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365 Albums In 2021: #061-070

The finest Metallica album, a couple of classic NZ records, and a work of genius from Radiohead make up the core of this lot. Also, for some reason that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis album was one of the best reviewed of the year, even though I thought it sounded like rubbish.

061 Chris Whitley – Din of Ecstasy (1995). This one was recommended by Scott. I wasn’t familiar with Chris Whitley until I met Scott, who is an evangelistic fan of the late singer-songwriter. Din Of Ecstasy is universally agreed to be his best album, and its easy to hear why: Whitley captures the post-grunge sound of the time brilliantly, and the resulting album sounds of a piece with the likes of Soundgarden’s Superunknown. My favourite track: “O God My Heart Is Ready”. (March 2, 2021)

062 Metallica – Master Of Puppets (1986). Metallica’s magnum opus turns 35 years old this year – I reckon it might be their best album: coherent, clear and driven in its writing by the militaristic messaging, innovative in its musical composition – at least “Disposable Heroes” and “Leper Messiah” rank among their best songs – and original bass player Cliff Burton is at is his best here, especially on instrumental track “Orion”. (March 3, 2021)

063 The Mutton Birds – Salty (1994). Funnily enough, Salty sounds like kind of a companion piece to Chris Whitley’s album from Tuesday – though where Whitley leans into hard rock, McGlashan and co. lean in to the softer side. The other thing I noticed about Salty: it holds up really fucking well – hits like “The Heater” and “Ngaire” sound at home in 2021, and “Anchor Me” deserves its place as one of NZ’s best songs ever. My personal highlight: the absolutely gorgeous “When The Wind Comes Round” (March 4, 2021)

064 Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage (2021). I’ve never really understood or learned to appreciate Nick Cave. Adding Warren Ellis into the mix did nothing to change that. (March 5, 2021)

065 Kings Of Leon – When You See Yourself (2021). Ailish recommended I check this out way back in January, months before it came out. I haven’t kept up with Kings Of Leon since their “Sex On Fire’ heyday, but this album is fine – it sounds like them. But the album got overshadowed by the bizarre way they are selling it, summarised by David Farrier here: https://www.webworm.co/p/tokens (March 6, 2021)

066 Phantogram – Ceremony (2020). I really dug this album – electronic beats overlaid with some really gorgeous vocals, and occasionally rock guitars. (March 7, 2021)


067 Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1991). It had been a while since I checked out this album, and I had forgotten how heavy it is. But it is – artistically – a solid piece of work: it defies categorisation, landing all over the map in terms of genre, and is interesting throughout, even if it now sounds a little bit dated. (March 8, 2021)

068 Anais Mitchell – Hadestown (2010). Mitchell’s concept album eventually led to a Tony-winning Broadway show which, in my opinion, is not as good as the original. This is a funky, soul-infused indie folk album that tells the mythological tale of Orpheus, Eurydice and Hades. It is absolutely beautiful at times, and it drags at others. But it is a very good album. (March 9, 2021)

05069 Tim Minchin – Apart Together (2020). One of my most enjoyable shows of 2019 was Upright, a comedy series created by Tim Minchin in which he travels across Australia with an upright piano on a trailer. This album builds on the emotional cache of that show, and it is better for it. My favourite track is probably “Absence Of You” (the one-shot music video for which is incredible), though I’m also a sucker for the studio version of Upright’s hit “Carry You”. (March 10, 2021)

070 Split Enz – Waiata (1981). Another week, another iconic Split Enz album turning 40 years old! Waiata is not as good as True Colours; that isn’t opinion, it’s a fact. But the biggest songs from this album – “History Never Repeats” and “One Step Ahead” – are two of the groups best. (March 11, 2021)

071 The Whitlams – Torch The Moon (2002). Interestingly, Torch The Moon is maybe the most accessible of The Whitlams albums – but after listening to Tim Minchin a couple of days earlier, it was clear how influenced he must have been by The Whitlams, and this album specifically. Rhianon recommended this album and she was right to do so: it is a brilliant record, a lot of fun to listen to. Recommended. (March 12, 2021)

072 Chris Cornell – Songbook (2011). This is one of my sister’s favourite albums so it made sense to listen to it on the day of her wedding; she even walked down the aisle to his cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You”. I actually remember seeing Cornell on the tour that spawned Songbook – he played at the Aotea Centre, and it was a life-changing experience. RIP Mr Cornell. (March 13, 2021)

073 Radiohead – The Bends (1995). This one was recommended by my bro-in-law Derek, but the joke is on him – I was already planning to listen to this album because it is AMAZING. Also, Radiohead turned their official website into a free-to-access collection of their music – split by album, there is every song, every b-side, music videos, live shows, photos and more. One of the internet’s very best time-sinks: https://radiohead.com/library/ (March 14, 2021)

