You guys, I just found my summer jam.
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.
If ya don’t know, Maria Rita is Brazilian musical royalty. The daughter of legendary MPB singer Elis Regina and famed pianist/composer/producer Cesar Camargo Mariano, Maria Rita launched her singing career in 2004 with an excellent self-titled debut and in the years since has recorded 3 studio albums and won 8 Latin Grammys. Her most recent release was a live album, Redescobrir (Rediscover), of her mother’s songs in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of her passing.
On this rare tour through the US Maria Rita is joined by pianist Tiago Costa and the venue added another layer of intimacy to the stripped-down show as she covered her now decade-long career in the roughly 90 minute set. She sang a wide range of MPB, ballads and Brazilian standards, putting a great spin on her mother’s classic songs. Maria Rita is the kind of singer that actually feels the songs she sings, she responds to the audience and engages with playful banter and musical improvisation. After the show, about half a dozen of us were escorted backstage for a meet & greet that was absolutely delightful.
Please come back, Maria Rita! Hopefully next time the weather won’t be so awful.
Oh man, you made friends with ’em. See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong….Because they make you feel cool. And, hey, I met you: You are not cool… We are uncool. Women will always be a problem for guys like us. Most of the great art in the world is about that very problem. Good-looking people, they got no spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we’re smarter… Great art is about guilt and longing. Love disguised as sex and sex disguised as love. Let’s face, you got a big head start… I’m always home, I’m uncool… The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool. My advice to you—I know you think these guys are your friends; if you want to be a true friend to ’em?—be honest and unmerciful.
Through all of this time
There’s been heartbreak and pain
Those years left apart
Isolated in vain.
A new life on the ride
Let’s make it a point to remember
To live with the joy in our life
Diego Garcia’s debut solo work, Laura, found the former Elefant frontman navigating the brutal waters of a break up. After reuniting with the album’s namesake, marriage and a child, Paradise finds Garcia singing about the joys of love. Although released this fall, Paradise invokes a warm summer breeziness, a chill vibe that emanates pure joy. There’s something familiar about Garcia’s music that reminds me of the Spanish-language pop from the 60s and 70s Mama Bee would rock back in the day. This album is a delight. Paradise is absolutely charming. I’ll shut up but encourage you to listen!
Start With The End:
On a recent iPod-shuffle binge a couple songs came on that reminded me love songs can be simple and lovely and don’t have to be about the early crazy-sex/burning loins phase or the flip side to that: the miserable end of a relationship. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin despite my anxiety and things with Mr. Bee are sailing along nicely; we’re in the midst of some big and chaotic life changes but we’re a team, we’ve been together a long time and don’t need public and obnoxious declarations of love to know it’s there and there isn’t an end in sight. It was nice to be reminded that love songs exist for this kind of a relationship. Just a reminder that we love each other, we aren’t going anywhere, we’re perfectly content with just being, we’ve gone through some heavy shit and we’ve come out on the other side stronger than ever and with a deeper appreciation for each other. So here they are:
1) Wilco: Dawned On Me (The Whole Love) Because when Jeff Tweedy sings: I can’t help it if I fall in love with you again / I’m calling just to let you know it dawned on me I am right there with him. I still won’t and can’t with the Popeye cartoon video (Google it) so here’s this:
2) Beyoncé: Countdown (4) Who knew my love-hate relationship with Beyoncé would finally tip towards the “love” side with this song? Honestly, it could’ve easily been Love On Top but she really just nails it in the lyrics: Still the one I need, I will always be with you / Oh, you got me all gone, don’t ever let me go / Say it real loud if you fly
If you leave me you’re out of your mind (emphasis mine because, really now).