Monthly Archives: June 2011

Not a Music Review

I just read a page at Invisible Oranges which asked the question :- Are album reviews obsolete? According to the writer, this question came to his mind because album reviews perform very poorly in terms of “hits” generated. He goes on to state that “for presenting content, the album review is the worst form for doing so.” According to him “album streams”, “track premieres” are better forms i.e. gimmicks for presenting and promoting an album.

Sigh. I think I can understand where this line of thought comes from. Music listeners today can download albums through torrents, whenever they want, however they want. There is no market for reviews anymore, people can download an album to see for themselves what the music is like, its not like they are gonna spend actual money. From the viewpoint of a big site that wants to garner loads of hits to earn money, or just wants to get hits for the heck of it, the album review has become obsolete. But maybe, MAYBE, this is because the majority of the reviewers in today’s date are ass kissers. Maybe it is because every site on the net today is involved with a “scene.” Maybe it is because the discerning music listener got tired of every “4.75” and every *** handed out at the drop of a hat to every other Tom, Dick and Harry band. If it is Pitchfork then you know who is getting the album of the year award. don’t you? Things are even worse in the metal arena. If I trusted every site and bought albums according to the reviews then I’ll probably go bankrupt.

The thing is that most people realize that if they want to earn money from their site or get hits just to boost their damn ego, they should either go for illuminating “interviews” aka kissing more ass or for album reviews which do the same thing. There are very few reviewers who are worth reading and surprise! surprise! most of them are individuals who just do it because its a way to escape the damned misery of daily life, and have no false illusions of their own importance and self-worth in the scheme of things.

This is why we here at TDSR never believed in rating albums through numbers or stars or whatever. At the start, I could have at the very maximum thought of having a grading system, something like the one I tried out on this movie review blog. However, movies, it turns out, are easier to review and give grades to than music. Music as an art form is so incredibly complex and subjective, the thought of assigning grades to most of the stuff seemed incredibly narrow. Of course there is some stuff which would score an A or 10/10 or whatever and then there would be stuff that scores an F or 1/10 and so on and so forth. But most of the music I listen to lies somewhere in between. Things get further complicated by the fact that my perceptions keep changing with time about music. Stuff I didn’t like or couldn’t listen to sometime ago, I like now and vice versa. As a listener and connoisseur of music, unless you are really dumb or really like to stick to your “roots”, you will keep growing and learning. (Yes, I have to admit that Motorhead/AC/DC/Ramones/Pink Floyd/Led Zeppelin alone cannot satisfy me any longer.)

Therefore, dear reader, if indeed, there is anybody reading this (after all this blog is only ever read by me and El Bajista and 2 other regular readers) you must understand why I can only look at most review sites with a mixture of suspicion/disbelief/cynicism. Cmon, how can you review an album the day after its released? Even with multiple reviewers? OK, so sometimes some albums strike you more quickly and I can understand that, but every friggin time?

Therefore, this music reviewer would like to humbly conclude that album reviews have been made obsolete by capitalism i.e the music industry, they are not obsolete per se. Even from personal experience, I come to the same conclusion. Some review sites like Mark Prindle, Only Solitaire, John McFerrin helped me get to a lot of music that I would have never heard or caught on to, after all how does a kid who started listening to music in 2004 ever get hold of the good stuff? How does he even start to understand the evolution of music history? (Unless and until he has peer group or some elder, wiser guy helping him out, I dunno, my peer group mostly listened to Bollywood, most settled for whatever-is-on-the-friggin-radio).

On another note, I am going through some big changes, where I will have lesser and lesser time to devote to this little undertaking, so I hope that El Bajista persists and keeps the TDSR flag flying proudly. If you thought that I don’t do many reviews, well, in the words of Judas Priest, you’ve got an another thing coming. Coupled with this is the fact that I am listening lesser and lesser to rock music and more to classical music, which is obviously not something that I can review, assuming that a review is even needed (No, it’s not needed, just in case you were wondering. All of it is awesome, pick anything).

This is not goodbye, just a sort of temporary farewell, and mostly directed towards El Bajista, who I’ve not talked to for a while. Music remains a way of life, and I hope I die before becoming deaf. And that sounds right. You betcher. 

P.S – Here I would also like to give a shout out to Satan Stole My Teddybear which is the best metal review site I’ve ever read. People looking to get into metal could start over there. (People who really, really have no clue should stick to…ummm.. I don’t know, try here)

Once a Rock’n’Roller, Always a Rock’n’Roller

-Baba T 

Those the Brokes – THE MAGIC NUMBERS – 2006

The trouble with being contrarian is that it becomes tiresome for others. Even if you’re not willfully so, you risk resentment from the conforming majority. In music, contrarianism is usually reactionary and aggressive. Think punk as the antithesis to prog, or thrash as the antithesis to glam. But what about the Magic Numbers? When they came along, they were the polar opposite to gangsta-rap, most of which is a mine-is-bigger-than-yours debate with beats. The surprising thing was that they were contrarian by being cute: Four slightly overweight individuals with vintage instruments being unashamedly emotional. It was a potential revolution. But now, they have to live up to that milestone by being constantly innovative and not have the interest in them shift back to the cock-swinging mainstream. And Those The Brokes is their weapon of choice. Does it work?

Well, to begin with, its slightly less upbeat in tone, with slightly slower rhythms, which are nevertheless just as busy as on the first album. A round of drinks to the drummer, who manages to coax a genuinely ‘romantic’ sound from the drums. That means his sound has a simple, fairly uncompressed bass-drum and snare combination, with an emphasis on the watery shimmer of cymbals, helped along by the almost fatuous tambourine playing fourth member, who I shall henceforth refer to as ‘the appendix’.

I’m glad the band incorporated female vocals into these songs, and expanded on the number of duet songs, with good results on “Slow Down” and “Most of the Time”. There is even an attempt at a full female led song in “Take me or Leave Me”. It has nice lyrics, but is spoiled by overindulgence in string arrangements. Wanting some Bach-nookie is all well and good, but it spoils what I think should’ve been a stark and hollow auditorium of a song. I’m not sure whether the appendix was involved in these songs, but I’m sure I heard two female voices. Wikipedia and The Magic Numbers’ website offer no suggestions as to who it was.

A friend of mine was kind enough to tell me that the first album was the best. I told him that I’d give the Numbers a chance and judge the rest without any bias. Well? Unfortunately, on the first hearing of Those The Brokes, I can’t help but agree with him. I like the groove and the waltzy section on “Boy,”, and “Take a Chance” is a great song through and through, but the compelling song structures and memorable melodies aren’t really around. Throughout the album, I was struggling to catch a whiff of something to latch on to. Call it over-expectation after a great debut. Several songs started fetchingly, such as “Undecided”, but fell flat, with only the occasional resurfacing of the unexpected structures and mid-song hooks that made the first album such a refreshing listen.

The problem, I suspect, is that the band simply didn’t work hard enough to move the sound forward, perhaps in fear of alienating a very specific fanbase. Yes, its slightly more mature sounding, and slightly more Baroque in its arrangements and lyrics. But in the failing to gently coax the goalposts into new territory the way the first album did, the overall impression may be sufficiently summarized in the following phrase: Wimp Rock.

It might seem seem a little harsh to condemn the album this way, but only “Take a Chance” really made an impression on me. It is the only song I’d like to come back to. Those The Brokes shows some signs of development, but they are way too fetal to justify a whole new album. Contrarian it ain’t. Try again Romero Stodart and Co. This doesn’t sound right.

- El Bajista




Hammerheart is Blood, Fire, Death done on an even wider, more epic and grander proto-black metal fashion. It also signifies the birth of viking metal as a sub-sub genre in extreme metal. Refer the review of the preceding album. I’ve nothing much to add other than a few minor notes.

Quorthon should have entrusted the clean vocalist part to someone else. His voice sounds weak and struggles to make an impact which is fitting for the guitarwork and the unearthly male choir which lies buried underneath. Otherwise the songwriting is truly war like and magnificent. There have been many clones since but the TDSR rule is that the original equals the best. The ambience created is unforgettable and complements the whole viking concept and aura. Essential Bathory.

-Baba T

Los Angeles-X-1980

I am not much of a punk listener, some Ramones, some Stooges, Clash’s London Calling (which ain’t even much of punk) and that’s all. I can’t tell you who X did or did not sound like, and I don’t even know much about the LA and NY punk scenes at the time. All I can talk about is what Los Angeles sounds like. It sounds like a 1950’s rockabilly troupe arriving via a time machine in 1980, listening to punk, and deciding that it would be a good idea to somehow infuse the old stuff with the punk spirit. Listen to the classic “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” to understand what I mean. Given a good partner I could dance to this stuff, easy peasy. Not head bang or jump up or down waving my hands kinda stuff, but a proper free style kinda couple dance. However, if you are willing to look past the immediate riffs, this still is punk. Its fast, the lyrics are punkish and the vocals are undeniably punk, and not only that, the vocal hooks are awesome, some of the times better than the guitars itself, and its mostly the female who is responsible for these moments. Hear the refrain of “But You’re Not” at the ending of “You’re Phone’s off the Hook, But You’re Not”, and the “no no nooo” in “Soul Kitchen”.

Things get a little muddled up in between with “Nausea” which stinks and has Doors like keyboards, most probably due to Ray Manzarek’s involvement with this album (he’s the producer, I think so, didn’t look it up). The keyboards pop up with much better effect on “The Unheard Music” which stands out because of the different vibe and aesthetics. The second half of the album is more straight up punk with “Sugarlight” and the title track. Things pick up with “Sex and Dying in High Society” whose lyrics never fail to catch my attention, and the chorus sticks for a long time in my head. My favourite track however is “The World’s a Mess, It’s in my kiss”, which somehow has ended up being my favourite punk ditty as of the date of writing. Excellent stuff. Dunno if this has the legendary tag or not, but it sure sounds right.  I think I might try some more punk from now on.

Recommended Tracks – I think I named all of them.

-Baba T 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 478 other followers

%d bloggers like this: