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40 Years of Noe

#1999 #Flaming #Lips #music


Wrapping up the 90’s. This is not just a great album, this is an unbelievably rare album. Albums like this come once in a lifetime for most bands. Few bands are able to create musical experiences that could be called religious just out of their sheer beauty.
This album is beautiful, desperate, hopeless, hopeful, lost and constantly searching. This album reaches into your heart and holds it from beginning to end.
The Flaming Lips are deceptively simple, with songs like “Buggin'” and “Race for the Prize” which contain what seem to be simple lyrics or a simple story, but it’s never that simple. Reach deeper into the album, do a little more research. “Race for the Prize” isn’t about a race, it’s not about a scientist it’s about finding a passion for something and loving it so much that you would hit rock bottom for it.
Songs like “Suddenly Everything Has Changed” are introspectively genius, and with the mere descriptions of everyday tasks (folding laundry, putting away groceries, driving a car) and those being the moments in which everything changes.
“Waiting For Superman” is a beautiful song about desperation and waiting for the saving grace to lift up everything up of our shoulders that’s “gettin’ heavy.”
Outside of the incredible lyrical beauty is the best production job I’ve heard in years on par with the likes of Brian Wilson’s “Pet Sounds.” The album itself bears many parallels to Pet Sounds with the diverse array of instruments and sounds with orchestra, also the beautiful instrumental interludes, plus an overall wall of sound Phil Spector-ish boom to everything, especially within “The Gash.” It’s been said that music is a combination of sounds and silences, in “The Gash” the second is completely omitted.
The Flaming Lips encompass everything I love about music. They’re catchy, with wonderful hooks, they make incredible ear opening sounds that just amaze, the production is deep and complex, and above all they say something without saying “Look at us! We’re saying something!” Every step of their work is done with complete humility, almost as if they’re surprised anyone would care. Their music goes completely off the edge, with visions as great and far reaching that completely challenged and destroyed everything we ever thought about music. And most importantly, it works.  I’ll say I think they’re one of the most genius groups to enter the scene in years. They are musical conceptualists that will always have my attention and interest.

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40 Years of Noe

#Madonna #1998 #Music

1998 was a difficult year for me. But not without redemption and solace.

My parents got divorced. It wasn’t pretty.

I lost my job working at the movie theater for 4 years. Spent the summer working odd jobs until I found stable employment.

I got arrested for being an idiot. Wrong place at the wrong time.

My grandfather died the day we helped move my sister into her college dorm. I read the eulogy at his funeral.

But through it all, I listened to the album “Ray of Light” by Madonna. Without her voice and music, that year could have been much worse possibly. In and of itself, this is a wonderful album. This was a comeback record for her. She took things into a newer and more spiritual direction. Madonna, herself,  was maturing and growing. I found much healing power listening to this album. She reassures the comfort of saying goodbye.

I had to say goodbye to my Grandpa who held the extended family together. With the divorce, I also had to wave goodbye to the structure of our immediate household family. This year was a challenging one.

Opening and closing the heart.

Madonna deeply connects with family matters. After all, 1989’s “Like a Prayer,” dealt with the breakup of her marriage, her mom’s death, and the estranged relationship with her father All of these things shattered the belief that Madonna was an artist that relied on hit singles. The deep and expressive set of music on “Like a Prayer,” made for a mature album that could be enjoyed from start to finish.

Unfortunately, subsequent recordings weren’t as sharp: “Erotica” and “Bedtime Stories” definitely had their moments but also had their share of filler. Then along came 1998’s “Ray of Light.” This picks up on the flip side of “Like a Prayer”: this time around, Madonna’s the parent, and the topic of family provides a springboard for reflections on love versus fame and what a grown adult considers truly important.

Adding to the mix is her collaboration with electronica producer William Orbit, making “Ray of Light” one of the most mature and satisfying albums of dance music that I have personally heard.
And while the opening track gets things off to an unexpected start with a hypnotic slice of slow rock, the lyrics of “Drowned World/Substitute for Love” set the pace of the record.  Halfway through the song the music takes a break and Madonna distances herself from side-effects of fame.  As the song continues the decibel level grows until both Madonna and her music are at an in-your-face level, clearly declaring that fame may be nice but enough is enough.
The dance-club friendly track, “Nothing Really Matters” is another summation of her new point of view; singing to her newborn daughter, the onetime Material Girl admits that she once “lived so selfishly,” but now “everything’s changed.” The concept is simple but nonetheless a touching one.
Not all the lyrical content is parental, however. And then the midtempo “Power of Goodbye” and the near-Bossa Nova “To Have and Not to Hold” are flat-out love songs, albeit doomed ones. This is where I found most of my connections, during this portion of the album.

All in all, “Ray of Light” marks her most successful connection with dance music and her most compelling efforts as a lyricist. It’s a relief to know that, years after enjoyable ear candy like “Holiday” and “Like a Virgin,” Madonna grew up and matured over the years just like the rest of us. As she observes on “Sky Fits Heaven”: “isn’t everyone just travelling down their own road/watching the signs as they go/I think I’ll follow my heart/it’s a very good place to start.”

Very good? Some would say brilliant.

 

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40 Years of Noe

#1997 #Dylan #Time #Out #Of #Mind

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Seems unlikely right? Well here is my first curve ball. No its not an early April Fools Joke. This record makes it on my list because it stood out like a soar thumb, honestly. This thumb needed attention. I was listening to the radio back in 97 while attending University. One day I’m driving around and this song comes on. I was so impressed with how it sounded. It was poignant. Think of an old man’s version of “Blood On The Tracks.” It just simply blew me away that this was Bob Dylan. What a comeback!

“Time out of Mind” is a quote from `Moby Dick’ meaning “from time immemorial” or “as long as anyone can remember.” This 1997 Grammy-winner marks something of a landmark for Dylan in its recognition of the approach of old age. Full of sad, emotional and intelligent song-writing, it marks the initiation of a mature creative period in Dylan’s life. Many people proclaim this as Dylan’s best-ever album, and from the perspective that it gets deeper into your soul with each repeated listening, they might be right.

Deeply personal and serious in tone, the album can make you weep.

 

`Time out of Mind’ is an album which could not have been made by a young man, and not by any product of the 21st century’s sales-and-image driven global music business. Only a master of his craft, confronting mortality and looking back on a lifetime stained with regret, could produce a masterpiece like this.

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40 Years of Noe Uncategorized

#1996 #Tool #Aenima

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I have been listening to Tool constantly since I first heard the Sober video and watched the twisted geniuses at work that created such a short film. Since then, as I grow and learn, the lyrics, which I used to study for each song and read over every once in a while hit me on new levels upon each reading. Their lyrics during my first reading leave the impression that this group supports all things “evil.” However, as the depth of reading and interpretation grows and evolves, the true meaning and genius of the lyrics is revealed.

This album to me is the epitome of the genius of Tool. I was sitting in my car one day and heard the song “Eulogy” start up. I listened closely for the first time to the introduction where each instrument comes individually. When I truly listened to it, I was in awe of the fluidity that the song works. Each instrument fades in individually, the strumming of the guitar is incredible, the drums, solemnly beating in the background are again splendid.

I cannot begin to describe my admiration for this band. Reading the interviews that Maynard has given and reading a small biography of him gave me so much respect for his vast intellect and his well read nature. He quotes Carl Jung during shows. From day one, their music has struck me as essentially what I would consider flawless vocalists of the human state and nature. The drums are splendid and so incredibly complex. The way that Tool uses the Bass guitar is incredibly impressive. Usually bands use the bass as a background instrument, but Tool brings it to the front to further drive their message into the soul. The lead guitars are amazing.

I cant begin to even describe how good Maynard is. He is truly a singer. Ozzy Osbourne (for example) is excellent in terms of being a rock singer, but Maynard has bridged the gap. He is truly a vocalist. He could just as easily be singing opera or jazz or whatever form of music you can think of. Maybe someday, people will be worshiping their music and his lyrics.
If anyone reading this commentary/review has never payed attention to Tool before, start now. This is the embodiment of all music that I have ever heard. It rivals in perfection in vocal music as what Amadeus Mozart did for instrumental music. That is all i’m going to say, and I doubt that anyone has read this far.

If so, please comment. Thank You

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40 Years of Noe

Alice In Chains #Music #1995 


Alice In Chain’s self-titled, “Tripod,”album is one of the most gloomy and sluggish albums ever recorded. The cover features a three-legged dog (hence the title reference).

This would end up being their final studio album with vocalist Layne Staley. His drug addiction ultimately took his life. Layne’s voice here sounds more downcast but still powerful.

Honestly, it’s my favorite album because of how it feels throughout. It never got the acclaim it deserved. Although it’s a slothful sounding one, it remained intriguing without losing steam.

It’s a freak show. A nightmare of grinding sounds. It’s heavy! Grunge sounds are dominant still. Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley continue to harmonize well. The guitars shred as if busting through quick sand.

The lyrics are ambiguous and obscure more so than ever. Staley is so much more frightening, dark and creepy with his vocals. But don’t misunderstand me. This “Tripod” record is a masterpiece imho. It’s so beautiful!

On a personal note: It got me through the winter of 1995 and 1996 when I transferred colleges and broke up with my girlfriend at the time. I began my own frightening path of poetry writing content that ultimately freed me from the shame and guilt that surrounded me.

I think of the crappy red Ford Tempo I drove to school and how protected I felt with  Alice In Chains at my side.

What matters is I lived through it and that album was my best friend. Here’s a creepy video:

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40 Years of Noe

#1994 #NIN #Downward Spiral

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I graduated from high school, was attending various graduation parties and this album was playing at one of them. It immediately grabbed my attention. The summer of 1994 I started to believe I was Trent Reznor. I loved his music featured in the films Natural Born Killers and The Crow. When I bought the cd, I listened to it on buses, car trips, in my college dorm and just simple walks around the neighborhood. I was absolutely OBSESSED!!!
This album is considered Nine Inch Nails’ most controversial and disturbing work. They (He) completely change the image that was first seen on “Pretty Hate Machine” to something much more darker and emotional. The result is a very successful and complex masterpiece that takes you to places you have never been in the music world. With each track you step in further and further into Reznor’s mind. “The Downward Spiral” is an outstanding album and will always remain a classic.

The songs are much more complex and have more structure to them than the ones that appear on “Pretty Hate Machine” and “Broken.” There are heavy songs, and there are soft songs. There are disturbing songs, and there are beautiful songs. You get to experience something different with each song.

The great thing about this album is, just like with any other NIN album, no two songs are the same. Each one has its own identity and feeling to it. Another plus is that there is not a single bad song on the entire album. My favorites are “mr. self destruct,” “march of the pigs,” “closer,” “the becoming,” “a warm place,” “eraser,” “I do not want this,” “ruiner,” and “hurt.” I might as well say ALL OF THEM!!! LOL

“The Downward Spiral” is an amazing album. Reznor knows how to make great music and continues to impress us even to this day. Be warned, though. This album isn’t for everyone. It is indeed a very controversial and even sometimes offensive album. But if you love Nine Inch Nails, then this is a must-have. It is a CD I continue to listen to over and over again. It never ceases to amaze me. A classic to the very end.
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40 Years of Noe

Siamese Dream #1993 #music

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I was a Senior in High School in 1993 when this glorious record came out! Everything fell into its right place with this one. Gish was stunning! But Siamese Dream was a masterpiece!!!

Every artist has their “crowning achievement”

I think Smashing Pumpkins were one of the greatest rock bands of the 90’s, easily.

Billy Corgan has been one of my favorite guitarists. His work on the studio albums Gish, Siamese Dream and even Mellon Collie (1995) is brilliant, layering guitar upon guitar with brilliant riffs and awesome solos.

His lyrics are often depressed and angry, but they show hope and beauty too. Lyrics aren’t usually as important to me as music, but Billy Corgan writes good ones, in my opinion. For a rock star, he surprises me with the kind of songwriting talent.
“Cherub Rock” opens up with a distinguishing drum roll followed by simple clean guitar playing the main riff. Within less than a minute, a wall of guitars is hitting you, but it’s still extremely listenable. The melodies of this song are awesome, and I’d bet you’ve heard it on the radio.

“Quiet” is an assault of layered metal riffs. “Today” is another radio song. It’s one of the weaker songs on the whole, but I think it’s still pretty nice and ironically a lot of people’s favorite song.

“Hummer” is nearly 7 minutes long, with several different parts and great textures and melodies. “Disarm” is a beautiful acoustic guitar and vocal track, with strings added (that are good and not cheesy).

“Soma” starts with a peaceful clean guitar riff, but explodes into a wall of distorted guitars and wild leads. I still pull out my acoustic guitar once in a while and play the tabs to this one.

“Geel U.S.A.” is one of the best rockers, and one of the most layered. I don’t know how many guitars are in this song, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than 12 or so. Think My Bloody Valentine-esque The solo is wildly energetic, and the metal riffs are awesome.

“Mayonaise” is gorgeous and noisy at the same time. It’s my personal favorite.

