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Bebel Gilberto – Tanto Tempo (2000)

south-americaSuper Awesome South America logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in South America Artist #1: Astrud Gilberto
Made in South America Artist #2: Bebel Gilberto

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[Album 473/1001]

My esteemed colleague, that illustrious Glaswegian HMO, introduced me to an interesting theory recently: if an artist is trying to ‘hide’ a weak track, it will likely be placed as the penultimate track in the running order.

The idea being, if a sub-par track is buried in this second-from-last position, any song shortcomings are more likely to be forgiven than if the track were placed more prominently elsewhere.

As the second-from-last position could be considered a burial site for such filler, it is unceremoniously referred to as the Boneyard.

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Well, on Tanto Tempo, Samba e Amor finds itself in the aforementioned boneyard position.

And if Samba e Amor is a ‘boneyard’ track, sign me up for, (to borrow an Alice in Chains line) a big ole pile of them bones!

Beyond this track, the rest of the record is also worthy of acknowledgement. Perhaps predictably, the rhythms are delightful throughout. Bebel’s lower vocal register, perhaps in an equitably predictable manner, is never less than music to my ears.

She’s equally effective regardless of the tempo, whether it’s fast & fun (Bananeira) or slow & smooth (Samba e Amor).

The latter, as you’ll see in the video, is a lovely tune, with the sparsest of arrangements: one vocal + one acoustic guitar. One of my core beliefs is that the best bebel_gilberto_-_tanto_temposongs still work in that minimalist structure; that Samba e Amor’s impact might be lessened by adding more layers only confirms its existing strength.

So while I think the ‘Boneyard’ theory has all kinds of merit, Tanto Tempo will have to be filed under the “exceptions to the rule” fine print.

Also, through my exceptionally limited Portuguese vocabulary, I’ve been able to deduce that Samba = Samba, e = and, and Amor = Love.

And while my exposure to this exceptional genre is almost as limited, I’m quickly learning that I love, or should I say amo, Samba.

Astrud Gilberto – Beach Samba (1967)

south-americaSuper Awesome South America logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in South America Artist #1: Astrud Gilberto

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[Album 472/1001]

Pandering: A speaker telling the people what they want to hear, even if it’s not what the speaker actually believes or represents.

With a meticulously packaged message that’s guaranteed to please, the audience can’t help but nod along approvingly.

Exhibit A: Community Season 2, Episode 17. How to win a student council election.

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Exhibit B: Bo Burnham’s Country Song. How to appeal to a modern, stadium country fan.

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Exhibit C: Astrud Gilberto’s Beach Samba?

When listening to this album, I can’t help but feel suspicious that I’m being pandered to.

It contains so many things that gain my instant and irreversible approval.

Take the first 20 seconds or so of the opener Stay:

– The bossa nova groove

– The warbling flute

– The syncopated acoustic guitar chords

– The lovely low vocal, offset by some tasty vibraphone

I was sold before she even launched into the sales pitch!

And I blissfully nodded along the rest of the way.220px-beach_samba

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Beach Samba is probably an entirely ‘authentic’ recording, without an ounce of artistic integrity sacrificed in pursuit of widespread approval.

However, in the event I’m on the receiving end of some pandering, the stakes are pretty low: there’s a chance this review won’t play a major role in any upcoming elections/world-altering events.

So if this Astrud Gilberto album was indeed a carefully constructed package, tailor-made for listeners in my demographic 5 decades after its initial release, I say pander away Astrud, I’m all ears!

To South America & Beyond!

south-america
Super Awesome South America logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Next up on this year’s world tour: the musical continent of South America.

Next on my to-do list: write album reviews for at least two artists with the surname Gilberto.

Next on your to-do list: in the comments below, please tell the splendid Sarca that her new logo is yet another exemplary creation!

 

Nordic Countries: Hockey Players & Essential Albums

NordicCountriestunes
Nifty Nordic Logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey begins today.

4 of the 5 Nordic Countries will be represented, with Sweden & Finland icing full teams, and 4 Danes & 1 Norwegian player suiting up for Team Europe.

As an avid hockey & music fan, not to mention being a statistical enthusiast, inevitably I got to thinking: is there any sort of statistical correlation between hockey & music ability?

The results of my intensive/hastily assembled research are below.

Thank you to the Nordic Countries for all the music/hockey/statistics, I’ll be off to a new destination next week, enjoy!

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Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (1999)

NordicCountriestunesNifty Nordic logo by Sarca @ Caughtmegaming

Nordic Artist #1: Björk
Nordic Artist #2: ABBA
Nordic Artist #3: Röyksopp
Nordic Artist #4: The Sugarcubes
Nordic Artist #5: Hanoi Rocks
Nordic Artist #6: Sigur Rós

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[Album 471/1001]

Friends,

It is my great pleasure to award the Nordic County of Iceland the distinguished title of Most 1001 Albums per Capita!

In 2005, my book’s publication year, with a population of about 300,000 people, Iceland contributed 5(!) albums to the 1001 list.

That works out to an average of 1 album per 60,000 people (conveniently ignoring that Björk was involved in 4 of the albums).

To put that (misleading but narrative-friendly) stat in perspective, in that same year, The United States had a population of approximately 300,000,000 people. Even if the U.S. somehow contributed about half the albums on the list, that would be an average of 1 album per 600,000 people, 10 times the ratio for Iceland.

Til hamingju Iceland, your well-earned certificate is below.

Iceland

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The only non-Björk affiliated Iceland entry belongs to Sigur Rós.220px-ÁgætisByrjunCover

When I listened at home, it didn’t resonate. Setting aside 72 summer minutes for uninterrupted ambiance was trickier than expected.

However, in the background while getting prepped for the semester at school this morning, Ágætis byrjun worked considerably better.

Fittingly, the album name translates to “a good beginning.”

I’m beginning to see this is a good album, in the right listening context.

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Today’s 200 words were part of the #200wordchallenge,
happening all this week over at mikeladano.com!

200-word

Hanoi Rocks – Back to Mystery City (1983)

NordicCountriestunesNifty Nordic logo by Sarca @ Caughtmegaming

Nordic Artist #1: Björk
Nordic Artist #2: ABBA
Nordic Artist #3: Röyksopp
Nordic Artist #4: The Sugarcubes
Nordic Artist #5: Hanoi Rocks

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[Album 470/1001]

If there hadn’t been Hanoi Rocks, would there have been Guns n’ Roses?

But, if I hadn’t been into Guns n’ Roses, would I have dug Hanoi Rocks?220px-Back_To_Mystery_City

For me, the two acts are (un)fairly linked, as Michael Monroe’s guest harmonica part and GNR’s Bad Obsession are simply inextricable. On Back to Mystery City, Monroe is credited with lead vocals, saxophone, and harmonica. Incidentally, vocalist, saxophonist, harmonicist, that’s a triple threat!

Which is not to say that GNR is entirely derivative, nor Hanoi merely an influential footnote for a more important act.

It is to say however, if you’re going to be your country’s lone representative on the 1001 list, you might as well pull a Hanoi Rocks; make it memorable & represent your nation with style, even if the high-volume rawk & higher-volume hair likely isn’t entirely representative of the Nordic Country (Finland) from whence it came!

Despite the indisputably ‘of its time’ cover fashion, the ten tunes hold up nicely. Well, more sleazily & rocking than nice, but undoubtedly durable.

Most importantly, if this is their only album I “must hear” (according to some book?), I’ll be happy to “recreationally hear” much more Hanoi Rocks before the end.

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Today’s 200 words were part of the #200wordchallenge,
happening all this week over at mikeladano.com!

200-word

The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good (1988)

NordicCountriestunesNifty Nordic logo by Sarca @ Caughtmegaming

Nordic Artist #1: Björk
Nordic Artist #2: ABBA
Nordic Artist #3: Röyksopp
Nordic Artist #4: The Sugarcubes

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[Album 469/1001]220px-The_Sugarcubes_-_Life's_Too_Good

Question: What do A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, Air’s The Virgin Suicides, and The Sugarcubes’s Life’s Too Good have in common?

Answer: Each had the misfortune of being the album review immediately following a childhood-favourite catalogue re-immersion (weezer, Gin Blossoms, and The Hip respectively).

While none of the three albums in question earned anything resembling a negative review from yours truly, I can’t help wondering how they’d fare if I’d heard these albums in a different context.

But life’s far too short (and far too good, for that matter) to dwell on such impossibilities.

Instead, it’s great that what have been new discoveries for me are likely childhood favourites for countless others.

And while I won’t be able to muster much more than pleasant platitudes for the above trio, because these records mean so much more than that to so much more of the world, I’m not sure it really matters.

Is Life’s Too Good worth hearing? If you ask me, sure, I’d say so.

If you ask someone whose childhood revolved around this record?

I’d imagine they’d say life wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good without it.

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Today’s 193 words were part of the #200wordchallenge,
happening all this week over at mikeladano.com!

200-word