My Favorite Records from 2018, Two-Thirds the Way Outta Here (plus a middling report on and issuance from my sluggish writing mojo) (September 5th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

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My goal for blogging every day about my listening adventures has been blown to smithereens. We went on a long trip this summer, I was (happily, at least) jolted out of my daily rhythm, when we returned I began assaulting myself with the same old aggravating questions (why are you doing this? for whom? does the world need another music blog? you do realize you ain’t got beans to say, right)–and lo and behold, we’re in September and I haven’t posted for over a week–just three-four times in the last month.


It’s not like I haven’t been listening to music:

I indulged myself and bought some physical music from the great Chicago-by-way-of-Gary electronic visionary JLin, in anticipation of her new album, Autobiography, due near the end of this month. I am normally not a big fan of so-called EDM but lordy, her sounds just hypnotize me. She’s a young master of tone, rhythmic disruption, and ugly beauty. And you can dance to her. Far as the physical media goes? I just wanted to give her more money to make music with…


As a longtime devoted fan of the multi-reed magic of James Carter, I’ve long wondered about the Texas tenor John Hardee, whose composition “Lunatic” Carter covered back when he was a wunderkind. I managed to snag the above comp, which I’d never seen before, after trying to track down a source for Fresh Sounds releases; if you still buy CDs for some reason, I recommend it to you, as it specializes in reissues that might not even be streaming, if you can imagine that. Unsurprisingly, when you lay an ear to Hardee’s playing, you can hear what attracted Carter to it: it’s confidently lubricious, cool, controlled and randy all at the same time.


Speaking of saxophone, I love unabashedly such jazz records that explore black spiritual music (David Murray’s Spirituals and Archie Shepp’s Goin’ Home spring immediately to mind). I am an atheist, but I freely admit I get power, hope, and motivation from the best of these works. I’ve perhaps overdocumented on this blog that I think very highly of the free (but sometimes deceptively not) Poughkeepsie hornman and sensei Joe McPhee, a man whose catalog is impossible to touch the bottom of without a couple of oxygen tanks. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that McPhee released his own gospel record, nor was I surprised that it is ravishingly soulful without any compromising of the man’s improvisational principles. Whether he’s on reeds or brass–he speaks very clearly. Guess what? No YouTube. Also, I had to resort to SoulSeek. Just sayin’.


Welp, that’s it for recent listening I’m currently compelled to showcase. At least I’ve been keeping track of the albums from this calendar year that I am enjoying. We’re 67% of the way through this year, and I am going to need these releases to support me up to, through, and past the midterm elections–what records are you leaning on right now? Below are 130 LPs (we can still call them that, because they still play long) the teacher in me’d give a B+ or better. The Top 40, in bold, I’ve played over and over and tend to just get better to my earhole and soul, though a couple of recent releases (like The Necks, Mitski. and Blood Orange) I’m really just wagering that I’ll play over and over. In fact, I’m teaching (in a manner of speaking) Mitski tomorrow in my pop music/freshman comp class.

Note: I may be behind on reissues; I don’t rightly know.

