Monthly Archives: April 2008

Favorite edition 1999

The original draft of this list contained a number of very unlikely titles, including ones by Robbie Williams, Jordan Knight and the Damnations TX. That list reflected what I was listening to at the time.

This new list is completely revisionist, with albums I would discover later outranking what I had listened to before. Thing is, I wasn’t terribly attached to the original list, and I had a sense most of what I put there was placeholder to start. The newer list now includes titles that make it incredibly difficult to put a revisionist spin further down the line.

It looks as if my burgeoning interest in Japanese music started that year. No, it was really February 2000 during a trip back home to Honolulu that spurred it on. But that’s early enough in the year for 1999 still to be pivotal.

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For Wayne Horvitz, when it rains, it pours

… especially since he lives in Seattle.

You wouldn’t know it by reading the news section of Wayne Horvitz’s site, but the jazz pianist has four CDs in the works, scheduled to arrive pretty much at the same time. In an interview with, Horvitz blames "some combination of idiocy and lack of planning" for the bounty of releases.

A new Gravitas Quartet album, One Dance More, is slated for release on April 8, according to the Songlines label web site. A visit to the New World Records site reveals Joe Hill: 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voices and Soloist was already released (on April 1, no less.)

The other two projects mentioned in the article, Varmint and a new Sweeter Than the Day album, looks like they’re self-released. Varmint is a covers project featuring Robin Holcomb and pedal steel guitarist Jon Hyde. Both CDs can be bought on the merchandise page of Horvitz’s site.

The only Grammy categories to which I pay attention

A while back, I linked to a Washington Post article describing the apathetic relationship between classical music and the Grammys. Oddly enough, the classical categories are the only ones I pay any mind.

It’s because the Grammys have a particular irrelevance in classical music circles that makes me interested in the nominees and winners more. If the classical world doesn’t really care about the awards, who cares enough to nominate and to vote?

I’m also distant enough from the classical categories not to be so derisive of its nominees. I wouldn’t question eighth blackbird’s nomination as much as I would Fergie’s.

Most of the titles in this round-up are 2008 Grammy nominees and winners, while others I just happen to be listening to at the time.

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A strong first quarter, depending on where you look

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the news about the US economy. The company for which I work actually told Wall Street it was going to dial down its expectations for the first quarter of 2008, and our stock price took a hit for it. (My options are, as usual, underwater.) It doesn’t help that this morning, I read an article stating the unemployment rate is rising faster than economists predicted.

So this first quarter is kind of sucking for American corporations.

But this site does not deal with matters of economy. It deals with matters of music, and the first quarter of 2008 has turned out to be quite fertile. I’m usually not impressed with the first quarter releases of any year, but this time, even albums I don’t absolutely adore are still really, really good.

The 2008 Q1 release schedule in Japan has been particularly notable.

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hey willpower: P.D.A.

hey willpower’s debut, Dance EP, was one of my favorite eMusic downloads of 2007. Imperial Teen guitarist Will Schwartz and musical partner Tomo channel a sincere love for radio pop into four songs devoid of hipster irony. These guys really do love their Rhianna.

P.D.A. was released in the UK in 2006, but it saw a stateside release in 2008. All four tracks of Dance EP appear on the album, which is handy since the EP itself doesn’t seem to be available in stores any more.

P.D.A. is perhaps the first album in a long time to make me smile.

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The Advocate names five emerging LGBT artists

I appreciate the Advocate for being perhaps the only publication to cover gay issues as hard news. I certainly wouldn’t turn to Out or DNA for that. And yet, I also turn to the news weekly to learn about gay musicians, which is kind of like turning to Newsweek or Time to figure out what the kids these days are listening to.

The magazine just published its 2008 music issue, and it’s got some terrific interviews with Broadway actor Cheynne Jackson, indie pioneer Bob Mould and dance music ally Moby. It also listed five emerging LGBT artists. Such recommendations tend to be hit or miss, mostly miss.

This time, the Advocate put its stamp of approval on the Shondes, Los Super Elegantes, Jake Walden, Team Gina and Steven Alvarado. So I did the 21st Century thing and jumped onto Myspace to check these artists out.

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