Justin Cox's blog

David Bowie - Blackstar - Album of the Week January 5

Blackstar was released on David Bowie's 69th birthday (January 8, 2016), just two days before he died. As we approach the album’s one-year anniversary and Bowie's 70th birthday, it feels like a fine time to feature it on Album of the Week. I’ve listened to the album only a few times and am intrigued, but not yet intimately familiar or attached. 

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - What Now My Love

Album of the Week, Nov 10, 2016

KDRT's Pieter Pastoor brought up Herb Alpert in a conversation we had about a year ago on his radio show. I knew the name, but had no idea who he was beyond that. My wife and I happened upon a stack of his records for 99 cents each at Armadillo Music about a week later and bought them all up. So cheap, why not? Well, turns out we love them all and have listened regularly ever since.  

Pieter is joining me in the studio to play one of my favorites, "What Now My Love." Alpert is in his 80s and still making music. He's also the "A" in A&M Records, so there's plenty to talk about. The record we're playing is only 29 minutes long, so we plan on playing some other delights as well during the hours. 

Click "Listen Now" at 5pm Pacific Time to tune in. 

 

Outlandos d'Amour, by The Police (Album of the Week: October 6 at 5pm PT)

The Police put out all five of their studio albums between 1978 and 1983, and there's not a stinker among them. They got in, delivered something near perfect for a half-decade, and then let the project be. I think that's beautiful. They're batting 1000, which is rare. 

For Album of the Week, I'm playing their debut record, Outlandos d'Amour, which is tied for my favorite with the two records that follow it. Their fourth and fifth records are a tiny step down for me, but only becasue I grew up less inclined toward 80s synths and whatnot, although that's changed some in recent years. All five records are great, and their very natural evolution is part of that greatness. 

Here's a bit about Outlandos d'Amour. I'll share some of my own thoughts between tracks during the show. 

The LP initially performed poorly due to low exposure and an unfavourable reaction from the BBC to its first two singles, "Can't Stand Losing You" and "Roxanne" (about suicide and prostitution, respectively). As Sting describes: 

Album of the Week - Rx Bandits: ...and the Battle Begun

 

The Rx Bandits are doing a 10 year anniversary tour behind their 2006 album ...And The Battle Begun, and they'll pass through Sacramento on September 25. Sounds like a good time to revisit. It's not my favorite of their albums (Resignation & Progress are one and two), but it probably comes in third. Via Wikiepdia... 

"Like its predecessor, The Resignation, the rhythm section was recorded live for ...And The Battle Begun. Overdubs were done in various other studios, one of which was Embree's. Referred to as "The Elizabethen", the studio is used by many of RxB's MDB labelmates, such as The Return.

Album of the Week - PUP

I hadn't heard of the Toronto punk band PUP until a few months ago, when I was scanning Twitter and saw a bunch of musicians I like saying “holy hell, the new PUP song!” This band was being endorsed by five or six musicians I loved, so I felt it prudent to check it out. That song was called DVP, it it hit me like a freight train. It sums up the band pretty well: rapid and relentless, but with plenty of melody laced through from start to finish.

DVP is from their second album, which comes out tomorrow (May 27). After hearing it, I dove into their first album, which is self-titled, and have shared them widely ever since. Two-thirds of The Polyorchids (me and Tony, who plays bass) will be in the studio today playing that album and explaining its goodness. We’ll also play a couple of songs from the follow-up record that comes out tomorrow, which is called The Dream is Over.

Listen to DVP and watch the retro video game music video. It's a good starting point. 

 

Album of the Week - Bad Books II - 4/28 5-6P

I got into Bad Books after years of listening to Kevin Devine, a Brooklyn indie/punk musician who is one of my favorite songwriters. The group is a side-project featuring Devine and members of the band Manchester Orchestra, whose singer is Andy Hull. This is the second of their two albums, and it's a great listen.

Both Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra have albums I like just as much (and some more) than this one, but Devine and Hull are playing a show together in SF next month, so it feels like a good time for Bad Books. Plus, it’s just a tight 11-song indie record.

Also, unlike others, it’s free of profanity, meaning I won't have to do any on-the-fly lyric censorship during the show. I’ll have my three-year-old son in the booth (it’s take-your-kid-to-work day at UC Davis) and I’m sure he’ll be trying to stir up a ruckus in there, so I’ll need to keep my attention on that.

Fugazi, The Argument - Album of the Week (9/24/15)

 

This is the best Fugazi album. A perfect mix of experimentation, loudness, melody and flow. Although I had heard of the DC-based band Fugazi and knew they were imporant, I didn't grow up listening to them. I heard this album (their last) when my straight-edge/vegan/cooler-than-everybody-else roommate bought it the day it was released during my first year of college (one month after 9/11) and threw it immediately on repeat.

I was prepping myself to dislike it because I didn't really love him a whole lot. But it knocked my socks off! I immediately dug into their catalog and found plenty to love, but this one will always be my favorite. 

Listen to 95.7fm in you're in Davis or click the "Listen Now" button at the top left of this page at 5pm if you're not. Show airs on Thursday, September 24 and there will be no archived permalink to listen later.

Album of the Week - 'Get Disowned' by Hop Along - TH 5/21 5P

I happened upon this band a couple of months ago while scanning the show calendar for the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. I found their first full-length album “Get Disowned” on Spotify, clicked play, and then got back to work. For a few minutes, the songs clipped along in the background — gritty in some moments, melodic in others. Interesting, but very much in the background. It wasn’t until the back half of track 4, “No Good Al Joad,” that the album gripped my attention. After fading into silence, the band's female singer, Frances Quinlan, rattles off about 90 seconds of my favorite vocals in a while. I saved the album on Spotify and have been listening a ton ever since. 

I’ve since learned that Hop Along signed to Saddle Creek Records last year and released their second album, “Painted Shut,” just a few weeks ago. It sounds great, but I plan on taking in their first album a bit longer before diving into the new one completely. That's why I’m playing "Get Disowned" for Album of the Week this week. 

Album of the Week: "...And Out Come the Wolves," by Rancid (May 25)

 

rancid

By Justin Cox

This album dropped right in the heart of my formative years. It was faster and grittier than Green Day (who was conquoring the world at the time) but maintained enough of those same pop sensibilities to hold the attention of my middle school self. I like it as much today as I did then, which can't be said for some of the other stuff I listened to at that time. (I'm looking at you, Offspring). Here’s some background on the album, via Wikipedia: