Monday, August 13, 2007

Top 5 Self Titled Albums

A musician (who exactly I can't recall) once said "Life's too short for self titled albums." I couldn't agree more. There are simply too many great options for album titles to go around using one's band name. But every now and again these eponymous albums turn out just ducky in spite of the lack of care in titles. Here's my top 5.

5. Paul Simon (1972) -
Paul Simon would be more expansive in his solo career but he was rarely as melodicly satisfying as on his solo debut.

4. The Velvet Underground (1969) -
The album that perhaps carries the imprint of the Velvet Underground's droney and downcast reputation more than any other also happens to be packed with Lou Reed's most emotive songs written for the band. The album finds the band finding the true balance of their clanging with the subdued sense of tone later copped by R.E.M. and millions of other bands.

3. Suicide (1977) -
In the year of punk Suicide decided to take the next step. Rather than pumping songs like "Ghost Rider" and "Cheree" with punk distorted power chords and howls they created a burbling synth record. Some of the creepiest music of the generally creepy post punk genre.

2. Weezer (1994) -
The most well crafted guitar pop album of the 90's (possibly ever) was also one of the most blandly packaged hits of that decade. It happens to remain one of the most listenable albums of the Alternative Nation and a perfect entry point for most pre-teens to the world of indie-geek chic.

1. The Modern Lovers (1976) -
Maybe I just make lists to talk about how amazing this pre-punk album is. Not a spec of fat on this album that includes it's lack of a title. Jonathan Richman was one of the finest songwriters of all time if for only this albums 12 tracks.

Some Honorable mentions:
Ramones (1976), The Beatles (1968), They Might Be Giants (1986), The Clash (1977), Liars (2007), The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967), LCD Soundsystem (2005).

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A Round Up of Two Very Different Live Music Experiences

I had a couple of good times in Brooklyn over the last few days. Thursday was one of my most anticipated shows of the year and for that matter so was Sunday. Of course there was a more profound difference in these shows than genre, venue, and production value. A $50 difference to be exact.

Sebastian/Kavinsky DJ Set (Keyspan Park) 82% - This was a great set mixing in honest to god excellent dance music with suprising crowd pleasing rockier fair like Rage Against the Machine and Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up".

The Rapture (Keyspan Park) 74% - The Rapture sounded super but sitting in the stands of a baseball stadium did not suit the dance punk elder statesmen.

Daft Punk (Keyspan Park) 96% - After thinking the whole summer that I had gotten field tickets I was dismayed to discover I'd be spending my Daft Punk experience in the stands. This however doesn't change the fact that this is one of the best experiences in stadium entertainment I've ever seen. An excellent set and the most impressive lighting design ever (and I saw Pink Floyd at an incredibly young age) makes this one of the best Stadium tours of the decade.

Birds of Avalon (McCarren Park Pool) 67% - This band might be very good but could not break through my usual McCarren opener indifference, sorry fellows.

The Thermals (McCarren Park Pool) 87% - Solid songs and a muscular performance from a three piece who could very easily come off as boring popish punk. They don't through shear force of will. Kudos on the Built to Spill cover.

Ted Leo/Pharmacists (McCarren Park Pool) 91% - Ted Leo may just be the most stubbornly solid live performer of his generation. This show, to a seemingly packed McCarren Pool, was amongst the better I've seen from the Pharmacists. The mid song Daft Punk wink was very satisfying, also the new songs which come off as retreads on album sit very comfortably with the classics. On a sad note it is the last performance from Rx Bassist Dave Lerner, the only Leo bass player I've ever known.

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