Streamnotes: August 28, 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 July 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (22284 records).

Recent Releases

Rauw Alejandro: Playa Saturno (2023, Duars Entertainment/Sony Music Latin): Puerto Rican reggaeton star, fourth album, following 2022's Saturno. B+(**) [sp]

Aline's Etoile Magique: Eclipse (2023, Elastic): Violinist Aline Homzy, from Montreal, based in New York. Quintet with vibes, guitar, bass, and percussion, plus some guest spots. B+(**) [cd]

Anitta: Funk Generation: A Favela Love Story (2023, Republic, EP): Brazilian singer-songwriter, Larissa de Macedo Machado, has several albums since 2013, this turns out to be a very short one (billed as a single, but 3 songs, 7:33), dance rhythms clicking. B+(**) [sp]

Anohni and the Johnsons: My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross (2023, Secretly Canadian): English singer-songwriter, originally Antony Hegarty, debut 2000 as Antony and the Johnsons, trans from an early age but didn't change name to Anohni until a 2016 solo album. A very emotional singer, this waxes and wanes, impressively at times. B+(**) [sp]

Bambii: Infinity Club (2023, Innovative Leisure, EP): Toronto-based DJ, Kirsten Azan, first EP, eight tracks (counting a short intro), 19:08, beats and vocals, some rapped. B+(***) [sp]

The Baseball Project: Grand Salami Time (2023, Omnivore): Alt-rock side project formed in 2008 with two guys who had fronted minor bands (Scott McCaughey and Steve Wynn), another who could have but was in a major band instead (Peter Buck), Wynn's wife Linda Pitmon (drums), and more recently Mike Mills (bass). Fourth album, nine years after 3rd, seems less focused on trivia and, with Mitch Easter producing, more on song flow, but I'm not sure that's a plus. B+(**) [sp]

Bdrmm: I Don't Know (2023, Rock Action): British shoegaze band, Ryan Smith the vocalist, second album. Influences "drawn from a wider range of sounds," blended together nice but indecisively. B+(*) [sp]

Gordon Beeferman/Michael Evans/Michael Foster/Shelley Hirsch: Glow (2021 [2023], Tripticks Tapes): Keyboard player, half-dozen albums back to 2001, with drums and tenor/soprano sax, with Hirsch's improvised vocals. B+(*) [bc]

Will Bernard & Beth Custer: Sky (2023, Dreck to Disk): Guitar and clarinet duo, with Custer singing a couple (like "John Brown's Body"). Low key and down home. B+(*) [cd] [09-05]

Blue Lake: Sun Arcs (2023, Tonal Union): Texas-born, Denmark-based Jason Dungan, plays "self-built zithers, drones, clarinets, slide guitars and drum machines." Third album, all instrumental, not billed as jazz, not electronic, may draw on folk but not obvious from where, so I wound up filing it in my little-used new age file, where it settled in nicely. B+(**) [sp]

Itamar Borochov: Arba (2022 [2023], Greenleaf Music): Trumpet player, born in Israel, based in Brooklyn, fourth album since 2011 (Arba is Hebrew for four). Really nice trumpet, backed by piano (Rob Clearfield), bass (Rick Rosato), and drums (Jay Sawyer), with a bit of oud and some vocal effects. B+(***) [cd] [09-09]

Geof Bradfield Quintet: Quaver (2021 [2023], Calligram): Tenor saxophonist, born in Houston, based in Chicago, albums since 2008 plus a fair number of side credits. Quintet with Russ Johnson (trumpet), Scott Hesse (guitar), Clark Sommers (bass), and Dana Hall (drums). B+(***) [cd]

Grian Chatten: Chaos for the Fly (2023, Partisan): Frontman for Irish post-punk rockers Fontaines D.C. tries a solo album, very different in style and pace. B+(**) [sp]

The Clientele: I Am Not There Anymore (2023, Merge): British indie rock band, founded 1991 but first album not until 2000, this only their second since 2010. B+(*) [sp]

Bethany Cosentino: Natural Disaster (2023, Concord): Singer for Best Coast, four albums 2010-20, first solo album, amps up the pop riffs, finding excitement in topical events that would bum most people out. B+(***) [sp]

Claire Daly With George Garzone: VuVu for Frances (2021 [2023], Daly Bread): Baritone saxophonist, side credits back to 1990, only a handful of albums as leader. Garzone lends his tenor sax to broaden out the leads, a nice set of standards which rarely gets rowdy, backed by piano (Jon Davis), bass (Dave Hofstra), and drums (David F. Gibson). B+(**) [sp]

Dazegxd & Quinn: DSX.FM (2023, DeadAir, EP): Young beat producer, with young rapper Quinn Dupree. Scattered at first, but finds a crude groove. Seven tracks, 13:43. B+(*) [sp]

Christian Dillingham: Cascades (2021 [2023], Greenleaf Music): Bassist, first album, but has a Grammy (played on a Kirk Franklin gospel album), wrote ten original pieces here, with Lenard Simpson (alto/soprano sax), Dave Miller (guitar), and Greg Artry (drums). B+(***) [cd] [09-01]

Dream Wife: Social Lubrication (2023, Lucky Number): London-based pop/punk band, Rakel Mjöll the singer (from Iceland via California), third album. B+(***) [sp]

Ember: August in March (2023, Imani): Brooklyn trio, fronted by Caleb Wheeler Curtis (strich, trumpet, reed trumpet -- never heard of the latter, but his native instrument is alto sax), with bass (Noah Garabedian) and drums (Vincent Sperrazza), group has a 2021 album with Orrin Evans. One of many terrific free sax trios this year, with a neat twist. A- [cd]

Kent Engelhardt & Stephen Enos: Madd for Tadd: "Central Avenue Swing" & "Our Delight" (2020 [2023], Tighten Up, 2CD): Alto sax and trumpet, the former a mainstay of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, running a full blown big band playing Tadd Dameron songs and a few originals, situating them in the transition from swing to bop. Several vocals by Erin Keckan are treats. B+(***) [cd]

Tianna Esperanza: Terror (2023, BMG): First album, 22, hard to piece together a coherent biography: British grandmother Paloma McLardy was in the Slits and the Raincoats, but she's mixed race, grew up on Cape Cod, through a litany of terrors she recounts in the presumably autobiographical title song (or if not, she has a pretty grim imagination). Comparisons to Nina Simone are apt, starting with the voice, but she's picked up more history than her publicity lets on. Could be an album that sticks with you, or misses. B+(***) [sp]

Jad Fair and Samuel Lock Ward: Happy Hearts (2023, Kill Rock Stars): Half of Half Japanese plus a singer-songwriter I never heard of, but Ward has several dozen DIY albums, including at least nine volumes of The Lame Years, as well as close to a dozen group efforts like the Eggnogs, Kickass Tarantulas, and Admiral Cadaver & the New Pricks. This is as offhanded and minor as ever, needing more concentration that I care to muster, but I hear it's worth the trouble. B+(**) [sp]

Miya Folick: Roach (2023, Nettwerk): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, studied acting at NYU before returning to USC. Second album. One review describes this as her "quarter life crisis." Most impressive when her anger rises, as in "Get Out of My House." B+(**) [sp]

Foo Fighters: But Here We Are (2023, Roswell/RCA): Grunge band from Seattle, formed 1994 by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, who switched over to guitar and vocals. Eleventh studio album, fifth I've heard, having skipped the last three. No rush on this one either, but it showed up on three mid-year lists, and is probably the highest-rated non-metal album that I hadn't bothered with (86/31 at AOTY). Starts off tolerable enough, but the anguish is communicable. B- [sp]

Michael Foster: The Industrious Tongue of Michael Foster (2022, Relative Pitch): Saxophonist (tenor/soprano), produces his inevitable solo album, aided by sampler and oscillators, featuring more tongue effects than outright blowing. B+(*) [sp]

Frog Squad: Special Noise (2023, Mahakala Music): Jazz group from Memphis, principally David Collins (guitar, vibes, keys, percussion) and Khari Wynn (bass), with a couple label ringers like Chad Fowler and Aaron Phillips joining in. Group has at least two previous albums, including Frog Squad Plays Satie. They lay it on pretty thick here. B+(*) [sp]

Leo Genovese/Demian Cabaud/Marcos Cavaleiro: Estrellero (2023, Sunnyside): Piano-bass-drums trio, the first two Argentines who studied at Berklee, with Cabaud moving on to Portugal, where he met the drummer. B+(**) [sp]

Georgia: Euphoric (2023, Domino): British pop singer Georgia Barnes, third album. B+(***) [sp]

The Ghost: Vanished Pleasures (2023, Relative Pitch): Tenor/soprano saxophonist Michael Foster, leading a free jazz trio with bass (Jared Radichel) and drums (Joey Sullivan). Quite a few albums since 2013, a couple under this name (but with different players). B+(***) [sp]

Rhiannon Giddens: You're the One (2023, Nonesuch): Folkie singer-songwriter from North Carolina, plays violin and banjo, started in Carolina Chocolate Drops, had a role in the TV series Nashville, fifth solo album since 2015. Includes a duet with Jason Isbell, and a choice cut in "You Put the Sugar in My Bowl." B+(**) [sp]

Girl Ray: Prestige (2023, Moshi Moshi): British indie rock trio, third album, fond of disco riffs. B [sp]

Margaret Glaspy: Echo the Diamond (2023, ATO): Singer-songwriter, from California, based in New York, third album since her 2016 debut (Emotions and Math, a Christgau A-). She is at her best defending her "Female Brain," not least because her estimable guitar conjures up something a bit funkier than usual. Then comes the critique, from "people who talk don't say a thing" to "when you're only thinking of yourself you're missing out on everybody else." A- [sp]

Gloss Up: Shades of Gloss (2023, Quality Control): Memphis rapper Jerrica Russel, second album this year. B+(**) [sp]

Cory Hanson: Western Cum (2023, Drag City): Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, third album, previous titles The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo and Pale Horse Rider. Leads with guitar, which remains dominant even when buried in the band sound. B+(*) [sp]

Home Is Where: The Whaler (2023, Wax Bodega): Emo band from Palm Coast, Florida; second album, each preceded by an EP. Reminds Pitchfork of Modest Mouse, which is close but rougher and more volatile here. B+(**) [sp]

J Hus: Beautiful and Brutal Yard (2023, Black Butter): British rapper Momodou Jallow, parents Gambian, third album. B+(**) [sp]

Mike Jones Trio: Are You Sure You Three Guys Know What You're Doing? (2022 [2023], Capri): Pianist, goes back to the 1990s, with Penn Jillette (bass) and Jeff Hamilton (drums). Standards, everything from "Perdido" to Jobim, closing with an original. B+(**) [cd]

Barb Jungr and Her Trio: My Marquee (2023, Marquee): British singer, writes some songs but mostly interprets other singer-songwriters, especially Bob Dylan. Twenty-seven albums since 1985. Backed by piano-bass-drums trio, she does six songs plus two medleys, taking vintage rock pieces and treating them as proto-standards. Most successful is a medley interleaving three Yardbirds hits ("Heart Full of Soul/Shapes of Things/For Your Love"). B+(**) [sp]

K-Lone: Swells (2023, Wisdom Teeth): British electronica producer Josiah Gladwell, second album. B+(*) [sp]

Kimbra: A Reckoning (2023, self-released): Pop singer-songwriter from New Zealand, full name Kimbra Lee Johnson, fourth album. B+(**) [sp]

John La Barbera Big Band: Grooveyard (2023, Origin): Conductor and arranger, b. 1945, originally played trumpet, worked with Buddy Rich and others, brother of Pat (tenor/soprano sax) and Joe (drums), both present here. Conventional big band with a few extras. B+(*) [cd]

Låpsley: Cautionary Tales of Youth (2023, Believe): English pop singer-songwriter Holly Lapsley Fletcher, dressed up her middle name to look Scandinavian, third album. This slips up on you. B+(**) [sp]

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: For Mahalia, With Love [Expanded Edition] (2023, Tao Forms, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, formed this group for his poll-winning 2021 album Jesup Wagon, reconvenes with Kirk Knuffke (trumpet), Chris Hoffman (cello), William Parker (bass), and Chad Taylor (drums), to play his arrangements of a set of trad. gospel pieces tied to Mahalia Jackson, but with no vocals, as nothing else can be as sanctified as his instrument. The digital album ends there (9 tracks, 71:32), and as long as it stays on track, it's as inspired as any gospel program since David Murray's Spirituals. The 2-CD package adds a second album, These Are Soulful Days, a suite (8 tracks, 47:24) that starts out as an interesting strings piece, played by Lutoslawski Quartet, with Lewis joining in and eventually dominating -- about as good as sax-with-strings gets. [There's also a 2-LP package of the album proper, with a download code for the bonus.] A- [cd] [09-08]

Lil Tjay: 222 (2023, Columbia): New York rapper Tione Jayden Merritt, third album, first two peaked at 5. B+(**) [sp]

Lindstrøm: Everyone Else Is a Stranger (2023, Smalltown Supersound): Norwegian electronica producer, first name Hans-Peter, first couple albums were duos with Prins Thomas (2007-09). Four tracks (36:59). B+(**) [sp]

Damon Locks/Rob Mazurek: New Future City Radio (2023, International Anthem): From Chicago, Locks is a visual and sound artist with a couple Black Monument Ensemble albums, offering a verbal pastiche here that Mazurek fleshes out with trumpet and electronics. B+(*) [sp]

Andy Fairweather Low: Flang Dang (2023, Last Music): Welsh singer-songwriter, recorded three low-key but remarkably catchy albums 1974-76, but virtually nothing after 1980 up to 2006 (exception is the 1983 Moments of Madness, credited to Local Boys). Since then he's turned out several live albums, coasting on his reputation, such as it is. But it appears the lockdown got him to concentrate, to write some new songs and play everything but the drums. The label calls this "a remarkable return to form," but it's also a disarmingly engaging return to basics. A- [sp]

Lowcountry: Lowcountry (2023, Ropeadope): A group of Gullah singers and storytellers from South Carolina, led by trumpeter/composer Matt White and percussionist Quentin E. Baxter, talk and sing some, rooted in one of the few American communities that retains much of its African past, framed by a a string quartet and a jazz combo, including ringer Chris Potter on tenor sax. B+(***) [cd]

Pete McCann: Without Question (2022 [2023], McCannic Music): Guitarist, debut 1998, nice mainstream sound but I note that he also played in the Mahavishnu Project. Varied quintet, with Steve Wilson especially strong (alto/soprano sax), a standout solo by pianist Henry Hey, plus Matt Pavolka (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums). B+(***) [cd]

Chad McCullough: The Charm of Impossibilities (2022 [2023], Calligram): Seattle-based trumpet player, albums since 2009 including several groups. Cut this one in Chicago, with Jon Irabagon (tenor/soprano sax), Larry Kohut (bass), and Jon Deitemyer (drums), with Tim Hagans co-producing. Credits Olivier Messiaen's "Techniques of My Musical Language," while finding his own. A- [cd]

Pat Metheny: Dream Box (2021-22 [2023], Modern): Guitarist, active since 1976, mostly in fusion bands I don't much care for, although he has other interests that sometimes bear fruit. This one is solo, quietly elegant. B+(*) [sp]

Haviah Mighty: Crying Crystals (2023, Mighty Gang): Canadian rapper, debut mixtape 2010 (at 18), second studio album. B+(**) [sp]

Blake Mills: Jelly Road (2023, New Deal/Verve Forecast): Singer-songwriter based in California, plays guitar, has a long list of side and production credits. B [sp]

Nakhane: Bastard Jargon (2023, Star Red/BMG): South African singer-songwriter, has had several last names (born Mavuso, took Touré as a stage name, Mahlakahlaka seems to be the most proper). Third album, influenced by American soul music, recruited Nile Rodgers for this project, also Perfume Genius for a feature. B+(**) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Sound of Serendipity Tentet: Play! (2023, Intakt): Swiss drummer, couple dozen albums since 1993, surprised there is no Wikipedia page for him, as his albums with Ali Keïta and Jan Galega Brönnimann are personal favorites. Large group here, but not many horns (tenor sax, tuba, flute), with organ, accordion, violin, celesta, melodica, bass, double drums, and voice/electronics (Joana Maria Aderl). B+(**) [r]

Noname: Sundial (2023, self-released): Rapper Fatima Warner, second album after a breakout mixtape, subtle beats under a torrent of words, some from guests who threaten politics. Before I got to this I heard cries of "antisemitism" just because Jay Electronica dropped a verse that namechecked Farrakhan -- far from the only preacher who wishes God's wrath on others, but the one whose name automatically elicits instant opprobrium -- and delved into the murky prophecies of Armageddon. (Perhaps even more politically incorrect these days, he says "a joke like Zelenskyy.") More explicitly political is the later verse by Billy Woods, recalling his childhood with revolution in Africa, or for that matter the closer with the more liberal Common. All reflect back on racism, which I figure is fair game, especially done this seductively, in a brief 31:54. A- [sp]

Jesper Nordberg: Trio (2023, Gotta Let It Out): Danish bassist, first album, trio with violin (Stefan Pōntinen) and Ruhi Erdogan (trumpet). Good use of these pairings. B+(***) [bc]

Arturo O'Farrill: Legacies (2023, Blue Note): Pianist, son of Cuban bandleader Chico O'Farrill, based in New York, typically records with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, but drops down to a trio here, with Liany Mateo (bass) and Zack O'Farrill (drums). One original, one track by his father, the rest jazz standards, including Monk and Powell, Rollins and Hancock. B+(*) [sp]

Okonski: Magnolia (2020-21 [2023], Colemine): Trio, with Steve Okonski (piano), Michael Isvara "Ish" Montgomery (bass), and Aaron Frazer (drums). First album, all pieces jointly credited. B+(*) [sp]

Kresten Osgood/Bob Moses/Tisziji Muñoz: Spiritual Drum Kingship (2022 [2023], Gotta Let It Out): Two drummers plus electric guitar. The latter is an American, born in Brooklyn, released an album on India Navigation in 1978, but didn't really produce much until the late 1990s, when he recorded albums with Moses, Pharoah Sanders, Dave Liebman, Marilyn Crispellm, and Rashied Ali. Moses is of similar age, not just a drummer but a student of percussion everywhere. Osgood is younger, from Denmark, started around 2002, starting with Sam Rivers, Oliver Lake, and other notables. Such a tour de force by the guitarist that it takes two very fast drummers to keep up, and these two make the album. A- [bc]

Matt Otto: Umbra (2022-23 [2023], Origin): Tenor saxophonist, has a couple albums, one as far back as 1998. Nice, steady mainstream tone, default trio, adds guitar and Rhodes on five (of nine) tracks, plus trumpet (Hermon Mehari) on three of those. B+(**) [cd]

Chuck Owen and the WDR Big Band: Renderings (2019-21 [2023], MAMA): Arranger/conductor, composer of three (of eight) tracks here, teaches at University of South Florida, has seven previous albums since 1995 with his group, the Jazz Surge. German big band here, with a featured spot for Sara Caswell (violin). B+(***) [cd]

Genesis Owusu: Struggler (2023, Ourness/AWAL): Rapper/singer, born in Ghana, grew up in Australia, second album. B+(**) [sp]

Evan Parker/Matthew Wright Trance Map+ Peter Evans/Mark Nauseef: Etching the Ether (2022 [2023], Intakt): Soprano sax and electronics duo, their names above the group name, as with their previous Crepuscle in Nickelsdorff, with extra guests below the group name (new ones this time: trumpet and percussion. (There's also a duo album on FRM, but I haven't heard it.) B+(**) [sp]

Ivo Perelman/Aruan Ortiz/Lester St. Louis: Prophecy (2023, Mahakala Music): Tenor sax, piano, and cello, two long improv pieces (55:10) recorded in Brooklyn. Their Brazilian and Cuban sources, with their African and Iberian roots, may enter a bit more than usual, as they feel each other out. B+(***) [bc]

Ivo Perelman/James Emery: The Whisperers (2023, Mahakala Music): Duo, tenor sax and guitar, thirteen improv pieces recorded in Brooklyn. Emery goes back to the 1980s, played in String Trio of New York, a duo with Leroy Jenkins, and various others. B+(***) [bc]

Ted Piltzecker: Vibes on a Breath (2022 [2023], OA2): Vibraphonist, from Denver, fifth album since 1985, leads a septet with two brass and two saxes, so his own instrument tends to get buried. B+(*) [cd]

Yunè Pinku: Babylon IX (2023, Platoon, EP): Electropop singer-songwriter, Malaysian-Irish, based in London, second EP (six songs, 23:25). B+(**) [sp]

Rachael & Vilray: I Love a Love Song (2022 [2023], Nonesuch): Vocal duo, Rachael Price and Vilray Bolles, who also plays guitar and claims most of the writing credits, but doesn't publicize his surname. Front cover lists much of the band. B+(*) [sp]

Sebastian Rochford/Kit Downes: A Short Diary (2022 [2023], ECM): Drums and piano duo, the former -- drummer in Sons of Kemet and various other groups -- also the composer. Very quiet, the drummer almost inaudible. B [sp]

Bobby Rozario: Spellbound (2019-21 [2023], Origin): Guitarist, mother a semi-classican Indian vocalist, father a Brazilian drummer, grandfather a band master in the Brazilian Army, bio jumps around a lot without explaining where he landed. Strong Latin beat in much of this, several vocals, but something more. John McLauglin is almost certainly an influence, but that's just a starting point. B+(***) [cd]

Knoel Scott/Marshall Allen: Celestial (2022 [2023], Night Dreamer): Two alto saxophonists, the former also sings and plays flute, joined Sun Ra in 1979, only has a couple albums on his own. Allen boarded the Arkestra 25 years earlier, and at 98 is still at the helm of the ghost band. The pair are backed by piano (Charlie Stacey), bass (Mikele Montolli), and drums (Chris Henderson), on five cosmic tracks (36:59). B+(***) [sp]

Travis Scott: Utopia (2023, Cactus Jack/Epic): Houston rapper Jacques Webster II, fourth album, all bestsellers. Impeccable flow, rarely rising to the level where it demands my attention. No idea whether it would rise or sink if I did manage to focus on it. B+(**) [sp]

Todd Sickafoose: Bear Proof (2023, Secret Hatch): Bassist, looks like only his third album (since 2000) solely under his own name -- Discogs mostly lists live Ani DiFranco albums from 2004-09, when she was jazzing up her sound (Mike Dillon and, later, Allison Miller were also credited). Eight musicians, including Jenny Scheinman (violin), Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), and Miller (drums). B+(**) [cd] [09-29]

Snooper: Super Snõõper (2023, Third Man): Punk trio from Nashville, three previous EPs, started as a duo of guitarist Connor Cummins and visual artist/singer Blair Tramel, beefed up for this first album. B+(***) [sp]

Kate Soper Feat. Sam Pluta: The Understanding of All Things (2022, New Focus): Composer, mostly filed under classical, plays piano, singer for Wet Ink Ensemble, was a Pulitzer finalist for her chamber opera Ipsa Dixit. Pluta works in electronics, which Soper speaks and sings over, sometimes alarmingly. B- [sp]

Tamara Stewart: Woman (2023, self-released): Country singer, born in Australia, based in Nashville, Discogs lists two 2001-05 albums, website offers three more recent efforts (2012, 2018, 2023), a lyric places her at 44. B+(**) [sp]

Susanne Sundfør: Blómi (2023, Bella Union): Norwegian singer-songwriter, sixth studio album since 2007. Dedicated to her theologian grandfather and to her daughter, title from Old Norse (to bloom), only partly in English. B+(*) [sp]

Tainy: Data (2023, Neon16): Puerto Rican reggaeton producer Marcos Efrain Masis Fernández, first album (other than a co-credit from 2006), nineteen tracks have co-credits including some fairly major ones (Bad Bunny, Julieta Venegas, Myke Towers, Skrillex). B+(*) [sp]

Aki Takase: Carmen Rhapsody (2023, BMC): Bizet opera done up by jazz trio with piano (Takase), cello (Vincent Courtois), and sax (Daniel Erdmann), with mezzo soprano Mayumi Nakamura popping in and out. Needless to say, I could do without the latter, but after the initial bad taste, I found it fitting in with the flow. B+(**) [sp]

Aki Takase/Alexander von Schlippenbach: Four Hands Piano Pieces (2021 [2023], Trost): Piano duo, married but both have huge solo careers, as well as several joint duo or larger group albums. But this one feels awkward at first, banging chords, but it does get a bit more interesting toward the end. B [sp]

Techno Cats: The Music of Gregg Hill (2023, Cold Plunge): One of many recent tributes to the Michigan composer, this a postbop quintet: Chris Glassman (bass trombone), Nathan Borton (guitar), Xavier Davis (piano), Javier Enrique (bass), and Michael J. Reed (drums). B+(*) [cd]

Kris Tiner/Tatsuya Nakatini: The Magic Room (2023, Epigraph): Trumpet player, based in Bakersfield, in a duo with percussion. B+(**) [cd]

TisaKorean: Let Me Update My Status (2023, Jazzzy): Houston rapper Domonic Patten, Wikipedia credits him with a bunch of singles and four mixtapes since 2017, but Discogs barely noticed him. The jerky rhythms and muffled words (rhymes?) are tough going, and not clearly worth the trouble. B [sp]

Tujiko Noriko: Crépuscule I & II (2023, Editions Mego, 2CD): Japanese ambient electronica producer, sings, Tujiko her surname. Long and uneventful. B [sp]

Veeze: Ganger (2023, Navy Wavy): Detroit rapper, second album/mixtape. Sludgy, surreal, long (21 tracks). B+(*) [sp]

David Virelles: Carta (2022 [2023], Intakt): Cuban pianist, moved to Canada after 2001, studying and playing with Jane Bunnett, and on to New York in 2009. Eighth album, a trio with Ben Street (bass) and Eric McPherson (drums), both prominently credited on the cover. B+(**) [r]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Spirit Songs (2004 [2023], Origin): Composer, born in New Jersey, parents from Trinidad and Barbados, has a 1980 debut album but discography really starts up with Spirit Songs in 2005. This appears to be a prequel, dusted off as a tribute to the late drummer, Ralph Peterson Jr. Sextet with Ralph Bowen (tenor/soprano sax), Antonio Hart (alto/soprano sax), Clifford Adams Jr. (trombone), Jonny King (piano), John Benitez (bass), and Peterson. B+(***) [cd]

George Cartwright: The Ghostly Bee (2005 [2023], Mahakala Music): Saxophonist, best known for his 1984-2003 group Curlew, plus scattered releases under his own name since 1979. This one appeared on Innova, a quintet with guitar (Davey Williams), keyboards (Chris Parker), bass, and drums, organized as two long "suites" (77:37 total, all improvised). B+(*) [bc]

George Cartwright: A Tenacious Slew (2007 [2023], Mahakala Music): Another reissue, originally on Innova. Includes a bit of poetry by Anne Elias. B+(*) [bc]

Julee Cruise: Floating Into the Night (1989 [2023], Sacred Bones): Singer (1956-2022), originally from Iowa, moved to New York, started working with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti as a vocal coach for Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. First album, with Lynch writing lyrics and Badalmenti doing the music and orchestration, tied into Lynch's Twin Peaks. Billed as dream pop, but not without a few kinks. B [sp]

Nastyfacts: Drive My Car + 2 (1981 [2022], Left for Dead, EP): Per Robert Christgau: "three white male NYC teens with their 18-year-old senior partner, black female composer-vocalist-bassist Kali Boyce. All three kick ass and then some." That shortchanges some details, like the skids and crashes on the title romp, or the male interjections on the closer. I might cavil about the length (7:38), but this is pretty tightly packed, with each song building on the previous. A- [bc]

Sonic Youth: Live in Brooklyn 2011 (2011 [2023], Silver Current): Seminal New York guitar band, started with an EP in 1982, ended in late 2011 with the separation of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore after 27 years of marriage. Last concert was in São Paulo in November 14, following this August 11 performance outdoors, in Williamsburg facing the East River. In recent years they've released a couple dozen live tapes, but I've had little interested in sifting through them. But they've singled this one out, remastered it, and offer it as 2-LP or 2-CD (82:40). More noise than I'd like, especially on the encore, but in controlled doses it made them stand out. B+(***) [sp]

Taylor Swift: Speak Now (Taylor's Version) (2023, Republic): I'm pretty indifferent to this series, which may be why I'm filing this under "reissues" even though I take them at their word that they're all new recordings. Both sides of the dispute are rich, and Taylor's only getting richer. I've heard the originals, but don't remember them enough to nitpick, and I'm not interested enough to go back. As a first approximation, I'd say they're pretty even, with a bit more excess baggage on the new ones, but they've tracked my original grades. This, her third album, was the first I graded A-, and I'm hearing it all again. Except this time I have a better picture of how big she promised to become in "Mean." A- [sp]

Abdul Wadud: By Myself: Solo Cello (1977 [2023], Gotta Groove): Cellist, originally Ronald DeVaughn (1947-2022), very little under his own name, but his duos with Julius Hemphill are well remembered. B+(**) [bc]

Neil Young: Chrome Dreams (1974-77 [2023], Reprise): Demo album, considered for release in 1977, leaked in the 1990s as a bootleg, so now is official, 16 years after the release of another album, Chrome Dreams II. Most songs solo, but some are fleshed out with a band, notably "Like a Hurricane." Most of the songs appeared on his next four albums, up to 1980, with a couple stragglers. Those four albums run { A-, A, A+, A- } in my book, so this should too, but adds little, and feels a bit tentative. B+(***) [r]

Old Music

808 State: Ex:el (1991, ZTT/Tommy Boy): English electronica group, from Manchester, first album 1988, this their fourth (of seven through 2002) and most popular (4 in UK). B+(**) [sp]

Aaliyah: Age Ain't Nothing but a Number (1994, Blackground): Last name Haughton, released three gold records, this first one when she was 15 -- also the age, in what seems even more bizarre today, she married R. Kelly, although that story is messier than I care to get into -- before dying at 22 in a plane crash. Kelly produced, his "new jack swing" a mix of funk and hip-hop, tempered by the young singer. It sold three million copies in the US, three more million elsewhere. B+(*) [sp]

Aaliyah: One in a Million (1996, Blackground): Second album, age 17, another big seller, runs 17 songs, 73:10, seems to be coming her own but this is very much a producers' showcase, with most of the songs written by Missy Elliott and Timbaland. It does capture the sound of the times, which as someone who grew up decades earlier has always struck me as a bit muddled, but she comes through clearer than most. B+(**) [sp]

Aaliyah: Aaliyah (2001, Blackground): One more big hit record, most of the lyrics this time by Stephen Garrett, the music by various committees, and four producers, not that I can discern much variation, just relentless craft. B+(**) [sp]

Change: The Glow of Love (1980, RFC/Warner Bros.): Post-disco group, inspired by Chic, formed in Bologna, Italy, with David Romani, Paolo Gianollo, and Mauro Malavasi doing most of the songwriting and producing, Jacques Fred Petrus running the business, and lots of movable parts, including Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown singing two songs each. B+(**) [sp]

Džambo Aguševi Orchestra: Brasses for the Masses (2020, Asphalt Tango): Macedonian brass band, the leader plays trumpet. B+(**) [sp]

Duran Duran: Rio (1982, Capitol): English new wave band, MTV stars of the early 1980s as their first three albums (1981-83) went multi-platinum. After that they coasted, but never more than four years between albums (until 2021's Future Past took six; a new one is scheduled for October 2023). Title song was as catchy as they ever got. Nothing else here comes close, and in the end I wonder whether there was anything to them in the first place. B- [r]

Electronic: Electronic (1991, Factory): Duo of Bernard Sumner (Joy Division/New Order) and Johnny Marr (Smiths), Sumner the vocal lead, both play guitars and keyboards, Marr also bass. First of three albums (1991-99), sounds much like New Order, nothing to sniff at, but lacks the same magic -- even when the Pet Shop Boys join on two tracks. B+(***) [sp]

Electronic: Raise the Pressure (1996, Parlophone): Second album, Sumner and Marr are joined here by Karl Bartos, from Kraftwerk, who co-wrote six songs. Soundwise, it doesn't make a lot of difference, other than some extra squiggles in the background, and more background vocals. In other words, less overtly New Order, still built on the same strengths, but a bit more nuanced and nicer. A- [sp]

Ember With Orrin Evans: No One Is Any One (2020 [2021], Sunnyside): Alto saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis, formed this trio with Noah Garabedian (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums), and caught the ear of the pianist, who joins in on the back stretch (four tracks, of ten), slowing things down. B+(**) [bc]

Everything but the Girl: Walking Wounded (1996, Atlantic): English duo, singer Tracey Thorn and multi-instrumentalist Ben Watt, ten albums 1984-99 plus a new one in 2023, each with solo albums before 1984 and after 2000, and also memoirs. This is their ninth album, possibly their bestseller. Nice, steady beat, would take more study, especially for a group I've heard next to nothing by. B+(***) [sp]

Amy Grant: Heart in Motion (1991, A&M): Singer-songwriter, started on the gospel label Myrrh in 1977, sixth album (1985) got picked up for distribution by A&M and went platinum, with this more pop-oriented album ("mingled with Christian values") an even bigger hit. I've had zero interest in CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) since it emerged as a marketing niche, but my rare encounters suggested it was basically arena rock with sanctified (or at least sanitized) lyrics, so as mind-numbing as metal without even the pretense of subversion. This has some of that ("You're Not Alone" is so over the top it's almost good), then winds down with some more gracious ballads (best is "Hope Set High," despite Jesus). B [sp]

The Human League: Dare (1981, A&M): English new wave (synthpop) band, third album after their 1979 debut, a breakthrough hit in the US as well as UK. Formally this has some interest, but I still find it hard to like. B- [sp]

Ice Cube: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990, Priority): West coast gangsta godfather, O'Shea Jackson, first solo album while still a member of N.W.A. -- group disbanded after their second album in 1991, but he returned for their 1999-2002 reunion, and a couple times since then. Big album at the time, hard beats, sharp jolts. I'm certainly not hanging on every word. B+(**) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Every Grain of Sand: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan (2002, Linn): English singer, father Czech, mother German, writes some but has many songbook albums, including more on Dylan. Tempting up to the home stretch, where the song selection hits a couple pet peeves. B+(***) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Waterloo Sunset (2003, Linn): Three originals, nine covers, mostly rock singer-songwriters from the Everly Brothers ("Cathy's Clown") to Richard Thompson, including two Dylans and the remarkable title song from Ray Davies. B+(**) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Love Me Tender (2004 [2005], Linn): Moving on to Elvis Presley, including two more Dylan songs that Presley covered, and one new song by Jungr and producer Aidan York. Everything is done at such a crawl you may already be dead for "Peace in the Valley." B+(*) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Just Like a Woman (Hymn to Nina) (2008, Linn): "All songs previously recorded by Nina Simone," but none written by her, and Jungr doesn't have the voice, the phrasing, or the piano to make the connection. She does, however, find three more Dylan songs. B+(*) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Man in the Long Black Coat: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan (2003-11 [2011], Linn): Another Dylan tribute, this one rolling up the covers on her albums since 2002's Every Grain of Sand -- no duplicates, while adding four new ones (or outtakes?). Almost a best-of, except when it isn't. B+(***) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Hard Rain: The Songs of Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen (2014, Kristalyn): Six more Dylan songs, along with five from Cohen (two co-credits with Sharon Robinson). The latter tend to be played down, but she throws some back into the former, especially "It's Alright Ma." B+(**) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Shelter From the Storm: Songs of Hope for Troubled Times (2016, Linn): Philipp Ther, in How the West Lost the Peace, repeatedly refers to 2016 as annus horribilis, the combined effect of Brexit and Trump, so Jungr has some company in recognizing "troubled times." She co-wrote three songs with pianist Laurence Hobgood ("featuring" on the cover), but went to Dylan for a title (also for "All Along the Watchtower"), Cohen for "Sisters of Mercy," Joni Mitchell for "Woodstock," and wound up with Peter Gabriel and David Bowie ("Life on Mars?/Space Oddity" -- nice idea for another album). B+(*) [sp]

Barb Jungr/John McDaniel: Come Together: Barb Jungr & John McDaniel Perform the Beatles (2016, Kristalyn): McDaniel is an American pianist, sings some, is best known as music director for The Rosie O'Donnell Show, which netted him a couple Grammys. Beatles songs have an almost singularly shabby track record as jazz vehicles, but jazz isn't really the point here. The mostly late-period songs are cannily selected for diva performance, ranging from "Eleanor Rigby" to the medley of "Somewhere" and "The Long and Winding Road," closing with "In My Life." B+(**) [sp]

Barb Jungr: Bob, Brel, and Me (2019, Kristalyn): Bob is Dylan, of course, good for five more songs here, along with five by Jacques Brel (translated into English by Robb Johnson), and five originals. Even the Dylan songs are running low. B [sp]

The London Suede: Dog Man Star (1994, Nude/Columbia): Britpop group, Suede in the UK, the qualification used only in the US. Debut 1993, second album here, released five albums through 2002, took a decade off and returned with four more 2013-22. B [sp]

Mighty Sam McClain: Give It Up to Love (1993, Audioquest): Soul-blues singer from Louisiana (1943-2015), sang in church, recorded some singles in the 1960s but no albums until 1986, and this seems to have been his breakthrough. A slow grind with organ and guitar. B+(***) [sp]

Kylie Minogue: Fever (2002, Capitol): Australian dance-pop star, debut 1988, has sold over 80 million units worldwide, but didn't chart above 53 (her debut) in the US until this eighth album when platinum, peaking at 3. The beat, especially on the opener ("More More More") is enticing, but winds up feeling a bit empty. B+(**) [sp]

Róisín Murphy: Overpowered (2007, EMI): Irish singer-songwriter, grew up in Manchester, debut 2005 with three EPs leading to the album Ruby Blue, followed by this album, which sold well in the UK. Electropop, although it sometimes falls below functional dance-pop levels. B+(*) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Zoom: Spawn of Speed (2000 [2001], Intakt): Swiss drummer, albums since 1993, this the first of four with this trio of Nils Wogram (trombone) and Philipp Schaufelberger (guitar). One of those odd three-legged stools that looks wobbly but somehow holds up. B+(**) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Zoom: Rough Ride (2002, Intakt): Second album by this trombone-guitar-drums trio. B+(*) [sp]

Lucas Niggli Drum Quartet: Beat Bag Bohemia (2007 [2008], Intakt): Three drummers plus Rolando Lamussene on djembe, mbira, voice, percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Sinéad O'Connor: I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990, Ensign): Irish singer-songwriter (1966-2023), second album, a huge hit. I didn't care for her debut album or for her best-of, but this feels varied and masterful, if a bit beyond my ken. B+(***) [sp]

Alexander O'Neal: Hearsay (1987, Tabu): R&B singer, debut 1985, this his second (and bestselling, although 1991's All True Man came close) album, with occasional later albums, up to 2010 (or 2017?). B+(**) [sp]

René & Angela: Street Called Desire (1985, Mercury): R&B duo, René Moore and Angela Winbush, recorded four albums 1980-85, the first three for Capitol, this their first gold record, but went separate ways afterwards: Angela recorded three more albums, both having success in songwriting and production (René contributing to Michael Jackson; together they had written songs early on for Janet Jackson). Starts disco, but emphasis is on the funk, extending to a Kurtis Blow rap. [Spotify adds extra cuts, which I didn't manage to separate out.] B+(***) [sp]

René & Angela: René & Angela (1980, Capitol): First album, seven originals are decent enough, but I wouldn't say they have great chemistry. The cover is wildly unfortunate ("Hotel California"). B [r]

Kris Tiner: In the Ground and Overhead: 14 Miniatures for Muted Trumpet (2020, Epigraph, EP): Trumpet player, recorded these short solo pieces (14:29) "while in residence at Montalvo Arts Center in the forested foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains." B+(*) [sp]

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:

Elle King: Come Get Your Wife (2023, RCA): Singer-songwriter from from Los Angeles or New York, daughter of comedian Rob Schneider, took her mother's name, started as an actress in 1999, recorded an EP in 2012, followed by an album in 2015, with this her third, and most country, right down to the trailer cliché, which she treats as a badge of honor. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 40767 [40636] rated (+131), 12 [14] unrated (-2).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

August 7, 2023

Music: Current count 40662 [40636] rated (+26), 12 [14] unrated (-2).

I published another Speaking of Which yesterday (5691 words, 93 links). Could have written much more, but couldn't find the time, and by Sunday evening the will was flagging as well.

I have even less to say about this week's music, or for that matter this past week. I'm making minor progress on my technical projects, but still have a lot more to do. Posting this early will open up some time on Monday. One thing I did get done last week was a trip to Thai Binh, as I was running low on hoisin sauce. While there, I picked up some pork and eggplants, so I need to cook dinner on Tuesday, and make time for all that entails. At last, a project with a reasonable expectation of completion.

Christian Iszchak wrote a longer review of Flang Dang. I heard the mid-1970s albums when they came out, but haven't played them in ages, and probably only have them on vinyl (if that). I had the record in my tracking file, but hadn't pursued it. But I had checked out a couple of his more recent albums. I also remember his earlier group, Amen Corner, but didn't register anything by it in my database.

I didn't get July's indexing done (or at least I don't remember doing it), so maybe next week.

August 14, 2023

Music: Current count 40696 [40662] rated (+34), 22 [12] unrated (+10).

I got off to a very slow start this week, partly because I made a fairly fancy Chinese dinner on Tuesday. I had gone to Thai Binh for some pantry items (hoisin sauce, ground bean sauce, dark soy sauce) and wound up picking up some eggplant, baby bok choy, and two packages of pork: a fresh ham, and a chunk of pork side. I made red-cooked ham with the former, twice-cooked pork with the latter: two of my favorite dishes, and they both turned out splendid. I sliced and broiled the eggplant, and topped it with spicy peanut sauce. The bok choy were parboiled and stir-fried. I substituted velveted shrimp for ham in my usual fried rice. And made pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Pretty painful, but very delicious.

I did some tests, then sent my Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1300 scanner back to Amazon. Some nice features -- I especially like feeding photo prints in from the front, which is very fast -- but the scans were of mixed quality, and most importantly I never got it working with my Linux computer (despite it being on the SANE compatibility list), so the workflow sucked. Probably the best scan I got out of it was my parents' wedding picture. I have a HP OfficeJet which can do flat-bed scans, but doesn't work well either. I wish I had sent it back in time, as it's probably the worst purchase I've ever made. Still on my list of things to do is to call HP and try to get some answers, why like the printer is recognized but refuses to print anything. Also why I can do test scans using Xsane, but not final scans. Also haven't fully resolved my email problem, but I did get one question. Could use some more.

Right now, the top technical task is to get my wife's Linux computer running again, after a boot error. Could be that the hard drive is toast. I ordered some parts for any eventuality, and will get to that tomorrow. One pleasant surprise was being able to pick up a 1TB SSD for $60. Last one I bought was a quarter that size for a bit more. Also ordered a KVM switch, as all my old ones are PS2/VGA medusae.

I did finally get the belts for my CD changer (from Greece, it turns out), so now if only I can remember how to reassemble it. That'll clear up some major clutter, as I had to take literally everything out of the box to get to the bottom belt.

One technical win is that dug into the C++ program that converts my music database input files to produce the web pages in my index. I wanted to make it possible to pass HTML entities through, so I could embed them in my source files. (I'm still stuck using the Latin-1 codeset, where the program converts all of the non-ASCII characters to HTML entities, as well as "&" to "&" -- which was my problem.)

I had a bit less trouble finding music to listen to this week. Robert Christgau's August Consumer Guide came out. The new records (see reviews below) mostly landed at B+(**), as did many of the ones I had already gotten to (my grades in brackets):

  • Amaarae: The Angel You Don't Know (Golden Child '20) [A-]
  • Amaarae: Fountain Baby (Interscope) [A-]
  • Miles Davis: Bitches Brew Live (Columbia '11) [B+(***)]
  • Fokn Bois: Coz of Moni 2 (Fokn Revenge) (Pidgen Music '14) [B+(**)]
  • Lori McKenna: 1988 (CN/Thirty Tigers) [A-]
  • Nia Archives: Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against the Wall (Hijinx/Island) [B+(*)]
  • Palehound: Eye on the Bat (Polyvinyl) [B+(**)]
  • SZA: SOS (Top Dawg Entertainment) [B+(**)]

That leaves a new Wreckless Eric album I haven't found yet. I'll also note that Greg Morton offered a stinging rebuke to the Lori McKenna album on Facebook (link hard to find, but somewhere in here). As someone with no children of my own, I took "Happy Children" to be a nice sentiment, but as an unhappy child myself, Greg's review hit a personal chord.

Beyond that I mostly checked out albums from Pitchfork's The Best Music of 2023 So Far, and their recent Out This Week columns. Neither were great sources for A-list albums -- Bambii is my favorite of the high B+ albums. I'll also note that Anohni topped Phil Overeem's latest list, explaining "Even if I wasn't a Missourian, where cruelty is our state adjective, it would have knocked me out." I gave it two plays to make sure I wasn't knocked out, but it's not unusual for me to register the melodrama but not the context. I'll also note that back when I lived in St. Louis, I started pronouncing the state name "mis'-ery" (sometimes preceded by "state of"). That was no more far-fetched than the locals' butchering of the city's many old French placenames (e.g., Grav-oise, Carondo-lette, De-boliver, the River Despair).

