Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Heavy Rotation’ category


Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame

It’s strange to think of Bart Davenport living down here in LA, even though his new record, Physical World, just sounds like a very LA kind of record. Bart Davenport had been so associated with the East Bay that many of us called him the “Mayor Of The East Bay.” Those days have now passed, but thankfully Bart still is interested in telling stories and making music. Physical World finds him in fine form, with perhaps a bit more of an influence from the 1980s than previous work that always seemed more connected to the 60s and 70s. While all the songs are pleasant to the ear, it’s this track that you’ll be likely to hear for many years to come on my show. “Fuck Fame” has a nice turn after each verse where Davenport decries the trappings of fame, he’s quick to remind the listener, “that we should talk about money,” as a reminder that the two while often equated together are not actually mutually inclusive. The vast majority of us work without any pretense of achieving fame. We do it for the love, but at the end of the day in this society, we still have to pay the bills. As anthemic as “Fuck Fame” is, apparently it wasn’t written as a statement of Davenport’s feelings on fame or celebrity. Despite the lack of intention, it does work as a fantastic anthem, for those of us who know that while we still got to make our money in this world, it doesn’t mean we have to sell our souls to do it.


Perfect Pussy – Big Stars

Over the last couple of months I’ve been crushing hard on this Syracuse band. Quite a few people in musiclandia have been equally enamored with this band, fronted by a true force of nature in Meredith Graves. Way back in the 1990s I used to listen to this type of music an awful lot more than I generally do now and while I can’t claim any representative knowledge on where the various streams of hardcore music have gone since the turn of the century, I know quality when I hear it and this band has loads to spare. Musically and lyrically the band deserves every single bit of shine they’ve gotten in the last sixth months or so. And then there’s Graves. Being a hardcore band with a woman singer would be novelty enough in the fairly ultra-masculine world of punk rock. Graves is no novelty. She might just be the real deal, a bonafide star in the making. I hope she and her bandmates are able to develop freely because they got something special right here, with this sound and this style. “Big Stars” is just fine all by it’s own, pulling you in with with those guitars and big drums before settling into a tornado of sound with Graves at the lead. But what it hints at is something even greater. Say Yes To Love is a nice debut, already one of my favorites and something that I can guarantee I’ll feel even stronger about come year’s end, but this band’s best days are ahead.

CB Cycles

Chicano Batman – Magma

I’d actually been sitting on posting something on this, the 2nd full-length record from LA’s Chicano Batman, for months. Then I up and got sick in February and essentially went MIA for the whole month and record’s release last month. Don’t hold that against this fantastic sophomore effort from the group, which has really hit their stride since adding Carlos Arévalo on guitar. Cycles Of Existential Rhyme finds the band fully realizing and working in all of their varied influences into a trademark sound, with “Magma” as the best example. While “Cycles” 14 tracks have been worth the wait since 2010′s debut, I wouldn’t be surprised if boys in the band are already working on new material. For now, we have this new record and if you’re lucky, many a chance to see the band live performing here in LA and elsewhere.


Los Macuanos feat. Lucrecia Dalt – Pasado y Presente

I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty overwhelmed by the amount of new music that comes out on this planet these days. While the vast majority of the music that gets recorded is bad or mediocre at best (thanks for putting that phrase in my mind permanently Richard Sherman!), even when you’re just dealing with the quality, it seems like the sounds are just never-ending. It’s saddening, maddening and thrilling all at the same time. That sentiment reminds me of the sound of Los Macuanos, a DJ collective out of Tijuana who’s album El Origen has so many different styles mashed up together that I won’t even try to come up for a term for it all. Virtually every track sounds different from the last, but they all have a distinct style to them linking them together. “Pasado y Presente” has a bit of trip-hop feel to it, alluring while also a bit ominous. EL Origen doesn’t sound like a debut, it sounds like Los Macuanos have been at this for some time, thankfully for us they’ve only just begun.


Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush

This record has been out forever and a day, but part of the new year is making amends for the things that I missed in 2013. Joanna Gruesome is a noise pop band out of Cardiff, with girl/boy vocals and loads of energy that remind me ever so much of the Delgados, though grittier, noiser and with much more attitude. Safe to say I love them very much and one listen to “Sugar Crush” should show you why. As a bonus, here’s the band performing for Break Thru Radio. “Secret Surprise” is the song that I originally wanted to post, just cause of the lyrics, which somehow make “I dream of pulling out your teeth” and “I’ve been waiting to crush your fucking skull” seem charming. It’s all in the delivery, and it’s something that comes across much better while watching the band perform:


Michael Dixon & J.O.Y. – You’re All I Need

Here at the beginning of the year I’m often making up for records that I didn’t play nearly enough in 2013. Sometimes that’s because I just slept on something, more often than not it’s simply because it took me time to get the release. Most of the new music I get is from labels or promo people and since KPFK doesn’t really have a working library, I have to hustle for everything. Though I’m always proud of the “Best Of” shows I do, as soon as I’ve broadcast the show, I know there’s going to be something that I wish I’d put in there (I do make amends during the “Best So Far” show in July, but it’s not quite the same). The thoroughly enjoyable Purple Snow collection from Numero is the first of many echoes of 2013 you’re likely to hear and see on this blog. The collection shines a light on music recorded in Minneapolis before Prince broke out and put that sound on the map. Here (as with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) Prince is still a teenager and only a bit player on a few of the tracks, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of quality, interesting and distinctive sounds on this collection. “You’re All I Need” is maybe my favorite of the bunch, one of the most slyly funky Gospel songs you’re ever likely to hear, with some spacy organ, hand claps and a chorus of kids. Without a doubt I’ll be making amends most of this year and playing selection after selection from this collection on the radio show.


Songs: Ohia – Farewell Transmission

Jason Molina’s passing earlier in the year was a helluva blow. Personally, I’d always hoped I’d get a chance to interview Molina to talk to him about his songwriting and his singular style. I won’t get that chance, but I will be able to continue to spread Molina’s music as long as I do this blog and the radio show. Magnolia Electric Co. was the final album for Molina’s Songs: Ohia, after this record he took the title as his own and used it as the name of his band. The sound of the album, released in 2003, marked a bit of a change in direction, from the more acoustic work of his first six or so albums, and the more electric sounds that marked the band Magnolia Electric Co. Molina’s prolific career was marked by a really high level of consistently incredible songwriting, and it’s quite possible that this record was his best. For the 10th anniversary edition, Secretly Canadian has added a second disc which just features Molina’s demos of these same tracks, likely recorded at home, on a four-track or maybe even on a tape-deck. They provide an interesting juxtaposition between the finished songs and the demos, as well as between the acoustic and electric leanings of Molina. “Farewell Transmission” is perhaps my favorite song on this album, one of my favorite song from Molina. What is even more striking about this recording is that apparently it was largely improvised on the spot in the studio. It makes it all the more stunning when you here the power in this performance. Talent like Molina’s will be sorely missed, but we should all be thankful that he recorded as much as he did and that he found his way to a label like Secretly Canadian who released it all.


Hartley & Wolfe – Dancing In Circles

Part of the danger of this overly digitized music landscape we find ourselves in is that there are so many mp3′s being sent and downloaded, many of which have spotty ids and titles that it’s easy to make mistakes and lose track of who makes the music, let alone how much of it you have and where it’s located between all our many many devices. Case in point, this record. It was only after I had the thought to post this here that I even realized that the band’s name wasn’t simply “Wolfe” as the track was listed, but was Hartley & Wolfe and that Hartley & Wolfe doesn’t involve anyone named Hartley or Wolfe, but is just the title for the latest collaborative release from Russian born, London bred, NYC & Berlin dual resident DJ Vadim. Vadim has had a long and varied career, here with Hartley & Wolfe he’s in a much more focused soul vein, with his co-conspirator, Mr. Wolfe, Greg Blackman. The sound is thoroughly modern and would be a welcome addition to any contemporary R&B radio playlist, but because commercial radio is so close-minded and lacking in freedom, the music will never get the shine it so richly deserves. Thankfully these days artists like Vadim are able to carve out a successful career and find audiences who appreciate their craft, and I’m more than happy to play a small part in that.


William Onyeabor – Good Name

From the picture on the cover, you might think the answer to the question, “Who Is William Onyeabor?” is some kind of Black JR Ewing from Dallas, but you’d be wrong…Onyeabor put out some very distinctive funk out of Nigeria in the 1970s. Luaka Bop has decided to shine a light on his music as part of their resurgent World Psychedelic Classics series (last year’s addition was the very necessary collection of Tim Maia’s 1970s output) and it’s an absolutely worthy addition. Almost all of the songs are around 10 minutes but none of them disappoints or loses your attention and all of them certainly keep you moving.


Danny Brown feat. Freddie Gibbs – The Return

For some reason, until very recently, I haven’t been able to take Danny Brown seriously as an MC. Maybe it was the hair. I’m not sure, but with the release of his latest record Old I’ve been able to put any issues I had Brown aside and just enjoy his music. Old’s sound is a bit all over the place, but when you are as an eclectic figure as Brown, this is to be expected. I feel like a lot of people dig on Danny Brown because of his seemingly outlandish style, which is certainly unique amongst top-level Hip-Hop MCs, but Brown is at his best when the man just gets down to business as he does with LA based rapper Freddie Gibbs on “The Return” or on some of the deeper and possibly more autobiographical songs on this record. I’ve realized this year that the majority of problems I have with contemporary Hip-Hop is almost always connected to the way MCs flow or increasingly just the sound of their voice. Musically, the production is as vibrant as ever, but it’s rare these days that I encounter an MC I haven’t already known for years who I enjoy just hearing them rap. Brown might just be one of those few who you’ll hear quite a bit from on the radio show.


Chelsea Wolfe – House Of Metal

It seems like it happens much more often than it actually does, but I literally ran into this music from Chelsea Wolfe as I was strolling through Amoeba. “House Of Metal” was the song that was playing and it’s a very enchanting sound, nominally gothic and dark, but flirting with a variety of genres and styles. I’m only a recent convert to Wolfe’s music, but from everything I’ve read Pain Is Beauty might be a career defining album. I’m hoping that Wolfe will be a guest on KPFK sometime in the near future, that’s much to discuss and explore with music this rich.


Omar Souleyman – Ya Yumma

Once upon a time, Omar Souleyman was one of Syria’s most in demand wedding singers, performing traditional songs and providing recordings of the performance to the newly married couple. At some point, I’m not sure how, Souleyman’s music made it to indie-label Sublime Frequencies and from there in the ears of a increasingly larger audience outside of Syria. In recent years he’s began to tour around the world, playing at major festivals (including this year’s FYF Fest in LA) and garnering acclaim from some of the world’s most respected musicians. His new found global success is apparently a bit perplexing to Souleyman, but from a quick listen of Wenu Wenu, his latest release produced by Four-Tet, you can understand exactly what grabs people about this music, even if they don’t speak Kurdish or Arabic. It is wildly infectious, upbeat party music…and the power of good party music knows no bounds.


Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit

Whew! I’m not sure how I slept on Gregory Porter, but I’m thankful I caught up, more or less in time for his debut Blue Note release (third full-length overall since 2011), Liquid Spirit. Dude sounds like the love child of Ray Charles and Les McCann as you’ll hear on the title cut. Don’t make my mistake…don’t sleep on Mr. Porter!


tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjo, & Akua Naru – Lady

Been meaning to post this for some time (grading kicked my ass all up and down the street the last couple of weeks. This is now the 2nd collection from the Red Hot organization, which does very fine work around the world on AIDS awareness, to feature the music of Nigerian legend Fela Kuti. In my opinion this one is a consistent improvement over the previous version which had more star power, but less quality. Here we find Baloji, M1 from Dead Prez, LA’s very own KING, master drummer Tony Allen, Sahr Ngaujah (who played Fela in the broadway musical), Kronos Quartet and members of My Morning Jacket, TV on The Radio and the Alabama Shakes paying tribute to the originator of Afrobeat. For me, the most interesting track is this version of “Lady,” the original of which had a killer rhythm but VERY troublesome lyrics denigrating African women who take on “western” aspects of femininity. With Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru primarily on the vocals (along with Merrill from tUnE-yArDs) the lyrics become more playful and a song that could be described as “anti-feminist” becomes a feminist anthem. Highly recommended.


Frootful feat. Mazan Bedwei – The Road

Because of the fact that there is no working library at KPFK, I tend to figure out everything I’m going to play for my show, vinyl, CD, mp3′s, etc., and burn all of the music for the 2 hours onto a couple of CD-Rs. As I’m driving around Los Angeles I’ll often listen to songs from previous shows, and for quite some time my player has been stuck on this track from UK soulsters Frootful. So much of the appeal of the song for me occurs in the opening couple of seconds. By choosing to have Mazen Bedwei’s smoother than smooth vocals begin the song accapella, it gives the song an attention grabbing quality that as soon as the groove hits you’re fully hooked. I really don’t feel nearly as strongly about the rest of the material on the LP, but I will say this, in addition to having one of my favorite songs of the year, Heavyweight will likely be the runaway winner on the cutest record cover of the year.

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