Saturday, January 31. 2015
I've been waiting to add Robert Christgau's annual "Dean's List" to my EOY Aggregate file, assuming it would (as has been the case in recent years) be published by BN Review sometime after the Village Voice posted its Pazz & Jop poll results. (P&J has figured large in Christgau's annual summary articles, even after he stopped running the poll.) But it hasn't appeared yet (and I don't really know why, other than that the pace of his not-quite-monthly BN Review essays slowed last year, down from ten to five pieces in 2014). I do know why it hasn't been easy to construct a 2014 list of graded albums from Christgau's website: I have not done the work to stuff the new EW reviews into the database. One reason for that is that Medium insisted on a 90-day delay period so I couldn't post any reviews until they have aged three months. One way to handle that would be to write some additional code to check the age of CG reviews -- something I haven't had much time to do. Another is to only update reviews that have aged sufficiently, but there haven't been many of those until recently.
I've finally started working on adding the new EW reviews, and decided the first step would be to collate a list of all the reviews/grades thus far. That's what the lists below do: they are sorted by release year, then grade, then alphabetically by artist, with various artists within each grade listed last, sorted within grade and year by title. Christgau is rather inconsistent about noting release date years, so in many cases I've had to look those up. (He's also inconsistent about non-label albums, especially mixtapes, but I've given up trying to rationalize those.) The first thing I did with the list was to add his grades to the EOY Aggregate, including an unranked point for everything A- or above. (His grades, like mine, are in the comment field.)
That gives us 46 A-list albums already reviewed. In recent years, Dean's Lists settled into two levels: 2008-10 and 2013 ranged from 65 to 72, while 2011-12 wound up at 92-93. The drop-off from 2012 to 2013 came after MSN cancelled Expert Witness around September, so Christgau had less motivation to find the extra 20 albums that it would have taken to continue 2011-12 levels. Even so, the 2013 list includes 29 records that weren't reviewed in EW. (Eight of those 29 have subsequently been reviewed in the new Medium-based EW -- one of those, Arcade Fire, with a reduced grade.)
Anyhow, it seems reasonable that when/if Christgau publishes a 2014 Dean's List, it will include another 20-25 thus far unreviewed 2014 albums, though probably not the 45-46 albums it would take to reach 2011-12 levels.
Monday, January 26. 2015
Music: Current count 24422  rated (+30), 497  unrated (+4).
Closed the count out Sunday evening, trying to get a jump on posting this early, but various distractions today will make this as late in the day as usual.
To save some time, I went ahead and rushed out Rhapsody Streamnotes without having tweeted everything. The tweet reviews are meant as advance news, so seemed like a waste of time to make up lost ground below. The records that lost out: Terri Clark, Peter Evans, Porter Robinson, Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako. I was listening to the three Soundway records as I wrapped up Streamnotes, so they're the first of next column's reviews. After that, I was just browsing around for something interesting to listen to, and noticed that Rhapsody has quite a few releases from the American Music label, which was established in the early 1940s to record the older, but then still living, generation of New Orleans jazz musicians.
In the 1930s jazz moved from New Orleans-style groups -- usually five-to-seven members -- to swing, both in big bands and small groups (usually five or less), and in the 1940s jazz moved on to the more self-consciously virtuosic music known as bebop. Bucking this trend was a sudden revival of interest in traditional jazz, especially in San Francisco (with the Yerba Buena Jazz Band) and later in the '40s in England. The new trad jazz musicians were almost invariably white, but as with the folk-blues movement in the early 1960s, scholars and entrepreneurs went back to find what was left of New Orleans' early jazz musicians. The unrecorded Buddy Bolden, of course, was long gone, as was Freddie Keppard (1890-1933), who at least recorded a it in the mid-1920s. But Bunk Johnson (1879-1949) was justifiably ancient, older than King Oliver (1885-1939) let alone Louis Armstrong's slightly older peers, the late Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941) and Johnny Dodds (1892-1940), and the still active Kid Ory (1886-1973), Baby Dodds (1898-1959), and especially the trad-minded George Lewis (1900-68).
The only thing I had heard by Johnson was Bunk and Lu, a compilation of sessions with Lu Watters (one of the West Coast revivalists), so the chance to hear the vastly superior sets on American Music is most welcome -- and not just as a respite from 2014. But speaking of 2014, the latest A-list finds turned out to be two very different fringe-country artists, Kelsey Waldon and Bob Wayne. There are undoubtedly more out there, but it's becoming less and less obvious where to look next.
Sometime between now and the end of January I'll call it quits and freeze the year-end list. After last year's relatively early freeze date I added 69 records to the 2013 file. It certainly wouldn't be hard now to construct a list of 2014 releases I would like to have heard, but finding them and getting to them will be harder. And usually the pressures of the new year dim my interest in the old one. We'll see what happens this time.
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old records rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
Sunday, January 25. 2015
Don't have much to show here, but enough to run. I wasn't able to find anything very useful on renewed hostilities in eastern Ukraine: I gather the central ("pro-western") government broke the cease fire, and now they're complaining about civilian deaths caused by Russian rockets. This is one of four major wars from 2014 -- Israel, Iraq, and Syria -- that have been allowed to fester and grow by the inability and/or unwillingness of the US to engage in diplomacy, especially with Russia. That failure is rooted in the kneejerk US belief that foreign affairs is always a test of will where only force matters. In particular, the US has been seduced by the idea that all problems can be solved by killing "bad guys" -- a notion that's rife in American culture, that is the basic idea behind the drone warfare program, that excuses all manner of secret operations. That American Sniper beat out Selma both in the box office and Oscar nominations is par for the week.
I skipped the "Israel Links" this week, not because I couldn't find them but because I didn't feel a need to bother. If you do feel the need, the first place to look is Mondoweiss.Some scattered links this week:
Also, a few links for further study:
Saturday, January 24. 2015
I was hoping this would be my last word on 2014, but perhaps because I'm once again planning on scaling back next year, I've been looking for more definitive closure to last one. Below you'll find review-notes on 140 records, all from 2014 but a few detours I couldn't help but follow. Neither my year-in-progress, my best jazz, my best non-jazz, nor my EOY list aggregate files are frozen yet, though I will commit to January 31 as the last possible day to do so. To limit this file -- the longest since November 30, 2013 -- I've already saved a handful of 2015 jazz releases for next time, and I'm resisting the temptation to add the three 2014 releases I've already written up today.
I don't have time to sum up the many things I've gleaned about new recorded music in 2014. At present, the year-end file provides grades for 1146 albums (plus 7 late-appearing 2013 albums). That seems like a lot, but it's actually down from last year (1150 at freeze time; 1221 by end of 2014), even more so from my peak years in 2011 (1415) and 2010 (1301), although it's slightly more than any of the frozen file totals from 2004 (first year I topped 1000) through 2009). It's harder to compare this year's EOY Aggregate to previous year Metacritic files, but it's fair to say this year's approach has been more limited (e.g., 4922 new records this year, vs. 7868 in 2013, 6341 in 2012, or 5441 in 2011. Good chance this year's 525 EOY lists are also down, but hard to say by how much.
Still, the one thing that is up this year is the size of the A-list: 147 new + 23 old (archival/reissue) records. Still, with late finds last year wound up very close (148 new + 21 old, so -1, although it was -11 back at freeze date). Previous year A-lists (post-freeze total in parens): 2012: 131+16 (24); 2011: 132+21 (15); 2010: 133+17 (16). Those A-lists are typically very close to 50% jazz. The non-jazz part of those lists is typically 15-20% shorter than Christgau's non-jazz Dean's Lists, so the notion that I'm an easy grader is probably unwarranted. (Unless you consider jazz easy?)
These are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Rhapsody. They are snap judgments based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on December 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (5918 records).
