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Lady Gaga - 'Born This Way'

Lady Gaga - 'Born This Way'

Album: Born This Way Artist: Lady Gaga Release Date: May 23, 2011 Genre: Pop Length: 1:01:07 Label: Interscope Records Producer: DJ White Shadow/DJ Snake/Fernando Garibay/Lady Gaga/Robert John "Mutt" Lange/Jeppe Laursen/RedOne/Clinton Sparks Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): N/A Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): #484 Lady Nah-Nah... Mega-Popstar, Lady Gaga, with her second studio release, Born This Way shot Gaga into a pop realm many wish to reach but few actually execute. The album peaked at #1 across the entire world even on the US Billboard 200, with the single of the album "Born This Way" becoming the 1000th song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album opens up with "Marry The Night" a more low-key dance pop track than the rest of the record, this song is the perfect opener to a 2011 pop album. The track features simple lyrics, club-like beats from the instruments and Gaga's distinct vocal sound. This track is quickly forgotten however when followed up by the smash hit "Born This Way". Gaga starts the song "It doesn't matter if you love him...or capital H.I.M '' announcing the track as a LGBTQ+ anthem. The song provides the listener with a catchy track, putting all of Gaga's talents at the forefront.
After the first two songs however, not many other songs scream anything unique. There are gems such as "Judas" with the heavy arena rock wails and drum sounds and "The Edge Of Glory" which gives the album a fantastic closure that allows Gaga to belt the lyrics. While the entire album is an enjoyable listen for the most part, a lot of the songs are heavily outdated due to the release being early 2010's and I'm listening to this during 2021. The overall instrumentation is quite cheesy, utilizing a heavy synth-pop club sound that starts to blend together song-to-song. The differences in each track are there and noticeable, but eventually, across the record's hour playtime, you start to question if you've heard the song before.
The lyrics Gaga sings about throughout the record are personal, touching and inspiring to many people and groups in the world. Especially paired with her emotion and how she enunciated everything, these lyrics eat through your brain and you can feel the messages being ingrained into your neural canals.
Despite Gaga's strength in the singing, lyricism, arrangement and her pop-star status, the beats and instrumentation ruin the album for me. Gaga herself absolutely killed the entire record, learning German for "Scheiße", the more dreary "Bloody Mary", and an almost country sound in "You And I", all of the strengths Gaga gives us just makes this overall record more disappointing.
I think if the record was made for release in 2021, or some other era of music that wasn't dominated by dance-pop beats and EDM influences, Born This Way would be one of the best pop records ever, and even though the accolades say it is, I disagree. The album has a set of fantastic singles in "Born This Way", "Judas", "You And I", and "The Edge Of Glory" but many forgettable songs like "Bad Kids", "Highway Unicorn", and "Electric Chapel". If you are a fan of dance-pop, go ahead and give the album a full listen, but if that genre annoys you overall, I'd say avoid and just listen to the four singles I mentioned... Favorite Songs: "Born This Way", "Judas", "You And I", and "The Edge Of Glory" Least Favorite Songs: "Bad Kids", "Highway Unicorn", "Electric Chapel", "Hair" Production Quality: Mix = 6/10 (Overall decent mix but sometimes overwhelming with certain sounds and aspects) Innovation = 3/10 (Overall a not very innovative record but given extra points for being an LGBTQ+ anthem album) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 6.5/10 (Overall the song aspect of the record is there and arranged very well) Lyricism = 10/10 (Fantastic lyrics that empower people) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 10/10 (Do I need to explain) Instrumental Timbre = 2.5/10 (Too dancey and cheesy nowadays) Group Chemistry = 5/10 Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 3.5/10 Overall Rating: 5.6/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

The Sabres Of Paradise - 'Haunted Dancehall'

The Sabres Of Paradise - 'Haunted Dancehall'

Album: Haunted Dancehall Artist: The Sabres Of Paradise Release Date: November 28, 1994 Genre: Electronic Length: 1:16:49 Label: Warp Records Producer: Andrew Weatherall/Jagz Kooner/Gary Burns/Portishead/Scruff Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): N/A Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): N/A 1,001 Album Book: Yes Techno and long songs typically don't mix well, but in this Haunted Dancehall , they mix quite nicely...
English electronic group, The Sabres Of Paradise, with their second studio album. Noted as one of the "first techno concept albums" by The Guardian , this record peaked at #57 on the UK Albums Chart but failed to chart in the US.
The moment you press play on this record you know it'll be an experience to say the least. The jungle aquatic sound of the synth playing the same melody throughout "Bubble and Slide" gives the song an almost introduction feel. The track sets up the rest of the album and gives ideas that will be prevalent across the entire record. Even though these sounds are built by synths for the most part, the mechanical sounds bring forth a vibe that is unique to The Sabres Of Paradise. The off-beat hi-hat pattern gives the listener a sense of comfortability while the rest of the song has unnatural sounds. The second track, cleverly dubbed "Bubble and Slide II" builds on the ideas presented in the first track with expertise. Although there are no lyrics as this is a complete techno album, the singing is done through the different sounds across the length of the song. The slow addition of sounds is exciting and keeps you looking forward to more, while the rest of the song is heavily focused on repetition. Once again, the unnatural mechanical sounds are uncomfortable to the ear, but mixed with the soothing sounds from the other instruments allow this robotic scraping to be enjoyed. Contrary to most notable techno and electronic music that's releasing now, this album is not something you can see yourself dancing to at the club. The ideas within the record are way too different and produce a different feeling than dance, but rather full attention to the slight genius behind each song. The fact The Sabres Of Paradise can make a track like "Duke of Earlsfield" nearly nine minutes long, but never feel as though it's repetitive and that it continues to build on one idea from the next is impressive. This type of techno is the type that speaks to the audience's soul rather than the hips.
Some tracks have an insane amount of impact, especially "Planet D (Portishead Remix)". The groove from the bass right up front, all with the slight ambient drones behind it and the percussive bongo sounds make this song an epic clean-your-house song. It is slightly repetitive compared to other tracks, but clocking at less than five minutes makes it a worthwhile listen. Easily the strongest track on the record is track six, "Wilmot". The moment the creepy ghoul-like moans come in, the audience can recognize this as the most popular song on Haunted Dancehall . The groove is very reggae influenced but the way the song sounds is far from reggae. "Wilmot" does a perfect job in explaining what was previously mentioned in that this album isn't for dancing, but for giving your full attention to the sounds. The various noises, differences, additions and enhancements that slowly come and go as the song progresses is a fantastic touch to allow the listener to enjoy each and every second and not get bored. Unfortunately, boredom is a possibility due to the fact for all the solid exciting tracks like "Tow Truck", "Wilmot", and "Theme". Songs like "Flight Path Estate", "Theme 4", "Bubble and Slide", and "Return to Planet D" are just overall not exciting tracks when compared to the rest of the album. Thankfully, there are those solid songs that make the album an overall joy to listen to, and that's coming from someone that typically doesn't enjoy EDM or techno music that much. It is far from an album I'd gladly put on in my car and jam to on my way to work, but I think in a certain context as a background sound while doing chores, cooking or even while you're showering, it could provide a nice headspace rather than the sound of your thoughts. Because no one wants that, right?... Favorite Songs: "Wilmot", "Tow Truck", "Theme" Least Favorite Songs: "Flight Path Estate", "Theme 4", "Ballad of Nicky McGuire" Production Quality: Mix = 8.5/10 (Fantastic mixing, especially given there are so many different things going on but even the littlest things shine through. Sometimes the sounds do blare through which is uncomfortable but I think that's what they were going for) Innovation = 8/10 (Took various ideas brought forth in the 80s and expanded on them and made them their own) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 7/10 (Able to take long techno songs and make them entertaining across the entire length, but some songs fail to live up to others) Lyricism = 6/10 (No actual lyrics so it's hard to judge this category but I'm looking at it more as an "overall song singing" rather than just a vocalist. Since they are able to make sounds sing to you, I'm giving it above average) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 7.5/10 (Once again, no actual vocals so this is the sound of the main melody or rhythm) Instrumental Timbre = 7.5/10 (This is the background sounds that accompany the main rhythms or melodies) Group Chemistry = 7.5/10 (This is how well both of those categories combine and how they sound together) Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 6.5/10 Overall Rating: 7.35/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

