By Paul Casey
Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound collects music from many musical outfits that helped shape the sound of the title. While the title is a nod to the importance of that miniature-sized and prodigiously talented man, the collection assembled by Numero Group has a broader interest. This is a work of love and commitment. It is a history lesson for those who think great artists are created in a vacuum. Everybody who has sat back and had a sob over the genius of Prince, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, or Alexander O’Neal and assumed they came out fully formed, should have a listen to this compilation.
Sebastien Grainger’s first album post-Death From Above 1979 included a band called The Mountains and established a distinctive musical style far removed from his work with Jesse F. Keeler (review). Five years later, Grainger has something new to offer—this time without The Mountains—and he’s expanded his palette considerably, while still retaining some of what made that first solo debut so compelling.
There’s a lot to be said about the decidedly bizarre time capsule that is Saâda Bonaire. They weren’t so much a band as an experiment, but one that definitely pays off.
In 1982, Bremen DJ Ralf Behrendt, a.k.a. Ralf von Richthofen, embarked on a musical project that he hoped would replicate something akin to the influence Caribbean and Indian music was having on British pop. Behrendt had an exposure to and fascination with Turkish music due to his work in the German government’s immigration department. He enlisted local Turkish and Kurdish musicians, as well as his then-girlfriend Stephanie Lange and her friend Claudia Hossfeld (who both wrote the songs), to create Saâda Bonaire.
Thirteen tracks were recorded for EMI in Kraftwerk’s Studio N with producer Dennis Bovell, including “You Could Be More As You Are” as the intended single. But then, it all hit a snag.
“Happy loving couples make it look so easy/Happy loving couples always talk so kind.”
—Joe Jackson, “Happy Loving Couples”
When Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer got together, it seemed to be the perfect pairing, a gentle collision of geek-o-spheres, the kind of thing the word “adorkable” was coined for. Witness the reserved writer and the flamboyant cabaret singer gliding around the world, about three feet off the ground, being fabulous and sweetening up Twitter with their frequent declarations of love for each other.
That’s cool, if you like shit like that.
Some people don’t like to see happy couples. I understand that. I used to be that way. But it takes a lot of work to be bitter all the time. I enjoy that dynamic now, that chemistry. It’s nice to be around people who enjoy being together, not taking caustic pot shots at each other and gleefully wishing for the other’s slow painful death.
The Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation has an important mission: to look at Jewish history and the Jewish experience through recorded sound. Their motto: History sounds different when you know where to start listening. With their two CD set It’s A Scream How Levine Does The Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story 1940s-1980s, they have created an important document that explores the connection between Jewish and Latin music. With vast liner notes, essays, archival photos and ephemera, it is a fascinating compilation.
It’s A Scream How Levine Does The Rhumba is surprisingly varied despite its narrow scope. There are Latin artists doing Jewish songs and Jewish artists embracing Latin beats. There are novelty songs from the early 20th century, disco beats, straight-up funk, and blazing salsa tunes.
As a big disco fan, I’m ashamed to admit that Sylvester is not a name I mention when discussing my favorite tunes of the genre. “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Do You Wanna Funk” are two of Sylvester’s biggest hits and besides being fantastic tracks, have another thing in common. They were both composed and produced by Patrick Cowely.
Ty Segall gets a lot of—admittedly deserved—attention. But what of his constant cohorts? Segall’s latest project, Fuzz, includes two of them and it’s killer. Fuzz is comprised of Roland Cosio (drummer for Epsilons) on bass and Charles Moothart on guitar (The Moonhearts and live guitarist for Segall) and what’s this? Ty Segall on drums and vocals. Aw yeah.
Brooklyn’s Sleepies are back with a new EP and it’s a good one. Though not as sonically varied as last year’s full-length Weird Wild World album (review), it does establish a definitive sound for the band, giving us even more to look forward to with their next release.
Cate Le Bon’s newest release, Mug Museum, is like something out of a fever dream. A wild mish mash of instrumental slashes and dips, coupled with Welsh native Le Bon’s unusual, beguiling voice and curious phrasing, Mug Museum is challenging listening.
The re-issue of these four albums is part of a seven-album Nikki Sudden oeuvre re-issue from Numero Group. This, the first part, consists of the first two Nikki Sudden solo albums (Waiting on Egypt, Bible Belt), and the first two Jacobites albums, (Jacobites, Robespierre’s Velvet Basement). Together, they give an overview of Nikki Sudden’s work directly after Swell Maps.