One of these years, I’m not going to have a big enough pool from which to draw a mid-year Favorite Edition list. This year got close.
- Weezer, Weezer (Teal Album): The big criticism of this cover album is the slavish reproduction of the originals, as if Weezer did nothing to inject its own personality in these songs. The studio geek in me, however, marvels at such a feat. It may be a karaoke exercise, but it’s a painstaking one, not unlike art students reproducing the masters.
- Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000: It’s a tricky proposition to distill seven centuries of music in a single program, but Denk takes an admirable stab at it. I have no objections to his choices.
- James Blake, Assume Form: Blake’s previous album was lengthy and not terribly engaging. He rights the ship on this one.
- John Luther Adams, Become Desert: Where Become Ocean explored the Seattle Symphony’s lower and middle registers, Become Desert hovers almost exclusively in the upper ends.
- Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi: Shiina’s first three albums looms large over the rest of her work, Tokyo Jihen included. Sandokushi is a fascinating mess — lots of seemingly disparate songs threaded together as a single program. It’s jarring but coherent, and probably the best summation of her style thus far.
- Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!: Like Parquet Courts’ Wide Awake, Legacy! Legacy! was playing on a record store sound system and made me stop to find out who is Jamila Woods.
- Solange, When I Get Home: There are no obvious singles on this album, which is fine because it’s not intended to be a singles album.
- Madonna, Madame X: A quotation of Tchaikovsky’s signature work could have backfired, but when the Nutcracker interrupts “Dark Ballet,” it doesn’t feel forced. The singles preceding the release of Madame X didn’t hint at this kind of creative stretch.
- The Drums, Brutalism: Jonny Pierce tones down the Joy Division influence and brings forth the beats.