432 of 1001 Albums: Silver Jews’ Bright Flights

Silver Jews doesn’t have a ton of information out there about this album, and I assume many haven’t heard of Silver Jews. They are a nice discovery though, and there are some good gems on this album that made for an enjoyable listen. The country channeled guitar and the mix of indie rock make for a flare that sounds unique. The slack vocals contrast all the care of the instrumentals with little effort though.

History: The album was released in 2001 and would be the fourth album from Silver Jew. The album was first proceeded by an EP with the song Tennessee on the album as well. The album is quite short as well, and released on an indie record company, Drag City. The album is a huge representation of indie rock that is out there. The band was founded by one of the members of Pavement.

Vocals: I was unaware that the band was already broken up. David Berman is the vocalist for the album, and was the only consistent band member apart of the band. His voicing isn’t anything that spectacular, but the way his voicing and the music is arranged it comes out quite fine in recording.  I preferred the female vocalist that can be heard on several songs though. Her voicing is a bit unsteady like Berman’s but the light sounds and the contrast to his deeper voice worked in making it more appealing for me to listen to.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals are made up of some primary recognizable instruments like the guitar, drums and a bass. I’m sure there are even some other stuff weaved in there, but that is what I could make out while listening. I did really enjoy the instrumentals though. The guitar though really stood in making the music a more atmospheric listening experience. I loved how it gave the music a lot more life than the vocals were, and it mixes in this different genre sound that keeps it indie and unique as well.

Recording: The album was recorded in 2001, but actually this album almost reminds me a bit of the 90’s, but that is because maybe it’s on the verge of the decade having just been changed, or the sounds of indie are so timeless they’ve always sounded like that no matter the decade. The album is very effortless though yet it sounds good. It matches the appearance of the album cover to be honest. The band knows who there audience is though, and they shoot to please. I did really enjoy aspects of this album though, and it was very interesting to listen to.

Silver Jews is a band that I actually have come across before, and yet there is so little information on this album. From the first song I was pulled into the album, and sometimes more than other times while listening to the songs available. It’s also heavily channeled for the indie music fan, so if you like indie and you like rock then this is the perfect blend.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

431 of 1001 Albums: Dizzie Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner

Grime music isn’t one I’m familiar with, and this might the first I’ve ever heard of it.  Dizzie Rascal though is a lot different than other hip hop that I’ve heard. His beats are a bit different and the sound arrangements are quite unique. The album though does have some groundbreaking sounds, and some songs that sound really good, but there were some songs I struggled through.

History: Dizzie Rascal was only seventeen when this album was released, and it does sound beyond his time. The album was a critical hit as well. It even ranks in the top 100 of MetaCritic’s top rated albums. The album was looked up to by many critics, and also would be a hit with audiences that discovered the album as well. The album also achieved awards, but seemed to be overlooked by the Grammy’s.

Vocals: Dizzie Rascal has some very interesting vocals. He has a lot of passion and rawness to his voicing that is expressive, and gets the point of the lyrics across well. I felt like he was speaking directly to me while listening. There were some things he was singing about though that were highly questionable though, and as a woman I might not feel extremely comfortable listening to though. I guess I look for music that isn’t so negative regarding my own sex. Otherwise I think the pacing and timing of his vocals shows a lot of talent.

Instrumentals: I couldn’t find any listings that attributed particular people who performed or even engineered the album. Most of the people listed for personnel were for those who had composed the album. This leads me a bit back to my point though about this sort of music, and that is I do prefer the sound of instruments. I get that beats and rhythms can be created great in other ways but I so miss the sounds of musicians who are performing to create all that you here in the other parts of a tune. To comment though there were some moments like on the track, “Fix Up, Look Sharp” that the vibe I enjoyed, and others where the beats were very prominent and wild that I couldn’t really enjoy it like on “Wot U On?”

Recording: The song is recorded in this timeless manner that would leave anyone wondering what year it had been recorded in, which turns out to be 2003. I mean I think you can tell it was recorded in the last decade, but still. I would say with the list of people that contributed though that it shows because the final work was one that many would enjoy.

It’s almost difficult to review this type of music because I haven’t found any yet that appeals to me. This one had more I could enjoy on it, but there were beeping effects along with other sounds that almost took away from the songs that I was enjoying on the album. Dizzie Rascal does have talent with his vocals though, and the other vocalist he involves also add to the emotions of the album.

