31 October 2012

Review: Kora 'Light Years'

Light Years

Music is a quite magical thing. One of the few art forms which has the ability to transport the participants to otherworldly places and spaces, music has a transformative quality which has rightly been celebrated throughout the ages, from Count Ossie's Rasta drummers to the whirling dervishes of the Middle East. And in Whakatane, on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Laughton, Francis, Stuart and Brad Kora, and brother-from-another-mother Dan McGruer, are among those few musicians capable of really moving a listener, and their self-titled debut album from five years back did just that. Hence there's been some pressure on them to prove it wasn't a one-off. So it'd be fair to say that Light Years has been more than merely eagerly awaited. As with all truly good music, the songs take a few listens to properly digest, and with lashings of layered keys and squelchy bass lines, there is a lot to take in. They call it "Alien Funk", which seems appropriate, as many of these tracks have their heads in space, crackling the kind of electric energy Kora have become famous for. There's more hip hop and electronica and less metal than on their debut, but that seems a logical - and welcome - progression for a band still unafraid of breaking out the guitars. Beyond all of that though, this is pop music: a diverse and intoxicating cocktail of future funk and soul science, making for some seriously spaced-out - and really, really good - pop music magic.

 4 stars from 5

Check out the track Dream Life here, or in the player below.

4. Dream Life - Kora by KoraOfficial

30 October 2012

Live at Tin Soldier: All Vinyl Saturdays in November

I'm excited to be starting a mini-residency at Tin Soldier during November; with their strictly vinyl-only policy and open-minded musical appetite, Saturday nights should be a lot of fun.

The food in the restaurant is, quite frankly, amazing, and the service is spot on. They've a bunch of fancy craft beers, a flash new fitout and now, a bespoke selection of quality music from 6pm every Saturday in November. If I may say so myself.

Nice one.

26 October 2012

Wax Wednesday: Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' Wed 24 Oct on Radio Ponsonby

Stonephace | Wedgehead Gets Lucky
Eru Dangerspiel | Coq Au Vin
Wild Bill Ricketts Meets Mike Fabulous | Riki
Freddie Cruger with Desmond Foster | Movin' Amongst The Madness
Colonel Red | Blue Eyed Blak
Sasso with Diane Charlemagne | Hold On Tight
Hint with Laura Vane | Keep Your Shirt On
Astoria | Discomotion
Spiritual South & Sweetalker Sleepwalker | Hullabaloo
Big Bang with Xan Blacq & Rasiyah | Dancin' Nights (Daz-I-Kue remix)
Brotherly | Put It Out
Mark Force & Kaidi Tatham Present Blakai with Bembe Segue | Afrospace
Jazzanova with Shaun Escoffery | Boom Clacky Boom Klack (Mr Scruff vocal mix)
Future Beat Investigators | All I Want
Christian Prommer's Drumlesson | All Around The World
Quantic Soul Orchestra with Noelle Scaggs | Lead Us To The End
Kokolo | Mama Don't Want No Gun (Beatfanatic remix)
The Daktaris | Quiet Man Is Dead Man
Me&You | Last Night

24 October 2012

Review: The Hot 8 Brass Band 'The Life & Times Of'

The Life And Times Of
[Tru Thoughts]

Truly funky music speaks to the listener regardless of how polished it is, what genre it is, or when it was recorded. Truly funky music can be painstakingly put together electronica or loose-limbed organic live playing. Despite the good work of the Godfather, it has little to do with "the one", just ask Tony Allen or Sly Dunbar. Hell, even a brass band can be truly, mind-blowingly funky, just take a listen to The Hot 8 Brass Band. Direct from the Second Line streets of New Orleans and breaking out of the city with the most lively and energetic version of Marvin Gaye's classic Sexual Healing these ears have ever encountered, the band's debut album dropped in 2007 on Tru Thoughts. Coming through the horrific experiences of Hurricane Katrina and losing several members of their group (two to street violence) has been taxing for the Hot 8, but they've returned with a brand new album, proving they're no one-trick pony. The Life And Times Of is a trip. A beautifully vibrant and raggedly funky brass band take on soul, funk and hip hop, the record is far from being slickly produced - but the sheer exuberance they've captured among the warts and all is nothing short of infectious. With a clutch of original tunes alongside covers of Basement Jaxx's Bingo Bango and The Specials' Ghost Town, it's clear that while these guys are serious about playing brass instruments, they don't take themselves too seriously. Recommended.

3 and 1/2 stars from 5

Radio Ponsonby: Sunday Vinyl Session at Britomart Country Club

Once a month the good folks from the Britomart Sunday Service at the BCC invite a bunch of DJs from Radio Ponsonby to come down and spin a bunch of records. And records it is, with an all-vinyl policy ruling the roost at the venue currently. I wholeheartedly support this kind of endeavour. Come and join me, with A.D.A.M., the Sunday Shuffle DJs (Kris Holmes and Nettie Page) and Yam Jams' own Rohan St. Claire this Sunday, from 2pm til 8pm (when the movie starts).

All free fun for all the family. Bet you can't beat me at mini golf, either.

23 October 2012

Wax Wednesday: Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' Wed 17 Oct on Radio Ponsonby

Huba | Mary
Deodato | Super Strut
Bossa 70 | Berimbau
Massak | B.L.A.
Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra with Mayra Vega | Che Che Cole Makossa
Kabuki with Cleveland Watkiss | After The Fire
Kinny & Horne | Us On Fire
Sly & The Revolutionaries | L.S.D.
Toots & The Maytals | Pressure Drop
Quantic Soul Orchestra | Walkin' Through Tomorrow (TM Juke remix)
A Soulful Sound | Qualified In Keef (JDeep edits)
Willis | Word Up
Ned Doheny | Get It Up For Love
Stevie Wonder | Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing
Rufus with Chaka Khan | Circles
Clyde Alexander | Got To Get Your Love
James Brown | Funky Drummer
Betty Padgett | Sugar Daddy (Pt. 1)
Soft Touch | Plenty Action
Olympic Runners | Wooden Head
MFSB | Summertime
Mighty Ryders | Evil Vibrations
Eddie Kendricks | Body Talk
Darondo | Legs (Pt. 1)
Breakestra | How Do You Really Feel? (Cut Chemist Atkins edit)

11 October 2012

Wax Wednesday "Stones Throw Special": Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' Wed 10 Oct on Radio Ponsonby

Today's Wax Wednesday show was dedicated to playing vinyl only taken from the L.A.-based Stones Throw Records, and its' subsidiary label Now Again. Originally seen as a hip hop label, the Peanut Butter Wolf-initiated outfit have branched out into all manner of musical mischief, but I've not strayed too far from the roots of it all with this two hour selection, as listed below.

I got all nerdy on it and listed the catalogue numbers of the pieces of wax too. Just in case.

Aloe Blacc | Patria Mia [STH2137]
Connie Price & The Keystones | Sticks And Stones [NA5020]
L.A. Carnival | Blind Man [STH7024]
Lil' Lavair & The Fabulous Jades | Cold Heat [NA5017-1]
Soul Seven | Mr Chicken ---- [NA2005]
Ebony Rhythm Band | Soul Heart Transplant [NA5011-1]
The Detroit Sex Machines | Rap It Together + Funky Crawl (J-Rocc's edit) [NA5016]
Kashmere Stage Band | I Wish (Todd Terry remix) [NA5025]
Myron & E. with the Soul Investigators | Cold Game [NA7020]
Leon Mitchison & The Eastex Freeway Band | Street Scene [NA5018]
Dayton Sidewinders | Slippin' Into Darkness [NA5017-1]
Willie Bobo | Broasted Or Fried [NA7014]
Mayer Hawthorne & The County | Just Ain't Gonna Work Out [STH7028]
Jaylib | The Red (inst.) [STH2061]
J-Rocc | Play This (One) [STH2054]
Mr Magic & Pookie Blow | Earth Break [STH2056]
Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf | Devotion [STH2077]
Madvillain with Lord Quas | America's Most Blunted [STH2065]
Peanut Butter Wolf | Summer's End [STH2043]
J Dilla | Crushin' (inst.) [STH4021]
Dam-Funk | When 80MPH Feels Like 20 [STH7033]
Dam-Funk | Brookside Park [STH2225]
Yesterday's New Quintet | Visions [STH2086]
Yesterday's New Quintet | Papa [STH2040]
Yesterday's New Quintet | Elle's Theme [STH2034]
Koushik | Winter Sun + One In A Day [STH2069]
Breakestra | Sister Sanctified [STH2055]
Aloe Blacc | Take Me Back [STH2246]

09 October 2012

Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent 'Love This Giant'

Love This Giant
[Todo Mundo / 4AD]

I love it when this happens. When the real thing eclipses the hype. When it's not just-as-good-as-it-says-on-the-tin, but better. Because, when does that really ever happen? Here, with hipster godfather David Byrne (that's meant as a compliment, btw) and St. Vincent aka Annie Clark, via an intriguing collaboration released in the form of debut album Love This Giant. I've said it before etc. but often the end result of these kinds of star-crossed musical meetings is less than pleasing. That is not the case here. Love This Giant is a satisfyingly engaging and enlivening listen, almost throughout. While more often (surprisingly) funky, there are times I feel I'm listening to a musical, and it's obvious why: brass. Lots of brass, and saxophones, and tubas, and such. With guests Antibalas and Sharon Jones' backing band The Dap-Kings on board though, and with some exceptional drum programming, it's one of the coolest musicals ever. But it's a David Byrne and St. Vincent record, are we surprised the musical backdrop is so, well, unexpected? Not really. What is a surprise is how well these two work together vocally, trading inter-locking lines and straight duets with Byrne's characteristically plaintive and robust wail seldom dominating St. Vincent's more gentle, ethereal touch. The analogy of the beauty and the beast has been applied by some, and the folk tale reference is apt; Love This Giant suggests Byrne and Clark have stumbled upon some twisted kind of old folk music and breathed new life into it. Wonderful.

4 stars from 5

Check out the song Who, taken from the Love This Giant album, or link to their website here


The Taste Of: Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' Tue 9 Oct on Radio Ponsonby

Every Tuesday on 'In The Pocket with 90' I'll be laying down 'The Taste Of', a selection of music with a common thread running through. It could be locality, genre or label features, it might even be DJ-mixes or compilations; whatever it is, I'll be looking to give you a taste of my take on things.

This week, it's The Taste Of: Lazer Funk, Raw Disco and Cosmic Boogie.

Lalo Schifrin | Quiet Village
Bob James | Nightcrawlers
Pyramid Plus | Comin' At Ya
Deodato | Keep On Movin'
Plush | Free And Easy
Esther Williams | I'll Be Your Pleasure
The Fatback Band | Let The Drums Speak
Gonzalez | (I Want To Get) Closer To You
Lakeside | Fantastic Voyage
Jacqui & The Rumor | Just Don't Break-A-My Heart (inst.)
Linx | The Ice Is Melting
Side On | A Magic Version
Zalmac | What's In It For Me?
Sumy | Soul With Milk
Yo Yo Dance | Kabbala
Sylvester | I Need You (unreleased mix)
K.I.D. | Don't Stop
Atmosfear | Extra Special
MdCL Presents Sy Smith | Teena (Lovergirl Syberized)
Karlmarx Project | OSC

Club Connoisseurs: Playlist Mon 8 Oct

Every Monday evening here in Auckland at Chapel Bar & Bistro, a handful of keen vinyl enthusiasts gather to share a corner of their record collections. It's called Club Connoisseurs, and it's been a labour of love for those involved; but not without real reward. Some of the DJs involved really mix up the styles and genres, so it can go in most any direction.

I played an all 7"s set tonight, and being that I kept the records in order after playing them, I thought I'd throw the setlist up here. What is a blog for if not shameless self-promotion and rampant egoism? Good, glad we're in agreement there. Here are the records.

Patchworks & Mr Day | Brothers On The Slide (The Dynamics edit)
Soul II Soul | Jazzie's Groove (Jazzie's 7")
Opensouls | Turn It Up! (Submariner Meets Opensouls and Killamanraro Uptown)
Erykah Badu | Honey (DJ Day remix)
The Dynamic Set with Liam Bailey | I'm Gonna Miss You
Dub Asylum | Ba Ba Boom!
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators vs The Dynamics | Feeling Free
Bongmaster Inc. | Brothers And Sisters
Marvin Gaye | What's Going On (Truth And Rights remix)
D'Angelo | Use Me (live)
Quantic & His Combo Barbaro | Linda Morena
Una Mas Trio | Son Montuno
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno | Ciudad Del Swing (version)
Chic | Sao Paulo
Sugar Pie Desanto | Git Back
George Baker Selection | Little Green Bag
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings | How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?
Sly & The Family Stone | Luv n' Haight
Rufus feat. Chaka Khan | Rags To Rufus (inst.)
Desmond Dekker | You Can Get It If You Really Want
The Dynamics | Move On Up
Althea & Donna | Up Town Top Ranking
This Kid Named Miles | Ring Of Fire
Son Of Dave | Low Rider

08 October 2012

Monday Melt: Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' Mon 8 Oct on Radio Ponsonby

Some radio stations thrust their listeners into the working week, pummeling tender ears/souls with insistent and urgent musics, when we know you'd really rather be gently massaged through Mondays. Well, check this out. You're sorted, with the 'Monday Melt', a bespoke selection of proper music, designed to ease you back into your week; with no kicking or screaming required, this is the radio equivalent of effective gentle persuasion.

Ooft! | Mazin' (ruffjam)
LNTG | Come Inside Me
Duff Disco | Fame
DJ Steef | Simply Beautiful
Gazeebo | Shiny Lust
Soul II Soul | Fairplay
The Glue | Our Love Is An Edit
Loose Ends | Hanging On A String (Frankie Knuckles club mix)
Next Evidence | It's Only Right
Totalcult | Fire-Breathing Fists (Charlie Sheen vs Cypress Hill)
The Black Seeds | Rotten Apples (Lowman's 'Block Rockin' Beats' remix)
Ladi 6 | Dark Brown
Nightmares On Wax | Passion
Gecko Turner | Monosabio Blues
Bebel Gilberto | Ceu Distante (DJ Spinna remix)
Harlem Zip Code | Where Will You Go?
Oneself | Unfamiliar Places
Raphael Saadiq aka Ray Ray | This One
Stevie Wonder | Uptight (Grant Phabao remix)
Dubxanne | Walking On The Moon (dub)
Zapp | Computer Love
Weldon Irvine | Music Is The Key
Ramsey Lewis | My Love For You

Bumps: Nature 'The Prep'

It's not often I update the 'Bumps' section of this blog, but that's the case today, as we enjoy a touch of '80s disco rap straight outta Minnesota (y'all), courtesy of Nature, with The Prep. Massive thanks to the fine, upstanding gentlemen at the Beat Electric blogspot for posting the track in the first place.

Nature - The Prep by bro90

05 October 2012

Friday Freshie: Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' Fri 5 Oct on Radio Ponsonby

The 'Friday Freshie' is an excuse to break out the brand new (to me) material I've acquired over the past week or so. Today I pillaged the new Tokyo Dawn Records compilation The Boogie Vol. 3 (which I recently reviewed) for much of the music - though there were also a number of new bits from the wonderful House Of Disco label, and some other pieces from indeterminate sources.

Here's the playlist. Follow the links if you're that way inclined. I often am.

