Today is Colombian Independence Day. And, as a special treat, Bomba Estéro has released their second video from this year's incredible record Amancer. "Somos Dos" is at once a love letter to singer Li Samuet's native Caribbean & her partner. Watch out for vacation quality shots, more fruits than you can shake a drumstick at, and more than one ritual scene. Watch below. Also, be sure to check out Samuet's interview with Ed Morales about Amancer over at SoundCloud.
hank Monday, July 20, 2015
The soundtrack to my summer has been provided by Herbie Mann. His 1969 record, Memphis Underground, has had a lot of fans before me. In particular, this is purported to be the favorite jazz album of the late Hunter S. Thompson due, in large part, to the 7+ min jazz fusion psychedelia of the album's closer the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." What separates this record from some of your other experiences with fusion is the instrumentation. Because Mann excels in that instrument which has become a Millennial's laughing-stock: jazz flute.
Okay, good, now that we've gotten that out of the way. Contrary to Farrell's parody, there's something incredibly hip about Mann's record. The opener and title track "Memphis Underground" is undergirded by a slick R&B style percussion lick that Mann's flute bobs around with panache. "Memphis Underground" provides the blueprint that this record exploits. Though the formula is very clearly jazz-based, the recording and sound pays homage to R&B and Soul records. In fact, of the 5 tracks of the record, 3 were originally recorded by soul artists -- "New Orleans," "Hold On, I'm Coming," and the classic "Chain of Fools." Mann's particular genius was in his alchemical creations. Not only in reimagining patriotic standards like "Battle Hymn" or in jazzing soul standards, but in his exploitation of numerous sounds. Later records would find Mann bridging out into reggae, Afro-cuban jazz, Middle Eastern music, and recording at the famous Muscle Shoals studio. One of my favorite collabs of Mann not on this record is his partnership with João Gilberto on Recorded in Rio where this bossa nova standard, "One Note Samba" takes flight:
Memphis Underground isn't just a showcase for Mann, however. It's lineup is stellar including Roy Ayers on vibraphone and Larry Coryell on guitar. The later's album Spaces with John McLaughlin & Chick Korea will no doubt provide another installation of WLFY Finds. Perhaps the best combo of the three is on "Memphis Underground" where Ayers vibes and Coryell's guitar stick to the groove and their solos are nicely reigned in by Mann's orchestration. In too many fusion albums, solos are given free reign and seem to, by their end, have nothing to do with where the track had begun. Here, the emphasis on connection to the groove keeps everything locked and tight.
Mann's influence & hipness can be attested to by his collaboration with, for my money, one of the greatest "cooler than you are or will ever be" bands of all time, Stereolab, who turned to Mann for their reworking of "One Note Samba" (listen to original above):
For a series which will hopefully shed some light on forgotten records, artists, songs, and even forms of music, there's not much of a better place to start than Herbie Mann's glorious Memphis Underground. As with many finds, it might not be your cup of tea, but this 1969 album is definitely worth a listen. My advice is wait till late afternoon, make a cocktail, and let this blare. Don't forget, if you're listening, use #wlfyfinds to talk about what you're hearing.
hank Monday, July 20, 2015
Suffice it to say that the music blogging business has hit on hard times. Hell, we here at WLFY barely post anymore. And, most of the time, that's not our fault. With the expansion of social media and streaming outlets, I've been wondering that existential question -- "Do we need music blogs anymore?" It's the blogosphere equivalent of that great Silver Jews lyric: "Punk rock died when the first kid said 'Punk's not dead.'" But, it's the truth. Do you need us anymore? Streaming services provide access to practically every album ever made. Why do you need some dope with a vocabulary to reinforce your listen? Well, you didn't. And music blogs started to die. Our novelty -- access to music (or links to illegally download music ahead of release dates) -- became pretty much nullified by technology, the very thing that had launched the blog revolution in the first place. Irony is a bitch.
Two factors have significantly changed the way that I listen to music over the past 5 years: vinyl and Spotify. When I used to be an avid consumer of what was happening RIGHT NOW, my turntable and Premium membership have turned me into a virtual crate digger. Sure, I listen to what's going on now and even maintain playlists of important releases by year; however, I would say that music from the past 5 years only makes up around 20% of my listening, when it used to be nearer to 80%. How I listen has changed my consumption and how I hear about music. Nowadays, it's more likely to be from me talking to someone or poking around than from reading a blog. I return to the great archive of words spilled over music when I want to know more about an album.
