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)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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…

Hardee

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.

McPhee

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

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  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

Pop Music Pig-Out: My Favorite Listens of 2018, Seven Months In

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was on the road half of July and not able to search the nooks and crannies of the many music scenes making life bearable in this world where humans are supposedly safer, better educated, and healthier than they’ve ever been–I’m a science advocate, but in this revelation I’m a bit insecure. Still, 15 new records added to my list of gooduns, and five records added to my list of stellar reissues. Making waves on my chart, which is a bit loosely ordered but starting to reflect my feelings about the quality and durability of its contents:

  • Kid Cudi and —–‘s project Kids See Ghosts, which excites me sonically almost every track–and very much against my will (my former Hickman High School Hip Hop Club members, should any of them read this, will be ROTFLOLing at this fact, as I scoffed at their Cudi-philism constantly–they would vaunt nothing else–during our single year of existence).
  • The great West Coast punk veteran Alice Bag, whose (relatively) old memoir may be adding value to her new record.
  • Subtle Degrees’ intense and madly repetitive A Dance That Empties, a jazz assault that has made my heart race pleasantly every listen.
  • The ageless diva Elza Soares–calling her a Brazilian Tina Turner doesn’t even do her justice, and the music behind her will challenge and delight your ear.
  • Freddie Gibbs’ Freddie. I’ve not been moved by Mr. Gibbs in the past–despite the hype and the decent beats, he’s a hip hop boor to the max–but his dedicated to keeping it brief and his flow makes me forgive the rip-off/homage to Teddy.
  • The Internet’s Hive Mind: If I weren’t feeling a bit emotionally naked at present, and trusted my instincts more, this subtle, grooveful, encouraging, and seductively muted gem may have already invaded my Top 5. Syd’s a persuasive and beguiling sprite, but Steve Lacy just might be a Curtis Mayfield for the 21st century. Just might.

Anyhow, here’s my update, with stuff having moved up and down in my esteem, such as that is. In bold are the records I’ve really, really tested and tried to order, but goddam it, Heraclitus is laughing at me as I struggle:

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

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  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

We’re Halfway There–But to Where?: 100 New Records I’ve Enjoyed (June 27th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Good golly, folks–it’s a good year in pop music when after 12 months you can get behind almost a hundred records you’ve enjoyed. It’s still a few days shy of July, and I’ve listened to 95 I’d give a B+ (or 7.5–grade inflation if that’s equivalent!) or better. It would have been 96, but somehow I lost one in the text transfer that I cannot ferret out. The bold-faced albums are in priority order from the ones I love most to love a whole lot; 25-50 are jockeying for position; and the rest are kind of in grab-bag, I’m-too-mentally-tired-to-deal formation.

I think I mentioned it last time, but 2018 has been a fantastic year for female artists. Also, guitar bands are starting to wake up (no pun intended) and address the shit-show we have on our hands. The jazz world is asserting itself, especially the free improvisors who have feet inside. Reissues: hard to keep up with, especially Atlanta’s Dust-to-Digital, who just released two terrific and typically well-appointed boxes that repay concentration and multiple listens. Personally, falling under the spell of Apple Music has vastly increased my, um, unique listens (at the expense of old faves I’ve always played a lot), and the exploration of electronic music and r&b fellow fanatics have pushed me to continues to pay dividends as far as picking beauties is concerned.

I wish I could link all these, but goddam you can copy and paste into a browser, can’t ya? Just try to pay an artist as much as possible if you can.

