Tokyo Jihen introduced me to Ned Doheny with a blistering cover of “Give It Up for Love”. Doheny’s original is far mellower but epitomizes his blue-eyed soul. This album wasn’t a success at the time, but the collector’s market all but demanded a reissue.
Soundtrack, Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock
When I was a kid, I dug the Schoolhouse Rock shorts between cartoons because they were catchy. As an adult, I find the Schoolhouse Rock songs rather sophisticated. Strip the didacticism from the songs, and you get pop music every bit as durable as anything in the American songbook.
PJ Harvey, 4-Track Demos
I have a TASCAM four-track recorder from 1991 that still works, but I’ve never really perceived it as a very robust tool. Then I heard this album, and I wonder if I can push it’s capabilities. I’m nowhere near the performer of Polly Jean, though.
Mr. Bungle, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo
My interest in Mr. Bungle pretty much started and ended with the self-titled debut, although I did own California for a brief time. But I couldn’t pass up hearing the band’s earliest work re-recorded with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Anthrax’s Scott Ian.
Propellerheads was one and done, but Decksandrumsandrockandroll was good enough to garner a Mercury Prize nomination. My introduction to the band happened in a gay bar in Chicago.
I don’t really care for the album cover, but it doesn’t take away from the music.
Camouflage, Methods of Silence
For some reason, I had it in my head that this album was boring compared to Voices and Images, but I was mistaken.
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.