Streamnotes: January 25, 2021


Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on December 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (16062+ records).


Recent Releases

3unshine: We Are 3unshine (2019 [2020], Real Show): Chinese "Mandopop" group, three girls -- Ji Xingyue ("Abby"), Fan Lina ("Cindy"), and Wang Xiaodie ("Dora") -- from Bozhou, Anhui, inland between Shanghai and Beijing. First such record I've heard, and only heard about it from a purloined email. No telling how many more records like this there are, but this one is fun, especially when it starts to click midway through. B+(**)

AC/DC: Power Up (2020, Columbia): Australian rock band, debut in 1975, massively successful, with over 200 million albums sold worldwide (Black in Black counting for a quarter of those, the second highest-selling album in history). Releases thinned out after 1990, with a new one every 5-8 years. I've seen a few people tout this as their best, which seems possible yet doesn't inspire me to backtrack. I did find it listenable, and found something respectable in how simple their basic formalism is. B

Adulkt Life: Book of Curses (2020, What's Your Rupture?): British post-punk group, from London, first album, short one (10 tracks, 25:21. B+(***)

André Akinyele: Uniglo Boy (2020, Orange River): American r&b singer-songwriter, based in Toronto, third album, "a black gothic, futuristic, and universal odyssey of hardcore beats, electro love songs, and dance music." B+(**)

Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet: Social Distancing (2020 [2021], Saponegro): Peruvian trumpet player, teaches at NYU, albums with his Sextet since 2008, adds some guests here, vocals up front. B+(**) [cd] [01-29]

Alma: Have U Seen Her? (2020, PME): Finnish pop singer Alma-Sofia Miettinen, called her first EP Die My Hair (from what I've seen, her hair is significantly brighter and more unnatural than Billie Eilish's). First album, although Robyn-like she released most of it through EPs. Choice cut: "Loser." B+(**)

Roo Arcus: Tumbleweed (2020, Social Family): Country singer-songwriter from Australia, lots of pictures on his website with horses, some with barbed wire. Third album, voice the best faked twang since Kasey Chambers, a natural wonder. B+(*)

Daniel Avery: Love + Light (2020, Phantasy Sound): British electronica producer, from Bournemouth, EPs from 2012, five albums. Fourteen tracks range from ambient (blah) to much sharper (and more compelling) machinery. B+(**)

Baba Zula: Hayvan Gibi (2020, Night Dreamer/Gulbara): Turkish "psychedelic Istanbul rock 'n roll" group, led by electric saz player Osman Murat Ertel, also credited (along with baritone electric oud player Periklis Tsoukala) with vocals, although they sound less like singing than getting caught up in the rapture. The string grooves are indeed exhilarating, but I'm just as pleased with a relatively quiet drum (darbuka?) solo. A-

Juan Pablo Balcazar: Suite Resbalosa (2018 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): Spanish bassist, label credits him with 7 albums since 2005, his first remembered as a fine HM in an early Jazz CG. All original pieces, with two alto saxophonists, piano, and drums. B+(***)

BbyMutha: Muthaland (2020, The Muthaboard): Rapper Brittnee Moore, from Chattanooga, first album after a dozen EPs (going back to 2014). At 31, has had a life, with physically abusive father, turbulent adolescence (depression, ADHD, expelled from school, drugs, pregnant with twins at 17), now a single mom with four children and her father living next door to help out. She was so stressed after finishing this she vowed it would be her last album. I feel much the same listening to it, but don't doubt there is some genius among the debris. A-

BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff (2020, Bella Union): Singer-songwriter Brian Christinzio, from New Jersey, fifth album since 2005. Occasionally reaches for a Beach Boys harmony. B

Bdrmm: Bedroom (2020, Sonic Cathedral): Shoegaze group from Hull, England; lot of releases on their Bandcamp page, but this seems to be the only full album. B+(**)

Beach Bunny: Honeymoon (2020, Mom + Pop): Chicago indie pop band, Lili Trifilio singer, first album after a bunch of EPs and singles, short at 9 songs, 25:00. B+(*)

Beans on Toast: Knee Deep in Nostalgia (2020, Beans on Toast Music): British folksinger Jay McAllister, has released an album every December 1 since 2009, went for two this year, because, well, you know all too well. This one looks back for comfort, the other looks forward for hope. Relatively polished for him. Notable: "What Would Willie Do?" B+(***)

Beans on Toast: The Unforseeable Future (2020, Beans on Toast Music): Pandemic album, far cruder as his politics runs hard over his melodic sense. Starts with "the word of the day is unprecedented." Ends with "what really makes the world go round is generosity." Between he struggles with governments he doesn't trust but desperately needs. B+(***)

Belle and Sebastian: What to Look for in Summer (2019 [2020], Matador, 2CD): Live double (99:54) by the Scottish band, founded 1994 and led by Stuart Murdoch. Gets better and better, although that may be because the older songs are the ones I recognize. B+(**)

The Big Moon: Walking Like We Do (2020, Fiction): British indie band, from London, led by Juliette Jackson (vocals, guitars, keyboards). Second album. B

Big Sean: Detroit 2 (2020, GOOD Music/Def Jam): Detroit rapper Sean Anderson, fifth studio album sice 2011. B+(**)

Nat Birchall Meets Al Breadwinner: Tradition Disc in Dub (2020, Tradition Disc): Tenor saxophonist, elsewhere deep into Coltrane, hooks up with Manchester reggae buff Alan Redfern, of the Breadwinners (plays drums, guitar, piano, organ, melodica here, and does the dub mix). Second of three such meetings to date (according to release date). No showcase for his impressive sax, but close to note-perfect dub groove. B+(***) [bc]

BlackPink: The Album (2020, YG Entertainment/Interscope): K-pop girl group, four singer/dancers recruited and orchestrated by the label, released a Japanese album in 2018, this their first in South Korea and the US. More English and more hip-hop than most K-pop, with guest features for Selena Gomez and Cardi B. Short: eight tracks, 24:26. B+(**)

Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas: Bye Bye Blues (2020, Seraphic): Western swing band, based in Chicago, led by singer Solitaire Miles, who snagged the credit for the band's eponymous debut (2015). Mostly repertoire, and not just Bob Wills, like whom they used fiddle and pedal steel, but also borrowed heavily from the jazz du jour. B+(**)

James Dean Bradfield: Even in Exile (2020, Montyray): Welsh singer-songwriter, Manic Street Preachers leader, second solo album. This album bears a relationship to his former band much like Bob Mould's solo work does to Hüsker Dü: same but slightly diluted. B+(*)

Brandy: B7 (2020, Brand Nu/Entertainment One): R&B singer Brandy Norwood, a star since her 1997 debut went 4xPlatinum. Seventh album, first since 2012. B+(*)

Brothers Osborne: Skeletons (2020, EMI Nashville): Country-rock duo, singer T.J. and guitarist John Osborne, from Maryland, not to be confused with the long-running (1953-2005) bluegrass Osborne Brothers. Upbeat, some pop hooks, probably a good show, wears thin over time. Good line: "Hating somebody ain't never got nobody nowhere." B+(*)

Nicholas Brust: Frozen in Time (2018 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): Alto saxophonist, studied in Boston, based in New York, first album, postbop quintet with piano (Tuoo Uusitalo), guitar (Ben Eunson), bass, and drums. B+(**)

Aaron Burnett & the Big Machine: Jupiter Conjunct (2019 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): Tenor saxophonist, from California, studied at Berklee, several previous records. Sextet with trumpet (Adam O'Farrill), vibes (Joel Ross), piano, bass, drums, plus two Esperanza Spalding vocals (not a plus). B

Cable Ties: Far Enough (2020, Merge): Australian garage rock band, Jenny McKechnie sings, second album, brash but catchy enough. B+(***)

Cam: The Otherside (2020, RCA): Country singer-songwriter Camaron Ochs, from California, third album. B+(***)

Playboi Carti: Whole Lotta Red (2020, AWGE/Interscope): Atlanta rapper Jordan Carter, started in his teens as Sir Cartier, adopted this moniker for his 2017 mixtape (when he was 20), second album since, a sprawling work which suggests his adolescent freak is maturing in Young Thug's footsteps. B+(**)

Brian Charette: Beyond Borderline (2019, SteepleChase): Organ player, one of the few who doesn't sound like a soul jazz throwback, more than a dozen albums since 2009, solo here. B+(*)

Brian Charette: Like the Sun (2020, Dim Mak): This one also looks to be solo, but the "live" organ is surrounded by "drum machines, samplers, and arpeggiators . . . programmed to react . . . in provocative ways." Not really. B

Collocutor: Continuation (2018-19 [2020], On the Corner): British modal jazz quintet, led by saxophonist Tamar Osborn, third album. B+(*)

Marco Colonna & Alexander Hawkins: Dolphy Underlined (2020, Fundacja Sluchaj): Clarinet and piano duo. Eight Dolphy pieces, one by Colonna. B+(***) [bc]

A.G. Cook: Apple (2020, PC Music): Initials for Alexander Guy, British electropop producer, founded PC Music label in 2013, may be better known for work with Charli XCX. Second LP after a number of singles and EPs back to 2013. B [bc]

Coriky: Coriky (2020, Dischord): DC rock trio, has punk roots but is comfortably alt/indie. B+(*) [bc]

Elvis Costello: Hey Clockface (2020, Concord): Pub rock singer-songwriter from the late 1970s, 31st studio album, I haven't been impressed by anything he's done since 1986 (more for The Costello Show than for Blood and Chocolate), as he's mined ever deeper into songbook traditions. This one seems to have a fairly decent title song, a lot of spoken word, and not much else worth noting. B-

Crack Cloud: Pain Olympics (2020, Meat Machine): Canadian "art punk" band, originally an alias for Zach Choy, but grown to seven pieces so a little fancy for punk. Second album. B+(*)

John Craigie: Asterisk the Universe (2020, Zabriskie Point): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, alt-country, albums since 2009. Video suggests this was recorded in a country commune, as he has a lot of musicians and backup singers without making it feel cluttered. More like richly detailed, which fits the songs. A-

Cut Worms: Nobody Lives Here Anymore (2020, Jagjaguwar): Singer-songwriter Max Clarke, from Ohio, based in Brooklyn, second album. Wikipedia advises: "for moth larvae that feed at night, see cutworms." Nice, melodic, even gets into some Beach Boys overtones. B+(*)

Dan Ex Machina: Pity Party Animal (2020, self-released): Dan Weiss, from New Jersey, not the drummer or the rapper, but well known to me as a rock critic -- a major contributor to my Turkey Shoots, and a reliable pop/rock junkie. Heard about his band years ago, but this is the first evidence I've seen. Mostly alt/indie, but ranges a bit. He must have been working on it some while, given how quaint his GW Bush song sounds on the day of Trump's Capitol riot, followed by a Celtic jig named for a fossil. B+(***) [bc]

Dan Ex Machina: My Wife (2020, self-released): Nice instrumental opener, before the alt/indie signature sound takes over. As before, smart and/or clever, although not so much sunk in after two plays. B+(**) [bc]

Dan Ex Machina: Bail Shag EP (2017 [2021], self-released): Seven songs, 20:23, five written in one day in 2009, same sound, roll past me easy. B+(*) [bc]

Ward Davis: Black Cats and Crows (2020, Ward Davis Music): Country singer-songwriter from Arkansas, moved to Nashville in 2000, writing songs for others before recording his an EP in 2014. Second album. B+(*)

Dean & Britta: Quarantine Tapes (2020, Double Feature): Wareham and Phillips, married couple, best known for their band Luna (from 1992), but have also recorded several albums as a duo (from 2003). Recorded at home, old songs given minimal dressing. Most striking for me is the most familiar: "I'm So Bored With the USA." B+(**) [bc]

Deerhoof: Future Teenage Cave Artists (2020, Joyful Noise): Experimental rock group, discography starts in 1996, not one I was tempted to follow but Greg Saunier (drums) and John Dieterich (guitar since 1999) have been showing up in jazz and hip-hop contexts recently. (The other long-termer is bassist-singer Satomi Matsuzaki.) Scattered psychedelia, somehow more appealing than you'd expect. B+(*)

Deerhoof & Wadada Leo Smith: To Be Surrounded by Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough (2020, Joyful Noise): Two live sets, the first (6 tracks, 17:52) with just the band, the second (5 tracks, 19:04) adds the trumpet player. B+(**) [bc]

Deerhoof: Love-Lore (2020, Joyful Noise): Surprise album, nominally a covers album, with five medleys (one 19:02, which winds through Silver Apples/Police/Kraftwerk through Babbitt/B52s to Penderecki/Cage/Brecht). Very mixed bag, but the short B52s bit is great, as is the Velvet Underground ("All Tomorrow's Parties"). B+(*)

Dehd: Flower of Devotion (2020, Fire Talk): Chicago indie rock trio, founded by Emily Kempf (bass) and Jason Balla (guitar), adding drummer Eric McGrady, all credited with vocals first. B+(*)

Helena Deland: Someone New (2020, Luminelle): Singer-songwriter from Montreal, first album after five EPs. B+(*)

Diabla Diezco: Memento Mori (2020, Mord): Dutch electronica duo, Bas Mooy and Charlton Ravenberg, the former with the more substantial discography under his own name (starting in 2004). Chugging electronic beats, occasionally some noise wafting through the upper reaches. Something I enjoy, but can't credit much significance to. Vinyl is short (5 tracks, 24:55, but digital adds three tracks, another 15:34. B+(***)

Dogleg: Melee (2020, Triple Crown): Hardcore punk group from Detroit, led by singer Alex Stoitsiadis, first album after a couple EPs. Some people like them, and sometimes I think I can hear it, but before long I tire of the thrash. B

Dave Douglas: Overcome (2020, Greenleaf Music): Political statement, occasioned by the BLM protests, built around an arrangement of "We Shall Overcome" with voices of Fay Victor and Camila Meza, with brass, bass, drums, and Meza's guitar. Ends with a tribute, "Good Trouble, for John Lewis." B+(**) [dl]

Drunken Kong: Where We Start (2020, Tronic): Japanese techno duo, D. Singh and DJ Kyoko, EPs since 2015, second album (plus remixes of each). Beats sharp and catchy, and while they repeat a lot -- 16 tracks run 107:47 -- they seem to know when to break up the flow with a subtle shift of focus. B+(***)

Dueling Experts: Dueling Experts (2020, Mello Music Group): Verbal Kent (from Chicago, yet another Dan Weiss) and Recognize Ali (from Ghana, Nii Ayitey Ajin Adamafio), both with long lists of separate credits (Kent's going back to 2004, Ali's to 2014). Enough distance to generate some tension, the edge reduced somewhat by the grungy din. B+(***)

Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction: Live at Threes (2020, Out of Your Head Untamed): Bassist, live followup to group's 2019 album. Quintet, with Louna Dekker-Vargas (flutes), Ledah Finck (violin/viola), Tal Yahalom (guitar), and Stephen Boegehold (drums). B+(**) [dl]

Dvsn: A Muse in Her Feelings (2020, OVO Sound/Warner Bros.): Canadian r&b duo, singer Daniel Daley and producer Anthony Paul Jefferies (aka Nineteen85), pronounced "division," third album.

Steve Earle: J.T. (2021, New West): Ten songs written by Earle's son, Justin Townes Earle, who died of a drug overdose last year. The younger Earle recorded nine albums 2007-19. I've heard the last six, thought he was a decent songwriter -- I warmed most to his last, The Saint of Lost Causes -- but not nearly as good as his father. This offers the best of both: cherry-picked songs, performed adroitly by a much better singer and a first-rate band. A-

Empress Of: I'm Your Empress Of (2020, Terrible): Singer-songwriter Lorely Rodriguez, from Los Angeles, parents Honduran, third album. B+(**)

Hazel English: Wake UP! (2020, Polyvinyl): Australian singer-songwriter, Eleisha Caripis, moved to Bay Area, first album after several EPs. B+(*)

Erasure: The Neon (2020, Mute): British electropop duo, Andy Bell and Vince Clark, eighteen studio album since 1986. Beats OK, vocals leave something to be desired. B

Eyelids: The Accidental Falls (2020, Decor): Indie band from Portland, fourth album since 2014. B+(*)

Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lose Your ind Yet? (2020, Cooking Vinyl/Blackball Universe): Xavier Dphrepaulezz, father Somali, he was born in Massachusetts, moved to Oakland when he was 12, heavily influenced by Prince. Recorded an album as Xavier in 1996. Adopted this name for his 2014 album. Stradles blues and funk, rocks some, asks the question, "is there justice in America." B+(***)

Bill Fay: Countless Branches (2020, Dead Oceans): English singer-songwriter, recorded two albums 1970-71, one 1978-81 that wasn't released until 2005, and three since 2012. Simple songs, backed with piano. B+(**)

Laura Fell: Safe From Me (2020, Balloon Machine): Singer-songwriter, from London, day job psychotherapist, first album. B+(*)

R.A.P. Ferreira: Purple Moonlight Pages (2020, Ruby Yacht): Rapper, initials for Rory Allen Philip, born in Chicago but grew up in Maine and Wisconsin, previously recorded a half-dozen albums as Milo (2011-18). Understated underground, produced by the Jefferson Park Boys (best known: Kenny Segal), the "poetry" basic but smart, with feat. spots for Mike Ladd and Open Mike Eagle, and a lightly sung "Creator Has a Masterplan" for the coda. A-

R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob's Son: R.A.P. Ferreira in the Garden Level Cafe of the Scallops Hotel (2021, Ruby Yacht): Refers back to another of Ferreira's aliases: Scallops Hotel. Drop off is slight. Twelve tracks, 35:06. B+(***) [bc]

Fireboy DML: Apollo (YBNL Nation/Empire): Nigerian singer-songwriter Adedamola Adefolahan, second album, closer to global soul/hip-hop than to afrobeat let alone juju, but pretty upbeat. B+(*)

Keeley Forsyth: Debris (2020, The Leaf Label): English singer-songwriter, better known as an actress -- I'm sure I've seen her in a half-dozen series going back as far as Dalziel and Pascoe (2002), but I don't see any starring roles. First album at 41 -- a short one, 8 tracks, 27:56, but slow enough it seems longer. B

The Full Salon: The Full Salon (2018 [2020], self-released): New York bassist Henry Fraser's "polycephalic seven piece ensemble," the vocals (Mel Stancato) but also the guitar, synth, drums moving it closer to art rock than jazz, though not without moments of surprise. B [bc]

Future Islands: As Long as You Are (2020, 4AD): American synthpop band, from Baltimore, sixth album since 2008. Sam Herring is a striking singer, not unlike the band so pumped up with keyboards. B+(*)

Angelica Garcia: Cha Cha Palace (2020, Spacebomb): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, based in Richmond, second album, an arty pastiche with nods to Mexican and Salvadoran roots. B

Melody Gardot: Sunset in the Blue (2020, Decca): Singer, from New Jersey, 5th album since 2008. Mixed originals and standards, mostly Brazilian rhythms with stringy background. B

Ghetto Kumbé: Ghetto Kumbé (2020, ZZK): Colombian group, main focus on the drums spritzed up with a wash of electronica. B+(**)

A Girl Called Eddy: Been Around (2020, Elefant): Erin Moran, from New Jersey, based in England, second album, long time after her eponymous 2003 debut. B+(*)

Selena Gomez: Rare (2020, Interscope): Pop star, from Texas, released three studio albums as Selena Gomez & the Scene (2009-11), three more solo albums, all hits but like everyone else, sales trajectory is downward. Appealing. B+(**)

Jerry Granelli: The Jerry Granelli Trio Plays Vince Guaraldi & Mose Allison (2020, RareNoise): Drummer-led piano trio, with Jamie Saft and Bradley Christopher Jones, playing two tracks by Guaraldi, five by Allison, two originals, one trad. B+(*)

The Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble: Jagged Spaces (2020 [2021], Grassvita Music): Guitarist Skip Grasso and bassist Phil Ravita, with Benny Russell (tenor/soprano sax), Greg Small (piano), and Nuc Vega (drums). B+(*) [cd]

Groupe RTD: The Dancing Devils of Djibouti (2020, Ostinato): From the former French Somaliland, a tiny enclave on the Red Sea between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, mostly known in these parts for hosting a US military base (although they also have bases for France, Japan, and China). RTD is Radiodiffusion-Télévision Djibouti, the state-controlled media. Upbeat crossroads music, whiffs from Bollywood to Jamaica, maybe a bit of Scottish jig. B+(***)

Guiss Guiss Bou Bess: Set Sela (2019, Helico): From Senegal, although increasingly I'm seeing music from all over the non-English-speaking world classified not as "world" but under genres -- in this case, deep dubstep, bass house, or more broadly electronica. Still, the beats sound like drums, and profusion such as rarely found outside of Senegal. A-

The Happy Fits: What Could Be Better (2020, The Happy Fits): Rock trio from New Jersey, second album, upbeat, hooky. B+(**)

Roderick Harper: Evolving (2020 [2021], R.H.M. Entertainment): Crooner, full name ends in Muhammad, originally from DC but found himself in New Orleans, couple previous albums, featured spots here for Ellis Marsalis and Donald Harrison. B+(*) [cd]

HHY & the Kampala Unit: Lithium Blast (2020, Nyege Nyege Tapes): Portuguese producer Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, has a couple soundtracks, pop-jazz albums with the Macumbas, now this slab of electronica, now this slab of electronica from his visit to Uganda. B+(*)

Marquis Hill: Soul Sign (2020, Black Unlimited Music Group): Trumpet player, from Chicago, started as a mainstream player, moves into some kind of crossover zone here, with this grand tour of the zodiac in hip-hop beats and spoken word. Music is neither bad nor special. The astrology is nonsense. B

Rui Ho: Lov3 & L1ght (2020, Planet Mu): Born in China, based in Berlin, typographically challenged electropop artist, "non-binary," first album, synths are light and airy, chinoiserie bits filtered through manga, beats danceable, voices ubiquitous but hard to pin down. B+(**)

Siul Hughes: Hueman (2020, Fake Four): Connecticut rapper, first name pronounced "see all," as in "SEEALLHUES." Seems deep but inscrutable. B+(***) [bc]

Siul Hughes: Stoopkid (2018 [2019], Fake Four): Previous album, officially his 5th release (probably not all LPs; this one runs 35:09). B+(**) [bc]

Sierra Hull: 25 Trips (2020, Rounder): Bluegrass singer-songwriter, plays mandolin and guitar, fifth album since 2002. Nice. B+(**)

Hum: Inlet (2020, Earth Analog): Rock band from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, released four albums 1991-97, quit in 2000, regrouped 2011 but no new album until this one. Suggested genres include shoegaze and alt-metal. Melodies have some appeal, but also some sludge. B

Kelley Hurt/Chad Fowler/Christopher Parker/Bernard Santacruz/Anders Griffen: Nothing but Love: The Music of Frank Lowe (2019 [2020], Mahakala Music): Seven compositions by the late saxophonist (plus two alternate takes), each musician -- voice, sax, piano, bass, drums/trumpet -- somehow connected to the source. Hurt is only a plus on the one song with a lyric, but Fowler is a tower of strength throughout. B+(***) [bc]

Kang Tae Hwan/Hang Hae Jin: Circle Point (2019 [2020], Dancing Butterfly): South Koreans, alto sax and violin duo, live improv, "50 minutes without pause." B+(**) [bc]

Hwyl Nofio: Isolate (2020, Hwyl): Welsh group, name translates as "swimming fun," founded 1998 by Steve Parry, credited here with "guitarlin, toy piano, church organ, prepared guitar, harmonium, piano, noise," with sax, bass, and a guest spot for harp (Rhodri Davies). B+(*) [bc]

Illuminati Hotties: Free I.H.: This Is Not the One You've Been Waiting For (2020, self-released): Los Angeles "tenderpunk" group led by Sarah Tudzin, second album, although barely -- 10 tracks, 23:16, dubbed a mixtape -- the subtitle as much as admitting this is a stopgap. B+(*)

Jasmine Infiniti: Bxtch Släp (2020, New World Dysorder): Techno producer from New York, first album after several singles and EPs. B+(**)

International Teachers of Pop: Pop Gossip (2020, Desolate Spools): English synthpop group from Sheffield, second album. Opening salvo: "don't dis the disco." Catchier stuff follows, even if it seems a bit didactic. B+(**)

Ital Tek: Outland (2020, Planet Mu): British electronica producer Alan Myson, seventh album since 2008. I like the beats a lot, ambient washes somewhat less. B+(**)

Sunny Jain: Wild Wild East (2020, Smithsonian Folkways): Born in Rochester, percussionist, draws on his Indian heritage, playing in bhangra as well as jazz bands, specializing in dhol (a double-sided barrel drum). This is closer to Indian rock than to jazz, but don't discount the rap feature. B+(*)

Sarah Jarosz: World on the Ground (2020, Rounder): Singer-songwriter from Texas, leans bluegrass (main instrument is mandolin, but also plays guitar and banjo), fifth album since 2009. B+(***)

