Out in the real world, in real time, it was a terrible, terrible week. Maybe these years are like a bad boil that’s eventually gonna be lanced; maybe they’ll leave a nasty scar that’s never going away. As I told a friend, I’m a hair away from despair, but music, love, and liquor has seen me to this Sunday. As is my custom, here’s a Spotify playlist that contains the best tunes of the week, should you care to partake. I’m hoping that one day I’ll want to (be able to?) look back and see how I stayed sane.
Aaaaaand…this week’s awards!
Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Blackfire, One Nation Under.
Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): Soft Machine: Third.
Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Nidia, Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida
Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Spa 700 (with Moor Mother), 700 Bliss; Wynton Marsalis & Friends, United We Swing.
Sunday’s Children: The Mekons 77, John Coltrane.
‘Twas a week of even less structure than last, as my wife Nicole, also a teacher, was loosed upon the summer months. I continued to find it difficult to get focused on writing (I clearly need my back to the wall once a day), but plenty of music flowed within the walls of our home. To wit:
The weekly “Living to Listen Awards” for high-impact records!
Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Jewels and Binoculars, Floater (multi-reed master Michael Moore’s project designed specifically to interpret Dylan on a jazz tip–and does it work!). This ain’t that album, but if you’re skeptical?
Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): see immediately below–a double-winner this week.
Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Grant Green’s The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark. Lots of rockers don’t dig jazz guitar, but Green’s bluesy intensity might cut through that prejudice. Plus: ya got Clark on the 88s.
Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Pusha T’s Daytona. No MC alive is better. As they say, he could recite the phone book. An unfortunate man is allied with him on this project–I will continue to debate with myself as I hope you will whether it’s acceptable to encourage such a project. Also, Grupo Mono Blanco’s ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz, from Smithsonian Folkways but don’t let that stop you from swaying to it.
Sunday’s Children / Today’s Sounds: The Del McCoury Band’s Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass.
I apologize for not writing more this year–I’ve been distracted. But not too distracted to listen to a ton of great new music. I think there’s a little something for everyone here. Items are listed (roughly) in order of the quality I hear in them. That will change tomorrow, I am sure.
1. Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago (ECM)
2. Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie: December Day (Legacy)
3. Kendrick Lamar: to pimp a butterfly (Aftermath)
4. Africa Express: Terry Riley’s “In C”—Mali (Transgressive)
5. Dead Moon: Live at Satyricon (Voodoo Doughnut)
6. Kate Tempest: Everybody Down (Big Dada)
7. 79rs Gang: Fiyo on the Bayou (Sinking City)
8. Nots: We Are Nots (Goner)
9. The Close Readers: The Lines are Open (Austin)
10. Low-Cut Connie: Hi Honey (Ardent
11. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
12. Heems: Eat Pray Thug (Megaforce)
13. The Paranoid Style: Rock and Roll Just Can’t Recall (self-released)
14. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop)
15. Bob Marley & The Wailers: Easy Skankin’ in Boston, 1978 (Tuff Gong)
16. Dwight Yoakam: Second Hand Heart (Warner Brothers)
17. Tamikrest: Taksera (Glitterbeat)
18. Shamir: Racket (XL)
19. Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night (Sony)
20. Various Artists: Burn, Rubber City, Burn (Soul Jazz)
21. Henry Threadgill & Zooid: In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi)
22. Young Fathers: White Men are Black Men Too (Ninja Tune)
23. James McMurtry: Complicated Game (Complicated Game)
24. Big Chief Don Pardo and Golden Comanche: Spirit Food (self-released)
25. Swamp Dogg: The White Man Made Me Do It (S.D.E.G.)
26. Various Artists: The Red Line Comp (self-released)
27. Pop Staples: Don’t Lose This (Anti-)
28. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
29. Leo Bud Welch: I Don’t Prefer No Blues (Big Legal Mess)
30. Mountain Goats: Beat the Champ (Merge)
31. Obnox: Know America (Ever/Never)
32. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard: Django & Jimmy (Legacy)
33. Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni: Ba Power (Glitterbeat)
34. Vijay Iyer: Break Stuff (ECM)
35. Sonny Simmons and Moksha Samnyasin: Nomadic (Svart)
I am not listing labels, since you can copy and paste the titles into a browser and find ’em in a few seconds. I haven’t written about all of them: for example, Ty Segall’s Manipulator is growing on me day by day–surprisingly, since I thought he and I were through–but I don’t yet know what to say other than he’s gotten all of his predilections embraced securely and has put together a tour de force that might be the best thing he’s ever done. Maybe that’s enough. Anyway, here’s what’s been repeatedly ringing my bell:
1. Wussy: Attica!
2. Allen Lowe: Mulatto Radio–Field Recordings 1-4
3. Chris Butler: Easy Life
4. Ty Segall: Manipulator
5. Bo Dollis, Jr. and The Wild Magnolias: A New Kind of Funk
6. Obnox: Louder Space
7. Latyryx: The Second Album
8. Ross Johnson and Monsieur Jeffrey Evans: Vanity Sessions
9. Neneh Cherry: The Blank Project
10. Phil and Dave Alvin: Common Ground–The Songs of Big Bill Broonzy
11. Marc Ribot Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard
12. Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics: Jaiyede Afro
13. Natural Child: Dancin’ with Wolves
14. John Schooley: The Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World
15. Leo Welch: Sabougla Voices
16. Tinariwen: Emmaar
17. Big Freedia: Just Be Free
18. Billy Joe Shaver: Long in the Tooth
19. The Stooges Brass Band: Street Music
20. Mr. and The Mrs.: Radiation Street Blues
1. Bobby Rush: Upstairs at United
2. Marc Ribot w/Deerhoof: Who Sleeps, Only Dreams
3. Heavy Lids: “Gravity Reverse” b/w “This Horse”
1. John Coltrane: Offering—Live at Temple University
2. Various Artists: Haiti Direct!
3. John Schooley One-Man Band: Schooley’s Greatest Hits
4. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys: Riding Your Way–The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music 1946-7
5. Various Artists: Angola 2
6. Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Mali, Volume 2
7. D’Angelo: Live at the Jazz Café, London
8. Sid Selvidge: The Cold of the Morning
9. Gories: The Shaw Tapes—Live in Detroit 1988
10. Charlie Burton: Rock & Roll Behavior
11. Various Artists: Dylan’s Gospel—Brothers & Sisters
12. Various Artists: Go, Devil, Go—Raw, Rare, Otherwordly Gospel
1. AKA Doc Pomus
2. The Case of the Three-Sided Dream