Keith Richards – Talk Is Cheap (1988)
The late 80s were a tumultuous time for The Rolling Stones. They spent the previous decade conceiving more than a few of rock’s most celebrated records, but the 80s found a band afflicted by infighting and artistic differences. The well of riffs inside Richards was still deep, but the band simply wasn’t on the same page. Talk Is Cheap was the conduit that most effectively carried the human riff to speakers when The Rolling Stones couldn’t.
The music, just like Richards himself, is pure, unembellished rock ‘n’ roll. Predictably, the songs grow out of straightforward rock ‘n’ roll riffs that establish indelibly spirited grooves. The space on either side of the groove is by energetic bursts and Richards’ own characteristically raw vocals. ‘Big Enough’ bounces on top of Bootsy Collins’ fat bass line. The soulful blues of ‘Struggle’ comes off as anything but a struggle. While being truly unapologetic, ‘You Don’t Move Me’ is tinged with a sorrowful memory akin to — but distinctly different from — regret.
His most memorable contributions to rock ‘n’ roll may have been as a Rolling Stone, but Keith Richards made permanent marks on the genre all on his own. – Jeremy Schaefer
Laurel Halo – Quarantine (2012)
Quarantine, Laurel Halo’s Hyperdub debut, is a revealing effort of remarkable ambition and focus. All of the tracks, even the two that clock in at less than 2 minutes in length, display a complexity and structure not seen on any of her previous entries. Moreover, with Quarantine, Halo has allowed us past her comfort zone and chosen to delve into material that not only resonates with the listener but also serves to inevitably push the boundaries of her genre.
All of this laudatory commentary does not obscure the fact that much of what makes Quarantine such a beautiful and effective record originates from fact that many of the best moments are disturbing and disorientating. Track titles such as ‘Carcass’, ‘Thaw’, ‘Tumor’, ‘Nerve’, and ‘Airsick’ foreshadow subject matter that is ultimately unnerving.
However, for those listeners who embrace the challenge that is this record, Halo’s real message is that despite all of the shit that happens in our lives, we have to move forward or else we are as good as dead. – Joe Mateo
Nimrod Workman – I Want To Go Where Things Are Beautiful (2008)
In the throes of the everyday, it’s every man for himself. No, we shouldn’t trample others while looking out for number one. We should, however, keep our eyes peeled on the bend. It’s all too common to lose our druthers to the ceaselessly drab and merely coast through city streets with heads buried in the concrete. Where is the color supposed to filter in from if we’ve resigned our sights to a staunch gray? The wonders and blunders of this world as well as the thunders that occasionally augur them fall on deaf ears because we’re fed inoffensive bullshit that won’t burst the cushy bubble so much as baby it. Enabling faces and sterilized places litter the steps we take on abiding, abhorrent cycle. Over and over and over again.
We’re locked in and we want out, yet such yearning presents the messiest can of worms we’ve had to handle in eons. To backtrack after the first glimpse of RIGHT is as pitiful as pitiful gets, though, so we muster up our reserve of nerve, and with a firm grip and firmer conviction, we set fire to our daily blacks and whites in favor of whatever might climb out of the blue.
From the ashes, a voice arises. A solitary wail unfettered by routine’s fuddle. No folk-pop complaisance, no finger-picked racket, no easy ways out of this, no gaudy sideshows to distract from center stage. We’ve decided to sing no tune but our own: a cappella of the Appalachians. We’ve decided to shed the clutter to the hilt. We’ve decided to trek solely for all things beautiful. All things that can enliven, embolden, emblazon visions that once appeared fated to stare at drywall. In order to achieve this aim, we hammer down the screens we had so diligently erected in years past — the professions and possessions that have obscured rather than organized who we are. It can’t be organized, really. On one hand, slow, pained notes are yowled to evoke the grief we’ve already absorbed. On the other, short, playful notes are yipped to uncover the joys of simply rolling with the punches. Whether our golden years have long since sailed by or the worst is actually over isn’t clear…and isn’t important, either. We’re here.
The nebulous remains nebulous. We can’t brace for that which lies in the offing. We’re just finally ready to embrace it. – Vinh Cao