I liked Rogue One probably a lot more than an average Star Wars fan might, so I was willing to entertain Riz Ahmed’s hip-hop work with the usual skepticism afforded to Hollywood actors dabbling in music. This work is no dilettante effort. Ahmed prosecutes the societal forces in the UK that brought about Brexit in an astonishing performance.
Wayne Horvitz, Live Forever, Vol. 1: The President – New York in the 80s
Wayne Horvitz dives into his archive to surface this must-have collection of live recordings and outtakes.
Kelela, Take Me Apart
I love how modern day R&B artists are willing to blur the lines between pop music and indie rock.
I’ve known about this album since it was first released in 1987, but I was too young at the time to have understood the impact of the Minutemen on independent rock.
sungazer, vol. I sungazer, vol. 2 Adam Neely, time//motion//wine
I never paid much attention to YouTube till I learned about Adam Neely and music theory YouTube. It’s been a year now since I discovered his channel, and YouTube has since eclipsed Science Channel as my television entertainment of choice. Neely’s own music combines electronic beats with rhythmically complex jazz, and while I enjoy watching him explain music theory, I sometimes wish the YouTube algorithm would give him enough slack to create more music.
What is the memory you most associate with this title?
I don’t actually have a specific memory tied to this album. It was released before Nick Lachey became a reality TV star, and it was one of dozens of teen pop albums released in the wake of ‘NSync and Backstreet Boys. But for some inexplicable reason, I’m always kind of rooting for Lachey.
I recognize that he’s pretty, and that is probably clouding a lot of my judgment. But I bought Revelation in the interest of understanding why teen pop became so ascendant in the late 90s / early 2000s. (I failed.) When his marriage to Jessica Simpson went on the rocks, his interview with Rolling Stone actually humanized him for me. Also, he posed shirtless in the photo shoot for the article.
So, yeah, I’ll cop to buying this album because sometimes, I just like the pretty faces on the album cover.
What was happening in your life when it was released?
Earlier in 2000, I left my job with the newspaper for an even worse one with a startup. I didn’t last more than 2 months before a friend of mine recommended me for a job at her company. I would stay at that job for 18 months before getting laid off.
But it marked the pivot when I stopped being a journalist and started being a web developer. I learned on the job, but I had already trained through community college classes and self-built projects.
I developed enough of an aptitude for programming that I managed to survive a few rounds of lay-offs before getting the ax in August 2001. Getting paid to program, however, insured I would never go back to journalism.
What was happening in your life when you bought it?
Revelation was released in Sept. 2000 and by Nov. 2000, I had already posted a review of the album. That would seem to indicate I may have bought the album shortly after its release. Perhaps even on release day.
It’s also possible I had downloaded the album through the Evil Sharing Networks before committing to purchasing it.
All that to say, the previous answer applies to this answer.
I will say this time of my life was my first bout of financial security. I was earning enough of a salary that car repair expenses didn’t tank me, and I could afford to buy incredibly expensive Japanese indie rock albums from overseas.
Because of that prosperity, I started to build a home recording studio. I dropped money on Cakewalk 9.0, and bought a bass guitar and electric guitar. I went so far as to start taking guitar lessons, bringing in band scores of my favorite Japanese artists to my instructor.
Oh, and also — I registered the domain name “musicwhore.org” and consolidated all the pieces of music writing I published under other site names.
What do you think of it now?
I am less severe on teen pop today than I was at the time of the album’s release. So a lot of the things I said in the original review probably still apply, just without the rockist attitude.
I have spotted the original self-titled 98 Degrees debut album at the thrift shop a number of times, but I have so far resisted completing my collection. (The previous sentence implies that I also own the group’s comeback album, 2.0, from 2013, and you would be correct.) I did, however, finally pick up Nick Lachey’s solo debut.
Kids get fascinated by the weirdest things. Don’t tell me you don’t have some souvenir to remind you of some random thing that just consumed your attention, something that Adult You just has to shrug and ask, “WTF??”
In 2019, my mom found a portion of a long-missing vinyl collection, and one of the records in that stash was the soundtrack to a television show called :20 Minute Workout.
:20 Minute Workout is exactly what the title says — a 20-minute exercise show with 10 minutes of commercials to fill out the full half-hour slot. My mom did the workouts, and we watched while she did them. At some point, we watched the show just to watch the show, workout or no.
My sci-fi geekery cottoned onto the THX-1138-style set — a featureless white set that looked like a spare room in Princess Leia’s shuttle. The workout instructors wore color-coordinated leotards, complete with the requisite 80s leg warmers. The wireless mic set worn by the lead instructor looked like a communication device used to keep contact with a mothership.
The synth-heavy music did little to dispel the futurism of the show. Disco was in its last throes, but new wave made everything sound mechanical and chic. So as the workout instructor ran through the aerobics routine, the music eventually grabbed my attention.
The show’s success meant more opportunities to monetize, and eventually ads began running during breaks hawking the soundtrack to the show.
This album was not something you could stick in your cart at the store. You had to send a check or money order to the address on the television screen and wait for it in the mail. Someone had to pester the parents to put that level of effort to get it, and that duty was gleefully mine.
The show was such a hit, the instructors actually went on tour. I know — I dragged the family down to Ala Moana Center to get an autograph.
I came to my senses eventually, and once I started junior high, I stashed the record album with my dad’s records so as not to remind myself of what a weirdo I was. I eventually forgot the show or that the record even existed.
Then my mom texted me a photo of the cover when she found the stash. Hell, yeah, I had to get that album in my possession.
I wish I could say the music album transcends its source, and that I could find deeper musical meaning of which I wasn’t aware as a pre-pre-teen. But no — this music was designed for the gymnasium, and it serves its purpose well.
But man, do I enjoy the memories this album conjures, awkward though they may be.
At the start of 2021, sea shanty TikTok was a thing. Of course, I had to reply, “I’m more of a waulking songs / mouth music person myself.”
In the mid-90s, a friend of mine and I got heavily into Celtic music. Enya, of course, had to go sing in Irish Gaelic, which led to Clannad, which led to the Shanachie label, which led to Talitha MacKenzie.
Tower Records featured her album Solas on a listening station, and sampling the first two tracks of the album got me hooked. I played the album just about nonstop on my DiscMan throughout 1994. Further research led down the rabbit hole of Scottish music, with its shanties, waulking songs and mouth music.
And also the band, Mouth Music.
Mackenzie was original member of the duo, before creative difference led to a split which resulted in Solas. A pair of songs MacKenzie recorded on Solas also appear on Mouth Music’s self-titled debut. I bought it thinking the albums would sound similar.
The only thread between the two is MacKenzie’s voice. Otherwise, they occupy distinct sonic territory.
Mouth Music is sparse compared to Solas and cosmopolitan in ways Solas is not. (It works the other way around — Solas is cosmopolitan in ways Mouth Music is not.)
With Solas, MacKenzie placed traditional music squarely in a contemporary context. Mouth Music straddled the line a bit more, letting the source material have more of a spotlight before being blurred in a cauldron of effects.
I can’t say I was a fan of the approach.
MacKenzie’s version of “Seinn O” dove straight for the dance floor, where the Mouth Music version went for more of an art school vibe. The Mouth Music version of “Chì mi na mórbheanna” went for an ethereal industrial sound, where the Solas version kept to its folk roots.
Solas felt joyous, where Mouth Music was much more cerebral. I chose MacKenzie and eventually sold Mouth Music for cash.
On my frequent visits to the thrift shop, I would see Mouth Music albums pass through the shelves with enough regularity that I knew I could re-acquire the album at a bargain. Spotting it in the $0.10 bin provided the right opportunity.
I’m not as severe on the album now. When I listened to Mouth Music the first time around, I cast it in context of another. Enough time has passed that I can extricate the two and appreciate both approaches.
It’s a rarity, but it happens — I will find Japanese indie rock at the thrift shop.
Most finds are bands with deals in the US, but a handful have been long-time favorites. I never got around to buying ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s Surf Bungaku Kamakura till I spotted it at Lifelong.
But when I see Japanese text on the spine of a CD, I’m drawn to it immediately.
Such is the case with Sanka Sanbusaku (Hymn Trilogy) by bloom field. The band’s name, unfortunately, is a search engine optimization nightmare, so I bought it with the intent to do further research later.
Judging by the length of the tracks and the cover art, I guessed correctly bloom field was a post-rock band. They’re not as dense on the effects as MONO, downy or envy. Rather, the trio hews closer to Slint.
Like the better post-rock albums, the three pieces on the half-hour EP unfold organically, starting quietly and building to a wall of distortion. The 7- to 10-minute length of the “hymns” never overstay their welcome. The middle track, “Noumin Sanka”, does go a bit overboard with the fake vinyl surface noise.
Where contemporaries such as downy and MONO sit closer to the metal end of the post-rock spectrum, bloom field is more like the Album Leaf and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Not much information exists about bloom field, even though their incredibly ancient official site has an English version. The discography section indicates the band lasted from approximately 2001-2009. Not a bad run.
Information is so scant, in fact, that the Discogs entry for the album was entered by me, including the hi-res scan of the cover. If you want to hear the EP for yourself, it looks like it was uploaded to YouTube.