Another week has passed and I've come another step closer to autumn. The leaves up here in the mountains change rapidly. Over the past week, the scenery crossed the threshold to looking more like Fall than Summer. As a result, my music tastes are beginning to change again. I find myself once more drawn to the moodier pieces and nostalgic listening. A good number of reviews in the next few weeks will be from my recent vinyl splurging as well as from the box records recently unearthed by parents. But as always, I will try always throw in some new things for the indie kids.
Guns N' Roses - Patience: This is a recording of an acoustic gig the band did at CBGB's in 1988 where they are debuting songs from their then upcoming EP "GNR Lies". I've had this bootleg for years, but around two years ago, my disc stopped playing. Thankfully, the recording showed up again last week and I've been listening to it a lot ever since. This may be the most relaxed this band has ever sounded. The performances of both "One in A Million" and "Patience" are only the second time the band every played the songs and they both outstanding. "Move to the City" (on of the inspirations for my novel Tomorrow, Maybe by the way) is crazy good too. This isn't just for die-hards, this is a must have for even any casual fan of America's greatest rock n roll band.
Sir - The Night I Met My Second Wife: This album dates back to 2000 and is from the relatively unknown Australian band Sir. This was given to me by a friend as I'd never heard of it either. More people definitely should hear it though. There's a darkness to this album that is like the sound of ghosts whispering over a slowcore dreamscape. Not unsurprisingly, there is a lot of Nick Cave influence (as everything from Down Under seems to be either Nick Cave or AC/DC inspired), but it sounds like early Nick Cave wondering through a twisted Wonderland.
The Delta Sisters - Music from the Old Timey Hotel: It must be known that I'm sucker for "old timey" music and had to give this a listen when it popped up. This 1981 album is good piece fiddle americana. Another interesting thing is that a number of the songs are in French. Who would have thought French and American old timey folk would mix well? It's fun album if you're into this sort of thing. A nice find.
Nina Nastasia - Dogs: Another lost gem from 2000 given to me by the same friend (thanks Dan). On the surface this is just another singer songwriter acoustic folk album, but when you really listen to it, it's quite remarkable. It's easy to compare it with Elliot Smith's more lo-fi albums, telling the same sort of observed stories of being lost and confused. But there's also an anger in some of her observations, making some songs sound to me what Courtney Love might sound like making folk songs. All in all, quite exceptional.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - thank god for mental illness: This 1996 album for me is the band at its absolute peak. Coming right after their other masterpiece Their Satanic Majesty's Second Request, everything is clicking for the band at this point. It's perfect blend of the weirdest period Beatles and Stones, taking that psychedelic madness and interpreting it into the chaos of L.A. in the '90s. Absolutely great.
Pat Benatar - Live From Earth: I've been on a Pat Benatar kick ever since I watched the "Love is a Battlefield" video on VH1 Classics On Demand a few weeks ago. When I was digging through my parents' box of found albums, I snatched this one and it's really quite good. Listening to it, it still sounds very NYC and you can hear the influence she still has on NYC indie bands. It's a clever mix of new wave pop and something heavier with the Judas Priest like riffs on "Heartbreaker". Guilty pleasure? Maybe, but I don't think so. I think it's one of the few lasting sounds from an era of forgettable albums.
Those Poor Bastards - Hellfire Hymns: The Madison, WI band's 2007 second album falls between the two I already have and is just as good as those. Along with O' Death, Those Poor Bastards are the standard bearer for gothic country / death folk. This album reads like tales of damnation and grief. In many ways, this is the natural progression of Johnny Cash into the modern age. If you don't know this band, I highly recommend checking them out.
Alice Cooper - Easy Action: Over the last year, I've grown to love Alice Cooper's early catalog and when I saw this on vinyl at a recent record sale, I had to have it. It's the band's second album dating from 1970 and sounds very much like their 1970 Detroit contemporaries, The Stooges. It's straight up garage acid rock and a little more experimental than the stellar albums that follow. Side A is simple fantastic. Side B is a little messy.
Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida: Of course I know the title track inside and out, any child that grew up listening to classic rock radio does. But I'd never bothered to check out an entire album until the other day. It opens weakly with two hippy pop tracks, but then gets considerably stronger. The rest of the album is a solid Cream impression that makes for a decent psychedelic classic rock album.
Janis Ian - Between the Lines: Another album rescued from my parents that I was about to leave until my mom told me it was one of her favorites. I decided it was worth a listen. As soon as I put it on, I realized that I knew every song from my childhood. It's a contemporary folk album from 1975 that is very reminiscent of Carol King's Tapestry. "Seventeen" is the big hit song on here and it's still a great emotional pop song. Other stand-outs are "From Me to You" and "In the Winter."