July 10th marked the first Friday of the new global music release date. In a move to rekindle excitement about album release dates, the industry has decided all music will now be released on Friday. Whoopie. But don’t be too quick to run out and buy the newest, hottest piece of wax. That’s just what the man wants you to do. Instead, you ought to educate yourself, musically. Are you just going to let some music streaming apps make all your music listening choices? No, because your preferences aren’t best described by an algorithm.
I suggest that we go back to simpler times. To a time when your local music store clerk would pick something out for you based solely on what you said you liked and their own musical hubris. Just like that scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black insists that some dude buy Jesus and the Mary Chain’s Psychocandy because it takes off where his precious Echo and the Bunnymen left off, and that other pasty guy plays Stiff Little Fingers for the Green Day girl. So here’s some unsolicited advice from a record store salesclerk to better inform your next music purchase.
What you’re looking for: David Bowie’s “Heroes”
What you should buy: Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets
While “Heroes” might not even be the most Eno-like of Bowie’s albums—that title would have to go to the incredibly atmospheric Low—it nonetheless makes excellent use of Eno’s ability to create sonic textures. Here Come the Warm Jets, on the other hand, is the most Bowie-like of Eno’s albums. This very rockin’, very glam-y album offers a clear indication of what Roxy Music could have been had Eno not left the band after For Your Pleasure. Robert Flipps guitar work on it is tremendous, and gives the album a hard edge. Sometimes I wish Eno would have stayed the art rock course, but hey, then we won’t have ambient music.
What you’re looking for: Ghostface Killah’s Twelve More to Die 2
What you should buy: Jeru the Damaja’s The Sun Rises In The East
When not beefing with Action Bronson over who sounds most like old GFK, Ghost has been cranking out new records. This marks Ghostface Killah’s third release in the past three years. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Twelve More to Die 2, which heavily features the the usual suspects, namely RZA and Raekwon, it sounds pretty much like the old stuff. Which is, of course, a very good thing. However, if you’re gonna buy something that sounds like mid-90’s East Coast hip-hop, why not go straight to the source. Though Jeru the Damaja was not a popular figure in his time, both among commercial audiences and his fellow rappers—he was a vocal critic of big name acts like The Fugees and Puffy Daddy—The Sun Rises in the East is flawless. It was the first full-length album that DJ Premier produced outside of Gang Starr. Jeru’s cocksure yet thoughtful rhythms are hip-hop lyricism at its finest. Jeru’s The Sun Rises in the East was released the same year as Nas’ Illmatic and is every bit as quintessential.
What you’re looking for: The Clash’s London Calling
What you should buy: The Undertones’ The Undertones
There’s no reason to go to a used record store looking for an album that every teenager who has ever even been slightly interested in music owns. I get it’s a masterpiece. Everyone knows that. It is, however, far from the only punk masterpiece recorded in 1979 in the U.K. Take for instance, the Undertones’ self-titled first full release. I defy you to find a more prefect summertime punk album than it, though the Undertones are sadly often forgot about in comparison to other classic acts of the era, say like the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks. “Teenage Kicks” is a personal favorite, but there are no duds to be found on this timeless album. If you’re super cool you’ll pick up the UK import with the band posing as a crew of mopey young British lads sitting hunched on a wall.
What you’re looking for: Bad Brain’s Banned in D.C.
What you should buy: Scream’s Still Screaming
While it’s awesome that you’re looking to add these local legends to your collection—and Banned in D.C. is undoubtedly worth owning—there are much more precious local gems to be found. Scream, along with Minor Threat and Government Issue, is a band paramount to the D.C. hardcore punk scene. Any of the four albums the band released during that time are solid; I’d highly recommend any one of them. However, “Still Screaming” incorporates everything the band does so very well. It twists and turns through victorious punk fury, clever and catchy, political charged lyrics, and is overall surprisingly approachable. Scream also recently got back together, so this should make finding new presses of the band’s back catalog somewhat easier.
What you’re looking for: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s The High Country
What you should buy: Heatmiser’s Mic City Sons
SSLYBY has been selling their brand of 90’s indie-pop since the start of the new millennium. And it’s a hell of an easy sell for anyone who likes their guitar riffs fuzzy, but not too fuzzy, and their songs catchy, but not overly catchy. All of these pleasant songs about meeting very pleasant girls, however, can make for a very underwhelming listen. Instead, try out Heatmiser—Elliott Smith’s indie super group. Seeing as Elliott Smith was paramount figure in defining the sound of indie pop to come, it has always surprised me how relevantly unknown Heatmiser is. Especially when concerning the remarkable consistency of “Mic City Sons.” Even the songs not penned by Smith—both “Eagle Eye” and “Cruel Remainder” were written by No. 2’s Neil Gust—are outstanding examples of how to successfully add a bit of swagger and aggression to that indie-pop charm.