Ends in Two: Favorite songs and albums of 2022 (Part VII)

July’s playlist shows that my tastes in music have definitely changed and evolved over the years. For every band I’d followed for years releasing an unexpectedly laid back record (Interpol), there’s a new group that captures my attention with its bubblegummy goodness (beabadoobee), with the occasional sideline into the bizarre (Ty Segall). This is what listening to non-commercial radio will do to you, I suppose…

Metric, Formentera, released 8 July. Another band that chose to focus on the effects of the pandemic. Metric has always had a tinge of darkness to their music, but this one leans heavily on it with songs like “Doomscroller” and the single “All Comes Crashing.”

beabadoobee, Beatopia, released 15 July. This is such a super fun band to listen to! Catchy melodies and irresistible guitar pop make them a band I return to whenever I’m in a good mood. Their latest is just as great as their previous, if not more so!

Working Men’s Club, Fear Fear, released 15 July. I’m loving the fact that more new bands have been giving an extended nod to the dark sounds of 80s post-punk, especially when synths are involved. This new album sounds just like something I’d have listened to as a teen!

Superorganism, World Wide Pop, released 15 July. A very apt album title for this band, as this one’s full of perky, slightly off-kilter tunes that are just this side of sugary goodness.

Interpol, The Other Side of Make-Believe, released 15 July. An extremely understated album for this band, which definitely threw me for a loop for a bit. This one’s very muted and moody, unlike several of their last few albums. Well worth checking out, though.

You Shriek, “Dead Pilots” single, released 19 July. I add this as I actually knew this guy in college! He was a friend of a friend and his sound was much more goth/synthwave back in the early 90s, but he’s come along way since then with a brand spankin’ new single.

Ty Segall, “Hello, Hi”, released 22 July. This SoCal weirdo is someone I never would have followed if not for the fact that KEXP loves him and his music (and the fact that he released an EP two years ago featuring all Nilsson covers). The album is full of fuzzed-out guitars and oddball lyrics and it’s all great.

Jack White, Entering Heaven Alive, released 22 July. The second of two albums he dropped this year and the quieter half, leaning somewhat towards psychedelic country-folk (if there’s such a thing). It also features a tongue-in-cheek take of the previous album’s “Taking Me Back” single as if done by the Carter Family.

Bananarama, Masquerade, released 22 July. Yes, this band is still around! After reading their memoir a while back, I finally gave them another listen and came to appreciate them a lot more.

ODESZA, The Last Goodbye, released 22 July. Another KEXP find, they’re very much set in that curious indietronica universe where it’s obviously dance music but it’s also beautifully crafted and full of emotion.

Sun’s Signature, Sun’s Signature EP, released 29 July. One of my top ten releases this year, Elizabeth Fraser’s return (after thirteen years) finds her working with her partner Damon Reece (of Lupine Howl) to create something beautiful and strange. That might be stock in trade, but this is definitely not Cocteau Twins. This album made me realize I don’t relisten to albums nearly as much as I used to, and that I really needed to do something about that.

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Coming next Tuesday…August tunes!

Ends in Two: Favorite songs and albums of 2022 (Part VI)

I keep coming back to the fact that my Current Day Job allows me so much more time for introspection and clarity of mind, and that the Former Day Job did not in so many ways. I also come back to the realization at how much I’d shut myself out socially. I mean, sure, I talk to my friends online — especially now that most of us are all gathered in one place on Discord now — but for years there wasn’t that deep of a social connection in general.

Working in retail again after so many decades made me realize just how much I’d missed that connection. While I’m not a drinks-after-work sort of person anymore, this is the first time in ages where I look forward to seeing my coworkers, having fun chats and getting to know them on a personal level. Some of them are only half my age, but it truly is fun to get to know them from a Gen-X standpoint. And as an unexpected plus, these new social connections have made me do a lot of rethinking of my character building in my writing!

Nation of Language, “Androgynous” single, released 1 June. One of my favorite recent synth-rock bands dropped a few interesting things this year, including a cover of the classic Replacements song. They turn a boozy, sloppy album track and turn it into a curious and rather nice melody that tiptoes along.

Prince and the Revolution, Prince and the Revolution: Live, released 3 June. The fabled live show from Syracuse NY in March of ’85 was filmed and a rarity for years until it was officially released via online streaming in the middle of the pandemic. [I highly recommend watching it, as it really does show just how flipping amazing Prince really was, and how tight the Revolution was with him.] It finally got an album release this year and it’s well worth adding to your collection.

Kula Shaker, 1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs, released 10 June. Crispian Mills and his band return with quite the unexpected album that brings them back to their classic psychedelic-Britpop sound, this time adding a healthy dose of self-conscious humility and humor. This album might be full of religious themes, but it’s also filled with much silliness (the minute-long spoken interludes set during a make-believe mass are often quite goofy) and there’s even an unexpectedly great and funky cover of a Marx Brothers song as the first full track!

Panda Riot, Extra Cosmic, released 10 June. This band had been hiding away since 2017 so I was pleasantly surprised to see they’re back with a fun, fuzzy and bouncy album that got some play during my writing sessions. This is definitely a record I should be listening to more!

Shearwater, The Great Awakening, released 10 June. One of A’s favorite bands return with another album of epic and atmospheric alternative rock that sounds both dreamlike and daunting. This is another album that’s become part of my writing session soundtrack.

Various Artists with Neneh Cherry, The Versions, released 10 June. An unexpected treat, several bands rerecord a number of Cherry’s best tracks and bring them into the 21st century. This is a really fun album worth a listen!

The Dream Syndicate, Ultraviolet Hymns and True Confessions, released 10 June. This band has had a bit of a renaissance with several new albums since 2017 and a great and exhaustive box set overview of their excellent 1986 Out of the Grey album (What Can I Say? No Regrets.. from January). Glad to see they’re still going strong.

Big Wreck, Big Wreck 7.2 EP, released 17 June. This band is also going strong after several years, following up last year’s EP with five more tracks of hard-rocking blues and blasting vocals.

Foals, Life Is Yours, released 17 June. This band can be alternately forebodingly loud and light and funky, and sometimes they’re both at the same time. Their irresistible grooves and twittering guitar licks keep you listening from start to finish.

Lit, Tastes Like Gold, released 17 June. This 90s band is back and it’s like they never left, giving us more songs about being a terrible boyfriend, having a little bit too much fun, and getting in stupid kinds of trouble. And it’s a super fun album!

Alanis Morissette, the storm before the calm, released 17 June. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Alanis returns with an unexpectedly chill and meditative work of mostly long instrumental tracks. While one might expect new-agey space music, this is firmly planted in the real, with ethereal hushed vocals, quiet percussion and relaxing melody.

Porcupine Tree, CLOSURE/CONTINUATION, released 24 June. For years Steven Wilson made no mention of his former band during their incredibly long hiatus so its band members could focus on their solo endeavors. The surprise return (minus bassist Colin Edwin) brings them back to what they’ve always done best: extended jams of tense hard rock anthems. This feels a lot like their early 00’s era of In Absentia and Deadwing, which in all honesty I felt was their best work ever. Definitely in my top ten of the year.

Various Artists, For the Birds: The Birdsong Project, Vol II, released 24 June. The second of five volumes of the poetry/music hybrid project from Audobon features songs from Elvis Costello, the Flaming Lips, Jeff Tweedy, Stephin Merritt, Shearwater, and more.

Third Eye Blind, Unplugged, released 24 June. This was a band I loved, then hated, then loved again years later. (I think it’s partly because they’re a hometown band to me now!) Their classics work surprisingly well in an unplugged format, making this an extremely enjoyable album.

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Coming tomorrow: music for a warm July!

Ends in Two: Favorite songs and albums of 2022 (Part I)

As promised, I’m about to go through my music library to check out what came out this past year and shake the dustbunnies out of my brain to remind myself how many great songs and albums came out in 2022. Like the last couple of pandemic years, the music scene has kind of been all over the place — not necessarily in a bad way, but it’s definitely shaken things up to the point where the unexpected is the norm. Let’s take a listen…

The Smile, “You Will Never Work in Television Again” single, released 5 January. Radiohead members Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood joined up with their drummer friend Tom Skinner from Sons of Kemet as a creative outlet during the pandemic and surprised everyone with a decidedly punkish sound that might be Radiohead at its most frantic. They’d eventually release a full album later in the year.

The Weeknd, Dawn FM, released 7 January. His latest is kind of…weird? Yet really fun and funky? And features in-between smooth-jazz-DJ voice-overs by…Jim Carrey? I’m still not entirely sure what he was trying to say with this record, but it’s a great listen nonetheless. “Sacrifice” in particular is my favorite off the album.

Cat Power, Covers, released 14 January. Chan Marshall has been known to record unique and fascinating covers of other people’s music, and this latest batch is full of gems. Her take on Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion” got quite a bit of airplay on KEXP at the beginning of the year and it’s a wonderful take on an already quirky track.

Miles Kane, Change the Show, released 21 January. Kane, also known as part of the supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets, takes the classic British soul swing sound and tweaks it with humor and maybe a bit of strangeness and the result is earwormy fun.

Kids On a Crime Spree, Fall in Love Not in Line, released 21 January. I’ve been intrigued by Slumberland Records these days for several reasons: much of their roster is super-local (one or two coming from my own neighborhood!), and much of that same roster often records in a semi lo-fi way, providing a very loose ‘bedroom recording’ feel that reminds me of…well, my own band The Flying Bohemians, actually! Extra props for this particular Oakland band for naming themselves after a newspaper story headline about problem youths in Foster City on the peninsula…which became the inspiration for the movie Over the Edge.

Yard Act, The Overload, released 21 January. This goofy punk band from Leeds provided probably my first favorite track of the year with the title song from their debut album. I kind of see them as what The Fall would sound like if they played twice as fast and Mark E Smith hadn’t been so damn grumpy all the time, but they have a really fun and hilarious charm all their own. The whole album’s well worth checking out.

The Smile, “The Smoke” single, released 27 January. The band followed up with another new single leaning ever so slightly more towards Radiohead but remaining unique to their own style. This one definitely showcases Greenwood’s penchant for increasingly complex riffs and musical phrases and Yorke’s unnatural ability to easily shoehorn vocals within them.

Paul Draper, Cult Leader Tactics, released 28 January. The second solo album from the ex-lead singer of Mansun continues his foray into tension-filled alternative rock, this time featuring friend and Porcupine Tree singer Steven Wilson on the lead single “Omega Man”. Props to Draper for filming this video in the exclusion zone in Chernobyl to really drive the theme of isolation home.

The Beatles, Get Back: The Rooftop Performance, released 28 January. Tying in with the utterly amazing Peter Jackson miniseries, this release finally provides fans with the full rooftop show that ended up being the band’s final live show (of sorts). We got to see it on the (very!) big screen on IMAX and it was so much fun!

Our Lady Peace, Spiritual Machines II, released 28 January. A sequel to an underrated and fascinating record about Ray Kurzweil’s book about artificial intelligence, The Age of Spiritual Machines, this one revisits the predictions he’d made in the book to see what has come to pass and what has not.

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Next Up: February tunage!

Ending in Two

Yeah, I know…I’ve gone on record multiple times that years ending in two are awesome years in music. And 2022 saw a lot of great releases! But I think it’s me this time out that didn’t do my due diligence and connect as deeply with it all as I should have. It’s not that it didn’t interest me, as a lot of it did. It’s that I didn’t allow myself to resonate with it.

I’ve been using variations of the word ‘resonance’ a lot lately, in two different ways. Musically, it means “the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.” Emotionally, it means “the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.” Both are important to me: things that hit me in the heart not just emotionally but creatively.

And I haven’t been letting myself do either of them over the past couple of years. Maybe it’s partly the pandemic’s fault for holding back or blocking so many musicians out there. Maybe it’s partly my own fault for not making a strong enough attempt to make that connection in the first place. Maybe it’s also partly my own fault for focusing on the acquiring (yay for being a discography completist!) and less on the music itself. Maybe it’s that I listen to KEXP so frequently that I don’t give myself enough time to relisten to what I already have in my collection. Maybe it’s that my Day Job doesn’t allow me the ability to listen to my collection while working. Maybe it’s just too many real world distractions. It could be a lot of things.

I think what I’ll be doing in the next couple of weeks is do a monthly overview of 2022 to reconnect myself with this year’s releases and posting them here. There were a lot of great songs and albums out there that I loved but for some reason never completely connected to. And I’d like to see what I might have forgotten. Maybe I’ll reconnect with them this time around.

Let’s start with what has resonated with me: “Golden Air” by Sun’s Signature — the first new music from Elizabeth Fraser in many years. I absolutely adore the EP it’s from and I think that’s a good place to start!

Stay tuned for more!

RIP Mimi Walker

You may not know her by name, but she was one half (or one third, depending on the lineup) of the slowcore band Low. They started out in the mid-90s and created a wonderfully unique style of alternative rock that wasn’t the meandering (and often quiet-to-loud) post-rock of bands like Slint or Godspeed You Black Emperor, but neither were they the delicate quiet twee of bands like Belle & Sebastian either. They were a bit of both, shifted sideways into something beautiful yet haunting. Mimi was the drummer and the wife of the band’s guitarist Alan Sparhawk.

I’d heard of the band during my HMV years, having seen some of their early releases pass by my receiving desk, but it wasn’t until 2001’s Things We Lost in the Fire that I finally understood just how wonderful they are.

Mimi passed away from ovarian cancer the other day, and will be greatly missed by many. This particular song, one of my favorites from the band, was on my mind when I heard the news.

…and here are a few other Low tracks featuring Mimi on vocals (solo or with Alan) that have also become favorites of mine over the years:

(This last song is one of my all-time favorite takes on a Christmas song.)

A bit on the new Cure songs

So The Cure, one of my favorite bands from the 80s and a huge influence not just my songwriting but my fiction writing as well, have finally slipped out a few new tracks! Well, sort of, at any rate. They’re in the midst of a tour and they’ve been playing what seem to be new songs, quite possibly from an upcoming album called Songs of a Lost World (at least that’s the current rumor).

This isn’t the first time they’d test out new songs live before recording them. A lot of bands do that, actually. Let’s give them a listen, yes?

I joked with my friend Chris, who shares my longtime love for the band, that these two new songs passed right by me because I swear they had a song called “Endsong” already. [Well, “End” is on Wish and “Plainsong” is on Disintegration, so my brain probably smooshed the two together.] Still…I like what I hear so far. It’s similar to their track “Homesick” in that it has the slow and extended opening before arriving at the main lyrics, which don’t seem to have a chorus. Very much a Disintegration/Wish vibe going here.

“It Can Never Be the Same”, on the other hand, reminds me a lot of 00s-era Cure, a mix between The Cure and 4:13 Dream. It’s got the patented dark dreaminess but with a tighter and more orchestral sheen. But it also hints at the construction of repetition that made Disintegration so mesmerizing.

What to make of these two tracks that may or may not be a part of a VERY long time in coming future album? It certainly shows that Robert Smith hasn’t rested on his laurels since 2008. Between the numerous tours and guest spots on albums and soundtracks, he’s kept busy. And that classic Cure sound hasn’t gone away, either…their best songs have either been the irresistible pop of songs like “Friday I’m in Love” or “Close to Me” at one end of the spectrum and the epic gloom of “Homesick” and “All Cats Are Grey” at the other. I’m glad to see they’ve still got it.

a simple song

One of my favorite Sparks songs is “My Baby’s Taking Me Home”, in which said title is the near-entirety of its lyrics, barring a short spoken word passage near the end. The Mael brothers comment on it in The Sparks Brothers documentary, where the dynamics of the song are purely in its construction rather than its lyrics. Because of this, they find it one of their all-time favorite songs to play live.

Back in the 80s and early 90s I wrote a handful of Flying Bohemians songs that were similar in construction, and they were always my favorite to play because of that. One song, “She Sang to Me”, had three lines that were repeated in different ways while Chris and I played its three chords in various ways — fingerpicking, muted, augmented, and so on — until it sounded like a wondrous release of sound.

I don’t often hear that many songs like this, but when I do, quite often they’re my favorites of the band’s entire discography.

Revisiting

I’ve been thinking about revisiting some discographies lately, mainly the ones of bands I used to listen to obsessively back in my youth. One of the inspirations for this was the reissue of REM’s Chronic Town EP a few weeks ago, their first release on the IRS label.

I’ve always been an early-era fan of the band up to and including 1988’s Green, and it’s been ages since I’ve listened to those first albums other than hearing the occasional single on the radio (usually “The One I Love” or “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”, but occasionally I’ll hear “Superman” as well). Me and my high school friends were big fans of the band and taped each other’s copies of their albums into our own collections. But I haven’t listened to Lifes Rich Pageant in ages, and I used to play that one a ton in my college years.

So how is this different from any other time I obsess over 80s alternative rock? Well, instead of slinking back into the memory banks to relive those times or attempting to work on the Walk in Silence book, this is just…for fun, just like before.

I think part of it is tied into what I was talking about in the previous post, in which I find myself so constantly wrapped up in New Releases every week that few songs are actually sticking in my head. Which leads to the question: how is it that these REM songs (and Smiths songs, and Love and Rockets songs, and so on) stick like Gorilla Glue where the new songs don’t?

I think it’s partly because I’m not allowing those new songs to anchor themselves in the first place. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to do that somehow. The focus has gone from the music to the procurement of it. Which of course feeds into my obsessive tendencies, but doesn’t really move me emotionally, does it?

I’ve been trying to figure out how to change that these last few months. How do I let these songs into my psyche when I’ve forgotten how to do that? What do they have to anchor to? Moments in time, memories in the making? So many of those songs are fleeting, great to listen to but never quite moving me emotionally. Produced too clean, given airplay to a station that smothers us with its constant repetition. Caught in a race with millions of other songs, all trying to enter my subconscious at the same time.

It’s time to revisit how I made them stick in the first place. Allowing the song to percolate and simmer for a while in my mind, to allow it to latch onto a moment in my life. Keeping myself from getting constantly distracted by yet another song that sneaks up behind it. Allow the song to become a part of my own personal and private world rather than chasing after several songs at once as they go by.

WIS Presents: The Boston Years XVI

For a year that was chock full of great and often influential albums, it kind of…ended with a thud. Granted, new and important albums were rarely ever released that late in Q4 (as I’ve mentioned many times), so it’s kind of expected. If I recall, the fall semester ended on perhaps not a high note but at least a better one than previous. I headed home for the Christmas break, not entirely happy that my grades still weren’t that great, and not being able to hang out with my high school gang all that much — everyone was home with family and we’d only be able to meet up maybe once or twice in the weeks we were in the same place. Instead of doing any New Year’s Eve partying, I chose to stick at home listening to the end of year countdown on WMDK. I didn’t even have a year-end mixtape this time out.

What was my mood then? I seem to remember being irritable. In retrospect, I’m sure it was set off by multiple things: being stuck at home in the small town again, out of touch with both my college friends and the Misfits gang, hardly any money in my pocket, and quite possibly some rocky moments going on with my relationship with T. There was definitely a sense of I don’t know what I want, but I know I don’t want THIS that I had no answer for.

Well, at least it was a new year coming up.

The Neighborhoods, Hoodwinked, released 1 December 1990. A classic local band known for being sort of like Boston’s answer to The Replacements, their boozy guitar driven rockers were always favorites with the locals. The title song got significant airplay on pretty much all the Boston rock stations.

Echo & the Bunnymen, Reverberation, released 1 December 1990. After longtime vocalist Ian McCulloch left the band to start a solo career, the rest of the band soldiered on with a new singer. Alas, the new sound fell flat with the loyal fanbase and the bored critics. That’s not to say it’s a bad album per se…they just updated their sound to fit the groovy Britpop sound a bit and there’s some great singles here worth listening to.

Danielle Dax, Blast the Human Flower, released 8 December 1990. Dax’s last album to date also came and went, her longtime fans being frustrated by its glossy sheen and insertion of dance beats on some of its songs. It just wasn’t…weird enough, I guess? Although her cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” (perhaps riding Candy Flip’s coattails) is worth the price. She’d pretty much disappear from the music scene after this record.

Soho, Goddess, released 8 December 1990. Known for that song that samples “How Soon Is Now” (with the blessing of Johnny Marr at that), this British dance-soul duo may not have translated well on American shores, but “Hippychick” certainly got stuck in everyone’s head for a few months there.

Enigma, MCMXC AD, released 10 December 1990. You could possibly pinpoint the start of the 90s’ emergence of new-agey world-music-as-pop with this one album. The big single “Sadeness” mixes Gregorian chants with dance beats and soothing synths, kicking off so many other bands, produces and DJ collectives putting out similar grooves.

Think Tree, eight/thirteen, released 30 December 1990. After nearly a year after dropping the weird yet exciting “Hire a Bird” single, this strange Boston quintet dropped a mini-album of some of their best songs they’d honed live. It sold incredibly well locally, even despite the long wait. Alas it would take them considerably longer to record and release a follow-up and by that time, their local fame had passed.

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Looking back at 1990, that year, like most beginnings of decades, was one of transition. I remember my history teacher, Reverend Coffee, telling us that important changes in history usually don’t take place at its start but actually a few years in. I thought this was kind of an interesting way to look at it: after all, calendar time is just an arbitrary number to keep things somewhat in order, right? So maybe it wasn’t 1990 that was going to be a huge change, but maybe in the next year or so. Maybe we’d get past this sense of ‘waiting for things to be over with’ and start something new.

At least that’s what I was hoping for when I returned back to college in January. Fingers crossed.

WIS Presents: The Boston Years XV

It’s coming up to the end of the year and the end of the semester, and I think it’s safe to say that I was probably in a reasonably good mood at this point. I say ‘reasonably’ because I knew I’d started wondering if I’d made the right decision in going to the college I did. I was still struggling with homework — I wouldn’t realize until much, much later that I had undiagnosed focus issues since probably 7th grade — and I was just wishing I could finish up this whole education game already. I’d already made some terrible 8mm film experiments that showed that I had interesting ideas and absolutely zero experience. At the same time, however, I started thinking that maybe those interesting ideas was where my creative strengths lie. I also took some radio classes that gave me some interesting ideas as well.

In the meantime, there was still a magnificent wave of great music coming out and I was certainly spending all my money on it.

The House of Love, A Spy in the House of Love, released 1 November 1990. Yet another album with the band’s name in the title (both named after the Anais Nin novel), this time collecting several b-sides and rarities. ‘Marble’, an obscure b-side, ended up getting significant airplay and an official promo video.

Pass the Avocados, Please (Being a Compilation of Manchester, Hip Hop and Other Atrocities) mixtape, created by C Tatro, November 1990. After foisting several mixtapes on my high school friend who was now in his junior year at UMass, he sent me this one in return. It’s a curious mix of tunes that we both loved, heavy on the Madchester with a dash of deep cuts. By the summer of 1991, I’d be responding with my own ‘Avocado’ mix.

The Trashcan Sinatras, Cake, released 5 November 1990. This Scottish band came and went in the US rather quickly, but while they were here, this particular album was a favorite of both music journalists and fans. Light and jangly and full of humor, this album is a joyful listen and I really need to play it more often!

The Beautiful South, Choke, released 13 November 1990. When the Housemartins broke up in 1988, two of its members went on to form this band and have a strong and vibrant career playing lighthearted, cheeky music with a string of British hits to their name.

Lush, Gala, released 13 November 1990. The first official ‘album’ by Lush is actually a compilation of their EPs and singles to date. “De-Luxe” was rereleased to promote it, and this album became a favorite for both critics and fans alike.

Madonna, The Immaculate Collection, released 13 November 1990. It took Madonna a surprisingly long time to release a greatest hits mix, and as was typical of her career, it wasn’t just a collection of her hit singles. Several of the songs were mixed into QSound, an attempt at giving the songs an aural 3-D quality. Two new songs were also added, including the trip-hop inspired “Justify My Love”.

The Sisters of Mercy, Vision Thing, released 13 November 1990. The last new Sisters of Mercy album to date (Andrew Eldritch still tours at this time), This one feels rather glossy compared to the gloomy First and Last and Always or the damp and echoey Floodland, but it fit the changing moods of industrial and goth. It’s definitely of its time.

The Cure, Mixed Up, released 20 November 1990. While us fans were all waiting for a new Cure album (it wouldn’t come for another two years), the band followed up the mega-selling Disintegration with a…remix album? Sure, why not? It’s a wild ride, partly a collection of already-released 12-inch extended remixes and partly an experiment with handing the tapes to producers to turn into something new. And somehow it works!

Buffalo Tom, Birdbrain, released 20 November 1990. This was such a huge hit in the Boston area that you heard it everywhere: on WFNX, WBCN, college stations…I think even hard-rock station WAAF played them for a while! It’s a great album, full of punky, folky songs written by fantastic songwriters.

Happy Mondays, Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, released 27 November 1990. While the Mondays’ previous albums could be scattershot and a mix between a coked-out jam session and an aural car crash, this album saw them break through internationally with tight grooves, smart lyrics, sort-of-on-key singing, and an album chock full of excellent songs. The big hit “Step On” — another Kongos cover they’d kept for themselves — put them on the indie rock map and remains their most popular track.

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Coming towards the end of the year, I started thinking about the various things that had changed in my life to date. I’d remembered entering 1990 thinking how wild it was to be entering the last decade of the last century of the last millennium, but I ended the year thinking maybe a little more close to home: writing new songs and getting better on my bass (and borrowing Jon A’s guitar now and again); approaching my creative writing in different ways; learning to rein in my rampant emotions and thoughts into something a bit more coherent and controllable; and maybe even thinking about who I thought I was versus who I actually wanted to be. It was around this time that I’d finally decided that maybe being the overly moody bastard wasn’t going to work for me for that much longer.