The Freelance Mentalists.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
  Hi-Lo & Middlin' Lightnin': Pazz & Jop Ballot/Comments 2014


By Don Allred

ALBUMS:
10 points each, just in the order they come to mind (except when not really):

  1. Bob Dylan and The Band: The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Deluxe Edition) (Columbia Legacy)
  2. Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time (Domino)
  3. (various artists): Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell (Yep Roc)
  4. Drive-By Truckers: English Oceans (ATO)
  5. Lydia Loveless: Somewhere Else (Bloodshot)
  6. tUnE-yArDs: Nikki Nack (4AD)
  7. Noura Mint Seymali: Tzenni (Glitterbeat)
  8. Beyonce: Beyonce: Platinum Edition (Columbia)
  9. Wussy: Attica! (Shake It)
  10. Guerilla Toss: 367 Equalizer (NNA)

Hon. Mentions: Jon Langford & Skull Orchard: Here Be Monsters, Neneh Cherry: The Blank Project (Deluxe), Sonny Rollins, The Road Shows Vol. 3, Mr. Twin Sister: s/t, Luke James: s/t, Nação Zumbi: s/t, Juçara Marçal: Encarnado, Omar Khorshid and His Group: Live in Australia 1981, Makthaverskan: II,  Guerilla Toss: Smack The Brick, Neil Young: Storytone (Deluxe Edition), A Letter Home, Tinariwen: Radio Tisdas, Amassakoul, (various artists): I'm Just Like You: Sly's Stone Flower 1969-70, The Brothers and Sisters: Dylan's Gospel,  Tom Ze: Vira na Via Lactea, Brian Blade Fellowhsip: Landmarks, Sun Ra and His Arkestra: In The Orbit of Ra, Perfume Genius: Too Bright, Sylvie Simmons: Sylvie, (various artists): Peru Bravo: Funk Soul & Psych From Peru's Radical Decade, Richard Dawson: Nothing Important, St. Vincent: s/t, Thompson: Family, Richard Thompson: Acoustic Classics,  The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: Days of Abandon (Deluxe Edition), Jessie Ware: Tough Love, Thurston Moore:The Best Day, Chris Smither: Still On The Levee, James Blackshaw: Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat,  Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems

Others (40-65% Good):
Arto Lindsay: The Encyclopedia of Arto, Marianne Faithfull: Give My Love To London,   Run The Jewels: RTJ 2, FKA Twigs: LP1, Death Grips: niggaz on the moon, Mary J. Blige: The London Sessions, Ariana Grande: My Everything (Deluxe Edition), Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Tastes, People (feat. Mary Halvorson): 3xaWoman: The Misplaced Files, Jason Moran: All Rise: A  Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller

SINGLES
  1. Jon Langford & Skull Orchard: Drone Operator (Bloodshot)
  2. Lorde: Flicker (Kanye West Rework) (Republic)
  3. Neneh Cherry: Across The Water (Smalltown Supersound)
  4. D'Angelo/The Vanguard: Till It's Done (Tutu) (RCA)
  5. Sly Stone/Joe Hicks: Life & Death in G & A (Parts 1 & 2) (Light In The Attic)
  6. Sonny Rollins: Patanjali (OKeh)
  7. Nação Zumbi: Novas Auroras (Polysom/Trama)
  8. Juçara Marçal: Velho Amarelo (self-released, no label)
  9. Mr. Twin Sister: Sensitive (Twin Group)
  10. Makthaverskan: OutShine (Run For Cover)
Hon. Mentions: Sleater-Kinney:  Surface Envy, No Cities To Love, Bury Our Friends, Richard Dawson: The Vile Times, St. Vincent: I Prefer Your Love, Sparrow, Pieta, Marianne Faithfull: Going Home, Luke James: The Glass House, Perfume Genius: Grid  



Comments:


Just before breaking down and buying Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Deluxe Edition):
Good point by Michaelangelo Matos in deadspin re "Clothes Line Saga"and"Ode To Billy Joe." The former is life as many a young boondocker (def me 'n' Bobby Pre-D.) lived it much of the time, any real or reverie Billy Joes aside. Reminds me, was already thinking "Silent Weekend" is kissless cousin to "Lonely Weekends" by mid-60s Charlie Rich, as written (yet wisely minus any paraphrase of the performance, esp. where country, bluesy cat Charlie suddenly roars, "Well I make it all RIGHT," slams into a wall, and bops off into the rest of the chorus, which coming around again, "From-uh Mon-day mornin' 'til Fri-day night/But oh-h-h, those lone-leh weekends").
Also recall BD name-checking Rich, along with Percy Mayfield (think Sir Douglas was mentioned in same mid-ish 60s interview). R. Stone recently mentioned a reel labelled "Charley Rich" among the Basement (it was actually an attached garage) trove, maybe a home tape of Rich records, the reporter thought (what if it's all Rich covers though?!)
Later:
About 23 tracks in, and it's fine: press coverage tends to over-emph. the "realness": laidback stoner vibe and the good business move of stockpiling no-budget new song demos for coverage by other hitmakers. These tracks are fluid, but intense, or intent, and mostly covers so far (think most of the total is not original, but I haven't checked allll those credits yet). We get the emotional/stylistic range and levels at the core of his appeal from the beginning. Incl. the humor: much enjoy that "Folsom Prison Blues" here sounds like the Band is playing "dum dum dum dum doo wah diddy, talk about the boy from New York City," which totally fits the loose flair of D.'s singing (the convict, still regretful, is also getting cranked up on cellblock cocktails). This performance of "The Bells of Rhymney" starts reminding me of "All Tomorrow's Parties," to the further credit of both songs and their performers, incl. writers.
No matter how he tortures his voice, it all works out (though: he knows when to start over in another key (not very often) and the road vets are unfazed, they've seen it all (prob had the occasional club patron come up onstage, when there was a stage. and demand to sing). Roots seem to incl Beats (the Beats were often, maybe always, at their best as performers, at least as recorded): festive & fatalistically-inclined, which go w both blues & country o course---no fingerprinting or sneers here, tho' the laid-back zingers of "Clothesline Saga" are up ahead.
But no matter how self-mocking or plain fun-loving he gets, or deeply empathetic for that matter (and so often relishing the flavor and texture and structure of songs and singing)(even as his savoring changes the structures sometimes, “remixing” ancient covers and works in progress as they’re being recorded, maybe with a taste for the sonic equivalents of his recent cinema verite experience, his tumultuous life on- and backstage in Don’t Look Back ), what's coming through more and more is a sense of freaked-out, unappeasable accountability.
Not that you can’t find a lot of this in old-school country, especially the kind scientifically designed to increase the lucrative linkin’ of thinkin’ and drinkin’, even if you have to make a big loud dark joke of it, and even if it’s really true that (as I’ve quoted Jerry Garcia before, swear I saw it in a Rolling Stone interview),”The real punchline of every joke is, ‘And then he died.’” (rimshot).
  I can't un-know that this is when he was supposedly all happy as a young hubby and pappy (they're moving sessions around so as not to disturb the tots). And while. sure he's letting off steam, and already "yowling like a tomcat up the backstairs," as I think xgau said of Planet Waves, he's also not million miles from the strung-out, mental relationship trap of "Dirge", also on PW, (most obviously on BT, in the grinding, wailing, squeezing dirges of "Tears of Rage" and "Goin' To Acapulco",  the latter burg being where he's bound in several ways to have some "fu-un": turning up as sure as the aces of humor and pleasure and maybe even joy do elsewhere on these tapes and so many others in the 60s, where he's usually on a roll no matter how he feels, which may spook him sometimes) or the version of "Ballad of A Thin Man" (which recalls an interview: "When I say "you" I mean 'I') on Before The Flood. Both of those albums have him back with the Band, like something else has to come out, at least for a while (even if it has to get by "Forever Young"). All going back to these sessions, at least as much as the '66 tour weirdness.
I also can't un-know that a tape from '61 or '62 already has him dropping the cute Bobby D. mask long enough to snarl through "Wade In The Water" like he's commanding the audience to come be baptized in Shit Creek---speaking of a freaked-out, unappeasable sense of accountability, drawn on and distilled for protest, punk etc. purposes, and the gospel phase didn't seem so bad once I heard him start out preaching "Serve Somebody," and already veering away, resorting to "You can call me Ray," which was a line from a TV commercial, which I think starred Gallagher (or. even better, somebody doing a rip-off imitation of) the TV/club comic who had been a carnie and/or boardwalk hawker: a professional jive turkey, to use the 70 TV parlance: loud 'n'proud). So, a touch of the ol' Basement Tapes head-flow, and a clue that this too should pass, hallelujah, and another bottle 'o' bread. ("This" meaning the full-time evangelist bit, not spiritual quest, other underlying concerns, sometimes resurfacing in different forms).
There’s also that Chronicles mention of going to the New York Public Library in the ‘60s, and seeing how very old newspapers find and further develop ways to talk all around something too bad to mention, something approaching  ‘67’s John Wesley Harding, for instance. Pretty close to these sessions, as the crow flies, anyway..
Still later:
Last night I made it through most takes of his songs selected for the '75 double-LP (didn't miss Robertson and engineer Frabroni's overdubs and other tweaks). Mostly, they chose the right ones, given the amount of room reserved for the Band's own tracks (incl. newly recorded tracks, according to recent Rolling Stones)What the heck, they pretty much earned it. They're always in combo, on point with Dylan: unobtrusive, upfront, adaptable as needed. Think I'm getting into Robertson specifically for the first time ever, despite having heard almost all their albums. Did he do anything worth hearing after he left these guys?
Tracks that made it to the double (though I still haven't made to most of the funny ones) continue re xpost accountability, though no longer freaked out: might sound like confrontations to outsiders, but citizens call 'em business meetings ("Wheel's On Fire" just following up), while the John Wesley Harding narrator skulks around the edges, and the kid in "Open The Door Homer" maybe trains to be a made guy (or girl? Is that why he actually sings "Rachel," despite "Homer" in the title??)
"All American Boy"---is this a parody of Bobby Bare's first, flukey hit of the same title?
(Greil Marcus reads "All American Boy" as a parody of the Bare song iirc.
one way street, Friday, December 5, 2014 11:43 AM  This and following responses are from  Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series thread on I Love Music message board)
(think he's singing open the door, richard there -- some kind of reference to this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_the_Door,_Richard
more via wiki as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Basement_Tapes_songs_%281975%29#.22Open_the_Door.2C_Homer.22
tylerw, Friday, December 5, 2014 11:46 AM
(Discussion then gets way into Robertson's post-Band career etc, since I asked)
Thanks guys. Got from the grotesque yet sympathy-inducing-from-distance torment of "Sign On The Cross" (with the cute gentle radio preacher intermittently broadcasting more little chills---"maybe that door is closed" "don't worry 'bout it, just sing your song"---if you're not among the Elect, might as well) to don't ya tell Henry that weird thing I just disclosed to you, note to self even, and why is Henry the one to keep it from, to that good old apple suckling tree, only now I notice even this has something about hell in it, and all lil children hollerin at us, who are cruisin on the Greyhound bus, "Get your rocks off/getyourrocksoffMe" and the billowing sidewalk of gimme another "Bourbon Street" and this tube amp, balls up "Blowin In The Wind" "take 'til he KNOWS" the isolation and uncertainty, eh Heisnberg, cos there's always also one who knocks, the neighbor or somebody else.
Anyway, my only question tonight is, did Beefheart ever comment on this stuff, or on Dylan at all? And, thinking of the doowop, did Zappa? (no response)
"that weird thing I just disclosed to you about your fly," meant to say. Also meant there's always the original Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and yet also always someone like Mr Walt Heisenberg White of course, maybe young or old and daily growing somewhere within you without you (salute to good old Uncle George Harrison again)
What's got me back into Robertson is all these perfect little interjections, fills, transitions, hinges on the CBTs' I know he can do the big solos when called on, like on Before The Flood, but that's still part of being such a good accompanist for Dylan (also on subsequent tracks like "Dirge," for instance), whatever the clashes with others (like maybe the Band, maybe that's part of the fairly quick diffusion etc, the precipitous drop-off in consistency re the their own albums). I wanna check their boxset, Across The Great Divide, right? Hope that's the title; applies to their internal probs.
Anyway, just came here now to be amazed by the first six tracks on Disc Six (seems like BD's touch on that early electric piano; those weren't very touch-sensitive, but his pawing works), and sure hope somebody covers some, especially/most likely "That's The Breaks," country soul casual stunner; could still hear Aretha or Jerry Lee doing this right (good BD rarity, "Stepchild," on JLL's new Rock & Roll Time, which should be called something like Country Boogie. He's done at least one good previous cover of Dylan, "Rita May," forget which album). Back to listening. (Also like the laffy yet attentive-to-details version of "Hallelujah, I've Just Been Moved.")
Really is too bad the Disc Six tapes weren't available for coverage back on the 60s (now listening to "Pretty Mary"). "She laughed in my face and she ran away---whoohoohoohoohoo---" Now to thee unlisted
(PS: Why didn’t Dylan release some of these folk-country chestnuts, and maybe a few compatible originals, as a these-are-my-roots Self-Portrait, if he really just wanted to get fanatical Dylanologists off his back, as he says in Chronicles? A nice woodsy collection would have settled expectations down for a while, mebbe saving “Wheels On Fire,” and some others with involved lyrics, for another chapter in the great saga. But: these tracks, and the songs themselves, are too rowdy for the smooth romantic escapism which I thought he was going for, back when the actual Self-Portrait first came out. They’re also too much fun (ditto the juicy originals, incl the more torturous ones) for the buzz-off, HEY YOU KIDS GET OFFA MY CLOUD OUTTA MY YARD effect I later thought he was going for (people were showing up on his front porch at 3 AM, he’s said somewhere, probably in Chronicles). Taking all that even further, and back to where he may have thought he was trying to get away from, his real roots: these tracks, and the good ‘uns on Another Self-Portrait, were simply too good, too simply good, to trigger the kind of  Dylan-sized publicity drama each album was supposed to provide, and which the actual Self-Portrait did provide in spades, flinging facefuls of string-fed, expertly low-cased nothing. Never mind a lifer’s inevitable bumps in the road, or slow decay, and/or whatever you might think you glimpsed in the sunlit trickle-down of Nashville Skyline---this was suddenly, masterfully bad as all previous albums were good. Subsequent releases could likely seem better by comparison, or so he might hope.)

Beyonce, s/t Platinum Edition
Beyonce (and her elves, who never fail, no more than The Band fails Dylan) give me a vision of her vision. She's  "Haunted" by the never-fail view of deep connection to her audience: as far as she can reach into you and form an attachment, that's how much she's surrounded and attached. Later, she's  a shivering force of nature: sharks gotta swim, birds gotta fly---and sing, yes----everybody's gotta eat. Not, whatever the Biz tells you,  a choice of "Eat or be eaten," not ultimately, because ultimately everything's eaten, by a bigger/newer beast or worms, microbes, 'til they too get recycled. All of this science is dropped in strategically evocative/timed portions,  as precisely as any acid tab one might (possibly) require. Ditto a taste or two of what it's like to be awesomely drunk x horny x rich. And Bey hosts at least one succintly feminist statement, the freedom principle of which triumphantly, mischievously and, O Lord yes, subversively, in a crit-and-other-reviewer-bait way, recontextualizes another guest's "I'm Ike Turner….eat the cake, Annie Mae." Never to be confused with Marie Antoinette. "I'm Mike---" Yaddah-yaddah, and all the guy guestperts (on the bonus disc too)  make her look even more masterful, one way or another.

Like the mind-meld troupers of Dylan's finally legit, finally Complete (?) mid-60s garage-as-Basement shows, and Beyonce's self-titled, so-far-definitive,cusp-of-'13/'14  self-portrait, D'Angelo's Vanguard--- including veteran Prince accompanists, and a George Clinton-tested lyricist---give him what he wished for. Black Messiah's very belated retro-neo-soul groove rewards some immediate and much more repeated exposure (even the title requires and gets additional clarification from the artist), but the vocals, especially, demand comparison, so some of my repeated listening is to the actual Sly (for instance, the 2014 anthology I'm Just Like You: Sly's Stone Flower 1969-70, with startling, timely electronics x social implications: the Sly x Joe Hicks meld tells it, "If it feeeels good, it's all right," and cogently calls it "Love  & Death in G & A (Parts 1 & 2)", with all points made and taken, all bases loaded and covered).
More of a problem: the vocals can seem straining for effect, perhaps all too conscious, on some level, of the comparisons with Sly (and Prince) which D'Angelo may be compelled to compel. But the main distraction: when he strains, he blurs the intriguing lyrics (which, he elsewhere assures us, sometimes address pressing social concerns), especially in multi-tracking, when all the dubbed D'Angelos  tend to hover anxiously. Although "Sugah Daddy" brings sweet relief, just whipping those precious vocal layers around, seemingly devil-may-care, but always with a little Kringle tingle.
Best of all, so far: "Till It's Done (Tutu)," with words that quickly brush and scratch the surface  of communication, in between deeper drops (both approaches are also found in those songs/tracks busy being born on The Basement Tapes Complete), and seem, for a while like they may just settle for atmosphere, surrounded by other sweet sounds. But a melodic line keeps forming, rising, darting away and coming back, with more and more clearly felt commitment, to resolution, and emergence, on whatever level can be reached, with open air that can still be breathed.

