WIDE AWAKE!: 85 Decent Records from This Trying Year–an Update (June 1st, 2018, Columbia, MO)

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Time for my end-of-the-month update of records that fly in the face of the commonly heard assumption/argument/untested hypothesis that all the good music’s already been made. Based solely on what I’ve heard–much, but I know ears that have taken in far more–this calendar year’s produced 85 records I’d give a B+ or better to (I’m a teacher–as much as I think grades are institutionalized violence), it’s what I’ve got. By the way, they are ranked in order of most powerful in their effects upon me to least–but even #76 reaches me.

It’s a damn great year, in particular, for creative, outspoken women (no surprise), improvising musicians, artists of color and guitar bands (how ’bout that?). And, as always, plenty of old digs are proving they still got game–including one of the very oldest, and very best.

You’ve got the power at your fingertips to stream any of these, so dig in; do what I made my students do, and just pick 5-10 you’ve never heard of and try two-three tracks from each. But do keep an open mind, and remember what millennium you’re traipsing around in.

  1. Tracy Thorn: Record
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  3. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  4. CupcaKe: Ephorize
  5. Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
  6. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
  7. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
  8. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
  9. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  10. Chloe x Halle: The Kids are Alright
  11. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  12. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  13. Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair
  14. Parquet Courts: Wide Awake!
  15. Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub
  16. Orquesta Akokan: Orquesta Akokan
  17. Sidi Toure: Toubalbero
  18. Quelle Chris & Jean Grae: Everything’s Fine
  19. Grupo Mono Blanco: ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz
  20. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
  21. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  22. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  23. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  24. Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg
  25. Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing
  26. Bombino: Deran
  27. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: An Angel Fell
  28. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  29. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel
  30. Peter Brotzmann and Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros
  31. Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes
  32. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  33. Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited
  34. Angelika Niescier: The Berlin Concert
  35. Charge It to The Game: House with a Pool
  36. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  37. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  38. Wussy: What Heaven is Like
  39. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  40. Marc Sinan & Oğuz Büyükberber: White
  41. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  42. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy
  43. Shopping: The Official Body
  44. The Thing: Again
  45. Ebo Taylor: Yen Ara
  46. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  47. Dana Murray: Negro Manifesto
  48. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  49. Pusha T: Daytona
  50. Shame: Songs of Praise
  51. Henry Threadgill: Dirt..and More Dirt
  52. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
  53. Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here?
  54. Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancesco: You’re Driving Me Crazy
  55. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  56. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  57. MC Paul Barman: Echo Chamber
  58. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  59. Tal National: Tantabara
  60. Rodrigo Amado (with Joe McPhee): History of Nothing
  61. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  62. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  63. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  64. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  65. Migos: Culture II
  66. Parliament: Medicaid Fraud Dogg
  67. Apolo: Live in Stockholm
  68. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  69. The Del McCoury Band: Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass
  70. Superorganism: Superorganism
  71. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet: Landfall
  72. Sleep: The Sciences
  73. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyio
  74. Various Artists: I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats
  75. Afternoon Freak: The Blind Strut
  76. Princess Nokia: A Girl Cried Red


  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (Deluxe Reissue)
  2. Neil Young: Roxy—Tonight’s the Night
  3. Gary Stewart: “Baby I Need Your Loving” / “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Day”
  4. The Revelators: In which the Revelators perform live renditions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook
  5. Against All Logic: 2012-2017
  6. Entourage: Ceremony of Dreams—Studio Sessions & Outtakes 1972-1977
  7. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie
  8. Various Artists: Africa Scream Contest, Volume 2
  9. Wussy: Getting Better

Short-shrift Division:

Nicole and sailed home from our vacation on the vibraphone mastery of the great Milt Jackson. I put five albums together on a playlist, but these two made leaving Excelsior Springs a shade less painless:

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