Trisha Yearwood - Thinkin' About You
Nothing special, especially compared to the Shania Twain album that I previously covered.5/10
No Use for a Name - ¡Leche Con Carne!
I'm not normally one for this group's particular brand of punk music—but this record was made a little earlier in their career, when their sound was much more aggressive and biting while still maintaining elements of accessibility through its sense of melody, as well as their general ethos. I'm not in love with it, but it must be one of the last half-decent punk albums ever made, given the genre's ultimate shift towards something much more difficult to stomach in the mid '90s.7/10
Blink-182 - Cheshire Cat
SPEAKING OF, one of the punk coffin's biggest nail-pushers was none other than Blink-182—which is not to say that I particularly hate this band, or anything. I mean, sure—the vocals are incessant and whiny, and all of their songs sound exactly the same, but on this record at least, I think they successfully managed to bring a lot of color and personality to the table, which you could argue a lot of their contemporaries lacked a bit. The dumb little skits and gags that occur here and there throughout the album do bring in some humor, even if it's goofy and childish, because the refusal to grow up has kinda always been one of the core themes of Blink-182's music, and I think they own it quite well.
It's also worth noting that the album was made on a tight-ass budget, and I'm always impressed whenever an artist is able to create a finished project under dire straits like that. It's kinda inspiring.6/10
Tricky - Maxinquaye
All right, this one's gonna be tough. This guy made music with Massive Attack back in the day before embarking on a solo career where he dropped this weird-ass album for his debut.
Considered by several publications to be one of the best albums of 1995, if not the
best (Robert Christgau gave it an A+, for Christ's sake), it's a record that is commonly cited to be the birthplace of the trip hop genre, which blends the wooziest and most down-tempo elements of hip hop and electronic music to create a "trippy" sound. This album in particular also throws in some ambient, jazz, rock, and even a little bit of reggae in there, as well, so it's quite the eclectic and experimental work of art.
The effect created by Tricky's production, in collaboration with Mark Saunders, is a distinctly druggy and heavily disorienting sound that makes you feel lost in a sedative haze. Tricky has a very interesting voice and vocal style on his own, but the lovely singer-songwriter Martina Topley-Bird is prominently featured, as well. They'll often trade places between leading and backing, and they complement each other rather nicely while maintaining the record's unevenness and off-kilter nature.
I like this album quite a bit, but as far as it being one of the best albums of 1995, I don't know if I personally share that enthusiasm. It has remarkable moments, but it also has its weaker points, and not all of its songs are as well-produced or as interesting as its best tracks, making it uneven not only in sound or concept, but also in overall quality.
The album does seem to be rich with themes from a lyrical standpoint, however, and admittedly, I haven't really looked into the meaning behind the lyrics just yet. I'll give this one a few extra listens because of it, and it may turn out later on that it's grown on me more. The potential is there for this to be my favorite album of February '95, but I personally don't see it ending up on my final list when I'm all finished with this project.7/10
DJ Quik - Safe + Sound
A solid album. Compton spitter DJ Quik raps good and produces all his own beats, which I have a lot of respect for, especially when all the beats end up nice. If you don't like G-funk, though, look elsewhere, since Quik is one of the guys who pioneered that sound. He's also a dirty rapper like Too Short (some of the first words on the album: "All I give a fuck about is music and sex"), so if that's not something you can stomach, I'd pass this one up, too.
I wouldn't blame you, since that's not something I can stomach, either. I gave Too Short's album a 5/10 for being too hung down in that degenerate-ass shit. It just got tedious after awhile. But on Safe + Sound
, Quik's breadth of subject matter is marginally wider, and there are only three or four songs out of the seventeen available that focus on the grossest details of his sexual excursions. Even on those songs, it's hard to deny Quik's talent as a lyricist and MC. His flows are on point, and there's a track on here where the chorus goes, "if it don't make dollars, it don't make sense"—even if you don't agree with that sentiment, you have to admit that's a pretty clever line.
The only part of the album that I fucking hate (and I've hated this particular moment more than anything else that I've covered so far) are the two counterpart tracks "Don't You Eat It!" and "Can I Eat it?" which both focus on the audacious and scholarly topic of cunnilingus. The former isn't actually a song; it's more of a skit that serves as a prelude to the latter track where a man (I don't know if it's Quik, or someone else) offers to go down on his partner while they're in bed or some shit (which gets rape-y as the female character says "no" three times, but he chooses to go down on her anyway). As this is happening, these audible and extremely over-the-top licking sounds can be heard, which is easily the most disgusting and uncomfortable shit I've ever heard on a hip hop album. The guy seems to notice that something is wrong, though, and he screams as a devilish voice is heard: "You dare put your lips in between hips? You don't know where that pussy's been! DON'T EAT THE COOCHIE!"
I'm not kidding. This is a thing that happens on the album. It's obviously played for laughs, and not supposed to be taken as seriously I'm choosing to take it. I'm just trying to express that I don't find any humor in this shit. It's embarrassing.
But anyway, with that dumbass shit aside, it's actually still a solid album, like I said before. It just has a few ridiculous moments, and you'll either find them hilarious or you'll absolutely hate them. To me, it's just music. I find them easy to overlook, given that the album is 60 minutes, and its worst songs are rather short. I don't know. Take it or leave it; I may enjoy the record overall, but I'm not gonna give it a strong recommendation, or anything. Just for those of you who don't get easily offended by stupid hip hop lyrics.
Here's one of the better tracks to give you a sense of what you're getting:7/10
Coming up next, we have some records by Energy Orchard, Atari Teenage Riot, PJ Harvey, Mike Watt, and Adina Howard.
Technically, I'm also supposed to listen to an album called Cerebral Caustic
by the Fall, but because of the way I listen to music, I think I'm gonna put that record off for now. The Fall's discography is gargantuan, and I don't really feel like putting myself through it at this time.