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.
Back in February, I argued 2002 was an important year in music of the 2000s. 2003 is no slouch in that regard either. The list from that year sees no major changes.
- Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana
- ACO, Irony
- Molotov, Dance and Dense Denso
- Café Tacuba, Cuatro Caminos
- ART-SCHOOL, LOVE/HATE
- Sasagawa Miwa, Jijitsu
- bloodthirsty butchers, Kouya ni Okeru bloodthirsty butchers
- Bonnie Pink, Present
- downy, untitled third album
- Explosions in the Sky, The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place
Other favorites from the year:
- Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
- Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism
- Bleach, Bleach
- The Postal Service, Give Up
- NUMBER GIRL, Sapporo OMOIDE IN MY HEAD Joutai
- Onitsuka Chihiro, Sugar High
- Original Cast Recording, Avenue Q
- Emmylou Harris, Stumble Into Grace
- NIRGILIS, Tennis
- Rufus Wainwright, Want One
- Hayashi Asuca, Saki
- Caitlin Cary, I’m Staying Out
- The Bad Plus, These Are the Vistas
- DJ Krush, Shinsou ~Message from the Depth~
- Benjamin Gibbard / Andrew Kenny, Home, Vol. 5
- The Wrens, The Meadowlands
- Longwave, The Strangest Things
The only change is switching out Explosions in the Sky for Outkast, and the extended list adds the Wrens and Longwave.
I was working at Waterloo Records in 2003, and legitimate download services hadn’t gotten off the ground yet to stem the tide of rampant file sharing. So I was discovering a lot of great music through word of mouth and on the job.
While I’ve added a number of 2003 titles to my collection in the following years, few have edged their way into this already crowded field.
So I guess I’m pretty set where 2003 is concerned.
Tags: aco, andrew kenny, art-school, benjamin gibbard, bleach, bloodthirsty butchers, bonnie pink, cafe tacuba, caitlyn cary, death cab for cutie, dj krush, downy, emmylou harris, explosions in the sky, favorite edition, hayashi asuca, longwave, molotov, nirgilis, number girl, onitsuka chihiro, outkast, rewind, rufus wainwright, sasagawa miwa, shiina ringo, soundtrack, the bad plus, the postal service, the wrens
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.
Labor Day sales at thrift stores are a dangerous combination.
- Blood Orange, Negro Swan
- Troye Sivan, Bloom
- Molotov, MTV Unplugged: El Disconecte
- Santigold, I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions
- Anonymous 4, Love’s Illusion
- Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend
- Boris, Akuma no Uta
- Edgard Varèse, The Complete Works
- Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
- Giovanni Palestrina, Palestrina Masses (Tallis Scholars)
- Iron and Wine, Around the Well
- Jayne Cortez, Everywhere Drums
- John Coltrane, Soultrane
- Joni Mitchell, Hejira
- Loretta Lynn, Country Music Hall of Fame
- McCoy Tyner, Echoes of a Friend
- Midnight Oil, Scream In Blue
- Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain
- Moby, Everything Is Wrong
- Semisonic, All About Chemistry
- The Books, The Lemon of Pink
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love
- Various Artists, If I Were a Carpenter
- Various Composers, la Quinta essentia (Huelgas-Ensemble)
- Various Composers, Musica Nova (Consort Veneto)
- Vivian Green, A Love Story
- Bananarama, True Confessions
- Giovanni Palestrina, Missa “De Beata Virgine” (Chorus “Jeunesses Musicales”)
- Madonna, You Can Dance
- Rupert Holmes, Partners in Crime
Tags: anonymous 4, bananarama, blood orange, bob marley, edgard varese, fleet foxes, giovanni palestrina, iron and wine, jayne cortez, jimi hendrix, john coltrane, joni mitchell, loretta lynn, mccoy tyner, midnight oil, miles davis, moby, molotov, purchase log, rupert holmes, santigold, semisonic, the books, troye sivan, various artists, various composers, vivian green
I balked when Barsuk Records released a 10-year anniversary edition of Give Up by the Postal Service. Yes, add 10 to 2003 and you get 2013. But 2003 didn’t seem so distant from 2013, as 2003 did from 1993.
That’s the thing about getting older — there’s more past to remember. In 1987, I had barely any memory of 1977. In 1997, I had only 1987 as a clear reference. Only in 2007 did 1987 start to feel distant. And now I’m shocked to think 1997 — the year I moved away from home — is pretty far chronologically from where I am today.
So yeah, 2007 still feels like yesterday, although 2002 does feel more like history.
Tokyo Jihen, Sports
Shiina Ringo’s albums from earlier in the decade saw her batting a hundred, but with Tokyo Jihen, it took a few albums before the band came into its own.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Century of Self
Source Tags and Codes was the obvious choice to include on this list, but recent spins of the album revealed a number of dead spots. Lost Songs wouldn’t show up till the next decade, which leaves The Century of Self next in line on my list of favorite … Trail of Dead albums.
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, World World World
At first, I dismissed ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION as a watered-down version of Eastern Youth. Then World World World came out, and I became a convert.
Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
It took a while for me to warm up to The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, but All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone had a clarity that hooked me for good.
Utada Hikaru, ULTRA BLUE
Utada Hikaru’s US debut Exodus went too far to rub out the alt-rock influence in her music, so it was refreshing to hear it come roaring back on ULTRA BLUE.
Sigur Rós, Takk …
I was unfamiliar with Sigur Rós when this album was released, so I asked a friend of mine to describe their albums to me. He told me to imagine a cold, flat icy land, and that was Ágætis byrjun. Then he told me to picture 1,000 angels appearing in bursts of blinding light. That was Takk …
Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana
I’m convinced if this album had been released in the US, indie rock fans would have abandoned their Flaming Lips albums.
Molotov, Dance Dense and Denso
US promoters tried and failed to conflate Latin American rap-rock bands as epitomizing Latin alternative rock. Molotov stood head and shoulders above the rest, and they shared more with Café Tacvba and Aterciopelados than with Puya or Control Machete.
Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
The year I started working for Waterloo Records was the year Norah Jones made a splash with her debut album. I wasn’t convinced, mostly because I had spent weeks listening to Hatakeyama Miyuki instead.
UA and Asai Kenichi came together for only one album, but boy is it a keeper. UA had found success on the Oricon charts before this collaboration, but afterward, she embraced a more challenging sound.
fra-foa, Chuu no Fuchi
Every time I put this album on, I feel the need to fuck shit up. It’s that intense.
Tags: ajico, and you will know us by the trail of dead, asian kung-fu generation, explosions in the sky, fra-foa, hatakeyama miyuki, molotov, music discovery, shiina ringo, sigur ros, tokyo jihen, utada hikaru
Just because this site is no longer review-driven doesn’t mean I’ve stopped listening to newer releases, and no music writer worth her salt can resist the compulsion to make lists.
The first half of the Favorite Edition 2014 are the titles I anticipate will keep some sort of ranking by year’s end. The second half of the list is up for grabs.
- Juanes, Loco de Amor: This album could very well be Juanes’ best. The writing is some of his catchiest since La Vida es … Un Ratico, and producer Steve Lillywhite gives him a big arena sound. (It’s there in the drums.) Loco de Amor finds Juanes rejuvenated after the lackluster P.A.R.C.E.
- The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring: I’ve been waiting for this album since a video of The Bad Plus performing the seminal Stravinsky ballet hit the Internet many years back. Similar to the trio’s reworking of Ligeti etudes, The Bad Plus rely on their virtuosity to give The Rite of Spring a fairly faithful reading.
- Royal Wood, The Burning Bright: I wasn’t very impressed with Royal Wood’s hitmaking album, We Were Born to Glory, and neither was he. So Wood retreated to Ireland, where he crafted The Burning Bright, an album steeped in heartache and cautious optimism.
- Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kouwankyoku~: I had to listen to this album three times before I could orient myself to what was happening. Gyakuyunyuu is billed as a “self-cover album,” featuring songs Shiina contributed to other artists. I was half-expecting another Utaite Myouri, but instead, I got her strangest and most baffling solo album to date. The stylistic whiplash makes the album something of a hot but fascinating mess.
- Meredith Monk, Piano Songs: Double Edge recorded Monk’s Phantom Waltz back in 1992, and I’ve always wondered if there was more from where that came from. This album answers that question.
- Molotov, Agua Maldita: The blistering anger of Molotov’s previous decade has evolved into something much more tuneful.
- Inventions, Inventions: My first listen of Inventions’ self-titled album left no impression at all, but an extended coding session made me realize this album is actually quite compelling. I would put the Eluvium/Exploisions in the Sky ratio at around 60/40, though.
- Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour: Sam Smith does indeed possess an incredible set of pipes. What he has yet to acquire is an adventurousness on the level of James Blake. This debut is appealing, but like Janelle Monae, Smith has potential that is not yet tapped.
- Ben Watt, Hendra: Do you miss Everything But the Girl? Hendra, Watt’s first solo album in a number of decades, picks up where Amplified Heart left off before Everything But the Girl ventured into electronic dance music.
And a few more favorites …
- Favorite reissue: Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball (Deluxe Edition)
- Favorite catalog discovery: Neneh Cherry, Raw Like Sushi
- Favorite vinyl find: Last Exit, Iron Path
- Favorite late discover from 2013: Jason Isbell, Southeastern
Tags: ben watt, favorite edition, inventions, juanes, meredith monk, molotov, royal wood, sam smith, shiina ringo, the bad plus