30 April 2013

30th April - Blackalicious' Blaing Arrow

Artist – Album: Blackilicious – Blazing Arrow
Released:  30th April 2002
Sounds Like: you’d like it

In rock, collaborations tend to be tedious, self-gratifying affairs designed to knock out a cheap hit single or when the respective parties have begun to run out of ideas. They remain rare things, and rarer still (almost on a par with a talking unicorn) is a good team up. For whatever reason – perhaps it’s a more sharing environment, or maybe the players are simply less pretentious – this is definitely not the case in hip hop and rap circles. Here, everyone gets in on the act, dishing out a verse each to all and sundry, or backing up the lead singer’s words with sporadic bleats of ‘yeah’, like a mild Tourette’s sufferer. Today’s album Blazing Arrow sees Blackalicious backed by some of the finest artists in the scene, with De La Soul and members of Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples getting in on the act, as well as less hip hop orientated artists such as Ben Harper, Zack de la Rocha and Gil Scott-Heron. Not only that, but the likes of DJ Shadow and ?uestlove appear as superstar producers.

Although they certainly don’t take anything away from the mix, Blackalicious’ skill and invention is such that this would still be a great listen even without the stellar supporting cast. Words are fired out with startling flow and consistency, and settle on each witty set up only briefly before moving on to the next, at a pace that leaves you gasping for breath. Their particular brand of hip hop sounds more modern than it is to me. It reminds of Action Bronson and Kendrick Lamarr, as well as more obvious references such as Outkast and Lupe Fiasco.

The title tracks samples seventies troubadour Harry Nilsson, has a bubbly backing (is that bong water, or something more innocent?), and culminates in a crescendo of strings. ‘First in Flight’ features the legendary Scott-Heron and is an impressive pulsating synthy effort. The distinctively voiced Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 (he sounds like an energetic Barry White rapping) brings the best out of ‘400 Miles’.  The whole album is a great refreshing listen and enhances the reputation of everyone involved. It’s also immediately loveable. Give it a spin.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Introduction: Bow and Fire – 1:06
2.       Blazing Arrow – 2:40
3.       Sky Is Falling – 2:26
4.       First in Flight – 4:32
5.       Green Light: Now Begin – 3:12
6.       4000 Miles – 4:35
7.       Nowhere Fast – 6:41
8.       Paragraph President – 5:09
9.       It’s Going Down – 3:44
10.   Make You Feel That Way – 3:26
11.   Brain Washers – 6:22
12.   Chemical Calisthenics – 3:21
13.   Aural Pleasure – 4:47
14.   Passion – 3:54
15.   Purest Love – 4:03
16.   Release (Part 1, 2 & 3) – 9:26
17.   Day One – 4:52

Listen to ‘Blazing Arrow’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdrossKXGb4

Also released on the 30th April:
2002: Trey Anastasio – Trey Anastasio

29 April 2013

29th April - Doves' The Last Broadcast

Artist – Album: Doves – The Last Broadcast
Released:  29th April 2002
Sounds Like: One of the albums of my teen years

The first gig I ever went to with just me, my friends, and no adult supervision was Doves at the Apollo circa the release of this record. Supported by the phenomenal Delgados, and aided by grainy video vignettes, Jim Goodwin and co’s pulsating indie rock and mesmeric melodies blew our tiny little minds. I remember leaving the gig in a state of euphoria and promptly snapped up a 6 foot tall poster of the album cover from a vendor outside the venue, which would go on to adorn my bedroom wall until well after I left university and which would periodically fall down and blanket me as I slept.

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really feel like Doves get the recognition they deserve and they’re often wrongfully grouped with the gloomy piano rockers such as Coldplay, Keane and Starsailor. From the samba tinged ‘There Goes the Fear’ to the slow burning ballad ‘Satellites’, the album is brilliantly consistent and consistently brilliant and should stand as a reminder of their true greatness.

