First, Last and Only Beach Soundtrack for 2018

(This was played driving to and from. Listening to music on the beach is like reading a book at the movies. All titles hugely recommended.)

  1. The High Strung, Get the Guests (Park the Van, 2007)
  2. Jain, Zanaka (Spookland)
  3. The Mekons 77, it is twice blessed (Slow)
  4. Sarazino, Everyday Salama (Cumbancha, 2012)
  5. Rachid Taha, Tekitoi (Wrasse, 2004)
  6. Zak Trojano, Wolf Trees (self-released, 2018) I am very sorry it took me so long to recognize the graceful sway and the elegant storytelling of these songs. Certainly in my Top 5 self-releases of the year. Not merely pretty. Not sedate or retro. Check this out.

Flashback #1: 2007 Mixdiscs

Usually in the slow days of summer, I get the urge to re-listen to the older homemade CDs I have moldering in the basement. The rock item is a bit ruder and rowdier sequence than I might make now, but I will stick up for all the tracks listed here. (As always, does include some beloved tracks I simply discovered that year.)


  1. Tracy Thorn, “Get Around to It”
  2. The Scoff, “Nasty”
  3. Budos Band, “Deep in the Sand”
  4. Les Savy Fav, “Pots & Pans”
  5. Against Me!, “White People for Peace”
  6. Brakes, “Porcupine or Pineapple”
  7. Rudder, “Squarefoot”
  8. Rilo Kiley, “Breakin’ Up”
  9. Fu Manchu, “Shake It Loose”
  10. Queens of the Stone Age, “Sick, Sick, Sick”
  11. Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
  12. Gore Gore Girls, “Where Evil Grows”
  13. Cafe Tacuba, “Agua”
  14. Loudon Wainwright III, “Grey in L.A.”


JAZZ DIARY 2007 — Vol. Two

  1. Nino Josele, “Turn Out the Stars”
  2. Bobby Hutcherson, “The Omen”
  3. Alan Pasqua, “The Anti-Social Club”
  4. Philly Joe Jones/Elvin Jones, “Le Roi”
  5. Benny Carter, “Frenesi”
  6. The Nils Cline Singers, “Caved-In Heart Blues”
  7. Max Roach Quintet, “Ezz-Thetic”
  8. Christian Scott, “Katrina’s Eyes”
  9. Mark Murphy, “Angel Eyes”
  10. Billy Bang Quintet, “Nothing But Love”
  11. Massacre, “Return”


Memorial Mixdiscs, First Half 2018

This is a good time for a listen back. I don’t claim this is comprehensive by any means — just favorites and you have to stop digging through the stacks at some point if you want to finish the collection. As I noted just below, this is a strong year for vets and relative newbies and if those *@!!+% Parquet Courts had allowed their disc to be copied, they would also be included. (Yes, a couple tracks are longtime delights I rediscovered recently.)


Vol One

  1. Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet, “Ladilikan”
  2. Gilberto Gil, “Refavela”
  3. Nik Bartsch’s Ronin, “Modul 36”
  4. Bettye LaVette, “Things Have Changed”
  5. Ry Cooder, “You Must Unload”
  6. Tracey Thorn, “Sister”
  7. Superchunk, “Break the Glass”
  8. Yo La Tengo, “Above the Sound”
  9. Lori McKenna, “You Can’t Break a Woman”
  10. Victoria, “C’Est Un Tombeur”




  1. Ben LaMar Gay, “Uvas”
  2. Ana Moura, “Fado Dancado”
  3. Superorganism, “Everybody Wants To Be Famous”
  4. Jon Hopkins, “Singularity”
  5. Laura Veirs, “Seven Falls”
  6. Mast/Monk, “Misterioso”
  7. Anita Harris, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
  8. Low Cut Connie, “Hey! Little Child”
  9. Grant Green, “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door I’ll Get It Myself)”
  10. Ana Moura, “No Expectations”
  11. John Prine, “When I Get To Heaven” 


Check the Document, Not Yer Memory

I have to correct an error I made on this list, by not doing what the title of this post says.

The clear high point for the Swedish rocker Gasolin’ was Gasolin’ 3, not the much milder and more tentative debut.


EDIT: Correcting the Correction —


No wonder I got confused … there were two versions of their third release. One in Swedish, one in English. Baker produced both. The one that zammed me so much was Gasolin’ (period), the version with lyrics I understand.

The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #24

Various, Pop Royale (2011)

This is (ahem) a mixdisc assembled by me. When I was giving a guest lecture at an Arts Criticism class a couple weeks ago, I was caught more off-guard than I expected by the question “What is your taste?” And I gave a lamer-than-optimal answer. Something on the order of:  I’m very eclectic (do everything but childrens’ and straight classical). Have a few styles like trad Celtic and Flamenco vocals that I cannot bear, but that’s me not a judgement on the musics. Lyrics matter to me all the time — dippy words can drag down even excellent playing — but the most outstanding international songs work even if you don’t know the language. I’m more interested in what’s emerging than mulling over or even celebrating the past.

Then, a couple days ago, I ran across this disc, which I’m going to present as a compact incarnation of my taste. With some caveats, of course. In this same year-end sequence I had discs devoted to international and hip-hop, but those are represented here and if I could do a dream radio sequence it would be like this — all the transitions work, whether standouts from fine albums, best tracks on flawed releases, or long shots that nail the bullseye. Only one complaint (“Air Is Still” recommendations get to have one flaw): the last track ends too abruptly.

The final note is that around 2010 is when I felt I was hearing close to all the releases that I needed to hear. That I could stitch together a program like this with confidence. These days, the pens have to be a lot tighter — and I know there’s more things running around outside them.

  1. Poly Styrene, “I Luv Ur Sneakers”
  2. Paul Simon, “The Afterlife”
  3. Bombino. “Tar Hani” (My Love)
  4. Shabazz Palaces, “An Echo From the Hosts That Profess Infinitum”
  5. Serengeti, “Long Ears”
  6. Kiran Ahluwalia, “Mustt Mustt”
  7. Steve Cropper/Buddy Miller, “The Slummer the Slum”
  8. Pistol Annies, “Lemon Drop”
  9. Vijay Iyer, “Duality”
  10. Banquet of the Spirits, “Briel”
  11. Tom Waits, “Hell Broke Luce”
  12. Blaqstarr, “Wonder Woman”
  13. Wynton Marsalis/Eric Clapton, “Ice Cream”
  14. The Vivs, “Are You Coming Around?”
  15. James Vincent McMorrow, “Sparrow & the Wolf”
  16. Younger Brother, “Shine”
  17. Battles, “Africastle”
  18. Oneohtrix Point Never, “Andro”

Improvise Through the Mess: Jazz 2017 Compilation

  1. Jaimie Branch, “Jump Off”
  2.                           “Theme 101”
  3. Jonas Fujiwara, “Diving for Quarters”
  4. Camille, “Sous le Sable”
  5. Anouar Brahem, “Persopolis’s Mirage”
  6. Paul Jones, “Clean”
  7. Ran Blake/Dominique Eade, “It’s Alright, Ma”
  8. Ron Miles, “I Am a Man”
  9. Alma Micic, “Cry Me a River”
  10. Mary Halvorson Quartet, “Rachmiah” (John Zorn)
  11. Alice Coltrane, “Rama Rama”
  12. Wadada Leo Smith, “Adagio: Monkishness — A Cinematic Vision of Monk Playing Solo Piano”