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

 

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

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

Items in bold are new to the list.

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

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

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hey! A Top 10 Popped Out!

PLEASE SHUFFLE THE ABOVE!

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

The Best Records 2019 Had to Offer (Now, Forward Into the Past)

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185 really good-to-really great albums of new music. 60 laudable issuings of music recorded in another time. That, my friends, is an embarrassment of riches. Now: if that will rub off on general citizenship, good cheer, charming self-effacement, and energized civic action, we’ll be cooking with gas here.

My Album-Lover’s Honor Roll for 2019 – The Final Unscrolling

(bolded items are new additions to the list)

The Straight and Bent A’s:

  1. Little Simz: Grey Area
  2. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
  3. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy!
  4. Junius Paul: Ism
  5. Rapsody: Eve
  6. Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  7. Chance The Rapper: The Big Day
  8. Byron Asher: Byron Asher’s Skrontch Music
  9. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana
  10. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Trapline
  11. Royal Trux: White Stuff
  12. Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes
  13. Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith: Songs from The Bardo
  14. Peter Perrett: Humanworld
  15. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  16. Mexstep: Resistir
  17. Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)
  18. Danny Brown: uknowwhutimsayin
  19. Tomeka Reid Quartet: Old New
  20. J Balvin & Bad Bunny: OASIS
  21. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  22. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
  23. Tanya Tucker: While I’m Livin’
  24. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places
  25. EARTHGANG: Mirrorland

The Tragically Flawed A- Team:

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real
  2. Sheer Mag: A Distant Call
  3. Dumb: Club Nites
  4. Jeffrey Lewis: Bad Wiring
  5. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
  6. Young Thug: So Much Fun
  7. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  8. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto
  9. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys A Record
  10. Teodross Avery: After the Rain–A Night for Coltrane
  11. Various Artists: Total Solidarity
  12. Lana Del Rey: Norman F***ing Rockwell
  13. Zonal (featuring Moor Mother): Wrecked
  14. Control Top: Covert Contracts
  15. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
  16. Ifriqiyya Electrique: Laylet El Boore
  17. Elza Soares: Planeta Fome
  18. Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance
  19. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds
  20. Andres: Andres IV
  21. Denzel Curry: Zuu
  22. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye
  23. Rod Wave: Ghetto Gospel
  24. Eddy Current Suppression Ring: All in Good Time
  25. Dave: PSYCHODRAMA
  26. Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes
  27. Various Artists: The Final Battle—Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics
  28. Rocket 808: Rocket 808
  29. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League
  30. Planchettes: The Truth
  31. Joel Ross: Kingmaker
  32. JME: Grime MC
  33. I Jahbar: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash
  34. Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford
  35. Bill Orcutt: Odds Against Tomorrow
  36. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  37. Tyler Childers: Country Squire
  38. Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, and Tony Orrell: Bleyschool
  39. Beyoncé: Homecoming
  40. Sote: Parallel Persia
  41. Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II—Bird of Paradise
  42. SEED ENSEMBLE: Driftglass
  43. Arto Lindsay, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, Phil Sudderberg: Largest Afternoon
  44. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  45. Blacks’ Myths: Blacks’ Myths II

The No-Disgrace B+ Ticklers:

  1. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know
  2. Sudan Archives: Athena
  3. San Cha: La Luz de la Esperanza
  4. GRLwood: I Sold My Soul to the Devil When I Was 12
  5. P. P. Arnold: The New Adventures of P. P. Arnold
  6. Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia
  7. FKA Twigs: MAGDALENE
  8. Miranda Lambert: Wild Card
  9. Aquarian Blood: A Love That Leads to War
  10. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tuba in Cuba
  11. Quelle Chris: Guns
  12. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  13. DaBaby: KIRK
  14. Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
  15. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer EP
  16. Bobby Watson, Vincent Herring, and Gary Bartz: Bird at 100
  17. Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs
  18. Various Artists: Weaponize Your Sound
  19. Earl Sweatshirt: FEET OF CLAY
  20. Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks
  21. BaianaSystem: O Furturo Nao Demora
  22. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  23. DaBaby: Baby on Baby
  24. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever
  25. Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won’t Hold
  26. Dan Weiss Trio + 1: Utica Box
  27. Davido: A Good Time
  28. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
  29. Saul Williams: Encrypted & Vulnerable
  30. Young M.A.: Herstory in the Making
  31. Ken Vandermark: Momentum 4—Consequent Duos 2015-2019
  32. Poncho Sanchez: Trane’s Delight
  33. Gang Starr: One of the Best Yet
  34. The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17. October
  35. Mario Pavone: Philosophy
  36. Alcorn/McPhee/Vandermark: Invitation to a Dream
  37. Joachim Kuhn: Melodic Ornette Coleman—Piano Works XIII
  38. Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid
  39. Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain
  40. Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs from The Sun Ra Cosmos
  41. The Sensational Barnes Brothers: Nobody’s Fault But Mine
  42. GoldLink: Diaspora
  43. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  44. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  45. Mantana Roberts: COIN COIN Chapter Four—Memphis
  46. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dur–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  47. black midi: Schlagenheim
  48. Nots: 3
  49. Guitar Wolf: Love & Jett
  50. Robert Forster: Inferno
  51. Aziza Brahim: Sahari
  52. Jacob Wick & Phil Sudderberg: Combinatory Pleasures
  53. Ingrid Laubrock & Aki Takase: Kasumi
  54. LPX: Junk of the Heart (EP)
  55. Helado Negro: This is How You Smile
  56. Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief
  57. G & D: Black Love & War
  58. Boris: Love & Evol
  59. Girl Band: The Talkies
  60. Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys: 30 Years Live
  61. Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons
  62. Gilberto Gil: OK OK OK
  63. JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs
  64. Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2
  65. Flying Lotus: Flamagra

Hey! A “B” is a Decent Grade!:

  1. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her
  2. The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life
  3. Bobby Rush: Sitting On Top of the Blues
  4. JD Allen: Barracoon
  5. Big Thief: Two Hands
  6. Kele Okereke: 2042
  7. Various Artists: Queen & Slim—The Soundtrack
  8. Tinariwen: Amadjar
  9. Various Artists: Typical Girls Three
  10. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues
  11. Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time
  12. Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops
  13. Santana: Africa Speaks
  14. Judy and The Jerks: Music for Donuts
  15. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR
  16. Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon—The Music of Duke Ellington
  17. Sault: 5
  18. Whit Dickey Tao Quartets: Peace Planet / Box of Light
  19. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
  20. Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction
  21. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien
  22. Warren Storm: Taking the World by Storm
  23. Solange: When I Get Home
  24. Freddie Douggie: Live on Juneteenth
  25. Ranky Tanky: Good Time
  26. Ahmad Jamal: Ballades
  27. Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For
  28. Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
  29. Little Brother: May the Lord Watch
  30. Blood Orange: Angel’s Pulse
  31. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Rodents of Unusual Size (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  32. Doja Cat: Hot Pink
  33. Kelsey Lu: Blood
  34. Dopolarians: Garden Party
  35. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  36. Hama: Houmeissa
  37. Ill Considered: 5
  38. Girls on Grass: Dirty Power
  39. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs
  40. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  41. Shovels & Rope: By Blood
  42. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  43. Spiral Stairs: We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized
  44. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  45. Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of The Blues
  46. Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima
  47. Mekons : Deserted
  48. Lee Scratch Perry: Life of the Plants (EP)
  49. Marquis Hill: Love Tape
  50. Serengeti: Quail (EP)

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New Releases of Older Material

A = Thoroughly Enjoyable:

  1. Peter Laughner: Peter Laughner
  2. Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet
  3. Burnt Sugar: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes—Groiddest Schizznits, Vols. 1-3
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock
  5. The Royals: Gish Abbai
  6. Various Artists: Bulawayo Blue Yodel
  7. Merle Haggard & The Strangers: Live in Austin, ‘78
  8. Various Artists: Put The Whole Armour On—Female Black Gospel 1940s and 1950s
  9. Various Artist: WXAXNXD Sessions
  10. Screaming Females: Singles Too
  11. Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (Bill Laswell Remix)
  12. Jessie Mae Hemphill: Run Get My Shotgun
  13. Chic: The Chic Organization: 1977-1979
  14. Griot Galaxy: Kins
  15. Various Artists: Mogadisco—Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991)
  16. Various Artists: No Other Love—Midwest Gospel (1965-1978)
  17. Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Orchestra: Why Don’t You Listen–Live at Lacma, 1998
  18. The Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels In The Band
  19. Various Artists: Love is All I Bring—Reggae Hits & Rarities by the Queens of Trojan Records
  20. Johnny Griffin and Eddie Lockjaw Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse

A- = You’ll Barely Notice the Rough Spots:

  1. Various Artists: Outro Tempo II–Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil 1984-1996
  2. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  3. David S. Ware New Quartet: Theatre Garonne, 2008
  4. Various Artists: Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
  5. Gregory Isaacs / Ossie All-Stars: Mr. Isaacs
  6. Various Artists: Jambu
  7. Erroll Garner: Closeup in Swing
  8. Clifford Jordan: Glass Bead Games
  9. James Booker: Live at Onkel PO’s, Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976
  10. Cornell Campbell: I Man a the Stall-A-Watt
  11. Various Artists: World Spirituality Classics 2—The Time for Peace is Now
  12. Various Artists: J-Jazz–Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1983 (Volume 2)
  13. John Coltrane: Blue World
  14. Moondog: The Stockholm 1981 Recordings
  15. Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans and Greens—The Lost Fontana Studio Sessions 1969
  16. Star Band de Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal
  17. Smokey Haangala: Aunka Ma Kwacha
  18. Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick
  19. Various Artists: Blues Images Calendar Companion, Volume 17
  20. Primal Scream: Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll—The Singles
  21. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit: April is the Cruellest Month
  22. Various Artists: Rhapsody in Bronze
  23. Various Artists: Fania Goes Psychedelic
  24. Various Artists: Brutal Africa—The Heavy Metal Cowboys of Botswana
  25. Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate
  26. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  27. The Heptones: Swing Low
  28. Sounds of Liberation: Sounds of Liberation
  29. Prince: Originals
  30. Various Artists: Nigeria 70–No Wahala, Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987

B+ = A Three-Beer Buzz:

  1. Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972
  2. John Carter & Bobby Bradford Quartet: No U-Turn
  3. James Wayne: Junco Partner–The Very Best Of James Wayne 1950-1955
  4. Various Artists: Siya Hamba! 1950’s South African Country and Small Town Sounds
  5. Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down–Live 1973
  6. Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners
  7. Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa
  8. The Replacements: Dead Man’s Pop
  9. Scientists: Not for Sale (Live, 1978-1979)
  10. Abdallah Oumbadougou: Anou Malane

Durable after a Decade: The Records I Keep Going Back to From 2010-2019

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Seems like every music blog, website, and critic’s doing one of these, so I might as well, too. I dove into it expecting results much different than I came up with. These are the records from this decade I’ve played the most often with the most delight, simple as that.

2010

Pierced Arrows: Descending Shadows

Elizabeth Cook: Welder

M.I.A.: Maya

2011

Polystyrene: Generation Indigo

Wussy: Strawberry

2013

Live from Festival au Desert Timbuktu

Martha Redbone Roots Project: The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake

Mariem Hassan: El Aaiún Egdat

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba: Jama Ko

Jason Isbell: Southeastern 

2014

Wussy: Attica!

Withered Hand: New Gods

Young Thug and Bloody Jay: Black Portland

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie: December Day

Chris Butler: Easy Life

2015

Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love: Candy

Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly

Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts: Manhattan

Jinx Lennon: 30 Beacons of Light for a Land Full of Spite, Thugs, Drug Slugs, and Energy Vampires

John Kruth: The Drunken Wind of Life: The Poem/Songs of Tin Ujevic

Miguel: Wildheart

79rs Gang: Fire on the Bayou

Africa Express: Terry Riley’s In C – Mali

2016

A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here

Jinx Lennon: Past Pupil Stay Sane

Rihanna: Anti

Beyonce: Lemonade

Elza Soares: Woman at the End of the World

Saul Williams: Martyr Loser King

Solange: A Seat at the Table

2017

Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked at Me

Princess Nokia: 1992

Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng

Zeal & Ardor: Devil is Fine

JLin: Black Origami

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is

Various Artists: Miracle Steps (Music from The Fourth World 1983-2017)

2018

Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed

Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel

Noname: Room 25

The Mekons 77: It Is Twice Blessed

Tracey Thorn: Record

Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings

Rosalia: El Mal Querer

John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness

Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive

2019

Little Simz: Grey Area

Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains

Inverse Proportion Theory of Musical Succor: “Records Were as Great This Year as Our World was Terrible”

I’m making no bones about it: we did not do a good job living as humans with other humans this year. Not. At. All. I really didn’t expect to turn 57 and come to the conclusion that, despite reading, enjoying, and occasionally subscribing to the viewpoint of many cynics and curmudgeons, I have been naive. A lot of us dig fascism as a possible salve on our fear. It’s hard to know how many, but even a big little is a lot.

I ain’t going into the nooks and crannies of that now, though. 2019’s music-makers responded with some very convincing aural evidence that we can actually do a very transcendent job working, playing, speaking, and listening to each other, and–especially–calling on us to be our best possible selves, rather than wallow in self-pity and misguided resentment. If the music that was produced this year is a real representation of who we are, how we feel, and what we want, then the hate-wave is operating on borrowed time.

Remember: naive at 57.

Anyway, I endorse all the albums below as interesting. Also, please note my somewhat half-hearted grading scale. And think about sending the artists the most money you can and just buying physical media to defy Marie Kondo. You know she’s marketing a bunch of worthless shit to fill your houses with, don’t you? Seriously: we’re not all grifters, especially the folks that made this stuff…

My Album-Lover’s Honor Roll for 2019 — THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

(bolded items are new additions to the ongoing list)

For those that need a harness on this burgeoning list:

1-10: Straight A (no A+ record this year)

11-66: A-

67-118: B+

119-170: B (and a B is still a good record)

  1. Little Simz: Grey Area
  2. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
  3. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy!
  4. Junius Paul: Ism
  5. Rapsody: Eve
  6. Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  7. Chance The Rapper: The Big Day
  8. Byron Asher: Byron Asher’s Skrontch Music
  9. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana
  10. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Trapline
  11. Royal Trux: White Stuff
  12. EARTHGANG: Mirrorland
  13. Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes
  14. Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith: Songs from The Bardo
  15. Peter Perrett: Humanworld
  16. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  17. Mexstep: Resistir
  18. Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)
  19. Danny Brown: uknowwhutimsayin
  20. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye
  21. J Balvin & Bad Bunny: OASIS
  22. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  23. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
  24. MARK LOMAX, II: Afrika United (one part of a box set—if it’s all this good, woah!)
  25. Sheer Mag: A Distant Call
  26. Dumb: Club Nites
  27. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places
  28. Jeffrey Lewis: Bad Wiring
  29. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
  30. Young Thug: So Much Fun
  31. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  32. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto
  33. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys A Record
  34. Teodross Avery: After the Rain–A Night for Coltrane
  35. Various Artists: Total Solidarity
  36. Lana Del Rey: Norman F***ing Rockwell
  37. Zonal: Wrecked
  38. Control Top: Covert Contracts
  39. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
  40. Tanya Tucker: While I’m Livin’
  41. Ifriqiyya Electrique: Laylet El Boore
  42. Elza Soares: Planeta Fome
  43. Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance
  44. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds
  45. Andres: Andres IV
  46. Denzel Curry: Zuu
  47. Rod Wave: Ghetto Gospel
  48. Eddy Current Suppression Ring: All in Good Time
  49. Dave: PSYCHODRAMA
  50. Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes
  51. Various Artists: The Final Battle—Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics
  52. Rocket 808: Rocket 808
  53. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League
  54. Joel Ross: Kingmaker
  55. JME: Grime MC
  56. I Jahbar: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash
  57. Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford
  58. Bill Orcutt: Odds Against Tomorrow
  59. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  60. Tyler Childers: Country Squire
  61. Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, and Tony Orrell: Bleyschool
  62. Beyoncé: Homecoming
  63. Sote: Parallel Persia
  64. Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II—Bird of Paradise
  65. SEED ENSEMBLE: Driftglass
  66. Arto Lindsay, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, Phil Sudderberg: Largest Afternoon
  67. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  68. Blacks’ Myths: Blacks’ Myths II
  69. Sudan Archives: Athena
  70. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know
  71. GRLwood: I Sold My Soul to the Devil When I Was 12
  72. Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia
  73. FKA Twigs: MAGDALENE
  74. Miranda Lambert: Wild Card
  75. Aquarian Blood: A Love That Leads to War
  76. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tuba in Cuba
  77. Quelle Chris: Guns
  78. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  79. DaBaby: KIRK
  80. Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
  81. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer EP
  82. Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs
  83. Various Artists: Weaponize Your Sound
  84. Earl Sweatshirt: FEET OF CLAY
  85. Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks
  86. BaianaSystem: O Furturo Nao Demora
  87. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  88. DaBaby: Baby on Baby
  89. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever
  90. Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won’t Hold
  91. Dan Weiss Trio + 1: Utica Box
  92. Davido: A Good Time
  93. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
  94. Saul Williams: Encrypted & Vulnerable
  95. Young M.A.: Herstory in the Making
  96. Ken Vandermark: Momentum 4—Consequent Duos 2015-2019
  97. Poncho Sanchez: Trane’s Delight
  98. The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17. October
  99. Mario Pavone: Philosophy
  100. Alcorn/McPhee/Vandermark: Invitation to a Dream
  101. Joachim Kuhn: Melodic Ornette Coleman—Piano Works XIII
  102. Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid
  103. Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain
  104. Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs from The Sun Ra Cosmos
  105. The Sensational Barnes Brothers: Nobody’s Fault But Mine
  106. GoldLink: Diaspora
  107. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  108. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  109. Mantana Roberts: COIN COIN Chapter Four—Memphis
  110. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dur–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  111. black midi: Schlagenheim
  112. Nots: 3
  113. Guitar Wolf: Love & Jett
  114. Robert Forster: Inferno
  115. Aziza Brahim: Sahari
  116. Jacob Wick & Phil Sudderberg: Combinatory Pleasures
  117. The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life
  118. Ingrid Laubrock & Aki Takase: Kasumi
  119. LPX: Junk of the Heart (EP)
  120. Helado Negro: This is How You Smile
  121. Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief
  122. G & D: Black Love & War
  123. Boris: Love & Evol
  124. Girl Band: The Talkies
  125. Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys: 30 Years Live
  126. Gilberto Gil: OK OK OK
  127. JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs
  128. Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2
  129. Flying Lotus: Flamagra
  130. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her
  131. JD Allen: Barracoon
  132. Big Thief: Two Hands
  133. Various Artists: Queen & Slim—The Soundtrack
  134. Tinariwen: Amadjar
  135. Various Artists: Typical Girls Three
  136. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues
  137. Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time
  138. Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops
  139. Santana: Africa Speaks
  140. Judy and The Jerks: Music for Donuts
  141. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR
  142. Sault: 5
  143. Whit Dickey Tao Quartets: Peace Planet / Box of Light
  144. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
  145. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien
  146. Solange: When I Get Home
  147. Freddie Douggie: Live on Juneteenth
  148. Ranky Tanky: Good Time
  149. Ahmad Jamal: Ballades
  150. Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For
  151. Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
  152. Little Brother: May the Lord Watch
  153. Blood Orange: Angel’s Pulse
  154. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Rodents of Unusual Size (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  155. Doja Cat: Hot Pink
  156. Kelsey Lu: Blood
  157. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  158. Hama: Houmeissa
  159. Ill Considered: 5
  160. Girls on Grass: Dirty Power
  161. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs
  162. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  163. Shovels & Rope: By Blood
  164. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  165. Spiral Stairs: We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized
  166. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  167. Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of The Blues
  168. Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima
  169. Mekons : Deserted
  170. Serengeti: Quail

New Releases of Older Material

1-12: Straight A (no A+ record this year)

11-27: A-

27-45: B+

46-55: B (and a B is still a good record)

  1. Peter Laughner: Peter Laughner
  2. Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet
  3. Burnt Sugar: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes—Groiddest Schizznits, Vols. 1-3
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock
  5. The Royals: Gish Abbai
  6. Various Artists: Bulawayo Blue Yodel
  7. Merle Haggard & The Strangers: Live in Austin, ‘78
  8. Various Artists: Put The Whole Armour On—Female Black Gospel 1940s and 1950s
  9. Various Artist: WXAXNXD Sessions
  10. Screaming Females: Singles Too
  11. Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (Bill Laswell Remix)
  12. Jessie Mae Hemphill: Run Get My Shotgun
  13. Chic: The Chic Organization: 1977-1979
  14. Griot Galaxy: Kins
  15. Various Artists: Mogadisco—Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991)
  16. Various Artists: No Other Love—Midwest Gospel (1965-1978)
  17. Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Orchestra: Why Don’t You Listen–Live at Lacma, 1998
  18. The Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels In The Band
  19. Johnny Griffin and Eddie Lockjaw Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse
  20. Various Artists: Outro Tempo II–Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil 1984-1996
  21. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  22. Various Artists: Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
  23. Gregory Isaacs / Ossie All-Stars: Mr. Isaacs
  24. Various Artists: Jambu
  25. Erroll Garner: Closeup in Swing
  26. James Booker: Live at Onkel PO’s, Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976
  27. Cornell Campbell: I Man a the Stall-A-Watt
  28. Various Artists: World Spirituality Classics 2—The Time for Peace is Now
  29. Various Artists: J-Jazz–Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1983 (Volume 2)
  30. John Coltrane: Blue World
  31. Moondog: The Stockholm 1981 Reccordings
  32. Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans and Greens—The Lost Fontana Studio Sessions 1969
  33. Star Band de Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal
  34. Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick
  35. Various Artists: Blues Images Calendar Companion, Volume 17
  36. Primal Scream: Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll—The Singles
  37. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit: April is the Cruellest Month
  38. Various Artists: Rhapsody in Bronze
  39. Various Artists: Fania Goes Psychedelic
  40. Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate
  41. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  42. Sounds of Liberation: Sounds of Liberation
  43. Prince: Originals
  44. Various Artists: Nigeria 70–No Wahala, Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987
  45. Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972
  46. John Carter & Bobby Bradford Quartet: No U-Turn
  47. James Wayne: Junco Partner–The Very Best Of James Wayne 1950-1955
  48. Various Artists: Siya Hamba! 1950’s South African Country and Small Town Sounds
  49. Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down–Live 1973
  50. Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners
  51. Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa
  52. The Replacements: Dead Man’s Pop
  53. Scientists: Not for Sale (Live, 1978-1979)
  54. Abdallah Oumbadougou: Anou Malane
  55. George Jones: United Artists Rarities