The First: Record I Ever Loved

A series exploring first musical experiences…

The First: Record I Ever Loved

Poison – Open Up and Say…Ahh!

I don't remember the cover being this lame...
I don’t remember the cover being this lame…

1988 was a landmark year for hair metal. Def Leppard, Guns N Roses and Bon Jovi all released classic albums: Hysteria, Appetite for Destruction, and New Jersey respectively. It was also the year that, as an 8 year old, I discovered the first record I ever loved. I still have a vivid memory of going to the record store in Henderson Square, West Auckland, and finding it in the racks of vinyl. Of course I didn’t buy it on vinyl, I took that to the counter and asked for the cassette version to put in my walkman.

I was hooked from the moment “Love on the Rocks” came through my headphones and remained enthralled until the final screech of “Bad to Be Good”. I pored over the lyric sheet and understood very little of the sexual overtones, but that didn’t stop me memorising every word. The record features some of the band’s most recognisable tracks including “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, “Fallen Angel”, and their biggest hit “Your Mama Don’t Dance”, which is, bizarrely, a Kenny Loggins cover. I listened to that tape until it was so stretched that everything played at least a third slower than it should have.

Even now, listening to it again to write this, I can see why I liked it. It had a sense of being otherworldly and outside of what I could imagine. My previous musical exposure was from the Tour of Duty soundtrack, a 60s compilation I listened to endlessly, but those songs sounded earthy and human. Poison were mind blowing for a preteen. Where Guns N Roses had a more sinister aura around them, Brett Michaels and co were hairsprayed and airbrushed into oblivion, which made them seem more like unicorns; beautiful, unattainable and incomprehensible.

– Aaron

Evanescence – Fallen

Fallen

 

When I was twelve I didn’t need music that was good, I needed music that explained how I felt. Unfortunately for 24 year old me, that music happened to be Evanescence’s debut album Fallen. I have no difficulty admitting that their lyrics are simple and lame and their guitar riffs (if you can call them that) are amateur at best. But when I was twelve, these guys could do no wrong. Looking back on it, the real reason I adored this album was because it meant something to me.

At that age, having a best friend who is a few years older than you can be an awesome thing. I learnt about sneaking out, lying to parents about where you would be,  got drunk at the tender age of about 14 (or younger… the details are hazy) and had someone to look up to. Naturally, there was also the bad. This friend was also my first point of contact with mental illness. When you’re young and you experience things like attempted suicide and depression, you don’t really know how to respond, act or feel.

When Fallen was released, I had almost lost my best friend and I had no idea how to feel. Ja Rule and Ashanti didn’t cut it and Blink 182 just felt like a joke. Evanescence managed to write simple lyrics and music that in the lamest way possible, captured my mood and emotions of the time. Listening to their album now makes me cringe, but all those memories are just as strong as ever. I fell in love with that album because for that 48 minutes, I had something that could put my tween emotions into some kind of cohesive explanation. This album managed to make sense of all the shitty things that were happening around me, so for a while heck yeah I was Evanescence’s biggest fan, just ask my mum.

– Sharni

Speed reviews 21/7

Ghostface KillahTwelve Reasons to Die II – Ghostface Killah is the consummate storyteller. On this record he has created a ridiculous, silly, and thoroughly engaging story around his alter ego Tony Starks. His skill lies in painting vivid pictures of violence and fantasy, while not taking himself too seriously. The best tracks are ‘Blackout’ and ‘Let the Record Spin.’ B+

Fumaça PretaFumaça Preta – Some crazy South American jazz/funk/metal/indefinable weirdness. The kind of record that grabs you and shakes you until you puke. But in a good way. ‘Pupilas Dilatadas’ and ‘Vou Me Libertar’ are my favourites so far, however the record is so dense and detailed that there is so much more to discover. A

SOAK  – Before We Forgot How to Dream – In lazy shorthand, SOAK is Ireland’s answer to Lorde, though that isn’t really a question. Ireland’s answer to Lorde? SOAK. The Irish version is more ethereal, with folk elements and actual instruments. They do share a talent for writing and evocative songs, as well as the teenage affectedness that comes with being 17 and in possession of a notebook and pen. Strongest songs are ‘Sea Creatures’ and ‘B a noBody.’ B

Wilco – Star Wars

So, Wilco has released a new record and it was a secret and they are currently giving it away for free on their website.

I remember Star Wars differently
I remember Star Wars differently

The most notable aspect of this record is its energy and it harks back to their days of making more cohesive records like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Their current line-up has been settled for a decade, yet it has lead to some of their least evocative records and they were in danger of becoming a Grateful Dead-esque jam band. This record wipes that fear away and is easily the best thing they have done since Sky Blue Sky. 

Star Wars is just 34 minutes long and this slight runtime means that each song is vital to the album’s overall feel, without the unnecessary or overlong songs that bloated their last record. The stand-out tracks are the fuzzy guitar’d and upbeat ‘Random Name Generator’, the chugging and churning ‘Pickled Ginger’ and the driving ‘King of You’. The whole thing is bookended by two of the strongest tracks ‘EKG’ and ‘Magnetized’. The former is a short, sharp shock of an opener, while the latter is Wilco’s classic combination of Jeff Tweedy’s stumbling vocals over soaring music. It’s the perfect conclusion to a record that has an immediacy not normally found on a Wilco record. Their best ones have traditionally taken their time and many listens to fully reveal themselves yet this is one I want to listen to again as soon as it finishes.

Mandatory.

Speed reviews 9/7/15

GirlpoolBefore the World Was Big – (B)

If the Breeders were teenagers and had no drummer, they would be Girlpool. Listening to one track doesn’t reveal anything particularly compelling, however the record as a single listening session is something I find myself returning to many times over. Their imperfect harmonies and delicate arrangements ensure their songs possess greater depth listen after listen.

Neil YoungThe Monsanto Years – (A-)

While his contemporaries founder in a sea of past glory, Neil Young’s strength is his ability to sound fresh and exciting at the age of 400. This record resides among the upper echelon of his output, and while he probably won’t hit the heights of Rust Never Sleeps, Zuma, or Harvest, this sits alongside Americana and Harvest Moon as a compelling record that outshines anything Dylan or Springsteen have released recently.

Leon BridgesComing Home (B-)

Unspectacular but solid, Leon Bridges has a voice that elevates this collection of R&B tropes well above itself. An enjoyable diversion.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi Love (A)

As with all of their records, this one takes its time to really connect and show all it has to offer. Five listens in and I am enjoying it more and more each time. They have a great knack of reinventing themselves on each album, while still maintaining the magic that makes them recognisable. This record pushes further the lo-fi soul-funk they pursued on II, but makes it more dense and infectious.

Methyl EthelOh Inhuman Spectacle – (C+)

Mostly tedious collages of sound with a few engaging highlights. File alongside Pond, Tame Impala, and other profoundly derivative psychedelic revivalists.