joshthevegan: (Bassy)

Siamese Dream is, without question, the album that changed my life more dramatically than any other. I had been interested in music my whole life (I grew up listening to the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel with my dad, and I was introduced to Pearl Jam and the early works of the Red Hot Chili Peppers by my peers in the very early '90's), but when Siamese Dream was lent to me by a friend, I had no idea what I was in store for. Hearing the fuzzy guitars and outsider lyrics found on this album awoke in me the ravenous appetite for rock music that I still have today.

I had actually never heard any of the songs from the album before I placed it in my stereo. As I recall, "Cherub Rock" was the only single out at the time, and I hadn't even heard that yet. My friend purchased the album, and knew that I had to hear it, and so he brought his copy in to school so I could take it home and record a copy. I'm glad that I experienced Siamese Dream with no preconceptions that first time, it allowed me to create my own opinions about each song in the context of the album. I immediately fell in love with each and every track, and it took several listens for me to decide which were the ones I would list as my favorites (a list that has changed continuously since then, a testament to the fact that there is no filler on this album).

The range from soft, tender ballads to psychadelic rockers all with unashamedly romantic lyrics is so brilliantly executed, that there is rarely a time when I will not be in the mood to hear at least a few of the songs on this album. All music I have heard since then has been compared to Siamese Dream, whether consciously or unconsciously. It is, simply, the best album I've ever heard, and I can't imagine another one outdoing it any time soon.
joshthevegan: (Hank)

Henry Garfield (Rollins' birth name) was a big fan of punk rock, and really wanted to be involved in the scene in his hometown of Washington, D.C. He had been working as a roadie for his friend, Ian MacKaye's band, the Teen Idles when he met H.R., the lead singer of Bad Brains. H.R., upon meeting Henry, told the young man that he should become a singer. Rollins was so affected by this meeting, that he did just what was suggested; he started performing with the group State Of Alert (S.O.A.) They released one E.P. on MacKaye's Dischord Records, and gained some local fame.

Henry's favorite band was Los Angeles-based Black Flag. He had all the releases (including compilation appearances) that the band had issued, and knew them inside out. When he found out Black Flag was going to be performing in NYC, he knew that he simply HAD to go see them, even though it was such a long drive, and he had to be at work early the next day.

MacKaye and Rollins took the trip up to New York, and were blown away by the show. At the end of the set, (then lead-singer) Dez Cadena announced that the band was doing a second gig that same night at a location in another part of the city. The two followed the band to the second gig, despite the fact that Henry was going to have to leave directly from the set to go to work (no time to sleep.) At this second set, Rollins shouted for the band to play "Clocked In," a song about going to work. They played the song for him, and even invited him to jump on stage and sing the song with them. After he sang the song, he thanked the band and took the trip back home.

Unbeknownst to Rollins, Dez had been having conversations with (lead guitarist/songwriter) Greg Ginn regarding the fact that he wanted to retire as singer and move exclusively to guitar, as this was his intended role when joining the band. Henry's performance so impressed Ginn, that the band stayed a bit longer in New York, and got in touch with Henry. They wanted him to come up to the City and audition as singer for Black Flag. Suddenly a young man from the other side of the country was the fourth official singer for Black Flag.

Henry moved out to California with the band and was taught all of the songs they had in their roster to this point. After an aborted attempt at a Rise Above E.P., the band headed into the studio to record Damaged.

The raw emotion found here is explosive. The guitar playing is spastic and chaotic, yet technical and absolutely mind-boggling. Henry's vocal interpretation of Ginn & Dukowski's lyrics is seriously flooring. The angst and despair in his performance ranges from awe-inducing to down right scary.

Damaged (like many of Black Flag's albums) definitely takes advantage of the two sides of the LP to deliver different moods. The first half of this album is full of the more famous/classic songs with a lighter mood ("Six Pack", "TV Party"), however the flipside is where the real heart of the album resides.

The second side of this LP is one of the darkest and heaviest expressions of pain and isolation ever recorded. From the moment Rollins gasps into the microphone at the beginning of "Depression" until he shouts "Stay out!" at the end of "Damaged I", the rage-filled anguish simply roars from the speakers.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

2002's The Process of Belief is a landmark album for the legendary Bad Religion for several reasons. It marks the return of guitarist/songwriter "Mr." Brett Gurewitz (one of the founders of the band), as well as their return to Epitaph Records (the label owned by Gurewitz). It is also the first album to feature their current drummer, Brooks Wackerman (formerly of Suicidal Tendencies), whose presence certainly influenced the band's stylistic return to the speedy, melodic hardcore that they became famous for in the late '80's.

As exciting as all of this was for their fans, it wouldn't have mattered at all, if the songs hadn't been as amazing as they are. The raw power of "Supersonic", the intelligently stated political stance of "Kyoto Now!", the sheer intensity of "The Defense", and the fan favorite "Sorrow" are just a few of the facets of this masterpiece that continues to shine, even almost ten years later.

This album is also a personal landmark for me; it was the album that got me interested in punk rock again. I had lost interest in the genre in the late '90's, as bands like Blink-182 and Sum-41 (not to mention the countless neo-emo acts from that time) rose to popularity. My disillusion might have remained, too, had I never heard "Sorrow" on the DVD portion of Fat Wreck Chords' Rock Against Bush Vol. 1. That song (and eventually the entire album) single handedly got me back listening to the music I grew up with, and convinced me that Bad Religion is simply the greatest rock band of all times.

Rock For Light was the second, and final, album that Bad Brains recorded before they broke up for the first time in 1983. Many of the songs from their highly-accliamed self-titled debut are re-recorded here, but this time around Ric Ocasek adds his production expertise to the mix, so the songs sound crisper and clearer, without losing their explosive edge.

The other aspect that gives Rock For Light a slight edge on Bad Brains is that the reggae tracks that are sprinkled throught are more maturely written and expertly performed. The dichotomy between Bad Brains' heavier music and their restrained reggae compositions is one of the cornerstones of their mystique, and Rock for Light is the album where they achieved true excellence at both.

The extent of Bad Brains' influence on future musicians is staggering. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Minor Threat, Smashing Pumpkins, Jesse Malin, 311, and Nirvana are just a few of the bands that cite Bad Brains as having a major impact on their musical careers. Most of those artists point to Bad Brains period playing hardcore punk as the best in the band's catalog, and I'd have to agree. The absolute eruption of unity, resistance, and positive thinking (PMA as they call it) on songs like "Banned in DC" and "Attitude" contrasted with the soulful gospel of songs like "The Meek" is make the early works of Bad Brains (and Rock for Light in particular) some of the most important music ever written on the east coast of the United States.
joshthevegan: (Bassy)

This album was a serious phenomenon in the Lehigh Valley at the time of its release. Kids from all walks of life suddenly became aware of Weston, not just the punks who had been picking up their 45s and following them to every seedy place they played. With Green Day, The Offspring, Rancid, and other punk bands suddenly all over the radio, there was simply no way not to be excited about a band from your area that sounded this good, and had this much potential.

Unfortunately, this was to be the high point of Weston's career. Their next few albums failed to capture the magic that was present on Got Beat Up, and the band eventually disbanded a few years later.

I said a mouthful about this album back here.

From the opening chords of this pop-punk blueprint, it is very clear that Screeching Weasel went through some changes during their brief hiatus after BoogadaBoogadaBoogada. Gone is the same old, same old pseudo-hardcore blasts that were all over their first two Lps. In its stead, is a bouncy, melodic, keyboard accented sing-a-long that is completely charming for all of its 30 minute glory.

But don't let the infectious melodies fool you, this isn't all bubble gum pop. Sure, there are fractured love songs like "Guest List", "Veronica Hates Me" and "Making You Cry", but there are also some cerebral lyrics here too. "Science of Myth" explores the relative merits of religion and science, "Slogans" plays like an outsider's national anthem, and the title track is designed for anyone with a D.I.Y. attitude.

This album pioneered a genre that gave birth to many uninteresting imitators, but this, the original, is proof that pop-punk can't be written off as mindless drivel.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

Sunny Day Real Estate was quite possibly the most unique band to come out of the Seattle music scene of the early '90's. Instead of the grindy, punk-meets-metal grunge that most of their peers were playing, Sunny Day opted for a sound that was one part aggressive rock, one part whispery and delicate, with singer Jeremy Enigk's anguished, angelic vocals completing what would eventually be categorized as emo. Their first two albums, (Diary and LP2) reside perfectly within that genre. Following a hiatus, SDRE returned with How It Feels To Be Something On, an album that breaks the emo mold a bit, incorporating eastern melodies and proper ballads.

Their final album, The Rising Tide, bears little resemblence to Diary and LP2. It seems that Sunny Day decided to stop playing emo right at the moment that it was becoming marketable to do so (bands like The Get Up Kids and The Promise Ring were getting decent sized followings), and the switch suits them well. The keyboard-kissed hard rock found on this album frames the images painted by the poetic lyrics beautifully.

I remember very clearly buying this album on a warm June evening, and listening to it in my car that entire summer. Songs like "Television" remind me of heading to my band's practice space, hanging out with friends, driving for hours on dark country roads, and the emotional roller coaster that life is when you are first experiencing the independence of living away from home.

The entire album is lush with fantastic compositions with aquatic themes, but the title track is easily its best song, and certainly my favorite from the band. If I were asked to cite one lyric by Sunny Day Real Estate that sums up why I love them, I would say, "Will you repair your life with all the holes you fill? Smother your will and lead you into fashion."
joshthevegan: (Isaac Of The Corn)

Let's Go, Rancid's second album, is the first to feature their most classic lineup, with Tim Armstrong and Lars Fredriksen on vocals/guitars, Matt Freeman on bass/vocals, and Brett Reed on drums. It is also their first to feature the production work of "Mr." Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion (he also produced Rancid V, Indestructable, and Let The Dominoes Fall). At this point in their career, Rancid had not yet begun to expand their sound to include ska, rockabilly, and other genres. Instead, Let's Go is a whirlwind of streetwise hardcore driven by Matt Freeman's unbelievable basswork, Armstrong's garble-mouthed ramblings, and Fredriksen's stellar guitar stylings.

I was just starting to get interested in current popular music as punk rock was returning to the mainstream consciousness, (I was 12 when this album was released, and had grown up listening to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and other classic rock acts), so I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of great punk rock at that crucial time in my life. Let's Go was one of the albums that ensured that I would be a fan of punk rock my whole life. The rattly, rolicking sound of songs like "Solidarity", with its gang vocals that insist you sing along, got deep under my skin, and still reside there today.

This album also features one of the most unique, and pure love songs there ever was, "Radio". It is a song about loving music, and the power it has to unify people, something it most assuredly can do. The opening lyrics ("Never fell in love, 'til I fell in love with you. I never knew what a good time was 'til I had a good time with you") so accurately describe the feeling I would get when attending local punk rock shows in the '90's and, to an extent, to this day.

After reading that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was being hailed as the first "concept album", Frank Zappa (whose group, The Mothers of Invention, had already recorded two concept albums) set to working on a third concept album that would skewer not only Sgt. Pepper, but also 1960's U.S. culture (particularly west-coast hippie culture). The result is one of Zappa's best known releases, We're Only In It For The Money.

We're Only In It For The Money is quintessential Zappa. Throught his career, he wore many different hats (jazz fusion guitarist, bitter comic, avant garde composer, etc.) and often (but not always) he would focus on one aspect of his compositional capabilities per album. We're Only In It For The Money is one of the albums where the lines blend, and Zappa's wide range of personalities all coexist flawlessly. This is an album that is every bit as funny as it is bitingly sarcastic, intentionally vulgar, and musically complex.

When I am listening to an album, I am the type of person that immeditely ejects the CD (or vinyl, or whatever) as soon as the album is over. I hate when an album finishes, and then starts back over again, I have a very strong need to move onto something new at those moments. When I first heard We're Only In It For The Money, however, this compulsion was put aside. I listened through it in my car after purchasing it, and when it got to the end, I let it play through again (twice). I was so floored by the complexity of the music, the oddball spoken parts that it's crawling with, and the hilarious jabs at hippie culture ("Flower power sucks!" shouts one of the musicians in the middle of "Absolutely Free") that I simply had to hear it again. I was sure I missed something on the first time through (and I was right).

Some of the finest moments on this masterpiece are "What's The Ugliest Part of Your Body?", "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance", and "Who Needs The Peace Corps?".
joshthevegan: (screamy)

I became an instant fan of Tool's music the first time I heard their album Undertow. The dark, nearly goth hard rock they were playing insantly appealed to me. I was incredibly excited when ├ćnima (their next album) was released, and was pleased to see the band achieve a relative amount of commercial success. As much as I enjoyed those first two albums, however, nothing could have prepared me for the masterpiece that would be their third full length, Lateralus.

