Category Archives: Rura88 a.k.a. R.R.

Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane [2 CD 10th Anniversary Edition]

Maroon 5
Songs About Jane [2 CD 10th Anniversary Edition]
June 20, 2012
A&M OctoneUMG
070/100
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane 10th Anniversary Edition

Disc 1
1. Harder to Breathe // 2. This Love // 3. Shiver // 4. She Will Be Loved // 5. Tangled // 6. The Sun // 7. Must Get Out // 8. Sunday Morning // 9. Secret // 10. Through With You // 11. Not Coming Home // 12. Sweetest Goodbye

Disc 2
1. Harder To Breathe [Demo Version] // 2. This Love [Demo Version] // 3. Shiver [Demo Version] // 4. She Will Be Loved [Demo Version] // 5. Tangled [Demo Version] // 6. The Sun [Demo Version] // 7. Must Get Out [Demo Version] //  8. Sunday Morning [Demo Version] // 9. Secret [Demo Version] // 10. Through With You [Demo Version] // 11. Not Coming Home [Demo Version] // 12. Sweetest Goodbye [Demo Version] // 13. Take What You Want // 14. Rag Doll // 15. Woman // 16. Chilly Winter // 17. The Sun [Alternate Mix]

In 2012 Maroon 5 released a tenth anniversary edition of their 2002 debut Songs About Jane. The original album has been covered by Sir Bonkers who rather enjoyed it. The incarnation of the album that was originally released to audiences worldwide in ’02 was decidedly not my cup of tea as is the band as a whole. In a review of that I would burn Maroon 5 to the ground for having a frontman with a high pitched, nasal voice, their ability to play instruments above averagely be damned. I’ve always thought of Maroon 5 as annoyingly mediocre.

I’ve always considered their music more annoying than the buzzing of a mosquito. A mosquito I can kill but Maroon 5 with Adam Levine included persists and persists to grow more annoying. Hearing Moves Like Jagger makes me think of of a guy singing with a clothes peg on his nose in order to sound extra nasal while trying to hit a bunch of different high notes while getting so out belted and out classed in general by a far superior singer with seventies soul diva worthy vocal talent, miss Christina Aguilera. But I’m getting off track there. the original Songs About Jane is a five out of ten affair in my opinion, but this is a review of the tenth anniversary edition which includes a full disc of previously unreleased material, mostly demos of the tracks that made the cut of the original album, but also a B-side of one of the singles and a couple of never before released songs. The following review is of that disc.

There is a very audible difference between the album versions and demo versions. The demos are much better sounding and Adam Levine’s voice can even – dare I say it – be appreciated.

This Love is a good example. The demo sounds crisper, less loud and Adam Levine sounds more natural. The album version was an acceptable shade of catchy bland-sounding as long as the volume was down. This actually sounds decent. Shiver sounds more much more modest and less pumped up.

The demos actually give the listener the opportunity to listen to the notes, silences and the interplay in the band. She Will Be Loved sounds more emotional. there  are some cool keys and sound effects going on here. I’m starting to see the appeal of these guys. The grooves are more groovy here and yes Maroon 5 sounds decisively funky.

In the demo mixes the vocals are more prominent and the keyboardist is really in his element on the demos. The Sun is a sheer pleasure. As I am trying to write I’m having to resist singing along. The drum kit sounds like an actual drum kit rather than on the album version where it sounds like a drum machine. The distant guitar wails almost remind me of the Verve. When I mention the Verve that is no light compliment. Nick McCabe played guitars like a shoegazing guitar hero.

Sunday Morning comes remarkably close to sounding like a live soul jam. If anything the ‘good old’ Chicago comes to mind. Chicago could play no other band and this version is a pleasant surprise. The demo of Secret is another gem. Adam Levine’s voice in slow jams with slow grooves and shimmering guitars is a match made in heaven.

The piano in Through With You sounds spacious and lively. Adam Levine is still still doesn’t work as an angry guy and never will because of his voice, so he does well setting the mood as disappointed. Sweetest Goodbye is also largely improved upon (Or rather taken away from since this is in fact the original version). The more accentuated acoustic sound works really well. The keys and acoustic guitars add a very nice effect. The guitar solo in the end gives a light Rock edge.

Take What You Want was previously unreleased. It is a good song about how relationships can end. This song is a light rocker and the guitar solos are very tastefully done. Rag Doll follows as a slow song about Adam Levine wanting to be single. Woman is a gem. I am digging this slow song about fantasising about a beautiful woman who he still has yet to meet.

Chilly Winter is a funk song about missing your girlfriend reminiscent of early Prince music not only in spirit but also in quality which was unexpected. The horn section works well in this song. The Sun is the closer of this album and. This is a good song too, full stop.

There is little to add. On the demos and unreleased songs M5 actually sounds like a completely different, better band. I find it regrettable that I learned of Maroon 5 via TV and radio and their finished albums because apparently that doesn’t give a good indication what these guys are capable of. The demos are much nicer sounding than their finished counterparts and the band sounds enjoyable throughout.

Best Tracks
She Will Be Loved [Demo Version]
The Sun [Alternate Mix]
Sunday Morning [Demo Version]
Woman
Chilly Winter

Recommendations
If the demo’s were sold on a separate disc I could recommend this album right away. On the second disc there is no filler and the demos actually make the regular album redundant. It’s terrific stuff.

As it is I still recommend a purchase but you should immediately put the first disc in the dumpster as soon as you leave the record store. Also this positive review shouldn’t be read as any sort of edorsement of anything else they ever did. All their other albums are still an apalling waste of time, although who knows? Maybe if they dug up the demos for a re-release those might sound good as well.

My regards,

Rura88


Daft Punk – Homework

Daft Punk
Homework
20 January 1997
Virgin Records
UMG
090/100

Daft Punk - Homework

1. Daftendirekt // 2. Wdpk 83.7 fm // 3. Revolution 909 // 4. Da Funk // 5. Phoenix // 6. Fresh // 7. Around The World // 8. Rollin’& Scratching // 9. Teachers // 10. High Fidelity // 11. Rock’n Roll // 12. Oh Yeah // 13. Burnin’ // 14. Indo Silver Club // 15. Alive // 16. Funk Ad

Daft Punk is a team up of two DJs who became popular in the early nineties. They were influenced by Funk, early electronic music, Techno and eighties Pop à la Roxy Music. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter a.k.a. Daft Punk were part of a new generation of so-called Dance artists like Basement Jaxx, Moby and Armand van Helden just to name a few. Continuing the list: Junkie XL, Air, The Chemical Brothers and you understand how fertile that period was for electronic music.

In 1996 their album Homework was released in Europe. In the U.S.A release followed in 1997. It was an immense success that put them on the map of the music world we know today. Their sound of Funk and Disco infected House and Techno still seduces unsuspecting people to shuffle their feet. I grew up in the nineties and Daft Punk’s work was part of the mainstream music channels like TMF and MTV (before reality TV took over what still calls itself Music TeleVision).

One presses play and Daftendirekt begins. A low voice makes its presence and after 35 seconds the beat starts. “Da funk back to the time, come on” is repeated and slowly the track unveils its full mix. Wdpk 83.7 fm is basically the radio promo that officially starts the album.

Revolution 909 starts with a thumping beat and sirens that introduces an infectious House tune. The samples have a retro sound to it. After 3:10 a short Techno interlude mixes up the sound after which the Disco infused House continues. Da Funk is a personal favourite track of mine on this album. The break-beat intro is so effective in luring one into the raw electronic groove. Big beats and break-beats are in a rare harmony that aren’t often heard. The electronic soloing in the middle of the track really gives this track a unique vibe.

Phoenix starts with dry beats, high hats follow and step by step the sounds make their introduction. Daft Punk want to lure you into their sound and successfully so, I am practically dancing on my chair. Fresh like water on a beach. Electric keys, beats and groove introduce me to Fresh. Again the layers of sounds just lure you in. This is more of a chill-out House track to which you can still dance or just read a book. The fade out, water on a beach…

Around The World changed many things. The video of for this track changed the world of music forever. The sound of this track was a groovy revelation in its time. This track gets people exited to boogie like MJ’s Blame It On The Boogie can do it. What’s left to add? 7 full minutes of pure electronic funky ecstasy. Rollin’& Scratchin’ is different. A repetitive dry beat becomes louder and louder while the samples slowly come together. If this track had screaming vocals and wailing guitars it would be Industrial, it is brutal yet listenable. Instead it is noisy Techno. It has a strange appeal one has to be in the mood for.