The jangly pop of ‘Words’, the atmospheric ‘N.Y.’, the supremely aptly named ‘Pounding’, the creepy ‘Friday’s Dust’, and the beautiful album closer ‘Caught by the River’ - these were all songs that my fourteen year old self absolutely adored. It’s cool to think that at twenty four they still sound great to me.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Intro – 1:18
2.       Words – 5:42
3.       There Goes the Fear – 6:54
4.       M62 Song – 3:48
5.       Where We’re Calling From – 1:24
6.       N.Y. – 5:46
7.       Satellites – 6:50
8.       Friday’s Dust – 3:35
9.       Pounding – 4:45
10.   Last Broadcast – 3:22
11.   The Sulphur Man – 4:37
12.   Caught by the River – 5:55

Listen to ‘Caught by the River’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7JFqeoGeZ0

28 April 2013

28th April - Chicago Transit Authority's Chicago Transit Authority

Artist – Album: Chicago Transit Authority – Chicago Transit Authority
Released:  28th April 1969
Sounds Like: One big bluesy rock jam

It’s hard to imagine that this jazz-infused rock jam band would go on to become the M.O.R balladeers responsible for the fluffy pop of ‘If You Leave Me Now,’ released just seven years after this landmark debut.
Blending freewheeling rhythm & bass and euphoric horn sections with the guitar chops of Terry Kath – a guitarist so talented that even the great Jimi Hendrix was a fan – and the trio of bluesy vocalists courtesy of Kath, Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera, Chicago Transit Authority created epic soulful rock and roll jams that meandered between the banal and the brilliant. Of the former, frenetic fourteen minute wig out ‘Liberation’ may not be overly bad, just overlong and overwrought, but ‘Free Form Guitar’ is as horrifically pretentious as its title suggests. Meanwhile, nothing, here or elsewhere, gets much more brilliant than the funky cover of the Spencer Davis Group’s ‘I’m a Man’.
Although most of the tunes here are energetic muck arounds from the seven piece, there are softer elements and more structure in a couple of the tracks chosen as singles, such as ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ and ‘Questions 67 and 68’. Other highlights are the blues rock belter ‘Introduction’ and the politically charged ‘Someday (August 29, 1968)’.

Ultimately, the album serves as a great snapshot of a prodigiously talented group before they mellowed out and lost that edge, and, shorn of a few minute long solos and a few regrettable tracks, this would stand as one of the very best rock records around.

Albumaday... rating:  7/10

1.       Introduction – 6:35
2.       Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? – 4:35
3.       Beginnings – 7:54
4.       Questions 67 and 68 – 5:03
5.       Listen – 3:22
6.       Poem 58 – 8:35
7.       Free Form Guitar – 6:47
8.       South California Purples – 6:11
9.       I’m a Man – 7:43
10.   Prologue, August 29, 1968 – 0:58
11.   Someday (August 29, 1968) – 4:11
12.   Liberation – 14:38

Listen to ‘I’m a Man’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8vY3vAbAdQ

27 April 2013

27th April - Robyn's Robyn

Artist – Album: Robyn – Robyn
Released:  27th April 2005
Sounds Like: Sweet swede hip-pop

Ah, I have to admit, I’ve made a bit of mistake on today’s blog. Robyn’s Robyn was released on the 27th April 2005 but only in Sweden. It took nearly two years for it to come out over here, and in that time she shuffled the track listing and added a couple of great songs in the cover of The Teddybears’ ‘Cobrastyle’ and the absolutely phenomenal ‘With Every Heartbeat’. The latter in particular is so good that I was pretty disappointed when I realised I wouldn’t be listening to it, but, what luck, it turns out the whole record is chock full of hip hop/pop marvels regardless.

The back story is a belter – leaving her record label in the early years of the millennium as they tried to market her as the next Christina Aguilera, Robyn must have felt like her hopes of making it as a pop star were over. Instead, she accidently discovered acclaimed electro-gods The Knife (another Swedish group, there must be something in the water up there, Swedish music is amazing), and enamoured with their icy but gorgeous pop productions and independent releases, she founder her own record label Konichiwa Records and began recording songs for her fourth album.

The Knife were actually brought in to produce ‘Who’s That Girl’, one of many highlights. ‘Handle Me’ (containing the unbelievable put down “you're a selfish, narcissistic, psycho-freakin', boot-lickin' creep”) and ‘Be Mine!’ are also excellent pop gems. She raps with surprising lucidity and flow in her second language in ‘Konichiwa Blues’, and slows it down beautifully in the likes of ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Should Have Known’. That Robyn managed to produce (in both senses of the word) such a great record even without the glorious synth-pop of ‘With Every Heartbeat’ marks her out as one of 21st century music’s true treasures.

Albumaday... rating:  7/10

1.       Curriculum Vitae – 1:53
2.       Who’s That Girl – 3:47
3.       Handle Me – 3:47
4.       Robotboy – 3:31
5.       Be Mine! – 3:27
6.       Bionic Woman – 0:16
7.       Crash and Burn Girl – 3:35
8.       Tomteverkstan – 0:17
9.       Konichiwa Blues – 2:37
10.   Bum Like You – 3:42
11.   Eclipse – 3:29
12.   Should Have Known – 3:59
13.   Anytime You Like – 3:52

Also released on the 27th April:
1987: R.E.M - Dead Letter Office
Also released on the 27th April:
1992: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Henry’s Dream

26 April 2013

26th April - k.d. lang's Shadowland

Artist – Album: k.d. lang - Shadowland
Released:  26th April 1988             
Sounds Like: Tosh

I don’t know, k.d. lang may think she’s looking at me all seductive and sexy and ambigous on that album cover but, to be honest, she just reminds me of Rick Astley. What sort of a name is k.d. lang anyway? Why aren’t we allowed to capitalise it? Everybody else functions perfectly well within strict grammatical confines, I don’t understand why she has her own nomenclature rules. Her name is a proper noun, isn't it?? Anyway, back to disparaging her appearance: that strong manly jawline and magnificently coiffured quiff share more than a passing resemblance to the Lancashire heartthrob, no?

It’s not just in her androgynous looks that she conjured up the image of the original rickroller. She may never have achieved the musical perfection of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ (few have), but do you remember that old cover from Astley’s canon that somehow passes as a Christmas tune? I believe(/totally know) it’s called ‘When I Fall in Love’? This whole album sounds like that: overproduced, aged and just a bit rubbish. I mean, she (and he) really does possess an extraordinary voice and her (and his) music is clearly well written (I particularly liked the old country ballad ‘Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes’), but (as with his work) I hear no soul here. The lyrics are forlorn and she’s wrenching emotion out of each word by the book, but I just don’t buy it. It’s like the anti-blues. Stylistically, I hear a lot of Roy Orbison in the shuffling rhythm, slide guitar and captivating vocals, but I just care so much more about the Big O. The record may be a loving nod to Nashville, but it may as well be Newton-le-Willows (Rick’s hometown) for all that I care.

I hope that this record and I will not be 'Together Forever'.

By the way, this is totally against popular critical opinion, so, you know, you might like it. But there again, you may also love the Dixie Chicks and hate The Zombies, in which case I have only pity for you.  

Albumaday... rating:  5/10

1.       Western Stars – 3:12
2.       Lock, Stock and Teardrops – 3:28
3.       Sugar Moon – 2:26
4.       I Wish I Didn’t Love You So – 3:07
5.       (Waltz Me) Once Again Around the Dance Floor – 2:35
6.       Black Coffee – 3:17
7.       Shadowland – 2:28
8.       Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes – 2:20
9.       Tears Don’t Care Who Cries Them – 3:03
10.   I’m Down to My Last Cigarette – 2:46
11.   Busy Being Blue – 3:40
12.   Honky Tonk Angels’ Medley – 2:55

Listen to ‘Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7zXk7-T0CQ

25 April 2013

25th April - Blur's Parklife

Artist – Album: Blur - Parklife
Released:  25th April 1994
Sounds Like: Top of the Britpops

It’s a shame that Parklife, one of the most quintessentially English albums of all time, wasn’t released just two days earlier, on St Georges Day; the saint’s day for that Palestinian reptile botherer and all-round cocky geezer that for some reason is the patron saint of England. As it is, it shares it celebrates its release date on DNA Day, which isn’t nearly as relevant.

From the dogs at the track album cover, to song titles such as ‘London Loves’, ‘Clover Over Dover’ and ‘Jubilee’, the album oozes British identity. ‘Girls & Boys’ and ‘Parklife’ (adorned with verse narration from Quadrophenia’s very own Phil Daniels) became lager-lout anthems for the burgeoning Britpop scene, and the underlying wit, obsession with the British musical history and the very modern attitude of these and other tracks helped cement Blur’s reputation as icons of the wider Cool Britannia movement. Damon Albarn stood as his generation’s Ray Davies, creating wonderful, popular music with literate, humorous and relevant lyrics. Hear ‘Parklife’, think ‘You Really Got Me’. The whole album stands as an incredible homage to UK culture and a must have for anglophiles anywhere.

