First-Half Soundtrack 2017

  1. Magnetic Fields, “Wonder Where I’m From”
  2. The Creation, “Biff Bang Pow” (stereo version)
  3. Gorillaz (feat. Peven Everett). “Strobelite”
  4. Lowell Davidson Trio, “Strong Tears”
  5. Nicole Mitchell/Tomeka Reid/Mike Reed, “Light on the Path”
  6. Alice Coltrane, “Rama Rama”
  7. Kendrick Lamar, “Blood”
  8. On Fillmore, “Master Moon”
  9. Tom Ze, “Sexo”
  10. Jens Lekman, “To Know Your Mission”
  11. The XX, “Test Me”
  12. The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions”
  13. Matthew Stevens, “Sparkle and Fade”
  14. Carl Craig, “Sandstorms” (from Versus)


Include all my faves? No.

All tracks considered standouts? Yes.

Fussed-over sequence? Nope — instinct and memory plus a few dabs of re-listening for the right track.

Everything released 2017? No, but pretty close.

Everything encountered first in 2017? No, but damn close.

Sweat Soundtrack #1

Two developments.

In Rome, the schedule pressured me into doing my workout first thing in the morning — before coffee even (changing clothes would have delayed the start of the day too much). Thought it would be painful, even a temptation to skip. Discovered there was really something to this business of eating nothing before exercise. Helped wake me up, dandy preparation for a long day of walking. So that’s what I have continued to do.

At home, I decided this week to make the soundtrack first thing in the morning strictly a crate dive into items not played for a goodly while (thrill of delighted rediscovery vs. yargh! what was I thinking?).

So, after the first entry, which was usual newie, here’s the list of oldies:


  1. The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions
  2. Stereolab, Sound-Dust (Elektra, 2007)
  3. Trans Am, Sex Change (Thrill Jockey, 2007)
  4. Various/DJ Christian Pronovost, Go Deep Miami 2005 (self-release) (a reminder of a highly eclectic dance scene from a dozen years ago in Miami, I have a couple other anthologies in this style and like them a great deal)
  5. Small Faces, The BBC Sessions (Fuel, 2000) (Rugged but right.)
  6. The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Grounation (Dynamic Sound, 1990) (More peculiar and perfect each time I hear it.)
  7. Lanterna, Highways (Badman, 2004) (Closest thing to ambient and restful.)


“Covering” The Scene

As I’ve said before I’ve never been more uncertain that I hear all the releases I should every year. The outlets and information sources have never been so scattered. I’ve never felt so many PR providers have no idea what I cover.

But every year I hit a point, usually around this time or a little later, when I conclude that enough innovative, captivating and durable music is being produced to keep me jiggling for another year. Here’s the three that put me over in 2017 (all played for the first time in the last few days):

Bearthoven, Trios (Cantaloupe) Karl Larson piano, Pat Swoboda bass, Matt Evens percussion/drums. Six piece belonging to the vague New Music category, the only writers I know at all being Anthony Vine. Best effect: breaks ways loose of the often too-cozy tent of piano-trio sound.

Jay Som, Everybody Works (Polyvinyl). Jay Som belongs to the vague bedroom pop category and is a solo project of Melisa Duterte, with a few added voices. A fresh twist of intimacy and a needed reminder that all single-soul projects don’t have to sound stunted or samey.

Migos, Culture (Quality Control). I don’t pretend to keep up with hip-hop like I should, but I’m still abashed this trio slipped under my radar until now. In the grand tradition of Atlanta rappers, they’re rootsy and funny and sensual and casually scary at times. Still probing the personalities.

1st Playlist 2017

I assembled a batch of records to show a big music fan we intended to see in DC (though we did not end up doing so) what had most fascinated me during 2017. Hardly definitive and clearly not all from 2017, I will try to annotate it later, but may not …

The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane: Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)

The Creation, Action Painting (Numero Group, reissue of complete works)

Lowell Davidson Trio, S/T (ESP, 1965, 2008 remastered CD)

Gorillaz, Humanz (Warner Bros./Parlophone)

Kendrick Lamare, Damn. (TDE)

Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian)

Low Cut Connie, “Dirty Pictures” (part 1) (Contender)

Donny McCaslin, Beyond Now (Notema)

The Magnetic Fields, 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch)

Metalwood, S/T (self-released, 1997)

Nicole Mitchell/Tomeka Reid/Mike Reed, Artifacts (482 Music, 2015)

Joe Morris Quartet, A Cloud of Black Birds (AUM Fidelity, 1998)

On Fillmore, Extended Vacation (Dead Oceans, 2009)

Art Pepper, the Hollywood All-Star Sessions (Galaxy, 1997)

Oumou Sangare, Mogoya (No Format)

Matthew Stevens, Preverbal (Ropeadope)

The XX, I See You (Young Turks)

Top 10 Albums I Discovered/Apprehended/Finally Clicked With In Jan. 2017


Allah Las, Calico Review (Mexican Summer, Sept. 2016)

An Electrifying Evening with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet (Japanese reissue of 1961 Verve LP) [Boy is it a shame I only saw this as fortune-priced LP a few times. Convinced me there was no question that Diz was indeed at his peak in the early ’60s, but it remains a demanding assertion to check out. Best Lalo Schifrin I’ve ever heard.]

The Very Best of the Highwaymen [see this earlier post. ] Must add that I conclude the finest version of “Desperados Waiting for a Train” became the main hit for these guys.

Populous, Night Safari (Bad Panda). Dreamy, but uneasy.

Sxip Shirey, A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees (Via) My review on “Fresh Air” is forthcoming.

Sleater-Kinney Live in Paris (nice imitation-boot packaging)

Systema Solar, Rumbo a Tierra (Nacional). Not afraid to be in-your-earhole raucous. Apt for the times.

Various, The Rough Guide to Hillbilly Blues [Weirdos out in the sticks.]

The XX, I See You (Young Turks). Enveloping, teasing, resistance is futile.