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365 Days of Albums: The full 2013 experience

January 11, 2016

The full 2013 365 days of albums, presented here primarily so I have them all in one place. Lotsa good music here.

Day 1: Tift Merritt – Traveling Alone (2012) – I keep thinking I should like her stuff more than I do. But since putting her “Tambourine” at No. 5 on my 2004 year-end list, nothing else measures up. This is earnest, but I found it unsatisfying. (3/10)

Day 2: Chris Rea – Wired to the Moon (1984) – Leaning more toward blues than some of his adult rock albums of the time (although some reviews call the newer sounds “ethnic”), Rea dances the line between following his previous path and taking strides toward being a lyrical R&B guitar player. (6/10)

Day 3: Chains of Love – Strange Grey Days (2012) – A description of “Phil Spector meets early 80’s post-punk” doesn’t seem possible to live up to, but this works. The reverbed female vocals are the Spector touch, and the songs are solid, and not in a nostalgic way. I love the organ that pops up, too. (8/10)

Day 4: Zappa – Berkeley, Calif., Dec. 12, 1980 (early show) – Nice for collectors in that it contains the full 10 1/2 minutes of “Pick Me I’m Clean” that was whittled down for official release on “Tinseltown Rebellion.” This is a tight band near the end of a short tour, fighting lean. (8/10)

Day 5: Citizens – Here We Are (2012) – This is oddly specific, but these guys sound to me like a softer Chrissie Hynde (from Pretenders) backed by Vampire Weekend. The songs aren’t quite reggae-fied enough to sound exotic, but they’re also a step past cute pop. (5/10)

Day 6: Cornershop – Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast (2009) – Indie pop focusing on guitars, up-tempo melodies and vocals. Some of their fans dislike this, which makes me want to pursue their other work. I enjoyed it repeatedly, especially their cover of “The Mighty Quinn.” (7/10)

Day 7: King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (1974)/Red (1974)/Beat (1982) – The 1974 releases are astonishing. It’s impressive that they pulled together one of the albums in the year, let alone both, let alone in a year they broke up. They’re fantastic improvistic collections of metal and prog and jazz and improv. “Beat,” meanwhile, just sounds like a mediocre Police album. (Starless and Bible Black 7/10; Red 8/10; Beat 4/10)

Day 8: 10cc – Tenology (2012) – Four CDs is too much for most people, but not me. Spending some time with this set was a pleasure. It revived for me a band I love a great deal. 10cc gave me a foundation for bands and performers I would appreciate later on when they appeared – XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, Moxy Fruvous. (9/10)

Day 9: Lita Ford – Out For Blood (1999) – Ford can embody a lot of styles. Some of them fit her, some of them do not. This feels like an attempt to be Pat Benatar, and its poppy arrangements and settings do not play to Ford’s strengths. (3/10)

Day 10: Walk the Moon (2012) – Their cross of pop and electronica is pleasing, especially in small doses, which is why I picked this up. But extended over 40 minutes or so, it becomes a tad too repetitive and saccharine. (4/10)

Day 11: Robin Guthrie – Fortune (2012) – This stuff defines the word “soundscape.” Light, airy, moody guitar pieces. His work doesn’t bite the way it did when I first heard him 30 years ago with Cocteau Twins, but the work is unmistakably Guthrie, and enjoyable, if the lighter style is your taste. (7/10)

Day 12: Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour (2012) – The Elton John-style 70s pop that marked what I loved most about them has been abandoned for 80s-sounding percussion (rock’s worst and most dated percussion style) and the omnipresent and ever-annoying AutoTune. Pop is disposable, but shouldn’t be this disposable. (3/10)

Day 13: The Rolling Stones – RSVP (1968) – I’m learning that 1960s- and 1970s-era Rolling Stones bootlegs are kind of like Beatles bootlegs: There’s a finite amount of stuff out there, but enterprising bootleggers are good at dressing up the old stuff in a new package to pull in the rubes like me. This is good stuff – some alternate takes and mixes – but I’ve heard almost all of it before. (7/10)

Day 14: Sitcom Neighbor- Charm (2012) – One of my happy experiences listening to music – finding something about which I had no idea, and it pleases me start to finish. This is power pop at its best – clever, melodic, toe-tapping. Everything I like in my music. If I’d heard this two months ago, it would have been on my year-end favorites list. (9/10)

Day 15: Zappa – Claremont, Calif. May 18, 1971 – This includes the first public performance of Zappa’s epic “Billy the Mountain,” greeting with rapturous applause from the crowd and some rare onstage praise from Zappa for the band. It’s interesting to hear how it started. And for an added bonus, we get to hear the concert bootlegger get caught and told to turn off his recorder near the end of the show. (8/10)

Day 16: The Royal Guardsmen – Return of the Red Baron/Snoopy and His Friends (both 1967) – This band had chart success with a series of “Snoopy” songs based on the “Peanuts” dog being a successful combat pilot – the very definition of novelty hits. The rest of the music is standard 1960s bland, inoffensive pop. And the “concept” “Snoopy and His Friends” album may make you run screaming from the room after 20 minutes of airplane songs. (Return … 4/10; Snoopy 6/10)

Day 17: Ian Hunter – When I’m President (2012) – The crotchety veteran keeps kicking, alternately sounding like Mott the Hoople (of course), the Stones, Dylan and vintage Rod Stewart. He’s disgusted with the world, but sounds like he’s enjoying expressing his disgust. (8/10)

Day 18: The Sheepdogs (2012) – I hear a lot of 70s FM radio style – Creedence, the Allmans, early Eagles. It’s easy to mimic, but more difficult (and impressive) to do what these guys do – take the style and write top-notch songs and make the sounds their own. Well done. (8/10)

Day 19: Earth, Wind and Fire – Open Our Eyes (1974) – They would go on from here to far bigger and sometimes better things. Your reaction to this combination of soul and funk is probably in proportion to your thoughts about the rest of their catalog. If you loved the big hits, this is underdone. If you disliked the chart success but admired the style, this may be more attractive. (5/10)

Day 20: Quakers on Probation – Every Living Thing (2010) – I love the name, for openers. Self-described as jangly pop, for me it lives is some kind of odd alternate 70s universe, where John Lennon sings with Faces backing him up. Great line: “One thing for sure – Cheap Trick will always be cool.” (7/10)

Day 21: Flying Colors (2012) – Prog with a heavy dose of melodic pop. I hear Queen, early Yes and pre-“Pieces of Eight” Styx. Maybe a bit “light” for true prog fans, but good stuff for those who want more than virtuosity and complex time signatures. “Kayla” is just a beautiful song. (7/10)

Day 22: War – The World is a Ghetto (40th anniversary edition) (2012) – This release went to No. 1 in 1973, a few weeks after its release, and was the top-selling album in the United States in 1973. Even at that, as I listen to it now, it’s one of the hipper records in my collection from that time. Funk/soul/Latin/jam band sounds, performed by a multi-cultural act, and a lot of the country got it. Three of the four bonus tracks are great. The generic “58 Blues” is filler. (9/10)

Day 23: The Trews – Hope and Ruin (2011) – Solid pop-rock, emphasis on rock. You’d never guess by the vocal drawls that these guys are from Toronto. Enough harmonies to keep the vocals interesting, and enough head-banging to remind you that you’re listening to rock. Solid. (8/10)

Day 24: The Left Banke – There’s Gonna Be a Storm: The Complete Recordings 1966–1969 (1992) – The band that had a hit with “Walk Away Renee” and perfected baroque rock, using strings and borrowing classical elements for their pop songs. (Love the harpsichord.) Many of the cuts here could easily replace many radio hits by contemporaries of their time. Why was “Lazy Day” never a hit single? (8/10)

Day 25: Breaking Benjamin – Phobia (2006) – I understand why I stayed away from this “alternative metal” when it came out – I was just oversaturated with the sound at the time. That said, listening now, I understand the appeal. This is surprisingly melodic for the genre, and while the general sound is a wash I find kind of boring, the riffs and solos are often appealing. (7/10)

Day 26: Jimi Hendrix Experience – Live at Monterey (2007) – A valuable release of the 1967 show. Like many acts from the Monterey festival, Hendrix’s appearance is too often truncated to brief snippets, so to have the whole thing together is a treasure. And we get his fantastic introduction to “Like a Rolling Stone:” “”Right now I’d like to do a little thing, uh, by Bob Dylan. That’s his grandmother over there.” (8/10)

Day 27: Miss Li – Singles and Selected (2012) – If you’ve heard one Miss Li song, you know whether you’ll like this album. Simple upbeat pop, sung in her little-girl voice. It’s the kind of pop that annoys some. I love it. If you like her iPod commercial song “Bourgeois Shangri-La,” you’ll find the rest of the songs here are similar if not quite as infectious. But where oh where is “Dirty Old Man”? (7/10)

Day 28: Paper Lace – First Edition (1972) – Before they had an international hit with “The Night Chicago Died” and a UK hit with “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” they recorded this, a collection of bland originals and blandly arranged covers. Collectors of wrong-headed Dylan covers will embrace the version of “Like a Rolling Stone” included here. (3/10)

Day 29: The Libertines – Up the Bracket (2002) – Their second album was No. 12 on my list of favorites in 2004. This is the sound a number of British bands were making at the time – 1960s-style arrangements with harmonies, catchy tunes all. Not as good as “The Libertines,” but good, and sad to consider what could have been. (7/10)

Day 30: Black Sabbath – California Jam 1974 – Their set in front of a quarter-million people at the music festival. Singer Ozzy Osbourne seems to be having a good time, and (as those of us from his time will tell you) he could actually sing pretty well. The bass and drums are under-recorded, but it’s a solid set. (7/10)

Day 31: Röyksopp – Junior (2009) – Everything I hear from this Norwegian band is interesting. Techno-pop, with an emphasis on pop. It’s that mix of genres and insistence on song structures and melodies that make this more interesting to me than the stuff that just emphasizes beats and beats per minute. (7/10)

Day 32: David Torn, Mick Karn, Terry Bozzio – Polytown (2000) – Not my thing. As the title suggests, lots of polyrhythms and atonal experiments, and no straightforward rock or pop. This is even further out than experimental jazz. I think Bozzio is great, but will go to some of his other work for pleasure. (3/10)

Day 33: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – B.M.R.C. (2000) – Not sure what had me steering clear of these guys for so long. Maybe I just find the name silly, I don’t know. But this sounds like it comes straight out of that foreboding over-saturated guitar sound from the late 80s and early 90s. It may not be something I go back to much, but I didn’t reach to skip tracks or see how far along the disc was, either. (6/10)

Day 34: Ice Cream Hands – Sweeter Than the Radio (1999) – Some fantastic power pop from Australia. They lean a little bit toward the country-folky kind of power pop feel, but the melodies are still bright, the songs up-tempo and the harmonies tight. (7/10)

Day 35: Bauhaus – Gotham (1999) – As much as I like some of their work, all I could think of while listening to this was the scores of goth kids who would be playing it and loving its foreboding as they applied their makeup. Which is more a review of the audience than the music and isn’t fair, but it’s also not fair to release concert CDs that feature monologues over dull music. Find their studio stuff first. (3/10)

Day 36: Little Feat – Raw Tomatos (2002) – A collection of unreleased live cuts spanning the band’s career. As such, it’s not going to appeal to anyone top to bottom. And the recordings’ quality is, as expected, mixed. My preference is the early Lowell George material. Others’ choices may vary. (6/10)

Day 37: Golden Earring – Eight Miles High (1969) – Oh dear. While they were finding their identity, the “Radar Love” lads released this, which includes a 19-minute version of the title cut. It starts pleasantly enough but degenerates, with a drum solo that sounds like you’re riding inside a car with a flat tire, and a contender for the most rudimentary and annoying bass work in music history. (2/10)

Day 38: Pilot to Bombardier – Juliet on Fire Keep Clear (2012) – A collection of mid-tempo songs with classic 1965 Dylan instrumentation, sung by a Neil Young sound-alike with harmonies by an Emmylou Harris sound-alike. It should all work for me, but it doesn’t. The lyrics and tempos are simply too bland. (3/10)

Day 39: Dambuilders – Ruby Red (1995) – Grungy power pop that should have fit in well with its contemporaries at the time (Better Than Ezra, Presidents of the United States of America). This holds up well – toe-tapping, melodic, and rocking. They should be better known. (7/10)

Day 40: T’Pau – Red (1998) – As opposed to the pop-rock they broke through with in the late 1980s, this sounds more like a polished 21st-century female country singer effort. As such, it’s certainly passable entertainment, but nothing special. Carol Decker has a fine voice, but doesn’t have anything special in the songs here. (3/10)

Day 41: Monophonics – In Your Head (2012) – Old-time soul/funk, straight out the 1970s. You’d feel comfortable slotting this alongside your Curtis Mayfield and Earth Wind and Fire albums. I’m going to check out some more. (7/10)

Day 42: Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge (2012) – Wow. An overwhelmingly solid mix of psychedelia and pop, at home even more in the late 1960s than now. Swirling masses of instrumentation, and some outstanding guitar solos. “She Brings the Sunlight” is one of the best songs in recent memory. (9/10)

Day 43: Hotlegs – You Didn’t Like It Because You Didn’t Think of It (2012) – A compilation of the early 1970s recordings of the band that became 10cc. You can hear what would become 10cc, and it’s fascinating to track a band’s recording maturity like you’re able to do here. For archivists, maybe, but still worthwhile. (6/10)

