Music for 7/18/19!!! Ajani Jones, Kali Malone, Ceremony

@@@ Alani Jones: Dragonfly ( Ajani Jones/Closed Sessions, 2019)  I got to this Chicago rapper via an indie hipster on the Twatter.  He’s slotted as hip hop on the Apple Music but this first track has plenty of r&b in it including a sung intro before the MC comes in.  These are uplifting lyrics that go with the sung chorus which is pretty straight Disney.  I like his microphone work more than I like the sounds though the sounds are well done just not particularly working for me.  I enjoyed the chill funk of Black Power Ranger most of what I heard.  I know it sounds flaky but I can’t really put my finger on why this music isn’t connecting with me but it’s not.

@@@ Kali Malone: The Sacrificial Code (IDEAL, 2019)  I got to this via record an email from a usually reissue vinyl selling joint, Stranded Records.  I love the sound of organ records and I actually collect them because I’m a freak.  Christian organ records, cocktail party records, etc.  This first tune capitalizes on the large and beautiful tone but is more in the indie realm than the other ones mentioned.  I’m on the second tune, the title track (clipped below) and the tempo has been pretty steady.  It’s slow and I dig it and am bored by it at the same time.  I don’t know why I would rock this record instead of Bach’s organ works.  The sameness and slowness of this detracts — personally I don’t think playing an organ slowly qualifies as drone music, it’s slow organ music.  But hey that’s just me, and if you haven’t peeped any solo organ lately then take a gander at this and see if you like it.  Don’t have a Red Bull before you sit down with this!

@@@ Ceremony: In the Spirit World Now (Relapse, 2019)  A pre release single from a publicist email.  I try to listen to Relapse Records releases, they put out high quality heavy music.  It’s certainly not standard Relapse business, it’s an updated Devo formula with crunchier guitars and a bit more swing.  Synth as a lead instrument is not a common quality on Relapse releases.  It’s an all right track but not really a blend of sounds I dig.  Check for yourself.

YTD recordings listened to: 361
Good music, not list worthy: 214
Not good music: 125

Best: 0
Honorable Mentions: 0

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, Andre Bratten, Nathan Corder/Tom Weeks

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Active Music Listening Tuesday September 30, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 772
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 477
Not good music: 241

Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 13

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Kendl Winter, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee,  The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle,  Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Bio Ritmo, Lenguas Largas, Vessel. Earls of Leicester, Khun Narin, Orlando Julius, Vaudou Game

@@@ Vaudou Game: Apiafo (Hot Casa, 2014).  I got to this record via the WRIR weekly email.  Oh my, that’s funky drummer right there.  He’s joined by a poppin’ bass player, an electric organ player, a chickenscratch guitar player, and a singer singing in — wait on the Duck Duck Go.  He’s from Togo.  What the fuck, wait a minute — Togo is sandwiched between Ghana and Benin in West Africa.  Yes, the geography less is free.  The vocals sound like Frank Zappa vocal harmonies over a bumpin’ funky band, especially on the second track Dangerous Bees.  I’m gonna check out this record more thoroughly when I have the time.  This is some pretty surreal African music with all manner of influences swirled over that rhythm section.

@@@ Palm Ghosts: Palm Ghosts (Not sure, 2014).  An ambient Americana record that I got to via a music publicist email.   The pace of the opener, Dr. Tiger, is slow and deliberate with sparse parts of acoustic guitar, banjo, and piano, and voice.  There’s a thin line between dreamy and sleepy time tea so we’ll see which side they choose.  The second tune brings in the drum kit and a more uptempo vibe.  This is some pretty solid music, check it out.  A little bit of Simon and Garfunkel, a little bit of the Band…they’re going more for the dreamy than the sleepy time tea.

@@@  Typ-Ill: 100 Dollar Bill.  Stripped down funk hip hop beats with medium roughneck lyrics — fuck off, chasin’ paper, it’s in that neighborhood.  The MC here is very urgent and there’s not much space between his words — he just goes and goes.  I like the ringing bell like sound in the arrangement.

@@@ Taurus: Opus IV: Elevations (Mylodon Records, 2014).  Off last week’s Aquarius Records weekly email.  A bit dark, a bit New Age, neither heavy metal nor electronica.  I guess it’s instrumental synth prog with guitars.  Yikers, this really isn’t record of the week material for me, this is cheese for my sandwich.  But hey, if you dig the epic instrumental prog, have at it.

@@@ Black Rain: Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black, 2014).  I’ll try another Aquarius Records record of the week because I didn’t like the first one.   That’s yer American stick-to-it-ness/low self-esteem.  Oh boy, I’m not sure this is going to work out.  The second tune, is the proto-female voice — all huge-a-tated with reverb over a dark drone.  Now when they don’t have the female singer doing here space queen routine they got some a pretty sick cauldron of dark futuristic drones bubbling so it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

 

Active Music Listening Wednesday April 23, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 282
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 186
Not good music: 78

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 1

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, The Whammies, The Chewers, La Misa Negra, Melingo, Alexander Hawkins, Cheryl Pyle, Mexican Dubwiser, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones

@@@ Equal Stones: Transgression (Hidden Vibes, 2014).  Sparse ambient music out of the Netherlands.  Generous but tasteful use of delays and the pace is nice and slow. The palette of sounds on this record come across as naturally generated and synthetic at the same time.  It’s really engaging music.  This is excellent ambient music and it will probably make my best of year list

@@@ Kelis: Food (Ninja Tune, 2014).  Mostly old school r&b soul I found on the All Music weekly email.  I would rather listen to this record than I would Pharrell Williams’ latest effort — and I will only refer to Williams from here on out as Hat Man as he seems to have distilled his public personality down to the essence of a park ranger’s hat.  I like her voice and the arrangements, and the instrumentation — I think the lyrics fall a bit short of classic soul performers like Stevie Wonder and Prince, but she’s a cut above the ghoul parade of vapidity (yes, vapidity is a word).

@@@ Freeman: For a While I Couldn’t Play My Guitar like a Man (Partisan, 2014).  A 1970’s influenced soft rock confessional number I got to via a music publicist.  Nice and sparse — strong Neil Young influence without the famous distorted Crazy Horse guitar sound.  I like the guitar playing but the electric tone isn’t my favorite.  A small criticism and I’m more than a bit surprised as I wasn’t a Ween fan at all.

@@@ Fear of Men: Loom (Kanine, 2014).  Off the All Music weeky email.  Slotted as experimental rock but we shall see.  Thus far I hear a Cranberries record with a little bit of production quirk.  Very mainstream and regular readers understand how much I detest false advertising.  I say be proud of your mainstream pop/rock sensibilities and don’t pawn your applesauce rock off as experimental.

@@@ Jesse Boykins III: Love Apparatus (Jesse Boykins III Music, 2014).  Some New Age r&b off the All Music weekly email.  To my ears Boykins rocks a black hippie lovechild flow — beats good but smooth, some nice synth keyboard bass, a lot of other synths in the mix, and his falsetto voice.  The second tune moves into a poppier neighborhood with the same almost completely synth musical background.  I like what he does but I could use some instruments — some guitar, a horn, something.  He’s got a really pretty voice, but it’s too synth-y.

Honorable Mention 2013 Pick 20

Ethernet: Opus 2 (Kranky, 2013)

My perception of electronica is that is that if it wants to be popular it either goes faux high minded/New Age or lowbrow/booty-club music.

That is mostly avoided here as Opus 2 is primarily ambient in nature.  Slow moving, which is not good for a nation of short attention span monkeys, but it’s more engaging as you have to engage with the music to hear the changes that are in the music.

