O Life, O Light–O Death, O Dark: Best Records of This Riven Year, January 1st to May 29th

Odds and Ends:

  1. So long, rock and roller.

2. So long, wild chanteuse.

3. Keep on growin’ and goin’, Hillbilly Dalai Lama.

4. Look out, Brother Ayler.

5. Miranda Maestra.

Extra Credit: Match this TV theme song with the album below on which it appears.

New Music 
(bolded items are new to the list):

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group)
  2. Rosalia: MOTOMAMI (Columbia)
  3. Tanya TagaqTongues (Six Shooter) 
  4. Ricky Ford: The Wailing Sounds of Ricky Ford—Paul’s Scene (Whaling City Sounds)
  5. Stro Elliot & James Brown: Black & Loud—James Brown Reimagined (Polydor)
  6. Miranda Lambert: Palomino (Vanner)
  7. Willie Nelson: A Beautiful Time (Sony)
  8. Superchunk: Wild Loneliness (Merge)
  9. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (Phantom Limb)
  10. Wet Leg: Wet Leg (Domino)
  11. Amber Mark:Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope) 
  12. Etran de L’AirAgadez (Sahel Sounds)
  13. Billy Woods: Aethiope(Backwoodz Studios)
  14. Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike) 
  15. Lady Wray: Piece of Me (Big Crown)
  16. Bob Vylan: Bob Vylan Presents The Price of Life (Ghost Theatre)
  17. Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I (self-released)
  18. ensemble 0: Music Nuvulosa (Sub Rosa)
  19. Anna von HausswoolffLive at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord) 
  20. Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds) 
  21. Ches Smith: Interpret It Well (Pyroclastic)
  22. Jinx Lennon: Pet Rent (Septic Tiger)
  23. Freakons: Freakons (Fluff & Gravy)
  24. Daniel Villareal: Panama ’77 (International Anthem)
  25. Joy Guidry:Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre)
  26. Kehlani: blue water road (TSNMI/Atlantic)
  27. Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson) 
  28. Oumou Sangare: Timbuktu (World Circuit Limited)
  29. Kendrick Lamar: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope)
  30. OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette) 
  31. Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM) 
  32. Luke Stewart’s Silt TrioThe Bottom (Cuneiform) 
  33. Tyler Mitchell: Dancing Shadows (featuring Marshall Allen) (Mahakala Music)
  34. Nduduzo Makhathini: In the Spirit of Ntu (Universal)
  35. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few: Lift Every Voice (Division 81 Records)
  36. Priscilla BlockWelcome to the Block Party (InDent)
  37. Anitta: Versions of Me (Warner)
  38. Carl Stone: Wat Dong Moon Lek (Unseen Worlds)
  39. Mitski: Laurel Hell (Dead Oceans)
  40. Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note) 
  41. David Murray Brave New World Trio: Seriana Promethea (Intakt)
  42. Fulu MizikiNgbaka (EP)
  43. Leikeli47: Shape Up (Hardcover/RCA)
  44. Hurray for The Riff Raff: Life on Earth (Nonesuch)
  45. Rokia Koné and Jacknife Lee: Bamanan (3D Family)
  46. Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12)
  47. Ibibio Sound Machine: Electricity (Merge)
  48. Zoh Amba: O Life, O Light, Volume 1 (577 Records)
  49. Kahil El’Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing (Spirit Muse)
  50. Pastor Champion: I Just Want to Be a Good Man (Luaka Bop)
  51. Pusha T:It’s Almost Dry (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam)
  52. Elza Soares: Elza Ao Vivo No Municipal (Deck)
  53. SAULT: AIR (Forever Living Originals)
  54. Nilufer Yanya: Painless (ATO)
  55. Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda: Thread of Light (Fundacja Słuchaj)
  56. Charli XCX: Crash (Atlantic)
  57. Pete Malinverni:  On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts) 
  58. David Friend & Jerome Begin: Post- (New Amsterdam)
  59. Dedicated Men of Zion: The Devil Don’t Like It (Bible & Tire)
  60. Space AfrikaHonest Labour (Dais)
  61. Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (DeeWee)
  62. Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner) 
  63. Belle & Sebastian: A Bit of Previous (Matador)
  64. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (4AD)
  65. Tee Grizzley: Half Tee Half Beast (self-released)
  66. Hoodoo Gurus: Chariot of The Gods (Big Time Photographic Recordings)
  67. Natsuki TamuraSummer Tree (Libra)
  68. (D)ivo: Perelman, Berne, Malaby, Carter (Mahakala Music)
  69. Spoon:Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador)
  70. Manel Fortia: Despertar (Segell Microscopi/Altafonte)
  71. Ray Wylie Hubbard: Co-Starring Too (Big Machine)
  72. Keith Oxman: This One’s for Joey (Capri)
  73. Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind)
  74. Earthgang: Ghetto Gods (Dreamville/Interscope)
  75. Mavis Staples & Levon Helm: Carry Me Home (Anti-)

Archival Digs:

  1. Los Golden Boys: Cumbia de Juventud (Mississippi Records)
  2. Albert Ayler: Revelations—The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings (Elemental)
  3. Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics) 
  4. Various Artists: Cumbia Sabrosa—Tropical Sound System Bangers From The Discos Fuentes Vaults 1961-1981 (Rocafort Records)
  5. Son House: Forever on My Mind (Easy Eye Sound)
  6. Lavender Country:Blackberry Rose and Other Songs & Sorrows (Don Giovanni)
  7. Hermeto Pascoal: Hermeto (Far Out Recordings)
  8. Sun Ra: Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab in Egypt (Strut)
  9. Cecil Taylor:The Complete Legendary Live Return Concert at the Town Hall (Oblivion)
  10. Norma Tanega: Studio and Demo Recordings, 1964-1971 (Anthology)
  11. Irma Thomas: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 (Good Time)
  12. Afrika Negra: Antologia, Volume 1 (Bongo Joe)
  13. Various Artists:Summer of Soul (Legacy)
  14. Ann Peebles and the Hi Rhythm Section: Live in Memphis (Memphis International)
  15. Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise) 

“Interpret It Well: Life in All Its Rich Musical Variety”–Best Rekkids of 2022, January 1st-April 27)

Random bits?

  1. Thank you, Christian, for Bob Vylan at the last minute. I needed that.
  2. Ricky Ford? Who’s Ricky Ford? Well, I knew him best through his stellar tenor on Ran Blake’s The Short Life of Barbara Monk and Abdullah Ibrahim’s Water from an Ancient Well, both modern jazz classics. I remember trying some of his solo albums and thinking he was kind of like an Ellingtonian without Ellington. BUT…35-40 years later his new album sounds like something we will sadly never get again: a new Sonny Rollins album. That’s high praise, and he’s not that inventive, but you’ll hear what I mean: power, confidence and wisdom of tone, steaming momentum, ideas extended lyrically and imaginatively.
  3. Wet Leg the album not as good as Wet Leg the singles machine, but still FUN. And I (and probably you) need that. One of my students liked their sense of camp, and I get that. I have film students in class, too, and they’re curious about those Wighters’ taste.
  4. I am already feeling I’ve underrated percussionist Ches Smith’s new album Interpret It Well. It’s one of those rare albums that establish a mood and flow and sustains it from beginning to end. The whole is much more powerful than the sum of its parts, and the playing is stimulatingly precise and responsive.
  5. I’m as atheist as can be (I neither have, recognize nor pursue a theology), but it’s been a good couple of years for new black gospel records in the traditional vein. Thanks, Hardin, for pushing Pastor Champion on me, and thanks, Bible & Tire / Fat Possum, for just sticking to that old mission. It’s liberation music, at heart, and I’m ’bout it.
  6. When I heard the Mekons and Freakwater were doing a set of acoustic mining songs, I asked myself, “Do I really need that?” Mekons being involved, I had to dip a toe (or a lobe) in; I just prefer Mekons with DRUMS. Actually, the album’s rousing, moving, and not necessarily about mining, and I recommend it.
  7. Is there such as thing as discorrhea? Sometimes I think about that when I think about Jinx Lennon (I’m not sure how many people think that much about Jinx Lennon, but he’s worth it). Maybe it’d be better to really hone and weed before he lets another one go. The thing is, though, Pet Rent rocks harder than any of the last few, and it’s hard to think of any artist who’s so alive and receptive in his immediate environment than Lennon. I’m currently reading Henry Miller’s Black Spring, and “Horseshit!” has popped up a few times in the first twenty pages as ol’ Hank instructs us on immediacy of living, but maybe Jinx achieves that. Maybe.
  8. Speaking of horseshit, I’ve been alive and listening to records long enough to smell it, but, dammit, SAULT has my detector on the blink. And by blink I mean my detector blinks off and on. I am keenly aware their “mystery” is part of the attraction (or marketing); on the other hand, when I’m really leaning forward and undistracted, they seem to be so much of these times and their struggles, endless tragedies, and fleeting glow that I buy what they’re offering. And AIR? It’s a test. An early morning game of art-critical Texas Hold ‘Em.
  9. As he always seems to be, Sun Ra makes new appearances on this update: first, represented more than ably by the soon-to-be-98 (you are reading that correctly) Arkestra glue-guy Marshall Allen on Tyler Mitchell’s outstanding Dancing Shadows, then on a Seventies archival dig working close to one his many homes (Egypt) with the talented Salah Ragab. Both recordings are outstanding.
  10. I always make at least one Record Store Day purchase. I hate crowds, so I usually hit eBay first thing the next morning, but this year the proprietor of Dig It! Record Barn / Records to Go in Carterville (or is it Duenweg?), Missouri, established a tiny call line for people who could not make it–I’m about 250 miles away. If you answer the phone when there’s a lull in traffic through the stacks, you might get a chance; I was completing a three-mile stroll when the phone buzzed and I became the proud owner of Albert Ayler’s Revelations—The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings on Elemental Records. I’ve heard the original recordings, which were not complete and didn’t sound that swell, but had never owned them. This heavy item arrives Thursday, so truth be told, I have not listened to it yet. But I’ve got a hand in another Texas Hold ‘Em game….

New Music (bolded items are new to the list):

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group)
  2. Rosalia: MOTOMAMI (Columbia)
  3. Tanya TagaqTongues (Six Shooter) 
  4. Ricky Ford: The Wailing Sounds of Ricky Ford—Paul’s Scene (Whaling City Sounds)
  5. Stro Elliot & James Brown: Black & Loud—James Brown Reimagined (Polydor)
  6. Superchunk: Wild Loneliness (Merge)
  7. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (Phantom Limb)
  8. Wet Leg: Wet Leg (Domino)
  9. Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope) 
  10. Etran de L’AirAgadez (Sahel Sounds)
  11. Billy Woods: Aethiope(Backwoodz Studios)
  12. Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike) 
  13. Lady Wray: Piece of Me (Big Crown)
  14. Tyler Mitchell: Dancing Shadows (featuring Marshall Allen) (Mahakala Music)
  15. Bob Vylan: Bob Vylan Presents The Price of Life (Ghost Theatre)
  16. Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I (self-released)
  17. ensemble 0: Music Nuvulosa (Sub Rosa)
  18. Anna von HausswoolffLive at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord) 
  19. Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds) 
  20. Ches Smith: Interpret It Well (Pyroclastic)
  21. Jinx Lennon: Pet Rent (Septic Tiger)
  22. Freakons: Freakons (Fluff & Gravy)
  23. Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance (Whited Sepulchre)
  24. Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson) 
  25. OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette) 
  26. Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM) 
  27. Luke Stewart’s Silt TrioThe Bottom (Cuneiform) 
  28. Priscilla BlockWelcome to the Block Party (InDent)
  29. Anitta: Versions of Me (Warner)
  30. Mitski: Laurel Hell (Dead Oceans)
  31. Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note) 
  32. Fulu MizikiNgbaka (EP) 
  33. Hurray for The Riff Raff: Life on Earth (Nonesuch)
  34. Rokia Koné and Jacknife Lee: Bamanan (3D Family)
  35. Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12)
  36. Ibibio Sound Machine: Electricity (Merge)
  37. Kahil El’Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing (Spirit Muse)
  38. Pastor Champion: I Just Want to Be a Good Man (Luaka Bop)
  39. Pusha T: It’s Almost Dry (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam)
  40. SAULT: AIR (Forever Living Originals)
  41. Nilufer Yanya: Painless (ATO)
  42. Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda: Thread of Light (Fundacja Słuchaj)
  43. Charli XCX: Crash (Atlantic)
  44. Pete Malinverni:  On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts) 
  45. David Friend & Jerome Begin: Post- (New Amsterdam)
  46. Dedicated Men of Zion: The Devil Don’t Like It (Bible & Tire)
  47. Space AfrikaHonest Labour (Dais)
  48. Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (DeeWee)
  49. Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner) 
  50. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (4AD) 
  51. Tee Grizzley: Half Tee Half Beast (self-relased)
  52. Hoodoo Gurus: Chariot of The Gods (Big Time Photographic Recordings)
  53. Natsuki TamuraSummer Tree (Libra)
  54. (D)ivo: Perelman, Berne, Malaby, Carter (Mahakala Music)
  55. Spoon: Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador)
  56. Manel Fortia: Despertar (Segell Microscopi/Altafonte)
  57. Ray Wylie Hubbard: Co-Starring Too (Big Machine)
  58. Keith Oxman: This One’s for Joey (Capri)
  59. Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind)
  60. Earthgang: Ghetto Gods (Dreamville/Interscope) 

