7 and 0 Is?: The Best Alblums* of The Year from Hell (so far), Cool August Day Edition (*Blame it on Don Julio)

MY 2020 TOP 40. This shit has for real kept me from losing my mind this month.

Items that are bolded are new to the list. Also, I whittled my list down considerable to 50 instead of 200. I just can’t keep up right now.

I have added quick glib-takes on some new stuff.

————————————————————————————————————————-

1. Run The Jewels: RTJ 4 (has great beats, you can dance, think and act to it)

2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining

3. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (wearing on me a tad but big points for guts and sheer talent)

4. SAULT: Untitled (Black Is) (lots of folks trying to make their mark in this year of serious social justice demanding, not sure if this isn’t the most irresistible force)

5. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected (one of the greatest Mardi Gras Indian albums ever, and those are never bad)

6. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful

7. Boldy James & The Alchemist: The Price of Tea in China (straight outta Deee-troit, weary like GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE, but straight-shootin’ with fetching beats)

8. Body Count: Carnivore

9. Anna Högberg Attack: lena (One of the greatest young alto saxophonists alive in the midst of an exciting growth spurt)

10. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI (on the basis of intricacy and artistic control alone, a future cult classic)

11. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved

12. Cornershop: England is a Garden

13. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons (band name and album title of the year, based on music’s justification of same)

14. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite (Lomax is a gift to the country–check out his Friday YouTube lunch-hour meditations, which have left me happily weeping–and this condenses a monumental multi-disc project)

15. The Third Mind: The Third Mind

16. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs

17. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)

18. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn:Quit Rappin

19. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl

20. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History

21. Bob Dylan: My Rough and Rowdy Ways (old fucker keeps on keepin’ on with the stickin’ and movin’)

22. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You

23. Kesha: High Road

24. Thiago Nassif: Mente (tropicalia lives!!!)

25. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia

26. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks

27. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia

28. Mike & The Moonpies: Touch of You–The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart (yeah, that’s right, there are songs Gary wrote and didn’t record, and a band with that name actually does them justice, just by CARING)

29. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau

30. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires

31. Moses Sumney: grae

32. Psychedelic Furs: Made of Rain (he sounded old and jaded in his twenties; thus he’s right at home in 2020)

33. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou

34. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown

35. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene

36. Dehd: Flower of Devotion (A band that reminds me of five bands I can’t name that I love. Rock and roll is like that)

37. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place

38. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)

39. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)

40. Quin Kirchner: The Shadows and The Light

41. Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed

42. Asher Gamedze: Dialectic Soul (an ambitious new voice in South African jazz)

43. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d

44. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours

45. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here (not my normal bag, but the other day it ripped open my chest, stuck its fist in, and squeezed)

46. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today

47. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It

48. Julianna Barwick: Healing is a Miracle (it is–I can fucking vouch–and her voice and noise help the process along)

49. Conway the Machine & The Alchemist: LULU (EP) (The Alchemist? Believe the hype)

50. Speaker Music: Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry (shit-stirring beats, noise, and occasional words that’s just right for right now, man)

 

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

  1. Wussy: Ghosts
  2. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  3. Luiz Carlos Vinhas: O Som Psicodelico De L. C. V.
  4. Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms 1970-1982
  5. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  6. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  7. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  8. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  9. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  10. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  11. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  12. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  13. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  14. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  15. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  16. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  17. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  18. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  19. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  20. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  21. Lee Scratch Perry: Play On, Mr. Music
  22. Various Artists: Maghreb K7 Club–Synth Rai, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997)
  23. Brother Theotis Taylor
  24. Black Ark Players: Black Ark In Dub
  25. Various Artists: Black Ark, Volume 2

Halfway There, Halfway Gone: Hottest Platters of 2020, 1 January to 30 June

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I got nuthin’ but the list. Bolded items are newly added. Some items have shifted rankings.

  1. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 4
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  4. Kesha: High Road
  5. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways
  6. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  7. Body Count: Carnivore
  8. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  9. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  10. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons
  11. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved (it’s late ‘19, actually)
  12. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  13. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  14. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  15. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  16. SAULT: UNTITLED (Black is)
  17. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  18. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  19. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)
  20. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  21. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  22. Various Artists: Music in Support of Black Mental Health
  23. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  24. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  25. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  26. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  27. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn: Quit Rappin
  28. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  29. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  30. Moses Sumney: grae
  31. Various Artists: New Tangents In Kampala, London & Nairobi Vol.  1 (EP)
  32. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  33. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  34. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  35. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)
  36. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  37. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  38. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou
  39. Chicago Underground: Good Days
  40. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  41. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  42. Quin Kirchner: The Shadows and The Light
  43. The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
  44. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  45. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  46. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today
  47. Luka Productions & Kandiafa: Music from Saharan WhatApp, Volume 6 (EP)
  48. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  49. The Necks: Three
  50. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here
  51. fra fra: Funeral Songs
  52. Les Amazones d’Afrique: Amazones Power
  53. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
  54. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  55. Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
  56. Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
  57. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  58. McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
  59. Various Artists: Sahel Sounds Sampler 2
  60. X: Alphabetland
  61. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  62. Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
  63. Sabir Mateen, et al: Survival Situation
  64. Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
  65. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  66. Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem
  67. STRFKR: Future Past Life
  68. Sunwatchers: Brave Rats (EP)
  69. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
  70. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  71. GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
  72. El Alfa: El Androide
  73. Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
  74. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  75. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  76. Elysia Crampton: ORCORARA 2010
  77. Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
  78. Shopping: All for Nothing
  79. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  80. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  81. Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t
  82. Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
  83. Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed
  84. Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
  85. Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation
  86. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  87. Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
  88. Onipa: We No Be Machine
  89. Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
  90. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
  91. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  92. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  93. Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
  94. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  95. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  96. Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
  97. John Anderson: Years
  98. Natural Child: California Hotel
  99. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  100. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  101. Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
  102. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  103. MONO: Before The Past
  104. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  105. Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
  106. Dramarama: Color TV
  107. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  108. Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
  109. Lakecia Benjamin: Pursuance—The Coltranes
  110. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  111. Thundercat: It is What it Is
  112. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  113. Dogleg: Mellee
  114. Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
  115. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  116. Meredith Monk: Memory Game
  117. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  118. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
  119. Pink Siifu: NEGRO
  120. Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

  1. Wussy: Ghosts
  2. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  3. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  4. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  5. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  6. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  7. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  8. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  9. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  10. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  11. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  12. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  13. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  14. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  15. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  16. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  17. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  18. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  19. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)
  20. The Viscaynes: The Viscaynes and Friends

Expect The Unexpected: My Favorite 100 Records of This Year on 🔥 🔥 🔥.

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Due to the unexpected death of a great friend, I have been in “4M” mode: Medicatin’ Myself Mostly with Miles.” Another Davis, Lockjaw, has been providing more traditional relief (the blues stomping out the blues), but new music hasn’t been able to elbow in and make much impact. 79rs Gang, a team-up by 7th and 9th Ward Mardi Gras Indian chiefs, released their second straight great album, both available on Sinking City. The first, Fire on the Bayou, was as stripped-down as a mess of Indian chants has ever gotten; the new one, Expect the Unexpected, is as impure as one has ever dared. Little Simz and Sunwatchers purt-near knocked me out with punch-packing EPs, the former gaining more confidence and edge with each new song, the latter barely able to contain their joyous in-all-directions energy. Despite seeming to have blown his voice out, Steve Earle delivered his best songs in years, the product of a more ambitious previous project, I believe. Les Amazones d’Afrique and the Saharan cellphone-foisting legions of Sahel Sounds offered two intriguingly varied and effective sets…and that about does it for fresh musical crank-turning in my world. Where are The Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell, you may be asking? I do not like those albums. Lady Gaga? Something tells me I need her pronto, but I’ve yet to get to it. Maybe next month if the whole circus hasn’t imploded.

Below are my Still-Warm 100, followed by 15 issuances of music recorded in earlier years. Bolded items correspond to the above album covers; they are new to the list. Also, someone lost the top slot, but she’s doin’ alright.

