30 August 2011

Top 5 Tunes for August 2011

The good folks at SouNZgood.co.nz invited me to select my Top 5 Tunes of the Moment, for a weekly feature they run on their website. I never pass up an opportunity to press my musical preferences upon people, so thought even though you can link to the article here (for a short time, at least), I thought I'd share those tunes with you on this blog as well. So, here goes, in no particular order...

The Drop Out City Rockers
'Man On The Run'
Variously known as The Drop Out City Rockers, Drop Out Orchestra and other such pseudonyms, this Swedish outfit have been releasing modern disco gold for a minute now. 'Man On The Run' has all the ingredients required to make you wanna shake your tailfeather: lush soulful vocals, a clever arrangement and a bassline that goes for days.
Also check: 'Cool To Make A Million' featuring vocals from the legendary Leroy Hutson. The Man.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
'The Message' (Roots Manuva remix)
A stone cold classic track given one of the more respectful re-touches in recent memory by a man more renowned for his emceeing abilities than production/remix skills - Roots Manuva. He strips the instrumental back considerably, somehow giving Melle Mel's delivery even more swagger and punch (though I'm unsure how anyone could swagger more than he does here). Add some muted trumpet stabs, a bubbling organ riff and flip the script on the spoken word finale and you've got a tasty wee re-rub on your hands.
Also check: the brand new Roots Manuva single 'Get The Get', from his forthcoming album.

'S&M (Sexy Music)'
Spanish producer and DJ Rayko gives a classic club track from 1983 a serious re-work for the discerning 2011 dancefloor. Originally recorded by legendary US producer George Kerr (The O'Jays, The Skull Snaps) and Reggie Griffen (who played keyboards on Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's 'The Message' LP, among many others) with singer De De, this track has been sampled to death - but Rayko gives it that "slow disco" sound I'm loving at the moment.
Also check: the original.

Jayl Funk
'Piece Of Mine'
Another edit? Yep, another edit - and it's another scorcher. German producer Jayl Funk grabs the good reverend Al Green by the scruff of his collar, beefing up his track 'All Because' (from the album 'Al Green Gets Next To You') with a slight lift in tempo and a serious amount of bottom end. Apparently the secular Mr Green fancied a serious amount of bottom end too.
Also check: the original, of course...

'It Doesn't Really Matter'
The opening track from Zapp's 1985 album 'The New Zapp IV U' is a gleaming example of how brilliant R&B used to be: fat squelchy keys, inspirational lyrics and the best use of a "talk-box" ever. Zapp's frontman Roger Troutman (RIP) pioneered the use of a primitive instrument which gave the users voice a distinctive synthesized sound - like T-Pain only way, waaay, waaaaay cooler. If you're wondering what I'm on about - Roger Troutman's the guy who sang the chorus on 2Pac's massive hit 'California Love'.
Also check: the song Dr Dre sampled for California Love... yep, Joe Cocker.

I hope you enjoy the tunes!

Review: Bohemian Thought 'Magnificent Dyslexic'

Magnificent Dyslexic
[Dharma Records]

Anyone who describes themselves as a "poetic philosopher" makes me a little nervous. Mind you, anyone who uses "Bohemian Thought" as an artist name probably doesn't care a whole lot if he makes me nervous. Conquering nervousness is undoubtedly one of the first steps towards existing on a higher plane of being. Or something. Anyway, it turns out my nervousness is unfounded. Magnificent Dyslexic, the debut album from London-raised, Wellington-based singer and spoken word performer, Bohemian Thought, is a hugely enjoyable record. BT endeavours to channel Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets with deep, considered lyrical content - which is in itself a refreshing change for a local record. Seriously funky musical backing ranging from understated beatnik styles through bubbling afrobeat, future funk and soulful reggae comes courtesy of guests Mara TK and Myele Manzanza (Electric Wire Hustle), Lewis McCallum, Isaac Aesili and many others - including producer Brofessional. An accomplished debut.

3 and 1/2 stars from 5

28 August 2011

George FM Playlist Sun 28 Aug "In The Pocket"

Mr Scruff | Get A Move On
David Bowie | Let's Dance (Jean Claude Gavri re-rub)
Renegades Of Jazz | Moo Juice (Benji Boko & BOYCOM remix vocal)
Seductive Souls with Donald McCullum | Disco Jazz (Patchworks remix)
The Drop Out Orchestra | All The Time We Need
Ray Parker Jnr | For Those Who Like To Groove
Sgt. Slick | White Treble, Black Bass
Greg Wilson | C'mon (You Can Get It)
Mo' Horizons | Ah Mi Morena (Chocolate restyle)
Salmonella Dub | Platetechtonics (Fartyboom) (Groove Corp remix)
Recloose | Electric Sunshine
7 Samurai with Desmond Foster | The Moment Is Gone (Zilverzurf remix)
Massimiliano Pagliara with Sigrid Elliott | Gonna Get Your Love, Gonna Find You
Holy Ghost! | Hold On (Black Joy version)
Joseph Malik | Take It All In, Check It All Out
Sanchez Last Stand | Done With You
Funkommunity | Pass It On

27 August 2011

Radio Ponsonby Playlist Fri 26 Aug "Expansions"

Erykah Badu | Turn Me Away
Fun Lovin' Criminals | The Fun Lovin' Criminal
Funk Ferret | Whole Loada Shizzle
Chet Faker | No Diggity
The Players Union | All Green
Andy Ash | Hip Joint
40 Thieves | Backward Love
Daz | Rize (Get Down edit)
Gazeebo | Up, Up & Away
Rayko | S&M (Sexy Music)
Editorial | A Touch Of Tina
Sly & The Family Stone | Family Affair (Seegweed edit)
Livingstone & Canosis | Peg Leg
Claudja Barry | I Wanna Dance (Tangoterje edit)
Gwen Guthrie | Ain't Nuthin' Goin' On But The Rent (Larry Levan remix)
Awa Band with Tony Allen | Bababatteur (Quantic remix)
Salmonella Dub | Platetechtonics (Fartyboom) (Groove Corp remix)
Micronism | Constructing Space
Caribou | Sun
Burial | Archangel
Quantic | Perception
The Inland Knights & Da Sunloungaz | Weekend
Bugz In The Attic | Booty La La

25 August 2011

Interview: Mu from Fat Freddy's Drop


It seems appropriate Fat Freddy's Drop will be performing at an iconic Auckland venue most recently used as an evangelical church.

Auckland's oldest surviving theatre, The Mercury, hasn't been home to a musical show since 1992, which was a large part of the attraction for the band when they began planning to play a few local gigs before heading to Europe for the seventh visit in as many years.

"We wanted to keep things fresh for us and our audience," says Mu, when discussing why they'd chosen The Mercury Theatre and Wellington's Front Room for these shows, rather than ramming a few thousand punters into bigger venues and banking some serious spending money. "The summer tours have been pitched at the younger end of our audience, so we thought this was a good way to appeal to the older demographic. It'll be much more intimate, classier, more comfortable, and you get the same Freddy's show with a mix of new and older material."

Did you say new material?! "Some new material and two older songs - 'Black Bird' and 'Afreak' - which we've just tracked and we're really happy with." So, new material, for a new album? "Yeah, there's new material and older stuff that's never been recorded being reworked. We're sifting through those to pick out ideas strong enough to make good songs."

While I pause to take in the good news, it seems Mu's just warming up. "We've found a great space, one of those classic old Welli warehouse spaces we all grew up in, going to awesome parties. We keep the PA set up there and just walk in and jam, so we've been writing some new material and jamming it loud to replicate a gig environment."

Anyone familiar with the Freddy's back story will know this is a huge departure from their set up at The Beach, Mu's home studio at Lyall Bay where they recorded both their albums, but Mu is resoundingly postive about the change. "It has injected new life and new energy into the band. It's cool to have our own space and it's exciting to go and jam there."

He laughs when I ask if he ever really thought Freddy's would make it to three albums. "It's been amazing to be involved. The personnel within the band is the main thing: whenever we hook up to tour, to record, to write new songs, it's still a lot of fun. We just love making music together."

I put it to Mu that, besides loving making music together, it must also be incredibly gratifying for the band to return to Europe year after year to bigger crowds and better venues - having made a conscious decision to do it all independently. "Definitely, very much so. It's been a lot of hard work, but being independent has been the right decision for us. I think it still is. In Europe there are different tiers of the industry, and when you operate at the level we're at, you can get over there, put on good shows and make enough money to bring some home."

This tour sees Freddy's in Norway for the first time, alongside their own dates in Poland and Belgium (where they'd previously only played festivals), plus Germany, France and the UK. "Berlin will be big. Brixton will be big," understates Mu (they're headlining Brixton Academy, expecting just shy of 5000 people). "We get well looked after in those places now."

He laughs again: "Though it's always about finding new ways to keep it fresh, there's still that spark when we get together, and it's still really enjoyable."


This interview was originally published in Groove Guide issue #368, 4-10 May 2011.

21 August 2011

George FM Playlist Sun 21 Aug 'In The Pocket'

Roy Ayers | We Live In Brooklyn Baby
The Roots with Erykah Badu | You Got Me
Lewis McCallum | Fly Or Die
Oneself | Unfamiliar Places
Butch Cassidy Sound System | Cissy Strut
Johnny Hammond | Shifting Gears (DJ Day alternate edit)
Funkommunity | Pass It On
Lanu with Megan Washington | Beautiful Trash
Starblazers | Sunshine
Mark de Clive-Lowe with Nia Andrews | Hooligan
Jean Claude Gavri | Flight 106 (Analog Synthology Trip)
Jayl Funk | Funky Song
Sleeve | Get It On
Livingstone & Canosis | Peg Leg
Roy Ayers | Searchin' (Vinroc remix)
Kon | Goodbye Summer
The Dynamics | Land Of 1000 Dances
Angela Bofill | People Make The World Go Round (Seegweed edit)
Rasmus Faber with Melo | Get Over Here
MC Mellow Dee | And You Don't Stop (True School mix)
Was A Bee | This Is What U R
Tweet | Boogie II Night
Grandmaster Flash | The Message (Roots Manuva remix)

19 August 2011

Radio Ponsonby Playlist Fri 19 Aug 'Expansions'

Herbie Hancock | Palm Grease
The Lafayette Afro Rock Band | Darkest Light
Ned Doherty | Give It Up For Love (AC re-edit)
Quincy Jones | Summer In The City
Sweet Stuff | Freaky To You
George Macrae | Rock Your Baby
American Gypsy | Inside Out
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes | Prayin'
Womack & Womack | Teardrops (Ken At Work remix)
Nina Simone | Take Care Of Business (Pilooski remix)
Brooklyn Express | Sixty Nine (Tee Scott edit)
Savanna | Never Let You Go (Onur Engin edit)
Sleazy McQueen | Do It Again (The Thrill re-edit)
Superbreak | Body Bait (SB Disco edit)
Kyoto Jazz Massive | The Brightness Of These Days
Zeb | Revolutionary Dreams

George FM Playlist Fri 19 Aug 'Key To The Groove'

Herbie Hancock | Magic Number (Disco mix)
Leonard Seeley's Heritage | Feel It (BT Magnum edit)
David Joseph | You Can't Hide Your Love Away (Larry Levan remix)
Don Ray | Standing In The Rain
Manujothi | Shake Your Body
The Jimmy Castor Bunch | E-Man Boogie
Sharon Redd | Never Give You Up
Oliver Cheatham | Get Down Saturday Night
Sgt. Slick | White Treble, Black Bass
Azoto | San Salvador
Candido | Thousand Finger Man
Class Action | Weekend (Larry Levan remix)
Eddie Henderson | Say You Will
Stephanie Mills | Put Your Body In It
Ramsey Lewis | Spring High

17 August 2011

Longroom Birthday Party

I'm looking forward to having a jam with the uber-talented Lewis McCallum (sax/flute) and Esther Stephens (vocals) this Friday night, as we kick off celebrations for Longroom's second birthday party. With Scotty Mayes and the Sweet Mix Kids taking over 'til the wee hours, Friday night promises to be a monster which will appeal to anyone up for a decent boogie. Come n' get amongst!

Review: The Sami Sisters 'Happy Heartbreak!'

Happy Heartbreak!
[Parrot Diva Grump Records]

When did "fun" become a dirty word in music? Not the laughing-at-someone-else kind of "fun" which gets passed off as humour; but proper "fun"? Mind you, the subject matter of Happy Heartbreak!, the independently released debut album from The Sami Sisters, doesn't sound like much fun, with all eleven songs dealing with breaking up in one way or another. What does make this album fun - and lifts it from being kinda average to very nearly fantastic - is the vocal interplay between the three sisters. Individually their voices are good without being exceptional, but when they sing together magic is made, particularly as their gorgeous close sibling harmonies are matched with intricate, yet light-as-a-feather arrangements. With masterful production from Ed Cake and Jeremy Toy, the girls glide through retro-pop, country-folk, Motown and classic '50s/'60s girl group influences, all with an irrepressible sense of self. An unashamedly pop album, and yes, "fun".

4 stars from 5

15 August 2011

Radio Ponsonby Playlist: Mon 15 Aug 'The Long Black'

Nick Drake | River Man
George Benson | Nature Boy
Main Ingredient | Euphrates
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings | Inspiration Information
Bootsy Collins | Fat Cat
Aloe Blacc | The Dark End Of The Street
Leroy Hutson | Lucky Fellow
Jamiroquai | When You Gonna Learn?
Iva Lamkum | Kung-Fu Grip
Manzel | Midnight Theme (Dopebrother remix)
Dam-Funk | Hood Pass Intact
Jaylfunk | Funky Song
RSL | Wesley Music
Mazarati | Little Mazarati
Mr President & Mr Day | Meet Again (B-Boy edit)
Drop Out Orchestra | All The Time We Need
Angela Bofill | People Make The World Go Round (Seegweed edit)
Phreek | Weekend (Kon's edit)
Wham | Lovemaker (Horse Meat Disco re-edit)
Majesty's Pleasure | What's The Word?
Rayko | Sweet Sensation

Review: Cat's Eyes 'Cat's Eyes'

Cat's Eyes

Cat's Eyes is an odd collaboration between Faris Badwan, frontman for feted British indie-rockers The Horrors; and Canadian opera singer and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira. The unlikely pair bonded over a shared love of 1960s girl-group pop, deciding to use that unifying passion as a basis for writing the songs which appear on this, their self-titled debut album. Produced by Steve Osborne (New Order), Cat's Eyes stretch the boundaries of the genre almost beyond recognition with a heavily classical, Gothic bombast filtered through a myriad of machines - reinterpreting the sound of Phil Spector's female charges of the '60s for the post-dubstep generation. Imagine Massive Attack fronted by The Ronettes. Or, try imagining a porno starring Kate Bush, Nick Cave and Prefuse 73, directed by Vangelis' evil twin. Ooer! The money shot comes with the contrast between Badwan's part-Ian Curtis, part-Roy Orbison baritone and Zeffira's breathy, precise soprano. Flawed, but definitely intriguing.

3 stars from 5

06 August 2011

Radio Ponsonby Playlist Fri 5 Aug "Expansions"

Leroy Hutson | Cool Out
Stonephace | Wedgehead Gets Lucky
Kologbo with The Deacon | Freedom Back
Willowband | Willowman (Tangoterje edit)
7th Wonder | My Love Ain't Never Been This Strong
Conquest | Give It To Me (If You Don't Mind)
Diana Ross | Love The One You're With (Tangoterje edit)
Elsie Wheat | Tippin'
The Great Experience | Don't Forget To Remember
The Flirtations | Stronger Than Her Love
Big Mama Thornton | They Call Me Big Mama
Richard 'Groove' Holmes | This Is The Me Me (Not The You You)
Ray Parker Jnr with Raydio | It's Time To Party Now
The Main Ingredient | Happiness Is Just Around The Bend
The Chaplin Band | Madmen's Discotheque (Disconet Casey Jones remix)
Edwin Starr | Working Song
Change | Searching
Ronnie Jones | Video Games
Jimmy Ross | Fall Into A Trance
Kaso | Key West (Jellybean Benitez remix)
Marbeya | Gansta Reedflex

03 August 2011

Review: Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 'From Africa With Fury: Rise'

From Africa With Fury: Rise
[Knitting Factory Records / Because Music]

So it does run in the family. From Africa With Fury: Rise is the second album from Seun Kuti, youngest son of Nigerian firebrand and Afrobeat innovator - some would say inventor, but I give Tony Allen props - Fela Kuti. Seun played alongside Fela in the mighty Egypt 80 as a boy, but age has not wearied the band, with the extraordinary power and scorching rhythms found here belying their many years in the game. This is a much more satisfying album than 2008's Many Things, showing Seun finding his own voice as a songwriter, singer and bandleader. Produced by Brian Eno (yes, that one) with John Reynolds, From Africa With Fury is a monster fed by breakneck tempos and combative lyricism. While there is weight to the argument it suffers from a lack of diversity, that's a minor gripe when the excitement levels are set so high. Embrace the fury!

3 and 1/2 stars from 5