These are my records: Taking Liberties 

Elvis Costello: “Taking Liberties”

Like most collections of rarities, B-sides and previously unreleased tracks, there are a lot of great songs on this album (which crams 20 tracks onto one slab of vinyl) – but that doesn’t make it a great album. Costello’s fascination with American country music was already evident in 1980 – long before country was cool – but those tracks (“Radio Sweetheart,” “Black & White World,” “Stranger in the House”) just don’t mesh well with the more punk-infused New Wave cuts like “Clean Money,” which kicks off side 1. Still, there’s enough interesting material here to justify repeat listenings.

These are my records: Mind Bomb

The The: “Mind Bomb”

Imagine The Smiths, but with more impotent anger – that’s this record. Matt Johnson alternately broods, rages and regrets his way through these eight tracks, but somehow manages to make it all damn catchy (I’m sure Johnny Marr’s presence didn’t hurt). It’s telling—or maybe fitting is the right word—that the peppiest track on the whole record is titled “The Beat(en) Generation;” the best is the achingly wistful duet with Sinead O’Connor, “Kingdom of Rain,” a simple song of slow-moving heartbreak and creeping regret.