i've got the best of interventions

Thursday, October 06, 2005

#421 - Funeral, The Arcade Fire

"Fueled by the loss of family members, Canada's Arcade Fire turned their sorrow into cathartic indie rock for their debut album. Imagine the early energy of the Talking Heads transposed onto a more baroque mixture of Neutral Milk Hotel's inspired folk-psych and New Order's sense of pop dynamics. Good stuff, then!" (real music guide)

#420 - Relish, Joan Osborne

"Osborne's passion for life oozes from the grooves. There's an uplifting fervor to her material and delivery, as if every second, every note was being individually savored. Key track "One of Us" sets the disc's optimistic tone. It's a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff. This isn't one of those sugary, superficial, goody-two-shoes Amy Grant kind of deals." (allmusic guide)

#419 - Learning To Crawl, The Pretenders

"With two key members OD'ing, it looked like the Pretenders were finished. Instead, the band came back with its best-selling -- and best -- album. Once again, FM rock, New Wave and punk fans came together for an LP loaded with too many classics tracks to mention. Hell, we can't help ourselves: how great is "Back on the Chain Gang"?" (real music guide)
#425 - Feats Don't Fail Me Now, Little Feat

"Feats Don't Fail Me Now is the pinnacle of Little Feat as a group, showcasing each member at their finest. Not coincidentally, it's the moment where George begins to recede from the spotlight, leaving the band as a true democracy. These observations are only clear in hindsight, since if Feats Don't Fail Me Now is just taken as a record, it's nothing more than a damn good rock & roll record. That's not meant as a dismissal, either, since it's hard to make a rock & roll record as seemingly effortless and infectious as this." (allmusic guide)

#424 - Surfacing, Sarah McLachLan

"Released in 1997, Surfacing is highlighted by the workman-like perfection of "Building a Mystery," which was all over the radio at the time, and the haunting "Angel," which displays McLachlan's talents as a singer. She bolsters her ghost-calling vocals with a sturdy rhythm section, and the result is a record that sold in the mega-gajillion-zillions." (real music guide)

#423 - Kaya, Bob Marley & The Wailers

"The album Kaya could be easily construed as an open love letter or musical paean to the lifestyle that Marley so eagerly embraced and promoted. Themes of commonality and unity pervade this release more so than previous albums. Likewise, the overt political stances that had become somewhat of a moniker for Marley and the Wailers are temporarily replaced by timeless compositions, such as the eternally optimistic "Easy Skanking" and "Is This Love."" (allmusic guide)

#422 - Ingenue, k.d. lang

"To stake out her own individual territory somewhere between Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday without relying on pop standards is a feat in itself. The 10 original compositions allow full reign to lang's spectacularly expressive voice. One misses the sense of humor and playful spirit that has infused lang's music in the past, but that can wait until next time 'round when she's recovered from whatever major personal crisis served as inspiration for Ingenue. For now, listen and weep." (allmusic guide)
#430 - Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac

"Fleetwood Mac's tenth album features the winning final lineup in its first full-fledged outing. The soon-to-be familiar traits of utterly beautiful singing and perfect songwriting are easily found on Fleetwood Mac. You can almost hear the group preparing to take over the world with Rumours, which would follow in a year. Includes the single "Over My Head."" (real music guide)

#429 - Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake

"His own performance itself steered a careful balance between too-easy accessibility and maudlin self-reflection, combining the best of both worlds while avoiding the pitfalls on either side. The result was a fantastic debut appearance, and if the cult of Drake consistently reads more into his work than is perhaps deserved, Five Leaves Left is still a most successful effort." (allmusic guide)

#428 - Bee Thousand, Guided By Voices

"On Bee Thousand, Guided by Voices sounds like a passionate and gloriously quirky garage band fronted by a thrillingly and maddeningly idiosyncratic songwriter; its many pearly moments make it a fascinating discovery for rock enthusiasts, but a few years would pass before this band was fully earning the new accolades showered upon it." (allmsuic guide)

#427 - Meat Is Murder, The Smiths

"While the Smith's second album from 1985 does contain a few misfires, there's so much strong material and inspired songwriting that this album is an essential listen for any fan of guitar pop. The American version contains the hit "How Soon Is Now" (otherwise an anomaly). "The Headmaster Ritual" and "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" certify the record's classic status."

#426 - When I Woke, Rusted Root

"Rusted Root's debut album is an agreeable collection of post-hippie folk/rock. Drawing from The Grateful Dead, Phish, and Graceland-era Paul Simon in equal measures, the band can certainly work a low-key groove, spinning out solos and singsong melodies at well. They haven't perfected their songwriting yet -- many of the songs sound underdeveloped -- but their music sounds mature and hints at their potential." (allmusic guide)
#434 - In The Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra

"This exquisite after-hours ballad set was the first of Sinatra's dark heartbreak albums, and one of his most influential. Nelson Riddle's arrangements are so subtle that you don't even notice when a small jazz group replaces the orchestra. Along with Songs for Swingin' Lovers, this platter became the blueprint for pop and jazz releases of the 1950s." (real music guide)

#433 - The Soul Cages, Sting

"Reeling from the loss of his parents, Sting constructed The Soul Cages as a hushed mediation on mortality, loss, grief, and father/son relationships (the album is dedicated, in part, to his father; its predecessor was dedicated to his mother). Using the same basic band as Nothing Like the Sun, the album has the same supple, luxurious tone, stretching out leisurely over nine tracks, almost all of them layered mid-tempo tunes." (allmusic guide)

#432 - Nothing Like The Sun, Sting

"Sting explores world rhythms and melodies on Nothing Like the Sun, which actually works well with the general political nature of these songs. A cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" is included as is the hit "Be Still My Beating Heart."" (real music guide)

#431 - Blue Train, John Coltrane

"As his only release for Blue Note, this 1957 set is one of the finest bop albums recorded. Not only does it feature Coltrane and his soaring sax working through "Blue Train," it also gets some truly wonderful brass help from Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller. Not as exploratory as his later work, but this is surely one of the most influential LPs to come out of jazz." (real music guide)
#440 - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, The Cure

"Long time fans may have balked after hearing the overt pop of "Why Can't I Be You?" and "Hot Hot Hot" from this 1987 album, but this ambitious record contained so much great material, all could be forgiven. "Just Like Heaven," "Catch," and "The Perfect Girl" are faultless pop gems. It's this album that begins to show how the Cure could translate into mass acceptance." (real music guide)

#439 - Tuesday Night Music Club, Sheryl Crow

"Tuesday Night Music Club has a loose, ramshackle charm that her unreleased debut lacked. At its best -- the opening quartet of "Run, Baby, Run," "Leaving Las Vegas," "Strong Enough," and "Can't Cry Anymore," plus the deceptively infectious "All I Wanna Do" -- are remarkable testaments to their collaboration, proving that roots rock can sound contemporary and have humor." (allmusic guide)

#438 - 1999, Prince

"Released in 1983, 1999 was the album that catapulted Prince to international superstardom -- and guaranteed him a place at every millennial New Year's party. Rife with nasty funk, screaming rock guitar and exuberant party jams, the uniformly strong release spawned three hit singles: "1999," "Delirious," and the deliciously slinky "Little Red Corvette." A classic." (real music guide)

#437 - Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago (Transit Authority)

"In April of 1969, the dozen sides of Chicago Transit Authority unleashed a formidable and ultimately American musical experience. This included an unheralded synthesis of electric guitar wailin' rock & roll to more deeply rooted jazz influences and arrangements. This approach economized the finest of what the band had to offer -- actually two highly stylized units that coexisted with remarkable singularity." (allmusic guide)

#436 - Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails

"Trent Reznor brought Industrial music into the mainstream with this 1989 album. Actually, it was the mainstream that came to him. "Head Like A Hole" and "Down In It" brought a previously unknown pop sensibility to a form of music with a marginal fanbase. Unwittingly, this album provided the blueprint for most of the popular aggressive music of the following decade." (real music guide)

#435 - Tales From Topographic Oceans, Yes

"Either the finest record or the most overblown album in Yes' output. When it was released, critics called it one of the worst examples of progressive rock's overindulgent nature. Jon Anderson's fascination with Eastern religions never manifested itself more clearly or broadly, but one needn't understand any of that to appreciate the many sublimely beautiful moments on this album, some of the most gorgeous passages ever recorded by the band." (allmusic guide)
#446 - This Desert Life, Counting Crows

"The Counting Crows' third album was also their most critically acclaimed. Dropping some of the lyrical profundity and vocal dramatics, the band let their rootsy pop strengths and love of Classic Rock shine through on tracks such as "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby."" (real music guide)

#445 - Debut, Björk

"The Nellee Hooper-produced Debut (1993) is a perfect showcase for the talent that the Sugarcubes were eclipsing. Here, Bjork sings circles around everything from club thumpers to harp-led ballads, gently pushing at the edges of the mainstream with her playful, impassioned songcraft. Debut cements Bjork as one of the most compelling voices in pop." (real music guide)

#444 - Another Green World, Brian Eno

"As unique as Eno's previous records were, this one raises the bar for the hybrid of pop and electronic music. Eno delves deep into the studio, melding rhythm, synthesized sound and melody into a surreal whole. The album's largely instrumental, but vocal tracks "St. Elmo's Fire" and "I'll Come Running" are pop songs unlike any other." (real music guide)

#443 - Crime Of The Century, Supertramp

"With Crime of the Century, Supertramp established themselves as one of the handful of progressive rock acts that could sell albums and have hit singles. Stripping away the long-winded excesses of their first two albums, Crime of the Century featured tighter, more melodic songs, as evidenced by the singles "Bloody Well Right" and "Dreamer."" (allmusic guide)

#442 - My Favorite Things, John Coltrane

"Each track of this album is a joy to revisit. The ultimate listenability may reside in this quartet's capacity to not be overwhelmed by the soloist. Likewise, they are able to push the grooves along surreptitiously and unfettered. For instance, the support that the trio -- most notably Tyner -- gives to Coltrane on the title track winds the melody in and around itself. However, instead of becoming entangled and directionless, these musical sidebars simultaneously define the direction the song is taking." (allmusic guide)

#441 - On And On, Jack Johnson

"On his sophomore album, this former pro surfer sounds like a mellower Ben Harper. His lyrics invite the listener to slow down and feel at home in a groovy, Donovan-like space, while his whispered, I'm-telling-you-a secret inflections sound honestly intimate and mysterious in their fragile vocal textures." (real music guide)
#450 - Tigerlily, Natalie Merchant

"Tigerlily, Natalie Merchant's first solo record, does sound different than 10,000 Maniacs. Instead of relying strictly on jangly folk-rock, Merchant continues opening her music up as she did on Our Time in Eden, her last album with the Maniacs. From the understated groove of "Carnival" to the rolling "San Andreas Fault," the added emphasis on rhythmic texture works, creating an intimate but not exclusive atmosphere that holds throughout the record." (allmusic guide)

#449 - Alive On Arrival, Steve Forbert

"Alive on Arrival is an album full of earnest tunes about loneliness, self-worth, aspirations, and disappointments. Forbert's wispy, innocent sounding voice floats gently (and cuts roughly) over his acoustic guitar to homespun ditties with a down-to-earth feel. This album represents Forbert's music perfectly, and even though his latter albums sound less subtle, it is Alive on Arrival that so aptly personifies him." (allmusic guide)

#448 - Transatlanticism, Death Cab For Cutie

"The Pacific Northwest group's first release since 2001's The Photo Album and singer Ben Gibbard's success with the Postal Service sees Death Cab in excellent form. Like Built To Spill without the guitar worship, DCFC create precise, romantic and melodic indie-pop. Try "Title & Registration." (real music guide)

#447 - Aladdin Sane, David Bowie

"Bowie's follow up to Ziggy Stardust casts a warped Glam Rock net over 1970s America. Simultaneously theatrical and experimental, this album contains such key tracks as "The Jean Genie," "Panic in Detroit," and "Drive-In Saturday."" (real music guide)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

#456 - Sketches Of Spain, Miles Davis

"Clearly at his most challenged here, (Miles Davis) delivers with grace and verve. Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience, as one encounters a multitude of timbres, tonalities, and harmonic structures seldom found in the music called jazz." (allmusic guide)

#455 - Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane's Addiction

"Ritual De Lo Habitual is the Jane's Addiction album to turn newcomers onto the band. On their sophomore studio effort, the band successfully incorporated hooks and big choruses into their blistering, esoteric sound, and were "rewarded" with a proper radio/MTV hit as a result. Start here and move backward on the road to discovering Jane's Addiction." (real music guide)

#454 - Rastaman Vibration, Bob Marley & The Wailers

"The first strains of "Positive Vibration" have to give you chills. This is the sound of an artist entering his prime and stating his convictions, and for all the warm, bass-heavy atmosphere, there's something stark at work here. Marley's ancient voice sounds amazing, particularly on the chilling "Johnny Was."" (real music guide)

#453 - Regatta de Blanc, The Police

"On the Police's sophomore effort, Reggatta de Blanc, the band sound sharper and more assured of themselves. Future classics "Walking On the Moon," "Message In a Bottle," and "The Bed's Too Big Without You" makes this album difficult to resist, ranking it second only to their hits collections or Zenyatta Mondatta." (real music guide)

#452 - Want One, Rufus Wainwright

"As is to be expected, the songs are meticulously layered and richly textured, with full orchestral passages and many-throated harmonies. Producer Marius deVries (Björk, Massive Attack, Madonna) didn't mess with the already successful Wainwright sound, allowing for the young singer/ songwriter/multi-instrumentalist to explore his familiar themes of love, loss, and "singin' about places" with the anticipated fanfare and flourish." (allmusic guide)

#451 - Rockin' The Suburbs, Ben Folds

"Rockin' the Suburbs is as good a record as any he's made, possibly his best. It's still possible to hear his influences -- Joe Jackson still stands out, as do elements of Billy Joel and Todd Rundgren -- but there's no shame there, and he's accepted it as part of his musical personality so much that it sounds like him, even when it sounds familiar." (allmusic guide)
#464 - Gaucho, Steely Dan

"Steely Dan's Gaucho hasn't aged a day since it was released in 1980, setting the stage for modern Smooth Jazz. Even darker than Aja, it isn't as cohesive an album but still scores song-for-song. "Time Out Of Mind" and "Hey Nineteen" became radio staples while "Babylon Sisters" and "Glamour Profession" may be their ultimate "L.A. is hell" narratives." (real music guide)

#463 - Benefit, Jethro Tull

"Most of the songs on Benefit display pleasant, delectably folk-like melodies attached to downbeat, slightly gloomy, but dazzlingly complex lyrics, with Barre's guitar adding enough wattage to keep the hard rock listeners very interested. "To Cry You a Song," "Son," and "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me" all defined Tull's future sound: Barre's amp cranked up to ten (especially on "Son"), coming in above Anderson's acoustic strumming, a few unexpected changes in tempo, and Anderson spouting lyrics filled with dense, seemingly profound imagery and statements." (allmusic guide)

#462 - Diamond Dogs, David Bowie

"Released at the tail end of Bowie's Glam phase, Diamond Dogs features one of his biggest hits, "Rebel Rebel." The rest of the album is not considered his best work, but it does have some nasty guitar work despite the then-recent exit of Mick Ronson." (real music guide)

#461 - Sailin' Shoes, Little Feat

"It is...an utterly thrilling, individual blend of pop, rock, blues and country, due in no small part to a stellar set of songs from Lowell George...(who) truly finds his voice on this record, with each of his contributions sparkling with off-kilter humor, friendly surreal imagery and humanity, and he demonstrates he can authoritatively write anything from full-throttle rock & roll, sweet ballads, skewered folk, paranoid rock and blues and, yes, even hooky mainstream rock." (allmusic guide)

#460 - By The Way, Red Hot Chili Peppers

"The Red Hot Chili Peppers' eighth studio album finds the California foursome exploring the more melodic freeways of harmony and texture, contrasting the gritty, funky side streets of their early days. Luckily, with this more sophisticated sound, the Peppers have not sacrificed any of their trademark energy or passions for life, universal love, and (of course) lust." (allmusic guide)

#459 - The Angel In The House, The Story

"From the recorders and whistles that open "So Much Mine," to the Latin rhythms of "Fatso," The Angel in the House is a fiercely and unapologetically feminist album that addresses, among other themes, maternity, anorexia, and the underlying horrors of domestic life. Both in her spirit and in her narrative manner, Jonatha Brooke, who wrote almost the entire album, is a descendant of Virginia Woolf, and these songs, each one a beautifully arranged and well-orchestrated tale of longing, love, and/or loss, are some of her best." (allmusic guide)

#458 - The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, Joni Mitchell

"After opening with the graceful "In France They Kiss on Main Street," the album veers sharply into "The Jungle Line," an odd, Moog-driven piece backed by the rhythms of the warrior drums of Burundi. While not as prescient, songs like "Edith and the Kingpin" and "Harry's House -- Centerpiece" are no less complex or idiosyncratic, employing minor-key melodies and richly detailed lyrics to arrive at a strange and beautiful fusion of jazz and shimmering avant pop." (allmusic guide)

#457 - Fables Of The Reconstruction, R.E.M.

"A dark, moody rumination on American folk -- not only the music, but its myths -- Fables is creepy, rustic psychedelic folk, filled with eerie sonic textures. Some light breaks through occasionally, such as the ridiculous collegiate blue-eyed soul of "Can't Get There From Here," but the group's trademark ringing guitars and cryptic lyrics have grown sinister, giving even sing-alongs like "Driver 8" an ominous edge." (allmusic guide)
#471 - New York Tendaberry, Laura Nyro

"It was hardly a gloomy affair, but the emphasis was on soulful laments and arrangements that often featured, in part or whole, nothing but her voice and piano. Without at all sounding blatantly derived from gospel, it often sounded very much in the spirit of gospel in its fervid passion, though using melodies from a wide pop/blues-soul canvas and addressing concerns far more secular and personal." (allmusic guide)

#470 - Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley

"This was as startling a debut record as any ever made, representing every side of Elvis' musical influences except gospel -- rockabilly, blues, R&B, country, and pop were all here in an explosive and seductive combination. Elvis Presley became the first rock & roll album to reach the number one spot on the national charts, and RCA's first million dollar-earning pop album." (allmusic guide)

#469 - The Road To Ensenada, Lyle Lovett

"The Road to Ensenada is the lightest album Lyle Lovett has ever made -- the darkness that hung around the fringes of Pontiac, Joshua Judges Ruth, and I Love Everybody has drifted away, leaving his wry sense of humor and a newly found empathetic sentimentality. The combination of straightforward instrumentation and lean, catchy, and incisive songwriting results in one of the best albums of his career -- he's just as eclectic and off-handedly brilliant as he has always been, but on The Road to Ensenada he's more focused and less flashy about his own talent than he's ever been." (allmusic guide)

#468 - Marshall Crenshaw, Marshall Crenshaw

"Working without any kind of smoke or mirrors, Crenshaw delivers simple, straightforward pop music invested with remarkable melodic ingenuity; his material is timeless and fresh -- gems like "Someday, Someway," "She Can't Dance," and "Not for Me," are the kinds of songs which would fit like a glove on both oldies radio and contemporary Top 40 play lists in any era. Witty, assured, and utterly infectious, Marshall Crenshaw remains among the finest debuts of its day." (allmusic guide)

#467 - Songs Of Love And Hate, Leonard Cohen

"Songs of Love and Hate captured Cohen in one of his finest hours as a songwriter, and the best selections (especially "Famous Blue Raincoat," "Joan of Arc," and "Love Calls You by Your Name") rank with the most satisfying work of his career. If Songs of Love and Hate isn't Cohen's best album, it comes close enough to be essential to anyone interested in his work." (allmusic guide)

#466 - Question Of Balance, The Moody Blues

"The group's first real attempt at a harder rock sound still has some psychedelic elements, but they're achieved with an overall leaner studio sound. The group was tryng to take stock of itself at this time, and came up with some surprisingly strong, lean numbers (Pinder's Mellotron is surprisingly restrained until the final number, "The Balance"), which also embraced politics for the first time ("Question" seemed to display the dislocation that a lot of younger listeners were feeling during Vietnam)." (allmusic guide)

#465 - Giant Steps, John Coltrane

"Coltrane's Atlantic Records debut, Giant Steps introduced the tenor saxophonist to a wider audience and became a great leap forward for jazz in general and for 'Trane in particular. Unyielding, driving power yields to delicate, beautiful moments. This CD is full of alt takes of the seven compositions ("Niama" and "Countdown" are the most famous among them)." (real music guide)