Posts Tagged ‘Lou Reed’

Spotify My Soul – September 27

September 27, 2011

I’ve been traveling the past few weeks for work, and my blog output has suffered accordingly.  I have a bunch of things in the hopper, including a long overdue record review and my contribution to the 20 year anniversary celebration of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind (boy, that makes me feel old).  In the meantime, here’s a quick look at some of what I’ve been listening to when I’ve had a chance to log on to Spotify.

  • The Horrors, Skying.  I’d seen some billboards for this album around the neighborhood and an ad on Spotify touting some English music mag’s (NME?) proclamation that this was an inventive album convinced me to give this a listen.  I didn’t know that aping The Church and Disintegration-era Cure was inventive, but I’m not the writer for a major music mag.  As you can tell, I wasn’t impressed.
  • DJ Shadow, I Gotta Rokk.  Newish EP from DJ Shadow, more of a return to some of his earlier work in my opinion.  I had already heard the title track and loved its combinations of guitar riffs and drum fills that evoke memories of the headbangin’ 80s.  I also really liked the track Def Surrounds Us.  It combined some of the atmospherics of Entroducing with some of the more uptempo beats from his last album.
  • The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow.  This is a collection of some really pleasant songs.  Really enjoying listening to this, Joy Williams and John Paul White both have great voices and they work well together.  The spare accompaniments rightly let their voices shine, but are a nice complement.
  • Scott Walker, various songs from his self-titled 1 to 4 series.   I had never heard of Walker until I saw a documentary about his fascinating career and reading about Lou Reed (see below) for some reason reminded me of him.  Rising to fame with the Walker Brothers singing pop ballads, he left the group and forged out on his own, with a series of albums that continued to produce ballads, though the subject matter veered toward more adult topics that typical pop fare.  His velveteen voice is not for everyone (my girlfriend found him “creepy”), but I like it.  The voice and subject matter are often incongruent, it’s like if Tony Bennett was signing Trent Reznor lyrics, but I find the contrast likeable.
  • Lou Reed, Metal Machine Music.  I recently finished a very comprehensive history of the Velvet Underground from the Rough Guide series.  Based on this volume, I’d recommend the other books in the series if you want a completist account of a band.  Not only did it chronicle the history of the band, but had a thorough look at each of the VU records as well as the solo careers of each band member.  Lou Reed has had a prolific, though sometimes spotty, career that I didn’t fully appreciate.  One album in particular caught my eye.  Metal Music Machine is an instrumental album, a seemingly odd choice for a talented lyricist like Reed.  Not only it is an instrumental piece, but an experimental one at that.  Broken up into four “songs” lasting sixteen minutes apiece, this is all feedback and noise.  I made it through in one sitting (I’m sort of surprised I made it), and I’ll say that theoretically it was interesting as an artistic statement, but I will probably never listen to it again.  The last of the four pieces, in particular, verged on unlistenable, a repeating sound that reminded me of a dentist’s drill almost drove me over the edge to hit “STOP”.  Reed claims this wasn’t the big FU to his record label that it seemed, but even if that wasn’t his original intent, that’s what I see it as.  And to think that only a few years before, he had created a song like this:

The Year Was 1989…

April 1, 2010

So Alive – Love and Rockets from Love and Rockets

I was a sophomore in high school, Tim Burton’s Batman was released and Straight Up, a song by a future American Idol judge, was dominating the charts.  But I was more interested in this song.

I think I was initially drawn to it because of my discovery around the same time of Lou Reed’s solo work, specifically Walk on the Wild Side.  This song reminded me of it, especially with the female background singers.  Apparently, this was not an accident.  According to the writeup of the song, this song was a hat-tip in Lou’s general direction.

This song is definitely one that fits the less is more maxim.  For a band that generally rocked with plenty of guitars, I’m pretty sure there is no guitar at all in this song.  A pretty rudimentary drum beat, some synths lingering in the background, and the low gravelly voice of the lead singer.  The lyrics are pedestrian, but the way they’re sung is what makes it work.  And then those background singers.  But it all clicks together.  I’d like to think Lou approved.

The American public did, as this song incredibly made it to number 3 at its peak.  Sadly, they could never repeat the success.  Too bad, maybe we could have had one of these guys as a batshit crazy American Idol judge.  Ok, maybe it’s better it worked out the way it did.