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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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Purchase log, 2019-10-22

[Ali Wong - Baby Cobra]

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.

Catalog

CD
  • Ali Wong, Baby Cobra
  • Betty Davis, Betty Davis
  • Boston, Boston (Remastered)
  • Cutting Crew, Broadcast
  • Drake, Views
  • Electric Light Orchestra, ELO’s Greatest Hits
  • Heartless Bastards, The Mountain
  • Olivia Newton-John, Physical
  • Olomana, Like a Seabird in the Wind
  • Radiohead, Amnesiac
  • Rowlf the Dog, Ol’ Brown Ears Is Back
  • Sunny Day Real Estate, Diary
  • The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound
  • The Sunday Manoa, Best of the Sunday Manoa, Vol. 1
Vinyl
  • The Dead Milkmen, Metaphysical Graffiti

Reissues

CD
  • Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Jason Isbell and 400 Unit
Vinyl
  • Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Ecophony Gaia

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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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