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.
Loveless casts a big enough shadow over My Bloody Valentine’s work that it made me hesitant to explore the remainder of the band’s catalog, lest it fail to live up. That is not the case with Isn’t Anything, and I regret not ordering the remastered vinyl when I picked up Loveless a year ago.
Rick Springfield, Tao
A five-disc bargain box set of Rick Springfield albums got a discount on Amazon Prime Day, and I fully succumbed to FOMO when I bought it. I’ve always liked “Celebrate the Youth”, but it turns out Tao is Springfield’s most ambitious album of his 80s work. If you must own a second Springfield album — the first being Working Class Dog — Tao would be the one.
NUMBER GIRL, Kanden no Kioku
I hate to admit it, but … I’ve listened to the four studio albums of NUMBER GIRL enough times to want more variety from the live albums. Still, NUMBER GIRL is that rare band where their live albums are hotter than their studio work.
Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes
I didn’t realize how much I prefer the remixed version of “Let’s Wait a While” till I heard it on this reissued compilation. I’m also reminded of how awesome “The Pleasure Principle” is.
Missy Elliott, Da Real World
I’ve read a number of lukewarm reviews for this album, and compared the work preceding and following it, I could see how it might seem not up-to-snuff. But that’s not saying much. It’s still a solid album and light years ahead of The Cookbook.
Re-Flex, The Politics of Dancing (Revised Expanded Edition)
I’m not sure how this album has been relegated to the vinyl dollar bin. It’s damn awesome and ripe for rediscovery.
Band of Susans, The Word and the Flesh
I remember reading about Band of Susans in Pulse! magazine and wondering if I would ever encounter any of their albums out in the wild. It took 30 years, but it happened.
One new song out of a 52-track career retrospective? I think I’m fine.
The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop, Sept. 27
Don’t Tell a Soul was the first album I bought from the Replacements, so I’m interested to hear this period of the band’s history expanded on this boxed set.
Cocco, Star Shank, Oct. 2
Three years is pretty much the average gap between Cocco albums these days, now that she’s diversified into fashion, films, stage acting and literature. So she’s right on schedule.
Explosions in the Sky, The Rescue, Aug. 16 Explosions in the Sky, How Strange Innocence, Aug. 16
Explosions in the Sky wrote and recorded The Rescue in two weeks, and it’s a surprisingly tight album given its self-imposed constraints. Previously available only at the band’s shows, it gets a vinyl reissue for the band’s 20th anniversary.
Pinback, Summer in Abaddon (15th Anniversary Edition), Sept. 27
During my days as a record store employee, I got the impression Pinback was a fairly mellow band. So when I found this album at the thrift store, I was taken aback by how boisterous it was.
NUMBER GIRL, Kanden no Kioku, Nov. 3 NUMBER GIRL, DESTRUCTION BABY, Nov. 3
Just as Universal was starting to neglect NUMBER GIRL’s albums, the band reunites and gives the label a reason to dig into the archives. Oh, thank goodness.
Midnight Oil, Breathe Tour 97, Nov. 29
I’m unclear about whether this album was actually released on Record Store Day 2019. It showed up on the list, only to disappear as the April date approached. But it’s up on Discogs, so … where was it available? And is this reissue vaporware?
Kronos Quartet with Mahsa and Marjan Vadat, Placeless, March 22
This album is already available on streaming services, which means I’ve had a chance to listen to it. Unfortunately for Kronos and the Vadats, the new Solange album has also monopolized my attention.
Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Beth Gibbons, Krzysztov Penderecki, Polish National Radio Symphony), March 29
I don’t know about this one. Portished has never been a band I could internalize, and while I like Górecki’s third symphony, its reputation has become a bit outsize. I’m wondering how Penderecki got roped into it.
Emerson String Quartet and Evgeny Kissin, The New York Concert, April 12
The works on this program are tamer than what I normally pursue, but I like both the Emerson and Kissin.
Björk, Vespertine: A Pop Album as an Opera (Nationaltheater Mannheim), April 12
I’m willing to give this one a chance, if only because Vespertine is one of the few Björk albums I no longer own. I couldn’t get into it when it came out, so I welcome a chance to hear it in another context.
Jack Ingram, Ridin’ High … Again, April 26
I’ve been wondering what’s up with Jack Ingram. I stopped following him when he decided to make friends with country radio, but he left that behind at the end of his Big Machine contract. His 2016 album, Midnight Motel, is breezy and off-the-cuff, so I’m curious to hear what’s next.
NUMBER GIRL, OMOIDE IN MY HEAD 1 ~BEST & B-SIDES~, May 1
More time has passed since NUMBER GIRL’s break-up than the band was ever together, and a large portion of the band’s discography is out of print. So on the heels of their reunion tour, this collection of singles and b-sides gets reissued for a generation who missed out the first time.
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.
Here’s my matrix of the most important years in music for the last 4 decades:
2010s: 2015 (so far)
The years adjacent to the ones listed are also pretty pivotal, which is the case for 1999. The list doesn’t change much, but a lot of great music came out that year.
NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT
Shiina Ringo, Muzai Moratorium
Utada Hikaru, First Love
ACO, absolute ego
Nina Hynes, Creation
SUPERCAR, Jump Up
The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin
Port of Notes, Complain Too Much
Mandy Barnett, I’ve Got a Right to Cry
The Kiss Offs, Goodbye Private Life
Other favorites from the year:
Jordan Knight, Jordan Knight
eX-Girl, Kero! Kero! Kero!
NUMBER GIRL, DESTRUCTION BABY
OBLIVION DUST, Reborn
Maná, MTV Unplugged
Dr.StrangeLove, Twin Suns
The Roots, Things Fall Apart
Fantastic Plastic Machine, Luxury
Asylum Street Spankers, Hot Lunch
Café Tacuba, Revés/Yo Soy
A retrospective addition of SUPERCAR bumps L’arc~en~Ciel to the extended list. Futurama was the first SUPERCAR album I owned, and I liked it so much, I was hesitant to explore the band’s early work, out of fear it wouldn’t live up.
As it turns out, Futurama was the last of SUPERCAR’s great albums. The first two albums are classics in their own right. I’ve yet to dig into Ookeah! and Ooyeah!
I’ve only added Moby, The Roots and Fantastic Plastic Machine to the extended list, but albums by Wilco, Rage Against the Machine, Built to Spill and Mos Def could have made it on there. I just wanted to avoid the kind of crowding we saw in 2002 and 2003.