Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Music Week

Music: current count 31798 [31749] rated (+49), 259 [262] unrated (-3).

I had a lot of stuff I wanted to write about this week, but never found the time, and it doesn't look like that'll change over the next several days. Therefore, let's just dump this out, and try again next week.


New records reviewed this week:

100 Gecs: 1000 Gecs (2019, Dog Show): Dylan Brady and Laura Les (aka osno1), electropop so cartoonish I've seen it classified as bubblegum bass. Annoying to start, eventually found some kind of groove. B

Jay Anderson: Deepscape (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): Bassist, has appeared on close to 250 albums since breaking in with Woody Herman in 1978, and has led a few. Opens and closes solo, the tracks in beween with Billy Drewes (bass clarinet/alto/soprano sax), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), and Matt Wilson (drums), sometimes adding harmonium (Frank Kimbrough) and/or percussion (Rogerio Boccato). B+(**)

Caterina Barbieri: Ecstatic Computation (2019, Editions Mego): Italian composer, based in Berlin, "working in the fields of analog and digital synthesis and minimalism." Fourth album. All synth, rooted in minimalism but building something more out of such basics. A-

Michael Bisio/Kirk Knuffke/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Requiem for a New York Slice (2018 [2019], Iluso): Bass/cornet/cello, the strings on the scratchy side. Dedicated to the late Mike Panico (1965-2018), a founder of Relative Pitch Records. B+(*) [bc]

Black Midi: Schlagenheim (2019, Rough Trade): British experimental rock band; two guitars, bass and drums; three credited vocalists, but the main guy is pretty distinctive; first album after some singles. Most similar band I recognize is Pere Ubu, but I don't instantly love them. Still, not a comparison I make lightly. B+(**)

Blood Orange: Angel's Pulse (2019, Domino): British r&b singer Dev Hynes, started as Lightspeed Champion, fourth album under this moniker. Mix of soft soul with edgier moments. B+(**)

Daniel Carter/Tobias Wilner/Djibril Toure/Federico Ughi: New York United (2016 [2019], 577): Best known for his work with William Parker, Carter plays a range of horns -- alto sax, tenor sax, flute, and trumpet -- against Wilner's jazztronica (electronics, synths, beats), backed with bass and drums. B+(***)

Cheekface: Therapy Island (2019, New Professor Music): Los Angeles band, Greg Katz the singer-guitarist, backed by bass and drums. Reminds me somewhat of the Dead Milkmen. Not as funny, but not for lack of trying. B+(**)

Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): Singer-songwriter from Michigan, second album, doesn't neglect the guitar. B+(*)

Flying Lotus: Flamagra (2019, Warp): LA producer, filmmaker, more of the latter but better known for his records and his work with other artists (e.g., Thundercat, Kamasi Washington). I've usually found his records too scattered, and this 26-cut, 66:57 mess certainly is. Still, lots of good bits in the mix. B+(**)

Future: Future Hndrxx: The Wizrd (2019, Epic/Freebandz): Rapper Nayvadius Wilburn, from Atlanta, did an album Hndrxx in 2017 and refers back here. Not as clear as I'd like, but runs long and steady. B+(**)

Hilliard Greene: Spirituals (2019, Unseen Rain): Bassist, long stretch as Jimmy Scott's music director, member of the group the Jazz Expressions, has recorded on several notable free jazz records (like Billy Bang's Da Bang). Had a solo album in 2003, again here, a deep roots exploration. Some voice, just enough to identify "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray." B+(*)

Augie Haas: Dream a Little Dream (2019, Playtime Music): Trumpet player, from Wisconsin, based in New York, has a couple previous records, plays and sings standards here, the songbook expanded to inlude doo-wop ("Earth Angel," "Stay") and soft rock ("Love Me Tender," "Stand by Me," "Blackbird"). Backed by Carmen Staaf (piano/organ), bass, drums, and a lot of strings. Not a great singer, but you'll probably find yourself blotting him out by singing along. B+(**) [cd]

