King Diamond: The Best Of King Diamond

thebestofkingdiamondAlways got King Diamond mixed up with King Crimson. Still don’t know much about King Crimson except they’re prog. Part of why I don’t know much about them is that they don’t allow their music on streaming services, so screw you guys, I’m going home. But anyway, an intro to King Diamond. You see that picture above? Well, that tells you pretty much all of it. The only thing that’s missing is timeframe (mostly late-80’s) and the fact that there’s a ridiculous amount of falsetto in his style. Growly stuff, too, but it’s the falsetto that really stands out.

And if you can get past that falsetto and the cheesiness of the macabre lyrics (oh, gee, Greek mythology sure had some scary characters in it), you’ll find some late-80’s metal that still stands up almost 25 years later. But that’s a mighty big “if,” one I’m having quite a bit of trouble with myself.

Still, lots of listening has helped me appreciate what’s here. Sonically there’s a lot of overlap with the first three Queensrÿche releases, though of course Geoff Tate’s natural range is so much more appealing than any falsetto. Even lyrically, early Queensrÿche fits a bit here, with its evil woman and vampire themes, though Queensrÿche got plenty more sci-fi-y.

There are also some big concept albums in King Diamond’s discography, and that’s evident here, as songs repeatedly bring back the same names, characters, and elements. There’s lots of Abigail, Miriam, Jonathan, and a very disturbing grandmother that recur. Wikipedia gives run downs of the plots if you’re curious.

But all of that is far more enjoyable than what, from what I can tell, was King Diamond’s big break: “No Presents For Christmas,” a track that throws so much shlock into the mix that it becomes completely unlistenable despite containing some of his best riffs. To be fair, it’s obviously the great, thrashy riffs combined with the ludicrous lyrics that made it so popular. Too much for me, though.

Finally, by rating some of these as “Like,” I was rating them relatively to the rest of the album. It’s very hard for me to say I want to listen to any songs with his falsetto in them ever again. “Abigail” is the best.

Like: “Charon,” “Abigail,” “The Invisible Guests,” “Eye Of The Witch,” “Burn
Meh: “The Candle,” “Halloween,” “No Presents For Christmas,” “Arrival,” “A Mansion In Darkness,” “The Family Ghost,” “Welcome Home,” “Tea,” “At The Graves,” “Sleepless Nights”
Song Notes: After the jump

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Playlist Review: 2014 According To Sub Pop

Sub Pop calling this Soundcloud playlist 2014 According To Sub Pop doesn’t say a lot for 2014 or for Sub Pop’s place in it, both of which I think probably deserve a little more credit than the quality of this playlist would indicate. My faith in the wisdom at Sub Pop combined with the 14/27 meh ratio confirms my theory that there’s just a lot of meh out there; a bunch of hipsters gazing at their navels and iPads, with nothing to say beyond reveling in simple percussion and snoozy snooze tunes.

Here’s the good stuff. This playlist has inspired me to check out albums from Luluc, J Mascis, The Notwist, Lyla Foy, and THUMPERS; and maybe Chad VanGaalen, GOAT, Mogwai, and King Tuff. Everything else I don’t need to dig any deeper into.

And the standout is The Notwist. All three of their songs get “Like,” but that’s like a “really like” for them. And since they’re all great but not shout out loud rise above awesome, I get the feeling the thing might work really well as an entire album.

Anyway, on to the song notes.

  1. Hide From The Sun – GOAT – Off to a good start here as this is just a flat-out good song from Swedish band GOAT. It’s got an upbeat tempo and a Middle-Eastern vibe. Not quite an instrumental, but the only lyrics are “ah ah ah.”
  2. #CAKE – Shabazz Palaces – I don’t understand what’s so mind-blowing about Shabazz Palaces. This is about eating cake. Repeatedly. If you can get past the repetitiveness, it’s a-ite. Maybe the hype was just all from a prior album.
  3. Where Are You (Hooray For Earth Remix) – Chad VanGaalen – The best of VanGaalen’s three tracks on here. The drum beat is what makes it stand out.
  4. Under These Hands – Dum Dum Girls – Zzzzzzz. Dum Dum Girls have a lot of hype around them, too, and maybe that’s also due to a prior album, because there’s nothing to this.
  5. Luluc – Small Window – This is great. I want to hear more from Luluc. If they’re able to mix it up, this kind of stuff can be awesome. If not, it will get old really quickly.
  6. J Mascis – Every Morning – Why did I not like Dinosaur Jr. in high school? I like everything I hear from J Mascis now.
  7. Matamoros – The Afghan Whigs – Not crazy about The Afghan Whigs, but I really like this song.
  8. So What – Avi Buffalo – And here we enter the first extended snooze fest of the playlist. This is nothing. There is nothing to this. Repetitive. Plus it’s repetitive.
  9. Oak Tree – Mirel Wagner – This is nice enough for its genre, but way too repetitive, spending way too much time on the main two chords.
  10. They Come In Gold – Shabazz Palaces – Better than his other one. If I were into listening to lyrics, I might figure out what’s awesome about this guy.
  11. There Is A Light – Rose Windows – Zzzzzz. I bet those All Songs Considered douches love this shit. Inoffensive with some blurry sounds and vocal harmonies. Fucking millenial hippies. I guess if you couldn’t get enough Fleet Foxes or needed them with a female singer, there’s this.
  12. Run Run Run (Ada Remix) – The Notwist – Yes! First new artist on the playlist that excites me, and they do it with all three of their tracks. To be fair, I really do like that Luluc song, but it’s not so much exciting. This is even a bit on the mellow side, but still, hipsters doing sonic experimentation with electronics and they didn’t forget about the songwriting aspect.
  13. Monster – Chad VanGaalen – Too repetitive/squeaky in chorus, but nice lyrics in verses.
  14. Work Work (feat. Cocc Pistol Cree) – Clipping – Again, seems like standard hip-hop to me, not sure what’s so amazing about them. Maybe I should stop taking my amazing cues from the Sub Pop twitter feed. I like the percussion, spesh at the top.
  15. Algiers – The Afghan Whigs – And I like this more than I usually like The Afghan Whigs, too. This would fit on a Gutter Twins record.
  16. Black Is The Color – Shearwater – And the champion of boring, as always…
  17. Where Are You? – Chad Van Gaalen – Like his last one, pretty nice, but a bit ponderous.
  18. Kong – The Notwist – Here’s jangly, upbeat, more straightforward kinda thing, but more awesome. The falsetto is so perfectly off key.
  19. Mercury Dime – Death Vessel – Annoying.
  20. Feather Tongue – Lyla Foy – One of my favorites. Definitely passes some good will on to her second track on here. Sweet synth sounds up top. Could use a bit more development on the songwriting front, but the raw material here is great.
  21. Ilsa Drown – Death Vessel – much better than her prior one on here. That one is probably dragging this one down the same way Lyla Foy’s first one pulls up her second one. Though I think “meh” is a more than fair rating.
  22. Close To The Glass – The Notwist – Closing it out strong for these guys with a cool percussion sound and beat dominating this off-beat track.
  23. Lost Boys And Girls Club – Dum Dum Girls – Kinda hard to believe neither of the Dum Dum Girls tracks got hate given how boring they are. Meh.
  24. Remurdered – Mogwai – Like so much of Mogwai, a real grabber at first, then six minutes later you’re like, “Still?”
  25. Easy – Lyla Foy – Pleasant. Again, pretty much all of the material is presented in the first 45 seconds or so and there’s not a lot of emotional development after that. Still, good.
  26. Unkinder (A Tougher Love) – THUMPERS – A real in your face rocker.
  27. Eyes Of The Muse – King Tuff – Almost a like. Quite a rocker, but there are points where I just…can’t…take it. For the longest time could have sworn he was saying “Look into the eyes of the moose,” which I like a lot better.

Mix: “Every Morning” (J Mascis)
Like: “Hide From The Sun” (GOAT), “Where Are You (Hooray For Earth Remix)” (Chad VanGaalen), “Small Window” (Luluc), “Matamoros” (The Afghan Whigs), “Run Run Run (Ada Remix)” (The Notwist), “Kong” (The Notwist), “Feather Tongue” (Lyla Foy), “Close To The Glass” (The Notwist), “Easy” (Lyla Foy), “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” (THUMPERS)
Meh: “#CAKE” (Shabazz Palaces), “Under These Hands” (Dum Dum Girls), “So What” (Avi Buffalo), “Oak Tree” (Mirel Wagner), “They Come In Gold” (Shabazz Palaces), “There Is A Light” (Rose Windows), “Monster” (Chad VanGaalen), “Work Work (feat. Cocc Pistol Cree)” (Clipping), “Algiers” (The Afghan Whigs), “Black Is The Color” (Shearwater), “Where Are You? (Chad VanGaalen), “Ilsa Drown” (Death Vessel), “Lost Boys And Girls Club” (Dum Dum Girls), “Remurdered” (Mogwai), “Eyes Of The Muse” (King Tuff)
Hate: “Mercury Dime” (Death Vessel)