South African House Music is groovy like house music is meant to be, and, bonus, it’s African. This adds lots of spice and great singing to the mix. Hear for yourself.
Even more ingratiating and upbeat is this long medley of African gospel music videos. These strike me as wonderfully optimistic in the age of Trump, and a growing dark movement of ignorance in the USA.
A new friend mentioned to me over the phone the other day, “Did I know Los Lobos, did I know they are coming to Cleveland?”
Besides being reminded once again about how much fun it is to discover with ‘somebody fresh’ shared musical affinities, I smiled on my end.
I told him, “Los Lobos is one of the greatest rock bands ever.”
Ha! My fondness for Los Lobos goes back to when Jamie Cohen excitedly told me over the phone that “there was this great new band on Slash,” and had I heard of ’em? This was in 1983. Slash had sent me the promo a few weeks before.
“Yes! Outrageously unadulterated rock and roll, right my man?”
I’ve seen them a couple of times. Loud. They are as good a live band as there has ever been.
Although, for me, Clarence White will always remain the greatest electric guitarist of rock and roll, in the august group in the next (non-slide guitar) spot, David Hilgado joins Clapton, Thompson, Robertson, Cippolina, Garcia and Cline. The other Los Lobos guitarist Cesar Rojas is also a barnburner and one of the greatest ensemble guitarists rock and roll has produced.
Diane Birch is one of my favorite singers, oh, heck, she is my current favorite singer! Her new album Nous was released earlier this year, and is on Bandcamp. (I guess we’re sort of label mates in the new fangled version of not-really-a-label label mate.) Her youtube channel is worth spending an afternoon with. She is a terrific songwriter too.
Nous is a tour de force.
I discovered her on Daryl’s House.
Her admixture of the tamber of Carole King, Carly Simon, and Dusty Springfield results in one of pop’s most beguiling voices.
Shelby Lynne is a very unique, honest, and very adult, musical talent. In her background is her very dark story.
This “fake Christmas” concert at Daryl’s House is superb and grown up. I’m not a xmas person to any appreciable sense, so this fine concert is very congenial.
1 MARY GAUTHIER I Feel The Same 4:16
2 THE SELDOM SCENE It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue 3:20
3 STURGILL SIMPSON Living The Dream 3:51
4 FLECK & WASHBURN Bye Bye Baby Blues 3:26
5 AMY LAVERE Self Made Orphan 3:57
6 LEONARD COHEN My Oh My 3:36
7 THE BOTH No Sir 3:46
8 RYAN ADAMS Stay with Me 3:06
9 ALISON MAY Ophelia 4:00
10 THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS Wide Eyes 2:56
11 ROSANNE CASH World of Strange Design 3:24
12 SLOAN You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good 3:42
13 JON DEE GRAHAM Look Up 3:15
14 ARIEL PINK One Summer Night 3:57
15 PARQUET COURTS Black and White 3:04
16 THE WAR ON DRUGS The Haunting Idle 3:08
17 THE WAR ON DRUGS Lost In The Dream 5:25
18 WUSSY Acetylene 3:53
19 WUSSY Teenage Wasteland 4:39
20 STONE COYOTES Let The Wild Horse Run 3:37
21 MICHAEL NESMITH Grand Ennui 4:48
Taster of some favorite 2014 folk/country/pop/rock. Enjoy the mp3 on your ‘device.’
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|
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.
ROCK 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
ARCHIVAL DISCOVERIES 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
REISSUES Bob Dylan & the Band – The Complete Basement Tapes
The Velvet Underground / s.t.
ARCHIVAL DISCOVERIES Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman (The Lost Cotillion Album)
The results, as soul lifting and impactful as anything she has has done, are an object lesson in the profound vacuousness of the music business — which tried to throw Thomas away well before her time. Luckily for Thomas, and for us, she’d rebound into the 1980s after quickly leaving Atlantic, first on Charly and then on Rounder. Nobody questions the Queen anymore. (Nick DeRisio,
writing for SomethingELSE. full review
Thomas wasn’t exactly thrilled that they’d been rediscovered. The 15 songs were recorded in four different cities, with various producers, as Atlantic experimented in an effort to revive her career.
“I was praying that those songs would never come out,” she says. “I didn’t think it was my best work. I had totally wiped that out of my mind — that’s how bad I felt about those recording sessions.”
She bought a copy of “The Lost Cotillion Album” anyway, took it home, and gave it a listen.
“The songs themselves aren’t that bad,” she concluded. “But had I been allowed to perform them the way that I wanted to, it would have been much better.
NEW ORLEANS Dr. John – Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit Of Satch
Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein – Viper’s Drag
REISSUE Howlin’ Wolf The Complete RPM & Chess Singles As & Bs 1951-62
Albert Collins – Funky Blues Live 1973
Sonny Knight & the Lakers – I’m Still Here
Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest
King Legba and the Loas – King Legba and the Loas
Meshell Ndegeocello – Comet, Come To Me
The Sweet Inspirations – The Complete Atlantic Singles
VA – Chicago Blues Summit With J. B. Lenoir & Sunnyland Slim
Muddy Waters – The Complete Aristocrat & Chess Singles As & Bs 1947-62
va – Say Amen! Gospel Funk from Jewel Records
FKA Twigs, the British singer, will soon enough enter the training academy for soon-to-be cultural icons. This follows merely from her being Robert Pattinson’s new girlfriend.