  1. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  2. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  3. Run The Jewels: RTJ 4
  4. Kesha: High Road
  5. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  6. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  7. Body Count: Carnivore
  8. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  9. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  10. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved (it’s late ‘19, actually)
  11. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  12. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  13. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  14. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  15. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  16. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  17. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  18. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  19. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  20. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  21. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  22. Moses Sumney: grae
  23. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  24. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  25. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  26. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  27. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  28. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  29. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  30. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  31. Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
  32. Chicago Underground: Good Days
  33. Les Amazones d’Afrique: Amazones Power
  34. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  35. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  36. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  37. Various Artists: Sahel Sounds Sampler 2
  38. The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
  39. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  40. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  41. The Necks: Three
  42. fra fra: Funeral Songs
  43. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
  44. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  45. Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
  46. Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
  47. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  48. McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
  49. X: Alphabetland
  50. Sabir Mateen, et al: Survival Situation
  51. Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
  52. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  53. Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem
  54. Sunwatchers: Brave Rats (EP)
  55. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  56. GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
  57. El Alfa: El Androide
  58. Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
  59. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  60. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  61. Elysia Crampton: ORCORARA 2010
  62. Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
  63. Shopping: All for Nothing
  64. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  65. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  66. Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t
  67. MONO: Before The Past
  68. Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
  69. Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
  70. STRFKR: Future Past Life
  71. Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation
  72. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  73. Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
  74. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
  75. Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
  76. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
  77. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  78. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  79. Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
  80. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  81. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  82. Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
  83. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  84. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  85. Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
  86. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  87. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  88. Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
  89. Dramarama: Color TV
  90. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  91. Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
  92. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  93. Thundercat: It is What it Is
  94. Amaria Hamadahler: Music from Saharan Whats App 5
  95. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  96. Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
  97. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  98. Meredith Monk: Memory Game
  99. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  100. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
  101. Pink Siifu: NEGRO
  102. Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA

REISSUED AND NEWLY ISSUED OLDER MUSIC

  1. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  2. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  3. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  4. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  5. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  6. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  7. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  8. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  9. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  10. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  11. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  12. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  13. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  14. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  15. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)

 

“Close the Door, Richard”

Richard

When I was 18, few if any legit Little Richard records were in print (or otherwise available in southwest Missouri). Also, unbelievable but true, I had never heard a song of his on the radio. I HAD read about him: “anarchy in the USA,” someone wrote. That sounded irresistible. As a freshman in college, somewhere I read that this album was available through Rather Ripped Records in California. $20 was a fortune for me then but I wrote a check and mailed it off.

When the record arrived, I stopped everything I was doing and put it on. A second or two of silence, then “Long Tall Sally” EXPLODED out of the speakers. Whatta voice! Whatta band! What an attack! I think I listened to it 10 times that day. It’s hard for streamers to understand the feeling of only being able to read about some incredible music but not find it–true for many of us until the CD boom brought forth a reissue boom–and this hit collection lived up to everything I’d ever read about Richard’s music, in fact surpassed it. It’s still my gold standard for first impressions. No album has ever so immediately convinced me. I was so convinced I wrote a short story around it (the only one I’ve ever written) two weeks after I got it in the mail. And the album art and message? Effing perfect.

He lived a long, sometimes tortured, painful, and lonely life, and you can probably listen to everything essential he ever recorded in a couple of hours–he wasted no time on wax–but make no mistake: he was a giant. A giant who has intriguingly continued to be very important and inspiring in different ways over the years. We shall not see his like again.

Open Up, and Say “Uhhhhh…NO!” – The Best Long-Players of 2020 So Far

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Lots of movement on and additions to my updated list. 100 104 106 107 total good new releases is pretty good for four months in; I’ve heard it said that, other than Fiona Apple’s offering (seeming to excite everyone, including this previous tire-kicker), no one’s dropped a classic yet. I’d add Makaya McCraven’s GSH interp to that, goldarn Kesha continues to be a shot in this malaise’s arm, Lewis and Taylor wail on their new live duet, the inspired Irish folk-punk Jinx Lennon has given me more than I can quickly absorb (but it’s raised a little chicken skin during two listens), Lido Pimienta’s pop-folk schizo-concept album has come up the chart like gangbusters,  X’s comeback is slowly growing on me, and HOLY SMOKE Anna Hogberg Attack’s lena is a huge leap forward from a predecessor that was superb–in a word, time (and there’s plenty of it) has a way of conveying power onto a work of art, so we’ll wait and see.

2020 (January 1 – April 30): A Bad Time for Most Anything But Music, Part 5

Note: Bolded items are new to the ongoing 2020 list.

