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Album #173: Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

In what is probably an all-time first for the UK album chart, the top two positions are currently occupied by two men with a combined age of over a century and a half. Just ahead of Neil Young at the top spot is songwriting legend Bob Dylan, with an incredible 39th studio album of a career spanning nearly 60 years.

Album #168: Moscow Death Brigade – Bad Accent Anthems

I’ve said before on this blog that I sometimes think European bands should sing in their own language rather than write and sing in non-native English. Seemingly taking that criticism and owning it are Russian punk/hip-hop crossover band Moscow Death Brigade on this second album Bad Accent Anthems.

Album #167: Pottery – Welcome to Bobby’s Motel

After a couple of very decent LPs last year, I’ve been looking forward to the debut album from zany and funky indie-rockers Pottery. Here it is, and it somehow feels like the perfect soundtrack to being in the midst of both a heatwave and a pandemic. It’s exuberant and danceable, yet surreal and nonsensical at the same time.

Album #164: Hum – Inlet

I don’t know whether it’s down to the inertia of global lockdown, but the last few months have seen a few artists who have been dormant for ages suddenly drop new albums out of the blue. The X comeback album Alphabetland has been the nice surprise of the year for me so far, and I’ll soon be reviewing Neil Young’s Homegrown, an album written and recorded in the mid-1970s that he’d kept to himself until releasing it last Friday.

Album #157: Sons of Southern Ulster – Sinners and Lost Souls

As a Brit with Irish roots, I always get a bit narked when people use the terms ‘Ulster’ and ‘Northern Ireland’ interchangeably. Hailing from Cavan, one of the three Ulster counties there are not part of the UK, Sons of Southern Ulster seem to be making a point of this distinction in their very name.

Album #152: Big Joanie – Sistahs

Recent worldwide focus on racial equality has made me think about my own music collection and what I’m writing about on this blog. I dread to think what percentage of the artists I’ve covered on here are white, and probably mostly male, so am I prejudiced myself? Am I turned off music made by people who don’t look like me?

Album #146: No Age – Goons Be Gone

It’s a great day for new albums – or rather it was, since I’m typing this after midnight. I’ve listened to no fewer than six releases from yesterday, all of which sounded pretty decent on first listen. This fifth album from noise-rock duo No Age was the first on my list, and the only one I’ve played more than once so far.

Album #144: Pip Blom – Boat

I don’t know why it’s taken me over a month to listen to this debut album. It’s like I’d forgotten how much I liked what I’d heard previously from Pip Blom. I’m also not sure whether Pip Blom is an ‘is’ or an ‘are’ – it’s the lead singer’s name but they seem to be referred to intermittently as a band.

Album #142: Woods – Strange to Explain

I sometimes worry that I’m going against the spirit of this project by sticking largely to music that I would have listened to anyway – punk, post-punk, shoegaze, noise rock and general indie. Often, I start to listening to an album and quickly think “this isn’t for me”, and turn it off. Really, I should listen to it all the way through and give an honest review, whether I liked it or not.

Album #136: The Airborne Toxic Event – Hollywood Park

Blimey! Do the Airborne Toxic Event always sound like this? They’re one of those bands where I thought I had a vague idea of what they sounded like, and I think I might even have seen them at a festival, but I had them down as a straight-up rock or at a push post-rock band. They’ve either changed dramatically or, more likely, they’ve always been a bit like this and I’m just babbling and confused.

Album #135: Tim Burgess – I Love the New Sky

The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess has made a bit of a name for himself during lockdown with his Twitter Listening Parties, where he encourages music fans to listen to a chosen album live and share their experiences and questions on it. What better time than now to release his fifth solo album then?

Album #133: The Candyskins – Sunday Morning Fever

My daughter has taken a liking to the new Cbeebies programme Nick Cope’s Popcast, where the affable, bespectacled presenter quickly comes up with an acoustic song based on a theme given to him by a young viewer. If she’s enjoying a man playing a guitar, it’s a step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned. I had no idea who Nick Cope was though, so I thought I’d look him up.

Album #130: Mogwai – Come On Die Young

The late Haçienda founder Tony Wilson said and did some odd things at times, but he did also come out with some wonderful quotes where I get exactly what he’s talking about. I remember hearing him discuss The Fall once, saying that he wasn’t sure he liked their music, but he was sure he liked the band.

Album#129: Jeff Rosenstock – NO DREAM

Seemingly without any prior announcement at all, punk rocker Jeff Rosenstock decided to drop his fourth album yesterday. We shouldn’t be surprised really as he has a history of bringing them out whenever he wants and not adhering to New Music Friday. His last one, POST, was released on New Year’s Day of 2018, of all days.

Album #128: Violent Soho – Everything Is A-OK

Here’s an album I found completely by mistake while looking for something else. I read up on the band, and with their Wikipedia page saying they’ve been compared to the likes of Pixies and Mudhoney, plus the fact that the album was only released last month, I though it was worth a shot.

Album #126: Perfume Genius – Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

I’m not at all familiar with the work of Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, but with his Wikipedia profile saying his music “explores topics including sexuality, his personal struggle with Crohn’s disease, domestic abuse, and the dangers faced by gay men in contemporary society”, I thought his new fifth album (released last Friday) sounded interesting enough to merit a listen.

Album #125: The Common Linnets – The Common Linnets

I’ve mentioned a few times that since starting this project, I’ve developed perhaps not a love, but certainly a partiality towards country rock. I suppose I’ve always appreciated the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, but I thought they were mainstream enough to be liked by anyone.

Album #124: Cabaret Voltaire – Red Mecca

Sheffield has been a hell of a city for music over the years, and yet its contribution is not really celebrated in the same way as that of Manchester, Liverpool or even Bristol. Perhaps unlike those three cities, it hasn’t really developed a sound synonymous with the place, but has instead simply churned out a succession of high quality artists, from Joe Cocker, to the Human League, to Pulp, to the Arctic Monkeys.

Album #121: Car Seat Headrest – Making a Door Less Open

It’s not hard to see why critics fawn over Car Seat Headrest. They do exactly what bands are supposed to by “developing” their sound and doing something new on every album. Plus they constantly have one out – this is their twelfth studio album in a decade.

Album #120: New Order – Brotherhood

For reasons unbeknown to me, I’ve had New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ in my head for much of yesterday. As I mentioned when reviewing Kraftwerk’s debut recently, I struggle to settle on an album sometimes, and I need to listen to more New Order albums anyway. At least it’s a better excuse than a musician’s death.

Album #116: Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk

A somewhat morbid feature of this project is that I keep listening to and reviewing albums straight after one of their creators dies. I’m not really trying to do this out of any sort of mawkish tribute, but simply because there are far, far more albums out there that I haven’t heard than ones I have, so finding a reason to settle on a particular one isn’t always easy. If they’re in the news, I suppose that’s as good a reason as any.

Album #113: Deacon Blue – City of Love

There’s no doubt that Deacon Blue have written some of the best pop songs ever. I’m mentioned before about my habit of watching the Friday night BBC Four re-runs of Top of the Pops on this blog. As they were working their way through late 1988 when ‘Real Gone Kid’ was in the charts, the excitement around that song was palpable. It’s almost like the presenters were saying “now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…”

Album #110: X – Alphabetland

Well, well – a new X album! Where did this come from? Though the legendary LA punk band have never officially split up since forming in 1977 – largely keeping the same lineup in fact – it’s been 27 years since they last put out an album and though there was talk of them heading back into the studio, it was largely met with a “yeah, right!” reaction.

Album #103: Lull – Moments

Out of boredom earlier this week, I was looking at lists of albums that had an insane number of tracks. The legendary punk compilation Short Music for Short People was on the list and was one I was already familiar with, with its 101 tracks of around 30 seconds each. But a new one on me was this intriguing work by Lull, a side project of Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris.

Album #99: The Pack A.D. – It Was Fun While It Lasted

A few Fridays ago, I had nine or ten albums on my list to listen to. Yesterday was a bit of a damp squib by comparison. The new Ed O’Brien (EOB) and Enter Shikari releases were at the top of my list, but I’m not really feeling it for either on first listen. I may come back to them, but for now I’m moving on to something different.

Album #98: Pearl Jam – Gigaton

I’ve been a bit hesitant to listen to this new album, let alone review it. I’ve never been that big on Pearl Jam, and for a band that have influenced so much of what I like, I feel like I’m a bit ignorant of their back catalogue. Plus I understand that even their most avid fans haven’t been too enthusiastic about their output of the last 10-15 years.

Album #97: Uzeda – Different Section Wires

Listening to the new Flat Worms LP the other day prompted me to explore more albums produced (or ‘engineered’ as he prefers) by Steve Albini. It’s interesting that for every Surfer Rosa, In Utero and Rid of Me on the list, there are about five or six albums on Albini’s list that are from little-known bands of artists.

Album #96: Messed Up – Everything You Believe In

I’ve become intrigued recently by the nation of Belarus. Probably the most oppressive country in Europe, not to mention the most bonkers, their response to the COVID-19 has really highlighted how oddly they do things in this secretive former Soviet state. Not only are they one of the only countries in the world still running their football season, but their president insists nobody has died of the coronavirus in the nation, and nobody will!

Album #95: Bailter Space – Wammo

Lost albums of the ’90s seem to crop up quite a lot on this blog. With the decade offering such a rich scene of indie and alternative music, bands that might have been a sensation at another time often found themselves a little off the radar and rarely talked about today – think Hum, Gene and the Longpigs.

Album #93: Warm Digits – Flight of Ideas

I first heard Warm Digits about two years supporting someone (think it was Pinkshinyultrablast) at the Shipping Forecast in Liverpool. It wasn’t really the kind of music I’d ever seen live before, being very dancy and supported by visual projections. And people were actually dancing rather than moshing. Call me sheltered but it wasn’t my usual gig!

Album #91: Sparta – Trust the River

As I alluded to in my Strokes review, the break-up of At the Drive-In, and the fallout from it in the years since, has been a source of frustration for me throughout adulthood. The magical quintet of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Jim Ward, Omar Rodriguez-López, Paul Hinojos and Tony Hajjar that produced In/Casino/Out (1998) and Relationship of Command (2000) have never fully reunited, aside from for a few shows during 2012. And in the various ways they’ve gone since, I feel none of the members have quite managed to recapture the energy, innovation and control ATDI exerted in their music.

Album #89: Asbestos Guitars – Isolation Tapes

Does this count as an album? Dan Hyndman from Mush, who released one of my favourite records of 2020 so far, has kept himself occupied during the lockdown by writing and recording a collection of tracks from home and uploading them to Bandcamp, under the name Asbestos Guitars.

Album #84: Tamikrest – Tamotaït

I’m rather pleased that less than a quarter of the way through my project, I’ve now covered at least one album from all six inhabited continents. It’s happened pretty naturally as well – alright, I sought out Los Suziox from Colombia because I wanted to hear some South American punk, but I found myself reviewing an Argentine band yesterday, and that was just something I stumbled upon.

Album #81: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Viscerals

From arguably the coolest-named band around at the moment comes this fifth album, cementing a unique concoction of punk, sludge metal and (sort of) psychedelia. I’ve seen them described as ‘Black Flag/Sabbath’, such is their marriage of hardcore punk and heavy metal.

Albums #80: Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, is an interesting artist. From what I’ve heard (and to her credit) she sounds pretty different from one album to the next. I liked her last album, 2017’s Out in the Storm, which had a bit of an ’80s synth vibe in parts. ‘Hear You’ was a great song in particular, that stayed in my head for weeks.

Album #79: Purity Ring – Womb

Canadian electronic pop duo Purity Ring came into mainstream attention here in the UK when their song ‘Fineshrine’ was featured on an advert for Very. It’s a great song that deserves to be heard as a bit more than a soundtrack to the sale of middle-market clothing, although the album it came from, their debut ‘Shrines’, didn’t really win me over that track aside.

Album #76: The Orb – Abolition of the Royal Familia

I like The Orb. I think more so than their music, I like what they represent – the antidote to rave and the soundtrack of the comedown. I also love their offbeat behaviour, such as playing chess live on Top of the Pops while a segment of ‘Blue Room’ played in 1992.

Album #75: Ringo Deathstarr – Ringo Deathstarr

I always think when one of Ringo Deathstarr first suggested the name, they probably laughed and said “yeah, we’ll go with that!” By the third or fourth time, they had probably stopped laughing, and now they must just go “oh God, why did we call ourselves that?”