Bleeding Rainbow, Interrupt for its use of textures and its nice blend of shoegaze guitars, melodies, and male/female vocals.
The Solids, Blame Confusion for its chunky, melodic riffs that sound straight out of 1994
Atmosphere, Southsiders for the handful of great songs on the album that combine soulful, hard-hitting beats with introspective rhymes
Unwound, Rat Conspiracy, for collecting two of the best records of the 1990s plus some good b-sides.
One thing that's not really on this list is much hip-hop. That's because I haven't been listening to much hip-hop lately. I listen to the stuff I review, but that's about it. I'm turned off by the vulgarity and misogyny of mainstream and street rap, and there hasn't been much underground stuff that's moved me. If I listen to rap it is mostly old De La Soul records with my kid. At home with my kid I listen to kid's music, old jazz and old reggae. On my own, I listen to Grouper and Unwound. Almost exclusively. It's a little disturbing to me that I've been so into Unwound, given that I am 39. What I realized is that in some ways I'm at a similar point in my life as I was when I was into Unwound in my early twenties. Not really sure who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to be doing, not totally satisfied with work, and feeling a little lost. That's a selfish way to be given that I have an amazing family and an amazing job and am incredibly lucky, but the transition to being a parent has given me a bit of an identity crisis, and working a mid-level job can be just as confusing and dissatisfying as working an entry-level job. What am I supposed to be doing, is this the career I want, have I overstayed my welcome, etc. etc. It's a similar sense of ennui and angst that the thrashings and wailings of Unwound help to soothe. Of course, when I was 19, I had a lot of freedom but no means to take advantage of it. Now I am more comfortable materially, but I have a lot more responsibilities. I worry all the time. What if I lose my job? What if I can't pay my mortgage? What if my wife or kid gets sick? The scenarios are constantly playing in my head. At 19 my girl problems were trying to get a girlfriend or get over a broken heart. Now my girl problems are hoping that my ladies stay healthy and I continue to be able to provide for them. Responsibility, man, it's a total buzzkill.