  1. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. Kesha: High Road
  4. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  5. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  6. Body Count: Carnivore
  7. Anna Hogberg Attack: lena
  8. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  9. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved (it’s late ‘19, actually)
  10. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  11. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  12. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  13. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  14. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  15. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  16. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  17. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  18. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  19. Mdou Moctar: Mdou Moctar Mixtape, Volume 1
  20. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  21. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  22. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  23. Chicago Underground: Good Days
  24. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  25. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  26. The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
  27. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  28. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  29. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  30. The Necks: Three
  31. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  32. Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
  33. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  34. Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
  35. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  36. McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
  37. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  38. Moses Sumney: grae
  39. X: Alphabetland
  40. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  41. Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
  42. Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
  43. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
  44. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  45. STRFKR: Future Past Life
  46. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
  47. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  48. GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
  49. Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
  50. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  51. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  52. Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
  53. Shopping: All for Nothing
  54. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  55. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  56. Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
  57. Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
  58. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  59. Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
  60. Onipa: We No Be Machine
  61. Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
  62. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
  63. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  64. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  65. Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
  66. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  67. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  68. Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
  69. John Anderson: Years
  70. Natural Child: California Hotel
  71. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  72. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  73. Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
  74. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  75. MONO: Before The Past
  76. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  77. Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
  78. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  79. Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
  80. Lakecia Benjamin: Pursuance—The Coltranes
  81. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  82. Moses Boyd: Dark Matter
  83. Thundercat: It is What it Is
  84. Kassa Overall: I Think I’m Good
  85. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  86. Dogleg: Mellee
  87. Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
  88. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  89. Meredith Monk: Memory Game
  90. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  91. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
  92. Pink Siifu: NEGRO
  93. Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

  1. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  2. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  3. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  4. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  5. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  6. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  7. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  8. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  9. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  10. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  11. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  12. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  13. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  14. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)

Explosions: Music and Viruses – 65 Solid Platters to Spin or Stream, and You Have Time (January 1 – April 1)

 

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You may be staying in for a spell, but very good records are coming out–by the bazillion. If your income stream has not been pinched or cut off entirely, try to support your favorite record stores, most of which are thrilled to conscientiously ship items to you, and Bandcamp, where you can help music makers much more directly and often at bargain prices by purchasing their work. Yesterday, I spent $50 with one of the best shops I know of, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Lagniappe Records, and a few weeks ago I dropped $100 with Bandcamp on a day that 100% of consumer cash was being directed to artists represented there. I also hope to assist Columbia’s own Hitt Records in continuing to be Mid-Missouri’s finest. I know I am fortunate to be able to do so.

I’ve listened to 55 releases of fresh music I know I will listen to again with pleasure; call them B+ or 8.5s/10 or better. In addition, 10 reissues of previously hard to find old releases and new issues of music recorded in olden times have convinced me to buy or download them. Enjoy the slideshow of album covers above and imagine your flippin’ through the stacks; try the YouTube “store jukebox” below to sample some of the music I’m touting. Here’s my list, and I’ve checked it thrice. Keep calm, carry on, take care of yourself and those around you, and make time to apply sound salve to your soul at least once a day.

Items in bold are new to the list.

2020 (January 1 – April 1): A Bad Time for Most Anything But Music

  1. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  2. Kesha: High Road
  3. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  4. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  5. Chicago Underground Quartet: Good Days
  6. Body Count: Carnivore
  7. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  8. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved
  9. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  10. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  11. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  12. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  13. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  14. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  15. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  16. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  17. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  18. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  19. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  20. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  21. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  22. The Necks: Three
  23. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  24. Moses Sumney: grae
  25. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  26. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  27. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  28. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  29. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  30. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  31. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  32. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  33. Shopping: All for Nothing
  34. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  35. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  36. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  37. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  38. Onipa: We No Be Machine
  39. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  40. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  41. Natural Child: California Hotel
  42. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  43. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  44. MONO: Before The Past
  45. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  46. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  47. Lakecia Benjamin: Pursuance—The Coltranes
  48. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  49. Moses Boyd: Dark Matter
  50. Kassa Overall: I Think I’m Good
  51. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  52. Dogleg: Mellee
  53. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  54. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  55. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

  1. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  2. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  3. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  4. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  5. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  6. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  7. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  8. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  9. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  10. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)

 

Reaching for My Third Mind (My 25 Favorite Releases from 2020)

 

It’s a good bet lately that when I initially scoff at the news of a new release, you should place your bets against me. Cases in point:

Me, scoffing: “Dave Alvin’s doing a psych-rock album? Smells desperate. Reality: I can’t believe I’ve played this five times in three days. (Note: it’s also a covers album, which is something that always both intrigues me and smells funny, but Alvin and his Campers knock all but the 13th Floor Elevators tune out of the box.)

