For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
I think this is the only Beach Boys album I own. Or have even listen to all the way through. I know it might not actually be true, but it seems like some people are “Beach Boys” people rather than “Beatles” people, others are “Rolling Stones” people, and still others are “Aerosmith” people. Sure there’s some overlap, but I’m a Beatles guy. And I can totally see how Tim, who shared this album, is a Beach Boys kind of guy.
This week I started a new job and I have a 45 minute commute (for now, while we’re getting things in order to buy a house significantly closer to work). This week has been mostly a lot of meetings. Or online training modules. So while I listened to everything while I worked, I also turned this on a couple of days for my commute. And it was great for the drive.
I’ve always loved Sloop John B more than some of the other, more well-known tracks from this album (although you can never really go wrong with Wouldn’t it be Nice). But some other “hidden” (because as the #2 greatest album of all time, it’s not hidden anymore – but still) highlights include Here Today (where I can totally hear this album’s influence on The Beatles) and I’m Waiting for the Day.
This is a good album. I totally get that it’s an influence for my influences, but directly it’s just good for me. Not necessarily something that makes me want to go out and make music like it. 3/5
Stan Getz & João Gilberto – Getz/Gilberto (1964)
And this is the kind of album that is great for after a long day of work; my kid is in bed, my wife goes to the gym and I’m sweeping and mopping the kitchen. Spencer shared this because I said that my suggestion had some chill elements to it, but this is chill to the extreme.
I have listened to (and played) singles from Getz, Gilberto and Jobim (including Girl from Ipanema), but I hadn’t heard this album before. I really liked Só Danço Samba and Vivo Sonhando. They were just different from what I expected.
I wasn’t really so much a fan of João Gilberto’s vocals throughout the album. It wasn’t the foreign language – it was the sound and quality of his voice. It just felt cheap, like there wasn’t anyone else around who wanted to sing, so they just had him do it. They should have had his wife sing all of it.
The only other kind of lowlight was that sometimes the solos got a little too caught up in themselves and went on a little long. O Grande Amor felt like the worst for me, but maybe just because it was near the end of the album. Some solos on the album kept my interest, but some lost me.
It’s still a good album, if you know what you’re getting yourself into and you’re in the mood for that. And sometimes I am. And sometimes the stuff I write has its roots in stuff like this. Not often, but it’s still good to come back to. 3/5
John Williams – Greatest Hits 1969-1999
And this. This is what helps me get through those stupid new employee online learning modules.
I think greatest hits albums tend to skew toward higher ratings. But I think it’s (slightly) different with classical music and soundtracks. Some soundtrack stuff is just atmospheric and doesn’t really have many melodic elements to it, so it makes sense to listen to an album like this. Although then you run the risk of not including other good (or even great) tracks because you only want to include the one exceptional track from the movie and represent a wide variety of movies. So I just have a hard time reviewing all of this. Because the nature of a greatest hits album naturally skews the rating, I feel like I have to skew my rating system.
There were some things I had never heard before (like Cadillac of the Skies or 1941) which really hit me and I liked a lot. Cadillac of the Skies seemed very John Williams-y. If I had not specifically been listening to an album of John Williams, I would have immediately known it was something he composed. I think that’s both a strength and a weakness. But still, now I want to watch Empire of the Sun, just because of the music.
Star Wars has some odd representation on this album. The main titles to A New Hope are good, and so is the Imperial March. But the Luke and Leia theme I could have done without. And one of the best songs on the set is the one of the only good things to come out of The Phantom Menace. That is, of course, Duel of the Fates.
The Indiana Jones franchise is represented similarly. Of course The Raider’s March is great, but I don’t really care for the Temple of Doom track. And the Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra is good, too.
The theme to Jurassic Park, Hymn to the Fallen, and The Reivers (another movie I’ve never heard of) are better than average. But I think my favorite out of all of these might be the music from Hook. I totally get that some of this music means more in the context of the film, but Flight to Neverland is great either way. Plus, this suggestion is coming right before the first anniversary of Robin Williams’ death.
Some random lowlights include The Days Between from Stepmom and Look Down, Lord from Rosewood. I just didn’t care about them. They didn’t really do anything for me. If this weren’t a greatest hits, I’d score it higher. But since I’m scoring on a stricter scale, I’m giving this a 3/5.
Erato – Pictures of Pets (2014)
This week I shared something I think is quite different from anything else I’ve shared over the last year. I discovered these girls last year because of Spotify, and to this day they remain the only Spotify ad I’ve ever clicked on. On purpose anyway.
They met at college, where they were part of the school choir. One night, they decided to make a little video of them doing the “cups game” rhythm to a song I have never heard before, but is apparently pretty popular called Call Your Girlfriend. Anyway, it went viral and they started to find some success. They did backing vocal’s on Passion Pit’s Gossamer, and released their own acoustic version of one of those songs.
By the way, they also did a version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with those same cups which I like better. Although it’s in Swedish (of which I only understand a very, very little), everything else I’ve heard them sing is English.
Their music is pretty ethereal and it’s all well done. The real highlight of their music is their incredible, tight harmony. I’m a sucker for good harmony. Everything they’ve released before this album (just a bunch of singles) has been acoustic, and there’s a bit of that on here, but most of it has more of an electronic feel to it. Mostly bass and drum machine with the majority of the melodic elements coming from their voices.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“In the first track, I was kind of hoping more harmony like the Ditty Bops – that really tight jazz harmony. This just sounds like a choir. A bunch of girls who are good singers, but its not tight to where it sounds like a single unit. Its hard to know these days how produced things are. Can people really sing that well? I’ve heard it before live, so I know it is, but I really don’t know how many artists today are just autotuned and edited to perfection. I believe even the very best singers are autotuned a little these days. Hard to say. I think I’ve become used to hearing things “too perfect.”
The next few were tighter. Timing wise they aren’t locked in unison, but its more enjoyable. But “The Thrill of Making Out”? I did not care for that. Its just sad. Probably very realistic in a lot of peoples lives, but to me its like someone is trying to sell their phone-snapped selfie as art. I usually prefer paintings, if that makes sense. I like music that tells a story; I guess I just didn’t like the story. That one really hurt the album for me. Mariestad was more like what I enjoy, snippets of a story, things hinted at but a lot of it left for your imagination to fill in. Talking about Mario Kart, a tree house, things that aren’t really germane to the story but add little highlights.
I kind of like the vocal driven minimal electronic sound. The acoustic songs like Piece of You are nice too. So 2 lowlights (Everybody’s and Thrill) but some nice things going on here. I think it gets a solid 3.5.”
Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments below