Streamnotes: June 26, 2023

Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on May 29. Past reviews and more information are available here (21991 records).

Recent Releases

6lack: Since I Have a Lover (2023, Interscope): Singer-rapper Ricardo Valentine, born in Baltimore but grew up in Atlanta. B+(**) [sp]

Gracie Abrams: Good Riddance (2023, Interscope): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, first album, soft-spoken and very steady. Trails off a bit toward the end. B+(***) [sp]

Amaarae: Fountain Baby (2023, Interscope): R&B singer, Ama Genfi, born in New York, raised in Atlanta and Ghana, where she is based now. Second album. Interesting in various subtle ways until the punk "Sex, Violence, Suicide" erupts, which makes one wonder about the rest. A- [sp]

Roxana Amed/Frank Carlberg: Los Trabajos Y Las Noches (2022 [2023], Sony Music Latin): Argentinian singer, albums since 2004, has developed some jazz cred of late, which the pianist and a group that includes Adam Kolker (clarinets/tenor sax), Simon Willson (bass), and Michael Sarin (drums) adds to. Still goes slow, laden down with art song. B+(*) [cd]

Charlie Apicella & Iron City Meet The Griots Speak: Destiny Calling (2022 [2023], OA2): Guitarist, eighth album, usually plays groove-oriented fusion/soul jazz (his 2019 album was called Groove Machine), surprises here by hooking up with "legends of the 1960s NYC loft scene": Daniel Carter (saxes, flute, clarinet, trumpet, piano), William Parker (bass, doson ngoni), and Juma Sultan (congas, percussion). He means 1970s (Sultan was born in 1942, Carter 1945, Parker 1952). B+(***) [cd]

Amber Arcades: Barefoot on Diamond Road (2023, Fire): Alias for Dutch singer-songwriter Annelotte de Graaf, third album since 2016, following EPs going back to 2013. B+(*) [sp]

Vicente Archer: Short Stories (2022 [2023], Cellar): Bassist, first album as leader but has 70+ side credits, starting with Donald Harrison in 1999. He wrote three (of ten) pieces here, with pianist Gerald Clayton contributing one and drummer Bill Stewart two. B+(**) [cd]

Christian Artmann: The Middle of Life (2021-22 [2023], Sunnyside): Flute player from Germany, studied at Berklee, Princeton, and Harvard Law, based near San Francisco, fourth album, backed with piano (Laszlo Gardony), bass, and drums, with vocals (Elena McEntire) on three tracks. B [cd]

Asake: Work of Art (2023, YBNL Nation): Nigerian singer-songwriter Ahmed Ololade, stage name is his mother's, second album. B+(**) [sp]

Nanny Assis: Rovanio: The Music of Nanny Assis (2023, In + Out): Brazilian singer-songwriter, percussionist, has some forty years experience but not much on Discogs. Lines up a notable array of jazz musicians for this career review. B+(**) [cd]

Atmosphere: So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously (2023, Rhymesayers Entertainment): Underground hip-hop duo from Minnesota, Sean Daley (Slug) and Anthony Davis (ANT), many albums since 1997. B+(***) [sp]

Baby Rose: Through and Through (2023, Secretly Canadian): Soul singer, born 1994 in Washington, DC; full name Jasmine Rose Wilson; second album after a mixtape and a couple EPs (one with J Dilla). Her default is a slow ballad, sometimes sultry, occasionally livened up by a guest rapper. B+(*) [sp]

Kelsea Ballerini: Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (2023, Black River, EP): Singer-songwriter, slotted as country but doesn't quite have the sound (Lana Del Rey is more her archetype). Dropped this on Valentine's Day, thinking about her recent divorce, which helps add some gravitas. Six songs, 15:54. B+(**) [sp]

Bar Italia: Tracey Denim (2023, Matador): British lo-fi group, third album, Italian-born Nina Cristante the main singer. Grows on me but no clear idea why. B+(***) [sp]

BC Camplight: The Last Rotation of Earth (2023, Bella Union): Alias for Brian Christinzio, sixth album since 2006. B [sp]

Beach Fossils: Bunny (2023, Bayonet): Indie band from Brooklyn, fourth album since 2010. Fairly mild with a little jangle. [sp]

BigXthaPlug: Amar (2023, United Masters): Texas rapper, poppin' his "shit on a whole other level." B+(*) [sp]

Michael Bisio/Timothy Hill: Inside Voice/Outside Voice (2022 [2023], Origin): Bassist, mostly associated with avant-garde, here in a rather spare duo with the guitarist-singer. Centerpiece is "I Fall in Love Too Easily," which isn't easy at all. B+(*) [cd]

Black Country, New Road: Live at Bush Hall (2023, Ninja Tune): British group, from Cambridgeshire, their first two albums (2021-22) much hyped and highly regarded -- I liked them well enough, but can't say I was much of a fan. Then lead singer Isaac Wood up and quit before the second appeared. The other six members persevered, promoting May Karshaw and Tyler Hyde to lead vocalists, going on the road to sort out a new batch of songs. This is the result, decent enough, though I'm still not much of a fan. B+(*) [sp]

Robert Sarazin Blake: One Summer Night: Live at the 2018 Subdued Stringband Jamboree (2023, Same Room): Folkie singer-songwriter, more than a dozen albums since 1996. B+(**) [sp]

Blondshell: Blondshell (2023, Partisan): Singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum, father a hedge fund mogul, recorded an EP and some singles as BAUM, first album under this alias. Wikipedia has a long section on "Personal Life," which I read as read as "rich people are fucked up too, but can afford fancier labels." B+(*) [sp]

Blue Cranes: My Only Secret (2022 [2023], Jealous Butcher/Beacon Sound): Quintet from Portland: two saxes, keyboards, bass, and drums. Eighth album supposedly moves in new directions, but fusion that only intermittently passes as jazz has trouble sustaining interest. B [cd] [08-11]

Bully: Lucky for You (2023, Sub Pop): Band alias for singer-songwriter Alicia Bognanno, fourth album, looks back to 1990s grunge. B+(**) [sp]

Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra: The Gennett Suite (2023, Patois, 2CD): Indiana-based big band, led by Mark Buselli (trumpet) and Brent Wallarab (trombone), with the latter handling most of the composer-arranger duties. Ninth album since 2002, starts with pieces from the Gennett early jazz label, punches them up, and builds some more. Comes with a hardcover booklet, which explains the history, including King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. B+(***) [cd]

Chris Byars Quartet: Look Ahead (2023, SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, largely invented what we might call "retro-bop," which he is likely to extend into a career comparable to what Scott Hamilton did with "retro-swing." Quartet with Pasquale Grasso (guitar), Ari Roland (bass), and Keith Balla (drums). Not as explicit as many of his albums, just comfortable in his secure worldview. B+(***) [sp]

Gail Caesar: Guitar Woman Blues (2023, Music Maker): From Virginia, b. 1984, probably her first album, an acoustic set singing over guitar. B+(**) [bc]

André Carvalho: Lost in Translation Vol. II (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese bassist, with André Matos (guitar) and José Soares (sax). Quiet, bordering on atmospheric. B+(*) [bc]

Eddie Chacon: Sundown (2023, Stones Throw): Half of the 1990s neo-soul duo Charles & Eddie -- with Charles Pettigrew (1963-2001) -- returned to music with a 2020 album, now this one, an understated quiet storm. B+(*) [sp]

Clark: Sus Dog (2023, Throttle): British electronica producer Chris Clark, thirteenth album since 2001. B [sp]

Conway the Machine: Won't He Do It (2023, Drumwork/Empire): Buffalo rapper, lots of mixtapes from 2014 on, third studio album. B+(**) [sp]

Mario Costa/Cuong Vu/Benoît Delbecq/Bruno Chevillon: Chromosome (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese drummer, leads a quartet with trumpet, piano, and bass. B+(*) [bc]

Davido: Timeless (2023, DMW/Columbia): Nigerian afropop star, David Adeleke, actually born in Atlanta, grew up in Lagos, studied business in Alabama, returned to launch his career -- no doubt helps that his father is one of the richest people in Nigeria. Fourth album. B+(**) [sp]

Clarence "Bluesman" Davis: Shake It for Me (2023, Music Maker): Born 1945 in or near Eufala, Alabama, where he still lives. Seems to be his first album, but has a steady sound, with a little extra jangle to the guitar -- reminiscent of the label's 2020 compilation Hanging Tree Guitars. A- [bc]

Indigo De Souza: All of This Will End (2023, Saddle Creek): Singer-songwriter, from North Carolina, father "a Brazilian guitarist who was absent during much of her childhood," third album. Half impressed me, scales up poorly. B+(*) [sp]

