Okay, so I haven’t posted anything in quite some time. Sorry about that. I’ve been gathering material!!
To make up for four weeks of absence from the internet, I will do four album reviews of four albums that I have really been getting into recently.
Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt, 1995 on Trauma Records
I’ve been hiding my love for No Doubt for too long. Well here I go. I love them with all of my heart. Gwen Stefani, the guy with the mohawk. The lot of them.
Maybe I’m just listening to this album as a sort of ironic nostalgia thing, since I was really into No Doubt in my earlier middle school years. Everything about this album is amazing, though! I am convinced that no life is complete without being obsessed with No Doubt at least once.
Sunday Morning was my theme song for a whole year, and no one understood. Everyone in my math class was hating on No Doubt one day, and I felt so alone. Maybe you will understand, internet people.
There’s something so catchy in Gwen Stefani’s voice (I could just lock myself in a room and listen to it forever, seriously) and the instrumentation and the subject matter of the songs (being sixteen, having a bad Sunday morning, etc.) that just make Tragic Kingdom a dream.
No Doubt isn’t necessarily “cool”. They deliberately tried to not be a part of the early-nineties grunge scene, and were thought of as a “dork band” for a very long time. Now No Doubt is uncool more because Gwen Stefani is in People magazine a lot. But it’s still so relatable, and just darned good music. It’s mainstream, but it’s also kind of a “cult favorite”. You have to hear it to understand.
Tragic Kingdom is a beautiful little well-crafted pop album that covers ska and Indian music and disco, but isn’t corny at all. It’s loveable, guys. Every song is an anthem for early teenagers. It’s danceable and relatable, which is all I can really ask.
For those of you with Spotify:
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom
How I Learned to Write Backwards by The Aislers Set, 2002 on Suicide Squeeze Records
Reminds me of Lemony Snicket a bit.
I found this record while looking for Henry’s Dress CD’s in a record store. That was before I found out how impossible it is to find these artifacts anywhere. (ugh!) (I found out about Henry’s Dress here on my favorite website ever, by the way. Download that stuff!) But at least my failure to find Henry’s Dress resulted in giving me The Aislers Set, since the label for the section of CD’s in the store read, and I quote, “Aisler’s Set Henry’s Dress”
I could tell it was a good one because the descriptive sticker on the packet mentioned “Slumberland melodies” and Amy Linton, as well as the fact that this was a good album. If you’re not already “clued in”, Slumberland is a very good record label and Amy Linton was a member of Henry’s Dress and afterwards became a member of The Aislers Set (and Go Sailor for that matter).
How To Write Backwards didn’t have as much of the same loud pop-punk guitars I was hoping for after listening to Henry’s Dress, but as the guitarist from Stereolab said once, when you learn not to use guitars to cover up your music you are a fine musician indeed.
And this record is full of amazing Slumberland melodies and harmonies and every song is golden and I can’t listen to it without smiling. It’s one of those albums that you can just listen to over and over and it just gets better and better as you learn it and anticipate the best parts. It sounds like Chicago in the winter. (Getting all poetic there.)
Maybe you’ll like it too. I hope.
The Aislers Set – How I Learned To Write Backwards
Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, 1980
You know when you’re just going through your life and the perfect 1980’s album just kinda lands on your lap and makes you feel complete? Well that’s what happened with Unknown Pleasures.
I listened to the first track, Disorder, over and over one restless night for about two hours. (You know those nights where your pillow is too hot and you keep tossing and turning and thinking and it’s terrible?) Disorder is possibly my favorite song ever.
This album sums up everything that I have ever gone through ever. It is a beautiful artistic feat that is so incredibly sadly underrated. I watched the movie Control to gain a deeper understanding of the album, and I am so glad that people like Joy Division exist to spread their art into the world.
Side note: You. Must. Watch. Control.
Saying it’s an album about despair is too general. It’s an album about losing your place in the world, about having too much homework to do and having to go to school and do all these things that you don’t want to and just wanting it to be over.
The album is the purest, rawest album I have heard in a long time. Please fall in love with it.
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
It’s You by Holy Balm, 2012 (because I listen to new music too!) on NOT NOT FUN.
Holy Balm is a weird, beautiful band. Internet people have described them in the most strange ways:
“Their synth melodies are always prone to slipping saltily off-key and the beats are basically functional – lumpy kicks and squirmy, acidic synth pop bass – ridden with alluring nonchalance by Anna John in a hybrid of basement minimal wave and ’90s dance pop memes.”- Boomkat.com
“a three piece psychedelic dance jam band”-last.fm
“an LP’s worth of distressed beats and teetering synth lines”- thefader.com
I was not expecting this record to be so perfect, but it is.
Favorite lyrics: I washed my favorite sweater, oh yeah. There it is, on the line, very clean and dry!
This album requires you to dance, or at least bop your head rhythmically. It’s literally required. It sounds jolty and simplistic and just cool. I would literally go to one of their concerts and actually dance.
It sounds at times like Crystal Castles and Kraftwerk and like Peaking Lights and a bunch of other things too that I’m not knowledgeable enough to make comparisons to.
Holy Balm – It’s You