Jackson’s Favorite Songs of 2014 (RUMBLE)

In 2014, that media dam holding everything back cracked at its very foundation, and sounds of all forms and sizes and orientations came gushing out from every direction. It was a milestone year for pop, both traditional and experimental as Taylor Swift viciously thwarted off haters with Kanye West level confidence and craft all while Kane West and PC Music reduced what was left into a sonic stuffed sock aimed at our aural genitalia. Also, amidst all of this sonic detritus, emerged artists that have been crawling there all along, waiting for just this kind catastrophic, boundary shattering event from … Read More

José James – No Beginning No End

  José James is a master interior designer and No Beginning No End is a perfectly functional lounge room. It’s minimal in design, though its pieces range in size and shape; it’s decidedly not an Ikea set piece, it is more lived-in than that. And that’s about where my critique of James’ fourth full length record via a cliché design metaphor ends (for now at least). No Beginning No End reminds me of a lot of stuff that I love: D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah Part One (4th World War), Common’s Like Water for Chocolate, Wu-Tang Clan’s 8 Diagrams. … Read More

Beat Odds & Frayed Ends: Overlooked Experimental Records of 2013

Hello Free Spacers(?). It’s been awhile, I know. I have been hella busy. My last year of college has been more stressful than my first three years COMBINED. Now that my senior thesis is bound and submitted however, I am ready for a new year of music! If you haven’t already checked it out, my Favorite 10 Albums of 2013 list is up on this site! You can check it out here. You can also check out my Favorite 50 Albums of 2013 on rateyourmusic here. In this issue of Free Space, I would like to highlight some experimental records … Read More

Free Space: Experimental Highlights 2013 Part II

Last issue on Free Space, I introduced my column as “a space in which we can freely examine our relationship with our favorite thing: music.” I then featured three records that challenge conventional definitions of music with beauteous results. One of these records, Dan Friel’s Total Folklore, explores how harsh industrial noise can be intensely melodic and hummable; two of these records—Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light and Haino/O’Rourke/Ambarchi’s Now While it’s Still Warm Let Us Pour in All the Mystery—demonstrate how process and performance can actively affect how we make sense of sound and … Read More

Free Space: Experimental Highlights 2013

  Every once in a while, I ask myself as a critic if this analytical approach I employ when I interact with “sound” distracts from what makes “music” so much fun. Sure, a critical approach requires and, more importantly, allows for an open mind. Yet what, if any, benefits come as a result of rigorous open-mindedness? At what point does open-mindedness become empty-mindedness? Conversely, does an expansive palate actually help negotiate taste or does it politicize simplicity? These issues perpetually pop up into my head when I write reviews and features or even just recommend music. As a fanatic of … Read More