Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 7

Oddisee - The Odd Tape [Mello Music Group]

While nothing rises to the stratosphere of "That's Love" from his last record, the latest beat tape from Oddisee is quality through and through.

Alsarah and the Nubatones - Manara [Wonderwheel Recordings]

Sudanese singer Alsarah and her Nubatones craft "East African Retro-Pop" and it is the sound of now.

Quilt - Plaza [Mexican Summer]

Four piece pysch rock outfit from Boston that made a beautiful mess.

Tacocat  - Lost Time [Hardly Art]

Seattle punk-rockers crafted one of the most visceral and quick records of 2016.

Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke [ECM]

The other record Wadada Leo Smith released in 2016, the a collab with long-time fave Vijay Iyer.

Yellowjackets - Cohearance [Mack Avenue]

Unfortunately I can't find an embed of this great jazz record, but you can stream samples on the group's website here.

Thumbscrew - Convallaria [Cuneiform]

Thumbscrew are a dynamite trio and Mary Halvorson had a particularly terrific year.

The Claudia Quintet - Super Petite [Cuneiform]

Speaking of having a terrific year, Cuneiform placed about a half-dozen records on my longlist including this one from the John Hollenbeck -led quintet

Lucy Dacus - No Burden [Egg Hunt Records]

Virginian acts made a mark on my year-end longlist (and Top 20) including this great rock record from Richmond.

Ross McHenry - Child of Somebody [First Word Records]

His last record, Distant Oceans, placed on that year's Top 20 and composer / bass player McHenry almost repeated with Child of Somebody.

Yussef Kamaal - Black Focus [Brownswood Recordings]

The London (UK) jazz scene is booming and it's no surprise to find Gilles Peterson and his label Brownswood Recordings in the thick of it. Yussef Kamaal is not one person, but two: drummer Yussef Dayes and keyboardist/drummer Kamaal Williams (aka Henry Wu).

Japanese Breakfast - Psychopomp [Yellow K Records]

This one first caught my attention at the beginning of the year when I came across a couple tracks on Soundcloud. I played some on TGIFR and then it dropped off the radar for awhile. Good thing I keep a running list or I wouldn't have revisited this swirling LP.

A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service [Epic]

While I wasn't as taken with it as some folks who placed this in the Top 10 on year-end lists, any release from ATCQ (even partially posthumous) is a welcome addition to my listening list.

Angel Olsen - My Woman [Jagjaguwar]

It's a great record - it's on a bunch of year-end lists, and while I quite enjoyed this one (and bemoan missing her Winnipeg gig), I think there's a similar release that did a similar thing better and you'll find it on my Top 20.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 6

Basia Bulat  - Good Advice [Secret City Records]

Bulat has earned a lifetime spot in my longlists. I have never not enjoyed one of her albums.

Lily and Madeleine - Keep It Together [New West]

The "keep it together" of the title refers to the sisters' perspective on the struggles their millennial peers are dealing with. It's also the secret to their harmonic success. Great interplay between the pair.

Jenny Berkel - Pale Moon Kid [Pheromone]

Berkel called Winnipeg home at one point and her latest, Pale Moon Kid, contains a swan song of sorts for the city. Beautiful and dark.

Yes We Mystic - Forgiver [Independent]

Speaking of Winnipeg, one of my favourite acts in the city is Yes We Mystic. Great live, great on record and just great people.

John K. Samson - Winter Wheat [Anti-]

While we're on the Winnipeg run, is there an artist more emblematic of / associated with the city than John K. Samson?

Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger [Concord]

2016 was a bizarre year, and few things were as surprising as Paul Simon making one of the hippest, most interesting sounding records of the year. It's been a while since that was the case, but unfortunately you'll only get a taste on the Soundcloud preview.

Okkervil River - Away [ATO Records]

It's interesting that Will Sheff chose to lead the album off with "Okkervil River R.I.P." - it's like a eulogy for the group followed by a rebirth over eight more songs.

Devendra Banhart - Ape In Pink Marble [Nonesuch]

Just like Bulat, Banhart can pretty much be penciled in for a spot on my list. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but like the Brits, I'm always game for a cuppa.

