SARS-CoV2. Silicon Valley companies would give their left tits to emulate the kind of disruption you’ve wrought.
The spring release schedule was slowly coming together when the virus shredded the calendar. Dates have always been subject to change, albeit never with this level of uncertainty.
Mandy Barnett, A Nashville Songbook , Aug. 21
Barnett has a wonderful voice that often has served unspectacular music, so the things that would sink this album are uninspired arrangements. A single of “It’s Now or Never” bodes none too well.
Johnny Hates Jazz, Wide Awake, Aug. 21
Magnetized was a favorite in 2013, so I’m looking forward to this long-awaited follow-up.
Prince, Sign O the Times (Deluxe Edition), Sept. 25
I’m actually going to settle for the remastered regular edition. I’m still waiting for any news on the Love Symbol album.
Jónsi, Shiver, Oct. 2
Does Sigur Rós even record albums any more? I know they’ve released collaborative projects, but what about a boring, traditional album with at least 10 tracks and a total running time around 40 minutes? No? I guess a Jónsi solo album it is.
The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me (Deluxe Edition), Oct. 25
I might check this one out, but I’m totally dropping cash on deluxe editions for Tim and Let It Be.
Kylie Minogue, DISCO, Nov. 6
Intriguing though the idea of Kylie in Nashville may have been, I couldn’t actually bring myself to get Golden. In fact, I’ve passed over the last two albums. I’m hoping DISCO is not the third.
Guided by Voices, Alien Lanes (25th Anniversary), Aug. 21
I had this album on CD, but I didn’t keep it. Then I downloaded it from eMusic. Why am I interested in this vinyl edition?
PJ Harvey, Rid of Me, Aug. 21
I nearly bought a bootleg version of this album on vinyl.
In June 2019, I took the plunge back into music retail by volunteering at the Lifelong Thrift Store. This immediate access to the store’s CD stock has reshaped my listening habits. I bring back so many discs from my visits to the store, it’s rare that I’ll listen to something more than once. It makes finding new favorites a challenge.
Hans Abrahamsen, Schnee: Seattle Symphony performed this piece as part of its [untitled] series, and I was so fascinated by it, I had to own a recording.
Ali Wong, Baby Cobra: I heard Baby Cobra was a really good comedy special, but I didn’t realize Wong had filmed the special in Seattle. And I’ve known about Wong back when Chelsea Lately was on the air. I could have seen this show live, dammit.
Easterhouse, Waiting for the Redbird: The classic rock station in Honolulu back in the late ’80s would play an occasional “modern rock” track. I may have caught Easterhouse’s “Come Out Fighting” once on that station, but it was enough to make me curious about the band — a curiosity I would not explore till more than 30 years later.
Kalapana, Kalapana: I didn’t realize how pervasive this album was on Hawaii pop radio when I was growing up. I was 3 years old when this album was released, but it would continue to dominate the airwaves as I grew more aware of my surroundings.
Infomatik, Technologies: Sometimes, the Internet does forget.
My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything: I missed out on the 2018 vinyl reissue of this album, so I settled for a bootleg pressing.
Robert Palmer, Secrets: This album was the pivot between the blue-eyed funk of Palmer’s early work and his embrace of a more new wave sound. It’s also one of his finest.
Rick Springfield, Tao: I’m a sucker for albums that forgo gaps and fades between tracks.
Boston, Boston: This album is against what punk music rebelled, but I like it anyway.
Roberta Flack, First Take: Stop underrating Roberta Flack!
This year was pretty slim on reissues. To be honest, I haven’t gotten through Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and Sigur Rós’ Ágætis byrjun.
Re-Flex, The Politics of Dancing: I can’t believe this album isn’t a towering classic of ’80s new wave. Cherry Pop thankfully gives it the deluxe treatment it deserves
The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop: The Matt Wallace mix of Don’t Tell a Soul is ahead of its time. The drier sound would not become fashionable till after 1991, but heard today, Dead Man’s Pop feels contemporary.
Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes: I didn’t realize how much I loved the mixes featured in Janet’s videos.
Like Patti Smith’s Horses, Sound & Fury confounded me. I put the album on repeat, and each listen only heightened my confusion and fascination. Was this My Bloody Valentine reborn as a southern rock band? Was it ZZ Top making the electroclash album it should never, ever record? In the end, it’s just Sturgill Simpson applying his work ethic to fucking with our minds.
Cocco, Star Shank
I don’t think I’ve heard Cocco scream with the kind of abandon she does on this album. It’s almost uncharacteristic now that she’s let a lot more sunshine into her music.
I didn’t realize how much I missed BBMAK till they announced their reunion, and this album does not disappoint.
The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop
Don’t Tell a Soul was the first Replacements album I ever bought, so I find the over-produced, slick sound comforting. That said, I really dig this original mix by Matt Wallace. Thing is, it would have totally tanked in 1989. Maybe in 1993, it would have made more sense. But not in 1989.
Kim Gordon, No Home Record
Do we really need to pay attention to any other former member of Sonic Youth?
Ali Wong, Baby Cobra
I signed up for Netflix to watch the Sound & Fury anime. I might keep my subscription to watch Baby Cobra.
Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express
Kraftwerk strikes me as a band I ought to like, but so far, this album is the only one to connect.
Prince, Dirty Mind
I didn’t think I would like anything Prince recorded before 1999. I think I rather like this more than 1999.
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?
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.
And now we enter some new territory. I didn’t start collecting music in earnest till 1985, and I wouldn’t start exploring catalog music till 2005. Raiding thrift shops has allowed me to fill in a lot of history, which is why were expanding the range of this retrospective to as far back as 1978. Today, we start with 1984.
Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
The Replacements, Let It Be
Andersson / Rice / Ulvaeus, Chess
Art of Noise, Who’s Afraid of? … the Art of Noise!
Madonna, Like a Virgin
Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
Thompson Twins, Into the Gap
Other favorites from the year:
Guadalcanal Diary, Walking in the Shadows of the Big Man
Nena, 99 Luftballons
Eurythmics, 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)
Sade, Diamond Life
I was much more into arcade video games — the classic era of Pac-Man and Galaga — than music in 1984. The only album I owned from that time is 99 Luftballons. Everything else I would discover later.
My 12-year-old self would not have known what to make of the Replacements or Arvo Pärt. He would have scoffed and wretched over the idea that Madonna or Prince could rank on such a list. They were his brother’s albums, after all.
He certainly did not have the sophistication or patience for two LPs of Mozart, although he might have really liked watching Amadeus.
And he would have definitely protested the inclusion of Bruce Springsteen on the list, all the while gazing lustily after the cover of Born in the USA.
He would have totally understood the Thompson Twins, though.