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.
Queen – A Kind of Magic (1986)
Yep. Tim shared yet another Queen album. Not that it’s a bad thing. Or that I’m surprised. I just wouldn’t have done it. At this rate, it’ll take three years for Tim to share their whole catalog. Who knows if we’ll even be sharing music then. I’m kind of amazed this game has lasted as long as it has (never mind that we’ve brought in some fresh blood). Anyway….
There are some great songs on here: One Vision, A Kind of Magic, and Who Wants to Live Forever are classics. I also loved the piano version of Forever that was included as a bonus track (and I didn’t include in my rating).
But there’s also some … other stuff, too. I’ve never really been a fan of One Year of Love. I mean, it’s good to have a little musical variety, but that song has never really done it for me. However, I never realized that they reference the next song in the lyrics. I’ve heard half of these before, but a few were a surprise. Pain is So Close to Pleasure was one of those. It was alright. I didn’t love it, but it sounds like it wouldn’t be out-of-place right next to a Michael Jackson song. Except this doesn’t sound as dated as MJ’s stuff. The dated stuff comes later, with Don’t Lose Your Head. It was okay, but I didn’t love it.
Princes of the Universe is one of those songs I’ve heard, but not a ton. It rocks. I’m totally willing to admit that it and Don’t Lose Your Head are just lacking nostalgia, but they’re not songs I’m dying to turn on again.
Except for One Year Love, there really weren’t any low lights. It’s balanced out by One Vision and Who Wants to Live Forever (probably the best song on the album). But while it’s a good album, I don’t think it’s Queen’s best. 3/5
The Sleeping Philosophers – Kayanga (2015)
All I know about these guys is that they are from Spain and they use open source software to do their recording. Actually, I’m only mostly sure of all that.
Pink Tones totally threw me for a loop. It was upbeat and bounce-y and poppy and I really liked it. But (and I’m totally judging the album by its cover) it was not at all something I would have expected looking at the album art.
I mean, the title track had some Greek, Russian and old west feeling moments and was not what I was expecting (because I never expect that), but it felt kind of appropriate considering the album art. There were others, too.
I liked the groove on Mirrors, but the song seemed mostly just … busy. The bridge was great. I think the whole song would have been better if it was just a little more simplified. The Seed felt like a spiritual successor to Oingo Boingo. It’s weird and kinda creepy and carnival-esque, but not really new wave at all. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at first, but as the song went on, I liked it more and more. Russian Roulette was a nice mixture of the two previous songs. It was musically interesting without being busy. Parts of it felt like a western (in that way, it was a nice bookend to the album opener) and parts felt almost surf rock, and mostly it was just great. 3/5
Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
Surprise, surprise. Not exactly in response to Tim returning to his go-to band, Chris chose to revisit Radiohead. I don’t hate it. I like this more than In Rainbows or The King of Limbs. But I still liked The Bends more.
My general impression is this album is darkly ethereal. There’s a lot of space on a lot of the songs. They don’t always feel the need to move right along to something else. They’re content to just let the chords and mood build. I would have liked Idioteque more if they stuck to that more nebulous feeling. The drums were a little much. I liked the song alright, but it could have been better with half as much drums. I don’t really like Thom Yorke’s voice. I think that might be my biggest hang up. And I think Idioteque suffered the most because of it.
The National Anthem wasn’t quite that way. It had some drive to it. The bass got a little repetitive, but it wasn’t bad. I liked the horns and the ’50s spaceship sound effect. I don’t love how sometimes the song got a little out of control (which, I’ll grant them was probably a purely musical form of political commentary), but I didn’t hate it. Optimistic was somewhere in between. I liked the lyrics on that track the most.
I didn’t really love the title track. Musically, it wasn’t bad. There was some odd electronic noise, like tape rewind effects that I found distracting. And I think I would have liked the vocals if they were just “straight” – as how you might expect at a live show.
By the way, I think his vocals were best on Motion Picture Soundtrack (Morning Bell wasn’t bad either). I think that was a great way to end the album. It took the slightly dark mood, and just by adding a harp turned it into optimistic psychedelia. But it wasn’t my favorite song on the album. That would be Treefingers. I have no idea what they were thinking when they wrote it, but I loved how it was very hollow and rich and a little melancholy. Maybe I liked it so much because Thom Yorke wasn’t singing…. 3/5
Carolina Liar – Coming to Terms (2008)
This is a band from Sweden, although I think the lead singer is American. This is their debut album. It’s pretty straight forward indie alt rock with a little electronic influence. It reminds me of the spring when my wife and I were first dating. Some of the highlights on the album for me include Beautiful World, Show Me What I’m Looking For, Last Night and I’m Not Over.
I don’t really care for Simple Life, the title track and When You are Near. They also have a whole second album which came out in 2011 and, while not terrible, I don’t think is as good as this one. We’re about due for a third album I would think.
Also of note, the acoustic guitar on Something to Die For reminds me of something from the late ’90s or early ’00s, but I can’t figure out what. But I like it.
Here’s what my friends had to say about it:
“I liked this one the most at first listen, but didn’t really come back to it. The vocals are nice, good style. I think I just like the sound a lot. Show Me What I’m Looking For just had a nice sound. Something to Die For had nice movement. Giving it a quick review this morning. Its a really enjoyable listen. Good pop-rock stuff. Not mind blowing either, but I really enjoyed it.” 4/5 – Spencer
Leave your own thoughts on these albums in the comments below.