Wednesday, September 18, 2019

CD Odyssey: The First 1300

As is tradition, I’m taking the arbitrary arrival at a big round number to reflect back on the last 100 reviews.

What stands out this time is that I found a lot more 5-star albums than usual crossing my path. I also became a lot more mercenary about parting company with albums that didn’t inspire me, partly because I overdid my enthusiasm over newly discovered artists, and partly because I’ve only got so much shelf space.

The previous 100 albums yielded only 4 perfect scores, but between Disc 1201 and 1300 this number ballooned to 10. They were:
  • St. Vincent – Masseduction (Disc 1206)
  • St. Vincent – MassEducation (Disc 1207)
  • Nazareth – Loud ‘N’ Proud (Disc 1235)
  • Hurray For the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes (Disc 1244)
  • Ice-T – O.G. Original Gangster (Disc 1247)
  • Lucius – Nudes (Disc 1252)
  • Gillian Welch – Hell Among the Yearlings (Disc 1283)
  • Better Oblivion Community Center – Self-Titled (Disc 1292)
  • Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold (Disc 1294)
  • Mattiel – Satis Factory (Disc 1300)

Six of those albums were released in the last three years, proving there is plenty of great music being made right now. Particularly St. Vincent. I’ve gone back into her back catalogue even further as a result of these two gems, and found even more great music.

The oldest was 1973’s “Loud ‘N’ Proud” which is one of the first albums I ever bought. You could argue it had a sentimental advantage, but I would argue it is just plain great.

No albums fell as low as a single star, but I still parted with 10 that ranked between 2 and 3 stars. They weren’t all bad, but for one reason or another I didn’t feel like I’d put them on enough to justify keeping them. The best thing about letting a good record go is that it will end up in the collection of someone else who’ll appreciate it more than you did.

Here’s the list of records that I parted with over the last 100:
  • Amelia Curran, “Watershed” (3 stars) – This was a solid folk record, but I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to play it enough. I gave it the good home it deserved.
  • Lucy Dacus, “Historian” (3 stars) – A friend bought me this record and I liked it, but despite amazing tracks like “Night Shift” I knew deep down I wasn’t likely to play the whole record often enough.
  • Dar Williams “In the Time of the Gods (2 stars) – I love Dar Williams and this album was the result of me glutting myself on her collection and then paring back when I realized I’d gone too far. Even so, I still have four of her albums.
  • Jethro Tull “Stand Up” (3 stars) – This is a classic album by the standards of most music lovers, but not for me. Weirdly, I prefer Jethro Tull’s synthy eighties phase.
  • Nilufer Yanya “Miss Universe” (3 stars) – This record is the one I came closest to keeping. Yanya is a brilliant new talent in the field of pop music and has a bright future, but this record didn’t call to my heart like I hoped it would when I first heard it.
  • 10cc, “How Dare You?” (2 stars) – I fell hard for 10cc and bought three of their albums, but the first one I reviewed came up short. Hopefully the other two fare better.
  • Capercaillie, “Roses and Tears (2 stars) – One of my all-time favourite folk bands, but another example of where I have too many other albums that I simply like better – in this case, eight of them.
  • Little Feat, “The Last Record Album” (2 stars) – I was temporarily blinded by the brilliant pop song “Long Distance Love” but when I came to my senses I realized I had three other Little Feat albums that were all better overall.
  • B. Dolan, “The Failure” (2 stars) – This album has a killer spoken word track honouring Evel Knievel but otherwise it didn’t grab me.
  • Marissa Nadler, “Little Hells” (2 stars) – Like a lot of albums on this list, “Little Hells” was me falling for a new (to me) discovery and over-indulging on their back catalogue. I still have four other albums by Marissa Nadler and while I admire her songwriting and love her voice, I am nervous that her ambient style will continue to chafe at my bias for crisp, spacious production.

Alice Cooper continues to be my most reviewed artist, at 28 albums. Steve Earle takes over sole possession of second with 20 and Tom Waits comes in third at 19.

Thanks for reading!

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