Rating 5.5 of 10.

416 of 1001 Albums: Common’s Be

Common hit a lot of controversy and critical acclaim with his sixth studio album for various reasons, but it seems he garnered what is still considered a success almost eight years later so it must have worked for him. He brought in a lot of other help to put this album together though, most names you’re probably familiar with.

History: I knew that some of the rhythm and instrumentals reminded me of another artist. Kanye West was the main producer for this album. It was received by audiences well and went on to be one of his best selling albums. Not only was it a hit with fans, but also the critics. Common’s previous album, Electric Circus, had proven to be a failure, so the switch in record companies by joining with one that West owned showed that Common was ready for change as well.

Vocals: Common does have one of the better rapping vocals I’ve heard. It caught me from the first song. What is always a disappointment though is the lyrical content. While Common still has more progressive lyrical content it also relies on just language that is tough to listen to. For many you’ll notice on the opening track, “The Corner” that he enlisted the controversial artist, The Last Prophets.

Instrumentals: There are some good moments with the instrumentals especially when the brass is worked into the tunes.  The flow of the rhythm is very smooth, and on tracks like “Be” it does have one of the better arrangements I’ve heard. It is a different style of hip hop, and the deeper context of what is happening in the lyrics is reflected in the instruments. Interestingly for “Go!” though John Mayer did accompany with Kanye West while Common did vocals.

Recording: With it only being 2005 when this was recorded you can imagine that the album still sounds as current today. On top of that the lyrics don’t differ much from what the genre has always been reflecting since the 90’s. The lyrics do have unsettling messages at times that just veer on being too egotistical at times to enjoy. The recording though is one that will be slow to get dated.

If you’re into hip hop then Common might be suiting to what you like. I would have even been more inclined to enjoy this album more had it not be for lyrics that just unsettled me to listen to. Then again it seems the genre of hip hop does like to push the boundaries. It’s like the new metal of nowadays where people say things that make you scratch your head or lyrics that evoke odd faithless messages.

410 of 1001 Albums: Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black

I’m pretty sure I could feel this whole post with my love for the song “Back to Black.” It gives the album an automatic 7 at the very least. There maybe other songs you remember better from the album like “Rehab”, which is also one of the better tunes from the album. Winehouse creates the perfect atmosphere of vintage and modern in the album, and brings the sounds of classic R&B to the crowd of today.

History: Amy Winehouse wouldn’t get the Grammy for Best Album of the Year, but she would be recognized as Best Pop Vocal. With comparisons to Macy Gray and Sarah Vaughn she was destined to become a classic in the genre. The album has been listed as the best album of the years 2006 and 2007 on several publishing lists. Though the album was a hit before her death, it became even more popular afterward with it topping iTunes sales list.

Vocals: Amy Winehouse as some of the most recognizable vocals in music. In each song she mixes up the range of her voice either to match the slow tempo or fast tempo of the movement of the instrumentals. Her range also soars when she wants it to. In “Rehab” you almost get the full dose of range of what her vocals are capable of from the lower notes to hitting more mid ranges. It makes for something interesting to hear in each song.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals create this smooth sound that has a lot of emotion and feels cool to listen to. In contrast with the depressing lyrics that usually dapple through the songs you have music that matches the tone, but also relaxes you. It’s a great effect, because you at least feel emotionally involved in the music. The brass is what really caught me, because it seems brass is just disappearing from strongly being used in music even though it has a beautiful effect.

Recording: The album was released in 2006 and shot to fame pretty quick. Because of the style of music I think this is music that ages well. It can never be too heavily stereotyped with one point in time. It has a timeless vibe to the sound. Winehouse also have a voice that very strong and has personality. There is no mistaken who is singing when she is singing.

Back to Black has to be one of my favorite albums I’ve heard on the list so far. It’s memorable, it has emotion, vocal talent, and very atmospheric music that just sits with you after you’ve listened to the album. Not all the songs are as strong as the others, but overall the songs provide something different to the album while keeping it in the same tone.

Rating 9 of 10.

395 of 1001 Albums: Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around

Johnny Cash shows that he could make music for as along as he was alive and it never would lose the flare it had as when he started. He is one of the few artists that I know of who released an album with as big of hits as when he reached his peak earlier a couple of decades earlier. There are many songs on this album that are stands out, and you can tell it’s now a man singing with a lot of experience in life. There is happiness, pain, loss, and hope all in this one album. It seems like mostly a guy just wanting to share his life though.

History:  Many of the songs on the album are covers from bands like Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Vera Lynn, and The Beatles. It seems like Johnny Cash took bands you would expect him to cover the least and he decided he would cover them. Johnny Cash would have this album nominated and winner of many awards including at the MTV VMA’s, and at the Grammy’s.

Vocals: The thing that is so appealing about Cash’s vocals are that they are so simple yet they have a lot of emotion and power to them. It seems with age their ability to make an impact while listening has just deepened because each song seems to hit heavy. “Hurt” though seems to have cast this depressing idea around the album though there are plenty of lighter songs that shed light on a brighter outlook. Johnny Cash is one of the few and maybe only 71 year old’s I know to get himself nominated at the VMA’s.

Instrumentals: Cash enlisted some very top notch musical talent to put together the accompaniments on the album as well. While there were many vocal talents to come in to back like Fiona Apple and Nick Cave, he also brought on Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist, John Frusciante to play on “Personal Jesus.” It is a wide array of talent that seems more selectively picked for the album. Not every songs runs as interesting as the next. The album gets off to a way stronger start than the mid-section when it hits.

Recording: This sort of music just seems timeless to me. This branch of country is one that can be slightly modernized, but there is something about the tunes and the way they sound that resonates long after. The album is now 11 years old, but it sounds as relevant and recently released as it was when it first appeared in stores. Also, I think Johnny Cash’s voice is one that many like. It’s soothing, but it also this really masculine quality that isn’t forcing, plus you feel everything he is singing in the songs.

The previous American albums I hadn’t heard of, and I didn’t even know this album was apart of a series. It’s creative though and it shows how Cash had grown as an artist over time. He still was wrapped up in the craft even years later after the time in 60’s where it seems some of his most popular work is. To this day you still hear the tunes played pretty consistently on television.

Rating 8 of 10.

394 of 1001 Albums: Green Day’s American Idiot

I think some songs on this album might be might guilty pleasure. I remember when “Wake Me Up When September Ends” was played at my high school prom and a goth couple did a slow dance to the song on the dance floor. Such sweet memories! Anyways, while every song isn’t as strong as others on this album it does provide some good hooks, lyrics that make you think, and the wonderful pop rock sound. It also reminds me of better times of high school because the only good part was really the emotions I had toward music.

History: So in a first introduction of the word rock opera I found that it is essentially rock music united by a theme or story. Green Day created a rock opera on their album American Idiot after their songs for another album were stole in 2003. The album was a huge success upon release, and reached charts in many countries. It also was mostly a critical success as well, though there were some critics who thought the story wasn’t consistent throughout.

Vocals: Billie Armstrong has a recognizable voice, so when listening to a Green Day song you might pick up that it is them just from that. He has a lot of emotion and power to his voice even when tunes themselves don’t quite make sense, or just lack the story they were striving for. He has a very punk voice though, but it is well put into the punk pop rock environment. “American Idiot” is where he seems to stretch the vocal range a good bit.

Instrumentals: The band consist of two other musicians in the band for this album, but with additional accompaniments. Mike Dirnt was on bass, but also did vocals for a few of the other songs. I think vocals more so than the bass contributed to the unified vibe of the tunes. Also, Tre Cool is on drums, and the drums do add a lot of kick to the music. Billie Armstrong also works on instrumentals along with vocals and I think he creates a lot of memorable riffs for the album like in “Holiday”.

Recording: It hasn’t even been quite a decade since this album was released, but it has that fun pop rock sound that is fun to listen to no matter the year. The themes they were trying to accomplish in the story might be the thins more easily outdated as they appeal to teens a decade ago, and to be honest music with teens changes about as quick as their fashion. As someone who was a teen when this album was released I think it is more nostalgia for my generation now.

Overall, it’s difficult to believe this album was released in 2004. I think it has a few songs that are my guilty pleasure like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me When September Ends”. More so because they remind me of being younger than enjoyment for the music or the lyrics though. Even though when I was a teen I did find these songs appealing. Some of the lyrics are just too obscure and maybe offensive for me to really enjoy the whole album though.

Rating 7 of 10.

392 of 1001 Albums: U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind

It seems that the best of U2 features the producer Brian Eno. He had disappeared from other efforts, but this one and the other I listened to, Achtung. It seems he has the magic to make their albums pop. This album reached a lot of critical claim, and once again after burning out with audiences on their previous albums they need something to once again revive them, so with the tenth album they rung in 2000 with a vamped up sound.

History: The album was much more well received than their previous albums they had doing for the past decade, and it returned to blend the sound from the 80’s back into their music more.This album was also the first album to be nominated with two songs in one category for the Grammy’s. A lot of the songs have personal meanings as well like “Stuck in a Moment” which was written by Bono after the death of his friend, the lead singer of INXS.

Vocals: Bono has really great vocals and that hasn’t faded over time, and with All That You Can’t Leave Behind I think he is utilizing better than he ever has before. His vocals have a lot more passion and emotion toward the lyrics than the other album I listened to, and while he had some nice emotive lyrics with Achtung, there seems to be some deeply personal things you can tell he is dealing with in songs like “Grace” and “Stuck in a Moment”.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals are a tad different, and I think they return to a little more of rock rooted sound. The Edge contributed to not only the guitar but piano and other instrumental arrangements as well and shows a lot of talent on the instruments he brings into the album. The instruments work together to really create an album that sounds good, and it has an emotional impact as much as the lyrics and the vocals do themselves.

Recording: The album is not about 13 years old, and it has stood time well. I think a lot of influences can be attributed to the sound of the album as well. U2 was a band releasing their tenth album, and had been around since the 80’s, and they come back with an album that tops charts and introduces them to a new audience like me that was becoming teens at the time. The span of their audience really does make them one of the hugest bands there is that has been able to also merge successfully with time.

U2 is one that I’m liking more with each album. I think this is one is better and more enjoyable than Achtung, and there are more songs I could personally relate to more. You also have “Stuck in the Moment” which I remember hearing all the time as a teenager going to middle school classes on television the morning before I got to school. It was just something very suiting to hear as a teen stuck going to middle school. I like it still as much as I did then.

Rating 9 of 10.

390 of 1001 Albums: Slipknot’s All Hope is Gone

I think Slipknot can take the award for bleakest album title I’ve seen so far. All Hope is Gone instantly sets the stage though for an album that is rather depressing, and considering their bass player died only a couple of years after the album was released it makes the album just that much more bleak. There are some good guitar ballads, and even a nicely arranged song in “Snuff”, but the hopelessness of this album is a bit much to take, and it took me several days to listen to.

History: The fourth album from the band shows the bands feelings and disappointments it seems with many things. Like for example the music industry and personal anger and other feelings they were dealing with that made the themes of the album. With better reception from critics this time around the band opened with a lot of buzz for this album, and increased the talk with whether they would be returning with their trademark masks or not, but instead just picked new ones to wear.

Vocals: Corey Taylor’s vocals range from the growling sound that seems to have become the new thing to tie in to metal to something that does have real vocal talent with a very melodic voice.

Instrumentals: The guitar is very prominent and has a riff that is memorable, and then the drumming does a lot to create that heavy sound as well. Most of the album is very metal though. As someone who isn’t really a fan of hardcore music like this I didn’t find over half the album something that I am into listening to, plus the instrumentals and the vocals just have this very somber, sad tone that just isn’t very uplifting to hear. The tone is dark, and the fact that a tragic event did follow this album doesn’t help.

Recording: Overall, with the recording I think the theme of the dissatisfaction with the music industry resonates highly with what the band was struggling with while recording this album as they were trying to get it done in a certain way that was okay with them yet still having to battle with other people involved. This album was only recorded in 2008 though, so it stills sounds quite modern and relevant to people still listening to music.

Slipknot just isn’t my type of band, and there are lyrics that just are too questionable for me to even consider listening to songs that might be better on the album. You have songs like “Snuff” that do show a lot of instrumental and vocal talent. Taylor’s vocals really do work when he isn’t doing the growling bit. The themes of the album are too dark though, and I think people already struggle with enough as it is without throwing music on top of that that is just as depressing.

Rating 2 of 10.

382 of 1001 Albums: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

I’m not really sure how I’ve made it this far and not heard of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds before especially with my musical interest in bands like The National and Pearl Jam. Nick Cave has a voice that sounds like a blend of the singers of those two bands, and then the music itself sounds like a crazy blend of many genres ranging from Celtic, to folk, to blues, to various other rock.

History: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an Australian Band who released one of their greatest hits in 2004, and it only took them 12 days to record. It’s been quite a hit universally with a strong critical reception.  The album was something that sounds like a little bit of everything, and contains so many songs that it had to be split into a double album.

Vocals: The vocals are a blend of what I usually like in vocals. They have a lot attitude, they are unique, and it lands more in the gritty or baritone side. It adds the impact to the song and their emotions that is enjoyable to listen to. Unlike, other bands that follow the same voicing tone though the tunes lack in being as compelling emotionally to match his vocals. The lyrics make a little less sense, and the instrumentals don’t always really balance the vocals very well.

Instrumentals: With a very varied album comes a huge arrangement of instrumentalist to contribute to the album. This is the only album I’ve heard from the band, and on this one they went through some major line up changes that I am sure contributed to the change in sound for the band. The song that begins the album is a great way to start though, “Get Ready for Love” sounds so Irish Punk for some reason, and it just pulls you into liking the tune. It’s very catchy. Another song where I think the vocals and the instrumentals worked well was on “There She Goes, My Beautiful World.” It was memorable and has a more serious tone that I just wish would have been pulled more all the way through the album.

Recording:  The recording is quite extravagant. I would have liked the album better had one tone been stuck through the whole album though. If you like one style of song then the next you might not like as much. It would be difficult for me to recommend it to someone because the sound is so varied. There are also some lyrical content that is a bit confusing for me and sort of sets me away from the album and being disconnected.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds offered a lot more songs that were surprisingly good to hear, and it may get me to go back and listen again. With some confusing tones I wasn’t sure what to think all the way through the album. The tone isn’t very distinct. The album has an epic feel it goes for, and feels like a story or movie playing all the way through.

Rating 7 of 10

378 of 1001 Albums: Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head

A Rush of Blood to the Head was an album I always had liked the singles I had heard from, but I had never listened to the album all the way through to know just how good the album is. There are songs less memorable, but ever song really is tremendously crafted to fit where it is on the album from beginning to end. Whether you’re listening to the bigger hits like “Clocks” or listening “A Whisper” it’s difficult to dislike the song.

History: The album was released in 2002 almost a year after the September attacks in 2001. This left much to be spoken about for the band on this album. Mostly though the band wanted to put out a positive vibe for fans with this album. They maintain the serious nature very well in combination with that. The album also garnered much critical attention with the band getting nominated for Grammy’s and other awards. To this day this album is considered a classic in the music world alongside albums like Dark Side of the Moon and Rio by Duran Duran.

Vocals: Christ Martin’s vocals don’t have anything spectacular about them, but it is more so his ability to stay in pitch and convey a lot of emotion with his vocals that have always drawn me in. For some reason some of my favorites like “In My Place” or “Green Eyes” is where he really fuses in the passion to the lyrics. The lyrics also vary so much, but there is a consistent tone to establish the themes.

Instrumentals: Probably the most prominent instrument that most will notice about the album is the piano like on songs like “Clocks” and “The Scientist”. It has a remarkable range that shows as many emotions as Chris Martin’s vocals. The way the other instrumentals tie into the album as well build up the songs in an epic manner or keep it calmer with the more romantic based songs.

Recording: This album was released in 2002 and while that may not seem like a long time ago, I was only in the 8th grade, and probably wasn’t even 14 at the time the album came out. It has aged well and does uphold over time with the sound. I would say this album sounds even more modern than some of their other more recent albums. Alongside that the lyrics are as memorable ever, and there is something about the emotions that still resonates today.

A Rush of Blood to the Head is one of my favorite albums. I hadn’t heard the whole thing all the way through till now, but I grew up hearing more and more from the album over time. A lot of songs on here still remain some of my favorites, and I still get The Scientist stuck in my head from time to time. I even found myself listening to it on my mp3 player the other day.

Rating 10 of 10.