April 30, 2019

Racer X - Street Lethal (1986) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1986 Shrapnel Records
AllMusic Review by Andy Hinds
Racer X's 1986 debut is essentially a showcase for then teenaged guitar prodigy Paul Gilbert. The opening instrumental, "Frenzy," pretty much lays the cards on the table; a mostly unaccompanied survey of Gilbert's jaw-dropping fretboard tricks, it summarizes Street Lethal's modus operandi right at the outset. Gilbert himself described Racer X as "heavy metal with scary guitars," and that's pretty much what you get -- skillfully executed, Judas Priest-style metal (with flag-waving songtitles like "Hotter Than Fire," "Loud and Clear," and "Rock It,") loaded with gobs of Gilbert's virtuosity. Vocalist Jeff Martin adds appropriately Rob Halford-esque howls to the proceedings, and the rhythm section do their part in maintaining the excitement. For fans of the "shred" guitar genre, this album has plenty to drool over.

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Racer X - Second Heat (1987) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1987 Shrapnel Reciords
AllMusic Review by Andy Hinds
Racer X's debut album, Street Lethal, established the band as little more than a vehicle for guitarist Paul Gilbert's virtuosic neo-metal soloing style. For its sophomore release, Second Heat, Racer X ups the intensity of its already terrifying instrumental attack by adding second guitarist Bruce Bouillet to the fold, thereby enabling some of the most amazing dual-guitar work ever recorded. What's more, the band has become more cohesive and have even penned some catchy songs with worthwhile melodies. Second Heat's overall style follows the well-established Judas Priest/Van Halen template (they even cover a Priest tune, "Heart of a Lion"), but each song is punctuated with detailed pyrotechnical touches from the guitarists, and the rest of the band, for that matter. While Bouillet's skill nearly matches that of Gilbert, the rhythm section of John Alderete and Scott Travis (bass and drums, respectively) proves to be one of the most formidable around. Check out the instrumental "Scarified" for a true demolition set piece. What ultimately makes Second Heat superior to its predecessor is its better-developed sense of songwriting; tracks like "Hammer Away" and "Living the Hard Way" are as good as anything else in the pop-metal arena that was popular in the late '80s. One word of warning, however: Beware of the bombastic cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" which strips away all the charm and subtlety of the original and makes the song a backdrop for (you guessed it!) more shredding. While some may find this sort of thing harmless, others may find it sacrilegious

tags: racer x, second heat, 1987, flac,

Racer X - Superheroes (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2000 Shrapnel Records
AllMusic Review by Brian O'Neill
From the outside, Superheroes seems to be a rather bizarre concept, as the band's members are all dressed to the nines in strange outfits and get accompanying odd nicknames; bassist John Aldrete is known as "The X-Tinguisher" and wears a red getup replete with several fire extinguishers. Apparently, the influential instrumentalists have watched one too many episodes of The Tick. Put the disc in the player and it's more along the lines you would expect from this virtuoso vehicle: a whole lot of shredding guitar solos courtesy of Paul Gilbert, intense drumming from Scott Travis (who rejoins the band during breaks from Judas Priest duties), and Jeff Martin's distinctive shriek. That said, there are some deviations from the norm this time out. Racer X's version of "Godzilla" is a Technicolor comeuppance of flash, truly making it their own; "Mad at the World" and the innuendo-laden "That Hormone Thing" border on hair metal commercialism, and "Evil Joe" is a sample- and quirk-laden rap-metal number. Still, you get the sense that Racer X will be relegated once again to preaching to the converted like most of the Guitar Institute set does