Teachers, the title tells you enough. Daft Punk mentions the names of those who inspired them. Over a break beat with a vocal sample so one can take notes before you start searching.
High Fidelity, back to beats and samples. A sample is looped and cut over one beat in various beats throughout the entire track. This results in a funky House track that remains remarkably fun to listen to.

Beats and hand claps introduce Rock’n Roll. Slowly an electronic noise repeats itself more and more. If Hard Rock would be turned into electronic music this somewhat matches my imagined outcome. A strange electronic sound wails like a lead guitar over the beats. Just like Rollin’& Scratching this track is brutal yet listenable. Oh Yeah follows as groove and a slow beat with a vocal samples slow down the pace. This track is a short transition to the last part of the album. But as a separate track it still stands on its own.

Slow beats, a strange noise and an old sample start Burnin’. This track is cool for its subtle effect while you are lured into another House groove. Daft Punk really know how to immerse the listener into the music. Even the most reluctant party goer cannot resist the urge to just dance. Indo Silver Club’s intro starts softly. After that the funky House groove takes you away. This is one of those tracks that immediately hits or misses. It sounds shy of bland but its hook can catch anyone off guard. I happen to have a weak spot for this track.

Alive starts and futuristic bombastic sounds enter make their entrance. The sounds come in one by one and at 2:08 the futuristic eighties Disco groove just takes the listener to another place entirely. This music could easily be a soundtrack for a chase in a Sci-Fi film from the eighties. This track is simply epic. Funk Ad closes the album. The outro for the album is a slow groove that slowly fades out with the sound of Da Funk…

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter produced this album to have a particular sound. When listening through headphones, AKG K500s I initially thought the album sounded slightly loud. Not brick walled just more emphasized lows and highs for a more exiting sound. On this album it works. Just be careful with the listening volume. A part from that you can hear the craftsmanship both DJs put in this album. But there’s one think I would like to know from you, if you can spare a moment: why the name Daft Punk?

Best Tracks
Da Funk
Phoenix
Around The World
Rock’n Roll
Indo Silver Club
Alive

Recommendations
This album, gives one the feeling of listening to a freshly copied bootleg of a Daft Punk gig. There is no filler to speak of, everything works and when one stops thinking the music takes over. Also, in its own way this album marked a new era of electronic music a.k.a. Dance. Even today this album still sounds fresh and different. Highly recommended…

My regards,

Rura88


Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine
November 3, 1992
Epic Records/ SME
090/100
RATM - Rage Against The Machine
1. Bombtrack // 2. Killing In The Name Of // 3. Take The Power Back // 4. Settle For Nothing
// 5. Bullet In The Head // 6. Know Your Enemy // 7. Wake Up // 8. Fistful Of Steel // 9. Township Rebellion // 10. Freedom

My apologies for my absence from the blog. I was a busy student following courses in management learning very little. If anything my appreciation for management books significantly decreased. What does this have to do with the music? I really don’t know. All I know is that these days I need more Rock and Metal to ventilate my studies-frustrated brain. This leads me to find musical comfort with one of my favorite bands: Rage Against The Machine. If the name doesn’t ring a bell for you just stop reading, get the album and listen to the lyrics. Even in these ‘political correct’ times, twenty one years from its release this album’s message still makes sense.

On Youtube search for their 1992 and 1993 interviews. (An ad blocker of some sorts is advised before you visit the cursed Youtube!) I’ll recap what this band is about: San Francisco; Tom Morello, Zack De La Rocha, Brad Wilk and Tim Bob start as an underground rock band with a social message; Epic gives the band a record and the rest is history, as they say. Killing In The Name Of and Bombtrack became massive hits despite (or maybe because of) initial censorship. RATM’s life shows gained a reputation that attracted a solid fan base through the years. This album is one of the best albums released during the nineties if you ask me.

Bombtrack kicks off the album. A subtle melody leads to the bombastic intro and from there on the entire band makes its presence. From 3:05 the real goodness starts if you ask me: Tom Morello lets the guitar speak for itself. Lyrically Zack introduces himself with this “funky radical bombtrack” to give the “Landlords and powerwhores” a wake-up call. Killing In The Name Of brings a grin to my face. This is Rock with a funky bass line and Zack whipping up the audience to jump around. Tom’s guitar around 3:54 – 4:10 is icing on the cake. The iconic “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” line says it all. Lyrically the song addresses the abuse of power behind police badges and insignia.

Take The Power Back, the title says it all. This a funky protest song that would take every B-Boy into seventh heaven if it were a break-beat instrumental. Listen carefully and you understand why the band is called Rage Against The Machine. The instrumental part of this song gives me the shivers: the drumming is tastefully energetic, the bass line is groovy and the guitar sounds finger licking good. Settle For Nothing follows. Mostly spoken word, instrumental backing and Metal. In this song Zack takes his stance. Bullet In The Head is different. A more laid back instrumental part with an almost satirical vocal delivery from Zack. 3:08, prepare to launch. 4:29, Metal! Lyrically the song is about propaganda, the masses and the sheeple. The title describes the sad ending of the sheeple.

Know Your Enemy, the guitar welcomes you to a funky jam. Around 0:48 you can headbang on this solid rocker. Zack’s rapping is easy to understand. 2:38 – 3:06, chorus and the funky jam resumes. 4:09, Zack continues his message until the music stops at 4:42 and you hear “All of which are American dreams!”. If Zack is to be believed there’s no such thing but I rather prefer George Carlin’s explanation. Wake Up start like a good Metal song until around 1:00 the funky jam takes off. At 3:31 the song changes again, back to Metal until 4:29 at “I think I heard a shot”. 5:07 and the band starts to jam. Lyrically this song is about raising awareness about civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Yet they were shot, so wake up.

Fistful Of Steel starts as a steady rocker. Smooth bass lines and wails create a sonic contrast: Zack’s delivery sounds as if he is preaching accompanied by sirens. 4:45, the Hard Rock part starts and the guitars screams. Lyrically the song is about how the microphone is Zack’s gun, his “fistful of steel”. Township Rebellion kicks off with the rhythm section launching the song in a rocker at 0:34 until the break-beats resume at 1:06. At 1:34 the rock instrumentals grind forwards again and at 2:07 there’s just grooving with subtle guitars solos. After about every thirty seconds the song shifts into another instrumental phase to close off in a grand finale starting at 4:28. “Why stand on a silent platform, fight the war, fuck the norm” says it all. Freedom is basically an extension of the previous song. The entire last song is a big outro with jams and lyrics. 3:43, the final starts with grinding Hard Rock, lingers on in “Freedom Yeah!” and everything ends with a growl and the noise of a PA-system.

I like this album a lot. I re-listened to this album after the Sound City documentary by Dave Grohl. RATM went to Sound City to record their album following in the footsteps of Nirvana and here I am typing about this album. I gave this album a 090/100, why? Zack De La Rocha’s vocals are fine for one listen but that limits the appeal of this album. The band is great. Tom Morello on guitar elevates everything to a higher level. Tim Bob’s bass lines are groovy and Brad Wilk’s drumming has the just right energy. Also this album did not become victim of the so-called loudness wars: turn up the volume as much as you like, the sound remains crisp and dynamic.

Content wise there is a lot to like about this album. You hear Funk, Rock, Metal and Hip-Hop in various parts of the album. Lyrically speaking Zack reminds me of an angry Sly Stone or Curtis Mayfield, although a tad repetitive and he screams a lot. Sure his rapping/spoken word is preachy but it’s very tolerable. Early interviews reveal that RATM was influenced by various genres and artists from Nirvana to Run DMC.

Best Tracks
Bombtrack
Killing In The Name Of
Take The Power Back
Township Rebellion
(I could mention every track given there’s no filler to be found i.m.h.o.)

Recommendation
I mentioned it in the first paragraph: “If the name doesn’t ring a bell for you just stop reading, get the album and listen to the lyrics. In these ‘political correct’ times this album still makes sense.” Even if you don’t particularly care for the lyrical content, highly recommended.

Sincerely,

Yours Truly.


Run-D.M.C. – King of Rock

Run-D.M.C.
King Of Rock
January 21, 1985
Profile RecordsArista Records/ SME
070/100
RUN-DMC - King of Rock

1.Rock The House // 2. King Of Rock // 3. You Talk Too Much // 4. Jam-Master Jammin’ // 5. Roots, Rock, Reggae // 6. Can You Rock It Like This // 7. You’re Blind // 8. It’s Not Funny // 9. Daryll And Joe (Krush Groove 3)

It’s 1985 and Run DMC releases its second album. The first album brought a whole new sound to the fledgling Hip-Hop genre. The eponymous debut was the first real Hip Hop album (as opposed to singles and compilations that were released prior) and so there were certain expectations for their sophomore album. Would the group still have its big beats, loud MC-ing, guitars and Jam Master Jay on the wheels of steel? Would Run DMC still have that edgy sound? Or would they switch up their style and once again revolutionise the genre, like they did last time around?

