Last week, I published my 750th column.
It wasn’t really a celebratory affair in my head. In fact, “in my head” is a pretty good description of how it turned out – it was a naked exploration of my own mental issues, set to a soundtrack of raging punk and hopeful anthem-rock. It was very difficult to write, and even more difficult to put out there. One of the reasons I went ahead with it was my perception that, among my friends and co-workers, my silly music column isn’t very well read. I figured number 750 would come and go, like all the others.
But I underestimated my friends. One of them, Javi Terrazas, designed a jubilant piece of art with my column title, my name, the number 750 and a spinning vinyl record on it. Then 20 or so of my friends made that their profile pictures online, and shared the column. At last count, just from Facebook, more than 1,300 people have seen it. I got more than two dozen really nice messages from people going through similar issues, people opening up and talking about their own depression and mental health – in some cases, for the first time, with anyone. It was really lovely.
I make my living with words, and I can’t find any that describes the warmth and wonder I have felt over the past few days. You all took what started out as a very difficult experience and made it not only worth it, but extraordinary. Among the best few days of my year. I’m grateful. Even more than I was a few days ago. It’s a good life, and I’m thankful for it.
So you’ll forgive me, after the emotional roller coaster of the past seven days, if I take it relatively easy this week. The music gods saw fit to grant us a week without many notable new releases – there’s a new (and unremarkable) Spock’s Beard album, and that’s about it. So I’m traveling light this week. Don’t expect much. If you’re new here, this isn’t our usual fare, and I’ll be back to offering long-winded thoughts on new music next week.
This week, in keeping with the running theme of looking forward and embracing life, a bit of a look ahead. We stand on the precipice of six of the greatest new music weeks I’ve ever seen, six weeks that will hopefully leave my soul as full as they will leave my bank account empty. It all starts Friday, with new albums from Beach House, Yo La Tengo, Foals and the Weeknd (yes, the album that includes “Can’t Feel My Face”). I’m particularly interested in the Beach House, since the first single finds them going full-on shoegaze, and the Foals, since they’re one of the most interesting and underrated bands out there right now.
September 4 is a prog-metal extravaganza. We’ll get the sixth album from Polish proggers Riverside, called Love, Fear and the Time Machine. We’ll get the fourth act of the six-part opera in progress from the Dear Hunter, called Rebirth in Reprise. But best of all, we’ll get The Book of Souls, the new album from Iron Maiden. A double album clocking in at more than an hour and a half long, The Book of Souls looks like it will handily continue the momentum Maiden has built up since reuniting with Bruce Dickinson 15 years ago. Every one of their new-millennium albums has been a classic, and early reports on this one are more than positive. I can’t wait. Up the irons!
Speaking of metal, we get a new Slayer on September 11, called Repentless. It’s the first since guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s death, and since he wrote much of the band’s key material, it will be interesting to see how they do without him. The new Ben Folds, called So There, will be out that day as well, and it includes Folds’ first concerto for piano and orchestra. (The songs I’ve heard have been pretty terrible, so all my hopes are pinned on the concerto right now.) Duran Duran’s new one Paper Gods will also hit stores, as will new things from Low and Craig Finn. And believe it or not, I’m pretty interested to hear the new Jewel, Picking Up the Pieces, which she describes as a sequel to her still-unmatched debut, Pieces of You.
Then along comes September 18, with new albums from Chris Cornell, Battles, Glen Hansard, David Gilmour, Telekinesis and Leigh Nash, as well as the first of a trilogy from Geoff Tate’s new band Operation: Mindcrime. (Yes, he left Queensryche and then named his band after Queensryche’s most successful album. I’m still jazzed for it.) Then along comes September 25, with new things from Disclosure, Chvrches, New Order, the Dears, Silversun Pickups, Patty Griffin, Los Lobos, the Dead Weather and a project from Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan called (for real) Sexwitch.
And then! October 2 brings us the first new pop album from Joe Jackson in seven years, called Fast Forward, and the first new album from Squeeze in 17 years, called Cradle to the Grave. Plus we will get new ones from John Grant, Editors, Blitzen Trapper and Deafheaven, and the new Queensryche album, Condition Human. Yes, that means I get new things from Geoff Tate and his old band within weeks of each other. It’s a good year to be an old-school prog-metal fan.
The rest of October is similarly great, with new efforts from Duncan Sheik, Coheed and Cambria, Maritime, Here We Go Magic, Young Galaxy, Sharon Jones, !!! and (at last!) Joanna Newsom, who will follow up her triple album Have One on Me with a single-disc affair called Divers. And sometime this fall, we’re going to get the fourth Mutemath album, Vitals, although I will admit to being much less excited for it now that I’ve heard the first single, “Monument.” Coming soon to a terrible car commercial near you.
But I refuse to be disheartened. Not with so much to look forward to. With any luck, you’ll get nothing but joy from me for the next few months. As the man once said, music is the best. I definitely still believe that.
Next week, Beach House and Foals and maybe a couple others. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook here.
See you in line Tuesday morning.