Much like the dancefloor anthem Aretha Franklin hit âPride (A Deeper Love)â singer-songwriter Chris Willisâ âMy Freedomâ should be bumping the queerlings and disco bunnies if there is any justice in the world. With pimped-out RnB hooks and his passionate soaring diva-esque vocals you will feel the freedom sweeping over you from the Gospel-influenced and pop-loving performer. With break-out mixes by DJ Craig and frequent collaborator French electro-house DJ/producer David Guetta I hope to see this inspirational artistâ work added to the Pride circuit soon.
Regan Paquhar aka Busdriver is another of those over-the-top MC/rappers whose rapid-fire, mile-a-minute skills simply stun with staccato articulation and flying lyrics slipping big ideas into your subconscious before you realize how good he is. With hip-hop beats and space-funk vibes this âchop maestro and style monsterâsâ fifth solo release RoadKillOvercoat will feed your soul while your ass is bumping. My picks: âLess Yesâs, More Noâs,â âKill Your Employer (Recreational Paranoia Is the Sport of Now),â âSun Shower,â âGo Slowâ featuring Bianca Casady,â âPompous Posies! Your Partyâs No Funâ and âMr. Mistake (Bested by the Whisper Chasm).â Gig alert! Busdriver rants and rhymes Jan 30 @ SFâs Great American Music Hall.
Real To Reel
Europeâs well-kept secret Noiseshaper bursts into the open with classic dub/reggae and downbeats chilled and remixed into the 21st century with the stunning Real To Reel release reclaiming a full compliment of the bandsâ past hits plus plenty of new tracks with standout guest vocalists and all overdubbed and mixed by Londonâs dub legend Adrian Sherwood. If youâre not yet a fan of dub chill this would almost be too good of an introduction with infectiously funky grooves and sun-kissed dancefloor hip-movers. My picks: âSly&Robbie - Vice Vanityâ featuring Beans & Hawkman, âYou Take Controlâ featuring Jackie Deane, âMoving Togetherâ featuring Wayne Martin, âBushmaster (Kid Kenobi Session RMX)â featuring MC Shureshock, âWalls Of Silence (TVS remix)â, âFire Fi Me Roots (Automatic Real to Reel Edit),â âWake Upâ featuring Jahcoustix and âRough Out There.â
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Everready (The Religion)
On his third national album Everready (The Religion) Kansas Cityâs underground rap king Tech N9ne makes a good case for how to pull off a mainstream crossover. With nods to his hardcore gangsta rap roots and plenty of club friendly thumpers and groovers, his evolution from underground gangsta rapper to mainstream hit maker is laid bare displaying his creativity with a mean turned lyric and clever wordplay. Much like Ice-T or Andre 3000 he is hoping to expand his universe and fan base. His success looks assured with MySpace and YouTube as allies - his viral power is immense and if that wasnât enough he has the holy grail of several of his tracks in the new Alpha Dog movie. A bonus disc introduces six of his label mates and even serves up three bonus tracks. My picks: âWelcome to the Midwestâ featuring Big Krizz Kaliko, âBout Taâ Bubble,â âItâs What You Thinkinâ,â âCaribou Lou,â âFlashâ and âFuck âEm Girlâ featuring Big Krizz Kaliko and Kutt Calhoun. Gig alerts! Tech N9ne gets real and raw Jan 25 @ Santa Cruzâs Catalyst Club.
