The Most Random Albums I Own

I’m not going to lie. This week’s entry was thrown together at the very last minute because I’ve had very little time to even think about what I wanted to write. In reality this was an entry I did want to write, but didn’t think I had enough random albums to write about, so I figured now would be a good time to do this. Just to clarify, these albums were all done by bands that were signed to major or semi-major labels that I actually went out and bought. I hope you enjoy.

The Atomic FireballsTorch This Place (1999)

I bought this album in 1999 when swing bands were big, and I came across this band somewhere on the Internet. I liked what I heard, so I bought the album. I think it was one of, if not the first album I ever bought online. Sometimes I wonder why I bought this album, because I rarely ever listened to it, and still don’t. In reality it’s not a bad album at all, but it’s also nothing amazing, especially compared to other swing/jump big bands like the Brian Setzer Orchestra and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Still, the band had chops and some killer songs. The best track on the album is “Man With The Hex,” which opens the album, and if I recall correctly, was what got me to by the album. Unless you are totally into this type of music, there is zero reason for you to go out and buy this album.

Fury in the SlaughterhouseHearing and the Sense of Balance (1995)

This band is from Germany, and I first them on an alternative rock sampler from the BMG Music Club. There were two songs from them, Hum, Sleeper, Truck Stop Love, and Wanderlust. I’m guessing Hum is the only band anyone might have heard of out of that group, even though Wanderlust did have a minor hit with “I Walked,” but I digress. I loved the two songs on the sampler from FITS, “Milk & Honey” and “Dancing In The Sunshine Of The Dark,” and decided to order the album from the music club. I remember I listened to the album a bunch when I got it, bunch soon after stopped, and have barely given it a listen in about 15 years. Going through the album, there isn’t much that really grabs me. The band seems to lack a focused “sound” and most of the songs sound like rip-offs of other European bands, like U2, Pink Floyd, Scorpions, The Cult, and The Police (they actually cover “Next To You”).  “Dancing In The Sunshine Of The Dark,” is probably the best track on the album, but it sounds so much like something from U2’s Achtung Baby that it’s a bit annoying. Another album I suggest skipping.

Kings Go ForthThe Outsiders Are Back (2010)

I almost didn’t include this band because I have no clue if they are still around or not, and I just bought the album two years ago. Still it is kind of random and after checking their website, they are either no one has updated their website or they are on a break. Anyway, I bought this album on Record Store Day in 2010 on a whim when one of the employees at Melody Record Shop in DC (which I just found out has closed; sucks) recommended it to me based on the fact that I liked Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. I went home, listened to it, and enjoyed it thoroughly, and still do today. It’s not the greatest album, but it’s a solid mix of funk, soul, R&B, and world music, which is probably why David Byrne signed them to his label. I highly recommend this album for people who enjoy Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, The Budos Band, and old school soul/funk. If anything, at least check out “One Day.”

MokeMoke (1999) / Carnival (2001)

In reality these albums aren’t random to me, but since I doubt anyone (except my cousin and brother) know who the hell these guys were I will write about them. I saw Moke open for The Black Crowes in 1999, and they blew me away, with their solid mix of blues, rock, and a bit of hip-hop; just a straight balls-to-the-wall performance. Yet, it was when I randomly heard their song “Down” on the radio that I decided to get their first album. I remember not being too enthralled with the album, except for the first two songs, “Down” and “Wheel In Motion.” Still, their sound was pretty awesome, and I absolutely loved John Hogg’s voice. I don’t remember when or how I bought Carnival, but I can easily say I like it better than Moke. I pretty much love the first eight songs on the album, with my favorites being “My Degeneration,” “Hanging Around,” “Liar,” and “Strange Days.” I definitely recommend checking out both of these albums, particularly Carnival.

Sweet VineSweet Vine (1997)

Man, did I love this album. I mean I LOVED this album. I remember playing this non-stop in junior high school and just jamming out in my room. This is the only album from the California band, who I first heard about when the opening track, Mountainside,” was played a lot on WDHA, a local radio station. Listening to it now, it’s still a damn good album. For the most part, the sound of the band is pure 1970s blues-rock, with a heavy emphasis (whether intentional or not) on the Allman Brothers, Humble Pie, and Free. Hans Eberbach’s voice is fantastic, capturing the essence of Steve Marriott and Paul Rodgers, though never reaching the heights of those two legends, while Nate Dale’s guitar evokes the ghost of Duane Allman, and Gary Frank Skaggs’ organ reminds one of Gregg Allman. “Mountainside” is easily the best song on the album, but other standouts include “Candy for Fools,” “Three Times Denied,” and “Ever Made Love To Be.” If you’re a fan of southern rock, blues rock, or any of the bands listed previously, check out this album.


2 thoughts on “The Most Random Albums I Own

  1. Random album purchases can probably be divided into “Unexplainably Spur of the Moment, but Rewarding” and “Boy, That Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, Didn’t It?” Fortunately, I’ve been blessed (or have become remarkably delusional in my old age) that I haven’t yet regretted any of the random stuff. My random list, after a cursory scan of both iTunes and my memory, would probably entail:

    1. Toni Childs: Union – Turns out I am a sucker for cheap, seeing this for like five bucks in a Coconuts used bin one time. It turns out that I wound up really liking, her voice had a nice earthy quality to it, I’m apparently a sucker for a vaguely world-beat vibe and frankly the first half of the album is actually pretty spot-on. The rest is pretty strong too. I can’t speak for the rest of her career, however.

    2. David and David: Boomtown – Basically bought because I liked the quasi-title track “Welcome to the Boomtown” (the whole album is about the decadent eighties in all its sleazy, crime-ridden glory) but again, the rest of the album is still pretty strong, with a lot of lyrical details (mostly about the eighties, but hey, that’s when they wrote it) overcoming the sheen of the decade’s production that keeps trying to break through. I actually think Toni Childs was one of the backing vocalists on some of the songs, which means one of these may not be as random as I think it is.

    3. Kelley Polar: Love Songs From the Hanging Gardens
    The Orb: Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld – I only grouped them together because they are albums I bought purely because I liked the covers (a problem for me . . . I can’t tell you how much I’ve been resisting buying Fleetwood Mac’s “Bare Trees” over the years), the former having one of those nifty Horsehead Nebula type of photo that comes from the Hubble telescope and the latter looking like it promises a journey. Amusingly enough, Kelley Polar isn’t a genre I’m typically into (like a post-disco/house sound) but I liked that album enough to buy the second (also decent and containing one of my favorite song titles “The Rooms in My House Have Many Parties”) which goes to show you that I’m either easily swayed or afraid of disappointing an artist. As for the Orb, if I guess I have to own one ambient techno album, that would be the one. Sadly enough, not only do I like it (I have a thing for albums that trick you into believing you’re undergoing a musical journey) but I once used one of the songs as a mixtape gift for someone’s newborn baby, figuring an infant would prefer the beatless marvels of the Orb as opposed to, Justin Bieber or whatever it is that kids listen to.

    4. Virginia Astley: From Gardens Where We Feel Secure: I didn’t buy it for the cover, but I like the cover. It probably falls in the “musical journey” category, with a structure that tracks the course of a day and uses field recordings on top of the piano pieces. Now that I have a Steve Roach album it doesn’t feel as out of place but I guess, once again, if I’m going to have one album from her, that’ll be the one.

    5. Scarce: Deadsexy – another five dollar wonder from the days when “alternative” was an actual category in the record stores. They managed one nifty album before everyone either had severe medical issues or just started hating each other (or both) but if you don’t mind grungy type music fronted by someone who listened to a lot of David Bowie but has a better range, this is your album. Interesting sidenote, they did reform and I saw them live and they weren’t bad. The lead singer has a mean thousand yard stare, however.

    7. Nuno Cavarro: Plux Quba – my girlfriend enjoys conversations that start with “Hey, so I bought an album by an obscure Portuguese electronic composer that features no vocals and consists of mostly playful abstract electronica type instrumentals. Want to hear?” I get asked “Why?” a lot. I can’t quite figure that.

    8. Lotion: Nobody’s Cool – Hey, Thomas Pynchon wrote the liner notes. Why not? I used to listen to the first three songs over and over again and eventually I will get around to trying their other albums since they’re available used for like four bucks each probably.

    9. Insides: Euphoria – I also have a bad habit of reading about albums and deciding that they’re worth buying without listening to it. This whole album sounds like the soundtrack to sex, so you have to be in the mood for it. Now that I’ve heard the XX, basically them, but years earlier.

    10. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds – I know every music collection worth its weight in chords should have it, but I only have one Beach Boys album and it’s this, which makes it kind of random. So be it.

    Is this longer than the blog entry? God, I hope not.

    • And I apparently forgot to include a “6” so throw in either Dada’s “Puzzle” or, um, the Close Lobsters two-fer that I have. They’re not as random but, you know, close enough.

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