Tag: Fela Kuti

New Audio: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 Team Up with The Legendary Carlos Santana on a Funky and Powerful New Single

Lagos, Nigeria-born and-raised multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and singer/songwriter Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary and controversial Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. And as the story goes when Seun was nine, he expressed a desire to perform with his father — and within a short time, Seun started performing with his father’s backing band Egypt 80. Much like his older brother, Femi, Seun Kuti has followed the political and social ethos of his late father, continuing to push their father’s pro-Black, pan-African/pan-African Diaspora, anti-colonialist, sociopolitical messages to wider, international audiences. Oddly enough, during Fela’s life, he was in many ways the bane of the Nigerian political establishment, as he bravely called out the hypocrisy, inequality, inequity, corruption and brutality that they and their fellow countrymen faced on a daily basis — while pointing out that corruption and brutality is always the same.

However, with increasing international attention on both Fela and his sons over the past 20 years, the Kutis have managed to walk a careful tightrope of siding with the little guy and courageous speaking truth to power at all costs, including risk of life and limb while also becoming unofficial ambassadors to Nigeria, their proud and beautiful people and their culture. Around the time, I started this site, I caught Femi Kuti and Positive Force at Irving Plaza and there was a proud contingency of Nigerians, who spoke of Femi and his father with proud, reverential terms, at one point referring to Femi as “Professor!” “Speak Professor, Speak!” They would exclaim whenever Femi would say something that resonated with them. In some way, I was reminded of how older Jamaicans speak of Bob Marley.

Fela died in 1997 when Femi was 35 and Seun was just 14. Almost immediately upon his father’s death, Seun took over the frontperson duties of his father’s legendary backing band, a band that features members of his father’s backing bands Afrika ’70 and Egypt 80 — many of whom were with Fela, when he was speaking out about the Nigerian government at a time, when doing so could mean risking jail, brutal beatings an/or death. And interestingly enough, Seun’s 2008 debut effort Many Things was produced by Martin Meissonnier, who produced two of Fela’s albums.

Now, as you may know live, Seun Kuti has developed a reputation for sets being a fair mix of his own original material, along with covers of his father’s material, and because his father rarely (if ever) performed songs he recorded in the studio live, Seun covering his father’s material is often seen as an opportunity for fans to hear songs like “Water Get No Enemy,” “Shuffering and Shmiling,” “Colonial Mentality” and “Army Arrangement” live — and with a dynamism that rivals that of his late father.

Seun Kuti’s fourth album with Egypt 80, Black Times is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through British label Strut Records, and the new album reportedly finds Seun and company honoring the revolutionaries who have come and gone before while being a much needed rallying cry for the torchbearers to come. And to further emphasize that theme, the album finds Seun and the legendary Egypt 80 collaborating with a list of acclaimed musicians and artists, including Carlos Santana and Robert Glasper, among others. As Seun Kuti explains in press notes, “Black Times is a true reflection of my political and social beliefs. It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together. The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg.”

The funky yet blistering album title track and first single “Black Times” features the imitable guitar work of Carlos Santana in a song that’s meant to shine a black light on society, exposing its rot, immorality and hypocrisy while pointing out the need for Black folk all over the world to band together and demand justice and inequality for all people. But beyond that it suggests that everyone needs to take a serious look at themselves and their world in order to truly begin to change it — and while it may be hard work, it’s necessary work to make the world better.

Comprised of Xanthous Papanikolaou (vocals, guitar), Bill Tzelepis (guitar), John Vulgaris (drums), Panos Papanikolaou (keys) and Aris Rammos (bass), the Athens, Greece-based garage rock/psych rock act Bazooka initially formed in Volos, Greece back in 2008. As the story goes, within their first year together, they relocated to Athens to pick up live gigs, and while the country and its capital city were in the midst of one of the most severe economic downturns in recent memory, the members of Bazooka, along with acts like Acid Baby Jesus, Gay Anniversary and A Victim of Society became pioneers of a burgeoning, attention grabbing DIY scene that played in squats across the city. But interestingly enough, Bazooka had set themselves apart for being one of the more primal and savage of the entire Athens scene.

Their 2013 full-length debut was released through Slovenly Records, and the Greek garage psych rockers followed that up with two 7 inch EPs — Shame my Brain and I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School, and their 2016 sophomore, full-length effort Useless Generation. And adding to a growing international profile, the band has toured throughout the European Union and the US.

Their latest effort, the 12 inch EP Zougla (Jungle) was recently released through Inner Ear Records, and the effort finds the band expanding upon their sound while retaining the power and impetuosity of their sound — and emphasizing Greek verse. The EP’s first single and title track features blistering guitar, propulsive polyrhythm, complete with congas and cowbell, wild animal noises and howled vocals to create a primal and furious song that nods at Thee Oh Sees, Fela Kuti and Here Lies Man, complete with a driving and forceful groove; but they manage to pair that with a fuzzy, lysergic vibe that makes their sound and approach incredibly nuanced and wildly anachronistic as though it could have been released in 1963 or — well, last week.

