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Purchase log, 2021-10-05

[Explosions in the Sky - Big Bend]

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
  • Explosions in the Sky, Big Bend

Catalog

CD
  • BT, Movement in Still Life
  • Dixie Chicks, Home
  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Olivia Newton-John, 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection
  • Paul Van Dyk, Out There and Back
  • Sasha, airdrawndagger
  • Various Artists, Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life
Vinyl
  • George Winston, December
  • Lukas Foss, Baroque Variations
  • Prince, Originals (Deluxe Edition)
  • Shadowfax, Shadowfax
  • Vanessa Williams, The Right Stuff

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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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Purchase log, 2019-08-20

[Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won't Hold]

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
  • Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold

Catalog

CD
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Broadway Cast)
  • Bill Frisell, Good Dog, Happy Man
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet, Requiem
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
  • CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe
  • Devo, Greatest Hits
  • Don Byron, Bug Music
  • Information Society, Peace and Love, Inc.
  • LFO, LFO
  • Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Spanish Fly
  • Los Amigos Invisibles, Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey into Space
  • Mr. Lif, I Phantom
  • Queen, A Night at the Opera
  • Wye Oak, Civilian
Vinyl
  • Béla Bartók, Mikrokosmos, Vol. 6 / Out of Doors / Sonatina (Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich)
  • Fugazi, End Hits
  • George Crumb, Makrokosmos, Vol. II (Robert Miller)
  • George Crumb, Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III)
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything
  • Nico Muhly and Teitur, Confessions
  • Re-Flex, The Politics of Dancing
  • Run DMC, Raising Hell
  • Ryan Stout, Touché
  • Sting, 57th and Ninth
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Explosions in the Sky, How Strange Innocence
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Rescue
  • NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC
  • NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
  • NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT

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Looking ahead: August-November 2019

[NUMBER GIRL - DESTRUCTION BABY]

Perfume, Perfume the Best “P Cubed“, Sept. 18

One new song out of a 52-track career retrospective? I think I’m fine.

The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop, Sept. 27

Don’t Tell a Soul was the first album I bought from the Replacements, so I’m interested to hear this period of the band’s history expanded on this boxed set.

Cocco, Star Shank, Oct. 2

Three years is pretty much the average gap between Cocco albums these days, now that she’s diversified into fashion, films, stage acting and literature. So she’s right on schedule.

Vinyl

Explosions in the Sky, The Rescue, Aug. 16
Explosions in the Sky, How Strange Innocence, Aug. 16

Explosions in the Sky wrote and recorded The Rescue in two weeks, and it’s a surprisingly tight album given its self-imposed constraints. Previously available only at the band’s shows, it gets a vinyl reissue for the band’s 20th anniversary.

Pinback, Summer in Abaddon (15th Anniversary Edition), Sept. 27

During my days as a record store employee, I got the impression Pinback was a fairly mellow band. So when I found this album at the thrift store, I was taken aback by how boisterous it was.

NUMBER GIRL, Kanden no Kioku, Nov. 3
NUMBER GIRL, DESTRUCTION BABY, Nov. 3

Just as Universal was starting to neglect NUMBER GIRL’s albums, the band reunites and gives the label a reason to dig into the archives. Oh, thank goodness.

Midnight Oil, Breathe Tour 97, Nov. 29

I’m unclear about whether this album was actually released on Record Store Day 2019. It showed up on the list, only to disappear as the April date approached. But it’s up on Discogs, so … where was it available? And is this reissue vaporware?

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2003

[The Wrens - The Meadowlands]

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.

Back in February, I argued 2002 was an important year in music of the 2000s. 2003 is no slouch in that regard either. The list from that year sees no major changes.

