Wassup Rockers

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the soul category.

WFMU Record Fair 2009.

I went to the record fair today, a nice closing punctuation mark to CMJ.  Not that I did anything CMJ-related this year, whereas I seriously waited all year long to go to the fair today.  Thinking I’d learned my lesson last year, this time I decided to budget myself and also made a mental list of things I wanted: God Is For Real, Man, Del Shannon and Roy Orbison, and maybe some Carter Family shit.

So how did I end up dropping $40 on just two records?  Obviously it’s not that much, but I was really hoping to find a shitload of beat up $5 records, so an average of $20 per record is a little much.  I just entered the place and was immediately overwhelmed, as usual.  After sweeping up and down the aisles, I decided there were definitely some things I wanted (and could afford, cos God knows how much shit I really really wanted and couldn’t pay for it).

I specifically want to bitch about this Ska Au Go Go album that I wanted.  I saw it, noted in my mind to come back to it, and kept looking for other cool shit.  (Leonard Nimoy reading HG Wells, anyone?)  Anyway, when I finally finished making my round of all the exhibitors about 20 minutes later, I went back to the spot and looked all through the crate and… it wasn’t there!  No–it was in the hands of some guy standing right next to me.  So I kinda waited a couple of minutes to see if he was gonna let go of the record so I could swoop in on that shit.  Alas, he held on to the LP pretty tightly.  Damn you, dude!!  Heh, just kidding.  I understand how these things go: you snooze, you lose.  That’s okay, I was mostly intrigued that there was a track called “I Should Have Known Better.”  Well I just downloaded that shit, and indeed, it’s a cover of the Beatles song.  Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.  Sigh, if only that record was in my hands…

Well, the more expensive one is a double LP, which inconveniently doesn’t even come in a gatefold sleeve.  It’s just a greatest hits called A Arte de Tim Maia.  It’s hilarious, almost every song sounds fine except for “Não quero dinheiro,” which skips a bit.  I imagine that whoever owned the record first played the shit out of that song, and who am I to blame them?  My dad looked at the record and pointed out that title, to which I asserted, “THAT’S THE BEST SONG IN THE ENTIRE THING!!” even though this statement might not be true.  Anyway, I felt kinda wack about having paid “so much” for the record when I’d gone into the Metropolitan Pavilion looking for deals, but by the time I got to side B of the second LP, I was just crying and crying from the thrill and the honor of getting to hear this seriously beautiful music. In conclusion, it was totally worth the money and I’m very happy with this find, even if it’s a minor Best Of.

The less expensive (but still kinda costly) record is a compilation of Chilean jazz from the first half of the 20th century.  I haven’t listened to it and I’m kind of scared to.  The seller had several records that seriously caught my eye, including a nice copy of a Joe Cuba Sextet record that cost less than the Chilean jazz one, but I wondered, “Which album is more likely to be here next year?”  I understood that Chilean jazz ain’t as in demand over here as, say, bugalú, but at the same time it’s more rare to see a record of Chilean music at all, so I decided to go with it.  Plus, the Chilean record is sealed!  Do I dare open it?  Of course!  I can’t wait to see what treasures it contains.

I don’t know that my experience was wild as previous years–for some reason the whole affair seemed a bit more muted today, did I imagine it–but I still had a lot of fun.  The best genres to check out were the kids’ albums.  My friend and I found a Topo Gigio record!!  He was da bomb.

I’ve been all right, just listening to a lot of this and that.  One of my classmates burned me a copy of The Saturdays’ Chasing Lights, which is surprisingly excellent.  So many of the songs could have been major singles, really!  I’m smarting from the Sugababes breakup fiasco, so at least it’s nice to see that there’s a new generation of pop tarts bringing cute escapist ditties to the masses.  They don’t write their own songs, but they do sing live!

Also, I’ve gone back to obsessing over Zoé.  Mostly because I randomly developed a crush on Sergio, their guitarist?  Mostly because I get the feeling that he’s one of those betas who could really be an alpha if he wanted, but he can’t be bothered because he already knows he’s fucking awesome and doesn’t need that validation?  Regardless, I’ve been going through their old stuff and I’m loving it.  I found an episode of Verdad y Fama on YouTube featuring the band and they pretty much verify that the band members, especially León, are pretty much fried out of their minds, not that it was too hard to tell.

Dude, watch that video!  It’s not even their best song, but look at the way people are singing along.  It’s a huge fucking crowd and they all know all the fucking words.  It’s amazing.  I love this band so much, I wish they’d come to NYC more often.

I’m finally looking forward to stuff, too, after a long funk of not caring about what was next.  First, I can’t wait for the new Shakira, which seems like it’s becoming an unmarketable dud for her label.  I can’t believe “She Wolf” hasn’t really taken off, “Loba” is doing pretty well on MTV Tr3s and I personally fucking love that song. Awooooo…!!  The last English album of hers I bought was Laundry Service, which in hindsight I find a bit blah, but this single has me really excited and I’m totally gonna buy the new album.  I also found out that Gustavo Cerati, god bless his Jewfro’d self, just released a new album and I can’t wait to track it down and listen to it.  Not only that, Javiera Mena is finally gonna release her second full-length (about time!!) and apparently she did a song with Jens Lekman!  Hope it turns out well.  She’s also busy at the moment opening for Kings of Convenience, who also have a new album out and I’m trying to decide whether I want to hear it.  My undying crush on Erlend tells me to do it, but half of the time I find their shit beautiful and the other half I find it boring.

Y’know what I mean?


Jamie Lidell, Janelle Monáe, etc @ Central Park SummerStage.

Fui a Central Park pa’ ver el concierto de Jamie Lidell, Janelle Monáe, Little Jackie, José James, y el “dejota” Gilles Peterson. The concert was really loud. I know I keep saying that about every concert or movie I attend, but it just stresses me out. I also hate seeing so many kids running around at these things without any earplugs or headphones on; they’re gonna ruin their hearing like that. For some reason it makes me want to punch their parents, which is a pretty unfair statement because it’s hard enough to be a parent without having some childless douchebag blogger talk shit about you on the internets cos you forgot to cover your kids ears’ at one measly loud show. ANYWAY.

Janelle Monáe totally stole the show today, no offense to el señor Lidell. I think the best non-musical part of her set was when she took the time to tuck her hair back in place. I don’t know how she gets her hair like that, but basically in pictures it always looks impeccable. During the first song I thought it might be frozen in place, but girlfriend shakes it like a Polaroid picture (yay for 5-year-old pop culture references) so her pretty hair got all messed up. Bee tee dubs, Janelle is mad flaquita, it’s true. Like when she would stand in profile she would disappear cos she was so skinny. Nah, nah, I’m just playin’.

I should really talk about her music, right? Okay, well, it was fucking awesome. It was my first time being exposed to her and I’m tellin’ y’all, I’ve caught the virus!! Especially cos you’re like, “Oh, she just crazy, doin’ moves she learned at the James Brown School of Rock, blah blah,” pero then she busts out Chaplin’s “Smile” and you’re like… “Oh, hi. I love you.” [In Oprah voice:] She can siiiiiiing, y’all!!! Monáe really stands out because production-wise, she’s not part of that retro female army that seems to have cropped up post-Amy Winehouse‘s success. Instead, she talks about robots and shit, and is more forward-sounding too. It’s like the “All is Full of Love” robots come to life and singing about their experiences.

Dude, her band was cool, too. What was up with the one dude who was dressed like he was ready to go golfing? He was just pushin’ buttons and shit, but he was so happy to be there, and he knew every word to her songs.

I was kinda offended cos Little Jackie went on after la señorita Monáe. I don’t mean to dis cos I’ve only heard their one single, “The World Should Revolve Around Me,” but come on, Monáe has been hyped so much and she is obviously (1) a fantastic performer and (2) a more interesting musician. Pffft. I held my final judgment until the set ended, but after seeing their set, I couldn’t take the band too seriously. On record, the single is flawed but catchy, but live, it was much more underwhelming. I feel sorry for them. If they’d been stuck with a more lackluster lineup, they might have had a greater effect on me. It’s not that the group didn’t try. The one thing they had was good stage presence. I liked that they had their whole act down, like how the backup vocalists pulled out a lot of girl group moves that were really charming. But if you think about it, there were like six or seven people on stage, and the performance was pretty mild compared to some other musical acts I’ve seen. At first everyone was enthusiastic and still reeling from that high of having witnessed Janelle Monáe do her thing, but as Little Jackie’s set continued, less people seemed invested in cheering on the group. It didn’t help that they have a song titled “LOL,” which had so much more potential to be hilarious, but they delivered it with straight faces.

