The Monthly RecommNeds: November

The Monthly RecommNeds: November

Hope everyone had a nice Halloween. I’m still recovering from a very busy month and that final weekend, to tell you the truth, so I’m very behind on my listening and a bit late with this month’s picks. I think this batch will be worth the wait, though. I hope you agree.

Just in case you’ve missed any of the last six columns, you can check ‘em out here:

More The Monthly RecommNeds on JamBase

As a reminder, the RecommNeds is a monthly rundown of maybe-not-on-your-radar new music, hopefully with something-for-everyone variety. I’m also putting together a special 25-track playlist each month: songs I’ve been digging, some from the monthly picks, some from albums that weren’t featured, some singles from upcoming releases, and maybe a random blast-from-the-past favorite or two. This month’s playlist is here. Dig it!

Without further ado, here are my latest finds, enjoy!

The Monthly 10:

Ten under-the-radar albums released last month that I think you might dig, presented in alphabetical order.

Eivind Aarset 4-Tet: Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey

Won’t make you wait for it this time; the alphabet is serving up the Eurojams right from the start. This one is a glorious jazz-rock jammer out of Norway courtesy of guitarist Eivind Aarset. His latest is as remarkable for its patience and maturity as it is for its guitar gymnastics and little improvisational surprises. This is some glorious slow-burn from a quartet that clearly knows how to play together. Give this stew some time to simmer in the ear, the flavors will be worth it.

Bitchin Bajas: Switched On Ra

There’s a certain balance to creating a great covers/tribute album — the balance of the source material versus bringing your own voice to the music. That balance can be even more difficult when you’re talking about covering someone like Sun Ra. Bitchin Bajas kind of nail it, though, on their latest. This is a far-out, spaceship voyage of an album, appropriately synth-heavy, hypnotic and psychedelic.

Bremer/McCoy: Natten

Natten is Danish for “night” and don’t Copenhagen duo Bremer/McCoy really find that mood perfectly here. The rainbow of sunset, the misty greys of sunset, the star-specked blackness of nighttime, it’s all in there in piano and bass. Ambient jazz for the sleepy brain or compelling grooves for between stops on an all-nighter. This is instrumental music of the highest order. Say good night and dig in to this one.

Chicos de Nazca: Dreamers

For whatever reason, this month’s crop includes a lot of instrumental music, but if that’s not 100% your thing, don’t fret. The next pick is pure American psychedelic twang-rock, which is interesting because the band — Chicos de Nazca — started in Chile and is now from Berlin, Germany. Despite the origins, they sing in English and they rock that laid-back cosmic sound like they smoked a joint or two and got lost in Laurel Canyon.

Giobia/The Cosmic Dead: The Intergalactic Connection – Exploring the Sideral Remote Hyperspace

Speaking of Eurojams, here’s a killer split album from two of the finest purveyors of that genre. Giobia out of Italy and The Cosmic Dead out of Scotland go halfsies and both deliver the goods. The Italians do their hot-and-heavy thing with pulsing rhythms and spacejam guitar over three killer tracks. The Cosmic Dead, on the other hand, takes things to the psychedelic limits on a nearly 20-minute track of exploratory improvisation and composition. Together, it’s quite a combo, enjoy it!!

Golden Brown: Gems and Minerals

Okay, back on to the (excellent) instrumental music! This is the latest album from Stefan Beck, making music as Golden Brown. Layering guitars, acoustic and electric, with other soothing sounds, Beck’s music pacifies without falling into the trap of getting too sleepy. Gems and Minerals is where simplicity meets complexity, little sonic journeys that go nowhere and everywhere at once. The world is a busy place, take a deep breath and a deep listen to this, it’ll help, trust me.

Muriel Grossmann: Union

How about a little jazz to get you through these shorter days? Austrian saxophonist Muriel Grossmann just put out a must-hear album that mixes the free-flow of spiritual jazz with a hard swing of straight groove. The killer band — featuring guitar, organ and drums — helps maintain that mix, a quartet with the feel of four leaders. This is a special recording, you can feel it from the get-go of track one. Don’t sleep on this one.

Oruã: Íngreme

More off-your-radar excellence from overseas, this time from Brazil. The band is Oruã, and their latest is a masterful mélange of styles and hard-to-describe-ness. Seriously, this one is overflowing with cool ideas, genre-skipping and listen-on-repeat melodies and grooves. The band is equally masterful at creating an addictive one-minute track as stretching things out to seven minutes or more, and all points in between. It’s hard to capture or adequately describe Íngreme, you’ll just have to trust me and listen to it start to finish and see for yourself.

Luarel Premo: Golden Loam

Despite all the great instrumental music so far this month, haven’t gotten that true solo guitar record in yet. But you knew it was coming and you knew it’d be spectacular. Yes, Golden Loam from Michigan guitarist Laurel Premo is rather wonderful, a set of mostly traditional music, with some originals mixed in, played on guitar and lap steel. Premo’s instrument finds the emotional root of each piece and brings it to the forefront with love and care. This is an exceptional album.

Alvaro Rojas: Moondog

To close things out this month, here’s a second cover album paying tribute to another one-of-a-kind composer. On this one, British Columbian guitarist Alvaro Rojas does master of the avant garde, Moondog, justice with eight covers and one in-tribute original. A tabla joins Rojas on several tracks, adding a bit of otherworldly rhythms, but otherwise it is just layers of guitar finding beauty and poetry in the music.

Bonus Round

In addition to the Monthly 10, I’ll try to throw in a few other picks each month.

In addition to the Monthly Ten, I’ll try to throw in a few other picks each month:

For my live pick this week, I’ve got some more jazz-centric for you, check out the latest solo offering from pianist Craig Taborn, some really special stuff here.

Didn’t get too much Americana/folk/roots music into this week’s batch, so for this week’s EP recommendations, go with the roots rock of Chris Roberts and the split offering of experimental folk from Shovel Dance Collective and C Joynes.

And finally, five more recommendations that may not be on your radar but are well worth a listen, presented without comment: Sam Evian, Mary Lattimore, Shannon Lay, Marissa Nadler, Tonstartssbandht … what other good ones did I miss this month?

I think that’ll do, more next month.

Please note: all of the music mentioned in this column can be found in this November compilation playlist on Spotify. I’ll also keep up this running playlist with all the recommendations from 2021 so they’re all in one place for easy new music discovery at any time.