I Was Summer: Favorite Non-2019 Albums and Discoveries of the Year

Highlighting all of the old music I loved in 2019 from Number Girl, Underworld and many more

Number Girl are on the verge of finding themselves in their second album, School Girl Distortional Addict. Once simply a fun, exciting style of music, punk now becomes a vehicle to express their experiences during the dawn of a new century, and “Toumei Shoujo” is the song where everything comes together. Like the image referenced in the title (“Invisible Girl”), the band turns into elusive, intangible figures through the sheer intensity in which they perform their off-the-cuff music. Shutoku Mukai himself sounds astonished by the rate his own surroundings seems to change: “When I realized/ I more or less/ was summer,” he sings after being completely absorbed in the moment.

I love how that line sums up the innocence of youth and losing yourself in the current. That naivete becomes its own sort of invincibility. “Toumei Shoujo” also sounds fleeting as youth can be. The music is restless, and it hardly provides enough breathing room to properly bask in its finest moments. Mukai sounds rushed to capture the beauty in front of him, partly because the scene never manages to stay static. It sometimes sounds like the moment has already come and went.

“Toumei Shojo” sounds beautiful yet it’s also bittersweet how it shares a time and feeling I’m unsure that I’ll feel again. My life seems to be headed where Number Girl was during the last bits of their life when adult cynicism weighed down their music. I’ve been more curious about what music can sound like while navigating that cynicism, or moreover what it might sound like after getting over that hump. There seems to be more music now being in the thick of that darkness, and I naturally craved to get a glimpse of what might lie beyond that skepticism.

Number Girl disbanded before they could provide an answer of their own. Their search continues, sort of, though Shutoku Mukai’s other band Zazen Boys. They’ve yet to arrive to a clear conclusion, but I don’t blame them. It’s hard enough to keep going.

Per tradition, it’s time to highlight all the great “old” music (meaning not released in 2019) that I discovered this year, including, yes, Number Girl. Hope you find something new!

Park Hye Jin: ‘If U Want It’ EP [clipp.art; 2018]

Playing catch up

Standing on the Corner: Red Burns (2017)
21 Savage: I am > I was (2018)
Astrid Sonne:
Human Lines (2018)
Asunojokei: Awakening (2018)
Bad Bunny:
X100 Pre (2018)
City Morgue:
City Morgue Vol. 1: Hell or High Water (2018)
Closer:
All This Will Be (2018)
EXO:
Countdown (2018)
Hakushi Hasegawa:
Somoku Hodo EP (2018)
Ippuku:
Himatsubushi EP (2018)
Isorinne:
Stumhetens Toner (2018)
Kelly Moran:
Ultraviolet (2018)
Laraaji, Arji OceAnanda, Dallas Acid: Arrive Without Leaving (2018)
Meitei:
Kwaidan (2018)
Metome:
Dialect (2018)
Park Hye Jin:
If U Want It EP (2018)
Snail’s House: Sno (2018) / Lete (2018)
Zekkei Kujira: Seasick (2018)

Rock in Japan, 20th Century

The Blue Hearts: The Blue Hearts (1987)
BUCK-TICK:
Seventh Heaven (1988)
Kyosuke Himuro: Memories of Blue (1993)
Boredom:
Super Ae (1998)
L’arc~en~ciel:
Ark (1999)
Number Girl:
School Girl Distortional Addict (1999)

Rock in Japan, 21st Century

Number Girl: Sappukei (2000)
Ellegarden:
Don’t Trust Anyone But Us (2002)
Dir en Grey:
Vulgar (2003)
Dir en Grey:
Withering to Death (2005)
Ging Nang Boyz:
Kimi To Boku No Dai Sanji Sekai Daisenteki Renai Kakumei (2005)
Midori: Aratamemashite Hajimemashite Midoridesu (2008)
Tricot:
The (2013)
Mitsume: Sasayaki (2014)
Hijokaidan & Jun Togawa: Togawa Kaidan (2016)

Pop in Japan, ‘80s

Yellow Magic Orchestra: Naughty Boys (1983)
Akina Nakamori: Crimson (1986)
Tatsuro Yamashita:
Pocket Music (1986)
Akina Nakamori:
Stock (1988)

Pop in Japan, ‘90s

TRF: TRF ~This Is the Truth~ (1993)
Denki Groove:
Dragon (1994)
Tomoko Shinohara: Supermodel (1996)
Denki Groove:
A (1997)
Globe:
Faces Places (1997)
Kinki Kids: B Album (1998)

Pop in Japan, ‘00s

M-Flo: Planet Shining (2000)
Mondo Grosso: Next Wave (2003)
Capsule: Flash Back (2007)
Aira Mitsuki:
Plastic (2009)

Pop in Japan, ‘10s

Tofubeats: Lost Decade (2013)
P.O.P.:
P.O.P. (2015)
Agraph:
The Shader (2016)
Billie Idle:
Bi Bi Bi Bi Bi (2016)
BiS:
Brand-new Idol Society 2 (2016)
Dempagumi.inc: GOGO Dempa (2016)
Especia: Carta (2016)

*Lil Uzi Vert voice* K-pop

Seo Taiji and Boys: Seo Taiji and Boys (1992)
Uhm Jung Hwa:
005.1999.006 (1999)
2PM:
1:59 PM (2009)
T-ARA:
Breaking Heart (2009)
SHINee:
Misconceptions of Us (2013)
After School:
Dress to Kill (2014)
SHINee: 1 of 1 (2016)

Bleep Bloop, the ‘90s

Laurie Spiegel: Unseen Worlds (1991)
Model 500: Classics (1993)
F.U.S.E.:
Dimension Intrusion (1994)
Jeff Mills:
Waveform Transmissions, Vol. 3 (1994)
Ken Ishii: Jelly Tones (1995)
Underworld:
Second Toughest in the Infants (1996)
Photek:
Modus Operandi (1997)
Underworld:
Beaucoup Fish (1998)
Cassius: 1999 (1999)
The Chemical Brothers: Surrender (1999)

More Bleeps and Bloops, ‘00s

Various artists/Crydamoure: Waves (2000)
Felix da Housecat:
Kittenz and thee Glitz (2001)
The Chemical Brothers:
Come with Us (2002)
Loscil:
Submers (2002)
Kode9 & Spaceape: Memories of the Future (2006)
Wiley:
Playtime Is Over (2007)
Autechre: Quaristice (2008)

The ‘10s— Still Bleeping, Still Blooping

Autechre: Oversteps (2010)
Kode9:
DJ-Kicks (2010)
Pan Sonic & Keiji Haino:
In the Studio (2010)
Various artists/Hessle Audio:
116 & Rising (2011)
Vektroid: Seed & Synthetic Earth (2017)

’90s Rap a.k.a Real Hip-Hop

E-40: Federal (1993)
Mac: Shell Shocked (1998)
Missy Elliott: Da Real World (1998)
Redman:
Doc’s da Name 2000 (1998)
N.O.R.E.:
Melvin Flynt Da Hustler (1999)
Snoop Dogg:
No Limit Top Dogg (1999)

’10s Rap + 1

Max B & French Montana: Coke Wave (2009)
French Montana:
Casino Life: Mr. 16 (2011)
Max B:
Vigilante Season (2014)
Chief Keef:
Back from the Dead 2 (2015)
Lil Peep:
Hellboy (2016)
Valee:
Vtm (2017)

Old Pop (Not from Japan)

Chic: C’est Chic (1978)
The Blue Nile:
A Walk Across the Rooftops (1984)
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam: Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force (1985)
Mantronix: Music Madness (1986)
Expose:
Exposure (1987)

More Old Pop (Not from Japan)

TLC: Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip (1992)
Sean Paul: Dutty Rock (2002)
Kelis: Tasty (2003)
Usher:
Confessions (2003)
Daddy Yankee: Barrio Fino (2004)
Lindsey Lohan: Speak (2004)
Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is (2005)
Shakira: Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005)
Wisin y Yandel: Pa’l Mundo (2005)
Ciara:
The Evolution (2006)
Solange:
Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams (2008)

New Pop (Not from Japan)

Kesha: Cannibal (2010)
Plan B:
House of Pleasure (2010)
Vybz Kartel:
Kingston Story (2011)
Romeo Santos:
Formula Vol. 1 (2012)
PARTYNEXTDOOR:
PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO (2014)
Whitest Taino Alive:
Donde Jugaran Los Cueros? (2014)
Halsey:
Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017)

Loud Music

Killing Joke: Killing Joke (1980)
Glenn Branca:
The Ascension (1981)
Mercyful Fate:
Don’t Break the Oath (1984)
Bathory: Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)
Morbid Angel:
Altars of Madness (1989)

Loud!

KMFDM: Naive (1990)
Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992)
Ministry:
Psalm 69 (1992)
Drive Like Jehu: Yank Crime (1994)
Lords of Acid: Voodoo-U (1994)

Loud Loud Loud

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Yanqui U.X.O. (2002)
Jimmy Eat World:
Futures (2004)
Lightning Bolt:
Hypermagic Mountain (2005)
Nine Inch Nails:
With Teeth (2005)
Deftones:
Saturday Night Wrist (2006)
Prurient: Pleasure Ground (2006)
Gridlink: Amber Gray (2009)

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Excerpts from my Journal: Apr. 11 ‘22