Category: New Audio

Stockholm, Sweden-based indie act Phogg quickly emerged into the Swedish psych rock scene with the release of last year’s full-length debut Slices, which helped the band establish a sound that’s been compared to Ariel Pink and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. And in their native Sweden, they’ve received airplay on Sweden’s P3, and praise from the likes of HYMN, Nordik Simit and Born Music Online among others.

Now, as you may recall, the Stockholm-based psych rock act’s sophomore album Mofeto: Mashine Adamkosh is slated for a fall release through Ouyee Bayou Reckords, and the album’s first single was the motorik groove-driven “Three Shirts.” The album’s second and latest single is “Pearls,” a mind altering and expansive track that’s one part explosive psych rock freak out and one part melodic and jangling guitar pop held together by a sinuous and propulsive groove. And unlike its predecessor, it may arguably be the most lysergic of their growing catalog to date.

 

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Chicago-based indie act The Hecks formed back in 2012 as a duo featuring founding members Andy Mosiman (guitar, vocals) and Zach Herbert (drums, percussion). Their 2016 self-titled debut was recorded as a duo with guitarist and recording engineer Dave Vetteraino, and by the following year, Vetteraino joined the band as a full-time member.

The band’s forthcoming and long awaited, sophomore album My Star has taken three years to write and record. After recording an early version of the album in 2017, the band started playing live shows with Jeff Grauper (synths, keys). The members of the band found that Graupner’s synth playing added some welcomed heft and swagger to their new material. After reworking and re-arranging much of that material to accommodate their new fourth member, the band decided that it would be scrap the early recordings, eventually rebuilding them to further incorporate Graupner’s skills. And as a result, My Star is reportedly a decided leap forward sonically for the band, as the album’s material draws from Manscape-era Wire, Paisley Park nu-funk, and abstract new wave and art rock.

“So 4 Real,” My Star‘s latest single is a jagged bit of post-punk, centered around a sinuous yet motorik-like groove, squiggling blasts of synths and Mosiman’s plaintive vocals — and while nodding at XTC (“Mayor of Simpleton” specifically comes to mind) and Amoral-era Violens, the track is essentially a swooning and soulful love song that sounds as though it should be the part of the soundtrack of a quirky, 80s rom-com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the course of this year,  I’ve written quite a bit about the St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dallas Green and his acclaimed, commercially successful folk rock/alt country-solo recording project City and Colour. And as you may recall, Green may arguably be one of the most commercially successful Canadian artists of his generation — he’s won 3 Juno Awards, including two Songwriter of the Year Awards — and in Canada he has 3 Double Platinum-certified albums, 1 Platinum-certified album and 1 Gold-certified album.

Slated for an October 11, 2019 release through his newly minted Dine Alone Records imprint, Still Records, Green’s sixth album, the Jacquire King-produced A Pill for Loneliness features the honky tonk-ballad meets towering, anthemic hook-driven shoegazer rock “Astronaut” and the aching and plaintive “Strangers.” The album’s third and latests ingle “Living in Lighting” borrows its title from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and is a gorgeous slow-burn of a song with a cinematic air — and much like its predecessors, the song focuses on a troubled relationship with a sort of novelistic attention to psychological detail of its characters.

Green will be embarking on an extensive North American tour that will feature back-to-back nights in Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. One night in each of those cities will take place in a seated theater, featuring Green playing an intimate solo show with stripped down versions of songs across his catalog with Ben Rogers, the first artist to sign onto Green’s new label.  The second night will feature Green and his touring band playing in general admission rock and indie rock venues with Ruby Waters opening. You can check out the tour dates below.

For this tour, Green has partnered with PLUS1. $1 from every ticket sold in Canada and the States will be donated to charitable foundations — Crisis Text Line here in the States and MusiCounts and Indpsire in Canada. Since launching in 2013, Crisis Text Line has provided free, 24/7 confidential support for those in crisis across the country, exchanging over 100 million messages from folks across the country. If you or someone you know needs help, have them text 741714 in the US to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor.

TOUR DATES
Festival Dates
Aug 17 – Elora, ON @ Riverfest
U.S. Tour Dates
Sep 20 – Tacoma, WA @ WAMU Theatre (w/ ALICE IN CHAINS)
Oct 09 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East**
Oct 10 – Nashville, TN @ James K. Polk Theater (Solo)*
Oct 14 – San Francisco, CA @ Palace of Fine Arts (Solo)*
Oct 15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore**
Oct 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Ace Hotel (Solo)*
Oct 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre**
Oct 21 – Boston, MA @ Royale**
Oct 22 – Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center (Solo)*
Oct 24 – New York City, NY @ Webster Hall**
Oct 25 – New York City, NY @ Town Hall (Solo)*
Canadian Tour Dates
Nov 08 – Victoria, BC @ Save On Foods Memorial Centre^
Nov 09 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum^
Nov 10 – Kelowna, BC @ Prospera Place^
Nov 12 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome^
Nov 13 – Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place^
Nov 15 – Regina, SK @ Brandt Centre^
Nov 16 – Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place^
Nov 19 – Sudbury, ON @ Sudbury Arena^
Nov 22 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena^
Nov 25 – Ottawa, ON @ Canadian Tire Centre^
Nov 26 – Kingston, ON @ Leon’s Centre^
Nov 29 – Halifax, NS @ Scotiabank Centre^
* = w/Ben Rogers
** = w/Ruby Waters
^ = w/Jacob Banks and Ben Rogers

Comprised of Boulder, CO-born siblings Chris Wood (upright bass, electric bass, vocals) and Oliver Wood (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals), and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, the acclaimed folk/roots/Americana act The Wood Brothers can trace the origins of their musical careers back to when Chris and Oliver were children: Their father, a molecular biologist, frequently performed old folk and roots music songs at family gatherings and campfires and their mother, a poet, instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase.  As children and teens, they bonded over a mutual love of bluesmen like Jimmy Reed and Lightinn’ Hopkins; however, as they got older, their musical and professional paths would wildly diverge.

Oliver moved to Atlanta, where he picked up gigs in playing guitar in a number of local cover bands before landing a spot in Tinsley Ellis‘ backing band. As the story goes, at Ellis’ behest Oliver Wood began to sing — and then he founded King Johnson, a hard-touring band that released six albums of blues-tinged R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years of his life. Meanwhile, Chris Wood studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, moved to New York, where in the early 90s he co-founded the critically applauded Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), an act that became one of the stalwarts of the downtown New York jazz and abstract music scenes. After pursuing separate musical careers for the better part of 15 years, Oliver Wood’s King Johnson and Chris Wood’s Martin Medeski & Wood played on the same bill at a show in North Carolina that famously featured Oliver sitting in with his brother’s band. “I realized we should be playing music together,” Chris Wood recalled.

Soon after, the duo recorded a batch of Oliver’s songs, channeling the shared musical heroes of their youth while centered around their own musical strengths — Oliver’s songwriting and Chris’ forward-thinking, adventurous musicianship. A demo landed The Wood Brothers a deal with Blue Note Records, who released their 2006 John Medeski-produced debut, Ways Not To Lose, a critically applauded effort that was Amazon.com‘s editors’ number 1 pick for folk and made NPR’s “Overlooked 11” list.

Building upon a buzz-worthy profile, the act released 2008’s Loaded and 2009’s covers EP, Up Above My Head before moving on to Nashville‘s Southern Ground Artists, who released  2011’s Smoke Ring Halo, 2012’s Live Volume One: Sky High and Live Volume Two: Nail and Tooth, 2013’s Buddy Miller-produced The Muse. Shortly after the release of The Muse, the members of the trio relocated to Nashville, marking the first time that Chris and Oliver Wood have lived in the same city in several decades.

2015’s Paradise was the first album in which all three members of the band shared songwriting credits, as they were all in the same city to work on and refine material. Since then, the act has released another live album, 2017’s Live at the Barn. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you’d recall that I caught the acclaimed trio at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, during their tour to support their sixth, full-length album, the self-produced and recorded One Drop of Truth. And although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with them before the set, they proved their reputation for being one of the best touring bands in contemporary music.

Interestingly, their latest album, Live at the Fillmore, which is slated fora a September 6, 2019 release through Honey Jar Records/Thirty Tigers Records will be the newest edition to an ongoing series of live concert recordings. Recorded over a two night stand at San Francisco’s historic venue, the album finds the band continuing to build upon their reputation for the sort of performances that defy easy categorization — their delivery manages to live at the intersection of arena rock energy and intensity and small theater intimacy while happily blurring the lines between folk, rock, blues, funk, Americana and trailblazing. And in the case of Live at the Fillmore, the album features a career-spanning set that finds the act rising to meet the history of the room — all while showcasing the skills that have won them acclaim. “That room just feels like a classic from the moment you arrive,” Oliver Wood says of the iconic space. “All of our heroes have performed there at one time or another, and it’s really special to be able to walk in their footsteps. It inspires us every we time we get on that stage.”

“The longer we play together, the more we can read each other’s thoughts and anticipate each other’s musical choices, so we’re always evolving and reinventing aspects of our show,” Chris Woods adds. “The venue we’re performing in plays a big part in all of that, too. We made our last live album at Levon Helm’s barn, which is a very small, intimate place, but The Fillmore’s much bigger, and you can really hear that reflected in the scale of these performances.”

Live at the Fillmore‘s latest single “Keep Me Around” is centered around some delicate fingerpicked guitar, a sinuous bass line, the trio’s impeccable harmonizing and a soaring hook. Of course, you hear some amazing musicianship and otherworldly simpatico. And in some way, the song finds the band pushing their sound and approach in the direction of the the free flowing jam-like sound Levon Helm and The Band — but with an arena rock immensity.

The Wood Brothers are currently on tour, bringing their live show to venues across the country. Sadly, they’re not in the New York Metropolitan area but if they’re playing in a city near you, you should catch them. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates

8/16 – Jackson Hole, WY – Jackson Hole Live *
8/17 – Big Sky, MT – Moonlight MusicFest
8/19 – Crystal Bay, NV – Crystal Bay Club Casino
8/20 – San Rafael, CA – Terrapin Crossroads (Sold Out)
8/21 – San Rafael, CA – Terrapin Crossroads (Sold Out)
8/22 – San Jose, CA – City National Civic **
8/24 – Jacksonville, OR – Britt Festival Pavilion **
8/25 – Seattle, WA – Woodland Park Zoo Amphitheatre **
8/27 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House **
8/28 – Salt Lake City, UT – Red Butte Garden **
9/5 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre ^
9/8 – Chattanooga, TN – Moon River Music Festival (Sold Out)
9/21 – East Aurora, NY – Borderland Music and Arts Festival
10/16 – Pensacola FL – Vinyl Music Hall
10/17 – Ponte Vedra, FL – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
10/18 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
10/19 – Greensboro, NC – The Carolina Theatre
10/20 – Black Mountain, NC – Leaf Festival
10/25 – Placerville, CA – Hangtown Music Festival
11/7 – Roanoke, VA – Shaftman Performance Hall ^^
11/8 – Highlands, NC – Highlands Food & Wine Festival ^^
11/9 – Louisville, KY – Headliners Music Hall ^^
11/10 – Cincinnati, OH – Taft Theatre ^^
11/12 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant ^^
11/13 – Kansas City, MO – The Truman ^^
11/14 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue ^^
11/15 – Madison, WI – Barrymore Theatre ^^
11/16 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue ^^
12/3 – Baton Rouge, LA – Manship Theatre ^^^
12/4 – Houston, TX – The Heights Theater ^^^
12/5 – Austin, TX – Paramount Theatre ^^^
12/6 – Dallas, TX – The Kessler Theater ^^^
12/7 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom ^^^
12/9 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown ^^^
2/27 – 3/1 – Punta Cana, DR – Avett Brothers at the Beach

* w/ Upstate
** w/ Colter Wall
^ w/ Fruition + Steep Canyon Rangers
^^ w/ Nicole Atkins
^^^ w/ Katie Pruitt

 

Nick Bryon Campbell is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer, who has played in a number of local bands and has material placed in a number of award-winning indie films and in TV shows like Gossip GirlGreekThe Flash and others. Some time ago, he began experimenting with sound art, making music from nature and exhibiting his work in galleries across the US. With his solo recording project Left Vessel, he has adapted the idea of combining nature with music.

His latest Left Vessel single, the dreamy  “Please Don’t Stop” is a shimmering and gorgeous track that centered around an arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar, drums, twinkling piano, Campbell’s plaintive falsetto and a soaring hook that manages to channel Mazzy Star and 70s AM rock as it reveals a similar, deliberate attention to craft. But interestingly enough, the song as Campbell admits has a dual meaning as it’s one part bitterly ironic and one part a deeply contented sigh: initially, the song’s chorus was started as joke lyric, that he once used to sing to his ex-wife; but the line took a deeper and vibrantly charged meeting when he remarried and his his first child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Audio: Baltimore’s Up-and-Coming Julien Chang Releases a Slow-Burning and Lysergic New Single

Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming, 19-year-old, Baltimore-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and current university student Julien Chang (pronounced Chong). And as you may recall, Chang surprised his peers when he began quietly releasing music during his senior year in high school. Initially only thought of as just a trombone player, the Baltimore-born, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer’s early material found him playing multiple instruments and meshing pop-leaning melodicism, psych rock and jazz fusion-leaning experimentation and improvisation with a sophistication and self-assuredness that belies his relative youth. Those early releases caught the attention of Transgressive Records, the label home of SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma and JOVM mainstay Neon Indian, who will be releasing his forthcoming full-length debut.

“Of The Past,” Chang’s debut single and the first official single off his debut EP was a sleek bit of early 80s-like synth-led funk that’s centered around carefully crafted pop melodicism, a sinuous bass line and plaintive vocals. But I think the most interesting aspect of the song was it revealed a dexterous songwriter and musician, who can effortlessly bounce between funk, jazz and pop within a single song — and in a mesmerizing fashion.  “Butterflies from Monaco,” the forthcoming EP’s second single is a a slow-burning track that finds the Baltimore-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer seamlessly meshing the blues, 50s rock, 60s psych rock and pop — but with a lysergic haze reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles. Interestingly, the song was inspired by the concept of the butterfly effect — and as a result, the song focuses on the interconnectedness of all things. 

Dancing Tongues is a Los Angeles-based indie rock act, comprised of Alex Lavayen and Kevin Modry that can trace their origins to when their previous band broke up.  Shortly after that they relocated to Los Angeles, where they began to write songs inspired by late 70s and early 80s post-punk — in particular The Gun Club, The Cure and Talking Heads. However, their latest single, the brooding and shimmering “Shotgun” finds the band channeling Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen and Starfish-era The Church, complete with shimmering guitars, plaintive vocals and big hooks.

“Relationships and creative endeavors are mercurial journeys that often refuse to acknowledge or cater to the needs of one another,” the duo says in press notes. “‘Shotgun’ is a song about the collision between one’s personal life and their shared life. The story describes the balancing act of keeping a relationship intact while fully committing oneself to creative pursuits.”

 

 

New Audio: Carriers Returns with a Deeply Personal, New Single

Curt Kiser is a Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter, who skipped college and spent the past few years playing in a number of nationally touring bands, and during that same period of time, Kiser has been meticulously crafting his proper debut as a songwriter and solo artist — in step with his own personal development. Kiser started his latest project Carriers back in 2014 and the project found him working with a collection of friends and associates including The National‘s Bryan Devendorf and The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley, who have helped him bring his sound and vision to life. 

Kiser’s Carriers full-length debut  Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Good Eye Records, and the album thematically speaking finds Kiser taking stock of life, death and his relationships — while being grateful for being around another day. “Overall it’s about what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future,” Kiser explains in press notes. “I’ve personally found a lot of peace in just working hard and staying focused on what I’ve got going on, trusting, rather than being consumed with striving. This record process has taught me a lot about patience. Life will continue to teach me to have more. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can. Patience is forever.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album track “Patience” an anthemic and brooding track that sonically brought Springsteen and JOVM mainstays Caveman, while focusing on finding peace and calm in trusting the natural rhythms of life, rather than being consumed with relentless striving; of focusing on the fact that things sometimes happen within their own time and pace. Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else’s latest single, the Dire Straights-like “Another Guy” is a shimmering and brooding bit of pop centered around an uptempo arrangement, a soaring hook and deeply personal, confessional songwriting. 

“When you’re writing a song and in the midst of capturing what is inspiring it, you usually don’t think about anything else but just staying focused on that moment and letting the song appear and become realized. At least, that’s how it happens for me,” Curt Kiser says in a lengthy statement. 

