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Monday, October 14, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, October archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32212 [32183] rated (+29), 229 [229] unrated (+0).

Cutoff was Sunday evening, after posting Weekend Roundup. Didn't have all of the unpacking done, so unrated count is a bit low. The two A- records came early in the week. Both are available on Bandcamp: Drumming Cellist, Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou. There's a good chance that The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Music might have hit A- on a second or third play, but not having the booklet, having to spend close to an hour checking dates, and the suspicion that I've heard everything there elsewhere didn't dispose me to be especially generous.

I saw a little bit (maybe 10%) of Ken Burns' Country Music PBS series. Not much there I didn't already know, but thought what I saw was pretty useful -- certainly didn't strike me as distorted and deceptive, like his Jazz series. As far as I can tell, the only product tie-ins are called The Soundtrack, available in both a 2-CD edition and a 5-CD box. I don't like streaming boxes -- actually, I don't have the patience, in large part because it's hard to break them up in to listenable chunks, and there's no booklet to help you keep score -- so I probably won't bother, but the tracklists look impeccable. Probably not as good as Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection (also 5-CD), but better than Columbia Country Classics (from 1990, also 5-CD). Virtually no overlap with Rough Guide, for reasons that hardly need explication.

I read about the Exbats in last week's Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide. If the link doesn't seem to work, maybe you should subscribe? I was pleased to find my previous A- picks for Chance the Rapper and Tyler Childers as good or better. Also that he found more than I did in Black Midi, Chuck Cleaver, Rapsody, and Sleater-Kinney. Some folks have asked about XgauSez. It's on a new schedule, fourth Wednesday of each month, and subscribers will get it delivered to their mailboxes.

Continuing to plug things into my tracking and metacritic files, which is helping me keep up to date. For instance, I can tell you the best-reviewed new records of the week (10-11): Big Thief: Two Hands (15); Kim Gordon: No Home Record (12); Elbow: Giants of All Sizes (8). Best-reviewed new records of the previous week (10-04): Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (24) [*]; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (22); Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayin¿ (16) [***]; Wilco: Ode to Joy (10); DIIV: Deceiver (9). New records I most want to track down: Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia; Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise; Bill Frisell: Harmony; Abdullah Ibrahim: Dream Time; Chris Knight: Almost Daylight; L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae: Complicate Your Life With Violence; Kelsey Waldon: White Noise/White Lines.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble (2017 [2019], Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(*) [10-19]
  • Mats Åleklint/Per-Åke Holmlander/Paal Nilssen-Love: Fish & Steel (2018 [2019], PNL): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (2019, GenreFluid): [cd]: B- [11-08]
  • Katerina Brown: Mirror (2019, Mellowtone Music): [cd]: B [10-18]
  • Cashmere Cat: Princess Catgirl (2019, Mad Love/Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Drumming Cellist [Kristijan Krajncan]: Abraxas (2019, Sazas): [cd]: A-
  • David Finck: Bassically Jazz (2019, Burton Avenue Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2 (2019, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Krokofant: Q (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B
  • Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word (2019, Outside In Music): [cdr]: B
  • Little Brother: May the Lord Watch (2019, Imagine Nation Music/For Members Only/Empire): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joe McPhee/Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief (2017 [2019], PNL): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Bernie Mora & Tangent: No Agenda (2019, Rhombus): [cd]: C+
  • Poncho Sanchez: Trane's Delight (2019, Concord Picante): [r]: B
  • Louis Sclavis: Characters on a Wall (2018 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mike Stern-Jeff Lorber Fusion: Eleven (2019, Concord): [r]: C+
  • Tinariwen: Amadjar (2019, Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kiki Valera: Vivencias En Clave Cubana (2018 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(***) [10-16]
  • Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon: The Music of Duke Ellington (2017 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(***) [10-16]
  • Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs From the Sun Ra Cosmos (2019, Modern Harmonic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Carrie Wicks: Reverie (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(*) [10-16]
  • Young M.A: Herstory in the Making (2019, M.A Music/3D): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Exbats: E Is 4 Exbats (2016-18 [2019], Burger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou: Anou Malane (1994 [2019], Sahel Sounds): [r]: A-
  • The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Music: Reborn and Remastered (1926-33 [2019], World Music Network): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cecil Taylor: Mysteries: Indent: Antioch College/Yellow Springs, Ohio/March 11, 1973 (1973 [2018], Black Sun): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cecil Taylor: Mysteries: Untitled (1961-76 [2019], Black Sun): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • The Exbats: A Guide to the Health Issues Affecting Rescue Hens (2016, Burger): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Exbats: I've Got the Hots for Charlie Watts (2018, Burger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Rodney Whitaker: Ballads and Blues: The Brooklyn Sessions (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Barrence Whitfield & the Savages: Soul Flowers of Titan (2018, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Binker Golding: Abstractions of Reality Past and Incredible Feathers (Gearbox)
  • Dan McCarthy: City Abstract (Origin) [10-16]
  • Mute: Mute (Fresh Sound New Talent) [12-13]
  • One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2019 (UNT) [11-22]
  • Kiki Valera: Vivencias En Clave Cubana (Origin) [10-16]
  • Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon: The Music of Duke Ellington (Origin) [10-16]
  • Carrie Wicks: Reverie (OA2) [10-16]

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Trump has gotten a lot of flack this week for his decision allowing Turkey to invade Syria. Turkey's attack is directed not at the Syrian government or ISIS but at the Kurdish militias in norther Syria, which Turkish strong-man Erdogan regards as a potential security threat, as presumingly giving aid and comfort to Turkey's own Kurdish minority. The Kurdish militias had not only opposed the Syrian government, which hardly anyone in America has a kind word for, but also operated as allies or proxies in America's war against ISIS. Hence, the complaints you hear most often are that Trump has abandoned a trusted US ally, and that the invasion is likely to head to a humanitarian disaster -- the emphasis shifting from neocons to their liberal enablers. The only support Trump has found has come from paleocons like Rand Paul who want the US to draw back from foreign wars, but don't much care if the rest of the world destroys itself.

One problem is that Trump (or for that matter Obama) has never had a coherent strategy on Syria, or for that matter anywhere else in the Middle East. A reasonable goal would be to maintain peace among stable governments, biased where possible toward broad-based prosperity with power sharing and respect for human rights. Obama might have agreed with that line at the start of Arab Spring, but he soon found that ran against the main drivers of American Middle East policy: Israel's war stance, the Arabian oil oligarchies, Iranian exiles, arms merchants, and scattered pockets of Christians (except in Palestine) -- forces that had never given more than occasional lip-service to democracy and human rights, and were flat-out opposed to any whiff of socialism.

Obama was able to help nudge Mubarak aside in Egypt, but when the Egyptians elected the wrong leaders, he had second thoughts, and didn't object to the military restoring a friendly dictatorship. Obama had no such influence in Libya and Syria, so when their leaders violently put demonstrations down, some Americans saw an opportunity to overthrow unfriendly regimes through armed conflict. It is fair to say that Obama was ambivalent about this, but he wound up overseeing a bombing campaign that killed Qaddafi in Libya, and he provided less overt support to some of the Syrian opposition forces, and this led to many other parties intervening in Syria, with different and often conflicting agendas.

It's worth stressing that nothing the US has attempted in the Middle East has worked, even within the limited and often incoherent goals that have supposedly guided American policy, let alone advancing the more laudable goals of peace and broad-based prosperity. Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the US is incapable of standing up popular government after invasion and civil war. Libya suggests that ignoring a broken country doesn't work any better. But Syria is turning out to be an even more complete disaster, as the ancien regime remains as the only viable government. Assad owes his survival to Russia's staunch support, but also to the US (and the Kurds), who defeated his most potent opposition: ISIS.

What needs to be done now is to implement a cease fire, to halt all foreign efforts to provide military support for anti-Assad forces, to reassert the Assad government over all of Syria, to convince Assad not to take reprisals against disarmed opponents, and to start rebuilding and repatriating exiles. Trump's greenlighting of the Turkish invasion does none of this, and makes any progress that much harder -- not that there is any reason to think that Trump has the skills and temperament to negotiate an end to the conflict, even without this blunder.

The only American politician who begins to have the skills to deal with problems like Syria is Bernie Sanders, because he is the only one to understand that America's interests -- peace, prosperity, cooperation everywhere -- are best served when nations everywhere choose governments that serve the best interests of all of their own peoples (socialism). Everyone else is more/less stuck in ruts which insist on projecting the so-called American values of crony capitalism and militarism, the goal to make the world subservient to the interests of neoliberal capital. In this regard, Trump differs from the pack only in his reluctance to dress up greedy opportunism with high-minded aspirations (e.g., Bush's feminist program for Afghanistan). Trump's freedom from cant could be refreshing, but like all of his exercises in political incorrectness, it mostly serves to reveal what a callous and careless creature he is.

Short of Sanders, it might be best to concede that America is not the solution to the world's woes, that indeed it is a major problem, so much so that in many cases the most helpful thing we could do is to withdraw, including support for other countries' interventions. Syria is an obvious good place to start. On the other hand, replacing American arms and aims with Turkish ones won't help anyone (not even the Turks).

PS: After writing the above, Trump ordered the last US troops out of Syria. That in itself is good news, but everything else is spiraling rapidly out of control. Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds are looking for new allies, and finding Assad (see Jason Ditz: Syrian Kurds, Damascus reach deal in Russia-backed talks).

Some scattered links on this (some of which are just examples of what I've been complaining about):

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Daily Log

Update: Actual configuration, purchased 10/15:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.7GHz Socket AM4 PM 16976: [$199.99]
  • ASRock X570 Steel Legend AM4 AMD X570 Motherboard Combo w/CPU: $379.98
  • G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $289.99
  • Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2, QLC SSD: $99.99
  • Corsair RM750 750W ATX12V v2.52/EPS12V v2.92 Full Modular Power Supply: $114.99
  • Lite-On DVD Burner Black SATA iHAS124-14 OEM: $16.99+$1.99

Thought I'd do a little new computer shopping (Newegg). Possible configuration:

  • CPU: Compare to 2012: AMD Fx-8150 PM 8250 $199.99; top passmark now: 32,946; best sub-$200: 16,976 (AMD Ryzen 7 2700X):
    • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz Socket AM4 PM 31847: $564.99
    • AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz Socket AM4 PM 23883: $329.99
    • [*] AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.7GHz Socket AM4 PM 16976: $199.99
    • AMD Ryzen 7 2700 8-Core 3.2GHz Socket AM4 PM 15080: $178.99
    • AMD Ryzen 7 1700X 8-Core 3.4GHz Socket AM4 PM 14812: $169.99
    • AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 6-Core 3.6GHz Socket AM4 PM 14362: $159.99
    • AMD Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core 3.4GHz Socket AM4 PM ?: $119.99
    • AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6-Core 3.2GHz AM4 PM 12279: $114.82
    • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G 4-Core 3.6GHz AM4 PM 8016: $94.99
    • AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 4-Core 3.5GHz AM4 PM 7324: $87.99
    • AMD Ryzen 3 1200 4-Core 3.1GHz AM4 PM 6792: $59.99
    • AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8-Core 4.0GHz Socket AM3+ PM ?: $197.29
    • AMD FX-6350 PM 6954: $?
  • AM4 Motherboards: All AMD4 ATX, most X570 chip set:
    • ASUS ROG STRIX X570-E Gaming: 4x288 memory slots (128GB Max), 2xPCI Express 4.0x16, 1xPCI Express, 8xSATA 6GBs, Radeon Vega Graphics, multi-VGA, SupremeFX High Definition Audio, 2.5G LAN, Wireless 2x2 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 7xUSB 3.2: $326.99
    • ASRock X570 Taichi: $299.99
    • ASRock X470 Taichi: $269.99
    • [*] ASRock X570 Steel Legend WiFi: $199.99
    • ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus: $199.59
    • ASUS Prime X470-Pro: 64GB RAM max (DDR4 4x288, 2400-3600), video, audio, 1GB LAN: $149.99
    • ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4: $148.99
    • ASUS ROG STRIX B-450-F Gaming: 64GB Max, PCI Express 3.0x16, : $129.99
  • AM4 Motherboards: All AMD4 Micro-ATX:
    • ASUS TUF B-450M-Plus Gaming: AMD 8450 chipset, 4x288 DDR4 (64GB max), 1 PCI Express 2.0x16, 1 PCI Express 2.0x1, 2+4xSATA 6GB/s, Radeon Vega graphics, 10/100/1000 LAN: $99.36
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 128GB (4x32GB) DDR4 2400: $579.99
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4 3000: $324.99
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3200: $319.99
    • Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $285.99
    • G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3600: $329.99
    • [*] G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $289.99
    • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3600: $289.99
    • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3200: X[$249.99] $322.05
    • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2666: $269.99
    • G.SKILL Aegis 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2133: $219.99
  • SSD:; SSD PCI Express 4.0 Hyper M.2 SSD is faster:
    • Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 1TB SATA III: $129.99
    • Western Digital 3D NAND 2.5" 1TB SATA III: $114.99
    • Intel 660p M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2: $109.99
    • Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 500GB SATA III: $74.99
  • Cases: ATX
    • Corsair Crystal 570X Glass Mid Tower: $189.97
    • LIAN LI PC-011 Dynamic Razer Edition Mid Tower: $164.99
    • Phanteks Eclipse P600S Antracite Gray Steel/Tempered Glass Mid Tower: $149.99+$6.99
    • Thermaltake Core X71 Tempered Glass Full Tower: $142.52
    • Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel Mid Tower: $132.90
    • Phanteks Enthoo PH-ES614P_BK Black Steel/Plastic Full Tower: $99.99+$6.99
    • Antec Performance Series P110 Luce Mid Tower: $99.99
    • Antec Three Hundred Two Black Steel Mid Tower: $94.77
    • Corsair Carbide SPEC-06 Black Steel/Plastic/Tempered Glass Mid Tower: $89.99
    • Corsair Carbide SPEC-05 Black Steel/Plastic/Acrylic Mid Tower: $65.99
    • DIYPC D480-W-RGB White Mid Tower: $58.99
    • Fractal Design focus G White Mid Tower: $54.97+$7.99
  • Power Supplies: ATX12V/EPS12V, full modular:
    • Corsair RMx series: 1000W: $199.98; 850W: $129.99; 750W: $119.89; 650W: $114.99; 550W: $99.99
    • Corsair RM series: 850W: $124.98; 750W: $114.99; 650W: $104.99
    • Corsair CX series: 550W: $64.99; 450W: $59.99
    • EVGA SuperNOVA: 1000W: $184.37; 850W: $139.99; 750W: $160.99, 650W: $161.98; 550W: $109.99
    • Thermaltake Toughpower Grand: 850W: $124.00; 750W: $94.99; 650W: 92.99
    • Thermaltake Smart Pro: 750W: $86.00
  • CD/DVD Burners: SATA
    • ASUS DRW-24B1ST: $22.94

Monday, October 07, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, October archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32183 [32156] rated (+27), 229 [219] unrated (+10).

Slow start on the week, partly because I flushed Monday's listening out in September Streamnotes, and ended this Sunday night. Partly because the Kevin Sun 2-CD album sat in the changer four days while I slowly made up my mind. Sun's album never quite matched his Trio debut, nor is the George Coleman album quite as terrific as his The Master Speaks, but in the end both came close enough. Among the also-rans, Laurie Anderson's spoken word over Tibetan ghost music came closest, and might deserve further attention. Turns out Phil Overeem likes the album a lot (number 9 on his latest list. Also found my two good vault albums there. More to follow next week.

I added those and a few others to my metacritic file. In turn I checked out several of the better-rated albums I hadn't bothered with, but didn't find I enjoyed it much. Most I'm pretty sure of, but artists like Angel Olsen, Bon Iver, and Jessica Pratt just make me wonder if I'm getting too old for this shit. Also in the "don't do it for me" category are fairly ordinary rockers like Cherry Glazerr, Sleater-Kinney, and Girl Band.

Got a lot of mail last week (today's take is listed below but not counted above). I'm noting future release dates as I get them, also when I do reviews. The queue is usually sorted FIFO, as I suspect keeping it sorted by release date would be a big hassle. Upcoming week may be less than usual, as I have some house projects, plus a bit of cooking coming up. Then some medical shit, before Trump takes that away, too.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Laurie Anderson/Tenzin Choegyal/Jesse Paris Smith: Songs From the Bardo (2019, Smithsonian Folkways): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ben Bennett/Zach Darrup/Jack Wright: Never (2018, Palliative): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Bon Iver: I,I (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B
  • Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayin¿ (2019, Warp): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cherry Glazerr: Stuffed & Ready (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B
  • George Coleman: The Quartet (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: A-
  • The Comet Is Coming: The Afterlife (2019, Impulse!): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons (2018 [2019], Pyroclastic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Girl Band: The Talkies (2019, Rough Trade): [r]: B+(*)
  • Robert Glasper: Fuck Yo Feelings (2019, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mika: My Name Is Michael Holbrook (2019, Republic/Virgin EMI): [r]: B+(**)
  • Simon Nabatov: Readings: Red Cavalry (2018 [2019], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Simon Nabatov: Readings: Gileya Revisited (2018 [2019], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs (2019, Mexican Summer): [r]: B-
  • Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (2019, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(*) [10-25]
  • Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (2019, Mom + Pop): [r]: B
  • Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (2018 [2019], Pi): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory (2019, Endectomorph Music, 2CD): [cd]: A- [11-15]
  • Tegan and Sara: Hey, I'm Just Like You (2019, Warner Brothers): [r]: B+(**)
  • Andrés Vial/Dezron Douglas/Eric McPherson: Gang of Three (2019, Chromatic Audio): [cd]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Fania Goes Psychedelic (1967-71 [2019], Craft Latino): [r]: B+(***)
  • World Spirituality Classics 2: The Time for Peace Is Now (1970s [2019], Luaka Bop): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Bertrand Denzler Cluster: Y? (1998 [2000], Leo Lab): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bertrand Denzler/Norbert Pfammatter: NanoCluster 02/2000 (2000, Leo Lab): [r]: B+(**)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble (Whirlwind): October 19
  • Katerina Brown: Mirror (Mellowtone Music): October 18
  • Drumming Cellist [Kristijan Krajncan]: Abraxas (Sazas)
  • Lorenzo Feliciati/Michele Rabbia: Antikythera (RareNoise): cdr, October 25
  • Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda: Four (Long Song): November 8
  • Francesco Guerri: Su Mimmi Non Si Spara! (RareNoise): cdr, October 25
  • Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway (IPO): November 1
  • Doug MacDonald & the Tarmac Ensemble: Jazz Marathon 4: Live at Hangar 18 (DMAC): October 15
  • Bernie Mora & Tangent: No Agenda (Rhombus)
  • The Niro Featuring Gary Lucas: The Complete Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas Songbook (Esordisco): November 8
  • Northern Ranger: Eastern Stranger (self-released, EP)
  • Miles Okazaki: The Sky Below (Pi): October 25
  • Anne Phillips: Live at the Jazz Bakery (Conawago)
  • Chip Stephens/Stenn Wilson: Sadness & Soul (Capri): October 18
  • Dave Stryker: Eight Track Christmas (Strikezone): November 1
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio: E.S.T. Live in Gothenburg (2001, ACT, 2CD): October 25
  • Gebhard Ullmann/Hans Lüdemann/Oliver Potratz/Eric Schaefer: MikroPULS (Intuition): October 18
  • Brahja Waldman: Brahja (RR Gems): cdr

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Once again, ran out of time before I could get around to an introduction. The impeachment story rolls on, and Trump is getting weirder and freakier than ever. Meanwhile, more bad shit is happening than I can get a grip on. And what's likely to happen when the new Supreme Court gets down to business. Once you tote up all the damage Trump's election directly causes, you need to look up "opportunity costs."

Some scattered links this week:

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Daiy Log

Zhanna Pataky visited Eastern Europe this summer, and came back wanting to cook something Hungarian. We had previously collaborated on a couple of Russian dinners, and I'm always game for a new cuisine. Did some shopping at Amazon, and wound up buying one cookbook: Silvena Johan Lauta: The Food & Cooking of Hungary. Here's a first stab at a possible menu:

  • Hungarian Goulash: a beef stew, with onion, tomato, green bell pepper, potatoes, spices (paprika, caraway), served with Hungarian Dumplings. Alternative: Rabbit Goulash Stew: as above but with rabbit instead of beef, chicken stock, potatoes or dumpling on side; or Venison Goulash: similar, with venison shoulder instead of beef, chicken stock, carrot and parsnip, potatoes or dumpling on side.
  • Hungarian Dumplings: egg, flour, herbs; serve with bacon and butter. Alternative: any other dumpling dish, like Oregano and Cumin Dumplings, Transylvanian Dumplings with Olives, Herb Semolina Dumplings, or Pinched Noodles.
  • Feta and Paprika Bruschetta: ciabatta bread slices, toasted, topped with feta, cream cheese, spices (mustard, cumin, paprika); suggest serve with tomato salad (not in recipe; picture shows red onion garnish, with tomatoes and cucumbers on side).
  • Transylvanian Stuffed Mushrooms: button (or baby portabella?) mushrooms, stuffed with ricotta, thyme, bacon); suggest serve with green salad.
  • Hungarian Cold Buffet Salad with Mustard: cooked and diced ham, frankfurters, potato, carrot, peas, eggs, green beans, gherkins, with dijon mustard, parsley, and mayonnaise (home-made).
  • Pan-fried Pike with Cream and Dill Sauce: white fish fillets, flour, fried in butter with wild mushrooms; sauce, on side, is fish stock, white wine, cream, and fresh dill. Alternative: Trout in Horseradish Sauce: trout, poached with root vegetables (carrot, parsnip, onion), with sour cream, horseradish; serve with boiled potatoes and steamed green vegetables.
  • Hungarian Chocolate Almond Torte: cake with dark chocolate, butter, eggs, brown sugar, ground almonds, 2 tbs. flour (so not quite flourless); topped with ganache and almond topping. Alternative: Hungarian Pancakes with Pecan Filling: thin pancakes filled with pecans, golden raisins, lemon zest, apricot jam, cinnamon, sugar; and/or a fruit dessert, like Walnut Baked Prunes: prunes, orange juice and zest, sour cream, bread crumbs, walnuts, butter; or Roasted Pears With Honey: pears, butter, rosemary, balsamic, honey. Other options from elsewhere (see below) include Somloi Trifle ("Hungary's favorite dessert") and Dobos Torte (from The Gourmet Cookbook).

