Swing Out Sister, Blue Mood, Breakout and Beyond: The Early Years, Aug. 12
This 8-disc boxed set covers Swing Out Sister’s first three albums, supplementing them with B-sides, remixes and a live album. I like two of the three albums from that era — It’s Better to Travel and Kaleidoscope World — so I’m curious but not entirely tempted.
R.E.M., Chronic Town EP, Aug. 19
This 40th anniversary edition would be the first time the Chronic Town EP is released as its own separate CD. It was previously released as part of Dead Letter Office, a compilation of B-sides and rare tracks. I have to admit I didn’t find Dead Letter Office compelling, save for the Chronic Town tracks. So I welcome this reissue.
Madonna, Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones, Aug. 19
Madonna returns to Warner Bros., bringing along the albums she recorded during her time away from the label. This compilation of remixes marks the new business arrangement.
Blondie, Against the Odds: 1974-1982, Aug. 26
Blondie has always struck me as a band for which I am the target market, but I own only Parallel Lines and The Best of Blondie. This boxed set includes all six studio albums, plus a few extra discs of rarities. I’ve been on a boxed set kick lately, so … sure why not?
Santigold, Spirituals, Sept. 9
Santigold releases her first full album since 99 Cents, which was released in 2016, and I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions, a mixed tape released in 2018. It’s also the first release of her own label, Little Jerk Records.
Death Cab for Cutie, Asphalt Meadows, Sept. 16
I passed on Death Cab’s previous album, Thank You for Today. Given the band’s Pacific Northwest roots, they’re still something of a big deal in the area, but I do find myself reacting to this album news similar to a non-Duranie learning about a new Duran Duran album.
Steve Reich, Runner / Music for Ensemble and Orchestra, Sept. 30
Runner would be the second Steve Reich release on Nonesuch in 2022. I can’t say Reich / Richter really grabbed my attention. Nonesuch hinted that a boxed set similar to John Adams’ Collected Works is in the works for Reich.
Charlie Puth, CHARLIE, Oct. 7
I still can’t believe a Subway commercial got me into Charlie Puth.
Christine and the Queens, Redcar les adorables etoiles, Oct. 28
TIL the translation of this album title is “Redcar the adorable star”, and Redcar is an alter ego of Christine.
David Bowie, Earthlng, Aug. 12
I hadn’t yet done a deep dive into the works of David Bowie when this album was reissued for Record Store Day. So yes, I missed out. But I bided my time. For a figure as large as Bowie, these things don’t stay out of print forever.
Moby, Everything Is Wrong, Aug. 12
Moby is reissuing a number of early albums on colored vinyl, and while I like Everything Is Wrong, I’m more of a fan of Animal Rights. So I was a bit surprised to see Animal Rights was left out. Then I visited Moby’s online store and discovered it still sold the 2016 reissue of Animal Rights. Yeah, I ordered it. And yeah, I’m probably going to pick this one up as well.
… And You Will Us Know By the Trail of Dead, IX, Sept. 9
Music on Vinyl reissues are always hit or miss when it comes to availability in the US.
Last year, I may have complained about getting too many albums from Lifelong Thrift Shop, where I had started volunteering. SARS-CoV2 pretty much ended my volunteer work for this year, but I intend to resume once the pandemic subsides. I still make weekly visits, this time as a customer.
At least it’s afforded me to take a deeper dive into albums I do get.
Ned Doheny, Hard Candy: Does anyone else get a super homoerotic vibe from the cover?
Charlie Puth, Voicenotes: I just found him totally adorable in the Subway ads.
Robyn, Body Talk: I’m a latecomer to Robyn, but I see why she is popular with the gays.
Anton Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered, Vol. 1 (Ivan Ilić): Two volumes of an expected five have been released, so where are the other three?
Nakamori Akina, AKINA BOX, 1982-1989: This purchase pretty much seals my place in the Nakamori vs. Matsuda rivalry.
Various Artists, Studio One Rockers: Dawn Penn’s “No No No” is one of those tracks I loved but never knew who sang till recently.
The Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette: I love those thrift shop purchases that turn out to be keepers.
Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle: I have “Cars” on a 7-inch single, and it only took me another 40 years before listening to the entire album.
SUPERCAR, OOKeah!!: I thought I had caught up on owning SUPERCAR’s studio albums, but this album along with OOYeah!! slipped through the cracks. Of the simultaneously-released pair from 1999, OOKeah!! is noisier with stronger writing.
The Dismemberment Plan, Change: I’m waiting for Emergency & I to show up at the thrift shop.
I actually bought more vinyl reissues this year than remasters or deluxe editions.
Wire Train, In a Chamber / Between Two Words / Ten Women: This 2-CD reissue of Wire Train’s Columbia albums might mark the first time Ten Women has been released on CD.
Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love (Deluxe Edition): Wow, this album is longer than I remember.
U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind (Deluxe Edition): I didn’t spring for the multi-disc edition with B-sides, but the inclusion of a live show did remind me of the only time I saw the band live, which was during the Elevation Tour.
Roberta Flack, First Take (50th Anniversary Edition): The bonus material on this expanded edition is illuminating, but it’s clear why they weren’t pursued for the album.
Neneh Cherry, Raw Like Sushi: This album so needed a remastering.
A Subway TV ad introduced me to Charlie Puth. And I haven’t been able to stop playing this album since.
Mandy Barnett, A Nashville Songbook
Barnett released “It’s Now or Never” as a single, and I can’t say I was a fan. I even made an uncharitable prediction about whether this album would work. Then I heard it in full, and the song selection is impeccable — “The End of the World”, “Love Hurts”, “I Love a Rainy Night”. Perhaps the apex of this songbook is “The Crying Game”.
The Streets, None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive
Mike Skinner’s first two albums loom large, but this return after a nearly decade absence stands up to that legacy.
The Chicks, Gaslighter
A friend of mine had an extra copy, so I took it. It’s my first ever (Dixie) Chicks album. If I get curious enough, I can pick up Fly or Wide Open Spaces from the thrift shop.
Julius Eastman, Unjust Malaise
Julius Eastman was post-minimalist at a time when his minimalist colleagues were still minimalizing.
I started running out of things to say just as the SARS-CoV2 spread in the US, and when the lockdown happened, I threw myself into recording a pair of cover albums. I wasn’t buying much music, nor listening to anyone other than myself. By the time I finished making the albums, stores were opening up, and my music buying eventually resumed.
But I still don’t have much to say.
That doesn’t mean I’ve run out of opinions. So here are my favorites of the year so far.
Sam Sparro, Boombox Eternal
Timo Andres / Brad Mehldau / Jeremy Denk / Randy Newman, I Still Play
Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions
The Streets, None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive
Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories