Active Music Listening Monday March 31, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 205
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 139
Not good music: 59

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, 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, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies, The Chewers

After a two week hiatus due to a voluntary bandwidth reduction, the listening resumes!

@@@ Phox: Live at the iTunes festival (Self-released, 2014).  I saw these guys name checked on Salon and on an NPR Google search so it’s clear these guys have a highly effective publicist.  On Salon, they were described as a combination of indie and soul, but thus far I’m hearing more indie and soft rock in this live recording.  There are horns, but you don’t have that strong, pushing/swinging rhythm one would associate with great soul music.  There’s a band that these guys definitely sound like, and it’s not Dusty Springfield or Aretha Franklin.

@@@ Paul St. Hilaire: Nah In It (Jahtari, 2014)  I saw a collaboration between this musician and another named Deadbeat on the Aquarius Records record of the week email.  Electronic beats, some very thick low end and a gravelly dancehall voice on the first track of this EP Nah In It.  I don’t usually go for the electronic dub but this is pretty hot.  I’m almost finished with this four song EP and to my ears the first tune is the best and the second and third tracks didn’t really move me.

@@@ The Skints: Out My Mind (Bomber Records, 2014).  Some breezy mid tempo roots reggae from the WRIR weekly email.  Dancehall toasting vocals with some intricate background vocals — I’m thinking these guys are from the UK — there’s a certain pop sensibility mixed in with the rhythms.  Just one tune on me Beats store so I only get a peep show and not the full monty.

@@@ Liars: Mess (Mute, 2014).  Off the AllMusic weekly email.  It’s trendy indie electronic music — synth heavy songs with verses and choruses.  The singer has a slight Iggy Pop low slur to it and I don’t find the beats to have much funk to them.

@@@ Howler: World of Joy (Rough Trade, 2014).  Some slightly rough indie rock/punk fuzz off the All Music weekly email.  A classic pairing of shiny arpeggiated guitar parts with the distorted power chords.  Some very familiar riffs in the first tune, Al’s Corral.  Shades of the mostly mediocre Strokes, a bit of Billy Idol, and the poppier work of the Lemonheads.  I coulda used a bit more innovation and a bit less of the recycling I hear here.

 

Changes to the possibles list

I have a lot of records that I keep in the possibles category that is basically a backlog to listen to but which has built up a bit over time as my daily listening surpasses my circle back and listen more listening time. So here are some changes:

Andrew Cedermark: Home Life (Underwater Peoples, 2013).  I think the guitar work and the guitar sounds are pretty top shelf but I wished I liked Cedermark’s voice more.  It’s too slack and low energy for me.  He sounds a lot like the lead singer of the Meat Puppets but the Puppets have a much higher energy level as a band so it works better for them. Maybe you will dig it, so I give his record a shout.

 

Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure: Sahara Spirit (Abdoul Records, 2012). I’m friends with a musician who loves Toure and who doesn’t want to support self-released African records. There are sections where he’s playing some really tricked out guitar and singing along with the melody he’s playing and that’s deep.  I didn’t love the guitar tone and overall I wanted his music to be presented a bit differently.

 

Cryptopsy: Cryptopsy (Earhertz, 2012).  I haven’t had a chance to circle back on this extreme metal band out of Canada.  The star here, for me, is the drummer.  Spraying unexpected beats, sick with the double kick, turning on a dime — it’s just nuts the precision and energy level.  The singer sounds like a pig getting its throat cut — they’re an extreme band and the vocalist is extreme.  I can’t really get with this singing style, I wince when I hear it.  But the musical acrobatics are sick.

 

Brother Ali: Mourning in America (Rhymesayers, 2012)  I love concious hip hop and Ali is extremely concious and political.  I actually googled around to see what other peole had to say about Ali and the word corny came up.  I wouldn’t put it that way, but there’s just a little too much uplifting and not enough edge to his politics.  Part of it’s the tone of his voice, part of it’s the arrangements which I wanted to hit harder.

Active Music Listening Thursday March 13, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 200
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 136
Not good music: 57

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, 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, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies, The Chewers

@@@ Insect Surfers: Infra Green (Marlin Records, 2013)  Off a fundraising benefit email from the fabulous radio station KFJC out in thirsty California.  These guys are a hot surf indie band with a smoking bass player and a classic single coil guitar sound.   Very interesting and tasty arrangements to the songs — it’s not straight surf as the first tune has a sort of metal shreddy section and there are some twists and turns to this tune.  The drummer is as talented as the other two so this is quite the talented surf trio — I don’t usually go in for this kind of music but these guys keep things sharp and interesting.  Check them out.

Some tasty old school CD Baby snippets here.

@@@ Ambrose Akinmusire: The Imagined Saviour is Hard to Paint (Blue Note, 2013) Some fairly out trumpet jazz off the All Music weekly email.  I liked the sparseness of the trinkling piano and trumpet work on the opening tune, while things get straighter but not super straighter in the second tune, As We Fight.  Akinmusire can surely rip on the trumpet.  When things appear to heat up too much there’s a lid put on and the band simmers down again so the record flirts with fire without jumping in.

I can not find a single crumb to offer up to my faithful readers/listeners.  Not a Youtube biscuit, nor a Soundcloud tasty cake, nor a NPR intended demographic stream.  Oh well, Blue Note sucks.

@@@ Tensnake: Love Sublime (Astralwerks, 2014).  I guess these guys slept with Madonna’s 1980’s dance producer too.  

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@@@ The Shrine: Bless Off (Tee Pee Records, 2014).  Some self-described punk metal off the All Music weekly email.  A fitty/fitty split between classic punk sounds and heavy metal riffs and stylistics.  Some guitar shredding, but mostly punk bashing out of the drums and a old school metal singer — like that douche in KISS.  Pretty retro and pretty good.

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Active Music Listening Wednesday March 12, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 196
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 133
Not good music: 56

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, 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, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies, The Chewers.

@@@ Hammercult: Steelcrusher (Sonic Attack, 2014) Off the weekly metal mailorder I get.  With titles like Hymn to the Steel and the title track Steelcrusher, we’re in for a heavy metal celebration.  You’re classic metal/combo — a piquant blend of guitar ka-chunk and melodic shreddiness, the singer sounds like a hopped up iguana.  Very reptilian and throat smashed.  Also some very nice chanted background vocals reminiscent of ’80s hardcore.  From the comments of the Youtube video these guys are from Israel — an interesting factoid and I think somebody might be putting crank in their tour bus couscous.  These guys are thrashing very hard.  This is the best thing I heard today.

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@@@ Ledisi: The Truth (Verve, 2014) A r&b singer more rooted in the late ’70s/early ’80s funk soul than most new r&b records.  I saw this record listed on the All Music weekly email, by the way.   Hints of Michael Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire (without the Horns), and the Gap Band.  Production level is high, but it’s not completely slick and teched out sounding, and I appreciate that.

@@@ Dean Wareham: Dean Wareham (Double Feature, 2014).  Off the All Music weekly email, the record opens up with a shiny, medium melancholic tune, The Dance Disappears.  There’s a healthy slatering of reverb on Wareham’s soft, mostly detached sounding voice which lends a trippy folk/psych vibe to a standard guitar indie band behind him.   Think of Leonard Cohen blenderized with The Feelies.  I really liked the third tune, Heartless People.

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@@@  Slowly Rolling Camera: Slowly Rolling Camera (Edition Records, 2014).  Switching gears we check out some ambient straight/fusion jazz record with elements of drum ‘n bass I saw listed on the London jazz blog.  High levels of lounge smoothness with production values that borrow from various genres.  Some snarly rock guitar, some big straight jazz sounding upright bass, and a smooth jazz/lounge singer.

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Active Music Listening Tuesday March 11, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 192
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 129
Not good music: 56

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, 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, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies, The Chewers.

@@@ The Chewers: Chuckle Change and Also (Cimmerian Shade Recordings, 2014).  I was contacted by these self-labelled freaks from West Virginia to check out this record.  And while I get contacted by musicians who think of themselves as out and on the fringe, these guys are the real deal while still being connected to a freak tradition that came before them — Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, and the Minutemen to name a few.  It has the angular weirdness of Beefheart, the fried blues flow of Tom Waits and the guitar sound and short song lengths are reminiscent of the Minutemen.  Unlike Beefheart, the lyrics are rooted in reality, often a non-yuppie, white trash, backwoods population.  Not exclusively but that’s what stuck with me.  The great thing about the intertubes is that I don’t have to go on and on, you can check them for yourself.  I listened to half of the 22 tunes and it doesn’t look like it’s going to fade into a piece of shit, but I will return to this record when I have more time and decide whether it’s an honorable mention record or a best of year record.

@@@ Aloe Blacc: Lift Your Spirit (Interscope, 2014).  One of the main releases on the All Music weekly email.  One of my main points regarding the deceptive practices/incompetence of the music business is their unwillingness to label their releases in the correct genre.  Slotted as retro-soul in the All Music weekly email, this is far from retro soul.  It’s super slicked out modern nu r&b with a smattering of modern gospel music.  But retro soul is popular and hip while nu r&b with modern gospel tinges is far from hip.  I should change gospel tinges to gospel influences — there’s a gospel choir on the first tune.  And there are an absolute ton of tracks on this first track and yer retro soul tends to be much more stripped down.  It’s not full bore cheese, but it has cheese sauce.

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@@@ Elbow: The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Concord, 2014).  I’ve listened to the Elbow before and thought I would return.  Plus I like the record title.  The first phrase comes out with that big Brit rock epic poetry vibe.  Think Coldplay but with some talent.  I will never bypass the opportunity to shit on Coldplay.  I fucking can’t stand Coldplay.  This may not be the Elbow I need — it sounds a bit up its own ass.  Let me peep a couple of the later tunes.  At least the second tune has a drummer and it sounds more like a band than an orchestra.  I could use a jigger of quirk up in this bitch.  I would recommend that folks bypass this Elbow, unless they’re up for the epic cheese wedge flying across the sky.

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Active Music Listening Monday March 10, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 186
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 124
Not good music: 55

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, 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, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies

@@@ Black Masala: Black Masala (Self-released, 2014).  Some partyistic Eastern European music I saw listed on the WRIR weekly playlist email.  The record seems less devoted to a particular style and more devoted to a party bounce.  There’s a bit of funk, some swingin’ horns, Eastern European melodies, hints of ska/dancehall, all mashed up together.  Male and female singers and the horns caught my ear the most.

@@@ Kerry Wallace: Songs to Sing and Tales to Tell (Kerry Wallace, 2013) An acoustic country record I got to via an online PR site called MusicSubmit.  Lots of mid to slow tempo acoustic guitar playing and sweet melancholic singing.  Very melancholic and strong Emmylou Harris influences in the fourth tune, Pilgrim.  That’s the best track of what I checked out.

Some bite sized samples over here at CD Baby.

@@@ Axxa/Abraxas: Axxa/Abraxas (Captured Tracks, 2014).  A semi-psych/indie effort I found on the All Music weekly email.  Nice rhythm section sound, some phase type effect on the vocal and the chimey, throwback arpeggiated guitars.  I like what these guys are doing — I don’t sense any great spark to it, but it’s very solid.  There’s a lot of this psych indie floating around right now which helps to dampen my excitement.

@@@ Ashanti: Braveheart (eOne, 2014) Some epic r&b I found on the All Music weekly email.  The intro is an inward looking nugget of self-help cheese/New Age cheerleading.  Myriad references to betrayals, overcoming, and being brave. Slick beats, electro club synth droplets/chainsaw patches, and lots of ooh aahh singing with ample backing vocals.  I like second tune, No Where, better than the title track but this doesn’t really work for me.

Active Music Listening Saturday March 8, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 182
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 121
Not good music: 54

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, 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, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies

@@@ Doomriders: Grand Blood (Deathwish, 2013).  Off the CFUV weekly email, and the first tune is a blend of post-rock, punk, and metal.  The singer is pissed as you would expect but he’s intelligible.  The record starts heating up with the fourth tune, Grand Blood, which is the title track — a tasty shuffle beat and some righteous rolling guitar distortion.  We’re actually seeing some white boy swinging in the fifth tune, Bad Vibes.  I like this record a bit less than a couple of other Deathwish releases I checked out last year.

@@@ Steve Dawson: I Will Miss the Trumpets and the Drums (Kernel, 2013).  I found this roots music artist on the CFUV weekly email.  It’s an interesting blend of roots rock/soft rock/hippie rock with stacked vocals that smooth it out even more.  The word for this records is sweetness — not served with a heaping teaspoon of cheese but smooth and sweet.  Breezy, late ’70s feeling rock which I don’t usually go for but this record does a good job with it.

@@@ Bike for Three!: So Much Forever (Fake Four, 2014).  Some hip hop off the CFUV weekly email.  The first tune is MC free, and the second tune is more of a futuristic, lounge-y trip hop kind of tune with a pretty square rapper.  I don’t think I love the rapper’s flow and the sci-fi arrangements.  Check it out for yourselves.