For a couple of 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.
Styx – Paradise Theatre (1981)
I really love Styx. They hold a special place in my heart. Part of it is this game and part is because my computer with all my music died a year and a half ago (and I’ve only slowly been putting all my music back on my new computer), but I don’t think I’ve really listened to any Styx in a year – not since Spencer shared The Grand Illusion.
They were also one of my first real concerts. And that reminds me of the girl I dated for most of high school and my first year of college. Too Much Time on My Hands is probably the one song of Styx’s which reminds me most of her. Not just from this album, but of any of their songs. I can’t hear the hand claps or the bass on the chorus without thinking of her. I have some good memories, but the overall experience is kind of a negative one. This isn’t a relationship blog, but is nostalgia always positive? Is there a different word for bittersweet nostalgia?
I’ve listened to this album a ton, but I don’t think it was until I started listening to it this time as more of a critic that I realized how funky reggae there is in Nothing Ever Goes as Planned. It’s a sweet tune. A lot of great music is the best example of synergy. But with this song, while I really like all of the individual elements, I’m not sure the overall effect is better than the sum of the parts. It’s just good.
On that note, I love the bookends and how they tie into The Best of Times. Individually, those three tracks are just okay, but together they bring a little extra cohesion to the album.
Back to how much I love Styx: Rockin’ the Paradise is my favorite tune on this album, and the only one on this album I’ve covered. She Cares is (in my opinion) an underrated tune. I think it’s different than their normal fair, which is nice. Unlike Half-Penny, Two-Penny which sounds (ironically) like a more patriotic Miss America. 3.45/5
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“Sorry I’m going to rush this out. My dad had this on a (bootleg) cassette tape so I heard a lot of these songs in my early youth, but as cassettes made way for CDs we stopped listening to it, so I had forgotten most of the songs. Some 5 or 6 years ago I decided to listen to all the styx I could find on youtube and one of them was this album which was a cool, “AH that’s there these semi-familiar songs come from!” moment. I don’t think I’ve listened to it again since then. I think DeYoung had more influence on this album than Shaw (I’m just guessing) and its good, but it does feel to have less rock than the earlier albums. Favorite track is SnowBlind. Just lots of movement, great sounds, cool track.” 4.2/5 – Spencer
Weezer – Weezer (2016)
I’ve been a fan of Weezer ever since my brother introduced me to their first self-titled album on a road trip somewhere, sitting in the back seat listening to our discmans. Discmen? Whatever. I was a pretty regular follower of their stuff until Raditude. The blue album was fresh and different. Pinkerton was weird. The green album was a sell-out album (but still great). Maladroit was weird. Make Believe was a nice middle ground between blue and green. The red album really pushed the envelope of what I thought about them. It wasn’t middle ground, but more like the ultimate combination of all lessons learned to that point. Raditude was more like Make Believe – different because it’s still Weezer, but mostly just safe. And I feel like that’s where they’ve been ever since.
This album is exactly what I expect from them, but not really what I want. This isn’t a bad album. The middle third was really good, just not as fresh as the blue or red albums. The other songs were fine, but didn’t really do anything for me.
I will say that the whole album felt cohesive (more so than any of their others, I think), like it was some summer evening beach party. (Girl We Got a) Good Thing seemed Beach Boys-y. Endless Bummer is probably the most notable since it’s just acoustic guitar and some good harmony for the first half. It’s a pretty simple song, but I think that’s what makes it good. I think my overall favorite on the album is King of the World.
I also found the bonus track Prom Night. It grew on me, but I think it’s weaker than the other songs on the album. 3.27/5
From my friends:
“This is a good album, and I had to try really hard not to compare it to the earlier Weezer stuff. On it’s own merits it is definitely a 3, but compared to the early albums it is a 2. It just felt like they wanted to be new, but needed to be old, and never really settled on what they should sound like. There were some good tracks, and the middle is definitely better than the beginning or end, but overall it was just a good album. I would probably be disappointed if this was all I heard at a concert.” 3/5 – Tim
Unwritten Law – Unwritten Law (1998)
When we started this game, I had no idea we’d still be going after two years. I don’t want to say I’ve run out of ideas, but I’ve definitely plucked the low-hanging fruit.
I’m snowballing off my share from last week. Here’s some late ’90s pop punk rock with (I’m pretty sure) less swearing. Cailin, Holiday, Close Your Eyes come to mind. If you’ve heard any song off this album, it’s probably Cailin. I’m not a super fan of the last track, but even with it, I give this album 4/5.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“Interesting album, and much better than last week’s punk selection. They were consistent all the way through the album, which is something I think that shows polish and a level of professionalism. Nothing really was a high point for me, but I did enjoy pretty much every track. I would listen again if I was in the mood for punk.” 3/5 – Tim
“This album kind of made me realize how much bias I have in my select punk listening. Basically I don’t care for punk, unless its laced with nostalgia.
That said, there were some cool tracks here. It seemed fairly straight ahead at first. But the verse of California Sky with the reverb was a cool change of tone. Followed by Callin, I was really enjoying it. Underground was another one that seemed a good different. Before I Go as well was a good change of pace in the album.
So while not my favorite genre, I could listen to this more. 3.9/5 with reservations that I might like it even more if I ever do come back and listen again.” – Spencer