However, this isn’t the reason Pitchfork suggests it’s time to “jump on the bandwagon.” Her debut record is a great blast of UK street soul. It’s my own favorite pop record so far. I hear an audacious mix of Janelle Monae and Imogean Heap–at least this would be my rough comparison.
1 RICHARD THOMPSON Another Small Thing in Her Favour 5:06
2 NEKO CASE I’m From Nowhere 3:01
3 GUY CLARK My Favorite Picture of You 3:32
4 LINDA THOMPSON As Fast As My Feet 3:54
5 DAWES Most People 5:13
6 DIANE BIRCH Hold On a Little Longer 4:03
7 LOS LOBOS Tin Can Trust 5:20
8 KASEY MUSGRAVES Keep It to Yourself 3:17
9 MIKAL RONIN I’m Done Running From You 2:50
10 THE CIVIL WARS Oh Henry 3:32
11 LITTLE FEAT Rhumba Man 5:52
12 BRANDY CLARK What’ll Keep Me Out of Heaven 3:34
13 WILCO I’m The Man Who Loves You 5:09
14 MATTHEW SWEET & SUSANNA HOFFS Our Lips Are Sealed 2:50
15 DAN BAIRD & HOMEMADE SIN Julie And Lucky 5:37
16 THE DEL-LORDS You Can Make a Mistake One Time 4:57
17 THE FLAMING LIPS Lucy In The Sky With DiamondS 6:09
18 TE BAND Rag Mama Rag 4:04
One of the top ten concert moments in my experience was etched by Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre at Halloween in, I recall, 1975. In the band’s iconic jam Cold, Cold, Cold/Dixie Chicken/Tripe Face Boogie, Payne whipped out a rhapsodic excerpt from Piano Sonata No. 1 by Charles Ives. The moment was glorious not because of the obscure-to-hippies Ives piece, but because it’s hard to play!
Payne has been the anchor of Little Feat for forty-four years, and counting.
He has allowed Archive.org to preserve and present streams and downloads of an ongoing series of shows (with drummer Gabe Ford,) at which Payne plays and sings and tells stories, most of which concern his years with Little Feat. He is a world class raconteur. It’s a gold mine of great music and history.
Single of the Year The Flaming Lips – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds Olivia Harris & Bruce Richardson – Up On the Roof (iTunes)
This year settles it for me, as far as rock and pop goes I’m no longer going to devote a heckuva lot of time to figuring out what the kids are into. I have to surrender to the verities that brought me here, songcraft, melodious harmonies, and slide guitars. Bingo: Mazzy Star hits a homerun with their triphopamericana comeback, a record soaked in tunefulness and slide and steel guitars. Mikal Cronin may have some appeal to the much younger generation but it seems to me the markers are all pegged to the late sixties, or, alternately Mott the Hoople and Queen. My Bloody Valentine strikes again and not much has changed–a very good thing except for having to read the adjective ‘gauzy’ too many times. Vampire Weekend surprised me. ‘Goth power pop’ sez I, crudely aiming my old fogey bag o’ categories; still, a terrific record.
Then there is home base, country and country rock and folk rock and nice singing and somgs set in the real world. The best singing is found on The Civil Wars, the saddest duo in the history of rock and roll. Neko Case is also dour on her best record so far. Kacey Musgraves isn’t sad, she’s mad. Brandy Clark sings like an angel. Dawes harken back to the folk rock band America, except they are much better songwriters, players, and there’s no top forty hippie radio anymore.
Just go plunk down $1.29 for Up On the Roof. You’ll be glad you did.
comment: Los Po Boy Citos takes the crown with their wide-eared synthesis of, hold on, boogaloo, salsa, surf, second line, funk, NOLA indian music, blues, and soul.
Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign Chocolate Milk – Chocolate Milk James Booker – Classified Messengers Incorporated ?- Soulful Proclamation Womack & Womack – Conscience
comment: King’s cornerstone blues date greatly benefits from remastering; the Chocolate Milk set fills a large gap in their digital discography; Conscience is one of my all time favorites; and Soulful Proclamation was the rarity that rose to the top of my estimation.
comment: a tie at the top! Holley, better known as folk sculptor, is compelling and unique, and he is so in the entire sweep of musical artistry! See Lonnie Holley: The Insider’s Outsider, New York Times; Self-Made Man NPR; Ms. Monae is deservedly both a cutting edge artist and superstar; the Blind Boys celebrate their 70th anniversary this year.
comment: Magic Sam, departed to St. Peter’s houseband in 1969, is captured in a trio format in 1968. It’s no knock on his contemporaries to note that they just do not make Chicago blues records like his or that of Crudup anymore. Ashton is a terrific electric slide player from the UK, and The Slide Brothers feature three pedal steel players, two stand up and play and one sits down.