Lovely Recordings Hosted by Darren Henley (Part 2)

Was 2016 a good year for music? I dunno...I think so. While I did attempt to stay plugged in, it's just too much. Not sure if it was a good year for music in general. For me, the musical output far out-shined most other developments of the past 12 months.

It was a year of discovery—of records new and old—and, getting back to some old habits. I also reached outside my wheelhouse with the help of an old friend. Digging deep into music again has been fantastic. Adding Roon to my music software in 2015 and integrating it with Tidal kicked the doors down, and let in a flood of music.

I've heard too much to list it all here, so I'm limiting myself to 10 records released in 2016 (**one cheater) that have stuck with me.

I hope you discover something you’ve not yet heard! And, that your Holidays are full of music, family and friends.

Kirk Knuffke: Arms & Hands** (Royal Potato Family, 2015)
Knuffke, a NYC-based improviser who has gained recognition as both a leader and sideman, leads this trio recording. The record swings between more traditional tunes, avante and outer bits. It's this balance overall that appeals to me. The rhythm section is made up of two legends—Mark Helias on bass and drummer Bill Goodwin. The recording is intimate and natural—sounds superb. I know this was a 2015 release, but it has had more play in my house this year than any other record.

Available from Tidal

Nothing: Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse Records, 2016)
Nothing delivers a sort of heavy shoegaze, with dreamy vocal treatments over pounding rhythms. I dig this record, though I may not connect with the lyric content much of the time. It's refreshing to hear this music against the backdrop of current mainstream trends. Look forward to hearing more from the band. I saw them live recently, and two things stood out: 1. LOUD. Like pants flapping loud. 2. They looked bored. Disappointing, that last part.

Available from Tidal

Durand Jones & the Indications (Colemine Records, 2016)
Durand Jones. Dang. Think Otis and Sam for the new generation. This soul record needs to be heard. Recorded live in a basement studio, I think.

Available from Tidal

Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Evil in Oslo (Rune Grammofon, 2016)
Norwegian instrumental rock/jazz trio. Tunes range (and wander) from heavy, crusty riffing to atmospheric free sections. This live recording is decent, though bass guitar is buried a bit in the mix. Still, I dig these extended jams.

Available from Tidal

Shearwater: Jet Plane & Oxbow (Sub Pop, 2016)
I admit, I turned my nose up the first time I heard the latest record from Shearwater. I do love the older records (Rook, The Golden Archipelago), and I'm sorry to say the 80's production/tone turned me off. Well, that was a mistake—as it usually is to judge without first gaining some understanding. This past month I returned to the record, and wow. Reminiscent of older Peter Gabriel at times. The songs are more concise and direct than on prior releases. Focused and intense.

Available from Tidal

Brad Mehldau: Blues and Ballads (Nonesuch, 2016)
Mehldau returns with his established trio – Grenadier and Ballard - for one hell of a record. This one is in regular rotation around here.

Available from Tidal

Mannequin Pussy: Romantic (Tiny Engines, 2016)
I just found this record—thanks to Michael!—and, I am digging it. A LOT. A punkrock/pop/shoegaze blend in short, catchy bursts of raucous noise.

Available from Tidal

Klangstof: Close Eyes to Exit (Mind of a Genius, 2016)
Another Norwegian entry—Klangstof is a pop/rock band making well-crafted atmospheric tunes reminiscent of the more glacial Radiohead tunes (with a bit more bounce and warmth though), among others. That said, they've a sound of their own, and I look forward to more music from the band.

Available from Tidal

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Otis Was a Polar Bear (Royal Potato Family, 2016)
Energetic and adventurous improvised music written by drummer Allison Miller, and supported by an excellent cast of players, among them Kirk Knuffke. Royal Potato Family has become a favorite label of mine—several new records from them this year that I dig—and, mostly improvised music.

Available from Tidal

Colin Stetson: Sorrow (52hz, 2016)
This is stark, and textured and challenging. That's why. Stetson has become well known for his mastery and technique as a woodwind player and innovation as a composer. Here, he re-imagines Gorecki's Symphony No.3, with keyboards, guitar and drums. It's interesting, and I appreciate his efforts, in general. Not everyday listening, perhaps.

Available from Tidal

I’ll skip the bio this time, aside from saying I’m a music lover and fan of the site! That's me filling in on drums for the Jon Rauhouse Orchestra last year.

See Darren's other Lovely Recordings.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

lestes's picture

some really fresh albums here for me. Thanks for sharing.

jond's picture

Already a fan of Kirk Knuffke so excited to check out a few others!

EliaGar's picture

Wow - I've not heard Knuffke before - what a wonderful find for the new year. Looking forward to sampling the rest of your picks, thanks!