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Looking ahead: September-October 2019

[BBMAK - Powerstation]

John Coltrane, Blue World, Sept. 27

Unlike 2018’s Both Directions at Once, this album is not so much lost as unreleased. Coltrane recorded a soundtrack for the film Le chat dans le sac, but most of the sessions were not used in the final cut.

Sturgill Simpson, Sound and Fury, Sept. 27

Judging by the first single, I don’t think this album can be called “country.” The fact it will be accompanied by an anime film is about as far from country as anyone gets.

BBMAK, Powerstation, Oct. 11

Finally! A date! Albeit for the digital release. I don’t need an autographed copy of the CD, which is available for pre-order on the band’s site. I’m hoping a normal, vanilla pre-order will be available. Soon.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Oct. 18

I remember when I was really getting into Southeastern, I tried listening to Isbell’s previous albums. At the time, I didn’t really warm up to Sirens in the Ditch or the self-titled album with 400 Unit. I think enough time has passed since then to revisit what I passed over. Also arriving on the same date is Here We Rest. Both albums have been remixed and remastered.

Michael Kiwanuka, Kiwanuka, Oct. 27

I picked up Michael Kiwanuka’s debut, Home Again, from Goodwill for $1.99. I liked it enough to pick up Love & Hate at full price.

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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: 2011

[Edwin Outwater - From Here on Out]

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.

Spotify finally arrived in the US in 2011, and at the time, digital releases meant iTunes downloads. Vinyl album releases still came with CDs to go with them.

Like 2012, the 2011 Favorite Edition doesn’t alter the original list very much, and releases from that year haven’t really made its way into my collection since then.

  1. Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now
  2. Kuriyama Chiaki, CIRCUS
  3. Chiara String Quartet, Jefferson Freidmann: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3
  4. SuiseiNoboAz, THE (OVERUSED) END OF THE WORLD and I MISS YOU MUH-FUH
  5. MO’SOME TONEBENDER, MO’SOME TONEBENDER
  6. Matt Alber, Constant Crows
  7. James Blake, James Blake
  8. Steve Reich, WTC 9/11 / Mallet Quartet / Dance Patterns
  9. Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Here We Rest
  10. Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ULTRA

Other favorites from the year:

  • Edwin Outwater, From Here On Out (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony)
  • Kronos Quartet / Kimmo Pohjonen / Samuli Kosminen, Uniko
  • NOW Ensemble, Awake
  • The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
  • itsnotyouitsme, Everybody’s Pain Is Magnificent
  • John Lunn, Downton Abbey
  • Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys
  • Abigail Washburn, City of Refuge

Jason Isbell and Frank Ocean are retroactive additions. I wouldn’t have been aware of either artist before 2011. nostalgia, ULTRA is probably Ocean’s best album, and Here We Rest shows Isbell prepared for the breakthrough of Southeastern two years later.

Kronos Quartet and The Decemberists get bumped from the Favorite 10 as a result.

Edwin Outwater is a late discovery but also emblematic of the music I was exploring at the time. His album with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is about as literal as you can get with the term “indie classical”.

2011 was also the final year I lived in Austin, Texas. I didn’t get around to posting the year-end list till March 2012 because I was busy with my move to Seattle in January.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2013

[Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe]

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.

I relaunched this site in early 2014 to focus more on discovering catalog music than newer artists. As a result, I didn’t get a chance to revise the Favorite Edition 2013 list after I discovered a number of critical favorites.

  1. Jason Isbell, Southeastern
  2. Jarell Perry, Simple Things
  3. Patty Griffin, Silver Bell
  4. Sam Amidon, Bright Sunny South
  5. James Blake, Overgrown
  6. Sigur Rós, Kveikur
  7. Hem, Departure and Farewell
  8. Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe
  9. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
  10. LEO Imai, Made from Nothing

Other favorites from the year:

  • Rhye, Woman
  • Kanye West, Yeezus
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Magnetized
  • TV Mania, Bored with the Internet and Prozac?
  • Ty Herndon, Lies I Told Myself
  • Res, Refried Mac
  • Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady

Jason Isbell had caught my eye with the stark but stunning cover of Southeastern, but I didn’t follow up on that fascination till well into 2014. Nor did I make the connection between Blood Orange and Solange till after 2013 had passed.

Isbell and Blood Orange bumped Johnny Hates Jazz and TV Mania, while Rhye and Kanye West nearly crack the Favorite 10.

I dug The College Dropout, but West can teach Billy Corgan lessons in being insufferable. Yeezus, though, sounded like an indie rock record, so I could overlook the man and focus on the art. I wouldn’t cut him that slack nowadays.

Ty Herndon came out of the closet in 2014, and he was cute enough for me to take a listen to his greatest hits collection, This Is Ty Herndon. I ended up liking it more than I expected, mostly because I really can’t stand country radio.

Lies I Told Myself shows up on this list because it sounds way more confident than anything on This Is Ty Herndon.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2015

[Gaytheist / Rabbits - Gay*Bits]

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.

2015 started strong with the return of Sleater-Kinney, and it stayed strong all the way through the release of the Hamilton cast recording. That said, the list goes through quite a number of changes, consolidating some stragglers and bouncing a few titles off.

  1. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical
  2. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  3. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
  4. Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
  5. Torche, Restarter
  6. Björk, Vulnicura
  7. Deebs and Jarell Perry, Shift
  8. Steve Grand, All-American Boy
  9. Janet Jackson, Unbreakable
  10. Gaytheist/Rabbits, Gay*Bits

Other favorites from the year:

  • Software Giant, We Are Overcome
  • Miguel, Wildheart
  • Madonna, Rebel Heart
  • Duran Duran, Paper Gods
  • Enya, Dark Sky Island
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness
  • Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Wonder Future
  • Andrew Norman, Play
  • Troye Sivan, Blue Neighborhood

The Favorite 10 sees one title switched out — Gaytheist and Rabbit’s split EP for Miguel’s Wildheart. Father John Misty, Takaakira Goto, Seattle Symphony and Kronos Quartet make way for Andrew Norman, Troye Sivan and Software Giant.

Eight years into 2010s, 2015 is so far turning out to be my favorite year for the decade. The hierarchy of the list gives a false sense of preference — some of the albums outside of the Favorite 10 got as much play time as those at the top of the list.

Duran Duran and Enya could have occupied spots in the Favorite 10 if the field weren’t so crowded.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2017

[Sampha - Process]

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.

  1. Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome
  2. Royal Wood, Ghost Light
  3. RADWIMPS, Your name.
  4. Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All
  5. Sam Amidon, The Following Mountain
  6. Kronos Quartet, Folk Songs
  7. Gaytheist, Let’s Jam Again Soon
  8. Eluvium, Shuffle Drone
  9. Sampha, Process
  10. 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.

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Purchase log, 2018-10-23

[Jason Isbell and 400 Unit - Live from the Ryman]

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
  • Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Live from the Ryman

Catalog

CD
  • Benjamin Britten, String Quartets 2 & 3 / Sinfonietta (Amadeus Quartet, Vienna Octet)
  • Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • Hot Hot Heat, Make Up the Breakdown
  • John Zorn, The String Quartets
  • Kahimi Karie, The Best of Trattoria Years Plus VCD
  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  • Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels, Live 1973
  • Simon and Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence
  • Talking Heads, Little Creatures
  • Various Artists, Trojan Reggae
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphonies Nos. 40 and 41 (John Eliot Gardiner; English Baroque Soloists)
Vinyl
  • Boris, Pink
  • Icicle Works, Icicle Works
  • Frida, Something’s Going On
  • Painkiller, Guts of a Virgin
  • Robert Palmer, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Kylie Minogue, Fever

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Looking ahead, August-November 2018

[Perfume - Future Pop]

A few titles didn’t get included in the last round-up of new releases, and the release schedule for late autumn hasn’t quite yet coalesced. So this list is thinner than I prefer.

Perfume, Future Pop, Aug. 15

We probably reached peak Perfume two albums ago, if the cool reception to COSMIC EXPLORER is any indication. Imaginative videos can’t quite make up for the weakness of the last few singles, but will either stop me from placing a pre-order? Unlikely.

Blood Orange, Negro Swan, Aug. 24

How did I miss news about a new album by Dev Hynes?

[Checks date of Instagram post.]

Oh, he announced it when my mom was in town and caught the flu, about a week before I would become briefly unemployed. Has it really been two years since the release of Freetown Sound?

Mandy Barnett, Strange Conversation, Sept. 21

I’ve Got a Right to Cry is a classic album that has been relegated to bargain bins and thrift store shelves. The Owen Bradley-produced album probably did too good of a job calling up the ghost of Patsy Cline, whom Barnett has portrayed on stage.

Barnett recently did a duet with Kenny Chesney, which … whatever. But I would still check out this album because I’ve Got a Right to Cry is an album that just doesn’t wear out, even after nearly two decades.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Live from the Nyman, Oct. 19

It’s easy to marvel at how effortlessly it seems Jason Isbell spins his tales, but when he shreds on stage, it’s a sight to behold.

Fastball, All the Pain Money Can Buy (Deluxe Edition), Nov. 9

Oh, hey, it looks like part of my wish is coming true — All the Pain Money Can Buy is headed for a vinyl release, albeit saddled with bonus material for its 20th anniversary, which I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting anyway.

Vinyl

Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer, Sept. 28

Yes, please.

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Purchase log, 2018-04-24

[Duran Duran - Budokan]

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.

It’s the Record Store Day 2018 entry!

New Releases

Vinyl
  • Brian Eno with Kevin Shields, The Weight of History / Only Once Away My Son
  • Cypress Hill, Black Sunday Remixes
  • David Bowie, Let’s Dance Demo
  • Duran Duran, Budokan
  • Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Live at Twist & Shout 11.16.07
  • John Luther Adams, Canticles of the Sky (Oliver Coates)
  • Living Colour, “Live at CBGB’s” Tuesday 12/19/89
  • Rage Against the Machine, Democratic National Convention 2000
  • Sufjan Stevens, Mystery of Love
  • The Streets, Remixes + B-Sides
  • Wilco, Live at the Troubador L.A. 1996

Catalog

CD
  • Culture Club, Colour By Numbers
  • Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  • Frank Zappa, Ship Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
  • Heart, Heart
  • Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? (Remastered)
  • The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses

Reissues

 Vinyl
  • Florian Fricke, Florian Fricke Spielt Mozart
  • Prince, 1999 (1983 single disc version)
  • Uncle Tupelo, No Depression — Demos

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Favorite Edition 2017 Year Final

[Living Colour - Shade]

2017 was a rather active year in music, but when it came to new releases, I opted to leave a lot of stuff on the shelf. A decade ago, new albums by Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear would have been breathlessly awaited. I don’t get the sense either had much staying power beyond their release dates.

As a result, I ended up purchasing a total of 34 new titles, approximately 7 percent of my total buying activity. The remaining purchases? Catalog and reissues. This list, in other words, comes from a small pool of albums.

  1. Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome
  2. Royal Wood, Ghost Light
  3. RADWIMPS, Your name.
  4. Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All
  5. Sam Amidon, The Following Mountain
  6. Kronos Quartet, Folk Songs
  7. Gaytheist, Let’s Jam Again Soon
  8. Living Colour, Shade
  9. Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
  10. Renée Fleming, Distant Light

Sam Smith and Living Colour are the big changes from the mid-year listThe Thrill of It All isn’t as weird as I hoped it could be, but it’s a more appealing album than Smith’s debut.

Shade is the perfect soundtrack for the frustration of living under the current administration. Pre-release press mention the blues as a springboard for the album, but really, Living Colour transform the blues in ways that are nigh unrecognizable.

Other favorites from the year:

  • Eluvium, Shuffle Drone: I hate both the repeat and shuffle buttons on my playback mechanisms. That said, Matthew Cooper deserves mad props for creating an album that puts both buttons to excellent use.
  • Sampha, Process: I admit I didn’t listen to this album till a few weeks ago, once it started showing up on year-end favorite lists.
  • David Rawlings, Poor David’s Almanack: My long-simmering discovery of Gillian Welch will have to wait for another entry, but it’s the reason David Rawlings shows up here.
  • Shiina Ringo, Gyakuyunyuu ~Kuukoukyoku~: Part of me misses the rocking Ringo-chan of the early 2000s, but then hearing these songs side-by-side with the artists who recorded them first deepens my appreciation for her.
  • Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister, Planetarium: It helps to have heard this album with a laser light show.
  • The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts: Jonny Pierce takes over the show.
  • Cocco, Cocco 20 Shuunen Kinen Special Live at Nippon Budokan ~Ichi no Kan x Ni no Kan~: The live performances don’t stray too far from what’s heard in the studio, but Cocco’s voice doesn’t seem to have aged a bit.
  • Duran Duran, Thanksgiving Live at Pleasure Island: If you’re a fan of the seriously-underrated Medazzaland, this live album is a must-have.

 

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