Tag Archive for 'Quannum'

B-Sides in the Bins #59 – Moondog Music and Mail Orders Week of 9/21/2013

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these. I guess it’s because I tend to post about individual albums via other social media outlets like my Instagram which cross-posts to Twitter and Facebook. But, this week had a lot of new additions to the collection, so I thought I’d collect them for the blog.

I was in Dubuque yesterday helping with some wireless network issues at the family business so I thought I’d run over to one of my favorite record stores, Moondog Music. I had intended to pick up the new sophomore release from Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) collaboration band with members of Collections of Colonies of Bees Volcano Choir. Titled Repave, it’s a more cohesive release than their first album. Even though Vernon is the frontman in this band, it isn’t exactly Bon Iver part 2. More direct rock on this album and less vocoder falsetto vocals. I was also hoping that the vinyl version of Wise Up Ghost by Elvis Costello and The Roots would maybe be in the bins ahead of this Tuesday’s release.

Moondog had Repave for $19.99, but they didn’t have Wise Up Ghost on LP (they did have the CD). I had Volcano Choir in hand and was going to buy it until I started digging through the used and came up with a few surprises!

The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs (2 LP, Sire Records, 1987) ($19.98) WOW! On my wish list for YEARS. Really nice and clean copy of this album, which is probably my favorite Smiths album even though it’s technically a compilation of non-album singles. Initially, this was a US-only release used as a way to bring these tracks stateside. The UK had a couple of singles comps on Rough Trade– The World Won’t Listen and Hatful of Hollow— and Louder than Bombs was the vehicle to bring some of those tracks here. UK Smiths fans being what they are, they started importing this release to the UK, so Rough Trade ended up releasing this over there which solidified its position as a regular catalog release.

My friend Julie in college turned me on to both the Smiths and Depeche Mode letting me borrow The Queen Is Dead and Black Celebration— bands very different from my jangly guitar preferences at the time. I distinctly remember buying Louder Than Bombs and Def Leppard’s Hysteria on the same day on cassette. Odd to think that these albums are both from 1987!

The Smiths – Rank (LP, Sire Records, 1988) ($14.98) And, as soon as I get into the band, they break up… Bombs was released in March of 1987, the Smiths’ final studio album Strangeways Here We Come was released in September, 1987 and by that time the band had officially split up. I have the entire studio releases of the Smiths on cassette and CD plus Bombs on cassette and CD and Hatful of Hollow on CD (it was in a used bin otherwise I wouldn’t have picked this up as I consider it to be redundant). When Rank came out in September of 1988, I had pretty much moved on as far as paying attention to new releases and I didn’t think a live album was essential. I still haven’t listened to it, but will. The recording is a distillation from a BBC-1 live concert from 1986. The album was released as a contractural obligation. I decided to buy this because it is rare to find any Smiths in used bins around here and the new 180g Rhino reissues of the Smiths catalog are $35 which is pretty steep for my budget, so I’ll continue to keep an eye on the bins to complete my Smiths collection.

Gift of Gab – Escape 2 Mars (LP, Cornerstone Recording Arts Society/Quannum, 2009)($16.98) An unexpected find– the R&B and Hip-Hop selection at Moondog is usually very thin. I’ve been building my Quannum/Solesides vinyl collection lately– lots of gaps since I had really been focusing on CD’s up until five years ago. That said, I didn’t have this on CD either. Gift of Gab is more recognized as the MC for Blackalicious– his effort with producer Chief Xcel,  but has had a run of solo work that is notable. We listen to 4th Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up quite a bit in the house, so I imagine that this release will be as good– I totally slept on this release so it will be good to get caught up.

Spoon – Transference (LP, Merge Records, 2010)($9.98) While I was digging through the used section I saw a whole bunch of nearly-new indie releases. Looked like they were opened and maybe played once? Some Sundazed releases, a few Sub Pop releases all for under $10. I didn’t find out what the story was on those, but I picked a couple of great ones including this one from Spoon. Transference wasn’t as good as Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but still pretty great. I remember listening to this a lot in the car in early Winter 2010. We had a major car breakdown that had Sherry and I commuting together in one car for a few weeks– she was getting her Professional Makeup training so I’d drop her off in the morning and pick her up at night.

Sebadoh – Bakesale (LP, Sub Pop Records, 1994/2011 Remaster)($7.98) Another of the mysterious “new” LP’s in the used bins at Moondog. A grey marbled vinyl release as part of the reissue campaign for the Sebadoh catalog. I loved this album when it came out– I listened to it repeatedly. In 1994, I was working in Dubuque at the time and I think living with my parents following a failed cohabitiation with a girlfriend. I was on the road installing computer systems in the Midwest and East, with a lot of road time, so my CD’s were constant companions. Brilliantly flawed but accessible album. At the time I definately thought that Sebadoh was a better band than Dinosaur Jr was (the band that Lou Barlow used to be in with J Macsis). I’m really happy to have this in my collection– I need to pick up the Harmacy reissue as well.

