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.

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  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

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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:

Bedroom-Mirror Air Guitar Classics! (February 1st, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

Everyone worth his salt has a private pantheon of classics that can only be fully appreciated “performed” on air guitar into his bedroom mirror. Maybe you didn’t need a mirror; I did–I was building myself, sometimes confronting myself. Maybe you lip-synched; I sang myself hoarse. I’m sure we can tell from a long, hard, cold-eyed look at our BMAG Top 10 more about ourselves than we’d really like to know, but I’m gonna roll out mine and cogitate.

1) Manfred Mann: “Pretty Flamingo” (see above)–I related to the yearning in Paul Jones’ singing, the hopelessness of the lyric (in the face of pulchritude), and the slashing, ultra-miked rhythm guitar…perfect for the mirror!

2) Cher: “Half-Breed”–As the result of atrocities committed by my sixth-grade teacher, I had a sensitivity to social justice as a young man. And I had a crush on Cher. In the mirror, I always felt like I was singing to her, not with her. Plus: that husky voice, which has some edge on it here, was perfect for a dude like me.

3) Richard Hell & The Voidoids: “Love Comes in Spurts”–Why couldn’t Hell and Quine be one person, and I be that person? It’s fascinating to observe what the mirror does. This comes out of the gate like Little Richard, and though I now know the facts, it still cuts like an axe.

4) Gary Stewart: “Single Again”–Really, any Stewart classic. Oh, to be able to sell a song this undeniably. What a great actor, or was he?

5) The Ramones: “Questioningly”–Again, a great rhythm guitar song is a great air guitar song for the mirror. Also, it’s great FUN to try to match all of Joey’s wonderful nuances; this is truly a great singer’s greatest singing performance. “Looked at huh cluss / Fahssed huh into view.”

6) Howard Tate: “Get It While You Can”–I wanna be black…let’s see. Mr. Tate was always a top-shelf mask, and the lyric always suited my philosophical disposition.

7) Joe Tex: “Hold What You Got”–Along the same lines, but a guy can get lost in an arrangement and a singing performance of such delicacy. You have to pay close attention to hang in with Jimmy Johnson’s guitar; you can’t forget the bell chimes on “1-2-3”; you have to nail Joe’s sublime falsetto flight. Mirror difficulty level a 10.

8) Richard and Linda Thompson: “When I Get to The Border”–There’s that rhythm guitar again (plus some other impressive stringed instruments). And a fine, fine outlook–for those days when you want to resign from the human race. Or lift a pint or two (I often had when I stepped to the broom handle).

9) Hüsker Dü: “Eight Miles High”–Face it, you didn’t know The Byrds’ words anyway (likely, neither did Mould); just look forward, as we often do, to screaming bloody murder. And dreaming of playing guitar this way.

10) Lou Reed: “Turn to Me”–Perhaps it’s strange that a Reed fan as serious as I am would choose this one to simulate, but, note: the rhythm guitar (I’ve always thought I could play it, maybe that’s it), the humor, the lyrics…and the warmth. Oh yes: the bass playing!

What are your Top 10 songs for yelling and strumming into the mirror?

January Top 10: Best of 2018 So Far

I realize that many of the choices below are actually releases from 2017, but they are fresh enough and so hard to have gotten one’s hands on that I’m-a have to count them. Happy hunting, and enjoy the above playlist of highlight tracks (excluding the Dawkins album, as no video was available.

  1. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  2. Princess Nokia: 1992
  3. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  4. CupcaKe: Ephora
  5. Ernest Dawkins: Transient Takes
  6. Rahim Alhaj: Letters from Iraq
  7. Moor Mother: Fetish the Bones
  8. Joey Badass: All-Amerikkkan Badass
  9. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  10. Ty Segall: Freedom’s Goblin

Devil Ain’t Fine: DJ Philly Phil’s 110 Favorite Albums of 2017, Plus 85 Old Records Whose Acquaintance He Just Made, That Helped Him Survive This Mess

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It’s been one helluva hard year–but when has one not been lately, and when has music not been succor? At one time or another, each of these 195 records has acted as a spell–however temporary–to vanquish the horror from my ears, eyes, and mind. To remind me that maybe all is not lost, that we are capable of bounteous joy when we are inspired, especially, perhaps, when we are inspired by the void.

I’m not one to theorize, and I am too convinced by chaos to believe that a given year’s list of recordings can be read like tea leaves and divined from. But, scanning mine again, I can see some things that finally dawned on me, some things I’ve always loved become far more important to me and sound so much more inexhaustible than I ever would have predicted, and some things that, mercifully, were the direct result of humans I actually know pushing me (as opposed to me retreating into a bubble of books and blogs, and just drifting and hacking my way through a jungle alone). I mean, it’s not like I don’t listen to people, but I have a tendency to mutter, “Hey, I know what I’m doing here.”

Dawnings: Electronic music, which I’d always appreciated but never been elevated by. Ah, yes–I’d like a Fourth World to choose to inhabit every day, an Outro Tempo to swing to every night, and a Mono No Aware to hourly heighten my consciousness. Perhaps I’m waxing too clever, but the stuff I’m alluding to was like a good massage: ultimately soothing but not without hitting spots that made me wince.

Inexhaustibles: I have loved free jazz since I first heard Ornette Coleman–I was young and dumb in ’82, but I can remember thinking, “This sounds beautiful, not crazy, and it’s not that free!”–but, to be honest, I’d always assumed that once I oozed into the second half of my life, I’d probably be seeking things that were easier, since surely my life would become more difficult. Well, life–not necessarily mine, but that’s not all that important a distinction–has become more difficult, often I do need easier things in my ear, but, lo and behold, free jazz (free experimental music, if you choose) has become easier. Not just easier, but more engaging, more thought-provoking, more exciting, funnier and wiser than I’d ever heard it to be and expected it to stay. That applies to many recordings I was already familiar with, but breaking into a trove of really, really hard-to-locate masterpieces from St. Louis’ Black Arts Group (late ’60s to early ’70s–gone to soon, but their seeds drifted elsewhere) and being led by such perceptive writers as John Corbett and Kevin Whitehead to the London Jazz Composer’s Orchestra and Instant Composer’s Pool were straight-up blessings that rearranged my mind and cleaned out the wax. And I know this wish is in vain, but I hope Joe McPhee never dies.

Humans: I thank my students at Stephens College for opening my stubborn ears to The Internet, Rhiannon Giddens, SZA, and Lana Del Rey–and for indirectly helping me access a moving, depressive, and daring vein of what I suppose I have to call r&b but which I really believe is something new that’s just starting to blossom. I thank so many old friends: Whitney Shroyer, for tugging my coat about Harlem River Drive and Sunshine Daydream, John Schooley, for convincing me to take a chance on Link Wray’s Polydors, Isaac Davila, for stoking the fire of my interest in electronic music, and Nicole, my wife of 27 years, for setting us both off on a Latin rampage after we saw Eddie Palmieri’s 80th birthday show. Last but not least, I thank the lively Facebook group Expert Witness, several members of which I have indeed met in reality and many more I seriously intend to, for pointing me hither and yon and often assuring me my instincts were right about the greatness of, just for example, Albums Number 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 in my Top 10–records the titles of which might well look very foreign to you but which you better lean in to. (Though I do not need it, I await affirmation on #4!)

Suggestion for everyone reading this: host some listening parties starting today, and get out of your comfort zones.

OK…on with it! Here’s some great stuff, most of which is linked so you can sample it immediately. In my Hot 100 are some recordings that are old but that have never been released before–at least not in the present form. Also, I’m with Duke Ellington in ignoring categories and just seeking out good music; I see no reason why you can’t queue up some free improvised music like William Parker’s right after the joyous dance music of Ibibio Sound Machine and have a killer time.

The Top 40? In order of my preference for them. The Final 70? In random order. The 85 older releases that crept up on me? Alphabetized for your convenience!

