Must Have CD's

by Scott Thill

The summer was too hot for much more than sitting and drinking a Corona and digging into the stacks of discs -- or MP3s, depending on your preference -- lying at your feet. And even that expended more energy than you were willing to part with, but that's how the ball bounces, my friends. Good thing there's great music still within reach. Let's start with the desert-island classic, a stark effort that's been floating aboveground for years.

The Cure, Pornography

Back when this missile shot straight from the heart of darkness was released in 1982, The Cure's music had yet to be overshadowed by the sunny optimism of songs like "Love Cats" and "Just Like Heaven." Which, in a way, is too bad, because Pornography continued to be one of the most heartbreakingly somber releases in alternative rock history, and it deserved better. Evidently, its time has finally come with this two-disc Rhino reissue, which unleashes measured atmospherics like "Siamese Twins" and "The Hanging Garden" onto a whole new set of demographics. Plus, it boasts a rarities disc full of songs from the period (1980-1982), giving you the Cure in all their Gothic splendor before they changed their minds about love and its erotic components. If it's too bright outside, give this thing a spin and watch the sun disappear.


The Heavenly States, Black Comet

The brainchild of one smart bastard named Ted Nesseth, this Norcal band is equal parts muckraker, performance art and blistering indie rock. The States wear their progressive politics on their sleeves, which is a refreshing break, seeing that most liberals have been running scared from the right-wing machine for years now. Neck-snappers like "Borderline" (not Madonna, people, the American borderline!) and in-your-face "The Pale" remind you how fun it can be when a band speaks its mind without a care what the Establishment would think about it. Nesseth has the riffs and the pipes to make things happen, so keep an eye out for him and an ear out for Black Comet. It's good for you.


Jazzanova, Blue Note Trip

You gotta love the Blue Note label: Not only have they turned out some of the finest jazz and blues of the last century, but they've also functioned as a fertile soil for the 21st-century's most talented recombinant technicians. In other words, DJs left and right. Madlib made an appearance in Must-Have CDs before with a stellar remix of Blue Note masterpieces called Shades of Blue. This time around, it's Jazzanova, the Berlin collective that has helped as much as any American act to launch turntablism into the popstream. Why? Because they've always been interested in digging up sonic history, and sure enough everyone from Horace Silver and Donald Byrd to Herbie Hancock and Bobbi Humphrey get the spotlight in Trip. Blue Note on its own is always a winner, but Blue Note remixed, whether by Jazza, Madlib or anyone is one better: A streak worth defending.

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© Melt Magazine 2005