I bet the metal fans hate this album. Since I’m more of a post-rock / shoegazer fan, I find it brilliant. Also, gutsy. It takes bravery to risk change that alienates a portion of your fan base.
I sold this album when cash got short, but “Foolish” is one of those songs that just pop into my head for no reason. So on a recent trip to the thrift shop, I welcomed this album back in my collection and discovered how well it’s held up since its release. Yeah, it’s a bit long — as albums of the CD era are wont to do — but the best bits overshadow the filler.
Gang of Four, 77-81
This sprawling boxed set of Gang of Four’s first two albums contains a full live album, an EP of singles and a cassette tape of early demos.
I bought the vinyl version back in March, but I also wanted to pick up the CD boxed set as well. The packaging is stark but beautiful. My only objection is the digital downloads that accompany the CD set. The sides of the digitized cassette are not broken down by track. But I have to admit, that is punk as fuck.
Jam and Lewis, Volume 1
Yeah, it’s about damn time Jam and Lewis took top billing. There are singers of whom I probably would never have heard if they hadn’t worked with Jam and Lewis.
Cyndi Lauper, True Colors
Similar to ZZ Top’s Afterburner, True Colors followed an immensely popular album, and while its predecessor had more hits, this album is the better collection of songs. Despite incredibly corporate covers of the title tracks in subsequent years, the original has some daring arrangement choices, particularly the fake ending with just percussion, an underrated technique in pop production.
Jeff Mangum, Live at Jittery Joe’s
If you are a fan of On Avery Island or In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, there is little you’ll find objectionable on this solo live album.
Camper Van Beethoven / Cracker, The Virgin Years
The compilation was only made available as a promo, but it’s one that ought to get an official release. As the title indicates, it compiles tracks from two Camper Van Beethoven albums and two Cracker albums, all released by Virgin in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Craig Armstrong, Nocturnes: Music for Two Pianos, Sept. 3
Armstrong wrote and recorded this album during lockdown, as pretty much every other musician trying to make sense of this awful zeitgeist.
James Blake, Friends That Break Your Heart, Sept. 10
I really liked Assume Form, but man, I hate the cover of this album.
MONO, Pilgrimage of the Soul, Sept. 17
Takaakira Goto hints that this album might have the fastest tempi on a MONO album, which is a direction I didn’t expect but more than welcome.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar (50th Anniversary), Sept. 17
Whatever you may think of Andrew Lloyd Webber now, back in the day, he was gutsy enough to make rock bands sound like Prokofiev, and that blur between electric guitars and dissonant harmonies has shaped my musical tastes ever since. So yeah, I’m all about an expanded version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Perfume, Polygon Wave, Sept. 22
I find it cool that 20+ years into a storied pop career, Perfume releases their first ever EP. They have tons of singles and a lot of albums. But EPs? Nah.
BADBADNOTGOOD, Talk Memory, Oct. 8
My enthusiasm for this new album is based entirely on III, which means I have three other albums with which I can either enhance or temper that enthusiasm.
Garbage, Garbage, Aug. 27
A repressing of a 2015 reissue.
Tokyo Jihen, Education (Kyouiku), Sept. 29 Tokyo Jihen, Adult (Otona), Sept. 29 Tokyo Jihen, Variety (Goraku), Sept. 29 Tokyo Jihen, Sports, Sept. 29 Tokyo Jihen, Discovery (Daihakken), Sept. 29 Tokyo Jihen, Music, (Ongaku), Sept. 29
You’re damn right I’m getting all 6 albums, even if I really only like two of the them.
This album has a lot of attitude, which it should given Kesha’s well-publicized legal battles. It’s fundamentally a pop album, with rock and country providing a gritty sheen.
ZZ Top, Afterburner
Eliminator has the bigger hits, but Afterburner is the better album.
Prefab Sprout, Two Wheels Good (a.k.a Steve McQueen)
Prefab Sprout is one of those bands about whom I knew without actually hearing their music. So it was nice to discover they fell somewhere between Yaz and ABC in their pursuit of a jazzy new wave sound.
TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
I didn’t get TV on the Radio at first. The few excerpts I heard seemed unfocused and tuneless. But I picked up their albums from thrift shop to see if I could eventually understand. By then, I had listened to more hip-hop and R&B and realized the band is Black af. A decade and a half ago, my rockist collection had little room for Black voices.
Aceyalone, All Balls Don’t Bounce
I confess to sacrilege — I didn’t pay attention to the lyrics on this album. The beats are too damn distracting.
The National, Trouble Will Find Me
The National is one of those bands I like, but I would not consider myself a fan. I would seem demographically suited to be one, given the rest of my collection, but I just haven’t been convinced enough to jump in two-footed. But I do like Boxer and this album.