A Week in Spins, vol. 2

Rainy NYC Saturday weekly post that skipped a week. This set’s theme: Feeling 6 decades time in 6 days, in the good way.


People Under The Stairs “O.S.T.” (2002) was Thes One and Double K’s 3rd release, & one of my fav 2000s spins in any style. Over a master class in sampling, a surgical economy of rhyme here creates negative space that also flows. Not sure I understood the continuum of hip-hop until I heard this record. A perfect duo. RIP Double K (d. Jan 2021).

My father-in-law Steve is a brilliant jazz pianist, who formed a Big Band in Chicago, and has an insane jazz record collection (approx 200 Ellington records alone, fwiw). My last few trips to visit, we’ve driven from NYC, and he allowed me to squirrel a couple dozen LPs or so back east. Had never heard of fabled trombonist Bob Brookmeyer or this trombone-led samba record from 1962 when I pulled it out of the stacks, but if I see Verve and samba on the same spine, I will never hesitate. Also Jim Hall and Lalo Schiffrin weave their way in and out of this 28 minute gem. Out of print, but not off of line:

My mother grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. In the 70s and 80s, I spent around a month a year there until the mid-80s, when oil market crashes crashed Venezuela’s economy. With looming health problems and scores of friends getting out of Dodge, my grandparents decamped to Florida. I haven’t been back to Caracas since, but the place is threaded through my childhood

Venezuela 70, a collection of 1970s Venezuelan prog, psych, acid-Jazz, and rock washes over you like a plasma transmission through space and time.

When it’s done, though, it leaves the feeling of abrupt termination, the musical equivalent of a line bisecting the dirt in an archaeological dig that signals a mass extinction event. A cosmic transmission, indeed.

Another gem I nicked from my father-in-law Steve’s collection. Released in 1967, it’s a small chronicle of Howling Wolf’s Chess Records recordings from 1953-1956. This record’s unprocessed but not raw, a nice black & blue steak. In Howling Wolf, there’s everything that’s been there all along, and then all that can never be taken or silenced.

Mitski’s 2018 record Be The Cowboy found its way to me in 2021. I was in Lowell, MA, and the record sync’ed with all echoes of Kerouac there. The sheer number of shifting sounds and textures kept me coming back. Musically, she’s a cipher who takes on persona after persona, leapfrogging style on style, whiplashing through emotions and moods, somehow never staying still while finding peace in the middle of tumult.

Laurel Hell is sunny and dark and wry all at once, floating between total asceticism and excess, which in perfect balance is the essence of minimalism. One minute you’re dancing, next you’re in a corner couch cocoon. Either way, you’re ok.

I got some ocean front property in Arizona
From my front porch you can see the sea
I got some ocean front property in Arizona
If you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free


This a record leans on a paddock fence, one foot on a rail, the other in good dirt. It will never not make me smile.

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