Monday, August 8, 2016


Music Week

Music: Current count 26901 [26875] rated (+26), 420 [423] unrated (-3).

Another week that's liable to make people think I'm an easy grader, or at least one that has a few soft spots that make him an easy mark: six A- records, eleven (or twelve counting the grade change) high B+, that's something like 65%. In my defense, several things came into alignment this past week. Main one was that I did a major update of Robert Christgau's website, which got me rumaging through recent EW lists for things I hadn't gotten to yet, which yielded two solid A- records (Konono No. 1, Lori McKenna) and a bunch of just-unders (Leland Sundries, Dawn Oberg, Walter Salas-Humara, older Lori McKenna). I also caught up with a purple patch in the new jazz queue: a batch of Clean Feeds, plus new albums by old favorites Stephan Crump and Steve Lehman. Also stumbled upon some old records I had been looking for (Peter Kuhn, Ellery Eskelin, Audio One), looked up some big-name recent jazz I didn't get in the mail (Kenny Garrett, Charlie Hunter, Joe Lovano, Markus Stockhausen). Didn't leave much time for bottom trawling. In this company, the dud of the week was Garrett's Do Your Dance -- something I might of suspected given that he snagged the cover of Downbeat (nearly all of my old JCG duds had been on Downbeat's cover).

I don't usually make a point of linking to music, but the search for Crump's cover led me to his Bandcamp page. Note that to start with the first cut, you have to scroll down to the song listing and pick it from there. More records there, including some early ones I should check out, but I don't see my favorite one, 2010's Reclamation. I reviewed this from CD, but Bandcamp is one of the best things that's happened for someone who wants to review a broad swathe of records like I do. Also, I think, good for customers, who among other things get to sanity check reviewers like me.

While I'm at it, here's a YouTube link for the song of the week, Dawn Oberg's "Republican Jesus", from her short 2015 LP Bring. Probably the most pointed political song since Todd Snider's "Conservative Christian, Right Wing, Republican, Straight White White American Male" -- actually more pointed since the analysis is deeper and more detailed, but the subject is pretty much the same.

A couple things I could use some feedback on:

  • Does Spotify (or any other non-Apple streaming source) have much that Rhapsody/Napster doesn't? I ran into this question because there's at least one Lori McKenna album I couldn't find on Rhapsody or Bandcamp that seems to be on Spotify. I tried Spotify's "free" service back when it came out (at least in the US) and managed to write up a couple albums based on it, but generally hated everything about it (the ads, of course, but also the search and the general greediness of the application).

  • Are there any MP3 players which can be managed from Linux more or less as seemlessly as iPods under iTunes on Windows (or presumably Macs, something I refuse to even consider)? I have an iPod Nano which I haven't used since my last Windows computer bit the dust (fittingly, during one of those "automatic software updates"). Someone mentioned Sansa Clip to me: from what I gather you can mount it and poke files into it, but not much more. Searching this question gives me a lot of Linux applications like Amarok, XMMS, and RhythmBox -- something else I should learn more about, but not what I'm asking.

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New records rated this week:

  • Audio One: The Midwest School (2014, Audiographic): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Carate Urio Orchestra: Ljubljana (2015 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Stephan Crump: Stephan Crump's Rhombal (2016, Papillon): [cd]: A-
  • Whit Dickey/Kirk Knuffke: Fierce Silence (2015 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Kenny Garrett: Do Your Dance! (2016, Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hieroglyphic Being: The Disco's of Imhotep (2016, Technicolour): [r]: B+(***)
  • Charlie Hunter: Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth (2016, Ground Up/Decca): [r]: B+(***)
  • Konono No. 1/Batida: Konono No. 1 Meets Batida (2016, Crammed Discs): [r]: A-
  • The Kropotkins: Portents of Love (2015, Mulatta): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Lehman: Sélébéyone (2016, Pi): [cd]: A-
  • Leland Sundries: Music for Outcasts (2016, L'Echiquier): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lori McKenna: The Bird & the Rifle (2016, CN/Thirty Tigers): [r]: A-
  • Dawn Oberg: Bring (2015, Blossom Theory): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jason Roebke Octet: Cinema Spiral (2014 [2015], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Walter Salas-Humara: Work: Part One (2015, Sonic Pyramid): [r]: B+(**)
  • Walter Salas-Humara: Explodes and Disappears (2016, Sonic Pyramid): [r]: B+(***)
  • Susana Santos Silva/Lotte Anker/Sten Sandell/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Jon Fält: Life and Other Transient Storms (2015 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Stirrup: Cut (2016, Clean Feed): [cd]: A-
  • Markus Stockhausen/Florian Weber: Alba (2015 [2016], ECM): [dl]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Joe Lovano Quartet: Classic! Live at Newport (2005 [2016], Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)

Old music rated this week:

  • Ellery Eskelin/Andrea Parkins/Jim Black: Arcanum Moderne (2002 [2003], Hatology): [r]: A-
  • Peter Kuhn Quartet: The Kill (1981 [1982], Soul Note): [r]: A-
  • Leland Sundries: The Foundry EP (2012, L'Echiquier): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lori McKenna: Paper Wings and Halo (2000, Orcheard): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lori McKenna: Pieces of Me (2001, Signature Sounds): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lori McKenna: The Kitchen Tapes (2001 [2004], Gyrox): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lori McKenna: Bittertown (2004, Signature Sounds): [r]: B+(**)


Grade changes:

  • Dawn Oberg: Rye (2012, Blossom Theory): [r]: [was: B+(*)] B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jim Black Trio: The Constant (Intakt): advance, August 24
  • Don Cherry/John Tchicai/Irène Schweizer/Léon Francioli/Pierre Favre: Musical Monsters (1980, Intakt): advance, August 24
  • Barbara Dane with Tammy Hall: Throw It Away . . . (Dreadnaught Music): August 19
  • Peter Kuhn/Dave Sewelson/Gerald Cleaver/Larry Roland: Our Earth/Our World (pfMentum)
  • Francisco Pais Lotus Project: Verde (Product of Imagination): September 23
  • John Stowell/Michael Zilber Quartet: Basement Blues (Origin): August 19