Classic Melting Pot

Charades – En Las Batallas

Charades were one of my few contemporary music finds from our trip to Spain in 2008 (my only time overseas). I was initially intrigued by the cover art for their record En Ningún Lugar but just about instantly fell in love with the fuzzy indie-pop that was on display from the group back then. Somehow this follow-up, which was released all the way back in January, slipped under my radar until now. Revolución Solar finds the band with a more polished sound, which is still mighty solid, but I do miss the slight grittiness of the prior release. It feels as if the group has traded in a more Pixies influenced sound for more of a Stereolab vibe at times, which seems clear on “En Las Batallas,” perhaps the best bridge between the older sound of Charades and the newer version.

{Congrats to Javier R. and Rachel G., winners of the tickets to go see Dum Dum Girls @ the Echo!}

Been a long time since we were able to do one of these, I think we’ll have a few more in coming weeks. LA based Dum Dum Girls are, in my humble opinion, leading the way in a “girls in the garage” styled revival that also includes Best Coast, Neverever, Golden Triangle and The Vivian Girls. They are playing at the Echo this Thursday July 1st, one of their last shows in California before heading out for Europe on their own and then around the country and world in brief stints on tour with Vampire Weekend and MGMT. Their debut “I Will Be” has been reviewed here and remains one of my fave releases of 2010.

If you interested in going to the show, e-mail me at michael @ meltingpotblog.com and I’ll let you know if you’ve won tickets by Wednesday June 30th!  Here’s a taste of what to expect, DDG performing at SXSW in all their fuzzed out glory…

Our fundraising is done for KPFK here in the summer, we raised close to $3,000 which is pretty amazing given that I’ve only been doing this show since the end of May and the first two fundraising shows were during a Laker’s playoff game and Father’s Day. Fundraising in general is a challenge, but given the above circumstances these were definitely my most challenging fundraising shifts in my radio career. After three weeks of intense fundraising, I can’t explain to you how much I am really looking forward to returning to regular programming this week.

Melting Pot on KPFK #5: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #5: Second Hour

Melting Pot Fundraising Special #3
Playlist: 6-27-2010

{opening theme} Booker T. & The MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Phil Ochs & the Broadside Singers – Links on the Chain – Broadside Ballads, Vol. 3 (Broadside)
Saravah Soul – Janaina – Cultura Impura (Tru Thoughts)
Quadron – Simili Life – Quadron (Plug Research)
Quantic – Te Pico El Yaibi (Version) – Dog With A Rope (Tru Thoughts)
Various artists – Selections From California Funk – California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State (Now –Again)

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Orgone – Crazy Queen – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
Murs & 9th Wonder – Cigarettes & Liqour – Fornever (SMC)
Flying Lotus – Zodiac Shit – Cosmogramma (Warp)
Dum Dum Girls – Rest Of Our Lives – I Will Be (Sub Pop)
Orgone – Selections From Cali Fever – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)

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Aaron Neville – Hercules – New Orleans Funk (Soul Jazz)
Orgone – Mantanza – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)

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Bill Withers – Excerpt From Still Bill – Still Bill
Saravah Soul – Selections From Cultura Impura – Cultura Impura (Tru Thoughts)

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Vampires Of Dartmoore – Tanz Der Vampires – Dracula’s Music Cabinet (Finders Keepers)
Valerie Lagrange – Si Ma Chanson Pouvait – The BYG Deal (B-Music)
Parva – Mosem-E Gol – Pomegranates (Finders Keepers)
Sonny Hennig – 1000 Tips Zum Uberleben – Cloud Cuckooland (B-Music)

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The Black Keys – Sinister Kid – Brothers (Nonesuch)
Georgia Anne Muldrow – King’s Ballad – King’s Ballad (Ubiquity)

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Orgone – The Cleaner – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

Apple & the Three Oranges – Curse Upon The World
L.A. Bare Faxx – Super Cool Brother

When the first two volumes of Luv ‘n’ Haight’s Bay Area Funk collections came out, a DJ friend of mine remarked dismissively, “they haven’t even scratched the surface.” At the time I thought that was a bit of a harsh assessment, but now I realize that it just means that there is indeed a mountain of funky gold waiting to be dug up in California. This new collection from Now-Again/Jazzman, put together by Jazzman Gerald and Malcolm Catto, gets even deeper into the vinyl archeology of rock solid funk from the Golden State.

