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6 New Albums Your Corporate Algorithm Won't Tell You About
You won’t hear any of this music on the radio or the approved corporate playlists. That’s the first thing in its favor.
But hearing is believing. Each of these new albums comes highly recommended from the Honest Broker, and in aggregate the tracks prove that you can disrupt the algorithmic hegemony and have fun at the same time.
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Pastor Champion: I Just Want to Be a Good Man
Raw Gospel from an Itinerant Preacher
You think you know about gospel music? If you’re imagining sweet-faced singers offering up the good news in heavenly voices, think again. Pastor Champion is nothing like that—there’s more anguish than the angelic on these tracks. Even so, I would predict grand success for this intensely passionate artist, except that Pastor Champion (1946-2021) died before the release, a few weeks ago, of his first album I Just Want to Be a Good Man. I’m hoping he’s in a better place now, but certainly we are with this powerful reminder that gospel songs were the original soul music.
Carolina Eyck: Thetis 2086
Music for Theremin, Voice, and Electronics
Okay, I didn’t really expect to recommend a recording of “Claire de Lune”—not now, not tomorrow, not ever. Then I heard Carolina Eyck play Debussy’s tribute to moonlight in 9/8 time on the theremin, an electronic instrument that first made its mark in horror film soundtracks. I was chastened by what she achieved, and then listened to it all over again. But that’s just part of her mind-expanding album, which is filled with surprises from start to finish.
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: Live in Loveland
I featured I Told You So from the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio on my ‘best of year’ album list for 2021, but now the band is back again, just a few months later, with an outstanding live organ donation. Their music is sometimes classified as jazz, but if this album were a pharmaceutical the label would read: “Active Ingredient: Undiluted Funk.” By any measure, there’s more Booker T than bebop in these grooves. But whatever you call it, Live in Loveland will not disappoint.
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet: Opalescent
Genre-Busting Contemporary Chamber Music for Four Guitars
When you hear the word chamber music, do you think of four guitarists in SoCal? Well, that’s the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet for you—or LAGQ, as they sometimes call themselves. Don’t be fooled by the acronym, which sounds like some kind of Hollywood fashion rag. The quartet’s repertoire is even most disruptive than the instrumentation—if you hear the LAGQ in concert, you might get treated to Count Basie grooves or a Macedonian folk song or something called “Labyrinth on a Theme of Led Zeppelin.” I assumed it would be impossible to top their recent collaboration with Pat Metheny, but this album is another winner.
Jon Balke and Siwan: Hafla
Eleventh Century Andalusian Texts Set to Electronica and Jazz Accompaniment
You could make a strong case that the medieval Iberian peninsula was the birthplace of world fusion music and the Western love song. There was no more diverse center of musical activity in the whole world back then—with African, Arabic, Islamic, Jewish, and European ingredients all mixing and matching. You couldn’t find more passionate or path-breaking songs in those days, although few music history books recognize that fact, ignoring Spain in favor of the French nobles who stole their stuff. Norwegian pianist Jon Balke, joined by a cross-cultural cast of musicians, recaptures the spirit of the medieval Andalusian revolution in modern electrified form on this beguiling new album.
Steve Poltz: Stardust and Satellites
Funny, Brash, Narrative-Driven Contemporary Folk Music
If you dig into the history of folk music you discover that it all started as a way of telling stories. Go check out the surviving folk ballads from hundreds of years ago (especially the so-called Child Ballads), and you will discover that they are character-driven narratives, complete with dialogue and interesting plot twists. Steve Poltz is not a traditional folk singer, and he stops short of longform storytelling, but he uses his music to create dramatic scenes with comedic elements.
She was into Kierkegaard
And I was sitting in her yard
And we were talking all about a leap of faith.
She put on some Shostakovich
But her humming was so out of pitch
Just like a piece of metal on a spinning lathe….
No, you won’t hear that on the radio.
Poltz has an interesting back story—if I understand it correctly, he has lived in Nova Scotia, San Diego, and Nashville, among other locales. Allegedly he tells every audience: “This is the best show I’ve ever played.” And maybe it is.