Monday, July 13, 2020


Music Week

July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33607 [33567] rated (+40), 225 [212] unrated (+13).

Trumpet player Eddie Gale (78) died last week. He had a spotty recording career, but always came up with something interesting when he appeared. He achieved a measure of fame for his role on Cecil Taylor's 1966 album Unit Structures, then followed that with two excellent albums on Blue Note: Ghetto Music (1968) and Black Rhythm Happening (1969). He had a revival c. 2004 with reissue of his albums on Water and a new one, Afro Fire.

I added a lengthy midyear list by Stephen Thomas Erlewine to my metacritic file (code SE). He added first mentions of 10 new albums (mostly country), plus a bunch of reissues and vault music. He shows some favor there for lavish box sets, and also seems to get good service from Ace, Bear Family, Cherry Red, and Omnivore. I'm so jealous.

Robert Christgau published his July Consumer Guide mid-week. I was originally pleased to see that for four 2020 releases I had previously rated A- got the same grade from him (Chicago Farmer, Bob Dylan, Hinds, Waxahatchie), and that the other new records I had graded lower also got lower grades from him (Terry Allen, Jason Isbell). That also left some things I hadn't heard (or in some cases hadn't heard of), but further digging revealed that I had given the Daniele Luppi/Parquet Courts EP a B+(***) back in January 2018. I played most of the rest, still procrastinatig on the Sonic Youth bootleg (one of way too many for my purposes, although I may reconsider when I get around to formatting Joe Yanosik's Consumer Guide for his corner of my website) and Joe Levy's Uprising 2020 playlist (not my idea of a real thing, although so immediately relevant to the times I expect to listen to it).

I got to the Thiago Nassif and Moor Jewelry A- records after my cut-off, but figured why make you wait, especially given that there are other ways to find my grade. Usually takes me 8-16 hours to catch everything up after my break, so I always listen to a few records during that time. (Four more in the scratch file at present, not counting these two.)

Quite a bit of unpacking below, many from Lithuania. Also got a hard copy of Luis Lopes' Believe, Believe, which I had given a B+(***) to based on streaming. I looked for records by the late bassist Simon H. Fell. Found quite a few, but mostly Bandcamp with most tracks missing, so didn't manage to review much. Took a dive into pianist Hampton Hawes, thanks to a question. I will answer that (and whatever else comes in) later during the week. I've gotten into a rut where I start each day off by playing something classic, then when I settle down in front of the computer, find it easier to dial up something to stream. I'll make a conscious effort to catch up a bit next week.


New records reviewed this week:

Anteloper: Tour Beats Vol. 1 (2020, International Anthem, EP): Duo, Jaimie Branch (trumpet) and Jason Nazary (drums), did an album in 2018 (Kudu), add 4 cuts (22:38) here. Mostly electronics for both of them, although her riffing over the beats is pretty surefire. B+(*)

Arca: Kick I (2020, XL): Venezuelan electronica producer Alejandra Ghersi, born in Caracas, lived in Connecticut for a few years before returning, wound up in Barcelona. Fourth album. Arch, arty, arcane. Doubt it's something I would ever grow to like much, but there's something pretty unique about it. B+(*)

Bananagun: The True Story of Bananagun (2020, Full Time Hobby): Australian group, first album, elements of jangle pop. B+(*)

Beauty Pill: Sorry You're Here (2020, Taffety Punk Theatre Company): Washington DC band, principally Chad Clark, released an EP in 2001 leading up to a 2004 album, then nothing until 2015, and LP/EP releases this year. Mostly electronics, some spoken word or other trip-hoppy vocal shadings, quietly impressive if not quite convincing. Does make me wonder if I underrated their 2015 album. [PS: Not much.] B+(***)

Beauty Pill: Please Advise (2020, Northern Spy, EP): Five songs (22:31), all proper with vocals, electronics give way to guitar. B+(*)

Clint Black: Out of Sane (2020, Blacktop/Thirty Tigers): Country singer-songwriter, 1989 debut a big hit, twelfth album (skipping two Xmas joints). I hadn't heard anything by him since a dreadful 2004 album (his eighth and last top-10 country chart). This one sounds good enough, not that better songs wouldn't help. B+(*)

Clem Snide: Forever Just Beyond (2020, Ramseur): Vehicle for singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay since 1998, not the first band named from William S. Burroughs. Plain-spoken, not sure you can even call it Americana, leans on God (per the title), not sure that qualifies one way or the other, but leaves me out. B+(**)

Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (2018 [2020], Grizzley Music): Drums, organ, and saxophones/flute. Ten songs, all by William Parker -- a bit surprising, given the lack of avant frills. Parker's long struck me as a composer who likes to keep it simple, which is why his tunes hold up in such a different context. B+(***) [cd] [07-17]

Dream Wife: So When You Gonna . . . (2020, Lucky Number): London-based girl group, lead singer Rakel Mjöll originally hailing from Iceland, has a couple cute quirks to her voice, which give way to smart lyrics and occasional philosophical depth, like how uniquely woderful now is, and why her body is hers alone. A-

