Bowie, NIN slip under radar with albums

"Aladdin Sane" by David Bowie, left, and "The Slip" by Nine Inch Nails.

Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 2:37 p.m.

Bill Dean, entertainment editor of The Gainesville Sun, grew up listening to rock 'n' roll, soul and country in the 1970s. Aurora Dominguez, of Hollywood, Fla. grew up listening to pop music in the 1990s. They are from different generations, but they are both music lovers with an open mind. Each week, they swap CDs in hopes of broadening their musical horizons.

This week, Aurora listens to...

“ALADDIN SANE” from David Bowie (1973)

AURORA: Bill, I love David Bowie. And this is very different Bowie than what I'm used to, yet I enjoyed this album very much. While he might be known for such albums as “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust,” it's the under-the-radar stuff that can really catch a music lover's ear. This is one of those best-kept secrets.

BILL: It was a left turn for Bowie after “Ziggy,” which came out the previous year, but it continued his rise in the early '70s with pulsating tracks like “The Jean Genie,” a huge hit in England.

AURORA: You suggested I keep an ear out for some key tracks and I definitely enjoyed his cover of The Rolling Stones tune, “Let's Spend the Night Together.” Rockin' and sexy.

BILL: That caught a lot of people by surprise, as did “Panic in Detroit,” one of the heaviest tracks on any Bowie album.

AURORA: The city of Detroit must have loved being part of a David Bowie tune. His description of a Michigan revolutionary was high-class, and it gives sense to a time and place in history. Then again, that's just Bowie ... a chapter, a definitive one, in music history.

This week, Bill listens to...

“The Slip” from Nine Inch Nails (2008)

BILL: Only one year and two albums after giving his record company, Interscope, the slip in 2007, Trent Reznor inhaled the magic elixir of independence and exhaled “The Slip,” one of his most interesting and often intoxicating albums to date, Aurora.

AURORA: It's safe to say that this is one of the deepest albums by the band. The music is catchy and takes you elsewhere with every tune.

BILL: His vocals sound as blurry and furious as ever, but what really blasts my cochlea this time around are the varied instrumental sounds he unleashes, like on “Head Down,” where his keyboards rear their heads like cobras about to spit, and “Demon Seed,” in which the snapping and cracking drums take center stage with Reznor's vocals tucked in the background as if hugging the woofers like blankets.

AURORA: Was there anything that made less of an impression on you?

BILL: I was less moved by the slowed-down moments on some tracks such as “The Four of Us Are Dying,” which vibrates like a techno machine that swallowed a valium. But hey, an untethered Trent is an experimental Trent at his most earnest. Even if all the results don't melt your iPod, they're always good for meaningful listens.

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