Me, scoffing: “A Moses Sumney double-album? I couldn’t get through one last time–too sensitive for me. Reality: He’s on some serious new shit.

Me, scoffing: “Two Princess Nokia albums at once? She couldn’t quite sell an EP last time, and who does she think she is, Axl Rose? Bruce Springsteen? Reality: Dude, do you even remember 1992?

Me, scoffing: “Do we really need another complaining grrrrl punk outfit that didn’t check that other acts are called Mr. Wrong? Reality: YES.

I could end up having been correct on my first impulse, but I doubt it. Nothing below’s been FULLY road-tested but the top seven.

  1. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  2. Kesha: High Road
  3. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  4. Fat Tony and Taydex:Wake Up
  5. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  6. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  7. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved
  8. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  9. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  10. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  11. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  12. Moses Sumney: grae
  13. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  14. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  15. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  16. Shopping: All for Nothing
  17. Natural Child: California Hotel
  18. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  19. MONO: Before The Past
  20. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  21. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  22. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  23. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  24. Moses Boyd: Dark Matter
  25. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)

 

Hey! A Top 10 Popped Out!

PLEASE SHUFFLE THE ABOVE!

Shoulda waited a day to post last time: turns out Friday was a pretty good one for new music, good enough for me to cobble together a 2020 Top 10 list! You can all breathe a sigh of relief for me! And maybe for the year, because 2019 was a hard act to follow.

I’m not saying these are all just freakin’ stellar, not just yet–I have simply actively enjoyed these to the tune of at least two reps. I am Halsey novice and am frankly under the influence of Hannah Ewen’s FANGIRLS chapter on her. Apparently, Kesha’s on some throwback shit, but that album makes me happy. The new album by crafty Texan Terry Allen isn’t enough like Moby Dick to avoid slightly disappoint me, but–a lot like Michael Hurley–Allen zings you several times right as you’re about to nod off. This is the third iteration of GSH’s final recordings–it’s already been reimagined once–but McCraven’s magic makes it the best. The Buenos Aires recordings were released in late 2019, so I’m cheating–but dang they’re good! Chris Kirkley has 11 more Saharan WhatsApp EPs, one per month, coming our way. I think Fat Tony is the most underrated rapper in America, but I lean more toward words and concept than beats and flow. Shopping’s other albums didn’t really move me completely, but their Pylon-cum-Gang of Four actually has me wanting to (wanting to) dance this time–dance in the dumpster fire. Full disclosure: my history of personal interactions with Natural Child, newly emerged from a chastening that led to a hiatus and that I trust they took seriously, probably causes me to overrate them, but their return is much less bland and much more weird than their previous two records. The mercurial music scribe Phil Freeman’s morning tweet about previously-unknown-to-me Mythic Sunship delivered a tenth item…and Bob Xgau’s your uncle:

  1. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  2. Kesha: High Road
  3. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  4. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  5. Shopping: All for Nothing
  6. Mythic Sunship: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  7. Natural Child: California Hotel
  8. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP) (hear the whole thing above)
  9. MONO: Before The Past
  10. (Tie) Terry Allen and The Panhandle Mystery Band: Just Like Moby Dick / Halsey: Manic

 

 

 

 

What’s The Matter with Me?

I don’t have much to say. We’ve been buffeted by snow here in Misery, USA, so I’m definitely not sitting on a bank of sand, watching the river flow. I’m squirreled away down in my computer bunker, keeping cats from between me and the monitor, scrolling through my iTunes/Apple Music adds for 2020 and realizing I can’t even make a Top Five list of new records I have truly enjoyed–and I have listened to around 10. I’m also troubled by the fact that, while I was able to listen to more great new music than ever last year and effectively track my listening with the hopes of aiding readers, the sheer time, attention, and effort required–and, folks, I barely write, I’m just listing (slightly to the left–this danged labyrinthitis, I tell ya)–was at times reminiscent of twelve months on a fuel-injected gerbil wheel. Was it worth it, especially, as I said to a friend recently, that I don’t think I took (had?) the time to listen a Velvet Underground album in 2019? I’m not sure. Complain, complain. Perseverate, perseverate. That’s about all I ever write here.

