Classic Picks Revisited – The Grays, The Honeydogs

I decided to take a look back to the past and delve into some albums I haven’t heard in full in several years! Albums which I constantly tell people to check out, but do I really know what these are about? That’s what I aim to find out in this project. This weeks’ project looks at two albums, separated by a decade. How will they stand up? See below!

The Grays – Ro Sham Bo
The Grays - Ro Sham BoI have long maintained that The Grays album Ro Sham Bo is one of the best pop albums of all time. I decided to take another listen today, and realistically speaking, it has its flaws. If anything, it relies too heavily on the alt-pop sound of the early 90’s. Each songwriter brings his own unique style to each song, so as a result, it comes off as inconsistent. Jason Falkner’s perfect pop shines lights all around, greatly contrasting with the darker pop of Buddy Judge and the overly intricate, effects heavy Jon Brion songs. Combined, these simply sound like 3 different early 90’s alt-pop EP’s put on shuffle. Any attempts to create a cohesive experience by having the same players on all tracks is put to rest by Brion’s “Not Long For This World”, a jagged spike cutting off the last third of the album. The remainder of the album fades out with no real focus or unity.

So maybe I can pull back my reverence for this album. However, it still contains some of the best pop songwriting ever put on disc. The highlights include Falkner’s “Very Best Years” and “Both Belong” as well as Brion’s “Same Thing”. The work these artists would go on to do overshadows this early work, but it should not be ignored for fans of this type of music.

The Honeydogs – 10,000 Years
The Honeydogs - 10,000 YearsMusically, 10,000 Years is The Honeydogs most ambitious effort. The music all feels like it belongs and is crucial to the story. There are a couple great stand-alone songs on here, and they achieve further impact by repeating themes in later songs. Lyrically though, it falls short for a couple of reasons. Listen, I’m all for concept records, and this does not even feel that much like a concept record, but trying to translate these songs to their impact on my daily life is next to impossible. Much of the lyrics are in the third person and do not lend themselves to any value beyond the meaning within this context. Also, the lyrics are quite obtuse at times. This does not make for memorable lyrics. Picking this record up after a couple of years, the song titles didn’t even give me much to go on as far as remembering what the songs sound like. I did remember “Poor Little Sugar” and “10,000 Years” but probably because they are the only two with repeating choruses. Don’t get me wrong, I love this album, but it really only works within its context, and that doesn’t offer very good options of songs to use to spread the word of The Honeydogs’ greatness.

Audities: Best of 2009

Rank Artist // Album
1 Brendan Benson // My old, familiar friend
2 Roger Klug // More help for your nerves
3 Chris Richards // Sad sounds of the Summer
3 Jason Falkner // All Quiet on the Noise Floor
5 Green Day // 21st century breakdown
6 Paul Steel // Moon Rock
7 Phoenix // Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
8 David Mead // Almost And Always
8 Tinted Windows // Tinted Windows
10 Wilco // Wilco Continue reading

Beck – Modern Guilt

I’ve been a Beck fan ever since I first head “Loser” on the radio back in 1994.  I saw him in concert that year (at local radio station KROQ’s annual Weenie Roast) and I’ve seen him twice since (the most memorable was one year on Cinco De Mayo where he performed with a mariachi band at the Greek Theater.) 
I like to consider myself a Beck “completist”, trying to own everything he’s released, which wasn’t always easy. His original contract with Geffen allowed him to release CD’s not only on their label, but anywhere he wanted, and every CD-single he put out always had lots of extra b-sides.
There are many musical sides to Beck Hansen, and I love them all.    Continue reading