Endless Loop: I’m That Type of Guy

llcooljHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“I’m That Type of Guy” by LL Cool J

The Joup Friday Album/ The Avalanches: Since I Left You

An aquatic scene depicts three rubber rafts with about ten people in each. The water has white crested waves. The left raft is separated from the leading two by a chest high wave. A person stands in the right raft and is facing back to the last one with an arm raised. The band's name is written in white letters near the bottom with the album's title below it; both use the same block capital script.    One of the most joyous records of all time? I’m hard pressed to say I’ve heard a record that inspires as much joy in a listener as The Avalanches first and only record Since I Left You. Sounding all at once retro and like the future, this record is the musical equivalent of one’s proverbial happy place. For those of who have never heard of The Avalanches they are a group based out of Australia spearheaded by producers Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann. Stylistically they can be categorized as electronic music, dance pop or more specifically plunderphonics, a sub genre in electronic music that relies heavily on the use of samples for its source material.

Endless Loop: Kickstart My Heart

motleycrueHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Kickstart My Heart” by Mötley Crüe

The Joup Friday Album: The Cure – The Head on the Door

Head on the doorThe Christmas when I was 13, my elder siblings decided enough was enough. It was time for me to stop listening to Madonna and Whitney Houston and whatever else Top 40 radio was serving up in late 1986. It was time for me to start listening to “real music” like they did. And to that end, I was gifted with three cassettes that I’ve come to think of as the Holy Trinity, the albums that informed the musical taste I’d hone for the rest of my life. I spent all of eighth grade poring over these albums, memorizing every lyric, relishing how my burgeoning gothiness discomfited my Catholic school teachers and classmates.
I’ll probably get to the other members of the Holy Trinity in later reviews, but for now let’s talk about the one that was most important to me at the time – The Head on the Door by the Cure. Though I would have claimed back then that every song on this album was a flawless gem, each song perfect in its own way, the truth is that even back then there were songs I fast-forwarded through a lot more often than others. Assessing it now with old lady ears, the songs seem to fall into three categories: those I still adore with every ounce of my being, those that get a “meh” of varying magnitude, and those that make me want to slap my former self for being such a miserable little goth.
I wish everyone could spend a day as a teenage goth girl and feel the joy of swirling your long black skirt around yourself as you spin and twirl to “In Between Days.” Who cares if the lyrics are about lost love – who can resist those jangling guitars and calliope keyboards? Then you fast forward through “Kyoto Song” and keep on dancing to the flamenco guitar of “The Blood.”
Though you can’t necessarily dance to it, “Six Different Ways” is still cheerful and optimistic of tune if not lyrics. It sounds cut from the same cloth as “Close to Me” a bit later in the album. In giving it a studied listen for this review, I’m a little bummed it never occurred to me to place “Close to Me” in the running for first dance at my wedding.  The pretty little flute lilt, the xylophone driven melody, the hand claps – all complement the nervous excitement of the lyrics.
These days the dance beat and big bass of “Screw” remind me a bit of Gang of Four, a band I’d not yet discovered back in the day when this album was my everything. Back then, I just giggled like the silly adolescent girl I was at a song titled “Screw.” “Push” has a huge, epic sound, all ringing guitars and shouted vocals, that’s almost U2-esque, and I don’t mean that as even a little bit of an insult. “A Night Like This” comes across a little INXS-ish, like a deep cut from side 2 of Listen Like Thieves, and I do mean that as a bit of an insult. Just a straight forward, guitar-driven rock song of the 80s that does nothing particularly interesting. If I’d never heard it, and today someone told me that the Cure had a song with a disco guitar riff and a drum machine, I’d strap on my dancing shoes and get ready to be impressed. If what I got was “The Baby Screams,” I’d be sorely disappointed.
I suppose I’ve always been kind of a lousy Cure fan since I am far more partial to their upbeat songs than the slow, moody  dirges. “Kyoto Song’s” Japanese tinkle laid over a funereal beat is the perfect soundtrack for the world’s most boring opium den. The album ends not with a bang but a whimper in the form of “Sinking,” one of those songs best suited for driving home on a rainy night after something that was supposed to be fun but ended up depressing, like a hockey game where a guy gets Malarchuked by a skate, or a Rob Schneider movie.
Though I’ve always had a hallowed place in my memory for this album, I found it mostly unlistenable in my late teens and early twenties, as I scorned all that I thought was cool as an early teen. These days, I think I give it a pretty fair shake – that scorn tempered by middle-aged nostalgia. I’ve recaptured the joy of the truly joyful songs, while being willing to admit that the clunkers clunk. I probably wouldn’t have said so ten or fifteen years ago, the happiness this album has brought me over the course of 30 years of intense music fandom earns it a spot in my all-time top ten.

Endless Loop: Bizarre Love Triangle

neworderHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order

The Joup Friday Album: David Bowie – Reality

realityIt has been just over a month. A month since I woke up at 4:15 AM on a Monday and saw a text from a friend that said, “Dude, David Bowie just died”.

My friend had sent that text at 11:35 PM the night before. She had no doubt been grinding away hours on the late shift at the hospital where she works, maybe a slow night for intakes, probably surfing the internet on her phone when she happened upon the news just about the time it hit the AP wire. I saw it a few hours later in the daze of a Monday morning; still dark out, cold and unprepared for the work week let alone news that big.

Basement Dwelling// Diiv: Is The Is Are

Heroin: For such a horrible substance, a lot of great art has been influenced by it. The Velvet Underground wrote a song about it (“Heroin”) The Flaming Lips made their best record under the influence of it (The Soft Bulletin) Acclaimed books which have been translated to acclaimed movies have been made about it (Trainspotting) Diiv’s new record Is The Is Are is a record about you guessed it… heroin addiction. Created in light of the arrest of Zachary Cole Smith and his girlfriend Sky Ferreira for drug possession Is The Is Are is a 17 track concept record that documents addiction in Diiv’s hazy white washed indie rock sound which in this context creates a literal soundscape to being strung out on smack. It’s a grim listen, but a highly rewarding one from an indie act that had a lot riding and a lot to prove with this album

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