Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001-02) is an interesting tale of a record company (Reprise) failing to recognize a piece of art and refusing to release it, subsequently selling the rights back to the band. Wilco wound up streaming the album for free, then signed with a new label and officially released the album, which went on to be their biggest seller…pretty cool.

Wilco has drawn comparisons to Radiohead in regard to their tendency for sonic experimentation, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is an album that rewards the listener for repeated plays (preferably with headphones).

Jeff Tweedy writes and sings with sometimes deceptive simplicity, but the lush production brings out so many minute details that creep into your brain after several repeats.

Some of my personal favorites include I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Ashes Of American Flags, Kamera, Heavy Metal Drummer, I’m The Man Who Loves You, and Jesus, Etc.

Wilco are on my bucket list of bands I would really like to see live, but even if it never happens, they sure do make some amazing music in the studio.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

Daydream Nation (1988) was the album that catapulted Sonic Youth into the big leagues, gaining them enough critical and public acclaim to get them signed to a major label.

Daydream Nation has been widely recognized as Sonic Youth’s best work, and in 2005 it was chosen by the Library Of Congress to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. Additionally, Daydream Nation was integral to the outbreak of alternative rock in the ’90’s. Some of my favorite stuff from this double album include Teenage Riot, Hey Joni, Eric’s Trip, Trilogy, Silver Rocket, Rain King, and Total Trash.

I really love the atonal noise that Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo conjured out of their guitars and incorporated into their inspired version of classic rock.

Sonic Youth wrote intelligent songs that embraced punk spirit, art, and works of literature, and threw in a healthy dose of musical anarchy to come up with a noisy dose of pure inspiration and a sound unlike any other band of their time.

I think their music is quite timeless, and it will age quite gracefully, pulling curious listeners into its orbit for generations to come.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Beck: Odelay

In music, there are no real “overnight sensations”, because artists spend years honing their craft before they become famous.

Beck had hit the public consciousness with the song Loser and, like everyone else, I heard it and enjoyed its quirky style.

In 1996 Beck expanded on his fame with Odelay, an album loaded with songs that were lapped up by alternative radio and alternative youth in alternative nation.

I don’t really have much to say, other than that I liked the diversity Beck put out on Odelay.

He played a ton of different instruments, sang and wrote the songs, and produced it with The Dust Brothers.

Odelay (and Beck himself) were different than almost everything else that was popular at that time.

I particularly liked Where It’s At, Jack-Ass, Devil’s Haircut, Sissyneck, The New Pollution, Novacaine, and Lord Only Knows. I haven’t explored Odelay in a long time. I’m going to have to revisit it and rediscover the weirdness of Beck once again.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Jeff Buckley: Grace

Jeff Buckley only made one album, Grace (1994), but what a record it was!

Initially it wasn’t a hit, but eventually Grace sold over 2 million copies.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one late to the party.

While the songs and the music are admittedly superb, the thing about Grace that is truly magical is Buckley’s voice.

He definitely had superhuman pipes, a voice for the ages. Perhaps his untimely death has enhanced that perception, but one only has to listen to songs like Hallelujah, Mojo Pin, Corpus Christi Carol, Lilac Wine, Last Goodbye, Grace, and Lover You Should’ve Come Over to experience that unearthly tone and wistful mystery that Buckley conjured throughout the album. Artists like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page all held him in high regard, and that sounds like some pretty reliable praise.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Thirty years ago (1988) Jane’s Addiction released their major label debut, Nothing’s Shocking, and it was shockingly good. By nature, Jane’s Addiction has always been an explosive unit, with lots of public and private bickering between band members. All of this strife made for some great high tension music, and paved the way for the alternative music explosion of the 1990’s. Perry Farrell, the group’s singer, lyricist, and conceptual artist, went on to found the Lollapalooza festival. Farrell’s distinctive voice and hypnotizing stage presence, combined with Dave Navarro’s hard rocking guitar style, Eric Avery’s liquid and melodic bass lines, and Stephen Perkins’ limber percussion attack, all coalesced into a distinctive sound that was fresh and radical at the time. Nothing’s Shocking was sequenced really well, and I often played it from start to finish, however, some of my favorites on the disc were Ted, Just Admit It, Standing In The Shower…Thinking, Ocean Size, Pigs In Zen, and Summertime Rolls. Jane Says was a pretty big hit with its steel drums and trance inducing acoustic rhythms. Jane’s Addiction were a great live band, too, and although they go inactive for long periods of time, they remain interesting and fierce when they decide to make music together.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Talking Heads took a long time to really make a proper fan out of me, but they finally succeeded with the release of Stop Making Sense, both the film and the accompanying soundtrack album. I am concentrating on the album for the sake of this review, but the film is a must see, one of the best concert films of all time in every respect; cinematography, vision, staging, sound…the works. David Byrne, the creative mastermind of Talking Heads, came up with this brilliant idea of staging the show from a blank canvas (he begins the show with a boombox playing a recorded percussion track that he performs with on acoustic guitar, a brilliant version of Psycho Killer). With each successive song, another member of the band appears while roadies roll out risers with drum sets and other staging elements, eventually adding up to the 4 core members of the band plus 5 additional musicians/singers. As great as the visuals are, the whole thing is held together by the incredible songs and performances collected on Stop Making Sense. Pyscho Killer, Heaven, Girlfriend Is Better, Life During Wartime, Swamp, Take Me To The River, Crosseyed And Painless…just flawless post-punk brilliance…and you can dance to almost all of it!

Written By Braddon S. Williams

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