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Aztec Camera Song Reviews

High Land, Hard Rain

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High Land, Hard Rain

Oblivious A

This light and poppy guitar-oriented pop song never loses its welcome for one fraction of a second! That's how good it is!! Naturally, its utterly infectious melody and unforgettable melody is its primary attraction, but also the furious bossa-nova-ish guitar playing throughout with some rollicking hits from an electric organ is its primary appeal. I do have several complaints to make, but just know that it isn't actually enough to want to warrant stripping it of an A+ rating. The chorus does seem to repeat an awful lot, and the instrumentalists do all they can to keep changing around the texture to make it seem fresh. Well, that wasn't as successful as it might have been. Also, the ending consists of them playing the chorus again and just hitting one note. WEAK! But I'm just nitpicking! This is a song that warrants one billion listens.

The Boy Wonders A-

Here, they're beginning to show their Scottish roots. (Well, the intro sounds like it to me, laddie!!) They're absolutely not letting up with the excitement energy. This is just as well played as "Oblivious" and they still have a good idea about how to properly develop a song to keep it sounding fresh. Alas, its only shortcoming is that the melody isn't nearly as infectious as "Oblivious." Hm.

Walk Out to Winter B+

Their rapidly played bossa nova guitar is a novelty that sounds fresh and incredibly fun to hear. Combine that with some of those wily guitar solos, and you've got another classic! This track has quite a decent melody except their tendency to keep on repeating it doesn't work as well as it did in "Oblivious," because it tends to get stale. Just the same, I shall never tire of listening to their sound!

The Bugle Sounds Again A-

They're slowing down the pace to deliver a ballad of sorts. That's a mighty good idea since you can only have so many freaking fast songs per album before you go nuts. (Of course, The Ramones prove that wrong.) Well, this is another mightily wonderful song. The melody is catchy and the instrumentation is extremely solid. I especially like that bass guitar that's mixed clearly, and that goofy bugle-like synthesizer at the end was a nice touch. What's more, there's a push to make it more dramatic by the end, and that's always a great idea.

We Could Send Letters A+

This is excellent!! This isn't fundamentally different from their other songs except this one's much more engaging and even uplifting. This is even better than "Oblivious" if I ever actually thought that was remotely possible. At a running length of six minutes, they deliver not just a catchy melody, but some of the most beautiful sounds ever to come out of a post-punk/college-rock album. Naturally, the guitar is strumming away as usual, but the band also provides some beautiful piano and some gorgeous vocal 'ahhs' in the chorus. It doesn't matter that I haven't heard every college-rock album; it doesn't change that fact. The only minor complaint I have is the ending. They really struggle to come up with good endings, don't they?

Pillar to Post A

This is definitely one of the main highlights of the album (as if the rest of the album weren't highlights). This one starts out with a stiff riff, but after that they deliver more of their special brand of college-rock with their Brazilian connection. The chorus seems like the greatest thing in the world every time it comes up.

Release A-

There. If for one second you doubted their Brazilian connection, here is a full-styled bossa-nova in all its glory. There's the light, rhythmic electric guitar, a breezy bass riff and a shuffley drum beat. For good effect they give it a rock'n'roll drum beat event and an electric organ. The melody is rather catchy though not nearly as affecting as the previous two tracks. The good news is this constitutes the one of best ending of the album so far with the organist going a little nutso.

Lost Outside the Tunnel A

Great chord progression! It's a little strange but still works to draw me in like magic! The instrumentation is particularly unique here; they bring in some atmospheric synthesizers this time, and that lightly tapping woody percussion instrument was a great touch. Most importantly, this song has great energy and quite dazzling development. This is also great, because this is unique to lend the album some great diversity, but it doesn't seem out of place whatsoever. Their endings just keep getting better, too. I love that rolling drum at the end.

Back on Board B+

Wait a minute??? Shouldn't they start getting boring sometime soon? NO!! Fortunately, this song isn't actually boring! It's laid back, remarkably pleasant and the melody is rather complex and developed. This is one of the album's lesser songs only because it doesn't really do much that interests me ... especially compared to the music that I already heard from them. But still... this is good music to sit back and soak up. They even bring in some harmonica at the end! How utterly charming! I raised this up from a regular B for the harmonica and the Booker T. style organ-work. ...Interestingly, they completely bypassed the idea of having an ending by fading in the beginning of the following track at the end of this. Yeah, that wasn't one of their best ideas......

Down the Dip B+

Here is a brief folk song with a bouncy acoustic guitar and a simple, likable melody. They're able to convincingly pull off this song to the point when I couldn't quite lower the song score to a regular 'B.' I tried rationalizing a lower rating, too, and I couldn't quite do it. It's just too tuneful and, most importantly, likable.

Haywire B-

Well, I don't have any reservations about this rating! This is the worst song of the album, but I guess that's just a testament to how good the album is. I do think they shirked the instrumentation a bit. It consists of a skillfully played though not-that-interesting acoustic guitar, and a workable melody. The percussion consists of a simple tambourine. That transition to the chorus is the most awkward thing of the album, although I will give them credit for at least making it sound unconventional. This is an engaging song, but this is where they're getting a little sloppy and not-so-likable.

Orchid Girl B

Back to the bossa nova stuff! Unfortunately this album seems poised to go out with a whimper instead of a shout, because apart from the previous track this is quite easily the worst song on the album. Its use of bossa nova style is met with a shrug and a ho hum from me, because they sounded so much more fresh and excited with it earlier. But anyway, I shall never deny that this is also a nice and likable song.

Queen's Tattoos A-

But at least they usher the album out on such a high note. They utilize their light and poppy sound not to emulate bossa nova ideas, but country-western ideas. The result is a bouncy and enjoyable "novelty song" that bears an uncanny resemblance to '90s alternative group The Barenaked Ladies. The melody is fine, but the real attraction here is the energetic instrumentation (especially that extremely involved drumming).

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