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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31749 [31726] rated (+23), 262 [262] unrated (+0).

Slow getting this out, with Monday wiped out by a house emergency (water heater broke down). Had a nagging sore throat much of the week, but right now mostly feel exhausted. Relatively mild summer so far, but looks like triple digits coming soon and probably persisting. Next couple weeks will probably be worse.

Rated count cut off Sunday evening, but I've added unpacking since then, so the numbers are a little out of whack.

Second straight week with an unusually low rated count (24 last week). Again, spent some time on the Resonance anthologies without writing any reviews, and also found a higher-than-usual split of A- records, plus high B+ that merited extra plays. Most of the finds this week come from Chris Monsen's Jazz favorites list, plus a few more from Phil Overeem's Halfway to Listville. The easiest one was John McPhee's Nation Time: I skipped over it when I was catching up with Corbett vs. Dempsey's Bandcamp a few weeks back, as I had already given Corbett's 2000 reissue a full A, and hadn't noticed the extra cuts. No reason to repurchase if you have the Atavistic release, but the bonuses are just that.

Had a minor role in helping Joe Yanosik publish his magnum opus A Consumer Guide to FRANCO. I have a Guests section on my website, which I've used a few times but never really tried to promote. I've long thought that a better solution would be to set up guest areas on my Hullworks website, perhaps as sub-domains, which could be spun off should the guests decide to pony up for a domain name. I'm in a position where I can host those as well. I also considered hanging Joe's piece at Terminal Zone -- long my pet idea for a music-themed website (named for the zine Don Malcolm and I published back in 1977). In the end, I went with the path that involved the least thought and work.

When Joe first mentioned his Franco project to me, I glanced at Napster's Franco offerings, and spent a week digging around. My own (much more limited) set of Franco grades are here. You can also look up what Robert Christgau has written.

I might as well mention two projects that I've started but haven't gotten very far on. I've started to add recent reviews to the two large book manuscript files I have on jazz. Rather slow work, but I've added 99 pages up to January, 2019, pushing the 20th century jazz guide over 800, and the 21st over 1700. Files are backed up online, in ODT format.

I've also started collecting mid-year lists, as I did last year. This uses the EOY list aggregate format, and most likely will eventually evolve into a full EOY list aggregate later this year. Only have four lists compiled so far (about a third of those collected on AOTY). I'm surprised there aren't more, but haven't really looked yet. The current aggregate is way too sparse to draw any real conclusions from. One issue here is that I'm only awarding 1 point for each list mention. (Two reasons: one is that so far many of the lists are unranked; the other is that it makes it easier to clean up with I replace the midway lists with EOY lists.) The other point I should note here is that I'm factoring in my graces (A: 5, A-: 4, ***: 3, **: 2, *: 1), which currently results in quite a bit of skew. E.g., 6 of the top 8 records now are ones I've graded A- (Billy Eilish, Lizzo, Charly Bliss, Big Thief, Little Simz, Jamila Woods), and the other two (Carly Rae Jepsen and Vampire Weekend) were *** and ** respectively. Expect my picks to slip as I add further lists, while records I like less will make inroads (Solange is the surest shot; maybe also Tyler the Creator, Sharon Van Etten, Jenny Lewis). Record that I haven't heard with the most list mentions so far: Flying Lotus' Flamagra.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Maria Faust/Tim Dahl/Weasel Walter: Farm Fresh (2018 [2019], Gotta Let It Out): [r]: B+(***)
  • Fire! Orchestra: Arrival (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B
  • Alex Fournier: Triio (2018 [2019], Furniture Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lafayette Gilchrist: Dark Matter (2016 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
  • GoldLink: Diaspora (2019, Squaaash Club/RCA): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bjørn Marius Hegge: Ideas (2019, Particular): [r]: A-
  • Megan Thee Stallion: Fever (2019, 300 Entertainment): [r]: B+(***)
  • Nature Work: Nature Work (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): [r]: A-
  • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys a Record (2019, Odin): [r]: A-
  • Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye (2019, Cherry Red): [r]: B+(**)
  • Santana: Africa Speaks (2019, Concord): [r]: B
  • Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen on Broadway (2018, Columbia, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (2019, Columbia): [r]: B-
  • Zhenya Strigalev/Federico Dannemann: The Change (2018 [2019], Rainy Days): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research: Impromptus and Other Short Works (2018 [2019], WhyPlayJazz): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Dexter Gordon: At the Subway Club 1973 (1965-73 [2019], Elemental Music, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Clifford Jordan Quartet: Glass Bead Games (1973 [1974], Strata East; [2019], Pure Pleasure): [r]: A-
  • Eero Koivistoinen: The Front Is Breaking (1976, Love; [2017], Svart): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joe McPhee: Nation Time (1970 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A
  • Harry Mosco: Peace & Harmony (1979 [2019], Isle of Jura): [r]: B+(*)
  • Woody Shaw Quintet: Basel 1980 (1980-81 [2019], Elemental Music, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Sonic Youth: Battery Park, NYC, July 4th 2008 (2008 [2019], Matador): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bruce Springsteen: The Live Series: Songs of the Road (1977-2013 [2018], Columbia): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • John Bacon/Michael McNeill/Danny Ziemann: Refractions (Jazz Dimensions): August 1
  • Mike Holober/The Gotham Jazz Orchestra: Hiding Out (Zoho): August 9
  • From Wolves to Whales: Strandwal (Aerophonic): August 26
  • Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker: Apsis (Aerophonic): August 26

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Fairly large (7.3) earthquake in Halmahera, Indonesia today. It's in a fairly isolated corner of the nation, an island with about 450,000 people, north of Ceram and midway between the outstretched peninsulas of New Guinea and Sulawesi. Probably not much news on this, unlike last week's similar-sized earthquakes near Ridgecrest, California.

On the other hand, quite a bit of news attention to Hurricane Barry, slowly moving today through north Louisiana and into Arkansas, dumping a lot of rain over already flooded terrain. Two things worth noting here. One is that this is still very early in the season (nominally June 1 to November 30). For a record fifth year in a row, the first named storm (Andrea) appeared before the season officially started. June was quiet, but it's still very rare to have hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in July. Odder still, where most hurricanes start as low pressure zones over West Africa, then pick up strength crossing the width of the subtropical Atlantic Ocean, this one started in Tennessee, then curved in a clockwise motion through Georgia and Florida before intensifying over the Gulf. I've never seen a storm follow that trajectory, or for that matter one that spent so little time over water developing to hurricane level. Granted, it only briefly achieved level 1 strength, but that doesn't bode well for later storms that traverse much more of the still warming Gulf (currently 86°F). [PS: The Wikipedia page suggests several similar hurricanes, but the only one that comes close is 1940 Louisiana hurricane, which formed in early August off the coast of Georgia, crossed Florida and covered a much longer stretch of the Gulf before making landfall in southwest Louisiana. It is regarded as "the wettest tropical cyclone in state history," with a peak rainfall of 37.5 inches. Barry is forecast to produce up to 25 inches of rain. Actual rain so far appears to be much less -- see Barry downgraded to a depression but still brings risk of flooding from Louisiana to Arkansas. This article also notes that the average date for first hurricane of season is August 10, and that this is the first July hurricane in continental US since Arthur in 2014, and only the 4th in Louisiana history according to records going back to 1851.]


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, July 08, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31726 [31702] rated (+24), 262 [260] unrated (+2).

Rated count down this week. Maybe I didn't focus well while Laura was in Boston, but it's also likely that coming up with a relative bounty of A- records had an effect: they always take more time. Also, I didn't take any dives into old music (the VSOP Quintet shows up in Napster's featured new jazz list, but with digital reissues I usually just cite the original release label/date -- and it wasn't good enough to inspire me to check out their other albums).

This is my first Music Week since Robert Christgau posted his final Noisey Expert Witness column, so it's fitting that I looked a little harder than usual for recent non-jazz. In this I was helped by Phil Overeem's halfway through 2019 list (Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Peter Perrett, Billy Woods & Kenny Segal, Abdullah Ibrahim), and by Facebook comments from Dan Weiss (DaBaby, Open Mike Eagle, Gibbs again -- he's also big on Denzel Curry's Zuu, which I previously had at B+(**)). Most of the others were picked up by scrounging for new music on Napster.

The most controversial of these is probably Madonna's Madame X. Metacritic average is 70. Rob Sheffield wrote a 3-star pan at Rolling Stone, although it reads better than the rating. Spencer Kornhaber takes offense in The paradox of Madonna's gun-control music video. Took me a lot of plays before I recognized that the number of songs I was pleased to recognize exceeded the number of fingers I had available for counting. I have more doubts about the Peter Perrett album, but I gave How the West Was Won an A-, and this one hit the same pleasure spots. Makes me wonder if I underrated Special View (the 1979 Only Ones album), where I remembered his voice from.

I'll also note that I've given Wes's Best: The Best of Wes Montgomery on Resonance 3-4 plays with increasing pleasure. I'd like to review the albums it was selected from before doing the compilation, but the release schedule hasn't made that possible. Haven't played the Bill Evans compilation yet, but same considerations apply there. I've been wanting to hear those records ever since they came out, but probably wouldn't have bothered with the compilations had they not appeared in the mail. Also got a note in email today asking whether I've downloaded recent AUM Fidelity releases. I've looked for them on Napster, but didn't notice the email invites. I'll eventually dig them out, but if you want my attention, best way is still to send a CD.

There will be a new XgauSez out by Tuesday morning. I'm hope to get this post wrapped up before I take a good look at it, and I've been hobbled by Weekend Roundup running into overtime. Also in my input queue is a lengthy and quite extraordinary "Consumer Guide to Franco" that Joe Yanosik compiled and asked if I would publish. Expect that later this week.


New records reviewed this week:

  • 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (2019, Thin Wrist): [r]: B+(***)
  • JD Allen: Barracoon (2019, Savant): [r]: A-
  • Gretje Angell: In Any Key (2018 [2019], Grevlinto): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Blind Lemon Jazz: After Hours: New Pages in the American Songbook (2019, Ofeh): [cd]: B+(*)
  • DaBaby: Blank Blank (2018, South Coast Music Group, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • DaBaby: Baby on Baby (2019, South Coast Music Group): [r]: B+(**)
  • Open Mike Eagle: The New Negroes: Season 1 Soundtrack (2019, Comedy Central, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana (2019, Keep Cool/RCA): [r]: A-
  • Jesca Hoop: Stonechild (2019, Memphis Industries): [r]: B+(*)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance (2019, Gearbox): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mike LeDonne: Partners in Time (2019, Savant): [r]: B+(**)
  • Madonna: Madame X (2019, Interscope): [r]: A-
  • Buddy & Julie Miller: Breakdown on 20th Ave. South (2019, New West): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real: Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) (2019, Fantasy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Willie Nelson: Ride Me Back Home (2019, Legacy): [r]: A-
  • Peter Perrett: Humanworld (2019, Domino): [r]: A-
  • Mette Rasmussen/Julien Desprez: The Hatch (2016 [2019], Dark Tree): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rebekah Victoria: Songs of the Decades (2018 [2019], Patois): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places (2019, Blackwoodz Studioz): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate: The Stan Getz Quartet Live at the Village Gate Nov. 26 1961 (1961 [2019], Verve, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Sourakata Koité: En Hollande (1984 [2019], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Asnakech Worku: Asnakech (1975 [2018], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • The V.S.O.P. Quintet: Five Stars (1979, CBS/Sony): [r]: B


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall (Astral Spirits)
  • Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: Somewhere (Rosebud Music)
  • Augie Haas: Dream a Little Dream (Playtime Music): August 30
  • Rich Halley: Terra Incognita (Pine Eagle): August 9
  • Jelena Jovovic: Heartbeat (self-released)

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Donald Trump's big July 4 "celebration" was the week's big non-event, so naturally garnered plenty of press attention. We'll collect the links here, to try to keep the silliness of the event from infecting everything else:


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, July 01, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31702 [31671] rated (+31), 260 [264] unrated (-4).