The United States Of America - 'The United States Of America'

The United States Of America - 'The United States Of America'

Album: The United States Of America Artist: The United States Of America Release Date: March 6, 1968 Genre: Psychedelic Rock Length: 0:37:07 Label: Columbia Producer: David Rubinson Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): N/A Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): N/A 1,001 Album Book: Yes This is what a clown suffering from ADHD sounds like... The only studio record released by the group The United States Of America which, upon release, spent nine weeks on the charts and peaked at #181 on the US Billboard 200. Although it charted, it remains an overall unknown record that features uncommon psychedelic production techniques. The album opens up with an almost circus-like sound, which is fitting given the first track is titled "The American Metaphysical Circus". The song opens up with very clown-like flutes and a piano but quickly evolves to an overwhelming jumble of noise that continues in a roller coaster kind of way throughout. The ups and downs within the vocal performance in terms of the effect applied to the lead vocal screams psychedelic, but overall the song is far from musical. The jumbled mess barely resembles a song structure except for the drums playing normal patterns with tom fills and syncopated cymbal crashes, but other than that, the song is just a wall of noise, which is a very fitting sound for the circus.
If the sound of dying animals is something you're into, then the second track is something you may be interested in listening to. The song "Hard Coming Love" starts off with a rapid increase in tempo from the first song and for the first few seconds seems to be a solid piece, but quickly escalates to screeches, worthy of blowing out your ear drums and having the hairs stand straight up. Luckily, the rest of the song, once the vocals come in, is more entertaining. The track features a punching bass guitar, frantic and emotive drum patterns, and a trance-inducing style of vocals. While sections of the song are good, the negatives certainly outweigh the positives and make it overall difficult to enjoy. The overdone noise and the overpowering random sounds keep an otherwise decent song from being appreciated.
"The Garden Of Earthly Delights" is easily the best song on the album. The random sounds actually fit the song well, the musicianship is all there and the innovative and imaginative ideas scream through every note. Although it does seem like a sci-fi song with the laser screeches, this song is structurally the most solid track on the record and features the lead vocalist, Dorothy Moskowitz, in a way without a massive amount of effects applied on her voice.
In terms of avant-garde, untraditional music, this album is at the top of its game. The cartoony sounds exuding from tracks like "I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife for You, Sugar" is somewhat humorous to indulge your ears with. The sheer amount of different sounds in the album is truly impressive, even though the execution isn't very solid. Songs change quickly on this album from a Gregorian chant-like sound in "Where Is Yesterday" to a crunchy quick rock sound in "Coming Down". The best parts of the record are the feel of the bass guitar and drum set as they play shockingly complex patterns, especially given the free-for-all sound of The United States Of America . Sadly, a lot of this album is more annoying to listen to than it is exciting. The hints of greatness are there, but sadly behind a wall of tinted glass of displeasure. The group suffers from having too many ideas in their heads, but their talent isn't able to match those ideas. Give these songs to a group like Pink Floyd for example, and this could easily be a legendary record. I suppose that is why The United States Of America only released this album and are a one-and-done group. Granted, I did enjoy listening to it surprisingly, but not in a way that is like "Let me put this record on repeat" but more so in a mocking way. I'm not sure I can recommend this record, unless you're a very big fan of the composer John Cage (one of the most famous 20th century avant-garde composers), in which case you may get a strange enjoyment out of the randomness... Favorite Songs: "The Garden Of Earthly Delights" Least Favorite Songs: "The American Metaphysical Circus" Production Quality: Mix = 2/10 (Horribly mixed, notes hurt the ears, overwhelm the brain and instruments/sounds overpower each other) Innovation = 10/10 (An incredibly innovative and different record, given all the strangeness) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 4/10 (Somewhat decent arrangement but then certain sections fall very flat) Lyricism = 5/10 Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 6.5/10 (A nice voice throughout but with effects it sounds awful) Instrumental Timbre = 5.5/10 (Overall a very annoying mix of sounds but the feel of the drums and bass guitar save this category from being much lower) Group Chemistry = 4/10 (Rarely playing together) Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 3/10 (I think you can understand this) Overall Rating: 4.5/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

Richard & Linda Thompson - 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight'

Richard & Linda Thompson - 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight'

Album: I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight Artist: Richard & Linda Thompson Release Date: April 30, 1974 Genre: Folk Length: 0:36:55 Label: Island Records Producer: Richard Thompson/John Wood Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): #471 Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): #485 1,001 Album Book: Yes A fantastic pairing of two musicians that thrive well with each other...
Singer songwriter Richard Thompson's second studio album, and first with Linda Peters. Linda was originally a session musician who married Richard, forming the duo of Richard and Linda Thompson. Upon release of their record, the mass public and critics ignored I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight , but as time went on, the album rose to royal-like quality and is now a beloved masterpiece for the duo. The moment you press play on this record you know it's going to be a hidden gem. Right off the bat, the first track "When I Get To The Border" introduces the audience to the unique style of the duo and truly shows off the clever lyrics of Richard Thompson. The song starts off with an acoustic guitar chord pattern followed by the swift introduction of drums and electric guitar playing small licks over the acoustic backbone. Richard is the lead singer throughout this track, but the contrast of Linda's voice during the chorus adds an entirely new sense of depth, especially along with all the instruments that come in over the three and half minute run-time. The chirpiness of the mandolin, the medieval sounding instrument towards the end (upon research this is called a krummhorn), and a slight accordion, are all sprinkled into this song providing a deep level of listening, and excitement for things to come further in the record. The second track comes to be more bareboned than the first, but this is far from a negative observation. "The Calvary Cross" opens up with a tambourine rattle and a very Egyptian sounding guitar solo. This continues for the first fifty seconds of the song, then the song explodes with a piano, drums and bass guitar behind Richard Thompson's voice. The song features choral-like harmonies with the repeated piano chords to provide a sense of familiarity, while production of the song gives off a mysterious feel. The crisp sound of the snare fading out at the end gives this angelic ballad a perfect ending into the next track "Withered And Died".
"Withered and Died" provides Linda Thompson the opportunity to shine at lead vocals, which is the first song on the album that we truly get to hear her voice. The sorrow that exudes from her voice is evident in the lyrics, although written by Richard, she was the perfect person to sing lead on this track. With lyrical phrases such as "This cruel country has driven me down/Teased me and lied, teased me and lied/I've only sad stories to tell to this town/My dreams have withered and died", this song is a tear jerker, but it is also fantastic to hear her voice on her own and not backing up Richard Thompson.
Critically, the title song "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" is the most famous song on the record, and another one where Linda Thompson is lead. The layers that come and go across the song's entire length is the biggest strength among many other positives. The opening guitar pattern by the band truly complements Linda's soothing vocal style and provides for an excellent track. The slight country sound in the song is appealing and helped influence the genre. Throughout the song, horns fanfare in the background, harmonies crescendo into the chorus', and despite all the layers of the instruments and her voice, nothing ever overpowers each other to provide a beautiful listening experience across the whole length. Although it's hard to follow-up a performance like "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight", the entire back-half of the album is still just as solid as the beginning. Spearheaded by the slow ballad, "Down Where The Drunkards Roll" is another song led by Linda, but contrary to the previous two songs, there is an extremely deep vocal bass contrast to her vocal style. This song is more bare than the other tracks, but the strength of the guitar, vocals and dulcimer (which is the more vibrant guitar sound you hear in the middle) is all this duo needs to bring out emotion for the listener. The wonderful part about I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight is the amount of contrasting feels throughout the whole record. You can go from a more upbeat track, to a slow ballad that features a tin whistle in "Has He Got A Friend For Me", to an almost Renaissance-fair feel in "The Little Beggar Girl" due to the melody provided by the mandolin, all the way to depressing personal family ballads in "The End Of The Rainbow". What a fantastic hidden gem. Unfortunately, not widely known by most people for the most part, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight was able to entertain me from the beginning to the end. Truly the only complaint I have with it is how the lyrics are structured throughout the entire album. The way the songs flow in terms of verses, the pre-chorus', and the chorus', as well as the other sections all seem to be somewhat similar to each other. This would typically make an album difficult to listen to but the amount of differences between each song to the next, the deep and vast sound from the instruments, and the jolly vocal style of the married couple keep the record exciting. I could not recommend listening to this album enough, especially if you have a large field to look out on during a sunset... Favorite Songs: "I Want To See The Bright Lights", "The Calvary Cross", "When I Get To The Border" Least Favorite Songs: Truly no BAD songs but the most goofy and out of place is "The Little Beggar Girl" Production Quality: Mix = 10/10 (Very deep instrumental arrangements with strong vocal performances that don't overpower one another) Innovation = 8.5/10 (I have not heard an overall album like this but some songs definitely have other influences within them) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 4/10 (Instrument arrangement is fantastic but the song structure feels the same across the record) Lyricism = 10/10 (Deep personal storytelling) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 7.5/10 (Linda Thompson's voice is much more tolerable than Richard's but his still fits in the style of the album) Instrumental Timbre = 10/10 Group Chemistry = 10/10 Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 8.5/10 Overall Rating: 8.7/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page.

John Mayer - 'Continuum'

John Mayer - 'Continuum'

Album: Continuum Artist: John Mayer Release Date: September 12, 2006 Genre: Blues Rock Length: 0:49:34 Label: Aware/Columbia Records Producer: John Mayer/Steve Jordan Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): N/A Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): #486 A strong overall record but with some boring similarities... Singer-songwriter John Mayer, with his third studio album and arguably his most famous, Continuum showcases Mayer's growth as an overall musician. Containing hit singles such as "Waiting on the World to Change", "Gravity" and "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room", the record reached #1 on the Billboard US Top Rock Albums and certified platinum four times in the US. The relaxed drum groove followed by Mayer counting off "One. Two. One, two, three..." leading into the piano melody and Mayer singing in the song "Waiting on the World to Change" was the best possible way to open up the entire album. The raspy vocal style of Mayer is perfectly showcased throughout this track, especially given the content of the lyrics. Mayer is singing at the youth of 2006 (even though the lyrics can be applied to any generation) about how even though the world has issues, it's hard for young people to do anything because of their fear and ignorance. Clearly an anthem of 2006, the lyrics have aged like fine wine and still holds up to this day. The fourth track on the album "Gravity" opens up with the drone of an organ and the simple, yet emotive drum beat with John Mayer singing through his guitar. The tone of the song is overall laid back but the lyrical content is heavy. Mayer announces his singing presence with "Gravity, is working against me" and even though the song has few lyrics, the emotion exuding out of his vocal chords is impressive on top of the otherwise basic backbone of the song. Although the lyrical content of the entire album is deep and definitely worth paying attention to, the overall feel of the album stays stagnant across all twelve songs. The laidback, optimistic feel overwhelms the entire record and makes some songs hard to listen to fully. An exception is the track "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" due to the guitar solo and just how big the song feels as it continues to build.
Continuum does contain hints of greatness, strongly contributing to the strength of Mayer's songwriting, but overall falls a little flat because of the similarities between each song to the next. Each song does sound different, but the feel is the same. For example, "Vultures" is slightly heavier with the bass and organ but the beat is nearly the same as "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)". The songs don't contain enough differences to keep me attentive and entertained for the entire fifty minute run-time. The style of Mayer's singing is extremely unique and the talent in his voice is hard to go unnoticed. The raspy, yet dreamlike tonal quality of his voice, complements the entire album perfectly even if it does start to feel repetitive. The one aspect that really shines through on this album, as mentioned previously, is the lyrics. During the time of the album's release, Continuum would have been overwhelmingly fantastic, but in 2021, it isn't exciting enough, which shows more about the times than it does the record. I do think everyone should explore this record fully at least once, because there is a mood for John Mayer in certain situations, and I may have missed that mood when I listened to it this time... Favorite Songs: "Waiting On the World to Change", "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room", "In Repair" Least Favorite Songs: "Bold as Love" Production Quality: Mix = 9/10 (Great mix that you can clearly hear everything within the songs) Innovation = 4.5/10 (Doesn't push the genre forward but doesn't hold it back either) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 5/10 (Some songs are too similar to others) Lyricism = 10/10 Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 8.5/10 (The raspy dreamy quality of his voice screams 2000s) Instrumental Timbre = 7.5/10 Group Chemistry = 7.5/10 (Many artists that aren't specifically part of Mayer's band but they fit in each song very well) Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 5/10 Overall Rating: 7.1/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page.

