Active Music Listening Wednesday February 26, 2014

YTD recordings listened to: 157
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 106
Not good music: 45

Honorable Mentions: 0
Buys: 0

Possibles: Boyd Rivers, Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, Trap Them, Bill Horist, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Owiny Sigoma Band, About Group, Jello Biafra, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jessie Mae Hemphill, All Pigs Must Die, Kendl Winter, Shigeto, Bone Dance, Cage the Elephant, Defeater, Sidi Toure, Lindi Ortega, Jonwayne, Christian Kjellvander, Okkyung Lee, Tiger Hatchery, Xiu Xiu, The Ballantynes, Debruit and Aljawal, Slidhr, Temples, The Whammies

@@@ The Whammies: Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 2 (Driff, 2013).  Another improvised/jazz record off the WNUR best of 2013 list here.  These guys are from the Midwest and they play Steve Lacy tunes in a variety of different moods.  Some quiet and ambient, some raucous, and pretty much always interesting.  The instrumentation in addition to horns is varied — electric guitar, electric bass, piano, accordion.  It’s a pretty far ranging album both in playing and instrumentation.  This will probably end up as an honorable mention when I get a chance to listen to the whole record.  This clip is from their first record of Steve Lacy music.

@@@ Beck: Morning Phase (Capitol, 2014).  This is a big record this week and everybody is comparing it to Sea Change, which is my favorite Beck record.  While I understand the comparisons I found Sea Change to be a sadder record than this and this is more like Beck’s lush Pink Floyd effort.  The songs really space you out — lots of big reverbs, some phased out sounds and washes of sound behind the stacked vocals.  I thought the songs got a less interesting towards the middle of the record and the production got a little tiresome when I didn’t feel the tunes transcended.

@@@ Schoolboy Q: Oxymoron (Top Dawg/Interscope, 2014).  Off the All Music weekly email I’m a bit surprised that a record marketed as left field hip hop opens up with a tune called Gangsta.  I thought left field hip hop as a genre is defined by the absence of gangster culture so once again we have an industry unable to label their products truthfully.  I like Mr. Q’s bouncy flow, he sounds a bit like Eminem but in a lower register, and while I dig the arrangements, his ignorant lyrics trump his positive skills and I flush him down the toilet.


@@@ St. Vincent: St. Vincent (Loma Vista, 2014).  Another big release this week.  I struggle with this type of musician.  She really is a female version of David Byrne of the Talking Heads, who she collaborated with a couple of years ago.  I hear the hipster pose, the slight funkiness, but it doesn’t work for me.  I’d rather listen to old Prince records that are way more funky and lyrically more interesting.  I guess I’m not white enough for St. Vincent.


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