For Those I Love, A Burgeoning List Including Lots of Long-Playing Lyricism–Best Rekkids, January 1 – November 1

October Observations:

I recently managed to talk former Vice UK music maven and FANGIRLS author Hannah Ewens into Zooming once again with my students at Stephens College to chat about her book (their required reading for my freshman comp/pop music class) and other related bits. She was smart, warm, funny, and curious about my students, as usual. A few days after her visit, in a glum mood, I happened upon her IG and noticed she was vaunting a group called For Those I Love (it’s also the name of the group’s album), which she’d just seen. Only it ain’t a group, it’s an Irishman named David Balfe, and his album captures a desperation for solace, connection, and dancefloor expiation I (and probably you) know all too well. Hadn’t heard of him, played the slab, instantly cheered up.

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten is the bassist for Norwegian jazz powerhouse The Thing. Dude just waxed an album, (Exit) Knarr, that features an instrumental texture, rhythmic variation, and conceptual focus that–to my amateur ear–tops anything his group’s ever released (and I love ’em). I liked it so much after three listens that I was willing to pay a hefty shipping cost for the vinyl. Never underestimate a Scandi jazzer–never.

Chuck Eddy has long been one of the best (and most open) music writers on the planet. He, too, offers monthly recommendations of interesting new musical offerings, and his latest featured a bit o’ metal, courtesy of lead Crystal Viper Marta Gabriel, Monster Magnet, and Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre . Metal is usually not my jam, especially modern metal (the worst excuse for singing I have ever heard, quite often), but the records Chuck anointed with a nice score all three a) are “cover albums” of throwback metal; b) mostly shine light on VERY obscure older songs (Joecephus’ album, a Nazareth tribute, is the exception); c) head-bang balls-out in a trad manner; and d) are a blast. I may be overrating them on this list–as is my wont when I put a list up right after I’ve heard something enjoyable–but maybe I’m not. Time will tell, but my wife Nicole loved all three, too, and I have my Marta Gabriel poster on my office wall.

I’ve probably listed 10 albums over the past five years that my students had to force on me because I made the gas face in class when they mentioned the artists involved. One of this year’s candidates is Willow Smith. The student who verbally twisted my arm is probably the best writer, thinker, and talker I’ve ever taught, and she understood my balking but reminded me that anyone can make a stunning record. I tried Willow’s lately I FEEL EVERYTHING and I must admit it is…powerful and dynamic. Thanks, Jadyn.

Thurst. I really enjoyed the first album, liked then forgot the second, and find myself amusedly intrigued by the conceptual thrust (not a typo) of the songs here. The structures and instrumental attack don’t demonstrate much variety, but the songs tickle me in a snide and sloppy way, so I’m going with it.

The excavation of transitional-period ’65 Trane playing A Love Supreme live with Pharoah Sanders and an expanded quartet had me on tenterhooks for months. I have a refined taste for racket, so reports of the classic suite being somewhat defiled bothered me not a whit; I’d also heard the fidelity was not the best, but these days I often wonder if the young writers who report this have ever heard ’60s-’70s vinyl bootlegs. Alas, though, while I value it, it’s not quite the mind-blower most others have reported. The performance wasn’t planned, and you can definitely hear that; Pharoah ain’t quite full Pharoah yet–his tenor “warbling” works much better on Live at the Village Vanguard Again; Trane’s too level in the mix, to my ear, and Elvin seems to be the one you’re really hearing most of the time (could be much worse, but it’s not a drummer date). Historically, it’s major, but as an absorbing, potentially compelling repeat-listen work, not so much.

bktherula: DEFINITELY one to watch! And, of course, hear. Sound, rhythm, words–a pretty complete package, and becoming ever more impressive.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids: not sure why these Neechie MCs aren’t being more frequently lifted among us music nerds, because they’ve hardly stepped wrong up to and including their new record. Third Nations-representing with accuracy, humor, passion, wildness (kids everywhere are nuts), reverence for the past–whaddya want? Well, maybe the beats aren’t all that varied, maybe there aren’t enough hooks, but I suspect they’re operating on the cheap, and I advise you just lean into the words and the delivery.

JPEG Mafia and Pink Siifu have made their most accessible albums. That probably sucks for many; I personally welcome it, and honestly think the move better justifies their respective reps.

BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list.

