torsdag 27 oktober 2011

Album of the year project 3rd post.

The third match-up sees ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Os Dead's record "Tao Of The Dead" against Wino's "Adrift".


The prog-rockers ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is a new experience for me. For some reason I've always thought that they played some kind of lame indie pop. After I understood that they play brilliant prog rock I had to get the new album, and I can't say I'm disappointed! This is a great album, packed full of great riffs, lovely atmospheric parts and straight forward rock songs. You really don't expect a band like this to put out so many great songs on one album, normally the album is more in focus rather than the songs. I mean that you have to listen to an album from start to finish to really appreciate it but on "Tao Of The Dead" several of the songs really stand up on their own as well. Some good examples are "Weight Of The Sun", "The Wasteland" and "Ebb Away".
The record is sort of two parter where the band, on the c-side, has one song they call "Strange News From Another Planet", which is something more to be expected from a band like Trail Of Dead with spaced out parts and the song reaching over the ten minute mark (and probably more, there's no way to tell the length of a song on a record player;)). This last side ties the record together perfectly.

Scott Weinrich, what a voice that man's been gifted with! The frontman of such stoner/doom legends as Saint Vitus and Spirit Caravan. This is Wino's first acoustic album. There are some electric guitar solos as well but it's mainly based on his voice and his guitar. The progress he has made musically is comparable to the likes of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till for example. Those two play in the band Neurosis which started out as hardcore punk but has progressed to more experimental metal. They have both released solo material which has been just their voices and a guitar. So to get back to Wino...

"Adrift" seems like a natural step leap from Spirit Caravan's stoner rock (he's played in several bands after they split up but I haven't listened to most of them). They have always used acoustic guitars in their songs, quite effectively as well. I have a feeling that some of the material on this record would have benefited to go through a Spirit Caravan filter. You can hear the potential of the songs and sometimes it works but I think that they could have been even better. There are some quality riffs on here, like on "Mala Suerte" and "D-Bear" for example. What would that song sounded like if Wino was backed up with a band?

So in conclusion Trail Of Dead advances to the next stage.

Next up is Indie/psych rockers Akron/Family against the first metal album so far the last one from Crowbar.

söndag 23 oktober 2011

Album of the year project 2nd post.

The second match-up also features a Norwegian band. They're up against the mellow singer/songwriter music of Sam Beam's moniker Iron & Wine.
2011 has really been a triumphant year here in Norway for the Stavanger  based collective. From this record alone they have had three huge hits that's been playing non-stop on the Norwegian radio stations. The three songs are really hit friendly and catchy tunes, add the twist of gypsy influenced accordians and harmoniums and you have a recipe for success apparently. They have had headlining spots at the biggest Norwegian festivals Öya and Slottsfjell and have grown from, probably, the biggest Norwegian band as of today to even bigger.

So, does the music live up to the hype? The Violeta Violeta project is a trilogy of records and this one was released in January marking the first one. The second one is set to be released on 11.11.11. They have already released two singles from the upcoming album, which means they have had five frequently played singles on radio since August last year. The hits are without a doubt brilliant songs unfortunately the rest of the album can't really live up to that standard. There are some quality songs other than these three but there are a few that, for me, are just fillers. It's an impressive project that they've taken on and I'm looking forward to explore the next two releases.

The Iron & Wine album is one of these low key singer/songwriter albums that really isn't my cup of tea. I get easily bored with records like these. I don't know why but there's just something there that doesn't catch my ears. However, if there is a record within this genre that I like, I listen to it more or less non-stop. There are few of these but when that one record comes it is great! There is at least one of those records released this year, but is this the one? No, not really. It is a good album but for me, it lacks that little bit of magic to make it a classic. It's an even record without any real lows, but I miss the highs for it to be a record of my taste.

Conclusion: "Kiss Each Other Clean" might be a more even record over all, but with the strength of the good songs that are on "Violeta, Violeta, Vol. 1" the Norwegians will progress to the next level.

Next up is Wino vs. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.

Album of the year project 1st post.

As I wrote about in a previous post I'm doing the "best of the year list" a bit different this year. I believe this is the best way to decide which album really is the best of the year. The results are obviously only my personal opinion, with a little help from my girlfriend as well sometimes.

So, the first match-up that I'm listening to at the moment is between Decemberists' "The King Is Dead" and Delillos' "Trist Å Väre Glad". Both albums were released in January this year. The Delillos album was one of those that I listened to quite a lot during the spring before the releases of the year really picked up.

It's a tougher match-up that I anticipated actually. I have given the Decemberists album a couple of listens this year and it's a real beauty. I'm a big fan of the country/americana genre with the new Jayhawks album being one of the more anticipated releases of the year. I got it this week but I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet.

Spotify links:
The Decemberists album has more or less everything I look for in an album like this. Great songs, like the album opener "Don't Carry It All" and the beautiful "Rise To Me". The A-side really delivers but flip the record over and the B-side can't really live up to the quality of the former. On the B-side opener they try to pick up the pace with the Springsteen inspired "Down By The Water", but there's just something missing. It's an ok song but nothing more. And that's how the rest of the album continues with the exception of the low-key beauty "June Hymn" in the middle of it. But it alone isn't able to lift the B-side to higher grounds.

The story behind the last Delillos album is an interesting one. During a series of live shows last year (I think it was) they more or less jammed out the songs that were to be the new album "Trist Å Väre Glad". This is a really "fun" album and you always get a warm, nice feeling listening to it. It also features one of the best songs of the year, the title track. The fact that they sing in their native Norwegian language makes the album an honest and personal experience and they paint beautiful stories in their songs. As with the Decemberist album this record really shows it's strong points on the first side. The Delillos album however can keep this quality even on the b-side. They have drinking ballads in the vein of Tom Waits ("Lars Lillos Drikkevise"). They even finish the album with a song about singing in your native language, with the song "Jeg Elsker Deg" ("I Love You").

To summarize: I didn't think that the Decemberists album would stand up as well as it did along side the Delillos album but it really did. However with a better b-side and an overall quality Delillos will advance to the next stage.

Next up is Kaizers Orchestra vs. Iron & Wine.

tisdag 18 oktober 2011

Three awesome new releases! I hope...

Today I got three new records that i've been really looking forward to. Every release is quite big!

The records are the new releases from Björk, Coldplay and the legend himself, Tom Waits.
I'm listening to the Waits album for the first time right now and I haven't heard anything from the other two either so this will be exciting:-)

Two of these albums are yet to be released actually. The Tom Waits album will be released on friday and the Coldplay album will be released on monday. One of the privilages of working in a record store;-)

söndag 9 oktober 2011

Iron Maiden box set.

I haven't really had a good experience with the Norwegian toll system. First of all they charge a 25% "merverdiavgift" on everything that costs more than 200 NOK, which really isn't a whole lot. You normally can't buy more than maybe one or two used records for that price. This limit has been the same since the 70's and we all know that you don't exactly get the same kind of goods for 200 NOK today as you did 40 years ago...

These last few weeks I've been even more frustrated than ever at the toll system. They have held a package there for over three weeks and I've sent them numerous e-mails and called them even more. I've spent three half hour breaks at work sitting in telephone line waiting for someone to solve this for me without an answer.

This week I finally got a note in the mail that my package was ready for pick-up at the local post office for a small fee. A fee that was smaller than expected since the reason why they hold my package seemed to be that they didn't have a invoice for the goods, which I've e-mailed them three times...

Anyhow... So I finally got my long awaited Iron Maiden box set. It's a compilation of the first ten years and it collects ten double 12" singles. This was released in 1990 and (taken from wikipedia) "each part in the series included a special voucher, all ten of which could be exchanged by mail order for a limited edition storage box.". I guess that there aren't that many boxes out there (considering it's an Iron Maiden release, one of the biggest bands in the world) so it's quite rare, this made it one of my most sought after Maiden records. A complete box set in good condition normally sells on ebay for somewhere between £150-200. I was lucky to get mine at about £75. A real bargain!! :)

So my Iron Maiden collection keeps growing. A very fun band to collect!

lördag 8 oktober 2011

A blog for the ladies!

I'm sitting here at the moment listening to the latest St. Vincent vinyl "Strange Mercy". St. Vincent is the moniker Annie Erin Clark uses for this band. As she's signed to 4AD and Pitchfork gave the album 9/10 and the title "Best new music" I had to check it out.

It's a great record that doesn't sound like much else that I've heard lately. I get PJ Harvey vibes from the record, without the record actually sounding anything at all like PJ Harvey. It got me thinking...

Some of the best records this year ("Strange Mercy" has to be included, it's really good!) are by St. Vincent, PJ Harvey and Lykke Li. We have an upcoming release by Björk next week which might make this trio in to a foursome. All these women have created albums this year that is something out of the ordinary, weirdly beautiful each and every one of them and none of them sound like the other.

Everyone is doing really unconventional music and succeeds with it without it being weird for weirdness sake but actually good!

Go unique women!