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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1997

[Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope]

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.

1998 and 1999 were probably the most productive years of the ’90s. 1997 slightly less so. That said, there isn’t much change from the original list, a few shuffles aside.

  1. Cocco, Bougainvillia
  2. Duran Duran, Medazzaland
  3. The Old ’97s, Too Far to Care
  4. Björk, Homogeneic
  5. 10,000 Maniacs, Love Among the Ruins
  6. Soundtrack, The Simpsons: Songs in the Key of Springfield
  7. Molotov, ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas?
  8. Bill Frisell, Nashville
  9. Pizzicato Five, Happy End of the World
  10. Prodigy, Fat of the Land

Other favorites from the year:

  • Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope
  • China Digs, Looking for George …
  • John Taylor, Feelings are Good and Other Lies
  • Jack Ingram, Livin’ and Dyin’
  • Kronos Quartet, Early Music (Lachrymæ Antiquæ)
  • 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Souvonica
  • Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly
  • David Bowie, Earthling

I wouldn’t rediscover The Velvet Rope till 2014. I disliked its predecessor, janet., but I was also disappointed Janet didn’t switch up her theme. I’ve come to realize The Velvet Rope was the album I wished janet. would have been.

Earthling is the very first album by David Bowie I’ve ever owned. I actually liked it at the time, but I didn’t love it. So it got cut during a collection purge. My recent deep dive into the his work made me revisit Earthling, and as unlikely as an EDM Bowie album might sound, he makes it work.

Sleater-Kinney and Missy Eliott are retroactive additions to the list. I didn’t explore their works until recently.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1998

[Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea]

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.

As much as I loved the ’80s, I can’t say the ’90s holds as much sentiment. I feel more affinity for the Aughts than I do the ’90s. That said, 1998 has proven to be rich with favorites, and I would consider it the pinnacle year in the decade. This list has gone through extensive revision from the original.

  1. Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
  2. Madonna, Ray of Light
  3. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  4. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  5. Fastball, All the Pain Money Can Buy
  6. Patty Griffin, Flaming Red
  7. SUPERCAR, Three Out Change
  8. Various Artists, For the Masses: A Tribute to Depeche Mode
  9. Bruce Robison, Wrapped
  10. Cocco, Kumuiuta

Other favorites from the year:

  • Shakira, ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?
  • Wendy and Lisa, Girl Bros.
  • Midnight Oil, Redneck Wonderland
  • 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Happy Feet
  • UA, Ametora
  • Kronos Quartet, Alfred Schnittke: The Complete String Quartets
  • the brilliant green, the brilliant green
  • Bang on a Can All-Stars, Music for Airports
  • Craig Armstrong, The Space Between Us
  • Julieta Venegas, Aquí
  • Aterciopelados, Caribe Atómico
  • Macha, Macha
  • Idlewild, Hope Is Important
  • Pansy Division, Absurd Pop Song Romance
  • Orgy, Candyass

A number of titles that held positions in the Favorite 10 switched places with ones in the extended list.

I didn’t give Fastball much credit 10 years ago because the album had been all over Austin at the time of its release. I got caught up in that hype, then dismissed it as such later. I was wrong. All the Pain Money Can Buy needs to be in the Favorite 10.

For the Masses actually turned me into a Depeche Mode fan. Some of the covers on the tribute album rival the originals. In the case of “Shake the Disease” and “Everything Counts”, they straight up improve them.

Madonna dominated the top position of this list for 10 years before Neutral Milk Hotel nudged her down a notch. SUPERCAR makes another revisionist ranking, pushing 8 1/2 Souvenirs off.

Idlewild makes an appearance with a debut album that’s at times bratty and tuneful. It’s a mess compared to its follow-up, 1000 Broken Windows. But it’s a riveting mess.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2000

[Tomosaka Rie - Shoujo Robot]

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.

I’m flabbergasted by the idea that, as of this writing, the year 2000 is nearly 20 years ago. As much as I lionize the music I heard in high school, the music of my late 20s has been incredibly influential, perhaps professionally as well as personally. Thus, we don’t see much change from the original list.

  1. Shiina Ringo, Shouso Strip
  2. Cocco, Rapunzel
  3. NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
  4. SUPERCAR, Futurama
  5. eX-Girl, Big When Far, Small When Close
  6. Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One
  7. Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows
  8. FEED, Make Every Stardust Shimmer!
  9. Tomosaka Rie, “Shoujo Robot”
  10. Sade, Lovers Rock

Other favorites from the year:

  • Do As Infinity, Break of Dawn
  • Yaida Hitomi, daiya-monde
  • PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
  • OBLIVION DUST, Butterfly Head
  • At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command
  • L’Arc~en~Ciel, REAL
  • Bonnie Pink, Let Go
  • MISSILE GIRL SCOOT, Fiesta!
  • Smashing Pumpkins, MACHINA/The Machine of God
  • m-flo, Planet Shining
  • Juanes, Fíate Bien
  • Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl
  • U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  • La Ley, Uno
  • Sinéad O’Connor, Faith and Courage
  • Soundtrack, High Fidelity
  • BBMak, Sooner or Later

At the time of its release, I was just glad All That You Can’t Leave Behind was not a continuation of Pop. The recent vinyl reissue of the album, unfortunately, reveals its shortcomings. Thus, it loses its original ranking in the Favorite 10.

Plot twist: I panned 2004’s How to Build an Atomic Bomb, but that album has endured far better than All That You Can’t Leave Behind. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Idlewild’s 1000 Broken Windows takes the spot vacated by U2.

Do As Infinity probably could have held onto its place in the Favorite 10 on the strength of “Raven” alone. At the time, most J-Pop I had encountered relied heavily on keyboards and drum machines, so a karaoke-ready band with crunchy guitars felt novel to me.

I can’t say I love Break of Dawn as much now. It’s rare that singles displace albums for the Favorite 10, but all three tracks on “Shoujo Robot” hint at an awesome album I wish Shiina Ringo and Tomosaka Rie recorded.

The extended list is really just all the titles that could have legitimately competed for that bottom spot on the Favorite 10.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2001

[Fugazi - The Argument]

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.

As I mentioned in the original entry for the 2001 list, 75 percent of the year was actually really decent, especially where music was concerned. The Favorite 10 from that year remains unchanged.

  1. AJICO, Fukamidori
  2. fra-foa, Chuu no Fuchi
  3. Quruli, Team Rock
  4. eX-Girl, Back to the Mono Kero
  5. ACO, Material
  6. the brilliant green, Los Angeles
  7. Cocco, Sangrose
  8. Res, How I Do
  9. Utada Hikaru, Distance
  10. Onitsuka Chihiro, Insomnia

Other favorites from the year:

  • Hajime Chitose, Kotonoha
  • MONO, Under the Pipal Tree
  • Fugazi, The Argument
  • Low, Things We Lost in the Fire
  • Death Cab for Cutie, The Photo Album
  • bloodthirsty butchers, Yamane
  • Kicell, Yume
  • Shea Seger, The May Street Project
  • Rufus Wainwright, Poses
  • Semisonic, All About Chemistry
  • Missy Elliott, Miss E … So Addictive
  • Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
  • The Shins, Oh, Inverted World!
  • soulsberry, The end of vacation
  • Sigur Rós, Agætis Byrjun
  • Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills

Like 2002 and 2003, the extended list for 2001 overruns with quality stuff, and I’ve only added to it.

I got Gillian Welch’s Hell Among the Yearlings as part of a gift bag from a Waterloo Records holiday party. I didn’t get around to listening to it till about 15 years later, and I had to play catch-up.

I’ve known about Low for years, but I didn’t hear them till MONO shared a bill with them in concert.

The annual Friends of the Library Book Sale hooked me up with Fugazi’s End Hits for $1, so I sought out The Argument to round out my collection. I vaguely remember the news of Fugazi’s hiatus upsetting my Waterloo coworkers. I hadn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2010

[TOUMING MAGAZINE - Our Soul Music]

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.

2010 was a solid year in music, led by strong showings from Shiina Ringo and Cocco. So this version of the Favorite Edition list doesn’t stray much from the original.

  1. Tokyo Jihen, Sports
  2. Cocco, Emerald
  3. Renée Fleming, Dark Hope
  4. LOVE PSYCHEDELICO, ABBOT KINNEY
  5. Res, Black.Girls.Rock!
  6. Royal Wood, The Waiting
  7. KIMONOS, Kimonos
  8. ACO, devil’s hands
  9. The Drums, The Drums
  10. Oriental Love Ring, In This World

Other favorites from the year:

  • Jónsi, Go
  • LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening
  • Sade, Soldier of Love
  • Friday Night Lights, Original Television Soundtrack, Vol. 2
  • TOUMING MAGAZINE, Our Soul Music

I was always a bit ambivalent about ranking LCD Soundsystem over Sade, so the late discovery of The Drums banished both from the Favorite 10.

I’ve been waiting for an album by Oriental Love Ring for more than 30 years, so learning it happened — albeit two years after it was released — meant something had to give. And it fell to Jónsi.

The final retroactive addition to the list is the debut album by TOUMING MAGAZINE. I try not to translate foreign language album titles, but since my traditional Chinese is non-existent, it’s safest to give a correct English title than a mangled transliterated one.

Google Translate says 我們的靈魂樂 is pronounced “Wǒmen de línghún lè”. The band says the title is Our Soul Music.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2014

[Huck Hodge - Life Is Endless Like Our Field of Vision]

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.

The 2014 list has already gone through one revision, and this version expands it slightly.

  1. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  2. John Luther Adams, Become Ocean
  3. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds of Country Music
  4. Royal Wood, The Burning Bright
  5. The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring
  6. Meredith Monk, Piano Songs
  7. Inventions, Inventions
  8. MONO, Rays of Darkness
  9. Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kouwankyoku~
  10. BADBADNOTGOOD, III

Other favorites from the year:

  • Juanes, Loco de Amor
  • The Drums, Encyclopedia
  • Cocco, Plan C
  • Shaprece, Molting EP
  • Huck Hodge, Life Is Endless Like Our Field of Vision
  • Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Sam Amidon, Lily-O
  • U2, Songs of Innocence

The year started with Juanes topping the list. He’s now been bumped off the Favorite 10 in favor of BADBADNOTGOOD. Despite that change, the Favorite 10 is pretty solid. The remaining list, however, has expanded to include The Drums and Taylor Swift.

You read that right.

I’ve been curious about 1989 for a while, but I felt no desire to stream it. Yet, a thrift store copy selling for $2 was more incentive to check it out. I wonder why that is? I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.

The Drums’ Encyclopedia didn’t start out as a favorite, but when I stopped expecting it to be a carbon copy of the self-titled debut, its strengths became apparent. That said, it’s really a strange album.

The last addition to the list is an album by Huck Hodge, a University of Washington music composition professor from whom I took a number of classes. I actually heard most of this album in class, so it made sense to own a copy of it.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2016

[Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth]

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.

The 2016 list has actually undergone a revision, so this list consolidates the two entries, with some slight changes.

  1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
  2. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4
  3. MONO, Requiem for Hell
  4. Solange, A Seat at the Table
  5. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service
  6. Perfume, COSMIC EXPLORER
  7. Drive By Truckers, American Band
  8. Shaprece, COALS
  9. Cocco, Adan Ballet
  10. Colvin & Earle, Colvin & Earle

Other favorites from the year:

  • Utada Hikaru, Fantôme
  • Ty Herndon, House on Fire
  • Eluvium, False Readings On
  • Santigold, 99 Cents
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness
  • Blood Orange, Freetown Sound
  • Colin Stetson, Sorrow: A Reimagining of Gorecki’s Third Symphony
  • John Adams, Scheherazade.2

The 10 favorites remain the same, while Utada Hikaru and Ty Herndon get bumped down. ANONHI, Pixies and De La Soul get bumped off completely.

I included Pixies because Head Carrier was an improvement over Indie Cindy, but it wasn’t stellar enough to hold onto its position. Albums by ANONHI and De La Sol were good, but over time, they couldn’t hold onto to their status as favorites.

As I mentioned before, lists from this decade probably won’t see much shifting, as my focus continues to move to exploring catalog. Most of the 2016 releases I bought after the year had passed were vinyl issues.

A Bruce Springsteen compilation accompanying the release of his autobiography did set me on a course to explore his earlier albums.

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Favorite Edition: Desert Island

[Duran Duran - Rio]

Nobody talks about desert island discs any more.

In fact, a whole generation of readers might find the premise a bit preposterous — a list of 10 albums with which you would want to be stranded on a desert island. You had to suspend belief that you had an infinite electrical supply and a working playback device.

Then music escaped its physical confines, and iPods allowed people to carry entire music collections with them, which today’s subscription services dwarf in terms of supply.

But the desert island disc list still makes for a good thought exercise — in this era of abundance, what would you do in a moment of scarcity? What 10 albums feel as comfortable and reliable as that old jacket or blanket?

I think it’s only in the last decade that my list has finalized.

Duran Duran, Rio

As a teenager, my desert island disc list would have probably included Duran Duran in most slots. While I would hate to leave behind The Wedding Album, Rio is pretty much the go-to album for any Duranie.

Kronos Quartet, Black Angels

The Quartet for Strings No. 8 by Dmitri Shostakovich would be my desert island classical piece — I never tire hearing it. This album introduced me to the piece, and the title work has also become essential repertoire for me.

John Zorn, Naked City

I imagine there will be many frustrating days living on a desert island, and this album would help greatly to cope with those days.

Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball

Growing up in Hawaii meant automatically dismissing country music. Emmylou Harris introduced me to the better stuff.

Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

I was introduced to this album in 2009, right around the time it was starting to get difficult to find something new to move me. So yeah, I was surprised myself.

Cocco, Bougainvillia
NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT
Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana

I feel a bit self-conscious over the fact three Japanese titles show up on this list, but given the number of really good albums that clustered around 1999-2004, it’s was tough keeping SUPERCAR, AJICO and fra-foa off the list, let alone the two Shiina Ringo albums that preceded Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana.

Robin Holcomb, Robin Holcomb

This album reminds me that pop songwriting doesn’t always need to be sweet.

U2, The Joshua Tree

To be honest, this album usually fights for its spot on the list with In Tua Nua’s The Long Acre.

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Favorite Edition 2017 Year Final

[Living Colour - Shade]

2017 was a rather active year in music, but when it came to new releases, I opted to leave a lot of stuff on the shelf. A decade ago, new albums by Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear would have been breathlessly awaited. I don’t get the sense either had much staying power beyond their release dates.

As a result, I ended up purchasing a total of 34 new titles, approximately 7 percent of my total buying activity. The remaining purchases? Catalog and reissues. This list, in other words, comes from a small pool of albums.

  1. Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome
  2. Royal Wood, Ghost Light
  3. RADWIMPS, Your name.
  4. Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All
  5. Sam Amidon, The Following Mountain
  6. Kronos Quartet, Folk Songs
  7. Gaytheist, Let’s Jam Again Soon
  8. Living Colour, Shade
  9. Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
  10. Renée Fleming, Distant Light

Sam Smith and Living Colour are the big changes from the mid-year listThe Thrill of It All isn’t as weird as I hoped it could be, but it’s a more appealing album than Smith’s debut.

Shade is the perfect soundtrack for the frustration of living under the current administration. Pre-release press mention the blues as a springboard for the album, but really, Living Colour transform the blues in ways that are nigh unrecognizable.

Other favorites from the year:

  • Eluvium, Shuffle Drone: I hate both the repeat and shuffle buttons on my playback mechanisms. That said, Matthew Cooper deserves mad props for creating an album that puts both buttons to excellent use.
  • Sampha, Process: I admit I didn’t listen to this album till a few weeks ago, once it started showing up on year-end favorite lists.
  • David Rawlings, Poor David’s Almanack: My long-simmering discovery of Gillian Welch will have to wait for another entry, but it’s the reason David Rawlings shows up here.
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kuukoukyoku~: Part of me misses the rocking Ringo-chan of the early 2000s, but then hearing these songs side-by-side with the artists who recorded them first deepens my appreciation for her.
  • Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister, Planetarium: It helps to have heard this album with a laser light show.
  • The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts: Jonny Pierce takes over the show.
  • Cocco, Cocco 20 Shuunen Kinen Special Live at Nippon Budokan ~Ichi no Kan x Ni no Kan~: The live performances don’t stray too far from what’s heard in the studio, but Cocco’s voice doesn’t seem to have aged a bit.
  • Duran Duran, Thanksgiving Live at Pleasure Island: If you’re a fan of the seriously-underrated Medazzaland, this live album is a must-have.

 

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Looking ahead: November-December 2017

[Shiina Ringo - Gyakuyunyu ~Kuukoukyoku~]

December is usually a month when the release calendar winds down but not this year.

Miguel, War and Leisure, Dec. 1

I heard snippets of Miguel’s first two albums, and they we’re terribly striking. Then he released Wildheart, and upped his game.

Cocco, 20 Shuunen Kinen Special Live at Nihon Budokan -Ichi no Kan, Ni no Kan-, Dec. 1

Cocco has released a number of live DVDs, but this two-night concert is her first live album.

Shiina Ringo, Gakuyunyuu ~Koukuukyoku~, Dec. 6

Shiina Ringo offers a second self-cover album which finally includes “Shoujo Robot”.

Kicell, The Blue Hour, Dec. 6

I haven’t followed Kicell in years.

Vinyl

Idlewild, Hope Is Important, Dec. 1
Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows, Dec. 1

I picked up a number of Idlewild albums from Lifelong Thrift Shop and discovered Hope Is Important is the Scottish band’s roughest — and quite frankly most interesting — album. It gets reissued on vinyl along with the masterwork, 100 Broken Windows.

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