Baxter Dury: The Night Chancers (2020, Heavenly): English singer-songwriter, son of the late new wave genius Ian Dury, sixth album since 2002, talks his way through most songs, against swank orchestra and chorus. Bears signs of inheritance, raised in an evolved culture, which makes what he does seem inevitable rather than extraordinary. B+(*)

Field Music: Making a New World (2020, Memphis Industries): English band, first album 2005, seventh album, fond of keyboards. B+(*)

Khruangbin: Mordechai (2020, Dead Oceans): Houston group, bass-guitar-drums, all sing but not very much, group name a Thai word for "flying thing" (e.g., airplane), suggested by Laura Lee, whose interest in Asian music led her to learn Thai. Third album, wouldn't call it exotica but they do amble in their own orbit. B+(*)

King Krule: Man Alive! (2020, True Panther Sounds): English singer-songwriter Archy Marshall, fourth album, third as King Krule. Has a rep for drawing on punk and hip-hop, but mostly comes up with Nick Cave dark tones. B

Stephen Malkmus: Groove Denied (2019, Matador): The genius behind Pavement (1992-99), followed that up with seven albums declining credited to Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (2001-18), goes completely solo here, playing all instruments and singing (such as he does -- can't say practice makes perfect, but it does help). Can't say as this had any appeal to me when it came out, but has its own unique sloughed off charm. Also, a bit of groove. B+(**)

Stephen T. Malkmus: Traditional Techniques (2020, Matador): Another solo joint, title no less ironic, middle initial a quirk I'd like to suppress in the filing, but probably can't. B+(*)

Moor Jewelry: True Opera (2020, Don Giovanni): Collaboration between lapsed poet Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa) and noise producer Mental Jewelry (Steven Montenegro), who did a previous EP called Crime Waves. Ten cuts (25:59), could pass for punk but is much more expansive. A-

Thiago Nassif: Mente (2020, Gearbox): Brazilian singer-songwriter, plays guitar, drums, trumpet, electronics; shares production duties with Arto Lindsay, who helps out as do a couple dozen others, for a mix of tropicalia, no wave, and ever so catchy skronk. A-

Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves (2018 [2020], International Anthem): Labels in Chicago, musicians from Los Angeles, DJs, play various instruments, have worked together at least since 2007. Improvised set, recorded live. B+(*)

Pearl Jam: Gigaton (2020, Monkeywrench/Republic): Grunge band from Seattle, always figured they were Dave Clark 5 to Nirvana's Beatles, not that I ever liked Nirvana as much as I did DC5. Bought one album Christgau liked (Vitalogy), gave it a B+, never played it again, or anything else by this group. Didn't even list anything by them after 2000 (five albums, chart peaks 5 or better), and only played this after it became the top black line in my metacritic file (Baxter Dury is next, followed by Khruangbin and King Krule). Not bad, nor especially interesting, and by the end I was reminded of how tedious Eddie Vedder's voice is. B

Margo Price: That's How Rumors Get Started (2020, Loma Vista): Country singer, grew up in Illinois, moved to Nashville at 20, waited tables and worked the ropes, releasing a pretty good album in 2016. This makes three, new label, fancier production, rocks harder, soars higher, says less. B+(*)

Tenille Townes: The Lemonade Stand (2020, Columbia Nashville): Canadian country singer-songwriter, from Alberta, last name Nadkrynechny. Third album, first from Nashville. B+(**)

The Weeknd: After Hours (2020, Republic): Canadian r&b singer Abel Tesfaye, had an early star-making mixtape in 2011 (House of Balloons), has developed into a best-selling falsetto crooner -- remarkably consistent, at least until the closer drags its butt. B

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: All the Good Times Are Past & Gone (2020, Acony): Title often truncated, but the cover bears me out. Folkies, her sixth album since 1996, he's been around the whole time but this seems to be the first with him named, and he does get more leads. Ten tracks, all acoustic covers, two Dylan, two trad., one Prine, "Jackson." B+(**)

X: Alphabetland (2020, Fat Possum): Los Angeles punk band, a big deal in some quarters 1980-82, last charted in 1987, one more album in 1993, have reunited occasionally since 2004, this their first new album in 27 years. Memorable names: DJ Bonebrake (drums), Exene Cervenka (vocals), John Doe (bass, vocals), Billy Zoom (guitar, sax, piano). Eleven short songs, adds up to 27:00. They've done a remarkable job keeping their sound preserved. B+(*)

Yonic South: Wild Cobs (2019, La Tempesta, EP): Postpunk band from "Stanzini, Shitaly" (or Brescia, Italy), first EP (4 songs, 16:27), crisp but they do like to riff. B+(**)

Yonic South: Twix and Dive (2020, La Tempesta, EP): Four more songs (13:40), "from Oasis covers and Anfield soundtracks to psych noise ballads and Techno Viking dedications," ending with a bit of patter extolling "this beautiful arena" -- how can you get more anachronistic than that? B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris: Live in Bergamo (2008 [2020], Nublu): Band named for a club on Avenue C in New York, goes back further but debuted with eponymous 2007 album, where various musicians would gather and improvise under the direction ("conduction") of Morris. This was the seventh to be released, "Conduction No. 175," in Italy, with ten musicians, out of 199 through June 20, 2011. (Morris died in 2013.) One 34:27 piece, plus three encores (16:18). Not a dull moment. B+(***)

Old music:

Simon H. Fell: The Exploding Flask of Muesli: Electroacoustic & Electronic Works 1994-2002 (1994-2002 [2013], Bruce's Fingers): Not sure how representative this is of the late bassist's work, as most of his work is hard to find. I'm not even sure how much there is -- a "selected discography" on his website lists 90 albums (1985-2015). Interesting moments, but feels like a sideline. B+(*)

Simon H. Fell: Le Bruit De La Musique (2015 [2016], Confront): Solo bass, a single 37:19 piece. B+(*)

Hampton Hawes: Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes: Vol. 3: The Trio (1956 [1990], Contemporary/OJC): Bebop pianist (1928-77) from Los Angeles, father a minister, mother a church pianist, made a big splash with his 1955 Trio album, adding two more in this series, with Red Mitchell (bass) and Chuck Thompson (drums). B+(**)

Hampton Hawes Quartet: All Night Session! Volume 1 (1956 [1991], Contemporary/OJC): The first of three volumes from a November 12, 1956 session, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), and Bruz Freeman (drums). Five pieces, stretches out a bit. B+(***)

Hampton Hawes Quartet: All Night Session! Volume 2 (1956 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): Seven more songs. Lively piano and delicate guitar (Jim Hall). B+(**)

Hampton Hawes Trio: The Séance (1966 [1990], Contemporary/OJC): With Red Mitchell (bass) and Donald Bailey (drums), another smart and lively session. B+(***)

Hampton Hawes: Trio at Montreux (1971 [1976], Jas): With Henry Franklin (bass) and Mike Carvin (drums). B+(**)

Hampton Hawes/Cecil McBee/Roy Haynes: Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago: Volume Two (1973 [1989], Enja): Piano, bass, drums. Six songs, three over ten minutes -- none of the entries at Discogs quite match the digital (dated 1998), nor do any credit the vocal (which is just as well forgotten). B+(**)

Hampton Hawes: Something Special (1976 [1994], Contemporary): Less than a year before his untimely death, another quartet with guitar (Denny Diaz), bass (Leroy Vinnegar), and drums (Al Williams). Excellent piano, especially on tunes like "St. Thomas." B+(***)

William Parker: In Order to Survive (1993 [1995], Black Saint): Bassist, used this album title for a group name later in the 1990s, and again for a 2019 live album, signifying a quintet with Lewis Barnes (trumpet), Rob Brown (alto sax), Cooper-Moore (piano), and a drummer (Denis Charles plays on 3 cuts here, Jackson Krall on the 4th). This particular album also has Grachan Moncur III on trombone. The dazzling opener runs 38:47, with three more pieces bringing the total to 72:03. A-

William Parker/Giorgio Dini: Temporary (2009, Silta): Bass duo, with a short "Intermezzo" with Parker on shakuhachi. B+(*)

Jessie Ware: Glasshouse (2017, Interscope): Third album, skipped it after having been unimpressed by her first two. Opener is overbearing, but "Selfish Love" is a choice cut. Maybe "Sam" too, but as a ballad to her baby it won't break through on the dance floor. B+(*)


Grade (or other) changes:

Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are (2015, Butterscotch): Panned this, then Maura Johnston put it top-10 and Robert Christgau gave it an A. Sure, something more there, but one still has to dig deeper than I'm ever likely to do. [was: B] B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Conrad Bauer/Matthias Bauer/Dag Magnus Narvesen: The Gift (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Adam Caine Quartet: Transmissions (NoBusiness)
  • François Carrier/Masayo Koketsu/Daisuke Fuwa/Takashi Itani: Japan Suite (NoBusiness)
  • Vincent Chancey: The Spell: The Vincent Chancey Trio Live 1987 (NoBusiness) *
  • DUX Orchestra: Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results) (1994, NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Falkner Evans: Marbles (CAP)
  • John Fedchock NY Sextet: Into the Shadows (Summit) [07-17]
  • Agustí Fernández/Liudas Mockunas: Improdimensions (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Gato Libre: Kaneko (Libra) [07-10]
  • Sue Anne Gershenzon: You Must Believe in Spring (self-released) [08-01]
  • Keys & Screws [Thomas Borgmann/Jan Roder/Willi Kellers]: Some More Jazz (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet: Believe, Believe (Clean Feed)
  • Sam Rivers: Richochet [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 3] (1978, NoBusiness)
  • Jason Robinson & Eric Hofbauer: Two Hours Early, Ten Minutes Late: Duo Music of Ken Aldcroft (Accretions)
  • Benny Rubin Jr. Quartet: Know Say or See (Benny Jr. Music)
  • Threadbare [Jason Stein/Ben Cruz/Emerson Hunton]: Silver Dollar (NoBusiness)