  1. Shiina Ringo, Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana
  2. ACO, Irony
  3. Molotov, Dance and Dense Denso
  4. Café Tacuba, Cuatro Caminos
  5. ART-SCHOOL, LOVE/HATE
  6. Sasagawa Miwa, Jijitsu
  7. bloodthirsty butchers, Kouya ni Okeru bloodthirsty butchers
  8. Bonnie Pink, Present
  9. downy, untitled third album
  10. Explosions in the Sky, The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place

Other favorites from the year:

  • Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
  • Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism
  • Bleach, Bleach
  • The Postal Service, Give Up
  • NUMBER GIRL, Sapporo OMOIDE IN MY HEAD Joutai
  • Onitsuka Chihiro, Sugar High
  • Original Cast Recording, Avenue Q
  • Emmylou Harris, Stumble Into Grace
  • NIRGILIS, Tennis
  • Rufus Wainwright, Want One
  • Hayashi Asuca, Saki
  • Caitlin Cary, I’m Staying Out
  • The Bad Plus, These Are the Vistas
  • DJ Krush, Shinsou ~Message from the Depth~
  • Benjamin Gibbard / Andrew Kenny, Home, Vol. 5
  • The Wrens, The Meadowlands
  • Longwave, The Strangest Things

The only change is switching out Explosions in the Sky for Outkast, and the extended list adds the Wrens and Longwave.

I was working at Waterloo Records in 2003, and legitimate download services hadn’t gotten off the ground yet to stem the tide of rampant file sharing. So I was discovering a lot of great music through word of mouth and on the job.

While I’ve added a number of 2003 titles to my collection in the following years, few have edged their way into this already crowded field.

So I guess I’m pretty set where 2003 is concerned.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2007

[The Dead Betties - Nightmare Sequence]

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.

The further we get from the present day, the more we’ll find retroactive changes to the Favorite Edition lists. The 2007 list sees a lot of shifting in the Favorite 10, and a number of retroactive additions.

  1. Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
  2. UA, Golden green
  3. The Dead Betties, Nightmare Sequence
  4. Björk, Volta
  5. unkie, the Price of Fame
  6. Nico Muhly, Speaks Volumes
  7. Stephen Sondheim, Company (2006 Cast Recording)
  8. Once, Music from the Motion Picture
  9. Sasagawa Miwa, Mayoi Naku
  10. Tokyo Jihen, Goraku (Variety)

Other favorites from the year:

  • Synapse/Elliott Cole, The Oracle Hysterical
  • Tommy heavenly6, Heavy Starry Heavenly
  • Kawai Kenji, Seirei no Moribito
  • Office, A Night at the Ritz
  • M.I.A., Kala
  • The National, Boxer
  • Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
  • Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch

The cast recording for 2006 production of Company gets a retroactive boost, missing the Favorite 10 the first time out. A PBS broadcast of the revival directed by John Doyle went a long way in raising its ranking.

I didn’t discover the Dead Betties till a year and some change after the release of Nightmare Sequence, and it would have shot up to the Favorite 10 had I known about it. The album doesn’t lose its punch more than a decade on.

Rufus Wainwright’s Release the Stars and Smashing Pumpkins’ Zeitgeist fall of the list entirely. I think those albums earned their place on the Favorite 10 because I was not paying attention to what was happening in 2007, if the expanded list is any indication.

I’m not sure I actually like The National, but I remember catching the band’s appearance on Live from the Artists Den and thinking Matt Berninger was a tall drink of water. Boxer is rather fine album, nonetheless.

I would not have picked up Band of Horses without Renée Fleming. I get them mixed up with the Band of Heathens and Band of Skulls.

I didn’t actually like Sirens of the Ditch the first time I listened to it. I was just starting to explore Jason Isbell’s work after hearing Southeastern, and I wanted everything to sound like it. I had no context about his work with Drive-By Truckers. Sirens of the Ditch is closer to his work with the Truckers than his more recent albums, and that understanding goes a long way to building appreciation for his solo debut.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2016

[Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth]

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.

The 2016 list has actually undergone a revision, so this list consolidates the two entries, with some slight changes.

  1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
  2. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4
  3. MONO, Requiem for Hell
  4. Solange, A Seat at the Table
  5. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service
  6. Perfume, COSMIC EXPLORER
  7. Drive By Truckers, American Band
  8. Shaprece, COALS
  9. Cocco, Adan Ballet
  10. Colvin & Earle, Colvin & Earle

Other favorites from the year:

  • Utada Hikaru, Fantôme
  • Ty Herndon, House on Fire
  • Eluvium, False Readings On
  • Santigold, 99 Cents
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness
  • Blood Orange, Freetown Sound
  • Colin Stetson, Sorrow: A Reimagining of Gorecki’s Third Symphony
  • John Adams, Scheherazade.2

The 10 favorites remain the same, while Utada Hikaru and Ty Herndon get bumped down. ANONHI, Pixies and De La Soul get bumped off completely.

I included Pixies because Head Carrier was an improvement over Indie Cindy, but it wasn’t stellar enough to hold onto its position. Albums by ANONHI and De La Sol were good, but over time, they couldn’t hold onto to their status as favorites.

As I mentioned before, lists from this decade probably won’t see much shifting, as my focus continues to move to exploring catalog. Most of the 2016 releases I bought after the year had passed were vinyl issues.

A Bruce Springsteen compilation accompanying the release of his autobiography did set me on a course to explore his earlier albums.

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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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Concert Edition 2016

[Sturgill Simpson, Paramount Theatre, Nov. 11, 2016]

Sturgill Simpson posted a photo of the crowd at his Seattle show on Nov. 11, 2016. I was standing pretty close to the stage, and sure enough, I spotted myself in the pic. His show capped yet another active year of concerts, which included a trip to Portland and two weeks of modern American symphonic music.

Sō Percussion, Jan. 31, 2016

Like Kronos Quartet before it, Sō Percussion commissions original works that often push technological boundaries as much as musical ones. The first time I saw Sō in Austin, the quartet performed Dan Trueman’s neither Anvil nor Pulley, which required performers to use old game console controllers to manipulate a Bach keyboard piece.

For this concert, Bryce Dessner’s Music for Wood and Strings features the Chordstick, a custom instrument that combines a hammered dulcimer with an electric guitar.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 2], Feb. 5

The big piece performed at this concert of mid-20th Century New York City composers was Rothko Chapel by Morton Feldman. 2016 would eventually find Seattle Symphony programming four Feldman pieces in various concerts. Crowd reaction, of course, ranged from the usual restlessness to outright departure.

Seattle Symphony, Berio: Sinfonia, Feb. 6

I hadn’t planned on attending this concert till my music theory professor devoted an entire class on the piece. The fact Roomful of Teeth performed with the symphony was another incentive.

Kronos Quartet, Feb. 20

Sorry, the live performance of Beyond Zero: 1914-1918 did not convince me to pick up the DVD, but it’s always nice to hear Franghiz Ali-Zade’s Mugam Sayagi.

Ty Herndon, Feb. 25

It was a sparse crowd at El Corazon, and Herndon played a stripped down set of his hits. He also previewed “If You” and mentioned his new album would be out in May. House of Fire arrived in September, albeit with a larger promotional splash.

Jeremy Denk, March 18

The Goldberg Variations and Ligeti Etudes in a single night. Yeah, it was a good concert.

John Adams, Scheherezade.2, March 19

Oh wow, did Leila Josefowicz bring her A-game. I picked up the Nonesuch recording of this work when it was released because it’s an amazing display of athleticism. I think I like this work more than Adams’ first Violin Concerto.

Stephen Sondheim, Assassins, Feb. 26

As much of a Stephen Sondheim fan that I am, I’ve so far only seen two of his works on stage. Honolulu Community Theatre did Sunday in the Park with George back in the early ’90s. ACT Theatre did Assassins. That’s a show that will test your startle response.

Rhye, Apr. 21

Seattle Theatre Group scheduled Rhye and Courtney Barnett for the same night, and I wanted to see both of them equally. I ended up going to Rhye because Barnett’s show sold out. Despite illness, Milosh sounded awesome.

Santigold, May 14

I couldn’t decide who I wanted to see more — Santigold or the SG1 Dancers. It turned out I loved them both.

Seattle Symphony, Beethoven and Gershwin, June 11

A scheduling conflict prevented me from attending the first [untitled] concert of the season, so I traded the ticket for a program of Beethoven and Gershwin works. The evening started with the Seattle premiere of Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour, which the crowd seemed surprised to enjoy.

Seattle Symphony, Tuning Up!, June 17-July 2

After years of attending SXSW, I decided I was going to stay away from Bumbershoot. Then Seattle Symphony announced a two-week summer festival of American modern works, and I couldn’t part with my money fast enough. The clerks at David and Co. thought I was a performer because I was there for every concert. George Perle, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe — I was definitely the target market for this festival.

Matt Alber, June 26

A bout of pneumonia prevented me from seeing Matt Alber in 2014, so his show in June was a nice way to participate in at least one gay pride event this year.

Explosions in the Sky, Sept. 2

I thought it was odd Explosions in the Sky announced a whole bunch of Pacific Northwest dates without including Seattle, so I opted to travel down to Portland and catch them at the wonderful Crystal Ballroom. The day after I bought my ticket, the band announced its Bumbershoot date. Bullet dodged.

Sigur Rós, Sept. 20

The last time Sigur Rós performed in Seattle was in 2012, and the show sold out by the time I could access the Seattle Theatre Group site. This time, I got into the pre-sale. The amazing light show was equal parts Einstein on the Beach and TRON.

Seattle Symphony, Prokofiev and Beethoven, Sept. 24

For this concert, the symphony premiered a piece by Gabriel Prokofiev and included The Love of Three Oranges by his grandfather, Sergei. It had been so long since I listened to Three Oranges that I anticipated Peter and the Wolf instead.

Seattle Symphony, [untitled 1], Oct. 28

I’m not as versed in the works of Witold Lutoslawski, but then who is?

Sturgill Simpson, Nov. 11

Sturgill Simpson doesn’t do encores, and why should he when he plays two hours straight? That show pretty much made me wonder why I’m still going to rock concerts in my mid-40s. How could Simpson have the endurance to do those shows for six months, when just watching him exhausted me?

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Favorite Edition 2016 Year Half

[Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth]

It’s half way through the year, and I’ve listed all but three of the new releases I own this year.

That’s 13 albums from 2016.

So while I can technically create a favorite 10 albums of the year so far, that doesn’t actually mean I feel very strongly about most of this list.

  • Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth: Simpson aimed to make this album his What’s Goin’ On, and he pretty much hits it.
  • Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 4: Don’t expect a sequel to Górecki’s chart-topping Symphony No. 3. This work goes back to the modernist style he forged on his second symphony.
  • Colvin & Earle, Colvin & Earle This pairing is counterintuitive but kind of inevitable, and it works.
  • ANOHNI, HOPELESSNESS: ANOHNI trades in the chamber pop of Antony and the Johnsons for an aggressive electronic sound, something she’s already done before with Björk.
  • Santigold, 99 Cents: Santigold goes for a sunnier sound on this album, and while it may not be as fascinating as her previous albums, they’re tuneful as hell nonetheless.
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness: After the predictability of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, The Wilderness is a definite zag to its predecessor’s zig. It’s probably the most adventurous Explosions album to date.
  • Ben Watt, Fever Dream: Watt builds upon the post-Everything but the Girl vibe of Hendra with a stronger set of songs.
  • Colin Stetson, Sorrow: A Reimagining of Górecki’s 3rd Symphony: I should hate the idea of a post-rock interpretation of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, but I don’t. I like what Stetson does here.
  • UA, JaPo: Nope, UA hasn’t returned to her pop roots, but she does provide enough hooks to temper her more avant-garde tendencies.
  • Prince, HITnRUN Phase Two: Recommended if you like classic Prince.

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