@@@ Marissa Anderson: Lost Futures (Thrill Jockey, 2021) Slotted as folk it opens up with decidedly traditional folk guitars, a bit surprising for a hipster label like Thrill Jockey. One guitar in each ear, both taking occasional runs, they’re recorded really well so you can hear all the details. I mean, for a person like myself, this most definitely is super manicured and shiny so I categorize it as music for people with jobs. I’m checking out the opening track, News About Heaven, and it features a super lush spacious electric guitar presented in epic Daniel Lanois fashion, like Jesus himself is picking a telecaster and it washes over the rednecks below. This album should find its fans. Oh, the cello brings a serious feel to the music though it’s sporadic and tucked in the back of the bus. Rosa Parks rode at the back of the bus, ain’t no shame in that.
@@@ Andrew Cyrille Quartet: Go Happy Lucky (ECM, 2021) Both listens today are off last week’s All Music notable release email. Going into this listen I will say Andrew Cyrille is a serious musician and often I do not like the sound of ECM recordings. Too New Age-y for me. The instrumentation is Cryille on drums, guitar, bass and piano. I went in the opposite direction where lead instruments usually get listed first. While I’m sure Bill Frisell is an outstanding person, I personally can not abide his playing nor his tone. It has a snooziness I find quite tiresome. It’s the sonic equivalent of overcooked and mushy rice noodles. I love how the drums sounds here, wide and clear, but overall the playing is quite brunch-y and sorta Republican. This is where a lot of jazz is these days and I understand I’m in the minority. I like the piano solo a bunch for its simple against the grain playing, but oy the guitar.
@@@ Tony Monaco: Root Down (Chicken Coup Records, 2021) I saw this up on the Twatter and it’s slotted as jazz on Apple Music but to my ears it’s sneaking in the door of jazz and belongs in the Meters’ funk part of town. Very modern recording style with guitar, organ, and drums. I’m pretty sure there’s no bassist here and the organ is holding it down, it’s a bit unclear to my ears. It’s a funky and friendly thing they have going here, nothing particularly groundbreaking in its formula but great music to bbq some tofu?
@@@ The Crown: Royal Destroyer (Metal Blade, 2021) I realized over the weekend that I haven’t been getting my fill of heavy metal. In the age of the interwebz that’s not a hard situation to remedy. I found this track on a list with a bunch of duds but this is quite a beatdown. And if the idea of a beatdown seems odd, the second title is ‘Let the Hammering Begin!’ Well played. It’s an updated classic metal sound which I don’t usually enjoy but this has a certain aggro vibe that really animates the proceedings. I’ve attached the third tune ‘Motordeath’ and it’s got a most excellent guitar sound and very tasty thrash drumming. I like the singer and that’s rare for me in heavy metal.
@@@ Bonniesongs: Ice Cream (Small Pond, 2019) I’m on the mailing list for many non-American music periodicals and I got to this track via an online music magazine out of Australia. This is some modified rock and I believe I hear cowbell — oh glorious cowbell, the perfect hand percussion. Most notable is Bonniesongs’ voice which is almost painfully waif-ish, she sounds less than 10 years old. This is not a put down it’s an observation of the tone of her voice. If you took her out of the track it would be a pretty ordinary. The track is a celebration of ice cream, and both ironically and fittingly she’ll have vanilla! That about concludes the review right there. Straight rock beat with a schmear of cowbell, a fair amount of electric guitar and the waif voice! Will you have vanilla??? It’s up to you.
@@@ Theo Croker: (Sony Music, 2021) I saw this jazz trumpeter shouted out on the Twatter. Love the Twatter! Wow, this is a trip. Snippets of what sounds like an indigenous drum circle opens the track and then is played along with by the musicians on the track at the same tempo. I’m not sure what to think of that. Otherwise it’s a bottom heavy straight jazz/jazz fusion-y type formula. The drum circle is brought in again and I don’t think I like the effect it produces. Croker is the trumpeter here and he’s all right, it’s hard to compete with how much is going on this track but it’s more of an ensemble piece with the solo laid over it. Like the bass player, don’t love the snare sound, and the trumpet sounds a bit weird and kinda cool at the same time.
@@@ Doja Cat, The Weeknd: You Right (RCA, 2021) I’m not a huge Weeknd guy but this Doja Cat seems to be blowing up. It’s a midtempo love track, breathy with chill keyboards and 808 beats. The Weeknd is just as feminine sounding as Doja Cat and I find that interesting. I like it all right but it doesn’t move me. Sounds are solid, production is good, I don’t think the chorus hook is that great, that’s the view from here.
@@@ Nate Smith: Bounce Parts 1 & II (Ropeadope, 2017) Sitting in that spot right between funk and jazz, this album is for anybody who loves to hear records by drummers who pump the drums high as shit in the mix. The horn playing is really good, maybe not as abstract and fiery as I would prefer but it fits what’s going on here. Guitar playing also high end but also a bit restrained. The drums sounds fucking great, fully pimped with clarity. This is not your basement Funkadelic with grit, it’s a corporate sounding effort. Peoples love that, I think it could use a bit more dirt but that’s just me. I’m listening to this effort because the second record of a trilogy of records is coming out in September. I want to be educated on it. I like it more at the beginning than at the end which isn’t the greatest sign.
@@@ Syd: Missing Out (Sony, 2021) I got to this via the UK music mag Crack Magazine. Major label electro so I’m expecting the full cheese explosion in the chorus. It opens with a delicious thick slice of pie of synth over which Syd does a breathy, dare I say classy horny singing performance type thing. The chorus is not kicking out the cheese, it’s goes into a ‘you’re missing out’ mantra thing. Lots of Prince feels here and I dig the sounds but I could use a little more in the arrangement. Hey that’s just me. For a major label this is quality. I don’t need a lot more, I’m not a greedy bitch but a bit more would be better for me.
@@@ Masabumi Kikuchi: Little Abi ( , ) I saw this Japanese jazz musician shouted out on the twatter. Oh typical internet bullshit. There’s a posthumous record of this musician coming out and I’m listening to the pre-release track called Little Abi but I can’t find it on the GooglePimpTube. Not that they’re obligated GooglePimpTube, lord knows they have a lot to do to destroy the world. It’s a solo piano jam and it’s pretty straight and contemplative. The playing is impressively light in touch and without putting anything perjorative into this statement it’s really nice background music. I’m more a fan of foreground music, music that grabs you and pulls you in.
@@@ Kate Tempest: Picture a vacuum (Lux, 2016) A friend of mine said he was grooving on this record and then he went to say I had reviewed it but I listen to so much music that I did not recognize the name. Let me peep it again. This is the opening of the track and it’s beatless and dominated by Tempest’s British accent, the region I know not. A gloomy Nine Inch Nails thing starts to emerge beneath her street poetry giving it a distinctly dystopian vibe. I let the player click through to the next track and it’s a more straightforward affair with krautrock feels and it’s a spoken word song. I like her words, they hint at something larger than life while depicting mundane human situations. I’m not sure I feel the entire electro backing for her voice as it gives the whole thing a sci fi feel that works very well in places but an acoustic instrument up in here could help as well.
@@@ Evan Williams: Bodies Upon the Gears (Parma, 2021) A Youtube live show I got to via an email from Parma Records in New Hampshire (one of the great anuses of America). As this is a live, Covid inspired new performance this is a Youtube only thing. Instrumentation is flute, sax and electronics including vocal samples, most notably the words ‘Bodies Upon the Gears’ in the opening section. The improvisation on this is a blend of jazz and classical influenced sounds. I like the voice the most and then my ear is caught by the flute after that and the sax player is my least favorite component of this track. Just personal preference. Overall my feeling is that this is a type of feel good performance for well intentioned boozhy types with more a focus on the concept than the execution of it.
@@@ Afro Yaqui Music: We Refuse to be Used and Abused (Ben Barson, 2021) I can’t remember how I got to this large ensemble jazz with rock feels to it but I dig it. Some awful big horn lines here with slinky bass and some cutting funk drums that could be higher in the mix. I’ve peeped excerpts of two other tunes and they are distinctly more Latin with a female singer featured in both of them. I’m not sure if it’s the same female singer but I like the Latin feels more than the big band flow. I have to go pick my wife up at the food coop so I will have to return to this music but I like this third tune La Cigarra, it gets pretty out there.
@@@ Hasaan Ibn Ali: Ominivore (Atlantice, 2021) This is a re-release or a long lost oldie from a jazz pianist who rocked it with Max Roach back in the ’60s. I even have a trio record with this gent on it. Well I regret to inform my readers but this record is not on Apple Music nor is it on bandcamp and that’s a shame as I hate to listen on the GooglePimpTube, the sound quality sucks and I fucking hate Google. But I will carry on. This will be just over 1+ minutes of a trailer highlighting Ali’s bounce. I know he’s important as he came out Philadelphia which has produced jazz cats in the shadow of New York. If you want a longer taste of how Ali rolled you can check out his record with Max Roach as that’s on Apple Music. I guess they think folks will hear him and then go buy a compact disc, something I haven’t done in a long ass time. I’m sorry I can’t hear this musician as the excerpt sounds like his playing is more adventurous on this record he made and then shelved than on the Max Roach record.
@@@ Visionist: The Fold (Mute, 2021) Electronic music, I’ve been feeling electronic music for a while. This opens up quite abstract with a little grinding machine, a little spinning gear, and a little sphincter flappy. Then comes the fast tempo kick drum, that’s pretty much it for standard musical tones. Sounds like the sector of Hell where they’re processing folks, quite dark, lots of energy and ominous. I guess mopey folks could dance to this. I’m just listening to it but you could dance to it I suppose. Shit stain I was listening to the next track Lie Digging. I’m on the right track, it’s hard to be low IQ, but this one is completely different as it has a piano and a singer and ringing chords, and a big reverb patch and it’s more than a bit Lord of the Rings. Maybe an after battle tune where they’re collecting the dead and stealing their boots. I think a plain presentation of the singer would have been more effective, the singer brings the drama already so no need to pump it to this point. I’m gonna finish up — this is some Tori Amos type business but a darker and more dramatical if that were possible.
@@@ Painted Shrines: Gone (Woodsist, 2021) A cross between jangly indie and more retro guitar driven indie rock. The most notable component of the track here is the singer’s tone — higher register and he sounds more than a bit like a ghost. I think that’s the effect he’s going for to be honest. Very nice snare sound, it’s cutting right through, this is the kind of shit I listen to when listening to a record, I appreciate a great snare sound. The guitar player could use a bit of Red Bull as it’s very straight stuff from that part of the band. Familiar formula, freak singer. Lyrics, they’re just passing right by me, I’m agnostic.
@@@ Charles Lloyd & The Marvels: Lady Gabor (Blue Note, 2021) All of today’s listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. This is a midtempo laidback groover driven by flute and backed by chill guitar, some tom driven drumming and big washes of sound. To my ear they’ve taken some of the Henry Threadgill larger ensemble and removed all the quirky jank from it to make it go over better with the flavored coffee crowd. This is most definitely jazz music for people with jobs who shower regularly and believe we have a good society going. I appreciate the flute playing but it’s just too much like a big bowl of vanilla pudding — I would love some crunch and a little bit of not vanilla pudding. Am I dick for writing what I like and what I don’t like, only time will tell?
@@@ Cory Hanson: Pale Horse Rider (Drag City, 2021) A pre release track from hipster label Drag City. The tune is mostly rooted in mid to late ’70s Neil Young faded piano rock business but adds a bit of epicness and just a wee bit of New Age feels into it. It’s not plain, it’s adorned. So much here depends on the singer and Hanson’s voice is quite mellow and engaging — lacking the fragility of Young’s voice that has driven his legend for decades. I’m finding the arrangement a bit tilted towards comforting sounds and it could benefit from a little of not that for contrast. It jams out in its final bits and there is a lot of good stuff here but I’ve made my feelings clear.
@@@ Nubiyan Twist: Buckle Up (Strut, 2021) I’ve never quite absorbed the greatness of African jazz even from luminaries like Tony Allen but I’m open to it. Unfortunately this will not be the breakthrough for me as the sounds here draw on late ’70s fusion and a bit of ’80s r&b stylings. I am most decidedly not a fusion dude. The performances are tight as you would expect from the vast majority of African outfits, but the singer here doesn’t work for me. Obviously this is my opinion and others might feel quite differently.
@@@ Howard Johnson: Gravity (Self-released, 2017) I got an email from a jazz music publicist announcing this musician’s passing and I just found it again as I was cleaning out my inbox. Mr. Johnson was a multi-instrumentalist but mostly a tube player (I think) and there are few folks walking the planet who love tuba more than me. I guarantee you that. So let’s celebrate the tuba and this man at the same time. I’m listening to Mr. Johnson’s 2017 record Gravity and I will have to check the instrumentation on the interwebz as there may be more than one tube here! What a gift to have a multi-tuba record. Jazz is such a red headed stepchild in the basement that I can’t find the musicians listed on this record with a quick GooglePimp but if my ears don’t deceive there is more than one tuba here. It’s a bit surprising to hear a blazing tuba solo but man he’s hits it here. The drummer is quite energetic, the mix is super clean and I find the piano to be an interesting instrument to go with the tuba. The second tune has a female singer and the third tune is ballad-y so this looks set not to sprawl but also not be confined to a straight jazz set. I’m not the hugest straight jazz guy but my love for the tuba drives this listen. Check it out if you haven’t experienced tuba madness.
@@@ Patricia Brennan: Maquishti (Valley of Search, 2021) I saw this NYC, Mexico born vibraphonist’s new record shouted out on the Twatter, and there are few people who love the sound of vibraphone more than me. I love that instrument and tuba too! The first tune, Blame it, is solo and it’s interesting and contemplative and a tad melancholy. She’s got a little electro processing on this second track, I think it’s a delay but it’s very slight and does have a postive effect on the track. I’m really into these first two tunes and think this is a pretty fantastic solo vibraphone record. I’m definitely going to circle back and listen to more of it when I have more time — it has its own thing going on for sure. A unique take on vibe jazz.
@@@ Ivorian Doll: Daily Duppy (Self-released, 2020) I don’t know anything about this rapper but Crack Magazine sent out a weekly email highlighting four rappers and Ms. Doll was among them. She’s from the UK but the accent is not super thick and I can hear a lot of her rhymes as opposed to some of the gents who are tougher to understand. She’s pretty fierce and the arrangement is dark but not without a little pop sweetener. Somebody did some really nice work on the bass sounds here as the separation and the tone are fantastico. Beats are tight but distinctly un-American with a few drum ‘n bass feels.