Depeche Mode: Memento Mori (2023, Columbia/Mute): Big UK synthpop band in the 1980s, have released a new album every 3-4 years since (up to 2017, so this one comes after a six year break), all 15 albums charting top-ten in UK (as did 8 in US) -- although this is the first I've bothered with since 1993. This one got exceptional reviews, but it's hard to discern what the fuss is about, or to imagine what my inattention missed. B- [sp]

Dinner Party: Enigmatic Society (2023, Sounds of Crenshaw, EP): Group name from the 7-track 2020 EP produced by 9th Wonder, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, and Terrace Martin (which I filed under Martin). Nine songs, 24:55. B [sp]

Dropkick Murphys: Okemah Rising (2023, Dummy Luck Music): "Celtic punk" band from Boston, dozen albums since 1998, recorded this one in Tulsa. B+(*) [sp]

Jeremy Dutton: Anyone Is Better Than Here (2023, self-released): Drummer-composer, first album, side credits back to 2018 with James Francies (piano here) and Joel Ross (vibes). Also draws on spot help from Ben Wendel (sax on 8/12 tracks), Mike Moreno (guitar on 7), and Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet on 2), plus bass (Matt Brewer or Daryl Johns). B+(**) [cd]

Bob Dylan: Shadow Kingdom (2021 [2023], Legacy): Soundtrack to a film of Dylan and a coterie of masked musicians in a studio, playing mostly 1960s-vintage songs, few hits but most recognizable enough, ending in a sly instrumental. I was struck by the furious way Dylan ripped into his songs on the solo side of Before the Flood. Well, this is the opposite of that: fond, light-hearted, scarcely nostalgic. B+(***) [sp]

The Ekphrastics: Special Delivery (2023, Harriet): Indie band picks obscure name, writes pleasant songs I don't quite get. B+(*) [sp]

En Attendant Ana: Principia (2023, Trouble in Mind): French group, third album, songs in English, Margaux Bouchaudon the singer. Reminds me a bit of Belle & Sebastian, but doesn't connect as readily. B [sp]

Ensemble 0: Jojoni [Made to Measure Vol. 49] (2023, Crammed Discs): Minimalist group from France, founded in 2004 and directed by Stéphane Garin and Sylvain Chauveau. Seven pieces here, built around drum machine and jangly percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Kari Faux: Real B*tches Don't Die! (2023, Drink Sum Wtr): Rapper Kari Rose Johnson, third studio album plus several mixtapes. B+(*) [sp]

Feeble Little Horse: Girl With Fish (2023, Saddle Creek): Indie pop band from Pittsburgh, second album, lo-fi and off-kilter and occasionally glitchy, the vocals only approximately in tune, which is close enough. B+(***) [sp]

Feist: Multitudes (2023, Polydor): Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist, sixth studio album since 1999, two of which charted top-20. At her most solemn, sounds a bit like Joni Mitchell, but builds a bit more on top, and is more interesting when she does ("Borrow Trouble"). B+(*) [sp]

Amanda Fields: What, When and Without (2023, Are and Be): Country singer-songwriter, first album, likes them slow and sweet, although it's not quite that simple. B+(**) [sp]

Béla Fleck/Zakir Hussain/Edgar Meyer: As We Speak (2023, Thirty Tigers): Banjo player, born in New York, debut 1979, expanded beyond bluegrass to jazz and world music. Second album with Hussain (tabla) and Meyer (bass), joined by (featuring credit on cover) Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri, an Indian bamboo flute). B+(*) [sp]

Caesar Frazier: Tenacity (As We Speak) (2022, TrackMerchant): Organ player, from Indianapolis, recorded three albums 1972-78, then nothing until 2018. Gets a shot here with mainstreamers Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Peter Bernstein (guitar), and Vince Ector (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Caesar Frazier: Live at Jazzcup (2023, Stunt): The organ player goes to Sweden, where his pickup group includes Johannes Wamberg (guitar), Kresten Osgood (drums), and Jonas Kullhammar (tenor sax), whose extra edge is critical. B+(**) [sp]

Debby Friday: Good Luck (2023, Sub Pop): From Nigeria, raised in Montreal, moved on to Vancouver, then Toronto. First album, no agreement on genre (electronic, hip-hop, industrial). Only one this reminds me of is Patti Smith, but digging for music roots, substitute Cabaret Voltaire for MC5. A- [sp]

Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double: March On (2019 [2023], self-released): Drummer, assembled this group -- his usual trio with Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet) and Mary Halvorson (guitar), plus a second one with Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Brandon Seabrook (guitar), and Gerald Cleaver (drums) -- for his 2022 album March. This download-only "EP" is an outtake: three tiny slivers of sound, plus the 31:27 title piece. B+(***) [dl]

Noah Haidu: Standards (2023, Sunnyside): Pianist, from New York, sixth album since 2011, last one was dedicated to Keith Jarrett, now this one is keyed to the 40th anniversary of Jarrett's Standards Trio. With bass (Buster Williams or Peter Washington) and drums (Lewis Nash), plus Steve Wilson (sax, but back cover says drums) on four tracks. B+(**) [cd]

Jack Harlow: Jackman (2023, Generation Now/Atlantic): Best-selling white rapper from Louisville, never heard of him until I saw him hosting Saturday Night Live, by which time he had two albums out: with this one, his AOTY scores are { 60(4), 48(10), 55(6) }, with tags: corny, overhated, white, mid, pop rap, bad. I'd say underwhelming, but pretty decent. B+(*) [sp]

Alexander Hawkins Trio: Carnival Celestial (2022 [2023], Intakt): British pianist, cover notes "with" Neil Charles (bass) and Stephen Davis (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Phil Haynes/Drew Gress/David Liebman: Coda(s): No Fast Food III (2022 [2023], Corner Store Jazz, 2CD): Drummer, from Oregon, album credits since 1984, often with the late Paul Smoker. Released the first No Fast Food album, with Gress (bass) and Liebman (sax, usually soprano), in 2014. Nice free jazz play, the discs short enough they could have been combined (31 and 35 minutes). B+(***) [cd]

Heinali: Kyiv Eternal (2023, Injazero): Ukrainian electronica producer Oleg Shpudeiko, over a dozen albums since 2010. Ambient drone, thankfully not interrupted by cruise missiles. B+(*) [sp]

Keigo Hirakawa: Pixel (2022 [2023], Origin): Pianist, born in Japan, raised in Ohio, has at least one previous album. Postbop quintet with Rafael Statin (reeds), guitar, bass, and drums. Fast, with some particularly hot spots. B+(**) [cd]

Ben Howard: Is It? (2023, Island): British singer-songwriter, branded folk but leaning into electronics, which is more electropop than techno. B+(*) [sp]

Ian Hunter: Defiance Part 1 (2023, Sun): Some young dudes manage to get old, in this case 83. He hasn't been especially prolific, with this his first studio album since 2014. But he seems in good voice, and rounded up a famous dudes to help out, although not even Ringo Starr or Jeff Beck are older. B+(*) [sp]

Illegal Crowns: Unclosing (2022 [2023], Out of Your Heads): Quartet, major talents, in given order: Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet/flugelhorn), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Benoit Delbecq (piano). Three tracks each except Bynum. Seems like it should be sharper but everyone fits tightly in their chamber jazz concept. B+(**) [cd]

Império Pacifico: Clubs Hit (2023, Variz): Electronica duo from Portugal: Luan Bellussi and Pedro Tavares. Second album, neat beats and blips. Six tracks, 35:56. B+(**) [sp]

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Weathervanes (2023, Southeastern): Singer-songwriter, started in Drive-By Truckers, went solo in 2007 and started co-crediting his band in 2009. Reputation precedes him, but I've never had the patience to figure out whether it's deserved. But he's singing as passionately as ever, and for once the sound is ingratiating enough to invite further inspection. For instance, consider: "I thank God you weren't brought up like me, with all that shame and certainty." A- [sp]

Javon Jackson: With Peter Bradley: Soundtrack and Original Score (2021-22 [2023], Solid Jackson): Tenor saxophonist, nominally a soundtrack for a documentary on the painter/sculptor (b. 1940), but sounds like a fairly tight group set, with Greg Glassman (trumpet) on most tracks, backed by plain (Jeremy Manasia), bass (David Williams), and drums (Charles Goold or McClenty Hunter). B+(***) [cd]

Boldy James & Rich Gains: Indiana Jones (2023, self-released): Rapper from Atlanta via Detroit, eleventh album since 2013, co-credited with various producers, this the first with Gains. Low-key delivery, bleak aesthetic, tucked in tight. B+(**) [sp]

Christine Jensen: Day Moon (2023, Justin Time): Alto/soprano saxophonist, from Canada. Quartet with Steve Amirault (piano), Adrian Vedady (bass), Jim Doxas (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Stephen Jones & Ben Haugland: Road to No-Where (2021 [2023], OA2): Saxophone (soprano/tenor) and piano duets, plus trumpet/flugelhorn (Kevin Whalen) on two tracks. Originals divided 2-3 in favor of the pianist, with four standards. Opens with a lovely "Without a Song." B+(**) [cd]

JustVibez + Negro Justice: Art of the Craft (2023, self-released): Nashville hip-hop duo, Negro Justice the rapper, Justvibez the producer. B+(**) [bc]

Kaisa's Machine: Taking Shape (2022 [2023], Greenleaf Music): Finnish bassist Kaisa Mäensivu, second album, with new group members Tivon Pennicott (tenor sax on 5 tracks), Max Light (guitar), Sasha Berliner (vibes on 2), Eden Ladin (piano), and Joe Peri (drums). Postbop with spirit and edge. B+(**) [cd] [07-07]

Ryan Keberle's Collectiv Do Brasil: Considerando (2023, Alternate Side): Trombone player, from Indiana, based in New York, albums since 2007, second Collectiv Do Brasil album, this one recorded in Săo Paulo with Felipe Silveira (piano), Felipe Brisola (bass), and Paulinho Vicente (drums). Brazilian tilt is subtle. B+(**) [cd] [07-14]

Kill Bill: The Rapper: Fullmetal Kaiju (2023, Exociety): Rapper Dennis Nettles, half-dozen previous albums since 2014. Underground, with slack beats and sly jokes, and a bit of weirdness that hasn't fully registered yet. B+(**) [sp]

Killer Mike: Michael (2023, Loma Vista): Atlanta rapper Michael Render, five albums 2003-12, since then has focused on his duo with El-P, Run the Jewels. Looks back here, with gospel effects. B+(**) [sp]

Ladytron: Time's Arrow (2023, Cooking Vinyl): English electropop group, seventh album since 2001. Helen Marnie the lead singer, backed by synthesizers and some guitar. B+(*) [sp]

Larkin Poe: Blood Harmony (2022, Tricki-Woo): Southern roots-rock band, principally sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell, originally from north Georgia but based in Nashville, regular albums since 2011. Guitars aplenty. B+(*) [sp]

Gordon Lee Quartet: How Can It Be? (2022 [2023], PJCE): Pianist, based in Portland, been around a bit, with a 1990 Quartet album and his 2004 GLeeful Big Band. With Renato Caranto (tenor sax), Dennis Caiazza (bass), and Gary Hobbs (drums). B+(**) [cd]

SG Lewis: AudioLust & HigherLove (2023, PMR/EMI): Initials for Samuel George, British electropop/disco producer, second album, with singles going back to 2015. Structured as two LPs, fits onto a single 62-minute CD. Not a lot of vocal presence, but I'm just as happy with the vamps. B+(***) [sp]

Lil Yachty: Let's Start Here (2023, Quality Control Music/UMG): Atlanta rapper Miles McCollum, was barely still 19 when his debut, Teenage Emotions, dropped. Fifth album here, time for a reboot. The cover, with its mismatched face parts, is genuinely disturbing, suggesting AI run amok -- or psychedelic, which seems to be the default music tag, whatever that means (mostly clouds of guitar-and-keyboard wash). He's turned into a singer. Give him a beat and some edges and he might develop into a third-generation Prince. B+(*) [sp]

The Mark Lomax Trio: Tapestry (2022 [2023], CFG Multimedia): Drummer, should be esteemed as one of the world's best but remains little known, offers "a four-movement tone poem inspired by four pieces in Johnson's Tapestry series." (Johnson?) The Trio includes the even more unjustly unrecognized Edwin Bayard (tenor sax) and their regular bassist, Dean Hulett. A- [os]

Bill Lowe and the Signifyin' Natives Ensemble: Sweet Cane: Suites and Other Pedagogical Prompts (2021 [2023], Mandorla Music): Plays bass trombone and tuba, not much under his own name but side-credits back to 1975, played with Frank Foster early on, Henry Threadgill, Darrell Katz, has been a regular in the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. Group here has vocalist Naledi Masilo and a fairly stellar lineup: Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet/flugelhorn), Hafez Modirzadeh (alto sax/hoof-seed rattle/b'kongofon), Kevin Harris (piano), Ken Filiano (bass), and Luther Gray (drums). B+(***) [bc]

M83: Fantasy (2023, Mute/Virgin): French synthpop band, principally Anthony Gonzalez, ninth album since 2001. B [sp]

Mandy, Indiana: I've Seen a Way (2023, Fire Talk): Group from Manchester, UK, with French vocalist Valentine Caulfield and Scott Fair (guitar), with Simon Catling (synth) and Alex MacDougall (drums). Group name a variant on Gary, Indiana, presumably chosen for their post-industrial klang, although the steel industry abandoned Gary long ago. B+(**) [sp]

Gia Margaret: Romantic Piano (2021-22 [2023], Jagjaguwar): Pianist, from Chicago, two previous albums which generally slot as ambient. Twelve short pieces (26:42), most solo but occasionally picks up some help. B+(*) [sp]

Brian McCarthy Nonet: After|Life (2022 [2023], Truth Revolution): Alto/soprano saxophonist, has a couple previous albums. Group includes trumpet, trombone, three more saxophones, with piano, bass, drums. Some fine solo work, less distinctive ensemble. B+(**) [cd]

Ryan Meagher: AftEarth (2021 [2023], Atroefy): Guitarist, based in Portland, sixth album, quartet with Tim Willcox (sax), Andrew Jones (bass), and Charlie Doggett (drums). Most impressive when they risk a little noise, but they offer a nice mix in any case. Packaged with a 62-page booklet of pen-and-ink drawings by Tina Granzo, themed to the pieces, or vice versa. B+(***) [cd]

Greg Mendez: Greg Mendez (2023, Forged Artifacts, EP): Singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, third "album," I see him being compared to Alex G, which doesn't do much for me. Eight songs, 23:08. B- [sp]

Metro Boomin: Heroes & Villains (2022, Boominati/Republic): Hip-hop producer Leland Tyler Wayne, has co-credits with 21 Savage, and a previous album which exposed his superhero theme. This offers one side each way, but I'm more stuck by his steady hand. B+(**) [sp]

Metro Boomin: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse [Soundtrack From & Inspired by the Motion Picture] (2022, Boominati/Republic): Payoff for his superhero obsession, a Marvell soundtrack tie-in, with enough budget for a star-laden guest list. Still, the thirteen pieces are about what you'd expect in the hip-hop producer's third album: the music is a bit more varied, the lyrics every bit as forgettable. Meanwhile, a separate release credited to Daniel Pemberton collects 107 minutes of background score as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse [Original Score]. I'll pass on that one. B+(*) [r]

Model/Actriz: Dogsbody (2023, True Panther Sounds): New York band, first album after several singles (first in 2017), Cole Haden the singer/auteur, his angst rising from sonic depths -- I wouldn't call it noise, but it does remind me of where that rose from in the early 1980s. B+(***) [sp]

Noshir Mody: A Love Song (2023, self-released): Indian guitarist, based in New York, half-dozen albums since 2000. Short album (32:42), nice flow, flugelhorn solo (Benjamin Hankle), ends with a vocal (Kate Victor). B+(*) [cd]

Janelle Monáe: The Age of Pleasure (2023, Bad Boy): Funk/pop star, from Kansas City (the one in Kansas), dropped last name Robinson, fourth album, a more modest effort than her last couple, clocking in at 31:49, but still a delight. A- [sp]

MSPAINT: Post-American (2023, Convulse): Postpunk band from Hattiesburg, Mississippi; substitutes a synthesizer for the usual guitar, backed by bass and drums, with a singer going as Deedee. B+(**) [sp]

Nakibembe Embaire Group: Nakibembe Embaire Group (2023, Nyege Nyege Tapes): Ugandan group, Nakibembe is their home town, embaire is large wooden xylophone. [sp]

Meshell Ndegeocello: The Omnichord Real Book (2023, Blue Note): Singer-songwriter, originally Michelle Lynn Johnson, adopted name (from Swahili) has been streamlined over the years. Thirteenth album since 1993, her credit "instrumentation, vocals, liner notes," with fifteen other musicians credited on one or two songs each. B+(*) [sp]

Tracy Nelson: Life Don't Miss Nobody (2023, BMG): Started in the rock group Mother Earth (1967-71), aside from the 1980-93 stretch has recorded regularly since, slotted variously as folk, country, and/or blues without evolving much. Credibly covers some obvious songs, along with a couple of her own. And for a guest spot, Willie Nelson takes her "Honky Tonkin'." B+(**) [sp]

Nourished by Time: Erotic Probiotic 2 (2023, Scenic Route): Marcus Brown, from Baltimore, debut album (after a 7-inch called Erotic Probiotic). Mixed bag of soul moves. B [sp]

Kevin O'Connell Quartet Featuring Adam Brenner: Hot New York Minutes (2023, Ignoramus Music): Pianist, started with Clifford Jordan in the late 1980s, although he doesn't have much under his own name. Brenner plays sax, the quartet rounded out with bass (Paul Gill) and drums (Mark Taylor). B+(**) [cd]

Oddisee: To What End (2023, Outer Note): DC rapper Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, father from Sudan, tenth album since 2008, underground beats, weaves a half-dozen mostly unknown guests into a tight tapestry. "What does it matter if it's less or more the same?" B+(***) [sp]

Linda May Han Oh: The Glass Hours (2023, Biophilia): Bassist, born in Malaysia, raised in Australia, based in New York, sings some but it's mostly Sara Serpa's scat here, crowding out Mark Turner's tenor sax, with Fabian Amalzan (piano + electronics) and Obed Calvaire (bass). B [sp]

Dave Okumu & the Seven Generations: I Come From Love (2023, Transgressive): Singer-songwriter, born in Vienna, moved to UK when he was ten, fronted The Invisible (2009-16), solo album in 2021, also part of London Brew, production credits include Jessie Ware. Rather hard for me to follow, although the spoken word reminds me of Gil Scott-Heron, and the few words I catch reinforce the link. Some (slim) chance I'm massively underrating this. B+(*) [sp]

Orbital: Optical Delusion (2023, London): Electronic music duo, from England, brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll, tenth album since 1991. B+(*) [sp]

Overmono: Good Lies (2023, XL): British electronica duo, brothers Ed and Tom Russell (aka Tessela and Truss/MPIA3). First album, after a dozen or more EPs and DJ mixes since 2017, although each has work back to 2011 under their aliases. B+(*) [sp]

Panic Shack: Baby Shack (2022, Brace Yourself, EP): Postpunk group from Cardiff, Wales; Sarah Harvey the lead singer. Six songs, 18:20. B+(**) [sp]

Pere Ubu: Trouble on Big Beat Street (2023, Cherry Red): Punk progenitor from Cleveland, group named for Alfred Jarry's definitively pompous and callous pataphysician, first EP in 1975, David Thomas (now 70) the distinctive singer and weirdo. Sound and wit still sharp, but could be more tuneful. B+(**) [sp]

P!nk: Trustfall (2023, RCA): Pop singer-songwriter, Alecia Moore, ninth studio album since 2000. A bit more ballad-heavy than I'd prefer. B+(**) [sp]

Rozi Plain: Prize (2023, Memphis Industries): Actual surname Leyden, English singer-songwriter, half-dozen albums since 2008. B+(*) [sp]

Pony: Velveteen (2023, Take This to Heart): Jangle-pop band fronted by Sam Bielanski, songs co-written with Matty Morand; second album. B+(*) [sp]

Shelton Powe: Shelton Powe (2022, Music Maker): Blues singer-guitarist, b. 1957, in the "Piedmont finger-style guitar tradition of his parents and elders." Also has a thing for religious songs, which he sings as casually as "Railroad Bill." B+(**) [bc]

Smokey Robinson: Gasms (2023, TLR): Now 83, early Motown songwriter, fronted the Miracles, went solo in 1973, couple dozen albums since, this the first set of new material since 2009. Title refers to moments of pleasure, a concept that includes but extends beyond sex, not that he's lost interest in such things. B+(**) [sp]

Caroline Rose: The Art of Forgetting (2023, New West): Singer-songwriter from Long Island, tried her hand at folk/country, moved on to more pop/rock, fifth album since 2012. "Only the rich get second chances." And: "come on babe, take all this pain, and learn to love yourself again." B+(*) [sp]

Esther Rose: Safe to Run (2023, New West): Singer-songwriter, originally from Michigan, tried New Orleans before moving to New Mexico; first recorded (2013) with then-husband Luke Winslow-King, fourth solo album since. B+(**) [sp]

Frankie Rose: Love as Projection (2023, Slumberland): Singer-songwriter, was in several bands -- Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls -- before going with her name in Frankie Rose and the Outs in 2010. Sixth solo album since. B [sp]

Rust Dust: Twere but It Were so Simple (2023, Omad): Singer-songwriter Jason Stutts, based in Brooklyn, plays guitar, second album, contemplating the cosmos. B+(**) [sp]

Samia: Honey (2023, Grand Jury): Singer-songwriter from New York, last name Finnerty, second album. B+(*) [sp]

Jacques Schwarz-Bart: The Harlem Suite (2021 [2023], Ropeadope): Saxophonist from Guadeloupe, parents were writers and family traveled widely; he studied at Berklee, but always worked elements from the French Caribbean into his music. Debut 1999. B+(*) [sp]

Dave Scott: Song for Alice (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): Trumpet player, debug 1996, sixth album on this label since 2007, a quintet with Rich Perry (tenor sax), Gary Versace (piano), Johannes Weidenmueller (bass), and Mark Ferber (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Jeffrey Scott: Going Down to Georgia on a Hog (2023, Music Maker): Nephew of John Jackson (1924-2002), a Piedmont bluesman who gave up playing in 1949, then got "discovered" in the late 1960s, a readymade classic. Many details about Scott are unclear, but he runs a farm, raises hogs and Texas longhorns, does side work as a mortician and long-haul truck driver, and picks and sings his way through a dozen folk blues, some well known. Voice reminds me of a different Jackson, an even older Memphis songster, Jim Jackson (1876-1933). B+(***) [bc]

Screaming Females: Desire Pathway (2023, Don Giovanni): New Jersey band, eighth album since 2006, Marissa Paternoster the lead screamer and (presumably) only female. B [sp]

The Selva: Camarăo-Girafa (2021 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese trio: Ricard Jacinto (cello, electronics, harmonium); Gonçalo Almeida (bass, electronics), and Nuno Morăo (drums). Third album. B+(**) [bc]

Shalom: Sublimation (2023, Saddle Creek): Singer-songwriter, raised in South Africa, based in Brooklyn, exotic credentials at odds with the very straightforward (but far from boring) rock framework. That lifts the introspection up enough to be notable, even a bit fun. B+(***) [sp]

Edward Simon: Femeninas: Songs of Latin American Women (2023, ArtistShare): Venezuelan pianist, moved to US when he was ten, studied in New York, based in San Francisco, couple dozen albums since 1994. Featuring credit for Mexican singer Magos Herrera, with the band also listed on the cover: Adam Cruz (drums), Reuben Rogers (bass), and Luis Quintero (percussion). Includes a three-part piece by Simon (lyrics by Herrera), plus eight songs as advertised (two from Brazil also feature guitar by Romero Lubambo). B+(*) [cdr]

Paul Simon: Seven Psalms (2023, Owl/Legacy): Past 80, wrote this "meditation on faith and death" in the middle of the night, flowing out of dream time, then jammed all seven pieces into one 33:02 cut that seems much longer. B [sp]

Skech185 & Jeff Markey: He Left Nothing for the Swim Back (2023, Backwoodz Studioz): Rapper Willie McIntyre Jr. and producer Markey, vocals a harsh growl but the beats keep coming. B+(**) [sp]

Son Volt: Day of the Doug: The Songs of Doug Sahm (2023, Transmit Sound): Country-rock band led by Jay Farrer, after Uncle Tupelo broke up. Eleventh album since 1995. B+(*) [sp]

Sparks: The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte (2023, Island): Brothers Ron and Russell Mael, brilliantly lampooned their jangly falsetto shtick with their sophomore title (A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing), tempted me with their next two albums, after which I grew annoyed and tuned out. But fifty years later, they're still at it, garnering more praise than ever, but still annoyiong. B- [sp]

Squid: O Monolith (2023, Warp): British band, from Brighton, second album, Ollie Judge the singer and drummer. This is gnarly enough I wonder if they have the potential to be something like Pavement. But I doubt it, and I'm not even sure that would be a good idea. B+(**) [sp]

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives: Altitude (2023, Snakefarm): Country singer, debut 1978, never a big star but had some success in the 1990s, as he started to build his reputation for bluegrass. Dubbed this band in 2003, this his ninth album under the name. Slow start, recovers toward the end. B [sp]

Stuck: Freak Frequency (2023, Born Yesterday): Postpunk band from Chicago, second album, Greg Obis the lead singer. What marks it as "post" is that the instrumentals get more energetic. B+(**) [sp]

Superviolet: Infinite Spring (2023, Lame-O): Columbus, Ohio group, first album, principally Steve Ciolek (vocals, guitar, keyboards). B+(*) [sp]

Tinariwen: Amatssou (2023, Wedge): Tuareg (Saharan) group, originally from northern Mali with ties to Algeria and Libya, date back to 1979 but first album available elsewhere didn't appear until 2001. This is their ninth, and least exciting -- not sure if the weariness is theirs or ours. B+(*) [sp]

Don Toliver: Love Sick (2023, Cactus Jack/Atlantic): Second-generation rapper-singer from Houston, third album. Falls off when he sings. B [sp]

MF Tomlinson: We Are Still Wild Horses (2023, Prah): Initials for Michael Francis, singer-songwriter, second album, title track runs long (21:01, after a three-track, 19:47 first side). Vocals seem slight, but develops some muscle tone toward the end. B+(*) [sp]

Juanma Trujillo: Contour (2021 [2023], Clean Feed): Guitarist from Venezuela, based in New York, fourth album, has some juice, backed here by Kenneth Jimenez (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). B+(**) [bc]

Dara Starr Tucker: Dara Starr Tucker (2023, Green Hill Productions): Jazz singer-songwriter, originally from Tulsa, fifth album since 2009. Covers are most striking ("September Song," "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"). B+(**) [cd]

Tanya Tucker: Sweet Western Sound (2023, Fantasy): Country singer, seems like she's been around forever but she started very young, so she's barely 65. Western airs, ending with a song called "When the Rodeo Is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go?)" -- not one of the three she co-wrote. B+(**) [sp]

Yves Tumor: Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) (2023, Warp): Sean Lee Bowie, originally from Knoxville, moved to California at 20, fifth album (at least under this alias). I filed him under electronic, but that's not (or no longer) right. B+(**) [sp]

Uncle Waffles: Asylum (2023, Kreativekornerr): South African amapiano dj, born in Eswatini (Swaziland for you old-timers), second album, reportedly a viral breakout. Beats. Lots of beats. B+(**) [sp]

U.S. Girls: Bless This Mess (2023, 4AD): Toronto-based band led by American expat Meghan Remy, eighth album since 2008. B+(**) [sp]

Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott: East West Trumpet Summit: Coast to Coast (2021 [2023], Origin): Trumpet players, long on the label but from opposite coasts, backed by Orrin Evans on piano, plus bass and drums. Three Marriott originals, the rest jazz standards, including Mingus and Cherry, although my favorite is their "Girl Talk." B+(***) [cd]

Rufus Wainwright: Folkocracy (2023, BMG): Famous parents (Kate McGarrigle, Loudin Wainwright III), immortalized as a baby in one of the latter's more memorable songs, debut album 1998, ten albums later, a collection of covers (five traditional folk songs, one of his own, one by Schubert, others eclectic), most joined by guest singers, produced by Mitchell Froom. Has a few moments. B [sp]

Water From Your Eyes: Everyone's Crushed (2023, Matador): New York duo, Nate Amos and Rachel Brown, specify pronouns but not instruments, several albums since 2017, although this is the first one to get any real notice. Disjointed, which seems to be the sound of the year -- one that makes me despair of ever being hip again, but much here that I do appreciate. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Young Nudy: Gumbo (2023, RCA): Atlanta rapper Quantavious Tavario Thomas, fourth studio album after a mess of Slimeball mixtapes. B+(*) [sp]

Youth Lagoon: Heaven Is a Junkyard (2023, Fat Possum): Alias for Trevor Powers, three albums 2011-15, this is his fourth. [sp]

Zulu: A New Tomorrow (2023, Flatspot): Hardcore band from Los Angeles, first album after a couple EPs, fifteen short tracks (28:45). Soul samples and spoken word pounded rough and ragged. B+(*) [sp]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Roger Bekono: Roger Bekono (1989 [2023], Awesome Tapes From Africa): From Cameroon (1954-2016), played guitar and sang, Discogs only lists one more album beyond this minor four song, 30:15 gem. B+(**) [sp]

Walter Bishop Jr.: Bish at the Bank: Live in Baltimore (1966-67 [2023], Reel to Real): Pianist (1927-98), father was a drummer of some note (played with Jabbo Smith in the 1920s; wrote several songs of note, including "Swing, Brother, Swing" and "Jack You're Dead"), started with Art Blakey in 1948, recorded with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Hank Mobley, and Gene Ammons, leading his own groups from 1961. Quartet here with Harold Vick (tenor/soprano sax, flute), Lou McIntosh (bass), and Dick Berk (drums). Two sets, separated by six months. Vick is especially solid here, at least on tenor. B+(***) [sp]

Alan Braxe/Fred Falke: The Upper Cuts [2023 Edition] (2005 [2023], Smugglers Way): French house pioneers, the famed album originally credited to Alan Braxe & Friends, with Falke sharing most song credits. B+(***) [sp]

Ernesto Djédjé: Roi Du Ziglibithy (1978-82 [2022], Analog Africa): Singer from Côte D'Ivoire (1947-83), recorded from 1970 up to his "mysterious" death (Discogs lists six albums). Dates not given, but the four songs (25:52) can be tracked back to four albums. B+(**) [sp]

Dave Douglas and Elan Mehler: If There Are Mountains (2019 [2023], Greenleaf Music): Mehler's a pianist, based in New York, several albums back to 2007, split the compositions here with the trumpet player, many songs with lyrics sung by Dominique Eade. Group also includes John Gunther (sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), bass, and drums. Originally released on vinyl-only Newvelle in 2020. B+(*) [sp]

Johnny Hodges Septet: In Concert: Falkoner Central, Copenhagen, March 17, 1961 (1961 [2023], SteepleChase): The alto sax great, leading a septet of Ellington veterans -- Ray Nance, Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, Al Williams, Aaron Bell, Sam Woodyard -- through his usual songbook. One treat is Nance singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Just Squeeze Me," and playing violin on the closer. B+(***) [sp]

Clifford Jordan: Drink Plenty Water (1974 [2023], Harvest Song): "Long-lost vocal jazz session," originally recorded for Strata-East, with Donna Jordan Harris and David Smyrl vocalists (plus three backup singers) and a nine-piece band including Bill Hardman (trumpet), Dick Griffin (trombone), Charlie Rose (tenor sax), and Stanley Cowell (piano), plus cello, drums, and two basses (Bill Lee credited for arrangements). I'm not wild about the more vocalese stuff, but Smyrl's "Talking Blues" is worth a listen, and the instrumental version holds up, too. B+(***) [cd]

Sonny Rollins With Heikki Sarmanto Trio: Live at Finlandia Hall, Helsinki 1972 (1972 [2023], Svart): Live set with a pickup band, although the keyboardist (playing Fender Rhodes here) is a pretty big deal in Finland, with Pekka Sarmanto (bass) and Esko Rosnell (drums). After a spoken intro, they expand greatly on "Night and Day," "My One and Only Love," and "St. Thomas." It's impossible to hear the latter and not smile wide. A- [sp]

RP Boo: Legacy Volume 2 (2002-07 [2023], Planet Mu): Chicago-based footwork producer Kavain Space, follows up his 2013 Legacy (his first album) with a second collection of early rhythm tracks. B+(*) [sp]

Nkono Teles: Love Vibration (1982-84 [2023], Soundway): From Cameroon (d. 2011), based in Nigeria, "one of a small handful of pioneers of the Nigerian electronic music scene in the 1980s." Six tracks (33:02), three from 1982-84 albums, which seems to have been his peak period. Would slot nicely into one of those Nigerian disco compilations. B+(**) [sp]

Ali Farka Touré: Voyageur (1991-2004 [2023], World Circuit): Legendary guitarist-singer from Mali (1939-2006), unveils nine previously unreleased jam tracks, as charming as ever. B+(***) [sp]

Tyler, the Creator: Call Me if You Get Lost: The Estate Sale (2021 [2023], Columbia): Los Angeles rapper Tyler Okonma, debut mixtape 2009, his sixth album Call Me if You Get Lost (2021) a big critical as well as commercial hit. I was surprised to see this pop up on a mid-year list; alternatively, I was surprised I hadn't heard of a new album before. But it turns out this is just a reissue, padded out with eight extra tracks from the same sessions, pushing the length to 77:02. I've never been much of a fan, but gave the original album a B+(***). The extra tracks aren't bad, but the main thing they add is length, so: B+(**) [sp]

Muddy Waters Blues Band Featuring Otis Spann: Live Paris 1968 (1968 [2023], Lantower): Live set from La Salle Pleyel (39:38), originally released on France's Concert in 1988. Spann, of course, is the pianist. B+(**) [sp]

Neil Young and the Santa Monica Flyers: Somewhere Under the Rainbow: Nov. 5, 1973 (1973 [2023], Reprise, 2CD): First disc features Tonight's the Night, recorded earlier that year but unreleased until 1975. But note there's another -- if memory serves, better sounding -- live version, from Sept. 20-22 with the same band (Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina), released in 2018 as Roxy: Tonight's the Night Live. I've liked many of Young's live albums, but this one seems especially unnecessary. B [r]

Old Music

Big Joanie: Sistahs (2018, Daydream Library Series): Afro-British g-b-d trio, Stephanie Phillips the singer, first album (a second came out in 2022), advertised as postpunk but I don't really hear it -- did help get them opening slots for Sleater-Kinney and Parquet Courts and a label co-owned by Thurston Moore. B+(***) [sp]

Peter Brötzmann/Alexander von Schlippenbach/Sven-Ĺke Johansson: Up and Down the Lion-Revised (1979 [2010], Olof Bright): Avant-sax with piano and drums, Johansson also opening on accordion, five improv pieces (57:13). The pianist is a big help here, inspiring some of Brötzmann's most thoughtful playing. A- [bc]

Peter Brötzmann/Maleem Mahmoud Gania/Hamid Drake: The Wels Concert (1996 [1997], Okka Disk): Recorded in Austria. Gania is a Moroccan guembri master, also sings, and Drake plays drums, tablas, and frame drum, with the alto/tenor saxophonist also playing tarogato and e-flat clarinet. B+(***) [bc]

Peter Brötzmann: Sprawl (1996 [1997], Trost): Discogs has artist name as Sprawl, based on no other print on the cover, but it's a one-shot quintet, and the Bandcamp page credits the German saxophonist, over Alex Buess (reeds/electronics), Stephen Wittwer (guitar), William Parker (bass), and Michael Wertmüller (drums). Brötzmann just died at 82, leaving a huge body of work, and this one was singled out by fans. I've often had trouble when he simply blasted away, but this one conveys its power through subtler means. A- [bc]

Peter Brötzmann/Peeter Uuskyla/Peter Friis Nielsen: Noise of Wings (1999-2001 [2009], Jazzwerkstatt): Tenor sax, drums, bass, the leader also playing tarogato and clarinet, which softens his screech just enough. B+(***) [sp]

Peter Brötzmann/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Never Too Late but Always Too Early: Dedicated to Peter Kowald (2001 [2003], Eremite, 2CD): Dedicated to the late German bassist (1944-2002), but recorded a year earlier, so subtitle is most likely an afterthought (but Brötzmann had a long association with Kowald, and Parker seems to have also developed a close relationship). Two long multipart pieces, and two extras, total 114:48. Good example of what they do. B+(***) [sp]

Peter Brötzmann/Michiyo Yagi/Paal Nilssen-Love: Head On (2007 [2008], Idiolect): Yagi plays koto, a Japanese string instrument, which moderates the alto/tenor sax, albeit only a little, and rarely when he charges ahead. The drummer helps out. B+(**) [bc]

The Campbell Brothers: Can You Feel It? (2005, Ropeadope): Steel guitar-playing gospel group, early records titles on Arhoolie were often plays on Sacred Steel (1997-2001). Jazz-funk-fusion label Ropeadope picked them up for this one album, where they deliver not just what you'd hope for but a good deal more: instrumental covers of classics with a steel guitar twist, plus some raise-the-rafters vocals for timely breaks. A- [cdr]

The Campbell Brothers Featuring Katie Jackson: Pass Me Not [Sacred Steel Guitars - Vol. 2] (1997, Arhoolie): First album for brothers Charles (pedal steel guitar; also primary arranger, and for that matter pastor of Rochester's House of God, Keith Dominion), Darick (lap steel guitar), Phillip (electric guitar/bass), and Carlton (drums), with Jackson singing, perhaps a bit much. B+(**) [sp]

Cesaria Evora: Distino Di Belita (1990, Lusafrica): Cape Verde's most famous pop singer (1941-2011), nicknamed Barefoot Diva, also Cise and Queen of Morna. Early album, draws on fado and I'd add a light touch of Weill, with a more lilting rhythm. B+(**) [r]

Cesaria Evora: Miss Perfumado (1992, Lusafrica): One of the Cape Verdean star's more famous albums, strikes me as steady, which is not an improvement. B+(*) [r]

Fokn Bois: Coz Ov Moni (2010, Pidgen Music): Hip-hop duo from Ghana, names given as M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor -- ok, Bondzie Mensa Ansah and Emmanuel Owusu Bonsu. First album, soundtrack to "the first pidgen musical film in the world." B+(**)

Fokn Bois: Fokn Wit Ewe (2012, Pidgen Music): Second album, more accessible in English. They get on track with a chant thanking God they're not Nigerians, then admitting that Liberians are even worse. Later they beg Somalians to "Help America," and luxuriate in extraterrestial sex. I take these, and not just the skits, to be jokes, like the title. A- [sp]

Fokn Bois: Coz Ov Moni 2 (Fokn Revenge) (2014, Pidgen Music): Another soundtrack, presumably a sequel to the original "pidgen musical" film. More jokes, no doubt, as they even permeate the music. B+(**) [sp]

Fokn Bois: Fokn Ode to Ghana (2016, Hobo Truffels/Yoyo Tinz): Effectively a remix of a various artists instrumental album Ode to Ghana (2014, Hobo Truffels), with the raps added and the original artists billed as producers. A mixed bag. One sobering piece claims Obama for Kenya and goes: "Thank God we're not an African-American." B+(**) [sp]

Forever, for Always, for Luther: Volume II (2006, Rendezvous): Sequel to a 2004 subtitled A Tribute to Luther Vandross (GRP), leads off again with Kirk Whalum, followed by a comparable (but different) roster of smooth jazz luminaries (e.g., Norman Brown for Paul Jackson Jr., Najee for Mindi Abair), including vocals from Maysa, Patti Austin, and Will Downing. [Have promo cdr.] B [sp]

Rory Gallagher: Big Guns: The Very Best of Rory Gallagher (1970-90 [2005], Capo, 2CD): Irish rocker (1948-95), started in blues-rock power trio called Taste, went solo in 1971, recorded eleven studio albums, released three live albums during his life, many more since. I never paid him any heed, and sat on this set until I scratched my last old unrateds from the database, but decided to give it a spin when I found it shelved. Nice package, with an ample booklet, and more music than anyone needs. Not bad, but nothing I'd pull out ahead of Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Cream. B+(*) [cd]

Mother Earth: Living With the Animals (1968, Mercury): Blues-rock band from California, first album, group name from the Memphis Slim song, title song (and a couple more) by R. Powell St. John, Jr., who sings some but is upstaged by Tracy Nelson. B+(*) [sp]

Mother Earth: Make a Joyful Noise (1969, Mercury): Second album, prophetic title, divided into a "City Side" and a "Country Side," Tracy Nelson shares lead vocals with three guys, the backups divided between Earthmen and Earthettes, the band including pedal steel guitar and a horn section. In short, they want to have it every which way. But oddly enough, they all work, even if this seems a bit heavier and more dated than some of their contemporary roots-rockers. A- [sp]

Mother Earth: Satisfied (1970, Mercury): Third album, Tracy Nelson fully in charge of the vocals, which I count as a plus. B+(***) [sp]

Mother Earth: Bring Me Home (1971, Reprise): Fourth album, singer stronger than ever, songs not so much. B+(*) [yt]

The Swimmers: Fighting Trees (2007, Mad Dragon): Indie rock group from Philadelphia, first of two albums, leans toward jangle pop, has some appeal. B [sp]

Limited Sampling

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again. Also some old albums extracted from further listening:

Taj Mahal: Savoy (2023, Stony Plain): Eclectic roots bluesman Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, started in 1965 in a group with Ry Cooder called Rising Sons, reunited last year in a Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee tribute. Goes back even earlier here, reminiscing about Chick Webb in the Savoy Ballroom (some years before he was born in 1942). He sticks to top shelf songs here, risking comparison to Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, Jimmy Rushing -- even the sureshot Maria Muldaur duet, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Of course, he has his own take, but I wonder how useful this really is. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Unrated Closeout

Back when I bought lots of CDs, I added them to the database with grade 'U' -- unrated, waiting my attention. At one point the Unrated list topped 900 albums. I've gradually whittled it down over the years to less than 30, which roughly speaking divide into two categories: records I can't find, and records I can locate but don't feel like listening to (some of these are big box sets that would take up major time). For my own sanity, I've decided to clean out the category here. Some I found and reviewed above. Some I've gone ahead and assigned grades to (based on my memory, not especially trustworthy here, but sometimes supplemented by sampling). Some of these I may find later and review as makes sense. Unless noted otherwise, I just commented out my 'U' grade and added a note-to-myself. ("Dropped from database" means I decided I shouldn't even track it as an album.)

Absolut Null Punkt: Absolut Null Punkt (2003 [2004], Important): Japanese band (1984-87), reformed in 2003. Album (almost certainly a CDR) not listed in Discogs, could possibly be Live in Japan. Dropped from database.

Derek Bailey/Pat Metheny/Gregg Bendian/Paul Wertico: The Sign of 4 (1996 [1997], Knitting Factory, 3CD): Improv clash of two guitarists and two drummers. Had CD, and remember having trouble with it. Penguin Guide 4-star, but others hated it. Fair grade: B

Berkeley Guitar 2006 (2006, Tompkins Square): Effectively a sampler; found CDR but dropped from database.

