Favorite Edition 2012: Quarter three

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:

  1. Santigold, Maker of My Make-Believe
  2. Jeremy Denk, Ligeti/Beethoven
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. TOUMING MAGAZINE, TOUMING MAGAZINE FOREVER: Of course, if you still miss NUMBER GIRL hard, there’s always TOUMING MAGAZINE.
  8. Duran Duran, A Diamond in the Mind
  9. 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.

Honorable mentions:

  • 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

Favorite catalog:

  • 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


  1. You know I was pretty shocked that Stories even came out. It had been a good long 4 years since 4 and I only found it (unceremoniously I might add) after looking up ZB on iTunes. Upon initial listen I was rather underwhelmed. Ghost of a Cyborg and Potato Salad made for a rollicking opener and Stories was a definite bright spot but I felt like much of it seemed like a retread of what had come before. The more I listened though, the more I realized that this was perhaps the most focused album they’ve ever delivered. There really aren’t any filler tracks or overlong sections of indulgent, head scratching inducing noodling, and it had a better flow than previous albums. Everything just seems more economical, from the lyrics to the instrumentation. I’m glad I wasn’t let down in the end.

    1. I think there are a few tracks on “Stories” that are actually tuneful. That guitar hook in “Heartbreak” is catchier than anything Mukai did with NUMBER GIRL.

      This might become my favorite ZAZEN BOYS album, although I should listen to ZB 4 again just to make sure.

  2. So, I’m a music whore for sure, and I thought what a great name for a blog! And so did you, which makes me say, right on. Kudos. I will read all your entries and salute you.

  3. I think the title track Stories is better than anything on 4, and I love how Doronuma flows into it as the two are counterparts on the album sharing e same set of lyrical imagery: http://www.mukaishutoku.com/images/stories/stories_lyrics_trans.pdf

    Cool fact is that Leo Imai translated the above. Stories is just the most well balanced album they’ve put out, where the electronics don’t overwhelm the band’s composition, and Mukai and crew show much greater restraint compared to past efforts. Even the jam oriented Doronuma has a concise groove underneath all the synth noodling. And I agree about the guitar line in Heartbreaker, I think Mukai’s most memorable riffs are his most simplistic, Sentimental Girl’s Violent Joke is another one that always stuck out to me.

    Oh and you might wanna give Sakanaction’s Documentaly a listen as well. I thought that was a great album even if I discovered it a little late.

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