Archives

Favorite Edition 2019 Year Half

[Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy!]

One of these years, I’m not going to have a big enough pool from which to draw a mid-year Favorite Edition list. This year got close.

  • Weezer, Weezer (Teal Album): The big criticism of this cover album is the slavish reproduction of the originals, as if Weezer did nothing to inject its own personality in these songs. The studio geek in me, however, marvels at such a feat. It may be a karaoke exercise, but it’s a painstaking one, not unlike art students reproducing the masters.
  • Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000: It’s a tricky proposition to distill seven centuries of music in a single program, but Denk takes an admirable stab at it. I have no objections to his choices.
  • James Blake, Assume Form: Blake’s previous album was lengthy and not terribly engaging. He rights the ship on this one.
  • John Luther Adams, Become Desert: Where Become Ocean explored the Seattle Symphony’s lower and middle registers, Become Desert hovers almost exclusively in the upper ends.
  • Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi: Shiina’s first three albums looms large over the rest of her work, Tokyo Jihen included. Sandokushi is a fascinating mess — lots of seemingly disparate songs threaded together as a single program. It’s jarring but coherent, and probably the best summation of her style thus far.
  • Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!: Like Parquet Courts’ Wide Awake, Legacy! Legacy! was playing on a record store sound system and made me stop to find out who is Jamila Woods.
  • Solange, When I Get Home: There are no obvious singles on this album, which is fine because it’s not intended to be a singles album.
  • Madonna, Madame X: A quotation of Tchaikovsky’s signature work could have backfired, but when the Nutcracker interrupts “Dark Ballet,” it doesn’t feel forced. The singles preceding the release of Madame X didn’t hint at this kind of creative stretch.
  • The Drums, Brutalism: Jonny Pierce tones down the Joy Division influence and brings forth the beats.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Purchase log, 2019-06-18

[Shiina Ringo - MoRA]

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
  • John Luther Adams, Become Desert
  • Madonna, Madame X
Vinyl
  • James Blake, Assume Form
  • Midnight Oil, Armistice Day: Live at the Domain Sydney

Catalog

CD
  • Bruce Springsteen, Tracks
  • Chuck Prophet, No Other Love
  • Hank III, Risin’ Outlaw
  • InfoMatik, Identify
  • John Coltrane, Live in Seattle
  • Kid Koala, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Lounge Lizards, Voice of Chunk
  • Shiina Ringo, MoRA
  • Stephen Sondheim, Follies
  • Whitney Houston, I’m Your Baby Tonight
  • Soundtrack, Captive
Vinyl
  • Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus
  • Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger

Reissues

CD
  • Marvin Gaye, You’re the Man
  • MONO, Hymn to the Immortal Wind (Anniversary Edition)
Vinyl
  • Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Looking ahead, May-June 2019

[Shiina Ringo - Sandokushi]

Sting, My Songs, May 24

I had high but cautious hope for 57th and 9th. That will learn me.

Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi, May 27

This album adds six new tracks to the seven already released in various downloads and singles. Does anyone else get the sense Ringo-chan is phoning it in? I would think a 20-year anniversary would warrant a big reissue campaign in addition to a new album.

Eluvium, Piano Works, May 31

The deluxe edition vinyl release of this new album of piano works includes a sheet music book of Eluvium’s keyboard works.

Madonna, Madame X, June 14

Rebel Heart turned out better than I expected, but that seems to be the exception than the rule in recent years.

Prince, Originals, June 21

This compilation brings together demos of songs Prince wrote for other singers. I wonder if in the distant future we’ll hear The Family with Prince’s vocals.

Sigur Rós, Ágætis byrjun (Deluxe Edition), June 21

I like Sigur Rós, and Ágætis byrjun is a fine album. I’m not sure I love it enough for 4-CDs or 7-LPs.

Vinyl

James Blake, Assume Form, May 31

I hesitated on getting James Blake’s latest album till I found an unopened copy at the thrift store for $3. It’s turned out to be one of the better releases of 2019.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Purchase log picks, February 2019

[James Blake - Assume Form]

Boston, Boston

Sometimes, you just can’t argue with conventional wisdom.

Del tha Funky Homosapien, No Need for Alarm

There’s something about beats made around 1993 that I really dig.

James Blake, Assume Form

The Colour in Anything made me approach Assume Form with caution. It turns out this album is vying for a spot on the year-end Favorite Edition list.

James Tenney, Postal Pieces

It’s amazing how much music can be generated by scores that fit on postcards.

Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000

This survey of Western classical music spanning seven centuries is another album vying for a spot on the year-end Favorite Edition list.

Lou Reed, Transformer

“Satellite of Love” and “Walk on the Wild Side” are obvious choices for why this album should be in my collection, but really, it’s because it has “Perfect Day”, which Duran Duran covered on Thank You.

Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I dismissed Phoenix back in 2009 as that band in the car commercial. Thing is, “Listzomania” is damn catchy, as is the rest of the album.

Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits

Most of this collection consists of tracks from Stand! It also includes “I Wanna Take You Higher”, which Duran Duran also covered on Thank You.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Purchase log, 2019-02-26

[James Blake - Assume Form]

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
  • James Blake, Assume Form

Catalog

CD
  • Beck, Sea Change
  • Boston, Boston
  • Buffalo Daughter, Captain Vapour Athlete
  • Gidon Kremer, Glass: Violin Concerto / Schnittke: Concerto Grosso No. 5
  • MC 900Ft Jesus, Welcome to My Dream
  • Nitzer Ebb, Belief
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad
  • William S. Burroughs, Dead City Radio
  • Yo La Tengo, And Nothing Turned Itself Inisde-Out
  • Soundtrack, Bugs Bunny on Broadway
Vinyl
  • Christine and the Queens, Chris
  • Object Collection, It’s All True

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition Rewind: 2013

[Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe]

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 relaunched this site in early 2014 to focus more on discovering catalog music than newer artists. As a result, I didn’t get a chance to revise the Favorite Edition 2013 list after I discovered a number of critical favorites.

  1. Jason Isbell, Southeastern
  2. Jarell Perry, Simple Things
  3. Patty Griffin, Silver Bell
  4. Sam Amidon, Bright Sunny South
  5. James Blake, Overgrown
  6. Sigur Rós, Kveikur
  7. Hem, Departure and Farewell
  8. Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe
  9. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
  10. LEO Imai, Made from Nothing

Other favorites from the year:

  • Rhye, Woman
  • Kanye West, Yeezus
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Magnetized
  • TV Mania, Bored with the Internet and Prozac?
  • Ty Herndon, Lies I Told Myself
  • Res, Refried Mac
  • Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady

Jason Isbell had caught my eye with the stark but stunning cover of Southeastern, but I didn’t follow up on that fascination till well into 2014. Nor did I make the connection between Blood Orange and Solange till after 2013 had passed.

Isbell and Blood Orange bumped Johnny Hates Jazz and TV Mania, while Rhye and Kanye West nearly crack the Favorite 10.

I dug The College Dropout, but West can teach Billy Corgan lessons in being insufferable. Yeezus, though, sounded like an indie rock record, so I could overlook the man and focus on the art. I wouldn’t cut him that slack nowadays.

Ty Herndon came out of the closet in 2014, and he was cute enough for me to take a listen to his greatest hits collection, This Is Ty Herndon. I ended up liking it more than I expected, mostly because I really can’t stand country radio.

Lies I Told Myself shows up on this list because it sounds way more confident than anything on This Is Ty Herndon.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Looking ahead: July-August 2016

[Blood Orange - Freetown - Sound]

The Favorite Edition 2016 list will be published next week, and if it’s any indication, the release schedule for the rest of the year will probably not be terribly impressive.

James Blake, The Colour in Anything, July 1

Blake dropped this album many weeks back, and I’ve listened to it enough times to make me question whether I would really want to own a physical copy of it. Does it really need to have 17 tracks and be more than an hour long? A lot of interesting things happening on the album, and as many things that induce sleep.

YEN TOWN BAND, diverse journey, July 20

I wonder what prompted YEN TOWN BAND to reunite after 19 years. The band is actually fictional — CHARA played the role of Glico in the film Swallowtail, in which she led a group called YEN TOWN BAND. MONTAGE is probably one of my favorite CHARA-related albums.

Faith No More, We Care a Lot (Deluxe Edition), Aug. 19

I’m hoping a reissue of Introduce Yourself becomes an eventual reality.

Blood Orange, Freetown Sound, Aug. 19

I think Dev Hynes is responsible for softening my decades-long dim view of Michael Jackson.

Cocco, Adan Ballet, Aug. 24

Cocco has added stage and screen to her résumé as author and singer. So it’s no surprise the gaps between albums have gotten longer in the last few years. That makes Adan Ballet remarkable for coming out a year and 2 months since Plan C.

De La Soul, And the Anonymous Nobody, Aug. 26

I haven’t gotten through that backlog of De La Soul albums the trio offered for giving them my e-mail address.

Vinyl

Dead Can Dance, Dead Can Dance, July 8
Dead Can Dance, Spleen and Ideal, July 8
Dead Can Dance, Into the Labyrinth, July 8

I can haz Aion and Spiritchaser reissued on vinyl?

Madonna, Like a Prayer, July 12

Second-hand copies of the self-titled album, Like a Virgin and True Blue can be found for reasonable prices. Like a Prayer, on the other hand, is a bit harder to find, which makes it probably the only recent reissue worth getting.

XTC, Skylarking (Deluxe Edition), July 12
XTC, English Settlement (Deluxe Edition), July 12

Andy Partridge’s reissue label APE House is not messing around with these reissues, and the prices for them reflect that.

Sonic Youth, Murray Street, July 15

The release date for this reissue is a moving target. I imagine it will show up the next time I write this round-up.

Prince, Sign O the Times, Aug. 23
Prince, Lovesexy, Oct. 18
Prince, Graffiti Bridge, Nov. 22
Prince, Love Symbol Album, Dec. 13

I know I want to get the Love Symbol Album on vinyl. I’m partial to getting Lovesexy if I don’t find a used copy before then. I’m on the fence about Sign O the Times and Graffiti Bridge. And I’m disappointed The Black Album reissue was canceled.

John Zorn, Naked City, Aug. 26

I won’t tell you how much I spent on an original pressing of this album. So if you want it on vinyl, place your pre-order now!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,