Thursday, January 31, 2008

Joao Bosco- Ronco da Cuica

No more brilliance.

I stumbled upon El Guincho via Eat My Art Out. While I can't decipher the blogger's nonsensical description, I share his enthusiasm for the Spanish artist. El Guincho is clearly drawing inspiration from classic MPB by the likes of Joao Bosco.

"Ronco da Cuica," from 1982, is surreal from beginning to end. It has a Sgt. Pepper-esque introduction, hyperactive percussion effects, seemingly random production and an anticlimactic fade. I'm guessing that the bizarre song first appeared on this out-of-print album. I pulled it from this compilation, which is also out-of-print.

"Ronco da Cuica" still sounds futuristic in this refined all-star session, but it's positively anarchic in this brand new fan footage.

I'm looking forward to seeing this kind of stuff from Kid Koala next week.

Kansas City Click: The Lonely H play tonight at the Record Bar. The teenagers play convincing classic rock. Need proof? Look no further.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

David Murray- Waltz To Heaven

The dance is over.

Who's the best baseball player? Greatest president? I'm not a fan of this pointless parlor game. Even so, when it comes to the subject of best living jazz musician, it'd be impossible not to give David Murray serious consideration. His ability to play inside and outside simultaneously is one of Murray's most remarkable accomplishments. His bass clarinet work on "Waltz To Heaven" is a great example. He's not walking a stylistic fine line; he renders it irrelevant. This sublime brilliance is from the out-of-print 1991 session A Sanctuary Within. He's joined by bassist Tony Overwater, drummer Sunny Murray and Kahil El' Zabar on percussion.

I recently added Masala to my blogroll because I didn't want to miss gems like this. Masala asserts (correctly, I believe) that the song and its accompanying video indicate that the inevitable globalization of pop music has fully arrived. The ditty by IshQ Bector and Sunidhi Chauhan is annoyingly Fergalicious.

Don't miss this incredible story about an arsonist DJ at Austin's KOOP.

Kansas City Click: Wacky There Stands the Glass favorites Coat Party open for Blood On the Wall at the Record Bar tonight.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Adrian Juarez- Ya No Vendra Tu Ombligo a Tomarnos La Congoja

Adrian Juarez- Ya No Vendra Tu Ombligo a Tomarnos La Congoja

It's a good thing I don't consume drugs. The extraordinary Mars Volta concert I reviewed Friday night might have altered my DNA if I hadn't been entirely sober. It was the kind of show that can profoundly impact a person's relationship to music. Accordingly, I was compelled to turn to something entirely new.

I've always been wary of electronic-based music on net labels, but I feel I've uncovered a real jewel in Adrian Juarez. As the Argentine explores a number of styles- tango, dream pop, Cage-ish experimentation and dramatic Morricone-inspired soundscapes- there's no such thing as a representative piece. The haunting composition I feature here feels like a peaceful deathbed reverie.

His MySpace is a good place to beginning exploring Juarez' work, as is this evocative video.

I encountered traditional British vocalist Rachel Unthank on a folk radio show yesterday. What a find! This fan video captures some of the magic.

Kansas City Click: The Louis Neal Big Band plays at the Blue Room tonight.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Steve James- Grain Alcohol


I don't know how I missed the news that blues harpist Gary Primich died last September. He was 49. It seemed that Primich toured constantly in the '90s. Mark Rubin of the Bad Livers remembers Primich here. Rubin, Danny Barnes and Primich join Steve James on the out-of-print American Primitive from 1994. A heartfelt Primich tribute video is here.

Man, I love me some fado. And Cristina Branco makes Nelly Furtado's appearance seem plain.

Kansas City Click: Friday's two biggest shows- B.B. King and the Mars Volta- are sold out. You might try the New Amsterdams at the Record Bar. A fan made a clever video for my favorite song by the band.

I'm recommending saloon singer Frank Cherrito's Saturday gig at the Copa Room because I know his web site will make you smile.

The Caves and Lights & Siren are at McCoy's on Sunday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lena Horne- Get Out of Town


A few days ago a musician told me that he doesn't perform many Cole Porter standards because he prefers songs about "mean women." His point is well taken, but my pal needs to hear the way Lena Horne imbues this Porter love song with a sense of menace. She recorded it in 1958 with Lennie Hayton & His Orchestra. It's from this fine collection. Can't get enough Lena? This trailer for Horne's Stormy Weather is priceless.

Attending .moe's in-store performance last night brought back bad memories. I reminisce about an old job here.

Kansas City post-punk band Flee the Seen have a solid new video.

This Ghostface Killah rant is making the rounds. Believe me, Captain America, I feel your pain.

Kansas City Click: Jeff Black comes home to Knuckleheads tonight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Angaleena Presley- All I Ever Wanted

Angaleena Presley- All I Ever Wanted

It's a good thing for Angaleena Presley that I'm not on the prowl for a new romance. Her MySpace profile describes an ideal woman.

"I'm a real life coal miner's daughter from Beauty, Kentucky. That pretty much explains why I'm in Nashville singing my stories. I love beer, ballet, dirtbikes, The Tao, The Rolling Stones, poetry, music, and God. I worship Loretta Lynn and hope to someday make out with Dolly Parton."

Although she has a publishing deal, it's unbelievable that Presley isn't already making teenage girls forget all about my musical nemesis Taylor Swift. Presley inhabits the sweet spot between Mindy Smith and Gretchen Wilson. "All I Ever Wanted" is one of the better Saturday-night-and-Sunday-morning songs I've encountered, and that niche is one of my specialties.

(Image of artist by this photographer.)

Listen to the new Tender Forever here. I'm a fan of their gentle take on the K Records aesthetic. Video types should start here instead.

Kansas City Click: Dude! moe. is scheduled to play a 7 p.m. in-store Wednesday at the Borders at 123rd and Metcalf.

Monday, January 21, 2008

John Stewart, 1939-2008

Farewell, John.

Even as a clueless kid I knew that there was something different about the man behind the 1979 radio hit "Gold". The presence of Buckingham and Nicks couldn't disguise that the singer's tremulous croak, filled with weary conviction, sprang from a deeper well. John Stewart died Friday.

On this outstanding live album from 1991, Stewart relates that his original lyric to "Daydream Believer" was changed from "now you know how funky I can be" to "now you know how happy I can be" for the Monkees' version. That alteration is an apt summation of his relationship with the popular audience.

This song, also a hit for Rosanne Cash, captures much of what made Stewart distinctive. Inside an epic sweep is a keen eye for intimate detail.

"Blind boys and gamblers/They invented the blues/Will pay up in blood when this marker comes due/To try to get off now is about as insane/As those who wave lanterns at runaway trains."

My notes on two memorial events for the brilliant vocalist Gregory Hickman-Williams are here.

I have newfound respect for Timbaland. For the first fifteen minutes of One Republic's show Saturday night, I was pleased with the Colorado band. The appeal of their varnished reinterpretation of Coldplay and U2 was not lost on me. But the faceless guys lack stagecraft and even a smidgen of soulfulness. They lost me and most of the sold-out room. Timbaland's ability to mine the compelling hit "Apologize" from One Republic's bland sound is a miraculous achievement. Opening act Eric Hutchinson was selling a t-shirt that read "Eric Hutchinson is pretty good." That's about right.

Kansas City Click: Everette DeVan hosts a jam at the Blue Room on Monday night.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Dell Griffiths- The King of Almost

The dream is over.

This post is dedicated to your friends' old bands. You smiled when they gave their band a goofy name, laughed when they wrote a song about your old girlfriend and supported their gigs. They probably sounded as good as the Replacements after a few beers. But unless your pals were extraordinarily lucky or supremely talented, little but warm memories remain. These guys seem to typify that experience. They were merely adequate, or as their song puts it, "The King of Almost."

A publicity firm is trumpeting good news for local label Anodyne Records. The Bellrays are scheduled to release their next album on the label in April.

Kansas City Click: Although I fear that Toubab Krewe may be Phish in African clothing, I'm still intrigued. They're at Crosstown Station tonight.

The legendary Ahmad Jamal visits the Gem Theater on Saturday.

I hope to attend the Gregory Hickman-Williams tribute at Jardine's on Sunday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Original Kilimambogo Stars- Mama Sheria

The music's over.

Like the rest of the world, I've watched the escalating violence in Kenya with horror. While I can't bear to see the terrible images of machete-wielding mobs, I was fascinated by this footage of gorgeous Kenyan reporter Zain Verjee getting struck by a tear gas canister yesterday.

I have yet to visit Africa, but the shimmering pop music from Nairobi makes me feel an affinity for the place. This compilation has long been one of my go-to discs when I need a sudden jolt of infectious joy. The informative liner notes detail the tribal connections of the O.K.B. Stars, but I feel that getting into that area would only reinforce the seemingly petty infighting instigated by the lack of institutional integrity.

Let's hope for the best.

I've been digging Jason Crest and the dozens of other '60s psychedelic rock bands that now stream their forgotten music at MySpace. These groovy guys seem like a wackier version of the Moody Blues.

Kansas City Click: It's unlikely that many people will make the slippery drive to Knuckleheads to catch Hamilton Loomis tonight, but it's almost certain to be a great time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bruton & Price- Sumter's Contribution To Bop

Bop no more.

