Music life in lockdown week 26

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 25 covers from 14-19 September. All albums feature on @RichardS7370 #3albums2005.

Monday 14 September

Starting off the new working week all dedicate to the year 2005. By the end of the week I will be picking my top 3 albums from that year. So throughout the week we will go through the contenders. Some albums have featured before, others getting played for first time in ages.

The contenders on Monday were – Calla, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Mould, Arcade Fire, Audioslave and Death Cab for Cutie.

First up was Calla who to be honest I cannot for the life of me remember how or why I picked this album, Collisons. Described as post-rock and I was listening to some of that at the time but this album just passes me by. One of those ones you buy and then think what was buying that for?

Bruce Springsteen is no stranger to the blog, in fact Devils & Dust featured back in week 25 if you want to catch up on the review here.

Being a fan of both Sugar and Husker Du, there is always a place for Bob Mould. By Bob’s sixth solo album he was returning to his rock roots after trying his band on electronic music.

Body of Song contained much of the electronic influence of its predecessor Modulate, but Mould’s trademark guitar work, which had been buried in the former album’s mix, was brought back to the forefront which was a welcome return to form.

Audioslave’s second album Out of Exile is a favourite of mine. I like this one better than their debut as the band finally find their feet. When you have the 3 former members of Rage Against The Machine and Chris Cornell from Soundgarden on vocals, you were always going to get the comparisons with their previous bands.

Even in concert, they deliberately choose not to play songs from the previous bands but choose cover versions as way of finding their feet. Notably cover versions I have heard seeing them live included The White Stripes 7 Nation Army and The Clash’s White Riot. Weirdly enough the last time I saw the band at the Oxegen festival in County Kildare, they did play Killing In The Name much to the delight of the crowd but I fond it a bit odd seeing Chris Cornell trying to rap like Zach de la Rocha.

I think may have caused a bit of controversy when compiling this list by including Arcade Fire’s debut album, Funeral on the playlist. I really thought it was released in 2005 as it seemed to have topped most polls that year. When I went onto Google to research the albums, the UK release date was given as 2005. It was released in the USA and Canada in 2004. Oh well that eliminated that from the contenders for #3albums05.

Rounding off the day was Death Cab for Cutie. Plans received generally positive reviews and picks up where 2003’s Transatlanticism left off. The album produced three singles and was nominated for Grammy in 2006.

Tuesday 15 September

Today’s contenders were Elbow, The Cribs, Foo Fighters, Depeche Mode, Feeder and Idlewild.

Elbow were considered of the favourites for the poll but after listening to Leaders of the Free World I was nearly scrambling for the off switch. Maybe it was just me or maybe after not listening to them for so long I kind of forgot what they sounded like. This was their third album and I have most of their catalogue but don’t think I will be revisiting soon. Change my mind!

Next up was NME favourites, The Cribs whose second album The New Fellas was came in at 11th place in their albums of the year. It’s a good album but not in my top 10. The same magazine even declared the song Hey Scenesters! was named one of the “Greatest Indie Anthems Ever”.

High praise indeed. I might revisit this band at some point to give them another go.

Idlewild featured here on two separate lockdown playlists. Today, their fourth album Warnings/Promises gets a chance to be a contender. This album is a departure from the sound of their earlier material, blending contemporary folk influences with melodic rock. There isn’t anything that’s instantly catchy like previous singles When I Argue I See Shapes or You Held the World in Your Arms. I think this would be best described as their last best album.

Pushing the Senses was Feeder’s fifth album and was quite similar to Comfort in Sound. Many critics saw the band becoming like Coldplay or Keane but I don’t think they are. It did really well in the end of year polls and even Grant Nicholas was annoyed about the Coldplay comparisons. Just because you add a bit of piano doesn’t turn a band into Coldplay. While the album is not a real rocker like previous albums I still think this is a good album.

Depeche Mode’s Playing The Angel was their eleventh album and a favourite of mine after Violator. The album is a classic blend of synth-pop beats, heavy guitar riffs and dark lyrics. Probably not an album for putting on during a party but its a great album and a definite for my top 3. We will see how the rest of the week goes.

I have been a fan of Foo Fighters from the very start and In Your Honor for album number five, saw the band releasing a double album of heavy rock songs on one disc and mellower acoustic songs on the second disc. A decision by Dave Grohl to do a diverse blend of songs. The album featured some high profile guest stars such as John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Norah Jones, and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). It’s a good album and doing the acoustic stuff shows the band can strip it back while still being able to rock.

Wednesday 16 September

Midweek on the countdown to picking 3 albums for 2005. Today’s contenders included Kaiser Chiefs, The National, Nine Inch Nails, Nine Black Alps, Maximo Park and Nada Surf.

Kaiser Chief’s debut album Employment took its inspirations from the Britpop and new wave movements, 1970s-era punk rock and Beach Boys-esque West Coast music. At the time I really liked this and seeing them in the Limelight was my Oasis moment, ie getting to see a band play a small venue before they get huge. After this the band did get huge.

Another debut album from that year came from Maximo Park who released A Certain Trigger. Also another band that you picked up after reading about them in NME. They headlined the NME new bands tour and Arctic Monkeys were on the same bill. After they finished their set lots of people left. I have never been to a gig seeing people leave before the headliners come on. Bizzare!

Still on the theme of debut albums, Nine Black Alps debut Everything Is was an album that took you back to the grunge era. You could tell that the band were definitely fans of Nirvana. A really good album and I enjoyed it.

I was late getting into The National. The first album I heard was Boxer and naturally you go backwards to find their earlier works and I came across Alligator which was their third album. This is a great album and it features the song Mr November which the band designed and sold a t-shirt featuring Obama’s image above the words “Mr. November” referencing the closing track of the album and the month of the U.S. presidential election.

Nada Surf formed back in the 1990s and have released nine albums. The Weight is a Gift was their fourth album and I picked this one up at one of their shows in Belfast a few years ago. I like their style and the Coldplay comparisons are a bit unfair. These guys do rock live.

Leaving the heavyweights until the end with Nine Inch Nails and their fourth album, With Teeth. At this stage the album was pushing for being a strong contender for the top 3. Dave Grohl even pops up this album along with future band member Atticus Ross. Three singles were released from the album – The Hand That Feeds, Only and Every Day Is Exactly The Same. This was another candidate for the top 3. Still got two more days to go through.

Thursday 17 September

Six more albums to go through today and its a real mixed bag with Paramore, Sons and Daughters, System of a Down, Queens of the Stone Age, Sleater Kinney and The Subways.

So a bit of pop punk with Paramore and their debut album All We Know Is Falling to start the day. Not an album that was going to set the world on fire but I gave it a go and it wasn’t that bad.

Scottish band Sons and Daughters second album The Repulsion Box got a listen for the first time in ages. I can’t remember what lead to the purchase of this album. Most likely a recommendation from NME at the time.

Another band picked up from NME was The Subways. The cover mounted CDs were good ways to pick up new bands to like. Their debut album Young for Eternity was really good featuring the singles 1am, Oh Yeah and Rock and Roll Queen.

I first came across Sleater Kinney back in 2000 with their fifh album All Hands on the Bad One. Don’t know what happened but kind of forgot all about them until their reunion in 2014 with the release of The Center Won’t Hold and I got to see the band play at Dublin’s Vicar Street so needed to get a few more of their albums to get up to speed! The Woods was album no.7 and a really good record. Will it be enough to squeeze into the top 3?

System of a Down released two albums in 2005, today we have Mezmerize which is quite a short album by them. It only clocks just over 36 minutes of music. My first reaction to a band releasing two albums in one year lead me to think back when I purchased Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 by Guns ‘N’Roses back in 1990.

Mezmerize and Hypnotize (left that until Friday to play) both debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, making the band one of the few to achieve this with two albums in the same year. Hypnotize would be the bands last album before going on a four-year hiatus in 2006, and the band didn’t release new music for more than a decade, until late 2020 when they unexpectedly released two new songs which I haven’t had a chance to hear yet.

I am a big fan of Queens of The Stone Age and Lullabies to Parlayze was the bands fourth album which was released around the time of my birthday. This was the first album they done after Nick Oliveri was fired from the band. Mark Lanegan and Josh Homme being the only members from the previous album Songs for the Deaf to play on this one along with new members Joey Castillo on drums (Dave Grohl wasn’t available) and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen. Live favourite Little Sister and Burn the Witch feature on this album. This should be a contender for the top 3 unless another album is going to sneak in. We shall see.

Friday 18 September

The week is coming to an end and the last batch of contenders are ready to roll. System of a Down, The White Stripes, And You Will Know Us By Trail of Dead, Teenage Fanclub, Thrice and Weezer.

System of a Down get their second and last album, Hypnotize played today. I think it was a good idea splitting the albums down over the two days. Looking back I don’t rate either of these two albums as good as their first two.

I suspect The White Stripes are white hot favourites (pun intended) with Get Behind Me Satan. While I liked the album it wasn’t going to be in my top 3. Now two albums are certs, it is a question of who is going to get third place.

Weezer’s fifth album was a real return to form boosted by the hit single Beverly Hills. It’s a decent album but not as good as their first two albums. Thrice on the other hand went a bit experimental with their fourth album Vheissu. Parts of it recalled the post-hardcore stylings of At the Drive-In, with Radiohead-esque atmospheric transition and some mid tempo arrangements with the loud/quiet dynamic of Thursday and Deftones.

Teenage Fanclub have been seasoned regulars during lockdown and that is testament to what a great band they are. So good even Kurt Cobain loved them back at the start. Man-Made was their eighth album. A really good album but not quite good enough to clinch the last spot available for #3albums05.

That honour was going to And You Will Know Us By Trail of Dead (Trail of Dead in shorter form after this) who released their forth album Worlds Apart. Just thinking I had been listening to Trail of Dead previously on 4 September but looking back at that post, I forgot all about Worlds Apart in that review, so this is the delayed verdict on the album that made me pick it for my top 3 of 2005.

Worlds Apart is an album that just grabs your attention immediately. From the quiet piano riff, to chants, drums and screams, this album feels like you have been in the ring in a heavy weight fight. A worthy selection for #3albums50.

The verdict – well I was wrong about The White Stripes. They came in at no.15. The album that won was Sufijan Stevens with Illionis. Thirteen of the albums that I had in my contenders did make it into the top 50. My picks – Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode tied at no.33. My last pick Trail of Dead was bubbling under. Damn! Could have went for Queens of the Stone Age in the end but picking your favourite is not about the popularity of the album or artist it is more about what that album means to you and for me I thought it was a decent shout.

Next blog for week 27 will be back to normal with selected bands and maybe just one best of year.

Music life in lockdown week 25

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 25 covers from 7 to 11 September.

Just noticed the typo in the last entry where I mistakenly put down week 23 for week 24. I am definitely losing track of time with this pandemic. However we are back on track here with week 25. Hard to believe it.

Monday 7 September

Kicking off the new working week was Glasgow’s finest Teenage Fanclub. I have been a fan of the band since seeing them support Nirvana when they came in Belfast in 1992. At the time I was really getting into grunge. Teenage Fanclub while not grunge definitely fitted the scene at the time.

Their sound is reminiscent of Californian bands like the Beach Boys and the Byrds, and their seventies counterparts Big Star.  A Catholic Education (1990), released in 1990, is largely atypical of their later sound, with the possible exception of Everything Flows which is my favourite song.

Bandwagonesque (1991) released on Creation Records in the UK and Geffen in the US, brought the band a measure of commercial success.  Bandwagonesque was more deliberately constructed, the hooks became stronger, the guitar riffs were brought under control, and the harmony vocals took shape.

It topped Spin magazine’s 1991 end-of-year poll for best album, beating Nirvana’s Nevermind, their Creation stablemates My Bloody Valentine’s album Loveless, and R.E.M.’s Out of Time. Quite an achievement. Even Kurt Cobain had it down as one of his all time favourites.

 Thirteen (1993) was a nod to Big Star. At the time the band were listening to them quite a lot but this record was their most difficult one to make and didn’t get get the success as Bandwagonesque. However, that would all change with the release of Grand Prix (1995).

It was both a critical and commercial success in the UK, becoming their first top ten album. Around this time Liam Gallagher of labelmates Oasis called the band “the second best band in the world” — second only to Oasis. The other way round I think, Teenage Fanclub are better!

Songs from Northern Britain (1997) followed Grand Prix and built on the former’s success. It became their highest charting release in the UK and contained their biggest hit single to date, Ain’t That Enough. They were on tour with Radiohead that year who had just released Ok Computer and the band supported them when they came to the RDS at Dublin.

The band have described the album title as “a joking reference to Britpop, and everybody who thought we were part of that scene”. Norman Blake expanded on the title in 2016, commenting, “We just thought it sounded funny. No one calls Scotland “Northern Britain,” although technically it is. The album is just perfect and a fantastic follow up to Grand Prix. Even author Nick Hornby namechecks the album in his book 31 Songs as one of his all time favourite albums. Can’t argue with that.

So if you wanted to introduce somebody to Teenage Fanclub where do you start? Maybe a gentle introduction is Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds – A Short Cut To Teenage Fanclub (2003). The title refers to the album’s total length, just 34 seconds short of the maximum running time possible on a single CD: as a consequence the track “My Uptight Life” was edited from its original version in order to fit on to the album. This best of album comprises fourteen singles, four album tracks, and three new songs written for the album.

Tuesday 8 September

I had got back into listening to a bit of Rush lately and today it was all about Rush in the 1980s. A friend of mine introduced me to the band around 1990-91 and I borrowed some of his albums mostly from the 70s and a few from the 80s and I was hooked.

For today’s run the focus was all on their music output from the 1980s. The band were very creative that decade releasing seven albums. I have some of them on vinyl but the ones that I played today are on CD and they were Permanent Waves (1980) which had just been reissued as a 40th anniversary edition, Moving Pictures (1981), Signals (1982) Hold Your Fire (1987), Presto (1989) along with standard live album release A Show of Hands (1989).

With the 80s the band would experiment in new sounds. The single from the album, The Spirit of Radio featured the band’s early experiments with a reggae style in its closing section, which was explored further on the band’s next three albums. They also used  synthesizers as well which added another dimension to their sound. The instrumental YYZ from Moving Pictures was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.  This is an amazing piece of work.

On Signals the band continues to incorporate the synthesizer into their songs with less emphasis on guitar-oriented riffs which had been the focus of their sound in the 1970s. This is not bad thing for a rock band like Rush as after Moving Pictures, Signals is one of my favourite Rush albums.

The last two albums from the decade, Hold Your Fire had the band moving to using computers for song writing and production but the last studio album from that decade, Presto saw the band return to a more guitar-driven sound from what is known to many as Rush’s “synthesizer period” of the last four releases.

The live album A Show of Hands was released in between Hold Your Fire and Presto with recordings of the 1988 Hold Your Fire tour. A Rush live album is right up with Iron Maiden live albums, releasing eleven of them during their career.

Neil Peart passed away at the start of the year and the band had already retired so the chance of ever seeing them again was never going to happen. I was really glad I got to see them in 2011 when they done the Time Machine tour came to Dublin which incredibly was the bands first and only Irish show. They played Moving Pictures in it’s entirety for the first time.

Wednesday 9 September

Back to the 90s and today it was the turn for a very underrated band from that era, Buffalo Tom. The band emerged from the same US underground scene as Dinosaur Jr and Pixies at the tail end of the 1980s and I got into them when they released Big Red Letter Day (1993) which was their fourth album and one of my favourite albums from that year featuring songs like Sodajerk, Treehouse and I’m Allowed.

Fifth album Sleepy Eyed (1995) and Three Easy Pieces (2007) were the last albums I bought by the band and like many things sometimes you forget about bands and move onto something.

However my interest in the band picked up again around 2012 when I went to Head Records for Record Store Day. I had picked up quite a few albums that day and I came across a bargain at the corner. It was a Buffalo Tom album, Besides: A Collection of B-Sides and Rarities from 2002 (not pictured here) which included a cover of The Jam’s Going Underground that I had not heard before.

I think it was only £2 so I bought that as well and what a bargain. It reignited by interest in the band and I went about trying to find out what they had done since 2007.

Skins (2011) was the first release since Three Easy Pieces after a period of four years and it was really great to hear new material. It wouldn’t be until 2018 that they were recording a new album, Quiet and Peace which I purchased through a Pledge campaign. They were also the one band I never got to see during the 1990s. They did visit Belfast once but I had never heard of them at the time, so I took a chance to go over to England to see them when they played in Birmingham.

One album that I was late getting was Let Me Come Over (1992) which reached its 25th anniversary in 2017. There was a couple of Record Store Day releases around that time and I picked up Big Red Letter Day for the first time on vinyl. I also bought the 25th anniversary edition of Let Me Come Over both on CD and vinyl. It is a great album and I often wonder how I didn’t hear of it first before Big Red Letter Day.

The second part of Let Me Cover Over is a bonus recording of a storming set recorded live at London’s ULU before the album came out.

Front man Bill Janovitz even appeared with Pearl Jam on one of their American shows playing Taillights Fade with the band. Eddie Vedder also done a cover of it on one of this own solo shows and Bill joined in too. I am glad they came back. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded of the bands that didn’t quiet hit the big time but you welcome them back like a long lost friend. Quiet and Peace was a great album and I loved it. I hope it won’t take too long before they do the follow up.

Thursday 10 September

A day late but this time 25 years ago, the Help album was released charity album to raise funds for the War Child charity, which provided aid to war-stricken areas, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. All the songs were recorded in a single day. The album features British and Irish artists including Paul McCartney, Paul Weller, Radiohead, Oasis, Blur and the Manic Street Preachers.

 Help was recorded on Monday, 4 September 1995, mixed on Tuesday the fifth, and was in shops on Saturday the ninth. The original version release did not include any tracklist attached to the sleeve notes; the tracklisting was instead printed as a full page ad in the NME. There is not one dud track on this album and it is fantastic from start to finish.

There were other great compilation albums released in the 1990s and the next three are personal favourites. With grunge taking off it wouldn’t have been long before somebody decided to do a film on the era.

Singles is the original soundtrack album to the 1992 film Singles, primarily focused on the ascendant Seattle grunge scene of the early 1990s. It also features contributions from Minneapolis’ Paul Westerberg (his first solo material after the breakup of The Replacements), Chicago’s The Smashing Pumpkins, and past Seattle artists Jimi Hendrix and The Lovemongers (Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, the latter of whom was the wife of the film’s director Cameron Crowe at the time). This album got me into other bands Alice in Chains, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees who feature on this soundtrack. The film may not have been great but that was besides the point as the music on the soundtrack was what makes this a great album.

Another movie soundtrack Judgment Night came out a year later in 1993.

Again a terrible movie but what a collaboration for this line up. Every song on the soundtrack was a collaboration between hip-hop artists and rock artists. The album spawned four singles, Fallin’ by Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul, Another Body Murdered by Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E., Just Another Victim by Helmet and House of Pain, and Judgment Night by Biohazard and Onyx. This is a fantastic album and it definitely takes the genre of hip-hop and rock to a new level.

Overall my all time favourite compilation album from the 1990s is No Alternative from 1993 which was an album released to benefit AIDS relief. The album features original tracks and cover versions from bands who went on to define the alternative rock scene of the 1990s.

It was released with two different versions of album art: the standard version depicting a boy (without the Nirvana song listed on the back and liner notes), and the alternate version depicting a girl (some with and some without the Nirvana song listed on the back and liner notes). My copy of it includes the hidden Nirvana track.

A fantastic talent of who’s who of the alternative scene at the time included Matthew Sweet, Buffalo Tom, Soul Asylum, Urge Overkill, American Music Club, Goo Goo Dolls, Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Mould, Sarah McLachlan, Soundgarden, The Verlaines, Uncle Tupelo, Patti Smith, The Breeders and Beastie Boys as well as the uncredited Nirvana track. This album is a solid 10 out of ten, all killer and no filler.

Friday 11 September

When you think of the significance of today’s date, the anniversary of the terror attacks in America this day in 2001 it was probably no coincidence that I picked Bruce Springsteen for today’s playlist. Had played most of his earlier stuff during lockdown so today I picked six albums by Bruce that all touch on the American dream and there is no better artist to write about it than Bruce.

The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995) was Bruce’s second acoustic album, the first one being Nebraska. The album is mainly backed by acoustic guitar work and the lyrics on most tracks are a somber reflection of life in the mid-1990s in America and Mexico.

 The character of Tom Joad entered the American consciousness in John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, set against the economic hardships of the Great Depression. The film version starring Henry Fonda, which in turn inspired folk singer Woody Guthrie to pen The Ballad of Tom Joad. Bruce is no stranger to the works for Woody Guthrie and has even covered This Land Is Your Land. The tour that followed this album was a more stripped down smaller tour playing small venues. Bruce came to Belfast for the first time in 1996 when the tour stopped by here playing at the King’s Hall. A truly memorable gig.

