The other day I went on a trip to my local record shops, which was a welcome journey. While there, I picked up a new CD! Hurray! I’ve been dying for new music.
The CD I got isBurn the Maps by The Frames. It’s a strange, unpredictable little album by the Irish rockers.The album opens with “Happy,” a mostly instrumental tune with the vocals mixed to the background. Burn the Maps definitely takes at least two listens to get used to, but I’ve noticed that a lot of really good albums do (Tommy, Arthur, etc).
“Fake” is a poppy little number, perhaps disposable but its the most readily accessible to the usual pop fan.
There’s plenty to like about the album–soaring violins, Glen Hansard’s rough vocals, and the ability of the album to transport you to a completely different place.
The album is not one that I would recommend starting out with if you’ve never listened to The Frames before. Try Set List first.
This time, it’s Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) by The Kinks. It’s a concept album, following up their brilliant The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society.
This album is one that evokes an emotional response from me. The first time I heard it, I felt really angry and uncomfortable. I don’t know why. For a few months, I only listened to it that one time. Now I’ve given it a second listen, and can say that I really enjoy it. It takes a powerful piece of work to inspire emotion from me. This being ticked off is of a different sort than say, being force fed tripe Top 40 (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift).
“Some Mother’s Son” may be my favorite track on the album. There’s something quite mournful about it, given the topic of soldiers dying to protect their homeland. The juxtaposition of soldiers fighting and children at play is a powerful, haunting one. It really makes you think.
Ray Davies’ writing is something special. While other rock bands of the era were focusing on strange moves from rock (“Revolution 9” by The Beatles), or elevating rock to a more artistic level (Tommy by The Who), Davies stays focused on what he knows: life in England. Though not joyfully nostalgic like Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur takes a good look on opportunity poor English life post-World War II.
First time Kinks concept album listeners should start with Village Green Preservation Society. It’s easier to get into.