So let’s get to the bottom line: Was it worth redeeming airline miles, reserving a hotel, buying a right tier ticket and traveling from Seattle, Wash. to Berkeley, Calif. to watch a 4 1/2-hour opera by Philip Glass?
The short answer is yes. Yes, it was worth it.
Did Einstein on the Beach turn me from a passing Philip Glass fan to a Glassian acolyte? No, it did not. I like Glass as much now than I did before.
If anything, my fear was traveling 673 miles (according to available statistics on Grindr) only to end up at a non-offensive, non-denominational school play. So many navels have been subjected to deep staring when discussing the cultural impact of Einstein on the Beach that it’s almost ripe for disappointment.
Like that time I rented Pulp Fiction from the video store.
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So far this year, no album has made me fall in love with it. At the same time, a lot of albums have been vying for my affection to various levels of success.
As a result, the list is in a lot of flux at the moment. In previous years, a few albums usually manage to put a stranglehold on their rankings, leaving the stragglers to fight out for the bottom ranks. This year, I’m actually hesitant to rank anything until December.
If there has been anything definite, it’s the disappointments. Hello, Valtari. Sorry, Royal Wood.
So here, then, are the contenders for the year-end Favorite Edition list with preliminary ranking:
- Santigold, Maker of My Make-Believe
- Jeremy Denk, Ligeti/Beethoven
- Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE: I didn’t even hear about Frank Ocean till the gay blogs started mentioning his coming out as bisexual. I have no expertise on what makes a good R&B album. All I know is that channel ORANGE appeals to me. In strange way, it reminds me of James Blake’s self-titled album, though both albums are pretty far apart on the musical spectrum.
- Scissor Sisters, Magic Hour: I like looking at Jake Shears when he’s wearing as few clothes as possible, but I wouldn’t want him to serenade me. While I’ve mostly been ambivalent to Scissor Sisters in the past, Magic Hour, for some inexplicable, reason has charmed my pants off. Jake, that is an invitation.
- Tokyo Jihen, Shinyawaku: I had previously listed Tokyo Jihen’s live album, Tokyo Collection, on this list, but Shinyawaku collects some of the band’s best material, most of which never made it to an album. “Kao” and ” Pinocchio” stand out in particular.
- ZAZEN BOYS, Stories: ZAZEN BOYS III still makes me cautious to jump into new ZAZEN BOYS material, but Stories turns out to continue the sober streak forged on ZAZEN BOYS 4. Make no mistake — this album is still all sorts of angular, but Mukai Shuutoku and company actually maintain the kind of focus ZAZEN BOYS III failed to subvert.
- TOUMING MAGAZINE, TOUMING MAGAZINE FOREVER: Of course, if you still miss NUMBER GIRL hard, there’s always TOUMING MAGAZINE.
- Duran Duran, A Diamond in the Mind
- Gossip, A Joyful Noise: I think I’m finally making peace with the fact Gossip will not be the rock band that brought Standing in the Way of Control into the world. All that to say, this album is far better than Music for Men.
- ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Landmark
- Dead Can Dance, Anastasis
- FLiP, XX Emotion
- Lana del Rey, Lana del Rey
- Molotov, Desde Rusia con Amor
- OBLIVION DUST, 9 Gates of Bipolar
- Quruli, Rutsubo no Borutsu
- Tokyo Jihen, Tokyo Collection
- Fugazi, Repeater + 3 Songs
- Dead Can Dance, Aion
- John Lunn, Downton Abbey
- The Old 97’s, Too Far to Care (Deluxe Edition)
- Oriental Love Ring, In This World