Twenty Years On: Spring 1999

I’d have to say 1999 was kind of a weird time for me, as it had some smashing highs and some really frustrating lows for me. While I still loved my record store job at HMV, things had changed there, and not necessarily for the better. The new manager and I often butted heads, and I also found my shifts often being pushed to weird hours to cover someone else’s plans. I’d gotten frustrated with the fact that my sci-fi novel (The Phoenix Effect) was getting no bites from publishers and its sequel was soon to be aborted when I instead chose to completely rewrite the whole damn thing.

Radio was also getting more frustrating to listen to, the more melodic sounds of 90s alt-rock getting replaced by what I’d call ‘meathead alt-metal’, with the drop-tuning and growling (and sometimes unfortunate white-boy-rapping) of Korn, Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson. I started listening to less radio and more of my own collection, which of course had already grown considerably in the last couple of years. On the plus side there, I’d discover a lot more imports and obscurities that became some of my favorite records of the time.

The Supernaturals, A Tune a Day, released 8 February 1999. I was pretty heavy into the imports at this time. I would read the British music mags religiously, checking out the news and reviews and following up accordingly, ordering a copy or two for the store. A lot of it was hit or miss, and most of the time I’d be ordering a copy simply for my own collection. The Supernaturals are one band that got some minor reviews in Mojo and elsewhere but kind of vanished soon after. I really dug the alternapop of this record, though.

Annie Christian, Twilight, released 8 February 1999. The same goes with Annie Christian…they were part of a newer British wave of guitar groups that wrote some really nifty tunes that unfortunately got ignored by pretty much everyone.

Tin Star, The Thrill Kisser, released 9 February 1999. Now THIS record is groovy and quirky as hell and more people need to know about it. The “Head” single got some minor airplay on the alt-rock stations, and every now and again I’m pleasantly surprised when it resurfaces. This record got a hell of a lot of play during my writing sessions. Well worth searching for and checking out.

Lit, A Place in the Sun, released 23 February 1999. These guys could easily be filed away in that same meathead alt-metal gang, considering their biggest hit is about being an alcoholic loser…but they do it in style with catchy riffs and fun tunes. Bonus points for providing a nude cameo of Blink-182 (following up their “What’s My Age Again” streak) in their video for “Zip-Lock”, another radio favorite.

Jimmy Eat World, Clarity, released 23 February 1999. Before the enormous success of 2001’s Bleed American, this band was a favorite of the emo crowd, and “Lucky Denver Mint” was a minor hit on a lot of alt-rock stations. Their early records are definitely worth checking out as well.

Badly Drawn Boy, It Came from the Ground EP, released 1 March 1999. This one remains one of my favorite import finds from the HMV years, and it’s one of BDB’s best songs, and really should have gotten a hell of a lot more attention than it did. I always play this one loud because it’s just that awesome.

3 Colours Red, Revolt, released 2 March 1999. Yet another fantastic alt-rock album criminally obscured by alt-metal radio and record distributor shenanigans of the day. “Beautiful Day” is a gorgeous tune that has the epic quality of Bends-era Radiohead. Had this come out a few years earlier or later, it may have been a much bigger hit.

Blur, 13, released 15 March 1999. Blur, on the other hand, was the Britpop band that survived the late 90s fallout of their scene by way of changing up their sound considerably. Their 1997 self-titled record introduced a much heavier and more experimental sound, while this record exposed their more emotional (and emotionally fraught) side.

Various Artists, The Matrix OST, released 30 March 1999. Say what you will about the trilogy, the first movie definitely changed the entire game of American science fiction movies by being fiercely original, relentlessly creative, refusing to rely on tired tropes, and introducing some of the best jaw-dropping special effects ever made up to that point. And it had one hell of a great soundtrack that just had to be played as loud as possible.

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The last year and a half of my HMV tenure may have been fraught with irritations and stress, but it also provided me with a ton of excellent music that would keep me busy and entertained. This was the peak era of my weekend road trips to comic stores, book stores and Boston, and it was also an extremely creative time for me as well, even if my current project was about to be completely restarted from scratch. My social life was nil, but that was the least of my worries, as I was doing exactly what I wanted to do, and I was actually getting paid enough to be able to afford it to some extent. I’d dug myself out of an extremely deep depressive funk, and despite managerial frustration, I refused to fall back into that trap again.

