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)”

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)”

bad religion - the dissent of man

Bad Religion: The Dissent of Man (2010)

I used to think that Bad Religion alternated between great and okay records.  And at the time of picking up The Dissent of Man I thought this was proving the hypothesis: after the rage and aggression of New Maps Of Hell this felt lighter, less substantial.  Maybe the Obama years weren’t providing the fodder the band needed to thrive?  Closer, older listening over the weekend proved otherwise; here was a band moving into different sonic landscapes, but underneath a more relaxed rock vibe still lay the ire and rage of a much younger band. Continue reading “Bad Religion: The Dissent of Man (2010)”

bad religion - new maps of hell

Bad Religion: New Maps Of Hell (2007)

It took three years for Bad Religion to craft their follow-up to The Empire Strikes First, and while New Maps Of Hell doesn’t quite reach the heights its predecessor did, there are moments where it almost manages to strike that particular nerve.  It’s a little darker, a little angrier, and a little faster, but it’s still Bad Religion, which means it’s still a blast to play. Continue reading “Bad Religion: New Maps Of Hell (2007)”

bad religion - the empire strikes first

Bad Religion: The Empire Strikes First (2004)

It’s a sad reality that turbulent times feed art like little else.  Whether it’s internally generated or a product of the outside world, art seems to thrive and feel more vibrant when it’s railing against the tyranny of the negative.  Enter Album #13 from Bad Religion, the so good I didn’t realize how good it was at the time it came out The Empire Strikes First.  With the horror of the Bush years as fodder, the band makes the most rock and roll album of their career, and it’s brutally good.  Continue reading “Bad Religion: The Empire Strikes First (2004)”

bad religion - the process of belief

Bad Religion: The Process of Belief (2002)

You might consider the years 1996-2000 the lean ones for Bad Religion.  After the rousing success of Stranger Than Fiction for Atlantic the band, now without Brett Gurewitz, had to rely on Greg Graffin for the vast majority of the songwriting.  And so The Grey Race, No Substance, and The New America merged together into a slightly unfocused, softer and more radio accessible (though they got practically no radio play) period for the band.  Strange to say it, but the key to the band’s invigoration was easy: go back to the way things were.  And so Brett Gurewitz returned, the band went back to Epitaph, and The Process of Belief came to blow everyone’s doors down.  Continue reading “Bad Religion: The Process of Belief (2002)”

bad religion - all ages

Bad Religion: All Ages (1995)

So even though Bad Religion left for the exotic lands of major labels, Epitaph still had the rights to the early album and thus All Ages was born.  If you needed any proof as to the power of a band to righteously rock you with pulverizing riffs and sweet, sweet harmonized choruses, you need look no further.  From the very beginning Bad religion could seamlessly blend melody, power, and an erudite lyrical bent that was progressive and wise and clever and I might as well overuse righteous because, well..it was all that and more. Continue reading “Bad Religion: All Ages (1995)”