The Best Non-Jazz Albums of 2013

Year after year I present my year-end lists as just that: long, mind-numbing lists like I use every day to keep track of the current year (e.g., 2013, 2012, etc.). Other people's lists generally have cover scans and brief write-ups, and it occurred to me that I have all that. Why not just table it up? I did this for the jazz albums part of my list back when I filed my ballot for the Jazz Critics Poll (the file has subsequently been updated to January 6, 2014). So this is the other side of the coin: the non-jazz list.

For A-list only: [*] indicates that I reviewed this on the basis of an advance, often a CDR copy (a good thing, I might add, for vinyl-only releases). [**] identifies a record that I've only heard via download or through a streaming service like Rhapsody.

For all lists, I've included 2012 (and in rare cases earlier) records rated after the freeze date (Jan. 1, 2013) that were so obscure they received less than five points in the 2012 metacritic file. These are marked, e.g., '12, after the label. Another 73 2012 releases (nearly all non-jazz) were graded after the freeze date but fail the metacritic test: I was aware of nearly all of those but simply got to them late.

New Music: Non-Jazz

1. MIA: Matangi (Interscope) Always attracted by the beats, the third world allure, both for escape and revolution, but I never spent that much time with her previous albums, only to hit on this one mostly because I had trouble writing about it. Wound up just quoting one profound line: "You keep on telling me you want to have it all/Tell me what for?"
2. The Uncluded: Hokey Fright (Rhymesayers Entertainment) Duo, rapper Aesop Rock and anti-folksinger Kimya Dawson. His weak spot is writing more words than he can possibly find music for; hers is that her musical imagination rarely goes beyond nursery rhymes. But they do more than cancel out each other's weak spots: he makes her funkier, and she makes him smarter.
3. Rachid Taha: Zoom (Wrasse) Superstar from Algeria, a wreck of a country he's left way behind, except for the Arabic language and frantic atonality, but even those limits he breaks with startling ease. [**]
4. The White Mandingos: The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me (Fat Beats) Rapper Nick Carter (aka Murs) with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer and Ego Trip magazine founder Sacha Jenkins, plus someone on drums: basically a punk trio with a rapper. Doesn't push the noise envelope like Death Grips, and I figure that to be a plus. [**]
5. Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold (What's Your Rupture?) Advance buzz put this on a handful of 2012 EOY lists -- more so than any other album with a 2013 release date. Group founded in Austin, moved to Brooklyn, their postpunk is nearly pristine (or at least classic) excepting two cuts at the end.
6. Deltron 3030: Event 2 (Bulk) Back in 2000 rapper Del the Funkee Homosapien, producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, and turntablist Kid Koala got together for a one shot sci-fi album called Deltron 3030. Well, they're back, and projected even further into the future. [**]
7. Wayne Hancock: Ride (Bloodshot) Sounds more like Hank Williams than Hank III, and on "Long Road Home" wrote a song that would do Hank proud. More mundanely, three songs feature "blues" in the title, and that doesn't count "Deal Gone Down" -- or proof he really is a modern guy: "Cappuccino Boogie." [**]
8. Deerhunter: Monomania (4AD) Opens with two cuts of thrash noise that coheres in unexpected ways, quite an accomplishment. Then come songs barely framed by the noise, and by the end of the album they're skittering across their sound so adroitly I wound up flashing on Pavement.
9. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City (XL) Every time I play it, it gets tighter, with more odd details fitting together like jewel work. Also that the singer sounds like a slightly less British Paul Heaton, even showing some of his humanity. Still, I wonder what all this vampire shit is about. Is civilization so lost the non-human has become a refuge? Or do young people just want to dress up?
10. The Julie Ruin: Run Fast (Dischord) Kathleen Hanna, formerly of riot grrrl groups Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, returns after nearly a decade, recycling a 1998 side project name into a much better band. Typically punky but it also bounces around a lot, and occasionally you get a male voice -- don't know who but the songs are co-credited to a Kenny Mellman -- as a foil. [**]
11. Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses): The Low Highway New West) Not sure that hanging around the set of Treme did him much good but "That All You Got?" may wind up the most memorable of Katrina songs, and two co-credits with Lucia Micarelli -- Eleanor Whitmore plays the fiddle here -- wrap up a tidy package surrounded by otherwise down-and-out album. He treads ominously with a loner threatening to burn WalMart down, and other characters are no less sullen, but that's where he finds his purpose.
12. Janelle Monáe: The Electric Lady (Bad Boy) Second album after the critically acclaimed The Archandroid, draws "feats" from artists who've been there and done that (Prince, Erykah Badu) and others aimed that way (Miguel, Esperanza Spalding). Humorous dj skits about gay android sex, one leading into the album's standout track ("Apocalyptic Dance"), before which this rates as a pretty good funk album, after which even the ballads come crystal clear. [**]
13. Ashley Monroe: Like a Rose (Warner Brothers) Had an EP and an unreleased album as a teenager, joined Miranda Lambert as one-third of the Pistol Annies, and got another album shot here. It's a thin one, nine songs, 31:50, but most stick with you, and she has a lot more voice than Kacey Musgraves. Also has co-credits on all the songs, and a Blake Shelton duet at the end that drops two names and dismisses all too readily.
14. Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap (self-released) Chancelor Bennett, from Chicago, second freebie, has a double-jointed underground sound, a big grin on the vocals, especially on the subject of "Cocoa Butter Kisses." Takes a while for this to settle in, partly because he seems so offhand. At one point, he pauses as if searching for a rhyme, and comes up with "do you realize that everybody in the world hates the fucking Lakers?" Didn't realize that, but can relate. [**]
15. Arcade Fire: Reflektor (Merge, 2CD): Having admired but almost never played their previous albums, my opinion can't count for much. I'll leave it to other critics to suss out what it means and how it fits into a oeuvre that began with a funeral, but I mostly respond to texture and sound anyway, and there's more of that than ever.
16. Burial: Truant/Rough Sleeper (Hyperdub, EP '12) Counted a single with two 12-minute sides, William Bevan's latest electronica doesn't feel skimpy or sketchy at all. [**]
17. Pusha T: My Name Is My Name (Def Jam) Former Clipse MC delivers another paean to the good life of American capitalism, which means dealing drugs not just because he enjoys being knee-deep in the money but because "I gotta be me." [**]
18. Primal Scream: More Light (First International) Legendary Scottish band, goes back to the mid-1980s although they haven't produced much, and I never was persuaded to bother with their supposed masterpiece, 1991's Screamadelica. However, on purely sonic grounds this is mighty impressive: nice structure, hooky riffs, one song nearly whispered, the closer filled out with "oo-la-las." [**]
19. Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni) Katie Crutchfield, who had a punk band called P.S. Eliot with her twin sister Allison, alone here, sounding very alone with little but guitar shaping small songs on everyday subjects -- although occasional bass and drums adds muscle and flesh without detracting from the singer. [**]
20. Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park (Mercury Nashville) Young country singer from Texas, has a piece (but not all) of every writing credit. Not a huge voice, not much twang, but pleasantly effective, as are the twelve songs, with "Follow Your Arrow" likely to emerge as an anthem, albeit a modestly stated one.
21. The Pozniaks: Pozniak Street (Jamrag) First album, short (26:37, in 10 fast ones), Tim Brauer (guitars) and Ryan Maffei (keyboards), both sing and someone drums. Classic pop hooks flung about casually, recklessly even, lest someone suspect a cliché or a whiff of professionalism. Reminds me of a circa 1990 band, the Pooh Sticks, not least Joe Levy's excessive enthusiasm for them -- not warranted then, but applicable here. [**]
22. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko (Out Here) I'll take the good politics on faith, noting only that as the Salafists tear up Mali this is the soundtrack they strive to stomp out. The groove is more immediately accessible, and while it never slips into the stratosphere like the best music from south of the desert, it offers a steady supply of grit.
23. Yo Ma Ma: Symptomology / Stephen Kalinich & Jon Tiven: Shortcuts to Infinity (Ms Music '12, 2CD) Attribution is treacherous here, but these guys don't have a lot of marketing expertise. Kalinich recorded an album in 1969 that included some songs co-written with Brian Wilson but wasn't released until 2008. Tiven led a garage group called the Yankees, with one release in 1978, then popped up with a couple albums in the 1990s. Second disc here bears their names, while the first is credited to their doppelganger identity: coarse, funny, punky. The second slips more often, but picks up when it needs to, and has the allure of stuff you're not going to hear anywhere else. [**]
24. Congo Natty: Jungle Revolution (Big Dada) Michael West, from London, previously worked as Rebel MC, Conquering Lion, Blackstar, Tribe of Issachar, etc., as a reggae toaster, producer, and remixer. Not sure of the provenance of these tracks, their reggae beats reinforced with drum and bass, raps and sound samples, but it's a mix I find endlessly fascinating. Inspirational lyric: "This is my fucking country, lady!" [**]
25. Lady Gaga: Artpop (Interscope/Streamline) I've always found her resistible before, but she's jacked her dance-pop sound up so huge it's overwhelming. Now I wonder what insidious messages she's trying to sneak into the lyrics, but can't come up with much worse than "fashion" and something about "swine." [**]
26. Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts: Stranger in My Land (Bloodshot) Aboriginal Australian country singer, aka Black Elvis or Koori King of Country, has a few albums down under and now this intro backed by Jon Langford's signature backup band, with help from Dave Alvin, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms, Charlie Louvin, and others. More western than country, with a black-identified race consciousness that signifies here more than it should, plus kangaroos and bandicoots. [**]
27. Bomba Estéreo: Elegancia Tropical (Soundway) Colombian group, has a couple albums, closer to house than to cumbia, forsaking the latter's grind for hints among Simón Mejía's loops and bass lines, topped with Liliana Saumet's cagey vocals. [**]
28. Guy Clark: My Favorite Picture of You (Dualtone) Singer-songwriter from Texas, country but never got to Nashville, now 71 with 15 albums, slowing down both metaphorically and literally. Starts with a song called "Cornmeal Waltz" and in the nine slot follows that up with his one cover, Lyle Lovett's "Waltzing Fool" -- both done as leisurely as possible. He's always been likable, but rarely this much.
29. King DJ: Let Me See You Feel (Bear Funk) Kristof Hilde Hugo Michiels, from Belgium, first album after a pair of EPs, offers big dance beats, a house throwback I think -- at one point I expected Fatboy Slim to jump in and sling some shit -- and when you think he might run out of steam, he doubles back and pumps up the volume. [**]
30. Saâda Bonaire (1982-85, Captured Tracks) German disco group, Bremen DJ Ralph von Richtoven and singer Stephanie Lange with Claudia Hossfeld in on the group's only single and Dennis Bovell producing. This beats the bushes for more than an hour of material, the stiff beats retro with exotic spices, flecks of oud and saz and hand drums from Turkish immigrants. Lange's English is a bit stilted -- reminds me of an earlier German disco group, Silver Convention, only with the 1970s swish driven way underground. [**]
31. Tricky: False Idols (!K7) Not sure that the vocals are samples, but the Patti Smith effect on "Somebody's Sins" and the Chet Baker on "Valentine" are brilliant grabs. They help front-load an album that takes more attention as it winds down, but most of the tracks smolder, a couple in the middle even sizzle. [**]
32. Omar Souleyman: Wenu Wenu (Ribbon Music) Syrian wedding singer, "dabke artist" to those who know of such things, stirs up less of a storm than in his earlier bootlegs, maybe figuring he's cutting the West some slack. [**]
33. Ezra Furman: Day of the Dog (Bar/None) Cut three albums plus a compilation of "bootlegs and road recordings" with a band he called the Harpoons, then appeared bloodied on his solo debut -- I guess it's a tough life for former Tufts U. students. This one starts with "I Wanna Destroy Myself" and, flailing that, "Tell 'Em All to Go to Hell" and "My Zero," then the title tune. Helps that they all rock (as in "rock and roll") out -- no point in us having to share his misery. [**]
34. Sam Baker: Say Grace (self-released) Pretty basic, even when the horns come in behind a lyric that says it all with "isn't love great?/isn't love grand?" and a bit of piano or a wash of violin shows that he's not just a guy with a guitar -- a folkie on technical grounds, sentimental too. Some day I should dig through the back catalog. [**]
35. Maxmillion Dunbar: House of Woo (RVNG Intl.) "Left-field house" from Andrew Field-Pickering, has a previous album and the usual pile of short forms and DJ mixes, dishes up sparkling synth sounds that hold your interest even when he wanders from the beat. [**]
36. Latyrx: The Second Album (Latyramid) The first album came out in 1997, so this has been a long time coming -- not that Lateef (the Truth Speaker) and (especially) Lyrics Born haven't been active in the meantime. [**]
37. Hookworms: Pearl Mystic (Weird World) British group, from Leeds, has made surprise advances in year-end lists, no doubt because anyone who masters the tension-tone riffs the Velvet Underground bequeathed to alt-indiedom is going to sound timelessly classic -- even bands that don't last any longer than the Perfect Disaster or Lower Dens. This is another one of those. [**]
38. Oblivians: Desperation (In the Red) Memphis answer band to the New York Dolls -- Greg Oblivian (aka Greg Cartwright) even managed to play on Shangri-Las pack leader Mary Weiss' comeback album. Fourteen songs, 31:27, harkens back to an era when rockers were proud barbarians, but too late to invent it. [**]
39. DJ Koze: Amygdala (Pampa) Stefan Kozalla, from Hamburg, Germany, has a handful of albums since 2000, titles like Music Is Okay, All People Is My Friends, and Wo Die Rammelwolle Fliegt. His beats are slight but deeper into the album become hypnotic. The vocals, some in German, are awkward, but ultimately superfluous.
40. Rilo Kiley: Rkives (2004-07, Little Record Company) Outtakes from the group's last two albums, more or less. I'm not enough of a scholar to weigh respective versions, or even to dwell on the fine aspects of relationship songs, but I will note that Jenny Lewis is remarkably talented at steadying the group sound and planting her voice as its sensible center.
41. Pistol Annies: Annie Up (RCA) Sophomore album, Miranda Lambert you know about, and Ashley Monroe too, so only Angaleena Presley lacks a matching solo oeuvre. Not as hot, in any sense of the word, as the debut, a cozy singalong, remarkable for the melodies and drawls, attention to detail and avoidance of cliché -- all too rare where they hail from. [**]
42. The Knife: Shaking the Habitual (Mute) Swedish electropop duo, Olof Dreijer and sister-singer Karin Dreijer Andersson (aka Fever Ray). Some confusion: there's a 77:18 single disc version (which I own) and a 96:19 double (which I don't), but Rhapsody's comes in at 86:16. Several terrific cuts here, at least when they stay upbeat and oblique, with the slow ones slipping back into the ordinary.
43. Angel Haze: Dirty Gold (Republic) Raykeea Wilson, rapper, broke through with a good mixtape last year, got a label deal but wound up with a December 30 release, missing the big sales season and any chance for year-end notice. [**]
44. Adult: The Way Things Fall (Ghostly International) Detroit electropop group, married couple Nicola Kuperus and Adam Miller, fifth album since 2001; originally reminded me of 1980s new wave disco bands like OMD and Cabaret Voltaire, but rather than regimenting the beats they get trickier, more sophisticated. Choice cut: "Nothing Lasts." Part of a bleak second side, the sort of gloominess one can only dance through. [**]
45. Public Enemy: Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp (Enemy '12) Most of mine too, but those who do are invariably misconstrued, so much so that the honor seems dubious, almost an invitation to fraud. No doubt Chuck understands all this. He's just looking for hooks to pile onto the hardest beats in rap, and reminding us that no matter how much has changed since he/they developed their stance, it's still not enough.
46. The Fall: Re-Mit (Cherry Red) Postpunk band dating back to 1979, has dozens of albums, most sound pretty much the same, as does this one -- Mark Smith growling against the grain of bass-heavy riffs. This one got terrible reviews, but after an ambivalent start they tighten up and nail cut after cut, often with a drum roll or some extraneous noise. [**]
47. Radical Dads: Rapid Reality (Uninhabitable Mansions) A drummer from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and two guitarists, with one -- non-dad Lindsay Baker -- doing most of the singing, giving them a little shrillness to go with the postpunk thrash, and irony enough to be radical indeed. [**]
48. Aceyalone: Leanin' on Slick (Decon) West Coast rapper Eddie Hayes, been underground since 1995, peaking early when his shtick was fresh and simple. A decade later he returns as an old pro, leaning on jazz like never before: the bass lines, the horn charts, the framing arrangements of Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles (credit says Percy Mayfield, but you won't hear it that way). "Working Man Blues" could use more grit, but got Cee-Lo instead. [**]
49. Brandy Clark: 12 Stories (Smith Music Group) Started off as a songwriter with a taste for the ordinary slice of life, which means broken homes, love as drunken illusion before the not inevitable marriage that strips it bare, a preference to cope by getting high rather than drowning your sorrows, and enough good sense to think twice before committing a "crime of passion" (unlike those other crazy women) -- several potential clichés-in-the-making, but by Nashville standards worth celebrating. [**]
50. Jon Hopkins: Immunity (Domino) Thick waves with long decays, too harmonically complex for minimalism even if that seems to be the idea -- or maybe ambient is the more current term, certainly the operative word for the ending note, but even more suggestive of something that sneaks up on you. [**]
51. Peter Stampfel & the Ether Frolic Mob: The Sound of America (Frederick Productions/Red Newt) Can't find credits so don't know where these songs came from, much less who beyond the utterly unmistakable leader sings or plays, but "Deep in the Heart of Texas" is a cover given previously unfathomed depth, and the others are most likely relative obscurities. The group dynamic is hootenany with a dash of Spike Jones. [**]
52. Daniel Wohl: Corps Exquis (New Amsterdam) Paris-born, New York-based composer, background and label marking this as classical but the sound diverges from electronica only in that it's meant for the symphony hall instead of the dance floor and much of the actual sound is acoustic -- admittedly, loud acoustic, laced through and through with synths. [**]
53. Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer: Child Ballads (Wilderland) Seven ballads, all by trad., numbered {1, 6, 39, 58, 100, 209, 216}, a series that means something I know not. Hamer has a previous album called Left Wing Sweetheart. Mitchell was an Ani DiFranco protégé, but the concept swallowed her Righteous Babe album, Hadestown. The concept is kinder here. [**]
54. Tamikrest: Chatma (Glitterhouse) Tuareg group from northern Mali, deep in the Sahara, debuted on Festival in the Desert and now have three albums. Like many "Saharan blues" bands they have a spare, understated elegance, as straightforward as rock and roll but at a more measured pace. [**]
55. Robert Sarazin Blake with Jefferson Hamer and the Powderkegs: Put It All Down in a Letter (Same Room '11) Wordy focus, like spoken word poetry except sometimes Hamer's band gallops along so infectiously Blake has to sing to keep up even though he doesn't have the voice to make it graceful. One piece runs 18:41, another 12:45, eight more are shorter, every one makes me strain harder for the words -- something I rarely go out of my way for.
56. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito (Interscope) Despite all the vampire hoopla of the last decade, the real blood-sucking killer is the lowly mosquito, and their title song plays it up for all the horror you should feel. Half of the songs are equally remarkable -- "Sacrilege" sure is, "These Paths" burbles ominously, "Area 52" destroys the earth, and the ballad helps with the healing. [**]
57. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (Aftermath) Plenty of reasons to pass this one by -- you may even wish he'd experience one of those cardiac arrests he wishes on others for a better world. Hoping to regain the vigor of his youth, he's dialed it back to crazy, but you know the one about "history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce"? Well, it's funnier in art than in real life. And his use of sound samples remains peerless, probably because he's not afraid of using something as square and white as "The Game of Love." Nor does he stop at sampling, as he rewrites Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" -- still good, just not that easy.
58. Kim Lenz and the Jaguars: Follow Me (Riley) Singer-songwriter, I presume, based in LA, plays impeccable rockabilly but that's more formal discipline than retro, and certainly no nostalgia; she cut two 1998-99 albums, two since. This one rocks and roars, tumbles and falls and gets right up again. [**]
59. Martha Redbone Roots Project: The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake (Blackfeet Productions '12) Christgau advises, "listen to the words," but I've never read Blake, have no sense of him other than secondhand via Allen Ginsberg, and haven't read the latter in forty-some years. The words, however, are occasionally surprising and always eloquent, and the sturdy folk balladry holds it all up.
60. Lurrie Bell: Blues in My Soul (Delmark) Chicago bluesman, father was harmonica man Carey Bell, has close to ten albums since 1989, this one sounding like it could have been recorded any time -- indeed, like something Buddy Guy or Magic Sam might have done fifty-some years ago. [**]
61. Public Enemy: The Evil Empire of Everything (Enemy '12) More scattered, as their second disc rounds up the miscellany that didn't fit into the first. Still, the politics is sharp and nasty, the beats as hard as ever, and the slips only occasional. Not as rock solid as Most of My Heroes, but compared to the rest of the world, a distinction not cost-effective.
62. Kate Nash: Girl Talk (INgrooves) Third album, following two of the brighter Brit-pop records of the past decade -- not that she came close to Lily Allen. Here she kicks up the volume, tightens the rhythms toward punk. This has been roundly panned, but I liked it fine on first spin, and keep finding new things when I replay it. [**]
63. ZZK Sound Vol. 3 (ZZK/Waxploitation) Dance beats from Argentina, or at least the label's from Buenos Aires, where there must be some kind of dance beat scene. [**]
64. Gypsyphonic Disko: Mardi Gras Mix Tape 2013 (self-released) A 33-minute mix of New Orleans funk classics and extra beats, a formula they've applied before in two volumes of Gypsyphonic Disko Nola-Phonic: pretty surefire formula. [**]
65. Within Reason: Transient Broadcasts (Anodize) Gregory T. Kyryluk side project -- he also does work as Alpha Wave Movement and Open Canvas and has a 2005 album under his own name -- something I was tipped off to by Jason Gross' list of electronica outfits that make Boards of Canada seem blah. He does, although it's hard to say just why: perhaps that the beats never decay into ambient, but measure out time with proper milestones. [**]
66. Kassa Overall: Stargate Mixtape (Greedhead '11) Drummer, has some jazz cred working with Geri Allen and Peter Evans, some hip-hop with Das Racist and Kool AD, tries his own mixtape, rapping a little, along with the flow. No doc on who does what, where the samples come from, or whatever.
67. Tal National: Kaani (Fat Cat) Band from Niger, the chunk of Saharan desert wedged between prolific Mali and barren Chad, north of hugely populated Nigeria and south of the empty interior of Libya. Most bands from Niger are Tuareg blues-rock outfits, and this one maintains some of their spartan rigor, but they've also tuned into the thumb piano percussion of Kinshasa. [**]
68. Thomas Anderson: On Becoming Human: Four-Track Love Songs (Out There) A wordsmith first and foremost, he starts this off improbably with an instrumental, then returns with several odd tales involving Bo Diddley and Walter Mondale and then the longest, most improbable yarn of all, "The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover." Some of the connections I don't get -- I always figured Mondale lost that last Senate race because Minnesota voters didn't like to be taken for granted, and he didn't much care anyway.
69. Dobie: We Will Not Harm You (Big Dada) Tony Campbell, had something to do with Soul II Soul way back when but his own flow of (mostly) EPs, at least under this moniker, picks up in 1995. Two EPs last year seemed like they would have achieved critical mass fused together. This one has the length if not the mass -- "subtler," critics scoff, but that actually works for me. [**]

