I’ve tuned into a number of live streams since SARS-CoV2 shut down live music worldwide, but I’m not listing them here in this concert overview.
I treated those live streams as background music while I surfed the web. I wouldn’t abide that behavior at a concert, so indulging in it during a live stream disqualifies me from saying, “I saw that performance.”
Looking back, it’s chilling to think I went to these shows when SARS-CoV2 had already begun its community spread.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Crocodile, Jan. 21
I left work early so I could rest up before going to this show, and I dodged a shooting that shut down Downtown Seattle. If I left an hour later, I may have been caught up in the mayhem.
This show was the first time I saw … Trail of Dead in a venue not located in Austin. They were as I remembered them, which is amazing after 20 some odd years of following the band. And yes, the stage got trashed at the end.
Dvořák’s ninth symphony left such an indelible impression on my young teenaged self, I never sought out any of his other orchestral works to avoid disappointment. So I’ve only recently become acquainted with his eighth symphony.
I have a number of Gidon Kremer albums with his Kremerata Baltica, so I was looking forward to hearing him perform, regardless of the work. I’m not familiar with Mieczysław Weinberg, but I came away with a favorable impression of his violin concerto.
Seattle Symphony, Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos, Benaroya Hall, Feb. 21
I admit I go to Seattle Symphony premieres in the hope of finding a “hit” — a work that I would crave to hear on recording. A lot of times, though, I leave the concert hall without an impression of what I heard. Such is the case with Ryan Wigglesworth’s Piano Concerto.
Seattle Festival Orchestra, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Town Hall Seattle, March 1
The soloist for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto was my violin teacher, Luke Fitzpatrick. I would hear him rehearse parts of the concerto before my lesson, so I went to this performance to see the final result. He pretty much crushed it. The inclusion of the Amy Beach Celtic symphony did make the program feel longer than it ought to have been.
I started running out of things to say just as the SARS-CoV2 spread in the US, and when the lockdown happened, I threw myself into recording a pair of cover albums. I wasn’t buying much music, nor listening to anyone other than myself. By the time I finished making the albums, stores were opening up, and my music buying eventually resumed.
But I still don’t have much to say.
That doesn’t mean I’ve run out of opinions. So here are my favorites of the year so far.
Sam Sparro, Boombox Eternal
Timo Andres / Brad Mehldau / Jeremy Denk / Randy Newman, I Still Play
Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions
The Streets, None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive
Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories, Jan. 17
When Trail of Dead announced they would take a hiatus after releasing their ninth album, it felt like the right time. They’d been at it for 20 years, and they sure deserved the break. Their return is also nicely timed — I have to say I’ve missed them.
Ben Watt, Storm Damage, Jan. 31
I’m still somewhat surprised Ben Watt has spent his post-Everything But the Girl solo career thus far being a troubadour.
Neneh Cherry, Raw Like Sushi (Deluxe Edition), Jan. 31
I came around to this album quite late, but I’m glad to see it get some deluxe treatment.
CHARA+YUKI, echo, Feb. 14
The closest thing we’ll get to a MEAN MACHINE reunion.
Onitsuka Chihiro, REQUIEM AND SILENCE, Feb. 20
Onitsuka Chihiro commemorates the 20th anniversary of her debut with yet another compilation, this one spanning three major labels.
Sam Sparro, Boombox Eternal, Feb. 21
If the pre-release single “Everything” reflects the remainder of the album, I’m on board.
Clannad, In a Lifetime Anthology, March 13
I probably don’t need this anthology given the depth of my Clannad collection, but I wait eagerly for news of US dates on their farewell tour.
LOVE PSYCHEDELICO, 20th Anniversary Box, March 25
Another band celebrating their 20th anniversary is LOVE PSYCHEDELICO. The 20th Anniversary Box compiles 4 CDs of singles, a Blu Ray or DVD of the duo’s acoustic tour, an LP of acoustic recordings and a score book. I’m tempted by the score book alone. The singles collection will also be sold separately (COMPLETE SINGLES 2000-2019), and the acoustic recordings will be released on vinyl (TWO OF US Acoustic Recording Session at VICTOR STUDIO 302.)
Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome (Premium Edition), March 20
Aside from a poster and a photo book, this premium edition of Syndrome also includes a second disc of the entire album without vocals. Karaoke! It’s also housed in an LP-sized jacket. I say, just stick a vinyl version of the album in that jacket!
Weezer, Weezer (The Teal Album), March 8
I’m usually ambivalent about Weezer, but this album is actually fun. It’s been available on streaming services for a while now.
Gang of Four, Happy Now, March 29
I might check this out when it’s released, but I have to admit I haven’t even listened to Complicit yet. The band’s previous album, What Happens Next, was one of the last I downloaded from eMusic before I canceled my subscription.
Idlewild, Interview Music, April 5 (UK)
Idlewild dropped off my radar right around the middle of the last decade, so I’m not sure if they’ve got successively safer with each album or if they reverted back to the brashness of Hope Is Important.
The Drums, Brutalism, April 5
I think I’m still following the Drums because Jonny Pierce synthesizes post-punk in a way more sophisticated than Interpol, the Killers or the Strokes ever did.
Massive Attack, Mezzanine (Deluxe Edition), April 19 (UK)
I picked this album up from the thrift store in 2018. I like it, but enough to drop money on a deluxe edition?
BBMak, TBD, April 26
Don’t judge. I’ll be in London when this album comes out. HMV will probably be shuttered by that time.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Madonna, March 5
I missed out on the 2013 reissue of this album, so I’ve already placed my pre-order.
Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!, March 6
I won’t lie — I would rather see fra-foa’s Chuu no Fuchi reissued on vinyl, but I AM Ready! was enjoyable. Maybe enjoyable enough to get on vinyl?
Utada Hikaru, “Face My Fears”, March 6
I’m getting this less for the new song and more for the English version of “Chikai”, going by the title “Don’t Think Twice”. “Chikai” is probably the most rhythmically confounding song Utada has written.