New Audio: Here Lies Man Releases a Psych Rock Cover of Fela Kuti’s “Sorrow Tears and Blood”

With the release of their self-titled full-length debut earlier this year, the Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man founded by Marcos Garcia, who was a member of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas and featuring fellow Antibalas bandmates Chico Mann (guitar, vocals) and Geoff Mann (drums), along with Rich Panta (percussion), JP Maramba (bass) and Kris Casto (organ), have developed a reputation for a sound that seamlessly bridges classic, Fela Kuti-era Afrobeat with classic, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era rock. 

Building upon a growing national profile, the band will be releasing a 12 inch EP Animal Noises, which is slated for release on Friday through RidingEasy Records, and the EP’s first single is a psych rock cover of Fela Kuti’s “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” that manages to retain the song’s melody and furious outrage while turning into an blistering, arena rock-friendly jam. 

New Video: The Genre-Blurring, Global Sound and Visuals of French Experimental Pop Act Aquaserge

Featuring members of Tame Impala, Stereolab, Acid Mothers Temple and Melody’s Echo Chamber, the French act Aquaserge formed back in 2005 as way for its members to explore and experiment with Kraut rock, prog rock, free jazz and French pop in a similar fashion to Serge Gainsbourg, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys and others. And as you’ll hear on “Tour du Monde,” the latest single off the act’s recently released full-length debut, Laisse ça être, the act specializes in a mischievously weird, kaleidoscopic, genre-blurring sound that draws from jazz, Afropop, psych rock, free jazz, jazz fusion and pop — and they do so with a swaggering, strutting funkiness that would make Fela Kuti and George Clinton very proud.

Produced by filmmakers Amanda Robles and Matthieu Salabara, dear friends of the band, the video consists of the band’s personal collection of postcards being shot in a single take with the intention being a good luck message — or in other words, being a wishful hope that the song may get them to travel around the world to play their music. And interestingly enough, the song’s lyric manages to nod at a similar theme, as they roughly say “If you’re walking in your own footprints, you must’ve walked around the earth.”

New Video: Live Footage of Preservation Hall Jazz Captures the Explosive and Ebullient Energy of Their Latest Single “Santiago”

Allan Jaffe founded Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 1961 with a vital and critical mission: promoting and preserving New Orleans‘ jazz and its jazz culture with the authenticity that it deserved. And although most of the act’s first lineup is no longer with us, the act has continued on its mission with a variety of different lineups, recording over 30 studio albums, a live album, and a touring schedule that has included collaborating with a number of renowned popular acts at festivals and concerts, helping to introduce and re-popularize the New Orleans jazz sound to concertgoers and music fans across the world.

With the act celebrating its 50th anniversary earlier this decade, the milestone left its current creative director Ben Jaffe, the son of the act’s legendary and beloved founder, and its current members with a couple of deeply existential and important questions: First, how does an institution based on early 20th century musical culture survive and prosper in the early 21st century? And second, how do they do that while continuing to preserve and honor New Orleans’ musical culture and sound? Interestingly, the answer Jaffe and company came up with was that they needed to reinvent themselves and their sound by looking at the future, but with a loving and kind gaze at what inspired and influenced them, and at their previous history. Or in other words, with the band’s first 50 years being focused on the sounds and styles of the past, Jaffe and company felt it was necessary to make the institution’s next 50 years about how they can modernize without forgetting or losing the vital connection to the past.

Jaffe and the members of the band decided that the best way to look towards the future would be to write and record new, original material — including the band’s first album of originals, the boisterous and joyous That’s It!, which included album title track “That’s It,” “Dear Lord (Give Me The Strength)” and “Rattling Bones” among others. April 21, 2017 will mark the release of the Dave Sitek-produced So It Is, the septet’s second album of original material — and the album’s material finds the band mining fresh influences, including their 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. As the band’s leader, arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Jaffe explains in press notes, “In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face-to-face with our musical counterparts. There’s been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one — we’re family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it’s part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.”

Featuring compositions and songs largely penned by Jaffe and 84 year-old saxophonist and clarinetist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the members of the band, the material ties the New Orleans jazz sound to the larger African Diaspora, in particular with the Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Cuban sound through the common sonic and aesthetic linkages — in particular Fela Kuti, Pharaoh Sanders and John Coltrane. Of course, the material also draws from the continuing post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans that has forced all locally-based artists to consider what the city’s sound and culture means and should be in 2017 and onwards. And lastly, the material draws from their collaborations with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, The Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and The Black Keys.

As I mentioned earlier, Dave Sitek was enlisted to produce So It is. Sitek, best known as a founding member of TV on the Radio and a go-to producer, who has worked with Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold and others, also offered a modern perspective and a profound respect for the band’s history. In fact, as Sitek recalls upon his arrival in New Orleans to meet Jaffe and the members of the septet, he and Jaffe had randomly stumbled into one of the second-line parades, which New Orleans has long been known for. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediately,” Sitek said in press notes. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.”

