Updates to Best of 2012

Torche: Harmonicraft (Volcrom, 2012).  A pretty mainstream rock record I like the way these guys play together and the way these songs feel.  The drummer has an undercover swing to his playing and that shit always helps an album over the top.  For fans of Jane’s Addiction and Stanford Prison Experiment to check out.

If the music business knew what they were doing these guys would be huge.

Lianne La Havas: Is Your Love Big Enough? (Nonesuch, 2012).  I haven’t felt a Nonesuch release in a long time, their stuff tends to be a bit buttery soft for my taste.  Say you find Esperanza Spaulding to be too wooden and proggy and Norah Jones to be too slackery, Miss La Havas may fit your tastes better.  This young lady can sing and she sings naturally.  She doesn’t have to try to sing beautifully, she just sings beautifully.  Big difference.  I think of this record as being like a Prince/Joni Mitchell record, a really great combining of musical styles.

More music biz apology, best customers etc

From marketing guru Seth Godin:

Apologizing to your best users is significantly more productive than blaming them for liking what you used to do.

As blogged yesterday, the music business should apologize but has not and will not.

But the second half of the above phrase really evokes what a lot of folks think about the music business.  Instead of trying to reconnect with best customers, the music business just moved down the food chain to sling mostly pop garbage to teens and tweens.

Teens and tweens are fairweather, barely formed humans and the idea that the music business prefers to do business with them rather than with adults who would be the best customers explains why there’s been no apology.

Bad business model I say.

Will the music business apologize the way Apple did?

I have many problems with the geek crowd.  They can be highly controlling and annoying, etc.  But Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized to customers for the shitty new map application.

I do think it’s a little weird to apologize for a business mistake.  I don’t get all up in these issues, that’s part of what annoys me about the tech crowd — the endless discussion of interfaces and guis and apis.  Aw, fuck it.

Apparently they shouldn’t have released that application and it sucks and he apologized.

In my opinion, the music business has a much longer list of sins they could apologize for:

1.  Suing their customers.
2.  Keeping CD prices high despite a record supply and falling demand.
3.  Screwing over artists since Day 1.

The idea that a big music bigwig would apologize to music lovers and customers is just unimaginable.

What would an apology accomplish?  It would show that the music business is in touch with reality and aware of the hole that they’re in and that they might be thinking of changing their ways and digging themselves out of this hole.

But it’s not going to happen because the music business is completely out of touch with reality and the reality of their customers.

Active Music Listening Friday September 28, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 658
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 385
Not good music: 234
Buys: 21 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid.

@@@ Torche: Harmonicraft (Volcom, 2012).  I came to this recording via a metal music mailorder.  It’s more updated classic rock than heavy metal, but it’s pretty good out of the gate with Letting Go.  The band has more than a spoonful of Jane’s Addiction influence going on.  They do a good job of catching a live vibe on these tunes — it doesn’t sound like they’ve played the tunes a million times before and they’re just trying to get them down perfect.

If the music business knew what they were doing these guys would be huge.  This album is going on my best of list for the year.

@@@ Lewis Nash: The Highest Mountain (Cellar Live, 2012).  I found this recording on the WMUA weekly playlist.  It’s burning straight jazz live recording with ample space for soloists to stretch out.  The focus here is on energy and ensemble playing.

@@@  Wooden Indian Burial Ground: Self-titled (Mon Amie, 2012).   Anchored by a beastly drummer, it’s too bad the rest of the band can’t keep up with him/her.  Oh wait, the organist tore out a pretty good solo.  I’m sure this is great live, but the song did not pull me in.

@@@  Jason Collett: Reckon (Arts and Crafts, 2012).  Starts out with a pretty great first song called Pacific Blue, but it comes down off that loveliness to a sort of late era John Lennon adult rock.    He’s got a very good voice and the album is very solid, I just thought I had hit a home run when I heard the first tune.  The attached video is very representative of the music on this record.



Active Music Listening Thursday September 27, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 653
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 383
Not good music: 232
Buys: 21 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid.

@@@ Wahid: Inside Silence (ADW, 2011).  I found this world music group over here at Splinters and Candy.  These guys have a record coming out called Road Poem, but this record is up on MOG.  I’m a fan of the oud — I dig the way it sounds and the contrast between the stringiness of the oud and the resonance of the frame drums is interesting.  This is not party music, it’s headphone music or hookah music.  If you are a fan of Indian classical music, this is similar.  A bit less ecstatic, but heavy nonetheless.  I’m gonna check this record out more when I have time.

I couldn’t find anything on Youtube but you can here a tune off the new record at the link at Splinters and Candy.

@@@ Loscil: Sketches from New Britain (Kranky, 2012).  I found this ambient record over here at Fluid Radio.  I think ambient music is very much like jazz — it can be a very personal like or dislike.  I don’t like the ambient music that revolves a lot around mechanical sounds and static and I can’t stand the New Age influenced ambient music.  I didn’t reall feel the first track on this record, but the second one heats up pretty good.  It’s in a sort of no man’s land stylistically.  There is a blend of repeating clouds of sound, and some synths and other assorted noises mixed in.  I’ve clipped that tune ‘Hastings Sunrise’ down below for youer listening pleasure.  This is some pretty high quality ambient music

@@@  Black Toe: Just Kids (Self-released, 2012).  I found this acoustic duo over here at Dingus Music.  I’m not the first in line for the confessional indie music, but this tune is as good as 95% of similarly styled music that’s being released by much larger outfits, multi-national companies even.  The singer sounds a bit like Norah Jones, which is neither good nor bad and the tune is dramatic without collapsing under the weight of cheese.  Check it out.

@@@  Other Lives: Mind the Gap (TBD Records, 2012).  I can see why these guys toured with Radiohead — they sport a mid tempo ambient orchestral rock sound.  A very British sound with a little beat of late Beatles vibe mixed in.  One of the better bands I’ve heard through a music publicist email.  I don’t think I like the singer that much and I don’t feel very drawn into the song, but it might work for you.

Read it and stream here.

@@@ Graph Rabbit: Snowblind (Butterscotch, out October 9th)  A blend of Sigur Ros, Radiohead, and an ambient electronic outfit.  Dreamy as hell, lush sounding and layered in a mindful and sophisticated way but not particularly powerful as a song.  I dig the sleigh bells, maybe it’s best Sigur Ros sings in a language I don’t understand.  Just a tad soft for my taste.


Active Music Listening Wednesday September 26, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 648
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 381
Not good music: 230
Buys: 21 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Left Lane Cruiser/James Leg, Dennis Bovell, Seluah, Donnie and Joe Emerson,  Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Lianne Le Havas, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood.

@@@  John Hiatt: Mystic Pinball (New West, 2012)  From the front page of MOG.  I’m a huge fan of John Hiatt’s older stuff, Bring the Family and Slow Turning which are pretty big shoes for an artist to fill.  While I wouldn’t say this record hits those peaks, this guys is a great no nonsense songwriter and I dig his meat and potatoes point of view, which is sorely missing from the precious realms of indie rock.  The band is straight and ahead and rock solid.  If folks don’t check out this record, they should check out some of Hiatt’s older music as he’s borderline national treasure material.

@@@ Lightning Bolt: Oblivion Hunter (Load, 2012).  Crushed for your pleasure — just an absolute distorto-fest.  The bass sound is just ridiculous, the vocals are completely unrecognizable and the drums are either hand drums or are tuned so tight.  This is pretty extreme music and I can appreciate it although I think I would prefer to see this circus live, it has to be head ripping extremis.  It’s this generation’s Butthole Surfers — more about a sound than a song.

@@@ Alcoholic Faith Mission: Ask Me This (Old Flame, 2012).  Found these guys via a PR email.  A long choral intro on the first track, I fear we are about to descend into some pop-tronica.  Oh, I’m wrong, it’s an indie band.  Wow, a lot of voices.  The second tune Alaska opens up with a solid guitar figure, handclaps, and more voices.  Oh my, the voice-iness of it all.  It’s an orchestral choral indie thing they have going here.  Not really my cup of tea, but it takes some skill to put this music together and if you’re feeling shiny and happy….this may ring your bell.

@@@  Elioan Radigue: Chry-ptus (Schoolmap, 2007).  If you are up for slow motion drone you should check this record out.  I think it’s lowering my heart rate.  This first piece is changing so slowly, it’s cool.  Drone folks should check this bad boy this is pretty heavy business.

@@@ Dum Dum Girls: End of Daze (Sub Pop, 2012).  Starts a bit noisy and swirls in a classic girl pop flavor and then busts out in a raucous guitar fest.  Has both rawness and polish.  The second tune, I’m Nothing is catchy  as hell.  I dig the singer and I haven’t given even the tiniest bit of respect to a Sub Pop record for a long long time.  This band has style.

Updates to Best of 2012 list

Thollem McDonas: The Gowanus Session (Porter, 2012).  McDonas on piano and big hitters William Parker on bass and Nels Cline on guitar.  For me this session has the right balance of skronk, and thunder, and noise and lyricism.  This session has one of my favorite characteristics of a great free jazz session.  The musicians may be playing something totally out, but at the same time it’s very connected to what the other musicians are playing.  (Added 9/26/12)

The Semi-Colon: Ndia Egbuo Ndia (Afro-Jigida) (Razor and Comb, 2012). An African music record, but focused much more on the guitar — it’s rather hornless.  The music is slinkier than the traditional pounding Afrobeat style and the guitar players lends the whole affair a rockin’ vibe.  The lead singer works a little in English and his native tongue.  The record has a slight off kilter weirdness to it that I really dig. (Added 9/26/12)

Honorable mention:

Chris Robinson Brotherhood: The Magic Door (Silver Arrow, 2012).  I have found this man’s music to be annoying for a long long time, so I’m shocked but I think this is a really good record.  Just short of a best of effort, partially due to my longstanding aversion.  Robinson combines jam rock, blues music, gospel, hippie music, and a little country flow to make something that is classic sounding but fresh at the same time. (Added 9/26/12)