song obsession friday!

July 12th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
The Very Best – We Okay (ft. K’Naan) (mp3) (pre-order)

Neil Halstead – Full Moon Rising (mp3) (pre-order)

The Very Best: I’ve been a fan for a while (since their first mixtape) and I’m always excited when new material comes out. But, still, it was ridiculous when I first heard this track; I must have played this song a dozen times in a row. I’ve listened to it a few dozen since. It’s just a very catchy chorus matched with Esau’s and K’naan’s verses; it’s simultaneously very universal and very African at the same time.

As for the Halstead track, it’s also been going around my head–I can’t agree with Sandy below more.

Dave:
Kishi Bashi – Bright Whites (mp3) (buy)

This song embodies everything that a great summer song obsession should be: ridiculously catchy hook, foot-tapping rhythm, über-joyous melody, and a top down, wind-in-your-hair feel that will bring a smile to just about everyone’s face. Add to that an enthusiastic vocal styling not wholly unlike early Beatles, and “Bright Whites” has become summer 2012 almost-anthem for me.

Sandy:
Neil Halstead – Full Moon Rising (mp3) (pre-order)

The song just has an ease to it. You warm to it immediately, you can almost hum along at first listen. It doesn’t go away – just a great track from a great songwriter.

collier – sounds like sunshine mixtape, vol 1 and 2

June 11th, 2011


summer sky; idea shamelessly stolen from Natalie

My friends, the Colliers, recently moved to LA and I wanted to send them off with a nice mix that would help them get settled in the City of Angles. Since then I’ve been listening to it a lot and I thought it was just too good not to post. I’m pretty excited about it! All the songs on it evoke imagines or feelings of summer or sunshine to me.

Go ahead and check out the playlist (below) or the liner notes for volume 1 or volume 2.

Ipickmynose Sounds Like Sunshine Mixtape, vol 1 (zip file, mediafire link)

Ipickmynose Sounds Like Sunshine Mixtape, vol 2 (zip file, mediafire link)



You can download the zip file with the following:
1. mp3s of the songs
2. liner notes (pdf)
3. playlist files (iTunes txt file and an m3u file)

(for the iTunes file, simply add all the songs to your library and then go to File->Library->Import Playlist and then select the song list (the txt file). you should now have the playlist collier-sunshine1 (or collier-sunshine2) in your iTunes with all the songs in the correct order).

Collier Sounds Like Sunshine, vol 1:

  1. The Lucksmiths T-Shirt Weather
  2. Lucky Soul Whoa Billy
  3. Allo Darlin’ My Heart is a Drummer
  4. The Morning Benders Excuses
  5. Marching Band Feel Good About It
  6. Coconut Records The Summer
  7. Matt Pond PA Summer is Coming
  8. Polyphonic Spree Light & Day (Orchestral Version)
  9. Seabear Arms
  10. The Apples in stereo Go
  11. The Beatles And Your Bird Can Sing
  12. Kind of Like Spitting Birds of a Feather
  13. Karl Blau Into the Nada
  14. Paul Simon I Know What I Know
  15. Fool’s Gold Surprise Hotel
  16. S. Pilso & His Super Seven Kuya Hanjwa
  17. The Very Best Kamphopo
  18. Camera Obscura French Navy
  19. Belle & Sebastian Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
  20. The Supremes When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes
  21. Martha & the Vandellas (Love is Like a) Heat Wave
  22. Ben E. King Spanish Harlem
  23. Buddy Holly Everyday

Collier Sounds Like Sunshine, vol 2:

  1. The Beach Boys Good Vibrations
  2. Electric Light Orchestra Mr. Blue Sky
  3. The Tremeloes Here Comes My Baby
  4. The Drifters Under the Boardwalk
  5. The Del Vikings Come Go With Me
  6. The Beach Boys Barbara Ann
  7. Toots & the Maytals Bla Bla Bla
  8. Candie Payne One More Chance
  9. Gnarls Barkley Going On
  10. Kings Go Forth One Day
  11. Mayer Hawthorne Maybe So, Maybe No
  12. Lissie Stranger
  13. Matt & Kim Daylight
  14. Simon & Garfunkel Cecilia
  15. Patty Griffin No Bad News
  16. Feist I Feel It All
  17. David Wax Museum Born With a Broken Heart
  18. My Latest Novel The Reputation of Ross Francis
  19. Florence & the Machine Dog Days Are Over
  20. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes Home
  21. Noah & the Whale 5 Years Time
  22. Fanfarlo You Are One Of The Few Outsiders Who Really Understands Us
  23. Oh No! Oh My! Party Punch
  24. Rogue Waves Eyes

If you like the artists or songs, I suggest supporting them by buying their music, going to a show, buying merchandise from them or at least telling other people about them.

4 excellent african music videos

May 4th, 2011

Ken’s Song – A Traditional Era from David Tree on Vimeo.

First is a video from Zambia. Traditional guitar and vocals with adorable kids and grandmas dancing and singing along. Take note that the (homemade?) guitar has bottle caps attached to give a buzzing quality to the sound. That buzzing timbre is common to African music, but it’s most common in West Africa.



Fool’s Gold
is possibly just another white American group using African idioms in their music, but I have to say they do it really well. I love the track, but not this particular video. Good thing there’s another video of a hot live version at KEXP. I love it when they put the song into overdrive at the end.

Ghanan-American MC m.anifest now lives in Minneapolis. I believe the above video, though, was filmed in his native Accra. Gorgeous visuals and solid rhymes over a laid back beat make for a really enjoyable video.

Tuks aka Tuks Senganga (previously mentioned) is my favorite South African rapper. I’d never seen the above video until today. Sweeping and bleak-but-yet-hopeful views of Johanesburg (or ‘Jozi’) mix well with the amalgamation of compelling English and Setswana vocals make for a great video.

world cup! 16 great south african songs

June 11th, 2010

rural south african soccer
rural south african soccer

The World Cup starts today and I’m in the thick of it. A game will be played 500m from my doorstep in a few scant hours. The anticipation is madness; I think the country will explode before the first game.

My South African parents didn’t listen to pop music but we did have Graceland. My brother and I would blast the opening accordion riff of “I Know What I Want” and dance around the living room while my parents were out. After that I started collecting music on various trips here. Much later, I’d dig through the world music archives at KZSU trying to find still new more great music. I’ve always had a soft spot for the music of this country.

South Africa has eleven official languages and many unofficial ones. There are two dozen or more strong musical traditions and there are so many different styles of music in South Africa, one couldn’t even count them all.

Today, with the start of the World Cup and the eyes of the world on South Africa, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tunes in a variety of styles.

Obviously this is not comprehensive and skewed in styles. There’s significant rock, folk, reggae, Indian-derived music, Islamic music, kwaito, house and other dance music, and many other styles that are produced in South Africa in abundance that aren’t represented below. Nevertheless I hope you enjoy the music I’ve picked.

You can grab all the songs here. See below for individual songs.
South Africa Mix (zip file, mediafire link)

Vintage R&B-influenced Afropop (Xhosa)
Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata
Makeba, one of the most famous South African singers, recorded this hit with a Philadelphia R&B producer in 1967. This is a song that never gets old.

Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata (mp3) (buy)

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Hip Hop/ Motswako (English, Setswana)
Tuks – Botho (feat Kabomo)
I’m a sucker for hip hop slow jams and this is a good one from possibly my favorite South African rapper. From the oddly picked Katie Melua sample to the laid back, but discontent lyrics, I think this is a winner. Tuks’ song aren’t universally great but his best songs are very good.

Tuks – Botho (feat Kabomo) (mp3) (from artist website)

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Township Jive/ Mbaqanga + Maskandi (Zulu)
Ubombo – Sibonabantu Ben Zondo & Nganeziyamfisa No Khambalomvaleliso – Sini Lindile
Here are two stylistically similar songs. And both are awesome. With the virtuosic guitar beginning and the rapid-fire spoken section, there’s a touch of maskandi in these, but in the end, I just like calling them ‘awesome’. (I think they’d be classified as mbaqanga.) Great call-and-response, upbeat bass and concertina/ accordion work in both.

Ubombo – Sibonabantu Ben Zondo (mp3) (buy)

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Nganeziyamfisa No Khambalomvaleliso – Sini Lindile (mp3) (buy)

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Cape Town Jazz
Abdullah Ibrahim – Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening (Cape Town Fringe)
Among the most famous South African jazz musicians along with Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand) produced a hit and an iconic piece with “Mannenberg”. As music historian Rob Allingham says “from the first bar, you know it could only have come out of South Africa.” Many articles have been written about this beautiful song.

Abdullah Ibrahim – Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening (Cape Town Fringe) (mp3) (buy)

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“Mbube”/ early Zulu Choral Music (Zulu)
Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube
From the first notes of the song, you’ll probably recognize it. It’s not A Lion Sleeps Tonight—it’s what that song ripped off. A simple and instantly catchy song, American corporations have made millions of the song while, until recently, Linda and his family got nothing.

Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube (mp3) (buy)

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don’t call it a comeback (because it ain’t)

August 26th, 2009

This is emphatically not a return to form. I’ve been sharing songs with friends and I thought it was a bit silly to not share them here too.


colo(u)rful houses in Bo Kaap

I quite like this Alberta Cross song. The whole album is good, too, though I don’t love every song.
Alberta Cross – Low Man (mp3)

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Volcano Choir is a side project of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. This track was not what I expected, but it’s quite catchy/ good. And Justin’s vocals are wonderful as always.
Volcano Choir – Island, IS (mp3)

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Soul Sides has been posting some fantastic stuff lately and you’d be remiss to not check it out. Bobby Freeman’s “Good Good Lovin'” is a classic blues-based, Motown-sound track with a hard driving sax part. They posted two tracks by the Metros and both are excellent soul tracks, but I like the dark, swaggering “Since I Found My Baby” better.

They also posted these oh-those-are-funny videos of Lushlife doing acoustic covers of classic hip hop tunes. They are so funny, until you realize they’re actually quite compelling. For example, this Jay Z cover:

I definitely am going to keep my eye out for Mayer Hawthorne after a few tracks of his I heard recently. Grab the breezy, oldies- and Motown-inspired “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin'” at MBV.

I don’t know much about Monogrenade but I quite like folky The Acorn-reminiscent track “Ce Soir” that Anyone’s Guess posted.

The B-side of the Very Best 7″, “Yalira”, available here, is beautiful and worth the listen.

I’ve been listening to the Frightened Rabbit Daytrotter session a lot. The featured version of “My Backwards Walk” is great.

And, finally, if I’m posting, I feel it’s my duty to mention the great KevvyKev’s (one of KZSU’s own) 25th anniversary Bang the Drum concert with 25 DJs and 25 MCs. It’s definitely another impressive line up. Check out all the details.


boats in Kalk Bay, False Bay

king sunny ade @ the independent

June 24th, 2009

king sunny ade

Friday night I saw something different at the Independent: King Sunny Ade & His African Beats. From Nigeria, they play Juju music, popular music which is influenced by Yoruba percussion.

In a room drenched in the smell of pot and body odor and with a distinctly different crowd than the average indie show at the Independent, Ade played a two hour-plus set to the appreciative crowd. The band was a big one: Ade on vocals and sometimes guitar, two additional vocalists, seven percussionists, guitar, bass, and keyboards. Everyone in the band seemed thrilled to be there and to be playing.

They played well and the mix sounded good. People danced and sang along–if they could figure out the words. My favorite songs were the more guitar-heavy ones; during some of the percussion-centric ones, with incessant beats and lyrics I didn’t understand, I felt my attention wandering. But it was a fun show nevertheless.

song obsession friday! (for the week ending May 14)

May 15th, 2009

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
David Ruffin – Anything You Ask For (mp3) (out of print but available on iTunes)

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I picked up this album on the recommendation of Soul Sides a couple months ago. Recorded in 1971, but shelved until it was released in 2004, it’s a solid album that makes me wonder why it didn’t get released immediately.

Some songs hit me immediately–like the cover of “I Want You Back” or “Heaven Help Us All”. This song has been smoldering and growing in my mind. While it’s not a full blown can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head obsession, it’s been just under the surface for weeks now and every time I hear it, I want to hear it again. From the stutter-start drum opener to the fast strummed stop-and-go guitar to the grooving bass, this is post-60s Motown production at its most classic and best.

Also, it’s a bit of a coincidence that I had a song obsession by David’s Brother three weeks ago.

Keith:
Thin Lizzy – She Knows (mp3) (buy)

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been enjoying the Thin Lizzy Live & Dangerous DVD – spectacular to be able to see the show and the interviews with the band members are rather insightful as well. As such I’ve been bulking up the collection with their studio work as well, including their first album with the dual lead-guitar setup that made them so powerful. Here’s the leadoff track.

Scott:
Tidawt – Talhiat (mp3) (not available? artist’s webpage)

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tuareg band from mali. i can’t remember the last time that somebody has personally shared music with me that i really dug, so thank you eric if you ever read this.

