Last year, I found the Twitter #MWE exercise to be useful and enlightening, so I did it again. All of this year’s posts are compiled below and the button below goes to my 2017 #MWE post and includes links and info on what it’s all about.
Alice Coltrane – Ptah the El Daoud
Saw someone call this soul-jazz, which provides a small hint. Bookended by grand statements, the middle is just as compelling but on a calmer plane (harp and flute on Blue Nile are wonderful). An absolute powerhouse of an album.
Ash Ra Tempel – st
Post rock progenitor featuring lava hot soloing, driving, sometimes brutal krautrock rhythms and long, dark ambient passages. So of it’s time & so far ahead of it’s time at once. Modern instrumental guitar music doesn’t exist without this.
Superchunk – No Pocky for Kitty
A foundational album on the punk/emo side of indie, which isn’t always my cup of tea, but the songs are super well crafted and the album zips along at a steady clip with little to no filler
The Thelonious Monk Quartet – Monk’s Dream
Super tight group delivering a lively selection of songs well balanced by a couple solo piano pieces. This would be a great place to start for someone new to Monk.
Viktor Vaughn – Vaudeville Villain
The rapping here is pretty much first rate throughout. Some of the production and the Open Mic Nite pieces cause things to drag a bit, but overall another reason I need to dig deeper into Doom territory.
Parliament – Mothership Connection
There is a surprising subtlety living alongside the wide open grooves as Star Child arrives to “save a dying world from it’s funkless hell”. The world’s still dying but at least we got to dance.
Stars of the Lid – The Tired Sounds of
Incredibly beautiful, glacial, cavernous, sometimes narcotic ambient drone, absolutely massive in it’s minimalism. The first half has an overarching somberness or weariness to it. The second half somewhat lighter.
Grateful Dead – Built to Last
Production is too slick for my tastes, but I expected that going in. This one was rushed by GD standards and some songs could have been a lot better if given the chance to ferment live longer. Better listen than expected, though. RIP JPB
Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis – Deep Listening
Drone masterpiece. Parts sound heavily electronically processed, but weren’t – at all. Improvised and recorded live inside an underground cistern, providing maximum reverb.
Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra – Secrets of the Sun
A transitional record that feels like one in all the best ways. Strong melodies veer off into free-form playing and back, while one song verges on ambient. A great album to dip one’s toes into wilder forms of jazz.
Amon Düül II – Phallus Dei
The frequently whacked out vocals get in a way a little, but the wildly experimental music is so successful so often that it hardly matters.
Brigid Mae Power – st
So many things about this album would feel slight, or small, taken alone, but build into these massively emotional tapestries. The craft in the songs is stunning and the production follows and blankets the songs like new fallen snow.
Lou Reed – Street Hassle
Reed plays some good tricks with old songs alongside a pile of great new ones (+ one that has not aged well). The title track sounds nothing like the rest of the album but acts as it’s beating heart and fits perfectly anyway.
Pearls Before Swine: One Nation Underground
Often wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve, but repeat listens bear good fruit. Lovely, wandering psychedelic folk with sometimes simplistic rhythms and hyper literate lyrics. RIP Tom Rapp.
Pharaoh Sanders – Summun Bukmun Umyun
Two wildly different pieces cut from the same joyous fabric. Soaring melodies, polyrhythmic beats, unpredictable use of instruments (piano at times falling into a noisy drone of fast cascading keys). Begs for repeat listens.
Earth – Earth 2
I knew what I was getting into when I started this album, but, frankly, it is twice as thick, dense and menacing as I expected. Sometimes the originators of a sound take it all the way right from the start and everyone else moves backwards from there.
Robbie Basho – The Grail & the Lotus
Of the American primitive style, but already, early on, Basho is veering in his own direction. Maybe less experimental than later work, but still super interesting and the playing is uniformly excellent.
Galaxie 500 – On Fire
Dream-pop, no doubt, but with an edge that nicely bridges that side & the heavier distortion side of shoegaze. They have a tendency to make even the short songs feel long (in a good way) with loose soloing and the slightly strung-out tempo.
James Brown – Live at the Apollo (1962)
Getting on stage and killing it is as easy as breathing. That’s the impression here, anyway. An artist and band not even sweating it. The audience commentary helps make this such a pleasure.
Eric’s Trip – Love Tara
Did Forever Again for MWE last year and it only sorta clicked. This, however is lightning hot, lo-fi, spastic brilliance. Apparently liked to call their sound “dream punk,” which really does kinda hit it. Can’t wait to dig further.
Rhye – Blood
An album that almost takes walking away from for a while to fully appreciate. Smooth as silk and almost too ephemeral on initial listen, but hours later some of these sly ear-worms began re-surfacing in my head.
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing
A successful bridging of a variety of styles helps this sound both of it’s time and somewhat out of time. Spare, rubbery arrangements keep the songs moving while Jones stays front and center. Great selection and execution of covers.
John Coltrane – Om
A fascinating skronk fest sometimes on the verge of chaos for the sake of chaos, but there are themes weaving in and out throughout and sections where a loose state of order comes into play. Passionate, explosive, cathartic music.
The Roots – Things Fall Apart
Like a great jazz album, these songs shift and flow into and between each other like one long exhale. Perhaps a bit long, as 90’s albums often are, but no filler here. Give it it’s time, it’s worth it.
Cheating a bit on this one as I have heard it at least 1 or 2 times back around the time it was released, but have been meaning to check it out again for years so it more or less fits the #MWE ethos.
Roy Montgomery – Temple VI
Deeply cathartic instrumentals confronting death. The titles imply this, but it is right there in the sounds which are a collection of haunting, otherworldly, looping, feedbacking guitar wonders. The blur at the edge of consciousness.
Cheating again (it’s been a long weekend…). I heard this once years back and it didn’t quite click, even though I had every reason to think it should. Revisiting it now, I was flattened. Sublime.
Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Much more progressive in sound than expected and this occasionally fails them, but mostly pays off handsomely (sometimes within a single song). Lots of big riffs, of course, but also some sneakier ones that dig deeper.
Cocteau Twins – Garlands
A dark, moody post punk grind with some gothic flair. Some of the songs creep along a little monotonously, but this helps in defining an overall sense of gloom that pervades the album.
The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up
There are a couple clunky moments on this album and some lyrics are perhaps a little too obvious, but overall it’s a breath of fresh air. Holds onto some of the lessons and experiments learned but makes it all so easy and fun to listen to.