Active Music Listening Tuesday October 30, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 794
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 465
Not good music: 286
Buys: 27 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ Neil Young: Psychedelic Pill (Reprise, 2012).  The great parts of this record are the jams, the long jams.  The first ‘Driftin’ Back’ is a 27 minute monster.  I get the premise of the tune, and I agree with it — that things have changed and he misses the way music used to be etc, but the lyrics annoy me.  My wife, a big Neil Young fan, said the lyrics sounded lazy.  I found the lyrics in ‘Driftin’ Back’ to be weird and annoying and in another song he tosses in a ‘Let the good times roll’.  It’s 2012, I’d love for the line ‘good times roll’ to be retired for a while.  I’d also like references to bleeding to get a rest (not a theme Neil Young has participated in).  If you’re able to easily not listen to lyrics, the playing on this record is high end.  If music has lyrics I like to listen to them.

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Best of 2012 update (Hurricane edition)

Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform, 2012).  I try not to be a music review bloveator as all that language is really for the labels and the music marketers.  The scope of this massive 4 cd work (I’m streaming it on MOG) is so far reaching it would take forever to try to get down with each piece and tie it to the title and the overall work.

It’s important to remember that this is an expansive piece of music centered around African-American history but also the American experience.  With titles like ‘Malik Al Shabazz and the People of the Shahada’, ‘Buzzsaw: The Myth of a Free Press’ and ‘Democracy’ this music operates at a meta level.

As for the music itself, the closest point of reference would be Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain with politics.  The production is cool in temperature, the music is a combination of classical orchestration and improvisation, and the tone is somber and slow moving.

Trumper player Wadada Leo Smith deserves respect not just the music he created but the boldness in envisioning a piece of music so epic in scope.

Active Music Listening Monday October 29, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 793
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 464
Not good music: 286
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@  Robert Soko: Balkanbeats Soundlab (Piranha, 2012).  I found this record via WRIR, a big world music station in Virginia.  Soko uses Balkan music as the raw materials for dance floor remixes.  I’m not a huge fan of Balkan music, but I’m going to be open minded and check it out.  Okay, this is much better than I expected.  It’s not just your basic four on the floor electronica stupidness and the tunes are remixed more the way a dub mix might go.  It’s not a complete gutting of the original tune, I can get with this.

@@@ Blind Note: Blind Note (Muzikpublique, 2010).  This record was recommended to me by MOG because I’m really into this 2011 by an oud/frame drum group called Wahid.  The largest influence is Latin Music, but there is a thread of Middle Eastern music to it.  Female singer, smooth production, overall a very brunch-y sounding piece of music. I prefer my world music to have a bit more wallop/muscle to it.

@@@ Various Artists: Philip Glass Remixed (Orange Mountain Music, 2012).  A MOG new release page listen.  I’m certainly not a Philip Glass purist but this does not appear to be a recording particularly interested in honoring Philip Glass’ spirit — I’m going to go check out some Philip Glass music and then return.  I’ve checked out 4-5 tracks of an album of Philip Glass called Glassworks (Sony Classical, 2003) and this electronica remix of Philip Glass is basically a marketing move designed to associate a mostly mindless genre (electronica) with a more sophisticated musician, Philip Glass.  This is one of the main marketing tools of the music business — make stupid music and sell it to folks as really smart music so they can feel smart about themselves.

Active Music Listening Saturday October 27, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 790
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 463
Not good music: 284
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ Kariem Riggins: Alone Together (Stones Throw, 2012).  I got to this record after seeing a write up here at the Quietus.  It’s an instrumental hip hop record and Riggins is the jazz trained drummer driving the bus.  I’m a total hip hop square, but they mix him like he’s a drum machine — they don’t give his playing a real live drum room sound.  The arrangements are good, but I was hoping for some drum shredding to go with the arrangements.

@@@ Sky Ferreira: Ghost EP (Capitol, 2012).  A surprisingly restrained piece of singer songwriter pop from a major label.  No orgasm breathing, just a band with a woman out front singing.  Oh wait, I’m fucked.  The first tune was a slow tune with instruments and then the second tune ‘Lost in My Bedroom’ brings the breathy singing and the electro pop.  I feel so all alone in my bedroom with my breathy breating hiding under my blanket made out of electro pop fatigue.  I need a hug and a break from the market tested formulas for shifting musical units.

@@@ Bat for Lashes: Haunted Man (EMI UK, 2012)  This MOG front page release opens up with a wispy female voice over a tiny guitar.  Dramatic.  And here comes the synthesizers and the beats.  Oh, the beats.  I’m starting to wonder if there is a tidal wave of this music happening right now as it’s relatively cheap to produce compared to a traditional band release, or whether folks are lapping this music.  In my blog travels, from hipster to Main Street, I don’t see a ton of ebullience for it.  Think Tori Amos without the piano.   This record does have drums and other instruments in addition to the electronics and these are songs with changes and flow.  I would put this in the ambient New Age pop rock category as it has elements of all those genres hot glued together.

Active Music Listening Friday October 26, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 787
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 461
Not good music: 283
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ The Emperors of Wyoming: I Never Got Over You/Cornfield Palace (Proper Records, 2012)  A couple tracks off this country rock record with Butch Vig on drums.  There’s a huge spread on the making of this record, all manner of gear porn, over here.  The drums sound great, the guitars are good, and the songs are solid but I would go for some classic John Hiatt records if you’re looking for some lyrics to listen to.

@@@ Ambassador Gun: Golden Eagle (Prosthetic, 2012).  I got to this recording from a metal mail order email.  A nice bass heavy thrash band — a thick volcanic guitar, bass bubbling interrupted by quick changes into thrashy sections.  The singer is shredding himself quite virulently — these guys are pretty upset.  I would give them an 8 on the Upset-O-Meter.  The second tune ‘Christbastard’ ups the upset even more.  Wow.  I like the kick drum sound they got on this record — it’s thick and wallopy instead of a super click-y kick.  If you want to get your thrash on for the weekend these guys are more than happy to oblige.

@@@ Rush Midnight: The Night Was Young Enough (Cascine, 2012).  From a music publicist email.  You can stream and read about it here at Spin.  Above average beats and a real bass line with the requisite layered synthesizers and average vocals.  Some better vocals would have really helped to elevate this track.

@@@ La Big Vic: Avenue B (Underwater Peoples, 2012).  You can stream or download this track over here at Stereogum.  I got to this track via a publicist email.  In typical music publicist fashion, one of the members of the group is an avant garde composer and the blurb for the track at Stereogum says it’s a jazz accented number.  This is all done to signal you that this is not dumb music, it has substance.  The tune does have a trumpet melody, but there’s nothing avant garde or particularly jazz-y about this track.  Please trust me on this as I’ve listened to hundreds of jazz records.  The tune has a laidback and quirky feel — it’s cool.

Active Music Listening Thursday October 25, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 783
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 459
Not good music: 281
Buys: 26 (not all 2012 releases)
Possibles: Zani Diabate, Isaiah Toothtaker (2011), Ondatropica, Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, The Ones to Blame, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Wahid, Wadada Leo Smith ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, Skyzoo, Pig Destroyer, Bettye Lavette, Philippe Petite, Paul Giallorenzo, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009)

@@@ Brother Ali: US (Rhymesayers, 2009).  I was looking for the new record, but it’s not up on MOG, but this one is.  Super uptempo concious hip hop — big bumpin’ horn lines, big shredding guitar lines and a super partyistic MC.  This shit is more soulful than 90% of the retro-soul bands draggin’ themselves all over the world.  The lyrics are a good balance between positive and reality based with some fuck yous gettin passed around.  I like this guy much more than the new Kendrick Lamar record.  I would be interested in checking out Brother Ali’s new record and see if it maintains from this 2009 one.

@@@ Japandroids: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl, 2012).  Man, this band is everywhere — you can’t take a shit without running into Japandroids.  I can see why — it’s mainstream music with big fat hooks and a little indie to it so it can be sold to hipsters as cool.  Sort of like the White Stripes with a good drummer and without Jack White’s pig squeal (which I dig).  I like it all right and probably works great live, it’s got some spunk to it, but I don’t think it’s good enough for them to be in the same room as me when I take a shit.

@@@ Black Moth Super Rainbow: Cobra Juicy (Rad Cult, 2012).  MOG new release page.  I like the dreamy/trippy female vocals paired with the mangled/super-compressed club guitar on the first track Windshield Smasher.  I like the arrangements, but the record is almost distorting at low levels due to over compression.  It hurts to listen to this record.

@@@ Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (Interscope, 2012).  This hip hop record is getting a big push. The first tune comes with a skit at the beginning and the end and a lot of talk about being a ghetto pornstar in the middle.  The production is blunted — phased drums and Lamaar’s flow on the microphone is mostly laidback with occasional bursts of energy.  The second tune, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, is as expected — an ode to becoming famous and a put down of naysayers.  Lyrical themes revolve mostly around Lamaar’s super sized horniness — the album is shot through with dick and pussy with a touch of gang bangin’ thrown in to round out the picture.  It’s above average hip hop, not crazy funky or concious.

@@@ Paul Banks: Banks (Matador, 2012).  A MOG front page-r.  Mr. Banks sports a morose downer-y voice — sonorous and meaningful and he sings over beats and an indie guitar.  The music has a bit of a Bowie vibe and a bit of Kraut rock.  I just caught from another blog that this is the lead singer of Interpol, a band I never really connected with.  It sounds like something straight off MTV about 25 years ago, but I guess that’s really cool now.