  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. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  10. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  11. Chloe x Halle: The Kids are Alright
  12. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  13. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  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. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  20. Grupo Mono Blanco: ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz
  21. Elza Soares: Deus É Mulher
  22. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
  23. Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit
  24. Dave Holland: Uncharted Territories
  25. Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes
  26. Nidia: Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida
  27. Wynton Marsalis & Friends: United We Swing–Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas
  28. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  29. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
  30. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  31. Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg
  32. Bombino: Deran
  33. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: An Angel Fell
  34. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  35. Sarayah: Feel the Vibe
  36. Anelis Assumpcão: Taurina
  37. Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair
  38. Nas: Nasir
  39. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
  40. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel
  41. Peter Brotzmann and Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros
  42. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  43. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  44. Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited
  45. Angelika Niescier: The Berlin Concert
  46. Jon Hassell: Listening To Pictures (Pentimento, Vol. One)
  47. Charge It to The Game: House with a Pool
  48. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  49. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  50. Apolo: Live in Stockholm
  51. Mdou Moctar & Elite Beat: Mdou Moctar meets Elite Beat In a Budget Dancehall
  52. Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing
  53. Wussy: What Heaven is Like
  54. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  55. Kamasi Washington: Heaven & Earth
  56. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy
  57. Shopping: The Official Body
  58. Young Mothers: Morose
  59. The Thing: Again
  60. Ebo Taylor: Yen Ara
  61. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  62. Dana Murray: Negro Manifesto
  63. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  64. Pusha T: Daytona
  65. Shame: Songs of Praise
  66. Low Cut Connie: Dirty Picture, Pt. 2
  67. Henry Threadgill: Dirt..and More Dirt
  68. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
  69. Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here?
  70. Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancesco: You’re Driving Me Crazy
  71. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  72. Marc Sinan & Oğuz Büyükberber: White
  73. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  74. Jay Rock: Redemption
  75. MC Paul Barman: Echo Chamber
  76. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  77. Tal National: Tantabara
  78. Wilko Johnson: Blow Your Mind
  79. Rodrigo Amado (with Joe McPhee): History of Nothing
  80. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  81. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  82. Silvana Estrada: Lo Sagrado
  83. Big Freedia: Third Ward Bounce
  84. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  85. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  86. Busdriver: Electricity Is On Our Side
  87. Dr. Michael White: Tricentennial Rag
  88. Migos: Culture II
  89. Angélique Kidjo: Remain in Light
  90. Parliament: Medicaid Fraud Dogg
  91. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  92. The Carters: Everything is Love
  93. The Del McCoury Band: Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass
  94. Superorganism: Superorganism
  95. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet: Landfall
  96. Sleep: The Sciences
  97. Teyana Taylor: K.T.S.E.
  98. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyio
  99. Various Artists: I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats
  100. Princess Nokia: A Girl Cried Red

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (Deluxe Reissue)
  2. Neil Young: Roxy—Tonight’s the Night
  3. Various Artists: Voices of Mississippi—Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
  4. Various Artists: Listen All Around: The Golden Age of Central and East African Music
  5. Gary Stewart: “Baby I Need Your Loving” / “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Day”
  6. Various Artists: Outlaws and Armadilloes
  7. The Revelators: In which the Revelators perform live renditions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook
  8. Against All Logic: 2012-2017
  9. Grant Green: Live at Oil Can Harry’s
  10. Entourage: Ceremony of Dreams—Studio Sessions & Outtakes 1972-1977
  11. Kuniyuki Takahashi: Early Tape Works 1986 – 1993 Volume 1
  12. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie
  13. Various Artists: Africa Scream Contest, Volume 2
  14. Wussy: Getting Better
  15. The Beginning of the End: Funky Nassau

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  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:

Many Things, Uncompromised–My Favorite Records of 2018, A Third the Way Out (April 28th, 2018)

Damn–50 solid records already and we ain’t half finished? I’d say that’s a solid rebuke to the sourpusses who are ever pronouncing our music a corpse. And I’d go a mite further and say the list also incorporates a rebuke to those knicker-twisted souls who are wondering when our music is gonna take on, you know, the thing–several of the slabs listed below do so and how, without spoiling their sounds (politics can do that, you know). Take a dive into something below that’s mysterious, I invite you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Tracy Thorn: Record
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  3. Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair
  4. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  5. Chloe x Halle: The Kids are Alright
  6. Quelle Chris & Jean Grae: Everything’s Fine
  7. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  8. CupcaKe: Ephorize
  9. Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
  10. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
  11. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
  12. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  13. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  14. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  15. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  16. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  17. Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub
  18. Orquesta Akokan: Orquesta Akokan
  19. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  20. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  21. Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg
  22. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  23. Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes
  24. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  25. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  26. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  27. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  28. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy
  29. Dana Murray: Negro Manifesto
  30. Shopping: The Official Body
  31. Ebo Taylor: Yen Ara
  32. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  33. Tal National: Tantabara
  34. Shame: Songs of Praise
  35. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
  36. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  37. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  38. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  39. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
  40. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  41. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  42. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  43. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  44. Apolo: Live in Stockholm
  45. Princess Nokia: A Girl Cried Red
  46. Superorganism: Superorganism
  47. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  48. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet: Landfall
  49. Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here?
  50. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyio

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  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

A Playlist of the Top 30 or So

Oh…and fuck Kanye West.

UPDATE: My Favorite New Records of 2018–Three Months In

Enjoy this playlist, composed of mostly new additions to my 2018 fave-rave list. See my February and January YouTube playlists for a deeper dive.

  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West—Deluxe Edition
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  3. Princess Nokia: 1992
  4. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  5. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  6. CupcaKe: Ephora
  7. Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldiers: Rifles and Rosary Beads
  8. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  9. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  10. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  11. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  12. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  13. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  14. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  15. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  16. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  17. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  18. ZU & Mats Gustafsson: How to Raise an Ox
  19. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  20. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  21. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie
  22. Tracy Thorn: Record
  23. The Revelators: “In which The Revelators play live versions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook”
  24. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  25. Tal National: Tantabara
  26. Shame: Songs of Praise
  27. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  28. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  29. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
  30. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  31. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  32. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  33. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  34. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  35. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On

UPDATE: My Favorite Releases of 2018 and the End of ’17

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had to straaaaain a bit to make twenty albums (the problem with doing a best-of list in a year’s second month), and I can see a couple that will not make the 2018 Top 40 cut, but…I can stand by these.

Among the obsessives who make these kinds of lists, quibbling abounds regarding what belongs to a “year,” arbitrary as that concept is on its own. I give myself the right to count anything from November and December 2017, since a) it often takes time to find these slabs, then b) when you find them, you need time to absorb them, and c) many such items don’t make the big shots’ 2017 list for that very reason, so…it ain’t effin’ fair. I am designating those below with an asterisk. Also, we have the issue of new releases of old material that are significantly different from the original package; my top item is a long-recognized masterpiece, but its 2018 incarnation has enhanced sound, a second LP of alternate takes and chatter that matter, and both original and new notes. Finally–believe it or not–we have releases that might be a bit old, or might not, but that are hard as hell to get a hold of, to the extent that you might have to write the artist to get one (I’ve marked those with a #, but the case in point is really my #13, which was “released,” apparently only to the jazz press, in spring of 2017). So there, I’ve covered my ass.

Also, I haven’t listened to everything, so don’t yell if your favorite is missing (examples: new Migos, Fever Ray, Amy Rigby and so many things I don’t even know about).

  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West—Deluxe Edition
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart*
  3. Princess Nokia: 1992*
  4. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  5. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  6. CupcaKe: Ephora
  7. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  8. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  9. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  10. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings from the Sahel
  11. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brzailian Western Movie
  12. The Revelators: “In which The Revelators play live versions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook”
  13. Ernest Dawkins: Transient Takes#
  14. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  15. Tal National: Tantabara
  16. Ty Segall: Freedom’s Goblin
  17. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  18. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long#
  19. Various Artists: Black Panther–The Album
  20. Gorbza: Ain’t That The Way

A playlist of the above, with some albums not represented because there ain’t nothing with which to do it and some albums strangely represented because either there was barely anything to do it with or I was feeling mischievous or piqued: