Tag: Minneapolis

Congolese-born, Minneapolis, MN-based guitarist, singer/songwriter and composer Siama Matuzungidi has had a lengthy, decades long prolific career that began in earnest when he left his home in rural Democratic Republic of the Congo, then Zaire with a guitar strapped to his back. He then travelled to Kinshasa and Uganda before eventually landing in Nairobi, Kenya. And during those travels a young Matuzungidi was a studio musician, songwriter and or cowriter with some of soukous’ biggest and brightest names including Kanda Bongo Man, Sam Mangwana, Moni Mambo with Shika Shika, Lovy Longomba, Tshala Muana and Samba Mapangala with Virunga; in fact, Matuzungidi has played on more than 100 singles, including some of soukous’ most beloved radio hits while developing a reputation for material based around tales of love, desire and betrayal paired with catchy hooks and a wry and ironic sense of humor — although on many of those songs he wasn’t officially credited.


As a result of his prolific songwriting and incredible guitar work, Matuzungidi became considered one of soukous’ legends — and in a highly competitive genre in which writing catchy song just wasn’t enough to stay relevant. During the genre’s golden age during the 70s and 8os, it took more than writing a catchy song to keep listeners ears and fans buying albums, and the genre’s songwriters and musicians began writing songs with a deeper complexity and nuance, so you’d hear intricate hooks, complex scales an more. And interestingly enough, that period of experimentation may arguably have prepared and influenced the Congolese soukous legend’s future interest in experimenting with his sound.

Now as the story goes, after spending time performing in Japan and Dubai, Matuzungidi relocated to Minneapolis, the soukous legend quickly realized that he was in for a rather big professional and personal change — “for the first time there wasn’t anyone to play soukous with. I was worried I might have to stop playing but another voice told me to try new things,” Matuzungidi explains in press notes. So the Congolese singer/songwriter and guitarist decided to invite a number of local and locally-based emigre musicians to collaborate with him including Carnatic Indian singer and veena virtuoso Nirmala Rajasekar, renowned gospel singer JD Steele, master Tibetan multi-instrumentalist Tenzen Ngawang, classical cellist Jacqueline Ultan and Joe Savage on pedal steel. As Matuzungidi continues “I invited musicians to share what they feel when they hear my music. I didn’t tell them what to play. I just encouraged them to express themselves in their own way. The music still sounds like home but they’ve added so many cool ideas to it.”

And as a result Matuzungidi’s recently released full-length Rivers is a bit of a modern and highly global take on traditional Congolese music. I have the unique privilege of premiering Rivers‘ opening single, the upbeat 6/8 “Jungle Zombie” which pairs a twisting and looping guitar line with bright blasts of horn, playful polyrhythm and a jazz-leaning bridge in a loose composition that allows room for each of the musicians a few brilliant moments to show off in a brilliant solos, along with call and response vocals. Reportedly, the song is loosely inspired by and is meant to channel the imagery of Matuzungidi and his family walking through the bush to get to their farm, where they grew their own food. Interestingly, as the press notes mention the song’s lyrics translated from Lingala simply say “Bring me water. Bring me food . . ” But the main thing is that the song is so joyous, so fun that you can’t help but want to dance along.








Initially formed as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name of Urban Atmosphere, almost 20 years ago, the Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere have a long-held reputation for having an indefatigable commitment to relentless touring and for 8 critically and commercially successful albums that have pushed the boundaries of what indie hip-hop should sound like, released through renowned indie hip-hop label, Rhymesayers Records. Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM for a while, you might recall that I’ve written about Atmosphere a couple of times in the past — in particular about the release of the “Ear Blaster” video off their long lost Headshots crew compilation and the Pete Rock and CL SmoothThey Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” channeling single “My Best Half,” written and dedicated to Slug’s wife and to hip-hop in general.

Atmosphere’s latest single “Salma Hayek” channels swaggering boom bap and G funk era hip-hop as tweeter and woofer rattling beats and low end are paired with twisting and turning synths and a dope emcee full of braggadocio spitting dope rhymes with tons of pop culture references and incredibly adept inner and out rhyme schemes — including a reference to Herbie Hancock‘s “Rockit” among others. But more important, it should serve as a powerful reminder that real hip hop — real emcees spitting fire over dope beats is still important and still can be found if you make a true effort to find it.





Tour Dates

2.29 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues – Tickets
3.01 – Lubbock, TX @ Wild West – Tickets
3.02 – El Paso, TX @ Tricky Falls – Tickets
3.03 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s – Tickets

Atmosphere is also playing the following upcoming festivals and headlining show:

3.17 – Chandler, AZ @ Pot of Gold Festival – Tickets
5.27 – Monterey, CA @ Cali Roots Festival – Tickets
6.04 – San Bernardino, CA @ Blaze N Glory Festival – Tickets
9.02 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks (Headlining) – Tickets














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.



Formed by founding member and siblings Neil and Martha Weil, the Minneapolis, MN-based indie rock act The Chambermaids have gone through a number of lineup changes in their history. When the band’s newest members Ollie Moltaji and Max Schramm were recruited, the members of the new lineup felt an immediate chemistry. And as the story goes, rather than playing a number of live gigs or setting up an extensive tour, the members of the band immediately went into the studio to work on new material, integrating Neil Weir’s studio, Old Blackberry Way into their songwriting process. Naturally some songs came together quickly while others wound up reinventing themselves with the result being a dreamy yet subtly expansive take on reverb-heavy minimalism.

Although the band is putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming and yet untitled new album, which will be released through Old Blackberry Way/Guilt Ridden Pop Records, the album’s first single “Tall Trees” is a slow-burning, dreamy and reverb-filled bit of shoegaze-leaning material that feels and sounds as though it were inspired by The Verve‘s  A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul — in particular, “Already There” and “Stormy Clouds.”



Comprised of a group of high school classmates and friends, the Hershey, PA-based quartet The Ocean Blue quickly rose to national prominence with the critically applauded release of their debut effort through Sire Records back in 1989 — and of course, that also meant major radio and MTV airplay. The quartet went on to release two more well-received records through Sire, Cerulean and Beneath the Rhythm and Sound and a fourth album See the Ocean Blue through Mercury/PolyGram before leaving the major label game in the late 90s, which arguably made them one of the earliest and better known acts to do so.

In the 2000s (and that phrase just looks and sounds utterly doesn’t strange doesn’t it?), the band released several independent releases including Davy Jones Locker and Waterworks before going on a lengthy hiatus, which ended with the 2013 release of Ultramarine through Korda Records, a Minneapolis-based (where the band  cooperative label that the band helped launch.

Recently, the band re-issued their first three Sire Records releases on vinyl — for the first time in over 20 years — and to celebrate the occasion the band played a small handful of special shows playing material from those albums live, to celebrate the occasion.  And from what I hear, the band is working on a full-length of new material, slated for release sometime next year.

But in the meantime, the band shared a lost and previously unreleased single from the Sire Records days, “City Traffic” which consists of shimmering guitar chords played through gentle layers of reverb, soaring organ chords, propulsive drumming and plaintive vocals in a song that sounds as though it possesses elements of The Smiths and 120 Minutes-era alternative rock thanks to its anthemic hooks.

New Video: Bad Bad Hats’ Goofy, Salad Toting Video for “Shame”

Psychic Reader, the debut full-length effort from the Minneapolis, MN-based trio Bad Bad Hats has received quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere, since its July release through Afternoon Records. The album’s first single “Shame”  is comprised of angular […]

New Audio: Carroll’s Dreamy, Shoegaze Rock-based New Single “Green Acres”

Comprised of Brian Harlow (vocals), Charlie Rudoy (drums), Max Kulicke (guitar) and Charles McClung (bass), the Minneapolis, MN-based quartet Carroll can trace their origins to when its founding members and college classmates Harlow and Rudoy decided to move in together in […]