Join us for our second installment in this years Essential project - where we dig deep into a genre and bring you the albums that matter most. This year we're covering the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and Funk genres. Today on the show we talk about records from two very influential and well-known bands - Iron Maiden and Parliament.
In 1980, Iron Maiden released their debut record to much critical and commercial success. Their combination of punk and progressive rock sound was perfectly fitted for audiences in the UK and Europe looking for the next thing after punk music.
A few years prior, the George Clinton led Parliament group was poised to release their defining record. By building on the sound of James Brown (and stealing a few of his band members), they were ready to start a musical movement. Hits like Mothership Connection and Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker) would go on to become mainstays in the genre and help define much about modern day hip-hop. Not to mention the amazing live shows they would become famous for.
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This week on the show we're talking about blue - specifically 2 albums that use the word in their titles.
The Dude's pick is the 2009 comeback record from Alice in Chains. An amazingly relevant sounding record from a band that had been on hiatus for over a decade. Many of the songs deal with the loss of the bands longtime lead singer, Layne Staley who passed away in 2002. New vocalists and rhythm guitarist William DuVall fills the hole nicely as the band picks up right where they left off.
Andy picks out a Tom Waits record from 1978 that signified Waits transition from a lounge singer to the blues and jazz man we know today. His gravely voice and imaginative lyrics are in peak form here as he tells stories about everything from hookers to murder.
It's nerd or nutin!
Alright, we're settling back into our usual grove with to some new releases recommendations on this week's show. We've scoured the new release charts and review columns from the last few months to bring you these 2 new records that we think simply rock. And as an added bonus they're both uplifting, positive records which is always welcomed to help fight the post-holiday blues.
The Dude's pick comes from a singer/songwriter hailing from Pennsylvanian by the name of Longhorne Slim. He put out a charming Folk/Americana record towards the end of 2017 that has been putting on smile on our faces ever since. His sound is Cat Stevens meets Bob Dylan. His lyrical content deals with life's trials and tribulations, but always with a wry smile and a sense of 'it'll be alright'. The accompanying music ranges from stripped down to straight-up hoe-down. Longhorne sound right at home with both. And that's seems to be his secret sauce - sounding unique and genuine while still appealing to most everyone. This is a record most every music lover will find themselves smiling along too.
Andy's pick comes from across the pond in London, England and a post-punk group named Shopping. Towards the of January they released 'The Official Body' a dance-orientated rock record that is immediately likable. The three-piece sets the outsiders mentality of punk to a very groove-orientated rock beat. The sharp, angular guitars fit neatly between the anthemic, shouted vocals. Fans of LCD Soundsystem and B-52s will find themselves right at home on the short-but-sweet album.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And keep that nerd nice n' toasty!
We look back on the year that was 1995. As we reared our heads out of the grunge movement, what was left? A new wave of rock bands emerged, trying to capitalize on the Seattle sound. Hip-hop continued to move into the mainstream. And of course, there's always Weird Al to put his spin on it all.
We combined our individual lists to arrive at this top 5:
GZA - Liquid Swords
Mobb Deep - The Infamous
Mad Season - Mad Season
Alice in Chains - Alice in Chains
5. Candlebox - Lucy
The second studio album from this Seattle rock band was not well initially well received, however it's aged well and when considered outside of the grunge label holds up today.
4. Bjork - Post
After her Debut record, Bjork was poised to become an international star and this album delivered just that. Yielding 6 singles and many memorable videos, Post is considered one of her best.
3. Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters
David Grohl single-handily delivers an instant classic in his first work post-Nirvana. Shades of the past are certainly visible, but we also catch glimpses of the rock juggernaut to come.
2. Tricky - Maxinquaye
A high-water mark in the trip-hop genre, this release was groundbreaking and would influence many bands to come. The contrast of Tricky's rough vocals and production style paired against the smooth feminine vocals of Martina Topley-Bird still is sounds as fresh today as it did then.
1. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
With one of the most ambitious albums of the 90s, the Smashing Pumpkins captured the heart of many an angst ridden teenagers. Their ability to switch from moody pop rock to crushingly heavy metal was exciting and seemed to please everyone. The scope of record and the grandeur of the lyrics felt important, like we had finally gotten our generations great record. While it might not be as spotless in hindsight, it sure does sound like 1995.
Tell us which ones we missed @albumnerds on Twitter.
We kick off our 2018 edition of the Essential Project where we dig deep into a particular genre, bringing you the important records and historical context you need to be a true Album Nerd. This year we're focusing on NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) and Funk music.
Our first NWOBHM record is from a 'what-could-have-been' band named Angel Witch and their 1980 album by the same name. They helped to pioneer the fast, metallic, proto-thrash style that would mature into the modern metal sound we know today. While the band dealt with production and marketing issues, there's no denying the catchiness and pure fun they captured on this release. If you're down with guitars and songs about witches and demons, this is essential listening.
On the funk side, we start with the roots of funk - 60s soul music and the incomparable James Brown. In 1973 the hardest working man in show businesses released 3 soundtrack albums, the third of which is among some of his best material of his career. The super-tight playing and soloing by his backing band largely carries the record, but Brown peppers in plenty of his own flourishes to keep things interesting. Clocking in at over 70 minutes, The Payback is a more than generous dose of pure funkiness.
