#TeamDamon
Weezer Keeps Delivering in a Post-Pinkerton World

We lost Hal Blaine this week.

Even if his name is unfamiliar, I guarantee you have heard Blaine’s work. As the drummer for the Wrecking Crew, a legendary group of Los Angeles-based session musicians, Blaine played on literally thousands of songs. He provided the backbeat on an astonishing 40 number one singles, including songs like “I Get Around” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Be My Baby” and “I Got You Babe” and “Mrs. Robinson” and “Monday, Monday” and “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” and on and on.

The songs, of course, are his legacy, as well as his ability to provide exactly what those songs needed. He’s not listed among the flashiest or most adored drummers of all time, but he was one of the first to make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and there’s a reason for that. A couple hundred reasons, in fact.

Blaine died Monday of natural causes at age 90. May he rest in peace.

* * * * *

I know most people buy music online these days, but if you happen to see Weezer’s new self-titled album on CD or vinyl in an actual record shop, you’ll see it’s adorned with a sticker. And that sticker is adorned with a pull quote: “They’re doing some cool things right now,” credited to Todd, Weezer Ride or Die.

Who is Todd, you ask? He’s Matt Damon’s character in this absolutely hysterical Saturday Night Live sketch about the implacable divide between Weezer fans. I have probably watched this sketch 30 times, and the last time (a few minutes ago) was just as enjoyable as the first. It’s also given me a new shorthand for my thoughts on the band: I’m Team Damon. Which is a pretty lonely team, most of the time, since almost everyone I know is Team Jones.

If you don’t have time to click on the link, let me explain. The sketch accurately depicts the central argument between fans of this band. One faction – the larger, louder faction – believes Rivers Cuomo and his merry men made two classic albums at the start of their career and have produced nothing but garbage since. The other faction will defend almost everything the band has done. In my case, I’m willing to go to bat for every record except Make Believe and the Red Album, and I like parts of both of those.

I used to stake out some middle ground in this debate, suggesting that Weezer’s first two records – the Blue Album and Pinkerton– are wildly overrated, while their later work is wildly underrated. I still agree with this, but as the post-Pinkerton catalog continues to grow, I find it harder to consider that a middle-ground statement. Blue and Pinkerton are now looked upon as life-changing masterpieces of perfection, when they are manifestly not that. They are very good pop albums that have been elevated to godlike status for some reason.

And they’re no better or worse than a lot of what the band has done since. Suggesting that only Blue andPinkerton should count dismisses a dozen albums – a dozen! – as lacking any value. I see the issue as one of mischaracterization. Weezer has always, always been just a pop band making catchy pop songs (often with cringe-worthy lyrics), and fans on Team Jones believe they used to be something more than that. Somehow they listened to “Undone” and “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So” and heard the voice of a generation.

When really, it’s always just been the voice of Rivers Cuomo, and he has always just done what he wants. No two Weezer albums are alike, save for the abundance of catchy choruses on each of them. Lately, though, Cuomo has truly buckled down and delivered a series of records that stand tall with his best work. I’m willing to say the hot streak started with 2009’s Raditude, a knowing, winking collection of teen-pop anthems, but as that one’s a bit controversial, I’ll play it safe and say the renaissance began with 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End.

If you haven’t heard that one, you’re missing a classic, full of strong power-pop hooks and beautifully written songs like “Cleopatra” and “The British are Coming.” Since then, Rivers has delivered some superb work, from the sun-dappled Brian Wilson-isms of the White Album to the perfect pop of Pacific Daydream. I listened again recently, and I think Pacific Daydream is the most underrated Weezer record – its grand pop sheen gussies up some of Cuomo’s most hummable tunes.

And honestly, that’s all I want from Weezer – catchy, hummable tunes. Cuomo is a master of them, and each time out he gives me just what I want. The band’s latest self-titled effort, colloquially called the Black Album, is no exception. It’s one of the oddest records the band has created, thanks largely to producer Dave Sitek of TV On the Radio and to Cuomo’s adventurous spirit. But even with all the bells and whistles, it’s an album full of catchy, hummable tunes.

Naturally, the Team Jones-ers hate it. They were primed to hate it when the band surprise-released the Teal Album a couple weeks before, writing aghast think-pieces about the sheer audacity of a once-beloved-by-them band turning out covers of old radio hits because their fans on Twitter asked them to. I mean, the nerve, right? (I kinda love the Teal Album, especially the band’s takes on “No Scrubs” and “Billie Jean.”) But the actual Black Album itself didn’t help matters, as it’s about as far away, stylistically speaking, from the first two records as this band has ever journeyed.

If you’re expecting darkness from something called the Black Album, you’re gonna be disappointed. Rivers swears here, for the first time on record, but that’s about as dark as things get. Instead, he’s turned out ten fun tunes, adorned with computer-enhanced beats and synth horns and all sorts of other pop accoutrements. Opener “Can’t Knock the Hustle” is probably the record’s most intricate production, a tale of life on social media set to a danceable beat, a vaguely Mariachi feel, and a refrain of “hasta luego, adios.” By the end, I can’t help singing along.

I have the same trouble with “Zombie Bastards,” which starts out sounding like something Sugar Ray might have turned out, but ends up an infectious singalong. One read of this song is that it’s a smack-back at Team Jones, people who only want to hear the first two records, when Rivers is more interested in uncharted waters. “We know what you want,” he sings, before turning introspective in the bridge: “If I die it means that I lived my life, and that’s much better than hiding in a hole…” He follows it up with a classic: “High as a Kite” is a McCartney-esque ballad about leaving the pressures of life behind, and I think it’s one of Cuomo’s best songs.

It’s also the last bit of real emotion on the record, which I’m sure will annoy people looking for the next Pinkerton. The next five songs are all fun slices of electro-tinged power pop, from the super-danceable “Living in L.A.” (with its obvious Police tribute on the line “I’m so lonely”) to the dumb-clever “Piece of Cake” to the killer “Too Many Thoughts in My Head,” on which Cuomo rhymes “Mary Poppins” with “Netflix options.” “I’m Just Being Honest” is a good tune hampered by its lyrics, which depict Cuomo dissing a young band’s demo before uttering the title phrase, and I’m not sure what he’s getting at with his tribute to the Purple One, “The Prince Who Wanted Everything.” But the latter song’s glam-rock riffs are convincingly crunchy.

The last two songs are surely destined to drive Team Jones nuts. “Byzantine” is a folksy wisp of a thing, co-written with Laura Jane Grace of Against Me, and its bongos-in-a-box beat and goofy melody find Cuomo jumping from Brian Wilson to Mike Love. (Repeat listens have elevated this one in my mind, I must say.) And closer “California Snow” is kind of… Drake, maybe? It’s the most hip-hop song here, Rivers half-rapping lines like “This is the definition of flow” before launching into (you guessed it) another super-catchy chorus. It’s the least convincing thing here, and I still like it.

The Black Album is weird, certainly, but Cuomo’s penchant for well-crafted, memorable tunes keeps all of his (and Sitek’s) experimentation grounded. His mission statement is the same as it’s always been: here are ten more songs you will get stuck in your head. That is all he’s trying to do, whatever form his songs take. Purists and Team Jones-ers will balk at the pop sounds here, and at Rivers’ attempts at sounding hard. (His “don’t step to me, bitch” on “Hustle” is just funny.) But those of us on Team Damon, who approach each new Weezer album with an open mind, will find a lot to like here. The Black Album is fun and catchy, and if that’s all you want from Weezer – and it should be – you’ll enjoy it.

* * * * *

Next week, the extraordinary Amanda Palmer. Also looking forward to writing about Foals, Jonathan Coulton and a few others. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

And Have You Changed Your Life?
Peter Mulvey's New Record Arrives at Just the Right Time

Mark Hollis died last Monday. I found out while at work, and was immediately stricken with the strange sadness I detailed last week. And when I arrived home, through sheer coincidence, I found Peter Mulvey’s gorgeous new album There Is Another World waiting for me.

I don’t want to suggest that Mulvey was influenced by Talk Talk, though I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he was. His work doesn’t immediately suggest it – Mulvey is a folk singer with a deep, sonorous voice and a strong command of the acoustic guitar. But there’s something about There Is Another World that just fits perfectly with my mood since I learned of Hollis’ death, something about this 33-minute suite that feels in line with the otherworldly sounds conjured up on Laughing Stock.

And it may just be that mood talking, but I think There Is Another World is one of Mulvey’s very best efforts. I’ve been a fan for a long time – since his then-label, Eastern Front, sent me Mulvey’s third album, Rapture, in the mail in 1996 – and I’ve been with him through the ups and downs (though mostly ups) of his discography. He came close to losing me with 2014’s slight Silver Ladder, but then he connected with fellow folkie Ani DiFranco, signed to her label and asked her to produce 2017’s Are You Listening. And the results were revelatory. Listening is a superb record from start to finish, a return to form (and an exploration of new forms) for this always-intriguing songwriter.

He’s kept it in the DiFranco family for the follow-up – it was produced by Ani’s longtime bassist, Todd Sickafoose, who basically takes Mulvey’s sparse acoustic sounds and adds interesting sonic atmospheres to them. He knows the basics of these songs are worth leaving alone, and that Mulvey’s performance will carry them. The songs on There Is Another World grew out of a hard winter, and the record has the feel of a snow-covered landscape, and a wind that makes you pull your coat tighter. It’s hard for me to call it dark, though, as there’s a lovely vein of hope that runs through all of it.

But it is a record of hardship and heartbreak, and though I cannot directly connect it to the horrors of the outside world, it feels the way I feel. “Who’s Gonna Love You Now” is one of the most hopeless songs in Mulvey’s catalog, leaving the title as an open question: “When there’s no way through, the only way is out, when it’s all over but the shouting and you’re too tired to shout, who’s gonna love you now?” Both “Fool’s Errand” and the amazing “To Your Joy” are about the pain of regret, and the brief “Nickel and Dime” puts a cap on that theme with these lyrics: “All those years I had in my pocket, I spent them, nickel and dime.”

But don’t despair, because Mulvey ends this suite with light peeking through. “All Saint’s Day” takes the Yeats line that gives the album its title (“There is another world, but it is in this one”) and uses it to beckon us outside, into the hard cold, to face the day. “The Cardinal” wraps all of the album’s themes of loss and regret and turns them around with one line: “You must change your life.” These five words feel like the record’s mission statement, pulling itself up and dusting itself off, and heading into the snow-covered distance.

It’s lovely, and the beautiful journey of the album is only enhanced by the production. Mulvey has called it the most striking soundscape his songs have ever had the privilege to receive, and he’s not wrong. There are violins, organs, accordions, prepared pianos, water glasses and clarinets here, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice how intricate the sound really is, since it is all in service to the songs, the voice and the guitar. The clarinet arrangements in particular make me think of Mark Hollis, but there’s a real sense of wonder and patience to the sonics on display here that feels right in line with Talk Talk’s influence.

Regardless of whether Hollis was on anyone’s mind when making There Is Another World, it was exactly the album I needed at exactly the right time. Even a week later, this suite of songs is still resonating, still taking me places. It’s yet another high point in a catalog full of them, and further proof that Peter Mulvey should be much more widely known. There Is Another World is a crisp chill wind of an album, perfect for this lingering winter, and I’m grateful it arrived when it did.

* * * * *

Of course, sometimes I want to shatter whatever mood I’m in, and this week two progressive metal albums helped me to do that. Both are new efforts from long-running bands that I have loved since high school, which certainly makes me feel old, but would probably make the band members feel older.

Luckily neither of these acts sound past their prime here, although Dream Theater comes closest. A new DT album used to be an event in my house, but since original drummer (and band visionary) Mike Portnoy left, their output has been a little lacking. New drummer Mike Mangini is very good, but he clearly doesn’t control the creative side the way Portnoy did, which leaves guitarist John Petrucci in the driver’s seat.

Last time out, Petrucci led the band through a 130-minute pastiche of Broadway musicals called The Astonishing. I was fascinated by it when it came out – I mean, who wouldn’t be – but it hasn’t held up. It’s the DT album I reach for the least. Clearly their attempt to shake things up didn’t go as planned, so now it’s time for the retrenching: Distance Over Time, the band’s 14th album, is a conscious return to prog-metal with big riffs and head-spinning instrumental prowess.

Which means that some of this sounds generic, particularly the first few tracks. “Untethered Angel” could be on any DT album, so obvious is its thudding riffery. But as Distance moves on, it gets more exploratory. “Barstool Warrior” and “S2N” are intriguing shifts in sound, while bonus track “Viper King” is nearly full-on blues-rock. No song here breaks 10 minutes, which is a rarity for DT, and the two more compact epics, “At Wit’s End” and “Pale Blue Dot,” earn their space. This isn’t an amazing, career-defining work for Dream Theater, but it’s much better than I expected, and hopefully bodes well for their future.

As long-running as Dream Theater is, Queensryche has run even longer. Two members of the band are originals from 1983, and with the introduction in 2013 of new singer Todd La Torre, the band has only felt more alive and more vital. The Verdict, their 15th album, is the strongest of this new-model Queensryche, and now that they’ve put all the ugliness with previous singer Geoff Tate behind them, they’re clearly ready to get on with the business of being a great metal band.

I remain gobsmacked by La Torre’s voice – it’s high and powerful, like Bruce Dickinson in his prime, and surprisingly supple for a guy who is my age. (He also played all the drums on this record, which, wow.) He just nails it on opener “Blood of the Levant,” about conflicts in the Middle East, and never lets up. The band is clearly inspired by his presence. “Man the Machine” is their sharpest single in years, “Dark Reverie” is the kind of crawling work the band used to be known for, and with “Bent,” “Inner Unrest” and “Launder the Conscience” they’ve turned in one of their best three-song stretches in ages.

My main complaint about The Verdict is the same one I’ve had since La Torre joined: without distinctive melodies these songs all kind of run together. But that’s long been a Queensryche problem, and this new incarnation knows enough to solve it with sheer heaviness. If all you remember Queensryche for is “Silent Lucidity,” the speed and power of this record will surprise you. Speaking as a longtime fan, I am enjoying the heavy direction Queensryche has chosen, and I hope they keep it going.

Speaking of keeping it going, I’ll be back next week with some thoughts on the new Weezer. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

Now That It’s Over Rest Your Head
Mark Hollis, 1955-2019

Ignore that date up there. It’s taken me almost a week longer than usual to get it together enough to write this one. Which means I’ve had almost a week to mull on the death of Mark Hollis.

I like to think Hollis would appreciate the disconnect between the dates, as if this column in his honor exists out of time. That’s the best description I have of his music: it feels out of time, so much so that listening to it, for me, makes the lightspeed whir of daily life just… stop. Like a still frame of the most beautiful, quiet vista you can imagine, waiting for unpause, patiently, unhurriedly. Hollis not only made beautiful music, he made music that all but forces you to breathe more slowly and appreciate how beautiful everything else is.

I honestly cannot remember the first time I heard Talk Talk. I knew enough about them to recognize Tim Friese-Greene, Hollis’ organ-playing partner in Talk Talk, when he showed up on Catherine Wheel’s amazing Chrome album in 1993. But I cannot point to a day or an hour when the impossible beauty of the band’s final two records, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, took hold of my life. They sort of creeped up in there and wrapped themselves around whatever part of my soul most deeply responds to beauty. Again, out of time.

All I can tell you is that they live there now, and have for many years. Talk Talk began life as a synth-pop band – you may know their biggest U.S. hit, “It’s My Life,” which No Doubt covered in 2003. The band’s moniker, chosen after the name of their first single, stuck even as the band changed dramatically, following Hollis on his particular (and particularly unmarketable) quest. I almost feel bad for EMI Records, who signed on for big-haired ‘80s anthems and, by the end, were confronted with Spirit of Eden, perhaps the least immediate major label album ever made.

The music itself, which I think I have to work up to talking about, is only one of the reasons I admire Hollis and count him among my heroes. It’s easier to talk about another of those reasons, the way he conducted his career. I’m not sure what switch flipped in Hollis’ head around 1985, but beginning with 1986’s terrific The Colour of Spring, Hollis deftly moved Talk Talk away from the radio-ready material he had been creating and toward magnificence. From this moment on, he would simply refuse to make the music others wanted him to make.

That’s not to say that the first two Talk Talk albums are without merit. They’re deeper and more interesting than most of what you would have found on the radio in 1982 and 1984. But they are still immediately recognizable as product-of-their-times pop, and with The Colour of Spring, Hollis began warping that music around him, turning it utterly unique. His voice, a powerful and booming thing, took on fewer and fewer big choruses, and the music began to incorporate more chamber and jazz influences. But they’re influences only: the trumpets and clarinets on “Happiness is Easy” are so outside the realm of what other pop musicians might use those instruments for.

On the strength of single “Life’s What You Make It,” Coloursold well, and Hollis took EMI’s money and hunkered down for a year to make 1988’s Spirit of Eden. One imagines it is exactly the album he wanted to make. One also imagines that EMI was utterly aghast when they heard it. Nine-minute opener “The Rainbow” begins with two minutes of formless atmosphere before Hollis’ ringing guitar cuts in, and even then, to say that this song “takes off” would be a lie. Spirit of Eden is one of the most patient records I have ever heard outside of pure ambient music, intently focused on the mood to the point where any change, no matter how slight, is monumental.

This one got Talk Talk kicked off of their label, and some artists might take that as a sign to change things up, to do again what worked before. Not Mark Hollis, who then made one of the most beautiful albums I have ever heard, 1991’s Laughing Stock. Everything that Eden was, this one is more. It is quieter, it is more patient, it is even less concerned with whether anyone but its creator likes it. Even Hollis’ distinctive voice is more whispered, more focused on furthering the spell than on calling attention to itself. It’s a masterpiece. I’ve been listening to it for more than 20 years, and it still cocoons me each time, transporting me to a different world, revealing new wonders.

OK, I guess I am talking about the music, and how it makes me feel. So let’s do that: Laughing Stock makes me feel like nothing else I have ever heard. I have every contour of this thing memorized, and it has taken all of the time I have put into it to bring me even to the meager understanding of it I have. All I can tell you is that when the driving syncopated guitar kicks in on “Ascension Day,” or when everything else but the pitter-patter drum beat drops out and the piano chords ring out like sunlight on “New Grass,” my heart moves. Almost literally, it feels like my heart moves.

I can trace the patterns from the last two Talk Talk albums to so many of the artists I love most, from Marillion to Elbow to Shearwater to anyone making slowly unfolding post-rock. Heck, The Choir’s song “Circle Slide” uses Talk Talk’s “The Rainbow” as a blueprint, to gorgeous effect. These albums aren’t talked about much, but I hear their influence everywhere. Nothing sounds quite like them, though, especially Laughing Stock. I am listening to it right now and I am finding it hard to write words. Any words.

