By the numbers: 2018

[Igor Stravinsky - Funeral Song]

In the past, I would try to write about every album I encountered. These days, I listen to a lot of stuff, but I’ll only post an entry if something sparks a memory.

As these statistics demonstrate, I’m leaving a lot out of this blog.

First and last purchases of the year

The first and last purchases of the year are determined by the date of order. Pre-ordered items not yet shipped have already been taken into account.

  • First purchase: Trio Bulgarka, The Forest Is Crying on vinyl.
  • First purchase of a 2018 release: Igor Stravinsky, Chant Funèbre / La Sacre Du Printemps on CD.
  • Last purchase of a 2018 release: James Ehnes, Howard, Kernis: Violin Concertos / Tovey: Stream of Limelight on CD
  • Last purchase: Yaz, You and Me Bothon vinyl.

Purchases by format

FormatNew releaseReissueCatalogTotal
7-inch0000
10-inch1012
12-inch2103
CD Single0000
CD3613485534
CD-R0000
Downloads50510
Vinyl1628131175
Total items bought6042622724

Definitions

New release
Initial release within the calendar year.
Reissue
Originally released prior to the calendar year but reissued within the calendar year.
Catalog
Initial release prior to the calendar year.

Top catalog release years

YearNumber of items purchasedYear-over-year change
199324New!
198924+5
198824+1
199223+1
200222New!
198622+3
1984210
198720-7
199019+3
198519New!
198219New!
199818+2
199118New!
200117New!
200417New!
199416New!
199616-14
200315New!

Top artists

Single titles purchased in multiple formats are counted individually.

ArtistNumber of items purchased
Soundtracks17
David Bowie11
John Coltrane10
Joni Mitchell10
Soundtracks9
Fugazi7
Miles Davis6
Fishbone6
Brian Eno6
The Jimi Hendrix Experience6
The Pogues6
Wilco6
Kate Bush6
Bruce Springsteen6

Notes

  • We’re reaching a point where the collector CD market is going to get more ridiculous as brick-and-mortar stores rid their CD inventory in favor of vinyl.
  • Twice weekly visits to thrift stores account for the increase in my physical collection. It’s tough to beat a price point if $1 if you’re not too picky about condition, which I no longer am.
  • I picked up a lot of Joni Mitchell this year, but I can’t say I’ve grown attached to most of those acquisitions.
  • I’m starting to explore classic rock, more out of academic curiosity than actual appeal. I treat the Beatles like I treat Berlioz — as something I should know but not necessarily need to like.
  • I don’t know if or when I’ll listen to the Miles Davis albums I picked up this year. Something about Miles eludes me.

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Purchase log, 2018-12-25

[Ofra Haza - Fifty Gates of Wisdom: Yemenite Songs]

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

CD
  • Damien Rice, O
  • Orlande de Lassus, Requiem for Four Voices
  • The Pointer Sisters, Greatest Hits
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Last 5 Symphonies
Vinyl
  • Ofra Haza, Fifty Gates of Wisdom: Yemenite Songs
  • The Blow Monkeys, Animal Magic

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Favorite Edition 2018 Year Final

[Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!]

Last year, new releases made up 7 percent of my music purchases. This year, that number ticks up to … 8 percent. For a while there, I didn’t know if I would find enough titles to make a Favorite 10, but I did.

  1. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!: When you visit multiple record stores and ask what is playing, you probably ought to buy that album if the answer is the same at each store.
  2. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: I also liked the Emotion Picture that accompanied the release of this album.
  3. Christine and the Queens, Chris: Those dance moves!
  4. Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo: I didn’t realize the cover of “Sid to Hakuchuumu” was by MIKA, the singer “discovered” by Perez Hilton. MIKA’s circumspection about his sexuality drew a lot of attention and some controversy. I checked out his music as a result of the brouhaha and found little that was remarkable. That said, he nails the French interpretation of this very Ringo track.
  5. Steve Grand, Not the End of Me: I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I hear a bit of Matt Alber’s swoon on some of the quieter moments on this album.
  6. Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson, Landfall: Take all the swagger and posturing out of hip-hop, and it would probably sound a lot like Laurie Anderson.
  7. Seattle Symphony with Roomful of Teeth, Berio: Sinfonia: This piece was awesome to hear live.
  8. Nico Muhly & Thomas Bartlett, Peter Pears: Ceremonial Balinese Music: Oddly enough, I found a recording of Colin McPhee performing his gamelan transcriptions with Benjamin Britten, and I kind of wish Muhly and Bartlett had also done the unpublished scores.
  9. Yore, EP1: Recent press seems to obscure the fact Yore released music under his own name, so we’ll stick with that preference and just mention this EP finds him moving in a direction more akin to Cocteau Twins or even Utada Hikaru.
  10. Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi:Her sound has gotten darker since her comeback.

Other favorites from the year:

  • John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once
  • Leo Imai, VLP
  • Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!
  • Craig Armstrong, Sun on You
  • Tracey Thorn, Record
  • Renee Fleming, Broadway
  • Igor Stravisnky, Chant Funebre / Le Sacre du Printemps
  • Eponymous 4, Travis

OK, I’m being a bit cheeky including my own album, Travis, on this list. I finished recording it in 2016, so I’d been sitting on it for more than a year. In all that time, I’ve not gotten sick of hearing it day in and day out, and when I compare it with other albums I’ve recorded, it sounds like a proper, professional work.

So yeah, I think my album is one of the best to be released in 2018. You can check it out at the Eponymous 4 Bandcamp store.

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Purchase log, 2018-12-18

[James Ehnes - Howard, Kernis: Violin Concertos / Tovey: Stream of Limelight]

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
  • Bruce Springsteen, Springsteen on Broadway
  • James Ehnes, Howard, Kernis: Violin Concertos / Tovey: Stream of Limelight

Catalog

CD
  • A Flock of Seagulls, A Flock of Seagulls
  • Hole, Celebrity Skin
  • Hole, Live Through This
  • Meat Puppets, Too High to Die
  • Morrissey, Viva Hate
  • Mudhoney, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
  • Public Enemy, Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Back
  • Rabbits, Lower Forms
  • Rolf Lislevand, Diminuito
  • The Doors, The Doors
  • The Smashing Pumpkins, Pisces Iscariot
  • The Who, Tommy
  • Torche, Torche
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
  • Soundtrack, Good Night, and Good Luck. (Dianne Reeves)

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Favorite Edition 2018 Catalog

[Art of Noise - In No Sense? Nonsense!]

This past year, I started keeping a log of purchases every week, and a cursory look at those entries show how much catalog has taken over my collection.

Like last year, many of these purchases come from Lifelong Thrift Store or Goodwill. A month-long CD sale at Easy Street Records contributed quite a number of titles. I’ve whittled down nearly 600 purchases to a list of Favorite 10.

Catalog

  1. Patti Smith, Horses: The first time I played this album, I didn’t get it. So I played a few more times and became fascinated with it on each play.
  2. Boris, Pink: I remember other Japanese indie rock fans fawning over this album, and it’s taken me 12 years to get around to finding out why.
  3. David Bowie, Scary Monsters: At first I was going to be boring and choose Ziggy Stardust or Let’s Dance as my favorite Bowie album, but this one takes it, hands down.
  4. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: I like the story of how this album came about just as much as I like the end result.
  5. Fugazi, The Argument: Fugazi didn’t make a bad album, just less good ones. The Argument would probably be Fugazi’s best album if 13 Songs and Repeater weren’t in the way.
  6. Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark: I went on a Joni Mitchell binge this year, and this album is the only one I really like. Sorry, Blue.
  7. Roxy Music, Avalon: Quite the dapper album.
  8. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced: It’s weird how familiar this album feels after years of hearing covers by Kronos Quartet, Sting and Emmylou Harris.
  9. The Pogues, Rum Sodomy and the Lash: I didn’t accommodate the Pogues during my Celtic phase of the mid-90s because they were more rock than Celtic.
  10. Wire, Pink Flag: I’m also fond of the self-titled Killing Joke album.

The last half of the year was stuffed with reissues that were of particular interest for me.

Reissues

  • Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense! (Deluxe Edition): (Who’s Afraid Of …?) The Art of Noise! may have all the hits, but the post-ZTT albums from 1986 and 1987 are the band’s creative peak.
  • Camouflage, Voices and Images (30th Anniversary Edition): This reissue received a limited run in Germany, so pick it up before they’re all gone.
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock (30th Anniversary Edition): The acoustic re-recording of this album works quite well, given how reliant the original was on MIDI.
  • Kate Bush, Remastered Part I and Remastered Part II: It’s apparent on which side Kate takes in the loudness wars, because these remasters do nothing with the volume. In the case of The Red Shoes, it’s actually pulled back. But they sound great, particularly Part I.
  • Julee Cruise, The Voice of Love: I so dug Floating Into the Night that I didn’t think it could be topped. It wasn’t, because The Voice of Love is a different beast.
  • Sasagawa Miwa, Houjou -BEST 03-18-: I passed on the two most recent Sasagawa Miwa albums, but this retrospective does a good job of highlighting the best parts of her output.
  • Frank Ocean, Endless: This album was better than Blonde.
  • Prince, Piano and a Microphone 1983: How about a vinyl reissue of the Love Symbol album?

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Purchase log, 2018-12-11

[Wolf Hall - Tudor Music Soundtrack]

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.

In addition to big scores at the thrift shops, I headed up to Vancouver, BC to visit Sikora’s Classical Records before it closed down for good.

New releases

CD
  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENEARTION, Hometown
  • Wayne Horvitz, Those Who Remain

Catalog

CD
  • Alarm Will Sound, Modernists
  • Anton Webern, Complete Webern (Pierre Boulez)
  • Bob Mould, Workbook
  • Cocteau Twins, Heaven or Las Vegas
  • DJ Shadow, The Private Press
  • Fugazi, Instrument Soundtrack
  • George Antheil, Symphony No. 4 ‘1942’ / Symphony No. 5 / Over the Plains (John Storgårds, BBC Philharmonic)
  • ISIS, Panopticon
  • John Adams, Absolute Jest / Grand Pianola Music (Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony)
  • John Rutter, Requiem
  • mclusky, mclusky do dallas
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton, Irony Is a Dead Scene
  • The Mars Volta, De-Loused in the Comatorium
  • Tweet, Southern Hummingbird
  • yMusic, Balance Problems
  • Soundtrack, Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Soundtrack, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Soundtrack, Wolf Hall: Tudor Music

Vinyl

  • Giovanni Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli / Missa Brevis
  • The Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet, Voodoo
  • William Byrd, Mass for Five Voices / Mass for Four Voices
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Concerto for Orchestra / Funeral Music / Venetian Games
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Symphony No. 3

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Kate Bush, Remastered in Vinyl IV

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1978

[Blondie - Parallel Lines]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

Our retrospective ends at 1978 because my collection starts thinning out at this point. I was 6 years old at the time and just starting to become aware of songs on the radio. Of course, nothing on this list would have appealed to 6-year-old me.

  1. Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians
  2. Brian Eno, Ambient 1: Music for Airports
  3. Kate Bush, The Kick Inside
  4. Emmylou Harris, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
  5. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  6. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Variations
  7. Andy Gibb, Shadow Dancing
  8. Willie Nelson, Stardust
  9. Kate Bush, Lionheart
  10. The Police, Outlandos d’Amour

Other favorites from the year:

  • Clannad, In Concert
  • Rap Reiplinger, Poi Dog

I loved Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, but when my dad saw her perform on Solid Gold, he hated her on sight. “She looks drugged,” he would complain, so I wasn’t allowed to listen to Blondie. That didn’t stop my brother from picking up the 7-inch singles for “The Tide Is High” and “Rapture.”

I can only imagine what dad would have said if he saw Kate Bush dancing in “Wuthering Heights.”

If any album on this list would have appealed to 6-year-old me, it would be Rap Reiplinger’s Poi Dog. Local radio played Reiplinger’s skits regularly, and I enjoyed hearing “Room Service” over and over again.

I didn’t realize those skits were available on an album. I thought only radio could broadcast them, so it wasn’t until Poi Dog was reissued on CD in 1992 that I could relive that thrill.

Reiplinger forged the Honolulu stand-up comic scene, and it died when he did in 1984. Or maybe it was the humorlessness of the 1980s.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1979

[The Manhattan Transfer - Extensions]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

1979 is officially the year I started collecting music. And it’s all because of a post-disco hit about the Twilight Zone theme song. This list, though, couldn’t have been compiled till 2006.

  1. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
  2. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Evita
  3. Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd
  4. Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach
  5. Midnight Oil, Head Injuries
  6. Talking Heads, Fear of Music
  7. The Clash, London Calling
  8. Michael Jackson, Off the Wall
  9. The Police, Reggatta de Blanc
  10. Emmylou Harris, Blue Kentucky Girl

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Manhattan Transfer, Extensions
  • The B-52’s, The B-52’s

The hit in question is “Twilight Tone” by the Manhattan Transfer.

Though more renowned as a jazz vocal quartet, the group wouldn’t get on my radar till “Twilight Tone” invaded the airwaves. Search YouTube for a performance of the song on a variety show — it’s amazing what people will endure for art. Or gimmickry.

My parents relented and bought the Extensions album for me. Of course, I played “Twilight Tone” to death, but I also dug the other songs on the album. Unlike “Twilight Tone”, they ranged from doo-wop to a capella. One song was a bizarre novelty with the singers voices rendered at chipmunk speed. You could say this was Manhattan Transfer’s disco album.

I’ve included it in the extended list. As fond as I am of the album, I have a better sense of what 1979 really offered as a year in music.

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Concert Edition 2018

[UW School of Music Composition Studio, June 5, 2018]

After Sturgill Simpson’s November 2016 concert at the Paramount, I knew my days of rock music concert-going were waning. That was two hours on my feet, and I recognized I had little of the stamina that got me through those kinds of shows in my 30s.

So in 2018, I limited my concerts to classical events. Mostly.

Seattle Symphony, Stravinsky: Funeral Song, Benaroya Hall, Jan. 6

The most interesting piece on the program wasn’t the west coast premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Funeral Song — it was Gyorgi Ligeti’s Violin Concerto.

Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Shostakovich: Quartet for Strings No. 8, Benaroya Hall, Jan. 27

This performance was the second time I heard the Shostakovich Eighth Quartet at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival. The second movement gets me every time.

Seattle Symphony, John Luther Adams: Become Desert, Benaroya Hall, March 31

Pretty much a single chord for an hour, but it was surprising to hear the choirs enter from behind me.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 2], Benaroya Hall, April 27

I’ve been attending untitled concerts since their inception in 2012. Not all of the programs sink in, and I can’t honestly remember what the Nikoleav and Rastakov pieces on the program sound like.

Seattle Symphony, Sibelius: Kullervo, Benaroya Hall, June 2

The premiere of Andrew Norman’s Cello Concerto was postponed, and the replacement pieces on the program didn’t interest me. So I traded my ticket for Kullervo.

UW School of Music, Composition Studio, Music Building 213, June 5

I performed at this concert! And I premiered one of my own pieces! It’s called Feldman and Messiaen at the Airport with Eno, and it’s scored for violin, ukulele, melodica and piano. I gave myself the violin part, which consisted of playing a single note for 8 counts every few seconds.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 3], June 15

I must have been exhausted after the spring I’ve had because I don’t remember a single note played that evening.

Sam Smith, Key Arena, Sept. 8

Based on his studio albums thus far, you would think Smith would be something of a sad sack, but he made those songs of heartbreak sound positively rousing at Key Arena. I just wished the teenagers sitting next to me didn’t shine their phone screens in my face.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 1], Benaroya Hall, Oct. 12

Even if I don’t rush out and learn about every piece that gets programmed in the [untitled] series, I still like the sense of discovery that comes with seeing unfamiliar music performed live. That said, Hans Abraham’s Schnee was quite the memorable performance.

St. Lawrence String Quartet, Meany Hall, Oct. 25

I didn’t know St. Lawrence String Quartet did a TED Talk on Haydn’s “Sun” quartets, so I wasn’t prepared for the night’s performance to include a lecture. I also didn’t anticipate that I would immediately get into Haydn.

Brooklyn Rider, Meany Hall, Nov. 13

The first half of Brooklyn Rider’s concert featured new works by women, all dealing with the theme of healing. The second half was Beethoven’s op. 132. I bought a CD to help the quartet fund a recording of the pieces featured on the evening’s program.

 

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1980

[ABBA - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

If my 8-year-old self were in control of this list, the soundtrack to Xanadu would occupy the top spot. The only other title he might have recognized would be Diana. And he would have questioned the inclusion of AC/DC.

  1. U2, Boy
  2. David Bowie, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
  3. Kate Bush, Never for Ever
  4. Diana Ross, Diana
  5. X, Los Angeles
  6. Grace Jones, Warm Leatherette
  7. Killing Joke, Killing Joke
  8. Talking Heads, Remain in Light
  9. AC/DC, Back in Black
  10. Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
  • Soundtrack, Xanadu
  • ABBA, Super Trouper
  • The B-52’s, Wild Planet

The roots of my collecting bug are anchored in 1980.

I would bug my mom to buy me 7-inch singles. I was told I didn’t have the sufficient capacity to judge whether a full album would be worth the purchase price. My mom wasn’t about to drop cash on a set of songs if only one of them would entertain me.

So I amassed quite a lot of singles — “Tell It Like Is” by Heart, “A Lover’s Holiday” by Change, “Stomp!” by the Brothers Johnson.

I was, however, a pest about ABBA. The age of eight seems to be the right level of maturity for ABBA to sink its sugary hooks into an impressionable mind. My niece was crazy for Mamma Mia, the movie musical, right around the age I bugged my parents to get me their Greatest Hits, Vol. 2. The first volume didn’t have “Chiquitita.”

Video games interrupted my interest in music for four years, so it makes me wonder in how much more trouble I’d be today without that disruption.

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