New Releases (More or Less)
2NE1: Crush (2014, YG Entertainment): Korean pop group, four girls, real potential for dance pop -- the title cut indeed crushes it -- and I'd give their ballads an edge over the neo-soul norm, even when I don't understand a word. Rap some, too, and most songs sneak in a line or two of English, in case you're listening. B+(**)
African Express: African Express Presents . . . Terry Riley's In C Mali (2014, Transgressive): Riley's minimalist classic dates from 1968. It has always been about repetitive rhythms, so the use of Mali's drums and percussive instruments seems like a natural, as do the voices for shading, the guitar, whatever. B+(***)
Alt-J: This Is All Yours (2014, Canvasback/Atlantic): British neo-prog group, makes a kind of chamber pop that's beguiling and pretty -- in AMG's words, "both planetarium laser light show and art installation ready." B
Grazyna Auguscik Orchestar: Inspired by Lutoslawski (2013 , Fortune): Witold Lutoslawski (1913-94) was one of the better known classical composers and conductors of the late 20th century, especially in his native Poland -- not that that's something I know much about. I have no idea what's going on here, other than that the orchestra is named for leader/singer Grazyna Auguscik and splits into three sections: a string quartet, and two "trios" with four members each, with various additional singers emerging from the crowd. Not something I would normally like, and not bad for that. B+(*) [cd]
Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires: Dereconstructed (2014, Sub Pop): A back-to-basics rock and roll band, a bit of southern twang -- perhaps they're aiming at Drive-By Truckers, but I'm finding them a little overamped and underarticulated. B
Courtney Barnett: The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (2012-13 , Mom + Pop Music): Singer-songwriter from Australia gets a 12-cut, 56:20 LP out of two EPs (I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris and How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose). Doesn't have much of a country or a lo-fi rock accent. B+(*)
Basement Jaxx: Junto (2014, Atlantic Jaxx): House (or something like that) duo, had big albums 1999-2001 and fairly steady product since then, certainly know how to keep a dance beat running. B+(**)
Jon Batiste/Chad Smith/Bill Laswell: The Process (2014, MOD Technologies): Piano-drums-bass, respectively, although it's not that simple: all three are listed as producers, and while their search for the perfect groove is fundamental here, they shuffle in guests to mix things up: various vocalists including Killah Priest, plus Toshinori Kondo on trumpet and Peter Apfelbaum on reeds. B+(***)
Gorka Benitez: Gasteiz (2012 , Fresh Sound New Talent): Tenor saxophonist from Spain, has at least nine albums since 1999, the few I've heard always impressing me with his tone and poise. This is a trio, with Ben Monder on guitar and David Xirgu on drums, a sweet set up. Plays some flute too -- offset nicely against the guitar. B+(**)
Beverly: Careers (2014, Kanine): Duo, another Frankie Rose project (Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls), this one with singer-guitarist Drew Citron (ex-Ava Luna). Lo-fi pop, the hard edges ground down but not forgotten. B+(*)
Elvin Bishop: Can't Even Do Wrong Right (2014, Alligator): Had a great hit back in the 1970s, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," when he was identified with the decade's southern rockers, but rather than fade away he signed with blues label Alligator 1988-2000, moved on to Blind Pig, and is now back home. And at 71 he's contemplating his own mortality . . . with the same stoned amusement he's brought to everything in life. B+(**)
The Michael Blum Quartet: Initiation (2014, self-released): Guitarist, first album, backed by piano-bass-drums. Just one song of his own, but four from bassist Jim Stinnett, with the covers including a Jobim. Fitting, as he has a light touch and tone. B+(*) [cd]
Lukasz Borowicki Trio: People, Cats & Obstacles (2014, Fortune): Guitarist, based in Denmark, seems to be his first album. Backed by double bass and drums, guitar is electric, pieces are attributed to the group except for a "bonus" solo. Wouldn't call it "raw" but it does flex some muscle. B+(**) [cd]
Peter Brendler: Outside the Line (2014, Posi-Tone): Bassist, first album as the leader, a quartet with two horns -- Rich Perry on tenor sax and Peter Evans on trumpet -- plus drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. Fast ones are unbridled bebop. Slower ones more complex, sometimes sounding wrong but more plays may set me right. Plus first jazz cover I've heard of "Walk on the Wild Side" -- his motto? B+(***)
Jonatha Brooke: My Mother Has 4 Noses (2014, Bad Dog): Singer-songwriter from Illinois; first I noticed of her was her 2008 album The Works where she started with Woody Guthrie lyrics -- possibly the best of nearly a half-dozen good-to-great albums like that. The songs were originally part of a one-woman play: a daughter's portrait of a mother descending into dementia. A-
Bushwick Gospel Singers: Songs of Worship Vol. 2 (2014, The Church of Universal Knowing): Can't find any credits or history on this group, but even though Peter Stampfel swears he's not singing here (although daughter Zoë is) his vocal stamp is obvious, and the banjo and fiddle aren't far behind. Inspirational verse: "I will turn your water into wine/white bread into rye." Disclaimer: "and they'll know we ain't no Christians, because we love." B+(***)
Caleb Caudle: Paint Another Layer on My Heart (2014, This Is American Music): Country singer-songwriter from North Carolina, has a fine ear and voice for ballads, a modest demeanor, and some pedal steel. B+(***)
Billy Childs: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro (2014, Masterworks): Pianist, close to a dozen albums since 1988, the first few on New Age label Windham Hill. Nyro was a singer-songwriter, both a pop and cult figure following her 1968 album Eli and the 13th Confession and its successor New York Tendaberry. I dug up those albums recently and graded them B and C+, stopping short of her 1970 album Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. I wouldn't have bothered with this either, but it's been popping up on EOY lists -- as Dan Bilawsky wrote in AAJ, "this one has Grammy written all over it." Well sure, in all the worst senses: Childs' piano is fortified with strings and rare guest horns (Wayne Shorter, Steve Wilson, Chris Potter, Chris Botti) and an array of vocal stars, starting with Renee Fleming and ending with Alison Kraus. Redeemed: Ledisi's "Stoned Soul Picnic." Actually, Kraus's song ("And When I Die") isn't bad either. B-
Terri Clark: Some Songs (2014, Bare Track): Country singer from Canada, had a run on a Nashville major 1995-2005 but this modest effort -- ten songs, 32:30, generic title -- like her last two came out on a Canadian label. She has a piece of credit on half of those songs, but note that the Clark who wrote the two most memorable ones ("I Cheated on You" and "Bad Car") has first name Brandy. B+(**)
Clipping: CLPPNG (2014, Sub Pop): LA hip-hop group: Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes. Fairly minimal beats, leaning toward industrial noise; the raps monotone, dare I say clipped? Could possibly grow on you. B+(**)
Hollie Cook: Twice (2014, Mr. Bongo): British reggae singer, father was Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, mother backed up Culture Club, joined the Slits when they reformed in 2006. Diminutive voice, rhythm track is small too without much dub, but that eventually seems like a statement. B+(*)
Theo Croker: AfroPhysicist (2011 , Okeh): Trumpet player, last heard on Arbors with In the Tradition -- he is, after all, the grandson of Doc Cheatham -- but this is a significant departure, and not toward anything in particular. Dee Dee Bridgewater produced and contributes three vocals (including "Moody's Mood for Love"). Guests include Stefon Harris and Roy Hargrove, and covers span Buddy Johnson and Stevie Wonder. I find it deliriously scattershot, but at least the trumpet stands out. B+(*)
Richard Dawson: Nothing Important (2014, Weird World): British guitarist and (I guess) singer, not sure there's anything else here. Four pieces, the first instrumental (6:40), the next two over 16 minutes each: intense, distorted, their musicality hard to access but arguably there (somewhere). B
Dej Loaf: Sell Sole (2014, World): Detroit rapper, a young woman -- the voice sounded more young than female at first, aside from the tendency to go deadpan. B+(*)
DJ Quik: The Midnight Life (2014, Mad Science): David Martin Blake, discography goes back to 1991, but a "best of" his early discs still wasn't all that good. But lately he's picking up more bounce, and that helps. B+(*)
Peter Evans Quintet: Destination: Void (2013 , More Is More): Trumpet player, notably for Mostly Other People Do the Killing, backed by piano-bass-drums plus Sam Pluta's live electronics. Some major moments when the trumpet cuts loose, but I'm not sure what the other herky jerk is meant for. B+(*)
First Aid Kit: Stay Gold (2014, Columbia): Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg initially suggested a quaintly folkish Americana, but as they've gotten bigger they've become ever more generically unrooted, prisoners of their harmonies. B
The Flaming Lips: With a Little Help From My Fwends (2014, Warner Brothers): I doubt I've heard the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper in more than 20 years, but this remake brought every note and nuance back to my memory, then blew up most of them. Too gratuitously noisy, methinks, but I have to admire the advances modern chemistry has brought to psychedelia. B+(**)
Fred Frith and John Butcher: The Natural Order (2009 , Northern Spy): Guitarist Frith has a huge number of albums since his original 1974 Guitar Solos, straddling rock and jazz without fusing with either. Butcher is a tenor saxophonist, a pillar of England's free jazz underground, and a fitting match, drawing out remarkable sounds, even when most difficult. B+(**)
Alex G: DSU (2014, Orchid Tapes, EP): Alex Giannascoli's first album, a singer-songwriter with his heart on his sleeve, rather emo but not without pop resonance. Ten songs, but rather short at 24:36. B+(*)
Lee Gamble: Koch (2014, Pan, 2CD): British electronica producer, discography starts in 2006 but has a record called Diversions 1994-1996 so may be older. This is abstract and scattered, but leans toward techno. B+(*)
Bunji Garlin: Differentology (2014, RCA/VP): Soca star, from Trinidad; has a rep for introducing harder, faster ragga beats, but what I'm hearing ranges all the way to over-the-top techno, at least on several remixes. Can get overbearing, but "Red Light District" gets the mix about right. B+(**)
Herb Geller/Roberto Magris: An Evening With Herb Geller & the Roberto Magris Trio: Live in Europe 2009 (2009 , JMood): The alto saxophonist was one of the major figures in the "west coast cool jazz" from the mid-1950s until his death in 2013 at 85. I don't know how late he played -- this is the latest I've found, but he's in very good form, and the piano trio provides perfectly sound support. B+(***) [cdr]
GOAT: Commune (2014, Sub Pop): Swedish group, acronym stands for "Gathering Of All Tribes" although there is something to be said for u&lc also. Second album, following World Music, they promiscously cross borders without ever getting nailed down to any particular tribal identity, maybe because the whole world unites in amplifier distortion. A-
Gold-Bears: Dalliance (2014, Slumberland): Atlanta "twee-punk" band, which I take to be punk without sharp edges, vocals buried under a steady guitar roil. B+(**)
Tom Guarna: Rush (2014, BJU): Guitarist, has five previous albums for SteepleChase, a Danish label which has been especially devoted to American guitarists but which never answered my inquiries. Quintet, with Joel Frahm on soprano and tenor sax, Danny Grissett on piano, Orlando Fleming on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums -- a postbop set a little ripe for my ears. B
Steve Gunn: Way Out Weather (2014, Paradise of Bachelors): Singer-songwriter, Rhapsody pegs him as "progressive folk" but there's more to him, even if it isn't all that evident here -- regarded as a guitar virtuoso; has studied Indian classical music, gnawa, and La Monte Young; has two more records out this year: one on Important (avant-garde), the other on RVNG Intl. (electronica). I didn't catch much of this until the closer, "Tommy's Congo." B+(*)
Barry Guy New Orchestra: Amphi/Radio Rondo (2013 , Intakt): The two title pieces, 26:35 and 29:34, played by a large free ensemble -- four reeds, trumpet-trombone-tuba, piano, the leader on bass, and two drummers, plus (first piece only) Maya Homburger on baroque violin. Many name players with a knack for controlled chaos. B+(*)
The Heliocentrics & Melvin Van Peebles: The Last Transmission (2014, Now-Again): British group of Sun Ra devotees, tend to play a jazz-funk fusion but rather than develop that they've cut a niche by collaborating with weird old guys the world largely forgot about: Mulatu Astatke, Orlando Julius, Lloyd Miller, and now poet Melvin Van Peebles, whose spoken word gives this jazz-funk fusion reason to exist. B+(***)
Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections (2014, Rune Grammofon): Norwegian trumpet player, prolific since 2000, leads a string-heavy sextet here -- two violins (doubling on Hardanger fiddle), cello, double bass, and drums. Chamber jazz, I guess, on the cool side. B
Honeyblood: Honeyblood (2014, Fat Cat): Duo from Glasgow, Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale (guitar and vocals) and Shona McVicar (drums). Their roughness slots them as noise-pop, but the lyrics I noted were mostly clichés (e.g., "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger"). B
The Hotelier: Home, Like Noplace Is There (2014, Tiny Engines): Punkish group from Massachusetts, seems to have higher ambitions (like, say, La Dispute) but they're hard to decipher: one allegedly political song takes the point-of-view of a dog, which isn't all that enlightening (but does let the singer dis bitches). B+(*)
Jachna Tarwid Karch: Sundial (2013-14 , Fortune): Trio from Poland: Wojciech Jachna (flugelhorn/trumpet), Grzegorz Tarwid (piano), Albert Karch (percussion). B+(*)
Ali Jackson: Amalgamations (2013 , Sunnyside): Drummer, has dropped the "Jr." that initially distinguished him from his bassist father. Side credits include work with Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and he's brought some of them to play here. I haven't seen the breakdown, but I suspect that the 12 side credits rotate around -- especially the three bassists and four keyboard players. Maybe the horns too, but they're worth naming: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Ted Nash (alto sax), JD Allen (tenor sax). Hard to get all this straight in a blindfold test. B+(**)
Leela James: Fall for You (2014, J&T): Soul singer, fifth album including a tribute to Etta James (unrelated as far as I know). Neither retro nor nu, just at ease in the modern world. B+(***)
Luke James: Luke James (2014, Island): R&B singer from New Orleans, dropped his surname Boyd. First album after a couple of mixtapes. Album takes its sweet time connecting, but his falsetto reach turns "I Want You" into a first-rate single. B+(**)
Lucien Johnson/Alan Silva/Makoto Soto: Stinging Nettles (2006 , Improvising Beings): Tenor sax-bass-drums trio, the leader from New Zealand -- seems to be his first album, but he was the main composer in a group called Shogun Orchestra (eponymous album 2012). Silva's well known in free jazz circles. I squinted through enough of the microprinted liner notes to find out that Soto is some sort of Don Cherry protégé. Basically what you want in this configuration: a high energy charge, but the saxophonist can also slow it down and keep your attention. A- [cd]
Karen Jonas: Oklahoma Lottery (2014, self-released): Country-ish singer-songwriter from Virginia, first album, shows remarkable poise spinning out stories starting with "Suicide Sal," three years on the run and running out. B+(***)
The Juan MacLean: In a Dream (2014, DFA): Actual name John MacLean. Beats are danceable, replete with a swash of disco, and the singers are equally functional. B+(***)
Amira Kheir: Alsahraa (2014, Sterns): From Sudan, a woman singing in Arabic (I presume), backed with basic trans-Saharan simplicity (or is it aridness?): acoustic guitar, bass, percussion. B+(*)
Khun Narin: Electric Phin Band (2014, Innovative Leisure): Thai group, doubt you could call this folk or pop, less sure about jazz -- no vocals, but also the beat is pretty regular. Central instrument is the phin (a 3-stringed lute), but it's run through various effects pedals so it sounds more like a guitar, and a picture shows three drummers plus a bass guitar. Four cuts, one as long as 19:28, all at racing tempos. B+(**)
Kiasmos: Kiasmos (2014, Erased Tapes): Icelandic techno duo, Olafur Arnalds (who's relatively well known) and Janus Rasmussen (actually from the Faroe Islands). Music looped together, approaching ambient but not quite ready to drop the dance beat. B+(*)
Nikola Kolodziejczyk Orchestra: Chord Nation (2011 , Fortune): Very big band, conventional plus extra reeds and strings, with leader playing piano/wurlitzer, writing all five pieces. Recorded for radio, probably where the money for such extravagances lies. B+(**)
Leszek Kulakowski Ensemble: Looking Ahead (2014, Fortune): Pianist, discography goes back at least to 1994, with a jazz orientation but close to classical -- Chopin for jazz trio and orchestra, string quartets, a "Piano Concerto," things that translate as "Cantabile in G Minor" and "In the Chamber Komeda Mood," etc. This is a sextet with trumpet and sax, also cello. Richly textured, a first-rate composer -- evidence, I think, that post-classical has moved on to jazz, even though not all jazz is post-classical. B+(**)
The Lawrence Arms: Metropole (2014, Epitaph): Chicago post-punk group, first album in 1999, back with their sixth after a hiatus, older and wiser perhaps; can't say whether they've slowed down but they do have a knack for tunes, and they swear a lot. B+(**)
Little Big Town: Pain Killer (2014, Capitol Nashville): Nashville vocal quartet, two guys (Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook), two gals (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman) -- been together since 2002, including a platinum record for 2012's Tornado, but sales are way off on this one. Could be the heavy but rote rock on most tracks, or that the love songs are a little, uh, yucky: "you're my pain killer/a little dose of you goes a long way" or "I want to taste her lips/yeah, cuz they taste like you." C+
Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited (2014, Masterworks): Cash's 1964 Indian-themed album Bitter Tears without the magic voice but plenty of sincerity, performed by "various artists" -- long on David Rawlings, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris, but highlighted by a very ragged Kris Kristofferson ("The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and Steve Earle ("Custer"). B+(**)
Jan Lundgren: All By Myself (2014, Fresh Sound): Swedish pianist, has close to forty albums since the early 1990s. This, per the title, is solo, fourteen standards, pretty straight but beautifully done. Won Jazz Journal's critics poll, beating out Paul Bley. B+(**)
Magnolia Acoustic Quartet: Cinderella (2012 , Fortune): Second group album. Pianist Kuba Sokolowski wrote all the tunes (referring to Yoko Ono on one), so figure him the leader, with Szyman Nidzworski on tenor and soprano sax, Mateusz Dobosz on bass, and Patryk Dobosz on drums. B+(**) [cd]
