WIS Presents: The Boston Years IV

My first college semester over, and what did I have to show for it? I mean, aside from being a moody bastard that felt completely out of place no mater where they were? Well, my grades weren’t the best but they weren’t terrible. I was squeaking by hovering around a B- verging into C+ territory, primarily due to my inability to study correctly (and my moods interrupting said studying now and again). Surprising no one, I fell back into the terrible habit of handing in late homework and winging the tests as I could. Did I talk to someone about it while I was there? I don’t really remember, honestly. I remember going to some office where we talked about grades, but I think that was nearer the end of my freshman year.

Yeah, I know. I’m making it sound like I probably could have had some therapy, and in retrospect it probably would have helped, but at the time I was too stuck in the mindset of ‘I can’t afford that so I may as well work through it’ to even think about it. [That, by the way, would end up being my health rule of thumb the entire time I was in Boston.] I looked for those ways, and often found them in my writing — the poems and lyrics — and teaching myself to play guitar and bass properly.

Come December, I was ready for that winter break. Some time off to take T out for a date or two, and hang with the Vanishing Misfits gang who’d also returned for their breaks. Back during Thanksgiving break the Flying Bohemians had their last jam session at Nate’s house (it would also be our last session with him), and despite all the confusion and frustration all of us felt, we realized that we were also growing up and getting better at what we liked doing.

That was the eye-opener for me: I may not have been the best academically, but my writing and my music was improving by leaps and bounds. And perhaps I was even figuring myself out in a social way as well. Maybe things weren’t all bad after all…?

Electronic, “Getting Away with It” single, released 4 December 1989. Bernard Sumner from New Order? Johnny Marr from the Smiths? Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys? Anne Dudley from The Art of Noise? Hot damn, this sounded like a flipping amazing supergroup!! Even though this side project would be primarily Sumner and Marr’s, this was one hell of a great debut single, and it still gets play today.

The Rave-Ups, Hamlet Meets John Doe EP, released 5 December 1989. This countrified alt-rock band dropped a sneak peek of their new album that would drop in January, and the single “Respectfully King of Rain” got a ton of airplay on WFNX.

Indio, Big Harvest, released 7 December 1989. This is one of those ‘oh, THAT song!’ one-hit wonders, but what a hit it is! Even Eddie Vedder covered it (for the soundtrack to 2007’s Into the Wild). The album kind of feels like the last gasp of that late 80s polished lite rock, but what Indio did with it made it a tight and enjoyable album.

Bill Pritchard, Three Months, Three Weeks and Two Days, released 11 December 1989. Pritchard is a great songwriter that somehow never made it in the US and barely did in his native UK, and yet France and other European countries loved the hell out of him. He might come across as a bit cynical and jaded, but his melodies and clever wordplay were exactly what I was looking for to take that empty spot that Morrissey seemed to be vacating. Come to think of it, this album is very much kind of a proto-Belle and Sebastian in that it’s full of songs about dim hope, slim chances and autumnal romances. For an album that got almost zero airplay (WFNX played “Tommy and Co” very infrequently), this became one of my most-played tapes at the time. A sort of 180 from Pretty Hate Machine!


…and that was it for the new releases for that month for me, but of course this also meant that I had some time to focus on what I needed to put on the latest volume of my year-end mixtapes! And this was going to be an interesting mix at that. It ended up being a crossover of sorts, between the indie sounds of college radio and WAMH and the modern-rock sheen of commercial radio and WFNX. It bounced all over the place, and I think I’d finally learned how to make a proper extended mixtape series at this point, so it all worked out well. Here’s a few songs that popped up on Does Truth Dance Does Truth Sing: The Singles 1989, which I’d made on New Year’s Eve.

Ultra Vivid Scene, “Mercy Seat” from Ultra Vivid Scene, released 31 October 1988

Robyn Hitchcock, “Swirling” from Queen Elvis, released 1 March 1989.

fIREHOSE, “Time with You” from fROMOHIO, released 1 March 1989

The Cure, “Fascination Street” from Disintegration, released 2 May 1989.

Clan of Xymox, “Imagination” from Twist of Shadows, released 10 April 1989.

Bob Mould, “Wishing Well” from Workbook, released 2 May 1989.

The Wonder Stuff, “A Wish Away” from The Eight Legged Groove Machine, released 15 August 1988.

Public Image Ltd, “Warrior” from 9, released 30 May 1989.

Martin L Gore, “Gone” from counterfeit ep, released 12 June 1989.


Coming soon: a new year, a (hopefully) new me…?

WIS Presents: The Boston Years III

After some time avoiding my roommate and getting to know other people in my dorm who were more chill and less hipster — and occasionally heading home on the Fitchburg line train to get my head together and maybe meet up with T for an afternoon — I think I finally figured out where I was going. Or at least found a goal to aim for, at any rate. I may not have gotten the radio station position I wanted (that would come next semester) but I did find a work-study day job at the school that would bring many fond memories and calm moments.

The Emerson College library at the time was at 150 Beacon, a half-block up from our ‘campus’ center and the parking spot for the school shuttle. It was five floors and a basement squeezed into a former mansion — the only stairway that reached all six floors was the servant’s, where the old-school iron-gate elevator was — and it was the perfect place to hide if you wanted to study without being bothered by anyone. And down in the drafty and often chilly basement was the Media Center, which held a few classrooms, the music library, and a few a/v suites shoehorned in as well. That was my job for all four years plus two summers: hanging down there at its front desk, taking classroom reservations, setting up videos and 16mm films for the film teachers, and recording the daily newscasts for the TV teachers. It became my haven and my hiding place and one of my favorite places to be. To this day I still have occasional dreams about it, even though the building’s long been sold off and divided into condos.

Happy Mondays, Hallelujah EP, released 1 November 1989. This, I think, was my official introduction to what would soon become known as Britpop. I remember hearing this on WMDK one evening when I’d gone home for a weekend break, and the DJ was super excited about the ‘new sound’ coming out of England that was steeped in club grooves but still maintained its rock swagger. I instantly fell in love with its psychedelic grooviness and that it was just so out there, totally different from the moody post-punk college rock I’d been mainlining for the last few years yet not flippant and lightweight like most dance pop was at the time. While most alt-rock stations were looking westward towards Seattle, I was once again looking eastward towards London.

The Stone Roses, ‘Fools Gold’ single, released 13 November 1989. Soon after the Mondays came another Manchester band, one I was more familiar with from its debut album released just a few months earlier. (I didn’t initially lump them in with the Britpop sound as they felt more like a post-punk/garage band hybrid to me at the time.) I instantly fell in love with the nine-minute 12″ version of this song for its blissed-out groove jam as well as its janky drum loop. This one often reminds me of my years working at the college library, as WFNX would play it quite often.

Morrissey, ‘Ouija Board, Ouija Board’ single, released 13 November 1989. Out of all his between-album singles of the time, I probably liked this one the best because it was just a simple quirky oddity squeezed in between the political ‘Interesting Drug’ and the overindulgent ‘November Spawned a Monster’. It’s a throwaway, but it’s a fun throwaway.

The Primitives, Pure, released 14 November 1989. This band’s second album lightened up slightly on the sugary flower-pop sound and leaned a bit heavier on the rock that drove their initial hit “Crash”. There’s some really great deep cuts on this album and I don’t listen to it nearly enough as I should.

Ministry, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, released 14 November 1989. The album between the college radio favorite The Land of Rape and Honey and the breakthrough Psallm 69 gets overlooked a lot, and I think it’s partly because it’s a ‘more of the same’ record, but it’s got some great tracks on it that got some major radio play on WFNX at the time. I tended to listen to this one on my headphones whenever my roommate was pissing me off too much.

Duran Duran, Decade, released 15 November 1989. Their first official greatest hits record was absolutely perfect collection of their hit singles in chronological order that proves just how amazing this band was throughout the 80s. Even if you had every album and single they’d put out, you wanted this because it was such a great mix.

The Creatures, Boomerang, released 22 November 1989. Siouxsie and Budgie’s side project away from the Banshees always focused more on the musical styles that their main band couldn’t (or wouldn’t) quite pull off, and this one delves deep into a lot of different styles like jazz and even a bit of flamenco. I got to meet the two of them at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square when they did a signing!

Severed Heads, Rotund for Success, released 22 November 1989. This was one of my most favorite finds during my freshman year, picked up used at Nuggets in Kenmore Square. They were one of those bands I was familiar with (thanks to 120 Minutes) but never owned anything as I could never find their stuff. I bought this only on the strength of having heard the single “Greater Reward” at some point, and I completely fell in love with it. This became one of my Walkman go-tos when I was heading home on the train for the weekend. The band isn’t for everyone, but this record certainly is, and I highly recommend it.


More to come — when the end of the year brings hope for change, however desperate it may be.