Day 44: Donald Fagen – Sunken Condos (2012) – It sounds like Steely Dan, but a Steely Dan that’s run out of ideas. It’s kind of jazzy, more up-tempo than expected, but more bland than necessary. Admire Fagen for continuing to put forth the effort instead of coasting on his Steely Dan retirement account. But only completists need the album. (5/10)

Day 45: Al Jardine – A Postcard From California (2011) – Al Jardine contributed some vital stuff to The Beach Boys in his time, so it’s difficult to be too harsh on this. It sounds, though, like a Beach Boys tribute band, and all the guests in the world (including Neil Young, Brian Wilson and Alec Baldwin) don’t make it anything more. (4/10)

Day 46: Beach Boys – Capitol Punishment (1995) – A collection of unreleased outtakes from the “Today” and “Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!)” albums in 1964 and 1965. Your patience for alternate versions and vocal-less backing tracks and listening to the boys messing around in the studio may wear thin. For me, this is gold. Includes the infamous “I’m a genius too” battle between Beach Boys father Murry Wilson and his son Brian. (8/10)

Day 47: Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show – Sloppy Seconds (1972) – Stick with the hits packages. Apart from “The Cover of Rolling Stone,” these songs lack charm, subtlety and sometimes even melody. If someone tries to convince you that hack crudity in music is a recent occurrence, give this a spin for them. (2/10)

Day 48: The Residents – Baby Sex (1971) – One of the band’s unreleased pieces, it’s easy to understand how this failed to get them a record deal. It’s just as easy to understand how their specific weirdness found its audience. This is strange, a deconstruction that borders on unlistenable if your ear is tuned to pop, and is fantastic if you’re the adventurous sort. (7/10)

Day 49: Anneke Van Giersbergen – Everything is Changing (2013) – The former heavy metal singer (from The Gathering) goes the Paramore/Evanescence route of hard poppy melodies. She doesn’t have overwhelming range, but knows how to showcase her skills. Enjoyable. (7/10)

Day 50: V.V. Brown – Travelling Like the Light (2010) – Always entertaining and sometimes exceptional (“L.O.V.E.”) on the up- and mid-tempo stuff, right in Gin Wigmore territory, leaning a bit more toward 1960s girl group sounds. But the ballads? Bad. (7/10)

Day 51: Blackmore’s Night – Fires at Midnight (2001) – More of their interesting blend of folk, rock and Renaissance sound, which is an acquired taste for many, including me. This is solid for what it is, and includes a version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” that makes you feel like Dylan would have fit in perfectly in the 1500s. (5/10)

Day 52: Robin Trower – Roots and Branches (2013) – Blues material, including lots of cover versions. The first two cuts are “Hound Dog” and “The Thrill is Gone.” This feels like a step backward for Trower and not in a good way. While there’s no longer a radio format that really suits him, his recent work has been solid and original. That would be preferable to this, which isn’t bad, merely disappointing. (5/10)

Day 53: Ocean Colour Scene – Painting (2013) – Two years ago, they worked their way into my heart with a perfect tribute to the styles of 10cc and early 1970s Paul McCartney. This time around, they’re channeling Moody Blues, only not as melodic or lyrically tight. (6/10)

Day 54: Mike Oldfield – The Songs of Distant Earth (2008) – I’m generally not a fan of new age music, finding it designed to be soulless background music intended to soothe and not challenge, and that’s not what I want out of music. That said, these instrumentals (with some chanting) are more enjoyable than I expected it to be, and while soothing, it also has its share of soul, and at times is quite moving. (7/10)

Day 55: The Lemon Clocks – Now is the Time (2012) – Affable jangle pop, even if the songs are a bit slight. They’re putting forth a winning effort. “Gum On My Shoe” proves there is an endless list of subjects for songs. (6/10)

Day 56: Neil Diamond – Hot August Night (2012 40th anniversary reissue) – If you’re a completist, you have this already. It’s the full performance from a 1972 show at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, back at a time when Diamond could put “Sweet Caroline” early in the set and people knew there was still more good stuff coming. It’s easy to think of Diamond as middle-of-the-road entertainment, but this hearkens to a time when he was a little edgier. This reissue adds four songs not on the original release. (7/10)

Day 57: The Tattle Tales – Hearts in Tune (2006)/Moon Glasses EP (2010) – Sadly broken up now, this power pop/punk pop group had memorable melodies taken at a breakneck pace, complete with amusing lyrics and tight harmonies. The full-length gets the nod because of the fantastic “Lucky Girl.” (Hearts in Tune 8/10; Moon Glasses 7/10)

Day 58: Curtis Mayfield – Short Eyes (1977)/Do It All Night (1978) – The “Short Eyes” soundtrack works as both a soundtrack and as a solid 70s soul album, the kind of stuff that was done before disco. “Do It All Night” shows soul master Mayfield trying too hard to match the sound of the times, and with weaker songs to boot. “Short Eyes” stands up surprisingly well to repeated listens. (Short Eyes 8/10, Do It All Night 5/10)

Day 59: Nightwish – Oceanborn (1998) – Sure, combining operatic female vocals with prog-rock/metal music might sound ridiculous. But this band does it with style and commits. The only fault is a similarity in style from song to song. But this should delight the hearts of most progressive rock lovers. (7/10)

Day 60: Bob Marley – Exodus “Scratch” Sessions (1977) – Roughs of some of the cuts that found their way to one of Marley’s greatest albums. Few differences from the released tracks, which are mainly merely cleaner and slightly more polished sonically. It’s music always worth revisiting. (8/10)

Day 61: Dream Theatre – Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009) – Spectacular playing, of course, but you expect nothing else from these guys. As is the case (too often) for more me with prog-rock, I’d rather listen to the music than try to decipher the lyrics, or (too often) sometimes even simply hear the lyrics. (7/10)

Day 62: Frank Zappa – Understanding America (2012) – I enjoy Zappa compilations for the opportunity to hear his songs in a new context. And this has an extended 20-plus minute version of his musique concrete piece “Porn Wars.” This collection of his social and personal observations is interesting, but I’m not sure at whom it’s aimed. I wouldn’t recommend it as an entry point. (7/10)

Day 63: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – Texas Flood (2013 “30th anniversary collection) – Hard to go wrong with this one. The studio album is a classic, and the live show added (which I haven’t previously heard) is smoking, especially the swinging “Little Wing/Third Stone From The Sun” medley that closes it. If you’re a newcomer to Vaughan, this is a great place to start. (8/10)

Day 64: The Cheese – Flip Your Lid (1996) – A mash of styles, from melodic metal to folk rock to power pop. There’s really not a bad song here, although give their schizophrenic stylings, it’s easy (but still sad) to see how they would have fallen through the cracks. (7/10)

Day 65: Pink Floyd – The Pigs on the Planet (2005) – An odd compilation of “Wish You Were Here” tracks from a 1977 show with some rehearsals and “bonus tracks.” Nothing from “Animals,” despite the title. Guitar player David Gilmour is on fire in the 1977 show. And that comes from someone who prefers Roger Waters. (8/10)

Day 66: Alphabet Backwards – Little Victories (2012) – Competently composed and played modern indie rock. It will appeal to fans on the genre. While its charms reveal themselves under repeated listens, there’s little to make it rise above average for anyone else. (6/10)

Day 68: George Harrison – Cloud Nine rough mixes (1987) – It’s nice to revisit this, especially remembering how much I enjoyed the album when it came out – it sounded like Harrison was having fun again. That said, only the most fanatical will notice significant differences between this and the official version. I do not. (7/10)

Day 69: Zappa – Buffalo, Nov. 15, 1974 – This isn’t my favorite Zappa era. But they’re in good form here, and having fun. This features what may be the best “Yellow Snow” medley I’ve heard. The studio version is the weakest. “RDNZL” features some interesting variations too. (8/10)

Day 70: Scarlette Fever – Medication Time (2011) – This British singer is a throwback to 80s MTV female rock/pop. She’s not as rocky as she imagines, and probably too rocky for the pop market she’s aiming for. Like those 80s MTV performers, anyone could probably find two or three songs here they’d really like, and the rest is listenable. Too much sheen for my taste. (6/10)

Day 71: Paul McCartney – Good Times Comin’ (1994) – An extremely nice collection of oddball unreleased tracks covering approximately 1974 to 1986, including a lot of stuff I’d never heard before – a complete “Suicide” demo and an alternate version of “Sally G,” for starters. The guy oozes talent, especially when he’s trying. (8/10)

Day 72: Dexateens – Singlewide (2009) – An enjoyable laid-back blend of twang, steel guitar and shuffle. It’s not going to change the world, nor is it aspiring to. Sounds like it could be some guys on the porch across the street playing some country-folk. Glad to have enjoyed this, especially since I picked it up mistakenly thinking it might be a reunion album by an early-80s band with a similar name (The X-Teens). (7/10)

Day 73: The Beatles – Pepper Naked Vol. 1 (1967/2005) – A collection of separate channels from the “Sgt. Pepper” stereo album’s first side. Nice to have this coming out of both speakers. I grew up listening to the left and right channels of the album independently, trying to figure out what they were doing. I need to find Vol. 2. (9/10)

Day 74: Metric – Synthetica (2012) – Metric is clearly designed around the vocal talents of Emily Haines. It’s somehow too easy for me to forget how much I like the band’s sound, electronic pop with decidedly dark undertones. Delicious. (8/10)

Day 75: Tegan and Sara – The Con (2007) – I expected something folky, and was pleasantly surprised how much pop was here. They’d have fit in well in the early days of New Wave with this kind of sound, and with a 14-song album with an average song length under 2:40. Perpetually engaging. (7/10)

Day 76: Orianthi – Heaven in This Hell (2013) – A schizophrenic blend of styles, from Stevie Ray Vaughan-ish blues to AOR pop to some of the stuff that passes for country these days. As such, this album will appeal best to those with those same kind of schizophrenic tastes. The title cut and some of the other places where she shreds are great. As for some of the rest, one Miranda Lambert is enough, thanks. (6/10)

Day 77: Nine Times Blue – Falling Slowly (2012) – Pleasant enough power pop, leaning a bit toward alt-rock and maybe a little more comfortable in the early 1990s than now. Fans of the power pop genre will be pleased, but nothing rises to the level of spectacular. (6/10)

Day 78: John Lennon – Alternate Mind Games and Shaved Fish (1976?) – A compilation of roughs, demos and outtakes from Lennon’s solo career. “Mind Games” (one of my favorite Lennon songs) is fantastic pre-effects, and the alternate restyling of ‘Power to the People” is fascinating. Other tracks are well-traveled on the underground circuit. (8/10)

Day 79: Parlotones – Journey Through the Shadows (2012) – Almost epic indie pop-rock. They’re trying hard to play U2-style stadium rock, and a few times, if you’re not listening to closely, they might convince you they’re there. It’s not as substantial as you’d like it to be, but it won’t offend your ears. (6/10)

Day 80: Steve Kilbey – The Idyllist (2013) – This sounds to me in places like something from the Rolling Stones in the late 1960s. Elsewhere, Kilbey’s space-rock feel is well in evidence. Kudos to the guy for operating on the edges of the recording industry and still making a go of it. Quality wins out. This is top-notch stuff. (8/10)

Day 81: The Mavericks – In Time (2013) – The interesting thing about the title is how above time The Mavericks are. This album could easily have been recorded 50 years ago, and that’s a compliment. Raul Malo is one of the great male voices in popular music. Check “Come Unto Me” (or “Ven Hacia Me”). (9/10)

Day 82: Throwback Suburbia – Shot Glass Souvenir (2013) – Another great example of top notch power pop. Solid melodies and songs, all competently performed. Fans of the genre should be on this already. (7/10)

Day 83: Traffic – Adacemy of Music, New York, Jan. 14, 1972 (early and late shows) – They have great chops, and this is a good listen, even when they curiously play some songs slower than the studio versions. But they have the between-songs charisma of someone tuning a guitar. (7/10)

Day 84: Lily Frost – Do What You Love (2012) – Upbeat and up-tempo folk. Positive life advice wrapped in a girl group sheen. Frost has one of those effortlessly wide-ranging voices, and you can hear her stopping just short of smiling as she sings. Good fun. (7/10)

Day 85: Uakti – Beatles (2012) – This Brazilian instrumental band deconstructs songs from The Beatles’ later period. They make their own instruments, which is why this sounds so distinct, and they’ve been a unit for 35 years, which is why this sounds so distinct. Perfect album if you ever thought, “I wonder what ‘Get Back’ would sound like played on doorbells?” Which is meant as a good thing. (8/10)

Day 86: Smile – A Flash in the Night (2012) – Largely instrumental, up-tempo and listenable. Or, as allmusic.com accurately describes it, “slightly off-kilter modern pop.” A nice bit of variety for those who can handle music without singing. (7/10)

Day 87: David Bowie – The Next Day (2013) – A pleasant surprise first because I never expected any more new Bowie music. But what he’s released is surprisingly listenable, and if it doesn’t break any new ground, it’s at least got enough variety and quality that repeated spins were a good thing, not a chore. (7/10)

