Issue 10.21: Ear Shot
Introducing the New Intern… Keith Benedict!
November 16, 2006
And his Top Five (sometimes of all time)
"LED ZEPPELIN I"
In 1970, Led Zeppelin started the term "heavy." It was
a year before I was born and a new era in rock began. The heavy aspect
is mostly due to John Bonham's powerhouse technical ability, and Jimmy
Page's unrelenting riffage. Another of Page's contributions was the
tone he crafted with his guitar, made primarily by employing a Gibson
Les Paul guitar and a Marshall amplifier. It's a tradition carried on
by many esteemed guitarists today. The band did have a couple covers on
the album; "I Can't Quit You Babe" and "You Shook Me" were originally
recorded by bluesman Willie Dixon. And Robert Plant is no old-time
blues singer, at least traditionally speaking. But he hit octaves
usually best sung by female vocalists, and thereby originated glam rock
vocals. – Atlantic Records, 1969
"THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE"
Dave Grohl uses Gibson guitars 95 percent of the
time—further proof of their exquisite tonality. But who'd have thought
the former drummer of a grunge band (Nirvana), would go on to write,
play and sing such a timeless album. I must've listened to it at least
a hundred times and I still appreciate its originality and the genuine
substance of the music. The surprising part is that it's loaded with
pop hooks. Grohl is a songwriting genius but it's my opinion Pat Smear
had a lot to do with the style of this album. No other Foo release has
had this caliber of creativity since. Sadly, Smear quit the band right
after recording was finished. – RCA Records, 1997
"IS THIS IT?"
The Strokes must be fans of Lou Reed. Being a fan of
the man myself, it's not a surprise I also like the band. While
inheriting their sound from groups well before their day, The Strokes
manage to make it their own—dirty yet stylish, retro/pop/punk, guitar
driven, back-beat rock. One of the best aspects of the album is that
you can hear every instrument without all the polish. The dynamics
between the two guitars is understated and poignant for each song. No
guitar heroes here. Julian Casablancas eloquently slithers his vocal
phrases in a talk/sing style that would make his idol (Lou Reed) proud.
– RCA Records, 2001
"WAVE OF MUTILATION: BEST OF PIXIES"
With 23 great songs in a row, it's nice to press play
and walk away—that is, if you're still an iPodless cave person. Back in
'86, Frank Black dropped out of college to make the band happen. Then
Black convinced a friend, Joey Santiago to do the same. The two
recruited bassist Kim Deal, and drummer Dave Loveing. The Pixies helped
usher in an era of music that would save our ever-loving souls from the
tasteless, ego-driven crap of mainstream '80s music. Basically, Black
and the rest of the band laid the foundation for all that is good about
music today. You would disagree? Well, there's Sonic Youth, Nirvana,
Kings of Leon, just to name a few. That's right—now go listen to Best
of Pixies. – 4ad Records, 2004
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
"SONGS FOR THE DEAF"
This is rock in its purest form. Normally, repetitive
guitar riffs bore me. However, with all the talent in this band, the
repetition comes across like a freight train, pounding those blissful
guitar tones into your skull. I've heard some complaints of the overly
mid to low frequencies in the guitar parts. Personally, I love it. I
think it has a lot to do with what makes this recording so powerful.
Josh Homme's and Mark Lanegan's crooning vocal melodies, along with
Nick Oliveri's psychotic screaming, rounds it all out. Another
interesting part about this album is the intros for most of the songs,
sounding as if actual DJs—ranging from an underpaid sloth to an
over-hyping spazz—are introducing the material. Anyway, it's a
conceptual touch that is aural icing on the cake. – Interscope Records,
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