Hermione Johnson: Tremble (2019 [2020], Relative Pitch): Pianist, from New Zealand, second album, solo, no overdubs, the piano prepared by "inserting tiny sticks at diverse angles between the strings," producing an effect likened to gamelan. B+(**) [bc]

Juice WRLD: Legends Never Die (2020, Grade A/Interscope): Chicago rapper Jarad Higgins, died at 21 of an overdose during a drug bust, so this third album was released posthumously. Album includes songs dedicated to XXXTentacion (shot dead at 20) and Lil Peep (OD at 21) -- still, hardly grimmer than his previous titles Goodbye & Good Riddance and Death Race for Love, or his mixtape Wrld on Drugs. Sample lyrics: "I'm a high guy/ kinda fly too"; "we don't live long"; "hell if I know." B

Juniore: Un Deux Trois (2020, Le Phonographe): French indie pop group, led by Anna Jean (daughter of novelist JMG Le Clézio), second album, in French, big beats and cool vibes. B+(**)

Maria Kannegaard Trio: Sand I En Vik (2020, Jazzland): Pianist, born in Denmark, lived in Norway since age 10, half-dozen albums since 2000, this a trio with Ole Morten Vågan (bass) and Thomas Strønen (drums). Strong rhythmic backbone. B+(***)

The Killers: Imploding the Mirage (2020, Island): Rock band from Las Vegas, sixth studio album since 2004, Brandon Flowers sings and plays keyboards, a big part of their sound. Not terrible, but not very interesting either. B

Kiwi Jr.: Football Money (2020, Persona Non Grata): Canadian group, from Toronto. Punk economy (10 songs, 27:18) with grander pop gestures. B+(**) [bc]

Stephanie Lambring: Autonomy (2020, self-released): Singer-songwriter, based in Nashville, second album, plays guitar and keyboards. Some songs touch on religion, not that it does much good. "Old Folks Home" seems appropriately sad. B+(**)

Sonny Landreth: Blacktop Run (2020, Provogue): Singer-songwriter, born in Mississippi but long-based in southwest Louisiana, broke in with Clinton Chenier's cajun band, 18th album since 1981, mostly blues. B+(*)

Last Dream of the Morning [John Butcher/John Edwards/Mark Sanders]: Crucial Anatomy (2018 [2020], Trost): Avant sax trio, Butcher playing tenor and soprano. B+(**)

Pak Yan Lau & Darin Gray: Trudge Lightly (2016-18 [2020], By the Bluest of Seas): Piano-bass duo, but both are "prepared," and credits include synths, objects, electronics. Gray is American, discography goes back to 1999. Lau is based in Brussels, has appeared in groups like Dream & Drone Orchestra and The Crappy Mini Band. This is her fourth album. B+(**) [bc]

Adrianne Lenker: Instrumentals (2020, 4AD): Big Thief leader (singer/guitarist), has released a couple solo albums alongside four group efforts. This one was bundled with Songs on CD, but the digitals are separate, so I didn't feel compelled to review this when I did Songs [B+(*)]. However, so many reviewers and EOY lists combined the two I counted them as one. Only later did I realize that this isn't instrumental versions of the Songs but two more pieces (total 37:24). Not bad, but strikes me as rather trivial. B

Lithics: Tower of Age (2020, Trouble in Mind): Portland post-punk band, third album. Aubrey Hornor sings and plays guitar, backed by three guys who keep the rhythm on edge and the edges sharp and sparkly. A-

Lomelda: Hannah (2020, Double Double Whammy): Singer-songwriter Hannah Read, from Texas, handful of albums since 2012. Wrote one of those albums "over a few months while sleeping in her car." B+(*)

Lydia Loveless: Daughter (2020, Honey, You're Gonna Be Late): Alt-country singer-songwriter Lydia Ankrom, from Ohio, coming off five albums on Bloodshot. I was impressed by her feisty debut, but she's settled down since then. B+(*)

Luca T. Mai: Heavenly Guide (2018 [2020], Trost): Baritone saxophonist, first album under his name but he's been a major player in the punk/jazz/metal band Zu since 1999, joined here by drummer Tomas Jamyr and Zu bassist Massimo Pupillo. Short, grungy album: seven tracks, 25:14. B

Roc Marciano: Mt. Marci (2020, Marci): New York rapper Rahkeim Calief Meyer, eighth album, fourth to work "Marci" into the title. B+(*)

Roc Marciano: Marcielago (2019 [2020], Marci Enterprises): Previous album, looks like digital was available in December, 2019, but CD and LP didn't appear until January 24. B+(**) [yt]

Gia Margaret: Mia Gargaret (2020, Orindal): From Chicago, first album reportedly more singer-songwriter, this short (11 songs, 27:08) one more instrumental, mostly synthesizer, with some voice (including a sample from Alan Watts) and a couple guest spots. B+(*)

Branford Marsalis: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom [Original Soundtrack] (2020, Milan): Film by George C. Wolfe, based on a play by August Wilson, which explains why it was framed so narrowly, set almost completely in two rooms of a Chicago studio, with a lot more talk than music, staring Viola Davis in horror makeup and Chadwick Boseman in a final over-the-top performance as an arrogant, terrified, and tragic trumpeter. I didn't bother trying to follow Allen Lowe's critique, but found the movie so unenjoyable that I don't much care for matters of accuracy and authenticity. Not much to the soundtrack, but as I said, not much music to the movie either. B

Sabir Mateen/Christopher Dell/Christian Ramond/Klaus Kugel: Creation (2012 [2020], 577): Tenor sax, vibes, bass, drums. Takes a while, but two-thirds through the "bonus track" Mateen really catches fire. B+(***)

McCarthy Trenching: Perfect Game (2020, self-released): Omaha singer-songwriter Dan McCarthy, albums since 2003 (demos) or 2007 (eponymous). As Christgau says, "clear, mild, droll, calculated, casual, and clever." I doubt I would have noticed without his review. B+(***)

Melenas: Dias Raros (2020, Trouble in Mind): Spanish indie rock quartet, all women, from Pamplona, second album, lyrics in Spanish. B+(**)

Melkbelly: PITH (2020, Wax Nine/Carpark): Chicago noise rock band, second album, Miranda Winters sings, seems a bit off. B

Metz: Atlas Vending (2020, Sub Pop): Canadian noise rock band (or post punk or something like that), fourth album since 2012. B

Buddy & Julie Miller: Lockdown Songs (2020, self-released): Country duo since 1995, both also have records on their own. Little info available, but obviously new songs for the glum occasion, with several public service announcements ("stay home," "put on your mask," "don't drink bleach no matter what the president said"), several about Black Lives Matter and John Lewis, a look back at "The Terrible Spanish Flu." Both sound considerably gruffer than I remember them. Time 26:22, but like the year, feels longer. B+(***)

Blake Mills: Mutable Set (2020, New Deal/Verve): Singer-songwriter from California, has some production credits and a rep as a guitarist (including a Dylan side-credit), fourth album since 2010. Slow, quiet, painstaking. B

Moby: All Visible Objects (2020, Mute): Electronica producer, big in the late 1990s, someone I had lost track of since 2013's still-pretty-good Innocents (sixth studio album since). Familiar use of vocals, big beats, lush textures. Hit and miss, but glorious when it works. B+(*)

MoE With Mette Rasmussen and Ikuro Takahasi: Painted (2019 [2020], Relative Pitch): Experimental rock duo from Norway -- bassist Guro Skumsnes Moe and guitarist Håvard Skaset -- plus saxophone and drums. Moe is also credited with voice, but not much of that. Noise meets free jazz, roughly. B [bc]

Kevin Morby: Sundowner (2020, Dead Oceans): Singer-songwriter, born in Lubbock, grew up in Kansas City, sixth album since 2013. B+(*)

Bob Mould: Blue Hearts (2020, Merge): Ex-Hüsker Dü singer-guitarist, 14th solo album since 1989. Reverberations and echoes of his early work. I've long since lost interest, but hear something I once admired every time. B+(*)

Munson-Hicks Party Supplies: Munson-Hicks Party Supplies (2020, Soft Launch): From Minneapolis, John Munson ("who does most of the singing") and Dylan Hicks ("who writes the songs") -- I filed it under Hicks because I've heard of him before. Erudite, measured, not much of a party. B+(**)

Keir Neuringer/Ensemble Klang: Elegies & Litanies (2019 [2020], Ensemble Klang): Alto saxophonist, American, wrote all of the pieces here, including spoken text. Group is Dutch, "playing only the newest of new music," with saxes, trombone, guitars, keys, and "stuff we like hitting" (sounds like Han Bennink fans). For one thing, the texts add to the music. Also, the 14:50 finale, "Litanies of Trees," is the best piece of ambient music I've heard in recent memory -- at least until the words 10-minutes in, which again are a plus. A- [bc]

Kyle Nix: Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories (2020, self-released): Alt-country singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, first solo album after five fiddling with the Turnpike Troubadours. Some good songs, hot fiddle, annoying tics. B+(*)

Jim Noir: A.M Jazz (2019, Dook): Singer-songwriter from Manchester, UK; plays guitar, bass, keyboard, drums; fifth album since 2005. Not jazz, but he enjoys letting waves of wound wash over, sort of a lighter, airier shoegaze effect. B+(**) [bc]

NZCA Lines: Pure Luxury (2020, Memphis Industries): British synthpop band, founded by Michael Lovett, third album. One foot in cheezy disco, the other less decisive. B+(*)

Okan: Espiral (2020, Lulaworld): Afro-Cuban group, led by Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne, based in Toronto. B+(***)

J.S. Ondara: Folk N' Roll, Vol. 1: Tales of Isolation (2020, Verve Forecast): Born in Kenya, was so taken with Dylan he moved to Minneapolis to retrace his steps. Second album. Has the guitar and harmonica down, phrasing but not quite voice, impressive and sometimes annoying. Does have one thing right: "nobody wins in war." B

The Orielles: Disco Volador (2020, Heavenly): British indie band ("surf pop, garage/psych"), from Halifax (West Yorkshire), second album. Shiny. B+(*)

Jason Palmer: The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella (2019 [2020], Giant Step Arts, 2CD): Trumpet player, albums since 2014. Isabella is the namesake of the Gardner Museum in Boston, which in 1990 was robbed of 13 famous paintings (including ones by Rembrandt, Degas, Vermeer, and Manet). Those paintings inspire 12 pieces, performed by a quintet with Mark Turner (especially strong on tenor sax), Joel Ross (vibes), Edward Perez (bass), and Kendrick Scott (drums). A-

Christopher Parker & Kelly Hurt: No Tears Suite (2020, Mahakala Music): Leaders (piano and voice) hail from Little Rock, where 63 years ago nine black students sought to attend classes in a previously all-white Little Rock Central High School. Gov. Orval Faubus led the white opposition, which was overcome only after Eisenhower sent the National Guard in to protect the students. This is their story, narrated by Hurt, performed by a sextet -- there is a second version performed by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. B+(**)

Esmé Patterson: There Will Come Soft Rains (2020, BMG): Singer-songwriter from Denver, started in indie folk band Paper Bird, fourth album since 2012, veering toward pop with help from Tennis (Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore). B+(**)

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris: Shamanism (2020, Mahakala Music): Brazilian avant tenor saxophonist, his (of late) frequent piano partner -- the first two have produced so much exhilarating music in recent years that I've gotten acclimated -- so it's worth noting the extra jolt the guitar provides. A-

Ivo Perelman Trio: Garden of Jewels (2020 [2021], Tao Forms): Tenor saxophonist, with longtime collaborators Matthew Shipp (piano) and Whit Dickey (drums). One of their more impressive outings. A- [cd] [01-22]

Chris Pitsiokos: Speak in Tongues and Hope for the Gift of Interpretation (2020, Relative Pitch): Alto saxophonist, solo, six exercises, each dedicated to master: Charlie Parker, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, John Zorn. Not so easy listening. B+(*) [bc]

Popcaan: Fixtape (2020, OVO Sound/Warner): Jamaican singer-songwriter Andre Hugh Sutherland, fourth album since 2014, draws on dancehall, punches it up. B+(**)

Poppy: I Disagree (2020, Sumerian): Alias for Moriah Rose Pereira ("American singer, songwriter, musician, YouTuber, and religious leader"). Originally signed with hip-hop label Mad Decent, but went to heavy metal Sumerian for her third album -- most obvious impact has been to her cover art, but there's some kind of musical synthesis as well, as she garnered a Grammy nomination for "Best Metal Performance" ("the first female artist to ever be nominated in the 30 year history of the category"). No reason for metal fans to put any more store in the Grammys than I do. And not amusing or weird enough for camp. B+(*)

Pottery: Welcome to Bobby's Motel (2020, PTKF): Five piece indie rock/garage punk band from Montreal, which is to say a bit much for punk. So no surprise this feels a bit luxe, but does rock a bit. B+(*)

Soho Rezanejad: Honesty Without Compassion Is Brutality (Volume 1) (2019, Silicone): Born in New York, based in Copenhagen, does electronics but main focus is voice. I was attracted by the title, which is a dilemma for critics who are often celebrated for "brutal honesty," or scoffed at as suckers or sell-outs. It's not always clear, just as it's difficult to take these cerebral pursuits as "acted compassion." B+(*) [bc]

Soho Rezanejad: Honesty Without Compassion Is Brutality (Volume 2) (2020, Silicone): More is more: more variety, more depth, more opaque. But the drums are real. B+(*) [bc]

Mara Rosenbloom Trio: Respiration (2020, Fresh Sound New Talent): Pianist, from New York, records since 2009. Trio with Sean Conley (bass) and Chad Taylor (drums), five originals plus two songs each by Ellington and Amina Claudine Myers. B+(**)

The Justin Rothberg Group: Hurricane Mouse (2020 [2021], self-released): Guitarist, based in New York, second or third album, Group includes Todd Groves (woodwinds), bass, drums, and percussion. Races along, guitar sometimes standing out. B+(*)

Ana Roxanne: Because of a Flower (2020, Kranky): RA describes her as "an intersec Southeast Asian musician based in Los Angeles," and notes her "love for singing." Bandcamp puts her in New York, but includes a Philippines tag. First album, after an EP. Voice gives way to some nice ambient electronica. B+(*)

Royce Da 5'9": The Allegory (2020, EOne): Detroit rapper Ryan Montgomery, eighth studio album since 2002. I get most of this, especially the smart girl in the skits, but what's with the anti-vaccine shit? B+(**)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Aymée Nuviola: Viento Y Tiempo: Live at the Blue Note Tokyo (2019 [2020], Top Stop Music): Cuban pianist, promoted by Dizzy Gillespie, based in Florida since 1996, 30+ albums since 1986. Nuviola is a Cuban singer/actress, handful of albums, makes this a pop album, though the horns and piano are jazzy enough, and the percussion is brilliant. A-

Samo Salamon & Friends: Almost Alone Vol. 1 (2020, Samo): Slovenian guitarist's quarantine project, eleven long-distance duos with as many guitarists. Still feel remarkably together. B+(***) [cd]

Jeannie Seely: An American Classic (2020, Curb): Country singer, from Pennsylvania, had her top charting single and album in 1966 ("Don't Touch Me," from The Seely Style), recorded annual albums through 1973, and has never gone more than eight years without a new album since, releasing this one shortly after turning 80. Eight (of 13) tracks feature guest vocalists, to various effects. B

Sleaford Mods: Spare Ribs (2021, Rough Trade): British duo, Andrew Fearn generates the beats, bass lines, and whatever, while Jason Williamson sings/rap, embodying embittered working class consciousness, despite considerable success over the last decade. I won't say the new one suggests they're going soft, but it does nick off some rough edges. B+(***)

James Solace: Mind Music (2020, Hot Creations, EP): British electronica producer James Burnham, aka Burnski (2005-20), Ladzinski (2009-11), Instinct (2017-20), James Infiltrate (2018), Daniel Akbar (2019), and now this (2018-20). Four strong beat pieces, 23:25. B+(**)

James Solace: Setting Sun/The Light (2020, Four Thirty Two, EP): Totals 31:52, but really just a two-sided single with three remixes tacked on for £4.95, so we'll honor the EP designation. B+(**)

Spanish Love Songs: Brave Faces Everyone (2020, Pure Noise): Rock band from Los Angeles, Dylan Slocum singer, described as punk but lacks the economy, compensating with volume. Not bad as this sort of thing goes, but by the time he pleaded "don't take me out back and shoot me," I was beginning to have second thoughts. B-

Special Interest: The Passion Of (2020, Thrilling Living): New Orleans group, but nothing you'd associate with the Big Easy -- Cleveland, maybe, or Leeds, new wave industrial not without a hint of dance beat. B+(***)

Sports Team: Deep Down Happy (2020, Island): English indie rock band, met at Cambridge but moved to London, first album after two EPs. Pretty upbeat, their happiness infectious, lead singer Alex Rice a voice that sticks with you. B+(***)

Macie Stewart & Kia Kohl: Recipe for a Boiled Egg (2020, Astral Spirits): Violin and cello duo, both also credited with voice. B+(*) [bc]

Dave Stryker: Baker's Circle (2019 [2021], Strikezone): Guitarist, long career, mainstream with a soft spot for soul jazz, and good taste in saxophonists: Walter Smith III makes a strong impression early here. With Jared Gold (organ), McClenty Hunter (drums), and extra percussion here and there. B+(***) [cd] [03-05]

Dougie Stu: Familiar Future (2020, Ropeadope): Doug Stuart, from Oakland, first album; plays bass, keyboards, percussion. Jeff Parker helps out on guitar. Fusion, funky but glossy. B

Sweeping Promises: Hunger for a Way Out (2020, Feel It): Boston post-punk group, Lira Mondai the singer, "angular guitars and sharp synth notes float atop a raw rhythm section." Sure, anyone can claim that, but not many start their influences/comparisons lists with Kleenex/LiLiPUT. A- [bc]

Aki Takase/Rudi Mahall: Fifty Fifty (2018 [2019], Trouble in the East): Piano-clarinet duo, opens with the whimsical percussion of toy piano. B+(**) [bc]

Teyana Taylor: The Album (2020, GOOD Music/Def Jam): R&B singer-songwriter (with lots of help) from New York, third album, second ran lite (22:52) but this one doesn't stop until 77:19. Too much, but most of it is cracking good. B+(***)

Teenage Halloween: Teenage Halloween (2020, Don Giovanni): Punk group from New Jersey, second album, fast and short: 10 songs, 23:23. B+(*)

Touché Amoré: Lament (2020, Epitaph): Post-hardcore band from Los Angeles, fifth studio album since 2009. Not something I gravitate towards, but listenable on their own terms, sometimes better than that. B+(**)

Two Weeks Notice: A Calm, Measured Response (2020, Fake Four, EP): Hip-hop crew from New Haven, rappers Tribal One and Mikal kHill, latter also plays fretless acoustic ukelele bass and keyboards. Six tracks, 16:44. How calm and measured? "Everything's going to be much better/ because it can't be worse than this." B+(**)

Ugly Beauty: Ugly Beauty (2019 [2020], self-released): Boston-based Monk tribute trio -- Andrew Stern (guitar), Jef Charland (bass), Jared Seabrook (drums) -- formed over a decade ago but this is their first album. Monk tunes, the signatures often hammered out of recognition. B+(*)

Cristina Vane: Old Played New (2020, Blue Tip): Born in Turin, Italy; studied classical voice before falling into classic country blues, picking up a resonator guitar, moving to Southern California to busk on the beach, winding up in Nashville. Voice strong and clear, guitar sharp, six songs (five I've tracked down to old masters), 27:57. B+(***)

Cristina Vane: The Magnolia Sessions (2020, Anti-Corp): Voice and guitar, mostly original songs, solo except for a chorus of cicadas. Left to her own devices, she leans folkie more than classic blues. Still impressive. B+(**)

Luke Vibert: Luke Vibert Presents Amen Andrews (2020, Hypercolour): British electronica producer, 30+ albums since 1993, some with aliases, like Wagon Christ, Plug, and Amen Andrews -- reviving the latter here, for a set of "raucous breakbeat bangers." B+(**)

Luke Vibert: Luke Vibert Presents Modern Rave (2020, Hypercolour): Main thing I'm struck by here is how little "modern rave" has changed from the hard-hitting dance rhythms rave pioneers like Vibert came up with in the early 1990s. But with so little new, retro just brings back memories of youth (relative, in my case). B+(***)

Luke Vibert: Luke Vibert Presents Rave Hop (2020, Hypercolour): I always have trouble making marginal distinctions in electronica, but generally approve of good dance beats. B+(**)

Rufus Wainwright: Unfollow the Rules (2020, BMG): Second-generation singer-songwriter, tenth album since 1998, some classified as baroque pop. Not sure what that means, but "This One's for the Ladies" is pretty awful. B-

Anna Webber: Rectangles (2019 [2020], Out of Your Head): Tenor saxophonist, quartet with piano (Marc Hannaford), bass (Adam Hopkins), and drums (Mark Ferber). One 34:30 live piece, plus an promo excerpt (the bit you can hear on Bandcamp) -- probably the hot spot. B+(**) [dl]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

BBQ With Fred Frith: Free Postmodernism/USA 1982 (1982 [2020], SÅJ): Initials stand for Bergische-Brandenburgisches Quartett, a mostly German free jazz group with Sven-Åke Johansson (drums), Rüdiger Carl (sax), Hans-Reichel (guitar), and Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (alto sax/clarinet/flutes), with some accordoin and voice, on an American tour, joined by Frith (violin/guitar/electronics) for a set in Allentown (31:12 of 81:36). B+(**)

Damily: Early Years: Madagascar Cassette Archives (1995-2002 [2020], Bongo Joe): Malagasy musician, Discogs lists four albums 2007-18, plus this earlier archive. B+(***)

The Disciples: For Those Who Understand (1991-95 [2020], Partial): British DJ/dub producer Russel Bell-Brown, aka Russ Disciple, aka Russ D, doing business since 1986. This was originally released on his Boom Shacka Lacka label in 1995, and reissued on vinyl in 2020. Always good, but probably a lot of similar material over the years. B+(**) [bc]

Erotique New Beat (1989 [2020], Mental Groove): Belgian dance music, from "the peak of the New Beat craze," a fake various artists compilation used as a low budget soundtrack. Most songs have lyrics but they are extremely rudimentary, few with any obvious erotic content, but dumb has its own appeal. B+(***) [bc]

Bonnie Hayes With the Wild Combo: Good Clean Fun (1982 [2020], Blixa Sounds): First album, a Christgau pick I missed at the time, subsequently followed by a 1984 EP he panned, and two albums since (1996, 2003) he ignored. Rocks hard enough I could see the attraction, but not sure it delivers much. New edition tacks on the panned EP and five demos. B+(**)

Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilimambogo Brothers: Buffalo Mountain (1975-85 [2020], No Wahala Sounds): Kenyan band, a pioneer in the guitar-driven benga style, a bit less flashy than the better-known Daniel Owino Misiani, but infectious nonetheless. Dates are approximate ("mid-1970s to mid-1980s"), with Kilonzo dying in 1987, aged 33. A- [bc]

Pedro Lima: Maguidala (1985 [2020], Bongo Joe): Touted as "the people's voice" after Sao Tomé gained independence from Portugal in 1975, died in 2019 boasting "his funerals were the biggest ever organized on the island." Four songs, sustained grooves averaging 9 minutes, voice is exemplary but the secret sauce is Leopoldino "Gúndu" Silva's guitar. A-

London Is the Place for Me 7: Calypso, Palm-Wine, Mento, Joropo, Steel & Stringband ([2019], Honest Jon's): I loved this label's first volume of "Trinidadian Calypso in London" back in 2002, but didn't realize it had turned into a long series. Mostly calypso, some West African, mostly minor fare. B+(**) [bc]

London Is the Place for Me 8: Lord Kitchener in England, 1948-1962 (1948-62 [2019], Honest Jon's): Single-artist volume in a multi-artist series, Aldwyn Roberts toured Jamaica and New York before arriving in England, where "he was much in demand for live perforances," returning to Trinidad in 1962 as a major star. Some familiar songs here, probably better heard on Klassic Kitchener, Volume One. B+(***) [bc]

Man Jumping: Jumpcut (1984 [2020], Emotional Rescue): Early electronica, a sort of minimalism meets disco, first of two 1984-87 records, half-dozen names I don't recognize. B+(**) [bc]

The Mighty Three's: Africa Shall Stretch Forth Her Hand (1978 [2020], Jah Fingers): Jamaican vocal trio, released some singles, this plus a dub album. B+(**) [bc]

Jay Migliori and Dick Twardzik: Jazz Workshop Quintet: A Harvard WHRB Session (1954 [2020], Fresh Sound): Tenor sax and piano, with vibes (Johnny Rae), bass, and drums. Twardzik is semi-infamous, having made a huge impression with Chet Baker (also Russ Freeman and Lars Gullin) then dying at age 24 (heroin overdose). Migliori (1930-2001) had a less meteoric career, although Discogs tells us that he "played on more than 4,000 commercial recordings, ranging from Charlie Parker to Tito Puente, and from the Beach Boys to Celine Dion. Radio shot, both principals and Rae have good spots. B+(**)

Mirah: You Think It's Like This but Really It's Like This (2000 [2020], K): Singer-songwriter Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, born in Philadelphia, went to Olympia for college and enjoyed the antifolk and riot grrrl scenes there -- she worked with Kimya Dawson there, and this debut album was co-produced by Phil Elvrum. Sometimes she sounds like a frailer Liz Phair, but she can also get tough and noisy, and even flashes a bit of swing on the closer. B+(***) [bc]

Lon Moshe & the Southern Freedom Arkestra: Love Is Where the Spirit Lies (1976-77 [2020], Strut): Vibraphone player Ron Martin, from Chicago, based in San Francisco, only album as leader but played with Juju (Oneness of Juju) in the 1970s. Vocals, spiritual airs. B+(**) [bc]

Tony Oxley: February Papers (1977 [2020], Discus Music): English avant-jazz drummer, released this album on Incus in 1977. Basically a strings group -- two violins, electric guitar, Barry Guy on double bass and bass guitar, which keeps it abstract and scratchy. B [bc]

Sun Ra Arkestra: Egypt 1971 (1971 [2020], Strut/Art Yard, 4CD): First two discs slightly expand on previously released sets (e.g., Nidhamu/Dark Myth Equation Visitation, 2009). This box adds two more discs of unreleased recordings, "In Heliopolis" and "Egyptian Oasis." Lots of typical Sun Ra moments, but becomes a chore to sit through in one pass. (I had to take a break.) B+(*) [bc]

Sun Ra: On Jupiter (1979 [2021], Enterplanetary Koncepts): Originally credited to Sun Ra and His Solar Arkestra, or more fully Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Myth Science Solar Arkestra. Hard-swinging big band, lots of organ/keyboards, vocals about UFO's. B+(***)

Buddy Rich: Just in Time: The Final Recording (1986 [2019], Gearbox): Drummer, introduced here as "the world's greatest," and while I don't concur, that wasn't an common view. Big band, from two nights at Ronnie Scott's, less than five months before he died (at 69). Band swings hard. Endes with Cathy Rich singing a blistering "Twisted." B+(*) [bc]

Riley: Grandma's Roadhouse (1970 [2010], Delmore Recording Society): This popped up in a 2020 reissues EOY list, but I can't find that recent a reissue date. Riley Watkins wrote or co-wrote 6 of 10 songs, credited with "lead & 12-string guitars & vocals" in what appears to be his only album, but another better known artist has similar credits, and co-wrote 4 songs (with rhythm guitarist Bill Eldredge): Gary Stewart, a few years before he started knocking out hits. The only song that's clearly Stewart's is "Drinkin' Them Squeezins." B [bc]

Max Romeo: Revelation Time (1975 [2020], 17 North Parade): Reggae singer-songwriter Maxwell Smith, first hit 1969, introduced to US audiences via his 1976 album War Ina Babylon (with Lee Perry). B+(*)

Schlippenbach & Johansson: Onkel Pös Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1978 (1978 [2021], SÅJ): Piano-drums duo, first names Alexander [von] and Sven-Åke. Spectacular piano, no doubt partly because the drummer never lets up. A- [bc]

Scorcha! Skins, Suedes and Style From the Streets 1967-1973 (1967-73 [2020], Trojan): Soundtrack tied to Paul Anderson's book on the UK skinhead subculture, same title, originally released as a box of 10 45rpm 7-inch singles. Cover shows a white couple in close dance embrace. Songs are mostly obscure, but the artists I recognize are Jamaicans: Desmond Dekker, Cornel Campbell, Tommy McCook, Ken Boothe, Phyllis Dillon ("Don't Stay Away"), the Melodians ("Sweet Sensation"). B+(*)

Phil Seymour: If You Don't Want My Love (1980-85 [2020], Sunset Blvd): There was a moment in 1976 when Dwight Twilley seemed like the future of rock and roll, although like other contenders (Nick Lowe, Bruce Springsteen) his key was a knack for summoning past glories. He came out of Oklahoma, which may have had something to do with why I was partial to him. Seymour was his drummer, and embarked on a short-lived solo career in 1980-82, another band (the Textones, 1984-85), and cancer (died 1993 at 41). These are mostly demos from around his first album, with a couple Textones live cuts. Note writers on title song: John Prine and Phil Spector. B+(**)

The Ibrahim Khalil Shihab Quintet: Spring (1968 [2020], Matsuli Music): South African pianist, originally Chris Schilder, first album (age 22), featuring tenor saxophonist Winston "Mankuku" Ngozi, with guitar, bass, and drums. Piano comparable to Abdullah Ibrahim, and some lovely saxophone. A- [bc]

Silkworm: In the West (1994 [2020], Comedy Minus One): Indie band, founded by Tim Midyett, Joel RL Phelps, and Andy Cohen in Missoula in 1985, changing their name from Ein Heit in 1987. Moved on to Seattle in 1990 and later to Chicago. Three later records on Touch & Go appeared in Christgau's CG, then they broke up in 2005 after their drummer was the victim of a car homicide. Early record, seems very much part of the time. B+(***)

Soul Love Now: The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993 (1975-93 [2020], Strut): Jimmy Gray started Black Fire as a magazine, then expanded it into a label, releasing Africa-oriented spiritual jazz and soul. Wayne Davis' gospel-inflected "Look at the People!" is a choice cut. B+(***) [bc]

Sugar Billy: Super Duper Love (1975 [2020], Mainstream): Willie Garner, from Detroit, cut some singles for New Day and Fast Track 1971-76, plus this one-shot album. Aims for funk, but he's got a lot of grit in his voice and blues in his soul. Reminds me of Swamp Dogg, but not as funny, nor as lazy when he sells out. B+(***)

Keith Tippett: The Monk Watches the Eagle (2004 [2020], Discus Music): British avant pianist, commissioned to write a large choir piece, with Julie Tippets contributing the text, and a pair of saxophone quartets. Probably should have turned it off as soon as I realized the setup, but I sat through to the end. Hated the voices, of course, and had mixed feelings about the saxes. Missed his piano. B- [bc]

Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976-1984) (1976-84 [2020], Uzelli): Turkish compilation, based on electrifying a folk instrument (the saz), so it fits somewhere on the ancient-to-postmodern continuum. B+(**)

Jack Wright/Michael Taylor: Kryptischgasse (2001 [2020], Right Brain, EP): Wright's a saxophonist (mostly alto) from Pittsburgh, credited by Discogs with 62 albums since 1982 (not including this one), only one I've heard, while Taylor, a bassist from Philadelphia, is even more obscure (I've yet to find him among the 42 Michael Taylors listed by Discogs). Duo, five tracks, 22:42. B+(*) [bc]

Old Music


Don & Dewey: Jungle Hop (1957-64 [1991], Specialty): Rock and blues duo, Don Harris (1938-99) and Dewey Terry (1937-2003), from Pasadena, recorded a bunch of singles for Specialty 1957-59, returned in 1964 -- enough (with some outtakes) to collect 25 songs here. No hits, missed them completely when I was snapping everything I could find in this "Legends of Specialty Series," but when I saw a cover scan I had to check them out. Tried a bit of everything, with filler covers like "Pink Champagne" and "Justine" faring best. B+(**)

Ensemble Klang: Tom Johnson: Cows, Chords & Combinations (2009 [2010], Ensemble Klang): Dutch new music group, instrumentation more like a jazz sextet (two reeds, trombone, piano, guitar, percussion). I was tempted to parse the cover with Johnson first (as with their more recent collaboration with Keir Neuringer), but he is only the composer here, with five short pieces from his Rational Melodies, plus three longer ones (13:16-17:28). The cows are a bit much, but "Vermont Rhythms" justifies its 17:28. B+(***) [bc]

Group Doueh & Cheveu: Dakhla Sahara Session (2017, Born Bad): Group from Western Sahara, which has mostly been under disputed Moroccan control since 1970. Several previous albums, this one joined by a French trio, adding guitar and synth to the group's guitars and synths. A- [bc]

Bonnie Hayes With the Wild Combo: Good Clean Fun (1982, Slash): Thought I'd strip the expanded reissue back to the original album to see how it holds up on its own. Better. B+(***)

Stan Hope: Stan Hope (1971, Mainstream): Pianist from New Jersey, handful of records since 1968, this a trio with bass (Peck Morrison) and drums (Walter Perkins). B+(**) [bc]

Charles McPherson: Charles McPherson (1971, Mainstream): Alto saxophonist, started with Prestige in 1964 as a bebopper, broadened his horizons with three albums for Mainstream 1971-73, then five for Xanadu 1975-81, and is still active in his 80s. With Lonnie Hilliard on trumpet, two electric guitars, more focus on groove. B+(**) [bc]

Solitaire Miles: The Solitaire Miles Jazztets With Willie Perkins (2008-10 [2018], Seraphic, EP): A four cut, 14:24 set of outtakes from three albums the singer did with the pianist and eight more musicians listed on the front cover -- Eric Schneider (clarinet), Art Davis (trumpet), and Jim Gailloreto (sax) got larger type. B+(*) [bc]

Solitaire Miles: Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas (2015, Seraphic): Several sources credit this to the singer, although her name doesn't appear on the front cover. B+(**)

Reggie Moore: Furioso (1972, Mainstream): Pianist, from New York, father was Billy Moore Jr. (1917-89), a pianist and arranger for Jimmie Lunceford, Charlie Barnet, and others. Trio with bass (Hank Haynie) and drums (Chip Lyles). Four originals, four covers, ranging from Wynton Kelly to Bo Diddley -- my fave is "High-Heeled Sneakers." B+(**) [bc]

Prince Alla: The Best of Prince Alla (1976-79 [1981], Redemption Sounds): Roots reggae singer, started with the Leaders, singles date from 1975, this 8-track LP was only his second, and I'm not totally clear on dates (especially the "Disco Style" versions which open and close (the latter being closer to dub). B+(**)

Jeannie Seely: The Seely Style (1966, Monument): First album, opens with her Hank Cochran-penned hit "Don't Touch Me. Cochran wrote (or co-wrote) five more songs, one with Seeley, who also shared one other credit. Countrypolitan production avoids ick, and she has a nice ballad voice, but the pop picks ("Yesterday," "Let It Be Me") aren't very inspired. B

Jeannie Seely: Thanks Hank! (1967, Monument): Subtitled: "Jeannie Seely Sings a 12 Song Salute to Hank Cochran." Cochran helped get her a contract, and wrote her hit single. A couple years later she did this album one better and married him (they divorced in 1971). More countrypolitan ballads, but has a nice consistency. B+(*)

Clark Terry & Bob Brookmeyer: The Power of Positive Swinging (1965, Mainstream): Bob Shad ran this label from 1964 to 1978, starting with reissues from Commodore (1939-54). This is the only Mainstream record on my old shopping list, so seemed like a good place to start with their catalog on Bandcamp. Quintet, leaders on flugelhorn/trumpet and trombone, backed by Hank Jones (piano), bass, and drums. B+(***)

Clark Terry/Bob Brookmeyer Quintet: Gingerbread Men (1966, Mainstream): Another quintet, also anchored by pianist Hank Jones. Vocals on "I Want a Little Girl." Terry is credited, but he's bouncing off someone else. B+(**) [bc]

Clark Terry: Mumbles (1966, Mainstream): Nickname for when he "sings," a slurry of gravel and muck I've seen more politely referred to as "verbal salad." I'm not aware of him ever doing it for an entire album. Even here, it's only on 3-4 cuts, and in limited doses it can be inspired. Of course, he also plays his superb trumpet and flugelhorn, with Jerome Richardson on reeds, Frank Anderson on organ and piano, two guitars, two basses, even more percussion (including Willie Bobo on congas). B+(**)

Cristina Vane: Troubled Sleep (2017, self-released, EP): Deep blues sound, but more impressive when she picks on the old songs. Billed as an EP: six songs, 27:33. B+(**)

Viktor Vaughn: Vaudeville Villain (2003, Sound-Ink): Rapper Daniel Dumile, born in London, parents from Trinidad and Zimbabwe, grew up on Long Island, first group (KMD) broke up after his brother (aka DJ Subroc) was hit and killed by a car. Released his first album as MF Doom in 1999, his second as King Geedorah, then two as Viktor Vaughn before returning to MF Doom (and other variants). Terrific flow here, much imagination. He's going places. A-

Ernie Wilkins and His Orchestra: Hard Mother Blues (1970, Mainstream): Saxophonist from St. Louis, 1919-99, played in and arranged for big bands, most famously Count Basie's, favoring the form into the 1990s -- he led an "Almost Big Band" in the 1980s, and his Kaleidoduke (1994) is a personal favorite. He shows up as a producer on many Mainstream releases, and takes the helm here, with light and frothy arrangements of tunes like "Dock of the Day" and "Funky Broadway," with organ and full horn sections. B+(*)

Pete Yellin: Dance of Allegra (1972, Mainstream): Saxophonist, pictured playing flute on the cover of this debut album, recorded a half-dozen more through 2008, many more side credits including stretches with Buddy Rich, Joe Henderson, Bob Mintzer and Tito Puente. Eddie Henderson opens strong on trumpet, Kenny Barron plays electric piano, Stanley Clarke bass, and Billy Hart and Dom Um Romao keep the rhythm bubbling. B+(**) [bc]

Further Sampling

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell: Spiders (2020, Out of Your Head Untamed): Alto sax/piano duets. [bc: 1/5, 12:31/42.46]: +

Binker and Moses: Escape the Flames (2017 [2020], Gearbox): Popular UK sax/drums duo. [bc: 1/6, 10:08/66:51):

Michael Formanek Quartet: Pre-Apocalyptic (2014 [2020], Out of Your Head Untamed): Bassist, with Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver. [bc: 2/7, 22:06/66:08]: ++

Mark Helias/Tim Berne: Blood From a Stone (2020, Radiolegs): Bass/alto sax duo. [bc:1/5, 9:07/51:04]: +

Steve Lehman: Xenakis and the Valedictorian (2020, Pi, EP): Alto sax solo, a slim sample from a slim quarantine project. [bc: 1/10, 0:46/9:06]: -

Roscoe Mitchell: Splatter (2017 [2020], I Dischi Di Angelica): Big band, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, plus the saxophonist on his compositions. [bc: 1/3, 5:32/74:07]: -

Neek/Blazer Sound System: NMX004: Sanctuary Mixtape (2020, Noods Radio): Hardcore/jungle mixtape, one side each, Discogs has both close to 45:00, Bandcamp "previews" 15:00 of "Side A," then muted "Side B" after a similar preview. [bc: 2/2, excerpts]: +

Evan Parker/Matthew Wright/Trance Map+ [Adam Linson/John Coxon/Ashley Wales]: Crepuscle in Nickelsdorf (2017 [2019], Intakt): Soprano sax, turntables, electronics. [bc: 2/7, 13:48/58:44]: +

Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band: José Martí En Nueva York (2019 [2020], Greenleaf Music): Inspired by the Cuban writer/revolutionary's 1891 poems. [bc: 3/7, 24:19/61:24]: +

Bob Vylan: We Live Here (2020, Venn, EP): Brit rapper, biracial I gather, dash of Sleaford Mods; title single a smash anti-anti-immigrant anthem. [bc: 2/8, 5:20/18:41]: ++

Dan Weiss Starebaby: Natural Selection (2020, Pi): Drummer-led quintet with two piano/keyb players (Matt Mitchell and Craig Taborn), guitar (Ben Monder), and electric bass (Trevor Dunn). [bc: 29:02/78:14]: -

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:


Open Mike Eagle: Anime Trauma and Divorce (2020, Auto Reverse): Underground rapper, has a decade-plus of sly, clever, often inscrutable albums. First spin sounded like another one, second got a bit catchier, further plays revealed further depth, which I should have been clued to by the title. [was: B+(**)] A-

Young M.A: Herstory in the Making (2019, M.A Music): New York Rapper Katorah Marrero, first album after EP Herstory, a couple mixtapes, a hit single ("OOOUUU"). Gender not always clear, especially when she goes on a rant about her "bitches." [was: B+(*)] B+(***)

Additional Consumer News:

Grades on artists in the old music section.

Music Weeks

Current count 33007 [33007] rated (+0), 219 [219] unrated (-0).

Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:

Notes

Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [lp] based on physical lp (vinyl)
  • [dvd] based on physical dvd (rated more for music than video)
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sc] available at soundcloud.com
  • [sp] available at spotify.com
  • [yt] available at youtube.com
  • [os] some other stream source
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo