A look back at the new music that was: January 2019 edition


And now for a stroll down memory lane… The sound of decades past.


Notable January 2009 releases:


Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

By the time their third album dropped, Alex Kapranos and crew had already established themselves as the preeminent dance-rockers of the decade.  Although this isn’t their most consistently great album, it has more than its fair share of classics.  Lead single “Ulysses” had that ominous bassline while Alex near-whispered about his boredom and desire to get high, while “No You Girls” is still their second most popular song.  “Turn It On” is the epitome of the Franz clan at their best, and the last two tracks on the record expanded their sound a bit; “Dream Again” is some spaced-out art-psychedelia that still haunts me to this day, even as I find myself grooving and dancing to it, and “Katherine Kiss Me” is a straight up love song, and a strange one at that – and yes, it includes some of the same lyrics found on “No You Girls”.


Notable January 1999 releases:


Built To Spill – Keep It Like A Secret

BTS’s fourth album is like a nice warm blanket for me.  It may not be their most amazing or dynamic effort, but it can instantly put me into a good mood.  After releasing the epic and long-winded jamfest Perfect From Now On two years prior, Doug went in a different direction with this accessible and super-catchy effort.

When BTS played the album in its entirety during last year’s main stage Treefort appearance, it was one of the greatest live performances I have ever experienced. “Center of the Universe” may have thrust them into the fringe of the mainstream, but the guitar-heavy epic jams “Broken Chairs” and “Carry the Zero” are personal favorites.  Pitchfork magazine named this masterpiece the #41 record of the 1990s, a distinction it deserves.

Oh- I have seen BTS (Doug and assorted folks, over the years) 15 or 16 times, and I think the song they play most often is the terrific opener to this disc: “The Plan”.  It just keeps coming back again…


Notable January 1989 releases:

Lou Reed-New York, Rush-A Show of Hands, Too Short-Life Is…Too Short


Notable January 1979 releases:

Elvis Costello-Armed Forces, Rick James-Bustin’ Out of L Seven, John Denver-John Denver


Notable January 1969 releases:


CCR – Bayou Country

“When I was just a little boy, standin’ to my daddy’s knee; my poppa said son, don’t let the man get ya and do what he done to me” – so starts the double-platinum second album from Creedence Clearwater Revival.  The first of three LPs the legendary band released in 1969, this classic may lack volume (its duration is a mere seven songs and 33 minutes) but is not want for greatness.  The Fogertys were just beginning their brief but very real dominance of FM radio (this album reached #7 on the charts, the worst performance of the five they released in ’69 and ‘70), and while it is tough to pick a favorite here, and “Proud Mary” certainly has its fans, you just can’t go wrong with the 8-minute psych-boogie/ghost story that is “Graveyard Train”.

Fun fact: CCR recorded five #2 singles in their career, the most of any band in history that never reached #1.


Led Zeppelin –I

Hey everyone!  Hot Take Alert: Led Zeppelin was fucking badass.

So many epic tracks, so little time.  If you haven’t heard this album from front to back, congratulations for escaping: Amish life is no way to exist.  These guys burst onto the scene in full-on beast mode.  From the opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” until the closing notes of “How Many More Times”, this album is one of the greatest bands of all time in all of their youthful glory.  Robert Plant’s vocals are beyond belief and have been emulated for decades since, Jimmy Page’s riffs resonate to this day, and John Bonham, well, he is arguably the greatest drummer of all time.

The originals and the old blues standards they cover all scream Led Zep, and you can’t go wrong with any song here; my favorite depends on my mood, today I’ll say “You Shook Me”.  I simply can never tire of Robert and Jimmy’s call and answer that makes up the last minute of that track.

Fun fact: Zep influenced nearly every band that picked up a guitar from 1970 until, well, they still do.