Archives

Looking ahead, March-May 2020

[Tokyo Jihen - News]

I usually wait until concrete release dates are announced before listing an album in these previews, but in the last few days, a number of artists have made announcements worth noting.

Tokyo Jihen, News, April 8

I didn’t think I would miss Tokyo Jihen, but I realized I did when their reunion was announced.

Gaytheist, How Long Have I Been on Fire, April 10

I like Gaytheist, but I don’t follow them as closely as I do other bands. So it’s an automated announcement from Bandcamp that informed me of this release.

Roberta Flack, First Take (Deluxe Edition), April 10

Roberta Flack’s debut album turns 50. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was No. 1 on the week I was born.

Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow the Rules, April 24

When was the last time Rufus Wainwright did a rock album? Right around the time I moved to Seattle in 2012.

Sam Smith, To Die For, May 1

I enjoyed The Thrill of It All more than In the Lonely Hour, so I’m hoping this next album continues that trajectory.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions, May 15

The Nashville Sound was good, but it didn’t monopolize my attention the way Southeastern or Something More than Free did. So my anticipation for this album is a bit on the cool side.

Midnight Oil, The Markarrata Project, Summer 2020
Midnight Oil, TBD, Late 2020

I think I’m more excited over another tour than I am about the new album and EP. At the same time, things are so fucked up that Midnight Oil is the right band for these times.

Janet Jackson, Black Diamond, TBD

Aside from the title, details are scant about the next Janet album, but she’s already announced a tour.

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Favorite Edition 2019 Catalog

[Hans Abrahamsen - Schnee]

In June 2019, I took the plunge back into music retail by volunteering at the Lifelong Thrift Store. This immediate access to the store’s CD stock has reshaped my listening habits. I bring back so many discs from my visits to the store, it’s rare that I’ll listen to something more than once. It makes finding new favorites a challenge.

Catalog

  1. Hans Abrahamsen, Schnee: Seattle Symphony performed this piece as part of its [untitled] series, and I was so fascinated by it, I had to own a recording.
  2. Ali Wong, Baby Cobra: I heard Baby Cobra was a really good comedy special, but I didn’t realize Wong had filmed the special in Seattle. And I’ve known about Wong back when Chelsea Lately was on the air. I could have seen this show live, dammit.
  3. Easterhouse, Waiting for the Redbird: The classic rock station in Honolulu back in the late ’80s would play an occasional “modern rock” track. I may have caught Easterhouse’s “Come Out Fighting” once on that station, but it was enough to make me curious about the band — a curiosity I would not explore till more than 30 years later.
  4. Kalapana, Kalapana: I didn’t realize how pervasive this album was on Hawaii pop radio when I was growing up. I was 3 years old when this album was released, but it would continue to dominate the airwaves as I grew more aware of my surroundings.
  5. Infomatik, Technologies: Sometimes, the Internet does forget.
  6. My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything: I missed out on the 2018 vinyl reissue of this album, so I settled for a bootleg pressing.
  7. Robert Palmer, Secrets: This album was the pivot between the blue-eyed funk of Palmer’s early work and his embrace of a more new wave sound. It’s also one of his finest.
  8. Rick Springfield, Tao: I’m a sucker for albums that forgo gaps and fades between tracks.
  9. Boston, Boston: This album is against what punk music rebelled, but I like it anyway.
  10. Roberta Flack, First Take: Stop underrating Roberta Flack!

Reissues

This year was pretty slim on reissues. To be honest, I haven’t gotten through Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and Sigur Rós’ Ágætis byrjun.

  • Re-Flex, The Politics of Dancing: I can’t believe this album isn’t a towering classic of ’80s new wave. Cherry Pop thankfully gives it the deluxe treatment it deserves
  • The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop: The Matt Wallace mix of Don’t Tell a Soul is ahead of its time. The drier sound would not become fashionable till after 1991, but heard today, Dead Man’s Pop feels contemporary.
  • Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes: I didn’t realize how much I loved the mixes featured in Janet’s videos.