Some other dishes that caught my eye, but are probably de trop:

  • Chicken and Paprika Stew with Sour Cream: cubed chicken breast, onion, tomato, green bell pepper, sour cream, paprika.
  • Venison Meatballs: ground venison and veal, bread crumbs, egg, formed into meatballs, dusted with flour, fried; sauce with chicken stock, sour cream, paprika, herbs.
  • Pancakes with Creamy Feta Cheese and Wild Garlic: crepes, filled with feta, yogurt, sour cream, wild garlic leaves.
  • Pearl Barley Salad with Grapes and Pistachio Nuts: pearl barley (cooked), tomato, green bell pepper, cucumber, white seedless grapes, parsley, mint, toasted pistachio nuts.

I've previously made goulash from the recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook. It's a bit more complicated than this one, but similar. It's one of only four Hungarian recipes in the book. Chicken Paprika is another -- again, similar to above, but calls for thighs. The other two are desserts: Chocolate-orange Dobostorte, and Hungarian chocolate mousse cake bars. The former is very complex and ornate, with eight layers of sponge cake (white, with orange zest), glazed with orange syrup, separated by layers of chocolate buttercream, topped by a layer of caramel, the sides covered with buttercream and hazelnuts. The bars are also quite complex, with chocolate cake layers, apricot jam, a chocolate mousse filling, a whipped cream filling, and a chocolate glaze. The cake layers are baked in a 10x15 pan, then cut into bars after assembling.

Most of the goulash recipes I see on the internet call for ground beef and elbow macaroni (some adding cheddar cheese) -- some of these are explicitly labeled American Goulash. Flat egg noodles are sometimes used. Ones explicitly labeled "Hungarian Goulash" start with beef cubes. The most minimal is just beef, onion, and paprika. Others add tomato, bell pepper, carrot and/or potato, also extra flavors (one has brown sugar and balsamic vinegar). Most are served over separately-cooked egg noodles.

Lots of soups in the cookbook, but since it's at most practical to serve one, and since Goulash counts (as would Chicken Paprika), I've ignored the others.

Some other recipes I've noticed while searching for Hungarian recipes:

  • Sour Cherry Soup
  • Strawberry Soup
  • Beef Paprikash with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • Hungarian Short Ribs
  • Garlic Pork Rib Roast with Parsley Potatoes
  • Grandma Schwartz's Rouladen: beef top round
  • Meat Stew (Porkolt)
  • Shepherd's Noodles (Pasztortarhonya): bacon, sausage, tarhonya (some kind of noodle).
  • Crispy Pork Belly
  • Baked Garlic Paprika Chicken
  • Butternut Goulash
  • New World Stuffed Cabbage
  • Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
  • Cucumber Salad: sour cream or vinegar.
  • Hungarian-Style Green Beans
  • Layered Potatoes (Rakott Krumpli): potatoes, eggs, sausage, sour cream, cheese.
  • Potato Pancakes (Lapcsznka)
  • Pickled Sweet Peppers
  • Stuffed Peppers (Toltott Paprika)
  • Vegetable Stew (Lecso): a paprika stew, variations: egg, sausage.
  • Fozelek: another vegetable stew (no translation).
  • Cabbage & Noodles (Haluski)
  • Horseradish Deviled Eggs
  • Fried Dough (Langos): topped with sour cream and cheese; note this tops several lists.
  • Palacsinta (Crepes)
  • Cheese Noodles (Turos Csusza)
  • Fried Cheese (Rantott Sajt): Swiss or mozzarella dredged in egg and breadcrumbs, then fried.
  • Apple Strudle
  • Cardamon-Blackberry Linzer Cookies
  • Cookie Crust Deep-Dish Apple Pie
  • Hungarian Nut Rolls
  • Hungarian Walnut Cookies: more like rugelach.
  • Layered Pastry (Flodni): walnut, apple, poppyseed, jam.
  • Somloi Trifle (Somloi Galuska): three types of sponge cake (plain, walnut, chocolate), raising, walnuts, drizzled with dark chocolate rum sauce, topped with whipped cream.
  • 5 Layer Cocoa Slices
  • Mezes Kremes: a layered cake with glaze and filling.
  • Kugler Cake: ground almond cake with chocolate filling.
  • Zserbo/Gerbeaud Slice: multi-layered torte with chocolate top.
  • Hungarian Decadent Chocolate Cake

PS: Talked with Zhanna today. She wants to cook two recipes: a thick goulash, using her mother's recipe (Russian, from Kazakhstan, I think), and something with sausages and noodles. She suggested I do chicken paprika, a salad, and a cake. I want to do one of the dumpling recipes, or maybe just the pinched noodles. Adding the chicken (and sausage) leaves no room for fish or meatballs. I still like the feta bruschetta, but think I'll pick the pearl barley salad over the cold buffet salad (which could really be a one-dish meal). I'll probably go with the chocolate almond torte, although the solmoi torte is still tempting. Agreed on Friday, October 18 as the date.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (finished).

Music: current count 32156 [32117] rated (+39), 219 [229] unrated (-10).

When I ran the numbers, they came up a bit short of the list, so I rechecked and found 5-6 I had failed to register grades on. At least one of those should definitely have shown up in this week's list, so I added it, but that makes me suspect I may have slipped up elsewhere. So a reminder: The monthly compilation (link above) is more authoritative than the weekly ones (which are extracted from it). Also, note that some reviews now have a date after the grade. These are records that have future release dates. I've changed my mind several times on how to handle those cases.

Noticed the links in my Music index page needed some updating to reference 2019 files, of which Music Tracking turned out to require the most work: there were literally dozens of dumb typos keeping it from displaying, as well as a bunch of missing grades. I wanted to make sure there was a link to my EOY [Mid-Year] List Aggregate, where I started collecting mid-year best-of list info but have more recently supplemented that with review grades (usually 80+ at AOTY, but I'm tracking other sources as well, especially jazz).

I added several fan lists from an Expert Witness Facebook post, and that (well, plus adding in Michael Tatum's latest grades) was enough to tilt first place from Sharon Van Etten to Billie Eilish. There's still a structural problem that favors records released before July -- Lana Del Rey ranks highest among later releases at 28, and the highest June release is at 21 (Freddie Gibbs & Madlib; highest September release is Charli XCX at 68, followed by Brittany Howard at 73). By the way, one of those fan lists led me to Oompa, another to Octo Octa, and others to most of the African comps below, so they've earned their keep.

Revisited several albums while trying to wrap this up, and wound up promoting Oompa, Andrew Lamb, and Taylor Swift. Possible that Kwi Bamba and Alefa Madasgascar could have benefited from more attention.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Karl Berger/Jason Kao Hwang: Conjure (2014 [2019], True Sound): [cd]: B [10-01]
  • Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (2019, Piloo): [cd]: B+(**) [10-25]
  • Zack Clarke Trio: Vertical Shores (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • DaBaby: Kirk (2019, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Dillon: Out in the Open (2018, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Dillon: Force Field (2018 [2019], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day Quartet Live (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gabriel Ferrandini: Volúpias (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Vyacheslav Ganelin/Deniss Pashkevich/Arkady Gotesman: Variations (2018 [2019], Jersika): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Garifuna Collective: Aban (2019, Stonetree Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kano: Hoodies All Summer (2019, Parlophone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (2017 [2019], Enja): [cd]: B+(**) [10-18]
  • The Baba Andrew Lamb Trio: The Night of the 13th' Moon (2018 [2019], LFDS): [bc]: A-
  • Landline: Landline (2019, Loyal Label): [cd]: B+(**) [11-01]
  • Guillaume Muller: Sketches of Sound (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Laura Noejovich: Laura Has New Standards (2018 [2019], Enchanted Meadow): [cd]: C+ [11-02]
  • Octo Octa: Resonant Body (2019, T4T LUV NRG): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Oompa: Cleo (2019, OompOutLoud): [r]: A-
  • Miles Perkin Quartet: The Point in Question (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Cene Resnik Trio 'Watch for Dogs': Shades of Colors (2016 [2019], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kendrick Scott Oracle: A Wall Becomes a Bridge (2019, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Matthew Snow: Iridescence (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(***) [11-29]
  • Something Blue [Alexa Tarantino/Nick Finzer/Sam Dillon/Art Hirahara/Boris Kozlov/Rudy Royston]: Maximum Enjoyment (2018 [2019], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Souljazz Orchestra: Chaos Theories (2019, Strut): [r]: B+(*)
  • STL GLD: The New Normal (2019, AR Classic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Alexa Tarantino: Winds of Change (2019, Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ben Van Gelder/Tony Tixier/Tom Berkmann/Mathias Ruppnig: Scopes (2019, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mareike Wiening: Metropolist Paradise (2018 [2019], Greenleaf Music): [cd]: B+(*) [11-01]
  • Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon: Goshu Ondo Suite (2018 [2019], AUM Fidelity): [cd]: A- [11-15]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Alefa Madagascar (1970s-80s [2019], Strut): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Louis Armstrong: Live in Europe (1948-52 [2019], Dot Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kwi Bamba: Kwi Bamba & L'Orchestre De Gama Berema (1997 [2018], Ouch!): [bc]: B+(***)
  • John Coltrane: Blue World (1964 [2019], Impulse!): [r]: A-
  • Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 1: Decouverte 81 a Dakar (1981 [2019], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 3: Korodia (1982 [2011], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (Piloo): October 25
  • Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (Pi)
  • Andrés Vial/Dezron Douglas/Eric McPherson: Gang of Three (Chromatic Audio): October 4

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I noticed this image somewhere recently, and was reminded that I had used it every Weekend Roundup for several months early in the Trump regnum. While I eventually put the image aside, I have in fact done this every weekend since the reign of terror started, so figured I'm entitled to resurrect the image. You can find it in the notebook starting on February 5, 2017, and scroll up from there (the entries are last-in/first-out).

Last week's "whistleblower" story has, like a tropical depression growing into a hurricane entering warm Carribbean waters, mushroomed into this week's (and the rest of this year's, and most of 2020's) impeachment extravaganza.

