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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2008

[Santigold - Santigold]

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 Favorite Edition 2008 spurred this exercise to revisit lists from 10 years ago. While the Favorite 10 has only one change, the other favorites include a number of new discoveries.

  1. Santigold, Santigold
  2. MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS
  3. The Magnetic Fields, Distortion
  4. Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be
  5. ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, World World World
  6. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals
  7. Sam Amidon, All Is Well
  8. Leo Imai, Fix Neon
  9. Nico Muhly, Mothertongue
  10. Spangle call Lilli line, ISOLATION

Other favorites from the year:

  • Matt Alber, Hide Nothing
  • ZAZEN BOYS, ZAZEN BOYS 4
  • Utada Hikaru, HEART STATION
  • Perfume, GAME
  • Jennifer Koh, String Poetic
  • Janelle Monáe, Metropolis: The Chase Suite
  • Chris Walla, Field Manual

It took me a year and a half to get around to Santigold. I’m not sure why I hadn’t, and I can’t remember what finally spurred me to do so. I’m just glad I did. Chris Walla, unfortunately, must make way.

Perfume, Jennifer Koh and Janelle Monáe are retroactive entries, replacing hey willpower, Bob Mould and VOLA AND THE ORIENTAL MACHINE.

I must have really been tough on Utada Hikaru’s HEART STATION — it didn’t even rank at the time.

Competition for this list was tough. Matt Alber and ZAZEN BOYS could have squeezed into the Favorite 10, and even Janet Jackson and R.E.M. turned out some decent work that year. The cup runneth over.

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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.

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Purchase log, 2018-10-02

[Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer]

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
  • Craig Armstrong, Sun On You
Vinyl
  • Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer

Catalog

CD
  • Amuro Namie, SWEET 19 BLUES
  • Backstreet Boys, Millennium
  • Bill Frisell, In Line
  • Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (Explicit)
  • Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly
  • Huun-Huur-Tu, 60 Horses in My Herd
  • John Adams, Doctor Atomic Symphony / Guide to Strange Places
  • John Adams, El Dorado
  • k.d. lang, Absolute Torch and Twang
  • Lisa Gerrard, The Mirror Pool
  • Lou Harrison, Scenes from Cavafy
  • Love and Rockets, Earth, Sun, Moon
  • Semisonic, Feeling Strangely Fine
  • Shakira, MTV Unplugged
  • Shudder to Think, 50,000 B.C.

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Looking ahead, August-November 2018

[Perfume - Future Pop]

A few titles didn’t get included in the last round-up of new releases, and the release schedule for late autumn hasn’t quite yet coalesced. So this list is thinner than I prefer.

Perfume, Future Pop, Aug. 15

We probably reached peak Perfume two albums ago, if the cool reception to COSMIC EXPLORER is any indication. Imaginative videos can’t quite make up for the weakness of the last few singles, but will either stop me from placing a pre-order? Unlikely.

Blood Orange, Negro Swan, Aug. 24

How did I miss news about a new album by Dev Hynes?

[Checks date of Instagram post.]

Oh, he announced it when my mom was in town and caught the flu, about a week before I would become briefly unemployed. Has it really been two years since the release of Freetown Sound?

Mandy Barnett, Strange Conversation, Sept. 21

I’ve Got a Right to Cry is a classic album that has been relegated to bargain bins and thrift store shelves. The Owen Bradley-produced album probably did too good of a job calling up the ghost of Patsy Cline, whom Barnett has portrayed on stage.

Barnett recently did a duet with Kenny Chesney, which … whatever. But I would still check out this album because I’ve Got a Right to Cry is an album that just doesn’t wear out, even after nearly two decades.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Live from the Nyman, Oct. 19

It’s easy to marvel at how effortlessly it seems Jason Isbell spins his tales, but when he shreds on stage, it’s a sight to behold.

Fastball, All the Pain Money Can Buy (Deluxe Edition), Nov. 9

Oh, hey, it looks like part of my wish is coming true — All the Pain Money Can Buy is headed for a vinyl release, albeit saddled with bonus material for its 20th anniversary, which I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting anyway.

Vinyl

Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer, Sept. 28

Yes, please.

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Favorite Edition 2018: Year half

[Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer]

It’s time we turn this list around. Instead of tracking the favorite new releases of 2018, I’ll start with my favorite catalog discoveries. The vast majority of my listening these days is old music that’s new to me, so let’s pretend no longer I have a read on anything current.

Catalog

  • Patti Smith, Horses: PJ Harvey sure owes a lot to Patti Smith. The first time I played Horses, there were moments I thought I was listening to Polly Jean. This album confounded me, thus forcing me to play it multiple times, each time engaging me more than the last. Smith has been described as the godmother of punk, and I half expected a proto-Sleater-Kinney. Nah, man. That’s not it at all.
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?: Maybe it’s because of Emmylou Harris and Kronos Quartet that made this album feel instantly familiar, or maybe its influence extends as far as the arm of Sauron.
  • Roxy Music, Avalon: Smooth
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: This shit is dark.
  • Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark: Without some schooling in Charles Mingus and John Coltrane, I wouldn’t have understood how ground-breaking this album is. Otherwise, the cheap imitations it spawned would have been my only reference.
  • Fugazi, The Argument: I didn’t think anything could top 13 Songs or Repeater, but this album comes damn close.
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars Cadillacs Etc. Etc.: Honky-tonk AF
  • Benjamin Gibbard / Andrew Kenny, Home, Vol. 5: Even after 15 years, this split EP holds together well.

New Releases

  • Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: This is the album I wished The ArchAndroid was. I still think she hasn’t yet recorded her Shousou Strip.
  • Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, Landfall: I found myself engaged in this album more than I expected.
  • Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo: Shiina Ringo is one of the best songwriters, because the strength of her writing cuts through even the most ordinary interpretation of her songs.
  • Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly, Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music: It’s an improbable concept album based on transcriptions of Balinese gamelan music by English composer Colin McPhee. In execution, it’s a stronger concept than the Planetarium album Muhly did with Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner and James McAlister.
  • Steve Grand, not the end of me: Grand has gone through some serious shit since his debut album, and this sprawling sophomore effort lays it all out.
  • Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi: Check out the rhythmic modulation on “Chikai”. She does some amazing obfuscation with the downbeat.
  • Igor Stravinsky, Chant Funèbre / La Sacre Du Printemps: It seems Funeral Song didn’t really answer the question of how Stravinsky bridged his Scriabin-influenced early work with the Firebird and all that came after.
  • Tracey Thorn, Record: Tracey Thorn returns to the dancefloor, thank deities.

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Purchase log, 2018-05-01

[The Streets - Original Pirate Material]

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
  • Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
  • SUPERCAR, PERMAFROST

Catalog

CD
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
  • J Dilla, Donuts
Vinyl
  • Tomita, Firebird

Reissues

Vinyl
  • The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence (Deluxe Edition)
  • The Streets, Original Pirate Material

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Looking Ahead: April-May 2018

[Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer]

I like April Fools Day and Halloween, but I’m never ambitious enough to pull of a prank or a costume.

SUPERCAR, PERMAFROST, April 25

I think I’m covered in terms SUPERCAR best albums, but the special edition of this compilation comes with a Blu Ray edition of the video collection P.V.D. COMPLETE 10th Anniversary Edition. I would have gotten that Blu Ray without the CD.

Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer, April 27

I have to admit I would rather much see Janelle Monáe on screen than in sound. She was terrific in both Hidden Figures and Moonlight, and I would watch the hell out of a Cindy Mayweather movie. But the only album of hers I remotely like is the Metropolis EP.

Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel, May 18

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit was one of many great albums to emerge in 2015, but I’ve not yet cottoned to anything else.

Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo (Shiina Ringo Tribute), May 23

The artists contributing to this Shiina Ringo tribute album don’t seem to be very adventurous. Given the two volumes of Reimport albums, I would have thought Tomosaka Rie or Kuriyama Chiaki would have participated. And did anyone ask Mukai Shuutoku?

Vinyl

U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, April 13

All That You Can’t Leave Behind was the mea culpa album for Pop, which is also being reissued on vinyl at the same time.

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