Tag Archives: album of the week

Album of Week 13: HIDDEN CITY

Hello friends! Time runs really too fast. I almost forgot I got a blog. It was on January the last time I posted something here. Everything’s ok so far. Every starting of the year is becoming significantly harder. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather, I’m moodier than usual, perhaps it’s the lack of sun, but I’ve been too slow these past three months.

But, hey!  I bring you good news, I’m writing on one of the most likely best albums of the year already, and I’m totally hooked up on it.

hidden city

The fact that The Cult releases an album in 2016 it’s exciting. After rediscovering its entire discography in the past months, because I was basically familiarized with 2-3 records, I’ve realized that this band’s never followed a standard pattern of in terms of evolution. In fact, seems that they’ve been experimenting and developing what Ian Astbury or Billy Duffy were in the mood at that specific moment. Truth is that this choice is nothing but too risky, and probably this has been the main reason for preventing them from stardom, and commercial success.

One thing is for sure. They’ve always delivered outstanding albums without any major disaster. Something not everybody with more than 30 years of career on their backs can say. So when a new album was announced, you had the guarantee of a good work, but not even the fans could conceive how the album was going to sound like, because The Cult is simply unpredictable.

When the first singles came out, my expectations definitely grew fast. The trotting rhythm of ‘Dark Energy’ didn’t catch my vibe in the beginning, but with ‘Hinterland’ you could already guess Duffy’s work on guitars is killer. And the third single, this ‘Deeply Ordered Chaos’ with the verse ‘I’m a European’ repeated by Astbury and rising up to one of the most intense moments of the album.

the cult

There was another positive point to have in mind and it’s the collaboration of Bob Rock producing Hidden City. Joey Tempesta’s drums and Duffy’s  guitars  sound very powerful, and the arrangements, are treated elegantly, without being excessive, creating very special atmospheres. Astbury is almost 54, and even though nowadays he’s in perfect shape, it’s obvious his voice has lost some register, but still, it keeps on being super evoking, able to transmit  decadent sensuality in ‘In Blood’, my personal favorite, but also heartbreaking harshness in ‘Birds of Paradise’.

It’s a pity many fans remain stuck in the past and only relate The Cult to the albums they recorded almost 30 years ago. if you are livid as a musician and live for writing, you need to evolve from Love, Electric or Sonic Temple. And as a fan, you’d enjoy more if you were moving forward. If you read this, and consider listening to Hidden City, but are one of these people, don’t waste your time, but be aware you’ll miss a great album.

Album of week 36: BLACK AGE BLUES

Thanks Universe for Twitter once again, for I discovered one of my favorite albums of 2015. Apart for wasting my time tweeting nonsense, I follow many international magazines, record labels and bands. It was a surprise when Southern Lord Recordings announced the release of a new album of Goatsnake, because I thought they had split 15 years ago.

goatsnake black age blues

This band was originally formed by a couple of guys, Guy Pinhas and Greg Rogers, after The Obsessed split, to be joined by Greg Anderson (Sunn O))) ), and the vocalist Pete Stahl (Scream, Wool). They were active for barely 3 years, and released 2 albums and 4 eps.

How did I get acquainted with this band? It was by chance, in 2000, at London’s Underworld. I attended a double lineup show with Goatsnake and Orange Goblin opening for them. I had been told they were heavy, doom and good, thus I waited to see them. When they jumped onto the stage it was as if the air was thickened, and the atmosphere turned suffocating, but they were so intense I felt somehow like hypnotized or something. It was a great show. I often remember it even though I’d never be able to recall any song played that night. I bought their ep Dog Days, which some years ago “vanished” from my CD collection, which included a cover of ‘Hearbreaker’ of Free, and ‘Long Gone’ and ‘Man of Light’, which I used to like.

goatsnake

For many years I had totally erased this band from my mind, till, as advanced, I read a tweet announcing the release of Black Age Blues, their new album in 15 years, and immediately felt curious about it. It tool just a couple of listenings to get hooked.

It keeps the essence of what I remember Goatsnake were back in 2000, if not better. Super heavy riffs very Sabbath influenced, doom yet very rooted bluesy sound, and Stahl’s voice, which is not the most brilliant nor amazing, but still has something that really appeals me.

When you start listening ‘Another River to Cross’, with a guitar intro by David Pajo of Slint, is as if you were transported to an evil suffocating swamp, with mosquitoes sucking your blood. Approaching an album with this feeling of awesomeness from the first second, nothing can be wrong. ‘Black Age Blues’, ‘Jimi’s Gone’, or ‘Grandpa Jones’ grab your balls, but if there’s a song, THE song, is ‘A Killing Blues’. It’s simply insane. The more it advances, the more intense it gets, to the peak with Stahl repeating “Lightning, Thunder, Wash my Soul to the Ground” a capella as a kind of mantra. Oh, shit! It’s terrific!

Goatsnake are not gonna change the world, and will keep on playing at small venues, but with this renewed business card, I’m really glad they are back.

Album of weeks 21-26: SOL INVICTUS

And this is my last obsession.

Sol Invictus

Been listening to Sol Invictus in a loop for more than 4 weeks, and now I reckon it’s gonna be one of my top 5 fave albums of this year.

Faith No More has always been a difficult band to connect at the first listening with. Their style gathers plenty of sounds and influences, and Mike Patton, with his unique voice, has always provided this histrionic and unclassifiable mark to the band he leads. It took me long time to surrender to Angel Dust back in the day, and nowadays I’m a passionate fan of that album.

Lately I’ve been encouraging the idea of listening to albums in depth, to spend proper time in digging and catching the essence of the music, rather than consuming in a hurry to approach the next big thing, and it’s really working for myself, no matter that I’m missing many other things. I’m enjoying and tasting they way I’d never done before, and it’s really really pleasant. On the other hand, King for a Day… trapped me quickly, probably because it was an easier album, with simple patterns and straight tunes. You know how this goes, sometimes you’re not ready mentally to certain things.

If I wasn’t giving tries to the albums, I’d probably have left Sol Invictus on a corner after a couple of hearings, because, I insist, it needs an evolution and a slow digestion. The first time I listened to one of the most expected comeback albums left me cold. I was having a beer at the bar round the corner of my house, and, I don’t know, it didn’t fill my expectations at all. it was like a weak ‘yay’, not bad but not amazing either. A couple of tracks caught my interest, ‘Superhero’ and ‘Separation Anxiety’, but those apart, I couldn’t understand the excitement risen around me.

FNM 2015

I guess I was in the mood to give it another try, because I started listening to it every time I had the chance to do so, I started enjoying ‘Cone of Shame’, ‘Matador’ and even ‘Motherfucker’, which I first thought it was terrible, and then I started appreciating the album more and more, to the point I was waking up in the morning whistling different tunes, till I realized I was hooked. My feeling is that his album differs from the rest in its tone, darker and more sinister.

I remember a couple of weeks ago, Jordi was driving me home after a show, and he had the  album on his car stereo and remarked how much he liked the song ‘Sol Invictus’. We were both silent, listening to the amazing chorus, with the piano arrangements, and I felt fascinated immediately.

It is definitely a more than adequate album, even though critics weren’t too positive. When you reach a high peak as Angel Dust, it seems that, in order to get back in the track, you must deliver something of the same quality level at least, and that’s seldom possible. You can choose if you wanna stick by the old stuff, or evolve and grow, as Faith No More has done, conscious or unconsciously. I’ve recovered my faith in them, if it was lost at some point, but I can assure you I feel absolute respect for their current performance and the way they’re getting back in the track.

Now it’s a matter of time some enlightened promoter books some shows in Spain.

Album of weeks 16-20: GIVEN TO EMPTINESS

Has it ever happened to you that you love something so much is terribly hard to put it into words? Well, I’m nowadays experiencing that feeling lately whenever I listen to Arenna’s last album Given to Emptiness.

Arenna Given to Emptiness

Arenna is a band from Vitoria I discovered 3 years ago when Las Tetis were invited to DJ at Siberia festival in the same city. I already explained here about the high level of the bands, and if I remember well I already mentioned this band very enthusiastic.

Their first album, Beats of Olarizu, was splendid. Very lysergic but focused on powerful riffs. Their style was quickly labelled as stoner rock. To be honest, it’s a definition I don’t completely agree with, because it’s always used to name both bands featuring heavy riffs, and those trying to recreate the Kyuss sound. Whatever! If I had been told these guys came from Germany or Sweden, I would have bought it, because I hadn’t ever listened to something so good here.  Obviously they started to be known abroad not only because of this album but also because of their amazing live act. Really, both shows I’ve attended in the past were life travelling to another dimension. Amazing!

Due to the closeness of some of the members of the band, after the shows and through social networks, when I heard they were recording a new album I proposed them to write a review for RockZone magazine, and of course they accepted.

When I listened to the first single, ‘Butes’, I was completely overwhelmed. The hypnotism, the power of the bass lines leading, the melodies of Txus Dr. Sax really seduced me. Not being really acquainted on mastering and producing stuff, I reckon it sounds terrific. I thought this effect might have been caused by the fact that I was using headphones at that time, but them I’ve realized the sound is incredible.

Given To Emptiness reminds me of the experience of tripping on acid. Your mood and state of mind must be in certain condition, and you have to take some, not exactly precautions, but advantages, to enjoy the experience to the max. As I advanced, it is very hard to define the concept on an albums whose songs are in constant change and seem to be alive. The more you listen to them the different you realize they’re evolving.

‘Butes’ inspiration was the story written by Pascal Quignard, about a guy who didn’t accept getting unchained with Ulysses, and eventually he was irresistibly seduced by the siren songs. This is somehow, the same effect that Given To Emptiness causes. It’s so attractive you just let yourself be embraced by those hypnotic and dreamy tunes not caring about the consequences. Arenna, instead of focusing on the riffs, have become explorers of sound. They can help you to cross the threshold to a wild dimension, unknown and very evocative.

Arenna-®RhythmAndPhotos_061x2048

It’s taken me a month to start writing about this album, no matter how many times I’ve been listening to it ceaselessly on a daily basis. Sometimes I wake up in the morning with ‘Drums for Sitting Bull’ or ‘Move Through Figurehead Lights’ stuck in my head. I’m starting to reckon it’s become some sort of addiction or obsession.  I might be moved by enthusiasm but I reckon at this point Given To Emptiness will be included in my top 10 of 2015.

Trust me, this is something you cannot miss.

The first time I listened to Black Sabbath

What a shitty week, ugh! Since my last post I’ve been embraced by a huge attack of flu which has finished off all my energy, forcing me to spend the week sleeping and vegetating basically, not being able to focus nor getting concentrated for long periods of time on reading, listening to music or watching TV. Really I haven’t been so fucked up in years. As if I’ve wasted my life and time this week, being non productive at all. Moreover because this fuckin’ virus was so tough and contagious, you can imagine I haven’t seen anyone these days. All the time on my fuckin’ own. What a horrible penitence. I NEED BEER ASAP!

Seems that I’m feeling better today, Friday 13th (UUUH), and leaving aside the birthday of a legend, Jason Voorhees, there’s something more relevant to celebrate: the 45th anniversary of the debut album of Black Sabbath.

black sabbath vinyl

Just few months ago I recovered this album to talk about the bells in rock, remembering the intro of ‘Black Sabbath’, with the storm and the bells, as one of the most sinister and overwhelming record openings in the history of rock/metal. Those bells make me think of the end of the hippie era, together with Vietnam (Nixon era) and the Manson family crimes. As if all related, all these facts created the portrait of a dark future ahead.

45 years after its release, this album is still mindblowing, with the same intensity as back in the day. I cannot recall of those days, but at least I have fresh in my memory the first time I listened to this album, followed by Paranoid, 20 ½ years ago.

I remember the year and the month, end of June 1994. Any given summer night, sitting in the copilot seat of my boyfriend’s car, actually his parents’, parked anywhere. You could go to a park or wherever, but the car has the stereo and we could listen to tapes. He asked me if I had ever listened to Black Sabbath, and I felt very ashamed when admitting I hadn’t yet, even though I knew it was one of these classic 70’s band I HAD TO listen. You know how things work when you are a teenager. It’s a constant struggle trying to show the world you know things, you’re an adult already, and you’re worthy of respect.  Thus, at this point someone asks you about a band or something you don’t really know, you can cheat assuring you know, putting your status into risk, or you can admit you don’t know, swallowing the shame and trying to recover your status the soonest. I chose the second option, as I knew he could catch me in a lie, especially related to music, very easily.

