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.
Antoine Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered, Vols. 1 and 2 (Ivan Ilić) Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, The Beethoven Connection Brooklyn Rider, Healing Modes
2020 marked the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and ensembles all over the world programmed events around it. Then SARS-CoV2 spoiled the parties.
A number of artists opted to offer counterpoints to Beethoven rather than perform his works. Brooklyn Rider commissioned works by women composers on the theme of healing as a reaction to the Beethoven string quartet, op. 132. These works, interspersed with the op. 132 itself, are collected on Healing Modes.
With The Beethoven Connection, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet put together an album of Beethoven contemporaries not named Hadyn or Mozart. In a similar vein, two albums by Ivan Ilić explore the keyboard works of Antoine Reicha, a friend of Beethoven.
On all four releases, Beethoven lurks in the wings but never casts a shadow.
Flake Music, When You Land, It’s Time to Return
The Shins before they became The Shins.
Keola and Kapono Beamer, Honolulu City Lights
Any list of the best Hawaiian music albums will place Honolulu City Lights near or at the top. Before I developed my contrarian world view in high school, I had actually liked the title track. I was 5 years old.
I’ve gone on record disparaging Hawaiian music, and I do still wish there were a stronger push to strain the music’s borders. But in the last year, I’ve mellowed my stance, mostly because it takes too much energy to hold onto that much snobbery.
So my younger self may be surprised — perhaps disappointed — that I’ve joined the critical consensus on this album.
I had a promo copy of this album I was supposed to review for the college paper, but I had started to realize a lot of the stuff being sent by major labels really sucked. So I gave this album a half-hearted listen, then passed it onto another writer to cover. And I was a Butch Vig fan to boot.