A really great haul from Moondog Music! While I was there they were playing the new album from Iggy Pop and the Stooges titled Ready to Die which sounded pretty good, may need to check that out.

In the mail this week:

Calexico – Ancienne Belgique Vol. 2 (2 LP, Our Soil, Our Strength, ) OSOS9, 2013)($20 + shipping) 2012 and 2013 has been a year of many releases from Calexico— the brilliant Algiers came out in September of 2011 which included a live album titled Spiritoso if you ordered the box set. This eventually came out as a numbered release for Record Store Day in April in the US. Soon after that the band put out a 2 LP live sequel to Ancienne Belgique (which got the vinyl treatment as part of the Road Atlas box set as well).  Then they announced a Europe tour-only 5-track EP of covers titled Maybe on Monday.  My copy of Ancienne Belgique Vol. 2 delivered this week. I had pre-ordered it in June (I think). They were supposed to have copies of this on tour, but they weren’t done in time for the Iowa City show. (I was out of town and missed that show anyway). Another really nice addition to my growing Calexico collection.

Arcade Fire (as The Reflecktors) – Reflektor 12″ (12″, Sono Vox/Merge Records, MRG484, 2013) ($8.99, free shipping) Merge put some copies of Arcade Fire’s mysterious “Reflektor” single in their online store. Released under the pseudonym The Reflektors, it was timed with the announcement of the album and single of the same name on September 9th at 9PM (9/9/9). Lots of speculation and rumor about the announcement leading up to the time and an accurate leak of the song the day before. The 45 RPM 12″ has the full version of the song and an instrumental version on the flipside. The song was produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and features guest vocals by none other than David Bowie. It’s a pretty decent song and apparently points to the direction of the new album due out October 29th as being, in the words of Win Butler as a “mashup of Studio 54 and Haitian Voodoo.” (S.I.C.)

I also received four of the Daytrotter split LP’s this week, including the amazing Gary Clark Jr. split with Son House, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. We’re up to 13 of 14 of the preorders shipped (still waiting on the Maine one which is #13) I got the PHOX one ordered and will order the Tegan and Sara one in the next couple of weeks.

The Play B-Sides Guide to Hip Hop and Rap on Daytrotter.com

 

 

If you’re familiar with Daytrotter.com, it is probably because of the extensive coverage of the independent rock, folk and Americana scene. Daytrotter has established itself as one of the premiere tastemakers in this space, contributing to breaking bands like Dawes, Bon Iver, Mountain Goats and Deer Tick by featuring early sessions of the groups.

What you might not be familiar with is the impressive coverage of Hip Hop and Rap by Daytrotter. These sessions get lost in among the more visible or “buzzworthy” sessions by the Fleet Foxes, Andrew Bird’s and Timber Timbre’s of the scene. It’s as if while no one was looking, Sean Moeller has amassed sessions from notable and diverse artists from the so-called “Underground” Hip Hop genre and is certainly worth a closer look. So, I present The Play B-Sides Guide to Hip Hop and Rap on Daytrotter.com! This is a list of the sessions I’ve found on Daytrotter, each with a short write-up about it.

Looking at the list below, you get a sense of how in-tune with the Underground Hip Hop scene Moeller is. In fact, three of the acts he recorded are featured very prominently in this month’s Spin Magazine in a feature titled “The Changing Face of Hip-Hop” on Underground Hip Hop (G-Side, Danny Brown, and Main Attrakionz). But, more than that, we have some names that have been on the scene for a long time– producers Kid Koala, RJD2 and DJ Spooky and Tricky all turn in impressive sets, but also Lateef the Truthspeaker, and Aesop Rock as well as a surprising meetup with Naughty By Nature and Minneapolis Wunderkinds Solid Gold. Speaking of Solid Gold, a lot of the hot Minneapolis Hip Hop Scene is represented in Doomtree, P.O.S., Marijuana Deathsquads and Brother Ali.