Microwaves: Regurgitant Phenomena (2014, New Atlantis): Noise rock/postpunk group from Pittsburgh, put this one out on vinyl so the 29:35 run time doesn't seem so EP-ish, especially with 11 cuts (two over 6 minutes, the rest much less). Vocals buried so deep I'm tempted to take this as instrumental. B
Migos: Rich Ni**a Timeline (2014, Quality Control Music): Atlanta hip-hop trio, with an 80-minute mixtape, the three voices rotating in but mostly repeating each other. All covers I've seen show asterisks. The audio is not quite so circumspect. B+(*)
Mindtroll: EP #4 (2014, self-released): Brooklyn band, popped up on top of a friendly P&J ballot unnoticed by anyone else. Three women and a guy who plays bass and sings backup, sounds much like but a little odder than the early B-52s. Four short songs, 8:36, three superb, the fourth ends with three question marks. Three previous EPs, plus a 24-cut album in 2013 with most songs well under two minutes. B+(***) [bc]
Mindtroll: And That's Just Some of the Good Ones (2013, self-released): Twenty-four tracks, including three of the songs on EP #4 (times shorter on EP), ten under two minutes but they still add up to 53:11. Greatest fear with this band is that their sketchy, disjointed punk rants will prove tedious in the end -- they do, but every now and when a song (like "I'm in the CIA") comes along to reset your attention. B+(**) [bc]
Myrczek & Tomaszewski: Love Revisited (2013 , Fortune): That would be singer Wojciech Myrczek and pianist Pawel Tomaszewski. Most songs are all vintage American standards, sung in English in classic crooner style -- "Freedom Jazz Dance" and "All Blues" are exception (that prove they should follow the rule, not that you can really ever convince a jazz singer not show off the scat). B+(*) [cd]
Tami Neilson: Dynamite! (2014, self-released): Country singer from New Zealand, has a couple previous records I should check out. Ten songs, short at 29:02, but they cover quite a range -- honky tonk, rockabilly, folkie duet, a paean to Texas, the title cut beyond category. A- [bc]
Stevie Nicks: 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault (2014, Reprise): The vault songs date from 1969-95 demos, but the recordings are reportedly new, and I'm not enough of a fan to tell you whether the songs are familiar or obscure. B+(*)
Charlie Parr: Hollandale (2014, Chaperone): Guitarist, based in Duluth MN; has a pile of records since 2003. No vocals (at least not here), looks like Alan Sparhawk is also credited with guitar. Only five tracks, but runs 42:08, deeply resonant. B+(*)
PC Worship: Social Rust (2014, Northern Spy): Some kind of postrock band -- i.e., one that's exhausted its interest in the form but can't conceived of doing something else, possibly because they've fried their ears and couldn't hear themselves otherwise. B-
Perfect Pussy: Say Yes to Love (2014, Captured Tracks): Noise band from Syracuse, originally assembled to play a band in a movie. Meredith Graves is the singer. Not what one would call musical, but that would be a different concept. B-
Lee Scratch Perry: Back on the Controls (2011-13 , Upsetter Music, 2CD): Those peculiarly complex devices on the cover are vacuum tubes, state-of-the-art in the 1950s but largely obsolete during the reggae producer's 1970s heyday, except in technological backwaters (which could include Jamaica). Presumably they signal his intent to go back to that vintage period, although time and age can't deal him the same hand. The result is heavy on the dub, and I mean real heavy, but he keeps it up for 92 minutes -- old groove with new layers of murk, the effect positively postmodern. A-
Adam Pieronczyk Quartet: El Buscador (2008 , Jazzwerkstatt): Polish saxophonist, tenor primarily (although he plays some soprano here and alto elsewhere), has a substantial discography since 1995. Quartet pairs him with trombonist Adrian Mears, backed by bassist Anthony Cox (named "special guest" on the cover), and drummer Krzysztof Dziedzic, who contributes a nice Latin accent. B+(***)
Adam Pieronczyk Quartet: A-Trane Nights (2008-09 , Fortune): Same group as on El Buscador, with bassist Anthony Cox evidently a regular. Drummer Dziedzic maintains his Latin tinge, and trombonist Mears takes more leads than the leader -- he's clearly on a roll here. Main gripe is that the documentation shows two discs but the promo only includes "cd 1." B+(***) [cdr]
Adam Pieronczyk: The Planet of Eternal Life (2013 , Jazzwerkstatt): Solo sax, soprano this time, easy enough on the ears especially when played this methodically. B+(**)
Pinch & Mumdance: Pinch B2B Mumdance (2014, Tectonic): Two British dubstep/grime producers, Robert Ellis and Jack Adams, both with a history of duoing with others, push these beats deep enough under a shroud of mystery they might mean something. B+(***)
Ariel Pink: Pom Pom (2014, 4AD): Disposed of his Haunted Graffiti band moniker, his lo-fi eclecticism turns out a fantastic range of upbeat kitsch, not without a shred of humor, but so stale it begs the question: why would anyone want to subject themselves to this? [PS: First record this year I failed to finish.] C-
PRhyme: PRhyme (2014, Universal Music): Pronounced "prime": rapper Royce da 5'9", turntablist DJ Premier. the latter's beats razor sharp and squeaks dazzling, but as for Royce, admittedly he's an "aquired taste" -- "so acquire some taste," he advises, but you may just as well have to lose some. I couldn't help but notice that the first song was one of the most misogynist bitch rants I've heard in rap. Then there's money-grubbing and the don't-give-a-fuck ethos. Still, I can hear why this was HDX's record of the year, but I can also understand why no one else noticed. B+(**)
Protomartyr: Under Color of Official Right (2014, Hardly Art): Detroit post-punk quartet, roughly similar to the Fall in terms of their melodic grind, although singer Joe Casey doesn't quite have Mark Smith's accent, or class analysis. B+(**)
Eric Reed: Groovewise (2014, Smoke Sessions): Pianist, been on a Monk kick recently but wrote 8 (of 10) songs here, covering Clifford Jordan and Christian McBride. Quartet, with Seamus Blake on tenor sax, Ben Williams on bass, and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. Especially strong outing for Blake. B+(***)
Porter Robinson: Worlds (2014, Astralwerks): Young EDM producer from North Carolina, barely in his 20 but his songs have a gawky juvenile aspect, cartoonish, maybe bubble gum. I found this annoying at first, then it started to sneak up on me. B
Royal Blood: Royal Blood (2014, Warner Brothers): Brighton (UK) duo, drummer Ben Thatcher and bassist-singer Mike Kerr, first album, play blues-based hard rock, crunching chords, basically very ordinary -- beats outsmarting themselves. B
Ruby: Waiting for Light (2014, Fireweed): Brit singer-songwriter Lesley Rankine, started in punk band Silverfish, released an album as Ruby in 1995, another in 2000, now this one. At first encounter what you'd call eclectic, although several songs ("Last Life," "Note to Self," "Barricades") are striking. B+(**)
SBTRKT: Wonder Where We Land (2014, Young Turks): Second album for British dubstep producer Aaron Jerome, much less fun than the first. B
Schizophonia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined (2014, Blue Thread Music): Guitarist Yossi Fruchter (Pitom, Zion80) put this group together, with Brian Marsella on keyboards and Shanir Blumenkranz on bass. The idea is to take old cantorial music -- something I'm not much familiar with -- and recast it as modern day rock. Not sure that it really works on either count, although the guitarist's chops leave a strong impression. B+(*) [cd]
John Schooley: The Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World (2014, Voodoo Rhythm): Artist's biography is notably "shrouded in half-truths and outright falsehood," no doubt including the ancient provenance of these recordings, which take old folk tunes -- the title tune comes from Charlie Poole -- and bury them in guitar reverb, crashing percussion, and more than a little Metal Machine Music. It's a concept, possibly brilliant, certainly wearing. B+(**)
Reg Schwager: Delphinus (2014, Jazz From Rant): Canadian guitarist, leads a quartet with piano (Don Thompson), bass (Neil Swainson), and drums (Michel Lambert). Easy going, richly melodic, not really too lush, but pointed that direction. B+(**) [cd]
Jacques Schwarz-Bart: Jazz Racine Haïti (2012 , Motema Music): Tenor saxophonist, born in Guadeloupe but connected to Haiti, put this project together to go with a documentary film, featuring several singers (most notably Erol Josué), with Etienne Charles on trumpet and several percussionists. The vocals add solemn weight, but that's not exactly a plus. What is is the sparkling horn interplay. B+(*)
Brian Settles Trio: Folk (2013, Engine Studios): Tenor saxophonist, based in DC, leads trio, free but poised, with bass (Corcoran Holt) and drums (Jeremy Carlstedt). A- [bc]
Linda Sharrock: No Is No: Don't Fuck Around With Your Women (2014, Improvising Beings, 2CD): Born Linda Chambers, 1947, sang in church and gravitated toward avant jazz in the 1960s, marrying guitarist Sonny Sharrock in 1966, singing notably on the 1969 album Black Woman and their jointly credited 1975 album Paradise. She divorced him in 1978 and he died in 1994. She has recorded occasionally on her own since 1991, so her return here is a pleasant surprise. The band -- Itaru Oki (trumpet), Mario Rechtern (reeds), Eric Zinman (piano), Makoto Sato (bass), Yoram Rosilio (drums) -- offers a spirited reminder of the avant '60s. The vocals are less clear and coherent, but the title has a point. B+(***) [cd]
Sonny Simmons & Moksha Samnyasin: Nomadic (2011 , Svart): Remarkably active in his 80s, the alto saxophonist meets a French sitar-bass-drums trio here. They provide him with a bit of rhythmic exotica, and he turns it soulful and daring. B+(***)
Skyzoo & Torae: The Barrel Brothers (2014, E1/Empire): Rap duo, both principals have albums on their own or with others. Solid album by any count. B+(**)
