Wednesday, June 15, 2016

2016 in Albums: Halftime

ABC - The Lexicon of Love II (EMI)
Alexis Taylor - Piano (Moshi Moshi)
Allen Toussaint - American Tunes (Nonesuch)
Andy Stott - Too Many Voices (Modern Love)
Animal Collective - Painting With (Domino)
Anna Meridith - Varmints (Moshi Moshi) 
Autechre - Elseq 1-5 (Warp)
Aziza Brahim - Abbar El Hamada (Glitterbeat)
Beyonce - Lemonade (RCA)
Bill Frisell - When You Wish Upon A Star (Okeh)
Bitchin Bajas and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties (Drag City)
Brian Eno - The Ship (Warp)
Case/Lang/Veirs - Case/Lang/Veirs (Nonesuch)
Chris Abrahams - Fluid To The Influence (Room40)
Chris Forsyth and The Solar Motel Band - The Rarity Of Experience, Pts I and II (No Quarter)
Christian Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke - It's Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry (Editions Mego)
Christine and The Queens - Christine and The Queens (Because)
Cian Nugent - Night Fiction (Woodsist)
Corinne Bailey Rae - The Heart Speaks In Whispers (EMI)
Dan Weiss - Sixteen: The Drummers' Suite (Pi)
Dani Siciliano - Dani Siciliano (Circus Company)
David Bowie - Blackstar (Columbia)
Deerhoof - The Magic (Upset The Rhythm)
Dexys - Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul (Rhino)
Fatima Al Qadiri - Brute (Hyperdub)
Field Music - Commontime (Memphis Industries)
Freakwater - Scheherezade (Bloodshot)
Gerard Presencer - Groove Travels (Edition)
Glenn Jones - Fleeting (Thrill Jockey)
Glenn Kotche/So Percussion - Drum Kit Quartets (Nonesuch)
Gregory Porter - Take Me To The Alley (Decca) 
Henry Threadgill - Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
Heron Oblivion - Heron Oblivion (Sub Pop)
Huw V White - Hon (Chaos Collective)
Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids - We Be All Africans (Strut)
James Blake -  The Colour In Anything (Polydor)
Jessy Lanza - Oh No (Hyperdub)
John Martin/The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure (F-IRE) 
Josephine Foster - No More Lamps In The Morning (Fire America)
Julianna Barwick - Will (Dead Oceans)
Karl Blau - Introducing (Bella Union)
Kate Jackson - British Road Movies (Hoo Ha)
Kate Williams - Four Plus Three (KW Jazz)
Kendrick Lamar - untitled.unmastered (Polydor)
Kevin Morby - Singing Saw (Dead Oceans)
King - We Are King (King Creative)
Konono No. 1 - Konono No. 1 Meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Ears (Western Vinyl)
Laura Mvula - The Dreaming Room (RCA)
Let's Eat Grandma - I, Gemini (Transgressive)
Linda Sharrock - Gods (Golden Lab)
Lucinda Williams - Ghosts Of Highway 20 (Highway 20)
Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter (Third Man)
Marissa Nadler - Strangers (Bella Union)
Mark Korven - The Witch OST  (Milan)
Mark Kozelek - Sings Favourites (Caldo Verde)
Mark Pritchard - Under The Sun (Warp)
Mary Lattimore - At The Dam (Ghostly)
Matmos - Universal Care II (Thrill Jockey)
Matt Kivel - Janus (Driftless Recordings)
Matt Ridley - Metta (Whirlwind)
Mudcrutch - 2 (Warner Bros) 
Neil Young and Promise Of The Real - Earth (Warner Bros)
Nikki Yeoh - Solo Gemini (Infinitum)
Pantha Du Prince - The Triad (Rough Trade)
Paul Burch - Meridian Rising (Plowboy)
Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger (Concord)
Pet Shop Boys - Super (X2)
Phronesis - Parallax (Edition)
PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project (Island)
Prince - Hitnrun Phase Two (Virgin EMI)
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
Robert Ellis - Robert Ellis (New West)
Robert Stillman - Rainbow (Orindal)
Rokia Traore - Ne So (Nonesuch)
Roly Porter - Third Law (Tri Angle)
Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop - Love Letter For Fire (Sub Pop)
Saul Williams - MartyrLoserKing (Caroline International)
Sloth Racket - Triptych (Luminous) 
Spain - Carolina (Glitterhouse)
Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Lines (Matador)
Steven James Adams - Old Magick (Fortuna Pop)
Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide To Earth (Atlantic)
Suede - Night Thoughts (Warner Music UK)
Surgeon - From Farthest Known Objects (Dynamic Tension)
The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum (Jagjaguwar)
The Comet Is Coming - Channel The Spirits (The Leaf Label)
The Dead Tongues - Montana (601610 Records)
The Field - The Follower (Kompakt)
The Gloaming - 2 (Real World)
The I Don't Cares - Wild Stab (Dry Wood)
The Invisible - Patience (Ninja Tune)
The Monkees - Good Times (Rhino)
The Skiffle Players - Skifflin' (Spiritual Pajamas)
The Still - The Still (Bronzerat)
Three Trapped Tigers - Silent Earthling (Century Media)
Tim Hecker - Love Streams (4AD)
Tindersticks - The Waiting Room (City Slang)
Tony Joe White - Rain Crow (Yep Roc)
Tortoise - The Catastrophist (Thrill Jockey)
Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm With Every Stroke (ECM)
White Denim - Stiff (Red UK)
Whitney - Light Upon The Lake (Secretly Canadian)
William Tyler - Modern Country (Merge)

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Observations on Bruce Wembley

- This was a fantastic show (definitely in my top 5) but not so good if you were stuck on hearing The River in full.
- Even hoary old Dancing In The Dark was great, not least because of Chris Couper and his astonishing sign ('would you dance with Courteney Cox if she had a great beard?')
- I had a feeling this would be a long one due to the sensible early start and the ten day mid-tour break immediately after - I was right.
- Bruce at the loosest I've ever seen him, not just taking numerous signs but commenting on them too. 'Will you kiss my wife's leg better? NO.' Stealing sunglasses (I hope the audience member got these back) and downing someone's pint ('WTF? No, not all of it!')
- Be True was being soundchecked as we were walked in to the stadium so no real surprise there - but so glad it was played. A great choice of a genuine River outtake.
- I'll Work For Your Love - Bruce observed that this was 'rarely requested', 'obscure' but 'one of my favourites'. Why on earth not rehearse it with the band if it's a favourite? After some messing about to remember the correct key, Bruce's solo performance was very touching. He does seem to have the impression that Magic was not much loved - I don't know why this is, those songs and that tour were tremendous. I'd love to hear Gypsy Biker or Long Walk Home again. 
- There was a political thread to this show - the Seeds/Johnny 99 double, American Skin, Death To MY Hometown, My City Of Ruins, The River - it added up to something weighty and moving, but it could have come from the Wrecking Ball tour. Is there any reason why Seeds so often appears at big London shows? Probably a coincidence.
- The sound was mostly fine in the pit, but why was Nils inaudible during his solo on American Skin? Stuck on a comping preset? 
- Still don't get why it has to be Darlington County as a mass entertainer in the home straight - would Cadillac Ranch or I'm a Rocker not work just as well and keep to the tour's original brief?
- Many will have missed Drive All Night, Stolen Car, Price You Pay, Fade Away but there were numerous compensations - the aforementioned Be True and, perhaps most of all, a beautiful Tougher Than The Rest dedicated to Ali (so it was particularly great that Patti was back). The Sunny Day kid did well and at least got us Jungleland with her sign too.
- I will never complain about hearing Jungleland, and Jake looking up to the skies before the solo gets me every time (he does this on the full band Thunder Road as well).
- I would prefer if Bruce kept the full band Thunder Road - it's a more moving end to proceedings in the main set than Badlands, and then we could get the acoustic This Hard Land instead.
- Surprises in the encore continue to be a good thing.
- Outstanding pit queue management from both fans and the venue stewards. Very civilised and so much better than 2013. Great to see the Wembley stewards having a bit of a boogie themselves during Shout.
- Bruce really is a master showman - the greatest alive, in fact. Yes there are now more limitations to his mobility (jumping from pianos has clearly been added to the list of prohibited activities) and his voice feels the strain more than ever, but he does not look in any way done.
- For those pondering how he 'still' does 3.5 hour shows at 66, it's worth remembering that the average show length has increased as he's got in to his 60s. Rising and Magic tour shows tended to be around 2hrs 45. 
- 'We'll Be Seein' Ya' - do we read anything in to this? Patti was in tears at the end. Yes, this tour feels very emotional and has a sense of summation of his legacy, but so did the 2013 Wrecking Ball shows. He seems to be playing every show as if it is his last. Seeing E Street again can't be guaranteed but it certainly can't be ruled out yet either.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Bruce Coventry observations

- Bruce was still struggling with a cold but it didn't seem to matter
- What was going on with his hair?
- It takes huge conviction to walk out to a huge stadium, play a rubato take on For You alone at the piano and then go in to a brooding song like Something In The Night. For me, it worked.
- Bruce was aware of this being a challenging start and worked hard to engage the people 'IN THE STAAAAANDS!'
- The Ricoh is a smaller stadium and this seems to encourage him to take more risks (see also Long Time Comin in 2013). It's weird that I've now heard Save My Love more than, say, My Hometown.
- Save My Love was a comedy of errors, really, but in the best possible way.
- This was one of the best set lists of the tour so far, with thoughtful pacing and strong themes.
- Max Weinberg and Garry Tallent are the core of the E Street Band, play superbly but are mixed unfavourably - horrible hi hat sound throughout and bass almost inaudible. This could and should be easily rectified.
- Voice/throat issues aside, Bruce is in no way done. He is giving everything at these shows. He is the greatest showman out there (especially now Prince has sadly gone).
- Prove It All Night, My Love..., Youngstown and Murder Inc were IMMENSE - great to hear serious playing from Bruce, Nils & Steve
- Is it me or did Bruce just entirely forget to officially end the main set?
- These shows are about his legacy rather than his future, but the songs still sound very much alive.
- The shake-ups in the encore were very welcome and call to omit Bobby Jean tonight the right one - its poignancy would have upset the party mood that took over at the end.
- The acoustic Thunder Road was very emotional, but then it was in 2013 too.
- 'The E Street Band loves you' rather than 'We'll be seein' ya!' - I don't know how much to read in to this, but obviously a future E Street tour can no longer be guaranteed. My view: Barring any more tragedies, they will be back, but not on this scale.