Albums of the Month: July 2016


I’m adding to my stable of music criticism posts by introducing a new Albums of the Month feature.  The basic gist is that on the second Wednesday of the month (or, as is the case when I procrastinate, on Friday), I will write reviews of 3-5 albums released within the past three months (in this case May, June, and July of 2016).  If there’s an album you love that you’d like me to review, post a suggestion below.  Similarly, if there’s an album you hate that you want me to pillory, also let me know.  And if there’s an album you’re timid about listening to and want me to try first, I’m open to anything.

Ratings scale:

***** – An all-time classic album (highly recommended)

**** – Great album (recommended)

*** – Solid album (consider buying or streaming/downloading top tracks)

** – Weak album (only consider streaming/downloading top tracks)

* – Poor album (not recommended)


ARTISTJames Blake
ALBUMThe Colour in Anything
RELEASE DATE: 6 May 2016
RATING: ***
COMMENTS:  Blake’s gospel-style voice is paired with electronic sounds or sometimes a piano in this mournful album of love lost and a directionless life. This is a headphone album to hear the textures deep in the sounds in the often spare arrangements.  This is not something to put on when you’re already feeling blue.  Despite the title, this is a colourless, muted recording.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Points,” “Waves Know Shores,” “Always,” and “Meet You in the Maze.”


ARTISTTourist 
ALBUM: U
RELEASE DATE: 6 May 2016
RATING: **1/2
COMMENTS: Reminiscent of Passion Pit and Jamie xx, this is electronic music that is danceable but introspective.  The standout tracks are excellent but overall it sounds repetitive and dull.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Run,” “To Have You Back,” and “Foolish.”


ARTISTRadiohead
ALBUMA Moon Shaped Pool
RELEASE DATE: 8 May 2016
RATING: ***
COMMENTS: Quiet and folky with orchestral flourishes, sometimes reminiscent of  Sigur Ros and early 70’s folk pop, This is not as innovative as I’m accustomed from Radiohead and while a worthy addition to their catalog, it’s not a vital one.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Burn the Witch” and “Desert Island Disk”


ARTISTFlume
ALBUMSkin
RELEASE DATE: 27 May 2016
RATING: **
COMMENTS:A downtempo electronic album feels the strains of anxiety and uncertainty, especially in the high register vocals of the many guest artists.  A few songs stand out, but overall this is kind of a drag.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Never Be Like You (featuring Kai)”, “Wall Fuck,” and “Tiny Cities (featuring Beck)”


ARTISTMoon Hooch
ALBUMRed Sky
RELEASE DATE: 10 June 2016
RATING: ****
COMMENTS: This is the latest collection of saxophone tunes with EDM arrangements. Mostly instrumental, but a few vocal tracks (with less sax because they’re singing – duh).  A great party record.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS: “Sunken Ship,”  “That’s What They Say,” “Something Else,” and “Alien Invasion”


ARTISTBlood Orange
ALBUMFreetown Sound
RELEASE DATE: 18 June 2016
RATING: ***
COMMENTS: This album bridges 80s r&b rhythms and sounds (a definite Michael Jackson influence) with socially conscious lyrics.  I want to like it more than I do.
OUTSTANDING TRACKS:  “By Ourselves,” “Augustine,” “But You,” and “Hands Up”


Ten Favorite Songs of 2003


The project continues with my favorite songs of 2003.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

Ten more years to go!

Cheers to the First Snow –  The Benders

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Coin-Operated Boy – The Dresden Dolls

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Hey Ya! – OutKast

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Juice & June – Kris Delmhorst

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Mix Tape –  Jim’s Big Ego

[This song could be between any two others]

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Plea From a Cat Named Virtute – The Weakerthans

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Quelqu’un m’a dit – Carla Bruni

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Saint Simon – The Shins

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There, There (The Boney King of Nowhere) – Radiohead

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Twisted Niche – Hum Machine

[a clip at Amazon ]

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And my song of shame for 2003: Milkshake –  Kelis

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What are your favorite songs of 2003?  Let me know in the comments!

Ten Favorite Songs of 1997


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1997.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

Best Black Dress – The Nields

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Brimful Of Asha – Cornershop

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The Drunken Piper – Natalie MacMaster

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Moby Octopad – Yo La Tengo

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No Surprises – Radiohead

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Peace in the Valley –  Alabama 3

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Reunion Hill –  Richard Shindell

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Tubthumping –  Chumbawamba

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Waste Some Time – Paperboys

[The Internet does not have time to waste on this song. :( ]

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You Will Go to the Moon –  Moxy Fruvous

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And my song of shame for 1997: Doctor Jones – Aqua

You’re probably not talking to me after that one, but if you are let me know of a song you love from 1997.