Active Music Listening Friday November 30, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 904
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 528
Not good music: 327
Buys: 30 (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, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Bio Ritmo, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mrs. Medicine, Nico Muhly, Code Orange Kids, Bob Gluck Trio

@@@ Bob Gluck Trio: Returning (FMR Records, 2011),  I found this musician via the All About Jazz weekly gig email.  This piano trio recording starts out pretty straight on the tune ‘Lifeline (Returning)’ but then opens up into a tasty and vigorous free vibe.  Not a keyboard pounder, but these guys get into all sorts of interesting areas here and this record could end up on my best records found this year list.

@@@  Trash Talk: 119 (Odd Future, 2012).  From the CFUV weekly email. I’m a bit shocked you can actually hear what the singer is yelling about.  I dig that.  The production is metal tight and right, but not the epic cheesiness found on some metal records.  Lyrics and production point to a healthy amount of hardcore punk influence — denunciation of liars and thieves, self loathing, and the general shit nature of the world.  These guys bring it with a punk muscularity that is good for the youth of America.

@@@ Amy Denio: Never Too Old to Pop a Hole (Self-released, 2007).  A member of the all saxophone group the Tiptons, this cassette to digital release is pretty out there.  This is some pretty out there lo-fi madness — toy piano, atypical vocal melodies that repeat for long periods.  I appreciate the DIY aesthetic and uniqueness of this music.

@@@ J. Roe: 1Chain2Chainz (Diamond Media, 2012).  I’m on the email list for Diamond Media.  I’m always up for a denunciation of millionaire hip hop.  The beats aren’t my favorite style, but I dig that this rapper talks about rappers being responsible to the youth instead of to their own bank accounts.

I like this line:

“And y’all sick of all these fuckin’ facades, everybody poppin’ crystal up in their rides/ Gimme a Bud Light and a red cup and I’m fine, see I’m white and get you hype, it’s like you bumpin’ a line…”

@@@ Bright Light Bright Light: Make Me Believe in Hope (The Blue Team, 2012) European style electro pop with a dramatic male singer and Celine Dion like production.  Sophisticated macaroni and cheese.

@@@ Actress: RIP (Honest Jon’s, 2012).  I like this label and hope that this record on the Guardian 40-21 best of list will pan out for me.  It’s a dreamy, pumping electronic tune on the second track ‘Ascending’.  Beatless and floating.  The third tune ‘Holy Water’ traffics in some panned out wide synth droplets/pellets of sound.  Better than the electro-dreck that inhabits much of this list, but frankly not year end worthy.

Active Music Listening Thursday November 29, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 898
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 526
Not good music: 324
Buys: 30 (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, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Bio Ritmo, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mrs. Medicine, Nico Muhly, Code Orange Kids

@@@ Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop, 2012)  Another indie gem from the Guardian top 40-21.  I think I peeped it earlier in the year.  Solid, but not best of material.  Sort of meaningfully slow and reverbed 1980’s mope rock inspired tuneage.  The female singer has pipes, the material is a bit above average.

@@@ Nite Jewel: One Second of Love (Secretly Canadian, 2012).  Another indie gem from the Guardian top 40-21. More mopey overly dramatic 1980’s inspired music.  I like Beach House better but neither makes my year end list.

@@@ Dexys: One Day I’m Gonna Soar (BMG, 2012) I get just the single ‘She’s Got a Wiggle’ on MOG, so I can only go from that, but I dig the drum sound a whole lot.  It really glues the tune together.  I believe these guys are survivors from Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  The Guardian describes this as confessional music similar to what you would hear at a musical and I concur.  I dig it all right.

@@@ Farrah Abraham: My Teenage Dream Ended (Farrah Abraham, 2012).  Wow, I’m dying on this Guardian list, it’s really not meant for listeners like me.  This is your autotuned pop, with skittering mainstream version of dubstep beats.  There is an interesting chopped up feeling to the record, mainly in the beats and the vocals which are surreal to say the least, but I have no clue how this music ended up on anybody’s year end list.

@@@ Marina and the Diamonds: Electra Heart (Electra, 2012).  Opens up with the sweet and nasty tune Bubblegum Bitch.   Lots of lip licking and popping bubblegum hearts and a rock ‘n roll pose purchased at a shopping mall.  Really just corporate sonic diarrhea.  I’m sure Marina is a nice person but she’s being steered by a bunch of suits into making this music.

@@@ Tribes: Baby (Universal, 2012).  More self-punishment from the Guardian List.  Start with the pain, keep with the pain.  Well, life is strange, this is not nearly as awful as what preceded it.  Simple stripped down rock with some actual spunk to it.  I’m not jumping up and down but at least there’s some energy to this record.  I would rather the cubicle dwellers listen to this kind of music than the electropop/electrorock sewage.

@@@ The Twilight Sad: No One Can Ever Know (FatCat, 2012).  Scottish indie rock and frankly I expect more from non-Americans.  Opens up with the tune Alphabet — big churchy-ass organ with a thick Scottish accent and some serious drama.  The second tune is more classic Euro rock.  Still some pretty serious synth action, but some thump and rock relish and mustard underneath.

Wow, that was a rough day in the listening trenches.

 

Active Music Listening Wednesday November 28, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 891
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 524
Not good music: 319
Buys: 30 (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, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Bio Ritmo, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mrs. Medicine, Nico Muhly, Code Orange Kids

@@@ Code Orange Kids: Love is Love//Return to Dust (Deathwish, 2012).  A piquant hunk of nasty metal shred I found off the Omega mailorder email.  Absolutely blistering awesome bass sound, which for me is a problem with a lot of metal albums.  Not on this record.  The singer is shredding himself but it’s more of a distressed wail than a freaky animal squeal.  The songs have herky jerky parts and all the players are putting out great energy.  Towards the middle of the record there are some breaks from the full on assault with some sections of spaced out stoner-iness — sort of a Mars Volta vibe without the pretension.  This record could make my year end list.

@@@ The Evens: Dis170 (Dischord, 2012)  I found this single after seeing a full release by the Evens on the weekly All Music.  Female singer, quirky Fugazi like guitar lines and a great drummer and drum sound in the first tune Warbly.  The second tune ‘Timothy Wright’ opens up with a more morose male singer, but still working a Fugazi like DC indie rock sound.  It opens up more as the song moves along.  I would like to check out the full new release from these guys.

@@@ Solange: True (Terrible Records, 2012).  As much as I would like to denounce this record fulfilling its destiny on the imprint Terrible Records, I’m too honest.  I’m not jumping up and down, but for pop which is not a genre I love, it’s not nearly terrible.  It’s sunny without being totally cheesy and think of the singer as Madonna-like, except this singer can sing.  I’m grateful for a break from the four on the floor boom bap and the retarded chainsaw synthesizers.

@@@ Atlas Genius: Through the Glass EP (Warner, 2012).  MOG front page, major label indie rock.  Meaning it’s straightforward pop rock marketed as indie, a label that has been serially abused since its inception.  Professionally executed and not very memorable.

@@@ Oneohtrix Point Never: Rifts (Software, 2012) Spacey beatless electronic opens up this record from the AMG New release weekly email.  A lot of slow moving, rolling clouds of mostly metallic flavored sound.  The second tune ‘Behind the Bank’ features more keyboard noodling and the third tune Eyeballs gets into some science fiction outer space delays.  Solid, but a bit of a mix.

@@@ Kate Earl: Stronger (Downtown, 2012).  More from the All Music weekly email.  Think of a musical lovechild between a slightly stoned Tom Petty and Norah Jones.  Upbeat and hopeful coffee shop folk music with a healthy dollop of old school pop.

Active Music Listening Tuesday November 27, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 885
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 521
Not good music: 317
Buys: 29 (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), Bio Ritmo, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mrs. Medicine, Nico Muhly.

@@@ Mayhem & Jerz – Fooled Ya Feat. Revalation Of EMS & Joey B.  I’m on the mailing list of various underground hip hop dudes, which is great as there is some great music bubblin’ up from there.  Verbal flow on the mic is very quick on top of production with real bounce and a tasty bass line.  The female vocal hook gives the track a classic feel while the beats/bass give it more updated sound.

@@@ Godspeed You Black Emperor: Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation, 2012).  #40 on the Guardian’s top 2012 list.  This record is not up on my streaming service so the only view I can take is based on the 20-minute monster shot offered below via SoundCloud.  It’s a noisy track by a veteran bands that whips the tune into some very epic spots.  While it doesn’t quite take me to that special place I can see this music working for a lot of folks.

@@@ Rafiq Bhatia: Yes It Will (Rest Assured, 2012).  I caught this record via the weeky newsletter from my distributor, NAIL, in Portland Oregon.  It’s a downtempo ambient lounge record by a young guitar player.  The record is not centered around the guitar — the production is the main thing here as far as I can tell.  It has a dash of prog and New Age music, so it’s quite a blend of influences.  Interesting but a bit restrained for my taste.

@@@ Killer Mike: RAP Music (Williams Street, 2012). #39 on the Guardian best of 2012.  I don’t like this style of hip hop.  I’m all right with a touch of gangsta, but the relentless gun, anti-women bullshit of the opening tune ‘Big Beast’ is tiring.  The second tune ‘Untitled’ takes it back to a funkier, less dickhead place — the chorus is excellent.  The third tune ‘Go!’ is back to the shit I don’t like so it’s a big old mixed bag on this one.

@@@ Annie Lou: Grandma’s Rule for Drinking (Self-released, 2012)  I caught this self-released folk recording from the CFUV weekly playlist email.  Instrumentation is centered around fiddle, banjo, and the female singer, who I will refer to as Annie Lou.  The playing is traditional string band, the lyrics are straightforward with some wryness and humor tossed in.

@@@ Alicia Keys: Brand New Me (RCA, 2012).  Out today and I must take this opportunity to state that Alicia Keys has to be one of the top 10 overrated stars in today’s music business.  A great voice, but she oversings.  High on the drama and too low on the funk.  Her songwriting is mostly rooted in cliches — I really don’t get the extraordinary respect shown to her.  Production on the record is top notch, but it can’t liven up what I consider to be an average, nay pedestrian, set of tunes.

Active Music Listening Monday November 26, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 879
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 518
Not good music: 314
Buys: 29 (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), Bio Ritmo, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mrs. Medicine, Nico Muhly.

@@@ Nico Muhly: Drones & Piano (Bedroom Community, 2012).  This is the best music I’ve heard today.  I found it on the All Music weekly email, and I must say I’m more than a little shocked to find a challenging record like this on that email.  This is a modern classical piano record with drones.  I thought the drones (not the flying killing robots) would feature more prominently in the record, but I’m not disappointed as they’ve been put together very tastefully.  It’s spacious, mostly minimalist and engaging.  This bad boy might make it onto my best of 2012 year end list.

@@@ Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Here We Rest (Lightning Rod, 2011).  I’ve checked out Mr. Isbell’s music before and have enjoyed it.  I caught this record on last week’s AMG weekly email.  The music is sort of a poetic Southern rock, with rocking combined with a slower Southern white soul.  I like it all right, he’s a skilled singer and arranger.  I wish it was a bit looser, but that’s not how he rolls.

@@@ Rita: My Joys (RISH Productions, 2012).  I found this record via the WRIR weekly music review list.  Rita is of Iranian descent and a one name star in Israel.  I don’t hate all things Iranian so I will give the record a spin.  Her music is very dramatic, big string flourishes, Middle Eastern beats of all flavors with a touch of Western music with some electric guitar wail and an occasional power chord.  High energy and very well produced.

@@@ Erin Shewell: Children At Play (Rewbie, 2012).  I caught this singer-songwriter record off the weekly All About Jazz gig email.  If you’re looking for stripped down 2 acoustic guitar blues versions of Al Green and Beatles tunes (to name a few), this record will work for you.

@@@ Frederika Krier Quartett: Devoted (Self-released, 2010).  I found violinist Krier on the same weekly jazz gig email.  Opening up this violin/guitar/bass/drums record with a tune ‘Terror’ featuring angular violin lines and a chorused/phase-y guitar.  Often they play in unisonThe sound of the record is fusion-y, the energy level is mostly high.  Check it out.

@@@ Roly Porter: Empty Set — Demiurge Variations (Subtext, 2012).  A dark, aggro flavor of ambient electronic.  Metallic sounds and slashing synthesizers with burst of in your face exploding rhythms topped off with a dash of Hollywood movie soundtrack drama thrown in.  I listened to part of his 2011 record Aftertime and it wasn’t quite as punishing but it was pretty dark.  Check it out.  I found this guy via the Aquarius Records weekly email — he is one of the records of the week.

Updates to Best of 2012

Erin Costelo: We Can Get Over (Self-released, 2012).  I found this record off a Canadian radio station.  A soul record from a Halifax woman — makes Adele sound pretentious and makes Sharon Jones’ lack of sweetness very apparent.  The tunes are more early ’60s soul influenced rather than late ’60s/early ’70s soul influenced.  She sings her ass off, the arrangments are tight and hip and the record sounds really good.

And I’m giving her respect for putting out a super high quality record herself.

This is great music for cubicle dwellers that don’t look for a lot of music but want something high quality.

Active Music Listening Wednesday November 21, 2012

YTD recordings listened to: 874
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 514
Not good music: 312
Buys: 28 (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), Bio Ritmo, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Erin Costelo, Mrs. Medicine

@@@ Mrs. Medicine: Strange Heaven (Swami, 2012).  I got to this recording from the Aquarius Records weekly email.  This is what I think indie music is supposed to be — rockin’, quirky, and a combining of influences into something weird and cool.  This record is a little surfy, noisy, with some ’60s pop songwriting thrown in.  These guys have it going on.  I would say this record will end up on my best of 2012 list.

@@@ Philip Phillips: The World From the Side of the Moon (19 Recordings/Interscope).  Dave Matthews without the violin or the big jams and a bit more cheese sauce.

@@@ Kid Rock: Rebel Soul (Top Dog/Atlantic, 2012)  I appreciate that Kid Rock could give a shit about genres — he pulls from rock, funk, redneck music, all the shit he digs.  That said Mr. Rock manages to latch onto just about every music cliche he can lay his hands on.  There’s no freak up in here, it’s strictly business, but as he’s an aspiring Republican son of a car salesman there’s no surprise to that.

I think the cat is gonna end up being Mayor of Detroit.  That’s the vibe I’m getting.

@@@ Kindness: World, You Need a Change of Mind (Casablanca, 2012).  Soft, lounge-y dance-floor-tronica with an ambient sound.  Mellow male vocalist.  As luscious as fresh melon on a misty summer morning.