Babel Reviews

Album Reviews from a Music Lover with Resolution

Category: Playlists

Fantasy Albums: Mad Caddies – Just One More (Re-Edited)

Mad Caddies - Just One MoreMad Caddies are a massively underappreciated band in a massively underappreciated genre. Their albums each take the basic framework of ska and explode it in entirely new directions, from Rock the Plank’s punk-infused sea shanties to Just One More’s delirious mix of ska, punk, reggae, polka, New Orleans jazz, and Latin music. In fact, the latter is easily among my personal favorite ska-punk albums, alongside Catch 22’s Keasbey Nights, Less Than Jake’s Anthem, and The Specials’ self-titled debut.

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Fantasy Albums: Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans (with Jason Isbell & Shonna Tucker)

Drive-By Truckers - English OceansIn the 2014 film Boyhood, there’s a great scene where Ethan Hawke’s character gives his son a painstakingly curated mix CD of post-breakup Beatles tunes that he dubs The Black Album. His explanation: “When you listen to too much of the solo stuff, it kind of becomes a drag, you know? But you put them next to each other, and they start to elevate each other. And then you can hear it. It’s The Beatles!”

Many of us have taken our own stabs at the perfect Black Album over the years, but the point is always the same. There is no favorite Beatle. The band was great because it consisted of four amazing musicians working together, each bringing their own style and personality to the table, with the result adding up to far more than the sum of its parts.

But The Beatles aren’t the only great band with an abundance of songwriting talent that has since been scattered to the winds. Case in point: Drive-By Truckers, one of the best rock bands, indie or otherwise, of the last two decades. Since their formation in 1996, each of the band’s first nine studio albums featured contributions from at least three songwriters — most notably co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley as well as Jason Isbell, Shonna Tucker, and Rob Malone.

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Fantasy Albums: Say Anything – In Defense of the Genre (Single-Disc Version)

Say Anything - In Defense of the GenreOne of my major musical pet peeves is the modern double album. Before the 1980s, the format was a necessity, as you can only cram so much music onto a vinyl record before the quality starts to suffer. But today, when you can fit 80 minutes onto a CD and an unlimited amount of music onto a digital release, the entire concept of the double album has become self-indulgent in and of itself. You’re telling me you have two full hours of mindblowing tunes that you just HAVE to put out right now? Sorry, I can almost guarantee that you’re full of shit. And don’t even get me started on triple albums. (I’m looking at you, Green Day.)

That said, any artist who feels the need to release a double album was certainly touched by the hand of inspiration, which means there is often a good to great one-disc record buried somewhere within the filler. And now, with the advent of playlisting, we can futz with an overlong album’s track listing to our heart’s content in an effort to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’ve been doing this for fun for a while, and it’s helped me develop a newfound appreciation for a variety of double albums over the years. Continue reading

Friday Playlist – 1/27/17

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a great first week for Babel Reviews, with our piece on The Smiths‘ Strangeways, Here We Come leading to some great conversation over on our Facebook page. Highly suggest you check it out and get involved in the discussion!

To celebrate, we’ve put together a playlist of some of our current favorite tracks, including cuts from The Smiths, our band of the hour, as well as Arcade Fire, Japandroids, LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, Zack de la Rocha, and Lowlight, New Jersey’s finest folk-rock-with-keys band. Hope you enjoy, and have a great weekend! Continue reading

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