Son of Desert Island Discs: 10 Records Released This Year That I’d Take with Me if That Were My Only Choice (October 24, 2018, Columbia, MO)

Last week, I posted my Top 10 desert island records (at least the ones I was feeling that day) for no good reason other than to think about great records and put it out there. Thing is, though…well, three things: a) my list was boring, I thought in retrospect; b) confronted with picking ten from 10,000, I felt my brain dull–and I really didn’t think about the albums, I just felt about them; and c) after realizing no Howlin’ Wolf or Thelonious Monk was on the list, I felt like the failure. Felt, felt, felt.

So I was wallowing around in the comment thread on Facebook that issued forth from my sharing of the post, when a decent, worthy, achievable task came to mind: what if I limited my leave-the-country-fast-as-you-can crate to just records that have been released in 2018? Harder in some ways, but easier to think about. For example, I actually thought about 10 categories for records I’d need if I were isolated on such an islet, and they came surprisingly quickly:

Physical Exercise

Mental Exercise





Appreciation (of the Present)


Lightness (Hope, Laughter, Love)

Darkness (Despair, Rage, Hate)

And, see, the thing is, my Top 10 2018-vintage desert island discs, as a result of the above, don’t exactly match my current Top 10 favorite 2018-vintage discs, because utilitarianism has intruded, which, for my purposes, is just fine. Here goes–the records came almost as quickly, and satisfactorily, as the categories! (Note: I’ve linked the artists and/or records with some supplemental material if you know them not.)

One. To keep myself physically fit, encourage me to dance (easier when I’m by myself, anyway), and inspire me to invent my own kind of tai chi:

JLin‘s Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography)

Two. To keep my mind sharp, engaged, challenged, and fed (this would have to be something durably challenging and nutritious, ya dig?):

Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldiers: Rifles and Rosary Beads

Three. To practice mindfulness and master the emptying of my mind and desires:

Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub

Four. To elicit and help sustain deep and restful slumber, and regenerate my physical and mental cores:

The Necks: Body

Five. Um, OK, I will technically be alone…but my imagination and memories, and the sun, moon, stars, and breeze will be my companions:

JD Allen: Love Stone

Six. To conjure the best memories of my friends, family, wife, pets, and exploits (a tough one, because recent records connect quicker to recent interactions–the past, but certainly not the deep past) (but–aha!–I found a way to cheat, as usual):

Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed

Seven. To encourage me to appreciate my circumstances, either by contrast with the agonies of society or by putting the glories of isolation into relief:

Subtle Degrees: A Dance That Empties

Eight. To encourage me to sing freeing, determined, defiant, melancholy songs–luckily, no one will be there to hear. Dedicated to my friend Hardin–I know you were waiting for it.

Tracey Thorn: Record

Nine. To help me hold (and also release) the light.

John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness

Ten. To help me embrace (and also fight) the dark.

Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit


Let’s hope none of us ever have a reason to split for the sands.

Coming soon: my similar answer to my recent 10 Desert Island Books post.


My Top 35 Rekkids of 2015 (Verdict: Music doesn’t suck these days.)

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)