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” 

90 Degrees of Freedom Found: My Favorite Rekkid Releases of 2021, and We’re Only Halfway There

Random observations on the recent explosion of excellent recordings I always should expect but never do and grouse about the paucity of then look dim-witted as a result of my shitty memory:

  1. You may think I’m a little nuts by including so many box sets, but they really are that good and I have been listening to them. Is sitting around listening to box set really a pop thang? Should I even care? Somebody’s gotta do it.
  2. The Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenon is having a great year. He’s on two records here (Law Years and Path of Seven Colors) and his duet album of boleros with Luis Perdomo is stunning but I need to listen to it one more time.
  3. I have moved many items around, but I finally hooked right into AUM Grand Ensemble & Ensemble O’s interpretation of Julius Eastman’s Femenine. Eastman’s having a MUCH-deserved revisiting and several interpretations of this piece are out there, but none this hypnotic and beautiful.
  4. How much mileage does SAULT get out of mystique?
  5. I’ll have some of what Loretty’s having, please.
  6. I’m sorry, I just don’t fucking trust Lana Del Rey and I really despise Olivia Rodrigo’s single, but the sonics and words of the former’s album (I’m just blocking out her persona) and the rest of the latter’s songs (for the most part) have broken my resistance. For now.
  7. That Screamers excavation is the first new record I have surprised my wife Nicole with that we both instantly jumped up and down joyfully to. Myself, I’d really mostly only read about them in West Coast punk tomes, but after a 40-year-burial this item really explodes out of the vault.
  8. Is it fair to list Record Store Day releases on these lists? I admit I just lie in wait with my bobber floating in eBay Lake, and I assume anyone else can as well.
  9. If you’re needing a guitar-helping and moping ’cause you can locate one, I urge you to dip into the Moctar, Arby, and Young items in the Top 10. Seriously.
  10. SUPPORT FIRE IN LITTLE AFRICA’S PROJECT. It’s worthy.

BOLDED ITEMS ARE NEW TO THE LIST.

Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim

JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street #

Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony 

James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon

Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman

Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York #

Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket #

R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son 

AUM Grand Ensemble x Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine

Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977 #

No-No Boy: 1975

Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son

Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja

Penelope Scott: Public Void 

Paris: Safe Space Invader

Various Artists: A Stranger I May Be—Savoy Gospel 1954-1966 #

Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975 #

Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame #

Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy #

Ashnikko: Demidevil 

Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction)

Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway—Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall #

Various Artists: Chicago / The Blues / Today, Volumes 1-3 #

Dry Cleaning: Sweet Princess (EP)

Sons of Kemet: Black to the Future

Dawn Richard: Second Line 

Brockhampton: Roadrunner—New Light, New Machine

Ches Smith and We All Break: Path of Seven Colors

Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album #

Amythyst Kiah: Wary + Strange

Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth

Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty

Jaubi: Nafs at Peace (featuring Latamik and Tenderlonious)

SAULT: Nine

Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir

Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You

Angelique Kidjo: Mother Nature

ICP Orchestra & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil: 062 / De Hondemepper

Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW

Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough

Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives

Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears

Mistreater: Hell’s Fire #

Blue Gene Tyranny: Degrees of Freedom Found #

Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley 

Various Artists: Wallahi Le Zein!

Various Artists: Indaba Is

Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom

Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom

Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork #

Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs

Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses

Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland

Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits, Volumes 1-3#

Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute

Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP)

Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: 11th Street, Sekondi

Various Artists: Rare.wavs, Volume 1

Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg

Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay #

Madlib: Sound Ancestors

Joe Strummer: Assembly #

Julien Baker: Little Oblivions

Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying

Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go

Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine 

girl in red: if I could make it go quiet

Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club

Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing #

Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy

Olivia Rodrigo: SOUR

Steve Earle: JT

Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever

Tony Allen (and friends): There is No End

Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos

The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy 

Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls: Living in the Last Days

Alder Ego: III

Garbage: No Gods No Masters

Shem Tube, Justo Osala, Enos Okola: Guitar Music of Western Kenya

Contour: Love Suite

Alton Gün: Yol

Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1 #

Hearth: Melt

Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises

Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans

serpentwithfeet: DEACON

AFTERNOTE (is that a word?):

Top 10 Artists I’ve Been Listening to Over the Last 72 hours / A Nod to Will Friedwald

Carmen McRae (I’m pretty much always listening to–at the very least hearing in my head–Lady McRae)

Anita O’Day (I’m pretty much always listening to–at the very least hearing in my head–Lady O’Day)

Moody Marilyn Moore

Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards

Herb Jeffries

Jackie Paris

Carol Sloane

Earl Coleman–LOTS of Earl Coleman

Al Hibbler

Jeanne Lee

STREAM ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM….

“It’s Growing: Most Euphonious Fruit of First Quarter, 2021”

Music Spring has apparently sprung–although I’m not yet hearing anything that will knock most people’s socks off; for that matter, the only two records I’ve been addicted to are (no surprise) #1 and (ranked “low” because I have a strong Ornette Coleman bias) #5. Also, 14 out of 50 (*) are jazz recordings, none of them that straight-ahead; however, lest you suspect me musically anhedoniacal, I would classify seven of them FUN (!). I’m catching on! Maybe I’m catching back on. In other news?

POETRY is in the house (#s 22 and 25–the former a must for all you trad Brit Lit majors, the latter pretty fucking FUN itself, but just remember what the lit-heads in your life consider fun)…

I just dove into the Doomed & Stoned series (honoring a silent pledge to my metalhead friend Vance, for whose sake I will try 4-5 metal albums a year, though this collection might be more accurately described as “stoner rock”), fished its Scottish entry out of the loch, and found it consistently satisfied my riff requirements and seldom repelled me with overly ugly singing…

I think I got a bit overexcited about the Julien Baker album simply because she was coming forth with more energy, but she remains an attractively sullen writer, to me at least, because that’s been my usual attitude du jour lately…

I am fucking hooked on Roisin Murphy. Anything you wanna serve up, even if it’s “just” a remix.

OK, kids, keep in mind that this coming Friday (May 7) is the (reputedly) last Bandcamp Friday. Many of the links below go straight to these records’ Bandcamp page. Put your money where you ears are, ’cause we know you’re streaming your ass off.

(Items which are new to the list are bolded; also, the order–always a touch whimsically arrived at–has shifted significantly from March. Items followed by an # are either reissues, fresh compilations of older material, or archival finds).

  1. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street*#
  2. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony*#
  3. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon*
  4. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket !#
  5. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman*
  6. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son !
  7. Ashnikko: Demidevil !
  8. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley !
  9. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction)
  10. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja*
  11. Penelope Scott: Public Void !
  12. Paris: Safe Space Invader
  13. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy*#
  14. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  15. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame*#
  16. Dawn Richard: Second Line !
  17. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork#
  18. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  19. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album*#
  20. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland
  21. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth
  22. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty
  23. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You
  24. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW
  25. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  26. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  27. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom
  28. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  29. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears*
  30. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay !
  31. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP)
  32. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  33. Joe Strummer: Assembly#
  34. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
  35. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go*
  36. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine !
  37. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing*#
  38. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine
  39. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy*
  40. Alder Ego: III*
  41. Shem Tube, Justo Osala, Enos Okola: Guitar Music of Western Kenya
  42. Steve Earle: JT
  43. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos
  44. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (Hey–buy this album played live as cheap as you wanna!)
  45. Omar Sosa: East African Journey
  46. Alton Gün: Yol
  47. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1 !#
  48. Hearth: Melt*
  49. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises*
  50. serpentwithfeet: DEACON

February 11 – March 7: A Thin and Motley Crew

Maybe the fact that this year’s class of nice new albums has kinda oozed out like molasses is due the frustrations, chaos, depression, struggle, and occasional collapses of 2021’s second half. I dunno. Below are the platters I’ve quite enjoyed, but in order for it to even look like a two-month list I’ve incorporated archival digs (one of which is–all seven great discs of it–at the top of the heap), which I usually separate out. I’ve finally gotten smart and added hyperlinks to additional album information as I go (rather than regretting that I hadn’t later), and I’ve switched my album cover slideshow to a cumulative one. If these stunning achievements seem a bit meager to you, hey–I’m old.

Notes:

Both those box sets are well worth the time one needs to spend: #1, unreleased examples of the stunning, versatile genius of Black Arts Group veteran composer / player / arranger Hemphill, #2, the luscious fruit of a lifetime of plumbing and glorying in the depths of American song by Stampfel.

