Amazing Albums

Must Own Albums: Depeche Mode- Violator

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The date is March 19, 1990 and Depeche Mode have just unleashed the masterpiece Violator on the world. This album propelled the band into international notoriety and helped to usher in a new wave of alternative music. I also remember my dad buying me the cassette of Violator when I was 6 and I couldn’t stop listening to it. It’s pretty amazing how much my parents helped to keep my love of music growing since I was a wee lad.

Depeche Mode’s Violator, though only 9 songs, is deep and without compromise. Each song has a genuine purpose of being on the album and you get a genuine sense of “feeling” from every single one. Everyone knows “Personal Jesus,” “Enjoy The Silence,” and “Policy of Truth” but the real gems are the deep cuts on the album. “World In My Eyes,” “Halo” (which is my favorite song on the album), and “Clean” are a trifecta of artistic expression. “Sweetest Perfection” and “Waiting For The Night” are two of the best songs on the album along with “Halo.” Sorry but, I really think “Halo” is one of their best songs ever. The one song that I was never too keen on as a stand alone song “Blue Dress” is quite a dark song. The way it fits right after “Policy Of Truth” is truly remarkable.

The oozing of sexuality and darkness through the entire album is captivating and sophisticating. Martin Gore proved on Violator that he is a force to be reckoned with as a songwriter. Dave Gahan’s voice and conviction singing the words of Gore, makes it seem as though he wrote them himself. Not to mention the production by Mark “Flood” Ellis, (who you might know from his work with U2, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey and The Smashing Pumpkins) which really accentuated the use of synthesizers, live drums, drum machines, and guitars. His knack for getting the best tones for the songs and albums is absolutely remarkable.

Violator stands out in the bands catalog for not only being the most successful but the one that some believe to be their peak of creativity. Personally, I love that the band has been able to keep on their legacy of creating new music and albums that still carry the torch for the band. Since the 25 years since the release of Violator, Depeche Mode has gone on to release 7 more albums and continue to sell out venues all around the world. The magnitude of influence the band has left over the years is insurmountable.

 

Depeche Mode- Violator:

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Must Own Albums: Oathbreaker- Rheia

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2016 was a tremendous year for great albums. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts and I stick to my thought, I honestly think that in about 10 years 2016 is going to be a very highly regarded year for music just as, 1994 was (not as poignant obviously). There is one album that I really want to point out as amazing, inspiring, emotional, and most importantly a masterpiece. I’m talking about Oathbreaker‘s album RHEIA. Since I first heard this album I can’t turn it off. It’s on constant repeat. Everything from the music, its depth, production, tones,  depth, artwork, lyrics,  and performances, especially that of singer/lyricist Caro Tanghe are incredible. I love the whole thing keep finding new things about the album that make me love it even more.

Every song on the album leaves you breathless. Rheia is more than just a masterpiece, it’s a genre defining album, that will inspire a slew of new bands. Taking black metal and mixing it with shoegaze (on a side note, I’ve always hated that term), Oathbreaker takes it further by their added sense of post hardcore, ambience, and acoustic sensibilities. This band emits a sense of honesty and ferocious tenacity that I haven’t heard in many years. Each members every emotion is worn on their sleeves as they deliver performances that will send chills up your spine.

I would go song by song but, I really want you all to hear this album from start to finish, and then we can talk. You have to listen to it. Rheia is an album that has the depth musically and lyrically that makes you remember why music is so powerful. I believe that music saves lives, and this album is one of those. Not only that but, when you listen, you feel it all too. The lyrics are beautifully poetic, dark, and intense. They are also some of the most personal and heartfelt words I’ve heard in a very long time. Caro Tanghe is a revelation as a writer and vocalist. The music is stunningly charasmatic along with heavy and pummeling. The beats of drummer Wim Coppers (and Ivo Debrabandere) help to really accentuate your heartstrings as Caro sings and screams, all the while guitarists (and bassists) Lennart Bossu and Gilles Demolder come at you with an attack of devastation and new life, through the use of their instruments.

