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InjusticiaProducer and guitarist Jacob Plasse has united some of his old friends-players from the Daptones, Pedrito Martinez Group, and Los Hacheros-to form Peliroja, a New York collective inspired by the sounds of Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the Congo. Injusticia is their debut album.
"Some of the musicians in Peliroja and I would meet up after school on Jane Street in the West Village, at a stoop with some Old English, a spliff, and a tape deck," says Jacob, best known as producer and musician for salsa masters, Los Hacheros. "We were gangly, awkward 15-year-olds and not cool by any means. I'm not sure how we became obsessed with obscure '70s funk and Afrobeat music, but that's what we would listen to: the 3 Sounds, Lyn Collins, Africa 70." Two decades later, his friends have gone on to become key players in the Brooklyn funk scene, and Jacob has spent the last ten years refining his music on the road with salsa and bachata bands.
Produced and cowritten by Plasse, Injusticia was recorded live to tape at his studio in Brooklyn, in the spirit of the music he was raised on. The groove to this music is deep and heard in the way the Daptones' rhythm section-drummer Homer Steinweiss and bassist Nick Movshon-play off the polyrhythms of Carlos Padron's timbales and Jhair Salas's congas, forming a new fusion of old sounds. Jainardo Batista's vocals soar over these rhythms, propelled forward by Mike Eckroth's mercurial arrangements.
"I think the experience of growing up in New York and getting to hear and play with all these wonderful musicians and having them in my life has let me create something that is true to myself, and hopefully them as well," Jacob adds. "This album is for those boys on the stoop who hadn't figured out how to be in this world, but were lucky enough to know what they loved."
- Wax Poetics1. Bohemio
4. Se Equivico
5. Te Wa' Tumblar
6. Honor Enjendrada
7. La Fobia
8. Mal Carrusel
9. Ciudad De Nadie
10. Ingrata Conclusion
11. Epilogue$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Brand New Wayo: Funk, Fast Times & Nigerian Boogie Badness 1979-1983
With this release, Comb & Razor Sound launches its exploration of the colorful world of popular music from Nigeria, starting with the post-disco era of the late 1970s and early 80s. The years between 1979 and 1983 were Nigeria's Second Republic, when democracy finally returned after twenty-three years of uninterrupted military dictatorship. They were also the crest of Nigeria's oil boom, when surging oil prices made the petroleum-producing country a land of plenty, prosperity and profligacy. The influx of petrodollars meant an expansion in industry and the music industry in particular. Record companies upgraded their technology and cranked out a staggering volume of output to an audience hungry for music to celebrate the country's prospective rise as global power of the future. While it was a boom time for a wide variety of popular music styles, the predominant commercial sound was a post-afrobeat, slickly modern dance groove that retrofitted the relentless four-on-thefloor bass beat of disco to a more laidback, upbeat-and-downbeat soul shuffle, mixing in jazz-funk, synthesizer pop and afro feeling. At the time, it was still mostly locally referred to as "disco," but has since been recognized as its own unique genre retrospectively dubbed "Nigerian boogie." A Brand New Wayo: Funk, Fast Times and Nigerian Boogie Badness collects 15 pulsing Nigerian boogie tracks in a lovingly compiled package chronicling one of the most progressive and creative eras in the history of African popular music.1. Mixed Grill - A Brand New Wayo
2. Kris Okotie - Show Me Your Backside
3. Murphy Williams - Get On Up
4. Joe Moks - Boys and Girls
5. Amas - Slow Down
6. Oby Onyioha - I Want To Feel Your Love
7. Dizzy K. Falola - Excuse Me Baby
8. Chris Mba - Funky Situation
9. Bayo Damazio - Listen to the Music
10. Martha Ulaeto - Music Alone
11. Segun Robert - Big Race
12. Amel Addmore - Jane
13. Honey Machine - Pleasure
14. The Stormmers - Love or Money
15. Emma Baloka - Letís Love Each Other$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Vinyl Box Set 4 Compiled by Erykah BaduKnitting Factory Records is proud to release the next installment
of the long-awaited vinyl reissues from the FELA KUTI catalog.
The inimitable Erykah Badu personally selected the seven albums
featured in this fourth box set. The artwork for each album has
been meticulously recreated from original album artwork, alongside
vintage vinyl label artwork.