Olivia Rodrigo - 'SOUR'

Olivia Rodrigo - 'SOUR'

Album: SOUR Artist: Olivia Rodrigo Release Date: May 21, 2021 Genre: Alt-Pop Length: 0:34:41 Label: Geffen Producer: Daniel Nigro The newest teenage heartbreak anthem...
Known for portraying Nini in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series , Olivia Rodrigo debuts her solo musical career with SOUR , quickly breaking her out of the Disney mold. The record includes one of the biggest songs of the year in "Drivers License", and the two other singles released prior to the album in "Deja Vu" and "Good 4 U" The album starts off with the track "brutal" which showcases Rodrigo at the peak of her rock stylization. The first sounds you hear are violins, which slowly build until Rodrigo states "I want it to be, like, messy" in which the most clean mess of sound explodes out of the speakers. The melody of the guitar is consistently repeated throughout the track whether from the guitar or her lyrical flow about the struggles of being a teenager even though she was promised her youth would be fantastic and something to enjoy. The message across this track sets off the album in a perfect way as the entire album follows a similar story. "brutal" is by far the hardest song on the album in terms of intensity but it works perfectly with Rodrigo's booming performance throughout the track. Following up the intensity from "brutal", the song "traitor" is a deep personal ballad explaining how the man she used to love instantly moved on even though she is still deep in pain. The track starts off with only piano and Rodrigo's vocals but instrumentally escalates just like her voice does throughout the entire song. The slight introduction of acoustic guitar gives the song a deeper personal feel while the slight beat of the percussion in the background brings out this distant feeling of what she was going through during the relationship. The third song is "drivers license", which upon release broke the record for the most single-day streams on Spotify for a non-holiday song and the biggest first week for a song on Spotify and Amazon Music. The track debuted at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and for good reason. The song starts off with car sounds that fade into the piano chords and slowly builds with percussive sounds that almost sound like muted hand claps. The track exposes Rodrigo's intense vocal range that goes from dreamlike harmonies to scream worthy anger. You can feel the pain in her voice and even though she was hurt, it serves the song very well as that pain feeds into passionate singing.
"deja vu" was the second single released for the record and the fifth track on the album. Following a similar storytelling experience as the rest of the album, this track debuted at #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 which grants Rodrigo the honor of being the only artist in history to have her first two singles in the top 10.
The third single to release was "good 4 u" which transitioned to a completely different feel from the other two singles. The multi-genre feel from Rodrigo is a shocking, yet warranted surprise that keeps SOUR entertaining throughout the entire track. The other song that has a more rock vibe is "jealousy, jealousy" whereas "enough for you", "happier", "favorite crime" and "hope ur ok" fit the similar sound as the slower tracks. Even though you can group these songs into these categories, the instrumental patterns, melodies, vocal transitions, and overall sound are completely different from the last. For example, "enough for you" is just Rodrigo and the guitar, in which you can hear the chord transitions on the neck of the guitar. That sound gives the song an almost spotlight on stage, sitting-on-a-stool feel that makes you envision her belting this track out live in concert. Overall this album is fantastic. A miraculous debut from Rodrigo, providing a needed anthem to the current day teens, especially after a worldwide pandemic affected them. Each song is entertaining, heartbreaking, personal but familiar. The familiarity stems from a sense that kids always feel as though they are alone, but everyone goes through similar emotions that Rodrigo sings about, which is why this album is a fantastic anthem to teenagers. And who knows, maybe even forty year old's that just had their hearts broken too... Favorite Songs: "brutal", "drivers license", "deja vu", "good 4 u" Least Favorite Songs: Honestly, no bad songs... Production Quality: Mix = 10/10 (easily able to overpower with the vocals given her range, but never does) Innovation = 3/10 Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 9.5/10 Lyricism = 10/10 (Fantastic album with personal and clever lyrics) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 10/10 Instrumental Timbre = 10/10 Group Chemistry = 9/10 (Typical band set up that complements Rodrigo well) Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 9.5/10 Overall Rating: 9.6/10 Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

Black Flag - 'Damaged'

Black Flag - 'Damaged'

Album: Damaged Artist: Black Flag Release Date: December 5, 1981 Genre: Hardcore Punk Length: 0:34:58 Label: SST Records Producer: Spot/Black Flag Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): #340 Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): #487 1,001 Album Book: Yes After listening to this, I may do exactly what the album cover is depicting because I'm so angsty now...
Under-appreciated at release, Damaged is the debut record by punk band, Black Flag that has gained recognition as one of the most influential punk records ever released. Damaged also marks the band's first album with singer Henry Rollins who would wind up staying with the group until their initial break-up in 1986. The album opens up with "Rise Above" which starts off with a crisp drum beat and the classic sound of punk distortion from the guitar. The scream vocals from Rollins mixed with Greg Ginn's distinctive guitar playing opens up the album with the perfect sound to showcase Black Flag's intensive, "devil-music" vibe that is sure to make any angsty teen feel in their element.
"Six Pack" is the third track on the album and shows off the bands musical abilities with the slow build-up over the first forty seconds, going from driven bass groove, then to the chipping of the hi-hat leading into the jungle toms that perfectly closes off with fast-paced frantic playing from the entire band. This song shows the band isn't just a punk band and actually has musical abilities with the background vocalists singing "Six Pack" after each line of Rollins' scream-singing sound. Two of the most important things within the punk genre is the heavy use of bass guitar and drums and Black Flag show this off heavily throughout the album. Aside from the distorted guitar and the anger inducing vocal performance, the most prominent aspect of the record is the pairing of the bass and drums, which is especially noticeable on the song "What I See", "TV Party", "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" and "No More".
"TV Party" is an awesome track that shows the fun vibes punk music brings out of youth. The chorus being sung by the background vocalists provides an almost party-like, frat-house, sound along with Henry Rollins' lead vocal performance. The song exudes a type of feel that makes you want to hang out with your friends and mosh with them inside of a sweaty room that smells of beer and angst.
One thing that is tough for punk records to do well is to make each song exciting to listen to since it is such a particular sound for the genre. Damaged gives the listener the comforting hardcore punk sound while maintaining the ability to diversify most songs so you aren't left feeling like you listened to the same song for thirty minutes, although the second half of the album does start to drag on for too long. Luckily all of the songs are overall pretty short and a lot of the songs that start to feel too similar to the others are the shorter tracks on the record.
A very shocking thing about this album is how real the lyrics can get. Punk music is often found to be lyrics about things like politics and "sticking it to the man" but Damaged focuses more so on the lyrics that would pertain to the feelings of being a teenager or in your 20s and gives the soundtrack to help people dealing with things have a non-violent outlet to let their feelings out. I enjoyed this album even though it is far from my favorite punk album. The sound throughout is so hardcore punk and that's definitely not the mood all the time. I do appreciate it and if the mood was set correctly for me, maybe I would like this album more but being content with life right now and happy is hard to fully appreciate this record. I will listen to parts of it, especially my favorite songs but the back half of the album dragged on a little too long as a lot of the songs didn't feature anything exciting to set them apart from one another. When I'm in a bad mood though, I think the entire album would be perfect to get the anger out of my soul and back to my current state of bliss... Favorite Songs: "Rise Above", "Six Pack", "What I See", "TV Party", "No More" Least Favorite Songs: "Spray Paint", "Thirsty And Miserable" Production Quality: Mix = 6.5/10 (Originally wanted to give the mix a 5/10 but the garage-like feel almost makes it more exciting to listen to) Innovation = 9.5/10 (Incredibly influential hardcore punk record) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 5/10 (Some songs are too similar to others) Lyricism = 8/10 (Surprisingly deep lyrics for a punk band whose focus is anarchy) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 8/10 (Not my favorite punk vocalist but fits the feel of the band and record to a T) Instrumental Timbre = 8.5/10 (Same thing as above) Group Chemistry = 10/10 (Along with jazz, punk has to be one of the hardest and most trusting genres of music where chemistry has to be at the top of the priority list for the band members) Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 7/10 Overall Rating: 7.6/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page.

The Stooges - 'The Stooges'

The Stooges - 'The Stooges'

Album: The Stooges Artist: The Stooges Release Date: August 5, 1969 Genre: Proto-Punk Length: 0:34:33 Label: Elektra Records Producer: John Cale Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): #185 Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): #488 1,001 Album Book: Yes Introduction to Punk 101...
Headed by punk icon Iggy Pop, The Stooges is the debut studio record by none other than the Stooges. Upon release, this record charted at #106 on the US Billboard Top 200 Albums chart despite the critique from critics and eventually went on to be one of the spearheading albums of the "proto-punk" genre. The album starts off with a guitar "waa-waa" along with a steady snare drum beat on the track "1969". The guitar weaves in and out of each speaker giving a much larger sound than could originally be accomplished. The song quickly introduces Iggy Pop and the frantic pacing the Stooges came to love. The repetition from the guitar riff paired with the patterned drum part enhances the sound of each instrument within the track. The guitar starts to solo over the rest of the band, including the vocal part starting around 1:40 into the song. "It's 1969" occasionally continues until the end while the guitar drills the complexity into the listener's brain all while the bass guitar and drums play the same patterns as stated in the beginning of the track. "1969" eventually rose to become the #35 song on the Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs". The second track on the album, "I Wanna Be Your Dog", is featured on Q magazine as the #13 song in the list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks". Immediately erupting with distortion, feedback and angst, you can feel the reasoning behind this pick. The mysterious feel from the guitar, the driving bass melodies, mixed with the lazy singing of Iggy Pop paired up with cheerful sleigh bells all make this track a legendary punk-rock anthem. The digitized solo bringing the song to a fade-out is a wonderful feature to start and end with the same, yet developed sound. Marking the end of the first half of the record, "We Will Fall" is another mysterious track that comes in at nearly 10:20, giving the band more room to play with the mystifying sounds. The rest of the group repeating "Oh, gi, ran, ja, ran, ja, ja, ran" with the slight plucking of the bass and an almost metallic type of beat from the drums gives this song a sparse, yet somehow creepily dense track worthy of any horror film. The end of the track introduces a viola, played by producer John Cale, that perfectly takes the repetitive song to the end.
The fourth track on the record "No Fun" is another song that has very typical Stooge-like sounds. The drum introduction, the crunchy guitar, the slight bass guitar that carries the song across the length and the clapping throughout are all aspects that makes this album The Stooges . "No Fun" is a track talking about boredom and how it can make people do crazy things which is telling based on the ending interaction where Iggy Pop starts saying "c'mon Ron" and it goes into a guitar solo which is Iggy Pop evidently talking to guitarist of the Stooges, Ron Asheton to entice Ron to put on a show and give them any reason to not be bored. After the initial strength in the tracks, the ending songs seem to just lose some of the creative energy that was placed in the first half of the record. "Real Cool Time" is another gritty, guitar featured song but doesn't have the same pleasantries as the first two guitar heavy songs "1969", and "I Wanna Be Your Dog". "Ann" is the most laid back song on the album besides "We Will Fall" but almost doesn't feel like the same band. The psychedelia atmosphere in "Ann" brings out a mix of Pink Floyd and The Doors but eventually explodes about 2/3 of the way into the song. The guitar distortion continues to be one of the most prominent features of the album, but this song mixes the rhythms of the bass and drums perfectly to allow them to feed off of each other flawlessly. The Stooges is one of the first punk records ever released and with that there will obviously be some issues since it wasn't a refined genre at this point. The strengths on the record are so strong but sometimes it does feel as though the weaker tracks are copy-cats of the strong songs. While there are redeeming qualities in each song, the continuous distortion guitar without much substance outside of solos, and the lazy vocal style of Iggy Pop make the entire album weaker than it could, while still being a top-tier record. All of the pieces are there and present but for one reason or another some of the record falls flat while the other shines heavily.
I enjoyed my time listening to this album for the most part. Like I said, the entire album sounds like one long a lot of the time but has bits of greatness. The driving bass throughout is fantastic and the complexity within the drummers beats are fantastic additions, but when Iggy Pop decides to be a lazy, emotionless singer, that makes some songs hard to listen to attentively. I would recommend this album for the strong parts alone but wouldn't doubt if you skip some songs...
Favorite Songs: "I Wanna Be Your Dog", "1969", "No Fun" Least Favorite Songs: "Real Cool Time", "Not Right" Production Quality: Mix = 6.5/10 (Heavily distorted throughout which is the sound they wanted but overpowers a lot of the other parts of the record) Innovation = 9.5/10 (Beginnings of punk as a genre) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 7/10 Lyricism = 4/10 (Somewhat simplistic lyrics) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 6.5/10 (Fantastic emotive singing when Iggy Pop wants to but overall seems lazy) Instrumental Timbre = 7.5/10 (Great instrument sound minus the heavy distortion) Group Chemistry = 9/10 Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 6.5/10 Overall Rating: 6.95/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

Various Artists - 'Back to Mono (1958-1969)'

Various Artists - 'Back to Mono (1958-1969)'

Album: Back to Mono (1958-1969) Artist: Various Artists Release Date: November 12, 1991 Genre: Brill Building Pop Length: 3:26:12 Label: ABKCO Producer: Phil Spector Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): #65 Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): #489 3.5 hours of pure joy... Back to Mono (1958-1969) is a compilation album of the legendary work from world renowned record producer, Phil Spector. Spector is known for his famous production technique called the Wall of Sound, which utilized the studio space to bring forth an incredibly clear and heavy sound that was unlike anything released at the time. Starting off with the track "To Know Him Is to Love Him" by The Teddy Bears released in December of 1958 going to "Love Is All I Have to Give" by The Checkmates, Ltd. released in May 1969, Back to Mono (1958-1969) contains fourteen Top 10 singles, including three #1 hits across the sixty track listing. The compilation album also contains Phil Spector's Christmas album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (I will review separately at another time as it is featured in the 1,001 albums book and the 2012 Rolling Stone Top 500 list), which brings the track listing to a total of 73 total tracks across the entire box set.
The three #1 hits include "To Know Him Is to Love Him" by The Teddy Bears, "He's a Rebel" by The Crystals, and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers. These three tracks are easily some of the most memorable on the album, but every song that charted in the top 10 is memorable. This all comes down to the chemistry within the group, the melodies shared with the background vocalists, and the overall progression of the track. "He's a Rebel" for instance takes all of these points and soars above expectations. The song features a marvelous instrumentation progression from the fierce yet jolly piano intro, to the various saxophone licks in between. The Crystals also put so much energy and emotion behind a song that wasn't even written by them.
Some of the notable bands on the 73 total tracks are The Ronettes with 19 songs, The Crystals with 14 and The Righteous Brothers with 5. These groups created some of the strongest songs on the record which undeniably were the songs that also rose up the charts. A lot of the tracks by these groups show off the signature Wall of Sound philosophy heavily as you can hear each and every part of the song without it being muddled with noise. The song by The Ronettes "(The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up" features clear orchestral sounds mixed with the flawless dynamics of the background vocalists while keeping all the main parts of the song at the forefront.
Every song on the album was written with the Brill Building philosophy of songwriters: writing songs and issuing the lyrics to groups to sing. This philsophy can come with a consequence for some songwriters in that they can become obscure in the music industry. However, some of these songwriters have become some of the most popular names in the songwriting world, such as Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Spector himself, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Vini Poncia, and Pete Andreoli. Obviously, some of them have had successful careers themselves after songwriting for other artists, like Carole King, but others aren't particularly household names yet the songs they created are widely known. The compilation of these songs across the entire Back to Mono (1958-1969) has some of the most impressive production for any song, especially during this time. The amount of depth within each track, from the orchestral arrangements, the backing band and obviously the singer's talent were all made possible with Spector's talent as a producer. The backing band (The Wrecking Crew) should not go unnoticed though because they played on the majority of the songs on this compilation are considered some of the most famous session musicians without most people knowing who they are since they were just the instrumentation parts. I personally think this album is impossible to rate so I'm not going to give it one. Given its length, the amount of different artists, different sounds throughout and different songwriters, the only consistency is The Wrecking Crew and of course Phil Spector. It's tough to listen to an entire compilation of songs produced by Spector without acknowledging how horrible of a human being he was, but that has to be something in the back of your head or it'll ruin your view of the talent present throughout. I can't recommend this being an album you pop on and listen in one sitting, because I know I didn't, but it is one that you should listen to over a period of time. These songs are essentially foundations of music today and without them music would not be the same. Phil Spector might have been a murderous psychopath but he also had an ear for great music, so go ahead and appreciate the art, just don't support the person... Notable tracks: "Corrine Corrina", "Uptown", "He's a Rebel", "Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home), "Chapel Of Love", "Be My Baby", "Hold Me Tight", "Walking In the Rain", "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", "River Deep - Mountain High", and "I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine"

Aerosmith - 'Toys In The Attic'

Aerosmith - 'Toys In The Attic'

Album: Toys In The Attic Artist: Aerosmith Release Date: April 8, 1975 Genre: Hard Blues Rock Length: 0:37:08 Label: Columbia Producer: Jack Douglas Rolling Stone Top 500 (2012): #229 Rolling Stone Top 500 (2020): N/A 1,001 Album Book: Yes "You stand in the front just a shaking your ass"...
One of rock's most successful groups, Aerosmith's Toys In The Attic is the third studio album by the group and is recognized as the band's most successful in sales, receiving platinum certification eight times. The album was marketed by singles in "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way", peaking at #36 and #10 on the US Billboard Hot 100, respectively.
Headlining the album is the title track "Toys In The Attic", which is the perfect song to bring out the best in the hard rock/blues style Aerosmith has grown to be so widely known. The amount of guitars rushing along in the beginning throws the listener right into the frantic feel of the group, followed up by Steven Tyler's vocal melody synching up right along with Joe Perry's guitar licks is an impressive bout of musicianship. The guitar solos throughout by Perry are so particularly and flawless placed into the mix that it never feels like a solo section, but just another section the band can show off their skills to the world. The second song, "Uncle Salty" is a track that focuses more on the blues aspect of the group and also puts the group's songwriting talents at the forefront. A song about a little girl growing up in a facility that prostitutes and abuses girls by a man named Uncle Salty. The track closes with a nearly minute and a half fade out while the band echoes "Ooh, it's a sunny day outside my window" and the instruments all play a mysteriously optimistic, yet defeated, repeated beat and melody, alluding to the abusive nature of the content in the lyrics. Some other tracks that show off a blues style of playing are "Big Ten Inch Record", and "Round and Round". While "Big Ten Inch Record" is a seemingly pretty generic, but good blues song, "Round and Round" is far different. Adopting some blues ideas, the heaviness and grittiness across the track is what separates it from the other blues songs on the record. The most notable change in style of song is the effects on Tyler's voice. In every other track on the record, Tyler's voice is loud and proud, whereas this song is hidden behind the grit from the bass and drums. This isn't a bad thing however it's nice to get a change of pace between the other songs on the album. Along with "Toys In The Attic", the fourth track "Walk This Way" is featured in the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll" according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even though the album version isn't the exact version featured on this list (the Run-D.M.C with Aerosmith is the version) it's still arguably the most popular song on the record. "Walk This Way" opens with one of the most iconic drum grooves only to follow it up with an iconic guitar riff in itself. Tyler's powerful vocal style is shown throughout this track, even if it isn't through his hard rock belts, the amount of strength put behind every lyric so quickly is one of the reasons he has one of the most recognizable voices in music history. The sixth song on the album is another one of the groups most famous songs in "Sweet Emotion". The song opens with a mysterious bass melody, almost impossible to predict where it'll go, along with the sound of a talk box (a device used to change the sound of an instrument with the voice) and the slight shaking of what turns out to be sugar packets. All three of these ideas continue to build steadily until the igniting cymbal crash feeds into the first chorus. The song is split up in a magnificent way where the verses are followed by a nostalgic instrumental break whose melodies appear throughout the entire track but closes with a minute-long instrument explosion. The power across each instrument from the driving bass, to the snare's heavy drum pattern, to the face melting lead guitar solo, all with the talk box and shaker ideas still playing a background role in the song, this track is easily one of the most impressive rock songs to come out of this era. Sadly the album does take a dip in quality after "Sweet Emotion", mostly in the final song "You See Me Crying". Instrumentation-wise, this song could easily be the most sonically impressive, but the way Tyler sings in it is reminiscent of older Aerosmith, where the decades of drug abuse and parties caught up to Tyler's vocal chords. The orchestra in the song provides a different dynamic for a rock band of this caliber, it just doesn't serve them as well as it could have as it almost feels too overwhelming, especially taking the ballad style of the song into account. This album is a strong recommendation for anyone that likes blues rock. The iconic songs on Toys In The Attic like "Toys In The Attic", "Walk This Way", and "Sweet Emotion" are powerful enough songs in themselves to give this record a deserving listen, but the filler songs are also good songs. The Steven Tyler and Joe Perry duo is such a dynamic pairing of two people; the way they play together is almost like they are connected at the hip, which is one of the reasons you can clearly hear the creativity and chemistry between them bleed out onto the entire Toys In The Attic record... Favorite Songs: "Sweet Emotion", "Walk This Way", "Toys In The Attic" Least Favorite Songs: "You See Me Crying" Production Quality: Mix = 7.5/10 (Great mix focused more on Tyler and Perry than the entire group) Innovation = 8/10 (Interesting mix of hard rock and blues with ideas and sounds that are now popular in music still to this day) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 9.5/10 (Songs are all arranged in a perfect way although the album tracks could be moved around to perfect the order) Lyricism = 8.5/10 (Original story-telling lyrics) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 8.5/10 (Fantastically unique voice but with some poor sections in "Round And Round" and "You See Me Crying") Instrumental Timbre = 10/10 (Distinctive instrument playing with notorious riffs, grooves and solos) Group Chemistry = 10/10 Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 7.5/10 (Final three tracks don't really do it for me) Overall Rating: 8.45/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

Waylon Jennings - 'Honky Tonk Heroes'

Waylon Jennings - 'Honky Tonk Heroes'

Album: Honky Tonk Heroes Artist: Waylon Jennings Release Date: July 1973 Genre: Country Length: 0:27:21 Label: RCA Victor Producer: Waylon Jennings/Tompall Glaser/Ronny Light/Ken Mansfield 1,001 Album Book: Yes
Grab your ten-gallon hat, cowboy boots and meet me at the saloon...
Peaking at 14 on the US Billboard Top Country Albums chart, Honky Tonk Heroes established an important subgenre of country by combining honky tonk with rock and roll to get outlaw country. The opening track of the same name "Honky Tonk Heroes" brings out the classic country sound in the beginning, utilizing the calming, rocking chair, porch sitting playing of the guitar, followed by the mysterious sound of the fiddle and slight bass strums which all combine with Jennings' singing all makes it a classic slow country song. Just as you get comfortable with the intro sounds, the song takes a rock and roll turn near a minute and a half into the track. The bass pattern speeds up, drums are introduced and the guitar plays little patterns here and there to bring out that honky tonk rock feel. The song features a call and response solo from the harmonica and electric guitar that adds to the ambience Jennings gives to the listener. Contrary to the initial track, the album does feature songs that are less upbeat than "Honky Tonk Heroes". Songs like "Old Five and Dimers (Like Me)" adopt a laid back approach. The bass is clear across the entire song, steadily beating away along with the melancholy strum of a guitar and the timid bowing of a cello behind the contemporary instruments. One very interesting part of the track is the background vocals that come in at the very end with a high pitch compared to Jennings' deep monotone vocal style. One of the only instantly fast-paced tracks is the fifth song "Omaha". The lyrics contain a story about someone returning to none other than Omaha, Nebraska. The song's consistent guitar strumming that nearly sounds percussive, pairs with the drums that open up the song with pounding tom hits, along with the off-beat groove the bass brings out, all to fade out into the sunset with a country-western guitar solo.
The lyrics throughout the album come across as original and provide fantastic storytelling from the perspective of country personalities. Unfortunately, the only song written with Jennings credited is "You Ask Me To". This song is a typical love song, but the way the song is arranged keeps it exciting and emotive. The verses played are more laid back until the vocal explosion happens during the chorus. The drum sound throughout is very tight in a way that makes the sound very compact and chippy, but paired with the nostalgic combination of the vocalists during the chorus allows interesting instrumental sounds like this work flawlessly. All albums need contrasting opinions in vibe, but unfortunately the slower tracks on this album are stylistically the most boring tracks on the record. Songs like "Low Down Freedom" and "Ride Me Down Easy" are forgetful to say the least. The repetition between each layer create sleep-inducing songs. When you compare these tracks to songs like "Ain't No God In Mexico", it's hard to imagine why Jennings and the record company didn't realize they weren't great fits for these songs. The constant feeling that something is going to break out and invoke every ounce of brain power in "Ain't No God In Mexico" is fantastic.
The album ends on a slower track in "We Had It All" but this is one of the more solid slower songs on the album. The instruments are all easily heard, especially the bass guitar and the string section that plays accompanying melodies throughout. The difference between this and some of the lower-tier slow tracks is the amount of interesting qualities it has, which was served correctly for an album ending song. Honky Tonk Heroes is a wonderful listen to throw yourself back into the country life. Containing numerous honky tonk styles, this album is a great introduction into Waylon Jennings and his sound. The instrumental sounds, clearly playing across the entire record is definitely the strength of the entire album but everything works well together; even the slower, dreary songs are a perfect contrast to the honky tonk energy of the other tracks. The classic country sound is amazing to hear and really strengthens the world the album builds for us. I recommend listening to this album because it is a fun look into the genre, especially if you aren't sure if you like or dislike country music...
Favorite Songs: "Honky Tonk Heroes", "Omaha", "You Ask Me To" Least Favorite Songs: "Ride Me Down Easy"
Production Quality: Mix = 8.5/10 (Extremely clear mix allowing you to hear every single layer of the music, but the background vocals sometimes show the records date and every song seems to end with a fade out) Innovation = 8.5/10 (One of the first to combine rock and honky tonk) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 8.5/10 Lyricism = 5.5/10 (Great country lyrics, not written by Jennings) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 7.5/10 (Fun sound for the record, but not particularly the greatest sound overall) Instrumental Timbre = 10/10 (Perfect sound from the instruments) Group Chemistry = 9/10 (Countless solos, all with complex playing alongside other instruments) Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 8/10 Overall Rating: 8.2/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

The Beatles - 'With the Beatles'

The Beatles - 'With the Beatles'

Album: With the Beatles Artist: The Beatles Release Date: November 22, 1963 Genre: Rock and Roll Length: 0:33:07 Label: Parlophone Producer: George Martin 1,001 Album Book: Yes A wonderful step up, but not even close to the top... Released only eight months after their debut record Please Please Me , With the Beatles is the second studio album by the Beatles. With the Beatles spent 21 weeks at #1 on the charts and eventually would go on to certify gold in six countries, escalating the success of the group tremendously. With the Beatles features fourteen total tracks, six of which are covers and the rest are original compositions. Unlike Please Please Me, most of the eight original songs are written by the songwriting partnership of Lennon-McCartney but George Harrison has credit on the track "Don't Bother Me".
While the songs on this album contain similar themes from their first record, the songwriting starts to become more complex during this point in their career. Songs like "It Won't Be Long" has an interesting play on words with "It won't be long until I belong to you", "All My Loving" has more meaningful lyrics on the themes of love, and "Don't Bother Me" allows Harrison to bring out a more personal side in the lyrics. This album was recorded in a period of a few months, unlike Please Please Me which was recorded in one day, and it is obvious as to the relaxed sound they adopt in this record. The quality of the recordings are much cleaner and the instrumentation is more experimental than the prior record. "Don't Bother Me" has McCartney playing claves in the background and Ringo playing bongos, which he plays again on the track "Till There Was You", Harrison plays more sophisticated guitar solos, and once again Lennon showcases his skills on harmonica in the song "Little Child". The renditions of various Rock, R&B and Motown songs throughout the record are perfectly placed to make it seem that the Beatles were the original creators of these songs. The performance on "Please Mr. Postman" for example could be considered to be as good as the original composition by the Marvelettes. "Roll Over Beethoven", originally by Chuck Berry, serves Harrison's more raspy vocal style beautifully and "You Really Got a Hold on Me" by Smokey Robinson, is another fantastic rendition of a song from one of Motown's greats. This is definitely not my favorite album by the Beatles but it really shows the progression in skills the group possessed between the time of their first record and this one. I truly don't think there are any bad songs on the album; it even features some of their larger hits such as "It Won't Be Long" and "All My Loving", but overall the albums after this one are where the Beatles start to mature. This was only the beginning for the group; the fact that they start out this strong, only to escalate to albums down the line like Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road, is almost impossible to imagine coming from a group that started off with songs from With the Beatles. This is what makes the Beatles such a fascinating group to learn about, especially if you listen to the albums in order... Favorite Songs: "It Won't Be Long", "All My Loving", "Please Mister Postman" Least Favorite Songs: No bad songs but "Devil In Her Heart" is probably my least favorite Production Quality: Mix = 7.5/10 (Fantastic mix for 1963 but could just be because I listened to the remastered so that's why I gave it a lower rating) Innovation = 8.5/10 (Continuing to escalate their sound and influence endless groups still to this day) Songwriting Quality: Arrangement = 8.5/10 Lyricism = 7.5/10 (Fantastic songs written by the Beatles but still carry the same central themes around girls and love even if they are more complex than others. Also contains a good amount of covers which lower the rating for original lyrics slightly) Instrumentation Quality: Vocal Timbre = 10/10 (Even songs like "I Wanna Be Your Man" with Ringo singing carry a charm throughout, but the songs by the other three are definitely the strongest singing performances) Instrumental Timbre = 9/10 (Beautiful instrument sounds but a slightly basic early sound that they came to perfect, but compared to other albums by them the instrumentation is slightly lacking) Group Chemistry = 10/10 Overall Likability: My Personal Rating = 9/10 Overall Rating: 8.6/10 Any confusion on how the rating is weighted/calculated, please look at my "About" page. Remember this is all my opinion! Let me know if you agree, disagree or have any comments!

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