The Pines - Above The Prairie [Red House Records]

Only a band from Minnesota or Manitoba could have written this sonic picture of  wide open sky.

Laura Gibson - Empire Builder [Barsuk]

Slinky, cinematic and haunting, this is a fantastic return to recording for Gibson, whose last record was 2012's La Grande.

Sara Watkins - Young In All The Wrong Ways [New West]

Nickel Creek member Watkins apparently wrote the record as a break-up album with herself, or at least the person she used to be. When I first wrote about the album on this blog, I said I found it unfortunate she had to go through heartbreak to write a record this lovely, but it sounds like it wasn't quite the situation I pictured upon first hearing it...

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive [Ribbon Music]

Speaking of cathartic writing experiences, talking with Thao Nguyen before her appearance at Interstellar Rodeo this summer, A Man Alive was just that for the San Franciscan. And if you want to hear that interview, check it out in its entirety here.

Merival - Lovers [Independent]

Looking back, I shouldn't have had this on my longlist as I don't include EPs on my Best Album list, but this gem from Torontonian Merival deserves a shout out as it stayed with me all year after I discovered it on Bandcamp back in January.

Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness [Temporary Residence]

The cover art for this record manages to distill the music EitS make into one image - a wave crashing and shattering into the side of a red cliff. The colours, the lines, the chaos, it's all there, and it's all on The Wilderness.

Nothing - Tired of Tomorrow [Relapse]

Philadelphia rockers Nothing provided me not only with a great listen, but also one of the funnier existential moments of my life when I found myself typing "nothing" into the search bar of my computer to find the audio files.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 5

Myles Sanko - Just Being Me [Legere Recordings]

"My Inspiration" off his last record was among my Top 20 songs of 2014 and remains a favourite. I was hella excited to see the UK vocalist land on the great Legere Recordings and while there wasn't a Top 20 song on Just Being Me, it's a uniformly solid record.

Tanika Charles - Soul Run [Independent]

If you read this blog on the regular or listen to my Friday night radio show TGIFR, Charles' inclusion on this list should be no surprise. I played the heck out of this record and was front and centre when she played The Good Will earlier this year. Kudos to outgoing Jazz Winnipeg honcho Paul Nolin for bringing that show to town!

Lee Fields and the Expressions - Special Night [Big Crown]

Another winner from upstart label Big Crown. This one from the already established Lee Fields who killed it at Interstellar Rodeo this past August. Not sure what precipitated his departure from Truth & Soul, but glad to see him land on another quality roster.

Lady Wray - Queen Alone [Big Crown]

Speaking of folks landing at Big Crown, Lady Wray did just the same and I'm glad it happened. Nicole Wray was one half of Truth & Soul act Lady with UK vocalist Terri Walker. The duo disbanded with Walker working on a solo act back in England and Wray got to keep the Lady moniker and thus she's the Queen Alone of the title.

Emmy The Great - Second Love [Bella Union]

Just as you'll end up seeing Lady Wray and Tanika Charles above on my singles list, Emmy The Great provided one of my favourite songs of the year. Though it's not the one shared here, which was the first track I heard from this record and features Wild Beasts vocalist Hayden Thorpe. It's a great cut too that deserves a listen.

Jessy Lanza - Oh No [Hyperdub]

Hamiltonian Lanza followed up her great debut Pull My Hair Back with a great sophomore effort that garnered her a spot on this years' Polaris Prize Shortlist.

Eric Krasno - Blood From A Stone [Feel Music Group]

Krasno - guitarist for Soulive and Lettuce - makes his solo debut with Blood From A Stone and it's a fantastic first statement. Having worked with the Tedeschi Trucks Band as well recently, it's clear that the rugged blues hat group excels in has found its way into Krasno's songwriting, blending with the funk and soul he already exhibited a proficiency in.

Evan Geesman - Coils [Ubiquity]

Just as there always seems to be a silber title that finds its way onto my longlist each year, the same can be said for Bay Area label Ubiquity Records. Do yourself a favour and join their mailing list so you get updates on flash sales so you can start bulk-buying their catalog.

