The People’s Albums: #28 The Wall

Yeah, I don’t really have anything to say about the piece you are about to (hopefully) read since I already wrote it, and at this point it all seems a lot longer and more self-indulgent than it needed to be.  But hey, that seems more than appropriate considering the nature of this latest addition to The People’s Albums.

Album: The Wall
Artist: Pink Floyd
Release Date: November 30, 1979
Copies Sold In The U.S.: 13.4 Million

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Our Town

Well, if there’s one thing I can say that that Parks And Recreation finale failed to deliver on, it’s that it didn’t culminate in me balling my eyes out about this most beloved of sitcoms.  Nope, my eyes were left firmly dry in the wake of our final moments in Pawnee, but perhaps I was expecting too much, especially if I was expecting this show to provoke such an extreme emotional reaction in this cold-hearted cynic to what was in the end just a low-rated show on a dying network.  But I only expected this because this is the kind of hope Parks And Recreation delivered to me each week for the past seven seasons — the hope that a traditional workplace sitcom built around a lovable cast of characters could still work in this day age.  But unprovoked tears aside, I’m really glad this show was able to go out the way it did, and even more so since the conclusion of this “little show that could” weirdly feels like a genuine end of an era, if not multiple eras. Continue reading

Stream Police Ep. 16: Shakespeare in Love

It’s an Oscar Extravaganza on Stream Police! Who gets to walk the red carpet this week? Why it’s good ‘ol Bill Shakespeare from the 1998 Best Picture Winner Shakespeare in Love. If that wasn’t enough, listen to Michael and John dish on this weekend’s prestigious award show. Who will take home the gold? Why the listeners of this podcast of course!

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The People’s Albums: #29 Supernatural

What, you thought I was done doing these?  No, of course not.  The People’s Albums are still going strong and especially now that I’m comin’ back at ya with an album that is, well, probably one of the more irrelevant albums I’ve talked about.  But regardless, let’s whip out the congas and dig into an album that has very little use now other than being a very colorful drink coaster.

Album: Supernatural
Artist: Santana
Release Date: June 15, 1999
Copies Sold In The U.S.: 13 Million

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Retrospecticus: Sleater-Kinney

Shortly after the release of last year’s Start Together box set, Sleater-Kinney announced that they were returning after a ten year hiatus with a brand new album. The news made me ecstatic, and I don’t think the return of any other defunct rock band could make me feel quite the same way. Sleater-Kinney were a very important band to me, even though I only caught up with them a few years after they’d already broken up. A lot has been written about Sleater-Kinney’s impact on music in general, and many people have similar stories about how important their music was to shaping their taste, their personal politics, or even their identity. While I don’t have a particularly unique story about how I discovered their music or what it meant to me personally, I can say that they’ve opened my mind and rocked my face in a way few bands have. Here’s my take on their discography, including some tentative thoughts on their new album, No Cities to Love.

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Only Together Do We Break The Rules

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

“Eh, that’s cool I guess.  But I don’t know, I never really got into them.”

This — because I am a fucking idiot — was my reaction to last year’s news that the long dormant Sleater-Kinney was finally back together and had a new album on the way.  Because, believe me, I tried a few times over the course of Sleater-Kinney’s hiatus to get into them, but I could never quite muster up anything more than liking a few of their songs while still having polite respect for what they meant to the late ’90s/early ’00s.  And then I finally got around to hearing The Woods.  After a six album run built on well-executed tension between these three superb musicians, The Woods to me feels like the album where (maybe because they knew it’d be their last) Sleater-Kinney just let it all out in a violent, crunchy, and all-encompassingly awesome testament to really loud rock n’ roll.  And weirdly enough, this album has worked as a sort of keyhole through which I was finally able to comprehend and appreciate the entire S-K discography, since it’s pretty much all I’d been listening to for a good month or two in preparation for their latest, No Cities To Love.

First off, I have to give props to No Cities To Love for being one of the few “reunion albums” that doesn’t contain a single slower ballad that’s there to remind us that these ladies are an entire decade older than the last time we heard them on record.  No, at a punchy 32 minutes, this album never even remotely lets up in terms of intensity, while it’s slowest song is the still-pretty-god-damn-heavy “Fade”.  Which is why I feel like a jerk for even using a term like “reunion album” in regards to something as vital as No Cities To Love.  Because the fact of the matter is, Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss together have this kind of interlocking synergy of sharp angles and unkempt energy that has the power to steamroll any other band in their wake.  Which just makes me all the more furious that all three nights they’re playing the Showbox in Seattle sold out almost immediately, and therefore I probably will not be able to seem them crush it live on their upcoming tour.

And while it isn’t terribly surprising that No Cities To Love features a lot of the hallmarks of the Sleater-Kinney sound, it so far stands out to me as being the easiest S-K album to sing along with.  However, to say that these choruses merely have hooks seems almost a little demeaning, as they more often than not feel like a call to arms, which just further deepens this band’s innate ability to feel like more than just a band.  Of these choruses, the one from “Hey Darling” has stuck with me the most, as it sees Tucker simply declaring that “It seems to me the only thing that comes from fame’s mediocrity”.  Which maybe you could poke holes in considering Sleater-Kinney’s guitarist is on television quite frequently, but to me just feels emblematic of this band’s ability to stay indie and stay amazing for so long, and without compromising a thing.

Favorite Tracks: “Surface Envy”, “No Cities To Love”, “Hey Darling”