As fun as the livelier moments are, the real standouts here are the slow ones. ‘End of a Century’, Badhead’, ‘To the End’ and ‘This Is a Low’, contain lush, baroque arrangements and deal with failing relationships, the loss of youth and the mystery of the future. They're weary and cynical, but beautiful and real. Like ‘Waterloo Sunset’ from the Kinks’ oeuvre, after the initial attraction of the anthems, these are the songs that you will take with you and remember forever.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Girls & Boys – 4:50
2.       Tracy Jacks – 4:20
3.       End of a Century – 2:46
4.       Parklife – 3:05
5.       Bank Holiday – 1:42
6.       Badhead – 3:25
7.       The Debt Collector – 2:10
8.       Far Out – 1:41
9.       To the End – 4:05
10.   London Loves – 4:15
11.   Trouble in the Message Centre – 4:09
12.   Clover Over Dover – 3:22
13.   Magic America – 3:38
14.   Jubilee – 2:47
15.   This Is a Low – 5:07
16.   Lot 105 – 1:17

24 April 2013

24th April - Devendra Banhart's Rejoicing In the Hands

Artist – Album:  Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands
Released:  24th April 2006
Sounds Like:  Beardy bloke’s freaky folk

Devendra Banhart is the crown prince of freak folk, the early noughties acoustic movement that glorified weirdy hippidom, lengthy luxurious locks but mostly captivating, pastoral folk. Taking up the model set by Vashti Bunyan, the Incredible String Band and other late sixties/ early seventies alternative performers, a ramshackle collection of artists such as Joanna Newsom, Espers and Banhart created a sub-genre that has bubbled on the periphery of indie for the last decade or so.

This, his second album and the first with any semblance of a budget, is potentially the crowning moment of the scene, a wonderfully rustic and whimsical record centred around Banhart’s hypnotic, faltering vocals and dexterous finger picking style.

Many reviewers picked up on the uplifting opener ‘This Is the Way’, and in particular the closing couplet “well we've known... we've had a choice. We chose rejoice” but this was just the first track of a great half an album, from the enlightened ‘A Sight to Behold’ to the shambling ‘The Body Breaks’, from the naive ‘Will Is My Friend’ to the nonsensical but knowing ‘This Beard Is for Siobhan’. The second half becomes more introspective, aside from the Vashti Bunyan fronted title track, and displays Banhart’s experimental side, with harps, violins, cellos and piano aiding the neatly plucked guitar strings.

Rejoicing in the Hands sounds magical and otherworldly, like it was played many moons ago on some rough acoustic guitar hewed from a giant, ancient oak tree and wielded by a biblical prophet, all wise yet pure. Perhaps not everyone will be taken in by the twee and whimsy and general nonsense, but most will find it a freak-folk treasure.

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1.       This Is the Way – 2:53
2.       A Sight to Behold – 2:26
3.       The Body Breaks – 2:43
4.       Poughkeepsie – 2:17
5.       Dogs They Make Up in the Dark – 1:20
6.       Will Is My Friend – 3:04
7.       This Beard Is for Siobhán – 2:36
8.       See Saw – 3:22
9.       Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicry – 1:25
10.   Rejoicing in the Hands – 1:41
11.   Fall – 2:53
12.   Todo Los Dolores – 2:30
13.   When the Sun Shone on Vetiver – 3:34
14.   There Was Sun – 1:31
15.   Insect Eyes – 5:08
16.   Autumn’s Child – 2:40

Listen to ‘This Beard Is for Siobhán’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nQSfce3ILQ

Also released on the 24th April:
1960: Jimmy Smith – Back at the Chicken Shack

23 April 2013

23rd April - Ramones' Ramones

Artist – Album: Ramones - Ramones
Released: 23rd April 1976
Sounds Like: Changing the world three power chords at a time

Make no mistake, the Ramones – with their simplistic, frenzied songs and retro leanings – changed the course of popular music with this album. Reacting against the proggy direction rock music had begun to take and hankering for a return to the true rock and roll sounds of the 60’s and earlier, they turned to hectic and melodic power pop songs to manifest their distaste for the overly complex music being produced by their peers. The record was a major factor in greasing the wheels of the UK punk movement (The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned were all blown away by the band during a brief tour of England), which in turn demolished rock’s old guard and rewrote the rules for the new alternative scene. Not bad for a group of gangly New Yorkers who claimed that they couldn’t even play.

Well, I hear you say, well, It’s all well and good being important, but what we really want to know is, is it still worth listening to Joe? Yes, (insert name). Yes it is.

From the first chant of “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!” on ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, the Ramones tear through fourteen vital snippets of American punk. The high tempo never lets up, and each song sounds pretty much the same. But when the songs sound like this, that doesn’t matter. Especially when they’re each only a couple of minutes long. ‘Beat on the Brat’ is a great nonsensical paean to violence, ‘Judy is a Punk’ led to an upsurge in the number of girls being called Judy, and ‘I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You’ is a brilliantly brash dismissal.

Raucous, rebellious, cool and cocky, and a true game changer to boot.  

Albumaday... rating: 10/10

1.       Blitzkrieg Bop – 2:12
2.       Beat on the Brat – 2:30
3.       Judy Is a Punk – 1:30
4.       I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend – 2:24
5.       Chain Saw – 1:55
6.       Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue – 1:34
7.       I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement – 2:35
8.       Loudmouth – 2:14
9.       Havana Affair – 2:00
10.   Listen to My Heart – 1:56
11.   53rd & 3rd – 2:19
12.   Let’s Dance – 1:51
13.   I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You – 1:43
14.   Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World – 2:09

Listen to ‘Judy Is a Punk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLq6KaWaQYQ

Also released on the 23rd April:
1971: The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Also released on the 23rd April:
2002: Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Also released on the 23rd April:
2007: Feist – The Reminder

22 April 2013

22nd April - Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One

Artist – Album: Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
Released:  22nd April 1997
Sounds Like: Shimmering indie greatness

Whatever it is, Yo La Tengo have got it*. Being one of the music’s principal purveyors of hazy indie noise pop, they have spent the last twenty-seven years releasing consistently excellent and highly influential albums. One reviewer at the time went as far as to call them The Greatest Band in the Universe, which may be going slightly over the top, but they could well be the greatest band on this planet at least. They may never have troubled the charts but they seem perfectly happy simply keep putting out gorgeous music regardless. Which is just great.

There’s plenty of contenders, but I’d like to forward I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One as the best album they’ve released in the nearly three decades since their debut. It has it all – a blissed out adventure into an eclectic variety of genres, from shoegaze (‘Damage’)to bossa-nova (‘Centre of Gravity’) to noisy power pop (‘Sugarcube’); wonderful takes on cover songs (the feedback driven version of the Beach Boys’ ‘Little Honda’ and the lovely closing acoustic ditty ‘My Little Corner of the World’); wry lyrics delivered as a hushed almost-whisper on gorgeous love songs such as ‘Autumn Sweater’.

Alongside the recently reviewed Guided By Voices and Pavement, Yo La Tengo have been one of the driving forces in the direction of alternative rock in recent times. Their warm blend of noise rock and poppy melody has seen them taken to heart by critics and gushing fans alike. They’ve got it alright.**

* This was a clever pun – “yo la tengo” is “I got it” in Spanish you see. Check Google translate. Gosh, I’m so funny...

** I made the same pun again. This was a bad idea, as really you shouldn’t repeat jokes. I might not actually be that funny after all.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Return to Hot Chicken – 1:38
2.       Moby Octopad – 5:48
3.       Sugarcube – 3:21
4.       Damage – 4:39
5.       Deeper into Movies – 5:23
6.       Shadows – 2:27
7.       Stockholm Syndrome – 2:51
8.       Autumn Sweater – 5:18
9.       Little Honda – 3:07
10.   Green Arrow – 5:43
11.   One PM Again -2:25
12.   The Lie and How We Told It – 3:19
13.   Center of Gravity – 2:42
14.   Spec Bebop – 10:40
15.   We’re an American Band – 6:25
16.   My Little Corner of the World – 2:24

Listen to ‘Autumn Sweater’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIkMeaAfIRw

21 April 2013

21st April - Beastie Boys' Check Your Head

Artist – Album: The Beastie Boys – Check Your Head
Released:  21st April 1992
Sounds Like: Funky hip hop

The Beastie Boys first struck gold with the exaggerated frat boy image (not to mention the then novelty of white men rapping) of ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party!)’, a riotous and dumb punk rap amalgamation which unfortunately became a VW-emblem-shaped albatross around their necks. For some reason, people found it hard to take seriously a trio of wealthy, middle-class Jews that wore stupid clothes and rapped about not wanting to go to school (go figure), and they seemed destined to pave the way for other hip hop jokes such as Vanilla Ice.

