I started a new job on May 21, and I’m still getting adjusted to a new routine. I’m not ready to say the hiatus has ended just yet, but I can say new entries should resume before the end of summer. Till then, here’s a preview of upcoming releases.
Emmylou Harris, Ballad of Sally Rose (Deluxe Edition), June 1
I have listened to a lot of Emmylou Harris, and I can say this album is my least favorite. But its underdog status makes me curious about what didn’t make the album. Also, the current CD pressings sound awful, and I hope the remastering rectifies that.
Clannad, Turas 1980, June 8
This live album contains songs never recorded in the studio by the band.
Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi, June 27
In retrospect, Fantôme was something of a downer. The singles preceding the release of Hatsukoi indicate a bouncier direction. Utada comes full circle title-wise — hatsukoi is the Japanese translation of “first love”.
Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (Deluxe Edition), June 29
This album hadn’t already received a deluxe edition treatment? I’m not shelling out for anything more than the 2-disc edition.
Leo IMAI, V L P, July 11
I really enjoyed Film Scum, and it’s too bad the full album was only available at his live shows. I look forward to this album nonetheless.
Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise, June 22
This album receives a physical release in the UK and a digital release in the US. I was impatient and got the Japanese release last year, and Dudley employs some real studio wizardry to interpret the Art of Noise acoustically.
Fishbone, The Reality of My Surroundings, July 13
Trips to Goodwill have allowed me to rediscover this band.
Tags: anne dudley, clannad, emmylou harris, fishbone, guns n' roses, leo imai, looking ahead, utada hikaru
I balked when Barsuk Records released a 10-year anniversary edition of Give Up by the Postal Service. Yes, add 10 to 2003 and you get 2013. But 2003 didn’t seem so distant from 2013, as 2003 did from 1993.
That’s the thing about getting older — there’s more past to remember. In 1987, I had barely any memory of 1977. In 1997, I had only 1987 as a clear reference. Only in 2007 did 1987 start to feel distant. And now I’m shocked to think 1997 — the year I moved away from home — is pretty far chronologically from where I am today.
So yeah, 2007 still feels like yesterday, although 2002 does feel more like history.
Tokyo Jihen, Sports
Shiina Ringo’s albums from earlier in the decade saw her batting a hundred, but with Tokyo Jihen, it took a few albums before the band came into its own.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Century of Self
Source Tags and Codes was the obvious choice to include on this list, but recent spins of the album revealed a number of dead spots. Lost Songs wouldn’t show up till the next decade, which leaves The Century of Self next in line on my list of favorite … Trail of Dead albums.
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, World World World
At first, I dismissed ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION as a watered-down version of Eastern Youth. Then World World World came out, and I became a convert.
Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
It took a while for me to warm up to The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, but All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone had a clarity that hooked me for good.
Utada Hikaru, ULTRA BLUE
Utada Hikaru’s US debut Exodus went too far to rub out the alt-rock influence in her music, so it was refreshing to hear it come roaring back on ULTRA BLUE.
Sigur Rós, Takk …
I was unfamiliar with Sigur Rós when this album was released, so I asked a friend of mine to describe their albums to me. He told me to imagine a cold, flat icy land, and that was Ágætis byrjun. Then he told me to picture 1,000 angels appearing in bursts of blinding light. That was Takk …
Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana
I’m convinced if this album had been released in the US, indie rock fans would have abandoned their Flaming Lips albums.
Molotov, Dance Dense and Denso
US promoters tried and failed to conflate Latin American rap-rock bands as epitomizing Latin alternative rock. Molotov stood head and shoulders above the rest, and they shared more with Café Tacvba and Aterciopelados than with Puya or Control Machete.
Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
The year I started working for Waterloo Records was the year Norah Jones made a splash with her debut album. I wasn’t convinced, mostly because I had spent weeks listening to Hatakeyama Miyuki instead.
UA and Asai Kenichi came together for only one album, but boy is it a keeper. UA had found success on the Oricon charts before this collaboration, but afterward, she embraced a more challenging sound.
fra-foa, Chuu no Fuchi
Every time I put this album on, I feel the need to fuck shit up. It’s that intense.
Tags: ajico, and you will know us by the trail of dead, asian kung-fu generation, explosions in the sky, fra-foa, hatakeyama miyuki, molotov, music discovery, shiina ringo, sigur ros, tokyo jihen, utada hikaru
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
UA released a new album earlier this year. Cocco will release her next album in a few weeks. Utada Hikaru is on the release schedule for September. Would it be too much to ask for Shiina Ringo to drop some news about new album as well?
The Bad Plus, It’s Hard, Aug. 26
Covers have always been a special treat from the Bad Plus, and this album marks the second time the trio dedicates an entire album to other people’s music. Or third if you consider The Rite of Spring a “cover”.
Jack Ingram, Midnight Hotel, Aug. 26
First, Jack Ingram was a part of a new generation of country rebels that included the brothers Charlie and Bruce Robison. Then at some point, he traded in the rebellion for a spot at the top of the country charts. Now he’s back to his indie roots.
Eluvium, False Readings On, Sept. 2
I’m still looking forward to a new album, despite not warming up to the last two albums.
Pansy Division, Quite Contrary, Sept. 9
Pansy Division isn’t the first punk band with gay members, but they managed to go further than most, opening for Green Day and Rancid during the ’90s. New albums from the band are few and far between these days.
Utada Hikaru, Fantôme, Sep. 28
When Utada Hikaru announced she was taking a break from pop music, I figured she was making good on her promise to retire early. So her return is a welcome surprise.
Pixies, Head Carrier, Sept. 30
Well, maybe they worked out the kinks since Indie Cindy …
Madonna, Bedtime Stories, Aug. 16
Madonna, Ray of Light, Sept. 13
A 2013 European reissue of Ray of Light might still be floating around online merchants for a not-so-exorbitant price, so the real treat is the reissue of Bedtime Stories.
Tags: eluvium, jack ingram, looking ahead, madonna, pansy division, pixies, the bad plus, utada hikaru