Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Historic Heat: John Gilmore & Lee Morgan

The Egyptian by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers (1966)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Alejandro Escovedo unplugged in St. Louis

Down In The Bowery


The Thing blasts @ The Tranzac Sunday!

The Thing in Bucharest Dec. 9, 2010

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pining for real country music in Toronto

An authentic sounding traditional country song was the last thing I expected to hear on a label survey put out by Toronto-based indie operation Blocks Recording Club, let alone one as neatly written and brilliantly arranged as She's Gone by The Pining. Of course, not sounding remotely like anything by Final Fantasy, PDF Format, The Blanket, Shadow Self or The Torrent is exactly what made the all-female ensemble's jarring contribution to Building Blocks Singles Club, Volume 1 so memorable. You can check it out right here and have a look at the video for She's Gone below. 

As I later discovered, the tunes She's Gone and Life Ain't Fair were just two of a number of great original songs the Pining had written since coming together two years earlier out of a shared appreciation for the Carter Family, Hazel Dickens, Patsy Cline, Freakwater and Jameson's Irish Whiskey – not necessarily in that order. Those two and three more Pining faves have since been posted on CBC's Radio 3 site (which you can visit right here) which prove that She's Gone wasn't a fluke.

I'm pleased to report that The Pining have maintained the same high standard of quality control for their fantastic Adam Bell-produced debut album for Blocks which you can pick up at their record release party with tonight (Friday, June 24) at the El Mocambo. The Pining plan to take the stage at 11:30 pm but be sure to arrive in time to catch opening sets by Coole & Downes, the engaging partnership of primo picker Chris Coole and singer/songwriter Simone Downes at 9:30 pm followed by a rare acoustic set from catl at 10:30 pm. Tickets are $10 at the door or $7 in advance if there are any left at Soundscapes or Rotate This.  
NOTE: Those who prefer their country music on vinyl should grab a copy of The Pining album on the double – there were only 300 copies pressed of the LP which was superbly mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market.

She's Gone by The Pining

The Pining
Blocks Recording Club

One For The Weekend: Smoove & Turrell

If ever there was a number made to measure for ?uestlove's Thursday night Bowl Train party at Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY) it's Slow Down, the latest single from fast-rising Geordie soul tandem Smoove & Turrell.
Not only does the uptempo floor-filler have the precisely the right funky 70s throwback vibe to rock The Roots' drummer's weekly DJ event showcasing classic Soul Train clips in the popular Williamsburg hipster hang out, Richard Hadley's video for Slow Down is set in a damn bowling alley! How he ever managed to get Seth Rogan to play the role of singer John "Smokey" Turrell for the shoot, we'll never know but it's a snazzy piece of work.
You should also know that Wass Records has released a white label seven-inch version of the Slow Down single b/w Hard Work in a limited edition of 400 copies as a preview of the dynamic duo's second album Eccentric Audio out now right here

Slow Down by Smoove & Turrell

Interview with Smoove & Turrell

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Truckers' Late Show salute to Eddie Hinton

Everybody Needs Love by Drive-By Truckers

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Celebrating Nick Drake's birthday

River Man by Brad Mehldau

Friday, June 17, 2011

First look at Premo doc For Promotional Use Only

Bo-Keys enlist soul greats for Got To Get Back!