I got a lot of incoming mail this week, most of which doesn't actually drop until September (or sometimes October). I tracked down a Henry Hey download after noticing him on the Pete McCann album, but couldn't find anything on the album -- turns out it's not released until October -- so I held off on it. Pretty good piano trio. I have a lot of download links saved away. I should go through them and check out a few, but it often seems like more hassle than it's worth.

August 21, 2023

Music: Current count 40728 [40696] rated (+32), 19 [22] unrated (-3).

I figured there was no chance I'd hit 30 albums this week, both due to distractions and a (probably seasonal) shortfall of tips, but I found some priority jazz albums in my tracking file, and they led me to some more, with the Lucas Niggli oldies pushing me over the top. I've long wanted to hit 100% of Intakt's back catalog.

I wound up the week with zero A- records, but thought Noname and Margaret Glaspy merited another spin (or as it turns out, three each). Noname was the easier promotion, but the best Glaspy songs are quite solid, and my main reservation is that sometimes my mind wanders. Similar exposure might have promoted Neil Young, or either or both Ivo Perelmans, but I chose not to go there. I think those grades are solid enough.

I finally did the indexing for July Streamnotes. I barely average 30 records per week in July, so I guess this has been going on longer than I thought. Sometimes it feels like a pointless grind, but like Speaking of Which, it's one of the few things I can do these days without too much strain.

Lots of useful information in Philipp Ther's How the West Lost the Peace, but it doesn't really live up to the promise of the title. It certainly is true that the West's single-minded pursuit of neoliberal capitalism caused harm every step of the way, but equally important was the blind spot that grew unaware as "defense." That Russia, having been excluded from integration with Europe both militarily and economically, and coming up on the short end of both sticks, would revive imperial longings now seems inevitable, even if completely foolish. Ther understands this on some level, but in the end comes down so emphatically on the side of Ukraine that he offers no exit path.

I was thinking I would read Christopher Clark's Revolutionary Spring: Europe Aflame and the Fight for a New World, 1848-1849 next, but had to go to the doctor today, and wanted to carry a smaller book. Scrounging through my old shelves, I found a 1962 paperback of EJ Hobsbawm's The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, which leads up to that period. I bought it ages ago (the paperback price is $1.25), but don't recall ever actually reading it, but now I have to admit that the first chapter is one of the most brilliant pieces of historical writing I've ever encountered. I doubt I'll be able to put it down (even though I just read a pretty good short overview of the French Revolution in David A Bell's Men on Horseback: The Power of Charisma in the Age of Revolution).

Correction: The Doug MacDonald album I reviewed last month as Big Band Extravaganza was actually titled Edwin Alley, and credited to Doug MacDonald Trio. Big Band Extravaganza was reviewed in January. Both reviews are so cryptic I doubt anyone noticed, but I've seen several hints that I screwed up, and balancing the books finally proved it.

August 28, 2023

Music: Current count 40767 [40728] rated (+39), 27 [19] unrated (+8).

Short list of new records reviewed this week. I have more in the promo queue now than I've had at any point this year, but almost all of them are September/October releases -- including the James Brandon Lewis and Todd Sickafoose albums I jumped the gun on. I made up for that shortfall by following a couple of checklists. The first was one I had compiled some time ago based on Will Friedwald: The Great Jazz and Pop Vocals Albums. Phil Overeem mentioned this list in relation to a course he's teaching, and discussion turned to a Barb Jungr record I hadn't found at the time. I found it this time, and wound up playing most of her oeuvre.

I didn't find anything in Soto's list that added to the 17 albums already on my A-list, although they did lead me to a second Electronic album that I liked a bit better -- the listed album came in at B+(***). Still, it was an interesting exercise.

The second checklist was one I compiled based on Afred Soto's post: My 50 favorite albums. Turned out there were quite a few albums on his list that I hadn't heard (or at least rated), so I wound up spending most of the week filling in the blanks. Thus far, only one record has eluded me: DJ Sprinkles: Midtown 120 Blues. (I did find some Spotify playlists, but they were defunct, with links broken.)

I also jotted down the years of the records. I've long suspected that most of the records one feels strongest attachment to are ones that came out in one's teens and twenties. That's true of me, and I suspect that explains most of our divergence. Soto's records fall into these age bands: 1970-79 (6), 1980-84 (7), 1985-89 (8), 1990-94 (11), 1995-1999 (2), 2000-04 (4), 2005-09 (6), 2010-present (4). I don't have a comparable list, but in my unsorted 1000 Records list, more than half of my rock/r&b records came from the 1960s and 1970s (255/407, or 62.6%; if you throw in rap and techno, and count all of them as post-1979, it becomes 255/459, or 55.5%).

I had the idea of throwing together a comparison list, taking as rules: one album for each year there were albums on Soto's list (so the same age spread); no more than three compilations (Soto had Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music, Wire, Dolly Parton), counted by source end date; no more than one jazz album (Soto had Miles Davis). I'm not sure that other genre matches would help much: Soto has 2 Brazil, 0 other world/latin, 3 rap, 3 country, 8 r&b, 2 (or maybe more) electronica, the rest pop/rock (of which Sugar is most metal). My biggest shift would be less r&b, which I thought went into decline after 1980 and became increasingly muddled, not that I wasn't able to find exceptions.

I also want to cite Brad Luen's 2003 poll results. He has been doing annual polls in the Expert Witness Facebook group, decided to do 2003, and rounded up 39 ballots (which don't seem to be available). I didn't vote, but I do have a 2003 list published (untouched since Jan. 1, 2005). Back in the day, I also compiled a 2003 poll (10 voters, 7 for Buck 65's Talkin' Honky Blues, which came in 7th in Luen's poll). I doubt I need to checklist the results, as I've heard nearly all of them, but the exceptions start at 24 with DonaZica's Composição, which got a boost recently with a Rod Taylor guest post on Luen's Substack: Sixteen 21st century Brazilian albums. Taylor's list deserves a checklist, but my grasp of Brazilian music is so lame I doubt it will do me much good. (Looking down at the poll results, there are more, like Yin Yang Twins at 27, Linkin Park at 37, King Geedorah at 40, Kathleen Edwards at 41, Constantines at 42, Brooks & Dunn at 50, etc.

I don't often link to music, but Dan Ex Machina posted a single to mark Trump's latest arrest.

August Streamnotes done but not indexed yet.


Sources noted as follows:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at
  • [r] available at (formerly Rhapsody)
  • [sp] available at