Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vieux Farka Touré-Mon Pays

In many West African cultures, the griot plays an important role at many different levels. Holders of histories, griots are storytellers, poets, and journalists, possessing both the ability to recount generations of history while immediately adding current events to that lineage as well.

Vieux Farka Touré's latest album Mon Pays effortlessly fits into Mali's rich music history while also presenting itself as a musical newsflash contrasting the turmoil that plagued the country in the last 18 months. In the griot tradition, histories and stories were passed down the generations through families; each griot passed his knowledge to his son, preserving cultural history. Vieux's father Ali Farka Touré has done just that. Although apparently he pushed Vieux towards a career in something else rather than music, Vieux is truly his father's son and rather seamlessly continues his father's musical legacy while also making a bold embrace of his country, his pays. Vieux links up with Sidiki Diabáte, son of Toumani Diabáte (who collaborated with Ali Farka Touré on the incredible In The Heart of the Moon album) and creates another stunning release which musically seems to acknowledge Mali's rich musical history while continuing to blaze ahead.

Buy Mon Pays here and listen to a sampler below:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crystal Fighters-Live in Madrid (Concert Review)

Music sounds best live, a simple concept that Griff and I not only push on these pages but also are trying to use as the seed to build something even bigger. Live shows are defined by moments, sparks of inspiration by the band, chats with fans, moments that make the crowd go nuts, or touch you in a meaningful way. Crystal Fighters' show last Tuesday in Madrid had all of these and more, making them a must see act while having me convinced that they're on the very brink of blowing up globally.

Crystal Fighters' lead singer Sebastian Pringle entered the venue dressed in a jacket that seemed like it was designed by a kindergarten aged girl: all glitter and flash. Singing the intro "Solar System" with his face covered an even more glittery shawl, he first appeared to be toeing the line between properly lubricated and out of control. Sebastian soon rallied and his combination of strong vocals, funky dance moves, and love of rocking out on the ukulele quickly won my girlfriend and I over.

After his raucous entrance Sebastian and the rest of the band (Gilbert on the piano, Graham on the guitar, Eleanor on backup vocals) both brought energy and fed off of the crowd, both sides playing off of each other to create an almost perfect buzz in the sala. Memorable moments abound: the Txalaparta (the Basque instrument that the band is fond of) falling off the stage and hitting a fan in the head (he was fine); a fan sneaking on stage (twice!), the second time staying and singing along with Graham; the band trying their best Spanglish out...

Their unique brand of music reminded me of a more electronic Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and like Edward and his merry crew, Crystal Fighters are full of good vibes. While sometimes bordering cheesy, their two albums are hitting an incredibly high percentage of hits to filler, and combine that with a killer live shows makes the band one to watch from now on.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Choice Nugs: Joomanji

Joomanji is the Santa Cruz based collective that pumps out some of the most rootsy and soulful vibes known to (wo)mankind. San Diego’s Jonah Christian provides an inspirational pulse while he tickles the whites releasing a plethora of savory sounds. Joomanji’s sound has an upbeat, almost, happy-go-lucky feel that is laced with sweet vocals and conscious lyrics. One of the many highlights is hearing Devin the Dude rip a bongload and bless the mic on the track “Toasted.”

Expect big things from this epic band.

You can also purchase the album here.