sexta-feira, 10 de junho de 2011


The final part, enjoy your Valentine!

The High End Of Low, by Marilyn Manson (Interscope, 2009)

Conceived after the break-up with actress Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, True Blood), THEOL marked the return of long time collaborator Twiggy, who was playing bass for A Perfect Circle and NIN, since 2002. Now he takes bass, guitars and production duties, giving much more structure and muscle for Manson’s lyrics. The album starts out with the suffocating, obsessive Devour, don’t mistake it by its soothing intro, soon Manson delivers (in a very cavernous voice) one of his best verses ever: “I will blow your heart to pieces”. It’s impossible not to identify with his anger, his desire to kill the one who hurt him. The song goes on a crescendo until it explodes with MM screaming repeatedly “I can’t sleep until I devour you”. Pretty as a Swastika is a bursting, powerful, corrosive track, almost punk rock about destruction, hardcore sex and abuse. Another standout tunes include radio-friendly Leave a Scar (despite F*** bombs, it could easily be in an U2 record); the bluesy, stomping, Johnny Cash-esque Four Rusted Horses and ballads Running to the Edge of the World and 15 placing softer horizons. If you miss old Manson, don’t worry, here there’s first single Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin’-geddon, Blank and White, and Daft Punk-like We’re from America, all of them full of swear words, and his earlier will to destroy everyone. The key cut here is I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies, a slower tempo around 9 minutes long about B-Terror movies. It’s like touring inside a serial-killer’s mind, yet seductive to the point of making its running time seem to last less than an eye blink. Some might still miss Pogo’s presence, replaced by Chris Vrenna; because all songs lack keyboards, ambience and weird noises Gaicy used to provide so well, but my guessing is that Vrenna kept the keys as secondary, letting Twiggy’s berserker guitars in the spotlight. Gradually, Manson is getting back his energy and irony both apparently lost on 2007’s EAT ME, DRINK ME. High End sounds like a warm-up for something bigger and better, and by the ruthless collection of tracks here, we can do bet that in his next full-length release (due to later this year) he’ll be on top form.


1.       Devour
2.       I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies
3.       Leave a Scar

Flavors of Entanglement, by Alanis Morissette (Maverick/Reprise, 2008)

Flavors is Morissette’s last studio album (she’s currently writing and producing new stuff with Rapper & husband MC Souleye, to a tentative 2011 release). Fueled up by the ending of her engagement with Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds (who traded her off by Woody Allen’s muse Scarlet Johansson), she found fertile ground to raise her own hell. Although sadness and desolation are the main themes, production was held by Guy Sigsworth (Frou Frou, Madonna, Britney Spears) who gave it a more pop edge in contrast. The deluxe edition is far way better than the standard cut, what makes me wonder why the best songs were kept as b-sides. Starting out, western oriented Citizen of the Planet is the heaviest track, with crunching riffs played on the chorus, and might remind of her old times as a rockstar. Underneath was the first single, and has very interesting drums, mimicking a heartbeat. According to Alanis herself, it deals with breakdown in communications. Tapes is most probably the song that best describes the whole record. Harsh lyrics like “I am someone easy to leave/Even easier to forget” and “I’m but a thorn in your sweet side/You’ll be better off without me/It’d be best to leave at once” are heartbreaking enough to crack anyone’s mood, even the happiest ones. Orchid is beautiful melodically, with strings and acoustic guitars giving Alanis’ vocals even more sweetness. The Canadian singer tries to find redemption on Limbo No More, talking about her struggle on moving on, and how it is difficult for us to drop off our wrongs and leave them all behind. It’s ironic and pitiful at the same time; because we lament things that hurt us, but we’re always fighting to keep them around in a futile attempt to change what’s clearly unchangeable: another one’s mind, convictions and nature. Morissette thanks her ex for his mistakes in Madness because only then she could grow up spiritually, even if his presence (and absence as well) makes her out of her head. On Flavors, Alanis opened wide her musical horizons by expanding her sound with pop instrumentation. It’s her most experimental to date, thanks to Sigsworth’s refined skills, who also co-wrote every song with her. He delights us with lots of clavichords, an enormous array of keys, loops, electronic beats and strings. All mixed together, with Alanis’ voice in the center and her always poignant songwriting, it leaves in the listener’s head a flavor that loving someone (and later, being abandoned by it) can be real cruel, but it’ll be perhaps the most valuable experience in our ever evolving process as human beings.


1.       Tapes
2.       Limbo No More
3.       Madness

My December, by Kelly Clarkson (RCA, 2007) 

American Idol’s most prominent finalist & winner was facing great dilemma circa 2006/7: did she continue to tread the well successful path Breakaway put her onto or did she stay true to herself and develop her musical and artistic identity? For our good, she chose the latter way (but also the harder one). RCA boss Clive Daves was totally dissatisfied with Clarkson’s new collection of songs, and got to the point of offering millions of dollars for her to stop the recording sessions and get rid of that direction and accept only being produced and borrow her voice and charisma to a more, hmm commercial and accessible project. No need to mention she refused, and her refusal (mistakenly called by many as stubbornness) conceived My December, her greatest effort to date. Kelly was then dating (or getting better from their split, cannot tell) with ex-Evanescence keyboardist – and guess – collaborator of a lot Breakaway hits (Because of You, Addicted, Hear Me) David Hodges, who ended up being the main source for December’s material. First single Never Again reflexes Since U Been Gone, but reaches the goal more effectively, even nastier, as she says “I hope the ring you gave to her/Turns her finger green/I hope when you’re in bed with her/You think of me”. After a couple of rockier cuts, Clarkson bares her emotions out with Sober, a ballad about brokenness, accompanied by strings and acoustic arrangements. Her vocal performance is just perfect and forceful. When the song reaches its crescendo she hits her higher notes, screaming from the bottom of her heart: “Three months and I’m still breathing/Three months and I still remember it/Three months and …wake up”. If you don’t feel like your heart is being squeezed by now, then you’re definitely not human. Don’t Waste Your Time may seem more cheerful in sound, but carries the same grievances of former tracks, tasted in verses like “You held me/You felt me/You left me/But it’s over/You touched me/You had me/But it’s over, my friend/Don’t waste my time”. She emulates Evanescence’s theatricality on Haunted, a rock number about loneliness, despair and self-indulgence. Be Still happens to be one of the utmost songs off December. The slow romantic ballad is tender and passionate in lyrics and gorgeous sonically, even sparkling optimism when the singer whines “I’ll gladly climb your walls if you meet me halfway/(…) Be still, let it go”. But the pearl we found out is Maybe, where she concentrates all her complaints, grief, sorrow and anger to a countrysh arrangement. “I’m confusing as hell” she confesses, only to redeem herself by stating the one thing she knows is that she “wasn’t meant to walk this world without you”. It’s not self pity; it’s her consciousness speaking through her heart. How I Feel and Can I Have a Kiss close the album with decency and leave the listener with eager for more. My December did not make up to her previous albums’ sales, but I’m pretty sure Clarkson did the right thing by declining executives’ assaults. Here she sounded genuine, and did produce one of the best records of the late 2000’s, so far away from the superficiality and one-dimensional of Breakaway. She set her own artistry, and for that, we thank her.


1.       Maybe
2.       Sober
3.       Be Still

Sea Change, by Beck (Geffen, 2002) 

Beck broke through the music scene with hit single Loser, from his 1994 debut Mellow Gold. After two upbeat, loose - and nonsense, I dare say – releases, he found inspiration, refinement and relentlessness within his divorce. Beck dropped off all of the paraphernalia, messy flamboyant production of his earlier endeavors and grabbed to his father’s amazing strings conducting skills (he’s born to David Campbell, famous orchestrator, whose work comprises Evanescence’s Fallen, The Open Door and forthcoming release, some Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Mariah Carey and Alanis Morissette songs). Sea Change is the type of record for you to hear at a gloomy, lazy, rainy afternoon to get its emotion in full. Beck recreated himself with this album, his songs finally sound strong enough to stand on their own, and all of them cohesive, solid and whole. Guess I’m Doing Fine carries some grunge feeling, intensified by Beck’s laziness singing, “It’s only lies that I’m living/It’s only tears that I’m crying/It’s only you that I’m losing” he whines. Lonesome Tears is superb, indisputably the greatest song he has ever written. In a very weeping voice he sings: “Lonesome tears/I can’t cry them anymore/I can’t think of what they’re for/And they ruin me every time/ (…) I don’t need them anymore”. The strings arrangement in it is unsurpassed by any other, lifting up the chorus, heightening its melancholic lyrics and atmosphere; hypnotizing the listener, mainly at the end section of the track. The singer mocks himself and his wrecked marriage in Lost Cause, “Baby I’ve lost cause” he declares around acoustic guitars and glockenspiels. But it’s in the dirge that Beck’s spark shines more brightly, like on All In Your Mind and Round The Bend, the latter ending up to be the darkest song of the album. His singing unites so much with the sound that it’s hard to comprehend the words he is spelling, giving even more charm to an already luring cut. Already Dead is another standout: only Beck, acoustic strings and a very subtle drum. “Already dead to me now/Cause it feels like I’m watching something dying” he claims while in the chorus. Things go a little less mellow in Sunday Sun, an attempt to cheer himself up, trying to find a way out of the sorrow he’s been soaked in. From beginning to end, Sea Change goes on unified and consistent, from the lyrics, through instrumentation and Beck’s own voice to the minimalist production, everything sounds tied up, right where it belongs. This record is definitely the greatest achievement of his career and ironically, an amusement for us all.


1.       Lonesome Tears
2.       Already Dead
3.       Guess I’m Doing Fine

I hope you've enjoyed the list, as much as I did while writing it.



Without You I’m Nothing, by Placebo (Virgin, 1998)

Placebo hit the world with their self-titled debut. Their sound, lyrics and imagery fucked up the audience’s mind, giving them a mixture of 70’s glam, grunge inspired guitars and the typical affectedness present in blues tunes. Two years later, they were back with a record yet to be bested by themselves: Without You I’m Nothing. It firstly greets the listener with Pure Morning’s addictive riff, processed drums and Molko’s well known gender-bending voice. It’s almost a dance floor track. Lyrics are a sort of girls’ ode, praising their uniqueness, as confidents or simply friends. Brick Shithouse contains insane guitar work, through a highly distorted vocal line. Sonically, it sounds very similar to You Don’t Care About Us, the latter a little bit softer.  “This is the generation/Meant to masturbation” declares Molko, keeping sex as his core subject. Ask for Answers is a slow number, with enough room for reflections, like the chorus: “Get through this night/There are no second chances/This time I might/To ask the sea for answers” and “Dog boy, media whore/It’s who the hell you take me for?”. Osdal’s bass at the end section is a killer, proving bassists do not have to stand under guitarists’ shadows. The title song sounds extremely heartfelt, with romantic, dark, jagged-piercing lyrics. The whole band shows synchronicity and competency, but Molko’s acid guitar and honest vocal performance makes this one the album’s anthem. Things go rockier with Allergic (To Thoughts of Mother Earth), about not giving up the fighting; and it shall raise your adrenaline up with its explosive outro. The Crawl and My Sweet Prince are both self indulgent; where hopelessness is explored till exhaustion, with ‘Prince’ dealing about a platonic, obsessive yet gentle love between boys. But don’t worry: it’s absolutely not gross or rude. Every You Every Me is their most well-known song (it was included in Cruel Intentions soundtrack) from this record – and perhaps, from their entire career - and of course, a fan favorite thanks to its pop hook and sticky lyrics. Sexual orientation hits the spotlight once again on Scared of Girls, where the vocalist numbers the reasons why he was literally afraid of hanging out with females (Although Mr. Molko came to marry years later, and is now a boy’s father). Born at the end of the decade, WYIN carries its musical history. The melancholy present in romantic ballads, grunge laziness, unsatisfying themes and aggressive guitars, and most notably: its nostalgic feel. For those who did not live it (or were just too young to remember it), these were the elements that marked those years. While listening to this record, it’s hard not to think about it (and perhaps missing it). Not that Placebo intended, anyway. Here they delivered the complete compendium of nostalgia, irremediable loneliness, sourest feelings and frailty any rock band could ever decently offer.


1.       Without You I’m Nothing
2.       Pure Morning
3.       Allergic (To Thoughts of Mother Earth)

Ultra, by Depeche Mode (Mute/Reprise, 1997)

Depeche Mode’s ninth studio album almost couldn’t see the daylight. Written solely by centerpiece member Martin L. Gore during their most turbulent moment to date, Ultra catches all grievances, anguish and negativity they’ve been through since Devotional Tour. Main arranger Alan Wilder had left due to ‘creative differences’; while singer/frontman Dave Gahan suffered continuously with his drugs issues, facing suicide attempts and outnumbered overdoses. Martin also had bad times, fighting his addiction to alcohol, and Fletcher, well, he was misplaced as usual. Recording process was painful and problematic, since Dave couldn’t even sing an entire session, forcing Gore to exercise his patience recording much of the verses separated and then pasting them together. Gore himself declared he no longer knew if another Depeche album would be possibly released, but for our luck, they survived their personal troubles and Ultra emerged out of chaos.  Barrel of a Gun sounds crispy, a maelstrom of distress and brittleness expressing what the band have been faced, like verses “This twisted tortured mess/This bed of sinfulness/Who’s looking for some rest and feeling numb?”. Romanticism enfolded by biblical references was always a subject in Martin’s songwriting, and we can taste it once more in The Love Thieves, a ballad about the dichotomy found in love, its uplifting and breakdowns. Home captures the very moment we all seek for solace, feeling a foreigner in our own body, longing for calmness that just doesn’t seem to come soon. Unmistakably the album’s brightest pearl, we can feel a bit of hesitation in Martin’s voice, like if he was exorcising his demons away, backed by amazing string orchestration and the finest guitar solo played in any DM record. Synthpop anthem It’s No Good undoubtedly was written to seduce somebody, with its sexy lyrics, dance beats, and Gahan vocal performance too. He seductively sings in a soothing voice “When will you realize?/Do we have to wait till our worlds collide?/Open up your eyes/You can’t turn back the tide”. Useless gets back sharp-tasting sensations, but stronger than before. Tough lyrics “Feeling tired and bruised/With the bitterest taste” are sung with such property – allied with heavy warped beats and sparse atmosphere – that it’ll give you creeps. Nightmare soundtrack Sister of Night comprises abstract lyrics over industrial drumming and hell of loops and synths. Martin lends his voice to The Bottom Line, a nihilistic, bucolic song that explores trivial and natural events to metaphor love’s dying, fading nature. “Like a pawn on the eternal board/Who’s never quite sure what he’s moved towards/I walk blindly on/Then heaven is in front of me/Your heaven beckons me enticingly/When I arrive it’s gone” he mourns to a subtle rhythmic guitar and delicate keys. Even if Ultra could not be up to masterpiece predecessor Songs of Faith and Devotion, it is absolutely not disappointing, plus considering the labor it took to be born. This album is such an edgy psychic travel through our overwrought thoughts and tenser feelings, making us wonder we’re constantly at the brink of a brain cataclysm. But this is what music should always do: entertain while moving us to make a change – even a little one – deep inside us.


1.       Home
2.       The Bottom Line
3.       It’s No Good

21, by Adele (XL/Columbia, 2011)

Ok, so if you don’t know who’s this chick yet I guess you could only be in comatose state or sort of kind. She’s got the best selling album of the year and her voice’s been heard all over the world. Adele’s second record lies under Rick Rubin’s producing, known for maintaining artists’ musical identity, keeping them loyal to their roots and sound (Shakira’s Orals and SOAD’s Mesmerize & Hypnotize are fair examples). Starting on with Rolling in the Deep, a fiery face off where the singer states her dissatisfaction over her boyfriend. Its acoustic intro is only broken by Adele’s explosive crashing voice: “The scars of your love remind me of us/They keep me thinking that we almost had it all” she throws off, right before the catchy chorus kick in. Discontentment permeates the whole album, with Adele discussing about how displeasured she felt when left behind. Rumor Has It, produced by hit maker Ryan Tedder (Apologize, Bleeding Love, Already Gone) rips off Fiona Apple’s Fast As You Can, and offers the most upbeat song on 21. Tedder also co-wrote Turning Tables, a piano & strings ballad that will bring out tears, trust it. Adele steps into R&B territory on He Won’t Go, an amusing cut with funky bass and fine production. The singer even risks a little bit more with a worthy cover of Cure’s most worshipped song ever: Lovesong. But Cure fans, do not fear! She’s up to the challenge and delivers at least decent chill-out redemption. Despite sounding too underproduced and sometimes as a collection of b-sides, 21 deserves its success, because it is rooted upon Adele’s overwhelming magnificent vocals, the best thing here. Tracks like One and Only are enough compelling to make you forget about her lack of songwriting skills and the aforementioned plenty of stripped down stuff. Here she matches perfectly her voice, instrumentation, production and lyrics. She ought to have written a dozen more songs like that one. And there is, of course, final track Someone Like You; already an anthem of broken relationships, and that’s exactly what we seek in here, right?


1.       Rolling in the Deep
2.       Turning Tables
3.       One And Only

More to come...

quinta-feira, 9 de junho de 2011


So Valentine’s Day is coming! (Of course it has only meaning if you’re dating, married, or have someone to rely on AND live in Brazil by the time). As you all may notice, unfortunately I’m single (EVERYBODY CRY), but that doesn’t mean I won’t celebrate such an important date. I’ll celebrate it, on my own way. And I decided to share with you guys, giving you my TEN ALBUNS ABOUT BREAK-UPS THAT’LL BLOW YOUR HEART TO PIECES. (C’mon, that title is so damn cool xD) well, to the works:

 Boys for Pele, by Tori Amos (Atlantic, 1996)

This is, for me, the final album about consumed relationships. BFP is a masterpiece, the most alternative, and obscure, intricate and inscrutable Tori record. She takes us into a melodic trip through her Böse, a magnificent harpsichord and a lot of organs, all beautifully played, as expected from her. Starting off with Beauty Queen/Horses, the tone of the record is set. Cryptic lyrics, crystalline, heavenly vocals and a lot of mournful ballads. I can pick out Putting the Damage On as a favorite, there’s no way anyone cannot demonstrate empathy while listening her practically whispering: “I’m trying not to move/it’s just your ghost passing through” all of it accompanied by a brass quartet. In Caught a Lite Sneeze (heart of the album), the programmed drum gives it a swaying rhythm while Tori pours out her heart screaming her disappointments onwards her lover, once their love was pretty much smaller than she imagined it was. Here is that kind of moment when we finally wake up from our personal nightmare and realize all is gone. Hey Jupiter is another highlight, only T and her Böse, (and a subtle organ) left. Her desperate is so compelling that she starts wondering if her love interest’s refusal is caused by some misuse of sexuality. But this album is not only built upon grief; cuts like Mr. Zebra, Professional Widow and Talula provide funny times. Away from bad romances also stand Father Lucifer (about having a tea with the Devil himself), Blood Roses (a fierce, raw, almost militant women empowerment subject) and Marianne, about a school friend of hers who prematurely died. I know Tori isn’t easy at first, mainly her odd (I rather say unusual) words and metaphors, but just give in to her musician skills, she crafted a baroque, gospel oriented, hymn-like sonic atmosphere that matches perfectly with the theme.  If your heart is broken and you want to go all the way down in your own pit of misery, you must definitely get this record!


1.       Putting the Damage On
2.       Caught A Lite Sneeze
3.       Hey Jupiter

When the Pawn Hits…, by Fiona Apple  (Epic/Work Records, 1999)

Fiona came more ferocious on her sophomore effort. There are few traces of that naïve girl who was just stepping into adulthood we found back in Tidal. A ninety word title album (google it for whole thing) could only bear lots of turmoil feelings, and we can find plenty of them here. Opener On the Bound has a tumbling piano, a subtle drum and quirky sounds wrapping the reflections of a woman left in bittersweet, (surely) still in love and not wanting it to end, as she still demonstrates hopes to be with her loved one again, proved in lyrics like “Baby, lay your head on my lap one more time/Tell me you belong to me” and later, with a very ululating voice: “You’re all I need”. Incredibly tender. The torment goes on with To Your Love, where she regurgitates a “train of thoughts” she couldn’t let to (and more importantly – WANTED TO) spit right in the face of the one who stepped on her. On Limp, she states: “You feed the beast I have within me (…)/You find my trigger and then you blame my gun”; another example of how rabid (yet truly) we can get when brokenhearted. But she’s not a full throttled machinegun all the time, she shows good mood on Paper Bag, a tale in waltz tempo about how mistaken she was in put so much over her boyfriend. Fast As You Can is a winner, with its freaky drum (courtesy of always talented Matt Chamberlain) assisting her convulsive vocals. In it she’s more than dangerous, she’s like an atomic bomb ready to explode off the unlucky guy: “Fast as you can baby/Run, free yourself of me” she advises. In the middle section, the whole song stops and we gain the most brilliant, creative, passionate moment from Apple’s repertoire: she opens her heart, leaving her fury behind only to claim “a little because”, for being “tired of whys, choking on whys”; in center of flutes, strings and a beautiful piano played (again) as a waltz. But don’t think Fiona wasted her last shot; cause in the final cuts there’s still room for questioning the reasons why romances spoil. Get Gone is a haunting jazzy ballad, where the fragility of feminine is high lightened. She’s not sweet here, nevertheless she declares she knows her past wrongdoings but cannot go on like that anymore, she’s exhausted, and begs him to leave because no bounds ties the couple no more. The album closes with I Know, a very simple song, sonically; about how two people can grow bitterer in a relationship. She decides to move on, carrying all his faults, until all is finally said and done. When the Pawn Hits… is a must listen, not only to be a soundtrack for ended affairs, but mostly because of its high quality. Great lyrics, fine instrumentation and production, inspiring, emotive vocals and well crafted songwriting make this record a marvelous work of art.


1.       Fast As You Can
2.       Get Gone
3.       On the Bound

           Homogenic, by Björk (One Little Indian, 1997)

Without any doubts, Homogenic (erroneously named by Björk by lack of attention, the correct word would be ‘homogeneous’) was the recording that tracked Björk’s career, and clearly, it is her masterpiece. The majority of elements that define her musical identity were set here. Concerning the title, she wanted to express the sensation that these songs are similar in sound, so they seemed to be only one - that’s why the name. Born after a split, the album embodies eager, rage, grief, pain, and love, a lot o love – most of the times, a dying love. Hunter kicks off our trip with flamenco strings alongside military drums backgrounding Björk’s longing to search out new heights. Unravel is a key-ballad that shall melt you heart down the first time you hear it. She says the devil malevolently collected her love and unraveled it like a ball of yarn, so a new love has to be made. Standout Bachelorette is by far one of her bests ever, with theatrical, dramatic, over the top lyrics and instrumentation as well. The song is a lifestory in itself, so poetic, gorgeous, and best translated in the verses: “I’m a path of cinders/burning under your feet/you’re the one who walks me/I’m your one way street”. Darkness comes forth with All Neon Like, with its mysterious intro, soon to be hit by electronic beats and distorted noises, characteristic of the whole album. 5 Years shows off honesty, with the Icelandic singer crying out: “I dare you to take me on/I dare you to show me your palms” and mixes perfectly the main motifs present throughout the songs: the orchestration brilliantly conducted (and sometimes arranged) by Brazilian Eumir Deoadato and hyperproduced beats and drums programmed by LFO’s Mark Bell (who later would become her main and constant collaborator). These so opposite elements go to the next level in Plúto, a psytrance arena stomper, where Björk finds catharsis screaming her lungs out while the very heavy beats engulfs her, blowing all the pain away. I cannot help to mention two songs that do not flirt – at least directly – with suffering: Jóga, written for a close friend of hers, holds amazing strings and volcanic-like beats with moving lyrics; and the final track, fan favorite All is Full of Love, famous by its futuristic and conceptual video (constantly in exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City). If Heaven has a soundtrack, it must definitely be this song. After all she’s been through; Björk is still capable of filling us up with hope! Her vocals are angelical yet brave, the sound soft yet solid, the lyrics are clean but very, very meaningful. In the end, Homogenic leaves the listener astonished, stunned with the landscapes Björk and her team offered, demonstrating that despite our apparent simplicity found at surface, we all are much complex in essence. 


1. All is Full of Love
2. Jóga
3. Bachelorette

To be continued...