The Frightnrs - Nothing More To Say [Daptone]

Rough year for the Daptone Records family. The Queen, Sharon Jones, felled by cancer. But before that, recent signee The Frightnrs' frontman Dan Klein dies from complications due to ALS. The group's Daptone debut would prove to be their last.

E.GG - Alverstone [Independent]

One-third of local rap group 3PEAT (found earlier in this series of Longlist posts), E.GG was a busy dude. In addition to his group debut, dude also dropped a hella hot solo full-length that found him collabing with some talented local beat-makers (full disclosure: two of them I consider friends).

Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat To Earth [Mexican Summer]

She's on my favourite track from the previously listed Drugdealer record, but Natalie Mering is no guest vocalist. On this full-length under the Weyes Blood moniker, Mering makes a trippy record that sounds like seventies AM radio in an alternate-universe California.

The Seshen - Flames and Figures [Tru Thoughts]

What I said before about silber and Ubiquity? Same goes for Tru Thoughts - consistently good label with an interesting and growing roster. The Seshen are a San Francisco seven-piece that use production techniques and instrumentation that push classic r&b into the future.

Jimetta Rose - The Light Bearer [Temporary Whatever]

If you haven't checked out Bandcamp's Top 80 Albums of 2016, do yourself a favour and start bookmarking their recommendations, starting with one that their list and mine shares - Los Angeles soul singer Jimetta Rose.

Manu Katche - Unstatic [Anteprima]

French drummer/composer Katche was in the running for the Top 20 for quite some time. In a stellar year for challenging jazz records, Unstatic was among the best.

Naima - Bye [Cuneiform]

Do yourself a favour and bookmark this Bandcamp link. It's the homepage for Cuneiform Records. You can make worse decisions than clicking on a random release from them and delving into the soundscapes their world-class artists create. But maybe start with Spanish trio Naima...

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 4

Un Blonde - Good Will Come To You [Egg Paper Factory]

I said there'd be another one on Egg Paper Factory and here it is. Un Blonde's LP was on my Polaris longlist this past year and thus it makes its way onto the Year End Longlist as well.

Drugdealer - The End Of Comedy [Weird World]

Here's another instance where one standout track (the above collab with Weyes Blood) kept this album in contention. Not that the rest of this one is bad. Far from it.

ELWD - There's Light Somewhere [Bad Taste]

Great hip-hop tape from an up-and-coming UK producer.

Thorn1 - The Leave of Leaves [silber]

It seems like every year there's at least one record that silber puts out that just strikes a chord - this year it's Russian act Thorn1. Shout out to Brian John Mitchell for plugging away at releasing great drone and experimental music.

Fatima Al Qadiri - Brute [Hyperdub]

Al Scorch - Circle Round The Signs [Bloodshot]

I think this is his actual last name, but damn if it's not appropriate for the blazing bluegrass the Illinoian makes.

The Amazing - Ambulance [Partisan]

The Stockholm quintet pick up right where they left off on last years' Picture You.

Classixx - Faraway Reach [Innovative Leisure]

If lead-off track "Grecian Summer" doesn't grab you, then you're unlikely to enjoy the rest of Faraway Reach, but if it wins you over, it plays for keeps.

MOP MOP - Lunar Love [Agogo]

If you ever wished that Sun Ra connected with a downtempo beatmaker for a collaboration, then weep no more m'lady. MOP MOP are the peculiar pairing you didn't even know you were searching for.

Beach Slang - A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings [Polyvinyl]

Hot on the heels of The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, Beach Slang dropped another blistering batch of punk tunes.

Teenage Fanclub - Here [Merge]

My love for this Scottish power-pop act goes back to 1990 and A Catholic Education. That is twenty-six-frickin'-years. God am I old.

The Bad Plus - It's Hard [Okeh Records]

This jazz trio never takes a misstep and they never fail to surprise with their choice of covers and rearrangement of pop songs for jazz purposes. Sadly, all the tracks are on Preview mode.

