Favorite Albums of All Time: 240-231


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

240

Artist: “Weird Al” Yankovic
Title: Straight Outta Lynwood
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • White & Nerdy
  • Canadian Idiot
  • Polkarama!
  • Confessions Part III
  • Trapped in the Drive-Thru
  • Don’t Download This Song

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Surprisingly not until 2017 when I did Music Discovery for Weird Al.

Thoughts: Weird Al has persisted as one of the great song parodists for five decades by always keeping with music of the time and by being a talented musician.  And he has a quirky sense of humor that transcends generations. I had several Weird Al albums under consideration for this list and determined that I should widdle it down to just one.  It came to the conclusion that Straight Outta Lynwood was Yankovic’s most perfect album with no real dead spots, which was surprising since it wasn’t one I listened to when it first came out.  A bit of trivia I learned recently that I’ll share with anyone else who has limited knowledge of Southern California geography: Lynwood is right next to Compton.

Bonus Sounds:

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D (1984) was my first of Al’s albums and one I played to death while driving my mother and sister crazy. It includes the classic Michael Jackson parody “Eat It” but also some great originals like “Buy Me a Condo” in which a reggae man goes yuppie.
  • Off the Deep End (1992) was a hit of my college years with Al going grunge on “Smells Like Nirvana.” I, however, stayed around for Al’s original take on sensitive, acoustic love songs ” You Don’t Love Me Anymore.”
  • Mandatory Fun (2014) came out big with eight music videos released in eight days upon release.  After having fallen away from Weird Al and being reunited with him twice before, I knew that I was truly a Weird Al fan for life.  Mandatory Fun includes up to the minute parodies like “Tacky” and “Word Crimes” that may have stood the test of time better than the originals.
  • If you’ve read this far about Weird Al, check out my reviews of his cult movie UHF and seeing him in concert at the Apollo Theater in 2018.

239

Artist: Taylor Swift
TitleRed
Year: Original recording (2012), Taylor’s Version (2021)
Favorite Tracks:

  • State of Grace
  • I Knew You Were Trouble
  • All Too Well
  • 22
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  • Nothing’s New

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Listening to Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums last year.

Thoughts: I don’t think a year or so I would have considered that Taylor Swift would have an album on my all-time favorite album list.  But the more I’ve heard of Swift’s music the more I’ve come to appreciate her songwriting and artistry. I can honestly understand the excitement of this album’s rerecorded release last fall.

Bonus Sounds: The only other Swift album I’ve listened to completely is 1989, which contains some of her biggest hits like “Shake it Off” and “Blank Space.”  I expect there will be more Taylor Swift in my future.


238

Artist: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
Title: Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham 
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Know a Guy Named Larry
  • Aunt’s Invasion
  • In My Room
  • Who Painted Whistler’s Mother
  • Siesta Cinema

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I got this album when I was a Freshman in college in 1991.

Thoughts: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet were a band from Toronto active in the early 1990s who played instrumental music in what is often described as a surf music style. While the songs have no lyrics, the amusing titles are incredibly evocative.  Just goes to show you that the early 90s was not all about Grunge.  I used to play this while I was studying in college, so I credit my good grades to this band of esoteric Canadians.

Bonus Sounds: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet are most famous for their tune “Having an Average Weekend” which was used as the theme song for The Kids in the Hall. A lot of the tracks on Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham appear as interstitial music on the show as well.


237

 

Artist: Christy Moore
Title: Voyage
Year: 1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mystic Lipstick
  • The Voyage
  • The Deportees Club
  • Missing You
  • Musha, God Help Her

The First Time I Heard This Album …: A co-worker who also appreciated Irish folk music gave me two albums by Christy Moore as a birthday gift in the mid-oughts.

Thoughts: Christy Moore is known for traditional Irish music and folk music, dating back to the 1960s with the band Planxty.  This album is unusual in that it is mostly interpretations of pop songs by other artists with electronic instrumentation supplementing the more traditional instruments.  This could sound cheezy in a very 80s way but here it works atmospherically supporting Moore’s voice.  What is cheezy, in a good way, is the title track which is the perfect metaphor for a marriage.  I also love the cover of Elvis Costello’s “The Deportees Club.”  Costello is a guest artist on the album as well as Sinead O’Connor and Mary Black.

Bonus Sounds: There’s another Christy Moore album coming up in this list, but beyond that I’ve only owned the compilation The Christy Moore Collection 1981–1991 and the concert recording Live at the Point.  Probably should dive into the Planxty and Moving Hearts stuff in the future.


236

Artist: Leonard Cohen
Title: You Want It Darker
Year: 2016
Favorite Tracks:

  • You Want It Darker
  • Treaty
  • Leaving the Table
  • Steer Your Way

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I listened to and reviewed You Want It Darker right around the time of its release in October 2016.

Thoughts: I want to say that Leonard Cohen went out on a high note, but his voice is nevermore earth-shakingly deep as it sounds here.  You Want It Darker was released just 17 days before Cohen died on November 7, 2016 and it shows that he was the master of his art right up to his final days.

Bonus Sounds: You really can’t go wrong with Leonard Cohen, an artist who kept reinventing himself over 6 decades. I have another Cohen album coming up in this list but there are several more that I could’ve added, including:

  • Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
  • I’m Your Man (1988)
  • The Future (1992)

I’d also recommend checking out his live recordings. I had the privilege to see Leonard Cohen in concert and he was a consummate professional in performance.


235

Artist: The Benders
TitleMountain Radio
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Great Tear of Josie and Ed
  • The Road Home
  • Double Yellow
  • Cheers to the First Snow
  • Shovel Full of Dreams
  • Liquor Is Your Best Friend

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Probably after I bought the album at a Club Passim concert.

Thoughts: This is the first of a couple of albums on the list by the Somerville bluegrass boys.  They weren’t all boys and they weren’t all from Somerville but that’s where they seemed to congregate.  Anyhow, there were a number of bands with fluid lineups in the late 90s/early 00s that I followed that played new takes on old-time music and bluegrass and most of them seemed to involve Sean Staples. The Benders seems to be a common name for bands and thus hard to locate the right one in a search engine but Mountain Radio is on Spotify should you wish to check it out.

Bonus Sounds: This Boston-area folk music scene started a kind of collective that played tunes from the American songbook around the table in the style of an Irish pub session, which was appropriately called Session Americana and they still perform today.


234

Artist: Young Fathers
Title: Cocoa Sugar
Year: 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fee Fi
  • In My View
  • Turn
  • Tremelo
  • Wow
  • Wire
  • Toy

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I listened to and reviewed this album shortly after its release in March 2018.

Thoughts: The Scottish trio Young Fathers are one of the most delightfully genre-undefinable bands of the past decades. The sound is a mix of rap, electronic music, soul, and psychedelia.  Cocoa Sugar is the band’s third and most recent album.  If they continue their upward swing, their next album should be quite good.

Bonus Sounds: I’ve written a lot about Young Fathers over the years on this blog.  Stand out songs from earlier in their catalog include “Low” (2014) and “Shame” (2015).


233

Artist: X-Ray Spex
Title: Germfree Adolescents
Year: 1978
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Warrior in Woolworths”
  • “Let’s Submerge”
  • “I Can’t Do Anything”
  • “Identity”
  • “The Day the World Turned Day-Glo”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Another late in life discovery of the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums project.

Thoughts: Poly Styrene cheerfully embraces the slacker ethos over raging guitars and soaring saxes.  This was the only X-Ray Spex album, meaning that there’s nothing out there that sounds like this.

Bonus Sounds: A documentary released last year, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche, will be playing at a theater near me soon, so I hope to see it and post a review for you.


232

Artist: Wire
Title: Pink Flag
Year: 1977
Favorite Tracks:

  • Three Girl Rhumba
  • Ex Lion Tamer
  • Pink Flag
  • 106 Beats
  • Mannequin

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Another album revealed to me the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums project.

Thoughts: The debut album from Wire came out during the heyday of punk, but it seems to fit in perfectly with the alternative rock 90s.  Perhaps that’s why Wire had such a long career.

 


231

Artist: The Kinks
Title: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Village Green Preservation Society
  • Picture Book
  • Big Sky
  • Sitting by the Riverside
  • Village Green
  • Phenomenal Cat
  • All of My Friends Were There

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I’ve loved the title track for a long time but I only listened to the album in its entirety last year.

Thoughts: This collection of baroque pop and folk rock tunes offers a paean to the pastoral life of the countryside, something that even a thoroughly urban person like me can appreciate.

Bonus Sounds: One of these days I’m going to have to do a Music Discovery and listen to all of The Kinks’ albums in order.  But my first experience with The Kinks goes all the way back to 1982 with the song “Come Dancing” which I think has some of the same nostalgic longing for a simpler time as this album.

Album of the Week: The Overload by Yard Act


AlbumThe Overload
Artist: Yard Act
Release Date: January 21, 2022
Label: Zen F.C.
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Overload
  • Rich
  • 100% Endurance

Thoughts: Yard Act of Leeds, England perform a throwback post-punk style offering Clash-like political commentary for a post-Brexit Britain. Lead vocalist James Smith use a speak-sing style with lyrics that amuse and scold.  This is a good debut album from a band that should be worth following.

Rating: ***1/2

Favorite Albums of All Time: 250-241


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are.

Going forward I will be counting down ten more albums every other Wednesday (I wasn’t ready to start on Wednesday this week since it took time to rank my list!).

250

Artist: Happy Mondays
Title: Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches
Year:  1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • God’s Cop
  • Loose Fit
  • Bob’s Yer Uncle
  • Step On
  • Harmony

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Happy Mondays were on heavy rotation on the local modern rock station, WERS, so I’d heard many of the songs and wanted the album. I went to a new record shop and the clerk thought I was buying the soundtrack to “Happy Days.” I guess he wasn’t all too hip.
Thoughts: Before grunge, alternative music was “baggy” or the “Madchester sound” from the UK.  And maddest of those bands was Happy Mondays.  Get this, they had a member of the band named Bez who didn’t sing or play an instrument, he just danced manically around the stage. I wasn’t a recreational drug user, but the thoroughly stoned vibe of this music resonated with me all the same.  The lyrics aren’t so great, so it’s good they’re hard to understand.

Bonus Sounds: Fellow Madchester act, The Charlatans had a hit with “The Only One I Know.”  Except I always heard my own name in the song (“Liam, the one I know”, and I wasn’t the only one.


249

Artist: The Nields
Title: Gotta Get Over Greta
Year :1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Taxi Girl
  • Gotta Get Over Gretta
  • Best Black Dress
  • I Know What Kind of Love This Is
  • Cowards
  • Lovely Rita

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I probably first became aware of The Nields at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 1999 and I also was gifted a mixtape with “Lovely Rita” (a rare cover that is better than the original) at the same time.  I probably acquired the album sometime later that year.
Thoughts: This folk pop band from Western Massachusetts was big on the folk music circuit when I was following it in the late 90s/early 00s. At the time the band was sisters Katryna and Nerissa Nields and three guys named David. This album goes to some dark places and the songwriting does a great job of capturing the women’s voice in various situations.

Bonus Sounds: I went through a time when The Nields were one of my favorite bands and enjoyed their albums PlayIf You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, and Live from Northampton among others.  The sisters Nields ditched the Daves in the early 00s and are still performing to this day.


248

Artist: The Paperboys
Title: Molinos
Year:1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • Molinos
  • Waste Some Time
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face (the second straight album with a great interpretation of a Beatles’ tune)
  • Same for Everyone
  • After the First Time
  • Ray’s Ukrainian Wine Cellar Polka/Nelli’s Afterthought

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I’m guessing I also learned of The Paperboys at a folk festival or maybe they opened for another artist I liked sometime around 1999-2000.  And then I bought the CD.
Thoughts: The Paperboys are a Western Canadian band lead by Tom Landa that play a Celtic Rock sound mixed with other forms of roots and world music. Their music has an earnest quality to it with a lot of musical virtuosity.

Bonus Sounds: While Molinos is the best album by The Paperboys that I’m aware of, I also liked Postcards (2000) which contains the great track “Still the Night,” and there 2002 “greatest hits” compilation Tenure. I haven’t kept up with the band but apparently they’re still active, although the lineup has turned over with only Landa remaining in place.


247

ArtistThe Pinker Tones
Title: Wild Animals
Year: 2008
Favorite Tracks:

  • S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T
  • On Se Promenait
  • The Whistling Song
  • Happy Everywhere
  • Working Bees

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I’m pretty sure I was introduced to The Pinker Tones by NPR’s All Songs Considered and soon became obsessed with “S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T” and eventually acquired the whole album.
Thoughts: The Pinker Tones are a duo of Mister Furia and Professor Manso from Barcelona. The Pinker Tones sound is eclectic, listed as indie pop and alternative on Wikipedia, but there’s also a lot of funk and electronic dance in their sound mixed with lounge music and traditional European pop.

I love this video for “Fugaz.”  They just want their dance back so much.

Bonus Sounds: The Pinker Tones are apparently still active, but don’t seem to have released a new studio album in a decade.  I remember trying to listen to some of their other albums and not finding I liked anything as much as Wild Animals.

 


246

Artist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Title: Fever to Tell
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Date With the Night
  • Black Tongue
  • Pin
  • Maps
  • Y Control

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I discovered the debut album by New York City’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs by randomly browsing through the CDs at the public library, maybe a year or two after the album was released.
Thoughts: I immediately came to like the “dance punk” tunes with Karen O’s unique vocal stylings and it was in heavy rotation back when I had an iPod and listened to it a lot.  I became reacquainted with the album last year when I listened to it for the Rolling Stone 500 project and realized it had stood the test of time.

Bonus Sounds: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released three more albums after Fever to Tell, but I haven’t listened to any of them.  They appear to be still together but have been quiet for the past decade. Another album I found at the library by a band from NYC that I really liked (but didn’t make this list) is Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol.


245

Artist: The Shins
Title: Chutes Too Narrow
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mine’s Not a High Horse
  • So Says I
  • Saint Simon
  • Pink Bullets

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Round about 2004 I was looking for new bands to listen to and I didn’t always find them at the library.  Natalie Portman could’ve told me that The Shins “will change your life” but I didn’t hear that from her until a few years later so I think it was actually an online magazine like Pitchfork or Paste.
Thoughts: The Shins are a band from New Mexico that play a bright style of indie pop that masks deeper introspection in the lyrics.  This is another album that was in high rotation during my iPod Era (ca. 2004-2012), which is apropos since The Shins music probably could’ve been used in an ad for Apple products (that may sound like a dig, but it isn’t).  It was nice to revisit this album after a long time.

Bonus Sounds: The Shins have a lot of turnover over the years with only James Mercer remaining from the original lineup. The success of Chutes Too Narrow seemed to negatively affect him and the handful of albums by The Shins since then haven’t measured up in my ears.


244

Artist: Various
Title: Channel 1 – A Compilation Of Output Recordings
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fridge – “Anglepoised”
  • Four Tet – “Calamine (Radio Version)”
  • Sonovac – “High-On-Tech”
  • Gramme – “Like U”
  • LB – “Superbad” (yes, it’s a cover of the James Brown track)
  • Soft Verge  – “Microbial”

 

The First Time I Heard This Album …: So I have picked out albums randomly from the library shelves and downloaded the from iTunes, but how about buying an album from a store unheard? That’s how I acquired this collection of electronic music from the now defunct Twisted Village in Harvard Square, a store that specialized in esoteric music with no commercial potential.
Thoughts: Output Recordings was a British label that focused on various forms of electronic music and only existed from 1996 to 2006.  This compilations contains tracks you can dance to and tracks you can meditate to, and is a really good representation of electronic music circa 2000.

Bonus Sounds: At some point, I returned to Twisted Village and picked up Channel 2 – A Compilation Of Output Recordings (2003) but it didn’t have the same magic, although I did love the retro 80’s soul sound of “Ice Skating Girl” by Rekindle.  I have kept up with the output of Four Tet over the years, but I have no idea what happened to any of the artists on either of these compilations.


243

Artist: Hothouse Flowers
Title: Songs From The Rain
Year:1992
Favorite Tracks:

  • An Emotional Time
  • Be Good
  • Isn’t It Amazing
  • Thing of Beauty
  • Stand Beside Me

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I participated in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide as a rider in 1999 and 2000 and there was this great song that played at the end of the orientation video.  Finally, as the 2000 ride was ending I finally was able to find out from someone that the song was “Thing of Beauty” by Hothouse Flowers.
Thoughts: Hothouse Flowers are a band from Dublin, Ireland who had some success in the late 80s in the wake of U2.  I hadn’t given them much thought until I learned that they were the band behind “Thing of Beauty” (which was actually a Top 40 hit for them in 1993, but I missed it at the time). Songs from the Rain is full of the bands rock tunes with soul and gospel flourishes, many of them raving up into great singalongs.

Bonus Sounds: I still never warmed up to Hothouse Flowers’ other works, although I really love the track “Christchurch Bells” from their 1990 album Home.  I saw the band’s leader Liam Ó Maonlaí perform solo at Club Passim in Cambridge in 2005.  He is very tall and plays the didgeridoo, an indigenous Australian instrument.  I got a copy of his solo album Rian that night but didn’t listen to it much. As for the Boston –> New York AIDSRide, there is one other song that alway brings back memories of those events.


242

Artist: Jim’s Big Ego
Title: Noplace Like Nowhere
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Stress
  • Concrete
  • Prince Charming
  • Boston Band
  • She’s Dead
  • Slow

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Probably picked it up at a Jim’s Big Ego show when it was released in 2000.
Thoughts: I first Boston folk rock band Jim’s Big Ego play at First Night 1999 when their set included songs like “Stress” and “She’s Dead.” I got a couple of their albums that night and would see Jim Infantino and co several times over the next 5+ years.  Noplace Like Nowhere was their first release after I’d been seeing them for a while and it had higher production values than their earlier releases, including new recordings of “Stress” and “She’s Dead.”  But it was new songs like “Concrete” and “Prince Charming” that one me over, both by being less sarcastic and just being plain great pop songs.

Bonus Sounds: I had the albums Titanic (1996), Don’t Get Smart (1998), and They’re Everywhere (2003) which all have some great tracks, plus there were always some great songs I heard in concert that weren’t on any album.  I kind of drifted away from JBE circa 2005.  The band is still out there, though, although like many of the bands in this post they haven’t released any new recordings for a decade.


241

Artist: The Go! Team
Title: The Scene Between
Year:  2015
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Scene Between”
  • “Blowtorch”
  • “Catch Me on the Rebound”
  • “The Art of Getting By (Song For Heaven’s Gate)”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Not to be a stereotype, but this is another band I learned about through NPR’s All Songs Considered.  I had heard songs from their previous albums but the title song of this album really won me over.
Thoughts: The Go! Team are an outfit from the UK who mix performances of upbeat indie pop with samples of things like cheerleader chants, hip hop, space-age bachelor pad music, and obscure movie soundtracks.  It’s something called plunderphonics.  “The Scene Between” sounds like a gospel choir gone psychedelic with a suitably trippy video to accompany it.

Bonus Sounds: I’ve kept up with The Go! Team since 2015 and written about them on this blog.  While nothing quite measures up to The Scene Between, they’re always good if you’re looking for something different and upbeat.


 

Album Review: Things Take Time, Take Time by Courtney Barnett


Album: Things Take Time, Take Time
Artist: Courtney Barnett
Release Date: November 12, 2021
Label: Mom & Pop
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Rae Street”
  • “Here’s the Thing”
  • “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight”

Thoughts: I’ve long been a fan of Australian artist Courtney Barnett, so I’m always excited about a new release.  On this album, the tempo shifts to slower than previous works and Barnett’s singing sounds a bit tired, thematically appropriate to the lyrics that speak of a sense of resignation.  My first sense is that I don’t like this sound as much as Barnett’s earlier albums, but it is still high-quality music worth listening to.
Rating: ***

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Album Review: Let Me Do One More by Illuminati Hotties


Album: Let Me Do One More
Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Label: Snack Shack Tracks
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pool Hopping”
  • “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA”
  • “Threatening Each Other Re: Capitalism”
  • “Growth”

Thoughts: I’ve been following illuminati hotties since the group’s first album in 2017 and enjoy the infectious punk rave-up sound with touches of bubblegum.  Sarah Tudzin, who leads the project, calls it “tenderpunk.”  The music may make you overlook the intelligent lyrics that focus on both the personal and the political, so listen carefully.
Rating: ***1/2

Previously Reviewed:

Album Review: Twin Plagues by Wednesday


Album: Twin Plagues
Artist: Wednesday
Release Date: August 13, 2021
Label: Orindal Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “They Burned Down Dairy Queen”
  • “How Can You Live If You Can’t Love How Can You If You Do”
  • “Gary’s”
  • “Ghost of a Dog”

Thoughts” The Asheville, North Carolina quintet has a 90s sound without feeling retro. Vocalist Karly Hartzman sings introspective lyrics with a bit of a twang over crunching guitars. It’s kind of like The Nields crossed with My Bloody Valentine. All the tracks are lo-tempo, but there’s enough variation in the music and emotion in the vocals that it never gets tedious.
Rating: ***

Album Review: Cavalcade by black midi


Album: Cavalcade
Artist: black midi
Release Date: 26 May 2021
Label: Rough Trade
Favorite Tracks:

  • “John L”
  • “Hogwash and Balderdash”
  • “Ascending Forth”

Thoughts: black midi are an experimental rock band from the UK with hints of prog rock, jazz fusion, and just plain noise. Their music is not easy to describe but it’s defined by odd rhythms and unexpected chord changes.  There’s a bouncy guitar and bass rhythm on many tracks that reminds me of Primus but nothing else does.  It’s definitely something worth checking out if you’re looking for something different.
Rating: ***

Album Review: They’re Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi


Album: They’re Calling Me Home
Artist: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi
Release Date: April 9, 2021
Label: Nonesuch Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Calling Me Home”
  • “Avalon”
  • “I Shall Not Be Moved”
  • “Bully For You”
  • “Amazing Grace”

Thoughts: Rhiannon Giddens, an innovative interpreter of various types of American traditional music is once again joined by Italian instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi.  They both live in Ireland now and recorded this collection as a response to the COVID pandemic.  The traditional songs are thematically joined by theme of home as a place one longs for as well as the theme of death as the ultimate home for all of us.  Giddens voice is gorgeous on these songs and the instrumentation and arrangements are simple but still remarkable.
Rating: ****1/2

Related Post:  Album Review: there is no Other by Rhiannon Giddens (with Franceso Turrisi)

Album Review: One More Saturday Night by The Halluci Nation


Album: One More Saturday Night
Artist: The Halluci Nation
Release Date: July 30, 2021
Label: The Halluci Nation
Favorite Tracks:

  • “It’s Over”
  • “NDN Kars (Remix)”
  • “The OG”
  • “Collaboration ≠ Appropriation”

Thoughts:

Formerly known as A Tribe Called Red, The Halluci Nation are a duo of Tim “2oolman” Hill and Ehren “Bear Witness” Thomas, First Nations artists who mix electronic sounds with traditional indigenous musical styles.  They originated their sound at Electric Pow Wow club nights in Ottawa and have continued to wow me with their albums and singles over the years.  On this latest release they are joined by many guest artists and venture into different styles like hip hop, dubstep, and R&B, although the electric pow wow remains at the base of it all.

Rating: ***1/2

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Album Review: Welcome 2 America by Prince


Album: Welcome 2 America
Artist: Prince
Release Date: July 30, 2021
Label: NPG
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Welcome 2 America”
  • “Stand Up And B Strong”
  • “When She Comes”
  • “One Day We Will All B Free”

Thoughts: Recorded in 2010, this is the first posthumous album of previously-unreleased songs by Prince.  Backed by by bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Chris Coleman, the album contains funky tracks reminiscent of P-Funk as well as earlier Prince music.  Lyrically, the songs focus on topical issues of 2010, many of which feel relevant still in 2021.  The problem is that as a protest song writer, Prince has no subtly.  He observes a lot of America’s problems but really has nothing to say about those problems. With that being said, it’s a solid album by a great artist and his collaborators, even if it pales besides his best work.
Rating: ***

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