Music for 12/12/19!!! Better Oblivion Community Center, Jaime Branch, Cate Le Bon

@@@ Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center (Dead Oceans, 2019) Today’s listens come from Slate’s best of 2019 list.  This is a collaboration between Conor Oberst and a woman from Boygenius.  I don’t follow indie music closely enough to remember everybody’s name but I’ve seen Boygenius namechecked all over the interwebz.  The first tune, Didn’t Know What I Was in For, is a faded, slack tune — I’m not sure what the song is about lyrically but the sounds surely are downer-ish.  It might be best left unspecified.  The second tune is a full band number which maintains the mope and it is reminiscent of Pavement but not as disjointed and sweeter.  I guess the main thing for my ears is I don’t have much love for the indie aesthetic regardless of how well it’s executed.  This is toppish shelf indie but I find it bo-ring.  I know hipsters will recoil in horror but there’s not a lot of freshness in here and the strum along most notable track, Dylan Thomas, is even less interesting.

@@@ Jaime Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (International Anthem, 2019)  I’m a tad shocked and a bit psyched to see a free jazz record make it to Slate’s top records of 2019.  America is mad conservative aesthetically and there’s not much love for the free playing up here in this house of flirting fascists.   I’m on the second track of the record and my general impression is that this is more of a blues jazz record than a free jazz record.  I say that without aspiring to be a genre bitch.  I like it as it is but I would have to hear more free jazz-like music to call it free jazz.  While I like the vocalizing here the singing does push this in the direction of an album with songs.  Over the course of the 11+ minute centerpiece second track Prayer for Amerikka Pts 1&2 it does come more unhinged.  I like the combination of jazz sounds and electronic sounds in the fourth track but I find Kelly Moran’s record Ultraviolet to be a more compelling mash of acoustic and electronic.  I like this record, I wouldn’t put it on my year end list but I like it.

@@@ Cate Le Bon: Reward (Kemado, 2019)  Opening the record with a tune called ‘Miami’ Le Bon sings meaningfully over a synth-centric orchestral arrangement.  I skipped to the second song which brings in a drummer while relegating the synths to a lesser role.  It’s most definitely sonically inspired by 1980’s synth rock.  Her singing is good but it’s a tad precious and artful.  I find it low on energy though this is a central ingredient to post-Wilco indie music.  I’m not a huge fan, it’s too slack for me ear.  I know I’m in the minority on this but I’m a bit shocked this record made it onto a year end list.

YTD recordings listened to: 647
Good music, not list worthy: 390
Not good music: 219

Best: 8
Honorable Mentions: 15

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Horndal, Wyxz, Tarek Atoui, Hawktail, Saicobab, Shannon and the Clams, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Emma Louise, Mariachi El Bronx, Pour Me a Grog, Sudan Archives, Lakou Mizik

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