Purchase log picks, fourth quarter 2023

[The American Analog Set - For Forever]

Matt Rogers, Have You Heard of Christmas?

I’m enough of a rockist snob to turn my nose up at Christmas music, so imagine my surprise at seeing a fucking Christmas album as a year-end pick. But Matt Rogers takes a piss out of the genre, offering a set of songs sung as earnestly as any pop star with Broadway pipes, but throwing equal measures of irreverence toward religion, gay culture and whatever else the zeitgeist deems important. But if these songs were just straight-up pop extracted from the seasonal theme? Fire. Absolute fire.

Right Said Fred, Up

Yes, Right Said Fred is a one-hit wonder, but this album is pretty solid. No, seriously.

The American Analog Set, For Forever

AmAnSet returns after 18 years with an album that doesn’t sound like the AmAnSet I remember from the 2000s. For Forever is uncharacteristically extroverted if your perception of the band is as frozen in time as mine.

Helmet, LEFT

I read a number of reviews that pointed out the last track on the album was jazzy without mentioning it was a cover of John Coltrane’s “Resolution.” These reviews were on metal-themed sites, so … OK? The rest of the album is a lot more tuneful than the Helmet I remember, a perception admittedly stuck in the early-1990s.

These fourth quarter picks can be found in the Favorite Edition 2023 Year Final:

  • Soundtrack, BLEACH: THE BLOOD WARFARE I
  • Troye Sivan, Something to Give Each Other
  • The Drums, Jonny
  • Jamila Woods, Water Made Us
  • Olivia Rodrigo, Guts

These fourth quarter picks can be found in the Favorite Edition Catalog 2023:

  • Slint, Tweez

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Purchase log, 2023-12-26

[Shiina Ringo - Holiday Jazz on 25th November, 2013]

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
  • Explosions in the Sky, End
  • Kesha, Gag Order
  • The Drums, Jonny

Catalog

CD
  • Augustana, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt
  • Citizen Cope, The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
  • Eluvium, Lambent Material
  • Jesus Jones, Doubt
  • Robbie Williams, Reality Killed the Video Star
Vinyl
  • MONO, Heaven, Vol. 1

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Shiina Ringo x Saito Neko, Heisei Fuuzoku
  • Shiina Ringo, Holiday Jazz on 25th November, 2013
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kouwankyoku~

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Favorite Edition 2023 Year Final

[SYML - The Day My Father Died]

Two things prevented me from really exploring new releases of 2023: working on my own music and discovering the work of Brian Fennell, id est SYML.

My iPod Touch has a playlist of unreleased Observant Records tracks that at one point lasted 2 hours. I have an EP, a reissue and a number of singles ready to unleash over the next two years. So I’ve been working in my own monkey house for a while, which means I’m probably losing perspective on how good this work may be.

Back in 2019, SYML released his debut album and showed up on a number of my social media feeds. My reaction: Oh, he’s cute. When he showed up again in 2023, I decided to listen to The Day My Father Died. I’ve since gone back and listened to his back catalog and also the albums he recorded with the band Barcelona.

So it’s just been me and Brian Fennell for most of 2023.

SYML, The Day My Father Died

When I first put The Day My Father Died on the half-year list, I hadn’t yet explored SYML’s self-titled debut. Now that I have, I actually like that album a bit more, but it didn’t stop The Day My Father Died from consistently getting multiple plays on my media players. Fennell has a great voice, and he’s a great songwriter. But his songs are so well-suited for his voice, it’s hard to imagine someone else covering his work. Still, it makes for some engrossing listening.

Kelela, Raven

My first play of the album was underwhelming, but I gave it another few spins, and before I knew it, the album had seeped into my consciousness. Nothing on this album stands out as a chart-topper, but in its entirety, Raven has a seductive quietude.

Eluvium, (whirring Marvels in) Consensus Reality

Eluvium albums tend to be more meditative, but this one goes for epic gestures. And it’s a welcome change.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Weathervanes

Jason Isbell is similar to Emmylou Harris in how they both don’t really make bad albums. But Weathervanes made me rethink just how much I liked the albums preceding it. Both The Nashville Sound and Reunions had reached the year-end favorite list, but Weathervanes has an emotional core about as raw and vulnerable as Southeastern, his breakthrough album that turned 10 in 2023. It’s probably his best album since Southeastern.

Everything But the Girl, Fuse

Do I like this album more than Walking Wounded, Amplified Heart or Temperamental? No. But Ben and Tracey reuniting is just the balm we need for the start of the 2020s.

Kesha, Gag Order

I love it when pop stars have genuine axes to grind, and Kesha comes out swinging.

Soundtrack, BLEACH: THE BLOOD WARFARE I

BLEACH: Thousand Year Blood War is the only scripted television show I watch, and I have been enjoying the conclusion of the BLEACH storyline immensely. A lot of the music on the soundtrack is familiar to anyone who’s watched the show for any length of time, but the stakes raised in the story means the score has to rise to the occasion. So real orchestra players come in where synthesizers held court, and Sagisu Shiro’s score gets more intense as a result.

Danish String Quartet, Prism V

Over the course of five albums, Danish String Quartet explored the connections between Beethoven and Bach on composers that came centuries in their wake. In this final edition, the quartet pairs Beethoven’s Op. 135 quartet with a quartet by Anton Webern written before Arnold Schoenberg’s influence would take a strong hold. As such, the Webern link to Beethoven and Bach is clearer than the ones the Danish drew with Bela Bartok, Dmitri Shostakovich or Alfred Schnittke.

Vagaon, Sorry I Haven’t Called

If you liked Vagabon’s self-titled album , this album doesn’t disappoint. Lætitia Tamko occupies that nebulous space between pop and indie rock navigated by the likes of Solange, Jamila Woods and Sampha (the latter who also released albums in 2023.)

The Drums, Jonny

The singles preceding this album’s release were some of Jonathan Pierce’s catchiest, and the rest of the album is no slouch. Plus, the album cover is quite … honest. I like it.

More favorites:

  • Olivia Rodrigo, GUTS: I’m not the target audience for Rodrigo’s lyrics, but man she sure gives us olds that big rock sound.
  • NUMBER GIRL, Mujo no Hi: Yes, “Toumei Shoujou” shows up four times on this live set, and yes, each iteration sounds as vital as the one before it.
  • Troye Sivan, Something to Give Each Other: I like the cover of this album too.
  • Jamila Woods, Water Made Us: Did you like Legacy! Legacy!? This one is good too.
  • Queens of the Stone Age, In Times New Roman …: Recommended if you like … Like Clockwork.

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Favorite Edition 2023 Catalog

[Slint - Tweez]

For reasons explained in the year-end overview for new releases, Brian Fennell dominated my media players in 2023. In addition to his work as SYML, he fronted the indie band Barcelona from the late 2000s to the mid-2010s. In the interest of diversity, I limited how much of his catalog appears on this list. Otherwise, it would have been SYML and Barcelona all the way down.

Slint, Tweez

Spiderland looms large in indie rock circles, which makes it easy to overlook the charms of its predecessor, Tweez. This album just hints at the post rock gestures Slint would pioneer, but its blistering, lo-fi sound deserves its own spot in the underground rock pantheon.

Barcelona, Absolutes
SYML, SYML

Fennell’s most recent work is much more introspective, but with Barcelona, he started out very much a rocker. Over time, electronics crept into the band’s sound, practically taking over the band’s third album, Basic Man. The self-titled SYML album sits at a midpoint where Fennell still wrote some rockers, but the quieter music started to make itself known. As beautiful as Fennell’s voice is on that quieter music, these louder albums demonstrate his versatility. He’s no slouch in front of lots of guitars.

Thomas Frank featuring Airport Mode, “Burn the Sails”

Thomas Frank is known primarily for his YouTube channels, but he also has musical ambitions. “Burn the Sails” is his first single as a singer, having released instrumental guitar pieces up till now. He admits to using pitch correction software, but the underlying vocals are indeed quite good.

Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen

I didn’t get around to listening to this album till the start of 2023. Otherwise, it would have ended up on the 2022 list.

Nena, ? (Fragezeihen)

The bilingual international album 99 Luftbalons takes most of its material from this second German-language album. So if you liked the English side of 99 Luftballons, then this album is a must-have.

Queens of the Stone Age, … Like Clockwork

Songs for the Deaf casts a pretty long shadow over the Queens’ discography such that I was hesitant to believe all the good reviews … Like Clockwork garnered at the time of its release. So yeah, this one is definitely a keeper.

King Geedorah, Take Me to Your Leader

Do I listen to MF Doom for the rhymes and the beats or for the cartoon mythology? Why not both?

Luscious Jackson, Electric Honey

I let this album go when cash got tight in the early 2000s, and it shows up with enough regularity at the thrift shop that I brought it back into the collection. It should have never left.

Daryll Hall and John Oates, Private Eyes

I would have liked Daryll Hall and John Oates more if their music hadn’t been so thoroughly saturated at the time of release. Now removed from that onslaught, I have to say Private Eyes is pretty darn catchy.

Notable reissues:

  • Robert Palmer, The Island Records Years: I haven’t compared this boxed set with previous reissues to determine if these albums have been remastered, but Palmer’s early albums are some of the most underrated. He starts off with the Meters as his backing band and eventually becomes the dapper singer fronting a band of models.
  • Jason Isbell, Southeastern: 10th Anniversary: Isbell’s breakout album gets supplemented with demos and a full live performance.
  • The Replacements, Tim: Let It Bleed Edition: This four-disc edition of the Mats’ major label debut album includes a new mix by Ed Stasium, the producer behind Living Colour’s Vivid. And it sounds pretty good.

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Purchase log, 2023-12-12

[Onitsuka Chihiro - Insomnia]

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

Blu Ray
  • Depeche Mode, Strange & Strange Too

Catalog

CD
  • Atari Teenage Riot, Burn, Berlin, Burn!
  • Bryan Adams, Reckless
  • Evanescence, Fallen
  • Semisonic, Great Divide
  • Sunny Day Real Estate, The Rising Tide

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Andrew Kenny and Benjamin Gibbard, Home, Vol. 5
  • Onitsuka Chihiro, Insomnia
  • Onitsuka Chihiro, This Armor
  • Onitsuka Chihiro, Sugar High

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Purchase log, 2023-12-05

[Hatakeyama Miyuki - Fragile]

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
  • Pearl Jam, Give Way

Catalog

CD
  • Adam Guettel, Floyd Collins (Original Cast Recording)
  • Lake Street Dive, Free Yourself Up
Vinyl
  • … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Secret of Elena’s Tomb
  • Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (Nigel Kennedy, English Chamber Orchestra)
  • Tears for Fears, “The Way You Are”

Reissues

CD
  • Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes (40th Anniversary Edition)
Vinyl
  • Duran Duran, Pop Trash
  • Hatakeyama Miyuki, Fragile

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Purchase log, 2023-11-28

[The Donnas - Get Skintight]

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
  • Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels, The Last Roundup: Life from the Bijou Cafe in Philadelphia, 3/16/73
  • INXS, Shabooh Shoobah Rarities
  • Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark Demos
  • Linkin Park, Lost Demos
  • Olivia Rodrigo, GUTS: The Secret Tracks

Catalog

CD
  • Alice in Chains, Sap
  • Huey Lewis and the News, Hard at Play
  • Tracey Thorn, Out of the Woods
Vinyl
  • Grace Jones, Island Life
  • Hüsker Dü, Metal Circus

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Justin Townes Earle, Yuma
  • Meat Puppets, Forbidden Places
  • The Donnas, Get Skintight
  • The Jesus Lizard, Blue

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Purchase log, 2023-11-21

[Sinéad O'Connor - The Lion and the Cobra]

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

CD
  • Helmet, Left

Catalog

CD
  • Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind
  • Faith No More, Sol Invictus
  • Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
  • King Geedorah, Take Me to Your Leader
  • Kraftwerk, The Mix (Remastered)
  • Radiohead, Hail to the Thief
  • Tres Chicas, Bloom, Red & the Ordinary Girl
Vinyl
  • Helmet, Live and Rare
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Reissues

CD
  • Deafheaven, Sunbather (10th Anniversary Edition)
Vinyl
  • Sinéad O’Connor, The Lion and the Cobra
  • Sinéad O’Connor, Universal Mother

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Purchase log, 2023-11-14

[John Zorn / Masada - The Complete Studio Master Takes]

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.

Catalog

CD
  • Faith No More, King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime
  • Mudhoney, Mudhoney
  • Pixies, Tromp le Monde
  • Robert Schumann, Album fur die Jungen, Op. 68 (Rico Guida)

Reissues

CD
  • John Zorn / Masada, The Complete Studio Master Takes
Vinyl
  • ART-SCHOOL, LOVE / HATE
  • ART-SCHOOL, REQUIEM FOR INNOCENCE

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