Day 88: The Marshall Tucker Band – Way Out West! Live From San Francisco September 1973 (2010) – Compared with some of their Southern rock kin, The Marshall Tucker Band emphasized rock more. Like those kinsmen, they loved to stretch out, which is just what they do here, with songs topping 8 minutes. All quality. At their best, they were mesmerizing. (8/10)

Day 89: Tomahawk – Oddfellows (2013) – Alternative melodic metal, featuring Faith No More singer Mike Patton. He’s not stretching as much here as he has previously, so it’s more straightforward than one might expect. Listenable, and when it’s good it’s very good. Patton backers have been disappointed, though. (5/10)

Day 90: Zappa – Berlin, Germany, March 4, 1976 – I wish I had more from this edition of Zappa’s bands. These guys tear it up. This is notable for a stunning 21-minute “Black Napkins,” and a 16-minute “Chunga’s Revenge.” Zappa’s greatest rock combo. (9/10)

Day 91: Sea of Bees – Orangefarben (2012) – From that pop genre where the ethereal and gorgeous female vocals are airy, the music is soft, and the drums are hidden in the music as if the producer is scared of them. All right, for fans of the style. (6/10)

Day 92: Passion Pit – Gossamer (2012) – The problem with many electronic pop albums is the lack of variety. So while they might have a fantastic song or two – and this one has the great “Take a Walk” – the lack of variety puts and emphasis on the lack of quality. (4/10)

Day 93: Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble – In The Nick of Time. Live 2003 (2012) – You can definitely tell it’s Wakeman if you’re even a passing fan of his Yes keyboard work. I’m not familiar with all of his catalog, so to hear some vocals was a pleasant surprise. A well-recorded and well-performed live kind-of best-of. (7/10)

Day 94: The Residents – George and James (American Composer Series – Volume 1) (1984) – It’s easy to see why the experimental group abandoned its planned 10-volume series. It’s predictable and almost cliche at spots. They did a better job five years later with Elvis Presley and ‘The King & Eye.” (5/10)

Day 95: The Beatles – Girl Outtakes (1965) – Roughs, demos and alternate takes from “Rubber Soul.” I’d heard most of this in various places before, but there is some scattered studio chat that’s new to me. My favorite Beatle bootleg period is 1965-67 – they were still getting along, and they were continually experimenting. (7/10)

Day 96: ZZ Top – La Futura (2012) – Sometimes they’ve had a little pop sheen, but most of the time they’re just a li’l ol’ blues trio, and that’s what this sounds like. A band that could just keep doing similar things for as long as they stay alive. If early Top makes you happy, this might be an even better follow-up to “Tres Hombres.” (6/10)

Day 97: The Jeff Healey Band – House on Fire (2013) – This posthumous release is a collection of songs recorded for a couple of earlier albums. It’s easy enough to hear why they were left unreleased, although the disc is backloaded with two great tunes at the end. Some of Healey’s solos are tasty, but the song selection may leave you shaking your head. (4/10)

Day 98: Paul McCartney (and Wings) – The Complete Alternate Red Rose Speedway (recorded 1972) – McCartney’s most criminally under-recognized period. You could even argue he released the weakest material. This includes alternate takes, different mixes and plenty of unreleased brilliance. (9/10)

Day 99: Black Debbath – Nei, nå får det faen meg være rock! Akademisk stoner-rock (2013) – A singer who alternately sounds like a young Ozzy Osbourne or Jack White, supported by empathetic 21st century metal. Sung in Swedish. I can’t understand a word (only slightly more garbled to me than English-sung metal). Fantastic. (7/10)

Day 100: Universal Trilogy – Pop Crisis (2012) – A Greek “indie electronic band,” I’ve read. Reminds me of Shriekback, my favorite 80s band, just not as dark and bottom heavy. Inventive rhythmic electronic pop. You might hear a less annoying Duran Duran. (9/10)

Day 101: The Little Black Dress – Spotlight (2012) – Up-tempo, guitar-based, driving rhythms, intelligent lyrics – like someone looked into my head and made an album perfect for my tastes. This is what Elvis Costello would sound like if he were starting today (expect for the %^@& Autotune). (10/10)

Day 102: Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective – I don’t need seven CDs of Duane Allman’s work, especially some of the faceless studio work where others hear brilliance I do not. But as a tribute to his work ethic, and a place to show that when he shone, he was brilliant, this is top-notch. (7/10)

Day 103: Barefoot Dance of the Sea – Beneath Closed Eyes (2012) – The very definition of pure folk music. Three females with well-polished harmonies and acoustic guitars, sounding like they’re in your living room. A little too twee and precious for my taste, but fans of the style will enjoy it. (5/10)

Day 104: Bleached – Ride My Heart (2013) – A cross between 1970s punk lite and 1960s girl groups with more variety and quality songs than either period implies. I’m not always a fan of low-fi garage band production, but it works here. Never boring. “Searching Through the Past” is a really nice song. (7/10)

Day 105: Beach Fossils – Clash the Truth (2013) – A mish-mash of some of the most annoying traits of indie pop with none of the inspiration. Dull songs, poorly recorded. (3/10)

Day 106: Ultrasound – Play for Today (2012) – Despite a weak middle stretch, this opens and closes strong. I had “Goodbye Baby, Amen” and “Deus Ex Natura” on a loop for a while. A nice epic type of British melodic harder guitar-based pop. (7/10)

Day 107: Wilson Pickett – The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966); In Philadelphia (1970) – “Exciting” can understandably be mistaken for a greatest hits album. The others don’t leave you thinking they’re filled with undiscovered classics, but if you like his rawer soul (“In the Midnight Hour,” “Land of 1000 Dances”), you’ll be pleased. (Exciting 8/10; In Philadelphia 6/10)

Day 108: Rain – Norsk Suite (2012) – Recorded (by unreleased) in the early 1970s by a Norwegian psych-rock band. Their mix of tunes (prog rock, jazz fusion, Beatles covers) show no fixed idea of what they wanted to be, which probably prevented them from getting a deal, and makes this collection suffer despite their skills. (4/10)

Day 109: Siskiyou – Keep Away the Dead (2011) – Banjos and a high-pitched whiny twang don’t make you Neil Young. Neither does covering a Neil Young song, however much you might want it to. Young has melodies, and a rocking soul. Not these guys. (3/10)

Day 110: Frank Zappa – The String Quartet (Fullerton, Calif., Nov. 8, 1968) – A live show featuring a guest appearance by Wild Man Fischer, which adds to the freak show, if not the entertainment quality. What I like best is their version of “Bacon Fat.” (7/10)

Day 111: Paul McCartney – Seems Like Old Times (2005) – A collection of true demos – most of these are McCartney alone, or with wife Linda, or with electronics. This has the most fun version of “Oobu Joobu” I’ve heard. But they’re still extremely rough, unfinished versions. (7/10)

Day 112: Lindsay Stirling (2012) – Her classical violin stylings are fine, yes, but it’s the combination with the dance backbeats (and the variety in the programming there) that makes this something special. Patrons of classical or dance who think a crossover is impossible might be surprised. (8/10)

Day 113: Buck Owens – Honky Tonk Man: Buck Sings Country Classic (2013) – Owens is one of the defining voices of country music. These are previously unreleased covers he did for the TV program “Hee Haw,” and more often than not, he makes the songs his own. Pricelessly fantastic. (9/10)

Day 114: Coma – Don’t Set Your Dogs on Me (2013) – Melodic heavy metal from Poland. Top notch. I normally don’t go for the growly voice and kinda complex arrangement stuff, but for some reason this punches me in a great way. One of my favorite albums this year. (8/10)

Day 115: Dawes – Stories Don’t End (2013) – Taylor Goldsmith knows his way around writing songs and playing some nice guitar. The problem is, they’re much better live. Each song here offers something special, but it’s amped up in concert. It’s unfair to the band that I’m judging this album based on their shows, but I’m glad I’ve seen them live too. (5/10)

Day 116: Delusion Squared – II (2012) – A French prog rock band with a female vocal. They have a good idea what they’re doing, and the embryo of ideas are in place. They just haven’t reached the next level, where they pull together a transcendent song or two. They could still do it. (4/10)

Day 117: Elizabeth & The Catapult – The Other Side of Zero (2010) – Well done, with superb front-loading. Intelligent lyrics married to extremely pleasant vocals by Elizabth Ziman. Walks the line between adult contemporary and modern alternative pop well enough to not offend purists in either. “The Horse and the Missing Cart” is catchy and terribly clever. (8/10)

Day 118: Beatles Remixers Group – Abbey Road Remix (2005) – This Internet collective regularly re-works Beatles songs. This collection is typical – some misses, but some incredible hits/ Check out the version of “The End” here. It incorporates more than a dozen other Beatles songs. (8/10)

Day 119: Eric Woolfson – Sings Alan Parsons Project That Never Was (2009) – Woolfson is the voice behind many Alan Parsons Project hits, and based on the title, this aspires to more of the same. However, it’s less adventurous than Parsons albums, and feels mostly like songs that would have been buried as deep cuts on those efforts. (4/10)

Day 120: Arena – Immortal? (2000) – Critically acclaimed effort from an influential British prog rock band that had more success in Europe than here. When they go the ballad route, they’re kind of insufferable, but when they turn on the prog rockets, they’re quite a lot of fun. (7/10)

Day 121: Southern Hospitality – Easy Livin (2013) – A very Little Feat feel, right down to what could be a 21st century version of a Little Feat album cover. Shuffle boogie, with a tinge of country. No songs leap out, but none are ‘must skip’ either. (5/10)

Day 122: The Complete Roger Nichols & the Small Circle of Friends (1999) – The very definition of 1960s easy listening pop. This appeals to some as “sunshine pop,” but the all-too-polite group sings don’t do it for me at all. Listening to their takes on a pair of Beatles songs (one in two different versions) is easy listening pain. (3/10)

Day 123: Ray Collins Hot-Club – High Life (2013) – Newly produces throwback swing jazz from some European young folks. They have the feel, the sense of fun and there’s no tongue-in-cheek or irony. Check out the title track and “Chicken 4 2.” (8/10)

Day 124: Rolling Stones – Goats Head Soup Sessions (1973) – It’s always been hard for me to believe they weren’t making some of this up as they went along anyway, so “demos” isn’t really a description. These are barely alternate mixes and instrumentals, for completists only. Although anything with “Waiting on a Friend” can’t be all bad. (3/10)

Day 125: Oshari – Samurai (2008) – This exotic-sounding piece featuring Asian zithers and banjos and flutes is the very definition of “New Age.” If that sounds exciting, by all means, dive in. My palate is not sophisticated enough for me to tell whether this is good or bad. And I do not care to learn. (2/10)

Day 126: Martin Zellar & The Hardways – Roosters Crow (2012) – Countrified Americana, delivered competently. But is it too much to ask for a sense of humor? (I know he has one. I loved The Gear Daddies.) Is it too much to ask for the occasional change of tempo? (4/10)

Day 127: Guano Padano (2009) – A hybrid of surf rock, a little country and some spaghetti Western soundtrack tossed in. Mostly instrumentals. if the description intrigues you, explore further, or you might already own it. (7/10)

Day 128: The Beatles – 8 Tracks 8 Tracks Something (1969) – A collection of versions of songs from “Abbey Road” from assorted sources. I like these collections more than the day-by-day “Let It Be” discs, and this includes a version of “I Want You” I hadn’t heard. But it also includes a 17-minute take of Paul McCartney teaching the band “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” that helps me understand why John Lennon hated the song so much. (8/10)

Day 129: Jackie DeShannon – Keep Me In Mind: The Complete Imperial and Liberty Singles, Volume 3 (2012) – One of rock’s sadly overlooked fantastic singer-songwriters. This covers her late 60s period, features her wonderful “Love Will Find a Way,” has her biggest hit (“Put a Little Love in Your Heart”), has mixes that were pulled, and includes a great version of “It’s All in the Game.” You really can’t go wrong with Jackie DeShannon collections. (8/10)

Day 130:The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Get Back in the Van (2013) – A free live album download from one of the goofiest and worthwhile bands of the ’90s. The humor is intact, and it’s still surprising how many ideas were loaded into every song on their first album. (7/10)

Day 131: The Keith Tippett Group – Dedicated to You But You Weren’t Listening (1971) – Free-form jazz, with a little rock and blues thrown in. This is the kind of free jazz that sounds to me like the band picked up each others’ instruments and played what they wanted for a few minutes. I just can’t hear it. (2/10)

Day 132: XTC – In Motion (1989) – An unauthorized collection of BBC recordings from early in their career, when they were a punk band with a few more chops that their average peers, and then some demos from a couple of years later, when they clearly had progressed beyond their peers. A schizophrenic but fascinating collection. (7/10)

Day 133: Ann Wilson – Hope and Glory (2007) – A collection of covers by Heart’s lead singer. While she doesn’t do carbon copies, some of the arrangement choices are just odd. But Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is interesting, and Elton John’s “Where to Now St. Peter” would have fit perfectly on early Heart albums. (5/10)

Day 134: Geronimo Black (1972) – A group of former Frank Zappa sidemen (they became The Grandmothers in the 1990s.) Zappa’s influence is present, but they bring plenty of other things to the table – R&B, rock, avant garde. Repeated listening reveals both how much and how little is here. (6/10)

