2016 Honorable Mention Pick 8

James McMurtry: Complicated Game (Complicated Game, 2016)

This roots record has a lot going for.  It sounds great, the band plays very tastefully, and McMurtry rocks some pretty high end lyrics.  On the down side McMurtry’s voice is gruff and limited, which is fine with me but may not work for others.  When I don’t like the lyrics (for example, the second to last song Long Island Sound) I find the tune a bit tiresome.

The first song is great, probably my favorite on the record.

I like about two thirds to three quarters of the tunes on the record with a preference for the slower songs over the rockers.  I like this one.

And I don’t love track 4 and track 9.  Check him out, it’s rare to see someone putting such an emphasis on the lyrics so I give a lot of respect to that.

 

1/31/16: Charlie Puth, Rolo Tomassi, Lucius

@@@ Charlie Puth: Nine Track Mind (WEA, 2016).  I like to listen to mainstream pop to see what the shopping mall, whitbread mofos are listening to.  I will give props if it’s deserving of props.  Mr. Puth has a very good voice, it’s light and airy, he sounds like Bieber with a well manicured vagina.  He also sounds like he’s about to cream in his jeans.  He’s panting, maybe he’s having a heart attack.  My problem with a lot of this mainstream is not the music — the arrangements are usually well done and polished within an inch of their lives.  It’s the lyrics.  Dumbass, low IQ cliche horseshit, it really immediately severs any connection I might be able to forge with the music.  In this second song, he loves a woman dangerously, more than the air that he breathes.  There’s some sort of explosion caused by the power of his love.  It’s just shit, let’s face it.  My preference would be that the people making these records would spend — wait he just popped the classic.  He is fire and she is gasoline!!!!!   How many fucking times do I have to hear that bullshit line in my life.  I will never give any kind of positive feedback to any ‘artist’ that uses the fire and gasoline metaphor.  Let’s put that back on the shelf — it’s like a field that has been farmed too much, it has no nutritious/emotional grains left in it.  Spend less time on the arrangements and spend a little more time with the pad of paper and the lyrics.

@@@ Rolo Tomassi: Grievances (Ipecac, 2015)  Some math-core that I saw listed over here on a top 100 of 2015 list over here.  The first tune, Estranged has a super energetic opening section that simmers down into a uptempo but more chill groggy section.  I anticipate that the crush will reappear.  I like the singer, he’s got a nice end-of-his-rope tone to his voice.  The arrangement is herky jerky with some thrash, post-rock, a tad of prog, and even a little shoe gaze flavoring.  Halfway through the second song, a proggy arpeggiated synth makes its appearance so it looks like this record is beholden to no genre.

@@@ Luctus: The Dawn Ov the Eclipsed Desperation (Inferna Profundus, 2015).  Some epic doom metal I got to via my weekly heavy metal mail-order email.  After a big slow guitar shred, the orc singer has appeared in the middle of threedled-thrash section.  The drummer is working hard here folks, pop a quarter so he can keep scoring meth.  For the most part it’s all long tunes on this record so the orc and the drummer really get a workout in each tune.  The guitar tones are buzzy, the double kick and the tom fills are flying and there are hints of both hardcore and prog up in here.  Hints, not full on.

YTD recordings listened to: 103
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 59
Not good music: 39

Honorable Mentions: 3
Buys: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Reverend Peyton, Living Hell, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta

1/30/16: Saul Williams, Andy Metz, Kyle Alfred Hillig

@@@ Saul Williams: MartyrLoserKing (Fader, 2016).  I have to check out some black music after the two Wonderbread releases below.  I have enjoyed Saul Williams music before and I thought The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust was an awesome album title.  This first tune Groundwork sounds like a poetry Slam/Nine Inch Nails ago-synth rock mash.  The second tune sports a classical piano loop as its central sound with some terse rhymes and then some sic-fi vocal arrangements.  The lyrics in this second tune are either surreal/abstract or I don’t understand.  The third tune returns to that aggro-spoken word mood of the opener and the mood is dark.  I’m pretty sure this third tune is about police killing black men and the music and mood matches the topic.

@@@ Andy Metz: Delusions (Self-released, 2016)  More folk/ soft rock/adult alternative I got to via a music publicist out of Chicago.  Metz has a pleasant, slightly slack voice and his band has plenty of bounce.  This is not ironic hipster indie, it’s pretty straightforward, sometimes tongue in cheek, sometimes earnest.

http://andymetz.bandcamp.com/album/delusions

@@@ Kyle Alfred Hillig: To Be Good (N/A, 2016)  I got to this single via a music publicist email and the single is free to download for the next two weeks.  It is coffeehouse rock with medium rocking, a shuffling drum beat, chill organ and slide guitar.  I like Hillig’s voice a whole bunch.

http://kyealfredhillig.bandcamp.com/track/to-be-good-2

YTD recordings listened to: 100
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 57
Not good music: 38

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Reverend Peyton, James McMurtry, Living Hell, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta

1/29/16: Jordan Klassen, The Bernard Lakes, Alex Smoke, Krumm,

@@@ Jordan Klassen: Baby Moses (Nevado, 2016).  Some orchestral indie pop off another music publicist email.  The verse is nice, but the chorus kind of explodes in a New Age money shot.  It’s a bit hard to explain — lest we say he kicks it up a notch in the chorus.  Nice cello part, the vocals are dramatical and well done a nice solo that might be a synth, I think it’s a synth.  More ELO than Sufjan Stevens, whose last record I didn’t shit my pants over but all the hipsters out there think is hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock.

@@@ The Bernard Lakes: A Coliseum Complex Museum (Jagjaguwar, 2016).  It would appear that the indie hipster crowd has discovered Pet Sounds by Brian Wilson.  I got to this record via the All Music weekly email and it opens up with a wide soundstage, a falsetto voice, some electronic garnish, and even a surf-ish guitar twang.  There’s also more than a dollop of self-indulgent ’70 rock in this tune.  Let’s check out a couple more of these bangers.  I thought these guys were British as their music has a certain highbrow regal-ness (word?) but they’re Canadian, which is close (they’re a former colony and still tight).  It’s pretty sophisticated and well executed music, but I don’t like it very much.  Check it out, maybe it’s your bag.

@@@ Alex Smoke: Love over Will (R&S Records, 2016).  Some experimental techno off the All Music weekly notable email.  I usually associate techno with no lyrics or just bits chopped up and recycled but this first song feels like a song with verses and lyrics and shit.  The second tune confirms that there are techno sounds here used in songs.  Electronic kick and pong synth most notably in this second tune.  In the third tune the male vocalist, presumably Mr. Smoke, descends (or ascends) to robot status as he puts a metallic flange on his voice amidst the clouds of synths and slightly chopped beats.  It’s okay, not particularly energetic or powerful to my ears.

@@@ Krumm: Evil Twin (37 Adventures, 2015).  A big beat dance floor banger with a club diva vocal loop, indie hipster vocals, a cheesy synth bass line, and funky beat that will tear it up at a white boy frat kegger.  Half-funky, trying to be funky, honky funky?  Let’s go with that last one.  Got to this via a music publicist email.

YTD recordings listened to: 97
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 55
Not good music: 37

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Reverend Peyton, James McMurtry, Living Hell, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta

1/28/16: Young Greatness, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Applesauce Tears, John Carpenter

@@@ Young Greatness: Moolah (Quality Control/Capitol, 2016).  I hope everybody read about Kanye’s Twitter war with Wiz Kalifa.  Oh man, Imma never gonna meet the Kanye but I’m not upset about it.  This single is off the Apple Music hip hop page and the tune is electro-based hip hop and it really could easily be a love song, but it’s a love song to money.  God bless America.  Mr. Greatness has a bit of a drawl/fat tongue and I can’t hear really clearly what he’s rhyming.  I Duck Duck Go’d the lyrics and it appears Mr. Greatness is involved in the drug trade.  It’s an all right tune, mixing the love song sounds  with lyrics about dealing cocaine is pretty unusual and creative.

@@@ Agoraphobic Nosebleed: Arc EP (Relapse, 2016).  Also off the Apple Music heavy metal section.  That is quite a mouthful for a band name.  Hey, Imma heading out to see agoraphobic nosebleed.  This is mainstream riffy hard rock/metal with a staticky weasel on the mic.  The rhythmic interplay between the drummer and the guitar player is pretty engaging in spots and straightforward riff action in other places.  How to describe this singer’s vocal style?  He actually sounds more like an agitated hardcore vocalist.  They got a syrupy detuned stoner guitar going on this second tune Deathbed.  I dig the drummer and the guitarist and the arrangements and I’m agnostic on the singer.

@@@ Applesauce Tears: Alpha Drift (Applesauce Tears, 2016).  Some proggy electronica I got to via the CFUV weekly email.  Ooh, a few New Age pubes scattered across the soundstage.  This first tune, A Kiss and a Cuddle is just an assload of sweet and gooey and blurping synthesizers with some acoustic guitar shinkle, some slow descending bass melodies and a chill drummer.  A cuddle indeed, a little snoozy too.  The second tune, Her Careful Curls goes for some video game pong synths, reverbed percussion, bird noises and there’s a fat synth right there.  If you like gummy bears you will like this record.

@@@ John Carpenter: Lost Themes (Sacred Bones, 2015).  Also off the CFUV weekly playlist email.  I guess this record is by the horror movie director John Carpenter.  This first tune is a rock/edm mash that is pulsating in a cheesy manner.  Big ringing piano chords, some rock bass, some goat cheese sprinkled on top.  The second tune hews to the same formula — big arena rock guitars, cheesy synths, a rock feel.  It’s a bit of a horror movie listening to this.  Don’t go in the basement, there’s bad music down there!!!!

YTD recordings listened to: 93
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 53
Not good music: 35

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Reverend Peyton, James McMurtry, Living Hell, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta

1/27/16: Junun, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta, La Mambanegra

@@@ Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express: Junun (Nonesuch, 2015)  A friend of mine that is Jewish and married to an Indian woman emailed me about this record as it’s made by a Jew, some Indians and the guitar player from Radiohead.  This first tune works a global groove with some high end horn work.  Now vocals in Hindi, sweet.  I don’t hear much Jew in this first tune I better look this Shye Ben Tzur dude up.  Oh, he’s a Jew all right and these folks might be singing in Hebrew as Ben Tzur is a Qawwali loving Jew.  The second tune takes the drums down a bit and brings the vocals up.  I like this a bunch, I don’t love it, but I like the cultural combination.

@@@ Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta: Dos Santos (Self-released, 2015)  A cumbia outfit out of Chicago that I got to via the weekly WRIR music review email.  They sport a tight rhythm section of trap kit, percussion and electric bass and topped off with a dual guitar attack.  This first tune, Corre Caballo, is energetic and happening.  They also sport a tasty and trippy electric organ that makes its way into the tune about halfway through.  Nice vocal chanting, let’s check out another tune.  When the singer gets on it in this second tune the music starts to hew more closely to a Latin music, but then you get a tasty guitar shred and some organ blasting so they’re interested in putting forth a tight and focused musical energy.  Imm gonna swing back to this record when I have more time as I’ve really dug the first three tunes and I’m pretty sure this record is not going to go soft as it unfolds.  Check these guys out!!!

@@@ La Mambanegra: La Galeria EP (Self-released, 2016).  A 9 piece outfit out of Colombia and this EP is their first international release.  It’s a spacious mix in this first tune with a tight rhythmic section, a Latin stringed instrument, piano, bass and horns.  This is popping, not as street as the record above but full on.  The second tune is funkier than the first — still very Latin big band-y.  I like the record above a bit more but if you’re into the funky/salsa flavor pack these guys could really work for you.

YTD recordings listened to: 89
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 51
Not good music: 33

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Reverend Peyton, James McMurtry, Living Hell, Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta

1/26/16: Aidan Knight, Raury, Wiz Kalifa, Cheap Trick

@@@ Aidan Knight: All Clear (Outside Music, 2016).  A single I saw on the CFUV weekly playlist email.  It’s a just above downtempo slacker, a bit indie and a bit soft rock.  In the verse Knight sounds a little like that giant dude Antony Johnson, who does fragile better than just about everybody.  Some electronic swirly bits for all you hipster kids out there.  He’s building to a New Age kinda rocking climax — I need a moment to gather my feelings and wipe the tears.  Okay, I’m good.

@@@ Raury: Friends (Columbia, 2015).  A tune off the CFUV weekly playlist email.  I’ve heard Raury’s hippie hop/soul before and as Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello plays on this track, I thought I was in for some shred.  But it’s a jazz fusion guitar sound with a big vocal chorus in the chorus.  Raury’s got friends all over the world, he tells you about where all his friends are.  It’s a light flake of a tune but you’re supposed to bask in the sweet hippie fusion sounds.  I’m gonna bask for a minute.  Okay, I’m good.  Tom Morello jazz fusion shredding, oh my!

@@@ Wiz Kalifa: Bake Sale (Atlantic, 2016)  Another weed anthem banger from Wiz Kalifa.  I was gonna call for a Red Bull for Mr. Kalifa but he’s up on the mike with some energy — it’s his fellow MC that needs a jolt.  He’s smoking, he’s making weed brownies, he’s counting his cake/money.  And they’re going to call some hos — dirty Wiz Kalifa.  And they got some gats too!  Oh, the auto speller changed gats to cats.  Classic.  Everybody stand back he’s got a 9mm cat!!!  As I move out of this tune I hope Mr. Kalifa is watching his accountant to make sure he/she is not skimming cake from the Kalifa pile.  We don’t want Mr. Wiz to suffer what MC Hammers got.

@@@ Cheap Trick: No Direction Home (Big Machine, 2016).  Fresh meat from recent Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees.  Great guitar sounds but the vocal stacking and arrangements conceal the lack of a great Cheap Trick vocal hook.  Lots of oh, whoa, hos and call and response.  I got to this from a music publicist email.

YTD recordings listened to: 86
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 49
Not good music: 33

Honorable Mentions: 2
Buys: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Reverend Peyton, James McMurtry, Living Hell