30 May 2011

Suede - Stay Together (1994)

From allmusic (4/5):

"Although the chorus is the weakest of Suede's five singles to this point, thanks to an ineffective falsetto backing vocal by Brett Anderson, a lush and lustful, pretty verse -- another instant tune from guitarist Bernard Butler, the big talent in the band -- and a dramatic bridge punctuated by uncharacteristic background touches in the form of horns and cello make "Stay Together" another fine outing. It's no departure from the LP material, and the rather overt Bowie/Smiths influences are still everywhere, but this is no treading-water release either, particularly since the B-side "The Living Dead" brings the cello back to spruce up a gurgling acoustic track. Similarly, the other B-side "My Dark Star" continues Suede's Smiths-like tradition of high-quality shimmer pop B-sides that often beat their lesser LP material. Butler's guitar stabs like a throbbing tone underneath a tasteful lead in the vocal-less verse. Nice stuff, nice single, exceptional guitar work."

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28 May 2011

Sonic Youth - Hallucinogenic Preserve (1996) [bootleg]

Great bootleg of their performance on tour after their criminally slept-on Washing Machine.

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21 May 2011

Slowdive - Outside Your Room (1993)

"If you don't have Slowdive's EP's you're missing their most of their best music. Luckily, their contents are not nearly as difficult to find as they were ten years ago as a result of reissues and compilations. The original's still command very high prices, however. This one tends to get lost amidst the three earlier ones and the more Post-Rock oriented later ones, but it's still indispensible. Coupling Souvlaki Space Station with Moussaka Chaos is almost an overdose of pure bliss, but the hidden gem here is "So Tired" which has one of the most stunning down-tuned, reverbed guitar parts I've ever heard. All of Slowdive's music is timeless and ravishingly beautiful, and this album is no exception."

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16 May 2011

Jacques Brel - Olympia 61 (1962)

From rateyourmusic (5/5):

"The songs are great, the arrangements perfect, the performances extraordinary. The set has such a terrific flow to it; he knows exactly when a change of mood is required, and almost seems to be telling some abstract story over the duration of the entire record to go with the specific ones in each song.

I realised it had become my favourite record when, almost without meaning to, I kept putting it on to hear the opening numbers (an excellent "Prénoms de Paris" going into a lung-stripping "Les bourgeois" which elicits stunned, even slightly frightened, applause after the first chorus) and found, without fail, that I could not turn it off until the end (when I would quite often put it back to the start and listen again). For a couple of weeks, I listened to it every day, most days more than once. I started to feel that the album was sending me insane, and I didn't care. This slip into the lunatic was confirmed when I heard the record leaking out of the iPod of somebody seated in front of me on the bus (this wasn't in Paris, it was in Rotherham). I took this as a sign from somebody's god that yes, this was it, this was the record. Maybe I should have taken it as a sign that I needed help. Hindsight etc.

Two years later, the fucking thing still makes me miss appointments."

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11 May 2011

Saint Etienne - Foxbase Alpha (1991) deluxe ed (2009)

"This is what started it all. From album to album, the trio of Saint Etienne change musically like a chameleon changes its colors - and each change can be appreciated in a different way. There's something special about Foxbase Alpha, though. Sure it's a little rough around the edges (not having the help of the mixers from albums like Tiger Bay and Continental), but this album has a warmth all its own - a sort of timelessness, if you will. Some of the songs on the album are achievements that the Etienne have yet to top. 'Nothing Can Stop Us' is an amazing song, and it WILL put you in a good mood, no question. 'London Belongs To Me' washes you away in a dreamy sea of gentle vocals and synths. And of course, there's 'Spring', an utterly charming and innocent number. Those are my favorites, but I haven't even mentioned their outstanding covers - 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' by Neil Young, 'Kiss And Make Up' by the Field Mice... I could go on and on.

I love all of Saint Etienne's albums, and I appreciate each of them for what they are - it takes guts to make a pop record one year and a techno one the next, at the risk of seriously alienating some fans. Foxbase Alpha, though, is on a pedestal in my heart. Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs, and Sarah Cracknell may have gone on from here to explore newer, stranger, and wilder sonic frontiers, but this, their first foray into music, is simply magical."

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06 May 2011

Rites of Spring - End On End (1991)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Released on CD by Dischord in 1991, this digital version of End on End covers the complete recorded output of the legendary Rites of Spring: their self-titled LP, the All Through a Life EP, and one extra song. One of the first bands to be labeled emocore, Rites of Spring would seem to transcend all labels as their music cuts right through to the heart of universal human experience. Emotional? Yes -- check out the bitter memorial relived on "For Want Of," the pulse pounding moment-grab that is "Drink Deep," or the devoted searches for honesty and meaning explored on "End on End," "Theme," and really just about every track on the disc. Hardcore? Yes -- emerging from the D.C. scene, the music is pure focused energy, not a single note wasted. The band at times is fast and furious, at other times lush and evocative though always with a sense of drive and melody. Rites of Spring hint at some of the territory vocalist/guitarist Guy Picciotto and drummer Brendan Canty would later survey with Fugazi, but this band is much more than just a stepping stone. End on End, quite simply, is a testament to the rich possibilities of sincerity in music."

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