Sly & Robbie: Dubrising (2014, Taxi): Bassist Sly Dunbar and drummer Robbie Shakespeare, the rhythm section behind a who's who of reggae stars in the 1970s and 1980s with dozens of their own albums from Present Taxi in 1981 on, passing through dub and dancehall along the way. I count this as their 16th album with "dub" in the title. Sorry to say, this is the first I've heard, but I can't imagine it's not one of the best. A-
Sly & Robbie: Underwater Dub (2014, Groove Attack): The duo's other dub album this year, came out earlier, is much more basic, just repetitive beats with occasional accents and echoes; in the right hands, one hardly needs more. B+(***)
Emilio Solla y La Inestable de Brooklyn: Second Half (2013 , self-released): Pianist from Argentina, took me longer than it should have to locate this within nuevo tango -- Victor Prieto's accordion should have been the giveaway. The horn section is Brooklyn: Alex Norris (trumpet), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Tim Armacost and John Ellis (reeds), and Meg Okura's violin complements the accordion. B+(**) [cd]
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Half the City (2014, Single Lock): Classic sounding soul group, based in Alabama, led by singer Paul Janeway, who does a pretty impressive Otis Redding voice and reportedly has James Brown stage moves. Band's gimmick: they're white. That may have been worth a million bucks in Sam Phillips' day, but it's depreciated since then. (Hasn't it?) B+(*)
Sylvan Esso: Sylvan Esso (2014, Partisan): First album from North Carolina duo: singer Amelia Meath and electronica producer Nick Sanborn. Both have country-ish backgrounds but scant evidence of that here. They come closer to trip hop, but don't seem to sense they are doomed. B+(*)
Throttle Elevator Music: Area J (2013 , Wide Hive): I'd rather call this "garage jazz" than fusion or even "postpunk jazz." Second group album. Gregory Howe is credited with "concept" and most of the songs, while Matt Montgomery plays bass-guitar-keybs and Mike Hughes drums, support for saxophonist Kamasi Washington to blow free and wild. B+(**)
Tom Trio: Radical Moves (2013 , Fortune): Trumpet player Tomasz Dabrowski, a name I've run across before, backed with bass (Nils Bo Davidsen) and drums (Anders Mogensen). B+(***) [cd]
Trzy Dni Pozniej: Pokoj Jej Cieniom (2014, Fortune): A vocal trio backed by viola and electronics, all songs written and arranged by Joanna Piwowar-Antosiewicz, her voice supplemented by Marta Groffik-Perchel and Marta Piwowar. Not quite all in Polish (I presume), hints at classical choral music but doesn't trip my usual alarms on that score. B+(**) [cd]
François Tusques/Mirtha Pozzi/Pablo Cueco: Le Fond de L'Air (2014, Improvising Beings): Piano trio (of sorts): no bass but Tusques plays piano and the others percussion. Or I suppose you could call it a percussion trio. B+(***) [cd]
François Tusques/François Toullec/Eric Zinman: Laiser L'Exprit Divaguer (2014, Improvising Beings, 2CD): Two discs of piano duets, both featuring Tusques, the first with Toullec, the second with Zinman. The former is more challenging. The latter latter flows easily in eight numbered but unnamed pieces. B+(**) [cd]
Viet Cong: Cassette (2014, Mexican Summer): Seven songs, 31:29, not sure I'd call that an EP. Alt/indie group from Calgary, remind me a tiny bit of Gang of Four (to cite another name from behind the Bamboo Curtain), but not a comparison they're ready for. B
Mirel Wagner: When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day (2014, Sub Pop): Born in Ethiopia, was adopted as a baby and raised in Finland. Sings in English, voice reminds me a bit of Nina Simone, treading slow over bare guitar; not much, but calm, assured, striking. B+(**)
Kelsey Waldon: The Gold Mine (2014, self-released): Singer-songwriter from Kentucky, cotton country rather than coal (let alone bluegrass), though she grew up with enough sense of class that the longest review I've found was on the World Socialist Web Site. Even without that she could probably get by on voice. A-
Scott Walker + Sunn O))): Soused (2014, 4AD): Wikipedia reports that the band, named after an amplifier logo -- the parens represent sound waves -- has reportedly been synthesizing "drone, ambient, noise, extreme metal" for 15 years now. Unfair to judge from this, where they take a back seat to one of the world's most insufferable vocalists. The combination would be funny if only it were. C
Warpaint: Warpaint (2014, Rough Trade): LA indie band, Emily Kokal is the main singer. Slow and moody, functions as dream pop. B
Watsky: All You Can Do (2014, Steel Wool Media/Welk Music Group): Real last name, dropped George. Started in poetry slams, spoken word, although this has a nice musical flair -- especially on "The One," his piece on the problems of dating (something he doesn't seem to do much). Sample line: "my dick is pretty lonely/but my nuts still got each other." B+(**)
Bob Wayne: Back to the Camper (2014, self-released): This is the real outlaw country, not just the attitude to "do everything I can until I die," but full of tales of crime that give me the willies. Too much heaven and (especially) hell, but he offers a disclaimer -- "not every song is true" -- in a name-dropping song worthy of certified outlaw David Allen Coe. And he does a Marty Robbins thing that goes way beyond the model. A-
Anna Webber's Percussive Mechanics: Refraction (2014, Pirouet): Flute/saxophone player, promotes her 2013 album title to group name, a septet with clarinet, vibes or marimba, piano, bass, two drummers. Most interesting when the rhythm breaks up, especially when the sax comes out. B+(*)
Whiskey Myers: Early Morning Shakes (2014, Wiggy Thump): Southern rock band, hails from Tyler TX to be more precise. Template is supposed to be Lynyrd Skynyrd, but reminds me more of Black Oak Arkansas -- although hippy raunch is harder to pull off when reality impinges and so many have trouble making ends meet. B+(*)
White Lung: Deep Fantasy (2014, Domino): Postpunk/riot grrrl band from Vancouver BC, fronted by blonde singer Mish May. Ten songs, so short (22:05) this could be sloughed off as an EP. On the other hand, they're so packed they don't feel short -- just fast. B+(**)
Betty Who: Take Me When You Go (2014, RCA): Pop singer, Jessica Newham, from Australia, first album after a couple EPs; cites Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus as "influences," and hits that level often enough, but has more trouble with the ballad. B+(*)
Don Williams: Reflections (2014, Sugar Hill): I wouldn't call him a major country singer, but his easy-going style has been so consistent for so long, he's produced enough to make a near-essential compilation -- e.g., 2004's The Definitive Collection. Retired in 2004, but he returned in 2012 on Sugar Hill -- a fine retirement home, free from the Nashville grind and satisfied to keep the old time music flowing. Nothing to do here but pick ten songs and play them. Nothing he can't make look easy. B+(**)
Hank Williams III: Ramblin' Man (1999-2010 , Curb, EP): Third Hank III album Curb has released since Williams' contract ran out in 2010, so these are leftovers, capped at seven tracks (26:14), probably the bottom of the barrel. His voice bears uncanny resemblance to his grandfather's but if anything has grown richer and more nuanced. Still, it's wasted on "Okie From Muskogee," and slightly perverse on his metal numbers. B+(*)
A Winged Victory for the Sullen: Atomos (2014, Kranky): Ambient music duo Duston O'Halloran and Adam Wiitzie, second album together, appealing and unthreatening. B+(**)
Ksawery Wojcinski: The Soul (2013 , Fortune): Polish bassist, also credited here with piano, guitar, percussion, and vocals -- i.e., everything. That helps explain why the album shifts feel so often, although the thick, dark bass leads seem most fundamental. Ends on a gorgeous note with a short gospel chorus of "Hold On Just a Little While Longer." B+(***) [cd]
Matt Woods: With Love From Brushy Mountain (2014, Lonely Ones): Country singer, based in Knoxville -- I guess that doesn't even qualify as Nashville's low-rent district, but it's also a statement: "I'm drunk on the wrong side of heaven/in a town gone straight to hell." I could do with less anguish here, but he's got a voice and observant songs. "I've seen some things/but my favorite thing is looking in your eyes." B+(***)
Waclaw Zimpel To Tu Orchestra: Nature Moves (2014, Fortune): Clarinetist, b. 1983, one of the more recognizable names in Polish jazz due to his frequent collaborations with Vandermark's circle. Nine-piece group, doubling up on bass and drums. The 28:44 opener, "Cycles," stretches a repeating piano figure into something hipnotically sublime, and the title suite adds new wrinkles to the formula. And when free jazz breaks out, Zimpel ties that energy into yet another pattern, raising his whole game to another level. A- [cd]
Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sound of Luanda 1968-1976 (1968-76 , Analog Africa): Southwest of Congo, a Portuguese colony until 1975, drained since the 16th century to the 1860s for the slave trade with Brazil, and from 1975-2002 battered by an intense civil war. Mostly pre-independence, these groove pieces are unique only in that they seem a bit washed out compared to the dominant Congo influence. B+(**)
Angola Soundtrack 2: Hypnosis, Distorsions & Other Sonic Innovations 1969-1978 (1969-78 , Analog Africa): Time frame advances but still overlaps with first volume but most likely most cuts are still pre-independence. Still, they're getting jumpier -- especially "Bazooka," by Carlo Lamartine & Águias Reals. CD comes with a 42-page booklet, so you're bound to learn something. B+(***)
Arkansas at 78 RPM: Corn Dodgers & Hoss Hair Pullers (1928-37 , Dust-to-Digital): "For the traveling recording men of the late 1920s, Arkansas offered enticing pickings." Twenty-six cuts, from as many string bands and singers, none I've ever heard of, although a few stand out above the hillbilly norm, and that scratch groove feels like roots to me. A-
Keb Darge & Little Edith's Legendary Wild Rockers 3 (1957-66 , BBE): Looking for last year's surf-oriented volume 4, I stumbled into this mostly-rockabilly comp and decided to hear it through. Mostly late-1950s, the post-1960 titles drifting surfward -- cf. the Shindigs' "Thunder Reef" and the Rebel Rousers' "The Peter Gunn Twist." Biggest name: Johnny Powers, fronting a band with Stan Getz. Pick hit: "Crawlin' (the Crawl)," by Untouchables. B+(***)
Keb Darge & Little Edith's Legendary Wild Rockers (1958-64 , BBE): Only two of four volumes in this series are on Rhapsody (2 and 4 are missing). Darge is a Scottish DJ who's assembled some two dozen compilation albums (Legendary Deep Funk and Real Funk for Real People are other series). As for Little Edith, I have no idea. Obscure singles, mostly 1958-60, not exactly rockabilly but spare and wild, often with a novelty angle -- "King Kong," "Oongawa," "The Goo Goo Muck," like that. B+(**)
I'm Just Like You: Sly's Stone Flower 1969-70 (1969-70 , Light in the Attic): Eighteen songs produced by Sly Stone as part of a record deal he got at the height of Sly & the Family Stone's popularity: artist credits are Little Sister (5), 6ix (6), Sly (4), Joe Hicks (3). All sound like loose knock-offs, so no hits but an uncommonly tight collection of little known funk. B+(***)
Chubby Jackson Big Band: New York City 1949: Ooh, What an Outfit! (1949 , Uptown, 2CD): Bassist, came up in big swing bands, notably Woody Herman's first and second herds, leading a 16-piece group at the Royal Roost, plus various odds and ends to fill up the second disc -- including a Gene Roland group where the saxophonists were named Cohn, Getz, Sims, and Mulligan, and a smaller Jackson group with Lou Levy, Terry Gibbs, and Conte Candoli. On their own, the bands play a breakneck swing-bop hybrid, each faster than the other. But there are lots of interruptions -- singers, Symphony Sid, stage patter, some interview -- not all unwelcome. B+(***)
Bill Jennings: Architect of Soul Jazz: The Complete Early Recordings 1951-1957 (1951-57 , Fresh Sound, 2CD): Guitarist, played with Louis Jordan in the 1940s, later cut soul jazz albums for Prestige (two wound up in one of those Legends of Acid Jazz comps). The completism gives you a mixed bag, with some honking sax (Leo Parker, Willis Jackson), pumping organ (Bill Doggett), scattered vocals (some by Jennings), but also duets with vibes that remain interesting despite their sparseness. B+(**)
Les Ambassadeurs: Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako (1975-77 , Sterns Africa, 2CD): Malian prince-turned griot Salif Keita's old group from its early days in Mali's capital city: Keita sings on the first disc and one song into the second, after which they used several singers. Later in 1977 the group moved to Abidjan and renamed themselves Les Ambassadeurs Internationales. A-
Native North America, Vol. 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 (1966-85 , Light in the Attic, 2CD): Interesting concept, although I suspect this will rise or fall on whether the booklet makes you care. Otherwise, these Native Americans from the northern half of North America sound much like the ubiquitous non-natives all around them, shading from folk to country to rock without any hint of "old west" soundtrack. B+(*)
The Sound of Siam Volume 2: Molam and Luk Thung From Northeast Thailand 1970-1982 (1970-82 , Soundway): Volume 1's subtitle referred to "Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz and Molam," so the shift here seems to be to something a bit more mainstream, or a bit less strange to western ears. In that I guess they've succeeded. B+(*)
Sun Ra and His Blue Universe Arkestra: Universe in Blue (1971-72 , El Saturn): "When the Black Man Ruled This Land" is worth hearing, fodder for some Black Power-era mixtape. But the two long pieces up front show little more than what can go wrong when you live on the edge -- damn near everything. (Then they're great on the closer.) C+
Junior Wells: Southside Blues Jam (1969-70 , Delmark): Guitarist Buddy Guy and pianist Otis Spann get small print on the cover, fully earned, with Earnest Johnson on bass and Fred Below on drums. Classic Chicago blues, stretched out a bit but even the restored closer only runs 7:14. B+(***)
Wilco: What's Your 20? Essential Tracks 1994-2014 (1994-2014 , Nonesuch, 2CD): One of the most eminent alt/indie rock groups of the last two decades, with eight studio albums, all but the debut selling 200,000 or more. I've graded six of those -- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at A-, all but one of the rest B+ -- so I'm a bit surprised I don't recognize any of these 38 plainly tuneful tracks. With one pass, I hardly know them any better now, but they're so pleasant and satisfying, as consistent as these things get. A-
X__X: X Sticky Fingers X (1978-80 , Smog Veil): Punk band from Cleveland, also known as "X Blank X," released two singles during their short lifespan. Leader was John Morton, ex- and future-leader of the somewhat better known Electric Eels, although drummer Anton Fier would eventually become more famous. The singles were "No Non ¢s" (get it?) and "Your Full of Shit" -- neither all that memorable -- and the compilers are hard-pressed to stretch them out to 16 cuts. Still sounds better than you have any right to expect. B+(**)
Elvin Bishop: Raisin' Hell: Live! (1976 , Capricorn): Live double LP culled from several shows back in Bishop's heyday, has his big hit ("Fooled Around and Fell in Love," sung by Mickey Thomas), his greatest blues romps, a cover of "Calling All Cows" and a Sam Cooke medley, backed by blaring horns. It's a cultural event, but that don't mean no one gets rowdy. A-
The Kinks: Face to Face (1966 , Sanctuary): Fourth UK album, following transitional singles "A Well Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" into a second stage in the group's sound -- more wryly English even if the label tried to paint them psychedelic. Amid fluff like the amusing "Holiday in Waikiki" only one song feels fully developed: "Sunny Afternoon." The reissue adds more substantial fare like "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" and "Dead End Street." B+(**)
The Kinks: Something Else by the Kinks (1967 , Sanctuary): The year the big British Invasions bands made their plunge into psychedelia, Ray Davies kept pace, although he preferred the shallower end of the pool, quainter, less risk, you know. B+(**)
The Kinks: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968, Sanctuary): An arty song cycle about the band's modest petit bourgeois ambitions, to protect and defend a culture most artists would rather subvert. Only the title song is catchy enough to make light of such homilies, although the filler holds up better than most. B+(***)
The Kinks: Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970 , Sanctuary): "Get Back in Line" is so misguided I'd suspect irony but Davies tends to get cutesy when ironic, which is what makes the two singles -- "Lola" and "Apeman" -- so winning. Ends with a typically smug paean to libertarianism. And wouldn't you know, there is no Part Two. B
Tami Neilson: Red Dirt Angel (2008, self-released): First album for New Zealand's country princess. I don't see any credits, but don't recognize any covers either. Some of the album gets the big Nashville-style production, while a couple songs are tossed offhand -- "Missin' the Groom" is the funniest. And some aspiring Nashville star should look up "Same Old Devil." B+(**) [bc]
Raiders of the Lost Dub (1981, Mango): Produced by Sly & Robbie and sometimes filed (e.g., by Rhapsody) under their names. The other candidate would be Black Uhuru, with 4 (of 10) songs, vs. one each for Burning Spear, Junior Delgado, Ijahman, Wailing Souls, the Paragons, and the Viceroys, although the common rhythm section and the dub effects tie the loose ends together. B+(**)
Brian Settles and Central Station: Secret Handshake (2010 , Engine Studios): Debut album, the tenor saxophonist leading a quintet but still the only horn -- the others play piano, bass, drums, and extra percussion. The latter is most distinctive, but the saxophone is most impressive. B+(**) [bc]
Monday, January 19. 2015
Music: Current count 24392  rated (+45), 493  unrated (-10).
I thought I'd wrap up 2014 last week, freezing my year-end list and shelving my EOY aggregate, so I made a serious effort to cram in as much last-minute listening as possible. My freeze dates have typically fallen mid-to-late January (25th in 2009, 24th in 2010, 18th in 2011; 2012 was anomalous with January 1, and last year was January 9). I often wait for Pazz & Jop to post (usually later than this year's January 14). I have added the albums data to my file, and a couple dozen individual ballots. The main external event I'm waiting for now is Christgau's Dean's List: he's always based his annual summary on P&J data, and D'Angelo's surprise win -- which, by the way, he predicted several weeks ago -- gives him all the more to write about. (Also, his hiatus from posting CG reviews means he's likely to have more unreviewed records than usual on his list, and he often comes up with stuff no one else notices.)
I wound up posting the previous paragraph as a stub on my usual Monday. Two days later all I'm wrapping up is this post. If you follow my Twitter feed, you've already seen most of what follows. The 2015 records are all things I've picked up in the mail, played when I feel like listening to something that doesn't tie me down to the computer. (Although I'll note that the Red Garland set already picked up a vote in the 2014 Jazz Critics Poll -- someone got excited and jumped the gun. It and the Charles McPherson records are my first A-list finds of 2015.) I haven't checked out any 2015 releases on Rhapsody yet -- not even the Sleater-Kinney album that friends say is so good it might even overcome my usual objections.