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Racer X - Getting Heavier (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2002 Shrapnel Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
There was a period in the late '80s where rock guitar was headed in a highly technical direction, where you'd have to practice on your instrument for hours upon hours to keep up with the players in your latest edition of Guitar for the Practicing Musician. One of the best examples of this was Racer X, which included not one but two "shredders": Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet. However, by 1989 the group was kaput when Gilbert decided to jump ship and join up with bass extraordinaire Billy Sheehan in pop metallists Mr. Big. When Racer X reunited in 2000, Gilbert assumed all the guitar duties in the band, which he obviously has no problem handling, as evidenced by such subsequent releases as 2003's Getting Heavier. Whereas some rock bands mellow as the years add up, Racer X is an exception, as they stick closely to their original game plan: highly skilled metal. In fact, they spend too much time focusing on the technical side, as the lyrics/vocals of "Lucifer's Hammer" are what you'd expect a collaboration between Nigel Tufnel and a high school metal band circa 1987 to sound like. But let's face it, it's safe to say that everyone buying a Racer X album is listening for the complex playing, not the lyrics, and there's loads of it here, especially such tracks as "Catapult to Extinction."

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Alisha's Attic - Alisha Rules The World (1996)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock
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© 1996 Mercury Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Alisha's Attic's debut album Alisha Rules the World has a few moments of appealingly off-kilter dance-pop that sounds like Prince as sung by Cyndi Lauper and performed by Kate Bush, but too often the record bogs down in its own self-conscious style and fuzzy songwriting.

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Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Indie Rock
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© 1997 Up Records
AllMusic Review by Blake Butler
Talk about original -- this band has something for just about everyone. They can do quiet, brooding acoustics like "Bankrupt on Selling," dark and pounding thrashers like "Cowboy Dan," funky jump-around emo like "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child" -- just about anything. Throughout the whole album is a white-trash feeling and a sort of down-to-earth analysis of the state of the world, without sounding pretentious. Give this album a listen and you can be sure that you will be singing the rambling, catchy, almost whiny vocals in no time. If you dig indie rock at its very best, go pick this album up.

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Modest Mouse - This Is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Indie Rock
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© 1996 Up Records
AllMusic Review by Brandon Gentry
Expanding upon the themes of emotional and geographic isolation found in the band's previous work, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About finds Modest Mouse mixing slow, brooding numbers such as "Custom Concern" and "Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset" with thrashing guitar workouts like "Breakthrough" and "Head South." The general mood here is one of loneliness and desperation, eloquently expressed through both the lyrics and the rhythmic, sprawling instrumentation. "Dramamine," for instance, with its driving, mid-tempo beat and ricocheting guitar line, sums up the hopelessness of a doomed relationship, while the frantic "Head South" deals with the feeling of "being ashamed of your old space." The mandolin, slide guitar, and cello featured throughout the album give the songs a certain degree of depth that makes them stand out from average indie rock fare. In general, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About is a fine album, and Modest Mouse distinguishes itself here with songs whose meanings are simultaneously universal and painfully personal.

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Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Indie Rock
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© 2000 Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Modest Mouse's Epic debut, The Moon & Antarctica, finds them strangely subdued, focusing on mortality as well as the moody, acoustic side of their music and downplaying the edgy rock that helped make them indie stars. Not that their first major-label release sounds like a sellout -- actually, the slight sheen of Brian Deck's production enhances the album's introspective tone -- but occasionally The Moon & Antarctica's melancholy becomes ponderous. Unfortunately, the album's middle stretch contains three such songs, "The Cold Part," "Alone Down There," and "The Stars Are Projectors," which tend to blur together into one 17-minute-long piece that bogs down the album's momentum. Individually, each of these songs is sweeping and haunting in its own right, but grouping them together blunts their impact. However, this trilogy does provide a sharp contrast to, as well as a bridge across, The Moon & Antarctica's more vibrant beginning and end. Though it explores death and the afterlife, The Moon & Antarctica's liveliest moments are its most effective. "3rd Planet"'s simple, ramshackle melody and strange, moving lyrics ("Your heart felt good"), the elastic guitars on "Gravity Rides Everything," and the angular, jumpy "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" and "A Different City" get the album off to a strong start, while the fresh, unaffected "Wild Packs of Family Dogs," "Paper Thin Walls," and "Lives" bring it to an atmospheric, affecting peak before "What People Are Made Of" closes the album with a climactic burst of noise. Their most cohesive collection of songs to date, The Moon & Antarctica is an impressive, if flawed, map of Modest Mouse's ambitions and fears.

