The iPhone Blues: April 22nd

Wherein I load 7 albums on my iPhone, listen to them for a week, and write something about each record.


Artist: Alice Coltrane

Album: Journey in Satchidananda

Comments: A meditation on life and death. Pharaoh Saunders. Harp. Om. A deep record, you should listen to it late at night.


Artist: Brian Eno

Album: Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

Comments: Art-punk before punk existed, Eno used a deck of cards called Oblique Strategies to mimick the randomizing effect of the I Ching. The results are weird, moving and incredibly influential. Repetition is a form of change.


Artist: Dr. John

Album: The Sun, Moon and Herbs

Comments: Gris Gris. Voodoo. Funk. Death and magic lurking everywhere. A criminally underrated Dr. John record. Zu Zu Mamou might be the most terrifying thing ever, in a very good way.


Artist: James Blake

Album: Overgrown

Comments: No one else sounds like James Blake. You can trace his influences–Burial, R&B, Gospel–but Blake somehow blends them into something way more interesting than “spot the influences.” Overgrown is close to a perfect album. It has 9 songs that are basically a window into Blake’s bittersweet head-space. But (and this is a big but) Overgrown is marred by the absolutely horrendous RZA collaboration “Take a Fall for Me.” It is hard to over-state how terrible this song is. It weighs down Overgrown like sack of rotting potatoes, damning the entire record. Deleting it from iTunes doesn’t help either, because you still know it exists.


Artist: STS 9

Album: NYE.ATL.08

Comments: I like STS9 a lot but this record is missing something. It’s culled from a New Year’s Eve run, but it lacks the narrative of a good STS 9 show. I highly recommend downloading an STS9 show from either the band’s website or


Artist: Stuart Duncan, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma

Album: The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Comments: Since leaving pop bluegrass favorites Nickel Creek, Chris Thile has been concocting a strange fusion of Bluegrass and Classical Music with his band the Punch Brothers. The Punch Brothers records are close to good, but show their seems a little bit too much. The Goat Rodeo Sessions, however, represents a seamless blending of the American Folk tradition and Baroque romanticism. This is a great a record for a Sunday afternoon if you have a very, very intellectual front porch to sit on.


Artist: Tom Waits

Album: Glitter and Doom (Live)

Comments: It turns out a circa 2009 Tom Waits show is basically a freaked-out, lysergic blues revival carnival. The band is super tight and Waits is “in good voice.”  This is definitely not a “greatest hits live!” album, it’s like a post-card from the road. If you like Tom Waits, you’ll like Glitter and Doom. If you aren’t sure, this probably won’t help you make up your mind.


1 Comment

Filed under China, Listening Project, Music

One response to “The iPhone Blues: April 22nd

  1. probably my favorite solo Eno album from the 70s. warm jets is a lot more wild, but i really like the loose concept around tiger mountain; mother whale eyeless is one of the best songs i’ve ever heard.

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