Noisey has evidently decided to drop Robert Christgau's Expert Witness column, the last one running on Friday. Christgau tweeted:

I do this for money as well as love. So just in case this is the last Expert Witness not just at Noisey, which I'm sad to announce it is, but anywhere, it sticks to albums I'm way late on and albums I wanted to be sure to weigh in on. Enjoy. Consume, even.

Obviously, I should make it a priority to round up these latest Consumer Guide reviews and stuff them into the database. Christgau's first Consumer Guide column was published July 10, 1969, so he's ten days short of fifty years. The whole list is here.

Twice before, Michael Tatum responded to lapses in Christgau's review schedule, first by debuting then relaunching his A Downloader's Diary column. As it happens, he had a new column, his 50th, ready to roll last week when he read Christgau's news, and revised his introduction. (Christgau started the parenthetical numbering scheme, but gave it up after reaching 52 in 1975. I also used it for my Recycled Goods columns.)

I managed to check out a few of Tatum's picks this week, but had previously given A- grades to Big Thief, Coathangers, Control Top, Dave, Billie Eilish, Little Simz, and Jamila Woods -- also a B+(***) to Stella Donnelly, B+(**) to Vampire Weekend. I haven't, however, checked any of his Trash picks.

Streamnotes appeared last week, so this starts a new month.

Don't have anything more to add -- at least anything fit to print. Bad day for me.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Ilia Belorukov/Gabriel Ferrandini: Disquiet (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lewis Capaldi: Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent (2019, Capitol): [r]: B+(*)
  • Charly Bliss: Young Enough (2019, Barsuk): [r]: A-
  • Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman: Time Gone Out (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(*)
  • Caroline Davis: Alula (2017 [2019], New Amsterdam): [r]: B+(*)
  • Whit Dickey/Kirk Knuffke: Drone Dream (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • Sharman Duran: Questioning Reality (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music (2019, Spiritmuse): [r]: B+(***)
  • Damon Locks/Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds (2019, International Anthem): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Jan Maksimovic/Dimitrij Golovanov: Thousand Seconds of Our Life (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jenna McLean: Brighter Day (2018 [2019], Moddl): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Gabriele Mitelli/Rob Mazurek: Star Splitter (2019, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Monopiece/Jaap Blonk: Monopiece + Jaap Blonk (2019, Shhpuma): [r]: B
  • Angelika Niescier/Christopher Tordini/Gerald Cleaver: New York Trio Feat. Jonathan Finlayson (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
  • Evan Parker/Paul G. Smyth: Calenture and Light Leaks (2015 [2019], Weekertoft): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Evan Parker & Kinetics: Chiasm (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: A-
  • Caroline Spence: Mint Condition (2019, Rounder): [r]: A-
  • Aki Takase: Hokusai: Piano Solo (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
  • AJ Tracey: AJ Tracey (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gianluigi Trovesi/Gianni Coscia: La Misteriosa Musica Della Regina Loana (2019, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • G. Calvin Weston/The Phoenix Orchestra: Dust and Ash (2019, 577): [r]: B+(*)
  • Wschód: Wschód (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Chance the Rapper: 10 Day (2011 [2019], self-released): [r]: A-
  • Detail: Day Two (1982 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Kang Tae Hwan/Midori Takada: An Eternal Moment (1995 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Sunny Murray/Bob Dickie/Robert Andreano: Homework (1994 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Great Voice of UGMAA: Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA 1998 (1998 [2019], Dark Tree): [cd]: A-
  • David Wertman Sun Ensemble: Earthly Delights (1978 [2019], BBE)

Old music:

  • Peter Kowald/Kent Kessler/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Flats Fixed (1998 [2014], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ola Onabulé: Point Less (Rugged Ram): August 30
  • Mette Rasmussen/Julien Desprez: The Hatch (Dark Tree)
  • Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Great Voice of UGMAA: Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA 1998 (Dark Tree)


Jun 2019