Complex rhythms and time signatures (driven by drummer Dana Carey) combine with stellar guitar playing, and singer Maynard James Keenan's artfully aggressive lyrics to create a satisfyingly cerebral listen. This album solidified Tool's arrival as an art rock/progressive rock act (something they had been moving towards gradually all along), yet somehow manages to avoid the pitfalls of those genres.

One YouTube user took the time to put together a very interesting video to the album's title track, which illustrates the level of complexity Lateralus is capable of.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

Operation Ivy's Energy is often credited as one of the two albums that started the late '80's/early '90's punk rock revival (the other is Bad Religion's Suffer). The unique blend of spastic hardcore and ska that Operation Ivy played has been incredibly influential on many bands over the years. Two of the members of this band (guitarist/vocalist Tim Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman) would go on to much more commercial success with their band Rancid (which is also great), but these earliest recordings are certainly their most important.

The CD edition of this album contains Energy, as well as the Hectic E.P. and two tracks from a Maximum Rock and Roll compilation, effectively encompassing everything the band released in their short tenure (the band actually broke up the same month that Energy was released).

Energy was one of the first punk albums that I ever listened to, and the effect it had on me was profound. The themes of social justice, open-mindedness, and unity that are addressed on this album are ones that I have always believed in, and since they are presented in such an anthemic, catchy way, it helped to solidify my belief in those issues. I find myself returning to this album time and time again, it simply never gets old.

Some of my favorite tracks include "Here We Go Again", "Take Warning", and "Unity", but honestly, any of the 27 songs on this album could be listed as a favorite of mine.

When I'm in the mood for Fugazi (something that happens pretty frequently), I find myself most often turning to In On The Kill Taker. It could be because of the fantastic dynamic changes (like on "Returning The Screw"), it could be because of the powerful, politically charged lyrics (for example "We draw lines and stand behind them, that's why flags are such ugly things!" from "Facet Squared"), or the passionate performances from all four members of the band. Frankly, though, I don't think it is any of those things.

The reason that In On The Kill Taker will always be one of my favorite albums, and one that I turn to very frequently is because of the memories that I have attached to it. While I was growing up, my family used to vacation in the Poconos in northeastern Pennsylvania every summer for several weeks at a camping resort. I made some very good friends during those summers, some of whom shared my love for punk/indie/alternative rock. During one particular vacation, one of my friends swiped his older brother's cassette copy of In On The Kill Taker so that we could listen to it while riding in his convertible to the waterfalls down the street. We must have listened to that cassette to the breaking point that summer, blasting it at maximum volume, screaming along to songs like "Smallpox Champion" while enjoying the carefree life that only teenagers barely of driving age can ever really have.

I admit that it's probably a bit strange to attach such happy, lighthearted memories to an album that deals with such serious subjects ("Smallpox Champion" is about the Trail of Tears), but that was where I was in my life when I was exposed to this masterpiece. Nearly every summer I find myself wanting to turn on this album at least once or twice, and drift back to those times.
joshthevegan: (Bassy)

When Ryan Adams presented Love Is Hell to his record label, Lost Highway, they were concerned that it was not commercial enough. He was apparently told that he was "young", and he needed to write an album of material that reflected that better. He came to an agreement with the label; he would give them a more youthful sounding album, if they would also release Love Is Hell. After he wrote and recorded Rock N Roll in two weeks, the label held up their half of the bargain; Rock N Roll was the promoted album, while Love Is Hell was issued as two E.P.s with very little promotion. To Lost Highway's surprise, the E.P.s sold quite well, and were critically hailed, while Rock N Roll received mixed, largely tepid reviews. Because of this, Love Is Hell was eventually released as a whole album.

Love Is Hell is somber and powerful stuff; Adams flirts with despair while delivering the most important music of his career. Take, for example, "Shadowlands" which begins with only Adams' voice accompanied by a simple piano pattern all run through heavy, hazy reverb. As the song reaches its climax, and guitar, bass and drums join the mix, the reverb is slowly turned back. It's almost as though the listener is leaving the vocalist behind in those shadowlands, while heading somewhere with more substance.

Arguably, the finest moment of the album is the performance of a song that Adams didn't even write. His re-imagining of Oasis' "Wonderwall" finds a dark, soulful side the original version doesn't even hint at.

Whenever I am attempting to turn someone onto the works of Ryan Admas, Love Is Hell is always the place I start. It is mature, affecting music that doesn't get bogged down by attempting to fit into a certain genre or meet anyone's expectations. It's simply great music crafted by a master songwriter, performed with tenderness and sincerity.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

It's hard to imagine, but when Descendents released Milo Goes To College, a punk/hardcore band playing melodic songs was unheard of, and the fact that that same band had the audacity to sing songs about love made it nearly scandalous.

The band would take a hiatus for several years following its release (singer Milo Aukerman actually did quit the band to go to college), but at that moment, their interplay was electric. Drummer Bill Stevenson (who would go on to play with Black Flag during the hiatus) and bassist Tony Lombardo lay thunderous groundwork for Aukerman to spew dissatisfied diatribes over ("Why won't they shut up?", "Eh, it doesn't matter, you all suck!") while guitarist Frank Navetta shredded his guitar to pieces. Each track on the album has a slightly different approach to the "basic hardcore" mold, something that many hardcore bands weren't doing in the early '80's.

Several of the songs from Milo Goes To College have become legendary, being either covered or acknowledged by many bands over the years. Personally, "Bikeage" was a major influence on my choice to play the bass guitar. That bouncy, melodic bassline that outshines the guitar resonates in the way I write to this day. Other notable songs include "Hope", "Suburban Home", and "Statue of Liberty".

As this list starts winding down, and I get towards the titles that made the top of the list, my feelings towards each choice gets deeper, and more personal. For example, I remember the exact place I was when I bought Pavement's second full-length album, (I was on a school trip) and I can't even begin to count the amount of times I listened to it through my high school years, or placed tracks from it on untold numbers of mix tapes (and eventually mix CDs). I've been a fan of each and every one of Pavement's five albums, and some fit certain situations perfectly (Brighten the Corners is perfect in the autumn, and Terror Twilight. . .well, I bet you can guess what time of day that one works with), but when compiling a list of my favorite albums of all times, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain simply has to be on that list.

The early E.P.s from Pavement were (for the most part) experimental sound recordings, and largely consisted of two guitars, drums and vocals (no bass). Their first album, Slanted & Enchanted took small steps towards more traditional songwriting, but still consisted of the three-man lineup. The addition of bass, and a new drummer for Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain combined with songwriting that leaned more towards indie-pop combined to create the sound that Pavement would gain considerable fame and critical acclaim for through the latter part of the '90's.

There were several singles released for this album ("Cut Your Hair", "Gold Soundz", and "Range Life"), all of which were relatively succesful on college radio, helping snag Pavement a spot on the Lollapolooza tour. This larger exposure turned out to be both good and bad for the band, because their audience expanded quite a bit, but expectations for the follow up album to Crooked Rain were very high, placing a lot of pressure on Malkmus and Kannberg. (They would ultimately follow up with the fantastic Wowee Zowee which was loved by the fans, but was not nearly as radio-ready).

(Check out what I had to say about this album a few years ago over here.)
joshthevegan: (Bassy)

From their earliest recordings, New York City's The Slackers have performed mature, nuanced ska that is often blended with elements of soul, funk, and reggae, all performed at a staggering level of proficiency. Because of this, it would be unfair to say that as the years go by, and they grow as a unit, that they're becoming one of the most respectable acts in the genre; they always were.

That isn't to say, of course, that The Slackers haven't done their fair share of growing, because they certainly have. By the time 2006's Peculiar was recorded, they had accrued quite a bit of life experience, so it is no surprise that themes of mortality, longing, and loss would start to appear in the songs.

While I am a fan of pretty much everything this band (and all it's countless side projects) have ever done, Peculiar contains such an unbelievable amount of great songs, it simply has to be their best. From soul-tinged tracks ("What Went Wrong") to upbeat, jazzy numbers ("Keep It Simple") to a down-and-dirty, nearly dub take on Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" that closes the album, Peculiar is brilliant at every turn.

Following the huge success of his album Harvest and the subsequent "Time Fades Away" tour, Neil Young began writing and performing the songs that would eventually become Tonight's The Night. These songs were dark and despairing, (two of Young's friends had died of heroine in a six month span) performed and recorded very loosely (almost drunkenly), and his record label initially rejected the album.

Attempting to move on from that dark period, Young headed back into the studio and produced what would become On The Beach, an album which is one of his most creative, diverse, and powerful.

The title of the album is potentially deceptive, perhaps implying a sunny, upbeat record. However, after a listen through the songs (and a glance at the cover art), it seems that Young is likely talking about what it feels like to stand on the beach on a cold, windy day; an image that evokes introspection more than carefree relaxation. ("See the Sky About To Rain" is a perfect example of this mood). He was looking back on his career to that point, and making observations about it.

In some cases his subject matter is overt; the opening track ("Walk On") is a statement about Young's wish to move on from the feud with Lynyrd Skynyrd, who had bashed him in their song "Sweet Home Alabama" because of his earlier song "Southern Man". Other times, he is more obscure, like in "Ambulance Blues", which touches on his feelings about what critics had said about him, his manager's concern regarding the inactivity of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (the line "you're all just pissing in the wind" is apparently a direct quote from him), and American politics.

There are three "Blues" songs on the album, and they are the pillars around which the rest of the album is built. The first is the above mentioned "Ambulance Blues", which closes the album. The other two are "Revolution Blues" (a song about rejection and frustration towards the artificiality of the rich and famous) and "Vampire Blues", which is one of his earliest songs about environmentalism, an issue he would remain focused on to this day.

Although Young has released many fantastic albums, there is a certain magic about this record that makes it outshine all the others. "I need a crowd of people, but I can't face them day to day," he sings on the title track, and that might be one of the most honest lines an artist has ever sung about themselves.

R.E.M. was one of the first bands that I fell in love with during my adolescent years. They were particularly popular on alternative radio at that time, since songs from Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People were still getting airplay, and Monster was a massive hit. After hearing all these albums, I began digging into their earlier catalog, and found that I much preferred the albums they released on I.R.S. Records (spanning most of the '80's). Of these albums, Reckoning was my absolute favorite.

I wrote a bit about this album (link) as one of my earliest entries in this space.
joshthevegan: (woody)

While I was compiling this list, I made sure that no artist had more than one album make the cut (although I acknowledge that the fact that both Uncle Tupelo and Wilco both being on the list could be construed as a stretch of this rule). This made selecting a Bob Dylan album a real problem, since several of his albums might have made this list. Blonde on Blonde, Planet Waves, Oh Mercy and Bringing It All Back Home all could have easily fit somewhere on this list, but in the end, I had to go with the album that started what has been dubbed "Dylan's Comeback Trilogy", Time Out of Mind.

This album (which is produced by Daniel Lanois, whose production credits include U2's The Joshua Tree and Dylan's Oh Mercy) was the legend's first album of original material in seven years, and the wait for his fans was well worth it. The songs absolutely shimmer from the speakers thanks to the unique production style and the powerfully dark, bluesy nature of Dylan's latest vocal incarnation. The songs are cold and windy, bitter and jealous; in other words, classic Dylan.

Two singles were released for Time Out of Mind, "Not Dark Yet" and "Love Sick", the song "Cold Irons Bound" won a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, and another one of the songs ("Make You Feel My Love") was made famous later by two much lesser musicians (Billy Joel and Garth Brooks) recording covers of it.

Time Out of Mind won three Grammy Awards that year, (including Album of the Year) and has since been hailed by critics and fans alike as a major achievement for Dylan and a rebirth of his credibility as a songwriter. I was fortunate enough to see him on this tour, and the live experience of these songs performed with this band is one of the finest I've ever seen.
joshthevegan: (cully vale)

The Flaming Lips have been making intensely psychadelic music since the early 1980's. Their earliest recordings are endearingly sloppy and intentionally oddball, but over the years, frontman Wayne Coyne's songs have evolved into serious, sometimes melancholy observations and musings.

Arguably the finest moment in the Flaming Lips' long career is Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; I know it's my favorite of theirs. Musically, it is a seamless blend of orchestral tapestries, folksy psychadelia, and electronica. Any given track could encompass any of those elements alone, or in combination (take "In The Morning Of The Magicians", for example). Add to that Coyne's powerful lyrics (that address issues like mortality, isolation, regret, etc.), and it is easy to see why Yoshimi is the Flaming Lips' best selling album to date.

September 2014



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