Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Heavy Rotation’ category

SheridanHouse

Something Unique – This Feeling Between Us

Still on hiatus from the radio show for at least another week, but at least this week, we’ll have a fair amount of music and other goodies for y’all folks…starting the week of right is this new collection put out by Ubiquity records and compiled by DJ Sureshot. There probably isn’t a city that is more associated with the modern soul/boogie renaissance of the last several years than Los Angeles, and aside from all the fine work of Dam Funk and his Funkmosphere crew, Boogie music has a very 1980s LA feel. Sheridan House was one of a number of local labels that put out the funky stuff toward the end of the 1970s and early 1980s. At 27 tracks, there’s a ton of music to digest, some of which repurposes beats from other songs, but even those “versions” are enjoyable on their own merits. While I love the “sophisticated boogie,” I particularly dig the slower tracks on this album. Something Unique’s “This Feeling Between Us,” is just a shade reminiscent of the classic “You Can’t Turn Me Away” and since it was released a year later in 1981, it’s quite possible that that’s deliberate. If you dig this sound (and I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t love this sound) I’m sure you’ll dig on this collection.

JFIRE

Jungle Fire – Tropicoso

First heard about Jungle Fire a couple years ago, when Oliver Wang of Soul-Sides.com was raving about their first single, “Comencemos,” a cover of Phirpo y Sus Caribes (covering Fela Kuti). I’d recently heard the original and while they two shared a number of sensibilities and style, that new version seemed tougher and tighter rhythmically. A couple of 45s for the Colemine label followed and whet our appetites for the main course, their debut album, just released by Latin-Alt label Nacional. Like a number of funky groups in the LA area, Jungle Fire shares a few members with other bands, but together their style is all their own. The band’s stock and trade is a muscular, heavy Afro Latin Funk sound. Tropicoso features the previous singles as well as a number of other originals that showcase the varied talents and inspirations of the group. “Tropicoso” starts off with a bit of a cumbia feel to it, until the drums and horns kick in and suddenly it’s become the all-star recording session that you always wished Fruko y Sus Tesos and Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive had recorded in the early 1970s. That sound never really existed, at least not until now with Jungle Fire and that’s part of the beauty of the band in this post-Hip-Hop musical landscape, the ability to mix styles and sounds in a way that pays homage to the past, but keeps things moving forward.

SOMAY

Souls Of Mischief w/ Adrian Younge – All You Got Is Your Word

Word hit late last year that Adrian Younge, fresh off of collaborations with Ghostface Killah and William Hart of the Delfonics, was working with Oakland’s Souls Of Mischief in a musical match made in heaven. All year long we got bits and pieces of information but finally here in September the fruits of that partnership were released. There Is Only Now is a concept record that takes initial inspiration from an actual event that occurred to the members of the band in 1994 where someone came up to them outside a club and began shooting. The first real track (not including the Warriors styled interlude featuring Ali Shaheed Muhammad that begins the album), “Time Stopped” is the closest to a “real” account of that incident, but the rest of the album unfolds like a thriller with Busta Rhymes showing up as the villian “Womack” and an assortment of other characters being added into the story. “All You Got Is Your Word,” is one of the few tracks that could stand on it’s own, in some ways as the perfect statement for the Souls Of Mischief and the greater Hieroglyphics crew. 20+ years in the game and still breaking the boundaries of the genre and exceeding expectations, Souls Of Mischief does not disappoint. Nor does Adrian Younge, whose legend continues to grow with each record. One of the finest releases of 2014.

Lewis

Lewis – Romance For Two

Being swamped by all the work associated with a new semester, with a new schedule and a new class meant that there was quite a bit of music that I was a bit late on. This is one that virtually everyone was late on to begin with. Lewis porduced this private press album in the 1980s. Very few copies were pressed, very few people paid any attention. As is often the case, crate-diggers came to rescue of this album, championing it informally until it finally ended up into the hands of some of the peeps at Light In The Attic. I haven’t checked to see if they’ve fully solved the mystery behind Lewis, but there ain’t no mystery about how good this music is. I’ve taken to describing it as what would have happened if John Martyn had recorded with Mark Hollis, very very very late at night. When it’s good, it’s REALLY f**king good, as is the case with “Romance For Two.”

Siam2

Rome Sithammarat – Sao New Look

Sound of Siam Vol. 1 was a complete revelation when Soundway released it a few years ago. I didn’t really expect a follow-up, nor did I expect that the follow-up would be even better than the original…but it is. If “Sao New Look” doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what would, this one is highly necessary.

