Thursday, June 21, 2007

5 A Day: Day 4

This is all done to the rhythm of Sleater-Kinney. It popped in my head while I was grilling earlier.

Anyway, we proceed...

Baden Powell - Enciclopedia Musical Brasileira

This is a 1966 release from the Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell de Aquino, more commonly known as Baden Powell. Powell is an interesting guitarist. While he is clearly of Brazilian origin due to his sonic similarities to Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim, Powell is also culling his cues from classical guitar as well as more traditional electric jazz guitar. But unlike traditional jazz guitar, Powell plays an classical acoustic guitar with precision and great technicality. As one would suspect from a musician the quality of Powell, the music is electrifying and thoroughly engaging. Over the course of the album, Powell references American jazz, Bossa Nova, and classic Brazilian samba. As well, Powell shows off his brilliance in solo pieces that allows him to show off his technique and skills. For anyone who calls themselves a guitar player, they should have this album in their collection so they can listen to the brilliance of one of the masters of the instrument.

Beck - Mutations

Through his catalog, Beck has always existed in two forms: the postmodern ironist who has an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to music and the considerate folk artist who sits in a room playing pretty folk songs and strums his guitar. Mutations is based in the latter form of Beck. The cacophony of samples and Dust Brothers production of Odelay is replaced by acoustic guitars and the smooth, reverb-drenched production of Nigel Godrich. While I think that Godrich is unadventurous as a producer along with being ridiculously heavy-handed and predictable, Beck shines as a different artist on Mutations. Following the masterwork that is Odelay, Mutations is a great shift of form and sound, showing a more sensitive and pondering side of his character. The sampling geek that I love hasn't left either. Beck samples different musical forms, calling upon tropicalia, bossa nova, samba, country, and the blues. The trick to Beck's sampling is that it sounds like he has been playing these forms for years. Unlike other artists who sample different forms and come across as hacks, Beck integrates them into his folk base easily and makes it sound like he has been playing all of these forms for years. According to Beck and his record labels Bong Load and Geffen, Mutations was intended to be a stopgap between Odelay and the mess that was Midnight Vultures. For a stopgap, this is an amazing album. Mutations is considerably better than a lot of other bands' practiced and intentional releases. It just helps to show that Beck is truly where it's at.

Blancmange - Irene & Mavis

Blancmange is a fairly successful British band that had problems crossing over into the American musical sphere. They play a brand of synth pop that is very dreamy and influenced by Indian music. On this EP, the sound is a bit more experimental with no clear reference to the East. As well, the EP shares a kinship with the new romantic movement, reminding me a bit of OMD. For a band that was very successful and has a kinship with new romanticism, this album displays a clear sense of amateurism. On the song Concentration Baby, the singer is laughing through the song. He can't deliver lines correctly. Additionally, the production throughout the album was not very good. It was muddy and the violin on the aforementioned Concentration Baby sounds like a kazoo. While the songs are not bad, they do not flow together and the quality of sound is low. On the whole, this is a very spotty release that could have benefitted immensely from editorial discretion and a little less snickering.

Boogie Down Productions - Criminally Minded

I'm not going to wax prosaic about this album because this is a seminal hip-hop album. If you haven't heard this album and you call yourself a hip-hop head, I'm straight up putting you on blast. You are some weak shit. Period. You can start up the road to victory by buying this album. You still will suck and should get criticized by your friends for sucking, but your friends probably suck too if they haven't put you on this album.

For the non-heads, this is the rap album that changed the game in a lot of ways. It took rap out of the clubs and put it on the street and opened the door for hardcore rap to flourish. It wouldn't have approved of the current rap style, but it definitely opened the door. Super important album. Definitely a must have and a must listen.

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Bravery, Repetition, and Noise

While they were the subject of a documentary, do not let that fool you into thinking that the Brian Jonestown Massacre is as worthless as the Dandy Warhols musically (yes, I said it. The Dandy Warhols suck!). To the contrary, The Brian Jonestown Massacre is one of the more entertaining band in the music world and it isn't because of their onstage antics; it's because their music. BJM is best known for combining shoegaze, psychedelic rock, and eastern influences into a maelstrom of hazy, swirling rock and roll. does recognize this tradition, but also deviates from it. The main deviation is that these songs have actual verse/chorus/verse structures as well as a solid pop foundation. This isn't the traditional BJM style, but you would have never convinced me of that. The album are strong all the way through. The songs are catchy and, like any good pop song, easy to sing along with. Standouts for me are the country/psych-tinged rambler Open Heart Surgery, the swirling Nevertheless, and the upbeat Telegram. Bravery, Repetition, and Noise is one of those albums that you will start nodding along to without knowing that you are nodding along to it. This is what happened to me. I guarantee this is what will happen to you too.