In 1989 they sought to change this with their second album Paul’s Boutique, their sprawling and sophisticated magnum opus. Despite some rave reviews, the album tanked. It did, however, begin to gather a cult following, and by the time of Check Your Head’s release, the Beasties were relevant again – only in a much more permanent way then the party animal personas of before. Although not as important, nor as rewarding, as their previous masterpiece of an album, Check Your Head is an accessible and enjoyable follow up.

Blending rock samples and hip hop beats with their nasal, shouted vocals has been a staple of their sound throughout their careers, and it’s in full force here. But, equally, there’s also funk, punk, soul, jazzy interludes, and even a prominent Bob Dylan sample on this admittedly messy record.

Following the groundswell of love for Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head arrived at just the right time to announce the Beastie Boys return to the big league, and cemented their place as one of the most forward thinking and influential collectives of their time. Their fourth album, Ill Communication, and lead single 'Sabotage' would both be smash hits two years later, and two years on from that Beck would basically update this album’s formula to release the seminal Odelay.     

Albumaday... rating:  7/10

1.       Jimmy James – 3:14
2.       Funky Boss – 1:35
3.       Pass the Mic – 4:17
4.       Gratitude – 2:45
5.       Lighten Up – 2:41
6.       Finger Lickin’ Good – 3:39
7.       So What’cha Want – 3:37
8.       The Biz vs The Nuge – 0:33
9.       Time for Livin – 1:48
10.   Something’s Got to Give – 3:28
11.   The Blue Nun – 0:32
12.   Stand Together – 2:47
13.   POW – 2:13
14.   The Maestro – 2:52
15.   Groove Holmes – 2:33
16.   Live at P.J.’s – 3:18
17.   Mark on the Bus – 1:05
18.   Professor Booty – 4:13
19.   In 3’s – 2:23
20.   Namasté – 4:01

Listen to ‘So What’cha Want ’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru3gH27Fn6E

Also released on the 21st April:
2008: Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords
Also released on the 21st April:
2009: The Horrors – Primary Colours

20 April 2013

20th April - Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted

Artist – Album: Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted
Released:  20th April 1992
Sounds Like:  They do what they want and they do it well

Pavement stand in that weird middle ground between being underground enough to feel like a treasure when you first discover them and being a band that eventually everyone really should get to know.

A lovely, if over generous, reader gave me a book last month called “The Best Music You’ve Never Heard”, a tome chock full of great forgotten artists from Daniel Johnston and Clifford T. Ward to Faust, The Monks and Felt. And there, in-between Lightspeed Champion and Slint in the Strictly Indie chapter, sat Pavement. The book argues that, akin to The Velvet Underground, few people bought Pavement’s records at the time, but those that did went on to form their own bands around the turn of the millennium. It lists the likes of Modest Mouse, The Shins and Blur as examples of those taken in by the Californian slackers. It is true that whilst this album was released in the midst of the grunge era, and therefore wasn’t the huge success of lesser rock albums of the same time, it pointed to a much more positive and enduring direction for alternative rock in the future.

But really, all of Pavement’s first four albums are must haves. Slanted and Enchanted, their debut, is arguably the least accessible of the quartet with its distinctive DIY blend of melody and noise, but it’s still a great one to get in to. ‘Summer Babe’ is an early classic, its druggy imagery and distorted guitars melting into one of the biggest indie anthems of the last few decades. In amongst the rough sounds lie a couple of great acoustic efforts in ‘Zurich Is Stained’ and ‘Here’. Two States’ actually reminded me of T-Rex.

It is truly an excellent album and deservedly highly lauded. Personally, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tops it, but the impact of Slanted and Enchanted makes it one of a kind.

Albumaday... rating:  9/10

1.       Summer Babe (Winter Version) – 3:16
2.       Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17 – 3:16
3.       No Life Singed Her – 2:09
4.       In the Mouth a Desert – 3:52
5.       Conduit for Sale! – 2:52
6.       Zurich is Stained – 1:41
7.       Chesley’s Little Wrists – 1:16
8.       Loretta’s Scars – 2:55
9.       Here – 3:56
10.   Two States – 1:47
11.   Perfume-V – 2:09
12.   Fame Throwa – 3:22
13.   Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era – 3:21
14.   Our Singer – 3:09

Listen to ‘Summer Babe (Winter Version)’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-kHIsPe-Qw

Also released on the 20th April:
1962: Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba

Also released on the 20th April:
1998: Boards of Canada – Music Has the Right to Children

Also released on the 20th April:
1998: Massive Attack – Mezzanine