New Albums in my collection: December 2019

>> Camila Cabello: Camila
>> Camila Cabello: Romance

Yes, there is actually some current pop music that I like. Don’t judge me.

>> Candy Dulfer: Sax-a-Go-Go
More 1990s contemporary jazz from the musician famous for “Lily Was Here”, the 1991 collaboration with David A. Stewart of Eurythmics.

>> Ingrid Michaelson: Songs of the Season
I almost went a year without getting a new holiday album. Almost. Right before Christmas Eve I got this collection. While the album was recorded in 2018, it sounds like it could have come from the late 1950s, with arrangements harkening back to the golden age of pop vocal music.

>> Snail Mail: Habit
Reissue of Lindsey Jordan’s 2016 debut EP, recorded when she was about 17 years old. Throwback 1990s Lo-Fi sound with perhaps a few hints of shoegaze or dream pop.

>> Various Artists: Celtic Tides
A collection of Celtic music spanning both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, from Ireland to Canada.

New Albums in my collection: November 2019

>> Steve Hackett: Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra: Live at the Royal Festival Hall
Multi-disc set with the concert film on blu-ray and DVD, and the audio on two CDs. The latest in Hackett’s increasingly frequent live albums. It’s hardly a redundancy though, as this time the songs are accompanied by a full orchestra. Genesis and Hackett solo songs of old (and not so old) are featured.

>> Anthony Phillips: Strings of Light
The first new album in seven years from the Genesis founding member is a showcase of his skills on a variety of acoustic guitars from his collection, similar to 2005’s Field Day. The 24 pieces of music span two CDs, and a DVD with a surround mix is also included.

>> Prince: 1999
New 2CD edition with a remastered version of the original album, plus an extra disc of single versions, remixes, and B-sides.

>> Wilderun: Veil of Imagination
Wilderun’s third album shows a band comfortable in their craft and expanding their scope. While they made their name taking the uniquely European genre of folk metal and putting it through a North American lens, Veil of Imagination finds them going more symphonic, with a generous helping of early Opeth influences.

New Albums in my collection: October 2019

>> BABYMETAL: METAL GALAXY
International version of the kawaii metal group’s third album, the first after Yui-Metal’s departure. Missing are two songs from the original Japanese edition, which was released as a 2CD set. A very strong album which covers many styles of metal, including European folk metal! The Indian-influenced “Shanti Shanti Shanti” is one of the highlights for me.

>> Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things 3 Score
The synthwave instrumental BGM from the third season of the series.

>> Vince Guaraldi: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Quite literally the soundtrack for the timeless special. It’s the literal audio from the show, minus dialogue, but with a few sound effects still embedded since the master tapes for the show have apparently been lost to the ages. It may be low fidelity mono, and a scant twenty minutes long, but more Vince Guaraldi music is always a good thing!

>> PassCode: CLARITY
UK release of the Japanese idol metal group’s latest album. They’re quite different from BABYMETAL, though, sounding more like trance metal musically, often featuring scream vocals. (Making effective use of the “gap”: idols singing in a way completely opposite to their outward appearance.) They do use autotune fairly regularly on the girls’ singing, which normally I would absolutely despise since autotune is an abomination, but being Japanese girls, it kind of makes them sound like Vocaloids (which I like), so… I’m more okay with it? In any case, when it comes to idols singing metal, PassCode is another of my favorite groups.

New Albums in my collection: September 2019

>> The Beatles: Abbey Road
Following the new modern stereo remixes of Sgt. Pepper and The Beatles comes a new stereo mix of Abbey Road. Also included is an “alternate” album of demos and rehearsal takes of each of the songs.

>> Opeth: In Cauda Venenum
The impressive new release comes as a bilingual set with the complete album in both their native Swedish and in English.

>> Lindsey Stirling: Shatter Me
>> Lindsey Stirling: Artemis

Shatter Me is Lindsey’s second album, and I got “The Complete Experience” limited edition. Instead of a normal CD case or digipak, it’s a 9×9 inch 48 page magazine with photos and interviews, and a sheet of word magnets.
Lindsey’s fourth album Artemis was just released, and I like the artwork as much as the music on it, which is of course a fusion of solo violin and electronic sounds. It’s also a concept album, despite being mostly instrumental. (Which itself is a welcome return to form after her previous album Brave Enough, which while a good album, relied quite heavily on vocal collaborations.)

New Albums in my collection: August 2019

>> Tony Banks: Banks Vaults
Box set of all of the Genesis founder’s solo rock albums and soundtracks, all newly remastered. A Curious Feeling, The Wicked Lady, The Fugitive, Soundtracks, Bankstatement, Still, and strictly inc. A Curious Feeling and The Fugitive had previously received new stereo (and surround) mixes when they were reissued within the past decade, and The Wicked Lady received its first ever CD edition in 2013 – thirty years after its release! This set collects those and the remainder, a couple of which were in dire need of sonic renewal! Also included is a DVD with all of eight of Tony’s music videos, collected for the first time.

>> Kate Bush: The Dreaming
Despite her legendary status in the art rock scene, I don’t know too much about Kate Bush outside of her work with Peter Gabriel in the 1980s. When I learned that this album was one of Steven Wilson’s musical influences for Hand. Cannot. Erase., I knew it belonged in my collection. The Dreaming is also generally regarded as Kate Bush’s most experimental (and least accessible) album, so I look forward to listening to it over and over so I can start figuring it all out.

New Albums in my collection: July 2019

>> Annie Lennox: Medusa
A covers album given Annie’s unique treatment.

>> Miami Sound Machine: Primitive Love
The Latin pop band fronted by Gloria Estefan finally started to see crossover success in the US with this 1985 album featuring “Conga”.

>> Renaissance: Novella
Symphonic prog masterpiece from 1977. Renaissance blended progressive rock with orchestral arrangements to great success in the ’70s, and this album was no exception. The new reissue includes a 2CD bonus concert from 1977 at The Royal Albert Hall performing with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

>> Diana Ross: Playlist: The Very Best of Diana Ross
Unlike many “best of” compilations, the full-length album versions of the songs are used here, which is especially welcome when some of the songs are of the disco or dance variety, where single versions don’t give the song enough time to properly stretch out.

>> Roxette: Joyride
Roxette may have been more popular in their native Sweden, but after their breakout Look Sharp! in 1988, this followup from 1991 benefitted from some of that momentum overseas as well, including the title single.

New Albums in my collection: June 2019

>> Emily Bear: Five Years Wise
>> Emily Bear: The Love In Us
>> Emily Bear: Once Upon A Wish
>> Emily Bear: Always True
>> Emily Bear: Hope
>> Emily Bear: Diversity
>> Emily Bear Trio: Into the Blue

Don’t let the cute little girl on the album covers fool you. She is a piano prodigy who wrote her first song at age three, has been mentored by the likes of Quincy Jones, and all but the first of these albums are comprised of her own compositions (and even that first one still has a few). These albums were written and recorded from ages five to fourteen, and are mostly in the classical/new age vein, but not tied down to any one style. As she grew up she began exploring jazz more (Diversity and Into the Blue) and most recently popular music. Now seventeen, I happened to see Emily performing a new jazz/pop crossover song on TV recently, then I watched a live performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with a full orchestra filmed when she was thirteen, and I became a fan, ordering her complete discography to date directly from her website.

>> Renaissance: Live at Carnegie Hall
>> Renaissance: A Song for All Seasons

More remastered and expanded Renaissance reissues, including their grand live album from 1975 and their memorable 1978 album. Both sets include additional live performances as bonus tracks, including a full show from 1978 in the latter.