WIS Presents: The Boston Years II

One month into my college years and of course I was already thinking, what the fuck have I gotten myself into? It was a perfect storm of harsh truths and brutal realizations: I clearly was not programmed for academia, or at least never properly trained for it (or, as I would figure out much later in life, unaware that I could find mental and emotional workarounds that would help me make it all work). People similar to my closest friends in high school (aka the Vanishing Misfits) were nowhere to be found in this school full of budding actors, writers and filmmakers already imagining themselves the next maverick auteur. Any creativity I tried to bring to the table was met with side-eyes and wincingly seen as hardly original. [And see, this is precisely why I eye-roll like mad whenever I see the latest theoretical discourse and debate on Twitter. Because I’ve already witnessed enough of this kind of self-aggrandizing horseshit for one lifetime, thank you very much.]

I can definitely see what direction I was heading in with the poems and lyrics I was writing at the time…I’d gone past the Cure-like gothic doom and straight into the unfiltered fuck-you of punk at that point. My other mistake here was that I’d used my long-distance relationship as an anchor to keep me sane. I always treated T with love and kindness, but damn I am so surprised she never slapped me upside the head and told me to grow the fuck up.

ANYWAY. I had a lot of shit to contend with, a lot of life lessons to catch up on, and a spiral of self-triggered depression to slide into. I always did my best to keep my head above water and found whatever distractions I could to keep me from getting any worse. And thankfully, the music was there to help.

Jesus Jones, Liquidizer, released 1 October 1989. No one really knew what to make of this band’s wild mix of industrial, dance and hard rock at first, other than it was noisy and you could dance to it. Most everyone’s familiar with “Right Here Right Now” but there’s so much more to this band than what you expect. Their first album is much more twitchy and aggressive but also a really fun listen.

Galaxie 500, On Fire, released 1 October 1989. Well before Dean Wareham started Luna, he was one third of this proto-quietcore band out of the Boston area that became the favorite of all the local college radio stations. Their spin was that their music often took on a hazy, almost psychedelic feel.

The Jesus + Mary Chain, Automatic, released 9 October 1989. Their third album (fourth if you count the b’s-and-rarities Barbed Wire Kisses from 1988) took them in an altogether different direction, seriously toning down the feedback and ramping up the beats. They kept the volume, though, and it ended up making this album a huge hit.

Lush, Scar EP, released 9 October 1989. It all started here for this band, a six-track record that took the time-honored 4AD sound and vision (dreamy melodies, heavy on the reverb, 23 Envelope cover, natch) and ramped up the volume. This was a label changing from its chamber-pop high and into a new sonic landscape. I remember hearing “Scarlet” on WZBC (Boston College’s station) for the first time and being completely blown away by it…I headed to Tower Records the very next day and bought the cassette!

The Blue Nile, Hats, released 16 October 1989. I remember my first shift at WECB, Emerson’s AM station (with the reach of just our dorms at the time), “The Downtown Lights” was one of the tunes on the rotation I had to play, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The band are kind of a peculiar mix of 80s adult pop sheen, smooth jazz and new wavey synthpop, but they pull it off wonderfully.

Erasure, Wild!, released 16 October 1989. Their follow-up to The Innocents was far more club-oriented and while it may not have been as memorable as some of their previous albums, it’s certainly enjoyable. Early in 1990 I saw this band for the first time at the Orpheum in downtown Boston and they put on an absolutely ridiculous and super fun show that I still think about from time to time!

Kate Bush, The Sensual World, released 17 October 1989. I was late in getting into her music (I didn’t own anything of hers until her hits collection The Whole Story) but I did get this one soon after it was released. It kind of reminds me of U2’s Unforgettable Fire in that I feel a sort of self-contained warmth when I listen to it. It’s a mature and low-key record that’s got some fantastic songs on it.

The Smithereens, 11, released 18 October 1989. The Jersey band’s third record (its name and album cover hinting at Ocean’s Eleven) is just as powerful and energetic as their previous — and they’re still downtuning their guitars a half-step here — but so many of these songs are just begging to be cranked up. [And if the lyrics to “A Girl Like You” sound familiar, it’s because the song was originally written for the John Cusack movie Say Anything but not used as it pretty much gave the entire plot away!]

Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine, released 20 October 1989. If there’s one album that bridges the gap between my life in the late 80s and what was to come in the early 90s, it’s this one. An album so full of spite, pain, depression and desperation that distilled what I was feeling at the time, all wrapped up in one record. And when they came to town in November to play on Landsdowne Street just outside Kenmore Square, I was there in the mosh pit, pissed off and needing to bleed it all out of my system. I would often return to this one album whenever I knew I was veering towards the darker side of my moods. And believe me, I returned to it a lot for a few years there.

Men Without Hats, The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century, released 30 October 1989. After the surprising popularity if 1987’s Pop Goes the World and its title track, the Hats followed up with another AOR-level popfest that might not exactly be chartworthy but goes in some really interesting and unexpected directions, including the pro-feminist anti-abuse single “Hey Men” and a fascinating cover of ABBA’s “SOS”.

The Psychedelic Furs, Book of Days, released 30 October 1989. The Furs closed out their stellar 80s run with a heavy, murky record full of tension and discomfort, but it features some of my favorite later-era songs of theirs as well, including the above. [TW: the video has a lot of strobe effects.]


More to come soon!

WIS Presents: The Boston Years I

I’ve been putting this off for years, and I think it’s high time: let’s take an extended look at the music that I listened to in my five years while living in Boston, from September 1989 to August 1995. That’s five years’ worth of music, so this one’s going to take quite a lot of time. Which is fine, because I’ve been wanting to revisit a lot of these!

Some of these albums will have good memories tied to them. Some of them won’t. Some of them will just be background soundtracks while others will have deep personal meaning. It was five rollercoaster years of good and bad, and I think it’s high time I made peace with them.

I started Emerson College in the fall of 1989, living on the third floor (room 306) of Charlesgate, the tall former hotel that sits on the corner of Beacon and Charlesgate East, just a few blocks east of Kenmore Square. This was back when the school’s campus — such as it was — was situated at the other end of Back Bay, at the intersection of Beacon and Berkeley. I’d take the school shuttle from one end to the other most days, but walking the length (just under a mile) wasn’t so bad either.

Mind you, I was going in with good intentions that may have been extremely rose-colored and innocently hopeful, and it didn’t quite turn out the way I’d expected. I was hoping for a cool roomie with excellent tastes in college rock and ended up with a somewhat rude hipster that merely tolerated me. I was trying to maintain a pre-internet long-distance relationship that I too often became overdependent on. My so-so grades remained so-so (most likely a mix of ADD-like distraction, depression and not really knowing how to study properly), and I was perpetually broke.

On the plus side? I’d brought my bass with me and practiced on that thing like no tomorrow. I used some of my spare time writing outtakes and comic strips. And I could easily head home for the weekend just by jumping on the train at North Station. That’s the one thing I remember the most during those years: those trips home to clear my brain and reset my mood, and coming back on Sunday evening refreshed for another round.

Love and Rockets, Love and Rockets, released 4 September 1989. Their fourth album was a distinct change from their previous three, veering away from the dreamlike acoustics and hippie psychedelia and heading straight for noisy post-punk of the Jesus & Mary Chain variety. While the teaser single “So Alive” — the first L&R single to hit the American charts and kickstarting an alternative renaissance just a few years before grunge took over — was a pure pop song, the rest of the album went from the anger of “**** (Jungle Law)” to the boisterous groove of “Motorcycle” and back. It’s an odd album, but it’s definitely a good one.

Camper Van Beethoven, Key Lime Pie, released 5 September 1989. This was kinda sorta CVB’s swan song for the 80s, as lead singer David Lowery headed off to form the very successful Cracker. (They didn’t really brake up so much as go on hiatus, sneaking out a few songs here and there on the interim.) This was also another good example of a well-loved indie band vanishing just as its popularity was rising and had joined a semi-major label (Virgin).

Soundgarden, Louder Than Love, released 5 September 1989. Well before Superunknown and even Badmotorfinger, these PNW guys were making their way through their original sludge-metal sound and heading from indie label SST to major A&M Records. It was definitely not in my wheelhouse at the time — I was still deeply immersed in the slightly less angry post-punk/college rock soundscape — but after giving it a few listens courtesy of my freshman year college roommate, it grew on me.

Big Audio Dynamite, Megatop Phoenix, released 5 September 1989. This can kind of be considered the last album of the first BAD phase, before the 1990 band member shuffling, and on its own it’s a stellar achievement. While it’s not as experimental as their previous records, every song is a banger and it remains one of my favorites.