  1. Wild Up: Julius Eastman, Volume 1–Femenine
  2. Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim 
  3. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon 
  4. East Axis: Cool With That 
  5. Ka: Martyr’s Victory
  6. Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: (Exit) Knarr
  7. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman 
  8. Bob Dylan: Soundtrack to the film Shadow Kingdom (currently unavailable)
  9. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja
  10. No-No Boy: 1975 
  11. The Halluci Nation: One More Saturday Night
  12. Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introverted
  13. The Ebony Hillbillies: Barefoot and Flying (released 11/9/20)
  14. Peter Stampfel and Jeffrey Lewis: Both Ways
  15. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son 
  16. Mauricio Tagliari: Maô_Danças Típicas de Cidades Imaginárias
  17. Mickey Guyton: Remember Her Name
  18. William Parker: Painter’s Winter 
  19. Bktherula: Love Black
  20. Dave: We’re All Alone in This Together 
  21. Penelope Scott: Public Void  
  22. Paris: Safe Space Invader 
  23. Dawn Richard: Second Line  
  24. For Those I Love: For Those I Love
  25. Lady Gaga and Friends: Dawn of Chromatica
  26. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son  
  27. Sons of Kemet: Black to the Future 
  28. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa 
  29. Kalie Shorr: I Got Here by Accident
  30. Florian Arbenz: Conversations 2 & 3
  31. Ensemble 0: Julius Eastman’s Femenine 
  32. Moor Mother: Black Encyclopedia of the Air
  33. Jupiter and Okwess: Na Kozonga 
  34. Ches Smith and We All Break: Path of Seven Colors 
  35. Amythyst Kiah: Wary + Strange 
  36. Halsey: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
  37. William Parker: Mayan Space Station
  38. Pink Siifu: Gumbo’!
  39. Marta Gabriel: Metal Queen
  40. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Life After
  41. Dua Saleh: Crossover
  42. James McMurtry: The Horses and The Hounds
  43. Park Hye Jin: Before I Die
  44. Graham Haynes vs. Submerged: Echolocation 
  45. Tim Berne: Broken Shadows 
  46. Ashnikko: Demidevil  
  47. Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers: Set Me Free
  48. Monster Magnet: A Better Dystopia
  49. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg 
  50. JPEG MAFIA: “LP!”
  51. Dos Santos: City of Mirrors
  52. The Goon Sax: Mirror II 
  53. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty 
  54. Low-Cut Connie: Tough Cookies 
  55. girl in red: if I could make it go quiet 
  56. Jaubi: Nafs at Peace (featuring Latamik and Tenderlonious) 
  57. Czarface & MF DOOM: Super What? 
  58. Orquestra Brasileira: 80 Anos
  59. SAULT: Nine 
  60. McKinley Dixon: For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her 
  61. Slaughterhouse: Fun Factory
  62. Thurst: I’m Gen X
  63. Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir 
  64. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You 
  65. Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre: Heirs of the Dog
  66. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction) 
  67. L’Rain: Fatigue 
  68. Native Soul: Teenage Dreams
  69. Illuminati Hotties: Let Me Do One More
  70. Willow: lately i feel EVERYTHING
  71. Maria Muldaur & Tuba Skinny: Let’s Get Happy Together 
  72. Ran Cap Duoi: Ngù Ngay Ngày Tân Thê
  73. Blue Reality Quartet: Blue Reality Quartet
  74. Angelique Kidjo: Mother Nature 
  75. ICP Orchestra & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil: 062 / De Hondemepper 
  76. Body Metta: The Work is Slow 
  77. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW 
  78. BaianaSystem: OXEAXEEXU 
  79. Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough 
  80. Carly Pearce: 29—Written in Stone
  81. Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives 
  82. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few: Cosmic Transitions
  83. Andreas Roysum Ensemble: Fredsfanatisme
  84. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears 
  85. Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor: Long Tall Sunshine 
  86. JD Allen: Queen City 
  87. Florian Arbenz: Conversation # 1 Condensed
  88. Bleachers: Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night
  89. Angel Olsen: Aisles (EP)
  90. Emily Duff: Razor Blade Smile
  91. Kasey Musgraves: starcrossed
  92. The Boys with The Perpetual Nervousness: Songs from Another Life
  93. Vince Staples: Vince Staples
  94. Various Artists: Indaba Is 
  95. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom 
  96. Chris Conde: Engulfed in the Marvelous Decay
  97. Tropical Fuck Storm: Deep States
  98. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom 
  99. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs 
  100. Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses 
  101. Billie Eilish: Happier Than Ever
  102. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland 
  103. Los Lobos: Native Sons
  104. Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway—Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan 
  105. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales 
  106. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America 
  107. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth 
  108. Les Filles de Illighadad: At Pioneer Works 
  109. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP) 
  110. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: 11th Street, Sekondi 
  111. AZ: Do or Die
  112. Madlib: Sound Ancestors 
  113. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions 
  114. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley  
  115. Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying 
  116. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go 
  117. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine  
  118. Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club 
  119. Brockhampton: Roadrunner—New Light, New Machine 
  120. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy 
  121. Olivia Rodrigo: SOUR 
  122. RP Boo: Established 
  123. The Bug: Fire
  124. Steve Earle: JT 
  125. Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever 
  126. Benny The Butcher: Pyrex Picasso
  127. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos
  128. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy  
  129. Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls: Living in the Last Days 
  130. Alder Ego: III 
  131. Sierra Ferrell: Long Time Coming
  132. Alton Gün: Yol 
  133. WC Anderson and Chad Fowler: Lacrimosa
  134. Meet Me @ The Altar: Model Citizen (EP) 
  135. Penelope Scott: Hazards (EP)
  136. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises 
  137. Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans 
  138. serpentwithfeet: DEACON 
  139. Aluna: Higher Ground—Testaments

Archaeological Digs

  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony  
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street
  3. Kiko Kids Jazz: Tanganyika Na Uhuru
  4. Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York
  5. Various Artists: A Stranger I May Be—Savoy Gospel 1954-1966 
  6. Plastic People of The Universe: Apokalyptickej pták  
  7. Roy Brooks: Understanding
  8. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket
  9. Agustin Pereyra Lucena Quartet: La Rana
  10. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme—Live in Seattle
  11. Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977
  12. Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975
  13. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame
  14. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy
  15. Various Artists: Wallahi Le Zein! 
  16. Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop 
  17. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 
  18. Various Artists: Chicago / The Blues / Today, Volumes 1-3 # 
  19. The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A
  20. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album
  21. Alice Coltrane: Kirtan–Turiya Sings 
  22. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire 
  23. Blue Gene Tyranny: Degrees of Freedom Found
  24. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork
  25. Pure Hell: Noise Addiction
  26. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits
  27. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay
  28. Joe Strummer: Assembly
  29. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing # 
  30. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1
  31. Joseph Spence: Encore
  32. Various Artists: Rare.wavs, Volume 1
  33. Bob Dylan: Springtime in New York 1980-1985 (2CD version)

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