Music bought in 2009
€1 = $1.45

New [on LP]

Working On A Dream by Bruce Springsteen
Hmm. One year down the line, I still don't really know what to think of Working On A Dream. It includes at least 6 masterpieces, which is a lot if you take into consideration the fact that some bands only make 1 good song in their entire career. I will never write one relevant song, let alone six. But since Bruce Springsteen is my hero, I have to be honest : this album includes too many mediocre musings. In general, Working On A Dream is still a major recommendation -- but I am slightly disappointed. Just slightly, though.

Home Before Dark by Neil Diamond
The second Diamond album produced by the Rick Rubin.
If I Don't See You Again is a brilliant song.

Drastic Fantastic by K.T. Tunstall
Cutie Tunstall - a pun by Belgian weekly Focus Knack I wish I had invented - doesn't quite deliver on her second album. Saving My Face is a classic, but few other tracks stand out as essential listening. The booklet has great, comic book-
esque artwork.

Kidzz (Skyve Reuter rmx) by Nid & Sancy
A 12" floorfiller, including a remix/mash-up by the Joris Jonckheer a.k.a. "Skyve Reuter", a friend of mine. How cool.

Miles Away by Madonna
I'm not a big Madonna fan. I don't underestimate her influence on the history of popular music and I appreciate her efforts for the acceptance of gay rights, but I never took the time to discover her music. I only know 'the hits'. Miles Away, from her latest album Hard Candy, is a great song.

Ulysses by Franz Ferdinand
Superb Scottish song and super cheap at only €1.50 (that's less than what an average 7" cost in the 60's!). Just two questions : did they name it Ulysses because they truly love James Joyce or did they pick the name in a vein effort to impress the cultural elite? And isn't it a little cheap to have a chorus that's nothing more than "La la la la la"?

Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Robert Plant (the man spells virility) and Alison Krauss (the woman can play). Together. A deadly combination, resulting in a lot of Grammy's. Shouldn't that be Grammies, if you apply correct English grammar?

Anywhere I Lay My Head by Scarlett Johansson
Miss Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers. A strange beast, to say the least. But not half bad, actually.

Vantage Point by dEUS
Belgium's biggest band with balls brings an album with cojones. Die-hard dEUS fans were reportedly not impressed, but I am. I have not heard any of their previous albums and I only know their big hits (e.g. Suds & Soda, Fell Of The Floor, Man). As such, I could listen to Vantage Point with a clear and open mind. I reckon the album is fantastic. Ignore the naysayers and judge for yourself.

Chinese Democracy by Guns N' Roses
Finally! The infamous album, in the making since 1993. Does it deliver? Eh, yes. All tracks are great (especially Chinese Democracy, Shackler's Revenge, Better, Catcher In The Rye and Madagascar), but the album lacks the original bandmembers and cohesion. At times, it comes across as a patchwork of different producers and editors. Some tracks sound very ProTools-processed, too. Compare this album to Use Your Illusion II, which sounds very organic. Madagascar is vintage GN'R brilliance, but the vocals on the title track (for example) are very distorted - as if Axl is using a vocoder.
Vocoders are fine for mediocre singers, but Rose is one of the best singers in rock history, so I'm confused. Just one question : 16 years of very expensive studio time!? Were they really necessary?

Only By The Night by Kings Of Leon
Stadium rock from Nashville, Tennessee. Tailor made for a big audience, but impressive nonetheless. What does the title mean, by the way? Can something happen only by the night? Can someone get killed only by the night? Answers to the usual electronic address.

Kill To Get Crimson by Mark Knopfler
My hero, churning out more laid back lullabies. Enjoy it with a Coke and some crisps. Knopfler will be visiting Antwerp in June 2010, but I still have to buy a ticket. Better hurry.

Rockferry by Duffy
Mercy, Warwick Avenue and Rockferry are beautiful neo-soul ditties. How and if Duffy will be able to top her debut album, remains to be seen.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian
Third Scottish purchase of the year, after K.T. and Franz. Incredibly beautiful music by an underrated band (they should sell out the big stadiums, instead of some uninspired bands I won't name), which I discovered thanks to Juno.

Far by Regina Spektor
Luckily, the mainstream success of her previous album Begin To Hope did not change Regina Spektor. She still composes sweet little songs. Please continue.

Incredibad by The Lonely Island
Hip hop spoofs by three Saturday Night Live members. Hilarious stuff, but not destined for eternity.

21st Century Breakdown by Green Day
"Let's hope the next album will be half as good as American Idiot." I wrote in my review. I can safely assure it is more than half as good (Modern World is the standout track), but it's not as good. Then again, who can top American Idiot, by far the best album of the 2000's?
The three act approach, as if the album really is a rock opera or a play, is a great idea. A full review of 21st Century Breakdown is in the pipeline, because an ambitious concept album like this deserves more than 9 lines of opinion.

Poker Face by Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is hated by some, but I fail to see why. Her success may be the result of clever marketing and a sniff of controversy, but the girl can sing, play piano for real and compose her own songs. Top that, Britney.

Swords by Morrissey
My favourite gay, with a collection of B-sides and unreleased tracks. Leave it to Stephen Patrick Morrissey to call an album "penises".

Draw The Line by David Gray
David Gray made one of the most acclaimed records ever in the year 2000, but I had never heard of him until three months ago. Draw The Line includes Nemesis (2009's best song), the beautiful Fugitive, the potent title track and more. Essential.

This Is It by Michael Jackson
Beautiful though expensive 4-LP box set. A stunning collection of hits by my (late) man, but his best tracks (e.g. Give In To Me, Morphine, Unbreakable, Dirty Diana) are missing.

