Some of my co-workers and I started sharing some of our favorite music. We’ve been doing it for a while, but now we’re actually reviewing them and sharing those reviews with one another. Here are the two albums that were suggested to me this week.
A note on how I rate things. One star means I don’t think it qualifies as music. Five stars mean I wish I wrote the thing. Most music for me is a three.
Roxette – Look Sharp! (1988)
This is a band I am unfamiliar with, and everyone in the office (or at least everyone who decided to weigh in on the matter) was shocked I hadn’t heard of them. Especially vocal was the girl born in 1990 and jumps at the chance to talk about how she knows about things from the ’80s. They all said, “Oh, you know The Look. You’ll listen to it and recognize it immediately.”
Nope. I mean, the chorus sounds vaguely familiar, but only in so far as I may have heard it as background music in a movie or something. But I suspect its familiarity comes from the fact that it sounds exactly like an ’80s pop rock song should. The one song I did recognize was Listen to Your Heart. I don’t know if I’ve heard the Roxette version, but I’ve definitely heard this song before.
My favorite, though, was the fourth single off this album, Dangerous. It was the only song I wanted to go back and listen to again. And I’m not exactly sure why. This album is just one of those ’80s albums. Actually, it’s rather generic ’80s. It’s not a bad thing. It’s fun. It’s just not really memorable. Except for this one song, but for no discernible reason. I just like it.
There aren’t any bad tracks; unless you don’t like that signature ’80s synth bass, in which case you’ll hate this whole album. So it gets 3 stars in my book. Well, my iTunes.
Silverchair – Young Modern (2007)
I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t someone already share Silverchair with you?”
Yes. Yes they did. When Chris shared Diorama, he didn’t know about the varied tastes in this group of coworkers. Now that he does know, he thought he probably should have shared this one instead. So he did. There’s no rule among my coworkers that you can’t repeat artists. Yet.
Just wait until I share nothing but 3 Doors Down, Creed, and Hootie and the Blowfish.
But it’s Silverchair, so I already know what to expect, right? Well, kinda. Compared to Diorama, this album is more even keeled. Maybe less exciting on the whole, but maybe also better because of it. I mean, there are still some rather manic tracks, like If You Keep Losing Sleep, and slightly heavier tracks, like Mind Reader. Those two, along with Insomnia, are the highlights from this album.
Mostly, this album is just good Australian alternative rock from the 2000s, which is more rock than alternative. I see why something like this would appeal more (compared to Diorama) to a wider audience. Being the follow-up to Diorama, I can tell Silverchair has matured. I now understand more what he’s singing about. More, being the operative word there. I still don’t get it all, but I think that would come with consecutive listens.
And, like Diorama, there weren’t really any lowlights. So Silverchair secures themselves in the 3/5 spot. If I was using a different scoring system, I’d probably give them a 7/10. But my iTunes only does five stars, so that’s what I’m sticking with.
Less Than Jake – Anthem (2003)
Let me start by saying I don’t assert that Less Than Jake is one of the greatest bands ever. Sometimes they rock out so much, I feel like the groove gets away from them. And between their two singers, I’d rather take Chris’ kind of gritty vocals over Roger’s kind of whiney ones. Maybe Roger should just sing harmony.
But I still really enjoy them. They’ve been a huge influence on me as a musician in ska bands. So of course I especially enjoy the sound of their horns. Whenever I record horns, I play with the mix to get them sounding like Less Than Jake’s horns. While Look What Happened is one of my favorite tracks (although there’s a different version with a horn bridge between the intro and the first verse) and The Science of Selling Yourself Short is possibly the most played track off this album, I really like the horn soli on Escape from the A-Bomb House, even if I don’t like all of the rest of the song. 3/5
Here’s what my coworkers thought about Less Than Jake:
“This album caught me by surprise. When Paul mentioned over and over that they had great horns I was expecting something with a lot of brass. But what I found was 90’s style alt rock. I enjoyed the album, although admittedly I couldn’t recall any songs after listening or pausing, which tells me this band would do really well in a live performance, but air play won’t be their thing. Thanks for sharing, I doubt I would have ever listened to this album otherwise.” 3/5 -Tim
“I remember listening to and enjoying Less Than Jake more than the average ska/alt-punk band back in high school, but I don’t think I ever heard this album (which came out while I was on my mission). Although, I had completely forgotten about the song “Look What Happened.” That’s one I know I’ve heard a ton, because somehow I knew a lot of the words to it haha. It must’ve been something my friend Blair blasted a lot in his car back in the day when we’d drive around just listening to tunes. Anyway, the album itself was pretty fun and nostalgic. This sort of music usually doesn’t have much variety from song to song, many of them sharing the same basic chord structure. But Less Than Jake is always able to throw some great energy into their stuff. I do believe I’ve seen them live before, long ago, and that energy did translate live pretty well. Overall, the high energy and nostalgia gives it lots of bonus points, even if the songs themselves aren’t anything especially incredible.” 7/10 -Chris