17. Howard Jones – Ordinary Heroes
Oh, yes, he’s still making music but this is the first time since 1989’s Cross That Line that one of his collections has been consistently good. Let’s set the record straight, Ordinary Heroes is an adult Jones. Songs are more acoustic, warm and middle of the road, however, the album has the feel of a low-key picnic with your closest and dearest friends. Go ahead, grab a sandwich and have a listen.
Favorite songs: “Straight Ahead,” “Say It Like You Mean It,” “Even If I Don’t Say”
16. Yazoo – Reconnected Live
Yazoo (or Yaz as they are known by us Yanks) only released two albums in their brief career but what influence those two have wrought. Years later well-respected bands like LCD Soundsystem cite Yazoo as one of their biggest reasons for making music. Not only do you get to hear pop history with Reconnected Live, but you also get to see two people who never got along well put aside their differences to do their unfulfilled 1983 tour. Alison still sounds strong if not older and Vince must have had the music files lying around. This is an excellent celebration of new wave 25 years later.
Favorite songs: “Bad Connection,” “In My Room,” “Only You”
15. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
After a successful cult record and soundtrack submissions, what do you do? Take several years off and have people wonder if you died. You then start listening to a lot of Panda Bear and try to one-up him with stronger song structures. While The Age of Adz does have the odd sonic clash that Panda Bear concocts, it doesn’t ramble too long on most songs (until the 25-1/2 minute opus at the end.) Still, an interesting album by a compelling artist.
Favorite songs: “Too Much,” “Get Real Get Right,” “Vesuvius”
(or see the official video here.)