An Album A Day – Week 2

It’s on to week 2 of the Album A Day series. For anyone new to this, what I’m doing here is playing an album a day to reach 365 albums played by year’s end. It turned out to be a pretty simple goal and I’ll be way over that by 2024, but I’m doing this weekly wrap-up still for the hell of it.

One note – I’m most likely going to move this post to Sunday next week. That’s simply for the purposes of getting it set up ahead of time.

ZZ Top – Degüello

I gave this a spin on a weekend bike ride. I’ve been meaning to go through their albums and this whole deal makes that a pretty easy task. I’m not sure I’ve played this album all the way through since childhood, but there are some very recognizable songs on here like Cheap Sunglasses and their cover of I Thank You. This one sees the band still in a blues-based rock mode, though they started messing around with pitch shifting effects as kind of a prelude to their 80’s synth era. It was good to catch up with this one after so long, I still have a lot of the 70’s ZZ Top to explore more.

Asphyx – Last One On Earth

This was the second album from the Dutch death metal outfit. There’s some funny trivia behind it – vocalist Martin Van Drunen recorded the vocals for this without realizing he’d been fired from the band. The group decided to just use his vocal tracks. The band would reconvene with Van Drunen decades late. This 1992 album was a remarkable piece of death metal of the death/doom variety. Death/doom has been one of my favorite sub-strains of death metal and early Asphyx was a big reason why.

Vicious Rumors – Digital Dictator

I never listened to Vicious Rumors at all way back when, they were a band I simply missed out on. I’m getting familiar with them now because they have a gig booked here in March. I can say this was a gem I totally failed to grab back in the day. This is some great power metal of the US variety, which is a strain of the genre I’m horribly unfamiliar with beyond Savatage. This is a badass album I’ll spend more time with and I’ll also be visiting the rest of their catalog in advance of their show here. World And Machines is an absolute ripper on this one, though the whole album is fantastic.

Russian Circles – Gnosis

This is another of the long list of releases I missed last year. Russian Circles are an instrumental act from the US, they get the “post-metal” and “post-rock” tags as genre descriptors. I’m not the world’s biggest connoisseur of instrumental stuff but I like good music when I hear it and these guys are really good. It’s suitably heavy and dirty, and their noise evokes a very gritty and dark atmosphere, which I love considering my CD shelves full of grimy metal. I would go so far as to say this might have even been a miss on my top albums list from ’22, but that’s all over and done with. No time like the present.

Obituary – Dying Of Everything

2023 releases started coming very early and the first on my radar was the new one from Florida’s death metal legends. Obituary were one of the foundational bands of death metal and their fairly simple style of gnarly riffs and insane vocals has been an institution of the genre for decades.

This new one, honestly, didn’t hit me right out of the gate. I found it a bit too simple, I guess, I was wanting more from the riffs than what I was getting. I did feel like the album picked up in the second half, I felt more at home with it. I heard it again over at my buddy’s house after I’d enjoyed a few refreshing beverages and I can confirm that there is a direct relationship between blood alcohol content and enjoyment of this album. I don’t mean that as an insult – I’m simply saying that this is a “catch a buzz and enjoy the ride” album. This one won’t rank as my favorite Obituary but there is something here for me to enjoy after all.

Candlemass – Ancient Dreams

I wonder if I should count this here, as this will certainly be an album of the week at some point in time. But I don’t have plans for it anytime soon so I’ll go ahead and talk about it here. This was the third album from the Swedish doom metal outfit that has gone on to legendary status and this one is a big reason why. It is the band’s second with singer Messiah Marcolin and part of a magnificent three-album run with him. This is an amazing collection of doom tunes, highlighted by the opener Mirror Mirror. There’s also an interesting medley of Black Sabbath songs at the end.

Municipal Waste – The Art Of Partying

A pretty fitting way to conclude this post, since the topic of having a few and cranking some tunes came up already. That’s exactly what this band and album is for. Municipal Waste have been one of the godsends of the thrash revival, with a fantastic crossover sound and a general theme of getting messed up. Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up, indeed.

That’s all for this week’s recap. Only 351 more albums to go.

An Album A Day – Week 1

It’s time to debut my new series, An Album A Day. As I mentioned before, this is a way to do something like what book people do – rather than read 52 books a year or what have you, this is listen to 365 albums a year, or one a day.

I’ve barely started and I quickly realized something – this is easy street. Listening to 365 albums in a year is not some kind of lofty goal, it’s taking candy from a baby. I’m gonna roll with this whole thing since it’s a fairly easy way to generate some new content and also cover stuff I don’t normally talk about, but this is not a challenge at all.

Anyway, this first post covers the first week of 2023. The next 52 weeks will be filled with – stuff. My missives on these will be brief but there will be several of them so I can still be too wordy.

Opeth – Watershed

It’s been awhile since I listened to anything besides Blackwater Park so I took the time to sift through the 2008 album that was widely hailed as a masterpiece. There’s a lot going on, as there often is with Opeth, but this is a grand moment in their catalog. The Lotus Eater is one of the best songs they’ve ever done, and Hessian Peel offers a grab bag of everything Opeth.

Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking

This is one I listened to “back in the day,” though that day was in the mid-90’s and nearly 10 years after its release. And I don’t think I’ve played it in at least 20 years. It was nice to revisit this one, a cool “vibes from the youth” kind of thing. The notable tracks from this are The Mountain Song and the signature Jane Says, but the whole album is a pretty cool offering.

Kalmah – 12 Gauge

Back to a band I was very into in the early 2000’s, Kalmah are a huge part of the Finnish melodic death metal scene, alongside Children Of Bodom. While the bands draw comparisons to each other, I was always more drawn to Kalmah. This 2010 album saw the band combine their early melo-death stuff with the more harsh sound they took on just prior to this. I played this while on a long bicycle ride and it was a great compliment to the ride.

An Abstract Illusion – Woe

This is one from the very long list of “stuff I missed in 2022.” And this was a pretty huge miss. A progressive death metal album, this does draw favorable comparisons to Opeth’s prime era, but there’s also a lot more going on here. This is one of those that needs a lot more than one listen to properly digest and discuss, and it’s one that really was a true miss for me last year. Something I’ll be visiting again for sure.

Jimi Hendrix – Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969

This is the most recent release in the eleventy hundred posthumous Hendrix albums. This one is pretty nice, it is a very jam-based album with most of the songs being extended improv renditions. There is also some pretty cool stage banter from Jimi, including a call for stage crashers to get off the stage or the show will be shut down. I am of the “wannabe Hendrix completionist” school so I don’t mind the countless releases and this show seems to have some cool stuff that stands out from the clean presentation of the more landmark live gigs.

Suede – Autofiction

This is another from 2022 but wasn’t a miss for me – rather, this was most likely album 11 on a list of 10. I suppose we’re calling Suede alt-rock now rather than the movement they helped create and now can’t stand, that being Britpop. Suede explored some different sounds on their last effort in 2018, but on Autofiction they got back to basics and put out a kick ass alt-rock album. No one was expecting Suede to be bad, but this blew past peoples’ expectations and was monumental.

Jerry Reed – Super Hits

I ended week one with a greatest hits collection of a country star from years past, and also the hilarious bad guy in The Waterboy movie. Reed had a fair few hits in his music career, including When You’re Hot, You’re Hot and She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft). Of course, his most well-known work is probably the theme song from the hit film he also starred in – East Bound And Down from Smokey And The Bandit. Reed was also a pretty underrated guitar player on top of his songwriting prowess. And, to top it all off, listening to Reed reminded me of a story from way back when, so I’ll get a whole other post out of this.

That covers the first of 52 rounds of this new format. While the “goal” idea of it wound up being silly, this does feel like a worthwhile thing to do so I’ll keep at it. It’s a nice way to cover some more ground that I don’t typically get to in a few posts a week and it can occasionally plant the seed for a new post idea. And it doesn’t take up a huge amount of my time to write, so this whole thing is truly off to the races.

New Post Series Coming In 2023

My original intent in 2023 was to press on with the goal of doing four posts a week. I’m in a bit better position than I was last summer and I’ll have enough time to dedicate to making sure I post as much as I personally want.

I’ve had an idea for something for awhile now, but I haven’t gotten around to running with it yet. And also, this today isn’t about that one. That future one will probably see the light of day in the next month or two and take over Fridays.

But I was also sort of inspired with an idea that I’ve used before on a different site. It kind of came to me as the year was ending/beginning and I saw people doing lists of the books they read and wanted to read the next year.

The premise is simple – why not take that same approach to albums? I have a shelf full of CD’s, another full of records and a pile of digital stuff that I’ve barely put a dent in. Plus streaming access gives me almost everything I could ever want to hear, so why not dedicate some time to making sure I listen to some of it?

What I’m going to do specifically is listen to an album a day, at least statistically. By the end of the year I should have covered 365 albums. It’s not hard to play at least one album a day, hell there are days I listen to several. This should be a piece of cake as a “resolution” in the loosest possible terms.

I’m not going to post every day about an album. My typical kinds of posts will remain. What I’ll do with this new “album a day” series is update it once a week on Saturdays, recapping seven albums I played the week prior. It won’t be full-on reviews obviously, rather I’ll give a quick paragraph to each.

I won’t be using this to discuss things like, say, Somewhere In Time that I’ve listened to a trillion times. Playing something like that is almost cheating in this instance. Rather I’ll give a focus to albums I haven’t heard in a long time or ever. I’ll also use it as a means to judge if something in my collection even needs to be there. I have a bunch of CDs that I got from record label “grab bag” sales that I’ve barely gone through, this would be a good way to give those some attention and see if I should keep or lose them. That won’t apply to every album I cover but will be a small part of what I do with this new gig.

I’ll also give time to new releases that catch my eye/ear. I don’t do reviews of new music normally, as I feel like it takes a lot of time to sit with an album before getting to detailed about it. I’d rather cover a variety of other topics so I don’t dedicate the time to do those kind of reviews. This will allow me to cover a few things that come around that won’t be candidates for my end of year list but I still want to cover.

And it’s also worth noting that the albums here don’t have to be noteworthy or even good. I’d never use my Album Of The Week feature on something I think sucks, unless the band is super important to me and I feel like I can get detailed about it. I might very well not like something I play on here and will be more than happy to discuss it.

It’s a bit funny that I “stumbled” into this idea because I actually tried it out as a blog back maybe nine years ago. The entire blog’s premise was that I would do this exact thing. I posted once, possibly twice before losing focus and not doing it any further. I just wasn’t ready to blog again, or at least not ready to put any real effort into it. Now that I am at least somewhat committed to running with one for awhile, this becomes an easy way to get a bit more content out there. It’s far more of a time investment listening to albums than it is to write a small bit about them and I listen to stuff a fair bit anyway, so it’s a win-win.

So the “Album A Day” series will kick of NEXT Saturday, January 14. I need a week to play an album a day so the final 2023 “AAD” column would hit in the first week of 2024. It’s a bit odd of a time frame but I think it’ll work out. It’s not like anything is riding on me doing it in a certain scope of time.

As for the other new series, I do expect to get that off the ground sometime in February. It’s a pretty easy thing to write that won’t take up much of my time, I just need to mess with it a bit to get the ball rolling. Once that gets going I’ll have posts six days a week, which is honestly more than what I was aiming for but I think it’ll pan out. The biggest adjustment will be me getting the other posts ready in time, something I got a bit of a leg up on at the end of 2022 so it should be smooth sailing.

Thank you all who read my stuff, I hope my plans for this year give you something to enjoy, crack up about or whatever it may be. As for the rest of this week, the Iron Maiden singles series kicks off tomorrow and, well, the Friday post also just happens to be about Maiden. See you then.

The following song is from something that will be on the first post of the new series.