I do like a wide range of stuff. I give almost everything chances upon chances so I can ‘get it’. But there are somethings I don’t get. At. All. That’s OK, it’s my loss, not the artists or the fans. Or, their stuff has appeal to a different audience. In any event, I just don’t think I can review them fairly. So here they are; things that make me go “Hmmmm…..”
AIRPLAY – This album is for answering trivia questions (like who did the original version of “After the Love Has Gone” and what band was famous yacht-rocker Jay Graydon in with David Foster) than it is music of quality and distinction. It’s the ultimate Yacht Rock record – tasteful, smooth, and anonymous.
ALABAMA 3 – They did the theme for The Sopranos. The rest of their stuff is all over the place with dabbles in acid house, techno, and genre pastiches. Pass.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – I’m gonna be thrown out of the 2000’s Hipster Critic Society for this, but, it seems a lot of pretentious doodling for…meh?
APHEX TWIN – His work is probably best served to be reviewed by someone that ‘gets’ the nuances of his EDM and ambient works. I’m not that person.
AWOLNATION – They have that one song…you know that one? It’s on the tip of my tongue…you hear it in movies and commercials. I bet you can’t connect the song to the band. I couldn’t until I looked at it on my playlist.
BEEFEATER – For a punk band, they used intracite rhythms and sharp stacatto music. Yet the vocals aren’t much to write home about and this sound very dated (it is from the Reagan administration, but it seemed trite even then).
BIFF BANG POW! – The head of Creation Records’ band. He took the name from a song by the Creation. Unfortunately, this is third rate stuff compared to that band.
BIG HEAD TODD & THE MONSTERS – One of the countless jam bands that are great live, but on record seem either confined by the studio or the studio shows the flaws in their songwriting.
BIRTH CONTROL – A band formed because these Germans were really pissed at the Pope for banning the pill. No, really. It’s a lot of proggy, and a lot of excess. By 1974 all of the original members were gone, yet they still soldiered on.
BLACKBERRY SMOKE – I went through four albums of theirs, and put one review here. As I was prepping the others, I thought that there’s not much distinguishing one from another. They’re a decent southern rock band that’s safe for radio. If that’s what you’re after, fine.
BLUE OCTOBER – Sad white boy is sad, over and over again.
BOARDS OF CANADA – This style of electronica isn’t my bag, so I can’t tell you what’s good. I can say it’s good for insomnia.
BON IVER – People are going to ask me, “What the Hell?” and I’ll say that I like my music to keep me awake on occasion, thanks.
BOWLING FOR SOUP – It’s not high school any more, guys.
BRAID – This is farm-to-table emo, which makes it rawer, and more ragged. Eh.
THE EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND – They played heavy blues and psychedelic music. They reminded me of what would happen if Captain Beefheart kept playing the blues (they did cover “Drop Out” from the Captain’s first record). But these free festival champions’ records are incomprehensible messes for us non-stoned Yanks, and his UK hits were cheap chants.
BULLETT LA VOLTA – Woulda, coulda, shoulda, but didn’t.
CABARET VOLTAIRE – They went from totally art-damaged electronics to almost art-damaged electonica. Admirable for their influence, but not my cuppa joe. Still, “(Do the) Mussolini Headkick” earns them style points for the title.
CEE-LO GREEN – I never heard anything about the charges against him, but he’s basically disappeared.
COHEED & CAMBRIA – Concept albums, sure, why not? Concept groups, with multi-part albums that are part of multi-album storylines and very dense storytelling? Um, not my cuppa joe. I thought we got rid of this with Magma long, long, ago.
CRASH TEST DUMMIES – Has any song been as polarizing as “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”? The ‘voice of doom’ vocals of Brad Roberts always promises an bummer of a time. Canada suffered through more of their stuff than we did in the US, thankfully.
SHERYL CROW – I’ve always thought she was a safe, corporate choice for mid-tempo rockin’. In her time, she was the personification of Adult Album Alternative, even if that chart didn’t exist for most of her career.
DEERHOOF – They’re all over the place – album to album they’re doing something different. Usually, it’s avant-garde and can test your patience. That’s why I stuck them here. But when they’re good, they’re really really good.
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS – On paper, a Stooge on guitar and an MC5 member on bass sounds like a good plan, but in reality it’s kind of a misfire with thin production and a singer (NIagara) sounding more bored than anything else. Maybe they were good on stage?
DESTROYER – I’m not 100% sold on him for an entire album. I think this is where the Apple Essentials Playlist will come in handy, as opposed to plowing through every single album he’s done.
ANI DiFRANCO – I’m not afraid to admit I’m not her target demographic.
DISPATCH – Folkie jam band (who throw a lot of things against the wall in a song, (so it seems) went away and came back. Their fans are pretty rabid, and I guess they put on a good show. I saw them on the Tonight Show, but it didn’t translate to the record.
THE DREAM ACADEMY – They’re light and airy or dark and…airy. And they have an air of seriousness that overwhelms the music. Lighten up, eh?
DROPKICK MURPHYS – I gotta be in the right mood, in the right place, at the right time. Otherwise it’s a bunch of Boston louts yelling at me.
AYNSLEY DUNBAR RETALIATION – After John Mayall sacked him for Mick Fleetwood, Dunbar formed this group with a great name, but the only thing notable is that they were the originators of “Warning”, a track on the first Black Sabbath album. Otherwise their four albums are just fair-to-middlin’ British Blues, nothing special at all. Dunbar later drummed with almost every band in the 70’s and 80’s that needed someone to fill a chair. He and Cozy Powell probably have the longest C.V.’s of any rock drummer of that era.
EGGS OVER EASY – They have some name recognition as one of the first pub-rock bands. That doesn’t mean it’s exciting or revelatory. It means it fit in pubs where they didn’t want prog or hard rock. That’s all.
EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN – They’ve mellowed over the years, but still their mix of heavy machinery, industrial, and German ranting is incomprehenible to me, and I can hang with a lot of art damaged bands. Still, I dig “Kalte Sterne”.
MELISSA ETHRIDGE – She’s a trailblazer, and a powerful symbol. But he music always seemed recycled Springsteen / Petty rock.
THE EXPLOITED – I’m all for disgruntled punk rock, but these guys didn’t change it up much, and their move towards more of a metal sound also didn’t help their stasis. It just gets boring having some yob yell at you in garbled mumbles.
FOETUS – J. G. Thirwell’s project of a million pseudonyms is staggeringly well-crafted and encompassing, but you really need a definite palate for outrage and industrial noise.
GENE LOVES JEZEBEL – When the protracted legal battle is more interesting (where the Aston twins are the O.G. Gallagher brothers) than most of the music, you get yourself a “Hmmmm…”
G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE – I wasn’t a fan of their amalgam of blues and rap, and I’m still not a fan of this, or him, or whatever.
GONG – In my study of rock music, the European psychedelic scene has always come up, especially as it moved towards either Krautrock or Prog or Hawkwind (their own genre, of course). Gong was always described as the hippie’s hippie music, moreso than the Incredible String Band. They’re streaming, so I threw some tracks in my library, and, well, I just don’t know what to say. They have long (multi-album) concept albums and the music is just WAAAAY to acid-damaged for me.
HAPSHASH & the COLOURED COAT – Psychedelic weirdness for weirdness sake wasn’t limited to New York and San Francisco. It’s ‘influential’, which I think means that better bands listened to this while stoned off the gourd and added some of this randomness into their songs. Maybe. Sober, I have no patience for this.
HARMONIA – A super-group of Krautrock approved by Eno. Sounds intriguing but only for the already Kraut-rock converted. Others will need time, patience, or remedial lessons.
THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND – I didn’t really get Gong because it’s just way, way, too much. This is also too much, but in an acoustic way. I know they’re well regarded and have a lot of fans, but it just bores me. It’s like every hippie cliche come to life.
TERRY KNIGHT & THE PACK – “Hey, it’s the manager and two guys from Grand Funk” may pique your interest until you realize it’s the manager who sang and wrote their originals.
LE STELLE di MARIO SHIFANO – A group put together for an Italian artist, this was the rarest and most expensive Italian album in the red vinyl edition. It’s art damaged prog hooey.
LIGHTNING BOLT – It’s fun to make noise, sure. And I guess there’s something to this, but I’m at a loss to discover what that is.
THE MAKE UP – There’s something about their post-punk, post-modern, post-something-or-other that didn’t move me past the skip button.
MANHATTAN TRANSFER – First, they had their own summer replacement show. Second, they alwas seem affected and snooty. Third, “Birdland” shouldn’t have lyrics.
THE DAVE MATTHEWS BAND – In brief, small bits, you can appreciate them. But over time the superficiality reveals itself. There’s a reason that the audience has dwindled to cult and die-hard status.
MUMFORD & SONS – I’ve always found them insincere and opportunistic. The Avett Brothers run laps around them.
MUSIC EMPORIUM – “Nam Myo Renge Kyo” sounds neat once or twice, but the band really turned itself into a psychedelic mubmo-jumbo group, complete with ‘heavy’ but ludicrious non-sequitirs, and that’s exactly what the rest of this is.
NECK DEEP – That shouty emo stuff didn’t leave, it just moved to Wales.
THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS – See the movie A Mighty Wind. Then make your choice.
JOANNA NEWSOM – This is a personal thing. I don’t like her voice – her wild untrainable voice. I can’t get past it. The songs are great and the arrangements on Ys. are so damn great. But the voice. Please don’t revoke my critic card.
JOHN OTWAY – There are some things that don’t translate from the UK to here.
THE PASTELS – One track heard and shazamed from KEXP while in Seattle traffic isn’t a good representation, I guess. Too twee and gentle.
PIGFACE – The really outre avant-garde industrial stuff is, to my ears, a load of art damaged hooey.
THE POLECATS – They came before the Stray Cats in the UK, but didn’t have Brian Setzer. “Make a Circuit with Me” is grand though.
PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) – Italian prog-rock. Sounds about like you think it would. Kinda like ELP crossed with King Crimson and Yes with someone screaming at you in Italian.
PUSSY GALORE – Glancing at their song titles early in their career (“You Look Like a Jew”, “Fuck You, Man”, “Pussy Stomp”), they were just there to shock. Most of the band came from the suburban elite (Jon Spencer went to Brown, Julia Cafritz’ family were high society in DC) or in the boho no-wave scene. Later, they moved to more experimental but still trashy tunes, all in the name to provoke the unhip and create a ‘cool kids’ club for those who got ‘it’. There were other, actually decent, bands the evolved out of this band, but together their attempted outrage was easily foiled.
RED CRAYOLA (KRAYOLA) – The Parable of Arable Land was a freak out to the nth degree, but even my Beefheart-loving self didn’t get it. I tried. I know it’s art and all, and acid-damaged art at that. But this eludes my grasp of understanding.
JONATHAN RICHMAN – I love, love, love the original Modern Lovers album. Then he became…unique. They Might Be Giants may have silly songs, but they’re well produced and have cohesion. Richman is rather much a mess, seemingly spontaneous. He seems like a nice guy, though.
RIVAL SONS – It may be refreshing to have a band from the 2010’s want to sound like they’re from the 1970’s, but not all the 70’s hard rock was that great, donchaknow.
THE ROSSINGTON COLLINS BAND – A lot was lost in the Skynyrd plane crash. Four of the survivors joined up but the leading light was long gone, and they couldn’t even hold a candle to Molly Hatchet. Sigh.
SACCHARINE TRUST – Up above, I said there were going to be bands that I don’t get. This is a prime example. I admire the free-formy guitar of Joe Baiza, who was a contemporary and friend of the Minutemen, but the songs have no focus (that’s intentional, but not necessarily a good thing here), veer into and out of free jazz and post-punk without warning or reason, and vocalst Jack Brewer is one that you take or leave.
SIGUR ROS – Don’t be alarmed, people. I don’t get it. You may, I don’t. It’s all on me, probably.
SUM 41 – The Canadian Blink 182? That’s an insult to Blink 182. They’re better than Nickelback. (Damn, Faint Praise, etc.)
SUN DIAL – There are psychedelic tribute bands, and then there are bands that go whole hog. Sun Dial goes whole hog, along with wild boar, antelope, and wildebeest. A little too much art damage here.
TANGERINE DREAM – Immensely influental. Loved by directors and producers to provide soundtracks for their movies. On your earphones, good for a nap.
THEORETICAL GIRLS – The “No Wave” scene in late-70’s NYC had some arty moments and some dreadful moments. While I kinda get where they’re gunning for, it’s a chore to listen to. Glenn Branca would have better ideas later.
THIS MORTAL COIL – Dream pop isn’t something I’ve gotten into, mainly because it tends to linger along in a precious way. They also seem to languish in their torpor.
THROBBING GRISTLE – Important for their art, sure. Important for their influence, yes. But important doesn’t always mean listenable. And I can listen to almost anything!
TITANIC – One of the many early 70’s European bands that were semi-proggy and hired a singer from the UK to sing in English for ‘appeal’. They had a top 5 UK hit with a total Santana rip in 1972, but whenever they strayed from the standard Deep Purple formula, they exposed themselves as sub Procol Harum hokum.
TUNEYARDS – I’m not going to spell it the way they do, which is annoying. Their music can also be annoying, instead of clever.
RICK WAKEMAN – Never one to shy away from excess, his solo work definitely fits that bill. A suite about the wives of Henry VIII was the ‘most normal’ of his early work. He then replicated the Deep Purple experiment (more successfully), and did a work on King Arthur that was staged as a goddamn ice show on a couple of occasions. He calmed down, a bit, after that, but man, that’s a lot of pretentiousness in excelsius deo there.
WYE OAK – Every now and then I dig a song by them, but a lot of times I feel either bored or restless. That’s not a good combination.