer died before they could embark on it.

My favorite parts of Closer were the instrumentals. With the English post-punk and gothic rock mixings it makes for an innovative blend of genres and sounds that progress the tunes past the 80s. With Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook on bass and guitar they carry much of the rhythm of the music. Stephen Morris contributes with drums and other percussion for a beat you won’t forget as well. 

The talent of the musicians give the best backing there can be for Ian Curtis’ voice. The gothic, baritone voice is given light with the instruments. Most of all I would recommend emotionally preparing for the album. The lyrics are depressing. The sound is goth. For many you might be thinking of death of the singer taking place around the release of this album as well. Putting all that together it makes the experience of listening a lot darker. This makes the album real and honest though. I was in the mood to listen to something I figured I might enjoy and also contributed to diving into a bit of music history. This was the perfect listen for that. It also gave me a new book to potentially check out, Deborah Curtis’ Touching From a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division.

452 of 1001 Albums: Beth Orton’s Central Reservations

 Today was a Beth Orton type of day. With the back drop of the moody, cloudy, and rainy day, her tunes carried a lot more power. They were also uplifting enough to provide a bit of silver lining to the day. Her voice is powerful, and with the backdrop of the soothing music, it’s the perfect balance.

Each song on the album sounds different. One moment it veers into an indie pop inspired tune, or the next more with folk roots. I could see Norah Jones having potentially being inspired a lot by the tune of Beth Orton. The album did start out a little slow to me, but as it continue on I did relate to the songs better, and I enjoyed the instrumentals of each tune, and how it grew the personality of the album as the songs went on. It grows into a beautiful album.

The 1999 album will also bring you back to the late 90’s, and make you think of the music that transcending us into another century. It received great reviews and feedback from the critic audience, and proved a success with fans as well by shooting to the top of many charts around the world. It would also win awards and receive recognition.

Now there are also many artists of varying genres these tunes put me in mind of as well if you enjoy these other ones, like Tori Amos or Sarah Maclachlan. She has a rustic tone to her voicing, and with the wide range of instrumentals adding a variety of emotions to her singles it adds impacts.

It will take time to know whether this will be an album I will go back to, but tunes like “Feel to Believe” still stick with me.

451 of 1001 Albums: Hole’s Celebrity Skin

 Hole is one of the most famous female fronted bands. They may get more attention for the acts of their singer, Courtney Love, than they do for the music sometimes. This album contains some of their most popular work including, the title song, Celebrity Skin. The album did surprise me, and it’s one of the more enjoyable albums I listened to in recent times from the list.

History: The band was returning from multiple different projects, and began work on their third album, Celebrity Skin. You can tell the difference between the other albums in a new polished sound, and you can hear a lot of personal changes since the band found fame. The release of the album would get them positive attention for their new endeavor in a more pop driven sound.

It’s rare that a band can shift sounds slightly and find as much success with it. While there is still the alternative rock driven ballads of the tunes, a more glazed pop sound does drive the beat of the songs. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed that polished sound, but understandably it’s not everyone’s taste.

I did say this album surprised me, and it is true. I wasn’t familiar with Hole’s songs, which is odd because I’ve heard their music for so long. Celebrity Skin still gets a lot of airplay, and yet I had no idea it was them. This album is good outside of that song though. They show a range of diversity in the music arrangement, and no one song sounds the same.

Love has a distinctive voice that leads the song strongly, and it does seem like an ode to 80’s punk rock, female artist. She also though has a roughness to her voicing that gives the songs emotion and attitude. There are elements of it’s grunge inspiration.

Another notable aspect of the album is the guitar work. I think without it a lot of rhythm and even instrumental prominence would have been missing. For fans of Hole’s previous work I think it gives them an aspect they can still enjoy. The lyrical content also show cases a lot of what had been happening in the bands’ personal lives. They had went through loss and the increased fame, and you can the impact it had even in their music through the lyrics, and the way the music is performed.

The album also highlights the music of the 90’s, and as this album was nearing a release toward the end of that decade it sums up how certain sounds and genres had merged before the turn of the century.

450 of 1001 Albums: The Divine Comedy’s Casanova

Next up to listen to was a guy I remember being very interesting to listen to previously. The combination of unique arrangement of instrumentals, and a voice that shows a lot of presence make it hard to forget. The album lives up to the theme of the name though, and as you’re listening you’re not only intent on hearing the instrumentals, but also trying to understand the sentiment of the lyrics.

History: The album is the fourth for the band, debuting n 1996, and the one that would chart their commercial breakthrough. The album after this, A Short Album About Love, is the one I’ve also heard. There are many British influences in this album, and it combines those influences with the talent of the band for an unique sound. Several singles were released from the album as well.

As I was listening to this album I noticed that sometimes I couldn’t help but listen. I would be writing, and then be paused to listen. Now I don’t think this is an album I would go and listen to again, but it is intriguing. It sets the mood for an overall theme, and the instrumentals align to make that vibe almost seem like a soundtrack for the tone they are going for.

Neil Hannon is the singer, and he does have a talented voice. I think I was more so a fan of the vocals than the instruments. Then again, I’m not a person who follows pop closely, which is what this genre most falls into. I found it interesting I stumbled onto The National and The Divine Comedy comparisons, I did pick up on a few crossovers, and I could see where there were influences. I’m a huge fan of The National.

One of the memorable songs from the album is also a single, Something For the Weekend. Don’t get me wrong, there are many memorable songs because they all have an unique flare, but this one maybe the one listeners most likely recognize at first.

Not all the songs are so dramatic. There are gentler ones like “Songs of Love”, which I did prefer. There is a theatrical sound throughout most the album that pours a lot of emotion into the songs. There are songs like “Through a Sleepless Night” that go far to utilize that. They have two types of vocals to strengthen the pattern like from high to low.  The lyrics were a hurtle for me. I don’t know that I personally related to much, but the performers know how to weave together a story with lots of passion.

449 of 1001 Albums: Tears for Fears’ Songs From the Big Chair

I have an open love for music from the 80’s. The middle of the decade brought some of the best music of that time, including Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair. I hadn’t heard the whole album till I got the record for Christmas, and it now stands as one of my favorite albums I’ve heard.

History: This album spawned many singles including the popular ones, “Shout”, and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” It was a hit in multiple countries, and it was received well by critics a like. This album goes carefree in sound, and meshes all types of genres and instrumentals to compose an album that is unique from other new wave bands’ directions at the time. You never know what is coming next on this album. Also, I do recommend looking up the meaning behind the title of the album…

One of the singles I enjoyed from the album was, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” This song is still a popular one from them, and it has modern elements to the tune that keep it appealing even to listen to today. The guitar arrangement is one of my favorite parts, especially at the opening, and I like how the drumming beat of the tune rolls in the rest of the song with the new wave effects. Overall, the song is upbeat, but it’s also easy to relate to in a serious way.

Another favorite single from the song is “Head Over Heels.” This is a song I hadn’t heard from the group before, and immediately liked when it came on. It has a lighter, 80’s vibe, that I enjoy in 80’s songs. The single, “Mother’s Talk”, is also a good tune, and their first single from the album.

The most popular song from the album might be, “Shout.” Before having the album it was the only one I knew was from Tears For Fears. The song is dramatic, and unlike the other tunes not easy listening outside of a certain mood, but I love it. The pounding of the drums, the jazzy saxophone, make this song come together to have intense emotion.

There is a bit of everything on this album, and it will be unexpected. You kick off with the serious and dramatic song, “Shout,” and end with a more culturally drive song, “Listen.” In between there is an array of sound and themes that will provide more than much 80’s music of the time. It’s not a bunch of light beats and romantic lyrics, but instead a bit of rebellious hit back from the band.

448 of 1001 Albums: Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was a deviation in what I’m currently listening to in music. The combination of the rock, folk, and heavily country influence come together to be suiting for Williams voicing. This might just be an album you can turn on while traveling on a gravel road in your car…preferably I hope to be on gravel roads as little as possible.

Williams’ fifth album would be released in 1998 with much acclaim and success. It would even score her a first album to go gold. With the multiple genres layered on the album in the realm of country it is very appealing for many audiences. Not only with the musical talent though, there is Williams’ voicing that impressively conveys the content of her lyrics, and relates to you. It’s definitely one of the pioneering albums in music for women.

credit: qbq903

The imagery of the album gets off to a great start by presenting this image of driving on a car on a gravel road, and then from there your mind can grasp the deeper meanings and feelings you will be grasping in the album. If you’re from the country as I am, then you might remember when roads were more graveled than paved as they are now even. It not only allures to the rough parts of life as we are going over them, but it brings out the nostalgia effect as well if you’re thinking back to certain times.

Enough about me though. The album itself is a good one, but the main thing that will hold me back from enjoying it again is my lack of enjoyment of country toned music. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t like your mainstream country station that was occurring even in the 90’s. It’s much better than that, and the talent shines through all elements of the album.

