Music for 12/5/16!!! Sierra Hull, Laura Mvula, Tkettle, AJ Tracey

@@@ Sierra Hull: Weighted Mind (Rounder, 2016).  Progressive bluegrass off Ted Gioia’s best of 2016 list.  I’m digging the opening tune with the plinky banjo working with and against the long upright bass tones.  Sweet.  Err, I dig the playing more than the lyrics, let’s peep more.  I’m on the fourth tune and I stick with that opinion, great playing lyrics less so.

@@@ Laura Mvula: The Dreaming Room (Sony, 2016)  Some art pop that occupies the #27 slot on Mr. Gioia’s best of 2016 list.  A little ethnic percussion on this opening tune and a lot of reverb.  After that ambient intor we get into an orchestral pop tune featuring Nile Rodgers on guitar.  The production is immaculate and the layering is impressive.  Think a Peter Gabriel world pop approach with less muscle and more New Age-y lyrics.

@@@ Tkettle: Electric Beanstalk (Kettle, 2016).  I’m about a third of the way through picking through music writer Ted Gioia’s best of 2016 list.  Thus far I’ve discovered one honorable mention record among his 200 picks.  This is a bluegrass record with electronica production and thus far I like it.  It sounds pretty looped to me and it’s got some nice chopped moments and other electronica flourishes I don’t love.   This is one of those records where I enjoy the concept more than I enjoy the actual music produced.  An A for getting your freak on.

@@@ Lil Tracey: Pasta (My Team Paid, 2016).  This tune is off the Apple Music hot tracks section — it’s fronted by a British gangsta MC.  It’s interesting to hear the high English accent over the classic skitter beats.  I’m not sure how or why he called this tune pasta.  Let me consult the urban dictionary, maybe pasta is another word for pussy or smoking weed.  And we’re back.  So one of the many slang meanings for pasta is sex (more than fondling) so there you go.  I don’t know regular listeners checked out that mainstream hip hop tune ‘Broccoli’ by Baby D.R.A.M., it was one of my favorite tunes this summer.  He should get together with Mr. Tracey and they could get some broccoli and pasta going.  Broccoli, of course, slang for smoking weed.  Go Trump!  Random shit, I fucking hate Trump.

YTD recordings listened to: 954
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 533
Not good music: 361

Buys: 18
Honorable Mentions: 21

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, Zomby, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Divanhana, Moken, Brian Eno, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Miramar, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Joe Sticky, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, Solange, Acid Arab, Bonga, A Tribe Called Quest

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3/8/16: Emily Wolfe, firekid, Methyl Ethel, The Quebe Sisters

@@@ Emily Wolfe: Atta Blues (Emily Wolfe, 2015).  Imma gonna spend one more day on the NPR best 100 bands at South by Southwest.  I certainly hope nobody flies a plane into the South by Southwest festival, it would be a tremendous loss to the music community.  This is a riffy blues single with a nice descending chord progression, nice distorted vocals, and now a bleep that is panning across from left to right.  That seems totally random.  I enjoyed the song less as it moved on so I guess we’ll leave it at that.

@@@ firekid: firekid (Atlantic, 2016). Some mainstream rock with some indie flourishes that I got to via this list I haven’t found shit on.  He’s got a little roots action in this first tune, a banjo figure buried pretty far in the mix.  The second tune Getaway Car could be a new country single if it weren’t for his nasal vocal delivery.  Big vocal hooks, lots of background vocals, mainstream rock arrangements.  Not sure why it would be at SXSW except the indie label is kind of a sham.

@@@ Methyl Ethel: Oh Inhuman Spectacle (4AD, 2016).  Also off the big NPR list.  The first tune opens up with dual vocals over some abstract, slightly mangled guitar (?) — it sounds a bit like a piano and there’s a drone in the background.  Now it has morphed into a full band song with the drums and what do they call that, yeah a bass!  This tune is both epic and a bit cheesy/melodramatic.  Let’s check another tune.  This second tune Shadowboxing is a slack banger with chorused guitars and a lot of words that I’m not paying attention to.  My mistake, that was the third tune, I’m listening to the second one and I guess my general feeling is that the world doesn’t need more Cure-inspired down rock records.

@@@ The Quebe Sisters Band: Every Which a Way (QSB, 2014).  Last one off the big NPR list and this one is starting out all right.  Old school string swing outfit with two women I assume to be sisters singing.  Maybe they’re not sisters, maybe they’re just having a lesbian old frontier relationship!  The playing is brisk and the bass player is working hard.  I wonder how much coffee these guys drink there is no slack within a hundred miles of these guys and gals.

YTD recordings listened to: 229
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 125
Not good music: 80

Honorable Mentions: 5
Buys: 3

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, Matt Walker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Los Hacheros

2016 Honorable Mention Pick 5

Michael Daves:  Orchids and Violence (Nonesuch, 2016).

A concept record in that he plays 12 songs in a bluegrass style and then plays the same 12 songs electric.  And man the bluegrass record is pretty kicking.  He sings the hell out of the tunes and the band is smoking.

As for the electric versions I was really into the guitar sounds at first — kinda classic and modern at the same time.  Big and trippy but rhythmically it drags.  If the drummer rocked the kit hard I woulda put this double disc on the best of year list.

It’s still a fine piece of music just spend more time with the bluegrass.

2/29/16: Anthrax, Macklemore, Michael Daves, Jagged Leaves

@@@ Anthrax: For All Kings (Megaforce, 2016).  The Apple Music front page banner has a picture of the Anthrax gents and I’m listening to this record because the bald guy has the most amazing raccoon tail beard.  I hope they didn’t Photoshop that motherfucker it is just a stunning beard.  And here comes the music after the orchestral intro and it’s a classic metal/thrash combo platter.  The singer has that epic metal singer bravado — I can easily imagine he puts a cucumber in his leather pants for dramatic effect before the show.  The songs are solid, I like the drums.

@@@ Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Macklemore, 2016).  I tend to think of Macklemore as a hip hop clown pants.  The first tune features strings (hate it), light beats (plain vanilla), but his rhyming is all right.   This second tune Downtown is an updated throwback tune featuring Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash etc.  Oh he’s rocking the bells!  This third tune Brad Pitt’s Cousin is a boasting track and I hates it.  This is cotton candy hip hop, light on funk heavy on sugar.  Oh my, 102 million views on this second tune Downtown!  What a god awful waste of bandwidth!  Peep the madness.

@@@ Michael Daves: Orchids and Violence (Nonesuch, 2016).  Described as alternative country rock on the All Music weekly email it sure as shit sounds like bluegrass to me.  Banjo, acoustic, upright bass, mandolin — just call it Appalachian shit kicking music and be proud as this first tune is pretty kicking.  Daves can sing, check him out on this clip below!  I’m a little shocked because most Nonesuch releases are high end yuppie brunch music but these guys have escaped the Nonesuch sausage machine.  Imma gonna have to swing back on this record.

@@@ Jagged Leaves: Nightmare Afternoon (Yellow K, 2016).  Some NYC folk influenced slacker rock I got to via a music publicist email.  Husband and wife on the microphones and they sing well together.  She has a pretty voice and he’s a little nasal and sharp but it contrasts nicely.  Other instrumentation includes rock rhythm section, big electric organ sound, slide guitar, cello and fiddle.  He’s a downer to be sure and the music is slow and pretty.  He’s put some work into the lyrics and I give respect to that.  It’s not straight up my alley but it’s quality music so check him out if it sounds interesting to you.  Lovely cello sound, by the way.

YTD recordings listened to: 202
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 112
Not good music: 71

Honorable Mentions: 4
Buys: 3

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, Matt Walker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Michael Daves

8/11/15: Tromboranga, Chris Jones, Clark

@@@ TROMBORANGA | Golpe Con Melodia (Self-released, 2015).  Off this week’s WRIR charts.  I’ve been out of NYC all summer and when I hear the salsa horn’s blasting in this first tune, I miss NYC even it’s been recently stuffed with techie douchebags and Wall Street asshole yuppies.  This first tune, the title track is groovin a little on the slow side but it’s a deep groove.  I’m digging the vocals on this second tune, Quinto Mayor — oh the background vocals are sweet as well.  And hot percussion as well.  Looks like these guys are going more for comfort over speed as Howlin’ Wolf sang.

@@@ Chris Jones & The Night Drivers: Cloud of Dust (GSM, 2009).  I saw somebody tweet about this bluegrass record and his record.  Oops, this is not a new record, it’s from 2009 but it sounds great and the playing is sweet.  Instrumentation is acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, and upright bass.  Just the right singing style for me — very pretty but not flashy, just beautiful harmonies sung well.  Check these guys out and I would definitely check out his new record.

@@@ Clark: Flame Rave (Warp, 2015).  Some abstract electronic music I got to from this week’s CFUV weekly email.  This first tune is definitely not booty focused — the beats are non-bombastic and he’s got this plastic blob of sound he keeps returning to with a nice layer of static and sound r2d2 bleep action, but minimalist.  Now we’re taking it close to the club and by the time we’re 3/4 of the way through the tune we’re bumpin’ fannies pretty good with a tambourine (you know how much I love a good tambourine — more tambo man) and a classic drum and bass beat with a salad of sci-fi blurps, belches and even a fairly intestinal bass synth.  The second tune, To Live and Die in Grantham seems to be hewing pretty close to the first tune’s formula — a balanced palette of club sounds with some abstraction thrown in to raise the IQ level of the music.  Me myself I like my electronic super abstract and shit but check him out.

YTD recordings listened to: 628
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 366
Not good music: 215
Honorable Mentions: 16
Buys: 9

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, 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, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Ellen Jewell, Akitsa, Chico Trujillo, Richard Thompson, Jeremy Pinnell, Hope Drone, Pat Thomas, Ultramantis Black.

Active Music Listening Friday January 30, 2015

YTD recordings listened to: 85
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 49
Not good music: 28

Honorable Mentions: 7
Buys: 3

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, Coffinworm, Spacesuits, T.O.M.B., Sons of Huns, Fofoulah, Lozen,

@@@ Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues (Nonesuch, 2015)  Labelled as contemporary bluegrass, I don’t hear much bluegrass on this first tune, Familiarity.  I hear some really nice production courtesy of T-Bone Burnett.  I would call this progressive bluegrass as it’s mad proggy.  As if the dude is slipping an undercover Yes record into the proceedings.  I’m half wrong here as it’s called contemporary bluegrass at the top of its little square on the All Music email and it’s called progressive bluegrass in the description.  I like some of the sounds on the record but it’s more than a bit refined and weak knee-d for my taste.  It’s out on Nonesuch, the label of the 1% so that’s to be expected.

http://youtu.be/Ppn7eQSBdJQ?list=PL1LdhIYX_Ca9O1sE0dBLz0vlsO0SAoc4G

@@@ Noveller: Into the Dunes (Fire Records, 2015).  Some experimental ambient music off the All Music weekly email.  I have two tunes up on my Beats store.  I’m listening to the title track and it’s got a lot of reverb but it doesn’t sound that ambient to me, I’m getting more of an epic slow guitar jam vibe than a floating clouds of sound.  But I will hang in there for my loyal listeners.  I’m on the second tune and it’s really just instrumental guitar music without a drummer.  Snoozy guitar pedal music with a little synth sauce.  Now folks might love it but it’s not experimental ambient music.

http://youtu.be/IQG0knPjk48

@@@ Pearls: Big Shot (Dash Dot, 2015)  Marketed as glam rock I hear a little glam and a lot of blue eyed disco.  Big fat kick snare beat with that throbbing T. Rex bass and then over the top comes the sexy disco sauce.  Kinda struts for a bit and then goes back to sleep.

2014 Honorable Mention Pick 11

The Earls of Leicester: The Earls of Leicester (New Rounder, 2014)

These guys put the country blues in bluegrass.  A soulful singer, excellent banjo playing and a tight band.  Instrumentation is banjo, acoustic guitar, fiddle, upright bass, and washboard and while everybody gets some space to solo the banjo player is the star of the show here.

Songs are good, all tunes written by Flatts and Scruggs (as the record is a tribute to those two), the vocal harmonies are there but a bit understated, more of a player’s album than a singer’s album by just a little bit.  The lead singer does, however, really do a good job of fronting the band.  A great job in fact.

As one blurb about the record says this is a tribute that’s aimed at younger listeners who don’t have a deep knowledge of bluegrass and its history.