AOTWs: Special Pre-Re-Release Edition

Coincidentally or not, just in time for upcoming holiday season,  a few albums are up for re-release this month.  Re-mastered, and each with a slew of new previously unreleased bonus tracks.  Most definitely this is a trend these days, and i still can’t figure out exactly what the reasoning is.  More money, certainly.  A celebration of a classic album, a chance to correct what they may have gotten wrong the first time.  Introducing a classic album from musicians whose time has passed to a new generation,  an excuse for a tour.  A service to fans and other interested parties by releasing tracks that didn’t make the album cut.  So maybe it’s worth a review of the albums as they were before tackling the  new incarnations. Continue reading

AOTW: The Cult – Love

Does the Spill still do AOTWs? Ok then, do we do proper rock albums? (be nice, you hecklers in the front).

1985. MTV Launched stateside in 1984. The US was flooded with pretty Britpoppers making pretty Britsongs. A quick gander at the top tunes of the year shows the charts populated with the likes of AHA, Simple Minds, Wham, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Thompson Twins, Sting, etc. Meanwhile rocks offerings were neutered down to the likes of Starship, REO Speedwagon, Bryan Adams, and Foreigner. (Thank fuck for Prince and the Smiths).

A somewhat recent (ok, so it’s been 2 years by now) university grad sits catatonically in front of MTV. Somewhere in between drooling over Power Station and AHA videos, the strains of a Within You Without You-ish guitar intro leads into another band setup that’s very pretty indeed. The lead singer looks like he wandered into the video from the Summer of Love. Guitarist switched at birth with Dolph Lundgren. But wait a minute…that sounds like proper hard rock! And it’s so pretty! Sweet balm indeed to RTJ’s poor rock starved ears. Continue reading

AOTW: Bran Van 3000 – Discosis

Not sure we’re really going to sustain this as a regular feature (Album of the Fortnight, maybe?), but I’ll give it a damn good shot…

I’m nomming this 2001 album not because I love it (though bits of it I most definitely do) but because it’s a curio. It’s certainly outside my usual sphere of listening pleasure, but then I suspect that would be the case for anyone, given its mind-boggling diversity (Northern Soul, world music, old-skool hiphop, a bit of reggae…).

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AOTW: Nathan Fake – Drowning In A Sea Of Love (2006)

Been a while since we’ve had electronic music as AOTW (probably because most of you don’t like it). Nathan Fake’s (real name) Drowning In A Sea Of Love is in the box. To get you warmed up, here is an epic remix of one of the album tracks by James Holden & a Grasscut remix Nathan did earlier this year. For more info & some free downloads, check out: http://www.nathanfake.co.uk/content/

AOTW: Roddy Woomble – My Secret Is My Silence

For those who don’t know, Roddy “Improbable Surname” Woomble is the lead singer of Scottish rock band, Idlewild. Bar the odd single (most notably “American English”), their stuff has never really grabbed me, but I think this album is an absolute gem. It’s not clever or flashy – in fact, it’s the complete opposite of flashy: it’s mainly quiet, contemplative, organic-sounding folk-rock. And it’s lovely.

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AotW: REM – Fables of the Reconstruction

Picking a favourite REM album is like picking a favourite Dylan or Beatles album. You could make convincing arguments for half a dozen of them. Their third LP, released a quarter of a century ago this year, divides opinion, but it tops my list fairly often.

Recorded with Joe Boyd over a dismal winter in London, it’s not an easy album. It’s murky, dense, introverted. It’s also unique, quirky, and beautiful. I’m hard-pressed to think of any album that starts with four stronger tracks than “Feeling Gravitys Pull”, “Maps And Legends”, “Driver 8″ and “Life And How To Live It” (it gets odder after that…)

I won’t try and better this fantastic appreciation from Drowned in Sound, which puts the album in context and deconstructs some of Stipe’s more elliptical lyrics. If you’re even vaguely interested, I’d highly recommend it.

If you only really know the FM-friendly global megastars REM became (and who, mind, I won’t hear a word against), then this album should surprise you. If you’re a fan of their early years, I’d be fascinated to hear how you rate this one.

A remastered version, released this year, shines a light into some of the darker corners: it’s on Spotify. I’ve boxed the original, or you can listen here:

AOTW: Rain Machine

This is Rain Machine’s self-titled album. Rain Machine is Kyp Malone from TV On The Radio’s mostly solo, mostly acoustic album. If you think TVOTR’s music is over-produced this might be more to your liking. If you like TVOTR already, you might also like this. To be honest I haven’t really listened to it properly, but a few songs have caught my ear already, so maybe we can do it together. Come on, let’s hold hands.

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