La Roux by La Roux
80's flavoured synth pop from the United Kingdom. Bulletproof is a song for the ages, but In For The Kill is bleh. "I'm going in for the kill/I'm doing it for the thrill". Wow. Poetry.

Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures
As expected, an electrifying release. Probably too loud for Joe Average and too soft for Joe Metalhead, but exactly what I like. John Paul Jones is the world's best bass player, especially since John Entwistle died.

Flight Of The Conchords by Flight Of The Conchords
Third self-titled album in a row. Why not come up with a good title? I digress : Flight Of The Conchords is a hilarious album by a hilarious² Kiwi-duo. Discover them today via the acclaimed and equally hilarious³ HBO-series.

Jump Around by House Of Pain
Vintage hip hop, with great nonsensical lyrics : "Try to play me out like if my name was Sega".

New [on CD]

Disturbia by Various Artists
Cheap cinema compilation (€4.90) to the 2007 movie, with some masterpieces and some crap. Standout tracks are One Man Wrecking Machine by Guster (I had never ever heard of this band, but what a truly great song!), Always Love by Nada Surf, Dream by Priscilla Ahn and Don't Make Me Wait by This World's Fair (what a strange band name).
Do buy One Man Wrecking Machine today! Buy, don't download. Or do download, but only via iTunes.

Disturbia by Geoff Zanelli
The instrumental score to the same movie. Daunting, haunting, screepy (a 2008 neologism, meaning "scary
and creepy at the same time") and essential.

15 Years Of Fame by Janez Detd.
Belgian punkers celebrate fifteen years in the business with a compilation, given away for free with an issue of the P-Magazine weekly. Their best song was, is and will always be Anti-Anthem. Buy it today. Or check YouTube. No, do buy it.

Walk The Line by Various Artists
Superb movie, superb soundtrack. And that's that.

Foot Of The Mountain by a-ha
After 24 years in the business, a-ha managed to make one of their best songs ever. What a triumph.
This single is quite rare, because it's Germany-only. The rest of the world only had the 'legal download' option, but Germany saw a physical release.

Foot Of The Mountain by a-ha
The album of the same name, featuring The Bandstand (an entry in the greatest songs never released as a single-countdown) and the title track, amongst 8 other fine ditties.
Foot Of The Mountain may be their last album ever - alas - but it's also their best since Scoundrel Days in 1986. Yes, that is saying a lot. What a fine closing chapter to their impressive career. Now guys, do come back to Belgium for one last gig. I still need to see you before you break up.

Second-hand [on LP]

The Ghost Of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen
His 1996 folk album. I already have the compact disc version, but I could not resist the vinyl version when I finally found it. It would be nice to acquire all Springsteen studio album on 12". Still to find : The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle, Nebraska, Human Touch and Live In New York City.

Second Arrow by The Bet
80's Belpop at its finest. Ela Ela Ela should have been a worldwide charttopper.

Blood On The Dancefloor by Michael Jackson
Prior to 2009, I still needed HIStory and Blood On The Dancefloor to complete my 'Michael Jackson studio albums on vinyl' collection. I found the latter platter for a mere $9 in February, but I will have to pay a lot more for HIStory - especially since his passing. Rest in peace, Mike. Full review here.

Stay On These Roads by a-ha
Third album by the Norwegian synthpop heroes. Stay On These Roads may be their worst, because it includes the campy Touchy! and an unnecessary remix of the otherwise perfect The Living Daylights. The title track is gold, though. But as the follow-up to their best album Scoundrel Days, this is a disappointingly craptacular album.

Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D'Arby
A classic from the eighties, including the soulful Sign Your Name, the funky Wishing Well and the danceable Dance Little Sister - with the great lyric : "Get up from your rocking chair, grandma!/Or rather, would you care to dance, grandmother?". Yep, I wish I had written that.

American Pie by Don McLean
I'll be honest : I just wanted the title track. I envy McLean's epic lyricism, I truly do.

A Portrait In Music by Elvis Presley
As unnecessary as 95% of all Elvis Presley compilations out there, but this one was cheap (€1) and in excellent, near-mint condition.

She's A Mystery To Me by Roy Orbison
Maxi-single pulled off of Roy Orbison's posthumous comeback classic Mystery Girl. I did not need this, but I wanted to put it next to You Got It, the Orbison maxi I received last year.

China In Your Hands by T'Pau
80's cheese? Yes, indeed. But quality cheese. What does T'Pau mean, by the way?

Clap For The Wolfman by The Guess Who
Simply one of the best songs ever. Better buy it today, Julian's Posts-readers! Buy, don't download.

Second-hand [on DCC]

Warm Your Heart by Aaron Neville
Including his hilarious cover of the classic Ave Maria hymn. What a top rendition. I just love his strange voice and intonation. Does he speak like this in real life?

Mental Jewelry by Live
Their debut album, released prior to the world fame they were to achieve with the follow-up Throwing Copper.

D-Day Music Clearance Sale [on CD]

My favourite CD/vinyl-store from Mortsel-Oude God, Belgium [Mortsel-Ancient God, Belgium] had to close down, thanks to the financial crisis and the illegal downloaders.

I found some good bargains during the final sale days : Wilson Pickett's The Best Of Wilson Pickett (€2.70), Backstreet Boys' Millennium (€2.40), Backstreet Boys' Backstreet Boys (€3), R.E.M.'s Monster (€3), R.E.M.'s Roadmovie [on DVD] (€3), PJDS' Light Sleeper (€2.70) and Pretenders' Viva El Amor! (€2.40).

Julian De Backer, 12 January 2010