It is a measure of our times that the deplorables evoke an earnest, political singer/songwriter singing truth to power by simply recounting the sadness of these same times, and doing so like a female Woody Guthrie. essential
Angel was last year’s Courtney Barnett. Except at this point, she’s a musical chameleon mining all sorts of styles birthed before she was, or, working out loud what a grunge chanteuse might sound like. My Woman is a strong record, yet I think it will end up being a table setter.
At this point, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco own the stage.
last year kicked off with a spectacular record by Ms. Rodriguez.
A second record with Chip Taylor Red Dog tracks gets back to the duo’s dependable, grown-up folk rock.
Re-release of Bon Iver in Japan added a bonus disc of live performances from last year. Stellar. This set on the day before the last of day of the year is just as good.
His 2016 release 22, a million is quite good, but not as sharp as this concert.
Over the past week I’ve unveiled some of the music that brought me satisfaction and, often, extraordinary moments of sonic alignment–which is how great music strikes me, and, has struck me for forty-five years.
Nowadays it is clear that musical culture in the USA revolves around everybody being their own mix master. Almost all the music mentioned in the previous week’s post can be sampled via Spotify or Pandora. It can be purchased at iTunes or Amazon or GooglePlay, yet the best place to purchase it, is at the artist’s web site–where such an opportunity exists.
The following is my ordering of my very favorite releases from last year. This evaluation isn’t intended to parse artistic merit. It just serves my desire to name Wussy the album of the year, and to put their superb Attica in the company of other peerless examples of vital musical artistry.
12 ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS – 2014
1. Wussy – Attica |buy direct| ***record of the year***
2. The Swans – To Be Kind |buy direct|
3. Sam Newsome – The Straight Horn of Africa A Path to Liberation (Art of the Soprano, V2) |buy Amazon|
4. Noura Mint Seymali (Mauritania) – Tzenni |buy direct|
5. D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah |buy Amazon|
6. Hassan Hakmoun (Morocco) – Unity |buy Amazon|
7. Tisziji Munoz – Taking You Out There! Live |buy direct|
8. Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman (The Lost Cotillion Album)
|buy Lousiana Music Factory|
9. Aya Nishina – Flora [from 2013] |buy|
10.The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream |buy direct|
11.Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music |buy direct|
12.FKA Twigs – LP1 |buy Amazon|
Special Mention – Archival Discovery of the Year
John Coltrane – Offering – Live at Temple University |buy Resonance Records|
They sound like a merger of The Band’s earthiness and The Replacements’ garage power.
Great songs hammered home by musicians wholly devoted to do the hammering.
Wussy – Attica!
The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
Arial Pink – Pom Pom
Ex Hex – Rips
The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
Sloan – Commonwealth
Bell Gardens – Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions
FKA Twigs – LP1
Amy LaVere – Runaway’s Diary
Alison May – Loved Dark
Grouper – Ruins
Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
Amelia White – Old Postcard
Angaleena Presley – American Middle Class
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn – Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Billy Joe Shaver – Long in the Tooth
OLD HIPPIES – “OLD-TIMER’S DIVISION”
The Both – The Both (Amy Mann & Ted Leo)
various artists – Link Of Chain A Songwriters Tribute To Chris Smither
Jon Dee Graham – Do Not Forget
Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
The Velvet Underground / live
R.E.M. – Complete Rarities I.R.S. 1982-1987
Love – Black Beauty
The 13th Floor Elevators – Live Evolution Lost
Grateful Dead – 1972-11-18 Houston, TX
Grateful Dead – Dave’s Pick’s Volume 10 1969-12-12 Thelma, LA Dec 12 1969
Bob Dylan & the Band – The Complete Basement Tapes
The Velvet Underground / s.t.
Improvisation – call it jazz, if you must
Sam Newsome – The Straight Horn of Africa A Path to Liberation (Art of the Soprano, V2)
Tisziji Munoz – Taking You Out There! Live
Chicago/Sao Paulo Underground Feat. Pharoah Sanders – Pharoah & The Underground
Notes – The best improv sounds for itself. It takes me more than a year to absorb the rich experiments. Especially with the field of improv, it is what I happen to be dealing with as a listener in the moment that comes to the fore and comes to be favored. Still, compelled by the year-end project to give some shape to my most glorious preferences, it was straight forward to elevate Mr. Newsome and Mr. Munoz & Mr. Sanders and Mr. Mazurek to the top rank. I spent the most time with Tisziji Munoz, simply by virtue of his prolific delivery of entire recordings and partial recordings on eMusic. By my count he put out twelve new recordings. Their quality is uniformly excellent. He is a stirring improviser, but of course so are Sam Newsome, and the ageless Pharoah Sanders. The only possible conclusion is that 2014 was a year for reviving the feel of John Coltrane.
Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden – Last Dance
Oliver Lake – Heard the Organ Trio
Jason Ajemian – Folklords
Ken Vandermark Duos and Trios – Nine Ways to Read a Bridge
Steve Lehman Octet – Mise En Abi?me
Ideal Bread – Beating The Teens
Roscoe Mitchell with Craig Taborn, Kikanju Baku – Conversations I/Conversations II
Jemeel Moondoc – The Zookeeper’s House
Jochen Rueckert – We Make the Rules
Orrin Evans & Captain Black Big Band – Mother’s Touch
Sonny Simmons & Moksha Samnyasin – Nomadic
Tisziji Munoz – Omega Nebula-The Afterlife
Abdullah Ibrahim – The Song Is My Story
Sam Newsome – The Solo Concert – Plays Monk and Ellington
George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, John Zorn – Sonic Rivers
Keith Jarrett Trio – Somewhere
John Coltrane – Offering – Live at Temple University
Miles Davis – The Unissued Cafe Bohemia Broadcasts
Miles Davis – Plugged Nickel Complete
Clifford Brown – The Blue Note Recordings
Swans – To Be Kind
When one of my most favored bands follows up their finest hour with two even more finer hours, there isn’t much I can say. Both The Seer and this year’s To Be Kind are absolutely essential documents of 21st century sonic demolition. And, like the Grateful Dead, whatever is superlative on record is transcendent on the best nights on the road.
Scott Walker + Sunn O))) – Soused
Brian Eno & Hyde – Someday World
Bing & Ruth – Tomorrow Was the Golden Age
Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers
Bitchin Bajas – Bitchin Bajas
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Hang On to Each Other EP
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band – Fuck Off Get Free
Aya Nishina – Flora (from 2013; missed it then, but not now!)
Helena Tulve – Arboles lloran por lluvia
Tujiko Noriko – My Ghost Comes Back
Ian William Craig – A Turn of Breath
Lawrence English – Wilderness of Mirrors
Kevin Drumm – Trouble
MINIMALIST / POST-CLASSICAL
John Luther Adams – Become Ocean
Trepanning Trio – The Man Killed the Bird
Aphex Twin – Syro
Meg Bowles – The Shimmering Land
Steve Roach & Jorge Reyes – The Ancestor Circle
Alio Die and Sylvi Alli – Amidst the Circling Spires
Charles Cohen – A Retrospective
Muslimgauze – Chasing The Shadow Of Bryn Jones
Jon Hassell – The City – Works In Fiction
1. The original City:Works of Fiction
2. The legendary Wintergarden Concert September 1989
Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni
Produced and recorded across an appropriately dizzying array of locations and social contexts (New York City, Dakar, Nouakchott) the album Tzenni is a contemporary articulation of Moorish griot music from Mauritania—an artform that has been evolving and gaining momentum for centuries—as voiced by Noura Mint Seymali, an artist profoundly steeped in its history and rigorously devoted to its global resonance.
Noura Mint Seymali comes from a long line of visionary musicians. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, her father, was a scholar-artist instrumental in opening Mauritanian music to the world; devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting music for the national anthem, and composing works popularized by his wife (Noura’s step-mother), the great Dimi Mint Abba. From her precocious beginnings as a teenaged backing vocalist with Dimi Mint Abba, Noura Mint Seymali now drives the legacy forward, re-calibrating Moorish music for our contemporary moment. Her band’s arrangements, rigor, and experimental spirit may be understood as a continuation of the tradition of Seymali, Dimi, her grandmother Mounina, and countless others.
Together with her husband, heroic guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who brings the force of yet another powerful branch of Moorish musical lineage, the band on this recording was conceived as a distillation of essential elements, the “azawan” and the backbeat. The ardine & tidinit (or guitar) together are the “azawan,” the leading ensemble of Moorish traditional music, while bass & drums, played here by Ousmane Touré and Matthew Tinari, fortify it with genre transcendent funk and a basic pop urgency. Tzenni re-visits several classics of the Moorish repertoire, but does so within a novel formation, conversant in the pop idiom, and with Noura Mint Seymali’s personal history interwoven throughout. The practice of aligning music to a given socio-historical and personal moment is an essential charge of the iggawen, or griot, and, we believe, of artists everywhere.
As we seek to convey another turn in the Mauritanian musical dialectic, Tzenni is ultimately an album about shape shifting, faith, and stability found through instability. It’s about taking the positive with the negative in a world that can only ever keep turning at break neck speed. We invite you to spin with us, to dance with us, through the music on this rec
Noura Mint Seymali is one of Mauritania’s young celebrities, a griot from a celebrated musical family, who started out as a backing vocalist for her celebrated stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba, and has now developed an exuberant, full-tilt style of her own. She accompanies herself on the ardine, the nine-stringed harp traditionally played only by women, but the songs are dominated by the furious, stuttering electric guitar work of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who is also an exponent of the traditional, guitar-like tidinet. This is an album of gutsy, declamatory playing and singing, from the slow and then exuberant traditional love song El Barm to the powerful, chanting Tikifite, a Dimi Mint Abba favourite. (The Guardian)
Kasai Allstars – Beware the Fetish
Tinariwen – Emmaar
Aby Ngana Diop – Liital
Tony Allen – Film of Life
Zongo Junction – No Discount
Anansy Cisse – Mali Overdrive
Lala Njava – Malagasy Blues Song
Chiwoniso – Rebel Woman
Mammane Sanni Abdoulaye – Taaritt
Sinkane – Mean Love
Young Fathers – Dead
Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 – A Long Way to the Beginning
Verckys et l´Orchestre Ve?ve? – Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969?-?1978
OTHER REISSUED GEMS
William Onyeabor – Boxset 1&2
Francis Bebey – Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984
Kassa Tessema – Ethiopiques 29 Mastawesha
Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako – Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako