Musical Gumbo Circa ’21: Best Mach II Pandemic Platters So Far

Plenty of cool new sounds to explore! I had to replace a few platters that just hadn’t stuck to my ears’ ribs and whittle off a few more waning wekkids to leave it at a HOT 100. Also, it finally occurred to me that the list’s expanded enough to break off the new releases of old stuff into their own list (see below). Buy some of this music instead of just streaming it, ok?

100 FRESH FOR 2021

BOLDED ITEMS are new to the list. #s indicate archival music.

  1. Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim 
  2. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon 
  3. East Axis: Cool With That 
  4. Ka: Martyr’s Victory
  5. William Parker: Mayan Space Station 
  6. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman 
  7. Tim Berne: Broken Shadows 
  8. Bob Dylan: Soundtrack to the film Shadow Kingdom (unavailable, but what the hell)
  9. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja
  10. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son  
  11. Wild Up: Julius Eastman, Volume 1–Femenine
  12. No-No Boy: 1975 
  13. The Halluci Nation: One More Saturday Night
  14. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son 
  15. Mauricio Tagliari: Maô_Danças Típicas de Cidades Imaginárias
  16. Penelope Scott: Public Void  
  17. Paris: Safe Space Invader 
  18. Pink Siifu: Gumbo’!
  19. Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway—Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan 
  20. Dry Cleaning: Sweet Princess (EP) 
  21. Sons of Kemet: Black to the Future 
  22. Sa-Roc: The Sharecropper’s Daughter
  23. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa 
  24. Graham Haynes vs. Submerged: Echolocation 
  25. Dawn Richard: Second Line  
  26. Slaughterhouse: Fun Factory
  27. Jupiter and Okwess: Na Kozonga 
  28. The Goon Sax: Mirror II 
  29. Kalie Shorr: I Got Here by Accident
  30. Ches Smith and We All Break: Path of Seven Colors 
  31. Amythyst Kiah: Wary + Strange 
  32. Dave: We’re All Alone in This Together 
  33. Ashnikko: Demidevil  
  34. Tropical Fuck Storm: Deep States
  35. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth 
  36. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty 
  37. Low-Cut Connie: Tough Cookies 
  38. Jaubi: Nafs at Peace (featuring Latamik and Tenderlonious) 
  39. Czarface & MF DOOM: Super What? 
  40. BaianaSystem: OXEAXEEXU 
  41. SAULT: Nine 
  42. McKinley Dixon: For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her 
  43. Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir 
  44. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You 
  45. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction) 
  46. L’Rain: Fatigue 
  47. Emily Duff: Razor Blade Smile
  48. Maria Muldaur & Tuba Skinny: Let’s Get Happy Together 
  49. Ran Cap Duoi: Ngù Ngay Ngày Tân Thê
  50. Angelique Kidjo: Mother Nature 
  51. ICP Orchestra & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil: 062 / De Hondemepper 
  52. Body Metta: The Work is Slow 
  53. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW 
  54. Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough 
  55. Anthony Joseph: The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives 
  56. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears 
  57. Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor: Long Tall Sunshine 
  58. JD Allen: Queen City 
  59. Bleachers: Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night
  60. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley  
  61. Vince Staples: Vince Staples
  62. Various Artists: Indaba Is 
  63. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom 
  64. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom 
  65. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs 
  66. Backxwash: I Lie Here with My Rings and Dresses 
  67. Billie Eilish: Happier Than Ever
  68. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland 
  69. Los Lobos: Native Sons
  70. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales 
  71. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute 
  72. Les Filles de Illighadad: At Pioneer Works 
  73. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP) 
  74. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: 11th Street, Sekondi 
  75. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg 
  76. Madlib: Sound Ancestors 
  77. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions 
  78. Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying 
  79. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go 
  80. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine  
  81. girl in red: if I could make it go quiet 
  82. Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club 
  83. Brockhampton: Roadrunner—New Light, New Machine 
  84. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy 
  85. Olivia Rodrigo: SOUR 
  86. Steve Earle: JT 
  87. Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever 
  88. Halsey: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
  89. Benny The Butcher: Pyrex Picasso
  90. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos
  91. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy  
  92. Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls: Living in the Last Days 
  93. Alder Ego: III 
  94. Sierra Ferrell: Long Time Coming
  95. Alton Gün: Yol 
  96. Meet Me @ The Altar: Model Citizen (EP) 
  97. Penelope Scott: Hazards (EP)
  98. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises 
  99. Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans 
  100. serpentwithfeet: DEACON 

Archaeological Digs from Days Gone By

Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony  

JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street

Kiko Kids Jazz: Tanganyika Na Uhuru

Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York

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

Plastic People of The Universe: Apokalyptickej pták  

Roy Brooks: Understanding

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket

Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977

Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975

Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame

Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy

Various Artists: Wallahi Le Zein! 

Various Artists: The Smithsonian Anthology of Rap and Hip Hop 

Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall # 

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

The J Ann C Trio: At Tan-Tar-A

Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album

Alice Coltrane: Kirtan–Turiya Sings 

Mistreater: Hell’s Fire 

Blue Gene Tyranny: Degrees of Freedom Found

Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork

Pure Hell: Noise Addiction

BurntSugarThe Arkestra Chamber: 20th AnniversaryMixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits, Volumes 1-3

Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay

Joe Strummer: Assembly

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

Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1

Joseph Spence: Encore

Various Artists: Rare.wavs, Volume 1

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” 

“Chrissie, Bar the Door”–A Gush of Recorded Matter into the LTL List: January 1st – June 1, 2021

All I have to say is the size of my list of 2021 go-to albums just increased by 30%, no surprise, as the gears of normal creativity and associated production are grinding into motion. That, and the two new albums created by African artists that stormed my top five are crackling with six-string (and vocal) intensity.

Bolded items are new to the list; items followed by a # are reissues or archival digs; all items are linked to pages of interest or usefulness.

  1. Mdou Moctar: Afrique Victim
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street #
  3. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony #
  4. James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon
  5. Khaira Arby: Khaira Arby in New York #
  6. Fire in Little Africa: Fire in Little Africa
  7. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket #
  8. Miguel Zenon: Law Years—The Music of Ornette Coleman
  9. R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob’s Son 
  10. No-No Boy: 1975
  11. Ashnikko: Demidevil 
  12. Robert Finley: Sharecropper’s Son
  13. Gimenez Lopez: Reunion en la granja
  14. Penelope Scott: Public Void 
  15. Paris: Safe Space Invader
  16. Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975 #
  17. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy #
  18. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  19. Dax Pierson: Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction)
  20. Hamiet Blueitt: Bearer of the Holy Flame #
  21. Brockhampton: Roadrunner—New Light, New Machine
  22. Dawn Richard: Second Line 
  23. Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway—Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan
  24. Various Artists: Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork #
  25. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  26. Various Artists: He’s Bad!—11 Bands Decimate the Beat of Bo Diddley 
  27. Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics—The Lost Atlantic Album #
  28. Various Artists: Doomed & Stoned in Scotland
  29. Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth
  30. Marianne Faithfull (with Warren Ellis): She Walks in Beauty
  31. Vincent Herring: Preaching to the Choir
  32. Lukah: When the Black Hand Touches You
  33. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: NOW
  34. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  35. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  36. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom
  37. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  38. Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes / Groiddest Schizznits, Volumes 1-3 #
  39. Jason Moran & Milford Graves: Live at Big Ears
  40. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay #
  41. Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (EP)
  42. Mistreater: Hell’s Fire #
  43. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  44. Joe Strummer: Assembly #
  45. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
  46. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go
  47. Roisin Murphy: Crooked Machine 
  48. Robert Miranda’s Home Music Ensemble: Live at The Bing #
  49. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine
  50. Vijay Iyer, Linda Han Oh, and Tyshawn Sorey: Uneasy
  51. Alder Ego: III
  52. Shem Tube, Justo Osala, Enos Okola: Guitar Music of Western Kenya
  53. Steve Earle: JT
  54. Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever
  55. Tony Allen (and friends): There is No End
  56. Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos
  57. The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy 
  58. Elizabeth King & The Gospel Souls: Living in the Last Days
  59. Contour: Love Suite
  60. Alton Gün: Yol
  61. Various Artists: Edo Funk Explosion, Volume 1 #
  62. Hearth: Melt
  63. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises
  64. Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans
  65. 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….)

Halfway There, Halfway Gone: Hottest Platters of 2020, 1 January to 30 June

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I got nuthin’ but the list. Bolded items are newly added. Some items have shifted rankings.

  1. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 4
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  4. Kesha: High Road
  5. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways
  6. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  7. Body Count: Carnivore
  8. Anna Högberg Attack: lena
  9. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  10. Neptunian Maximalism: Éons
  11. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved (it’s late ‘19, actually)
  12. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  13. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  14. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  15. Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs
  16. SAULT: UNTITLED (Black is)
  17. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  18. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  19. Kahil El’Zabar: Spirit Groove (featuring David Murray)
  20. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  21. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  22. Various Artists: Music in Support of Black Mental Health
  23. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  24. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  25. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  26. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  27. Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn: Quit Rappin
  28. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  29. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  30. Moses Sumney: grae
  31. Various Artists: New Tangents In Kampala, London & Nairobi Vol.  1 (EP)
  32. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  33. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  34. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  35. Moor Jewelry: True Opera (EP)
  36. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  37. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  38. Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou
  39. Chicago Underground: Good Days
  40. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  41. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  42. Quin Kirchner: The Shadows and The Light
  43. The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
  44. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  45. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  46. Etuk Ubong: Africa Today
  47. Luka Productions & Kandiafa: Music from Saharan WhatApp, Volume 6 (EP)
  48. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  49. The Necks: Three
  50. Beauty Pill: Sorry You’re Here
  51. fra fra: Funeral Songs
  52. Les Amazones d’Afrique: Amazones Power
  53. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
  54. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  55. Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
  56. Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
  57. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  58. McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
  59. Various Artists: Sahel Sounds Sampler 2
  60. X: Alphabetland
  61. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  62. Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
  63. Sabir Mateen, et al: Survival Situation
  64. Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
  65. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  66. Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem
  67. STRFKR: Future Past Life
  68. Sunwatchers: Brave Rats (EP)
  69. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
  70. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  71. GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
  72. El Alfa: El Androide
  73. Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
  74. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  75. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  76. Elysia Crampton: ORCORARA 2010
  77. Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
  78. Shopping: All for Nothing
  79. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  80. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  81. Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t
  82. Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
  83. Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed
  84. Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
  85. Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation
  86. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  87. Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
  88. Onipa: We No Be Machine
  89. Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
  90. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
  91. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  92. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  93. Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
  94. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  95. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  96. Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
  97. John Anderson: Years
  98. Natural Child: California Hotel
  99. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  100. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  101. Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
  102. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  103. MONO: Before The Past
  104. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  105. Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
  106. Dramarama: Color TV
  107. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  108. Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
  109. Lakecia Benjamin: Pursuance—The Coltranes
  110. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  111. Thundercat: It is What it Is
  112. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  113. Dogleg: Mellee
  114. Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
  115. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  116. Meredith Monk: Memory Game
  117. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  118. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
  119. Pink Siifu: NEGRO
  120. Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA

REISSUES AND PAST RECORDINGS NEWLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT

  1. Wussy: Ghosts
  2. King Ubu Orchestru: Concert at Town Hall – Binaurality Live 1989
  3. Ranil: Stay Safe and Sound!
  4. Lee Scratch Perry with Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo (reissue)
  5. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green
  6. Milton Nascimento: Maria Maria (reissue)
  7. Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (reissue)
  8. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  9. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  10. Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators: You and Me and I (Live)
  11. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  12. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  13. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  14. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  15. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  16. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  17. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  18. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  19. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)
  20. The Viscaynes: The Viscaynes and Friends

Open Up, and Say “Uhhhhh…NO!” – The Best Long-Players of 2020 So Far

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Lots of movement on and additions to my updated list. 100 104 106 107 total good new releases is pretty good for four months in; I’ve heard it said that, other than Fiona Apple’s offering (seeming to excite everyone, including this previous tire-kicker), no one’s dropped a classic yet. I’d add Makaya McCraven’s GSH interp to that, goldarn Kesha continues to be a shot in this malaise’s arm, Lewis and Taylor wail on their new live duet, the inspired Irish folk-punk Jinx Lennon has given me more than I can quickly absorb (but it’s raised a little chicken skin during two listens), Lido Pimienta’s pop-folk schizo-concept album has come up the chart like gangbusters,  X’s comeback is slowly growing on me, and HOLY SMOKE Anna Hogberg Attack’s lena is a huge leap forward from a predecessor that was superb–in a word, time (and there’s plenty of it) has a way of conveying power onto a work of art, so we’ll wait and see.

2020 (January 1 – April 30): A Bad Time for Most Anything But Music, Part 5

Note: Bolded items are new to the ongoing 2020 list.

  1. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  2. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  3. Kesha: High Road
  4. Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful
  5. Various Artists: New Improvised Music from Buenos Aires
  6. Body Count: Carnivore
  7. Anna Hogberg Attack: lena
  8. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You
  9. The Good Ones: RWANDA, you should be loved (it’s late ‘19, actually)
  10. Cornershop: England is a Garden
  11. The Third Mind: The Third Mind
  12. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  13. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  14. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  15. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  16. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  17. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  18. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  19. Mdou Moctar: Mdou Moctar Mixtape, Volume 1
  20. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  21. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  22. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  23. Chicago Underground: Good Days
  24. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  25. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  26. The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
  27. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  28. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  29. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  30. The Necks: Three
  31. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  32. Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
  33. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  34. Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
  35. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  36. McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
  37. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  38. Moses Sumney: grae
  39. X: Alphabetland
  40. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  41. Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
  42. Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
  43. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
  44. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  45. STRFKR: Future Past Life
  46. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
  47. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  48. GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
  49. Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
  50. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  51. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  52. Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
  53. Shopping: All for Nothing
  54. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  55. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  56. Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
  57. Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
  58. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  59. Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
  60. Onipa: We No Be Machine
  61. Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
  62. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
  63. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  64. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  65. Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
  66. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  67. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  68. Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
  69. John Anderson: Years
  70. Natural Child: California Hotel
  71. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  72. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  73. Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
  74. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  75. MONO: Before The Past
  76. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  77. Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
  78. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  79. Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
  80. Lakecia Benjamin: Pursuance—The Coltranes
  81. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  82. Moses Boyd: Dark Matter
  83. Thundercat: It is What it Is
  84. Kassa Overall: I Think I’m Good
  85. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  86. Dogleg: Mellee
  87. Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
  88. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  89. Meredith Monk: Memory Game
  90. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  91. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
  92. Pink Siifu: NEGRO
  93. Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA

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. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  6. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  7. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  8. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  9. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  10. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  11. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  12. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  13. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  14. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)

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

Exactly What Nobody Wanted: The Best Records of 2019 (so far), With Two Months Left to Survive It

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Observations of October (OOO for short!)

This has been a pretty great year for music tomes. Simply at present, three are battling for my attention and holding it why they get it: John Doe, Tom DeSavia, and friends’ sequel to the LA punk kinda-oral-history Under the Big Black Sun, titled More Fun in the New World: The Unmaking and Legacy [key subtitular words] of LA Punk; Vivien Goldman’s Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot [oh, those subtitles!], which is passing my first rule of excellent music books by costing me money in buying CDs (yes, I know I could download or stream, but fuck it); and Will Ashon’s inventive and surprising Chamber Music: Wu-Tang and America 9in 36 Pieces, which keeps Jeff Chang’s streak alive of never blurbing a bad book. In the recent past, I’ve devoured Hannah Ewens‘ groundbreaking FANGIRLS, due out in the States next year and possibly landing in my freshman comp/pop music womens’ college class as an assigned text next semester (Ewens’ book passed my second rule of excellent books in that it forced me to read another book, in this case Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck, which in turn led me to the aforementioned Goldman book), and luxuriated in Celeste Bell and Zoe Howe’s Day Glo! The Poly Styrene Story, an oral history of the life, times, vision, and work of Ms. Bell’s influential punk mom. Again, that’s just the last three weeks or so. Get your ass to the library.

 

Speaking of books, Will Friedwald’s The Great Jazz & Pop Vocal Albums is finally letting go its grip on me. However, thinking about the eccentricity of some of his choices, I began to wonder why the distinctive Al Hibbler, a fellow Missouri native (from the metropolis of Tyro!) and maker of terrific albums with the likes of both Ellington and Kirk, didn’t make the cut. Hibbler had a resonant, rich-coffee voice as well as quirky, almost-Cockney articulation on some words (such his pronunciation of “I” as “Oy”). The resulting weird sound matched perfectly with those produced by Rahsaan, as can be sampled on their splendid A Meeting of the Times, on the short list of the best albums ever made by two blind men teaming up:

I’ve played that album many times, but lately I moved on to Hibbler’s two Classics label entries (featuring much of his work with Duke) as well as his romantic, passionately sung, but little-heard mid-Fifties releases (most of them piquantly-titled, such as Torchy & Blue and Al Hibbler Sings the Blues Monday Every Day).

 

Black Sabbath is really good peace-making music. My wife and I were having a mild dispute Saturday evening as she attempted to prepare some pulled pork sandwiches and I tried to convince her I was correct about several non-pork-related points. It had been her turn for stereo control about a half-hour prior to this discussion, and she asked for some Sabbaf. I pulled the two-CD compendium Symptom of the Universe, loaded, and cranked it up, and headed back into the kitchen. Did you know it is fairly impossible to keep a straight face while arguing about anything with a Black Sabbath song as a backdrop? God knows as your dog nose, bog blast all of you / Sabbath, bloody sabbath, nothing more to do / Living just for dying, dying just for you, yeah”?” Well, OK, then! (I can’t resist sharing the below, which is kind of how I feel about this set):

 

I have to put in a strong word for New Orleans’ Sinking City Records and its new release, Byron Asher’s Skrontch Music. This label’s put out precious few records, and it doesn’t knock itself out in getting them distributed, but they are always very interesting and usually really damn good on top of that (try their 79rs Gang or Michot’s Melody Makers or Stooges Brass Band records–or their reissues of Ricky B and Danny Barker singles). Take it from me; I think I’ve bought them all, and I never wait for a review or stream samples to cut my losses. Asher’s only-in-NOLA experiment, which–and this doesn’t capture it–reaches both forwards and backwards through Crescent City music history and features some very bracing ghost appearances, is likely to inch into my Top 10 by the end of next month. Think about giving it a shot. Also, SCR’s pretty much vinyl-only, and I like that.