 Credit: p1nkp4nt3r

The best way to listen to this album might just be turning it on while you’re driving. Not driving to work or to the grocery store, but on a road trip. It’s reflective, and the lyrics are well crafted. Lucinda Williams is a very talented voice, and the power she exudes when singing showcases the talent she has. You can also feel the emotions she has toward her lyrics, and for the listener this brings you in closer to what is being sang.

Fans of genres that fall into rock, country, and folk will find something to like about this album. It has a tone that resonates with the listener, and makes you feel what is being sang. Better than listening to the album might be giving the song a listen to live though to hear the talent.

447 of 1001 Albums: Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication

When you think about it Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around a very long time. There career actually spans back before I was even before. These guys have been making music since 1983, and are working on an 11th album now. One of their most popular albums, and arguably the most popular at that, is Californication. Even at the age of 11 I remember the hits that came from this album.

History: Dave Navarro leaving the band must have let loose a lot of pent up creative energy they wanted to disperse that they hadn’t been able to since John Frusciante had departed the band after Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The album seems to emerge with a lot more maturity than even that album, and it channels sounds that sound more intentional. It would spawn many hit singles as well including “Californication” and the one I remember most clearly, “Scar Tissue”.

Vocals: Anthony Keidis are very noticeable whether he is singing fast, or in a more serious tone. While I can hear the appeal of faster tracks like “Parallel Universe” I’m more into the tracks where not only the instrumentals slow down a bit, but also the vocals. Some of the favorite tracks where I thought the vocals were some of the highlights were “Around the World” or “Otherside”. There seems to be a lot more burst of emotion throughout as well. You can’t forget “Scar Tissue” though, which features some of the most impressive vocals because without the little emphasis on certain words you wouldn’t have near as memorable a song that stuck with you after listening, which is also why it was such a memorable single.

Instrumentals:  I assume that most fans of Red Hot Chili Peppers were very glad to have the guitar work of Frusciante back. While the various other musicians are good the other unique signature of Red Hot Chili Peppers is the way the guitar sounds. With the darker themes on the album the guitar still has a more upbeat vibe that just doesn’t quite match the lyrical content of what ranges from drugs to suicide. For the listener it provides some introspective thoughts while also not getting us down in the dumps listening to the album.

Did I hear any tunes from this album prior to listening?: I was vaguely familiar with this album before listening, but this isn’t one of the albums I had listened to as I had other albums from the band. It lives up to expectations though from the one single I had heard, “Scar Tissue”. There were many songs that kept catching my attention on the album, to be honest though I still don’t prefer the faster ones though and remain a fan of the slower tunes.

I think any album like this could be enough to convert a person into a fan of the band. There is a reason this band has found longevity in their music. It’s remained consistent over the years in making music that stays in line with what fans know from the band, but always keeping it unique. This album provides a different offering with each tune, but regardless of what you like it sounds like the band.

446 of 1001 Albums: The Triffids’ Calenture

I do enjoy 80’s music, but the past couple of albums have been some underwhelming 80’s music. There was The Style Council and now The Triffids. They have the 80’s sound, but there is something missing that completely gets me into it. The Australian singer even has a good solid voice. The album has it’s moments though, but maybe it was the 17 songs on the album that made it lull.

History: This song was the fourth album the band, The Triffids, and despite the sound of the 80’s this album explores themes that are quite deep within in the lyrical content. The sounds are more upbeat than the message itself. Several singles would generate from this album, and not only would fans like the album, but critics would as well. The album also took place in several recording places instead of one.

Vocals: David McComb is the vocalist and guitarist of the band, and he does have a really good voice. I can even tell how people associate liking him to liking Nick Cave if you’re a fan of either one. For McComb I never felt there was a point I didn’t enjoy his vocals. All the way through he keeps the emotions of the songs alive. I keep wondering how the bagpipes got into the instrumentals though? Even though from Australia, does McComb have Scottish interest or descent?

Instrumentals: The instrumentals at times rocked, and sometimes I had a tough time getting into them. Alys McDonald was backing vocals and the drums, Robert McComb was on guitar, backing vocals and even violin, Martyn Casey on bass guitar, Jill Burt on keyboards and  Graham on guitar. There were lots of guitars involved in this album! The instrumentals are well performed, but something about the instruments just ran on for each tune. I’m not sure why, but I preferred the vocals.