Archival Digs:

Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics) 

Albert Ayler: Revelations—The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings (Elemental)

Son House: Forever on My Mind (Easy Eye Sound)

Lavender Country: Blackberry Rose and Other Songs & Sorrows (Don Giovanni)

Hermeto Pascoal: Planetário da Gávea (Far Out Recordings)

Hermeto Pascoal: Hermeto (Far Out Recordings)

Sun Ra: Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab in Egypt (Strut)

Cecil Taylor: The Complete Legendary Live Return Concert at the Town Hall (Oblivion)

Afrika Negra: Antologia, Volume 1 (Bongo Joe)

Various Artists: Summer of Soul (Legacy)

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise) 

Music Nerve-U-Loss-A: Best New Records I’ve Heard, January 1st-April 3rd, 2022 (EDITED)

It has been a stressful month for me. I’ve been in the process of caring for my mom, who lives 227 miles away and whose health issues have resulted in her needing 24-7 attention, while trying to do my three part-time jobs competently (one of them is teaching a class called “Groundbreaking Women in U. S. Music: A History in 150 Albums”–I hope one day to tell you how it’s gone), one of which will not allow me to work virtually. Beyond that class, music’s definitely taken a back seat. I have a hard time being with Mom and having headphones in; it seems rude, even though she doesn’t need me every second, or minute, or hour necessarily. When I’m on the road, I’ve been NEEDING older stuff that I know can deliver succor and strength immediately. Also, I’ve been working on an unfamiliar computer, so it’s slowed me down. But, enough. Here’s what I’ve got. New additions to the list, as always, are bolded. Truly, nothing new really bedazzled me this month–except Rosalia. And ensemble 0. And…

75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group)
Rosalia: MOTOMAMI (Columbia)
Tanya Tagaq: Tongues (Six Shooter) 
Superchunk: Wild Loneliness (Merge)
Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (The Vital Record)
Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope) 
Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson) 
Etran de L’Air: Agadez (Sahel Sounds)
Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike) 
Lady Wray: Piece of Me (Big Crown)
Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I (self-released)
Anna von Hausswoolff: Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord) 
Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds) 
ensemble 0: Music Nuvulosa (Sub Rosa)
Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance  (Whited Supulchre)
Spoon: Lucifer on the Sofa (Headz/Matador)
OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette) 
Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM) 
Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio: The Bottom (Cuneiform) 
Priscilla Block: Welcome to the Block Party (Nercury Nashville/InDent)
Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (DeeWee)
Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note) 
Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner) 
Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (4AD)
Charli XCX: Crash (Atlantic)
Fulu Miziki: Ngbaka (EP) (Moshi Moshi)
Nilufer Yanya: Painless (ATO)
Black Country, New Roads: Ants from Up There (Ninja Tune)
Hurray for The Riff Raff: Life on Earth (Nonesuch)
Rokia Koné and Jacknife Lee: Bamanan (Real World)
Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind)
Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse)
Earthgang: Ghetto Gods (Dreamville/Interscope)
Junglepussy: jp5000 (EP) (self-released)
Kahil El’Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing (Spiritmuse)
Pete Malinverni:  On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts) 
Chief Keef: 4Nem (Glo Gang / RBC) 
The Weeknd: Dawn FM (XO / Republic) 
Space Afrika: Honest Labour (Dais)
Natsuki Tamura: Summer Tree (Libra)

Archival Digs: 
Cecil Taylor: The Complete Legendary Live Return Concert at the Town Hall (Oblivion)
Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics) 
Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise) 
Various Artists: Summer of Soul (Legacy)
Lavender Country: Blackberry Rose and Other Songs & Sorrows (Don Giovanni)
Son House: Forever on My Mind (Easy Eye Sound
Hermeto Pascoal: Planetário da Gávea (Far Out)
Hermeto Pascoal: Hermeto 

I Don’t Feel Tardy. I Don’t Feel Hardy. But I Feel That Wild Loneliness…. (January 1 – March 6, 2022)

Sorry I’m late; life is interfering. Not for the first time has a family (or other loved one’s) health crisis interrupted my much less important obsession with documenting my favorite records of the past days, weeks, months, and years–and with me, it seems, when it rains, it’s like a cow pissin’ off a cliff onto a flat rock. I’m truly multiply occupied (I am also teaching a brand-new class on groundbreaking women in this country’s music that is requiring regular and very exciting hard work), so I am behind in some ways. But I just turned 60, I feel like I’m 35 in a sea of stress, so it must be real love…and the music.

  1. What I’m really waiting for are the new albums by Wet Leg (can the whole album be that good?) and Rosalia (the flamenco touches seem to be wafting away, but on the evidence of the singles, she remains a force). The former’s out soon; the latter will require enduring a multi-month tease.
  2. I often check things out on a whim. Joy Guidry’s new album’s cover and title had me thinking a very interesting rap album–but it’s improvisational jazz, and good stuff at that.
  3. Superchunk’s never been one of my top faves, but their classic What a Time to Be Alive dragged me kicking and screaming into a state of deep admiration and a practice of repeat plays. Their new record is almost a companion piece, but from a completely different and powerful emotional direction–I just listened to it for the first time today and, in the state I’m in, it killed me.
  4. One of the world’s greatest rock and roll deejays, Whitney Shroyer, a longtime friend and advisor, implored me to sample Lady Wray, whom I’d not heard of (it happens–a lot). Though I like its predecessor a little better, from a singing, songwriting, and production standpoint, Piece of Me is a solid pleasure.
  5. Did I tell ya to read Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth and check out her new album Tongues? Yes, I did. I was fucking serious. They go together, and they deliver.
  6. It’s not every late winter that you can buy two classic creations by a known wizard reissued from those too-halycon-from-a-preservationist-perspective Seventies. This is one of them. They also call him Hermeto.
  7. High on the “appreciation” scale but wavering on the “diggit” scale: the new offerings by Big Thief and Black Country, New Roads.
  8. Lavender Country is a gay and politically smart-ass country outfit dating back to 1972. Their album in the archival digs category is only three years old, but it might as well have come out today. It is NOT simply a novelty; it’s well-played, wittily sung and written, and will cattle-prod you out of the corner of your ear.
  9. I feel like I’m experiencing an explosion of sharp country music women coming from tantalizingly marginally differentiated viewpoints (JUST IN TIME FOR MY NEW CLASS). Priscilla Block’s the latest, and I’ll let you discover the viewpoint.
  10. Gonora Sounds’ Hard Times Never Kill is a beautiful-sounding album from Zimbabwe.
  11. I wish I had heard Adeem the Artist‘s Cast-Iron Pansexual (like about 20 other 2021 albums) when it came out. Great songs, one of which made me tear up, and he wished me a happy birthday on Twitter!
  12. (Hidden track)(Whispered to avoid having things thrown at me, but…) I’ll say it: Spoon’s never really done it for me. I’ve learned never say never–but my first listen was at 5:15 this morning and it livelied me up. Could have been the Death Wish coffee pods my brother left at my mom’s house, though.

Newbies (new items are bolded):

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group) (left off my original post unaccountably!) 

  1. Tanya Tagaq: Tongues (Six Shooter) 

  1. Superchunk: Wild Loneliness 

  1. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill 

  1. Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope) 

  1. Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson) 

  1. Etran de L’Air: Agadez 

  1. Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike) 

  1. Lady Wray: Piece of Me 

  1. Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I 

  1. Anna von Hausswoolff: Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord) 

  1. Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds) 

  1. Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance 

  1. Spoon: Lucifer on the Sofa 

  1. OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette) 

  1. Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM) 

  1. Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio: The Bottom (Cuneiform) 

  1. Priscilla Block: Welcome to the Block Party 

  1. Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note) 

  1. Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner) 

  1. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You 

  1. Fulu Miziki: Ngbaka (EP) 

  1. Black Country, New Roads: Ants from Up There 

  1. Hurray for The Riff Raff: Life on Earth 

  1. Rokia Koné and Jacknife Lee: Bamanan 

  1. Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) 

  1. Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double 

  1. Junglepussy: jp5000 (EP) 

  1. Kahil El’Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing 

  1. Pete Malinverni:  On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts) 

  1. Chief Keef: 4Nem (Glo Gang / RBC) 

  1. The Weeknd: Dawn FM (XO / Republic) 

  1. Martin Wind: Air (Laika) 

  1. Space Afrika: Honest Labour 

  1. Natsuki Tamura: Summer Tree 

Archival Digs: 

Cecil Taylor: The Complete Legendary Live Return Concert at the Town Hall 

Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics) 

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise) 

Various Artists: Summer of Soul 

Lavender Country: Blackberry Rose and Other Songs & Sorrows

Hermeto Pascoal: Planetário da Gávea 

Hermeto Pascoal: Hermeto (not out yet, but fuck it–it’s worth planning for!)

 

A 2022 Top Ten Already? All. Ready. I Got 17 + 2.

One thing I do like about striving to root out excellent albums in the first month of a new year is the search forces me out of my comfort zones. True: I’m seldom uncomfortable in any particular musical zone if I can dig deep enough to find the right stuff; I’m hesitant about anything too bourgeois, to be frank, but even such artifacts can provide thrills. I’ve also been aided by having found myself on a few jazz labels’ mailing lists, so some items below aren’t yet out (soon, soon), but I’ve sampled them enough to get a kick out of ’em. Will any of these stick to the list? That’s always the question when it comes to the early months–last January I opened with a couple of classical albums by artists just disruptive enough for me to be attracted to their work, and one made it (big time) and the other faded (though I still like it). But I guarantee those top three will still be riding high.

Odds and ends:

*Tagaq’s album is a companion to her very unique and blazing memoir, Split Tooth. Read that.

*I was previously unfamiliar with Mark’s work. Pitchfork dug it and the album cover gave me Miguel vibes. I really enjoyed it end to end, and there’s something that tears slightly in her voice at just the right times that engage me in her singing and songs even more deeply.

*Since Greg Tate passed, I’ve revisited a bit of his writing, but I’ve also been alerted to pieces I didn’t know about–particularly about master poet Nikki Giovanni’s recordings. Tate’s writing always costs me money because he turns me on to music and books about which I know nothing or little; I am confident, had he lived to hear it, he would have loved saxophonist Jackson’s gospel album with Giovanni. I’m an atheist and I’ve already played it thrive. Coming soon.

*I ONLY tried to the von Hausswoolff because the album cover looked like Gustave Dore’s work. THEN I find myself unable to turn it off.

*I was totally uninformed about old directions in music from Guadeloupe. Based on the new directions, I probably better change that condition.

*Pete Malinverni might not seem my (or your) jam, but I’ll be damned if the West Side Story remake didn’t bubble my blood for Bernstein, and Malinverni’s foray below injected itself right into my satisfaction of that desire.

*Valid questions both: Do I really need another live Ayler record? Do I really need another live Neil record? Yes and yes. Ayler’s set was played before a Cleveland audience, and perhaps it inspires him to take several unexpected turns in musical variation, space, and tone–at least to my ear, and I’m an Aylerian. Neil’s acoustic at Carnegie, but it’s the surprise inclusions in the set list as well as stellar performances that have me contemplating a vinyl purchase (if that’s even possible). OK, on with it…

*The 75 Dollar Bill is easily my favorite album of the year. I forgot all about it somehow because I had not added it to my reference folder–probably because I was distracted by playing it over and over. It’s a covers album. Y’know, the usual suspects: Ono, Partch, Oliveros, Neg-Fi, Ron Padgett. Plus some outsiders like Dylan, Toussaint, and the MC5. They do ’em up.

New (and Upcoming) Releases That I’ve Heard And Really Like (Kinda in order, especially the first three):

75 Dollar Bill: Social Music at Troost, Volume 3–Other People’s Music (Black Editions Group) (left off my original post unaccountably!)

Tanya Tagaq: Tongues (Six Shooter)

Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (PMR / Interscope)

Javon Jackson & Nikki Giovanni: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (Solid Jackson)

Morgan Wade: Reckless (Deluxe) (Ladylike)

Mark Lomax II: Prismatic Refractions, Volume I

Anna von Hausswoolff: Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival (Southern Lord)

Various Artists: Lespri Ka—New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe (Time Capsule Sounds)

OGJB: Ode to O (TUM) (Note: Band name – O = Oliver Lake, G = Graham Haynes, J = Joe Fonda, B = Barry Altschul / Title – O = Ornette)

The Weeknd: Dawn FM (XO / Republic)

Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, and Enrico Rava: Two Blues for Cecil (TUM)

Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio: The Bottom (Cuneiform)

Chief Keef: 4Nem (Glo Gang / RBC)

Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (Blue Note)

Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (Tan Cressida / Warner)

Pete Malinverni:  On the Town—Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts)

Martin Wind: Air (Laika)

Archival Digs:

Albert Ayler: La Cave Live 1966 (Ezz-Thetics)

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (Reprise)

Living to Listen’s Top Albums of 2020, Part II (I refuse to admit we’re in a different calendar year–even today, which is the dawn of 2020, Part III)

Yes, I know it’s 2022, and this list is dedicated to the top spins of 2021. But it feels to me as if 2020 started on March 15 of that actual year (The Ides, you know) and has declared the turning of the last two annums invalid. Until I feel differently, I’m gonna keep believing it, though, like Joe Tex’s man in that Viet Nam foxhole, I believe we’re gonna make it.

If you follow this blog, you know the good records mount and mount until there seems to be no sane scaling of them. For your pleasure and convenience, I’ve topped them off to a mere 50 like I’m lookin’ for coal and to hell with the slag (the still-pleasurable slag). This time, my rubric is simple: How likely, really, am I to listen to these albums several times more while I continue trying, in my futile battle against the dustbin of time to save every flower, to keep up with the mounds of fresh sounds? You can always access the previous months’ lists for those a cast a cold eye upon, though December’s getting shafted in that regard. Also, I’ve voted in a couple of year-end polls and, as usual, I make no promises (to anyone who really cares) that these results will match up with those. One never drops the same needle on the same record twice.

The archival digs I’ve trimmed to 25. I know I had that massive, well-appointed, and long-overdue Marian Anderson box at #1 last month, and now it’s not on the list at all–I guess that was a) pretentious; b) the happy historian in me; and c) overambitious.

Goodbye, Greg Tate. Why’d you have to go? I hope there is enough of your uncollected passionate criticism to fill another bucket of buttermilk with (gad)flies. It’s hard to imagine not being able to keep reading your newest insights for the rest of my life. And one thing I really appreciate looking back on your work I’ve read (most of it) is how seldom you were an asshole…if ever. Your style seemed to exclude that as a choice.

Thanks to the kindness of Tom Hull, I was invited to vote in the Jazz Critics Poll. Should you be curious, here’s my ballot (scroll down to the O’s).

In a related development, I’m considering a move to Scandinavia….

Bolded titles are new to the list, and to be fair, most of the releases I dug in December are on the list.

  1. Wild Up: Julius Eastman, Volume 1–Femenine 
  2. Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: (Exit) Knarr 
  3. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon  
  4. East Axis: Cool With That  
  5. Gift of Gab: Finding Inspiration Somehow
  6. Ka: Martyr’s Reward
  7. Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introverted 
  8. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman  
  9. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja 
  10. No-No Boy: 1975  
  11. The Halluci Nation: One More Saturday Night 
  12. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son  
  13. Mauricio Tagliari: Maô_Danças Típicas de Cidades Imaginárias 
  14. Mickey Guyton: Remember Her Name 
  15. Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim  
  16. King Britt & Tyshawn Sorey: Tyshawn and King  
  17. For Those I Love: For Those I Love 
  18. Mariá Grand: Reciprocity 
  19. R. A. P. Ferreira: The Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures 
  20. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son   
  21. Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Ole Morten Vågan: Plastic Wave 
  22. The Source: …But Swinging Doesn’t Bend Them Down 
  23. Peter Stampfel and Jeffrey Lewis: Both Ways 
  24. Various Artists: Sacred Soul of North Carolina 
  25. Mexstep: Vivir 
  26. The Ebony Hillbillies: Barefoot and Flying
  27. William Parker: Mayan Space Station
  28. Marta Gabriel: Metal Queen 
  29. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Life After 
  30. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa  
  31. Tim Berne: Broken Shadows  
  32. Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers: Set Me Free 
  33. Monster Magnet: A Better Dystopia 
  34. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg  
  35. Dawn Richard: Second Line  
  36. Lukah: Why Look Up, God’s in the Mirror 
  37. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty  
  38. Low-Cut Connie: Tough Cookies  
  39. Paris: Safe Space Invader  
  40. girl in red: if I could make it go quiet   
  41. Orquestra Brasileira: 80 Anos 
  42. Bitchin’ Bajas: Switched-On Ra  
  43. Body Metta: The Work is Slow  
  44. Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives  
  45. Ducks Ltd: Get Bleak 
  46. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few: Cosmic Transitions 
  47. Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses  
  48. Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber: Angels Over Oakanda 
  49. Neil Young: Barn 
  50. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: Raise the Roof 
     
    Archaeological Digs 
  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony   
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street  
  3. The Plastic People of the Universe: Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned 
  4. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits 
  5. Bobo Jenkins: My All-New Life Story 
  6. Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York  
  7. Various Artists: A Stranger I May Be—Savoy Gospel 1954-1966  
  8. ICP Orchestra: Incipient ICP (1966-1971) 
  9. Plastic People of The Universe: Apokalyptickej pták   
  10. Roy Brooks: Understanding 
  11. Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band: The Legendary No Nukes Concerts 
  12. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket  
  13. Mujician: 10 10 10 
  14. Various Artists: Journeys in Modern Jazz–Britain
  15. Leo Nocentelli: Another Side 
  16. Agustin Pereyra Lucena Quartet: La Rana 
  17. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme—Live in Seattle 
  18. Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977 
  19. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame  
  20. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy  
  21. Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop  
  22. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 
  23. The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A 
  24. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire  
  25. Pure Hell: Noise Addiction 

No-Save* November: The Best Recordings Released in 2021 (So Far), Which I’ve Drained My Wallet For Despite Using Multiple Streaming Platforms

Odd-servations:

  1. R. A. P. Ferreira (formerly known as Milo) is having one helluva year. If as a rap aficionado you’re insistent on the freshest, most ticklish, and slammingest beats, move along. But if you dig word-slinging and surprising associations, you best get hip.
  2. Bible and Tire Company’s Sacred Soul of South Carolina is the perfect gospel pairing with Musicmakers Foundation’s contemporary rural blues comp Hanging Tree Guitars (from 2020). Strictly speaking, if you have one and love it, you must do right and get the other. And the “soul” in the title is no exaggeration.
  3. You may be tired of historical theory stirred into your toons. I am not. Keep pouring, luvs. If you’re like me and enjoy critical beatdowns, Mexstep, The Brkn Record, and the irrepressible Irreversible Entanglements each have the musical cocktail for you. And yes, the music is piquant to listen to if you’re not about the science. It does help, though.
  4. South Memphis’ Lukah is one of the most stentorian MCs I’ve heard in a good long while, plus he has two strong records out this year. The new one (bolded, below) is the pick; its politics, flow, and sense of place are astounding, and his sexual philosophy seems to have advanced.
  5. Best news is likely in the archaeological section. This may be a strange list upon which to find Marian Anderson, but, truly, as Duke opined, there’s only two kinds of music, good and bad, and the woman brilliantly blazed a trail. That’s a 15-disc box with both historic and important unreleased recordings, plus brilliant photos and notes, but, um…less than $80*? Also, Bobo Jenkins was a rocking, charming, and eccentric DIY blues guitarist whose career stretched from the ’50s into the late ’70s; if that sounds like your meat and taters, it’s on Third Man and it might have been RSD only, but…c’mon–if you want it, you can track it down. And as far as historical monuments in the rowdier aspects of the modern musical life of Brother Europe go, you can’t beat Corbett vs. Dempsey’s look at the formative days of the masterful and mischievous Instant Composers Pool and Guerilla Records’ top-notch and long-overdue reissue of The Plastic People of the Universe’s truly revolutionary original bootleg.