  1. Zeal and Ardor: Devil is Fine
  2. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyai
  3. Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
  4. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Kalenda
  5. Lana Del Rey: Lust for Life
  6. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound
  7. JLin: Black Origami
  8. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is
  9. Harriet Tubman: Araminta
  10. Various Artists: Miracle Steps (Music from The Fourth World 1983-2017)
  11. Golden Pelicans: Disciples of Blood
  12. William Parker: Meditation – Resurrection
  13. Various Artists: Sweet as Broken Dates–Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa
  14. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Talk Tight
  15. Peter Perrett: How the West Was Won
  16. Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
  17. Various Artists: Even a Tree Can Shed Tears–Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973
  18. Steve Earle and The Dukes: So You Wannabe an Outlaw?
  19. Gogol Bordello: Seekers and Finders
  20. Roscoe Mitchell: Bells for The South Side
  21. Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Loafer’s Hollow
  22. Hamad Kalkaba: Hamad Kalkaba and The Golden Sounds 1974-1975
  23. Angaleena Presley: Wrangled
  24. Various Artists: Battle Hymns
  25. Les Amazones D’Afrique: Republique Amazone
  26. The Revelators: …we told you not to cross us (20th Anniversary Edition)
  27. Syd: Fin
  28. Steve Lacy: Steve Lacy’s Demo (EP)
  29. The Perceptionists: Resolution
  30. Kendrick Lamar: Damn
  31. Sampha: Process
  32. Waxahatchee: Out in the Storm
  33. Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now
  34. Burnt Sugar: All You Zombies Dig The Luminosity
  35. Fat Tony: MacGregor Park
  36. Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem
  37. Body Count: Blood Lust
  38. John Waters: Make Trouble
  39. Filthy Friends: Invitation
  40. Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa
  41. Prince: Purple Rain – 2017 Deluxe Remaster
  42. New Pornographers: Whiteout Conditions
  43. The Goon Sax: Up to Anything
  44. Kelela: Take Me Apart
  45. Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound
  46. Arto Lindsay: Cuidado Madame
  47. Half Cleveland: Live at the Wi-Fi
  48. Thurst: Cut to the Chafe
  49. SZA: CTRL
  50. Jackie Shane: Any Other Way
  51. Mavis Staples: If All I Was Was Black
  52. Maximum Ernst: Maximum Ernst
  53. Oddisee: The Iceberg
  54. Tamikrest: Kidal
  55. Tyshawn Sorey: Verismilitude
  56. John Escreet: The Unknown
  57. Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II – Emerging Worlds 
  58. James Luther Dickinson: I’m Just Dead I’m Not Gone (Lazarus Edition) READ THE BOOK!
  59. Obnox: Niggative Approach
  60. Aram Bajakian: Dalava–The Book of Transfigurations
  61. (The Late) Mariem Hassan: La Voz Indominata
  62. Trio 3: Visiting Texture
  63. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers: Sidelong
  64. Jay-Z: 4:44
  65. Aruan Ortiz: Cub(an)ism
  66. Wadada Leo Smith: Solo–Reflections and Meditations on Monk
  67. Alice Coltrane: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
  68. Shabazz Palaces: Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star
  69. Young Thug: Beautiful Thugger Girls
  70. Ty Segall: Fried Shallots
  71. Tony Allen: A Tribute to Art Blakey
  72. Trio de Kali w/ The Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan
  73. Hard Working Americans: We’re All in This Together
  74. Randy Weston: African Nubian Suite
  75. Gato Preto: Tempo
  76. Tinariwen: Elwan
  77. Shina Williams: Agb’oju L’Ogun
  78. Let’s Eat Grandma: I, Gemini
  79. Ross Johnson and Lesa Aldridge: Lesa and Ross
  80. Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator
  81. Various Artists: Mono No Aware
  82. Karreim Riggins: Headnod Suite
  83. Various Artists: Outro Tempo–Electronic And Contemporary Music From Brazil 1978-1992
  84. Omou Sangare: Mogoya
  85. Daddy Issues: Can We Still Hang?
  86. Bob Dylan: Triplicate
  87. Pierre Kwenders: MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time
  88. Brix & The Extricated: Part 2
  89. Tomasz Stanko: December Avenue
  90. Dion: Kickin’ Child–The Lost Album 1965
  91. Lee Ann Womack: The Lonely, The Lonesome, and The Gone
  92. Chuck Berry: Chuck
  93. Joe King Cologbo & High Grace: Sugar Daddy
  94. Don Bryant: Don’t Give Up On Love
  95. Thelonious Monk: Soundtrack to Les Liaisons Dangereuses
  96. Shabazz Palaces: Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines
  97. David S. Ware: Live in New York City 2010
  98. Thundercat: Drunk
  99. Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson, and Marc Ribot: Err Guitar
  100. Erica Falls: Home Grown
  101. Bill Evans: Some Other Time–The Lost Session from the Black Forest
  102. Open Mike Eagle: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
  103. Husker Du: Savage Young Du
  104. The Replacements: For Sale–Live at Maxwell’s
  105. Pere Ubu: 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo
  106. Miguel: War & Leisure
  107. 2 Chainz: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
  108. The Paranoid Style: Underworld USA (EP)
  109. Sun Ra: Discipline 27-li
  110. Migos: Culture