Included in the box:
- Yellow Fever (1976)
- 7 LPs
- 20-page full-color booklet featuring: seven personal essays written
by Erykah Badu, seven in-depth commentaries by veteran music
journalist and Afrobeat historian, Chris May; song lyrics; and never
before published photos of Fela Kuti
- 16x24" Poster designed by Nigerian artist Lemi Ghariokwu, the creative
force behind 26 of Fela Kuti's album covers.
- No Agreement (1977)
- JJD (1977)
- VIP (1979)
- Coffin For Head of State (1980)
- Army Arrangement (1984)
- Underground System (1992)$119.99Vinyl LP Box Set - 7 LPs Sealed Buy Now
- 7 LPs
Master guitarist, Yonatan Gat (Monotonix) is back with 11 new punk inspired, improvisational, psychedelic mind melters. Recorded live by Chris Woodhouse (Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees) in less than 3 days during a US tour, the band went into the studio with just a few songs and ideas. The goal was to capture the riotous and intricate improvisations of the band's live show. Inspired by soundtrack virtuosos like Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota, Director is edited as a cinematic circular journey around the world, East to West and North to South. This journey is interconnected by field recordings that Gat has taken during his travels, giving it a feeling of space and time. The result is a genre-bending opus that finds the band seamlessly exploring different styles of music from Brazilian psych and Afrobeat to free jazz, surf and 20th century avant-garde, sometimes in the span of just one song. Gat's wildly inventive, reverb-drenched guitar offensive takes simultaneous lead and rhythm duties, backed by Gal Lazer's hard-hitting African-inspired grooves, and Sergio Sayeg's (of Brazilian garage rockers Garotas Suecas) pumping bass.1. East to West
2. Casino CafÉ
4. Gold Rush
5. Theme From A Dark Partie
6. North to South
9. Underwater Prelude
11. Tanto Que Nem Tem$18.99Colored Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Alagbon CloseAlagbon Close, originally released on the independent Jofabro label in 1974, marks the first full flowering of Afrobeat, as a music and as a principled political philosophy. Instrumentally, the album brings together the several signature elements of Fela's Afrobeat, which had not previously been moulded into such a unified, finely-balanced form on record. Lyrically, it is a full-on confrontation with an enforcing power of the Nigerian state: Alagbon Close in Lagos was the headquarters of the Nigerian Criminal Investigation Department. Many of the musical elements which make Alagbon Close so compelling can be heard on earlier recordings, but on this album, Fela pulled them all together to devastating effect, in the process creating the classic Afrobeat paradigm.1. Alagbon Close
2. I Know Get Eye For Back$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Alagbon Close (Colored Vinyl) (Pre-Order)Pressed On Gold Colored Vinyl
Alagbon Close, originally released on the independent Jofabro label in 1974, marks the first full flowering of Afrobeat, as a music and as a principled political philosophy. Instrumentally, the album brings together the several signature elements of Fela's Afrobeat, which had not previously been molded into such a unified, finely-balanced form on record. Lyrically, it is a full-on confrontation with an enforcing power of the Nigerian state: Alagbon Close in Lagos was the headquarters of the Nigerian Criminal Investigation Department. Many of the musical elements which make Alagbon Close so compelling can be heard on earlier recordings, but on this album, Fela pulled them all together to devastating effect, in the process creating the classic Afrobeat paradigm.1. Alagbon Close
2. I Know Get Eye For Back$24.99Colored Vinyl LP - Sealed PRE-ORDER Buy Now
A Long Way To The BeginningThe upcoming record from the reigning prince of Afrobeat - and follow-up to 2011's From Africa With Fury: Rise - was co-produced by Grammy winner Robert Glasper and features appearances from M-1 of dead prez, Blitz the Ambassador and Nneka. And so Fela's youngest child has full-steamed ahead with his own inimitable brand of Afrobeat: a sound as compelling as it was when Fela Anikulapo Kuti first fused jazz, funk and soul with highlife and other African rhythms - but with topical lyrics and contemporary influences giving it a modern twist and making it his tightest, most electrifying album yet.1. IMF
2. African Airways
3. Higher Conciousness
4. Ohun Aiye
5. Kalakuta Boy
6. African Smoke
7. Black Woman$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
