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Music Notes


I watched the entirety of Otis Redding’s Monterey Pop performance this week, as filmed by D.A. Pennebaker. It was great. There were so many artists who died young in the late 60s and early 70s, mostly from being idiots, but also in tragic circumstances such as Redding. Such a tragedy. Among all of these artists, he’s one that I really could see remaining a major power in American music at least through the 70s, along with Hendrix. Morrison would have been a disaster as the sleaze of the 70s built. I’m not much of a Joplin fan so I don’t see her having a particularly amazing career moving forward, though I could be wrong about that. If any artist was truly an artifact of the freedom the 60s brought, for good and/or bad, it’s Joplin. But it is an interesting thing to pointlessly speculate on, what would have happened had these young musicians lived another decade.

Anyway, here’s a piece of Redding’s performance.

Richard Thompson has a new memoir out covering his life up to 1975. Here’s an interview with RT about it.

People who say that artists are going to make a ton of money off this NFI ridiculousness are clowns and you shouldn’t listen to them. Hilariously, this market busted about two weeks after is started. Our techbro betters are so smart and visionary. DISRUPTIVE!

New book and interview with the author on how New York City transformed Latin music.

The secondary ticket sales market is really going to undermine any attempt at contract tracing when music festivals come back. That’s going to be a tough one. I mean, contract tracing at festivals seems ridiculous anyway. How are you going to contact 25,000 people or whatever? Who even knows who you were standing next to? Bumbershoot in Seattle has already decided to not hold the event this year and that doesn’t even happen until Labor Day.

Chatting with the one and only Roberta Flack.

Our rock legends are OLD. Of course, so are LGM commenters so that’s not going to stop anyone from talking about them.

LeBron demands Kendrick release new music. You can’t turn down the King!

Interesting looking new documentary on women pioneers of electronic music. Might have to check that out.

Remembering Shock G

We also lost Les McKeown of the Bay City Rollers this week. This is not a band I ever particularly cared much about but certainly have the place in rock history.

The revival of cassette tapes is very, very, very silly.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do is list my album purchases. I listen to a lot of new music (duh), but I will only stream an album once (or twice tops) before I make a decision to buy or not. And I buy at a minimum one album each week, sometimes more than that. We should all buy music if we like music. The artists need support. Especially when they can’t tour, this is how it happens. Streaming gives them nothing and we should not use it as our primary means of listening to music. In the last month then, I’ve purchased:

  • Slowthai, Nothing Great About Britain
  • Raye Zaragoza, Woman in Color
  • Peter Brötzmann, Maâlem Mokhtar Gania & Hamid Drake, The Catch of a Ghost
  • Fontaines D.C., A Hero’s Death
  • The Flaming Lips, American Head
  • Deadbeat Beat, How Far

I’ll try to remember to do this every time I do a music post, which might not quite be every week this summer as I don’t need to go to my office as often and will be traveling a bit more.

Album Reviews:

Dee White, Southern Gentleman

An appropriately named album for this warm but ultimately not all that compelling country singer. Talented guy for being in his early 20s; he has the promise to move beyond the Don Williams and Roy Orbison crooner influences into saying something a bit more interesting.


The Kinleys, Just Between You and Me

The Kinleys were a 90s country duet of two sisters who grew up in the church and sang well together. Listening to this 25 or more years after it was recorded, it’s an interesting document in that it avoids the country pop that was already dominating the airwaves by that time. This basically confirmed it wouldn’t sell much. But it also doesn’t quite get above some fairly generic country-folk either. It’s not that it ages badly. It’s just that it’s kind of vanilla.


Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia

Excellent album from this Colombian-Canadian singer and pop artist. This is a highly charged political album of race and liberation that is almost entirely in Spanish despite being recorded in Toronto and largely sold in English-speaking markets. But Pimienta well represents the pan-American pop scene that has exploded across the continents in the last few decades. She’s actually a trained art critic as well and so is able to cast a pretty jaundiced eye on her own work to make it better. She’s also pretty jaundiced about Colombia and the problems and racism there. So overall, this is a smart, well-produced, and, most importantly, really fun album from last year. I look forward to hearing her future work.


Marja Mortensson & Daniel Herskedal, Lååje-Dawn

This is certainly an unusual work. I suppose this is jazz but it really doesn’t quite fit into any genre. Herskedal is a tuba player from Norway. Mortensson is a singer who is a member of the South Sami people, one of the indigenous peoples of Norway. They have a culture of singing called a jolk, which is a form of chanting. Like most indigenous traditions, it’s in a lot of trouble, having been repressed by the Norwegian government in the past and not much of a part of a globalized world culture today. So this is Mortensson signing jolks underneath Herskedal’s tuba and a string quartet on much of the album, reminding listeners both of the decline in her own culture and the decline of global ecology. It’s hard to classify and hard to compare to other music. It is very much worth a listen.


Beauty Pill, Please Advise

This is a self-admittedly thrown together release by this long-time band, although with a new lead singer in Erin Nelson. Whether the electronic basis of this band appeals to you is going to be the real tell. I thought it was alright.


Daniel Romano, How Ill Thy World Is Ordered

What Romano is is a professional musician. Whatever style he chooses to work in–once a country artist and now straight ahead rock–he just churns out professional albums. They aren’t great albums. But for the sheer amount of music he puts out (something like 10 albums in 2020!!!), they are just solid. Maybe if he was more choosy and worked on the songs a little more, he would have fewer albums that would be greater. But that just might not be who he is. That includes this album from last year. It’s just solid professional rock and roll of the softer variety.


Zo!, Fourfront

Interesting soul/pop that at its best reminds me of the first Shamir album or even Sly and the Family Stone. A happy album for pretty happy people that puts a lot of stock in love and new relationships. Enjoyable, if not exceptional.


David S. Ware, Theatre Garonne, 2008

After Ware’s sad death, AUM Fidelity has been releasing some live recordings to commemorate the legendary saxophonist. This is a pretty good one from 2008, with his long-time partner William Parker on bass, Warren Smith on drums, and Joe Morris on guitar. If you like Ware’s take on free jazz, you will like this a lot. I admit to not being the biggest fan of the tone Joe Morris uses on his guitar and so while he’s an amazing guitarist, he’s also not actually my favorite guitarist. And there’s a lot it here. But this is a great band of four astounding musicians at the peak of their powers.

None of this performance exists on YouTube, so here’s another of Ware’s great performances instead.


Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Sideways to New Italy

Catchy Australian pop-rock guitar album. They wear their influence son their sleeve, but to good effect. Smart lyrics, good tunes, impressive album. The three guitar-three singer sound also works to switch up voices and themes.


Kamasi Washington, Harmony of Difference

I remain mixed on Washington. No jazz band in a very long time had received such play with young people (I guess Medeski, Martin, and Wood was the last in the late 90s) and good for him and good for the people who picked up on him because he was in Kendrick’s orbit.

On the other hand, I don’t find his work particularly interesting. The Epic was insanely long and intermittently pretty interesting, but ultimately not to me all that compelling. Harmony of Difference was the follow-up album. Luckily, it’s far shorter. But really, each song is just finding a groove and playing that out for a few minutes. They are all excellent musicians here, but this is almost background music in a genre that is inherently about experimentation and pushing envelopes.

Certainly not bad music. It’s fair enough enjoyable jazz. But in that sense it is also limited.


Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer, Not Dark Yet

The first duet album by these sisters who have both had long careers in the alt-country world. This is basically a fun covers album–Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet,” Townes’ “Lungs,” Nirvana’s “Lithium,” even The Killers, “My List.” Plus one original. But what matters here is not that it’s an album of covers, as if that’s a problem. We’ve so lionized the singer-songwriter that we’ve forgotten about the glories of the interpreter since the 1970s, when interpreters were a key part of popular music and covers made up like 1/3 of the songs a band would play in a concert. What matters is how they sing together. And boy do they sing together beautifully. I’d say my favorite of the many covers is “Not Dark Yet,” which is different enough from the Dylan version to really sound unique and yet despite being by Dylan, is less familiar than some of the other songs just because his later work doesn’t get covered as often. Fine work.


First Aid Kit, Ruins

This is an interesting comparison to Lynne and Moorer. These Swedish sisters have put out a series of Americana albums in the 2010s and this is the 2018 release. Like Lynne and Moorer, they sing quite nicely together. The problem though is that it feels like they are cosplaying as country musicians, not so much because they are Swedish (though I suppose that’s in the back of my mind) but because they don’t really that much interesting to say. Tucker Martine produced this and he does a fine enough job with it I guess, but the album is just kind of boring. It’s not bad. It’s fine. But it just feels like rote color by numbers Americana music.


It’s Oscars Night so this can serve as an open thread for all things music and an Oscars pre-thread. Of course, no politics.

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