Friday, 24 December 2010

6 Albums From Big Artists You Plain Ignored

Plenty of lists are going to do the rounds about what was great and what wasn't from this year, but I am far too out of touch to have listened to any real popular music of the past 12 months, so instead I thought I would give my view on 6 albums for 6 well known bands/artists that people just seem to have ignored, whether this is due to paying more attention to 'better' albums or poor promotion is debatable.

I rarely will write about music, but there are a few albums I think are fantastic that many people just haven't heard or haven't appreciated. Music is one of those very subjective subjects(I am into the hard rock side myself), so it's akin to chasing a tail when saying what is good or what is not, but for what it's worth, here are 6 albums I think you just plain ignored.

6. JOHNNY CASH - A HUNDRED HIGHWAYS
Some quick (wiki) research shows this album is actually one of only two number ones for the man in black. Still, I thought it got little fanfare or attention (at least on this side of the pond). Being released shortly after Cash's death, the album is a tear jerker to say the least. I'm sure it was programmed to be this way, but it almost reads as his own eulogy. The highlight is the track God's Gonna Cut You Down, seemingly a self-reflective piece about a man with a troubled life.

5. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - ERA VULGARIS
I quite like QOTSA, but didn't listen to anything beyond Songs For The Deaf for years, so I was able to experience Lullabies to Paralyze and Era Vulgaris in the same week. I have to say, though I am quite into the sound that Lullabies to Paralyze promised, it just didn't deliver. It felt weak and repetitive, which cannot be said for this amazingly eclectic follow-up. Apparently inspired by a drive through Hollywood, the album is a mixture of odd industrial beats and out of tune guitars. It reeks of sarcasm and is mockingly hip to boot. A party album to knock parties!

4. KORN - SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE
This one seems to split Korn fans considerably. Do you go for the original raw-sounding Korn of the 90s, or this revamped technoesque beat showcase? I really like the bands first album and am very into the latest album (Remember Who You Are), but find this to be the breaking ground in a band that was running stagnant. It gets a bit repetitive, but the repetitiveness comes out of a loop of bizarreness. It's a break from their original sound and is a peak of creative effort (before they 'went back to their roots'). Highlight: Coming Undone: An unusual marching beat mixed with straight forward vocals. Hard not to headbang with.

3. SEPULTURA - NATION
You could say I wrote this blog just to mention this album. Brazilian thrash metal band Sepultura have gone through so many changes member wise and sound wise it is hard to keep track of, but I feel this album was dismissed because many fans were still resentful of the change of singers from Max Cavalera to Derrick Green. I'll be honest, I find them two different bands completely and think this album should be taken on its own merit. It has a host of guest singers, which doesn't particularly inspire me, but seems to work in context. This is one of the few albums that has had a constant theme and tone throughout that has worked so well. I recently started to appreciate some of the hard driving tracks like Reject for what they are; brutal anthems with adventurous intentions. If you can get a hold of the deluxe edition, it's well worth it. None of the following albums have lived up to this diverse fist pumper. Also, listen to Sepulnation and Disturbed's Ten Thousand Fists and try ignore the similarities!

2. SATURDAY NIGHT WRIST - DEFTONES
The recent release of Diamond Eyes seems to have brought a lot of people back to the Deftones camp, but a lot of people seem to think there is a gap of ten years music wise between that and White Pony. I'll be honest, I think the musical output during those years was considerably different and not as catering to a mainstream audience, but a potential masterpiece has been lost among yells of a disaster. Saturday Night Wrist is dynamic, experimental, hard hitting and original in almost every sense. Just when you are about to get bored with the album, it turns on the screw. Songs go from hard rock to speed metal to anthems to electro without warning. If this was someones first experience of the Deftones, you could understand them being intimidated. Most bad albums are bad because they latch on to an idea and drag it out, whereas this album almost has the exact opposite problem. It's well known the band almost broke up during its making and a lot of people dismissed the album as a moneymaker owing to this. However, much like Metallica's St. Anger, I think this is what makes the album all that more meaningful. It is a snapshot of a bad time and encapsulates the anger and confusing perfectly. Who has never had a bad time? And I'm not saying this album is a bad time sonically. It is thumping and foreboding on every level. This is the so underrated (even by the band) that it really is disappointing.

1. MARILYN MANSON - EAT ME, DRINK ME
The 'shock rocker's most personal album takes the number one because I am almost sure a lot of people don't know it exists. The effort came out over here in a hush and seemed to disappear the same way, whereas the next album had much todo about it. Coming on the heels of his breakup with Dita Von Teese and affair with Evan Rachel Wood, Manson delivers a shocking piece, but in a different way. Made by essentially two men (Manson on vocals and Tim Skold on music), the album at all times feels intimate. There are no anthems like The Beautiful People or Fight Song, but instead we get epics like Putting Holes In Happiness. There is almost a homemade feel to the piece (I say piece because album doesn't feel appropriate). It's like one mans diary exposed to the world, and it echoes what most of us feel about different situations in our own lives. You need someone as characteristic as Manson to deliver some potentially cringy lines, so we can hear it and accept. Skold's music is just as stripped down and emotional as Manson. Guitars are the forefront, with a very staccato and eerie pulse throughout. There are even solos, which are delivered in the style of many past rockers, but take on new life in a downtrodden Goth rocker's memoirs. There are no bad tracks on the album, and there are too many good ones to single out (but fuck it, Evidence and the title track are my favourites). A video was released for Heart Shaped Glasses, which was one of the more disappointing tracks, even though it works well in context of the album. This is a change for Manson, one which he all but abandoned for his next album. It is personal and reflective, not just for him, but anyone who hears it. Please enjoy!