At 21 total tracks, it is indeed quite a motherlode with a wide variety of sounds, from dance floor burners like “The Honeydripper,” and “Smokin’ Tidbits” to the super cool but cautionary “Super Cool Brother,” and “What Goes Around Comes Around” or the righteous, just let it all hang out, get loose and get together vibes of “All Bundled Into One,” “I Who Have Nothing (Am Somebody),” and the “North Richmond Breakaway.” There’s even a bit of the slightly bizarre and psychedelic in Billy Larkin & the Delegates’ “Funky Fire” and the 4th Coming’s “Cruisin’ Down Sunset.”

What’s especially interesting to me about many of the tracks on this collection is how instead of a single or specific sound (something you can hear on the more label specific Eccentric Soul series), many of the songs represent a mish-mash of soul style, a trait that’s likely because of the migratory nature of CA’s population, particularly its African-Americans. It’s pretty clearly heard in many of my favorite tracks on this comp., including Rhon Silva’s “Get It Right” with its funky drums straight out of an Eddie Bo NOLA production matched with some Memphis blues styled guitar (though according to the singer, it’s supposed to be “Hippie-style” and “psychedelic for the Haight-Ashbury”), or the straight country funk for the city in Leon Gardner’s “Farm Song.”

Perhaps best exemplifying this “soul stew” dynamic, and also probably the best track on this collection, is Apple & the Three Oranges’ stomper “Curse Upon The World.” New Orleans is all over this one, from the special and particular way “Curse” is phrased to the massively tight drumming coming from Edward “Apple” Nelson. Apparently that group recorded at least an additional 8 sides and Now-Again is thankfully working on releasing them in the near future. It’s a dynamite sound and, like so many of these obscured artists, one that deserves to be heard.

Way back in the 1990s when these types of compilations started coming out, I was convinced it meant that the original 45s/LPs on the collections would decrease in value. My thinking was something along the lines of, “now that everyone could hear the song why would anyone be willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for rare funky?” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead I think, especially because of the more recent injection of Serato and other “Digital DJ” technology into the culture, these collections work to continually raise the value of the originals by showing just how special they are. For students of crate-digging it also provides a serious tutorial on what to search for when you’re digging deep looking for lost gold, as well as giving old-timers 20+ reasons to take another look at all those 45s they’ve been keeping in storage.

U.S. 69 – I’m On My Way (A Patch Of Blue)
U.S. 69 – I Hear You Talkin’
U.S. 69 – Never A Day Goes By

First heard this at KALX back in the day back when Matthew Africa used to follow my radio show. As I was restacking my records and CDs in that glorious KALX library, I heard the opening notes of “I’m On My Way” but wasn’t fully paying attention. The massive head nod inducing sitar and heavy drums that rush in at about :45 seconds in rapidly changed all that and I made a beeline back to the studio to figure out what Matthew was playing. Turned out to be this record, the only release from this quintet that has one foot firmly in psych-rock and the other spread out into jazz, funk and Indian/African elements the hippies were fond of.  Most psych records I pick up are two trackers at best.  It’s rare for me to run into a psych album I can listen to, repeatedly, from start to finish but this one is one of those rare gems without a throwaway track. 

In fact, the tracks most people know off of this, “Yesterday’s Folks” and “Miss Goodbody” are mighty solid, but they’re not even my favorites. “I Hear You Talkin'” definitely gets a vote, as does the aforementioned opening cut (which I love to play at the open of a set when I spin out in loungey styled places). “Talkin'” has this flighty flute and punchy drums throughout and is filled with what Matthew described as “Little Girl Leave Your Plastic World” lyrics, a theme which is picked up throughout the record.

Strangely one of the least funky songs on this record, “Never A Day Goes By” is the one that tends to stick in my mind the most. For some reason or another I always seem to visualize this song playing in the scene in Kassovitz’s film La Haine, where Hubert is in his room smoking up to Isaac Hayes, the DJ starts to cut things up on the decks and then the camera breezily floats out the window and around the area. Happens every single time I start that song, has been for years and I have no idea why…something perhaps about the dreamy though gritty quality of that scene, which is shared by this song.