He Miss RoadHe Miss Road combines the sound of James Brown-style 70s funk with a stripped down Afrobeat performance. Ginger Baker produced this ethereal, nearly psychedelic album with Tony Allen on drums, backed by Fela?s Africa 70 band. The title track refers to the ways in which people have lost their way ? and the ensuing chaos it causes.1. He Miss Road
2. Monday Morning In Lagos
3. It's No Possible$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ConfusionThis epic Afrobeat album contains just one eponymous track clocking in at just over 25 minutes in length, and beginning with a mysterious and psychedelic musical interplay between Fela on organ and Tony Allen on drums. As the song takes on a righteously funky groove, Fela evokes the chaos of Lagos - the multitude of regional dialects, the gnarly traffic jams, the absence of a policeman to take charge - as a metaphor for the larger problems of post-colonial Nigeria.1. Confusion Pt. I
2. Confusion Pt. II$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ShakaraShakara is one of a clutch of early 1970s albums - also among them this box's Fela's London Scene and Afrodisiac - on which Fela's Afrobeat transitioned from foetal stage to something approaching full-grown form. Shakara (1971) includes three of mature Afrobeat's signature ingredients. There are two guitarists, rhythm guitarist Tutu Shoronmu and tenor guitarist Segun Edo. The pair's repetitive, interlocking riffs - part melody, part rhythm - play a similar role to the rhythm and mi-solo guitars used in contemporary Congolese rumba. Fela's Broken English lyrics extend his music's audience beyond Yoruba speakers and make his words understandable across Anglophone Africa. And female backing vocalists echo Fela's lead vocals in what was to become Afrobeat's trademark call-and-response pattern. On release, Shakara's B-side, "Lady," was jumped on by the Nigerian press as Fela's contribution to a "war between the sexes." "I want tell you about lady-o," Fela sang. "She go want take cigar before anybody, she go want make you open the door for am, she go want the man wash plate for her for kitchen, she want sit down for table before anybody." By contrast: "Africa woman, she know the man na master, she go cook for him, she go do anything for him .But lady no be so, lady na master." "Lady," like 1975's "Mattress," has been interpreted by some as "anti-women." It was certainly in conflict with European feminist thought. However the lyric is interpreted, Fela was arguing from the particular in order to highlight the general: the adoption of European social habits to the detriment of African culture. Fela would address African men in similar fashion in "Gentleman" in 1973, lampooning their adoption of European suits, shoes and ties - which caused them to "smell like shit" in the African heat - before returning to the women in 1976 in "Yellow Fever," a song about the fashion for skin whitening creams. "Shakara" is a mainly instrumental track, with a brief lyric, sung in Yoruba, warning against boasters and braggarts. Up-tempo, with a suitably turbulent horn arrangement, it includes strong solos from Fela on keyboards and the fearsome Igo Chico on tenor saxophone.1. Lady
2. Shakara (Oloje)$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
A New Tide (Awaiting Repress)A New Tide marks a return to the always-freewheeling British band's more experimental roots, with songs like Win Park Slope and Airstream Driver evincing a spirit born of boundless imagination and a long-standing collaborative relationship. A wide range of styles is incorporated into A New Tide's matchless musicial brew. Flavors of Delta blues, psychedelia and Krautrock all come into play, resulting in a musically mischievous and remarkably forward-thinking collection. In short, A New Tide is Gomez at their inimitable, incomparable best.
A New Tide also sees Gomez accompanied by a number of illustrious guest musicians, including vocalist Amy Milan (Stars/Broken Social Scene), bassist Josh Abrams (The Roots, Sam Prekop, Godspeed You Black Emperor!), cellist Oliver Krauss (David Gray, Paul Weller, Beth Orton), and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Bogie of Brooklyn's world-renowned Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.1. Mix Listen
2. Little Pieces
3. If I Ask You Nicely
4. Lost Track
5. Win Park Slope
6. Bone Tired
7. Airstream Driver
8. Natural Reaction
9. Very Strange
10. Other Plans
11. Sunset Gates$19.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP w/ CD Insert -Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Everything ScatterEverything Scatter, originally released in 1975, is one of several masterpieces from early in Fela's mid-1970s purple period. In three extraordinarily productive years, Fela released 23 albums of new material (or perhaps 25 such albums, for the historical records are imprecise).