Thirty Years On: Spring 1989

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been thinking of whether or not to follow up on this series. It’s hard to follow up on what I personally consider one of the best years for alternative rock in the 80s in terms of musicianship, quality, consistency and creativity. On a more personal note, it’s also hard to follow up having a positive and stellar year when nearly your entire circle of friends has left for greener college pastures. Regardless, I did my damnedest to remain as positive as I could; I still had the other friends in my year and younger.

In retrospect this makes me sound rather shallow, and I suppose it does in a way. My connection to the just-graduated gang had been a deep and close one that I hadn’t had previously, and I suppose their moving on affected me more than I’d expected. I suddenly found myself going from ‘part of the gang’ to flying solo (or almost solo), and it took me a long time to get used to that.

Regardless, I still had college radio and 120 Minutes to fall back on. Plus, I was on the final circuit towards the end of my high school career, and it was time for me to find myself and shine somehow.

The Darling Buds, Pop Said…, released January 1989. If there’s anything I noticed about 1989, is that it seemed to have a more pop sheen to it. Not in the ridiculous plastic way that permeated the mid-80s pop scene, but in a fun, free-for-all way. This was thanks to multiple scenes in the UK kicking off the party culture that soon became known as Britpop. The Buds, coming from South Wales, brought in a sparkly indie-pop sound that caught the ears of many a fan.

Love and Rockets, “Motorcycle”/”I Feel Speed” single, released 3 January 1989. Meanwhile, the trio once known for its dreamy psychedelic indie rock over the last four years suddenly changed pace and delivered a growling punch of raucous surf rock about singer Daniel Ash’s love of motorcycles. The b-side “I Feel Speed” is a gorgeous dreamlike interpretation of the song done almost entirely on David J’s bass.

Throwing Muses, Hunkpapa, released 23 January 1989. The last album featuring bassist Leslie Langston, this outing was much more pop-oriented than their previous records, providing a college radio favorite with “Dizzy”.

New Order, Technique, released 30 January 1989. While not as brilliant as Low Life or Brotherhood, it’s nonetheless a solid album featuring some of their best hybrid sound of synth and guitar. It’s also quite melodic compared to some of their earlier records.

Morrissey, “The Last of the Famous International Playboys” single, released 31 January 1989. An absurd yet catchy ode to the Reggie and Ronnie Kray, London’s most famous (and infamous) mobsters of current history. It was the first of numerous non-album songs Morrissey would drop over the course of the next decade. Also a song and video that surprised many: it features three other ex-Smiths (Andy Rourke on bass, Mike Joyce on drums, and tour guitarist Craig Gannon), briefly firing up rumors of a sort-of Smiths reunion.

The Replacements, Don’t Tell a Soul, released 7 February 1989. Paul Westerberg and Co followed up 1987’s fantastic Pleased to Meet Me with an album that sounds like maybe they sobered up a titch and started writing more solidly and melodically. They’re older and perhaps a bit wiser at this point.

Fine Young Cannibals, The Raw and the Cooked, released 20 February 1989. The trio’s second (and so far final) album was a big hit across the board, both on pop and modern rock charts, thanks to its lead-off single “She Drives Me Crazy”. It also had quite a memorable video (choreographed and directed by Phillippe Decouflé, whose only other music video was the equally memorable “True Faith” for New Order).

XTC, Oranges and Lemons, released 27 February 1989. Perhaps partly inspired by their side project The Dukes of Stratosphear, whose records were a straight-up 60s psychedelic rock pastiche, this record blended those psych tendencies with lovely pastoral sounds and catchy pop tunes.

Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls, released 28 February 1989. Their second album (and first for a major label) was a stellar folk-rock record that gained them a huge following, and major airplay on both college and commercial stations with their hit “Closer to Fine.” It’s an amazing album from start to finish and a must for anyone’s collection.

Robyn Hitchcock, Queen Elvis, released March 1989. His follow-up to the fan favorite Globe of Frogs — and named after one of his songs that would appear on 1990’s solo record Eye — is full of beautiful and introspective songs, yet still peppered with his trademark eclectic wit. It’s my personal favorite of his 80s output.

De La Soul, Three Feet High and Rising, released 3 March 1989. Goofy, fun, and relentlessly creative, it’s a blast to listen to with its positivity and humor. Thirty years later and they’re still going strong with new records and high-profile appearances, including Gorillaz’s ace track “Feel Good Inc.”

