The Sonic Collective has decided to pick a round of influential country music artists. Member Scott Coates explains why he chose Willie Nelson’s Shotgun Willie album. Listen to this selection and then join us back on February 1, 2021 to hear our review of this classic Willie Nelson album.Continue reading
Please read Scott Coates’s pick, The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland, before reading and listening to our reviews below.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland
The group collectively agreed that this was an album we really enjoyed. Between Jimi Hendrix’s incredible guitar skills, the songwriting, and the production value, this one didn’t feel like a chore to get through. Quite the opposite, in fact. Is anyone surprised? This album sits at the precipice of bluesy, proto-hard rock, which makes for a really interesting musical journey. As our recommend score indicates, this isn’t an album to miss, so you should give this one a listen and let us know what you thought.
Overall opinion: 4.9
Would we recommend?: 4.8
Influenced our tastes: 3.4
Our Individual Review Scores
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3.5
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Welcome to the Pleasuredome is the debut studio album from the British synth-pop band Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Released in October of 1984, Pleasuredome hit #1 in the UK and European charts, eventually reaching triple platinum status in their home country, moving more than 900,000 units. The album found success all over the world as well, reaching the tops of many international charts.Continue reading
Alain here – Thanks for tuning into the Sonic Collective! For the month of June, 2020 we continue our exploration of Hip-Hop, and once again, it’s my turn to choose our album. After Scott Coates pulled the rug out from under my feet in May by picking the same album I was planning to review (A Tribe Called Quest) I was at a bit of a loss for what album to pick. I consulted with one of my best friends, a guy who is very attuned to Hip-Hop culture and its fascinating history, and upon his recommendation, I landed on Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock: The Album.
We first need to talk about who Afrika Bambaataa is, to fully understand why this album is so significant.
Lance Taylor, AKA Afrika Bambaataa, got his start in the New York party scene back in 1977, where he DJ’d Hip-Hop parties, brushing shoulders with other legends, such as Grandmaster Flash. He vowed to use Hip-Hop to reach out to angry or disaffected youth, drawing them away from the trappings of gang life. Afrika Bambaataa founded the Universal Zulu Nation, a collective of socially and politically aware rappers, B-boys, graffiti artists and other people involved in the emerging hip hop culture. The goal of the Zulu Nation was to build a movement out of the creativity of the next generation of outcast youths with an authentic, liberating worldview. The Zulu Nation can be credited with spreading Hip-Hop music and culture via house parties, block parties, gym dances and mix tapes, further cementing it into the social zeitgeist.
Afrika Bambaataa was also the founder of the Soulsonic Force, which originally consisted of approximately 20 Zulu Nation members. The personnel for the Soulsonic Force were groups within groups with whom he would perform and make records. Records such as Planet Rock.
Released in 1986, Planet Rock: The Album was a cornerstone album and one of the earliest successes in the genre of Hip-Hop. It attained gold status and generated an entire school of “electro-boogie” rap and dance music in its wake. Rick Rubin once said of its titular track, “One of the most influential songs of everything. It changed the world. There hasn’t been a song like it in Hip-Hop since.” Slant Magazine awarded the album #84 on its list of Best Albums of the 1980s, and the track Renegades of Funk was once covered by Rage Against the Machine.
Fun fact: Kraftwerk members received songwriting credits on Planet Rock. Bambaataa was heavily inspired by the band’s futuristic sounding electronic music, and interpolated portions of Kraftwerk’s songs, including “Numbers” and “Trans-Europe Express”. I bring this up because Kraftwerk was one of my picks from way back in 2015, an album I chose to review based on how influential they were. It all comes full circle, my friends.
Enjoy Planet Rock: The Album, and check back at the end of the month to hear what we have to say about it.
Thanks for tuning into The Sonic Collective! It’s once again my turn to pick, and for the month of February, 2020, I’ve chosen for us to review Van Halen’s Diamond-Certified eponymous debut album, Van Halen.
Hailing from Pasadena, the band played a number of gigs in the mid to late 70s, eventually catching the attention of two executives from Warner Bros. A deal was struck, and Van Halen entered the studio in 1977, basically taking their live show and tracking it out over the course of a couple of weeks at a cost of around $40,000. Van Halen was released in February of 1978, and almost immediately began to make an impact on the charts. Fans loved it, while certain high-profile critics panned it. But the critics were, of course, wrong. The album reached #19 on the top 200 chart, and before 1978 had come to an end, it had already attained Platinum status from the RIAA.
The legacy of Van Halen is still present 42+ years onward. Their sound defined what hard rock / heavy metal would be for the next decade. It spun off a number of well-known singles, including “You Really Got Me”, “Running With The Devil”, and “Jaimie’s Cryin’”. Eddie Van Halen would achieve god-like status among guitarists for his innovative approach to his instrument, and David Lee Roth is often praised for his stylish, bombastic, and energetic personality as the band’s frontman. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Let’s dive in and see where it all started this month!
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
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 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.
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 Way, Dreams, 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
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
Alice Cooper: Love it to Death
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