Somewhere, I’m convinced of it, there is a instrumental version of this record (I’ve always been perplexed by the “Authorized Version” tag beneath the band’s emblem on the back cover, is there really an “Unauthorized” version?) If an instrumental backing track exists, I hope it doesn’t waste away in someone’s musty attic. As much as I love this record, I’d love even more to hear these tracks stand alone and have every break run clean.

Cheers,

Michael

Neverever – Young and Dumb

2010 has really been quite a year for “girls in the garage” revivalist sounds, with records already released from LA’s Dum Dum Girls and Brooklyn’s Golden Triangle, plus new records from Best Coast and a grittier Tender Trap on the way (all that’s missing is a new record from the Vivian Girls, who, given their prior pace of output, are pretty due to join the party). Neverever have perhaps the “cleanest” sound of the bunch, though it’s pieced together with equal parts garage, girl-group, Smithian indie-pop and post-punk. It’s a sound that with each play grows on me more and more, particularly lead singer Jihae Simmons Meek.

Just as a bit of an aside, in the not so distant past the group had the rather clever name Champagne Socialists, which I was very fond of, as it reminded me (positively and negatively) of my time in Berkeley. But on second thought, perhaps it was right make the change to Neverever, after all who really wants to associate with Champagne Socialists, it’s not exactly a compliment after all…

Melting Pot on KPFK #4: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #4: Second Hour

Our second chance to raise funds for KPFK was yesterday, and even though it was Father’s Day we did a little better than the week before. A lot of that had to do with all the special “free” premiums we had to give to subscribers during the show, including tickets to see the Black Keys and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. Additionally, virtually all of the music is available to subscribers to KPFK, just click here  to see some of our CD premiums. Based on how things are going with this fundraiser there’s a chance we’ll be doing one more fundraising show this Sunday, but hopefully we’ll be back to business as usual…

Melting Pot Fundraising Special #2
Playlist: 6-20-2010

{opening theme} Booker T. & The MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Love – The Good Humor Man He See Everything This Way – Forever Changes (Elektra)
Gonjasufi – Sheep – A Sufi & A Killer (Warp)
Quantic – Cumbia Del Mar – Dog With A Rope (Tru Thoughts)
Murs & 9th Wonder – I Used To Love H.E.R. – Fornever (SMC)
Richard “Groove” Holmes – Song For My Father – Onsaya Joy (Flying Dutchman)
Orgone – The Cleaner – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)

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Dum Dum Girls – Lines Her Eyes – I Will Be (Sub Pop)
Ray Frazier & the Shades of Madness – I Who Have Nothing – California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From the Golden State (Now-Again)
Seu Jorge & Almaz – Rock With You – Seu Jorge & Almaz (Now-Again)
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – If You Call – I Learned The Hard Way (Daptone)
Quantic – Selections from Dog With A Rope – Dog With A Rope (Tru Thoughts)

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Bill Withers – Excerpt from Still Bill – Still Bill
Various Artists – Selections from California Funk – California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From the Golden State (Now-Again)

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Antibalas – Si Se Puede – Liberation Afrobeat Vol. 1 (Ninja Tune)
Saravah Soul – Fire – Cultura Impura (Tru Thoughts)
The Black Keys – The Only One – Brothers (Nonesuch)
Orgone – Selections from Cali Fever – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
Mehrpouya – Soul Raga – Pomegranates (Finders Keepers)

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Noosh Afarin – Gol-E Aftab Gardoon – Pomegranates (Finders Keepers)
Francois Wertheimer – L’Automne – The BYG Deal (Finders Keepers)

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Jamie Lidell – Enough’s Enough – Compass (Warp)
Flying Lotus – Do The Astral Plane – Cosmogramma (Warp)

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Flying Lotus – Selections from Cosmogramma – Cosmogramma (Warp)
Enrique Olivarez Y Los Vampiros – Al’s Place – California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From the Golden State (Now-Again)
Orgone – Cali Fever – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

Richard Hayman – Windmills Of Your Mind
Richard Hayman – Melody No. 2
Richard Hayman – Goin’ Out Of My Head

First heard this in Berkeley at the apartment of a friend who was in the Sociology PhD program at the time, Carl Somers. I recently got back in touch with Carl and he set me straight on the original story. While I had remembered it being a friend of his who found this record, it was actually Carl who literally dug this record (and a few other choice cuts) out of a dumpster in Hot Springs, Arkansas. With that as the backdrop, I’ll admit, I was pretty skeptical of what I was about to hear and when he put in the tape dub of the record (yes that’s right a cassette tape, this was back in 1999) and started “Windmills Of Your Mind,” the opening wash of Moog sounds and familiar melody didn’t really thrill me, but then those drums came in and I was completely floored.  Something about those drums, combined with the guitar and the darkness of the mood, really reminded me of early Portishead in its sound. I’ve never been sure if it’s a live drummer and guitarist or if all the sounds come from the Moog, but if it is a live drummer, I really wish I knew who it was, cause they are just about perfect.

