Album of the Week: Daptone Mood by Various Artists


Album: Daptone Mood
Artist: Various
Release Date: May 12, 2022
Label: Daptone Records
Favorite Tracks:

Thoughts: The new compilation from Daptone Records is a collection of slower tunes released by the label’s many artists.  If you’re not familiar, Daptone Records is a Brooklyn-based label founded in 2002 most noted for enabling the late career resurgence of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley (both of whom are now deceased) and recording numerous other contemporary artists making classic soul and funk as well as reggae and afrobeat.  The album is full of gems and really hits the spot for me right now.

Rating: ****1/2

 

Album of the Week 2022

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Album of the Week: Where’s the One? by Congotronics International


Album: Where’s the One?
Artist: Congotronics International
Release Date: April 29, 2022
Label: Crammed Discs
Favorite Tracks:

  • Where’s the One
  • Kule Kule Redux
  • Doubt/Hope
  • Banza Banza
  • Guiyome

Thoughts:  The debut album from Congotronics International is an epic set of 23-tracks.  The supergroup is made up of members of Konono No.1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and Skeletons’ Matthew Mehlan for a total of 19 musicians from 4 continents.  The musical style is a fusion of traditional music of Congo with various rock styles.  The result is a music that is infectious, and not surprisingly a dense and loud conflagration of instruments and voices.

Rating:****

 

Album of the Week 2022

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Song of the Week: “Where’s the One?” by Congotronics International


Congotronics International – “Where’s the One?”

Congotronics is a supergroup made up of members of bands from four continents including Konono Nº1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and Skeletons’ Matt Mehlan.  “Where’s the One?” is the title track of their debut album due out April 29.

Song of the Week 2022

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Album of the Week: Electricity by Ibibio Sound Machine


Album: Electricity
Artist: Ibibio Sound Machine
Release Date: March 25, 2022
Label: Merge Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Protection From Evil
  • Afo Ken Doko Mien
  • All That You Want
  • Oyoyo
  • Freedom

Thoughts: London-based electronic Afro-funk ensemble Ibibio Sound Machine’s fourth album is a revelation to my ears.  The synthpop sounds and EDM-style low bass notes make their music highly danceable.  But as we go through the album there are albums that can remind one of Donna Summer’s work with Giorgio Moroder, Feta Kuli, and Grace Jones.  The tunes also showcase the powerful voice of lead vocalist Eno Williams, especially on slower tracks like “Afo Ken Doko Mien”
Rating: ****


Album of the Week 2022

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Album Review: Rejoice by Tony Allen, Hugh Masekela


AlbumRejoice
Artist: Tony Allen, Hugh Masekela
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Label: World Circuit
Favorite Tracks:

  • Agbada Boudou
  • Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)
  • We’ve Landed

Thoughts:

Tony Allen was a drummer from Nigeria who was key in defining the genre of Afrobeat when working with Fela Kuti’s Africa ’70 band.  In 2010, he collaborated with the equally legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela on the sessions that would lead to this album.  Masekela died in 2018. Allen completed the sessions with some of London’s top jazz artists.

Allen died on April 30, just a little over a month after this album’s release, so it stands as a memorial to him as well.  Nevertheless, it is a joyous recording as the title proclaims.  I don’t have the language and experience to adequately describe Afrobeat and jazz, but I like what I hear.  Most of the album is instrumental, with exceptions like “Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same),” a tribute to Fela Kuti.  In the music you can hear the freedom and friendship of two great artists pushing one another to greater heights.  It’s also a very crisp recording where each instrument resonates richly and deeply.

This is a terrific album and makes me want to dive into the back catalog of both artists.

Rating: ****

 

Monthly Mixtape – December 2019


Better late than never!  Here are some good new songs from the last month of last year.

Madame Gandhi :: Top Knot Turn Up

Madame Gandhi, the former drummer for M.I.A and a runner of the London Marathon, s an electronic music artist and activist based in Los Angeles.

Antibalas :: Fight Am Finish

My favorite Afrobeat band from Brooklyn (with ties to Daptone records) returns!

beabadoobee :: Are You Sure

Beatrice Kristi Laus is a youthful Filipino-British indie singer-songwriter.

MaLLy :: Black Moses

The latest from a Minneapolis rapper. Read more at The Current.


Previous Mixtapes:

Album Review: Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo


Album: Remain in Light
ArtistAngélique Kidjo
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Born Under Punches
  • Crosseyed and Painless
  • Once in a Lifetime
  • Houses in Motion
  • but really, the whole album

Thoughts:

In 1980, the Talking Heads released the seminal New Wave album Remain in Light which incorporated African rhythms and instrumentation into post-punk rock music.  Angélique Kidjo takes the music back to Africa by covering the entire album.  And, wow, it’s absolutely breathtaking! Even if you’ve listened to the Talking Heads album again and again, these feel like fresh, brand-new songs!

Rating: ****1/2