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Showing posts from November, 2019

100 Albums Supplemental: CDs On Tape

So here we are... closing out November with the final 100 album supplemental.

A few posts ago I mentioned that my dad used to put his vinyl albums on cassette. Well, today I want to talk about me putting CDs on tape.

I was obsessed with CDs from the time I was in middle school, and began collecting music aggressively through record clubs--I was a member of both Columbia House and BMG at different points in my life. But I never had a car with a factory-installed CD player until... well... about six years ago. Oh, I rigged up tape adapters and what-not, but as a teen and college student, mostly I would take my favorite CDs and put them on tape--and this was how I consumed most of the music I listened to. Gas was cheap in the late 90s, so I was in the car constantly. Not surprisingly, some of my favorite albums today are the ones I listened to over and over again in the car because they fit conveniently on a blank tape. Format, as they say, drives function.

Blank tapes were available in …

100 Albums: "M.U. - The Best Of Jethro Tull" by Jethro Tull

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Jethro Tull
Title:M.U. - The Best Of Jethro Tull
Released: 1976
Genre: classic prog


What do you do when you're a working band in England in the 60s and are so bad that you can't get booked at a club more than once? Obviously, you keep changing your name, and that's exactly what Ian Anderson's band did. Names were supplied by staffers at the band's booking agency, and when they finally got asked to come back, they were playing under the name Jethro Tull, after the famous 18th-century agriculturalist who perfected the horse-drawn seed drill.

Music. It's glamorous, yo.

For most of its history, Tull was mostly Anderson, who would play the flute while standing on one leg and wearing a codpiece, although Martin Barre was the guitarist for the entire period covered by this album. M.U. was the first proper greatest hits album for the band, containing only one new song called Rai…

100 Albums: "Boy King" by Wild Beasts

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Wild Beasts
Title:Boy King
Released: 2016
Genre: dreamwave art pop


We're following up The History Of Apple Pie with Wild Beasts, so welcome to English Synthwave week.

Boy King by Wild Beasts is one of those albums where I can never remember which is the band name and which is the album name. They're an English synthwave band who are rocking that 80s nostalgia sheen super hard. Boy King is the band's most successful album and also the last full-length album they recorded before breaking up in early 2018 to pursue solo projects.

The music is all compressed drums with sawtooth synth pads slathered with delay. Every now and then a guitar line wanders in and plinks out a few notes, as if unsure if it's supposed to be there or not. The sound is big and atmospheric and bright and danceable and vaguely dark and creepy. It's like someone watched the trailer for The Neon Demon and said…

100 Albums: "Feel Something" by The History Of Apple Pie

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The History Of Apple Pie
Title:Feel Something
Released: 2014
Genre: indie dreamwave alt-rock



The History Of Apple Pie are an English rock duet who started throwing songs together and posting them on the internet. They got major label attention from this, came up with a band name by Googling random things, formed a touring band, put out two albums, and then silently disbanded a year later.

What a time to be alive.

Feel Something is guitar-forward dream-pop that is built around two main ingredients: singer Steph Min's etherial vocals and guitarist Jerome Watson's swirly leads that sound like they're barely holding on to the correct tuning. The songwriting is top-notch. The standouts are Tame, Jamais Vu, and Puzzles, but even the weakest song on this album is pretty good. The whole thing is energetic and positive. It doesn't really stick with you--it's an album you can completel…

100 Albums: "The Good Times" by Afroman

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Afroman
Title:The Good Times
Released: 2001
Genre: alt hip-hop dirty rap


It's easy to disregard Afroman as a one-hit wonder for his gimmicky slow jam Because I Got High. It might surprise you, then, to know that he's put out thirty-two albums since 1998. These are a mix of live, compilation, and studio records with titles like My Fro-losophy, Waiting To Inhale, Marijuana Music, and One Hit Wonder EP--a self-deprecating joke that's even funnier if you know what a one-hitter is. Pothead stereotypes to the contrary, this man is a workaholic. He started recording and selling mixtapes in eighth grade. He put out four albums in 2004 alone. The Good Times was his major label debut, and is basically a greatest hits album of his prior work, some of which had already been released independently.

This is some grade-A trashy party music. It's fun, it's laid-back, it's hilarious, and…

100 Albums: "Today" by The New Christy Minstrels

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The New Christy Minstrels
Title:Today
Released: 1964
Genre: ensemble folk



This was an album I listened to over and over again on car trips growing up. It was fifteen hours in the van from our house to my grandparents', so we had a lot of time to burn. This was one of a number of records that my dad had on vinyl and had put on tape, and this was on a tape of folk songs alongside the Kingston Trio. The New Christy Minstrels were part of the early 60's folk revival that would be obliterated when Bob Dylan hit the scene. They took their name from Christy's Minstrels, an old literally-a-minstrel act that performed in blackface (that's just Christy's Minstrels--NCM didn't do that, although taking a name from a group that did is a little... icky). The racial undercurrents of the album are interesting. It was released the same year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation,…

100 Albums: "Fantastic Planet" by Failure

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Failure
Title:Fantastic Planet
Released: 1996
Genre: space rock


In the late 90s rock was being eclipsed by the bubblegum pop explosion. Grunge was fading from radio to make room for nu-metal and power pop acts like Blink-182. But there were a handful of weirder songs that slipped through into mainstream rock radio that felt like harbingers of an experimental direction that grunge might have explored if it only had a little more time. Stuff like Incubus' Make Yourself or Elwood's rap-rock reworking of Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown. Another one of these what-the-hell-did-I-just-hear gems was Failure's Stuck On You, from their sci-fi epic Fantastic Planet. It was nerd-voice crooning angst over guitars that alternately crunched and keened. It was like Weezer, but less polished and less immediately accessible. This was an act that aspired to be Pink Floyd, not Buddy Holly. It sounded li…

100 Albums: "Researching The Blues" by Redd Kross

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Redd Kross
Title:Researching The Blues
Released: 2012
Genre: power pop


Redd Kross started out in 1980 as Red Cross, a punk band whose first gig was opening for Black Flag. They remained active for seventeen years, putting five albums and three EPs, swapping out members, and changing the spelling of their name. 2012's Researching The Blues was their reunion record, and they've remained active since, although in a low-key kind of way. I mean... it's not like you knew who they were before this post.

Title notwithstanding, Researching The Blues is not in any obvious way influenced by the blues. It's straight up power-pop. High-tempo, fun, guitar-driven, danceable, and catchy. It's got an English garage rock vibe with some extraneous lead-guitar noodling. The best songs are the title track (embedded above), four-on-the-floor stomper Uglier, New-Wave aping The Nu Temptations, and …