I met Scott a few months back at a panel discussion with two other DJ types about music curation. Through his company Uncanned Music, which makes Chicago's hippest restaurants sound as good as they taste and look, Scottie has devoted a LOT of time to this idea. (Check out my interview with him!) In addition to this work, he's deeply involved in promoting great Chicago jazz, and has put together the great Chicago Overground series, featuring three artists (Matt Ulery, Rob Mazurek, and Makaya McCraven) at three cool unusual venues (Hyde Park's Plein Air Cafe, Logan Square's Comfort Station, and the traffic island in The Polish Triangle). He also regularly DJs, and puts together music nights at several restaurants/bars. For me, talking to Scott about music is kind of what I imagine it's like for friends of mine who have very little time to spend on music to talk to me. In short, he just knows way, way, way more. Thankfully, he's a genuinely down-to-earth and generous dude, who literally devotes his life to making sure we all hear great music. The next time you're in a Chicago restaurant and feel like the music is better than usual, you probably have Scott and his partners to thank. You can get a deep behind-the-scenes understanding of all he does in my recent interview. Follow him @UNCANNEDmusic on the Twitter, and learn more about what he does at uncannedmusic.com. If you're in Logan Square tomorrow night (Tuesday July 15) check out Rob Mazurek with Jeff Parker at Comfort Station. The great list starts below with his email to me.
"Okokokok - here's a lil list for ya - it was actually really refreshing to build this - since I am constantly having to build concept-oriented lists with specific trajectories, it's been forever since I just made a list that is simply 'some favorites from recently released albums' - nothing too themed or directed or boxed in - just a handful of tunes from artists who've been sounding really good to me. The only constraint I gave myself was 'new music released in 2014' - I hope this works for your purposes! Here we go:"
Chicago Underground Duo – Boss - Rob Mazurek & Chad Taylor came back this year with another ballistic duo concoction, again engineered by John McEntire at Soma in Chicago, again beating the pants off of most things in existence. Makes me (and many) very happy that these 2 are keeping an 18 year tradition alive by continuing to create together and push the Chicago post-rock agenda further.
Neneh Cherry – Blank Project - Her first solo album since 1996, doesn't quite touch The Cherry Thing, which was a monster of a record (collabo w/ European noise jazz group The Thing, release a couple years ago), but is one helluva a neo no wave cyber punk reviving banger.
Fatima – Ridin' Round (Sky High) - One of the recent pinnacles of London's ever prevalent futuro R&B sound, this whole record is smooth and psychedelic, just the way I like my soul tunes, heady as hell.
Georgia Anne Muldrow – Larva - Los Angeles bred Sa-Ra partner slash intergalactic traveller gets more and more lo fi with every release, a welcome and unique evolution of her soul jazz rooted sound.
Kemialliset Ystävät – Alempana Kuin Enkelit - Finnish "Chemical Friends" make utterly uncategorizable music with a dizzying array of melodic sounds; glitchy and jazzy and endlessly progressive.
Diggs Duke – Chalumeau - Diggs put out an excellent EP on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label last year - it was a finely produced batch of borderline-mainstream, catchy jazz-founded R&B tunes, hence a forward-leaning layered clarinet recording was a highly unpredictable follow up. I love unpredictable artists.
Andrew Ashong – Never Dreamed - Speaking of Gilles Peterson, my favorite British influencer had been championing music by Ghanian soul singer Andrew Ashong for a min, and this new EP is an excellent punctuation on such worthwhile praise. Super silky slow strutting space grooves. Love this recording.
Mo Kolours – Mike Black - Super nice sounds from half-Mauritian half-English beat producer, exploring traditional Mauritian Sega drum rhythms through the lense of a British electronicist.
Jeremiah Jae – Survival (feat. Oliver the 2nd) - One of my favorite Chicago rapper/producers (Jae) releases this excellent single on one of my favorite British labels (Warp).
Young Fathers – Get Up - Surprisingly amazing left field hip hop coming from Scotland of all places. Dead is an excellent debut for this trio.
Damaged Bug – Ss Cassinidea - The ever prolific John Dwyer, head master of Thee Oh Sees and the SF garage explosion, explores Silver Apples territory with a solo experiment called Damaged Bug. Super groovy nightmare shit.
Morgan Delt – Barbarian Kings - Another excellent release from Chicago's Trouble In Mind Records, Barbarian Kings is a dense acid soaked spacer that at first drop sounds like a crunchy Siamese psych 45.
Dub Thompson – No Time - Still trying to decide whether these California cats are a garage punk duo or a pair of underground disco DJs. The confusion perfectly suits a schizophrenic music appreciator such as myself.
Ava Luna – Sear Roebuck M&Ms - Like a punkier Tune Yards. Been enjoying this group since their last album Ice Level. Love the prog, love the modulation between smooth R&B beats and punky guitar assaults.
Ibibio Sound Machine – Uwa the Peacock - Eki Ko Inuen Uwa - Fun party music from a London collective doing West African disco grooves with catchy chants, horn lines and tribal pulses.
Meridian Brothers – Salvadora Robot - Super freaky jams from Bogota bros, bringing to mind the vintage psychedelic Chicha sounds that I love so dearly.
Alsarah & The Nubatones – Habibi Taal - One of my favorite records last year was a collaboration by Sudanese-born singer Alsarah and French producer Debruit, so it is most excellent to hear her again this year, this time in front of more organic instrumental sounds from The Nubatones.
Toumani Diabaté – Hamadoun Toure- Gorgeous, triumphant plucked harp tones from a duo of West African Kora masters. Great rise and shine vibes.
Zara McFarlane – Open Heart - Nice melodic steel pulses in this dark soul ballad from Jamaican-born jazz vocalist Zara McFarlane, the opening track on her new record, which was released by (you guessed it) Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings. Over and out.