Classic Melting Pot

Francoiz Breut @ KPFK

{Update: Due to the untimely closing of Echo Curio, the Los Angeles performance on Oct. 5th has been moved to 8pm at the Fretted Frog in Echo Park}

Earlier today I taped a session with one of my favorite singers (even though I don’t speak French, I still “feel” everything she sings) Francoiz Breut at KPFK, which we’ll be broadcasting this Sunday on Melting Pot (and archiving here on the blog thereafter). I wanted post a little something just in case any of you are in the cities that Francoiz will be touring (especially Bay Area peeps!) before she comes back down here to LA for one of her last shows on this all too brief tour. This is actually the first time Francoiz has done a multi-city tour of the US, so catch her while you can, along with the equally talented Marianne Dissard. “Les Jounes Pousses” was one of four songs Francoiz and her guitarist Stephane performed today. This mix is a little raw, but I think it has a very disarming quality to it, as if it were recorded by happenstance late one night amongst friends, clearly (based off of the howl after the first verse) under a full moon.

Francoiz Breut – Les Jeunes Pousses (Recorded Live At KPFK)

Francoiz Breut & Marianne Dissard US Tour 2010

Sept. 29th @ Steynberg Gallery – San Luis Obispo, CA
Sept. 30th @ Hotel Utah – San Francisco, CA
Oct. 1st @ Sam Bond’s Garage – Eugene, OR
Oct. 2nd @ Lola’s Room – Portland, OR
Oct. 3rd @ Triple Door – Seattle, WA
Oct. 5th @ Originally scheduled for Echo Curio, Moved to the Fretted Frog – Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 6th @ Trunk Space – Phoenix, AZ
Oct. 7th @ Raven Café – Prescott, AZ

Laetitia Sadier – Un Soir, Un Chien

I’ve had the French on my mind a lot this week, with one of my favorite French singers, Francoiz Breut, making her way to Los Angeles. Recently another favored daughter of France released new music, Laetitia Sadier, with a solo record on Drag City titled the Trip. Sadier, like Breut, is one of those artists that can virtually do no wrong in my book. It’s not just talent, it’s also the fact that they make very good choices in terms of representing themselves in their music. For long-time fans of Stereolab or Sadier’s side project Monade, this solo album mines similar enough territory. One of the more interesting sonic excursions on the new disc is “Un Soir, Un Chien,” which finds Sadier lovingly crooning and talking in French over a surprisingly funky mid-tempo electro disco beat.

Chicano Batman perform live on KPFK's Melting Pot!

This past Sunday I had the distinct pleasure of spending almost an hour with Los Angeles’ very own Chicano Batman. Bardo, Eduardo & Gabriel did a 25+ minute acoustic set and then came into the studio with me to chat about the band and music in general.

(From L to R) Eduardo, Gabriel & Bardo of Chicano Batman at KPFK

Chicano Batman released an album earlier in the year on Club Unicornio that’s one of the best independent releases of 2010 from an LA artist. Their style draws upon 1970s Chicano/Latino music as well as Tropicalia and Soul, whipped into a unique and inspiring mix. For this set, they went all acoustic, playing 4 songs live, featuring Bardo & Eduardo on guitars and vocals with Gabriel on percussion and vocals. I’m already looking forward to bringing them back in the not too distant future with the full set up including that righteous casio keyboard featured on the LP, a couple of tracks of which are featured during this set, “La Samaona” and “Itotiani”.

Chicano Batman on Melting Pot 09-26-10: Performance
Chicano Batman on Melting Pot 09-26-10: Interview

Here’s some video that the boys shot of them performing the song “Pomegranate Tree” live at KPFK during this show:

It was hot enough to melt vinyl yesterday in Los Angeles…thankfully all my records made it safely on the air and back home for my end of the month all vinyl affair. I was also massively thankful that Chicano Batman came into the KPFK studios for a performance and interview, just about taking the entire second hour of the program. I was having such a good time I completely lost track of time and didn’t even get to play my usual closing theme from Kenny Baker for these vinyl shindigs. I also had to cut “Party Man” from the Inner Drive short, I’ll make up for that during October’s all vinyl show (tentatively featuring a guest set from Scott Craig of Records LA!), which will be on Oct. 24th instead of the end of the month, so that I can do a Halloween Special on Oct. 31st. In addition to the performance and interview from Chicano Batman (check the whole 2nd hour for that) you get some newer wax from Black Milk, Myron & E + the Soul Investigators and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and classic tracks from Charlie Musselwhite, Max Roach and an absolute stunner from Irma Thomas that leads off the show!

Melting Pot on KPFK #16: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #16: Second Hour

Playlist: 09-26-2010

{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Irma Thomas – Coming From Behind / Wish Someone Would Care – In Between Tears (Charly
Los Dinamicos – Esta Llorando El Cielo – El Cacahuatero (Caytronics)
Charlie Musselwhite – No More Lonely Nights – Stand Back! (Vanguard)
High Society Brothers – The Devil Gives Me Everything Except What I Need – 7” (Timmion)

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Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – It’s A Shame – 7” (Timmion)
Machito – Green Onions – Machito Goes To Memphis (RCA)
Gal Costa – Divino Maravilhoso – Gal Costa (Phillips)
Gang Of Four – 5:45 – Entertainment (WB)
The Soul Investigators – On Broadway – 7” (Timmion)

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Black Milk – Welcome – 12” (Fat Beats)
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Water – Heritage EP (Choice Cuts)
Max Roach – Let Thy People Go – Lift Every Voice And Sing (Atlantic)
Freddie Roach – Drunk – My People (Prestige)

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Chicano Batman Live Performance and Interview

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The Inner Drive – Party Man – 7” (Zodiac)

Mel Brown – Swamp Feet
Mel Brown – Ode To Billie Joe
Mel Brown – African Sweets

I can’t remember exactly where I first got a copy of this record, back in the mid 1990s. I’m thinking it was either at Red, Beans & Rice or Wuxtry records. At the time I was really into jazz and was working on collecting Impulse records. The copy I used to own was super cheap, maybe $5, but it also wasn’t in particularly great shape, but I just loved the colors, design and the title. It just seemed like it might be a really great soul-jazz record. I was more than happy with the results when I finally dropped the needle on the scratchy wax and had been looking for a better conditioned copy ever since. Finally tracked down a minty one at Amoeba Hollywood and now I can share it with you.

Mel Brown was a blues guitarist, primarily, spending sometime with Johnny Otis before releasing a series of very solid albums on Impulse in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Towards the end of his stint on Impulse he became associated with Bobby “Blue” Bland. The Wizard is his best of the 6 or 7 records he cut for Impulse (though a couple tracks from 1971’s “Fifth” might be his best work). It’s got a really sensational sound, in Brown’s guitar, but especially in the percussion and drums, which I am fairly sure must be provided by “Pretty” Purdie. The production keeps things very, very punchy with a slight echo too. It’s that sound that draws you in immediately with “Ode To Billie Joe.” I’m not too big on jazz covers of “pop” tunes, but, as Frank Kofsky mentions in the notes, this is a great cover of the original, something just dying to be sampled. Also included above are “Swamp Fever” and “African Sweets” which feature some pretty samplerific drum breaks too, making this perhaps the funkiest record that was ever cut on Impulse.

Cheers,

Michael

foto credit: Carl Abrahamsson

Of all the current bands who play styles of music clearly influenced by the 1960s, Dungen probably does it best. As I mentioned before, Dungen is one of my favorite current bands, the fact that they are not a bigger band in the US can only be chalked up to frontman Gustav Ejstes insistence to sing all of his lyrics in Swedish. They are an exceptional band on record and live as the video below from a performance at Big Sur will attest. They’ll be in Los Angeles this Saturday for the Waved Out II fest going on at the Echo & the Echoplex. Dungen headlines and will be playing in the Echoplex Saturday night. If you’d like to go courtesy of Melting Pot, drop me a line (michael[at]meltingpotblog.com) before Friday at 12noon!!!

Bonus treat, here’s the video for the title track off their brand new record “Skit I Allt”:

Bertrand Belin – Nord De Tout

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to post some kind words about this record ever since I received an advance copy all the way back in July. Bertrand Belin is a French singer songwriter with some interesting sonic sensibilities. For the most part his sound (in terms of both the music and his vocals) is fairly reminiscent of recent work from Bill Callahan of Smog or at times Calexico (perhaps minus the horns), but something strange and a bit unexpected always seems to happen in the arrangements for these tracks on this his third full-length record “Hyper Nuit”.

