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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: 2010

[TOUMING MAGAZINE - Our Soul Music]

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.

2010 was a solid year in music, led by strong showings from Shiina Ringo and Cocco. So this version of the Favorite Edition list doesn’t stray much from the original.

  1. Tokyo Jihen, Sports
  2. Cocco, Emerald
  3. Renée Fleming, Dark Hope
  4. LOVE PSYCHEDELICO, ABBOT KINNEY
  5. Res, Black.Girls.Rock!
  6. Royal Wood, The Waiting
  7. KIMONOS, Kimonos
  8. ACO, devil’s hands
  9. The Drums, The Drums
  10. Oriental Love Ring, In This World

Other favorites from the year:

  • Jónsi, Go
  • LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening
  • Sade, Soldier of Love
  • Friday Night Lights, Original Television Soundtrack, Vol. 2
  • TOUMING MAGAZINE, Our Soul Music

I was always a bit ambivalent about ranking LCD Soundsystem over Sade, so the late discovery of The Drums banished both from the Favorite 10.

I’ve been waiting for an album by Oriental Love Ring for more than 30 years, so learning it happened — albeit two years after it was released — meant something had to give. And it fell to Jónsi.

The final retroactive addition to the list is the debut album by TOUMING MAGAZINE. I try not to translate foreign language album titles, but since my traditional Chinese is non-existent, it’s safest to give a correct English title than a mangled transliterated one.

Google Translate says 我們的靈魂樂 is pronounced “Wǒmen de línghún lè”. The band says the title is Our Soul Music.

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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: 2013

[Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe]

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 relaunched this site in early 2014 to focus more on discovering catalog music than newer artists. As a result, I didn’t get a chance to revise the Favorite Edition 2013 list after I discovered a number of critical favorites.

  1. Jason Isbell, Southeastern
  2. Jarell Perry, Simple Things
  3. Patty Griffin, Silver Bell
  4. Sam Amidon, Bright Sunny South
  5. James Blake, Overgrown
  6. Sigur Rós, Kveikur
  7. Hem, Departure and Farewell
  8. Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe
  9. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
  10. LEO Imai, Made from Nothing

Other favorites from the year:

  • Rhye, Woman
  • Kanye West, Yeezus
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Magnetized
  • TV Mania, Bored with the Internet and Prozac?
  • Ty Herndon, Lies I Told Myself
  • Res, Refried Mac
  • Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady

Jason Isbell had caught my eye with the stark but stunning cover of Southeastern, but I didn’t follow up on that fascination till well into 2014. Nor did I make the connection between Blood Orange and Solange till after 2013 had passed.

Isbell and Blood Orange bumped Johnny Hates Jazz and TV Mania, while Rhye and Kanye West nearly crack the Favorite 10.

I dug The College Dropout, but West can teach Billy Corgan lessons in being insufferable. Yeezus, though, sounded like an indie rock record, so I could overlook the man and focus on the art. I wouldn’t cut him that slack nowadays.

Ty Herndon came out of the closet in 2014, and he was cute enough for me to take a listen to his greatest hits collection, This Is Ty Herndon. I ended up liking it more than I expected, mostly because I really can’t stand country radio.

Lies I Told Myself shows up on this list because it sounds way more confident than anything on This Is Ty Herndon.

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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: 2015

[Gaytheist / Rabbits - Gay*Bits]

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.

2015 started strong with the return of Sleater-Kinney, and it stayed strong all the way through the release of the Hamilton cast recording. That said, the list goes through quite a number of changes, consolidating some stragglers and bouncing a few titles off.

  1. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical
  2. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  3. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
  4. Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
  5. Torche, Restarter
  6. Björk, Vulnicura
  7. Deebs and Jarell Perry, Shift
  8. Steve Grand, All-American Boy
  9. Janet Jackson, Unbreakable
  10. Gaytheist/Rabbits, Gay*Bits

Other favorites from the year:

  • Software Giant, We Are Overcome
  • Miguel, Wildheart
  • Madonna, Rebel Heart
  • Duran Duran, Paper Gods
  • Enya, Dark Sky Island
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness
  • Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Wonder Future
  • Andrew Norman, Play
  • Troye Sivan, Blue Neighborhood

The Favorite 10 sees one title switched out — Gaytheist and Rabbit’s split EP for Miguel’s Wildheart. Father John Misty, Takaakira Goto, Seattle Symphony and Kronos Quartet make way for Andrew Norman, Troye Sivan and Software Giant.