Hacheros

Los Hacheros – Toma Tu Pilon

{I know it must have seemed like I just retired after that Minutemen tribute, but I’ve just been insanely busy with the start of this new semester teaching at Long Beach. Things have calmed down, so her comes the flood of posts to catch us back up}

Quite a number of retro-styled bands around these days that if you didn’t do your due diligence, you’d mistake them for the “real” thing. Los Hacheros are a latin combo out of New York with a fantastic sound that draws upon some old-school styles ala Arsenio Rodriguez. It’s that guitar sound that really makes you pay attention but once you get into everything Los Hacheros have to offer, you can easily see why Daptone swooped them up.

Print

Kasai All-Stars – The Ploughman (Le Laboureur)

The Congotronics series put out by Crammed Discs has been one of the most ear-opening experiences of the last few years, highlighting contemporary music out of the Congo. Kasai All-Stars have finally released their latest entry into the series, following up from one of the best releases of 2008 with Beware The Fetish. The band hasn’t lost any of it’s verve, or it’s penchant for unusually long titles (the best one this time around is “As They Walked Into the Forest on a Sunday, They Encountered Apes Dressed As Humans”). Great representation of the incredible sounds coming out of Africa today.

They’ve even made a video for the song, “The Chief’s Enthronement” and it’s every bit as fantastic as you’d expect:

FindingFela

Fela Kuti – Viva Nigeria

Last week we played you an interview with Adam Kahan, who’s made a brilliant documentary, long in the making, for Rahsaan Roland Kirk. This week we’re highlighting another, by all accounts, exceptional documentary, just released on the life of the legendary Fela Kuti. Fela has enjoyed quite a resurgence in popularity over the last several years. Virtually all of his records are back in print, multiple Afro-beat outfits from Antibalas in NYC to Mexico 68 here in LA, have popped up to pay tribute to his sound and to top it all off, there was even a well regarded Broadway show in his honor. Finding Fela comes to us in the midst of this Fela-surgence. The soundtrack does its best to provide a cross-section of Fela’s career, opting to provide largely vocal edits of songs that in their original versions run from 15-30 minutes in length. “Viva Nigeria” is a very early track, recorded here in LA while Fela was in the States, having his consciousness raised and coming up with blueprint for his signature Afro-Beat style. The soundtrack also features a few tracks recorded by the “Fela! Band” which is essentially an all-star outfit based out of the Broadway show. All in all, it’s a nice introduction to those who are still new to Fela’s music and a great sing/dance-a-long collection for those of us who have been grooving to Fela for years and years.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer for the film, Finding Fela:

BrownSabbath

Brownout – Hand Of Doom

Adrian Quesada’s Latin Psych Funk outfit Brownout + the music of Black Sabbath…do I really need to say anything else??? Didn’t think so…Rock on!

EWH

Electric Wire Hustle – Bottom Line

First heard of Electric Wire Hustle while at KCRW, when Mathieu Schreyer and Anthony Valadez received music from them, started playing it and soon enough most of DJs at the station were playing music from this soulful group out of New Zealand. Fast forward six years later and the group is readying their second full-length due to be released in the fall. To tease us a bit they’ve released this four song EP, featuring brand new originals “Bottom Line” and “If These Are The Last Days,” plus one remix for each from Flako and Eliphino. I didn’t catch the EWH wave the first time around, but I’m all aboard this time. Electric Wire Hustle is yet another example of the really stellar simultaneously backward/forward thinking soul music getting created outside of the US (Quadron and Hiatus Kaiyote, both bands AntVala had a hand in breaking, being the best recent examples). We’ll see what other treasures the full-length album holds, but if it’s even half as good as these two tracks, it will definitely place highly on my list of the Best of 2014.

By the way, they’ve also created a gorgeous nature filled video for “If These Are The Last Days” that you should check out:

DiscoDuro

Los Disco Duro – Te Lo Creo

There’s been a wave of really nice brand new tracks on vinyl of late.  This one comes to us from the artist formerly known as DJ Ryan at KALX and currently known as Roger Más.  He has a new project called Los Disco Duro, that builds on his previous Nu-Cumbia work under his own name and expands it into a style the boys are calling Sonido Robótico.  For this debut 45, they’ve reconstructed two classic cumbias, “Te Lo Creo” and “Muchachada,” into synth heavy, club ready bangers with robotic vocoder vocals.  While these sounds clearly would find a good home on most latin dance nights, they update to the classic cumbia sound also makes it real easy to throw into most any set where you want to get the people moving.  Hoping for much more from this project in the coming months & years!

MilesTackett

Miles Tackett – Everything

{Tomorrow Night (Thursday July 10th) Miles Tackett is having his record release party over at the Bootleg Bar, performing with his backing band “The Three Times” along with Mexico 68, Luther Russell and yours truly spinning some tunes throughout the night!!!}

“Music Man” Miles is perhaps best known as the driving force behind the mighty Breakestra. He’s also well known around these parts for two legendary nights, Root Down (currently on hiatus, though occasionally getting together as the Root Down Sound System) and Funky Sole (still growing strong every Saturday at the Echo). Recently he debuted a new project, Miles Tackett & the 3 Times, releasing music under his own name for the first time in a long long time via the just released album The Fool Who Wonders. For fans of his other projects, the tunes on this album may be a bit of a surprise. First off, while Miles handles a lot of the instruments on the recording, his work on guitar is featured most prominently. There are some definite nods to Hendrix, but Miles’ style is maybe a bit more akin to Stevie Ray Vaughan in his more Hendrix inspired moments, though it really doesn’t sound like either man explicitly (that makes more sense sonically than it might on paper, as you can hear on “Everything” above, or “One More Time” on the album). It’s not a straight funk sound as some might expect given Breakestra’s history, instead it’s more of a soulful rockin’ style that also has roots in his Laurel Canyon upbringing. The other surprise is Miles’ singing voice, something that I don’t think I’d heard until he started performing this solo material. There’s a real tenderness that comes out of his singing, particularly because of the phrasing where many of the ends of his words hang around, that reminds me a bit of Buddy Miles’ early work, while again retaining a sound all its own. It’s something that you hear on the mellower tracks like “Come Away,” “Paradise” or the cover of “Everybody’s Been Burned,” but you still hear it even when the band kicks it up a notch, as they do on “Everything.” That ability to seamlessly mix together a variety of different elements is one of the strengths of his previous work as a DJ and with Breakestra, and it’s something that is just as welcome here as Miles emerges with his a sound all his own.

As a bonus, here’s the video for the first single from the album, “Just What I Need”:

UndergroundMelting

Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot

I was very very very happy to run into another version of “Melting Pot,” one that I’d never even heard of, recently courtesy of the legendary Danny Holloway. Of late, Holloway has been issuing/reissuing hard to find music via his label Ximeno Records. Just ahead of the recent Beat Swap Meet, he sent a message that he would be there with this 45, and I immediately put in a reservation for a copy. Since I had to run to do my show on KPFK, I missed him that day, but was able to track him down before a recent gig at Dub Lab. Underground Vegetables’ version of “Melting Pot” on this 45 is shortest of any of the other versions (also considerably shorter than the version that can be found on Studio One Funk put out by the good folks at Soul Jazz Records), but it’s just as tasty as Boris Gardiner’s verison, with some interesting subtle changes to the sound of the original. On the flipside of this 45 is another rare cut, “Gonna Get U,” from Grace Jackson. Though this has a pretty straight reggae vibe, the track was actually recorded in Nigeria! Both tracks are most welcome additions into my collection as the summer of 2014 gets off to a fantastic start.

BetaClub

The Beat Club – Brassa Nova

Brand new music from a fairly new collective of musicians with roots in the UK, Paris and the USA. The Beta Club most notably features Shawn Lee, doing what he does, but also features at least 9 or 10 other musicians and DJs, including Steve Haney of LA’s Jungle Fire. Headed up by UK DJ Sten La’ Ren and repped by the Paris DJs crew, the Beta Club produces a sound that might be best described as “Sinister Library Afro-Latin Psych Funk.” That might seem like a mouthful, but as soon as you hear “Brassa Nova,” and especially the flipside “Freak Beat,” from their recently released debut 45, you’ll see how it perfectly encapsulates the group. Not sure if this group will ever perform live or tour or even record any more music, but this one’s a keeper and well worth tracking down.

FieldsEmma

Lee Fields & the Expressions – Still Gets Me Down

{Lee Fields and the Expressions perform at the Troubadour on June 28th here in Los Angeles!}

Lee Fields’ 2009 record My World is one of my favorite “retro-soul” records of the last 10 years. Faithful Man was a decent follow-up, but it probably wasn’t possible for me to fully appreciate that record coming after all the highs of My World. With the newly released Emma Jean, Lee Fields keeps the fires burning with a mostly mid/slower tempo record backed by the Expressions with a sound that sounds to my ears to be fuller and richer than with Faithful Man. Gone are many of the 70s sweet soul flourishes from the previous album, and we have a return to a more “southern soul” style of production, that better fits all the “Little JB” qualities of Fields voice, many of which are fully on display here on “Still Gets Me Down.” Stately work from a true soul survivor.

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