Last two days I've still been adding to the EOY Aggregate. I have a checklist mostly derived from this link list and I'm somewhere in the R's, occasionally still picking up things of interest (e.g., the list from Potholes in My Blog). I also took the trouble of constructing a composite list from the individual staff top-tens at Reverb. I factored in a number of genre lists from Rolling Stone and Spin, and wrote quite a bit about them -- some last post and more I didn't bother posting but kept in the notebook. This will come to an end soon, but not quite yet.
Plan is still to freeze the year-end lists when I run Rhapsody Streamnotes, most likely later this week. I'd like to end the EOY Aggregate at the same time, but I do want to include Christgau's Dean's List whenever that finally appears. Last thing I'll probably do is factor in my own A-list: I haven't done that yet because it's always changing and the Aggregate is basically a record of what other people think, but I'd like to recognize a few albums that no one else has noticed, and I suppose I do count for something. (By the way, Milo Miles's late lists added a couple of those: e.g., Free Nelson Mandoomjazz and Duduvudo.)
By the way, the Aggregate remains very close and rather volatile. You may recall that War on Drugs jumped to an early lead, then lost it to FKA Twigs. Then a couple weeks ago, War on Drugs recovered the lead, only to lose it this week to Run the Jewels 2. Currently the top three points are 308-304-298, so they could well flip again. Fourth is St. Vincent at 279. Caribou is still in fifth at 200, but Flying Lotus has narrowed the gap at 196, Aphex Twin at 191, then a tie between Sun Kil Moon and Swans at 184. Swans had been in 6th recently, so I'm a bit surprised (and pleased) to see it slip. Also, Beck has slipped out of his longstanding hold on 10th place: at 163, now tied with Angel Olsen and trailing Sharon Van Etten. Taylor Swift continues to gain (now 18th), also Sturgill Simpson (22nd), Parquet Courts (26th), Azealia Banks (27th), Miranda Lambert (28th), and most of all, P&J winner D'Angelo (30th). I've never consciously played favorites here, but find it rather satisfying how neatly the standings are working out. Currently up to 487 lists with 4285 new records and 637 reissues/archives.
By the way, I haven't talked much about the reissues list, mostly because the actual sample size hasn't been very high. The leader right now has accumulated a mere 23 points -- just enough to tie Lily Allen, Mica Levi, The Juan MacLean, Pharmakon, Thee Silver Memorial Orchestra, Mark Turner, and The Twilight Sad for 163rd on the new list. I would have picked Bob Dylan's The Basement Tapes Complete as a priori favorite, and it has a fairly solid lead (23-17) right now over John Coltrane's Offering: Live at Temple University. Beyond that some surprises (Native North America) and somethings that might have been expected (the latest Miles Davis bootleg). Also three Led Zeppelin "deluxe editions" in the top-20, but that was mostly due to the practice of counting each record when listmakers came up with entries like "Led Zeppelin reissues."
I'll also note that among jazz records, Wadada Leo Smith's The Great Lakes Suites has pulled rather clearly ahead of Steve Lehman's Mise En Abime, 34-28 (111th to 138th). I'd say that the Jazz Critics Poll's results are more representative of jazz critical opinion, and Lehman beat Smith in a close race there. Third in the EOY aggregate is Mark Turner's Lathe of Heaven, which was the highest placing jazz album in Pazz & Jop this year, then fourth is Ambrose Akinmusire (second in P&J, followed by Lehman, Marc Ribot, and Bad Plus -- the latter 7th and 6th in my Aggregate).
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old records rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
Saturday, January 17. 2015
Bits are cheap, so some folks at Rolling Stone scratched their heads and came up with a list, 40 Best Country Albums of 2014. It's one of those things you have to click through one album per page (and of course, the pages don't fit within a browser window so you have to scroll too). I did all that work as part of folding the data into my EOY Aggregate, but having written down the list, I thought I'd just save you the trouble and post it. (Of course, if you do click through you'll get the album covers and some reviews.) It's a decent list as these things go: I counted similar country lists from All Music Guide, Billboard, Baltimore City Paper, Exclaim, Huffpost Music Canada, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, PopMatters, Rhapsody, Something Else, The Telegraph, The Village Voice, and Wondering Sound. I think it's the deepest such list (Telegraph went to 37, and AMG is close to that) -- deeper even than the specialists. And quite properly it includes what's commonly called Americana, which is to say rock with a little country (or blues) seasoning as well as some more folkish sorts.
For a little added value, I'll include my grades in brackets (where I have them, 60% of the time; stars are shades of B+):
Only record on the list I was serviced was Dolly Parton's -- not likely to happen again. Only one I bought was Miranda Lambert's, so everything else came my way via Rhapsody (or didn't, for Williams, McKenna, Brooks, Doug Paisley, Country Funk II, and several others I looked up. Some I didn't look up -- never before heard of Sundy Best, hadn't registered much about Niemann or Brice, and I've heard way too much Lady Antebellum already.
I didn't exactly grow up with country music, but I grew up close enough I could relate. My folks watched a lot of Hee-Haw, and somehow I watched a lot of Porter Wagoner. My mother was a devoted fan of George Jones; my father was more into comics like Jimmy Dickens and Minnie Pearl. So when peers like Harold Karabell and George Lipsitz tried to steer me toward Gram Parsons and Merle Haggard, my resistance melted pretty quickly. George Jones even helped repair my schizophrenic relationship with my mother. In the 1990s I made a serious effort to catch up with every major figure in jazz, blues, and country. While that led to my Jazz Consumer Guide gig, there was also a brief period when I was getting 20-40 alt-country releases a year, and I'd usually find 3-5 very good records hardly anyone else noticed. That doesn't happen any more, but the experience gives me some hints to work from.
Not sure how many country-folk-bluegrass-Americana records I heard last year -- probably close to 100. Enough to put together, well, not a top-40 list, but maybe a top 30 (dipping down into the high HMs, which if country is your thing isn't a bad idea). A first pass on such a list looks like this:
Scheinman may not be country enough for you, but that's where the social realism fits: the genre-cross -- she is one of the world's greatest jazz violinists -- seems to have thrown everyone. Langford, Hiatt, Tolchin, the Delines, and possibly others tend to be treated as alt-rock but they're close to the fuzzy line. My original sort also picked up The Baseball Project, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, and Hard Working Americans, but to get down to 30 I decided they were outside the lines. Common Ground is explicitly a blues album, but you tell me the difference. In previous years I've tried explicitly grouping blues and and gospel with the country albums: had I done that here, you'd pick up: Scratchin': The Wild Jimmy Spruill Story (1956-63); Leo Welch, Sabougla Voices; Bushwick Gospel Singers, Songs of Worship Vol. 2; Benjamin Booker; Sleepy John Estes, Live in Japan (1974); Danny Petroni, The Blue Project; John Nemeth, Memphis Grease.
I also have 2-star HMs for (including blues): Elvin Bishop, Can't Even Do Wrong Right; Carlene Carter, Carter Girl; Rosanne Cash, The River & the Thread; Davina & the Vagabonds, Sunshine; Brigitte DeMeyer, Savannah Road; Justin Townes Earle, Single Mothers; Hurray for the Riff Raff, Small Town Heroes; EG Kight, A New Day; Link of Chain: A Songwriters' Tribute to Chris Smither; Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else; Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy; John Schooley, The Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World; Peter Stampfel, Better Than Expected; Randy Travis: Influence Vol. 2: The Man I Am; Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited. At this level I'm not doing much more than random sampling.
Next stop, perhaps, Rolling Stone's 40 Best Rap Albums of 2014. Probably about as solid. Much more problematic is likely to be RS's 20 Best Avant Albums of 2014, but then one person's avant is another's breakfast gruel.
Monday, January 12. 2015
Music: Current count 24347  rated (+61), 503  unrated (-2).
It's been cold outside, and I've done very little but cram new lists into the EOY Aggregate File and listen to marginal list picks -- some well-regarded (and often awful), some quite rare (and occasionally wonderful). And this time they've really piled up: the 61 in the count above includes a couple corrections for bookkeeping omissions, but there are still 58 records listed below -- eight per day on average, with all the A- records getting at least two spins (although few of the ***-HMs got a shot to improve their lot -- the best prospects are Karen Jonas, Tom Trio, Matt Woods, and Wild Rockers 3). I will admit I saved a few minutes by hitting the reject on Ariel Pink -- graded it leniently as a hedge against missing something, although I hope you don't bother to call me on it. I did make it all the way through Scott Walker but playing them back-to-back was a big mistake. For the record, both are tours de force, conceptually brilliant and catchy in perverse ways -- I can see why some people love them, or at least find them amusing, but they perturb the universe in ways I find appalling. Not a lot of jazz in the list below, although I'm most of the way through the Polish Fortune (or ForTune or For Tune) albums -- surprisingly diverse for a label I had pegged as strictly avant.
The Kinks was a diversion. Their albums are gradually coming out in bonus editions, and I had written up the first three a while back. I was looking for a new 2-CD compilation on Legacy, but found a 5-CD box and a 1-CD best-of instead, and didn't really feel like bothering with either, but I found five more 1966-71 albums -- four I could swear I once had on LP but only Muswell Hillbillies had been recorded in the database (B+). For some reason, Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the English Empire) (1969) isn't available (and it looks like only about half of it is on the 5-CD box). I lost interest in the group shortly after Kink Kronikles (1972), with only Everybody's in Showbiz (1972: B) and Low Budget (1979: B+) in the database.
The EOY lists are still a work in progress, but one that should come to an end soon -- I'll add in Pazz & Jop when it appears later this week, Christgau's Dean's List whenever that appears, and maybe I'll drop in my own list (just to give Lily Allen a boost). Usually at this point the top ranks are stabilizing, even spreading out a bit, but a funny thing happened when I sorted the list a few days ago: War on Drugs (the early leader) edged back ahead of FKA Twigs for the top spot (the current margin is 272-268, with Run the Jewels a close third with 260, St. Vincent a solid fourth with 246). The other thing that's happened is that after Caribou, the 6-9 slots have tightened up and are pretty much dead even at 170-169-167-167 for Sun Kil Moon, Swans, Flying Lotus, and Aphex Twin. Beck is well back with 148 for 10th, and the next dozen or so albums have been pretty stable even though the deltas are pretty tight: 145 (Sharon Van Etten), 142 (Angel Olsen), 139 (Spoon), 130 (Future Islands), 125 (Todd Terje), 123 (Damon Albarn), 120 (Mac DeMarco), 116 (Perfume Genius), 109 (Taylor Swift), 103 (Lana Del Rey), 102 (Ty Segall), 97 (Jack White), 93 (Freddie Gibbs/Madlib). The only order change there was Del Rey passing Segall. Below that the list is a bit more dynamic, with a three-way tie at 88 between Parquet Courts, Real Estate, and Sturgill Simpson. Further down at 68, D'Angelo is still rising, most recently passing Scott Walker and Ariel Pink (two of the year's most horrible albums, by the way).
I haven't been scoring lists, but one I was struck by was David O'Brien's at Atlanta Constitution Journal: his top-50 includes 13 of my A-list albums (D'Angelo, Spoon, Leonard Cohen, Big KRIT, Mary Gauthier, Dave & Phil Alvin, Ought, The Delines, Statik Selektah, Parquet Courts, Thurston Moore, Angaleena Presley, and Cloud Nothings -- make that 14 with Tami Neilson), plus 3 more in the HMs (Rodney Crowell, Miranda Lambert, Billy Joe Shaver). I also count 7 3-star B+ and 8 more 2-star -- that's where the median lies. He likes some records I don't (Swans, Sharon Van Etten, Beck, Jack White, YG), has a minor interest in metal (Mastodon and YOB in the HMs), doesn't show any jazz or electronica (not even Caribou), or any of the more narrowly Christgauvian cult items (absence of Wussy almost certainly means he hasn't heard them).
Expect a Rhapsody Streamnotes later this week. I've started to play some 2015 jazz, but mostly I'm still trying to mop up late finds from 2014.
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old records rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
Sunday, January 11. 2015
The big news of the week was the massacre in the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where ten journalists (mostly cartoonists) and two police were gunned down. This was followed by a shooting of a police officer at Montrouge, and an attempt to take hostages at a kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes, resulting in four more deaths (five counting the assailant). French officials hunted down and killed the two Charlie Hebdo shooters, but the story doesn't end there. Whereas mass shootings by non-Muslims in Europe and America (including one in Norway in 2011 that killed 77 people) are typically treated as "lone wolf" aberrations, any such violence committed by Muslims automatically triggers a chain reaction where all the usual reactors resume the positions they took after 9/11, mostly to escalate US, European, and Israeli violence against Muslims. The effect is much like watching a train wreck, where no matter how clear every detail seems, one is helpless to prevent or even affect the crash.
The most immediate response has been a huge outpouring of racist rhetoric from Europe's right, especially from the strategically placed, shamelessly opportunistic Marine le Pen. And as rightists almost reflexively respond, this has already resulted in a number of attacks against mosques in France. Meanwhile, more respectable elites have tended to the propaganda campaign. In particular, Charlie Hebdo has become an icon of free speech, championed by people who spend billions of dollars every year to shape public discourse to advance their own agendas. Over the longer term they will use this attack as an excuse to launch -- actually, to continue -- many more of their own. Moreover, those attacks -- indeed, this week's mosque attacks -- will scarcely raise a ripple in the western press, or a twinge of conscience in the belligerent elites.
Needless to say, this kneejerk reaction is insane. If, say, one suffers and barely survives a heart attack, the normal response is to take a look at your own life and see you can do better -- stop smoking, eat differently, exercise more, take a daily aspirin, whatever. It's not to go out and bomb Afghanistan, or burn down a convenient mosque. And this is not because you feel personally culpable for the heart attack. It's more because the only change you can make is to yourself. Yet terror attacks, which for nearly everyone are mere impersonal news, are never allowed to evoke a moment's self-examination. There's a complex psychology behind this, but it's ultimately because the elites (especially the right-wingers who predominate) have something to hide, and much to fear if this is ever discussed rationally.
The attackers in Paris, for instance, identified themselves as affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda was effectively invented in the 1980s when the United States recruited Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to raise an Islamist army ("the mujahideen") to sabotage the Soviets in Afghanistan. The US was arguably naive to do so, but American Cold Warriors had often (and successfully) used religion against "Godless Communism," and colonial powers had routinely recruited Islamic clerics to help control the masses -- in fact, the US used Iranian clerics to organize the mobs that helped overthrow Iran's democracy in 1953. So what could go wrong? (This was, after all, the Reagan administration, where naivete was little less than a worldview.)
When recruited by the US, the Saudi monarchy and Pakistan's Islamist dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq built their Afghan war machine with the clerics they had in hand -- the fundamentalist Wahhabi and Deobandi sects, militantly orthodox especially in their excoriation of heretics (especially Shiites) and used to using their religious beliefs as a platform for war -- nor did they limit their scope to Afghanistan: since its founding, Pakistan has been obsessed with India, while Saudi Arabia was locked in a long struggle with secularizing, socialist, and nationalist forces throughout the Arab world. It was only a matter of time before the muhahideen turned their venom against their patrons, especially the infidel ones.
Still, jihadism was never more than a sliver movement within Islam. If you read Gilles Kepel's definitive history of jihadism up to 2000 (Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam), you will see that before 9/11 the movement had largely burned itself out. In that context, 9/11 was a "hail Mary pass" -- an effort not to strike the enemy so much as to provoke a monster, which would then invade the Land of Islam and drive the faithful to take up arms. Thanks to the ignorance and ego of GW Bush, Bin Laden was successful in his provocation. His only disappointment was in how few Muslims rose to fight alongside him. But a small number did, joining the ranks of those caught up in local wars -- some like Iraq the result of US imperial adventures, others like Syria only slightly removed -- adding a religious fire to those conflicts. And very rarely, as in Paris last week, the blowback comes home.
All this has been plainly obvious for many years, even as a succession of presidents (and both apologists and antagonists) have been oblivious to the consequences of their actions. And by consequences I don't mean the rare blowback event -- I mean the obviously direct consequences of aerial attacks and covert operations, of sanctions and propping up cruel dictators, of repeatedly proving to the world that US leaders have no respect for foreign lives, least of all Muslim ones. There are a great many reasons why the US should withdraw from such behaviors. Fear of reprisal (of blowback) is a relatively minor one, but even it isn't as silly as refusing to do the right thing, and insisting on repeating past mistakes, for fear of looking like you're giving in to terrorism. Elites like to brand terrorists as cowards, but the real cowardice is failing to do the right thing for fear of looking weak.
Only by changing our ways will this problem ever go away.
Some more links and comments follow (some on other topics):
Also, a few links for further study:
Monday, January 5. 2015
Music: Current count 24286  rated (+39), 505  unrated (-4).
A bit out of sync here, having closed the count last night but adding two incoming discs today -- otherwise last week was pretty barren at the mailbox. Actually, I could have posted this early, but what's held me back was stuffing the EOY aggregate list -- now up to 310 lists, 3470 new records, 524 reissues/comps/vault jobs. I'm getting close to wrapping that up -- the last step is usually to fold in the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop album results, or Christgau's Dean's List, whichever comes last. I've picked up some more jazz lists, including the Jazz Critics Poll (down to 150), and I've also picked up a cluster of lists from the Christgau-focused Expert Witness group -- close to two dozen ballots to Odyshape's Expert Witness Pazz & Jop album poll (see below), plus some longer lists from that direction (including 150 albums from Jason Gubbels). The top twenty albums in Odyshape's poll, followed by their bump in my aggregate file:
The EW voters aren't the only factor here: Run the Jewels has been gaining ground steadily for several weeks, and D'Angelo has picked up speed after a very late start. Nor is their (or should I say our?) representation untoward: I expect that close to two dozen critics will vote in both Odyshape and Village Voice polls, so if they/we weren't counted here, that would introduce a skew there. Even so, it's likely that a dozen or more of this list of twenty will place higher in P&J than in my aggregate.
There's probably a lot more interesting data that could be mined from the aggregate chart, but the one thing I want to point out here is that the top four have narrowed: the points are 236-223-213-205 (with Run the Jewels passing St. Vincent). Fifth place Caribou is down at 159, followed by 152, 144 (twice), 138, and 125. Usually at this point the top few slots are spreading out, so this is about as close a top bunch as you'll ever see.
Recommended music links:
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old records rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: