Music Of The Month: November 2021

Sally Anne Morgan Cups

Since I went off on a tangent last month about the Beatles in general, and specifically the new deluxe edition of the Let It Be album, I’m not going to spend a lot of time this month telling you how much I love Peter Jackson’s new Beatles documentary, “Get Back”. Suffice to say that Suzy and I watched the entire 7-hour (8-hour?) series in less than 24 hours, and the first thing Suzy said when we finished was, “I’m going to need to see this again.” Brilliant. It’s streaming on the Disney+ service. If you don’t have that, this is the perfect opportunity to impose on a friend or relative who does.

As far as this month’s record releases go, there were quite a few good ones to pick from. Houndmouth, Curtis Harding, Courtney Barnett, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats all brought us some seriously good music this month. I’m especially fond of Snail Mail’s Valentine. And I imagine it would come as no surprise to anyone reading this if I said my pick of the month was the new offering from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Raise The Roof. Both these records are excellent, and will no doubt be in steady rotation in our playlist.

 But this month’s honors go to Sally Anne Morgan’s new album, Cups. Exceedingly pared-down, spare arrangements of instrumental music. Identifiable as “folk” primarily by way of the chosen instrumentation, each tune has an almost hypnotic effect (in the best possible sense of the phrase). For me, it conjures echoes of Phillip Glass, Michael Hedges, Harry Manx, and perhaps Laurie Anderson in a power outage. Although Morgan has apparently been around for some time, I’m not familiar with any of her previous work. But this album is definitely a keeper. 

Get some music in your ears, everybody!

Music Of The Month: October 2021

Pokey LaFarge In The Blossom Of Their Shade

This month’s pick comes with a couple caveats:

First, October 15 brought us the Beatles’ new Let It Be: Special Edition – Super Deluxe box set. This is, without question, the October ‘21 release I’m going to listen to most over the rest of my life. I know this because it has been, in its previous form(s), one of the records I’ve listened to most over the *past* years of my life. But that’s exactly why it won’t be my pick of the month. Obviously these little reviews I’m doing don’t have any rules other than the ones I decide to set for myself, but I’m disqualifying this box set because, in my mind, the Beatles effectively pose an insurmountable hurdle to comparison. In general, I hate terms like “favorite” and “best” in relation to bands and music; they’re too amorphous to have any meaning. But that said, if I judge any given new release, from any given month, next to any given Beatles album, the Beatles are almost certainly going to win out. It’s just not a level playing field. I’m also disqualifying it because, ya know, it was actually recorded 51 years ago.

The second caveat is that I could literally flip a coin between the other two records I considered this month. 

I’m putting Jackson+Sellers’ Breaking Point in the runner-up position based solely on the fact that at one point in one song it got a little too frenetic for me while I was cooking. That’s right; the only thing I can find wrong with this record is that there are a few seconds on it that are not 100% conducive to following a recipe. So don’t overlook it. It’s a great record. In any room of my house except the kitchen, it might have been my pick of the month. 

Taking all this into consideration, then, Pokey LaFarge takes the honors this month with In The Blossom Of Their Shade. I must admit I’m marginally less enamored with LaFarge as his music has strayed farther and farther from the ‘30s/‘40s sound of his first years. Even so, I’m always eager to hear his next record and I’m never disappointed when I do. The band is always tight, the rhythm is always directly in the pocket, and my head has absolutely no choice other than to bob along with every single tune. Go ahead, I dare you. Try to sit still through this record. You know you can’t.

Get some music in your ears, everybody!