Monday, August 07, 2006

Get With The Times

Because I'm nice I've decided to provide a nice summary post. If you missed this series while i did it, fear not for you can still experience it in all it's glory, right here, right now.


Episode 6 - Rock AND Roll ----------------------- (read) (download)


Episode 1 - Bigger Better Boy Bands BEATLES --- (read) (download)
Episode 7 - Definitive Compilations --------------- (read) (download)
Episode 12 - Of Forrest Fame -------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 17 - Unloved Gold ----------------------- (read) (download)


Episode 2 - Rebellious Punks --------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 8 - Legendary Weirdos ------------------ (read) (download)
Episode 13 - Tough As Nuts ---------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 18 - Abstract Happiness ----------------- (read) (download)


Episode 3 - The Dark Ages ----------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 9 - 24 Hour Party People ---------------- (read) (download)
Episode 14 - The Serious Performers ------------- (read) (download)
Episode 19 - Early Bloomers ---------------------- (read) (download)


Episode 4 - Second Coming ----------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 10 - Made In Australia ------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 15 - Heavyweights ----------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 20 - Second-Hand Talent -----------------(read) (download)


Episode 5 - Mass Murderers ---------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 11 - Catalysts For Collections ------------ (read) (download)
Episode 16 - Festival of Talent -------------------- (read) (download)
Episode 21 - Good Riddance ----------------------- (read) (download)

I'm getting there.....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fin 2

Hooray for me, Get With The Times has offically finshed. No, it's hasn't ended, it has FINISHED. It is a completed project that will forever remain to be enjoyed by anyone who stumbles past, i.e. you. So for a retrospective on musical history, scroll through these holy pages and hope that everything still works. If not, drop a comment and I'll do what i can.

If you haven't already, head over to, my most recent project


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Good Riddance (00's)

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Exhausting. This one word pretty much summarises my experience making this series. Every week, devoting hours of valuable time to a task that nobody really cares about (if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of only ten). But that hasn’t dismayed me one bit, for now that I have finished, I have a completed product to cherish forever. It seems however that nobody else cares for 5 songs stuffed into one file. No, they want individual files to claim as their own and while illegality of that is even greater, that is the direction I will be taking when I go back to new music at Open Your Eyes. So in other words, I will no longer be creating, just offering. All personal involvement has been severed and at the end of the day my effort will go uncredited. It’s sad I know but the collective ‘they’ haven’t spoken…..which is speak in itself. But thankfully this series, with the timeless content it contains, will live on forever….well at least until my free web space provider gets sick of me. In this final issue, the range spreads from veteran ensembles, to newly emerging wonders and finally to stars that shone a little too bright. But what amazes me though it really shouldn’t, is that despite being the 4th episode of the decade, contained here are some of the best bands to play over this, at the time of writing this, incomplete decade.

Death Cab For Cutie – We looked like Giants
It’s kind of sad that to achieve popular recognition you pretty much need the backing of a major record label. The ideal world would be one where record promotion was banned and all records are released on equal footing. That way the masses, well at least their MTV’s would have to listen to the songs and choose on merits, not just what the big 4 give them. However such a world does not and will not exist and unless we rally behind them, many bands will be forced to cross to the dark side. Such is the case with Death Cab For Cutie – same band, same music and yet there latest album, released on a major label, did far better than they’re previous. I choose this song not only because it’s good but to honour the material that ‘most’ failed to honour

Interpol – Evil
Interpol have the tendency to invoke feelings of darkness in me. Perhaps it’s the disturbing nature of the filmclip for this song. Or maybe the parallels in vocals I can’t help but make with Ian Curtis. Either way, most of their songs just sound depressing. I say this like it’s a bad thing but it’s not. What better way to cheer yourself up than to listen to someone who’s depressed and realise how much happier you are? Regardless, the music they create is great, with two out of two albums so far being top quality

Cake – Commissioning A Symphony In C
Cake are completely unique, no band (of notable worth) even comes close to the sound they create. The Distance, an early song of theirs, was a childhood favourite of mine and many years later I discovered and fell in love with their 2001 offering, Comfort Eagle. It’s a well-crafted, all-round album, one better remembered as a whole than for it’s individual songs, always a sign of quality. Cake have the skill of making their music funny, often for reasons I cannot explain, which is always welcomed

Queens Of The Stone Age – Go With The Flow
I suppose I should get this out in the air, this is not one of my favourite bands. But, probably to the disgust of many of their biggest fans I much prefer the newer stuff to the older. This is probably because over time their sound evolved from a self described “heavy sound, based on a solid jam and just pounded into your head” to a more innovative sound, which is what captured my interest. Rather than go for a song off their new album I’ve picked Go With The Flow, a gem off Songs For The Deaf containing the best elements of both new and old.

