Friday, 6 November 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #13 - Abbey Road (1969)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Come Together
2. Something
3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer
4. Oh Darling
5. Octopus's Garden
6. I Want You (She's So Heavy)
7. Here Comes The Sun
8. Because
9. You Never Give Me Your Money
10. Sun King
11. Mean Mr Mustard
12. Polythene Pam
13. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
14. Golden Slumbers
15. Carry That Weight
16. The End
17. Her Majesty

So here we are. With Abbey Road, The Beatles' thirteenth, and last, recorded album Beatle-A-Day!!! comes to its end.

Oh, but what a way to end.

For me Abby Road is the fab four's definitive statement - whilst the album's A side displays the way the band functions as the musical outlet for four very distinct individuals (the transition from Octopus's Garden to I Want You (She's So Heavy) still boggles my mind!) it is the B side where Abby Road's magic really is.

And magic is certainly what I would call it; with the band practically non-existent at the time of composition it is amazing that any work was produced at all, let alone something displaying the Abbey Road Medley's cohesion, unity of purpose and all round good vibes.

Of course, I'm not saying that musically the Abbey Road Medley is a well considered whole; with it's unflagged tempo changes, sudden moments of silence and reoccurring musical motifs the song is very much that description's antithesis. Instead I believe that it shows the way the band (and in particular John and Paul) were still capable of writing together, with utterly spectacular results.

With The End The Beatles saga comes to its close and in this one short piece the foursome sum up the entirety of The Beatles' recording career. The song features Ringo's only drum solo, and is then followed by three distinct guitar sounds which gradually work together to become one cohesive guitar line. George's guitar is technically minded and displays an intense interest in rhythmical patterns, Paul comes in second and gives the piece an elegantly simple series of licks, and finally John enters the fray with his buzzsaw distortion and emphasis on rhythm over melody.

This majestic showcase of the band's individual talents then gives way to a vocal harmony in which the band declare that "in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make" - a beautifully succinct summation of The Beatles' entire ideological stance. In this one moment I believe Abbey Road would justify it's place at the end of The Beatles' timeline, but almost every single song on the album is equally as good - I even like Paul's addition of Maxwell's Silver Hammer now!

Through Beatle-A-Day!!! I have held firm to my analogy that The Beatles' lifespan mirror's that of a human life, and nowhere else does this ring more true than on Abbey Road. Whilst writing it the lads from Liverpool knew that it would be their last album, and it shows. The album seems to have been designed to be their definitive statement, and it certainly is that - throughout the album their are musical references to The Beatles' entire history. In pulling these together it serves too allow the four to look over their accomplishments and, in an almost existential fashion, attempt to unearth what their existence meant - and in the final line the four nail it.

I find Abbey Road to be a genuinely cathartic experience, and one which leaves me with a tinge of sadness - in recognizing their own mortality The Beatles reflect that thought back into me. Due to its place in history and its musical content I think that Abbey Road is without a doubt the sixth Beatles masterpiece, and something everyone should have in their collection.

To close Beatle-A-Day!!! I just want to say that writing this feature has redefined my relationship with The Beatles, and made me appreciate them all the more; even going as far to declare that they are in all honesty the band with the greatest body of work that I am aware of. There may be more instant music, and even music I listen to more often, but it doesn't change the fact that The Beatles made much of the music occurring today possible, and went so far as to not only redefine music, but the way it is written, recorded and consumed.

If you haven't already these are the six Beatles albums that I think everybody should at least have heard in their entirety as they are the foundation for much that has come since:

1. Rubber Soul

2. Revolver

3. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

4. Magical Mystery Tour

5. The White Album

6. Abbey Road

...and with that we are done! Hope you enjoyed this feature as much as I did!

sam sam

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #12 - Let It Be (1970)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Two Of Us
2. Dig A Pony
3. Across The Universe
4. I Me Mine
5. Dig It
6. Let It Be
7. Maggie Mae
8. I've Got A Feeling
9. One After 909
10. The Long And Winding Road
11. For You Blue
12. Get Back

Let It Be was an album I expected to dislike, just because of the place it holds in The Beatles' back catalogue - officially the last released album I resented the fact that The Beatles' final statement would be seen by many to be a regression, albeit an intended one, in musical style.

Luckily for me there are two things which occurred to make me rethink my opinions of the album; whilst the first surrounds the music's release the second concerns the material itself. Firstly there is much more widespread acceptance that Let It Be was in fact the foursome's penultimate release, something which instantly erases any anal doubts I might have had about the way this album seems out of step with the The Beatles' overall career arc.

Secondly, and after subsequent listens, I actually really enjoy the album; this is in no small part due to the fact that it is a completely fails to accomplish its original goal. Paul pushed incredibly hard after the fracticious White Album sessions for The Beatles to begin playing, writing and recording as a band in an effort to get "back to basics" (Paul's words, not mine!). On principal I tend to dislike instances when bands, or artists, attempt to return to an earlier stage in their development - not only do I find it disingenuous, but I also find it unnecessary. If I want to listen to something akin to The Beatles' earlier work I will just put on an earlier release; after all why should I choose saccharine over sugar?

Having not seen the Let It Be film (in which the album's composition is documented) I can't comment on how organic the music's composition was, but listening to the finished piece it seems fitting that it was handed to Phil Spector to master. As a notorious over producer he seems like an incongruous fit for a "back to basics" approach, but in the light of the way the band dissolved during the writing process he seems perfect the perfect choice for a band who seems to have little faith in Paul's original concept.

