Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo OST

Written, produced, and performed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the soundtrack to David Fincher’s 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a three-disc album of score music that features two cover songs performed by the duo with contributions from Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocalist Karen O and Mariqueen Maandig of the Reznor/Ross outfit How to Destroy Angels. While the music is similar to the dark-ambient yet melodic-piano pieces of their previous soundtrack work in The Social Network. The result is another outstanding score/soundtrack album from the duo of Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross.

Opening the album is an intense yet frenetic cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song that features pulsating yet hammering beats, chainsaw-driving guitars, buzzing keyboards, and wailing vocals from Karen O. The song is a very industrial take on the Led Zeppelin classic as Karen O, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross maintain the same intensity and spirit of Zeppelin in their own take of the song. The next thirty-seven tracks of the album are instrumental score pieces that totals to nearly three hours of music with varying degree of moods and textures for the film.

The large bulk of the album is based on dark ambient pieces like She Reminds Me of You, People Lie All The Time, Perihelion, Hidden in Snow, How Brittle the Bones, Please Take Your Hand Away, Cut Into Pieces, Under the Midnight Sun, Aphelion, The Same As The Others, A Pause for Reflection, While Waiting, The Seconds Drag, Later into the Night, Millennia, We Could Wait Forever, Great Bird of Prey, A Pair of Doves, The Sound of Forgetting, and Of Secrets. They’re essentially down-tempo material that ranges from being very melodic and quiet with a sinister edge to them as it features the Swarmatron buzzing machine. While tempos vary a bit throughout these cuts that add to the dramatic moments of the film as well as low-key suspenseful moments that involves Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. A lot of the music is driven by a mixture of the Swarmatron, piano melodies, marimbas, and keyboards to help set the mood.

On the industrial/electronic side, there’s With the Flies, A Thousand Details, A Viable Construct, Oraculum, Another Way of Caring, and Infiltrator. A lot of these materials either range into intense and heavy in terms of production and performance or, in the case of a cut like Oraculum, is very stripped-down to maintain some suspenseful moment or something that is far more mechanical in its performance. These cuts just amp up the tone of the film as they are some of the best material in the film.

More up-tempo cuts like Pinned and Mounted, An Itch, and You’re Here have a more hypnotic feel either with its rhythm or melodies to either introduce characters or to help heighten the drama while the marimba-driven The Heretics help intensify things with a bit of electronics into the performance. Somber pieces like What If We Could?, One Particular Moment, I Can’t Take It Anymore, The Splinter, Parallel Timeline with Alternate Outcome, and Revealed in the Thaw, and Hypnomania are tracks that are all driven by the piano while containing some eerie textures to either heighten up the drama and suspense while a lot of it is very low-key and plays to the more intimate moments of the film as well as more brooding aspects of it.

Closing the album is a cover of Bryan Ferry’s Is Your Love Strong Enough? by How to Destroy Angels as it’s sung by Mariqueen Maandig as it starts off as this calm, ambient-inspired cut as Maandig sings Ferry’s heart-wrenching lyrics. The song then slowly intensifies with its warbles of keyboard melodies and mid-tempo beats while Trent Reznor sings back-up to Maandig’s more soothing vocals.

While the album has a lot of amazing material plus two brilliant cover songs, the big flaw about the album is its near-three hour length. There’s a lot of instrumental material that weaves and moves through different moods and textures along with different musical styles. For a score piece, it’s quite phenomenal though it’s not as accessible as Reznor and Ross’ previous score work with The Social Network.

The soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a stellar yet hypnotic album from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. While it’s got a lot of ambition and a wide array of approach to the dark ambient sub-genre. The album’s near length will definitely be overwhelming for some listeners due to the fact that a lot of the instrumental material delve into the same style that Reznor and Ross had been exploring for the past few years. In the end, the soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a remarkable album from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

NIN Reviews:

halos: halo 1 - halo 2halo 3halo 4halo 5halo 6 - halo 7halo 8halo 9halo 10halo 11halo 12 - halo 13 – (halo 14) – (halo 15) – (halo 16) – (halo 17) - (halo 18) – (halo 19) – (halo 20) – (halo 21) – (halo 22) - (halo 23) – (halo 24) – (halo 25) – (halo 26) – (halo 27) - (halo 28) – (halo 29) – (halo 30) – (halo 31) – (halo 32)

Soundtracks/Related: The Broken Movie - Natural Born Killers OST - Quake OST - Lost Highway OST

seeds: (seed 1) - (seed 2) - (seed 3) - (seed 4) - (seed 5) - (seed 6) - (seed 7) - (seed 8)

nulls: null 1 - (null 3) - (null 4) (null 5) - (null 6) - (null 7)

Live Shows: (NIN/Bauhaus/TV on the Radio-6/7/06 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - (NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena) - (NIN/Jane’s Addiction/Street Sweeper Social Club-5/18/09 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) NIN/Godspeed You! Black Emperor-10/24/13 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena - NIN/Jesus & Mary Chain/Tobacco-9/27/18 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre

© thevoid99 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross-The Social Network OST

With Nine Inch Nails currently on hold, NIN mastermind Trent Reznor has been delving into various projects following his decision to retire the group as a live entity. After releasing the self-titled EP to his new project How to Destroy Angels with wife Mariqueen Maandig-Reznor and longtime associate Atticus Ross in June. Reznor maintained a low profile until he made an official announcement where he and Atticus Ross will provide a score piece to David Fincher’s 2010 film The Social Network. A film about the founding of Facebook in its early days as the score that Reznor and Ross has created is filled with a sense of foreboding and melancholia around the mind of one of its co-founders in Mark Zuckerberg.

The score soundtrack to The Social Network is reminiscent to the 2008 NIN double-instrumental album Ghosts I-IV. While a few pieces of that album are heard in some of the score pieces, the record is a chilling, dark, ambient-inspired record that dwells into Mark Zuckerberg’s troubled state of mind. While almost every track on the album is written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, only one is a cover piece in the form of Edvard Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King. The result is definitely one of the most eerie and discomforting film scores ever created for a mainstream film.

Opening the album is Hand Covers Bruise, a somber piano piece that is accompanied by screeching electronic drones. With Reznor on piano and Ross providing bass-heavy sounds along with a violin-like screech in the mix, the track plays to Mark Zuckerberg’s emotions after he had just been dumped as the film opens. In Motion is an up-tempo track of sorts of throbbing rhythms, flourishing sequencers, melodic synthesizers, and sputtering beats. Featuring a swooning yet low-key keyboard wail, the track plays up to Zuckerberg’s absorbed mind as he creates the foundation that would become Facebook. A Familiar Taste is an ethereal track that features a somber, ambient feel that is later surrounded by throbbing, bass-heavy synthesizer melodies and droning guitar wails that thrash through as it features elements of 35 Ghosts IV from Ghosts I-IV.

