Call me Edna St. Vincent Millay’s candle at dawn ’cause I am Burnt Out.
For your reference, my impersonal rating system follows:
★★★★★ I listen to it regularly.
★★★★☆ I will listen to it again.
★★★☆☆ I wouldn’t mind listening to it in a mix.
★★☆☆☆ If it comes on I won’t turn it off.
★☆☆☆☆ I’m not interested in hearing it again.
Tom Petty – Wildflowers (1994) ★★★★☆
How could one complain about Wildflowers? Beautiful poetic songs, laid-back sneery songs, fast-paced songs on the move: classic Petty!
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (2009)
I want to like Camera Obscura, but every song is the same faux-sock hop shtick and I can’t hear anything else.
Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)★★★★☆
Part Dropkick Murphys, part Decemberists, part The Movie American Beauty (and yes, I realize this album pre-dates the success of those bands/that film). Good to listen to, but a little bit gross.
Joanna Newsome – The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004) ★★★☆☆
I appreciated a heads-up w/r/t Newsome’s unusual voice before listening to this album. The music and lyrics drew me in and made me want to listen repeatedly.
Portugal. The Man – Evil Friend (2013) ★★☆☆☆
I’ve listened to this album so many times, but I have no memory of it. That doesn’t speak well for it.
R.E.M. – Out of Time (1991) ★★★☆☆
Out of Time is an enjoyable listen. The hits are the standouts for good reason.
Our Debut Album – Our Debut Album (2017)★★★★☆
Dave Shumka and Graham Clark, of Stop Podcasting Yourself superstardom, wrote each of these songs in 60-minute sessions. Our Debut Album may not be Sgt. Pepper, but they’re some dang catchy songs that hold up to repeated listenings.
The Mountain Goats – Tallahassee (2002) ★★★☆☆
All I can hear in Tallahassee is anger.
George Michael – Faith (1987) ★★★★★
The movie Keanu has a scene centered around “Father Figure” which convinced me I needed to give this song a fair shake. Much like Prince, I never realized the serious fandom for George Michael until his death. His music reminds me of David Bowie and Michael Jackson, with a healthy dose of old school crooner. Faith is a joy to listen to.
The Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in my Backyard (1985) ★★★★☆
This album is a good time! Most songs sound like the executed ideas of 16 year olds, but really talented 16 year olds. Should we be worried about how on-the-nose “Right Wing Pigeon” is, or is nothing too crazy to worry about anymore?
Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) ★★★★★
Johnny Cash established his legend through unique vocals and outspoken voice, but I’ll always remember him as a generous patron of the arts. This album covers songwriters from John Lennon to Sting to Trent Reznor. From the artistic care Cash pours into every song, you can tell he is a true fan of the music. I love these songs, and the guitar sound is my favorite kind of guitar sound.
Dum Dum Girls – Too True (2014)
Here is another high energy pop album I can really get behind. The title track has a nifty twist in the lyrics, and I believe continued attention will reveal more clever devices to surprise and delight.
Moses Sumney – Lamentations EP (2016) ★★★★☆
If you’re looking for catchiness, this entire five-song EP is worth it for the song “Worth It.” The other tracks are undoubtedly beautiful; the kind of music one may listen to in moments of reflection and calm.
A Report to the Shareholders
I have no regrets about this project. I listened to exponentially more new music than I have in years past. I know for a fact I never would have listened to most of these albums, including most of my Top Ten, if left to my own devices. I appreciate everyone’s recommendations, even those I didn’t act on.
In 2018 I am going to take it down to a more me-friendly pace by listening to an average of two new albums a month, with half of them new releases. Here’s to 2018!