Musically the album is certainly less eclectic than the White Album's most tangential moments, but it does seem to maintain that album's cleanliness; at no point does the listener ever feel completely overwhelmed in the same way Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band frequently took pleasure in. Having said this, some may cite Spector's involvement as a contradicting this point, but I think that any such cries ignore the fact that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band felt so excessive not because of the number of instruments involved, but the way they all pulled in different directions.

Spector's overblown additions to the release (including choirs, organs and more) don't actually detract from the release for me; perhaps the most obvious moment of their inclusion is during the titular Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road. For me at least, this theatrical bent seems fitting with the materials' sentimental nature, and, as such, emphasises The Beatles' musical work.

Coming to the content itself there are several classic Beatles songs on this release ; for me songs such as Dig A Pony, I Me Mine, Dig It (what a song title! Yeah!), I've Got A Felling and Get Back stand tall with The Beatles' best, and for that I think Let It Be is in fact a damn fine album.

After the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album debacle it's very nice to find a hidden gem in The Beatles' catalogue - I think that Let It Be will now be getting a hell of a lot more play than I ever expected before embarking on Beatle-A-Day!!!

Of course, in comparison to the band's final offering Let It Be looses a great deal of its lustre - Abbey Road, as I will post tomorrow, truly blows it out of the water.

sam sam


Hello there dog show hello and general Sam Mildner fans!

I'm so sorry I haven't been in touch or posting recently, but I promise there is a perfectly good explanation for this * stares at shoes in an embarrassed fashion*. I haven't even been seeing my London friends or housemates as much as I'd like over the last few weeks, but I can honestly say that THIS IS NOW OVER!!!!!!

My absence from the internet, and life in general, is due to the fact I've spent all this time prepping my portfolio and interview skills (ha!) for my application to the London Film School. I was informed that I was granted an interview on the basis of my admission piece (original three minute script, storyboards and general forms), and its just been go-go-GO!!!!! since then. Long story short I had the interview at the end of last week, and received an email on Wednesday evening stating that I had been accepted onto the Filmmaking MA, starting on January 11th.

With this out of the way I'm planning to carry out the big dog show hello plans I hinted at in the last few entries, hopefully making the blog a lot more of a back and forth between readers and myself - I can't stress enough how useful feedback is to me and the blog's general development.

In addition to this I've also uploaded the RSS feed to my facebook account; if you're reading this on there then well done for finding it, but please have a pop over to the real blog if you become a regular reader; it's where your comments will be truly public, your web-traffic gets the blog more noticed, and also where you get to see all the lovely page formatting I do *sigh*!

Just before I go I'd like to direct your attention to my, now sadly ex, housemate's blog Diary of a Shinjuku Thief. Jules writes mainly about film, and is damn good at it so give his blog a glance and a comment or two - I'm pretty sure that he would, just like me (hint, hint!) appreciate any feedback you give him.

That's a;ll for now folks, hope you're all happy peeps!

sam sam

Monday, 19 October 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #11 - Yellow Submarine (1969)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Yellow Submarine

2. Only A Northern Song

3. All Together Now

4. Hey Bulldog

5. It's All Too Much

6. All You Need Is Love

7. Pepperland

8. Sea Of Time

9. Sea Of Holes

10. Sea Of Monsters

11. March Of The Meanies

12. Pepperland Laid Waste

13. Yellow Submarine In Pepperland

I'll go into my Beatle-A-Day!!! post on this album by stating that after listening to Yellow Submarine several times I'm unsure of whether I should include this in the series of a posts; aside from the confused issues revolving around its classification (is it really a full album?) it just isn't a very satisfying release.

As I am a huge fan of the Yellow Submarine animated movie (along with The White Album it was the other Beatles artifact which was eagerly pushed on me by my parents) the biggest shock from the Yellow Submarine album was that it didn't include all of the songs from the film; the omission of classics like Eleanor Rigby, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Nowhere Man and With A Little Help From My Friends is simply baffling.

I understand that this was rectified with the 1999 release of the "songtrack" album accompanying the film's re-release, but it still doesn't change the fact that the original soundtrack release is an unmitigated failure.

On the record's A side there are six bone-fide Beatles songs; the problem with this is that of these six only four are new to this release, and of these only two were recorded specifically for this release (namely Hey Bulldog and All Together Now). As such the album's first half seems like a mish-mash of Beatles material from several eras, and its unintended incoherence leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

As questionable as the first side's claim to be a Beatles album is I was most unprepared for what lay in wait on the record's B side...

If you come to the an album branded as being by The Beatles I don't think it unreasonable to expect the album to feature, at best, freshly written material from the foursome; however, at a push I am prepared to accept the band performing others' material (as on the band's earlier works).

What I would not expect is material neither written or recorded by the band. For an album which is widely considered to be the band's eleventh full album I find it disgusting to find that approximately half of its run time is instead composed by the band's producer and then performed by session musicians.

At this point I think it academic to even debate the musical merit of the score, but I will do so just to stick the boot in a little further; it is in no way the worst film soundtrack I have ever heard, but it is also far, far, far from even being a good one. In a film which is effectively sound tracked by The Beatles' own work these symphonic pieces serve more as transitions between Beatles material, and as such don't really have much of their own personality.

In closing I would say that this release would be, without a doubt, the worst release that the normally Fab Four ever put their name to - however I don't even feel vindicated saying even this since I wouldn't even consider it a Beatles release.

As such the best I can muster is the following: don't buy this knock off piece of money grabbing non-Beatles material. Instead either purchase the 1999 songtrack or download the four new songs on iTunes - Hey Bulldog is a rocking song so don't miss out just because of this release's disappointing nature.

sam sam

Sunday, 18 October 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #10 - The Beatles (The White Album) (1968)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

Disk One

1. Back In The USSR
2. Dear Prudence
3. Glass Onion
4. Ob La Di Ob La Da
5. Wild Honey Pie
6. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9. Martha My Dear
10. I'm So Tired
11. Blackbird
12. Piggies
13. Rocky Raccoon
14. Don't Pass Me By
15. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
16. I Will
17. Julia

Disk Two

1. Birthday
2. Yer Blues
3. Mother Nature's Son
4. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Helter Skelter
7. Long Long Long
8. Revolution 1
9. Honey Pie
10. Savoy Truffle
11. Cry Baby Cry
12. Revolution 9
13. Good Night

The White Album (or The Beatles as it is officially titled) will always hold a very special place in my heart, as it was THE Beatles album of my childhood. Both my parents enthused about it, and I was so intrigued by why this was that it was one of the first albums I recorded to Mini-Disc when I received my player one Christmas morning...*sigh*

At the time I found the album's much paraded excellence rather hard to pin down; unlike Magical Mystery Tour or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band the album does not have any overt structure or tone. This unquantifiable essence made me slightly wary of the album, I understood that it contained some truly excellent songs, but couldn't fathom why songs like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da would be next to much lighter songs, such as Wild Honey Pie.

Through writing these Beatle-A-Day!!! post though I have a much greater understanding of the album's overall structure; it came at a point of the band pulling violently apart, and as a result is the sound of four band member's very different musical interests combining and conflicting. When you consider the intense pressure on the foursome it is astounding that they created such a sprawling release, which almost seems to serve as a snapshot of all Western pop music released to its date of release.

As with musical styles the album's lyrical focus and tone also have no coherent threads; whilst some are overtly political others exist in the fantasy "Nowhere Land" of The Beatles' mid-period, others speak of other Beatles' songs (Glass Onion perhaps exemplifies this best) and Rocky Raccoon even serves as a narrative set in the deep south - and told with an eager Southern drawl to match.

However, I don't think this lack of direction to be of any detriment to The White Album; in fact I think it to be its greatest asset. Because of it we have The Beatles' most rocking material (Back In The U.S.S.R., Why Don't We Do It In The Road, Birthday, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey and the apocalyptic, and huge personal favorite, Helter Skelter), their most emotionally affecting songs (Dear Prudence, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Blackbird)... get the idea. I could list almost every single song in such a list, with the result being the same - that you realize that The White Album is one of the most important albums of the century, if not the single most important release. I was originally planning to cover each disk of The White Album in a Beatle-A-Day!!! post of its own, but when I came to write this post I realized that whatever I typed for the second disk would be more or less the same as the first post, just using different examples.

Aside from giving blow by blow descriptions of songs (which seems to me to be a worthless endeavor, if you listen to the songs you don't need me to ineffectually describe how they sound!) I don't see what else can be said about The White Album; as nebulous as it is I think it impossible to make many more sweeping statements about the album's style, conception or reception, and as such anything else delves so far into minutia that it renders itself worthless.

My final statement on the album though is that I believe it signals the end of The Beatles in more ways than one. Aside from the quarrels, disputes and tension it also shows a band becoming more musically expansive than ever before; to the extent that I consider it to be the first album of The Beatles' late period, or to use Beatle-A-Day!!!'s over arching analogy the signaling of The Beatles' ascension to adulthood.

The album has some moments of real darkness and cynicism which seem ill-fitting with the earlier "Love" period, and herald the maturity of the four's musical careers. As such it is unquestionably The Beatles' fifth masterpiece, and a watershed moment in Western culture.

In this context the experimental Revolution 9's statement that "Everyone of them knew that as time went by they'd get a little bit older and a litter slower, but..." resonates uneasily in my mind - did the four know that the end wasn't that far off?

sam sam

Monday, 12 October 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #09 - Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. The Fool On The Hill
3. Flying
4. Blue Jay Way
5. Your Mother Should Know
6. I Am The Walrus
7. Hello Goodbye
8. Strawberry Fields Forever
9. Penny Lane
10. Baby You're A Rich Man
11. All You Need Is Love

Before we jump straight into this entry of Beatle-A-Day!!! I think it prudent to explain exactly which version of the release this post will cover. Magical Mystery Tour was released as a double EP, with the subsequent US release adding other singles - it is this US version which is held up as definitive, with the new remasterings using this version. As such it is this expanded edition we will be looking at today, and my lord it's pretty good.

After researching the album's muddled release (and largely negative reaction to the TV film of the same name) I wasn't expecting a coherent release, more so a collection of songs featuring Beatles classics such as I Am The Walrus, All You Need Is Love, Strawberry Fields Forever and Hello Goodbye.

After several listings though I find the release to function as an incredibly coherent release all things considered - after several more I came away with the impression that Magical Mystery Tour is in fact one of my favorite releases by the Fab Foursome.

My reasoning for this is that it works perfectly as an accompaniment to the previous Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band; thematically it continues in the same blissed out vein of drug experimentation, but features a much cleaner and less ornate instrumentation. Songs like Fool On The Hill and Blue Jay Way are no less experimental than the Pepper material, but feel much thinner and, dare I say, more precise.

As with the last few albums it seems fruitless to give a blow by blow description of the release's "best bits", as doing so would result in an explanation of every song on the album. What I will say though is that Blue Way Jay in particular strikes me as one of The Beatles' best works - it's affected vocals, reversed drum samples and dreamlike momentum lend the song a timeless appeal and stands foremost as one of the four's most out there pieces.

All in all Magical Mystery Tour took me somewhat by surprise, and from my revisionist viewpoint deserves to be reinstated as The Beatles' fourth concurrent masterpiece; it is emotionally affecting, exciting and musically deft - to close it's certainly something that you should listen to more often than you already do :-p

sam sam

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Wednesday Compilation - 7th October 2009

Download link will follow at the bottom of the post.

Track 01 04/10/05 Sunday by Fantomas (from Suspended Animation)

Without any doubt Suspended Animation is Fantomas' most unhinged release, and an album which I still find stupidly brutal to this day. This track is actually one of the albums more subdued numbers, but I chose it because it has such an awesome set of riffs in the middle which recall King Buzzo's day job in The Melvins.

In all this is the Fantomas release I find myself returning to the most; after this album everything else (bar Delerium Cordia) feels like a test run for this. The album's precision is even more scary when you consider that they played songs from this album note for note when I saw them live - seriously, one of the tightest things I have ever seen!

Track 02 Gobbledigook by Sigur Ros (from Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust)

In retrospect I was supremely disappointed with this Sigur Ros album, mainly because the whole album did not reflect the genius of this song - as a pre-release song it tainted all subsequent listens to the album with an air of "why can't it all sound like that Gobbledigook song?!"

Oh, but what a song it is. With a drum led forward momentum (and a distinctive hint of Animal Collective) the song is unlike any other Sigur Ros song - at once it is positive, youthful and energetic in a way which sounds brand new.

Listening to the song as I type this I can't help but hope that they return to this sound in their subsequent releases - it really is that good.

Track 03 Remove Your Teeth by Stop It!! (from Self Made Maps)

Stop It!! are one of my most listened bands, a feat which is pretty remarkable when you consider that their output amounts to little more than this 12" and a demo 10". From their pulsing bass lines, unexpected tempo changes and attack heavy guitars Stop It!! create a sound which is much more than just its individual parts - when everything is put together the band are simply the best at what they do.

As for what they do I don't exactly know what to describe it as; I guess it falls into the vague "post-hardcore" bracket, but that seems to do them a grave disservice. In our house we refer to loads of bands as having "Stop It!! esque elements", a much more fitting way to reference their sound I think!

Track 04 100 Years Ago by Tim Hecker (from An Imaginary Country)

Tim Hecker's latest offering is a truly beautiful fuzz of sound, and something I find myself listening to in a surprising variety of contexts. Whilst reading on the bus might seem a fitting time to listen to music like this I also find myself listening to it when I'm doing more energetic activities - getting ready for a NIGHT OUT (yeah!!!!) and getting pumped UP by ambient warmth is an odd, but great experience! Give it a go!

If you like this track you should like the album in its entirety, as it all displays the same good natured feelings - I can see this becoming one of my albums of the year pretty easily.

On an entirely unrelated note, does anyone get the scent of Relayer by Yes in the opening to this track? I can't help but expect that song's guitars to scale in at any second! Damn fine songs the both of them!

Track 05 We Are Water by Health (from Get Color)

This album served as my introduction to Health, and this song has stood out from that first listen a the album's most epic song. What I love about the song is the way it manages to be both huge and yet maintain a palpable sense of forward momentum through its drums.

I've heard that Health are fantastic live, and I'm sorry to say that its an experience I have never had - if anyone is planning to see them soon (I hear they play London a lot) please let me tag along!

Oh and, the section around 3:15 - YES MAYTE!!!!

Track 06 Unusual Cruelty by Agoraphobic Nosebleed (from Domestic Powerviolence (Apartment 213 Split))

Agoraphobic Nosebleed going slow?

As crazy as that sounds it works so well; using Man is the Bastard as their primary reference point the band create what I think will, in retrospect, be regarded as one of their best works. The vocals fit the materiel's more grimy feel perfectly, and Scott Hull's drum programming utilises the drum machines unique properties fantastically - the song always feels to be in danger of collapsing on itself, but the drum programming makes it sound like it rediscovers its legs after a few stumbles.

Damn heavy bass guitar work too - makes you wonder why the mostly mid-paced Agrapocalypse didn't take more cues from this release really....

Track 07 Street Flash by Animal Collective (from Water Curses)

I think this Animal Collective Ep to be unfairly dismissed by many as a stopgap release between Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion - something that I don't think could be more off the mark.

I think that the first half of this four track EP is some of teh finest material Animal Collective have ever recorded, with this song (the EP's second) being my personal favourite. In particular I adore the way the band turn tortured screams into euphoric waves of noise from 3:41 onwards - I can't help but smile and get shivers down my spine everytime I hear them.

I also love the way the song's instrumention is drenched in rhythmical reverb - it gives the whole song a dreamlike context I adore.

Top song!

Track 08 Antagonismus by Yacopsae (from Tanz Grosny Tanz)

Yacopsae aren't a band that let up, and in the follow up to the stupidly brutal
Einstweilige Vernichtung they somehow craft an album that is even more extreme - heavier sounds, more stop starts, more whimsical sections.

