One year, two albums
Matthew Munhall | Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Last Wednesday, the Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House announced that their sixth studio album, “Thank Your Lucky Stars,” would be released on October 16. It arrives just under two months since the group released its last album, “Depression Cherry.” If the new record is anywhere near as excellent as “Depression Cherry” — which is already a very strong contender for Album of the Year — it will have been quite a year for the group. The announcement got me thinking about other artists who have put out multiple studio releases in the same year without sacrificing quality.
Bob Dylan — 1965
1965 was the year Dylan went electric — first on March’s “Bringing It All Back Home,” but only one side of the album. The first side housed the first signs of Dylan playing with a full band, especially on the bluesy beat anthem “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” while the other half featured acoustic folk like “Mr. Tambourine Man” that fell more in line with Dylan’s earlier work. Then, in August he put out magnum opus “Highway 61 Revisited,” on which he committed to rock full-time. Dylan discovering the electric guitar is one of the most indelible narratives in rock history, and it resulted in some of his best work of his career.
The Beatles — 1967
Part of the reason the Beatles are so enshrined in popular music history is due to how productive they were — releasing 12 albums in just seven years. The Fab Four put out two studio releases in 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1969. But it was 1967 that the band’s high water marked for innovation. In June, the band released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” one of their most experimental LPs and one that laid the groundwork for the modern concept album. Then in November came the compilation album “Magical Mystery Tour,” with the film’s soundtrack on one side of the LP and a collection of their singles from the year on the other. “Hello, Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane” and “All You Need is Love” are songs other bands would kill to release over an entire career, let alone all on side two of a single LP.
Neil Young — 1975
By 1975, Neil Young hadn’t given an interview in nearly five years. When he finally granted one to Rolling Stone, Cameron Crowe wrote in his introduction that Young’s “often cryptic studies of lonely desperation and shaky-voiced antiheroics have led many to brand him a loner.” For a so-called recluse, though, Young was fairly prolific in his musical output, especially in 1975. That year saw the release of “Tonight’s the Night” in June, which written in the aftermath of the deaths of Young’s touring guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry. Although it had been recorded two years earlier, the album sketches a portrait of someone coming to terms with loss. After wrapping up the so-called Ditch Trilogy, “Zuma,” credited to Young and his backing band Crazy Horse, came out in November. In contrast with “Tonight’s the Night,” the album was seen as a return to form and more direct than its dark, sprawling predecessors.
Ty Segall — 2012
The Southern Californian garage rocker Ty Segall is one of the most prolific indie rock musicians of the past decade, no time more apparent than in 2012. In April of that year, he released “Hair,” a collaborative album with Tim Presley (recording under the name “White House”). In June, “Slaughterhouse,” an album put out under the Ty Segall Band banner, arrived. The former is more psychedelic, while the latter is more punk, but both sound characteristically like Segall. The albums were included together on No. 18 on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2012 list — a sure sign that the quantity of his output doesn’t necessarily detract from its quality.