Day 135: Matt Hill and the Deep Fryed 2 – Tappin’ That Thang (2012) – An unlikely combination of rockabilly, R&B and Stax/Volt that’s entertaining and enthusiastic and some of the most poorly recorded drums in years. There were times I suspected this was actually mid-1960s vintage, which is a compliment. (6/10)

Day 136: The High Llamas – Talahomi Way (2011) – This is probably the best of Sean O’Hagan’s tributes to late-60s-era Brian Wilson. They don’t come along often enough. The care in the recording as well as mimicking the style is fantastic. If you don’t like “Pet Sounds” musically, stay away from this. (8/10)

Day 137: Los Lobos – Kiko Live (2012) – A delayed release of a 2006 show where the band played their entire classic “Kiko” album, released for the album’s 20th anniversary. The songs are looser with extended solos in a few cases. It’s a reminder of how spectacular this album was and is. (8/10)

Day 138: Be Easy – I Hope You Hear Me (2012) – This skater punk pop may be a little out of fashion now, but I’ve always had a weakness for it. Driving, fast, guitar-based pop-rock. The only complaint is the 28-minute running time, but better 10 solid songs and short than adding three or four more and diminishing the quality. (7/10)

Day 139: Elton John – Brittle as a Bird (1993) – Live takes, demos and radio recordings of songs John rarely performs. As such, it’s an interesting dig deep in his catalog. And give the “rarities” nature, the low fidelity, while irritating, is still understandable. (7/10)

Day 140: Freddy Cannon – At Palisades Park (1962)/Steps Out (1963) – There are some great efforts here apart from Cannon’s biggest hit. But there are also stumbles along the way, like a medley of early 20th century song tarted up with a frenzied tempo so it will appeal to “the kids.” By all evidence here, Cannon was a one-trick pony vocally, and the non-“Pallisades Park” good stuff came more by accident than design, however much of a rocker he was. (At Palisades Park 4/10; Steps Out 3/10)

Day 141: Gallon Drunk – The Road Gets Darker From Here (2012) – They’re a Nick Cave-wannabe with monotone vocals and poorly recorded drums. It’s a mess, and it’s not for me, however attractive the tempos might seem. (3/10)

Day 142: Zoogz Rift – Amputees in Limbo (1982) – This is kind of like discovering a whole new Frank Zappa, well after the fact. Rift is a devotee with his own take on spoken-word combined with progressive-ish rock riffs. Docked a grade for a song that, unlike the audio quality elsewhere, sounds like a terrible recording off a wax cylinder. (7/10)

Day 143: Rebecca Pidgeon – Behind the Velvet Curtain (2008) – Classic. In parts Norah Jones and Joni Mitchell and Liz Phair, this rises above all its styles and those to whom it’s paying tribute and/or imitating to brilliance. At least four classic tracks, from the title cut to “That’s Life, That’s Hollywood” and “Long Island Poem,” with the exclamation point being a one-voice unplugged cover of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” (10/10)

Day 144: Harry Nilsson – Legendary (2000) – A two-disc, non-chronological best-of. While the time- and style-hopping might be confusing to a newcomer, it also shows off Nilsson’s fantastic blend of influences. And of course, his voice always wins out. For veterans, some songs jump out here in a new context. (For me, it’s “Blanket for a Sail.”) And this includes the full seven-minute version of “Jump Into the Fire.” And too many of his covers of standards. (7/10)

Day 145: Ten Years After – Winterland, San Francisco, Aug. 4, 1975 – One of the last dates the band played in the 1970s. They’re far from worn out, though, as they charge through a well-honed set. This is essentially “Recorded Live” with a few variations, and they may not be clearly having as much fun as during other sets. Still, a tight show. (7/10)

Day 146: Elvis Costello – London BBC May 14, 1980 – One of Costello’s rare band dates without a keyboard player. We rely on an extra guitar and our imagination to fill the gaps. But this edition knows how to rock, and Costello’s early material definitely rocked. (9/10)

Day 147: Freddie Blassie – I Bite the Songs (1983) – An amusing six or seven minutes stretched to a half-hour. “Pencil Neek Geek” was a Dr. Demento favorite. It’s rounded out by some spoken word and some vintage TV clips featuring the pro wrestler. (2/10)

Day 148: Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (2013) – If I could remember any of these riffs, I’d be certain to recognize them when they inevitably pop up in commercials for family vehicles. Something goes wrong with almost every song. Maybe the fantastic debut was the fluke. (3/10)

Day 149: The Blondes – Swedish Heat (2003) – Current power pop at its finest, with a share of nods to 70s glam as well. They have the attitude right, and any couple of songs will tickle your ears. But there’s not enough variety in sound to keep your interest for an entire album. (6/10)

Day 150: Sunlounger – The Downtempo Edition (2011) – I was drawn in by “Aguas Blanco,” which steals Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” riff and stretches it to trippy places. The songs here with vocals are kind of painful. The music is tasty, but there are too many intrusions. (3/10)

Day 151: Shriekback, Vic Theatre, Chicago, Oct. 13, 1985/Park West, Chicago, April 23, 1987 – Moreso than most of their contemporaries, Shriekback was a different band live than in the studio. Stark and dark on record, in concert, they got much funkier. For me, it was like my favorite group had two likeable personalities. This shows that, and also shows they could forget where they were once in a while too. (1985 8/10; 1987 7/10)

Day 152: Wire – Red Barked Tree (2011) – It’s a long way from where they started back in the 1970s, but if you’ve been following along, this makes sense. Given their history, this is exactly the album you’d expect Wire to make in 2011. Nothing less, but nothing more either. (5/10)

Day 153: Frank Zappa – Boston, Oct. 6, 1971 – There’s an indescribable delight for me in listening to the assorted versions of the 30-plus-minute “Billy the Mountain” that was the centerpiece of this tour. This audience recording is slightly muddy with a bit too much echo. But you still get the idea. (7/10)

Day 154: The Trashmen – Tube City!: The Best of The Trashmen (1992) – Best defined by their novelty single “Surfin’ Bird,” the band recorded an album and a couple of singles, all collected here. The hit is fantastic, of course. The rest is some standard surf rock from the early 1960s. I’d stick with the hit. (4/10)

Day 155: Dawes – World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, March 22, 2013 – To share my appreciation for this band, I’d be more likely to hand someone a copy of this show rather than any of their studio albums. A superior live band playing a superior live show. (8/10)

Day 156: Craig Ferguson – A Big Stoatir (1990) – A standup collection from long before he hit US TV. Funny stuff, but nothing extraordinary. He does an 8-minute “Family Feud” bit. In 1989. He’s evolved powerfully. (4/10)

Day 157: Das Pop (2009) – A Belgian band which intelligently blends late 70s New Wave with 60s pop via that stretch of kind-of-popular power pop in the 1990s. Infectious and bright, although it tails off at the end. (7/10)

Day 158: Negativland – Escape from Noise (1987) / Helter Stupid (1989) – Companion pieces from these pioneers of avant-garde cut-and-paste and mash-ups. “Escape From Noise” is the intriguing, almost accessible piece. “Helter Stupid,” especially the title track, is the harrowing sequel. Made even spookier if you know the backstory. Not for everyone, but I love having my head spun with recognizable sounds rearranged. (Escape from Noise 7/10; Helter Stupid 8/10)

Day 159: Tower of Power- East Bay Grease (1970) – Their debut album shows the framework of what was to come from the funk masters of San Francisco. But it wasn’t until later that they honed the presentation to the funkier and friendlier that they came to represent. (4/10)

Day 160: Tandyn Almer- Along Comes Tandyn (2013) – A collection of late 1960s demos by the composer of The Association’s “Along Comes Mary.” Almer had the sunshine pop thing down pat, and like most except the greatest sunshine pop, this is not quite edgy enough for my tastes. Beautiful songs, but thin-sounding and lightweight in too many places. (4/10)

Day 161: Deep Purple – Now What? (2013) – Forty years past their prime, they improbably deliver one of their best albums ever. Reminiscent of “classic” Deep Purple, this is classic rock for what remains of their audience. A solid effort. (7/10)

Day 162: Crash Street Kids – Transatlantic Suicide (2008) – Like David Bowie and Mott the Hoople albums were put in a blender. Not enough people appreciate the sense of fun inherent in glam rock. These guys do. (8/10)

Day 163: Blossom Toes – We Are Ever So Clean (1967) – This is the album The Kinks would have made in the mid-60s had they bought more into psychedelia. And that’s said understanding all the good and bad it implies. That baroque feel of mid-60s British pop is almost defined in some places here. (7/10)

Day 164: Milkshake Jones – Gala Days (2007) – This would have fit in at the birth of the alt-country movement in the 1980s. Jangly guitars Roger McGuinn would be proud of, and sneering vocals Warren Zevon would be proud of. Also, a touch of power pop. (5/10)

Day 165: Lecirke – The Album (2012) – While this Spanish outfit calls itself folk, I hear more pop. The tracks kind of meld

one into the next, which isn’t a complaint. But it isn’t the greatest compliment either. It’s audio wallpaper, albeit very pleasant wallpaper. (6/10)

Day 166: Rebecca Pidgeon – Slingshot (2012) – The style shifter goes a little folkier on this release. It’s pleasant enough. But except for “Baby Please Come Home Again,” it doesn’t rise much above being background noise. (5/10)

Day 167: Pugwash – The Olympus Sound (2011) – Awash with the lighter, more pastoral side of sounds similar to XTC and ELO and the experimental melodic efforts of The Beatles. I prefer my pop with more of a backbeat, but this remains entertainingly listenable. (7/10)

Day 168: Nancy Sinatra – Sheet Music (1998) – Whether it’s the creepy “Tired of Waiting for You,” a terrible copy of her father’s reading of “Something,” or the just plain awful “Imaginary Lover,” there are terrors at every turn of this new-at-the-time collection of love songs. Run away. (1/10)

Day 169: Professor Longhair – Rock and Roll Gumbo (1977) – A posthumous release from the New Orleans rollicking piano legend. Every song is fantastic, which is almost redundant when you discuss Professor Longhair. If you want to know where rock, blues and rhythm and blues pool together into a great musical gumbo, start here. (9/10)

Day 170: Zappa – Upper Darby, Pa., Feb. 14, 1988 – An early show from “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life.” They’re working into the new songs, and “Any Kind of Pain” remains high on my list of favorite Zappa tunes. There’s also time for fun, including a 13-minute stretch at the start of the second act where the band entertains some offbeat audience requests. There’s supposed to be video of this show. I would like to see it. (9/10)

Day 171: Felt- Me and a Monkey on the Moon (1989) – The final album from the British band formed to release 10 albums and 10 singles in 10 years. This doesn’t meld dark and folk as well as their best, 1985’s “Ignite the Seven Cannons.” Vocalist Lawrence sounds fascinating like Lou Reed in spots. (6/10)

Day 172: Miss Li – Wolves (2013) – Intelligent melodic dance pop from the person I consider the queen of the genre, even if much of her work isn’t readily available in the U.S. You’ve heard her in Apple ads. This front-loaded disc is a little darker and more adult than some of her previous sunshiny efforts. But even those were darker than you probably realized. (7/10)

Day 173: Timothy B. Schmit – Expando (2009) – The fifth solo album from the late-addition bass player for Eagles. However winning the effort is, the songs are weighed down by annoying recorded percussion and weak lyrics. A cut-rate Crosby-Stills-Nash-ish work. (2/10)

Day 174: The Beatles – Most Wanted Tracks (2001) – A collection largely of what purists cal “outfakes” – two or more versions of songs cut together to make a “new” track. That matters less to me because I like hearing the songs in new contexts, which these offer. And non-fanatics would largely just find this stuff cool. (7/10)

Day 175: The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing (2008) – The kind of bubblegum lightweight dance-pop I find irresistible. “That’s Not My Name” is one of the great songs of the century. There are a couple of others here close to its class. Always listenable and entertaining. (7/10)

Day 176: Negativland – Dispepsi (1997) – This avant garde attack on commercialism and soft drinks and consumerism and marketing was probably way more profound in its day than it is now, 16 years down the line. The surprising thing is how apart from the overarching subject matter, it sounds like it could have been created this year. (6/10)

Day 176: Negativland – Dispepsi (1997) – This avant garde attack on commercialism and soft drinks and consumerism and marketing was probably way more profound in its day than it is now, 16 years down the line. The surprising thing is how apart from the overarching subject matter, it sounds like it could have been created this year. (6/10)

Day 177: Social Studies – Developer (2012) – It’s that whole indie thing of mid-tempos and monotone singing and people who seem as though they’d prefer reading or programming to playing or entertaining. If you can’t convince me you have at least a thread of passion, it’s difficult to get me interested. (3/10)

Day 178: Fountainhead – Fear is the Enemy (2013) – Classified as progressive metal, this strikes me more as as not-quite-chillout soundtrack to a horror movie you don’t want to see. Interesting experimentation, but too often it sounds like experimentation for experimentation’s sake. (3/10)

Day 179: Poco – All Fired Up (2013) – I don’t like it when people complain about an artist changing their sound. That acknowledged, this sounds like a bunch of first drafts from some band. It doesn’t sound a thing like Poco to me, which is almost as disappointing as that it doesn’t sound like anything more than competent players. (3/10)

Day 180: George Harrison – Sue Me Sue You Blues (1974) – The second show of Harrison’s 1974 tour. My patience for his creaky voice on this tour had increased the more I’ve realized Bob Dylan seems to have used it to influence the way he sings now. And while his lyric changes on Beatles songs once made me furious, they now just seem sad. (5/10)

Day 181: The Beatles – The Seven Years of Christmas (2002) – A collection of outtakes and original recordings of The Beatles’ joyful and hilarious annual Christmas recordings for their fan club. Fans like me have embraced these recordings for years, almost as much as their songs. This is a look inside the hilarity and eventual separation of their inside world. (8/10)

Day 182: Curtis Mayfield – Got To Find a Way (1974)/Sweet Exorcist (1974) – Post-“Superfly” releases, designed in a fashion to keep new material in the pipeline in its wake. These are fine, sharing the traits of Mayfield’s best 70s work (wah-wah guitar, strings, his falsetto), although the material doesn’t rise to his previous high standards. (Got To Find a Way 5/10-Sweet Exorcist 5/10)

Day 183: Buckethead – Electric Sea (2012) – No experimental shredding this time around. A largely acoustic-based melodic instrumental album, with plenty of folk and Spanish-style influences. The perfect antidote for those who listen to some of his other work and just hear noise. Coffeehouse music with plenty of soul and feeling. (9/10)

Day 184: Agnetha Faltskog – A (2013) – ABBA fans are overly excited at this collection by one of the band’s former singers. It’s her first album in nine years. It’s best defined as “mature pop,” and while she’s in fine voice, the songs bore me to tears. (2/10)

Day 185: Moxy Fruvous – May 18 1997 – In which the group I’ve seen more in concert than any other act shows how it deals with equipment, microphone and monitor mishaps. They do fine – their voices are all in the right places, tricky when you can’t hear one of four parts of harmony (and sometimes yourself). This never catches like the best Fruvous gigs did. (6/10)

Day 186: Dean Martin – Hits Again (1965)/Houston (1965) – It’s easy to picture Martin effortlessly delivering these songs between takes on a movie or television set, so smooth is the style. He’s from a different time battling the British Invasion by ignoring it. (Hits Again 5/10; Houston 6/10)

Day 187: Montana – Bubblegum Love (2001) – At times (“Girlfriend,” “Guitar and a Haircut”) they rise above the standard for late 20th century power pop bands. Other times, they’re close enough to the standard that your picky feelings will leave you either mildly pleased or mildly disappointed. (7/10)

Day 188: Sandy Denny – The North Star Grassman and the Ravens (1971 – 2011 expanded release) My experience finds Denny’s voice irresistible in any context – it’s just so pure. The demos for this laid-back traditional and folk and rock effort prove that, and make for a full artistic picture. (7/10)

Day 189: R. Dean Taylor – Indiana Wants Me (1971) – Lots of songs about running from the law and traveling to find your baby, all in tame soft-pop arrangements. Nice strings, though. Buy a compilation and get the titular hit, the worthwhile piece here. (3/10)

Day 190: Gloria Estefan – Little Miss Havana (2011) – A noble attempt at sounding contemporary. But Estefan’s Latin-tinged pop was its own thing and didn’t need AutoTune or 21st century production. One wonders if these songs would be even duller if not for the production sheen. Includes a song with bi-lingual lyrics that somehow prove to be offensive to those of all languages. (3/10)

Day 191: Nirvana – Out of the Womb (1993) – Rough mixes of cuts from the band’s “In Utero” album. “Pennyroyal Tea” is the one that sounds the most dramatically different (and improved). If you’re not fond of bootlegs, all you’ll hear are versions of songs that sound inferior to what was released. It’s riveting for collectors. (7/10)

Day 192: Zappa – Boblingen, June 23, 1982 – Many Zappa fans’ reaction to the 1982 band is based on their feeling about stunt guitarist Steve Vai. I like Vai, who helped give this group its distinct sound. At this show, Via and Zappa are on fire, especially on some of the complex pieces. (7/10)

Day 193: Jason Isbell – Southeastern (2013) – His last album felt distant, but this twang-tinged singer-songwriter with a bite effort turns it back up a notch. Isbell is generally good for at least one spectacular story song, and this album includes three – “Elephant,” “Songs That She Sang in the Shower” and “Super 8.” (8/10)

Day 194: The Datsuns – Death Rattle Boogie (2012) – I loved their debut, but was less enamored with the follow-ups, which seemed bereft of their fantastic sense of fun. That’s back. It’s loud and driving and drenched in noise and feedback, and is a spectacular lift to your spirit. (8/10)

Day 195: Death in the Afternoon – Kino (2012) – It’s kind of dreamy pop with a bit of an attempt at some vague near-dance tempos. Apparently it’s a parody of some sort, but I’m not versed enough to get the references. As this is now, it’s dreadfully dull. (2/10)

Day 196: Eric Stewart – Do Not Bend (2006) – I like his songwriting and his voice, all the way back to his 10cc days. I’m not a fan of his Caribbean-influenced efforts, and for every great song here, there are two of those. And the tempo is often somnambulistic. The quality songs are in the second half of the disc. (6/10)

Day 197: Kingdom Come – Outlier (2013) – I didn’t even realize these guys were an ongoing effort, so to hear competent classic-style rock from a singer once know for little more than aping Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant is a pleasure. While nothing jumps from the speakers, it’s also all pretty entertaining. (6/10)

Day 198: Michelle Hotaling – Chained By Dreams (2006) – What makes another pleasant-voiced woman singing pretty pop songs successful and leaves this one largely unheard remains a mystery to me. Her breakthrough should have been the album-opener, “Defy.” The rest is good, if unremarkable, and could have fit into, say, the Sara Bareilles niche. (6/10)

Day 199: P.G. Six – Slightly Sorry (2007) – This has the feel of a fine-crafted pastoral folk album created in the English countryside some time in the late 1960s, and that’s meant in a positive way. A laid-back collection of songs that doesn’t ask much but pays unexpected rewards. (7/10)

Day 200: Boys Like Girls – Crazy World (2012) – I liked their 2009 “Love Drunk,” but this drifts more toward generic mainstream pop. the heavy effects and AutoTune on vocals, the mechanical percussion, the heartfelt whisper-singing – sometimes when you reach for the mainstream, you shake off people who were on your bandwagon already. (3/10)

Day 201: Dave Edmunds – Subtle as a Flying Mallet (1975/2013 reissue) – This adds some soundtrack cuts and some B-sides to Edmunds’ painstaking recreation of 1950s and early 1960s recording techniques and sounds via covers. The bonus tracks are continuations of the theme and complete the package a little more. But if you’re not a Phil Spector/rockabilly fan, you’re not going to get much out of this anyway. (7/10)

Day 202: Lulu – A Little Soul in Your Heart (2005) – If an evening of karaoke with Lulu (“To Sir With Love”) is what you crave, this is just for you. Make sure you also want to hear poorly chosen songs (“I Thank You,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose”) better left to original artists. Or you, like me, will be saying “Oh no…” every time a new song pops up. (2/10)

Day 203: Crash Street Kids – Let’s Rock and Roll Tonite (2005) – Glam rock fans – remember how almost every band at some point got really serious at some point? That’s how Crash Street Kids started. This is their debut. Whether you liked those more mature glam attempts will determine whether you like this. The band went in the other direction later. Points, though, for a well-placed “All the Young Dudes” cover. (6/10)

Day 204: Steve Vai – The Story of Light (2012) – I’m not going to pretend I get the concept (which apparently carries over from a previous album), but Vai is a guitar star who shows off any number of entertaining styles here, from Delta blues to gospel to melodic acoustic to straight-forward rock. (8/10)

Day 205: Fixers – We’ll Be the Moon (2012) – Pop in a pastoral. late-60s Beach Boys way. It’s a little more up-tempo than most attempting this kind of thing. It’s ear candy in an earnest, indie kind of way. The songs aren’t there as completely as the mood and the sound. (5/10)

Day 206: Zombies – Extended Versions (2013) – Live versions (therefore “extended,” although usually extended by applause) from their 2012 tour. The songs are fun, and it’s impressive Colin Blunstone can still hit some of these notes. But you can pick up a collection of their studio cuts and get most of the same thing, better and cleaner. (4/10)

Day 207: Don Preston – Vile Foamy Ectoplasm (2007) – Zappa-esque rock and prog from one of Zappa’s past keyboard stars. Just the right mix of musicianship, recording tricks, seriousness and humor. Preston seems to have the perfect attitude about the reason some of his audience is there. (7/10)

Day 208: Art Garfunkel – The Singer (2012) – This might be the adult mellow pop equivalent of a Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith hits collection. The arrangements for most Garfunkel songs are sumptuous, his voice is (of course) heavenly, and boiling the career down to hits and highlights removes a lot of dross. I may not go back to this regularly, but I’m glad I have it for when I want it. (7/10)

Day 209: Professor Longhair – New Orleans Piano: Blues Originals 2 (1990) – Well, I just can’t get enough of this guy. I wish it had been easier to find his work when he was alive, when the reason I knew him was because of the Paul McCartney connection during McCartney’s “Venus and Mars” sessions. A superb definition of what New Orleans piano jazz really is. (9/10)

Day 210: Johnny Rivers – Home Grown (1971)/The Road (1974) – “Home Grown” finds Rivers mining the California singer-songwriter field, covering James Taylor, Carole King and Jackson Browne. “The Road” came after a label change, and seems a muddled stopgap while he tried to figure out where to go next. Neither are as inspired as he could be. (Home Grown 6/10; The Road 4/10)

Day 211: Julian Cope – Revolutionary Suicide (2013) – Almost a folk album from the master of the offbeat. He’s got something to say, so his voice is mixed high, and the songs don’t have a lot of adornment. But they’re still catchy and pointed. My album of the year thusfar. (10/10)

Day 212: Santana – Zebop (1981) – Unquestionably a brilliant musician, Carlos Santana has never packaged his talent in a way that draws me in. He has a knack for enlisting singers I find blander than bland. The most accurate thing to say about the vocals here is they sound like they were mailed in by any number of singers who sounded like this in 1981. And that’s not a compliment. (4/10)

Day 213: Wings – The Alternate London Town (1978) – This collection of rough mixes and incomplete takes makes one thing clear to me – I’ve really over-estimated this album through the years. There are some sweet songs here, but there’s also a pile of pieces that don’t make a complete whole. There’s a reason Paul McCartney doesn’t revisit this album much when pulling together his live setlists. This doesn’t even offer much for fans of the album looking for early song sketches or anything like that. It makes the whole album feel like a rush job. (5/10)

Day 214: Clan of Xymox – Kindred Spirits (2012) – If you need to hear a once-moody electronica-goth-type band do predictable covers (“The Cure, Joy Division, Bowie and, of course, “Creep”), then congratulations, you have a winner here. I kept waiting for something original or unexpected, and never got it. (4/10)

Day 215: Dr. Feelgood – Down By the Jetty (1975) – These guys were pub rock legends in England, playing straight-ahead rock and roll at a time when trends called for anything but that. Now, it sounds kind of workman-like, but at the time, they were rock and roll’s great hope. They inspired a lot of affection. (6/10)

Day 216: Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox (2012) – I don’t enjoy Mars as much as others – I don’t find the songs particularly interesting. That said, he has one of those throwback real voices (I hear Sting a lot, I’m not sure why), and the pieces are interesting enough to be a pleasant background even if he’s not necessarily your thing. (6/10)

Day 217: Roger Waters – Paranoids In Brisbane (Australia, Feb. 2, 2012) – I’m not sure why I get such enjoyment from assorted tapes of Waters’ “The Wall” tour. Because of tapes and special effects, the show is perfectly timed but for a couple of moments where Waters interacts a bit with the audience. Maybe it’s the memories of attending the show, or paying attention to the parts where Waters takes care to enunciate. Regardless, while often interchangable, they don’t get old. (8/10)

Day 218: Veils – Time Stays We Go (2013) – It starts like a faceless band trying to sound like U2, and switches to a fascinating blend of sophisticated pop and/or folk. I’m not sure which is the real band, but the second one is a lot more interesting. (6/10)

Day 219: Crosby Stills Nash and Young – Studio Archives 1969 – A collection of recordings that sound like rough takes and first run-throughs. It’s easy to forget how talented these guys were. And the bum notes remind you they were human. (7/10)

Day 220: Mike Scheidt – Stay Awake (2012) – An almost painfully fragile acoustic folk album – think early Neil Young, solo with his guitar. I’m not familiar with Scheidt’s history, so this is less a surprise to me than it is to his followers. It’s kind of dark and bleak, and it holds up on repeated plays. Touching and solid. (7/10)

Day 221: Helen Love – Day-Glo Dreams (2013) – Gone are the breakneck-paced crazy dance pop songs, and now she’s settling for mid-tempo pop. It’s listenable enough, but I miss the wild sense of fun from her previous work. This almost feels … serious. (4/10)

Day 222: Zappa – Cologne, Germany April 14, 1988 – Great sound – the horns are very front and center. A solid and fairly standard show from the tour. The secret word is “sheep.” It’s amazing how well they’re playing, given the turmoil behind the scenes. (8/10)

Day 223: Linda Oh – Initial Here (2012) – Jazz buffs say Oh is the real deal. And the proficiency is apparent. The pieces don’t give me many reasons to pay attention, though, and the songs with vocals are sometimes difficult listens. (5/10)

Day 224: They Might Be Giants (1986) – OK, so all my friends who claimed these guys were doing exactly what I loved, and I’d love them too if only I listened – they were right. I still think “Don’t Let’s Start” is absolutely fantastic. I’m interested to see how I’ll react to the rest of the catalog. (9/10)

Day 225: A Fragile Tomorrow – Be Nice Be Careful (2013) – Kind of like a mid-70s Jackson Browne effort with a little more twang. Fans of that California sound might be impressed. “Dropout Reunion” raises the bar. There’s nothing wrong here, certainly, but Dawes does a similar thing better. (5/10)

Day 226: Streetwalkers – Rip It Up at the Rainbow (2013) – A 1977 set from a British band that ignored its time and focus on blues and rock. While the performances are tight, the songs are lacking. And I can’t be the only person who gets tired of singer Roger Chapman’s vibrato. (4/10)

Day 227: Brian Posehn – The Fartist (2013) – Comedians negotiate aging differently. Posehn has chosen the bodily function route, as evidenced by the title of the album. Great cover, though. (3/10)

Day 228: Pink Floyd – From the Vaults (2013) – Apparently an unauthorized fan collection of some rarities, oddities and just good stuff from the catalog. Some of the material is good to have together, and other pieces (like “Free Four”) just kind of tossed in for kicks. (7/10)

Day 229: Del Close and John Brent – How to Speak Hip (1959) – Most legendary comedy albums can’t possibly live up to their reputations, but this one comes close, even 50-plus years after its release. An intellectual primer to 50s hipster slang, some of the jokes (and even some of the slang) hold up well. Worth looking into, especially for anyone under the age of 50 who thinks their generation invented deadpan and satire. (6/10)

Day 230: Zappa – Cincinnati May 13, 1973 – Road-testing some pieces that wound up on “Apostrophe(‘).” This is an interesting period of Zappa for me, as he tried to come up with a jazz and blues hybrid to meld the earlier parts of his career. The “Yellow Snow” suite is in its infancy, and parts were switched around and removed. Jen Luc Ponty’s violin always added an interesting touch. (7/10)

Day 231: Mike Oldfield – Tubular Beats (2013) – It’s easy to determine whether you’ll like this. Is New Age trance your thing? Then jump in, by all means. If not, you might want to go for one of Oldfield’s other “Tubular” releases. For those uninitiated to all of it, this is thumpy electronica that tries to have a little soul. (5/10)

Day 232: Prince – Outtakes 1993-1994 – “The Gold Experience” era is when Prince hit his peak, as far as I’m concerned, with a depth in funk, lyrics, vocal style and arrangements. These roughs and demos show the songs were there very early, and he layered in the brilliance of the arrangements. “Shy” is the least developed song here, but its bones are still a revelation. (8/10)

Day 233: Sophia Knapp – Into the Waves (2012) – Fragile, delicately voiced pop with some jazz, baroque and likeably odd “Nothing to Lose,” a triumph of arrangement and production. If wispy-voiced females are your thing – and it’s well done here – by all means, jump in. (5/10)

Day 234: Otis Redding – The Complete Stax / Volt Singles (2013) – Maybe one could do without some of the posthumous barrel scraping. (Almost half of Redding’s singles were released after his 1967 death.) But it’s nice to have these songs in one place, and a pleasure to be reminded of Redding’s brilliance. (8/10)

Day 235: The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy? (1969) – While it has some of the characteristics of soft pop, sunshine pop or California rock, it’s actually a little dark and bleak. And the Indian instrumentation adds a fascinating flavor. (7/10)

Day 236: Morcheeba – Big Calm (1998) – Marketed as a trip-hop band, there’s a bit more going on here than that. The vocals are great, the songs are melodic and not at all similar to one another, so it sounds more like a band than animatrons. It’s easy to listen to, sure, but sounding this simple with this many elements involved is a complex effort. (8/10)

Day 237: Jah Wobble and Keith Levene – Yin & Yang (2013) – A mix of dub and psychedelia and hauntingly rumbling bass lines, this is never not interesting and hypnotic. Largely instrumental and generally reliant on a looping and jaunty bottom, it’s not for all ears, but it’s a must for dub fans. There’s even a cover of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” that’s as out of left field now as the original was in its day. (8/10)

Day 238: Neon Trees – Picture Show (2012) – Reasonably pleasant pop. If someone were to accuse them of being slightly lightweight, the accusation wouldn’t be wrong. And it wouldn’t make the music any less reasonably pleasant. (7/10)

Day 239: Elvis Presley – Elvis at Stax: Deluxe Edition (2013) – A three-disc collection of material recorded at the legendary soul studio 40 years ago. Alternate versions are collected, including a brilliant “If You Talk in Your Sleep.” Had the best 12 cuts been released as a 1973 album, it would be legendary to this day. (8/10)

Day 240: Kurt Baker – Brand New Beat (2012)/Rockin’ for a Livin’ (2011) – The 2012 release is 10 cuts, the 2011 is six. Combined, the two represent the finest power pop releases in years. Borrowing heavily from early Beatles and early Elvis Costello with some upbeat twists, this was designed for me to love. And I do. (Brand New Beat 10/10; Rockin’ for a Livin’ 10/10)

Day 241: Sam Phillips – A surprising mish-mash of styles, most done well (even though I have to ignore some awful-sounding drums on a couple of tracks.) She steps up her game especially on the early 60s folkie-styled “When I’m Alone” and the kind of rockabilly shuffle of “You Know I Won’t.” Not to mention the hauntingly beautiful “See You In Dreams.” (7/10)

Day 242: King Tuff (2012) – An interesting combination of guitar-based pop and punk and rock. It’s almost as if this might be what Bob Dylan would sound like if he were starting out today and starting out with “Highway 61 Revisited.” (6/10)

Day 243: Zappa – San Diego Dec. 12, 1981 – The final show of the year for this troupe. The set is front-loaded with some nice solo spotlight pieces, but drags on through half-hearted efforts at other songs. “Nig Biz,” which usually never fails for me, is the biggest disappointment. (6/10)

Day 244: The Grip Weeds – Sound of Live (2013) – They’ve always been a fascinating blend of power pop and psychedelia. This live album shows that off, and adds a rock feel as they stretch out a bit for solos. Impressive separation in the mix, too. (7/10)

Day 245: Sapo – Sapo (1974) So apparently every label in the 1970s needed an answer to Santana, and this was Bell Records’ version. A funk hybrid of Latin American sounds, Chiacgo-style horns and a flashy guitar player. No better or worse than Santana. (5/10)

Day 246: Lane-Marriott – Legendary Majic Mijits (2000) – The former Small Faces bandmates reunited to record these songs, which were not released until after both of them died. The tracks bear more resemblance to what they did later in their careers – more rock, and occasionally flavored with a bit of country – than the intelligent pop they did early on. For fans, it’s a must, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of some of their other work. (6/10)

Day 247: Dave & Ansell Collins Double Barrel (1972)/In the Ghetto (1976) – Many Americans’ (including mine) introduction to reggae, as they predated Bob Marley and Johnny Nash’s arrival here. Pretty much what you’d expect of early crossover reggae, it sounds simple now. But it was a revelation when it came out. (Double Barrel 6/10; In the Ghetto 5/10)

Day 248: Hooverphonic – Blue Wonder Power Milk (1998)/The Magnificent Tree (2000) – The 1998 release is definitely the swirly kind of sound you expect from something called trip-hop. Fans railed against the 2000 release as too poppy. Both appeal to me, because they both are challenging musically and feature the voice of Geike Arnaert. (Blue Wonder Power Milk 7/10; The Magnificent Tree 7/10)

Day 249: The Monkees – Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 4 (2006) – The Monkees may have more odd mixes of more songs than any group in history. It seems anyone who gets around the tapes wants to put their own stamp on. For collectors, and the intense ones will dislike what’s missing. I’m enthralled. (This 1967 “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones”-era stuff is my favorite by the band.) (7/10)

Day 250: Joe Meek & the Blue Men – I Hear a New World: An Outer Space Music Fantasy (1960 recording – 2013 release) – Meek was a production pioneer, as shown here with the extensive varispeed on vocals and guitars. This largely instrumental record was years ahead of its time, but sounds comically dated now. Which makes it no less interesting and fun. (7/10)

Day 251: Sills & Smith – The Glorious Ache (2013) – At their best, these guys could have fit comfortably in the early 1970s’ California folk-rock scene. At their worst, they sound like what people who have no idea what California folk-rock is think it sounds like. What makes this a winner is the best so much outnumbers the worst. (7/10)

Day 252: Imperial Teen – Feel the Sound (2012) – More hi-fi than a lot of today’s indie pop. The drums sound like somebody actually cares how they sound. The songs are sweet sonic treats, but don’t make a lasting impression. (6/10)

Day 253: Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra – The Golden Age of Song (2012) – Current pop stars go slumming into pop standards. While these songs and arrangements are immediately preferable to, say, Rod Stewart plumbing the same era, there’s nothing here that outclasses or even matches the originals. (3/10)

Day 254: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (2013) – This has the feel of an eclectic album by some late 1960s or early 1970s band capable of a variety of styles. Its style remains fully based in pop-rock, but there are honest delightful surprise moments in almost every song. (8/10)

Day 255: Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (2013) – At least this is a step up from 2009’s disastrous “Tonight.” It’s still, however, a long way from their first two albums, where the songs were well-constructed and had some bite. (3/10)

Day 256: Hudson Brothers – The Truth About Us (1978) / Damn Those Kids (1980)- You can practically hear them casting for a direction here, but they end up sounding kind of like Cheap Trick or Electric Light Orchestra or Paul McCartney, in the same way they sounded kind of like John Lennon when they first broke through. The sounds are fine, the songs are weak. (The Truth About Us 2/10; Damn Those Kids 4/10)

Day 257: Dwight Twilley – Soundtrack (2011) – Some rough spots, but better than expected. This power pop pioneer should be known for more than “I’m On Fire.” This work shows what he’s capable of, even though he’s not always as consistent as one would like. (6/10)

Day 258: Jay Mohr – 2nd Show Friday (Dirty!) (2003) – Give the guy credit for not doing an hour based on his Christopher Walken, which he could have done. But more Walken would have been preferable to 45 minutes of bodily function bits, rescued at the end by some truly inspired surrealism. Rescued, but not fully. (3/10)

Day 259: Sheryl Crow – Feels Like Home (2013) – Some Sheryl Crow albums are so mediocre they pass by without any notice. This is one of those. If this is what Crow thinks country music sounds like, fans of real country music should be terribly insulted. (2/10)

Day 260: Julian Cope – Saint Julian (2013 reissue of 1987 album) – It’s taken listening to the expanded reissue to remind me what a great album this was. It even manages to overcome that big 80s drum sound too many albums had. I hate to boil Julian Cope’s brilliance down to two songs, but if you buy this album, you have the two songs of his you must have: The title cut and “World Shut Your Mouth.” (9/10)

Day 261: Wailers – Catch A Fire: The Unreleased Original Jamaican Versions (1973)/Live At The Record Plant (1973) – The “Catch a Fire” is The Wailers before being “sweetened” with horns and backing vocalists for English and American ears, and it’s nicely urgent and more raw. Others may find that less palatable. in any version, it’s a must. the live set shows a tight band at its peak. (Catch a Fire 9/10; Record Plant 8/10)

Day 262: The Civil Wars (2013) – My reaction to what appears to be their final album is similar to that of their last album – great voices, substandard material. It reaches others, just not me. (3/10)

Day 263: OceanLab – Sirens of the Sea Remixed (2009) – While I’m discovering a previous untapped appreciation for some trance music, when the bottom is a repetitive and insistent as this, it feels more like annoying 1970s disco. Which is less to my taste. (2/10)

Day 264: Gary Usher – Add Some Music to Your Day: A Symphonic Tribute To Brian Wilson (1970) – Orchestral, all instrumental arrangements of mid-60s Beach Boys material. This makes much clearer the links between Brian Wilson and George Gershwin. The score assumes your rating of “Pet Sounds” is 10/10. (7/10)

Day 265: Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady (2013) – Interested in a 40-year history of R&B? Monae takes you on the journey with a mish-mash of styles, anchored by her energetic voice. Very catchy. (8/10)

Day 266: George Carlin – Clearwater, Florida Dec.14, 2002 – He’s working material for what ended up being one of his weaker specials – 2006’s “Life is Worth Losing.” His skill is in selling some of his more tepid material. And it’s fun to find him laughing at his own jokes a couple of times here. (6/10)

Day 267: Mike Keneally – Piano Variations,Vol. 1 (2004) – Loose piano versions of Steve Vai guitar solos. It’s fascinating and a comfortable (and potentially deep) sound, as Keneally makes no attempt to make a piano sound like a guitar. It leaves you sometimes wondering what the source material sounds like. and sometimes just in wonder. (7/10)

Day 268: Dead City Ruins – Midnight Killers (2012) – They throw in practically every melodic metal cliche you can imagine. But it’s so up-tempo and forcefully fun, it’s impossible to resist. (7/10)

Day 269: Kendra Morris – Banshee (2012) – Her fans call it soul music. Much of it feels closer to jazz to me, but maybe we quibble over terms. She has a top-notch voice, and things are always interesting at the very least. (7/10)

Day 270: The Monkees – Unsurpassed Masters Volume 5 (1968) – Remixes and outtakes from “The Birds, the Bees & The Monkees,” this is worth listening to and pondering some of the drivel Davy Jones either picked or was submitted to. It’s amazing what kind of life he was able to bring to some of these songs. (6/10)

Day 271: Zappa – Royal Oak, Mich. Feb. 26, 1988 – Regarded (probably correctly) as one of the weaker shows by the 1988 touring unit, this does have the only performance of “Promiscuous” (included some lines edited from the official release), and you can hear some audience laughter during it. (6/10)

Day 272: Steve Hoffstetter – The Dark Side of the Room (2008) / Cure for the Cable Guy (2006) – “Dark Side …” is the sound of a comedian working generic laughs and jokes, while “Cure …” is a man whose found his voice, is confident with it and the jokes are original and solid. So how is it that the former came out two years before the latter? This man requires extensive further investigation. (Dark Side 4/10; Cure 7/10)

Day 273: It’s Hard To Believe It: The Amazing World Of Joe Meek (1995) – For lack of an easier description, Meek was England’s version of Phil Spector – an amazing record producer who could twist sound and often make even the most trite song a listenable event. This ‘best-of’ his production efforts is worth checking out just to investigate the work of someone far ahead of his time. (7/10)

Day 274: Super Happy Fun Club – All Funned Up (2013) – Far more than the blatant punk of (hilarious) opener “Who Drank My Beer.” It’s a collection of rock, power pop and alterna-whatever, with solid songwriting throughout. (7/10)

Day 275: The Delta Saints – Death Letter Jubilee (2013) – Genuine delta blues, played with passion and proficiency. The acoustic blues piece is a misstep, but easily skipped for the rest of the meat that’s here. (7/10)

Day 276: Panic Room – Skin (2012) – Tinges of prog-rock, but largely similar to many of the female-led metal-ish bands of the new millennium. Anne-Marie Helder certainly has a pleasant voice. And this is perfectly fine, for what it is. (6/10)

Day 277: The Moog Cookbook – Ye Olde Space Band: Plays Classic Rock Hits (1997) – Almost more of a comedy album than anything else. It’s synthesized takes on classic rock, from Kiss to Led Zeppelin to Steppenwolf, with other melodies tossed into some songs. The effect is delightfully hilarious for those paying attention. (7/10)

Day 278: Haim – Days Are Gone (2013) – There are some things to like here, including a surprising turn at pop that could have fit well on the early goth 4AD label. Too much of it is too obnoxiously busy for my ear, But check out the Joni Mitchell-esque “Honey & I.” (4/10)

Day 279: Devo – Something Else for Everybody (2013) – Unreleased songs from the sessions that produced “Something for Everybody,” their 2010 triumph. Songs here have a rockier edge than what they wound up releasing. It’s a nice companion piece, but holds up well as its own release as well. (7/10)

Day 280: Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me (2013) – This soundtrack to a documentary about the legendary 1970s power pop band is designed for fans. It features demos, alternate versions and remixes of the band’s work, focusing largely on their first album. The score assumes you’re a fan. (7/10)

Day 281: Rod Stewart – Rarities (2013) – Two discs of alternate and early versions and other obscurities from his 1970s work on Mercury Records, his most soulful period. The problem with this collection is fans have many of these tracks, and casual followers aren’t going to know the difference, except that these tracks don’t sound like the ones they’ve heard on radio and from friends. I am a fan who loves this era, and am generous with my scores. (7/10)

Day 282: Sleep – Dopesmoker (2012) – The title cut is a heavy 62-minute jam, sounding like Motorhead’s Lemmy fronting a Black Sabbath tribute band. I would have loved this as a teen, which I mention only because my tastes have changed, not because this is “bad.” (4/10)

Day 283: Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost (2013) – A hybrid of the collaborators’ styles, this is the best album with which Costello has been associated for 25 years. Funky new pieces, and liberal lifts from Costello’s lyrical catalog. Exciting. (10/10)

Day 284: The Soft Boys – Rout Of The Clones (2004) – 1978 recordings from the New Wave band led by Syd Barrett acolyte Robyn Hitchcock, long a personal favorite. It’s difficult to believe anything this odd developed an audience. I find it brilliant, and can listen to this and their later material for hours and not tire of it. But it is odd. (8/10)

Day 285: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Earthquake (1972) – One of their final concerts, a show in Japan as a trio. It should never be a surprise how fantastic CCR’s songs are, but sometimes that’s what happens. Interesting bit – a half-speed opening verse for “Up Around the Bend.” (7/10)

Day 286: The Beatles – Helter Skelter (2008) – An Internet collection of several versions of the song from 1968’s “The White Album.” There was a time when this was my favorite song, and I adore hearing “alternate” versions, legitimate releases and otherwise. The slower, blusier early takes of the song are haunting. (8/10)

Day 287: The Rivieras – California Sun (1964) – The title cut is their best, and has a signature sound. The rest of the album is like a 1964 record dance party – an assortment of up-tempo songs of assorted styles, with a lot of organ. And it seems like the drums are the lead instrument on “Let’s Have a Party,” which is an interesting decision. (6/10)

Day 288: Andy Kaufman – Andy & His Grandmother (2013) – A collection of 35-year-old recordings made by one of the first widely known performance artists. It’s funny and troubling, especially the discussion near the end about faking his death. (6/10)

Day 289: Thea Gilmore – Harpo’s Ghost (2006) – Why Thea Gilmore isn’t some kind of indie wunderkind this side of the pond eludes me. Intelligent modern folk-rock with thoughtfully crafted lyrics, effortlessly sung. Fantastic. (9/10)

Day 290: The Luyas – Too Beautiful to Work (2011) – Hauntingly beautiful. I’ve seen it called space-age and faerie dream pop, and both fit. It’s not always melodic – it’s sometimes dissonant, it’s not a traditional sound. If your tastes go to the far-out, this is an entertaining fringe. (8/10)

Day 291: Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine (1967) – This could be released now as a style tribute to mid-60s popular music and pass just fine. There’s pop, folk-rock, white R&B and the brilliant psych pop of the title cut. (6/10)

Day 292: Mike Keneally – You Must Be This Tall (2013) – A return to form for the prolific Keneally. He’s at his best when allowing his inventive side to reign, and here, he works through complex instrumentals and his rarely matched ability to compose and charge through intense yet enjoyable melodies. (8/10)

Day 293: Camel – God of Light: 1973-1975 (2000) – An excellent recorded live album that started life as a bootleg and got a cleaned-up release. Largely instrumental, and closer to rock and jazz-rock than it is to prog, it’s well-played and intelligently composed. These must have been fun shows. (7/10)

Day 294: Julee Cruise – The Voice of Love (1993) – Cruise came to midstream America when her songs (and delicate voice) were vital to the sound of the TV show “Twin Peaks.” This is more of the same, breathy and airy pop. Do you need it? Probably not so much, but it’s a pleasant enough continuation of what she was already doing. (6/10)

Day 295: The Best of Chi Coltrane (1975) – 1972’s “Thunder and Lightning” is one of the decade’s great singles. The remainder of this, collected from just two albums, is very 1970s singer-songwriter-ish, with a lean toward gospel. It’s fine, but a purchase of a compilation with the hit will get you all you really need. (5/10)

Day 296: The Monkees – Unsurpassed Masters Volume 1 (1966) – Different mixes and outtakes from their first album sessions. Compared with what they did later, these songs – however great you find them – pale in comparison. This has an interesting Carole King demo of “Take a Giant Step.” (4/10)

Day 297: Tommy James & the Shondells – Gettin’ Together (1968) – Lightweight bubblegum, and not bubblegum at its best either. Grab another album, or better still, a hits package. Although this one has the odd “Some Happy Day,” a 2 1/2-minute song with multiple fadeouts and fadeins. (4/10)

Day 298: The Soft Boys – London, Dec. 7, 1980 – They could always do the job on stage. They power through their guitar-driven songs with less humor than they present in other shows. But this shows off their vocal and musical prowess. (7/10)

Day 299: Squeeze – The Complete Squeeze BBC Sessions (2008) – Recordings as old as 1977 and as recent as 1994. Fans me be interested in how they endeavored to replicate the studio trickery and again marvel especially at their early growth. Newcomers would be better suited with a best-of-studio tracks. (7/10)

Day 300: The Beatles – Rough Notes (1981) – A collection of songs that were fresh discoveries at the time of original release, but now they’re almost common. Some have even been legitimately released. Always check information about Beatles bootlegs before making the jump. (4/10)

Day 301: Shpongle – Museums of Consciousness (2013) – This has their normal psychedelia, at which they are superb, but they also go with a little more of a backbeat and a little more up-tempo. So it’s a different feel from what they usually do. (7/10)

Day 302: Chase – Chase (1971) / Ennea (1972) / Pure Music (1974) – These guys were solid musicians. But compared with their horn-based contemporaries, they didn’t have the tunes like Chicago did or the vocals of Blood Sweat and Tears (although they tried). The self-titled album has their No. 1 hit, “Get It On” (not the T Rex song). Subsequent work has some of the hit’s feel, but little of its jazz-rock appeal. (Chase 5/10; Ennea 3/10; Pure Music 3/10)

Day 303: Neil Young – Dreamin’ Man ‘ 92 (2009) – Part of Young’s Archives series. Acoustic solo live versions of songs from “Harvest Moon.” This setting brings out some hidden beauty in some songs (particularly the title track), and reveals the deficiencies in others. (6/10)

Day 304: Madeline Peyroux – Standing on the Rooftop (2011) – A real mixed bag. Some of the songs have a wry, slinky feel. Others feel as though she’s keeping everything at a distance, to ill effect. And her cover of “Martha My Dear” is awful. Check out “The Kind You Can’t Afford,” though. (5/10)

Day 305: The Monkees – Unsurpassed Masters Volume 2 (1966) – What does this have that none of the other Monkees Unsurpassed Masters sets have? “I’m a Believer,” their greatest song. And the alternate takes show they picked the right version. (6/10)

Day 306: Tribes – Baby (2012) – British pop-rock for the 21st century. While they still appear to be forming their personality, they know their way around a catchy song and have some intelligent songs to boot. (7/10)

Day 307: Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy – A Tell All (2013) – More laid back and country and blues-y than I expected from this former member of Drive-By Truckers. Her songs with the previous band are preferable. (4/10)

Day 308: Bossanova – Hey Sugar (2006) – A 1980s-style moody, generally wall of sound-based mix of earnest mid-tempo tunes. Then, rising above it all, there’s “Calvary,” a breathtaking wash of melody where everything is exactly where it needs to be. Find that track. (5/10)

Day 309: The Bar Kays – Gotta Groove (1969)/ Black Rock (1971) – The 1969 album, recorded by the remnants of a group that lost members in the 1968 Otis Redding plane crash, sets a template for soul music into the ensuing decade. The 1971 release tries a little too hard to be something else, but offers variety at least. (Gotta Groove 6/10; Black Rock 4/10)

Day 310: Missing Andy – Generation Silenced (2012) – A clever throwback to British offbeat pop-rock from the 1980s. A liberal dose of ska, Britpop and rock. The tone is fine. The songs are all right, but don’t rise above average. (6/10)

Day 311: The Feeling – Boy Cried Wolf (2013) – A slower departure from their superb 1970s-style pop-rock. The songs aren’t as top-notch as they have been, but there are plenty of aural tricks and treats, and I just plain like this band a lot. (8/10)

Day 312: She and Him – Vol. 3 (2013) – The difference between this and their earlier work is the difference between “You Really Gotta Hold On Me” on “Vol. 1” and the unnecessarily breathy read of Blondie’s “Sunday Girl” here. What once was novel now seems to be the template. Too similar sounding throughout. (4/10)

Day 313: Hanson – Anthem (2013) – Their last two albums wound up in my year-end top fives. There’s nothing horrible here, but nothing that steps above average either. Every band is going to have its issues at times. I hope this is just a bump in the road for them. (4/10)

Day 314: Various artists – Pure Lounge 70’s (Seventies’ Pop Songs in a Lounge Touch) (2013) – There’s a difference between winking at a listener and bludgeoning them with a baseball bat. This is far too knowing and eager to please to be a true lounge effort. Some people get it, some don’t. There are ideas here, just not a lot of good ones. (3/10)

Day 315: The Fratellis – We Need Medicine (2013) – They’re always a lot of fun. Not at much fun this time around as when they’re at their best (I will always love “Chelsea Dagger.”) There’s nothing so spry here, but their Rolling Stones-lite vibe always brings a smile. (7/10)

Day 316: Electric Six – Absolute Pleasure (2012) – A live greatest hits package from a band that just screams rock and roll. Comparisons to “Kiss Alive” wouldn’t be out of line. That’s just how much fun these guys are. (7/10)

Day 317: Robin Trower – State to State: Live Across America 1974-1980 (2013) – Spectacular vintage live recordings from the guitar hero. This comes when his early and best material was still at its freshest, and he was doing something fresh with the blues-rock format. This just plain sounds great. (8/10)

Day 318: Zappa – Wurzburg, Germany, June 13, 1982 – I’m not sure why I let shows from Zappa’s 1982 band pile up. They’re a sharp teams, and Zappa’s solos are often amazing. He tears it up here on a superb “Advance Romance.” A must. (8/10)

Day 319: Hooverphonic – Night Before (2011) / With Orchestra (2012) – 2013 may go down for me as The Year Tim Fell in Love With Hooverphonic. I like their earlier trip-hop, and the evolution to a laid-back pop lounge sound – as heard on these two albums – is a different style, but equally enjoyable to my ears. Goodness, these are pleasant melodies, delivered deftly. (Night Before 8/10; With Orchestra 8/10)

Day 320: George Usher – Dutch April (1999) – I can’t help but feel I should like this more than I do. Others hear melodic pop and draw comparisons I should adore. Instead, I hear decent songs performed competently, but nothing that moves me like I’d expect. (5/10)

Day 321: The Beatles – Magical Mystery Mixes CD 20 (1968/2002[?]) – I love almost any kind of twist on The Beatles’ catalog, which I love so dearly and know so well. So I dove to this, which is largely “White Album” material. It’s just re-equalized to bury certain parts of the musical palate. Some of us with original bad stereo releases of the original vinyl have been doing this for almost 50 years. (4/10)

Day 322: Sunlounger – Balearic Beauty (2013) – More of the same, haunting smooth and mellow tunes that remind me of a beach evening. I suppose chill can be considered an alternate universe’s smooth jazz. I have no problem with the comparison, and do not apologize for appreciating chill. (7/10)

Day 323: Kontiki Suite – On Sunset Lake (2013) – Inspired by 1970s west coast mellower rock styles. The vocals aren’t quite as appealing as they should be, but the music is fantastic, from laid back to mid-tempo rock to a downright psychedelic freakout on “Magic Carpet Ride” (not a Steppenwolf cover). (7/10)

Day 324: A Camp (2001) – This affirms my need for more Nina Persson in my life. A modern take on fantastic 1970s mixed-genre albums, where the only theme was to take you on a musical journey of styles. It’s cemented by Persson’s great voice, and her often fascinating lyrics. (8/10)

Day 325: The Darkness – Hot Cakes (2012) – This is the first time I’ve really caught the combination of parody, knowingness, love and honesty that others have previously seen in this bombastic group, which takes the sleaziness in some melodic metal to ridiculously extreme levels. Fun. (7/10)

Day 326: Local Natives – Hummingbird (2013) – A charmingly melodic wash of sound and voices. Gentle and almost fragile, but appealing to new folk, low-fi and harmonic vocal lovers. (6/10)

Day 327: Jah Wobble and Bill Sharpe – Kingdom of Fitzrovia (2013) – Given Wobble’s punk-ish background and Sharpe’s funk status, to hear their styles combine as a bottom over more traditional modern jazz is an odd feel. It’s almost as though sometimes the soloists are intruding on some really interesting things. (5/10)

Day 328: Zappa – Genoa, Italy, July 5, 1982 – This band is so good, so empathetic to what Frank Zappa is trying to do. His solos are crazy fantastic throughout this tour, and here they almost explode sometimes. There’s also a surprise re-arrangement of “RDNZL.” (9/10)

Day 329: Franz Ferdinand – Queen Margaret’s Union, Glasgow, Scotland, 12th April 2004 – A BBC-1 concert as the band was concluding its first tour following the success of its debut album. Given my dissatisfaction with their last two albums, it’s fun to be reminded how their cleverness and charm pulled me in when they started. (7/10)

Day 330: Scarlet Haze – One Bad Bitch (2012) – This is a 21st century updating of the Lita Ford style of tough female-sung melodic metal. But it avoids the cliches of the genre, the singer is sincere, and the songs are distinct and memorable. I never enjoy this style of music as much as I enjoy this album, but it’s overwhelmed me with its quality and intensity. (10/10)

Day 331: Steve Howe – Homebrew 5 (2013) – My first venture into Howe solo territory since the late 1970s. He’s still doing similar things – shining as a guitar player and composing some interesting melodies. But the dynamics he has when others at his level play with and off him are missing. A show of skill, for sure, but still missing something for my taste. (5/10)

Day 332: Trace (1974) – Symphonic prog, perhaps inspired by Focus – that’s what comes to mind with these instrumentals. Predictably, the best pieces are their re-workings of classic works, from Grieg to Bach to traditional melodies. Interesting, if competent 1970s prog appeals to you. (6/10)

Day 333: Robyn Hitchcock – Love From London (2013) – Hitchcock produces a wonderful blend of his eccentric lyric and instrument choices with some heartwarming folk and pop. This is a perfect album for a 60-year-old to have made in 2013. (9/10)

Day 334: Becky Donohue – Partly Yelling with a Chance of Breakdown (2006) – Largely a set of comedic short stories. Unlike my preference in comedy albums, this fades each track, and sometimes jokes are swallowed in the fade. Observation comedy, nothing groundbreaking, sometimes amusing. (5/10)

Day 335: Zappa – Boston, Oct. 6, 1971 – Mid-tour for the Flo & Eddie lineup, and a solid example of a refined “Billy the Mountain.” A number of Zappa fans don’t care for that song or this lineup. It’s a personal favorite, because they always make me laugh hard. I just wish the audience recordings were of better quality. (7/10)

Day 336: The Rolling Stones – Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 7 (1989) – Really not so much “ultra rare” as a sampler of assorted bootlegs, which is fine, as long as you understand that going in. The live “Good Time Woman” and early version of “Tumbling Dice” are treats, and this includes the Eric Clapton “Brown Sugar,” which I prefer to the released version. (7/10)

Day 337: Hooverphonic – Jackie Cane (2002) – Syrupy pop, delightful vocals, depth in the songs and arrangements. I wish I’d been listening to these guys for the last 15 years instead of just the last six months. Still, I’m glad their alluring sound is in my life now. (8/10)

Day 338: The Monkees – Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 6 (1968) – Alternate versions from “Head,” which already was a strange soundtrack. This is even stranger. But enjoyable. This is far from their poppier roots. “As We Go Along” is one of Carole King’s undiscovered classics. (7/10)

Day 339: Ravi Shankar – At the Woodstock Festival (1994) – The entire recording of the sitar player’s set at the 1969 event. Listening now, it’s easier to hear what Shankar was doing, and easier to appreciate the efforts he was taking to instruct 1960s audiences. He’d be an even bigger sensation if he came along today. (7/10)

Day 340: Darker My Love – Alive as You Are (2010) – I hear some plaintive deep-cut Byrds here, aching beautiful songs and harmonies in spots. In other places, it becomes aural wallpaper. I see reviews comparing them to the Grateful Dead, which I suppose is reasonable, but these guys ramble less. (6/10)

Day 341: Hooverphonic – The President of the LSD Golf Club (2007) – This is as trippy as the title suggests, more laid-back than their poppier work, and while swirling musically, it’s done with more traditional instrumentation. This isn’t as engaging as other albums because so much is downscaled. It’s still been on repeat for me. (7/10)

Day 342: The Moons – Fables of History (2012) – The kind of thing that people who didn’t live through the late 1960s sunshine pop like to call sunshine pop now. It’s nice pop music, but more of its own time, a collection of influences instead of a tribute to one. (6/10)

Day 343: Doug Stanhope – Beer Hall Putsch (2013) – Stanhope gave some thought to social issues, and skewers them through his well-considered concepts. This is the Stanhope I adore most – the one who offers solutions that make you think, “That could be just crazy enough to work.” That, and make you laugh until you’re teary-eyed and gasping for breath. (9/10)

Day 344: Paul Young – No Parlez 25th anniversary edition (2008) – An actual re-working of the album, adding demos, live cuts and 12-inch mixes on a bonus CD. But the original album is NOT included – many of the tracks from the original have been re-worked and edited, butchered in a couple of cases. I loved this when it came out. I’m not sure it’s as good as I thought it was. And this package isn’t going to help me remember. (4/10)

Day 345: Zappa – Moby Gym (1980) – A bootleg named after the recording location in Fort Collins, Colo. Starts better than it finishes, performance-wise. “Magic Fingers” is a standout, and ‘Pick Me I’m Clean” gets a nasty unexpected extended workout. The recording quality is B-minus at best. (6/10)

Day 346: Dopamine – Experiments With Truth (2013) – Standard issue melodic rock. If you might be interested in this style, you’re likely aware of these guys already and have made up your mind. Non-fans will find it listenable but probably unremarkable. (4/10)

Day 347: The Low Frequency in Stereo – Pop Obskura (2013) – Low-fi psych pop. Muddy mix and airy vocals don’t make it for me, especially when the songs are so slight. “Ionic Nerve Grip” is the one song that rises. (4/10)

Day 348: George Harrison – Living in the Alternate World (1973) – Unfinished tracks and early versions from his “Living in the Material World” album. There has always been spectacular material here – especially “Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long.” But this does nothing to enhance the legitimate release’s reputation as too many dirges and too little joy. (4/10)

Day 349: Cone of Silence – Sixty-Grit Sandpaper and Other Delights (2005) – Power pop that stretches the era by which it’s influenced into later in the 1960s. Effective. Notable if only as an example of a power pop band that uses a wah-wah pedal without irony. Tight vocals, too. (7/10)

Day 350: Sigur Ros – Valtari (2012) – This one connects with me more thoroughly than some of their others. Sometimes, this means fans of the band would consider it a sell-out or dropping to the level of the lowest common denominator. It’s pleasant without turning into soulless aural wallpaper. (7/10)

Day 351: Hooverphonic – Sit Down and Listen to Hooverphonic (2003) – Acoustic/quiet symphonic performances of catalog songs. It’s predictably less bombastic, and performances like this often bring out previously hidden beauty in the songs. In these cases, though, the songs are perpetually of such quality that the originals really need no help. (6/10)

Day 352: Cheap Trick – Still Finding Parts (2009?) – A bootleg compilation of live appearances with such stalwarts as Roy Wood, Dave Edmunds and AC/DC, alternate outtakes and unreleased material. I love hearing Wood anytime, and “Johnny B. Goode” with AC/DC is a riot. Still, probably for fans only. (7/10)

Day 353: The Beatles – Live at the BBC Vol. 2 (2013) – A fascinating listen, showing they could play at harmonize without any studio tricks. But only with rare exceptions (“Chains,” oddly improved with the absence of John Lennon’s harmonica), the studio versions are preferable. And we should not be paying for interview tracks we won’t listen to more than once. (7/10)

Day 354: Trevor Rabin – Jacaranda (2012) – Instrumentals with a bunch of prog and jazz feel. Not as showy as a lot of prog, and not as melodic as a lot of jazz. Interesting (and certainly never dull or standard) experimentations. (6/10)

Day 355: Mary Fahl – From the Dark Side of the Moon (2011) – A track-by-track reinterpretation of the iconic Pink Floyd album. At times a close copy, but she also offers some interesting softer jazz-tinged arrangements. Fans of the original will be amused or appalled. (7/10)

Day 356: Robin Trower/Jack Bruce – March 1, 2009, Worpswede, Germany – I’ve never been a huge fan of Bruce’s work, and this set is weighted toward him. This boot has a heavy bottom, and the drummer seems way too busy too often. Trower is fine, but I’ll go to other tours to get my fixes. (4/10)

Day 357: Hooverphonic – Reflection (2013) – For the first time, their journey doesn’t make sense, and there’s no line from other work to this work. This seems a sub-standard attempt at dull, everyday pop. There’s no sign of their epic songwriting or production – just a bid to churn some product. Like a mediocre modern country music album. Hugely disappointing. (3/10)

Day 358: Frank Zappa – Road Tapes Venue #2 (2013) – Two discs of music from August 1973 shows in Helsinki, shows fans had not circulated or even actually been able to verify. The peak of Zappa’s jazz-rock era, with a band capable of following him as he solos in wild, lengthy fashion. Fantastic. (9/10)

Day 359: Berlin – Animal (2013) – When a group known for its 1980s sound continues to change styles with the times – as leader Terri Nunn has attempted to – they earn admiration, but can lose an identity. These may be fine songs, but the production makes their modern sound seem more desperate than it should. (4/10)

Day 360: Bo Burnham – what. (2013) – The next step in comedy. The performance art pieces don’t come off as well without seeing his body and face, but the great and funny songs remain great and funny. The best comedy album of the year. (8/10) (10/10 if you see the video)

Day 361: Jill Sobule – San Francisco, Nov. 11, 2004 – Almost 10 years removed from its performance, this show is as fresh as the day it was played, even with the references to the recently concluded presidential election. It’s always amazing to see or hear Sobule win an audience over with her guitar, songs, storytelling and strength of will. (7/10)

Day 362: Tommy Keene – Excitement at Your Feet (2013) – A collection of covers that will be of great interest to Keene fans, and barely a curiosity for others. Keene’s taste is nicely obscure, which earns him props and may make this sound to a few newcomers like its own pure collection of originals. (4/10)

Day 363: Fawn – Coastlines (2012) – The stunner is they’re from Detroit, and from this decade, because they sound like all the European bands that tried to emulate U2 when U2 first broke. If Fawn were the first band you heard in their style, you might love them. (4/10)

Day 364: Icon For Hire (2013) – They’re growing into their style, which will appear to their younger fans more than me. The wash of sound and the effects on the vocals are more palatable for younger ears. “Fix Me” and album opener “Cynics & Critics” are solid. (5/10)

Day 365: They Might Be Giants – Lincoln (1993) – What stuns me is the creativity and catchiness of the songs that run less than two minutes. There are at least three that are complete songs and fantastic, saying all they need to say. (8/10)

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