Archives

Looking ahead: August-October 2021

[Tokyo Jihen - Sports]

Craig Armstrong, Nocturnes: Music for Two Pianos, Sept. 3

Armstrong wrote and recorded this album during lockdown, as pretty much every other musician trying to make sense of this awful zeitgeist.

James Blake, Friends That Break Your Heart, Sept. 10

I really liked Assume Form, but man, I hate the cover of this album.

MONO, Pilgrimage of the Soul, Sept. 17

Takaakira Goto hints that this album might have the fastest tempi on a MONO album, which is a direction I didn’t expect but more than welcome.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar (50th Anniversary), Sept. 17

Whatever you may think of Andrew Lloyd Webber now, back in the day, he was gutsy enough to make rock bands sound like Prokofiev, and that blur between electric guitars and dissonant harmonies has shaped my musical tastes ever since. So yeah, I’m all about an expanded version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Perfume, Polygon Wave, Sept. 22

I find it cool that 20+ years into a storied pop career, Perfume releases their first ever EP. They have tons of singles and a lot of albums. But EPs? Nah.

BADBADNOTGOOD, Talk Memory, Oct. 8

My enthusiasm for this new album is based entirely on III, which means I have three other albums with which I can either enhance or temper that enthusiasm.

Vinyl

Garbage, Garbage, Aug. 27

A repressing of a 2015 reissue.

Tokyo Jihen, Education (Kyouiku), Sept. 29
Tokyo Jihen, Adult (Otona), Sept. 29
Tokyo Jihen, Variety (Goraku), Sept. 29
Tokyo Jihen, Sports, Sept. 29
Tokyo Jihen, Discovery (Daihakken), Sept. 29
Tokyo Jihen, Music, (Ongaku), Sept. 29

You’re damn right I’m getting all 6 albums, even if I really only like two of the them.

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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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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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Looking ahead, March-May 2020

[Tokyo Jihen - News]

I usually wait until concrete release dates are announced before listing an album in these previews, but in the last few days, a number of artists have made announcements worth noting.

Tokyo Jihen, News, April 8

I didn’t think I would miss Tokyo Jihen, but I realized I did when their reunion was announced.

Gaytheist, How Long Have I Been on Fire, April 10

I like Gaytheist, but I don’t follow them as closely as I do other bands. So it’s an automated announcement from Bandcamp that informed me of this release.

Roberta Flack, First Take (Deluxe Edition), April 10

Roberta Flack’s debut album turns 50. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was No. 1 on the week I was born.

Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow the Rules, April 24

When was the last time Rufus Wainwright did a rock album? Right around the time I moved to Seattle in 2012.

Sam Smith, To Die For, May 1

I enjoyed The Thrill of It All more than In the Lonely Hour, so I’m hoping this next album continues that trajectory.

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Reunions, May 15

The Nashville Sound was good, but it didn’t monopolize my attention the way Southeastern or Something More than Free did. So my anticipation for this album is a bit on the cool side.

Midnight Oil, The Markarrata Project, Summer 2020
Midnight Oil, TBD, Late 2020

I think I’m more excited over another tour than I am about the new album and EP. At the same time, things are so fucked up that Midnight Oil is the right band for these times.

Janet Jackson, Black Diamond, TBD

Aside from the title, details are scant about the next Janet album, but she’s already announced a tour.

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Purchase log, 2020-02-04

[Black Sabbath - Paranoid]

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
  • Ben Watt, Storm Damage

Catalog

CD
  • Band of Susans, Hope Against Hope
  • Dirty Three, Whatever You Love, You Are
  • Matsuda Seiko, area62
  • Ponga, Psychological
  • Soundtrack, This Is Spinal Tap
Vinyl
  • Black Sabbath, Paranoia
Blu Ray
  • Shiina Ringo, Electric Mole
  • Tokyo Jihen, Ultra C

Reissues

CD
  • Neneh Cherry, Raw Like Sushi

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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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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2006

[BORIS - PINK]

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.

At the time, SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS edged Utada Hikaru for the top spot of 2006, but Ultra Blue has proven far more durable. This list has gone through quite a number of changes.

  1. Utada Hikaru, Ultra Blue
  2. SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, Shikakui Vision
  3. VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE, Waiting for My Food
  4. Furukawa Miki, Mirrors
  5. Tokyo Jihen, Otona (Adult)
  6. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere
  7. Boris, Pink
  8. The Roots, Game Theory
  9. Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson, Neruda Songs
  10. Nick Lachey, What’s Left of Me

Other favorites of the year:

  • ACO, mask
  • J Dilla, Donuts
  • Hajime Chitose, Hanadairo
  • Now It’s Overhead, Dark Light Days
  • Envy, Insomniac Doze
  • The Gossip, Standing in the Way of Control
  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Fan Club

I’ve known about Boris for as long as I’ve been following Japanese music, but I never made time for them until I picked up Pink at Goodwill for $2. Well, hell …

I wouldn’t have listened to the Roots or J Dilla at the time. Hip-hop had diversified to have its own underground, and that was just so much history that I wasn’t willing to unpack. I’ve only started exploring hip-hop with any seriousness in the last year.

Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson was quite the late discovery. I didn’t pick up Neruda Songs till 2008, but it quickly became a favorite, dislodging Ex-Boyfriends completely off the list.

When I was first introduced to ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, I dismissed them as “eastern youth lite”. The joke was on me — I don’t even own an eastern youth album anymore, and I’ve purchased ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION on vinyl.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2007

[The Dead Betties - Nightmare Sequence]

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 further we get from the present day, the more we’ll find retroactive changes to the Favorite Edition lists. The 2007 list sees a lot of shifting in the Favorite 10, and a number of retroactive additions.

  1. Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
  2. UA, Golden green
  3. The Dead Betties, Nightmare Sequence
  4. Björk, Volta
  5. unkie, the Price of Fame
  6. Nico Muhly, Speaks Volumes
  7. Stephen Sondheim, Company (2006 Cast Recording)
  8. Once, Music from the Motion Picture
  9. Sasagawa Miwa, Mayoi Naku
  10. Tokyo Jihen, Goraku (Variety)

Other favorites from the year:

  • Synapse/Elliott Cole, The Oracle Hysterical
  • Tommy heavenly6, Heavy Starry Heavenly
  • Kawai Kenji, Seirei no Moribito
  • Office, A Night at the Ritz
  • M.I.A., Kala
  • The National, Boxer
  • Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
  • Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch

The cast recording for 2006 production of Company gets a retroactive boost, missing the Favorite 10 the first time out. A PBS broadcast of the revival directed by John Doyle went a long way in raising its ranking.

I didn’t discover the Dead Betties till a year and some change after the release of Nightmare Sequence, and it would have shot up to the Favorite 10 had I known about it. The album doesn’t lose its punch more than a decade on.

Rufus Wainwright’s Release the Stars and Smashing Pumpkins’ Zeitgeist fall of the list entirely. I think those albums earned their place on the Favorite 10 because I was not paying attention to what was happening in 2007, if the expanded list is any indication.

I’m not sure I actually like The National, but I remember catching the band’s appearance on Live from the Artists Den and thinking Matt Berninger was a tall drink of water. Boxer is rather fine album, nonetheless.

I would not have picked up Band of Horses without Renée Fleming. I get them mixed up with the Band of Heathens and Band of Skulls.

I didn’t actually like Sirens of the Ditch the first time I listened to it. I was just starting to explore Jason Isbell’s work after hearing Southeastern, and I wanted everything to sound like it. I had no context about his work with Drive-By Truckers. Sirens of the Ditch is closer to his work with the Truckers than his more recent albums, and that understanding goes a long way to building appreciation for his solo debut.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 2010

[TOUMING MAGAZINE - Our Soul Music]

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.

2010 was a solid year in music, led by strong showings from Shiina Ringo and Cocco. So this version of the Favorite Edition list doesn’t stray much from the original.

  1. Tokyo Jihen, Sports
  2. Cocco, Emerald
  3. Renée Fleming, Dark Hope
  4. LOVE PSYCHEDELICO, ABBOT KINNEY
  5. Res, Black.Girls.Rock!
  6. Royal Wood, The Waiting
  7. KIMONOS, Kimonos
  8. ACO, devil’s hands
  9. The Drums, The Drums
  10. Oriental Love Ring, In This World

Other favorites from the year:

  • Jónsi, Go
  • LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening
  • Sade, Soldier of Love
  • Friday Night Lights, Original Television Soundtrack, Vol. 2
  • TOUMING MAGAZINE, Our Soul Music

I was always a bit ambivalent about ranking LCD Soundsystem over Sade, so the late discovery of The Drums banished both from the Favorite 10.

I’ve been waiting for an album by Oriental Love Ring for more than 30 years, so learning it happened — albeit two years after it was released — meant something had to give. And it fell to Jónsi.

The final retroactive addition to the list is the debut album by TOUMING MAGAZINE. I try not to translate foreign language album titles, but since my traditional Chinese is non-existent, it’s safest to give a correct English title than a mangled transliterated one.

Google Translate says 我們的靈魂樂 is pronounced “Wǒmen de línghún lè”. The band says the title is Our Soul Music.

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