Best of 2019 (So Far): First Quarter Results – Honorable Mentions/Best of Local Releases
They can’t all be Best, so in the spirit of fairness here are a few more really (really) good 2019 musical releases that garner an Honorable Mention!
Colin Stetson – “The Rain Like Curses” (Single), Adult Swim Singles
My main horn man takes a break from scoring trippy films and television to gift us this mind/tongue/finger-bending solo track. If I weren’t familiar with his technique and his instrument, I would assume he had an entire orchestra of pitter-patters working at his disposal. Is there anything this guy can’t do
Superchunk – “Our Work Is Done/Total Eclipse” (ft. Fucked Up), Merge Records
White Denim – Side Effects, City Slang
Ex Hex – It’s Real, Merge Records
Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness, Island Records
Mdou Moctar – Ilan (The Creator), Sahel Sounds
These New Puritans – Inside the Rose, Infectious Music
Adia Victoria – Silences, Atlantic Records
Lafawndah – Ancestor Boy, Concordia
Bill McKay – Fountain Fire, Drag City
American Football – III, Polyvinyl
I’ve heard tale of these post-punk stalwarts, understanding that I could blame them almost exclusively for all the terrible bands during my high school days; so I thought I would give this return to form a shot. I was far from disappointed. Guitars, bass, flugelhorn, and (especially) vibraphone coalesce with the yearning, earnest vocals to produce something really effective and beautiful. I guess I can’t blame these guys for ALL the bad music during the early 2000’s.
The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe, Ninja Tune
Modern Nature – Nature (EP), Bella Union
Delicate Steve – Till I Burn Up, ANTI-
Jenny Lewis – On the Line, Warner Bros.
Beth Gibbons/Henryk Górecki – Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, Domino
The voice of Portishead lends her indomitable skill to Polish composer Górecki’s third symphony. Accompanied by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra with Krzysztof Penderecki at the podium, this song cycle couldn’t be more moody or spooky. For anyone wanting to approach symphonic music anew, or even a classical-head hoping for something fresh.
The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Life-force Of The Deep Mystery, Impulse! Records
Yola – Walk Through Fire, Easy Eye Sound
The Twin Cities have been busy this winter and spring, so check out some of these great local releases!
Tulip – s/t
Their name belies their power. Holy crap is this an intense little album. Good work, Elijah.
Falcon Arrow – Occurens, SolSta Records
I got to listen to this entire record played front to back after being nearly accosted by a disturbed motorist with a gun. I may have a bias, but these poly-tastic post-rock sounds are the best this duplicitous duo has released yet.
Command Casual – Let’s Get Out of Here
Another Minnesota two-piece that puts the Knight in Rider. Excellent beats and satisfying over-driven licks that sparkle with synthetic sheen.
the Miami Dolphins – Frisbee, Bumpy
Mike Watt would love this band. Equal parts Captain Beefheart, DNA, and the Go-Gos, the Dolphs maintain their most excellent run of socially conscious weirdo rock.
Oyster World – Durn Fool, Bumpy
Adam Werven is killing it with his Bumpy label, lately. Releasing both the Miami Dolphins twerk-rock and this freaked out noise-prog gem all within the same month. Oyster World twist and turn through a tidy ten tracks with skill and arresting aplomb.
J.S. Ondara – Tales of America, Verve Forecast Records
Kenyan transplant J.S. Ondara reaches out a loving hand from the Twin Cities with this gorgeous debut set. Sometimes solo, sometimes accompanied by a modest band, always beautiful stories paint a tentative, yet optimistic picture of today’s AMerica.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You, Nice Life/Atlantic
Home girl brings the party to the masses. Fabulous guest features do nothing to stifle this woman and her massive voice. Holy crap. Tight and enjoyable, this set of bangers is the perfect summer barbecue soundtrack if there aren’t any kids around. Just sayin’ – lots of dick and pussy jokes.
Blaha – The Calming Room, God Unknown Records
The mighty Blind Shake have begun their return to the corporeal world, but Mike Blaha’s outstanding side project will not be denied its credence. It’s refreshing to hear Mike play guitar with someone besides his brother, and to use his rock instincts with another band (familiar as those new moves may be). Another satisfying delivery from the Great North’s Sultan of Swing.
Adam Johnson lives in Minneapolis with his wife, cats, and guitars.