Friday, February 25, 2011

Sofrito DJs and Quantic bring the tropical heat

If you're reading this posting, chances are you're not among the lucky few to escape the February blahs with a timely island getaway. Well, deep digging UK DJs Hugo Mendez (compiler of Soundway's sizzling Tumbélé set), Frankie Francis and some dude known as the Mighty Crime Minister – who formed the Sofrito party collective in East London back in 2005 – are bringing the heat to beat the winter doldrums with Tropical Discotheque (Strut).
It's a brilliantly bangin' 15-track double vinyl set of Colombian cumbia, salsa and porro joints alongside some heavy-hitting West African soukous, highlife and Afrobeat grooves with a touch of Trindadian soca-disco, topped off with a bit of gwo ka moderne and cadence-lypso from the French Antilles – essentially a sweaty Sofrito party on plastic. Check out the Tropical Discotheque link below to hear a mini-mix preview.
In addition to the vintage floor-fillers from Nigerian ekassa ace Victor Uwaifo, Lisandro Meza's Banda Los Hijos De La Nina Luz, Benin's Gnonnas Pedro, the Roaring Lion, Ghanian guitar great Safohene Djeni, Mighty Shadow and Adolfo Echeverria, Tropical Discotheque also presents an otherwise unreleased costeño-style cumbia cooker from Quantic y su Conjunto Los Miticos del Ritmo that fits so seamlessly in the mix you'd never know it was a recently recorded composition from Will Holland.
The bandleader/composer/producer extraordinaire of Flowering Inferno notoriety, who has been living in Colombia since 2007 and helped assemble the forthcoming Soundway comp Cartagena! Curro Fuentes & The Big Band Cumbia and Descarga Sound of Colombia 1962-1972 (due February 28 – see links below), will be reverting to his DJ Quantic guise to spin his latest tropical funk finds at A Man Called Warwick's Turning Point party on Saturday (February 26) at The Garrison (1197 Dundas West) which has been paralleling in Toronto what Mendez and pals have been doing with their Sofrito nights in London. Evidently, that Quantic hombre is looking forward to Saturday's Turning Point throwdown as much as anyone in the GTA.
“Turning Point is one of my favourite club nights of all time," wrote Holland on his site. "It prides itself on using a big sound system to present some of the best recorded music on vinyl only –  CDs are forbidden. It is held on a monthly basis in Toronto, Canada and it's truly unique with a focus on playing warm, vibrant and all-resonating tropical rhythms. If you’re ever in town, I heartily recommend it. The combination of these three things is irresistible: dark room, bass heavy sound & soulful analogue recorded music. The session resident and host is A Man called Warwick and past selectors include DJ Paulo Superfly, Miles Cleret and myself among others.”  

Sofrito - Tropical Discotheque (Strut)
01. Banda Los Hijos De La Nina Luz – Quiero Amanecer
02. Les Ya Toupas Du Zaire – Je Ne Bois Pas Beaucoup
03. Frente Cumbiero – Pitchito
04. Fair Nick Stars – Arrete Mal Parle
05. Kyerematen Stars – Maye Obi Den
06. Víctor Uwaifo – Ohue (Frankie Francis & Simbad Edit)
07. Adolfo Echeverria – Sabroso Bacalao
08. El Timba – Descarga Bontempi
09. Mighty Shadow – Dat Soca Boat
10. Dany Play – Fa’waka
11. Safohene Djeni – Mahu Wo Asie
12. Ti Celeste – Popilation Basse-Terrienne Du Abois
13. Quantic Y Su Conjunto Los Míticos Del Ritmo – Cumbia De Mochilla
14. Roaring Lion – Carnival Long Ago
15. Gnonnas Pedro – Yiri Yiri Boum

Sofrito: The Tropical Discotheque Story

To get you properly primed for Quantic's highly anticipated Turning Point return, here's a dope mix which DJ Philippe Noël (who co-runs Montreal's Canicule Tropicale monthly) put together from the vinyl treasures he uncovered on a recent digging trip from Bogota to Barranquilla. With killer tracks from Afrosound, Enrique Lynch, Peregoyo y su Combo Vacana, Los Corraleros, Afredo Guitierrez, Banda 19 de Marzo, and Mr. Trombone among others, it's a tasty selection of salsa and cumbia swingers.
Too much goodness? There's a Hugo Mendez mix in the links below which should help your digestion boasting choice cuts from Catalina y su Gran Combo, the Cyril Diaz Orchestra, Beddoe’s Limbo Orchestra, La Sonora Cordobesa, Ibo Combo, Eskill & Vicky avec Orchestre Poly Rythmo, Super Combo, Black Truth Rhythm Band, Etoile Number One and Toronto's own calypso king Elsworth James!

Sofrito site
Tropical Discotheque Mini-mix
Cartagena! stream
Quantic site
Turning Point
Hugo Mendez's Musique Pour Aider La Digestion Mix

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Verlaines, Flying Nun turn 30

Believe it or not, three decades have passed since Roger Shepherd started up New Zealand's fabulous Flying Nun label. Coincidentally, it was also in 1981 that Graeme Downes founded The Verlaines in Dunedin. With word now that Downes is putting the finishing touches on a new Verlaines album, it seems worthwhile to look back at the development of the Dunedin scene which spawned many of the amazing groups that helped launch Flying Nun globally, inspiring countless artists, from Pavement to Guided By Voices and Barbara Manning to the late Jay Reatard. Here are a couple of clips which document the South Island origins of New Zealand's influential musical exports The Clean, The Chills, The Bats and The Verlaines whose members are still musically active today.

Friends Of The Enemy

Getting Older by The Clean 1981

Flamethrower by The Chills 1982

Pyromaniac by The Verlaines 1984

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Format and Sureshot back in b-boy style

Having previously collaborated on the decidedly dope Lungbutters (DWG) underground hip-hop mixtape in 2008, world-class vinyl hounds DJ Format and Sureshot La Rock of Diggers With Gratitude notoriety have reunited for a new project.
This time, the Virginia-raised crate robber formeriy known as Legit gets to test his microphone technique on a few old-school style joints finely crafted by Brighton's baddest b-boy for a new DJ Format album.
The good news is that while Sureshot seems to have retained the golden age values of his favorite early 90s random rap classics heard on Lungbutters, he has definitely honed his skills since the 1994 release of his Mr. Len produced Junglez Of The East b/w Buddah Bless Finess single on Libra as the two resulting bangers Mr. DJ and Dope Pusher – are just as sick as the Sleeping Bag-inspired throwback sleeve design on the five-track 12"EP for Project Blue Book. Can't wait to hear Format's new album. 

Dope Pusher

Mr. DJ

Here Comes The Dope Pusher

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coming This Way: Bare Wires, T-Pain, Hunx...

Along with the announcement of a second solo soiree by Wilco's idea guy Jeff Tweedy at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre added for Wednesday, March 23, there's word of new show dates for Sade and John Legend together at the ACC in June while the Sound Academy hosts T-Pain in March followed by Queens Of The Stone Age performing the stoner rock jams from their 1998 self-titled debut for Man's Ruin (which Domino is reissuing on March 1). As well, Hunx & His Punx will be at the Horseshoe, Wye Oak at the El Mo, Bare Wires at Parts & Labour and there are two more church gigs for those Timber Timbre heathens in Peterborough and Hamilton. Speaking of using religious spaces for less-than-holy purposes, some goomer from Neutral Milk Hotel is playing Trinity St. Paul's in August so Pitchfork followers might want to look into that before tickets sell out. For all the latest info on cool concerts coming this way, check the Early Warning listings (right).  

Seeking Love by Bare Wires    

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dengue Fever's new album and secret weapon

Along with the details of Dengue Fever's forthcoming Fantasy label debut Cannibal Courtship – set for release April 19 – the new musical weapon of the Los Angeles-based Cambodian rock rippers is being showcased on the album's sleeve: a unique double-necked hybrid of a Fender Jazzmaster and a traditional Khmer two-stringed Chapei Dong Veng which has been cleverly dubbed the Mastadong. So move over Junior Brown, Rick Neilsen, Jimmy Page, Mike Rutherford, Steve Vai, Alex Lifeson, John Lodge and fellow masters of multi-necked monstrosities, Dengue Fever guitarist Zac Holtzman has just made the world of show-off string slingers a little more crowded.  
The novelty of Holtzman's visually impressive custom-made axe will no doubt draw a slew of curious guitar geeks out to see Dengue Fever on their upcoming west coast tour, which begins with an album launch party at L.A.'s Troubadour on April 19, however the main attraction remains their charismatic singer Chhom Nimol whose wonderfully enchanting voice is backed on Dengue Fever's eclectic 11-song recording by the gorgeous harmonies of Inara George, Becky Stark and new mom Eleni Mandell also known as the Living Sisters. You'll get a better idea of what Dengue Fever have conjured up by previewing the album here. You can also download the song Cement Slippers from Cannibal Courtship for free below.  

Cannibal Courtship (Fantasy)
1. Cannibal Courtship 4:34    
2. Cement Slippers 3:35  
3. Uku 5:16    
4. Family Business 3:38
5. Only A Friend 4:58    
6. Sister in the Radio 4:07    
7. 2012 (Bury Our Heads) 3:50    
8. Kiss of the Bufo Alvarius 3:36
9. Thank You Goodbye 4:20    
10. Mr. Bubbles 4:20    
11. Durian Dowry 4:30

Dengue Fever Tour Dates
4/19  Record Release Party @ The Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA
4/20  The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA
4/22  Dante’s - Portland, OR
4/23  The Biltmore Cabaret - Vancouver, BC
4/24  The Crocodile - Seattle, WA
4/27  Moe’s Alley - Santa Cruz, CA
4/28  SoHo - Santa Barbara, CA
4/29  The Casbah - San Diego, CA
4/30  Detroit Bar - Costa Mesa, CA
5/5    The Loft - Dallas, TX
5/6    Emo’s - Austin, TX
5/7    Fitzgerald’s - Houston, TX


Monday, February 7, 2011

Cool clip of the week: New Pornographers

Along with the New Pornographers announcement of a 13-date Spring tour with The Walkmen  – the closest they'll get to Toronto is a Buffalo stop at the Town Ballroom on April 25 (see Early Warning listings at right) –  the Canuck supergroup has decided to stop messing around and call in the big guns for their latest video clip. 
Directed by comedian/writer and WFMU radio host Tom Scharpling (who notably shot videos for Ted Leo's Colleen and Bottled In Cork), the brilliant clip for the Together track Moves presents an alternate view of the "rise and rise" of the New Pornographers. The all-star cast includes Ted Leo, Horatio Sanz, The Daily Show's John Hodgman, John Oliver and Wyatt Cenac, with Neko Case portrayed by author/blogger Julie Klausner (I Don't Care About Your Band) and Superchunk cut-up Jon Wurster doing a fine job in the role of fearless leader Carl Newman – presumably Glen Hansard was busy that day.
It all gets underway with an inspired trailer spoof involving Bill Hader and Paul Rudd...

Moves by The New Pornographers

Drive-By Truckers get their groove on

The notion of doing a concept album might seem strangely out-of-step with the dramatic shifts in the way people are now buying and listening to music but that makes no difference to the Drive-By Truckers who've made a decent career out of recording their grandiose visions and they aren't stopping anytime soon. Their latest creation, Go-Go Boots (ATO) – out February 15 –  is nowhere near the epic proportions of 2001's Southern Rock Opera or even 2004's The Dirty South yet the album similarly employs a song-cycle approach in which character-driven vignettes are used to detail a distinctly Southern narrative. The difference with Go-Go Boots is less thematic than geographical in that they're now focusing specifically on the Northern region of Alabama where the songwriting Truckers' Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Shonna Tucker grew up. But don't worry, the folks who inhabit these songs are every bit as troubled, ornery or flat-out crazy as you'd encounter on any other Drive-By Truckers recording.

Perhaps most important of all, Muscle Shoals is the locus of the album's musical inspiration as the Alabama home of Rick Hall's FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (chiefly Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett and David Hood who is Patterson's father) behind countless classic recordings by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, the Staple Singers, Arthur Alexander, Johnnie Taylor, Clarence Carter, Tony Joe White and anyone else looking to enrich their recording with a Southern feel. Consequently Go-Go Boots takes a sharp turn away from the full-on rock attack of last year's The Big To-Do in a move towards a downtempo groove-oriented approach associated with the archetypal Muscle Shoals sound of the 60s. It's a brilliant move so masterfully executed it makes you wonder why they haven't tried this before but perhaps Hood and company needed a few years to grow into this concept.

With three prolific writers in the band, the Truckers have never needed to include any cover material on their studio albums. But Go-Go Boots being their love letter to Muscle Shoals, they've appropriately cut two sweet songs by the late great singer/songwriter and session guitarist Eddie Hinton, Everybody Needs Love and Where's Eddie, which don't seem at all out of place on the new album. Those hoping for their fix of guitar-blazing anthems to shout along with may be disappointed with the overall laidback vibe but Go-Go Boots is nevertheless the Truckers' most soulfully mature work yet and stands near the top of their career accomplishments.The video interview and song clips included below, shot by Jason Thrasher, will give you a better idea of what Go-Go Boots is all about.

It should also be noted that the Truckers have put together a limited-run bonus EP called Sometimes Late At Night to be given away free with the purchase of Go-Go Boots on February 15 at participating independent record stores. The six-song collection includes their cover of Vic Chesnutt's When I Ran Off And Left Her cut during the Go-Go Boots sessions along with live versions of Used To Be A Cop, Everybody Needs Love, Get Downtown, Mercy Buckets and a smokin' 10 minute-plus medley of Buttholeville and State Trooper with help from Cody Dickinson of the North Missisippi All Stars.

As an addendum, anyone interested in checking out Eddie Hinton's own incredible recordings should start with tracking down 1978's Very Extremely Dangerous (Capricorn), 1986's Letters From Mississippi (Mobile Fidelity) and 1999's Hard Luck Guy (Zane). 

Go-Go Boots (ATO) 
1. "I Do Believe" (Hood)
2. "Go-Go Boots" (Hood)
3. "Dancin’ Ricky" (Tucker)
4. "Cartoon Gold" (Cooley)
5. "Ray’s Automatic Weapon" (Hood)
6. "Everybody Needs Love" (Hinton)
7. "Assholes" (Hood)
8. "The Weakest Man" (Cooley)
9. "Used To Be A Cop" (Hood)
10. "The Fireplace Poker" (Hood)
11. "Where’s Eddie" (Hinton)
12. "The Thanksgiving Filter" (Hood)
13. "Pulaski" (Cooley)
14. "Mercy Buckets" (Hood)
15. "I Hear You Hummin'" (Tucker) (bonus track - vinyl only)

Go-Go Boots Preview

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

SF's Fresh & Onlys hit Parts & Labour April 21

Waterfall by The Fresh & Onlys

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brave a blizzard for the Decemberists?

With the threat of a massive snow storm bearing down on Toronto this evening, it's understandable why some fans of the Decemberists – even those with tickets to tonight's highly anticipated show at the Sound Academy – are having second thoughts about leaving the house. Let's face it, as engaging as Colin Meloy and company can be in concert, no one really wants to be caught in a blizzard at the corner of Cherry and Polson waiting for a cab after 1 am with a few hundred bearded strangers.
Of course, many will brave the 30 cm blast to find out whether the songs off the Decemberists' Billboard chart-topping new album The King Is Dead sound any more or less like R.E.M. when they're performed live but for those who'd rather sit this one out, nyctaper has thoughtfully made available their excellent recording of the group's final show of their three-night stand at the Beacon Theatre in New York from last week which you can download for free (see LINKS below the clip).

Down By The Water on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jan. 20, 2011

Decemberists site
Live at the Beacon Theatre 01-26-2011