Yellowtail | Back To The Melody (Opolopo remix)
Kris Mars | Night Falls
Rakotep | Get Up
J-Felix with Jake Jon | The Green Light
Maze Hill | Long Haul (LV remix)
The Nextmen vs Joe Dukie | Hold Me Now
Sunshine Anderson | Heard It All Before (Angle "Let It Go" edit)
Amalia & Reggie B | Hysteria
Blaktroniks with Alicia Renee aka Blue Eyes | It's All Right Now
Positive Flow with Heidi Vogel | Children Of The Sun
Chrome Canyon | Generations
The Heavy | What Makes A Good Man? (Kenny Dope remix)
The Nextmen vs Joe Dukie | Blow Wind Blow
Teeko | Tenshun (You And I Are You)
Reeno | Eternal Wisdom
The Beloved | Sweet Harmony (Sommerstad remix)
Tony Betties | You And I (Isaac Tichauer remix)
Sixth Avenue Express | Ain't No Use
Frank Booker | Hope
Martino | Reasons (Sigg Buggz remix)
Colonel Red | The Riddle
Stan Smith | Disco Technic (Lay-Far remix)
Wagon Cookin with Gabriela Smith | All The Night
Al Velila with Opolopo | Fearless
Cosmonauts | Love Me Tonight
Cajmere | Chit Chat (Clubhouse remix)
Firas | Stray (Aashton & Swift remix)

(Anything I haven't linked to in the above playlist was taken from The Boogie Vol. 3, which you can link and listen to here.)

03 October 2012

Review: The Cactus Channel 'Haptics'

[Hope Street Recordings]

Raw, unadulterated funk seems to ooze out of Melbourne like some kind of primordial soup. Or there's something in the water, at least; because, while Australian hip hop is truly stuck in a quagmire, Aussie funk music is on another planet. As if further proof was required, young (like, still-in-their-teens young) 10-piece band The Cactus Channel,  hailing from Melbs, have just released their debut album, Haptics. Real and nasty instrumental funk and soul music, recorded straight to analogue tape and with little regard for anything other than getting a crowded dance floor hot and sweaty, Haptics is a rough and ready (1970s movie car-chase scene) ride through hard funk, swingin' boogaloo and deep soul. Yes, at times this is jarring, with blaring horns relentlessly rubbing against the grooves laid down by the loose-limbed rhythm section; but it is also endlessly exciting at the same time - exactly how funk music should be. And to be fair, hearing this music played in a live environment, while jammed into a little room with a cluster of like-minded folks, with a beer in one hand and your girl in the other would be something else. Bands like (countrymen) The Bamboos and NY's Dap-Kings and The Menahan Street Band spring to mind, as do Eddie Bo, The Blackbyrds and The J-Bs; but this is more than a pastiche - it's a clever amalgamation of a handful of different funk and soul styles, which keeps the listener's attention throughout, with all the right boxes ticked: big fat horns, scratchy guitars, thick layers of keys and bass, heavy-handed drums and some fantastically arranged tunes. All up, a remarkable and impressive debut.

3 and 1/2 stars from 5

Have a listen to the album below or at this link. I recommend it.

The Cactus Channel - Haptics by HopeStreet Recordings

Wax Wednesday: Playlist 'In The Pocket with 90' on Radio Ponsonby Wed 3 Oct

Wednesday is all about the vinyl. New and old, clean and dusty, albums and singles. Here is the order in which they found themselves played today.

Kahil El'Zabar | He's Got The Whole World In His Hands (Henrik Schwarz remix)
Scott Grooves with Roy Ayers | Expansions (12" mix)
Fat Freddy's Drop | Hope (3 Generations Walking remix)
Fat Freddy's Drop | Hope (MKL vs Soy sos dub)
Zeb | Afrodubcidal
Earth, Wind & Fire | All In The Way (Reel People club mix)
The Rebirth | Everybody Say Yeah
IG Culture Presents Zen Badizm | Girl U Need A Change Of Mind
Akasha | Brown Sugar
Beyond There with Arcee, Yungun & Jhest | Slumber
Sa-Ra Creative Partners | Powder Bump
Starkey with Anneka | Stars
Hudson Mohawke | Rising 5
Dam-Funk | Burgundy City
Beatless | Life Mirrors
Red Astaire | Tito
Freddie Cruger with Linn | Pretty Little Thing
Scritti Politti  with Mos Def | Tinseltown To The Boogiedown (Ali Shaheed Muhammed variation)
Solaa  with Hollie Smith | Keep On
Teddy Rok | Nelson
Greyboy | Unwind Your Mind
Eva Be with David Ben-Porat | Trippin' On Eva Be
J*Davey | Dirty Love