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Purchase log picks, August 2019

[Rick Springfield - Tao]

My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything

Loveless casts a big enough shadow over My Bloody Valentine’s work that it made me hesitant to explore the remainder of the band’s catalog, lest it fail to live up. That is not the case with Isn’t Anything, and I regret not ordering the remastered vinyl when I picked up Loveless a year ago.

Rick Springfield, Tao

A five-disc bargain box set of Rick Springfield albums got a discount on Amazon Prime Day, and I fully succumbed to FOMO when I bought it. I’ve always liked “Celebrate the Youth”, but it turns out Tao is Springfield’s most ambitious album of his 80s work. If you must own a second Springfield album — the first being Working Class DogTao would be the one.

NUMBER GIRL, Kanden no Kioku

I hate to admit it, but … I’ve listened to the four studio albums of NUMBER GIRL enough times to want more variety from the live albums. Still, NUMBER GIRL is that rare band where their live albums are hotter than their studio work.

Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes

I didn’t realize how much I prefer the remixed version of “Let’s Wait a While” till I heard it on this reissued compilation. I’m also reminded of how awesome “The Pleasure Principle” is.

Missy Elliott, Da Real World

I’ve read a number of lukewarm reviews for this album, and compared the work preceding and following it, I could see how it might seem not up-to-snuff. But that’s not saying much. It’s still a solid album and light years ahead of The Cookbook.

Re-Flex, The Politics of Dancing (Revised Expanded Edition)

I’m not sure how this album has been relegated to the vinyl dollar bin. It’s damn awesome and ripe for rediscovery.

Band of Susans, The Word and the Flesh

I remember reading about Band of Susans in Pulse! magazine and wondering if I would ever encounter any of their albums out in the wild. It took 30 years, but it happened.

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Purchase log, 2019-08-05

[My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything]

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.

Catalog

CD
  • Adiemus, Songs of Sanctuary
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven, The Five Piano Concertos (Rudolf Serkin; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa)
  • My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything
  • Yello, One Second
Vinyl
  • John Coltrane, Ascension
  • Martha Argerich, Chopin: The Legendary 1965 Recordings

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes

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Purchase log, 2019-07-30

[NUMBER GIRL - Kanden no Kioku]

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
  • NUMBER GIRL, Kanden no Kioku

Catalog

CD
  • 2Pac, All Eyez on Me
  • Béla Bartók, Mikrokosmos
  • Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphonies (Complete) Vol. 1 (Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ladislav Slovak)
  • Ed Sheeran, x
  • Everything But the Girl, Adapt or Die: Ten Years of Remixes
  • Everything But the Girl, Worldwide
  • Franz Josef Haydn, String Quartets, Op. 54, Nos. 1-3 (Kodály Quartet)
  • Franz Josef Haydn, String Quartets, Op. 55, Nos. 1-3 (Kodály Quartet)
  • Franz Josef Haydn, String Quartets, Op. 64, Nos. 1-3 (Kodály Quartet)
  • Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson
  • Kalapana, Kalapana
  • Leonard Bernstein, Mass
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights (Original Cast Recording)
  • Madonna, Rebel Heart (Deluxe Edition)
  • Missy Elliott, Da Real World
  • Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby
  • Nelly, Country Grammar
  • Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
  • Pierre Boulez, Messiaen: Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum / Couleurs de la Cité Celeste / Stravinsky: Symphony of Wind Instruments
  • Robert Palmer, Secrets
Vinyl
  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Live 1975-1985
  • Franz Schubert, Die schöne Müllerin (Deitrich Fischer-Dieskau)

Reissues

CD
  • Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes
Vinyl
  • Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814
  • Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope

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Looking ahead: July-August 2019

[Re-Flex - The Politics of Dancing]

Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes, July 26

I would not have been interested in remixes when Control came out, but I bet I’ve heard them without realizing I have.

Re-Flex, Politics of Dancing (Deluxe Edition), July 26

The title track alone is probably worth the price of the entire album. It’s a collection of reliably-80s synth pop, heavy on the beats and big on melody. I found this album on CD at the thrift store, and I’m actually heartened to see it reissued.

Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold, Aug. 16

I don’t even listen to St. Vincent, and I was excited to hear she was producing the new Sleater-Kinney album. Is that weird?

Ty Herndon, Got It Covered, Aug. 23

Herndon had already teased this album, posting short videos on Instagram of the recording process. He’s already changed the gender references on his big hit, “What Mattered Most.” I’m hoping he doesn’t stop there.

Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley: Sun Rings, Aug. 30

It’s a Terry Riley anniversary year! So of course Kronos commemorates it with a release of a piece they’ve performed in concert for at least a decade.

BBMak, Powerstation, late August

OK, guys, you’ve announced a title and a track list. What about an actual release date?? Part of me wished this album was a track-by-track cover of The Power Station, i.e. the Duran Duran site project with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson of Chic.

Vinyl

Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation, July 26
Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope, July 26

I already have an original pressing of Rhythm Nation, but the length of the album doesn’t allow it to fit well on a single disc. So I would welcome a double LP with improved sound.

The Velvet Rope is Janet’s most underrated album and deserves more attention.

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Purchase log picks, May 2019

[Olivier Messiaen - Turangalîla Symphony]

Anthony De Mare, Pianos and Vocals (Music of Meredith Monk and John Cage)

Given how well De Mare sequenced the pieces on this album, I bet recitals featuring these works would have been amazing.

Easterhouse, Waiting for the Redbird

Contenders is the album that has remained in print, but Waiting for the Redbird appealed to me more as it played on the turntable.

Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson

The Janet we know today began with Control, and it’s the furthest Miss Jackson will go in live performances. Of the two albums that preceded it, this self-titled debut has the better songs.

Justin Timberlake, Futuresex / LoveSounds

I think I reacted more to the production of this album than to the actual songs.

Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park

I didn’t find Golden Hour terribly impressive, but I didn’t want to dismiss Kacey Musgraves out of hand. So I picked up Same Trailer Different Park when I found it at the thrift store. That’s when I understood.

Kalapana, Kalapana

I didn’t realize just how much Kalapana’s first album dominated radio broadcast in Hawaii during the 1970s. I picked up a vinyl copy of the album on a whim, having grown up with the name but not necessarily the music. It turns out I heard them a lot when I was still too young to care about building a music collection.

Olivier Messiaen, Turangalîla Symphony (Toronto Symphony, Seiji Ozawa)

I’ve been fascinated by the third mode of limited transposition since we covered them in a music theory class I took in 2017. The Turangalîla Symphony is one of those works you’re told to know, even if takes you a while to get around to listening to it. The 2-disc vinyl edition of this recording includes Toru Takemitsu’s November Steps, which gets dropped on subsequent CD reissues.

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Purchase log, 2019-05-21

[Soundtrack - Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu Ka?]

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.

I traveled to Austin for the record convention this past weekend. I didn’t find much of what I wanted, but I did find a lot of what I didn’t know I wanted. This list includes purchases at Waterloo Records and End of an Ear.

New releases

CD
  • Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!
  • Kronos Quartet with Masha and Marjan Vadat, Placeless

Catalog

CD
  • a-ha, Hunting High and Low
  • Bill Frisell, Before We Were Born
  • Dwight Yoakam, Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • Joy Division, Closer
  • Robert Palmer, Pride
  • Robert Palmer, Some People Can Do What They Like
  • Shovels & Rope, Swimmin’ Time
  • Tomita, The Planets
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Symphonies / Concertos / Vocal and Choral Works
Vinyl
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet, Crazy People Music
  • Everything But the Girl, Everything But the Girl
  • Franz Josef Haydn, Streichquartette, op. 20, 2 & 4 (Quarteto Esterhazy)
  • Giovanni Palestrina, Pope Marcellus Mass / Stabat Mater / Three Motets (Pro Cantione Antiqua, Bruno Turner)
  • Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar
  • Megadeth, So Far … So Good … So What!
  • Olivier Messiaen, La Nativité du Seigneur (Jennifer Bate)
  • Olivier Messiaen / Toru Takemitsu, Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony / Takemitsu: November Steps (Toronto Symphony, Seiji Ozawa)
  • Seawind, Seawind
  • The Old 97s, Too Far to Care
  • Soundtrack, Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu Ka?
  • Soundtrack, The Iron Giant
  • Various Artists, Brown Bags to Stardom
  • Various Artists, Boulez, Messiaen & Koechlin
  • Various Artists, Music by Busoni, Franz Schmidt and Lutoslawski

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1986

[Nakamori Akina - Fushigi]

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.

In 2008, my collection tapered off with releases before 1987. I went so far as to call 1986 an uninteresting year. I’ve since had time to explore the year in greater depth.

  1. The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence
  2. Janet Jackson, Control
  3. Soundtrack, Megazone 23 Song Collection
  4. Paul Simon, Graceland
  5. XTC, Skylarking
  6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
  7. Prince & the Revolution, Parade
  8. Nakamori Akina, Fushigi
  9. Duran Duran, Notorious
  10. Club Nouveau, Life, Love and Pain

Other favorites from the year:

  • Anita Baker, Rapture
  • Bananarama, True Confessions
  • Fishbone, In Your Face
  • Run DMC, Raising Hell
  • Peter Gabriel, So
  • John Adams, Harmonielehre
  • Enya, Enya
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.
  • R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant
  • Pet Shop Boys, Please
  • Kronos Quartet, Music of Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix
  • The Human League, Crash

If you told Younger Me that Older Me would like So and Raising Hell, Younger Me would wretch. At the time, Run DMC and Peter Gabriel were so ubiquitous, I felt I would never need to hear “Walk This Way” or “Sledgehamer” for the rest of my life.

One advantage of growing older is no longer caring about looking at all fashionable.

Younger Me would have been puzzled by the inclusion of Dwight Yoakam on the extended list, to which Older Me would have to tell Younger Me to wait 9 years.

Younger Me: Oh, I was wondering whether I should get that Human League album. Is it really that good?
Older Me: Yeah, but I don’t think you’d quite appreciate it at your station in life. Wait a few years.
Younger Me: Really? How many?
Older Me: 30.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1989

[De La Soul - 3 Feet And and Rising]

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.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the largest expansion in my collection focuses on the late 1980s, i.e. my high school years. The Favorite 10 list from these years won’t see much change, as 1989 demonstrates, but the expanded lists risk becoming ridiculously long.

  1. The B-52’s, Cosmic Thing
  2. Camper Van Beethoven, Key Lime Pie
  3. Julee Cruise, Floating Into the Night
  4. Faith No More, The Real Thing
  5. Steve Reich, Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint
  6. Fugazi, 13 Songs
  7. Emmylou Harris, Bluebird
  8. Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love
  9. Madonna, Like a Prayer
  10. Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Replacements, Don’t Tell a Soul
  • Hoodoo Gurus, Magnum Cum Louder
  • All About Eve, Scarlet and Other Stories
  • XTC, Oranges and Lemons
  • De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising
  • Nirvana, Bleach
  • Pixies, Doolittle
  • Wayne Horvitz / The President, Bring Yr Camera
  • John Zorn, Spy Vs. Spy
  • Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares, Vol. 2
  • Nakamori Akina, CRUISE
  • Depeche Mode, 101

Fugazi displaces The Replacements, who made a shot for the charts by cleaning up their sound.

I saw this ad in Pulse magazine and scoffed at it:

[I came in for U2. I came out with De La Soul]

Today, I nod my head and say, “Yeah, that’s about right.” But it took 30 years before I had enough life experience to understand how breathtaking 3 Feet High and Rising is.

Nevermind introduced me to Nirvana like the rest of the world, but I prefer Bleach.

The events in Nakamori Akina’s life at the time CRUISE was released overshadowed the maturity of the album. It’s not ground-breaking the way Fushigi is, but it’s an album that could have only been recorded after it.

I saw Depeche Mode in concert in 2017, and 101 ruined my experience of it. I had been listening to 101 in the weeks leading up to the concert, and understandably, the band stacked the set list more toward recent work than “the hits”.

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