…and here we are at the end of a long year of great music! As always, labels usually focus more on holiday sales of already-released albums than on dropping new ones, so this month was indeed a bit light. A few singles here and there, and that’s it. Personally I was letting myself relax a bit after an incredibly fruitful and creative year by listening to a lot of the records I’d purchased (or gotten as free promos!) from my store. I started working a little on the revision of The Phoenix Effect and starting in on its sequel, and would continue to do so until about late 1999 when I decided a complete rewrite was in order. (That, of course, would become A Division of Souls, the first book in the Bridgetown Trilogy.) I spent New Year’s Eve up at my sister’s place and taping WFNX’s countdown, and driving home early the next morning.
Porcupine Tree, Metanoia EP, released December. I didn’t get into this band until early 1999 when they dropped their fantastic Stupid Dream album, but I’d seen this cd floating around in the back room of the record store. It’s full of instrumental outtakes from their 1996 album Signify but it does go to show how tight they were as a band.
Belle & Sebastian, This Is Just a Modern Rock Song EP, released 7 December. A lovely follow-up EP to their fantastic The Boy with the Arab Strap record from earlier in the year. The title track is a simple three chord tune but it’s got a wonderful slow build.
Beck, “Tropicalia” single, released 7 December. A bit of light-hearted bossa nova fun from his otherwise moody Mutations album, this one got the most airplay from the record on the local alt-rock stations.
All in all, 1998 was a very good year for me. I’d finished up my first novel in years, and I was in a good place financially and emotionally for the first time in ages. I still had a long way to go before I could save enough money to move out on my own, but I was no longer flailing. Things would change soon enough when the store manager moved on to bigger and better things (a regional manager of Newbury Comics — during the post-HMV years I’d run into him every now and again). He was replaced by a much less enjoyable manager, and by 2000 I’d be out of there myself. Despite that, I found myself in a much better frame of mind. And a lot of the tunes from 1998 had a lot to do with it.
Hope you enjoyed my year-long series! I may follow it up with more overviews but I don’t have anything planned as yet. We shall see!
Coming Soon: 2018 Year End Best-of Lists!