Active Music Listening Friday June 21, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 462
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 294
Not good music: 132

Honorable Mentions: 11
Buys: 13

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Inzinzac, Afrolicious, Maurizio Minardi, Della Mae, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Joseph Arthur, Melt Yourself Down, Zomby

@@@ Zomby: With Love (4AD, 2013).  Off the All Music weekly email.  I wasn’t expecting much as I haven’t heard anything from 4AD in a long time except a steady stream of pop-tronica.  This is electronica, but it’s heavier and more abstract — trippy as shit with stuttering beats and an off kilter chopped feel to it.  This is pretty hot, I think I’m gonna have to bump this to the top of the list for today’s listening and take a closer listen when I have more time.

@@@ Mac Miller: Watching Movies with the Sound Off (Rostrum Records, 2013).  This record is up on the MOG new release page.  Part left field, part blunted funk this first tune, The Star Room, is pretty tasty.  I dig the arrangements more than I dig the rhymes.  Real nice syrupy tempo twistin’ and crusty sub bass keyboard bass lines.  After four or five tunes I’ll upgrade the rhymes — he’s caught my ear a few times and S.D.S. (Somebody Do Something) is a clever title.

@@@ Kris Berry: King of Me (Kanaga System Krush Records, 2013).  I caught this record over here at Splinters and Candy.  He’s doing a genre hybrid thing in combining his thumb piano skills with a drum kit, percussion and some reggae/Caribbean inspired (no guitar) tunes and a Salif Keita wailing vocal style.  It’s interesting how similar the thumb piano sounds to a steel drum sound.  Check it out for yourself.  Solid B from me.

Active Music Listening Thursday June 20, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 459
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 292
Not good music: 132

Honorable Mentions: 11
Buys: 13

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Inzinzac, Afrolicious, Maurizio Minardi, Della Mae, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Joseph Arthur, Melt Yourself Down

@@@ Melt Yourself Down: Melt Yourself Down (The Leaf Label, 2013). I saw a review for this record over at the Quietus.  It’s a super uptempo freak rock record with medium heavy jazz influences as well as world music.  The vocals are pretty minimal, partyistic exhortations rather than lyrics, and the energy is super super high.  The drummer stands out for driving the bus here and that with the cheerleader vocals really pushes this record forward.  I can’t really tell if it’s a dirty ass saxophone driving the melody or a synthesizer saxophone patch — it really doesn’t matter that much.  It’s dirty, and freaky and bouncin’ around.  As much as I love Sigur Ros, I think this is the best thing I heard all day.

@@@ Sigur Ros: Kveikur (XL, 2013).  I’m a huge Sigur Ros fan, I really respect how unique these guys are.  They are studio pros and really can put together a soundscape with the best of them.  That said, the marketing for this record used the word darker, which I get, but I also think there are moments where they’re trying to be more conventional.  I’m listening to the fourth tune and there’s a club beat tucked in there — I can’t remembering hearing stuff like that before.  I like it, not as much as other Sigur Ros records I’ve heard, but they do something unique.

@@@ Laura Mvula: Sing to the Moon (RCA, 2013).  Off the CFUV weekly playlist email.  This is some high production r&b/soul with a hint of New Age.  This is not your ‘dirty’ Daptone shit, this is your brunch sould.  Mvula can sing and you get to hear it as there are just tons of vocal tracks stacked up on the opener.  I like the sophisticated old school arrangement style.  It’s got artistic aspirations, but I don’t love all the sonic choices.

@@@ The Uncluded: Hokey Fright (Rhymesayers, 2013).  Some left field hip hop I got to via the CFUV weekly playlist email.  It’s got two rappers — one sounds like a traditional American male rapper, and the other sounds like a Caucasion woman.  The arrangements are also split in the same way — elements of indie rock and a wee bit of an old school punk rock aesthetic.  It’s an interesting combination of influences.  I’m not sure I know what to think about it.

Active Music Listening Wednesday June 19, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 455
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 289
Not good music: 132

Honorable Mentions: 11
Buys: 13

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Inzinzac, Afrolicious, Maurizio Minardi, Della Mae, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Joseph Arthur

@@@ Kanye West: Yeezus (Def Jam, 2013).  I can only offer up some interesting observations regarding this record, as I’m so prejudiced against the media whore that is Kanye West.  It’s interesting how little hip hop is to be found on this record.  He raps, but after that it’s almost all electro.  I’m surprised what an average rapper this guy is.  His flow is not very sophisticated and he traffics in a lot of cliches.  I think the entirety of West’s career is based on his ability to generate spectacle.  It’s just a giant, cheesy spectacle.  I was tired of this self-absorbed nonsense by the first chorus of ‘I am a God’.

@@@ Austra: Olympia (Domino, 2013).  Off the MOG new release page. Euro-pop-tronica.  A waif-y female voice with more than a hit of yodel in it.  Backing is minimal, stripped down club beats, pulsating synthesizer bass lines and some classic kick drum sounds.  Pretty standard stuff.

Active Music Listening Tuesday June 18, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 453
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 289
Not good music: 130

Honorable Mentions: 11
Buys: 13

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Inzinzac, Afrolicious, Maurizio Minardi, Della Mae, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Joseph Arthur

@@@ Quasimoto: Yessir, Whatever (Stones Throw, 2013).  Off kilter, old school left field hip hop.  Funky beats with no electro/club influence.  Some monster bass lines occasionally lurking and mostly low key, high quality rapping.  This is not a remake of a De La Soul record, but it’s similar.

@@@ Stephen Kellogg: Blunderstone Rookery (Elm City, 2013)  Slotted as folk in my MOG store it does do some foot stompin’/rockin’ on the second tune ‘The Brain is a Beautiful Thing’.  There are hints of James Taylor, Tom Petty, the Band in here.  It’s well executed, but the temperature of the set is lukewarm and I like it hot, hot, hot.

@@@ J. Cole: Born Sinner (Roc Nation/Columbia, 2013). A whole nother rap record.  Gone is the bohemian blunted-ness of the Quasimoto record a potty mouth braggart/striver on this disc.  Funky beats, but much more uptempo with a larger synthesizer component in the arrangements.  I’m really appreciating the Quasimoto record much more at this time.  Night and day.  Cole can rap and it’s not as foul as other hip hop records I’ve heard, I just don’t find it very interesting.

@@@ Light Heat: Light Heat (Ribbon Music, 2013).  I caught this record via a publicist email.  When you click through to the New York Times they’re streaming the record, with no review and no prose.  A skeptical, anti-PR person like myself might conclude the New York Times is renting out their logo for money to a band/label to generate credibility for the band.

What else am I to conclude?

The music is good.  Not jump and down material by any means.  A bit of garage, a bit of psych, a lot of indie, some pop melodies, and a tad of shoegaze.

You can stream over here at the Grey Lady/New York Times.

Active Music Listening Monday June 17, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 449
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 287
Not good music: 128

Honorable Mentions: 11
Buys: 13

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Inzinzac, Afrolicious, Maurizio Minardi, Della Mae, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Joseph Arthur

@@@  Lizabett Russo: EP (Self-released, 2013).  I was contacted by this artist to listen to her debut recording.  This three song EP is a mainstream adult alternative recording and to my ear Russo’s voice is a blend of Norah Jones, Bjork, and the singer from the Cranberries with a bit of warble thrown in.  The instrumentation is basic adult alternative drums, bass, acoustic guitars, etc.  The songs are upbeat and hopeful.  Check it out for yourself.

@@@  John Vanderslice: Dagger Beach (Dead Oceans, 2013).  Off the MOG new release page, Vanderslice is a musician/studio operator out in the Bay area.  His studio chops are advanced and his songs are packed with all manner of sonic goodies as well as high quality tones.  The songs on this record are quirky and off-kilter with a dash of mope thrown in.  One wouldn’t expect a record called Dagger Beach to be a real pick-me-up.  I balance the exquisite sonics of this record against my inability to connect with these types of songs.  A more than solid effort and if you’re into this vibe, it’s a home run.

@@@ Black Sabbath: 13 (Republic Records, 2013).   Huge fan of the tune War Pigs, and all time classic, so I was hesitant to listen to this as the odds on these older bands coming closing to previous musical efforts is very low.  Pleasantly surprised at least in the beginning.  I expected some sort of meandering Ozzie drool fest, but the songs and playing are tight and not cheesy.  Not best of year list worthy, but definitely not OMG, I can’t believe they released that.

@@@ Dirty Beaches: Drifters/Love is the Devil (Zoo Music, 2013).  #1 on last week’s CFUV weekly playlist.  A garage-y, lo-fi funky affair.  The first tune, Night Walk, doesn’t appear to be much more than a rotating vibe, but the second tune, I Dream in Neon, sounds more like a song with some blues organ/guitar?? (can’t tell).  I don’t think I’m hip enough for this music.

 

 

Best of 2013 Pick 13

Bob Gluck Trio: Returning (FMR, 2011).

I found this record late last year via the All About Jazz weekly email and I have been streaming the shit out of it.

I strongly dislike much of the language used to describe jazz and whatever concepts (or not) a particular set of musicians may be rocking, so once I have disavowed the bourgeois fancy pants words, the review is gonna fly right along and hopefully work for you.

This is a piano, bass, and drums record, a classic trio format.  Gluck plays a loose piano and he’s neither based in blues piano jazz nor is he a Cecil Taylor piano basher.  His playing is semi-lyrical, and semi-sweet and really interesting to listen to.  The connection between the musicians is strong and enhances the listening experience.

Michael Bisio, who I know peripherally, is a great sideman for Gluck and the drummer is excellent as well.  Trio jazz records are like basketball teams — everybody has to be great for it to go anywhere.

I really dig this record.  There are no tunes from the record on Youtube, but the record is in my MOG streaming store so it’s gonna be in various nooks and crannies of the intertubes.