Monday, July 3, 2017

Music Week

Music: Current count 28359 [28324] rated (+35), 366 [368] unrated (-2).

Most of the week's new finds made it into the June Streamnotes post which came out on Friday -- the best new one is yet another good one from François Carrier. The Streamnotes post included a 30-album wild-ass guess at what a mid-year critics poll list might look like, with my grades for the 27 albums I had checked out. I've since added the 3 I had missed, so the top-30 grade curve looks like this:

  1. A-: Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, The XX, Syd, Run the Jewels, Khalid, Joey Bada$$
  2. B+(***): Migos, Spoon, Chris Stapleton, Paramore, Jens Lekman
  3. B+(**): Future, Vince Staples, SZA, Japandroids, Cloud Nothings
  4. 8+(*): Sampha, Drake, Thundercat, Jay Som, Mount Eerie, Slowdive, Laura Marling, Stormzy
  5. B: Arca
  6. B-: Father John Misty, Perfume Genius, Magnetic Fields
  7. C: Dirty Projectors

That's still pretty left-shifted from normal, but note I decided to include Jens Lekman and Magnetic Fields (both Christgau picks) instead of artists with more supporting data such as Ryan Adams, Julie Byrne, Alex G, and/or Harry Styles. I'll also concede that I can imagine other people liking most of the bottom half of the list more than I do (well, Perfume Genius and Dirty Projectors seem pretty hard to like).

I got a couple of reprieves from my computer problems. The website ISP found a bit of free disk space, but at 95% used it could go away fast, and the company has become impossible to communicate with. I got around my local browser problem by switching to Chromium, which has held up fairly well, although I haven't put anyway near the load on it I used to do with Firefox. I still need to save everything off, do a fresh operating system load, and put it all back together again, but it's tempting to keep muddling by for a while until I face up to all that. It would be good, for instance, to update the Christgau website before I break my local copy. It would be even better if I could migrate the website to HTML5 and UTF-8 when it comes back. Presumably there are tools that help with that sort of thing, but I haven't searched them out yet. We've also talked a bit about making it more phone-friendly or even converting it to some kind of phone ap, but that's another learning curve. Anyone who has advice or suggestions about this, please get in touch through normal channels.

Tried turning on the old Dell laptop today, but it came up with an ominous message about the "disk drive failing" that suggests it's soon to be a goner. It's running Ubuntu 10.04, so it's even further behind than my main machine. For most practical purposes I replaced it with a Chromebook a few years ago, but I never got into the habit of using cloud storage, so I really just use it for web surfing. I suppose a new real laptop is in order.

Meanwhile, about the only thing I've actually been enjoying has been cooking. The hardest thing has been lining up guests so I get an excuse to stretch a little -- I still haven't done the big Korean bash I planned out 3-4 months ago. I did cook Indian for my sister's birthday, but that's about all. On the other hand, I've been picking up small packages of meat and scattered vegetables that I can cook for the two of us. Today I turned a pound of hamburger into picadillo -- sort of a Cuban sloppy joe mix -- served with pan-fried potatoes and fried egg (a "caballo").

Lately I've found myself going back to Chinese recipes, some I haven't made in years. On Sunday I made a version of sweet & sour pork and some fried rice. I made lettuce wraps with a chicken and pine nut filling and fried cellophane noodles. I found some frozen pork chops and turned them into pork & pickle soup (the "pickle" is Szechuan preserved vegetable -- mustard stem), adding some dried mushrooms. Another time I made braised pork ribs with fermented black beans. Then there was the "hoisin-exploded" chicken. I have a pretty good pantry of Chinese odds and ends, so I can usually turn a package of meat or fish and whatever vegetables are handy into a remarkably tasty meal. The hard part is keeping fresh scallions and ginger on hand.

My mother was the master of always having a pantry (and two freezers) stocked with anything she might need should, say, a relative show up in need of a full meal and maybe a pie or cake. After she died, I made three typical cakes, knowing that all the ingredients would be on hand. We grew up on stories of Aunt Hester receiving guests at 3AM with full meals prepared on her wood-fired stove. I don't think Mom ever had to do that, but she was prepared.

New records rated this week:

  • Algiers: The Underside of Power (2017, Matador): [r]: B-
  • Sheryl Bailey & Harvie S: Plucky Strum: Departure (2017, Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Erik Bogaerts/Hendrik Lasure/Pit Dahm: Bogaerts & Lasure + Dahm (2016, self-released): [bc]: B-
  • Burial: Subtemple/Beachfires (2017, Hyperdub, EP): [r]: B
  • Julie Byrne: Not Even Happiness (2017, Ba Da Bing): [r]: B+(**)
  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur: Oneness (2015 [2017], FMR): [cd]: A-
  • Playboi Carti (2017, AWGE/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Cashmere Cat: 9 (2017, Mad Love/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dirty Projectors: Dirty Projectors (2017, Domino): [r]: C
  • Silke Eberhard Trio: The Being Inn (2016 [2017], Intakt): [cd]: A-
  • Emperor X: Oversleepers International (2017, Tiny Engines): [r]: B+(***)
  • Noga Erez: Off the Radar (2017, City Slang): [r]: B
  • The Feelies: In Between (2017, Bar/None): [r]: B+(**)
  • Forest Swords: Compassion (2017, Ninja Tune): [r]: B-
  • Llop: J.Imp (2017, El Negocito): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Lorde: Melodrama (2017, Lava/Republic): [r]: A-
  • Father John Misty: Pure Comedy (2017, Sub Pop): [r]: B-
  • Oddisee: The Iceberg (2017, Mello Music Group): [r]: A-
  • Aruán Ortiz: Cubanism: Piano Solo (2016 [2017], Intakt): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Mike Reed: Flesh & Bone (2016 [2017], 482 Music): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Smino: Blkswn (2017, Zero Fatigue/Downtown): [r]: B+(**)
  • Songhoy Blues: Résistance (2017, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sorority Noise: You're Not as ___ as You Think (2017, Triple Crown): [r]: B+(**)
  • Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory (2017, Def Jam): [r]: B+(**)
  • SZA: Ctrl (2017, Top Dawg/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker: Toxic: This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People (2015 [2017], ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(**)

Old music rated this week:

  • Emperor X: Tectonic Membrane/Thin Strip on an Edgeless Platform (2004, Discos Mariscos): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wallace Roney: According to Mr. Roney (1988-91 [1997], 32 Jazz, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wallace Roney: No Job Too Big or Too Small (1987-93 [1999], Savoy Jazz): [r]: B+(***)
  • Wallace Roney: Mistérios (1994, Warner Brothers): [r]: B-
  • Wallace Roney: No Room for Argument (2000, Stretch): [r]: B+(*)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur: Oneness (FMR)
  • Free Radicals: Outside the Comfort Zone (Free Rads): September 23
  • Dusan Jevtovic: No Answer (Moonjune)
  • Chris Pasin and Friends: Baby It's Cold Outside (Planet Arts): October 6
  • Talinka: Talinka (Moonjune)