Instrument of Instruments

Best new music 2019

My 2019 annual write-up of the year’s best new music. I publish this post into the ether once a year to summarize what I’ve particularly liked during the last twelve months, in the hope that you might discover something new.

Johnny Clegg, dancing

In memoriam Johnny Clegg

A personal reflection on the death of Johnny Clegg, giant of South African music, in July 2019. … I met him once, very briefly. In my mid-20s, when I was living in Johannesburg, a colleague and I bumped into him holding court in a café at Rosebank Mall where we had gone during our lunch break.

A christmas wreath consisting entirely of round ornaments. December 2018

Best new music 2018

2018 was another year full of outrageous distractions, the misconfigurations and abuses of the public sphere relentlessly encroaching on whatever space one tried to carve out for thinking, experiencing beauty or getting some rest. A year to test our commitments, … [read more]

Courtesy of Jennifer Johannesen via Instagram

Best new music 2017

This year’s best music list comes in the middle of the Great Deep Freeze of 2017, where it’s apparently colder in Canada than at the North Pole. Winter has come. This time, I have no summary words of political, cultural … [read more]

Our front yard after the December 2013 ice storm

Best new music of 2013 – Rock, jazz, world, etc.

I took the picture above in our front yard this morning. Overnight, we got the ‘great ice storm of 2013,’ 12 hours of freezing rain. It downed tree limbs and whole trees, took down power lines, destroyed cars and eavestroughs … [read more]

Freshlyground Radio Africa

Listening to: Freshlyground

One of the things I miss most about South Africa is the music. It’s not that I can’t find South African music here in Canada (or order it online via Amazon). No, it’s more the pervasive musicality of the place: … [read more]

Best new music of 2011

Thought I’d get an early handle on my best-of-the-year list this time around. I’ve blogged surprisingly little about music in 2011. That doesn’t mean that I listened any less, or less attentively. In fact, audio-wise, it was just this past … [read more]

Coeur de pirate: Blonde

Listening to: Coeur de pirate

Béatrice Martin, who goes by the stage name Coeur de pirate, is a wildly, fantastically talented singer-songwriter from Montreal. She has just released her second solo album—the excellent Blonde—and she’s only 22. Like many listeners outside of France and Quebec, I … [read more]