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.
1996 was my final year in college, a year before I would earn the kind of disposable income that would go into building a music collection. While the Favorite 10 of 1996 remains mostly unchanged, the extended list includes many more discoveries I couldn’t afford to hear at the time.
- Soundtrack, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
- Värttinä, Kokko
- Soundtrack, Robotech Perfect Collection
- Asylum Street Spankers, Spanks for the Memories
- Various Composers, Gay American Composers
- Original Cast Recording, Rent
- Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar
- Everything But the Girl, Walking Wounded
- Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs
- Robin Holcomb, Little Three
Other favorites from the year:
- Midnight Oil, Breathe
- Dead Can Dance, Spiritchaser
- Emmylou Harris, Portraits
- Kronos Quartet, Howl USA
- UA, 11
- Yen Town Band, Montage
- Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
- Aphex Twin, Richard D. James Album
- Weezer, Pinkerton
- Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor
- Clannad, Lore
- Café Tacuba, Avalancha de Exitos
I could actually add more titles from Wilco, Helmet, Gillian Welch, DJ Shadow and Amuro Namie to the extended list, but I haven’t lived with them as long as the ones I’ve already added.
I owned the Richard D. James album at one point. It was a promo from the student newspaper, but I was such a neophyte with EDM that I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. As it turns out nobody could really make heads or tails of it.
The original extended list didn’t include Lore because it had already fallen victim to a collection purge. I rediscovered the album after the death of Padraig Duggan.
Avalancha de Exitos was the first album by Café Tacuba I would encounter, but I wouldn’t purchase it till many years later. I borrowed it from a friend and liked it. But I stayed away from it because it’s a cover album of music of which I had no reference.
Tags: aphex twin, asylum street spankers, cafe tacuba, clannad, dead can dance, emmylou harris, everything but the girl, favorite edition, kronos quartet, marilyn manson, midnight oil, neutral milk hotel, rewind, robin holcomb, shawn colvin, sleater-kinney, soundtrack, ua, various composers, varttina, weezer, yen town band
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.
- Christine and the Queens, Chris
- Sasagawa Miwa, Houjou -BEST ’03~’18-
- Wayne Horvitz, Those Who Remain
- Alice in Chains, Dirt
- Chris Isaak, San Francisco Days
- David+David, Boomtown
- Dwight Yoakam, This Time
- Lizz Wright, Dreaming Wide Awake
- Lyle Lovett, The Road to Ensenada
- Thomas Dolby, The Golden Age of Wireless
- Adele, 21
- Alban Berg, Wozzeck (Pierre Boulez, Paris National Opera)
- Everything But the Girl, Eden
- Iron and Wine, The Creek Drank the Cradle
- Weezer, Pinkerton
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Great String Quartets (Amadeus Quartet)
- Soundtrack, Agnes of God
Tags: adele, alban berg, alice in chains, chris isaak, christine and the queens, david+david, dwight yoakam, everything but the girl, iron and wine, lizz wright, lyle lovett, purchase log, sasagawa miwa, thomas dolby, wayne horvitz, weezer
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
My first encounter with Weezer was at a concert. A friend of mine had an extra ticket, and I was curious about the band, having heard about them for years.
It was not a pleasant introduction.
First, I had a beer in my hand and was about to take a sip when a frat boy bumped into me, spilling my drink. The motherfucker turned to me and said, “Watch where you’re going.” That did not put me in a receptive mood.
Weezer got on stage, and the only thing I heard was a bunch of songs ripping off the Pixies.
I said as much to my friend who asked me what I thought. He hadn’t yet discovered the Pixies.
I wrote off Weezer from that moment on.
There was just one problem. Rivers Cuomo is so totally my type.
Whenever I flipped through rock magazines, I would do a double-take whenever I spotted Cuomo, then feel let down when I discovered the cute guy in the pic was in that band I totally hated.
By 2002, I surrendered to my hormones and gave Weezer a chance. So I picked up Maladroit. I still wasn’t impressed, mostly because I was deep into Japanese indie rock. Among my friends who were Weezer fans, the post-Pinkerton albums were varying degrees of disappointment.
So Rivers Cuomo joined that cadre of musicians who I found attractive but could not support. I was not the target market.
I do make one exception: Pinkerton.
I found a copy of the album at the Lifelong Thrift Store and bought it on reputation alone. Whatever traces of the Pixies at which I scoffed in the concert aren’t found here. I might buy another Weezer album if it sounded like Pinkerton.
Similar to Billy Joel’s Storm Front, Pinkerton is the album to own if you don’t really like Weezer all that much.
Tags: music discovery, weezer