074 U2 – The Joshua Tree (1987). Even though U2 are a bit naff in 2021, this album is iconic and enduring. Also, fun fact: I once sang “Where The Streets Have No Name” during a church service, and opened by explaining what the song was about, then was corrected by the pastor, who was fucking wrong. (March 15, 2021)

075 David Gray – Skellig (2021). I love David Gray; his album Life In Slow Motion is one of my favourites ever. But this album is boring – there is no variance within each song, and they all run for 5-6 minutes apiece, and there is a ton of them. (March 16, 2021)

This post is part of my ongoing effort to listen to a new album every single day of 2021. If you have any suggestions on what I should listen to next, send them through to me@chrisphilpott.nz.

365 Albums In 2021: #046-060

One of the great things about this exercise is discovering new artists: Nadia Reid, Pale Waves, Marlon Williams and Spanish Love Songs are four that I discovered from this batch. I also loved revisiting Pink Floyd’s legendary Dark Side Of The Moon, and Sepultura’s finest album Roots.

046 Tame Impala – The Slow Rush (2020). I can’t say I enjoy this as much as the previous couple of albums from Mr Parker, but its fine – at its best when it sounds more organic, as on tracks like “Breathe Deeper” and “Is It True”, the latter of which is probably my favourite track here. (February 15, 2021)

047 Various Artists – True Colours, New Colours (2021). Thanks to Mr Chris Schulz who mentioned this one on his blog; I wasn’t aware it even existed. True Colours, New Colours finds a group of current Kiwi and Aussie artists covering every song from Enz’s classic album True Colours, which I listened to a couple of weeks ago. For the most part, it is pretty middling – Shihad turns in a fairly bland cover of “I Got You”, while Stan Walker does his best on “Poor Boy” and Bernard Fanning tries to milk something out of “I Hope I Never”. The album is fortunately saved by The Beths’ “What’s The Matter With You”, Busby Marou’s “Missing Person”, and Lime Cordiale’s “Nobody Takes Me Seriously”, all of which give new life to the songs they cover. (February 16, 2021)

048 Pale Waves – Who Am I? (2021). Wikipedia describes Pale Waves as an indie pop group, which they probably are, but I don’t know how “indie” it is to create an album that sounds like it could have been released by Avril Lavigne after “Sk8er Boi” but before “Girlfriend”.
(February 17, 2021)

049 Nadia Reid – Out Of My Province (2020). Recommended by Maria. I was actually semi-familiar with Nadia Reid’s work – I’ve not made an effort to seek her out, but have heard her before – most recently as part of the APRA Silver Scrolls, where the closing track from this record (“Get The Devil Out”) was nominated. This album is gorgeous – minimalism in both instrument and voice, but occasionally rising up with strings, or vocal layering. Just beautiful. The track “Best Thing” is probably the best example of what I’m saying. (February 18, 2021)

050 Ben Platt – Sing To Me Instead (2019). Recommended by Rhianon. You may recognise Ben Platt – he played Benji in Pitch Perfect, the friend of the romantic interest guy who did magic tricks. Look, I love my wife, and I respect her taste in music, but I just didn’t enjoy this album – I think the songwriting talent is there, but I mostly found this to be over-produced and over-stuffed in an effort to push it into pop territory; maybe it was that I had just listened to the perfectly balanced Nadia Reid the day before, but Mr Platt could learn a few things from that album. The track “Grow As We Go” is cute though, and shows the potential inherent in the music. “Hurt Me Once” is a good’n, too. (February 19, 2021)

051 Spanish Love Songs – Brave Faces Everyone (2020). Recommended by Richard, who called this one of his favourite albums of 2020. I’ll be honest: I had no idea who Spanish Love Songs were; I assumed, from the name, that I was going to hear some kind of classical acoustic guitar. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were a fairly aggressive punk-pop band. I thoroughly enjoyed this album – the music is tight, the sound is interesting, the vocalist is doing some intriguing work. My favourite tracks: “Self-Destruction (As A Sensible Career Choice”, “Beachfront Property” and “Losers 2”. (February 20, 2021)

052 Sepultura – Roots (1996). This is the final album featuring founding member Max Cavalera – he left after a management disagreement and founded Soulfly in 1997 – and it turns 25 years old this year. I mentioned earlier in the year that Chaos AD was kind of Sepultura’s pinnacle, but Roots is by far their best album: it draws on their Brazilian heritage to create a kind of tribal/metal mash-up sound, and it totally fucking works. I mean, if you like heavy metal music. Opener “Roots Bloody Roots” and single “Ratamahatta” (which features then-Korn drummer David Silveria) are the highlights, but this is a solid album from start to finish. (February 21, 2021)

053 Various – Inside Llewyn Davis OST (2013). Recommend by Nick. Inside Llewyn Davis is kind of the forgotten Coen Brothers film, at least for me – its good and all, but when you’re talking Coen Brothers, my mind immediately goes to Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, No Country For Old Men … this one is way down the list. It does have a great soundtrack though: Oscar Isaac broke out in this role, and did all his own vocals – alongside co-stars Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and Adam Driver (yes, Adam Driver is in this film). Isaac is the star though, his performance on “Green Green Rock Road” is so great. (February 22, 2021)

054 Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams (2015). Another recommendation from Maria, who suggested this album back when I reviewed Marlon’s later album Make Way For Love. I think this was a better album – certainly a little more upbeat, and Marlon sounds a little more raw, especially on the opening tracks. My favourite on the album is probably the second song “After All”, but I didn’t find anything here that I enjoyed as much as Make Way For Love’s “Love Is A Terrible Thing”. (February 23, 2021)

055 Keaton Henson – Monument (2020). Mr Henson is something of a beloved figure in our house – Rhianon was already a huge fan of his work when we met, and I’ve developed into a pretty big fan as well. Monument is an album that does all the things Henson does and does them well, but it doesn’t offer much new beyond atmospherics, which isn’t exactly surprising given that he has been writing movie soundtracks. It is incredibly sad though, written and released as his father was passing away from illness. Still, a good listen, but not his best work. (February 24, 2021)

056 The Mint Chicks – Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! (2006). I have never understood the appeal of this album. They can play their guitars fast. They can sing fast along with them. The title track is pretty good, I guess. But I don’t get it. (I should add that I saw the Mint Chicks live twice and was impressed both times. Maybe they’re just a better live band than a recorded band?) (February 25, 2021)

057 Daft Punk – Discovery (2001). I’m not sure what it means that Daft Punk decided to split on/near the 20th anniversary of (probably) their greatest album. While I actually prefer the musicality of Random Access Memories, Discovery is clearly their masterpiece, and the most interesting album the duo created – and it holds up spectacularly. (February 26, 2021)

058 Mogwai – As The Love Continues (2021). I was aware of Mogwai before this, but it was their soundtrack to the brilliant French series Les Revenants which made me a fan. This album isn’t drastically different from their earlier work – but the ambient noise they create, aggressive at times, calming at others, makes for a fantastic soundtrack to your day. (February 27, 2021)

059 Mac Miller – Circles (2020). This one was recommended by Brooks. Mac Miller passed away in 2018; Circles is a collection of tracks he was working on at the time of his death, complete posthumously by producer Jon Brion. I can’t say I particularly like Miller’s flow, but this album is undeniably funky. I enjoyed it! (February 28, 2021)

060 Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973). As I said when I listened to Fleetwood Mac, I don’t think I could put together a Top 5 Albums Ever list, but Dark Side Of The Moon would be in the discussion, maybe even for the top spot. Endlessly inventive, and lyrically confronting, this is a challenging but rewarding listen, and it holds up. (March 1, 2021)

This post is part of my ongoing effort to listen to a new album every single day of 2021. If you have any suggestions on what I should listen to next, send them through to me@chrisphilpott.nz.

365 Albums In 2021: #031-045

Early February brought with it a bounteous collection of albums to listen to, with a handful of legends (Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Rush, Phil Collins and Tori Amos) mixed in with a bit of nineties nostalgia (Boyz II Men, The Fugees), giving way to some more recent and most unique artists (Yugen Blakrok, Anderson.Paak, Kendrick Lamar).

031 Yugen Blakrok – Anima Mysterium (2019). I became aware of Yugen through her guest spot on “Opps”, the highlight track on the soundtrack to Black Panther. This album is probably overlong, but it makes up for that in sheer word count – Blakrok raps like a gatling gun, fast and very much to the point. And the various science fiction images she conjures made this an enjoyable listen. (January 31, 2021).

032 The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow (2011). Some albums, its surprising how old they are – like, I don’t feel like this album is ten years old, it feels more like five. And yet it is a decade old now. The songs are timeless though, even if the album is a bit samey. Its a shame these kids couldn’t figure out their relationship; the only released one more album and eventually split for good in 2014. One wonders how their careers may have progressed had they made it work. (February 1, 2021).

033 Neil Young – Harvest (1972). Arguably Neil Young’s best, this album contains two of my favourite of his songs – “Old Man” and “The Needle And The Damage Done”. I got super into this record back in late 2008 after Neil was announced as the headliner for the 2009 Big Day Out; fortunately he played both those songs I loved during his (admittedly pretty iconic) set list. (February 2, 2021).

