Skip to content

Grading week playlist – days 3&4

January 24, 2015

I’m not sure what it is about hip-hop but it has dominated my grading soundtrack this year. For the most part it isn’t about the lyrics – it’s the beats. A stone groove keeps things moving. When one of my kids does his homework in the room with me, looking up at one point and telling me “this is inappropriate” I know I’ve gotten lost in it, in all the best ways. I might add that I’m a fan of a particular strain of hip-hop – rarely is it straight-up gang rap – more under the categories I’ve seen referring to “alternative rap,” “underground rap,” or “turtablism.” (Click for links to definitions and examples)

I shot out a link to this video on my Twitter but I’ll repost it here – it is an amazing compilation of film clips and images, going the full length of J Dilla’s “Donuts,” one of my favorite albums.

The playlist:

  • J Dilla – Donuts
  • El-P – Fantastic Damage
  • Madvillain – Madvillainy
  • Diggs Duke – The Upper Hand and other Grand Illusions
  • Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Piñata
  • Young Fathers – Tape Two
  • Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli) – Black Star
  • John Legend & The Roots – Wake Up!

Grading week playlist – day 2

January 21, 2015

Part of the reason I love listening to vinyl records while grading is I need to get up every 20 minutes or so, and it keeps the day flying along. I listened to another Grateful Dead show this morning since I also took the time to try to mail order tickets for their final (!) shows this summer, that just so happen to be in Chicago. It was a great scene at the post office this morning – there were easily 25 people there (multiply that times post offices around the country) decorating envelopes with dancing bears and skulls, trying to understand how to use a money order, and being sure to follow the precise directions. Fun bonding!

Here is today’s list:

  • The J.B’s – These are the J.B.’s
  • Grateful Dead – 11-18-1972 (Houston, TX) – vinyl Record Store Day edition
  • Big Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun
  • Chavez – Gone Glimmering
  • Stuff – More Stuff
  • Pharaoh Sanders – Love Will Find a Way

Grading week playlist

January 19, 2015

Finals week is actually a favorite of mine – there is a lot of work, but I can also listen to stacks of vinyl as I make my way through stacks (digital) of essays. I’m going to list them here as I spin them each day. If you have any suggestions, pass ’em on!

  • Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
  • The Supreme Jubilees – It’ll All Be Over
  • Arthur – Dream and Images
  • Fugazi – In On The Kill Taker
  • Impact – Impact
  • Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes Complete – Discs 1&2
  • The Grateful Dead – April 3, 1990
  • The Byrds – Greatest Hits
  • Stevie Wonder – Music of My Mind

Favorite albums of 2014

January 1, 2015

Happy new year!

2014 was filled with fantastic music – reissues of records I already love (perhaps a separate post on those) and an onslaught of new discoveries.

My most favorite record was Khun Narin’s Electric Phin Band – I posted the video to this earlier this year, but here is is again – check ’em out!

Here are the albums I especially loved this past year – I made a link to a Spotify playlist so you can listen to ’em all and let me know what you think – and what your favoites are.

Click here to go to the Spotify list

Here are the favorites, in three separate lists:

Hip-Hop / Rap / R&B

  • Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
  • Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Pinata
  • Young Fathers – Dead
  • D’Angelo – Black Messiah
  • Your Old Droog – Your Old Droog
  • Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  • Neneh Cherry – Blank Project

Rock – Heavier

  • Alvvays – Alvvays
  • White Lung – Deep Fantasy
  • Jack White – Lazaretto
  • Ex Hex – Rips
  • Protomartyr – Under Cover of Official Right
  • Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
  • Ought – More Than Any Other Day
  • Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
  • TV on the Radio – Seeds
  • Strand of Oaks – Heal
  • Oozing Wound – Earth Suck

Rock – Lighter

  • Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers
  • Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
  • Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
  • Real Estate – Atlas
  • Beck – Morning Phrase
  • New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
  • Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather

Best Concerts of 2014

December 12, 2014

It was an outstanding year for music in many ways – and I was lucky enough to see a lot of fantastic shows – here are the ones that stand out, in no order:

– Beck – Pitchfork Festival
– Tune-Yards – Pitchfork Festival
– Deafheaven – Pitchfork Festival
– Arctic Monkeys – Summerfest / Lollapalooza
– Blood Orange – Lollapalooza
– Royal Blood – Lollapalooza
– Parquet Courts – Lollapalooza
– Glen Hansard – Lollapalooza
– Sun Ra Arkestra – Millennium Park
– Television – Riot Fest
– Afghan Whigs – Riot Fest
– White Denim – Smmerfest / Metro
– Neil Young – Chicago Theater
– Jack White – Chicago Theater
– Yo La Tengo – Concord Music Hall / Town Hall (NYC)
– New Pornographers – 9:30 Club (DC)
– Zappa Plays Zappa – House of Blues (Cleveland)
– Yonder Mountain String Band – Stage AE (Pittsburgh)
– Mavis Staples Tribute Concert – Auditorium Theater (highlight was watching her sing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with Greg Allman, Aaron Neville, Taj Mahal, and Bonnie Raitt!)

Wishing I had time to write more

March 26, 2014

I find myself surrounded by topics I’d love to write about, so I’ll at the very least just take a moment to list five:

  1. Within one period in my Senior English class going from a discussion of existentialism and Camus’s The Stranger to many students (and me) trying to buy tickets for Lollapalooza this summer. #got’em!
  2. Listening to the new collection of Miles Davis Live at the Fillmore in 1970 after listening to a Grateful Dead show from that same year earlier today. The powers of musical exploration and experimentation never fail to delight me.
  3. Fruit. There is a gentle simplicity in apples and oranges. I like when people use the term “hand fruit” to refer to fruits eaten while being held in the hand. It makes me think of this fruit, the Buddha’s hand, which is complex and used for fragrance or decoration. Image
  4. I love the collection of short stories by Molly Antopol – The UnAmericans.
  5. I love watching funny videos with my kids – they were cracking up over this one: 

More Grading Week tunes

January 24, 2014

I’m going to try to add in more links to these lists so everyone can play along!

The week of listening (and grading) continued with these selections:

  • Jimmy Herring’s new band is The Ringers. They played a fantastic show last night (2014-01-23) in Atlanta – here’s a link to a stream of it, taped by the one and only Zman:
  • Charles Earland’s Black Talk  
  • Houston Person’s Houston Express  
  • Pamphleteers / Blasted Diplomats split EP  
  • Swell Maps Jane From Occupied Europe  
  • Mind and Matter 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement)
  • Miles Davis / Thelonious Monk Miles & Monk at Newport
  • Acid Mothers Temple In Search of the Lost Divine Arc
  • Fareed Haque Trance Hypothesis

So yes, it has included quite a variety of music and yes, some of it might seem rather hard to grade to, but it’s all just so great. My music room / library / office is a perfect grading space, especially with the wonder of

I really liked the Pamphleteers / Blasted Diplomats split ep – the stream of great rock music being made in Chicago is endless and these are two bands I’d love to see. On a related note I picked up tickets to check out Acid Mothers Temple in May – I’ve never seen them live and have only heard a few of their records. But with the face / mind melting of Divine Arc I’m ready for more. Plus, their appearance on Amoeba music’s “What’s In My Bag?” was outstanding – seeing Kawabata Makoto pick up a Jewish summer camp record because he thought it looked interesting may be the best moment I’ve seen in this whole series.  Check it out:


Still lots of work to do – still lots of music to listen to!