And they do it all, including the stops (!), live. My god yes.

Track 09 Superman On Ice by 13 & God (from 13 & God)

13 & God will always have a place in my mind as a more sleepy and mellowed out version of cLOUDDEAD - certainly not a bad thing! This song illustrates that song beautifully and uses a string accompaniment to great effect - the song feels really melancholic and earnest.

I love the nasal tone of the vocals, and the lyrics speak in a poetic metaphors that I can't help but get taken in by, all in all just a lovely listening experience to lie in bed to.

Track 10 Against The Day by Land of Kush (from Against The Day)

As you ,might guess from the above album art Against The Day is a pretty eclectic album, with each song differing greatly from the last. I chose the title song for this compilation because it has such a strong melody running throughout the majority of its run time.

Although it may seem like an odd comparison I find the album actually recalls a more post rocky (it's a Constellation Records super group of sorts after all) version of yesterday's Beatle-A-Day!!! entry, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - it features the same counter intuitive instrumentation and songwriting, but somehow it all forms a hugely decadent, dense and syrupy whole.

Highly recommended, check it out!

Track 11 Texas by Dr. Manhattan (from Jam Dreams)

I was drawn to this album by the Deerhoof esque cover art (I kinda get a Friend Opportunity vibe), and the album bears that connection out slightly; in fact it sounds somewhere between The Blood Brothers and The Chinese Stars, with a garnish of Deerhoof style curve balls.

The album has a deliciously camp vibe running throughout, but I actually chose to include one of the more subdued tracks just because I found myself whistling it to myself at six in the morning. The album's punchy production and vocals lend it a poppy sensibility, but this sugar is laced with a more dangerous element - highly distorted and heavy guitars. I know its a bit of a dumb album, but it's such good fun I can't help but enjoy it!

Track 12 Break by Fugazi (from End Hits)

I've had a really strange relationship with a lot of Dischord bands; for whatever reason they never seemed to click with me. Whilst I'm still not a devout disciple it was this album, and in particular this song, which served as my doorway into just why Fugazi are such a fantastic band.

I love so much about this song that listing it all would demolish the song to its individual parts and destroy it - suffice to say I love the way the guitar is actually given room to generate a range of sounds with only one pedal, it really brings home just how silly having 8300 of the things really is.

Also the funky bass lines and vocals make my shake my white booty - in fact I think I'm going to delve further into their work in the next few days...

Track 13 The Lisbon Maru by Fuck Buttons (from Tarot Sport)

I was really apprehensive about the new Fuck Buttons album; through a combination of over listening to the first album and some truly lackluster live performances of new material I wasn't really interested in even hearing it.

I think I was very, very wrong, as Tarot Sport is every bit as good as its predecessor, if not better. The album seems much more mature because even though it uses the same palate of sounds the songwriting has subtly, but meaningfully, evolved.

Instead of just cranking on distortion halfway though a song Tarot Sport displays a more rounded understanding of gradation and allows the songs to reach these "switch on" points in a much more organic manner.

The Lisbon Maru is my favourite song on the album, and when listened to LOUD I'm sure you'll see why; it's epic, emotional and engaging - TOTAL WIN!!!

and that ends the seventh dog show hello compilation!!!!

you can download it HERE

Peace out and speak soon!

Sam Sam

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #08 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band (1967)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She's Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite
8. Within You Without You
9. When I'm Sixty Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2)
13. A Day In The Life

Before I re-listened to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for this Beatle-A-Day!!! feature I always thought of the album as The Beatles' most childlike and dream-inspired album - and whilst these things are indeed still true I didn't seem to previously realise just how experimental the album's instrumentation and melodies are. The album also has some really rocking numbers, and isn't as twee as my younger self used to think.

Considering the leap between Help! and Rubber Soul, and then Rubber Soul and Revolver it would be fair to say that the experimental leap between them grows at an exponential rate - something Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band reinforces. If Revolver was the first psychedelic rock/pop album then it stands to reason that its follow up is so far gone from that template that it become something completely new - to this day I don't really know how I would classify the album as it certainly isn't a "pop" album (in the generic sense of the word).

Aside from the album itself the response to the album really shocks me; widespread acceptance of something this idiosyncratic seems so foreign to me. To think of every man and mother in western civilization bopping along to songs as out there as the dreamy Within You Without You boggles my mind, and is certainly something I can't ever see happening again (for a start, due to the wider range of media available, and numerous other factors).

As for the album's itself I can only describe the whole album as extremely dense. The album features so many layers of experimental effects, vocals and studio effects that it really does take numerous listens to absorb everything that is going on. The eclectic range of instruments used seems to be a direct consequence of the album's studio origin, and often gives each song its own unique flavour; oddly however the album somehow works as a whole.

Aside from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band musical framing device the whole album works together in a manner contrary to common sense; at the risk of sounding like I'm making a contradictory statement I think that the albums cohesive nature stems from the songs' disparate sensibilities.

By throwing so many conflicting elements together (Dear Rita next to Good Morning Good Morning? Really?!) the album creates a all encompassing feelings of excess and richness. In the same way that each songs' incongruous musical combinations work through sheer bloody mindedness the album stands as a cohesive metamorphic work; although each segment reflects its own aspects they all form a cogent whole when viewed together from far enough back.

