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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1996

[Café Tacuba - Avalancha de Exitos]

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.

1996 was my final year in college, a year before I would earn the kind of disposable income that would go into building a music collection. While the Favorite 10 of 1996 remains mostly unchanged, the extended list includes many more discoveries I couldn’t afford to hear at the time.

  1. Soundtrack, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
  2. Värttinä, Kokko
  3. Soundtrack, Robotech Perfect Collection
  4. Asylum Street Spankers, Spanks for the Memories
  5. Various Composers, Gay American Composers
  6. Original Cast Recording, Rent
  7. Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar
  8. Everything But the Girl, Walking Wounded
  9. Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs
  10. Robin Holcomb, Little Three

Other favorites from the year:

  • Midnight Oil, Breathe
  • Dead Can Dance, Spiritchaser
  • Emmylou Harris, Portraits
  • Kronos Quartet, Howl USA
  • UA, 11
  • Yen Town Band, Montage
  • Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
  • Aphex Twin, Richard D. James Album
  • Weezer, Pinkerton
  • Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor
  • Clannad, Lore
  • Café Tacuba, Avalancha de Exitos

I could actually add more titles from Wilco, Helmet, Gillian Welch, DJ Shadow and Amuro Namie to the extended list, but I haven’t lived with them as long as the ones I’ve already added.

I owned the Richard D. James album at one point. It was a promo from the student newspaper, but I was such a neophyte with EDM that I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. As it turns out nobody could really make heads or tails of it.

The original extended list didn’t include Lore because it had already fallen victim to a collection purge. I rediscovered the album after the death of Padraig Duggan.

Avalancha de Exitos was the first album by Café Tacuba I would encounter, but I wouldn’t purchase it till many years later. I borrowed it from a friend and liked it. But I stayed away from it because it’s a cover album of music of which I had no reference.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1997

[Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope]

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.

1998 and 1999 were probably the most productive years of the ’90s. 1997 slightly less so. That said, there isn’t much change from the original list, a few shuffles aside.

  1. Cocco, Bougainvillia
  2. Duran Duran, Medazzaland
  3. The Old ’97s, Too Far to Care
  4. Björk, Homogeneic
  5. 10,000 Maniacs, Love Among the Ruins
  6. Soundtrack, The Simpsons: Songs in the Key of Springfield
  7. Molotov, ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas?
  8. Bill Frisell, Nashville
  9. Pizzicato Five, Happy End of the World
  10. Prodigy, Fat of the Land

Other favorites from the year:

  • Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope
  • China Digs, Looking for George …
  • John Taylor, Feelings are Good and Other Lies
  • Jack Ingram, Livin’ and Dyin’
  • Kronos Quartet, Early Music (Lachrymæ Antiquæ)
  • 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Souvonica
  • Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly
  • David Bowie, Earthling

I wouldn’t rediscover The Velvet Rope till 2014. I disliked its predecessor, janet., but I was also disappointed Janet didn’t switch up her theme. I’ve come to realize The Velvet Rope was the album I wished janet. would have been.

Earthling is the very first album by David Bowie I’ve ever owned. I actually liked it at the time, but I didn’t love it. So it got cut during a collection purge. My recent deep dive into the his work made me revisit Earthling, and as unlikely as an EDM Bowie album might sound, he makes it work.

Sleater-Kinney and Missy Eliott are retroactive additions to the list. I didn’t explore their works until recently.

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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: 2002

[Quruli - THE WORLD IS MINE]

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.

If you want an explanation for the length of this list, see 2002: An important year in music for the 2000s. This 2002 list has gone through a few ranking changes and added even more titles.

  1. Hem, Rabbit Songs
  2. … And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead, Source Code and Tags
  3. Kronos Quartet, Nuevo
  4. The Streets, Original Pirate Material
  5. Hajime Chitose, Hainumikaze
  6. NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC
  7. Quruli, THE WORLD IS MINE
  8. Zoobombs, love is funky
  9. Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
  10. Patty Griffin, 1,000 Kisses

Other favorites from the year:

  • UA, Dorobou
  • Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf
  • Damien Jurado and Gathered In Song, I Break Chairs
  • Pedro the Lion, Control
  • Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • Missy Elliott, Under Construction
  • The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts
  • Sonic Youth, Murray Street
  • Sleater-Kinney, One Beat
  • Kylie Minogue, Fever
  • The Roots, Phrenology
  • ISIS, Oceanic
  • The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
  • The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious
  • Catilin Cary, While You Weren’t Looking
  • BUGY CRAXONE, Northern Hymns
  • N.E.R.D., In Search Of …
  • The Books, Thought for Food
  • Nappy Roots, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz
  • Minako, Suck It till Your Life Ends mata wa Shine Made Sono Mama Yatte Iro
  • The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot
  • Shiratori Maika, Hanazono
  • The Back Horn, Shinzou Orchestra
  • Joan Jeanrenaud, Metamorphosis

I picked up Original Pirate Material for $1 at Lifelong Thrift Shop, and now I understand why it was all over the place in 2002. I couldn’t open a music magazine without seeing Mike Skinner mentioned in it. I’m pretty sure the sample of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 sealed my admiration for the album.

THE WORLD IS MINE is something of a mea culpa. At the time of its release, I recognized the album as being Quruli’s most complex, but I just couldn’t get into it. I probably felt that it didn’t go far enough if it was going to be ambitious.

Well, the joke’s on me. I listened to it again before its reissue on vinyl, and I really dug it, much more than Antenna, which I praised effusively at the time. So it knocked Minako’s one and only album off the Favorite 10. UA also had to make room for the Streets.

The extended list includes albums I originally dismissed: Murray Street by Sonic Youth and One Beat by Sleater-Kinney.

I remember stocking Nappy Roots during my shifts at Waterloo Records and wondering what the big deal was. A $1 copy from Lifelong Thrift Shop  16 years later educated me. I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to Nappy Roots, The Decemberists or ISIS without having worked at Waterloo.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2009

[Alarm Will Sound - a/rhythmia]

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 2009 list went through a revision, and subsequent discoveries from the year weren’t moving enough to dislodge anything.

  1. … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Century of Self
  2. LEO Imai, LASER RAIN
  3. Van Tomiko, Van.
  4. Alarm Will Sound, a/rhythmia
  5. Onitsuka Chihiro, DOROTHY
  6. Shiina Ringo, Sanmon Gossip
  7. Tomosaka Rie, Toridori.
  8. mono, Hymn to the Immortal Wind
  9. Wendy & Lisa, White Flags of Winter Chimneys
  10. Sacha Sacket, Hermitage

Other favorites from the year:

  • Office, Mecca
  • Kronos Quartet, Floodplain
  • The Bad Plus joined by Wendy Lewis, For All I Care
  • Utada, This Is the One

In explaining the dearth of new releases on this list, I mentioned that I spent more time listening to catalog music, but like 2012 and 2011, I haven’t picked any more titles from 2009 in the 9 years that have passed.

It makes me think it wasn’t a terribly interesting time for discovery.

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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: 2017

[Sampha - Process]

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.

Do I have new favorites? Which ones have fallen out of favor? This time around, we’ll cover a greater span of time from as recently as last year, all the way to 1978!

We start with last year’s list.

This most recent decade won’t see much in the way of significant revisions, as I explore deeper into catalog releases than following new artists. Wouldn’t it be odd if I discover new artists from 2017 five years from now? Probably not.

  1. Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome
  2. Royal Wood, Ghost Light
  3. RADWIMPS, Your name.
  4. Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All
  5. Sam Amidon, The Following Mountain
  6. Kronos Quartet, Folk Songs
  7. Gaytheist, Let’s Jam Again Soon
  8. Eluvium, Shuffle Drone
  9. Sampha, Process
  10. Living Colour, Shade

Other favorites from the year:

  • Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise
  • David Rawlings, Poor David’s Almanac
  • Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
  • Leo Imai, Film Scum EP
  • Renée Fleming, Distant Light
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kuukoukyoku~
  • Brandon Stansell, Slow Down
  • Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister, Planetarium

Jason Isbell’s previous two albums ranked high on the Favorite Edition lists of 2013 and 2015, but The Nashville Sound had a tenuous grip on its position in the 2017 list. The late discovery of Sampha and Eluvium gave Isbell the final nudge.

Anne Dudley took up Eluvium’s vacated spot, nearly knocking Living Colour off.

Brandon Stansell makes his first appearance on the list. Stansell performed at the Concert for Love and Acceptance, hosted by Ty Herndon. Like Herndon, Stansell is a country artist, although he’s starting his career out of the closet.

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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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Favorite Edition: Desert Island

[Duran Duran - Rio]

Nobody talks about desert island discs any more.

In fact, a whole generation of readers might find the premise a bit preposterous — a list of 10 albums with which you would want to be stranded on a desert island. You had to suspend belief that you had an infinite electrical supply and a working playback device.

Then music escaped its physical confines, and iPods allowed people to carry entire music collections with them, which today’s subscription services dwarf in terms of supply.

But the desert island disc list still makes for a good thought exercise — in this era of abundance, what would you do in a moment of scarcity? What 10 albums feel as comfortable and reliable as that old jacket or blanket?

I think it’s only in the last decade that my list has finalized.

Duran Duran, Rio

As a teenager, my desert island disc list would have probably included Duran Duran in most slots. While I would hate to leave behind The Wedding Album, Rio is pretty much the go-to album for any Duranie.

Kronos Quartet, Black Angels

The Quartet for Strings No. 8 by Dmitri Shostakovich would be my desert island classical piece — I never tire hearing it. This album introduced me to the piece, and the title work has also become essential repertoire for me.

John Zorn, Naked City

I imagine there will be many frustrating days living on a desert island, and this album would help greatly to cope with those days.

Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball

Growing up in Hawaii meant automatically dismissing country music. Emmylou Harris introduced me to the better stuff.

Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

I was introduced to this album in 2009, right around the time it was starting to get difficult to find something new to move me. So yeah, I was surprised myself.

Cocco, Bougainvillia
NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT
Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana

I feel a bit self-conscious over the fact three Japanese titles show up on this list, but given the number of really good albums that clustered around 1999-2004, it’s was tough keeping SUPERCAR, AJICO and fra-foa off the list, let alone the two Shiina Ringo albums that preceded Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana.

Robin Holcomb, Robin Holcomb

This album reminds me that pop songwriting doesn’t always need to be sweet.

U2, The Joshua Tree

To be honest, this album usually fights for its spot on the list with In Tua Nua’s The Long Acre.

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Purchase log: 2018-02-20

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 / Vinyl
  • Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, Landfall

Catalog

CDs
  • Gustav Holst / Edgard Varèse, Holst: The Planets / Varèse: Arcana
  • John Coltrane, Coltrane Plays The Blues
  • John Coltrane, Standards
  • Thelonious Monk, The Composer
Vinyl
  • New York Dolls, Too Much Too Soon
  • Wilco, Being There
Blu Ray
  • Duran Duran, A Diamond in the Mind: Live 2011

 

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