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Rdio Reviews, Vol. 3

Yuck: Glow and Behold

Well, at least we’ll always have that first album.

Def Leppard: Viva! Hysteria

Joe Elliott can’t hit the high notes quite as forcefully as he used to, but otherwise, Def Leppard sounds pretty fantastic here. It’s impressive to hear an album as quintessentially overproduced as Hysteria pulled off live this faithfully, and 25 years later at that. (Of course, the band has had plenty of recent practice aping its younger self by recording verbatim recreations of its classic hits to spite its domineering record label.)

For my money, though, the real gold here is in the opening set (sequenced after Hysteria’s main event on this album). Comprised mainly of deep cuts from Def Leppard’s three pre-Hysteria albums – even “Good Morning Freedom,” a 1980 B-side that has yet to see a reissue, is excavated – it puts a grand spotlight on the days the band still maintained something of an edge. And somehow, even amidst the glitz of a Las Vegas residency and subsequent decades of polished, pedestrian pop tunes (some of which are also unfortunately included), these fantastic early songs mostly retain their swagger.

As a huge fan of early Def Leppard who never got to see the band in its heyday, I think it would have been worth trudging into the cesspool that is Las Vegas to experience this show.

Diarrhea Planet: “White Girls (Student of the Blues, Pt. 1)”

Parts of this song remind me of Menthol’s “USA Capable” (which isn’t currently available on Rdio).

Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else

Energetic, catchy, fuzzy lo-fi with solid songwriting. On paper, I might not find that description enticing, but I think the monster rhythm section is what sells it for me. Great stuff.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Days of Abandon

I once knew a guy who, while gazing up at a clear night sky with a young lady companion, pointed at the brightest star and softly declared, “That’s your star.” This album is thirty-seven saccharine minutes of that same eye-roll-inducing sentiment. Kip Berman has never been a particularly artful lyricist, but at least the band’s early recordings were able to musically express an understanding of romantic love more complicated than that of your average Tigerbeat subscriber. The songs were sweet, but they also had a manic, noisy energy to them, and the production was more murky than gauzy. It was euphoric but tentative, and its vulnerability was endearing. That’s all gone now. This album is the soundtrack to a Hallmark card.

The Meatmen: Savage Sagas

I can’t decide if Tesco and the boys resurfacing the same week as #YesAllWomen is the worst timing ever or the best.

White Lung: Deep Fantasy

Man, this is great. Better produced and more melodic and varied than White Lung’s previous efforts, without sacrificing any of the band’s frantic aggression. The howling vocals, the intricate guitar lines, the four-on-the-floor stomp – this record kills.

Skinny Puppy: “Smothered Hope”

A friend once said that early Skinny Puppy sounded like “someone left Depeche Mode out on the counter overnight,” which I think is a perfect description. I don’t think he meant it as a compliment, but I do.