Records of the Week With Ted and Jon Week #25
Each Friday, Editors Ted Nubel and Jon Rosenthal [usually] will share their picks for Records of the Week—not necessarily what's out this week, just whatever's on our mind or on our record players.
In the absence of my beloved dog Nicholas who passed away a few weeks ago (in case you were wondering where I've been), I've found myself either a) not listening to music at all or b) diving deep into comfort albums like this one. Tonight's Decision generally lives in the shadow of its predecessor, Katatonia's genre-pivoting Discouraged Ones (which is, admittedly, my favorite Katatonia album), but this particular album shows these Swedes filling out their proverbial shoes a little better and moving beyond the charming growing pains which made Discouraged Ones so interesting. The moments I've spent with this album since Nicky's death have been emotional and filled with nostalgia. Lots of tears. Lots of memories. I love you, buddy.
Rage Against the Machine
Yes, Chat Pile's delightful cover of "Bulls on Parade" at Roadburn this past weekend put this record on my mind–but it's definitely worth noting that Evil Empire was one of the first CDs I ever bought, part of my first real foray into heavy(ish) music after hearing "Wake Up" at the end of The Matrix. I guess we all get started somehow, right? (A few years before this I'd rented Master of Puppets from the library, but then forgot to listen to it - an early preview into my adulthood specialty of forgetting to do shit)
Zack de la Rocha's furious lyrical delivery and Tom Morello's creative combination of riffing and noise-crafting serve up another incredibly potent dose of rap-rock fusion that the band's self-titled debut formulated, although this time it feels more frustrated, and perhaps faster - it's a shorter album with slightly shorter songs. All of which slap–I guess I'd pick "Revolver" as a favorite. The fantastic rhythm section on the record helps cement its longevity, too - it's still baffling that RATM drummer Brad Wilk ended up playing with Black Sabbath on 13, however. Weird choice, you know?
As a still-in-high-school kid discovering this band about ten years after they'd released the record, Evil Empire and the rest of Rage Against the Machine's work was a gateway into a glimpse of just how fucked up the world was, and how the U.S. was not, actually, a blameless paragon of democracy. Beyond just musically kicking ass, the messages that RATM passed on are frustratingly timeless chronicles of the powerless' eternal struggle–it's kind of awe-inspiring, if sad, how many of these songs apply just as well today.