Thursday, August 13, 2020 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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Eat to the Beat

In 1979 popular music was in transition. The aftermath of the Sex Pistols and the New York punk scene could be felt everywhere. Disco was huge. There were plenty of long-haired rock bands, but their cultural currency was sagging badly; critics liked Springsteen and Elvis Costello a lot, but were otherwise cranky, and were convinced that prefabrication lurked around every corner. As I remember it, they were fairly savage toward Blondie.

This month Capitol Records is reissuing the entire Blondie catalog, six albums in all. Anybody who doesn't know that Blondie's self-titled debut is an utter masterpiece of new wave should stop reading right now and just go buy the damned thing, since every song on it is great. Parallel Lines, their third album and the one that broke them worldwide (it's got "Heart of Glass" on it; we should all hope to age so gracefully), is also terrific, fairly crackling with energy.

But the big surprise here, to me at least, is Eat to the Beat, the follow-up to Parallel Lines, which yielded only one U.S. top-40 single, the lushly magnificent "Dreaming." Eat to the Beat was pretty well erased from the public memory by the mammoth success of Autoamerican, the album that followed it a year later, which contained both "Rapture" and "The Tide Is High," but it's better than its signpost-between-two-huge-albums status suggests.

Besides "Dreaming," there's "Die Young, Stay Pretty," which handily pickpocketed Jimmy Cliff a year before "The Tide Is High" would go directly to the source by covering a legitimate reggae number, and there's "The Hardest Part," practically a case study in how to make a radio-friendly new wave song — its popping synths still sound futuristic 20 years later, and its guitars are remarkably clever. During one eight-bar solo, they sound like Robert Fripp guesting at gunpoint on an Eagles track where the whole band had been fed amphetamines and told to act cool or it's curtains for the longhair.

Atop it all there's Debbie Harry, a wonderful singer (especially on the ballads — "Sound-A-Sleep" being a particularly nice surprise) whose iconic presence has always overshadowed her no-stitches-showing technique.

There aren't too many things that can make 1979 seem like a nice place to visit. Eat to the Beat does that while chewing gum and doing a handstand at the same time. Cool.

by John Darnielle

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