Archives

Purchase log, 2021-06-15

[Tokyo Jihen - Ongaku (Music)]

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
  • Sleater-Kinney, Path of Wellness
  • Tokyo Jihen, Ongaku
Vinyl
  • Perfume Genius, Immediately Remixes
  • Tears for Fears, Live at Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985
  • The Replacements, The Pleasure’s All Yours

Catalog

CD
  • David Lang, Love Fail
  • Hoodoo Gurus, Kinky
  • Julien Baker, Turn Out the Lights
  • Mark Ronson, Here Comes the Fuzz
  • The Highwomen, The Highwomen
  • They Might Be Giants, Lincoln

Reissues

CD
  • The Shins, Oh, Inverted World (20th Anniversary Remaster)
Vinyl
  • Prince, The Truth
  • Robert Palmer, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley
  • Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Mexico City
  • The Fixx, Reach the Beach
  • The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin Companion
  • The Police, Live! Vol. 1 Boston 1979
  • The Police, Live! Vol. 2 Atlanta 1983
  • U2, “Fire”
  • VAST, Music for People

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Looking ahead, May-June 2021

[Duran Duran - Future Past]

AJICO, Setsuzoku, May 25

Everyone’s back! UA, Asai Kenichi, TOKIE and Shiino Kyoichi! I’m hoping there’s a full album in the future.

Tokyo Jihen, Ongaku (Music), June 9

I’ve missed Tokyo Jihen, but the singles that have been released since the reunion haven’t really caught me.

Sleater-Kinney, Path of Wellness, June 11

It feels as if everyone who’s announcing new albums wouldn’t have been working on them had it not been for the pandemic.

Duran Duran, Future Past, Oct. 22

Giorgio Moroder did wonders on Kylie Minogue’s DISCO, and the single “Invisible” is the hardest Duran Duran has rocked since perhaps “The Wild Boys”.

Vinyl

My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything, May 21
My Bloody Valentine, Loveless, May 21
My Bloody Valentine, mbv, May 21

I have an unofficial pressing of Isn’t Anything, so I made sure to order a legitimate one directly from the band themselves. I can’t say I feel much need for mbv on vinyl.

Utada Hikaru, One Last Kiss (US release), Aug. 20

I already have the Japanese pressing of this EP. Will I be getting this domestic pressing? Probably yes.

Guided By Voices, Isolation Drills, Sept. 17

Isolation Drills was reissued for Record Store Day as a single disc. This new pressing spreads the album out over two discs, which is far more prudent for its length.

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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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Concert Edition 2019

Perfume, Paramount Theatre, April 10, 2019
Perfume, Paramount Theatre, April 10, 2019

Jeremy Denk, Meany Hall, Jan. 15

Denk had yet to release his latest album, c.1300-c.2000, when he performed at Meany Centre. So he chose to focus mainly on Beethoven. The program did include John Adams’ I Still Play, which he wrote for retired Nonesuch Records president Bob Hurwitz.

Carolyn Shaw, Piano Concerto, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Feb. 2

I think Shaw lost me in the second movement of her piano concerto, when the opening melody in the piano repeated. And repeated. And repeated. The first movement established this piece wasn’t minimalist, so why become one in the second movement?

Sergei Prokofiev, Symphony No. 7, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Feb. 16

When I first started exploring classical music, I bought a cassette tape with Sergei Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Lieutenant Kije Suite. His Symphony No. 7 was tacked onto the album to fill out space, so I listened to it quite a lot. I haven’t explored other Prokofiev symphonies, but I have a fondness for the seventh.

Amadeus Live, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Feb. 23

I had planned to attend the Seattle Symphony’s performance of Heiner Goebbels’ Surrogate Cities, but it was scheduled on the day I was flying back from London. The concert was rescheduled a day earlier, and I traded my ticket for Amaedus Live. I was glad to learn it was the theatrical cut.

Emerson String Quartet, Meany Hall, March 6

The program on this concert included the Barber Adagio, a Razumovsky quartet by Beethoven and the Britten’s String Quartet No. 3. I particularly looked forward to the Britten quartet, having stumbled across recordings of his quartets at the thrift shop.

Morsel Trio, Good Shepherd Center, March 8

My violin teacher (Luke Fitzpatrick) and my music theory T.A. (Daniel Webbon) had pieces on this program.

Michael Tilson-Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Benaroya Hall, March 19

I’ve known about Michael Tilson-Thomas for years, and I even have a number of his recordings as a pianist. So I wanted to hear him with the San Francisco Symphony before he ends his tenure in July 2020. The centerpiece of the concert was Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. I love the first movement of the piece, but I’ve never really internalized the remained of it.

untitled 2, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, March 22

Pierre Boulez never struck me as a person you’d really want to meet in real life, and that impression has spilled over into his music. So I don’t think I really heard a piece by Boulez until this concert. It wasn’t as grating as I was expecting it to be.

Perfume, Paramount Theatre, Apr. 10

I’m sure there were parts of this concert that were … prefabricated, but I didn’t mind. It was visually stunning, and Perfume were entirely gracious to Seattle fans. If I hadn’t gotten out of the hospital a few days before, I probably would have stood in the excessively long line at the merchandise table.

Joël-Françios Durand, Trope de:Bussy, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Apr. 13

I listen to a lot of modern classical music, but I still sometimes feel odd listening to works from people I’ve met. Prof. Durand was my music theory instructor for one quarter back in 2016.

George Walker, Sinfonia No. 5, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Apr. 20

When the orchestra finished playing the premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, one audience member didn’t even wait for conductor Thomas Dausgaard to signal for the applause. It was a pretty monstrous piece.

Alexander String Quartet and Joyce Yang, Meany Hall, May 22

Samuel Carl Adams has followed his father’s footsteps into the world of composition. His father is John Adams. Alexander String Quartet and Joyce Yang performed a piece by the younger Adams, and he sounds nothing like his father. In fact, I would like to hear more from Sam Adams.

untitled 3, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, June 7

A reimagning of Schubert and Schumann. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In the Spotlight: Bolcom, Jolley, Poteat & Hausmann, Octave 9, June 11

Seattle Symphony transformed its education space into a high-tech venue to showcase more experimental programming. I’m looking forward to attending concerts in this new space.

Torche, Highline, Sept. 15

Sturgill Simpson made me realize I was getting too old for rock shows, so I almost decided against seeing Torche, despite loving the new album. Then I saw they were playing at a venue that is a 6-minute walk from my apartment. I’m glad I went.

Bugs Bunny on Broadway, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Oct. 5

I wasn’t going to miss hearing What’s Opera, Doc? performed live. Even the 3-d animated new shorts weren’t too bad.

untitled 1, Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, Oct. 18

This first untitled concert of the 2019-2020 season showcased works for brass, and alternated between early and modern music. At the end of the concert, I was asked what I thought. I answered, “It was more conservative than I prefer.”

John Williams, Violin Concerto, St. Louis Symphony, Powell Hall, Nov. 3

I debated whether to take in a St. Louis Symphony concert while I was attending WordCamp US. A Sunday matinee seemed like a good option for someone navigating an unfamiliar city without a car. The light rail and bus system got me to the concert hall, which has a really nice sound. James Ehnes was the soloist for the Williams concerto, and yes, it’s unmistakably John Williams. For an encore, Ehnes did Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 3.

Sleater-Kinney, Paramount Theatre, Nov. 23

I chose to sit in the mezzanine for this show because, yes, Sturgill Simpson.

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Purchase log, 2019-08-20

[Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won't Hold]

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
  • Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold

Catalog

CD
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Broadway Cast)
  • Bill Frisell, Good Dog, Happy Man
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet, Requiem
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
  • CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe
  • Devo, Greatest Hits
  • Don Byron, Bug Music
  • Information Society, Peace and Love, Inc.
  • LFO, LFO
  • Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Spanish Fly
  • Los Amigos Invisibles, Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey into Space
  • Mr. Lif, I Phantom
  • Queen, A Night at the Opera
  • Wye Oak, Civilian
Vinyl
  • Béla Bartók, Mikrokosmos, Vol. 6 / Out of Doors / Sonatina (Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich)
  • Fugazi, End Hits
  • George Crumb, Makrokosmos, Vol. II (Robert Miller)
  • George Crumb, Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III)
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • My Bloody Valentine, Isn’t Anything
  • Nico Muhly and Teitur, Confessions
  • Re-Flex, The Politics of Dancing
  • Run DMC, Raising Hell
  • Ryan Stout, Touché
  • Sting, 57th and Ninth
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Explosions in the Sky, How Strange Innocence
  • Explosions in the Sky, The Rescue
  • NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC
  • NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
  • NUMBER GIRL, SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT

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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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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1996

[Café Tacuba - Avalancha de Exitos]

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.

1996 was my final year in college, a year before I would earn the kind of disposable income that would go into building a music collection. While the Favorite 10 of 1996 remains mostly unchanged, the extended list includes many more discoveries I couldn’t afford to hear at the time.

  1. Soundtrack, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
  2. Värttinä, Kokko
  3. Soundtrack, Robotech Perfect Collection
  4. Asylum Street Spankers, Spanks for the Memories
  5. Various Composers, Gay American Composers
  6. Original Cast Recording, Rent
  7. Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar
  8. Everything But the Girl, Walking Wounded
  9. Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs
  10. Robin Holcomb, Little Three

Other favorites from the year:

  • Midnight Oil, Breathe
  • Dead Can Dance, Spiritchaser
  • Emmylou Harris, Portraits
  • Kronos Quartet, Howl USA
  • UA, 11
  • Yen Town Band, Montage
  • Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
  • Aphex Twin, Richard D. James Album
  • Weezer, Pinkerton
  • Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor
  • Clannad, Lore
  • Café Tacuba, Avalancha de Exitos

I could actually add more titles from Wilco, Helmet, Gillian Welch, DJ Shadow and Amuro Namie to the extended list, but I haven’t lived with them as long as the ones I’ve already added.

I owned the Richard D. James album at one point. It was a promo from the student newspaper, but I was such a neophyte with EDM that I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. As it turns out nobody could really make heads or tails of it.

The original extended list didn’t include Lore because it had already fallen victim to a collection purge. I rediscovered the album after the death of Padraig Duggan.

Avalancha de Exitos was the first album by Café Tacuba I would encounter, but I wouldn’t purchase it till many years later. I borrowed it from a friend and liked it. But I stayed away from it because it’s a cover album of music of which I had no reference.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1997

[Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope]

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.

1998 and 1999 were probably the most productive years of the ’90s. 1997 slightly less so. That said, there isn’t much change from the original list, a few shuffles aside.

  1. Cocco, Bougainvillia
  2. Duran Duran, Medazzaland
  3. The Old ’97s, Too Far to Care
  4. Björk, Homogeneic
  5. 10,000 Maniacs, Love Among the Ruins
  6. Soundtrack, The Simpsons: Songs in the Key of Springfield
  7. Molotov, ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas?
  8. Bill Frisell, Nashville
  9. Pizzicato Five, Happy End of the World
  10. Prodigy, Fat of the Land

Other favorites from the year:

  • Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope
  • China Digs, Looking for George …
  • John Taylor, Feelings are Good and Other Lies
  • Jack Ingram, Livin’ and Dyin’
  • Kronos Quartet, Early Music (Lachrymæ Antiquæ)
  • 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Souvonica
  • Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly
  • David Bowie, Earthling

I wouldn’t rediscover The Velvet Rope till 2014. I disliked its predecessor, janet., but I was also disappointed Janet didn’t switch up her theme. I’ve come to realize The Velvet Rope was the album I wished janet. would have been.

Earthling is the very first album by David Bowie I’ve ever owned. I actually liked it at the time, but I didn’t love it. So it got cut during a collection purge. My recent deep dive into the his work made me revisit Earthling, and as unlikely as an EDM Bowie album might sound, he makes it work.

Sleater-Kinney and Missy Eliott are retroactive additions to the list. I didn’t explore their works until recently.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2000

[Tomosaka Rie - Shoujo Robot]

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 flabbergasted by the idea that, as of this writing, the year 2000 is nearly 20 years ago. As much as I lionize the music I heard in high school, the music of my late 20s has been incredibly influential, perhaps professionally as well as personally. Thus, we don’t see much change from the original list.

  1. Shiina Ringo, Shouso Strip
  2. Cocco, Rapunzel
  3. NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
  4. SUPERCAR, Futurama
  5. eX-Girl, Big When Far, Small When Close
  6. Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One
  7. Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows
  8. FEED, Make Every Stardust Shimmer!
  9. Tomosaka Rie, “Shoujo Robot”
  10. Sade, Lovers Rock

Other favorites from the year:

  • Do As Infinity, Break of Dawn
  • Yaida Hitomi, daiya-monde
  • PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
  • OBLIVION DUST, Butterfly Head
  • At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command
  • L’Arc~en~Ciel, REAL
  • Bonnie Pink, Let Go
  • MISSILE GIRL SCOOT, Fiesta!
  • Smashing Pumpkins, MACHINA/The Machine of God
  • m-flo, Planet Shining
  • Juanes, Fíate Bien
  • Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl
  • U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  • La Ley, Uno
  • Sinéad O’Connor, Faith and Courage
  • Soundtrack, High Fidelity
  • BBMak, Sooner or Later

At the time of its release, I was just glad All That You Can’t Leave Behind was not a continuation of Pop. The recent vinyl reissue of the album, unfortunately, reveals its shortcomings. Thus, it loses its original ranking in the Favorite 10.

Plot twist: I panned 2004’s How to Build an Atomic Bomb, but that album has endured far better than All That You Can’t Leave Behind. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Idlewild’s 1000 Broken Windows takes the spot vacated by U2.

Do As Infinity probably could have held onto its place in the Favorite 10 on the strength of “Raven” alone. At the time, most J-Pop I had encountered relied heavily on keyboards and drum machines, so a karaoke-ready band with crunchy guitars felt novel to me.

I can’t say I love Break of Dawn as much now. It’s rare that singles displace albums for the Favorite 10, but all three tracks on “Shoujo Robot” hint at an awesome album I wish Shiina Ringo and Tomosaka Rie recorded.

The extended list is really just all the titles that could have legitimately competed for that bottom spot on the Favorite 10.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2002

[Quruli - THE WORLD IS MINE]

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.

If you want an explanation for the length of this list, see 2002: An important year in music for the 2000s. This 2002 list has gone through a few ranking changes and added even more titles.

  1. Hem, Rabbit Songs
  2. … And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead, Source Code and Tags
  3. Kronos Quartet, Nuevo
  4. The Streets, Original Pirate Material
  5. Hajime Chitose, Hainumikaze
  6. NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC
  7. Quruli, THE WORLD IS MINE
  8. Zoobombs, love is funky
  9. Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
  10. Patty Griffin, 1,000 Kisses

Other favorites from the year:

  • UA, Dorobou
  • Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf
  • Damien Jurado and Gathered In Song, I Break Chairs
  • Pedro the Lion, Control
  • Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • Missy Elliott, Under Construction
  • The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts
  • Sonic Youth, Murray Street
  • Sleater-Kinney, One Beat
  • Kylie Minogue, Fever
  • The Roots, Phrenology
  • ISIS, Oceanic
  • The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
  • The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious
  • Catilin Cary, While You Weren’t Looking
  • BUGY CRAXONE, Northern Hymns
  • N.E.R.D., In Search Of …
  • The Books, Thought for Food
  • Nappy Roots, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz
  • Minako, Suck It till Your Life Ends mata wa Shine Made Sono Mama Yatte Iro
  • The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot
  • Shiratori Maika, Hanazono
  • The Back Horn, Shinzou Orchestra
  • Joan Jeanrenaud, Metamorphosis

I picked up Original Pirate Material for $1 at Lifelong Thrift Shop, and now I understand why it was all over the place in 2002. I couldn’t open a music magazine without seeing Mike Skinner mentioned in it. I’m pretty sure the sample of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 sealed my admiration for the album.

THE WORLD IS MINE is something of a mea culpa. At the time of its release, I recognized the album as being Quruli’s most complex, but I just couldn’t get into it. I probably felt that it didn’t go far enough if it was going to be ambitious.

Well, the joke’s on me. I listened to it again before its reissue on vinyl, and I really dug it, much more than Antenna, which I praised effusively at the time. So it knocked Minako’s one and only album off the Favorite 10. UA also had to make room for the Streets.

The extended list includes albums I originally dismissed: Murray Street by Sonic Youth and One Beat by Sleater-Kinney.

I remember stocking Nappy Roots during my shifts at Waterloo Records and wondering what the big deal was. A $1 copy from Lifelong Thrift Shop  16 years later educated me. I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to Nappy Roots, The Decemberists or ISIS without having worked at Waterloo.

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