Many links follow:

As an intro to everything, see Vox's The 10 biggest stories you missed while you were glued to the Trump impeachment drama:

  • A new report finds humans have caused irreversible changes to the Earth's oceans and places
  • The UK's Supreme Court thwarts Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit ploy
  • The Trump administration slams the door on refugees
  • The WeWork implosion is sending shockwaves across Silicon Valley
  • The fight over Joker rages on -- before the movie has even arrived in theaters
  • GM workers strike for second week
  • Protesters in Egypt rise up against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
  • Greta Thunberg versus Trump and some right-wing trolls
  • Hate speech online is apparently fine, so long as it's only from politiians
  • Spider-Man returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

My own link picks on some of these stories (but adding a few more):

Monday, September 23, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32117 [32080] rated (+37), 229 [227] unrated (+2).

Didn't get my unpacking done until late Monday afternoon, so that became the cutoff -- adding 2 rated albums from Sunday night, and flipping the unrated count from -9 to +2. Before unpacking, I had managed to empty the new jazz queue, but it's up to 12 now. And it turns out that most of the new records don't drop until November, so I probably shouldn't rush on them.

Robert Christgau's first post-Noisey Consumer Guide was mailed out last week. As he promised in his introduction (It's a Start), "the first one is free," so here it is. Follow one of the "Subscribe now" buttons to make get the second and subsequent consumer guides, plus any additional missives, delivered straight to your mailbox.

Probably because he was working off a backlog, but I had heard all but two albums from this month's offering (both various artists comps): The Daisy Age (Ace) and Lost in China (Riverboat). And I only found one of those streamable, so it's in this week's haul. This won't be a regular feature, but I thought I'd table up our grades (his first):

  • Charlotte Adigéry: Zandozi (Deewee) [***, **]
  • Hayes Carll: What It Is (Dualtone) [B+, A-]
  • The Daisy Age (Ace) [A+, ?]
  • Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Interscope) [***, A-]
  • Lost in China (Riverboat) [B+, **] *
  • Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) [A-, A-]
  • The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) [A-, **]
  • The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (Bar/None) [A, ***]
  • Pink: Hurts 2 B Human (RCA) [**, ***]
  • 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (Glitterbeat/Tak:til) [A-, ***]
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) [*, B-]
  • Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) [A-, ***]

Presumably some of these differences can be chalked up to reports that he plays these records at least twice as many times as I do, plus has the benefit of working from physical copies. (I own none of them, although on his word I've ordered The Daisy Age, which Amazon informs me should arrive by Xmas.) The one I most likely shortchanged was probably the National, which I recall only gaving one spin. The only non-trivial differences are on Paranoid Style (I'm not nearly as impressed by Elizabeth Nelson as he is) and Springsteen (perhaps there is some redeeming social merit there, but I doubt it's worth digging out). Nelson, by the way, has a much-praised recent essay on The Mekons Rock 'N' Roll.

I could do the same thing with Michael Tatum's latest A Downloader's Diary (51), which doesn't have much more I hadn't heard. Again, his grades first, mine after, '*' for ones I got to after the fact:

  • Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (self-released) [A, A-]
  • Blarf: Cease and Desist (Stones Throw) [A-, B-] *
  • Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (Matador) [A-, **] *
  • Stef Chura: Midnight (Saddle Creek) [A-, **]
  • GoldLink: Diaspora (RCA) [A-, ***]
  • Jambú (E Os Míticos Sons da Amazônia) (Analog Africa) [B+, ***]
  • Kokoko!: Fongola (Transgressive) [A-, **] *
  • Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) [A, A-]
  • Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (Drag City) [A+, ***]
  • Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) [B+, ?]
  • Spoon: Everything Hits at Once: The Best of Spoon [B+, ?]
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana (ESGN/Keep Cool/Madlib Invasion/RCA) [***, A-]
  • Mekons: Deserted (Glitterbeat) [***, ***]
  • The Hold Steady: Thrashing Through the Passion (Frenchkiss) [***, A-]
  • Imperial Teen: Now We Are Timeless (Merge) [**, ?]
  • Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien (Merge) [**, ?]
  • Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (American) [**, *]
  • Digital Kabar: Electronic Maloya from La Réunion Since 1980 (Infiné) [**, ?]
  • Nilüfer Yanya: Miss Universe (ATO) [*, A-]
  • Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (Strut) [*, A-]
  • Beyoncé: Homecoming: The Live Album (Parkwood/Columbia) [C+, *]
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) [B-, B-]
  • Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) [B-, B-]
  • Anderson .Paak: Ventura (12 Tone/Aftermath) [B-, ***]
  • Marvin Gaye: You're the Man (Motown) [B-, **]
  • Hama: Houmeissa (Sahel Sounds) [B-, *]
  • Sebadoh: Act Surprised (Dangerbird) [B-, ?]
  • Kim Petras: Clarity (Bunhead) [C+, ?]
  • Offset: Father of 4 (Motown/Quality Control) [C+, ?]

So not much there I didn't know about and went on to find brilliant (and sure, I still have some listening to do), but the reviews themselves were way beyond anything I could have written (one reason, I'm afraid, I rarely bother anymore).

Took a dive into Teddy Edwards this week. Idea came up when I saw Out of This World as a new reissue, but given that it's digital only, I used the hard-copy dates. His best record remains Together Again!, with Howard McGhee (1961). I might also note that the Art Pepper box isn't quite up to many of his period recordings, including most of The Complete Galaxy Recordings, or a lot of the live bootlegs Laurie Pepper has been reissuing. Still remarkable.

September has five Mondays, one more after today, so I can wait until then to index September Streamnotes.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Reid Anderson/Dave King/Craig Taborn: Golden Valley Is Now (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B-
  • AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (2017 [2019], Clear Now): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Strong Brew Music, EP): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (2019, Firehouse 12): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jimmy Cobb: Remembering U (2016 [2019], Jimmy Cobb World): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jimmy Cobb: This I Dig of You (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (2019, Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(**) [10-24]
  • Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs (2019, Now Generation): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gordon Grdina Quartet: Cooper's Park (2019, Songlines): [r]: B+(***)
  • Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]; B+(*) [09-27]
  • Chrissie Hynde With the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble: Valve Bone Woe (2019, BMG): [r]: B
  • Indoor Pets: Be Content (2019, Wichita): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ethan Iverson Quartet With Tom Harrell: Common Practice (2017 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jpegmafia: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (2019, EQT): [r]: B+(**)
  • Led Bib: It's Morning (2018 [2019], RareNoise): [cdr]: B [09-27]
  • Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Monoswezi: A Je (2017, Riverboat): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tish Oney With the John Chlodini Trio: The Best Part (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B-
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (2018 [2019], Leo, 4CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (2018 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Alberto Pinton Trio: Röd (2018, Clear Now): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: A- [10-04]
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Tuba to Cuba (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kojey Radical: Cashmere Tears (2019, Asylum/Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain ([2019], Naïve): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Lost in China: Off the Beaten Track From Beijing to Xinjiang ([2017], Riverboat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Art Pepper: Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings (1979 [2019], Omnivore, 5CD): [r]: A-

Old music:

  • Teddy Edwards Quartet: Good Gravy! (1961, Contemporary): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teddy Edwards: Heart & Soul (1962, Contemporary): [r]: B+(*)
  • Teddy Edwards: Nothin' but the Truth (1966 [1967], Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
  • Teddy Edwards Quartet: Out of This World (1980 [1981], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teddy Edwards/Houston Person: Close Encounters (1996 [1999], HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teddy Edwards: Smooth Sailing (2001 [2003], HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Lampert: Venus Perplexed (2000 [2004], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Steve Lampert: Music From There (2006 [2007], Bridge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Alberto Pinton: Nascent (2012 [2013], Redhorn): [r]: B+(**)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (GenreFluid) November 8
  • Karl Berger/Jason Kao Hwang: Conjure (True Sound): October 1
  • Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (Enja): October 18
  • Landline: Landline (Loyal Label): November 1
  • Remy Le Boeuf: Assembly of Shadows (SoundSpore): November 1
  • Guillaume Muller: Sketches of Sound (self-released): October 1
  • Laura Noejovich: Laura Has New Standards (Enchanted Meadow): November 2
  • Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (Ropeadope): October 25
  • Matthew Snow: Iridescence (self-released): November 29
  • Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory (Endectomorph Music): November 15
  • Mareike Wiening: Metropolist Paradise (Greenleaf Music): November 1
  • Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon: Goshu Ondo Suite (AUM Fidelity): November 15

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I had an idea for an introduction based on the book I've been reading: Tim Alberta's American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump. I never really got the title until it appeared in the text 400+ pages in, and it wasn't anything like what I would have guessed. The line comes from Trump's inaugural address, where it climaxes a series of assertions that have virtually no connection to reality. I'd need to find the quote and unpack it a bit, but it basically confirms my suspicion that the Republican campaign in 2016 was basically an extortion racket. They had remarkable success at spoiling eight years of Obama, and they clearly intended to treat Hillary Clinton even worse should she win. The only way Americans could save themselves from the wrath of the Republicans was to elect one -- in which case, the downside was limited to incompetence and corruption. Of course, a better solution would have been to beat the Republicans so badly they couldn't do any real damage, but that was too much to hope for -- especially with Hillary as your standard bearer.

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32080 [32047] rated (+33), 227 [229] unrated (-2).

Held this back an extra day, as I couldn't quite get it together on time. Cutoff was late Sunday evening, after posting Weekend Roundup, so I've already got a jump on next week.

My listening was even more scattered than usual last week. My A-list finds all came so early that by weekend I forgot that I had any. I hoped Michael Tatum's new A Downloader's Diary -- his third this year after a prolonged lean patch, and his first since moving to Seattle -- would offer some major discoveries, but started with Blarf's Cease & Desist and found it really wasn't for me. Several other records impressed but didn't wow me. Two I had dismissed earlier got new spins, and minor grade upticks. Tatum's review of Purple Mountains is especially insightful, but describing the album as a "suicide note" doesn't do much to draw me in.

Tatum started writing his column in August, 2010, intent on filling in the void left by the second sacking of Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide (by MSN Music). Christgau rebooted at MSN in November 2010 with his Expert Witness blog, while Tatum continued his monthly columns into 2014 (skipping a couple along the way). I tried to help out by publishing (and archiving) his columns. In April 2014, he moved to Odyshape, ending later that year with a piece called The Pause Button. Since then, he's self-published (most recently at Medium), while I've intermittently updated the archive. After a couple thin years, he's made a strong return to form this year, with three columns so far. He's one of the sharpest and most lucid critics around, and deserves your readership and support.

Meanwhile, Christgau has been publishing his Expert Witness blog at Noisey, but that ended in June. With no new publisher forthcoming, Tatum might have had another hole to fill. But Christgau has come up with a new scheme to keep publishing new Consumer Guide capsule reviews. He's launching a subscriber newsletter, based on Substack, called And It Don't Stop. It will cost you $5/month to get a once-monthly batch of new reviews sent to your e-mailbox, plus there will be various extras -- he explains his plans here, in It's a Start. Subscribers will get their first batch of reviews delivered on Wednesday, September 18.

As you probably know, I built and maintain Christgau's website, with its database of 17,271 albums and 1,372 articles (or more, as that easy-to-find number is actually a subset). At some point (undecided at present) I'll add those new reviews and pieces to the website. This isn't fundamentally different from the various timelocks we've been using for years, where publishers insist that their payments merit a period of exclusivity. I don't have any real solutions here, but I do believe that we're all fortunate to have Christgau continuing to write for us. Subscribing helps.

Back to my list this week, aside from Tatum's picks, most of this week's records are things I became aware of feeding data into my metacritic list. I started this year's list by collecting mid-year lists, but then I made two discoveries/decisions: rank info in the lists wasn't very useful (most lists were unranked, and many were shorter than EOY lists so the scales didn't quite fit), so I just started counting references without any weighting; also, I found that I could rather easily supplement the lists with AOTY's ratings lists organized by publication, so I started adding those in (first for publications that didn't offer mid-year lists, eventually for nearly all non-metal sources), usually using 80+ as my standard (90+ for AMG and Exclaim!, where 80s are ultra-common). Thus, I've been able to pick up new records as they're released. The sampling is not as good for post-July records, but it gives newer records some recognition. Thus far, the top-rated August/September releases (points in front, my grades in brackets at end, just before that is the AOTY score and review count):

  1. [24] Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (Polydor/Interscope) 85/28 [A-]
  2. [20] Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) 76/29 [-]
  3. [18] Bon Iver: i,i (Jagjaguwar) 80/31 [-]
  4. [18] Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (Bella Union) 79/24 [A-]
  5. [16] Marika Hackman: Any Human Friend (AMF) 84/19 [-]
  6. [16] The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (Frenchkiss) 75/20 [A-]
  7. [13] Charli XCX: Charli (Asylum) 79/20 [**]
  8. [13] Clairo: Immunity (Fader) 74/21 [***]
  9. [12] Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild (Sacred Bones) 79/20 [-]
  10. [12] The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears (Human Season) 86/14 [-]
  11. [11] (Sandy) Alex G: House of Sugar (Domino) 83/14 [-]
  12. [11] Rapsody: Eve (Roc Nation) 86/7 [***]
  13. [10] Kano: Hoodies All Summer (Parlophone) 86/12 [-]
  14. [10] Shura: Forevher (Secretly Canadian) 79/18 [-]
  15. [10] Jay Som: Anak Ko (Polyvinyl) 79/20 [-]
  16. [10] Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) 71/22 [***]
  17. [10] Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (Joyful Noise) 77/14 [-]
  18. [9] Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (Columbia) 85/4 [A-]
  19. [9] Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (Wilsuns) 76/11 [**]
  20. [9] Tool: Fear Inoculum (Volcano/RCA) 79/20 [-]

I'm most surprised that Saadiq has gotten so few reviews. I'm less bothered that Lana Del Rey's point total only places her album at 31. That's a structural problem due to the fact that more mid-year lists were counted than ratings. AOTY's 85 score for the album rates it at 17, with 28 reviews topped only in the top 100 by Sharon Van Etten's Remind Me Tomorrow (84/35), Thom Yorke's Anima (82/29), Bon Iver's i,i (80/31).

I'll note that two 1970s rockers died last week: Eddie Money and Rick Ocasek. The former never interested me much, but I had one of his compilations on my unrated list, so figured I should check it off. Tried looking on Napster before going to my shelves, and found a later 2-CD 35-song edition in place of my 1-CD 15-cut item, so I wound up reviewing both. Ocasek, of the Cars, was more important, but I didn't have any unfinished business with them, so didn't bother. Last one of their records I played was the Cars' 1985 Greatest Hits, giving it B+(**), which is about where I pegged their first two albums (both B+ in my database).

I did some work on the Jazz Guides last week. I still have some group albums to fold in -- I left them out of the first pass because they involve more cross-referencing -- but otherwise am up to date (through August). Current page counts: 1791 + 829.

One thing that slowed me down in getting this out was that I started writing up a postscript to Sunday's Weekend Roundup. Despite vowing not to slip down any rabbit holes, I had trouble doing that. Spent much of today figuring I would polish this up a bit, but didn't manage that either. For what it's worth, I wrote these further notes on Monday:

  • There was a breaking story that I barely touched on, but which may prove to be the week's most important. Start with: Everything we know about the Saudi oil attacks and the escalating crisis in the Gulf. The first problem here is that "everything we know" isn't very much, especially when you discount what various parties with their own ulterior motives have tried to claim (a list that starts with Mike Pompeo). Several sources noted that the Houthis in Yemen had claimed responsibility. Saudi Arabia has been bombing them for years now, so they have motive, but Pompeo doesn't see how they could pull such an attack off. The only other claim I've seen is here: Iranian drones launched from Iraq carried out attacks on Saudi oil plants. That would still involve flying drones 500-600 km, so I have to wonder whether it wouldn't have been easier to smuggle much smaller drones into the area, especially given that you don't need a lot of firepower when you're shooting at something as flamable as an oil refinery. Still, the real problem here isn't a "whodunit" or even its contextualization -- Saudi hostility and aggression against their neighbors (both direct, as in Yemen, and through proxies) is clearly at the root of this incident -- but a question of what the real powers will do next. Trump almost immediately tweeted that an American retalliation was "locked and loaded," awaiting only the Saudi government's direction. The implication is not only that Trump has subordinated American interests to the Saudis (as he has even more emphatically to the Israelis) with scant care for whatever the consequences may be. On the other hand, maybe the Saudis are coming to recognize how vulnerable they are to blowback from their wars. Too early to tell how this dangerous story sorts out.

  • There is something very unsatisfying about the various Bolton links. While Bolton was well understood and his views roundly opposed, it isn't clear what he actually did while in the Trump administration, or whether he actually had any effect beyond adding to the chaos. A fly-on-the-wall insider account might help, although it's equally likely that no one will ever make any sense out of US foreign policy during the Bolton year-plus. A couple of odd data points: Bolton was fired after the Taliban deal was scuttled; before Bolton was fired, Trump seemed to be more open to meeting with Iran than after, as exemplified by his post-Bolton "locked and loaded" tweet. I've never had any doubt that Bolton was pure evil, but the first week without him has already brought into question Jeet Heer's title, John Bolton's ouster makes the world safer. Yet another piece I should have linked to: Robert Mackey: Threatening new war for oil, Donald Trump calls his own offer of Iran talks "fake news".

  • I wasn't very happy with the Bacevich and Walt pieces on Afghanistan, or for that matter with Ward's piece on how the Democrats debated Afghanistan. Lots of things in US politics make it very difficult to extricate ourselves from wars that are going badly, and it seems like everyone falls into one such trap or another.

  • On Samantha Power, also see: Jon Schwarz: A memoir from hell: Samantha Power will do anything for human rights unless it hurts her career.

  • What bothers me most about the Jonathan Franzen fracas is how fervently his critics cling to stark and simplistic either-or dichotomies, when the actual problem is complex, with complicated tradeoffs that can be very hard to get at, let alone discuss rationally. It could take a book to unpack that line, especially as I've come at it through old problems in philosophy. But really, climate change has been happening for decades now -- Bill McKibben's first (1989) book on the subject was The End of Nature, and he wasn't talking about some hypothetical future. That leaves us with two obvious problems: how to adapt to the world we have altered (and will continue to), and how to limit further damage. Recognizing the already-occurring changes in no way excuses us from trying to keep the situation from worsening (Franzen says as much, although you'd have to read him to find out, as his critics' cariacature lose such details).

Also thought I'd note why I didn't link to anything on Tuesday's election in Israel: I basically didn't find anything very interesting on the subject. Still, if you're curious, you might read Zack Beauchamp's pre-election piece: Israel's election, and how Benjamin Netanyahu might lose, explained. Nearly everything I read predicted a Netanyahu win -- as did everything before the previous election, even though it ended with Netanyahu unable to form a government. Latest results I've seen are "too close to call," with Netanyahu/Likud trailing Blue and White by a very slim margin (25.7% to 26.3%), which probably means another hung election.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (2019, Unit): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Blarf: Cease & Desist (2019, Stones Throw): [bc]: B-
  • Peter Brötzmann/Alexander von Schlippenbach/Han Bennink: Fifty Years After . . . Live at the Lila Eule 2018 (2018 [2019], Trost): [r]: A-
  • Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (2019, Drag City): [r]: B+(*)
  • Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (2019, Matador): [r]: B+(**)
  • Frankie Cosmos: Close It Quietly (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)
  • Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (2019, 4AD): [r]: B
  • DSC [Leon Lee Dorsey/Greg Skaff/Mike Clark]: Monktime (2019, Jazz Avenue 1): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For (2019, Musical Fanzine/Get Better): [r]: B+(*)
  • Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***) [11-08]
  • Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (2019, Bella Union): [r]: A-
  • Jayda G: Significant Changes (2019, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tim Hecker: Anoyo (2019, Kranky): [r]: B
  • The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (2019, Frenchkiss): [r]: A-
  • Cate Le Bon: Reward (2019, Mexican Summer): [r]: B
  • Derel Monteith: Connemara: Solo Piano Improvisations (2017 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(**) [10-18]
  • Derel Monteith Trio: Quantity of Life (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(*) [10-18]
  • Muna: Saves the World (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis: Beautiful Lie (2019, Next Waltz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (2019, Wilsuns): [r]: B+(**)
  • Elza Soares: Planeta Fome (2019, Deck): [r]: B+(**)
  • Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (2018 [2019], Capri): [cd]: B+(*) [09-30]
  • Taylor Swift: Lover (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Emi Takada: Why Did I Choose You? (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Wilma Vritra: Burd (2019, Bad Taste): [r]: B+(*)
  • Charli XCX: Charli (2019, Asylum): [r]: B+(**)
  • Thom Yorke: Anima (2019, XL): [r]: B-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock (1969 [2019], Craft): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jambú E Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia (1974-86 [2019], Analog Africa): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-95 [2003], Columbia/Legacy): [cd]: B-
  • Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-91 [2014], Columbia/Legacy): [r]: C+

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): [r]: [was: B+(*)] B+(**)
  • Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): [r]: [was: B+(**)] B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (Blujazz)
  • Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (Sunnyside): October 24
  • Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (OA2): September 20
  • Tish Oney With the John Chlodini Trio: The Best Part (Blujazz)
  • Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (Origin): September 20
  • Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (OA2): September 20

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekend Roundup

No time (or stomach?) for an introduction.

Some scattered links this week:

More Notes

Tweeted this along the way:

Bush effectively responded to Bin Laden's 9/11 taunt with: "You think that's terror. I'll show you terror." Bush and the political class brought America down to Al Qaeda's level within weeks, and kept digging, 18+ years: [Link: U.S. has spent $6 trillion on wars that killed 500,000 people since 9/11.]

Monday, September 09, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32047 [32020] rated (+27), 229 [227] unrated (+2).

I've had a couple weeks of nagging technology problems. Got up and found both computers dead, resembling an overnight power shutdown but no indications of that anywhere else in the house. Both are on UPS's. One definitely has a bad battery, so turns out to be very interruptible. The other (my main computer) remains a mystery, and repeated a few days later, but second time was easier to power cycle. No data loss, but a bit unnerving. Main computer developed a speaker glitch after that, introducing a lot of static into music I was streaming. Haven't figured that out either, but switched to secondary computer for streaming (but speakers are inferior). It's old and I'm finding it extremely slow. The thing that bothers me most is how slow it is to wake up: closer to a minute than the 2-3 seconds of the main computer. Monitor has something to do with that, but slow as it is, it still displays connect status 5-10 seconds before getting a screen image. Tempts me to build a new one, especially as some newer and faster technology has become affordable.

Synology backup server appears to be working, although I've only set up two machines to backup so far, and I haven't checked them for updates carefully. More things I need to learn about it. One source of frustration is that I'm using an appliance router/firewall that I don't totally understand. In particular, I have it providing DHCP addresses, but it doesn't seem to provide DNS, so my computers have no way (other than fixed /etc/hosts addresses, not necessarily right with DHCP) to find my other computers. Looking at the router manual now, and don't see anything about DNS (although it does have stuff on DHCP and DDNS).

Most disconcerting glitch of the week was not being able to log into my dedicated server last night to post my Weekend Roundup. I've been informed that CPanel (the web server management gui interface software) has been bought up by the same vulture capitalists who own Plesk (their competitor). CPanel's management is celebrating their newfound monopoly by raising their prices, and enforcing this by requiring new licenses, breaking my server. Took several hours to get the hosting company to fix it, and will cost me more bucks in the future (CPanel is already almost a third of my monthly charge). Things like this make me wonder if the server's worth the cost and trouble -- or perhaps remind me that it isn't.

Lots of other things made life difficult. I could begin to enumerate them, but may not come out the other end. Some of the just boil down to being old and decrepit, which no one wants to hear about. Much pain the day I tried to cook dinner for friends, ending with two planned dishes abandoned, my kitchen stool crashed to the ground, and the front door handle falling off. On the other hand, the dishes I did manage to finish were magnificent: duck à l'orange; a salad with grilled asparagus, zucchini, and bread cheese, over arugula with roasted tomatoes and basil pesto; a sweet potato gratin, and spiced carrots; with triple chocolate mousse cake for dessert (Laura has a pic on Instagram, but I can't find it).

Some of these things cut into my listening time, which was pretty scattered anyway. Two records I had held back from last week managed to slip over the A- cusp. After making a dent in my new jazz queue, I got stuck on Avram Fefer's Testament, which I've played at least five times without writing up a grade. Release date isn't until November 8, so I'm tempted to put it aside until then. At some point I started looking for country music, and was struck at how the first four albums I sampled -- Tanya Tucker, Molly Tuttle, Dee White, Matt Carson -- wound up at the same B+(**) with different virtues and flaws. Four more records were easier to spread out (Mercury Rev, Highwomen, Ian Noe, Weldon Henson). Checked out a couple of old Bobbie Gentry albums after listening to Mercury Rev, and was surprised to find that the "classic" was a much bigger mess than the revival.

Thought I'd work on a Book Roundup mid-week, then got confused by some sloppy bookkeeping. I managed to clean that up, and will try to have a post ready mid-week (but the way things are going, could be months). I'm slowly trudging my way through Tim Alberta's American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, which is a useful map of the various schisms on the Republican side since 2008, although it falls short of exploring the deeper roots of their cravenness and corruption. That's kept me from reading a couple of promising books I picked up at the library: Joseph Stiglitz's People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent, and Astra Taylor's Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone.

Also got a third book at the library, which I'm definitely not going to read but should at least crib some notes from: Mining the Social Web: Data Mining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Github, and More (3rd edition). The one thing I want to do with it is to copy down a list of on-line resources, especially the APIs. On the other hand, I'm not finding many things I want to do in the examples. Maybe I should build a tech resources link page, if only for my own use. (I had several long ago, didn't update it, and finally disconnected them to stop getting mail from wannabe adds.)

New records reviewed this week:

  • Matt Carson: No Regrets (2019, Bunba): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Carter Organ Trio: Live From Newport Jazz (2018 [2019], Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Avishai Cohen/Yonathan Avishai: Playing the Room (2018 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Marco Colonna/Agustí Fernandez/Zlatko Kaucic: Agrakal (2017 [2018], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019, Polydor/Interscope): [r]: A-
  • Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (2019, Ridgeway): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Eliane Elias: Love Stories (2019, Concord): [r]: B+(*)
  • Frode Gjerstad/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Matthew Shipp: Season of Sadness (2018 [2019], Iluso): [bc]: B
  • Weldon Henson: Texas Made Honky Tonk (2018 [2019], Hillbilly Renegade): [os]: A-
  • The Highwomen: The Highwomen (2019, Elektra): [r]: B
  • Florian Hoefner Trio: First Spring (2018 [2019], ALMA): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Urs Leimgruber/Jacques Demierre/Barre Phillips/Thomas Lehn: Willisau (2017 [2019], Jazzwerkstatt): [r]: B
  • Mercury Rev: Bobbie Gentry's the Delta Sweete Revisited (2019, Partisan): [r]: B
  • Ian Noe: Between the Country (2019, National Treasury): [r]: B+(***)
  • Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michele Rabbia/Gianluca Petrella/Eivind Aarset: Lost River (2018 [2019], ECM): [r]: B
  • Rapsody: Eve (2019, Roc Nation): [r]: B+(***)
  • Enrico Rava/Joe Lovano: Roma (2018 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (2019, Columbia): [r]: A-
  • Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (2019, Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Tanya Tucker: While I'm Livin' (2019, Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Molly Tuttle: When You're Ready (2019, Compass): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Dee White: Southern Gentleman (2018, Easy Eye Sound/Warner Music Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
  • Young Thug: So Much Fun (2019, 300/Atlantic/YSL): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Vaughn Nark Quintet: Back in the Day (1982-83 [2019], Summit): [cd]: B

Old music:

  • Bobby Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967, Capitol): [r]: B
  • Bobby Gentry: The Delta Sweete (1968, Capitol): [r]: C+
  • Weldon Henson: One Heart's Gone (2011, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Weldon Henson: Weldon Henson's Honky Tonk Frontier (2015, Hillbilly Renegade): [r]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (Unit)
  • AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (Clear Now)
  • Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Strong Brew Music)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (Leo, 4CD)
  • Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (self-released): October 4

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Hurricane Dorian, which last weekend was still wreaking unimaginable damage in the Bahamas while trudging slowly toward the Florida coast (or, for one poor soul with a rigidly linear flat-Earth imagination, Alabama), and a week later still exists, albeit downgraded to to post-tropical cyclone status, as it threads the strait between Newfoundland and Labrador, expected some time Monday to pass off the south coast of Greenland. The eye never crossed land on the east coast of the US, but came close enough to produce hurricane-force winds, storm surges, and scattered tornadoes from Florida to North Carolina. When it finally made landfall in Nova Scotia, it was still producing Category 2 winds, and Category 1 as far north as Newfoundland. It is officially tied with a 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane as the strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic.

Since Dorian formed in the tropical Atlantic on August 23, three more named storms have come and gone: Erin, which formed over the Bahamas ahead of Dorian, proceeded northeast to Florida then out into the Atlantic, eventually producing heavy rains in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; Fernand, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico and landed in Mexico; and Gabrielle, which formed in the mid-Atlantic and is now headed toward Ireland and Scotland. The Atlantic hurricane season continues to November 30, with Humberto the next name.

The Atlantic put a paywall on their website this week, limiting readers to 5 "free" articles per month, so I probably won't bother with them any more. They've moved to the right over the past year (although not especially toward Trump -- David Frum and Conor Friedersdorf are regulars), which cuts down on their utility. My wife subscribes to a bunch of things, and I take advantage of that, but haven't added to her list myself. Back when we bought a lot of magazines, I recall liking Harper's more than Atlantic (at least when Lewis Lapham was editor), but I haven't read them in ages. Looks like they offer a better subscription deal than Atlantic.

My own website remains free in every sense of the word (including free of advertising and pitches for money), so I feel entitled to my high horse. Of course, I realize the need publications have to raise money to continue operations, and I understand that it's generally good for writers to get paid, especially for serious work. But I also recognize that few people have the wherewithal (much less the interest) to read everything of likely interest. In this world, paywalls help balkanize public discourse, helping to herd us into isolated, self-selected hives. This isn't a good system. Nor is advertising a good answer. Nor do we have the political will to support a development system that would make public goods (like, but not limited to, news) universally accessible. But that's the sort of solution we should be thinking about.

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Book Roundup

When I published my last Book Roundup, back on June 1, I speculated that I would have another one "ready in a few weeks." I used to average 4-5 of these per year, and at one point collected enough material for 4 within a couple of weeks. But I only published one in 2018, so I had quite a bit of catching up to do. My first effort in 2019 came out in March. I had a lot of leftovers then, but didn't get around to publishing them until June, and forgot to file them in my archive, so I got confused last night, and started to edit June's post as new.

Other recent books also noted without comment:

Gretchen Bakke: The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future (paperback, 2017, Bloomsbury USA).

David W Blight: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (2018, Simon & Schuster).

Ian Bremmer: Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism (2018, Portfolio).

Steve Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World (2018, William Morrow).

Steve Deace: Truth Bombs: Confronting the Lies Conservatives Believe (to Our Own Demise) (2019, Post Hill Press).

John Duffy/Ray Nowosielski: The Watchdogs Didn't Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror (2018, Hot Books).

Ryan D Enos: The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics (2017; paperback, 2019, Cambridge University Press).

Brooke Gladstone: The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media (2011; paperback, 2012, WW Norton).

Michael Hudson: . . . And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year (paperback, 2018, Islet).

Chris Hughes: Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn (2018, St Martin's Press).

Michael Ignatieff: The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017; paperback, 2019, Harvard University Press).

Alan Jacobs: How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds (2017, Currency).

Robert Jervis/Francis J Gavin/Joshua Rovner/Diane Labrosse, eds: Chaos in the Liberal Order: The Trump Presidency and International Politics in the Twenty-First Century (paperback, 2018, Columbia University Press).

Eric Kaufmann: White Shift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities (2019, Henry N Abrams).

James Mahaffey: Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder: A Journey Into the Wild World of Nuclear Science (2017, Pegasus Books).

Samuel Moyn: Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (2018, Belknap Press).

Jennifer Palmieri: Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World (2018, Grand Central).

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen: The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History (2019, Oxford University Press).

Ruth Reichl: Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (2019, Random House).

David Selbourne: The Free Society in Crisis: A History of Our Times (2019, Prometheus Books).

Jeanne Theoharis: A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History (2018; paperback, 2019, Beacon Press).

Monday, September 02, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, September archive (in progress).

Music: current count 32020 [31984] rated (+36), 227 [236] unrated (-9).