This episode has been certified 100% essential nerd.
We complete our 2017 year end countdown of our favorite records of the year that was. In this episode we cover numbers 5-1.
Mastodon - Emperor of Sand (Dude)
The seventh studio album from the Atlanta, GA progressive metal band that sees them returning to their concept record roots.
Downtown Boys - Cost of Living (Andy)
A raucous, post-punk rock record with lyrics focused on social and economic inequalities.
Pallbearer - Heartless (Dude)
The third full-length album by the American doom metal band that continues their strong songwriting and blend of 70s and modern metal sounds.
Pile - A Hairshirt of Purpose (Andy)
The sixth full length from the Boston, Massacheuttes underground indie-rock band featuring strange song structures and peculiar lyrics.
Foo Fighters - Concrete and Gold (Dude)
The ninth studio album from the larger than life rock band self-described as "hard rock extremes and pop sensibilities collide".
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana (Andy)
Prolific Austrian psychedelic rock band perhaps most accessible album of their career is a study in microtonal tuning.
Vant - Dumb Blood (Dude)
The debut (and perhaps final) record from British alternative rock group whose lyrics focus on equality, education and the environment.
Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent (Andy)
A heady post-rock record that can be unwrapped for multiple satisfying listens.
Colter Wall - Colter Wall (Dude)
An autobiographical and intimate soulful country record from the Canadian newcomer.
Billy Woods - Known Unknowns (Andy)
The 6th solo studio album from the left-field, Brookyln-based rapper that sees him adding more melodic song structures.
Join us next week as we kick off our Essential Funk and New Wave British Metal series for 2018.
Special thanks to John Riggs for the countdown vocal sample, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R3if22A0L4
Happy Nerd Year!
It's the close of another year and that can only mean one thing - year end countdown lists! In a bold move of originality, we count down our top 10 favorite records of 2017. In this episode we cover our honorable mentions and numbers 10 through 6.
Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper (Dude)
A heavy, dark doom record that sounds open and spacious.
Hiss Golden Messenger - Hallelujah Anyhow (Andy)
Fun, enjoyable folk rock record that should mesh with most music fans taste.
One Bad Son - Made in the Name of Rock and Roll (Dude)
A hard rock album that will please fans looking for a modern take on their favorite 80's metal.
Tennis - Yours Conditionally (Andy)
A husband and wife duo put together a record of lo-fi, dreamy pop music with a nod to the 70s.
The Steel Woods - Straw in the Wind (Dude)
The debut album from Nashville-based rock band that combines elements of rock, blues, folk, gospel, heavy metal, Americana, soul and bluegrass.
Algiers - The Underside of Power (Andy)
Intriguing mix of punk, blues and spiritual music with a political slant.
Chris Stapleton - From a Room Vol 1&2 (Dude)
A double record of country and roots rock music from the Grammy winning American singer/songwriter.
Juana Molina - Halo (Andy)
An eerie, edgy and atmospheric record from the Argentinian folk musician.
Midland - On the Rocks (Dude)
A country record that follows in the footsteps of Dwight Yoakam.
Julien Baker - Turn out the Lights (Andy)
Memphis singer/songwriter puts out a sad, heartfelt record that deals with spirituality, personal growth and relationships.
Tyler Childers - Purgatory (Dude)
A modern sounding country record that feels lived-in, filled with songs etched from hard-earned experiences.
Colter Wall - Colter Wall (Andy)
The wise beyond his years, 21 year old put out a autobiographical set of songs that sound lived-in and genuine.
Join us next week as we count backwards through our top 5 favorites of 2017.
Happy Nerd Year!
Holiday music can get old fast. It's the same set of songs, over and over again. Luckily your favorite Album Nerds are here with a couple holiday album recommendations that feature some excellent original songs to help you celebrate your Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa-Festivus Day in style.
Our first pick was released in 1973 by country legend Merle Haggard. The economy was in a recession and many families didn't have extra money to spend on the holiday. Merle taps right into the hearts of these families on the A-side, especially on the opening cut, "If We Make it Through December". On the B-side, Merle's voice shines through a series of Christmas standards. It's an excellent choice for relaxing in the glow of the Christmas tree.
Our second pick has a 70s sound, but was released just two years ago by soul and funk group Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. It features toe-tapping original songs, like "8 Days of Hanukkah" and "Ain't no Chimneys in the Projects". The tracklist is nicely sprinkled with funky takes on holiday standards such as "Silent Night" and "Funky Little Drummer Boy". Let Sharon's joyous vocals and the Dap King's super-tight accompaniment help get your holiday party going.
We've got two new release recommendations for you this week.
Veteran gospel singer Mavis Staples latest release is a beautifully written statement of love and togetherness, focused on lifting up minorities.
And Canadian rockers, One Bad Son, have added yet another solid rock record to their ever growing catalog.
Help us spread the message of good music by cranking that nerd to 11!
Hard to believe it's been a year since we started our Essential Project deep-dive into Blues, Country and Jazz music. Today on the show we recap the albums we highlighted throughout the year as well as share how the project has effected our listening to modern day music.
Crank that essential nerdiness to 11.