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Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (2007)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Indie Rock
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© 2007 Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
Now that Modest Mouse have fully established themselves as a major-label indie rock band -- no longer an oxymoron! -- with the success of 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News (though they had actually been on Sony, through Epic, since 2000's The Moon & Antarctica), they face the difficult task of trying to follow up a mainstream hit while still retaining the adroit quirkiness that won them fans in the first place. Finding that space between "creativity" and "accessibility" is not easy, but the band (with help from Johnny Marr, among others) is probably as well, if not better, equipped as anyone to tackle the challenge. The first single, "Dashboard," is catchy and interesting, even a little off-kilter, but it's also completely radio-friendly, in that dancey Franz Ferdinand kind of way, and the album's opener, "March into the Sea," has great juxtaposition between Isaac Brock's maniacal Cookie Monster laugh and lighter accordion and string work. It's slightly unconventional, and has that raucous energy the band has thrived on, but it's also wholly understandable and approachable, and a lot of fun. Still, too often it seems as if Modest Mouse plays it safe on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. James Mercer, the singer of the "life-changing" Garden State darlings the Shins, shows up three times on background vocals, and while on "Florida" this works well enough, "Missed the Boat" and "We've Got Everything" are among the weakest tracks on the record, too predictable, in that radio-indie-rock style, to do much more than just take up space. There's nothing overtly wrong with them (or the similarly boring "Education" or "People as Places as People") -- Brock's lyrics are as wackily introspective as ever -- but the band had never just gotten by on being nice-sounding and unmemorable. It's not that Modest Mouse has lost it, or sold out; tracks like "Parting of the Sensory" and "Fly Trapped in a Jar" combine digestible guitar lines and phrasing with a rawer intensity, and show that the group is indeed capable of moving innovate "indie" music to the mainstream ("someday you will die somehow and something's gonna steal your carbon," Brock sings ingeniously over pounding, swirling drums in a kind of post-modern chant in "Parting"), but overall, We Were Dead Before... has chosen the safer, more acceptable route over the more adventurous one. Modest Mouse is a talented bunch, and so the album still works, is still enjoyable. But because they've built themselves on pushing boundaries and traditional sounds, it's also a glaring representation of all they could do, but won't.

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April 29, 2019

The Refreshments - Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy (1996) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1996 Mercury Records
AllMusic Review by Bryan Buss
Hailing from Tempe, AZ, the Refreshments launched their short-lived career as a solid frat boy band, and Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy captures that period with muscled guitar riffs and strong vocals. Though much of this debut is about alcohol, Mexico, and girls (topics that the band later revisited on 1997's The Bottle & Fresh Horses, albeit with a stronger southwestern influence), the album also sports a sense of humor and lack of pretension that helped make the Refreshments minor stars. Listening to "Girly" or "Banditos," the album's flagship single, is like kicking back with a college bud and a brew: summery, smirky, and somewhat yearning. The irreverence in the Refreshments' lyrics makes all the difference between them and other increasingly self-serious bands in the same vein. All the anguished grunge and post-grunge posing got old fast -- and with clever lyrics, solidly melodic guitar work, and Roger Clyne's marketable voice, the Refreshments kept fun alive on the alternative scene throughout the decade's latter half.

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The Refreshments - The Bottle & Fresh Horses (1997)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1997 Mercury Records
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey
For their second album, the Refreshments moved away from the half-serious alt-rock that made their debut effort Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy (specifically its caper-chronicling single, "Banditos") a minor hit. With the assistance of producer Paul Leary -- who helped his own band, Butthole Surfers, crack the Top 40 charts one year prior -- the group dreamed up an earnest, dustier sound, blending heartland rock & roll with elements of country and power-pop. Tracks like "Wanted" and "Preacher's Daughter" spun tales of western outlaws with poppy precision -- including handclaps, bright vocal harmonies, and crisp guitars -- while "Dolly" and "Good Year" were raw, hook-driven rock songs that went sorely unnoticed on modern rock radio. Although The Bottle & Fresh Horses effectively marked the end of the Refreshments, the album still encouraged frontman Roger Clyne to stretch his country legs, an opportunity that served him well several years later, when he launched the twangy follow-up project Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. Meanwhile, likeminded groups like the Old 97's enjoyed a greater degree of success with the very same hybrid of rock, country, and pop, but The Bottle & Fresh Horses never really caught fire outside of the band's Arizona home, and it failed to maintain the Refreshments' place in the post-grunge mainstream. Accordingly, consider this record one of the best forgotten gems of its time

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The Breeders - Title TK (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 2002 4AD/Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
For most of the '90s, the Breeders seemed resigned to being just a part of alternative rock's mythology: a lightning-in-a-bottle success story that helped define the era's sound and spawned a classic single before disappearing into substance abuse and a severe case of writer's block. By the end of the decade, hearing new material from Kim Deal and company seemed about as likely as a new My Bloody Valentine album, so the fact that Title TK, their long-awaited return, exists at all seems more than a little miraculous. In a weird way, the long, long wait for them to resurface works in their favor -- at this point, it's welcome to hear anything from them. After a nine-year (!) wait, a new Breeders album is just a nice addition to what's going on in indie rock instead of its salvation. From its very name, Title TK (journalistic shorthand for "title to come") reflects this: it's a surprisingly low-key, self-effacing return that doesn't feel like an attempt at reclaiming Last Splash's glory. Instead, it blends the stripped-down sounds of Pod and the Amps' Pacer into a collection of strangely intimate, feminine garage rock. Steve Albini's quick- and cheap-sounding production throws a spotlight on the weathered, offhand quality of Kim Deal's voice -- which is more sandpaper than sugar nowadays -- as well as every quirk in the band's playing. Even revved-up guitar rushes like "Little Fury" and "Huffer" have a little vulnerability lurking around the edges, and on the sweet "Too Alive," it sounds like you're in the garage with the band. There's a fascinating duality to Title TK, from the way that nearly every song mixes and blends Kim's and Kelley's not-quite-identical vocals to the way it switches between sweet, playfully spiky songs like "Son of Three" and "Forced to Drive" and dark, mysterious tracks. With its brooding, druggy allure, "The She" recalls Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," and "Put On a Side" and the aptly named "Sinister Foxx" have a sexy menace that the Breeders haven't explored since Pod. "Off You," Title TK's first single, is about as far from "Cannonball" as the band can get, a dreamy, breathy ballad that sounds intimate but masks its feelings in beautifully cryptic imagery. Very much a take-it-or-leave-it work, Title TK doesn't even try to live up to fans' inflated expectations of what a Breeders album should be -- though the band may not have spent the entire nine years they were gone crafting this album, it feels like the only album they could make after such a long wait. Title TK isn't always a flattering portrait of the Breeders, but it is an admirably honest one.

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The Breeders - All Nerve (2018)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Noise Rock
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© 2018 4AD
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
The Breeders have always moved to their own rhythms, starting, stopping, and surprising listeners along the way. New music from them only arrives when the time is right, and in All Nerve's case, it was especially right: in 2013, Kim and Kelley Deal reunited with drummer Jim McPherson and bassist Josephine Wiggs to tour as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of their breakthrough album, Last Splash, and the dates went so well that the band went into the studio. At times, All Nerve does hark back to 1993. The way "Nervous Mary" slowly draws listeners into the album before kicking into high gear is a classic Breeders move. "Spacewoman," with its sun-soaked imagery and loud-quiet-loud dynamic shifts, is a power ballad made for the mosh pit, while the tender to roaring "All Nerve" is the kind of plainspoken song about a big, big love that has always been one of Kim Deal's specialties. Then there's "Wait in the Car," one of the band's most irresistible singles. As Deal fails to find the right words and meows while the guitars strut and tumble, it's as brashly charming as "Cannonball" -- and proves the Breeders haven't lost the ability to make their audience wish they could be best friends with them.
However, All Nerve isn't so much a conscious attempt to re-create the past as it is the rekindling of a special chemistry. That chemistry is especially strong when the Breeders try new things. Wiggs gets her first lead vocal on an album track with "MetaGoth," and her unflappable cool gives it a dark, restless post-punk beauty that isn't like anything else in the Breeders' songbook. Meanwhile, "Dawn: Making an Effort" is as vast and hopeful as a sunrise, with an openness that's all the more heartwarming because it's so unexpected. The band even finds creative ways of dealing with the feelings of mortality and history that accompany this kind of reunion on "Walking with a Killer," a deceptively pretty tale of murder in the cornfields, and "Blues at the Acropolis," which superimposes modern junkies and drunks with dead heroes of the past. The decade-long gap between All Nerve and Mountain Battles was the Breeders' longest hiatus yet, but it was time well spent -- this is one of the band's finest blends of sugar and swagger, space and noise. All Nerve lives up to its name: the Breeders' one-of-a-kind toughness and vulnerability are the heart of their music, and that it's still beating strong is cause for celebration.

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The Breeders - Pod (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 1990 4AD
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
On their 1990 debut album Pod, the Breeders -- led by the Pixies' Kim Deal and Throwing Muses' Tanya Donelly -- prove that they have more potential, and more fun, than the average side project. In fact, thanks to the album's creative songwriting, immediate production (courtesy of Surfer Rosa producer Steve Albini), and clever arrangements, Pod is a fresher and more successful work than the Pixies' Bossanova and the Muses' Hunkpapa, their main projects' releases from around that time. Though the album doesn't feature as many of Donelly's contributions as was originally planned -- which was part of the reason she formed Belly a few years later -- songs like "Iris" and "Lime House" blend the best of the Pixies' elliptical punk and the Muses' angular pop. Pod reaffirms what a distinctive songwriter Deal is, and how much the Pixies missed out on by not including more of her material on their albums. With their unusual subjects -- "Hellbound" is about a living abortion -- and quirky-but-direct sound, songs like "Opened" and "When I Was a Painter" could have easily fit on Doolittle or Bossanova. But the spare, sensual "Doe," "Fortunately Gone," and "Only in Threes" are more lighthearted and good-natured than the work of Deal's other band, pointing the way to the sexy, clever alternative pop she'd craft on Last Splash. A vibrantly creative debut, Pod remains the Breeders' most genuine moment.

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The Breeders - Last Splash (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Noise Rock
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© 1993 4AD
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Thanks to good timing and some great singles, the Breeders' second album, Last Splash, turned them into the alternative rock stars that Kim Deal's former band, the Pixies, always seemed on the verge of becoming. Joined by Deal's twin sister Kelley -- with whom Kim started the band while they were still in their teens -- the group expanded on the driving, polished sound of the Safari EP, surrounding its (plentiful) moments of brilliance with nearly as many unfinished ideas. When Last Splash is good, it's great: "Cannonball"'s instantly catchy collage of bouncy bass, rhythmic stops and starts, and singsong vocals became one of the definitive alt-pop singles of the '90s. Likewise, the sweetly sexy "Divine Hammer" and swaggering "Saints" are among the Breeders' finest moments, and deserved all of the airplay they received. Similarly, the charming twang of "Drivin' on 9," "I Just Wanna Get Along"'s spiky punk-pop, and the bittersweet "Invisible Man" added depth that recalled the eclectic turns the band took on Pod while maintaining the slick allure of Last Splash's hits. However, underdeveloped snippets such as "Roi" and "No Aloha" drag down the album's momentum, and when the band tries to stretch its range on the rambling, cryptic "Mad Lucas" and "Hag," it tends to fall flat. The addition of playful but slight instrumentals such as "S.O.S" and "Flipside" and a version of "Do You Love Me Now?" that doesn't quite match the original's appeal reflect Last Splash's overall unevenness. Still, its best moments -- and the Deal sisters' megawatt charm -- end up outweighing its inconsistencies to make it one of the alternative rock era's defining albums

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Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience (1992) ☠

*Second pressing with an alternate cover. 
Contains 12 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1992 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson
The Gin Blossoms were one of the more truly damned rock & roll bands to grace the pop charts in the 1990s. The group was founded and spiritually led by singer-guitarist Doug Hopkins, who also wrote the band's best songs; however, by the time New Miserable Experience marked the band's major-label debut in 1992, Hopkins had been kicked out (his bandmates had apparently tired of dealing with his alcoholism). Hopkins killed himself shortly thereafter, and the band later enjoyed the biggest hit of its career with "'Til I Hear It From You" (which, perversely, never appeared on a Gin Blossoms album, but only on the Empire Records soundtrack -- and was written by outside writer Marshall Crenshaw to boot). The band dropped from sight not long after.
Released during the heyday of grunge music, New Miserable Experience remains the best and most representative document of the group's existence, a tight and lean collection of brilliant, edgy pop music that was markedly different from the bulk of 1992's modern rock albums. "Hey Jealousy" and "Until I Fall Away" are the two songs that leave the deepest impression -- and, appropriately, both were successful singles -- but the crunchy, jangled melodicism and lyrical desperation of "Hold Me Down" is similarly notable. Two dilettantish genre pieces -- "Cajun Song" and a country weeper called "Cheatin'" (as in "you can't call it cheatin' 'cause she reminds me of you") -- provide the program's two low points, but even those aren't completely without charm.

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Gin Blossoms - Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1996 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Most observers wondered if the Gin Blossoms would be able to deliver a consistent second album after the departure (and subsequent suicide) of Doug Hopkins, their former guitarist who wrote "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You," the two big hits from the band's debut. Congratulations...I'm Sorry proves that they can. The Gin Blossoms haven't backed away from the sound that made New Miserable Experience a hit. It's filled with chiming guitars, sweet melodies, and simple, catchy hooks, as well as a sturdy grasp of traditional pop/rock songwriting that results in a number of gems. The only fault of Congratulations...I'm Sorry is that it sounds a bit too close to the debut -- there's virtually no difference in terms of style and production. As such, it builds a case for their craftsmanship. The Gin Blossoms may not have much new to say, but they say it well throughout Congratulations...I'm Sorry.

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April 28, 2019

Arctic Monkeys - AM (2013) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Indie Rock, Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2013 Domino USA
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
If Arctic Monkeys launched a tentative retreat on Suck It & See, their first effort after being seduced by Josh Homme, the group once again forge ahead into bold new territory on AM, their fifth album. Neatly splitting the difference between the band's two personalities -- the devotees of barbed British pop and disciples of curdled heavy rock -- AM consolidates Arctic Monkeys strengths, a tricky task in and of itself, but the band pushes further, incorporating unapologetic glam stomps, fuzzy guitars, and a decidedly strong rhythmic undercurrent. At times, AM pulses to a distinctly danceable rhythm -- "Fireplace" percolates while "Why Do You Only Call Me When You're High" simmers and "Knee Socks" nearly rivals Franz Ferdinand in disco rock -- but this isn't an album made for nights out; it's a soundtrack for nights in. Too much of Alex Turner's mind is preoccupied with love gone wrong, jealousy, and general misanthropy, so even when he's singing about a "No. 1 Party Anthem," he's doing so with a nearly visible sneer. Such an undercurrent of cynicism makes AM an ideal album to listen to under the cover of darkness, but due to the Arctic Monkeys' muscular wallop and musical restlessness, it never feels like the band is wallowing in bleakness. Instead, this is vibrant, moody music that showcases a band growing ever stronger with each risk and dare they take.

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Deicide - Till Death Do Us Part (2008)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2008 Earache
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Just four years after being placed on life support (again) by most critics due to the departure of long-serving twin guitarists Eric and Brian Hoffman, Deicide's career appears to be very much back on track, as if any other scenario were possible for a band whose leader -- Glen Benton -- once branded an inverted cross into his forehead. Their third album for Earache, Till Death Do Us Part, even addresses this refusal to surrender with its title, then attempts to live up to PR billings describing it as Deicide's "fastest, most brutal album ever!" Needless to say, fans will never reach an agreement on whether this is true, but all will invariably consent that it's pretty darn fast, pretty darn brutal -- just not during the slow-building instrumental opener, "The Beginning of the End," nor the terrific ensuing title track. The latter's mid-paced menace is nevertheless an album highlight, in advance of some truly devastating, inexorable death metal sprints like "Hate of All Hatreds," "Severed Ties," and "Angel of Agony." Another strike against these (and other decapitating cuts like "In the Eyes of God" and "Worthless Misery") in terms of the "most ever" claim is that recently added guitarists Jack Owen and Ralph Santolla solo with inherent musicality, rather than pursuing the scorch and shriek, Slayer-like technique preferred by the Hoffmans before them, but some listeners may actually prefer the added contrast their melodic sensibilities provide. All speeds -- fast, sort of fast, and really, really fast -- get a little airtime on the album's arguable climax, the sensory holocaust "Not as Long as We Both Shall Live," and perhaps as some kind of insurance against future six-string shenanigans, even drummer Steven Asheim is invited to join in on the lead guitar action now and then, really taking charge for "Horror in the Halls of Stone." By the time concluding instrumental "The End of the Beginning" puts the icing on Deicide's latest blackened cake, fans may just be looking at this storied band's most consistent and satisfying release in over a decade.

tags: deicide, till death do us part, 2008, flac,

Deicide - To Hell With God (2011)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2011 Century Media
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Isn't it ironic how some 20-plus years after introducing Deicide's uncompromising death metal agenda to the world via their debut album's merciless first track, "Lunatic of God's Creation," it is actually bandleader Glen Benton who's become a prisoner of this Satan-worshiping caricature of his own creation? While most of Deicide's original death metal co-legionaries gave themselves enough wiggle room to mature, evolve artistically, or simply grow the f**k up, Benton and his dead-eye-staring bandmates accepted the pressure of continually outdoing themselves in search of the next, most brutal sound and controversial lyric, only limiting their musical horizons in the process. But hey, some people like their death metal just so: more brutal and controversial than the next guy -- and this has helped keep Deicide's career afloat (if occasionally just barely) long enough to see the release of the group's tenth studio platter, To Hell with God (a dig at Stryper's To Hell with the Devil LP, perhaps?), after numerous delays and false starts. Unfortunately, even within the aforementioned limited scope of Deicide's frequently indistinct discography, To Hell with God is a particularly featureless and forgettable collection, the band spewing track after projectile-vomited track of blastbeaten death metal crowned with Benton's familiarly hoarse raving and occasionally sparked by fluid melodic solos from short-tenured guitarist Ralph Santolla. Only its bookends, the opening title track and closing "How Can You Call Yourself a God," plus to a lesser extent the more dynamic "Conviction" and "Hang in Agony Until You're Dead" (how subtle: no guess as to what that one's about!) show any staying power, when all is said and done. Again, mosh-pit lifers who crave such frill-free extreme metal horrors may well be pleased with just that, but in a world where similarly uncompromising death metal bands like, say, Behemoth or Krisiun, can consistently inject variety and imagination into the form -- albeit not without difficulty -- is it wrong to harbor higher expectations?

tags: deicide, to hell with god, 2011, flac,

Deicide - In The Minds of Evil (2013)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2013 Century Media
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
In the Minds of Evil, the 11th long-player from venerable Tampa, Florida-based death metal prognosticators Deicide, invokes the bluesy, blistering, and robust cacophony of early albums like Legion (1992) and Once Upon the Cross (1995). The first outing for the group to feature guitarist Kevin Quirion, who joined the band on the road in 2011 in support of that year's relatively lackluster To Hell with God, In the Minds of Evil features 11 high-quality slabs of muscular, vintage-sounding death metal with highlights arriving via the groove-laden title cut, the neck-snapping "Misery of One," and the brash, blasphemous, and nearly hummable "Kill the Light of Christ."

tags: deicide, in the minds of evil, 2013, flac,

For Real - Free (1996) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1996 Rowdy Records
AllMusic Review by Leo Stanley
For Real's second album, Free, is an exceptional set of contemporary R&B that straddles the line between swingbeat and old-school vocal harmonies. Even when the songs are weak, the quintet sings with passion and conviction, making Free a joyous, infectious record.

tags: for real, free, free album, 199, flac,