Music for 12/10/18!!! Kacey Musgraves, Lucy Dacus

@@@ Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour (MCA Nashville, 2018)  #3 on NPR’s best of 2018 list.  I know she’s a critical darling but I’ve never heard the mind blower to convert me.  The production here is large sounding with shades of Daniel Lanois’ Emmylou Harris record.  She’s going for the big meta lyrics and I wish they were better.  The playing is very good, there are some interesting sounds tucked into this country record, but I don’t hear the best of year vibes here.

@@@ Lucy Dacus: Historian (Matador, 2018) #4 on the NPR best of 2018 list.  Oh boy, mopey indie music.  Has the world an infinite appetite for downer guitar indie or is there something wrong with me?  Dacus has a fantastic voice and she deploys it with great taste but the tunes….they’re more background music for a coffee shop rather than something that grabs you and doesn’t let go.  I understand I’m running the risk of being a krank by not liking what is apparently so likable but this doesn’t work for me.  This makes me feel sleepy.

YTD recordings listened to: 678
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 369
Not good music: 264

Best: 16
Honorable Mentions: 8

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, Janelle Monae, 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, A Tribe Called Quest, 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, Converge, 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

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Music for 12/7/18!!! Soccer Mommy, Esperanza Spaulding, Jupiter & Okwess

@@@ Soccer Mommy: Clean (Fat Possum, 2017) Both of the NY Times music writers have this record on their best of year list. Both writers! Once again showing the music coverage at the Times is a bag of ass. I find this downtempo guitar indie record unengaging and pretty derivative. Nothing particularly noteworthy in the lyrics or the music and it affirms the worth of mopey white people music when it shouldn’t be affirmed. But then again the Times put Arianne Grande’s record on the list and listening to that record is akin to drinking a quart of dirty dishwater. It’s not surprising the New York Times as a quiet proponent of white supremacy would single this record out of the thousands released this year for notable recognition.

@@@ Esperanza Spalding: 12 Little Spells (Concord, 2018) Another New York Times best of year choice. I come to this record prejudiced as I do not like Spalding — I find her technical skills to be plentiful but there’s a coldness and lack of soul to her music and these tunes only serve to reinforce that perception. This first tune is more symphonic prog rock than it is jazz. I like this second tune more, the singing is quite nice but I predict it’s going to collapse into a proggy mush….and there we go. I define a great record as one that you want to play over and over again and you continue to find things in the record that deepen the listen. I see this record as a work of technique with moments of beauty and that’s not my definition of a great record.

@@@ Jupiter & Okwess: Kin Sonic (Everloving Records, 2018) This is another New York Times record they call it ‘magnificently funky’. If this first power rock funk inflected tune is any indication this record is not going to come close to the funkiness of Vaudou Game. I’m on the third tune and I like this record but to be honest it’s more of a rock record than a funk record. It’s got some funk in it but it’s a thread and not the core. Stick with Vaudou Game. A lot of chanted vocals, some funky guitar and a drummer that rocks.

YTD recordings listened to: 676
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 368
Not good music: 263

Best: 16
Honorable Mentions: 8

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, Janelle Monae, 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, A Tribe Called Quest, 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, Converge, 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

Music for 12/5/18!!! Tirzah, Helena Deland, Rosalia

@@@ Tirzah: Devotion (Domino, 2018) We are up on the 2018 best of lists beginning with Gorilla vs. Bear.  I used to rock it from bottom to top but there are so many lists out there I switched it up and start at the top and work it down.  This is the #1 record here.  The first tune is a bit electronic, a bit slack, and a bit sort of improvised or at least it sounds it.  She has a loose vocal style.  The second tune Do You Know switches to more of a grooved out vibe with a really nice tweaked out sample and a simple funk beat.  I really like the sounds here and while I like the singer I’m not getting a huge emotional connection to the tunes.  I can see why folks would really like the intimate feel of the record.