034 Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977). I don’t know if I could ever make a Top 5 Favourite Albums list, but Rumours would be in the discussion. Except for “Oh Daddy” – which, I just can’t even – there isn’t a weak song here. I mean, its like Track 8 (“You Make Loving Fun”) before you even hit a song that isn’t a five-star classic. (By the way, I almost made a “if you ever feel inadequate, remember that Christine McVie was writing songs in Fleetwood Mac alonside Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham – but shit, even her songs here are pretty great. Except for “Oh Daddy”.) (February 3, 2021).

035 Split Enz – True Colours (1980). I mean, Split Enz are one of the greatest bands to ever come out of NZ – and is this their greatest album? It might be; it contents three of their biggest hits (“I Got You”, “I Hope I Never” and the criminally under-rated “Poor Boy”), as well as two of the best non-singles (“Shark Attack”, “What’s The Matter With You”), and maybe their most under-rated song ever, “The Choral Sea”. You could make the case for it, is what I’m saying. Thoroughly enjoyed re-listening to this one. (February 4, 2021).

036 Weezer – OK Human (2021). Okay, I’ll say it – this is the best start-to-finish Weezer album since the 1990s. Named in reference to Radiohead’s OK Computer, OK Human is a collection of pretty standard – if a little better than usual – Weezer pop-rock. However, Cuomo and co made the ingenius decision to accompany every track with orchestration; strings swell, adding depth to every song here. I loved this album. (February 5, 2021).

037 Phil Collins – Face Value (1981). Did you know that Phil Collins took a fresh photo for the cover of this album when it started hitting streaming sites? If that doesn’t tell you the importance of this album to Phil Collins, nothing will. (February 6, 2021).

038 Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes (1992). This album gets better and better as it goes along – honestly, the last three songs might be the best three songs.
(February 7, 2021).

039 Various – Black Panther: The Album (2018). “Opps”, the track featuring Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok, is one of the most invigorating hip hop songs I’ve ever heard, and I love it. Under the guidance of Kendrick Lamar, this is a great collection of songs, far better than it needed to be for what is essentially a movie tie-in. (February 8, 2021).

040 Foo Fighters – Medicine At Midnight (2021). What do you want me to say? Its a Foo Fighters record – though maybe a little more overblown than in years past. I feel like the same 3-2-1-4 chord structures and Grohl vocals are all here, but they’re somehow undermined by the keyboard, the third guitar, the backing chorus. It’s all too much. (February 9, 2021).

041 The Shins – Wincing The Night Away (2007). One of the seminal albums from the early 00s indie rock explosion. I loved this album so much at the time that I even bought tickets to a Shins concert and went alone because nobody else I knew was even really aware of who they were. The tracks “Phantom Limb”, “Turn On Me” and “Spilt Needles” still hold up, tbh. (February 10, 2021).

042 The Exponents – Something Beginning With C (1992). Is it ‘crap’? (Okay, yes, this album contains a handful of their biggest hits – “Why Does Love Do This To Me”, “Who Loves Who The Most” and “Whatever Happened To Tracy” to name three. But c’mon, the rest is just junk – and derivative junk at that: Midnight Oil and Inxs were doing this stuff in the mid-80s.) (February 11, 2021).

043 Rush – Moving Pictures (1981). The first four tracks on this album are iconic, fantastic pieces of music. It gets a bit drab from there on. But those four songs. Wow. (February 12, 2021).

044 The Fugees – The Score (1996). I can’t remember being super across this album at the time of its release; I knew the singles, “Ready Or Not” and “Fu Gee La” and the covers of “No Woman No Cry” and “Killing Me Softly”, but 96-Chris was very much listening to bands like Sepultura and Korn. Nowadays I can appreciate the genius, even though I appreciate Lauryn Hill’s solo output more than this record. It is legendary though – and 25 year old this year! (February 13, 2021).

045 Boyz II Men – Cooleyhighharmony (1991). This one landed almost exactly 30 years ago. I didn’t become aware of Boyz II Men until late 1992 when “End Of The Road” became a mega-hit; I ended up dancing to it with a girl I had a crush on at our Form 2 social. Listening back now, I can’t say that it has aged well – but “End Of The Road” is still brilliant, opener “Please Don’t Go” is pretty great, and the acapella “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” is spine-tinglingly good.
(February 14, 2021).

This post is part of my ongoing effort to listen to a new album every single day of 2021. If you have any suggestions on what I should listen to next, send them through to me@chrisphilpott.nz.

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