Over at my new site, Off the Tracks, I have a regular feature Five Albums I'm Loving Right Now. A couple of times a week I get a writer or musician - or someone involved in the arts in some way - to write a guest post offering up five albums that they're loving right at that moment.
It's been fun - and interesting. It's a good way of learning about new (and old) music, a way to refresh and remind. And there are no right or wrong answers - it could be all old, music from the past that still sounds fresh and vital. Or it could be all brand new, music from the past few weeks. It depends on who is writing the post too - a music reviewer might have access to brand new things; a writer or artist might talk about the music they listen to when working. And this could be older titles rather than the latest raves.
I thought for today we could have a go here - I'll mention five albums I'm listening to a lot right at this moment; albums I'm loving. Then you can do the same. We get to share recommendations - share the love, as it were...
1. Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes - as I said here, for some reason the advance-listening copies are all one track and this album feels right as one big sprawl, one 45-minute track that dips and sprawls and wafts and weaves. Flying Lotus has an impeccable track-record (and set of records) and here he adds to that, expanding the role too of instrumental hip-hop and dance music, of the producer/DJ behind the grooves and beats. It might not be as instantly mind-bending as previous Lotus offerings but it's one for the long game, repeat plays, it sinks in with time.
2. Dudley Benson, Live Series Volume One - I have just caught up with this recently (released end of last year). I loved both of the Dudley Benson albums and this collects the live versions (from the respective tours). I think he's a gem, one of the truly original/unique Kiwi artists.
3. Max Richter, Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, Four Seasons - this is brand new to me but I have heard some of Max Richter's soundtrack compositions and his albums of original material. Here he has reworked Vivaldi's Four Seasons - breathing new life into an old piece, a piece - or series of pieces - that has been played-out to the point of cliché. Here, woven in and around Richter's own textures and ideas the work breathes life anew. It's (doubly) stunning.
4. Menahan Street Band, The Crossing - I've also been listening to this a lot lately, and wrote about it here. It's the second all-instrumental offering from a band that has played behind some great singers, helping them to sound really great. The opening, title track is a nice indication of what the album has to offer but there are plenty of surprises along the way, it doesn't just stay in a slow-burn funk/soul groove. There are flashes of sun-scorched soundtrack ideas and the cool-charm of David Axelrod too. I like it.
5. Harry Nilsson, A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night - wrote about this for my Vinyl Countdown blog after picking up the LP last Friday. Previously I'd had the CD but buying the record has had me back in love with this album. The gold standard for albums of standards - long before they became the cash-grab thing to do, phoned in and feeling lazy. This album showcases Nilsson the singer. He was a great writer too of course - but this shows his deep love and understanding of some great songs. And the arrangements are beautiful.
So - that's how we play. If you check Off the Tracks you'll find plenty of interesting selections from interesting people - and there's more to come. But for today I thought we could all have a go at sharing five right here right now. So what are five albums you've been loving lately?
Recently I offered a chance (again) to Write This Blog. And I have yet to announce the winners. So I must fix that and I will fix that right now.
I said that I would get readers to help by offering the thumbs-up to suggestions they liked. So with that in mind the five winners for the Summer Edition of Write This Blog are, in no particular order: Nick Braae (to write about the power ballad), Caffeinated99 (to write about big-screen concert films), Joe The Boxer (to write about irony in music), ZootAlmighty (to write about when radio stopped becoming a powerful medium for discovering new music) and M0rph3us (to write about Nirvana being overrated).
I said I would choose a wildcard too - and I'm going with I'm An Alligator (to explain a bit about what a music blog is and how it differs from reviews and to dispel the idea that a reviewer is there to promote bands/artists).
So - apologies for my tardiness in alerting the winners, I do want you all to Right This Blog! I want to see some great guest posts and I know other readers want to see these posts too because these topics are the ones that received the most votes. You need to email me: my name, with a dot in the middle, @xtra.co.nz and I need your copy by this time next week.
You can keep up with Blog on the Tracks on Facebook and follow on Twitter. You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts...Off the Tracks is back on track.