Reissued Music

The big trends in reissued music were "anniversary" expanded editions and boxes with way too much crap. Meanwhile smaller specialists searched out ever greater obscurities, most obscure for good reason. Europe is healthier because looser copyright laws encourage what US bigwigs would call pirating but their sets are hard for me to pick up. So my picks here are idiosyncratic more by selection than by taste.

1. Wussy: Buckeye (Damnably '12) A 17-cut Europe-only best-of, or intro, condensing four albums -- unless they snuck in an alternate version, something I can't tell -- but that works fine for me, the non-chronological shuffle mixing it up. Fans I know -- and I seem to know most of them -- swear by the albums, but if this were readily available it might be all I'd need -- more hooks, rocks harder too. [**]
2. The Velvet Underground: White Light, White Heat [45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (1968, Verve, 2CD) So familiar that I skipped past the first six cuts here, just wanting to evaluate the extras: 14 demos, outtakes, and live cuts, 7 previously unreleased (hard as that may be to believe, given how much extra material they've previously scrounged up). Gems include a silly "Temptation Inside Your Heart," a long guitar vamp on "Booker T." that's pure music to my ears, and an instrumental "The Gift." Plus you get an extra "Sister Ray," lo-fi and even longer than the standard. [**]
3. Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings From the 1970s & '80s (Soundway, 2CD) Obscure 45s from back in the day, 32 of them, closer in spirit and range to crate digs like John Storm Roberts' Before Benga 2: The Nairobi Sound than to the soukous-inflected Guitar Paradise of East Africa. Reportedly the full packaging includes a 40-page booklet, which my promo lacks. So I'm short on details, but the discs themselves jump. [*]
4. Le Grand Kallé: His Life, His Music (1953-83, Sterns Music, 2CD) Alternate title, also on the front cover: Joseph Kabasele and the Creation of Modern Congolese Music. Kabasele was the guitarist and leader of Le Grand Kallé et L'African Jazz, a vital force in the evolution of Congolese rumba to soukous for three decades, a track record rivalled only by Franco. Wish I could consult the 104-page booklet -- I'm only guessing at dates here, and it's likely that this focuses on the 1960s, especially before Dr. Nico and Tabu Ley Rochereau left his group. (The first track sounds very early, and I'm not sure how much he recorded from 1970 to his death in 1983.) Once this hits its stride, consistently wonderful music. [**]
5. Lobi Traoré: Bamako Nights: Live at Bar Bozo, 1995 (1995, Glitterbeat) I've never quite understood the Malian guitar blues affinity, partly because, at least in this case, he aims for deep resonance rather than that lonesome cry -- he exerts commanding presence, not just witness; and while I'm more impressed by his last album, I hear the same power in this his first. [**]
6. Fela Kuti: The Best of Black President 2 (1971-92, Knitting Factory, 2CD) The first volume, which looks to be every bit as fine as this one, came out in 1999 when MCA was revamping his catalog. However, the MCAs soon went out of print and chaos ensued -- UK label Wrasse picked up most of the MCAs, but Knitting Factory also got back into the act, with this supplement to its still-in-print 1999 set. It works as well as you'd expect: as I said above, there are a dozen CDs worth of material worth picking from, and the nature of the music lets you shuffle it almost randomly into compilations you can enjoy for hours on end. [**]
7. Lee Fields: Let's Talk It Over (1979, Truth & Soul) Soul man, hung briefly with Kool & the Gang but couldn't catch a break in his solo career, probably why he was brushed off as just another James Brown wannabe; indeed, the funk on his debut album was about six years removed from cutting edge, but for retro it's pitch perfect, he draws on P-Funk as well as JB, and he can kill a ballad, so I can't see any cause for complaining . . . unless it's his fashion sense. [**]
8. Dieuf-Dieul de Thiès: Aw Sa Yone Vol. 1 (Teranga Beat) From Thiès in Senegal, less cosmopolitan than Dakar where big things were happening, these sessions with guitarist Pape Seck and three griot-style vocalists were only released on cassette, and long forgotten, although the group kept trudging along -- I have a later disc of them backing up Tidiane. Even-tempered, a gentle groove that goes on and on, each little embellishment welcome, especially the sax.
9. Sylvester: Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits (1977-81, Fantasy) San Francisco disco star, openly gay, had a string of dancefloor hits off the five albums he cut for Fantasy, crammed here into 79:08 and programmed for, no surprise, dancing. [**]
10. Burial: Street Halo/Kindred (Hyperdub '12) Two EPs, previously noted. I tend to give EPs short shrift, so maybe they just ended before I could take them in, or maybe I needed extra plays. The music is sometimes underwater, sometimes just submerged, lots of scratchy noise, the vocals fragmented samples but for once I find them piecing together to form something coherent. Combined they add up to 51:32, substantial enough to settle in with. [**]
11. Blind Lemon Jefferson: The Rough Guide to Blues Legends: Blind Lemon Jefferson (1926-29, World Music Network, 2CD) The most important bluesman of the 1920s, had a voice and guitar that cut past the day's technological limits, and he recorded enough in a short career that ended with his death in 1929 to fill up four JSP discs, but this is the essential core, even as it is mostly redundant if you have either of Yazoo's compilations. I can't judge the reportedly improved sound here, but will note that this package includes a bonus various artists sampler, an extra 24 cuts of early acoustic blues.
12. Moreno and L'Orch First Moja-One: Sister Pili + 2 (1977-83, Sterns Africa) Four cuts from Batamba Wendo Morris, born in the Congo and emigrated to Kenya as did the guitar-driven soukous of his 1983 album, here padded out with some 1977 tracks from Tabu Ngongo not notably different in any way important -- more irrepressible groove from the guitar paradise of East Africa. [**]
13. Orchestra Super Mazembe: Mazembe @ 45RPM Vol. 1 (1975-84, Sterns Africa) One of the groups that introduced guitar-gilded soukous to Kenya, creating a synthesis perfectly summed up on Earthworks' Guitar Paradise of East Africa; no dupes from Earthworks' OSM collection, Giants of East Africa, but it would be hard to tell, as they basically build everything around their guitar signature -- understandable given that it's one of the most majestic creations in all of African pop. [**]:
14. Rodan: Fifteen Quiet Years (1992-94, Quarterstick) Louisville post-hardcore band -- also described as "math rock" which would mean more to me as "the part of Sonic Youth that wants to play with the Thing" -- released one album and now, a couple decades later and following the deaths of two members, get a second collecting singles and parts of a BBC session; guitar-bass-drums thickly layered, good for repetitive riff pieces with talkie vocals almost an afterthought, even at one point breaking down into free jazz chaos ("Exoskeleton"). [**]
15. Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye (1985, Awesome Tapes From Africa) An Ethiopian, cut this in DC where as I understand it he makes a living driving a cab; I wouldn't think the synths and drum machines would qualify, so the "classical instrument" here must be the accordion, which gives this a thicker, richer sound than the easy listening cocktail music it aspires to, but the synths do help it go down easier. [**]
16. Tommy McCook: Reggae in Jazz (1976, Pressure Sounds) The tenor saxophonist from the Skatalites, an important figure in the early evolution of reggae but no more a jazz man than King Curtis, a comparable fish in a much larger pond; so not much jazz, not even much sax, but producer Buster Riley pushes all the right buttons for this instrumental jam, especially the keybs -- Ansel Collins and Jackie Mittoo are credited, and I also see Sly & Robbie. [**]

Additional Consumer News

The following is the rest of the non-jazz list. It's about 40% shorter than the jazz list I listened to, which goes a long ways toward explaining why the jazz A-list is longer than the non-jazz (86 to 69).

New Releases: 330 total.

  • AFI: Burials (Republic) [B-]
  • Jhené Aiko: Sail Out (Def Jam, EP) [**]
  • Gary Allan: Set You Free (MCA Nashville) [*]
  • Terry Allen: Bottom of the World (Tia) [**]
  • Ellen Allien: LISm (Bpitch Control) [***]
  • Alsarah Débruit: Aljawal (Sounday) [B]
  • AlunaGeorge: Body Music (Island) [*]
  • Oren Ambarchi/Robin Fox: Connected (Kranky '12) [*]
  • Arctic Monkeys: AM (Domino) [B-]
  • ASAP Rocky: Long.Live.ASAP (Polo Grounds/RCA) [**]
  • Atom[TM]: HD (Raster-Noton) [**]
  • Austra: Olympia (Domino) [B-]
  • Autechre: Exai (Warp, 2CD) [***]
  • Autre Ne Veut: Anxiety (Software) [***]
  • Babyshambles: Sequel to the Prequel (Parlophone) [***]
  • Bad Religion: True North (Epitaph) [*]
  • Balqees: Majnoun (Rotana) [***]
  • Baths: Obsidian (Anticon) [**]
  • Beach Fossils: Clash the Truth (Captured Tracks) [B]
  • Willis Earl Beal: Nobody Knows (Hot Charity/XL) [B]
  • Bell X1: Chop Chop (Belly Up) [*]
  • Best Coast: Fade Away (Mexican Summer, EP) [***]
  • Bettie Serveert: Oh, Mayhem! (Second Motion) [***]
  • Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine: White People and the Damage Done (Alternative Tentacles) [*]
  • Eric Bibb: Jericho Road (Stony Plain) [*]
  • Bibio: Silver Wilkinson (Warp) [*]
  • Big Baby Gandhi: Unreleased Freestyles + Other Bad Song Ideas (self-released, EP) [B]
  • Big Sean: Hall of Fame (Def Jam) [*]
  • Bilal: A Love Surreal (E1) [**]
  • Nat Birchall: World Without Form (Sound Soul and Spirit '12) [***]
  • James Blake: Overgrown (Polydor) [B]
  • Bleeding Rainbow: Yeah Right (Kanine) [*]
  • Blind Boys of Alabama: I'll Find a Way (Masterworks) [B]
  • Boards of Canada: Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp) [B]
  • Body/Head: Coming Apart (Matador) [B-]
  • Jason Boland and the Stragglers: Dark & Dirty Mile (Proud Souls Entertainment) [**]
  • Bombino: Nomad (Nonesuch) [***]
  • David Bowie: The Next Day (Columbia) [*]
  • Brandt Brauer Frick: Miami (!K7) [**]
  • JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound: Howl (Bloodshot) [B]
  • Danny Brown: Old (Fool's Gold) [***]
  • VV Brown: Samson & Delilah (YOY) [*]
  • Luke Bryan: Crash My Party (Capitol Nashville) [C]
  • Jake Bugg (Mercury) [B]
  • Burial: Rival Dealer (Hyperdub, EP) [**]
  • Cakes Da Killa: The Eulogy (Mishka) [**]
  • Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers: Nothing Can Stop Us (Strut) [**]
  • The Cannanes: Howling at All Hours (Chapter Music) [**]
  • The Cannanes: Small Batch (Exro FM, EP) [**]
  • Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Anti-) [**]
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky (Bad Seeds) [B]
  • Marshall Chapman: Blaze of Glory (Tall Girl) [***]
  • Charli XCX: True Romance (Iamsound) [**]
  • Chelsea Light Moving (Matador) [***]
  • Chicha Libre: Cuatro Tigres (Barbès, EP) [*]
  • The Child of Lov (Double Six) [*]
  • The Chills: Something Beautiful (Fire) [**]
  • Alex Chilton: Electricity by Candlelight: NYC 2/3/97 (1997, Bar/None) [**]
  • Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe (Glass Note) [B]
  • Chvrches: Recover (Glassnote, EP) [*]
  • Ciara (Epic) [**]
  • J Cole: Yours Truly (self-released, EP) [***]
  • J Cole: Born Sinner (Roc Nation/Columbia) [***]
  • The Computers: Love Triangles Hate Squares (One Little Indian) [B]
  • Dana Coppafeel & Speak Easy (Uni-Fi) [***]
  • Court Yard Hounds: Amelita (Columbia) [B]
  • The Creole Choir of Cuba: Santiman (Real World) [*]
  • Cults: Static (Columbia) [B-]
  • Billy Currington: We Are Tonight (Mercury Nashville) [*]
  • The Cyclist: Bones in Motion (Stones Throw) [**]
  • Miley Cyrus: Bangerz (RCA) [***]
  • Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Daft Life/Columbia) [**]
  • Darkside: Psychic (Matador) [B-]
  • Darkstar: News From Nowhere (Warp) [C+]
  • Daughter: If You Leave (Glassnote) [B]
  • Deafheaven: Sunbather (Deathwish) [***]
  • Deap Vally: Sistrionix (Island) [*]
  • Death Grips: No Love Deep Web (Third Worlds/Harvest) [B]
  • Deer Tick: Relativity (Partisan) [**]
  • The Del-Lords: Elvis Club (MRI) [*]
  • Dessa: Parts of Speech (Doomtree) [*]
  • The Devil Makes Three: I'm a Stranger Here (New West) [*]
  • Dirty Beaches: Drifters/Love Is the Devil (Zoo Music) [*]
  • Disappears: Era (Kranky) [**]
  • Disappears: Kone (Kranky, EP) [*]
  • Disclosure: Settle (Cherrytree/Interscope) [*]
  • The Dismemberment Plan: Uncanney Valley (Partisan) [**]
  • DJ Khaled: Suffering From Success (Cash Money) [*]
  • DJ Rashad: Double Cup (Hyperdub) [B-]
  • Don't Talk to the Cops!: Let's Quit (Greedhead '12) [**]
  • Dott: Swoon (Graveface) [*]
  • Donato Dozzy: Plays Bee Mask (Spectrum Spools) [**]
  • Drake: Nothing Was the Same (Cash Money/Republic) [B]
  • Dub Club: Foundation Come Again (Stones Throw) [**]
  • Dub Colossus: Dub Me Tender, Vols. 1 & 2 (Real World) [**]
  • Fred Eaglesmith: 6 Volts (Bluewater Music '12) [*]
  • Hanni El Khatib: Head in the Dirt (Innovative Leisure) [**]
  • Mark Ernestus Presents Jeri-Jeri: 800% Ndagga (Ndagga) [**]
  • Mark Ernestus Presents Jeri-Jeri: Ndagga Versions (Ndagga) [**]
  • Ethernet: Opus 2 (Kranky) [*]
  • Ex Cops: True Hallucinations (Other) [*]
  • Factor: Woke Up Alone (Fake Four) [*]
  • Factory Floor (DFA) [***]
  • Fantasia: Side Effects of You (RCA) [**]
  • Fat Tony: Smart Ass Black Boy (Young One) [***]
  • Heidi Feek: The Only (Western Pin-Up) [***]
  • Sky Ferreira: Night Time, My Time (Capitol) [**]
  • FIDLAR (Mom + Pop Music) [***]
  • Fist City: It's 1983, Grow Up (Black Tent Press) [**]
  • The Flaming Lips: The Terror (Warner Brothers) [**]
  • Foals: Holy Fire (Warner Brothers) [*]
  • Foals: Tapes (!K7 '12) [ **]
  • John Fogerty: Wrote a Song for Everyone (Vanguard) [*]
  • Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside: Untamed Beast (Partisan) [B-]
  • The Foreign Exchange: Love in Flying Colors (Foreign Exchange Music) [*]
  • Forest Swords: Engravings (Tri Angle) [*]
  • Josephine Foster: I'm a Dreamer (Fire) [*]
  • Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar) [B-]
  • Frikstailers: En Son de Paz (ZZK) [***]
  • The Front Bottoms: Talon of the Hawk (Bar/None) [**]
  • Ezra Furman: The Year of No Returning (Bar/None) [*]
  • Future of the Left: How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident (Prescriptions) [**]
  • Frightened Rabbit: Pedestrian View (Atlantic) [B]
  • Jonny Fritz: Dad Country (ATO) [**]
  • Robbie Fulks: Gone Away Backward (Bloodshot) [**]
  • Future Bible Heroes: Partygoing (Merge) [**]
  • Kevin Gates: The Luca Brasi Story (Atlantic) [**]
  • Kevin Gates: Stranger Than Fiction (Bread Winners Association) [**]
  • Ghostface Killah/Adrian Younge: Twelve Reasons to Die (Relativity/Soul Temple) [***]
  • Ghostpoet: Some Say I So I Say Light (PIAS) [**]
  • Vince Gill & Paul Franklin: Bakersfield (MCA Nashville) [***]
  • Glasser: Interiors (True Panther Sounds) [*]
  • Gogol Bordello: Pura Vida Conspiracy (ATO) [***]
  • Gold Panda: Half of Where You Live (Ghostly International) [**]
  • Max Gomez: Rule the World (New West) [B]
  • Goodie Mob: Age Against the Machine (The Right/Warner Brothers) [*]
  • Ariana Grande: Yours Truly (Island/Republi) [***]
  • Greenhouse [Blueprint/Illogic]: Bend but Don't Break (Weightless) [***]
  • Greyboy Allstars: Inland Emperor (Knowledge Room) [B]
  • Patty Griffin: American Kid (New West) [***]
  • Haim: Days Are Gone (Columbia) [**]
  • The Handsome Family: Wilderness (Carrot Top) [***]
  • Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell: Old Yellow Moon (Nonesuch) [**]
  • Mariem Hassan: El Aaiún Egdat (Nubenegra '12) [***]
  • Mayer Hawthorne: Where Does This Door Go (Republic) [**]
  • The Haxan Cloak: Excavation (Tri Angle) [*]
  • Tim Hecker: Virgins (Kranky) [B]
  • Hermitofthewoods: Land of the Lotus Eaters (Endemik Music) [***]
  • Richard X. Heyman: X (Turn-Up) [*]
  • James Holden: The Inheritors (Border Community) [**]
  • Julia Holter: Loud City Song (Domino) [B]
  • Homeboy Sandman: All That I Hold Dear (Stones Throw, EP) [**]
  • Homeboy Sandman: Kool Herc: Fertile Crescent (Stones Throw, EP) [*]
  • Honey Island Swamp Band: Cane Sugar (Louisiana Red Hot) [B]
  • Hurray for the Riff Raff: My Dearest Darkest Neighbor (Mod Mobillian/This Is American Music) [**]
  • Iceage: You're Nothing (Matador) [B]
  • Icona Pop: This Is . . . Icona Pop (Big Beat/Atlantic) [*]
  • Iggy & the Stooges: Ready to Die (Fat Possum) [*]
  • Inspectah Deck & 7L & Esoteric: Czarface (Brick) [*]
  • Joanna Gruesome: Weird Sister (Slumberland) [***]
  • Koby Israelite: Blues From Elsewhere (Asphalt Tango) [B]
  • Jaipur Kawa Brass Band: Dance of the Cobra (Riverboat) [*]
  • Jamaican Queens: Wormfood (Notown) [B]
  • Jay-Z: Magna Carta Holy Grail (Roc Nation) [B]
  • Jonwayne: Oodles of Doodles (Stones Throw '12, 2CD) [*]
  • Juicy J: Stay Trippy (Taylor Gang/Kemosabe/Columbia) [*]
  • Justice: Access All Arenas (Because) [C+]
  • Ka: The Night's Gambit (Iron Works) [**]
  • John Paul Keith: Memphis Circa 3AM (Big Legal Mess) [***]
  • Toby Keith: Drinks After Work (Show Dog Nashville) [B]
  • Kelela: Cut 4 Me (Fade to Mind) [*]
  • Kevn Kinney: A Good Country Mile (self-released '12) [***]
  • Kitty: D.A.I.S.Y. Rage (self-released, EP) [B]
  • Kool A.D.: 19 (self-released) [*]
  • Kool A.D.: 63 (self-released) [**]
  • Kwes.: Ilp. (Warp) [B-]
  • La Femme: Psycho Tropical Berlin (Disque Pointu) [***]
  • Jessy Lanza: Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub) [**]
  • Lapalux: Nostalchic (Brainfeeder) [*]
  • Le1f: Tree House (Greedhead) [*]
  • Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: Repent, Replenish, Repeat (Sunday Best) [***]
  • Jeffrey Lewis/Peter Stampfel: Hey Hey It's the Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band (self-released) [***]
  • Lil Wayne: I Am Not a Human Being II (Cash Money) [**]
  • Local Natives: Hummingbird (Frenchkiss) [B-]
  • Logos: Cold Mission (Keysound) [*]
  • London Grammar: If You Wait (Warner/Chappell) [*]
  • The Lone Bellow (Descendant) [B-]
  • Low: The Invisible Way (Sub Pop) [B-]
  • Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe (Fiesta Red '12) [B]
  • Lucius: Wildewoman (Mom + Pop Music) [*]
  • Ryan Maffei: Country Town (Jamrag, EP) [***]
  • MaG: Freedom (self-released) [**]
  • Natalie Maines: Mother (Columbia) [B-]
  • Major Lazer: Free the Universe (Secretly Canadian) [***]
  • Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra: Gipsy Manifesto (Piranha) [***]
  • Laura Marling: Once I Was an Eagle (Ribbon Music) [**]
  • The Mavericks: In Time (Valory) [B]
  • ¡Mayday!: Believers (Strange Music) [***]
  • Melt Yourself Down (The Leaf Label) [**]
  • The Men: New Moon (Sacred Bones) [B]
  • Mac Miller: Watching Movies With the Sound Off (Island) [B-]
  • Moby: Innocents (Little Idiot) [**]
  • Hudson Mohawke x Lunice: Tnght (Warp '12, EP) [*]
  • Juana Molina: Wed 21 (Crammed Discs) [**]
  • Monoswezi: The Village (Riverboat) [**]
  • Gurf Morlix: Finds the Present Tense (Rootball) [***]
  • Elizabeth Morris: Optimism (self-released, EP) [***]
  • Mount Kimbie: Cold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp) [*]
  • Maria Muldaur, et al.: . . . First Came Memphis Minnie (Stony Plain '12) [***]
  • The National: Trouble Will Find Me (4AD) [**]
  • Nelly: M.O. (Republic) [B]
  • Willie Nelson: To All the Girls . . . (Legacy) [*]
  • Willie Nelson and Family: Let's Face the Music and Dance (Legacy) [**]
  • Neon Neon: Praxis Makes Perfect (Lex) [C+]
  • Aaron Neville: My True Story (Blue Note) [**] [***]
  • Cyril Neville: Magic Honey (Ruf) [***]
  • New Order: Lost Sirens (2003-04, Rhino) [**]
  • Willie Nile: American Ride (Loud & Proud) [B]
  • Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks (Halo) [*]
  • Niyaz: Sumud (Six Degrees '12) [*]
  • No Age: An Object (Sub Pop) [***]
  • No Joy: Wait to Pleasure (Mexican Summer) [*]
  • Oneohtrix Point Never: R Plus Seven (Warp) [**]
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: English Electric (Relativity)
  • Lindi Ortega: Tin Star (Last Gang) [**]
  • Brad Paisley: Wheelhouse (Arista Nashville) [B]
  • Palma Violets: 180 (Rough Trade) [**]
  • Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory: Elements of Light (Rough Trade) [**]
  • Paramore (Fueled by Ramen) [B]
  • Van Dyke Parks: Songs Cycled (Bella Union) [B-]
  • Charlie Peacock: No Man's Land (Twenty Ten '12) [*]
  • Pennybirdrabbit: Safer (Big Beat, EP) [**]
  • Pere Ubu: Lady From Shanghai (Fire) [**]
  • Katy Perry: Prism (Capitol) [*]
  • Pet Shop Boys: Electric (X2) [***]
  • Pharmakon: Abandon (Sacred Bones, EP) [*]
  • Sam Phillips: Push Any Button (Littlebox) [*]
  • Phoenix: Bankrupt! (Glassnote) [B]
  • Phosphorescent: Mucacho (Dead Oceans) [**]
  • Pissed Jeans: Honeys (Sub Pop) [B-]
  • Polvo: Siberia (Merge) [**]
  • Quadron: Avalanche (Vested in Culture) [**]
  • Queens of the Stone Age: . . . Like Clockwork (Matador) [B]
  • Rapsody: She Got Game (Jamla) [*]
  • Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory) [**]
  • The Replacements: Songs for Slim (New West, EP) [*]
  • Rhye: Woman (Polydor) [B]
  • Dawn Richard: Goldenheart (AltaVoz) [*]
  • Kim Richey: Thorn in My Heart (Yep Roc) [**]
  • Carrie Rodriguez: Give Me All You Got (Ninth Street Opus) [**]
  • Daniel Romano: Come Cry With Me (Normaltown) [*]
  • Caitlin Rose: The Stand-In (ATO) [*]
  • Kelly Rowland: Talk a Good Game (Universal Republic) [**]
  • RP Boo: Legacy (Planet Mu) [**]
  • Huerco S.: Colonial Patterns (Software) [***]
  • The Sadies: Internal Sounds (Yep Roc) [**]
  • Salva: Odd Furniture (Friends of Friends, EP) [B]
  • Sibiri Samake: Dambe Foli: Bamana Hunters Music (Kanaga SystemKrush '12) [**]
  • Boz Scaggs: Memphis (429) [**]
  • Secret Circuit: Tactile Galactics (Beats in Space) [***]
  • Serengeti: The Kenny Dennis LP (Anticon) [***]
  • Serengeti: Saal (Graveface, EP) [B]
  • Shad: Flying Colours (Black Box) [**]
  • Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants: All Hat and No Cattle (Side One Dummy, EP) [**]
  • Shlohmo: Laid Out (Friends of Friends, EP) [**]
  • Sigur Rós: Kveikur (XL) [B]
  • Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle (Nonesuch, 2CD) [**]
  • Skrillex: Leaving (Owsla, EP) [B]
  • Sleigh Bells: Bitter Rivals (Lucky Number) [**]
  • The Slide Brothers: Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers (Concord) [B]
  • Son Volt: Honky Tonk (Rounder) [*]
  • Sotho Sounds: Junk Funk (Riverboat '12) [**]
  • The Soul Rebels: Unlock Your Mind (Rounder '12) [B]
  • Eddie Spaghetti: The Value of Nothing (Bloodshot) [***]
  • Special Request: Soul Music (Houdstooth) [**]
  • Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana (Carpark) [**]
  • Alexander Spit: A Breathtaking Trip to That Otherside (Decon) [**]
  • Jyotsna Srikanth: Call of Bangalore (Riverboat) [*]
  • Peter Stampfel & the Worm All-Stars: A Sure Sign of Something (KormDigitaal '12) [**]
  • Mavis Staples: One True Vine (Anti-) [**]
  • Still Corners: Strange Pleasures (Sub Pop) [*]
  • Superchunk: I Hate Music (Merge) [**]
  • Swearin': Surfing Strange (Wichita) [**]
  • Earl Sweatshirt: Doris (Odd Future) [**]
  • SZA: S (self-released, EP) [B]
  • Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob (Vapor/Sire) [**]
  • Telekinesis: Dormarion (Merge) [**]
  • The-Dream: IV Play (Def Jam) [B]
  • The Thermals: Desperate Ground (Saddle Creek) [*]
  • These New Puritans: Field of Reeds (Infectious) [C+]
  • They Might Be Giants: Nanonbots (Idlewild) [***]
  • Linda Thompson: Won't Be Long Now (Pettifer Sounds) [***]
  • Richard Thompson: Electric (New West) [**]
  • Those Darlins: Blur the Line (Ow Wow Dang) [*]
  • Thundercat: Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) [C+]
  • Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience (RCA) [*]
  • Torres (self-released) [**]
  • Samba Touré: Albala (Glitterbeat) [**]
  • Transplants: In a Warzone (Epitaph) [***]
  • Rokia Traoré: Beautiful Africa (Nonesuch) [***]
  • Randy Travis: The Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am (Warner Brothers) [B]
  • Tropic of Cancer: Restless Idylls (Blackest Ever Black) [B-]
  • William Tyler: Impossible Truth (Merge) [**]
  • Tyler, the Creator: Wolf (Odd Future) [B]
  • Ben UFO: Fabriclive 67 (Fabric) [**]
  • The Underachievers: Indigoism (Brainfeeder) [*]
  • Valerie June: Pushin' Against a Stone (Sunday Best) [***]
  • Kurt Vile: Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador) [*]
  • Carmen Villain: Sleeper (Smalltown Supersound) [*]
  • Charles Walker & the Dynamites: Love Is Only Everything (Gemco) [B-]
  • Wavves: Afraid of Heights (Mom + Pop Music) [B]
  • Wax Tailor: Dusky Rainbow From the Dark (Le Plan/Lab'oratoire '12) [**]
  • The Weeknd: Kiss Land (Universal Republic) [*]
  • Kanye West: Yeezus (Def Jam) [*]
  • Barrence Whitfield and the Savages: Dig Thy Savage Soul (Bloodshot) [B]
  • #Willpower (Interscope) [*]
  • Kelly Willis/Bruce Robison: Cheater's Game (Premium/Thirty Tigers) [***]
  • Gretchen Wilson: Right on Time (Redneck) [B-]
  • Gretchen Wilson: Under the Covers (Redneck) [B]
  • Luke Winslow-King: The Coming Tide (Bloodshot) [*]
  • Betty Who: The Movement (self-released, EP) [**]
  • Wire: Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag) [**]
  • Chelsea Wolfe: Pain Is Beauty (Sargent House) [**]
  • The Wonder Years: The Greatest Generation (Hopeless) [**]
  • Wussy: Berneice Huff and Son, Bill Sings . . . Popular Favorites (Shake It) [***]
  • Yo La Tengo: Fade (Matador) [**]
  • Young Fathers: Tape One (Anticon, EP) [*]
  • Youth Lagoon: Wondrous Bughouse (Fat Possum) [B-]
  • Zansa: Djansa (self-released) [***]
  • Zomby: With Love (2013, 4AD, 2CD) [**]

Reissues, Compilations, Etc.: 30 total.

  • Belle and Sebastian: The Third Eye Centre (2002-10, Matador) [B]
  • Bola: Volume 7 (2009, Awesome Tapes From Africa '12) [***]
  • Len Bright Combo: Wreckless Eric Presents the Len Bright Combo (1986, Fire, EP) [**]
  • Cleaners From Venus: Blow Away Your Troubles (1981, Captured Tracks '12) [**]
  • Colomach (1974, Soundway) [*]
  • The Complete Stanley Dance Felsted "Mainstream Jazz" Recordings 1958-1959 (Fresh Sound '12, 9CD) [***]
  • The Dentists: Some People Are on the Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now (1985, Trouble in Mind) [*]
  • Dur-Dur Band: Volume 5 (1987, Awesome Tapes From Africa) [***]
  • Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) (Columbia/Legacy) [B]
  • Roky Erickson and the Aliens: The Evil One (1981, Light in the Attic) [B]
  • The Funkees: Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria's Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 (Soundway '12) [**]
  • Kiki Gyan: 24 Hours in a Disco: 1978-82 (1978-82, Soundway '12) [*]
  • Harafin So: Bollywood Inspired Film Music From Hausa Nigeria (Sahel Sounds) [**]
  • Joe Higgs: Unity Is Power (1979, Pressure Sounds) [**]
  • Lena Hughes: Queen of the Flat Top Guitar (1960s, Tompkins Square, EP) [**]
  • Jukebox Mambo: Rumba and Afro-Latin Accented Rhythm & Blues 1949-1960 (1949-60, Jazzman '12) [***]
  • Maloko: Soul on Fire (1980s, Introducing) [*]
  • The Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas (2002, Merge) [***]
  • Mutazione: Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 (Strut, 2CD) [*]
  • William Onyeabor: World Psychedelic Classics, Vol. 5: Who Is William Onyeabor? (1977-85, Luaka Bop) [**]
  • Rodion G.A.: The Lost Tapes (1978-84, Strut) [**]
  • The Rough Guide to Acoustic Africa (2000-12, World Music Network) [**]
  • The Rough Guide to African Disco (1976-2010, World Music Network) [*]
  • Sedayeh Del: Funk, Psychedelia and Pop From the Iranian Pre-Revolution Generation (Pharaway Sounds) [***]
  • Hank Snow: The Essential Hank Snow (1937-84, RCA/Legacy, 2CD) [***]
  • Songs: Ohia: Magnolia Electric Co. (2003, Secretly Canadian, 2CD) [***]
  • Irma Thomas: In Between Tears (1973, Alive Naturalsound) [***]
  • The Velvet Underground: White Light, White Heat [45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition] (1968, Verve, 3CD) [**]
  • Robert Wyatt: '68 (1968, Cuneiform) [***]
  • Neil Young: Live at the Cellar Door (1970, Reprise) [***]

Let's also list 2013 non-jazz records I haven't heard for one reason or another -- didn't get them, didn't find them online -- that I'd give a 2% or better chance of cracking the A-list (although I'm sure this is woefully imcomplete):