So I’ll just substitute some music-related observations from January, some clearly related to future lists, if I ever make them:

1) Blossom Dearie. I resisted her for awhile because of that name and that voice. But didja know it’s her real name? And the voice–at first too little-girly, then gradually taking on nuance, humor, and weirdness–grows on one. I bought one of them Real Gone Music “Six Albums By” sets of Blossom (her first six albums for Norman Granz, which all happen to be pretty stellar end-to-end) and probably played it more than anything else last month. She was a great pianist, and she knew a great song.

2) Fania All-Stars. Hadn’t listened to ’em in a bit, then the above video sent me on a wild Discogs ride through their first-decade catalog. Talk about shit-hot.

3) Chrysalis’ Dance Craze VHS. In the Fishbone chapter of John Doe’s second LA punk oral history, More Fun in the New World, ’tis revealed how influential the above documentary was on the scene. Hell, I was wild, loose, and youfull in those days–why’d I not seen it? My quest to obtain it ended in two eBay disasters: the former seller cagily advertised it so a smarter consumer than I would have known it was a dub, which it was, and a BAD one, and an expensive one at that; since I had not been embarrassed enough for my liking and I still wanted it badly (“The end of all wanting / Is all I’ve been wanting”–yep, Mr. Berman), the latter one I ordered, legit, in great condition, and cheaper, only to find it was PAL-formatted and wouldn’t play on my VCR (yes, just a reminder that these are VHSes I’m talkin’ ’bout!). I was like, “Dude, you did not mention that in the listing; Dude was like, “Did you look at the photo of the VHS cover?” FOCK! Anyone need a PAL Dance Craze VHS for cheap? By God, I will HAVE it some day.

4) Drive-By Truckers and Kesha and Aroma Coffee Shop. Retirees like me have a tendency to drift to coffee shops and post up. I’ve never done this, but a new cafe opened up near my domicile that’s inviting and promising, so last Friday, I thought I might as well do as fellow geezers do and find a corner. Another motivator was some new records were just waiting for me to listen to: the DBTs’ The Unraveling and Kesha’s High Road. There was a time when anyone who knew me could easily predict my takes–accent on was, because I don’t truck with foolish consistency. From the looks of things, I am among the few to hear The Unraveling as sodden, merely topical, enervating, and possibly ominous in terms of the band’s future (what’s up with Cooley’s two–and not that great-songs?). I, too, believe that we have serious fucking problems in this country, but records like this one don’t help me. SPARK, man! SPARK! On the other hand, Kesha, an artist I’ve learned a lot about from teaching young students at a women’s college, has created something liberating, jubilant, triumphant–even if in some ways it’s a return to an earlier persona–in High Road that made my morning without my having to take deliberate action to escape the daily shitstorm. I am sure I am the only one comparing these two acts in this way, but in pop music it be’s that way sometimes. I go way back with the Truckers, as a fan, but also on a personal level, as they once played the high school I taught at for free and kicked almighty ass, but I cannot tell a lie.

Justine

5) That de Sade album. Speaking of the end of all wanting, long ago I’d cast a line out for the above on Discogs Lake and just waited for the bobber to dance. Finally, and for a pittance, I got the chance to yank, and it sits waiting to be spun, smelling just a mite moldy. I am no Sadist, but such an item is difficult to resist and especially in these times, metaphorically at the very least; however, do I listen alone or in company, and if in company, with whom? I’m stuck in a state of suspended animation, so maybe I’ll stall a little longer and digitize it. Love that label name!

6) THE GOATS. Someone asked me recently if I ever had the chance to write a 33 1/3rd book (basically, I do have the chance, just not the drive), about what album would I write mine. I reeled off several but knew I was forgetting one. The arrival in 2019 (I initally missed it, thus didn’t list it) of a freakin’ raucous live album of a ’93 performance by ultra-underrated Philly crew The Goats, which I just learned about the other day, reminded me that I’d first try to write about their durable and still-relevant Tricks of the Shade. Our flag is not a peace sign, indeed.

7) If you’re ever in Springfield, Illinois. Definitely hit Cozy Dog, the Frank Lloyd Wright house, and Lincoln’s tomb (supposedly the man once said, “You’d have to shoot me to get me to go back to Springfield!”), but there’s a record store on Adams Street that can swallow you up: Recycled Records. Besides music, they have stereo equipment, memorabilia, VHSes galore (I didn’t look for Dance Craze, alas), even porno mags. I skipped that stuff and snagged two sealed Willie John comps on Ace for $6 a piece and a great three-disc Abbey Lincoln career overview I didn’t know existed for $17 (and with Gary Giddins liner notes). If you ask for help, you will get it–and more.

8) Tomeka Reid. I think Reid is my favorite musician-I-hadn’t-heard-about-til-recently. I’d actually heard her inimitable jazz cello on records I owned by others, but–two things about her two solo releases, the 2019 Old and New and 2016’s Tomeka Reid Quartet (now impossible to find in physical form): her playing and composing are rich, expressive, and surprising–she stretches the cello’s usual jazz role fascinatingly–and they also spur quartet member and guitar genius Mary Halvorson to some of her best playing ever. That’s saying something.

9) Natural Child. I stumbled upon this Nashville group in Lawrence, Kansas, in 2010, at an amazing and free garage-rock festival sponsored by Scion. We arrived on Massachusetts Street, found a parking spot, which just happened to be in front of The Granada, one of the festival’s four venues, and wandered in to see whoever happened to be there. The group immediately charmed and rocked us with their extremely casual stage manner and their delightfully fucked-up songs–a nicer, funnier Royal Trux, maybe. I bought up all their 45s—that was it for their output at the time–and they held up in the absence of the band charming, rocking, and delighting us in person. We saw them several times in several places, and they were always worth it. As their sound starting to lean toward country–much harder stuff to pull off than tire-kickers think–they lost their je ne sais quois, and though our enthusiasm for their output dimmed, we still saw ’em when they were close. A member of the band brought some trouble upon himself and them in an incident I only know about third-hand and thus will not report, and retired themselves from the action to work on things, a wise choice. Suffice it all to say, the band is back after several years with a new record, I’m happy to see it, and I hope (and trust) that they’ve put in work on more than just the music. I am rooting for them.

10) International Anthem. IA’s the first label in a long time–maybe ever–that’s seriously tempted me to just buy its entire output sans investigation. Their most recent release, Jeff Parker’s Suite for Max Brown, would be my record of the year in 2020 if I were able to muster a list, and Irreversible Entanglement’s upcoming Who Sent You?, based on early indications, may be challenging it. All of their releases are fired by skilled, passionate players, and the label’s accent on liberation and commitment to warm, present production standards make for a unity of sound and vision reminiscent of legendary labels I surely need not name for you. I’m heading to Chicago soon, and if they have a physical home, I may well visit and bow.

 

 

Living to Listen’s 2019 Top 25 LPs Video Playlist (plus a showcase for some rekkids that are “Late to the List”)

I’ve been pickin’ at my “Best Records of 2019” list like an itchy scab. Just can’t leave the damn thing alone. If you click on that link, you’ll see I’ve added some items (bold-faced), including a few that are fairly high up the list. For many of the augmentations, I have the indefatigable Glenn Boothe and Keith Artin to thank: their “Village Voice Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll”–1,122 members strong just a second ago–opened everyone’s eyes up to excellent slabs they hadn’t heard before, and I hope they make it a tradition. Also–this happens when you’re a long-lister–I forgot to list two albums that I respectively loved and really liked and played many times: 75 Dollar Bill’s I Was Real and 86-going-on-16 folkfunk originator Bobby Rush’s Sitting on Top of The Blues.

But. That ain’t what this is about! To grease the reader’s wheels for test-driving some of this stuff, I’ve created two YouTube playlists. The first highlights great tracks from my favorite 25 releases, with one exception: since Joe McPhee and the DKV Trio’s explosive box set of live recordings doesn’t currently have a reasonable video available on YouTube, I replaced it by a great single that wasn’t attached to an album–I’ll let you figure that out. The second gathers a track a piece from 10 albums that just got on the list at the last minute (that’s almost literal). Enjoy!