David Bowie-Low(1977) also…notes on fighting Pretentiousness

5 04 2011

It seems my arch nemesis of a music website, Pitchfork has, like 6 years ago, declared the little-mentioned David Bowie album, Low the number one album of the 1970’s. It’s funny that I just found this out while I was in the middle of an enjoyable Brian Eno phase, but found myself  wanting something a little more concrete. Thus, after a little sluething, found out that he and David B had teamed up, no surprise, to work on Low, Bowie’s 1977 release. But really, number one album of the 1970’s…? Do you know what a BOLD claim that is? Sure you do.

Saying that Low is the best album of the 70’s is a Grand Canyon-Spruce Goose-Sir Mix a Lot Big Butt Lovin’-sized bold claim, man.

Even within Pitchfork’s best of the 70’s countdown, their own contributor wrote about Led Zeppelin IV coming in at number 7 and that there was NO WAY(yes in all caps) that Led Zeppelin IV wasn’t the number one album of the 1970’s. Sure, this is totally predictable and non-pretentious, but seriously. Shouldn’t Led Zeppelin IV roll in at least  a shabby 3rd?

I was already into my second listen of Low, when I’d discovered Pitchfork’s bold claim and became even more impassioned to find out for myself why they declared it so. Is this a Bowie album worthy of such an illustrious title as number one album of the 1970’s?

According to research, this is David Bowie’s coke-recovery album. Frankly I cannot picture David Bowie as any kind of drug addict. He just seems too other-worldly  to have “normal” problems.  The title of this album is indicative of his low mood and perhaps he enlisted the help of Brian Eno to be his new upper ‘cuz it’s not much of a downer album. The album begins with a sort of late-70’s punch in the face with the track, Speed of Life. Coke reference perhaps? There’s some amazing stuff here and it’s physically impossible for me to be impartial, it’s David Bowie and I owe him for a fair portion of my happiness, but some of the tracks are just kind of silly. The track Warszawa reminds me of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. A feeling of being downtrodden and like I could sleep for days…is this what coming off of coke feels like set to music? If so, count me out.  Then there’s also these ridiculous chanting voices that fade in and out, dating this album incredibly. Perhaps the greatest contributing factor for why I can’t say agree with Pitchfork. Throughout the album there’s also a sense of this sounding like the early planning stages for the Labyrinth or Never Ending Story soundtrack. Just makes me laugh, I guess.

So folks, although I love this album in all its Eno-Bowie greatness, I have to give the finger to Pitchfork and say that they’re wrong. It’s an album that defintely grows on you, and I do have a fondness for albums like that. I am just not entirely sure this album aged so well unlike its competition, Led Zeppelin IV and oh I don’t know…(sorry to bust out all the regulars, I’m just not going to go down the much-trodden in the music-commentary pretentious road)…Dark Side of the Moon. Come on, we all know that album’s amazing.

I realize that I am not so much reviewing this Bowie album, but conciously trashing Pitchfork for being so damn pretentious. There’s room in decade countdowns for some lesser-knowns or surprises, sure; but to pick an album that’s relatively unheard as The Best is flat out pretentious. It’s so easy in the music world to bow down to the all powerful, The Great Pretentor. Not here, friends. The Great Prententor shall not conquer yet another music commentary blog. Not here in our brains at Balafonic dot com.



The Vault: The Resurrection of Lost Highway

7 03 2011

It was one of those days when the ol’ A.D.D was acting up.

Impatient and indecisive, I had no idea what music I was in the mood for. With a sigh and a little hope,  I set the iPod to shuffle and waited for IT, the music that would act as my Ritalin.

After rejecting several songs that just weren’t cutting it, there it was, the album that soothed my bored and sunny soul, the Lost Highway soundtrack. It was pure fate that a “shuffle ferver” brought me right back to 1997, a time when I was pretending I was a lot of things: a skater, a guitar player, and yes, a 13 year-old that understood David Lynch movies. Almost 15 years after Lost Highway’s release, does anyone actually understand it? Come on. Admit it.  You STILL don’t. Only David Lynch knows what’s going in a David Lynch movie.

I honestly remember very little of what goes in the film beyond the fact that it’s starring Bill Pullman(of all people) and features a delightful cameo from Marilyn Manson; but let it be known, the soundtrack is the clear star of this film. How can you not be immediately drawn into a soundtrack that begins with David Bowie eerily wailing about secrets and  being deranged. Man, this soundtrack is so loaded with gems! Gems, I tell you!The brain child of Trent Reznor, this soundtrack is a far and dark cry from his most recent soundtrack work, The Social Network. Lost Highway is so very 1990’s Trent Reznor; heavy handed, menacing, laiden with rough guitars, and well, strange.

Back in the mid-90’s Reznor was every industrial/goth/angsty/rocker kid’s wet dream for afterall, he had good hair and talent.  Stopping at nothing, Reznor even enlisted the help of another love child of the 90’s, Billy Corgan and his  Smashing Pumpkins, getting them to include a rare track, Eye, a steely lover’s lament. Perhaps the most random inclusion is the rockabilly/super-distortion infused version of Lou Reed’s This Magic Moment. Simply beautiful. Never to be repeated again. Just when my memory thought it couldn’t get any better…with every track, more icons rise up from the depths, cloaking me in the comfort of the mid-90’s. Towards the close of the soundtrack we have none other than Germany’s Rammstein. The track Heirate Mich, which, meticulously translated into  english means, “heartbreak”… and perhaps in guitar-speak, “Fuck you”…? I haven’t been UP on my Rammstein research as of late, but listening to it here makes me hope for a 2011 world tour. No?

In reprise, the siren wails of  David Bowie close the album as deep thoughts of reflection come to me…I’m probably not ever going to understand what the hell’s going on in a David Lynch film, but I sure can appreciate the art of The Soundtrack.


Trent Reznor discusses being tardy to Nine Inch Nails shows due to weekly viewings of Twin Peaks http://www.lynchnet.com/lh/lhrs3.html

Revel in 90’s glory with Eye, the rare Smashing Pumpkins’ track  

The Vault:Arctic Monkeys-A Certain Romance(2006)

10 12 2010

Written with Uncanny Observation and Dry Wit, This Semi-Anthem strikes a cord within us all:Daring tales of Adolescence and growing up. This has seemed to be the Monkeys Forte: Forging Stories of Drunken Bar fights and Dance Floor Lust into Tales of Near Myth you would laugh about and exaggerate to your friends the morning after. Of all the songs on their record breaking debut, this is the group at their most tender and memorable Catchy while Rocking hard, Weary but still sounding Uplifting. Being the last track on the album makes a lot of sense. Sounding like Alex’s Turners Final Story Before calling it a Night and passing out with a pint in his hands, A Bloody Nose, and a grin on his face.    –Armordillo

The Vault:Chemical Brothers- Star Guitar (2002)

10 12 2010

Trading in their trademark arena-ready version of rock/Hip Hop (Coined as “Big-Beat” ) and going for something far more ethereal, This spaced out dance epic is a warm but distant display of the chemical brothers reaching for the skies. Built around a warped guitar sample from David Bowie, one feels a sense of calm wash over them as the sit back and rock your head to the pulsing 2 step drum beats. Like shooting past planets in hibernation mode, This is a dance song for the sedated 23rd century. A track you can sit back and enjoy or one you can dance to in repetitive ecstasy. 9.2/10 -Armordillo

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