Depeche Mode, 101, released 11 March 1989. Their first live album is a two-record sprawl of their biggest recorded at the Pasadena Rose Bowl (the 101st and last show on a their Music for the Masses Tour with Erasure and Wire). While the songs may not be all that different from their studio versions, they deliver a great show nonetheless.

The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses, released 13 March 1989. Meanwhile, the long-simmering sound of Manchester — brought to the fore previously by The Smiths and New Order, among numerous others — finally exploded internationally with a guitar-heavy rock dance beat that blew everyone away and inspired and influenced so many others for years to come and laid the ground for the classic 90s Britpop sound.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Dress for Excess, released 31 March 1989 (US). Okay, so perhaps this record didn’t inspire or influence anyone at all, but it’s still a fun album. It’s not as blissfully chaotic as 1986’s Flaunt It, but in the process they sound so much more professional, perhaps a bit more serious as a band. Lead single “Success” was a deliberate plan in that direction, hiring hit UK producers Stock Aitken Waterman to make their sound as slick as possible. Bonus points for writing and recording an absolutely gorgeous album closer in the form of the dystopian ballad “Is This the Future?”, still one of my all-time favorite tracks of theirs.

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More to come soon!

Walk in Silence Returns…

…finally! My hiatus is over and I’ve decided to return to the fold with my continued obsession with all things music. In the end it wasn’t all that hard a decision, as I’d come to miss blogging about my latest listening habits. I like sharing the new (and old!) things I find on the intertubes and elsewhere. The one thing I’d wanted to ease back on, however, was the amount of content I was forcing myself to come up with on a weekly basis. Two entries a week isn’t all that bad for me, but two entries a week for each blog was definitely exhausting, especially near the end there!

So what did I do during the hiatus? I mean, aside from checking out new releases and revisiting older catalogs? I had a good long think about what I wanted to do with my blogs here. I eventually decided that I really did want to return to what I’d been posting for the last few years, though I felt it was time for me to scale it back a bit to give myself more time for other projects I wanted to work on. SO! What does this mean, anyway? Well, this means that I am back from here on in, but I’ll only be posting once a week on Mondays. Why Monday? Basically because that’ll give me time to give Friday’s new releases a good repeated listen over the weekend, when I have more time to write them out.

That said…let me catch you up on some of the tunage I’ve been listening to since January!

Toro Y Moi, Outer Peace, released 18 January. “Freelance” is one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head for DAYS, which isn’t really all that bad a thing, considering that it’s funky as hell and reminds me of all the best Daft Punk songs. The rest of the album is just as fun.

Weezer, Weezer (the teal album), released 24 January. Okay, so this was essentially a silly throwaway album of 80s covers, but they managed to pull it off! Taken at face value, these are solid interpretations that are faithful to the originals without a hint of irony. These are songs they (and I) grew up with, so why the hell not, right?

Skunk Anansie, 25Live@25, released 25 January. One of my favorite 90s bands that never got their due here in the States, they released a 2-cd collection of a recent 25th anniversary tour and it’s a solid selection of their entire catalog and well worth checking out. And Skin is a freaking amazing vocalist.

Boy Harsher, Careful, released 1 February. One of numerous songs and bands I’ve discovered through KEXP online in the last six months, I fell in love with this album purely because it reminds me of that late-80s darkwave sound I loved so much. Specifically, they reminded me so much of Clan of Xymox (especially the Twist of Shadows album) that I went and downloaded it on the strength of one song.

The Specials, Encore, released 1 February. The Specials have been here and there over the years, but this particular album sees the return of singer Terry Hall, who hadn’t been with them for ages. The new record returns to their classic Two-Tone sound as well. Well worth checking out.

White Lies, Five, released 1 February. I’d almost forgotten about this band (I have an album of theirs from quite a few years back) but thanks to AllMusic’s suggestion, I’m glad I checked out the record because it’s fantastic. Similar to Boy Harsher it’s got that late 80s darkwave sound, though with a more melodic sound similar to Camouflage.

Mercury Rev, Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited, released 8 February. I did not expect to love this album as much as I do, as I don’t know too many Bobbie Gentry songs other than ‘Ode to Billie Joe’. This is definitely an album recorded for a serious music fan, by same; it’s the band handing you Bobbie Gentry’s music and saying ‘you HAVE to listen to this, it’s amazing.’

