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)
Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, Ramble in Music City: The Lost Concert
In addition to being an impeccable song curator, Emmylou Harris attracts top notch talent to her bands. The Nash Ramblers was one of her best groups, as evidenced by this set of Harris set list standards, refracted through a bluegrass lens.
Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman
Ne-Yo pops up on New York Times crossword puzzles regularly because of his vowel-friendly moniker. I picked up this disc from the thrift store based solely on that recommendation. Turns out, he’s a mighty fine singer.
Whiskeytown, Strangers Almanac
I picked up this album alongside Old 97s’ Too Far to Care when I wanted to find out what this “alt-country” thing was all about. I liked them both, but I played Too Far to Care a lot more. I eventually let Strangers Almanac go when cash got tight. I picked it up again from the thrift shop because I’ve been hankering to hear “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart.” I’m not interested in Ryan Adams beyond this album, but Strangers Almanac did turn me into a Caitlin Cary fan.
MONO, Pilgrimage of the Soul
I couldn’t get into Nowhere Now Here, but the more extroverted sound on Pilgrimage of the Soul is a departure for the band I more than welcome.
Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic, Music of Bulgaria
Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares was a nice gateway into Bulgarian folk music, but this Nonesuch Explorer Series album goes further. Yes, there is choir music here, but it shares space with other forms of Bulgarian folk music.
Brothers Johnson, Light Up the Night
“Stomp!” was the big hit from this album, but the rest of it is also tight.
Soundtrack, Heavy Metal
I didn’t realize how much my brother played this album in his car. I could actually hum or sing along to many of the tracks on this soundtrack compilation, and I’m not a big fan of any of these bands.