July 2019 Notebook
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Monday, July 29, 2019

Expanded blog post, July archive (complete).

Music: current count 31831 [31798] rated (+33), 257 [259] unrated (-2).

Got a good start last week, even while I delayed posting Music Week, then lost most of three days with company and cooking, before partially recovering while I wrote up Weekend Roundup. The reason for last week's delayed posting was that I was tied up in one of my favorite wastes of time: compiling several dozens of mid-year ("so far") best-of lists. I've scoured through 66 lists, where each mention counts as one point regardless of rank (most lists are unranked, and many are are short compared to EOY lists, so this scheme is just easier to build the EOY list aggregate on top of. I've also included letter grades for Robert Christgau and myself (although only so far for records mentioned on other lists), using { A = 5, A- = 4, B+/*** = 3, ** = 2, * = 1 }. This introduces a slight skew, but it's diminished as I've added more lists. And since I'm actually more interested in using this as a tool to guide my own listening than as some sort of value-free social science research, I've included a few lists from friends and allies, including at least one I scraped off the unlinkable Facebook. (I suppose it might be possible to link to it, but common decency suggests otherwise.)

One thing I found odd is that I literally didn't find a single jazz list. Maybe I'll write one up later this week. The other thing I'm tempted to do is to add in points for AOTY 80+ ratings. For a few years I actually collected those ratings, but gave it up 2-3 years ago as too much work. On the other hand, some record of those ratings would round out the picture.

Without further ado, here are the top 30 records (so far), with point counts in braces and my grades in brackets:

  1. Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? (Darkroom/Interscope) {43} [A-]
  2. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (Nice Life/Atlantic) {40} [A-]
  3. Tyler the Creator: Igor (Columbia) {38} [**]
  4. Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride (Columbia) {38} [**]
  5. Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar) {38} [*]
  6. Solange: When I Get Home (Saint/Columbia) {37} [*]
  7. Ariana Grande: Thank U Next (Republic) {33} [**]
  8. Big Thief: UFOF (4AD) {32} [A-]
  9. Little Simz: Grey Area (Age 101) {32} [A-]
  10. James Blake: Assume Form (Polydor) {25} [B-]
  11. Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (604/School Boy/Interscope) {25} [***]
  12. Jenny Lewis: On the Line (Warner Bros) {24} [*]
  13. Charly Bliss: Young Enough (Barsuk) {23} [A-]
  14. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! (Jagjaguwar) {23} [A-]
  15. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs (Secretly Canadian) {22} [***]
  16. Slowthai: Nothing Great About Britain (Method) {22} [***]
  17. Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) {22} [B-]
  18. Dave: Psychodrama (Neighbourhood) {20} [A-]
  19. Flying Lotus: Flamagra (Warp) {20} [**]
  20. Fontaines DC: Dogrel (Partisan) {19} [***]
  21. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever (300 Entertainment) {19} [***]
  22. Anderson .Paak: Ventura (Aftermath/12 Tone Music) {19} [***]
  23. Better Oblivion Community Center (Dead Oceans) {18} [*]
  24. Denzel Curry: Zuu (Loma Vista) {18} [**]
  25. The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) {18} [**]
  26. Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life (Capitol) {17} [**]
  27. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places (Blackwoodz Studioz) {17} [***]
  28. Nilufer Yanya: Miss Universe (ATO) {17} [A-]
  29. Rico Nasty/Kenny Beats: Anger Management (Sugar Trap) {16} [**]
  30. Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (Question Everything/RCA) {14} [**]
  31. Julia Jacklin: Crushing (Polyvinyl) {14} [B]

Cutoff just above {13}: PUP, Quelle Chris, Toro Y Moi; {12}: Malibu Ken, Khalid, Bassekou Kouyate; {11}: 2 Chainz, Chemical Brothers, The Comet Is Coming, Aldous Harding, Priests, Todd Snider. Highest ranked records I haven't heard: {10}: Holly Herndon: Proto, Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs; {8}: Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?; {6}: Baroness, Gary Clark Jr., Flume, Foals, Cate Le Bon, Mark Ronson, Yola. I didn't bother with metal lists, so only noted 35 records as such, 0 heard by me. The overall list collected 745 titles (only 64 jazz, 50 heard by me).

I can't draw many conclusions from this data. The point scheme tends to keep any record from breaking out, with the top nine records (down to Little Simz but not James Blake) on most of the same lists. My guess is that if I had consistent ranking information Tyler, Vampire Weekend, and/or Solange would advanced a bit (also Weyes Blood, which topped two lists). Indeed, without the RC/TH grade points, Tyler would have come in first, with 36 points, vs. Eilish (34), Vampire Weekend/Van Etten (33), Lizzo (32), Grande (28), Blake (25), Big Thief/Little Simz (24).

I will probably add a few more lists as I find them. For instance, I have two specialized lists at Noisey open in tabs now (33 Essential Albums You Probably Missed So Far in 2009 and The 37 Best Ambient Albums of 2019 So Far) but held them back in case I found a more general list there. I may also, as noted, come up with a way to factor some grading data into the list.

Most of the non-jazz albums I've listened to in the last two weeks were suggested by these lists. They haven't been especially reliable, but have generated a couple surprise finds (e.g., Christina Barbieri and Queen Key last week). But two of this week's top records came on CDs from a friendly publicist. I dragged my feet on the Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery label best-ofs, thinking I'd prefer to hear the original albums they were selected from. Finally broke down and graded them last week, then found some of the missing records (badly misfiled by Napster). We're still missing the latest releases -- Evans in England and Montgomery's Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings. Turns out that the compilations do a good job of picking hilights from the series, and help round out a view of the artists beyond their masterworks (still Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Incredible Jazz Guitar).


I wanted to write a few words about DownBeat's Critics Poll results, but don't have the time (or possibly the stomach) for that right now. I missed the official deadline to vote, but was able to submit a ballot, which evidently was counted (my name is in the voter list, and they sent me a T-shirt). On the other hand, the disconnect between my votes and the charts is almost complete. Their HOF picks were especially paltry: I can sort of understand Nina Simone, who could be a great singer on occasion, but released a lot of bad-to-worse albums; but the Veterans Committee picks of Scott LaFaro and Joe Williams are hard to imagine. I might be OK with Williams if Jimmy Rushing was in, but even then he wouldn't be an obvious pick. LaFaro died at 25, having played with Bill Evans for two years, and with Ornette Coleman for considerably less. I've been touched by some of his work, but I have no idea how to compare his tiny discography against that of many other bassists not in the DBHOF. (On the other hand, the similarly short-lived Jimmy Blanton is in, as are such obvious contemporaries as Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers, Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, and his predecessor with Coleman, Charlie Haden.)


Forthcoming week relatively open. Hope to get some work done on the Christgau website.


New records reviewed this week:

  • James Blake: Assume Form (2019, Polydor): [r]: B-
  • Julia Jacklin: Crushing (2019, Polyvinyl): [r]: B
  • Judy and the Jerks: Music for Donuts EP (2019, Thrilling Living, EP): [r]: C+
  • Aubrey Logan: Your Mom's Favorite Songs (2019, Resonance, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Charlie Marie: Charlie Marie (2019, self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • The Mauskovic Dance Band: The Mauskovic Dance Band (2019, Soundway): [r]: B+(**)
  • MC Frontalot: Net Split, or the Fathomless Heartbreak of Online Itself (2019, Level Up): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nots: 3 (2019, Goner): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nubiyan Twist: Jungle Run (2019, Strut): [r]: B-
  • Karen O & Danger Mouse: Lux Prima (2019, BMG): [r]: B+(**)
  • Old Man Saxon: Goldman Sax (2019, Saxon Kincy, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • William Parker/In Order to Survive: Live/Shapeshifter (2017 [2019], AUM Fidelity, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Joel Ross: KingMaker (2019, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mavis Staples: Live in London (2018 [2019], Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wreckless Eric: Transience (2019, Southern Domestic): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bill Evans: Smile With Your Heart: The Best of Bill Evans on Resonance (1968-69 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: A-
  • Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best of Piano Jazz on Resonance (1968-2011 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Wes Montgomery: Wes's Best: The Best of Wes Montgomery on Resonance (1956-66 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: A-
  • Sing a Song of Jazz: The Best of Vocal Jazz on Resonance (1956-2018 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: B
  • Neil Young + Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa (1973 [2019], Reprise): [r]: B-

Old music:

  • The Legendary Bill Evans Trio: The 1960 Birdland Sessions (1960 [2005], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bill Evans: Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest (1968 [2016], Resonance, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bill Evans: Another Time: The Hilversum Concert (1968 [2017], Resonance): [r]: B+(***)
  • Franco, Josky, Matalanza Du T.P. OK Jazz: A Paris 1983 Missile (1983 [1996], Sonodisc): [dl]: A

  • Wes Montgomery: In the Beginning (1949-58 [2016], Resonance, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wes Montgomery: Fingerpickin' (1957-58 [1996], Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wes Montgomery: Far Wes (1958-59 [1990], Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Wes Montgomery: One Night in Indy (1959 [2016], Resonance): [r]: A-
  • Wes Montgomery: Smokin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966 [2017], Resonance): B+(***)
  • Kristi Stassinopoulou/Stathis Kalyviotis: NYN (2016, Riverboat): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Moy Eng/Wayne Wallace: The Blue Hour (Patois)
  • Pearring Sound: Nothing but Time (self-released): October 4
  • Fabrizio Sciacca Quartet: Gettin' It There (self-released): September 1

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Lots of links below -- probably more than usual, although as always I feel like I'm leaving a lot of stuff untouched. Some topics I only decided late in the game to break out (Boris Johnson under Mackey, impeachment under Reich, Iran under Simon/Stevenson) could have picked up more links had I acted earlier and more consciously. I meant to write more on Mueller under Alksne when I first found the piece, but by the time I got to it I had scattered Mueller links all over the page.


Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

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): [r]: B
  • Jay Anderson: Deepscape (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Caterina Barbieri: Ecstatic Computation (2019, Editions Mego): [r]: A-
  • Michael Bisio/Kirk Knuffke/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Requiem for a New York Slice (2018 [2019], Iluso): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Black Midi: Schlagenheim (2019, Rough Trade): [r]: B+(**)
  • Blood Orange: Angel's Pulse (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Tobias Wilner/Djibril Toure/Federico Ughi: New York United (2016 [2019], 577): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cheekface: Therapy Island (2019, New Professor Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
  • Flying Lotus: Flamagra (2019, Warp): [r]: B+(***)
  • Future: Future Hndrxx Presents: The Wizrd (2019, Epic/Freebandz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hilliard Greene: Spirituals (2019, Unseen Rain): [r]: B+(*)
  • Augie Haas: Dream a Little Dream (2019, Playtime Music): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rich Halley: Terra Incognita (2018 [2019], Pine Eagle): [cd]: A-
  • Aldous Harding: Designer (2019, 4AD): [r]: B
  • Randy Houser: Magnolia (2019, Stoney Creek): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jelena Jovovic: Heartbeat (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B-
  • Juice Wrld: Death Race for Love (2019, Interscope): [r]: B-
  • Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI (2019, 3Qtr): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lady Lykez: Muhammad Ali EP (2019, Hyperdub, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Alex Lahey: The Best of Luck Club (2019, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lil Nas X: 7 (2019, Columbia, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Maluma: 11:11 (2019, Sony Music Latin): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mannequin Pussy: Patience (2019, Epitaph): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rico Nasty/Kenny Beats: Anger Management (2019, Sugar Trap, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jai Paul: Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) (2013 [2019], XL): [r]: B+(**)
  • PUP: Morbid Stuff (2019, Rise/BMG): [r]: B
  • Queen Key: Eat My Pussy (Again) (2019, Machine Entertainment Group): [r]: A-
  • Resavoir: Resavoir (2015-19 [2019], International Anthem): [bc]: B
  • Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life (2019, Capitol): [r]: B+(**)
  • ShitKid: [Detention] (2019, PNKSLM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Skepta: Ignorance Is Bliss (2019, Boy Better Know): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sote: Parallel Persia (2019, Diagonal): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Emily A. Sprague: Water Memory (2017, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Emily A. Sprague: Mount Vision (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Supa Bwe: Just Say Thank You (2019, Freddy Got Magic/Empire, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yves Theiler Trio: We (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
  • Turning Jewels Into Water: Which Way Is Home? (2018, FPE, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Turning Jewels Into Water: Map of Absences (2019, FPE): [r]: B+(***)
  • Faye Webster: Atlanta Millionaires Club (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B
  • The Yawpers: Human Question (2019, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down: Live 1973 (1973 [2019], Omnivore): [r]: B+(**)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall (2014 [2019], Astral Spirits): [cd]: [was B+(**)] A-


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)

Monday, July 22, 2019

Weekend Roundup

We spent much of the past week arguing not about whether Donald Trump is a racist -- some might prefer not to discuss it, but hardly anyone doubts or denies such an abundantly settled fact. A week ago we faced what struck me as an artificially inflated schism between Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and the more determined reformers in "the squad," but that division vanished instantly thanks to their common enemy -- Trump, for starters, and the racism he and his party so naturally indulge in. Pelosi may be jealous of the squad's popularity with the Democratic base, and she may be overly concerned with her reputation as a Washington power broker. But the fact is that since the 2018 election, the right-wing media has been most obsessed with raising alarms over the squad. Given that context, Trump's tweets strike me less as recurring racist bluster (to which he's certainly prone) than as confirmation that the Republicans' campaign strategy for 2020 will be to try to turn every local election into a referendum on Ilhan Omar. Pelosi knows that better than anyone, because Republicans have tried for years to make her the public face of Democratic-Socialist-Liberal dread.

Most important piece below is Matthew Yglesias's Trump's racism is part of his larger con. I didn't quote from it, but could have quoted the entire piece. Just read it.


Some scattered links this week:

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 Aug 2019