Sunday, March 20, 2005

Music I've Been Listening To

In the ongoing journey through life you encounter many things, and in my recent journeys, I've been listening to some new albums.

Daft Punk - Human After All: Discovery by Daft Punk is one of my favorite albums of all time. It's a brilliant concoction of music that simultaneously sounds like it's from the 70s, the 80s and the future. It walks the line of campiness, but never strays too far. 'Digital Love' is one of the greatest songs of all time. So, understandably I had high hopes for Daft Punk's new album, Human After All. I have sort of mixed feelings about the album. On the one hand, it's great fun to listen to and has some excellent tracks, notably 'Robot Rock' and 'Human After All,' but it's also disappoiinting since it doesn't even approach what Discovery did. If this was just the follow up to 'Homework,' I would probably like it a lot more since I wouldn't be expecting that much. But Discovery is such a great album, I can't help but feel disappointed. A lot of the tracks have very cool elements, but they're not played with in the same way previous Daft Punk songs were. There's not enough variation. But, remove this from its context, and it's a really nice techno, and one I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to, and probably will far into the future. I think I just have to admit that Discovery is something of a standalone creation, and enjoy it for what it is, rather than seek more of the same.

Gwen Stefani - Love, Angel, Music, Baby: Speaking of Discovery, that's an album that did a great job of sounding simultaneously retro and very now. And with her solo album, Gwen Stefani pulls off the same, with the greatest 80s album never made. Now, I liked some of No Doubt's stuff, but other than a few tracks (Hella Good, Hey Baby, It's My Life), they didn't really grab me. But, after hearing the opening track off this album, 'What You Waiting For,' I was intrigued, and I got the rest of the album, and it did not disappoint. I love the 80s sound, but a lot of tracks from the 80s just aren't that good, this album gives you everything you would want from an 80s song, but also brings it subtly into the present day. This is one of the few albums where the singles aren't the best tracks on the album. 'Rich Girl,' which is pretty popular on radio right now, is probably the worst track, and even at that, it's still great. The album has an incredible pop sound and is just so fun to listen to.

This is an album where pretty much every track is great. 'What You Waiting For' is a great energetic opener, and after a couple of weaker hip hop type tracks, she busts out the first 80s ballad, 'Cool,' which reminds me a lot of Yazoo's 'Only You,' but also stands on its own. The use of synth in this song is beautiful, it belongs in a Wong Kar-Wai film. 'Bubble Pop Electric' with Andre 3000 is pretty bizarre, but lives up to the title with some bubbly pop. It's a smart, fun song. 'Luxurious' uses the same sample as 'Big Papa,' but it puts it in a different context and makes it work. This leads into a four song run that is perfect. 'Crash' continues the car as sex metaphor, the lyrics may not be groundbreaking but the song works. 'Real Thing' is an update of New Order, featuring a cameo by them, and it may be the best song on the album. Gorgeous guitar work, great vocal, it works. 'Serious' also deserves props. Then, 'Danger Zone' is hard hitting synthpop that just owns. It's a track that begs for an extended remix, since it's got an absoultely killer riff, and great use of bass. The last track's the only real dud, sounding like a reject from 'The Love Below,' but that doesn't stop this from being one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. Good pop music is an art, and with this album, Gwen proves she's a master of it. Retro without being dated, it's an album that seems effortless. This really is a must listen to album.

Doves - Some Cities: Another great album from one of the best bands at work. 'The Last Broadcast' is one of my favorite albums of all time, so I was hoping for an equally great followup and the Doves pretty much deliver. I don't think it's quite as good as Broadcast, but with each listen it's growing on me. They do some really interesting things on here that pay off quite well. There's an odd vocal processing on Snowdon that's great and makes the track. 'The Storm' goes for an almost trip hop feel in the middle, and that really works. 'Black and White Town' and 'Sky Starts Falling' are great rocking tracks and 'Almost Forgot Myself' has a nice upbeat melancholy. 'Walk in Fire' is a great track, but sounds a bit too similar to 'There Goes the Fear,' and the middle of the album slows down a bit too much. That said, it's still an awesome album and a worthy followup to The Last Broadcast. I'm really looking forward to seeing them live on my birthday.

Related Posts
Daft Punk (2/17/2005)
Doves Live (5/21/2005)

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