One More Blue Nightmare: Aram Bajakian’s Back Again (with the album of the year)

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What has Aram Bajakian been up to since the release of his remarkable debut, Kef, in 2011?

Not much. He’s been on the road with both Lou Reed (RIP) and Diana Krall. Let me repeat that: he has played guitar with both Lou Reed and Diana Krall. Quick, how many musicians do you know who are versatile enough to pull that off? It speaks volumes to hear Sweet Lou introduce Bajakian as “guitarist extraordinaire” in of the many, highly recommended clips available on YouTube.

Bajakian has also managed to write and record another set of original compositions, and the results are stunning. Considering the depth and originality on display in Kef (which is an Armenian type of dance music known for incorporating traditional and western instruments), it is at once remarkable and refreshing that Bajakian has recorded a cycle that manages to be more direct and accessible, yet expansive in terms of style and effect.

The year is young but there were flowers also in hell will be on my list come December; the only question is whether anyone else will take top billing.

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For guitar nerds, this is an album that can—and should—be appreciated and savored for the multiple nuances that exist within practically each number. Bajakian indulges in his love of pedals and pyrotechnics, but the music is never indulgent. An obvious example is the tribute to his former employer, “LouTone”: it is a suitably fuzzed-out affair, ambling along with just the right attitude, but in the middle Bajakian breaks it down with some echoed distortion that is a tip of the cap and a passing of the torch. Moments like this will make music aficionados smile and nod the way a baseball fan can understand, without the announcer, the ways a pitcher paints the corner with his fastball.

And Bajakian brings the heat. He blasts out of the gate with the scorching “Texas Cannonball”, a tribute to the great Freddie King. In addition to being a suitably blistering opening salvo, it serves notice that this young man knows his history, and more, is capable of delivering convincing celebrations for the types of guitar heroes video game players have never heard about. And, as sensitive and subtle as his playing often is, he can absolutely kill when he wants to. Another tribute, “Orbisonian”, balances a punkish aggression with a winking rockabilly flair. This song should be featured in a video game.

In the liner notes Bajakian thanks his uncle for helping initiate a love affair with the blues that continues to this day. “Sweet Blue Eyes” is a worthy tribute to the idiom, taking Stevie Ray Vaughan on a late night cab ride to the East Village. “Rent Party”, which showcases the solid support offered by Shahzad Ismaily (bass) and Jerome Jennings (drums), is so full of glorious filth you”ll need fresh Q-tips after each listen. Yet, even on these hard-charging numbers, Bajakian can’t help enhancing things with multi-tracked embellishment: the middle section of “Rent Party” is an exercise in well-calibrated chaos. “Labor on 57th” lets the intensity build like an electrical storm, all menacingly gorgeous heat lightning, alternating between explosive release and retreat: it is a history of the hustle-bustle of our city that never sleeps.

The aforementioned “LouTone” and “The Kids Don’t Want to Sleep” are showcases for the huge, varied sounds Bajakian can conjure, unfiltered enough so they are fresh and raw, but shrewdly restrained enough to avoid noise-for-noise’s sake extravagance. Bajakian, in short, uses skill and instinct to assault your system, where so many other players simply turn up the volume.

It is, ultimately, the quieter numbers that fully reveal the mastery Bajakian is developing. Album closer “For Julia” is a soulful tone poem that uses a less-is-more understatement to concentrate feeling, where “Japanese Love Ballad” would not sound remotely out of place on one of John Zorn’s more exotic Filmworks studies.

Two tracks in particular elevate the proceedings and will stay with the listener for a long time. “Requiem for 5 Pointz” is a solemn shout-out to the “graffiti mecca” in Queens that was whitewashed this fall. In terms of subject matter and delivery, Bajakian is not simply cementing street cred for this city he loves; he is solidifying a distinctive imprint as a son of the cultural and musical capital of the world. “Medicaid Lullaby”, another political commentary that needs no words to make its case, offers majestic evidence of Bajakian’s uncorrupted heart. While he is often, and flatteringly, compared to Marc Ribot, this album in general, and this track in particular, conjures up the man who balances light and dark, heavy and soft, intellect and adrenaline better than just about anyone: Robert Fripp. One also thinks of Vernon Reid, another indefatigable explorer who distills his countless loves and influences into a vision that is brazen and uninterested in compromise.

