34. Bat for Lashes – Fur and Gold

Bat For Lashes - Fur And Gold

34. Bat for Lashes – Fur and Gold (2006)

Who is/are Bat for Lashes?

Not Barenaked Ladies! I know, I can’t believe it either…

So, to Wikipedia; “Natasha Khan, known professionally as Bat for Lashes, is an English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.”

Easy.

Why did you buy this album?

I’ve been a dedicated listener of BBC6Music for some time now, and Bat for Lashes seems to be a favourite on that station. Having heard ‘Prescilla‘ fairly frequently around the time this was released, and later ‘Daniel‘ nearly daily once the follow-up album, ‘Two Suns‘, came out, I decided I liked what I heard, and thought I’d give the then two albums that comprised her discography a go.

One visit to Amazon later, and both were shortly in my hands for the price of one…

What’s it like?

Wikipedia describes this album as ‘folktronica’, which is essentially electric folk. Not sure I’d put it that way.

This album comes across as a mix of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Björk, yet still with its own unique sound.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

It’s still a good album, though I do occasionally confuse it with the follow up (a curse of the simultaneous two album purchase). There are a couple of tracks that just breeze past me, and it does get a bit tiring more than three listens; unfortunate for the sake of this blog, as I’ve had to hear it quite a bit over the last few weeks*!

Any stand-out tracks?

Opener ‘Horse and I‘ never fails to grab my attention, and I really like ‘Sad Eyes‘ and ‘I Saw A Light‘.

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

* I’ve been on holiday since the last post. Every time I listened to this album, something else then interrupted. In related news, our eldest son likes the Beatles…

33. Barenaked Ladies – BNL Rocks Red Rocks

Barenaked Ladies - BNL Rocks Red Rocks

33. Barenaked Ladies – BNL Rocks Red Rocks (2016)

Who is/are Barenaked Ladies?

You know who they are by now! I’ve written 16 other album reviews on their material!

Oh, and this is the last one (although they are releasing a new album with The Persuasions in mid-April…)!

Why did you buy this album?

It’s BNL, live. It’s a new BNL album. There was no way I wasn’t buying this as a present for my wife.

What’s it like?

Good enough to stay in my wife’s car since she got it!

This is the first live album released since singer Steven Page left the band in 2009, and as such, makes for a different listening experience than previous live albums. Songs that were previously had Page’s lead vocals are now given over, to Ed Robertson, for the most part, with Kevin Hearn pitching in on ‘If I Had $1000000‘ and ‘One Week‘. Drummer Tyler Stewart also has lead vocals for the finale; ‘Drawing‘ and the Led Zeppelin cover ‘Rock and Roll‘.

There’s also a couple of guest appearances for the song ‘Who Can It Be Now?‘; the original artist Colin Hay (of Men at Work fame), and the Violent Femmes’ Blaise Garza. Both of these artists were supporting the band on this tour, and it’s great to hear them onstage, rather than as just a passing mention.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

This album is great! Not ‘Barenaked For The Holidays Tour Live‘ great, but great nonetheless. The set list is essentially the same as the set they played the last time my wife and I saw them (30/9/15 at the Manchester Ritz), barring a few exceptions. Having seen them once previously without Page, and being somewhat underwhelmed, hopes were not high for this concert, but it was brilliant, the band having fully adapted to being a four-piece.

Colin Hay supported them in Manchester too (we arrived just in time to hear him sing ‘Overkill‘, still one of my favourite songs), and also perform ‘Who Can It Be Now?‘, so having this on the album means that this is the closest we’ll get to hearing the gig again without it being the actual night’s recording.

Any stand-out tracks?

The Old Apartment‘ and ‘Brian Wilson‘ are something of a given. ‘Who Can It Be Now?‘ and ‘Rock and Roll‘ for the sheer novelty value. Oh, and ‘Big Bang Theory Theme‘, because there’s another 1 min 30 to that song that you’ll never hear on E4.

Notable mentions also go to ‘Duct Tape Heart‘, ‘Light Up My Room‘, and ‘One Week‘.

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: Bat For Lashes – Fur and Gold

32. Barenaked Ladies – Silverball

Barenaked Ladies - Silverball

32. Barenaked Ladies – Silverball (2015)

Who is/are Barenaked Ladies?

Seriously, I’m not repeating myself any more.

In other news, I may be changing this question by the time we reach R.E.M….

Why did you buy this album?

Yet another fan purchase.

What’s it like?

Better than ‘Grinning Streak‘. It’s similar in style, but there are more catchy hooks and generally better songs. It’s still nowhere near the giddy heights of ‘Gordon‘ or ‘Stunt‘, but now three studio albums post-Page, BNL seem to be finally comfortable as a four-piece.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I like this more now than I did on first listen. I now either like, or simply appreciate, songs that I’d previously dismissed two years ago, partly because I’ve seen them performed live (more on that later…).

Any stand-out tracks?

Get Back Up‘ is a great opener (for a change), and ‘Say What You Want‘ has lead single written all over it. Just as well, as it was the lead single…

Notable mentions also go to ‘Silverball‘ and ‘Narrow Streets‘.

Duct Tape Heart‘ is also worth mentioning due to the wonderful lyrics praising the adhesive wonder; “Polyethylene gold, pressure-sensitive tape / It’s tried, it’s true, nothing it can’t do / Fixed the Fender on the rover that was left on the moon / It’s good enough for you.” Never a truer word spoken.

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: Barenaked Ladies – BNL Rocks Red Rocks

31. Barenaked Ladies – Grinning Streak

Barenaked Ladies - Grinning Streak

31. Barenaked Ladies – Grinning Streak (2013)

Who is/are Barenaked Ladies?

See those chaps on the album cover above? That’s them…

Why did you buy this album?

I think this was bought as an easy birthday present for my wife. Or possibly just as an “it’s a new BNL album” present for my wife.

What’s it like?

This is their second album proper without Steven Page, and feels like a decent follow up to ‘All In Good Time’. As with that album, there’s a very polished air about proceeding, and a suitably mature style throughout.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I want to, I really do, but I just struggle to get through it. There are a couple of tracks that stand out on each listening, but the album as a whole just generally coagulates into one glossily produced sound. I’ve only noticed that the album has gone back to the beginning when I’ve heard the second track again…

I don’t think it helps that the sharing of vocals is markedly less on this album that previously. Ed Robertson, having written all the songs bar one, sings all the songs bar one, with Kevin Hearn the only other contributor.

My wife tells me she really likes this album, so maybe I’m just getting BNL fatigue at this point. I may have to revisit it at a later date.

Any stand-out tracks?

The afore-mention second track, ‘Boomerang‘, is decent enough, and ‘Gonna Walk‘ and ‘Odds Are‘ are genuinely good pop songs, helped by the fact I’ve heard these songs live.

Other than those, and the Kevin’s song ‘Daydreamin’‘, I’d be hard pressed to name any others.

Rating out of 10?

6/10. Finally, a BNL album I like less than ‘Maroon‘. I expect my wife will be having words with me after this though…

Next up: Barenaked Ladies – Silverball

 

30. Barenaked Ladies – Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before

Barenaked Ladies - Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before

30. Barenaked Ladies – Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before (2012)

Who is/are Barenaked Ladies?

If you’re still not sure, go here, and give them a listen…

Why did you buy this album?

This was an impulse buy. I spotted there was a “new” BNL album out, and went for it.

What’s it like?

This is another slightly unusual album, in that it’s not an album proper. Instead, it’s a compilation of previous recordings.

Usually, I’d avoid listening to compilations for this blog (in fact I’ve already avoid such albums by Aerosmith, and BNL), but this one is different, as it’s mostly made up of previously unreleased material; B-sides, demos, live tracks, and the odd remix.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

Like is probably not the right word. I appreciate this album as a glance at what could have been, as I always like hearing demo version of familiar tracks, and there are a couple of decent live tracks, but it’s not really a coherent “album”. I certainly wouldn’t pick this out to listen to out of all the other BNL albums on offer.