So more or less, the conversation was as follows:

-Hey Toi! Which band you prefer, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath? (this is the equivalent question to “are you studying or working?”, huh?)

-Eeeer! I love Led Zeppelin, but I can’t really say about Black Sabbath. Never got the chance to listen to them, and I don’t know anyone who can tape me any stuff. (shit! I’ve fucked it up!)

-Oh, wow! So you haven’t ever listened to BLACK SABBATH!!! (Dude, don’t stare at me as if I was a fuckin’ freak)

-No, man, I haven’t yet. (Toi sinking in shame. SHEEEEEIT!)

-You want to listen to them RIGHT NOW? I got a tape here!

-I’d love to if you feel like, sure. (feeling better?)

– I really feel VERY JEALOUS OF YOU RIGHT NOW. You’re about to listen to BLACK SABBATH!!! for the first time in your life! That is AWESOME!

-Yeah, man. Seem so. (Uuuf! He’s not gonna dump me…yet! Great!)

 

After searching for a tape, the moment of truth arrived. Not only I was to discover Black Sabbath, but also at the same time I was being tested by a guy I liked a lot, and I couldn’t disappoint him. Not that I had to be a yes girl saying the band was absolutely incredible, and blahblahblah, which in some way I had to pretend in case I didn’t like the tape, but the real trick was managing to sound convincing.

The tape started rolling, but no music sounded. He told me to “wait”, so I was staring at nothing focusing all my senses to something it was about to start. And then rain pouring, thunder, a church bell tolling coming closer, to introduce the scariest and most wicked intro I’ve ever listened  to up to date. Fuuuuuck! What the hell was THAT? First lines of the lyrics could perfectly define what I was thinking at that very moment “What is this that stands before me / figure in black which points at me”. Holy shit! I had listened to Megadeth, Iron Maiden or Slayer, but that, that was a way on top different league. Guitar riffs were terrific and threatening, drums and bass super heavy, Ozzy’s voice was that of an evil wizard…I was overwhelmed.

At some point I realized I wasn’t alone inside that car and tried to pull myself together, noticing I had been observed all those 6minutes and something, so when I lifted my head and turn my face to the left to him, my mouth was open in amazement, half smiling, and the only word I could articulate was, of course “FUCK!”. No need to say I passed the test, and brought the cassette home to copy it, with Paranoid on the other side, and a couple of songs of Masters of Reality.

sabbath 1970

This old story works for explaining what this album means to me at all levels. It’s not my favorite Black Sabbath album even though I’d include it in a top 5 list of the band, however I reckon it’s one of the most influential records in my life. I’m not a musician, so I won’t tell you stories about how much it inspired me to write lyrics, and I don’t consider myself a metalhead either, being this album probably the milestone of heavy metal. But listening to those 7 songs, one after the other, ‘The Wizard’, ‘Behind the Wall of Sleep’ (oh man, the drum break at the end, I could listen to it nostop for hours!), ‘N.I.B’, ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Sleeping Village’ and ‘Warning’ blew my mind completely, and opened the gates to another musical dimension, heavier, darker and more powerful, and the word riff came to my life to stay for good. How awesome is that, huh?

45 years since Black Sabbath shocked world, and 20 ½ years since it overwhelmed me, and I reckon there will be lots of other teenagers who will hear this album for the first time in their lives and will get crazy about it in the same way I did, because the power of this masterpiece remains intact, thanks to the timeless magic it was created with.

Satan bless Black Sabbath!

Album of week 4: …And Out Come the Wolves

This week’s been a rough one. Plus it’s been the first one I’ve worked full, and after a terrific weekend in Bibao, it’s been like a punishment. Emotionally weird too.

rancid

To face such low mood I needed some upper and recovering …And Out Come the Wolves has been the perfect choice. And it’s been thanks to my friend Jon who gave me one of his 3 original copies last Saturday. I had lost it during my “divorce” and I had completely forgotten about this masterpiece.

Never been a huge fan of Rancid but I’ve always liked them, and relate them to very good times thanks to a couple of shows I attended at Festimad festival in 1996 introducing this album, and then in 2012. Both of them equally funny and crazy. Rad shows!

When …And Out Come the Wolves Rancid turned our world upside down. It’s impossible to imagine such impact of a punk rock band on teenagers nowadays, but the 1990s were something different, and their style fitted in the bosses interests. Most of us were digging Seattle bands, darker, deeper and inward, but at the same time there was still some room for consuming explosive bands, without being related to any proper scene or style. Thus we had RATM, Biohazard and Body Count, and then we had Greenday and Rancid, which were totally punk orientated, to name few examples. I always preferred Rancid. Hey were wild and nasty, and I used to love dancing with them.

The Festimad show was insane. It was open air, at the main stage, and all I could see was people dancing around, pouring beer on people (yep, I got myself my first proper beer shower), singing and yelling, and overall having a great time. So was I. And then I felt hungry and thought it was the perfect time to have an omelet sandwich. Not very intelligent, I know. At some point of the show I thought my arm had shrunk because I couldn’t give a bite to the sandwich, and the reason was that there were two guys whose arms were woven to mine. Oh, man! I couldn’t stop laughing! And of course I couldn’t finish it because it ended up smashed. What a laugh!

Rancid 1995

…And Out Come the Wolves is a perfect record, a fuckin’ timeless masterpiece. One hit after another. It’s impossible to choose a favorite: ‘Ruby Soho’, ‘Time Bomb’, ‘Lock, Step & Gone’, ‘Roots Radical’ ‘She’s Automatic’, ‘Junkie Man’…These songs are anthems. It’s one of those albums you cannot listen motionless. You end up dancing or headbanging, but you never stop. Good vibes and energy are absolutely contagious.  And that’s exactly what I was looking for this week.

Recently a new Rancid album, named Honor Is All We Know, has been released, and it’s not as great as their third one, but still keeps the essence and the vibe, which is great news, because that means they’re still in shape for more writing, and most important, more touring. If they can play as they did a couple of years ago, that will mean to get another beer shower, sweat like a pig, and leave my guts on the pit, because as much as possible, I’ll be attending their shows without hesitation.

Album of week 1: Echo Street

It’s about time to write the first post of 2015, don’t you think? Well, first I wanna wish you a happy new year and all these things, all good, of course. Do not commit to many things and stay real when fixing targets, please. No need to get disappointed as life is hard enough, at least this has been my philosophy lately and it seems to work fine.

Also I want to thank you all for visiting the site. I’ve just read the stats and there’ve been 50k visits in 2014 which I think it’s pretty amazing considering I’ve been lazier and busier, not posting as much as I should have. So THANK YOU.

So, what should I start writing about? Ha! Music, what else?

Been listening to lots new stuff I’ve discovered recently thanks to a friend who’s introduced me to great bands and albums and I’m fascinated: Motorpsycho, Lungfish, Juno, Woven Hand… and above all Amplifier.

That name used to be familiar although I wasn’t acquainted with their music at all. It’s been a huge surprise to discover them. I’m still assimilating a couple of albums before approaching the rest, but I can already say I have a strong crush on this band from Manchester.

The most remarkable feature of their songs is the ability to create very evocative atmospheres, very space and dreamy, thanks to lots of guitar effects and wonderful melodies. It’s rock, but compositions are quite progressive and long, arrangements are absolutely delightful, and the final result is overwhelming.

amplifier

At this moment I can’t stop listening to Echo Street, their 2013 album. I only had to listen to the opening song, ‘Matmos’ to realize this wasn’t another band. You know the feeling of listening to something which is breathtaking? No matter how much music I listen, whenever this happens I really feel alive and glad to be able to perceive something with such intensity. Echo Street has 8 songs which move you to another dimension, as if you were floating, you can feel the world stops around, and there’s nothing but music. It’s awesome.

I was told that Amplifier played for only 30 people in Barcelona, in 2013, and the show was recorded. I can’t imagine what it was like, but based on this video of ‘Where the River Goes’ it had to be amazing. If only I had been there!

According to that, I assume their projection here in Spain is nonexistent unfortunately, so I don’t think there’s an easy chance to see them on stage, at least here. Damn! I hate being late!

Seriously, if you want to FEEL MUSIC, Echo Street is definitely a great outlet for it. You can’t do anything else because it captures and captivates you in a way not many albums can. It’s magic!