  • Action Bronson: Blue Chips 2 (Fool's Gold)
  • Actress: Silver Cloud (Ninja Tune, EP)
  • After Dark 2 (Italians Do It Better)
  • Matias Aguayo: The Visitor (Cómeme)
  • ASAP Ferg: Trap Lord (Columbia/RCA)
  • Daniel Avery: Drone Logic (Because)
  • Juliana Barwick: Nepenthe (Dead Oceans)
  • William Basinski: Nocturnes (2062)
  • Beyoncé (Columbia)
  • Bitchin Bajas: Bichitronids (Drag City)
  • The Black Twig Pickers: Rough Carpenters (Thrill Jockey)
  • Blood Orange: Cupid Deluxe (Domino)
  • Dean Blunt: The Redeemer (Hippos in Tanks)
  • Charles Bradley: Victim of Love (Daptone)
  • Bill Callahan: Dream River (Drag City)
  • Anna Calvi: One Breath (Domino)
  • Carcass: Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
  • Childish Gambino: Because the Internet (Glassnote)
  • Classixx: Hanging Gardens (Innovative Leisure)
  • Jayce Clayton: The Julius Eastman Memory Depot (New Amsterdam)
  • Mikal Cronin: MCII (Merge)
  • Death Grips: Government Plates (Third Worlds)
  • The Dirtbombs: Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey (In the Red)
  • El-P/Killer Mile: Run the Jewels (Fool's Gold
  • Ethnic Minority Music of Southern China (Sublime Frequencies)
  • Four Tet: 0181 (Text)
  • Four Tet: Beautiful Rewind (Temporary Residence/Text)
  • Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus (ATP)
  • Goldfrapp: Tales of Us (Mute)
  • John Grant: Pale Green Ghosts (Bella Union)
  • Grumbling Fur: Glynnaestra (Thrill Jockey)
  • Laurel Halo: Chance of Rain (Hyperdub)
  • The Heliocentrics: 13 Degrees of Reality (Now-Again)
  • Hiss Golden Messenger: Haw (Paradise of Bachelors)
  • The History of Apple Pie: Out of View (Marshall Teller)
  • Jenny Hval: Innodcence Is Kinky (Rune Grammofon)
  • Jagwar Ma: Howlin' (Mom + Pop Music)
  • Jamie Lidell (Warp)
  • John Wizards (Planet Mu)
  • Livity Sound (self-released)
  • Los Campesinos!: No Blues (Turnstile/Wichita)
  • Majical Cloudz: Impersonator (Matador)
  • Manic Street Preachers: Rewind the Film (Columbia)
  • Melt Banana: Fetch (Revolver USA)
  • Moderat: II (Monkeytown)
  • Thurston Moore & Loren Connors: The Only Way to Go Is Straight Through (Northern Spy)
  • Motorhead: Aftershock (UDR)
  • Mountains: Centralia (Thrill Jockey)
  • Laura Mvula: Sing to the Moon (RCA)
  • My Bloody Valentine: MBV (Pickpocket)
  • Myron & E: Broadway (Stones Throw)
  • The Necks: Open (Northern Spy)
  • Aiofe O'Donovan: Fossils (Yep Roc)
  • Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band: Take Me to the Land of Hell (Chimera Music)
  • Theo Parrish: Black Jazz Signature (Snow Dog)
  • Rainbow Arabia: F.M. Sushi (Time No Place)
  • LeAnn Rimes: Spitfire (Curb)
  • Ty Segall: Sleeper (Drag City)
  • Sky Larkin: Motto (Wichita)
  • Stellar Om Source: Joy One Mile (Rvng Intl)
  • Marnie Stern: The Chronicles of Marnia (Kill Rock Stars)
  • Stooshe: London With the Lights On (Warner Bros.)
  • Suede: Bloodsports (Ingrooves)
  • Otis Taylor: My World Is Gone (Telarc)
  • Veronica Falls: Waiting for Something to Happen (Slumberland)
  • White Denim: Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown)
  • Wussy: Duo (Shake It)
  • Young Fathers: Tape Two (Anticon)
  • Zola Jesus: Versions (Sacred Bones)


The list of 2012 releases graded after freeze date but with metacritic file scores ≥ 5, sorted by metacritic order:

  1. Tame Impala: Lonerism (Modular) [B] [266]
  2. Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (Warp) [**] [161]
  3. Father John Misty: Fear Fun (Sub Pop) [B] [113]
  4. Actress: R.I.P. (Honest Jon's) [***] [104]
  5. DIIV: Oshin (Captured Tracks) [**] [87]
  6. Hot Chip: In Our Heads (Domino) [*] [86]
  7. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (4AD) [B-] [81]
  8. Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD) [C-] [79]
  9. How to Dress Well: Total Loss (Acéphale) [B] [77]
  10. Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph) [B] [76]
  11. Taylor Swift: Red (Big Machine) [***] [76]
  12. Laurel Halo: Quarantine (Hyperdub) [B] [68]
  13. Dwight Yoakam: 3 Pears (Warner Brothers) [*] [46]
  14. Mac DeMarco: 2 (Captured Tracks) [*] [42]
  15. Allo Darlin': Europe (Slumberland) [A-] [41]
  16. Redd Kross: Researching the Blues (Merge) [C+] [41]
  17. Carter Tutti Void: Transverse (Mute) [***] [39]
  18. Holy Other: Held (Tri Angle) [B] [36]
  19. P.O.S: We Don't Even Live Here (Rhymesayers Entertainment) [*] [33]
  20. Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet the Congos: Icon Give Thank [FRKWYS Vol. 9] (RVNG Intl.) [*] [33]
  21. Can: The Lost Tapes (1968-77, Mute, 3CD) [A-] [32]
  22. Big K.R.I.T.: Live From the Underground (Def Jam) [A-] [31]
  23. Matthew E. White: Big Inner (Hometapes) [B] [30]
  24. Cold Specks: I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (Mute) [**] [28]
  25. Lianne La Havas: Is Your Love Big Enough? (Nonesuch) [***] [27]
  26. Plan B: Ill Manors (Atlantic) [*] [27]
  27. Antibalas: Antibalas (Daptone) [A-] [24]
  28. Lindstrøm: Smalhans (Smalltown Supersound) [**] [22]
  29. Jam City: Classical Curves (Night Sluggs) [**] [22]
  30. Patterson Hood: Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance (ATO) [***] [22]
  31. The Hives: Lex Hives (Disques Hives) [*] [21]
  32. Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12) [**] [19]
  33. Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 (Atlantic) [**] [19]
  34. Holly Herndon: Movement (RVNG Intl.) [B] [18]
  35. The dB's: Falling Off the Sky (Bar/None) [*] [17]
  36. Shovels & Rope: O' Be Joyful (Dualtone) [*] [17]
  37. Angel Haze: Reservation (self-released) [***] [15]
  38. Rodrigo y Gabriela & C.U.B.A.: Area 52 (ATO) [***] [15]
  39. Portico Quartet: Portico Quartet (Real World) [B] [14]
  40. Rihanna: Unapologetic (Def Jam) [***] [14]
  41. Sofrito: International Soundclash (Strut) [***] [14]
  42. Francis Debey: African Electronic Music 1975-1982 (Born Bad) [A-] [13]
  43. Lee Hazlewood: The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides (1968-71) (Light in the Attic) [B-] [13]
  44. Lindstrøm: Six Cups of Rebel (Smalltown Supersound) [B-] [13]
  45. Meshell Ndegéocello: Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone (Naïve) [*] [13]
  46. Kin: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell (Vanguard) [**] [12]
  47. Chelle Rose: Ghost of Browder Holler (Lil\' Damsel) [**] [12]
  48. Ondatrópica: Ondatrópica (Soundway) [A-] [11]
  49. Todd Terje: It\'s the Arps (Smalltown Supersound, EP) [A-] [11]
  50. Ruthie Foster: Let It Burn (Blue Corn) [*] [10]
  51. Mika: The Origin of Love (Casablanca) [A-] [10]
  52. Oren Ambarchi: Sagittarian Domain (Editions Mego) [***] [9]
  53. Alexander Hawkins Ensemble: All There, Ever Out (Babel) [**] [9]
  54. Chris Smither: Hundred Dollar Valentine (Signature Sounds) [*] [9]
  55. Black Prairie: A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart (Sugar Hill) [**] [8]
  56. Tim Maia: World Psychedelic Classics, Vol. 4: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia: Nobody Can Live Forever (1971-78, Luaka Bop) [***] [8]
  57. Mungolian Jet Set: Mungodelics (Smalltown Supersound) [***] [8]
  58. Dylan Hicks: Sings Bolling Greene (Two Deuces) [A-] [7]
  59. Lyle Lovett: Release Me (Lost Highway) [*] [7]
  60. Lindi Ortega: Cigarettes & Truckstops (Last Gang) [*] [7]
  61. Roller Trio: Roller Trio (F-ire) [***] [7]
  62. Saigon: The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses (Suburban Noize) [A-] [7]
  63. Bobby Bare: Darker Than Light (E1/Plowboy) [*] [6]
  64. Lana Del Rey: Paradise (Interscope, EP) [B] [6]
  65. Diplo: Express Yourself (Mad Decent, EP) [**] [6]
  66. Miniature Tigers: Pharaoh (Modern Art) [*] [6]
  67. William Parker Orchestra: Essence of Ellington: Live in Milano (AUM Fidelity, 2CD) [A-] [6]
  68. Gwilym Simcock/Tim Garland/Asaf Sirkis: Lighthouse (ACT) [B] [6]
  69. Waxahatchee: American Weekend (Don Giovanni) [*] [6]
  70. Batida: Batida (Soundway) [A-] [5]
  71. Caroline Herring: Camilla (Signature Sounds) [*] [5]
  72. Buddy Miller/Jim Lauderdale: Buddy and Jim (New West) [B-] [5]
  73. Matthew Ryan: In the Dusk of Everything (self-released) [**] [5]