The three hundred and fifty-eighth album: #358 Jorge Ben - Africa Brasil
Mostly, Africa Brasil provides pleasant Brazilian pop. There's a samba root, but it has the jazzier bossa nova feel in a number of its tracks and brings in some gentle rock and funk's call and response in places to create a nice fusion. At the best, his quite simple vocals - often with the softness of a ballad - has more upbeat music behind it where it makes it more expressive. Taj Mahal for example has a famous beat in it, but his vocals are calmer than the rest of the song suggests. It's not something I would have necessarily expected, but it works well as an album.
The three hundred and fifty-seventh album: #257 Rush - 2112
2112 is of course dominated by its title track, a twenty minute long rock opera where the protagonist rediscovers music in a world that has lost it, ending darkly as this time it doesn't save the world - a welcome darker ending to an otherwise predictable story that's given form quite well. Then again, dystopian future imagery always does it for me, so I'll have to admit to a bias on this. It's a good work, the parts flowing well into each other for a nice consistent whole.
Without that thread pulling it together, Rush's music is good, solid anthem rock, playing well, clearly, to stadiums and larger crowds. Not quite as memorable as the more evocative story of 2112, which I'd want to revisit, but it's good rock nevertheless.
The three hundred and fifty-sixth album: Kiss - Destroyer
As Kiss's fame comes as much from its existence as an amazing live act as it does from its album, this is actually the only album on the list from the band. Said to be its most ambitious, its breadth is quite impressive. God of Thunder probably stands as its most conclusive, a massive rock anthem that really hits that dark exuberance, it's followed by Great Expectations, a hard rock twist on a ballad that is still quite produced in places, but is a more accessible, almost poppy track as well.
It feels properly aimed at me, as I enjoy both the standard rock songs and the more sensitive ballads, with the variety pushing beyond the showmanship into something better and deeper. It's worth mentioning Beth here as one of the main examples of this. As an album it's well put together and well worth listening to the full range of.
The three hundred and fifty-fifth album: #355 ABBA - Arrival
Listening to this round's ABBA album, I had an odd sensation - familiarity breeds affection. While the album has a full collection of good pop songs, the ones that I knew (Dancing Queen, Knowing Me Knowing You and Money, Money, Money for example) felt like songs that were that much better on the album. It might be self selection for the songs we know, but it feels like a track like 'Tiger' could have been as successful, but the fourth single "That's Me" just doesn't seem to have gotten as much attention.
There's something about their poppy, upbeat songs where they are at their best, and combined with these songs being ones you can sing along to, they just ask for that boost. It's how they worm their way in and really make you feel best. It's a good album still, but the highlights do feel like they're that much stronger.
The three hundred and fifty-fourth album: #354 The Eagles - Hotel California
With the title track enduring in the public consciousness for so long - for good reason - the big question listening to the album is whether it holds up after that. Lyrically, it does, with lines that need some time to unpack and feel like they're going deeper. It might not be as surreal as Hotel California, but it has its own depth. Musically, it's not quite as surreal as Hotel California feels, but they do fit in well with the feel the band is going for and repeatedly, the songs feel right in how they're put together - not in production, but from pure song writing.
The three hundred and fifty-third album: #353 Boston - Boston
This is a solid hard rock album. No major stand outs for me, nothing's bad, it's all just at a good level that I've been enjoying listening to.
The three hundred and fifty-second album: #352 Joni MItchell - Hejira
I'll happily admit to just not understanding the subtleties of some performers. I enjoy Joni Mitchell's albums, I find Hejira a calming and interesting influence to listen to, but I also can't really say what sets it apart from other albums by her. A bit less maudlin in places perhaps? A different feel to how they approach the subject? I struggle to say for sure, but as an album it still work swell enough and it's a welcome calm album.
The three hundred and fifty-first album: #351 David Bowie - Station To Station
There's a less extravagant feel to Bowie's tenth album, one that's still produced but has a simpler rock sound as its core through the most of it, relying on Bowie's lyrics and vocals more to create that feeling. It's nothing big, but it feels well crafted and focused in a way that really suits me at this point.
The three hundred and fiftieth album: #350 Modern Lovers - Modern Lovers
It feels like since my moving-related break, I've already been hitting some high points for some good rock albums. Modern Lovers aims towards punk again. It's upbeat, not trying to be deep, but hitting the right notes - not too hard, but not subdued either, staying accessible and energetic. It still feels like teenagers or someone in their early twenties working through things, but it's packaged up well enough to stay very listenable.
The three hundred and fourty-ninth album: #349 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Tom Petty's sound here feels like classic rock music - the upbeat driving sound, straightforward vocals, no tricks or excessive sounds, but instead harkening back slightly to older styles of music while still feeling quite modern. There are the hints at metal and punk, but on the whole it's a fun rock and roll sound that carries through really well.