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.
Do I have new favorites? Which ones have fallen out of favor? This time around, we’ll cover a greater span of time from as recently as last year, all the way to 1978!
We start with last year’s list.
This most recent decade won’t see much in the way of significant revisions, as I explore deeper into catalog releases than following new artists. Wouldn’t it be odd if I discover new artists from 2017 five years from now? Probably not.
- Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome
- Royal Wood, Ghost Light
- RADWIMPS, Your name.
- Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All
- Sam Amidon, The Following Mountain
- Kronos Quartet, Folk Songs
- Gaytheist, Let’s Jam Again Soon
- Eluvium, Shuffle Drone
- Sampha, Process
- Living Colour, Shade
Other favorites from the year:
- Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise
- David Rawlings, Poor David’s Almanac
- Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
- Leo Imai, Film Scum EP
- Renée Fleming, Distant Light
- Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kuukoukyoku~
- Brandon Stansell, Slow Down
- Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister, Planetarium
Jason Isbell’s previous two albums ranked high on the Favorite Edition lists of 2013 and 2015, but The Nashville Sound had a tenuous grip on its position in the 2017 list. The late discovery of Sampha and Eluvium gave Isbell the final nudge.
Anne Dudley took up Eluvium’s vacated spot, nearly knocking Living Colour off.
Brandon Stansell makes his first appearance on the list. Stansell performed at the Concert for Love and Acceptance, hosted by Ty Herndon. Like Herndon, Stansell is a country artist, although he’s starting his career out of the closet.
Tags: anne dudley, brandon stansell, bryce dessner, david rawlings, eluvium, favorite edition, gaytheist, james mcalister, jason isbell, kronos quartet, leo imai, living colour, nico muhly, onitsuka chihiro, radwimps, renee fleming, rewind, royal wood, sam amidon, sam smith, sampha, shiina ringo, sufjan stevens
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.
- Leo Imai, VLP
- Steve Grand, not the end of me
- Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
- New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies
- Tomosaka Rie, Murasaki.
- Wendy Carlos, Switched-On Bach
- Original London Cast, Miss Saigon
- Andy Gibb, Shadow Dancing
- Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else
- Chris Isaak, Forever Blue
- Enigma, The Cross of Changes
- Fishbone, In Your Face
- McCoy Tyner, The Real McCoy
- Ready for the World, Ready for the World
- Simple Minds, Sparkle in the Rain
- The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
- The Pogues, Rum Sodomy & the Lash
- Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise
- Fishbone, The Reality of My Surroundings
Tags: andy gibb, anne dudley, cannonball adderley, chris isaak, enigma, fishbone, go-go's, leo imai, mccoy tyner, new order, purchase log, ready for the world, simple minds, soundtrack, steve grand, the flaming lips, the pogues, tomosaka rie, wendy carlos
I started a new job on May 21, and I’m still getting adjusted to a new routine. I’m not ready to say the hiatus has ended just yet, but I can say new entries should resume before the end of summer. Till then, here’s a preview of upcoming releases.
Emmylou Harris, Ballad of Sally Rose (Deluxe Edition), June 1
I have listened to a lot of Emmylou Harris, and I can say this album is my least favorite. But its underdog status makes me curious about what didn’t make the album. Also, the current CD pressings sound awful, and I hope the remastering rectifies that.
Clannad, Turas 1980, June 8
This live album contains songs never recorded in the studio by the band.
Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi, June 27
In retrospect, Fantôme was something of a downer. The singles preceding the release of Hatsukoi indicate a bouncier direction. Utada comes full circle title-wise — hatsukoi is the Japanese translation of “first love”.
Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (Deluxe Edition), June 29
This album hadn’t already received a deluxe edition treatment? I’m not shelling out for anything more than the 2-disc edition.
Leo IMAI, V L P, July 11
I really enjoyed Film Scum, and it’s too bad the full album was only available at his live shows. I look forward to this album nonetheless.
Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise, June 22
This album receives a physical release in the UK and a digital release in the US. I was impatient and got the Japanese release last year, and Dudley employs some real studio wizardry to interpret the Art of Noise acoustically.
Fishbone, The Reality of My Surroundings, July 13
Trips to Goodwill have allowed me to rediscover this band.
Tags: anne dudley, clannad, emmylou harris, fishbone, guns n' roses, leo imai, looking ahead, utada hikaru
It was bound to happen — an influx of Christmas gift money allows me to explore more albums after the year-end post goes online. None of these albums would knock off anything in the final list, but they’re definitely worthy of some belated consideration.
Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise
Anne Dudley, Gary Langan and J.J. Jeczalik rebooted the post-Trevor Horn version of the Art of Noise to reissue In Visible Silence. In the midst of it, Dudley released her own interpretations of Art of Noise tracks using mostly piano and percussion with some clever arrangements. The album was released in Japan, and the band hinted it would eventually see a US/UK release. I was not patient, and I think Art of Noise fans are missing out.
Dudley strips away the obfuscating aspects of the original Art of Noise tracks to bring out their musicality. On “Legs”, the croaking bass line turns into clusters that lose none of the original’s percussiveness. Added bonus: she covers the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Onitsuka Chihiro, Tiny Screams
I actually listened to Tiny Screams when it came out (via the Evil Sharing Networks) and vowed to get my own copy when the Christmas money came. The more I listened to it, the more I favored it over Cocco’s four-disc live extravaganza. The barebones arrangements of the original recordings somehow get stripped even further and become more intense (“BORDERLINE”).
R.E.M., Automatic for the People (Deluxe Edition)
I’ve already gone on record about my ambivalence toward Automatic for the People. I wasn’t inclined to get the deluxe edition of the album till I heard its companion live disc playing in-store at Easy Street Music. The playlist mixes just the correct amount of new material with familiar, throwing in a surprise on occasion. If anything, I’ve played the live disc — R.E.M.’s only concert in 1992 to promote the album — more times than I have the remastered album.
Leo Imai, Film Music EP
OK, I need to follow Leo Imai on some sort of social media site. Last I paid attention, Imai released his third solo album, Made from Nothing, in 2013. Since then, he formed another group, Metafive, and now he’s released an album of film music. The Film Music EP is available in the US through online services, but the full Film Music album is available only at live shows.
Imai has grown bolder as a writer. The four instrumentals on Film Music EP refract the influence of his KIMONOS bandmate Mukai Shuutoku, but “Videotape” shows Imai can be catchy when he wants to be.
Tags: anne dudley, favorite edition, leo imai, onitsuka chihiro, r.e.m., the art of noise
Even after posting a preview of June, more titles were announced as May wore on. Seriously, labels, why are you all putting all this stuff out in one month? You got 12 from which to choose.
Beth Ditto, Fake Sugar, June 16
I was sad to see Gossip split up, but it did feel like the group had gone as far as it could.
Wendy and Lisa, Eroica (Deluxe Edition), June 16
I was wondering when a deluxe edition of this album would appear. Even Fruit at the Bottom got a deluxe treatment.
Onitsuka Chihiro, Tiny Screams, June 21
Onitsuka Chihiro has released a number of live DVDs, but Tiny Screams is her first live album.
Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (Deluxe Edition), June 23
Of course, I’ll be getting this reissue, but the deluxe edition on my wish list is Parade.
Radiohead, OK Computer OKNOTOK, June 23
I picked this album up for $1 at the Seattle Public Library Book Sale back in March 2017 in an attempt to understand its appeal. I’ve encountered OK Computer over the years, but it has never left enough of an impression with me to warrant its unadulterated praise.
TLC, TLC, June 30
How is it I own every TLC album except Ooooh, On the TLC Tip!?
LOVE PSYCHEDELICO, Love Your Love, July 5
It’s been four years since Delico released an album, but the duo has never seen the need to rush.
k.d. lang, Ingenue (25th Anniversary Edition), July 14 (Vinyl, Aug. 18)
File under: The one album you would own of an artist if you bought nothing else from that artist.
Arcade Fire, Everything Now, July 28
I ended up at an Arcade Fire concert because I wanted to see Explosions in the Sky. It was one of the best live shows I’ve seen. But the only album I really own is Funeral.
Anne Dudley, Plays the Art of Noise, TBD (US/UK, out now in Japan)
Art of Noise was always so coy about who did what, but in those early years, I had inkling Anne Dudley brought in the music, while everyone else brought in the noise. Later interviews would confirm that was exactly the case.
The Cranberries, Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, June 16
The soundtrack to romantic comedy movie trailers.
Helmet, Meantime, June 23
I remember reading about the bidding war to sign Helmet to a major label deal. I bought the album out of curiosity and wondered how Interscope was going to recoup its advance.
Emmylou Harris, Pieces of the Sky, July 5
Emmylou Harris, Elite Hotel, July 5
Emmylou Harris, Luxury Liner, July 5
Emmylou Harris, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, July 5
Emmylou Harris, Blue Kentucky Girl, July 5
Did you miss out on the Record Store Day boxed set, Queen of the Silver Dollar? It looks like the box is being broken out into individual releases. Or you can find fairly decent used copies of these albums for a bargain.
Soundtrack, Pride and Prejudice, July 7
The soundtrack to the film with Keira Knightley is actually pretty good, but like everything else about Pride and Prejudice, it’s not as good as the BBC mini-series.
Beyoncé, Lemonade, July 28
Unofficial pressings of this album have been in local record shops for a while now.
Tags: anne dudley, beth ditto, beyonce, emmylou harris, helmet, kd lang, looking ahead, love psychedelico, prince, radiohead, soundtrack, the cranberries, tlc, wendy and lisa