Recording: With a rough start to finding a producer, the band still got the album out there, and churned out one that was successful almost all the way around with everyone. The sound had appeal and people liked what they were hearing. For an album where they dropped two songs from though they still had seventeen left on the album. I know sometimes there can never be enough of a good thing, but putting that many tunes on an album can leave the others a tough place to try to shine.

I can see the appeal of The Triffids, and perhaps I will go back and listen again eventually to see if I wasn’t just suffering from fatigue when  tried to listen to all the songs, and was missing listening more intently to songs one on one. The vocals still are what struck me as the most memorable that are going on with me long after listening.

445 of 1001 Albums: The Style Council’s Cafe Bleu

I do really love 80’s music, and for some reason I was expecting The Style Council to sound a lot different than they turned out sounding. Instead of just new wave or rock, you get a bit of jazz fused in as well. It sounds good, and catchy, but it’s not some of my favorite from the 80’s so far, but there is something still unique about the sounds.

History: This album was at first a huge hit in the U.K. It would reach number two on the charts there before finding itself a hit in other countries. Oddly, after it became a hit in the U.S. they even changed the name of the album so it was more appealing to Americans. The album though would prove a success for the band that was trying out new sounds that included more jazz and soul than the straight up pop they dealt with.

Vocals: Paul Weller has the British, 80’s vocals, that seem like they were quite popular then. Honestly, they might be the best bit of the album. Weller’s voicing matches the way they have toned the album with jazz styles as well. The thing is I also had trouble getting into this album, and I felt the vocals didn’t help maintain my emotional interest in the album as it was very well played to match a whole vibe instead of running with some deeper themes of the album.

Instrumentals: You can’t have an 80’s album without a keyboard. The keyboard adds a lot to any interest I did garner. You also have the guitar and bass as well as drums though. What does stand out as impressive is also the added saxophone in the tune and the inclusion of the jazz themed instrumentals. There is also instruments that are enjoyable to listen to like a trumpet.

Recording: If you’re a fan of music that sounds like 80’s, but doesn’t sound too heavily dated to the 80’s then you’ll probably enjoy how this album sounds. It’s not one that got crazy with the sounds of then and decided to include any electronic song into the album. This also makes the album have a more timeless sound that is sure to stick around a bit longer than other 80’s sounds.

I hadn’t heard of The Style Council before this album. I thought it was a good listen, but it might take another listen, before I could decide how it really sat with me after listening to the tune. It has some fun of the 80’s on it, but there is also a whole lot more of a serious sound that I didn’t expect, but perhaps should have with an album title name like “Cafe Bleu”.

Rating 6 of 10.

444 of 1001 Albums: Mariah Carey’s Butterfly

In 1997 this music was huge and I’m sure at 10 I loved the tunes, though I don’t remember listening to Mariah Carey as much. I found some tunes that might have appealed to me on it then. Nowadays though the album sounds incredibly 90’s. As I enjoy the sounds of the 80’s, I am sure the 90’s pop sound is enjoyable to others. There is one thing that can’t be denied though, and that is that Mariah Carey has an amazing voice.

History: This was the 6th album for Mariah Carey, and it showed her music growing in a positive way. The album was a direction for her that continued her growing into the hip hop and R&B genres, which also complimented her voice very well. Critics gave the album mostly positive reviews as well. The album also debuted as well with it being a chart topper.

Vocals: There is no denying that Mariah Carey has a set of pipes that impress. Whether you like the style of music or not there is a lot of talent going on vocally. I feel like almost every other aspect of the music is geared to show off her vocals as well. For this album she has a lot more of a serious tone and it matches the lyrics and vibe of the album as well. I do think it’s incredible the range of the pitch that hits mid-tones, and then very high.

Instrumentals: There are a variety of instrumentals used on this album, but mostly keyboards. It gets the pop sound the heaviest with the inclusion of the synthesizers as well. There are guitars and basses, and drums included as well. While the musician are talented about the goal and idea they are achieving with the sound we can be honest and say that if you’re listening to this album for instrumentals then you’re listening to the wrong album. It’s much more highlighting pop and vocals instead.

Recording: The recording is crisp and dancing, but also very 90’s. There is nothing wrong with the 90’s, but I know that 90’s pop is for a certain audience. I think though that the album is still a good listen if you’re a fan though. No matter what decade we’re living in you can’t change what is talent, and that is there on the album.

It’s nice to finally hear some music that does bring back some nostalgia. I think Mariah Carey has some funner songs than what was featured on this album, but it shows some of her more serious work that obviously will get more attention. I will say though that if I find a boy band album to listen to, or Britney Spears that will bring back more memories though.

Rating 5.5 of 10.