The purple period continued up to and immediately beyond the Nigerian army attack of 18 February 1977 which destroyed Fela's self-governing commune, Kalakuta Republic. By the time Everything Scatter was recorded, Fela had put all Afrobeat's key elements in place: the signature rhythms he had developed with drummer Tony Allen; edgy, jousting tenor and rhythm guitars; call and response vocals; fat horn arrangements and extended, jazz-based horn and keyboard solos; politically confrontational lyrics; and, crucially, the Broken English Fela adopted to take his message beyond Yoruba speakers.1. Everything Scatter
2. Who No Know Go Know$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Awaiting Repress)Strut are proud to announce the brand new studio album by one of Ghana's all-time great vocalists, "The Golden Voice Of Africa", Pat Thomas, in conjunction with the Kwashibu Area Band led by multi-instrumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Poets of Rhythm). Hailing from Kumasi, Thomas had lived with highlife legend King Onyina from a young age before working with Ebo Taylor in two of Ghana's great 1960s highlife big bands, Broadway Dance Band and Stargazers. They would collaborate regularly, Pat contributing vocals to Ebo's solo albums and Ebo arranging horns for Pat's songs. Both would become a mainstay of the '70s and '80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes, hitting big with the Ghana Cocoa Board-sponsored Sweet Beans band. Fela Kuti's bandleader, drummer Tony Allen, would record a session with Sweet Beans in Kumasi in 1975 (as yet unreleased). "Highlife was our music," Pat remembers. "People like Ebo and I modernised it, made it more relevant to our day. We took the Kwa music of Kumasi and other local styles and added Western elements." With his distinctive flowing vocal style, sung in Fanti and Ashanti Twi dialect, Pat became established as one of Ghana's biggest musical draws.1. Mewo Akoma
2. Gyae Su
3. Odoo Be Ba
4. Me Ho Asem
5. Oye Asem
6. Odo Adaada
8. Amaehu$27.99Vinyl LP + CD - 2 LPs Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Gentleman1973's Gentleman is the last of Fela's early 1970s transitional albums - it was followed by 1974's Alagbon Close, on which he brought all Afrobeat's signature ingredients together. On its title track, 1973's Gentleman presents one of Fela's most perfect lyrics, sung in call-and-response with the backing vocalists. "I no be gentleman at all," Fela sings, "Africa hot, I like am so; I know what to wear but my friend don't know; him put him socks him put him shoes; him put him pants him put him singlet; him put him trouser him put him shirt; him put him tie him put him coat; him come cover all with him hat; him be gentleman; him go sweat all over; him go faint right down .I no be gentleman at all-o; I be Africa man original." There's plenty more. As so often with Fela's songs, "Gentleman" can be interpreted literally or as metaphor concerning a wider issue. In this case, Fela's topic is the colonialism-induced inferiority complex which led many in Africa's new governing elites to reject African style, concepts of beauty and modes of behaviour in favour of European imports. It was a subject Fela returned to on 1976's Yellow Fever, whose title track attacked the craze for skin whitening creams among African women, and 1977's Johnny Just Drop, whose title track lampooned the social pretensions of Africans returning home after working or studying abroad. Gentleman's other tracks, "Fefe Naa Efe" and "Igbe," have briefer lyrics. On "Fefe Naa Efe," an Ashanti motto from Ghana, Fela tells a woman dumped by her boyfriend that she must get over the heartache and move on.1. Gentleman
2. Fefe Naa Efe
3. Igbe$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ADAD-POL-5616xSaturday Looks Good To Me
One Kiss Ends It AllIn their decade-plus existence, Saturday Looks Good To Me has never taken a typical path: endless line-up changes, shifts in sound from lo-fi 60's pop to experimental noise rock, a twisting discography heavy on one-off singles and bizarre package tours with afrobeat and freakfolk bands.
In 2012, bandleader and songwriter Fred Thomas returned with a fresh new line-up, including new vocalists Carol Catherine and Amber Fellows, but also with old friends from previous SLGTM incarnations like bassist Scott DeRoche and drummer Ryan Howard showing up for the fun.
The band's fifth proper album, One Kiss Ends It All, came together following the group's first tour after getting back in action, however the four years since their last full-length weren't spent cultivating this new batch of songs.
Instead, a spontaneous and breezy vibe flows through the album's 12 selections, drawing on the reference points of 60's pop and early indie rock, all filtered through the band's skewed pop lens.
Thomas' songs are always bittersweet, but short, uptempo rockers like Invisible Friend and Break In recall the open-hearted running melodicism of New Zealand kiwi-pop while more groove-oriented numbers like Polar Bear or Sunglasses meld electronic elements with the same sharp-edged attitude of the first Strokes album.
Even former SLGTM lead vocalist Betty Barnes (who now lives in Sweden) sings lead on two tracks: the doo-wop piano lament of Negative Space and the spare indie rock road trip The Ever-present New Times Condition.
Saturday Looks Good To Me's albums in the early 2000's (All Your Summer Songs, Every Night) predicted the reverb-saturated production and girl-group revisitations that indie rock would embrace several years down the road.
One Kiss Ends It All expands on those early lo-fi marvels and feels more like a revelation than a continuance.
With more sophisticated arrangements and melodies more direct and engaging than anything the band has ever done, the album feels like re-telling the details of a dream minutes after waking. Something new colliding with something that shouldn't make sense in a beautifully strange collage. And always more details hidden in the corners.1. One Kiss
2. Invisible Friend
3. Empty Beach
4. Negative Space
5. New City
6. The Everpresent New Times Condition
7. Break In
8. Polar Bear
9. Are You Kissing Anyone?
12. Space Children$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
SONM-LEG-79212xPreservation Hall Jazz Band
So It IsPreservation Hall Jazz Band have announced the release of their new album, So It Is, the septet's second release featuring all-new original music, releasing via Legacy Recordings. So It Is finds the classic PHJB sound invigorated by a number of fresh influences, not least among them the band's 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba.
In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face to face with our musical counterparts, says bandleader/composer/bassist Ben Jaffe. There's been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one - we're family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it's part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.
Producer David Sitek, a founder of art rock innovators TV on the Radio who has helmed projects by Kelis, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Santigold among others, offered both a keen modern perspective and a profound respect for the band's storied history. Upon arriving in New Orleans to meet with the band, Sitek recalls he and Jaffe accidentally stumbling into one of the city's famed second-line parades. I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediate, he says. I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.
The music on So It Is, penned largely by Jaffe and 84 year-old saxophonist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the entire PHJB, stirs together that variety of influences like classic New Orleans cuisine. Longtime members Jaffe, Gabriel, Clint Maedgen and Ronell Johnson have been joined over the past 18 months by Walter Harris, Branden Lewis and Kyle Roussel, and the new blood has hastened the journey into new musical territory. Inspired by that journey and reinvigorated by the post-Katrina rebuilding of their beloved home city, PHJB are redefining what New Orleans music means in 2017 by tapping into a sonic continuum that stretches back to the city's Afro-Cuban roots, through its common ancestry with the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and the Fire Music of Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane, and forward to cutting-edge artists with whom the PHJB have shared festival stages from Coachella to Newport, including legends like Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and the Grateful Dead and modern giants like My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and the Black Keys.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band:
BEN JAFFE - Bass (upright), Tuba, Percussion
CHARLIE GABRIEL - Saxophone (tenor), Clarinet
CLINT MAEDGEN - Saxophone (tenor), Percussion
RONELL JOHNSON - Trombone
WALTER HARRIS - Drums, Percussion
KYLE ROUSSEL - Piano, Wurlitzer, Organ
BRANDEN LEWIS - Trumpet1. So It Is
4. La Malanga
6. One Hundred Fires
7. Mad$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The High FrontierLumerians release The High Frontier on through Partisan Records. The name for the album comes from a term coined by Gerard K. O'Neil in his illustrated 1976 book depicting human colonisation of space. The High Frontier contains Krautrock inspired exploration, Afrobeat's ritualistic rhythms, post-punk guitar noise and cracked-glacÉ synth lines culled from perverse 1970s sci-fi soundtracks.
It's a cacophony of sound in which Lumerians acknowledge the role noise and rhythm has always played in transcendent and ecstatic rituals the world over, from the repetitious drums of tribal animists to the penetrating electronic pulses of neon dance clubs.
The six tracks and 33 minutes that make up The High Frontier were recorded and produced in Lumerians' self-built studio/brewery: a room housed in a converted store-front church in a neighbourhood affectionately referred to as the "Murder Dubbs".
The High Frontier brings back the sound of prog rock that was so familiar in the 70s. Uncut described the album as: "a fruitful collision between Boredoms, Neu! and the Grateful Dead" and they are spot on.
Track one Dogon Genesis could easily fit itself into the 70s with no questions asked. Dogon Genesis is a fantastic first track that prepares the listener for the rest of the album. Dogon Genesis could refer to the Dogon tribe of Mali which gives a good indication of how bonkers the record is.
Title track The High Frontier has a completely different sound to that of Dogon Genesis. It's a slower tempo with more deep, bass tones coming through. The drum beat produces a mesmerising rhythm alongside the swooping synth sounds.
Previously disclosed track, The Bloom follows the same theme as The High Frontier. It's strange and eery. It is probably the most experimental song on the record which introduces lots of sounds and plays with the concepts of prog rock to create a brilliantly atmospheric track. The synth sounds heard at the beginning almost sound like sirens, building a sense of tension and fear into the listener.
Koman Tong breaks the album away from eerie and unnerving and plunges it into summer happiness. Koman Tong is still very experimental but it starts to introduce the idea of world influences into Lumerians' music, the guitar is distorted leading it to sound faintly like a sitar in parts while gongs and bells can be heard in the background. It's the best track on the record by far. There is just so much to catch and involve yourself in that you will instantly become lost in the music - cliched as it may sound.
Smokies Tangle turns the album back to its 70s prog rock style while the last track, Life Without Skin again oozes world influences, foreign vocals and jazz inspired drum beats to create a superb end track. It has a fantastic rhythm and melody and can easily be placed as one of the best songs on The High Frontier. It's also one of the only tracks on the album that uses influences from Lounge - think Bonobo vs prog rock and you're almost there.
The High Frontier is a mesmerizing account of weirdness and oddity that will leave you wanting to hear more. Each track has so many layers to it that you really will become immersed in this record. It's 33 minutes of experiments, fusion of genres and rule-breaking in the music world. A triumph.
- Rocking Republic1. Burning Mirrors
2. Black Tusk
3. Shortwave Fields
4. Atlanta Brook
6. Calalini Rises
8. Melting Space
9. Gaussian Castles$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
DreamlandNatalie Bergman has had her picture taken on countless occasions -- hundreds of studio portraits and live shots and backstage festival snaps. But the simple, gorgeous black & white photo of Bergman on the cover of Wild Belle's Dreamland that she describes as just me and this sort of abyss That one was lensed by the person who best knows how to capture her essence on celluloid: Her older brother and bandmate, Elliot Bergman. Besides being Wild Belle's multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, Elliot has an equally impressive flair for visual arts, from painting and sculpture to bronzemaking and photography. An avid collector of vintage cameras, Elliot brought along a recently acquired Polaroid Land Camera to a show Wild Belle played in Denver this summer: The duo grabbed a quick moment at their hotel to take the portraits of each other that grace the front and back of their new record. The pictures Elliot takes of me are always really beautiful and it's because he knows me better than anyone else on this Earth, says Natalie. Adds Elliot: I like that it's a photo of Natalie just being Natalie. And the stark contrast of her in the foreground with the dark background really fit with these collages she has been doing. Natalie is in the light but the shadows are pretty heavy and you can't really tell where she is or what's back there.
Recorded at studios in their native Chicago, Natalie's new home of Los Angeles, Nashville and Toronto, Dreamland -- Wild Belle's bold, evolutionary new album -- derives from an era in the singer's life when she was struggling to get control of what she describes as the anger and deep sorrow that plagued her at the end of her most recent romantic relationship. For a woman whose music has always been inspired by her desire to translate her complicated feelings into immediately relatable songs, there was certainly plenty of grist for the mill. Dreamland tracks such as Losing You and It Was You (Baby Come Back) offer glimpses of the darkness that Natalie battled during the early months writing for the duo's sophomore full-length. But there are also genuine moments of lightness and ecstatic triumph, like Giving Up On You -- an irresistibly kinetic, punk number Wild Belle recorded with TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek producing.
I was very heated when we were making this record. My body, my heart and my soul were filled with a flame, which sounds very dramatic but it's the truth, says Natalie. I had a healing moment when I moved to LA earlier this year, because I was far away from my ex and I felt like I was getting rid of a lot of baggage. That was the redemptive, triumphant time for my lyrics. On 'Giving Up On You,' I sing: 'Now I smile so bright, you can see me from outer space, look at me shine. Baby it's about time, I was so miserable and now I feel so alive.' All the songs I wrote near the end of making the album have that sentiment: 'Now look at where I am, after all the turmoil that was inside of me, I'm here and I'm happy and I'm ready for whatever comes my way.'
The follow-up to 2013's Isles, Dreamland expands the band's ambitions in every way. It's deeper, it's more fun, it's more haunting, it's got more grooves, Elliot says. There's sorrow and pain but there's also hope and joy -- all those things can coexist in the songs because they coexist in life. He continues: Dreamland, that's not some kind of idealized notion of where we live and I hope people hear that as a question: What is the Dreamland What is our dream here The album doesn't get overtly political, but we're dealing with a lot of the things that are dark about what's happening now. 'Throw Down Your Guns' is about a relationship but is also kind of about the messed up situation that we're in right now. The chorus, 'Throw down your guns / In the name of love, I put my hands up,' to me can be heard in a number of ways, including as a prayer for peace or a cry out against violence.
Importantly, the album also shares its name with one of the first songs Natalie remembers Elliot introducing her to: Bunny Wailer's 1970 reggae classic, Dreamland. One year for Christmas, he gave her a compilation of female artists who recorded at Jamaica's legendary Studio One, and it included Della Humphrey's version of the song. Natalie listened to it over and over and over again. I was so in love with it, she says. From there, I started my exploration of rocksteady and ska and lovers rock and anything that had to do with Jamaican music from the Fifties onward.
The duo started writing music together several years ago, after Elliot took a sixteen year-old Natalie on tour to play percussion with his acclaimed Afrobeat ensemble, NOMO. I can present a song to Elliot and he has this foresight -- he can see things further than I see them, and he helps me realize things, she says. I'd been writing very simple melodic love songs since I was fifteen years old. I definitely have a pop sensibility in my style, and that's a great platform for Elliot to work from, because it's fun for him to have a cool little pop song and combine it with more eccentric sounds and make it into a weird, unique percussive jam. Sometimes he'll bring the jam to me and because we've got this routine together, we can write a song together wherever we are.
Work on the album began in early 2014, in Chicago. The song that opens Dreamland -- Mississippi River -- was also the first one to come together in the studio. It was sparked by a moment of musical serendipity: The record starts with this pulsing ARP drone, says Elliot, which is a very expensive esoteric nerdy synthesizer that's complicated to program. Natalie and I had this weird, symbiotic thing where I was playing three chords off the ARP and she started playing different three chords on this out-of-tune autoharp she brought over. They were both completely in the wrong key, and yet perfectly in tune with each other. That was like the new bar for the record. It was like, 'Yeah, we're going to put synthesizers and saxophone and kalimbas on these songs, and we're going to have lavish string arrangements if we want to. We were getting comfortable with all of the materials that we love, and being like, 'I love this, so let's do it.
They tracked several songs at home in Chicago last year, and then at the start of 2015, Natalie packed all of her belongings into the Wild Belle van and drove from Chicago to Venice, California. She rented a house where Elliot joined her a couple weeks later. When I had my place in Venice, Elliot would wake up earlier than I would and start making dope beats, says Natalie. One day he made this ridiculous song, 'The One That Got Away,' and the beat and underlying track were so exciting that it didn't take very long to write. Our friends came over and were jumping on the tabletops, dancing, getting naked because they loved the song so much.
Playing the new songs at Lollapalooza for the first time with an eight-piece band, says Elliot, I had a feeling onstage that I'd never had before with Wild Belle, where you're part of a sound that's much bigger than you could make on your own. It's this charged-up badass feeling. It's about a groove and rhythmic energy and force and momentum and making a big, dark, deep sound -- something that moves people and makes you want to dance and makes you want to shout. It's tapping into a deeper musicality that I've always been looking for.1. Mississippi River
2. Losing You
6. Giving Up On You
7. It Was You
8. Throw Down Your Guns
9. The One That Got Away
10. Our Love Will Survive
11. Rock & Roll Angel$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Memory DrawingsThe follow-up to their debut Noumena. Though the music on this release is familiar, there's a depth to both the performance and production that feels new. The direct-to-analog tape mix is used as another instrument to help shape each song, channeling the mythos of late 60s jazz and late 70s dub classics. They've also expanded their influences with shades of afro-beat and disco-soul.1.If Wishes Were Like Horses
3.I Had A List And I Lost It
4.Years Gone By
4.Floating Truth$19.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
UltraistaFormed in London in 2011, Ultraista is a multimedia trio founded on a mutual love of Afrobeat, electronic and dance music, visual art, and tequila. Its members are Parisian vocalist/fine artist Laura Bettinson, and multi-instrumentalist/producers Nigel Godrich and Joey Waronker (whose collective resumes read like a guide to groundbreaking and continuously influential modern music).1. Bad Insect
2. Gold Dayzz
3. Static Light
4. Strange Formula
5. Our Song
8. Party Line
9. Wash It Over
10. You're Out$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Dance Into The Light1996's Dance Into The Light presented a flavor of the unexpected as elements of world music came to the fore, most notably with flourishes of Afrobeat-styled percussion on several tracks. Both the album and its title track reached the Top 10 upon release. It concludes with a new take on Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin'.
Available as 2-LP 180-gram, which features the remastered album and the additional content.LP 1
1. Dance Into The Light (2016 Remastered)
2. That's What You Said (2016 Remastered)
3. Lorenzo (2016 Remastered)
4. Just Another Story (2016 Remastered)
5. Love Police (2016 Remastered)
6. Wear My Hat (2016 Remastered)
1. It's In Your Eyes (2016 Remastered)
2. Oughta Know By Now (2016 Remastered)
3. Take Me Down (2016 Remastered)
4. The Same Moon (2016 Remastered)
5. River So Wide (2016 Remastered)
6. No Matter Who (2016 Remastered)
7. The Times They Are A-Changin' (2016 Remastered)$31.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
REDI-DAP-1510xMenahan Street Band
Make The Road By Walking (Awaiting Repress)The Menahan Street Band is a collaboration of musicians from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, El Michels Affair, Antibalas and the Budos Band, brought together by musician/producer Thomas Brenneck (Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Budos Band, Amy Winehouse) to record hits in the bedroom of his Menahan St. apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. With influences reaching beyond the funk/soul/afrobeat architecture of their own projects with the more ethereal realms of Curtis Mayfield and Mulatu Astatke, the Menahan Street Band creates a unique new instrumental soul sound that is as raw as it is lush.1. Make the Road by Walking
2. Tired of Fighting
3. Home Again!
4. Montego Sunset
10. Going the Distance [From Rocky]$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
RingerThe Ringer mini album is a 32 minute, four-track excursion into the kind of wide-open spaces you might find if you set out to make techno with an afrobeat/ krautrock sensibility. Ringer locks together gloriously rich synthesizer arpeggios; ôWing Body Wingö slips from crisp clusters of disco percussion to Steve Reich polyrhythms; and in between are another two euphoric ripples of sound, ôRibbonsö and ôSwimmer.ö The techno heartbeat comes from Kieran HebdenÆs regular DJ residences over the last couple of years as well as his ongoing collaborations with legendary jazz drummer Steve Reid. Whether in the studio or live, Kieran and Steve often click into the kind of deep 4/4 grooves that can depart in any direction with a little adjustment. Ringer carries that minimal pulse over into Four Tet, and while KieranÆs trademark recuttings of jazz breaks may be less in evidence, his feel for harmony and melody is, as always, unmistakable.1. Ringer
4. Wing Body Wing$14.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
UNIM-GLA-2336xTwo Door Cinema Club
Tourist HistoryNorthern Irelands Two Door Cinema is a music-mad trio whose debut album fizzes with invention and sparkling tunes. Rooted in rock and pop, with elements of electronica/electro, and Afro-beats, the sum is greater than any indie electro pop parts
Recorded in London at Eastcote Studios and produced by Elliott James (Bloc Party, Noah And The Whale) with a number of tracks mixed by Phillipe Zdar (Phoenix, Justice, Cassius), the album simply multiplies the singles surfeit of ideas and sounds. The opening track, Cigarettes In The Theatre, perfectly displays the bands light-footed yet hard-driving energy, highlighted by Alexs vocal melody, with its almost dreamy brand of urgency. Its followed by Come Back Home, a sequel of sorts; introducing a bed of woozy synths that build and act as a launching pad for a digi-funk backdrop that bounces, swings and rocks behind Alexs confessions of relationships-past.1. Cigarettes In the Theatre
2. Come Back Home
3. Undercover Martyn
4. Do You Want It All?
5. This Is the Life
6. Something Good Can Work
7. I Can Talk
8. What You Know
9. Eat That Up, It's Good for You
10. You're Not Stubborn
11. Undercover Martyn Flexin' It$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now