Laughing Stock was the end of Talk Talk. Their proposed sixth album, once called Mountains on the Moon, morphed into Mark Hollis’ one self-titled solo album, issued in 1998. It is even quieter, even less present, than Talk Talk at its most reticent. I’ve heard it said that Hollis’ style was one of appreciating silence, of building songs in rooms too large for them and pointing out all the unused space. The music on Mark Hollis takes up almost no space in the largest room Hollis ever worked in. If you listen to all of his work back to back, he almost disappears before your ears.

Which brings me to one of the things I admired most about him: he did, in fact, disappear. Shortly after issuing his solo album, Hollis decided he was done with the music industry and simply faded from view for the next 20 years. I’ve seen this called a “mysterious absence,” but there’s nothing mysterious about it: Hollis has told us why. “I choose for my family,” he said. “Maybe others are capable of doing it, but I can’t go on tour and be a good dad at the same time.”

And he stuck to it. No reunion tours, no cash-grab anniversary shows, nothing. Man, is that admirable. He decided to stop, and he stopped. In doing so, he taught me that musicians don’t owe us anything. I would have loved another ten Hollis solo albums, but I love even more the idea that he lived his final years as the person he wanted to be. That, I think, is the lesson I learned from the life of Mark Hollis: be who you are, no matter what. I’m nowhere near as good at it as he was, but I’m trying.

Mark Hollis died on Monday, Feb. 25, at the too-young age of 64. He had been battling an illness for a short while, and never recovered from it. In very Mark Hollis fashion, his death couldn’t be confirmed for a full day. But news of his passing led to dozens of tributes from the musicians he inspired, and reading those has been heartwarming.

As for me, I’ve been listening to Talk Talk almost non-stop, and working through a complicated sadness. Here’s where I’ve landed: I am grateful. I’m grateful for the incredible, life-changing music Hollis gifted to us, and grateful that he ended his career on his own terms and lived out his life as he chose. Life’s what you make it, the wise man once said, and Mark Hollis lived those words.

Rest in peace.

Next week, something that doesn’t have anything to do with death, I hope. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

Songs of Grief and Comfort
With Love to Aurora, Illinois

As I’m sure you’ve all seen by now, there was a mass shooting in my hometown on Friday.

I say hometown even though I don’t live there, and I never lived there. But if a place is its people, Aurora, Illinois is the city I call home. Some of the best friends I have ever made live in Aurora, and I spent years learning about the city while covering it for the local newspaper. I’ve been involved in many community events and watched as the nascent arts scene there started blossoming.

It’s a great old city, and it’s hurting this week. On Friday afternoon, a man who had just been fired from his job at the Henry Pratt Company drew a gun and started firing. He killed five people and injured many more, several of them brave members of the Aurora Police Department, before being brought down. I followed the events on social media, knowing that I have friends who live near there, friends who work near there, friends whose kids go to school across the street from there, and friends who are first responders and could have been sent to the scene.

Everyone I know is safe, thank God. I have a lot of misgivings about social media, but I love that it allows for people to immediately let friends and family know they are unharmed. But the city is in pain. I’m writing this on Sunday, before attending a pair of prayer vigils, and I’m sure there will be tears and mourning for the five souls taken from us, and for their friends and family.

It’s important, I think, to put faces to a tragedy like this, so I’m going to name them: Russell Beyer, Vicente Juarez, Clayton Parks, Josh Pinkard and Trevor Wehner. The last one in the list, Trevor, was a 21-year-old student at Northern Illinois University starting the first day of his internship with Henry Pratt’s HR department. I’m sure he thought it was a great opportunity for him, and it should have been. It’s horrible.

I also think it’s important to note the fantastic response of the Aurora Police Department and the Aurora Fire Department, as well as all of those who offered mutual aid. These are people who ran toward the sound of gunfire, who put themselves in harm’s way to save others. It’s a job I certainly don’t have the fortitude to do, and I’m grateful that we have such brave men and women who do it.

As I said, my hometown is hurting, and I grieve for it. One of the only ways I know how to face grief and come through it stronger is through music. So given my heavy heart this week, I thought I would share some of the songs that I have often found comfort in. These are songs of loss and sadness and resilience, and if this isn’t what you need right now – if you instead need songs of anger or songs that wrap you in darkness – I understand completely. These might not be the songs that help everyone.

But they’re the ones that help me.

  1. “I Grieve,” by Peter Gabriel.

Start with the most straightforward. I have always found this to be a powerful piece, meant as a musical shoulder for those who have lost loved ones. It is, in form, exactly what it hopes to convey: sadness giving way to peace and, eventually, joy again. Life carries on and on again…

  1. “Estonia,” by Marillion.

This is my favorite song about grief. Inspired by the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia, which resulted in 852 lives lost, it is a gorgeous piece about moving to another place, and leaving people behind to remember you. No one leaves you when they live in your heart and mind.

  1. “Sweetness Follows,” by R.E.M.

I know many people will expect a different R.E.M. song here, but where “Everybody Hurts” has always seemed weightless to me, “Sweetness Follows” is a true journey of darkness and light. It’s about a seismic event tearing people apart, and the hard-won hope that things will get better. It’s these little things, they can pull you under, but sweetness follows.

  1. “The Light,” by Regina Spektor.

If you’re like me, you need your songs of hope to brighten corners you didn’t know could be brightened. The usual sentiments crash against brick walls for me, and I need something like this beautiful anthem to getting up and facing each morning. Everything about this song makes my heart lighter. Each day I open up my eyes and it begins.

  1. “Show the Way,” by David Wilcox.

Of all of these, this is the one I keep coming back to. It’s specifically about the hopelessness of tragedy, of the emptiness that follows sudden loss, and it’s a beautiful reminder that love is the way through. My friend Robert Berman introduced me to this song, and I’m eternally grateful. There is evil cast around us, but it’s love that wrote the play.

This isn’t exhaustive, of course – there are dozens, hundreds more, and I would be interested to hear the ones that comfort you. Sharing that comfort is one of the best things we can do in times like these, where healing will take time and patience and grace. I’m thankful for those who share such comfort with me. My thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims, and with my hometown. In this darkness love will show the way.

Next week, Copeland and Peter Mulvey. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

I Just Wanna Make All Things New
Quiet Company's Hardcore New EP

If this silly music column is known for anything, it’s for taking deep dives.

The usual tm3am entry focuses on one or two records of note, poring over each song in obsessive detail and using thousands of words in the process. I think this has been one of the problems lately with keeping this column on track – I have often psyched myself up about writing one of those more thorough examinations, to the point where I just can’t get started.

So we’re going to try to do a bunch of little ones this time and see how it goes. I know I’ve tried this before, but I’ve never really thought about it as a semi-permanent format change before. I’m not necessarily thinking of it that way now either, but trying this out is all part of making tm3am more enjoyable for me to write. If it feels like homework (as it sometimes did last year), then I should hang it up.

I also hope you’re enjoying these little peeks into my internal monologue. In the early days of tm3am I resisted the term “blog,” insisting I was writing a column instead, as if that’s inherently superior. This year’s posts have been more blog-like than just about anything else I’ve done under the Tuesday Morning name, so… yeah. Embrace it. Live it. Hashtag blog life.

* * * * *

Anyone who has read this thing for any length of time knows how much I love Austin’s Quiet Company. I’ve said before many times that frontman/mastermind Taylor Muse is one of the best and most consistent songwriters I’ve encountered in years and years, and he hasn’t let me down yet. There isn’t a bad QuietCo album. You literally cannot go wrong with them.

Lately, though, I will admit that they’re tougher for me to listen to. My favorite of Muse’s records, We Are All Where We Belong, is a complete journey from anguish to hope, rejecting fundamentalist faith in favor of love, and though parts of it are difficult, the resolution it offers is cleansing. I adore that album not just because it’s hard, but because all of that pain leads somewhere more beautiful.

No such resolution awaits in their more recent material. The songs are still amazing, but they make me worry about their author. None of their records has filled me with empathy like On Corners and Shapes, QuietCo’s new five-song EP. I’ve had this music for a couple years now – Muse sent it to me back when it was supposed to be his first solo effort – and even then, it made me pause. It also made me wish I knew Muse well enough to ask him if he’s OK.

On Corners and Shapes is harsh, vicious stuff. The fact that it’s two years old actually helps me listen to it now – it feels more retrospective, like looking back on a particularly rough time. These songs are the antithesis of the brightly colored romantic music on QuietCo’s early records, and they’re about the same person: almost all of these tunes deal with his then-fresh divorce.

Muse has never written with more self-loathing than he does on “Red Right Hand,” the scariest of these tunes. It opens with “I hope you don’t think I give a fuck,” and gets darker and darker. “The Alone, Together” is a dissection of his relationship, and it hurts: “She was a song in my memory that I forgot how to sing when I wrote it down, now its every lyric escapes me and I don’t think it’ll ever come back to me now…” “All Things New” is his plea for renewal, in which he describes himself as unworthy of pursuit: “Whatever you’re hoping to find, It’s a big fucking waste of your time….”

