Week 44 (Just A Band 4 aka Final Just a Band)

sex pistols

Artist: The Sex Pistols
Album: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
Release Year: 1977

Overview

*warning* There is a bit of swearing in this album review but I think the Sex Pistols would have wanted me to swear as often as possible.

This week I listened to the Sex Pistol’s Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols. Notice that Never Mind is not spelled Nevermind. An entire generation of 90s kids were mislead into using the misspelling thanks to Nirvana. Even though my example is trivial it illustrates the point that the right album coming along at the right time in the right place can influence an entire generation. Never Mind the Bollocks is absolutely one those albums. It’s cultural and musical impact are unlikely to ever be repeated. Some of it is because of timing, but there’s also the fact that some of what happened is straight up batshit flipping crazy.

If you don’t know who the Sex Pistols are, that’s okay. They were formed over 40 years ago. For those who were around when the Sex Pistols were formed, you’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older. And now you’re older still. My condolences. The Sex Pistols are a punk band out of London, England. Excuse me. That’s not right. A more accurate statement would be they are THE punk band out of London, England. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alive in 1975 and I’m not from the UK. I can’t give a firsthand account of the before and after of this album being released. I can tell you that reading about the Sex Pistols has been interesting mind blowing and is worth your time a must read scenario. There is a Mount Everest worth of controversy created for a band that had broken up by 1978 after releasing their debut album in 1977. This combination of influence and controversy is what makes them incredibly fascinating even to this day.

I could spend this entire review talking about the band and their insane fuckery, but that’s not why you’re here. You came here for the music. Well I hope so. Otherwise, I should have written a biography instead of an album review.

The Review

What Works

  • The energy of this album is simply amazing. The Sex Pistols crank it up to 11 the entire time. The beginning track, Holidays in the Sun, starts out with the sound of an army marching. Then the bass drum kicks: Boom. Boom. Boom. Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols’ drummer, is providing a metronome for the military. Then four monster strikes of the guitar by Steve Jones. Within seconds, you know you are in for some serious shit to hit the fan. These guys are not screwing around. You pumped? Oh hell yeah, you fucking are.
  • Some people might not see punk music as having artistic value. My grandmother would probably call this album a bunch of rotten vicious noise. And she would be wrong. Very very wrong. Why? A multitude of reasons. But one that stuck out for me over and over while listening was the vocal phrasing for both the lead vocals and even the backup vocals.  John Lydon is a music god on this album. He knows exactly when to drag a word out and which parts of the word to drag out.  He often uses it to build up tension as the song progresses. Thus making it a perfect compliment to the rest of the instruments. But he can also shoot out vocals at a break neck speed thus ensuring the listener is never bored. I really don’t think this album would be as acclaimed as it is if it wasn’t for Lyndon’s masterful singing.
  • Lyrical content is another strong point of this album. Obviously, the songs questioning authority and society are setting up the future punk ethos.  It gets a bit more interesting when you start looking into all of the songs. One unexpectedly fascinating song is Bodies, which is an extremely graphic depiction of abortion. Many conservative groups have latched onto this song for its anti-abortion stance. Lyndon however contends it is neither pro-life or pro-choice (much like Ben Folds’ song, Brick, but with the word ‘fuck’ used quite a few more times). It’s more about capturing the emotions involved in song form than trying to take any kind of stance or convince somebody what their view should be. (I find that absolutely refreshing in today’s social climate) That’s art as fuck, right? Sex Pistols are far deeper than what your grandmother would have led you to believe.

What Doesn’t

  • The energy of this album, while amazing, is completely overwhelming. I know what you are thinking. I’m just getting old. Well, guess what? I am! But the Sex Pistols felt overwhelming even in my junior year of college when I first gave them a serious listen during my pop punk phase when I was trying to find out where punk came from. This is a great album to listen to a couple tracks every once in a while to get yourself pumped up. The blitz style guitar work alone should do that just fine.  However, even better, this is an album to sit down and listen to the record in one continuous sitting so you can fully appreciate it. What shouldn’t you do with this album? Listen to it on repeat for an entire week. Negan could have easily used this album to break Daryl on the Walking Dead. [ed. how long has this review been delayed?] Daryl might have been jamming to it in the beginning but eventually he would be begging for mercy.

Conclusion

This is isn’t an album for everyone but it is an album everyone should listen to because of the influence it has had on music and culture. I seriously do consider this a historic document of tremendous value because of the impact it had that still can be felt today. Never Mind the Bollocks is so incredibly well crafted and absolutely deserves any praise it gets. It’s never going to be in my regular rotation though. It’s too much for me.

Reviewer’s Note

This review is about 29 months overdue.  The review before that was 12 months overdue. To those who have been patiently waiting for my next review, you are amazing. And I’m sorry everything fell apart. I will not continue listening to anymore albums on repeat for a week at a time . Whenever I’ve explained to people what I did for this site, I feel like I am explaining the ramblings of a mad man. I still want to write reviews in the future of albums that interest me for this site but not this way.  It’s too much. In the past 29 months I have listened to tons of amazing music so I have no shortage of things to talk about.

Streaming/Purchase Links:
Spotify
Google Play Music
Amazon Music
iTunes

Information Links:
Wikipedia Artist
Wikipedia Album
Facebook
Twitter
Official Site

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Week 37 Review

Mr. Oizo – Analog Worms Attack (1999)

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a 3.5 out of 5 stars album. The album has perhaps the greatest bonus track in the history of modern music and is considered to be quite influential for the electronic music genre, which is why the score is as high as it is. However, I found myself bored with this album much of the time as the week progressed. It just doesn’t lend itself to listening on repeat for an entire week.

Artist BackgroundMr. Oizo is French electronic musician and director, Quentin Dupieux.  His biggest hit is Flat Beat which features the puppet, Flat Eric. Flat Eric starred in a Levi’s commercial which featured the song. It took another half decade before he would release a follow-up, Moustache (Half a Scissor). I’m actually a way bigger fan of his second album which is a very satisfying listen for me given the overall weirdness of it. It’s like I’ve always said: if you aren’t going to be melodic, you damn well better be interesting. Mr. Oizo continues to put out unique music including The Church which he released in late 2014.

Album Background: Analog Worms Attack is an experimental, instrumental hip hop album with a runtime of about 50 minutes. Given the genre, there is a heavy emphasis on bass throughout the entire album. Mr. Oizo at least had an interesting concept with this album, which was to create the entire album with nothing but analog components. Most notably, he used the analog synthesizer, the Korg MS-20. The MS-20 stopped being produced in 1983 but played a big part in the analog revival of the late 1990’s. Quite a few of my favorite artists use the Korg MS-20 to make their music. Mr. Oizo probably couldn’t have picked a better instrument to work with. The album wasn’t made solely by himself as Feadz did most of the turntable work.

Favorite Track: This has to be the easiest time I’ve ever had picking a favorite track from an album. That song is obviously the bonus track, Flat Beat. This song defined an entire era of my life which was about the first 5 or so years after graduating from college. I didn’t quite have the freedom that I had with college life at the time, but I didn’t have all of the responsibilities and commitments that I have now. In other words, good times. I thumped Flat Beat on a Friday or Saturday with a drink in my hand whether the people I shared a wall with liked it or not. And this song still is my go-to for testing out a newly purchased sub-woofer. So why does this song stand out? The music video definitely helps. It’s so entertaining and filled with so many memorable moments; some of which my friend and I would try our best to recreate IRL. For the best listening experience possible, you want to try to imitate Flat Eric’s head bobbing pattern when listening to the song.

And I’m not the only one to love this song. It was a huge hit. It was included in the Top 5 in fifteen countries and even hit number 1 in  six countries, including the UK. The fact that this was barely a blip in the United States in 1999 doesn’t surprise me. There’s a lot of songs that are big hits internationally but don’t resonate here. What does register with me is the infectious rolling bass line and the playful approach of the rhythmic patterns Mr. Oizo used with this song. It is a must-listen song if you haven’t heard it yet. Seriously, I gave you a link. Watch the video. Let the puppet make you smile.

What Works: 

  • Turntables The scratching done on this album by Feadz was one of the highlights of the album for sure. The thirteenth track, Feadz On, is one of my favorite moments of his. His creative and often delightful technique perfectly complements Mr. Oizo’s often minimalist and repetitive beats. I think if this album would have been more sample heavy with Feadz being a main contributor for every song, this could have easily been one of my all-time favorites.
  • Timing The album is kind of unique in that it has four tracks that are under the two minute mark that aren’t skits. It really helped break up the album which had some tracks that went on entirely too long given how monotonous some of the longer songs were. Feadz On is included in those four tracks.
  • Kidnies Since this album is considered experimental hip hop, I think one of the more interesting experiments on the album is Inside the Kidney Machine. Not only does it feel like the musical equivalent of being inside a kidney machine, it also feels like you’re playing a horror video game that takes place inside a kidney machine. Could this be the main storyline of the next Resident Evil? You don’t even have to pay me, Capcom. I’m giving you this one, free of charge.

What Doesn’t:

  • Build Up I think my biggest problem with a good majority of songs is they don’t really go anywhere. If you have four or five minutes and no lyrics, I think your song needs to slowly build up to something to get and, more importantly, keep my focus. Too many times I found myself asking, “Is that all?”
  • Boring  While I love minimalist graphic design, I rarely find myself as intrigued by minimalist music. It usually just comes off as boring. And that was the case here. Many of the songs just did not have enough going on for me to really enjoy them. And hearing them over and over didn’t help. I’m pretty sure, if I wanted to, I could yada yada nearly the entire album: “I put on my headphones. I turned on Analog Worms Attack. Yada, yada, yada. Flat Beat finally came on.” Yep. That works.

In Conclusion: I’m not telling anyone to not listen to this album. I think it might be worth a look if this is a genre you are interested in. It might even become a favorite album for the right kind of person. There are some hidden gems to be found, such as Monophonic Shit, and Flat Beat is absolutely a must-listen situation. But I don’t think this is going to end up high on the all-time favorites list for your average person since it really doesn’t hold up to repeat listens.

Finally, please check out his official website. It’s seriously retro-rrific! And it has free music to download for the if it’s free it’s me crowd.

Music Video Links:
Mr. Oizo – Flat Beat (Official Video) 

Streaming/Purchase Links:
Amazon Music
Google Play
iTunes
XBOX Music
Spotify

Information Links:
Wikipedia Artist
W
ikipedia Album
Facebook
Twitter
Official Site