Celine Dion: Falling Into You

Celine Dion - Falling Into You

Alain Dupuis, October 2019

This is not a joke.
We are absolutely listening to Celine Dion this month.

I’ve been threatening everyone with this for a while, and now, as the leaves turn yellow and the cold October air brings with it the looming threat of another Canadian winter, the time has come!

I fully expect this to be a polarizing one, but those are some of the most enjoyable and interesting episodes of The Sonic Collective, as far as I’m concerned. So strap in, bucko. We’ve got ourselves a damn album to review!

Back in 1996, Celine Dion released Falling Into You, an album which eventually came to sell 32 million copies. Let that sink in. THIRTY-TWO MILLION COPIES. It’s one of the best-selling albums of all time, so how could we not review it at some point? I won’t even mention all the awards Dion managed to take home as a result of this album. Needless to say, regardless of our personal feelings now or at the end of the month when it’s review time, history suggests that people seemed to really appreciate the music of Celine Dion in the 90s.

Indeed, Falling Into You is a heavy-hitter that received a lot of radio and television play thanks in no small part to singles like It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, Because You Loved Me, and of course the title-track, Falling Into You.  The album also contains a number of notable covers.

What I find particularly interesting is that despite the incredibly impressive sales-figures and innumerable radio-plays, this was a critically mixed album. Billboard, AllMusic, and Entertainment Weekly gave it positive reviews, while the LA Times and Rolling Stone Album Guide gave it very unfavourable reviews. It makes me wonder what the Sonic Collective’s final consensus is going to be. Tune in at the end of the month to see for yourself. And better yet, join us along for the ride!  Listen to the album then let us know what you think in the comments, or on Facebook, or Twitter, or SoundCloud.  Good pick? Bad pick? We wanna hear from you!

That’s it… we’re finally doing this, fellas! Grab yourselves a pumpkin-spiced latte, because autumn has arrived, it’s my turn to pick, and the only thing that can warm my icy-cold heart is some mid-90s power ballads from the queen of Can-Con, Celine Dion.

Marilyn Manson: Mechanical Animals

Marilyn Manson: Mechanical Animals
Alain DuPuis, June 2019

Marilyn Manson is a band that has long been misunderstood, and largely by design. I will never forget when Antichrist Superstar came out in the mid 90’s and caused a minor moral panic. Who was this weirdo group fronted by an angry, satanic, cat-murdering, rib-removing maniac musician?! Even my parents knew who Marilyn Manson was. The clever marketing almost backfired when the band ended up being disallowed from playing shows in certain cities. I never admitted as much to my rather conservative religious parents, but I LOVED that shit. It’s been years since I visited any Marilyn Manson content, so I figured it was time to dust off the old CD player.

Now, on to the review. Mechanical Animals came out in 1998, the third release for the group. On the cover of the album, an androgenous nude(?) Marilyn Manson (real name Brian Warner) stood there like some weird alien. Did that generate a lot of hype? Yep, you bet it did. It also reinforced the notion that he is a brilliant frontman, willing to deliver his vocals flamboyantly, and unafraid.

Mechanical Animals debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, the group’s first album to do so, which meant like it or not, they were a band you had to take seriously.

I chose this album because I think it will probably serve as a good entry point for people who only know of the negative press and the hype. This album came with a number of great singles such as Dope Show, and Rock is Dead, but there are songs that never hit the radio that I think are worthy of a listen.

Check back in a month to see what the other guys thought of Mechanical Animals, and dont forget to leave us a comment, a Tweet, a like on Facebook. Hell, we even reply to emails.

Mechanical Animals Wiki

Mechanical Animals on iTunes

Mechanical Animals on Spotify

Fun fact:

Mechanical Animals is the middle of three concept albums that take the listener on a journey through the mind of “The Worm”, the main protagonist in the plot line, and a semi-autobiographical representation of Manson himself. He is a flawed and tragic anti-hero and self-realized sage that tries to save the world only to find the world doesn’t want to be saved. This consumes him with rage and disgust and transforms him into the destructive and oppressive Antichrist Superstar. The weird thing about this concept is that it’s meant to be played in reverse order, starting with the 1999 album Holy Wood and ending with Antichrist Superstar.

Fleetwood Mac: Rumors

Rumors – Fleetwood Mac

Alain DuPuis, February, 2019
Greetings, fellow audiophiles. It’s Alain, back with another Sonic Collective pick for the month of February 2019, and I’ve been thinking about this one for a long while now.

Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, released in early 1977, is the band’s eleventh studio album. It spawned a number of singles including Go Your Own WayDreams, and Don’t Stop, several of which I’m sure you’ve heard either on the radio or out in the wild at least a few times.

What attracted me to Rumors were the rumors around the making of Rumors. See, I’ve had this longstanding theory that the best music is made when the artists are in emotional distress. Good music is rarely bred from contentment. And while Rumors was being created, nobody in the band was content…

Fleetwood Mac’s line-up at the time consisted of Lindsey Buckingham (guitars and vocals), Mick Fleetwood (drums), Christine McVie (keyboards/vocals), John McVie (bass), and Stevie Nicks (vocals). Prior to working on Rumors, things went sour between the McVies and after eight years of marriage, they called it quits, all but ceasing to communicate with each other – except to discuss musical matters. Meanwhile, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were having an on-again / off-again relationship that led them to frequent and heated fights. The duo’s arguments stopped only when they worked on songs together. Mic Fleetwood was dealing with dark times of his own, having learned that his wife, the mother of his two children, was having an affair with his best friend.  While all this was going on, the press who had picked up an interest in the band, frequently wrote false reports about both present and past members.

With rumors inescapably swirling internally between band members, as well as outside of the band thanks to shoddy journalism and a growing fan base eager for salacious news, Fleetwood Mac was faced with trying times – Rumors was the result, filled with songs deep and personal, full of angst, pain, resentment, and introspection – or so I hear.

It must be pretty good since the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry, an honour only bestowed to “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” recordings. One prominent member of the band was even cited as saying it was the most important album they ever made.

Stevie Nicks has suggested that Fleetwood Mac created the best music when in the worst shape. Lindsay Buckingham said the tensions between band members informed the recording process and led to “the whole being more than the sum of the parts”.

I haven’t given the album a listen yet, but having heard rumors of its backstory, I’ve been eagerly awaiting my turn to pick so we can dive in and see if my previously stated theory holds true – Is the best music made when the artists are at their worst?

Check back at the end of the month to hear our reviews

Eric Clapton: Unplugged


Eric Clapton – Unplugged
Alain DuPuis, July 2018
This month’s pick is Eric Clapton’s album Unplugged.
Recorded in front of a live audience in the winter of 1992 in England, Unplugged represented a stripped down version of Clapton’s music. Bluesy and soulful, the album went on to receive nine Grammy award nominations, ultimately winning six, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. Not a bad haul for one performance.
Eric Clapton was a musical giant long before he recorded Unplugged, lending his talent as a guitarist to such notable musical acts as the Yardbirds, and Cream.
Born in Surrey, England, Eric first picked up a guitar at age thirteen, but within three short years, he managed to achieve a large amount of notoriety for possessing advanced prowess with the guitar. As he continued to play around the country in a number of different musical outfits, Clapton forged a distinctive style and rapidly became one of the most talked-about guitarists in the British music scene, an accolade that would dog him – for better or worse – for decades.
Despite professional success, Clapton’s personal life has been troubled. At various times he has faced tragedies, loss, and heartache, battled depression, and fought a crippling addition to drugs and alcohol, but he has always managed to overcome – a feat he attributes to his music, stating: “I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked … I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.”
His music has undoubtedly also brought happiness and strength to millions of fans around the world.
Let’s dive in to Unplugged.
Eric Clapton – Wikipedia
Unplugged – Wikipedia
iTunes
Amazon

Alice Cooper: Love it to Death


Alice Cooper: Love it to Death
Alain DuPuis
In the late 1960s, Alice Cooper had failed to find any commercial success, despite having released 2 albums under Frank Zappa’s record label. Their sound was just too psychedelic, low-fi, and weird for most people. But that all changed in November of 1970, when with the help of Canadian producer Bob Ezrin, the band released the song, I’m Eighteen, to much acclaim. Approaching their music with a more aggressive, hard rock style, the band managed to convince Warner Brothers records that it had commercial potential to release an album, and I’m Eighteen became the first single on their third album Love it to Death, which was officially released in March of 1971.
The band’s popularity and fame only grew from there thanks to their reputation for putting on flamboyant, over the top live performances.
Love it to Death is considered to be one of the foundational albums that inspired the heavy metal sound, and left a considerable influence on hard rock, punk, and heavy metal. Joey Ramone wrote his first song for the Ramones based on the chords to I’m Eighteen, and John Lydon auditioned for the Sex Pistols by miming to the song.
Along with their contemporaries, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper helped shape the future of hard rock and heavy metal for decades to come.
Love it to Death Wikipedia Page
Alice Cooper Wikipedia Page
iTunes
Amazon

Depeche Mode: Some Great Reward


Depeche Mode – Some Great Reward
Alain DuPuis
1984 was a very important year, because that is the year I was thrust kicking and screaming into this mortal coil. Incidentally, a little known band that you’ve probably never heard of called Depeche Mode happened to release an album that same year, called Some Great Reward, which was important. I guess.
All kidding aside, Depeche Mode is often cited as being an extremely influential music group for the impact they had on the electronic music scene, the pop scene, the new-wave the industrial scene… Lots of scenes. The breadth of their influence is what convinced me that this was the album to dive into this month.
Some Great Reward featured some pretty impactful singles. People are People was culturally significant for several reasons: It topped the charts in West Germany and was ultimately used in the ’84 Olympic Coverage. Remember, this was at a point where the East and the West were at odds on a number of social and political issues. It’s even listed in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s most list of 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. Other notable singles are Blasphemous Rumours, a song that tackles divine justice, and Master and Servant, a song that looks into sexual politics. Edgy stuff. Especially for the decade that spawned the “satanic panic.”
Full discolsure: I don’t know Depeche Mode’s body of work very well, and the only song I’ve heard from this album is People are People, which I appreciate for its verrrry 80s aesthetic and it’s industrial percussion. My hope is that I find the rest of the album just as awesome as I find People are People.
Check back at the end of the month for our review!
Further reading:
Depeche Mode Wikipedia
Some Great Reward Wikipedia

Review of Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill

Please read Alain DuPuis’ pick for Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill before reading and listening to our reviews below.

Quick Summary: 

  • Would we recommend?
  • Influence us and our tastes?
  • Worth the hype?
4

Review of Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill

The year was 1995, the grunge movement was coming to an end and the strong feminist message from the Riot Grrrl movement was never going to get mainstream radio play. Enter Canadian mall-pop sensation Alanis Morissette with her 3rd album Jagged Little Pill. A huge kudos to Alanis for wanting to be something different than manufactured mall-pop. She left her Canadian home of Ottawa and moved to Los Angeles where she met and had and instant connection with producer Glen Ballard. They would collaborate on experimenting with her sound and they co-wrote most all of the albums tracks. This album was a monster and sold 33 million albums and counting. Have a listen to our review of this mega album and see if it stood the test of time and what we thought about it now. You’ll enjoy this one.
The Sonic Collective


Our Individual Review Scores
Alain DuPuis:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Scott Coates:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?:4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype?: 4
Darren Scott:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 4
Scott Gregory:
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4.5

Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill


July 1st marked the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, and I guess I’ve been feeling a little bit more patriotic than usual, so for this month’s pick, I’ve decided to stay close to home and celebrate one of Canada’s top female music talents.
Alanis Morissette released the album Jagged Little Pill in June of 1995. I was surprised to learn it was actually her third album, and her first to be released outside of Canada. Full of angst and emotion, a wall of post-grunge instrumentals were complimented by clever, yet relatable lyrics, the album clearly struck a chord with the world at the time, because it ended up topping the charts in 10 different countries. 33 million units were shifted worldwide, and it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time. Additionally, the album spawned 6 singles, which meant that in the 90s, it was unlikely there was anybody on Earth who didn’t know the words to at least one song from JLP. Does familiarity breed contempt when it comes to Alanis? I guess we’re gonna find out.
Let’s put on our flannel shirts, climb into the back of Mom’s Plymouth Voyager, and take a sonic trip through time back to the mid-90s, when for better or worse, Alanis Morissette was all but inescapable.
Links:
Album on iTunes
Album on Amazon
Wikipedia Information on the album.

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin


Led Zeppelin is often called one of the most influential bands to emerge from the late 1960s, and are well known for hits including Immigrant Song, Black Dog, and of course, the unforgettable Stairway to Heaven.
Aside from listening to the usual radio-friendly singles, I’ve never formally been acquainted with a full Zeppelin album. That’s why for April 2017, we’ll be listening to the second eponymous album, Led Zeppelin II.
 
Led Zeppelin II - Album cover
 
The album was a commercial success, hitting the number one spot on the charts in both in their home country of England as well as overseas. What intrigues me the most is how the band described the recording process. Songs were written while the band was on tour rotations. They would write whenever they found hours in between concerts. Each track was recorded, mixed, and produced separately at various studios spread out across the UK and North America. The resulting sound is supposedly rife with spontaneity and urgency through necessity. Jimmy Page, the band’s guitarist receives the bulk of the credit for the album’s production oversight. He and engineer Eddie Kramer worked together to cobble the completed album together from recordings taken in piece-meal, sometimes impromptu sessions in cheap studios, hotels and “holes in the wall”.
Interesting? I think so.
Let’s delve into Led Zeppelin II, and we’ll reconvene at the end of the month to see what the group thought.
______
Links:
Album Wikipedia
Band Wikipedia
Buy the album on iTunes
Buy the album on Amazon

Nirvana: From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah


 
The album we’re going to be reviewing this month is both live, and a compilation of sorts – a clear violation of the mandate The Sonic Collective set for ourselves when we formed our noble group a couple of years ago. I guess I am just feeling rebellious, and so too were the millions of people who fell in love with Nirvana’s infectious brand of alternative music.  Our pick for the month: From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.
About Nirvana:
When Nirvana arrived on the Seattle grunge scene in the late 1980s, the airwaves were filled with hair metal and new wave music. This formulaic, radio-friendly music didn’t appeal to a new generation of disenfranchised or just plain bored youth, who started leaning more towards the underground for their music. Nirvana was just one of many unknown indy-bands who were playing small gigs at the time. But the world would forever change after they signed on with a major label (DGC Records) and released their breakout album, Nevermind. It achieved an unexpected and unprecedented amount of success, suddenly vaulting the entire Seattle grunge scene onto the world’s radar. The direct result was the rise of alternative rock to become the new mainstream, and hold steadfast for the better part of a decade.
The band met a tragic end after frontman Kurt Cobain’s untimely death in 1994, but the legacy Nirvana left behind cannot be understated. Hailed as “The voice of a generation” by numerous publications, Nirvana’s breakthrough helped popularize Generation-X, slacker culture, and alternative music, forever changing the musical landscape.
About our pick:
In 1996, the surviving members of Nirvana released From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, a compilation of recordings taken from shows they played across the globe between the years 1989 to 1994.   It received positive critical reception, and is often considered the angsty and energetic antithesis to their most popular live album, MTV Unplugged in New York. The album’s title refers to the Wishkah River in Aberdeen, Washington, where Cobain spent time in his youth.
I’ve long been a fan of Nirvana, and I’m excited to delve into this album. Many of the songs will be familiar to me, but I’m eager to hear the difference a live recording makes. Cobain himself was very critical of how polished and cleaned up their studio albums sounded, so being able to hear the songs as he intended them to be heard is gonna be a real trip.
Enjoy From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah!
Listen to our review of this album here.