I Mother Earth – Dig

I, Mother Earth - Dig

I Mother EarthDig is the debut album by the multi-platinum Canadian alt-rock outfit known as I Mother Earth. According to Wikipedia, the album is “noted for its metallic sound, balanced with psychedelic-style lyrics and instrumentals, and further backed by Latin percussion.” Dunno about you, but that sounds like a shitmix I can certainly get behind.
I’ve never actually listened to Dig, so I don’t really know what to expect, but I’ll tell you this much; their sophomore album Scenery and Fish was listed high among my favourite albums as a kid, and more than any other album in that (pretty short) list, I still never get tired of it. But the truth is, I really don’t think I can consider myself a true I Mother Earth fan until I give Dig a serious listen.
So, friends… am I setting Dig up to fall short of the expectations cast by IME’s sophomoric release? Will Dig blow my mind? How many more times am I gonna say Dig? I guess you’ll have to tune in to our review at the end of the month to find out!
Alain Dupuis
Links
Album Link on iTunes
Album Link on Amazon
I Mother Earth’s website
I Mother Earth on Twitter
I Mother Earth Wikipedia
Dig Wikipedia page
Other Albums Considered this Month
Alanis Morisette – Jagged Little Pill
Our Lady Peace – Naveed
Snow – 12 Inches of Snow

David Bowie: David Bowie (aka Space Oddity)

Space Oddity

Last month, the world was sad to learn that another legend had recently passed away, and I would be remiss not to celebrate his work in this month’s pick. The man, the myth, the legend: David Bowie.

 

Born in 1947 as David Robert Jones, Bowie’s career spanned over five decades. He was constantly innovating, pushing the boundaries of music, visual presentation, and stagecraft. He never had a problem challenging social norms and stirring up controversy. His music and performances helped influence the shape of popular music, and arguably his most impactful work was done during the 1970s.

 

So then, let’s celebrate David Bowie with what critics have called his first “proper” album, David Bowie (aka Space Oddity) released in 1969. Most people are no doubt familiar with the first track, Space Oddity, but I don’t think everyone has been fully immersed in the album – I certainly haven’t, which is why I’m particularly excited for this pick.

 

Rest in peace, David.
Say hi to Lemmy for us if you happen to bump into him.


Links

 
Other Albums Considered

  • Naveed – Our Lady Peace
  • Scenery and Fish – I, Mother Earth
  • Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morisette

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine

Nine Inch Nails is not so much a band as it is one man’s musical sandbox. That man is Trent Reznor, and even if you’ve never heard of him before, chances are you’ve probably heard some of the music he’s produced over his prolific career, either through movies or video games. But long before Reznor was an award-winning producer, he was a janitor…

Photo by Kevin Westenberg
Photo by Kevin Westenberg

Working nights as a handyman and janitor at the Right Track Studio in Cleveland, Ohio, Reznor took advantage of his down time and access to equipment to record and develop his own music. Playing most of the keyboards, drum machines, guitars, and samplers himself, he recorded a demo and began to shop it around to various record labels. Eventually settling on the name “Nine Inch Nails”, he scored a deal with TVT, a small label originally known as TeeVee Toons, whose bread and butter was releasing novelty and television jingle records.
Thanks to his new recording contract, Reznor got the opportunity to work with a number of producers he idolized, and thus Pretty Hate Machine was born. Much like the demo he cut, Reznor refused to record with a conventional band, preferring to record by himself.
On October 20th, 1989, Nine Inch Nails released Pretty Hate Machine to commercial success, and mixed critical reception. It was the starting point of a long, storied career for Trent Reznor, and it’s the album we’re reviewing this month.
Listen to Pretty Hate Machine on Rdio

Useful links
Wikipedia – Pretty Hate Machine
Wikipedia – Trent Reznor


Other albums under consideration for this month’s review:

  • Alanis Morisette – Jagged Little Pill
  • New Kids on the Block – Step By Step
  • Rage Against The Machine – Rage Agaist The Machine

Dr. Dre: The Chronic

Dr. Dre: The Chronic

If you’re a die-hard Sonic Collective fan, then aside from almost certainly being handsome and successful, you’re likely a keen observer too. No doubt then, you would have noticed that last month Scott did something new with his pick by offering a list of some of the other albums he was considering before he settled on Cheap Trick. (This is a great idea, and one that I’ll be shamelessly stealing.) One of the albums he listed, NWA: Straight Outta Compton, happens to be one of my favourites and brought to mind the trademark production styles of early West-Coast rap made famous by none other than Dr. Dre. I decided that I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Dre’s debut studio album, The Chronic.
DrDreCorbisDre is widely regarded as the father of the “G-Funk” sound that characterized and influenced hip hop artists throughout the 90s as Rap became more mainstream. According to the near-omnicient Wikipedia, G-funk makes use of Funk samples layered with melodic synths, deep bass, and high-pitched portamento saw-wave synths. The sound is rounded out by a slow tempo, female backing vocals, and a relaxed, almost slurred style of rapping. Dr Dre generally uses live musicians in the studio to reproduce the original music of the samples he chose, which gives his music a much more characteristically “Dr. Dre” sound.
Despite the fact that The Chronic’s sound is quite dated by today’s hip hop standards, when you hear it, you can’t help but think back to an era where Rap was just starting to become mainstream, and brought some of the struggles facing inner-city youth to light for the first time. It was not without its controversy, and some of the songs are quite politicized, which to my mind, makes it historically significant compared to other rap albums of the era that just never bothered to go there.
Kanye West once said stated: “The Chronic is still the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. It’s the benchmark you measure your album against if you’re serious.” Pretty high praise, to be sure.
I’m still eagerly waiting for Dr. Dre to put out Detox, but presently he seems content going to the gym, developing headphones, working on a feature-length NWA biopic, and counting his billions (yep, billions) of dollars.
In the meantime then, let’s revisit his debut album, The Chronic.
FYI: The Chronic is difficult to find online for purchase to copyright lawsuits.
Read: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 
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Other albums I considered this month:
Tool: Undertow
Between the Buried and Me:  Between The Buried and Me
• The Prodigy: Fat of the Land

What the hell happened to music videos?

If you’re like me, you look back fondly on the days when TV channels like Much Music and  MTV actually played music and wonder what the hell happened. Where’d the music go? Why are there Oompa Loompas from Jersey on my TV set instead of Headbanger’s Ball? And what the f*** is a “Snooki”?

Look no further than this satirical video to provide you with some spectacular insight into what happened to the music.

Now you know. (And knowing is half the battle).

Kraftwerk: Autobahn

Lately I’ve found myself captivated by the kind of music that can be produced through the digital medium. Of course, I’m talking about electronic music. With computing technology advancing so quickly, a new wave of artists such as Skrillex, Deadmau5, and Diplo have emerged with practically nothing more than some consumer-level laptops, software, and a unique sound to become chart-topping producers and artists. Not to detract from their talents and mainstream accomplishments, but these guys aren’t the true pioneers of electronic music. I wanted to explore the roots of this genre and see where the world of EDM owes its biggest debt of gratitude.

Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Kraftwerk – Autobahn

In the early 1970s, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider met as college students, both of whom were enrolled in a music school in Düsseldorf. They had previously played together in a number of bands and were active members of the “Krautrock” music scene. The duo began to make experimental recordings, working with a variety of other musicians, using traditional instruments like guitars, drums, basses, and uh, flutes … all of which were electronically processed to produce different effects. With each experimental release, the group now called Kraftwerk, began to incorporate more electronic equipment such as synthesizers and drum machines into their recording sessions. By 1974, Kraftwerk had reached international acclaim following the release of their fourth album, Autobahn. Though not purely an electronic album, Autobahn made significant use of Moog Synthesizers,  drum machines, and various custom-built contraptions.
Synthesizers and drum machines were around before Kraftwerk came onto the scene, but most “proper” musicians at the time regarded them as nothing more than electronic curiosities. Kraftwerk managed to incorporate this electronic audio equipment into their flavour of music in a way that had never been done before, and their influence can still be felt today.
Just a small selection of notable musicians directly influenced by Kraftwerk:

  • David Bowie
  • Joy Division
  • Bjork
  • Depeche Mode
  • The Human League

According to NME, Kraftwerk’s electronic pop sensibilities even contributed to the creation of groups like Daft Punk and The Prodigy.
There we have it. Give Kraftwerk’s Autobahn a shot. See if you can imagine how this sound would ultimately go on to influence a lot of the stuff you hear on popular radio.
– Alain Dupuis
Click here to read our reviews of Autobahn. 
Links

Buy Autobahn on iTunes
Kraftwerk’s Wikipedia page
Autobahn’s Wikipedia page
Kraftwerk’s official website
Kling Klang app by Kraftwerk