One thing I've never understood about the soul revival game is why record collector geeks with studio access and their own labels consistently choose to work with relatively mediocre singers when exceptionally great performers who've had respectable recording careers in the 60s and 70s are left to watch nature programs at home with the sound turned off. country is a guilty pleasure that they wouldn't want their friends to know about.
Whether it's due to their ignorance, laziness or just the simple economics of not wanting to pay for real vocal talent when a competent singer who lives in the neighborhood will suffice, the whole sad situation has been more than a bit perplexing. That's why it was so very heartening to learn that Memphis-based producer/composer/bandleader Scott Bomar (Hustle & Flow) had enlisted genuine deep soul heavyweights Otis Clay, William Bell and Percy Wiggins to add some belting power to his new Bo-Keys album Got To Get Back! (Electraphonic Records) set for release June 21.
                                                                                            Otis Clay
if you're trying to make authentic sounding soul recordings, why not call in some hombres who've racked up years of studio experience making memorable soul records. That's exactly what Bomar did by bolstering his band hit-making session vets like guitarist Charles "Skip" Pitts (who created the unforgettable wah-wah guitar intro to Isaac Hayes' Theme from Shaft), Pac-Keys and Black Rock keyboardist Archie "Hubbie" Turner, Bar-Kays trumpeter Ben Cauley (sole survivor of the plane crash that claimed the life of Otis Redding) and powerhouse Hi Rhythm drummer Howard Grimes.
So when Bomar wanted to add vocals to the Bo-Keys second album, he employed the same strategy and rang up the best singers available. I'm not talking about above-average wedding singers who can do a version of Midnight Hour that sounds remarkably like Wilson Pickett. Nope. He went for charismatic song stylists who've developed their craft over decades in front of unruly paying audiences. Clay, Bell and Wiggins each answered the call and turned what could've easily been a naff retro-soul nostalgia trip into something extraordinary and timeless. Although the Chicago-based Clay has long been associated with the Chi-town sound and Peachtree and Wilbe label boss Bell is now more connected with the Atlanta scene, they both have strong ties to Memphis as does lifelong resident Wiggins – it's where their careers were launched after all. Check out the mini-documentary below. 

The Making of Got To Get Back!

The Bo-Keys "Got to Get Back !" Mini Doc from Electraphonic Recording on Vimeo.

One For The Weekend: Greg Foat Group

Bright Is The Sun by The Greg Foat Group

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thrill Jockey stumbles onto Sorry Bamba goldmine

Better late than never, Thrill Jockey has decided to jump into the archival reissue game with Sorry Bamba – Volume One, 1970-1979 a collection of rare and unreleased recordings cut by the Malian singer during his time with L'Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti – the group previously known as the Regional Orchestra of Mopti before leader Ali Farka Touré split after falling out with Bamba.
While Chicago's post-rock clearing house is probably better known las the home of Tortoise, Fiery Furnaces, Califone, Sea and Cake, Rome, Mouse On Mars and Archer Prewitt, the ever-eclectic Thrill Jockey label has dabbled in African music before. Yes it's true! Back in January they snuck out a rootsy experiment in acoustic minimalism from Sidi Touré called Sahel Folk with little fanfare and they've also put out a couple of mediocre benga-rock albums by Extra Golden.
Yet you have to wonder how Thrill Jockey managed to uncover this relatively obscure Sorry Bamba material that has so far eluded the deep diggers from the numerous labels who specialize in archival reissues of West African music in particular. It doesn't seem plausible that label boss Bettina Richards spent any time scrounging through remote villages in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal or the Ivory Coast looking for rare 45s or bargaining with shifty label bosses and former radio station staffers for unreleased master tapes. Nope. It turns out that while Extra Golden's resident ethnomusicologist Ian Eagleson was making one of his numerous fact-finding trips to Africa, he bumped into Sorry Bamba who not only provided Thrill Jockey with the golden source material hook-up but happily agreed to help compile and oversee the project. Sweet!
Unfortunately, they've decided to photoshop a sleeve together based on the manipulated artwork from Sorry Bamba's Yayoroba album for Songhoi (above) perhaps to distinguish the album from Kindred Spirits strangely coincidental straight re-release of L'Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti's self-titled 1977 album for the Mali Kunkan label which uses the dope original artwork (right) and contains a couple of the same tunes (Gambari, Sare Mabo). But having stunning artwork to go with the cleanly remastered recordings might be too much to ask from Thrill Jockey who are still novices at this whole archival reissue thing.

Sorry Bamba – Volume One, 1970-1979 
01. Yayoroba
02. Boro
03. Gambari
04. Astan Kelly
05. Sekou Amadou
06. Sayouwe
07. Porry
08. Aisse
09. Byaydhourou
10. Sare Mabo


Thrill Jockey's press release:

Sorry Bamba was born in 1938 in Mopti - "The Venice of Mali" - a city whose setting at the confluence of the Niger and Bani rivers made it a true cultural crossroads. This diversity sparked an unsinkable curiosity and passion for learning that characterizes Sorry’s career to this day.

Sorry Bamba’s father was a noble, and a veteran of the Emperor Samory Touré’s army. In Mali’s caste-based society, this meant that he was forbidden to play music, an art reserved exclusively for griots. However, after being orphaned at a very young age, he turned to music for solace, particularly a six-holed flute that kept him busy day and night.

It was in 1957 that Sorry formed his first band, Group Goumbé, named after a dance craze from the Ivory Coast. Consisting of little more than some percussion instruments and a trumpet, Group Goumbé became popular with the young people of Mopti, publicizing their performances in a small van equipped with a loudspeaker.

In the fall of 1960, Mali gained its independence from France. A new spirit swept the land, epitomized by the fledgling country’s first president, the charismatic Modibo Keïta. Radio Mali was created to promote the nation’s lush musical heritage, as well as to encourage its modernization. This artistic call-to-arms was not lost on Sorry, whose Group Goumbé (now called Bani Jazz) had already begun to modernize its sound. Through Youth Weeks held in the capital city of Bamako, performances and competitions brought together the most talented artists of Mali’s six regions to create a national community, dedicated to the progress of the republic.

Nobody embodied this spirit of innovation more than Sorry Bamba. From 1968-1981, Sorry worked tirelessly as the director of Mopti’s dance troupe and the arranger of their traditional ensemble. But his greatest legacy is his time as the leader of the Regional Orchestra of Mopti (essentially a rechristened Bani Jazz). Sorry’s group competed in six National Biennials, taking home the grand prize in 1976, 1978 and 1980. By that point, they had become known as the Kanaga Orchestra, a name symbolizing the God Amma, creator of the Dogon people. This is the period of time covered on this record.

It is important to note that this compilation was created with the direct input of Sorry Bamba himself. His enthusiasm and patience are remarkable for someone whose extreme underexposure borders on the criminal. However, while it is easy to characterize the man, to try to classify Sorry Bamba’s music is to do it a gross disservice. The only truly suitable word is MAGIC!

Gambari by L'Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti

Sorry Bamba discusses his music en Français

Sorry Bamba
Thrill Jockey
L'Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hip-hop maintenance in Manchester

Making frequent house calls to ensure that proper hip-hop flows are maintained throughout the North of England, the ever-intrepid Flow Inspectors pay a visit to Manchester MC Dayse (of to conduct a battery of rhyme diagnostics.
Although Dayse has been widely rumoured to be sick for some time, the Flow Inspectors just wanted to find out for themselves as can be seen in the clip below.
Judging by the debut EP from the Natural Curriculum splinter project Dayse & Aver, which you can download for free right here, it seems like everything is working order. Knowing how quickly even the dopest microphone rippers can fall off, it's worthwhile having regular check-ups. Watch as the Flow Inspectors make a return visit to a prior "problem case" Bill Sykes and Chalk, both of Natural Curriculum infamy.

The Flow Inspectors  – Episode 1: Dayse

Episode 2: Bill Sykes

Episode 3: Chalk

Conan gets real @ Dartmouth Commencement

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Alela Diane rocks the Rivoli Saturday night!

To Begin by Alela Diane @ Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Alela Diane interview Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7 

One For The Weekend: Red Fang

Wires by Red Fang (dir: Whitey McConnaughy)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hot Docs fave Thunder Soul gets major release

It took some time but Mark Landsman's brilliant Kashmere Stage Band documentary Thunder Soul is finally getting a major theatrical release on September 23, 2011. The genuinely heartwarming film about the one-off reunion of the formidable high school orchestra from Houston's Kashmere Gardens which won the coveted Audience Award at Hot Docs 2010 – despite negligible mainstream Toronto media coverage – appears to have greatly benefited from the support of co-producer Jamie Foxx who grew up in the Dallas suburb of Terrell, Texas. It's good news for film fans and Stones Throw Records who really got the whole ball rolling with the inclusion of a Kashmere Stage Band track on the Funky 16 Corners compilation and followed it up with the essential retrospective reissue Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974. Check out the trailer.

Thunder Soul trailer

Nick Lowe unfolds the cardigan for The Old Magic

Now four years after Nick Lowe put out his elder statesman summation At My Age, the clever wordsmith once known as "The Basher" (remember that?) is readying a new album The Old Magic for September release on Yep Roc. Lowe's regular crew of Geraint Watkins, Steve Donnelly, and Robert Treherne (aka Bobby Irwin) will be joined by guests Ron Sexsmith, Paul Carrack and Jimmie Vaughan.
Although the title might suggest a return to rollicking form for the respected tunesmith – who actually just turned 62 in March – Rockpile fans will be disappointed to learn that Lowe is determined to continue crooning his downtempo ballads in hushed tones as he creeps toward retirement. Having written and recorded an impressive catalog of music over the past four decades, Lowe has clearly earned the right to ease into his twilight years as "The pub rock Perry Como" if he so desires. I've got no problem if he chooses to leave "socks unrocked off" but all comfy cardigans and pastel sweater vests aside, it's terribly disappointing to see such an influential composer reduced to simple pastiche and knocking out cheap re-writes of other peoples' songs.
You don't need to do any sort of Sherlock Holmes sleuthing to pinpoint the conceptual origin of Lowe's tune Rome Wasn't Built In A Day off At My Age. Hint: there's a clue in the title. Likewise, it shouldn't take more than a couple of lines from House For Sale (see video clip below starting at 9:02) from his forthcoming The Old Magic to note some intriguing similarities to the George Jones classic The Grand Tour with some bits sounding strangely reminiscent of A Good Year for the Roses as well. Just a coincidence? Hmm...
It makes you wonder whether creativity has a "best before" date. Perhaps even the most accomplished songwriters have only so many original ideas in them and they eventually run dry. Last time I checked, Bob Dylan hasn't lately come up with anything nearly as good as Masters Of War, Subterranean Homesick Blues or The Times They Are A-Changin'. Conversely, maybe the real craft of composition is all about smoke and mirrors and after a certain age, it no longer matters how carefully the source material is concealed.

NPR's Tiny Desk Concert: Nick Lowe 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Little Roy nices up Nirvana

Check out Little Roy's dope roots reggae revisions of Nirvana's Sliver and Dive from his forthcoming Ark Recordings single due out June 27 and destined to be heard blasting all summer long. Grandma take me home...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stop Harper! Arab Spring hits House of Commons

Ex-Parliamentary Page Brigitte DePape explains civil disobedience to Evan Solomon

Friday, June 3, 2011

One For The Weekend: Is Tropical


Norman Blake + Euros Childs = Jonny

 A pairing with enormous promise, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake has joined forces with fellow top tunesmith Euros Ghilds of Gorkys Zygotic Minci infamy to create the psych-pop project Jonny who are making their Toronto debut this weekend with a two-night stand at the Drake Underground Friday (June 3) and Saturday (June 4). Considering that Blake is from Glasgow and Childs hails from Carmarthen in Wales, it's a bit odd that the songs they've recorded together for their self-titled debut album sound so much like the mid-80s product of New Zealand's Flying Nun label but hey, who's complaining? Any group covering 23rd Turnoff obscurities like Michael Angelo (included in the free four-song EP of non-album tracks available for download below) is fine by me.


Continental by Jonny

Candy Floss by Jonny