It Catches Up With You is a short, one-minute, thirty-nine seconds track that is a smooth, drone-heavy bass line that is followed by a melancholy piano piece to dwell into Eduardo Saverin’s melancholia as he is fighting Zuckerberg in a deposition. Intriguing Possibilities is a synthesizer-heavy track led by pulsating electronic melodies that flourish throughout the entire track as Reznor plays a slow piano piece. Featuring a wailing guitar in the background, the track intensifies as it dwells into Zuckerberg’s troubled mind as he is creating Facebook. Painted Sun In Abstract is led by a siren-like synthesizer melody that wails through with a soft, sputtering keyboard track in the background along with a soft piano in the mix. Featuring a swooning electronic drone, the track is a standout in terms of its subtle arrangements and performance. 3:14 Every Night is a drone-bass heavy track with chugging sounds of growling electronics and sputtering beats. With sounds of wailing sirens in the guitars and a morose piano, it’s a track that maintains the eerie tone for the album and film.

Pieces Form The Whole is led by a melodic keyboard track with a throbbing bass beat that is also carried by atmospheric electronic sounds. Featuring a twanging, discordant beat in the background, the track wails through on its swirling synthesizers as it plays to the tense tone of the depositions Zuckerberg is facing. Carbon Prevails is an upbeat track of sorts with static-like, sputtering beats, buzzing synthesizer melodies and a bleeping keyboard track as it also features a wailing noise in the background. Notably as it plays to Zuckerberg and his team working on to improve Facebook. Eventually We Find Our Way is led by a droning buzz with soft, static-like beats pulsating through along with wailing sounds to express Zuckerberg’s tense feelings as he is becoming more ambitious. Penetration is a short, piano-led piece featuring Reznor’s somber piano mixed in with Ross’ soothing, ambient-inspired keyboards to emphasize the calm tone in Zuckeberg’s rise.

Next is a cover of Edvard Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King, a track with a famous melody as Reznor and Ross’ arrangement is filled with a slowed-down, melodic synthesizer that later intensifies with speeding synthesizer melodies and crashing, buzzing noises. The track plays to the Winklevoss twins competing in a boat race just as they later learn about Facebook arriving in the U.K. campuses. On We March is a smooth, mid-tempo track where slow, sludgy bass beats sputter through with Reznor’s melodic piano and a wailing buzz sound in the background. Magnetic is a variation of 14 Ghosts II with its swirling bass-synthesizer drones and melodic, chime-like keyboards that is followed by pounding bass beats and a wailing guitar track. Almost Home is another piano-driven track feature low-register melodies and tick-tock beats in the background. Featuring a swooning guitar wail in the background, it is a track that plays to Saverin’s own downfall as he is being pushed out of the company he co-founded.

A reprise of Hand Covers Bruise appears to recall Zuckerberg’s own alienation as he is on the rise with a more, droning buzz in the background to accompany Reznor’s melancholic piano. Complication With Optimistic Outcome is a track led by wailing guitar swirls as it buzzes through with Ross’ pulsating synthesizer loops. With the melodic-drenched synthesizers intensifying, it is a track that continues to confirm the split between Zuckerberg and Saverin with Sean Parker instigating the split even more. The Gentle Hum Of Anxiety is led by a swooning sound of keyboards and drones with Reznor’s piano providing a somber feel. Notably for the increasing tension between Zuckerberg and his enemies as he is more distracted by things around him. The final track is Soft Trees Break The Fall, a somber piano piece led by Reznor’s melodic piano and Ross’ swooning ambient drones. The drone track intensify with chime-laden keyboards playing in the background as it plays to Zuckerberg’s alienation while facing his own fate.

The album is available through the Null Corporation’s album site (now dead as of 2018) as it is presented in various formats which includes a free download of a five-track sampler EP. The digital format in 320kps MP3, FLAC, and Apple Lossless is priced at five dollars. A CD version, plus the digital format, is available for $8. A Blu-Ray DVD format in 5.1 Surround Sound (no video content) and lossless stereo in a 6-panel digi-pack package is available for $20, that also includes immediate download of the digital album. The fourth and final format in 2 180-gram vinyl discs with a triple gatefold packaging along with the digital album for the price of $25. This is part of Trent Reznor’s plan to release the soundtrack on his own terms with Sony’s permission to release it independently.

The Social Network score soundtrack is a remarkable album from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Fans of NIN will no doubt enjoy this album for its take on dark ambient with elements that fans will be familiar to. For audiences outside of the NIN camp who enjoyed the film, should definitely pick up this soundtrack as its unconventional style is truly one of the more original film soundtracks to come out in years. While it’s unlikely that Reznor and Ross some awards either due to rules or just plain ignorance. It’s definitely one of the year’s best film scores as it defies the idea of what a score can be. In the end, the score soundtrack to The Social Network is a brilliant achievement from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

NIN Reviews: halos: halo 1 - halo 2halo 3halo 4halo 5halo 6 - halo 7halo 8halo 9halo 10halo 11halo 12 - halo 13 – (halo 14) – (halo 15) – (halo 16) – (halo 17) - (halo 18) – (halo 19) – (halo 20) – (halo 21) – (halo 22) - (halo 23) – (halo 24) – (halo 25) – (halo 26) – (halo 27) - (halo 28) – (halo 29) – (halo 30) – (halo 31) – (halo 32)

Soundtracks/Related: The Broken Movie - Natural Born Killers OST - Quake OST - Lost Highway OST - The Social Network

Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross Scores: null 2 - (null 3)- (null 4) - (null 5) - (null 6) - (null 7)

Promos: (seed 1) - (seed 2) - (seed 3) - (seed 4) - (seed 5) - (seed 6) - (seed 7) - (seed 8)

Live Shows: (NIN/Bauhaus/TV on the Radio-6/7/06 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - (NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena) - (Jane’s Addiction/NIN/Street Sweeper Social Club-5/18/09 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - NIN/Godspeed You! Black Emperor-10/24/13 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena - NIN/Jesus & Mary Chain/Tobacco-9/27/18 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre

© thevoid99 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Favorite Albums #1: Loveless

How to Make Noisy Guitars Sound Beautiful

Throughout the world of popular music, there is always something that changes the idea of what popular music is. In November of 1991, the Dublin-based band My Bloody Valentine changed all of that with their second album Loveless. While it wasn’t a big-selling album nor a record that got a lot of attention when it first came out. It was the album that proved that noisy guitars presented into an ethereal yet dream-like context could be defined into something in the world of pop music. At first listen, it doesn’t seem like that a song like Soon or Sometimes could fit in with something like the music of Michael Jackson or Nirvana at the time it came out. In the 20 years since then, the legacy that Loveless has left has proven to be truly insatiable.

While My Bloody Valentine (MBV) started out in the mid-1980s as a post-punk band that was heavily influenced by the Jesus & Mary Chain through a series of EPs and singles. It wasn’t until 1987 when vocalist/guitarist Bilinda Butcher joined the band, that had consisted of band leader Kevin Shields on guitars and vocals plus bassist Debbie Googe, and drummer Colm O’Ciosoig, where MBV was starting to forge a sound that was truly on its own. It had the post-punk energy of their early recordings with a dreamy sound that dwells into dream-pop sound of bands like the Cocteau Twins.

When their first full-length debut album Isn’t Anything came out in 1988, it was a breath of fresh air for many people in the indie music scene. The album along with the non-LP single You Made Me Realise indicated something new that was happening as the energy of post-punk and the noise-rock of bands like the Jesus & Mary Chain and Sonic Youth with dreamy vocal textures seemed something out of this world. To many, it was the beginning of the shoegaze or shoegazing era of popular music where bands would play their guitars while gazing down at their shoes. The album was extremely different as it features waves of chainsaw yet blistering guitars with loud, pummeling rhythms to songs where things were a little slow and dreamy with bits of noise.

Yet, Isn’t Anything was just the start of a band ready to emerge at a time when the music scene needed something different. Particularly in Britain at a time when the indie music scene was in transition following the disbandment of the Smiths and the emergence of the rave culture in Manchester. Kevin Shields was interested in what was going on in Manchester and this rise of house and acid-dance music that would later become bigger in the early 90s. One of those early indications of Shields’ interest towards electronic music into the band’s music was in a two-track instrumental record that was released with early copies of Isn’t Anything. The second instrumental track featured drum loops sampled from Public Enemy’s Security in the First World.

This instrumental track was just the start of where the band was going for their second full-length release as the band entered the studio in February of 1989 following a small tour to promote Isn’t Anything that came out in November of 1988. For the band’s label Creation, that was headed by Alan McGee, everyone thought a follow-up record to Isn’t Anything would come immediately but that didn’t turn out that way. Instead, the album that would become Loveless was recorded for over two-years with various engineers present for many sessions including Alan Moulder were there to help with the recording of the album which was helmed by Kevin Shields. Though the album was credited by the band, it was largely made by Shields as bassist Debbie Googe was unable to play due to Shields’ perfectionism while drummer Colm O’Ciosoig was going through various personal and physical issues that prevented him to play drums for most of the album.

The two-year work to make the album would result in the near-financial collapse of Creation Records as the final cost for the album was 250,000 pounds. During the two years in the making of the album, two EPs were released to keep things going for the band. The first was Glider released in April of 1990 and the second in Tremolo released in February of 1991. The two EPs would show a major progression into what the band was making at the time as each record started off with two songs that would end up in the album Loveless.

Opening the Glider EP, that would later be the closing track of Loveless, is a near-seven minute song called Soon. Featuring an array of rhythmic dance beats that is followed by Shields’ driving yet noise-blaring guitar that carry the song through with its groove-laden bass and hypnotic keyboard swirls. Shields’ vocals sounds like as if he has just woken up while singing strange yet fragmented lyrics that really doesn’t say anything. Then again, Shields nor Bilinda Butcher were really lyricists as it was more about what the music said. Soon is really the beginning of something as it’s a track where band had taken their shoe gaze sound of strumming the guitar with the tremolo bar and meshed it with the rhythm of Manchester.

The fourth track on Loveless, that is the opening track on the Tremolo EP, is a much dreamier song called To Here Knows When. While the version in Tremolo is an extended version due a very different coda of ambient-layered keyboards. To Here Knows When is a key track to help differentiate between the rest of the album in terms of musical dynamics and presentation. The song opens with this flurry of sprinkling sounds of synthesizer washes with soft, tribal beats and whale-like sounding guitars that soars through as Butcher sings in her evocative yet hazy vocals as she sings these esoteric lyrics of some strange dream or something.

These two tracks would help shape the rest of the entire album as it would range into a series of musical presentation for each track. Many of the material album would dwell into loud yet performance-driven cuts to more dreamier material that emphasize on mood and texture. The album opener Only Shallow and its following track Loomer played up these different dynamics in mood and guitar textures. When one listens to Only Shallow for the very first time, the sound of blaring guitar noises nearly sounds like a robotic elephant wailing as drums pound through that sheer sound of noise. Then the song’s tone starts to change once Bilinda Butcher sings in her dreamy voice with lyrics that are very fragmented in its presentation. That section of the song just has Shields and Butcher strum their guitars to a steady mid-tempo rhythm as it returns to that noisy dynamic as it would move back and forth throughout.

The song closes with this coda of droning guitar textures that then segues to Loomer that is led by rumbling beats and driving guitar riffs as Butcher sings in her cool vocal to non-descript lyrics that recalls a world of its own. Featuring this wave of seductive guitar that sounds a bit like a fuzzy synthesizer, it adds to this sheer noise of something that can be extremely intense but also intoxicating in its delivery. The third cut of the album is its sole instrumental track Touched as it’s also the only cut not written by Kevin Shields as it’s helmed mainly by drummer Colm O’Ciosoig. Featuring a guitar that sounds like an animal wail, it is largely an ambient cut that is filled with soft, timpani-like beats and swirls of synthesizers that adds to the dreamy texture of the album.

To Here Knows When would follow but with a different coda which is essentially a droning guitar playing slow, sludge-like riffs with all of the metal power chords that goes on for nearly a minute and then segues into When You Sleep. With that blaring, high-pitch guitar solo, the song takes charge with its fast, driving guitar riff and pummeling beats. Shields’ vocals is presented in a hazy fashion as he sings very esoteric and dream lyrics. Throughout all of this chaotic sound of guitars and beats that is carried through this production that is unlike anything in terms of what is traditional with rock or pop music. There is a pop element to this song that really defies the idea of what pop music is.

Pop music is often known for something that is often safe and radio-friendly but there has always been someone or some act that will reinvent pop music to either fit with the times or to give it a new spin. I Only Said is the best example of MBV as a pop act although it the idea of that wouldn’t initially across to anyone at first listen. Through this swirling guitar riffs, walloping yet heavy rhythms, driving guitar drones, and Butcher’s vocals that sings these abstract lyrics. This is not what pop music is to the ears of someone who might think that pop music is something is often played on top 40 radio. Well, not at first but when listening to riff that Shields plays and the structure of the song through this production. There is a very accessible element to the song that makes it than just noise. It’s noise being turned into a thing of beauty.

Shields’ guitar work throughout the entirety of the album is among the reasons why this album has managed to endure over the years. While bands like the Jesus & Mary Chain and Sonic Youth brought new ideas to what noise could do with guitars. Shields took it to the new level by strumming with the tremolo arm continually to help create a sound that really defines the idea of noise. Whereas Sonic Youth had a more sense of brutality to their music as they also used the tremolo bar. Shields takes it back to more ethereal context in terms of creating something that he claims had a sound that glides through. The work that Shields did was something that wasn’t like anything at the time as he remains probably one of the last few innovators, with the exception of Tom Morello of the rap-metal band Rage Against the Machine, to reinvent the idea of what guitar playing could be in terms of rock and pop music.

Another example of Shields’ amazing guitar playing is in the song Come in Alone with this wave of blistering and squealing noises drills through the song with a drum machine that just pummels throughout as Butcher sings. There is this level of noise in the guitar that squeals and drones in the way Shields allows it to just soar in a gaze as if he’s playing based on the way he’s feeling. It’s a song that really up plays to the idea of just letting go into a gaze both lyrically and musically as the former has these weird lyrics of just going into a dream as it’s one of the tracks that help elevate the album even more as it progress.

Then there’s Sometimes, which is essentially a love ballad in the most unconventional form but it’s also the most accessible song of the entire album. Armed with just a driving yet droning guitar riff with backing acoustic guitars in the background that is later followed by soothing, ambient synthesizers. Shields sings the song with his soft yet dreamy vocals that has very touching lyrics of longing. It’s a song that is another great example of MBV as a pop act while the song would have an even bigger life during a scene in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation in a sequence where both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters are on their way back from a party as Johansson stares at the lights of Tokyo while Murray’s Bob Harris finally sleeps. It’s a scene that really captures the song at its best as it’s also probably the song to play when driving at night in a city.

Blown a Wish is the dreamiest song of the entire album that is awash with layers of vocals swooning through with ethereal synthesizers and wavy guitars. Butcher’s vocals comes in as if she’s woken up in a trance while singing, once again, indecipherable lyrics with esoteric imagery. With the production of this song maintaining that dream-like tone, it also cools the album down after going through a barrage of noisy material to just get the listener lose itself in the waves of guitars and vocals. What You Want brings back the barrage of noisy guitars with a more bopping rhythm and driving guitar blares with its sound of droning distortions and warbling riffs. Shields’ vocals maintains its indecipherable presentation to its abstract lyrics while it has this very simple structure of where he’s singing and then just playing. It’s part of Shields’ brilliance as a songwriter as the song would later close itself into a texture of wavy keyboards that would lead to its closer Soon.

When Loveless was released on November 4, 1991, it came out to rave reviews with critics praising the album in the U.S. and in the U.K. although sales for the record were modest as it reached number 24 in Britain but didn’t chart in the U.S. Due to the staggering cost of the album that nearly bankrupted Creation Records, Alan McGee reluctantly dropped the band in order to save the label that would later sign the mid-90s Britpop band Oasis to great success. The band would eventually sign with Island Records in the fall of 1992 but only made contributions for the label with two covers for compilation albums in 1993 and 1996. Despite a tour throughout the year of 1992 that gave them lots of exposure, the band was never able to capitalize whatever momentum they had following the release of Loveless.

Though My Bloody Valentine were eventually able to reunite in 2008 for some shows with claims about making a new record. The legacy that Loveless has left has managed to endure 20 years since its release. For the alternative bands that were around for the album’s release, it was a big deal of what could done not just musically but in terms of ambition. Acts like the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails both benefited from the album’s release as both worked with engineer Alan Moulder by having him as a producer for their albums. Particularly with the latter as Moulder would be one of the key collaborators for Trent Reznor as he utilized a lot of the band’s shoe gaze sound for the band’s 1999 album The Fragile.

The album would also allow bands to take risks with guitars as the British band Radiohead cited the album as its influence for Shields’ textured guitar work that gave them a chance to create the sound they wanted for their 1997 masterpiece OK Computer. A more recent band that definitely benefited from the album’s influence is the Atlanta-based ambient-punk band Deerhunter whose layered yet exotic sound definitely bears the dreaminess of Loveless. Notably their 2007 album Cryptograms which has a lot of layered guitars and a sound that mixes chaos and beauty.

Whether or not My Bloody Valentine will ever have another record out anytime soon. Loveless is the album that many will remember them for and it remains an album that is truly ahead of its time more than 20 years since its release. There isn’t an immediacy about after one listen but repeated listens do make it something worthwhile. Whether it’s driving at night or playing something very loudly in a bedroom. It’s an album that really takes whoever is listening to that album right now into a journey that isn’t unlike anything. That is what great albums do and that’s why My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless is among one of the greatest albums ever made.

© thevoid99 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

1991-20: The 50 Best Albums of 1991 Pt. 3 (10-2)

10. Pearl Jam-Ten

Before Pearl Jam’s arrival, rock music seemed to have lost some excitement. Hair bands were ruling the charts with bombast rock songs about partying and playing sappy power ballads that really made them more like pussies. On the other spectrum of that world of rock n’ roll, bands were playing to drum machines and everything sounded very clean. When Pearl Jam arrived from the ashes of Mother Love Bone and Green River many years earlier, rock suddenly found a band that could give them a shot in the arm. Featuring the intense vocals of Eddie Vedder, the blazing guitar work of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, and the heavy rhythm section of bassist Jeff Ament and original drummer Dave Krusen. Pearl Jam became not just one of the key bands of the 1990s but one of the best bands ever in the history of American music.

While Ten would be the album that is most identified with the public and set a new template for rock music in the years to come for better and for worse. The album features songs that a generation would identify with in such singles as Alive, Even Flow and Jeremy while cuts like Black, Porch, and Release showed the kind of range the band had. There didn’t offer any sappy love songs or anything that everyone was already singing about. It was rock music feeling vibrant all over again. While Pearl Jam would make better albums that saw them take some very successful risks, Ten is the album that put them on the map as far as what they’ve done for rock music.

9. Slint-Spiderland

The band’s second and final studio release saw this post-hardcore band from Louisville, Kentucky doing something very new that would help set a template for an emerging genre called post-rock. Spiderland is an album unlike anything that was out there at the time as it featured spoken-word lyrics about loneliness and despair with changing time signatures in the performance the band brings. It was beyond the parameters of what hardcore and punk could do as there was a melodic element as well as an aggression that was very unique.

From the opening cut Breadcrumb Trails to its intense closer Good Morning, Captain, the album is truly an intoxicating yet haunting experience to listen to. The music is treated very unkindly in the way David Pajo plays his guitar ranging from dissonant arpeggios to sludge-driven riffs. Britt Walford’s drumming dwells into unconventional rhythms that keeps shifting in a song like Don, Aman that he sings. Brian McMahan’s vocals are truly unsettling in the way he speaks where he sets the mood for the entire album. There is a lot to what Spiderland brings as it’s not an easy nor immediate record to get into but repeated listens make it something far more worthwhile.

8. A Tribe Called Quest-The Low End Theory

Hip-hop in 1991 was definitely going into various different places as the time by the time A Tribe Called Quest released their sophomore album. Whereas M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice were ruling the charts with slick, bombastic sounds while Ice-T and N.W.A. were telling a much darker tale. A Tribe Called Quest were the perfect alternative to people that wanted something that was very different and exciting. Fusing jazz with hip-hop rhythms and melodies, The Low End Theory is truly a record like no other album at the time.

From the opening cut Excursions that is driven by a standing bass jazz riff with Q-Tip’s direct yet laid-back rhymes. The Low End Theory keeps things simple in its musical presentation of just beats, samples, bass, and vocals as the lyrical content dwells into lots of themes such as the harrowing The Infamous Date Rape, the humorous yet biting Rap Promoter, and the very satirical Show Business. It’s a record that maintains this laid-back vibe while actually saying something that is overbearing. It’s also the album that gave a real proper introduction to an unknown named Busta Rhymes as his rapid-fire rhymes in Scenario is really one of a kind. The Low End Theory is probably one of the most perfect albums ever created not just in hip-hop but in all forms of music.

7. Nirvana-Nevermind

If Pearl Jam’s Ten gave rock music a new sense of energy and excitement, Nirvana’s second studio release Nevermind made it much more dangerous for not just rock and alternative music audiences but for pop audiences as well. With Butch Vig’s production that was raw but also engaging in the atmospheric textures it brings, Nevermind was a record that was unlike anything out there in popular music. From the opening number Smells Like Teen Spirit to the noise-laden secret closer Endless, Nameless. It’s a record that offers something that felt very new to a mainstream audience while being daring enough for the alternative/indie audience.

With Kurt Cobain’s blazing guitar and anguished yet growling vocals that features lyrics of despair and angst. Cobain’s work is complemented by Krist Novoselic’s low-key yet vibrant bass work and the thunderous drumming of Dave Grohl. Songs like Drain You, In Bloom, Stay Away, On a Plain, and Breed featured an intensity that is just very powerful. Cuts like Polly and Something in the Way show what the band could do in a ballad that were very dark while singles like the charging Lithium and the exotic Come As You Are show the range the band can do in balancing rock and pop music. It is truly one of the must-have albums in rock and pop music that music fans must own.

6. Talk Talk-Laughing Stock

A band with an interesting history as they started out in the early 80s as a New Wave synth-pop group from Britain whose biggest hit at the time was a song called It’s My Life. Then in 1986, they changed gears toward an organic sound with art-rock flourishes for The Colour of Spring and then abandoned all pop conventions for 1988’s Spirit of Eden. The band’s fifth and final album Laughing Stock takes the minimalism of Spirit of Eden to a more esoteric plateau in terms of arrangements and dynamics. While it’s a more pleasant cousin to Slint’s Spiderland where both would give ideas to the emerging post-rock genre. Laughing Stock showed a much broader influence ranging from classical to jazz.

From the somber opener Myrrhman to the low-key closer Runeii, the album that runs at nearly 44-minutes with six tracks is really unlike anything out there. With more guitars and a sparse yet delicate production from unofficial member Tim Friese-Greene, songs like Ascension Day and After the Flood show an intense yet atmospheric tone that is unlike anything in pop music. Mark Hollis’ vocals and spiritual-laden lyrics never sounded any better in its delivery. Laughing Stock is truly a record that deserves a wide audience to hear as it remains way ahead of its time for the groundwork laid to the post-rock genre.

5. This Mortal Coil-Blood

The third and final album, from the outfit formed by 4AD label founder Ivo Watts-Russell and producer John Fryer, shows a much more organic and ethereal sound that the outfit has done in their two previous albums. While some of the electronic beats and keyboards of John Fryer is still prevalent, Blood emphasizes more on Martin McCarrick’s string arrangements as well as guitars, bass, and drums while utilizing the help of various vocalists to sing original material as well as covers that was personally selected by Watts-Russell.

Featuring regular vocalists like Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski, Alison Limerick, and Dominic Appleton contributing to the final album. Kim Deal of Pixies/the Breeders does a stunning duet with Throwing Muses/Belly/the Breeders’ Tanya Donelly for the Chris Bell song You and Your Sister while interpretations of songs like Spirit’s Nature’s Way, Syd Barrett’s Late Night, Rain Parade’s Carolyn’s Song and another Chris Bell song in I Am the Cosmos play to the outfit’s exotic sound. It may be the last album the outfit has put out but it is among one of the great last albums any act has ever created.

4. Primal Scream-Screamadelica

The ultimate party album of the 90s has Primal Scream finally achieving their breakthrough with their third studio release. Starting out as a jangle-pop trad-rock band with indie aesthetics, a remix of one of their songs by DJ Andrew Weatherall would change everything. Screamadelica is an album that goes all over the place as it bends all sorts of genres from acid-rave dance, ambient, trad-rock, gospel, and dub. Something like that on paper shouldn’t work but with the various producers the band worked with including the Weatherall, the Orb, and legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller somehow made it into something that could work.

From the opening trad-rock gospel of Movin’ on Up to the swooning yet low-key yed laid-back Shine Like Stars. It’s really the album that starts off as a rave album with a cover of 13th Floor Elevator’s Slip Inside This House and Don’t Fight It, Feel It and then goes into elements of trippy cuts like Higher Than the Sun, in its original and dub version, and the ambient-driven Inner Flight. Songs like Come Together and Loaded keep the party going while the reflective songs like Damaged and I’m Comin’ Down really brings it all home as it’s definitely a record that has something for everyone and giving them a great time.

3. Massive Attack-Blue Lines

Among the albums of that year that brought something new to the world and Massive Attack did that by introducing the world to trip-hop. This strange sound that combines hip-hop rhythms, smooth electronic sounds, dub, reggae, and soul music into one entire thing. The trio that featured Robert “3D” Del Naja, Grantley “Daddy G” Marshall, and Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles would create something very original with Blue Lines that featured contributions from future trip-hop artist Tricky, Shara Nelson, and Horace Andy.

From the throbbing opener Safe From Harm to the wondrous closer Hymn of the Big Wheel, Blue Lines is a perfect album from start to finish. It’s not just a record that one could chill out to but also be reflective in the state of the world in a song like Unfinished Sympathy that is the album’s centerpiece. There’s a whole lot to it in cuts like its title track and Five Man Army that really brings something new in the world of hip-hop as it has a language that is very original. Blue Lines is without a doubt, a record that anyone must have in their collection.

2. U2-Achtung Baby

If U2 hadn’t made Achtung Baby, the band would’ve ceased to exist as they would’ve been known as this post-punk Irish band that became the biggest band in the world only to become bloated. Fortunately, U2 found a way to survive with their seventh studio release by stop taking themselves seriously and make a rock record that people can dance to. Featuring the amazing production work of longtime collaborators Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, Achtung Baby is definitely the band’s best album.

From the electro-rockers like Even Better Than the Real Thing, The Fly, and the exotic Mysterious Ways, the band also feature one of their great ballads in the reflective One. Yet, there’s a lot more to this album than its singles as its opener Zoo Station gives listeners the idea that it’s not The Joshua Tree. Cuts like So Cruel, Until the End of the World, and Ultraviolet really show U2 at their best. Particularly as it shows the band flirting with Madchester rhythms and industrial textures as U2 made an album that solidifies their legacy as one of the best.

Well, that’s the 50 best albums of 1991. Wait… what is number one? Well, check in a few days to a week into the link below that says Favorite Albums #1.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991-Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 50-26 - 25-11 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

1991-20: The 50 Best Albums of 1991 Pt. 2 (25-11)

25. Ice Cube-Death Certificate

Ice Cube’s sophomore release has the rapper going into more extremes in the way he deals with a lot of social and political themes. The song also has Cube firing back at the disses made by his former bandmates in N.W.A. while taking shots at the commercialism of hip-hop in True to the Game. Songs like Steady Mobbin’, Black Korea, and I Wanna Kill Sam features an intensity that hasn’t been replicated in Cube’s later albums. Yet, it’s a record that is truly confrontational without any kind of compromise that is Cube at his finest.

24. Primus-Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Primus’ sophomore album shows a more refined sound to the band’s quirky, funk-based rock sound. Led by the country drawling vocals of Les Claypool, Primus is a band that is truly bringing something that was lacking in rock. The musicianship between Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde, and drummer Tim Alexander is really shown on this record in singles like Jerry Was a Racecar Driver and Tommy the Cat which showcase the heaviness of their sound. Particularly as it features Claypool’s warbling bass work that is unlike anything out there in rock music.

23. Orbital-S/T

Orbital’s full-length debut represents a change to the world of electronic music to be more than just something to dance to. Featuring an array of acid-house textures and trance-style keyboards, Orbital’s debut is a great record for raves while providing some of the ambient moods that would become prevalent into their later recordings. Tracks like Chime and Belfast are true cuts that will get people in the dance floor and just let the music take them on.

22. Red Hot Chili Peppers-Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Before they became the soft and uninspired band that wants to appeal to the mainstream, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were one of the most exciting bands to come out of the alternative music scene in the 1980s. The band’s fifth studio album with producer Rick Rubin would have the band broaden their funk-rock sound to new heights. With such rocking cuts as its title track, Suck My Kiss, and Give It Away, the band also go into new territory with the exotic Breaking the Girl and the reflective ballad Under the Bridge. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is truly the best album the band has put out as they would never achieve such great heights after this.

21. Slowdive-Just for a Day

One of the great bands of the shoegaze sub-genre, Slowdive brought a wonderful mix of melodic dream pop and ambient to their sound along with evocative vocals of Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell. The guitar work in such songs as Catch the Breeze, Spanish Air, Erik’s Song, and Brighter features a richness that is sorely lacking in a lot of guitar-driven rock. While their subsequent albums would be more refined and daring, this still a phenomenal debut from one of shoegaze’s great bands.

20. Temple of the Dog-S/T

A project formed by Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell with the then-former members of Mother Love Bone in guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament. The Temple of the Dog album isn’t just one of the key pillars of grunge but also a soaring tribute to late Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood. Featuring then-future Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, then-Soundgarden/future Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, and an unknown vocalist named Eddie Vedder. This record is truly one of the most rocking but also inspirational albums that really showcases what great 1990s rock music is.

19. Cypress Hill-S/T

The debut album from one of hip-hop’s most popular acts, Cypress Hill brought a new spin to the world of west coast hip-hop by infusing their Latino-based environment as well as troubling lyrics about life in streets. Featuring a sound that is more exotic that a lot of hip-hop records, the dark elements in the music and the songs they talk about showed something that appealed more to a hip-hop audience. Some of the stoner elements of the record made it appealing enough for rockers as it’s definitely one of the best debut albums ever.

18. 2Pac-2Pacalypse Now

The late Tupac Shakur started out as a dancer/rapper for the group Digital Underground until he emerged with his debut album that would mark the arrival of a new voice. 2Pacalypse Now is a record that reflects all of the themes Shakur would explore from social upheaval, the right to bear arms, the hopelessness for a young black man, and teenage pregnancy. With a sound that ranges from being intense and confrontational to more reflective in a song like Brenda’s Got a Baby. It’s the start of what is truly an unparalleled career one of hip-hop’s unsung heroes.

17. The Smashing Pumpkins-Gish

The debut album from one of alternative rock’s key acts would show what the genre was all about and more. While the Smashing Pumpkins were a band that had lots of ambition towards art rock, Gish showed a sound that was really heavy in songs like Siva, Bury Me, Tristessa, and I Am One. Yet, dreamier cuts like Rhinoceros and Window Paine showed a complexity to the band proving that there was a lot to them as it’s a debut album that still holds up to the rest of their catalog.

16. Ice-T-O.G. Original Gangsta

Ice-T’s fourth studio release would be the pinnacle of his career as the gangsta rap legend would go all over the place to express the many themes on the album. From the song M.V.P. where Ice-T pays tribute to some of the best that he likes to the thrash-metal song Body Count where Ice-T would introduce his metal project of the same name. The rapper also delves into the ills of what was going on in South Central Los Angeles as well as the boiling turmoil that was happening. It’s definitely Ice-T at his best in the way he talks about how it is without any compromise.

15. His Name is Alive-Home is In Your Head

The second studio release from the experimental dream-pop band His Name is Alive, Home is In Your Head is definitely a record that pretty much defies description. Featuring the ethereal vocals of Karin Oliver, the record features lot of short, fragmented material that compliments their oblique yet rich sound led by Warren Defever’s exotic guitar playing. It’s a record that isn’t easy to listen to at first but it gains its worth through repeated listens.

14. The Orb-The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

The debut album from Alex Paterson’s long-running project is among one of the great albums of the electronic music scene. Ranging from ambient cuts to psychedelic-driven trance material, it is definitely an album that really takes on a trip for more than an hour. Featuring such great cuts as Perpetual Dawn, Supernova at the End of the Universe, and the near 19-minute closing cut A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld. It is the kind of record that is definitive for the world of rave culture while having something to chill out to.

13. Soundgarden-Badmotorfinger

Soundgarden’s third full-length studio release gave the band the breakthrough they needed as they would become one of the 1990s premier bands. Thanks to Terry Date’s sonic production, Badmotorfinger is a monstrous album that is filled with lots of power due to the thundering rhythm section of drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd along with the driving metal riffs of Kim Thayill and Chris Cornell’s wailing vocals. While Soundgarden was tagged with the “grunge” label but there’s more that to Soundgarden as it’s true hard rock at its finest from the opening cut in the frenetic Rusty Cage to intense yet slow-burn closer New Damage.

12. Spacemen 3-Recurring

The fourth and final album of one of the influential bands of the British indie music scene of the 1980s saw the founding members of Peter Kember and Jason Pierce making an album at a time when their relationship has already soured. With the first half devoted to Kember’s more dreamier and melodic-driven sound that includes experiments with electronic music such as the opening track Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here). The second half from Pierce would show a more soulful yet experimental side that would reflect the material he would do with his band Spiritualized. The record overall is truly mesmerizing as it’s a fond farewell for one of the great indie bands from Britain.

11. Teenage Fanclub-Bandwagonesque

It’s often said that if the legendary 70s power-pop band Big Star ever made another album, it would’ve sounded like this album. While it’s a raucous record by the Scottish quartet, Teenage Fanclub also proves to be a band that can create something that is very catchy and melodic in songs like December and What You Do to Me. Particularly as there’s guitars that sound quite noisy at times while being balanced by the beautiful melodies they created as it’s definitely one of the best power-pop albums ever made.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991-Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 50-26 - 10-2 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

1991-20: The 50 Best Albums of 1991 Pt. 1 (50-26)

1991 was an incredible year for albums ranging from pop, rock, electronic, indie, and hip-hop. It was definitely a year where there was something for everyone in the genres they loved while the albums themselves proved to be timeless more than 20 years since its release. There was a lot that came out that really gave music lovers something more than just an album that either defined a genre or was an artist/band that showed that they still got it or they were about to arrive. Here are the 50 Essential Albums of 1991:

50. Michael Jackson-Dangerous

Probably the last great album Michael Jackson would make in his illustrious career yet what a way for the King of Pop to prove that he’s still the man. While the schmaltzy Heal the World was just a hilarious attempt at re-writing We Are the World. There’s a lot of material that has Jackson take on the New Jack Swing sound to new heights in songs like the title track, Jam, Remember the Time, In the Closet, and the rocking Black or White that featured Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. It’s an album that the late Michael Jackson proved that he won’t go away quietly.

49. Ween-The Pod

Probably one of the weirdest albums ever made yet Ween is a band that is always weird and refuses to compromise themselves. The Pod is often stated to be their most challenging record of their career at that time. Yet, there’s an amazing array of songs that really defines what Dean and Gene Ween are. A couple of drugged-out dudes that will go into any kind of song with distorted vocals with a lo-fi production that really makes it more difficult to listen to. Yet, it’s an album that really proves you can make music out of just being weird and not giving a fuck what people think.

48. Dinosaur Jr.-Green Mind

While it’s a record that may not live up to the energy of earlier albums that featured the original trio of J. Mascis, Murph, and Lou Barlow. Mascis was able to make something that was still very solid and lively proving that the band can still go on without Barlow. Yet, there’s also more reflective material such as the acoustic Flying Cloud and the slow-burn of the woodwind-driven Thumb amidst a barrage of blazing rock songs.

47. Type O Negative-Slow, Deep, & Hard

The debut album for the Gothic-metal band showed something that was very different from the world of Goth and metal. Led by the low yet scary vocals of the late Peter Steele, it’s a record that is truly menacing that goes all over the place from fast-paced rockers with a punk rock energy to slow yet exotic material that displays the Goth sound they’ve been known for. While subsequent albums would show a more refined sound, this record is definitely one of the key debut albums of the 1990s as well as an intense metal album.

46. Van Halen-For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

The band’s third studio album with second vocalist Sammy Hagar has the band going for a more straightforward rock sound. Yet, it’s a record that does deliver what Van Halen does best which is just good rocking tunes that is loud and catchy. Singles like Poundcake, Top of the World, and Runaround show what Van Halen can do with just being a rock band while the single for Right Now is a power ballad that definitely shows the band saying something about the world. While it’s not the best record of the Hagar period, it is certainly the kind of rock album that was still cool to listen to when grunge was starting to emerge.

45. Blur-Leisure

The debut album from one of Britain’s great bands has Blur just starting out with a sound that was reflective of what was going on Britain through Madchester romps like There’s No Other Way and Bang to the shoe gaze-inspired She’s So High and Sing. Still, there is something that is unique about the album from four young guys that were just trying to find their identity that would lead to landmark albums like 1994’s Parklife and 1995’s The Great Escape.

44. Electronic-S/T

The alternative-dance side project formed by Joy Division/New Order’s Bernard Sumner and the Smiths’ Johnny Marr has the duo taking on the dance trend of the time. With Marr’s guitar playing and Sumner’s familiarity with electronic rhythms and textures, it’s a record that expresses what was going on musically and with the state of the world. The highlight of the album is a collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys on the song The Patience of a Saint that combines four of the best in British music of the 1980s.

43. Leaders of the New School-A Future Without a Past…

The album that introduces the world to Busta Rhymes as a member of Leaders of the New School. The album is definitely a fun and exciting album that really was an alternative to the more brash, gangsta-rap music of the times. Filled with a much more optimistic feel with a display of innocence about what it was like to be young and having fun. It’s also a record that is also raucous but in a very enjoyable way with a rapid-fire flow of rhymes from Busta Rhymes and his cohorts.

42. Elvis Costello-Mighty Like a Rose

One of the darkest albums that Elvis Costello has recorded in his career, the album has Costello delving into various musical styles from baroque pop to angry folk rock. With lyrics delving on disappointments and heartbreak, it’s a record that is often considered to be one Costello’s underrated recordings. While it’s all over the place that features some sunnier material like The Other Side of Summer and So Like Candy, it’s a record that exemplifies why Elvis Costello is among one of the greats.

41. Sepultura-Arise

One of the key metal bands of the 1990s, Sepultura brought a new energy to the world of thrash and aggressive metal with elements of polyrhythmic beats into the sound. Arise would be among one of the key albums through cuts like Altered State, Meaningless Movements, and Desperate Cry. It’s a very heavy yet groove-laden album that features the growling vocals of Max Calvera which is truly one of the band’s best albums of the Calvera era.

40. Uncle Tupelo-Still Feel Gone

One of alt-country’s great bands to emerge in the early 90s would show those who were disillusioned with the polished sound of the country music of the late 80s and early 90s something very different and direct. Still Feel Gone is an album where the group was in transition where they had a love for punk that is the track D. Boon that was dedicated to late Minuteman vocalist/guitarist. Yet, cuts like Still Be Around and True to Life show a maturity from the group as they move away from punk to a more direct country sound.

39. Fugazi-Steady Diet of Nothing

The second full-length album from the post-hardcore band show a far more intense yet sparser sound from the band as they also delve into more political-driven lyrics. Yet, the band’s minimalist sound with just guitars, bass, and drums show that the band progressing into something much simpler but also complex in its performance. Even as the band flirts with all sorts of genres like dub and pop melodies to exemplify their willingness to move further away from hardcore.

38. Chapterhouse-Whirlpool

One of the key albums of the shoe gaze sub-genre, Chapterhouse’s debut album Whirlpool is a rich yet evocative album that is filled with a rhythmic sound and layers of noisy yet flourishing guitars. It’s a record that is features such amazing singles as Pearl and Falling Down while cuts like Treasure and April play to the dreamy tone of the record. While the band’s subsequent output hasn’t been memorable, at least they have this record to be proud of.

37. Queen-Innuendo

The band’s final album before Freddie Mercury’s death in November of 1991 may not live up to their great period of the 1970s to 1980’s The Game. Yet, the album saw the band return to their hard rock roots with such cuts as its opening title cut, Headlong, and The Hitman proving the band was going to deliver the rock music in a very grand way. Yet, the real standouts include the heartbreaking ballad These Are the Days of Our Lives and the closing song The Show Must Go On where Mercury was able to go out with a bang.

36. Throwing Muses-The Real Ramona

The band’s fourth and final studio album to feature co-founder Tanya Donelly as The Real Ramona is a record that really shows what the band is all about. While describing their music isn’t easy as it tends to go into elements of pop with dabbles of jangle-pop, folk, and alternative rock. It’s a record that really showcase what the band is about as it’s definitely one of the key albums of the alternative rock scene.

35. Natalie Cole-Unforgettable… with Love

Natalie Cole’s award-winning album has the singer paying tribute to her later father Nat King Cole by performing the standards that he’s sung. Featuring the same musicians that had played on her father’s records, Cole creates a spellbinding record that transcends the idea of pop and soul with her amazing vocal talent. Also being very faithful to these songs, the album’s great highlight is a miraculous duet between herself and her father on the song Unforgettable through the interactive digital recordings of the time which serves as a real breakthrough for pop music.

34. R.E.M.-Out of Time

The band’s seventh studio album shows the band straying away from their defining jangle-pop sound for a more dreamier sound filled with a lot of orchestral textures and taking on different genres ranging from folk and country. While the album does feature the much-maligned Shiny Happy People, there is a lot of great material in the album such as cuts like Country Feedback and Texarkana. Yet, it’s singles like Radio Song, Near Wild Heaven, and the classic Losing My Religion that has made the album one of the band’s finest of their 31-year career.

33. Ozzy Osbourne-No More Tears

Ozzy Osbourne’s sixth solo release is also one of his most successful as it’s a record that has the Prince of Darkness maintaining a heavy sound. Featuring the blazing guitar work of Zakk Wylde, it’s also one of Ozzy’s more accessible recordings in terms of vocal performance and musicianship. Plus, the production is definitely powerful on what is expected in a metal album in songs like I Don’t Want to Change the World and Zombie Stomp while the title track is one of Ozzy’s best cuts.

32. Public Enemy-Apocalypse ‘91... The Enemy Strikes Back

Often considered to be the last great album Public Enemy put out, it’s also one of their most intense in terms of its production and in the themes the band talks about. Always direct in what they had to say, the group delves into various subjects while being uncompromising in songs like Shut ‘Em Down and Can’t Truss It while By the Time I Get to Arizona is an intense attack on the state’s refusal to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Yet, the album also includes a very groundbreaking collaboration with the thrash-metal band Anthrax on a remake of the song Bring the Noise.

31. Matthew Sweet-Girlfriend

Power-pop at its finest, Matthew Sweet’s third album is also his breakthrough as it’s an album that delves into various style from folk and country while a lot of is all in the form of catchy power-pop. Inspired by his own divorce, the album is definitely reflective in its tone while also allowing Sweet to be vulnerable. Heartbreak doesn’t get any better than this as it remains the best thing Sweet has done in his career.

30. Pixies-Trompe Le Monde

The fourth and final album by the influential alternative rock band, Pixies made this record at a time when things weren’t going so well. Despite the turmoil that was going on, the album is still abrasive in its performance while adding Captain Beefheart keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman added a new dynamic to their sound. Featuring a fiery cover of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Head On, it is an album where Pixies were at least able to go out with a bang.

29. Guns N’ Roses-Use Your Illusion I & II

The third and fourth release from one of hard rock’s unsung heroes, Guns N’ Roses’ extravagant double album showcased a major shift in the band’s sound following the aggressive nature of their 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction. With Use Your Illusion I being a more varied album with elements of country, blues, and long, epic ballads in songs like Don’t Cry, November Rain, and The Garden along with an intense cover of Paul McCartney & Wings’ Live & Let Die. Use Your Illusion II was a heavier album that featured the ballad Civil War, the biting Get in the Ring, a soulful cover of Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, the intense You Could Be Mine, and the epic ballad Estranged. Still, the Use Your Illusion albums represent the band at their best.

28. Metallica-The Black Album

The band’s fifth release represented a major change for the thrash metal band. Following the intense and complex …And Justice for All back in 1988, Metallica decided to simplify their sound to something more direct. While it’s an album that continues to divide fans, there’s no denying that band manages to create something that is still heavy and loud with songs like Enter Sandman, Whenever I May Roam, and Sad But True while ballads like Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven show the range of what they could as it is the best output Metallica would release in the 1990s.

27. Kyuss-Wretch

Though it’s essentially a re-recording of the band’s demo album with a few additional cuts, Wretch would represent a more refined sound to Kyuss that would help set the wave for the stoner-metal sound that would be an underground sensation. While the raw production adds to the way the instruments sound, there is also a lot of grooves and atmospheric textures that would define that sub-genre as well as some of the music that co-founder Josh Homme would put into the band he would later form in Queens of the Stone Age.

26. N.W.A.-Niggaz4Life

The second and final full-length release from the gangsta rap legends, Niggaz4Life really showed a far more intense and broader production due to the talents of Dr. Dre whose work on the song Alwayz Into Somethin would show what he would do in his solo career. While the album lacks the strong political content of Ice Cube, who left in late 1989 for a solo career, that was prevalent in the classic Straight Outta Compton. There is still a lot of material that is very strong in terms of nihilism and chaos with some disses towards Cube while the only drawback of the album is some of the misogynistic content in its second half despite the amazing production that Dre and DJ Yella made for the record.

1991-20: 1991 in Music: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

1991-Indie: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4 - Pt. 5 - Pt. 6

The 50 Best Albums of 1991: 25-11 - 10-2 - Favorite Albums #1

© thevoid99 2011