Short, Secret Album Reviews

Personal notes on music I’ve listened to. Of no interest or value to anyone but me, to keep track of stuff I’ve heard.


Six Organs of Admittance, “Companion Rises”: Good, but for some reason doesn’t stick to my mental ribs — after a couple of listens, I can’t really remember the music beyond “it was alternative rock, it was good”.

Soela, “Genuine Silk”: Loved this. Glitchy in a really interesting way, lots of textures and ideas, a kind of steady groove that I really enjoy (Nightmares on Wax does this really well; it reminds me of a lot of late-90s house and early Ninja Tune stuff in positive ways too).

Sturgill Simpson, “Cuttin’ Grass”: pretty much the only thing I liked about The Dead Don’t Die was the theme song, which made me sad as I normally like Jarmusch a lot. I really liked this album!

The Strokes, “The New Abnormal”: can you believe I’ve never really listened to The Strokes? One of those bands that somehow always just kind of passed me by. Great music! I feel bad for missing so much The Strokes now. More keyboardy than I would have thought from my distant idea of what The Strokes are like — which I like.

Tyler Childers, “Long Violent History”: another love! I have been playing a cheap (old) GTA style game in which you are a Hong Kong ganster (and undercover cop!) running around Hong Kong, driving fast cars and punching and sometimes stabbing people. I turned off its soundtrack and now run this underneath the game understead. It improves the game tremendously. I prefer the instrumentals to the vocal tracks.

Various Artists, “Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie”: You know I love this shit.

BAD MOVES, “Untenable”: I love this kind of Alvvays/CHVRCHES (bands with v in their names I guess?) groove. I’m a sucker for female (or duo)-fronted slighly punky power-pop combos. More hooks than a pirate convention!

Country Westerns, ST: I want to like this? I’m not sure I do like this? It’s hard for me to figure this one out. It’s like halfway between Deer Tick, who I love, and an above average bar band. It might fall into the “I can certainly understand why people who love them love them, but doesn’t quite vibe with me” camp. It did inspire me to listen to a bunch of Deer Tick after the album was over.

Ganser, “Just Look At That Sky”: Liked it okay; Sonic Youthy in important ways, but I actually think I liked the back half of the album more; they seemed to get a bit more weird and interesting (without getting too weird). The last two tracks were my faves with the spoken-word bit on the second-last and “Bags for Life” actually my standout.

Cut Worms, “Nobody Lives Here Anymore”: Loved this one! I settled into that acoustic groove right away. Great lyrics, and just generally a great set of songs.

Damien Jurado, “What’s New, Tomboy?”: right next to Cut Worms, and also really enjoyed this — one slid into the other to the point that I didn’t quite realize the album had changed, then picked up on the tonal shift and voice difference. Halfway to Richard Buckner, whose “The Hill” is a desert island selection for me.

David Bowie, “I’m Only dancing (The Soul Tour 74)”: I have to confess I’m not a huge Bowie guy. It is a guilt I have carried with me for decades, like my aversion to gardening as something I am “supposed” to like. I intellectually understand it’s good music, but it’s just never quite connected with me.

Dry Cleaning, “Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks EP”: the first album that when it was over I looped back around and listened to it again! Interestingly built, cool tonal shifts, somebody speak-singing/muttering — a lot of sweet spots. Maybe also because it’s short. I find most albums start to tucker me out after 6 tracks or so.

Empty Country, ST: Chance is a great track! I like “vistas” in music, I guess. They play into their name very well. Once again, nice sonic landscapes to lean into. Bookmarking for later, deeper listening.

Gunn-Truscinski Duo, “Soundkeeper”: is it post-rock? Is it jazz? What do labels even, like, mean, man? This was okay on either front, as post-rock or kind of aggro jazz. Not a ton of sticking power, but it scratches that big noisy itch.

Various Artists, “No Cover: A Carpark Covers Compilation”: Admittedly, the last time I was paying attention to Carpark was like 5-10 years ago, when Kid606 was putting out aggressive, glitchy electronic music and Toro y Moi some deep, compelling chillwave/dance stuff. So I was really disappointed by how monotone and mopey this compilation is — most of the tracks sound like they might be the same band; a kind of droopy, ethereal-vocal sound. It feels like Nettwerk Records during their transition from leather-pants industrial to Mom Jeans Adult Contemporary. Bleah.

Haim, “Women In Music, Pt. III”: I like Haim! Like The Strokes, this is another band that had escaped me until now, except for hearing about them in the periphery. I assumed it would be… I’m not sure what, but not this. I liked this a lot! Poppy, but there’s a lot of weird in the production, which is great.

Jenna Camille, “The Time is Now”: This hit a lot of sweet spots. Distinct production, jazz-infused loops over downtempo, repetitive beats, dissonant but not upsettingly so — once again I’m thinking of early-2000s Ninja Tune, and the beatier side of the Thievery Corporation 14th St. Lounge family of artists.

Jeremy Cunningham, “The Weather Up There”: groovy, forward-thinking jazz — loopy-sounding but I don’t think there are actual electronic loops in there — and then giving way to more conventional jazz. Vocal samples on tracks like Elegy are interesting without being overdone, and make an interestingly political statement without leaning too hard. Liked it a whole lot.

Morgellon, “Call of the Void,” “Quantum Metal”: Okay, I’m a snob, so when I saw these dudes were from Peterborough I thought it was a friend of a friend thing. I liked this so much it hurt my teeth. Heavy, but not like assault-every nerve brutal, great scope and sound. Damn!

Neil Young, “Homegrown”: This whole thing felt like coming home — I’ve grown increasingly disconnected with Neil Young as he’s gotten older and frankly weirder. Pono? What? So new, “classic” Neil Young is like a warm breeze on a cold day — the man could write songs, and this feels like everything I like about him: simplicity, warmth, and that familiar reedy voice.

Mary Lattimore, “Silver Ladders”: hooked from the title track; deeply atmospheric, rich, “haunting” but not “spooky” — simple compositions with a production depth that really appeals to me.

Miley Cyrus, “Plastic Hearts”: another reminder not to be such a goddamn snob. Yeah, it’s assembly-line pop music, but it’s well-produced, hooky, fun pop music. Is it “Miley Cyrus” or “female vocalist with good producer”? More the latter than the former, but it’s a bop. An it harm none, do as thou wilt, Miley Cyrus.

Yu Su, “Yellow River Blue”: so good! Electronic music fused with traditional Chinese instrumentation and scales — it’s deft, engaging, and complex without feeling too fiddly.


Aaron Goldberg, “At the Edge of the World”: a 2018 piano jazz album I re-listened to as part of a “keep or purge” effort with my slightly sick digital music hoarding issues. Keep! Effervescent piano, and that little Keith Jarrett sing/scat thing along with it. If you don’t like the Keith Jarrett sing/scat thing, avoid this like the plague, but I like it.

AceMoMA, “A Future”: Part of “keep or purge” review. It’s fine? Dithery electronics, a decent soundscape, some interesting ideas, but ultimately I… forgot it was playing? It blended into my background so much I actually started thinking that I should put some music on while it was on. Drop.