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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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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2011

[Edwin Outwater - From Here on Out]

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.

Spotify finally arrived in the US in 2011, and at the time, digital releases meant iTunes downloads. Vinyl album releases still came with CDs to go with them.

Like 2012, the 2011 Favorite Edition doesn’t alter the original list very much, and releases from that year haven’t really made its way into my collection since then.

  1. Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now
  2. Kuriyama Chiaki, CIRCUS
  3. Chiara String Quartet, Jefferson Freidmann: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3
  4. SuiseiNoboAz, THE (OVERUSED) END OF THE WORLD and I MISS YOU MUH-FUH
  5. MO’SOME TONEBENDER, MO’SOME TONEBENDER
  6. Matt Alber, Constant Crows
  7. James Blake, James Blake
  8. Steve Reich, WTC 9/11 / Mallet Quartet / Dance Patterns
  9. Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Here We Rest
  10. Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ULTRA

Other favorites from the year:

  • Edwin Outwater, From Here On Out (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony)
  • Kronos Quartet / Kimmo Pohjonen / Samuli Kosminen, Uniko
  • NOW Ensemble, Awake
  • The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
  • itsnotyouitsme, Everybody’s Pain Is Magnificent
  • John Lunn, Downton Abbey
  • Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys
  • Abigail Washburn, City of Refuge

Jason Isbell and Frank Ocean are retroactive additions. I wouldn’t have been aware of either artist before 2011. nostalgia, ULTRA is probably Ocean’s best album, and Here We Rest shows Isbell prepared for the breakthrough of Southeastern two years later.

Kronos Quartet and The Decemberists get bumped from the Favorite 10 as a result.

Edwin Outwater is a late discovery but also emblematic of the music I was exploring at the time. His album with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is about as literal as you can get with the term “indie classical”.

2011 was also the final year I lived in Austin, Texas. I didn’t get around to posting the year-end list till March 2012 because I was busy with my move to Seattle in January.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2012

[Cody ChesnuTT - Landing on a Hundred]

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.

What I find most remarkable about the 2012 list is the number of albums listed under honorable mentions. The revised list has culled a lot of those titles. I probably listed so many because I didn’t feel passionate enough about any of them.

  1. Solange, True
  2. Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
  3. Jeremy Denk, Ligeti/Beethoven
  4. … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Lost Songs
  5. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
  6. Cody Chesnutt, Landing on a Hundred
  7. ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Landmark
  8. ZAZEN BOYS, Stories
  9. Tokyo Jihen, Shinyawaku
  10. Duran Duran, A Diamond in the Mind

Other favorites from the year:

  • Scissor Sisters, Magic Hour
  • Roomful of Teeth, Roomful of Teeth
  • Gossip, A Joyful Noise
  • Tokyo Jihen, Tokyo Collection
  • TOUMING MAGAZINE, TOUMING MAGAZINE FOREVER
  • OBLIVION DUST, 9 Gates of Bipolar
  • Gaytheist, Stealth Beats

Cody ChesnuTT dislodges Scissor Sisters from the original list, and Frank Ocean jumps up a few spots. Otherwise, there are no remarkable changes.

If anything, 2012 has turned out to be something of a dud year. When I review my purchases in subsequent years, 2012 releases are scant, and most of the albums I bought that year only garner no more than a 3-star rating.

 

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Purchase log, 2018-04-17

[Frank Ocean - nostalgia, ULTRA]

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

Files
  • Matt Alber, How High the Moon

Catalog

CD
  • BBMak, Into Your Head
  • Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R
  • The B-52’s, Whammy!
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Soundtrack, Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Vinyl
  • Walter Carlos, Switched-On Bach
Files
  • Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ULTRA
  • Leo Imai, Film Scum

Reissues

CD
  • Frank Ocean, Endless (Ordered Nov. 24, 2017)
 Vinyl
  • U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind

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Favorite Edition 2010-2014

[Jason Isbell - Southeastern]

We’re half way into the second decade of the 2000s, and I haven’t seen much punditry on what albums have been emblematic of the decade. It’s probably because listening habits have moved on from albums even if the release cycle hasn’t.

My friend will be disappointed to learn I consider 2010 the start of the decade, so I’ll restrict my list to its first five years with 2010 included (i.e. 2010-2014.)

  1. Jason Isbell, Southeastern: “Songs That She Sang in the Shower” and “Elephant” pretty much sold me on this album, and everything else was just seduction.
  2. Tokyo Jihen, Sports: Shiina Ringo loosened her writing monopoly with the band, which then internalized her style to produce its best album.
  3. Jarell Perry, Simple Things: Part of me thinks this album is actually better than Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE.
  4. John Luther Adams, Become Ocean: Does what it says on the tin very, very beautifully
  5. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE: WHERE YOU AT FRANK??
  6. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah: So many of my friends lost their shit when this album was released that I had to hear it for myself.
  7. Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe: I love her music, but damn, her videos are disturbing.
  8. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds of Country Music: What happens to country music when it ingests hallucinogens.
  9. Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now: Thank you, Mark Ronson, for bringing Duran Duran back to itself.
  10. Kuriyama Chiaki, CIRCUS: Getting Shiina Ringo to write a few tracks is a sure way for Japanese actresses to grab my attention.

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Looking ahead: November 2015

[Enya - Dark Sky Island]

No sooner did I bemoan the lack of November releases that I found myself adding a whole bunch of November releases to my wish list.

Enya, Dark Sky Island, Nov. 20

Enya usually takes about 3 to 5 years to turn around new albums, so the 7-year gap between 2008’s And Winter Came and Dark Sky Island is her longest stretch. The announcement was pretty sudden, and I certainly wouldn’t have learned about it had I not visited her official site on a total whim.

Björk, Vulnicura Strings, Nov. 27

Vulnicura has a pretty secure spot on the year-end Favorite Edition list, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Vulnicura Strings dislodges its predecessor from that spot.

Vinyl

Inventions, Blanket Waves, Nov. 13

Inventions is certainly turning out to be a prolific project for Matthew Cooper and Mark Smith. This 10-inch vinyl EP is the second release from the pair this year.

Nirvana, Nirvana, Nov. 13

The 2002 self-titled compilation gets reissued on Blu-Ray audio and vinyl.

Delays

Dolly Parton / Linda Ronstadt / Emmylou Harris, Complete Trio Collection

Early reports indicated this compilation would be released on Oct. 16, but then it fell off the release schedule with no indication of a new date.

Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry

Frank Ocean hinted at a July release for his second album, and then, he fell off the face of the planet. He canceled some scheduled appearances, and July has long passed.

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Looking ahead, April-July 2015

[Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free]

Part of me still misses ICE Magazine, the publication dedicated to reporting on new releases and reissues. Super Deluxe Edition has done a good job recapturing the kind of reporting that went into ICE. I’ve adjusted to using Pause and Play for tracking new releases, but sometimes, I get more relevant information from the personalization features on Discogs.

ICE launched in the early ’90s to track compact disc releases. It ended publication just as the download market ate into CD sales. If a similar publication were to launch today, it would probably report on which artists have made their content exclusive on which streaming service. And vinyl. Talk about turnabout being fair play.

10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales, April 28

This latest incarnation of 10,000 Maniacs brings Mary Ramsey back into the fold and welcomes a guitarist who also doubles on vocals. For this album, the Maniacs reach for the roots, covering the traditional music that has informed their sound.

Roomful of Teeth, Render, April 28

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I had the temerity to stick with my composition studies in college. It might have sounded like the stuff happening in Brooklyn with the likes of Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion and Alarm Will Sound.

Takaakira Goto, Classical Punk and Echoes Under Beauty, May 5

Taka wrote this album around the time MONO started getting orchestral. I’ve enjoyed the rougher sound of Rays of Darkness too much to want to go back in time.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind, May 12

Brian Ahrens didn’t produce this second duet album, but Harris and Crowell wanted The Traveling Kind to reflect where they are as artists now. It’s hard not to have high expectations.

Deebs/Jarrell Perry, Shift, May 19

A lot of attention will focus on the second album by Frank Ocean, but for my money, Jarrell Perry does a far more adventurous job pushing the edges of R&B.

Faith No More, Sol Invictus, May 19

Yeah, yeah, insert grumbling about Jim Martin’s lack of involvement here. I’m still curious.

NOW Ensemble, Dreamfall, May 26

See above about labelmates Roomful of Teeth.

Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free, July 17

Damn, Jason Isbell is looking mighty fine on that cover photo. I couldn’t get enough of Southeastern, so I’ve spent the last few months devouring his 2011 album Here We Rest. Now a new set is just going to keep this jones going.

Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry, July 2015

Hey, Frank, could you convince Universal Music to put out a decent vinyl issue of channel ORANGE as well? Thanks.

Duran Duran, TBD, September 2015

Not since Colin Thurston has Duran Duran worked with the same producer twice. Mark Ronson brought out not just the vintage sound of Duran Duran but also the unmistakable essence of a Duran Duran song. Here’s hoping the latter gets retained if the former evolves.

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