“‘Another Guy’ is a song that I knew I needed to write but I never knew if anyone else would really hear it beyond some close friends and family. It’s a song about a dream I had that holds a lot of weight and significance for me. While trying to tell the story of this one, I’ve had trouble coming up with the right words to do so. How do you explain a spiritual encounter and fully convey what it meant for you?

“I was lifted into the air, saw a statue of Jesus break apart, come to life and we had a conversation. It was pretty weird. I think I’m okay with letting this song speak for itself. It was a dream. It was extremely vivid. It changed my life & my overall outlook of myself and the depths of the supernatural realm. It opened me up to new possibilities and something I had never been shown before while also confirming some things I’ve held as truth.

I know what it means for me and when people hear this song, I hope that you can feel something similar to what I felt while having the encounter and that it changes the atmosphere wherever you are.” 

“All the drum parts were worked out in a series of rehearsals with Curt in an old crumbling factory over the course of one winter,” Bryan Devendorf says of the song’s creation. “I didn’t know it at the time but we were a couple buildings up from a locally important studio where we would eventually record the drums for Carriers the next summer. 

“My first drum teacher, Steve Earle (not the singer-songwriter), had recorded at Ultrasuede many years before with the Afghan Whigs. I was fortunate to get in there too before it closed. Shag carpet, parquet floor, and cedar paneling defined the live room whose centerpiece was the studio’s original name — QCA STUDIOS — emblazoned on wall-mounted shag. Nice, warm, and low lit. 

“Adding to the cosmic ‘circularness’ of the situation, the bassist on the Carriers sessions John Curley, bassist in the Afghan Whigs. It was pretty wild for me there, setting up drums while John set up mics, me thinking back to my early days, seeing Whigs shows and practicing drums in my parent’s basement and suddenly there I was…. 

“‘Another Guy’ like all the Carriers tracks I worked on was a really fun challenge — I really had to work hard to get all the forms down, half bars, etc. Curt, why do you need half bars?!!! 

“The demo version of “Another Guy” was recorded in the control room at Ultrasuede in July of 2015.,” John Curley adds. “It was just Curt playing acoustic guitar and singing. The demo is slower than the version on the record and it has an almost melancholy vibe to it.

“As I remember it, the song began to grow into its current form when we recorded it with Bryan. It became more of a pop song. The tempo picked up and we changed the arrangement somewhat. The bass part I was hearing in my head came together for me when we played it with drums. I really like the tight snare fills that he throws in.

“It was cool to see how the songs on this record evolved from the early demos into what you hear on the record. Curt encouraged everyone involved to contribute something unique and gave us the space to do that.”

Essi is a Brooklyn-based post-punk/industrial duo, comprised of Jessica Ackerley and Rick Daniel. Interestingly enough because both Ackerley and Daniel have backgrounds in noise rock, jazz improvisation and in experimental bands like Gold Dime and Yvette, the duo have a long-held proclivity for unorthodox songwriting and song structures — and for crafting a enormous and layered sound that belies intricate details and painstaking composition choices.

The duo’s forthcoming  Jonathan “Jonny” Schenke-produced album Vital Creatures reportedly finds the duo skirting the edges of genre and genre boundaries while retaining the enormous sound that has been their trademark — all while displaying a deft and appropriate mix of guitar pedals and effects, percussive electronics and vocal distortion. Vital Creatures‘ latest single “Pines and Cones” features rumbling bass, slashing guitar chords, propulsive drumming and peals of feedback within an expansive song structure that finds the band employing elements of prog rock, shoegaze, post-punk, post-rock simultaneously.

 

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Professionally known as Kaleta, Leon Ligan-Majek is a Benin-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and producer, who leads the up-and-coming local, Afro-funk act Kaleta and Super Yamba Band. Although the project is relatively new to the scene, Ligan-Majek can trace his music career back to Lagos, Nigeria, where Ligan-Majek spent his teenaged years playing in local churches. Eventually, the Benin-born, Brooklyn-based signer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and producer caught the attention of renowned juju pioneer King Sunny Ade. “I was at Church when I heard King Sunny Ade sound checking one block away. By the time church service was over Sunny Ade’s gig was in full gear,” Ligan-Majek says of his first encounter with King Sunny Ade. “I infiltrated the gathering, snuck into the front row to watch the show. At the strike of the last note, right before Sunny Ade disappeared I went between him and his body guard and told him point blank my desire to play guitar for his band. He invited me to his house. I went the next day with a cassette containing songs and guitar riffs I wrote with him in mind.”

Kaleta went on to spend several years in King Sunny Ade’s backing band, recording four albums with the Juju pioneer before leaving the band to join Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and Egypt 80. Unsurprisingly, the Benin-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer learned how to fuse elements from an electric array of West African genres and styles — including highlife, juju, Afrobeat, Afro-funk and Afro-dance.

In 1991, Ligan-Majek relocated from Lagos to New York after Fela Kuti and Egypt 80  completed the North American leg of their world tour. And almost as soon as he set foot in New York, he wound up being the co-founder of two Afrobeat ensembles, Akoya Afrobeat and Zozo Afrobeat — and as a member those acts, he had shared stages with the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Yellowman, and Lauryn Hill. “Lauryn Hill was rehearsing in the same music complex when she heard my music from another room,” Kaleta recalls. “She stormed into Zozo Afrobeat’s rehearsal, and two weeks later, I was on tour with her playing guitar and traditional Beninese percussion. . . we performed about 45 dates all over the world.”

While Ligan-Majek’s chops suited him well to back some of biggest names in music, he had an irresistible drive to create his own unique work. He searched for a band of his own but he knew that he needed a perfect combination  — an irrefutable explosion of creative energy that came from a dedicated, like-minded group of musicians. Interestingly, Ligan-Majek credits his ambition and his vision to his older brother’s massive influence. Ligan-Ozavino Pascal was an obsessive music listener, with a passion for funk and soul. And as the story goes, Ligan-Ozavino Pascal occasionally weaponized his record collection to teach his younger brother discipline. When Kaleta misbehaved, his older brother would lock him in his room with a pile of records. The price of his freedom? A careful listen. “I had to submit to his huge love for music,” says Kaleta. “He introduced me to James Brown, Otis Redding, and other American, French and Cuban music.”

The Brooklyn-based Super Yamba Band, comprised of Daniel Yount (drums), Evan Frierson (percussion), Walter Fancourt (sax), Sean Smith (trumpet) have long been students and devoted fans of vintage West African, psychedelic Afro-funk. When they met Kaleta, who sang and played guitar over roots-rhythms while bbringing his infectious style to the project, things clicked. “I loved the way they stick together as a team,” says Kaleta. “Their exuberance. Their love for African music, notably Benin funk… I found out they were listening to my idols, too.” Between the members of the project, it became obvious that they stumbled upon something rare, exciting and in need of further cultivation and exploration. The members of Super Yamba Band had the skill and dedication that Kaleta had long sought for his solo work — and in turn, Kaleta brought the heard-earned wisdom from four decades as a professional musician that he was eager to share with bandmates. 

Since their formation, the band has spent the past couple of years honing their material and playing live shows across town and elsewhere, including an opening set last year for Niger-based Afro funk/Afro pop act Tal National and an appearance at last year’s Barbes and Electric Cowbell Records Secret Planet APAP Showcase. Interestingly, the band’s “Mr. Diva” was remastered and re-released earlier this year — and as the story goes, the band was so encouraged by the success at recreating their live sound in the studio, that they set out to record what would eventually become their forthcoming full-length debut Medaho.

 

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Ubiquity Records, Kaleta and Super Yamba Band’s full-length debut derives its name from the Goun and Fon word for “big brother,” “elder,””teacher” — and the album is dedicated to the memory of Kaleta’s brother Ligan-Ozavino, who died earlier this year. Sonically, the material finds the band unabashedly paying homage to its massive influences, including James Brown, Fela Kuti, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, El Rego, The Funkees, among others — but interpreting their work, learning from it, deconstructing it when necessary, amplifying it, defying it and pushing it and the sound into the future.

Mèdaho‘s first single is album title track “Mèdaho.” Centered around a looping, wah-wah and other pedal effected guitar lines, a sinuous groove, propulsive percussion and Kaleta’s grunts and howls, the song manages to recall He Miss Road/Expensive Shit-era Fela Kuti, The Payback-era James Brown, as it possesses a similar grit and forcefulness — but unlike the period specific work that has influenced the track features a lysergic haze.