Tom Ewing

19
Mar 19

Album-A-Day #7: To The Finland Station

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

This instalment’s LPs:

#42 Ruusut – Ruusut (2018)
#43 Bbymutha – The Bastard Tape, Vol 1 (2018)
#44 Hama – Houmeissa (2019)
#45 Hauschka – A Different Forest (2019)
#46 Onyx Collective – Lower East Suite Parts 1-3 (2017-8)
#47 Silk Road Assassins – State Of Ruin (2019)
#48 Queen Latifah – All Hail The Queen (1989)

I listen to quite a lot of Finnish music. Why did I start doing this? I couldn’t tell you. I like Finland, certainly, its temperature, its mordancy, its taciturn people, neither overly friendly nor hostile. Perhaps it’s just a Moomin thing. I have come to very much enjoy how the Finnish language – famously knotty to learn – sounds, with all its soft vowels and sibilants. But since I don’t understand any, that might just be habit.

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5
Mar 19

Album-A-Day #6: Twilight Of The Dads

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

This instalment’s LPs:

#35 Sylvester – Step II (1979)
#36 Yusef Lateef – Psychicemotus (1966)
#37 James Ingram – It’s Your Night (1983)
#38 Julie London – Julie Is Her Name (1955)
#39 Isao Tomita – Kosmos (1978)
#40 Various Artists – A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper (2018)
#41 Zadig The Jasp – In The Reflect Of The Sky (2018)

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15
Feb 19

Album-A-Day #5: Tarkus In Black Vinyl, Please

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

Here’s what I listened to for this edition:

#28: Deena Abdelwahed – Khonnar (2018)
#29: Trevor Horn – Trevor Horn Reimagines The Eighties (2019)
#30: Drebae – Babyboy (2018)
#31: Shmu – Lead Me To The Glow (2018)
#32: Nadia Struiwigh – WHRRu (2018)
#33: Busted – Half Way There (2019)
#34: Half Man Half Biscuit – No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin Hedge Cut (2018)

Let’s move through these from the abstract to the definite. One thing these listening projects have taught me is how many excellent female electronic producers there are working now. When I first listened to and read about dance music they were rare, or presented to us as rare. A novelty-hungry algorithm is better at bringing them to light than curators are – same goes for rappers, I suspect.

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3
Feb 19

Album-A-Day #4: A Postcard From Dead Charn

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get framing content and non-music miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here.

Here’s what I listened to for this edition:

#20 The B-52s – The B-52s (1979)
#21 Art Taylor – A.T.’s Delight (1960)
#22 Madeline Kenney – Perfect Shapes (2018)
#23 Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life (2019)
#24 James Ferraro – Four Pieces For Mirai (2018)
#25 Dawn Richard – new breed (2019)
#26 Barmy Army – The English Disease (1989)
#27 Shinichi Atobe – Heat (2018
)

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29
Jan 19

Album-A-Day #3: Dwellers Under The Stove

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get intros and miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here. A fine arrangement!

This week’s new to me LPs:

#13: Laura Nyro – Eli And The Thirteenth Confession (1968)
#14: Space Africa – Somewhere Decent To Live (2018)
#15: Dexter Gordon – Go! (1962)
#16: Junglepussy – JP3 (2018)
#17: Helena Hauff – Qualm (2018)
#18: Jackie McLean – Capuchin Swing (1960)
#19: Main Source – Breaking Atoms (1991)

Where and when you listen to new music is a critical variable in this sort of project. It could never be a set of balanced or considered reviews, because then what about a week like this? One where music was pushed to the crepuscular margins, listened to (for the most part) at low volume, late at night, aiming for the right balance between immersive and inobtrusive.

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21
Jan 19

Album-A-Day 2019 #2: Hello Pork Pie Hat

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get intros and miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here. A fine arrangement!

This week’s new-to-me LPs:

#6: Ariana Grande – Sweetener (2018)
#7: Rico Nasty – Nasty (2018)
#8: Lester Young – Blue Lester (compilation; 1956 according to Spotify…)
#9: Oliver Coates – Shelley’s On Zenn-La (2018)
#10: Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (2018)
#11: Noname – Room 25 (2018)
#12: Oliver Nelson – Skull Session (1975)

Mostly catching up on new records, but the most important listening I did all week was on Tuesday night, after a battering day on professional and personal fronts, when I put on Lester Young’s Blue Lester compilation. It was exactly what I needed – one of those precious moments when the music you reach for and the mood you’re in match precisely, without you even realising they would. The languid sax lines, nosing around familiar tunes, wandering out into unfamiliar ones, had a remarkably powerful effect on me. “Take it easy”, the music seemed to say, “You can cope. It’s going to be OK.” I fell asleep to it.

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13
Jan 19

Album A Day 2019 #1: What Big Teeth

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This is a document of my album-a-day listening project. Each entry originally comes out as a tinyletter and subscribers to that get intros and miscellanea as well as the LP reviews. When a new letter goes out, the previous letter goes up here. A fine arrangement!

Days 1-5:

#1 Kelly Moran – Ultraviolet
#2 Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
#3 Antoine Kogut – Sphere Of Existence
#4 Stefflon Don – SECURE
#5 Cab Calloway – Hi De Ho Man: Classic Cab Calloway

Starting when the year starts means – inevitably – actually new releases are thin on the ground. I fell off the promo email lists of all but the most GDPR-defiant PR people a long time ago and there’s no virtual pile of envelopes on the doormat to get me started.

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3
Jan 19

Popular Crystal Ball: 2018 – Gotta Get Down On Friday

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By annual tradition, my rankings – best to worst – of the year’s UK number one hits, with initial thoughts – very initial, I’d heard only one of these before last week and it wasn’t Ariana. Again, I didn’t adore any of these tracks, and perhaps quite liking is the best I can hope for. Pop has been good to me, after all,

I feel like this year acts have learned the ins and outs of the streaming game – none more than Drake – and turnover has settled down. The dominance of Spotify – and its editorial clout – still seems like a problem, and more fundamentally there’s no sense that the charts have any kind of niche in cultural life any more. But in terms of accurately reflecting what a lot of people are listening to… yes, here they are.

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1
Jan 19

Twenty Eighteen, A List (i)

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This list was inspired by Brad Nelson in another place, and their excellent idea of just smushing together the things which stood out in 2018 regardless of media or format or whatever else. In practice the list is distressingly limited in scope. It’s been a weird year, a year when time got away from me – a combination of sudden leaps forward in my work life and huge challenges as a parent and a human being. My will to express myself atrophied. Of course I have regrets about that. But culture can be a comfort as well as a challenge, and that’s what I needed last year.

But last year is over. I’m starting up my album-a-day project again, to be mainly documented on a new Tinyletter I’m setting up, which will have brief notes on those and on other things I bump into. You can subscribe to that at https://tinyletter.com/tomewing if you like.

Here are some bits of flotsam from 2018, in the order they occurred to me.

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29
Dec 18

ATOMIC KITTEN – “The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)”

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#935, 7th September 2002

Sometimes when this project stalls it’s because there’s a song too tricky or terrible to write about. You might think that’s the case here: it’s not. “The Tide Is High (Got The Feeling)” is indeed terrible, but its wretchedness is banal, readily apparent. There’s nothing here to get your head around: it’s a bad cover version, in an era of bad cover versions, performed mechanically by a band whose character was deliberately bleached out of them when success hit. There’s no long term plan, no devilishly clever marketing scheme – in fact the marketing is as transparent as the rest of the record.

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