Tag: Lenny Kravitz

Throwback: Black History Month: Death

Today is February 21, 2021. It’s the 21at day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

etroit-based garage rock/punk rock act Death have one of the most interesting backstories I’ve come across in this site’s 10-plus year history, and it’s worth retelling: Formed by The Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) — in 1971, the band began as an R&B and funk band. But the sibling trio’s lives were transformed after they caught The Who and Alice Cooper in concert. As the story goes, David, the youngest of the sibling trio pushed for a hard rock-like song unbeknownst to them managed to presage punk and post-punk by several years, Of course, a change in sonic direction necessitated a change in band name — to Death, As Bobby Hackney explained in 2010, David’s concept was spinning death from the negative to the positive. “It was a hard sell.”

In 1975, The Hackney Brothers recorded a handful of songs written by David and Bobby at Detroit’s United Sound Studios with engineer Jim Vitti. According to The Hackney Family, Clive Davis funded those recording sessions — but while doing so, repeatedly implored that the band change their name to something much more commercially palatable. The Hackneys refused. Davis pulled his financial support and as a result, the band was left with seven recorded songs instead of the planned for 12. By the following year, the band released an extremely limited release of 500 copies of the “Politicians In My Eyes”/”Keep On Knocking” single, followed by their full-length debut to little fanfare.

By 1977, The Hackneys ended Death and relocated to Burlington, VT where they released two albums of gospel rock as The 4 Movement in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1982, David returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis remained, eventually forming the reggae band Lambsbread. Sadly in 2000, David Hackney died of lung cancer. But reportedly before he died, David Hackney told his older siblings that although they were misunderstood and forgotten in their heyday, history would prove them and their work as Death as truly revolutionary and important — even if it was after his own death. In a serendipitous spin of fortune that seems too good to be true, several years after David’s death, Bobby’s sons stumbled upon the original Death masters hidden away in their parents’ attic. Bobby’s sons were so impressed and innpisred bay what they had heard, that they began covering Death’s material during their own sets — and that helped bring attention to their father’s and uncles’ work together.

Drag City Records, re-released Death’s original recordings in 2009, 35 years after its initial recording and release.The band’s sound which effortlessly meshed elements of reggae, garage rock, porto-punk and metal manages to presage the punk movement by three years — all while being an important musical bridge between Parliament Funkadelic and Bob Marley and Bad Brains, Fishbone, Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, TV on the Radio, Prince and countless others.

Sine the re-release of their demos and full-length debut, the current Death lineup — surviving brothers Bobby (bass, vocals) and Dannis (drums) with Bobbie Duncan (guitar) — have gone on a number of national tours, including making stops across the national festival circuit, winning over new fans with their groundbreaking sound, while further cementing their rightful place in music history.

Punk rock is Black y’all. And being Black is punk as fuck.

DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based band DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects, Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing some of the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.

As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work is generally centered around compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. Williams’ latest project, DJ Williams Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band,Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.

DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s forthcoming effort is a concept effort conceived as a four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for a Fall 2020 release through Color Red Records. Last month, I wrote about EP single “Iron Fist.” The track, which features elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. The EP’s second and latest single “Sunset Trails” is a homage to the black and white Westerns a young Williams used to watch with his father. Centered around shimmering guitar lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, soaring organ chords, an enormous and expressive horn line, the end result is a strutting, hip-hop inspired take on Ennio Morricone/Spaghetti Western soundtracks.

 

 

 

DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based and DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects. Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.

As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work  boasts compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. His latest project, DJ Williams’ Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band, Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including the likes of Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.

DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s newest album, a concept album conceived as the four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for an August 2020 release through Color Red Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Iron Fist” depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. Centered around a looping 12 bar blues like structure, the song features a chugging two-step inducing groove, twinkling and arpeggiated organ blasts, shuffling drumming and an enormous horn line, the track is as swaggering and expansive composition that meshes elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk that feels as though it captures the band’s live show and energy with an uncanny and unerring accuracy.

 

 

 

 

Throughout the bulk of this site’s almost 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Detroit, MI-based proto-punk/punk rock band Death, and as you may recall, the band which featured The Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) — formed back in 1971, and initially they were an R&B and funk-based act  — until The Hackneys caught The Who and Alice Cooper live. As the story goes, after those concerts, David, the youngest of the siblings pushed his two older brothers towards a more hard rock-leaning sound; a sound that interestingly managed to presage punk, post-punk and the Afropunk movement while necessitating a name change. And from that point forwards the band went by Death. As Bobby Hackney famously explained in a 2010 interview that David’s concept was to spin death from the negative to the positive. “It was a hard sell,” Bobby Hackney recalled.

In 1975, the Hackneys went into Detroit’s United Sound Studios with engineer Jim Vitti to record a handful of songs written by David and Bobby, and according to the Hackney family Clive Davis funded the recording sessions; but while doing so, he had repeatedly implored and cajoled the band into changing their name into something more commercially palatable.  David refused, and his brothers while initially okay with a name change went along with their brother’s vision. Davis pulled out his financial investment, leaving the band with seven of the twelve songs they had planned to record. 1976 saw the extremely limited release of the “Politicians In My Eyes”/”Keep On Knocking” single, which was recorded during the United Sound Studios sessions and their full-length, which was released to very little fanfare.

By 1977, the Hackney Brothers decided it was time to end Death, and then relocated to Burlington, VT where they released two gospel rock/Christian rock albums in the late 70s and very early 80s as The 4 Movement. However, by 1982 David Hackney had returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis remained, eventually forming a reggae band Lambsbread. From what I understand there was a point where The Hackney Brothers had discussed reforming Death but unfortunately, David Hackney died of lung cancer in 2000. However, as the two surviving Hackney Brothers claim, David told them shortly before his death that although they were misunderstood and forgotten in their day, history would prove them and their work together as being truly revolutionary — but that it would mostly likely be after his own death. In a wild yet very true spin of serendipitous fortune that seems as though it were written by a screenwriter, Bobby’s sons had stumbled across the original Death masters hidden away in their parents’ attic, several years after David’s death. Bobby’s sons were impressed by their father’s and their uncles’ work that they began covering Death as a loving homage that began to receive attention both nationally and internationally.

As a result of the growing buzz around the band, Drag City Records, re-released Death’s original recordings in 2009, 35 years after its initial recording and release, and from those recordings the material proved David Hackney correct, revealing that Death’s sound and aesthetic managed to be 3 years ahead of the punk revolutionary while simultaneously playing an important role in Black music history, as they managed to fill in the gaps between Parliament Funkadelic, Bad Brains and Fishbone, while presaging the likes of Lenny Kravitz, TV on the Radio, Prince,  Unlocking the Truth and a list of others. Since the re-issue of their early demos and their full-length, Death with its current line up featuring the surviving Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals) and Dannis Hackney (drums) with Bobbie Duncan (guitar), have had a documentary about their incredible story, released new material and spent time touring and playing on the festival circuit, including an incredible Afropunk Festival set, which has introduced the trio, their story and their sound to eager and appreciative new audiences.

Death’s latest single “Give It Back” was originally written by the band’s Bobby Hackney in 1979 and re-recorded last year but interestingly enough, the song concerns itself with persistent and troubling social and environmental issues that he saw almost 40 years ago, from increasing political, racial and social animus and disarray, global warming and the pollution of our water and air, and a growing sense that dreams and hopes you once had have been lies created by larger powers to keep you involved in a sick and demented system that exploits and destroys human lives and the only home we’ll ever know. The overall theme of the song is as you’ll hear in the lyrics “We’ve taken from this world, now it’s time to give it back” suggesting that there’s only one time to get it right, before we fuck it all up royally — and they pair that with a classic, Detroit rock ‘n’ roll groove that immediately brings The Dirtbombs to mind.

 

 

New Video: Catch a Glimpse of The Day-to-Day Life of Colombians in the Visuals for Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s “Bombo Fabrika”

Over the past couple of years of this site’s seven year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a critically applauded Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has seen a rapidly growing national and international profile for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, with his work drawing from Bach, cumbia, 70s funk and soul, hip-hop and the wildly adventurous multiculturalism most familiar to native New Yorkers and New Yorkers. Along with that, Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned that his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s may arguably be one of the biggest influences on his work and his creative process as her rigorous, classical instruction and her painstaking attention to detail. 

Now, as you may recall, Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that began with his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who then invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to the growing attention around him, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and with his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate, JOVM mainstay and personal favorite, Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded withGarzón-Montano’s mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally,  our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.

Of course, unsurprisingly, I’ve written about several singles off the album, including “Crawl,” a single which effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production featuring ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a sharp, swaggering hook; “My Balloon,” a single that continued on a similar vein while tinged with the aching regret of a confusing and uncertain relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are; and “Sour Mango,” a slow-burning and soulful track, which features Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals over a jagged production featuring shuffling beats, twinkling keys, wobbling synths, but underneath the surface, there’s an visceral ache over a love that seems completely unlikely. 

The album’s latest single “Bombo Fabrinka” features a lush and soulful production consisting of shuffling boom-bap-like beats, twinkling keys, and layers of Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals — and while building upon the overall sound of the album, the song reveals an up-and-coming singer/songwriter, who has an uncanny talent for writing a sharp, infectious hook paired with introspective lyrics, based on deeply personal and revealing experiences with love and loss; but interestingly enough as Garzón-Montano explains “‘Bombo Fabrika’ is about the place I go to when I write music. The music is not mine, it flows through me from a source much older and wiser than my body.”

Directed and filmed by Santiago Carrasquilla in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, the recently released music video for “Bombo Fabrinka” is a revealing and cinematically shot glimpse into the day-to-day life of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. And although, the people of the village may be poor, they express a pure joie de vivre that’s absolutely infectious. Garzón-Montano says of the video “Palenque is a magical place — people blasting music and playing drums and singing everywhere — expressing more joy than I’ve seen or felt in my whole life. . . Palenque is famous for originating some styles of Cumbia music. Filming this video in such an energetically potent musical birthplace was an incredible and humbling experience.” 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a critically applauded Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has seen a rapidly growing national and international profile for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, as his work draws from Bach, cumbia, 70s funk and soul and the wildly, adventurous sort of multiculturalism familiar to native New Yorkers. And as Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned, his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s may arguably be one of the biggest influences on his work and his creative process as her rigorous, classical instruction and her painstaking attention to detail, have greatly influenced him and his own creative endeavors.

Now, as you may recall, Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that interestingly enough began with his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who then invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to the growing attention around him, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and with his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate JOVM mainstay and personal favorite, Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded with his mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder’Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally,  our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.

Of course, I’ve written about a couple of singles off the album, including “Crawl,” a single which effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production featuring ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a sharp, swaggering hook; and “My Balloon,” a single that continued on a similar vein while tinged with the aching regret of a confusing and uncertain relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are. And although the song’s narrator seems to proudly suggest that he’ll be glad to move on his with life, there’s a sense that it’s nothing more than wounded pride, and underneath that, he’s aware of the fact that he’ll have to live with the lingering ghosts of what could have been and what should have been with this particular person.

“Sour Mango,” Jardin‘s latest single is slow-burning, swaggering and soulful track which features Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals over a jagged production featuring shuffling beats, twinkling keys, wobbling synths; but just underneath the surface, there’s a vulnerability and ache over a love that would be unlikely; love after all, doesn’t make much sense and it frequently hurts more time than anyone would care to admit.  Recently Seven Davis, Jr. remixed “Sour Mango” and while retaining some elements of the jagged production, there’s a greater emphasis on hot bursts of keys,  some reverb on Garzón-Montano’s vocals and a subtle atmospheric vibe. And while still being a swaggering yet slow-burning song, Seven Days, Jr.’s remix is a subtle yet noticeable take on the song that purposely retains the song’s nuanced emotion.

New Video: The Gorgeous and Mournful Visuals for Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s “My Balloon”

Gabriel Garzón-Montano is a critically applauded, Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has received attention for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, as his work draws from his French-Columbian-American heritage, Bach, cumbia, funk and soul, and the wild, adventurous multiculturalism familiar to a native New Yorker; but arguably one of the biggest influences on his work and his career was his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s. And as Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned, his mother is the main reason he loves music, and her rigorous, classical instruction along with her painstaking attention to detail, managed to influence his own creative process.

Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that interestingly enough began his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded with his mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder‘s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally, our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Jardín’s first single “Crawl,” a single that effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production consisting of ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, and a sharp and swaggering hook are paired with Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals. The album’s second and latest single “My Balloon” continues in a similar vein as twinkling keys, shimmering guitar, a sinuous bass line, glitchy electronics and shuffling beats are paired with Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals — tinged with the aching regret of a confusing relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are. And while the song’s narrator seems to proudly suggest that he’ll move on with his life, there’s a sense that it’s nothing more than hurt pride — and that he knows the lingering possibility of what should have been and what could have been will be a part of his life for some time.

Directed by Santiago Carrasquailla, the recently released music video for “My Balloon” was filmed with a painterly quality on location in Cartagena and Las Islas del Rosario, Colombia. As Garzón-Montano says of the video’s concept, “It’s a series of portraits of a heartbroken couple who are in beautiful places at the wrong time.” And as a result, the video possesses a similar wistful ache for something beautiful that should have been and could have been, if both people weren’t so fucked up.

The Detroit, MI-based proto-punk/punk rock band Death can trace their origins back to when The Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) formed the band back in 1971. Initially, they started out as a R&B and funk-based band — that is until The Hackneys caught The Who and Alice Cooper live. After those concerts, David, the youngest of the siblings pushed his two older brothers towards a much more hard rock-leaning sound, which interestingly enough presaged punk and post-punk and a name change — Death. And as Bobby Hackney explained in 2010, David’s concept was spinning death from the negative to the positive. “It was a hard sell.”

In 1975, the Hackney Brothers with engineer Jim Vitti recorded a handful of songs written by David and Bobby at Detroit’s United Sound Studios. And according to the Hackney family, Clive Davis funded the recording sessions but while doing so, had repeatedly implored that the band change their name to something more commercially palatable. When the Hackney’s refused, Davis pulled out, leaving the band with seven recorded songs instead of the planned for 12. By 1976, the band self released in an extremely limited run of just 500 copies, the “Politicians In My Eyes”/”Keep Obn Knocking” single, recorded from those sessions, followed by their full-length debut with very little fanfare.

By 1977, the Hackneys ended the band, and then relocated to Burlington, VT where they released two alums of gospel rock as The 4 Movement in the late 70s and early 80s. However, by 1982 David had returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis remained and eventually formed the reggae band Lambsbread. In 2000, David Hackney tragically died of lung cancer but reportedly before he had died David Hackney told his older siblings that although they were misunderstood and forgotten in their day, history would prove them and their work as Death as being truly revolutionary — even if it was after his own death. In a wild spin of serendipitous fortune that seems written by a screenwriter, several years after David’s death, Bobby’s sons had stumbled upon the original Death masters hidden away in their parents’ attic. And Bobby’s sons were so impressed by what they heard, that they began covering Death’s material during their own sets as a loving homage that began to receive attention both to them and their father’s and uncles’ work together.

Drag City Records, re-released Death’s original recordings in 2009, 35 years after its initial recording and release, and from those recordings the material managed to not just up hold up, but to reveal an important historical place both for American music history and for Black music history, as their sound, which effortlessly meshed reggae, proto-punk, metal and punk rock managed to presage the punk movement by 3 years while serving as a convincing bridge between Parliament Funkadelic and Bob Marley and Bad Brains, Fishbone, Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, TV on the Radio, Prince and a growing list of contemporary acts that include Unlocking the Truth.

Since the re-release of their demos and full-length debut, the current lineup of Death featuring surviving brothers Bobby (bass, vocals) and Dannis Hackney (drums) with Bobbie Duncan (guitar) have had a documentary about their story, released some new material and spent a lot of time touring and playing some of the country’s largest festivals, including Afropunk Festival, introducing their sound and aesthetic to new audiences.

Death’s latest single “Cease Fire” will continue to cement the band’s growing reputations for pioneering sound that meshes punk, metal, funk and soul while being politically charged and urgent as the song features buzzing and crunching guitar chords and some impressive soloing, soaring synths and propulsive drumming and a sinuous bass line while being politically charged — and in particular, their sound and thematic concerns clearly presages the likes of Living Colour and Fishbone, some 10-15 years before they began playing. As the members of the band explain, their newest single “is a continuation of the social conscious voice that Rock ‘N’ Roll music states to all people. If John Lennon were alive in this world today, we are sure he would echo the same sentiments, because we first have to put the guns down and stop the senseless shooting so we can ‘Give Peace A Chance.'”

 

New Video: The Bright and Playful Visuals for Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s “Crawl”

Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín comes on the heels of a three year period of intense touring, writing and recording. The 2014 release of his debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during that year’s European tour. After playing Wembley Arena, Garzón-Montano received a call notifying him that his song “6 8” would be sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late — and as a result, Garzón-Montano quickly found himself with a rapidly growing international profile, which resulted in tours opening for Glass Animals and his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded with his mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder‘s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. As Garzón-Montano explains in press notes “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky.” But just underneath the surface may arguably be some of the Brooklyn-born-and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instruemtalist’s most politically charged material he’s written to date, as the songs on the album reportedly focus on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America today, the complications and joys of love, and so on.

Jardín’s first single “Crawl” reveals a sound that effortlessly meshes hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop as ambient synths, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line and Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals are wrapped around an infectious, swaggering and carefully crafted hook and slick production.

Directed by Santiago Carrasquilla and Pablo Delcan employs a relatively simple concept — the first half features Garzón-Montano singing and dancing about as neon bright geometric shapes dance and dart about him in a psychedelic fashion and the second half features the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and a drummer performing the last section of the song.