The second tune, Correction, is sparse and lovely with a minimalist pulse and a tasteful cloud of synthesizers rolling through the tune — some dark and ominous, some not.  So it’s true ambient music, neither New Age or booty focused.

I’m making this an honorable mention instead of a best pick because the first tune has a bit of New Age to it, and is not indicative of the rest of the album which is without the melodic blurps of the first track.  I don’t like when the first track panders and misdirects the listener.  Other than that small criticism, it’s my blog — I think it’s a really strong album folks should check out.

Active Music Listening Thursday May 30, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 406
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 259
Not good music: 119
Honorable Mentions: 10
Buys: 11

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Inzinzac

@@@ Marissa Anderson: The Golden Hour (Mississippi, 2011)  I saw her new record on CFUV’s weekly email, but this 2011 effort is up on MOG.  Slotted as folk music it opens up with a hip distorted slide guitar solo.  About a 7.5 on the nasty meter, I won’t get my hopes up too much.  The second tune, the Night Before Last, is a more chimey solo guitar affair.  The third tune, First Light, is a mournful slow one.  I would be more interested if there were some vocals to go with this sweet guitar playing but she’s a really good player.

@@@ Necrophagist: Epitaph (Relapse, 2004).  I caught this record in the recommended section of the Omega Music weekly email.  It’s a chops focused metal record with some pretty wicked guitar tapping to go with the caveman vocalist — low and shredding.  The drummer is fairly full on with the double kick dome crack, but it’s the guitarist catching my ear on this record.

@@@ Kylesa: Ultraviolet (Season of Mist, 2013).  Continue with the hard music off the All Music weekly email.  Certainly not as slick as the record above the first tune has an unusual Beastie Boys group vocal vibe to it.  This is more in the art rock vein than your straight up metal beatdown.  The second tune, Unspoken brings a detached vocal a la Jane’s Addiction and a hypnotic repeating quality to the guitar/bass riffage.  I like some of the elements here, but it doesn’t really hit the mark for me.

@@@ Eisley: Currents (Equal Vision, 2013).  Slotted as indie/alternative in the All Music weekly email it’s really mainstream female fronted rock.  Big production and a big drum sound with a focus on the vocalist.  I believe this music is aimed straight for the suburbs — it has a faux emotionality that will work well out there.  Check it out for yourself.

Active Music Listening Monday May 6, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 348
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 228
Not good music: 98
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills, Har Mar Superstar, Trap Them, Orchestra Super Mazembe

@@@ Eluvium: Nightmare Ending (Temporary Residence, 2013). Let’s give our fantastic Music PR industry a shot with this record.  You can stream this record over here at NPR.  I got an email about this record which was supposedly created with ‘equal parts wonder and abandon’.  That’s an awful big matzoh ball for a musician to carry — was it really made with equal parts wonder and abandon?  How do I know you’re not pissing on my head and telling me it’s raining.

Thus far, it’s pretty straightforward acoustic ambient music — the first tune ‘Don’t Come any Closer’ is a circle of piano chords in front of some swirls of the feedback type without being made of actual guitar feedback.  Towards the end of the tune we’re getting some church organ which is nice and lends solemnity to the tune, but honestly I’m not feeling this is a particularly risky set of choices that have been made here.  The second tune, Warm, is all right again not very surprising.  A walking synth melody with a vibrato like static guitar wamble opposing it.  This is a good record being hyped, nothing more nothing less.

Remember kids, just because somebody says something is awesome doesn’t make it so.  Even when it’s a music publicist in conjunction with the totally uncompromised music blog Stereogum and NPR which relies very heavily on the PR slingers for their content.  And just because a record has a bunch of money behind it doesn’t mean it’s good.  I’ve clipped a record down below by an un-publicist outfit.  I found this record via Anti-Gravity Bunny, which is a great source for ambient music and I find this record to be far more beautiful than the Eluvium record which I’ve done a full cavity search on.

@@@ Orchestra Super Mezembe: Mazembe @ 45rpm Vol. 1 (Stern’s, 2013).  Off WRIR’s music review email.  Heavy on the melodic guitar playing, which I love.  Not focused on a pounding funk/rock vibe, and more on steady, laidback flow.  I started listening to this record last week and then started with fourth song, Mwana Mazembe, this morning and thought it was some very sweet singing and guitar playing.  I’ve clipped the fourth tune below — it’s a seven minute excerpt.

@@@ DIEUF-DIEUL DE THIES: Aw Sa Yone Vol. 1 (Teranga Beat, 2013) As opposed to the Orchestra Super Mezembe this is a much more driving African music record.  More uptempo and the guitars are fuzzed out.  I find myself listening to the excellent work put in by the horns and the conga player.  I’m a sucker for that high register singing on track 2, Mariama Yayou Salam.  I like the record but not as much as the Orchestra Super Mazembe.  It’s just personal taste, check them out for yourselves.  Oh wait, I was about to move on and they tore it out with the third tune, Sibaye.  A 10+ minute slow moving, deep ass groove with over the top singing.  I’m liking this record more and more.

@@@ !!!: Thr!!!ler (Warp, 2013)  Off the MOG new release page.  This is straight up disco — exquisitely crafted and not completely awful, but stupidizing no doubt.  This low IQ pollution music will make you stupid, no doubt.  You’ve been warned.

Active Music Listening Friday May 3, 2013

YTD recordings listened to: 344
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 226
Not good music: 97
Buys: 10

Possibles: Sidsel Endresen & Stan Westerhus, Boyd Rivers, Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure, Cryptopsy, Nick Waterhouse, Patterson Hood, Skyzoo,  Chris McGregor, Brother Ali (2009), Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bob Gluck Trio, Ether Net, Oddisee, Holly Williams, Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph, Hollis Brown, Dave Arner Trio, Graveola, Safe Haven, Cyanide Pills, Har Mar Superstar, Trap Them

@@@ Twigs: The Language of Flowers (flau, 2013).  I caught wind of this record over here via the best music blog of 2012, Disco Naivete.  I didn’t really dig the tune they had posted over there, but the second tune on this record, Static Rowing, is pretty stylish.  Downtempo and ambient with some nice guitar arpeggios.  The vocals lend a Kate Bush New Age vibe to the track, which is not great as far as I’m concerned.  I dig the slow unfolding.  The third tune, If I Were an Artery, continues with the slowness adding some piano/electric piano and a bleeping beep.  If this was an instrumental record I would strongly think about putting it on my best of year list as the arrangements are superlative.  Unfortunately, I don’t love what they did with the vocals.  If you have a streaming service feel free to check it out for yourself — anything new agey in music is an automatic no-go and while it’s a very light influence on this record I hear it. Or that’s how I hear it.

@@@ Man Forever: Pansophical Cataract (Thrill Jockey, 2012).  A slow/fast moving affair as clouds of guitar feedback and bass float *and some other almost identifiable sounds) over a simple snare without the snare on roll that starts up at the beginning and just cycles.  It took me a bit to get into it, but I’m kinda likin’ it as it unfolds like a big ass ugly flower.

@@@ Airborne Toxic Event: Such Hot Blood (Island, 2013)  Maybe I was mistaken but I thought these guys were a jam band.  This record is more mainstream sounding than I expected.  It’s got touches of Coldplay, U2, a smidge of Bon Jovi ah and oh, and Irish saloon rock.  The second tune, Timeless, is a super cliche nugget of fake emotion.  I can’t handle it.

@@@ Sean Nowell: The Kung-Fu Masters (Positone, 2013).   A straight jazz/funk production opening up with Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic.  Well executed, but not really my cup of tea.

@@@ Ben Sidran: Don’t Cry for No Hipster (Nidras Music, 2013).  Great title for a record, this is a straight jazz vocal record.  Not really my cup of tea, but I support the self-released music so check it out.