And Muse has never written a sadder song than “Aloha,” the EP’s finale. “Somewhere in our future we are coping with our past,” he sings, and given we’re looking back on these songs from two years’ distance, the line is even more fitting. “I am smarter than I am acting, I am stronger than I feel, but I will wonder what I was lacking, and how I let you down, until they lay me down…” You can’t see me, but I am making the knife-in-the-heart motion right now, just listening to it. This is the resolution, nothing but regret and sadness and an inability to say goodbye.

Amidst all this, I should say that these songs are incredible. They’re melodic monsters, all of them, among the very best Muse has written. “Aloha” especially is fantastic, its simple piano figure giving way to an orchestrated stunner that any songwriter would be proud to have written. The horns on “Red Right Hand” are swell, the chorus of “All Things New” is a massive winner. These songs are wonderful.

They are also grueling, painful crawls through the mud. Muse appears on the cover matted with dirt, his eye bruised and bloody, and his words match the image. I’ve never had a harder time loving music this good. But make no mistake, it is very, very good. I’m just invested in Muse’s happiness at this point, and I hope one day I get to hear him make songs full of joy again.

You can (and should) listen to and buy On Corners and Shapes here.

* * * * *

Well, that wasn’t short. Big fail. Let’s see if I can bring this one home with a couple quick bites.

Start with Swervedriver, a band I honestly never thought I’d get to write about in a new music column. They were right in the thick of it at the start of the shoegaze movement, and after four very good records, they folded up shop in 1999. But they burst back onto the scene in 2015 with the excellent I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, and now they have cemented their return with their new one, Future Ruins.

And it sounds like Swervedriver. It feels like literally no time has passed. This record is as fuzzed-out and dreamy as anything they’ve made, and Adam Franklin’s voice is exactly as you remember it. You may or may not have needed ten more Swervedriver songs in your life, especially ten more that sound exactly like the band’s heyday, but that’s what you’ll get here. I needed them. I can always use more of this sound in my life.

Sticking with the S theme, we have Switchfoot, a band who probably could have used a hiatus somewhere in the last decade. I’m very happy to report that Native Tongue, their eleventh album, is their strongest in more than ten years. There are certainly a couple over-produced Imagine Dragons-esque numbers, but the majority of this record is raw, well-composed rock, like the opener “Let It Happen.” The highlight for me is the Abbey Road-esque “Dig New Streams,” but the whole thing sounds revitalized to me.

Speaking of revitalized, there is Bob Mould, who is an astonishing 58 years old. You would never know it from even a cursory listen to his snarling 12th solo album, Sunshine Rock, which came out last week. This thing is a monster, Mould ripping through one thick, fast riff after another, slowing down only near the end for a couple wistful numbers. This is 36 minutes of focused, roaring rock from a master of the form. There’s a song here called “The Final Years,” but Mould sounds nowhere near his own final years here.

Also out this week is the debut from All Hail the Silence, and I may write more about this one at some point, since I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. AHTS is BT’s ‘80s project with singer Christian Burns, and their first full-length, Daggers, is 86 minutes of synth-driven goodness. I was initially surprised at how little of BT’s complex stutter-production personality ended up on here, but he’s committed to the form: this is Depeche Mode meets Yazoo, but on an epic scale. The first disc is good, but the second is fantastic, particularly “English Town.” I’ve been waiting for this for ages – I think I first heard “Looking Glass,” still an album highlight, four years ago – and it didn’t disappoint.

I’m gonna call it a week right there. Next week, we have new ones from Copeland and Peter Mulvey, and I will again try my very best not to write so many words. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

Finger on the Button
David Mead Makes a Fine, Fun Comeback with Cobra Pumps

I don’t want to write too much about Weezer this week.

One reason is that I do plan to spout off at length when the Black Album hits in a couple weeks. But another is that I am pretty sure that writers like me think about Weezer far more than the members of Weezer do. I’m the right age to be jaded about them – the Blue Album came out when I was a sophomore in college, and Pinkerton hit me just as I was taking those first steps into adulthood. I should idolize them both, and I should be one of those people decrying everything they’ve done since.

But I’m not, and in fact I find all the hand-wringing about Weezer’s post-Pinkerton output to be a little silly. (Not as silly as, like, “Heart Songs” or anything, but still.) A few of my friends gleefully pointed me to this little ditty from Pitchfork, titled “Will Weezer Ever Stop Being Disappointing?” And I mean, I guess they won’t, if what you want from them is anything more than the whimsical pop band they have always been.

The occasion of Pitchfork’s distress is the surprise release of the band’s fifth self-titled album, mere weeks before the scheduled release of its sixth. If you don’t pay attention to All Things Weezer, the content of the Teal Album (for that is what people are calling it) might surprise you. The story goes like this: some industrious fans on Twitter launched a campaign last year to get Weezer to cover Toto’s “Africa,” for reasons known only to them. After some period of cajoling, and one fake-out cover of “Rosanna,” the band relented, issuing its note-for-note rendition of what I think is one of the best songs of the ‘80s.

Apparently, people responded positively – the “Africa” cover (and its video, starring “Weird Al” Yankovic) was the talk of the internet for a few weeks. So in a classic case of giving the people what they want, we now have the Teal Album, a collection of ten covers, most of them aping the originals almost exactly. Nothing about this is meant to be taken seriously – the four Weezer boys are on the cover, like they have been for every self-titled album, but this time they’re dressed in neon Miami Vice attire. This is strictly meant in fun.

So why are people taking it so seriously? This is a record on which Rivers Cuomo pulls out his best and most ridiculous Ozzy Osbourne impression on a slam-through of “Paranoid,” and sings “No Scrubs” perfectly straight. It’s a laugh. So why has the reaction been so over the top? People are acting like this is the Death of Art, when expecting any kind of consistent artistic vision from Weezer seems like a fool’s game. They’re fun. Rivers writes catchy songs. Sometimes he sings about his own life. Sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he covers “Mr. Blue Sky.”

I dunno, man. I enjoyed the Teal Album for what it is. I have no idea if I will listen to it next week, let alone next year, but it made me happy for a couple spins. That was literally all it was designed to do. I hesitate to even say the Black Album will be the “real” Weezer album, because it will probably be poppy and fun too, and the arbiters of taste will hate it just as much as the Teal Album, and write just as many think pieces about the decline and fall of the voice of a generation or something.

Anyway. I don’t want to write too much about Weezer this week, for the reasons above, but mainly because I have another incredibly fun record to review, from a much less well-known artist, and I’d rather write about that.

I’ve been a David Mead fan for (checks notes, rubs eyes, confirms figure, shakes head) 15 years now. I first heard him thanks to my good friend Dr. Tony Shore, who recommended I buy Mead’s EP Wherever You Are. And I loved it, particularly “Astronaut,” and immediately sought out his previous three albums. And I loved those, especially the stripped-down and warm Indiana. And I bought his next three – the chamber-pop masterpiece Tangerine, the gentle Almost and Always, and the raucous Dudes– as they came out, and I loved those as well.

So when David asked for my money for a new one called Cobra Pumps, and unveiled a hilarious cover photo of his own legs wearing the titular pumps, I was absolutely in. And I was not disappointed in the slightest.

What’s so great about David Mead? Start with his voice, which is a high, strong, beautiful thing. He’s able to sing anything well, from the more glossy pop of his earlier records to the folksy delights (and the extraordinary Michael Jackson cover) of Indiana to the full-on guitar stomp of something like the great “King of the Crosswords” on Dudes. But a great voice is just a great voice without something to sing, and Mead is also a tremendous songwriter. He’s versatile, he’s funny, he’s poignant, he has an innate grasp of melody, and virtually everything he writes is a knockout.

His streak remains unbroken on Cobra Pumps, a 34-minute collection of self-aware cool guitar-rock gems you’ll be singing until the weather matches the album’s mood. From the first moment, Mead is in control – “Bedtime Story” is just awesome, an opening salvo full of innuendo. It is, in Mead’s words, “invigorating and kind of embarrassing,” embracing lines like “I’ve got a heart like a propane oven, I’ve got a mind like a sewer grate.”

It’s a strong tone-setter, and Mead works to stay in that mode, giving us the terrific feminist anthem “The Business,” the Prince-like anti-come-on “Head on Straight” and the rollicking family tune “She Walks Like a Grown Woman” one after another. All of these songs have big electric guitar lines and skipping drums and massive melodies, and Mead doesn’t let up. Even when he cools things down, as on the slinky song of reassurance “Poster Child,” you know there’s a song like “Big Balls” coming right up.

Yes, there’s a song called “Big Balls,” and it’s pretty much delightful. There are certainly more clever ways to describe someone “catching bullets and walking through walls” with sheer determination, but this is an album on which Mead went for broke, so why not? The song’s just killer, with a minimal, insistent bass line and a ringing chorus that won’t quit. It begins a stretch of three shimmying tunes that ends with the smooth “You Never Have to Play That Game,” another song about picking yourself up and moving on.

I’m tempted to read that as a theme here. This is a record of struts, of feeling one’s own power, and after eight years away, it reads as a way of kicking down the door and shouting through a megaphone. Mead is a fully independent artist, recording and releasing on his own schedule and his own budget, and a bold record like this one hopefully will get him noticed. Mead says he has two more albums in the pipeline, and given his track record for diversity, I doubt they’ll sound like Cobra Pumps.

But I’m glad this one sounds like Cobra Pumps, because it’s awesome. This record takes the swagger of Dudes and (ahem) pumps it up, putting the guitars and melodies front and center, announcing itself with every riff and groove. Mead has never made an album like it, and it’s thrilling to listen to him tear his way through it. If this truly is just the start of his comeback, sign me up. I am here for it.

