Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Breakdown’ category


Not to toot my own horn or nothing, but this is one of the best shows we’ve done here in 2015. Nothing to do with me really, it’s the music, and it kind of dawned on me all of the sudden that virtually all of the new releases on this week’s show are all strong contenders for the end of year “Best Of” special. I know it’s only May, but I have a good sense for these things, so don’t be surprised when Annabel (Lee), Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators, Nosaj Thing, The Sandwitches, Oddisee, and Haitus Kaiyote show in that list. Those artists are featured, along with classic material from the Flamin’ Groovies, Outkast, The Ensemble Al-Salaam and James Brown, on what would have been his 82nd birthday. The second hour is dedicated to an artist who might just have put out the best release of the year, Kamasi Washington, who is about to release his 3-part 172 minute masterpiece “The Epic.” The interview here is edited for airplay, there’ll be a separate post soon with the full version. If you’re in LA and you got the time, make sure to hustle down to the Regent tonight for the release show celebration featuring Kamasi and essentially every player of consequence in the Los Angeles area. This is likely to be the last Melting Pot for a while, as KPFK is going into fundraiser mode for the next month and I’ve got a mountain of grading to do…until we meet again, enjoy the show!

Melting Pot on KPFK #196: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #196: Second Hour


Was in a very jazzy mood a couple weeks ago for the end of April all vinyl affair…presently I’m busy catching up for lost time and trying to get back to grading. I’ll post more about the show later on, including the playlist.

Melting Pot on KPFK #195: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #195: Second Hour


Started the show off with a show of solidarity connected to the upcoming commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide of 1915, which resulted in 1.5 million deaths and was the original event for which the term “genocide” was created to describe. Like so many other moments of horror in history, this is something that is still unacknowledged by many people around the world, especially those in present day Turkey. Armenian Hip-Hop artist R. Mean’s song and video “Open Wounds” was created to bring greater awareness to this moment and it’s there that we began:

From there we also paid brief tribute to GURU of Gang Starr who passed away 5 years ago, and to Charles Mingus, just ahead of what would have been his 93rd birthday on April 22nd, and in between there’s a whole lot of music including new tunes from Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators, The Sandwitches, Jose James, King Khan & the BBQ Show, Oddisee, Nadine Shah, Death and classics from Gal Costa, Captain Beefheart, Can, Ramswey Lewis and Tim Buckley. We’ll be back next week, all on vinyl to close out the month.

Melting Pot on KPFK #194: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #194: Second Hour

Playlist: 04-19-2015
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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R. Mean – Open Wounds – Open Wounds 1915 (Self-Released)
Gang Starr – Robbin Hood Theory – Moment Of Truth (Noo Trybe)
Buddy Collette – Fun City – Now And Then (Legend)
Nadine Shah – Nothing Else To Do – Fast Food (R&S)

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Death – Resurrection – N.E.W. (Drag City)
The King Khan & BBQ Show – We Are The Champion – Bad News Boys (In The Red)
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Sugar N’ Spikes – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
Tashi Dorji – Forbidden – Appa (Bathetic)
Fernanda y Bernarda Utrera – Lo Mismo Juego – El Cante De Fernanda Y Bernarda Utrera (Fontana)

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Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Paint Me In A Corner – Single (Timmion)
Ramsey Lewis – Ode – Maiden Voyage (Cadet)
Jungle Fire – Together/Los Filigreses – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
The Rebirth – Show ‘Em – Being Thru The Eyes Of A Child (Walkin’ Talkin’)

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Jose James – I Thought About You – Yesterday I Had The Blues (Blue Note)
Tim Buckley – Blue Melody – Blue Afternoon (Straight)
Oddisee – Belong To The World – The Good Fight (Mello Music)
Ibeyi – Weatherman – Ibeyi (XL)
Clark – Beacon – Clark (Warp)

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Nosaj Thing feat. Chance The Rapper – Cold Stares – Fated (Innovative Leisure)
Portico – Atacama – Living Fields (Ninja Tune)
Can – Bring Me Coffee or Tea – Tago Mago (UA)
Mrr/Adm feat. Malcolm Catto – 009 – Untitled 10” (Self-Released)

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The Sandwitches – Play It Again Dick – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)
Gal Costa – The Archaic Lonely Star Blues – Le-Gal (Phillips)
Charles Mingus – Half-Mast Inhibition – Mingus Revisited (Limelight)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)


Easter Sunday is always a fun show for me. Since the move to KPFK, I’ve tried to come up with some unexpected tracks in celebration, and while I almost always include personal favorites like “Groovin’ With Jesus” or “Get High With Jesus” I felt like keeping things fresh this year and playing tunes I hadn’t featured before, with a track from Axelrod’s “Mass,” Alice Coltrane’s epic “Lord Of Lords” and a recent entry from Kendrick Lamar, his “How Much Does A Dollar Cost?” The show from there features a fair amount of new things, including tracks from Rapper Big Pooh (of Little Brother), Ibeyi, Warpaint, Toro y Moi, Dom La Nena, Waxahatchee and Portico. At the start of the second hour there is a short excerpt of a tribute set that Oliver Wang of put together for our friend Matthew Africa. You can check out the full-length mix by clicking right here. We’ll be back with the music after a week hiatus for fundraising, see you then!

Melting Pot on KPFK #193: 1st Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #193: 2nd Hour

Playlist: 04-5-14
{opening theme} Booker T & The MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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David Axelrod & the Electric Prunes – Agnus Dei – Mass In F Minor (Reprise)
Alice Coltrane – Lord Of Lords – Lord of Lords (Impulse)
Kendrick Lamar – How Much Does A Dollar Cost? – How To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Rank Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)

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Ibeyi – Better In Tune With The Infinite – Single (Self-Released)
Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nueva Yorquino – Canto Asoyin – Concepts In Unity (Salsoul)
Fela Kuti & Africa 70 – Water No Get Enemy – Expensive Shit (Knitting Factory)

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Rapper Big Pooh feat. Eric Black Soul Keith – How I Move – Words Paint Pictures (Mello Music)
Toro Y Moi – The Flight – What For? (Carpark)
Waxahatchee – La Loose – Ivy Tripp (Merge)
Hiatus Kaiyote – Breathing Underwater – Single (Flying Buddah)
Pete Rock – One, Two, A Few More – Petestrumentals 2 (Mello Music)

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DJ O-Dub – It Began With Matthew Africa (Tribute Mix) –
24 Carat Black – Theme From 24-Carat Black – Jazz Dance Classics Vol. 1 (Luv’n’Haight)

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Warpaint – No Way Out – Single (Rought Trade)
Neu! – Weissensee – Neu! (UA)
Portico feat. Jono McCleery – Colour Fading – Living Fields (Ninja Tune)

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Rodrigo Amarante – Fall Asleep – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
Epic Soundtracks – Sleepy City – Change My Life (Bar/None)
Dom La Nena – Era Una Vez – Soyo (Six Degrees)
Billie Holiday – You Turned The Tables On Me – Solitude (Verve)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)


End of the month and so during the first hour we were all on vinyl, with a surprising number of contemporary releases, from local artists Nedelle Torrisi and Baast, as well as recent release from Frisco’s the Sandwitches, who should have a new album on the horizon. In the second hour we have a return engagement from Rodrigo Amarante, who was our guest last Summer and blesses us again with his presence and all the beauty that comes from that voice and his guitar (plus a lullaby on piano, separate post to follow).

Melting Pot on KPFK #192: 1st Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #192: 2nd Hour


March 22nd was our first show of Spring, and as is our tradition, it meant we started things off with Biz Markie’s legendary ode to the season of change, renewal and hope, “Spring Again.” More than a few new tunes, plus some classics, you know…all you expect from Melting Pot on KPFK. Enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #191: 1st Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #191: 2nd Hour


It was sooooooooo nice to be back on this air this past Sunday! I hadn’t been on the air since January 25th and I was worried I might not remember what to do, but thankfully it is more or less just like riding a bike. As is often the case when I haven’t been on the air for a while, the releases pile up. With only two hours, there’s a lot more music that I could have played, but overall, I think it’s a pretty solid return. Lots of new tunes, but the show starts off with a little tribute to one of my musical heroes, Sly Stone, who celebrated his 72nd birthday on Sunday. I’ll be sure to keep things on track here at the blog (playlist up tomorrow or Friday) and hopefully I’ll be on the air for a good amount of time here throughout the rest of the year. Enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #190: 1st Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #190: 2nd Hour

Playlist: 3-15-2015

{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Sly & the Family Stone – Underdog – A Whole New Thing (Epic)
Sly & the Family Stone – Color Me True – Dance To The Music (Epic)
Sly & the Family Stone – Remember Who You Are – Back On The Right Track (WB)
Sly & the Family Stone – Can’t Strain My Brain – Small Talk (Epic)
Sly & the Family Stone – Just Like A Baby – There’s A Riot Going On (Epic)
Sly Stone – Africa – I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 (Light In The Attic)

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Rongetz Foundation feat. Gary Bartz – Marshmellow Throne – Kiss Kiss Double Jab (Heavenly Sweetness)
Zion I feat. 1-Oak – Last Nite – Sun Moon and Stars (Mass Appeal)
Tropics – Hunger – Rapture (Innovative Leisure)
Romare – Jimmy’s Lament – Projections (Ninja Tune)