Next month, I’m gonna get tough with this list, shave it down, get serious about their listenability and durability, and and arrange it into categories of A, A-, B+, and B–since we all have loved grades so much our whole lives. I know you cannot wait. And, yes, I’m very serious about that Wild Up record.

BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list.

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

Archaeological Digs

  1. Marian Anderson: Beyond the Music
  2. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony  
  3. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street
  4. The Plastic People of the Universe: Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned
  5. Bobo Jenkins: My All-New Life Story
  6. Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York
  7. Various Artists: A Stranger I May Be—Savoy Gospel 1954-1966 
  8. ICP Orchestra: Incipient ICP (1966-1971)
  9. Plastic People of The Universe: Apokalyptickej pták  
  10. Roy Brooks: Understanding
  11. Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band: The Legendary No Nukes Concerts
  12. Jimmy Lyons: Push Pull
  13. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket
  14. Leo Nocentelli: Another Side
  15. Agustin Pereyra Lucena Quartet: La Rana
  16. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme—Live in Seattle
  17. Cecil Taylor, Sunny Murray, et al: Corona
  18. Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977
  19. Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975
  20. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame
  21. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy
  22. Bush Tetras: Rhythm and Paranoia—The Best of Bush Tetras
  23. Various Artists: Wallahi Le Zein! 
  24. Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop 
  25. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 
  26. Various Artists: Chicago / The Blues / Today, Volumes 1-3
  27. The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A
  28. Kiko Kids Jazz: Tanganyika Na Uhuru
  29. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album
  30. Alice Coltrane: Kirtan–Turiya Sings 
  31. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire 
  32. Blue Gene Tyranny: Degrees of Freedom Found
  33. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork
  34. Pure Hell: Noise Addiction
  35. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits
  36. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay
  37. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing
  38. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1
  39. Joseph Spence: Encore
  40. Various Artists: Rare.wavs, Volume 1
  41. Bob Dylan: Springtime in New York 1980-1985 (2CD version)

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)

Golden Musical Days – I’d Like to Share Them with You: Superior Slabs, January Through September 2021

Observations and Coat-Pulls:

The Ebony Hillbillies are an all-black string band from NYC that plays traditional, original, and surprising cover material (like “Sexual Healing”). Their several previous releases are all spirited and enjoyable, but their most recent release (at #12 below) is their very best. It’s technically at 2020 release, but it came out in November, I’m a fan, and I just found out about it. In terms of performance and material, they’ve never been sharper–and they always have an edge.

I am not the biggest fan of big ol’ pop releases, but Mickey Guyton’s FINALLY-released debut album (at #16)–it’s technically contemporary country, but it transcends that label–moved the hell out of my wife and me last Saturday night. “Black Like Me” won me over last year when I first heard it on Joe Levy’s “Uprising” playlist on Spotify, but the songs are consistently strong from top to bottom, I love the emotional flexibility of Guyton’s singing, and anyone who can induce me to love a song about relaxing with wine’s got something going for her (I just hear about that a lot because I run with a mostly-female teacher crowd).

Look out when old sage Pete Stampfel and (relatively) young sage Jeffrey Lewis join forces! At #13, they fit new, topical, and fairly hilarious lyrics to old tunes–but not always the usual old tunes you’d associate with Stampfel. It’s not just a novelty; the whole’s possibly better than the sum of its parts.

Swedish drummer/percussionist/composer Florian Arbenz is on a serious roll this year. If you foster an attraction for percussion-focused jazz, you owe to yourself to test-drive both of his Conversation albums; if you’re not sure what it means to foster such an attraction, take a chance it’ll happen to you and try them anyway. (Several folks make multiple appearances on this list: Arbenz, Stampfel, legendary and prolific bassist William Parker, and the late, great modern classical composer Julius Eastman.)

I am an unabashed fan of Little Simz, and I’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for her follow-up to the still-sounding-amazing Grey Area. I’ve checked out the singles as they’ve come out, as well as an early video or two. I told myself not to overreact. Once Sometimes I Might Be Introverted came out (it’s at #11), I played it twice and whispered to myself, “I’m not that impressed.” Well…I am that impressed.

There’s some cool stuff on that new Dylan bootleg load…but not enough, and there’s enough back there for it to be enough. It’s also not as meh as some would think who aren’t already familiar with the highlights (many are, and that’s part of the problem with the load).

I arrived very late at an appreciation for electronic dance music, but, thanks to JLin’s Black Origami, I did arrive. I cannot keep up with it–frankly, I depend on Pitchfork, which is depending on it a bit–to keep me superficially informed, and one may have noticed it appearing more frequently on ye olde list. I like what I like, with absolutely no rubric to press down upon it, and maybe that’s a good thing. #s 35, 54, and 104, I salute you happily and mindlessly!

This is strange, but I would enjoy Kasey Musgraves’ current and previous albums joined as a kind of double-record concept album more than I enjoy them separately. That’s the kind of gestaltist I yam.

ZYDECO LIVES at #39, and I suspect it will always, alongside Keith, Willie, and cockroaches.

Happy listening!

BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list. #s indicate archival music.

  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. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman 
  7. Bob Dylan: Soundtrack to the film Shadow Kingdom (currently unavailable)
  8. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja
  9. No-No Boy: 1975 
  10. The Halluci Nation: One More Saturday Night
  11. Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introverted
  12. The Ebony Hillbillies: Barefoot and Flying (released 11/9/20)
  13. Peter Stampfel and Jeffrey Lewis: Both Ways
  14. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son 
  15. Mauricio Tagliari: Maô_Danças Típicas de Cidades Imaginárias
  16. Mickey Guyton: Remember Her Name
  17. William Parker: Painter’s Winter 
  18. Penelope Scott: Public Void  
  19. Paris: Safe Space Invader 
  20. Dave: We’re All Alone in This Together 
  21. Orquestra Brasileira: 80 Anos
  22. Sons of Kemet: Black to the Future 
  23. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa 
  24. Dawn Richard: Second Line  
  25. Lady Gaga and Friends: Dawn of Chromatica
  26. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son  
  27. Jupiter and Okwess: Na Kozonga 
  28. Kalie Shorr: I Got Here by Accident
  29. Florian Arbenz: Conversations 2 & 3
  30. Ensemble 0: Julius Eastman’s Femenine 
  31. Ches Smith and We All Break: Path of Seven Colors 
  32. Amythyst Kiah: Wary + Strange 
  33. William Parker: Mayan Space Station
  34. Pink Siifu: Gumbo’!
  35. Park Hye Jin: Before I Die
  36. Graham Haynes vs. Submerged: Echolocation 
  37. Tim Berne: Broken Shadows 
  38. Ashnikko: Demidevil  
  39. Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers: Set Me Free
  40. Moor Mother: Black Encyclopedia of the Air
  41. Slaughterhouse: Fun Factory
  42. The Goon Sax: Mirror II 
  43. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty 
  44. Low-Cut Connie: Tough Cookies 
  45. Jaubi: Nafs at Peace (featuring Latamik and Tenderlonious) 
  46. Czarface & MF DOOM: Super What? 
  47. BaianaSystem: OXEAXEEXU 
  48. SAULT: Nine 
  49. McKinley Dixon: For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her 
  50. Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir 
  51. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You 
  52. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction) 
  53. L’Rain: Fatigue 
  54. Native Soul: Teenage Dreams
  55. Emily Duff: Razor Blade Smile
  56. Maria Muldaur & Tuba Skinny: Let’s Get Happy Together 
  57. Ran Cap Duoi: Ngù Ngay Ngày Tân Thê
  58. Angelique Kidjo: Mother Nature 
  59. ICP Orchestra & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil: 062 / De Hondemepper 
  60. Body Metta: The Work is Slow 
  61. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW 
  62. Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough 
  63. Carly Pearce: 29—Written in Stone
  64. Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives 
  65. Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few: Cosmic Transitions
  66. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears 
  67. Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor: Long Tall Sunshine 
  68. JD Allen: Queen City 
  69. Florian Arbenz: Conversation # 1 Condensed
  70. Bleachers: Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night
  71. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley  
  72. Kasey Musgraves: starcrossed
  73. The Boys with The Perpetual Nervousness: Songs from Another Life
  74. Vince Staples: Vince Staples
  75. Various Artists: Indaba Is 
  76. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom 
  77. Chris Conde: Engulfed in the Marvelous Decay
  78. Tropical Fuck Storm: Deep States
  79. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom 
  80. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs 
  81. Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses 
  82. Billie Eilish: Happier Than Ever
  83. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland 
  84. Los Lobos: Native Sons
  85. Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway—Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan 
  86. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales 
  87. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America 
  88. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth 
  89. Les Filles de Illighadad: At Pioneer Works 
  90. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP) 
  91. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: 11th Street, Sekondi 
  92. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg 
  93. AZ: Do or Die
  94. Madlib: Sound Ancestors 
  95. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions 
  96. Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying 
  97. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go 
  98. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine  
  99. girl in red: if I could make it go quiet 
  100. Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club 
  101. Brockhampton: Roadrunner—New Light, New Machine 
  102. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy 
  103. Olivia Rodrigo: SOUR 
  104. RP Boo: Established 
  105. The Bug: Fire
  106. Steve Earle: JT 
  107. Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever 
  108. Halsey: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
  109. Benny The Butcher: Pyrex Picasso
  110. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos
  111. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy  
  112. Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls: Living in the Last Days 
  113. Alder Ego: III 
  114. Sierra Ferrell: Long Time Coming
  115. Alton Gün: Yol 
  116. Meet Me @ The Altar: Model Citizen (EP) 
  117. Penelope Scott: Hazards (EP)
  118. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises 
  119. Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans 
  120. serpentwithfeet: DEACON 
  121. 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. Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977
  10. Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975
  11. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame
  12. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy
  13. Various Artists: Wallahi Le Zein! 
  14. Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop 
  15. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 
  16. Various Artists: Chicago / The Blues / Today, Volumes 1-3 # 
  17. The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A
  18. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album
  19. Alice Coltrane: Kirtan–Turiya Sings 
  20. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire 
  21. Blue Gene Tyranny: Degrees of Freedom Found
  22. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork
  23. Pure Hell: Noise Addiction
  24. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th AnniversaryMixtapes/Groiddest Schizznits Vols. 1-3
  25. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay
  26. Joe Strummer: Assembly
  27. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing # 
  28. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1
  29. Joseph Spence: Encore
  30. Various Artists: Rare.wavs, Volume 1
  31. Bob Dylan: Springtime in New York 1980-1985 (2CD version)

COOL WITH THIS!: Strongest Records of 2021 So Far, By My Lights

Observations:

*The great American music scholar, musician, and composer Allen Lowe, in league with his razor-sharp jazz unit East Axis, knocked out one of his best recordings ever, Cool With That, in the fall of 2020. Ill health proceeded to fall upon him, and though he appears to have survived it, more struggles lay ahead. This is the best free jazz disc yet released in ’21–pay Lowe back and check it out.

*Speaking of jazz players, composers, and freedom, William Parker’s career output is a challenge to explore fully, but do not miss his new release, Mayan Space Station, which features the exciting guitarist Ava Mendoza. Parker’s made a wide variety of records, but never one with six-string this cutting.

*Inexplicably–well, I have been under a lot of stress for many months, and thus distracted–I dropped the ball on Bob Dylan’s there-and-gone film Shadow Kingdom: The Early Songs of Bob Dylan (early–the old fucker’s still got a hell of a sense of humor). I missed it, flat out. Also, instead of simply admiring the indefatigable energy of my longtime lamplight, I occasionally suspect him of, um, gambits; I’m not sure what exactly that means, but maybe “hustle” is a better word. My own gambit not to get my knickers in a twist over the production, however, proved stupid at least from the aural evidence. This morning I was able to access the commercially unavailable soundtrack (cheating, I list it below), and it kicks mountains of ass. Getting sidelined from constant touring’s cleared out his larynx, but more importantly, via neat new arrangements, subtly altered lyrics, and a lot of vim, he made several of his “old” tunes completely fresh–in fact, “To Be Alone With You” and “The Wicked Messenger” (at least) top the originals, and from his current mortal vantage point, “Forever Young” is forever young. BluRay, please?

*My wife Nicole and I helped crowdfund the Smithsonian’s rap project back in 2014, via Kickstarter. The nine-disc box finally arrived in stores this week; it was also our donors’ gift. Even though the tracks stop at 2014, it’s excellently selected and sequenced, it sounds incredible, the accompanying book and vintage photographs are stunning, and…well…it was about damn time. Among the minor quibbles: no DOOM.

*Alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s intense new tribute to Ornette Coleman’s work is the THIRD of the year to make the list, and they’re all so good it makes you miss Ornette even more deeply. PLEASE sample Miguel Zenon’s and Gimenez Lopez’s as well.

*I don’t know any one in person or in cyberspace who loves the British rapper Dave as much as I do. I suppose hardcore hip hop heads might malign his rhyming and flowing skills, or sniff at his beats, but he is the kind of storyteller we need right now, and from the beginning of his last record to the end of his new one I’ve never been bored. In a way, Florence Shaw of the band Dry Cleaning is his narrative sibling; she mostly talks, but it’s what she talks about, and the settings that surround the stories, that count.

*The Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri–COVID Central once already, and probably heading that way again right now. But HEY–if you’re starving for lounge rockabilly with an edge, slide on over to Sundazed Records and check out their latest excavation: the J Ann C Trio Live at Tan-Tar-A (the site of many Missouri public education retreats and worse). Fans of Wanda Jackson and The Skeletons/Morells should NOT miss it.

*I feel like I may have underrated Low Cut Connie’s “Quarantine Concert” covers comp on this list. They’re a group I admire more than I listen to, BUT…this record can open up your waterworks. Adam Weiner is indeed among the last of our eighty-eight-key rock and rollers, and he puts EVERYTHING into these performances. You can feel it in the choices, in his playing, and particularly in the singing–plus? The tough cookies he was referring to were–are, goddam it, we have to be all over again–us.

*The pandemic slowed most musicians, but some, like tenor saxophonist extraordinaire JD Allen, took the bull by the horns and just recorded alone. Allen’s record of solo performances is searing.

*If you’re reading this, you certainly know Bad Brains. Likely, you know Death (well, we all do, but I’m talking about the band). Probably, you don’t know Pure Hell (at least you don’t know the band by that name). Yep: there were at least THREE punk bands of color in the ’70s.

*I want to thank the longtime record gobbler and music sage Tom Hull for regularly linking me on his absolutely essential blog. He is a giant when it comes to keeping fanatics informed about the best of the wide range of music humans make, and he is quite a sharp political mind and cook as well. I am truly humbled he occasionally checks this spot out, and it’s perhaps out of embarrassment that I’ve started commenting more as well as thinking about and slapping down a damned list. Anyone can do that. (I DO listen to them all, though–just sayin’….LOL….)

*I totally love what Sweden’s Jobcentre Rejects label has been up to lately: digging up spunky but obscure Rust Belt metal from the early Eighties. Mistreater’s album is on the main list, and Axxe’s killer 45 is down on my teensie singles listing below. Thing is, there was no pomp in these bands; they existed solely to head-bang and lay down the bad-ass sound–the bad-ass non-technophilic sound, I should say.

BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list. #s indicate archival music.

  1. Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim 
  1. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street #
  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony  
  1. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon 
  1. East Axis: Cool With That 
  1. William Parker: Mayan Space Station 
  1. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman 
  1. Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop #
  1. Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York # 
  1. Tim Berne: Broken Shadows 
  1. Bob Dylan: Soundtrack to the film Shadow Kingdom 
  1. Plastic People of The Universe: Apokalyptickej pták  #
  1. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa 
  1. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket # 
  1. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son  
  1. AUM Grand Ensemble x Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine 
  1. Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977 # 
  1. No-No Boy: 1975 
  1. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son 
  1. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja 
  1. Penelope Scott: Public Void  
  1. Paris: Safe Space Invader 
  1. Various Artists: A Stranger I May Be—Savoy Gospel 1954-1966 # 
  1. Dave: We’re All Alone in This Together 
  1. Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975 # 
  1. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame # 
  1. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy # 
  1. Ashnikko: Demidevil  
  1. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction) 
  1. L’Rain: Fatigue 
  1. Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway—Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan 
  1. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 
  1. Various Artists: Chicago / The Blues / Today, Volumes 1-3 # 
  1. Dry Cleaning: Sweet Princess (EP) 
  1. Sons of Kemet: Black to the Future 
  1. Graham Haynes vs. Submerged: Echolocation 
  1. Dawn Richard: Second Line  
  1. Jupiter and Okwess: Na Kozonga 
  1. The Goon Sax: Mirror II 
  1. The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A #
  1. Brockhampton: Roadrunner—New Light, New Machine 
  1. Ches Smith and We All Break: Path of Seven Colors 
  1. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album # 
  1. Amythyst Kiah: Wary + Strange 
  1. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth 
  1. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty 
  1. Low-Cut Connie: Tough Cookies 
  1. Jaubi: Nafs at Peace (featuring Latamik and Tenderlonious) 
  1. Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor: Long Tall Sunshine 
  1. Czarface & MF DOOM: Super What? 
  1. BaianaSystem: OXEAXEEXU 
  1. SAULT: Nine 
  1. McKinley Dixon: For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her 
  1. Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir 
  1. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You 
  1. Maria Muldaur & Tuba Skinny: Let’s Get Happy Together 
  1. Angelique Kidjo: Mother Nature 
  1. ICP Orchestra & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil: 062 / De Hondemepper 
  1. Body Metta: The Work is Slow 
  1. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW 
  1. Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough 
  1. Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives 
  1. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears 
  1. Alice Coltrane: Kirtan–Turiya Sings #
  1. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire 
  1. Blue Gene Tyranny: Degrees of Freedom Found # 
  1. JD Allen: Queen City 
  1. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley  
  1. Various Artists: Wallahi Le Zein! 
  1. Various Artists: Indaba Is 
  1. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom 
  1. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom 
  1. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork # 
  1. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs 
  1. Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses 
  1. Pure Hell: Noise Addiction #
  1. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland 
  1. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales 
  1. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits, Volumes 1-3
  1. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute 
  1. Les Filles de Illighadad: At Pioneer Works 
  1. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP) 
  1. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: 11th Street, Sekondi 
  1. Various Artists: Rare.wavs, Volume 1 #
  1. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg 
  1. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay # 
  1. Madlib: Sound Ancestors 
  1. Joe Strummer: Assembly # 
  1. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions 
  1. Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying 
  1. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go 
  1. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine  
  1. girl in red: if I could make it go quiet 
  1. Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club 
  1. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing # 
  1. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy 
  1. Olivia Rodrigo: SOUR 
  1. Steve Earle: JT 
  1. Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever 
  1. Tony Allen (and friends): There is No End 
  1. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos 
  1. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy  
  1. Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls: Living in the Last Days 
  1. Alder Ego: III 
  1. Garbage: No Gods No Masters 
  1. Shem Tube, Justo Osala, Enos Okola: Guitar Music of Western Kenya 
  1. Contour: Love Suite 
  1. Alton Gün: Yol 
  1. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1 # 
  1. Hearth: Melt 
  1. Trak Trak: Sur Sur 
  1. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises 
  1. Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans 
  1. serpentwithfeet: DEACON 
  1. Rodrigo Amado & This is Our Language Quartet: Let the Free Be Men 

SINGLES

Dry Cleaning: “Bug Eggs”/”Tony Speaks!” 

Steve Lehman:: “Cognition” (JLin remix

Henry Threadgill: “Clear and Distinct” (Georgia Ann Muldrow remix) 

Axxe: “Through the Night” / Rock Away the City”