Archives

Looking ahead: September-November 2021

[Tomosaka Rie - Cappuccino / Escalation]

Explosions in the Sky, Big Bend, Oct. 1

I haven’t really cottoned to Explosion in the Sky’s soundtrack work, but I’m hoping this release feels more like an album than a cue sheet.

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle, Oct. 8

At first, I thought this album was just a reissue of Live in Seattle, till I took a closer look at the title.

Renée Fleming, Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene, Oct. 8

I wonder if John Green would be interested in reviewing this album.

The Replacements, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, Oct. 22

The Replacements had, at best, a periphery influence on my teenage listening habits, and yet I’ve bought just about every deluxe edition of their albums. Clearly, I’m making up for lost time.

R.E.M., New Adventures in Hi-Fi (Deluxe Edition), Oct. 29

I’m ambivalent about this album. I had sold it for cash a long time ago, but I picked it up again from the thrift shop. I don’t know if it holds up well.

ABBA, Voyage, Nov. 3

I can’t lie — I’m pretty damn excited about a new ABBA album in 40 years. The singles preceding the album sound like time hadn’t stopped for the quartet, and the world definitely came back around to them.

Sting, The Bridge, Nov. 19

I guess I still care because there is a part of me that fondly remembers a younger Sting in various forms of undress.

Vinyl

Robbie Williams, Life Thru a Lens, Sept. 24
Robbie Williams, I’ve Been Expecting You, Sept. 24

The Ego Has Landed was one of my most played CDs of 1999, and it collected the best bits of Robbie Williams’ first two albums. About 20 years later, I would find I’ve Been Expecting You at the thrift store. So I have to say I’m very much tempted to drop cash on these vinyl reissues, even though I haven’t heard Life Thru a Lens in its entirety.

AJICO, Fukamidori, Nov. 3
AJICO, AJICO SHOW, Nov. 3
AJICO, Setsuzoku, Nov. 3
Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind, Nov. 3
Tomosaka Rie, “Cappuccino / Escalation”, Nov. 3

Japan actually has its own Record Store Day event that focuses on domestic releases, but it’s separate from Record Day, which happens annually in November. While Record Store Day focuses on independent retailers, Record Day in Japan looks similar to National Album Day in the UK, where larger retailers are involved with the festivities.

Past Record Days in Japan have included reissues of NUMBER GIRL, YEN TOWN BAND and a number of Studio Ghibli soundtracks. For me, AJICO is the biggest news coming out of this year’s crop, but I’m also immensely pleased to see Hatakeyama Miyuki’s Diving into your mind getting a reissue. The Tomosaka Rie 7-inch single pairs two of her biggest hits, “Cappuccino” and “Escalation”, the A-side written by Shiina Ringo.

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Looking ahead, May-June 2021

[Duran Duran - Future Past]

AJICO, Setsuzoku, May 25

Everyone’s back! UA, Asai Kenichi, TOKIE and Shiino Kyoichi! I’m hoping there’s a full album in the future.

Tokyo Jihen, Ongaku (Music), June 9

I’ve missed Tokyo Jihen, but the singles that have been released since the reunion haven’t really caught me.

Sleater-Kinney, Path of Wellness, June 11

It feels as if everyone who’s announcing new albums wouldn’t have been working on them had it not been for the pandemic.

Duran Duran, Future Past, Oct. 22

Giorgio Moroder did wonders on Kylie Minogue’s DISCO, and the single “Invisible” is the hardest Duran Duran has rocked since perhaps “The Wild Boys”.

Vinyl

My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything, May 21
My Bloody Valentine, Loveless, May 21
My Bloody Valentine, mbv, May 21

I have an unofficial pressing of Isn’t Anything, so I made sure to order a legitimate one directly from the band themselves. I can’t say I feel much need for mbv on vinyl.

Utada Hikaru, One Last Kiss (US release), Aug. 20

I already have the Japanese pressing of this EP. Will I be getting this domestic pressing? Probably yes.

Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills, Sept. 17

Isolation Drills was reissued for Record Store Day as a single disc. This new pressing spreads the album out over two discs, which is far more prudent for its length.

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45 Albums for 45 Years: A Birthday Retrospective (2000s)

[Shiina Ringo - Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana]

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.

AJICO, Fukamidori

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.

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