Essential Vinyl Albums To Have

Essential Vinyl Albums To Have

When it comes to vinyl records, you need to be careful about the differences between the “vinyl” aspect and a great albums list. It’s not a simple endeavour as many passionate vinyl enthusiasts can attest to. That being said, we’ve put together a list of some of what we think are essential vinyl records to have in your collection.

Coincidentally these albums would be definitely considered in a best albums list. That being said, we’ve also considered qualities and characteristics of these vinyl albums that make them stand out above the rest.

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

Top of our list is an album put together by the Beastie Boys. Made by the Dust Brothers, this album is the follow-up to Licensed to III. This album is arguably better for a variety of reasons. The big reason is the 20th anniversary pressing was stellar work. Aside from the music being good, the triple gatefold and beautiful album art sets it apart. Combine all of this with dramatically improved remastering process means not only are you getting one of the best looking albums, but you are also walking away with one of the best sounding ones too.

The Beatles – Revolver

You may be asking why is Revolver one of the best Beatles album to have as a vinyl record. The answer is simple: Revolver is the best Beatles album. We’re not biased here.

The amount of work (both artistic and technical) that went into the 300 hours of studio time is astonishing. To this day it has yet to be matched. Not only that but the album was made during the time when the band was in their prime. Paired up with the fact that the band had as much time as they wanted to put the album together, you get this album.

In essence this is the record that came out with the right band at the proper time with everything falling perfectly into place at the time. This is a must have, no exceptions.

Beirut – The Flying Club Cup

The second last vinyl album you must have is by Beirut. This makes our list because of what attracts people to this band. One of the biggest draws is the fact the band makes great music through instruments you don’t normally find in typical bands. It provides a unique experience to listeners who can hear instruments like trumpets, ukuleles, accordions, trombones, tubas, flugelhorns and more. Best of all, the vast array of instruments are played in a way so it doesn’t sound like it’s all circus music either.

As for background info on this album, this second album was primarily inspired by a Parisian ball festival. Each track in the album is attributed to a different French city which results in a musical masterpiece. It’s a truly timeless piece to have in any vinyl record collection.

The Black Keys – Thickfreakness

The second album assembled by The Black Keys, they explain that the songs were “recorded and mixed in December 2002 by Patrick Carney in Akron Ohio at studio 45. Carney’s patented recording technique ‘medium fidelity’ was used.”

While that all sounds like technical jargon, if you do some digging, one will find the term “medium fidelity” was a tongue-and-cheek reference to old analog recording equipment. To be specific it was a 1980’s Tascam 388 8-track recorder. Also their “studio” was Patrick Carney’s basement. In there, the duo recorded a 14-hour straight session of garage-rock blues that fans can drool over.

What is the devil’s interval in music – The tritone?

What is the devil’s interval in music – The tritone?

Have you heard of the ‘Devil’s Interval’ in music? Did you ever wonder where the name ‘Devil’s Interval’ came from? Also known as the tritone, it is an interval that is extremely dissonant. So much that it was avoided by music composers for hundreds of years. In fact, it was even banned by the church.

What is the tritone?

Essentially, a tritone interval contains notes that are three toes apart. Or in other words, the notes are six semitones apart hence perfectly dividing the scale into two equal parts. This means that in a single diatonic scale, there would be only a single tritone. This would occur between the fourth and the seventh degrees. So in the case of the C major scale, the tritone would be F and B. Similarly, in the case of G major, the tritone would be C and F.

If you are into music theory, you would know for sure that every particular mode in music corresponds to a particular mood (flavor/character). For instance, the Lydian and the Ionian mode gives off a happy and joyful vibe. On the other hand, Phrygian and Dorian mode gives off a sad and gloomy vibe.

The mode system works quite efficiently for all notes in a scale until, the note B. Named as the Locrian mode, it happened to be the only mode not having a perfect fifth as the fifth degree in the scale. Instead, it was an augmented fourth or a flattened fifth hence giving rise to a triton.

Due to the dissonant nature of the tritone, the Locrian scale was rare to be used. So in order to find a way out, composers kind of tampered with to B-F interval that had a devilish sound to it. This marked the birth of B flat and F sharp.

The major reason why pitches give off a harmonious feel is that harmonious pitches carry a frequency ratio. For instance, two notes that are an octave apart carry a frequency ratio of 2:1 making both the pitches highly consonant. Apart from 2:1, the 3:2 ratio is yet another consonant one which refers to the perfect fifth interval.

Coming back to the tritone, it carries a frequency ratio of 64:65 or 45:32, which depends on your tuning. Nevertheless, this frequency ratio gives rise to an interval that is simply unpleasant to hear and has an altogether satanic/devilish vibe to it. Despite that, the tritone has found its way into modern mainstream music where it is used in impressive ways.

Was the devil’s interval (tritone) banned?

It is said that the tritone was totally banned by churches, and use of it in church music could actually result in a punishment as it was looked down upon. Perhaps this is where this interval got its name i.e. the devil’s interval.

However, it is likely that the churches and religious dwellings had banned the tritone due to purely musical reasons, and not because people believed it was a work of the devil. Provided, that this is not just another rumor.

The R&B Music Genre Crisis

The R&B Music Genre Crisis

If you were born in or before the 90s you probably listened to the likes of Westlife, Aaaliyah, Ashanti, Destiny’s Child and Brandy just to name a few. These musicians gave us music that stirred feelings in our hearts and gave us all kinds of feels. The R&B scene in these times are considered to have reached its peak in terms of standard and quality of music. It is not rare to log on to social media, Twitter for instance, and find someone wishing they could get the 1990s, or before, R&B, the crying-in-the-middle-of-the-road in the rain kind of music. If we are being honest with ourselves, that music was all kinds of good.

What really happened to the R&B music industry? Where did all these artists go? This is a question that is quite difficult to answer as some of the musicians that gave us this music are still very much actively involved in the music, churning hit after hit, but why is it not the same as the earlier days R&B?

Early R&B artist Erykah Badu questioned the kind of music artists from the genre were releasing in 2010 calling that style of music pop techno with the boom bip and the hump for the payday. Critics of the genre say most artists in the industry are losing the initial style of the music in the process of reinventing themselves. In the process of everyone trying to stand out with a different sound, they are ending up with absolutely different styles of music.

Other than the sound and beat, today’s R&B has become unrelatable for lack of a better word. Artists are no longer singing about what they’d do for love, or apologies or just serenading their lovers. Instead, there is a lot more music about sex, one-night stands, parties and expensive drinks on the radio today.

While there is nothing wrong with singing about sex, the difference is in how it is being done today. One cannot compare Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On to some of the songs about sex on the radio today without being grossed out. The message no longer has an actual, heartfelt message, it’s more superficial and meaningless. This makes it hard to connect to.  John Blake in an article for CNN commented that there is no longer tenderness or seduction in R&B music, which is sort of true.

In addition, as alluded to by Ms. Erykah Badu, artists are chasing the dollar with their music by choosing to produce club banging hits as opposed to the deep soulful music that was a characteristic of earlier days R&B. This literally leaves the music to all kinds of party themed lyrics while that doesn’t have to be the case. Whitney Houston is an example of an artist whose music topped charts with meaningful lyrics proving that it can actually be done.

The need to progress and grow in whatever genre of music cannot be understated. However, in all the change, if the message remained constant, maybe, just maybe we’d still have quality songs about love or any other emotion. It is also important to know that there some artists that have remained in the initial school of R&B showing that there is still hope.

Exploring different genres of music

Exploring different genres of music

Nothing in the world is as comforting as listening to your favorite music or to sing along your favorite song accompanied with a guitar. Once you get to know your favorite genre, you are good to go. However, usually, after people discover one particular genre that they like, they immediately start ignoring the other wonderful areas of music. Whether it is EDM, pop, Classical, Rock, Blues, or Country music, once we become used to what we like the most, it is natural to ignore the rest.

However, this approach to music often limits a budding artist or a musician. This is because exposure to different genres of music usually helps a budding musician in developing his/her own unique style. Moreover, it also allows young learning artists to widen their horizons and to figure out what genre works the best for them. Even as a listener, you could be missing out on a lot of great music without having any idea about it.

Classical Music

It would not be wrong to say that classical music is a direct and straightforward application of western music theory. Hence, anyone having a taste for classical music would have a sound knowledge of western music fundamentals which not only make music a bliss for the listener but also helps budding artists. In fact, a number of legendary musicians such as Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead received classical training in music.

Jazz

Jazz music contains quite a lot of technicalities to it. The essence of jazz music is improvisation, which comes off due to rigorous practice and the application of the fundamental jazz techniques/theory. You will often find Jazz players going off the script live so as to produce something more powerful on the go. Being able to improvise happens to be one of the major beneficial traits that jazz music players carry as it is a skill that they just develop over time.

Rock

Rock music requires a lot of power and precise timing. Hence, generally speaking, rock music performers carry a lot of energy and accuracy since this is exactly what this particular genre is built upon. Though, rock is a vast genre that consists of various sub-styles and tone. Ranging from the fast guitar shredding in a hard rock song to soft emotional licks in an acoustic rock ballad, rock offers a lot of variety to listeners and performers.

Blues

While blues music does not require as much rigorous training as jazz music does, and neither it is as intense as rock music, it is certainly tough to master. The origin of blues can be traced back to African American roots in the southern states. Blues music heavily relies on rhythm and distinct blues scales that give it is particular feel. Hence, blues musicians happen to have a great command of rhythm that could easily separate them from the rest.

Reggae

Reggae music is based upon the off-beat playing. Accents in Reggae music follow the downbeat and the 2nd and 4th notes instead of 1st and 3rd notes. This results in a syncopated sound which is the essence of this particular genre. Reggae music carries inspiration from various other genres especially blues and jazz.