Listened Review: Muse Get Lost in the Eighties on ‘Simulation Theory’ by an author from Rolling Stone
There are some pretty creative uses of their electronic obsessions, however, and that’s reliably becoming one of Muse’s more interesting moves. Though maybe too close to at least two different George Michael songs, “Dig Down,” has a very cool, wubbing, minimal feel and a bravado mix of poptronic pulse and theatrical bombast. And despite its completely ridiculous lyrics and Rush “Roll the Bones” rap vocal effects, “Propaganda” is a excellently weird song: think Prince getting a Swizz Beatz makeover with a steel guitar solo. Basically, where Muse, one of our last huge rock bands, is at their best and smartest is when they’re not being a rock band at all.
I love the idea of Muse taking on the eighties, but something just does not seem to click. It is interesting that they engaged with the likes of Timbaland, but musically and thematically it is a little confusing. I think Christopher Weingarten captures this best:

Most of Simulation Theory could be about our surveillance state and/or a relationship. The blurring results in clunkiness.

I am sure that live it would be a stadium spectacular, as it has many of the usual licks and baselines, but as an album it was short of what I hoped for.


On the flipside, I was really intrigued by the ‘alternative reality’ versions of a few of the songs. Along with Snow Patrol, Kimbra and St. Vincent, this seems to be becoming something of a trend? I wonder if this is a part of the move to digital consumption, therefore providing more opportunities for different takes?

Listened St. Vincent Details ‘Masseduction’ Redux LP ‘MassEducation’ by Kory Grow from Rolling Stone
When Annie Clark was mixing last year’s critically acclaimed Masseduction, she cut another version of the same album that she’s since dubbed MassEducation. The reworked LP, which will come out on October 12th, features only her on vocals and Thomas Bartlett on piano. She described the record in a statement as “two dear friends playing songs together with the kind of secret understanding one can only get through endless nights in New York City.”
I loved MassEduction, but the rawness of just voice and piano in this version of the album takes the music to a whole new level for me.
Listened Lady Gaga / Bradley Cooper: A Star is Born Soundtrack from Pitchfork
The film’s official soundtrack is similarly old-fashioned in its approach, even as its credits include a host of modern songwriters from the pop, country, and rock spheres. Along with Gaga and Cooper, there’s contributions from Jason Isbell, Willie Nelson’s son Lukas, Mark Ronson, Miike Snow frontman Andrew Wyatt, behind-the-scenes pop wizards Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, the list goes on. The songs fall into a few distinct silos—blaring blues-rockers, tender acoustic ballads, anthemic torch songs, and robotic electro-pop—and save for a digital flourish or two on the pop songs that make up much of the film’s back half, there’s very little here that would’ve sounded out of place on blockbuster film soundtracks of decades past.
I am really enjoying this album. I really like hearing an artist stretch beyond their usual sound, while Bradley Cooper sounds a little like Chris Cornell without the screaming.
Liked The Secret History of Outkast's 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below:' the Last Truly Great Double Album (Okayplayer)
On its 15th anniversary, we break down the creation of Outkast's 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below': one of the greatest albums of the 21st century.
via Kottke
Liked The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s (Pitchfork)
Sometimes it feels like the neon thumbprint of the 1980s never went away. It’s arguably the defining throwback aesthetic of American culture today, from the TV series we reboot to the prints we wear. And when it comes to its music, well, that’s even more ubiquitous: The decade was one of great upheaval and innovation, and the seeds it planted continue to flourish. It was a time when disco and punk were in tatters, its artists rebuilding from the rubble with new innovations to birth hardcore and new wave. Rock was getting more ridiculous, with Aqua-Net to spare, but it was also paring back into the thoughtful nexus that would someday be called “indie rock”—or it was throwing up pentagrams, getting sludgier and meaner, and turning into metal. Jazz and ambient were pushing their experimental borders, getting more cinematic and free. Singer-songwriters in folk and R&B were plumbing new depths of the human experience, getting frank about social and gender politics. And hip-hop was evolving at a head-spinning clip, expanding its reach and ambition along the way.
Liked Nirvana: Incesticide (Pitchfork)
The band’s label, DGC, didn’t intend to promote Incesticide much, clearly considering it a low-stakes time-buying placeholder. Nirvana took advantage of that. Allegedly the band only put it out because Cobain got to make the devastating cover painting and pen the thousand-word essay for its legendary liner notes, which were an indictment of toxic masculinity, a corrective of the exploitative media, and an ode to the underground. Incesticide embodies the free space of punk more than any Nirvana album: part outsider visual art, part punk fanzine, thrillingly raw.
Listened Oz (Missy Higgins album) from en.wikipedia.org
Oz is the fourth studio album by Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins, and was released by Eleven on 19 September 2014. It is Higgins' first cover album, which is accompanied by a book of the same name that collects a series of essays by Higgins; using each song title as a jumping off point. The album's title refers to each of the artists covered being from Australia, as well as being a reference to the land of Oz as established in The Wizard of Oz.
Oz
I am always intrigued by cover versions. Missy Higgins’ album of covers is intriguing listening. She provides her own twist on a number of classic and contemporary Australian artists.