“Nord de Tout” remains my favorite track, with this slow moving laconic beat on the drums, atmospheric phrasing from piano and guitars that for the most part roll through their notes for the entire song. About mid way through, all of the sudden, some woodwinds (or maybe mellotron/keyboards mimicing woodwinds) pipe up for a bit before fading back into the mix and things return back to main theme, which is interrupted again near the very end by twin guitars that seem to come out of nowhere but never wreck the mood. Beautiful work from one of my favorite contemporary international releases of the year.

This week’s show begins with a song in loving honor to my grandmother who’s 85th birthday was Sunday, as well as my brother whose 43rd birthday would have been the same day. The Swan Silvertones are perhaps the greatest gospel vocal group of all-time. They remain a favorite of my grandmother’s and it seemed a fitting choice to begin things. That first set also features a song from an Atlanta group I miss dearly, Smoke, defunct for over 10 years now since frontman Benjamin’s passing. The song “Pretend” was originally released on 7″ and along with their song “Hank Aaron” is one of the few tracks from my college years that can almost bring me to tears.

We stayed mellow and contemplative for a bit in the beginning of the show, but eventually moved all over the place with new music Sun Kil Moon, Dungen, Axel Krygier, Betty & the Werewolves, Bilal, Belleruche, local favorites Chicano Batman (who will be our guest during next week’s all vinyl affair!) and Warpaint covering David Bowie.

This week we also had the third installment of “Side Dishes” with Oliver Wang of Soul-sides.com, at the start of the second hour. Playlists should be up tomorrow.

Melting Pot on KPFK #15: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #15: Second Hour

Playlist: 9-19-2010

{opening theme} Booker T. & the MGs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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The Swan Silvertones – Amazing Grace – Get Right with the Swan Silvertones (Archives Alive)
Sun Kil Moon – Half Moon Bay – Admiral Fell Promises (Caldo Verde)
Smoke – Pretend – 7” (Colossal)
The Walkmen – Stranded – Lisbon (Fat Possum)
The Naked Angels – Toccata For Truck – The Naked Angels: Original Soundtrack (Straight)

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Dungen – Nasta Sommar – Skit I Allt (Kemado)
Belleruche – Ginger Wine – 270 Stories (Tru Thoughts)
Bilal – All Matter – Airtight’s Revenge (Plug Research)
Axel Krygier – Campo De Marte – Pesebre (Crammed Discs)
Chicano Batman – It’s A Baloon – Chicano Batman (Unicornio)
Dungen – Blandband – Skit I Allt (Kemado)

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El Guincho – Soca Del Eclipse – Pop Negro (Young Turks)
J-Rocc – Play This Too – Play This (One) 12” (Stones Throw)
Wganda Kenya – El Lobo – Palenque Palenque (Soundway)
Cut Chemist – West Side (excerpt) – Sound Of The Police (A Stable Sound)

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Side Dishes: September 2010 w/ Oliver Wang of Soul-Sides.com

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Betty & the Werewolves – David Cassidy – Tea Time Favourites (Damaged Goods)
Aloe Blacc – Green Lights – Good Things (Stones Throw)
Orgone – Done Deal – Killion Vaults (Ubiquity)
Blonde Redhead – My Plants Are Dead – Penny Sparkle (4ad)
The XX – Stars – XX (XL)
Salsoul Orchestra – Magic Bird Of Fire (Fire Bird Suite) – Walter Gibbons – Jungle Music: Mixed With Love: Essential & Unrelased Remixes 1976-1986 (Strut)

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War Paint – Ashes To Ashes – We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie (Manimal Vinyl)
Davie Bowie – 1984 – Diamond Dogs (Virgin)
Fabienne Del Sol – On My Mind – On My Mind (Damaged Goods)

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

Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra – Returning To The Stars
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra – Popular Myth and Destruction of Sodom
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra – Valley Of The Gods
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra – Stars and Rockets/Gods from Strange Planets

If you have ever wondered what kind of music David Axelrod and Ennio Morricone would have made, circa 1970, if they made it into a studio after taking massive amounts of acid…look no further than this tripped-out soundtrack from the Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra.

