For almost two years, 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.
A quick heads up: The versions of these albums on Spotify have some bonus tracks (eg. all of the tracks from the UK and US releases – they shared 8 of the 11 tracks – of Jimi’s, plus the b-sides for the three singles). Unlike last week (which had crazy amounts of bonus tracks), I’m listening to all of these.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced? (1967)
While we had a little Jimi back when we shared some live albums, this is the first of Jimi (et al)’s studio stuff.
I think my favorite tune off of this isn’t any of the tunes that still get radio play. I loved I Don’t Live Today. I think it was groovy, psychedelic without being psychotic, and musically interesting. I do think the drums were a little loud in the mix. But that’s a consistent problem on the album. May This Be Love was the same way (and the constant panning was a bit much), but the songwriting was solid.
I’m not a super fan of the reversed guitar and drums on the title track, but the lead guitar reminded me of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls, and that was good.
Every time I hear Purple Haze, I hate the intro. But in the middle of the song, when they play the intro again, I think it fits. I’m always amazed how short the song is. Like Bohemian Rhapsody, Free Bird, and Stairway to Heaven, this is a classic rock standard. And unlike so many others, I don’t think this one is over-hyped. I think it’s the paragon of a guitar solo on mind-bending drugs. Although I do have to say I don’t care for the trippy vocalizations that distract from the solo. Same with the jazzy instrumental Third Stone from the Sun, which was also pretty good other than some psychedelic ghost voices.
Generally, I don’t know that I love Hendrix’s vocals. They’re just alright. I know that’s not the reason you listen to Hendrix, but better vocals would still improve the music. 51st Anniversary was one of the only tracks that the vocals didn’t really bother me. It was a pretty sweet track all around. 3/5
“I am already familiar with all the tracks on this album. Purple Haze was my nickname in High School (and my name in the year book) and a lot of friends still call me this today. Strange but true. Regardless of this worthless information, it’s a great album for its time with mind-blowing guitar solos, distortion, and acid-induced lyrics. I love Hey Joe and Foxey Lady. Even though I have most of his music, including box sets, I don’t listen to much of his stuff anymore. I have to give it a high rating based on the influence this album had on music and the fact you can hear half of these songs on any classic rock station still today.” 4/5 – David
“Yeah I did it. I gave Jimi three stars. It is not for lack of talent, or legacy. I actually have a lot of respect for Hendrix. But as an album, it just isn’t great for me. There isn’t a lot of cohesion throughout the album. Sure some songs are absolute classics, and are frankly amazing, but the rest of the album is just kind of sub-par for me. I feel bad for his band mates too…it is obvious they were not a band, but were pulled together by the label to support him. When that happens, you typically see bands that are not well rounded, and it is clear in this case. Also, you know how I typically feel about Jazz…and this album is 90% Jazz using rock instruments and methods. The non-jazz stuff is what made him a legend, and there just wasn’t enough of that on the album for me.” 3/5 – Tim
Roy Orbison – Mystery Girl (1989)
I’ve only heard a few of Orbison’s hits over the years. Listening to this album, there’s something about his voice I associate with the ’60s. Knowing this album came out in 1989 made me feel like his voice was kind of anachronistic somehow. And at times it reminded me of a mix between Brandon Flowers (of The Killers) and Willie Nelson’s voices. The one song I didn’t really care for his voice was In the Real World. I felt it sounded like he recorded it before he got used to a new set of dentures or something.
She’s a Mystery to Me kind of blew me away. Part of it was I thought I had heard it before, but I was wrong. I had heard a similarly titled Lovin’ Spoonful tune which is almost as good. Roy’s tune had way more emotion behind it. Musically, it reminded me of a de-chiptuned I Fight Dragons song (with a totally different singer).
And the great tunes keep coming. I don’t know why, I haven’t seen Watchmen in a long time, but when The Comedians came on and I saw the name, I thought about the … er, “super hero.” As it turns out, the song is great. The same song written today would be more bitter, but this one is just kinda melancholy.
You May Feel Me Crying was an odd mix of embarrassingly honest lyrics and ’80s-pop tinged country rock. And I liked it. It just wan’t at all anything that I ever expected to hear. There were two bonus tracks not on the Spotify version I looked up, too. But they didn’t really do anything for me. You May Feel Me Crying was a good end to the album. 3/5
“Its kinda funny to me that this came from 1989. It sounds really old school. Modern recording but the style totally still seems that 50s pop stuff. And actually the 12 string rhythm guitar reminds me exactly of the canned rhythm accompaniment that our electric piano we had when I was growing up. I’m having a hard time getting over that. He does have a good voice though.
Its a bit like the Chuck Berry album a few weeks ago: the man pioneered a sound. Sure, the electric pianos are emulating Roy, but nowadays this is old stuff. The fact that this was recorded 30 years after his first hits doesn’t change that much. Just a bit nicer recording of an old sound to me. That’s not a problem, I just don’t care much for that sound.” 3.1/5 – Spencer
“His voice is amazing, what can you say? I found the songs starting to sound the same – however – he changes his tone within the song to make it more interesting. He is a baritone with a three-four octave range (I had to look that up- I’m not that big of a fan). No one had a voice like Orbison and never will again. I think this man was an amazing singer due to his unique voice alone. The Only One was the best track on this album mainly due to the horns.” 3/5 – David
Zero 7 – The Garden (2006)
Here’s an album by a band I’ve never heard of. However, I have heard of a couple of the guest vocalists: José González and Sia. This was before Sia got super famous. And weird. Moment of honesty, even though I’ve heard of Sia, I’ve never actually heard anything by her. Until now that is.
Like Roy, there were two bonus tracks not on the Spotify version I looked up, too. Unlike Roy, I liked ’em. Dreaming was okay. I didn’t care for the drum machine, but I liked what was going on in the other voices during the chorus. And Sia’s vocals were a like a lounge singers – soft and easy, and a little slurred together. Inaminute was more even keeled. It’s kind of dreamy and chill. And I liked it more than the other instrumental on the album, Seeing Things. That track just seemed stiff and robotic.
I also liked the electronic version of Futures more than the acoustic bonus track (it had more momentum) and the normal version of Throw it All Away much more than the remix. I think the normal version was the best track on the album. The chorus felt like something I would want to write, but the rest of it I doubt I would have done. The only downside to that track was the solo, which was just meh. But I liked the sound of it. Well, I guess I could have used more harmony, but I’m a sucker for harmony.
The (standard) album closer had plenty of great harmony. The jazzy waltz was pretty good, too. I like how the upbeat music played against the kind of morose lyrics. The Pageant of the Bizarre was another great tune that was strange without being deranged. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the almost country gospel part in the middle. It just didn’t seem to fit. This was my favorite of this week, although Jimi was really close. 3/5
“I’ve listened to one Zero 7 album before that I’d picked up randomly at the library. I liked it, but I’ve heard David talk about these guys before so I’m excited to hear this.
The vocals remind me of Alan Parsons project. Seeing things was cool. It went places. I didn’t really notice it the first listen through (busy). You’re my Flame felt too poppy and reduntant. I liked the jazzy groove of the 6/8 in your place. The remix of Throw it away was worse and the album I think was better without it.
The whole thing was chill and good, but I’m not sure I “got it” in one listen. I want to give this one some more listens though so I’ll go with the 4.0. I actually enjoyed Carbon Leaf better in the first listen, but this one felt deeper.” – Spencer
“I actually listened to this album twice in a row. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on here, both in terms of music, editing, and vocals. The songs really fit well together like a puzzle…each one is in the place it should be. I really liked the vocals, but I have to say this album has a trend here that I’m seeing too much, in my opinion, in modern music.
That trend is this tendency for guys with their own music software at home creating music, and hiring someone completely out of the blue to sing it because they line up with the concept…but the credit still primarily goes to the guy in the basement. I mean I can see the merits here, to create music that is more open and fluid with out restrictions placed by the performer you are “stuck” with. I personally like the touch that comes from a cohesive group that puts the time in with each other year after year. I think you lose something when rock/pop music is created in this one-man show method, and I don’t think the new stuff you get out of it is necessarily better or a good replacement. BUT, I think we will see more and more music created in this way, and with this model. It is just so much easier to do.
Back to the album though…it is really good and well deserving of 4 stars…which is another reason why we will see more and more like this.” 4/5 – Tim
Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School (2015)
When Annie came on, my first thought was that it sounded like later No Doubt covering a Michael Jackson song. As it went on, it felt less that way and just more modern ’80s tribute. The weird talking near the end I didn’t really care for, but the solo stuff right before that was pretty sweet.
Another highlight was Slumlord’s Re-Lease. I didn’t care for the “original” version so much, but the follow up track was my favorite of the album.
That’s actually how I felt about quite a bit of this album. There was just so much going on. I liked bits and pieces of each song (I listen to 8-bit soundtracks, remember? I can appreciate some chiptune.), but all together it was a bit much.
Not all of the tracks were that way. Or if they were (like Techno Clique or 61 Cygni Ave.), it didn’t bother me as much.
I’m not sure if that’s what bothered me about News from the Sun, or if it was some of the chord progressions in the chorus. Maybe it wasn’t even the chords so much as the synth voices he used. The ’80s bass actually grew on me as the song progressed.
This isn’t really my kind of music and I probably won’t come back to it, but it did get me tapping my feet or nodding my head at work and that’s not a bad thing. Plus some of my coworkers may think I’m a little crazy now. Or crazier. 2/5
“I was really excited to hear this. For some reason I was expecting more chip-tune sounds but that never delivered. It was an interesting listen. I kinda like the funky psychedelic dancey shoegaze blend in there, but at the same time, it comes off more arty and interesting than fun and entertaining. A lot of it seemed like most electronic music where it would be much better played on a huge PA system in a club that rattles your lungs. But what music isn’t better loud? So I’m a bit on the fence on this one.” 3.8 – Spencer
“My favorite of the week. This was like MGMT meets Prince. Annie, Street Level, The Glitzy Hive, and News from the Sun are some of my favorites. I wanted to bust out the mirror ball and get down. I used to see electronic bands like this when I lived in Dallas Texas. Lots of fun if you like to hit the dance floor and be an idiot. Early 80’s is alive and well with this release. I love it.” 4/5 – David
“This was a cool album. It felt very well put together. I thought the songs flowed well from one to the next, and overall it felt like there was a clear vision from start to finish. I would like to hear more…and I guess it is a mash up of two bands or creative efforts? Either way I need to look them up and listen to more.” 4/5 – Tim
Carbon Leaf – Indian Summer (2004)
A friend from Virginia (where these guys are from) turned me on to these guys in … 2007? This is their fifth album and their major label debut. Their stuff before this was OK (and some of their newer stuff gets pretty Celtic), but this album (and their next) is what got me hooked. It takes their more generic pop rock and adds some more folky elements. It’s still early 2000s alternative rock, but I like it.
Not that I think it’s amazing. It may not have impacted world or US culture, or even the music industry in any significant way, but I think it’s good songwriting and musicianship. I like it so I’m sharing it. And I’m getting toward the end of the list I made back when we started this game almost two years ago. There have been some additions along the way, plus things like David Bowie where there was a theme, I didn’t have anything to share, so I just picked something to share.
Anyway, Carbon Leaf’s best song (The War was in Color) comes off their next album (Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat), but as a whole I like this album better than that one. The only track I don’t care for on this album is Raise the Roof, partly because that seems like such a ’90s phrase. Back in 2014, they rerecorded this whole album. I’ve only listened to Indian Summer Revisited once, and it was okay, but it seems to have lost a little bit of the soul from the original album. You can listen to that if you want, but I think the original is better. If you like what you hear, I’d suggest checking out Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat. It’s very similar to this. They also rerecorded that album in 2015: Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat, Reneaux.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“This was good. Nice and chill. I liked how they mixed in the mandolin and other folksy stuff. I wouldn’t consider this folk rock though, since those touches were subtle. Nice though. I liked this sound. It really had me grooving this week. I wish I had time to listen to it a few times. Let Your Troubles Roll By really stuck out to me. I went back and listened to it again. I’ll have to give these guys some more attention.” 4.2/5 – Spencer
“This was a very beautiful album to listen to and easy on the ears. I did not have time to review this band on the Internet but I can dig the Celtic/Folk/Rock sound in small doses. Is it me or does the lead singer sound like Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong? Listen to the song Changeless for example. Maybe just me. I could listen to this album anytime and enjoyed the sound.” 3.5/5 – David
“This was a nice chill album. They have a really good sound and groove…and sadly, I recognized the Curious George 2 songs immediately. My kids love that monkey. They are much more polished than a band typically is on their “first” album. The flow of songs is really good, and the music never seems to drag on.” 4/5 – Tim