Active Music Listening Fuck Off 2013 edition

YTD recordings listened to: 1002
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 612
Not good music: 321

Honorable Mentions: 21
Buys: 21

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Andrew Cedermark, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, All Pigs Must Die, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Cage the Elephant, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega,  Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery

Due to a late November/early December listening spurt, I got to give my ears a bit of a rest but today we’re going over the 1,000 recording mark.

I know, everybody laughed (at me), and everybody cried (ran out of weed).  By the way, I have no clue how half this blog post bolded out, I’m having profound browser klusterfuck and I really don’t have time to deal with it.

@@@ Drudkh: Microcosmos (Season of Mist, 2009)  Some Ukrainian black metal to take us out of 2013 into 2014.  Oh yeah!  A nice sharp guitar sound and a stringy punk bass vibe and the barking singer.  All the elements are there but with some mainstream rock mixed into the black metal pieces.   The third tune, Sun of Great Nations Sits Down, has a syrupy, stony vibe that revels in the rolling.  Tune in for the guitar distortion and stay for the stomp.

@@@ Tony Braxton and Babyface: Where Did We Go Wrong? (Motown, 2013).  Some breathy falsetto from Babyface and a lower register for Braxton but she sounds like she’s about to cum — same as him.  Accompanied by some tinkling percussion and a shopping mall drum machine beat they get into all manner of space age r&b goo.  You would think experienced singers like this would be able to take a breath without sharing that breath with all the world to hear.  Oy.

@@@ Secret Colours: Peach (Secret Colours, 2013).  I got to this record via a Eastern European music blog I’m familiar with.  Opens up with the tune, Blackbird, which I hear as a blend of dreamy psych elements and Brit rock.  The singer is mad dreamy.  The record sports a variety of tasty guitar sounds, but overall the vibe is a bit soft for my taste.  But if you like the half-psych dreamy rock, have at it.

 

Best of 2013 Pick 22

A Tribe Called Red: Nation II Nation (Tribal Spirit Music, 2013)

It would be easy to latch onto this record as it has a very clear marketing hook — combine electronic music with Native American chanting/singing and sell it to the White Man.

But this really is some moving music, mostly due to the ecstatic chanting of the Native Americans involved.  I was trying to explain one of my sons who asked how can you make music with just a drum.  As I told him in the beginning there was the drum and the voice and that was music.  This drum/vocal record shows how these two fundamental elements can be more than enough.

I find it interesting that electronic music, which tends to sound very detached and non-human is really made more organic by the singing.  I also think it’s very creative that the electronic beats are augmented with hand drums.

Lest you think the ladies get left out, the record really peaks with the tune Sisters with a bouncing electronic arrangement and an all female chant pushing it hard.

I can’t really say enough good about this record.

Active Music Listening Monday December 23, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 999
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 600
Not good music: 307

Honorable Mentions: 21
Buys: 20

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Andrew Cedermark, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, All Pigs Must Die, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Cage the Elephant, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega,  Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery

We are finishing up our 2013 listening party — I’m going to be not taking a full siesta but…  

@@@ Black Deer: Black Deer (Peak Oil, 2013).  Some electronica I found on the Aquarius Records weekly email.  It opens up with a tune called, It’s Like the Way it Used to Be, composed of an oscillating metal synth patch, a sweeter ping pong delayed synth patch and a minimalist four on the floor kick drum.  The second tune, Rambling Rumble Stone uses the same multi-synthesizer attack — one low vibrator, one phased wah wah type, and a keyboard part.  Same minimalist beats — it’s solid but not remarkable to my ears.

@@@ KA: The Night’s Gambit (Iron Works, 2013).  I don’t know why I keep returning to the NPR best of 2013 list but I do.  This is one of their hip hop sections — I like the less than shiny sound of the record, the resonant sound of the kick drum and his urgent but not gangsta flow.  I dig this more than the vast majority of NPR records.  I think I dig the sound of the record more than the rhymes and I like the rhymes.  His non-corporate/unshiny sound is working for me. I would give this a solid B+.

@@@ Lucius: Wildewoman (Mom & Pop, 2013)  Also off the NPR best of list.  If you dig the supersweet indie pop confection you will be absolutely orgasmic over this record.  This is all about the cute vocal arrangements, the Beach Boys throwback bass sound and the lightness.  Oh the lightness!  Can you handle it?  The first tune is better than the second one, which brings the handclaps and the light drizzling of cheese sauce.

Active Music Listening Sunday December 22, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 996
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 597
Not good music: 307

Honorable Mentions: 21
Buys: 20

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Andrew Cedermark, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, All Pigs Must Die, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Cage the Elephant, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega,  Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery

@@@ Jagwar Ma: Howlin’ (Mom and Pop, 2013).  This record made NPR’s best of 2013 as well as getting a MOG editor’s pick.  It’s claim to fame is a blending of psych music and electronic music, which I get as I listen to it.  However it doesn’t have that unsettling, hallucinatory feel that a slammin’ psychedelic tune can have.  It’s happy psychedelic influenced music.  There’s a tripped out guitar in the third tune, The Throw, but this is not a combining of styles, it’s electronic music with light psych influences.

@@@ Elephant Revival: These Changing Skies (Itz Evolving, 2013).  Progressive folk/roots record I found on the NPR overlooked list.  I’m finding the first tune, clipped below, to be very pretty and a bit sleepy.  Now I’m five songs in on this record and the band is one dimensionally focused on prettiness and the record comes off as New Age and kind of shallow.  It’s unfortunate as they’re good players.

Best of 2013 Pick 21

Tal National: Kaani (Fat Cat, 2013).

This African record by a party band from Niger is almost dizzying.  A lot of African music records can have a very manicured and micromanaged sound to them.  While Kaani is a very tight sounding record, there’s an abundance of things to listen to.  It always pushes on the listener.  It’s reminiscent of Extra Golden’s Thank You Very Much that came out a few years ago on Thrill Jockey but with a slightly higher energy level.

The drums sound great, the vocal arrangements are hip, and the record is plainly produced which leaves the listener to focus more closely on the playing, which is unrestrained and awesome.

Check it out.

Active Music Listening Friday December 20, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 994
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 595
Not good music: 307

Honorable Mentions: 21
Buys: 20

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Andrew Cedermark, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, All Pigs Must Die, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Cage the Elephant, Defeater, Tal National, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega,  Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery

@@@ B.o.B.: Underground Luxury (Rebel Rock, 2013).  Opens up with unabashed confession of wanting to consume as much as possible, going so far as to say that’s what we’re here for.  The first tune, All I want, is just a list of all the shit this rapper wants.  Money, money, money!  Straight up fuck this ignorant bitch.

@@@ Frank Wess: Magic 101 (IPO, 2013).  I caught this record on a jazz PR email about it being an NPR best of 2013 record.   It’s an old school straight jazz session with a thick sax tone, piano, bass and drums.  I like Kenny Barron’s piano work on the second tune, The Very Thought of You, and the vibe is mellow for the holidays.

@@@ Sandy Ewen/Damon Smith (Balanced Point Acoustics, 2013).  I saw Mr. Smith’s name on Facebook and clicked through.  You can do that, you should do that.  The recording is an ambient electric, bass (acoustic and electric), and field recording.  Lots of string scraping and crackling and the sound of wind.  It has a sparse beauty to it.  Hopefully smart listeners out there realize that great ambient music can be generated outside of a computer.

@@@ Express Rising: Express Rising (Self-released, 2013).  I saw a music critic on Facebook mention this record here and I always gravitate towards self-released records.  The first tune, Rooms Between Us, is hippie-tronica.  Tambourine, acoustic guitar and a synth drone in the back all done in a sparse, lonely fashion.  It’s pretty and downtempo with echoed guitar and organ added in the second tune, Memorabilia.

@@@ Gorguts: Colored Sands (N/A, 2013).  A death metal record pretty far up on Rolling Stone’s best metal of 2013 list.  The first tune does not seem beholden to any particular metal sub-genre.  There is a battering section with the doublekick, and sort of proggy melodic guitar breaks, some technical sections, and some that sound like mainstream rock.  Very unpredictable within the tune, I like that.  I appreciate the creativity in this record, while I don’t feel like jumping up and down when I hear it playing.  Personal preference so check it out for yourself.