beastie boys - check your head

Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (1992)

It’s telling that the Beastie Boys are pictured with instruments on the cover of Check Your Head, their third album.  Constantly searching and evolving, the group put more of an emphasis on using live instrumentation, bringing in much more of the punk, rock, and soul/funk roots that colored their childhood.  If Paul’s Boutique is (arguably) the “best” Beastie Boys album, then Check Your Head is my favorite Beastie Boys album, the one that made me fall in love with the band. Continue reading “Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (1992)”

beastie boys - paul's boutique

Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (1989)

The sonic leap between License to Ill and Paul’s Boutique is – quite frankly – insane.  Freed from the shackles of Def Jam, Rick Rubin, and expectations of the fun but juvenile hip-hop of their debut, Mike D., Ad Rock and MCA, aka the Beastie Boys were able to dive deep into their influences and craft one of the best albums of all time, regardless of genre.  We can certainly argue this, but you’d be wrong. Continue reading “Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (1989)”

beach boys - pet sounds

The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)

Can anything else be said about Pet Sounds?  Is there someone out there who doesn’t immediately fall into the devastating harmonies and melodies Brian Wilson devised for the Beach Boys to execute on?  If there is I can’t convince you, and it’s questionable if I even want to know you.  It is timeless, it is endless, and it never fails to lift my spirits and engage my ear and mind on a number of levels.  Not bad for an album over 50 years old. Continue reading “The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)”

bauhaus - crackle

Bauhaus: Crackle (1998)

The truth of the matter is Bauhaus scratch a very particular itch for me, one I don’t get very often.  I picked up Crackle, their 1998 compilation back when it first came out and I was diving into different music, looking for something different.  At the time it was enough to satiate me when I was in the mood for dark and sullen punk, when Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees weren’t cutting it.  Nowadays I’m more apt to stream one of the actual albums, but as a timepiece of their time here on this muddy confusing planet, it does a great job showing what made the band so vital. Continue reading “Bauhaus: Crackle (1998)”

bathory - nordland ii

Bathroy: Nordland II (2003)

The 12th and final album from Bathory is a continuation of the Nordland saga set forth on 2002’s Nordland I.  For better or worse, Nordland II is a case of “second verse, same as the first” meaning there are pockets of brilliance and pockets of just waiting for the next song to come on.  You can argue whether one album is better than another, but the truth is there’s a remarkable consistency to the records.  That consistency however means everything feels interchangeable instead of progression that leads to fabled destination. Continue reading “Bathroy: Nordland II (2003)”

bathory - nordland i

Bathory: Nordland I (2002)

After Twilight of the Gods solidified the place of Bathory among the progenitors of viking metal, things went a bit astray.  Quorthon put out a solo album, and Bathory went back to the blackened thrash of the earlier albums for a time.  Nothing quite seemed to congeal.  That is until Nordland I, the first of a planned four-part masterwork that would bring back the viking metal in full force to walk through the tales of Nordic myths and legends.  This was my first real experience experience with Bathory, and similar to to when I first heard it, there’s a lot that works and admittedly a bit that doesn’t. Continue reading “Bathory: Nordland I (2002)”

bathory - twilight of the gods

Bathory: Twilight of the Gods (1991)

By now the switch from any kind of extreme thrash/black metal is gone, and Twilight of the Gods represents the full vision of Bathory into pure anthemic Viking Metal. Taken as a template for the style and a touchstone for dozens of bands who would iterate on the idea later, it might be near perfect. As a satisfying and cohesive album there’s a lot to love, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed a little of the punch and pleasure from the faster, more immediate songs from the past. Continue reading “Bathory: Twilight of the Gods (1991)”