Rich Halley: Terra Incognita (2018 [2019], Pine Eagle): Tenor saxophonist, from Oregon, cover pictures are all rugged high desert, but he trekked to Brooklyn to record this, with Matthew Shipp's regular piano trio (Michael Bisio and Newman Taylor Baker). Shipp has played with a lot of avant saxophonists. He seems more content than usual to lay back and fill in. Halley opens fierce, the group chemistry only really developing with the long off-speed closer, appropriately titled "The Journey." A- [cd]

Aldous Harding: Designer (2019, 4AD): Singer-songwriter from New Zealand, third album. Easy listening, but not without its beguiling passages. B

Randy Houser: Magnolia (2019, Stoney Creek): Country singer-songwriter from Mississippi, fifth album. Big gestures, deep emotions, strong voice. B+(**)

Jelena Jovovic: Heartbeat (2018 [2019], self-released): Jazz singer-songwriter from Serbia, moved to South Africa, later Austria. First album, wrote lyrics to several jazz melodies, music and lyrics to the rest. Only picks up a bit toward the end. B- [cd]

Juice Wrld: Death Race for Love (2019, Interscope): Los Angeles rapper Jarad Higgins, second album. Key lyric: "I don't want anyone to think I'm an asshole." Still, the whine wore me out. B-

Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI (2019, 3Qtr): No relation to the late saxophonist. This one (Steve Thomas Lacy-Moya) hails from Compton, sings alt-r&b, plays guitar and bass. Best known from the Internet, but released an EP (Steve Lacy's Demo) in 2017, now this debut album. Some funk, some glitz, nice beats. B+(*)

Lady Lykez: Muhammad Ali EP (2019, Hyperdub, EP): MC from North London, title track a remix with Lioness rapping and Scratchclart producing, who returns for two more rapid-fire bits. D'Lux produced the change of pace. Four cuts, 13:43. B+(*) [bc]

Alex Lahey: The Best of Luck Club (2019, Dead Oceans): Budding power pop star, from Australia, likes her guitar riffs but drops back to keyboards for the slower ones. Second album. Good advice: "Don't Be So Hard on Yourself." B+(**)

Lil Nas X: 7 (2019, Columbia, EP): Atlanta rapper Montero Lamar Hill, leads off with a remix of his breakout single, "Old Town Road," with Billy Ray Cyrus adding to the country twang. Six more songs plus the original single, total 18:44. B+(*)

Maluma: 11:11 (2019, Sony Music Latin): Colombian pop star, fourth album, noticed him on Madonna's latest, and she returns the favor here ("Soltera"). That's the only song I can follow, so I'm mostly going by sound: beats good, strings less. B+(**)

Mannequin Pussy: Patience (2019, Epitaph): Punk group from Philadelphia, principally singer-guitarist Marisa Dabice. Third album, assuming you count short ones (this one packs 10 cuts into 25:37). B+(**)

Rico Nasty/Kenny Beats: Anger Management (2019, Sugar Trap, EP): Rapper Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly and producer Kenneth Blume, nine hard and fast tracks, 18:40. Much anger, barely managed. B+(**)

Jai Paul: Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) (2013 [2019], XL): British songwriter/producer, of Indian descent, had a couple singles and was working on an eponymous album when a set of his demos were leaked, to some acclaim and the artist's horror. He litigated to get the leaks suppressed, shelved the project, and has scarcely been heard from since. This is the first official release of the leaked material, with most pieces labelled "(unfinished)." Most definitely, but flashes here and there do match the fuss. B+(**)

PUP: Morbid Stuff (Rise): Canadian band, name an acronym for Pathetic Use of Potential, Stefan Babcock the singer, backed by guitar-bass-drums. Third album, advertised as punk, but don't really hear it. Not that they don't rock. B

Queen Key: Eat My Pussy (Again) (2019, Machine Entertainment Group): Chicago rapper Ke'Asha McClure, first album (following last year's Eat My Pussy EP), reminds one of CupcakKe -- her more "mature" work as opposed to her salacious debut Cum Cake, but then Key is a year older, and judging from her forced rhymes and slack beats not as talented. Still, she remains fearless and defiant in a world where trust is hard to come by, and takes her pleasure where she can. A-

Resavoir: Resavoir (2015-19 [2019], International Anthem): Chicago project, written, arranged, and produced by Will Miller (trumpet, keyboards, sampler). A vast orchestra, flows nice, sometimes lovely, spoken word helps, choral voices less. B [bc]

Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life (2019, Capitol): Singer-songwriter, first album, has won some prizes. I could see her developing into some kind of pop star, but may be too adult too early. B+(**)

ShitKid: [Detention] (2019, PNKSLM): Swedish punk auteur Åsa Söderqvist, morphing into a band with the addition of bassist Lina Ericsson, the fleshed out sound revealing itself as old-fashioned rock and roll. Short album by most standards (8 cuts, 23:54), but long by theirs. B+(*)

Skepta: Ignorance Is Bliss (2019, Boy Better Know): British grime MC, Joseph Adenuga Jr., called his first (2007) album Greatest Hits without having any. Scored a breakthrough last time, and is pretty steady here. B+(**)

Sote: Parallel Persia (2019, Diagonal): Ata Ebtekar, Iranian, born in Germany, based in California, handful of records, this a mix of Iranian acoustic instruments (santoor, tar, tombak) and electronics, fast and frenzied, maybe even cartoonish. B+(*) [bc]

Emily A. Sprague: Water Memory (2017, self-released): Electronica composer, from the Catskills but based in Los Angeles. Ambient, sheets of synthy sound, simple and eloquent. B+(*)

Emily A. Sprague: Mount Vision (2019, self-released): Similar, less watery, more engaging. B+(**)

Supa Bwe: Just Say Thank You (2019, Freddy Got Magic/Empire, EP): Chicago rapper Frederick Burton, "Bwe" reportedly pronounced "boy/boo/buoy," second solo project, 7 cuts, 20:06, has something to say about entropy. B+(*)

Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (2019, Republic): British poet, spoken word artist, seems to have lost the beat from her breakthrough 2014 album (Everybody Down), making her less of a rapper, more of a preacher (or maybe just a scold). B+(*)

Yves Theiler Trio: We (2018 [2019], Intakt): Swiss pianist, second trio album with Luca Sisera (bass) and Lukas Mantel (drums). All originals, most strong on rhythm. B+(**)

Turning Jewels Into Water: Map of Absences (2019, FPE): Percussion duo, a mix of Val Jeanty (from Haiti, aka Val-Inc) and Ravish Momin (from India, has done some jazz records I admire, with or without his group Tarana). Scattered voices and electronics flesh out the intensive beats. B+(***)

Turning Jewels Into Water: Which Way Is Home? (2018, FPE, EP): Introduced the duo last year, with five cuts, 21:01. Same intensity, maybe a bit more abstract. B+(**) [bc]

Faye Webster: Atlanta Millionaires Club (2019, Secretly Canadian): Singer-songwriter, based in Atlanta, various sources slot her in folk or country (note the pedal steel), but her slight voice and melodies don't fit there, any more than the token rap makes her trap. B

The Yawpers: Human Question (2019, Bloodshot): Denver band, Americana as deep as their Whitman-honoring name, can be astute, can be catchy, can push their luck a bit too hard. B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down: Live 1973 (1973 [2019], Omnivore): Bluesman, originally from Memphis, inspired by a chance meeting with Robert Johnson, moved to Chicago in 1941, cut a few records in 1946-52 but didn't really get on track until the late 1960s. Recorded this intimate solo set in St. Louis. B+(**)


Grade (or other) changes:

Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall (2014 [2019], Astral Spirits): Tenor sax and drums duo, improv pieces in a Lisbon studio. The drummer likes to kick up a racket, so this runs hard and fast. Back in June I tentatively reviewed this based on 2/5 Bandcamp cuts. Later got the CD, which burns bright the entire 48:53. [Was B+(**)] A- [cd]


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ezra Weiss Big Band: We Limit Not the Truth of God (OA2): August 16
  • Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband: Tor & Vale (Moonjune)