en route with onra

‘I Wanna Go Back’

‘Relax In Mui Ne’

Parisian beatsmith Onra stopped by SF during a recent small tour that took him across major US cities. His visit reminded me of how much I dug his Chinoiseries, an instrumental release from ’07 with touches of Dilla and even early RZA, but with far out timbres and melodies all lifted from 30 or so Southeast Asian records he found in Vietnam. His latest, Long Distance, heavily deviates from Chinoiseries, sounding more like an electro boogie album than dusty boom bap. For a relatively new producer, dude’s already shown much versatility with a penchant for sampling the old and unusual. Glad he’s getting some shine. Peep a couple tracks from the Chinoiseries and purchase his latest album HERE.

RIP Cool Ruler

Funny, kind, and candid, Gregory was an utmost gentleman years back when we spoke for a feature story that just recently hit newsstands. He never really viewed his career in hindsight, feeling that it was “always ongoing” and feverishly recording and touring up until he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. The interview is one of the lengthier ones I’ve done, as Gregory patiently recapped almost his entire career for longtime fans. Gregory passed today at age 59 and it’s with a heavy heart that we celebrate his songs, life, and well-kept career. Below are my favorite recordings from reggae’s Cool Ruler. Rest easy, Mr. Isaacs.

‘Far Beyond The Valley’ off In Person [Trojan 1975]

‘Too Late’ a-side b/w ‘Each Day’ single [Success 1970]

‘Sun Shines For Me’ off Gregory Isaacs Meets Ronnie Davis [Plant 1979]

‘Each Day’ b-side b/w ‘Too Late’ [Success 1970]

‘My Time’ a-side b/w ‘Rockers Time’ [Gussie76 1978]

i run with a thieving squad and none of us believe in god

Big L was such a vicious rapper— swift, smart and aggressive. This upcoming release, Return of the Devil’s Son is promoted as a “posthumous album” with “unreleased material” but actually features some remixes of old tracks. While the title leaves much to be desired, it’s still worth hearing since any ‘lost tracks’ from L are likely grimey and menacing as hell. Below is the tracklisting for the upcoming release along with ‘Zone of Danger’ produced by J-Love, a remix of ‘Dangerzone’ off L’s 1995 debut, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous.

‘Zone of Danger’ off Return of the Devil’s Son (out November 23rd)

1) “Return Of The Devils Son” (produced by Showbiz)
2) “Devil’s Son (produced by Showbiz)
3) “Zone Of Danger” (produced by J-Love)
4) “Sandman 118”
5) “School Days”
6) “Principle Of The New School” (produced by Showbiz)
7) “Unexpected Flava” (produced by Lord Finesse)
8) “Tony’s Touch”
9) “Right To The Top” f/Royal Flush & Kool G Rap (produced by Domingo)
10) “Once Again” (produced by J-Love)
11) “Harlem World Universal”
12) “I Won’t”
13) “Hard To Kill”
14) “Power Moves”
15) “If You Not Aware”
16) “I Should Have Used A Rubber”
17) “Doo Wop #5”
18) “Yes You Can”
19) “Audition”
20) “MC’s What’s Going On” (produced by Showbiz)
21) “Slaying The Mic”

*** If you haven’t already, peep DJ SOUL’S TRIBUTE TO BIG L, an awesome (and my opinion, the best) Big L ‘best of’ mix; released a while back hosted by Lord Finesse.

Bruce Haack’s ‘Party Machine’

‘Party Machine’ from Farad: The Electric Voice [Stones Throw]

A new release further explores recent interest in voice manipulation by way of vocoders. Bruce Haack (1931-1988) was an experimental electronic musician who used a self-made vocoder he called ‘Farad’ on his recordings. He founded Dimension 5 Records, releasing strange but ultimately progressive abums, “pre-dating Kraftwerk’s Autobahn by several years” according to Stones Throw. Haack didn’t just use vocoders, he made them the centerpiece of his work, which included a children’s album, pop rock releases, dance tracks and a conceptual electronic psych-rock album called The Electric Lucifer. ‘Party Machine’ is an epic cut off Farad: The Electric Voice, the new 16 song collection which includes unreleased songs recently okayed by Haack’s estate.

* ‘Farad’ is named after Michael Faraday, an English chemist and physicist from the mid 1800s who some historians say is the ‘greatest experimentalist in the history of science’ and who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

Bear Witness

‘Witness To A Heartbreak’ :: The Dynettes [Constellation, 1965]

This single from The Dynettes is a real beauty, sung as if it were court testimony after ‘witnessing a heartbreak’. Not much is known about the Dynettes though this comes from Chicago, 1965, arranged by Maurice Williams (unlikely this Maurice Williams but who knows). The sluggish, delicate arrangement and interplay between the lead and background vocals make it what it is. ‘Witness To A Heartbreak’ is actually a b-side and is nothing like its upbeat a-side may have suggested. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a clean copy of this for ages and finally, I did. Dig it!

Dilla-San

This mix is further proof of Japan’s love affair with Dilla. Recently in Tokyo, I saw his image on magazines and a lot of hip-hop flyers. There were also ‘Ma Dukes’ t-shirts and more than one free mix cd. This is one of those mixes and has a lot of Dilla tracks found on newer releases, like this one with Black Thought or this with Raekwon. I hadn’t heard of DJ Tsubasa but, in a sea of Dilla mixes, this isn’t as obvious as others have been– and is probably the best, most inexpensive thing I got in Japan.

:::::::::::::::::: DOWNLOAD DJ TSUBASA’S DILLA MIX Pt.1

:::::::::::::::::: DOWNLOAD DJ TSUBASA’S DILLA MIX Pt.2

Little Willie Needs Your Love (so bad)

(Dan Ubick, serious musician from Rhythm Roots All Stars, Connie Price and the Keystones and The Lions, has played with Ghostface and Slick Rick among so many others, recording for Blue Note, Ubiquity, Tru Thoughts, and Stones Throw along the way. In his spare time he also writes (I worked with him on this Richard Evans piece) but he’s a music head above all things. A guitarist who transitions between different genres, he’s apparently, at heart, a bluesman. Here’s his thoughts on Little Willie John’s ‘I Need Your Love So Bad’. – DM)

‘I Need Your Love So Bad’ by Little Willie John

“I Need Your Love So Bad” by Little Willie John is to my ears absolutely the most perfect song ever (a huge claim I realize… but true.). This recording contains the most heart wrenching and captivating vocal take I personally have ever heard committed to tape (and I’ve listened to a couple records at this point like most of you reading I’m sure!).

The lyrics, apparently written by Willie John’s brother Mertis John Jr, (their sister was Stax and Motown artist Mable John) are the kind of lyrics that you never forget. Willie John’s well-worn and perfectly loose delivery draw you in like a good friend sharing his troubles with you personally. A voice of wisdom, longing and truth we can all relate to.

“I need someone’s hand to lead me through the night, I need someone’s arms to hold and squeeze me tight. When the night begins and until it ends…I need your love so bad.” Continue reading “Little Willie Needs Your Love (so bad)”

SylMatic

‘Falling In Love’

Besides the awesomeness of having Syl Johnson’s best tracks in one HUGE BOXSET, it also allows fans of his work to fill in gaps between his rare songs and more known recordings. ‘Falling In Love’ is an early, simple Syl tune done for TMP-Ting Records, 1965.

The upcoming release, The Syl Johnson Mythology is being put out by Numero, probably the only label that could curate something like this and nail it. With Syl being sampled so much through the years, and with him hitting the road again, the timing of this is perfect. It’s also an effort to get some funds back to Syl, who is now 74, and who has in the past attempted epic lawsuits to get paid for his work.

This is a massive release, a 6LP + 4CD Boxset. Be ready for some epic listening (81 tracks!) and linernotes (52 pages!) when this comes out late October. I’ll be linking up with Syl soon for an upcoming interview, so keep an eye out in the months to come!

Summer Heat!

(Editor’s note: Recently, I stopped by Soul-Sides to talk about one of my favorite summer jams which you can peep here— as did Adam del Alma. Adam’s on a summer song rampage and we’re glad given his past record. Here are choice cuts he sent us for this late June 2010 (peep the Beto Villeno joint!). Finally, summer’s here. Let the sunshine in. –DM)


** READ / HEAR SUMMER SONGS DEL ALMA… Continue reading “Summer Heat!”

Golden State of Mind

A couple great new releases happen to focus my home state. The first is the newest in Now-Again and Jazzman’s Funk Compilations. The entire series is a compendium of rare, regional songs, notably Carolina Funk, Florida Funk, and Texas Funk. California Funk is a collection of twenty-one 45s from San Francisco, Berkeley, San Bernadino, LA and San Diego. The liner notes add scope and are great themselves. Here are snippets of some choice cuts.

‘Smokin’ Tidbits’ by The Edwards Generation

A cover of ‘What’s Going On’ by Mr. Clean & the Soul Inc.

If there’s continuity of Californian funk, than Orgone fits tangentially somewhere. From the evergreen Los Angeles area, they’ve played with some of my favorite LA funk driven groups, Breakestra and Connie Price and the Keystones. A nine piece band, they play soul and funk with a little afrobeat too. Some songs have vocals, most are instrumentals. Here’s the first track off their latest, Cali Fever, (Ubiquity) out next month.

‘The Last Fool’

Femme Fatales

I’m not too deep on Jamaican soul or reggae in general, but I’ve always loved things I’ve heard from say, Phyllis Dillon (pictured above), The Dreamletts, or compilations like this one. Below are random Jamaican girl-group joints I scored from my girlfriend, mixtapes, 45s, rare comps, and LPs. All of which are rather short, sweet, and uncomplicated.

The First Generation’s “Give Him Up”, a rare Jamaican soul track with, even rarer, a change-up in the arrangement! This song gets better and better as it moves along.

One of my favorite girl-groups in any genre, The Gaylettes. Here’s a b-side called “Goodbye”.

Susan Cadogan’s “Hurt So Good”. The her vocals really propel the simple arrangement.

Marcia Griffiths’ cover of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” won’t let you down. Note the crashing cymbals and unexpected hi-hats.

Phyllis Dillon has so many great random songs. “Tell Me You Love Me All The Time” is another one.

The always enjoyable Nora Dean, “Mojo Girl”. Supposedly she’s 15-years-old on this one.

The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume One

“Blurred” by Turquoise Days

“Game and Performance” by Deux

I don’t know exactly what it is, but it seems recently hip-hop dudes can’t get enough of no-wave. I can see why, especially since post punk’s entire wayward ethos, DIY concept, and gritty aesthetics probably speak to rap heads in many ways. Maybe hip-hop grew stale and cats begun looking elsewhere. Maybe it’s an age thing. I digress and present Stone Throw’s latest monster The Minimal Wave Tapes. I reviewed it for URB recently, which you can read HERE for more of an in-depth look at the album. Above are snippets from a couple choice cuts off the project. Out now, very interesting, and highly recommended.

Pieces of Pisces

Numero’s killer project, Pisces: A Lovely Sight, was among my top releases of last year and the Linda Bruner tracks in particular stood out. Bruner: Songs For A Friend, are her only known remaining recordings (6 total, mostly covers). Newfound songs include a cover of “Wichita Lineman“, which, like Bruner, has a dusty, disheveled aesthetic. The songs are sparse and sound as damaged as you’d think they would. Below are snippets of Bruner cuts that originally appeared on A Lovely Sight. Songs For A Friend comes out on Record Store Day, April 17th.

“Sam”

“You Are Changing In Your Time”

Dilla Re?uest Live

?uestlove is one of those dudes whose intelligence allows him to wear many hats. We touched on his hectic schedule a couple years back in a piece I did for The Metro, a local outlet based in San Jose. While he’s now essentially The Roots’ frontman on Jimmy Fallon (which I’m sure is time consuming) his productivity however hasn’t slowed. He maintains a blog, still gigs, writes liner notes, produces albums, acts, AND dropped this Dilla Tribute Set last week on Tony Touch’s radio show. It’s all Dilla related material thrown together in a very low-key fashion, first reported by It Takes A Nation….

====>>>> Download ?uestlove’s Dilla Tribute Set

Soul-Sides Guest Post!


I’ve been so mired in projects and deadlines that I forgot to plug my guest spot on Soul-Sides!

I was asked to write about the last record that struck me and decided on Paul Parrish's Forest of My Mind, this folky psych record from ’68 that left my face on the floor. I’m aslo real stoked that O-Dub called us one of his favorite sites. Dude, many thanks!

Here’s “Something of a Love Song”, a track off the album that isn’t included in the guest post. I felt it didn’t stand out as much as the other tracks, but I don’t dig it any less. It’s a real sweet one. Peep the post too. Enjoy!

*Note: The links on the actual post are down from being over a few weeks old, so below are the tracks that I originally wrote about. Peep ’em!

“English Sparrows”

“Tiny Alice”

“I Can’t Help Myself”

Girls Girls Girls

My Love Will Follow Me is the new EP (out next month) from brooklyn hipster babes, Vivian Girls. Interestingly, the b-side to the lead single is a cover of “He’s Gone”, the killer Chantels song supposedly written by a 16-year-old Arlene Smith, the group’s lead singer in 1957. Both versions below.

The Vivian Girls’ cover is slower and aesthetically hollow sounding, but the harmonies at the end (which the group is “moving towards”) are pretty impressive.

“He’s Gone” was a big hit single for the Chantels in late ’50s, recorded on End Records. Classic material !

Afrobeat Goes On

“Comencemos” by Phirpo Y Sus Caribes

“Woman Pin Down” by Dan Satch and his Atomic 8 Dance Band

It’s fitting Fela gets the deluxe treatment now considering his work experienced a revival of sorts in the last decade or so (and continues to). But Black Man’s Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kuti is much more than a project of “Fela covers”. In fact, besides a couple tracks, these covers and interpolations themselves are from rare Nigerian 45s and other international LPs.

The boxset includes 4 x 10-inches and the book it comes with—written and researched by Egon—is a great, quick primer on Fela and partly why the project’s so strong. Above are a couple snippets. The deluxe boxset comes out on Now-Again late next month.

Echo Party And Such: Interview With Edan

Edan’s Beauty and The Beat was one of my favorites albums of the last 10 years. It’s still so fun and all the nuances never get old. But it’s not just about a particular release, more so, it’s about Edan’s versatility and complete catalogue. From radio shows to guest spots, from mixes to his increasingly layered beats, everything is very detail oriented.

It’s been about 5 years since Beauty… and turns out his next move was Echo Party, a frenzied 30-minute opus that sounds like something out of a futuristic Black Ark studio. Now that it’s here and has sunk in, I got Edan on the phone to explain the project in his own words, what he’s been doing, and what’s up next. In the process, you’ll hear new tracks, rarities, and a song sent to us by Edan for readers to check out. Thanks E!

Explain to people how Echo Party and everything with Traffic went down.
I had a longtime friend at Traffic. I know those guys because they’ve distributed my records for a long time. And you know, they have a lot of access to a lot of stuff; Paul Winley, Peter Brown, all these old acts. They’re like the Rhino of old hip-hop. So they figured, it would be cool to have me do a mix for them. They offered me a little dough and that was that.

At what point did you decide to make it more involved than just a standard mix?
I knew that in this day and age, a mix of someone cutting up two copies of “Smokin’ Cheebe Cheeba” is not that interesting. And I don’t like to do things on consignment, which this basically was, so I figured if I’m gonna do it I might as well make it fresh. So I started fucking with it and realized that I should be real technical and showcase some sort of creativity. It wasn’t one of those mixes where I could just bank on the obscurity of the records just to impress the record community. So I basically decided to go the route that I went, which is make a record that was on some bugged out, freewheeling shit in the lab.

You mentioned collecting and not banking on obscure records. Have you grabbed anything interesting lately?
Yes! There’s this fucking record I got at this year’s WFMU Record Fair and it’s just perfect. It’s this one song called “Lookin’ in The Toaster” by this group called Research 1-6-12. The song is just this dude looking into a toaster and the lyrics are a trip [sings: Lookin’ in my toaster, lookin’ in my toaster, the face I see is mine. Weird is the image like a Hendrix poster, like a dream I had one time]. I got the test pressing which just had a piece of paper glued to the front. Once I heard it, I listened to it like 10 times. You want an MP3 of it to put up with this interview?

Yes, definitely. Continue reading “Echo Party And Such: Interview With Edan”

Raise It Up For Ma Dukes!

Here’s a track mixed and mastered by Bob Power, the grammy award-winning producer who worked on Tribe’s and De La’s early records. It’s from the Timeless Series which were held earlier last year. The DVDs and music will be released as an ultra-deluxe boxset this March, but for now, here’s the orchestral version of “Take Notice” off Dilla’s Rough Draft EP and a link to the video. The “Suite For Ma Dukes”, and said track, really add dimension and a sense of epicness to Dilla’s beats. Take notice.

“Take Notice” by the Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and the Suite for Ma Dukes orchestra

Playin’ Kinda Ruff: The Troutman Legacy

Bay Area ace, DJ B.Cause salutes Roger and Zapp with an ultra fun mix of famous tracks, rap choruses, interludes and a healthy dose of cuts and blends. Like his other work, everything is well-selected and ironed out. This is perfect since interest in vocoders will likely peak real soon. Peep the mix, the rest of B. Cause’s work, and familiarize yourself beyond “Computer Love”.

====>> DOWNLOAD PLAYIN’ KINDA RUFF: THE TROUTMAN LEGACY BY DJ B.CAUSE

Arthur Ponder’s Dr. Strangelove

One of my favorite audio blogs, Derek’s Daily 45, asked me to drop by a few weeks back. In fact, we ended up swapping posts. You can read (and listen) to Derek’s post HERE. Below is my quick contribution to his site. Thanks D!

“Dr. Strangelove” by Arthur Ponder

I first heard this on a mixtape years ago. “You know, that song where he says ‘Doctor Strangelove’ over and over in the chorus,” I’d ask people I knew. No one had info besides the occasional, “Does it have anything to do with the film?” “No,” I’d say.

This year I finally got it. I wish I could say I found it digging in Georgia somewhere, but it was Ebay. So here we are:

Arthur Ponder began his career singing with Johnny Jenkins, a left-handed guitarist and known influence on Jimi Hendrix who also played on Otis Redding’s early work. Not much info exists on Arthur himself, who recorded for Capricorn Records, a Georgian label founded in the late ‘60s known for spearheading Southern Rock led by their biggest signee, The Allman Brothers Band.

Arthur’s credited for additional vocals on other projects and also cut singles for Trey Records, another local Georgian label. He continually, albeit very quietly, put out material well into the ‘80s as far as I know.

I’ve since heard Arthur’s other work, but “Dr. Strangelove” is his defining opus: a song where he teeters on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the chorus, and where steady drums and a beautiful bassline propel the arrangement for roughly 3-minutes. The singing is so pained but the music’s so sunny. It was both written and produced by Eugene Davis. It’s killer Georgian soul, overtly filled with so many warm elements that can grab you. Hope you dig it.

Orchestrated Funk

I recently interviewed “Music Man” Miles Tackett, the cellist, producer, DJ, bassist and guitarist of Breakestra. If you haven’t already, check out their latest LP, Dusk Till Dawn. It’s funky and filled with all kinds of nice grooves. My talk with Miles recently went up on Soul Culture, a London-based music site focused on soul and all its modern tangents. Check the interview along with a couple great Breakestra joints below.

“Inner City Blues” (Live Mix Pt. 2)

“Got To Let Me Know” (Hit The Floor)

———–>> Miles Tacket Interview

Devilish Tunes

Pious funk from old Chicago? I was sold from the get-go. Personally, gospel—and just religious music in general—rarely moves me, but these aren’t your typical songs about Jesus. Actually, they’re not at all hymn-like: gruff vocals, sweaty grooves and bass slaps delivered raucously sums up Good God! Born Again Funk, a new project by Numero.

Derived mostly from Thomas Dorsey, an entrepreneurial bluesman who reconfigured praise-songs, these 18 tracks replace “baby” with “Jesus” and somberness for shouts. The singers, quartets, and neighborhood folks were recruited by Dorsey who sought to exploit the small but devoted market for religious music. In fact, the title of Ada Richard’s song “I’m Drunk and Real High (In The Spirit Of The Lord)” reflects Dorsey’s whole approach.

Please visit Numero’s site to hear and buy the upcoming album (1/26/10). Like their previous divine release, Good God! Born Again Funk is a thorough listen. Check out Numero’s blog to read more on the legwork behind this and other projects. Below are excerpts from a couple choice cuts:

The Sensational Five Singing Sons’ “Share Your Love With Your Master” has such personality and all kinds of elements–dialogue, an early break, crazy guitar work, and hard vocals. This track brings the funk and is fun to boot.

TL Barrett’s “Like A Ship” opens the album and is also its most mellow. Energy-wise, it’s tepid compared to the others but the lyrics (“Just like a ship…without a sail…but I know I can make it…”) sung faintly by the choir make it overwhelmingly earnest.

Off The Chain

ForgeYourOwnChainsHighRes

D.R. Hooker – “Forge Your Own Chains”

The Strangers – “Two To Make A Pair”

From start to finish, Now-Again’s new comp Forge Your Own Chains enthralls you with 15 psych-sodden tracks. Besides a song or two that were reissued already, the rest are from records that were culled from all over; Sweden to Nigeria, Colombia to Iran, these songs incorporate screams and shouts, fuzz, funk, folk, and weird touches of improvisation. It was a global era (1968-74) where artists sought to sound different and it showed in their music. Forge… comes with detailed liner notes (written by Egon) that respectfully contextualize the tracks and its makers. To hear and learn more about the project, visit Now-Again’s site. Dig the snippets above—the project comes out in a couple weeks.

Confessions of a Beat Junkie: Prince Paul

paul 1 (2)

We’re huge fans of Prince Paul. So naturally, we were geeked to get our hands on Confessions Of A Beat Junkie, a promo tape Tommy Boy put out in ’97. The 35-minute blend of b-sides, unreleased stuff, famous works, and many skits don’t disappoint—especially if you’re familiar with Paul’s work. Not much info exists, so I wrote Paul and asked him to introduce the tape for us. Here’s his response:

Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the tape. I made this for Tommy Boy as a promo item in the late ’90s to reintroduce myself to the public. It was to launch off the reissue of Psychoanalysis and a new project, A Prince Among Thieves. I just wanted to make something different from the old traditional mixtape that was out at the time. I had my friends and mom do little intro pieces to the songs.

I wanted to make it appear like I was this elusive, eclectic guy, and they were describing my work to those who weren’t familiar with me. The photo [on the back] is a picture of my son when he was about 3 or 4. He was always facinated with the turntables now he’s a DJ himself at 17. I put a lot of work into that tape, I’m glad that it’s still being enjoyed. Thanks again.

Hear Confessions Of A Beat Junkie… Continue reading “Confessions of a Beat Junkie: Prince Paul”

Original Sinn

sinn sithamouth image from: yawningandbalafon.blogspot.com

Known as the “King of Khmer Music”, Sinn Sisamouth was a wildly prolific singer/songwriter who made thousands of known songs—thousands. He was active from the ’50s through the ’70s and is believed to have been killed by the Khmer Rouge during Cambodia’s holocaust. It’s said that even more of his work existed, but was destroyed by the Cambodian government during their “cultural cleansing” campaigns.

The recordings that did survive are plentiful and pretty amazing. Sinn’s songs—and Phnom Penh’s pop scene during the the ’60s and ’70s in general—had heavy elements of psych, garage, R&B, and some funk. If you’ve heard any Cambodian comps, chances are you’ve heard Sinn. He was such a versatile singer and soulful in a way that is atypical in Western music; his voice wasn’t powerful or distinctive, but rather delicate yet spry. Even to foreign ears, he conveys emotion well. Here are a few songs from Sinn that blow me away. The first three are covers, the last is an original.

“Always Hope” is a killer Beatles cover. Dig the dusty drums and the weird organ in the background. You haven’t heard “Hey Jude” like this.

“Missing Tender Care” is a cover of Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)”. The vocals have this eerie echo effect to them.

“Women of ’72” is a rendition of the often-covered “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”. Notice how Sinn does his own backup vocals, fluctuating his voice from high to low during the chorus.

“Beloved Girlfriend” is oddly quite haunting and is definitely a sharp turn from the one above. Personally, it might be most moving of the four.

There’s a wealth of info on Sinn Sisamouth so look around. If you have Sinn records (music and/or cover art) to share, please do!!! Here’s Sinn’s cover of “Sugar Sugar” I just got off youtube.

Doctor’s Note

doctor nurse (2)

“Phantom Lights”, from Calm Seas, Phantom Lights

Doctor Nurse is a San Jose band whose perfectionist (and laissez faire) attitude delayed this release for years. Besides a droning, 8 minute instrumental interlude (aptly called “Graveland”), the other songs have lyrics that shift between detailed, real life moments and abstract imagery. The melodies are catchy and replete with lingering qualities; the musicianship is tight, combining traditional tools with vintage synths like the Prophet-600 (Sequential Circuits). Occasional French horns, vibraphones, and organs round out certain choruses and flesh out the rest.

The 4 members (and 2 guest musicians) are multi-instrumentalists who sometimes rotate instruments depending on the track. The songs are fully developed compositions—which are short, laid-back garage rock tracks with psychadelic tinges and nostalgic vibes. The joint above, “Phantom Lights”, is a personal favorite which, I think, displays the sense of reverie found on Phantom Seas.

JB of Doctor Nurse, who plays guitar, sings, and writes all the songs, will be sharing an amazing interview he did with pioneering ’70s filmmaker, Jamaa Fanaka. This has been a long time in the making. Be ready.

To hear more of Calm Seas, Phantom Lights and to purchase it, please click HERE or contact Doctor Nurse directly at DOCTORNURSEMUSIC@yahoo.com.

*READ MORE ON DOCTOR NURSE!

Bonita Voz De Sophy

sophy

This album has been getting lots of play lately. Made in 1973, Yo Soy Mujer is a perfect blend of funk, folk, rock, and disco. It’s very cohesive, due to the vocals and how they tie everything together. It’s no wonder this album made Sophy one of Puerto Rico’s most known singers.

Born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Sophy moved to New York City in 1960. There, she met and worked with Tito Puente, a towering figure of Latin-jazz and mambo. Sophy sung in Tito’s orchestra, and was so impressive, that he later produced some of her projects. Yo Soy Mujer was her third release in a career that would produce over thirty albums. She had a string of big hits in South America in the ’80s, but it’s her early ’70s work that really shines. The music is fantastic, so check it out. This would be a good starting point if you’re unfamiliar with Sophy and her records.

Below are two great cuts off Yo Soy Mujer, both of which were also famously sampled by RJD2.

“Un Amor Original”

“Locuras Tengo De Ti”

Koushik’s Ghost

out-my-window-ghostless

I’m a couple days late, but Stones Throw just posted an exclusive version of Koushik’s Out My Window for free download. The vocals on this are mixed way below the beats, making it sound extra ghostly than the original.

For the unfamiliar: Koushik sounds like Four-Tet and Air on valium. My problem with him are his vocals, which can sound too New Age, too Enya-esque at times. This version is perfect, since it’s basically the instrumentals with a couple bonus cuts. Download this if you dig laid-back, melodic beats drenched in reverb. It’s solid stuff, so GET IT FOR FREE while you still can!

The free download cycle has ended. You can still purchase the album HERE though.

Darrell, Eddie, Ernie, Ever-Soul

collage-lg-700px

Daptone puts out so many good projects that it’s easy to overlook their equally impressive subsidiary label, Ever-Soul. They specialize in forgotten soul and have another great project out next week—Detroit’s own Darrell Banks, a singer known for his hit “Open The Door” and who was fatally shot when he was 35. Here’s a great blog post about some fans who raised funds and bought a memorial plaque for Mr. Banks after visiting his grave and seeing that it was unmarked. You can read about Ever-Soul’s release, pre-order it, and hear snippets over at Daptone’s storefront.

One of Ever-Soul’s best releases is Eddie & Ernie’s “Bullets Don’t Have Eyes”. It’s a spirited track made in the early 1970s. This would be one of the pair’s last recordings and is one of their best. This came out a while ago, but copies are still available and are highly recommended. Hear it below.

Eddie & Ernie – “Bullets Don’t Have Eyes”

whatnauts and what not

whatnauts

The Whatnauts: “Instigating (Trouble Making Fool”)

The Whatnauts put out some great 45s on Stang Records during the early ’70s. They also joined forces with The Moments for “Girls“, a great cut that was later sampled by Diamond D.

He’s nothing but an instigating, always fakin’, trouble makin’ fool…” is the hook on this 1973 single. The song is a warning to an ex-lover about her new, shady boyfriend. It’s actually a sweet tune despite the negative lyrics about some nefarious dude. This is the only 45 The Whatnauts ever cut on GSF Records. “Instigating” is another smooth Whatnauts joint, full of nice melodies and even nicer harmonies.

catch the blast of a hype verse

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I can’t think of a rapper that has aged as well as Ghost has. Raekwon is 39 and Jay is turning 40. And while both dropped big albums recently, their best work is likely behind them. But with Ghost, who is 37, there’s still the possibility that he’ll outdo himself. He’s so natural and is sharper than ever. Like his earlier work, he still raps with vigor, except it’s more focused, more tempered and a lot funnier. Big Doe Rehab has some great songs on it and, I think, is heavily slept on.

I received the sampler for his new project, Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City, a while back. I didn’t realize how near the release date was or else I would’ve posted this sooner. A big part of why Cuban Linx 2 wasn’t a total failure was because of Ghost’s appearances. If you like Starks, peep the sampler for his new one, Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City. It leans more towards Pretty Toney than Fishscale, but I’m still looking forward to it. It comes out in a couple weeks. Hopefully that supposed Ghost/DOOM project, Swift & Changeable, will be next.

DOWNLOAD THE SAMPLER FOR GHOSTDINI: WIZARD OF POETRY IN EMERALD CITY

(end of) summer songs

sf sundown by mike drummond

Summer’s over and I’m bummed to see it go. No more sunsets at 8pm. No more t-shirt weather. Now comes rain and the terrible holiday season. To bid adeui, here are four tracks I intended on posting in May but never got around to it. The first three are among the sunniest songs ever; the last, not as much, but it’ll remind me of summer when I hear it during the cold, bitter winter.

1) “Let’s Have Some Fun (Pt. 1)” is a foot-stomping funk 45 by the Mod Singers & Mod Lads. It’s a bit novelty, but it’s one of the happiest songs I’ve heard and captures what it feels like when summer first starts. It’s akin to Shirley Ellis’ “The Clapping Song“, but shorter and less literal. I picked up this 45 in Chicago for two bucks.

2) These next two are Latin tracks from my friend John who was recently in South America. The first, “Menino Jesus de Praga”, is by the great Jorge Ben. It’s from his late ’70s phase, off the album A Banda Do Ze Pretinho. It kills during John’s DJ sets and certainly goes great with summer.

3) This second one is “El Rayo de Sol” by Le Mans. It caught my attention at a BBQ in early August. Sweet and totally laid back, this is a summertime joint if ever there was one.

4) This last one is Dusty Springfield’s killer cover of “Spooky”, the 1967 Mike Sharpe (AKA Mike Shapiro) recording which has been covered many times. And though it isn’t particularly rare or anything, it’s a song that aesthetically sounds like a hazy, summer evening.

reasonable clout

doj2

I like Jay-Z. I like how he carries himself in interviews. I like Blueprint 3 too (though it ranks lower compared to his back catalogue). Not many mainstream rappers actually rap anymore. No one cares about having different cadences or actually riding rhythms. Cats like Wayne have made it cool to be lazy, to limp over beats as if ferocity is somehow played out. Jay still switches up his flow and remains pretty charismatic, but even he doesn’t utilize (16) bars like he used to.

DJ Ayres just posted a new mix–D.O.J.- The Best Of Jay-Z— on The Rub. I seemingly like Jay’s new stuff more than Ayres does, but I also agree with his overall sentiment. The dudes over at The Rub (DJ Eleven, Cosmo Baker and DJ Ayres) are the homies so please check their site, and prolific mixtapes, if you haven’t already. For now, check Ayres’ killer mix to hear pre-retiremant Shawn Carter, when he was vicious and more wordy.

DOWNLOAD D.O.J. – THE BEST OF JAY-Z MIX

Jesse Serwer on NYC Badmen

nyc badmen cover

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD NYC BADMEN

I’ve been asked a few times how I “got into” dancehall. It’s pretty simple: I’m from New York. (Anyone asking me this is usually not from here). Jamaican music has been a familiar soundtrack for nearly as long as I can remember. I think it was around 1990, when I was 11, that it first left an impression. New York’s twin Black radio stations WRKS (“KISS FM”) and WBLS were playing records by Shabba Ranks and Mad Cobra. Chaka Demus & Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote” first came out around then, beginning its steady rise to Bar Mitzvah/White Folk Wedding-level ubiquity.

Truthfully, I didn’t like the stuff at first. Not knowing too many Caribbean folk at the time, the lyrics, particularly from gruff deejays like Shabba, were initially tough to decipher. And the rhythms, made more for the dancefloor than passive consumption, didn’t grab me the way hip-hop beats did then. My gateway drug came in the form of Shabba Ranks’ “The Jam,” a collaboration with the reggae-absorbent KRS-ONE, and Bobby Konders and Mikey Jarrett’s “Mack Daddy.” This was dancehall, but with a hip-hop beat, and I was hooked. I’d heard rappers like KRS toss around patois in their own songs, but the sound of Shabba and Jarrett’s full-throttle toasting over the familiar thrust of a hard-hitting breakbeat grabbed me in a way I can’t quite explain so many years later. Continue reading “Jesse Serwer on NYC Badmen”

Straight Outta SJ: The Mumlers

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The Mumlers- “Coffin Factory”, lead single from Don’t Throw Me Away

The Mumlers‘ second album, Don’t Throw Me Away, comes out tomorrow on Galaxia Records. Like their debut, the musicianship is sharp and the songs really sound sincere. And the arrangements, though quirky at times, always compliment the vocals in an unforced way. The first album had traces of Soul, but the new record has even more. Don’t Throw Me Away contains some of their best work yet.

What’s more, these guys are from San Jose, California of all places. In the coming months, Will Sprott, lead singer/songwriter of the Mumlers will be dropping by NERDTORIOUS with thoughts on his favorite singer; American soul and blues artist, Bobby “Blue” Bland. Until then, please pick up the new record and catch them on tour where they’ll be opening for The Black Heart Procession. They’re definitely going places—check out their music to see why.

Archie Whitewater: Unreleased Material

Cover Design By Musk

Archie Whitewater’s “Cross Country” is one of my favorite songs ever and this is blowing me away right now. From Psychadilsnik.Blogspot.Com: Apparently recorded shortly after the self- titled LP was released on Cadet Concept in 1970. This was never released due to numerous complications with Chess Records and all its sister labels, which includes Cadet Concept. The tracks were forgotten and never released. The album probably wasn’t quite finished. Also some tracks were meant to be used as radio station spots and promos. The tracks are instrumental, calmer shorter versions of the full tracks. The track names are speculation and not confirmed.

For the tracklisting and a bit more info, peruse Pschadilsnik and download these tracks. The site–and their youtube channel–feature really good stuff so look around. These unreleased tracks are killer! Many thanks!

Cambodia to Oakland

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Unknown Artist – “Blue Basket (instrumental)”:

Unknown Artist – “Birds Are Singing But My Lover Won’t Return”:

Cambodian Cassette Archives, another fantastic release from Sublime Frequencies, came out in ’07 and is a collection of folk, lo-fi pop, funk, garage, ballads, and strange psych from Cambodia. They were culled from old tapes found at the Asian branch of Oakland’s Public Library. Apparently, some of these recordings precede the Cambodian Holocaust so info is obviously scarce; only a few songs and artists are even named. Others are said to be from the US (presumaby the Bay Area) by Cambodian immigrants who fled the Khmer Rouge. Rich with analog warmth, these 20 tracks are totally raw and filled with colorful inflections and timbres. Don’t sleep on this like I did.

**Sublime Frequencies constantly release amazing comps (Group Doueh, Shadow Music Of Thailand, and Group Bombino to name a few). Visit their site and take a look around.

covergirl: el perro del mar

el perro

I just got El Perro del Mar’s upcoming album in the mail which reminded me of how better her covers are than her original songs. The new one, Love Is Not Pop, is a lot like her last one, From The Valley To The Stars— not bad, but kinda forgettable. She relies way too much on cuteness (too many la-la-las) to push her songs along, and the music, normally pretty mellow, sounds thin and lacking overall. Her best work is probably her self-titled that came out in ’06. In light of a new album and tour, here’s a couple of those covers that first came to mind:

1) Her cover of The Isley Brothers’ “(At Your Best) You Are Love”, which was the b-side to Lykke Li’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” 45, released during Record Store Day earlier this year.

2) “Here Comes That Lonely Feeling”, a great cover of this Gaylettes’ sure-shot.

amy winehouse eps

amy-winehouse ska ep (2)

Winehouse’s cover of The Speicals’ “Hey Little Rich Girl”, off The Ska ep, which you can purchase here.

I know I’m mad late on this, but nobody made noise about this Amy Winhouse ep. It’s a red 7-inch where she covers The Specials (“Hey Little Rich Girl”), Toots And The Maytals (“Monkey Man”), Andy & Joe (“You’re Wondering Now”) and Sam Cooke (“Cupid”). It’s just 4 tracks, all of which were either previously released b-sides or live takes, but they’re killer renditions– showing her talent and how it’s most obvious when she’s non-chalant about it (like in this video). Apparently, I like this a lot more than this guy did.

I heard of this through emails I’ve been getting about another upcoming ep of hers, The Nelson Mandela ep. It’s supposedly a 7″ of live versions of “(Free) Nelson Mandela”, “Valerie”, and “Rehab”, which comes out soon.

AGE’D MIX: El Fantasmas Espejo

age El Fantasmas Espejo Part_ 1

El Fantasmas Espejo (Part 1 of 2) is: “A mix I just did that’s from a large collection I was given 2 to 3 months ago from a former local radio DJ. It ranges from psych, soul, chicano anthems, covers, rock, balada, etc. It’s all over the place. All Latin records, all OGs, none re-issued and some below radar..til now,” according to AGE, Bay Area record junkie and local DJ/producer.

AGE’s last mix was a longtime favorite of mine. Listen and download his new one, El Fantasmas Espejo (which translates to “The Haunted Mirror”). Thanks holmes!

edan radio show #1 & #2

edan

We’re big Edan fans, so we’re always stoked when he does something new. Here’s a couple radio shows he did recently. According to him, they’re “very casual”. Show 1 has been around for a while; show 2 was recorded a couple months back. Both are really good (and long, over 2 hours each!). Part 2 is flooded with some of my favorite songs ever. Supposedly, there will be more of these radio shows to come. For now, check these out!

DOWNLOAD SHOW #1

DOWNLOAD SHOW #2

Here’s an interview we did with Edan.

mayer hawthorne’s a strange arrangement

mayer-hawthorne-strange arrangement (2)

After one listen (while skipping songs I’ve already heard), Mayer Hawthorne’s new full length, A Strange Arrangement, is pretty enjoyable. Expectations for it were high since his first single, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”, had us geeked for months. Other songs on the new one are much better than his second single, “I Wish It Would Rain“, which isn’t bad but didn’t surpass the (unfairly) high expectations I had for it.

The songs on A Strange Arrangement are varied, some are Motown-ish (“Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin'”), some are slow burners (“Shiny And New”) and others, total floor-stompers (“The Ills”). After an initial listen, “Let Me Know”, a killer track, stands out as Mayer abandons his falsetto steez for an almost Neil Diamond-esque delivery. And it works. “One Track Mind” sounds like a Marvelettes album cut and “Shiny And New”, a well-placed ballad, rounds out the album nicely. The only setback is his cover of The New Holidays’ “Maybe So, Maybe No” which, in his defense, is impossible to cover due to its delicate arrangement and insurmountable cult status; and “Prelude”, an unnecessary 20-second intro of vocals.

For a debut with immense hype, Mayer lives up to high hopes, delivering 12 self-produced songs that aren’t cheesy or overly imitative. In fact, between tracks #3-#11 lies an almost perfect EP. And while his voice isn’t the greatest, he understands soul music and knows how to write catchy songs. I’ve read about people questioning his authenticity, but being authentic doesn’t make your songs good– writing good songs do. I plan on covering this more for my various outlets as the September 8th release date nears (where it will come with 2 new songs on a free 4-inch single!).

For now, here’s an interview we did with Mayer a few months back, a new podcast he did for Stones Throw, and the youtube joint for his debut single that first turned heads.

*BONUS: Here’s Mayer’s version of the theme song from the TV show Weeds.

oh yesterday came suddenly

24 carat black 2

Later this month, Numero Group will put out Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday, the long lost followup to 24-Carat Black’s now-revered, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth. NERDTORIOUS features a lot of Numero’s stuff and we’ll keep doing so as long as they keep coming correct like this. The packaging, the histories, the photos (how dope is the one above?) and the music itself, are all stellar examples of Numero’s excellence. Here is Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday‘s backstory and some song snippets from it, including a lost track that Numero left off the upcoming release… Continue reading “oh yesterday came suddenly”

michael jackson (1958-2009)

Everyone has an opinion on MJ and that’s fine. My generation saw him at his most thrilling and a big part of my childhood is totally bummed. Remember Captain EO? Yeah, me too. Those images connect me to a much simpler time. Seeing a young Michael kill it on youtube won’t ever be the same again either. Tabloids, punchlines and ambivalence aside, Michael Jackson was one of the best to ever do it. His records are some of the finest ever made and today we celebrate our affection for them. Below are some of my favorite cuts from his Jackson 5 years. RIP, MJ. What a legacy.

little mj

*FIRST EVER JACKSON 5 SINGLE, “BIG BOY”

*MICHAEL DOING BILL WITHERS’ “AIN”T NO SUNSHINE”

*ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE JACKSON 5 SONGS (LATER SAMPLED BY PETE ROCK), “2-4-6-8”

*MJ’S VERSION OF THE ISLEY BROTHER’S “IT’S YOUR THING”

*”MAYBE TOMORROW”, A BALLAD MADE FAMOUS BY GHOSTFACE WHEN SAMPLED FOR “ALL THAT I GOT IS YOU”

*A KILLER (LIVE!) JACKSON 5 MEDLEY FROM DIANA ROSS’ SHORTLIVED TV SHOW, DIANA!

*”DOCTOR MY EYES”…….A JACKSON BROWNE COVER, THE MOST SLEPT ON JACKSON 5 TRACK OF ALL TIME!!!!!!

***AND “GOT TO BE THERE”, THE TITLE SONG TO MICHAEL’S FIRST SOLO ALBUM OF THE SAME NAME, OFF MOTOWN.

budos budos golly

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Staten Island’s Budos Band are back with a perfect EP for these summer nights. The tracks are from sessions between the making of their first self-titled release, The Budos Band, and its successor, Budos Band II. They’re from the Daptone family, so it’s tightly crafted per usual. They lean a bit more towards Afro-Soul, but do have touches of Jazz, Funk and Latin too. The musicans are part of a rotating cast that make up The Mighty Imperials, Menahan Street Band, The Dap Kings, and Sugarman 3. Included is a list of the band members (because these dudes don’t get enough individual credit) and for your downloading pleasure, “The Proposition”, a previously released 45 that’s also on the new EP. Continue reading “budos budos golly”

new verse from rick

slick rick

Edit of “Auditorium” featuring ONLY Rick’s verse, minus Mos and other nonsense.

Mos Def’s latest, The Ecstatic (which is listenable but weak overall), features a collab with The Ruler himself. On “Auditorium”, Rick talks about being in Iraq and eventually being hailed as the “Elvis of Baghdad”. It’s funny and is even slightly political, though not particularly catchy. I still think it’s interesting to hear Rick kick storyraps about modern settings. Rick didn’t say much about new projects when I spoke with him for Waxpoetics issue #31 but he did say a new album called The Adventure Continues was in the works. As one of my favorites, I’m always stoked to hear from Rick (even if it’s with this clown).