Essential: a masterpiece of Prog Rock music
For all intents and purposes, this was Stivell’s debut, and an impressive and mature debut at that. From the opening notes of the title cut, the openness and greenery of the rich Breton countryside is mainlined for the listener. One does not need to have set foot in Brittany to visualize that which Stivell paints so vividly. Most tracks are sung in French but are no less authentic for it.
For a band that's been compared to Joy Division, Leonard Cohen, Wilco, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the National sure sounds a lot more like the Czars or Uncle Tupelo on this sophomore album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. Where the band might lack Joy Division's angular fury, Cohen's existentialism, and Cave's vampiric attack, vocalist Matt Berninger and company whip up a murky alt country meets chamber pop vibe that's quite potent. The five-piece mostly keeps things on the country side of the fence during the album's first half, as slide guitars and fiddles overpower just about any hint of rock styling except the drumbeat, occasional feedback, and some screeching guitar freak-outs.
This is the second album emanating from celebrated British saxophonist, Paul Dunmall's 2012 visit to New York City, performing at the Vision Festival, and follows his initial 2013 appearance for New Atlantis Records on a date led by guitarist Edward Ricart, titled Chameleon. Hence, top New York City-based improvisers, drummer Andrew Barker and bassist Tim Dahl—the latter appearing on three tracks, lend their faculties for a set that poses a myriad of irregular rhythmic explorations. And while Dunmall's explosive tenor sax lines emphasize the group's power-packed tactics, the musicians' remain agile amid a host of changeable motifs, including areas where gruff, microtonal idiosyncrasies alter the flows and perspectives.
Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath’s most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath’s signature sound — crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock — and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like “War Pigs” and “Iron Man” (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history).