Looking at my listening habits over the past few years, it is clear that while sailing the Seas of Music, somewhere along the way I came up against the Great White Shark of Limited Storage Space. Fortunately, I just got a bigger boat. About a week ago I bought a shiny new 32GB iPhone 3GS. It is indeed as awesome as they say – the faster speeds, the 3G network, the video capability… all of these things are really great upgrades from my previous first-gen phone. However, the biggest, most welcome change of all is the massively increased storage space.
I’ve never had an iPod with this much space, and I’ve crammed it with, like, every album I’ve listened to in the last ten years. Amazing. Anyway, I thought I’d put together a list of the albums I’ve been re-listening to – it’s in two parts, Part One is A-L, Part Two is M-Z.
I highly recommend giving all of them a listen – I’d put in links, but Google will tell you how to get a copy, should you want to, and they’re all on iTunes, as well.
Aimee Mann – “The Forgotten Arm”
This is such a great album – the melodies, the story it tells, Mann’s ridiculous ability to write a bridge… great stuff. Also, it features Julian Coryell, one of the first people I wanted to be ever.
Avishai Cohen – “Colors”
One of my favorite Avishai albums, Colors has just about everything I love about his records. It also reminds me how much my bud Austin’s writing reminds me of Avishai. Which is a really, really good thing. The title track is really something special, and I love the cover art, too.
Brad Mehldau – “Largo”
This one never made it off of my smaller iPhone, but I hadn’t given it a listen in a while. It’s a significant departure for Mehldau from his usual trio stuff, but I love this album. Who knew the guy was so great at vibes?
The Cardigans – “First Band On The Moon”
Holy balls, I think I’m prepared to dub this one of the best pop albums of the past twenty years. I’m not kidding – give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong. I saw these guys live, and thought it wasn’t even in the same league as their studio stuff, which was disappointing. Maybe they’re doomed to be another band forever chasing the glory of their one perfect album.
Clifford Brown – “Study in Brown”
Max Roach, man. It’s a blast to listen to Clifford’s insane playing, particularly after spending a lot of time with Dave Douglas and Wallice Roney, but… Max Roach! Such a killer, so fast, inventive, melodic… truly one of the greats, maybe the greatest. The more I practice the drums, the more I enjoy to listen to him.
Death Cab for Cutie – “Transatlanticism.”
I was really, really into this album about four years ago or so, and re-listening to it, I remember why. It’s Emo without being High School, and beautiful without being cloying. The dudes really know how to build a song, and break traditional song form in groovy ways. Plus, the title track makes me want to do drugs with Claire Fisher and sing along in her bedroom.
Diana Krall – “All For You: A Dedication to Nat King Cole”
This was the first Krall album I got, and I got it way back before she became synonymous with “jazz for middle-aged white women.” And man, it really is a shame that she took such a left turn for chanteuse-ville, because the woman can play the piano. This trio, with Russell Malone on guitar and Paul Keller on bass, swings harder than anything she’s done since.
Erykah Badu – “Baduizm”
I read a story somewhere (google says: in the New Yorker) about how Erykah showed up in NY and just set the place on fire, that all the other vocalists couldn’t compete with her light, dulcet swing and regal stage presence. Damn, I can just imagine. She is so freaking cool, sounds so damn good, and has such a killing band… wow. Probably my favorite vocalist of the new generation. So glad I rediscovered this record.
Fiona Apple – “Extraordinary Machine”
There was a lot of hullabaloo surrounding the release of this record, since the original Jon Brion-produced version was shelved by the label in favor of something with more radio-readiness. I dunno, man, I have both versions, and I honestly prefer the one the label released… with Abe Laboriel and ?uestlove on drums, the shit grooves like crazy, and tunes like “Tymps” and “Window” are pretty bitchin’ as a result.
Frank Zappa – “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life”
Of all of the Zappa records I own, this one is probably my favorite, and it was actually the first one I got really into. I was maybe a junior in college, and had had the disc for a long time, before I gave it another go, and was blown away – live shows with a full horn section and Chad Wackerman tearing shit up on the drums. The final run of “Florentine Pogen” into “Andy” into “Inca Roads” is one of the sickest groupings of recordings I’ve ever heard.
Hot Hot Heat – “Make Up The Breakdown”
Another band that made a nearly perfect record and then couldn’t recreate it – these guys seemed really, really cocky on their follow-up record “Elevator,” but the record just didn’t have anything close to the magic of “Make Up.” On re-listen, it’s clear why – Dante DeCaro’s guitar parts on “Make Up” are just waaay more creative, experimental, and fun to listen to than on “Elevator.” I don’t think it was his call, either – he left the band shortly afterwards. Drag.
James Brown – “Live At The Apollo”
Dude. Could anyone, ever, sing like James? Will anyone ever sing like him again? No, I don’t think so. It’s wild to imagine being at this show, as the ladies go absolutely crazy for him, and the band brings the fucking thunder down. Wow. His version of “Try Me” is just ridiculous.