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.
- 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.
- Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: I also liked the Emotion Picture that accompanied the release of this album.
- Christine and the Queens, Chris: Those dance moves!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Seattle Symphony with Roomful of Teeth, Berio: Sinfonia: This piece was awesome to hear live.
- 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performing his gamelan transcriptions with Benjamin Britten, and I kind of wish Muhly and Bartlett had also done the unpublished scores.
- 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.
- 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.
Tags: christine and the queens, craig armstrong, eponymous 4, favorite edition, igor stravinsky, janelle monae, john coltrane, kronos quartet, laurie anderson, leo imai, mikami chisako, nico muhly, parquet courts, renee fleming, roomful of teeth, seattle symphony, shiina ringo, steve grand, thomas bartlett, tracey thorn, utada hikaru, various artists, yore
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.
What I find most remarkable about the 2012 list is the number of albums listed under honorable mentions. The revised list has culled a lot of those titles. I probably listed so many because I didn’t feel passionate enough about any of them.
- Solange, True
- Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
- Jeremy Denk, Ligeti/Beethoven
- … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Lost Songs
- Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
- Cody Chesnutt, Landing on a Hundred
- ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Landmark
- ZAZEN BOYS, Stories
- Tokyo Jihen, Shinyawaku
- Duran Duran, A Diamond in the Mind
Other favorites from the year:
- Scissor Sisters, Magic Hour
- Roomful of Teeth, Roomful of Teeth
- Gossip, A Joyful Noise
- Tokyo Jihen, Tokyo Collection
- TOUMING MAGAZINE, TOUMING MAGAZINE FOREVER
- OBLIVION DUST, 9 Gates of Bipolar
- Gaytheist, Stealth Beats
Cody ChesnuTT dislodges Scissor Sisters from the original list, and Frank Ocean jumps up a few spots. Otherwise, there are no remarkable changes.
If anything, 2012 has turned out to be something of a dud year. When I review my purchases in subsequent years, 2012 releases are scant, and most of the albums I bought that year only garner no more than a 3-star rating.
Tags: and you will know us by the trail of dead, asian kung-fu generation, cody chesnutt, duran duran, favorite edition, frank ocean, gaytheist, gossip, jeremy denk, oblivion dust, roomful of teeth, santigold, scissor sisters, solange, tokyo jihen, touming magazine, zazen boys
Part of me still misses ICE Magazine, the publication dedicated to reporting on new releases and reissues. Super Deluxe Edition has done a good job recapturing the kind of reporting that went into ICE. I’ve adjusted to using Pause and Play for tracking new releases, but sometimes, I get more relevant information from the personalization features on Discogs.
ICE launched in the early ’90s to track compact disc releases. It ended publication just as the download market ate into CD sales. If a similar publication were to launch today, it would probably report on which artists have made their content exclusive on which streaming service. And vinyl. Talk about turnabout being fair play.
10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales, April 28
This latest incarnation of 10,000 Maniacs brings Mary Ramsey back into the fold and welcomes a guitarist who also doubles on vocals. For this album, the Maniacs reach for the roots, covering the traditional music that has informed their sound.
Roomful of Teeth, Render, April 28
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I had the temerity to stick with my composition studies in college. It might have sounded like the stuff happening in Brooklyn with the likes of Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion and Alarm Will Sound.
Takaakira Goto, Classical Punk and Echoes Under Beauty, May 5
Taka wrote this album around the time MONO started getting orchestral. I’ve enjoyed the rougher sound of Rays of Darkness too much to want to go back in time.
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind, May 12
Brian Ahrens didn’t produce this second duet album, but Harris and Crowell wanted The Traveling Kind to reflect where they are as artists now. It’s hard not to have high expectations.
Deebs/Jarrell Perry, Shift, May 19
A lot of attention will focus on the second album by Frank Ocean, but for my money, Jarrell Perry does a far more adventurous job pushing the edges of R&B.
Faith No More, Sol Invictus, May 19
Yeah, yeah, insert grumbling about Jim Martin’s lack of involvement here. I’m still curious.
NOW Ensemble, Dreamfall, May 26
See above about labelmates Roomful of Teeth.
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free, July 17
Damn, Jason Isbell is looking mighty fine on that cover photo. I couldn’t get enough of Southeastern, so I’ve spent the last few months devouring his 2011 album Here We Rest. Now a new set is just going to keep this jones going.
Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry, July 2015
Hey, Frank, could you convince Universal Music to put out a decent vinyl issue of channel ORANGE as well? Thanks.
Duran Duran, TBD, September 2015
Not since Colin Thurston has Duran Duran worked with the same producer twice. Mark Ronson brought out not just the vintage sound of Duran Duran but also the unmistakable essence of a Duran Duran song. Here’s hoping the latter gets retained if the former evolves.
Tags: 10000 maniacs, deebs, duran duran, emmylou harris, faith no more, frank ocean, goto takaakira, jarell perry, jason isbell, looking ahead, now ensemble, rodney crowell, roomful of teeth