Articles about CDs

Sounds to irritate, soothe or delight. Or all three at once.

The Lost Albums

When I relocated to (or was it from) the other side of the world 14 year ago, my chattels included 1000-odd CDs. (Some very odd). It took more than ten years for me to finally collate all of them and rip them onto hard disk. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a small number of them fell by the wayside. I think I know where they ended up, and with whom. I have since replaced a few of them:

The Orb — Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
I’ve replaced this already, with the super-extended version from iTunes featuring a heap of pointless remixes. It’s still a magnificent album.

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Here Comes Science — They Might Be Giants

Here comes science! This is a great CD/DVD for the young people in your life — and that includes you. I gave it to Jay for his 5th birthday recently. TMBG do a nice line in kids’ music and video, and this is the best so far.

I love TMBG’s regular albums, but their kids’ stuff is understandably not always my cup of tea. No! was pretty good, but Here Come the ABCs was just too simplistic for my sophisticated musical sensibilities. (My pre-school children quite liked it though.) But Here Comes Science is just about on a par with their best. I didn’t like all the “funny” voices on ABCs, but Science keeps them to a minimum.

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Earth From Space — The Bads

Earth From Space, by The BadsMellow mellifluous melodies. The Bads are a girl/boy duo from New Zealand; you could call them a guitar-based pop/rock group, or even a “popular beat combo” (as John Peel used to say). But that would just be lazy pigeonholing, so if you pretend you didn’t read that then I will pretend I didn’t write it. Anyway, it seems that of the two Bads, Diane does most of the singing, with Brett singing backup and breaking into the lead occasionally. I can’t find any information on what they each play, so I suppose they are both prodigious multi-instrumentalist polymaths.

Song titles such as Feels Like Rain, Trouble Rides A Fast Horse and Bush Fire Sunset make this sound like good ol’ country music. The first of these songs does sound pretty much like that, with its lazy drawl and twangin’ guitar, but the rest of the album shows some nice variation. The opening song Off The Rails has just the most irresistible chorus — I find it tremendously uplifting, in a minor-key sort of way. The driving Carry The Weight is another of my favourites, with powerful guitar and nice male/female harmonies.

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The Lake — Anna Coddington

The Lake by Anna CoddingtonHere’s a set of simple, affecting songs, beautifully sung and sympathetically arranged. The overall theme is Love Gone Wrong, the traditional singer-songwriter preoccupation. But Anna Coddington turns it into something that sounds great — “beauty exploding from despair”, to use one of her own lines.

I was looking forward to buying this CD, since I enjoyed Anna Coddington’s performance a few months ago. Even though it’s been quite a long time since then, I still remember quite a few of the songs. The songs worked really well live, with Anna accompanying herself on guitar; the fuller production on the album adds another dimension without ever overwhelming the basic voice and guitar structure.

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Alec Empire and Nitzer Ebb

I was listening to one of the tracks from the new Alec Empire album “The Golden Foretaste of Heaven” the other day. I was loving it but it seemed a bit familiar. The relentless pounding beat; the hypnotic, discordant basslines; the snarled vocals; the overall claustrophobic intensity of the thing. Alec Empire is a German with an English-sounding name, but his music reminds me of an English group with a German-sounding name. Nitzer Ebb were big(gish) in the ’80s but I only really got into them a bit later. I seem to own all of their albums and quite a number of singles, so I must like them. They released a career retrospective compilation (Body of Work) a couple of years ago; I thought that marked the end of the band, but apparently it just marked the beginning of their comeback.

I was amazed a year or so ago to see that “Nitzer Ebb” were due to play a gig at a local venue here in Auckland. They will most likely release a new album this year. It will be interesting to hear what it sounds like. They started out 25 years ago with noises, shouting, fist-pumping and Futurism (that’s where the Alec Empire connection comes in) but moved more and more towards traditional song structures. Apparently they have already played some of their new material live and broadcast so I can’t wait to hear it.

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Out of the Moon — Goldenhorse

Out of the Moon by GoldenhorseGoldenhorse are the best pop band in the universe right now, and their two albums are a microcosm of all that’s good in music. Their jaunty melodies with dark undertones and the sometimes-sweet, sometimes twisted lyrics form an irresistible combination. Listen to Goldenhorse now and make yourself into a better person. Continue reading

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Kate Bush — new single and album

Kate Bush Aerial album cover

I am listening to the new Kate Bush single, King of the Mountain. This is very exciting because her last album came out in 1993 — clearly bands like Nine Inch Nails are mere amateurs as far as releasing long-awaited albums is concerned. So Aerial will be her next album, released later this year, and the first since The Red Shoes 12 years ago. As if to make up for the long wait, Aerial will be a double CD.

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No! — They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Gients No! album coverMy 2-month-old son loves this album, and so do his thirtysomething parents. That’s all you really need to know!

As a long-time They Might Be Giants fan, I was excited a couple of years ago when I saw this album in a shop; I was disappointed when I saw that it was a “children’s” album so I didn’t buy it. Well, now that I have a child of my own I thought it was time; and if little Jay is going to listen to childish songs, I’d prefer he listen to TMBG rather than endless repetitions of “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”. So I bought a copy of “No!” for us.

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With Teeth — Nine Inch Nails (after)

A few days ago I talked about the new Nine Inch Nails album, With Teeth. Even though I had the CD, at that time I maintained my objectivity by carefully avoiding listening to it before reviewing it.

With Teeth album cover

Since then I have listened to With Teeth several times (and The Hand That Feeds several thousand times in my head). I now feel able to report in more detail. Continue reading

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With Teeth — Nine Inch Nails (before)

With Teeth is Nine Inch Nails’ new long-anticipated five-years-in-the-making album. I loved The Fragile, their previous long-anticipated five-years-in-the-making album, and I had heard that this new one is quite different. Unfortunately, it is.

With Teeth album cover

Initial reports were that this album goes straight for the jugular. “The is the album they should have released five years ago,” they said. It was meant to be the album that would get a wide audience after the long meandering The Fragile. Pop music fan that I am, I was looking forward to a set of punchy tracks like those on the Broken EP from last decade.

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