Category: 1970s

Although over the past twenty years or so Cape Verde, the tiny island nation comprised of an archipelago of 10 different, volcanic islands off the Northwestern coast of Africa has been hailed as one of the continent’s most stable democracies, its history suggests that things were very different. With a prime location in the Atlantic Ocean, the island nation was uninhabited until the 15th century, when the Portuguese colonized it, established it was not only the first European settlement in the tropics; but as a major commercial center and stopover point for the Transatlantic Slave Trade during the 16th and 17th centuries. The decline and eventual abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in a crippling economic crisis; however, because of the island’s location in the middle of major shipping lanes, it quickly became an important commercial center and port. Interestingly, with few natural resources and inadequate sustainable investment from the Portuguese, who had controlled the island nation for the better part of 300 years, Cape Verde’s citizens had become increasingly frustrated with colonial rule.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, a series of independence and nationalist movements across colonized Africa began sprouting up across Africa –including Cape Verde. In 1951, Portugal changed the island nation’s status from a colony to overseas province in an attempt to blunt Cape Verdeans growing nationalism; however, by 1956 Amilcar Cabral led a group of Cape Verdeans and Guineans, who formed the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The group demanded improvement in economic, social and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea — and interestingly enough, formed the basis of both nations’ independence movement. After moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion the following year, which resulted in a bloody and complicated civil war that had Soviet Bloc-supported PAIGC fighting Portuguese and African troops.

Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence the following year as Guinea-Bissau. Amilcar Cabral led Cape Verde’s burgeoning independence movement until his assassination that same year, then led by Cabral’s half-brother Luis Cabral, who led the archipelago nation to independence in 1975. Much like their counterparts across the continent, the tiny island nation suffered through the similar ills of a society born by and influenced by colonialism, slavery and greed struggling to integrate into a rapidly globalizing world — and not quite knowing how to do so. The sense of detachment from the modern world fostered among Cape Verdeans a yearning to integrate, to connect with the larger world in any way that they could. And those who emigrated to the cosmopolitan European cities didn’t find much respite as Cape Verdeans were viewed as “hot-blooded” “dropouts” and “juvenile delinquents.” However, with the ready availability of electronic instruments, a doorway to a sense of modernity and an perceived anchor in their adopted homes was understandably seductive. As Val Xalino, a Cape Verdean-born, Gothenburg, Sweden-based electronic music artist and pioneer of his birthplace’s electronic sound explains in press notes “Cape Verdeans were celebrating their independence and with that the dancing became even more important.People wanted to hear something different. They wanted the synthesizer!”

Émigré musicians began traveling back and forth between Europe and their island homeland with luggage packed with synthesizers and MIDI instruments. And although many were primarily urban-based, musicians began frequent traveling to the countryside to learn the rhythms and melodies of rural farmers, frequently sampling melodies played off of slightly off-tune and damaged accordions and other field recordings. The result was this weird and compelling sound that drew from folk melodies and rhythms and contemporary electronic production — and from both African and European influences. The hearts and minds of a new nation of passionate, musically-included people were enthralled, including Paulino Viera, who would quickly become the island nation’s most important, beloved and influential musician.

Veira was especially drawn to keyboard-based instruments as he had honed his skills playing organ and piano at a Catholic seminary. His musical career started in earnest as a backing member of the renowned vocalist Cesaria Evora, whose cavaquinho-based folk songs received international attention while being instrumental in establishing the island nation as a music scene worthy of your attention — especially if you were into music across the wildly diverse African Diaspora. Interestingly, an underground electronic music scene had started with Viera leading charge once he relocated to Lisbon, Portugal, where he lead Voz de Cabo Verde, a beloved ensemble that frequently collaborated with other Cape Verdean-born musicians across the Diaspora. As Elisio Gomes, a Cape Verdean-born, Paris-based vocalist, who collaborated with Veira often, explained in press notes ““Paulino was the most visionary. He always had this gift to be 10 years ahead of his time. That’s why our music sounds like it was produced today.”

Now, as I’ve mentioned frequently on this site, the technological advances brought forth by computers and the Internet have made discovering new and extremely rare, lost music from known and little known artists much easier, all while contributing to the proliferation of extremely niche based labels, who are willing to take careful and thoughtful risks based around the tastes and listening habits of their staff and their most fervent followers. Naturally, it meant these smaller, niche labels would frequently spend their time re-introducing artists, whose work was so far ahead of its time that audiences just couldn’t grasp it upon its initial release — and yet fills in an important gap historically speaking; re-introducing regionally favored artists, whose work should have seen a bigger audience but didn’t; releasing music from various locations around the world that Westerners should know and love but was largely ignored; to provide an alternate history of developments across a genre — based on a region or a country that Westerners had long ignored and so on. And adding to a growing list of small labels releasing cool stuff, Ostinato Records will be releasing a cool compilation of electronic music from Cape Verde — a compilation in which the aforementioned Paulino Veira contributes to about half the songs — titled Ostinato Records Presents: Synthesize The Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica From The Cape Verde Island 1973-1988.

And through 18 extremely diverse tracks, the compilation will reveal how immigration from Cape Verde to Europe and the US created an alternate history of electronic music that had been largely ignored by most Westerners. Manuel Gomes’ “Jelivrà Bo Situaçon” pairs propulsive African percussion, shuffling Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, twisting and turning keyboard chords played on what sounds like an old Casio keyboard paired with Gomes’ softly yearning, bittersweet vocals and is the compilation’s first single. Sonically speaking while the song clearly has the mark of either decidedly lo-fi production or comes as the result of re-mastering from old analog masters, it possesses a hypnotic, cosmic glow with groove and melody turning into one cohesive unit. And while being a bit bittersweet, the song at its core possesses the sense of unbridled freedom and possibility of the dance floor, and the hopes and dreams of a new nation learning to create its own image and history for itself.

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Smoke Season’s Sultry, Synth Pop Cover of Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”

Just in time for the Halloween season, the members of Smoke Season released a minimalist synth pop cover of one of my favorite Talking Heads songs “Psycho Killer” in which Wortman’s sultry vocals are paired with cascading layers of shimmering synths, glitchy and stuttering drum programming and wobbling low end. And while the Talking Heads version conveyed a tense and anxious neurosis, the Smoke Season version makes losing one’s mind and killing darkly sexy — much like the visuals for the song, which features Wortman and Rosen dressed in tuxedos with scenes of modern dancers, dancing to the song, footage of trees coming into and out of shadow and the like.

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past two years or so, you may be familiar with Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records collaborative series of 60s and 70s proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid: The First Trip and Brown Acid: The Second Trip. 

Interestingly, RidingEasy Records’ Daniel Hall and Permanent records co-owner Lance Barresi spent a great deal of time not only just collecting and complain the singles on each volume of the compilation, they also spent time tracking down the songs’ creators, most frequently bands that haven’t been together in 30 or 40 years and encouraging them to take part in the entire process. As Barresi explained in press notes for the two compilations, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists participate it can give the songs and the artists a real second chance at success, if not some kind of attention for their work.

Follow the critical and commercial success of the first two volumes, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records will be releasing the third volume of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock, Brown Acid: The Third Trip, which is slated for an October 31, 2016 release.. Now, if you had stopped by this site earlier this year, you might recall that I wrote about the third compilation’s first single Grand Theft’s “Scream (It’s Eating Me Alive)” a song that seemed to nod at Led Zeppelin III and IV, Rush and The MC5 — in particular think of “Immigrant Song” “When the Levee Breaks”  “Working Man” and “Kick Out the Jams” as the song possesses a bristling, swaggering fury. The compilation’s second and latest single Chook’s “Cold Feet” sounds as though it were the love child of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Fire,” Black Sabbath and Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen” but with a shuffling, bluesy swagger, as the song is full of sexual innuendo and braggadocio and an incredible bass line.

 

As a music blogger and as a fan, the Internet has proven to be a wonderful place to discover both new music and extremely rare, lost music — and with ease. It’s also contributed to the proliferation of independent labels across the world, competing against the major conglomerates for your ears, attention and your hard-earned money. Unsurprisingly, smaller, indie labels have been more willing to take the sort of risks that their larger, monied rivals wouldn’t and couldn’t — including re-introducing artists, whose work was so wildly ahead of its time that audiences at the time of its initial release just couldn’t and didn’t accept, and yet historically speaking, filled in a gap that explains a contemporary trend; re-introducing regionally favored artists from a time when hit songs in Milwaukee were often different than hit songs in AtlantaBaltimore, Des MoinesMinneapolis or New York.

Sadly, before the Internet, bulletin boards and the blogosphere much of this seemingly forgotten material was only known to cultish and obsessively dedicated insiders and collectors, who were known to spend their time seeking and collecting long-lost and long-forgotten albums, hoarding them in private collections or selling them at exorbitant prices at collector’s shows.  Thankfully in many ways, the Internet and blogosphere have democratized the process, allowing the average listener and fan a chance to listen and to love some of these long-forgotten wonders; however, because of the money involved, labels

Unfortunately, because of the money involved, labels have mined beloved, popular and influential genres to exhaustion through endless compilations — in particular, psych rock, AM rock, doo wop, folk, soul and a few others immediately come to mind. Strangely enough up until last year, there hadn’t been many proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations when the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records released  two compilations of incredibly rare singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip and Brown Acid: The Second Trip.

With the help of Daniel Hall of RidingEasy Records, Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi spent time not just collecting and compiling the singles on each volume of the  compilation, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the two compilations, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.“ And by having the artists participate it can give the songs and the artists a real second chance at success, if not some kind of attention.

The third compilation of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The Third Trip is slated for release on October 31, 2016 and the third compilation’s first single, Grand Theft’s “Scream (It’s Eating Me Alive)” features enormous power chords, guitar pyrotechnics, thundering drumming, a propulsive bass line and howled vocals in a song that sounds as though it were channeling Led Zeppelin III and IV, Rush and The MC5 — in particular think of “Immigrant Song” “When the Levee Breaks”  “Working Man” and “Kick Out the Jams” as the song possesses a bristling, swaggering fury.

 

 

Comprised of Daniel Rice (vocals, guitar), David Kent (guitar), Hayden Doyel (bass), and Cody Tarbell (drums) , Visalia, CA-based quartet Slow Season has developed a reputation for a sound that nods towards the classic rock sound of the 60s and 70s — and for a relentless and exhausting touring schedule; in fact, last year, the Central California-based quartet went on an extensive summer tour with RidingEasy Records labelmates Mondo Drag and Electric Citizen and managed to find the time to record their forthcoming effort Westing, which is slated for a July 8, 2016 release.
Westing was recorded in DIY-like fashion like their previous efforts on reel-to-reel at Tarbell’s home studio in the middle of a cornfield, the band went through a quick and immediate process — with the album being tracked between mid January and the middle of February and then mixed to 2-track tape. And although their recording process hasn’t changed much, as the band’s drummer and primary recording engineer Cody Tarbell explains in press notes the new album is “a different album. But we never wanted to find a particular sound or any one thing and be attached to it permanently. A big part of our records is experimenting.” While cementing the band’s reputation for being sonically ambitious, Westing‘s material is thematically ambitious as well, with the album lyrically following “a loose narrative about our nation’s loss of innocence as it explores its frontiers re-contextualized in a story about an unnamed protagonist faced with choosing between different ideological allegiances and his own social identity,” as the band’s frontman Daniel Rice explained in press notes with each song following “the unholy trinity of greed + power + violence, the injustice wrought from this, persisting in willful ignorance and reaping what is sown.” In some way, the album’s thematic arc seems to capture the general tone and feel of contemporary conversations about institutionalized racism, institutionalized gender inequality, inequality in general and social justice — and although it’s thematically intense, it’s still backed by layers of towering power chords that will drive you wild . . .
“Y’Wanna,” Westing‘s first single pairs a shaggy yet extremely tight IV-era Led Zeppelin meets Down on the Upside-era Soundgarden-like groove with towering and buzzing power chords, a blues-leaning solo, a complex rhythm and falsetto vocals — and although deeply indebted to a familiar and beloved classic rock formula but with a subtly modern spin without removing the bluesy oomph and kick of its source influence.
You can catch the band live throughout a rather extensive tour schedule during May and June. Check out tour dates below.
TOUR DATES:
05/18 Santa Cruz, CA @ Blue Lagoon
05/19 San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
05/20 Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull Bar
05/21 Grants Pass, OR @ G Street Bar & Grill
05/24 Portland, OR @ The Liquor Store Bar
05/25 Seattle, WA @ Funhouse
05/27 Boise, ID @ The Shredder
05/28 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
05/29 Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
05/30 Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge
05/31 Chicago, IL @ Double Door
06/01 Indianapolis, IN @ Bent Rail Brewing
06/02 Kent, OH @ Stone Tavern
06/03 Pittsburgh, PA @ Gooski’s
06/04 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
06/06 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
06/07 Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
06/08 Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Yacht Club
06/09 Nashville, TN @ FooBAR
06/10 Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone *
06/11 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia *
06/12 Hattiesburg, MS @ The Tavern *
06/13 Shreveport, LA @ Bears *
06/14 Texarkana, TX @ Arrow Bar *
06/16 Oklahoma City, OK @ Blue Note *
06/17 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
06/18 Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
06/19 San Antonio, TX @ The Mix
06/22 Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Taproom
06/23 San Diego, CA @ The Merrow
*w/ Dirty Streets

Up until last year, there hadn’t been many comprehensive photo-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations, until the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records record store, along with  RidingEasy Records released a carefully curated compilation of incredibly rare photo-metal and pre-stoner rock singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi and RidingEasy Records’ Daniel Hall complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20.

Much like the first volume, the duo not only spent time collecting, compiling and then curating the material, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists actually participate in the entire process, it can give the artists and their songs a second chance at some much deserved attention — if not a second chance at success.

Now, over the past month or two I’ve written about The Second Trip’s first single Ash’s “Midnight Witch,” a single that would likely remind many listeners of Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords were  paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals — but with a deeply psychedelic feel. Amazingly, although the song was originally released more than 35 years ago, it sounds and feels as though it could have been released today as several contemporary bands have adopted a similar sound, including the likes of Ecstatic Vision. The compilation’s second single Crossfield’s “Take It” managed to sound and feel like a surreal amalgamation of Black Sabbath, The Rolling StonesThe Animals (in particular, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”) and The Doors  as blistering and scorching guitar chords are paired with soaring keyboard chords and thundering drumming with unusual tempo changes and chord progression changes that make the song feel and sound as though it were a prog rock precursor — all while giving the song an expansive, tripping off hallucinogens in the desert feel and tone. The Second Trip‘s third and latest single Iron Knowledge’s “Show Stopper” meshes elements of glam metal, metal and seemingly hip-hop and funk-inspired hip-hop breakbeats in a song that metalhead and hip-hop DJs would instantly love.

 

 

Up until last year, there hadn’t been many comprehensive photo-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations, until the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records record store, along with  RidingEasy Records released a carefully curated compilation of incredibly rare photo-metal and pre-stoner rock singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi and RidingEasy Records’ Daniel Hall have complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20.

Much like the first volume, the duo not only spent time collecting, compiling and then curating the material, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists actually participate in the entire process, it can give the artists and their songs a second chance at some much deserved attention — if not a second chance at success.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that just a few weeks ago, I wrote about The Second Trip‘s first single, Ash’s “Midnight Witch.” That single would likely remind many listeners of Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords were  paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals — but with a deeply psychedelic feel. Amazingly, although the song was originally released more than 35 years ago, it sounds and feels as though it could have been released today as several contemporary bands have adopted a similar sound, including the likes of Ecstatic Vision. The compilation’s second single Crossfield’s “Take It” manages to sound and feel like a surreal yet sensible amalgamation of Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, The Animals (in particular, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”) and The Doors and others as blistering and scorching guitar chords are paired with soaring keyboard chords and thundering drumming with unusual tempo changes and chord progression changes that make the song feel and sound as though it were a prog rock precursor — all while giving the song an expansive, tripping off hallucinogens in the desert feel and tone.

 

 

As I’ve mentioned on this site a number of times, the Internet really has proven to be a wonderful place to discover both new music and extremely rare, lost music — and with an increasing ease. Just think about it, the technology that brings this site into your home has contributed to a wild proliferation of independent labels across the world, equally competing against the major conglomerates for your ears, attention and money. And interestingly enough, smaller, independent artists have been much more willing (and able) to take the sort of risks that their larger, monied rivals wouldn’t and couldn’t — i.e., attempting to re-introduce artists, whose work was so wildly ahead its time that audiences at the the time just couldn’t accept it — and yet fill in a musical gap, or seem so current that it was impossible to figure how it was missed; attempting to reintroduce regionally favored artists from a time when hit songs in Milwaukee were often different than hit songs in Atlanta, Baltimore, Des Moines, Minneapolis or New York.

Of course, before the Internet, bulletin boards and social media, much of this material was only known to cultish and dedicated insiders, who would spend their time seeking and collecting long-lost and long-forgotten albums, often hoarding them in private collections or selling them at collector’s shows. The Internet and blogosphere have democratized the process, allowing the average listener and fan a chance to listen and to love some of these long-forgotten wonders. Unsurprisingly, there’s money that can be made from discovering long lost material, and it often results in labels and bloggers mining beloved and influential genres to exhaustion through endless compilations of certain genres — in particular psych rock, AM rock, doo wop, singer/songwriter folk, funk, soul and a few others come to mind.

Now, strangely enough up until last year, there hadn’t been many proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations when the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records released a compilation of incredibly rare singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. With the help of Daniel Hall of RidingEasy Records, Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi spent time not just collecting and compiling the singles on the compilation, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.“ And by having the artists participate it can give the songs and the artists a real second chance at success, if not some kind of attention.

Barresi and Hall have complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20. The Second Trip‘s first single, Ash’s “Midnight Witch” manages to sound as though it drew from Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords are paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals. And while being forceful, the song manages to possess a trippy feel — and in some way the song nods at material that has been released by a number of contemporary bands including Ecstatic Vision and others.