None of this is to suggest there were flowers also in hell is a mere amalgamation of various, albeit disparate source materials; rather, it is a testament of Bajakian’s love affair with his instrument. The inspirations he has absorbed infuse practically every second of this recording, but the sum total is anything but reductive. This album contains multitudes, and they are original as they are exhilarating.

This is not jazz, nor is it necessarily rock or blues; it’s a reflection of the mind and soul of the man who made it, like all great art must be. As such, it is also a reflection of the frenzied times we live in: the turmoil, apathy and information overload, yet it prevails as an antidote for the very urgencies it addresses. The best instrumental albums are always soundtracks. They are soundtracks to the worlds they create, and his second album is the soundtrack of Aram Bajakian’s world, right now. We are witnessing the evolution of a significant talent, and we should anticipate important work from him for many years.

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The Top 10 Albums of 2011, According To Me (Part Two)

 

5. New Zion Trio, Fight Against Babylon.

The full review is here.

Zelig-like, Jamie Saft has been an indefatigable fixture in the downtown NYC music scene. Equal parts MVP and unsung hero, his presence—as player, producer and composer—is at once daunting and exhilarating. Anyone familiar with John Zorn’s Tzadik label will already be quite familiar with his work, but if any musician is inadequately described by labels and geography, it’s Saft. Granted, Tzadik’s mission statement is the promotion of music without boundaries or agenda, resulting in albums that shift comfortably between genres like jazz, classical and so-called world music. Still, even in the Tzadik stable, Saft has been all-world in terms of his reach and aspiration these last ten years and change.

What Saft manages to do on Fight Against Babylon is create an organic ambiance and, without any in-the-studio sorcery or clever manipulation (strategies he has already showcased on the aforementioned efforts), establish a deep, utterly pleasant groove. On the tracks “Ishense” and “Lost Dub”, the beat quickens and becomes ever-so-slightly urgent, upping the ante for Saft’s keyboard perambulations. This is closer to free-jazz territory, but welcoming as opposed to forbidding (a kinder Cecil Taylor meets a gentler Mad Professor?). Once Saft plugs in the Fender Rhodes the album moves into another gear, shifting from pleasantly intriguing to genuinely engrossing. Sweet and smooth, standout track “Hear I Jah” invokes the grandeur of Herbie Hancock and the tune is a mind-boggling mash-up, sort of Mwandishi matched up with Sly and Robbie. Closing track “Fire Blaze” slows things down to a hypnotic crawl, and Saft’s playing invokes 19th Century classical more than Studio One: it’s like Chopin with a spliff.

Jamie Saft, capable of seemingly anything, shrewdly utilizes a less-is-more approach to create a music that no one else could have conceived. He boasts the full range of his influences and ability, conjuring up sounds and feelings from multiple genres. The results are strikingly original and may inspire you to dig up some dub classics from your closet, or listen to contemporary jazz with reawakened ears. They should also remind you that while Saft has never before done anything quite like this, Fight Against Babylon is an obvious and welcome continuation of the distinctive and unclassifiable work he has been doing for well over a decade.

You know you want it. Get hold of it here.

4. Pitom, Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes.

I was unprepared for Pitom. As a result, my initial experience with the band’s debut album in 2008 was one of those exceedingly rare occasions when one’s astonishment is both genuine and pleasant. I remain in awe of the work. It seemed—and still seems—almost impossible that a group of young musicians could create compositions this intense, vibrant and convincing. Practically from start to finish, that first album delivers at a high level and, like the best music, provides rewards and delights with each listen.

Pitom’s sophomore effort is entitled Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes. If that sounds a bit heavy, consider that the album is an attempt to grapple, in musical terms, with Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of repentance). Fruchter is an observant Jew, which makes the subject matter and the tone of the proceedings easier to understand. He also has described Pitom’s music as “punkassjewjazz” which should give you an idea of how serious he is about not taking himself too seriously.

It is obvious that Fruchter is very much a student of all musical genres, so the shifting styles are never abrupt or distracting; indeed, the never-static dynamic gives the songs a restless edge. The guitar, already heavy on the first album, is heavier and a bit darker this time out. There are discernible elements that favorably recall both Mogwai’s purposeful crunch and Joe Satriani’s pyrotechnic shred-fests. Drummer Kevin Zubek and bassist Shanir Blumenkranz are at once a steadying force and the engine that keeps things moving forward and, occasionally, sideways. Violinist Jeremy Brown is much more than an accompaniment for the electric guitar; his playing is both raw and refined, sometimes on the same song. As dominant as the guitar sounds throughout, Brown is constantly embellishing and augmenting. Check them out live here. On songs like “A Crisis Of Faith” he is out in front, while the guitar darts and weaves around the melody. Those roles are somewhat reversed on the frenetic “Head In The Ground”. There is emotional heft here and a vibe that engages the intellect. This is music that matters. Is it too soon to begin wondering—and anticipating—what Pitom is going to come up with next time out? Stay tuned.