  1. Tracy Thorn: Record
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  3. CupcaKe: Ephorize
  4. Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
  5. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
  6. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
  7. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
  8. JD Allen: Love Stone
  9. Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit
  10. Chloe x Halle: The Kids are Alright
  11. The Internet: Hive Mind
  12. Mitski: Be the Cowboy
  13. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  14. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  15. Lisbon Freedom Unit: Praise of Our Folly
  16. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  17. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  18. Parquet Courts: Wide Awake!
  19. Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub
  20. Orquesta Akokan: Orquesta Akokan
  21. Sidi Toure: Toubalbero
  22. Quelle Chris & Jean Grae: Everything’s Fine
  23. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  24. The Necks: Body
  25. Grupo Mono Blanco: ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz
  26. Elza Soares: Deus É Mulher
  27. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
  28. Blood Orange: Negro Swan
  29. Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair
  30. Pusha T: Daytona
  31. Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes
  32. Nidia: Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida
  33. Subtle Degrees: A Dance That Empties
  34. Kids See Ghosts: Kids See Ghosts
  35. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  36. James Brandon Lewis: Radiant Imprints
  37. Ken Vandermark / Klaus Kugel / Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner
  38. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  39. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
  40. Ivo Perlman and Matthew Shipp: Oneness
  41. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  42. The Thing: Again
  43. Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg
  44. Bombino: Deran
  45. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: An Angel Fell
  46. Dave Holland: Uncharted Territories
  47. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  48. Sarayah: Feel the Vibe
  49. Tierra Whack: Whack World
  50. Lori McKenna: The Tree
  51. Nas: Nasir
  52. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
  53. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel
  54. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  55. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  56. Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited
  57. Angelika Niescier: The Berlin Concert
  58. Beats Antique: Shadowbox
  59. Wynton Marsalis & Friends: United We Swing–Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas
  60. Jon Hassell: Listening To Pictures (Pentimento, Vol. One)
  61. Charge It to The Game: House with a Pool
  62. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  63. Anelis Assumpcão: Taurina
  64. The Beths: Future Me Hates Me
  65. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  66. Apolo: Live in Stockholm
  67. Mdou Moctar & Elite Beat: Mdou Moctar meets Elite Beat In a Budget Dancehall
  68. Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing
  69. Wussy: What Heaven is Like
  70. Kiefer: happysad
  71. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  72. Freddie Gibbs: Freddie
  73. Kamasi Washington: Heaven & Earth
  74. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy
  75. Shopping: The Official Body
  76. Young Mothers: Morose
  77. Ebo Taylor: Yen Ara
  78. Dana Murray: Negro Manifesto
  79. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  80. Shame: Songs of Praise
  81. Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures, Pt. 2
  82. Henry Threadgill: Dirt..and More Dirt
  83. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
  84. Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here?
  85. The Coup: Soundtrack to the Film Sorry to Bother You
  86. Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancesco: You’re Driving Me Crazy
  87. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  88. Marc Sinan & Oğuz Büyükberber: White
  89. Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis: Wild! Wild! Wild!
  90. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  91. Deaf Wish: Lithium Zion
  92. Jay Rock: Redemption
  93. MC Paul Barman: Echo Chamber
  94. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  95. Tal National: Tantabara
  96. Wilko Johnson: Blow Your Mind
  97. Rodrigo Amado (with Joe McPhee): History of Nothing
  98. Tony Molina: Kill the Lights
  99. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  100. Hop Along: Bark Your Head Off, Dog
  101. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  102. Tirzah: Devotion
  103. Silvana Estrada: Lo Sagrado
  104. Eddie Daniels: Heart of Brazil
  105. Big Freedia: Third Ward Bounce
  106. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  107. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  108. Busdriver: Electricity Is On Our Side
  109. Daniel Carter: Seraphic Light
  110. Dr. Michael White: Tricentennial Rag
  111. Hermit and the Recluse: Orpheus vs. The Sirens
  112. Migos: Culture II
  113. 03 Greedo: God Level
  114. Angélique Kidjo: Remain in Light
  115. Parliament: Medicaid Fraud Dogg
  116. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  117. The Carters: Everything is Love
  118. The Del McCoury Band: Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass
  119. Superorganism: Superorganism
  120. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet: Landfall
  121. Sleep: The Sciences
  122. Teyana Taylor: K.T.S.E.
  123. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyio
  124. The English Beat: Here We Go Love
  125. Ammar 808: Maghreb United
  126. Princess Nokia: A Girl Cried Red
  127. Santigold: I Don’t Want—The Gold Fire Sessions
  128. Nicki Minaj: Queen
  129. Chad Popper: A Popper People
  130. Fantastic Negrito: Please Don’t Be Dead


  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (Deluxe Reissue)
  2. Neil Young: Roxy—Tonight’s the Night
  3. Erroll Garner: Nightconcert
  4. Various Artists: Voices of Mississippi—Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
  5. Various Artists: Listen All Around: The Golden Age of Central and East African Music
  6. Gary Stewart: “Baby I Need Your Loving” / “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Day”
  7. Peter Brotzmann and Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros
  8. Bruce Springsteen: 1978/07/07 West Hollywood, CA
  9. Various Artists: Outlaws and Armadilloes
  10. The Revelators: In which the Revelators perform live renditions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook
  11. Against All Logic: 2012-2017
  12. Grant Green: Live at Oil Can Harry’s
  13. Entourage: Ceremony of Dreams—Studio Sessions & Outtakes 1972-1977
  14. Kuniyuki Takahashi: Early Tape Works 1986 – 1993 Volume 1
  15. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie
  16. Various Artists: Africa Scream Contest, Volume 2
  17. Wussy: Getting Better
  18. David Bowie: Santa Monica ‘72
  19. Mulatu Astatke & His Ethiopian Quintet: Afro-Latin Soul, Vols. 1 & 2
  20. The Beginning of the End: Funky Nassau

6 thoughts on “My Favorite Records from 2018, Two-Thirds the Way Outta Here (plus a middling report on and issuance from my sluggish writing mojo) (September 5th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

  1. I’m out here reading just about every post of yours. Keep it up if you can; you’ve got great taste and I really appreciate learning about the music you’re listening to and enjoying. I’m really hoping the elections this November will bring about a positive change. Records I’m leaning on: John Prine – The Tree Of Forgiveness, Orquesta Akokan – Orquesta Akokan, Neko Case – Hell-On, Marisa Monte – Universo Ao Meu Redor, Cachao – Master Sessions, Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul, Sonny Clark – Cool Struttin’, Irma Thomas – Time Is On My Side, Villa – Lobos – Bachianas Brasileiras, Thelonious Monk – Monk’s Dream.

    1. Thank you! I need to catch up with Marisa Monte and Villa-Lobos. I’m normally not given to disconsolation, but…it’s just waves. Music, books, spouse, friends…libations—have to count my blessings. Have a great day and may November bring change!

  2. If you want to check out “Bachianas Brasileiras” I recommend the Warner Classics recording with Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise conducted by Heitor Villa-Lobos himself and featuring soprano Victoria de los Angeles.

  3. Oh yeah, Phil, you should blog as much as you can – without endangering libation time. For someone with ear & head listening problems, a list of 130 + 20 is depressingly daunting. I’ll have to ponder it. I really liked the first Fantastic Negrito and didn’t know there was a second but my enthusiasm is tempered by seeing it at 130. What did you think of the first one? Is Grant Green’s Oil Can Harry’s the one in Vancouver where I did underage drinking and danced to live soul / r&b bands in the late ’60s? I guess I could check for myself. Does J. Monae’s continued high ranking mean that you have settled your opinion of it? Michael

  4. Hi, Michael! Sorry so slow–I’ve been quite busy. Thanks as always for reading and the encouragement. Honestly, I need to revisit the Monae soon–it’s been awhile–and I was underwhelmed by the first Fantastic Negrito album and not exactly overwhelmed by the new one. The just-released Swamp Dogg record, however, is a trip. Hope you’re doing well!

    1. Hi Phil, no “sorry” needed. I’m holding off on the Monae until you make up your mind. You are on the opposite side of Fantastic N. from me AND Greil M.! but different strokes and I’m not staking my reputation on it. I am waiting for the right chance (confluence of time + ear / head receptivity) to take the Swamp Dogg off the table and put it in the slot. And I think I’ve been stalling a bit b/c of how much I dig so much of his work and fear that the new gift will be a letdown – so, glad to know that you are tripping on it. Total destruction, Michael

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