Archives

Purchase log, 2021-06-08

[The Neptunes - The Neptunes Present ... Clones]

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
  • Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood and Jason Isbell, Live at the Shoals Theatre

Catalog

CD
  • Aaliyah, One in a Million
  • Dilated Peoples, The Platform
  • Giacomo Puccini, Madama Butterfly
  • Martha Argerich, Chopin: The Legendary 1965 Recordings
  • Mstislav Rostropovich, Rostropovich: The Russian Years – Shostakovich Cello Concertos
  • Paul Moravec, Tempest Fantasy / Mood Swings / B.A.S.S. Variations / Scherzo (Trio Solisti)
  • Paul Moravec, The Time Gallery / Protean Fantasy / Ariel Fantasy (eighth blackbird)
  • Steven Mackey, Heavy Light (Mosaic)
  • The Neptunes, The Neptunes Present … Clones
  • The Velvet Underground, White Light / White Heat

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Favorite Edition 2020 Year Final

[Sam Sparro - Boombox Eternal]

Twenty years ago, I was on the receiving end of an economic slump. I’ve gone through two more slumps since then, and I’ve so far dodge the bullet in both cases.

It doesn’t mean I don’t feel skittish.

All that to say that my disposable income had not diminished this past year, despite the economic devastation SARS-CoV2 has wrought, and I’m thankful I can even compile a list.

  1. Sam Sparro, Boombox Eternal: I’m not sure why I feel nostalgic for a style of music I actually disliked when I was younger, but Sparro nailed it.
  2. My Very Own Familiar, Dear Listener: Lawnchairs for the Apocalypse: I may have a bit of a bias since a friend of mine is in this band.
  3. Timo Andres / Jeremy Denk / Brad Mehldau / Randy Newman, I Still Play: A fitting tribute to Nonesuch emeritus executive Bob Hurwitz, for whom the pieces on this album were commissioned.
  4. … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, X: The Godless Void and Other Stories: No signs of mellowing out even after 25 years.
  5. Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately: I thought it was going to be hard to top No Shape.
  6. Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions: Isbell has been on such a sustained winning streak that it seemed at some point he needed to stumble. He hasn’t.
  7. Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters: I’m not even a Fiona Apple fan, and I like this album.
  8. Kylie Minogue, DISCO: My first Kylie purchase since Aphrodite. I wasn’t on board for the last two albums.
  9. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, The Beethoven Connection: I like this idea of exploring Beethoven-adjacent composers to puzzle out how they influenced Beethoven himself.
  10. Mr. Bungle, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo: Straight up hardcore.

Other favorites of the year:

  • Brooklyn Rider, Healing Modes
  • The Streets, None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive
  • Mandy Barnett, A Nashville Songbook
  • Jónsi, Shiver

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Purchase log, 2020-09-08

[Roberta Flack - First Take]

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
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Wide Awake
Files
  • Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Live at the Paramount Theatre – Seattle, WA – 9/21/17

Catalog

CD
  • Fairport Convention, Liege & Lief
  • Flake Music, When You Land Here, It’s Time to Leave
  • Johann Sebastian Bach, The Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites (Yo-Yo Ma)

Reissues

Box set
  • Roberta Flack, First Take (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

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Favorite Edition 2020 Year Half

[Sam Sparro - Boombox Eternal]

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.

New releases

  • 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
  • The Chicks, Gaslighter

Catalog

  • Charlie Puth, Voicenotes
  • Robyn, Body Talk
  • Nakamori Akina, AKINA BOX 1982-1989
  • Various Artists, Studio One Rockers
  • The Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette
  • Les Rythmes Digitales, Darkdancer

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Purchase log picks, May 2020

[Various Artists - I Still Play]

My Very Own Familiar, Dear Listener: Lawnchairs for the Apocalypse

A friend of mine posted he was releasing an album recorded during the lockdown in Washington that started in March. This is that album, and it’s available only on YouTube. Also, it’s damn good.

Robyn, Body Talk

I’m disappointed in myself for not grabbing a copy of this album on vinyl on Record Store Day 2019.

Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

I’m slowly coming around to Perfume Genius. I don’t know if I’ll explore the early albums, but these last two have appealed to me greatly.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions

I like this album more than The Nashville Sound, but I don’t like it as much as Here We Rest or Something More Than Free. But finding a bad Jason Isbell album is like trying to find a bad Emmylou Harris album.

Timo Andres / Jeremy Denk / Brad Mehldau / Randy Newman, I Still Play

I’m going to miss Bob Hurwitz’s leadership of Nonesuch Records. The label seems to be moving in a more Americana direction since his retirement, and while the partnership with New Amsterdam Records is tailor made, I can’t help but feel Nonesuch is outsourcing its A&R for modern classical music.

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Purchase log, 2020-05-26

[Perfume Genius - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately]

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, Reunions
  • Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
  • Timo Andres / Jeremy Denk / Brad Mehldau / Randy Newman, I Still Play

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Everything But the Girl, Temperamental

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Looking ahead, March-May 2020

[Tokyo Jihen - News]

I usually wait until concrete release dates are announced before listing an album in these previews, but in the last few days, a number of artists have made announcements worth noting.

Tokyo Jihen, News, April 8

I didn’t think I would miss Tokyo Jihen, but I realized I did when their reunion was announced.

Gaytheist, How Long Have I Been on Fire, April 10

I like Gaytheist, but I don’t follow them as closely as I do other bands. So it’s an automated announcement from Bandcamp that informed me of this release.

Roberta Flack, First Take (Deluxe Edition), April 10

Roberta Flack’s debut album turns 50. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was No. 1 on the week I was born.

Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow the Rules, April 24

When was the last time Rufus Wainwright did a rock album? Right around the time I moved to Seattle in 2012.

Sam Smith, To Die For, May 1

I enjoyed The Thrill of It All more than In the Lonely Hour, so I’m hoping this next album continues that trajectory.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions, May 15

The Nashville Sound was good, but it didn’t monopolize my attention the way Southeastern or Something More than Free did. So my anticipation for this album is a bit on the cool side.

Midnight Oil, The Markarrata Project, Summer 2020
Midnight Oil, TBD, Late 2020

I think I’m more excited over another tour than I am about the new album and EP. At the same time, things are so fucked up that Midnight Oil is the right band for these times.

Janet Jackson, Black Diamond, TBD

Aside from the title, details are scant about the next Janet album, but she’s already announced a tour.

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Favorite Edition Decade 2010-2019

[Tokyo Jihen - Sports]

The new decade doesn’t start till the end of of 2020, if you use the modified Julian calendar upon which scientists and the Naval Observatory rely. Pop culture writers are not scientists. Would you consider U2’s debut album a product of the ‘70s? Boy was released in 1980, and it would seem odd to lump it in the decade that gave us disco.

So even though science tells us the albums of 2020 should be counted in this review of the decade, we’ll save them for next decade. Besides, we didn’t give 2010 that accommodation last decade.

  1. Tokyo Jihen, Sports: This album was a true band effort with songwriting duties spread among members rather than falling entirely on Shiina Ringo’s shoulders. But you couldn’t tell. Tokyo Jihen finally felt like an independent unit here and not just a backing band.
  2. Jason Isbell, Southeastern: The stark cover with Isbell gazing directly at the camera only hints at the vulnerability contained within the album’s 12 tracks.
  3. Jarell Perry, Simple Things: I knew about neo-soul, but until I ran across Solange, Frank Ocean and Jarell Perry, I didn’t know the genre had formed its own underground. Sometimes, Perry is a beat or two away from falling into the orbit of Björk. Oddly enough, he reminds me a lot of Utada Hikaru.
  4. Sturgill Simpson, Sound and Fury: Simpson owned this decade. He started out sounding like a traditionalist, but by decade’s end, he created a body of work incomparable even to itself. All of his albums should be on this list, but I’m choosing his most confounding.
  5. Solange, A Seat at the Table: You may have Beyoncé.
  6. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!: I wish I could sing along with this album, but these lyrics … hot damn!
  7. John Luther Adams, Become Ocean (Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot): When your award-winning commission inspires Taylor Swift to donate to your organization …
  8. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly: The Pulitzer Prize should have gone to this album.
  9. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: The Phantom of the Opera was the last time I was riveted to a cast recording.
  10. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: I’ve always felt Monáe had a Muzai Moratorium or Shouso Strip inside her. This album comes closest.
  11. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love: It’s like the decade preceding this album’s release had melted away.
  12. Eponymous 4, Travis: Yeah, I’m putting my own damn album on this list. I can listen to it without cringing or second guessing it. It almost feels like someone better than myself had made it.
  13. Sam Smith, The Thrill of It All: Similar to Monáe, I feel Sam Smith has an I Am a Bird Now or a Homogenic in them, waiting to bust out. This album is a step in that direction.
  14. D’angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah: I got pregnant listening to this album, and I’m not even a woman.
  15. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE: Become Ocean.

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