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Favorite Edition Decade 2010-2019

[Tokyo Jihen - Sports]

The new decade doesn’t start till the end of of 2020, if you use the modified Julian calendar upon which scientists and the Naval Observatory rely. Pop culture writers are not scientists. Would you consider U2’s debut album a product of the ‘70s? Boy was released in 1980, and it would seem odd to lump it in the decade that gave us disco.

So even though science tells us the albums of 2020 should be counted in this review of the decade, we’ll save them for next decade. Besides, we didn’t give 2010 that accommodation last decade.

  1. Tokyo Jihen, Sports: This album was a true band effort with songwriting duties spread among members rather than falling entirely on Shiina Ringo’s shoulders. But you couldn’t tell. Tokyo Jihen finally felt like an independent unit here and not just a backing band.
  2. Jason Isbell, Southeastern: The stark cover with Isbell gazing directly at the camera only hints at the vulnerability contained within the album’s 12 tracks.
  3. Jarell Perry, Simple Things: I knew about neo-soul, but until I ran across Solange, Frank Ocean and Jarell Perry, I didn’t know the genre had formed its own underground. Sometimes, Perry is a beat or two away from falling into the orbit of Björk. Oddly enough, he reminds me a lot of Utada Hikaru.
  4. Sturgill Simpson, Sound and Fury: Simpson owned this decade. He started out sounding like a traditionalist, but by decade’s end, he created a body of work incomparable even to itself. All of his albums should be on this list, but I’m choosing his most confounding.
  5. Solange, A Seat at the Table: You may have Beyoncé.
  6. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!: I wish I could sing along with this album, but these lyrics … hot damn!
  7. John Luther Adams, Become Ocean (Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot): When your award-winning commission inspires Taylor Swift to donate to your organization …
  8. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly: The Pulitzer Prize should have gone to this album.
  9. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: The Phantom of the Opera was the last time I was riveted to a cast recording.
  10. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: I’ve always felt Monáe had a Muzai Moratorium or Shouso Strip inside her. This album comes closest.
  11. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love: It’s like the decade preceding this album’s release had melted away.
  12. Eponymous 4, Travis: Yeah, I’m putting my own damn album on this list. I can listen to it without cringing or second guessing it. It almost feels like someone better than myself had made it.
  13. Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All: Similar to Monáe, I feel Sam Smith has an I Am a Bird Now or a Homogenic in them, waiting to bust out. This album is a step in that direction.
  14. D’angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah: I got pregnant listening to this album, and I’m not even a woman.
  15. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE: Become Ocean.

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Favorite Edition 2019 Year Final

[Sturgill Simpson - Sound and Fury]

I’m old enough now that I can no longer be mistaken for someone remotely connected to the zeitgeist. A phrase I would often employ was, “I know of them, but I’ve not heard from them.” These days, the first part of that phrase is a stretch.

That said, I’m surprised by the number of R&B titles that have crept into my playlist rotation. I’m still a rockist at heart, but rock is loosening its grip on my attention.

  1. Sturgill Simpson, Sound & Fury: How was Sturgill Simpson ever going to top A Sailor’s Guide to Earth? He didn’t. He veered so drastically in a different direction that the albums can’t be compared. None of his albums can be compared to each other.
  2. Torche, Admission: Torche can be found under the metal section of most music stores, but when I play their albums, I hear post-rock.
  3. Weezer, Weezer (Teal Album): It’s a karaoke album, but a painstakingly created one.
  4. Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000: It’s a tall order to compile eight centuries of music into a single program.
  5. John Luther Adams, Become Desert: It was also stirring to hear this piece live.
  6. Cocco, Star Shank: We hear hints of clouds covering the sunniness of Cocco’s later work.
  7. BBMAK, Powerstation: I will not lie — I’ve anticipating this album for most of the year, and I do not care who knows.
  8. Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi: This album is a glorious mess.
  9. Solange, When I Get Home: Similar to Sound and Fury, this album is confounding and fascinating at the same time. There’s nothing on here that matches the tunefulness of A Seat at the Table, and it would be too disruptive to the album’s flow if there were.
  10. Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!: “Basquiat” was playing on the in-store system at Sonic Boom, and it pretty much clinched my decision to get this album.

Other favorites of the year:

  • Kim Gordon, No Home Record
  • Michael Kiwanuka, KIWANUKA
  • James Blake, Assume Form
  • Sassyblack, Ancient Mahogany Gold
  • Anderson .Paak, Ventura
  • NUMBER GIRL, Kaiden no Kioku
  • The Drums, Brutalism
  • Ty Herndon, Got It Covered

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Purchase log, 2019-08-13

[Solange - When I Get Home]

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
  • Solange, When I Get Home

Catalog

CD
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats (Original London Cast)
  • Band of Susans, Here Comes Success
  • Band of Susans, The Word and the Flesh
  • Band of Susans, Veil
  • Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy
  • RADWIMPS, RADWIMPS 4 ~Okazu no Gohan~
Vinyl
  • John Cage, Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (Maro Ajemian)
  • John Coltrane, My Favorite Things
  • The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Reissues

CD
  • Sigur Rós, Ágætis byrjun (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Looking ahead, June-July 2019

[John Luther Adams - Become Desert]

MONO, Hymn to the Immortal Wind (Anniversary Edition), June 14

I’m not usually a sucker for fancy packaging, but the limited edition vinyl reissue looks gorgeous. Also, this album really is MONO’s best.

John Luther Adams, Become Desert (Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot), June 14

I’m not sure a recording will capture the surprise when a men’s chorus emerges from the texture of the orchestra — behind you. Perhaps in surround sound?

Renée Fleming, Lieder, June 14

An album of Brahms, Schumann and Mahler. I’ll pass.

The B-52’s, Cosmic Thing (Expanded Edition), June 28

It took a while for me to warm up to the B-52’s rougher early work because my first exposure to the band was the slick and polished Cosmic Thing.

Torche, Admission, July 12

I have three of the band’s four albums, which gives me enough familiarity with their work to look forward this upcoming release.

The Flaming Lips, King’s Mouth, July 19

Oh, so this was an actual new album? When I spotted it on Record Store Day, I assumed it was another one of their oddball projects.

NUMBER GIRL, Kanden no Kioku, July 24

A new live album! Or rather, raiding the archive to capitalize on the reunion.

Vinyl

Midnight Oil, Armistice Day: Live at the Domain Sydney, June 14

Oh, man, was I ever glad to catch Midnight Oil live on The Great Circle tour.

Solange, When I Get Home, late June

Solage’s Blonde to the Endless that was A Seat at the Table. How’s that for a difficult analogy?

Everything But the Girl, Amplified Heart, July 5

I’m surprised this album hadn’t been reissued on vinyl before now. Could we get a repress of Walking Wounded too?

NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT, Aug. 7
NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI, Aug. 7
NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC, Aug. 7

The Jet Set Records vinyl reissues in 2015 were pretty much sold out before they hit the stores, so jump on these pre-orders if you want to hear NUMBER GIRL in glorious analog.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2012

[Cody ChesnuTT - Landing on a Hundred]

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.

What I find most remarkable about the 2012 list is the number of albums listed under honorable mentions. The revised list has culled a lot of those titles. I probably listed so many because I didn’t feel passionate enough about any of them.

  1. Solange, True
  2. Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
  3. Jeremy Denk, Ligeti/Beethoven
  4. … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Lost Songs
  5. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
  6. Cody Chesnutt, Landing on a Hundred
  7. ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Landmark
  8. ZAZEN BOYS, Stories
  9. Tokyo Jihen, Shinyawaku
  10. Duran Duran, A Diamond in the Mind

Other favorites from the year:

  • Scissor Sisters, Magic Hour
  • Roomful of Teeth, Roomful of Teeth
  • Gossip, A Joyful Noise
  • Tokyo Jihen, Tokyo Collection
  • TOUMING MAGAZINE, TOUMING MAGAZINE FOREVER
  • OBLIVION DUST, 9 Gates of Bipolar
  • Gaytheist, Stealth Beats

Cody ChesnuTT dislodges Scissor Sisters from the original list, and Frank Ocean jumps up a few spots. Otherwise, there are no remarkable changes.

If anything, 2012 has turned out to be something of a dud year. When I review my purchases in subsequent years, 2012 releases are scant, and most of the albums I bought that year only garner no more than a 3-star rating.

 

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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 2016: Year Final

[Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth]

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4: Insistent.
  3. 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.
  4. Solange, A Seat at the Table: Solange not only out-Lemonaded Beyoncé, she also out-Blonded Frank Ocean.
  5. Shaprece, COALS: Björk, if she were black.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Utada Hikaru, Fantôme: I’m beginning to realize Utada Hikaru was PBR&B before Solange started hanging out with Dirty Projectors.
  10. 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

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