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85 Great Older Releases That I’ve Bought in ’17 That I Still Can’t Get Enough Of

(If it’s bolded, I’ve been hooked on the thing quite seriously)

  1. Allison, Mose: I’m Not Talkin’—The Song Stylings of Mose Allison 1957-1972
  2. Amobi, Chino: Paradiso
  3. Anonymous 4: The Lily & The Lamb–Chant & Polyphony from Medieval England
  4. Avengers: Died for Your Sins
  5. Les Amazones de Guinée: Au coeur de Paris & M’mah Sylla (Bolibana Collection)
  6. Anderson, Fred, and Hamid Drake: …together again
  7. Astatke, Mulatu: Mulatu of Ethiopia
  8. Ben, Jorge: Africa Brasil
  9. Black Artists Group: In Paris 1973
  10. Blassie, Fred: Nothin’ But a Pencil Neck Geek!
  11. Blythe, Arthur: Illusions
  12. Breuker, Willem: Bob’s Gallery
  13. Bowie, David: Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74)
  14. Carmichael, Hoagy: Music Master
  15. Case, Neko: The Tigers Have Spoken
  16. Cochran, Wayne: Wayne Cochran!
  17. Cohran, Philip: Armageddon
  18. Coursil, Jacques: Trails of Tears
  19. The Creation: Action Painting
  20. Curtis, King: Instant Soul–The Legendary King Curtis
  21. Davis, Anthony: Episteme
  22. Del Rey, Lana: Hollywood
  23. Dion and The Belmonts: Together Again
  24. d/j Rupture: Minesweeper Suite
  25. Dog Life: Dog Life
  26. Dog Life: Fresh from the Ruins
  27. E: E
  28. Eggleston, Cozy: Grand Slam
  29. Fela: The Best of Black President, Volume 2
  30. Fela: Live in Detroit
  31. Foc’sle Singers: Foc’sle Songs and Shanties
  32. Gibbs, Melvin: Ancients Speak (all hail Pete Cosey!)
  33. Goblin: Soundtrack to the film Suspiria
  34. Gonzalez, Dennis: Idle Wild
  35. Gonzalez, Dennis: Nile River Suite
  36. Grateful Dead: Sunshine Daydream
  37. Harlem River Drive
  38. Hassell, Jon: Dream Theory in Malaya–Fourth World, Volume Two
  39. Hemphill, Julius: Coon Bidness
  40. Human Arts Ensemble: Whisper of Dharma
  41. Ink Spots: These Cats Are High
  42. Instant Composers Pool: Aan & Uit
  43. Jamal, Ahmad: The Awakening
  44. JJ DOOM: Bookhead
  45. Kelela: Cut 4 Me
  46. King: We Are King (would have been in my 2016 Top Ten had I been on the ball)
  47. Kyle, K. Curtis: The Collected Poem for Blind Lemon Jefferson
  48. London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Theoria
  49. Mateen, Sabir: Prophecies Come True
  50. McGann, Bernie: Playground
  51. McPhee, Joe: At Willisau
  52. McPhee, Joe: “The Loneliest Woman”
  53. McPhee, Joe: Tenor / Fallen Angel
  54. Mitchell, Joni: Hejira
  55. The Montgomery Brothers: Groove Yard
  56. Orchestra Regionale De Mopti
  57. Various Artists: Spiritual Jazz #7—Islam
  58. Patrick, Pat, and Baritone Retinue: Sound Advice
  59. Perry, Lee Scratch: Dub Triptych
  60. Perry, Lee Scratch: Presents African Roots
  61. Perry, Lee Scratch: Voodooism
  62. Prince Jazzbo: Ital Corner
  63. Pullen, Don, and Beaver Harris: A Well-Kept Secret
  64. Rah Digga: Everything is a Story
  65. Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Face to Face
  66. Stanko, Tomasz: Leosia
  67. Sullivan, Maxine: Close as Pages in a Book
  68. Sun Ra: The Space Age Is Here to Stay
  69. Swell Maps: Jane from Occupied Europe
  70. Swell Maps: A Trip to Marineville
  71. Tate, Buddy: Jive at Five
  72. This Heat: Out of Cold Storage
  73. Thomas, Luther, and Human Arts Ensemble: Funky Donkey Vols. 1 & 2
  74. Thornton, Clifford: The Panther and The Lash
  75. Morgan, Lee: Live at The Lighthouse
  76. Various Artists: After-School Special—The 123s of Kid Soul
  77. Various Artists: American Epic (yes, the sound really is that much of an improvement)
  78. Various Artists: Hanoi Masters–War is A Wound, Peace is a Scar
  79. Various Artists: Killed by Death #5
  80. Various Artists: The Original Sounds of Mali
  81. Various Artists: Cumbia Cumbia 1 & 2
  82. Various Artists: Songs from Saharan Cell Phones, 1 & 2
  83. Various Artists: The Poppyseeds–The Sound of Crenshaw
  84. White, Ruth: Flowers of Evil
  85. Wray, Link: Three-Track Shack

 

 

My Fav-O-Rite New and Old Records of 2017, Considered from the Position of Listening to Them to Ward Off Fear and Despair Throughout its First Three Quarters

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What can I tell you? I’d hoped things (i. e., our American life) would be much better by now, since I last posted a lazy list–for the time being, I cannot write, a kind of impotence I am sure is related to political distraction. However, “fury and fire” are the order of the day, so I guess I’ll be leaning even harder on music to get me from rising from my pillow in the morning to lowering my head back upon it at night. These records keep me believing in a decent future, and in a humanity that continues to evolve. Big ups to St. Louis’ Black Artists Group contingent, my research into which has been exciting; to the Golden Pelicans, who are the Black Oak Arkansas of hard-ass punk rock; to the ebullient Eno Williams, who powers the exultant Ibibio Sound Machine; to Tyshawn Sorey, who is always looking for a way forward; and to the indefatigable musical exploration of John Corbett, who’s damn-near supplanted every other music writer in my esteem. I’ve taken the time to link all the new releases to clips for you to enjoy (that is, except for Jay Z, because, as nice as his old-dude album is technically and artistically, I’m done for now with caring about the lives of the very rich), and I did my best to do the same for the older rekkids I am digging, but…shit, you know how to get to YouTube, correct?

Important Addendum: The Lost Bayou Ramblers crashed the Top 10 out of nowhere with the hardest-rocking, most eccentrically textured Cajun record in years, Kalenda–which is my favorite record right now, but it just dropped today (9/29/17). Also, against all my strongest, well-honed instincts, I’ve been broken by Lana Del Rey. A six-hour immersion in her catalogue justified the hype and more, though I would still opine that a little goes a long (but deep) way.

Kalenda

TOP 85 New Releases of the First 3/4ths of 2017:

  1. Zeal and Ardor: Devil is Fine
  2. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyai
  3. Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
  4. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Kalenda
  5. Lana Del Rey: Lust for Life
  6. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound
  7. Harriet Tubman: Araminta
  8. Various Artists: Miracle Steps (Music from The Fourth World 1983-2017)
  9. Golden Pelicans: Disciples of Blood
  10. William Parker: Meditation – Resurrection
  11. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is
  12. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Talk Tight
  13. Peter Perrett: How the West Was Won
  14. Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
  15. The Perceptionists: Resolution
  16. Steve Earle and The Dukes: So You Wannabe an Outlaw?
  17. Roscoe Mitchell: Bells for The South Side
  18. Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Loafer’s Hollow
  19. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers: Sidelong
  20. Angaleena Presley: Wrangled
  21. Various Artists: Battle Hymns
  22. Obnox: Niggative Approach
  23. Aram Bajakian: Dalava–The Book of Transfigurations
  24. Syd: Fin
  25. Steve Lacy: Steve Lacy’s Demo (EP) (Not the late jazz soprano master Steve Lacy, BTW!)
  26. Kendrick Lamar: Damn
  27. Sampha: Process
  28. Waxahatchee: Out in the Storm
  29. Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now
  30. Burnt Sugar: All You Zombies Dig The Luminosity
  31. Thurst: Cut to the Chafe
  32. Filthy Friends: Invitation
  33. Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound
  34. Arto Lindsay: Cuidado Madame
  35. Body Count: Blood Lust
  36. Les Amazones D’Afrique: Republique Amazone
  37. Maximum Ernst: Maximum Ernst
  38. Oddisee: The Iceberg
  39. Tamikrest: Kidal
  40. Tyshawn Sorey: Verismilitude
  41. John Escreet: The Unknown
  42. James Luther Dickinson: I’m Just Dead I’m Not Gone (Lazarus Edition) READ THE BOOK!
  43. (The Late) Mariem Hassan: La Voz Indominata
  44. Trio 3: Visiting Texture
  45. Gogol Bordello: Seekers and Finders
  46. Jay-Z: 4:44
  47. Randy Newman: Dark Matter
  48. Alice Coltrane: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
  49. Shabazz Palaces: Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star
  50. New Pornographers: Whiteout Conditions
  51. Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem
  52. Ty Segall: Fried Shallots
  53. Tony Allen: A Tribute to Art Blakey
  54. Trio de Kali w/ The Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan
  55. Hard Working Americans: We’re All in This Together
  56. Randy Weston: African Nubian Suite
  57. Gato Preto: Tempo
  58. Tinariwen: Elwan
  59. Shina Williams: Agb’oju L’Ogun
  60. Let’s Eat Grandma: I, Gemini
  61. Ross Johnson and Lesa Aldridge: Lesa and Ross
  62. The Goon Sax: Up to Anything
  63. Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator
  64. Various Artists: Mono No Aware
  65. Karreim Riggins: Headnod Suite
  66. Various Artists: Outro Tempo–Electronic And Contemporary Music From Brazil 1978-1992
  67. Omou Sangare: Mogoya
  68. Daddy Issues: Can We Still Hang?
  69. Nots: “Cruel Friend” / “Violence”
  70. Bob Dylan: Triplicate
  71. Pierre Kwenders: MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time
  72. Damaged Bug: Bunker Funk
  73. Tomasz Stanko: December Avenue
  74. Black Lips: Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art
  75. Chuck Berry: Chuck
  76. Joe King Cologbo & High Grace: Sugar Daddy
  77. Don Bryant: Don’t Give Up On Love
  78. Public Enemy: Nothing is Quick in the Desert
  79. Shabazz Palaces: Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines
  80. David S. Ware: Live in New York City 2010
  81. Thundercat: Drunk
  82. Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson, and Marc Ribot: Err Guitar
  83. Erica Falls: Home Grown
  84. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Ruler Rebel
  85. Open Mike Eagle: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

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65 Great Older Releases That I’ve Bought in ’17 That I Still Can’t Get Enough Of

(If it’s bolded, I’ve been hooked on the thing quite seriously)

  1. Allison, Mose: I’m Not Talkin’—The Song Stylings of Mose Allison 1957-1972
  2. Avengers: Died for Your Sins
  3. Les Amazones de Guinée: Au coeur de Paris & M’mah Sylla (Bolibana Collection)
  4. Anderson, Fred, and Hamid Drake: …together again
  5. Astatke, Mulatu: Mulatu of Ethiopia
  6. Black Artists Group: In Paris 1973
  7. Blythe, Arthur: Illusions
  8. Bowie, David: Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74)
  9. Carmichael, Hoagy: Music Master
  10. Case, Neko: The Tigers Have Spoken
  11. Cochran, Wayne: Wayne Cochran!
  12. Cohran, Philip: Armageddon
  13. Coursil, Jacques: Trails of Tears
  14. The Creation: Action Painting
  15. Curtis, King: Instant Soul–The Legendary King Curtis
  16. Davis, Anthony: Episteme
  17. Dion: Kickin’ Child–The Lost Album 1965
  18. Dion and The Belmonts: Together Again
  19. d/j Rupture: Minesweeper Suite
  20. E: E
  21. Eggleston, Cozy: Grand Slam
  22. Evans, Bill: Some Other Time–The Lost Session from the Black Forest
  23. Fela: The Best of Black President, Volume 2
  24. Fela: Live in Detroit
  25. Gibbs, Melvin: Ancients Speak(all hail Pete Cosey!)
  26. Gonzalez, Dennis: Idle Wild
  27. Gonzalez, Dennis: Nile River Suite
  28. Hemphill, Julius: Coon Bidness
  29. Human Arts Ensemble: Whisper of Dharma
  30. Ink Spots: These Cats Are High
  31. Instant Composers Pool: Aan & Uit
  32. Jamal, Ahmad: The Awakening
  33. JJ DOOM: Bookhead
  34. King: We Are King (would have been in my 2016 Top Ten had I been on the ball)
  35. Kyle, K. Curtis: The Collected Poem for Blind Lemon Jefferson
  36. London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Theoria
  37. McGann, Bernie: Playground
  38. McPhee, Joe: “The Loneliest Woman”
  39. Monk, Thelonious: Soundtrack to Les Liaisons Dangereuses
  40. Orchestra Regionale De Mopti
  41. Various Artists: Spiritual Jazz #7—Islam
  42. Patrick, Pat, and Baritone Retinue: Sound Advice
  43. Perry, Lee Scratch: Dub Triptych
  44. Perry, Lee Scratch: Presents African Roots
  45. Perry, Lee Scratch: Voodooism
  46. Prince: Purple Rain – 2017 Deluxe Remaster
  47. Prince Jazzbo: Ital Corner
  48. Pullen, Don, and Beaver Harris: A Well-Kept Secret
  49. Revelators: …we told you not to cross us (20th Anniversary Edition)
  50. Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Face to Face
  51. Stanko, Tomasz: Leosia
  52. Sun Ra: The Space Age Is Here to Stay
  53. This Heat: Out of Cold Storage
  54. Thomas, Luther, and Human Arts Ensemble: Funky Donkey Vols. 1 & 2
  55. Thornton, Clifford: The Panther and The Lash
  56. Morgan, Lee: Live at The Lighthouse
  57. Various Artists: After-School Special—The 123s of Kid Soul
  58. Various Artists: Hanoi Masters–War is A Wound, Peace is a Scar
  59. Various Artists: Killed by Death #5
  60. Various Artists: The Original Sounds of Mali
  61. Various Artists: The Poppyseeds–The Sound of Crenshaw
  62. Various Artists: Songs from Saharan Cell Phones, 1 & 2
  63. Washington, Dinah: Live at Newport 1958
  64. White, Ruth: Flowers of Evil
  65. Wray, Link: Three-Track Shack