Makthaverskan II: Female wails Swede "anti" pop post punk, spinning sun songs on stolen skis. When that gets thin, stomp: bit.ly/1wMiN3f
Neneh Cherry, Blank Project Deluxe: Adventures of vox bass drums x/vs. sonically suggested neuromonitoring. Can b just right, or not; mixes add welcome variety, insight. Also rec 2 fans of JG Ballard, Grace Jones (check Grace on Mockingjay soundtrack!)
(more after space)










Thurston Moore, The Best Day : Ace gtr cld use edits, but dig title track, Jim Morrisonic opener, Mark E. Smith phrasing on autobio "Detonation," "Germs Burn"!

Chris Smither, Still On The Levee: The rattling finger-picker's re-recorded originals (and a few covers) startle, as on-point weathervane arrangements draw from jazz, chamber-Americana, even hard rock, without feeling shoehorned. Vox-wise, trademark corrugated clarity never settles for macho-folkie poses, though it can get a mite too comfortable with  the occasionally overworked epigrammatic, aphoristic aspects of his congenially conversational, always searching words. "If she'd just talk, you could explain it all."  So come 'n' ride this train o' thought.

Robert Wyatt, Different Every Time
before listening:
Spotify's got this Wildeflowers comp, mostly diligent, advanced-placement kid demos (versions of Hopper's "Memories" get better and better)---but Wyatt, singing and drumming, is unmistakably himself, at all tymes. A couple of his ballads give me chills.
Just listened to Disc 1 of Different Every Time, listening companion to bio of the same name.  Starts boldly with Soft Machine's epic (long) "Moon June," but no prob: Machine Mole's"Signed Curtain" aside (vocal is definition of twee), the sequence of tracks just keeps building, so resourceful and assertive and dramatic and lucid and fluid and well you know. Wonder if he chose 'em?
Disc 2 offers new as well as old, according to the npr guy's mostly non-essential text ("wondrously elfin," yeeesh).
Just finished the equally epic (maybe more, in terms of range and sweep) Disc 2, "Benign Dictatorships."  The  rare Cage track is a strong finish to the astute sequence. No "Biko," but you could easily (as several have) make up another (at least) 2-disc RW anthology, with no duplication of tracks, yet equally representative, and unmistakably him. It all builds from his voice, where strength can sound fragile---as it is, as everything is, at some point---but he usually knows how far to take it, and in what direction, and why.
From Rolling Outernational (ILM thread
Peru Bravo: Funk, Soul & Psych: converging urges in thee garageverse, often spying & flying w options unforeseen by this jaded cratedigger
That's the fascination of these late-breaking comps: just when I think I've heard all the 60s-70s local legends I can stand…
the s/t Nacao Zumbi is really impressive. Only thing (currently) keeping it off my P&J Albums list: the male lead vocalist seems a little too reserved, though if I were Lusophone, might well not think so (my ignorance doesn't keep me as far from xpost Jucara or especially Noura, though). Guest Marisa Monte/s sole guest appearance draws him out, but mainly can't help wishing NZ would hitch themselves to another front person (not "another" Chico Science, can't ask that much). Gotta find room for one of these tracks among my P&J Singles…
The way they use assertive noise, nuanced melodies, tight,flexible mix of rhythms & beats---all seems like, "Of course we do this, now this is what we have to say," but I haven't quite caught enough of the last yet, given limited P&J openings---for my Outernational Top Ten, #OHellYes.
Juçara Marçal - Encarnado
http://dedicatedearsfreealbumlist.blogspot.com/2014/03/jucara-marcal-encarnado-free-dl.html
(Free DL)
Amazing! Female voice, I think (though the Google translation keeps saying "he": trans? Some themes of spiritual and physical death and resurrection as rendered in somewhat brain-twisting English) No hint of goth/anything portentous/pretentious in the sung melodies, which are countered and commented on by two guitarists, each with his own approach; sax and violin occasionally drop in, very deftly. Guess I'll mention "post-Tropicalia," which the press kit does too; it's also right about the bits of skronk, avant-garage etc in the guitar styles (yo Arto, Ribot). Ditto around the edges of the sax, I say.
Speaking of Arto, that double-disc studio/live anthology Encyclopedia of Arto was out this year, wasn't it? Loved the live, but the studio set could've have been better chosen: most of the tracks they or he picked were way too overcooked or something.
Noura Mint Seymali's Tzenni is maybe even more amazing than  Jucara Marcal's Encarnado, because while the latter fits the highwire soul post-tradition of post-Tropicalia, almost post-avant (Arto/Ribot) melody x mutation---in other words, new configurations of known elements and urges---Seymali's sound expands my ears and vocabulary. Although, while reading the bio after listening, I did have a few associations reinforced by mention of colleagues Tinariwen and especially Bassakou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, 'cause I sometimes had fleeting flashbacks to Jama Ko while spinning in Seymali's wake. Even tried to say it on Twitter:
Noura Mint Seymali, Tzenni: Her voice ripples soars dips pivots around sinewy subtle elec 4tet griot Arabclassical psychfunkoid Sahel system
Tom Ze---another Twitter attempt:
Tom Ze, Vira Lata na Via Lactea: Tropicalia sorcerer & friends in fine vox, tight & tuneful, unfazed by maze (gtrs snares etc customize it) Not one of his big avant etc projects, but contemplative and witty, in that seemingly casual, but always on point A to Ze way.
I've seem him called the Beefheart of Brazil(!), but in sets like these, if there must be a comparison, Cole Porter as quirky socio-poitical (incl sexual politics) pop-rocker (of Brazil!) would be a relatively closer fit.
I've liked all the Tinariwen albums I've heard, which is most of 'em, to various degrees (some of the later tracks can seem too introspective, introverted, even) But was really struck by first-time encounters with Amassakoul and Radio Tisdas, both reissued this year. The excitement really comes across, and there's a variety of engaging voices, incl. females. These seem like the ones to start with for sure.
Omar Khorshid and His Group
Live in Australia 1981
Post-surf electric Eastern modal clarity in waves, wires (duh), and other forms.
Sound quality doesn't bother me at all, though if I knew his studio, suppose it might. Can always turn it up. The excitement of music and audience def cuts through.