Is it housey soul or house music with meat on itsâ bones? With soulful and hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies working out serious disco mantras and infectious hooks expect to be entranced by Englandâs Shape: UK aka The Shapeshifters on their debut release Sound Advice. The musician/ producer/ label owning and international DJing duo have enlisted stellar vocalists and collaborators to serve up lush and club-ready groovers. My picks: âReally Feel,â âRoute One,â âLittle Green Men,â âBeautiful Heartacheâ and âInstead of Falling.â
Get Into It
âThat hotel was so cheap I should have brought my own sheetsâ and other poetic gems from NYC underground singer-songwriter, party-boi and rapper MC Cazwell will have you laughing and dancing at the same time. From his breakout single âAll Over Your Faceâ (see the video on Youtube.com) he launches seven remixes and even throws in a bonus DVD of three videos as well as the seven songs that make up his latest release with guests Amanda LaPore and Avenue D. Expect to feel dirty then liberated. My top picks: âThe Sex That I Needâ featuring Avenue D, âAll Over Your Face,â âDo You Wanna Break Up?,â âAll Over Your Face (Gomiâs West 22nd Street Mix),â âAll Over Your Face (Funky Junction & Anthony Reale Subliminal Reprise Twisted Dub Mix)â and âAll Over Your Face (Original Extended Disco Instrumental).â
Notes From The Underworld
Fronted by Russian singer/songwriter Angelina Moysov the Californian quartet has utilized her unique upbringing in the Caucasus region in southern Russia with itsâ multi-ethnic vibes of Russian, Slavic, Gypsy, Armenian, Georgian, Greek and Turkish music and spun it all into post-modern rock with a decidedly feminist pop twist. Her brother would send home underground punk and rock music and those influences seep into the disarmingly upbeat and hypnotically funky songs and melodies. Their debut major release Notes From The Underworld is well worth it not only for the rich international undertones but also the post-modern surf-rock vibe that seems to flow from California. My picks: âClimbing,â â
City Of Love,â âNice Day,â âMuzika Dlya Filâma,â âPaper Plane,â
Queenâs Night Outâ and âHome.â
And Through It All: Live 1997-2006
When I lived in London I was perplexed by the number of folks seemingly everywhere who knew every word of every song whereas I didnât know any and still donât. In a lot of ways we Americans donât get the uniquely British popsters and itâs also true they donât get so much of what we do. Hoping to firm up his inroads and plow our purple mountain majesties is sassy everyguy singer-songwriter Robbie Williamsâ double DVD with cherry-picked live concert performances in massive stadium rock concerts in Slane, Manchester, Koln, Knebworth, Leeds, London and Berlin. He was a charter member of Brit boyband Take That and went solo in 1990 becoming the top selling solo artist in British history with worldwide sales estimated at 65 million singles and albums. He is simply huge worldwide except in America but that may change soon with his new CD Rudebox and this DVD set. Included in on the fun are TV appearances (mostly appearances at music awards shows). With coy magnetism and pure showmanship he easily sways the masses to sing along to every pop, dance and rock song and ballad from his full career including two magical duets with Aussie diva Kylie Minogue.
The World Is Gone
Intriguing and mysterious artist and musician duo Various (an interesting name choice, no?) are two guys Andy and Ian from London who produce breathtakingly beautiful folksy electronica with post-apocalyptic noisescapes and haunting, delicate guests vocalists. With dubby interludes, electro-kissed instrumentations and otherworldly floaty vocals youâll be a bit spellbound. My picks: âCircle Of Sorrow,â âHater,â âLost,â âSir,â âSweetnessâ and âDeadman.â
Tower Of Power
Homegrown in our very own Oakland is one of the original and longest-lasting live soul bands â the world-famous Tower Of Power with over forty years of serving live, hot funky soul to the masses. Formed in the late 60s they first recorded in 1970 and have put out eighteen original albums plus, according to Wikipedia, the tight horn section aka The Top has backed up a stellar roster of artists including Little Feat, the Monkees, Santana, Elton John, John Lee Hooker, Rod Stewart, Jefferson Starship, Heart, Huey Lewis and the News, Spyro Gyra, Lyle Lovett, Poison, Phish, and Aerosmith. The band has had quite a few personnel changes over the years but has kept touring and gigging to this day (see gig alerts below). On Oakland Zone my picks are: âGive Me Your Love,â âCouldâve Done It Better,â âThis Type Of Funk,â âOakland Zoneâ and âBack In The Day.â On Havinâ Fun my picks are: âAinât Nothinâ Stoppinâ Us Now,â âWe Came To Play,â âAttitude Danceâ and âHow Could This Happen To Me.â Gig alerts! Feel the bump and grind with Tower of power Jan 20 @ SFâs The Fillmore and Jan 21 @ Petalumaâs McNears Mystic Theatre.
Robbers on High Street
The Fatalist And Friends
Collaborating with Italian composer Daniele Luppi, known in America for his collaboration with Danger Mouse on Gnarls Barkleyâs St. Elsewhere, Robbers On High Street do a turn of catchy emo-rock meets sultry electronica timewarp nouveau pop. âLuppiâs knowledge of sophisticated and sexy yet sinister soundtrack compositions elaborated on the bandâs already existing songwriting and arrangements.â My picks: âThe Fatalist,â âMarried Youngâ and âMajor Minor.â Gig alert! Robbers on High Street poprocket Jan 25 @ SFâs CafĂ© du Nord.
Putumayo Kids presents
New Orleans Playground
Visionary world music label Putumayoâs project Putumayo Kids serves up not only fun but also intelligent music for children of all ages. They have spoiled me in that I have been firmly won over. Just like Mr. Rogerâs Neighborhood you donât dumb-down to children and kids music doesnât need to be insipid, annoying or mindless â although that can be nice at times. Fresh from the producers at Putumayo is the fun and inspired New Orleans Playground which celebrates the playful party spirit of New Orleans that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States that rolled through in August of 2005. The children of New Orleans were spoon-fed inspired music throughout their lives and this collection captures the festive energy with some of the cityâs world-famous musicians playing classic songs. If that wasnât enough of a sell â the entire CD is also a benefit in the tradition of Putumayo and raises funds for the Louisiana Childrenâs Museum to create a New Orleansâ music exhibit. Lush artwork and liner notes in English, Espanol, Francais and Deutsch complete the package. My picks: The Metersâ âThey All Askâd For You,â Kermit Ruffinsâ âBreakfast, Lunch And Dinner,â Buckwheat Zydecoâs âSkip To My Blues,â Lee Dorseyâs âYa Ya,â Clarence âFrogmanâ Henryâs âAinât Get No Homeâ and Dr. JohnâsÂ Â Â âRow Row Your Boat.â
If youâre reading this you probably have never had to deal with let alone know anyone whoâs been a victim of the barbaric landmines that are routinely planted in the ground in war-torn countries. The leading country with the most landmine victims is Afghanistan but number two is Colombia, or formally, the Republic of Colombia, the northwestern-most country of South America bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama and Peru as well as the Pacific ocean. Civil war has been going for forty years involving guerrilla rebels, paramilitary militias and drug trafficking thus making Colombia a dangerous place for children and landmines are one of the biggest nightmares as those who plant them often never remove them. United for Colombia has teamed up with Putumayo to raise funds to help rehabilitate child victims of landmines throughout Colombia and you can help! Sales of Radio Latino will benefit the project and youâll not only be doing some good but also getting some wonderful upbeat Latin pop and alternative songs celebrating the Latin vibe that has deeply influenced world music All the tracks are considered radio-friendly hence the name. From Latin hip-hop heroes Orishas to the Latin Grammy winner Jorge Moreno. My picks: Sacha Nairobiâs âPrincesa,â Javier Garciaâs âMe GustarĂa,â Bebeâs âMen SeĂ±arĂĄ,â Orishasâ âReina De La Calle,â Kelvis Ochoaâs âViento Y Tiempoâ and Costo Ricoâs âPor Esos Mares.âq
Gone Are The Days
Featured in James Bond movies, the English-speaking island country of Jamaica has an immensely rich culture despite its economic issues and smaller size. According to Wikipedia, the musical genres reggae, ska, mento, rocksteady, dub, dancehall and ragga all originated in the islandâs vibrant popular urban recording industry. Jungle emerged from Londonâs Jamaican diaspora and the birth of hip-hop in New York also owed much to the cityâs Jamaican community with its tradition of massive sound systems and portable parties. Christianity is also a rich part of life and has deeply influenced many musicians including Arkansas-based singer-songwriter Joseph Israel who pilgrimaged countless times to study the islandâs faith, music and culture. His debut release Gone Are The Days is an idealistic and spiritualized reggae treat recorded in Jamaica with some roots reggae artists including Luciano and Mikey General. My picks: âHotta Fire,â âRuff Times,â âJah Souljahs,â âBe Together,â âWhat A Day,â âUniversal Love.â Gig alert! Joseph Israel brings Jah love Jan 25 @ SFâs Bottom of the Hill.