Notes, January 2020 Edition

I’m going to share some music that I think is really great. As always, there’s no theme; obscure or mainstream, old or new, genre agnostic. Just stuff I like to listen to, so maybe you will too.

Warning, by Green Day. A criminally-underrated album from Green Day’s “middle years.” One of the things I love about Green Day is they’ve had a real evolution and have never tried to go back and duplicate the tone of earlier works. That means that they’re not one consistent sound, and I know a decent number of people who are fans of only one specific era of them. A lot of people pass over the years between the commercial success of the Dookie/Insomniac era and the band’s resurgence with American Idiot, but those years had some real gems, and this album is I think the best from that time.

Heroes From the Future, by Junction 18. One day in the early 2000’s I was in a record store in Delaware, and they had a paper grab bag: 5 CDs for 2 bucks, but you couldn’t look. You just had to trust fate. That seemed like a great deal to me and I spent my last two dollars on a collection that included this album. Over the next several months, I wore it out. When I got my first MP3 player, this was the first thing I put on there, because the band was obscure enough that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find another copy of the CD. It’s poppy alt-rock and isn’t too unique for its time period in that sense, but it always seemed like real pain and experience was dripping out of the speakers when I played this. There’s a hopefulness buried in there too, and that makes it special.

The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways, by Crown The Empire. I just discovered this band this month, and I’m really into them! They’re like a combination of Muse, Dream Theater, System of a Down and My Chemical Romance. The end result is some very weird but very cool metal concept albums and I was really captivated the whole time. This one might push your boundaries some because you might not like anything even adjacent to this, but it’s still worth the experience – as all new music is.

Zoot Suit Riot, by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Okay, so just in case you didn’t pay attention to the blink-and-you-missed-it attempt in the late nineties to resurrect swing music into the mainstream, it happened. I mean, the attempt happened, not the actual resurrection. But one good thing to come out of an otherwise not-so-great experiment was this album. Here’s the thing: the main hit single, “Zoot Suit Riot,” was hands-down the worst song on the album. It’s all anybody heard, and it’s not bad, but every other song is a million times better. Even if you heard the single a bunch on the radio, get the album anyway and just skip it (it’s the first track), and listen to the rest.

The Wind, by Warren Zevon. I absolutely love Warren Zevon. He was just so freakin’ weird and great and inspired. In 2002 he found out he was dying of cancer, and he raced into the studio with a bunch of his friends, other musicians, and the support of both his studio and his loved ones and just cranked out this album, wanting to make sure he got in one last record before his end. It is absolutely divine. It rocks, and it’s heartbreaking, and it’s fitting. It was a fantastic sendoff. It was released two weeks before his death, and I first bought it the day it was released. Every song was fresh in my memory, having been listened to on near-repeat for that whole time, when I read the news that one of my favorites had passed. You can’t take it with you, man, but you can sure leave it behind.

Tell me what music you keep in your heart for a while.

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