I’d like to point out that typically the term “Hip Hop” is used these days to mean both DJ/Producing and Rap and I also tend to use the term to mean both, but since this list includes sessions with producers and M.C.’s (and combinations) I’m making the distinction. A very scholarly dissertation on hip hop is Jeff Chang’s “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation” and I heartily recommend this to anyone interested in this music and culture. According to Chang, initially, “hip hop” was used to describe the culture surrounding three things: b-boy/breakdancing, DJ’ing and graffiti. Once M.C.’s took center stage, this idea changed to what we know today. It would also appear that graffiti as an artform has moved from it’s initial exclusive ties to hip hop culture. And, as far as breakdancing, well…

So, put on your headphones, sit back and take a tour of Daytrotter Hip Hop and Rap!

BTW: While you’re enjoying this treasure-trove of music, please consider paying a couple of bucks a month to support the efforts of Daytrotter who make this possible– and you get some bonus video and higher-quality downloads as a result.

(in alphabetical order- click on artist name to get to the session)

Aesop Rock An early session– 2008 by Definitive Jux artist Aesop Rock around the time of his None Shall Pass album. This is one of my favorite Hip Hop sessions on Daytrotter.

Astronautalis Minneapolis native Charles Andrew Bothwell performs as Astronautalis. Nice flow– reminds me a bit of Buck 65 (who really should do a Daytrotter, dontcha think?). He just wrapped up an extensive tour in support of Tegan & Sara. Tegan helps out on Astronautalis’ new video “Contrails.” One to watch, I think.

Brother Ali From Minneapolis via Madison, WI and signed to P.O.S.’s label Rhymesayers. According to a press bio, he’s influenced by classic hip hop and specifically KRS-One, who I think Ali’s style reminds me.

Busdriver Twitchy, frustrated spitting– vocally and musically. Busdriver at times seems to remind me of Mike Patton (Faith No More).

Curumin While not strictly hip hop, Curumin’s approach to his craft are well-steeped in that esthetic. Being signed to Bay Area massive Quannum Records helps a bit, too. Brazilian electronic goodness. Read my interview with Curumin here.

Danny Brown One of the artists featured prominently in the aforementioned Spin article. Brown’s slightly tongue-in-cheek nervous yelping seems reminiscent of Biz Markie with a bit more smutty bent.

DJ Spooky aka “That Subliminal Kid” turns in a brilliant set, bouncing and fresh. His other hobby is scholarly writing about symbolism and semiotics and I’m left pondering how his use of signs informs this set.

Doomtree Minneapolis’s other home of hip hop next to Rhymesayers is Doomtree. This is a set with multiple MC’s so we get 16 tracks. Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Cecil Otter and SIMS. I guess we assume that Lazerbeak did the beats? Learned about this group just ahead of the Gayngs Affilyated show where they performed as a group set on the main stage and as solo sets. The group just released their second album as a group titled No Kings that is shaping up to be a critical success.

Grieves This is an early (ish) recording of Grieves who is now part of the Rhymesayers label and apparently runs in the same circles as Mac Lethal, so it makes sense he shows up on a Daytrotter session. This 12 minute smooth rant is pretty great. The late DJ Jimmy Hands from Fort Collins on the turntables.

G-Side G-Side is part of the Huntsville, Alabama hip hop scene that is based around the Slow Motion Soundz record label that is also featured prominently in the Spin issue. Out of all of the sessions on Daytrotter, this one is one of my favorites and I’ve listened to it a dozen times in the last week. You can hear the hunger of a group trying to break. Plus, some really great beats– the use of strings on “Came Up” is brilliant.

Kid Sister Spitters of the fairer sex aren’t represented heavily on Daytrotter, but Doomtree’s Dessa and Kid Sister from Chicago are both MC’s I’m a fan of. This is a really fun session and Kid Sister is able to take the attitude and finesse that Fergie embodied on “Glamorous” (and never achieved again, IMO) and run. “Right Hand Hi” is a real trunk-rattler (if you’re into that kind of thing) Worth repeated listens, seriously.

Kid Koala Koala has been on the scene since the mid 90’s if you can imagine that– as long as I have been following the turntablist phenomenon, he has been a staple and is as important a figure in that space as Mixmaster Mike, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Q-Bert, in my opinion. An interesting session as he recreates his beat-juggling manipulation of “Moon River” like he did during The Hard Sell tour opening for Shadow and Chemist.

Kimya Dawson & Aesop Rock For Aesop Rock’s return to the Horseshack, he is in support of Kimya Dawson, who is likely best known for her band Mouldy Peaches and the Juno soundtrack. This collaboration resulted in tracks on Kimya’s album Thunder Thighs, but it seems that none of these songs made it on that album. I’m compelled by the idea of this session, but I’m afraid it doesn’t quite live up to the promise. Maybe it’s just a little early in their work together?

The Knux Another brilliant session on Daytrotter– sounds like the Strokes if they were fronted by MC’s. These cats are on Interscope– why they aren’t more exposed, I have no idea.

