Monday, November 2, 2015

Music Week

Music: Current count 25691 [25653] rated (+38), 439 [447] unrated (-8).

A busy week, in all regards except unpacking. Rated count is back up after last week's dip. I got a jump there by looking at everything I hadn't previously heard on Alfred Soto's "third quarter report" (ASAP Rocky, Speedy Ortiz, Florence + the Machine, Brandon Flowers, Angel Haze, Destroyer, Robert Forster, Janet Jackson). Some good records there, but nothing I especially loved. Still, the exercise did send me back to Forster's best-of (didn't get to Grant McLennan's companion comp, something I should remedy; at least with McLennan I'm more familiar with the source albums, a couple of which I've A-listed -- Watershed and Horsebreaker Star).

Most importantly, Michael Tatum published a new A Downloader's Diary last week. (My archive copy is here.) Not a lot there I hadn't heard already -- Deerhunter, Forster, and Destroyer are in my list this week but I got them earlier, without the benefit of Tatum's advice. (I came up with slightly lower grades for Deerhunter, Forster, and Jill Scott -- any of which could be chalked up to lack of patience with records a bit outside of my wheelhouse.) Aside from ratings quibbles, I should point out that the Heems and even more so the Kendrick Lamar reviews rank among the year's best music writing.

I did get two A-list records from Robert Christgau's Expert Witness this week: Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog and Jeffrey Lewis' Manhattan. I gave them two spins each -- not enough to rise beyond A-, although Lewis was getting better, and I can certainly see the appeal of Anderson's stories (I'm just not as swept away by the music as I was by Strange Angels, or even Home of the Brave). I'll probably break down and order copies of both, but actually the new record that impressed me the most this week was Lyrics Born's Real People (also two spins). Evidently it came out in May but the first I heard of it was when it showed up on one of Mosi Reeves' Rhapsody lists. Tom Shimura is as much a cult-favorite among Christgauvians as Anderson or Lewis, so I'm surprised no one flagged it. (Or did I just slip up and not notice?)

Very rare that I actually buy records any more: after Yesterdays closed there are no decent record stores in Wichita, and the impulse buys I would occasionally pick up at Best Buy petered out as their inventory continued to shrink. I do continue to buy books, though not often music books. (I did feel a desire to own, but haven't yet read, Michaelangelo Matos' The Underground Is Massive.) I was tempted last week by the two Allen Lowe books I don't own: Really the Blues? A Horizontal Chronicle of the Vertical Blues, 1893-1959 (the companion to his massive 36-CD trawl through blues history) and, especially, God Didn't Like It: Electric Hillbillies, Singing Preachers, and the Beginning of Rock and Roll, 1950-1970, but I got weak knees in Paypal hell (maybe later).

However, the book I did order, and want to offer a preëmptive plug for, is Tim Niland's Music and More: Selected Blog Posts 2003-2015. I've been reading Niland's Music and More blog for many years now, not so much to find new music (since we seem to be on the exact same mailing lists) as to check my sanity. Blogs are pretty much designed to be disposable but his is the opposite: if compiled into an indexed, searchable Christgau-like website it would be viewed as an essential reference resource. His 822-page book is the next best thing. Bargain-priced, too.

Two more A-listed new jazz albums this week (plus one old one). You may recall that I also liked Nat Birchall's Live in Larissa last year. Maybe the Coltrane-isms are too obvious, but it's not like we'd turn out noses up at a new vault discovery. The fact is I'd take either Birchall album over The Offering (the 1966 tape that swept the polls last year). I've never gotten anything by Birchall in the mail, so reviewing him is strictly a Rhapsody bonus (with the usual caveats: in this case I have no idea who else played on the album, although they're pretty damn good).

Matthew Shipp's trio took a lot more time to suss out -- I must have given it five (maybe six) spins. Without doing any A/B, I think it's his best trio since he moved back away from the jazztronica of last decade, maybe because I hear more of the knockabout rhythmizing of the Ware Quartet and his later albums with Ivo Perelman.

I should probably mention that there will be a memorial "to celebrate the remarkable life of Elizabeth Marcia Fink," who died on September 22. I've seen a very nice invitation, but can't find any public posting of it, so here are the details: the memorial will be on Saturday, November 7, 2015, from 3:00-6:00 pm, at Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway at 121st Street, New York, NY 10027. The invitation asks for RSVP. We're not up for another trip to New York at the moment, but we do miss Liz -- in fact, remark on it every single day.

New records rated this week:

  • Laurie Anderson: Heart of a Dog (2015, Nonesuch): [r]: A-
  • Dennis Angel: On Track (2014 [2015], Timeless Grooves): [r]: B-
  • ASAP Rocky: At.Long.Last.ASAP (2015, Polo Grounds/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nat Birchall: Invocations (2015, Jazzman): [r]: A-
  • Sarah Buechi: Flying Letters (2013 [2014], Intakt): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sarah Buechi: Shadow Garden (2015, Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
  • João Camões/Rodrigo Pinheiro/Miguel Mira: Earnear (2015, Tour de Bras): [cd]: B+(**)
  • João Camões/Jean-Marc Foussat/Claude Parle: Bien Mental (2015, Fou): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Romain Collin: Press Enter (2013 [2015], ACT): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Caroline Davis Quartet: Doors: Chicago Storylines (2013 [2015], Ears & Eyes): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Deerhunter: Fading Frontier (2015, 4AD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Destroyer: Poison Season (2015, Merge): [r]: B+(*)
  • Marcelo Dos Reis/Luis Vicente/Théo Ceccaldi/Valentin Ceccaldi: Chamber 4 (2013 [2015], FMR): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Empress Of: Me (2015, Terrible/XL): [r]: B+(*)
  • Florence + the Machine: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015, Island/Republic): [r]: B
  • Brandon Flowers: The Desired Effect (2015, Virgin EMI): [r]: B+(**)
  • Robert Forster: Songs to Play (2015, Tapete): [r]: B+(**)
  • Angel Haze: Back to the Woods (2015, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • Holly Herndon: Platform (2015, 4AD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Keigo Hirakawa: And Then There Were Three (2014 [2015], self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sam Hunt: Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape (2015, MCA Nashville): [r]: B
  • Janet Jackson: Unbreakable (2015, Rhythm Nation): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hiatus Kaiyote: Choose Your Weapon (2015, Flying Buddha): [r]: B-
  • Emma Larsson: Sing to the Sky (2014 [2015], Origin): [cd]: B
  • Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts: Manhattan (2015, Rough Trade): [r]: A-
  • Lyrics Born: Real People (2015, Mobile Home): [r]: A-
  • Michael Sarian & the Chabones: The Escape Suite (2014-15 [2015], self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Maria Schneider Orchestra: The Thompson Fields (2014 [2015], ArtistShare): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: The Conduct of Jazz (2015, Thirsty Ear): [cd]: A-
  • Slobber Pup: Pole Axe (2015, Rare Noise): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Speedy Ortiz: Foil Deer (2015, Carpark): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Spook School: Try to Be Hopeful (2015, Fortuna Pop): [r]: B+(**)
  • Total Babes: Heydays (2015, Wichita): [r]: B+(*)
  • Webb Wilder: Mississippi Moderne (2015, Landslide): [r]: B+(*)

Old music rated this week:

  • Robert Forster: Intermission: The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997 (1990-97 [2007], Beggars Banquet): [r]: A-
  • Marty Grosz and His Sugar Daddies: On Revival Day: Live at the Atlanta Jazz Party! (1995, Jazzology): [r]: B+(**)
  • Marty Grosz & His Hot Puppies: Rhythm Is Our Business (2000-01 [2003], Sackville): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Law Quartet: Exploded on Impact (1992 [1993], Slam): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Law: Extremely Quartet (1996 [1997], Hat Art): [r]: A-
  • John Law Quartet: Abacus (2000 [2001], Hatology): [r]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Aaron Irwin Quartet: A Room Forever (self-released): November 24
  • Ernie Krivda: Requiem for a Jazz Lady (Capri): November 17

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