So much went down over a frenzied 3 days at LAMC that I’m going to pop in with small write-ups of artists, showcases, etc that left an impression on yours truly.
Ana Tijoux, the French-Chilean rapper exploded onto the world stage after years of popularity in her family’s native Chile with the 2010 release, 1977, an introspective and at times mournful album. Such was the attention garnered by the Grammy-nominted 1977 that the album’s title track was featured on an episode of Breaking Bad and featured by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on the band’s site. It isn’t hard to surmise that the introspection of 1977 came from having to connect to a country and people she had never really known but probably heard so much about as Tijoux’s family fled Chile at the start of Pinochet’s reign of terror and settled in France returning to Chile in the early 90s.
She followed it up with La Bala (The Bullet). Where 1977 was personal and turned the rapper’s focus within, La Bala shifted the focus outward, a snapshot of Chile’s burgeoning political protest movement. The album’s title was thought to refer to an incident involving a young Chilean protestor killed by the government.
Ana Tijoux is back with another visceral, political, personal, powerful album in Vengo (I Come) on Nacional Records. The album takes it’s name from the opening track in which Tijoux declares over a horn-heavy beat featuring Andean instruments: I come for answers, with a bundle of full and open veins / I come as an open book eager to learn the untold story of our ancestors.
One of many highlights of the album comes during Antipatriarca (Anti-Patriarch) a feminist manifesto where she spits: But I will not obey because my body belongs to me / I decide my time as I want and where I want / I was born independent and independent I decided to stay / I do not walk behind you, I walk beside you.
On this album, a personal highlight is Los Peces Gordo No Pueden Volar (Fat Fish Can’t Fly), spoken directly to her children she echoes mothers everywhere when she says: I’m another mother that sleeps little / dreams much / learns more from her children than the adults in the world. Then later she implores: true to your values you must be.
Vengo is a gorgeous hip hop album that flawlessly incorporates Andean instruments with horns and slinky jazz grooves to create a truly World Music sound. An album that is equally stunning and devastating for it’s soul-baring honesty.
I am SLAIN! This song. This video. That voice. Straight out of Brooklyn via Annie Lennox, Trixie Whitley‘s Breathe You In My Dreams (from new album Fourth Corner) is a devastating and gorgeous song, Whitley possesses a gorgeous instrument and this video is absolutely mesmerizing. Watch. Now.
Under The Westway.
The Video: It’s a simple concept: musicians in a room playing a song with a camera or two rolling. It feels so intimate and it’s nice to see Damon Albarn and Co’s faces again. Not to say Gorillaz isn’t fun but it’s just nice to see Albarn again, ya know?
The Song: It’s such a lovely ballad that starts with the hopeful line, “There were blue skies in my city today” but from there it’s a mournful piano-driven ballad.
Jesus Christ, I miss Blur something fierce.
This video landed in my inbox a couple days ago and I was surprised to learn that this was friend o’ the blog Julie Meckler‘s first music video – it is a hell of a video debut! “Manhattan” is the first single off Meckler’s forthcoming currently untitled album due later this year. The video for “Manhattan” is a collaborative effort between Polish filmmaker Victoria Szymanska, French dancer Mariam Faquir and Meckler using 8mm film projections over Faquir’s moves that is absolutely stunning to watch and match perfectly with the quiet, vulnerable tone of the song. Watch it!
The Wrong Things soothes you into its message: things will go wrong but its not worth getting upset over it. A sad message that’s beautifully executed with lush and dreamy production.
The Morning Clouds is Josh Wambeke and the debut EP Wasted Youth Blues is out Oct. 11 via Lefse Records.
That is all I kept thinking when listening to [.DESCARGA.]‘s new EP The Things We Do (due August 9, 2011). From the perspective of an outsider, it seemed as if the band spent the last year or so in a state of transition. There were a couple of line up changes with the most notable being the addition of drummer Anthony Macias. He has been the game changer for these veterans of the latin alternative community. The Things We Do kicks off with The Funeral with Hex sounding like Eddie Vedder before he sold his soul for a ukulele. The driving force of this song is Evil’s piercing guitar but for me it’s the pulsating floor toms and give the song a sobering weight. Keeping true to form, the album is exactly half in English and half in Spanish with the song Tu Eres Yo (You Are Me) beginning that smooth transition between languages. Esperando (Waiting) effectively uses a fuzzy guitar sound to give the song a sense of urgency and Nube Negra (Black Cloud) is the second song sung in Spanish that hits fast and hard.
[.DESCARGA.] is a band that has always paid tribute to those artists who have influenced them and this is never more clearly expressed than in the song Party Girl which invokes the ghost of Ian Curtis with haunting vocals repeating “Wake up party girl ’cause it’s time to go”. If a drummer is the backbone of a band then the bass player is the stuff in between filling in the sound and keeping steady – this is best on display during Party Girl – big ups to J. Calvo. The third and final Spanish song to appear on the EP is Dejame Saber (Let Me Know) with its grungy guitar and stinging lyrics, “yo no lo voy hacer pero lo intento / yo nunca lo voy hacer pero quisiera saber / como ser humano como tu” (google that ish) keeps the bat out of hell energy of this EP up. Closing things out is the previously wormed Chemtrails, a rattlesnake of a song.
[.DESCARGA.] is currently boasting its most solid line up to date with Evil’s confident and powerful guitar to Calvo’s bass, so steady and strong. Hex has never sounded more inspired lyrically and bringing it all together is Macias behind the drum kit. They’ve got a confidence that comes from being comfortable around each other on and off stage; this is band that is firing on all cylinders.
You can preview the tracks Funeral and Dejame Saber below.
On a personal note, this post has been a work in progress since late last year not long after the release of the single, Chemtrails. My plan had been to start writing and then fill in the blanks once new music was released. I even spent some time with the boys at their rehearsal space where the conversation took some interesting turns. (All I can say is life on the road with a van full of boys is never dull.) The band had just added Macias at drums and not long after our meeting the band lost a member. There was a strong sense of wanting to move forward, to start the dirty work that is writing, rehearsing and recording. This EP is very much the product of a band that in a sense had to start over, had to rededicate themselves to their craft and had to work and give these songs time to “cook”. To all four members of [.DESCARGA.] I say: you fuckers were worth the wait. Now don’t make me wait another 8-9 months for the next one.