Monthly Archives: March 2008

Favorite edition 1998

I wasn’t really thinking much about music in 1998. I was trying to navigate the uncertainty of living completely on my own for the first time, and the entire last half of the ’90s felt pretty rootless. A lot of crappy stuff happened that year, the worst of which was a burglary.

I thought 1997 was tough, but 1998 mopped the floor with 1997.

I wouldn’t really discover a lot of the titles on this list till the year after, when life started to suck a bit less. There’s a significant Austin slant since I was trying to figure out how much I liked what passed for cool among the city’s cognoscenti. I would later learn the popularity of Bob Schneider and Los Lonely Boys demonstrates Austinites can have terrible taste in music as well.

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Quruli releases live DVD, LOVE PSYCHEDELICO releases US compilation

Quruli’s performance with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra gets a DVD release on May 21, so says The DVD, titled Yokohama Winner, documents the band’s Dec. 12, 2007 performance with the orchestra at Yokohama Pacifico. A limited edition first pressing of the DVD includes additional footage from the band’s homecoming concert in Kyoto on Dec. 6, 2007, where only 250 fans were invited. Other footage includes Quruli’s Sept. 23 outdoor performance.

I was also browsing the AllMusic new release page and discovered US label Hacktone Records releases a LOVE PSYCHEDELICO compilation titled This Is LOVE PSYCHEDELICO on April 29. A website promoting the release has already been launched. The track listing looks like it’s taken mostly from the first three studio albums, with nothing from Golden grapefruit. Long-time readers of this site are probably very well familiar with the tracks on this compilation, so here’s a fairly inexpensive way to introduce your loved ones to LOVE PSYCHEDELICO.

Favorite edition 2008: Quarter first

It’s weird enough for the first quarter of the year to yield some really strong contenders for the year-end favorite list. It’s weirder still when many of those releases came out in January, a traditionally slow month where releases are concerned.

Something tells me some of these releases were squeezed out of the fall schedule. I think the fall schedule would have been much more interesting if some of these titles had been pushed up.

I don’t have very high hopes for the second quarter, but I very much enjoyed this first quarter of 2008.

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The Magnetic Fields: Distortion

Really — I tried to get into 69 Love Songs. I was impressed as everyone else that one guy would try write, record and essentially perform three hours of love songs, pared down from the original 100 planned.

At the very least, such an effort ought to be commended. Stephin Merritt wasn’t trying to go for some three-disc prog rock concept album — he just wanted to write 69 love songs.

Reviewers at the time thought the entire set was just pristine, but over time, I’ve found otherwise. I no longer have the albums in my collection because I only ever found about 23 of them very likable.

And thus established my relationship with the Magnetic Fields — a band upon whom I like to check from time to time, but one whose work I don’t actually whip myself into a frenzy to follow. Merritt comes up with some really clever ideas, such as writing songs where all the titles begin with the letter "I". But sometimes, the follow-through is less compelling than the concept, as was the case with said album i, the band’s first for Nonesuch.

Distortion promised an album "more Jesus and Mary Chain than the Jesus and Mary Chain". I’ve had only scant exposure to the Jesus and Mary Chain, so I don’t know how well Merritt keeps his promise. This time, I’m inclined to think the Magnetic Fields deliver the goods.

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Shopping list for Waterloo Records storewide sale, Apr. 3-6

Waterloo Records holds two storewide sales every year — one after SXSW, and another before the Christmas rush.

Somehow, they seem to coincide with dry spells, when I’m not particularly covetous of anything in particular. When the sales are over, then I’ll realize, "Huh, I kind of wanted to get that." So I’m making a shopping list.

[UPDATE, 04/06/08, 11:26 PM] The sale is over, and I ended up with pretty much everything I wanted. Thing is, I didn’t actually buy some of these items from Waterloo. New comments are in italics.

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Favorite edition 1997

The first version of this list, made at the end of 1997, looks vastly different from its current incarnation. Four titles from that list remain — everything else is a revisionist addition.

1997 was a transitional year for me. I wrapped up the final semester of working at the school newspaper, and immediately following, I moved to Austin for work. The lists from this year onward contain far more titles than ranking slots, on account of a disposable income. A regular paycheck does wonders to fix a collecting jones.

As a result, I would acquire a number of 1997 titles in subsequent years, but I’m ranking them anyway, regardless of when I first discovered them.

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On the playlist, or I survived SXSW and all I got was this lousy flu

I thought the fits of coughing on Sunday were because I smoked my way through a pack of cigarettes over the four nights of the SXSW music festival. I can usually make a pack last a month. I thought the coughing would subside by the next day, but it didn’t.

In fact, I didn’t sleep a wink on Sunday night, and come Monday morning, I was running a fever of 100.5. I’ve missed this entire week of work because I got knocked out by the flu.

The only thing I’ve managed to do all week is watch reruns of Law and Order and Star Trek Voyager on cable. I’ve actually managed to stay away from the computer, which is kind of refreshing. Still, it would be nice to feel like something other than total crap.

Fish and visitors stink after three days. I’ve had this flu for five. It can go away now, please.

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Favorite edition 1996

As a year in music, 1996 was ambiguous. Alternative rock was starting to run its course with grunge evolving into nü metal. Labels were scrambling to find the next cash cow to replace alt-rock’s diminishing returns, and many started to look to underground dance music.

I can’t say I paid much attention. 1996 was my senior year in college, and I was up past my eyeballs with college newspaper stuff. Most of the titles in my collection from that year were follow-up albums by artists to whom I had already been listening. I didn’t really have time to discover anything new.

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What was no. 1 on the day I was born

According to This Day in Music, the following songs were No. 1 on the day I was born:

  • UK: "Amazing Grace" by The Pipes and Drums and Military Band of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
  • US: "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack
  • Australia: "Without You" by Nilsson

I just went to to stream "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". I remember hearing the song when I was a kid, and as undeveloped as my musical senses were, I liked it. Hearing it again as an adult, I have to appreciate the minimal arrangement and what seems to be a very modal melody. Flack delivers a spine-tingling performance. I approve.

As for the UK and Australia, I don’t know what they were thinking.

Rinka Maki/KbN/Damage/toddle/hey willpower, SXSW 2008, March 15, 2008

Because Japanese showcases at SXSW draw capacity crowds, anyone who actually wants to see a particular performer pretty much has to commit to sitting through all the bands that come before it. I was glad, then, that toddle was given the 11 p.m. slot — that meant I could leave after their showcase.

Of course, that also meant watching three other performers before then. When I first started attending Japan Nite, I was open to anything. These days, I have a sense of what gets programmed for Japan Nite, and I can tell which performers will interest me. Or not.

Rinka Maki started the evening with a cabaret-style showcase featuring classic songs, some with new lyrics in Japanese. I even heard snatches of Hawaiian music.

Rinka’s recordings are big affairs, with full orchestras and big bands. Her showcase, however, pared that band to a standard piano trio, and her choice of material tended not to be so boisterous.

I’m pretty sure, however, most of the straight guys in the audience weren’t paying much attention to the music. I bet some of them were busting a nut. Rinka’s impossibly blue outfit paid homage to the sailor-suit uniform of Japanese school girl’s while revealing a number of important … assets. Hold up your pinky finger — that’s her figure.

I bet she sold a lot of merchandise.

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