There are no bad songs. Or else it wouldn’t be on my top 40 list. Duh!!!
When I first got into the Pumpkins back in 1991, I didn’t like Billy Corgan’s voice that much, but I grew to really appreciate it. The wall of sound created by Billy Corgan’s guitars combined with his original voice and songwriting is also backed up by the experienced drumming of Jimmy Chamberlain. He used to be in a jazz band apparently, and the guy definitely knows what he’s doing.
James Iha and D’Arcy are respectively great rhythm and bass guitarists as well but they are unfortunately known more for their live contributions because Billy tended to prefer taking over in the studio. This was always the one controversial fact about the pumpkins.

If you want my opinion (I guess you do, if you’ve read this far), this is one of the best rock albums of the 90’s, and you should buy it. Highly recommended. Here’s a video:

 

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40 Years of Noe

1992 + R.E.M. + Mario Bros. = GOOD TIMES!


In the winter of 1992, I was on Christmas break while I was a junior in high school. I received two special gifts that season. The first was super Mario Brothers three for the Nintendo. The second was automatic for the people by REM.

The reason those two gifts are connected is because I’ve played that game all the time while listening to that CD at the same time. You see I would turn the volume down on the game and crank the volume up on the CD. This has forever associated the two together so when I hear the music I think of the game and when I play the game I think of the music.

So getting back to the CD, automatic for the people, I truly thought that was their best album. REM has been around for a very long time. They have certainly yielded several hit songs. But this album came sort of midcareer if you will if you count any recent efforts. I thought this was their crowning achievement.

It starts off with a song entitled DRIVE which really has nice guitars and orchestration in the background. It sets the tone and the lyrics make references to pop culture such as games and rock ‘n’ roll references. The song “man on the moon”  is a tribute to the late comedian Andy Kaufman. There are many many more songs on this record including “everybody hurts”, that speak to a whole generation.

Now I don’t just play this record when playing Mario Brothers but it sounds good on cloudy days autumn nights and whenever I am into deep thinking, or a melancholy frame of mind. A lot of records came out in 92 but this one certainly means the most and it recalls the fondest of memories that I will forever cherish in my heart. “Hey kids rock ‘n’ roll!”

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40 Years of Noe

1976-1991 #music summary #forty #years of #Noe

  
There’s been an ongoing list of albums that I have been posting about for the past few weeks. Feel free to browse thru the archives of my blog.
Getting closer to 40
I’ve made the bold and brave decision to not only disclose my age but also establish a list of my favorite albums for every year of my life…so far. 

  

So far I have covered 1976 Thru 1991
More to come.
I post little reviews every Tuesday and Thursday
Stay tuned
  

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40 Years of Noe

Smashing Pumpkins presents #Gish from #1991

GISH

I listened to this album more than any other when I was in high school. Even more than Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Seriously!

When I was in cross country during my sophomore year in high school, we were heading to practice in this guy’s sport car and he was playing this tape that really captured my sense of sound. I was memorized by the intense wailing guitars. The ferocious pounding of the drums and the way the snares and bass were in perfect unison. Then there’s this soothing voice that clashes but actually blends quite well with the rhythm. I asked the guy driving who was playing. He told me the name and I was like….Smashing Pumpkins? Now that’s an interesting name for a band.

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One afternoon,I was in my bedroom watching MTV laying on my stomach with feet up in the air with the sun light streaming through my bedroom window and suddenly a video comes on by Smashing Pumpkins. The song was entitled “Siva” and I was hooked. I felt alive!

I bought that album “Gish” at a Sam Goody and was in pure heaven. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Billy Corgan is a great song writer. For a man in his early twenties to compose songs of such complexity, yet undeniable relevance, is a truly awe-inspiring accomplishment. Such originality and creativity from Corgan allows us to suspend reality for the best part of an hour. Simply put, Gish bring the listener to another dimension where nothing matters except the wonderful emotions this album evokes.

James Iha is an awesome guitar player complete with strange sound effects. The whole band is great. The hard rock slant on I Am One sits beautifully with the majestic nature of the song Crush-all of this driven by wonder-drummer Chamberlain means that Gish frequently took up residence in my CD player and disc man…..and it often refused to leave.

So, if you haven’t got this record, well then you’re at a loss.

The only definite thing that can be said about Gish is that it is a forgotten classic. Don’t believe me. Listen the the track…Tristessa! This is pure adrenaline that just hooked me like getting stuck in a tar pit trap of ecstasy. I refuse to say any more about it. Check it out!

Click here:   THIS IS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN