SAM & FUZZY, by Sam Logan (updates M/W/F)

Rest of Your Life, Pt. 8

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Jan 19, 2005

I can not fly an airplane

So, here I am, continuing the list of favourite 2004 albums that I began on Monday.

The Pillows - Good Dreams:

This Japanese rock band has experimented with a lot of other styles of music over the course of their careers, from jazz to lounge music to arena rock to thrashy punk to synth-laden pop. And in all honesty, most of these experiments have ended very, very badly. But forget all about the Pillows' disappointing attempts to expand their sound. This album is all about what the band does best: punchy pop-rock with catchy tunes and killer guitar riffs. And holy crap, it is actually getting an honest-to-god North American release in May of this year! This is a huge first for the band.

Highlights: XAVIER, Walking on the Spiral, Good Dreams.

The Futureheads - The Futureheads:

Imagine a nearly-shouting British barbershop quartet backed by some very loud, spastic guitar parts and you sort of have this album. The first time I heard it, I thought it was irritating as hell. But subsequent listens slowly changed my mind, to the point where I now think it's one of the best albums of the year. It's jarring at first, but the music is so creative and so bloody catchy that it's hard to stay mad.

Highlights: She Knows, Meantime, Robot.

AC Newman - The Slow Wonder:

AC Newman (of the New Pornographers) knows how to put together one hell of a power pop album. He and his touring band also know how to put on a kick ass live show... it was easily the best one that I saw in 2004. My lone beef with this mini-masterpiece of songwriting is the treble-heavy mixing that makes the whole album sound just a smidge too tinny to me. The Pornographers albums are the same way, so I guess it is intentional.

Highlights: Miracle Drug, Most of us Prizefighters, The Town Halo.

Slipknot - Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses:

Oh, Slipknot. Way too heavy for the nu metal kids, way too pop for the metal fans, these guys have still built up a huge middle-ground fanbase of angry, indignant, defensive fans used to being attacked from either side. And quite frankly, they had a lot to be defensive about, because Slipknot's early music was mostly pretty awful. But this, the band's third album, is unequivocally great. The musicianship is so much tighter, and the music so much more varied, that it practically sounds like a different group. Mind you, if you hate the genre, this album won't change your mind. But if you can enjoy metal-rock hybrids like "Reinventing the Steel"-era Pantera without thinking it is "too pop," or listen to a NIN CD without being too frustrated by the over-the-top angsty lyrics, then you can and probably will enjoy this CD. Scout's honour.

Highlights: Vermillion, The Blister Exists, Opium of the People.

(Also, Circle, if only for the sheer novelty of an accoustic ballad performed by Slipknot.)

Three more to go... and go they will, on Friday.

Sam Logan

Jan 17, 2005

Creep from the cradle

A few folks on the new IRC channel asked me why I still haven't posted my ten favourite albums of 2004. I didn't mean to break the promise I made back in July. But while there were plenty of good albums last year, none of them really, you know, changed my life. Nothing realigned the planets. Nothing jumped out to me as "Best of the Year."

So, while I have picked out favourite albums of the year, I won't be ranking them. I tried, but it just seemed silly. They're all great in their own ways, and they all made my year more awesome and pleasant sounding.

Medeski, Martin and Wood - End of the World Party (Just in Case):

Over a decade into their careers, this keyboard driven trio has fused so many different styles of music into their original jazz trio core that I don't even know what to call it anymore. Rock, funk, hip hop, fusion, electronica, trance, jazz... all deftly executed with rock solid musical chops and 8 million different kinds of keyboards.

Highlights: Sasa, New Planet, Mami Gato.

William Shatner - Has Been:

How the heck does an album like this even work, let alone work so well? Is it Shatner's surprisingly reigned-in, subtle delivery? His sometimes clever, sometimes compelling lyrics? Maybe it's producer Ben Folds' ability to craft those lyrics into pop gems that get full milleage out of Shatner's unique sound. The bevy of contributing musicians are all in top form, as well. It all comes together into something great... uh... somehow.

Highlights: That's Me Trying, Ideal Woman, I Can't Get Behind That.

Cake - Pressure Chief:

On this album, Cake takes a second stab at mixing their lo-fi guitar rock style with layers of synths, and the results are miles ahead of the disasterous Comfort Eagle. These guys are masters at crafting simple, catchy pop-rock songs, and this disc contains some of the best they have ever recorded.

Highlights: Wheels, No Phone, Take it All Away.

More on Wednesday. See you then!

Sam Logan

Jan 14, 2005

The bang never came and I never got the call

The Sam and Fuzzy IRC channel has proven to be a hit... at least with a small but dedicated group of people who like to talk about a certain horse. I don't even need to say the trademark line about said horse... just pop onto the channel (join #samandfuzzy on with your IRC app of choice or by using the java version). Trust me, people there will know what to say after hearing "a horse."

I've been meaning to link to Niego for ages. And so... I will! It's a great comic with a very distinctive (and awesome) black and white art style. And today's rather savage parody of PvP is particularly amusing. Even a big PvP fan like myself can't help but chuckle at this one, and that is always a good sign.

Sam Logan