At the onset of the 1980s, ABBA quietly disappeared. They broke up, but from what I remember, they never publicized it. No big announcement. No farewell tour. Just the inevitability of tastes moving on without them. It took a decade before audiences realized how much they missed the quartet, by which time, they shut door on a possible reunion. Until it actually happened, and the world lost its collective shit, myself included.
Electric Light Orchestra, Time
Following the movie musical excess of Xanadu, Electric Light Orchestra downsized the orchestral part of their sound to include more synthesizers. As such, Time dabbles a toe into new wave but does not fully dive in. I can’t confess to being the target market of ELO’s pre-Xanadu work, but this tentative detour appeals to me.
Styx, Kilroy Was Here
Similar to ELO, Styx also went into a more keyboard-oriented sound with Kilroy Was Here, and like Time, it doesn’t completely abandon the band’s core sound. So it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a new wave detour, even if the synthesizer effects give it that early 80s sheen. But as established by Time, I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.
Falco, Falco 3
The American vinyl pressing of Falco 3 replaced the two big hits of the album — “Rock Me Amadeus” and “Vienna Calling” — with unimpressive remixes. As a cost-conscious teen of the late ’80s, I could not abide by this bait-and-switch and sold my copy to a used music shop months after the purchase. I would not think of the album 39 years till a tinge of nostalgia and a reasonably-priced used copy brought the title back into my collection. The remainder of the album wasn’t bad, but I still wanted those single edits. Thankfully, an anniversary CD reissue of the album included the mixes of my youth.
Helmet, Live and Rare
I am by no means an officiando on the works of Helmet, but I have a sense I would have preferred the Big Day Out set over the CBGB’s set back in my youth of the early ’90s. Today? I much prefer the CBGB set.
Tokyo Jihen, Sougou
This two-disc retrospective of Tokyo Jihen isn’t limited just to singles, otherwise it could have easily fit onto once disc. Once the material enters the post-Sports era, I have to admit I lost interest. So the first disc is probably going to get more spins than the second if you have the same reaction.
In the past, I would try to write about every album I encountered. These days, I listen to a lot of stuff, but I’ll only post an entry if something sparks a memory.
As these statistics demonstrate, I’m leaving a lot out of this blog.
First and last purchases of the year
The first and last purchases of the year are determined by the date of order. Pre-ordered items not yet shipped have already been taken into account.
First purchase: Cocco, Kuchinashi on CD.
First purchase of a 2021 release: Anton Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered (Ivan Ilić) on CD.
Last purchase of a 2021 release: Tokyo Jihen, Sougou on CD
Last purchase: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, F# A# ∞ on LP.
Purchases by format
Total items bought
Initial release within the calendar year.
Originally released prior to the calendar year but reissued within the calendar year.
Initial release prior to the calendar year.
Top catalog release years
Number of items purchased
Single titles purchased in multiple formats are counted individually.
Number of items purchased
The Rolling Stones
Adam Neely posts singles and EPs, so his recorded output is not as prolific as it may seem.
My policy with regard to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones is to avoid paying more than $3 for their CDs, which means I’m usually finding them at thrift stores. It’s actually surprisingly common to see mid-90s Beatles remasters show up for $1.
You would think an Emmylou Harris stan such as myself would have already bought every recording in sight. I’ve held out on the Profile compilations because I have other compilations that contain that music. I keep hoping to find Light in the Stable on CD at the thrift store.
Over the years, I’ve posited that 1987 and 2002 were significant years in music releases. I’m beginning to sense 1980 is also such a year, not just because I was old enough to bug my mom to buy stuff for me.
I can’t say I expected much from 2021 given how Generation X has turned out to be such dumb fucks, but I didn’t anticipate those expectations should have been lower. If the current trajectory holds, 2022 can already go fuck itself.
At least we got a new ABBA album out of the deal.
ABBA, Voyage: When Frida sang the opening notes of “I Still Have Faith in You,” I hadn’t realized how starved I was to hear that voice, those voices. Voyage also pulls off the remarkable feat of picking up exactly where the band left off in 1982, practically ignoring the musical developments that came in the wake of ABBA’s hiatus. It makes sense for the virtual live show. Why let 2022 intrude on 1982? It’s also remarkable how the band’s lyrics are darker than I remember. But I was 8 years old the first time I was an ABBA fan, so a lot of that subtext would have been lost on me.
Duran Duran, FUTURE PAST: ABBA shows how you can take the past into the present. Duran Duran takes the future into the past. Duran Duran has always tried to run parallel with the contemporary, but on some albums, they skew too heavy on relevancy. (I’m looking at you, Red Carpet Massacre.) With FUTURE PAST, Duran Duran embraces its past self, grounding all the experience of a 4-decade career into the fundamentals that make their signature sound.
Deafheaven, Infinite Granite: Yes, I’m far more into post-rock than heavy metal, so the fact this album embrace more of the former and less of the latter does not disappoint me in the least. Toward the end of the album, we do get treated to the scream vocals.
sungazer, Perihelion: Adam Neely is correct when he says recorded music has been too de-valued to be a reliable income source. As much as I love this sungazer album, I’m not going to complain if the next one takes years to arrive, if it ever does.
Utada Hikaru, One Last Kiss EP: I don’t think I’ve spun an Utada Hikaru song this much since “Be My Last”. I also love that all the remixes of “Beautiful World” are distinctive enough to withstand repeated listening.
Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, Ramble in Music City: The Lost Concert: Glad to hear it’s lost no longer.
Jam and Lewis, Volume 1: There’s a melodic turn at the end of the chorus on “Happily Unhappy” that pretty much encapsulates the longevity of Jam and Lewis. Volume 2 reportedly includes the pair’s biggest collaborator, Janet.
MONO, Pilgrimage of the Soul: I seem to like every other MONO album since Hymn to the Immortal World. Couldn’t get into For My Parents …, The Last Dawn or Now Here Nowhere, but I’m all about Requiem for Hell, Rays of Darkness and this album.
Helmet, Live and Rare: I have only the first three Helmet albums in my collection, but this live album makes me wish I had seen them live.
FINNEAS, Optimist: Sorry, Billie.
Some other favorites from the past year:
Yo Majesty, Return of the Matriarch: Q: Will sex, God, and titties continue to be a part of the Yo! Majesty brand? A: Anything less is uncivilized. It’s time to be free.
Lil Nas X, MONTERO: Given the amount of time I spend in thrift shops, I have a bias against streaming-only releases. For the price Columbia is charging for downloads, I may as well wait for a physical release. I like this album, but downloading FLAC files from Bandcamp is the closest I’ll consider owning a digital release. I’m old that way.
Perfume, Polygon Wave: Yeah, this was really a maxi single. But I couldn’t stop playing this one either.
CZARFACE / MF DOOM, Super What?: To be honest, I don’t own very many MF DOOM albums, but man, that was a 2020 loss that affected me more than I expected.
Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, Thanks for Coming: This album is good, but I have a sense that it could have been phenomenal with a few more tweaks.
It’s been five years since I discovered the media section of Lifelong Thrift Shop, and I’m at a point where I’m making fewer discoveries. These days, I pick things up because they pique my curiosity, and I anticipate I’ll be re-donating a lot of the albums I bought in the past year.
Still, the vast majority of my listening these days is catalog, as the Favorite Edition Year Final will make clear. In the past, I might have scoffed at someone as new and popular as Olivia Rodrigo. Now? I shrug and follow the mantra, “Let people like things.”
There’s a lot of music out on which I missed when I sought the dopamine hit of finding a new favorite band.
Riz Ahmed, The Long Goodbye:Rogue One is probably my favorite movie in the Star Wars extended universe, and Riz Ahmed is big part of why. I’m usually skeptical of Hollywood actors making music, but The Long Goodbye is amazing. It’s a breakup record, but with an entire country. The interludes don’t even feel that arch.
Linda Ronstadt, Mad Love: “Hurt So Bad” drew my attention this album, which I then discovered had some solid post-punk credentials on it. I still don’t think calling it her “new wave” album is entirely accurate, though.
The Fixx, Reach the Beach: I bought this album on the strength of “One Thing Leads to Another” alone, but I was surprised to find “Save By Zero” on there.
Kelela, Take Me Apart: I love that today’s R&B artists draw on influence outside the genre. This album feels more like Utada Hikaru.
Laurie Anderson, Big Science: I have two other Laurie Anderson albums that did not answer the question why she’s so lauded. Then this album popped up at the thrift store, and it became clear.
Alexander O’Neal, Hearsay: This album did well at the time, and it’s definitely a fine production by Jam and Lewis.
Test Pattern, This Is My Street: Man, I want an entire physical release of this Documentary Now! parody of Stop Making Sense.
Brothers Johnson, Light Up the Night: Sure, this album was made in the last throes of disco, but there is some mighty fine playing here. And “Stomp!” is timeless.
Electric Light Orchestra, Time: I’m definitely not the target market for the orchestral classic rock of ELO, but this album was essentially the band’s detour into new wave. And I’m all for that.
A Taste of Honey, Twice as Sweet: Yes, this album concludes with “Sukiyaki”, but the 9 tracks preceding it are no slouch.
Big Pig, Bonk
Arditti Quartet, Arditti
Control Machete, Artillería Pesada, Presenta …
Prefab Sprout, Two Wheels Good (a.k.a Steve McQueen)