At the time of release this album became a commercial hit but that doesn’t answer any of these questions.

After repeated listens I did manage to find some answers.

Rock The House, announces itself with the expected big beats, accompanied by subtle rhythmic patterns. The MCs introduce themselves while the sparse sound is impressive. This track sounds fresh.

King Of Rock is the title track and filled with big beats, guitars, rhyming and has a rock-sound that slightly awakens my inner head banger. This track sounds so righteous in the description Rock-Rap. As I’m writing this track is on repeat for the third time in a row. DMC brags “And I even make the devil sell me his soul” and makes it sound believeable. So far this album is pretty bad-ass and meets the expections one has of Run DMC. The urge to play air guitar on the ending of this track helps make it a guilty pleasure. Seriously, give me a guitar!

You Talk Too Much is the third track and kind of brings the momentum to a halt.

Peep the chorus:

You talk too much.
You never shut up.
You talk too much.
You never shut up.

Guess what this track is about? Seriously this poppy sounding rapping over a typical instrumental, dissing people who talk too much after Rock-Rap awesomeness is part of the album? I’d rather read an entire phonebook than ever listening to this one again, less boring and repetitive. Apparently the song was a success in the 1985, but so were glow-in-the-dark spandex pants. Jam-Master Jammin picks up the pace again. Beats and samples with rock guitars shredding, sounding more enjoyable. Some rhyming by Run and Daryll and all is all good again, for now at least.

Roots, Rap, Reggae follows the raw beat driven sound with relaxing beats and a positive message. Yes alcohol and drugs are dangerous. Tell me something I don’t know… Can You Rock It Like This starts off sounding very poppy. A synthesizer, guitar and drum machine support the MCs in a track that rants about fame and being in the public eye. Lyrically this track is very interesting. Added bonus, you can dance the robot to it! Instrumentally this track is remarkable. It sounds Pop, has a disco feel with a Rock edge and manages to be is both catchy and lyrically meaningful. I’m slightly stunned by the awesomeness

You’re Blind is a soft-rocker with raw beat driven sound. The title should warn you but basically Run and Daryll talk about how people on the wrong path of life are “blind”. The epitome of preachy on this album.

It’s Not Funny, follows. It’s basically about dealing with setbacks in daily life. A preachy and bland low point, yet not so bad that you can’t practice your street dancing moves to it, if you ask me. Jam Master Jay’s productions is quite comical though. At least the humour isn’t lost in the sample.

Daryll And Joe closes the album. It’s a good closer since the lyrics are less preachy and more down to earth than what comes before it. Daryll: “I’ve got more hats than the mad hatter”. Instrumentally “Daryll And Joe” is a slow jam, groovy with some exceptional samples that give an epic feel to the overall sound.

Jam Master Jay made something special of this track.

After a few listens the album grew on me, even if though it is a mixed bag. The first two tracks are great. Jam-Master Jammin up to “Can You Rock It Like This” are good listens too. You Talk Too Much is godawful.  The preaching continues with You’re Blind and It’s Not Funny and Daryll And Joe are a good closing round. Basically their sound hasn’t changed at all, Run and DMC are still loudmouths. And the when Jay summons guitars there is a pleasant rock edge present.

The lyrics are still mostly preaching nursery-rhyming and rapping, and sometimes the duo overdoes it to its own disadvantage bordering on self-parody. I get the Sesame Street feel with the childish You Talk Too Much which makes me understand why some people don’t take this old school trio serious as lyricists and call Run DMC ‘party’ rap. I tend to disagree because  Jam Master Jay’s skills behind the boards are taken out of the equation in that way, which should elevate the group to a higher status. He made some changes to his sound on this album: more variation in the samples, more intertwining rhythm patters, more layered cuts. If anything, I’m amazed by his skills on albums from almost thirty years back and it is mostly his show.

Best tracks
Rock The House
King Of Rock
Can You Rock It Like This
Daryll And Joe

Recommended
Considerably less good than the debut, still consistently listenable with some gems of stand-out tracks. Yes.

My regards,

Rura88

 


Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C.