In probably the most bizarre analogy I will ever make (and therefore quite fitting for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!) the album is akin to Frasier's apartment in the TV series baring his name; although it consists of very different items the fact that they are collected together creates a non-pattern of uniqueness, and one which is cohesive precisely because of the lack of a pre-existing relationship between the items.


...and if the fact that the album forces my writing into a tautological Mobius strip doesn't convince you that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is worth many listens then hopefully the fact that this is The Beatles' third unquestionable masterpiece in a row will.

sam sam

Monday, 5 October 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #07 - Revolver (1966)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Taxman
2. Eleanor Rigby
3. I'm Only Sleeping
4. Love You To
5. Here There And Everywhere
6. Yellow Submarine
7. She Said She Said
8. Good Day Sunshine
9. And Your Bird Can Sing
10. For No One
11. Docter Robert
12. I Want To Tell You
13. Got To Get You Into My Life
14. Tomorrow Never Knows


Even after Rubber Soul's fantastic display of growth Revolver still caught me by surprise; as with Rubber Soul every song is a unique and brilliant, but, if anything there is even more variance offered from Revolver's menagerie.

I think it very telling that The Beatles took their first career break after Rubber Soul; although only a short six months the effect on the foursome is considerable. It seems as if each band member is given space to chart their own musical explorations, but, fantastically, these disparate paths somehow coagulate into a cohesive and impeccably paced musical experience.

Following on in the Beatle-A-Day!!! tradition it is apparent that of the foursome George Harrison in particular, stepping up to offer more to the album more than any other previous. Songs like the sitar laden Love You Too and She Said She Said displaying his experimentation with eastern instrumentation and melodies, the myriad of explorations in guitar texture and effects are present across the entirety of the album. The culmination of the voyage into hitherforeto uncharted tonal waters of Tomorrow Never Knows - a fitting finale to a spectacular album - a song so arresting that my only complaint with it is that it doesn't stretch out across another ten minutes.

Of course, the other three members all demonstrate their formidable musical talents on Revolver - I mention George only because his growth seems to be a touchstone in this series of articles, the same could certainly be done with the other three members.

Likewise picking out particular songs on musical merit would also be a fruitless endeavor - every song on the album is worthy of repeated listens and reveals more depth with every subsequent hearing.

In fact, the only problem I have with Revolver is related to just how forward it feels, and perhaps because of my inescapable revisionist look on The Beatles' career. I first came to The Beatles through my father's insistence that I watch the fantastic animated film Yellow Submarine, perhaps because of the film's drugged inspired saturated colours and feverish images I always associated its soundtrack with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band.

As such I think Elenor Rigby and (perhaps much morso) Yellow Submarine would fit into the more fantastic setting of The Beatles' next album, the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band. However, aside from that one idiosyncratic quibble Revolver is The Beatles' second masterpiece, and one which is still viable listening in today's musical climate.

In fact so much of Revolver is regurgitated in much contemporary music that the recent remasterings should make many modern bands blush with embarrassment!

sam sam

Sunday, 4 October 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #06 - Rubber Soul (1965)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Drive My Car
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3. You Won't See Me
4. Nowhere Man
5. Think For Yourself
6. Word, The
7. Michelle
8. What Goes On
9. Girl
10. I'm Looking Through You
11. In My Life
12. Wait
13. If I Needed Someone
14. Run For Your Life

I'm starting to see a pattern forming in Beatle-A-Day!!! - as with Help!, Rubber Soul is my favourite album from the foursome to date.

If Help! was The Beatles' requiem to the first part of their career then Rubber Soul is their first step into maturity, and what a step it is. Far from being a tentative progression Rubber Soul instead leaps into a new musical landscape with a youthful gusto.

Although the album's opener, Drive My Car, would seem only slightly incongruous on it's predecessor (being as it is a clever rocky number) Rubber Soul comes into it's own from Norwegian Wood's first sitar drone. Although it might seem a slightly kitch touchstone I honestly believe that the addition of the instrument is so much more than just an added Eastern twang.

Instead I like to think that it signals The Beatles' expanding musical horizons; the fab four are no longer content to experiment with slightly more introspective lyrics and instrumentation - instead it presents a band starting to think in terms of pure sound.

The song itself is also notable as it contains some of their best lyrics to date, and a healthy experimentation in chord progressions. It's a catchy number which stands even now as one of the band's most affecting numbers.

Rubber Soul also shows The Beatles becoming more comfortable with more openly polemic lyrical content - Nowhere Man and The Word display this most openly, with the later proudly displaying the first instance in which the word "love" is held up as a rallying slogan.

In another continuing theme from Beatle-A-Day!!! the star of the album is unquestionably George's guitar (although Paul's closing bass line on Michelle is also unquestionably deserving of praise). Harrison continues to experiment with rhythm and tone, creating lines which still seem fresh today.

A great example of this can be heard on the county inspired stomp of What Goes On; on first listen my predilection against country music won over, but subsequent listens were drawn to the highly inventive guitar lines on display. If you havnt noticed it before try listening primarily to the variety of guitar tones generated - they differ slightly from phrase to phrase, with an organic range of variance in intonation.

