2017 marked the largest year-over-year increase in my CD collection, and the biggest recipient of that largesse is the Lifelong Thrift Shop.
I crunched the numbers, and the store provided 168 of the 458 items bought in 2017. At an average of $0.73 per CD and $1.46 per record, I contributed more than $130 to Lifelong coffers. I wouldn’t have made a charitable payroll deduction that large.
The Friends of the Seattle Public Library Book Sale is another source for discount music, and I parted with $75 of my cash to them.
Essentially, weekly visits to the thrift shop has crowded out my interest in new releases. That, and being old.
- Art of Noise, In Visible Silence: This album started my fascination with the Art of Noise and, more importantly, introduced me to the term musique concrète. It was the weirdest album I encountered in my tween years, and it primed me to discover Kronos Quartet.
- Wendy and Lisa, Eroica: A woefully underrated album.
- k.d. lang, Ingenue: The MTV Unplugged bonus material didn’t seem like much of an enhancement on paper till you actually listen to it
- The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead: The demos don’t stray too far from what eventually appeared on record, but it’s nice to hear how these tracks evolved.
- Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain: I have to admit I was more enamored of the Eroica reissue, despite the bonus material in this special edition.
- Deee-Lite, World Clique: I’m usually not a fan of remixes, but the bonus disc on this special edition actually worked.
- Moondog, Moondog: I had been curious about Moondog for a long time, and the Record Store Day reissue of his self-titled Columbia debut was a good excuse to fill in a gap finally.
- Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs: Yes, you can find this album at Lifelong for $1, but I still like it. And it’s on vinyl to boot!
- Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman: OK, I ended up with two copies of this album on vinyl because I hadn’t anticipated I could get the Ryman special edition when I visited Nashville in August 2017.
- Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Symphonic Suite AKIRA: The sequencing of the album had to change to accommodate the limitation of vinyl, but that doesn’t work against it.
- Nakamori Akina, Fushigi: I have a number of middling Nakamori Akina albums,
so out of curiosity, I did a search for what’s considered her best work. I wasn’t expecting an album that actually gets nods by the American indie music press. It puts to rest who I like better in the Akina vs. Seiko debate.
- The Streets, Original Pirate Material: I so dug “Geezers Need Excitement”, I used it as part of an assignment for an ear training/sight singing class I’m taking.
- New York Dolls, New York Dolls: I picked this album up from Lifelong Thrift Shop purely on reputation, and I didn’t expect how prescient it was.
- Loretta Lynn, Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind): Don’t let the country weepies fool you — this album is all about how women have to be strong because men are just no good.
- Perfume, GAME: It took nearly a decade for me to discover the sublimity of “Polyrhythm.”
- The Roots, Game Theory: I want to call this album punk AF.
- Low, Things We Lost in the Fire: I’m not sure how much further I want to explore the Low catalog.
- Midnight Oil, Head Injuries: For the American Midnight Oil fan who wants to reach back into the Australian catalog, this album is where to start.
- Charles Mingus, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady: Similarly, I’m not sure how much further I want to explore Mingus after hearing this work. I feel everything else would pale by comparison.
- Weezer, Pinkerton: This album is the one to own if you can’t stand Weezer fans.
I don’t think I’d mind Weezer if it weren’t for the fans.
Tags: charles mingus, deee-lite, emmylou harris, favorite edition, geinoh yamashirogumi, kd lang, loretta lynn, low, midnight oil, moondog, nakamori akina, new york dolls, perfume, prince, shawn colvin, the art of noise, the revolution, the roots, the smiths, the streets, weezer, wendy and lisa
Is there even anything left after June and July sucked all the air out of the release schedule?
Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman, Aug. 4
Nonesuch reissued this live album on vinyl in May, and now this remastered pressing arrives on CD.
Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins, Aug. 18
I have an ambivalent relationship with Grizzly Bear. Veckatimest was overrated, but I love Horn of Plenty. Everyone seems to like Yellow House, but I prefer Shields. I also think Department of Eagles does a better job at being Grizzly Bear than Grizzly Bear.
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains, Aug. 25
Not that I particularly liked Nick Oliveri, but I haven’t paid much attention to Queens of the Stone Age since his departure. And yet, I still have a crush on Josh Homme.
Living Colour, Shade, Sept. 8
Nobody noticed, but Living Colour’s 2009 album Chair in the Doorway was a return to form. It seems Living Colour runs on a six- to eight-year release cycle now.
Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs (20th Anniversary Edition), Sept. 15
I wondered why this album hadn’t yet received a vinyl reissue. Do you think maybe the labels would do the same for Fastball’s All the Pain Money Can Buy?
Prophets of Rage, Prophets of Rage, Sept. 15
(Rage Against the Machine – Zach de la Rocha) + People who are not Zach de la Rocha. Yes, yes, I know Chuck D is one of those people who is not Zach de la Rocha.
Trio de Kali and Kronos Quartet, Ladilikan, Sept. 15
Kronos sure has been flooding the store shelves with new recordings. I haven’t gotten around to the albums they released in 2016.
Behind the Shadow Drops, Harmonic, Sept. 22
Another solo project from MONO’s Takaakira Goto. Hey, Temporary Residence, how about a US release for Taka’s solo album Classical Punk & Echoes Under The Beauty while you’re at it?
… And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Source Tags and Code, Aug. 11
Conundrum: I found a used copy months ago, but … bonus tracks, etched side.
Midnight Oil, Bird Noises, Aug. 11
Midnight Oil, Species Deceases, Aug. 11
It looks like The Complete Vinyl Box Set is getting split up. I’m keeping my eye out for Redneck Wonderland and Breathe.
Craig Armstrong, The Space Between Us, Aug. 25
A Massive Attack track here, a film score excerpt there, and, oh, Elisabeth Fraser.
Enya, The Very Best of Enya, Aug. 25
I don’t need this compilation on vinyl. I want this compilation on vinyl.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi, AKIRA Original Soundtrack, Sept. 15
Previous vinyl reissues of this soundtrack were bootlegs, so it’s nice to see Milan Records give it an official release. Also available on CD.
Tags: grizzly bear, living colour, looking ahead, shawn colvin
The success of Shawn Colvin’s A Few Small Repairs was a huge deal in Austin.
Despite its billing as “The Live Music Capital of the World”, the Austin music scene didn’t have much of a national profile beyond music industry insiders. Seattle had its moment with grunge, and Prince was synonymous with Minneapolis.
Austin had a statue to Stevie Ray Vaughan.
I had heard about Shawn Colvin before I moved to Austin in May 1997 — 20 years ago this month! — but I hadn’t heard any of her music. My parents still didn’t have cable television when I moved away, so tuning into MTV in the St. Edwards University apartments where the Austin American-Statesman housed its interns was pretty novel.
That’s where I encountered the video for “Sunny Came Home.” The chorus of the song grabbed me, and of course, it was all over local radio. Before there was Kanye vs. Taylor Swift, P. Diddy infamously grabbed the mic from Colvin as she was accepting her Grammy award.
The late ’90s were kind to the Austin music scene. Flush from the dot-com boom, transplants such as myself were eager to spend our cash, and the entertainment districts in Austin gladly took it. Beside the usual country acts, Austin supported singer-songwriters and indie rock bands. Colvin was the first to emerge nationally, followed a year later by Fastball.
I hadn’t been to many concerts before moving to Austin, and it was the live music experience that made me realize gay bars weren’t really that much fun.
A Few Small Repairs and my first summer in Austin are pretty much entwined.
Then the economy tanked four years later, and A Few Small Repairs got traded for cash. My motivation for selling the album was based on the reason I bought it: peer pressure.
I really hadn’t chosen to live in Austin — it was just the place that allowed me to leave Honolulu. By embracing the local music scene, I could embrace the city that was to become my home.
The dot-com bust landed me a job at Waterloo Records, where I was subjected to music I just didn’t like. Up until then, I tried to be a cheerleader for everything new I encountered, but that experience made me realize I didn’t have to like everything.
As money got tight, I couldn’t justify devoting shelf space to an album if I liked only one song on it, so A Few Small Repairs got purged.
I was wrong, of course. A Few Small Repairs had more than one great song on it, as evidenced by “Get Out of This House”, the track following “Sunny Came Home”. “Wichita Skyline” and “Nothin’ On Me” provide further evidence.
I did have the presence of mind to rip the album before I sold it, suspecting I was making a foolish decision, which I confirmed years later when I found that rip and listened to it.
I wouldn’t welcome the album back into my collection till I found it at a book sale for the Friends of the Seattle Public Library.
Tags: shawn colvin, the ones that nearly got away
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.
- 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.
- Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4: Insistent.
- 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.
- Solange, A Seat at the Table: Solange not only out-Lemonaded Beyoncé, she also out-Blonded Frank Ocean.
- Shaprece, COALS: Björk, if she were black.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Utada Hikaru, Fantôme: I’m beginning to realize Utada Hikaru was PBR&B before Solange started hanging out with Dirty Projectors.
- 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
Tags: cocco, drive-by truckers, favorite edition, henryk gorecki, mono, shaprece, shawn colvin, solange, steve earle, sturgill simpson, ty herndon, utada hikaru
It’s half way through the year, and I’ve listed all but three of the new releases I own this year.
That’s 13 albums from 2016.
So while I can technically create a favorite 10 albums of the year so far, that doesn’t actually mean I feel very strongly about most of this list.
- Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth: Simpson aimed to make this album his What’s Goin’ On, and he pretty much hits it.
- Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4: Don’t expect a sequel to Górecki’s chart-topping Symphony No. 3. This work goes back to the modernist style he forged on his second symphony.
- Colvin & Earle, Colvin & Earle This pairing is counterintuitive but kind of inevitable, and it works.
- ANOHNI, HOPELESSNESS: ANOHNI trades in the chamber pop of Antony and the Johnsons for an aggressive electronic sound, something she’s already done before with Björk.
- Santigold, 99 Cents: Santigold goes for a sunnier sound on this album, and while it may not be as fascinating as her previous albums, they’re tuneful as hell nonetheless.
- Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness: After the predictability of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, The Wilderness is a definite zag to its predecessor’s zig. It’s probably the most adventurous Explosions album to date.
- Ben Watt, Fever Dream: Watt builds upon the post-Everything but the Girl vibe of Hendra with a stronger set of songs.
- Colin Stetson, Sorrow: A Reimagining of Górecki’s 3rd Symphony: I should hate the idea of a post-rock interpretation of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, but I don’t. I like what Stetson does here.
- UA, JaPo: Nope, UA hasn’t returned to her pop roots, but she does provide enough hooks to temper her more avant-garde tendencies.
- Prince, HITnRUN Phase Two: Recommended if you like classic Prince.
Tags: anohni, ben watt, colin stetson, explosions in the sky, favorite edition, henryk gorecki, prince, santigold, shawn colvin, steve earle, sturgill simpson, ua