 

Many of my friends consider me at least somewhat of a music expert, but I regularly demonstrate I couldn’t possibly be. Just f’rinstance: last week, I screened Asif Kapadia’s harrowing documentary Amy for my Stephens College students. They’d been working on writing reviews, we’d Zoomed in some very excellent thinkers and writers to give advice, and they’d sampled several divergent models. For our final piece in the unit, I thought the film (which is more than a little complicated, and that’s a compliment) would make excellent substance for our final Socratic seminar. I’d seen it thrice before, still wasn’t sure it didn’t exploit what it seemed to want to criticize, and–most important to this blather–found myself still pretty resistant to Winehouse’s wiles. Something about her delivery (even after she’d really perfected it) seemed affected to me, without Dap Band bolstering I questioned whether her work would stand up as straight and strong, and I didn’t trust the throwback bouffant, which played to my taste (I love me some girl groups, as well as some bad girls). While watching the film two more times (I have two classes), performance clips of “You Know I’m No Good” and “Love is a Losing Game” finally perforated my shell of ignorance, and I spent a good chunk of the weekend listening to Back to Black. You know what? That sucker is a classic! Eureka–it only took me a decade to figure that out. The thing is, pop music’s so deep and rich that, even if you’re an occasional lunkhead in perceiving it (like me), at least (we hope) you’ll catch up to it later when you need something durable, powerful, and wonderful.

My Album-Lover’s Honor Roll for 2019 (as of November 3, 2019)

(bolded items are new additions to the ongoing list)

  1. Little Simz: Grey Area
  2. Various Artists: A Day in the Life–Impressions of Pepper*
  3. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy!
  4. Peter Perrett: Humanworld
  5. Rapsody: Eve
  6. Mexstep: Resistir
  7. Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  8. Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith: Songs from The Bardo
  9. Chance The Rapper: The Big Day
  10. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana
  11. Royal Trux: White Stuff
  12. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  13. Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)
  14. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
  15. Danny Brown: uknowwhutimsayin
  16. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye
  17. J Balvin & Bad Bunny: OASIS
  18. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
  19. Sheer Mag: A Distant Call
  20. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places
  21. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds
  22. Jeffrey Lewis: Bad Wiring
  23. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
  24. Byron Asher: Byron Asher’s Skrontch Music
  25. Young Thug: So Much Fun
  26. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  27. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto
  28. Teodross Avery: After the Rain–A Night for Coltrane
  29. Various Artists: Total Solidarity
  30. Lana Del Rey: Norman F***ing Rockwell
  31. Control Top: Covert Contracts
  32. Miranda Lambert: Wildcard
  33. Beyoncé: Homecoming
  34. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  35. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League
  36. Joel Ross: Kingmaker
  37. Tyler Childers: Country Squire
  38. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tuba in Cuba
  39. Sote: Parallel Persia
  40. I Jahbar: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash
  41. Quelle Chris: Guns
  42. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  43. DaBaby: KIRK
  44. Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
  45. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer EP
  46. Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance
  47. Senyawa: Sujud*
  48. Dave: PSYCHODRAMA
  49. Rocket 808: Rocket 808
  50. Various Artists: Weaponize Your Sound
  51. Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks
  52. BaianaSystem: O Furturo Nao Demora
  53. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  54. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
  55. DaBaby: Baby on Baby
  56. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  57. Elza Soares: Planeta Fome
  58. Denzel Curry: Zuu
  59. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
  60. Saul Williams: Encrypted & Vulnerable
  61. Young M.A.: Herstory in the Making
  62. Ken Vandermark: Momentum 4—Consequent Duos 2015-2019
  63. The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17. October
  64. Mario Pavone: Philosophy
  65. Alcorn/McPhee/Vandermark: Invitation to a Dream
  66. Joachim Kuhn: Melodic Ornette Coleman—Piano Works XIII
  67. Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain
  68. Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs from The Sun Ra Cosmos
  69. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know
  70. GoldLink: Diaspora
  71. Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief
  72. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever
  73. Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford
  74. G & D: Black Love & War
  75. Girl Band: The Talkies
  76. The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life
  77. Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys: 30 Years Live
  78. Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won’t Hold
  79. Gilberto Gil: OK OK OK
  80. JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs
  81. Resavoir: Resavoir
  82. Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II—Bird of Paradise
  83. Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2
  84. Flying Lotus: Flamagra
  85. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her
  86. JD Allen: Barracoon
  87. Big Thief: Two Hands
  88. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  89. Mantana Roberts: COIN COIN Chapter Four–Memphis
  90. Youssou N’Dour: History
  91. Guitar Wolf: Love & Jett
  92. Tinariwen: Amadjar
  93. Cashmere Cat: Princess Catgirl
  94. Mannequin Pussy: Patience
  95. LPX: Junk of the Heart (EP)
  96. Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid
  97. Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet: Sun Rings
  98. Boris: Love & Evol
  99. Deerhunter: Death in Midsummer
  100. Various Artists: Typical Girls Three
  101. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dur–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  102. black midi: Schlagenheim
  103. Nots: 3
  104. Josh Berman / Paul Lytton / Jason Roebke: Trio Correspondences
  105. Jacob Wick & Phil Sudderberg: Combinatory Pleasures
  106. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues
  107. Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time
  108. Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops
  109. Santana: Africa Speaks
  110. Judy and The Jerks: Music for Donuts
  111. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR
  112. Fennesz: Agora
  113. Salif Keita: Un autre blanc
  114. Robert Forster: Inferno
  115. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  116. Whit Dickey Tao Quartets: Peace Planet / Box of Light
  117. Blacks’ Myths: Blacks’ Myths II
  118. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
  119. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien
  120. Solange: When I Get Home
  121. James Carter Organ Trio: Live from Newport Jazz
  122. Freddie Douggie: Live on Juneteenth
  123. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  124. Ahmad Jamal: Ballades
  125. Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For
  126. Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
  127. Helado Negro: This is How You Smile
  128. Little Brother: May the Lord Watch
  129. Blood Orange: Angel’s Pulse
  130. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Rodents of Unusual Size (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  131. slowthai: Great About Britain
  132. Silkroad Assassins: State of Ruin
  133. Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI
  134. Mekons: Deserted
  135. Que Vola: Que Vola
  136. Kelsey Lu: Blood
  137. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  138. Hama: Houmeissa
  139. Steve Earle: Guy
  140. Mdou Moctar: Blue Stage Session
  141. Ill Considered: 5
  142. Girls on Grass: Dirty Power
  143. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs
  144. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  145. Shovels & Rope: By Blood
  146. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  147. Spiral Stairs: We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized
  148. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  149. Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of The Blues
  150. Jenny Lewis: On the Line

*Technically, these are 2018 releases, but for now, I’m claiming their impact is being felt more strongly this year.

New Releases of Older Material

  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. Various Artists: Put The Whole Armour On—Female Black Gospel 1940s and 1950s
  8. Screaming Females: Singles Too
  9. Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Orchestra: Why Don’t You Listen–Live at Lacma, 1998
  10. Various Artists: Outro Tempo II–Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil 1984-1996
  11. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  12. Gregory Isaacs / Ossie All-Stars: Mr. Isaacs
  13. Various Artists: Jambu
  14. Erroll Garner: Closeup in Swing
  15. John Coltrane: Blue World
  16. James Booker: Live at Onkel PO’s, Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976
  17. Cornell Campbell: I Man a the Stall-A-Watt
  18. Various Artists: World Spirituality Classics 2—The Time for Peace is Now
  19. Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans and Greens—The Lost Fontana Studio Sessions 1969
  20. Star Band de Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal
  21. Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick
  22. Primal Scream: Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll—The Singles
  23. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit: April is the Cruellest Month
  24. Various Artists: Rhapsody in Bronze
  25. Various Artists: Fania Goes Psychedelic
  26. Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate
  27. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  28. Sounds of Liberation: Sounds of Liberation
  29. Prince: Originals
  30. Various Artists: Nigeria 70–No Wahala, Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987
  31. Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972
  32. John Carter & Bobby Bradford Quartet: No U-Turn
  33. Various Artists: Siya Hamba! 1950’s South African Country and Small Town Sounds
  34. Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down–Live 1973
  35. Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners
  36. Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa
  37. The Replacements: Dead Man’s Pop
  38. Scientists: Not for Sale (Live, 1978-1979)
  39. Abdallah Oumbadougou: Anou Malane
  40. George Jones: United Artists Rarities

Trust in the Lifeforce: Best New Records from the First Third of 2019 (Updated 5/1 with Two Significant Add-Ons and Two Bye-Byes)

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I think I’m back to thinking this is a bit of a weak year. Or maybe I’m just saying that to see 2019 hit me back. It worked last time. Some recent observations:

*I’ve been following the huzzahs and hisses directed at Ms. Knowles’ live album. Not having always been vulnerable to her wiles, I understand both sides of the argument (as well as those on middle ground). But I know what I’m hearing, and I find very little not to love: the brass/marching band support (the arrangements make it all sound so easy, but it couldn’t have been), the tougher vocals (something I’ve always wanted from her and knew she could offer), the song selection (I’ve now been converted to tunes I’d tuned out on), the showcases (especially for Freedia! she was owed!), and, honestly, the educational content. It’s a tour de force, and it stands up without visuals, as outstanding as those must have been–I’ve yet to see anything but clips.

*I’d like to thank my friend Dan Weiss for forcefully suggesting I listen to Control Top’s furious Covert Contracts. I have many compadres who ask me, “Well, what about punk rock NOW?” That album’s an answer.

*Billie Eilish may tempt some who know me to wonder if I am bending over backwards to stay hip with the kid-crowd, but I’d argue her material isn’t exactly kid stuff. If you hung around humans her age as much as I do (I have no choice: I teach them), you might hear her record differently. The booga-booga cover pose is not entirely a joke–her generation is indeed dealing with stressors the hoarier among us might well have sidestepped, and it ain’t about how tough we are and they ain’t. And I hear that twining through the songs–along with some charming and funny backtalk and a mordant sense of humor that probably helps Eilish on more than just her music. One way I know she must be doing something right is that she defeats my resistance to “little baby voices” with sheer weirdness, chutzpah, and attitude.

*I recently raided Sublime Frequencies’ Bandcamp site after reading an article on the label in The New Yorker. Several of their more recent offerings are budget-priced, so I indulged myself, expecting really just to be educated about some international music I’d never heard before. Indonesia’s Senyawa’s 2018 album Sujud, however, did that and more, extended traditions of their country’s music into the realm of the self-consciously experimental. If that doesn’t sound like a strong bet, maybe it wasn’t–but they won it. I haven’t heard a more mesmerizing, unique album this year (by the way, I’m counting Sujud as a 2019 offering since, thanks to the above article, that’s when its impact is likely to be more substantial.

*Don’t you love it when a band that’s never done anything for you does something for you? I can’t put my finger on it–I think it’s the songwriting and dynamics–but Shovel & Ropes’ By Blood has me rockin’, and rooting for it.

*It’s too easy, very absurd, and not a little lazy to call Mdou Moctar “The Hendrix of the Sahara.” However, there is a reason he has two records in my Top 70 (!) so far.

And there’s also a reason why, last time, he was compared to Prince.

*LATE-BREAKING ADD-ON: I finally broke down after playing it more times than any other record this year and claimed A Day in the Life–Impressions of Pepper as a 2019 record; it was a 2018 RSD release, but saw an issue to the rest of humanity in December. The jazzer take on The Beatles’ inescapable album might sound like a must-to-avoid (I initially streamed it with some trepidation myself), but it’s quirkily catchy and inventive–plus the jazzers in question include Mary Halvorson, Makaya McCraven, and Shabaka Hutchings, not exactly the paint-by-numbers type and the latter two in the midst of a pretty substantial moment. But don’t trust me; sample it yourself. Also, I wrinkled my nose at LPX being compared to Robyn (and could she not name herself something less mechanical?), then I played her Junk of the Heart EP and felt quite a bit of joy. In fact, a lot of joy.

2019 New Release Honor Roll

  1. Little Simz: Grey Area
  2. Various Artists: A Day in the Life–Impressions of Pepper*
  3. Beyoncé: Homecoming
  4. Royal Trux: White Stuff
  5. Control Top: Covert Contracts
  6. Senyawa: Sujud*
  7. Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  8. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League
  9. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  10. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto
  11. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  12. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  13. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  14. Heroes are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  15. Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)
  16. Dave: PSYCHODRAMA
  17. Quelle Chris: Guns
  18. Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
  19. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer EP
  20. Various Artists: Weaponize Your Sound
  21. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
  22. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  23. The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17. October
  24. Joachim Kuhn: Melodic Ornette Coleman—Piano Works XIII
  25. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know
  26. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her
  27. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  28. Zeal & Ardor: Live in London
  29. LPX: Junk of the Heart (EP)
  30. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dur–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  31. Fennesz: Agora
  32. Salif Keita: Un autre blanc
  33. Robert Forster: Inferno
  34. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  35. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
  36. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien
  37. Solange: When I Get Home
  38. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  39. Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
  40. Helado Negro: This is How You Smile
  41. Ahmed Ag Kaedy: Akaline Kidal
  42. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Rodents of Unusual Size (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  43. Silkroad Assassins: State of Ruin
  44. Mekons: Deserted
  45. Que Vola: Que Vola
  46. Miguel: Te Lo Dije EP
  47. Kelsey Lu: Blood
  48. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  49. Hama: Houmeissa
  50. Steve Earle: Guy
  51. Mdou Moctar: Blue Stage Session
  52. Beth Gibbons with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki): Henryk Gorecki—Symphony #3 (Symphony of Sorrow Songs)
  53. Ill Considered: 5
  54. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues
  55. Girls on Grass: Dirty Power
  56. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs
  57. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  58. Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising
  59. Shovels & Rope: By Blood
  60. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  61. Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center
  62. Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez: Duologue
  63. Bad Bunny: X 100PRE
  64. The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet (featuring Joe McPhee): Sweet Oranges
  65. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  66. Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of The Blues
  67. Wynton Marsalis: Bolden (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  68. People Under the Stairs: Sincerely, The P
  69. CZARFACE & Ghostface Killah: Czarface Meets Ghostface
  70. Jenny Lewis: On the Line

*Technically, these are 2018 releases, but for now, I’m claiming their impact is being felt more strongly this year.

New Releases of Older Material

  1. Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet
  2. Burnt Sugar: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes—Groiddest Schizznits, Vols. 1-3
  3. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  4. Various Artists: Rhapsody in Bronze
  5. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  6. Belton Richard: The Essential Cajun Music Collection, Volume 2

My Favorite Records from 2018, Two-Thirds the Way Outta Here (plus a middling report on and issuance from my sluggish writing mojo) (September 5th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

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My goal for blogging every day about my listening adventures has been blown to smithereens. We went on a long trip this summer, I was (happily, at least) jolted out of my daily rhythm, when we returned I began assaulting myself with the same old aggravating questions (why are you doing this? for whom? does the world need another music blog? you do realize you ain’t got beans to say, right)–and lo and behold, we’re in September and I haven’t posted for over a week–just three-four times in the last month.

 

It’s not like I haven’t been listening to music:

I indulged myself and bought some physical music from the great Chicago-by-way-of-Gary electronic visionary JLin, in anticipation of her new album, Autobiography, due near the end of this month. I am normally not a big fan of so-called EDM but lordy, her sounds just hypnotize me. She’s a young master of tone, rhythmic disruption, and ugly beauty. And you can dance to her. Far as the physical media goes? I just wanted to give her more money to make music with…

Hardee

As a longtime devoted fan of the multi-reed magic of James Carter, I’ve long wondered about the Texas tenor John Hardee, whose composition “Lunatic” Carter covered back when he was a wunderkind. I managed to snag the above comp, which I’d never seen before, after trying to track down a source for Fresh Sounds releases; if you still buy CDs for some reason, I recommend it to you, as it specializes in reissues that might not even be streaming, if you can imagine that. Unsurprisingly, when you lay an ear to Hardee’s playing, you can hear what attracted Carter to it: it’s confidently lubricious, cool, controlled and randy all at the same time.

McPhee

Speaking of saxophone, I love unabashedly such jazz records that explore black spiritual music (David Murray’s Spirituals and Archie Shepp’s Goin’ Home spring immediately to mind). I am an atheist, but I freely admit I get power, hope, and motivation from the best of these works. I’ve perhaps overdocumented on this blog that I think very highly of the free (but sometimes deceptively not) Poughkeepsie hornman and sensei Joe McPhee, a man whose catalog is impossible to touch the bottom of without a couple of oxygen tanks. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that McPhee released his own gospel record, nor was I surprised that it is ravishingly soulful without any compromising of the man’s improvisational principles. Whether he’s on reeds or brass–he speaks very clearly. Guess what? No YouTube. Also, I had to resort to SoulSeek. Just sayin’.

 

Welp, that’s it for recent listening I’m currently compelled to showcase. At least I’ve been keeping track of the albums from this calendar year that I am enjoying. We’re 67% of the way through this year, and I am going to need these releases to support me up to, through, and past the midterm elections–what records are you leaning on right now? Below are 130 LPs (we can still call them that, because they still play long) the teacher in me’d give a B+ or better. The Top 40, in bold, I’ve played over and over and tend to just get better to my earhole and soul, though a couple of recent releases (like The Necks, Mitski. and Blood Orange) I’m really just wagering that I’ll play over and over. In fact, I’m teaching (in a manner of speaking) Mitski tomorrow in my pop music/freshman comp class.

Note: I may be behind on reissues; I don’t rightly know.

  1. Tracy Thorn: Record
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  3. CupcaKe: Ephorize
  4. Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
  5. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
  6. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
  7. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
  8. JD Allen: Love Stone
  9. Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit
  10. Chloe x Halle: The Kids are Alright
  11. The Internet: Hive Mind
  12. Mitski: Be the Cowboy
  13. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  14. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  15. Lisbon Freedom Unit: Praise of Our Folly
  16. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  17. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  18. Parquet Courts: Wide Awake!
  19. Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub
  20. Orquesta Akokan: Orquesta Akokan
  21. Sidi Toure: Toubalbero
  22. Quelle Chris & Jean Grae: Everything’s Fine
  23. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  24. The Necks: Body
  25. Grupo Mono Blanco: ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz
  26. Elza Soares: Deus É Mulher
  27. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
  28. Blood Orange: Negro Swan
  29. Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair
  30. Pusha T: Daytona
  31. Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes
  32. Nidia: Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida
  33. Subtle Degrees: A Dance That Empties
  34. Kids See Ghosts: Kids See Ghosts
  35. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  36. James Brandon Lewis: Radiant Imprints
  37. Ken Vandermark / Klaus Kugel / Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner
  38. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  39. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
  40. Ivo Perlman and Matthew Shipp: Oneness
  41. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  42. The Thing: Again
  43. Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg
  44. Bombino: Deran
  45. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: An Angel Fell
  46. Dave Holland: Uncharted Territories
  47. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  48. Sarayah: Feel the Vibe
  49. Tierra Whack: Whack World
  50. Lori McKenna: The Tree
  51. Nas: Nasir
  52. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
  53. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel
  54. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  55. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  56. Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited
  57. Angelika Niescier: The Berlin Concert
  58. Beats Antique: Shadowbox
  59. Wynton Marsalis & Friends: United We Swing–Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas
  60. Jon Hassell: Listening To Pictures (Pentimento, Vol. One)
  61. Charge It to The Game: House with a Pool
  62. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  63. Anelis Assumpcão: Taurina
  64. The Beths: Future Me Hates Me
  65. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  66. Apolo: Live in Stockholm
  67. Mdou Moctar & Elite Beat: Mdou Moctar meets Elite Beat In a Budget Dancehall
  68. Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing
  69. Wussy: What Heaven is Like
  70. Kiefer: happysad
  71. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  72. Freddie Gibbs: Freddie
  73. Kamasi Washington: Heaven & Earth
  74. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy
  75. Shopping: The Official Body
  76. Young Mothers: Morose
  77. Ebo Taylor: Yen Ara
  78. Dana Murray: Negro Manifesto
  79. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  80. Shame: Songs of Praise
  81. Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures, Pt. 2
  82. Henry Threadgill: Dirt..and More Dirt
  83. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
  84. Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here?
  85. The Coup: Soundtrack to the Film Sorry to Bother You
  86. Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancesco: You’re Driving Me Crazy
  87. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  88. Marc Sinan & Oğuz Büyükberber: White
  89. Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis: Wild! Wild! Wild!
  90. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  91. Deaf Wish: Lithium Zion
  92. Jay Rock: Redemption
  93. MC Paul Barman: Echo Chamber
  94. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  95. Tal National: Tantabara
  96. Wilko Johnson: Blow Your Mind
  97. Rodrigo Amado (with Joe McPhee): History of Nothing
  98. Tony Molina: Kill the Lights
  99. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  100. Hop Along: Bark Your Head Off, Dog
  101. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  102. Tirzah: Devotion
  103. Silvana Estrada: Lo Sagrado
  104. Eddie Daniels: Heart of Brazil
  105. Big Freedia: Third Ward Bounce
  106. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  107. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  108. Busdriver: Electricity Is On Our Side
  109. Daniel Carter: Seraphic Light
  110. Dr. Michael White: Tricentennial Rag
  111. Hermit and the Recluse: Orpheus vs. The Sirens
  112. Migos: Culture II
  113. 03 Greedo: God Level
  114. Angélique Kidjo: Remain in Light
  115. Parliament: Medicaid Fraud Dogg
  116. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  117. The Carters: Everything is Love
  118. The Del McCoury Band: Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass
  119. Superorganism: Superorganism
  120. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet: Landfall
  121. Sleep: The Sciences
  122. Teyana Taylor: K.T.S.E.
  123. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyio
  124. The English Beat: Here We Go Love
  125. Ammar 808: Maghreb United
  126. Princess Nokia: A Girl Cried Red
  127. Santigold: I Don’t Want—The Gold Fire Sessions
  128. Nicki Minaj: Queen
  129. Chad Popper: A Popper People
  130. Fantastic Negrito: Please Don’t Be Dead

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (Deluxe Reissue)
  2. Neil Young: Roxy—Tonight’s the Night
  3. Erroll Garner: Nightconcert
  4. Various Artists: Voices of Mississippi—Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
  5. Various Artists: Listen All Around: The Golden Age of Central and East African Music
  6. Gary Stewart: “Baby I Need Your Loving” / “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Day”
  7. Peter Brotzmann and Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros
  8. Bruce Springsteen: 1978/07/07 West Hollywood, CA
  9. Various Artists: Outlaws and Armadilloes
  10. The Revelators: In which the Revelators perform live renditions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook
  11. Against All Logic: 2012-2017
  12. Grant Green: Live at Oil Can Harry’s
  13. Entourage: Ceremony of Dreams—Studio Sessions & Outtakes 1972-1977
  14. Kuniyuki Takahashi: Early Tape Works 1986 – 1993 Volume 1
  15. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie
  16. Various Artists: Africa Scream Contest, Volume 2
  17. Wussy: Getting Better
  18. David Bowie: Santa Monica ‘72
  19. Mulatu Astatke & His Ethiopian Quintet: Afro-Latin Soul, Vols. 1 & 2
  20. The Beginning of the End: Funky Nassau

Pop Music Pig-Out: My Favorite Listens of 2018, Seven Months In

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I was on the road half of July and not able to search the nooks and crannies of the many music scenes making life bearable in this world where humans are supposedly safer, better educated, and healthier than they’ve ever been–I’m a science advocate, but in this revelation I’m a bit insecure. Still, 15 new records added to my list of gooduns, and five records added to my list of stellar reissues. Making waves on my chart, which is a bit loosely ordered but starting to reflect my feelings about the quality and durability of its contents:

  • Kid Cudi and —–‘s project Kids See Ghosts, which excites me sonically almost every track–and very much against my will (my former Hickman High School Hip Hop Club members, should any of them read this, will be ROTFLOLing at this fact, as I scoffed at their Cudi-philism constantly–they would vaunt nothing else–during our single year of existence).
  • The great West Coast punk veteran Alice Bag, whose (relatively) old memoir may be adding value to her new record.
  • Subtle Degrees’ intense and madly repetitive A Dance That Empties, a jazz assault that has made my heart race pleasantly every listen.
  • The ageless diva Elza Soares–calling her a Brazilian Tina Turner doesn’t even do her justice, and the music behind her will challenge and delight your ear.
  • Freddie Gibbs’ Freddie. I’ve not been moved by Mr. Gibbs in the past–despite the hype and the decent beats, he’s a hip hop boor to the max–but his dedicated to keeping it brief and his flow makes me forgive the rip-off/homage to Teddy.
  • The Internet’s Hive Mind: If I weren’t feeling a bit emotionally naked at present, and trusted my instincts more, this subtle, grooveful, encouraging, and seductively muted gem may have already invaded my Top 5. Syd’s a persuasive and beguiling sprite, but Steve Lacy just might be a Curtis Mayfield for the 21st century. Just might.

Anyhow, here’s my update, with stuff having moved up and down in my esteem, such as that is. In bold are the records I’ve really, really tested and tried to order, but goddam it, Heraclitus is laughing at me as I struggle:

  1. Tracy Thorn: Record
  2. Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart
  3. CupcaKe: Ephorize
  4. Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
  5. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
  6. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
  7. Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
  8. JD Allen: Love Stone
  9. Berry: Everything, Compromised
  10. Joe McPhee: Imaginary Numbers
  11. Chloe x Halle: The Kids are Alright
  12. Superchunk: What A Time to Be Alive
  13. The Internet: Hive Mind
  14. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
  15. Parquet Courts: Wide Awake!
  16. Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub
  17. Orquesta Akokan: Orquesta Akokan
  18. Sidi Toure: Toubalbero
  19. Quelle Chris & Jean Grae: Everything’s Fine
  20. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
  21. Grupo Mono Blanco: ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos from Veracruz
  22. Elza Soares: Deus É Mulher
  23. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
  24. Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit
  25. Dave Holland: Uncharted Territories
  26. Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes
  27. Nidia: Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida
  28. Subtle Degrees: A Dance That Empties
  29. Kids See Ghosts: Kids See Ghosts
  30. Alice Bag: Blue Print
  31. Wynton Marsalis & Friends: United We Swing–Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas
  32. Jonghyun: Poet / Artist
  33. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
  34. Halu Mergia: Lalu Balu
  35. Jeffrey Lewis: Works by Tuli Kupferberg
  36. Bombino: Deran
  37. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: An Angel Fell
  38. Pusha T: Daytona
  39. Rapsody: Laila’s Wisdom
  40. Sarayah: Feel the Vibe
  41. Jinx Lennon: Grow a Pair
  42. Tierra Whack: Whack World
  43. Lori McKenna: The Tree
  44. Nas: Nasir
  45. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
  46. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel
  47. Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy
  48. Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and Paul Lytton: Music for David Mossman
  49. Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited
  50. Angelika Niescier: The Berlin Concert
  51. Beats Antique: Shadowbox
  52. Jon Hassell: Listening To Pictures (Pentimento, Vol. One)
  53. Charge It to The Game: House with a Pool
  54. JPEGMAFIA: Veteran
  55. Anelis Assumpcão: Taurina
  56. Various Artists: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…and Rights!!!
  57. Apolo: Live in Stockholm
  58. Mdou Moctar & Elite Beat: Mdou Moctar meets Elite Beat In a Budget Dancehall
  59. Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing
  60. Wussy: What Heaven is Like
  61. Meshell Ndegeocello: Ventriloquism
  62. Freddie Gibbs: Freddie
  63. Kamasi Washington: Heaven & Earth
  64. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy
  65. Shopping: The Official Body
  66. Young Mothers: Morose
  67. The Thing: Again
  68. Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass
  69. Ebo Taylor: Yen Ara
  70. Dana Murray: Negro Manifesto
  71. David Murray (featuring Saul Williams): Blues for Memo
  72. Shame: Songs of Praise
  73. Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures, Pt. 2
  74. Henry Threadgill: Dirt..and More Dirt
  75. Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens
  76. Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here?
  77. The Coup: Soundtrack to the Film Sorry to Bother You
  78. Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancesco: You’re Driving Me Crazy
  79. Various Artists/Sahel Sounds: Field Recordings
  80. Marc Sinan & Oğuz Büyükberber: White
  81. Kendrick Lamar, et al: Black Panther—Music from and Inspired by the Film
  82. Deaf Wish: Lithium Zion
  83. Jay Rock: Redemption
  84. MC Paul Barman: Echo Chamber
  85. Kris Davis and Craig Taborn: Octopus
  86. Tal National: Tantabara
  87. Wilko Johnson: Blow Your Mind
  88. Rodrigo Amado (with Joe McPhee): History of Nothing
  89. Tony Molina: Kill the Lights
  90. Rich Krueger: Life Ain’t That Long
  91. Hop Along: Bark Your Head Off, Dog
  92. MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk
  93. Silvana Estrada: Lo Sagrado
  94. Eddie Daniels: Heart of Brazil
  95. Big Freedia: Third Ward Bounce
  96. Tallawit Timbouctou: Takamba WhatsApp 2018
  97. Amy Rigby: The Old Guys
  98. Busdriver: Electricity Is On Our Side
  99. Daniel Carter: Seraphic Light
  100. Dr. Michael White: Tricentennial Rag
  101. Migos: Culture II
  102. 03 Greedo: God Level
  103. Angélique Kidjo: Remain in Light
  104. Parliament: Medicaid Fraud Dogg
  105. Yo La Tengo: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  106. The Carters: Everything is Love
  107. The Del McCoury Band: Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass
  108. Superorganism: Superorganism
  109. Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet: Landfall
  110. Sleep: The Sciences
  111. Teyana Taylor: K.T.S.E.
  112. Ibibio Sound Machine: Eyio
  113. The English Beat: Here We Go Love
  114. Various Artists: I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats
  115. Princess Nokia: A Girl Cried Red
  116. Santigold: I Don’t Want—The Gold Fire Sessions

OLD MUSIC NICELY REPACKAGED

  1. Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (Deluxe Reissue)
  2. Neil Young: Roxy—Tonight’s the Night
  3. Erroll Garner: Nightconcert
  4. Various Artists: Voices of Mississippi—Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
  5. Various Artists: Listen All Around: The Golden Age of Central and East African Music
  6. Gary Stewart: “Baby I Need Your Loving” / “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Day”
  7. Peter Brotzmann and Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros
  8. Bruce Springsteen: 1978/07/07 West Hollywood, CA
  9. Various Artists: Outlaws and Armadilloes
  10. The Revelators: In which the Revelators perform live renditions of selections from the Billy Childish songbook
  11. Against All Logic: 2012-2017
  12. Grant Green: Live at Oil Can Harry’s
  13. Entourage: Ceremony of Dreams—Studio Sessions & Outtakes 1972-1977
  14. Kuniyuki Takahashi: Early Tape Works 1986 – 1993 Volume 1
  15. Camarao: The Imaginary Soundtrack to a Brazilian Western Movie
  16. Various Artists: Africa Scream Contest, Volume 2
  17. Wussy: Getting Better
  18. David Bowie: Santa Monica ‘72
  19. Mulatu Astatke & His Ethiopian Quintet: Afro-Latin Soul, Vols. 1 & 2
  20. The Beginning of the End: Funky Nassau