Each year, there are records that don't make it into this column, not because they don't deserve it, but because your fair reviewer didn't get his act together until the train had already left the station. Sometimes, you just can't be hip to everything right when it's having its moment, folks. Sometimes, you become aware of something a while after it's been released into the wild.
As we button up and put a bow on 2019, let's take a moment to look back and shine a little light on some of the excellent records that we might've overlooked for one reason or another. They're all worthy platters — let's give them a quick nod before 2019 skedaddles and we slide headlong into the roaring ’20s.
OK, so, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio put out their “Smells Funny” album at the tail end of 2018, but some internet sites indicate that maybe certain editions of the record were released in 2019, so we're gonna include this one. Why? Mollestad is a tasty guitarist, and her band is grimy and groovy in the best ways.
It's not shredder music or jazz, but it's like if those things were more fun to listen to and also influenced by Black Sabbath a lot. Instrumental rock music doesn't really get better than Hedvig. Check out “First Thing to Pop is the Eye” for a taste.
Sticking with the Norwegian instrumental-rock scene — because, for some reason, that's what your music reviewer ends up spending a lot of time with — there was the Elephant9 double-live record “Psychedelic Backfire.” Again, it's probably technically jazz music, but so was the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and they brought the rock often enough to where it also can scratch that itch.
Put this stuff on and get lost in it. Americans aren't doing anything like this, right now, and they really haven't since the ’60s ended. Luckily, Norway has our backs.
LCD Soundsystem, who reunited to release the excellent “American Dream” in 2017, put out their “Electric Lady Sessions” in 2019. A live record that was put down at Jimi Hendrix's old studio, the collection saw the band performing a number of their newest tracks alongside LCD classics and a few new covers. The record demonstrated again how solid of a band James Murphy has assembled to perform the songs that he mostly records by himself on the group's proper albums.
Speaking of combos that do a good job performing their leader's music, Ty Segall's Freedom Band was documented in action on the live record “Deforming Lobes.” We cover Segall a lot, here, so this album got skipped over in this column in 2019, but if you're looking to hear a killer group playing at a high level, check this one out.
There was a weird Radiohead release in 2019 — “MINIDISCS [HACKED]” was an 18(!)-disc collection of demos, sketches, live recordings, found-sound tibits and more that the band released after they were hacked and then blackmailed (almost).
Instead of paying the hacker a ransom to prevent the release of this very personal batch of work tapes, Radiohead released them themselves for a limited time, with proceeds going to charity. While the whole situation was a bit troubling, the music itself was a treasure trove for fans of the group. Anyone looking to see how the band worked out their classic “OK Computer” over time need look no further. Fascinating stuff.
The second Messthetics album “Anthropocosmic Nest” was another wicked slab of jazz-punk goodness that showed again just how great Fugazi's rhythm section remains, and the guitar playing of Anthony Pirog again wowed. It's mature stuff that also packs a wallop.
This was another year packed with great music, but if you missed any of these fine albums, it's never too late to go back and take a gander at the ones that got away.
Tony Bennett reviews albums for the News Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.