After working in the Internet industry for five years, I joked that if I ever got laid off, I would go to work at Waterloo Records, but even as I said it, it felt more like a prediction than a joke.
Well, guess what?
Waterloo Records, believe it or not, was the first retail job I ever had. In college, I did mostly office work, with a stint of library circulation for about a year. I’m not a "people person", but when it came to guiding customers to the music they didn’t know they wanted, I was in my element.
The employee discount also guaranteed a steady musical fix, although my dependence on file sharing would actually increase at this time. My minimum wage salary still went mostly to bills.
Waterloo also honed my tastes a lot more. I became much more dismissive, and I lost patience with anything that required too much work on my part. As much of a music lover I am, I don’t have to love everything.
Musicwhore.org Favorite Edition 2002
Hem, Rabbit Songs
Hem did an in-store performance at Waterloo, and it was the first time I heard them. I was really, really impressed. The orchestral touches of Rabbit Songs makes the band feel more like a chamber ensemble. And as sappy as those Liberty Mutual commercials can be, I still love hearing Hem provide the soundtrack.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead, Source Code and Tags
Waterloo allows customers to listen to anything before they buy. That’s how I ended up with … Trail of Dead’s Madonna back in 2001. I was impressed enough with that album to get Source Code and Tags when it came out. I think I like … Trail of Dead because they remind me so much of NUMBER GIRL.
NUMBER GIRL, NUM-HEAVYMETALLIC
This album felt like a turning point, much like how SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT was the pivot from the band’s lo-fi days to its more punishing sound. Mukai Shuutoku’s writing was getting much more abstract. Had the band not split up, I’m sure at some point the following NUMBER GIRL album would have sounded a lot like ZAZEN BOYS.
Kronos Quartet, Nuevo
Gustavo Santaoalla was just what Kronos Quartet needed to inject some vibrancy in its discography. Nuevo is the ensemble’s most expansive and ambitious album, perhaps the first to use the studio has an instrument onto itself. It’s remarkable that Café Tacuba’s contribution, 12/12, is the most complex piece on the album.
Hajime Chitose, Hainumikaze
Hajime Chitose’s shimauta singing style was once described by someone I know as a controlled burp. I found that highly ornate style fascinating, and the subdued dub influence threading through Hainumikaze resulted in Japanese pop that felt both ancient and modern. Ueda Gen, RIP.
Minako, Suck It till Your Life Ends mata wa Shine Made Sono Mama Yatte Iro
This album is a close relative — perhaps immediate family — to UA’s turbo. Produced by jazz pianist Don Grusin, the one and only album by Minako spans a number of styles, from dub to pop. The house band put together by Grusin makes the entire album sound unified, and Minako herself delivers a seething performance.
Zoobombs, love is funky
The final album Zoobombs would record for EMI was their last grasp at commercial success. love is funky cleans up the band’s visceral sound, highlighting instead the strength of the songwriting. "Jumbo" and "Mo’ Funky", staples from Zoobombs’ indie days, receive new interpretations.
Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
Man, oh, man does Hatakeyama Miyuki have a beautiful voice. On her solo debut, she delivers an amazing set of songs, well suited for her luscious croon. Subsequent albums would not fare as well creatively.
After working with AJICO, UA freed herself to explore a more adventurous sound. Dorobou burns with a quiet intensity, some tracks veering off into experimental terrain. The album is still rooted in pop, but the arrangement and the performances brought her back to her jazz roots.
Patty Griffin, 1,000 Kisses
1,000 Kisses was the first Patty Griffin album I listened to, and judging by the drastic turns of her first two albums — the incomplete Living with Ghosts and the cluttered Flaming Red — 1,000 Kisses seemed to represent Griffin the best.
I’m still not sure how I managed to listen to the remaining titles on my fixed income.
- Catilin Cary, While You Weren’t Looking I was never very interested in Ryan Adams’ contributions to Whiskeytown, but Caitlin Cary seemed like a better draw.
- The White Stripes, White Blood Cells I like the White Stripes — I just didn’t see them as the saviors everyone else did.
- Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf Josh Homme is hot.
- Damien Jurado and Gathered In Song, I Break Chairs Damien Jurado doesn’t usually sound so boisterous.
- Kylie Minogue, Fever I wonder if this album was designed specifically for the gym.
- Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Whatever happened to the executives over at Sire who decided to pass on this album?
- The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious Somehow, the Hives are tuneful enough not to be lumped with the general suckiness that is garage rock.
- The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots I like this album, but I think it sold way too many copies.
- BUGY CRAXONE, Northern Hymns The more commercial sound of the band’s first few albums gives way to something a lot more raw.
- N.E.R.D., In Search Of … The live playing by Spy Mob sets this album apart from most hip-hop.
- Nina Hynes, Staros Her sound gets a bit more introspective on this album.
- Shiratori Maika, Hanazono I was gambling on Shiratori Maika filling a void left by Cocco’s retirement.
- The Back Horn, Shinzou Orchestra The only Back Horn album I like.
- Missy Elliott, Under Construction I liked the video for "Work It", but Johnny Cash’s "Hurt" should have taken the video award.
- Joan Jeanrenaud, Metamorphosis Wow, is this album dark.