In an ongoing effort to better understand the many classic albums of L.A., we’ve come upon an equation that gets to the heart of the matter without much thinking, analysis, verbiage or any of those other “old-model” music criticism techniques. Specifically, we’ve been enjoying Wordle.net, the “word cloud”–generating Web site that analyzes words based on the frequency of occurrence. The process is shockingly simple: Just cut and paste a bunch of text into a box at the site, and within moments a word cloud appears, and adjusts font size to coincide with the number of appearances.
A few weeks ago we input the entirety of the Beach Boys’ classic Pet Sounds into the software, and came up with a revealing glimpse at the melancholy within one of the most important albums of the 1960s. This past week we had fun with N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton. (For up-to-the-minute West Coast Sound word clouds of classic L.A. albums, check our Web site for this regular feature.)
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For this installment, we’ve moved into 1980s punk-rock L.A. and tossed all the confusing, depressed, drunken, hardcore lyrics of Black Flag’s Damaged into Wordle. With songs such as “Rise Above,” “T.V. Party” and “Gimme Gimme Gimme,” the 1981 album is a touchstone of rock & roll angst — as illustrated below.