I won't disparage fans who prefer Hendrix, but the electric guitarist that thrills me most is T-Bone Walker. His jazz-based sound never fails to floor me. This footage serves as a fine example. Sumter Bruton III helped point me to Walker. His guitar work with popular I-35 circuit barroom heroes The Juke Jumpers in the '80s was both tough and elegant. He recorded Swingmasters Revue, a de facto tribute to Walker, in 1994. As I'm not a fan of co-leader Michael H. Price's vocals, an instrumental is featured here.

I'm tempted to drive over to St. Louis on Saturday to catch a fine blues show. Bobby Rush is always fun, but I really want to see if sixteen-year-old Marquise Knox is the real deal.

Kansas City Click: The noirish noise of Mr. Marcos V7 will fill Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club tonight. They'll be there every Wednesday through February.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Abracadabras- Be Still Be Cool

The magic has ended.

One essential fact is getting overlooked amid all the hand-wringing about the format change of Kansas City radio station KYYS. It's still an oldies station. The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin and the Steve Miller Band remain in heavy rotation. But Foghat, Styx, Kansas and Foreigner have been supplanted by the Clash, U2, the Talking Heads and the Dave Matthews Band.

It's going to be a shock for listeners when the station starts playing new music. So they might as well begin with a local act like Abracadabras. As heard on "Be Still Be Cool," the new local band recalls the tough pop of the Kinks, Bowie's glam and R.E.M.'s jangle. They're a natural fit for KYYS' new format.

Besides, it's in the best interest of the station to champion a handful of local bands. As radio veterans know, such symbiotic support affords them ready access to talent for promotions and remote broadcasts.

My review of Friday's concert by Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Sean Kingston and Lil Mama is here.

Curious There Stands the Glass trainspotters should know that one of my resolutions for 2008 is to occasionally feature new MP3-only songs.

Kansas City Click: Ambitious contemporary country duo Vandel-Snook continue their unlikely tour of area eateries tonight at Rancho Grande Cantina in Parkville.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Martinho Da Vila- Cade A Farinha?

No more beauty.

Imagine if you could only listen to one style of music for the remainder of your days on earth. Perhaps you'd opt for modal jazz, today's indie rock, old school hip hop or classic '60s soul. I'd have to give serious consideration to the sounds of Brazil from the 1980s. The music is ecstatically rich, complex and joyous. Martinho Da Vila is a largely overlooked figure; yet work like Batuqueiro is unspeakably gorgeous. Da Vila is obviously smiling throughout this samba- and how could he not? You can see that smile on this delightful clip. And wouldn't it be something to turn on the TV only to see this commercial?

It's a dark day for Kansas City's classic rock crowd. KYYS's impending format change leaves only three locals stations with "More Than a Feeling" in regular rotation. I shouldn't kid around, though- they're playing Ted Nugent's "Wango Tango" as I type these words. Don't tell me that's not awesome. Wait- now it's Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal"! Honestly, I'll miss gems like these.

Kansas City Click: It's Kansas City's first chance to crank that with Soulja Boy tonight at Sprint Center. Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Sean Kingston and Lil Mama are also on the bill.

Bobby Sanabria appears at the Folly Saturday.

How about a taste of inspirational folk-rock by Gwendy Joysen at "The Complaint Free Church" come Sunday morning?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Alejandro Escovedo- 59 Years

No more time.

A distressed friend contacted me yesterday after we both received an emailed announcement of the lineup for the 2008 Wakarusa festival. He was disappointed by the local gala's recycling of headliners from previous years. I countered that any event featuring the Gourds, Ozric Tentacles, Bettye LaVette, the Flaming Lips, the David Grisman Quintet, Blackalicious, Dr. Dog and Alejandro Escovedo gets my approval. Anyone annoyed by the presence of dozens of interchangeable jam bands can ignore their noodling. Besides, Escovedo doesn't come around as often as he once did. Here's a piece from his "theaterwork" By the Hand of the Father. It's not a song; it's dialogue from the stage work. The protagonist of this segment is derided by his daughter in the subsequent piece. Taken as a whole, it's a deeply affecting performance.

Andy Bey was featured on NPR this morning. Here's an extremely odd Bey recording.

Kansas City Click: I'm pleasantly surprised by how vital Dave Mason sounds on the recent live videos he's uploaded on YouTube. He's certain to play "Dear Mr. Fantasy" tonight at the VooDoo.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Phil Perry- You're As Right As Rain


I'm not posting this Phil Perry song just because I'm still mourning the untimely death of Luther Vandross. My abiding affection for the Quiet Storm tradition also represents the musical gulf between myself and the majority of the music blogging community. I simply don't harbor a fetish for skinny white kids with guitars. The derivative nature and obvious cliches of Phil Perry's highly processed sound on My Book of Love serve an invaluable social function (if you know what I mean), while the latest salvo from a Lou Barlow imitator is only likely to further alienate lonely hipsters.

Marah is exempt from my disdain, as they're neither kids nor uniformly skinny. Their new album streams here. When it's not coming across as a smart-aleck version of Bruce Springsteen's The River, it's reminiscent of the kitchen-sink roots-rock of Elvis Costello's King of America. In other words, it's incredible. (Tip via Captain's Dead.)

Ken Nelson has died. (Tip via BGO.)

Kansas City Click: The triple bill of Kansas City Bear Fighters, Deadman Flats and Damn That Sasquatch makes for an unofficial tribute to Split Lip Rayfield tonight at the Record Bar. It'd be a hoot to sit near the door and watch the confused reactions of unsuspecting rockers as they're assaulted by bluegrass.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Slim Whitman- Love Song of the Waterfall

Dried up.

Although I continue to binge on hip hop, the truth is that I've listened to "Love Song of the Waterfall" more than any other song in 2008. And I'm certainly not goofing on the 1954 hit. A lonesome sense of yearning is buoyed by romantic optimism. Artlessly nostalgic? Perhaps. Silly? Almost certainly. Lovable? Most definitely. It's as if all the heartache was magically stripped out of Hank Williams. And it's almost certain that Roy Orbison studied Whitman's epic sweep. There's plenty more where this came from on this outstanding budget-priced collection.

Danny Cox's home caught on fire over the weekend. No one was hurt. (Thanks to BGO and Tony for the tip.)

Merge just leaked "All the Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco," a new song from a February release by the venerable American Music Club. Like so many Mark Eitzel compositions, it speaks directly to me.

Kansas City Click: Their MySpace account claims they sound like "Weezer meets Costello." While Sexy Accident probably won't make anyone forget either act tonight at Jerry's Bait Shop in Lee's Summit, they're sure to provide a decent soundtrack to the football game.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Carlos Vives- Alicia Adorada


I met a charming Colombian couple last week. And because I sometimes just can't help myself, I immediately proceeded to trash their favorite artist. "Juanes is way too commercial for my taste," I whined. I could make the same claim for much of Carlos Vives' catalog. But in 1993 the Colombian star released Clasicos de la Provincia, a universally acclaimed roots album. It's been among my favorites since I bought it at a Houston market on January 24, 1996. My receipt says, appropriately enough, "Le deseamos un feliz prospero and nuevo." (Yes, I save them.) Here's a video of "La Gota Fria," the album's hit. This live version gets the point across even more effectively.

Album sales plunge again. I knew I should have taken that job at the buggy whip factory.

One of Kansas City's best attributes is that it's relatively free of irony. So when a community radio station DJ played Procol Harum's "Whiskey Train" this morning, he wasn't goofing on cowbells. Dude...

Ghosty posted an appropriately dizzying video for "Dumbo Wins Again," a song from their forthcoming album on OxBlood.

Kansas City Click: The Elders will pack the Record Bar Friday and Saturday nights.

John Brewer has the late shift at Jardine's Saturday night.

I rarely recommend shows at O'Dowd's on the Plaza, but Brett Gibson might be the best thing going on Sunday.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lydia Mendoza, 1916-2007


It must have been the holiday commotion. I somehow missed the news that Lydia Mendoza died December 20.

At her commercial peak, Mendoza was the most beloved star in Mexican-American music. I imagine today's equivalent would be Vicente Fernandez. "Aunque Venga Muy Borracho" ("Though I'm Very Drunk") is part of a deeply soulful solo acoustic session recorded in San Antonio in 1979. While it's not representative of the hits she began releasing in 1934, it's a great example of the way she invested her personality into her songs. It also showcases her strong voice and fine guitar work.

I highly recommend La Gloria de Texas, but this set is probably a better place to start.

"You can't find me because I'm lost in the music," Lil Wayne exclaims on "Kush," a ridiculous ode to himself and a certain intoxicant. It's one of five songs on The Leak, a download-only release I acquired a couple days ago. Even tracks like "I'm Me," which are purely statements of self-aggrandizement, are unaccountably compelling. Here's Weezy on his relationship to hip hop: "I'm married to that crazy b**ch- call me Kevin Federline!"

Only when I heard Wilco's "Either Way" sandwiched between selections from Revolver and Pet Sounds on New Year's Eve did I realize that it's one of the most brilliant pop songs of the new millennium.

Kansas City Click: Casey Todd, an excellent songwriter, plays a ritzy restaurant up north tonight.