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 first half of the 2004 list has remained unchanged. The last half has undergone extensive revision.
Arcade Fire, Funeral
Eluvium, An Accidental Memory in Case of Death
Kicell, Mado Ni Chikyuu
Dylan Rice, Wandering Eyes
The Killers, Hot Fuss
Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose
The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come for Free
Mindy Smith, One Moment More
STRAIGHTENER, LOST WORLD’S ANTHOLOGY
Other favorites from the year:
Pinback, Summer in Abaddon
Kanye West, The College Dropout
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Solfa
Bonnie Pink, Even So
Fuji Fabric, Fuji Fabric
Sacha Sacket, Shadowed
The Butchies, Make Yr Life
Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters
ZAZEN BOYS, ZAZEN BOYS II
A lot of these revisions are retrospective. I listened to SUPERCAR’s ANSWER when it was reissued on vinyl, and I didn’t find the album as engaging as I originally thought. I’ve come to like Hot Fuss more as time has passed, and I don’t feel as much attachment to Van Lear Rose.
My growing appreciation for hip-hop means Madvillain and The Streets knock Quruli’s Antenna off the list entirely.
I’m still a bit skeptical about keeping Mindy Smith in the Favorite 10, or bumping STRAIGHTENER into the upper echelon. I picked up Pinback’s Summer in Abaddon from Goodwill out of curiosity, and I have a sense that in short time, it will nudge Smith or STRAIGHTENER down to the extended list.
As we go further back to the start of the Aughts, the extended list grows longer. A lot of great music came out at the start of the century. If the Internet hadn’t splintered the mass market, it might have been a galvanizing golden age of popular music.
2017 marked the largest year-over-year increase in my CD collection, and the biggest recipient of that largesse is the Lifelong Thrift Shop.
I crunched the numbers, and the store provided 168 of the 458 items bought in 2017. At an average of $0.73 per CD and $1.46 per record, I contributed more than $130 to Lifelong coffers. I wouldn’t have made a charitable payroll deduction that large.
The Friends of the Seattle Public Library Book Sale is another source for discount music, and I parted with $75 of my cash to them.
Essentially, weekly visits to the thrift shop has crowded out my interest in new releases. That, and being old.
Art of Noise, In Visible Silence: This album started my fascination with the Art of Noise and, more importantly, introduced me to the term musique concrète. It was the weirdest album I encountered in my tween years, and it primed me to discover Kronos Quartet.
Wendy and Lisa, Eroica: A woefully underrated album.
k.d. lang, Ingenue: The MTV Unplugged bonus material didn’t seem like much of an enhancement on paper till you actually listen to it
The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead: The demos don’t stray too far from what eventually appeared on record, but it’s nice to hear how these tracks evolved.
Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain: I have to admit I was more enamored of the Eroica reissue, despite the bonus material in this special edition.
Deee-Lite, World Clique: I’m usually not a fan of remixes, but the bonus disc on this special edition actually worked.
Moondog, Moondog: I had been curious about Moondog for a long time, and the Record Store Day reissue of his self-titled Columbia debut was a good excuse to fill in a gap finally.
Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs: Yes, you can find this album at Lifelong for $1, but I still like it. And it’s on vinyl to boot!
Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman: OK, I ended up with two copies of this album on vinyl because I hadn’t anticipated I could get the Ryman special edition when I visited Nashville in August 2017.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Symphonic Suite AKIRA: The sequencing of the album had to change to accommodate the limitation of vinyl, but that doesn’t work against it.
Nakamori Akina, Fushigi: I have a number of middling Nakamori Akina albums,
so out of curiosity, I did a search for what’s considered her best work. I wasn’t expecting an album that actually gets nods by the American indie music press. It puts to rest who I like better in the Akina vs. Seiko debate.
The Streets, Original Pirate Material: I so dug “Geezers Need Excitement”, I used it as part of an assignment for an ear training/sight singing class I’m taking.
New York Dolls, New York Dolls: I picked this album up from Lifelong Thrift Shop purely on reputation, and I didn’t expect how prescient it was.
Loretta Lynn, Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind): Don’t let the country weepies fool you — this album is all about how women have to be strong because men are just no good.
Perfume, GAME: It took nearly a decade for me to discover the sublimity of “Polyrhythm.”
The Roots, Game Theory: I want to call this album punk AF.
Low, Things We Lost in the Fire: I’m not sure how much further I want to explore the Low catalog.
Midnight Oil, Head Injuries: For the American Midnight Oil fan who wants to reach back into the Australian catalog, this album is where to start.
Charles Mingus, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady: Similarly, I’m not sure how much further I want to explore Mingus after hearing this work. I feel everything else would pale by comparison.
Weezer, Pinkerton: This album is the one to own if you can’t stand Weezer fans.
I don’t think I’d mind Weezer if it weren’t for the fans.
I traveled to Nashville in August for a conference, and the city’s reputation as a music center made me think I would sink a lot of cash shopping for records.
That was not the case.
I did, however, come away with a battered copy of Don’t Come a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) by Loretta Lynn.
Every cable channel music documentary that features Lynn always mention two songs — “The Pill” and the title track of Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’. Both songs got Lynn in hot water with the tender sensibilities of country radio.
It’s actually not the most confrontational track on the album.
That would go to “I Got Caught” — a bouncy, scathing tune about infidelity that also comments on gender inequality. That is, men can get away with cheating, but women cannot.
Most of my country music collection consists of Emmylou Harris albums, and she was the first artist to sink a lot of cash into making quality-sounding records.
Lynn, by contrast, cut her teeth in an era when artists recorded an entire album of material in three days. The speed at which she tosses out one broken-hearted ditty after another is breathtaking.
Throughout the album, she’s a wronged woman, but she explores the spectrum of the broken heart experience — pity, rage, acceptance, even liberation. On “The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot Tonight”, Lynn wonders if “two wrongs can make a right.”
With no track exceeding three minutes, there’s an almost punk rock sensibility to Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’. Lynn makes her point right quick — you’re no good, I’m sad, but I will prevail.
My first reaction as I compiled this entry was, “Yay! Some of my favorite artists are releasing new music!” My second reaction was, “Why are they all waiting till April?”
Explosions in the Sky, The Wilderness, April 1
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care tread familiar territory and felt a bit worn out. The preceding single from this new album, “Disintegration Anxiety”, sounds like the band is aiming for a new sound. I hope it’s a successful effort.
Duran Duran, Girls on Film – 1979 Demo, April 1
Andy Wickett offers a CD-R of the 1979 Duran Duran demo, but it looks like he’s licensed it to Cleopatra for a proper reissue.
Ben Watt, Fever Dream, April 8
I find it fascinating how Ben Watt has spent years building his DJ creds, but his solo work so far has nothing to do with the club.
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth, April 15
Sturgill Simpson + concept album via Marvin Gaye = Take my money, please!
Rufus Wainwright, Take All My Loves: Nine Shakespeare Sonnets, April 22
I put more stock in Rufus Wainwright’s classical creds than any other pop star because his first effort in the genre was a full-blown opera.
UA, JaPo, May 11
I wondered where UA has been. She deserved a long break after more than a decade of releasing albums year after year. But which UA are we going to get — the adventurer or the tunesmith?
Ty Herndon, TBD, May 15
At the end of his El Corazón acoustic set back in Feb. 2016, Ty Herndon announced his new album would arrive on May 15, his first since coming out in 2014.
Sade, The Best of Sade, March 11
I already have the first three Sade albums on vinyl, and this compilation pretty much covers those albums. I don’t really need this record, but … I want it.
Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose, March 18
Has it really been more than a decade since Loretta Lynn did that whole thing with Jack White?
Janet Jackson, Unbreakable, April 1
I imagine all the clogged up record pressing plants prevented this album from being released at the same time as the CD.
Sonic Youth, Sister, April 8
Gradus ad Daydream Nation.
Patty Griffin, 1000 Kisses, April 15
This reissue will do nicely till Flaming Red gets somewhere on the release schedule.