I’m old enough now that I can no longer be mistaken for someone remotely connected to the zeitgeist. A phrase I would often employ was, “I know of them, but I’ve not heard from them.” These days, the first part of that phrase is a stretch.
That said, I’m surprised by the number of R&B titles that have crept into my playlist rotation. I’m still a rockist at heart, but rock is loosening its grip on my attention.
Sturgill Simpson, Sound & Fury: How was Sturgill Simpson ever going to top A Sailor’s Guide to Earth? He didn’t. He veered so drastically in a different direction that the albums can’t be compared. None of his albums can be compared to each other.
Torche, Admission: Torche can be found under the metal section of most music stores, but when I play their albums, I hear post-rock.
Weezer, Weezer (Teal Album): It’s a karaoke album, but a painstakingly created one.
Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000: It’s a tall order to compile eight centuries of music into a single program.
John Luther Adams, Become Desert: It was also stirring to hear this piece live.
Cocco, Star Shank: We hear hints of clouds covering the sunniness of Cocco’s later work.
BBMAK, Powerstation: I will not lie — I’ve anticipating this album for most of the year, and I do not care who knows.
Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi: This album is a glorious mess.
Solange, When I Get Home: Similar to Sound and Fury, this album is confounding and fascinating at the same time. There’s nothing on here that matches the tunefulness of A Seat at the Table, and it would be too disruptive to the album’s flow if there were.
Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!: “Basquiat” was playing on the in-store system at Sonic Boom, and it pretty much clinched my decision to get this album.
Like Patti Smith’s Horses, Sound & Fury confounded me. I put the album on repeat, and each listen only heightened my confusion and fascination. Was this My Bloody Valentine reborn as a southern rock band? Was it ZZ Top making the electroclash album it should never, ever record? In the end, it’s just Sturgill Simpson applying his work ethic to fucking with our minds.
Cocco, Star Shank
I don’t think I’ve heard Cocco scream with the kind of abandon she does on this album. It’s almost uncharacteristic now that she’s let a lot more sunshine into her music.
I didn’t realize how much I missed BBMAK till they announced their reunion, and this album does not disappoint.
The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop
Don’t Tell a Soul was the first Replacements album I ever bought, so I find the over-produced, slick sound comforting. That said, I really dig this original mix by Matt Wallace. Thing is, it would have totally tanked in 1989. Maybe in 1993, it would have made more sense. But not in 1989.
Kim Gordon, No Home Record
Do we really need to pay attention to any other former member of Sonic Youth?
Ali Wong, Baby Cobra
I signed up for Netflix to watch the Sound & Fury anime. I might keep my subscription to watch Baby Cobra.
Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express
Kraftwerk strikes me as a band I ought to like, but so far, this album is the only one to connect.
Prince, Dirty Mind
I didn’t think I would like anything Prince recorded before 1999. I think I rather like this more than 1999.
Unlike 2018’s Both Directions at Once, this album is not so much lost as unreleased. Coltrane recorded a soundtrack for the film Le chat dans le sac, but most of the sessions were not used in the final cut.
Sturgill Simpson, Sound and Fury, Sept. 27
Judging by the first single, I don’t think this album can be called “country.” The fact it will be accompanied by an anime film is about as far from country as anyone gets.
BBMAK, Powerstation, Oct. 11
Finally! A date! Albeit for the digital release. I don’t need an autographed copy of the CD, which is available for pre-order on the band’s site. I’m hoping a normal, vanilla pre-order will be available. Soon.
Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Oct. 18
I remember when I was really getting into Southeastern, I tried listening to Isbell’s previous albums. At the time, I didn’t really warm up to Sirens in the Ditch or the self-titled album with 400 Unit. I think enough time has passed since then to revisit what I passed over. Also arriving on the same date is Here We Rest. Both albums have been remixed and remastered.
Michael Kiwanuka, Kiwanuka, Oct. 27
I picked up Michael Kiwanuka’s debut, Home Again, from Goodwill for $1.99. I liked it enough to pick up Love & Hate at full price.
I would not have been interested in remixes when Control came out, but I bet I’ve heard them without realizing I have.
Re-Flex, Politics of Dancing (Deluxe Edition), July 26
The title track alone is probably worth the price of the entire album. It’s a collection of reliably-80s synth pop, heavy on the beats and big on melody. I found this album on CD at the thrift store, and I’m actually heartened to see it reissued.
Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold, Aug. 16
I don’t even listen to St. Vincent, and I was excited to hear she was producing the new Sleater-Kinney album. Is that weird?
Ty Herndon, Got It Covered, Aug. 23
Herndon had already teased this album, posting short videos on Instagram of the recording process. He’s already changed the gender references on his big hit, “What Mattered Most.” I’m hoping he doesn’t stop there.
Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley: Sun Rings, Aug. 30
It’s a Terry Riley anniversary year! So of course Kronos commemorates it with a release of a piece they’ve performed in concert for at least a decade.
BBMak, Powerstation, late August
OK, guys, you’ve announced a title and a track list. What about an actual release date?? Part of me wished this album was a track-by-track cover of The Power Station, i.e. the Duran Duran site project with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson of Chic.
Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation, July 26 Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope, July 26
I already have an original pressing of Rhythm Nation, but the length of the album doesn’t allow it to fit well on a single disc. So I would welcome a double LP with improved sound.
The Velvet Rope is Janet’s most underrated album and deserves more attention.
Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome (Premium Edition), March 20
Aside from a poster and a photo book, this premium edition of Syndrome also includes a second disc of the entire album without vocals. Karaoke! It’s also housed in an LP-sized jacket. I say, just stick a vinyl version of the album in that jacket!
Weezer, Weezer (The Teal Album), March 8
I’m usually ambivalent about Weezer, but this album is actually fun. It’s been available on streaming services for a while now.
Gang of Four, Happy Now, March 29
I might check this out when it’s released, but I have to admit I haven’t even listened to Complicit yet. The band’s previous album, What Happens Next, was one of the last I downloaded from eMusic before I canceled my subscription.
Idlewild, Interview Music, April 5 (UK)
Idlewild dropped off my radar right around the middle of the last decade, so I’m not sure if they’ve got successively safer with each album or if they reverted back to the brashness of Hope Is Important.
The Drums, Brutalism, April 5
I think I’m still following the Drums because Jonny Pierce synthesizes post-punk in a way more sophisticated than Interpol, the Killers or the Strokes ever did.
Massive Attack, Mezzanine (Deluxe Edition), April 19 (UK)
I picked this album up from the thrift store in 2018. I like it, but enough to drop money on a deluxe edition?
BBMak, TBD, April 26
Don’t judge. I’ll be in London when this album comes out. HMV will probably be shuttered by that time.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Madonna, March 5
I missed out on the 2013 reissue of this album, so I’ve already placed my pre-order.
Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!, March 6
I won’t lie — I would rather see fra-foa’s Chuu no Fuchi reissued on vinyl, but I AM Ready! was enjoyable. Maybe enjoyable enough to get on vinyl?
Utada Hikaru, “Face My Fears”, March 6
I’m getting this less for the new song and more for the English version of “Chikai”, going by the title “Don’t Think Twice”. “Chikai” is probably the most rhythmically confounding song Utada has written.
A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.
I’m flabbergasted by the idea that, as of this writing, the year 2000 is nearly 20 years ago. As much as I lionize the music I heard in high school, the music of my late 20s has been incredibly influential, perhaps professionally as well as personally. Thus, we don’t see much change from the original list.
Shiina Ringo, Shouso Strip
NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
eX-Girl, Big When Far, Small When Close
Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One
Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows
FEED, Make Every Stardust Shimmer!
Tomosaka Rie, “Shoujo Robot”
Sade, Lovers Rock
Other favorites from the year:
Do As Infinity, Break of Dawn
Yaida Hitomi, daiya-monde
PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
OBLIVION DUST, Butterfly Head
At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command
Bonnie Pink, Let Go
MISSILE GIRL SCOOT, Fiesta!
Smashing Pumpkins, MACHINA/The Machine of God
m-flo, Planet Shining
Juanes, Fíate Bien
Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl
U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
La Ley, Uno
Sinéad O’Connor, Faith and Courage
Soundtrack, High Fidelity
BBMak, Sooner or Later
At the time of its release, I was just glad All That You Can’t Leave Behind was not a continuation of Pop. The recent vinyl reissue of the album, unfortunately, reveals its shortcomings. Thus, it loses its original ranking in the Favorite 10.
Plot twist: I panned 2004’s How to Build an Atomic Bomb, but that album has endured far better than All That You Can’t Leave Behind. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Idlewild’s 1000 Broken Windows takes the spot vacated by U2.
Do As Infinity probably could have held onto its place in the Favorite 10 on the strength of “Raven” alone. At the time, most J-Pop I had encountered relied heavily on keyboards and drum machines, so a karaoke-ready band with crunchy guitars felt novel to me.
I can’t say I love Break of Dawn as much now. It’s rare that singles displace albums for the Favorite 10, but all three tracks on “Shoujo Robot” hint at an awesome album I wish Shiina Ringo and Tomosaka Rie recorded.
The extended list is really just all the titles that could have legitimately competed for that bottom spot on the Favorite 10.
As the late 90s pop boom that brought forth ‘Nsync and Britney Spears crested, an enterprising A&R person in England thought a band with the same kind of pop appeal who could play their own instruments might turn a quick buck or two.
BBMak fit that bill, and as snobish as I was about the bubblegum pop ilk, I was willing to give them a shake. My review of the band’s first album, Sooner or Later, dripped with damning praise, but I did go as far as compare them to Duran Duran. The second album, Into Your Head, didn’t fare as well.
Back then, I still wanted my rock music to be dark and evil, or at least melancholy. A number of tracks on Sooner or Later fulfilled the latter requirement, but Into Your Head was a different beast altogether.
After 16 years, enough time has passed to evaluate Into Your Head on its own terms, and honestly, it’s quite refreshing. Maybe I’m just more mellow in my dotage, but the sunniness of the album is more of an asset than an annoyance.
The band lays pretty heavy on the guitars, probably acknowledging that Linkin Park was becoming a thing. At the same time, they double down on the smooth harmonies and earnest lyrics.
My original reaction was to call it “generic”. I question that assessment now, or rather, I don’t remember the context which made me arrive at that conclusion. BBMak’s contemporaries were so forgettable, it’s tough to draw a meaningful comparison.
Listening to both albums after nearly 20 years, BBMak flexed more muscle on Into Your Head by going for a bigger, anthemic sound, and it works.
But the target market was moving on. The teens who buoyed the pop groups were starting college, and file sharing had decimated the mass market. In 2002, labels didn’t have the marketing leverage to bring BBMak to ‘Nsync levels. Heck, ‘Nsync itself had all but broken up by 2005.
BBMak announced it reunited in 2018, and I learned about it, oddly enough, from a retweet by Duran Duran’s official Twitter account. I must admit I’m looking forward to what the band produces next.
Rewind takes a look at past Musicwhore.org reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.