So, don't call it a comeback, but this is an attempt to merge how I listen and this blog. To, hopefully, return to where we were when we were writing regular content. This may totally fall apart, so don't call it a comeback. I'm calling it WLFY Finds (which, I hope you'll make into the appropriate hashtag #wlfyfinds). The idea is pretty simple. Each post will highlight an album (maybe even two) that deserves your attention. I'll write a bit about it, give you a place to buy or stream it. And, hopefully, you can kickback your response with our #wlfyfinds hashtag--I still don't tweet yet, so don't go bombarding Zach [@welistenforyou]--use the tag and I'll be able to seek you out. The aim, as always, is to get all of us to listen more, listen better, and give credit to some of the amazing musicians and records out there. I'm not doing Apple Music yet -- please, let me know if I should -- so most of the links will be via Spotify. The first post will follow this one. So, please, enjoy.
hank Monday, July 20, 2015
Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 19-track compilation through Dropbox here.
UNITED STATES: We Listen For You Johnny Azari - God Damn Blues Johnny Azari doesn't pull any punches with his blues. This is in your face, razor-edge reconstruction of a genre that's gotten soft. His music is the last swig of whiskey after a long night of drinking. The dark alleyway. This is real-life emotion through music and he's not cleaning it up just to make a few casual listeners more comfortable.
ARGENTINA: Zonaindie El Gnomo - Suicidas Melodías This new musical project by Martin Reznik (La Filarmonica Cosmica) almost started as a game in 2012, when he recorded several songs on a weekly basis. Some time afterwards, while reviewing the material, Martin realised he had an album in his hands, so he spent the next months polishing the songs and re-recording some instrumental tracks. He also invited musical friends to participate in what became a folk album with a soft psychedelic vibe. Suicidas Melodías is one of these collaborations, in which singer-sonwriter Sofía Viola lends her wonderful voice. You can download the full album from Bandcamp.
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They? Arvo Tanty - White Hum Valley (Hello) Arvo Tanty is an introduction to producer Michael Dolan's solo material, following his work with electronic outfit Perth. White Hum Valley (Hello) is a grandiose, cinematic Casiotone orchestra track where slow, effacing rhythms pulse and dissolve at surface break. Dolan says the song was inspired by Joni Mitchell, Mort Garson's Plantasia and his yearning to make a "Nintendo soundtrack of some kind".
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado Otis Trio - Montag's Dream Montag's Dream, the opening track of Otis Trio's debut album 74 Club, probably refers to the main character of the novel Fahrenheit 451. The dark jazz they create fits perfectly with the despair related in the book.
CANADA: Ride The Tempo Nina Bowz - Bone Toronto artist Nina Bowz specializes in artful electro-pop that has quirky twists at every corner.
CHILE: Super 45 Urban Monk - Collage The lack of spirituality is a recurring theme of living in big cities, and for Urban Monk this is a starting point in their musical history. After a season in Brazil, Chai got together with Dhanur to bring out the sounds inside their heads. They have followed up their 2013 debut Primavera En Secreto EP with this year's release of A Lua - a mixture of pop, rap, shoegaze and Krishna life by these friends from La Serena.
COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo Planes (Estudios Universales) - Fue Siempre Lo Mismo Bogota's Planes (Estudios Universales) previously appeared in the Music Alliance Pact in August 2012 and much has happened to them since then. Many trips, festivals, soundtracks and the release of their 2014 debut album Las Americas. In it, they continue their wave of dream-pop with alternative rock, creating a beautiful place in the soul of those who listen to them. Album closer Fue Siempre Lo Mismo is a song that speaks of encounters and disappointments.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian Speaker Bite Me - Uh-Ah This month we try something different, serving up an exclusive taste of a 15-year-old album. Speaker Bite Me's If Love Is Missing It Must Be Imposed was originally released to little critical acclaim, but it has since grown to become a Danish rock classic and now it's out on vinyl for the first time.
ECUADOR: Plan Arteria Les Petit Bâtards - Ficción Les Petit Bâtards, with members under 19 years old, have become one of the most acclaimed new bands in Ecuador and are definitely worth keeping an eye on. One reason to believe in them is their intimate, touching first single, Ficción.
GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda Manos Milonakis - Zyklon Main Theme Manos Milonakis produces modern classical music for films and theatrical plays, as well as for his independent solo work. The original score for Thanassis Triaridis' theatrical play Zyklon Or The Destiny is a magnificent set of 10 tracks awash in textures, atmospheres, moods and emotion. His music winds its way through your mind and moves your soul. You should also check out the main theme for the documentary Drink And Be Merry.
INDONESIA: Deathrockstar Answer Sheet - Regretful Season With ukulele, guitar, bass and live loops, Yogyakarta band Answer Sheet bring diversity to Indonesia's indie-pop scene. You might love how these guys sing in English with a slight Javanese dialect.
IRELAND: Hendicott Writing Comrade Hat - One Of Them Multi-instrumental, multi-talented member of multiple Derry acts, Neil Burns - known in this particular guise as Comrade Hat - will throw that hat over anything that catches his fancy. One Of Them is a fine example of his work, designed on piano and guitar but constructed using a delicate touch on synths. Think Moby's blissful corners constructed using the Rockies for inspiration. This is out of sync with the zeitgeist and all the better for it.
ITALY: Polaroid Pueblo People - Dog People "As if Raymond Carver got drunk in front of the typewriter while Dinosaur Jr's Green Mind plays on the turntables" - I really like this sentence from the press release for Giving Up On People, Pueblo People debut album. I think it really tells something about the way these songs are written, the spirit behind this raw, powerful music. The guitars are loud, the drum and bass are tight, the vocals are harsh and grasping. Life up against the wall, bad luck, growing up and going separate ways. For sure, one of the best Italian indie-rock albums this year.
JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies Half Mile Beach Group - Twilight The image that the beach city of Zushi, south-east of Tokyo, has conjured up in recent years has not been particularly positive. It was a rowdy spot and then the local government banned loud music and other fun times from the coast. Thank goodness for outfits such as Half Mile Beach Group, who on Twilight present a windswept and haunting view. It is not quite summer bliss, as the whole thing sounds appropriate for the slow season, but it is a gorgeous representation all the same.
MALTA: Stagedive Malta Mistura - Issa Tard Wisq Mistura is a duo whose songs, exclusively in Maltese, have elements of blues and rock, both electric and acoustic. Debut album U d-Dinja Tkompli Ddur, released in October 2014, is a rock concept record divided into four sections of four songs each. Packed with biting social commentary, especially in relation to local issues, it reflects on the theme of repetition and cycles of life. Antonio Olivari and Malcolm Bonnici are the main members, but they also perform as a full electric band with additional musicians.
MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika Error.Error - Γ Error.Error is the project of Efrén Valenzuela, a young musician and beatmaker from Hermosillo, Sonora on the north-western desertic corner of Mexico. He is the founder of the netlabel LALALA4e and also operates under the Zonzobot alias. Error.Error recently blew us away with his newest track, written as Γ, an incredibly chilling piece which the artist has branded "reggaetrón". Γ was accompanied with a futuristic, must-see 3D video created by the artist himself.
PERU: SoTB Physic - Never Satisfied Physic began to attract vast attention with only a couple of songs earlier this year, leaving us eager to hear more of their dark post-punk. Fortunately for us, they have just released their self-titled debut and Never Satisfied is one of the jewels of this remarkable album.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco? Beautify Junkyards - Rainbow Garland Beautify Junkyards' first album, released in 2013, contained only covers but it drew the attention of many radio stations and journalists, and they were invited to participate in a Brazilian television documentary along with David Byrne, Devendra Banhart and M.I.A. Their new album of original material, The Beast Shouted Love, was released this month and it is one of the best records I have heard this year. It will please fans of Goldfrapp, Beach House, Melody's Echo Chamber and Foxygen.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop The Great Albatross - Righteous Man Every so often you come across a new song that's so obviously better than anything you've heard in months that it stops you in your tracks and makes you realise how much better life is to have it in it. For me, that special something is Righteous Man by The Great Albatross. The creator of this exceptional acoustic heartbreak is A. Wesley Chung, an American based in Glasgow. Righteous Man (video here) is taken from recent EP Roots, which features Avi Zahner-Isenberg from Avi Buffalo - he and Wesley are former bandmates.
Zach Hart Monday, May 18, 2015
TROPICAL TRASH - "UFO ROT"
Zach Hart Thursday, April 16, 2015
San Francisco's The Sandwitches were one of those Spotify finds for me. After a couple clicks I came upon this perversely ethereal song "In the Garden" which seemed to be told from the perspective of a rim job obsessed snake. It's hard not to get captivated by the David Lynchian songs and haunting melodies. This June, the group releases their final album, Our Toast via Empty Cellar Records and the first taste is the whimsically titled "Play It Again Dick." With a menacing downbeat and slow rolling, lilted vocals, "Play it Again Dick" manages what so many Sandwitches songs do -- to live on that rough edge of emotion and irony. Listening to their tracks, you often wonder if the knowledge of your own pain is what makes that fucker hurt even worse.
hank Thursday, April 16, 2015