Chuck Cleaver had a record store back in the late 80s, maybe early 90s, and used to write some of the funniest Goldmine Magazine ad copy ever--I ordered a bunch of stuff from him (it helped that I was way into Ohio punk and indie). Later I heard that he and some of his employees had a band; checkout Ass Ponys' Electric Rock Music, really liked his boondocks tales(before Drive-By Truckers of The Hold Steady, or at least before I knew about 'em). Lo & Behold, "Little Bastard" was a hit of sorts, with a trailer park video on MTV.
Much later, got to cover some Wussy shows, which is pretty much when I started listening to them, starting with Strawberry.  Really like most of their album tracks, hoping for a live set.
Tried to say it on Twitter:
Wussy, Attica!: luvly noise x melody ---> strata of time & space as boondocks, astute students of Neil Y, hot peers of Truckers, Hold Steady
Thinking of narrators, "characters" or not, with personal history incl musical influences: where the DBT & THS comparisons come in. The Beautiful Losers bit on every track, but no prob listening over and over, for a couple hours at a time,  which I rarely do with other albums.
In a series of events that's a first for me, Lisa Walker responded, retweeted, and now Wussy and I are Following each other. They better not start sucking.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1: past weak 1st quarter (or so), currently dig most trax, esp. Lorde's "Flicker (Kanye West Rework)" resets tension x dreamatic surge. Even better than original, which releases tension w higher pitched, slightly cheesy refrain

Perfume Genius,Too Bright : complexities cut by phrasing & momentum, vox can find space above or in electronic & other pressure converging.

Luke James, s/t Deluxe: pushes romantic distress toward distortion, sudden showers, headphones splendor, "constantly risking absurdity" amen
Luke James, s/t Deluxe cont. Didn't know, but figures he's from NOLA w bold range, also deep AfriBrit studies extending US R&B mainstream(?)
"deep AfriBrit studies": seems like he knows a lot about, say, Massive Attack, trip-hop, dub, other Caribbean-associated elements in UK popular music, and the Brit response to "normal" and more overtly out-there American R&B (some of Marvin Gaye's more adventurous sessions, Michael, Janet, R. Kelly, Bilal, Miguel---nothing too specific, just little flashes and jabs of association in my listening experience).
I think his style and sensibility makes it cohesive *enough*, considering that he's into flashy, even dazzling effects (oh yeah, somewhere in the initial tracks, I was thinking of Erasure, or some other kind of Vince Clarke patterns, behind him: "Brit," but not "Afri," 'til James made use of 'em)

Sylvie Simmons, Sylvie: "The sunlight burned your lips," in a voice clear as balm, for her (a) midnight cowboy. Ballads, touched just right.  L. Cohen biographer compresses, distills spare, rich originals for debut, li'l more punctuation by G. Sand's H. Gelb.

Mary J. Blige, London Sessions: Nuanced, upfront, emphatic, the 5 ballads redeem struggle, but "dance" trax too stompy (even for me), and she strains.

Jessie Ware, Tough Love: Descendant of Prince, Sinead, Sade, understandably cautious vs candid. impulse vs. control sometimes a draw but focus sure can spark, esp. bootheel & leverage of "Say You Love Me." DJ!

Richard Dawson, Nothing Important: "Judas Iscariot" an instrumental,justifies the Fahey and Derek Bailey comparisons right away, unselfconsciously; title track's vocals vulnerable, idealistic, tenacious, suggesting Robert Wyatt and Roy Harper; "The Vile Stuff" is a mighty tag-magnet for all of the above and RIYL ISB, the groove of solo Wino, Dredd Foole, and maybe Jandek (though I'm not a J-man fan). This track is or surely should be the one to get him on campus etc. radio. "Doubting Thomas" instrumental perfectly folds into its four minutes plus. The words haven't all registered yet, but I like the ones that have. Thanks ILM!
Seems that this all comes from his own youngblood experiences (incl. listening to his records and himself), more than wearing influences on his sleeve. Though still working on his own unmistakable sound, own voice, as writers say. Coyne and Beefheart are in the same associative family tree, but actual sound closer to young Harper
Before listening to  3xaWoman: The Misplaced Files by People (feat. Mary Halvorson), notes while and after listening to her Newport performances on NPR:
Mary Halvorson's guitar is just sweetly flexible at first, then wave forms shimmer and smoke.
(After tips on other settings) Was thinking I'd like to hear her in a diff setting; her Newport band can be pretty boring, though mostly on the first two performances (which are very long). But the other three songs work well enough, and it's a free download. Here's her whole NPR stash to date. I gotta delve into it more http://www.npr.org/artists/96514352/mary-halvorson
I didn't get into all of (Newport '13 set) during live stream, but it's grown on me since (kinda understated/stealthy ambition; intriguing).
Then!
Ye gods that People album, 3xaWoman: The Misplaced Files,  is like a Portlandia take on nerd jazz. Yes, they can sing anything they can write, educated chords, keys & all, but barely, and "Theese are the words/To this song," ha-hut you guise are kray-zee. A few good bits, briefly, and MH provids strong accompaniment, but to what end.jeeez

Jason Moran, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller: Would love to see Moran performing some of this material live, in his giant Fats Mask. He can be excellent here, instrumentally speaking, and the rhythm section always is, but the vocal guests tend to  be very introspective, if not introverted, sort of a Method acting, depresso art-lounge effect. Contrast compare with the Original Cast Recording of Ain't Misbehavin': right, OCRs have a long-standing rep for being oversung, but here, Fats & friends' songs are straight-forward and sufficiently, even pointedly nuanced at a variety of volume levels, with no need for the subliminal. (That's if you even feel the need to hear somebody besides Fats.)
                                                Sonny Rollins' Road Shows Vol. 3 doesn't seem quite right for Top 10, considering that SR has set the bar very high---and the octogenarian diabetic doesn't spare himself on the longest tracks, or the 8-minute-plus "Solo Sonny"---but sounds like he should, just a bit (another kind of self-discipline). Still, "Patanjali" is so tensile & tight, reminds me again that I need to check out yoga, and will make my P&J Singles (the album was on there for a while, and would make a Top 20)(History is a very well-chosen 2014 Rollins anth, on Spotify just below RS V3)

Brian Blade Fellowship, Landmarks: Seems like the great outdoors, though lower case: not dark, but not bright, in terms of treble; mostly midrange to bass, with sensuous sonorities, held notes, drones both fluid and hovering, like walking through spring air and shin-high grass, under canopies of trees (nothing too intimating, mostly old groves and orchards, not currently being worked much, or not visibly), as bass and drums keep me on my toes, while never showboating. Horns change enough, especially in the long excursion through "Ark.La.Tex," that corner of the map. Good to listen to during this tornado week, if a little redundant. Sorry, I'm a jaded ol' Southerner. The album's a grower, and this track, especially, keeps developing right to the end.
The guitars infiltrate; at one point, they're all folded into reverb. In his NPR interview this weekend, Blade says he writes on guitar, then sits down behind his drums, to study this thing that "this guy brought in,"  along with everybody else in the band.
Sun Ra and his Arkestra, In The Orbit of Ra:
CD1  seems becalmed until last-quarter tracks signal; myth science diaspora rolls right out of CD2, won't let go.

James Blackshaw, Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat: new soundtrack 4 classic antihero, performed live by JB & fellow multi-instrumentalists, iron in the flow.

Ariana Grande, My Everything (Deluxe)
Another totally misleading Rolling Stone review: listening to deluxe edition right now---"my baby loves fleas?"---and no way is she a "hyperactive hummingbird" whose Mariah Carey viruosity kicks the ass of every other diva on the charts---she's not even whiny! Not quite: too nerf-monotonous for that. Kind of auto-earnest at most. ASAP Ferg, please call in ASAP Rocky, Rick Perry, grab guests off the street, at gunpoint if necessary. Canned dynamics, but not the good ones.
Okay, "Just A Little Bit of Your Heart" is not bad.
" I heard/A little bit of love is better than none." True, and one good song (so far) is better than none too, thanks A.
Yes yes remixes more A$AP thank you
Close enough to whiny and always earnest enough that sappy ballads should be her go-to, not changes of pace, seriously. She's actually kinda good at 'em.
(A$AP shot the original that sounds like a remix, good) Second good sap is "My Everything," now "Bang Bang" the first up-tempo actually sufficiently bangin', "Only I"--oh I see: yet another deluxe album wrapped around a good EP.
So far, 5 1/2 ("You Think You Know" gave out of gas and kept going a while) possible keepers out of 15. A familiar ratio, but I'll keep listening after belated, by then totally unexpected goodies (the better by contrast, of course).

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard, Here Be Monsters: ugly & pretty go hand in claw, adding up to beautiful, often enough. Strummer and early solo Lennon still seem like points of departure of course, but he's carved and carpentered and painted and gnarled a good set of musical beasties he call his own, ready to walk the ol' Welsh landlord & Chicagoer's knotty pines. The pacing and tunes get me right away; also some of the lyrics, which are layered, but not labored, and I'll come back for more, all in good time. Skull Orchard sounds like a real band. This is already better than several Mekons and Waco Brothers sets, and I better try to catch up with the others what have his name out front, eh? Sounds like I hoped Joe Strummer would sound, post-Clash. Hopefully he did, and I'll come across it, but to quote Robyn H., "It hasn't happened/ Yet."

Ryan Adams, s/t:  Leaves are almost ready to fall. Time to recollect that schoolgirl. If  Petty produced, with some of the Heartbreakers backing, the results might go something like this. Several stand-outs, and they're all NPR/college radio-ready, but the actual Petty might advise against so much reliance on medium-tempo chordal ominousity.

New Alt-J so thin keep wanting 2 brush it away. Look fwd 2 Spotify commercials. Actual bests: Weeny "Left Hand Free," daycare cover art.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's's Days of Abandon Deluxe Edition adds five keepers, esp. "Poison Touch," ft. lithe beats & A Sunny Day In Glasgow's Jen Goma, as do all the best tracks, though The Pains' own vocals have grown on me okay (still not great, but they do their bit, and are more acceptable when bolstered by more tracks feat. other voices, also incl. Beirut's Kelly Pratt, but think Goma sings most if not all of the guest leads). Nerf layers accumulate on the three duds, but mostly, this dream pop earns its tag and actually rocks a bit (most of the distinctive instrumental turns come from the rhythm section).

Neil Young, Storytone (Deluxe Edition):
Two discs, one acoustic solo, one with orchestration, the same songs on each disc:
I just now listened to each version, alternating--npr's got it set up so you can either do that, or go straight through each disc. I wanna have it all, set up just like this, so some days I can skip a version of this or that, or just play it all. The strings on "Plastic Flowers," the opener, are kind Jimmy Webb-by-the-numbers, could def live without those, but on the second track, "Who's Gonna Stand Up?," they add some drama, like "This place is real purty---but we gotta save it, dammit," and the words and vocal tone def. concur.
Strings also add (even more)just-go-with-it, hippy Disney, tilt and pivot appeal to the more self-parodic ballads, which I won't name. As in spacey Elizabethan luv poetry, some conceits can pay off, but he's not a page poet, so does better (at times) with a little orchestral sleight of hand. These can be kind of Neilapolitan, with a steel guitar, boothump bass,or maybe a nice electric (Fender Rhodes?) electric piano in front of the strings.
Also really like the bluesy big band settings; some of the best tracks are in those. The solo stuff is varied too, with acoustic and electric guitar, piano, ukelele, banjo.
The whole thing is kind of (not entirely)like an older, maybe wiser, anyway even more detailed (though succinct) Blood On The Tracks, with, as prev. mentioned, some very Neilian turns.
"I'm So Glad I Found You" seems like the most realistic and most romantic thing here; each view seems to enable the other. Which is also the point/effect of double Storytone---seems like, so far, hell I may get sick of some of it, who knows.
A Letter Home: Mostly well-chosen chestnuts, though Jerry Lee's version of "Early Morning Rain" is the only one that totally keeps the song's I-been-there aspects from eventually turning into schlock of recognition via droning mildew accumulation of self-pity: he goes from firm declaration, "cold an' Drunk, as Ah can be," while sounding all-too-cold sober (worked up to a tolerance level again?) to getting tickled at the sad truth that yew cain't hop a jet plane like no freight train.
Also mostly good performances---starting with an impromptu but sincere-sounding letter to Mom, advising her that it's time to talk to Dad again, since they're finally in the same place,  and remember how we used to watch the weather report together, up in Winnipeg?" Telling her 'bout how there's a weatherman for the world now, named Al, and people getting mad at him when things go wrong, and they're going real wrong, all over the world. (He's in a record booth in Memphis, and being history-minded, maybe thinking about how, when Elvis first recorded at Sun, he was making these same auto-dispense records for his own Mom.)
But the sound quality is sometimes distracting, especially when his acoustic guitar sounds out of tune, if not warped. Really self-indulgent, and he should have made it a free download---although that wouldn't appease vinyl freaks, so here y'all are.
Nice surprise: his piano does sound in tune, rollicking through "Reason To Believe," of all sad songs---inappropriately, but who cares. Also good piano on "On The Road Again," good neck harp, and Jack White picks and sings bits there too. Young leads me through some lyrics I don't remember noticing before, like when he and White do the Everlys' "I Wonder If I Care As Much" (teven in the moments he thinks he can't bear, even then,"I wonder if I care": depression as self-defense, self-medication?) But think I'd think about more if the surface noise and wobble didn't come through even on digital files. "Don't overthink it," he'd prob advise.

(various artists) I'm Just Like You:Sly's Stone Flower 1969-70
Singles and prev. unreleased, cohesive variety of versions and line-ups; I'm partial to the uncanny funktronic instrumentals--keys, rhythm machine, bass---and "Life & Death in G & A": "If it feeeeeels good, it's al-right!" telling himself and us, urgent but not 2 loud (Must get those Rhino etc sides from '67-? too, and some amazing ones on that '13 box)


other listening (eventually to St. Vincent, so ballot-relevant)

Ornette Coleman Birthday Special, 24 hrs. This morning, I checked into "Focus On Sanity," and many more from The Shape of Jazz To Come. Had to go out, came back to a big dipper of Science Ficton, and now--back to "Focus On Sanity," and more from The Shape of Jazz To Come to come. Oh well, I'll stick with it for a while. Tomorrow, The Bix Beiderbecke Birthday Special (is there enough of that for 24 hours?), and this Tuesday's Afternoon New Music showcase is Carl Stone---stream it all here: http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/wkcr/
Listening to that xpost Bix Beiderbecke Birthday: right now, he sounds like the Fred Astaire of cornet on "Singin' The Blues," Frankie Trambauer's Orchestra, with Eddie Lang on guitar. Now they're adding Joe Venuti on violin. Somebody on bass sax? Haven't got the title yet---something Django and Stephane might've liked---
Back to WKCR listening--started in the middle of "Darul Kabap," which the host said had started in "kind of a free jazz vein," what I heard was voices/languages and instruments maybe from different Asian countries, or different parts of the same Asian country, bobbing in the harbor around noon, thoughtful and salty, then rude bursts of bass you learn to wait for, then glitch-pop scythes and cycles---basically speeded up r&b, and/or j-pop? glitch-pop fevah, but off-handed too. This guy:
Afternoon New Music welcomes Carl Stone, pioneer in live computer music. In addition to international recognition in new music and media arts circles, his acclaimed electro-acoustic compositions have run through film, choreography, radio, theater, and all streams in between. Collaborators have included Nels Cline, Min Xiao-Fen, z'ev, Aki Takahashi, and Otomo Yoshihide. He is on the faculty of the Media Department at Chukyo University, Japan.
Now one with Japanese female singer, unaccompanied, perfectly at home, unselfconscious; he (eventually)slips in some grainy mirror images, like Tuvan throat singing, then simplifies, just letting his touch linger on some syllables occasionally, then little swoops toward the end of lines, underscoring, kind of like Laurie Anderson's "Oh Superman," but with different effect (maybe because I don't know Japanese), morphing into really sweet, deft strokes of harmony---now arpeggiated notes (somewhat like Robert Wyatt's ladytron) squelch into Japanese-accented "Oops I Did It Again," but underwater cool, darting---hookiness avoiding the shaken pole of the impatient fisherman, but not leaving; in fact, grooving with and through the keys, and
(it was two pieces: the first was actually a Vietnamese singer--not catching the titles, but both from Al-Noor)
Now a couple things he calls acid bop pieces, though he doesn't like acid jazz. Starts good.
NPR's SXSW showcase tonight:
http://www.npr.org/event/music/279055940/npr-music-presents-live-from-sxsw-2014
March 12 @ Stubb's
Perfect Pussy
7:50-8:20pm CT
Eagulls
8:40-9:20pm CT
Kelis
9:50-10:30pm CT
St. Vincent
11:00pm-12am CT
Damon Albarn
12:30am CT
SXSW KeynoteMarch 14
Lady Gaga
11:00am CT
Stream the mix
Download MP3s
Tuesday Recap
SXSW Preview
Perfect Pussy's starting---kind of a swaying, chanting, feedback-whistling dragon balloon behind her shouts---briefly. Then a more predictable punky scramble, with police car UFO etc appearing. Anyway, check it out yall (gotta turn it way up, even on headphones)

The keyboard's making the best, ugliest sounds, though the guitar's helping. The more freeform they get the better; otherwise (voice x all instruments) does get--yep--predictable (rammaramaaOhrammmaIDontCareramamamram)
)The keyboard player, Shaun described how he samples the band, then plays it back through tape delay, screwing with the pitch, also tours on his own as The Pretengineer, or something like that. Bloody good. Interviews lasted longer than the set, while Eagulls set up, but worth the wait: a much fuller, deeper, more robust ensemble sound than Perfect Pussy, though just as, ah, vintage--damn, that bass! Get Shaun in there and it would be outrageous.
(although pattern recognition is starting to take its toll, on me and maybe them---seems like they're trying not to turn whatever this is into "I Fought The Law"...)
okay, the vocalist's Johnny One-Yelp, and now it seems his approach fits right in, tipping the scales---should I stay or should I go? Go for now.
Missed Kelis (hope some of these will be posted, as has happened for prev SXSW and other festival sets on NPR), but back as St. Vincent begins with the one about taking off her clothes and walking around in the desert at night, then running from a snake (true story). Twisting her guitar quite a bit.
Yowee. St Vincent w Toko Yasuda, keyboards, vocals, bass; also a drummer and another keyboard player way back there, at least when Yasuda stepped out with her bass, especially for some prog-metal toward the end. Rocking art rock, at times close to warp-toned Zep (with some early King Crimson,also late, no middle). Concise, though. New songs, supposedly more straight-forward, fit with old, as lyrics came off like marginalia, flying notes to self, bits of her self-cited "Joan Didion-esque" persona's elliptical clarity; ditto Marilyn Monroe's writing ("Surgeon" inspired by the latter). Stage show hyper-focused,floaty(rockin').
Albarn can't follow; don't think I'll stay awake for that (maybe they'll post his and hers).
Set List for St. Vincent:
Rattlesnake
Digital Witness
Cruel
Birth In Reverse
Regret
I Prefer Your Love
Surgeon
Cheerleader
Prince Johnny
Year Of The Tiger
Marrow
Huey Newton
Bring Me Your Loves
Krokodil

Think the persona she described is or was meant to be "Joan Didion-esque middle-aged woman on the verge," but on this occasion she also seemed to enjoy being young, eerie (buzzword of our age, after all), hot and dead(pan).
Also, as Houston Press blogger Chris Grey described her show better and earlier this week:
the mechanistic robo-funk of the rhythm section versus the overwhelming omnichords of the synthesizers or the shards of post-punk guitar versus that delicate little dance she yeah, yeah. Yes! Here's hoping for a Deluxe Ed. s/t or any other w bonus live DVD of this show, or one even better, if possible (always possible).
Two new tracks; so far I prefer "Sparrow" a little, because more primitive & grunty, but "Pieta" 's chorus, slipping from between the treads, & rhythm sounds are good also
http://www.wonderingsound.com/listen-2-new-st-vincent-tracks-pieta-sparrow/

Still loving skronk-funkateers Guerilla Toss 2013 debut album Gay Disco, and they've got a couple '14 EPs streaming: Smack The Brick, out later this month: https://soundcloud.com/nnatapes/01-smack-the-brick?in=nnatapes/sets/guerilla-toss-smack-the-brick-cassette Current fave: "Billy Blood Idol."
Even better maybe (a little faster, more momentum overall, though they've spoiled me): last summer's 367 Equalizer, ltd. ed., maybe OOP, but still here for now:
https://soundcloud.com/infinity-cat/cookie-guerilla-toss?in=infinity-cat/sets/infinity-cat-cassette-series-guerilla-toss Can't pick one!
Both sets are 4 tracks each, but those are enough to keep the homefries burning while waiting for next alb (get the first)

As mentioned at some length on Richard Thompson thread*, big news for me re The Thompson Family Album  (or Thompson: Family) how good Linda sounds, despite long-reported vocal problems, she's the one on here projecting charisma. RT and others contribute some good songs and playing: no masterpieces, but at least half are keepers, whole thing might be a sleeper.

*Finally got to the Thompson Family Album. Re the article posted upthread, does indeed sound like it was recorded in RT's spare room/ dubbed and pasted onto Teddy's laptop, and not in any groovy folktronica way either. Might be the stream, but be prepared to turn it way up, even on headphones.
So Teddy speaks up for himself on the first track, "Family," in a nice, sweet way (though the most he can say about his older sister here is how pretty she is, and his little sister is "prettier still, and she sings," he's the middle child, etc.
Kinda ready for Dad's back hand, but it's more of a duck,"We're all supposed, to help one another...I'm afraid, you are my brother," but okay he said later it was political, right? The personal is political, and though some other bits are more like OMG, RT (songs by this Dad should all be labeled "don't ask, don't tell"), all of "That's Enough" surely seems political (whatever else it might be), as he leads the only family sing-along, "They're still throwin' fairy dust into our eyes (repeat twice)....screwed again, screwed again, screwed again," But the dismissive chorus, "Times are tough, that's enough" seems to imply that kind of response isn't enough, which is more of an implication than I expected from him. Aptly followed by the fr "I Long For Lonely," a good homage to 70s Linda, though Teddy doesn't make much of a Richard, of course.
Also a sly, spooky instrumental, "At The Feet of the Emperor," but the big news for me is that Linda, despite her long-time probs, and a bit of a crease in her voice here (though it usually blends with a becoming touch of vibrato, unusually in this family) projects most of the vocal charisma on this joint! Just a couple of tracks, I think (no credits), but a whiff of that old tyme magic perked me right up.
No masterpieces, several keepers, seems like a sleeper (though right now I wish it was all R&L, sorry T)(also thanks!)
Think "I Long For Lonely" is Kari. "Root So Bitter," sung by a male who sounds tougher than Teddy, alternates taut picking on brittle verses with more flexible B sections, good student of Dad or Grandad (there's a grandson in there somewhere). Teddy does this break-up rockabilly, "Right," which is just straight imitation of RT, and falls flat (although RT may be playing on it a little, heh-heh). Somebody does one kinda like Christine McVie.

Richard Thompson's Acoustic Classics has a solo live-in-the-studio impact; for me, the strongest album versions of "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and "Valerie," especially. On headphones, seems like might possibly be a few dubs, but he's often gotten much the same sound while sitting on a YouTube picnic table.























 
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