musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Earlier this month, I picked up the latest issue of Mojo Magazine with their annual “Best Albums” list. Once again there are a few predictable picks and more than a few head scratchers. Last year’s “Best” album, according to Mojo’s experts, was the Jack White solo album, Blunderbuss. Even though I’m not a big White Stripes fan, I succumbed to all the glowing reviews and decided to take a chance on the Jack White CD, but after listening to it over a dozen times the “genius” of it totally escaped me. And their choice for best album this year, Bill Callahan’s Dream River, is another one that I can’t quite figure out. I picked up a copy when I was in KL last month, but I just don’t hear any greatness on this one either. The new album by Elvis Costello and the Roots, one that’s also received rave reviews and one that I thought I’d love, is another one that I’m really struggling with. Other Mojo “best of the year” picks such as Nick Cave, John Grant, James Blake, Black Sabbath, Kanye West, and Arctic Monkeys are either perplexing choices or ones that don’t remotely appeal to me. But hey, you can’t like everything.


So what was my favorite album of the year? I enjoyed new albums by David Bowie, John Hiatt, Daft Punk, Eleanor Friedberger, Steve Earle, Deerhunter, Kings of Leon, Grant Hart, O.M.D., Jason Isbell, Slaid Cleaves, The Strokes, Empire of the Sun, Johnny Marr, Kurt Vile, Kim Richey, Local Natives, Phoenix, Dawes, Garland Jeffreys, Tift Merritt, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Phosphorescent, Yo La Tengo, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and many others. But to pick a “best” one out of the bunch would be an almost impossible task. Plus, there are plenty of new releases that I want to hear but still haven’t heard yet. I buy a lot of CDs every year, and even though I try to keep up with the latest releases, I’m not able to listen to everything that comes out. The selection of new releases is very much “hit and miss” here in Bangkok, and much better in Kuala Lumpur, but there are still a lot of things that I can’t find, so eventually I’ll end up having to order them online. But I’m in no hurry to hear all the latest. Good music doesn’t age or spoil. I still enjoy the hunt of browsing for real CDs in shops, so I’ll eventually get around to hearing new albums on my “want list” by Arcade Fire, Mavis Staples, Charles Bradley, Mikal Cronin, and Queens of the Stone Age.

Meanwhile, here are the latest CDs that I’ve been playing a lot lately; a few new releases, plenty of old ones, but all things that I enjoy listening to very much. Happy New Year!


Jackson 5 – Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls

Daft Punk – Random Access Memory

Surfer Blood – Pythons

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale – Buddy and Jim

Josh Rouse – Josh Rouse and The Long Vacations


Patty Griffin – Silver Bell

Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune

ZZ Top – La Futura

Joe Simon – The Power of Joe Simon

Joe Henderson – Canyon Lady


Various Artists – Something New To Do: The Philip Mitchell Songbook

Allen Toussaint – Songbook

Joan Armatrading – Starlight

Willy Deville – In New Orleans

Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm


Charlie Whitehead – Songs to Sing: Anthology 1970-78

John Jarvis – So Fa So Good

The Rumour – Not so much a Rumour, more a way of life

Mel and Tim – Only Good Guys Win in the Movies

Rick Nelson – Playing to Win


Final Solution – Brotherman (Original Soundtrack)

Bambino – Nomad

Ry Cooder and Corridos Famosos – Live

NRBQ – We Travel the Spaceways

Beach House – Bloom


Garland Jeffreys – Truth Serum

Stanley Turrentine – The Spoiler

Tired Pony – The Ghost of the Mountain

Art Blakey – Witch Doctor

Ron Sexsmith – Forever Endeavor


Various Artists – Play the Game: The XL and Sounds of Memphis Story

Jose Feliciano – No Jive: The Very Best of 1964-75

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Various Artists – Eccentric Soul: The Tragar and Note Labels

Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic


Rail Band – Belle Epoque 2: Mansa

North Mississippi All Stars – World Boogie is Coming

Belle and Sebastian – Third Eye Centre

John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

Darrell Banks – I’m the One Who Really Loves You: The Volt Recordings


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