It’s that time of year when, on social media, you start seeing some folks’ “Spotify Wrapped” posts along with various websites’ “best of” listicles and such-like. Well, this wasn’t a huge year for new music for me and since I had a computer rebuild partway through the year, my “most played” data in MusicBee is… stunted.
But that’s not going to stop me from talking about the albums (and one “EP” big enough to qualify) I bought this year.
(I’m leaving singles and one particular compilation/soundtrack record out for various reasons. If someone’s really curious I can loop back around to them in another post.)
Anyway. In chronological order by release date, here are the albums I bought this year:
- Jethro Tull, The Zealot Gene – I covered this one at the start of the year and my opinion hasn’t changed much… mainly because outside of the title track I really don’t find myself wanting to revisit the record. Sorry, Mister Anderson.
- Midnight Oil, Resist – In that same post early in the year I expressed excitement about the new Oils record, and it turned out… okay? It’s okay. It’s fine. There are only a couple of dull thuds out of the dozen tunes on offer, but there are also only a few really high points, such as “In The Time Of Writing” and “Rising Seas.” Coming back together after retirement and with the loss of a key, beloved band member couldn’t have been easy, so I’m not really knocking them for not crafting an all-time monster of a record.
- Stabbing Westward, Chasing Ghosts – Filed under, “Wait, they’re still around?” Well, no and yes. They broke up after what could be considered their early-2000s heyday and then reformed a few years ago. (Yeah, I had no idea either.) I stumbled across news of this album while looking for something else entirely and thought, heck, I have to at least give this a listen. And you know what? It’s very much Stabbing Westward. If you liked them way back then, you should probably pick this one up. It’s got a strong first half and while it kind of falls apart in the back stretch, songs like “Cold,” “Wasteland,” and “Damaged Goods” validate the effort in my opinion.
- Muse, Will of the People – Oh, what a weird piece of work this is. I fell off the Muse bandwagon a few albums ago, and remember hearing the lead single from (I think?) the previous record which gave me the impression of two completely different and opposing songs fighting to occupy the same several minutes of spacetime. So what about this new album? It’s kind of a style retrospective of their entire career… which could sound like a brilliant or a terrible idea depending on how much you like the band and/or which “era” of the band you prefer. Since I like at least some of their albums, and because the band delivers on the premise fairly solidly, I like… parts of this one well enough, I suppose. The title track comes out swinging at the start, there are some highs and lows along the way, and we end with the most timely song of the year: “We Are Fucking Fucked.” Truer words, eh?
- The HU, Rumble of Thunder – I remember when The HU were this “who are these guys?!?” social media sensation, everyone going bananas about their two music videos on YouTube. Since then, of course, they’ve definitely made a name for themselves. How does their sophomore full-length record hold up? It’s… okay? It’s okay. It’s fine. There are a few dull thuds in the mix this time and the highs aren’t as lofty as on their debut, but… sophomore record, remember. What’s funny to me is that a lot of the pre-release promotion centered on “Black Thunder,” which is a great song (preferably in its full-length incarnation), don’t get me wrong… but it’s basically a retool of the song they did for the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game, “Sugaan Essena.” Hey, whatever works, guys. Rock on with your awesome selves.
- Band-Maid, Unleash (EP) – At eight tracks long, only one of which (barely) cracks the 4 minute mark, this is definitely a tight little set of tunes… but wow, do they rock. Japanese girl-band setups with a gimmick are hardly unknown; you may be familiar with Babymetal. Well, this is five women who dress like they work in a maid cafe, and some of that gimmick goes into their live shows as well. (Feel free to roll your eyes and say, “Oh, Japan.” I know I do.) When the songs are this good, though, you kind of don’t care how much of the image is manufactured. Pound for pound and riff for riff, this is the best value for money out of the year.
Now, next year I have high hopes for the upcoming Battle Tapes album. (Please, guys, don’t make me regret saying that.) Based on the two singles released so far and given their track record, I’m not too worried.
Anyway: For fun, I threw together a little something for y’all. (I haven’t done one of these for a while. I’m woefully out of practice.)
Until next time, keep on rockin’.