@@@ HELENA DELANDFrom the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied”  Vol. I – IV  (Luminelle, 2018)  There are four EPs that make up this series and I will begin at the beginning and not get far.  Not due to quality but lack of time.  I would say these guys took ’70s classic FM rock with a soft rock tilt and indie-fied it.  Hippie sounds; dreamy and some slack.  A little Harvest era Neil Young with a va jay jay?  I like it but I could use some other sounds mixed in.  The second tune gets into more classic guitar indie but with an easygoing distorted guitar and nothing out of hand.  I’m totally confused as to the numbering and order of these mini records but I get the general gist of the singer and her music.  The folks putting this list together love the fragile feelings and letting them out or listening to them.

@@@ ROSALÍAEl Mal Querer (Sony, 2018)  I’m into how this list features the female musicians and we switch gears to a mainstream Latin release on Sony.   She’s a good singer and the production is very non-indie with lots of little goodies and a big sound with lots of vocal tracks.  It may be flirting with a concept record as there are section titles with meanings but I can’t get into it too much as I know not more than 30 words of Spanish.  These feel mostly to be love songs so that puts this record in line with the first two chosen by these guys.  I think I like this one more than the other two — not because of the sound but it’s got more than one thing going on.  It’s trying to balance new electro sounds with some older more traditional musical elements and that’s interesting to me.

YTD recordings listened to: 669
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 364
Not good music: 260

Best: 13
Honorable Mentions: 8

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, Janelle Monae, 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, A Tribe Called Quest, 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, Converge, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Tal National, Portal, Hernan Sama & Marcelo von Schultz, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Gouge Away, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Babylon Trio

Music for 12/4/18!!! Twist, Tush

@@@ Twist: Distancing (Buzz, 2018) A couple of pre release tracks off an upcoming full length. Venus (clipped below) is an interesting combination of a kinda funky beat, some twangy guitar, some big reverbed sounds pushed far back and a female singer.  It’s not trying to be any particular genre but this is the big tent called indie.  Outside of the beat that rolls out steady it does have a slackness to it for sure.  The second pre-release single, Places, is similar in that it sports some funky synth work but is garnished with classic indie space organ and the same singer.  Interesting combo, half a cup of Red Bull and I’d dig it ore.

@@@ Tush – Do You Feel Excited? (Do Right!)  Retro dance/disco/indie electronic off this week’s CFUV playlist email.  Somebody wanted to show off their bass synth and it is a gorgeous patch.  Thick, funky and propels the tune because the beat is pretty standard lowbrow boom bap.  Oh wait, here comes some guitar and a funky beat.  Nice.  The vocals are handled by a female singer and it’s George Clinton inspired but it’s not George which is cool.  The second tune is more of an ’80s thing with handclaps and a busy hi hat.  I like the opener better.  It’s clipped below.

YTD recordings listened to: 664
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 360
Not good music: 260

Best: 11
Honorable Mentions: 8

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, Janelle Monae, 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, A Tribe Called Quest, 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, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Tal National, Portal, Hernan Sama & Marcelo von Schultz, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Orlando Lopez, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Gouge Away, Barro, Daniel Khan, Vaudou Game, Tallawit Timbouctou, Babylon Trio

Music for 11/30/18!!! Jeff Tweedy, Chris Carter

@@@ Jeff Tweedy: Warm (dBpm, 2018)  When I hear the simple rock basics of the opening tune and Tweedy’s world weary voice it sounds to my ears that he’s channeling John Lennon (or aspiring to).  He’s going for that straight ahead shot to the heart.  I get that Tweedy has been in the game for a long long time and people love him but I find his music to be pretty pedestrian and his lyrics and singing not enough to overcome that.  I’d rather listen to Tom Petty, he’s more interesting to me.  It’s not awful music, it’s just very typical, something you might hear in a doctor’s office and it’s a mystery to me how or why people flip out over this musician.  He’s ended up as a late ’70s classic FM slack country half rocker — that’s not a personal attack, that’s what he is.  Maybe people remember what he was like way back in the day when he first started out and they hold that close to them but I listen to the record as it exists in this moment in time without all the footnotes or history.

@@@ Chris Carter: Disobedient (Self-released, 2018)  I saw this musician mention on the All Music notable release email and saw this record just came out when I went on the Apple Music.  I can’t tell if this is a new record or a re-issue so I gotta head over to All Music and verify.  It’s a reissue of a 1998 record and it sounds it.  The synths have a dated sound to them, I don’t really care one way or the other.  The record sounds a bit sci-fi and a little undercover rock ‘n roll as it maintains a tempo without being a fully abstract piece of music.  I like the pieces but like some of the more out pieces more.

YTD recordings listened to: 664
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 360
Not good music: 260

Best: 11
Honorable Mentions: 8

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, Janelle Monae, 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, A Tribe Called Quest, 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, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Tal National, Portal, Hernan Sama & Marcelo von Schultz, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Orlando Lopez, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Gouge Away, Barro, Daniel Khan, Vaudou Game, Tallawit Timbouctou

Music for 11/8/18!!! Fucked Up, Jerusalem in my heart, Frontperson

@@@ Fucked Up: Dose Your Dreams (Merge, 2018)  Matador mainstays drop a classic punk biscuit on the Merge imprint.  They’ve added a few non punk touches like a little horn here and there as well as some synths and interestingly a female background vocal chorus.  The singer sounds a whole bunch like an old school cigarettes and whiskey shredded windpipe hard living fella.  It’s a concept record/song cycle but I’m listening to it as tunes because I can’t grok the singer when he’s going quickly on the mic.  These guys are obviously tight as fuck and know what they can do in a studio having been around the block more than once — I like the tunes without loving them.  The fifth tune, Normal People (clipped below), is the best of what I heard.

@@@  Jerusalem in My Heart: Daqa’iq Tudaiq (Constellation, 2018) Contemporary Arabic music mixed with electronic music or contemporary Arabic electronic music, I’m not really sure.  I’m on the third tune and it’s more contemporary Arabic music with some electronic music garnishes.  I’m not sure regular readers caught the excellent Arabic electronic record Acid Arab out on Crammed Discs last year but it’s not that.  These days I’m more up for the integrated smashup of Arabic melodies and electronic music and this flirts with that more than goes fully into it.  If you like Arabic music check it out, if you like electronic music check out Acid Arab.

@@@ Frontperson – Frontrunner (Oscar St) All of today’s releases I got to via the weekly CFUV playlist email.  This one is more straight indie with a symphonic feel and a serious tone.  This is not a beer can smashing party here at all.  The second tune switches up into a more Crosby, Stills, and Nash vocal harmonies thing.  I’m struggling to find the right adjectives to describe the vibe of this record.  It’s not art school, it’s not proggy, it’s partially indie, not particularly folky but it’s a lot of sophisticated harmonies over a mostly straight indie band.  I guess it’s an old school hippie/indie record.  I like some of the singing and it’s an interesting formula they’re using.

YTD recordings listened to: 631
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 340
Not good music: 253

Best: 11
Honorable Mentions: 7

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, Janelle Monae, 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, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, 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, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Tal National, Portal, Hernan Sama & Marcelo von Schultz, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Orlando Lopez, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Peregoyo y su Combo vacana, Marianne Faithfull

2018 Honorable Mention Pick 7

serpentwithfeet: soil (Secretly Canadian, 2018)

I will not bore regular readers with my grievances against the aesthetic (and racial) assumptions of indie rock, but suffice it to say this alt r&b indie record works for me because it does not succumb to those standard assumptions.

If you don’t like the singer here you’re not going to enjoy this record.  At all.  He’s very dramatical with confessional and hyper emotional lyrics and I’m not usually up for that but the way he works his songs feels genuine to me.   I can’t find a pose here and that’s great.

It also helps that the arrangements for these tunes are more supportive of the vocalist than attempting to overtake him.  Sonically the tunes are not super crowded and overwhelming.  The sounds on the record are pretty stripped down with synths and drum machines — no crazy shredding guitar solos, giant horn sections.  To me this lends a welcome focus to the record and prevents it from sprawling all over the place with over the top arrangements and an over the top singer.

Check it out!