Two classical works? Yes, two classical works. It’s not that I’m desperate; it just so happens that new interpretations of justly famous works of my favorite traditional classical composer (Messiaen) and my favorite experimental classical performer (Eastman) have showed up together.

Strut Records’ ongoing resuscitation of the Black Fire label’s catalog continues to excite, enlighten, and inspire me–plus it nicely dovetails with the moment.

  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street
  3. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  4. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket
  5. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
  6. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  7. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  8. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay
  9. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  10. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom
  11. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  12. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy
  13. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  14. Founders: Songs for the End of Time
  15. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go
  16. Joe Lovano, Marilyn Crispell, and Carmen Castaldi: Garden of Expression
  17. Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood
  18. Corey Ledet: Corey Ledet Zydeco
  19. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine
  20. Thumbscrew: Never is Enough
  21. Steve Earle: JT (late addition! FORGOT IT….)

January 1 – February 10: Slim Pickings

Most record-grubbin’ folks I know are still catching up to 2020’s explosion–our cohort are still learning about the previous year’s bounty right now and likely will be til the Ides of March. In the past, I’ve usually been able to muster 10 new releases by the end of January to post as a list, but this year I was only halfway there by February’s dawning. Plus, I was flat worn out–not just from all those varied and vital slabs from the worst year in modern history, but from the worst year in modern history. Maybe we’ll look back (and the music will be able to help us do listen back) and be able to say, “We needed those tragedies, large and small, to finally motivate us to clean house”; I’m not holding my breath.

However, simply from really needed to do something to get my mind off of a layer cake of frustrations, I’ve cobbled together a Top 10 for 2021. Will any of these still be in my Top 100 on December 31? I’m less confident than ever, but could our world of musicians suffer from “striver’s fatigue”? We shall see. The simple presence of Messiaen in the list is a sign of struggle (one of my very favorite classic composers, and interpreted quite thrillingly by the group responsible–but come on!).

  1. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  2. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  3. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  4. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  5. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  6. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  7. Founders: Songs for the End of Time
  8. Joe Lovano, Marilyn Crispell, and Carmen Castaldi: Garden of Expression
  9. Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood
  10. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine

Power Up! Look Out! This Dance’s About Over!: 155 Rekkids That Have Given Me Pleasure This Year When I Really, Really Needed It!

New developments?
1) Dezron Douglas and Brandee Younger made their record on an iPad in their apartment while sheltering in place; that fact, and the gentleness of the recording have it shooting up my chart.

2) There’s some serious experimental noise coming out of Memphis–and that’s really no surprise.

3) Aesop Rock just gets better with age.

4) Could be the best improvisors in the world–the band Cortex among them–are from Norway.

5) My former student Jessica Kittle TOLD ME Kali Uchis was an artist of exploding potential.

6) AC/DC have made a strong record. Just when you thought they were done….

7) I was struck by a countryish song called “Black Like Me” I heard on a writer’s playlist three months ago and forgot to see who the artist was. So THAT’S Mickey Guyton! Very good to know!

8) The music writer Chuck Eddy is unafraid to tread confidently out on limbs. He recently did this on behalf of a group I hadn’t heard of called Hot Country Knights. The band name and album cover made me chuckle, and I sampled it purely for that reason, without asking Chuck about them. The songs? “Chuckle” isn’t a strong enough word. Hey…if you need some laughter in your life and you sometimes pine for ’90s country, you might wanna take a flyer yourself. Check out Chuck’s blog here.

9) If you know who Madlib and Karreim Riggins are, you will have to proceed directly to their “black classical music” collab project, Jahari Massamba Unit.

10) A couple historical dudes named Mingus and Hendrix are benefiting from very impressive excavations of legendary live performances they once delivered. You can benefit as well.

Living to Listen’s 100 Favorite New Releases of 2020, January 1 to November 30

(Items new to the list are bolded.)

  1. Kahil El’Zabar: America, The Beautiful
  2. Run The Jewels: RTJ 4
  3. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  4. SAULT: Untitled (Black Is) 
  5. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  6. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  7. Fire! Orchestra: Actions
  8. Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger: Force Majeure
  9. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  10. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons (band name and album title of the year, based on music’s justification of same)
  11. Marx Lomax II: The Last Concert—Ankh & The Tree of Life
  12. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  13. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  14. Jyoti: Mama You Can Bet!
  15. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  16. Boldy James & The Alchemist: The Price of Tea in China
  17. Roisin Murphy: Roisin Machine
  18. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  19. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  20. Tee Grizzley: The Smartest
  21. Aesop Rock: Spirit World Field Guide
  22. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved
  23. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)
  24. Bob Dylan: My Rough and Rowdy Ways
  25. Ashley McBryde: Never Will
  26. Zeal and Ardor: Wake of a Nation (EP)
  27. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  28. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  29. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  30. Bettye LaVette: Blackbirds
  31. Mike & The Moonpies: Touch of You–The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart
  32. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  33. Elizabeth Cook: Aftermath
  34. Body Count: Carnivore
  35. Open Mike Eagle: Anime Trauma Divorce
  36. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  37. Cortex: Legal Tender
  38. Various Artists: Memphis Concrete Presents Sound in Geometry Series, Volume 1—On Triangles
  39. James Brandon Lewis: Molecular
  40. Charles McPherson: Jazz Dance Suites
  41. Kali Uchis: Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)
  42. SAULT: Untitled (Rise)
  43. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  44. The Human Hearts: Day of the Tiles (EP)
  45. Kesha: High Road
  46. DJ-Kicks / Various Artists: Mr. Scruff
  47. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  48. K. Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  49. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn:Quit Rappin
  50. Joel Ross: Who Are You?
  51. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  52. Rob Mazurek & Exploding Star Orchestra: Dimension Stardust
  53. Bobby Rush: Rawer Than Raw
  54. Hot Country Knights: The K is Silent
  55. AC/DC: POWER UP
  56. Thiago Nassif: Mente
  57. Luke Stewart: Luke Stewart Exposure Quintet
  58. Bette Smith: The Good, The Bad, and The Bette
  59. Florian Arbenz & Greg Osby: Reflections of The Eternal Line
  60. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  61. Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves
  62. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: Shaman!
  63. City Girls: City on Lock
  64. Moses Sumney: grae
  65. Apollo Brown & Che Noir: As God Intended
  66. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou
  67. JD Allen: Toys / Die Dreaming
  68. No Age: Goons Be Gone
  69. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  70. Ammar 808: Global Control / Invisible Invasion
  71. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  72. Junglepussy: Jp4
  73. Alicia Keys: ALICIA
  74. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  75. Dehd: Flower of Devotion
  76. Mickey Guyton: Bridges (EP)
  77. The Ridiculous Trio: The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges
  78. Burna Boy: Twice as Tall
  79. Conway the Machine: From a King to a God
  80. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  81. Various Artists: Eyes Shut, Ears Open–A Burning Ambulance Compilation
  82. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)
  83. Teodross Avery: Harlem Stories – The Music of Thelonious Monk
  84. Asher Gamedze: Dialectic Soul
  85. Optic Sink: Optic Sink
  86. Laraaji: Sun Piano
  87. Tiwa Savage: Celia
  88. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  89. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  90. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here (EP)
  91. Steve Arrington: Down to the Lowest Terms—The Soul Sessions
  92. Jahari Massamba Unit: Pardon My French
  93. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  94. Julianna Barwick: Healing is a Miracle
  95. Black Thought: Streams of Thought, Vol. 3—Cane and Abel
  96. Speaker Music: Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry
  97. Lori McKenna: The Balladeer
  98. Old 97s: Twelfth
  99. Theo Parrish: Wuddaji
  100. Mars Williams: An Ayler Christmas, Volume 4

Reissues and Past Recordings Freshly Excavated

  1. Various Artists: Daora–Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil
  2. Wussy: Ghosts
  3. Various Artists: Turn Me Loose, White Man
  4. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto
  5. Charles Mingus: @ Bremen 1964 & 1975
  6. Jimi Hendrix: Live in Maui
  7. Hallelujah Chicken Run Band: Take One
  8. Pylon: Pylon Box
  9. Various Artists: Hanging Tree Guitars
  10. Various Artists: Saint Etienne Present Songs for the Fountain Coffee Room
  11. Milford Graves & Don Pullen: The Complete Yale Concert
  12. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  13. Luiz Carlos Vinhas: O Som Psicodelico De L. C. V.
  14. Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms 1970-1982
  15. Junior Byles: Beat Down Babylon (Deluxe Reissue)
  16. Various Artists: Soul Love—The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993
  17. Sun Ra: Unity—Live at Storyville NYC October 1977
  18. Peter Stampfel and The Bottlecaps: Demo ‘84
  19. Various Artists: La Locura de Machuca—1975-1980
  20. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  21. Victor Chukwu: Akalaka / The Power
  22. Dennis Gonzalez: Forever the Falling Stars
  23. The Heshoo Beshoo Group: Armitage Road
  24. Various Artists: Strum and Thrum—The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987
  25. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  26. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  27. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  28. The Awakening: Hear, Sense, and Feel
  29. Bessie Jones: Get in Union
  30. Tony Allen: No Accommodation for Lagos
  31. Black Unity Trio: Al-Fatihah
  32. Various Artists: All Aboard! The CN Express—Rock Steady and Boss Reggae Sounds 1967-1968
  33. The Pogues: BBC Sessions 1984-85
  34. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  35. Various Artists: Love Saves the Day—A History of American Dance Music Culture 1970-1979
  36. TEST: TEST and Roy Campbell, Jr.
  37. Joe McPhee: Black is The Color
  38. Various Artists: Look Out! The San Diego Scene 1958-1973
  39. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  40. Walter Bishop Jr.: Coral Keys
  41. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  42. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  43. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  44. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  45. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  46. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  47. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  48. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  49. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  50. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  51. Lee Scratch Perry: Play On, Mr. Music
  52. Various Artists: Maghreb K7 Club–Synth Rai, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997)
  53. Brother Theotis Taylor
  54. Black Ark Players: Black Ark In Dub
  55. Prince: Sign O’ The Times (Deluxe Edition)
  56. The Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me (Deluxe Edition)

Living to Listen’s Top Platters for 2020 (So Far): Hey, Instead of Watching Election Results, Dive into this List and Don’t Come Up Until You’ve at Least Sampled Them All!

Overeem’s Top 90 Fresh Fonograph Records of 2020

I was distracted by the past during October, having taken a DEEP-ASS dive into the dawning of disco (late-’73 to mid-’75) that revealed many joyous obscurities and reduced my tension and foreboding regarding this month. Many of my music-loving peers are flipping for Bruce Springsteen’s newest; I have only played the opening track, and stopped listening before it was over–it’s just the way I am, but his set-up has grown tiresome with me, even though the whole idea behind Letter to You seems designed for me, given the year I’ve been having. In addition, several hot new jazz records have dropped (by James Brandon Lewis–his second of the year–Angel Bat Dawid, Mary Halvorson, the Afrosynth production house, the fascinating Takuya Kuroda, and Kahil El’Zabar–his second of the year) that I haven’t given a fair amount of time to. But four newbies I’ll swear by (I may have over-self-started re: the Zeal and Ardor EP) pushed older records out of the Top 30, and revisited a few items that had paled a bit pushed them down the list as well.  Those two massive reissue box sets are at the bottom of my old-stuff list mainly because they’re too damned expensive for the common man, given much of their contents have been available before, more cheaply–but they are still listenable front to back, something you can’t always say about such white elephants.  If only the Prince box had included the Sign O’ The Times concert film…

Note: BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list.

  1. Run The Jewels: RTJ 4
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. SAULT: Untitled (Black Is) 
  4. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  5. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  6. Boldy James & The Alchemist: The Price of Tea in China
  7. Fire! Orchestra: Actions
  8. Body Count: Carnivore
  9. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  10. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons (band name and album title of the year, based on music’s justification of same)
  11. Marx Lomax II: The Last Concert—Ankh & The Tree of Life
  12. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  13. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  14. Jyoti: Mama You Can Bet!
  15. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  16. Kahil El’Zabar: America, The Beautiful
  17. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)
  18. Roisin Murphy: Roisin Machine
  19. Open Mike Eagle: Anime Trauma Divorce
  20. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  21. Tee Grizzley: The Smartest
  22. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved
  23. Various Artists: Hanging Tree Guitars
  24. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  25. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  26. Bob Dylan: My Rough and Rowdy Ways
  27. Ashley McBryde: Never Will
  28. Charles McPherson: Jazz Dance Suites
  29. SAULT: Untitled (Rise)
  30. Zeal and Ardor: Wake of a Nation (EP)
  31. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  32. Joel Ross: Who Are You?
  33. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  34. Bettye LaVette: Blackbirds
  35. Mike & The Moonpies: Touch of You–The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart
  36. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  37. James Brandon Lewis: Molecular
  38. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  39. The Human Hearts: Day of the Tiles (EP)
  40. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  41. K. Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  42. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn:Quit Rappin
  43. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  44. Bobby Rush: Rawer Than Raw
  45. Thiago Nassif: Mente
  46. Luke Stewart: Luke Stewart Exposure Quintet
  47. Bette Smith: The Good, The Bad, and The Bette
  48. Florian Arbenz & Greg Osby: Reflections of The Eternal Line
  49. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  50. Kesha: High Road
  51. Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves
  52. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: Shaman!
  53. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  54. Elizabeth Cook: Aftermath
  55. City Girls: City on Lock
  56. Moses Sumney: grae
  57. Apollo Brown & Che Noir: As God Intended
  58. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou
  59. JD Allen: Toys / Die Dreaming
  60. No Age: Goons Be Gone
  61. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  62. Ammar 808: Global Control / Invisible Invasion
  63. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  64. Junglepussy: Jp4
  65. Alicia Keys: ALICIA
  66. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  67. Dehd: Flower of Devotion
  68. The Ridiculous Trio: The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges
  69. Burna Boy: Twice as Tall
  70. Conway the Machine: From a King to a God
  71. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  72. Various Artists: Eyes Shut, Ears Open–A Burning Ambulance Compilation
  73. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)
  74. Teodross Avery: Harlem Stories – The Music of Thelonious Monk
  75. Asher Gamedze: Dialectic Soul
  76. Optic Sink: Optic Sink
  77. Laraaji: Sun Piano
  78. Tiwa Savage: Celia
  79. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  80. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  81. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here (EP)
  82. Steve Arrington: Down to the Lowest Terms—The Soul Sessions
  83. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today
  84. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  85. Julianna Barwick: Healing is a Miracle
  86. Black Thought: Streams of Thought, Vol. 3—Cane and Abel
  87. Speaker Music: Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry
  88. Lori McKenna: The Balladeer
  89. Old 97s: Twelfth
  90. Theo Parrish: Wuddaji

Reissues and Past Recordings Freshly Excavated

  1. Various Artists: Daora–Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil
  2. Wussy: Ghosts
  3. Various Artists: Turn Me Loose, White Man
  4. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto
  5. Peter Stampfel and The Bottlecaps: Demo ‘84
  6. Various Artists: Saint Etienne Present Songs for the Fountain Coffee Room
  7. Milford Graves & Don Pullen: The Complete Yale Concert
  8. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  9. Luiz Carlos Vinhas: O Som Psicodelico De L. C. V.
  10. Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms 1970-1982
  11. Junior Byles: Beat Down Babylon (Deluxe Reissue)
  12. Various Artists: Soul Love—The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993
  13. Sun Ra: Unity—Live at Storyville NYC October 1977
  14. Various Artists: La Locura de Machuca—1975-1980
  15. Tony Allen: No Accommodation for Lagos
  16. Various Artists: All Aboard! The CN Express—Rock Steady and Boss Reggae Sounds 1967-1968
  17. The Pogues: BBC Sessions 1984-85
  18. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  19. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  20. Dennis Gonzalez: Forever the Falling Stars
  21. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  22. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  23. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  24. The Awakening: Hear, Sense, and Feel
  25. Bessie Jones: Get in Union
  26. TEST: TEST and Roy Campbell, Jr.
  27. Joe McPhee: Black is The Color
  28. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  29. Walter Bishop Jr.: Coral Keys
  30. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  31. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  32. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  33. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  34. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  35. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  36. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  37. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  38. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  39. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  40. Lee Scratch Perry: Play On, Mr. Music
  41. Various Artists: Maghreb K7 Club–Synth Rai, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997)
  42. Brother Theotis Taylor
  43. Black Ark Players: Black Ark In Dub
  44. Prince: Sign O’ The Times (Deluxe Edition)
  45. The Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me (Deluxe Edition)

2020’s 100 Most Super Slabs So Far, January 1 to August 31

Isn’t it fun to pick out new records simply by the fetching quality of their covers? Enjoy this mega-slideshow of fresh rekkids I checked out in August! My favorite 100 releases follow…

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(Bolded items are new to the lists)

New(er) Stuff

  1. Run The Jewels: RTJ 4
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  4. SAULT: Untitled (Black Is) 
  5. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  6. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  7. Boldy James & The Alchemist: The Price of Tea in China
  8. Fire! Orchestra: Actions
  9. Body Count: Carnivore
  10. Tee Grizzley: The Smartest
  11. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  12. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons (band name and album title of the year, based on music’s justification of same)
  13. Marx Lomax II: The Last Concert—Ankh & The Tree of Life
  14. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  15. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  16. Jyoti: Mama You Can Bet!
  17. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  18. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)
  19. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn:Quit Rappin
  20. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  21. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  22. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved
  23. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  24. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  25. Bob Dylan: My Rough and Rowdy Ways
  26. Charles McPherson: Jazz Dance Suites
  27. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  28. Kesha: High Road
  29. Bobby Rush: Rawer Than Raw
  30. Thiago Nassif: Mente
  31. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  32. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  33. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  34. City Girls: City on Lock
  35. Bettye LaVette: Blackbirds
  36. Mike & The Moonpies: Touch of You–The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart
  37. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  38. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  39. Carlos Nino and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves
  40. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: Shaman!
  41. Moses Sumney: grae
  42. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou
  43. JD Allen: Toys / Die Dreaming
  44. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  45. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  46. Dehd: Flower of Devotion
  47. Burna Boy: Twice as Tall
  48. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  49. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  50. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)
  51. Quin Kirchner: The Shadows and The Light
  52. K. Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  53. Asher Gamedze: Dialectic Soul
  54. Laraaji: Sun Piano
  55. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  56. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  57. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here
  58. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today
  59. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  60. Julianna Barwick: Healing is a Miracle
  61. Conway the Machine & The Alchemist: LULU (EP)
  62. Speaker Music: Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry
  63. Lori McKenna: The Balladeer
  64. Psychedelic Furs: Made of Rain
  65. Old 97s: Twelfth

Reissues and Past Recordings Freshly Excavated

  1. Wussy: Ghosts
  2. Various Artists: Turn Me Loose, White Man
  3. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto
  4. Milford Graves & Don Pullen: The Complete Yale Concert
  5. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  6. Luiz Carlos Vinhas: O Som Psicodelico De L. C. V.
  7. Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms 1970-1982
  8. Junior Byles: Beat Down Babylon (Deluxe Reissue)
  9. Various Artists: Soul Love—The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993
  10. Various Artists: All Aboard! The CN Express—Rock Steady and Boss Reggae Sounds 1967-1968
  11. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  12. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  13. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  14. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  15. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  16. The Awakening: Hear, Sense, and Feel
  17. Bessie Jones: Get in Union
  18. Joe McPhee: Black is The Color
  19. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  20. Walter Bishop Jr.: Coral Keys
  21. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  22. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  23. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  24. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  25. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  26. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  27. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  28. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  29. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  30. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  31. Lee Scratch Perry: Play On, Mr. Music
  32. Various Artists: Maghreb K7 Club–Synth Rai, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997)
  33. Brother Theotis Taylor
  34. Black Ark Players: Black Ark In Dub
  35. Various Artists: Black Ark, Volume 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful

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

8. Body Count: Carnivore

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

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

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

12. Cornershop: England is a Garden

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

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

15. The Third Mind: The Third Mind

16. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs

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

18. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn:Quit Rappin

19. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl

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

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

22. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You

23. Kesha: High Road

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

25. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia

26. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks

27. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia

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

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

30. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires

31. Moses Sumney: grae

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

33. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou

34. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown

35. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene

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

37. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place

38. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)

39. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)

40. Quin Kirchner: The Shadows and The Light

41. Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed

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

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

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

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

46. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today

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

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

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

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

 

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

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