The Libertines – The Good Old Times
The Libertines – what a band. To put it simply, their history goes like this drugs – forgiveness – drugs/theft/jail – forgiveness – more drugs – end. The main offender on all accounts here was Pete Doherty. But believe it or not over the 4 rocky years of their existence they released two absolutely amazing albums. While the second received more commercial success, I maintain that Up The Bracket was the greatest, containing so much variety and catchy melodies it’s invigorating. But my respect for The Libertines did not come instantly. On first listen I couldn’t stand the slurred vocals and frequent lack of structure, it’s just didn’t go down well. But through determination I warmed to them and really began to appreciate their style. This song is particularly suitable, a prelude to their later demise and plus it sounds great.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Second-Hand Records (90's)

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Living through a decade really helps when you’re looking for music during it. The list of artists I want to include isn’t endless, but it doesn’t end here. So had I the time or patience I could easily have done another episode, but well I don’t. To all those great artists out there that I missed, you know who you are, keep on loving yourself. Now just because I lived through it, doesn’t mean I got to know all the music along the way. In fact had it been left purely up to me my knowledge would undoubtedly be limited and poor. However that is the advantage of an older brother. While later I would discover his tastes were only the tip of the iceberg, a better start than nothing it was. About a year ago, I discovered his plethora of mix discs, filled with the many songs I loved, yet I had no idea who they belonged to, let alone what they were named. So I underwent the tedious, yet successful task of matching what I heard to online lyrics databases through the ever-handy Google. Now I can call all those songs my own and enjoy them at my leisure. While this doesn’t apply to all songs here, it applies to most and the other two are favourites of others, recommended to me anyway so the common theme still holds.

The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony
This is simply an epic song. I don’t know why I feel this, perhaps the orchestral sound, but whenever I listen to it, I always feeling that it is being sung for a reason and having some profound effect somewhere in the world. It’s stupid I know but it’s true. Richard Ashcroft played this song at Live 8, backed up by Coldplay, where Chris Martin introduced him as ‘the best singer in the world’. While this is a ridiculous claim, it’s gotta count for something. A truly sad story, but which I find hilarious is that they were sued for including a Rolling Stones loop in this song and subsequently didn’t make a dime from by far their biggest song.

Pavement – Gold Soundz
Pavement never achieved mainstream fame, but meet a fan and you’ll realise just how big a cult following they had. This following includes many high profile bands and they are quoted as influential far more than their success would suggest. Similarly they were one of the first indie (independent (not the genre this term somehow spawned)) bands to make a mark without the help of a major label, inspiring many more to do so. I personally took a while to get into pavement, the timely onset of my realisation of their quality coming only after a few listenings of Crooked Crooked Rain. This song was the first I warmed to and subsequently my favourite though, Cut Your Hair, which for some reason invokes thoughts of Weezer, is threatening to take it’s spot.

Idlewild – You Held The World In Your Arms
This song has always been one of my favourite ‘single songs’. While I would normally call myself an album collector, I also have a small number of songs which I either don’t want to get more of the band or simply never get round to it. I would put this band in the latter category for while I know little about them it appears this wasn’t just a one hit wonder. I especially like the energy of this song and while I’m thinking about it, I guess you could say the long drawn out vocals in the chorus go really well. The quality of this song is a bit off in the file, I tried fixing it but apparently it just doesn’t like being at 80kbps.

Eels – Last Stop: This Town
My memories of Eels consist of pleasant vocals and well crafted film clips. This song definitely brings back such memories. The sound here is also rather unique which makes even better. Mr. E, I would just like you to know that I enjoy your blend of catchy tunes and soothing vocals

Stereophonics – More Life In A Tramps
While I actually don’t mind their latest offering, that is almost irrelevant, for it feels that their older stuff, especially this, is by a completely different band. It seems so much more intelligent, in many ways. It is more complex, there’s more variation and the lyrics are well, they’re about the same. Most notable the voice sounds very different; I personally like this sound better

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Early Bloomers (80's)

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Isn’t it funny that more songs in this episode were released in the seventies than eighties? Yes, three 1978 songs are featured in this suppose-ed eighties snapshot. Why you don’t ask? Well why not? My standards have dropped already, so why not push them further? No I think the main reason is debut-album syndrome. The condition so many bands have where they struggle to beat the quality of their first album. So while most of the artists here would belong best to the eighties, they’re best song may be found elsewhere. Now previously I would have picked a different song or stuck them in a different decade but as you can imagine, being so far into the series, this luxury of options is no longer with me. Right then, that’s out of the way. Having to pick my 20th artist for this decade, I really struggled. You’d think that in the allotted 315360000 seconds (plus many more thanks to lax standards) there would be more than enough artists eager to fill these coveted spots. Well there is. It is my own tastes and striving for quality that makes my life so hard but thankfully it pays off and the music you see here today is still some of the best this decade has to offer.

The Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums
Being awarded #1 British album of all time is a pretty impressive honour. Even if Artic Monkeys did come 5th and the list was compiled by NME, it still means it’s a pretty good album. Well this honour was given to The Stone Roses’ debut album and it is indeed pretty good. While I wouldn’t rank it as the best, it contains many quality songs including this. It is a catchy tune, with a great sound reminiscent of the Britpop that came after it.

The Police – Roxanne
The Police have an odd blend of genre’s - rock and reggae. However popularity will prove that it works and it is perfectly represented in this song. Starting off with a slow Rastafarian melody, it’s launch into the faster chorus is great. Though not a favourite band by any means, I actually know a few of their songs quite well. The same I can’t say for lead singer Sting, whose solo career has led me only to know of, not to know

Elvis Costello – Pump it up
This is an extremely popular song for obvious reasons. Its catchy synth riff is surrounded by a solid rock tune, dripping with toe-tapping goodness, making it virtually ununlovable. It’s so catchy it seems that a recent artist, too horrible for me to know the name of, decided to rip the riff off verbatim. It almost ruined this song for me, but thankfully the film clip prevented this. Costello’s dancing ability is so unorthodox it’s simply hilarious, a must see for all.

Happy Mondays – 24 Hour Party People
Here by popular demand is 24 hour party people, a weird song by a weird band. The slurred vocals, barely recognisable as singing would normally never make it to the studio. The dirty mix of 80’s synth, slicey guitar and pounding drums are great but would not normally be seen as anything special. No, what makes this song so good is the people who made it, the Happy Mondays. Never a moment not on one drug or another, these guys got up to some pretty crazy stuff. Best of all, a permanent member of the band does nothing but dance. That’s right, on stage, every performance, just dancing. For proof of these antics, watch the film by the same name, perhaps the most well-crafted documentary I’ve ever seen.

B-52s – Rock Lobster
Now I’ve heard people claim that this song drags on. If you are one of the people who feel this, you are missing the point. For not only is this the king of party music, but it is laced with a deep and moving narrative. So next time it sounds like it’s about to finish, don’t regret that it’s only halfway through, revel in the prospect of hearing the next chapter in the legendary Rock Lobster story.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Abstract Happiness (70's)

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Four episodes in and the love keeps flowing from the seventies’ jar. Not only the love but also the big names. That said, you should probably be told that this will indeed be the last 70s episode I do. Yes it’s sad but options are getting a bit thin and besides, I’m sick to do death of this whole series. But fear not, in my self-righteous quest to help those less fortunate than myself, I will continue to the end. As I’ve mentioned before and probably never needed to, the 70s was experimental and confusing time (yes it IS possible to classify such a large (well no larger than the standard) decade with an endless (only an approximation of course) list of diverse people and happenings in such a simple way) and the result was the emergence of some odd musicians trying to find and portray meaning in their own special way. While this doesn’t apply to all here it applies to some and that’s a highly probable fact. Actually I don’t think I’ll try to explain the connection and bond between these artists and leave it up to each of you to discover it for yourselves. But take my word, it exists, it exists in all of us.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
For some reason I seem to associate Lynyrd Skynyrd with a person, but no they are many. Also my knowledge of them extends no further than and stems only from this song. But oh what a song it is- as classic as they come and must know for all. This would have to be one of my favourite, and therefore best, songs of Southern USA stylings.

Pink Floyd – Money
I am slowly but surely warming to Pink Floyd. It’s not that I dislike them; I just don’t get excited by them. However I’m beginning to uncover their genius, primarily through Dark Side of the Moon. What I can tell you about the band is rather limited. Though in order to maintain my cherished illusion that I’m all-knowing I will do it anyway, spreading mistruths and offending fans in the process. While they could probably be described as rock music they had a wide variety of styles, usually characterised by the lead singer at the time. They are also well known for their musical experimentation, elaborate live shows, philosophical lyrics and abstract cover art. Listening to this song, I can’t help but draw parallels to John Lennon but of course this is nothing but good, a statement true to the whole song.

Billy Joel – Piano Man
You can’t go wrong with both a harmonica AND a piano. Billy Joel, predominately through this song has greatly contributed to my love of both mediums. Other than its great sound, in instrument and voice, the other strongpoint of this song is its lyrics. As a true ballad should be, I am truly interested in lives of each character as they’re introduced which serves to make this song a well balanced pleasure.

George Harrison – Crackerbox Palace
The problem with my one-song-per-artist policy is that while these post-Beatles are deserving in their own right, I’d probably pick more Beatles’ songs over their solo work. Looking at it in a positive light, at least it’s a chance to present some lesser-known material. I thought it a bit much to include three ex-Beatles and while Paul may have done more in the together-era his contributions since are less notable (in my humblest of opinions)….there was a fourth member you say?....... George, the late-bloomer, preferred quality to over quantity or possibly he just struggled to write but either way he has produced some great songs. I was tossing up between this and All Things Must Pass and while the latter may be great, the fact he was successfully sued for copying another artist with it weakens it just a tad. Instead you are presented with the equally great, if perhaps a tad silly, but still great, Crackerbox Palace.

Three Dog Night – Joy To The World
While many notable pieces contended, I could not find a song I was completely happy with for this coveted fifth spot. That being said, which it surely has been, this is still a great song. The tune is unique, the intro exciting and the remaining positively uplifting. It nicely contrasts the serious nature of the songs before it, for as you all know; I can sometimes get a bit depressing with my song selection.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Unloved Gold (60's)

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Doing this episode has been a shameful experience for me, as it has made me realise how little I know about these excellent bands. I’ve had their music for ages and known all along that they’re good, yet never given them the time they deserve. So when I went to pick songs to use, I was repeatedly slapped in the face by my ignorance. Going through their catalogues of great music to find the best would simply take too long. Similarly using other people’s suggestions would be a shallow representation, as it would just be pushing my bullshitting skills to an all-new height. Instead I’m going to present the songs that I have always known, in many cases the popular favourites, which while not be the best, are great nonetheless. And for the future I encourage you to go out and listen to these artists in more depth for while you may think you know them you…er…might not….so do it!

The Kinks – You Really Got Me
This song is known far and wide yet it really is a misrepresentation of the main musical stylings. But then come to think of it no song could sum them up due their rather wide variety of output. So ignore what I just said and note this – The Kinks are silly. Listening to many of their songs you can imagine them being seamlessly integrated into a playschool skit. Thankfully we all know that genius can often be found in the simplest and silliest music, something The Kinks manage to pull off, creating some truly compelling listening.

Donovan – Get Thy Bearings
For so long I knew this song and nothing else, for so long I Knew Dononvan but didn’t really. For while this song is great and remains cherished, listening to his other music has shown me how good he is. While I never previously thought it plausible I would have to say that Donovan is one of the top 5 60’s artists you NEED to know. A list, that for reasons that should not be taken for granted, could never really be compiled. A truly great songwriter and/or storyteller is he.

Creedance Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son
This band is the absolute favourite of my uncle. Why would a man, at prime listening age during the golden 1960’s have picked this band out of the many?
Well because they’re good. Releasing six great albums in just two and a half years they managed to include just as much quality as they did quantity. John Fogerty, to which most credit can be accredited had a knack for creating clean and simple American rock n roll. Not only do they have many well-known hits such as this but they have so much more just waiting to be discovered.

The Rolling Stones – Satisfaction
Arguably the one band big enough to pose any challenge to The Beatle’s spot at the top of the ladder, they are more of a cult favourite thanks to their dark and dirty, ‘in your face’ nature in comparison to the generally family-friendly latter. However their underground status has become more mainstream in recent years with Mick Jagger appearing left, right and centre despite his stereotypically ugly British appearance. While he may be big and influential, I really can’t see the justification behind knighting him, what with all his glorification of sex and drugs and not to mention sympathy for the devil. Though one thing’s for sure, they are indeed big and influential, made clear by their ability to sell a stadium’s worth of tickets starting at prices higher than even the biggest bands would ever dream of. You don’t want to know how much it costs to both hear AND see them.

Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
My decision to use this song came seconds before all decisions were set in stone with it taking the place of the more upbeat “Highway 61”. For I feel this is a much betterer summation of what he’s about. The folk legend, the documenter, the commentator and often the epitome of American unrest is Bob Dylan. His voice may not be the greatest and he defies all the pop conventions but this what makes him good. Well actually a better voice wouldn’t hurt but this is irrelevant, his musical craftsmanship and lyrical genius allow him to make the strangely pleasant music he’s renowned for. This song in particular is great example of his deep ballads laced with brilliant melodies and a lovable straining voice.