The last published review on this project was on Day 44, but steam wore off on the writing side of this project a few days earlier. By the time I got to album 40, I began to feel a certain malaise. It was while listening to that evening’s selection, a self-titled EP of instrumental music by a band named Swims. It’s a lovely short work from a two piece band, and while it’s not stylistically drum n bass, that is exactly what the band is made up of: one drummer, one bassist. And yet, all I was able to muster about the EP, besides some introductory info like what I just shared, were two words: “bass noodling.” It’s sort of jazzy, a little post-rock… it’s like an EP of Patrick O’Hearn’s work on Zappa’s “Rubber Shirt,” and that can’t be bad… and yet I was left with two meaningless words to describe it. That felt like hitting the wall.
It didn’t help that it was followed by a triumverate of disappointing albums: I have already weighed in on two of them, but I was particularly unable to really speak about the Kink’s Preservation Act 2, in part because it would have required far too much to say. Firstly, it became glaringly obvious that the first act of Preservation was necessary to really understand the content, but what WAS given felt far too sparse, and not really able to carry on a cohesive plot. It quickly became clear that the whole thing was going to become an academic thesis instead of a proper review, so while the album does start out with some killer riffs, and while “He’s Evil” encapsulates the best of this sort of rock-opera kitsch, it’s unlikely I can properly return to it in writing without serious time and further research, and I’m sure those are topics exhausted at the release of the albums in the ’70s.
That’s not to say that the 40s were all disappointment: the back half was almost all good, and while albums from Ted Leo and two ’90s obscurities, Chalk Farm and Outhouse, were just solidly good without being tailored for remarks, I was pleasantly surprised by Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, especially given how averse I was to Bush for so many years. The album embraces her at her most dramatic, and it allowed me to do the same, appreciating that Bush is a spiritual foremother to Tori Amos, as the audio parallels were far too numerous and obvious to ignore. I was less surprised, but far more pleased, with Innervisions, which was the sort of embarrassing omission from the collection which made me want to start this project to begin with. Stevie is a gem that I perhaps never fully understood until now, and when he was trending on Facebook that night, having just made a statement about the passing of his friend Prince, I freaked out hard that the man might have been the next genius claimed by a brutal 2016. Thankfully not so much.
The real special find here, though, was Anakin and their album Random Accessed Memories. I was admittedly terrified by this album: it was for all intents and purposes digital-only. The band was named after a Star Wars character, and the album shared a title with one of the more overrated albums of the last 5 years. That being said, I am highly considering picking up a copy of a box set purely to get a hard copy of the album. It’s brilliant space-power-punk, super catchy and infectious. Anakin is in some ways the band Weezer was supposed to be, and discovering them almost makes up for the last decade+ of Weezer’s existence.
The albums from this period, then, are as follows:
40: Swims – Swims
41: Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club
42: Somos – First Day Back
43: The Kinks – Preservation Act 2
44: Ensiferum – Dragonheads
45: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Tyranny of Distance
46: Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
47: Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
48: Chalk Farm – Notwithstanding
49: Anakin – Random Accessed Memories
50: Outhouse – Welcome