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Swervedriver – Setting Sun – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You (Cobraside)
The Amazing – Broken – Picture You (Partisan)
Emmy The Great – Swimming Pools – S EP (Bella Union)
Ibeyi – Faithful – Ibeyi (XL)

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Prhyme feat. Jay Electronic – To Me To You – Prhyme (Prhyme Records)
Harvey Mandel – Light’s Out – Cristo Redentor (Phillips)
Dom La Nena – Menino – Soyo (Six Degrees)

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Zomba Prison Project – Women Today Take Care Of Business – Zomba Prison Project (Six Degrees)
Bappi Lahiri & Chorus – Taqdeer Ka Badshah – Bombay Disco 2 (Cultures Of Soul)
Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – Lam Tang Wai Yook Pattana – 21st Century Molam (Zudrangma Records)

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Nedelle Torrisi – Fool Boy – Advice From Paradise (Ethereal Sequence/Drag City)
Portico feat. Jamie Woon – Memory Of Newness – Living Fields (Ninja Tune)
David Korevaar – Le Tombeau De Couperin II: Fugue – Maurice Ravel: Le Tombeau De Couperin (MSR Classics)
Charles Mingus – Duke’s Choice – A Modern Jazz Symposium Of Music and Poetry (Bethlehem)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)


Until this past Sunday, this had been the last time I’d been on-air at KPFK, by far my longest hiatus from the show since coming over in 2010. This was the end of the month all-vinyl thang we always do. As the year has begun I haven’t bought nearly as much vinyl, mostly connected to adopting a new dog who now takes up all of my loose change. Pretty soon though I’ll be getting back to my diggin’ ways and I’m looking forward to being back on the air to be able to share it all.

Melting Pot on KPFK #189: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #189: Second Hour


Getting back on track means that I’m finally getting around to posting the last couple of shows we did in January. Since we’re not currently on the air, due to a fundraiser, in some ways this works out nicely, because by the time I’m caught up, we should be back on the air! This was the show just before MLK Day, and it begins with a tribute to “The Dreamer” featuring a bit of his final speech with music from the recent film Selma, composed by Jason Moran. This show also featured a tribute to Kim Fowley, as well as tunes from Sleater-Kinney, Quadron, Buyepongo,Chain & the Gang, Nedelle Torrisi and a beautiful and long track from Pharoah Sanders. Enjoy this, we’ll be back to business as usual before you know it.

Melting Pot on KPFK #188: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #188: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-18-2014
{opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Jason Moran – Selections from Selma – Selma: Original Soundtrack (Paramount)
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Excerpts from Memphis April 3, 1968 – Free At Last (Gordy)
Marha Bass – Walk With Me – Selma: Original Soundtrack (Paramount)

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Pharoah Sanders – Healing Song – Live At The East (Impulse)

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Quadron – Herfra Hvor Vi Star – Quadron (Plug Research)
Tropics – Rapture – Rapture (Innovative Leisure)
Nedelle Torrisi – Don’t Play Dumb – Advice From Paradise (Ethereal Sequence/Drag City)

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The Runaways – Cherry Bomb – The Runaways (Mercury)
Kim Fowley – The Trip – 7” (Corby)
The Byrds – Hungry Planet – Untitled (Columbia)
Ariel Pink – Exile on Frog St. – Pom Pom (4ad)

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Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
Chain & the Gang – Devitalize – Minimum Rock’n’Roll (Radical Elite)
Hunx & his Punx – Lover’s Lane – Too Young To Be In Love (Hardly Art)
Yvonne Carroll – Mister Loverman – Girl Group Sounds, Lost & Found: One Kiss Can Lead To Another (Rhino)
Joe Hicks – I’m Goin’ Home Pt. 1 – I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 (Light In The Attic)
DJ Lengua – Cumbia Squares – 12” (Unicornio)

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Buyepongo – Mulatu Para Ti – 7” (Soul Fiesta)
Mulatu Astatke – Mulatu – New York – Addis – London –The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 (Strut)
Jungle Fire – Snake Pit – Tropicoso (Nacional)
Sons & Daughters Of Lite – The Real Thing – Let The Sun Shine In (Ubiquity)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)


First show of the new year is sometimes tough, since there isn’t a whole lot of brand new music that’s been released. Over the last several years I’ve worked out this format, where I take a look at some of the upcoming releases, some coming later in January, others later in the year and still others only rumored to be released in the near future. 2015 is looking like a really solid for music, with releases from Belle & Sebastian, Beat Spacek, Sleater-Kinney, Ghostface Killah & BadBadNotGood all coming out in the next month or so. 2015 should FINALLY be the year we get a full-length record from KING and there are rumors that we’ll have new music from Francoiz Breut, Martina Topley Bird and Damon Albarn’s project, The Good, The Bad & the Queen. In our second hour we spend time with Music Suprevisor (and now former KPFK host) Morgan Rhodes, talking about her work on the recently released film Selma. If this is the way 2015 begins, I’d say we’re in for a great year of music on KPFK and Melting Pot!

