Thursday, July 29, 2010

Next Stop... Soweto Vol.3

Dennis Mpale - Orlando

Next Tuesday sees the release of Strut Records' third and final volume of the excellent Next Stop… Soweto series. The first two covered township jive and R&B and psych funk. Vol.3 is subtitled "Giants, Ministers and Makers - Jazz in South Africa 1963-1984" and it chronicles the jazz musicians who did not leave the country during the dark years of apartheid. They stayed and performed under the strict auspices of the Separate Amenities Act. The album features many South African jazz greats like saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and drummer Early Mabuza, and the potent soul jazz grooves of The Heshoo Beshoo Group and The Drive. Some of the artists created unique fusions, like Philip Tabane’s Malombo, mixing African drums and hand percussion with guitar, vocal and flute. This music is a defiant statement in the face of unimaginable cultural repression. You can't help but feel uplifted when you listen and that's a pretty remarkable feat.

Trumpeter Dennis Mpale was one of the regular players on the South African jazz scene splitting time between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and he plays in several of the outfits featured on Next Stop... Soweto Vol. 3. "Orlando" comes from an album under his own name, and is a tribute to his township.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Music Tuesday - Paper Tiger

John Samels is Minneapolis beat maker Paper Tiger. He is one of the primary beat crafters for the Doomtree crew which includes P.O.S., Dessa and Sims. He is also Doomtree's live DJ and resident graphic designer. And somewhere in between doing all of that he has managed to find the time to record an album of his own. Made Like Us hits record stores today. It is a sweet set of hip hop tunes with nary a rapper in sight. There are vocals - a couple of tracks with Dessa and one with Maggie Morrison (singer in Lookbook), and a lot of sampled snippets too. Remember the golden days of instrumental hip hop back in the mid '90s? This record totally takes me back to those days - DJ Shadow's Endtroducing is a clear influence. Crisply programmed beats, lovely piano riffs, a hint of some '80s electro flavor and lots and lots of layers will keep you entertained. Paper Tiger has name checked Portishead as an influence and you can see that connection on some of the mellower vocal tracks like Palace. Where a lot of people have tried to recreate that DJ Shadow deepness and failed, Paper Tiger gets it right and then some. I really dig this album. Get yer headphones on and drift away...

Paper Tiger - The Bully Plank

Paper Tiger on Twitter and Facebook

Video of Paper Tiger making beats

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Waxx Maxx

Waxx Maxx - Celine And Julie Go Boating

If you live in Minnesota you've probably heard of Mark Mallman. He's sort of a MN music institution. He is now part of a new band called Waxx Maxx. It is a collaboration between him on guitars and synths, singer Nicole Godiva and her sister, drummer Alyssa Brenny. If you're looking for some summery electro pop dance goodness you're in luck. Their debut song "Celine And Julie Go Boating"is a delightfully glitchy little number, and some of it is sung in French which just adds to the total chic-ness of it all. An EP is coming in November on Kindercore Records (home of Of Montreal and Maserati) and the band are going to give a away a new track a month on their website. If you live in the Twin Citie area they are playing LOL/OMG's party at the 501 Club on Thursday, August 5 with BNLX and Phantom Tails. Good stuff.