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Looking ahead: July-August 2019

[Re-Flex - The Politics of Dancing]

Janet Jackson, Control: The Remixes, July 26

I would not have been interested in remixes when Control came out, but I bet I’ve heard them without realizing I have.

Re-Flex, Politics of Dancing (Deluxe Edition), July 26

The title track alone is probably worth the price of the entire album. It’s a collection of reliably-80s synth pop, heavy on the beats and big on melody. I found this album on CD at the thrift store, and I’m actually heartened to see it reissued.

Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold, Aug. 16

I don’t even listen to St. Vincent, and I was excited to hear she was producing the new Sleater-Kinney album. Is that weird?

Ty Herndon, Got It Covered, Aug. 23

Herndon had already teased this album, posting short videos on Instagram of the recording process. He’s already changed the gender references on his big hit, “What Mattered Most.” I’m hoping he doesn’t stop there.

Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley: Sun Rings, Aug. 30

It’s a Terry Riley anniversary year! So of course Kronos commemorates it with a release of a piece they’ve performed in concert for at least a decade.

BBMak, Powerstation, late August

OK, guys, you’ve announced a title and a track list. What about an actual release date?? Part of me wished this album was a track-by-track cover of The Power Station, i.e. the Duran Duran site project with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson of Chic.

Vinyl

Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation, July 26
Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope, July 26

I already have an original pressing of Rhythm Nation, but the length of the album doesn’t allow it to fit well on a single disc. So I would welcome a double LP with improved sound.

The Velvet Rope is Janet’s most underrated album and deserves more attention.

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Purchase log, 2019-05-21

[Soundtrack - Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu Ka?]

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.

I traveled to Austin for the record convention this past weekend. I didn’t find much of what I wanted, but I did find a lot of what I didn’t know I wanted. This list includes purchases at Waterloo Records and End of an Ear.

New releases

CD
  • Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!
  • Kronos Quartet with Masha and Marjan Vadat, Placeless

Catalog

CD
  • a-ha, Hunting High and Low
  • Bill Frisell, Before We Were Born
  • Dwight Yoakam, Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • Joy Division, Closer
  • Robert Palmer, Pride
  • Robert Palmer, Some People Can Do What They Like
  • Shovels & Rope, Swimmin’ Time
  • Tomita, The Planets
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Symphonies / Concertos / Vocal and Choral Works
Vinyl
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet, Crazy People Music
  • Everything But the Girl, Everything But the Girl
  • Franz Josef Haydn, Streichquartette, op. 20, 2 & 4 (Quarteto Esterhazy)
  • Giovanni Palestrina, Pope Marcellus Mass / Stabat Mater / Three Motets (Pro Cantione Antiqua, Bruno Turner)
  • Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson
  • Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
  • Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar
  • Megadeth, So Far … So Good … So What!
  • Olivier Messiaen, La Nativité du Seigneur (Jennifer Bate)
  • Olivier Messiaen / Toru Takemitsu, Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony / Takemitsu: November Steps (Toronto Symphony, Seiji Ozawa)
  • Seawind, Seawind
  • The Old 97s, Too Far to Care
  • Soundtrack, Macross: Ai Oboete Imasu Ka?
  • Soundtrack, The Iron Giant
  • Various Artists, Brown Bags to Stardom
  • Various Artists, Boulez, Messiaen & Koechlin
  • Various Artists, Music by Busoni, Franz Schmidt and Lutoslawski

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Looking ahead: April-May 2019

[NUMBER GIRL - OMOIDE IN MY HEAD 1 ~BEST & B-SIDES~

I didn’t have a chance to update the March-April 2019 preview when these releases were announced.

Kronos Quartet with Mahsa and Marjan Vadat, Placeless, March 22

This album is already available on streaming services, which means I’ve had a chance to listen to it. Unfortunately for Kronos and the Vadats, the new Solange album has also monopolized my attention.

Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Beth Gibbons, Krzysztov Penderecki, Polish National Radio Symphony), March 29

I don’t know about this one. Portished has never been a band I could internalize, and while I like Górecki’s third symphony, its reputation has become a bit outsize. I’m wondering how Penderecki got roped into it.

Emerson String Quartet and Evgeny Kissin, The New York Concert, April 12

The works on this program are tamer than what I normally pursue, but I like both the Emerson and Kissin.

Björk, Vespertine: A Pop Album as an Opera (Nationaltheater Mannheim), April 12

I’m willing to give this one a chance, if only because Vespertine is one of the few Björk albums I no longer own. I couldn’t get into it when it came out, so I welcome a chance to hear it in another context.

Jack Ingram, Ridin’ High … Again, April 26

I’ve been wondering what’s up with Jack Ingram. I stopped following him when he decided to make friends with country radio, but he left that behind at the end of his Big Machine contract. His 2016 album, Midnight Motel, is breezy and off-the-cuff, so I’m curious to hear what’s next.

NUMBER GIRL, OMOIDE IN MY HEAD 1 ~BEST & B-SIDES~, May 1

More time has passed since NUMBER GIRL’s break-up than the band was ever together, and a large portion of the band’s discography is out of print. So on the heels of their reunion tour, this collection of singles and b-sides gets reissued for a generation who missed out the first time.

Mikami Chisako, re:life / Utopia, May 22

Wow, she really is back.

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Favorite Edition 2018 Year Final

[Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!]

Last year, new releases made up 7 percent of my music purchases. This year, that number ticks up to … 8 percent. For a while there, I didn’t know if I would find enough titles to make a Favorite 10, but I did.

  1. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!: When you visit multiple record stores and ask what is playing, you probably ought to buy that album if the answer is the same at each store.
  2. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: I also liked the Emotion Picture that accompanied the release of this album.
  3. Christine and the Queens, Chris: Those dance moves!
  4. Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo: I didn’t realize the cover of “Sid to Hakuchuumu” was by MIKA, the singer “discovered” by Perez Hilton. MIKA’s circumspection about his sexuality drew a lot of attention and some controversy. I checked out his music as a result of the brouhaha and found little that was remarkable. That said, he nails the French interpretation of this very Ringo track.
  5. Steve Grand, Not the End of Me: I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I hear a bit of Matt Alber’s swoon on some of the quieter moments on this album.
  6. Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson, Landfall: Take all the swagger and posturing out of hip-hop, and it would probably sound a lot like Laurie Anderson.
  7. Seattle Symphony with Roomful of Teeth, Berio: Sinfonia: This piece was awesome to hear live.
  8. Nico Muhly & Thomas Bartlett, Peter Pears: Ceremonial Balinese Music: Oddly enough, I found a recording of Colin McPhee performing his gamelan transcriptions with Benjamin Britten, and I kind of wish Muhly and Bartlett had also done the unpublished scores.
  9. Yore, EP1: Recent press seems to obscure the fact Yore released music under his own name, so we’ll stick with that preference and just mention this EP finds him moving in a direction more akin to Cocteau Twins or even Utada Hikaru.
  10. Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi:Her sound has gotten darker since her comeback.

Other favorites from the year:

  • John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once
  • Leo Imai, VLP
  • Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!
  • Craig Armstrong, Sun on You
  • Tracey Thorn, Record
  • Renee Fleming, Broadway
  • Igor Stravisnky, Chant Funebre / Le Sacre du Printemps
  • Eponymous 4, Travis

OK, I’m being a bit cheeky including my own album, Travis, on this list. I finished recording it in 2016, so I’d been sitting on it for more than a year. In all that time, I’ve not gotten sick of hearing it day in and day out, and when I compare it with other albums I’ve recorded, it sounds like a proper, professional work.

So yeah, I think my album is one of the best to be released in 2018. You can check it out at the Eponymous 4 Bandcamp store.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1986

[Nakamori Akina - Fushigi]

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.

In 2008, my collection tapered off with releases before 1987. I went so far as to call 1986 an uninteresting year. I’ve since had time to explore the year in greater depth.

  1. The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence
  2. Janet Jackson, Control
  3. Soundtrack, Megazone 23 Song Collection
  4. Paul Simon, Graceland
  5. XTC, Skylarking
  6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
  7. Prince & the Revolution, Parade
  8. Nakamori Akina, Fushigi
  9. Duran Duran, Notorious
  10. Club Nouveau, Life, Love and Pain

Other favorites from the year:

  • Anita Baker, Rapture
  • Bananarama, True Confessions
  • Fishbone, In Your Face
  • Run DMC, Raising Hell
  • Peter Gabriel, So
  • John Adams, Harmonielehre
  • Enya, Enya
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.
  • R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant
  • Pet Shop Boys, Please
  • Kronos Quartet, Music of Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix
  • The Human League, Crash

If you told Younger Me that Older Me would like So and Raising Hell, Younger Me would wretch. At the time, Run DMC and Peter Gabriel were so ubiquitous, I felt I would never need to hear “Walk This Way” or “Sledgehamer” for the rest of my life.

One advantage of growing older is no longer caring about looking at all fashionable.

Younger Me would have been puzzled by the inclusion of Dwight Yoakam on the extended list, to which Older Me would have to tell Younger Me to wait 9 years.

Younger Me: Oh, I was wondering whether I should get that Human League album. Is it really that good?
Older Me: Yeah, but I don’t think you’d quite appreciate it at your station in life. Wait a few years.
Younger Me: Really? How many?
Older Me: 30.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1987

[Sonic Youth - Sister]

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 go on and on about how much I love 1987 that I should just shut up and let the list speak for itself. Unsurprisingly, the Favorite 10 hasn’t changed, saved one correction.

  1. U2, The Joshua Tree
  2. Sting, … Nothing Like the Sun
  3. 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe
  4. Sinéad O’Connor, The Lion and the Cobra
  5. Bulgarian State TV & Radio Women’s Choir, Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares
  6. John Adams, The Chairman Dances
  7. Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera
  8. Wendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa
  9. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
  10. R.E.M., Document

Other favorites from the year:

  • Kronos Quartet, White Man Sleeps
  • Depeche Mode, Music for the Masses
  • Dolly Parton / Linda Ronstadt / Emmylou Harris, Trio
  • The Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense!
  • Swing Out Sister, It’s Better to Travel
  • Hiroshima, Go
  • The Smiths, Strangeways, Here We Come
  • Eurythmics, Savage
  • INXS, Kick
  • Sonic Youth, Sister
  • The Dukes of the Stratosphear, Psonic Psunspot
  • Dead Can Dance, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
  • Icehouse, Man of Colours
  • In Tua Nua, Vaudeville
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock

I originally listed the cast recording of Into the Woods in the Favorite 10, but I discovered it was actually released in 1988.

The extended list is shorter than the one for 1988, but I’ve actually added fewer titles from 1987 since the original list was compiled. I think I also like these albums more intensely because I had discovered them at the time, and they’ve made a lasting impression.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1988

[The Waterboys - Fisherman's Blues]

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 had discovered so much music in 1987 that at the time, I thought 1988 was a dud by comparison. Over the years, I’ve discovered that is not the case. The Favorite 10 doesn’t change from the original list, but look at that expanded list.

  1. In Tua Nua, The Long Acre
  2. Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust
  3. Kronos Quartet, Winter Was Hard
  4. The Sugarcubes, Life’s Too Good
  5. Enya, Watermark
  6. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
  7. Living Colour, Vivid
  8. Duran Duran, Big Thing
  9. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  10. The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba

Other favorites from the year:

  • Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
  • John Adams, Nixon in China
  • Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Savvy Show Stoppers
  • Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
  • Sarah McLachlan, Touch
  • Erasure, The Innocents
  • Sade, Stronger Than Pride
  • The Pogues, If I Should Fall from Grace with God
  • The Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues
  • The Godfathers, Birth, School, Work, Death
  • Camouflage, Voices & Images
  • Ambitious Lovers, Greed
  • Iron Path, Iron Path
  • Toni Childs, Union
  • R.E.M., Green
  • Throwing Muses, House Tornado
  • Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  • N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
  • Information Society, Information Society
  • Ofra Haza, Shaday
  • The Smiths, Rank
  • Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams

I guess I really limited the expanded list 10 years ago so I wouldn’t have to do so much writing. The Pogues, the Waterboys, the Godfathers, Ambitious Lovers, Ofra Haza, the Smiths and Lucinda Williams would not have appeared on that list — I’ve discovered those albums only in the last 6 years.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1990

[Uncle Tupelo - No Depression]

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.

1990 has always felt more like 1989 v.2.0 than 1990 v.1.0. It was clearly the start of a pivot that wouldn’t really end till 1992, but the ’80s held its grip on that first year of the decade (if you’re using a 0-based system.)

  1. Kronos Quartet, Black Angels
  2. Robin Holcomb, Robin Holcomb
  3. John Zorn / Naked City, Naked City
  4. Midnight Oil, Blue Sky Mining
  5. Sonic Youth, Goo
  6. The Waitresses, Best of the Waitresses
  7. Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Akira Original Soundtrack
  8. Madonna, I’m Breathless
  9. The Sundays, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
  10. Living Colour, Time’s Up

Other favorites from the year:

  • Duran Duran, Liberty
  • Depeche Mode, Violator
  • Deee-Lite, World Clique
  • Enigma, MCMXC a.D.
  • Meredith Monk, Book of Days
  • Joan Tower, Silver Ladders / Island Prelude / Music for Cello and Orchestra / Sequoia
  • Uncle Tupelo, No Depression
  • Jane’s Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual
  • Fugazi, Repeater
  • Information Society, Hack
  • Björk, Gling-Gló
  • Wendy and Lisa, Eroica
  • Lisa Stansfield, Affection
  • Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

1990-me would have protested the inclusion of Uncle Tupelo on this list. 1995-me would have had to slap some sense into him.

1990-me would have also questioned the addition of Lisa Stansfield, and 2008-me would have had to confront him about how he secretly loved “All Around the World.”

1990-me would have also wondered why 2008-me didn’t include Jane’s Addiction the first time around. 2008-me would have shrugged.

I would like to think 2008-me relished introducing 1990-me to Fugazi. 1990-me would not have been prepared for them, however.

All of us are still wondering how I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got manages to stay on the list.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1991

[Slint - Spiderland]

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’m not sure other music writers would agree that 1998 is an important year in music for the ’90s. 1991 saw Guns N’ Roses cap the era of hair metal and Nirvana usher the unfortunately-named alternative rock. But it didn’t have Neutral Milk Hotel.

  1. Smashing Pumpkins, Gish
  2. Nirvana, Nevermind
  3. R.E.M., Out of Time
  4. U2, Achtung Baby
  5. Throwing Muses, The Real Ramona
  6. Soundtrack, Bubblegum Crisis Vocal Collection, Vol. 1
  7. Guns N’ Roses, Use Your Illusion II
  8. Enya, Shepherd Moons
  9. Lou Harrison, Music of Lou Harrison
  10. Elliott Carter, Music of Elliott Carter

Other favorites from the year:

  • Pearl Jam, Ten
  • Igor Stravinsky, Le Sacre du Printemps/Symphony in Three Movements (Zubin Mehta, New York Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • Mazzy Star, She Hangs Brightly
  • Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger
  • Bill Frisell, Where in the World?
  • Fishbone, The Reality of My Surroundings
  • Metallica, Metallica
  • Kronos Quartet, Lutoslawski: String Quartet
  • Black Sheep, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  • Hamada Mari, Tomorrow
  • Electronic, Electronic
  • Slint, Spiderland
  • My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  • Painkiller, Guts of a Virgin
  • Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle

Slint and My Bloody Valentine are additions 2004-me would have made. 1991-me would have side-eyed 2004-me.

And he would have scoffed at 2018-me for including Black Sheep, after emitting a gasp at seeing Fishbone on the list at all.

He would have begrudgingly nodded at the additions of Metallica and Hamada Mari, and he would have been curious about Electronic. And he would have gone out and found Painkiller the first chance he got.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1992

[Helmet - Meantime]

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.

We’ve actually revisited 1992 earlier in the year, and this list hasn’t changed, although I did tack on L7 and Helmet in the extended list.

  1. Wayne Horvitz / The President, Miracle Mile
  2. Máire Brennan, Máire
  3. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Dawn Upshaw, David Zinman, London Sinfonietta)
  4. k.d. lang, Ingenue
  5. Sade, Love Deluxe
  6. En Vogue, Funky Divas
  7. Prince and the New Power Generation, 0(+> (Love Symbol Album)
  8. Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman
  9. Kronos Quartet, Pieces of Africa
  10. Robin Holcomb, Rockabye

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Sugarcubes, Stick Around for Joy
  • Faith No More, Angel Dust
  • Sonic Youth, Dirty
  • Helmet, Meantime
  • L7, Bricks Are Heavy

Helmet got caught up in the grunge craze of the early ’90s, even though they were clearly not grunge. Wikipedia says Helmet’s staccato riffage would influence Mastodon, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Korn and Linkin Park.

I’ll admit I picked up Meantime because of the grunge-adjacent marketing hype. I didn’t hold onto it, but like Shudder to Think’s Pony Express Record, I couldn’t shake it. So I brought it back into my collection when it was reissued on vinyl earlier in the year.

Bricks Are Heavy also suffered a bit of guilt by association. Butch Vig had been doing miraculous work with Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Surely, L7 would follow in that vein. I didn’t warm up to it. I’m not sure how 25 years turned around my perception of the album, but it did.

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