The release calendar is thinning out for me, which isn’t to say it’s not picking up.
Do As Infinity, ALIVE, Feb. 28
It’s been so long since I’ve paid attention to Do As Infinity that I almost didn’t recognize Owatari Ryo without the spiky blonde highlights. I still have a soft spot for this band. I don’t know why.
Tracey Thorn, Record, March 2
We’ve had two Ben Watt albums, so it’s high time for Tracey Thorn to offer a third post-EBTG disc. Also, is she a fan of the Art of Noise? Because that cover looks familiar.
ART-SCHOOL, In Colors, March 7
I fell off the ART-SCHOOL bandwagon when it became apparent the years have eroded Kinoshita Riki’s voice.
THE BACK HORN, Joukei Dorobou, March 7
I shouldn’t be surprised THE BACK HORN has been around 20 years when Cocco celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut. Utada Hikaru and Shiina Ringo are only a year away from theirs.
Perfume, “Mugen Mirai”, March 14
The last two singles weren’t terribly impressive. Have we reached peak Perfume? I’m probably one of the few people who liked COSMIC EXPLORER.
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG 2, March 28
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG Official Bootleg “HONE”, March 28
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG Official Bootleg “IMO”, March 28
This second volume of greatest hits from ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION covers the albums from Landmark to Sol-Fa 2016. The official bootlegs bring together tracks compiled by Goto Masafumi on playlists published on the AKG blog. I think I’m covered.
Kylie Minogue, Golden, April 6
What little press I’ve encountered about this album made a big deal of the fact it was recorded in Nashville. I can’t say Nashville strikes me as diverse a music scene as Austin or Seattle, but the city has a music infrastructure that can absolutely accommodate Kylie.
Royal Wood, Ever After Farewell, April 6 (Canada)
Royal Wood also recorded his new album in Nashville, but his style of music is a natural fit for the city. I’m just hoping I don’t have to wait another year for an international release.
Annie Lennox, Diva, March 2
I’m ambivalent about this album, and yet I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick it up on release day. That is the draw of Annie Lennox’s voice.
Art of Noise, In Visible Silence (Deluxe Edition), March 2
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
Nakamori Akina, NEW AKINA Etrangér, May 2
Nakamori Akina, Fushigi, July 4
Nakamori Akina, CRUISE, July 4
Nakamori Akina, Cross My Palm, July 4
These vinyl reissues were announced last year, then summarily canceled. I’m most interested in Fushigi and CRUISE, but I get the impression I could save cash seeking out second-hand copies. I did find NEW AKINA Etrangér at Everyday Music, though.
Eurythmics, Peace, Oct. 28
Eurythmics vinyl reissues are scheduled throughout the year, but I snatched up original pressings the first time around. Peace, however, is the 1999 reunion album that has never been issued on vinyl.
Tags: annie lennox, art-school, do as infinity, eurythmics, kylie minogue, nakamori akina, perfume, royal wood, the art of noise, tracey thorn
It was bound to happen — an influx of Christmas gift money allows me to explore more albums after the year-end post goes online. None of these albums would knock off anything in the final list, but they’re definitely worthy of some belated consideration.
Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise
Anne Dudley, Gary Langan and J.J. Jeczalik rebooted the post-Trevor Horn version of the Art of Noise to reissue In Visible Silence. In the midst of it, Dudley released her own interpretations of Art of Noise tracks using mostly piano and percussion with some clever arrangements. The album was released in Japan, and the band hinted it would eventually see a US/UK release. I was not patient, and I think Art of Noise fans are missing out.
Dudley strips away the obfuscating aspects of the original Art of Noise tracks to bring out their musicality. On “Legs”, the croaking bass line turns into clusters that lose none of the original’s percussiveness. Added bonus: she covers the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Onitsuka Chihiro, Tiny Screams
I actually listened to Tiny Screams when it came out (via the Evil Sharing Networks) and vowed to get my own copy when the Christmas money came. The more I listened to it, the more I favored it over Cocco’s four-disc live extravaganza. The barebones arrangements of the original recordings somehow get stripped even further and become more intense (“BORDERLINE”).
R.E.M., Automatic for the People (Deluxe Edition)
I’ve already gone on record about my ambivalence toward Automatic for the People. I wasn’t inclined to get the deluxe edition of the album till I heard its companion live disc playing in-store at Easy Street Music. The playlist mixes just the correct amount of new material with familiar, throwing in a surprise on occasion. If anything, I’ve played the live disc — R.E.M.’s only concert in 1992 to promote the album — more times than I have the remastered album.
Leo Imai, Film Music EP
OK, I need to follow Leo Imai on some sort of social media site. Last I paid attention, Imai released his third solo album, Made from Nothing, in 2013. Since then, he formed another group, Metafive, and now he’s released an album of film music. The Film Music EP is available in the US through online services, but the full Film Music album is available only at live shows.
Imai has grown bolder as a writer. The four instrumentals on Film Music EP refract the influence of his KIMONOS bandmate Mukai Shuutoku, but “Videotape” shows Imai can be catchy when he wants to be.
Tags: anne dudley, favorite edition, leo imai, onitsuka chihiro, r.e.m., the art of noise
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
It seems all the bands in which I’m interested all decided to release their albums in May and June. To date, I have a total of four 2017 releases since the start of the year. Putting together the Favorite Edition Half Year is going to be tricky.
At the Drive-In, in*ter al*li*a, May 5
I can’t figure out why I’m looking forward this late-coming follow-up to Relationship of Command, an album I like but can’t listen to very often. And I wasn’t enough of a fan to follow either Mars Volta or Sparta.
Café Tacvba, Jei Beibi, May 5
I find it interesting that Café Tacvba is releasing this album through CD Baby. That means they’ve gone completely independent.
Midnight Oil, Full Tank, May 7
Midnight Oil, Overflow Tank, May 7
Tempting as these complete boxed sets may be, my current Midnight Oil collection occupies quite a bit of shelf space. Also, the import markup makes these sets fiscally untenable. Hey Sony, fans outside of Australia might be interested in some of these releases.
Juanes, Mis Planes Son Amarte, May 12
It’s a visual album about a man going into outer space to find the woman of his dreams. I would be interested to see how Café Tacvba would tackle the same plot.
PWR BTTM, Pageant, May 12
Anyone who has Grindr or Scruff installed on his phone would probably check out a band called PWR BTTM.
Art of Noise, In Visible Silence (Deluxe Edition), May 19
The weirdest album I acquired in 1986. The b-sides are terrific.
Kishida Shigeru, Symphony No. 1, May 24
If the orchestral work Kishida released last year as a digital single is any indication, don’t expect a musical metamorphosis on the level of C. Kip Winger.
Sam Amidon, The Following Mountain, May 26
His first album of original music.
Cody Chesnutt, My Love Divine Degree, June 2
It’s been a while. I had wondered if another 10 years would pass before another Cody Chesnutt album would arrive.
U2, The Joshua Tree (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition), June 2
I already have the 20th Anniversary edition, so really, I just want the white cover with the color photo.
Kronos Quartet, Folk Songs, June 9
For a while there, I thought Kronos had moved on from Nonesuch, given the number of albums the ensemble has released on other labels. This collaborative album with Sam Amidon, Natalie Merchant, Rhiannon Giddens and Olivia Chaney is the first Kronos has released on Nonesuch since 2012, not counting various anthologies.
Dan Messe, Amelie: A New Musical, June 9
I’m not sure what draws me to this cast recording — the fact it’s based on Amelie or the fact it was written by a member of Hem.
Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister, Planetarium, June 9
Well, somebody had to update Gustav Mahler’s The Planets …
The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts, June 16
Jonny Pierce goes full Roland Orzabal ca. 1993, becoming the sole member of his band The Drums.
Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound, June 16
I would be OK with Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson releasing albums on alternating years.
Midnight Oil, The Vinyl Collection, May 7
I would like to get Redneck Wonderland, Breathe and Head Injuries on vinyl. I could do without Capricornia, Earth and Sun and Moon and Place Without a Postcard. Maybe separate releases down the line? Outside Australia, even??
Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman, May 12
Harris’ shows at the Ryman gave the venue new life, and she returns for the venue’s 125th anniversary. So of course a reissue (on vinyl!) is in order.
En Vogue, Funky Divas, June 9
I’m disappointed rock bands haven’t turned “Free Your Mind” into a crossover classic.
Enya, A Day Without Rain, June 16
Enya, Amaratine, July 14
A Day Without Rain is Enya’s weakest album, and Amaratine went a long way to rectify it. That won’t stop me from getting both of them.
Tags: at the drive-in, bryce dessner, cafe tacuba, cody chesnutt, emmylou harris, en vogue, enya, hem, james mcalister, jason isbell, juanes, kronos quartet, looking ahead, midnight oil, nico muhly, pwr bttm, quruli, sam amidon, sufjan stevens, the art of noise, the drums, u2
In 1987, I turned 15 years old, an age when music discovery exerted its strongest pull. The same Spotify analysis that charted music tastes over time claims most teen-agers highly identify with popular titles. Had the same study been done when I was a teen, I probably would have been an outlier point.
Kronos Quartet, Black Angels
The first Kronos Quartet album I purchased was Winter Was Hard, and it was something of a Reader’s Digest for modern classical music. Then Black Angels followed, and it exploded my perception of what music could be.
John Zorn, Naked City
I was a pissed-off teen for a lot of reasons, most of them mundane. But it gave me drive to find music that would alienate everyone around me, and the howls of Yamantaka Eye and John Zorn fit the bill nicely.
In Tua Nua, The Long Acre
This album introduced me to the idea that popularity is not the same thing as merit. I couldn’t find a filler track anywhere on this album, and the confrontational “The Innocent and the Honest Ones” mirrored my own dissatisfaction with being raised in a monotheistic culture. It should have been a hit, but mostly, you’ll find it in the 99 cent bins.
U2, The Joshua Tree
U2 had to score a number one album in order for radio stations in Hawaii to pay attention. I knew about the band beforehand but hadn’t taken the plunge till I saw the video for “With or Without You.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber gets a lot of flack for his signature hit tunes, but for a young burgeoning composer, his scores are incredibly instructional. I’ve yet to encounter another pop writer who can make a hook out of an atonal melody.
The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence
Before I learned about Kronos Quartet, John Zorn or Andrew Lloyd Webber, I encountered the Art of Noise. I would later learn (Who’s Afraid Of …?) The Art of Noise! had some bonafide songcraft, but its follow-up, In Visible Silence, essentially jettisoned all that.
Arcadia, So Red the Rose
Of the two Duran Duran splinter projects from 1985, Arcadia hews closest to the parent band and engenders the most sentiment from long-time fans.
Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
Sunday in the Park with George arrived at time in my life when I was just starting to learn about modern classical music. I looked to Lloyd Webber to bridge my interests in classical and pop musics, and I turned to Sondheim to go further into modernism.
Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
I loved Eurythmics singles, but their albums tended to have quite a bit of filler. Sweet Dreams is the deserved obvious choice, but Savage and In the Garden deserve some props.
Duran Duran, Rio
This tops my Desert Island Disc list, so of course, it’s going to be here.
Wendy Carlos, TRON Original Soundtrack
I listened to this soundtrack to death because I loved the computer graphics of the movie. It wasn’t till much later that I discovered how rich Carlos’ harmonic language was. This soundtrack pretty much planted the seed that would be nourished by the Art of Nosie, Kronos Quartet, John Zorn and classical music after 1900.
Tags: andrew lloyd webber, arcadia, duran duran, eurythmics, in tua nua, john zorn, kronos quartet, music discovery, stephen sondheim, the art of noise, u2, wendy carlos