Melting Pot on KPFK #187: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #187: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-11-2015
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Fink – Yesterday Was Had On All Of Us – Selma: Original Soundtrack (Paramount)
Francoiz Breut – Les Jeunes Pousses – A L’Aveuglette (T-rec)
Belle & Sebastian – The Cat with the Cream – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance (Matador)
Haitus Kaiyote – Molasses – By Fire (Flying Buddah)

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Sleater-Kinney – Surface Envy – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
Swervedriver – Deep Wound – Single (Cobraside)
Beat Spacek – I Wanna Know – Single (Ninja Tune)
Dengue Fever – Durian Dowry – Cannibal Courtship (Concord)
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Sankofa – Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (Honest Jon’s)

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BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah feat. Danny Brown – Six Degrees – Soul Soul (Lex)
Ibeyi – River – EP (XL)
The Good, The Bad & the Queen – Behind The Sun – The Good, The Bad & the Queen (Virgin)
Martina Topley Bird – Baby Blue – Some Place Simple (Honest Jon’s)
KING – Mr. Chameleon – Single (Self-Released)
BadBadNotGood – Since You Asked Kindly (J-Rocc Remix) – Single (Self-Released)

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Morgan Rhodes – Interview – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

Breakdown: Top 5 Songs of 2014

January 11th, 2015

Here is our final post of this week-long look back at the best music we heard in 2014. As usual, picking the top songs of the past year was the easiest and most enjoyable part of these “Top 5s.” There were significantly fewer songs in my mind, solely connected to personal matters discussed previously, but as I mentioned with the Top releases, it’s not a reflection on the quality of the music heard over the year. More than just a list of the best songs from last year, several of these tracks are amongst my favorite in recent memory, including the final recording from a true master, an anthem that hits close to home and one of the most beautiful pieces of music from an in-studio performance that I’ve been involved with. Here are my Top 5 Songs of 2014.

***Honorable Mentions: Ana Tijoux – “Somos Sur,” Karol Conka – “Boa Noite,” BadBadNotGood – “Confessions,” Electric Wire Hustle – “Look In The Sky,” Madlib – “Robes (instrumental),” Flying Lotus – “Coronus, The Terminator,” Perfect Pussy “Driver” & “Big Stars”

5. Zara McFarlane – “Open Heart” – If You Only Knew Her (Brownswood)

foto © Andy Sheppard

foto © Andy Sheppard

Zara McFarlane – Open Heart

This one, like the top choice on this list, became more of a favorite based off of the performance Zara did for us at KPFK. The simple arrangement with just piano and her extraordinary voice brought the stark beauty of her songwriting to the fore and since matters of love and heartbreak were all on my mind all year long, I was predictably smitten. That performance had me re-evaluate the album as a whole and the version that leads that album off. That concept of an open heart being both lock and key is worthy of it’s own “What Does It All Mean?” post, but for now, I’ll just say that this was one of my favorite songs of the entire year.

4. Shintaro Sakamoto & the Komome Children’s Choir – You Could Be A Robot, Too – Let’s Dance Raw (Other)


Shintaro Sakamoto and the Kamome Children’s Choir – You Could Be A Robot, Too

A new record from Shintaro Sakamoto wasn’t even on my radar until a friend shared the video for this song, the original version of which is featured on Sakamoto’s Let’s Dance Raw. This version, released on a 7” and recorded with the Komome Children’s Choir, gives the song a much cheerier feel, even though the music doesn’t change between the two versions. Watching the video (which I highly recommend) also elides the rather dark nature of this song, which actually is a critique of contemporary Japanese and world culture that puts ease, convenience and a need to escape from the very things that make us human above an understanding that we must take the good with the bad, the pleasure with the pain, in order to truly appreciate our lives. The scariest part of this song is how close to reality we might actually be…I’m particularly frightened by the prospect of losing out to Teacher Robot.

3. Spain feat. Charlie Haden – You & I – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse)


Spain feat. Charlie Haden – You and I

No loss in 2014 hit harder than the passing of legendary musician Charlie Haden. Right up until his passing, Haden never lost his signature sound and by virtue of his son, Josh Haden, we have one final marvel, an unfortunately all too rare collaboration between father and son. While Haden might have had his father in mind when he wrote “You and I,” there were no plans originally to record the song with the elder Haden, those came later at the suggestion of producer Gus Seyffert. From the first note the sound is unmistakable and gorgeous as ever. Given the subject matter and the performance, the song itself is one of Spain’s most touching, one of my favorites of the year, and perhaps my favorite from Josh Haden’s entire career.

2. Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame – Physical World (Love Monk/Burger)

foto © Flucho Wop

foto © Flucho Wop

Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame

I’m very much an anti-fame kind of guy. I’ve had chances to do much more in music and academically and I’ve chosen different paths that allow me to effect change in ways that do not put much of a spot light on me personally. As such, a song like “Fuck Fame,” along with a handful of others (Rotary Connection’s “Life Could,” Dr. John’s “Glowin’” and Erasmo Carlos’ “Minha Gente” are also personal anthems) resonates with me on a deeply personal level. Davenport articulates the dilemma of an artist embedded within the 21st century music industry. While fame may not be important, gaining greater acclaim, the red carpets and the like…it is still important to understand that this is a business and that artists can’t survive on art alone. The idea that artists should create for art’s sake remains a pervasive feeling, even though corporations continue to make billions and billions of dollars off of the art that these artists create. The song is delivered tongue in cheek, but it also speaks to some very real concerns for many, and for many, or at least those that hear it, it might just serve as an anthem for their way of living.

1. Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon – Recorded at KPFK (KPFK Archives) [studio version on Cavalo]


Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon (Recorded Live At KPFK)

As I mentioned in the interview, there are few musical pleasures I enjoy more than hearing Rodrigo Amarante playing acoustic guitar and singing. Part of Amarante’s power is in the extraordinary intimacy he conjures up through this simple performances. I was in the room with Amarante, recording the interview and making sure that everything was operating the way that it should, but listening with my eyes closed, and even within that space I felt transported. When you hear Amarante perform this way, it always seems as if you are listening to him perform at his home or on a porch. The song itself is an exceptional one, a companion to another song from his album Cavalo, “I’m Ready,” both dealing with the death of a soldier, one from the perspective of the mother who has lost her son, the other more from the perspective of the soldier looking back on his life after his passing. On the album, the production gives the song a ghostly, otherworldly quality. In this performance, recorded live at KPFK, the otherworldly-ness is wholly connected to the unique qualities of Amarante’s playing (in this case on a guitar he had never played before, a gift from a friend) and his voice. I’ve been blessed to have been involved with a number of fine performances, but this one is by far my favorite in my 20+ year career, which made it an easy selection for song of the year.


With so much going on in my personal life in 2014, I’ll be the first one to admit that I wasn’t nearly as focused on newer music over the entire year. 2014’s personal challenges caused quite a bit of introspection and thus a lot of time spent listening to older music. When I did listen to new releases, there were many exceptional releases to bring me out of my funk, these are just five of my favorites from the past year.

***Honorable Mentions: Ana Tijoux – Vengo (Nacional), Electric Wire Hustle – By & Bye (Okay Player), Zara McFarlane – If You Only Knew Her (Brownswood), Karol Conka – Batuk Freak (Mr. Bongo), Spain – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse), Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place (Slumberland), Willie West & the High Society Brothers – Lost Soul (Timmion)

5. BadBadNotGood – III – Innovative Leisure


BadBadNotGood – Confessions

As a long-time fan of Jazz music, I always love hearing new generations doing interesting new things with the genre. BadBadNotGood is in many ways as much a jazz ensemble as they are a Hip-Hop one (something that will be even clearer in 2015 when they back up Ghostface Killah), which is reflected in their music, music that retains the improvisatory character of one genre while being imminently pleasing to the ears of those raised on the other. Dark, funky, and definitely one of the best things I heard in 2014.

4. Sun Kil Moon – Benji – Caldo Verde


Sun Kil Moon – I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love

Mark Kozelek has found his way onto a few of these lists over the years, clearly I’m a big fan. 2014’s Benji might be the most personal album that he’s ever recorded. Every song connected to family members and experiences growing up. It’s a raw listening experience at times, as Kozelek details his earliest sexual experiences, a variety of tragedies, personal, professional and familial, or just the most honest and heartfelt love many of us have known, with “I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love.” Fascinating and beautiful.

3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata – Madlib Invazion


Freddie Gibbs & Madlib feat. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt – Robes

Madlib and Freddie Gibbs had been teasing us for damn near a couple of years with a track here, a track there from their collaboration. Finally in 2014 we got the album, and it was worth the wait. Gibbs lyricism, along with that of the many guests, rolls out as the aural equivalent of a gritty gangster drama, but as is often the case with everything he touches, it’s the production work by Madlib that elevates this album to one of the year’s best. If Dilla is recognized as Hip-Hop’s Hendrix, Madlib should be recognized as its Sun Ra, a true iconoclast, with a beat sensibility that is as original as the sources he uses to make these sonic masterpieces. “Robes” primarily uses Lenny White’s “Sweet Dreamer,” but where many would have just used simple loops, Madlib jumps around the rhythm, chops lyrics unexpectedly, shifts from early to late in the song. A masterpiece.

2. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love – Captured Tracks


Perfect Pussy – Driver

Not sure there was a band that made more noise in 2014, literally and metaphorically, than Perfect Pussy. The post-hardcore outfit out of Syracuse created major buzz and went places hardcore bands rarely go. So much of the appeal of Perfect Pussy relates to front-woman Meredith Graves. Though she’s been in music for several years with several different bands, at the head of this band, Graves has demanded and deserved attention for her lyrics, which by themselves would mark as a significant poetic voice, her style, stature and swagger on stage and off and perhaps most importantly for her fearlessness at being honest and open about her life and the issues that are most important to her. Say Yes To Love isn’t a record that everyone will love, the style of music isn’t meant to be for all ears. But for those of us who know these sounds and love these sounds, we know exactly what we have in Perfect Pussy. Hopefully their best years will still be ahead of them, but if they turn out to be a candle that burned too bright to last, they’ve created a remarkable fire.

1. Rodrigo Amarante – Cavalo – Easy Sound


Rodrigo Amarante – Mana

Though he’s had a long career, in Brazil with Los Hermanos and others, and here in the states most notably with Little Joy, Rodrigo Amarante hadn’t released a record under solely his own name until 2014’s Cavalo. With a collaborative artist like Amarante it is difficult to know what you will get when they are finally on their own. How much of the sound you associate with them is truly their own or a result of the collaboration with others? Cavalo presents all of the sides of Amarante and he emerges as an artist clearly touched by his many associations, but able to stand on his own with a diverse sound, in many styles and many languages, while still retaining a unique sound. I’ve been on the record talking about my great affection for Amarante in the most simplest of settings just his voice and a guitar, and the songs that are closest to that are my favorite, but Cavalo as a whole is a rewarding listening experience, from start to finish and like all of the others on this list, it is a record that deserves to be heard in that manner. It’s in giving yourself over, fully, to this album, immersing yourself within it, that it’s great beauty reveals itself.


All this week we’re focusing on the best music we heard in 2014. Today’s post looks at the top reissues from the past year. While admittedly much of my attention was elsewhere throughout the year, I’m still surprised at the depth and breadth of reissued music from year to year. Aside from the now trendy vinyl reissues of well-known records, there were a number of releases that continued to surprise and astound (more than a few being “Vol. 2” in a series). The ones on my list featured sounds I’d never heard before or sounds I never thought I’d hear. Here are my picks for the top reissues of 2014, let me know your favorites in the comments.

***Honorable Mentions: Unwound – Rat Conspiracy & No Energy (Numero), Country Funk Vol. 2: 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic), Spiritual Jazz 5: The World (Jazzman), Local Customs: Cavern Sound (Numero), The Afrosound of Colombia Vol. 2 (Vampi Soul)

5. Sly Stone – I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 – Light In The Attic

Sly Stone – Africa

Just last year we had a gang of unreleased tracks released on the Sly & the Family Stone retrospective “Higher!” and this year we got this collection, shining a necessary light on the furtive period of time between two landmark LPs, 1969’s Stand and 1971’s There’s A Riot Going On. In that in-between time Sly started the Stone Flower label, released a few 45s from 6ix, Little Sister and Joe Hicks and started to explore new technology and new sounds. This collection includes all of the released music from the label (bringing together songs, like Joe Hick’s “Life & Death in the G&A” that were split in two) but also includes a number of unreleased tracks, demos and early versions of Stone Flower recordings, but the real gold is in the tracks from Sly that show the early stages, such as this track “Africa,” of what would become one of the greatest albums of all-time.

4. Lewis – L’Amour – Light In The Attic

Lewis – Romance For Two

Light In The Attic had a banner year, in addition to the Sly Stone collection, they also released this private press obscurity. The sound of Lewis is so delicate and so quiet that at times, if you’re not listening through headphones, you’d almost miss that it’s even there. But when you do listen and you do hear it, it’s impossible to deny the beauty of this music.

3. Michael Bloomfield – From His Head, To His Heart, To His Hands: An Audio/Visual Scrapbook – Legacy

Bob Dylan feat. Michael Bloomfield – Like A Rolling Stone (Instrumental)

Michael Bloomfield is the greatest American guitarist not named Jimi Hendrix. For those that know, it’s really not an overstatement to say that Bloomfield’s influence is nearly equal to Hendrix. Because of his nature, his personality and his troubles, he never got the kind of broad acclaim that others got, but Bloomers was an exceptional player and all of his many talents are on display on this lovingly put together (by longtime friend Al Kooper) collection that features not only some of his best music, with Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan and many others, but also the voice of Michael Bloomfield. No one sounded quite like Bloomers, and hearing him speak in his unique way is almost as engrossing as the music on this collection. But it’s the music that we’ll remember most, and FINALLY getting an instrumental version of “Like A Rolling Stone,” with those gorgeous iconic guitar lines, is something to be cherished deeply.

2. Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot / Grace Jackson – Gonna Get U – Ximeno


Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot

It’s always nice, after 20+ years as a collector to hear new old things that you had no idea were around. With a show and blog called “Melting Pot” you’d think I was aware of all of the versions of that classic song, but the legendary Danny Holloway proved me wrong when he released this 7″ on his Ximeno imprint in the Summer. This version is the shortest, but it packs in a heavy punch in that 2 minutes and change. The flip-side, a reggae funk crowd pleaser makes this one a double-sider worthy of every collectors attention. Looking forward to bigger and better things from Ximeno in the future, but for this one I’ll be eternally grateful.

1. The Sound Of Siam Vol. 2: Molam & Luk Thung Isan From North-East Thailand 1970-1982 – Soundway


Rome Sithammarat – Sao New Look

Back in 2010, I raved and raved about the first volume of this collection. I’d never heard the kind of sounds that were compiled on that set and the effect was somewhat like having a new window of my mind opened up. In 2014 the second volume came out and I felt a somewhat similar sense of bewilderment. Volume 2 surpassed Volume 1 in quality and for that, it more than deserves the top spot here on this list.

Breakdown: Top 5 Finds of 2014

January 6th, 2015


With a whole year just by myself to engage in record therapy, you could bet that I was going to I was going to stumble into some great records. As with previous years, quite a few of the records I got this year were online buys (particularly the many records I got that used to belong to dear friend Matthew Africa), but this year I also got back to digging in earnest and even went to New Orleans essentially just to buy records.

***Honorable Mentions: The Albert – S/T [Record Jungle at The Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown], The Pyramids – King Of Kings AND Birth Speed Merging [Recycled Records, San Francisco], Sidney Bechet – Jazz Classics Vol. 1 [Euclid Records, New Orleans], Sun Ra – Nuclear War [Groove Merchant, San Francisco], Lenny White – City Lights [Amoeba Records, Hollywood], Little Ann – Going Down A One-Way Street The Wrong Way / I’d Like To Know You Better [Jim Russell’s Record Cellar, New Orleans]

5. Jimmy Scott – The Source – Atlantic [Record Jungle at The Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown]


Jimmy Scott – (Sometimes I Feel Like A) Motherless Child

Probably more than any other style this year, I picked up a lot of jazz records, many of them from cool vocalists like Chris Connor, June Christy and the incomprable Little Jimmy Scott. Of the three Jimmy Scott records I picked up, this was the first. As I mentioned earlier in the year, I got this one from Andy of Record Jungle fame, while at the Beat Swap Meet. I really can’t improve on what I said earlier, so I’ll just say it again:

“There are quite a lot of albums like this from singers who’s best days were already past them by the time the 1960s were closing. The unique beauty of Jimmy Scott’s voice allows him to rise above and soar through these tunes. Few artists can stop me dead in my tracks with a single note. Hearing Scott’s voice on this album certainly has that power.”

4. Light Rain – Dream Dancer – Magi [Atomic Records, Burbank]


Light Rain – Beautiful Friend

I swore that I had posted this one earlier, but now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I was waiting to get another record from this same group before posting this one. I’d seen this album a couple of times at Atomic and each time I’d thought that maybe i should pick it up. I’m not sure why I pulled the trigger on the third time seeing it still there, but I’m glad that I did. Light Rain was a ensemble put together by Doug Adams, and as far as I understand it they were the first American group to perform this style of music, often described as belly dance music. While that is clearly a major part of this album, what struck me about the album in its totality, and “Beautiful Friend” in particular, was just how beautiful and idyllic the music was. More than any record in 2014, this was the one that I listened to again and again and again and again.

3. Bo Rhambo – Enchanted Evening – Imperial [Jim Russell’s Record Cellar, New Orleans]


Bo Rhambo – Two For The Blues

I think this record finds itself on this list as a representative for my trip down to the Crescent City. I’ve already said a bit about the story behind finding this one at Jim Russell’s, but damn if every time I drop the needle I’m transplanted back to that dusty space, looking at the smokiest record my eyes have ever seen and swaying to the smoky sounds coming out of the speakers. I hope that feeling never leaves me.

2. Jean Kassapian – The Snake / Aman Amn – Kassap [Private Collection]


Jean Kassapian – The Snake

Back in the spring I wrote about this one and also the 45 that ended up as my top find of the past year. I’ve never actually gone through a private collection like that, the thought had never even occurred to me to ask a dealer if they had more that I could look through. Clearly I’m glad that I finally did. Aside from the beauty of copping a rare 45 that runs for $100-200 for only $5, I got this one just before doing a guest set at Funky Sole. Hearing that crowd let out a little cheer when the song came on, as if it was #1 hit or something, instead of a obscure bit of Armenian belly dance music…writing that, I just realized that this list includes not one, but two belly dance records. Maybe I need to pay more attention to that style.

1. The Peppos and Jones Straigtjacket Band – Humanity / High School Years – Straitjacket [Private Collection]


The Peppos and Jones Straightjacket Band – Humanity

When I wrote about this one back in the spring, I didn’t really think of it as the best thing I found for the entire year. It really wasn’t until I was playing it on-air during my year end show that I really fully appreciated how special, strange and unique this record is. The louder you can play it, whether on house speakers or head phones, the better it gets. “Humanity” is so good, it just makes how ordinary “High School Years,” sounds even more frustrating…I mean, if this group could produce something as amazing as “Humanity,” just think what they could have created if they’d realized just how amazing those sounds would sound to our ears in 2014…oh well. I’m just thankful I found this one.

Melting Pot’s Best of 2014!

January 5th, 2015


2014 may have been a really tough year personally, but the music…thankfully there was a lot of beautiful music last year. All of that great music makes for a great “Best Of” show. I was actually busier this year than I was last year, so there was no chance that I was going to be able to get together a set of “Honorable Mentions,” but I think things will be settling down here in 2015, so hopefully we’ll get back to that next time. Here in this first full week of 2015, I’ll also be sharing the best vinyl I dug up over the past year, as well as the best reissues, records and songs of 2014. Enjoy the show and thanks for listening!

Melting Pot's Best of 2014: First Hour
Melting Pot's Best of 2014: Second Hour

Melting Pot’s Best of 2014 on KPFK Playlist

{opening theme} Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot – 7” (Ximeno)

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Ana Tijoux – Somos Sur – Vengo (Nacional)
Jungle Fire – Tropicoso – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
Willie West & the High Society Brothers – She’s So Wise – Lost Soul (Timmion)
Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame – Physical World (Love Monk/Burger)
Shintaro Sakamoto & the Komome Children’s Choir – You Could Be A Robot, Too – 7” (Zelome)
London Experimental Jazz – Destroy The Nihilist Picnic 0 Spritiual Jazz 5: The World (Jazzman)

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Kaleidoscope w/ Larry Williams & Johnny Guitar Watson – Nobody – Country Funk Vol. 2 (Light In The Attic)
Los Hacheros – Toma Tu Pilon – Pilon (Daptone)
Allo Darlin’ – History Lessons – We Come From The Same Place (Slumberland)
Sun Kil Moon – Micheline – Benji (Caldo Verde)
Charnett Moffett – Spirit of Sound (Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Little Sister w/ Buddy Miles – You’re The One (Early Version) – I’m Just Like You: Sly Stone’s Stoneflower 1969-1970 (Light IN The Attic)
BadBadNotGood – Confession – III (Innovative Leisure)
Dilated Peoples – Let Your Thoughts Fly Away – Directors Of Photography (Rhymesayers)
Lauryn Hill – Black Rage – Single (Self-Released)
The Beta Club – Brazza Nova – 7” (Cartel Records)

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Perfect Pussy – Driver – Say Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)
The Budos Band – Aphasia – Burnt Offering (Daptone)
Stone Wall – Living Today – Local Customs: Cavern Sound (Numero)
Afrosound – Una Abeja En El Semaforo – The Afrosound Of Colombia Vol. 2 (Vampi Soul)
Karol Conka – Boa Noite – Batuk Freak (Mr. Bongo)
Les Sins – Toy – Michael (Carpark)

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Flying Lotus – Coronus, The Terminator – You’re Dead (Warp)
Madlib & Freddie Gibbs w/ Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt – Robes – Pinata (Madlib Invazion)
Rome Sithammarat – Sao New Look – The Sound Of Siam Vol. 2 (Soundway)
The Souljazz Orchestra – Celestial Blues – Inner Fire (Strut)
Electric Wire Hustle – Look In The Sky – Bye & Bye (Okay Player)
Adrian Younge & the Souls Of Mischief – There Is Only Now (Instrumental) – There Is Only Now (Linear Labs)

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Zara McFarlane – Open Heart – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
Lewis – Romance For Two – L’Amour (Light In The Attic)
Spain feat. Charlie Haden – You and I – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse)
Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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{closing theme} Bob Dylan feat. Michael Bloomfield – Like A Rolling Stone (Instrumental) – From His Head, To His Heart, To His Hands (Legacy)

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