Big Stick: Drag Racing Underground (1989, Albertine): As best I recall, a noise rock band with a drag racing fetish. Discogs doesn't list, but AMG has this as a 23-track CD. Later compilation Some of the Best of Big Stick has some overlap. I have it at B+(**), so this is probably some kind of: B+

Boston Horns: Shibuya Gumbo (2008, Boston Horns): Funk-jazz group, seven albums 2001-11. No recall.

Brazil Today! Volume 2 ([1984], Polygram): Classic selection (16 tracks) of MPB, dates not provided. Label should be Philips. Not sure whether this or another album (not in database) was my introduction to Brazilian music.

Césaria Evora: Nova Sintra (1990 [1998], West Wind Latina): Cape Verdean singer, have four other albums rated (two at A-). This appears to be a reissue of Distino Di Belita, reviewed above, making this redundant (but since I have a copy somewhere under the other title, I'll count it twice). Grade: B+(**)

Funkatronic: Live at Discover Festival Burlington, VT (2002, self-released, EP): Three-song promo (length 14:28), found CDR, not in Discogs, band doesn't appear to have released anything else, so no harm dropping from database.

Rory Gallagher: Big Guns: The Very Best of Rory Gallagher (1970-90 [2005], Capo, 2CD): Irish rocker (1948-95), probably deserves a best-of, but I've never played any of his 14 records.

Iscathamiya: Zulu Worker Choirs in South Africa (1986, Heritage): Compilation recommended by Christgau, related to the mbube made famous by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but tougher (or so I hear). Fairly safe guess: B+

Flaco Jimenez: El Sonido de San Antonio (1980, Arhoolie): Tex-Mex legend, tons of stuff in print but not this. Probably ex-LP: B+

JSL Records 20th Anniversary Sampler (1988-2006 [2008], JSL): Label sampler, found CDR but dropped from database.

Hazard/Fennesz/Biosphere: Light (2001 [2004], Touch, EP): Turns out I had this listed twice, once under various artists (each has his own section) and once as listed. The latter was graded: B

Mind Over Matter Music Over Mind: Matador (2004, Soundz Impossible): Not in Discogs, but aka MOM2, with Bobby Hill and Thomas Stanley. Probably got this because Stanley is a friend of a friend, and could kick myself for losing it. Bassist Luke Stewart played in a later iteration of group (Chris Downing was on this record). No idea.

Astor Piazzolla: Themes Originaux (1982, Jonathan): Probably ex-LP. Some early albums sound uncomfortably classical. I think this is one, but cannot be sure, and I'm reluctant to guess.

Astor Piazzolla: Tristezas de un Doble A (1987, Rounder): Could be LP or CD. Again, hard to guess. I have nine Piazzolla albums graded in database.

Leslie Pintchik: Live in Concert (2010, Pintch Hard, DVD+CD): Jazz pianist, probably got waylaid (and for that matter ignored) due to DVD packaging. Six other albums in database are various levels of B+, so most likely this is also some kind of: B+

Richard Pryor: . . . And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings (1968-92 [2000], Rhino, 9CD): Christgau graded this A+. I don't doubt that he was a genius, but I rarely listen to comedy albums, and don't feel like spending 9-10 hours -- even if I could bag extra credit by breaking out the original albums. But I do know where it is, and figure this is a lazy, minimal grade: B+

Elba Ramalho: Personalidade ([1987], Verve): Brazilian star, many records, this a sampler, only one in my database.

Hank Snow: The Singing Ranger, Vol. 4 (1969-84 [1994], Bear Family, 9CD): Country star from Canada. I was a big fan, and grabbed this big box when I could, but never got through it all. Maybe some day. The five Bear Family boxes (the first is called The Yodelling Ranger) total 39 CDs. This is the only one I have.

Spire: Live in Geneva Cathedral/Saint Pierre (2004 [2005], Touch, 2CD): Ambient/minimalist concert, pieces by seven artists, the most famous being Henryk Górecki and Fennesz, the first disc heavy on the organ.

Alan Stivell: Zoom 70/95 (1970-95, [1997], Dreyfus, 2CD): Legendary Celtic harpist from Breton in France. One other item in my database at B+. Almost certainly have CD somewhere. I don't have a lot of patience for this music, but minimal grade is: B

Mel Tormé: The Mel Torme Collection (1944-85 [1996], Rhino, 4CD): Career-spanning box set of one of the more important jazz singers of the 1950s. I feel negligent for not getting to this. Little chance that this is not some kind of: B+

Neil Young: Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972) (1963-72 [2009], Reprise, 10CD): Another big box I never made it through. (Bought it when Borders was going out of business, and not sure I even tried.) Safe guess: B+

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 40476 [40292] rated (+184), 9 [38] unrated (-29).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

June 5, 2023

Music: Current count 40338 [40292] rated (+46), 16 [38] unrated 16 (-22).

I published a Speaking of Which Sunday evening. I collected a few links early, but didn't touch it for most of Friday and Saturday -- cooked a little dinner -- so it came up short (45 links, 2846 words, the shortest since Dec. 27 last year). Rated count should be down too, but I cheated, massively. It's a one-shot deal, and I'm happy it's done.

Ever since I've been blogging reviews, I've started each post off with a slug line, noting how many records I've rated (week and total), plus how many I had sitting around unrated. In the early days, I bought a lot more than I could listen to quickly, and then I started getting promos, including some I had little interest in, so the number combined those. In March, 2003, I rated 13 albums, bringing me to a total of 8080, but also added 78 unrated albums, which put me at 899. The unrated count continued to grow over the next couple years, hitting an all-time high of 1157 in July, 2004, before I finally started whittling away at it. By the end of 2008 I got it down to 757, but it shot up as high as 886 in 2011 and 882 in 2012, before finally dropping below 600 (Dec. 2012), 500 (Dec. 2014), 400 (Mar. 2015), 300 (Aug. 2018), 200 (Oct. 2021), and 100 (June 2022).

I finally got it down to 27 a couple months ago, and it's been stuck at that level since then. Aside from a couple boxes that I never found time for, the remaining albums were proving very hard to locate. Last week I dug through a neglected shelf of loose, unpackaged promos, and found four of them. On closer inspection, only one of the four was even worth cataloguing (a Campbell Bros. advance that turned out to be pretty good). The other three (two label samplers and a 14-minute live single that was probably never released as a product) I just commented out of the database. After that, and looking in some more desperate places to no avail, I decided to wipe the slate. Henceforth, unrated albums will only be items in the current demo queue (or new purchases).

A few things from the list that I either found or could stream show up in Old Music below. Everything else is noted in the Unrated Closeout section below. In some cases I went ahead and ascribed grades (pretty conservatively, I think): some were based on memories, some from sampling similar material, and a couple were minimal estimates based on general familiarity. In other cases, I was too unsure to bother. If/when I do manage to find and play any of those items, I'll revisit the grades, or add them as ordinary old music discoveries.

Probably meaningless to anyone else, but feels like a weight lifted.

Been having trouble thinking of new things to play. The Music Tracking file has grown to 881 items, of which I've rated (or have unrated) 414. I'm pretty sure that's behind last year's pace -- if you figure four months (forget January, which is catchup for 2022), we're a third of the way through. I won't be surprised if I slack off as the year progresses. Depends on how the non-music writing comes along.

I did manage to wrap up the May, 2023 Streamnotes file. Quite a bit of good music in it.

June 12, 2023

Music: Current count 40392 [40338] rated (+54), 16 [16] unrated (-0).

Lots of good-but-not-great records below. Stereogram seems to have been first out of the gate with a "best of 2023 so far" list. At least, that's the first one I saw. By the time I counted, I had heard 33 (of 50) albums on the list (probably closer to 40 now, but I've lost track). Then I started looking for more, and found the following:

I did a partial tabulation (probably 10 of 13 lists, skipping the last three added -- if memory serves, Mixmag, Pitchfork, and Saving Country Music). This gives the following frequency of mentions (almost none of the lists were ranked, so no point trying to weight them). The following records appeared three or more times (numbered by count; my grades in brackets):

  1. Lana Del Rey: Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (Interscope/Polydor) [B+(**)]
  2. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Maps (Backwoodz Studioz) [A-]
  3. JPEGMafia & Danny Brown: Scaring the Hoes (AWAL) [B+(*)]
    Kelela: Raven (Warp) [B+(**)]
    Caroline Polachek: Desire, I Want to Turn Into You (Perpetual Novice) [B+(*)]
    Jessie Ware: That! Feels Good! (PMR/EMI) [A-]
    Wednesday: Rat Saw God (Dead Oceans) [B+(*)]
  4. Boygenius: The Record (Interscope) [B]
    Paramore: This Is Why (Atlantic) [B+(*)]
    Yves Tumor: Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) (Warp) [B+(**)]
    Yo La Tengo: This Stupid World (Matador) [A-]
  5. Yaeji: With a Hammer (XL) [B+(*)
  6. Lil Yachty: Let's Start Here (Quality Control Music/UMG) [B+(*)]
    Kali Uchis: Red Moon in Venus (Interscope) [B+(**)]
  7. Black Country, New Road: Live at Bush Hall (Ninja Tune) [B+(*)]
    El Michels Affair & Black Thought: Glorious Game (Big Crown) [A-]
    Feist: Multitudes (Polydor) [B+(*)]
    Fever Ray: Radical Romantics (Rabid/Mute) [B+(**)]
    Debby Friday: Good Luck (Sub Pop) [A-]
    Boldy James/Rich Gains: Indiana Jones (self-released) [B+(**)]
    Kaytraminé [Amine/Kaytranada]: Kaytraminé (Venice Music) [B+(***)]
    Metallica: 72 Seasons (Blackened) []
    Model/Actriz: Dogsbody (True Panther Sounds) []
    Arlo Parks: My Soft Machine (Transgressive) [A-]
    Water From Your Eyes: Everyone's Crushed (Matador) [B+(**)]

I have six A- records there. Christgau has just two so far, and his (JPEGMafia and Boygenius, both full A) aren't in my six. Two I haven't heard yet. I'll probably fix that, but given that the only Metallica album I've heard so far landed at C-, it's hard to see much point.

This probably skews a bit more toward hip-hop than my recent EOY aggregates, but I count that as a plus. On the other hand, virtually no country (even "Americana") or jazz made the lists. I don't know of anyone who's done a "best jazz so far" list, but I can copy one out from my always-changing scratch list:

  1. Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Sixth Decade From Paris to Paris: Live at Sons D'Hiver (RogueArt, 2CD)
  2. George Coleman: Live at Smalls Jazz Club (Cellar)
  3. Mark Feldman/Dave Rempis/Tim Daisy: Sirocco (Aerophonic)
  4. Lakecia Benjamin: Phoenix (Whirlwind)
  5. Ivo Perelman/Ray Anderson/Joe Morris/Reggie Nicholson: Molten Gold (Fundacja Sluchaj) **
  6. Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Life & Umbrella (Desafio Candente)
  7. Jason Moran: From the Dancehall to the Battlefield (Yes) **
  8. Floy Krouchi/James Brandon Lewis/Benjamin Sanz: Cliffs (Off '22)
  9. Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris: Elliptic Time (Mahakala Music '22) **
  10. Wadada Leo Smith and Orange Wave Electric: Fire Illuminations (Kabell) **
  11. Peter Brötzmann/Majid Bekkas/Hamid Drake: Catching Ghosts (ACT) **
  12. Jim Black & the Schrimps: Ain't No Saint (Intakt) **
  13. Ivo Perelman/Dave Burrell/Bobby Kapp: Trichotomy (Mahakala Music) **
  14. Christian McBride's New Jawn: Prime (Mack Avenue) **
  15. Natural Information Society: Since Time Is Gravity (Aguirre/Eremite) **
  16. Das Kondensat: Andere Planeten (WhyPlayJazz)
  17. Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra: In the Dark (ESP-Disk, 3CD)
  18. Dave Rempis/Elisabeth Harnik/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Tim Daisy: Earscratcher (Aerophonic) **
  19. Margherita Fava: Tatatu (self-released)
  20. Ivo Perelman/Elliott Sharp: Artificial Intelligence (Mahakala Music) **
  21. The Mark Lomax Trio: Tapestry (CFG Multimedia) **
  22. Anthony Branker & Imagine: What Place Can Be for Us? A Suite in Ten Movements (Origin)
  23. Henry Threadgill Ensemble: The Other One (Pi)
  24. Kaze & Ikue Mori: Crustal Movement (Libra)
  25. Daniel Bingert: Ariba (Moserobie)
  26. James Brandon Lewis Trio: Eye of I (Anti-) **
  27. Allen Lowe and the Constant Sorrow Orchestra: America: The Rough Cut (ESP-Disk)
  28. Jo Lawry: Acrobats (Whirlwind)

Don't put much stock in the order: this has been haphazardly assembled since January and I haven't done any editing, let alone rechecking. Not that it makes much difference these days, but ** indicates streamed or downloaded, with the rest on CD (pretty sure there's no vinyl here. Of this list, the only albums I'm more than 50:50 confident will end up in the top ten in year-end critics polls are McBride, Threadgill, and Lewis (on Anti-), although AEC, Benjamin, Moran, Smith, and/or Lowe could surprise; NIS is a real left field prospect. In most of these cases, the artists are sufficiently well-known, but the labels have little if any track record at getting the music out to critics.

PS: Three more links: The Week; Subjective Sounds; i-D.

June 19, 2023

Music: Current count 40436 [40392] rated (+44), 12 [16] unrated (-4).

I noticed a few more mid-year album lists:

A few more, like Boston Globe and Times of London, were paywalled, and others no doubt missed Google's net. I doubt if they change the listings I presented last week very much. They drove much of my listening this week, as did Robert Christgau's June Consumer Guide -- although in the latter case it mostly got me to relisten to albums that I possibly had shortchanged previously. Two of them I bumped up a couple notches, although even now I'm wondering if one might have been more correct. The rest I left as is, with Wednesday's Rat Saw God headed for a lower grade before the last couple cuts showed some promise. It's one of the five or so best-regarded albums of the year, which leaves me feeling wildly out of synch with current music trends.

Pretty out of synch with his Consumer Guide, too, although I will note that the África Negra compilation got an A- from me back in May 2022.

I updated the Consumer Guide database at Robert Christgau's website. It had gotten considerably in arrears, although the practice of withholding reviews nine months to give his Substack subscribers some exclusivity makes it seem more like a bookkeeping exercise. Still, something I should be doing more regularly, if only to keep from having to rediscover how to do it.

I've been playing the original Hairspray soundtrack a lot. While the dance songs are as great as I remembered, the real earworm is the slow dance number, Gene Pitney's Town Without Pity. The lyrics still resonate: "How can we keep love alive/ how can anything survive/ when these little minds tear you in two." Indeed, the "little minds" the film sends up in the early 1960s have returned to hector us, even more stunted and deformed than before.

June 26, 2023

Music: Current count 40476 [40436] rated (+40), 9 [12] unrated (-3).

I've been pretty bummed about lack of progress, even on previously simple home projects. But while writing on book projects has been hard to get into, cranking out the weekly Speaking of Which still comes easy, and almost seems therapeutic. Same could be said for Music Week, but I'm more anxious to get it out of the way, thinking that will open up a new week of opportunity.

Those frustrations, along with trouble finding things to listen to, led me to start off the last couple days with something old from the cases (leading to a couple tweets). That threatened to suppress the ratings count, but turns out not by much. Peter Brötzmann died last week, at 82, ending a 56-year career that literally spans the entire German (and for that matter, European) avant-garde. I've often had trouble with his exuberant cacophony -- his Penguin Guide crown album, 1968's Machine Gun, is a mere B+(**) in my list -- but I've occasionally found items to A-list, including this year's set with Majid Bekkas and Hamid Drake, Catching Ghosts, and, to pick an example where the noise is transcendent, 2009's Hairy Bones. Chris Monsen got me going when he linked to Sprawl.

Among new releases, I've never cared much for Jason Isbell, and had the new one wrapped up at B+(***), until I gave it a couple more plays. Also benefiting from extra attention was Mother Earth, a side trip after checking out the latest Tracy Nelson album. I remembered having at least one of their albums, but hadn't filed a grade.

Jeffrey Callahan posted a request for mid-year lists on Expert Witness. Few returns as yet, but Clifford Ocheltree identified "only three items strike me as durable":

  • Black Gospel Ladies: I Walked Out Jesus Name (Narro-Way)
  • The War & Treaty: Lover's Game (Mercury Nashville)
  • Hermanos Gutierrez: El Bueno Y El Malo ('22)

I suppose you can derive my list from here, but I wouldn't put much stock in the order, which reflects initial slotting but little sorting.

Last Monday in the month, so I've opened a new monthly Streamnotes archive for July. But indexing for June will have to wait -- no need holding this post up for a bunch of busy work. I'll also do a post of notes on television shows, probably tomorrow. Diminishing returns have me given up on mid-year music lists, but similar lists exist for television (and probably movies, which I've lost all interest in). Not on any list so far is Deadloch, a mystery series set in Tasmania that still has a couple episodes to come. Body count is too high to really call it a comedy, but it often is very funny.


Sources noted as follows:

  • [bc] available at
  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [os] some other stream source
  • [r] available at (formerly Rhapsody)
  • [sp] available at
  • [yt] available at
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo