Category Archives: music review
Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.
Melanie was more than just a neighbour. Born three days before me, she was like my (ever-so-slightly) older sister and we grew up together, involved in each other’s lives day in and day out.
We walked together, to and from school, through kindergarten and the elementary grades. Her parents were surrogates to my own. I’d have a bowl of Heinz Scarios for lunch at her house on some days and she’d have a mortadella panino at mine on others. On our street, we played “Hide and Seek” as a team, and she would give me nods and winks in games of Clue so that I could surmise Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the rope. We collected, and played with, G.I. Joe figures together: me with Duke and Snow Job, and her with Scarlet and Lady Jaye. She’d have my back in the odd fist fight in the school playground, and she’d help me pass anonymous Valentine’s Day notes to the girls of my affections in grades four and five. At her cottage we caught frogs together and went fishing off of the dock, then water-skiing, then roasting marshmallows on an open fire. Those days were full and fun days.
Although there was some inherent distance between each other after grade eight by attending different high schools, like all good older sisters, we’d still spend time together and she’d still share some of her discoveries with her “younger brother” when we did get together. One week at her cottage during the early summer of 1988, the summer before grade ten, she shared her newly discovered love for pop music by handing me, along with her Sony Walkman, a white cassette tape projecting the simple, powerful, black font words of: New Order Substance 1987. “Listen to this,” she commanded me. And, as an obedient by-three-days younger brother, I did.
That cassette tape would change my life.
In a year that might well be remembered for one of the worlds largest bands giving their album away for free – much to the chagrin of many music listeners, there’s was plenty of great music to get excited about.
Albums from Ryan Adams, U2, Taylor Swift, Beck, Foo Fighters and many others made the rounds on airwaves, speakers and ear buds in 2014. Still, some albums, some songs were more resilient, more beautiful, catchier and more…”top” than the others,
That’s what this list is for.
A list showcasing the Top 5 albums I heard this year, like I write every year. Here were the albums I played relentlessly. Are any of your favourites on it?
No Line On the Horizon, the band’s twelfth studio album, released in early 2009, was a relative failure in terms of sales, even if the resulting world tour was the highest grossing concert tour in history. It was evident: people still wanted to hear and see U2. For that reason and that reason alone, the aged Irish rockers can still be deemed as being relevant musically, politically, and culturally. With the surprise album release of Songs of Innocence last week, five long years since their last proper album, U2, the long-lasting survivors of rock and roll, test the theory of relevancy once more.
And they come through that crucible in one of the most unexpected ways imaginable: if not through the music itself, then through the musical process.
A new album from a classic group can often be problematic – nobody sells albums anymore, especially bands of an older ilk who are faced with an aging fan base that solely wants to hear the hits of yesteryear delivered live. Try as I might to convince someone that the Rolling Stones A Bigger Bang was a solid addition to their catalogue, or that The Who’s Endless Wire was a consistently strong piece of art, there’s a good shot it will fall on deaf ears. The same can be said for prog rock masters Yes, who, in 2011, put out Fly From Here, an album I consider to be their best since 1980’s Drama. Some of their unrelentingly vocal fan base may agree with, while others would take the absence of founding member and lead singer Jon Anderson as reason enough to dismiss that effort.
If that’s the case, there’s no way I’ll be able to convince you that the band’s latest album, Heaven and Earth, is even better than Fly From Here. Or that, in my humble opinion, Yes has delivered a modern masterpiece.
Whenever I write about Deep Purple, I always mention that, no matter what classic rock radio would try and have you believe, the band has a rich history that goes way beyond Smoke On The Water. Sure, Machine Head is probably their definitive moment, the album that should have already put them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, there is more to Deep Purple than just one album, or even one line-up.
The folks at Eagle Rock recently released the 8 track Deep Purple Live in California 1974, capturing the line-up of David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass/vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards) and Ian Paice (drums) at the massive California Jam Festival, where the band played in front of 200,000 fans and more watching on television. This version of Deep Purple had recently released the album Burn, the first with Coverdale and Hughes, and it’s a great rock record, a bit of a hidden classic that deserves a wider audience to this day.
Thirty years into a band’s career is hardly the point where one would expect to find adventurous songwriting and career
defining songs, however that is exactly what Marillion have done with their 17th studio album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made. Arriving four years after their last proper studio album, Happiness Is The Road, STCBM took time to fully develop. Due to their solid business model and early adaptation to internet/online based marketing Marillion have developed the ability to work within their own timeframe, never rushing quality for the purpose of meeting release dates. In fact the album was to have been released prior to the band’s North American tour in 2012 but recording was still ongoing at the time. They are perfectionists when it comes to their craft and on this album it shows in all its glory.