Expect The Unexpected: My Favorite 100 Records of This Year on 🔥 🔥 🔥.

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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.

  1. Gil Scott-Heron and Makaya McCraven: We’re New Again–A Reimagining
  2. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  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 Higberg 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. KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
  13. Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  14. Mark Lomax II: The 400 Years Suite
  15. Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia
  16. Princess Nokia: Everything Sucks
  17. Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia
  18. 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected
  19. James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau
  20. Moses Sumney: grae
  21. Serengeti & Kenny Segal: AJAI
  22. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown
  23. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
  24. Mr. Wrong: Create a Place
  25. Little Simz: Drop 6 (EP)
  26. Jinx Lennon: Border Schizo Fffolk Songs for the F****d
  27. Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully, The Music is Yours
  28. Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
  29. Tyler Keith: The Last Drag
  30. Chicago Underground: Good Days
  31. Les Amazones d’Afrique: Amazones Power
  32. K Michelle: All Monsters are Human
  33. Fat Tony and Taydex: Wake Up
  34. Danny Barnes: Man on Fire
  35. Various Artists: Sahel Sounds Sampler 2
  36. The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express
  37. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
  38. U. S. Girls: Heavy Light
  39. The Necks: Three
  40. fra fra: Funeral Songs
  41. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko: Traversees
  42. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
  43. Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love
  44. Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence, Pts. 1 & 2
  45. Sunflowers: Endless Voyage
  46. McPhee, Rempis, Reid, Lopez, and Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule, Volume 2
  47. X: Alphabetland
  48. Sabir Mateen, et al: Survival Situation
  49. Ndudozo Makhathini: Modes of Communication—Letters from the Underworlds
  50. Mythic Sunshine: Changing Shapes–Live at Roadburn
  51. Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem
  52. Sunwatchers: Brave Rats (EP)
  53. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED
  54. GuiltyBeatz: Different (EP)
  55. El Alfa: El Androide
  56. Alkibar Junior: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 4 (EP)
  57. Kefaya + Elaha Soroor: Songs of Our Mothers
  58. Jennifer Curtis & Tyshawn Sorey: Invisible Ritual
  59. Elysia Crampton: ORCORARA 2010
  60. Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah?
  61. Shopping: All for Nothing
  62. Katie Shorr: Open Book
  63. The Neptune Power Federation: Memoirs of a Rat Queen
  64. Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t
  65. MONO: Before The Past
  66. Chubby & The Gang: Speed Kills
  67. Rina Sayawama: SAYAWAMA
  68. STRFKR: Future Past Life
  69. Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation
  70. Darragh Morgan and John Tilbury: For John Cage (composer: Morton Feldman)
  71. Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris
  72. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind
  73. Waxahatchie: Saint Cloud
  74. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (EP)
  75. Evan Parker and Paul Lytton: collective calls (revisited) (jubilee)
  76. Fire! Orchestra: Actions for Free Jazz Orchestra
  77. Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet
  78. Jan St. Werner and Mark E. Smith: Molocular Mediation
  79. Lyra Pramuk: Fountain
  80. Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamonds
  81. Megan Thee Stallion: Suga
  82. Childish Gambino: 3.15.20
  83. Ohad Talmor Newsreel: Long Forms
  84. Etran de L’Air: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 1 (EP)
  85. Tamikrest: Tamotait
  86. Luís Lopes Humanization 4Tet: Believe, believe
  87. Dramarama: Color TV
  88. Colin Stetson: Color Out of Space (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  89. Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins: Shards and Constellations
  90. Wayne Phoenix: Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth
  91. Thundercat: It is What it Is
  92. Amaria Hamadahler: Music from Saharan Whats App 5
  93. Oumou Diabate et Kara Show Koumba Frifri: Music from Saharan WhatsApp, Volume 2 (EP)
  94. Pink Siifu & yungmorpheus: Bag Talk
  95. Jays Electronica and -Z: A Written Testimony
  96. Meredith Monk: Memory Game
  97. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get
  98. Jeich Ould Badou: Music from Saharan WhatsApp 03
  99. Pink Siifu: NEGRO
  100. Moor Mother: CLEPSYDRA

REISSUED AND NEWLY ISSUED OLDER MUSIC

  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. Various Artists: Stone Crush—Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987
  6. Observer All Stars & King Tubby: Dubbing with the Observer (reissue)
  7. Bryan Ferry: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
  8. Fela Kuti: Perambulator
  9. No Trend: Too Many Humans/Teen Love (reissue)
  10. Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975
  11. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings
  12. Yabby You & The Aggrovators: King Tubby’s Prophecies of Dub (reissue)
  13. Various Artists: Léve Léve – Sao Tomé & Principe Sounds ‘70s-‘80s
  14. Various Artists: Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot—Early Jungle, Rave, and Hardcore
  15. Various Artists: Jamaican All-Stars (Studio One)

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Three Lists (which The Blogger Sheepishly Submits)

Posting every other day has been the hardest of the five-six resolutions I cornily made for myself (I’m doing great on the others). Life has happened, and you can’t push that river. Perhaps I should post just when I want to and I have something urgent to communicate? Yes, and that would be today.

TEN OF MY “FAVORITE ALBUMS OF ALL-TIME”

Recently I asked my Facebook friends the impossible: name your favorite album of all-time. I led with my choice (Professor Longhair’s Crawfish Fiesta, which I’ve definitely played more than any other over the past 15 years) and instantly regretted it, not because it isn’t sublime, but someone else listed something more important. So, here aren’t my 10 favorite albums of all-time, in order; here are 10 records I’d list as my very favorite record, based on number of lifetime plays, significance to my development as a human, sparked joy, and facility in connecting me with other humans. I steadfastly avoided trying to have a politically correct representative list; these are the ones my heart reaches for, instantly.

The Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime

Professor Longhair, Crawfish Fiesta

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

Howlin’ Wolf

The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin

Lucinda Williams

Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys: Basin Street Blues–The Tiffany Transcriptions, Volume 3

The Best of Doug Sahm & The Sir Douglas Quintet 1968-1975

The Clash: London Calling

Having a Good Time with Huey “Piano” Smith and The Clowns

 

MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2019

I don’t know about you, but the offerings thus far have been slim compared to last January. I will stretch to 10, nonetheless, though I may have to lean on reissues of older stuff. There is no serious priority order–it’s too early, and some of these may not end up making my Top 100 in the end. Also: a deep bow of amazement to the ageless Joe McPhee, who’s the star of no less than three of these; an acknowledgement that I have only sampled the glam comp below via YouTube searches; a thank you to my young friend Lucas Fagen, who convinced me that I was not too old and trap-rattle-addled to return to, and enjoy, Bad Bunny; and my apologies if some of these are kinda-’18. I remain needing serious convincing regarding Sharon Van Etten (Remind Me Tomorrow is an “up” album for her???).

Heroes are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions

Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dure–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent

Greg Ward and Rogue Parade: Stomping Off from Greenwood

Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist

Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee

DVK and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time

The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet: Sweet Oranges

Sir Shina Peter and His Internation Stars: Sewele

Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks

Bad Bunny: X 100PRE

 

TEN GREAT BRAZILIAN ALBUMS THAT PAAL NILSSEN LOVE AND CATALYTIC SOUND HAVE LED ME TO (SO FAR)

I ordered and received a CD recently from the fascinating experimental music label Catalytic Sound (Sweet Oranges, above), and within was a neat little ‘zine-styled “quarterly” with poetry and other neat stuff–especially master free drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s list of his 100 favorite Brazilian records. Nilssen-Love’s made many sojourns to Brazil in the recent past, and he’s clearly a sharp, indefatigable crate-digger (that describes his drumming, too). What blew my mind is, though I really love Brazilian music, I’d only heard of 10 or so of them, and didn’t own many. Thus–and this is a reason I haven’t posted recently–I’ve been on a grail quest of my own, using his list as a road map. I’ve heard at least 20 of the records he’s listed since Friday; these are my favorites, and I only have 60-70 to go!

Pedro Santos: Krishnanda

Alessandra Leao: Dois Cordoes

Underground Samba Lapa

Ile Aiye: Canto Negro

O Som Sagrado de Wilson Das Neves

Clara Nunes: Esperanca

Tim Maia: Racional, Volumes 1 and 2

Moacir Santos: Coisas

Grupo Fundo De Quintal: Samba E No Fundo Do Quintal

Elis Regina: Samba, Eu Canto Assim

 

 

That’s The Way (uh-HUH uh HUH) She Likes It (March 4th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

When I was a seventh grader, nothing more propelled me more immediately into bump-doin’ action–even if I didn’t have a partner–than a KC and the Sunshine Band hit. In true teen fashion, I was deeply, often instinctively attracted to any phenomenon I knew would drive adult nuts, but also: I LOVED THIS BAND’S MUSIC. The band’s songs were insanely repetitious, at that, repetitious of hormonally relevant but vacuous lyrics, and repeated by a singer and band of no special gifts other than unquenchable party cheer and simple funkiness–was a band, though, ever more perfectly named? But the instant “That’s the Way I Like It” (or “Get Down Tonight,” with its squiggly guitar opening that scratched every adolescent’s deep itch) exploded from the radio speaker, I (and pretty much every kid within earshot) would twitch into our  hip-bone-bruising version of boogie–and adolescents do have them some hip-bone. I can still remember a junior high dance that left me and my good friend Laurie with massive bruises that I was perversely proud of. And, though I was way into black radio pop at the time, I was certainly delighted upon seeing KC (Harry Wayne Casey to his mom) on TV for the first time: he was a white guy, and he had my haircut!

It’s no surprise that, when I finally settled on a partner for life (twenty-eight years ago this coming May 8th), she’d have the mark of the Sunshine Beast stamped on her sacroiliac. She’s not been a teen for a long ol’ time, but I know if I stealthily load KC and The Sunshine Band’s Greatest Hits into the CD changer, no matter where she is in the house, she will bump into action. Yesterday, noticing that she was industriously occupied somewhere else in the house, I knew it was time for a KC Sunshine Energy Surge. I pushed play, waited about five minutes–and, as if on cue, here she came, bopping into the living room and giving me a mischievously frustrated look that said, “You know I can’t help it when this stuff is in the air!” We’re too old to be bruising each other on purpose, but–unquenchable party cheer? BRING IT ON!

 

Also, a word for this new item from the indefatigable Christopher Kirkley at Sahel Sounds. I’ve not heard any music from the label that I didn’t at least like (I have a weakness for the music of Northern Africa, I admit), but this isn’t (just) music. Well, it’s isn’t just music as most people define it: among the most musical ambient noises of this field recording are, as Kirkley describes them “the sound of desert oases, late night radio broadcasts, village calls to prayer, and riverboats drifting down the Niger river.

One of my favorite new records (it’s actually digital or cassette only) of the year.

Short-shrift Division:

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way–Lordy, she’s missed. But, by God, she left a mark…and her music can inspire you to levels of determination within shouting distance of her own as we came to know them, and that’s considerable.

Junior Kimbrough: Most Things Haven’t Worked Out–Lordy, he’s missed. But, by God, he left a mark…and his music can turn a Sunshiney day into a dark cave corridor.

 

 

Good to My Earhole: First Quarter Report–I’m Not Dead, Just Distracted

 

Honestly, I’ve continued to be distracted from music, and reading, and…well, haven’t you? Nonetheless, I’ve laid ear to some dandy new records; also, I have spent some time with some dandy old records as well. Here we go!

TOP 25 New Releases of 2017:

  1. Harriet Tubman: Araminta
  2. Aram Bajakian: Dalava–The Book of Transfigurations
  3. Syd: Fin
  4. Steve Lacy: Steve Lacy’s Demo (EP) (Not the late jazz soprano master Steve Lacy, BTW!)
  5. Various Artists: Battle Hymns
  6. Thundercat: Drunk
  7. Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Loafer’s Hollow
  8. Sampha: Process
  9. Various Artists: Miracle Steps (Music from The Fourth World 1983-2017)
  10. Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
  11. Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now
  12. Thurst: Cut to the Chafe
  13. Kendrick Lamar: Damn
  14. Joe King Cologbo & High Grace: Sugar Daddy
  15. Ty Segall: Ty Segall
  16. John Escreet: The Unknown
  17. Various Artists: Spiritual Jazz #7—Islam
  18. James Luther Dickinson: I’m Just Dead I’m Not Gone (Lazarus Edition) READ THE BOOK!
  19. (The Late) Mariem Hassan: La Voz Indominata
  20. Let’s Eat Grandma: I, Gemini
  21. Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
  22. Randy Weston: African Nubian Suite
  23. Tinariwen: Elwan
  24. Hurray for the Riff Raff: Up for Anything
  25. Various Artists: Mono No Aware

 

TOP 20 Old Releases That I’ve Bought in ’17 That I Can’t Get Enough Of (not in order of excellence except the first)

1. King: We Are King (would have been in my 2016 Top Ten had I been on the ball)
2. Arthur Blythe: Illusions
3. Various Artists: After-School Special—The 123s of Kid Soul
4. Fred Anderson and Hamid Drake: …together again
5. Philip Cohran: Armageddon
6. Outkast: Speakerboxx/The Love Below (that’s right—I only just NOW bought this for myself)
7. Melvin Gibbs: Ancients Speak (all hail Pete Cosey!)
8. Anthony Davis: Episteme
9. Karreim Riggins: Headnod Suite
10. Michael Hurley: Ida Con Snock
11. E: E
12. Various Artists: Hanoi Masters–War is A Wound, Peace is a Scar
13. Rascals: Anthology 1965-1972
14. Various Artists: Songs from Saharan Cell Phones, Vols. 1 & 2
15. Fela: The Best of Black President, Volume 2
16. Fela: Live in Detroit
17. d/j Rupture: Minesweeper Suite
18. Hoagy Carmichael: Mr. Music Master
19. Mose Allison: I’m Not Talkin’—The Song Stylings of Mose Allison 1957-1972
20. Tomasz Stanko: Leosia