Albums! part 5

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27. Apr. 2011, 10:03

albums you might like IF YOU'RE ME.

Kinky - Reina (2006)

Genre: rock en espanol
Samples: "Leon," "Uruapan Breaks," "Mexican Radio"
I know, I know, Mexico's not very cool. The week I spent there with my extended family convinced me of that, the nadir of that trip being the part where I vomited up a couple of inessential organs. This band is pretty damn sweet, though, and the experience of listening to them- this album in particular- bears very little resemblance to Mexican microbe-borne illness. It's a crazy sweet combination of alternative rock, electropop, and Latin rhythms. Accordions are involved.

...I wonder why outsourcing hasn't hit the music industry. Like, the It's not like there's a huge concentration of musical talent in anglophone countries.

POLYSICS

Genre: "technicolor pogo punk"
Samples: "Boys & Girls" (live), "How Are You?," "Shout Aloud!"
If asked to describe this band in terms of other bands, I and most other people would probably say Devo on speed (or at least speed metal). Few performers of any nationality ever reach these levels of manic energy, and I can think of no other that consistently stay there. Pretty much everything they've recorded is so far from normal human energy levels that it's really hard to distinguish the highs and lows of their albums. It's because of this effective consistency that I can't in good conscience recommend one of their albums (even a best-of) over the others- all of them are FUCKING AWESOME and definitely good but it's hard to make meaningful quality judgments on artists this abnormal.

Definitely a polarizing band- they only do one thing and you either love them or hate them (I love them). Reasons to love them include their top notch list of influences and the fact that even my j-pop loving roommate thinks they're annoying. Reasons to hate them include preexisting heart conditions and their tendency to cheat at tennis in publicity photos (you can't really play doubles with four people to a side).

Camper Van Beethoven - Key Lime Pie (1989)

Genre: alternative rock
Samples: "Pictures of Matchstick Men," "(I Was Born In A) Laundromat," "Jack Ruby"
A challenging but rewarding album. Camper Van Beethoven deal in eclecticism (blending bunches of folk, country, psychedelic pop, and hardcore punk into their sound) and in clever dark social satire (mostly about the areas of the country their Americana is appropriated from), both trends in the American alternative rock that produced a bunch of music I like but was mostly killed off by the rise of grunge. (I am sometimes resentful about this even though it happened around the same time I was born. If you get me drunk and ask me about it I will probably be really passionate about it and ultimately embarass myself.)

Also, yeah, I have odd tastes in singing voices. I'm pretty sure nobody other than me would consider David Lowery (CVB's vocalist) to be a great vocalist.

To My Boy - Messages (2007)

Genre: electropop
Samples: "The Grid," "Model," "Eureka"
The first time I heard anything from this band, I immediately knew I loved them a lot. Hooky OMDesque electropop songs equally balancing futurism and humanism performed by a couple of manic geeks? Sign me up. They later released an acoustic version of this album for free (I can't find any of it on Youtube but I have it on my hard drive) and you wouldn't know it from listening to the originals, but it turns out that these songs actually work really well in that format too. This is because these guys have some serious songwriting chops. Sadly they're mostly unknown by pretty much everybody- neither of their albums even have the dignity of getting any reviews on Amazon, even. This is a total shame, because jesus, they're such a good band.

Depeche Mode - Music for the Masses (1988)

Genre: synthpop
Samples: "Sacred," "Never Let Me Down Again," "Strangelove"
Depeche Mode is the bestselling alternative act in the world (unless you're being difficult about throwing around mostly meaningless broad labels). Considering that fact and your musical background, I'm pretty sure there's no way you haven't given at least one of their albums a good listen. If by some freak chance you haven't, though, I'd recommend Music for the Masses. Yeah, Violator has the best singles and Black Celebration is their statement of intent, but it's THIS one (chronologically sandwiched between those two) that holds together best as an album. This is because it's got (at least in my mind) the strongest songwriting and the best atmosphere you're going to get out of Depeche Mode.

Really, though, all of Depeche Mode's first seven albums (even A Broken Frame) are ones I would consider Great Albums. Seven consecutive Great Albums is no small feat, and I'm pretty sure only my all-time favorite band the Pet Shop Boys can match them in that regard.

Electric Six - Zodiac (2010)

Genre: stupid disco rock
STOP! Before I link you some samples that are actually from this album, I suggest a taste test first. "We Were Witchy Witchy White Women, while on a mostly unexceptional album, is probably the Platonic ideal of an Electric Six song. If you think it's no good, then you're totally wrong but you can take a pass on this band. CONTINUE!

Samples: "Clusterfuck!," "The Rubberband Man," "Love Song For Myself"
Clever stupidity. A gloriously fun romp through the absurd mind of Dick Valentine. It's kind of campy, I guess, although you'd be hard pressed to find other campy music that has this much clever machismo. Indeed, there's no denying that sonically this is an incredibly fun take on bombastic cock rock. And I personally love the crap out of any lyricist that can do absurdist jokes and bizarre metaphors this well. Conceptually, though, the joke's on the listener, as is made all but explicit in their pretty damn funny press material. Check it out.

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