Listen With Prejudice – #41 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – Album Review

#41 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Before: Perhaps overworthy mild angsters
This is really something. Starts off sounding like Badly Drawn Boy then sounds like no one else, but instantly familiar. Some 70s, some 80s, 90s, 00s and right now. All of it. We go back to childhood, we see relationships now, growing up, adolencence, going back again. We have prisons of the mind and the environment. An environment of sprawl, where potential is stifled. Often the music sounds purposefully held back, like the neighbourhood itself, as if it is recorded right there in a garage, next door neighbour’s curtains twitching. Perhaps overlong at one hour but the tempo changes, the lead vocalist changes, the guitar based sound turns to electronica with keeping somehow a sustained overall feel. A concept album that never sounds forced but natural, life’s moments set within a perhaps unatural setting for human life. Their most accessible album and their best yet.
After: Rich, genuine; modern life sealed within an album or suburb


Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.


Listen With Prejudice – #42 Guns ‘n’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction – Album Review

#42 Guns ‘n’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

Before: Big hair, big noise, big hits

Like being forced to take too much coke and then licked and then drooled on with Coca-Cola and then having cheap bourbon poured in your ears and up your nose and being left out to dry in some west coast hell. Sung by Cartman from South Park. A few moments of relief in some of the intros before the insane zipping up and unzipping continues. I suspect the best thing is the drumming. The rest is – what? – empty energy.

After: 80s horrorshow

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #44 Nirvana – In Utero – Album Review

#44 Nirvana – In Utero

Before: Infamous grunge before they were really big.

Quiet-loud-quiet-loud but mainly just loud manic depressive grungyness. It felt like being mini tazered in both ears, a zapping shock connecting live through the head. Or a scuzzy cauldron of lava being rained on hard, in Seattle, fizzing and spitting, burning. Much shouting, screaming, wailing, under the supremely ironic name Nirvana. Masterful drumming throughout, somehow managing to sound relaxed through the wall of noise intensity. There are tender moments, but mostly there’s not, just a lot of heavy guitar and bonus feedback. Vocals like a pack of sandpaper, different grades of rough and broken, voicing variations of self and society-hatred, although most of the time I had no idea what was being sung. Does it help to know? Eating cancer was mentioned. Surprisingly punk in places and a sublime passage toward the end of Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.

After: Failed electroshock treatment with noisy ironic despair.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #45 REM – Automatic For The People – Album Review

#45 REM – Automatic For The People

Before: Likeable singles, before they went bland

Chamberpop Americana, with any indie creases of old ironed out. The album is very much a CD album, polished to within an inch of its digital life, the crystalline production making the sound see-through and brittle. Much like the lead vocals although they have some heart. Perfect playing and a sense of middle of the road blandness, the contrived oddity of some of the lyrics not helping much. But there is splendid atmosphere in places, and beauty and humour, and a breakfast mess. Often sounding ploddy and a little insipid. Yes, I believe they put a man on the moon, no I don’t believe there’s nothing up his sleeve. I’m not sure where this leaves me.

After: They were already quite bland. A kind of bland perfection.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #46 U2 – Achtung Baby – Album Review

#46 U2 – Achtung Baby

Before: Annoying jangle rock ‘n’ pop and pretentious hoo-ha.

U2 reinventing themselves desperately. Hard to listen to. Persevered, wanting to hit stop pretty much every second. The reinvention leads to a clutter of ideas piling on top of each other until the thing seems about to topple over itself in a silly heap. Each lyric seems like a cliche. Each strum of the guitar aches my gums. I don’t like it. Except for So Cruel, perhaps, at a stretch. Horrible title.

After: Annoying jangle rock with added electronic pants. With poo in.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #47 Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures – Album Review

#47 Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures


Before: Rainy jerky doomsters with one actual tune, intense and a bit scary


Like a British The Doors, somehow, but glomier, vocals deep and distressed. Angualr rhythms, strange sound effects, throbbing driving bass driving, and those druggy, foresty English guitars. A band on the edge of something, no one is sure what, but it probably isn’t going to be pretty, and improbably a bit beautiful. Shambolic preciceness abounds.


After: The north of England through and through. Although Curtis does sound like he’s trying to be a bit American. One long demo?


Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #48 Led Zepellin – Led Zepellin – Album Review

#48 Led Zepellin – Led Zepellin


Before: Hard rock, long hair, darkness, riffs


Some kind of rock blues (soap) opera. Lyrics are all baby baby baby pining and whining. Amazing drumming backing a tight band playing closely together. Guitar echoing the vocals, and the riffs another voice itself. Heavy… early heavy metal with a psychedelic edge. The 70s in the 60s.


After: Tight. Mighty riffs of guitar and voice


Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

20 Years Ago: Das EFX – They want EFX

First in a new series highlighting music from 20 years ago.

First up, Das EFX with They want EFX from the debut album Dead Serious. Crazy lyrics, bonkers delivery, the funkiest samples. In the sewers. Great!

Bum stiggedy bum stiggedy bum, hon, I got the old pa-rum-pum-pum-pum 
But I can fe-fi-fo-fum, diddly-bum, here I come 
So peter piper, I'm hyper than pinochio's nose 
I'm the supercalafragilistic tic-tac pro 
I gave my oopsy, daisy, now you've got the crazy 
Crazy with the books, googley-goo where's the gravy 
So one two, unbuckle my, um shoe 
Yabba doo, hippity-hoo, crack a brew 
So trick or treat, smell my feet, yup I drippedy-dropped a hit 
So books get on your mark and spark that old censorship 
Drats and double drats, I smiggedy-smacked some whiz kids 
The boogedy-woogedly brooklyn boy's about to get his, dig 
My waist bone's connected to my hip bone 
My hip bone's connected to my thigh bone 
My thigh bone's connected to my knee bone 
My knee bone's connected to my hardy-har-har-har 
The jibbedy-jabber jaw ja-jabbing at your funny bone, um 
Skip the ovaltine, I'd rather have a honeycomb 
Or preferably the sesame, let's spiggedy-spark the blunts, um 
Dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun 

They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
Snap a neck for some live efx 

Well I'll be darned, shiver me timbers, yo head for the hills 
I picked a weeping willow, and a daffodil 
So back up bucko or I'll pulverize mcgruff 
'cause this little piggy gets busy and stuff 
Arrivederci, heavens to mercy, honky tonk I get swift 
I caught a snuffleufagus and smoked a boogaloo spliff 
I got the nooks, the cranies, the nitty gritty fodey-doe 
All aboard, cast away, hey where's my boogaloo? 
Oh I'm steaming, agony 
Why's everybody always picking on me 
They call me puddin' tane, and rap's my game 
You ask me again and I'll t-tell you the same 
'cause I'm the vulgar vegemintarian, so stick 'em up freeze 
So no park sausages, mom, please 
A-blitz shoots the breeze, twiddly-dee shoots his lip 
Crazy dazy shot the sheriff, yup and I shot the gift 
And that's pretty sneaky, sis oh yep 
I got my socks off, my rocks off, my nestle's cup of cocoa 
Holly hobby tried to slob me, tried to rob me silly stunt 
Diggedy-dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun 

They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
Snap a neck for some live efx 

Yahoo, hidee-ho yup I'm coming around the stretch 
So here fido boy, fetch, boy, fetch 
I got the rope-a-dope a slippery choker, look at me get raw 
And I'm the hickory-dickory top of morning boogoloo big jaw 
With the yippedy zippedy winnie the pooh bad boy blue, 
Yo crazy got the gusto, what up, I swing that too 
So nincompoop give a hoot and stomp a troop without a strain 
Like roscoe b. coltrane 
I spiggedy-spark a spiff and give a twist like chubby checker 
I take my froot loops with two scoops, make it double decker 
Oh vince, the baby come to papa duke 
A babaloo, ooh, a babaloo boogedy boo 
I went from gucci to stussy, to fliggedy-flam a groupie 
To zsa zsa, to yibbedy-yabba dabba hoochie koochie 
Tally ho i-i'll take my stove top instead of potatoes, so 
Maybe I'll shoot 'em now, nope maybe I'll shoot 'em later, yep 
I used to have a dog and bingo was his name oh, so uh 
B - I - n - g - o-oh 
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, hon, so uh 
Dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun 

They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
Snap a neck for some live efx

Mike D and Ad-Rock on MCA

Or I should say Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz on Adam Yauch…

Mike D:

“He had us fooled in the most beautiful way,” Michael Diamond said of Adam Yauch, his friend and fellow Beastie Boy for more than 30 years, describing the latter’s “incredible optimism” during his three-year battle with cancer. “I believed, up to last week, that Adam was somehow coming back,” Diamond confessed, in a long, frank interview after Yauch’s death on May 4th. “But I wouldn’t trade that optimism for anything,” he added quickly, sitting in the kitchen of his Brooklyn home, only six blocks from the house where Yauch grew up. “Because  the other option is no fun.”

Did Yauch always have a fighter’s spirit?
He had this tenacity and faith before he discovered Buddhism. His mom said that was already there. No matter how straight-up nuts an idea was, he had the ability to follow through on things he believed in. Like the cover of Paul’s Boutique: “A 360-degree photo? You can’t have a camera spin around.” He researched it and found one. It was an innate thing for him.

As a rapper, Yauch had a unique, raspy baritone. He sounded more like a soul singer.
Even when we were doing our first hip-hop records, when we were 19 and 20, he sounded like a gruff 40-year-old. He was the Bobby Womack of rap.

Yauch was a gifted MC. It was his flow on things, rather than specific lyrics, that first blew Adam [Horovitz] and I away. Early on, we were in the studio, amazed by how Yauch made it seem so effortless. Horovitz and I were maybe a little jealous. And Rick [Rubin] said to me, “No, this is good. This is where Yauch is at. You sound like you’re working hard. You’re the working rapper. [Laughs] I’m still not sure what to take away from that.

What were your first impressions of Yauch when you met as teenagers?
Adam taught me the ropes – how to make my own [punk-band] badges, how to fake [hand] stamps to get into shows. And after he, [original Beastie Boys guitarist] John Barry and I saw Black Flag at the Peppermint Lounge, Yauch said, “We’re starting a band, and you two guys are in it.” It was the same energy that enabled him to start his film company, Oscilloscope – the ability to will something to happen.

What’s an example of that on Licensed to Ill?
We were playing around with this 808 drum machine. We had this beat, and Yauch said, “I’d like to hear what it would sound like backwards.” Run from Run-D.M.C. was there, and he was like, “Man, this is crazy.” But Yauch recorded this beat, bounced it to another tape, flipped it around – this is pre-digital sampling – and bounced it back to the multi-track tape. The reversed beat basically became “Paul Revere.” Yauch saw this thing we couldn’t see – and he killed it.

He talked about experimenting with acid during the time of Paul’s Boutique.
Yauch was starting this inward mind journey. We were layering a lot of samples on top of each other, and Yauch was definitely pushing that. The acid experience gave him the ability to see, “Wow, this is great – press ‘play’ on everything at the same time.” Yauch was great at lacking fear.

Did his personality change after he became a Buddhist?
He abandoned the band for months in the winter to go snowboarding, on this very serious level. Then it wasn’t snowboarding. He would disappear for two months of teaching by his Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. He gradually incorporated that into the music. He was the first to realize we had this soapbox, and we needed to do something with it.

But he was never dogmatic about it. He’d say, “You should see these monks. They love playing practical jokes on each other.” When we were smashing cars in the “Sabotage” video, it was the same thing. We just did it with mustaches and wigs.

How much music did you make at your final recording session with him last fall?
Adam instigated it. It could only come from him, in terms of where he was at with treatment. It was stuff we had written or demo-ed, and there were new ideas. He wasn’t sure he was able to do vocals. But after a bit, we ended up doing them. And he was fine. It was a way for him to say, “Yeah, I’m doing it.”

Can you imagine making music without him?
I can see making music. I don’t know about a band format. But Yauch would genuinely want us to try whatever crazy thing we wanted but never got around to.



“I’m totally numb,” Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys said bluntly, in his only interview following the death on May 4th of his bandmate Adam Yauch. Sitting in the New York office of the Beasties’ publicist, only 10 days after Yauch’s passing, Horovitz fondly recalled their lifetime together in punk, hip-hop and hijinks. He also struggled to describe his feelings after his friend’s death and admitted that healing was slow in coming. “My wife is like, ‘I want to make sure you’re getting it out.’ But then I’m walking the dog and I’ll start crying on the street.” Horovitz shook his head wearily. “It’s pretty fucking crazy.”

Yauch was the oldest of the Beastie Boys. Was he a leader in the early days?
Yauch was in charge. He was smarter, more organized. In a group of friends, you all come up with stupid shit to do. But you never do it. With Yauch, it got done. He had that extra drive to see things through. We each had our roles. One of his was the make-it-happen person.

I’d be like, “We should take these pictures where we’re dressed as undercover cops. That would be funny.” But Adam was really into movies. So we made a whole video of that [“Sabotage”]. It wasn’t just a nice picture for us to have.

What was Yauch’s musical role in the Beastie Boys?
He was a really good bass player. He loved Daryl [Jennifer] of the Bad Brains. And he could sound like that. When we met [producer-musician] Mark Nishita, he and Adam would talk all this musical shit: “You should go up a fifth here.” I’d be like, “Tell me where to put my fingers, and I’ll play that for four minutes.”

Adam was the Techno Wiz – that’s what me, Mike and Rick [Rubin] called him. I went to his apartment in Brooklyn once. He had a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and he had strung the tape all over the place – through the kitchen, around chairs. He was cutting up this Led Zeppelin beat, playing it over and over. I was like, “How did you figure that out?” He said, “I heard Sly Stone did that.”

How did you and Mike write with Yauch? Who did what?
When the shit hit the fan, after Licensed to Ill, we started having arguments: “I wrote 37 percent of this song.” “These 16 lines are mine.” We decided none of that mattered. From that day on, everything was split three ways. Whatever it was, whoever did what, we all got the credit. Except we had veto power. If you really hated something, you could be, “That can’t happen.”

Did you ever veto a Yauch idea?
He wanted the cover of Ill Communication to be this tree painting. It’s actually on the inside [of the CD booklet]. I said, “Anything is better than that tree.” He called veto on Mike and me when we did [2007’s] The Mix-Up. He said, “It has to be instrumental.” We were like, “Let’s try some vocals.” “No, it has to be instrumental.”

Can you recall a killer song or verbal lick Yauch wrote that just knocked you out?
When we were in Los Angeles, doing Paul’s Boutique, he got this crazy apartment in Koreatown. And he made “A Year and a Day.” What happened to the three of us together and all that crap? But I heard that track, and it was some heavy shit. He rapped his ass off. Adam bought a jet pilot’s helmet, rigged it with a microphone and recorded the song wearing that helmet.

How did you deal with the change in his writing, after he became a Buddhist?
His lyrics became simple ideas about love and non-violence. It was a struggle for Adam to write those things. Basic feelings come off as very Hallmark. But we went through that change together. I wrote the lyrics for the song “Gratitude” [on Check Your Head], and Adam was like, “I really like that.” It made me happy and proud that I had made him happy.

What was your reaction when he told you he had cancer?
He said, “I’m gonna be okay.” He’s been right about most shit so far. So I believe him. You would get swept up in his excitement and positivity. We recorded a few months ago. It wasn’t any different from before. We spent more time making fart jokes and ordering food, which was true to form. That’s why it always took so long for us to put records out.

Did the comfort he took in Buddhism help you deal with his illness and passing?
I don’t believe Adam was afraid. Bummed out, yeah. But I can’t think when I ever saw him afraid. We got jumped in Brooklyn one time, so we’ve been afraid in that sense. But, man, he hadn’t been afraid in a long time. That gives me peace.