Any stand-out tracks?

There’s a decent remix of ‘One Week‘ on there, and a live cover of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Shake Your Rump‘ that’s certainly worth a listen.

The demo version of ‘The Old Apartment‘ is also worth a listen, if just to hear how much it changed.

Rating out of 10?

6/10.

Next up: Barenaked Ladies – Grinning Streak

29. Barenaked Ladies – All In Good Time

Barenaked Ladies - All In Good Time

29. Barenaked Ladies – All In Good Time (2010)

Who is/are Barenaked Ladies?

As of this album, Barenaked Ladies become a four-piece again, after the unfortunate, but seemingly unavoidable, departure of founding member Steven Page.

Why did you buy this album?

Again, it’s a purchase I made as a fan, buying for both my wife and I.

What’s it like?

After the kid-oriented ‘Snacktime!‘, this is back to business as usual for BNL, after a fashion. By the time this album was recorded, founder member and co-lead singer Steven Page had left the band to pursue a solo career, leaving the remaining four to continue as BNL.

As Page and guitarist Ed Robertson had previously shared lead vocal duties, the other members of the band step up to fill in the gap, with keyboardist Kevin Hearn taking three songs, bassist Jim Creeggan taking two, and drummer Tyler Stewart featuring on one.

Stylistically, there’s a slightly more commercial edge to the songs, with most being very radio-friendly. While Page’s absence is noticeable, the album doesn’t really suffer for his lack of contribution.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

It’s grown on me. With the exception of ‘Every Subway Car‘ and ‘You Run Away‘, I wasn’t really keen on the album to start with, and it took me a while to appreciate the vocals of Hearn and Creeggan after being so used to Page.

Now, however, I do like it a lot more, though it’s not up to the standard of previous albums such as ‘Gordon‘ or ‘Stunt‘.

Better than ‘Maroon‘ though…

Any stand-out tracks?

Opener ‘You Run Away‘ is worth a listen, along with the later single ‘Every Subway Car‘. ‘Four Seconds‘ is also a stand-out, as is ‘I Have Learned‘.

Rating out of 10?

8/10. Not ‘Stunt‘ good, but not ‘Maroon‘ dull either…

Next up: Barenaked Ladies – Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before

28. Barenaked Ladies – Snacktime!

Barenaked Ladies - Snacktime

28. Barenaked Ladies – Snacktime! (2008)

Who is/are Barenaked Ladies?

I think you should know by now…

Why did you buy this album?

We’re fans. It was new material.

What’s it like?

Now this is something different. ‘Snacktime!‘ is an album for kids, along the lines of They Might Be Giants ‘Here Comes…‘ series, though less obviously educational in tone.

Most of the songs are under 2 minutes, meaning the sillier songs don’t outstay their welcome, and they cover topics as diverse as ninjas (‘The Ninjas‘), the senses (‘Food Party‘), depression (‘Bad Day‘), and unusual spellings (‘Crazy ABC’s‘).

It’s simultaneously the most BNL album they’ve made, whilst at the same time being the least like anything else they’ve done…

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

Most of this album is fantastic, and with songs as short as most of these, you don’t need to worry if you come across one you don’t like, as the next one will be along shortly.

My enjoyment of this album only increases when our eldest son asks “Is this the one with the ninjas? Yay!”, and sings along with ‘7 8 9‘…

Any stand-out tracks?

With 24 tracks, there’s a lot to choose from, and my favourites tend to depend on my mood. At the moment, the stand-outs are ‘The Ninjas‘, ‘Crazy ABC’s‘, ‘Drawing‘, and ‘Here Come The Geese‘.

An honourable mention must also go to ‘The Canadian Snacktime Trilogy I: Snacktime‘ principally for having guest appearances by Geddy Lee (Rush), Jason Priestley, Sarah McLachlan, Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip), ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Gordon Lightfoot, and Janeane Garofalo, among others, all sharing their favourites snacks.

Rating out of 10?

9/10.

Next up: Barenaked Ladies – All In Good Time