Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Old Albums Revisited

After my recent move, I was struck by how much stuff I own. Most of it was in storage and I hadn't seen it in a while. I had books, comic books, cassettes, and personal items that I had long since forgotten about. As I packed I began to pour over old year books, cherry picking graphic novels (like The Killing Joke and Batman: Year One) and cassettes. I found old photos of my friends from when we younger. It was a pretty nostalgic affair. Back in the apartment, I began to organise my everyday items, including a CD case that hold 200 of my CDs. Looking through the case I came to realise that the stuff in the storage room weren't my only belongings I hadn't gone through in recent memory.
I love music, if that wasn't apparent from my blog. I like making new discoveries in music, checking out new styles and different artists. However, in front of me were over a hundred and fiftey CDs that I hadn't listened to in quite a while. Some albums you just can't go back to, they had their day at some point and the expiration date has long since past. Other albums just need more time before they can be appreciated again. Portishead's first album is like this for me. I still like their music, but I'm not in the right frame of mind to listen to them right now. Some albums are perfect for the moment.
The first album I popped on was Tricky's Nearly God, a moody opus that includes the talents of Bjork, Martina Topley-Bird, and Terry Hall. (ex-Specials frontman) Last time I played this album would have been at the club I DJ'd at in Montreal, the Jupiter Room on St. Laurent. It is a very stilted kind of album, consistent in mood and tone, but a little inconsistent stylistically. But that is what makes it such a brilliant album. With some exceptions, albums that just present the same thing all the way through will loose me somewhere along the way. Couple of tracks that tend to lag a bit, but overall the album just slips under the listener's skin and stays there.
The third album I popped on was Mogwai's Happy Music for Happy People. It was released in 2003 and I was initially smitten with the album. The opener, "Hunted By A Freak", is a hauntingly beautiful piece that builds gently and dramatically. After seeing the band perform at the Commodore, (an excellent show, by the way) the album started to loose my attention. Soon I was only listening to to "...Freak" and the sixth track, "Ratts in the Capital". (which is very much like what you will find on their My Father, My King ep) I probably stopped listening to it altogether around November `03. It has been good to rediscover this album again. Songs like "Kids Will Be Skeletons", "Killing All The Flies", "Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep" and "I Know You Are But What Am I?" have taken on a whole new life in their absence from my ears. The beauty and well... majesty of this album absolutely astounds me. Mogwai's songs/compositions are dynamic in every sense - volume, tone, tempo, etc.
The next disc was one I bought back in 1993, Matthew Sweet's Altered Beast. I may not have listened to this since about 2000. Often given a bit of a short shrift and perhaps unfairly compared to his previous album, Girlfriend. That album was a a kind of underground pop/ college radio hit from what I can remember. Girlfriend, as I recall, was very consistent musically and emotionally. Altered Beast was a bit more of an untamed effort, if you'll excuse the pun. Although they appeared on Girlfriend, guitarists Richard Lloyd (Television) and Robert Quine (now deceased. Played with Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Dim Stars and did session work for Lou Reed, John Zorn, Brian Eno and Tom Waits) they really gave Altered Beast the raw edginess that seemed to have dulled the enthusiasm of so many critics. Part pop, part rock, part alt country ...Beast still holds up 12 years after its release. I was listening to it with my friend Elijah and we both agreed that it has aged well and still sound contemporary. Given how poorly some of the albums I bought at the same time have aged, that is quite an accomplishment.
That is it for now. I am tired and must sleep soon. I may post more on some of the albums that I have rediscovered in my collection. I probably won't be ripping anything apart, though. (sorry Trent) I figure that I have done that enough in my past, so it is time to move on.
And yes, I did listen to the above albums while writing this.

11 Comments:

Anonymous trent said...

Goes to show you the difference between us. You say an album bought in 2003 is old...for me, up here in no man's land, an album that is only two and a half year's old is still nearly brand new. And without the influence of

Help. I've fallen into a cultural black hole, and I can't get out!

16 August, 2005 16:48  
Blogger Magnus said...

Without the influence of...? Trent, notify me when you are down next, perhaps we can rectify your musical situation to some degree.
BTW, log on to Ken's site, he has the Redside files up. Doug (who is living in Mission these days) has been doing some cleaning up of the files. He needs a DAT machine in order to do a full and proper job of it though.
Listening to the CD he gave me actually. Memories.
As for the age of an album, guess it has to do with frequency of listens. I listened to the Mogwai album fairly consistently and then it just dropped off my radar. When i impact on me as to just how good an album it really is.
The other album I am nostalgic for is King's X 'Gretchen Goes to Nebraska'. (which I only had on cassette) I also want to get the entirety of GC's catalogue.

16 August, 2005 17:03  
Anonymous Odorono said...

I remember Altered Beast. It was a pretty good album, but I liked the next album 100% Fun better.

16 August, 2005 17:54  
Anonymous trent said...

I need to track down Feel the Rage, and then I have the bunch. I only have SIYF on cassette, though, which means I don't have the two hidden tracks.

I sent you a link to Ty Tabor's space at myspace. Kind of a online meeting place for musicians and groupies. Anyway. He has a new KX song up. Still not sure what to think about it.

All the Cowboys have side projects on the go, but none as viable as the cowboys. Sigh.

16 August, 2005 22:03  
Anonymous Ally said...

Stumbled onto this blog surfing through the other blogs.
I never got the appeal of King's X. My brother and his friends loved their music, so maybe it's a guy thing. But I love Mogwai! Rock Action and Happy Songs are so perfect. I met my husband at one of their shows. "Hunted by a Freak" melts me everytime!

17 August, 2005 01:46  
Blogger Magnus said...

Wow, my blog was just spammed by some piece of crap. Why bother? I deleted the message.

18 August, 2005 02:04  
Blogger Magnus said...

Hi Ally,
Lots of people never got King's X. They were kind of an anomaly when they came on the scene - very hard to classify. My guess is that your brother and his friends are musicians.
Mogwai are very good live. At the show I was at they played "Ratts in the Capitol" AND "My Father, My King" so I was very happy.

21 August, 2005 03:10  
Blogger Geosomin said...

As a fan of som e of Kings X I have to say it sounds funny to say that "oh-if he liked it he was probably a musician".
Do us non-musicians get a chance to like them?
*grin*

21 August, 2005 15:09  
Blogger Magnus said...

Notice you said said a fan of *some* King's X. ;)
It was generalization, I know. I know musicians who can't stand King's X. BUt only Ally can clarify this one, if she ever reposts to my blog. Um... Ally?

That said I urge you all to check out Audio Learning Center. Chris Brady from Pond is in this one and the CD is really quite good, despite being on the Vagrant label.

22 August, 2005 11:28  
Anonymous ally said...

My brother played clarinet in school, but hated it and quite as soons as he graduated. Some of his friends were muscians, though.
Why is there this enter-a-word thingy at the bottom?

23 August, 2005 01:27  
Blogger Magnus said...

The word verification is to try and block spam/splog bots from placing inappropriate messages in a person's blog.

24 August, 2005 00:05  

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