Matthew Crawford: The case for working with your hands (Viking)
A philosopher who likes to fix old motorbikes muses on modern work. Artful, zen and fun.
Gerry Galvin: No Recipe (Doire Press)
Poems from the great intellectual of the Irish kitchen, and poems that are hard-wrought from a life of experience, yet filled with wonder. Funny, too.
Greil Marcus; Listening to Van Morrison (Faber)
Marcus succeeds in making you want to listen to the music – with the exception of everything the grumpy Belfast bard did between 1980 and 1996 (ouch!). But the sentences-that-go-on-like-a Van Morrison-song are more than annoying.
Mark Johnston: Surviving Death (Princeton)
Lectures that pursue the philosophical and religious ideas begun in Johnston's previous book, “Saving God”. Love – and only love – will endure, and the philosophising is mind-bendingly good.
William Parker Quartet: O'Neal's Porch (AUM Fidelity)
Thanks to my friend-in-jazz, the potter Andy Luddick, for introducing me to the work of the great bassist and band leader. Parker's quartet, with Hamid Drake on drums, Rob Brown on alto sax and Lewis Barnes on trumpet, sounds to me like the greatest small band in modern jazz. Beautiful and wild.
Paul Motian: Lost in a Dream (ECM)
If William Parker has the best quartet, Motion shows that he knows how to fashion the most amazing trios, playing a live date here with Jason Moran on piano and Chris Potter on tenor sax. The sound defines the term “limpid” and Moran, in particular, is a revelation.
Gorillaz: Plastic Beach (Parlophone)
Damon Albarn may well be a genius. What he most certainly is, genius or not, is a truly great songwriter. A soundtrack for the warm summer that's coming our way.
Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
A 2009 release that collects fragments of sounds and harmonies into the most glorious mélange of music. If Richard T. James of Aphex Twin remixed Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds, it might sound a bit like this.