Lateef the Truthspeaker One of the original artists on the seminal Bay Area label Solesides along with DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Blackalicious that would become what is today known as Quannum Records. I hope that this is a sign that we’ll see Lyrics Born or Lateef’s project with LB Latyrx in for a session.

Mac Lethal As I write this Mac Lethal is blowing up all over the place for a video he shot recently of himself rapping and making pancakes. I saw Mac Lethal at the first Daytrotter in 2009 at West Liberty and wasn’t very impressed– at least with that particular live show. I’d like to see another attempt at bringing other genres of music to the barns– but maybe it just isn’t the venue for that music.

Main Attrakionz This Oakland duo was also called out in the Spin article. The production by Green Ova brings a mellow atmospheric vibe to the works.

Matisyahu Matisyahu melds his traditional Hasidic Jewish spiritualism with Raggae music and rap. Matisyahu has been gaining exposure steadily over the last few year since his brilliant and groundbreaking Live at Stubb’s.

Marijuana Deathsquads Originally formed as the backing band for P.O.S., the band has ventured into it’s own and has a reputation for over-the-top improvisational live shows.

Naughty By Nature featuring Solid Gold An interesting pairing as a result of both acts playing RIBCO on a shared Daytrotter-presents bill. Solid Gold, who provides the instruments, is quickly becoming the next-big-thing from Minneapolis with some helpful boosting from their participation in GAYNGS. NBN brings some inspired MC’ing. Would love to see this partnership fleshed out into a formal release, but I’m afraid this magic intersection is a one-night-stand.

P.O.S. Stef Alexander– better known as P.O.S. turns in an early Daytrotter session from 2006 around the time of his sophomore album. Mike Mictlan from Doomtree collective on beats. A fun, and loose session. Minneapolis represent.

Reggie Watts If you aren’t hip to Reggie Watts, it’s time. Every work is improvised on the spot and produced by looping the layers. Mindblowingly cool and typically funny stuff in the funk/soul tip.

RJD2 RJ turns in a fantastic mix. I’m a sucker for his stutter beats.

Shabazz Palaces As buzzworthy as hip hop gets in the indie space– Seattle collective Shabazz Palaces is the first hip hop act to be signed to SubPop. It makes me happy that Ishmael Butler was once in Digable Planets, because Shabazz Palaces is cool like that.

Soulcrate Music Wow, hip hop from Sioux Falls, South Dakota? The Midwest is shaping up to be bringing some really compelling hip hop and Soulcrate Music is a collective to watch.

Theophilius London An oddly short session. “Flying Overseas” gets a great treatment and remix in this session. I agree with the poster who commented that there should have been a couple of other songs.  But, we get what we get.

Tricky Oh, Tricky. You had me at Maxinquaye but not much longer than that. After the bizarre love triangle with Bjork and Goldie, I sort of lost track. However, this session is really great, showing why he was a big deal to begin with. Worth checking out, for sure. The cover of the XTC “hit single” “Dear God” is amazing.

Yea Big & Kid Static From Chicago– kind of “nerdcore” or whatever that genre that Childish Gambino seems to fit in. The cover of “Thank You For Being a Friend” is pretty funny, if disposable.

Free Download: “Definition of a Star” by DJ D-Sharp with Kev Choice and Tony Vic

Admittedly, I tend to favor L.A. and Bay Area Hip Hop which might not be surprising when you consider that my music website history starts with Solesides/Quannum labels. The crews out there tend to be pretty closely-knit, so you get a lot of really cool side projects and collaborations.

This week DJ D-Sharp has made his new single “Definition of a Star” available for FREE. The woodblock and strings-stabbing head-bobber features D-Sharp in a classic boasting MC role in addition to production. Kev Choice and Tony Vic have his back with their vocals. “I AM… The definition of a star,” D-Sharp announces.

I first became aware of D-Sharp when he came to Iowa City as Lyrics Born’s DJ last year. The fact of the matter is that D-Sharp has been around the Quannum camp since he was introduced by his friend Lateef Dumont– aka Lateef the Truth Speaker. Since then he has toured and worked with most of the acts on the label including Blackalicious and The Lifesavas in addition to LB and Lateef. His bio also includes a fairly extensive resume of working with A-List hip hop acts like Black Eyed Peas, Jurassic 5, and Lauren Hill.

The single comes down as one zip file with two versions of the single– the clean and dirty versions as well as the acapellas (in case you want to take on remixing!).

Click Here to download “Definition of a Star”

Click Here to visit DJ D-Sharp’s Website.

