Monday, December 12, 2016


Music Week

Music: Current count 27433 [27403] rated (+30), 385 [369] unrated (+16).

Two leftover thoughts from yesterday's Weekend Roundup:

  1. As I've been saying for much of last year, the surest way for Clinton to lose to Trump is to present herself as a reckless, foolhardy hawk, which she did with all that "who's fit to be Commander-in-Chief" talk, especially combined with her neocon attempts to shame Trump on Russia and Putin. I didn't cite any articles on it yesterday, but ever since the election mainstream Democrats have been harping on the alleged Russian hack of the elections, which makes themselves look pathetic, and gives Trump one issue where he comes off as relatively sane. It also detracts from them scoring real points, like how Clinton received 2.84 million more votes than Trump (a margin of more than 2.0%), or how she did that despite Republican voter suppression efforts. It also wastes time that could be spent exposing the actual things the Trump transition team are doing.

  2. Speaking of which, if there's any theme I've hit on even harder throughout the year it's that the problem with Trump isn't his deviant personality -- even much more than deplorable traits like his racism and misogyny -- but the fact that he's found common cause with extreme right-wingers who have come to dominate and define the Republican Party. Maybe if Republicans had nominated someone like Ted Cruz we could have had a straight referendum on the party's worldview, but Clinton chose to focus on Trump's quirks instead of the real threat, so now we have cretins like Paul Ryan plotting to destroy Social Security and Medicare, while Trump is stocking his cabinet with people who are just fine with that sort of double cross.

One problem with doing these rush posts is that real points, themes even, get lost in the nest of links. Just wanted to reiterate those two points. And I'll add a possible third one: in order for the Democratic Party to provide effective resistance against Trump's oligarchs, they have to actively, consistently, as a matter of principle, oppose war and support and promote equality. Quite frankly, if they don't step up to that challenge -- the real threat that Trump and the Republicans pose -- they're helpless and worthless.


Thirty newly rated albums below. Last time that happened was Oct. 10, eight weeks ago. I still don't have the newly rebuilt computer all hooked up -- still have a printing problem -- and I still haven't restored my unplayed (not to mention played) downloads, but I've been able to listen to Napster and Bandcamp. I've also been plowing through EOY lists, so my searching has been more inspired and better targeted than usual. One result is no less than eleven A- records. In particular, I finally got a chance to catch up with Robert Christgau's last two months of Expert Witness picks. Given how far behind I was, I'm a bit surprised that I didn't concur with more. As it is, I more/less agreed with five (Alicia Keys, Tanya Tagaq, A Tribe Called Quest, Pat Thomas, and Urgent Jumping), while six others didn't quite do it for me (Margaret Glaspy, Macy Gray, Pussy Riot, Regina Spektor, and Jinx Lennon twice).

I also added five A- records to my EOY Jazz List shortly after voting for the Jazz Critics Poll closed -- seems like it always works out that way. Four were late arrivals to my mailbox (Albert Cirera, Eve Risser, Steve Swell, and a vault treat from 1994 with Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart), and I picked up the fifth (Taylor Ho Bynum) on Napster. The eleventh was one by Tom Zé that I only found out about from Phil Overeem's list (also my source for Tyler Keith).

I've continued adding EOY lists to my . EOY Aggregate file. I currently have 97 lists compiled, which I assemble in two weight groups: one for longer lists which scores 5 points (1), 4 (2-5), 3 (6-10), 2 (11-20), and 1 (everything else); the other for shorter lists, scoring 3 (1), 2 (2-5), and 1 (everything else). Unranked lists are noted + (sometimes ++ or +++ if they are somehow tiered). I've also scored grades by Robert Christgau and myself (A/A+ 5, A- 4, B+/*** 3, ** 2, * 1), and will probably do that for Michael Tatum as well. These grades have a minor effect of biasing the results towards things I/we like, but then my point isn't to offer some kind of objective, impersonally scientific ranking. It's, as always, to help identify records worth searching out.

Speaking of which, I've tended to skip over lists dedicated to genres I have no real interest in, which mostly means metal. I'll also note that in addition to Overeem (who picked enough records this year to qualify as a major listmeister), I've picked up a couple lists from Facebook friends where I've noticed them (Thomas Walker and Joe Yanosik). I'll do more of that when I find them. I haven't picked up Chris Monsen's still-evolving favorites list, but at some arbitrary point will do so.

Current standings according to my way of counting (counts in opening brackets, my grades in closing):

  1. [208] David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia) [***]
  2. [182] Beyonce: Lemonade (Columbia/Parkwood) [?]
  3. [162] Frank Ocean: Blonde (Boys Don't Cry) [**]
  4. [144] Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool (XL) [B]
  5. [133] Solange: A Seat at the Table (Saint/Columbia) [**]
  6. [131] Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book (self-released) [A-]
  7. [120] Kanye West: The Life of Pablo (Def Jam/GOOD Music) [***]
  8. [110] A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic) [A-]
  9. [108] Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed) [B-]
  10. [104] Anderson Paak: Malibu (OBE/Steel Wool/ArtClub/Empire) [A-]
  11. [104] Bon Iver: 22 a Million (Jagjaguwar) [*]
  12. [101] Angel Olsen: My Woman (Jagjaguwar) [***]
  13. [92] Anohni: Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian) [*]
  14. [85] Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial (Matador) [***]
  15. [81] Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker (Columbia) [A-]
  16. [73] Kaytranada: 99.9% (XL) [A-]
  17. [71] Mitski: Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans) [*]
  18. [68] Rihanna: Anti (Roc Nation) [A-]
  19. [61] Blood Orange: Freetown Sound (Domino) [A-]
  20. [60] Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition (Warp) [A-]
  21. [59] Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor's Guide to Earth (Atlantic) [***]
  22. [52] Kendrick Lamar: Untitled Unmastered (Top Dawg Entertainment) [***]
  23. [46] Margo Price: Midwest Farmer's Daughter (Third Man) [A-]
  24. [44] Drive-By Truckers: American Band (ATO) [A-]
  25. [40] PJ Harvey: The Hope Six Demolition Project (Vagrant) [**]
  26. [40] Parquet Courts: Human Performance (Rough Trade) [A-]
  27. [40] Skepta: Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know) [***]
  28. [38] The 1975: I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (Dirty Hit/Interscope) [*]
  29. [38] Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista) [*]
  30. [36] Young Thug: [No My Name Is] Jeffery (300 Entertainment/Atlantic) [A-]

Album of the Year's Aggregate has same top seven, but a closer race for the top spot (Bowie over Beyoncé 286-282), and Solange ahead of Radiohead (225-208), They actually have the same top-twenty records, with the big difference that they move Angel Olsen up from 12th (my list) to 8th. From 21-30 they add Jenny Hval (31-26), The Avalanches (33-28), and Savages (38-29), in place of Drive-By Truckers (24-31), Parquet Courts (26-36), and Young Thug (30-37) -- three records graded A- or better by both Christgau and myself, so there's my cheat for you. (I have Hval C+, Avalanches B, Savages ***.)

My next project will be tallying the Jazz Critics Poll ballots, which I finally have but haven't really cracked into yet.


New records rated this week:

  • Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman: Lice Two: Still Buggin' (2016, Stones Throw, EP): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Aziza Brahim: Abbar El Hamada (2016, Glitterbeat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Burial: Young Death/Nightmarket (2016, Hyperdub, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Taylor Ho Bynum: Enter the Plustet (2016, Firehouse 12): [r]: A-
  • Joăo Camőes/Jean-Marc Foussat: Ŕ La Face du Ciel (2014 [2016], Shhpuma): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Dikeman/Luis Vicente/Hugo Antunes/Gabriel Ferrandini: Salăo Brazil (2016, NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(*)
  • Paolo Fresu & Omar Sosa: Eros (2016, Otá): [r]: B+(*)
  • Margaret Glaspy: Emotions and Math (2016, ATO): [r]: B+(**)
  • Macy Gray: Stripped (2016, Chesky): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Kastan: Roll the Dice on Life (2016 [2017], Kastan, 2CD): [cd]: C+
  • Tyler Keith & the Apostles: Do It for Johnny (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Alicia Keys: Here (2016, RCA): [r]: A-
  • Lady Gaga: Joanne (2016, Streamline/Interscope): [r]: B
  • Jinx Lennon: Past Pupil Stay Home (2016, Septic Tiger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jinx Lennon: Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift Grief Magnets (2016, Septic Tiger): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bruno Mars: 24K Magic (2016, Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Mark Pritchard: Under the Sun (2016, Warp): [r]: B+(*)
  • Pussy Riot: XXX (2016, Nice Life, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (2016, Clean Feed): [cd]: A-
  • The Rolling Stones: Blue & Lonesome (2016, Polydor): [r]: B+(***)
  • Daniel Romano: Mosey (2016, New West): [r]: B-
  • Ned Rothenberg/Mark Feldman/Sylvie Courvoisier: In Cahoots (2014 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Regina Spektor: Remember Us to Life (2016, Sire): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (2015 [2016], RogueArt): [cdr]: A-
  • Tanya Tagaq: Retribution (2016, Six Shooter): [r]: A-
  • A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service (2016, Epic): [r]: A-
  • William Tyler: Modern Country (2016, Merge): [r]: B+(*)
  • Wilco: Schmilco (2016, dBpm): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tom Zé: Cançőes Eróticas de Ninar (2016, Circus): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart: The Crave (1994 [2016], NoBusiness): [cdr]: A-
  • Steve Lehman Camouflage Trio: Interface (2003, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joe McPhee & Raymond Boni: Live From the Magic City (Birmingham, Alabama) (1985 [2016], Trost): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Pat Thomas: Coming Home: Original Ghanaian Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1967-1981 (1967-81 [2016], Strut, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Urgent Jumping: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics (1972-82 [2016], Sterns Africa, 2CD): [r]: A-

Old music rated this week:

  • Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings: Other Stories (2003-05 [2005], 482 Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (2008, Hatology): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Peter Brötzmann/Steve Swell/Paal Nilssen-Love: Live in Copenhagen (Not Two)
  • Club D'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki (Face Pelt): January 10
  • Sandy Cressman: Entre Amigos (Cressman Music): February 3
  • Dog Leg Dilemma: Not This Time (self-released): January 6
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Sedimental You (Clean Feed)
  • Laura Dubin Trio: Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (self-released, 2CD): January 6
  • Dre Hocevar: Transcendental Within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder (Clean Feed)
  • Donny Most: Swinging Down the Chimney Tonight (Summit, EP)
  • Motif: My Head is Listening (Clean Feed)
  • Michael Occhipinti: Stabilimento (Modica Music)
  • Evan Parker/Daunik Lazro/Joe McPhee: Seven Pieces: Live at Willisau 1995 (Clean Feed)
  • Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (Clean Feed)
  • Ned Rothenberg/Mark Feldman/Sylvie Courvoisier: In Cahoots (Clean Feed)
  • Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home (Eden River): January 27
  • Steve Swell: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Improviser (Swell)
  • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (RogueArt): cdr
  • Steve Swell/Gebhard Ullmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Michael Zerang: The Chicago Plan (Clean Feed)