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Playlist for finals week – Part 2

January 23, 2013

I love having time to do some good listening while reading through essays, finishing up the semester, and getting ready for the next one.  I’ve been trying to work my way through a bunch of titles I’ve heard a bit of but haven’t devoted a concentrated listen to just yet.  As usual, my conclusion is a refrain I constantly invoke: too much great music, too little time…

1- Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

  • So I first heard of these guys as they were setting up for an in-store at the fabulous Grimey’s record store in Nashville a few weeks ago.  Their record was also featured by the excellent Permanent Records here in Chicago in their weekly e-mail, so I knew I was in for quality tunes.  This is a solid record all the way through, touching down in a variety of camps in the indie-rock universe.  Throw in some funky time signatures and a good measure of intense rock-n-roll grind and it makes for a winning combination.  See – I got through the whole comment without using the word punk.

2- Merchandise – Children of Desire

  • Ok, so not mentioning punk is gonna be harder here, but this batch of poppy tunes (is that really the best word for it?) kept surprising me over the course of the record.  It was one of those “wait – what am I listening to?” moments where I look down and it’s still the same band.  There’s some organ going on here and I really dig the vocals and I’m hoping Merchandise shows up as one of those 2 p.m. bands at Lollapalooza this year.

3- Grateful Dead – 1972-04-08; Wembley Empire Pool, London, England

  • This full set from the staggeringly fantastic Europe 1972 complete box (trunk?) set was perfect for an extended co-grading session.  My co-teacher and I have a tradition of listening to full shows while we read essays and it’s always fun to see how the progression of a set list matches our experience.  The set starts with a quick “Bertha” and “Me and My Uncle” pair which got us rolling.  An hour or so later when Donna’s vocals screamed out of “Playin’ in the Band” it elicited an “oh, she’s on this one?” but I think that was the last we heard from her.  When I was reading a particularly odd and disjointed essay I realized we were in a similar-sounding section of “Dark Star” and let’s just say the  Dead did a much better job working their way out of it than this particular student.

4- Blo – Chapters and Phases: The Complete Albums 1973 to 1975

  • Yet another amazing Dusty Groove discovery!  This monster set of African grooves from the mid-70’s puts many jam bands to shame with hypnotic rhythms and killer percussion that’s by turns funk, dub, and rock.  The tunes are all pretty tight – not the extended Fela-style music I was ready for here.  This powered me through a late afternoon (and a venti of freshly-brewed Sumatra helped out too!)

5- John Carter & Bobby Bradford – Tandem 2

  • Free jazz from two masters – a cd of coronet and clarinet duets wandering through the outer reaches, filled with surprises.  Sometimes the beat keeps me going, but when you pull a rhythm section away from a jazz combo and just let the others go exploring, it can be just as engrossing as these recordings.

6- The Rojac Story: The Best of Rojac and Tay-ster

  • A stellar collection of funk-soul-r&b tunes from the Harlem scene of the 60’s and 70’s.  This set is a visit through a set of 45’s released by these legendary labels.  The booklet with it is like a little history lesson, and when one of the featured bands is Damn Sam The Miracle Man And The Soul Congregation, how can you go wrong?
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