Rheia is the true ALBUM OF THE YEAR for 2016. Transcending genres as well as setting the bar for their peers is remarkable. While this may not be for everyone, give this an honest shot. Read the words, and wrap yourselves up in what a masterpiece this album is. I thank you for listening and taking the time to do something for the love of great music that needs to be heard.

I present to you, Oathbreaker’s Rheia:

 

 

Or streaming on YouTube:

 

 

The Videos:

10:56/Second Son of R:

 

Immortals:

 

The Audiotree Session:

 

TOUR DATES:

 

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Amazing Albums: Prodigy- The Fat Of The Land

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The year is 1997 and the landscape of music is moving in a strange direction. Anytime there is a cosmic change in music there are a handful of albums that come out that really point the direction of things to come. One of those albums in particular is the absolute great album The Fat Of The Land by Prodigy. When it was released it debuted at number one in the US on the billboard charts on the heels of breakout singles like “Firestarter,” “Breathe,” and the controversial “Smack My Bitch Up,” which to this day still has one of the coolest music videos ever. This album did a lot for music at the time. The Fat Of The Land has a more rock oriented sound, thus bringing the electronic and rock worlds together. Prodigy’s producer and main songwriter Liam Howlett was all about the group evolving their sound and creating something substantial. Here’s a fun fact Liam Howlett was only 24 years old when he made The Fat Of The Land.

The album contains 10 of the most fiery “dance” tracks ever, as each track has a real purpose and identity on the album. From the more rock tinged songs, to hip hop, and straight up electronic songs, it all works and flows perfectly. Besides the three main singles that everyone knows, other tracks on the record really stand out. The Beastie Boys sampled “Funky Shit” is one of the most danceable tracks on the record, providing the classic sound that The Prodigy is known for. “Serial Thrilla,” is still one of my favorite cuts off the album. It’s super heavy with a great riff to drive the beat. “Mindfields” is another that has some really intriguing electronics. There are a few trip hop moments in the song adding some psychedelia, which can also be heard in the epic “Climbatize.”

I remember hearing this album for the first time, and I was blown away by it. This album really mixes the “rock flair” with electronica so well. It’s often been copied and duplicated but it will never be matched. With a band like The Prodigy, once you release a game changing album like The Fat Of The Land, where do you go from there? After the release and touring cycle, the band took a five year break and returned with new music that was quite underwhelming as well as their subsequent albums. Their last album 2015’s The Day Is My Enemy, had some tracks on it that has some of the same passion as The Fat Of The Land, hopefully fueling some inspiration for the group to return with some great new music. 

 

The Fat Of The Land:

 

Smack My Bitch Up:


Breathe:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must Own Albums: INXS- Kick

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I remember being 4 years old, watching MTV and seeing the video for “Need You Tonight.” My first thought was I have to have a jacket like the one Michael Hutchence had. Second was this song is great and I need to hear more. So like any good parent would do, mine took me to go get INXS Kick. I was hooked. The album and band was one of my favorites growing up. I can still remember all the videos that aired. Of course I was young and was very focused just on those songs, but as I got older and really listened to the album, I realized how good it truly was. Besides “Devil Inside,” “Need You Tonight,” “New Sensation,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” songs like “Mystify,” “Kick,” “Wild Life” and “Tiny Daggers” are exceptional songs that help to make this album a classic.  Michael Hutchence had a voice that was raspy and filled with sensuality that radiated all over the songs. He had a style all his own making him one of the most enigmatic frontmen of the time. Interestingly enough this album was almost not released. When the band turned it into their record company, they hated it. So much so that they offered the band a million dollars to go back and come up with something else. Another point of interest about Kick, is that it was produced by Chris Thomas. Thomas was the guy behind the boards for the Sex Pistols album Never Mind The Bullocks.

