Due to the unexpected death of a great friend, I have been in “4M” mode: Medicatin’ Myself Mostly with Miles.” Another Davis, Lockjaw, has been providing more traditional relief (the blues stomping out the blues), but new music hasn’t been able to elbow in and make much impact. 79rs Gang, a team-up by 7th and 9th Ward Mardi Gras Indian chiefs, released their second straight great album, both available on Sinking City. The first, Fire on the Bayou, was as stripped-down as a mess of Indian chants has ever gotten; the new one, Expect the Unexpected, is as impure as one has ever dared. Little Simz and Sunwatchers purt-near knocked me out with punch-packing EPs, the former gaining more confidence and edge with each new song, the latter barely able to contain their joyous in-all-directions energy. Despite seeming to have blown his voice out, Steve Earle delivered his best songs in years, the product of a more ambitious previous project, I believe. Les Amazones d’Afrique and the Saharan cellphone-foisting legions of Sahel Sounds offered two intriguingly varied and effective sets…and that about does it for fresh musical crank-turning in my world. Where are The Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell, you may be asking? I do not like those albums. Lady Gaga? Something tells me I need her pronto, but I’ve yet to get to it. Maybe next month if the whole circus hasn’t imploded.
Below are my Still-Warm 100, followed by 15 issuances of music recorded in earlier years. Bolded items correspond to the above album covers; they are new to the list. Also, someone lost the top slot, but she’s doin’ alright.
- Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
- Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
- Run The Jewels: RTJ 4
- Kesha: High Road
- Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
- Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
- Body Count: Carnivore
- Anna Högberg Attack: lena
- Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
- The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved (it’s late ‘19, actually)
- Cornershop: England is a Garden
- The Third Mind: The Third Mind
- Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
- KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
- Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
- Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
- Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
- Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
- Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
- 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
- James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
- Moses Sumney: grae
- Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
- Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
- Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
- Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
- Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
- Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
- Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
- Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
- Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
- Chicago Underground: Good Days
- Les Amazones d’Afrique: Amazones Power
- K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
- Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
- Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
- Various Artists: Sahel Sounds Sampler 2
- The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
- Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
- U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
- The Necks: Three
- fra fra: Funeral Songs
- Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
- Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
- Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
- Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
- Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
- McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
- X: Alphabetland
- Sabir Mateen, et al: Survival Situation
- Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
- Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
- Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem
- Sunwatchers: Brave Rats (EP)
- Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
- GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
- El Alfa: El Androide
- Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
- Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
- Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
- Elysia Crampton: ORCORARA 2010
- Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
- Shopping: All for Nothing
- Katie Shorr: Open Book
- The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
- Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t
- MONO: Before The Past
- Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
- Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
- STRFKR: Future Past Life
- Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation
- Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
- Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
- Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
- Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
- Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
- Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
- Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
- Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
- Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
- Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
- Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
- Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
- Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
- Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
- Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
- Tamikrest: Tamotait
- Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
- Dramarama: Color TV
- Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
- Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
- Thundercat: It is What it Is
- Amaria Hamadahler: Music from Saharan Whats App 5
- Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
- Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
- Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
- Meredith Monk: Memory Game
- Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
- Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
- Pink Siifu: NEGRO
- Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA
REISSUED AND NEWLY ISSUED OLDER MUSIC
- Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
- Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
- Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
- Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
- Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
- Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
- Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
- Fela Kuti: Perambulator
- No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
- Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
- Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
- Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
- Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
- Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
- Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)
In another post below, I listed 116 discs from 2015 that I thought were plenty good. Should you have cared, just reading it might have seemed daunting balanced against trying to properly live your life. For folks with less time on their hands, here is the Top 20 I’m going to send in to the various polls to which I am asked to contribute, followed by my favorite 15 “archival digs”–collections of old stuff that demands reconsideration, but shouldn’t properly take up space on a REAL EOY Top 20.
- Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago (ECM)
- Kendrick Lamar: to pimp a butterfly (Aftermath)
- Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts: Manhattan (Rough Trade)
- Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop)
- John Kruth: The Drunken Wind of Life—The Poem/Songs of Tin Ujevic (Smiling Fez)
- Irene Schweizer, and Han Bennink: Welcome Back (Intakt)
- 79rs Gang: Fire on the Bayou (Sinking City)
- Africa Express: Terry Riley’s “In C”—Mali (Transgressive)
- Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie: December Day (Legacy)
- Allen Lowe with Hamiet Bluiett: We Will Gather When We Gather (self-released)
- x_x: Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto (Smog Veil)
- Coneheads: P. aka “14 Year Old High School PC–Fascist Hype Lords Rip Off Devo for the Sake of Extorting $$$ from Helpless Impressionable Midwestern Internet Peoplepunks L.P.” (Erste Theke Tontraeger)
- J. D. Allen: Graffiti (Savant)
- Nots: We Are Nots (Goner)
- Los Lobos: Gates of Gold (429)
- Heems: Eat Pray Thug (Megaforce)
- Erykah Badu: But You Cain’t Use My Phone (self-released)
- Songhoy Blues: Music in Exile (Atlantic)
- Drive-By Truckers: It’s Great to Be Alive! (ATO)
- Wreckless Eric: AMEricA (Fire)
Top 15 Archival Digs or Comps
- Bobby Rush: Chicken Heads—A 50-Year History(Omnivore)
- The Velvet Underground: The Complete Matrix Tapes (Polygram)
- Continental Drifters: Drifting—In the Beginning and Beyond (Omnivore)
- Various Artists: Ork Records–New York, New York (Numero)
- Jerry McGill: AKA Jerry McGill (CD) + Very Extremely Dangerous (DVD) (Fat Possum)
- Dead Moon: Live at Satyricon (Voodoo Doughnut)
- Various Artists: The Year of Jubilo (Old Hat)
- Various Artists: Beale Street Saturday Night (Omnivore)
- Various Artists: Burn, Rubber City, Burn (Soul Jazz)
- Sun Ra: To Those of Earth…and Other Worlds–Gilles Peterson Presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra (Strut)
- Bob Marley & The Wailers: Easy Skankin’ in Boston, 1978 (Tuff Gong)
- The Falcons: The World’s First Soul Group—The Complete Recordings (History of Soul)
- J. B. Smith: No More Good Time in the World For Me (Dust-To-Digital)
- Ata Kak: Obaa Sima (Awesome Tapes from Africa)
- Reactionaries: 1979 (Water Under the Bridge)
- Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie: December Day (Legacy) – Still picks, sings, and writes better than professionals a quarter of his age. Nails down a concept album second only in 2015 to the next item–wait, maybe it is better. I can’t remember….
- Kendrick Lamar: to pimp a butterfly (Aftermath) – Sprawling, manic depressive, multi-masked masterpiece seems to include voices of a whole city, plus 2Pac’s (from beyond the grave). Also, offers cautious consolation to the despairing and a quiet, level warning to the rest. What we were wanting from D’Angelo on Black Messiah, in a way, but didn’t really get. Bonus: Best employment of Robert Glaspar than even on Robert Glaspar albums.
- Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago (ECM) – Never count an old jazzman out–never. Jack and Muhal Richard Abrams keep a loose lasso around reedmen Threadgill and Mitchell.
- Kate Tempest: Everybody Down (Big Dada) – Skeptical about poetry with music? Me, too. Very. BIG exception that proves the rule.
- 79rs Gang: Fiyo on the Bayou (Sinking City) – 7th and 9th Ward NOLA Injuns join forces for one of the best Injun albums in years? Wait: there’s that many of them? YES. Also: support this label!
- Low-Cut Connie: Hi Honey (Ardent) – Very weird, frequently funny indie roots band powered by sly boogie piano and an odd UK/US duo who always sport at least a Hollywood loaf.
- The Close Readers: The Lines are Open (Austin) – New Zealand novelist-led band needs you only to do this to be hooked: click the link and follow along. “Hardcore” – Husker Du’s so loud…
I can’t hear the engine failing
Driving to your house
Got a sense of trepidation/You tell me Bob Mould’s gay
You read it in the paper
But you say it in such a way
Trying to cause me aggravation/I say I don’t care who he’s with
Or if he does it upside down
Zen Arcade’s still a gift
it’s the record of our generation/So put on some Little Red Rooster
Get some words from Thus Spake Zarathustra
We’ll make another killer tape loop
Our group is good
Our group is strong
Our group’s the greatest
Group to come along/When you sat on the edge of my bed
Leaned back against the wall
Then you put your hand on my leg
I said, Boy is that all?
Boy, are you hard
Are you really hardcore?
Hardcore, hardcore, hardcore/Let’s put on some Minutemen
Cos we need a change of pace
You like Mike Watt’s laugh, George Hurley’s hair
And D. Boon’s surprising, lovely,
D Boon’s inviting, lovely
D Boon’s kind, inviting face
- Nots: We Are Nots (Goner) – Mean-mama punks from Memphis. I do mean “punk.”
- Heems: Eat Pray Thug (Megaforce) – My favorite half of Das Rascist waxes a record that’s been needing to be made for 14 years.
- Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love (Sub Pop) – They’re a bit too much of a sober, hectoring machine for me, but they give the drummer some, and does she give back.
- Pop Staples: Don’t Lose This (Anti-) – They didn’t. Pops’ last session, and, yes, they got some shake on his guitar.
- Ornette Coleman and New Vocabulary: New Vocabulary (System Dialing) – “New” means 2009, but we may not hear this certified genius again, and he’s in fine form bouncing off youngsters’ constructions, electronic and otherwise.
- Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night (Sony) – He’s my hero, but he’s a hustler. And this is a hustle. A very seductive one–and it ain’t no joke. Pick to click from Bizarro Ol’ Blue Eyes: “The Night We Called It A Day.”
- The Paranoid Style: Rock and Roll Just Can’t Recall (self-released) – If you know who Wide Right was (Buffalo’s finest!) and Sally Timms is, and you’d like to hear a great song called “Master Jack,” step right up.
- Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop) – Clicked play gritting my teeth, came out of the last track charmed, delighted, satisfied. A smart, funny, and ebullient one from Oz.
- Dead Moon: Live at Satyricon (Voodoo Doughnut) – It is not fair for me to review a Record Store Day exclusive, but maybe you can still get it. It’s only a well-recorded, intense live show from 1993 from the ultimate “family values” garage rockers of all-time–who happen to be playing some reunion dates. Long live the Coles and their drummers Andrew (Dead Moon) and Kelly (The Pierced Arrows).
- Bob Marley & The Wailers: Easy Skankin’ in Boston, 1978 (Tuff Gong) – Do you need another live Marley record from this period, especially since the estate’s gonna release a bunch more? YES, when the times are like they are now, and when this concert opens with six intense calls to revolution that’d make 25,000 hackey sacks hit the ground and a legion of stoned frat boys turn tail.
- Obnox: Know America (Ever/Never) – The hardest-working man in midwestern punk rock backs up his title command with nasty noise, wry imprecations, and music that’s seldom made like this by spades. His other (other?) 2015 album, Boogalou Reed (on 12XU), is only 1/119th less excellent. Don’t fight the raver who needs you (click here)!
- Various Artists: Burn, Rubber City, Burn (Soul Jazz) – Akron: Future home of The Punk Rock Hall of Fame. Copies of this will be handed out at the grand opening. Yes, I know I have used the word punk several times in these descriptions–it’s deliberate and, as Roger Sterling would say about his mustache, “IT’S REAL!!!!” And it ain’t going away anytime soon.
- Barry Hannah: i have no idea what tradition i’m in. don’t care. (The End of All Music) – It’s not a reading from one of Hannah’s many great stories. But his ramblings on sundry topics here are definitely rock and roll.
Note: I have been very inattentive to this blog. I do work two real jobs, but I have also been suffering from a lack of inspiration and the sneaking suspicion that it’s just not possible for me to capture the essence of a record as I would like. However, for some reason, I awakened this morning ready to peck and quip. I hope you see something you’re moved to hear.