I Know Just What You’re Saying

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 Cars – The Cars (1978)

This is (apparently) the album that ushered in new wave rock. At least into the mainstream. I haven’t heard much from this album, pretty much just the singles, but what I heard doesn’t sound a lot like later ’80s new wave. But I like what I’ve heard from The Cars. I’m excited to listen to more.

I had heard the first three songs on the album, and they’re good. And there’s a reason the well-known songs are well-known. They’re the best songs on the album. I especially like the kind of blue-grassy guitar on the chorus of My Best Friend’s Girl.

Of the things I hadn’t heard before, I really liked All Mixed Up. It was a little darker. And obviously ’80s, but I think it has worn better than some Michael Jackson. I’m in Touch with Your World was pretty … interesting. The synth sound in the chorus was alright, but the main riff was weird and repetitive. It wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t really care for it. The only lowlight of the album for me was Moving in Stereo. It was kind of un-engaging (I think it would have been better if it were shorter – but it would still feel like a filler track) and just felt dated.

I liked this album, but I’m not convinced that there’s much of a reason to move past listening to just the hits. 3/5

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995)

This is timely because I got a new computer earlier this year and have been putting music on it (slowly, because I’m making an effort to listen to everything, rate it, and make sure that I want it to take up space on my hard drive). Just last week (or maybe the week before, but still not all that long ago), I put No Doubt’s catalog in my iTunes and started going through all their stuff. I might have to go back and listen to a few of their tracks, but I’d be listening to this album this week anyway.

I love the funk reggae feel of Different People, but You Can Do It takes it to the next level. The keyboard sound is sweet, but I feel like there’s still too much going on behind the muted trumpet solo. I feel like they should mellow it out even more before dialing it up for the final chorus. Sunday Morning and World Go ‘Round are pretty sweet reggae songs, too. Mostly. Sunday Morning also goes a little punk rock near the end, and I like it.

I don’t really care for The Climb and Sixteen. The latter especially feels dirty. Grungey I guess. I usually approve of musicians bucking musical stereotypes, but I don’t think it really worked in this case. I think it would have been better like stereotypical, clean alternative ska rock. Like World Go ‘Round, although that’s more reggae. And I don’t really care for the bridge on Happy Now, but the chorus makes up for it.

I think the title track is a great way to end an album (despite the fact that the previous song said they were going to end it on that). I think it carries over a little Oingo Boingo influence. And ’80s metal guitar for the solo. When Chris shared this album, he said he always loved the Star Wars riffs being played in the outro. If I remember right, they used to open shows with the Imperial March. I’m sure you can find it online.

And really, how can you not like Spiderwebs (ooh, that opening) and especially Don’t Speak? I think Don’t Speak is one of the best songs ever written. Even though I don’t always love Gwen Stefani’s voice. I’m not sure I can say what it is or even when. I just don’t always love it. I’ve already said that I like the vocals on the Glee version more.

I mostly like her voice on Hey You. And the harpsichord, but there’s also some hints of Indian music, and I really want more of that. It’s a pretty middle of the road song without it. And as it is, it’s just a tease.

I’m not sure this is my favorite No Doubt album (and I know they’re not my close to my favorite ’90s ska punk band), but it’s a good one with some great songs. 3/5

INXS – Kick (1987)

I haven’t really heard much INXS. And my first impression, with Guns in the Sky, wasn’t exactly a great one. It wasn’t terrible, but I was really glad when the whole album wasn’t like that. I’m not sure I love New Sensation, but as the song went on, it grew on me. The title track felt similar but to a lesser extent.

Devil Inside was really good, too. Maybe it’s everything this week working together, but it reminded me of some of Oingo Boingo’s more mainstream stuff. Wild Life was another of the better songs on the album. It had a groove, it was musically interesting, but it didn’t get too weird. Never Tear Us Apart was the best, though. It was just different from everything else this week, and musically interesting (if a little simple at times). I’m not sure I could put a genre label on it, but I’d listen to more stuff like that. I also liked The Loved One (but I think the original is better) and Tiny Daggers.

There were other songs that were okay, but just didn’t really do anything for me. Like Need You Tonight, but that was the only real lowlight. All in all, like some of The Cars, it’s obviously dated, but not painfully so. It’s actually pretty good. 3/5

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask soundtrack (2000)

Except I’m not actually sharing the whole 112-track, 1:58:49-long soundtrack. I’m sharing an officially licensed 2001 album that features orchestral arrangements of selections from the game. It’s still performed by synthesizers, but they are higher quality than the N64 could produce.

There are a couple of reasons why I decided to share this album this week:

  1. This is one of my favorite games from this franchise and it has some great music.
  2. Second, the game deals with some kind of creepy stuff (mostly in side-quests and subtext), which is great with Halloween coming up.
  3. On my commute I try to read, but I finished a library book three weeks ago and since we’re moving to Salt Lake, I didn’t want to check out another book. Two weeks ago I read a book I had bought a while ago, but I don’t want to buy another book, because that’s just one more thing to pack. So I’ve been playing some vigigames on the train, and last week I finished the 3D remaster of Majora’s Mask.
  4. Four years ago was The Legend of Zelda‘s 25th anniversary, which they celebrated (in part) by having an orchestra perform the music from the series. There were three concerts – one in Tokyo, one in London, and one in L.A.  The next year they decided to make a tour of it. They came to many places, including Denver and Phoenix, but not Salt Lake. They had a second season (aptly named “The Second Quest”) and the closest they got to me was California. However, their third season (which they’re calling “The Master Quest)(I don’t know what they could call their fourth season – “Hero Quest”?) came to Salt Lake this Thursday. And I talked my wife into going with me.

So I felt like it was appropriate to share this album. You can download this album (and more, if you’re into Zelda soundtracks) here.

Some of the highlights include Termina Field (Termina being the name of the place you are trying to save in this particular adventure), which includes the main Legend of Zelda theme; Deku Palace (the deku being a race of people, like ents from The Lord of the Rings, but less tree and more shrub) and Oath to Order, the arrangements of which are better than the in-game originals; Farewell to Gibdos (gibdos being the Zelda equivalent of mummies) aka Music Box House, which just seems out-of-place; Carnival of Time, which is essentially the end credits; and Zora Hall (the zoras being an aquatic race more like the Creature from the Black Lagoon than mermaids) and The Indigo-Go’s tune (The Indigo-Go’s being an in-game band), which I think are just fabulous pieces of music.

My friends indulged my geekiness. Here’s what they had to say:

“I only listened to this once. I never played Majora’s Mask, so the music was unfamiliar, so no nostalgia value there. For a soundtrack it was actually pretty good. Good movement, well arranged etc. But overall I had a really hard time listening to the obviously sequenced, sampled rendition. Were this performed by a real symphony, I’d probably like it quite a bit, but as it is, it was kind of painful. It just sounded so fake. I like chiptunes, and maybe it would have been better were it played by the 64. This was in some awful zone between deliberately lo-fi and tolerably bad real symphony recordings. It sounded like it was trying to sound real and failing so miserably. The low score here is for the rendition, not for the music.” 2.4/5 – Spencer

“I admit, I’m biased when it comes to Zelda. But it is so intriguing to me how music composed initially at 8-bit could transition so well to symphonic composition. It just goes to prove that music is music. As far as this album goes, I admit that it is one of my favorite Zelda soundtracks, the first being A Link to the Past. There is a lot of depth and complexity to many of the tracks, and it just does a fantastic job of building the right mood for the moment (even though it can cause a bit of stress when you are trying to focus on the boss battles). So yeah, 5 stars.” – Tim

Share your own thoughts on The Cars, No Doubt, INXS or any Nintendo/The Legend of Zelda/Majora’s Mask music down in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “I Know Just What You’re Saying

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