So every Sunday (for the most part) I am planning on writing a post focused on what music I am listening to and thinking about in terms of music. I hope that I can reach other music nerds and also highlight what I am into. If you are interested or like something let me know and let’s talk about it. I love listening to music and podcasts and I hope you do to.
This week I slowly started listening to albums on my #Preston1600 list. This album list is made up of albums I compiled for a massive data review of dozens of “best of” lists from Rolling Stone magazine to KEXP Radio to The Source magazine. From that I curated the top 1600 albums. Here are short reviews of these first few listed albums –
1600 – Ministry – The Land of Rape and Honey
This album by Ministry was their breakout into the “mainstream” alternative rock market after years of being a darling of college radio. The album was a straight up industrial metal album and a big departure from their more synth sound of the 1980s. If you were a Ministry fan before this album you may have been confused but you could not deny how amazing this album was. Anchored by the “hit” Stigmata Ministry became a staple on MTV’s 120 Minutes.
1599 – Mickey and Silvia – Love is Strange
This album was my introduction to this duo outside of their 80s revival pop hits and album title cut Love is Strange on the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack. This “he said, she said” singing style was big in the 1950s and the album itself is this format using various backing styles like calypso, jazz, and blues. Mickey and Sylvia is a tremendous duo and their songs are a find for me. This is going into the heavy rotation.
1598 – Martika – Martika’s Kitchen
In 1991 Martika, the Kids Incorporated teen star turned pop singer, released her best album of her long career (fun fact! she is still making music and touring). The album was a bridge of sorts between the teen pop of Debbie Gibson and Tiffany and more mainstream fare like Alanis Morrisette. Her song Love . . . . Thy Will Be Done is one of my personal favorite songs, ever. This album is mature, well produced, and great pop music. I like to describe her as the Carly Rae Jepson of her generation. Perfect pop goddess who is not getting the credit she deserves.
1597 – Leonard Cohen – 10 New Songs
There are few artists who remain as vital throughout their lives like Cohen did. He was making incredible music up to his death. While he never hit the commercial success he deserved (his music tended to be a bit dark) his style and lyrics influenced so many bands and songwriters it goes without saying he was a visionary.
1596 – Mission of Burma – Signals, Calls, and Marches
One can argue that the first EP by Mission of Burma is where alternative music began. This album is legendary because it fuses punk, pop, rock, and song writing into a tapestry of music that has influenced just about every college rock group since. The song Academy Fight Song is part of my personal song book.
1595 – ABC – Jackson 5
There are few groups who can get a party moving like playing the old school hits from the Jackson 5. This is the album where we first really met Michael Jackson and if you listen to the album today it feels a bit dated but still sounds great. You can hear the voice which will one day become the King of Pop and these songs will be played at BBQs, weddings, and clubs for decades to come.
This week I also went to go see Janet Jackson perform in Tampa and she was great. Janet is just a fantastic performer and her song book spans over 30 years. From her early chart toppers from her first album, Control to her more recent work on State of the World she is one of those artists who understands how to reinvent herself without forgetting who she is. The show was a great blend of her original hits and more recent stuff. The crowd loved her. Even though she is a little older she brought tremendous energy.
Anniversary Albums I Revisited This Week
Two albums celebrated their 30th birthdays and both are important to my musical upbringing. Both albums have similar messages in terms of social justice and telling a story that is sometimes hard to hear but each artist take a very different approach. The first is N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton. This album ushered in a new era of hip hop and was in your face and unapologetic. I have to be honest that I was not ready for this album when I was 16 but now that I am older I cannot deny its impact.
The second is Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut album. Best known for the mega-hit Fast Car this album took on themes of poverty, domestic abuse, civil rights, and her own femininity. It is one of my very favorite albums.
Some songs I rediscovered this week were on the Spotify #ThrowbackThursday list. Augustana’s song Boston, The Fray’s How to Save a Life, and Gary Jules’ remake of Tears for Fears’s Mad Love sent me back to like 2004-2005 and all of the great feelings rock of the time. I went back and dove deep into so many other bands like Harvey Danger, Deathcab for Cutie, and Ben Fold’s Five. That was a lot of fun. This week was great. See everyone next Sunday.