Full review here.

3. Aram Bajakian: Aram Bajakian’s Kef

You need to spend some time with this music. Fortunately, you will want to spend time with it. There are at least two excellent reasons for this: one, you will need to allow it ample opportunity to work its magic; two, you will need sufficient time to formulate an appropriate response for your friends when they inquire about what you’re listening to these days. An album called Kef you will say. What? By a guy named Aram Bajakian. Who? Bajakian is a Brooklyn guitarist whose debut, Kef has just been released by John Zorn’s Tzadik label. (Mentioning Tzadik should immediately clear up any questions about quality or street cred. It should also indicate that, like everything else from Tzadik, this material will be unique and ambitious, if not immediately accessible.)

Kef is named for an Armenian type of dance music known for incorporating traditional and western instruments. In other words, the sort of thing ideally suited for Tzadik. Bajakian is joined by Tom Swafford on violin and Shanir Blumenkranz on bass. The absence of drums is novel and audacious, but considering how much some of this material shreds, it is almost revelatory. Blumenkranz is quickly bolstering his own legendary credentials, having already appeared on more than two dozen Tzadik releases.

There are no unsatisfactory tracks to be found here, and while some may dazzle or impress more than others, the last two, “48 Days” and “La Rota”, warrant special mention. Alternately serene and sombre, these closing statements comprise an elegiac, deeply moving conclusion. There is beautiful music and there is moving music (the best, of course, can combine the two), and then there is music that goes to that other place which is at once inscrutable and oddly familiar. By the time the last notes have been played it will occur to the tuned-in listener that something significant is happening here. This is a different type of music.

Music remains the ultimate antidote against cynicism and apathy: all it asks is you lend it your ears and in return you may just get something that makes the world more beautiful than you thought possible. If that sentiment is, understandably, a bit much to process with a straight face, let it suffice to say Kef is as extraordinary an album as I can recall listening to in a very long time.

Full review here.

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Introducing Aram Bajakian

My review of Aram Bajakian’s remarkable debut Aram Bajakian’s Kef dropped yesterday at Popmatters. (check it out here).

It’s not too early to predict that this will end up as one of my personal choices for best-of-year releases. Here is the conclusion of the review.

There is beautiful music and there is moving music (the best, of course, can combine the two), and then there is music that goes to that other place which is at once inscrutable and oddly familiar. By the time the last notes have been played it will occur to the tuned-in listener that something significant is happening here. This is a different type of music.

Music remains the ultimate antidote against cynicism and apathy: all it asks is you lend it your ears and in return you may just get something that makes the world more beautiful than you thought possible. If that sentiment is, understandably, a bit much to process with a straight face, let it suffice to say Kef is as extraordinary an album as I can recall listening to in a very long time.

Aram recently took the time to answer some questions and discuss his evolving aesthetic. This is a musician we can –and should– expect to hear amazing things from for a long time. If you are at all interested in adventurous, exciting music, it’s about time you got acquainted with him.

1. Your press materials include the story of your debut at age 10, where at a talent show you emulated Jimmy Page’s violin bow on guitar pyrotechnics (from “Dazed and Confused”). Presumably Zeppelin was an early influence? Who were you listening to then, and who would you name amongst the musicians you’ve learned from?

Yeah, the story is true. I actually had a picture of Jimmy Page on my homeroom desk in fifth grade. I would rent The Song Remains the Same video every weekend. The sound was so great! Bonham’s solos. Page’s solos. Plant’s crotch. Then my mom made me watch Amadeus and I got really into classical music. Mozart, Bach and Prokofiev were biggies for me. I studied classical guitar and took lessons and harmony, though I didn’t really understand theory at that point. I read all the theory books and tried to make myself have perfect pitch. It didn’t work. Then I got into punk and noise. Sonic Youth’s EVOL was a big influence. Then once high school hit I became a jazz snob for a few years, but managed to effectively shed that. Now I’m mostly influenced by the people I play with. For my own projects I try and get people who are going to push me and make me better, so I don’t become stale and so that music doesn’t become lame. You always want to be on your toes.

2. Although born and raised in Central Massachusetts your music has obvious Armenian influences (in fact, I learned from your press materials that the name of this trio –and album– “Kef”, refers to Armenian dance music). Can you elaborate on the cultural heritage and ways your sensibility was shaped by your upbringing?

There’s a large Armenian community in Central Massachusetts, where I was brought up. I would always go with my grandparents to the Armenian dances and hear the oud music. But I never really studied it. A few years back, Shanir Blumenkrantz said to me “with a name like Aram Bajakian how can you not be playing Armenian music?” That’s when Kef was born.

3. Walk us through your career thus far. When did you realize you wanted to be a professional musician? Any highlights (or lowlights) you care to mention amongst your gigging career thus far?

I’ve always played music and always wanted to play music, literally since I was in preschool. The highlights are any time I can perform. I try and play with the same respect for the music whether I’m in a rehearsal, or playing in front of ten people at a bar in NY, or playing in front of 50,000 people at a festival with Lou (Reed). But it’s hard to be a musician in NYC, even when you’re playing with great artists. The other day I had to lug my amp and pedals, about 40 lbs. worth of gear, up 5 flights of subway stairs in the rain. It sucked. But things could be worse. I could always be a lawyer or a banker, or in some destitute village in Somalia.

4. It’s difficult to be a jazz fan in NYC and not at least be aware of John Zorn (and Tzadik). How did you link up with this label, which is so ideally suited for your work?

I had approached John with the idea a few years back. Marc Ribot introduced us. The good thing is that even with that, John wouldn’t put out the project. It was because I hadn’t done anything with it yet. So I decided that I’d make a record that was so good he’d have to put it out. It was a good challenge for me, because as an artist, it’s easy to let your mind or laziness get in the way.

5. Presumably you’ve played with/interacted with some of the guitar studs from that label, including Marc Ribot, Jon Madof and Yoshie Fruchter?

Yes, I’ve played Ribot and Madof. Will probably play with Fruchter on Oct. 26th at the Tzadik Festival on the LES. Ribot is a genius because he’s able to sound like he’s picking up the guitar for the very first time. That is probably the hardest thing to do. And then he’ll play one little thing that will just tear you apart.

6. How would you describe your aesthetic and what you are after (on this release but also what you are doing next, and after that…)

I remember when I was in fourth grade and my parents got me my first electric guitar for Christmas. It was a crappy Kay guitar with a battery powered amp. I spent days just playing simple chords on it relishing in the sound. My aesthetic is to always go back to that same feeling of loving the sound. So often musicians can get stuck in technique or ideas. That usually results in boring music. What I want is more raw and guttural than that. I’m not trying to do anything revolutionary or cutting edge or innovative or avant-garde. It’s really all about working from that other space. That’s what I practice now.

7. You played with Lou Reed this summer. Describe that experience, and how that incredible opportunity came your way…

Zorn had recommended me for the gig. I went to audition and his manager came out and said “sorry, but Lou’s going to go with the guitarist who’s in there now.” I went home and forgot about it. You can’t get worked up about those things; I felt honored just to be asked. Three days later my daughter was born, which was the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced. About a week later, Lou’s manager called and asked me to come to the studio to play for Lou. It was nine in the morning and I had been up all night changing diapers. I was dead tired and really not giving a fuck. But still, I went in and decided I was going to get the gig. Lou had me solo on “Sweet Jane” and I played my ass off. A lot of people have said to me since then that it’s a “hot seat” gig. That he pushes his musicians and can be difficult. My response to that is “do you really want a gig that isn’t a hot seat gig?” Do you really want to just go through the motions? Lou teaches you to start out at 150%, and that is a life-long lesson. You have to have the tone and the technical skills, but you need something more too. You need to play with all you have. That’s why he’s Lou Reed. And whenever he gives someone shit its only because he really cares about it being as good as it can be. It’s not a personal thing. You can’t take it personally.

8. What albums (jazz and otherwise) have had the biggest impact on you?

Smashing Pumpkins Gish, Fugazi’s Repeater, Sonic Youth’s EVOL, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Anything by the Rail Band of Bamako, Booker T and MGs, Miles Davis Live at the Plugged Nickel. Anything by The Beatles. I’ve gone for a few months only listening to them. That’s a good thing to do. PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Ribot. Really, if you’re a musician you should listen to as much music as you can. You should listen to metal. Messhugah is awesome! Those rhythms! And Metallica is like a Ferrari! I love Indian music. Carnatic music is awesome! Forro music from Brazil is awesome! Accordions with a triangle and bass drum! It’s awesome. What about Vivaldi? Certainly The Four Seasons is overplayed, but his harmonies are awesome! Radiohead. Sometimes avant-garde people can be too cool for certain things. I say fuck that. The producer Hal Wilner was on the tour with us for a few days this summer. We’d listen to everything. We’d go from listening to Barry Harris playing Monk, to Beyoncé to some obscure noise metal band to Radiohead. It was a real lesson in listening.

9. What else do we need to know, about you/Kef?

I love food. www.aramscarum.blogspot.com Please buy my CD and support music! Yes I play with Lou Reed and have a record on Tzadik. I also still have a day job in real estate here in NYC. It’s a good job and I like it, but if you support my music, at some point I’ll be able to do that exclusively.

10. (Editor’s note): See below.

For more info, check Aram out at arambajakian.com.

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Aram Bajakian: Aram Bajakian’s Kef

Aram Bajakian’s Fractured Folk Tales

You need to spend some time with this music. Fortunately, you will want to spend time with it. There are at least two excellent reasons for this: one, you will need to allow it ample opportunity to work its magic; two, you will need sufficient time to formulate an appropriate response for your friends when they inquire about what you’re listening to these days. An album called Kef you will say. What? By a guy named Aram Bajakian. Who? Bajakian is a Brooklyn guitarist whose debut, Kef has just been released by John Zorn’s Tzadik label. (Mentioning Tzadik should immediately clear up any questions about quality or street cred. It should also indicate that, like everything else from Tzadik, this material will be unique and ambitious, if not immediately accessible.)

For folks who have not heard of Zorn or Tzadik, the label – now well over a decade old – has helped discover and promote music that falls far outside the so-called mainstream. While Zorn’s influential quartet, Masada, can easily be described as jazz (and lazily described as Ornette Coleman meets Klezmer), much of the work Zorn and those recording on his label do is difficult to categorize. Naturally, this is a very good thing: this is music not different for the sake of being difficult or outré; rather, it is ambitious in scope and very outward looking. As such, it’s not uncommon to hear the never-passé stylings of bebop alongside classical and world music (speaking of lazy and inadequate descriptions … ), often in the same composition. Simply put, Tzadik represents the essence of avant-garde, adventurous and averse to convention.  It also serves as a reminder for anyone bored or seeking reassurance, that there are (many) smaller labels releasing inspired music it would take a lifetime to listen to.

Kef is named for an Armenian type of dance music known for incorporating traditional and western instruments. In other words, the sort of thing ideally suited for Tzadik. Bajakian is joined by Tom Swafford on violin and Shanir Blumenkranz on bass. The absence of drums is novel and audacious, but considering how much some of this material shreds, it is almost revelatory. Blumenkranz is quickly bolstering his own legendary credentials, having already appeared on more than two dozen Tzadik releases.

From the first note, the traditional, non-Western influence is obvious, but, by the second track, the jazz and rock sensibility is front and center. There is an aggressive, almost punkish vibe that also will sound familiar to fans of the Tzadik label. The guitar playing on Kef inevitably calls to mind his label-mates Jon Madof and especially Yoshie Fruchter (who employs the violin in his quartet Pitom) but more than anyone, his runs, at turns angular, muscular and – when necessary – brutal, recall Marc Ribot. This is intended as the highest form of praise.

Kef will remind listeners of Madof’s quartet Rashanim in part because both guitarists are brilliant but also boast the considerable prowess of Blumenkranz. Kef will also draw favourable comparison to Pitom because of the violin (and again, the indefatigable Blumenkranz), as well as the energy that pivots between punk and hardcore, if only for seconds at a time. Bajakian is quite obviously a product of his culture and times, and he is able to infuse each song with a variety of cultural signposts and points of departure. The fifth track, “Wroclaw”, breezes along like an Armenian folk song, albeit one played in dark nightclub or a sweltering New York subway. This is postmodern chamber jazz that swings proficiently with an always-apparent and quite convincing Eastern vibe: fractured folk tales, if you like.

