An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, November 2, 2020
Music: Current count 34286  rated (+26), 214  unrated (-0).
Went to bed last night with chills. Finally found a thermometer after I got up, and still had a mild fever (100.7). Not much else in the way of symptoms. Seems unlikely to me that it is covid, but I expect to take it easy today, and monitor the situation. Will knock this out fast, then maybe read or watch some TV.
Week was short, as far as rating new records, not starting until I locked down the previous week on Thursday. Still, ran through a lot of records over the weekened. Phil Freeman's Stereogum column helped, as did Dave Sumner's at Bandcamp, and Tim Niland's blog. (Sorry I don't feel like tracking down the links.)
Made a mistake in yesterday's Weekend Roundup: It should be Laura Lombard, as the Democrat running for the House 4th Congressional District in Kansas (not "Carol"). When editing that, I resisted the temptation to add "creepy" to her opponent Ron Estes' name, although that's the adjective that always comes to mind.
Robert Christgau tweeted about my Weekend Roundup:
Also in my Twitter feed was this from Admiral Mike Franken:
A reasonable lesson to draw from this is that we should never allow sitting presidents to run for second terms. Of course, like so many things, this was a less obvious abuse of power before Trump.
Also in the Twitter feed is one from Trump ("The Depraved Swamp have been trying to stop me - because they know I don't answer to THEM - I answer only to YOU"). I suppose it's possible that by "swamp" Trump meant something other than the obvious point about how lobbyists have so much influence in Washington, but he never corrected the misperception. He simply made a mockery of it. As Public Citizen notes in quoting Trump's tweet:
Front page headline in the Wichita Eagle today: Guns and ammo fly off the shelves in Wichita. Page two headline: Wichita police: Suicide attempts involving guns up 150% in 2020. My first thought was that this sounds like a self-correcting problem, but the scales don't work out. I understand why people on both sides are terrified by the prospect of losing this election -- not that I think Trump supporters have anything serious to worry about -- but it escapes me how anyone could think the solution is stockpiling guns.
If you haven't already voted, do so tomorrow. It is, quite literally, the least you can do. Next week we'll unpack some of the results, but quite frankly, I'm looking forward to not having to deal with so much insanity on a weekly basis.
New records reviewed this week:
Ainon: Drought (2020, We Jazz): Finnish cellist Aino Juutilainen, probably her first album as leader, quartet with Satu-Maija Aalto (violin/viola), Suvi Linnovaara (sax/clarinet/flute), and Joonas Leppänen (drums). B+(**)
Autechre: Sign (2020, Warp): English electronica duo, Rob Brown and Sean Booth, 14 studio albums since 1993. Quasi-industrial push-pull, decorated with the occasional squiggle. B
Autechre: Plus (2020, Warp): Released a couple weeks after Sign, feels like leftovers. Still, might have an edge for humor, or maybe I'm just in a better mood. B
Ballrogg: Rolling Ball (2020, Clean Feed): Norwegian trio -- Klaus Ellerhusen Holm (clarinets), Roger Arntzen (bass), and David Stackenäs (guitars) -- second album. Drumless, the guitar well under control, offers a free chamber jazz effect. B+(*)
Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Deceptive 4 (2009-17 , Intakt, 2CD): The alto saxophonist's main group for more than a decade now, originally appearing on his 2012 Snakeoil ECM debut. Oscar Noriega (clarinets) offers a contrasting horn, Matt Mitchell plays piano, and Ches Smith drums. First disc is a 2017 set at Firehouse 12. Second picks up tracks from two early shows (the 2nd and 4th played by the group). I struggled with Berne's early music, then it seemed like he really hit his stride in the 1990s, but I've never been a big fan of this particular group, and this is a bit much on edge. B+(**)
Call Super: Every Mouth Teeth Missing (2020, Incienso): British electronica producer Joseph Richmond-Seato, third album, first two I liked a lot. A misstep to start, then this starts to find itself, just enough beats to keep you going, just enough embellishment to stave off monotony. B+(***)
Chrome Hill: This Is Chrome Hill (2019 , Clean Feed): Norwegian quartet, fourth album since 2008 (second on Clean Feed), led by guitarist Asbjørn Lerheim, with Atle Nymo (tenor sax), Roger Arntzen (bass), and Torstein Lofthus (drums). B+(*)
Mino Cinelu/Nils Petter Molvaer: SulaMadiana (2020, Modern): Percussion and trumpet duo, French and Norwegian, the latter has a major career in jazztronica, Cinelu less famous but three years older -- I especially liked his Kenny Barron duo, Swamp Sally (1995). Four dedications: one to tribes of the Amazon, two Africans, Jimmy Cobb. No electronics, but exotic enough to set up the trumpet. A-
Joachim Cooder: Over That Road I'm Bound: The Songs of Uncle Dave Macon (2020, Nonesuch): Ry Cooder's son, started playing drums as a child, also keyboards. Has a couple previous albums, side credits mostly on his father's albums. Clever misdirection, but not that good a fit. B
Dagny: Strangers/Lovers (2020, Polydor, EP): Norwegian pop singer, full name Dagny Norvoll Sandvik, singles back to 2011 but this six song, 19:42 digital download is the closest she's come to an album. Pretty good songs, especially the closer ("Tension"). B+(**)
Fat Tony: Exotica (2020, Carpark): Houston rapper Anthony Lawson Obi (or Obiawunaotu), early record called Smart Ass Black Boy, more to the point than this title, although this does include a title in French. Nine tracks, 26:52, flows and bounces and wigges a bit. B+(***)
Ariana Grande: Positions (2020, Republic): Pop star, sixth album since 2013, typical pop production where all songs have 5+ writers and 3+ producers, where Tommy Brown and Steven Franks are ubiquitous but never sufficient. B+(*)
Home Counties: Redevelopment (2020, Alcopop!, EP): UK alt/indie band, from Bristol, first record (five tracks, 15:46). Kinky enough they may be worth following. B+(*)
Keith Jarrett: Budapest Concert (2016 , ECM, 2CD): Solo piano, dozens of albums like this, but since a couple of strokes in 2018 sidelined him, the supply is looking more finite, therefore more precious. B+(**)
Junk Magic: Compass Confusion (2020, Pyroclastic): Group named for a 2004 Craig Taborn album, part of Matthew Shipp's "Blue Series" of avant-jazztronica albums on Thirsty Ear (and not a particularly successful one in my opinion). Taborn was gaining recognition for his innovative use of electronic keyboards, before eventually establishing himself as one of his generation's finest pianists. This quintet -- Chris Speed (sax), Eric Fratzke (bass), Mat Maneri (viola), David King (drums) -- is both a throwback to his electronica, and a step forward comparable to Kris Davis' poll-topping Diatom Ribbons. I admire the dark and dirty sound more than I like it. B+(***) [cd]
Takuya Kuroda: Fly Moon Die Soon (2020, First Word): Trumpet player, from Japan, studied at Berklee, settled in New York, half-dozen albums since 2010. Lively funk-fusion, don't have credits but two songs feature Corey King (trombonist and, evidently, singer, although someone else does "Sweet Sticky Things"). B+(***)
Adrianne Lenker: Songs (2020, 4AD): Singer-songwriter, second solo album since she co-founded Big Thief (4 albums). Low-key, has some nice spots. B+(*)
Malin Pettersen: Wildhorse (2020, Die With Your Boots On): Country singer-songwriter from Norway -- Bandcamp tags include "americana, country, nordicana, norwegicana, roots." Has the voice, plus some songs. B+(**)
Mikkel Ploug: Balcony Lullabies (2020, Stunt): Danish guitarist, fifth album, second solo effort. Nice within its limits. B+(*)
Serengeti: With Greg From Deerhoof (2020, Joyful Noise): Greg Saunier and David Cohn crossed paths several times, including a gig in Berlin that produced a 17:16 "I Got Your Password," leading to the long-distance collaborations added here: Saunier emailed music tracks, and Cohn added raps. B+(*)
Sun Ra Arkestra: Swirling (2018 , Strut): Ghost band, the former Herman Poole Blount having departed this dimension in 1993, leaving alto saxophonist Marshall Allen (now 96) in charge, a link going back to the 1950s. Billed as the group's first album since 1999, but no recording date given, so when? Presumably before two members passed: Danny Ray Thompson in March, 2020, and Stanley "Atakatune" Morgan in October, 2018. Long album (13 tracks, 92:58), has some rough spots, quite a few vocals (Tara Middleton), a generous helping of that old cosmic swing. A- [bc]
Richard Thompson: Bloody Noses (2020, Beeswing, EP): All acoustic solo quarantine music, "some harmony vocals by Zara Phillips," six very solid songs, 24:41. B+(***)
Jeff Tweedy: Love Is the King (2020, dBpm): Leader of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, fourth solo album since 2020. Nice songs. B+(**)
Ben Wendel: High Heart (2020, Edition): Tenor saxophonist, from Vancouver, BC; albums since 2008. Also plays piano/Wurlitzer on three tracks (although Gerald Clayton and Shai Maestro also have keyboard credits), bassoon on one. More trouble for me is Michael Mayo ("vocals/EFX"). B
Miki Yamanaka: Human Dust Suite (2020, Inside Out Music): Pianist, also plays vibraphone, from Kobe, Japan, based in New York, at least two previous albums, this a quartet with Anthony Orji (alto sax), Orlando le Fleming (bass), and Jochen Rueckert (drums). One piece by Randy Weston, the rest originals. B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Just Dopped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) (2001-17 , Daptone): Retro-soul outfit, first album 2002, ended with Jones' death in 2017. Covers compilation, most not on the group's seven albums. Right up their alley, but the best songs inevitably remind you of better ones. B+(*) [bc]
Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Unity: Live at Storyville, New York, October 1977 (1977 , Enterplanetary Koncepts): Leader plays organ and "rocksichord," band tops out at 20, including singer June Tyson, but mostly you get hard swinging soul jazz. B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: