Archives

Favorite Edition Rewind: 1990

[Uncle Tupelo - No Depression]

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.

1990 has always felt more like 1989 v.2.0 than 1990 v.1.0. It was clearly the start of a pivot that wouldn’t really end till 1992, but the ’80s held its grip on that first year of the decade (if you’re using a 0-based system.)

  1. Kronos Quartet, Black Angels
  2. Robin Holcomb, Robin Holcomb
  3. John Zorn / Naked City, Naked City
  4. Midnight Oil, Blue Sky Mining
  5. Sonic Youth, Goo
  6. The Waitresses, Best of the Waitresses
  7. Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Akira Original Soundtrack
  8. Madonna, I’m Breathless
  9. The Sundays, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
  10. Living Colour, Time’s Up

Other favorites from the year:

  • Duran Duran, Liberty
  • Depeche Mode, Violator
  • Deee-Lite, World Clique
  • Enigma, MCMXC a.D.
  • Meredith Monk, Book of Days
  • Joan Tower, Silver Ladders / Island Prelude / Music for Cello and Orchestra / Sequoia
  • Uncle Tupelo, No Depression
  • Jane’s Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual
  • Fugazi, Repeater
  • Information Society, Hack
  • Björk, Gling-Gló
  • Wendy and Lisa, Eroica
  • Lisa Stansfield, Affection
  • Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

1990-me would have protested the inclusion of Uncle Tupelo on this list. 1995-me would have had to slap some sense into him.

1990-me would have also questioned the addition of Lisa Stansfield, and 2008-me would have had to confront him about how he secretly loved “All Around the World.”

1990-me would have also wondered why 2008-me didn’t include Jane’s Addiction the first time around. 2008-me would have shrugged.

I would like to think 2008-me relished introducing 1990-me to Fugazi. 1990-me would not have been prepared for them, however.

All of us are still wondering how I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got manages to stay on the list.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition Rewind: 1992

[Helmet - Meantime]

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.

We’ve actually revisited 1992 earlier in the year, and this list hasn’t changed, although I did tack on L7 and Helmet in the extended list.

  1. Wayne Horvitz / The President, Miracle Mile
  2. Máire Brennan, Máire
  3. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Dawn Upshaw, David Zinman, London Sinfonietta)
  4. k.d. lang, Ingenue
  5. Sade, Love Deluxe
  6. En Vogue, Funky Divas
  7. Prince and the New Power Generation, 0(+> (Love Symbol Album)
  8. Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman
  9. Kronos Quartet, Pieces of Africa
  10. Robin Holcomb, Rockabye

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Sugarcubes, Stick Around for Joy
  • Faith No More, Angel Dust
  • Sonic Youth, Dirty
  • Helmet, Meantime
  • L7, Bricks Are Heavy

Helmet got caught up in the grunge craze of the early ’90s, even though they were clearly not grunge. Wikipedia says Helmet’s staccato riffage would influence Mastodon, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Korn and Linkin Park.

I’ll admit I picked up Meantime because of the grunge-adjacent marketing hype. I didn’t hold onto it, but like Shudder to Think’s Pony Express Record, I couldn’t shake it. So I brought it back into my collection when it was reissued on vinyl earlier in the year.

Bricks Are Heavy also suffered a bit of guilt by association. Butch Vig had been doing miraculous work with Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Surely, L7 would follow in that vein. I didn’t warm up to it. I’m not sure how 25 years turned around my perception of the album, but it did.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reconsidering the year in music 1992

[Wayne Horvitz/The President - Miracle Mile]

Back in 2008, I wrote a series of entries detailing my favorite albums from various decades. For the longest time, I held an incredibly dim view of 1992. Compared the years preceding and following, 1992 felt like a creative malaise had spread throughout the music industry.

Bands that used to be underground found themselves to be popular, and under this newfound, wide-scale scrutiny, some of them cracked.

Or so I thought.

I had only turned 20 years old, an age when the dopamine hit from discovering new music left a neophyte intoxicated. I wanted every album to matter, and the ones that didn’t received a harsh judgment.

Twenty-five years later, I’ve got more of an education on where 1992 fit in the larger scheme of things, and of course, I got it wrong. This old entry details all the ways I got it wrong. So let’s make it right.

Here’s a revised list of the Favorite Edition 1992.

  1. Wayne Horvitz/The President, Miracle Mile
  2. Máire Brennan, Máire
  3. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Dawn Upshaw, David Zinman, London Sinfonietta)
  4. k.d. lang, Ingenue
  5. Sade, Love Deluxe
  6. En Vogue, Funky Divas
  7. Prince and the New Power Generation, 0(+> (Love Symbol Album)
  8. Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman
  9. Kronos Quartet, Pieces of Africa
  10. Robin Holcomb, Rockabye

Honorable mention

  • The Sugarcubes, Stick Around for Joy
  • Faith No More, Angel Dust
  • Sonic Youth, Dirty

The original list stopped at five items, with a longer list of albums accompanied by explanations for why they weren’t favorites. In some cases, I’ve completely changed my mind.

At the time, Love Deluxe was such a drastic turn for Sade that I thought something went wrong. It would take another 18 years for Love Deluxe to reveal itself as the start of a new creative era, one marked by extreme pauses between albums. This early ’90s album shares more with its successors in 2000 and 2010 than it did with 1988’s Stronger than Pride.

I also got a chance to revisit Ingenue after the entry was written, and it’s place on the favorite list is well anchored.

Other albums would not have appeared on the list at the time it was written. Prince was unexplored territory for me in 2008, so I wouldn’t have even thought to include the Love Symbol album. En Vogue wouldn’t have gotten past my raging rock snobbery.

The rest of the albums on the list could have only been included after much research. Dirty makes a lot more sense if a Sonic Youth novice also considers Sister and EVOLAt the Ryman would not make sense to someone who’s only exposure to Emmylou Harris was Wrecking Ball.

I’ve even had a change of heart regarding Faith No More and R.E.M.

So it turns out 1992 wasn’t as bad as I remembered. It just took 25 years to reach that realization.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,