To close this entry I want to definitively state that every song on Rubber Soul is exceptional and contains at least one moment of unadulterated genius. Additionally such moments hint at The Beatles' future trajectory; for example I'm Looking Through You's anarchic organ squeals hint at even more aggressive material to follow - something that is certainly borne out on their next album, Revolver

In short Rubber Soul is The Beatles first true masterpiece. It really is that good.

sam sam

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #05 - Help! (1965)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

EDIT: Well, the above just got a bit ruined by a weekend of not blogging; the lack of posting stemmed from the fact we had a big party in our house to celebrate a new housemate moving in (and one moving out, sob!) - in short everything was a bit hectic and my blog posts got a bit behind. With that in mind I've decided to opt out of posting a new Wednesday compilation this week, instead I'm going to focus on getting some more Beatle-A-Day posts - we're getting into the really great stuff now, so hopefully it shouldn't be too much of a hardship ;-p

Apologies for any disappointment this may cause, but I promise I'll make it up next week... I have a bit of a special idea for it!

1. Help
2. The Night Before
3. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
4. I Need You
5. Another Girl
6. You're Going To Lose That Girl
7. Ticket To Ride
8. Act Naturally
9. It's Only Love
10. You Like Me Too Much
11. Tell Me What You See
12. I've Just Seen A Face
13. Yesterday
14. Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Oh my lord... Help! is a damn fine album, and certainly my favorite at this point in Beatle-A-Day's life - it shows the band pulling the folk and country influences present in Beatles For Sale and reforming them into a much more palatable work (in my opinion anyway, don't hate me!) Just see Lenon's more exciting Dylan-esque writing on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.

Help! also shows the four stretching their musical vision even further through more apparent studio manipulation - the effects on the guitar in I Need You are really quite progressive, even by today's pop music. Similarly the also Harrison penned You Like Me Too Much sounds very modern today; you know, in retrospect I think Belle and Sebastian might like the song a little bit...

The iconic title track dominates the album, but it belies the songwriting complexity present on the rest of the album. Ticket To Ride's experiments with rhythm (on the guitar picking sections) belay the album's modus operandi of intertwining pop sensibilities with exploration of personal musical interests and lyrical introspection.

It's Only Love hints more strongly at drug use than anything else the band had produced to date, but not just lyrically - the musical responses to the vocal line have a distinct semi-improvised and lackadaisical quality which I don't find hard to attribute to marijuana use.

Even though it sounds a bit silly to equate such a thing to a substance I think the very fact one could think that hints at something much more tangible; The Beatles' music begins reflecting the band themselves much more on Help! than on previous efforts. Instead of aping Bob Dylan, as on Beatles For Sale, and speaking their lyrics in his language, The Beatles look to themselves and craft their own way of expressing the sort of feelings hinted at in the aforementioned album's Lenon Trilogy.

The culmination of this is the album's beautiful penultimate track, Yesterday. On Yesterday I can't help but imagine John, Paul, Ringo and George celebrating their musical childhood, but knowing that it has its place - the past. The song feels heartbroken at leaving the first phase of The Beatles' career, but also knowing that they had to grow up and face a more complex world.

Musically the string arrangements and melody certainly display this, but the real kicker is the song's lyrics. Here are a few snippets so you can see for yourself:

All my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

I'm not half the man I used to be,
There's a shadow hanging over me,
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.


Love was such an easy game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday."

There's no escaping the fact that The Beatles' childhood was over, and their more experimental teenage years had begun - next, enter Rubber Soul and the sitar...

sam sam

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wednesday Compilation - 23rd September 2009

Download link will follow at the bottom of the post.

Track 01 -Do by Do Make Say Think (from The Other Truths)

This is the first track off Do Make Say Think's new album; as you might have guessed from the title of this song the four tracks are titled Do, Make, Say and Think. The band claim that release is return to writing long songs, but musically it doesn't really feel like a step back at all.

It occurred to me the other day that I actually appreciate Do Make Say Think as much, if not more than their legendary label-mates, Godspeed You Black Emperor; and this song exemplifies why. Although the band vary their musical output considerably across albums their work always makes me have the strangest feelings - in this song it's the bass line section (eventually taken over by the horn section).

When we saw them live at ATP a few years ago I spontaneously burst out in tears, and if this new material is anything to go by I can see the same happening when I see them again soon!

Track 02 - Helter Skelter by The Beatles (from The Beatles (aka The White Album))

I know dog show hello has played host to a little slice of Beatle-mania over the past week (and doesn't show any sign of leaving soon!), but I couldn't help myself with this one - go on, indulge me a little further!

Helter Skelter is one of my all time favourite Beatles songs; it feels vital and fresh even today. I'm finding myself becoming more than a little obsessed with the song's drone-like guitar backing, and don't see any question that it was a song born out of a lot of frustration. You can hear savagery in every aspect of the song, particularly the fake out ending - is there any other moment as FUCK YOU in The Beatles catalog? At the time of writing I honestly think not (although Beatle-A-Day!!! might change that!)

Oh, and if by some miracle you haven't heard the song before prepare to be blown away.

Track 03 - Hard To Reach by Jesu (from Jesu / Envy split)

I've been a huge Jesu fan ever since the Heartache EP, and I've really enjoyed hearing the project grow into something much more than a Godflesh side project. I know that this choice is a polarizing one, but I think of Hard To Reach as a pivotal song in Broderick's musical life, as well as a damn fine one!

I know this is the second pretty long song on the compilation (apologies!), but when considering which Jesu track to include I couldn't not choose this one. Whilst I'm not sure if it is the best one I see it as the point when the project embraced the poppy My Bloody Valentine allusions it first set forth on the Silver EP.

Hard To Reach is a screaming wash of guitars (a-la My Bloody Valentine), coupled with Jesu's processed bass loops and Justin's spaced out vocals; in short it's fantastic. Listen LOUD!

Track 04 - Ef by Lite (from Phantasia)

I've followed Lite since my (now-ex! sob!) housemate lent me their first EP, and it's been a pleasure to see them from a great band into an impeccable one. Lite do math-rock with a punk-like aggression; you get the impression from the songwriting that the band are hungry for even more complex writing and rhythms to gnaw on. Seeing them live played out this theory (no loop pedals, just distortion), but Ef is the true proof.

Although not subscribing to punk's history of sloppiness Lite display a refreshing tenacity, always pushing themselves to craft more and more baroque compositions, whilst still remaining razor sharp.

Think Yes in a knife fight and you have Lite. (Hello Vice-isms!)

Track 05 - An Envoy To The Open Fields by Mew (from And The Glass Handled Kites)

I love all of ...And The Glass Handled Kites, and it seems a shame to pick apart something which stands as a really strong whole, but I've done it dammit!

I eventually chose An Envoy To The Open Fields because I though it typified the ridiculously epic scope of this album, whist still working as a song in its own right. For me the drum and bass guitar production rule this album, and this song works as a really great showcase of how Mew distort poppy melodies into something much more exciting.

If you like this song I can't recommend getting the whole album enough; as I stated before it really does work best as one experience.

Track 06 - All Things To All Men by Cinematic Orchestra (feat. Roots Manuva) (from Every Day)

The Cinematic Orchestra became known to me as a band which had sound tracked the film Man With A Movie Camera, but they really are much more than that, as this collaboration with Roots Manuva shows. I love Roots Manuva's lyrics, but the jazzy instrumentation is what really makes the song for me.

The drums have a really crisp tone, which speaks to the song's seeming preoccupation with precision; the bass tones and horns all feel as if their inclusion has really been considered.

Most of all though I love the way the song let's the instruments have space so we hear notes decay; it makes the song feel very open and expansive. Beautiful stuff.

Track 07 - Turtle Island by Beach House (from Devotion)

Devotion is the only thing I've heard from Beach House, but if it's all like this album then I think I'm going to really enjoy getting stuck into it (after all of this Beatles stuff of course!)

I don't actually know much about this band, apart from than I really like their music, so this probably won't be a very long entry!

I chose Turtle Island to appear on this compilation because it really sums up what I like about the album; it has a really mournful tone, but still feels playful. In particular I love the muffled drum sound, droning bass and ethereal vocals - let me know what you think!

Track 08 - Fatefully by Hot Cross (from Risk Revival)

Hot Cross are a pleasure to listen to, their guitars drip with a well oiled emo-core sass, but they still retain a sense of aggression and righteousness. Some may claim that Risk Revival is too melodic, but I think it suits the band to be in full pop-swagger; to my ears the earlier stuff seem slightly misguided in their attempts to be aggressive anyway.

I chose Fatefully because I used to run on the treadmill in time to it, bouncing up and down in the chorus breakdown and mouthing the lyrics:

"fuck off,
fuck off,
because I DON'T NEED YOU!!!"

Guess I looked like a bit of a peanut, but I loved it every time; so I guess I win!

Track 09 - Powerbook Fiend by Kid 606 (from Who Kills Sound)

I heard this album when I was in secondary school, and it fit the tradition of the time that the heaviest/fastest/most aggressive song on the album always became my favorite - in fact between myself and Robbie Judkins the mid-song sample of "1-2-3-4-5-6 BASS!"became a little bit of a custom in itself.

As for the song itself it doesn't sound half as heavy as I once thought it to be, but it's still great fun and my favorite thing Kid 606 has done - such an awesome ending too!

Track 10 - Satori Pt. 1 by Flower Travellin' Band (from Satori)

My friend Chris told me that Flower Travellin' Band were the first band to cover a Black Sabbath song - the titular Black Sabbath, off the album of the same name - and did so only a few months after the original's release.

With that in mind Flower Travellin' Band's sound shouldn't come as too much of a shock - sabbath with more wails...

...and, surprise surprise, it's fucking awesome!

Track 11 - Emerge by Fischerspooner (from #1)

Fisherspooner really made an impact on me with the amazing video of this song when I was in secondary school, it was easily the most amazingly camp and energetic things I had experienced to that point - what more would you expect from a band which lists their Wardrobe, Design, Photographer,
Dramaturgist and Hair Stylist personnel with their musical line up?!

Musically they make some of the coolest electro-clash stuff, and before it became impotent a few years ago; the melody is catchy and fun too. In fact I think I'm going to track down the rest of their stuff and give it a listen as this album is all I've ever heard from them!

(seriously though, if you haven't seen the video check it out here! When his clothes fly off and leave him in his underpants... damn that's good music video making!)

Track 12 - Pick Me Up by Dinosaur Jr. (from Beyond)

Dinosaur Jr. are a great band, and on this album they haven't lost any of their vitality, despite having been at it for numerous years. I chose this song over one of the more classic ones off You're Living All Over Me because I just adore the slow bridge section (around 2:50); every time I hear it I have tingling all over my back and shoulders and feel really emotional...

...and then the lead guitar section...hoo-boy!

Track 13 - The Mob Goes Wild by Clutch (from Blast Tyrant)

Best intro to a song ever.

And loads of great riffs.

End of story.

and that ends the sixth dog show hello compilation!!!!

you can download it HERE

Peace out and speak soon!

Sam Sam