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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2001

[Fugazi - The Argument]

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 I mentioned in the original entry for the 2001 list, 75 percent of the year was actually really decent, especially where music was concerned. The Favorite 10 from that year remains unchanged.

  1. AJICO, Fukamidori
  2. fra-foa, Chuu no Fuchi
  3. Quruli, Team Rock
  4. eX-Girl, Back to the Mono Kero
  5. ACO, Material
  6. the brilliant green, Los Angeles
  7. Cocco, Sangrose
  8. Res, How I Do
  9. Utada Hikaru, Distance
  10. Onitsuka Chihiro, Insomnia

Other favorites from the year:

  • Hajime Chitose, Kotonoha
  • MONO, Under the Pipal Tree
  • Fugazi, The Argument
  • Low, Things We Lost in the Fire
  • Death Cab for Cutie, The Photo Album
  • bloodthirsty butchers, Yamane
  • Kicell, Yume
  • Shea Seger, The May Street Project
  • Rufus Wainwright, Poses
  • Semisonic, All About Chemistry
  • Missy Elliott, Miss E … So Addictive
  • Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
  • The Shins, Oh, Inverted World!
  • soulsberry, The end of vacation
  • Sigur Rós, Agætis Byrjun
  • Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills

Like 2002 and 2003, the extended list for 2001 overruns with quality stuff, and I’ve only added to it.

I got Gillian Welch’s Hell Among the Yearlings as part of a gift bag from a Waterloo Records holiday party. I didn’t get around to listening to it till about 15 years later, and I had to play catch-up.

I’ve known about Low for years, but I didn’t hear them till MONO shared a bill with them in concert.

The annual Friends of the Library Book Sale hooked me up with Fugazi’s End Hits for $1, so I sought out The Argument to round out my collection. I vaguely remember the news of Fugazi’s hiatus upsetting my Waterloo coworkers. I hadn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon.

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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: 2014

[Huck Hodge - Life Is Endless Like Our Field of Vision]

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 2014 list has already gone through one revision, and this version expands it slightly.

  1. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  2. John Luther Adams, Become Ocean
  3. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds of Country Music
  4. Royal Wood, The Burning Bright
  5. The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring
  6. Meredith Monk, Piano Songs
  7. Inventions, Inventions
  8. MONO, Rays of Darkness
  9. Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kouwankyoku~
  10. BADBADNOTGOOD, III

Other favorites from the year:

  • Juanes, Loco de Amor
  • The Drums, Encyclopedia
  • Cocco, Plan C
  • Shaprece, Molting EP
  • Huck Hodge, Life Is Endless Like Our Field of Vision
  • Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Sam Amidon, Lily-O
  • U2, Songs of Innocence

The year started with Juanes topping the list. He’s now been bumped off the Favorite 10 in favor of BADBADNOTGOOD. Despite that change, the Favorite 10 is pretty solid. The remaining list, however, has expanded to include The Drums and Taylor Swift.

You read that right.

I’ve been curious about 1989 for a while, but I felt no desire to stream it. Yet, a thrift store copy selling for $2 was more incentive to check it out. I wonder why that is? I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.

The Drums’ Encyclopedia didn’t start out as a favorite, but when I stopped expecting it to be a carbon copy of the self-titled debut, its strengths became apparent. That said, it’s really a strange album.

The last addition to the list is an album by Huck Hodge, a University of Washington music composition professor from whom I took a number of classes. I actually heard most of this album in class, so it made sense to own a copy of it.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2016

[Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth]

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 2016 list has actually undergone a revision, so this list consolidates the two entries, with some slight changes.

  1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
  2. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4
  3. MONO, Requiem for Hell
  4. Solange, A Seat at the Table
  5. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service
  6. Perfume, COSMIC EXPLORER
  7. Drive By Truckers, American Band
  8. Shaprece, COALS
  9. Cocco, Adan Ballet
  10. Colvin & Earle, Colvin & Earle

Other favorites from the year:

  • Utada Hikaru, Fantôme
  • Ty Herndon, House on Fire
  • Eluvium, False Readings On
  • Santigold, 99 Cents
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness
  • Blood Orange, Freetown Sound
  • Colin Stetson, Sorrow: A Reimagining of Gorecki’s Third Symphony
  • John Adams, Scheherazade.2

The 10 favorites remain the same, while Utada Hikaru and Ty Herndon get bumped down. ANONHI, Pixies and De La Soul get bumped off completely.

I included Pixies because Head Carrier was an improvement over Indie Cindy, but it wasn’t stellar enough to hold onto its position. Albums by ANONHI and De La Sol were good, but over time, they couldn’t hold onto to their status as favorites.

As I mentioned before, lists from this decade probably won’t see much shifting, as my focus continues to move to exploring catalog. Most of the 2016 releases I bought after the year had passed were vinyl issues.

A Bruce Springsteen compilation accompanying the release of his autobiography did set me on a course to explore his earlier albums.

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Looking ahead: November 2018-January 2019

[Kate Bush - The Red Shoes]

Just in time for the holiday season, a whole slew of box sets make it on the release calendar.

Thought Gang, Thought Gang, Nov. 2

So essentially a Julee Cruise album, minus Julee Cruise? David Lynch and Angelo Badalamanti recorded the material on this album from 1992-1993, but only now does it become public.

Midnight Oil, Armistice Day: Live at the Domain, Sydney, Nov. 9

You can’t watch a Midnight Oil performance without wanting to be Rob Hirst when you grow up.

Kate Bush, Remastered on CD 1, Nov. 16
Kate Bush, Remastered on CD 2, Nov. 30

Kate Bush’s early works suffered the fate of many albums rushed to a CD release — the vinyl masters were used without any consideration of the medium’s expanded dynamic range. Fans have been clamoring for better sound, and in fell swoop, Kate unleashes her entire catalog remastered.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Hometown, Dec. 5

Yeah, it seemed about time for a new AKFG album.

MONO, Nowhere Now Here, Jan. 19

Tamaki on vocals? Electronics? Are they going glitchy like tourmates Low?

Vinyl

Brian Eno, Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Nov. 16

I was wondering when this album was going to get reissued on vinyl.

The Police, Every Move You Make: The Studio Recordings, Nov. 16

In addition to the five studio albums remastered at 45 r.p.m., this box also includes a disc of rarities. I just might find an old copy of Message in a Box instead.

Kate Bush, The Red Shoes, Nov. 16
Kate Bush, Aerial, Nov. 30
Kate Bush, Remastered in Vinyl, Nov. 30

The remastered releases also include vinyl issues, but in the UK, the records will be available in four boxed sets as well as individually. One box set includes remixes and covers. I don’t feel the need to upgrade the vinyl I already have, but I’ve had my eye on The Red Shoes and Aerial.

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Concert Edition 2017

[Janet Jackson, Key Arena, Sept. 27, 2017]

I’m not the kind of person who has to post selfies or photograph everything I’m eating or doing.

Except concerts.

That would be Janet Jackson pictured with this entry.

JACK Quartet, Meany Hall, Jan. 10

I ran into my music theory TA at this concert, and we both we a bit meh about the program. JACK is a great quartet, but I honestly can’t remember much beyond the Morton Feldman piece which opened the concert.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 2], Benaroya Hall, Jan. 27

The [untitled] series introduces me to a lot of new music of which I never follow up after hearing it. I still love going to these concerts, though.

University of Washington Modern Music Ensemble, John Zorn: Cobra, Meany Hall, March 1

I’ve known about Cobra for years, but this performance was the first I’ve attended. Recordings can’t do this piece justice. It must be experienced live to understand it.

Seattle Symphony, Aaron Jay Kernis: Violin Concerto, Benaroya Hall, March 18

Violinist James Ihnes has a lot of creative capital in Seattle as director of the seasonal chamber music festival, so I think the audience was willing to give Kernis’ concerto a chance. The piece and the performance went over well.

Japan Nite Tour, Chop Suey, March 22

Damn, had it been five years since I’ve attended a Japan Nite concert?

Emerson String Quartet, Meany Hall, April 21

There’s no way I would miss an Emerson concert with Shostakovich or Bartok on the program.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 3], Benaroya Hall, April 28

A program centered around Andy Warhol concluded with a “popera”, which actually was far more engaging that I expected.

University of Washington Harry Partch Ensemble, Oedipus: A Music Theater Drama, Meany Hall, May 6

UW has a number of Harry Partch’s custom instruments, which were put to use in a production of Oedipus. Without the visual element, they pretty much sound like gamelan.

Midnight Oil, Moore Theatre, May 31

Yeah, definitely my favorite show of the year. The set list covered the entire span of their career, and just about everything I wanted to hear live I did.

Low + MONO, Neptune Theatre, June 16

I’ve known about Low for a long time — mostly through the band’s cover of “Africa” by Toto — but I was never curious enough to seek them out. I was duly impressed, even if I don’t think I’ll own anything other than Things We Lost in the Fire. MONO, of course, brought it.

The Revolution, Showbox, July 15

The band crafted the set list incredibly well. It started off with some obscure but recognizable stuff, but the second half kicked off the favorites. And everyone left pleased.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Paramount Theatre, Sept. 12

Jason Isbell delivered a flawless performance as usual. The audience, though, was weird. It was a Tuesday night, and the Seattle Freeze was in full force, with half the audience sitting and the other half standing.

Sam Amidon, Fremont Abbey, Sept. 22

If nothing else, you really must go to a Sam Amidon show just to hear him talk between songs.

Janet Jackson, Key Arena, Sept. 27

I held onto my ticket after two cancellations, and I was glad I did. No opening act. Just Janet dishing out hit after hit in an epic DJ mix, only live.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 1], Benaroya Hall, Oct. 13

I think this concert was the first where only one piece on the program was entirely unfamiliar to me. It’s always nice to hear Steve Reich’s Different Trains live.

Depeche Mode, Key Arena, Oct. 21

I think Depeche Mode 101 ruined this concert for me. I hadn’t really followed the band since the early aughts, and much of the set list drew from more recent albums.

Kronos Quartet, Federal Way Performing Arts Center, Nov. 4

Kronos has a way of upending expectations. Just when you think you’ve seen them do something new, some composer has them attach bowstring to a plastic toy.

 

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Looking ahead: January 2017-March 2017

The moment I announced I’m taking a break, a whole bunch of new releases appear on the schedule. I’d be remiss not to preview them.

Royal Wood, Ghost Light, Jan. 27

Ghost Light was released in Canada back in April 2016, but an international release had to wait till now. The cover for this edition — Wood in silhouette — matches the title, but I prefer the Canadian cover because Wood looks hotter in a t-shirt.

Sleater-Kinney, Live in Paris, Jan. 27

I’m still kicking myself for missing the band’s three-night run in Seattle.

Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome, Feb. 1

I haven’t paid much attention to Onitsuka Chihiro since her lackluster cover album FAMOUS MICROPHONE. So it was a surprise to find out she’s on yet another new label, and she released an independent album with a band in 2014.

Deee-Lite, World Clique (Deluxe Edition), March 3

Yeah, it’s about time this album got the reissue treatment.

George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (Deluxe Edition), March 3

I’ll deal with George Michael’s untimely death in a future entry. I didn’t pick up this album till after I heard the news, and I can understand both the initial underwhelming reception and its subsequent critical acclaim.

Cocco, 20 Shuunen Request Best + Rare Track, March 21

What? I’ve been listening to Cocco for 20 years now?

Vinyl

The Old 97s, Too Far to Care, Jan. 13

When I first started buying up vinyl in 2013, I considered getting the reissue of Too Far to Care. I decided against it because I wanted to track down titles preceding the CD era first. By the time I was ready to get it, all the copies had been snatched up. I snagged a used copy two weeks before I saw Music on Vinyl would reissue the original album without the bonus tracks. *sigh*

MONO, Under the Pipal Tree, Jan. 20

I don’t think MONO really topped this debut album till Hymn to the Immortal Wind.

Madonna, The Immaculate Collection (Colored Vinyl), Jan. 24

Am I really going to drop cash on a compilation where I have most of the tracks on other vinyl releases? Evidently.

Eurythmics, Greatest Hits, Jan. 27

I still have all the Eurythmics albums I bought back in the ’80s. I only had to flesh out my collection with In the Garden and We Too Are One.

Madonna, Confessions on the Dance Floor, Jan. 31

This album was really welcome after a pair of back-to-back disappointments with Music and American Life.

Eluvium, Copia, Feb. 3

I would be so on board with a reissue of An Accidental Memory in Case of Death.

Duran Duran, The Wedding Album, Feb. 10

Let’s see if this release date sticks. I think it’ll have been nearly a year since this reissue popped up on the schedule.

John Zorn, Spy Vs. Spy: Music of Ornette Coleman, March 3

I found an original Nonesuch pressing of this album many months back, but it’s a definite recommendation for anyone who loves Naked City.

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Favorite Edition 2016: Year Final

[Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth]

What a spiteful year 2016 has turned out to be. I won’t hazard how subsequent years may turn out with the impending leadership change in Washington, D.C., but for now, 2016 has just been a veritable shitstorm.

In terms of music, 2016 has been lackluster. I encountered a lot of albums that were likable but very few I could really love. In a few instances, some of my favorite bands turned out some of their most interesting music in their careers, but I couldn’t muster excitement for them.

  1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth: Sturgill Simpson played a two-hour set with no encore at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle in November. He spent the first hour performing songs from his previous album. Then he spent the next hour playing A Sailor’s Guide to Earth from start to finish with a whole lot of room for jamming. That’s something a composer would do.
  2. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4: Insistent.
  3. MONO, Requiem for Hell Of the two albums MONO released in 2014, Rays of Darkness was my favorite. I didn’t imagine the ideas on that album could be exploded.
  4. Solange, A Seat at the Table: Solange not only out-Lemonaded Beyoncé, she also out-Blonded Frank Ocean.
  5. Shaprece, COALS: Björk, if she were black.
  6. Drive By Truckers, American Band: I’ve known about Drive By Truckers for years, but I finally took the plunge with this album. So that’s who took up the Uncle Tupelo mantle.
  7. Cocco, Adan Ballet: This album won’t dislodge Rapunzel or Bougainvillia as a fan favorite, but it’s some of the best work she’s done since Sangrose.
  8. Colvin & Earle, Colvin & Earle: This pairing of Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin looks unlikely on paper, but intuitively, you could tell the universe was ready for it.
  9. Utada Hikaru, Fantôme: I’m beginning to realize Utada Hikaru was PBR&B before Solange started hanging out with Dirty Projectors.
  10. Ty Herndon, House on Fire: It’s tough not to read some autobiography into this album, the first Ty Herndon released after revealing he’s gay. It’s also tough not to get swept up in the confidence and energy pouring out of the speakers.

Other notable albums:

  • Eluvium, False Readings On
  • Santigold, 99 Cents
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness
  • Blood Orange, Freetown Sound
  • AHOHNI, HOPELESSNESS
  • Pixies, Head Carrier
  • Colin Stetson, Sorrow: A Reimagining of Gorecki’s Third Symphony
  • John Adams, Scheherazade.2
  • De La Soul, and the Anonymous Nobody

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Looking ahead: September-October 2016

[John Adams - Scheherezade.2]

Well, Frank Ocean finally dropped his much anticipated album Blonde. I think the fall 2016 release schedule can get drunk and go home now.

John Adams, Scheherezade.2, Sept. 30

John Adams brought Scheherezade.2 to the Seattle Symphony last season. Leila Josefowicz must have dropped some mean gauntlet for Adams to create a work of such athleticism. I’m not sure if I absorbed enough of the piece in the concert hall because that was a lot of music.

Steve Reich, The ECM Recordings, Sept. 30

From what I can tell on Amazon, this reissue of Steve Reich’s albums on ECM won’t split the movements of each work into individual tracks. That would seem to be an important oversight to correct on a reissue.

MONO, Requiem for Hell, Oct. 14, 2016

Reports indicate the orchestras are on their way back on this album.

Nico Muhly and Tietur, Confessions, Oct. 21

Songs inspired by YouTube comments performed by a Baroque ensemble — if anyone can make this premise work, it’s Nico Muhly.

Shaprece, COALS, Oct. 28

Shaprece’s performance with Seattle Symphony was riveting, and I’ve been looking forward to this album since.

Ty Herndon, House on Fire, Nov. 11

Ty Herndon announced this album was to be released back in May when he performed in Seattle back in February, but now it looks like he has some label interest. No date has been specified for the release. UPDATE, 09/11/2016: Herndon announced a release date of Nov. 11, 2016, with pre-orders starting on Oct. 11, i.e. National Coming Out Day.

Vinyl

Angelo Badalamanti, Music from Twin Peaks, Sept. 9

I can’t hear that descending/ascending bass line without picturing the dancing little man.

Madonna, Something to Remember, Sept. 13

Ray of Light seems to have dropped off the release schedule for now with Something to Remember taking its place.

Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl, Sept. 23

Like Wrecking Ball before it, Red Dirt Girl was a pivotal album for Emmylou Harris, marking her transition from interpreter to songwriter.

Kronos Quartet, Pieces of Africa, Sept. 23

I’m hoping this release is the first in a series of Kronos Quartet vinyl reissues because I’m not yet in the financial straits to track down the European pressing of Black Angels.

Duran Duran, The Wedding Album, Sept. 23

This reissue was actually listed for a March release, which came and went without notice. Then it popped back up for September.

Sting, The Studio Collection, Sept. 30

Brand New Day and Sacred Love make their first appearance on vinyl, but the only album I’m really interested in is Ten Summoner’s Tales, a European release of which I can still snag online.

Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet, Dracula, Oct. 28

In time for Halloween!

 

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Concert Edition 2015

[Duran Duran, Washington State Fair, Sept. 23, 2015]

Concert reviews were always something I wanted to write for this site, but I never drummed up the gumption to jot down my thoughts about shows after I attend them. In reality, I didn’t want shows to become means to an end, in the same way album purchases had become source for reviews.

Still, I go to a lot of concerts, and it feels awkward not mentioning them at least once.

So I’m going to do a year-end overview of all the shows I’ve attended in the past year.

Continue reading »

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