Click Here to visit DJ D-Sharp’s MySpace Page

Free Download: “Certain Special Way” from Love and Understanding by Joyo Velarde; drops 2/16

Wow. At long last it appears that we are within reach of the hip hop Siren of the Bay Joyo Velarde’s first full-length! Titled Love and Understanding, it will release on Tuesday 2/16 on Quannum Projects.

Joyo’s history with Quannum Records starts before Quannum when DJ Shadow, The Gift of Gab, Chief Xcel and Lyrics Born formed Solesides Records where she provided her background vocals to early releases by Lyrics Born, Blackalicious and Lateef. When the crew disbanded Solesides in 1999 and re-emerged as the Quannum Collective we got to hear Joyo as a lead singer on the track “People Like Me” which was part of the maiden release Spectrum which featured all of the original Solesides Crew. This was quickly followed up by a single of the pretty and airy Caribbean feel of “Sweet Angels.”

The promise of a full album for Joyo existed for nearly a decade– which isn’t to say she wasn’t busy recording providing her backing vocals for countless other releases and providing a constant presence with Lyrics Born on record and on tour. In retrospect it really seems like the four releases from Lyrics Born starting with the 2003 blockbuster Later That Day, 2005’s Same Sh*#%t Different Day, Overnite Encore live album, and 2008’s Everywhere At Once and the constant touring requirements put a voluntary hold on the recording of the album. Add to that the fact that Joyo and LB got married and had a baby in the meantime and one can see how this might take a back seat!

Thankfully, she was in the studio working on this album almost the entire time– so we were given a taste of what was to come with a couple of releases– The Hey Love! Mixtape in September 2008 included “Build This World,” and “Take You Home”, and her EP which was released last April included “Build This World,” “The Way We Are,”  and “Take You Home.”

In addition to the obvious participation from Lyrics Born, who is the Executive Producer for Love and Understanding, additional help was provided by Jake One, Asa Taccone, RJD2, Tommy Guerrero, Headnodic of the Crown City Rockers and Jumbo the Garbageman from The Lifesavas.

It will be interesting to see if Joyo tours for this. Hubby Lyrics Born’s next album As U Were is damn near completion and should drop any day assumedly. A tour for LB with Joyo opening would be really great, I think.

Tracklisting for Love and Understanding:

  1. Mama’s Got a Brand New Swag’ (So Exquisite) feat. Lyrics Born
  2. Build This World
  3. Certain Special Way
  4. Strong Possibility feat. Lyrics Born
  5. Ticket To Love
  6. With Feeling
  7. The Way We Are
  8. You Got Me (In the Mood)
  9. Lower Deck
  10. Feels Right
  11. Take You Home
  12. On and On

Click Here to download “Certain Special Way” from Love and Understanding due to drop 2/16/10.

Free Download: “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” by Lyrics Born w/Lateef!

Lyrics Born released another new free download from the upcoming As U Were— a reunion of sorts with Lateef the Truth Speaker called “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart.” The track is an interesting sort of 80’s-inspired head bobber featuring the distinctive rapping and vocals from LB and Lateef. I liked the first track “leaked” “Funky Hit Records,” but this track has summer jam written all over it.

The first track off of As U Were offered as a free download was “Funky Hit Records” back in March. That song got a video, and so does this one, and it’s directed by Raphael LaMotta from ApSci who incidentally have a new album out as well.

The video and MP3 were shared via Urb this morning. I’ve listened to the track about a dozen times already!

Lyrics Born – “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” feat. Lateef The Truthspeaker. from World’s Fair on Vimeo.

Click Here to download “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” featuring Lateef the Truthspeaker.

There is also another remix contest– this one for “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart!”

Joyo Velarde Moves Center Stage With 5-Song EP

If you’ve been following Lyrics Born’s over 16-year career, you are familiar with the heavenly vocal counterpoint of Joyo Velarde. Joyo’s recorded career with Lyrics Born started with her “Moo baby” vocal hook on his 1997 landmark release of “Balcony Beach” which would eventually be released on the Latyrx album.

It’s been my opinion that the increasing popularity of Lyrics Born is his unwillingness to be pigeonholed into any particular music style and his tendency for very musical releases. I can appreciate straight beats-and-rhymes hip-hop, but I like my hip-hop tempered with some melody, and certainly Joyo’s presence on his recordings are part of that.

The promise of Joyo’s first solo record has existed since she released her “Sweet Angels” single in 2002 on the then-newly-formed Quannum Records. Which isn’t to say that she hasn’t been busy– since that time she has provided her voice to many recordings– mostly related to the Quannum collective like the last couple Blackalicious records, Lyrics Born, Latyrx, The Mighty Underdogs, as well as the impressively extensive touring that Lyrics Born has been maintaining since his first album Later That Day. Joyo’s album Love and Understanding was originally supposed to be released last fall and had the very cool Hey Love! mix as its calling card, which included tracks from the upcoming release.

Now the release date is slated for this November, and on May 26th, a self-titled 5-song EP will be released digitally (no physical media, presumably). The EP includes three tracks that were included in the Hey Love! mix: “Build This World,” “Take You Home,” and the Bobby Digital-produced bonus track “I Need You Boy.”

The songs on the EP are a great slice of R&B and Soul. If you are looking for the down-home funk that Lyrics Born brings, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But, the EP isn’t without its funky moments, the track shared all over is “Take You Home” which is pretty much my favorite track on the EP is a summery dance-funk track that should help build the interest in the album.

Tracklisting:
1. Build This World
2. The Way We Are
3. Feels Right
4. Take You Home
5. I Need You Boy (bonus)

Click Here to download “Take You Home” from Joyo Velarde EP.

Click Here to visit Joyo’s MySpace Page

Here is the video for “Take You Home”:

Upcoming Show: Lyrics Born @ The Picador in Iowa City – 4/15/09!

Lyrics Born

Well, it looks like I don’t have to drive to Minneapolis on April 17th, as Lyrics Born will be stopping by Iowa City on his way from Madison to Minneapolis!

Lyrics Born along with Joyo Velarde and DJ D-Sharp will be playing the Picador in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 15th. A Wednesday night show will be a little rough for work the next day, and there isn’t much for seating at the Picador so it will be a standing night. Doors are at 9PM according to the Picador site and Ticketweb, and they are a very reasonable $15. Other acts to be announced.

Click Here to visit Lyrics Born’s Website

Click Here to visit the Picador website

Click Here to order tickets from TicketWeb

Don’t forget to download LB’s new song “Funky Hit Records” from his forthcoming album As U Were.

B-Sides in the Bins #42 – Curumin Interview

Curumin

When presented with the opportunity to interview Curumin, I knew that it would be an education for me. I haven’t really been following the resurgence of Braziliana that has been taking place over the last few years.

It was on a trip to Brazil where Chief Xcel of the mighty Blackalicious hears Curumin’s 2005 album Achados e Perdidos and signs him to Quannum. Curumin’s latest album Japan Pop Show (Quannum, 2008) is a testament to his passion for collecting vinyl. As you might expect someone who is a music collector would bring that passion and influence to his own record and certainly a closer look at his record collection reveals the source inspiration for this great record. Curumin sat down with me following the intimate but electric show at CSPS in Cedar Rapids on January 26th.

Me: Can you tell us a bit about your record collection?

Curumin: I am a music lover, and as a music lover I am a vinyl collector, too. I focus my collection more in Brazilian stuff. I have some Jamaican stuff, too. I have some American Soul/Funk Music– but it is more Brazilian stuff. I live in downtown São Paulo and the best place to buy vinyl is there because most of the stores are there. I used to go to a shop a lot called Discos Sete— that means “Disco Seven”– it’s a really good shop the owner is a guy named Carlinhos and he knows everything about Brazilian music. He is the guy who really taught me were is the best records, who is the best artists– what they made, which records have a good song– or funky song, soul or samba good track. A very, very good store.

There are a few in São Paulo– another good store called Gordo’s Place…

“gordo?” like “fat?”

Yeah, like “fat”– exactly. Another great vinyl store– there is some hip hop there, yeah– there’s soul, there’s a lot of funk. There is, too, Brazilian music. All of that in downtown São Paulo.

On the inside cover of Japan Pop Show you have some made up cover art?

Yeah, actually, this is an idea– my brother (Christiano N.A.) did the cover art. He was trying to get this seven-inch or vinyl feeling.

So, how come there’s no vinyl pressing of this album?

(Laughs) Yeah, yeah. We’ll probably try it some day, you know but it’s very specific people that buy vinyl and we don’t have a lot of money to [promote it].– so it’s hard for us, you know. But, my dream is to record in a good studio, in an old way, in an old style and make [a vinyl release].

So, where did you record Japan Pop Show? Did you use ProTools?

Yeah, we produced a lot in computers, and sequencers– you know modern production– with a lot of edits and ProTools and stuff like that. But we play [instruments] on it, too.

Are you buying records on the road?

Yeah, this is a problem (laughs). We already have a lot of stuff to carry on, and you know in airports it’s always hard with baggage.

Are you concerned about the records getting stolen? I remember when DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist were doing the Brainfreeze tour and Cut Chemist got his vinyl stolen.

Yeah, It’s a famous story in Brazil about DJ’s like Cut Chemist and Madlib going to Brazil and São Paulo and buying four boxes of LP’s– but they found a way to ship back to the US. But, we are always carrying on and taking care of [the records] because bringing on the airplane is hard and they don’t care too much about what you’re carrying on.

Speaking of Cut Chemist, he used a Brazilian singer on his album The Audience Is Listening— Astrud Gilberto, right? On “The Garden”

The song is “Canto De Ossanha” from a very famous album– that version that he uses is not from the original album. The original album called Os Afro Samba from Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes. I don’t know where he got his version. But it’s really good, right?

[Upon research, it appears that the version Cut Chemist is using is from Astrud Gilberto‘s 1966 Verve album Look to the Rainbow arranged by Gil Evans. Although, to get around sample clearance, Cut Chemist brought in some studio musicians to create new music. -ed]

What is one of the great finds you’ve had digging through crates?

Hmmm, well I found an album once that now is very rare to find– [in the past I found it] and said “I will not buy today,” but when it started to get rare I had to get it! There’s a lot of people looking for it– an album from Erasmo Carlos called Sonhos e Memorias and it’s a great Psych-Folk-Funk-Rock album from the 70’s and it’s a really, really good album. I think this is my precious one.

[The album was released in 1972 on Polydor, and goes for over $90 at different places on the Internet. –ed]

If someone wanted to get into some of the music you are listening to, where would they start?

I like a lot of the 60’s and 70’s– there were some guys in Brazil who started to bring that soul and funk feeling into their music. They used to play samba– so you can find that on Jorge Ben and Tim Maia— they were some of the first to try to make that mix of funk, soul and samba. [As far as current acts go] you can find something in Academia da Berlinda that plays more cumbia, salsa and merengue. You can find a singer called CéU who has a great sound and is a great friend– well there is a lot of great music– I could stay here talking all night about this!

[Notably, Lucas Martins who is the co-producer for Japan Pop Show and part of Curumin’s touring band as well as DJ Marco who does turntables on Japan Pop Show are part of CéU’s band. -ed]

Do you think you have a good home at Quannum?

Yeah, yeah for sure. They started as a hip-hop label, but now they are getting into more different stuff. I’m really honored to be there because I admire a lot all of the artists there– it’s a good family and great friends so I’m really happy to be there.

What are your plans after this tour?

We are in the middle of the tour and there are four or five shows left, then we’ll be back in February.

I’m not sure what I’m doing later this year. I have lots of work to do– I work with other projects with other acts in Brazil that are all releasing new stuff this year, so I will be focusing on those projects. But, I don’t know, I want to start something new this year, too– I don’t know if we’ll have the time, but I guess we make the time, right?

How was the Daytrotter session?

Oh, wow, it was great, it was great! The studio is amazing, right? Have you been there?

No, but I’d love to some time! It’s so close to Cedar Rapids. I dig all the stuff they release.

The studio is amazing. They have only vintage equipment and it sounds good.

So you had to bring your electric cavaquinho I assume– did you have to bring your MPC’s, too?

Yes, we did four songs. It was really great.

OK, well thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, I know you guys want to get to dinner. Have a safe drive to Minneapolis and a good rest of your tour.

Thanks, Michael!

Links for Deeper Digging:

Click Here to visit Curumin’s MySpace Page

Click Here to see a YouTube clip about Disco Sete Record Shop from the “Brazil in Time” documentary.

Click Here to see a YouTube clip about Gordo & Celio’s Record Shop from the “Brazil in Time documentary.

Click Here to visit the MySpace page for Academia da Berlinda

Click Here to visit the MySpace page for CéU.

Click Here for more information about Erasmo Carlos’s Sonhos e Memorias LP.

Curumin Live at CSPS in Cedar Rapids 1/26/09 (review)

Curumin at CSPS in Cedar Rapids, IA 1-26-09

On Monday, January 26th Sherry and I went to see the Curumin show at CSPS. I was pretty interested to see this show. Curumin is part of the next generation of artists on on the seminal Bay Area Hip-Hop label Quannum. The first generation were primarily Hip Hop acts: DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born, Lateef and Blackalicious, and while the label still signs Rap and Hip Hop acts they have also signed artists who don’t neatly fit into that category: ApSci is closer to an electro act and Honeycut is damn near a synth pop band. One of the labels latest signings Curumin brings a fusion of hip hop, funk, soul and Brazilian styles playing equally the parts of producer and performer.
Lucas, Curumin & Marcelo

The show was one of the more spirited shows I’ve seen at CSPS– certainly a departure from regular diet of stripped-down folk-singer songwriter shows I usually attend there. This was also the first show I’d seen that used the actual stage at CSPS. Usually the small acts are on a set of risers on the floor in front of the stage. This fact alone invited some folks to actually get out and “express themselves physically” in Mel Andringa’s words from his funny introduction to the group.

The crowd was somewhere around 40 people and was an interesting mix of people– some of them were “regulars” at CSPS and in support of the organization hit most of the shows, but there were also some new faces and some that I expect were students taking advantage of their inexpensive ticket price.

Curumin

The theme of Curumin’s latest album Japan Pop Show is his love of record collecting down to the mocked-up record art in the CD liner notes. At times Curumin would shout out “vinyl!” or “Does Cedar Rapids love the vinyl?” At least this reviewer does! Curumin brought two other guys to help reproduce the layered sound of the album. It was an interesting combo, really. Curumin took turns on the trap, the cavaquinho (the electric ukelele-type instrument) and MPC. Lucas Martins (who contributed to Japan Pop Show) played bass and MPC, and Marcelo Effori played drums, percussion and MPC. The fact that they all had MPC sampler/sequencers as an additional instrument allowed them to reproduce much of the sampled parts of Japan Pop Show.

The show centered primarily around Curumin’s two albums– Japan Pop Show and the previous Achados e Perididos, but also threw in a couple of covers including a very well-executed Roy Ayers song “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and a Nina Simone cover “Mr. Backlash Blues” which he introduced by calling it an American standard and that “it’s good to be here in the United States and be able to play this song” which was met with audience approval. He also threw in some reggae covers for good measure and a few bars of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” to show his American influences, although likely missed by the bluehairs that split less than a half-hour into the show.

Curumin

This tour is only Curumin’s second in the US but you wouldn’t know it based on his comfort on the stage and his ability to warm up a conservative Midwestern Monday night crowd. Halfway through the set he had folks on the floor dancing and we even got a breakdancer!

I suspect that the crowd wasn’t near what he had seen in San Francisco where he was joined on stage by other acts from Quannum with a hometown crowd for the label, but he still put on one of the best shows I’ve seen at CSPS. Talking with some of the other folks at the show they were very impressed and were new fans of Curumin and his pastiche approach to Braziliana.

Earlier that day Curumin and his band recorded a set for Daytrotter in Rock Island so I’m looking forward to that and will be posting about that as soon as they post it. I had an interview with Curumin which I will be posting today.

Click Here to Visit Curumin’s MySpace Page

Click Here to see the full flickr set of pictures I took.

Upcoming Show: Curumin at CSPS in Cedar Rapids 1/26/09

This might be as close as a Quannum artist will get to Cedar Rapids…

While touring Brazil, Chief Xcel of the formidable Blackalicious fell in love with the locally released Achados e Perdidos and quickly signed Luciano Nakata Albuquerque who performs under the moniker Curumin (KOO-roo-mean). Achados e Perididos with its pan-continental mix of salsa and funk was re-released on Quannum in September 2005 to critical praise– quite an achievement for an artist who sings primarily in Portuguese!

In October, 2008 Curumin released the much-anticipated follow up JapanPopShow— the title of which is a nod to his split Spanish and Japanese heritage. JapanPopShow picks up where Achados left of with its strong samba-soul vibe and warps it with the heat of afro-beat, dub and experimental funk with refreshing spritzes of tropicalia. At times it reminds me of Air or Gilberto Gil in it’s easy casual feel. The Quannum collective jumps in to lend a hand on some of the tracks– Herve Salters from Honeycut, the Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel from Blackalicious and Lateef. Frankly a brilliant and original album. I especially dig Curumin’s testament to his love of 45RPM records “Compactu.”

So, Cedar Rapids will be warmed with Brazil’s ambassador of samba soul in the dead of winter on Monday, January 26th at Cedar Rapids own CSPS! The show starts at 8PM and tickets are $13 in advance and $16 the day of the show.

According to his press releases, Curumin typically tours with a couple of musicians and each took the stage armed with an MPC sampler providing live beat manipulations combined with live instrumentation. Curumin also switches between live drums and cavaquinho which is like a ukelele.

Don’t sleep on this, folks– it promises to be a head-bobbin’ evening.

Click Here to visit the Facebook Event for Curumin at CSPS.

Click Here for more information on the show

Click Here for Curumin’s MySpace Page which has streams of some of his tracks.

Click Below to download “Compacto” (personal favorite)

JapanPopShowCurumin
“Compacto” (mp3)
from “JapanPopShow”
(Quannum Projects)

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