Rated count topped 32,000 this week. I'd count that as a milestone, if not exactly news, as the accumulation has been as steady as time since I posted my first rated count of 8,080 in January 2003. That was about the time I started writing Recycled Goods plus the occasional Village Voice review, leading up to Jazz Consumer Guide, and a bit of work for Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, and F5. Those outlets opened up a stream of promo copies that continues (somewhat abated, often just a trickle) to this day. But as the mail thinned out, I resorted increasingly to streaming to make up the difference and expand my horizons. Since 2003, I've averaged a bit less than 30 per week (28.75), a bit less than 1,500 per year (1495). If I made a chart of that, I imagine it would show an upward slant from 2003-11 (when Jazz CG ended, then a plateau, tailing off a bit the last couple years).

Before 2003, that 8,080 came from close to 30 years of record buying (with a few promos in the late-1970s). That averages out to about 5 records per week, 270 per year, but a graph wouldn't be flat: you'd find an initial bulge peaking around 1977-78, a long trough, and a marked increase from 1995 on. I listened to music in my teens, but never bought much until I got my first steady job around 1973. My early music writings start in 1974, including a few reviews for the Village Voice in 1975-79. I gave them up around 1980, when I landed an engineering job and moved to New Jersey. I cut way back on my record buying there, and it's possible that some years I bought less than 100, maybe as few as 50. I moved to Boston in 1985, and found myself spending more time in record stores. I started buying CDs relatively late, and my pace picked up around 1995 when I got into a big jazz/roots kick. That continued when I returned to Kansas in 1999, as I built up the level of expertise that allowed me to write Recycled Goods and Jazz Consumer Guide.

But what really got me back into writing, aside from losing my software engineering job and finding few suitable opportunities, was encouragement from Michael Tatum, Bob Christgau, and (decisively) Laura Tillem. Still, I never planned on making music my central (let alone exclusive) writing focus, and I've sometimes wondered whether it hasn't just been a zero-sum game. I could have spent the last 20 years writing free software (as I had started in the 1990s with Ftwalk. I put a fair amount of effort into an open source business plan for home automation, and could have returned to that, or developed any number of tangential ideas. I also had a scheme for writer-oriented websites, of which Robert Christgau's was intended as a prototype. (One more I built was for Carol Cooper.) Several things distracted me from those paths (although I still maintain those two websites).

The other path I considered was writing political philosophy, which had been my main interest before getting sidetracked into music critique in the mid-1970s. I had soured on politics by 1975, and as I turned away from music around 1980 I wound up reading mostly science (making up for turning away from my early interest), engineering, and business. Laura reminded me that I still knew quite a bit about politics and history, and I toyed with the idea of writing a political book in the late 1990s. September 11, 2001 got me to reading history, politics, and economics again. (You can peruse my reading list -- the data file for my "Recent Reading" blog widget, newly formatted -- here.) I wound up writing several tons of political commentary -- not quite what I envisioned, but scattered with a fair number of serious ideas (some much more distinctive than the grunt work I've cranked out on music).

Seems like I've always been a notoriously slow reader and a poky, easily distracted writer, so for a good while I just took some comfort in getting any writing done at all. The on-line notebook has about 6.5 million words since 2000, and I've compiled much of that into nine ODT files averaging 1500 pages each (4 on music, 4 on politics, 1 personal). I can't claim they're very good, but when I dip into them I often find things worth remembering and even repeating. Still, these days I'm more likely to think of them as opportunity costs: if only I had focused on one thing or the other, maybe I'd have something much better to show for all the effort. Rating (and more/less reviewing) 32,000 records has been a pretty ridiculous thing to do -- as proven by the fact that no one else has been so foolish to do something that required nothing more than a lot of disposable hours. The only thing that would have been a bigger waste of time was not bothering to take notes.

As I wrote the above, I listened to three more albums, including a rather nice one by Florian Hoefner that is certain to remain below damn near everyone's interest threshold. I have little more to add on the records listed below. One thing is that there's only one non-jazz album among the new releases (but three in the recent compilations). Partly, I played quite a few new albums from the promo queue. I also added the 4.5/5.0 star reviewed records from The Free Jazz Collective to my 2019 metacritic file, and that pointed me to more new jazz (including several 2018 releases I had missed). But partly it was just one of those weeks when I felt much more certain about the jazz I heard than the non-jazz. The non-jazz exceptions this week came from Phil Overeem's latest list update (ok, Two Niles was on his 2018 list, but I found it on the Bandcamp page for Star Band De Dakar).

I listened to two other non-jazz records from this list, but couldn't make up my mind and held them back: Lana Del Rey's Norman Fucking Rockwell (number 5) and Raphael Saadiq's Jimmy Lee (18). I'm attracted to and resistant to both, which means they'll probably wind up high B+, but I'm not certain enough to say. Thanks to working on the metacritic file, I'm probably more aware of new non-jazz right now than any time this year, but less sure of my ears. On the other hand, this is definitely a good year for jazz.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Sophie Agnel/John Edwards/Steve Noble: Aqisseq (2016 [2018], ONJazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Kenyatta Beasley Septet: The Frank Foster Songbook (2019, Art Vs Transit, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Blue: Work (2019, Jazzheads): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Cat in a Bag: Cat in a Bag (2019, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Corey Christiansen: La Proxima (2019, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: Somewhere (2019, Rosebud Music): [cd]: C-
  • Haruna Fukazawa: Departure (2019, Summit): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Olli Hirvonen: Displace (2019, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(**)
  • I Jahbar and Friends: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (2019, Bokeh Versions): [bc]: B-
  • Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet: Whenufindituwillknow (2019, Golden): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Roberto Magris Sextet: Sun Stone (2019, JMood): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Todd Marcus: Trio+ (2019, Stricker Street): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Joe McPhee/John Edwards/Klaus Kugel: Journey to Parazzar (2017 [2018], Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dave Miller Trio: Just Imagine (2019, Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Nérija: Blume (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bill O'Connell and the Afro Caribbean Ensemble: Wind Off the Hudson (2019, Savant): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The Ogún Meji Duo: Spirits of the Egungun (2019, CFG Multimedia): [r]: A-
  • Mike Pachelli: High Standards (2019, Fullblast): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jason Palmer: Rhyme and Reason (2018 [2019], Giant Step Arts): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jeff Parker/Jeb Bishop/Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Devin Gray: The Diagonal Filter (2018, Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pearring Sound: Nothing but Time (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
  • David Sanchez: Carib (2018 [2019], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dana Saul: Ceiling (2018 [2019], Endectomorph): [cd]: A-
  • Rob Scheps: Comencio (2019, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Harvey Sorgen/Joe Fonda/Marilyn Crispell: Dreamstruck (2018, Not Two): [r]: A-
  • Lyn Stanley: London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's (2019, A.T. Music): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet: Sweet Oranges (2017 -2018], Not Two): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tucker Brothers: Two Parts (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
  • Ken Vandermark/Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner (2016 [2018], Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
  • Luis Vicente/Vasco Trilla: A Brighter Side of Darkness (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • John Yao's Triceratops: How We Do (2018 [2019], See Tao): [cd], B+(**)
  • Jason Yeager: New Songs of Resistance (2018 [2019], Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (2019, Miel Music): [cd]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Prince: Originals (1981-91 [2019], Rhino/Warner Bros.): [r]: B-
  • Sounds of Liberation: Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (1973 [2018], Dogtown): [r]: B+(*)
  • Star Band De Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana De Senegal (1960s-70s [2019], Ostinato): [r]: B+(***)
  • Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan (Ostinato): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Louis Moholo-Moholo: Duets With Marilyn Crispell: Sibanye (We Are One) (2007 [2008], Intakt): [r]: B+(***)

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Taylor Swift: Lover (2019, Republic): [r]: [was: B+(***)] A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (RareNoise): advance, September 27
  • Led Bib: It's Morning (RareNoise): advance, September 27
  • Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (Capri): September 20

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Weekend Roundup

The lead story for most of next week will be Hurricane Dorian, which as I write this (see here and here) is a Category 5 Hurricane moving slowly through the Bahamas toward the coast of Florida. It is expected to turn north and follow the coast (possibly without the eye making landfall) up to North Carolina, where it will most likely head back into the Atlantic. The current tracking forecast puts it off the coast of Palm Beach around 2PM Tuesday, Jacksonville 2PM Wednesday, close to the SC/NC border 2PM Thursday, and straight east of the NC/Va border 2PM Friday. Presumably the storm will lose intensity as it drifts north, but not as quickly as it would if it landed. Rain forecasts are relatively mild, but the coast will see storm surges and a lot of wind.

Dorian was still a tropical storm when it passed over the Windward Islands last Monday (55 mph winds in Barbados, 4.1 inches of rain in Martinique). It wasn't much stronger when it crossed Puerto Rico, but was predicted to intensify to Category 3 or 4 as it headed through the Bahamas to Florida. It did more than that, reaching sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts to 225 mph. The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season has been relatively mild so far, even compared to the forecasts (12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major). With the season about half over, there have been 5 named storms (TS Erin was named after Dorian, but has already dissipated), 2 hurricanes, 1 major (Dorian). The season continues through the end of November, so we're not much below expectations.

Some scattered links this week:

Further Notes

Dropped this item after finding myself going down a rathole:

  • Ed Kilgore: What should progressives be willing to sacrifice on the altar of civility?Eve Fairbanks: The 'reasonable rebels', putting not undeserved emphasis on the links between conservatives who defended slavery 150 years ago and conservatives today. The point seems to be that treating others with civility implies tacit deference and compromise. I don't see why that should be the case. Within my fairly long life I've hardly ever felt the need to resort to verbal (much less physical) violence when confronted with someone I've disagreed with profoundly. I've long felt it important to try to respect others -- although some people do manage to make that difficult, usually when they show no respect to you.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Daily Log

Starting to do some badly needed housecleaning, both in my physical and virtual worlds. As I do things, I'll add notes to this list.


  • I thought it would be nice to have a permanent link to the latest Streamnotes column, so wrote arch/rhap/latest.php. Code reads my list file, picks out the latest monthly column, then writes a header "Location" directive to redirect to that column. First time I've written code like that, although I've needed it in the past, and will much more in the future.
  • Made minor changes to /arch/rhap menu. Renamed rhwish.php "Search List," and added it and "Latest," while dropping "Missing."
  • Looked at sitemap.php and found it's really out of date (file date Sept. 8, 2006). I need to go through this and make a number of changes, and also update the link menus to better reflect reality.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, August archive (complete).

Music: current count 31984 [31944] rated (+40), 236 [243] unrated (-7).

Spent most of last week listening to old records from my "unrated" list. Most, I think, are used CDs I bought between 1999, when we moved back to Wichita, and 2003-04, when I started getting a lot of promos for Recycled Goods and Jazz Consumer Guide. During that period I used to make regular trips to Oklahoma City (sometimes Tulsa, once even to Kansas City) where I'd pile up 30-50 CDs at a time. Also made a few cross-country trips in those years, where I would spend whole days traipsing around cities like Denver and Phoenix, scrounging around. In several cases I cleaned up on store closeouts. Actually, I did that for a few more years, but stopped buying locally after Yesterdays and Wherehouse went out of business, and that did much to break the pattern. (Wichita still has a number of CD Tradepost stores, but I've never liked them. Google also lists a Spektrum Muzik, which I should probably look into -- although at this point I'd be more tempted to sell than to buy.) Of course, the other thing that broke my shopping habit was Rhapsody. I started doing Streamnotes in late 2007, and my purchases plummeted after that.

Some unrated records are older LPs. Not sure when I started keeping a ratings list. I've had personal computers since about 1980 (an Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1 with a Z-80, 64K RAM, S-100 bus, two 8-inch floppy discs, ran CP/M, ran me close to $5,000, not counting the Heathkit terminal I soldered together; I actually had an Apple II before that, but decided it was crap and never bought from Apple again), so I could have started any time after that, but I certainly had one by the mid-1990s. That list didn't always have grades -- I assigned them mostly from memory, which had already begun to fail on many older/less played LPs. I sold off most of my LPs in 1999 before moving to Wichita, so may no longer have some items logged as unrated. (On the other hand, I recall dozens of early albums not on the records list, so it was never perfectly accurate.)

I started counting up unrated records in March 2003, when my rated count was 8,067 and the unrateds totalled 821. The unrated count jumped to 899 the next week after a bout of shopping. It went down for a few weeks, then shot up again, finally peaking at 1,157 in July 2004. I've gradually whittled it down since then, dropping under 1,000 in December 2004, under 800 in July 2007 (although it climbed back to 888 in April 2011), under 600 in December 2012, under 400 in April 2015, and under 300 in September 2018, and 243 last week. I thought I'd try to knock it down further this week. I gathered up a bunch of CDs from the list, and streamed a few I didn't bother hunting down. That explains both why I have so much "old music" this week, and why it seems so abritrarily selected. Still, my efforts were undone by a sudden burst of incoming mail (bringing the recent queue up to 26 albums, although most of their release dates are well into Fall).

Working off my unrated list results in some curious choices below. For instance, the Lenny Breau/Brad Terry album is only about a third of the one you'd probably buy these days, 2003's The Complete Living Room Tapes, but I cut that down to match the one I owned (didn't find it, but I remember the cover). Similarly, you'd buy the Michael Mantler twofer, where I only had the Silence half (probably on vinyl, but in this case I did bother to stream the other half. I listened to extra albums where they struck my fancy: by Arrow, Hackberry Ramblers, Jasper Van't Hof, Papa Wemba, and Jack DeJohnette (and threw in an average grade for the latter's box, since I've heard all the pieces and that's how they're available on Napster). But I didn't bother with the first Songhai album, or the earlier and later volumes by the Bluegrass Album Band, to mention a couple of obvious series. I imagine I'll keep nibbling away at the unrated list, but already I'm seeing diminishing returns.

Expect a new edition of XgauSez by the time you read this. I should also have an update to the Consumer Guide database real soon now. I've added the last batch of Expert Witness reviews to my local copy so I should be able to do an update any time. I'll send mail to the tech email list when I do, and go into more detail about redesign plans.

I reckon I can pass on a link that Joe Yanosik sent me: a piece by Geoff Edgers called The summer of 1969, when Elvis made his true comeback, which includes some bits of interview with Christgau.

Tried to get my new Synology backup server running last week, and ultimately failed. I'll take another shot at it this week. The machine also has potential as a media server -- something I have a clear need for, but never put enough time into to really figure out. Also made another Friday dinner for Max Stewart. Thought I'd do something easy/lazy this time, so made pastisio, a green bean ragout, and horiatiki salad: basic Greek country cooking. I felt good enough about it I might try something a bit more challenging next time.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Clairo: Immunity (2019, Fader): [r]: B+(***)
  • CP Unit: Riding Photon Time (2019, Eleatic): [r]: A-
  • G-Eazy: The Beautiful & Damned (2017, BPG/RVG/RCA): [r]: B+(***)
  • Steve Lehman Trio/Craig Taborn: The People I Love (2018-19 [2019], Pi): [cd]: A
  • Nils Lofgren: Blue With Lou (2019, Castle Track Road): [r]: B+(*)
  • Paal Nilssen-Love/Ken Vandermark: Screen Off (2008-18 [2019], PNL): [bc]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Cannonball Adderley: Swingin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1967 (1966-67 [2019], Real to Reel): [r]: B+(***)
  • Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick (1985-91 [2019], Drag Racing Underground, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Marvin Gaye: You're the Man (1972 [2019], Motown): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Arrow: Soca Savage (1984, Arrow): [r]: B+(*)
  • Arrow: Knock Dem Dead (1987 [1988], Mango: [r]: B+(**)
  • The Bluegrass Album Band: The Bluegrass Album, Vol. 3: California Connection (1983, Rounder): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lenny Breau & Brad Terry: The Living Room Tapes (1978 [1995], Dos): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jack DeJohnette: Sorcery (1974, Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Tin Can Alley (1980 [1981], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Inflation Blues (1982 [1983], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jack DeJohnette: Parallel Realities (1990, MCA): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jack DeJohnette: Special Edition (1979-84 [2012], ECM, 4CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Manu Dibango: Wakafrika (1994, Giant): [r]: B+(**)
  • Luderin Darbone's Hackberry Ramblers: Early Recordings: 1935-1950 (1935-50 [2003], Arhoolie): [r]: B+(***)
  • Luderin Darbone's Hackberry Ramblers: Jole Blonde (1963-65 [1993], Arhoolie): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Hackberry Ramblers: Cajun Boogie (1992, Flying Fish): [cd]: A-
  • The Johnson Mountain Boys: At the Old Schoolhouse (1988 [1989], Rounder): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ketama/Toumani Diabate/José Soto: Songhai 2 (1994, Hannibal): [r]: B+(*)
  • Shoukichi Kina: Peppermint Tea House: The Best of Shoukichi Kina (1980-91 [1994], Luaka Bop): [r]: B+(**)
  • Tony Lakatos/Rick Margitza/Gábor Bolla: Gypsy Tenors (2017, Skip): [r]: B+(**)
  • Yo-Yo Ma: The Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla (1998, Sony Classical): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michael Mantler: No Answer (1973 [1974], Watt): [r]: B-
  • Michael Mantler: Silence (1976 [1977], Watt): [r]: B
  • Michael Mantler: No Answer/Silence (1973-76 [2000], Watt, 2CD): [r]: B
  • Oujda-Casablanca Introspections, Vol. 1 (1988-93 [1994], Barbarity): [cd]: A-
  • Romeo Must Die: The Album (2000, Virgin): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Wallace Roney: The Wallace Roney Quintet (1995 [1996], Warner Bros.): [cd]: B
  • Archie Shepp/Jasper Van't Hof: Live in Concert: Mama Rose (1982, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
  • Third World Cop [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1999 [2000], Palm Pictures): [cd]: A-
  • McCoy Tyner Big Band: Journey (1993, Birdology): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Jasper Van't Hof/Ernie Watts/Bo Stieff Face to Face: Canossa (1998, Intuition): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Viva La Musica & Papa Wemba: Pôle Position (1995, Sonodisc): [r]: A-
  • Papa Wemba: Papa Wemba [Destin Ya Moto] (1988, Disques Espérance): [r]: B+(**)
  • Papa Wemba: Papa Wemba [M'Fono Yami] (1988 [1989], Stern's Africa): [r]: B+(**)
  • Papa Wemba: M'zée Fula-Ngenge (1999, Sonodisco): [r]: B+(***)
  • Steve Williamson: A Waltz for Grace (1990, Verve): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Yosuke Yamashita/Bill Laswell/Ryuichi Sakamoto: Asian Games (1988 [1993], Verve Forecast): [cd]: B

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Viva La Musica/Papa Wemba: Nouvelle Écriture: Dans L' (1998, Sonodisc): [cd]: [was: B] B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ray Blue: Work (Jazzheads): October 12
  • Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (Ridgeway): October 25
  • DSC [Leon Lee Dorsey/Greg Skaff/Mike Clark]: Monktime (Jazz Avenue 1): September 13
  • Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (Clean Feed): November 8
  • Haruna Fukazawa: Departure (Summit)
  • Olli Hirvonen: Displace (Ropeadope): August 30
  • Florian Hoefner Trio: First Spring (ALMA): September 27
  • Todd Marcus: Trio+ (Stricker Street): November 15
  • Derel Monteith: Connemara: Solo Piano Improvisations (self-released): October 18
  • Derel Monteith Trio: Quantity of Life (self-released): October 18
  • Vaughn Nark: Back in the Day (Summit)
  • Dana Saul: Ceiling (Endectomorph): September 13
  • Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (Outside In Music): October 25
  • Emi Takada: Why Did I Choose You? (self-released): September 1

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Weekend Roundup

There are more than a few "Trump's gone nuts" moments below. Not the first time this has happened, but the count is definitely rising (and continuing as the G-7 articles arrive). The Fallows links below offer an extended opportunity to plot Trump's decline. Also see Steve M: Even if Trump is impaired, he won't go quietly. He cites Charles Pierce recalling the 1984 Reagan-Mondale debate as the occasion when he realized that Reagan exhibited clear signs of Alzheimer's. I recall watching that debate, and thinking I've never seen a more one-sided drubbing, yet Reagan went on to a landslide victory that November. On the other hand, I also came away very annoyed with Mondale, who scored many of his points by being more resolutely (recklessly even) anti-communist than Reagan -- whose own Cold War ardor was undoubted but, at least in person, tempered by his genial incoherence.

Trump's incoherence is less benign, partly because he projects a degree of menace (resentment and vitriol) Reagan never projected. But also Reagan was never his own man. He was the front guy, hired as the face and mouth, reading from prepared scripts, happy to be playing a role, while his evil "kitchen cabinet" called the shots. Trump has always been a one-man show, with few (if any) competent advisers, but with great faith in his ability to wing it. Early on, all presidents are dazed and overwhelmed at first, allowing their staffs to hold sway over the administration. However, deference and ego eventually favor the president, who eventually take charge of what matters most. It took GW Bush well into his second term to get out from under Cheney's thumb. Obama and Clinton evolved faster because they knew more, but in both of those cases early staff decisions did a lot of damage. Trump got saddled with a lot of hardcore GOP regulars early on, but most of them have been purged, allowing Trump to replace them with flunkies distinguished mostly by their sycophancy. The result is that when Trump wigs out, we no longer have the comfort of "adults in the room" to contain the damage.

I imagine you could plot two curves here. One shows the increased fragility of the administration (and really the whole country) as competent people are replaced with ones who are less so (and/or are too crooked to know better). The other would is the increasing likelihood that Trump himself will break down and blow something up. (Too early to call his performance at G-7, but it should be enough to give you a fright.)

The Democratic presidential campaign thinned out a bit, with Seth Moulton, Jay Inslee, and John Hickenlooper ending their campaigns. Meanwhile, Joe Walsh will offer Trump some token ultra-conservative opposition.

Some scattered links this week:

   Mar 2001