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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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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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Rewind: Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows

[Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows]

Rewind takes a look at past Musicwhore.org reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.

Back in 2014, I recounted how 100 Broken Windows by Idlewild departed my music collection, then returned. Thing is, I reviewed it back in 2001! I read that entry now and wonder, “Who the hell is this kid who wrote this?”

Name-checking the guitarists of Sonic Youth and R.E.M. pretty much revealed what little I knew of music while posturing how much I knew about music. I do find this paragraph anthropologically interesting:

Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, deities bless, brought punk kicking and screaming into the mainstream but in doing so locked record moguls into thinking what America needed was an entire decade of thrice-removed punk pop mixed with — cough — heavy metal.

The A.V. Club wrote a takedown on 1996, the year alternative music died. Five years on, the situation in rock music hadn’t improved. In fact, Nickelback and Limp Bizkit were in their prime when I typed that paragraph, and it led me to conclude 100 Broken Windows was awesome because nü metal suuuuuuuuucked.

The snark against Blur in the second sentence of my review is pretty dated now, although I don’t anticipate I’ll ever find any appeal in Oasis.

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The ones that nearly got away: Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows

[Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows]

Before the Internet allowed listeners to try before they buy on a massive scale, music stores would set up listening kiosks for shoppers to sample a few select albums.

Of course, spots on these kiosks were available to labels who could pay for them, but I didn’t know that at the time. Given the quality of some of these selections, I could very well intuit they weren’t there solely on their merits.

100 Broken Windows by Idlewild was such a purchase. I had been living in Austin for three years at that point, and I hadn’t quite weaned myself off of Tower Records yet.

I gave a few tracks on the album a quick slice test — no more than 15 seconds for the first few tracks — to see if it would appeal to me, and luckily enough, it survived scrutiny. So I brought it home.

The album grew on me the more I listened to it, but part of me couldn’t quite picture myself being an Idlewild devotee. The band hit all the right points for me — lots of guitars, a singer with British brogue, a set of catchy songs — but I could sense I wouldn’t need more than one or two albums from them.

I had semi-consciously decided that if money got tight, 100 Broken Windows would be destined for a used CD bin. In 2002, money did get tight — I got laid off when the dot-com bubble burst, and the few bucks I got for the CD went toward petty cash.

At the same time, I knew the album wasn’t so bad that I never wanted to hear it again. So I ripped it before I let it go, then shelved the CD-ROM in the closet.

Fast forward 12 years later …

My rediscovery of vinyl spurred me to re-evaluate those decisions to let items in my collection wander off. I pulled out the CD-ROMs housing albums I sold for cash — 100 Broken Windows included — and gave them another play.

Yeah, I was dumb.

I may have never been destined to be an Idlewild fan, but I couldn’t deny being a fan of 100 Broken Windows. The album lost none of the appeal in the years since I first encountered it. To be honest, I’d find myself craving to hear “A Little Discourage” from time to time.

The album even got a reissue in the UK, supplemented with b-sides and extra tracks. I just settled to find a used copy for fewer than $5.

100 Broken Windows wasn’t the only victim of my short-sightedness. Maná’s MTV Unplugged, John & Mary’s The Weedkiller’s Daughter and Sugababes’ One Touch were albums that I liked more than I realized at the time.

At the time I sold them, I tried to picture whether ambivalence would set in years down the line. I gambled that my feelings for them would change for the worse and used that supposition to justify culling them from my collection.

They turned out to be bets that I lost.

 

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