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Favorite Edition 2021 Year Half

[Utada Hikaru - One Last Kiss EP]

On May 10, 2021, I received the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. I had an appointment to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, but on the day I was to drive 20 miles to get it, distribution of the vaccine was paused.

After weeks of wondering when I’d be eligible to get a vaccine, followed by another few weeks of battling for an appointment, I had little mental energy left to do anything but work and practice for my music lessons.

Record Store Day Drops happened, and I was actually dreading it. A large music shop in my neighborhood closed permanently, and I haven’t eulogized it yet.

After a year and change of a pandemic that is nowhere near close to ending, I haven’t put much energy into listening to music of the current year. I visit the thrift shops every week to discover the past, but the present has no allure for me.

TL;DR: I don’t have much to offer for this half-year list.

The one release to which I’ve listened with any consistency contains remixes of a song released more than a decade ago. I’ve been distracting myself with so much YouTube and violin practice that I have a backlog of unopened vinyl, including titles I bought on Record Store Day.

I hope the second half of the year is kinder than the last year and a half.

Here are my favorites of 2021, what few I could find.

  • Utada Hikaru, One Last Kiss EP: I haven’t cottoned to an Utada song this hard since “Be My Last”, and all the incarnations of “Beautiful World” on this EP makes a strong argument that it too is one of her strongest songs.
  • Anton Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered (Ivan Ilić): Reicha is pretty obsessive about interrogating the theme of L’Art de varier (The Art of Variation) to the point it’s almost maddening. But maybe that’s the point.
  • Yo Majesty, Return of the Matriarch: Earlier this year, I had a hankering to hear “Club Action” by Yo Majesty, though I had sold my copy of Futuristically Speaking … Never Be Afraid when cash got tight. So it was a bit of serendipity to learn the duo reunited to release Return of the Matriarch.
  • Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, Thanks for Coming: I actually don’t think this album is as good as it could have been. The trio’s self-titled debut EP is actually stronger, but it has enough attitude that I can’t completely dismiss it.

The older I get, the more I find music from the past I hadn’t yet discovered more interesting than the new.

  • Riz Ahmed, The Long Goodbye: Wow, a breakup record with an entire country. Amazing.
  • Laurie Anderson, Big Science: Oh, so that’s why Laurie Anderson is a BFD.
  • Kelela, Take Me Apart: I find indie R&B way more interesting than indie rock these days.
  • The Fixx, Reach the Beach: File under: an album I would have owned a long time ago if only I learned who sang those songs at the time I first heard them.
  • Linda Ronstadt, Mad Love: I’ve read the success of Mad Love allowed Ronstadt to record more adventurous albums, which makes me wonder what would have happened if she had done another new wave album.

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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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Purchase log, 2020-03-02

[Anton Reicha - Reicha Rediscovered, Vol. 3 (Ivan Ilić)]

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
  • Anton Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered, Vol. 3 (Ivan Ilić)
  • PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea Demos

Catalog

CD
  • Astor Piazzolla, The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night
  • Beastie Boys, Some Old Bullshit
  • Camouflage, Meanwhile
  • Phil Collins, Face Value
  • Queen, Greatest Hits
  • Sergei Prokofiev / Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concertos No. 1 (Maxim Vengerov, Mstislav Rostrophovich, London Symphony Orchestra)
  • Sia, Some People Have Real Problems
  • The Church, Starfish
  • The Verve, Urban Hymns
Vinyl
  • The Fixx, Reach the Beach

Reissues

Vinyl
  • PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

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Purchase log picks, January 2021

[Linda Ronstadt - Mad Love]

Linda Ronstadt, Mad Love

I had no idea this album was considered Ronstadt’s new wave album. Yes, three Elvis Costello songs are on this album, and “Hurt So Bad” has a scorching guitar solo more characteristic of the late Andy Gill. But it doesn’t sound like some new Romantic looking for a TV sound.

Carpenters, The Singles 1969-1973

There was a time when digging the Carpenters was an ironical act. The 90s are distant enough that I think we can sincerely dig the Carpenters now.

The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole

I was skeptical of the whole attempt to make electronic dance the heir apparent of grunge. But that doesn’t detract from the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers releasing some durable albums from that late-90s era.

bloodthirsty butchers, Mikansei

bloodthirsty butchers have a talent from making long songs that don’t feel as long as they are.

The Fixx, Reach the Beach

I knew the Fixx were responsible for “One Thing Leads to Another”, but I had no idea they were also behind “Saved By Zero”. To be honest, the songs sound like they’re from different bands.

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Purchase log, 2021-01-26

[Soundtrack - Batman Original Score]

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
  • Alvin Singleton, Somehow We Can
  • Berlin, Pleasure Victim
  • INXS, Shabooh Shoobah
  • Pizzicato Five, Great White Wonder
  • Pizzicato Five, Remix Album: Happy End of You
  • Pizzicato Five, Sister Freedom Tapes
  • The Fixx, Reach the Beach
  • The Knack, Get the Knack
  • Virgil Thomsom, Complete Film Scores: The River / The Plow That Broke the Plains (Philharmonia Virtuosi, Richard Knapp)
Vinyl
  • Mandy Barnett, A Nashville Songbook
  • Sampha, Process

Reissues

Vinyl
  • Spice Girls, Forever
  • Soundtrack, Batman (Original Score)

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