Run-D.M.C.
Run-D.M.C.
March 27, 1984
Profile Records/ Arista Records/ SME

090/100
RUN DMC - RUN DMC

1. Hard Times // 2. Rock Box // 3. Jam-Master-Jay // 4. Hollis Crew (Krush-Groove 2) // 5. Sucker M.C.’s (Krush-Groove 1) // 6. It’s Like That // 7. Wake Up // 8. 30 Days // 9. Jay’s Game

Usually Bonkers writes about Hip Hop and Rap. Given He’s more into Ja Rule I’ll write about this iconic trio. Besides I wouldn’t want to trade with him. The Ja Rule/Murder Inc. stream of … was too much of a nuisance for my tastes even as a teen. Enough about that rubbish.

Run-D.M.C. consisted of Reverend Run a.k.a. Joey Simmons, D.M.C. a.k.a. Darryl McDaniels and Jam Master Jay a.k.a. Jason Mizell. Run’s brother Russell (Rick Rubin’s partner in founding Def Jam, early eighties) suggested Joey to work with a Darryl as partner MCs and after finishing high school Jason joined the two in 1982. Run DMC was complete and in 1983 It’s like that/Sucker M.C.’s saw the light of day. The first singles introduced a whole new sound to hip-hop. A RUN-D.M.C. song typically consisted of rapping over big sparse beats, minimal compositions, guitars shredding and Jam Master Jay showcasing his turntable skills. It was a total departure from the oversampled Soul and Disco driven sound best exemplified in Rappers Delight. Gone with the slick, in with the raw new sound. Run DMC’ new approach to Hip Hop influenced many contemporary rap artists, but it also had a cross-genre influence, felt also the Rock and Industrial scene. Skinny Puppy’s Pro-Test is a great example.

I press play and prepare, Hard Times, a Kurtis Blow cover, tells about financial hardship in daily life. The drum machine, effects and MCs become audible. A serious message in fresh rhymes and beats. Rock Box exemplifies all that made Run DMC awesome, inventing Rap-Rock with this one track . If you don’t cath my drift on how catchy this is understand: as I’m typing I have have a hard time supressing  the urge to play air guitar, on an old school Hip Hop track of all things. One could almost head bang to this eighties gem. I won’t even bother elaborating about the lyrics in my moment of utter enjoyment while I listen to some bragging over screaming guitars.

B-Boys and B-Girls of all nations gather, Jam-Master-Jay is Jam Master Jay exhibiting DJ his skills over breaks, beats and samples accompanied with some exemplary rhyming by Run and D.M.C. Hollis Crew continues with more break beats. What more can one say? One could even imagine Chuck Berry nodding his head to this. Given the MCs have great articulation while continuing their bragging, their dismissal of Sucker M.C.’s is justified. The breaks and samples sound somewhat repetitive but the lyrical flow is great. “You’ve got to know when to start when the beats commence”, the last line in this track says it all.

It’s Like That is included in its original incarnation, the one without the pumping beats. It’s basically a slower take on Hard Times. It’s the better track of the two, what with its “But it’s like that and that’s the way it is” chorus. The urgency of the lyrics gives it a timeless feel for the post eighties era. Musically Jam Master Jay is being quite adventurous on this track. Jam Master Jays reliance on the drum machine and only a few sample results in nicely layered parts and as well as very effective minimal parts on this one song. The usage of little soundbites interchanged with bass lines and big beats really makes this really enjoyable

Wake-Up is a smoother track about making the world a better place, with Jay again making the most of the instrumental with only a few samples and sound effects being used. His walls of sound with the snore in the background, early eighties ingenuity. 30 Days follows it as a danceable nod to the ladies with a wink to the Weather Sisters’ and the bragging continues. This is the most ‘poppy’ track on the album actually. But don’t be afraid that it’s downhill from there; Jay’s Game continues the Hip-Hop while the break beats enter your conscience leaving you no option but to bob your head to Jay’s crafty creation. No rapping here, just breaks and samples . I give in and move around on my chair while trying to type. (Needless to say I had to make a few corrections.)

There’s something that still requires some explanation. I didn’t really write about the lyrics and I already gave some hints. Run and DMC rhyme and brag their way through this album in their often playful yet preachy style. The lyrical content varies from ‘we’re better than thou’ to ‘listen to our message’ and repeats itself. Compared to the much smoother Melle Mel for instance Run and DMC come off as preachy, which can annoy at times. Still, it mostly works well with Jam Master Jay’s instrumentals and this album is a joy to listen to. There’s no real filler, with its nine tracks there isn’t any room for it on this album, therefore the best tracks section doesn’t indicate that the rest is bad. On the contrary every track on the album serves a purpose and sounds pretty good to say the least.