Having heard the other groups, it was interesting to notice how hard Lidell’s band rocks. I mean, not when he was alone on stage buggin’ out and doing all the crazy electronic shit, but when he’s with the other four awesome dudes in his group, la música suena muy rocanrol. It makes an interesting counterpoint to the vocals which are so much more soul-based. The arrangements reminded me of early rock music. Am I making sense? Whatever.

So Lidell was dressed like mofuckin’ matador, the bassist/guitarist looked like a parachuting Elvis, the sax-y dude was in a robe, the drummer was dressed in all green which reminded me of Peter Pan, and the keyboardist… actually, the keyboardist looked like a regular civilian. It was nice to find out this music works well in sunshine. Just puts a smile to your face, y’know? Lidell’s voice was in tip-top shape. The performance was enthusiastic and fun, and people were very receptive, though I think he would have benefited from a smaller crowd. Even Lidell had to give props to Janelle. (Earlier, he actually watched her entire performance and he just had a goofy smile on the entire time. He was so tickled by her act.) I think the phrase he used was, “That’s the craziest shit I’ve seen in a long time,” but mind you, that’s no direct quote.

I did see the opener, Jose James, but it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying too much attention. He seemed like he was all feel-good vibes yesterday. I don’t really get jazz, so I don’t know if he was “good” or “bad,” but part of me thinks that if he really stood out he would have caught my attention. Is this a fair statement?

And about the DJ, Gilles Peterson… it was a good set, although my music taste doesn’t jive too much with his. Biggest surprise: he mixed Violeta Parra‘s “Arauco tiene una pena” with some really hard techno beat. I was perplexed by the choice. Luckily, he redeemed himself by following the song with “A Message to You, Rudy.”

Jamie Lidell @ Bowery Ballroom, 6/9 (2nd Night).

[Note: This was written last night.] Well, just got back from my first Jamie Lidell concert, and I hope it’s not the last.

Can I tell you something hilarious and sad before I move on to the concert review? The Bowery Ballroom was two blocks away from the D train stop, but I was unfamiliar with the area, so I went the wrong way and ended up walking around in the heat for twenty minutes before I finally found Bowery and was able to find the venue. How pathetic is that? The worst part is that, after having sneered at Miranda Hobbes in the Sex & the City movie for being so awkward in fucking Chinatown, I was just as uneasy about asking for directions and found my way by myself. Definitely not my finest moment.

Jennifer O’Connor did nothing for me. I know that in the age of MySpace and all, it feels like every little obscure band has fans, but I just can’t imagine anyone ever saying, “ZOMG I’M LIKE THE BIIIIIGGEST JENNIFER O’CONNOR FAN EVZ!” (See: 7248 friends on her profile as of today, guess I’m wrong.) Well, she shattered my low expectations, I thought it was going to be some fragile heartbroken skinny girl singing in a whispery voice and strumming some sort of traditional folky tunes and confessional ditties. (Hey, whatever happened to Joanna Newsom…?) Instead, Jennifer O’Connor came out in her full-bodied, Public Enemy shirt-wearing glory, doing this pop rock thing of hers that, admittedly, was very polished. It’s just that after four or five songs I felt, “Okay, I get the point,” and when I thought about it, it really felt like if she’d been one of those female singer-songwriters who emerged in the mid- to late-90s, she probably wouldn’t have stood out enough to be remembered. (Hey, whatever happened to that girl who lived in her van…?)

I think the other thing that bothered me was that she had no chemistry with the bassist and the drummer. I understand she’s a solo artist, but I was very surprised that the two dudes were so on point with their parts, because she hardly interacted with them. It’s like, they were well-trained and ready to play, but there was no spark among the three, which was kind of a bummer to watch, especially because the arrangements weren’t very interesting or memorable. Thinking back on the set, I imagine I liked a few of the songs, but I couldn’t tell you which ones.

Even before I saw O’Connor, I found it a very odd pairing with Jamie Lidell, and after finally seeing Lidell, I stand by this thought. Damn, seriously, she didn’t even compare in terms of performance. What was great was that, after having a certain idea of who Jamie Lidell is as a musician, this concert both solidified and challenged the way I view him. You see, I understand that he has a schtick, and he does nothing to distance himself from it. He does present himself as this really fly nerd, a mad scientist who’s perpetually poppin’ caffeine pills so he can stay awake and work on some crazy jams, etc. And I kinda believed that, like if I ever bumped into him on the street I’d be too scared to speak to him because I don’t know what to make of him.

(Dude was completely clean-shaven, which I didn’t expect either. Most of the pictures I’ve seen of him show him as a scruffy mess, so I took it personally and was almost honored to see him without any facial hair. But now that I think of it, I’m sure he shaved because it was so damn hot.)

On the stage, I got to see he’s capable of being a high-functioning member of society, that he can break out of his kookiness and just give a big smile out of gratitude that so many folks showed up to enjoy his show, you know? Like when he handed over the mic to people, he seemed genuinely pleased that these people were singing along. It hit me that he’s not some artiste wrapped up in his own musical world and that, instead, he is able to connect with others around him.

Lidell sounds really good with a live band, his voice is incredible. Seriously, it’s a little raw in terms of texture but he’s a very very good singer. Definitely works the quirks to his advantage. I think my favorite performance was “Green Light,” not only because it is my current favorite on Jim, but also because it was preceded by this long spoken intro about having had a dream where he had to give his nephew some of his wisdom. Or I think he said that, because I could only understand half the shit he said. (I’m bad with accents AND my hearing is shoddy.)

I’m not saying the entire show was flawless, there was a bit that I didn’t actually dig as much, even though I danced through it just as hard. See, when the show ended, I felt like he’d hardly played any of his songs, maybe like ten of them. When I checked my watch, however, I noted that he had played for almost an hour and a half. So what was the dealio? See, in the middle of the set, his bandmates conga-lined off the stage and left Lidell to his own devices. It was like twenty solid minutes of madness on his laptop and assorted gadgetry. By the end I was like, “Okay, this is bordering on masturbatory…” You know, fun for the individual, but not as much for the people watching. Of course there were some hard beats and he showed how adept he is at what he does, but to me, it sounded like… noise. That’s why at the end of the show I felt like he hadn’t played that many songs, because I discounted that entire section of improvised beats and samples. During this section he played “When I Come Back Around,” but it was completely reworked. In theory this was nice, it’s always wonderful to approach familiar songs in new and exciting ways, but in practice it was disappointing because this is my favorite song on Multiply because it already has such a great arrangement. Oh wells.

You know something though? The thing that really made it worth it, that really made me feel like I was experiencing something special, was that he really seemed happy to be there and to share his songs with us. Not just him, either, all his bandmates and even the dudes chronicling the show on camera, too. It’s so weird, I expected Lidell to be pretty goofy, but he found four other guys on the same goofy wavelength that he’s on. They just seemed to be enjoying each other and enjoying their roles in the whole shebang. It made me happy because, while bands are usually very grateful you‘re there, you don’t always sense that they want to be there. Lidell and his motley crew, however, seemed fucking ecstatic.

It was the first concert I’d gone to in a looooooong time, so it was lovely to have broken my semi-retirement from live shows by going to this one.

Oh, another thing: dude had the flyest shoes ever. Seriously. I totally wanted a pair.

Tape Delay.

Uh, so I signed up for this Muxtape thing which will probably be destroyed in like 10 seconds by some party trying to sue the website (I can just feel it in my bones!). So far it’s not too hot. I’ve only been able to upload 1 song and it’s been taking superlong for the site to upload a second, longer song. Here‘s a link to my single uploaded song, anyway. It’s a totally brilliant song.

Oh! And I cannot praise Jamie Lidell’s new album enough. My friend J (see link on sidebar: Modern Things) totally hooked me up and this shit is beautiful. I think I’ll buy it on vinyl.

Last Thursday night I went to see Almost an Evening, which is actually a set of 3 brief plays written by Ethan Coen. I wrote a review about it as soon as I got home, but my internets was acting up and going craaaayzeee so it got fucked up and I had to delete it. I don’t have the heart to re-write it because the first time I wrote the review it was so brilliant and on-point, and I can’t replicate it. However, I do want to say that I loved it and found it hilarious. Like I got to see it for free (thanks to some special school offer) but I am seriously considering paying so I can see it again.

Peace y’all, gotta go listen to the new R.E.M. and write a review about it for school. I hope the album doesn’t suck, though it’s very likely it might.

Two on Music Journalists and One on People Before They Were Famous

(1) Oh man, I feel so validated!  Kelefa Sanneh digs Sugababes.  Post-Mutya Sugababes, but Sugababes nonetheless.  He likes “About You Now”!  SHUT UP!  I like “About You Now”! ZOMG KELEFA SANNEH LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS.  By the way, I’m getting used to the whole idea of Amelle.  I mean I guess she’s a nice gal, and I think she’s working hard.  No need to overhate, right?  Besides, I totally think that the biggest Sugabitch is Keisha.  Mm-hmm.

When will the bullshit parkour-influenced music videos stop??  At least the ladies are lookin’ fine.
(2)  Hey, speaking of awesome music journalists, have you read Sasha Frere-Jones’s piece on how “indie has lost its soul”?  Looks like someone’s shooting for inclusion in the 2008 edition of Da Capo’s Best Music Writing books, hehehe.  If you’re short on time (god knows I need to finish my midterm right now), just listen to the podcast.  Clickity click.  See, now I can’t fucking wait to see SFJ speak at the New School, cos I’m sure there’ll be a number of questions about this piece.  I think it’s on the first Monday in November.  Y’all should go!

(3) Unrelated: when I was back in the Bronx they were showing The Neverending Story 3, and guess who played the villain?  Jack Black!  Who’d have thought he was gonna end up in romantic movies with Kate Winslet, right?

Please Hold.

Hey bitches,

Been a bit busy. See there’s this thing called “school” and I for some goddamn mysterious stupid ass reason give a damn about my grades. Can you believe it? I’m way too old to still care so much about getting As. Or in my case, hoping for Bs, haha.

Here’s a few songs. One by my favorite Afro-Filipino soul singer, Joe Bataan; another recent one from the Calle 13; and probably my most played song this week, “Tren al Sur” by one of my favorite new wave bands ever, Los Prisioneros.

Joe Bataan – Young, Gifted and Brown
Calle 13 – Un beso de desayuno
Los Prisioneros – Tren al Sur

Be back soonish,

PS: Apparently Joe Bataan is the dad of the girl who won a spot as a Pussycat Doll recently. Not sure if this is true but damn.

Quero Amor Sincero.

Oh shit, I was so excited about writing one of those “I’M BACK BITCH(ES)” posts that I forgot about the really exciting song that has entered my life and made it marginally happier.

So there’s this dude, Tim Maia. If you’re Brazilian you probably know about him already. Or if you’ve watched Cidade de Deus, you’ve heard his music.

I heard the soundtrack to the movie way before I watched the damn thing, and once I heard his song, my mind was blown! On the soundtrack it is titled “No caminho do bem,” and it comes right at the end, so I pretty much waited the entire movie to hear the song. (Er, the movie was awesome too, of course, in its own soul-sucking sort of way.)

Recently I got an itch to know more about this guy, I seriously thought he was someone like Seu Jorge, making his mark in the music world NOW, but I realized Tim Maia has been around a long time. Like, he’s been around for so long that when he first showed up in the scene, “funk” meant like American funk and not like “funk carioca” (or what Americans generally call “baile funk”), the latter of which is mostly a phenomenon out of Rio.

My method of researching this dude meant that I went on Soulseek (I know, I’m terrible) and instead of downloading his millions of albums, I just chose the ones that had interesting titles. I learned that “No caminho do bem” is the wrong title; it’s “O caminho do bem,” but I think it’s written incorrectly on the soundtracks so I don’t feel so bad. Plus it totally does sound like, “no” instead of “o.”

WHATEVER, the point is that one of the songs that piqued my interest was called “Não quero dinheiro (só quero amar).” I thought it was a cute song title. But once I listened to the song, I couldn’t stop pressing play again. This is really a song that needs no translation: it’s rare when the words and the music to a song fit each other so well. It’s so uplifting and happy I can’t take it. I just want to play the shit out of this song it’s so damn beautiful.

Ummm. No, I don’t think I’m overreacting. Give it a try.

Tim Maia – “O caminho do bem

Tim Maia – “Não quero dinheiro (só quero amar)

On a semi-related note, go to this awesome post from Motel de Moka for some hot Brazilian jamzzz. Good shit.