“Chariots Of The Gods” is a mostly discredited piece of historical analysis that claims that aliens are responsible for much of the ancient world’s science, technology and religion. The ideas didn’t carry much weight in the 1960s when they were introduced, but it was intriguing enough for some Germans to get together and produce a documentary based off of the book. In the US this film was later released as “In Search of Ancient Astronauts,” but to my knowledge the soundtrack always carries the original name. This soundtrack originally was released in 1970, along with the original film, as two long themes spread out over two sides. This particular version is the 1974 edition, that instead of presenting the music as long-form pieces, cuts them up into little bite size tracks, which may be frustrating in reference to the original spirit of this music, but does make it much easier to quickly find the better moments in this score.

The first time I came across the LP was at Groove Merchant, Cool Chris played me about 20 seconds of a song and I was hooked. At the time I don’t think I fully appreciated the rest of the record and I vaguely remember trading it for something else within a month of getting it. More recently I dug this copy up at Atomic, sealed for $5. After a couple of failed attempts to trade it, all based off of my original feeling that it wasn’t all that, I decided to unseal the record and really consider whether or not I should get rid of it. Having a few years away from it and being in a much different musical mind set gave me a totally different impression of these sounds and I now think it’s one of my best finds of the year (especially at the price).

Many of the songs recycle a couple of themes, as is often the case with soundtrack records. The better tracks have one of two elements, both of which I really really dig. On the one hand you get tracks like “Returning To The Stars” with these very punchy and crisp drums paired with lush strings, horns and wordless voices. The sound is totally fitting for a film about space travel, since it has a very flighty vibe to it.

On the other hand, many of these tracks will include very odd or bizarre embellishments and at times some real 100% freakouts. The best example of this is the ticking time bomb that is “Popular Myth and Destruction of Sodom” the song begins as if you’re located in some kind of strange alien paradise surrounded by singing children, there’s something that’s whimsical about it for sure, but also it’s a bit off-putting, like something is just not quite right with this situation. Suddenly, just after the 30 second mark, it’s as if you’re under attack (perhaps from “space invaders”??? couldn’t resist) and you’re on the run from massive drums, screams and waves of fuzz guitar and before you’ve even had a chance to comprehend what has just happened to your ears, it’s all over. “Valley Of The Gods,” “Stars & Rockets” and “Gods From Strange Planets” (here the latter two are included together on the same track), similarly includes all these strange elements into a wild strings, drums and horns break-fest.

Though I know a fair amount of producers use this soundtrack for beats, taking small elements and choping them into their own musical collages, I really hope more people openly rework elements of this soundtrack into something new. All it may require is taking a deeper look at your local record store’s soundtrack bin, you never know when you might find a true gem like this for a steal of a price.

Cheers,

Michael

Dungen – Blandband

There are few contemporary bands out there currently that I find more satisfying than Sweden’s Dungen. Gustav Ejstes’ approach to making music has such an incredible attention to sound (very much like a Hip-Hop producer) that I hesitate to call it “neo-psych”. The first time I heard a Dungen track was on Matthew Africa’s radio show on KALX, and I was convinced it was some super rare material from the late 60s he’d dug up. When I heard the same song (the instrumental “C. Visar Vagen” which serves as my closing theme music on my radio show) in Amoeba later that week I was able to find out that in fact it came from this group and their album “Tio Batar,” one of my faves of 2007. 2008’s “4” picked up where “Tio Batar” left off and was once again one of my ten favorite records of the year.

On first listen to “Skit I Allt” (which means something to the effect of “Fuck it All” or “Fuck Everything”, a great sentiment, but a little problematic for the FCC even in Swedish) I’ll admit that I was initially disappointed. The material didn’t jump out at me in quite the same fashion as the two prior releases. But during a road trip I listened to all three albums back to back and discovered that of the three, “Skit I Allt” had the strongest songs and proved to be the most cohesive and enjoyable listen from start to finish of the bunch. Some of this could be related to the sentiment behind the title, but it must also be related to the fact that this record features the regular touring members of the band much more prominently than in past recordings, which were primarily Ejstes on all variety of instrumentation. The instrumental “Blandband” (which translates as “Mixtape” from Swedish) is my chosen representative from the album, which features some bright piano work along with break-neck paced drums, floating flute and guitar and simply irresistible hand claps. I can gaurantee with 100% certainty that not only will this record be on my year end list of the best releases, but that this track in particular will be the closing theme for my “Best of 2010” show on KPFK’s Melting Pot.

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