Julee Cruise, Floating Into the Night, released 12 September 1989. It is fascinating how this project stemmed from David Lynch’s inability to snag the rights to This Mortal Coil’s “Song to the Siren” for his movie Blue Velvet. A few years and a theme song for a truly weird TV show later, Cruise debuted with this absolutely glorious album of extreme delicateness. And “Falling” really is a lovely song, even after all these years.

Lenny Kravitz, Let Love Rule, 19 September 1989. Lenny’s first album was a huge hit on WFNX, its title track getting immediate heavy rotation. I was drawn to this album because it refused to be pigeonholed into one specific genre — it could fit just as easily on alternative radio as it could on pop and R&B stations — and his songcraft was absolutely stellar from the first song.

The Sugarcubes, Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!, released 20 September 1989. Their sophomore follow-up to the career-defining Life’s Too Good suffered a little by being overly long and containing a few filler tunes, but in retrospect it really is a good album despite that.

The Mighty Lemon Drops, Laughter, released 20 September 1989. The follow-up to the band’s fantastic World Without End sounds more polished and mature, and contains some absolutely lovely tracks, including their biggest hit “Where Do We Go from Heaven” which has been described as their take on The Church’s “Under the Milky Way”.

Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love, released 25 September 1989. Their third album, coming four years after their smash Songs from the Big Chair, led them in some new directions: psychedelic pop, and soul. “Sowing the Seeds of Love” borrows heavily from The Beatles, while the moving “Woman in Chains” is a stunning single that became one of their most popular later hits.


That’s quite a month to start off my college years, yeah? I remember I bought most of these up the street in Kenmore Square, either at Nuggets (back when they were in a musty basement) or at Planet Records just up the block. Suffice it to say, I knew that living right down the street from a shopping district that would certainly take all my money and then some was going to be a dangerous thing. Did that stop me, though…? Heh.

Stay tuned, maybe we might even make it to the end of 1989…?

Twenty Years On: February 2002

I started to look for the word count list for my work on A Division of Souls around this time, but either I hadn’t started writing it down, or I’ve misplaced the calendar organizer I used. I’m going to assume the latter. Anyway, a cursory look at the timestamp on some of my old files shows that I’d started the rewrite in November of 2001 and by February 2002 I was somewhere around Chapter 6. (It’s also right around when I stopped using MS Write and finally started using Word, having gotten a copy of it from my sister.) This means that I was still early in the game but feeling much more confident about my work.

If The Phoenix Effect was me happily reveling in claiming myself an author, A Division of Souls was me taking my craft seriously and having a lot more faith in the quality of my work. And pretty much every single album from here on in was going to be a writing soundtrack.

Mistle Thrush, Drunk with You, released 1 February 2002. I’ve mentioned this band a few times in the past; they were a semi-shoegazey Boston band whose singer was a good friend of my former record store manager, and their three records are great listening.

The Church, After Everything Now This, released 5 February 2002. This record felt like a slight change from their more experimental 90s output, somewhat returning to their old-school reverb-heavy sound but minus the jangle. They remain one of my favorite alternative rock bands, even if I don’t get to listen to them nearly as much as I should.

+/- (Plus/Minus), Self-Titled Long-Playing Debut Album, released 5 February 2002. A side project of the band Versus, their sound is much more angular math-rock but retaining their high-level energy and catchy melodies and rhythms. It might sound a bit strange at first, but it really grows on you.

Craig Armstrong, As If to Nothing, released 19 February 2002. Armstrong is more known for his movie scores (and “This Love”, the song he did with Elizabeth Fraser) but every now and again he’ll drop a solo album full of gorgeous music that really should be in movies. This one got some serious play during my Belfry days!

Tanya Donelly, Beautysleep, released 19 February 2002. Donelly’s second solo record is not quite as bouncy as her Belly work and not quite as twitchy as her Throwing Muses work, but there are some absolute gems in here including the lovely “Keeping You”.

Boards of Canada, Geogaddi, released 19 February 2002. At the time, this was a band I’d heard of (I’d seen their cds at HMV during the time I worked there) but never heard, so I went into this record completely cold. A good thing, because this ended up being on my top ten releases of the year! And yes, another album on the Belfry heavy rotation.

Buffalo Daughter, I, released 19 February 2002. Another ‘heard of but never heard’ band for me at the time, this was a great introduction to the band’s semi-electronic experimentation, full of songs both wonderful and strange.

Death Cab for Cutie, The Stability EP, released 19 February 2002. A follow-up to 2001’s The Photo Album, this EP features some extremely moody (even for them) tracks including the twelve-minute epic above, and a great cover of Bjork’s “All Is Full of Love”.

Clinic, Walking with Thee, released 25 February 2002. Clinic always reminds me of those 60s garage bands with lo-fi production and weird melodies that lean towards Beefheart and Zappa, only they stay this side of outsider music. Not for everyone, but definitely worth checking out.

Alanis Morissette, Under Rug Swept, released 26 February 2002. Forging ahead and refusing to return to the angry tension of her breakthrough record, this is an album about maturity…or at least making an attempt at it. It’s very much a laid back record and there’s some really great songs on it.


Stay tuned for March 2002!

Spare Oom Playlist, January 2022 Edition

Do I have high hopes for this year because it ends in ‘2’? Of course I do. Am I pleasantly surprised that the first month kicked off in fabulous fashion with some solid records that I’m already grooving to? Yes indeed!

The Weeknd, Dawn FM, released 7 January. Descending further into a semi-retro mood of 80s grooves and out-there production, The Weeknd’s latest is a foray into moody late night FM radio, complete with a disembodied laid-back smooth-talking DJ (voiced surprisingly by none other than actor Jim Carrey…??) providing in-between track talk.

Cat Power, Covers, released 14 January. Chan Marshall’s third covers record continues in the vein of reimagining several songs (including one of her own) into something different. Her take on Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion” is absolutely stunning.

Moist, End of the Ocean, released 14 January. This Canadian band has constantly flown under the US radar but I’ve always liked their records. This new album is full of uplifting songs and great melodies.

The Wombats, Fix Yourself, Not the World, released 14 January. This band always has a brilliant knack for writing such cheery songs with some of the gloomiest lyrics and they pull it off so wonderfully! This one immediately grew on me and I’m sure this one’s going to be getting a lot more play over the next several months.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, The Boy Named If, released 14 January. EC is still going strong after multiple decades with no sign of stopping. And he can still be acerbic, gritty and urgent when it’s needed. This album is short, tight, and ready to roll.

Pedro the Lion, Havasu, released 20 January. David Bazan surprises everyone with a ‘hey guess what here’s a new album’ and drops the long-awaited sequel to 2019’s Phoenix, and it’s a corker. It’s dreamlike and even a bit playful, focusing mostly on his own childhood memories.

Kids On a Crime Spree, Fall in Love, Not in Line, released 21 January. This one’s a recent find for me, they’re locals (Oakland) and on the Slumberland label, and they’re named after the SF Examiner article that inspired the movie Over the Edge, and I love them already. Punky and semi-lofi (just like most of Slumberland’s signings), just how I like my indie.

Yard Act, The Overload, released 21 January. Another one of my favorite finds of 2021, this super fun band takes the jankiness of The Fall, the melodies of The Strokes and the humor of numerous Northern UK punk bands (these boys are from Leeds) and weaves together weird and hilarious songs that stick in your head for days. Highly recommended!

Paul Draper, Cult Leader Tactics, released 28 January. The ex-Mansun singer releases his second album with a much darker and harder edge. Its first single “Omega Man” is a duet with Porcupine Tree’s Steven WIlson, kind of reminds me of the creepier songs from Six, Draper’s 1999 album with Manson and its video — filmed in the Chernobyl exclusion zone — really underscores the heaviness of the song and the album.

Eels, Extreme Witchcraft, released 28 January. Mark Oliver Everett’s music evolves once again with a surprisingly poppy and upbeat record, just going to show that not all of his songs are dour or fraught with tension.

The Beatles, Get Back: The Rooftop Performance, released for streaming on 28 January. A playlist/streamed album created to tie in with the IMAX big screen event of the rooftop concert, this is the full forty minute “show” complete with between-song chatter and multiple takes. For a recording done outside in the dead of winter on a roof in central London, this sounds pretty damn good!

Our Lady Peace, Spiritual Machines 2, released 28 January. I’ve yet to give this a full listen, but I’ve been looking forward to it, as I loved their 2001 release Spiritual Machines record. Both are projects in connection with futurist Ray Kurzweil and are quite leftfield compared to their more straightforward rock albums and aren’t for everyone, but I remain intrigued. [I am, however, slightly let down that they chose to release this in NFT form a few months previous, as I am very much not a fan of crypto nonsense, but I digress.]


Stay tuned for February, where we’ll see releases from Alt-J, Bastille, The Reds Pinks & Purples, Spoon, Beach House, Deserta, Johnny Marr, and more!