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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1999

[SUPERCAR - JUMP UP]

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.

Here’s my matrix of the most important years in music for the last 4 decades:

  • 2010s: 2015 (so far)
  • 2000s: 2002
  • 1990s: 1998
  • 1980: 1987

The years adjacent to the ones listed are also pretty pivotal, which is the case for 1999. The list doesn’t change much, but a lot of great music came out that year.

  1. NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT
  2. Shiina Ringo, Muzai Moratorium
  3. Utada Hikaru, First Love
  4. ACO, absolute ego
  5. Nina Hynes, Creation
  6. SUPERCAR, Jump Up
  7. The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin
  8. Port of Notes, Complain Too Much
  9. Mandy Barnett, I’ve Got a Right to Cry
  10. The Kiss Offs, Goodbye Private Life

Other favorites from the year:

  • L’Arc~en~Ciel, ray
  • Jordan Knight, Jordan Knight
  • eX-Girl, Kero! Kero! Kero!
  • NUMBER GIRL, DESTRUCTION BABY
  • OBLIVION DUST, Reborn
  • UA, turbo
  • Moby, Play
  • Maná, MTV Unplugged
  • Dr.StrangeLove, Twin Suns
  • The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • Fantastic Plastic Machine, Luxury
  • Asylum Street Spankers, Hot Lunch
  • Café Tacuba, Revés/Yo Soy

A retrospective addition of SUPERCAR bumps L’arc~en~Ciel to the extended list. Futurama was the first SUPERCAR album I owned, and I liked it so much, I was hesitant to explore the band’s early work, out of fear it wouldn’t live up.

As it turns out, Futurama was the last of SUPERCAR’s great albums. The first two albums are classics in their own right. I’ve yet to dig into Ookeah! and Ooyeah!

I’ve only added Moby, The Roots and Fantastic Plastic Machine to the extended list, but albums by Wilco, Rage Against the Machine, Built to Spill and Mos Def could have made it on there. I just wanted to avoid the kind of crowding we saw in 2002 and 2003.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2000

[Tomosaka Rie - Shoujo Robot]

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’m flabbergasted by the idea that, as of this writing, the year 2000 is nearly 20 years ago. As much as I lionize the music I heard in high school, the music of my late 20s has been incredibly influential, perhaps professionally as well as personally. Thus, we don’t see much change from the original list.

  1. Shiina Ringo, Shouso Strip
  2. Cocco, Rapunzel
  3. NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
  4. SUPERCAR, Futurama
  5. eX-Girl, Big When Far, Small When Close
  6. Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One
  7. Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows
  8. FEED, Make Every Stardust Shimmer!
  9. Tomosaka Rie, “Shoujo Robot”
  10. Sade, Lovers Rock

Other favorites from the year:

  • Do As Infinity, Break of Dawn
  • Yaida Hitomi, daiya-monde
  • PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
  • OBLIVION DUST, Butterfly Head
  • At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command
  • L’Arc~en~Ciel, REAL
  • Bonnie Pink, Let Go
  • MISSILE GIRL SCOOT, Fiesta!
  • Smashing Pumpkins, MACHINA/The Machine of God
  • m-flo, Planet Shining
  • Juanes, Fíate Bien
  • Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl
  • U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  • La Ley, Uno
  • Sinéad O’Connor, Faith and Courage
  • Soundtrack, High Fidelity
  • BBMak, Sooner or Later

At the time of its release, I was just glad All That You Can’t Leave Behind was not a continuation of Pop. The recent vinyl reissue of the album, unfortunately, reveals its shortcomings. Thus, it loses its original ranking in the Favorite 10.

Plot twist: I panned 2004’s How to Build an Atomic Bomb, but that album has endured far better than All That You Can’t Leave Behind. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Idlewild’s 1000 Broken Windows takes the spot vacated by U2.

Do As Infinity probably could have held onto its place in the Favorite 10 on the strength of “Raven” alone. At the time, most J-Pop I had encountered relied heavily on keyboards and drum machines, so a karaoke-ready band with crunchy guitars felt novel to me.

I can’t say I love Break of Dawn as much now. It’s rare that singles displace albums for the Favorite 10, but all three tracks on “Shoujo Robot” hint at an awesome album I wish Shiina Ringo and Tomosaka Rie recorded.

The extended list is really just all the titles that could have legitimately competed for that bottom spot on the Favorite 10.

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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: 2003

[The Wrens - The Meadowlands]

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.

  1. Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana
  2. ACO, Irony
  3. Molotov, Dance and Dense Denso
  4. Café Tacuba, Cuatro Caminos
  5. ART-SCHOOL, LOVE/HATE
  6. Sasagawa Miwa, Jijitsu
  7. bloodthirsty butchers, Kouya ni Okeru bloodthirsty butchers
  8. Bonnie Pink, Present
  9. downy, untitled third album
  10. 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.

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Purchase log, 2018-06-19

[NUMBER GIRL - Shibuya ROCKTRANSFORMED Joutai]

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
  • Black Flag, Damaged
  • D’Angelo, Voodoo
  • GLAY, pure soul
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue
  • Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • The Beatles, Abbey Road
  • The Human League, Crash
Vinyl
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue
  • Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • Sade, Lovers Rock
  • Sade, Soldier of Love
Blu Ray
  • NUMBER GIRL, Shibuya ROCKTRANSFORMED Joutai
  • NUMBER GIRL, Kirorku Eizou LIVE 1999-2002

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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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45 Albums for 45 Years: A Birthday Retrospective (1990s)

[Talitha Mackenzie - Solas]

An analysis of Spotify data in 2015 quantified how listeners stray from popular titles as they age. I don’t know if the music I listened to in my 20s could have ever been called “popular”, but compared to the excitement of discovery in the ’80s, the ’90s were bit of a let-down.

Grunge was conflated to represent all forms of post-punk music, and the major label gold rush to find the next Nirvana eventually dead-ended into Nickelback. In response, I took up Celtic music, downtown New York jazz, modern classical music, Japanese indie rock and country music.

I was at sea.

Shiina Ringo, Shousou Strip

Sure, the loud guitars, infectious melodies and epic production could have won me over, but it was the conclusion of “Gibusu” where the effects go utterly bugfuck that convinced me Shiina Ringo was a keeper.

NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT

I may have eventually found my way to Sonic Youth and Pixies by some other means, but it was NUMBER GIRL that was my gateway to old school punk.

Madonna, Ray of Light

This album arrived when I was exploring the gay bars in Austin after I moved away from home. I still like this album. I cannot say the same for gay bars or Austin.

Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Like probably most people who love this album to death, I didn’t discover it till about many, many years after it was released. But it has enough of a late-’90s patina to evoke that period.

Cocco, Bougainvillia

The few articles about Cocco translated into English I found on the Internet at the time seemed to credit her for paving the way for Utada Hikaru and Shiina Ringo, and we should all be thankful for that.

Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians (Nonesuch)

I wouldn’t encounter this 1996 Nonesuch recording till it was compiled in a 2005 boxed set. Philip Glass was waning as my favorite minimalist, and this recording pretty much catapulted Reich to the top.

Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball

The only people in Hawaii who listened to country music lived on the military bases. But a interview promo disc of Emmylou Harris talking about Wrecking Ball got me interested in the album. It made my move to Austin, Texas two years later slightly more plausible.

Talitha Mackenzie, Solas

As much I loved Clannad and Enya, Talitha Mackenzie drew the connections between Scottish waulking songs and hip-hop, Bulgarian folk music and techno.

Duran Duran, The Wedding Album

It was great seeing people getting back into Duran Duran, but I don’t think my love for this album would have been reinforced without the aid of the Tiger Mailing List, the first Internet community in which I participated.

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish

Nevermind would have been the easy choice, but I would have never picked up the seminal Nirvana album if Butch Vig hadn’t worked with Smashing Pumpkins on Gish beforehand.

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Looking ahead: January-April 2016

[Henryk Górecki - Symphony No. 4]

Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4, The Tansman Episodes, Jan. 22

First announced for a release in September 2015, then October, this posthumous symphony finally arrives. I bet the hold up was coordinating with the vinyl release of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3.

Conrad Keely, Original Machines, Jan. 22

Part of me is always skeptical about solo projects, but the two tracks previewed by Superball Music on YouTube has me optimistic about this album.

 Santigold, 99 Cents, Feb. 26

Does anyone else get the sense that the anticipation for this album has been a bit tepid? Her label doesn’t seem to be pouring much effort in getting the word out.

Royal Wood, Ghost Light, April 22

I hope the creative momentum Royal Wood started with The Burning Bright continues with this next release.

Vinyl

Björk, Vulnicura Strings, Jan. 8

I still can’t figure out if I like Vulnicura Strings over Vulnicura.

Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3, Jan. 22

In anticipation of this release, I listened to Górecki’s previous symphonies. The Third definitely deserves its chart-topping status, but the symphonies leading up to it are far more demanding.

Sonic Youth, Goo, Jan. 26

I actually found a used copy of this album on vinyl selling for a not-exorbitant price, but if I didn’t, I would be picking it up.

Original Soundtrack, High Fidelity, Jan. 29

This release is regular black vinyl. I do see the Record Store Day orange vinyl pressing about town, though.

NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT, Jan. 29

NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI, Jan. 29

NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETTALIC, Jan. 29

My brother’s Amazon Japan gift certificate arrives just in time.

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