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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, 2020-07-21

[Perfume Genius - No Shape]

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

Vinyl
  • Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

Catalog

CD
  • Buggles, Age of Plastic
  • Don Dixon, EEE
  • MO’SOME TONEBENDER, LIGHT, SLIDE, DUMMY
  • Protomartyr, Under Color of Official Right
  • The Coup, Steal This Album
Vinyl
  • Perfume Genius, No Shape
  • Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues

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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, May-July 2020

Washington State is under a stay-at-home order till May 4, which means I’m not going to be shopping for music at a local record store till then — assuming the order doesn’t get extended.

Perfume Genius, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, May 15

Prior to No Shape, I’ve been ambivalent about Perfume Genius. I would hear excerpts of previous albums and not feel much compulsion to listen to more. I picked up No Shape from the thrift store mostly because it had garnered a lot of acclaim. And I liked it enough to look forward to this next release.

Various Artists, I Still Play, May 22

Bob Hurwitz retired as president of Nonesuch in 2017, and for his send-off, a number of artists wrote piano works for him. The title piece, written by John Adams, was Hurwitz’s reply when someone asked him if he still plays piano.

Inventions, Continous Portrait, July 10

Matthew Cooper of Eluvium and Mark Smith of Explosions in the Sky reunite for their first new album since 2015.

Rescheduled

  • Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow the Rules, July 10
  • Sam Smith, TBD (formerly titled To Die For), Fall 2020

Vinyl

Everything But the Girl, Temperamental, May 8

I like this album enough to want this vinyl reissue, but I didn’t like it enough to get the deluxe edition a few years back.

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Purchase log picks, January 2019

[Toto - Hydra]

Guadalcanal Diary, 2 x 4

I remember seeing Guadalcanal Diary albums filed in a section of Jelly’s Books and Music reserved for “modern rock”, the precursor of “alternative rock” that would distinguish itself from “classic rock”. I wouldn’t explore the band’s albums till nearly 30 years later. Of their four albums released in the ’80s, 2 x 4 is one of the two essentials, the other being Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man.

Perfume Genius, No Shape

I’ve stayed away from Perfume Genius because the 30-second samples I’d hear of various tracks made me conclude I’d be bored at full-length. No Shape garnered a lot of favorable press in 2018, and the thrift store price point convinced me to jump in. I’m glad I did.

Robert Palmer, Secrets

You should own this album for “Doctor, Doctor” alone, but like the rest of Palmer’s early output, this album is reliably funky.

SUPER JUNKY MONKEY, AIETOH

SUPER JUNKY MONKEY albums can get intense for their length, so this four-track EP is the perfect encapsulation of the band. I grabbed this release from the Evil Sharing Networks in the early 2000s and pined for the day I could afford to order it from overseas. Nearly 20 years later, I would get it on Amazon Marketplace for under $5.

Toto, Hydra

Toto IV gets most of the accolades, and while Hydra didn’t capture the mind share of its predecessor, it has some solid tracks, including one of my favorite Toto singlse, “99.”

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Purchase log, 2019-01-01

[Yaz - Upstairs at Eric's]

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
  • Danish String Quartet, Wood Works
  • DJ Krush, Meiso
  • Guadalcanal Diary, 2×4
  • Laurie Anderson, Mister Heartbreak
  • Laurie Anderson, Strange Angels
  • Lou Reed, New York
  • Perfume Genius, No Shape
  • Sinéad O’Connor, Am I Not Your Girl?
  • Styx, Paradise Theatre
  • Van Halen, 1984
Vinyl
  • Aphex Twin, Richard D. James Album
  • Yaz, Upstaris at Eric’s
  • Yaz, You and Me Both

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