Meerkuts’ Musical Musings – September 2013
Hi Chord Cravers & Riddim Ravers,
The nights are getting shorter and the time for jumpers is nearly upon us. So what better time is there to find new music, curl up on a sofa, and let the beautiful sounds wash over you? September is notoriously brilliant for music lovers. A smorgasbord of excellent gigs start happening every night with the students coming back to town and the singles of the Summer give way to albums and deeper, reflective sounds of Autumn. In my mind, music at this time of year is captured in the image of an old record deck, massive studio cans and a steaming mug of tea but there’s also the need to keep warm so expect to see a couple of party tunes as always. It’s a busy month of classic artists with new Yo La Tengo, Pixies and even a collaboration between Moby & Wayne Coyne but the waves of nostalgia didn’t make the cut this time round. So let’s find out what the top tracks were in this month’s Meerkuts’ Musical Musings;
1. Kyp Malone, Tunde Adebimpe, Kronos Quartet & Stuart Bogie – Sorrow, Tears & Blood (Released on 14 September 2013 by Red Hot Organization)
Did anyone buy the Dark Was The Night compilation back in 2009? I did and it opened my eyes to a massive indie scene I’d only flirted with previously and provided a gateway to Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Beach House & many more. It also opened my eyes to The Red Hot Organization who sporadically release compilations featuring incredible artists teaming up, raising money and promoting awareness about HIV. They are brilliant, and as a lover of African music, I literally punched the air when I heard their next compilation was a tribute to Fela Kuti featuring The Roots, Tony Allen and TV on The Radio to be released on 15th October 2013. So then I heard this track on Giles Peterson’s show on 6Music and my excitement wasn’t in vain. This cover of Fela Kuti’s ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ features Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio as well Stuart Bogie from Antibalas playing sublimely with the incredible Kronos Quartet. It’s an 8 minute epic and sounds just as brilliant as you’d think it would with stunning instrumentation and beautiful vocal work from Malone and Adebimpe. If this is a taster of what the album’s going to be like, sign me the fuck up!
2. Golden Gate Quartet – Thornato Remix (Released on Thornato’s Soundcloud 11th September 2013)
You know how some music just gets under your skin? It could be a hypnotic, afrobeat tune or a Robert Johnson guitar riff which sounds impossible for the human hand to play, or it could be a classic, US of A gospel song. The Golden Gate Quartet were purveyors of that vocal harmony gospel music which became popular again through Moby and ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’. It is music which sounds joyous and fun and passionate but sometimes you just want it to go one step further, you want it to drop a beat! Enter Thornato, a musician and producer (real name Thor Partridge) who has a back catalogue full of tropical tunes, bouncy mash-ups and beat driven remixes of world music artists. This new remix of The Golden Gate Quartet is just great fun, a wicked use of sample and fun dancing rhythms all come together for a great gospel trap remix. Oh Happy Day indeed.
3. Volcano Choir – Tiderays (Released on Jagjaguwar on 3rd September 2013)
This was most definitely a slow burn for me. I heard it on podcast earlier in the month and wrote it off as a bit confused and discombobulated and left it well alone. I then remembered I’d said exactly the same thing about Bon Iver’s second album which over the years I’ve really come to enjoy, though it will never share the same space as Forever, For Emma Go in my mind. Yet there’s something powerful and exciting about Justin Vernon and his desire to experiment with his talent and approach a variety of projects as musical chemistry to see what reactions will happen. Volcano Choir isn’t a Bon Iver album, it’s a collaboration with Collections of Colonies of Bees and although his voice and folk stylings are distinctive the work with Volcano Choir is much more adventurous. I don’t think the whole album is brilliant as there are moments which feel too over produced and soaring for my liking but the experimentation with Vernon’s vocals which at time sound like throat singing and other’s sound like the death throes (in a good way) of HAL9000! Folk is intrinsic to humanity, so we must always see it as an adventure.
4. Stylo G ft. Sister Nancy – Badd (Released on 3Beat on 12 September 2013)
Ok, so the official single isn’t expected until 20 October but this is all over the soundsystems at the minute so it’s definitely a September tune. If you want a belter to open a reggae set then this is the selection of choice as masterfully demonstrated by the legendary Rodigan on his 1Xtra show. At first I thought he’d sampled one of the best Jamaican cuts ever, Bam Bam by Sister Nancy, to create this belter of a track but it turns out that Sister Nancy actually re-recorded the chorus over a few phone calls. It’s that kind of respect and passion for the music that takes this tune up another notch but also with the video it brings back memories of Notting Hill or Brixton Splash too. I was worried it was going to take the bass build up too far like some David Guetta dub version but it doesn’t it just bounces along like a big tune should. It’s really rather good or as Stylo says it’s BAD BAD B B BAD BAD BAD B B BAD!
5. Riot Jazz Brass Band – I’ve Got A Sousamaphone (Released on First Word Records 19 Aug 2013)
If there was an algorithm to show my most played tracks across Itunes, Grooveshark, Spotify, Pandora, Serato and vinyl this year it would show a huge penchant for reggae, electro and brass bands. Ever since moving to Brighton and on the first night out hearing Rob Luis play a brand new track (at the time), called Sexual Healing by Hot 8 Brass Band, not a week has gone by where I don’t listen to brass band music. Whether it’s Hot 8, Rebirth, Youngblood, Hackney Colliery, Hypnotic, Madd Wikkd, Brass Roots or now Riot Jazz Brass Band, it’s always great and always gets my blood pumping a little stronger, feet second-lining a little faster and the corners of my mouth smiling a little harder! Riot Jazz are a Manchester band who’ve come onto the scene with a keen ear for covers, an easy going but tight sound and an infectious vibe to everything they release. This track is no exception and it exemplifies the one thing I love about all the bands I mentioned above, they have a sousamaphone and they’re not afraid to use it. Who can help but get caught up in the groove and not find themselves singins “I’ve Got A Sousamaphone” at the top of their voices? Their tagline is Riot Jazz have got the horn, they most definitely have.
Well that’s it for September, remember to check in for October’s Musical Musings next month and thanks again to those who’ve turned me onto so much this month Smallimus, Kid Karcinogenic, HoBoJoBo, Rodigan, Giles Peterson & Thor Slaughter!