Eight years into 2010s, 2015 is so far turning out to be my favorite year for the decade. The hierarchy of the list gives a false sense of preference — some of the albums outside of the Favorite 10 got as much play time as those at the top of the list.

Duran Duran and Enya could have occupied spots in the Favorite 10 if the field weren’t so crowded.

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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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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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Rewind: Semisonic, All About Chemistry

[Semisonic - All About Chemistry]

Semisonic’s 2001 album All About Chemistry was an early entry in my Favorite Edition list that year. By the end of the year, it had been crowded out by a lot of really good Japanese indie rock. (AJICO’s Fukamidori and fra-foa’s Chuu no Fuchi would top the list.)

It ended up on the chopping block when money got tight a few years later.

This glowing review attempts to capture my enthusiasm for the album, but it reads pretty clumsily. “Blip on the proverbial pop music radar”? How did I find such phrasing acceptable?

Most reviewers I read at the time would use lyrics to explicate a songwriters’ state of mind, but I tended to write about what’s happening musically. I don’t do so on this review because Dan Wilson is a clever lyricist, and I actually paid as much attention to the words as the music.

That’s not to say I did a very good job of explaining how.

It’s tough to remember how prevalent the likes of Limp Bizkit and Korn were at the start of the 2000s, but my description of Wilson’s voice is a reaction to that. It also looks like a take a dig at Wayne Coyne, but in a way, it’s a dig at Wilson for having a smooth voice.

I’ve actually missed having this album in my collection. In the years since letting it go, I would crave hearing the title track.

But I also have to find some amusement in my naive enthusiasm for it. As voracious as my appetite for music was, I can’t say my knowledge ran deep nor wide. All About Chemistry seemed revelatory for its wit and melodic sense. I may have even played it on a shift at Waterloo and got some questionable looks from co-workers.

It’s an enjoyable album, but it’s not as profound as I thought it was.

Rewind takes a look at past Musicwhore.org reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.

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Rewind: BBMak, Into Your Head

[BBMak - Into Your Head]

As the late 90s pop boom that brought forth ‘Nsync and Britney Spears crested, an enterprising A&R person in England thought a band with the same kind of pop appeal who could play their own instruments might turn a quick buck or two.

BBMak fit that bill, and as snobish as I was about the bubblegum pop ilk, I was willing to give them a shake. My review of the band’s first album, Sooner or Later, dripped with damning praise, but I did go as far as compare them to Duran Duran. The second album, Into Your Head, didn’t fare as well.

Back then, I still wanted my rock music to be dark and evil, or at least melancholy. A number of tracks on Sooner or Later fulfilled the latter requirement, but Into Your Head was a different beast altogether.

After 16 years, enough time has passed to evaluate Into Your Head on its own terms, and honestly, it’s quite refreshing. Maybe I’m just more mellow in my dotage, but the sunniness of the album is more of an asset than an annoyance.

The band lays pretty heavy on the guitars, probably acknowledging that Linkin Park was becoming a thing. At the same time, they double down on the smooth harmonies and earnest lyrics.

My original reaction was to call it “generic”. I question that assessment now, or rather, I don’t remember the context which made me arrive at that conclusion. BBMak’s contemporaries were so forgettable, it’s tough to draw a meaningful comparison.

Listening to both albums after nearly 20 years, BBMak flexed more muscle on Into Your Head by going for a bigger, anthemic sound, and it works.

But the target market was moving on. The teens who buoyed the pop groups were starting college, and file sharing had decimated the mass market. In 2002, labels didn’t have the marketing leverage to bring BBMak to ‘Nsync levels. Heck, ‘Nsync itself had all but broken up by 2005.

BBMak announced it reunited in 2018, and I learned about it, oddly enough, from a retweet by Duran Duran’s official Twitter account. I must admit I’m looking forward to what the band produces next.

Rewind takes a look at past Musicwhore.org reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.

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