There are softer, subtle moments, like the acoustic opener “Pear Tree” or the gorgeous “Pineta”. There are some scorchers, like “Sepastia” and “Raki”, both of which showcase the band’s agility. It is during the more intense moments where the absence of a drummer is most noticeable—and impressive. The lack of grounding and punctuation would leave a less capable ensemble without the necessary punch and bottom; Bajakian’s band uses the extra space as an opening for interaction, and each musician takes turns steering the ship and soaring above the surface. There is a distinct structure unifying each song, and while the collection coalesces to a logical flow, each tune could be isolated and examined. After several listens you might even find yourself humming some of these melodies (does anyone hum anymore?).

There are no unsatisfactory tracks to be found here, and while some may dazzle or impress more than others, the last two, “48 Days” and “La Rota”, warrant special mention. Alternately serene and sombre, these closing statements comprise an elegiac, deeply moving conclusion. There is beautiful music and there is moving music (the best, of course, can combine the two), and then there is music that goes to that other place which is at once inscrutable and oddly familiar. By the time the last notes have been played it will occur to the tuned-in listener that something significant is happening here. This is a different type of music.

Music remains the ultimate antidote against cynicism and apathy: all it asks is you lend it your ears and in return you may just get something that makes the world more beautiful than you thought possible. If that sentiment is, understandably, a bit much to process with a straight face, let it suffice to say Kef is as extraordinary an album as I can recall listening to in a very long time.

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/148645-aram-bajakian-aram-bajakians-kef/

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So…what are you listening to?

Check this out:

In order to write about music you need to hear it first.

In order to hear the music you need to know about it.

Sounds simple, and very often it is: you receive recommendations, you read articles, you broaden your search by seeking out artists you have not heard who have played with artists you have. You take advantage of technology (anyone who has shopped at amazon.com or spent even a few minutes on one of the many online music sites understands how this works, and it works well). You become an active agent in the process of understanding and acquiring music from the past and present. And, in very rare instances, you get a chance to listen to the future.

No, I’m not talking science fiction or fantasy (though this scenario involves a bit of both): I’m referring to the opportunity writers who review music occasionally have to discover new sounds before they are officially available to be heard. In a world that is rapidly receding into the collective rearview mirror, this terrain was once exclusive to a select group of sanctioned arbiters: the critics. We get the goods so that an ostensibly objective narrative (e.g., the cumulative computation of reviews) can emerge, before people spend money, as to whether or not the item in question is worth that money.
Of course the calculus has been turned on its head, mostly for the better: anyone with some technological savvy can procure this music in advance without paying a penny. This hurts artists but it mostly affects the rapacious record company honchos. With them increasingly marginalized, the symbiotic relationship between musician and audience is as healthy and positive as it’s been in ages—possibly ever. For every penny the musician does not make on the sales of CDs, he or she is making up for via social media, web presence and digital downloads. You’ll still hear some musicians bitching about the inexorable, and unfair, dissolution of the old order, but it’s mostly (and tellingly) the richest—and invariably least talented—that have the most to lose. Without the hype delivered in advance by bought-off media endorsements and sketchy groupthink consensus, more people can determine for themselves, without dropping the proverbial dollar, whether or not this new material is worth a damn.

All of which is a protracted way of trying to explain why I seldom have an uncomplicated answer to the simple question I am asked all the time: So…what are you listening to? The answer is easy (everything) and more complicated. I’ve been all over the place (as usual?) lately in regards to the music I’m reviewing and that’s just the way I like it. However, a new, quite welcome wrinkle has informed my listening –and reviewing– pleasure over the last several weeks. I’ve lately found myself in the enviable position of hearing music that I may not have otherwise discovered, straight from the source. On opposite ends of the experience spectrum, I’ve been provided with new releases from a young artist I’d never heard of, and an artist who happens to have played drums on an album I feel somewhat strongly about. Listening to new music is like dating (only more so): you can’t necessarily predict what will turn you on, but you know it when you see (hear) it. It’s always exciting –and more than a little relieving– to confirm that you are able to endorse music that was sent your way unsolicited. It’s exhilarating –and humbling– to realize you feel very positive about the music and can’t imagine how you could have lived your life without hearing it.

Check it out:

I’ve received, listened and written about two new releases that deserve a wide(r) audience, and if I’ve done my job tolerably well, people who read this blog are about to discover a couple of remarkable albums (and artists).

To be continued…

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