Archive for August, 2011

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Jay-Z – The Black Album

Friday, August 26, 2011
The Black Album (2003)

The Black Album (2003)

Last Sunday I bought this, doubling my hip hop collection. Kind of sad? Yes. Obviously, I’m not that into rap, and that’s a damn shame. It’s taken me a while to check out what is, arguably, the most popular genre of music in America.

Other than Illmatic and some of the more really popular songs that come on the radio (the ones so popular that I’d literally have to be living under a rock or willfully ignoring them to not know they exist), my knowledge of rap is near zero. It’s just never appealed to me. I’ve always been a rocker/indie type at core.

But if The Black Album is any indication, I’m missing out on quite a lot. Now I want to dig deeper, not only into Jay-Z, but other rappers, too.

I’ve been told that this is not Jay-Z at his best, but after a week of listening to it, I really like what I hear  – and if this is not his best, then I’m really looking forward to his earlier stuff. I already have some favorite tracks – “Moment of Clarity,” “What More Can I Say,” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” being some.

I like The Black Album, because it’s easily accessible to a newbie like me. It’s something I can instantly like and get into. I love how Jay-Z blends pop and rap together – making this album just fun to listen to.  Oh yeah, and the lyrics are great (for the most part). As a man of words, I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to check out music where words are the main emphasis. This album is  a pleasure to listen to.

I also picked up The Chronic by Dr. Dre – so rest assured – I hope to review some more rap pretty soon, including Illmatic. Figured I’d start with the classics to have a good base. As my appreciation and knowledge for it grow, hopefully the reviews will get a little better as well.

Also, if you have any recommendations for stuff to review – post it below. I’m always looking for new music.

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Sonic Youth – EVOL

Friday, August 19, 2011

EVOL (1986)

Sonic Youth is the only band I’ve driven over three hours to see, by myself. I hate driving, and I hate being by myself, so that speaks volumes for how much I adore this band. I waited anxiously for the band to begin – I was going crazy with no one to talk to. Just as I started to wonder if I had made a mistake, the band came on. The first few strains of “Tom Violence” shook the entire room, all doubt was dispelled. Seeing Sonic Youth live was a treat – especially when they closed with “Cross the Breeze.”

I can’t exactly remember the first time I listened to EVOL. I must have been a sophomore or junior in college. It didn’t strike me immediately, as did Daydream Nation or Sister. It was definitely a grower. But this is a psychotic and edgy trip. It’s like Sister, but rawer.  The lyrics are just as fascinating as the perfect blend of melody and noise. They could just be read for their own sake=. As the album title suggests,  a sense of foreboding and doom hangs over the whole album,  like there’s a horror movie going on in your mind, like an eighteen wheeler bearing down on you, but your frozen in place, like a vampire hypnotizing you before it bites into your neck. This album is a storm.

Every song on the album is good and worth listening to. “Shadow of a Doubt” is an absolute masterpiece, a bipolar trip that shifts between chilling guitar plucking and piano to a release of screaming and guitar riffage. “In the Kingdom” completely defies me to explain – it would probably take me another two hours to just write two sentences that can somewhat accurately describe the song.

There are so many intricate details that you could listen to this forty times and still pick out something new – and that, at least, is what has kept me coming back, much like all of Sonic Youth’s stuff I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.