It’s been exactly a month since the last Music Roundup and there’s been no lack of musical releases since then. We’re still (kinda) stuck indoors thanks to the ‘Rona but at least we can quarantine in style with some tunes. Below are some of my favorite tunes since the last music roundup.
The LA quartet returns with another serving of psychedelic tropicalia on their new album, Invisible People. It’s a feel-good collection dripping in West Coast summer vibes. Excuse me while I go tan in my backyard next to the kiddie pool with this album in the background.
Groove Armada – “Get out on the dance floor”
Who remembers Groove Armada? I certainly do! The duo of Andy Cato and Tom Findlay are back after a decade-long hiatus (or whatever artists call lengthy breaks away from recording new albums these days) with a new single and soon-to-be new album as well.
Nakury & Barzo – “Para Mi Gente”
Barzo made an appearance in last month’s roundup with his collaboration with Un Rojo Reggae Band. This time, he drops a new video with fellow Costa Rican artist Nakury for a track that is equal parts hip-hop and salsa.
Olmeca – “The Message (El Mensaje)”
Olmeca has, in my opinion, a highly underrated rhyming style and flow that KOs me with each successive bar. That’s on full display on “The Message,” a song that shatters the far too repeated adage of “ni de aqui, ni de alla.”
“The message is Latinx folks should claim they are from here and from there. As opposed to “not” from here “nor” there. We should see our growing up in two cultures as an asset and not a deficit. While many “keep it 100” we have the ability to “keep it 200”. This means, we don’t give half of who we are to fit into mainstream America. Rather, we walk with both enrich things around us. It is a privilege to be able to grow up with two, sometimes more, languages. It’s a privilege to understand two worlds and be bridges that can bring people together. This isn’t only true in Latinx culture, but many 1st generation people who’s homes carry the traditions of their native lands.”
sUb_modU – Pidgin Synths
sUb_modU is the artistic nom de guerre of tenor sax musician and electronic producer Romeo Sandri. His latest project includes two covers, or I’d say reimaginings, of Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit” and “Water Get No Enemy.”
I have a new story up at Gamecrate, excerpted and linked below:
Twitch TV raised money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund on March 28 via Twitch Stream Aid. The 12-hour event featured artists, such as Diplo and Kaskade, and athletes such as Richard Sherman and Darius Slay, playing alongside pro gamers to raise funds for the program that supports the World Health Organization’s efforts in slowing the spread of the virus and in developing a vaccine against it.
League of Legends competitor Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok donated $25,000 to South Korea’s efforts against the virus. In a statement released in early March, Faker explained that he “felt devastated for those that are working day and night to battle the COVID-19. I really wanted to aid those battling the outbreak and felt that donating to the Community Chest of Korea was the optimal choice.”
One of the things keeping my sanity intact during the COVID-19 pandemic is music. There is, thankfully, still plenty of new music being released on a regular, normal basis. That sense of normalcy is appreciated. That being said, I present some artists & tunes I’ve been listening to for the past month or so while dealing with short bursts of existential dread. Enjoy!
Barzo & Un Rojo Reggae Band – “Electrified”
DJ/producer Barzo of Costa Rica teams up with Un Rojo Reggae Band on this track, which Barzo also published via his label, Lacteo Cosmico.
Carré – “This is not a band”
Carré is a French trio based in Los Angeles. The track above is the group’s debut single and reminds me of the types of bangers prevalent during the early and mid-2000s when Soulwax, Ed Banger, Justice, and Digitalism ruled dance floors worldwide.
Cheo – Sorpresa
Jose Luis Pardo makes his solo debut. Well, technically, it’s his debut without using a stage name. He originally went solo as DJ Afro in 2007 with the EP-1 four-track album. followed by the 2011 full-length album, Free. He was still a member of Los Amigos Invisibles, which he founded, during then. In 2014, he dabbled with a nu-disco project under the name Orquesta Discotheque and released an album of disco-fied covers titled Musica Moderna.
On Sorpresa, Cheo expresses himself fully, completely, and honestly as a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. Says Cheo:
It took me some time time to write my own music again and re-invent myself after years of writing for a “sex-infused party band.” Who was I now?
In June 2019, I had a break from producing and decided to check all the song ideas to make a selection and produce them, maybe as someone else’s album, the same way I produced as my job.
The result is Sorpresa. What came out was a surprise to me in every way. I didn’t know I had all that music inside me. I didn’t know I was going to be an artist again…these songs feel like a book I needed to write after living so much, after I thought my career as an artist was done.
Esteman – “Hasta Que Tú Me Quieras”
The Colombian artist provides a peek and the soundtrack to what will hopefully be pandemic-free summer nights ahead. Here’s hoping the beaches and piers on the west coast can be reopened by late June.
LASTMONDAY – “Audemars”
Bronx-Dominican artist LASTMONDAY got stuck in Miami, FL when the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect. He and director Modern Day Auteur made the most of the situation and shot a video for his track “Audemars,” off his upcoming mixtape Yo! Tigerito.
N.Y.P.D. 南洋派對 – 南洋派對
Google Translate tells me that the name of this band is N.Y.P.D. Nanyang Party. I don’t know much else about these guys other than their lyrics/vocals are in Cantonese and that their album was released via Yeti Out’s HK label Silk Road Sounds. Oh, and it’s damn good garage/punk rock n’ roll.
Superposition – Form//Less
Superposition is the “meditative antidote to a world of digital overwhelm” created by the duo Justin Boreta and Matthew Davis. The five-track EP makes a great soundtrack for rest, relaxation, and soothing your anxiety, which is exactly what many of us need these days.
Good news! I’m contributing to Gamecrate once again! Here’s my first article after a two-year hiatus:
“From Sapiens to Ludens” is a phrase plastered across the online homepage of Kojima’s company, Kojima Productions. Ludens refers to Homo Ludens, aka “man who plays,” and is an idea that is at the heart of his company’s mission. The company statement includes a phrase explaining that “playing is not simply a pastime. It’s the primordial basis of imagination and creation.”
There are a number of references to Homo Ludens within Death Stranding itself. The most direct is found in a letter from the character Heartman titled “Bridges Needs Homo Ludens.” In it, he writes: “Homo ludens – they who play. Be it deliberate or unintentional, Homo ludens unite people – creating culture, shaping the very world around them – not through violence, not through laws or proscriptions, but rather through metaphorical acts of play.”
Cultural theorist Johan Huizinga coined the phrase Homo Ludens in 1938 when he published Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. In it, Huizinga writes about the necessity of play for humans and its central role within human cultures.