Wow, what a cool set of songs this week. Good work, guys.

you’re not fooling me, budweiser

February 6th, 2009

So, I saw this commercial during the Superbowl.

Hey, Budweiser, who do you think you’re fooling? Your commercial’s start is set in “Scotland, 1933″. You might think to use Scottish bagpipes, then, in the soundtrack. Or at the very least Scottish smallpipes.

Those Irish (uilleann) pipes aren’t fooling anyone! Didn’t you learn anything from Braveheart?

“I once was Canadian” radio show, now with African music!

January 20th, 2009


cred: me

I’m on the air on KZSU right now doing my “I once was Canadian” radio show. As I said last week I’m doing 3 hour shows, so that means I’ll be one every Tuesday from 3-6pm. Listen in!

With the extra hour, this week I’m playing some African music I love and I’m having fun while doing it. Indie and soul will be coming still as well.

During either show you can listen online or at 90.1 FM. You can also follow along with my playlist online.

Update Here’s the playlist, African music up front:

  • Jubulisa Mkhize – Bakhuluma Ngathi
  • La Drivers Union Por Por Group – Otsokobila
  • Lokonon Andre & Lee Volcans – Mi Kple Dogbekpo
  • Johnny Clegg & Juluka – Umfazi Omdala
  • Amadou et Miriam – Ce N’est Pas Bon
  • Ubambo – Sibonabantu Ben Zondo
  • Postal Workers at the University of Ghana Post Office – Cancelling Stamps
  • Kasai Allstars – Kafuulu Balu
  • Blanket Mkhize – Blanket’s Guitar Solo
  • Mamadou Diabate – Segou Tara
  • Soweto Percussion Ensemble – Umbzabalazo (Protest): first movement
  • Koernag Namadlanga – Ngiyalila
  • Mzwandile Qotoyi, Dizu Plaantijies, Jose Luis Quintana, Aka, Changuito – Yintoni Nale Izange
  • Olatunji – Drums of Passion
  • The Very Best – Kamphopo
  • Grampall Jookabox – Black Girls
  • Lake – Blue Ocean Blue
  • Karl Blau – Before Telling Dragons
  • The Ugly Suit – Chicago
  • Passion Pit – Sleepyhead
  • Shugo Tokumaru – Hidamari
  • Human Highway – My Beach
  • Mason Proper – Point A To Point B
  • Nada Surf – What Is Your Secret?
  • Crooked Fingers – Valerie
  • Chad Van Gaalen – Willow Tree
  • Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Weeping Pilgrim, 417
  • Otis Gibbs – Caroline
  • Aretha Franklin – Respect
  • The Satintones – Going to the Hop
  • Bill and Ron – It
  • Henry Lumpkin – Don’t Leave Me
  • The Wright Specials – Pilgrim of Sorrow
  • Raphael Saadiq – Big Easy
  • the Shangra Las – The Train from Kansas City
  • the Supremes – When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes
  • The Ikettes – I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song)
  • Wanda Jackson – The Funnel of Love
  • The Tallest Man on Earth – The Gardener
  • Joe Pug – Bury Me Far From My Uniform
  • Try Me Bicycle – Of Things Sown

vintage song obsession: Paul Simon – “The Obvious Child” (late 2003-early 2004)

January 18th, 2009

Sometimes you hear a song again for the first time. Something flips in your head and you realize you like it. Sometimes it’s something specific that you hear or a mood you’re in that causes that change. Or maybe some other music you’ve heard in the meantime changed your mindset and opened you up to it.

I don’t know what flipped that switch for me on “The Obvious Child”. I’d heard it growing up–Rhythm of the Saints was one of only a couple pop records my parents had–and I remember liking it but it wasn’t anything I came back to. What brought me back to it in 2003? Your guess is as good as mine.

What I do know is that it sounded totally different. Those drums–by samba reggae group Olodum–at the beginning were, and are still, huge and fascinating. I listened through it picking out all the different rhythmic layers. Those five 1/16th surdo (low drum) notes during the turn-around are key to keeping the whole rhythm driving along, for instance

And say what you will about Simon’s cultural appropriations, but when he’s on, he’s got a genius knack at making fluid and beautiful pop songs with world influences.

Paul Simon – The Obvious Child (mp3)

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I like this video from Live in Central Park because the drums sound even bigger than on the recording:

“The Obvious Child” is on Rhythm of the Saints, available at insound.