All posts by Greg Bueno

Purchase log, 2018-03-20

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

This past weekend was the annual Big Book Sale by the Friends of the Seattle Public Library, so I should have enough music to last me for weeks, right? Right.

Catalog

CDs
  • Anita Baker, Giving You the Best That I Got
  • Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
  • Victor Borge, Live(!)
  • Glenn Branca, Symphony No. 2: Peak of the Sacred
  • Cameo, Word Up!
  • Capercaillie, Secret People
  • John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  • John Coltrane, Meditations
  • John Coltrane, My Favorite Things
  • John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
  • Eazy-E, Eazy-Duz-It
  • Bill Evans Trio, Waltz for Debby
  • Fugazi, End Hits
  • Peter Gabriel, Shaking the Tree
  • Guns N’ Roses, G N’ R Lies
  • Heart, Bad Animals
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
  • Ketsumeshi, Ketsunopolis 4
  • LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out
  • Milt Jackson and John Coltrane, Bags and Trane
  • Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark
  • Morrissey, The Best of Morrissey
  • Mother Love Bone, Mother Love Bone
  • Nirvana, Incesticide
  • Robert Palmer, Clues
  • Prince, Musicology
  • R.E.M., Dead Letter Office
  • Radiohead, The Bends
  • Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  • Einojuhani Rautvaara, Symphony No. 7: Angel of Light / Annunciations
  • Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus
  • Roxy Music, Avalon (Remastered)
  • Soundgarden, Ultramega OK
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Rising
  • They Might Be Giants, Flood
  • TLC, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip
  • Värttinä, Seleniko
  • Soundtrack, Pride and Prejudice
DVD
  • Tokyo Jihen, Dynamite Out

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The Ones That Nearly Got Away: Various Artists, Common Ground

[Various Artists - Common Ground: Voices in Modern Irish Music]

In an attempt to ride the successful coattails of Clannad and Enya during the 1990s, labels attempted to package Celtic music as the next new thing in world music.

While folk labels such as Green Linnet and Shanachie played up their indigenous creds, major labels opted for the safety of crossovers. So in 1996, EMI released a compilation titled Common Ground: Voices of Modern Irish Music.

The intent was simple enough — survey the various forms in which Irish music takes, ranging from such traditionalists as Davey Spillane and Dónal Lunny to superstars in the form of Bono and Adam Clayton of U2.

Of course, Máire Brennan opens the compilation with a traditional song sung in Irish and arranged for a pop band. After that, the concept splinters. The big names — Elvis Costello, Sinéad O’Connor, Tim and Neil Finn, Bono and Adam Clayton — stay in their pop music realms, while the traditionalists remain in theirs.

When the twain meet, it doesn’t come across as organic as it ought to. Brian Kennedy and O’Connor turn in nice performances of their respective traditional choices, but that’s all they are … nice. They aren’t illuminating nor particularly daring.

Kate Bush, on the other hand, takes the biggest leap, singing in Irish, and Liam Ó Manolaí of Hothouse Flowers tackles mouth music in a searing performance.

Otherwise, the parts don’t really add up to a very compelling sum.

When I spotted a copy of this compilation at the Lifelong Thrift Store selling for $1, I had forgotten why I let it go, considering the inclusion of Bush, Brennan and a number of Irish musicians I followed at the time.

After listening to it again, I’m reminded of the Chieftains attempt to do something similar with their album The Long, Black Veil. They couldn’t make it work either.

Crossover is fraught with all sorts of issues about appropriation and performance practice, and in the title alone, Common Ground takes too diplomatic a stance. I would rather see these musicians mix it up further, blurring distinctions entirely or embracing roles furthest outside of their comfort zones.

 

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Purchase log, 2018-03-13

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New Releases

CDs
  • Tracey Thorn, Record

Catalog

CDs
  • Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica
  • Elvis Costello, Brutal Youth
  • M.I.A., Arular
  • Madonna, MDNA
  • Robert Palmer, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley
  • Radiohead, In Rainbows
  • The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • Stephen Sondheim, Company (Original Cast Recording)

 

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Rewind: Benjamin Gibbard and Andrew Kenny, Home, Vol. 5

[Benjamin Gibbard and Andrew Kenny - Home, Vol. 5]

A few weeks back, I spotted a used copy of Home, Vol. 5, a split EP between Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set.

I listened to that EP quite a lot when it was first released, but I never got around to picking up a physical copy. It’s been nearly 15 years since it came out, and I had to listen to it on Google Play to remind myself what drew me to it.

I barely remembered that I actually wrote a review for it in the earliest incarnation of this site.

Home, Vol. 5 holds up really well, and while my writing about it was clumsy and stilted, the conclusions still bear out.

Gibbard had a really good year in 2003. Death Cab for Cutie would release its best album, Transatlanticism, that year, and Gibbard’s collaboration on the Postal Service would also prove fruitful. On Home, Vol. 5, he already sounds ready for a major label budget.

But Andrew Kenny’s quiet delivery and darker writing lingers much longer. When Gibbard sings Kenny’s “Choir Vandals”, he’s forced to turn the wattage on his demeanor, and when Kenny takes on Gibbard’s “Line of Best Fit”, he’s not browbeated to be more than he is.

Split EPs are economical for labels, but at their worst, they result in clumsy pairings. Home, Vol. 5 avoids that pitfall by allowing Gibbard and Kenny to inhabit different corners of the same aesthetic space.

The sparse instrumentation and light production make the EP cohesive without impinging on their distinct styles.

 

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Purchase log, 2018-03-06

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New Releases

Vinyl
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Koukuukyoku~

Catalog

CDs
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, Song and Dance (Original Cast Live)
  • Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue
  • Jeff Buckley, Grace
  • Freedy Johnston, Right Between the Promises
  • Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon
  • My Bloody Valentine, m b v
  • Robert Palmer, Addictions, Vol. 1
  • Ride, Nowhere
  • R.E.M., And I Feel Fine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years (Deluxe Edition)
  • Roxy Music, Roxy Music
  • Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger
  • Texas, Mother’s Heaven
  • Texas, Southside

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Annie Lennox, Diva
  • My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (2018 Remaster)

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Achievement unlocked: the first collection purge since 2012

[James Blake - The Colour in Anything]

In 2013, I was ready but reluctant to turn my music collection over to the digital services. My ripped library had been backed up to Google Play, and my waning interest in new releases meant my shelves filled slowly.

Then I got bit by the vinyl bug and doubled down on physical product.

It’s taken a few years, but I’m reminded now of a big drawback to ownership — space constraints.

In short, I’ve run out of shelf space, and I have little room to add more shelves.

So I’ve had to resort to a collection purge. The last time I did one was right before I moved to Seattle in 2012. Those posts about the ones that nearly got away? Well, I’m letting a few titles do exactly that.

Many of the purged discs are actually redundancies — old pressings of albums that have been remastered or expanded into deluxe editions.

But those thrift store bargains that led me to explore something unfamiliar? Some of them ended up as duds. And as cheaply as I acquired them, I can’t say letting them go is much sweet sorrow.

In the case of James Blake’s The Colour in Anything, which I bought when it was released, I should have stuck with my initial impression and left it on the store rack. (Metaphorically speaking — I ordered it from Amazon.)

When I made the decision to keep collecting — even when market forces would rather I rent — I told myself I’d keep the purges to a minimum. It’s hard not to second-guess myself when trying to decide how much I like an album occupying some much needed room. The ambivalent choices are the toughest.

But sometimes, spring cleaning is in order.

In trying to find some old files from college, I ran across some ancient spreadsheets which documented albums I had nearly forgotten I owned. I turned that info into a private list on Discogs.

In a fit of nostalgia, I tracked down some of those lost titles online — and reminded myself why many of them remain lost.

Titles I’ve welcomed back into my collection needed a change of context to let me know what I gave up. Other titles will never be that lucky.

All is not really lost, though. I still have more than enough room on the external hard drive for the rips of those departed albums to remain. And I still have my Google Play subscription.

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Purchase log: 2018-02-27

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

Catalog

CDs
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  • Benjamin Gibbard and Andrew Kenny, Home, Vol. 5
  • Black Flag, The First Four Years
  • Elvis Costello, The Very Best of Elvis Costello
  • Fishbone, The Reality of My Surroundings
  • Ministry, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
  • Ministry, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed or the Way to Suck Eggs
  • Neil Young, Harvest
  • Nirvana, In Utero
  • Television, Marquee Moon

Vinyl

  • Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On
  • Patti Smith, Horses
  • Roxy Music, Avalon
  • X, Los Angeles

 

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Looking ahead: March-April 2018

[Tracey Thorn - Record]

The release calendar is thinning out for me, which isn’t to say it’s not picking up.

Do As Infinity, ALIVE, Feb. 28

It’s been so long since I’ve paid attention to Do As Infinity that I almost didn’t recognize Owatari Ryo without the spiky blonde highlights. I still have a soft spot for this band. I don’t know why.

Tracey Thorn, Record, March 2

We’ve had two Ben Watt albums, so it’s high time for Tracey Thorn to offer a third post-EBTG disc. Also, is she a fan of the Art of Noise? Because that cover looks familiar.

[Art of Noise - In Visible Silence LP inner sleeve]

ART-SCHOOL, In Colors, March 7

I fell off the ART-SCHOOL bandwagon when it became apparent the years have eroded Kinoshita Riki’s voice.

THE BACK HORN, Joukei Dorobou, March 7

I shouldn’t be surprised THE BACK HORN has been around 20 years when Cocco celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut. Utada Hikaru and Shiina Ringo are only a year away from theirs.

Perfume, “Mugen Mirai”, March 14

The last two singles weren’t terribly impressive. Have we reached peak Perfume? I’m probably one of the few people who liked COSMIC EXPLORER.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG 2, March 28
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG Official Bootleg “HONE”, March 28
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG Official Bootleg “IMO”, March 28

This second volume of greatest hits from ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION covers the albums from Landmark to Sol-Fa 2016. The official bootlegs bring together tracks compiled by Goto Masafumi on playlists published on the AKG blog. I think I’m covered.

Kylie Minogue, Golden, April 6

What little press I’ve encountered about this album made a big deal of the fact it was recorded in Nashville. I can’t say Nashville strikes me as diverse a music scene as Austin or Seattle, but the city has a music infrastructure that can absolutely accommodate Kylie.

Royal Wood, Ever After Farewell, April 6 (Canada)

Royal Wood also recorded his new album in Nashville, but his style of music is a natural fit for the city. I’m just hoping I don’t have to wait another year for an international release.

Vinyl

Annie Lennox, Diva, March 2

I’m ambivalent about this album, and yet I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick it up on release day. That is the draw of Annie Lennox’s voice.

Art of Noise, In Visible Silence (Deluxe Edition), March 2

I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.

Nakamori Akina, NEW AKINA Etrangér, May 2
Nakamori Akina, Fushigi, July 4
Nakamori Akina, CRUISE, July 4
Nakamori Akina, Cross My Palm, July 4

These vinyl reissues were announced last year, then summarily canceled. I’m most interested in Fushigi and CRUISE, but I get the impression I could save cash seeking out second-hand copies. I did find NEW AKINA Etrangér at Everyday Music, though.

Eurythmics, Peace, Oct. 28

Eurythmics vinyl reissues are scheduled throughout the year, but I snatched up original pressings the first time around. Peace, however, is the 1999 reunion album that has never been issued on vinyl.

 

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Purchase log: 2018-02-20

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New Releases

CD / Vinyl
  • Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, Landfall

Catalog

CDs
  • Gustav Holst / Edgard Varèse, Holst: The Planets / Varèse: Arcana
  • John Coltrane, Coltrane Plays The Blues
  • John Coltrane, Standards
  • Thelonious Monk, The Composer
Vinyl
  • New York Dolls, Too Much Too Soon
  • Wilco, Being There

 

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Favorite Edition 2017 Stragglers

[Anne Dudley - Plays the Art of Noise]

It was bound to happen — an influx of Christmas gift money allows me to explore more albums after the year-end post goes online. None of these albums would knock off anything in the final list, but they’re definitely worthy of some belated consideration.

Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise

Anne Dudley, Gary Langan and J.J. Jeczalik rebooted the post-Trevor Horn version of the Art of Noise to reissue In Visible Silence. In the midst of it, Dudley released her own interpretations of Art of Noise tracks using mostly piano and percussion with some clever arrangements. The album was released in Japan, and the band hinted it would eventually see a US/UK release. I was not patient, and I think Art of Noise fans are missing out.

Dudley strips away the obfuscating aspects of the original Art of Noise tracks to bring out their musicality. On “Legs”, the croaking bass line turns into clusters that lose none of the original’s percussiveness. Added bonus: she covers the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

Onitsuka Chihiro, Tiny Screams

I actually listened to Tiny Screams when it came out (via the Evil Sharing Networks) and vowed to get my own copy when the Christmas money came. The more I listened to it, the more I favored it over Cocco’s four-disc live extravaganza. The barebones arrangements of the original recordings somehow get stripped even further and become more intense (“BORDERLINE”).

R.E.M., Automatic for the People (Deluxe Edition)

I’ve already gone on record about my ambivalence toward Automatic for the People. I wasn’t inclined to get the deluxe edition of the album till I heard its companion live disc playing in-store at Easy Street Music. The playlist mixes just the correct amount of new material with familiar, throwing in a surprise on occasion. If anything, I’ve played the live disc — R.E.M.’s only concert in 1992 to promote the album — more times than I have the remastered album.

Leo Imai, Film Music EP

OK, I need to follow Leo Imai on some sort of social media site. Last I paid attention, Imai released his third solo album, Made from Nothing, in 2013. Since then, he formed another group, Metafive, and now he’s released an album of film music. The Film Music EP is available in the US through online services, but the full Film Music album is available only at live shows.

Imai has grown bolder as a writer. The four instrumentals on Film Music EP refract the influence of his KIMONOS bandmate Mukai Shuutoku, but “Videotape” shows Imai can be catchy when he wants to be.

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