Spring 2020 Music Roundup: The Sequel

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.

And if you need a refresher, take a dip back into the previous music roundup here: https://afroxander.com/2020/04/06/spring-2020-music-roundup/

Chicano BatmanInvisible People

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.”

Says Olmeca:

“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_modUPidgin 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.”

Spring 2020 Music Roundup

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.

CheoSorpresa

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.

SuperpositionForm//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.

TROPICÁLIA 2019

León Larregui of Zoé.

How do you explain the Latin American experience in Los Angeles? That’s a complex question, but we are sure it would look, sound, and feel a little something like this year’s Tropicália festival.

Over two days, the Fairplex in Pomona hosted Goldenvoice’s newest musical endeavor, which brought to life a mixtape that encapsulated the past, present, and future of Latin American music and brought multiple generations of Latinos and others together for a truly inclusive weekend of fun.

There were plenty of moments that encapsulated that feeling. There was the young lady who called her parents on FaceTime so that they could watch Peruvian romance balladeers Los Pasteles Verdestogether. There were the two comadres who made their way to the front of the stage for Los Tigres Del Norte and held each other as they sang, screamed, and cried to every song alongside girls young enough to be their granddaughters. There were the young goths who patiently waited for Prayers’ set by singing along with Paquita La Del Barrio who performed before their favorite duo did on the same stage. There were the Asian and African-American kids moshing together with the Latinos in more pits than I could count. There were the young gabachas who swooned at Kali Uchis’ every movement.

Read the rest at: https://www.lataco.com/tropicalia-2019/

Currently Listening To: 2019 Mid-Year Edition

I have had a few artists on a heavy rotation these past couple of months as I weathered my final semester of coursework at SDSU:

Frikstailers – Extrasolar

The Argentine duo forced us all to wait six years for a new album, but it was worth the wait. One could argue that they made us wait only two years as the duo released an album of music under the name Klik & Frik for musical aesthetic purposes. That album, Telepat, however, was a slight digression towards a sound stripped to nothing but electronic beats, sans the direct Latin American influences and genre mixture Frikstailers are known for. This album under their original moniker brings them back to their original sound with the help of musical guests Mateo Kingman, La Yegros, Aterciopelados, and Marrón.

Vudufa – Congorito

Vudufa is the name of this new project by Lima-based producers Pounda and NoModico. Their debut album, Congorito, features eight tracks of a sound they’ve dubbed “Afrobass with Peruvian flavor,” which is a darker version of the already-dark tunes of Dengue Dengue Dengue and Animal Chuk. What differentiates Vudufa from their peers is their focus on African beats and rhythms with nary a hint of cumbia.

Gustavo Dudamel – Celebrating John Williams

I interviewed Dudamel of the LA Philharmonic for FLAUNT magazine (you can check that out here) and, thus, spent days listening to much of his work. My favorite is the recording of his concert at Santiago de Compostela where he conducted Beethoven’s 9th with the Galician Symphony. His latest album is a live recording of his tribute concert for legendary composer John Williams with the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall in January 2019.

Capsula – Bestiarium

Capsula is a band I’ve covered extensively throughout the years since first learning about them many years ago. I think it was at SXSW eight years ago. In any case, they released a new album earlier this year. Bestiarium is a concept album based on numerous mythological creatures of ancient folklores and some damn good rock n’ roll, as always.

If These Trees Could Talk – The Bones of a Dying World

I learned about this band and album thanks to the Radio option on Spotify. Now before anyone accuses me of crafting a sponsored post without attribution, Spotify is my main method/app to listen to music and podcasts followed by Podcast App, Mixcloud, direct streams, and good ol’ fashioned terrestrial car radio.

Anyway! This band has been one of my favorite instrumental bands since I learned about them. It’s great music to study to, to drive in the rain to, to cure writer’s block to, etc. If anything, give the song “Earth Crawler” (my favorite track) a listen.

Crim – Pare Nostre Que Esteu a L’infern

Crim are a punk band from Tarragona, Spain who I learned about thanks to a concert flyer I found while in Barcelona in April (more on that in a forthcoming post). They’ve got a political slant as any good punk band does with lyrics that focus on many of the modern social problems in their home country.

Arpaviejas – El Último Cartucho

Arpaviejas are also a punk band from Spain but these guys are from the outskirts of Barcelona. JR Kubensis founded the band in 2000 and continues today as his pet project feat. a rotating cast of musicians that form his band.

Gustavo Dudamel: The Maestro Cometh

Friends, enemies, & the aloof: I present to you my first magazine cover story!

dudamel_cover

In the Cause & Effect issue (number 165) of FLAUNT magazine, I interview LA Philharmonic director & conductor Gustavo Dudamel. It’s available now physically and also digitally here: https://www.flaunt.com/content/gustavo-dudamel.

An excerpt:

“Think about it. What is art, ultimately? What is culture?” he asks, gesticulating with his hands as if conducting, though in a much more subdued manner than when he takes the podium. “It is a people’s identity. Do you know what I mean? The great artists, the geniuses, no matter where they live or where they were born, gave all of humanity a gift… This means that when we play Beethoven in Peru, for instance, we can play him as a European composer with a Peruvian identity, or a Venezuelan one, or Argentine, or Japanese.”