Best of 2016 Pick 14

Changui Majadero: El Changui Majadero (Changui Majadero, 2016)

I have to push up these beautiful old school Latin party music discs while the weather is still warm.  This outfit is rocking a pretty simple formula:  beautiful singing and great playing.

These guys play Cuban music in California.  I particularly love the female singer’s voice, it’s really working for me.  Other than that the drumming is great, the string playing is great and they really sing together with great skill and passion.

Check ’em out.

7/27/16: Magic Giant, Seratones, Animalia, Andy Shauf

@@@ Magic Giant: Magic Giant EP (Magic Giant, 2015).  I saw from a publicist email that these guys have signed on to the Washington Square label so I thought I would peep.  They do a more modern folk roots thing with an uplifting vocalist and lots of yeah yeah vocal harmonies.  It’s like a Death Cab for Cutie/folk lovechild.  This second tune brings the Bon Jovi whoa hos and other sounds I can’t abide by, so adios Magic Giant!

@@@ Seratones: Get Gone (Fat Possum, 2016).  A Southern r&b outfit that owns a whole bunch of Nirvana records.  I got to this band after seeing them on the CFUV weekly playlist email.  I like the singer, she yips and keeps it fresh on the microphone.  Oh mama, this is the kind of shit I can slurp on all day long.  A little hooky, some good muscle, and energy.  I love energy.  Nice sounds thus far — some buzzy bass, solid drum sound but it’s the singer and the guitarist that really hit it out of the park.  Imma swing back on this one but I suggest folks break off a piece of these guys.

@@@ Animalia: (Dissonance) (Culvert, 2016).  Dark art school music off this week’s CFUV weekly email.  It’s hard to tell from the opener thus far if it’s gonna wrong, oh it’s not it’s gonna bounce with some kraut sauce and ping pong synth.  I don’t think this singer is a native English speaker and that’s fine but she’s not going to do well when Trump gets this wall thing going.  Joke, don’t piss yer pants.  I’ve taken bites of five of the songs and it’s pretty standard synth rock with dramatical vocals.  If you roll that way….

@@@ Andy Shauf: The Party (Anti-, 2016).  Also off this week’s CFUV weekly email.  Pleasant and laidback singer-songwriter soft rock off.  This first tune is driven by the piano and a sparse rock beat.  Shauf is dour but not suicidal, he’s got enough in the tank for some oodie, doodie doo typa background vocals.  Let’s peep more.  I’m on the fourth tune and I like a bunch of the sounds here and I like the orchestral aspect to some of the arrangements.  I like Shauf’s voice but it’s a tad soggy for my taste — he’s mad mellow in his singing and the band is super mellow and it’s making me a tad sleepy.

YTD recordings listened to: 602
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 330
Not good music: 221

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Systema Solar, Brian Eno, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, The Lickshots, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Xenia Rubinos, Miramar, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Margo Price, Changui Majadero, Seratones

7/23/16: Melissa Manago, Perdition, Charlie Hunter

@@@ Melissa Manago: Little Crimes (Chesky Records, 2016).  I saw this record on an audiophile reselling website as part of some sort of special offer.  Ah America and its special offers.  Given this is audiphile business this is not going to be rough music, it’s for rich folks to kick back and enjoy their overpriced stereo system.  Manago has a pleasant voice and on this first tune she’s got mostly two acoustic guitars accompanying her.  Uh, there’s a hand drum.  Maybe a bit too much reverb on her voice which produces a bit of a highbrow vibe.  I prefer her voice to her lyrics.  I’m on the third tune and it is as I feared, this is too refined for me.  Too important.

@@@ Perdition: Perdition (Imminence Records, 2014).  Some heavy music off my heavy metal newsletter.  After a bit of a mangled Lord’s Prayer we’re into the squeeze — some kick drum thwacking and a wall of static, percussive guitars.  The first vocal line is ‘I vomit on gods’  Oh my, that’s not gonna work on Sundays!  There’s a synth in the back of the mix which seems a bit out of place and as we move into the second tune it’s full on puonding thrash with some demented melodic guitar playing.  The mighty orc and the battering ram guitars!  Delicious.  In search of this GoogleTube nugget I see this record came out a couple of years ago and these guys are considered a symphonic death metal band.  That sounds about right.

@@@ Charlie Hunter: Everybody has Plan Until they get Punched in the Face (Decca, 2016).  Some high end white people blues off this week’s All Music notable release email.  Hunter has ridiculous technical skills but I’ve never heard them presented in a way that makes me jump for joy and that looks set to continue.  This appears to aimed at the heart of heartless hedge funders with nothing in their underpants.  I would liken this to music to baked french fries as it would taste a lot better if it was hot and grizzy.

YTD recordings listened to: 587
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 322
Not good music: 216

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Systema Solar, Brian Eno, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, The Lickshots, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Xenia Rubinos, Miramar, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Margo Price

7/21/16: Ashly Monroe, Christian Lopez Band, Milk Carton Kids, Margo Price

@@@ Ashley Monroe: Winning Streak (Warner Bros , 2016)  I’m peeping the Apple American playlist email and after the first three top slots that I’ve heard already I found Ms. Monroe.  It’s pretty old school country, no Bon Jovi background vocals and it’s got a very tasty piano hook and the piano player is more than just the hooks as the track unfolds.    I’ve decided to click through and be more than a little playlist ho and I like the tune on the playlist more.  This one has more rock flavorings and does not feature the same stripped down production.  I like her all right, but I like the band more.

@@@ Christian Lopez Band: Will I See You Again (Blaster, 2015).  Lopez has that kind of voice that record labels spring a boner for.  Open and warm and engaging, as in the opposite of Bob Dylan.  However Bobby Zimmerman holds the power of the pen and Mr. Lopez traffics in more ordinary sentiments.  There’s a nice organ swell in this tune and the band gets a little ’70s soft roots rock going which is all right.

@@@ The Milk Carton Kids: Wish You Were Here (Anti-, 2015)  A Pink Floyd cover from a band I’ve heard of but have never peeped.  Also off the Apple Music editor lists.  This version is more lonesome and prettier than the stoned, space rock ’70s Floyd business.  They’re evociking some pretty strong Crosby, Stills, and Nash vibes with the stack of vocals.  I like this!

@@@ Margo Price: Desperate and Depressed (Warner, 2015) It’s full on Americana and what better way to commemorate the Republican (and Democratic) conventions than with this tune, Desperate and Depressed.  The giant cheese doodle vs. the Lying Pantsuit.  She opens up the tune old school hillbilly which I dig.  Oh man, what a rarity to have tunes that are not all cheesed out just singing and playing, a well aimed break from the bullshit.  She’s got a little Janis Joplin thread to her voice.  Not the boozed up broken Janis, but the lonesomeness.  My Apple Musice is busted to fuck so I’m streaming this off the Googletube but I will definitely check out more from Ms. Price.

YTD recordings listened to: 584
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 320
Not good music: 215

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Systema Solar, Brian Eno, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, The Lickshots, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Xenia Rubinos, Miramar, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Margo Price

6/2/16: Kid Ink, Ro James, William Tyler, Victorian Halls

@@@ Kid Ink: Nasty (featuring Jeremiah & Spice).  A blend of dancehall, club sounds, and hip hop that is #1 on the Best of the Week on Apple Music.  This tune is mad Drake-y — half sung, half hip hop, lots of high end horny.  Sparse arrangement, nice electronic sounds arranged well, but to bite Drake, that’s nasty.

@@@ William Tyler: Modern Country (Merge, 2016).  Three songs off an upcoming full length that I got to via the music writer Ted Gioia and a twat he wrote on the Twerter.  This is solo acoustic guitar, super pretty with very little roughness or muscle to the playing.  Delicate like a rainbow people.  There’s some super tasteful drone action behind the fingerpicking, I like that a bunch.  #Contrast.  This second tune delves more deeply into drones with a couple of repeating guitar tracks and a cyclical pitter patter on a snare (I think). He switches it up and gets into a more proggy Baroque spot complete with tinkly percussion and I like it less.  This record is all right, I think I’ve heard enough but it’s all right.

@@@ Victorian Halls: Hyperalgesia (Victory. 2016).  Overwrought post punk that I got to via a music publicist email.  Oh wait, there’s a piano on the intro to this second tune, and piano is not a staple of punk records so we may be looking at super dramatical art school emo rock.  The singer is upset and bummed.  He’s got a little of that flavor of the At the Drive In dude from back in the day.   I’m on the third tune and it is bouncing around.  This fourth tune is tres poppy like a Cure song (weird), and we’ve cited some post punk sounds, and some prog so it’s gonna unfold like that.  I like it all right.

@@@ Ro James: New Religion ( , 2016)  I’ve seen this r&b musician namechecked elsewhere on the intertoobz and he’s halfway down the Apple Music best of the week.  Mr. James sounds more than a bit like Prince.  God, I miss Prince, I really miss his rock/funk mash.  Mr. James is only sporting r&b vibes and that makes his music less muscular.  He needs a new religion, yeah yeah.  Bit of a snoozy biscuit.

YTD recordings listened to: 476
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 265
Not good music: 177

Honorable Mentions: 9
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, 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, 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, Divanhana, Unrestrained, Moken, Systema Solar, Brian Eno, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, The Lickshots, Twin Peaks

Best of 2016 Pick 9

Al Scorch: Circle Round the Signs (Bloodshot, 2016).

An Americana roots record with very good lyrics, great energy, a really good singer and a variety of tunes.  There’s a little country rock, a Wilco-esque tune, some more string leaning tunes, and foot stompers.

This record is smart without being hipster-y and he brings the energy in both his singing and in the band playing.

Best of 2015 Pick 18

Daniel Bachman: River (Three Lobed Recordings, 2015)

This acoustic guitar roots/folk record was number 4 on Ted Goia’s top 100 albums of the year and I really love it despite not liking Goia’s number 1 pick — Kamasi Washington’s The Epic.

I’m particularly impressed with how hard Bachman plays his guitar on this monster 14 minute opening piece, Won’t You Cross over to that Other Shore.  That’s a feat, and the tone of his guitar is beautiful.

There’s no need to go on and on about his playing, the compositions, etc when you can hear him for yourself.  All the tunes are lovely, he plays at a very high level and the record sounds great.