[…continued from last post]
Albums Of The Year
- The Blow Monkeys: Journey To You
- Steven Jones + Logan Sky: European Lovers
- Shriekback: 1000 Books
- Nik Bärtsch: Entendre
- Jack Hues: Electro Acoustic Works 20:20
- Harold Budd: I Know this Much Is True
Only six albums released this year entered the Record Cell, and the clear standout was the 40th anniversary Blow Monkeys album, “Journey To You.” Dr. Robert’s songs and production touched on so many of the band’s influences and touchstones to create an album that was peak after peak. The band and the various guest artists sounded lavish here. This album sounded like no expense was spared instead of the product of a crowdsource campaign. As fantastic as I thought that the last one was, this one was just even better! We’ll get to the review …eventually since I still have the 2nd half of the Blow Monkeys Rock G.P.A. looming in the road ahead at PPM.
As clearly great as my top pick was, that didn’t mean that the competition for the next two slots wasn’t fierce. Steven Jones + Logan Sky [with Jan Linton guesting] continue to amaze me with bursts of growth of the kind I have not heard since the heady days of early Simple Minds. Their latest album was clearly their finest yet as they took their game to a new level. After their last two albums represented a late period peak for the prolific and vital Shriekback, their latest album finished off their modern trilogy of classics with an often somber meditation on the way forward through this Hellstorm of The Now with as even a selection of Andrews/Marsh songs as I’ve ever heard.
EPs Of The Year
- The Metamorph: Return To Splendour
- Head Noise: Consequential Quasars
- Jack Hues: Canterbury Live EP
The EP of the year was dead simple! The Metamorph was the first new 10″ I bought since OMD’s History Of Modern [Part 1]” over a decade ago. It certainly lived up to its title! The Metamorph is another analog synth player [who doesn’t even use computers at all in his production] and is perhaps known by the name Gavin Brick. Long-time readers will recognize his comments here at PPM over the years but he’s moving up in the world of synth music with sales and popularity in excess of his stature here as one of the “regulars.” Fascinating collaborations are in the pipeline and currently…my lips are sealed, but fans of analog synths should watch out as The Metamorph is clearly going places.
Singles Of The Year
- Tot Taylor: This New ABBA® Record
- The Anitpodeans Vs. Icehouse: Hey Little Girl
- Todd Rundgren + Sparks; Your Fandango
- Anum Preto: Além Do Bem E Do Mal
- Anum Preto: Ponto De Mutação
- The Blow Monkeys: One More Time [The Pump Remix]
- The Metamorph: The Man on The 99th Floor
- Kraftwerk: Heimcomputer 2021
- Gary Kemp + Steven Wilson + Mike Garson: Waiting For The Band [Steven Wilson Remix]
- Duran Duran: Five Years
Leave it to songwriting supremo Tot Taylor to encapsulate the angst of the now in the most elegant fashion imaginable. I can imagine no other single more representative of 2021 than “This New Abba Record!” And The Antipodeands re0-invigorated an Icehouse classic in the best possible, Post-Modern remix way with “Hey Little Girl.” Todd Rundgren linked back up with Sparks after a half century layoff and sounded like he had a great time of it with the playful “Your Fandango.”
Brasil’s Anum Preto continues to mine a rich vein of guitar-based Post-Punk very successfully with his singles that just keep coming. And The Blow Monkeys toss an old collector of theirs a bone with a now rare remixed single from their number one album [see above] “Journey To You.” The Metamorph cleansed his palate with a dark little instro before returning to splendour. Kraftwerk remixed a 40 year old record. Gary Kemp took another step into the Prog world with Steven Wilson remixing his single about Bowie, and his New-Ro rivals Duran Duran managed to massacre a seminal “Ziggy Stardust” cut to commemorate Bowie’e being gone for…yes, five years. Strangely enough, Mike Garson also guested on this release!
Reissue Of the Year
- Fashiøn: Fabrique Deluxe [CD boxed set]
- Gleaming Spires; Walk On Well Lighted Streets DLX RM
- Gleaming Spires: Songs Of The Spires DLX RM
- Gleaming Spires: Welcoming A New Ice Age DLX RM
- John Foxx: Church [violet LP]
- Ultravox: Vienna [2.0 Steven Wilson mix = Wilson instrumental] 2xCD
- John Foxx: The Garden [green LP]
The top four reissues were far ahead of the pack this year, but my ardor for Fashiøn’s “Fabrique” knows no bounds and I certainly never expected this box to manifest outside of my own home! So it must get the top slot, but the reissue program for cult artists Gleaming Spires showed what is possible with the willpower and a willing indie label like Omnivore Recordings to make everything perfect! Long lost New Wave material came springing back into vibrant new life as a result.
Ultravox in its many forms filled out the reissue list. John Foxx released colored vinyl LPs, but “Church” was a new compilation of material that had been curated from unreleased material of the ’80-’81 period. And following their BSOG of “Vienna” last year, Ultravox and Steven Wilson found room to release the Wilson 2.0 mix of the seminal album along with an instrumental version that those hard core Foxx Only fans might be able to come to grips with!
One big trend for me this year was the huge amount of DL files I got! 29! Almost as many as the number of CDs I bought!! This was far more download music that I had ever gotten in the past, where 5-7 releases might be the norm. Most of this is down to increasing amounts of promo coming across my transom, as well as the fact that Bandcamp is a great environment to buy music that exists no other way.
Another astonishing trend were readers and commenters sending me records and CDs! No kidding! Almost half of the total music intake this year were gifts. While some were from friends and my loved one, almost as many were from commenters and readers of PPM and for that I salute you. And half of this free music were from my good friend Mr. Ware, who is thinning out his collection and just Messaged me earlier today sending some more that I had passed up in person late last year when given the brief “take what you want.” The generosity of PPM readers like Keith is legendary, but if it takes sending me the CD to finally have me hear [and write about] a band like Rational Youth, then it’s a great thing, yes? Anyone who bothers to send me something will hopefully see me reviewing it for their troubles.
Last year I was hoping to spend less and ultimately managed to do that very successfully. I must admit… I’m getting very concerned about some of the things that were on the want list last year that were not acted upon. Physical releasees are so curtailed these days that scarcity and quickly rising aftermarket prices are commonplace. And there’s the long-standing lists of releases by acts I am in the [long-term] planning stages to make REVO projects from. Many that have haunted me for the last 20 years are now in my rear view mirror, but there’s always those Invaders singles! They never seem to be for sale in America much, and some [like “Backstreet Romeo”] are hard to get any place!
Since I can’t imagine spending any less on music going forward, expect next year’s list to have a bigger budget. I read about phenomena like cheap CDs people are practically giving away, but this is definitely not happening in my region of America and the Vinyl Bubble continues to expand [until it bursts]. One of the albums I bought this year [Harold Budd] had LP as the only physical format it was selling in after first appearing the year prior as a DL. Let’s hope that there’s less of that going forward, but I doubt it.