“Santiago,” So It Is’ first single bares a clear resemblance to the material on its predecessor as it possesses a boisterous, riotous joy; but unlike any of their previously released material, the composition is a difficult to pigeonhole melange of influences and sounds that features a propulsive rhythm section that seemingly draws from Cuban son, meringue and salsa, Afrobeat, and big band jazz paired with a bold, bright, swaggering horn lines familiar to New Orleans brass band and jazz. Interestingly, the composition possesses a loose and completely improvisational feel, as the musicians in the band catch a groove and ride it; but there’s also enough room for the members of the band to play strutting and swaggering solos. Simply put the band and this particular composition radiate an indefatigable joy — and if you don’t immediately start to dance as soon as you hear it, there’s something deeply wrong with you.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while. you’d know that I have a profound love of the New Orleans sound, have written about the legendary Preservation Jazz Hall Band and have even caught them live a couple of years back, when they stopped at Brooklyn Bowl for an incredibly fun Christmastime show. The recently released video for “Santiago” captures the band at their best — live. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the video captures the song’s explosive and swaggering energy; but it should remind you that jazz while jazz over the past 50 or 60 years has been reduced to “classy” establishments, jazz has long been the sound of rebellion, of ebullient and frenetic joy, of passionate, seductive danger.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months — say, the past two or three months roughly, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts covering the Los Angeles, CA-based Afrobeat act Here Lies Man. Founded by Marcos Garcia, a former member of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas as a way to bridge the funky polyrhythms and grooves of Afrobeat and the muscular, power chord, riff-based sound of heavy rock and heavy psych, the act which features Geoff Mann (drums), the son of famed jazz musician Herbie Mann and a former member of Antibalas, along with Rich Panta (percussion), JP Maramba (bass), Kris Casto (organ) and contributions from a list of collaborators and friends, the collective have come up with a global and incredibly novel take on both Afrobeat and heavy psych/heavy rock. And in fact, as Garcia explained in press notes, about the band’s sound, “These repetitive guitar figures that happen in Afrobeat music are pretty close to heavy rock guitar riffs.  It’s based on the clave. It’s the musical algorithm that the rhythms revolve around. That’s what gives it integrity and is part of this musical conversation going on. I knew I wanted it to be psychedelic and heavy, and I wanted to be expanding on a musical tradition than pretending to be creating something new.”

The collective’s self-titled full-length debut is slated for an April 7, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records and the album’s first two singles “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” and “When I Come To” manage to establish the collective’s sound as simultaneously drawing from Black Sabbath and I.T.T. (International Thief Thief) Parts 1 and 2“-era Fela Kuti — and while the album’s third and latest single “Here Lies Man” continues in a similar vein, the track also may be the most stoner rock/hard pysch rock-leaning song of the album so far, almost sounding as though it could have been included on RidingEasy Records’ and Permanent Records‘ fantastic Brown Acid compilations but funkier and more percussive.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d know that members of the Philadelphia, PA-based heavy psych act Ecstatic Vision, currently comprised of Doug Sabolik, Michael Field Connor, Jordan Crouse, and Kevin Nickles initially formed in 2013 to primarily play “what they wanted to hear.” And with the release of their 2015 debut effort, Sonic Praise, an effort that drew from a wild variety of influences including Krautrock, Fela KutiSun RaHawkwind Aphrodite’s Child, Olatunji, Can, and early Amon Duul ll and for primal, psychedelic and intense live sets. Adding to a growing profile, the band toured with an impressive list of internationally renowned acts including Enslaved, YOB and Uncle Acid and The Dead Beats, Earthless, Red Fang, Acid King and others, and followed that with a lengthy European tour that included dates with Bang and Pentagram, as well as a set at the Roadburn Festival.

The Philadelphia-based hard psych band’s much-anticipated, sophomore follow up,  Raw Rock Fury is slated for an April 7, 2017 release through Relapse Records and as the band explained of the album in press notes, “With Raw Rock Fury, we set up to make an album that would remind listeners  of what an unpolished, dangerous rock recording should sound like.” And the album’s first single, “You Got It (Or You Don’t),” which I wrote about last night, is as the band described it as a “searing mash-up of the driving rhythms of Sly and the Family Stone mixed with the sound of Hawkwind playing Funhouse-era Troglodyte Rock.” And in many ways, the new single revealed a wild sense of unpredictability and danger that most contemporary rock sorely lacks. The album’s latest single “The Electric Step” manages to mesh the trippy, cosmic, stoner rock vibe of their debut with a swaggering, raw, unbridled and improvised energy as the band pairs blistering guitar work with guitar chords played through layers and layers of effects pedals, a forceful, propulsive rhythm and howled vocals to create what may be the band’s most explosive, insistent and primal stomp yet.