Andy Shauf - The Party [Arts & Crafts]

This is probably the biggest surprise for people I know as to what didn't make my final 20. I LOVED Shauf's set opening for Low at First Avenue in 2015 where I heard some of these tunes for the first time, but as much as I enjoyed The Party, it's not where I wanted to hang out at the end of the year.

Aleem Khan - URBANA CHAMPAIGN [Independent]

I stumbled across this one during a Bandcamp deep dive and tripped out for it. While it doesn't make the Final 20 for 2016, it's still on my longlist for next years' Polaris Prize.

Charles Bradley - Changes [Daptone]

The Screaming Eagle of Soul soars on this collection of tunes including a devastating Black Sabbath cover.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 3

Aoife O'Donovan - In The Magic Hour [Yep Roc]

Not sure what it is with some folks not posting on Bandcamp or Soundcloud, but Massachusetts singer-songwriter O'Donovan is among that lot, though I did find this live version of "Magic Hour" from her lovely Yep Roc record.

Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life [Mama Bird Recording Co.]

Honest Life is Andrews' sixth album. She's 26. I'll just be picking my jaw off the floor at that fact.

Mary Halvorson Octet - Away With You [Firehouse 12]

Halvorson is prolific and proficient - this isn't the only time you'll see the jazz guitarists' name come up on my 2016 list.

Jherek Bischoff - Cistern [The Leaf Label]

Twenty-plus musicians performed with Bischoff on Cistern, though ultimately it's his creation. The bassist composed, produced, mixed & mastered the album.

Sarah Davachi - Dominions [JAZ]

No foolin, BC drone artist Davachi released Dominions on April Fools' Day and has just dropped a brand new LP called Vergers that would likely end up on this list as well if I wasn't too busy re-reviewing all the music from my longlist.

Pajaro Sunrise - The Collapse [Lovemonk]

This is the first release I've heard from Spanish artist Yuri Méndez, who I discovered thanks to his sharing a  label with Bart Davenport. Dude's voice is peculiar, but in a charming way.

Carlos Niño and Friends - Flutes, Echoes, It's All Happening! [Leaving Records]

I found out about this one because I'm on Miguel Atwood-Ferguson's mailing list and he's among the 'friends' Niño collaborated with on this record. You might not recognize Atwood-Ferguson's name but maybe Madlib and Kamasi Washington are more familiar to you? Yeah, they're on here too. It's all happening indeed.

Adrian Younge - Something About April II [Linear Labs]

Younge has worked with the Delfonics, Ghostface Killah and more in the past. April II found him collabing with Laetitia Sadier, and much as I love soul music, I also have a huge thing for (a) french vocalists, and (b) Stereolab; so my head exploded.

Emapea - Seeds, Roots & Fruits [Cold Busted]

Funky, jazzy, slick beatmaking from Poland? As I'm quoted on the album's Bandcamp page: "Hot damn."

The Heliocentrics - From The Deep [Now-Again]

I know this is a first-world complaint, but there's almost too much music on From The Deep. It's all good - The Heliocentrics don't make bad stuff - but it's just a tad overlong.

Memoryhouse - Soft Hate [Memoryhouse]

Soft Hate wasn't just a departure from their label (Sub Pop) it was also a bit of a departure from the more muted music of their past.

Laura Sauvage - Extraordinormal [Simone Records]

I had the good fortune to see her open for Aidan Knight and if memory serves she closed with "No Direction Home." One-third of Les Hay Babies, Laura Sauvage is the stage name for Vivianne Roy's solo project and she displays songwriting- and guitar-chops abound.

Lionlimb - Shoo [Bayonet Records]

Eagle-eyed RR readers are already familiar with the track above. While the rest of Shoo doesn't quite match the pop-perfection of "Turnstile" that's a hard ask and an undue expectation.

saib. - Around The World [Cold Busted]

Moroccan beatmaker saib. has been a follow on Soundcloud for ages, so I was stoked to see him release this full-length on Cold Busted.

Atlantis Jazz Ensemble - Oceanic Suite [Marlow Records]

This Canadian jazz group was one of my favourite discoveries of 2016. Hadn't heard of them before Oceanic Suite landed on my desk at the station.

Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 2

Jaimeo Brown Transcendence - Work Songs [Motema Music]

Released in the midst of Black History Month and centered around modern reworkings of archival recordings as a commentary on the industrialized incarceration of black men, this would be an important record regardless of quality. But it's also a great listen.

Jay Arner - Jay II [Mint Records]

Unsurprisingly this is Arner's second record. The Vancouver B.C. artist doesn't venture too far from his Mint Records debut, but there's more synths and it's a brisk and breezy effort.

LAL - Find Safety [Coax]

I had the good fortune to talk to Nicholas Murray (one half of LAL) for my show when the group released Find Safety, and the misfortune to miss their appearance at The Good Will when they played Pride. Would have loved to pick up a physical copy of this record.

Rick Parker and Li Daiguo - Free World Music [eleven2eleven]

America's Parker and China's Li describe their collaboration as "An avante garde psychoacoustic project dedicated to facilitating the recovery of individuals suffering (from anything) through the use of exposure to representations of the Infinite which come in the form of flowing rivers of the illest lusciousness."

Jenny Gillespie - Cure for Dreaming [Narooma]

It's not necessarily at the level of Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns, but that's the record that comes to mind when listening to Gillespie's effort.

Olof Melander - The Path [Project Mooncircle]

Berlin's Project Mooncircle just marked its 15th anniversary and while I came to the label through Flako, Melander's full-length was an early discovery (January) that stayed with me throughout the year.

Photo Ops - Vacation [Bad Friend Records]

"Memories That Glow" totally took me back to the New Radicals. And I mean that as a compliment. While the rest of the record doesn't quite achieve that pop bliss, it's still front-to-back a great listen.

The Painters - Specks of Dust [Egg Paper Factory]

If you're a fan of indie / lo-fi and oddball music and you're not keeping tabs on Egg Paper Factory then you're missing out, not just on The Painters, but also Telstar Drugs and Un Blonde.

Tindersticks - The Waiting Room [City Slang]

Tindersticks go back over two-and-a-half decades at this point and Stuart Staples isn't necessarily any happier now than he was in 1991, but if you dig his melancholic music, you'll enjoy The Waiting Room.

Manuel Volpe and Rhabdomantic Orchestra - Albore [Agogo Records] 

Not the last time you'll see Agogo Records on this list. This is at the mellower end of material the Hanover-based label released in 2016, with Italian Volpe incorporating Middle Eastern percussion and spiritual jazz.

Saroos - Tardis [Alien Transistor]

Drawing membership from Lali Puna, The Notwist and Driftmachine, German trio Saroos crafted a trippy, space-y batch of beats and electronic soundscapes.

Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music [Planet Mu / Timesig]

Not as punishing an aural assault as he's employed in the past, Traditional Synthesizer Music is still as crisp and precisely structured as anything Funk has done in the past.

Submotion Orchestra - Colour Theory [Counter]

Leeds, UK electronic outfit Submotion Orchestra craft a blissful soundscape on Colour Theory.

Andrew Bird - Are You Serious [Wegawam / Loma Vista]

Yet another 30 second preview only set-up so you'll only get a taste of Are You Serious at the link above, but if you're a fan of Bird's prior efforts (Noble Beast anyone?) then it stands to reason you'll enjoy the latest.

Frank Ocean - blond / blonde [Boys Don't Cry]

I can't embed any tracks from Ocean's website, but if you've got Apple Music you can check out the stream. His Soundcloud page only has previews from two tracks on channel Orange so Ocean's divestment from his label and move to go out on his own seems to be fully executed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 - Longlist Part 1

So, New Years' Eve is just around the corner, which means that UMFM Station Manager Jared McKetiak and I will once again be counting down our Top 20 Songs and Albums of the year (pretty sure this is the 13th [!] year, though I'm losing count). I am still finalizing my album list and whittling it down from over 120 entries so I'm going to start sharing some of the records I thought were great but didn't make the cut. In no particular order, here's the first batch.

History of the Highways - Petals of a Rose [Independent] Technically released in 2015 (December 31st) it was way too late for last year, so I considered it for 2016.  

Karl Blau - Introducing Karl Blau [Bella Union] I wrote about this one shortly after it dropped. Usually I rule out any albums that are covers, best-of's or live, but Blau nearly swayed me to abandon that practice.  

JD and the Sunshine Band - Soaking Up The Rays [Transistor 66] Sunshine House is near and dear to my family. My wife works with the organization providing on-site healthcare and my friendship with JD dates back to his days in Ultra Mega. Soaking Up The Rays is the sophomore record from Ormond and a great group of street-involved folks and as the title implies, it's a batch of warm songs.

Zaum - Eidolon [I Hate] 2014's Oracles is where I first discovered Moncton doom-metal act Zaum. Their follow-up halves the number of tracks from 4 to 2, but the album is just as long and just as trippy.  

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band - 55 [Big Crown] This won't be the last time you see Big Crown Records. The new label started by Leon Michels & Danny Akalepse in 2016 came out with both guns blazing and released several records I loved. I have a big thing for steel drums so this one didn't need more than a few minutes to win me over.

Flamingosis - Great Hair [UNKNOWY] Been following Flamingosis on Soundcloud for ages now and they're always dropping tasty one-offs, but Great Hair is front-to-back goodness. If you like carefully crafted beats, this one's for you.

Kratos Himself - Stay True [Independent] Here's another great electronic producer - Stay True just dropped a week ago so I really haven't had more than a couple passes through it, but it deserves mention as they've certainly been enjoyable listens.  

CHOCOLAT - Rencontrer Looloo [Dare To Care] Shout out to the Quebec contingent of Polaris jurors who brought this one to my attention. La Belle Province has a long history of prog-rock goodness and Rencontrer Looloo definitely continues that tradition.  

3PEAT - 3PEAT [Independent] As the group name suggests, this is a trio - Dill The Giant, Egg & Steve - and they're a group of young dudes who rep my hometown of Winnipeg and continue on a great tradition of rap in this city.  

Bateau Noir - Bateau Noir [Independent] Instrumental post-punk from Montreal? OUI.  

Katie Dey - Flood Network [Joy Void] I came across Dey's asdfasdf and was particularly taken with "you gotta get up to get up." Flood Network continues on in that vein.  

Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter [Third Man] I'm still kicking myself for having to miss Price's performance at Interstellar Rodeo. Kids, man.  

White Lung - Paradise [Domino] Vocalise Mish Barber-Way had one of my favourite quotes of the year: “There’s this stupid attitude that only punks have where it’s uncool to become a better song writer... I have no interest in staying in kindergarten"  

Kvelertak - Nattesferd [Roadrunner] Unfortunately, all the Soundcloud clips from this epic record are set to preview mode, so you're only going to get about 30 seconds of any track, but that should be enough time to convince you to seek out this Norwegian metal act's full-length.  

Warpaint - Heads Up [Rough Trade] Here's another one set to preview mode. But if you liked their self-titled LP, I can guarantee you'll dig Heads Up just as much if not more.  

Helen Money - Become Zero [Thrill Jockey] Cellist Alison Chesley first crossed my radar with the first album recorded under the name Helen Money and the gorgeous track "Birds." Since then she's landed on the inestimable label Thrill Jockey and Become Zero is an emotional piece of work.

The Sadies ft. Kurt Vile - "It's Easy (Like Walking)"

Here's a little early Christmas present for you! The Sadies just debuted a new collaboration with Kurt Vile on CBC's Q today and the track can be heard on Youtube (below). You can follow this link to get the album Northern Passages.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Oddisee - "Things"

Does Oddisee sleep? Does The Iceberg refer to the fact that he's got so much music that most of it is buried beneath the surface? After dropping Alwasta and The Odd Tape in 2016, he's already poised to drop a new record in 2017 (February 24th to be exact). "Things" is the first track to drop and as with everything else dude does, it's fire.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Little Scream - "People"

In all the Year End insanity of catching up on records people loved throughout the year, it can be easy to overlook NEW music, but don't sleep on the new track from Montreal's Little Scream. "People" came out on Merge December 9th.