Posts Tagged ‘90s’

A few years ago, I was going through a phase where I would listen to a considerable number of albums every day, in the hope of finding something that would resurrect the excitement I had once felt when listening to albums such as King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King” or, better yet, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. While my goal was somewhat clear, nothing seemed to work for me then. I was about to give up, when I read a review about an album that would soon flush away all the frustrations about not being able to draw any feeling from the music I listened to.

The moment I discovered Jeff Buckley’s „Grace”, my experience of music took an unexpected turn for the better. In many ways it was different from the two aforementioned quintessential prog albums (which I had often used as a measure for other music). However it possessed a sensibility and fragility that I had never found elsewhere. It was as if some ethereal creature from another world had decided to leave a sign of its presence on Earth, but remain anonymous by using Buckley’s voice and likeness. And this analogy, which might seem a bit far-fetched, might actually reflect to a certain extent Jeff Buckley’s influence on the music scene. Gone from the world far too early, a person of formidable talent, he did manage to leave a legacy, in the form of one album, that will send shivers down the spines of music lovers for… well, forever. I can’t really see it any other way.

It’s not easy to objectively comment upon an album one is so emotionally attached to, but I’ve decided that, after all, I’m not even going to try to write an objective review. No, this will be about the “Grace” that blew my mind away, sending waves of adrenalin through my body, literally F-ing up my psyche into sheer ecstasy (by ‘literally’ I actually mean ‘figuratively’, just so you know). But just to entertain the illusion that this is not my personal review, I’ll use the second person from now on. This should hopefully do the trick of getting you involved in the description I’m about to give.


The album opens with some quiet, otherworldy electric guitar harmonics and arpeggiated chordal work, subtly emphasised with a whammy bar and volume pedal. Then Buckley’s voice comes in. This is when you realise your ears are in for a real treat. The voice strikes you as gentle yet raw and you get a certain feeling that this is not where the surprises stop. And indeed it isn’t. By the second chorus, the voice starts to soar while the instrumentation simply explodes in a Zeppelin-esque manner. There’s tension and release, then tension and release again, and your brain slowly gets flooded with endorphins. Now you’re ready for what comes next.


The title track is simply amazing. Retaining some of the tension and otherworldliness of the previous song, it manages to take you new places with its slightly more constant and alert beat and Buckley’s vocals ranging from breathy to almost shouted. And here you start to get the sense of the singer’s incredible 4-octave vocal range.


‘Last Goodbye’ is somewhat of a pop song, which doesn’t mean it is any less enjoyable. The intro slide guitar riff, complemented by the catchy bass line (which gets repeated in different forms throughout the song) is one of the better moments of the song. The run through different tonalities and timbres makes the song interesting enough to belong on this nearly-perfect album.


‘Lilac Wine’ is the first cover on the album (there are two more: ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Corpus Christi Carol’). It is a serene and sensitive song and its sparse and quiet instrumentation leaves room for the singer’s perfectly-controlled voice. At this point you realise that there are many sides to Buckley’s musical sensibility.


‘So Real’ is one of the more powerful moments on the LP. The lyrics and the vocal melody blend so well that you cannot help but think of how it echoes the avant-garde experimentation on Tim Buckley, Jeff’s Father’s, album ‘Lorca’. Complete with dissonant guitar parts and controlled vocal disorder, it hints at the darker, more chaotic side of Buckley’s psyche.


‘Hallelujah’ is one of the few covers in rock history that manage to surpass the original. While Leonard Cohen’s version is indeed a wonderful performance, Buckley adds the depth of his own voice and sensibility to the song. While the dynamic variations in the song are subtle, there are so many hair-raising moments that it is as if you were enraptured and taken apart, neuron by overstimulated neuron, by Buckley’s voice – which, on this track, reaches its peak in terms of clarity and expressiveness. It is hardly imaginable how a song conveying so much pain and disappointment can have such an uplifting effect.


A composition more in the realm of soul music than anything else, ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ nicely highlights Buckley’s vocal ability, and the band’s instrumental prowess. Buckley’s voice is perfectly fitted for this kind of composition.


A reprise of a Middle English hymn, ‘Corpus Christi Carol’, with its peaceful instrumentation and ethereal vocal part, is a song that, while somewhat detached from the rest of the album, can bring the listener to emotional areas yet unvisited. Buckley shifts freely from his head voice to his falsetto voice throughout the song, which contributes to the feeling of otherworldly serenity.


The heavy ‘Eternal Life’ kicks in full blast, spoiling the effect of the previous song a little. The lyrical content is also powerful, while possessing a certain naivety. It’s a song that kicks your heart around as if it were a soccer ball in a room with walls only two feet apart. A good song indeed, but it somewhat pales in comparison to the final track.


‘Dream Brother’ closes the album in a vigorous and emotionally intense manner. Lyrically making reference to Buckley’s father’s absence during Jeff’s early life, this song is almost mind-altering. It is as if digging out the bones of hated memories and then pouring cement over them. The closing line – “asleep in the sand, with the ocean washing over” literally washes over your mind, sending shivers and spikes through your body. It is glimpse into Jeff Buckley’s vantage point – the tragedy, the pain, the fear, the disappointment, but also the joy and numinous ecstasy of his short existence.

Jeff Buckley’s album “Grace” is not just an LP that you listen to, it is an experience that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until you listen to it again and again and again… Well it doesn’t really ever let you go. After hearing it once, your perception of music might never be the same.

Rating: 9.5/10


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STANEE! Las-o baa!

1. Perfect
2. Vecina
3. Luca
4. Tanta
5. Emigrant USA
6. Stan
7. Namol
8. Victoria

Succesul unei trupe ca Timpuri Noi la scurt timp dupa ’90, atunci cand muzica romaneasca ce nu se conforma ideii de „slagar” iesea in sfarsit din anonimat, este foarte explicabil. Tineri, plini de entuziasm si de idei, baietii aveau si unele atuuri in comparatie cu trupe deja recunoscute la nivel national precum Cargo sau Iris: in primul rand, ceea ce cantau ei suna mult mai „fresh”, si in al doilea rand, ei nu se prea luau in serios. Ironia si autoironia se face simtita de la vizionarea copertei pana la fiecare acord de pe fiecare piesa, si totusi piesele suna extrem de autentic si au un stil inconfundabil, preluat intr-o masura mai mare sau mai mica de multe trupe care le vor urma (Sarmalele Reci, Vama Veche, Taxi, etc).

Fara indoiala ca sufletul trupei e reprezentat de solistul Artan si de chitaristul Dan Iliescu (uneori solist si el). Insa intregul registru instrumental e foarte bine pus la punct si suna excelent. Toate piesele se incadreaza in limbajul rock, insa abordarea este variata. Piesa Emigrant USA este cel mai bun exemplu, incepand ca un blues traditional si incheindu-se in stil de heavy metal 70’s. Piese ca Vecina, Luca, Tanta, Namol au setat un standard pentru piesele pe care Timpuri Noi aveau sa le lanseze pe tot parcursul anilor 90: ghiduse, haioase, fredonabile, de facut show in concerte. Stan face si ea parte din categoria asta, fiind in acelasi timp un prilej pentru Iliescu sa isi etaleze skillurile de chitara (nu fara obisnuita autoironie, personajul Stan fiind un „chitarist” care isi tortureaza vecinii de la bloc). Pacat de calitatea inregistrarii, care la fel ca in cazul Cargo prezentat mai devreme,  lasa de dorit.

Prima si ultima piesa (Perfect si Victoria) reprezinta parca o incercare a trupei de a isi depasi limitele si de a face mai mult decat caterinca, versurile dobandesc un anume substrat in contextul societatii romanesti in tranzitie.

Timpuri Noi e cu siguranta un album de referinta pentru timpul sau si ramane unul dintre cele mai bune produse ale muzicii usoare de la noi, ridicandu-se fara nici o problema la standardele de calitate ale muzicii de afara, din toate punctele de vedere…mai putin cel al inregistrarii.

rating: 8.5/10

piese de referinta: Perfect, Tanta, Victoria

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Absurdul din nou a invins

1. Povestiri Din Gara
2. Ana
3. Buletin De Stiri
4. Doi Prieteni
5. Portile De Fier
6. 1989
7. Batacanda
8. Brigadierii
9. Erata

La momentul aparitiei acestui material, trupa Cargo era deja cunoscuta prin activitatea sa concertistica, si recunoscuta drept una dintre cele mai promitatoare trupe tinere din tara, pe care schimbarea de regim nu avea cum sa nu o incurajeze. De asemenea, tinand cont de orasul de provenienta (Timisoara) si de unele influente folclorice la nivel muzical, era normal sa se faca paralela cu trupa Phoenix. Intrebarea era daca baietii din Cargo erau cu adevarat de calibrul trupelor legendare cu care crescusera si care i-au influentat.

Povestiri din gara pare sa confirme  acest lucru, cel putin partial. Piesele sunt reprezentative pentru perioada imediata de tranzitie intre comunism si pseudo-capitalismul ce i-a urmat. Soundul trupei, desi anacronic in comparatie cu cel de peste hotare, era destul de proaspat pentru Romania. Principalul atu este vocea lui Kempes, una dintre putinele voci care iese in fata cand vorbim de rockul autohton, si care suna extrem de bine pe albumul de fata. Adi Barar face si el o treaba excelenta la chitara. Prima piesa, cea care imprumuta numele albumului, este poate cea mai buna, si ramane o piesa de referinta pentru inceputul anilor 90 de la noi. Refrenul este foarte catchy. Influentele folclorice nu puteau lasa indiferenti pe fanii trupelor ca Phoenix, iar pe de alta parte instrumentatia ii castiga pe fanii heavy-metal. Piesa Ana este mai comerciala, o balada fara prea mari pretentii insa care a avut succes la public. Buletin de Stiri se intoarce la o abordare mai metal, vocea lui Kempes iesind din nou la rampa. Piesa se doreste a fi de protest, ca si multe altele din muzica noastra, insa nu convinge. Desigur, in anii de dupa revolutie probabil ca avea o alta rezonanta. Doi prieteni e o piesa care pare a avea un caracter personal (fiind vorba de tatal unuia dintre membri), insa din punct de vedere muzical e sub nivelul albumului…cu cateva clase. Nici despre Portile de fier nu se pot spune prea multe, un instrumental nu foarte inspirat, si ca sa fim sinceri, destul de plictisitor, desi in ton cu albumul. 1989 e o noua piesa reprezentativa pentru perioada respectiva, desi nu prea seamana cu ceea ce canta Cargo, mai ales ca ritm, intrerpretarea lui Kempes facandu-ne insa sa uitam acest lucru. Urmatoarea piesa, Batacanda, e una dintre preferatele folkistilor montagnarzi de la noi. Din nou, Kempes face one-man-show. Ca sa fim sinceri, trupei asteia i-ar fi fost mult mai greu sa iasa din anonimat fara acest vocalist si timbrul lui inconfundabil. Brigadierii, desi o preluare, este o noua piesa clasica pentru perioada in care se incadreaza, cu accentele sale muncitoresti cu refrenul extrem de fredonabil, si finalul ironic fata de fostul regim. Barar isi arata si el clasa la chitara printr-unul dintre cele mai reusite solouri ale sale. Cat despre Erata, e o piesa cu un ritm mai alert decat media Cargo, insa destul de neinteresanta din toate celelalte puncte de vedere.

Un album clasic al rockului romanesc de la inceputul anilor 90, care ii prezinta pe Cargo ca una dintre putinele concurente ale trupei Iris , pe bransa aceea de muzica dezvoltata la noi pe modelul heavy metal, fara a fi metal cu adevarat (mai degraba hard rock). Cateva momente de glorie, care aveau sa dea nastere unei noi legende in rockul romanesc, insa si multe momente de mediocritate, toate tinute insa impreuna de vocea speciala a  lui Kempes. Calitatea inregistrarii, desi execrabila, nu poate sa nu nasca nostalgii pentru cei care au trait vremurile alea.

Piese remarcate: Povestiri din gara, Buletin de stiri, Batacanda, Brigadierii

Rating: 7,7/10

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Death – Crystal Mountain

asta e pentru mine cea mai buna piesa de metal extrem all-time.

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the good son

sorrow’s child grieves not what has passed, but all the past still yet to come

1. Foi Na Cruz
2. The Good Son
3. Sorrow’s Child
4. The Weeping Song
5. The Ship Song
6. The Hammer Song
7. Lament
8. The Witness Song
9. Lucy

Acesta e albumul prin intermediul caruia am facut cunostinta cu personajul Nick Cave. Unul excelent, printre cele mai bune ale sale, insa care te poate face sa te inseli destul de mult in legatura cu natura muzicii lui. Pentru ca e un album foarte atipic pentru el, foarte linistit. Coperta spune totul: Cave cantandu-le unor copilasi.

Si exact asa se prezinta acest material, inca de pe prima piesa, Foi Na Cruz (a carui refren e o preluare a unei melodii religioase braziliene). Aceasta exprima o pace interioara inedita pentru Cave, a carui stare conflictuala se manifesta pana atunci pe cam toate melodiile. Acest lucru e explicabil prin prisma vietii sale private, creatia albumului suprapunandu-se cu momentul in care reuseste sa isi invinga dependenta de heroina care il macinase pana atunci. Exista si cateva piese care fac trimitere la latura lui „salbatica” (cum ar fi cea care da titlul discului si care ilustreaza parabola fiului risipitor din perspectiva celuilalt fiu, cel cuminte, si evident frustrat), insa si acestea au un sound mult mai bland si mai usor de digerat decat cele cu care isi obisnuise Cave fanii. Instrumentatia urmeaza si ea acest tipar, fiind discreta in cele mai multe cazuri si permitandu-i lui Cave sa isi faca numarul.

Albumul demonstreaza ca baladele sunt punctul forte al artistului. Majoritatea sunt  memorabile, in special Sorrow’s Child (cu un pasaj de pian si versuri rascolitoare), The Weeping Song, The Ship Song…ultimul fiind unul dintre cele mai frumoase si mai simple cantece de dragoste compuse vreodata. Desigur, are concurenta chiar pe acest album din partea ultimei piese, Lucy, cea mai scurta, dar foarte intensa ca feeling.

Un album pe care poti sa te „chillax”, dar mult mai mult de atat. Un album esential al lui Nick Cave pe care il recomand oricui vrea o introducere usor de digerat in discografia acestui artist.

piese remarcate: absolut toate sunt bune. nici o „uscatura”.

rating: 9,5/10.

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De pe albumul Jar of flies (1993)

cu imagini de la revolutie.

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take another hit, and bury your brother!

1. We Die Young
2. Man In The Box
3. Sea Of Sorrow
4. Bleed The Freak
5. I Can’t Remember
6. Love, Hate, Love
7. It Ain’t Like That
8. Sunshine
9. Put You Down
10. Confusion
11. I Know Something (‘Bout You)
12. Real Thing

Facelift a fost unul dintre primele albume de grunge care a avut succes comercial, inainte ca Nevermind de la Nirvana sa atinga statutul de fenomen. De fapt, e cam aiurea spus „grunge”, pentru ca Alice in Chains canta cel mai pur heavy metal posibil. cel putin pe acest album de debut. Si nici nu e de mirare ca a avut succes intr-o perioada in care intreaga suflare a pletosilor se saturase pana peste cap de trupe de hair-metal ca Motley Crue, Poison si compania. Pana si MTV se saturase de ei, dovada fiind faptul ca la cateva luni dupa lansarea albumului, Man in the box isi facea aparitia in playlistul MTV.

Ceea ce canta aici Alice in Chains nu e deloc inovator, muzical vorbind. E mai degraba o intoarcere la metalul traditional, numai ca ceea ce ii desparte de toti ceilalti este pesimismul nemasurat de care sunt impregnate toate piesele. 12 cosmare adunate intr-un album (poate ca ar fi sunat mai bine sa fie 13). Vocea lui Layne Staley (muuult mai sugestiva decat a lui Kobain daca ma intrebati pe mine) si versurile sociopate gandite de acesta sunt principalul motiv. La care se adauga chitara lui Jerry Cantrell, completand perfect peisajul depresiv.

Desigur, comparat cu urmatorul album (Dirt), Facelift e aproape vesel. Dar asta e alta poveste. Cateva piese de pe album ies in fata inca de la prima ascultare, cum ar fi We die young si Man in the box, ajunse intre timp adevarate imnuri ale grunge-ului…dar si cateva mai putin cunoscute precum Sea Of Sorrow (foarte tare schimbarea de tempo de la inceput), Bleed The Freak si (mai ales) Sunshine, a carei refren o transforma brusc dintr-o piesa monotona intr-una extrem de interesanta si de…depresiva. Nu mai vorbesc de solourile lui Cantrell, care au calitatea de a fi scurte si de a merge „la sentiment”.

Poate ca ar fi fost mult mai bine pentru toata lumea daca AIC ar fi scurtat un pic albumul asta. Adica, ultimele 3-4 piese nu prea sunt la nivelul restului. Si daca tot n-au reusit sa faca 13 piese, nu prea avea rost sa se screama sa ajunga pana la 12, si sa puna b-sideurile rezultate pe album. Dar tot Alice In Chains sunt si alea, ceea ce inseamna ca eu nu ma plang. Sunt interesante si ele in sensul ca se apropie un pic mai mult de zona blues-ului. (mai ales Real Thing).

Un album pe care unii il vor gasi monoton (in special ultima treime), insa eu, subiectiv ca intotdeauna, il voi nota cu 8,5/10. Desi nu il recomand cuiva care cauta o auditie vesela.

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