INXS’s Kick is one of those timeless albums that stretches beyond just the 80’s. The legacy of the band continues on long after Michael’s death in 1997. They even tried a resurgence in the 2000’s with the TV show contest Rock Star: INXS. Michael Hutchence is one of those frontmen that is just irreplaceable. The band themselves have a tremendous catalog that they can be proud of. Kick is the highlight sure, but there are some other greats out there from them that deserve the attention.

 

INXS- KICK:

Amazing Albums: Massive Attack- Mezzanine

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I remember the day I bought Massive Attack’s Mezzanine very clearly. I was at Tower records and was browsing through the aisles and came across this very peculiar cover. It looked like one of the bugs from Starship Troopers. Needless to say, this made me curious as to what this could be. So I took it up to the counter and the guy working told me I made a wise choice. And what a choice I made. Mezzanine is an album that expands the dark undercurrents which had always been present in Massive Attack with textured and darker tones that features abstract and ambient sounds.Subtly drenched among the songs, lies deep influences of The Velvet Underground, The Cure and hints of John Bonham’s ferocious drumming. On an interesting note, and I think this helps to play into the darker vibe of the album, is that while making this album there was quite a lot of tension in the group causing one founding member to leave after the album was completed.

The album begins with a brilliant one, two, three, four, five punch of the songs “Angel,” “Risingson,” “Teardrop,” and “Inertia Creeps,” and “Exchange.” As the album moves on from that point it takes a step back into the darker corner. First with the dramatic “Dissolved Girl,” and then with “Man Next Door,” which features primitive beats, a catchy melody and soulful singing. As the album continues, the psychedelic atmospheric vibe continues to guide the songs through to the end.

There is something truly hypnotic about the way the album flows. Mezzanine is one of the best albums to come out in the last 20 years. It’s also an album that belongs in every music fans collection. So if it’s been a while or you’ve never heard Mezzanine, take the time to get acquainted with it, you’ll thank me later.

 

Massive Attack- Mezzanine:

 

 

Amazing Albums: Fiona Apple- Tidal

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2016 will mark 20 years since Fiona Apple’s debut album Tidal was released. Recently I was compelled to take a listen back to this angsty masterpiece. This album is one of the most profound albums of the 1990’s and it is drenched in sensuality, danger and depression all in a good way. Songs like “Criminal,” “Shadowboxer,” “Sleep To Dream,” “Slow Like Honey,” “The First Taste,” and “Never Is A Promise,” have long been stellar tracks on this album. Fiona’s voice shows so much vulnerability and despair, it’s no wonder she was able to connect with so many people that listened to her. There is so many adjectives to describe her and this album. Instead of me going on and on, I’ll stop and let you all take a listen to Tidal and you can soak it all in!

Fiona Apple- Tidal:

Amazing Must Own Albums: With Our Arms To The Sun- A Far Away Wonder

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When I first heard With Our Arms To The Sun, I was completely taken aback. The way this band captivated me was astounding. The gents in this band have such passion and skill it bleeds all over this masterful piece of music. There is a true artistic approach to what With Our Arms To The Sun create. They make music for all the right reasons. i’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live and I can tell you their live shows are one hell of an experience. Their album A Far Away Wonder was released last year, and has not left my rotation of albums I listen to. From the start of the album the songs build and explode with great prowess and intensity. There are elements of prog rock, metal, psychedelia and lots of melody throughout the album. Interspersed through the mainly instrumental album are bits of vocals, that add another dimension to the already impressiveness of the record. Every song on this album is in the right order is meant to be there. There is not one ounce of filler on it. Recently, With Our Arms signed to Fade To Silence records and are gearing up to re-release the album as well as preparing for multiple shows including a halloween show with Tool. With Our Arms To The Sun are a transcendent bright spot in a world that is lacking honesty and realism. Do yourself a favor and listen to this and buy it. You won’t be disappointed!!!

With Our Arms To The Sun- A Far Away Wonder:

http://www.withourarmstothesun.com/

https://www.facebook.com/WithOurArmsToTheSun