Music Reviews

Five Quick Picks

Quick reviews of five of my most recent and most recently treasured albums:
We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not HappyAlbum Title: We’re Not Happy ‘Til You’re Not Happy
Artist: Reel Big Fish
Year: 2005
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I’ve always held a special place in my heart for Reel Big Fish as they served as a “gateway band” for me, opening me up to the wonders of the entire Ska genre. Their fourth and latest album serves as a worthy addition to their catalog, ranking right up there with Turn the Radio Off in my estimation.
Their sound has matured on WNHTYNH – the horns all have a great amount of vibrance, the guitar riffs range from reggae-inspired strums to full on rock power chords, and the production values are stellar. The songs themselves are incredibly catchy, which is odd, as the lyrics themselves are mostly depressing. Only RBF could make songs like “Don’t Start A Band” (a warning to aspiring musicians about the perils of The Industry), “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em)”, and the paean to their mainstream status “One Hit Wonderful” be incredibly heartwarming while practically slapping you in the face with their down lyrics. All is not lost, though, as their covers of Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” and Social Distortion’s “Story of my Life” both breathe quite a bit of bouncy joy into the middle of the album.
Definitely a must-buy for RBF fanatics and ska aficionados alike.
Deltron 3030Album Title: 3030
Artist: Deltron
Year: 2000
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Words alone can barely describe this album. A concept album best described as “SciFi rap”, this collaboration between Del tha Funky Homosapien on lyrics, Kid Koala on turntables and Dan the Automator running the production is possibly one of the best rap albums I’ve ever heard. Del’s lyrics range from the funny to the incisive to the just plain weird as he holds forth on topics ranging from college admissions to computer viruses, all delivered under the notion that the entire Deltron crew hails from the 30th century and has sent this missive back into the 21st. Definitely worth a listen for fans of witty and intelligent wordplay in the vein of a hyperintelligent lost member of the Beastie Boys.
Fountains of WayneAlbum Title: Fountains of Wayne
Artist: Fountains of Wayne
Year: 1996
Fountains of Wayne’s debut album was a wonderful, if misunderstood album when it debuted in ’96, which is pretty easy to understand. FoW have always seemed to want to have their cake and eat it too: they want to produce catchy pop tunes that simultaneously define and parody the genre. Their self-titled first album was largely ignored except for the catchy singles “Sink to the Bottom” and “Leave the Biker”, which is unfortunate, as the entire album is definitely worth a listen. My favorite two tracks, “She’s Got a Problem” and “Survival Car” can hang with the best pop songs out there, even ten years after the album’s initial release. While I wouldn’t rank it as highly as Welcome Interstate Managers, it’s still better than 95% of the cruft out there. Give it a chance, you won’t regret it.
Demon DaysAlbum Title: Demon Days
Artist: Gorillaz
Year: 2005
Yet another concept album, Gorillaz’ sophomore album is an interesting offering to be sure. Damon Albarns saw fit to drop his collaborations with Dan the Automator and Del tha Funky Homosapien for Demon Days, instead enlisting the services of DJ Danger Mouse to good effect. I found the entire album to be more “listenable” than Gorillaz and “Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head” simply defies explanation – a spoken word track delivered by the one-and-only Dennis Hopper. It’s incredibly weird and yet very listenable and even a little catchy.
The Incredibles (Score)Album Title: The Incredibles (Score)
Artist: Michael Giacchino
Year: 2004
As previously noted, I absolutely loved The Incredibles and would in fact go so far as to call it my favorite film of the past year. One of the things that impressed me most as I walked out of the theater having seen the film for the first time was the care with which the musical score seemed to have been rendered. It fit the tone of the movie so precisely that it, in and of itself, seemed to be a work of art. I’ve found that the musical score is every bit as good on its own as when it accompanies the frenetic onscreen action and have found it to be the perfect complement to feverish php coding sessions. If you liked the movie, chances are you’ll like the score. Two thumbs up.

3 replies on “Five Quick Picks”

Wait, so force feeding you Bosstones all through high school did nothing for you in the ska genre!?

What can I say? I was young and foolish and didn’t truly appreciate the genius of MMBT.
Also, they had a negative connotation from camp, as a few of the native Bostonians were wicked hahdcoah Bosstone fans and flaming jerks, to boot, so I had that going against my acceptance of ’em.
I’ve always liked the punkier ska, as opposed to MMBT’s ska-core style, for some reason.
So, I guess the long and short of it is that while the exposure to MMBT via you and Andy laid the foundation for my enjoyment of ska, it was Turn the Radio Off that truly opened my eyes and allowed me to really enjoy the Bosstones (as well as Mustard Plug, The Aquabats, Mephiskapheles, Skankin’ Pickle, etc.).
Satisfied? *grin*

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