Crate-Digging: My recap of albums beginning with the letter "A" – Part 2

(Part 1 is here…)


Most improved record with age:

The Fire Show – Above the Volcano of Flowers. This was a close one – it was a real toss-up between The Fire Show and Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore. Both albums I initially dismissed, and I found both to be utterly intriguing after setting them aside for a while (in the case of Adore, it was ten years). The Fire Show does not limit itself, and M. Resplendent and co. shoot off in exciting directions while remaining tight and taut, coiled to strike at any moment. Like a snake, I guess.

Runners up:

  • Smashing Pumpkins – Adore. Ten years on, I’ve finally found a new appreciation for Adore.
  • Deftones – Around the Fur. Somehow Deftones transcend their nu-metal/mook rock contemporaries. It’s gotta be the Depeche Mode influences, and the decision of vocalist Chino Moreno to not rap so much. Good choice.
  • Iambic2 As the Snow Fell. Appreciate all that comes from Laridae Netlabel. This is the perfect winter soundtrack. Download it.
  • Loss of a Child – Adam and Eve. Appreciate all that comes from Lost Children Netlabel. This record was always good, I had just never given it the time it really needed to blossom in my subconscious. It now has. “You Write, I Read, Two Different Stories” is one of the awesomest songs they’ve written. Sounds like M83 with more guitar and no vocals.

Record that sounds the worst with age:

Various Artists – Art Core Volume Two. There’s just so much to not like on this release. It was such a disappointment, considering Volume One was formative to my growth as a music listener. Despite three or four decent songs here, the presence of the O.C. Supertones, Sierra Heart, Sage, the Chevelle clones, and the complete backsliding of Roseblossom Punch and The Waysect Bloom push this album over the edge as the clear loser in this bunch.

Runners up:

  • The Arcade Fire – The Arcade Fire. Less a huge disappointment than a reminder that they were a young band once that didn’t have it all figured out. And now they’re an older band that doesn’t have it all figured out. Whither Funeral and Neon Bible?
  • Gomez – Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline. I think the RIYL says it all: bar bands and hippie crap. I used to like Gomez at one point. I don’t anymore.
  • The Prayer Chain – Antarctica (although just the live half of it). The new material preceding the live section of this record would have made a good EP on its own. The older songs in a live setting sound limp.

Least favorite record (new listen):

Azure Ray – Azure Ray. Is it bad to say that I just don’t care about this record, at all? Because I don’t. In any capacity.

Runners up:

  • Denison Witmer – Are You a Dreamer? and Are You a Sleeper? Kind of the same thing here. It’s the singer-songwriter thing – you really have to have something going for you to get my attention. Sam Beam’s voice. Jose Gonzalez’s guitar and warmth. Will Oldham’s quirk. Denison Witmer’s … yeah, I’m not feeling it. He just doesn’t have anything that causes him to stand out and be noticed.
  • The Eastern Wave – All Covet, All Lose. Post-post-punk? There’s just not a lot of variation on this album. It could have been really good – it was dark and guitar-driven, but just didn’t deviate from that path much.
  • Oriin – All. Things. Are. Numbers. Not everybody can be Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Or Explosions in the Sky. But lots of bands try. Oriin gets lost in the shuffle, despite a decent album. There are just so many better ones.

Most disappointing record:

Built to Spill – Ancient Melodies of the Future. Man, it sucks when you sense that one of your favorite bands is phoning it in. Ancient Melodies was Built to Spill’s first crappy album, and it’s something they haven’t come back from in the decade since its release. Although There Is No Enemy is supposed to be decent – I just haven’t heard it. Which is kind of the problem – I stopped caring about Built to Spill releases after this album. So this wins this award, hands down, because it made me lose faith in Built to Spill and Doug Martsch. Shame on you, Ancient Melodies of the Future. Shame on you.

The following records I deleted from my playlist pretty quickly – I reviewed only one of them:

  • Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Answering Machine Music: A Brief Album in Twelve Parts. Terrible bedroom pop.
  • Blindfolder – Adaptation. Headache inducing noise.
  • Beastie Boys – Aglio E Olio. The worst thing the Beasties have done.
  • Stockfinster – All Becomes Music. Once the vocals kick in, my iPod kicks off.
  • Paramore – All We Know Is Falling. OK mall punk that I just don’t have time for.

In a league of their own:

  • Radiohead – Amnesiac. From people I’ve talked to, this album divides the fanbase. I like it, although I’ve discovered on my most recent listen that the middle is a little much to wade through. “Pyramid Song” is one of the best things the band has ever laid to tape. “Hunting Bears,” “Like Spinning Plates,” and “Life in a Glasshouse” close the record on such an intriguing note, you kind of forget that you had a bit of a slog to get there. So there’s good and there’s not so good, but it’s interesting, especially as a companion piece to Kid A.
  • Silver Jews – American Water. I used to have a lot of interest in Dave Berman’s stoner poetry and lackadaisical drawl, but I find myself less and less in that place where Silver Jews is something I actively want to listen to. The stoner musings just can’t find purchase anymore, I guess, and the dusty alt-country-Pavement vibe doesn’t strike a chord all that much. But in spite of my complaining, the nostalgia trip can be well worth it. I dunno, ask me again in ten years.
  • Interpol – Antics. I have a love/hate relationship with Interpol, and a lot of “style” bands nowadays. The music is good – don’t get me wrong there, there are several tracks on Antics that are eminently listenable, and most at least moderately likable. But – and it’s a big “but,” because I don’t know any of these guys personally – I don’t think I’d want to hang out with Interpol. They seem more interested in their Armani suits than producing a decent record (see, for example, Our Love to Admire). If somebody wants to talk about Interpol, I’d have to shrug my shoulders in disinterest. But you should read my review of Antics – it’s one of my favorites that I’ve written.

What albums did I miss?

Now it’s your turn! Let me know which albums beginning with “A” that I should have in my collection. Open up your playlists and let me have it. I can’t wait to figure out what I have to get my hands on…


12 responses to “Crate-Digging: My recap of albums beginning with the letter "A" – Part 2

  1. let me start with “what i missed.” some classic rock omissions, obviously: santana’s abraxas, pink floyd’s animals, r.e.m.’s automatic for the people (is that classic rock yet?). others: archers of loaf’s all the nations airports, garbage’s absolute garbage, ten in the swear jar’s accordion solo!, descendents’ all, yeasayer’s all hour cymbals, explosions in the sky’s all of a sudden i miss everyone, autechre’s amber, smashing pumpkins’ american gothic ep, johnny cash’s other american recordings, sparta’s austere.

    the quirky stuff that came in after i would have reviewed it, or otherwise: shipwreck a.d.’s abyss, psychedelic horseshit’s acid tape, we fled cairo’s adult braces, sufjan stevens’ all delighted people ep and the age of adz, verse’s aggression, saiga’s agree to disagree, tom waits’ alice, girl talk’s all day, kites sail high’s alone, dead luke’s american haircut, yellow swans’ at all ends, mxpx’s at the show.


  2. Not necessarily suggestions, but here’s some of what I get when I pull up the A albums from my Itunes library

    The Acoustic EP, As The Eternal Cowboy — Against Me!
    Absolution — Muse
    Achtung Baby — U2
    The Age of Plastic — The Buggles
    Aladdin Sane — David Bowie
    Altered Beast — Matthew Sweet
    …And Justice For All — Metallica
    And Out Come The Wolves — Rancid
    And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out — Yo La Tengo
    Apollo 18 — They Might Be Giants

    Other stuff from my Itunes library:

    Acid Eaters, Animal Boy — The Ramones
    Are a Drag — Me First And The Gimme Gimmes
    Attention, Blah Blah Blah — Atom and His Package


  3. good ones matt! rancid and muse ended up in a quick take, so i did get those. funny how some classic albums don’t make it into everyone’s collection.


  4. hmmm..

    actor – st. vincent
    armed forces – elvis costello

    and some of the ones matt listed (u2, bowie, metallica, yo la tengo)


  5. i’ve heard good things about st. vincent. armed forces was in a quick take post, but i should have given it a full review. oh well.


  6. Addicts & Drunks – Ghosts & Vodka… it’s a compilation, maybe you have the album and EP on their own? I hope you do, especially the EP is amazing.

    American Football – American Football (you did do Owen, didn’t you?)

    As The Roots Undo – Circle Takes The Square

    Atlantic – Rainer Maria (actually I’m pretty sure you know and like that one)

    Good list nonetheless, Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t “get” Casiotone for the Painfully Alone… I don’t hate them but yeah…



  7. ooh, no, i don’t have any ghosts & vodka actually. i’ve heard them before but just don’t own anything. i used to have the rainer maria and american football albums but don’t anymore. never listened to circle takes the square though.

    thanks for reading this year!


  8. I just started doing this myself, partly out of necessity, partly out of curiosity. I don’t have quite as much indie stuff but I’ve still found that the first letter is taking a lot longer than I thought. I still think it will be worth it.

    Also, where’s Abbey Road? That was like the 3rd album I listened to and it really got the momentum going.

    Progress updates on Twitter @rickshawblues.


  9. good question! i have it on vinyl, not in my ipod. it’s hard for me to listen to music other than on the go, so unfortunately my vinyl collection won’t get this treatment. keep the missed A’s coming!


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