Melting Pot

Archive for the ‘Heavy Rotation’ category

Sakamoto

Shintaro Sakamoto – Extremely Bad Man

You should have seen how far I flipped out when I found out that Shintaro Sakamoto had a new record in 2014. Just a couple years removed from his amazing debut solo release In A Phantom Mood, Sakamoto has returned with a just as satisfying sophomore release, Let’s Dance Raw. To his pitch perfect melding of 1980/90s rare groove and 1970s glam rock, Sakamoto added a super twangy, almost Hawaiian guitar that gives most of the songs, even the ones that seem to have a heavier lyrical content, such as “Extremely Bad Man,” a breezy nature. By far the most interesting song, and one that stylistically sounds very different than the other tracks on the album, is “You Can Be A Robot, Too.” For a 7″ release, Sakamoto re-recorded the song with vocals from the Kamome Children’s Choir. Having the kids sing Sakamoto’s cautionary and satirical lyrics, “Let’s be new robots, it will free you from anxiety and nihilism,” in a joyous fashion seems to soften the fact that something just seems wrong about people wanting to become robots, especially as a larger and larger percentage of the population hops on board. As with some of his prior songs, Sakamoto animated the music video for “You Can Be A Robot, Too” and it’s a marvel to behold, just like the song and everything else the man touches.

Afrosound2

Afrosound – Banana De Queso

Vampi Soul took their sweet time getting us a second volume of funky, psychedelic, Afro-cumbia sounds out of 1970s Colombia, but four years after Volume 1, we now have Volume 2 and it’s just as good if not better than the original. Afrosound is a title given over to a number of groups on the Disco Fuentes label who created music in response to the more rocking Chicha sounds coming out of Peru. With multiple tracks from heavyweights Wganda Kenya, Fruko y Sus Tesos, Lisandro Mesa and the group Afrosound themselves, there is simply no way you’ll be able to sit still once you drop the needle (or laser or click or however you listen to music these days) on these 24 songs.

AlloDarlin

Allo Darlin – Heartbeat

Given that 2012’s Europe was one of my favorite records of that year (with an all-timer in the end of Summer pensive pop of “Tallulah”) it’s no real surprise that the latest from this London based group fronted by Aussie Elizabeth Morris is also pleasing to my ears. While the style hasn’t changed dramatically from their previous work, it’s clear that the band is broadening their indie-pop sound and adding depth that wasn’t present earlier. It becomes clear immediately when you hear the lead track from the new album, “Heartbeat,” that despite the title, the band is not coming from the same place as before. It’s a richer sound for an already sugary sweet outfit, that retains all of the charm of the earlier recordings and thankfully losing nothing.

CavernSound

Bulbous Creation – End Of The Page

Numero Group rarely disappoints and the latest in their “Local Customs” series is yet another winner. This third release in the series collects tracks recorded at the aptly named Cavern Sound studio, which was actually located underground at a Limestone Quarry in Independence, Missouri. While some heavy hitters recorded at “The Cave” (including James Brown), this collection focuses on a number of lesser known acts that recorded on the Cave, Rock, Cavern and Pearce record labels that were run by the assorted characters associated with the Cavern Sound. Probably my favorite (aside from the dripping Acid psych of Stone Wall) comes from Bulbous Creation and their pastorally pleasing track “End Of The Page.” I’d heard a few tracks from this band, much harder-edged, but the slow burn of this one really grabbed me. It’s not exactly representative of the sound of this collection, but it definitely represents the quality.

BudosBurnt

Budos Band – Burnt Offering

The Budos Band has built a reputation over the years as purveyors of dark and heavy Afro-funk. Nothing in their previous three albums could have prepared fans for the heavy waves of darkness on their fourth album Burnt Offering. As the cover art indicates, the Budos boys are making clear allusions to the early 1970s “Wizard Rock” heavy psych / proto metal sounds of Black Sabbath or Dust and it certainly shows up in the sound. It’s a heavy, grittier, tougher sound, one that still has echoes of previous records, but charts a new and exciting course for the band. “Burnt Offering” sounds like a mythic example of the instrumental backing tracks of the Sabbath album we all wish David Axelrod had produced. Though the band had a signature sound and a safe place in the neo-funk upper echelons, this change in tone, theme and sound is a most welcome change indeed.

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:

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