You, too, can check out Cobra Pumps at David Mead’s website.

Next week, certainly the new Quiet Company EP and probably some of the things I’ve missed over the past couple weeks. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

Miracles Out of Nowhere
Over the Rhine Delivers the Year's First Glorious Surprise

I’ve written a lot already this year about how I only plan to review the things that bring me joy. I’ve had a few comments from people that I seem to be Marie Kondo-ing tm3am, and I swear to God I had never heard of Kondo before those comments. Now I have, and her approach seems to be exactly what I’m aiming for: tossing out all the things that don’t bring me happiness. Or at least not writing about the records I don’t care as much about.

This week is a good case in point. I was all set to follow up last week’s reviews with thoughts on new ones from James Blake and Sharon Van Etten. And then I started to dread sitting down to write this week’s missive, and I finally figured out why: I don’t have anything to say about the new ones from James Blake and Sharon Van Etten. Blake’s album is boring, trading in his former transcendence for radio-ready pop music, and Van Etten’s album is good, but not in a way that makes me excited to write about it. It would just be variations of “her voice is strong” and “her melodies are usually interesting” with some additional praise for “No One’s Easy to Love,” my favorite thing on the record.

Does that sound exciting to read to you? Or would you lose interest by the third paragraph? I know I wouldn’t be able to summon up a lot of energy to enthrall you. Fair play to you if you like those records, but I know I would rather wax ecstatic about something I truly love.

Thankfully, something I truly love found its way to my inbox this week, and I’ve been listening to it whenever I have the chance. About two years ago I paid up front for three new albums from Over the Rhine, and the first of them, called Love and Revelation, was sent to backers this week. It’s not officially out until March, and I have to admit I still get a thrill from listening to music before its release date, even if the band sends it to me and dozens of others at the same time.

Ordinarily, of course, I would wait until that release date to write about a record like this, one that I sincerely hope everyone reading this will check out. But you can pre-order the album now, and I hope by the time I am done jabbering about it, you will. I’ve been an Over the Rhine fan for 15 years now, having jumped aboard with their extraordinary double album Ohio, and I’ve seen them live half a dozen times. They retain their power to move me like few other artists can, and they do it again on this new album.

Over the Rhine is a husband-and-wife duo. The husband, Linford Detweiler, is the piano player, and he sings occasionally, his rough, low tones adding a touch of earth to the angelic tones of his wife, Karin Bergquist. Karin is, without a doubt, one of my four or five favorite singers alive. Patsy Cline is the closest approximate, but Bergquist is her own thing, her voice containing such depth of feeling and history, drawing from tradition while singing from an overflowing heart. I can’t do it justice in words, but her voice stirs something inside of me, something that only stirs at the most powerful of musical expressions.

On Love and Revelation, she uses that voice to sing about the hardship of life, about the pain of leaving good things behind, about the healing balm of music and about the all-reaching love of God. This is one of those albums that sounds stripped-back (and at times it is), but when you really listen you can hear so many elements working in concert, creating an atmosphere of quiet beauty. There are strings all over this record, but they’re so subtle that you may not notice them right away. Everything here, from the tender acoustic guitars to the generous peals of pedal steel to the always perfectly restrained drumming of Jay Bellerose, is in service to these songs, and to Karin Bergquist’s glorious voice.

There’s a lot here that could be called traditional folk music, from the sad opener “Los Lunas” to the sweeping “Broken Angels,” and once again Over the Rhine has created an album of songs that could be brand new or could be a hundred years old. Along the way, they’ve written some of my favorite things in their catalog. The melancholy “Given Road” cracks me open, the strings dancing slowly with Greg Liesz’s wonderful, weeping pedal steel. “I miss what I’m forgetting, I try not to but I’m letting go of any shred of anything that held you here,” Bergquist sings before launching into a wordless refrain that sends shivers.

“Let You Down” is a song of devotion, and the band’s slide guitarist, Brad Meinerding, sings lead with Bergquist complementing his high tenor perfectly. It’s a gorgeous string-accented weeper. And Detweiler joins his wife on lead vocals on the lovely “Betting on the Muse,” a song about their musical relationship – for years, Detweiler kept silent and in the background, and I wish he’d started singing with the band earlier. It’s just Bergquist, a guitar and a drum set on the shuffling title track, but it’s marvelous, a call for more understanding and more love in the face of a populace armed to the teeth.

But they save my favorite for the end. “May God Love You (Like You’ve Never Been Loved)” is, bar none, one of the prettiest songs this band has ever given us. It’s about our need for wholeness, our deep desire for something greater than ourselves to pull us through. “There are no wise men traveling, there is no gift to bring, but if you welcome home a child you’ve thrown your hat into the ring, we’re not curable but we’re treatable and that’s why I still sing, may God love you like you’ve never been loved…” It’s a song that dives to the lowest depths this album plumbs and then looks up, crying out, certain of the direction from which grace will come.

I will never, ever tire of songs that that one, or albums like this one. Bergquist and Detwiler pack so much feeling, so much agony and hope, into the 41 minutes of Love and Revelation that it’s a wonder that it sounds so effortless. This is the 14th Over the Rhine album, and by now they have their sound down to a science. But it’s still the most deeply emotional stuff, and it still draws me into another place, and I’m still incredibly grateful for it. In a couple months, when you get to hear this album too, I hope it will do for you what it does for me.

* * * * *

I was going to write a bit about Weezer this week, but I think I’ll save it, since there isn’t much of interest heading our way next Friday. I’ll just say that the Teal Album came out of nowhere and made me happy, and I can only hope the coming seven days hold more surprises like this one. Until then, be good to each other.

Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

A Good Start
2019 Kicks Off With a Winning Week

I said last week that I would only write about new music if I truly enjoyed it. I am happy to report that I have thoroughly enjoyed 2019 so far.

We’ve just had the first major new music Friday of the year, and it was an extraordinary one. I bought eleven new albums, and I’m still sifting through them, listening whenever I have time. Still on my docket are new ones from Sharon Van Etten, Juliana Hatfield and James Blake. I am right now actually enjoying Guster’s Look Alive. It’s the album they have been moving toward for more than a decade now, and while it is nothing like the music I most love from them, it’s the first one since their directional shift to move me in any way. So that’s good.

Prioritizing is a difficult thing for me, and when I get a slew of new music like this, I often don’t know what to listen to first. I usually let my gut guide me on that one, figuring out on the fly which records I am most interested in. This time I chose two from long-running artists that have meant a lot to me. Even so, I’m not sure I was ready for how much Pedro the Lion’s Phoenix affected me. I’ve heard it four times now, and each time I’m drawn in, hearing new emotional layers.

Pedro the Lion is the full-band project of David Bazan, a songwriter I have adored for many years. Bazan was one of the first artists I followed through spiritual deconstruction – his early Pedro material is drenched in his faith, but as he started asking questions, he found the bottom of that faith falling out from beneath him. He detailed this struggle in raw, searing terms on his first solo album, the amazing Curse Your Branches, and has kept on detailing it through a series of increasingly insular records. His songs and his voice have remained magnificent, but his electronic sound has sealed him in.

Which is one reason it’s so exhilarating to hear him reignite Pedro with new players Sean Lane and Erik Walters. Bazan plays bass in this new incarnation, with Walters providing most of the bright, gorgeous guitar tones on Phoenix. This is a collaborative project, his new players pulling the life and soul out of these new songs. They simply explode from the speakers in a way Bazan’s work hasn’t for some time. (I’m not forgetting about Lo Tom, his delightful side project with Jason Martin and TW Walsh, and I hope we get more of that someday too.)

Phoenix is the perfect title for an album that resurrects a project many had written off for dead – this is the first album under that name in 15 years – and I’m sure Bazan intended the name in that sense, but the more grounded explanation is that these songs draw heavily on Bazan’s childhood in Phoenix for inspiration. The record opens with “Yellow Bike,” a paean to childhood that contains a lifetime of ache in one succinct line: “My kingdom for someone to ride with.”

“Model Homes” uses a family trip to see houses they could not afford as a metaphor for Bazan’s eternal hope for something better. “Circle K” turns a childhood story of spending all of his savings on nothing of value into a dark lament. “Quietest Friend” tells a tale of a 30-year-old regret, and gets fantastically meta by the end: “We could write me some reminders, I’d memorize them, I could sing them to myself and whoever’s listening, I could put them on a record about my hometown, sitting here with pen and paper, I’m listening now…” The amazing “My Phoenix” finds the adult Bazan returning to his home town to take stock. It’s one of the best songs Bazan has ever written.

Song by song, these are wonderful little things, but together they have a cumulative effect I didn’t expect. Phoenix as an album is about trying to recapture something that seems ephemeral. Bazan really did make a deeply personal trip back to Phoenix during what he acknowledges as his lowest point in 2016, and these songs find him searching his past for something lost. I will admit that when closer “Leaving the Valley” ends with a reconsideration of a verse from “Hard to Be,” off of Curse Your Branches, I usually tear up: “If I swung my tassel to the left side of my cap, after graduation will there be no going back?”

It’s not that I don’t expect a thoughtful songwriter like Bazan to put his previous conclusions through new prisms. It’s just that Phoenixis such an emotional journey, and its ending the perfect arrival point. It’s hard for me to say whether this is my favorite Pedro the Lion album, because there is so much competition. But it’s my favorite right now, and each time I listen I hold it closer.

* * * * *

I don’t have a favorite Joe Jackson album, but that’s simply because his work has been all over the map since day one. Look Sharp is probably my favorite snarky new-wave Joe Jackson album, while Night and Day is probably my favorite guitar-free keyboard panorama Joe Jackson album and Rain is my favorite piano trio Joe Jackson album and Night Music is my favorite chamber-pop Joe Jackson album, and on and on. He has no signature sound, and his disparate catalog is only bound together by his voice and his famously grouchy lyrics.

Because make no mistake, Joe Jackson has been a grumpy old man since he was an infant, and that carries through on his splendid 20th album, Fool. This record comes four years after Fast Forward, a meticulous and varied piece of work recorded in four cities with four different bands. Fool, created quickly with the Fast Forward touring band, is a tighter and more consistent record – these eight songs clearly belong together, and all sound of a piece.

They also sound like a live band finding a groove and locking in. Longtime bassist Graham Maby anchors this ensemble – he’s one of the most underrated players around, having spent the last four decades providing the backbone of every Jackson record. Guitarist Teddy Kumpel and drummer Doug Yeowell round things out, with Joe on the piano as always. The sound is rich and alive, and the songs match it. Lead single “Fabulously Absolute” is one of Joe’s most convincing rock rave-ups in years, the title track is a wild journey through half a dozen styles, and “Strange Land” is one of my favorite late-career Joe Jackson ballads.

That one works as a mission statement, lyrically speaking, as well as any of them. Jackson spends much of Fool the way he’s spent wide swaths of his career: looking around at the world in bewilderment, and occasionally in disgust. “Is this a strange land, or am I the stranger,” he asks, feeling isolated by a humanity he doesn’t recognize. “Big Black Cloud” is a spiritual sequel to Night and Day’s “Cancer,” hitting back at a world in which everything will kill you. (He even includes a reference to 9/11, to drive the point home.) “Fabulously Absolute” is an angry song about how we box people into their worst characteristics and judge them for it, delivered with Joe’s trademark lack of subtlety: “I’m just somebody to ignore, someone who doesn’t know the score, or maybe blinded by the light, ‘cause I’m a filthy troglodyte…”

Given all that, it’s a wonder that Fool ends on such a positive note. I really love the second half of this album, particularly the what-the-hell title track (which, as the liner notes suggest, “may contain traces of Twelfth Night and King Lear) and the gorgeous “32 Kisses,” a song of regret and gratitude. The album concludes with the pretty, lounge-y “Alchemy,” in which Joe points to a bewildering world with a newfound sense of wonder. Jackson is 64 years old now, and you never know whether you’re hearing an artist’s final work, so the fact that this one ends on such a high fills me with joy.

I’m not sure Joe Jackson has ever wanted to fill me with joy, but there it is. Aside from that ill-advised Duke Ellington tribute-slash-mess from a few years ago, Joe Jackson has been on a serious roll for nearly two decades now, and Fool continues the streak. Jackson’s never quite gotten his due as a songwriter and a player, existing in the margins for much of his career, but the bright side there is that he’s been able to do exactly what he wants, as often as he wants. Despite what I said above, I hope he has another 20 albums in him, and I hope they’re all as good as Fool.

OK, next week, more from this week’s bounty. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

19 Reasons to Love 2019
Why This Will Be the Best Year Ever

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Hello! I’m back, here with another year of this silly music column. I must, on some level, enjoy writing it, since I keep refusing to take that end-of-the-year opportunity to just stop. I don’t know how long I’m going to keep tm3am going, but at least I can say that 2018 is not going to be its last year. I have a couple long-term goals, like seeing this column through to its 20th anniversary on Nov. 29, 2020 and outlasting Paul Dailing by writing at least 1,002 of these things, so onward we go.

I’m making that sound a lot more mercenary and defeatist than I feel. In truth I’ve found the weekly deadline a difficult thing to meet over the past couple years, and have often sat down to write tm3am and found I have no energy for it. Part of it has been the frankly exhausting world we live in now, with each week bringing new things to be outraged or conflicted about. Part of it was the paltry musical offerings of last year, which brought us only one great album (and a bunch of good ones, to be fair).

But part of it is my need to recapture the reason I wanted to write this column in the first place. It’s meant to be a chronicle of the joy of being an obsessive music fan, and I need it to be more about the joyous part. So this year I may not simply write about whatever is out in record stores in a given week. Often these aren’t the records bringing me joy, and I’d like this column to reflect what I am actually enjoying listening to.

That’s not to say I won’t be focusing on new music when it moves me. In fact, most of the below reasons to love 2019 are confirmed new releases, and the others are new release rumors I am jazzed about. New music is in my blood, and this year already looks like it’s going to be better than the last. (“And it’s one more day up in the canyons…”) What follows is in no way comprehensive – there are new things coming from Solange and the Raconteurs and others that didn’t make the list, but that I am aware of. These are just the ones I’m most excited about.

Without further ado, here are 19 reasons to love 2019:

  1. Pedro the Lion, Phoenix (Jan. 18)

We’ll start with one I’ve heard already, thanks to NPR’s First Listen feature. David Bazan has convened his band for the first time in 15 years to chronicle tales of his childhood in Phoenix, Arizona, and the result is gorgeous. I’ll likely have more to say about this next week, but for now I’ll just say that there’s a huge difference between Bazan on his own and Bazan with the band, and this album exemplifies it. It’s a lovely thing.

  1. Joe Jackson, Fool (Jan. 18)

Yet another of this week’s new records. (It’s a good week – Alice Merton, Sharon Van Etten, Juliana Hatfield and Guster are all returning, as is the next artist on this list.) Joe Jackson has been on a serious upswing lately – he continues to be an acerbic lyricist and a swell melodicist, having grown into his grumpy old man persona nicely, and what I’ve heard of Fool continues the streak.

  1. James Blake, Assume Form (Jan. 18)

The last one I’ll mention from this week. Blake’s fourth album was just announced a few days ago, and already I’m excited. There’s no one like him, and even if he just continues doing what he’s always done – minimal electronic soundscapes buoyed by his ethereal, elastic voice – Assume Form will be worth hearing. I’m hopeful that he will branch out a little, and guest spots from Moses Sumney and Andre 3000 bode well.

  1. Swervedriver, Future Ruins (Jan. 25)

I remain thankful and amazed by the shoegaze revival that continues apace. Sure, we’re still waiting for another My Bloody Valentine record, but new albums from stalwarts like Slowdive and Lush, along with new bands like Teenage Wrist, have kept the dream alive. Swervedriver’s reunion album, 2015’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, was fantastic, and they’re cementing that reunion with a new set of songs next week.

  1. David Mead, Cobra Pumps (Jan. 29)

The last January album I will mention is also the one I am most excited for. David Mead is a songwriter’s songwriter and an incredible singer, and he’s never quite gotten his due. His last album, 2011’s Dudes, was full of snarky pop wonderment, and Cobra Pumps looks to be the same. It’s been too long since we last heard Mead’s dulcet tones, and I’m ready.

  1. All Hail the Silence, Daggers (Feb. 8)

Technically this is another January record, as it will be available to pre-orderers on Jan. 25, but it will be in stores two weeks later. This is the long-awaited double-disc debut album from BT’s ‘80s pop collaboration with singer Christian Burns, and everything I’ve heard from this has thrilled me. AHTS’ songs have a Depeche Mode meets Yazoo feel to them, and Burns is a terrific singer for this style. Very excited.

  1. Copeland, Blushing (Feb. 15)

Five years ago, Aaron Marsh and his band put out Ixora, a beautiful experiment in lush songwriting and production. Ixora was actually three albums (Ixora, its companion Twin, and the third album that appeared when you played both together in sync), and it brought Copeland into this new realm of studio wizardry and complex arrangements.Blushing is all on one disc, but from the three singles it sounds like another step into mind-bending territory for this band.

  1. Peter Mulvey, There Is Another World (Feb. 15)

I’ve been a Peter Mulvey fan since the ‘90s, and even I was blown away by Are You Listening, his first record for Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. There Is Another World evidently came quickly, and is a reaction to the state of the country and the world. If anyone can find the dark poetry at the heart of our current malaise, it’s Peter Mulvey, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing what he has come up with.

  1. Amanda Palmer, There Will Be No Intermission (March 8)

My guess is that no one else will craft a reaction to the world quite as powerful as Amanda Palmer has on There Will Be No Intermission. This is reportedly a 78-minute monster, full of painful stories and difficult topics and righteous anger. Palmer has been charting her own course through Patreon for years now, and this is her first album created with no limitations, with every element in her control. I can’t say I expect to enjoy it, but I do expect to be moved and challenged by it. And that’s what art is for.

  1. Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells (March 29)

Technically, Esperanza’s seventh album is out already – it was released song by song last year on YouTube and streaming services. But I’m old-fashioned, so I’m holding out for the CD, which will actually contain 16 little spells. Esperanza Spalding is one of the few artists out there now who deserves to be called a genius, and I’m so in for anything she does. Evidently this will be her last project in the album format, and I’m interested to see where she goes next.

  1. Three new albums from Ryan Adams (first one April 19, other release dates TBD)

The last time Ryan Adams released three albums in one year, it was 2005 and the results were pretty fantastic. (Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights and 29.) He’s promised to do the same in 2019, and the first of those three, Big Colors, is set for April 19. The second will be called Wednesdays, and that’s all we know right now. Adams hasn’t been on quite the same hot streak lately that he was in 2005, but he’s still one of the best, and these should all be worth hearing.

  1. Jonathan Coulton, Some Guys (April)

Internet superstar Jonathan Coulton made one of the best albums of 2017 with Solid State. He’s following it up with a bizarre project: an album of note-for-note covers of sensitive soft-rock hits of the ‘70s. You know the type – “Baker Street” and “How Deep is Your Love” and “On and On” and “Easy.” I just happen to love all of those songs. Coulton launched a stunningly successful Kickstarter for this record, and is pitching it as a blow against the patriarchy. But even if you just think of it as a bunch of lovely songs, this’ll be worth it.

  1. Devin Townsend, Empath

Now we’re into the albums I know are coming, but have no set release date. Devin Townsend remains one of the most idiosyncratic and remarkable musicians working, and over the past couple years he’s taken some victory laps, playing old albums live and putting his long-running Devin Townsend Project to bed. Empath is the first of four (I think) records he’s working on, and the opening salvo of his new direction. I’ll follow him anywhere, so I’m psyched, of course.

  1. Derek Webb, Targets

Derek Webb made the best album of 2017 with Fingers Crossed, a stark and devastating chronicle of his twin divorces from his wife and from God. He’s promised a return to the pop-rock he does so well on Targets, and I’m sure we will get more of his honest perspective on what it means to leave the life you thought you knew behind. Webb is self-releasing this album, and we’re not sure when, but I will be first in line to buy one.

  1. A new Sleater-Kinney album produced by St. Vincent

I don’t know that I need to say anything else here, right? There’s a new Sleater-Kinney album coming, and the band has been working with St. Vincent in the producer’s chair. If that sentence does nothing for you, I don’t know what to say.

  1. Fish, Weltschmertz

Thirty years after leaving Marillion to launch his solo career, Scottish singer Fish will close it out with what he has announced will be a double album. Fish’s solo work has been spotty, but not lately – his last four albums have been wonderful, and the three songs he’s released from this final one are even better. Expect long, proggy poems and some dark observations from a man who has seen it all. I’m looking forward to the record, but not to bidding Fish farewell as a recording artist. Should be a bittersweet listen.

  1. New Celldweller, Circle of Dust and Scandroid albums

The mad professor known as Klayton has so many musical personas that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with them all. This year will definitely see a new one from his synthwave project Scandroid, called The Darkness and the Light, but we should also hear new things from his industrial metal band Circle of Dust and his genre-defying Celldweller identity. Keeping up with Klayton is hard, but very worth it.

  1. A new Tool album

I know, it feels like a pipe dream, but the rumblings are louder than ever that we might get Tool’s first record in 13 years sometime in 2019. We’re going on 30 years of this band’s existence and this will be only their fifth album. I do imagine that their complex metal sculptures take time to build, but I also hope that whatever new record they come up with won’t crumple under the weight of expectations. (See Maynard James Keenan’s other band, A Perfect Circle, for exhibit A.)

  1. Something from The Dear Hunter

And finally, an entry for which I have no evidence whatsoever, except that I really want something new from Casey Crescenzo and company. Their Acts sequence remains one of the finest musical achievements of the past 15 years, and while I’m sure we won’t get the climactic Act VI anytime soon, I’m here for anything Crescenzo wants to give us. And hey, if he wants to surprise us with Act VI, I won’t complain.

As I said, this list is in no way comprehensive. But it does represent my hope for a really strong year of music, and I’ll be here chronicling my experience navigating through it. Thanks to everyone who reads this little endeavor of mine. Year Nineteen, here we go.

Next week, Pedro and Jackson and maybe some others. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning.

Fifty Second Week
And Farewell to 2018

This is Fifty Second Week.

It’s also Christmas Day. I hope you’re all having a wonderful time with family and friends, and enjoying some Christmas music. I can’t predict the future (I’m writing this a week in advance), but I’m pretty sure I’m doing the same thing right now. Perhaps in an ugly sweater. I’m on my annual vacation to the east coast, and hopefully loving every minute of it.

But I couldn’t leave you without any tm3am goodness for the entire holiday season. This is my last column of 2018, and it’s my traditional Fifty Second Week. If you’re new to this silly music column, let me tell you how this goes. I buy a lot of music during the year, and I try to hear all of it, but I’m never quite successful at that. I get to review only a small subset of the albums I hear, too. The result of all this is that, by the time I get to December, I’ve built up a backlog of unreviewed records.

So Fifty Second Week is my attempt each year to get to as many of those records as I can. I have 52 CDs in front of me, and one of those nifty online timers on my phone. I’m giving myself 50 seconds to review each of these albums. That’s all I get – if I’m in the middle of a sentence when the timers go off, it’s pencils up. Exciting, I know! This could wind up as completely unreadable gibberish!

Anyway, I hope this is as much fun for you to read as it is for me to write. Let’s get going. This is Fifty Second Week.

Aphex Twin, Collapse EP.

Every once in a while Richard James likes to remind us that he’s alive and still one of the most brilliant electronic producers on earth. This is a quick EP with titles like “MT1 t29r2,” and it’s glitchy and complex and fascinating.

Arthur Buck.

As the name implies, this is a duo project between Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck of R.E.M. It ends up sounding more like Arthur than Buck, but the songs are decent, and I hope they stick together and make another one.

Autechre, NTS Sessions.

Fifty seconds to review eight hours of music? Can’t be done. This is an intense electronic journey on a staggering eight CDs, full of noise and trippy beats and an hour-long ambient piece to close things out. It’s immense and really excellent stuff.

Beach House, 7.

I’m not sure why I didn’t review this. I’ve opined on almost all of the previous Beach House records, and it might be that I’ve said everything I have to say about them. This is more sleepy shoegaze with the occasional striking melody, and it’s good, but nothing different from what they’ve given us before.

Ben Folds Five, The Complete Sessions at West 54th.

Not a new record, but a release (finally) of a legendary Ben Folds Five live outing around the time of Whatever and Ever Amen. The Five were a tremendous live outfit, and this record finds them slamming through early, punky songs with lots of energy.

Blood Orange, Negro Swan.

I really wanted to like this. Dev Hynes is a great musician, but Negro Swan just kind of wanders around looking for a hook for most of its running time. It reminds me of Frank Ocean, and I’ve never been a fan of his work. Hopefully the next record will have more focus, because Hynes is too good for this thing.

Charles Bradley, Black Velvet.

Soul singer Charles Bradley died earlier this year, far too soon. He was discovered late in life, and we only got a few albums with his thick, powerful voice. This one is a hodgepodge of recordings he made shortly before his death, but it’s really good, as usual.

The Carters, Everything is Love.

I bought this to round out the Lemonade/4:44 trilogy, and it’s, you know, fine. For an album featuring Beyonce and Jay-Z, it’s surprisingly slapdash and low-key. I’m not sure if they plan to keep collaborating, but I hope the next time they do they come up with something more exciting.

Chvrches, Love is Dead.

Here’s another band that turned in an album that sounds remarkably like their previous work. There are some very good songs on Love is Dead, and Lauren Mayberry continues to be an arresting frontwoman. But there isn’t a lot of variety here, and if you have the first two Chvrches records, you should be fine.

Cloud Nothings, Last Building Burning.

This is a legitimately awesome record and I should have reviewed it. Dylan Baldi takes his band through an absolutely ripping set of fast-paced screamers that sound like the group literally tearing down the walls around them. It’s intense and terrific.

The Collection, Entropy.

This is for Jenette Sturges, who badgered me to try this band for months. Entropy is a pretty good dramatic folk record with some sad songs that stayed with me. The Collection is a pretty good band and I wish I’d listened to Jenette and heard them sooner.

Dead Can Dance, Dionysus.

The Dead Can Dance renaissance continues with this shorter, yet no less powerful record. The band’s signature soundscapes are in full effect over two continuous acts of lovely, dark, delightful music. It’s so nice to have this group back again.

Eminem, Kamikaze.

Em has said he didn’t think too much about this one, and it shows. It feels tossed off, and really focuses in on aspects of his life and personality that no one but he cares about. He seems to make bad records when he’s trying and when he’s not trying, and I’m not sure where that leaves him.

Ester Drang, The Appearances.

Ester Drang’s first record in 12 years is this EP on which they go full shoegaze. The guitars are thick and yet sound light-years away, and everything feels very My Bloody Valentine. I am a fan of the Starflyer 59 cover here, though.

The Family Crest, The War Act I.

I discovered this fantastic orchestral rock band this year, as they began this multi-album saga. This is right up my alley – dramatic songs with about 100 players adding to the epic sound. The songs are wonderful. I can’t wait to hear more from them.

Gorillaz, The Now Now.

Sort of The Fall redux, this shorter album following a longer one full of guest stars feels like a coda or an afterthought. It isn’t bad, and it’s more of a piece with Humanz than The Fall was with Plastic Beach, but it feels oddly inessential.

Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, Bought to Rot.

The first solo album from the Against Me frontwoman is a surprise: a dark semi-acoustic country-esque thing with funny and poignant songs galore. I’m especially fond of “I Hate Chicago,” which many of my local friends seem to love too.

Great White, Full Circle.

Yes, they are still around. No, this isn’t Jack Russell’s Great White, this is the rest of the band with a new singer. Full Circle isn’t bad, but it is pretty generic, and it isn’t much different from bar-band music you can hear any weekend in any city in America.

Haken, Vector.

I really got into this prog-metal band this year, and their fifth album is of a piece with their other four. It’s a conceptual piece with some killer riffs and some great instrumental interplay. If the next generation needs a prog-metal band, these guys should fit the bill nicely.

Imogen Heap, The Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I had no idea that Imogen Heap wrote more than an hour of new music for The Cursed Child. This is instrumental wonderment in four suites, and some of it is based on her earlier work, but some of it is brand new. It’s all splendid, as you’d expect from a genius like Imogen.

Julia Holter, Aviary.

Bought this massive effort on a recommendation. It’s Bjork levels of strange, and it goes on forever, but it’s pretty intricate and interesting stuff. I can’t say any of it moved me or blew me away, but I’m happy to know Holter’s work now, and I will be following it.

Jon Hopkins, Singularity.

Nothing less than the best electronic album I heard in 2018. Not sure why I didn’t give this a full review, but it gets a high recommendation from me. Hopkins has been a terrific composer and musician for a long time, and this might be the best chill-out music he’s made.

Howling Sycamore.

Still have no idea what to make of this. It’s legit heavy metal, but with Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys wailing all over it. If it’s a parody, no one told the band. If it’s meant to be serious, no one told McMaster. Either way, this doesn’t work at all.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Live at the Ryman.

Absolutely my favorite live album of 2018. Isbell has been on a serious roll lately – his last three albums have all been various shades of brilliant – and if you want some idea of how consistent he’s been, listen to this. It draws heavily from those last three, and the band is spot on. Isbell gets his due as a songwriter, and he deserves to.

Mark Knopfler, Down the Road Wherever.

I could listen to Knopfler play guitar for weeks on end and not get bored. His latest solo album doesn’t break any new ground – it’s still folksy with a little Dire Straits rock thrown in. But that guitar sound! It’s inimitable. You know you’re listening to Knopfler within seconds, and it’s just blissful.

Gelb Kolyadin.

I bought this because Marillion’s Steve Hogarth is on it, providing vocals on two songs. This is a solo record from the piano player of Iamthemorning, and it’s so good that it led me to buy everything by Kolyadin’s main band. These are elegant songs with drama to them, and Hogarth fits in nicely.

Leprous, Malina.

Another interesting prog-metal band I discovered this year. I saw them live with Between the Buried and Me, and they were pretty good, but on record they’re way more impressive. Their song structures are strange and fascinating, and this album takes you by the hand and leads you all the way through it.

Lord Huron, Vide Noir.

Another intricate-sounding record from these swampy folk-rockers, and it’s pretty great. I’m a fan of the two-part “Ancient Names,” but all of this works for me. Long live Lord Huron.

Minus the Bear, Fair Enough.

I am sad to learn that this four-song EP is the final release from Minus the Bear. This band had two lives – first as a guitar-heavy prog-influenced band and second as a keyboard-loving Rush-alike. This EP caps off the second life, and it’s good stuff. I will miss them.

Tom Morello, The Atlas Underground.

The first true solo album from the Rage Against the Machine guitarist is a guest-heavy affair that falls flat at every opportunity. I wish this were not the case, but between this and Prophets of Rage, it hasn’t been a good couple years for Morello fans.

Mt. Desolation, When the Night Calls.

Second album from this Keane side project is much like the first – country-inflected pop songs sung with a little shakiness by Tim Rice-Oxley. This isn’t bad, but it isn’t memorable, and it just seems to forestall that inevitable and much-wanted Keane reunion.

Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour.

One of the few records on this list that I straight-up love and should have reviewed more fully. This is a breezy folk-pop album, a turn away from country for Musgraves and into something warmer and more beautiful. I could listen to this on repeat for hours.

Meg Myers, Take Me To the Disco.

Second album from depresso-rocker Myers is exactly like her first. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and these songs are solid and full of life. I think this is the last clone of herself she gets to make, though. I’m interested to hear someone with such obvious talent evolve and do something new.

Willie Nelson, My Way.

An album of Sinatra songs is not the first thing I would expect from this still-kicking country outlaw, but this is pretty good. The arrangements are more on the Sinatra side than the Nelson one, but his supple voice fits in with them well. A nice experiment.

Orbital, Monsters Exist.

Another welcome return, this album for me is all about the last track. “There Will Come a Time” is a swell collaboration with Prof. Brian Cox about the end of the universe, and about how our mortality should make us better and more loving people. The rest of this album is standard Orbital, all instrumental synth madness. Welcome back, guys.

Our Lady Peace, Somethingness.

This nine-song record seems to indicate a lack of effort, but it shows that Our Lady Peace is still capable of making some pretty interesting music. Raine Maida sounds a little older and a little more worn, but his elastic voice is still the main selling point.

Peter Bjorn and John, Darker Days.

True to its title, this is a darker album from these Swedish pop wunderkinds, exploring some minor keys and more serious lyrics. But it’s still a great deal of fun, and as ever it sounds like it was put together by polished, accomplished craftsmen.

Dug Pinnick, Tribute to Jimi.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the King’s X frontman loves Jimi Hendrix. You can hear his influence all over Dug’s solo work especially. This is a pretty decent tribute record, with Pinnick’s versions of some of Hendrix’s best known songs. No surprises, but fun.

The Prodigy, No Tourists.

The Prodigy seems content giving us the same record over and over again. This is boom-boom beats and Liam Howlett’s braying, and it works as well as it always has. Really, it does sound like the same record as last time and the time before, but I keep buying them, so maybe I’m the fool here.

Ben Rector, Magic.

A more produced and hit-hungry record from this piano-popper, but it still contains big helpings of his trademark suburban wit. I love “Old Friends,” corny as it is, and “Duo” made me smile. I hoped for more from Rector, and I hope his radio-driven phase ends soon.

Mike Shinoda, Post Traumatic.

Surprisingly effective solo record from the creative driver of Linkin Park. This album was recorded in the wake of Chester Bennington’s suicide, and his spectre haunts the whole thing. Shinoda uses this music to work through his grief and his uncertainty about what to do next. It’s emotionally heavy but enjoyable all the same.

Soulfly, Ritual.

Eleventh album from Max Cavalera’s post-Sepultura metal band, and they still kick ass. This is a solid, compact slice of heavy riffing with some interesting percussion and another installment of their instrumental “Soulfly” series. It’s just another Soulfly album, but it’s been a while since they’ve made a bad one.

Spiritualized, And Nothing Hurt.

I really want to get Spiritualized, but I don’t. These songs are too simple for me, too basic, and Jason Pierce works really hard on the arrangements and the production, and it always sounds like polishing a turd to me. The songs bore me to tears. I wish I liked this. I really do.

Sun Kil Moon, This is My Dinner.

Speaking of being bored to tears, here’s 90 more minutes of diary-entry ramblings from Mark Kozelek. This one feels like a waste of a good band, since the sound is fantastic. But the endless nature of the stream-of-consciousness songs sinks this.

Matthew Sweet, Tomorrow’s Daughter.

Official release of the bonus disc from Tomorrow Forever. This is another dozen swell Sweet songs, the product of a huge seam of inspiration over the last couple years. Together, these two Tomorrow albums represent the best work he’s done in more than a decade.

Teenage Wrist, Chrome Neon Jesus.

Another new discovery, this band makes me yearn for the glory days of Catherine Wheel. They’re shoegaze-y but smart and melodic and full of life. I’ve listened to this far more often than you’d think, considering I never mentioned it in this column. I’d call them one of my favorite new bands of the year.

Titus Andronicus, A Productive Cough.

This is half the length of the last Titus record and twice as hard to get through. Patrick Stickles indulges his love of simple Americana here, and writes these “epic” Bob Dylan-style songs that go on forever without doing anything. To drive the point home, he covers “Like a Rolling Stone.” For eight minutes. Ugh.

Jeff Tweedy, Warm.

People seem to like this solo effort from the Wilco frontman. I got about three sloppy strums into It before deciding I would hate it forever. The rest of the record didn’t change my mind. More like lukewarm. Tepid, even.

Various Artists, Johnny Cash: The Music: Forever Words.

An unwieldy title for a surprisingly successful tribute album. This is new songs written around existing and unused Johnny Cash lyrics, and the strong list of performers and composers take this as the honor it is and turn in excellent work. Elvis Costello’s track is a highlight.

Vengeance, Human Sacrifice (The First Mix).

The first Christian thrash metal album ever, now in a rawer and more immediate mix. It’s like hearing it for the first time. The band sounds like they are in the room with you. I love this album so much that I was happy to buy this alternate version of it, and it may supplant the original mix in my canon.

Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth.

Washington is so good. This is another double-length extravaganza from the jazz saxophone prodigy, with a hidden third disc that brings the running time over three hours. It’s extraordinary stuff, full and rich and wild when it needs to be, yet restrained when it should be. Excellent stuff.

Thom Yorke, Suspira.

This lengthy score to the new Suspira film is the first bit of Thom Yorke’s solo career I really like. It’s effective and creepy and, as it’s a film score, it doesn’t matter that most of it is soundscapes without songs. The songs here are really good too, though. I know some were worried about Thom messing with the original score, but this works really well.

And that will do it for another year. I’ll be taking next week off, and maybe the week after that as well. After 18 years I need a bit of a breather. But don’t worry, I’ll be back in 2019 with more weekly musical musings. Thank you, more than I can say, to those who have followed along on this journey and interacted with me through this column. You’re the reason I keep writing it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

See you in year 19. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.

See you in line Tuesday morning… and to all a good night.

a column by andre salles