Eventually I tracked down a copy, first at Saturn Records in Oakland (which then became part of my wedding inspired sell-off) and more recently again at Atomic in Burbank.  Though I’m not particularly fond of Moog records generally, or even 80% of this album in particular, the two tracks that lead off each side, the aforementioned “Windmills” and “Goin’ Out Of My Head” are really very stellar.  I know that Katalyst sampled “Windmills” and I figure a few others probably have as well. If there was one Moog record to have, this is the one I’d recommend.  Just remember it’s from Richard Hayman, not Dick Hyman…

Cheers,

Michael

Bastien Lallemant – La Plage

I’ve been rather smitten with the sound of this one since first hearing it on Le Pop Musik’s fifth collection of contemporary French music. “La Plage” is from a full length record that was just released (and shortly on it’s way to me!) in France from Bastien Lallemant. On this track he is paired with Armelle Pioline who sings in the group Holden, and the pair sound quite lovely together even though the mood and subject matter are a bit darker than it might at first seem, as is the case with this photo montage/video for a different song from Le Verger, “Filature.”

Just two weeks into our new digs at KPFK and it’s time for a fundraiser! Had a great show yesterday along with Derek Rath of KPFK, packed to the gills with music that is available to you if become a subscriber to KPFK. We are a 100% Community radio station, powered by the people as we like to say, with no corporate sponsorship or underwriting. This means that we absolutely need your help to help keep the station going. If you can become a member do so by calling (818) 985-KPFK or by pledging online at KPFK.ORG. If you want to get some of my premiums, just click on “Browse By Program” and scroll down for “Melting Pot.” If you need some help, just drop me a line by clicking the mail icon in the top left hand corner of the main page here on the blog. Unfortunately, many of the tickets were only for the live show, but others you can still get and we’ll have even more this coming week!

Thanks for all your support!

Melting Pot Fundraising Special #1
Playlist: 6-13-2010

{opening theme} Booker T. & The MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Captain Beefheart – Party Of Special Things To Do – Blue jeans & Moonbeams (Mercury)
The Black Keys – She’s Long Gone – Brothers (Nonesuch)
Rhon Silva – Get It Right – California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State (Now-Again)
Orgone – Time Tonight – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
Flying Lotus – Selections From Cosmogramma – Cosmogramma (Warp)

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Quantic – No Soy Del Valle – Dog With A Rope (Tru Thoughts)
Quadron – Average Fruit – Quadron (Plug Research)
Seu Jorge & Almaz – The Model – Seu Jorge & Almaz (Now-Again)
The Stooges – Gimme Danger – Raw Power: Legacy Edition (Sony Legacy)
Saravah Soul – Selections From Cultura Impura – Cultural Impura (Tru Thoughts)

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Jose James & Jef Neve – Tenderly – For All We Know (Impulse!)
The Soul Fanatics – Ain’t No Sunshine – Panama 2 (Soundway)

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Excerpts from the Documentary Film Still Bill
V/A – Selections from California Funk – California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State (Now-Again)
Mulatu Astatke – Mulatu – New York Addis London (Strut)

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The Suite For Ma Dukes Orchestra – Stakes Is High – Timeless: Suite For Ma Dukes (Mochilla)
Gonjasufi – Klowds – A Sufi & A Killer (Warp)
Grupo Fantasma – Realizando – El Existential (Nat Geo Music)
Quantic – Selections From Dog With A Rope – Dog With A Rope (Tru Thoughts)

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She & Him – Thieves – Volume 2 (Merge)
Dum Dum Girls – Blank Girl – I Will Be (Sub Pop)
Saravah Soul – Se Da Do – Cultura Impura (Tru Thoughts)
Niagara – Sangandongo – Niagara (United Artists)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

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