Best Tracks
Hard Times
Rock Box
Sucker M.C.’s
It’s Like That
Jay’s Game

Recommendations
RUN-D.M.C. is an important piece of Hip-Hop history. (If the alliteration isn’t confirmation enough of a recommendation I’ll be more exact.) Buy this album, or at least give it a good listen because this 1984 album still sounds fresh today and its influence is being felt today still.

My regards,

Rura88


Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Lykke Li
Wounded Rhymes
25 February 2011
LL Recordings/Warner Bros. Records/ WMG
080/100
Lykke Li Youth Novels

1.Youth Knows No Pain // 2. I Follow Rivers //  3. Love Out Of Lust // 4. Unrequited Love // 5. Get Some // 6. Rich Kids Blues // 7. Sadness Is A Blessing // 8. I Know Places // 9. Jerome // 10. Silent My Song

2011, the year of Lykke Li’s Zachrisson second album, is more than an uneven number, for Wounded Rhymes is very different from Youth Novels. Björn Yttling again teams up with Lykke Li and their gem of a single I Follow Rivers gives Lykke Li enormous exposure over TV and radio. Remix after remix follows of which The Magician version in some ways obscures the original single. I found the Magician’s Remix rather boomy sounding but more danceable. I guess ‘danceable’ sells much better…

Where Youth Novels mostly tells stories with a girly frailty Wounded Rhymes sounds rougher and more grown up. Youth Knows No Pain is pretty much a live-it-up-song inspired by being youthful. The intro though via subtle hints makes way for a bombastic rhythm driven yet melodiously interwoven track that sounds as if I imagined I travelled back at least 40 years in time. Nostalgia leads to the Doors, I dig that sound. That organ… Back to my senses I Follow Rivers is more dance oriented yet sounds more heavy than dance floor material. Beats pound, percussion patterns do a rhythmic dance while Lykke Li sings a bit lower with her voice sounding a bit more raspy. This song works with its intriguing lyrics about clinging to her lover while the rhythms move you and induce curiosity melodiously accompanied by that organ again until the echoes lure you to Love Out Of Lust.

Love Out Of Lust continues the adventure of I Follow Rivers with a call to celebrate love via dancing. The lover vocals work miracles with the overall production of this track. Peter Bjorn and John’s Björn Yttling gives you a gentle wall of sound with whistle tones, echoes, slow grooves and rhythms that carry a vibe that is perfectly described by the lyrics. Unrequited Love bursts the bubble though. A foot taps, an electric guitar plays and the raspy sounding voice is being backed up by the choir in an acoustic song. Unanswered love makes way for lust and dominance. Bombastic beats and rhythm patterns pull you in while the electronic groove pulls you into Get Some while I can’t sit still. This is real dance floor material with a sixties vibe. The overall production again is worth of a attentive listen. Björn Ytlling’s musical approach is a pleasure inducing the listener into repeat listens.

Rich Kids Blues continues the sixties sound with an organ driven song. As the song becomes more bombastic the rock sound becomes more apparent while Lykke Li sings about being in her rich kid bubble. The bubble bursts again as the slow Sadness Is A Blessing becomes audible. “My wounded rhymes make silent cries tonight”, which provides this album a title, is the first line of this song and as the song progresses the bombastic productions gives this song and extra dimension. Counting the layers is almost mandatory. Oh yes the lover is gone again, back to being a single. Sadness leads to I Know Places. It’s an acoustic song about shelter and comfort. The feeling of a small tear tells me enough.

The slow fade out leads to Jerome. Possessive desire for Jerome is found. As the song becomes more bombastic and more layers become distinguishable while the screams increase. “You’ve got me for nothing Jerome” should be enough of a clue. Silent My Song continues the plot as the bombastic instrumentals emphasize the intensity of the emotions expressed in the lyrics. Intense pleasure and pain silent the song. This track is quite the closer.

As you might have noticed this album is different from the first album. Lykke Li sings with a lower and more raspy voice increasing her reach. The lyrical content is more grown up and the instrumentals induce nostalgia with the typical organs and the bombastic wall of sound from several decades ago. The Doors, Kate Bush and many other names come to mind with this album.

Best Tracks
Unrequited Love
Get Some
I Know Places
Silent My Song

Recommendations
If you liked Youth Novels get this album. Whether you liked the debut or not this album is at least worth a listen. This album is an adventure and the production sounds super amazing, especially through a good sound system.

My regards,

Rura88


Lykke Li – Youth Novels

Lykke Li
Youth Novels
30 January, 2008
LL Recordings/Warner Bros. RecordsWMG
090/100
Lykke Li - Youth Novels

1.Melodies&Desires // 2.Dance, Dance, Dance // 3.I’m Good I ‘m Gone // 4.Let It Fall // 5.My Love // 6.Tonight // 7.Little Bit // 8.Hanging High // 9.This Trumpet In My Head // 10.Complaint Department // 11.Breaking It Up // 12.Everybody But Me // 13.Time Flies // 14.Window Blues

2008 is the year of this album. Before Lykke Li Zachrisson became popular she was already busy in the early 2k years on Myspace. Björn Yttling also producer of Peter, Bjorn and John started working with Lykke Li and her songs combined with Björn’s quirky dance sound found ears on Swedish MTV. In 2007 the LP Little Bit gained popularity and after TV-appearances on MTV her first album saw the light. Sales figures? I don’t know but but apparently they were good enough for a second album to be released in 2011. The live footage of her acoustic performances is enough of an indication of her success for me…

The first track is a spoken word composition with melody driven sounds. There is a romantic influence which reminds me of Yann Tiersen and Eric Satie. I will not explain too much given the title says it all, Melodies & Desires. Dance, Dance, Dance picks up the pace gently with a quirky song about, how obvious, dancing. The context of the lyrics though is more playful than the title indicates. I’m Good I’m Gone is one of the best Pop tracks I have heard in ages. The arrangements are poppy but the vocals and lyrics sound very original. This track in particular brings me back to the better stand-up-for-yourself-Soul.

Let It Fall is slower and more stripped of instruments and a girlish song about expressing oneself. From tears to love My Love makes its entrance and more frail and girlish vocals enter my ears. The song is quite lovely and the lyrics tell about a girl waiting for her love. Tonight is a childishly romantic guilty pleasure that can be explained by this line: “Don’t you let me go, let me go tonight…” The instrumentals, stripped yet clear are very effective.

Little Bit picks up the pace again. The electronic groove is more present. This song is a little gem with lyrics about ‘little’ relations. Girlish vocals with mature lyrics. Hanging High sounds like a sweet cross-breed between Pop and Country with a slow pace and a present piano. Lyrically it is about needing comfort in a manner vague and clear at the same time . This Trumpet In My Head is a short intermezzo starting with an acoustic guitar ending with a trumpet in your head making way for Complaint Department. The song is about disappointment with a darker electronic undertone yet the effective arrangements still sound bare. Basically a “shit happens” song and quite a good one at that.

Breaking It Up starts noisy and continues as an Indie Pop song with bare arrangements and the frail and girlish vocals. I almost get the sense that here vocals reach a limit here but it works for the song. Even the back-up choir sound stressed to the limit. Everybody But Me is a slower song, more electronic about not feeling at ease and not wanting anything. Time Flies follows and lets you hear Lykke Li on the tops of her voice with predominantly the piano to guide the song. The frailty of her voice and the romantic lyrics combined are very effective. Window Blues closes the album. It is a bluesy song about keeping your loved one close. The undertone is heavy, melancholic and the vocals sound more nasal yet determined. The Youth Novels end here…

Youth Novels takes you down a trip of love affairs, life and disappoint to come back at the bluesy side of it. The instrumentals rarely sound too loud and the bare compositions don’t give me the feeling I am missing out on anything. The vocals are remarkably effective and work with the album even if Lykke Li doesn’t have the reach of Alicia Keys. Besides that the lyrics are sometimes so well thought out that I can only admire the song craft of this album.

Best Tracks
Dance, Dance, Dance
I’m Good I’m Gone
Little Bit
Complaint Department
Window Blues

Recommendations
This album has become a favourite of mine. In my opinion there is no real filler on this album, just good music for people who want to try something different which is still within the pop-genre. I recommend this album, which is particularly pleasant to listen to on a good sound system. The musical arrangements are a pleasure…

My regards,

Rura88