Music for 6/20/19!! Romain Collin, Katy Perry, Lungbutter

@@@ Romain Collin: Tiny Lights (XM, 2019) A young French musician with a record I got to via a twat on the the Twatter.  He’s a Berkeley graduate trying to change jazz and he plays piano and keyboard but this first tune Overflow is a New Age indie track with some prog in it.  I made it about 2/3s of the way through that track before moving to the second track.  So my arguments against this record do not revolve around genre labels, it’s about the music and the presentation thereof.  I think it’s cool he’s using distorted guitars but they’re pretty conservatively deployed and the New Age production is not helping me out.  When they rock out it just sounds like rock and not super interesting rock.  I think a standard Radiohead record is more adventurous both compositionally and sonically.

@@@ Katy Perry: Never Really Over (Capitol, 2019) Ah Katy Perry!  She’s buried the hatchet with Tay Tay without putting the hatchet in either her own skull or Tay Tay’s.  Unfortunately cuz I could use less.  I’m also concerned Katy Perry might be turning into the Stevie Nicks of her generation.  I think I totally get why this pop confection has 57mm hits on GoogleTubePimpShow but it’s also true that it’s an extremely childish high school kinda track.  The chorus is very catchy and shallow.  My problem continues to be that I only consider the music and I have no personal feelings towards the artist and I don’t factor in the video where Ms. Perry’s ample bosom is oft on display.

@@@ Lungbutter: Honey (Constellation, 2019)  #1 out at CFUV in Vancouver, British Columbia.  This is some dirty ass art school punk with a lot of guitar squall and a female spoken word out front.  The second tune brings on the heavy tom tom based drumming but the same low energy front gal.  She should hit the Red Bull — I want to get some blood flowing.  Not violence but circulation wise.  I like the guitar noise and the drummer is all right.  If she was talking and singing occasionally and occasionally losing her shit I would be all over this record.

YTD recordings listened to: 310
Good music, not list worthy: 185
Not good music: 107

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

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Music for 6/10/19!!! Chris Brown, French Vanilla, Santana

@@@ Chris Brown (featuring Drake): No Guidance (RCA, 2019)  #1 up on the Apple Music hot tracks section.  It’s shocking to see Drake with the time to drop some of his custom rhymes after all his time courtside at the Raptors’ games and his post game Twatter trolling like he’s a coach or a player or some such shit.  This is a hardcore love song and Chris Brown brings the vocal energy at a level three Drakes couldn’t scrape together.  The arrangement is a swirl of synths — swirling and percolating, not without melody but slow and those sounds darken the track.  Which seems appropriate for a known abuser of women.

@@@ French Vanilla: How Am I Not Myself (Danger Collective, 2019) Ska infused dance punk I got to via this week’s All Music notable release email.  I like the female singer here and she and the band bring a Devo flavored spiky weirdness to their tunes.  Big energy, occasional dance beats and a horn section these guys have an interesting party going on.

@@@ Santana: Africa Speaks (Concord, 2019)  Old school hippie guitar hero Santana has a new record out that I got to via this week’s All Music notable release email.  After a spoken word opening about Africa being the cradle of civilization Santana’s huge guitar tone and shredding begins.  I like it, it’s a bit like a children’s book, but I like Santana though subtlety is not his strength.  Lots percussion (good), lots of Carlos shredding (good) and lots of vocals (not as good).  High energy classic rock/world music.

YTD recordings listened to: 291
Good music, not list worthy: 172
Not good music: 102

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

Music for 5/14/19!!! Satori, Quiet Earth, Luke Combs

@@@ Satori: Makhtub (Crosstown Records, 2017)  I got to this world/trance/New Age artist from a gig announcement from the hoity toity BK music club National Sawdust.  The opening tune (clipped below) featurs some cool chopped and glitched Middle Eastern string sounds and some less cool vocal parts.  It’s a slow jam but I have a feeling this next track is gonna be a dancefloor banger.  Noop, wrong again.  I like the third tune, Dive Into the Mystic, but if you desire a hypnotic trance-like listening experience from that part of the world I would recommend any number of Tinariwen records over this.  I like parts of this but I want it to hit harder.

@@@ Quiet Earth: Desertion/Migration (N/A, 2018)  This two song blast of distortion and punk/metal/rock energy is off an Invisible Oranges looking back at underrated music of 2018.  It’s a duo record and they kick it out for a duo but the drummer is also listed as the bass player and if he’s playing those two instruments at the same time, well then he gets a friggin’ gold star for that.  More than solid shit to harvest the crust from your eyes.  I little drano for your soul.  Sonically the sounds lean more punk than metal as it has a spill-y less manicured feel to it than most metal.

@@@ Luke Combs: Beer Never Broke My Heart (Sony, 2019)  Some new country off the Apple Music hot tracks section.  The blend of power rock guitar playing and banjo always spins my head a bit til I reconcile those two sounds, but the hook is good and could probably do better as an official anthem for the Beer Brewer’s Association of America.  Combs has a suitably gruff voice and I think I would enjoy this song more if it was more straight redneck and less mainstream rock.

YTD recordings listened to: 250
Good music, not list worthy: 146
Not good music: 90

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

Music for 4/9/17!!! Gabriel Zucker, Rodan

@@@ Gabriel Zucker: Weighting (ESP-Disk, 2018) I got to this quartet jazz record via a gig announcement email from Brooklyn club Roulette.  Instrumentation is sax, trumpet, piano, and drums.  The first tune, Would It Come Back to You?, is a trumpet and sax duo with pleasant interplay between the two horns.  The second tune is slower, bringing in the piano and the drums.  Overall the feel is laidback and a little bit out.  I like the sound of the record and the playing but the energy is a tad low and it’s reminiscent of some old school ECM records of highbrow aspirations.  I dig the trumpet player and the piano player the most.

@@@ Rodan: The Hat Factory 93 (Self-released, 2019) Uh oh, somebody popped a couple of red bulls in a room full of amplifiers.  I like it.  This is a bandcamp record of the day but apparently not all of it is available.  It’s got some big Fugazi flavorings which is a flavor I dig.  It moves out of that punky flavor into a mathy section and there’s gonna be a lot of sections as it’s an 11 minute track.    They get into low altitude vocal intonation that gives the tune serious contrast with the storm of guitars and drums.  I was just playing the recommended track for first impressions but they look to be working a partially indie, somewhat indie, and partial punk neighborhood.  For example the first tune opens with an extended two guitar and one bass clean jam.  I like this without loving it.

YTD recordings listened to: 185
Good music, not list worthy: 113
Not good music: 64

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, 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, 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

Best of 2018

**** not arranged by preference ****

1. Courtney John: Ecosystem (Soul Fire, 2017)

A perfectly crafted combination of old school roots reggae flavors with a great band and a singer I like a whole bunch. The band is tight and relaxed simultaneously with space for organ solos, guitar business, etc.

2. Guy One: #1 Best (Philophon, 2018)

A unique large ensemble African record from Ghana that sports elements of Afrobeat this record smokes from beginning to end. Great playing, great singing and high energy. This is about as good as music gets. I have spun the fuck out of this record all year.

3. Melissa Laveaux: Radyo Swivel EP (No Format, 2018)

It must suck to be a Williamsburg indie hipster and see how a Haitian Canadian woman who lives in Paris does your hipster indie songwriter thing better than you could dream of.

4. Magrudergrind: II (Relapse, 2016)

All the players in the band are above average and they are tighter than a welldigger’s ass in the middle of the winter but it’s the drummer who takes the gold star. He thrashes, he sprays, he grooves, he drives the bus.

5. Irreversible Entanglements: Irreversible Entanglements (International Anthem, 2017)

This free jazz trio plays really well but the woman on the microphone doing the spoken word part is the star here and they burn all the way through. She coughs up more than a few cutting lines, especially in the first piece. Check it out.

6. Los Texmaniacs: Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways, 2018)

This is a beautiful and super musical mariachi record regardless of the politics involved here. Needless to say Trump is a fucking asshole and I’m a fan of Mexican culture. I’m particularly impressed with the accordion player but I’m super into accordion. Everybody in this band plays and sings at a super high level.

7. The Ballantynes: Liquor Store Gun Store Pawn Shop Church (La Ti Da, 2013)

If you took the Blues Brothers and put ’em in flannel shirts and gave them a lot of any old school white trash beer and removed the horn section and the frat boy bullshit you would have something very close to this record. It’s a guitar driven soul/rock record with a lot of guitars, a male and a female singer that both do good work with a slap-tastic ramped up band.

8. American Lips: Kiss the Void (Ancient Fashion, 2017)

It’s not easy to make a mainstream hooky rock record and have it sound fresh. These guys do a good job of recreating an early ’80s half punk/No Wave kind of thing but with a pop sensibility and plenty of hooks.

9. 700 Bliss: Spa 700 (Don Giovanni, 2018)

Organic electronic production and a pleasantly confrontational African American female MC/singer/spoken word artist headline this EP. A friend of mine says this has a retro electro feel but I’m not schooled enough in old school electro to know.

10. Tim Hecker: Konoyo (Kranky, 2018)

Tim Hecker’s new record, Konoyo, is dark. And it’s also unsettling. It’s also extremely well put together and beautiful. It is an ambient music record without drums or over rhythms with an emphasis on metallic sounds and bell like sounds

11. Shad: A Short Story About War (Secret City, 2018)

The lyrics on this record outperform — smart, conceptual, well thought out. It’s called a concept record but I think that’s bogus. Just because an MC is intelligent enough to connect warmongering with capitalism does not a concept album make. It’s called thinking motherfuckers.

The arrangements here are really good with no particular bent except maybe a retro thread — there are some jazzy sounds and mellow ones and there are more driving and urgent arrangements (for example the tune clipped below).

12. Vaudou Game: Otodi (Hot Casa, 2018) A tour de force of all funk genres with an absolutely ripping drummer and fantastic band energy. It’s hard to believe humans can be this funky.

13. Open Mike Eagle: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music, 2017)

I got to this hip hop record at the very beginning of this year but have struggled as to whether to put it on the ’17 or ’18 list so I’m going to put it on both as it’s that good. Incredibly well done lyrics and ear catching (but not poppy per se) arrangements take listeners to a whole ‘nother place. I can’t begin to praise the way this record is put together and executed, it’s hip hop and beyond hip hop at the same time.

14. Paul de Jong: You Fucken Sucker (Temporary Residence, 2018) In an era of shiny, happy people taking our civilization right over the cliff de Jong mixes the personal and implies the political with a tune like You Fucken Sucker. In addition to that nugget of true indie misery the ambient pieces towards the back of the record could be portraits of the opioid mind or the economically downtrodden or the millions of disconnected folks out there. Life is messy as fuck but rarely does that mess make it onto wax and the interwebz. DISCLAIMER: I worked on this record and I work with this musician.

15. Hernan Sama & Marcelo von Schultz: Sonidos desde el camp para los animales y la vida salvaje (Self-released, 2018)

What makes a great free jazz hit? It’s a slippery question. This self-released sax/drums set ticks all the boxes for me. A little Ayler, a little Mu Sessions and just a freshness to the playing or a desire to play what other people might expect.

16. Tal National: Tantabara (Tal National/Fat Cat, 2018) I don’t usually go for the super stuffed songs but the melodic complexity of the guitarists combined with the drummer and the active singers makes for a glorious hot African mess. When they lean into the central grooves of the tunes it is ecstatic in nature.

17. Gouge Away: Burnt Sugar (Deathwish Inc, 2018) I have a soft spot for the angry female punk singers. Though these guys get into more than straight ahead power chord punk bashing they sport a classic up in your grille attitude. I don’t idolize the gent but it has that ragged Nirvana Bleach era energy and the drummer here kills it. They all kill it.

18. Babylon Trio: Habibi (Rebel Up, 2018)

Iraqi refugee musicians tear it up with Arabic street music flavored with euro club flourishes and some of the cheesiest and partyistic synth patches in years. The energy and the messiness of it is so refreshing. It’s ‘I don’t give a fuck’ messiness and not ‘I can’t play straight’ messiness.

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

Music for 9/24/18!! French Montana, Young Father

I am finishing up on a brief tour working as a live sound and video projection dude so massive listening is not possible.  Onwards and remember you always get what you pay for.

@@@ French Montana (featuring Drake): No Stylist (N/A, 2018)  The #1 track in the Apple Music hot tracks section.  I would call this glamorous trap music with fat bottom but buffed up and polished rhymes about Gucci bags, Lear Jets, and women getting wet.  Probably not from the great conversation but bank account wetness.  Drake cuts in with a nasal rap that contrasts with Montana’s husky then falsetto business.  Don’t call this motherfucker until the checks clear, naimsayin’.  I will say for the umpteenth time that it is a bit inconsistent to denounce this behavior in CEOs and in Trump’s house but celebrate it here in popular culture.  It would be nice if we got our shit straight or at least more straight and less crooked.  I don’t care about Trump’s wealth, and I don’t care about French Montana’s Gucci handbags.  I really could give a fuck.

@@@ Young Father: Toys (N/A, 2018)  Also in the Apple hot tracks section.  It’s an art school hip hop punk project and I think I’ve heard tracks from this record which came out in the spring but it has been revived in the hot tracks section in the fall.  If you want to mix up your nihilistic punk vibes with your hip hop/r&b type beats then I would recommend the gents at Sleaford Mods.  Their lyrics are much more acidic and they punch their weight.  This tune uses more conceptual lyrics that detract from the straight ahead kraut bass and the squirty, slightly chopped beats.

YTD recordings listened to: 541
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 286
Not good music: 224

Best: 9
Honorable Mentions: 5

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, Forro in the Dark, 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, Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Orlando Lopez, Moskus, Kendl Winter, KEN mode, Automatisme