Year 5, Day 22: Metallica’s “Black” Album

Year 5, Day 22: Metallica – Metallica

1991

Track List

  1. Enter Sandman
  2. Sad but True
  3. Holier Than Thou
  4. The Unforgiven
  5. Wherever I May Roam
  6. Don’t Tread On Me
  7. Through the Never
  8. Nothing Else Matters
  9. Of Wolf and Man
  10. The God That Failed
  11. My Friend of Misery
  12. The Struggle Within

About the Album

Metallica or more commonly referred to as The Black Album, is the self-titled fifth album from heavy metal band, Metallica. The album was recorded from October 6th 1990 to June 16th 1991 and released August 12th 1991 through Elektra Records. The album peaked at number on several charts around the world and on the Billboard 200. The album is certified 16x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It’s the band’s most successful album to date.

Thoughts on the Album

Metallica, the self-titled fifth album from Metallica is considered to be the band’s most commercially successful album, but most controversial among their fans. Why would it be considered to be controversial by the band’s fans? Probably because the album marks a shift in sound from and style from previous albums. Gone were the blistering riffs and thrashing drums and entering a more mature and “radio-friendly” sound. The band also won their first GRAMMY Award with this album.

The album opens with the eerie rocker, Enter Sandman. Starting off with some clean and eerie guitar riffs that are accompanied by wah-wah effect throughout. The song picks up with thumping and powerful drums. The song is so much different from their previous work, and recognizable from the very first listen. The outcome of the song is an interesting and impressive one where the only semblance to previous work is a blistering and electrifying guitar solo. Completing the eerie theme is a vocal bridge that has frontman James Hetfield praying with a child. But it’s the rhythm guitar that powers and carries the song until the very end.

The Unforgiven, opens with something rare for the band: an acoustic opening. The acoustic opening gives away to a power metal ballad. Up until the verse, this soft opening plays and gives way to power and distortion. You can really feel the angst, distress, and anger in Hetfield’s lyrics and vocals. Wherever I May Roam is an interesting track. It has an atmosphere about it. The sitar effect on the guitar gives it an interest sound that gives way to distortion. The drums accompany the guitar and power the song excellently. The Unforgiven and Wherever I May Roam are an excellent mid-album pairing that helps keep the album from getting bogged down.

The real star and gem of the album is the powerful Nothing Else Matters. The lyrical emotion and the guitar melody are great and provide an edge to the song. The drums are powerful and simple and work with the bass to keep the rhythm moving. The solo at the end of the solo really provides some great emotion and helps take the track out on an emotional high note.

Conclusion

It’s obvious to see why this album has been so successful. It has easy accessability for those getting into metal, but manages to keep it’s heavy edge. It marks an maturation for the band: gone are the thunderous and blistering lightning-paced riffs, in are heavy and and powerful power chords. While the album does get repetitive at times, and does drag along at times, there is so much variation that those negatives don’t detract from the positives. It’s easy to see why the band’s popularity exploded with this album. The album is one of the best, if not the best of the 1990s.

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Year 5, Day 21: The Donots Stop the Clocks with “Coma Chameleon”

Year 5, Day 21: Donots – Coma Chameleon

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Track List

  1. There’s A Tunnel at the End of the Light
  2. Break My Stride
  3. Pick Up the Pieces
  4. Headphones
  5. New Hope for the Dead
  6. Anything
  7. To Hell With Love
  8. Stop the Clocks
  9. The Right Kind of Wrong
  10. This Is Not a Drill
  11. Killing Time
  12. Somewhere, Someday

About the Album

Coma Chameleon is the seventh studio album from German punk band, the Donots. The album was released on March 28th 2008 throughout Europe through Solitary Man Records.

Thoughts on the Album

Veterans of the German punk scene, the Donots are no strangers to producing good punk albums. But with 2008’s Coma Chameleon, it marked a departure from the high flying, blistering, loud, and in-your-face punk rock to a more melancholic alternative rock. The album is a much more darker sound than that of their previous six albums. For those that enjoyed their previous six albums, this one may sound jarring, but that’s alright. The sound is much more mature and “grown up”. At some point a band needs to experiment with different sounds and styles to find out what works.

The album isn’t as much pop-punk as it is an evolution into alternative rock. While the catchy sing-along choruses aren’t as prevalent, they are still found on the album, especially with the singles Stop the Clocks and The Right Kind of Wrong. But from the lead single, Break My Stride, you develop a floating stream of consciousness that climaxes with Stop the Clocks. Break My Stride is a fast paced rocking track that channels the band’s previous work. Stop the Clocks, however is a more of an arena rocker and traverses into ballad territory. From there you have the punk rocker, Pick Up the Pieces and the hip hop influenced Headphones. The latter of which has a strong electric bass beat.

Conclusion

Overall, Coma Chameleon is a heck of a transitional album. While it moves on from the loud and proud punk of Got the Noise and eventually improves into the anthemic The Long Way HomeComa Chameleon holds it’s own. It’s not a bad album, but it’s not great. It’s good. It has it’s flaws and turn some hardcore punk rockers off, but it does have appeal to it. It’s an album whose lyrics are nearly “universal” to the point in which everyone can understand and will relate to them. Coma Chameleon is the definition of a DIY, do-it-yourself effort. Definitely worthy of the effort.

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Year 5, Day 20: Mayday Parade has “A Lesson in Romantics”

Year 5, Day 20: Mayday Parade – A Lesson in Romantics”

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Track List

  1. Jamie All Over
  2. Black Cat
  3. When I Get Home, You’re So Dead
  4. Jersey
  5. If You Wanted A Song Written About You, All You Had to Do Was Ask
  6. Miserable at Best
  7. Walk on Water or Drown
  8. Ocean and Atlantic
  9. I’d Hate to Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About
  10. Take This to Heart
  11. Champagne’s for Celebrating (I’ll Have a Martini)
  12. You Be the Anchor That Keeps My Feet on the Ground, I’ll Be the Wings That Keep Your Heart in the Clouds

About the Album

A Lesson in Romantics is the debut studio album from Florida based pop-punk band, Mayday Parade. The album was recorded in January of 2007 and released on July 10th, 2007 through Fearless Records. The album peaked at number eight on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart and at number 31 on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart.

Thoughts on the Album

There is something you need to understand about pop-punk. A single, deep, and underlying premise: pop-punk isn’t trying to change music or the  world. Nope. The earlier you understand that premise, the sooner you can appreciate and enjoy the music. That said, today’s album, Mayday Parade‘s A Lesson in Romantics, is like most pop-punk albums… except a hell of a lot better.

From the first listen the album is chock- full of heavy hooks. That is something that A Lesson in Romantics does excellently. Catchiness is the name of the game. The mainstay of this album are it’s memorable hooks. Words to describe said hooks: breathless, melodic, and rhythmically brilliant. Not on song on the album will escape from your grasp. A prime example of this is with the opening track Jamie All Over. The track is cover, with the original song from a band by the name of Kid Named ChicagoJamie All Over, instantly got stuck in my head. The passionate howls combined with broken guitar riffs and pounding drums work extremely well when merged together. Jamie All Over serves as one of the two end brackets with the album closer You Be the Anchor…You Be the Anchor has some soft-speak and melodramatic vocals.It’s a track that hangs on the border of being pretentious, but manages to stay on the right side of that fine line. The soft-spoken verses give away to choruses that are buoyed by arpeggiated guitar riffs that can be heard elsewhere on the album.

What keeps this album from going into mediocrity you may ask? It’s keeping it simple methodology. Simple sing-a-long vocals and riffs keep this album afloat. Black Cat is a prime example of this.It is a song that has nothing about it. It’s pretty bland. But the hook is what saves the song… which is a rarity.

The album follows a formula and sticks to the formula most of the time. The drumming makes sure that the emotion matches track for track. The drumming makes sure the angry songs sound angry and desperate (If You Wanted A Song…) and the contemplative songs stay on their feet and always compelling (I’d Hate to Be You…).The vocals don’t sound too over-produced, with a quality about them, that even when shouted, are some of the most convincing lyrics and vocals of the decade.

Conclusion

For a 45 minute album, A Lesson in Romantics powers through those 45 minutes. Never does it drag along or lose it’s pace. The hooks, the heart, and everything else about this album are so well executed, it blows competitors out of the water. The is enough variety to keep this from becoming an album that sounds the same. Mayday Parade and A Lesson in Romantics sets the bar (incredibly) high for a genre where millions are trying to do the same thing.

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Year 5, Day 19: Pearl Jam gives rise to alternative rock with “Ten”

Year 5, Day 19: Pearl Jam – Ten

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Track List

  1. Once
  2. Even Flow
  3. Alive
  4. Why Go
  5. Black
  6. Jeremy
  7. Oceans
  8. Porch
  9. Garden
  10. Deep
  11. Release

About the Album

Ten is the debut album from Seattle based alternative rock band, Pearl Jam. The album was recorded from March 27th 1991 through April 26th 1991 and released on August 27th, 1991 through Epic Records. In 1992, the album reached number two on the Billboard 200. The album has sold well over 10 million copies and is certified 13x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It is to date, the band’s most successful album commercially.

Thoughts on the album

Pearl Jam is part of triumvirate of Seattle based grunge and alternative rock bands: Nirvana and Soundgarden. While Nirvana is often credited with bringing grunge and alternative rock into the mainstream, one shouldn’t underestimate today’s album in keeping alt rock there. Ten is considered to be one of the pinnacle grunge and alternative rock albums of the 1990s.

Everything about Ten is almost perfect. The guitar work, the bass grooves, the pounding drums, and the crisp, sharp, and guttural vocals. Frontman Eddie Vedder‘s voice is just as magnificent as it is impressive. His deep voice seems to soar about contemporaries at the time. With every word sung, you can get a sense of the raw emotion and power. Not uncommon are animalistic shrieks and guttural howls, as Vedder’s vocal style seems to hard animosity on harder tracks like Once and Even Flow. His voice carries the slower more ballady type tracks like Black or Oceans. To compliment his excellent vocals, Vedder is an excellent songwriter, who Pearl Jam would not sound or be the same with those skills. He is able to express angst and and anger through his musical stylings.

The guitar work of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard are impressive as well, making them a force to be reckoned with. The riffs found throughout Ten are catchy yet hard-hitting… prime examples are the riffs found on Even Flow, Once, and Deep. You get a sense of the emotion through heavy distortion, but not so much distortion where it just drowns out the rest of the instruments. The (two minute long) solo (and masterpiece) on Alive is as emotional as it is unique. You can see how effects pedals add to the overall excellence of the album as heard with Deep and Jeremy. The dual guitarists give the album a huge sound… one that gives off arena rock vibe, but the distortion reins it back in to grunge.

While the guitars and vocals take front and center stage on the album, we can forget about the rhythm section. The drum work isn’t exactly all that technical, but the use of snare drum and cymbals disguises the lack of technical ability. The drum groove of Even Flow is highly infectious that when combined with the equally infectious guitar riff, makes for a dynamite one-two punch. While the bass lines are great, they don’t get drowned out, but they do get overpowered sometimes by the guitars. When the bass does become more audible, it makes for an all around great experience, example: Why Go. When the bass and drum combine on a track like Why Go, you can really tell just how well-written and catchy they are.

Conclusion

26 years later, Ten stands the test of time. It obvious that it was a successful album commercially as it was easily accessible grunge rock that turned into alternative rock. It is a classic album that features magnificent instrumentation, vocals, and songwriting. It is a spectacular musical experience that has yet to be topped. There is plenty of variety on the album from fast paced rockers like Even FlowOnce, Deep, and Why Go. To slower more ballady type tracks like Oceans and Release; to slower epics like Alive and Jeremy. It’s album that you can really feel the catharsis. The only problem of releasing album of this magnitude is trying to live up to it. Either way, Ten is an album that help propel grunge and eventually alternative rock into the mainstream.  A classic.

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Year 5, Day 18: Here Comes Alex, the German “A Clockwork Orange” concept album

Year 5, Day 18: Die Toten Hosen – Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau

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Track List

  1. Hier kommt Alex
  2. 1000 gute Gründe
  3. Ein Schritt zuviel
  4. Keine Ahnung
  5. Die Farbe Grau
  6. 180 Grad
  7. Mehr Davon
  8. Zahltag
  9. 35 Jahre
  10. Musterbeispiel
  11. Testbild
  12. Bye, bye Alex

About the Album

Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau is the six album from German punk rock band, Die Toten Hosen. The album was recorded in 1988 and released the same year through Totenkopf Records (Virgin Records). The album is considered to be one of the best Die Toten Hosen albums to date. The album peaked at number seven on the German albums charts in 1988.

Thoughts on the Album

Die Toten Hosen is considered to be the godfathers of German punk. They are stalwart veterans who continue to produce records and hits in Europe into this decade and century. In 1988, they released Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau, a concept album based off of the dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange and the Stanley Kubrick movie of the same name. Every song from the album is linked together by snippets/bits and pieces of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Though not all of the songs are related to A Clockwork Orange.

Die Toten Hosen has created something that has not released been seen (or heard) before. A combination of pathos, catchy riffs, and other raw emotions such as anger, despair, and angst. And in typical DTH fashion used a formula of catchy riffs and hooks, great melodies, huge choruses, and quiet, yet vulernable moments to make a complete and coherent effect. The album a unique and striking atmosphere around it that manages to capture the listener today, the same way it did almost 30 years ago.

The album marked a maturation for the band. The sound had matured. Their songwriting matured and improved; it was worlds more complex than the songwriting on earlier releases. While the songwriting improved and matured, the songs are still relatively simple… I mean the closing track Bye, bye Alex is musically (and structurally) the same as the opening track, Hier kommt Alex.

Again, I have to mention the song writing. The album was creatively written and the lyrics are imaginative. While some of the tracks are so-so and nothing to write home about, the album itself is something that needs to be listened to while reading the book… or if you have seen the Kubrick movie. And while an understanding of German is recommended, I still would say you don’t need to understand the language to like the album. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you’d understand the music.

Conclusion

If you like an album that tells a story, this one is for you. It is the German version of Pink Floyd‘s The Wall. It’s album that fuses classical music with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and punk. It’s Die Toten Hosen‘s magnum opus and their interpretation of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The music paints you an aural picture of Alex DeLarge’s struggle with his violent past and the “cure” that makes him sick at thought of sex and violence. The message is heard loud and clear. It is Die Toten Hosen‘s best work to date and an excellent album.

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Year 5, Day 17: Asking, “What’s Your Favorite Hall and Oates Song?”

Year 5, Day 17: Hall & Oates – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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Track list

  1. Camellia
  2. Sara Smile
  3. Alone Too Long
  4. Out of Me, Out of You
  5. Nothing at All
  6. Gino (The Manager)
  7. (You Know) It Doesn’t Matter Anymore
  8. Ennui on the Mountain
  9. Grounds for Separation
  10. Soldering

About the Album

Daryl Hall & John Oates is the self-titled fourth studio from Philadelphia blue-eye soul rockers, Hall and Oates. It is referred to as The Silver Album. The album was released in 1975 through RCA Records.

Thoughts on the Album

Everyone has a favorite Hall and Oates song, even if you don’t like Hall and Oates. For me, my favorite is would have to be Fall in Philadelphia. It is a perfect transition to talk about today’s album, Daryl Hall and John OatesHall and Oates are a Philadelphia staple in the Philadelphia music scene and have been since the 1970s. What the move to RCA Records in 1975 allowed the duo to experiment with production styles and sound and get the style and sound that worked best for them. The end result is album referred to as The Silver Albumtheir self-titled fourth album.

The production on the album is excellent. It’s crisp and sharp and shimmers with a pop sheen that makes most of the songs shine. While tracks like Ennui on the Mountain and Soldering don’t really appeal to me, the rest of the tracks are lush and catchy. Most of the tracks are ballads and midtempo rockers that are just as appealing as Sara Smile, their breakthrough and number one hit.

The album itself is a remarkably consistent one. While I felt like Ennui on the Mountain and Soldering faltered a bit, they really aren’t duds per se. Sara Smile turned out to be the duo’s breakthrough hit. Though Camellia and Alone Too Long deserved to be hits as well.

Conclusion

Short and sweet today. Before you make judgments, listen. Yes, Sara Smile is on the record and say what you want about the album cover, but what about the content? Daryl Hall & John Oates marks a return to that Philly blue-eye soul, but mixed some more rock and pop. A great album but far from the duo’s best.

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Broad Street Playlist Recap for 3/13-3/19

Broad Street Playlist Recap (for 3/13-3/19)

Another week done on the project, welcome back to the Broad Street Playlist recap! Click on this link to read last week’s recap! Also, have you checked out the new menu page for the Weekly Recaps? If not, click here! As always, here is your weekly recap for each day, a special Spotify playlist, and a preview of next week! Let’s get started!

Monday, March 13th 2017

On Monday, we took a look and listened to some loud and local music stylings and flavor with The Loved Ones‘ Build & Burn. A blue-collar and passionate pop-punk Philadelphia presence, Burn & Burn is a sincere and original album that leaves similar albums behind. A set of ten undeniably catchy and memorable that capture the underdog spirit of Philadelphia. Click here to read more about Build & Burn!

Tuesday, March 14th 2017

On Tuesday, we looked at one of the heavy hitting albums of 1990’s grunge, Dirt, by Alice in Chains. A hauntingly and morbidly beautiful album that tackles the issues of the band the music scene during the time. It’s almost as if the album drags you into the music scene and it’s problems with drugs and addiction and then eventual helps break those chains and frees you from the demons. Click here to read more about Dirt!

Wednesday, March 15th 2017

I was actually sick this day, so I apologize for the crappy quality. I just wanted to get it out there. In the eight years under Bush, there was a need for more politics in music. More and more bands got political. And then there’s Anti-Flag who cornered the market on political punk rock. For Blood and Empire is an album whose bark matches it’s bite. It’s a scathing indictment of American and global politics. An album whose passion is only matches by it’s intensity… click here to read more about For Blood and Empire!

Thursday, March 16th 2017

Thursday brought the High Voltage from AC/DC to the project. This album is the blueprint for almost all AC/DC albums. A simple formula of heavy guitar riffs and booming drums. A simple formula of sleaze rock and heavy hard rock and roll mixed with blues and metal. The album that started it all internationally for AC/DC, check out High Voltage!

Friday, March 17th 2017

Top o’the mornin’ to ye, lads and lasses and Happy Saint Paddy’s Day! On St. Patrick’s Day we took a listen to The Undertones‘ self-titled debut album. The Undertones. An album that was seeming overshadowed by similar of the era and genre. The album follows a simple formula: keeping it simple. It’s father of simple three/four chord pop-punk. The album serves as a blueprint for many pop-punk and punk bands of today. Check out The Undertones!

Saturday, March 18th 2017

Straightforward rock is the only way I can describe The Soundtrack Of Our Lives‘ Behind the Music. A play off the VH-1 show, the album almost mimics the show in that it takes the listener on a journey through music (as well as possibly space and time itself, who knows?). A heady album that weighs in at just under an hour long, combines many different musical influences ranging from 1970s Detroit rock and roll to neo-psychedelia. It definitely won’t dave rock and roll if it needs saving, but it is a brilliant piece of music. Check out Behind the Music!

Previewing next week!

Let’s bring back some Hall & Oates! And while we’re at it, crank the volume up to 11 with some Metallica and Pearl Jam. Everyone has a favorite Hall & Oates song, what’s yours?

Spotify Playist of the Week

See you all next week!