Sunday, January 28, 2018


Music Week

Music: current count 31033 [30993] rated (+40), 251 [257] unrated (-6).

After posting yesterday's Weekend Roundup, I read a few more pages into Ben Fountain's Beautiful Country Burn Again (mentioned in the post) and found this bit, so relevant to the week's news:

Even a cursory run through American history shows Exceptionalism has been used to justify monumental bloodshed, oppression, and profit. Cotton Mather saw "the evident hand of God" in the colonists' wholesale slaughter of Native Americans in King Philip's War, a genocide that would eventually roll all the way to the Pacific under the quasi-religious doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Over 300 years of slavery were justified on biblical grounds, as, variously, a means of saving African souls, or adherence to a divinely ordained natural order. For invasion and conquest in the name of liberty and democracy, we have the land grabs in Mexico in 1846-48, the Philippines in 1899-1902, and Panama in 1903. For the softer sorts of grabs -- i.e., imperialism -- in the early twentieth century, the career of Major General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) provides a useful guide to U.S. adventures in Mexico (again), Central America, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and China. A partial list of U.S.-sponsored or actively supported interventions, regime changes, and coups d'état for the latter half of the twentieth century would include Iran (coup, 1953), Guatemala (coup, 1954), Vietnam (coup, 1963; the war, 1965[?]-1973[?]), the Dominican Republic (intervention, 1965), Child (coup, 1973), Argentina (coup, 1976), Nicaragua (war, 1980s), El Salvador (war, 1980s), Panama (invasion, 1989), and Haiti (coup, 1991; invasion, 1994; coup, 2004). Underneath all the high-minded missionary rhetoric, you will usually find the throbbing heart of the profit motive.

You can add Venezuela to that list. In fact, you can wonder why Fountain didn't include it in the first place (or Colombia, which has been the main base for US troops in Latin America for 20-25 years now).


Still spending a lot of time checking out 2018 albums that have shown up on various EOY lists (see my Aggregate), but not finding much there. Three of this week's four A- releases are actually 2019 releases, all jazz, one dating back to 1966-67. Also got into some old music, as I noticed a Curtis Amy reissue, and followed that thread. I've long admired Amy's 1963 album Katanga, so thought it might be fun to hear more.

Expect a Streamnotes on or near the end of the month. I'll freeze my 2018 list then, and try to work up some stats for the year. The Music Tracking file is showing 1074 graded albums in 2018 -- still down from 1185 in 2017, but not as much as I had expected. I was surprised a couple months ago to find my Jazz and Non-Jazz best-of lists were already evenly balanced. Usually I start out with a big jazz advantage, then they even off as I catch up with EOY lists. This year, the opposite has occurred: starting close to even, I'm not up to 63 A/A- jazz, but only only 53 A/A- non-jazz.


I've been trying tonight to do a database update to the Robert Christgau website, and I keep running into character set problems. The database was originally designed and built in 2001, at which point doing everything using Latin-1 (ISO-8859-1 8-bit characters) seemed to make most sense. That was the default for MySQL at the time, but over the years MySQL and damn near everything else moved on to UTF-8. Until recently I've been able to keep chugging along by twiddling various settings to insist on Latin-1. At this point, I'm still able to use mysqldump to create a SQL file with Latin-1 encoding, but when I try to do the same thing through PhpMyAdmin, even when I explicitly specify ISO-8859-1 output, I'm getting a UTF-8 file. While I can use the command line on my machine, I've gotten into the habit of using CPanel and PhpMyAdmin to import my SQL dumps into the public server. Even when I start with a Latin-1 SQL dump file, and set the character set options in PhpMyAdmin to use ISO-8859-1, the import operation seems to be filling the database with UTF-8. The result has been that accented characters coming from the database are garbaged. (Of course, one suspicious thing is that "latin1" seems to be preferred by mysqldump, while PhpMyAdmin insists on "ISO-8859-1.)

A few weeks back, I announced that I would be creating a discussion list for technical and design issues for the Christgau website (and a few others I work on, including my own). Only a few people have written to me to sign up, and I have yet to use the list. If you're willing to help me figure out these technical issues, or if you just want to lurk as I struggle with them, write me and I'll sign you up.


New records rated this week:

  • 10^32K: The Law of Vibration (2018, self-released): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Amnesia Scanner: Another Life (2018, Pan): [r]: B+(*)
  • Baloji: 137 Avenue Kaniama (2018, Bella Union): [r]: B+(***)
  • Boy Azooga: (One) (Two) (Kung Fu!) (2018, Heavenly): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brothers Osborne: Port Saint Joe (2018, EMI Nashville): [r]: B
  • Cloud Nothings: Last Building Burning (2018, Carpark): [r]: B+(**)
  • Christopher Dell/Johannes Brecht/Christian Lillinger/Jonas Westergaard: Boulez Materialism: Live in Concert (2017 [2018], Plaist): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Moppa Elliott: Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band (2017-18 [2019], Hot Cup, 2CD): [cd]: A-
  • Iro Haarla, Ulf Krokfors & Barry Altschul: Around Again: The Music of Carla Bley (2015 [2019], TUM): [cd]: A-
  • Alexander Hawkins: Iron Into Wind: Piano Solo (2018 [2019], Intakt): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Human Feel [Chris Speed/Andrew D'Angelo/Kurt Rosenwinkel/Jim Black]: Gold (2017 [2019], Intakt): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Juan Ibarra Quinteto: NauMay (2017 [2018], self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Jayhawks: Back Roads and Abandoned Motels (2018, Legacy): [r]: B
  • Lil Baby: Harder Than Ever (2018, Quality Control): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lil Baby & Gunna: Drip Harder (2018, Quality Control): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lil Wayne: Tha Carter V (2018, Young Money/Republic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Meek Mill: Championships (2018, Maybach Music Group/Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Proc Fiskal: Insula (2018, Hyperdub): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joey Purp: Quarterthing (2018, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Orquesta Del Tiempo Perdido: Stille (2016-17 [2018], Shhpuma): [r]: B
  • Tom Rainey Trio With Mary Halvorson and Ingrid Laubrock: Combobulated (2017 [2019], Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Mette Rasmussen & Chris Corsano: A View of the Moon (From the Sun) (2015 [2018], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mette Rasmussen/Tashi Dorji: Mette Rasmussen/Tashi Dorji (2016 [2018], Feeding Tube): [bc]: B-
  • Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love: An Oratorio of Seven Songs (2016-17 [2019], TUM): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Teyana Taylor: KTSE [Keep That Same Energy] (2018, GOOD Music/Def Jam, EP): [r]: B
  • Assif Tsahar/William Parker/Hamid Drake: In Between the Tumbling a Stillness (2015 [2018], Hopscotch): [dl]: A-

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

  • Ran Blake/Jeanne Lee: The Newest Sound You Never Heard (1966-67 [2019], A-Side, 2CD): [cd]: A-

Old music rated this week:

  • Curtis Amy & Paul Bryant: The Blues Message (1960, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(***)
  • Curtis Amy & Frank Butler: Groovin' Blue (1961, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Curtis Amy: Way Down (1962, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Curtis Amy: Tippin' On Through (1962, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Curtis Amy: Groovin' Blue/Way Down/Tippin' On Through (1961-62 [2013], Fresh Sound, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Curtis Amy Sextet: Peace for Love (1994, Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee: Free Standards: Stockholm 1966 (1966 [2013], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bryant: Burnin' (1960, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Bryant Featuring Curtis Amy & Jim Hall: The Blues Message (1960 [2010], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bumble Bee Slim: Back in Town (1962, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Curtis Counce: You Get More Bounce With Curtis Counce! (1956-57 [1984], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Curtis Counce Quintet: Exploring the Future (1958, Boplicity): [r]: B+(***)
  • Les McCann Ltd.: On Time (1962, Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(*)