Beck’s cover of “Tarantula” from Music Inspired by the film Roma, released 8 February. It’s really a cover of a cover; he’s doing the This Mortal Coil interpretation of the Colourbox track. It’s extremely close to that version, but he makes it his own by brightening the reverb and using a choir. This could easily fit on his Morning Phase album.

Bis, Slight Disconnects, released 15 February. YAY! New Bis album!! Poppy, bouncy and punky, and a hell of a lot of fun. They still sound like a cartoon after all these years, and that’s exactly what makes them so great.

Big Wreck “Locomotive” single, released 22 February. I’ve loved this band since “The Oaf” way back in 1997, and they’re still a great hard rock band with hints of blues, country and maybe even a bit of that jam-prog sound as well. Glad to hear them still going strong.

Chasms, The Mirage, released 22 February. Oh, this one is TOTALLY my wheelhouse. It’s full of shoegazey echo and slides easily between 80s darkwave (there we go again), Love and Rockets’ early psychedelic sound, and the gorgeousness of Slowdive. A lovely album to listen to, especially during my writing sessions.

Hozier, Wasteland, Baby!, released 1 March. I was never the biggest fan, but his new album has totally sold me on him. I didn’t expect it to be so dark and haunting yet so beautiful and moving.

Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1, released 8 March. Yet another band taking the route of releasing multiple shorter albums or EPs over the course of an extended time, but I do so love those because they’re often more cohesive and stronger. This is a darker album for them (which is saying something) but it’s also a stronger and more melodic one for them as well.

The Cinematic Orchestra, To Believe, released 15 March. My favorite find from last Friday, this is a fascinating record that kind of reminds me of my favorite Unkle albums; dark and brooding yet beautiful in their own way. Definitely on my writing session playlist already.

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…so yeah, it’s good to be back here on the internets. See you next Monday!

2018 In Review, Part IV: October – December

Last review entry, kids, and it’s another long one! A lot of great albums and singles squeaked in during the last couple of months of the year, and they’re all pretty damn cool if you ask me.

Kikagaku Moyo, Masana Temples, released 5 October. Another band I discovered via KEXP. Not quite prog, not quite indie, always mesmerising.

Kristin Hersh, Possible Dust Clouds, released 5 October. A wonderful, boisterous album from one of my favorite indie songwriters.

Matthew Dear, Bunny, released 12 October. I thought this was an Editors record at first, but it’s so much weirder and darker, and I love it.

St Vincent, MassEducation, released 12 October. An amazing acoustic reworking of her 2017 record MassEduction.

Dubstar, One, released 12 October. WAIT, DUBSTAR IS BACK??? SWEET! I loved this band back in the 90s (go find their album Goodbye if you don’t have it already), so happy to see them again!

Cloud Nothings, Last Building Burning, released 19 October. This album just punches you in the face and doesn’t relent. Powerful and brutal.

Robyn, Honey, released 26 October. A welcome return after an extended hiatus, an extremely enjoyable pop record.

Steven Wilson, Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, released 2 November. A wonderful live record featuring some of his best tracks from both his solo career and his Porcupine Tree catalog.

K-DA & Madison Beer & (G)I-DLE, “POP/STARS” single, released 3 November. The only reason it dropped on my radar was hearing all the artists I follow on Twitter gushing about the amazing rendering for this game-related video. The track is ridiculously catchy and sounds amazing in headphones.

The Beatles, The Beatles (Super Deluxe Edition), released 9 November. Giles Martin did a fine job remixing his dad’s work here. It sounds updated, beefier, and more energetic. Dare I say, it makes them sound like an indie garage band…?

Failure, In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind, released 16 November. The year-long project is complete, and it’s a winner with its spooky sci-fi themes an sounds.

Hooverphonic, Looking for Stars, released 16 November. A new singer (their fourth, I think?) but still an amazing band.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Shiny and Oh So Bright, vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun., released 16 November. Overblown title aside, this is actually a tight, fun and positive record from the band.

Art Brut, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!, released 23 November. Hooray! New Art Brut! Eddie Argos & Co bring back their distinctive brand of off-kilter punk rock.

MuteMath, Voice in the Silence EP, released 5 December. Essentially a Paul Meany solo project at this point, but he’s still providing some fantastic grooves and sounds.

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Whew! That was one hell of a fine year in music. So many great albums, singles, and EPs that came out, many of which I actually didn’t share here due to space! I’m going to be listening to a lot of stuff from this year for a long time running, I think.

Despite the ups and downs and excitements and frustrations of the past year (both personal and otherwise, of course), I have to say it was an overwhelmingly positive one on multiple levels, and I’m glad that I had such a soundtrack for it all.

Coming up next Monday: the 2018 Best-Of Lists!

Thirty Years On, December 1988

Well here we are, on the back end of one of my favorite years ever.  Despite the emotional ups and downs I dealt with, it was a highly creative one for me, and started me on the long road of becoming a more serious writer.  My circle of college friends returned for a brief holiday break and we met up a few times before it was time to return for spring semester of 1989.

The brief meet-ups we had were just what I needed to get myself back on track emotionally and creatively.  It would still be a sad parting, but at the same time I had to remind myself that I was only a few months shy of escaping my small town as well.

Various Artists, Winter Warnerland, released early December.  The Warner Bros distribution team kicked this fine and fun double album out to radio stations across the land, and ended up in my vinyl collection later on.  Its quirky lineup includes Danelle Dax, Los Lobos, Hugo Largo, Throwing Muses and REM alongside more lighter fare like Gardner Cole, PM, Honeymoon Suite and Peter Cetera.  It also features a few holiday cheer bumpers from  bands and singers such as ZZ Top, Randy Travis, Nelson Wilbury (aka George Harrison), and, weirdly enough, multiple bumpers from Pee-Wee Herman.  It’s worth checking out if you can find it, if for it’s kitschiness.

The Pogues, “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” single, released December.  A stopgap single between albums, this a wonderful take-off on early 60s British pop, complete with a fantastic video riffing on European music programs like Beat Club.

The Cowboy Junkies, The Trinity Session, released 7 December.  This band came out of nowhere and immediately became a critic and fan favorite with its gorgeously sparse album of tunes and covers recorded in a single day using the natural reverb of a Toronto church.  While their follow-up albums may not have garnered the high praise this one received, they’ve remained active and dropped a lovely bluesy album just this year.

Compilation, Does Truth Dance? Does Truth Sing?  The Singles 1988, created 27 December.  My first end-of-year, multi-tape mix encapsulating my absolute favorite tracks released throughout the year.  Partly inspired by the end-of-year countdowns I used to record off the radio, this one ended up being a favorite mix of mine, even though the tracks do get a bit thin by the third tape.  Not bad for a first try, though!  The title was snagged from a repeated line from Wire’s “A Public Place” that closes out side 2 of the first tape.  I’d make more of these mixes off and on throughout the years, and by 2011 I’d made it a consistent annual event.

…and that’s it!  Hope you enjoyed this series!  It was certainly a fantastic year for music, a year that in my opinion was going to be hard to top.  For years I held it to the highest regard and no years would ever come close, at least not until ten years later, with the HMV year of 1998…

Recent Releases, November Edition

Hi there!  While I was hiding out and taking a blogging break, I of course kept listening to all the new tunage coming our way.  I have to say I’ve been right pleased with the crop of releases for 2018 (further proving my theory that the best music comes out in years ending with 2 and 8, heh).  Here’s some great stuff that came out this past month.

Dead Can Dance, Dionysus, released 2 November.  An unexpected yet fascinating release from a great band.  It’s essentially two side-long tracks threading multiple melodies together, but it’s a fascinating listen.  I’d say it’s similar to their 90s output in sound and rhythm.

The Neighbourhood, Hard to imagine the neighbourhood ever changing, released 2 November.  Okay, so essentially this is their self-titled album plus tracks from the HardTo Imagine and Ever Changing EPs (whose names finally make sense now) and resequenced into a full album, but it’s still great.  I love how they’ve evolved from the radio-friendly “Sweater Weather” to murky and experimental alt-rock.  A solid collection.

Steven WIlson, Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, released 2 November.  A great live album from one of my favorite multi-instrumentalists.  It features a good cross-section of his solo output with a few Porcupine Tree surprises in there.

K-DA (feat. Madison Beer, (G)I-DLE & Jaira Burns) “Pop/Stars” single, released 3 November. I’m totally not a gamer (this is from League of Legends) and this would not have been picked up on my radar otherwise, except that an artist I follow on Twitter commented on how freaking amazing the rendering was on this animated video.  And it’s a killer track that gets stuck in my head now.

Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, Bought to Rot, released 9 November.  An energetic and raucous album, she really sounds like she had a hell of a fun time recording this one.  Even the ridiculously spiteful “I Hate Chicago” sounds like there’s an element of playfulness.

Imagine Dragons, Origins, released 9 November.  I’ll totally cop to being a big ID fan despite their corporate rock sound — they’re just so much fun to listen to, and their ability to switch styles during the course of a single album is impressive.

The Beatles, The Beatles (The White Album) Super Deluxe Edition, released 9 November.  Well of COURSE this would be on my list here!  Giles Martin did a fantastic job of remixing an album that’s caused all kinds of arguments between fans, musicians and producers over the years.  It sounds clear and vibrant, but more importantly it brings out the band’s innate energies and gives each track a new life.  Highly recommended, even if you’re a passing Beatle fan.

P.O.D., Circles, released 16 November.  I’ve always liked this band ever since the Southtown album back in the day.  Great alt-metal tunes to crank up loud in the headphones.  A fantastic new release from them.

Failure, In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind, released 16 November.  An experiment for the band, they recorded this album four songs at a time over the course of 2018 and released them as EPs via PledgeMusic before dropping the entire album upon completion.  While this could have easily caused the album to become disjointed, it flows beautifully and retains its energy and power throughout.

Hooverphonic, Looking for Stars, released 16 November.  One of my favorite bands sneaks out an album while I’m not looking!  They may have yet another new singer but they’ve retained their lovely atmospheric style I love so much.  It sounds very similar to The Magnificent Tree, come to think of it.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun., released 16 November.  With a ridiculous title like that, I really was expecting some kind of overblown navel-gazing monolith, but it’s actually a super-tight, super-fantastic, positive-sounding record that reminds me of Billy Corgan’s side project Zwan. I’m quite surprised and pleased by how fun it sounds. 

Laibach, The Sound of Music, released 23 November.  Our favorite Slovenian band takes its turn at covering songs from the Rodgers/Hammerstein musical and does it in their usual disturbing yet fascinating style.  Only they could make the purposely childish “Do-Re-Mi” sound sinister, proggy and awesome. Bonus points for managing to intertwine the music with their attempt to play a live show in North Korea some time ago.

Art Brut, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!, released 23 November.  These lovable goofballs return after a long absence with more punk silliness and infectious party rock.  A very welcome return.  Hooray!

The 1975, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, released 30 November.  This band has evolved in so many fantastic and unexpected ways that I’m always fascinated with what their next song will sound like.  This time out they’re twitchy and poppy, alternating between technopop giddiness and Radiohead-like weirdness.  I’m still not quite sure what to make of this album, but it’s definitely amazing.

Coming Soon: December releases and a Year-End Roundup!

Twenty Years On: November 1998

Oh hey there!  Here we go with another edition of Twenty Years On.  I don’t have too much to cover regarding memories of this point in time, other than that I was pretty much in full-on revision mode with The Phoenix Effect and listening to all sorts of tunage down in the Belfry.  This volume’s a bit thin, as is normal for end of year, but I still love these albums.

Beck, Mutations, released 3 November.  After the massive success of Odelay, Beck surprised many with a decidedly straightforward and moody semi-acoustic album.  This would become his album release style: alternating between weirdo funk and introspective melody.  

Alanis Morissette, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, released 3 November.  This album garnered mixed reviews — it was extremely long at seventeen tracks, and it lacked the pissed-off-exgf feel of “You Oughta Know” — but in retrospect it’s a surprisingly solid and pleasing album about finding inner peace after years of turmoil.

The Offspring, Americana, released 17 November.  This is possibly their most accessible and consistent record, featuring quite a few of their radio hits (“Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)”, “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright” for starters), but it’s also a surprisingly dark album as well.  It’s my favorite of theirs.

Seal, Human Being, released 17 November. Slagged off by critics for not containing the hits that his two previous records had, it’s nonetheless a lovely and contemplative album.  He’s on my “I will buy anything from them” list of musicians, and he’s one hell of an amazing singer.

Coming Up: December 1998!