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.
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.
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.
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.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead, Source Code and Tags
Kronos Quartet, Nuevo
The Streets, Original Pirate Material
Hajime Chitose, Hainumikaze
NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC
Quruli, THE WORLD IS MINE
Zoobombs, love is funky
Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
Patty Griffin, 1,000 Kisses
Other favorites from the year:
Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf
Damien Jurado and Gathered In Song, I Break Chairs
Pedro the Lion, Control
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Missy Elliott, Under Construction
The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts
Sonic Youth, Murray Street
Sleater-Kinney, One Beat
Kylie Minogue, Fever
The Roots, Phrenology
The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious
Catilin Cary, While You Weren’t Looking
BUGY CRAXONE, Northern Hymns
N.E.R.D., In Search Of …
The Books, Thought for Food
Nappy Roots, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz
Minako, Suck It till Your Life Ends mata wa Shine Made Sono Mama Yatte Iro
The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot
Shiratori Maika, Hanazono
The Back Horn, Shinzou Orchestra
Joan Jeanrenaud, Metamorphosis
I picked up Original Pirate Material for $1 at Lifelong Thrift Shop, and now I understand why it was all over the place in 2002. I couldn’t open a music magazine without seeing Mike Skinner mentioned in it. I’m pretty sure the sample of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 sealed my admiration for the album.
THE WORLD IS MINE is something of a mea culpa. At the time of its release, I recognized the album as being Quruli’s most complex, but I just couldn’t get into it. I probably felt that it didn’t go far enough if it was going to be ambitious.
Well, the joke’s on me. I listened to it again before its reissue on vinyl, and I really dug it, much more than Antenna, which I praised effusively at the time. So it knocked Minako’s one and only album off the Favorite 10. UA also had to make room for the Streets.
The extended list includes albums I originally dismissed: Murray Street by Sonic Youth and One Beat by Sleater-Kinney.
I remember stocking Nappy Roots during my shifts at Waterloo Records and wondering what the big deal was. A $1 copy from Lifelong Thrift Shop 16 years later educated me. I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to Nappy Roots, The Decemberists or ISIS without having worked at Waterloo.
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.
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.