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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: 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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Purchase log, 2018-06-05

[Emmylou Harris - The Ballad of Sally Rose]

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
  • Adele, 19
  • Anonymous 4, An English Ladymass
  • Beastie Boys, Ill Communication
  • Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments
  • Jan Garbarek and Hilliard Ensemble, Officium
  • Miles Davis, Milestones
  • Miles Davis, Nefertiti
  • Miles Davis, Porgy and Bess
  • Samuel Barber / Erich Korngold: Violin Concertos (Gil Shaham; London Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn)
  • The Beatles, Revolver
Vinyl
  • Everlast, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues
  • Keith Jarrett, Solo-Concerts: Bremen Lausanne
Blu Ray
  • Shiina Ringo, Hatsuiku Status: Gokiritsu Japon

Reissues

CD
  • Emmylou Harris, The Ballad of Sally Rose (Deluxe Edition)

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Purchase log, 2018-05-29

[Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly - Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music]

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.

New Releases

CD
  • Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly, Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music
  • Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo (Shiina Ringo tribute album)

Catalog

CD
  • Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
Vinyl
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars Cadillacs Etc. Etc.
Blu Ray
  • Stephen Sondheim, Company (2006 Production)

 

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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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Looking Ahead: April-May 2018

[Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer]

I like April Fools Day and Halloween, but I’m never ambitious enough to pull of a prank or a costume.

SUPERCAR, PERMAFROST, April 25

I think I’m covered in terms SUPERCAR best albums, but the special edition of this compilation comes with a Blu Ray edition of the video collection P.V.D. COMPLETE 10th Anniversary Edition. I would have gotten that Blu Ray without the CD.

Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer, April 27

I have to admit I would rather much see Janelle Monáe on screen than in sound. She was terrific in both Hidden Figures and Moonlight, and I would watch the hell out of a Cindy Mayweather movie. But the only album of hers I remotely like is the Metropolis EP.

Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel, May 18

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit was one of many great albums to emerge in 2015, but I’ve not yet cottoned to anything else.

Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo (Shiina Ringo Tribute), May 23

The artists contributing to this Shiina Ringo tribute album don’t seem to be very adventurous. Given the two volumes of Reimport albums, I would have thought Tomosaka Rie or Kuriyama Chiaki would have participated. And did anyone ask Mukai Shuutoku?

Vinyl

U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, April 13

All That You Can’t Leave Behind was the mea culpa album for Pop, which is also being reissued on vinyl at the same time.

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Purchase log, 2018-03-06

[My Bloody Valentine - Loveless]

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.

New Releases

Vinyl
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Koukuukyoku~

Catalog

CDs
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, Song and Dance (Original Cast Live)
  • Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue
  • Jeff Buckley, Grace
  • Freedy Johnston, Right Between the Promises
  • Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon
  • My Bloody Valentine, m b v
  • Robert Palmer, Addictions, Vol. 1
  • Ride, Nowhere
  • R.E.M., And I Feel Fine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years (Deluxe Edition)
  • Roxy Music, Roxy Music
  • Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger
  • Texas, Mother’s Heaven
  • Texas, Southside

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Annie Lennox, Diva
  • My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (2018 Remaster)

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Purchase log: 2018-01-30

[Patti Smith - Horses]

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

CDs
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love
  • Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
  • Information Society, Hack
  • Joy Division, Substance
  • Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile
  • Patti Smith, Horses
  • Tool, Lateralus
  • Throwing Muses, House Tornado / The Fat Skier
  • Throwing Muses, In a Doghouse
  • Wilco, Being There
Vinyl
  • Ambitious Lovers, Envy
Blu Ray
  • Shiina Ringo, Baisho Ecstacy

 

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Looking ahead: January-February 2018

[Steve Reich - Pulse / Quartet]

The fact I can actually post a preview entry this early in the year makes me hopeful we won’t see a repeat of last year’s lopsided schedule.

Igor Stravinsky, Chant Funébre / Le Sacre du Printemps, Jan. 12

This album featuring a newly discovered work by Igor Stravinsky comes out a week after I’ll have heard the Seattle Symphony perform it. I’ll own yet another version of The Rite of Spring, though.

Sasagawa Miwa, Atarashii Sekai, Jan. 31

Last time I checked in with Sasagawa Miwa, she was moving in a jazz direction.

Rhye, Blood, Feb. 2

The singles preceding this album release make me think I ought to place a pre-order.

Steve Reich, Pulse / Quartet, Feb. 2 (vinyl on March 30)

The cover of this album almost fooled me into thinking Reich had gone back to ECM. For proof, compare the Reich cover with John Surman’s forthcoming album Invisible Threads on ECM:

[John Surman - Invisible Threads]
[Steve Reich - Pulse / Quartet]

 

Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson, Landfall, Feb. 16

Anderson contributed to Kronos’ Fifty for the Future initiative, and they’ve included the piece in recent concerts. I’m curious to hear more of this collaboration.

Vinyl

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless, Jan. 18 (UK)

Kevin Shields sure went to a lot of trouble remastering this album for vinyl, when it wasn’t really recorded for analog in the first place.

SUPERCAR, HIGHVISION, March 30
SUPERCAR, ANSWER, March 30

I became a SUPERCAR fan just as the band changed its sound, so the recent vinyl reissues of Three Out Change!! and JUMP UP allowed me to discover its early work. I’m coming around to the idea that maybe that first era was better than what followed.

Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kuukoukyoku~, March 30

Have you seen how much the Shiina Ringo vinyl reissues from 2009 are going for on the secondhand market? I’ve got mine pre-ordered.

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Favorite Edition 2017 Year Final

[Living Colour - Shade]

2017 was a rather active year in music, but when it came to new releases, I opted to leave a lot of stuff on the shelf. A decade ago, new albums by Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear would have been breathlessly awaited. I don’t get the sense either had much staying power beyond their release dates.

As a result, I ended up purchasing a total of 34 new titles, approximately 7 percent of my total buying activity. The remaining purchases? Catalog and reissues. This list, in other words, comes from a small pool of albums.

  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. Living Colour, Shade
  9. Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
  10. Renée Fleming, Distant Light

Sam Smith and Living Colour are the big changes from the mid-year listThe Thrill of It All isn’t as weird as I hoped it could be, but it’s a more appealing album than Smith’s debut.

Shade is the perfect soundtrack for the frustration of living under the current administration. Pre-release press mention the blues as a springboard for the album, but really, Living Colour transform the blues in ways that are nigh unrecognizable.

Other favorites from the year:

  • Eluvium, Shuffle Drone: I hate both the repeat and shuffle buttons on my playback mechanisms. That said, Matthew Cooper deserves mad props for creating an album that puts both buttons to excellent use.
  • Sampha, Process: I admit I didn’t listen to this album till a few weeks ago, once it started showing up on year-end favorite lists.
  • David Rawlings, Poor David’s Almanack: My long-simmering discovery of Gillian Welch will have to wait for another entry, but it’s the reason David Rawlings shows up here.
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kuukoukyoku~: Part of me misses the rocking Ringo-chan of the early 2000s, but then hearing these songs side-by-side with the artists who recorded them first deepens my appreciation for her.
  • Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister, Planetarium: It helps to have heard this album with a laser light show.
  • The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts: Jonny Pierce takes over the show.
  • Cocco, Cocco 20 Shuunen Kinen Special Live at Nippon Budokan ~Ichi no Kan x Ni no Kan~: The live performances don’t stray too far from what’s heard in the studio, but Cocco’s voice doesn’t seem to have aged a bit.
  • Duran Duran, Thanksgiving Live at Pleasure Island: If you’re a fan of the seriously-underrated Medazzaland, this live album is a must-have.

 

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