The follow up to The Ghost of Tom Joad was The Rising (2002) but I opted for the next acoustic album, Devils & Dust (2005) as it had got an airing earlier during lockdown. Bruce was very open about that many of the songs from Devils & Dust dated back a decade.

He had written the song All the Way Home for Southside Johnny to use in his album Better Days which was released in 1991. The songs Long Time Comin and The Hitter were written and performed during Bruce’s solo Ghost of Tom Joad Tour in 1996. Devils & Dust is also known to have been written previously, and was featured in soundchecks during The Rising Tour beginning in the summer of 2003 and the following year during the Vote for Change Tour in late 2004.

Wrecking Ball (2012) featured tracks that featured Clarence Clemons, who died in June 2011. Clemons performs the saxophone solos on Land of Hope and Dreams and backing saxophone rhythms on the title track. An absolute legend and a sad loss. His nephew Jake would then join the E Street band for saxophone duties.

Wrecking Ball was described as Bruce’s angriest yet tackling subject matter such as economic justice, financial crisis and disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The album is a fantastic collection of songs that blend different styles from the muscular hootenanny folk-rock of his Seeger Sessions album, with touches of noble gospel, poignant jazz trumpet and feisty Irish rebel music. The Wrecking Ball tour came to Ireland where Bruce played at five venues throughout the country making another trip to Belfast the King’s Hall grounds only this time outside.

High Hopes (2014) featured his regular backing band, the E Street band as well as Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) on guitar. Tom would also join tour. Contributions from deceased E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici are also included on the album.

This is the first Bruce album composed entirely of covers, outtakes and reimagined versions of songs from past albums and tours. High Hopes was originally recorded in 1995 and released on the Blood Brothers (EP). According to Springsteen, Morello suggested they perform the song during the Wrecking Ball Tour, which ultimately led to it being re-recorded. American Skin (41 Shots) was originally written in 2000 in response to the death of Amadou Diall.  

During the Wrecking Ball Tour, Bruce started to perform the song again as a tribute to Trayvon Martin. The Ghost of Tom Joad has been performed many times, often featuring Morello on guitar and trading vocals with Springsteen. The track had been covered by Morello’s former band, Rage Against the Machine.

Morello also inspired the performances of two covers that ended up being recorded. Just Like Fire Would is a cover of Australian punk rock band The Saints’ 1986 single, while “Dream Baby Dream” is a cover of the protopunk band Suicide’s 1979 single.

I never got round to getting the Tracks boxset at the time, opting to buy the cheaper 18 tracks CD version which was released as 18 Tracks in 1999.

The single album was intended to capture more casual fans, and thus was oriented towards the shorter, more pop-oriented selections from Bruce Springsteen’s vault. The main boxset of Tracks released the year earlier had four discs of 66 songs. I will definitely be hunting this one out to add to my collection as it has passed me by all these years.

Last word on Bruce goes to his last release before the new album Letter to You came out – Western Stars (2019) is a different kind of album one that he has never done before.

The album was influenced by “Southern California pop music” of the 1970s, including artists such as Glen Campbell and Burt Bacharach. It is a very country orientated album and country music is not normally something that I’d listen to but Bruce really works his magic on this one. I wasn’t sure if I would have liked it but it is really brilliant.

With 2020 being the year it has been and soon coming to a close it is great to be able to look forward to his new album, Letter to You which is a welcome relief for this bleak year.

Music life in lockdown week 5

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to as part of working from home.  I have decided to change things up a wee bit on the blog.  So without further ado this is the review of week beginning 20 April.  Got a lot to catch up on.

Monday 20/04 – KerbdogSoundtrack April 20

Starting of the week with Kilkenny’s finest, Kerbdog.  They only released two albums, the self titled album in 1993 which was produced by Jack Endino who helped cement the Seattle grunge sound and On a Turn (1997).

The band split and Cormac and Darragh from Kerbdog went on to form Wilt, releasing two albums, Bastinado (2000) and My Medicine (2002).  Described as Ireland’s version of Husker Du and Weezer.  Wilt broke up in 2003.

So inbetween albums by both Kerbdog and Wilt, I was listening to Pledge which was a covers based tribute to the band.  Not that many big names on it but stand out on was Frank Turner doing his version of Sally.

The live album recorded in 2014 was released thanks to a Pledge campaign.

Tuesday 21/04 – U2Soundtrack April 21

Love them or hate them, U2 are worthy of my listening pleasure.  With a vast back catalogue I went for my favourites here.

U2 were the first band I really got into when I was at school.  In fairness probably the only band I have stuck with from my teenage years.

I picked five albums here to listen to.

Under a Blood Red Sky was the first U2 album I ever bought.  I played this album to death.  The album was recorded during the War tour.  War (1983) was really my first proper U2 album.

1987 was the big year for me.  My last year in school, my final exams, my 16th birthday and The Joshua Tree (1987).  A really great album.  So good I rushed out to get it for my birthday and didn’t even know about the up and coming Belfast gig at the King’s Hall that summer!  Damn, missed that one for a first ever concert.  I wouldn’t get to see the band until 1993.

The next two albums, Achtung Baby (1991) and Zoororpa (1993)  were truly great albums of the 1990s.  Must admit I didn’t quite warm to Zooropa first time round but after listening to it again it really was the perfect companion album to Achtung Baby.

Wednesday 22/04 – Bruce Springsteen

Midweek lockdown tunes all provided by The Boss!  A perfect day to stick on some great albums.  My introduction to the music of Bruce Springsteen began in 1984 when I first heard Dancing in the Dark.  I remember seeing a tv documentary on him and really liked the music.  Born In the USA (1984) was the first Bruce Springsteen album I bought.

Was too young at the time to go to see him at Slane.  Finally got to see him in 1993.

Knowing that he had a back catalogue the next albums I bought were Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) and The River (1980).  Not played here as I don’t have it on CD was the Live 1975-85 box set which I have on vinyl.

So for Bruce, this box set of all his albums from 1973 to 1984 were listened to.  I added Tunnel of Love (1987) to the mix.

Thursday 23/04 – early 1990s indieSoundtrack April 25

Changing things up a bit today with some British indie albums from the 1990s.  NME and Melody Maker were the taste makers of the day.  I picked six albums from that period, two by Teenage Fanclub, Ride, The Stone Roses, Swervedriver and Elastica.

Ride and Swervedriver were both part of the shoegazing scene from the early 1990s.  I was listening to Ride’s first album Nowhere (1990) and Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head (1993).

The Stones Roses debut album is really the tail end of the 1980s but it fits in with the 1990s theme here.  Wasn’t a fan at the time, I actually didn’t get into them until their second album from 1994 Second Coming.  It was ok but it opened the door to appreciate the first album.  They only released two albums.

I got into Elastica in 1995, their debut album played here.  It was the fastest selling debut since Definitely Maybe by Oasis.

Teenage Fanclub get two albums played here, Bandwagonseque (1991) and Grand Prix (1995) are two of my favourite albums.  Bandwagonesque topped Spin magazines best of poll for 1991 beating Nirvana’s Nevermind, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and REM’s Out of Time.  Quite an achievement!

Friday 24/04 – Therapy?Soundtrack April 24

Local heroes Therapy? round off the working week and what a collection of albums to listen to!  When you have a songs called Nowhere and Isolation they are the perfect band for these unusual times.

Grunge lead me to Therapy? I wasn’t very well clued up on the local scene.  For me Irish bands began and ended with U2.  Big mistake.  There are plenty of other great Irish bands out there.  You just had to go out and find them.

Therapy? have been around for 30 years so quite a task to pick the playlist today but I opted for old, new and live.

Kicking off with Nurse (1992) this was my first Therapy? album and I have been into them ever since.  The follow up to Nurse, Troublegum (1994) is a absolute masterpiece.  The album produced a clutch of Top 40 singles including Screamager, Nowhere and Die Laughing.

Infernal Love (1995) for me one of those difficult albums.  At the time it got a bit of lukewarm response.  Looking back on it now it is not that bad of an album.  Listening to it again I quite enjoyed it.

The next three albums are all recent.  Crooked Timber (2009) and Cleave (2018) showed that the band were in fine form.  Finishing off day with a dose of some live Therapy? now that gigs are all either cancelled or postponed due to the virus, 2010’s We’re Here to the End is a nice retrospective live collection of fan favourites.  Clocking in 36 tracks over two CDs it certainly makes up for not getting to any gigs.