Classic Melting Pot

Our first all vinyl show of 2013, featuring a few records I’ve already gotten here in the new year (including the Ray Barretto Acid gold label copy I recently flipped out over at new store Gimme Gimme Records in Highland Park!). The weather here in LA had a lot to do with the second hour of the show. The rain had all pushed through and we were left with clear, breezy and cool skies that always seems to bring to mind parts of John Handy’s “If Only We Knew.” I so rarely play it (I think once on the Blue Note at Album 88, once on the KCRW.COM show I used to do) because it’s such a long song at close to 27 minutes. Every second is well worth it. Same goes for “Blues On A Westside,” which I’ve already talked about here. Closing out with “Looking At Tomorrow” from John Mayall and Eric Clapton reminded how happy I am to own that “Roots” record yet again…look for more on that later in the week. Until then enjoy these sounds, I’ll be taking a Super Bowl break from the show this Sunday but I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Seano from KPFK’s Soundwaves. Back in a couple weeks with lots and lots of new music and hopefully a suprise or two.

Melting Pot on KPFK #114: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #114: Second Hour

Playlist: 1-27-2013
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Theme For The Eulipions – Return Of The 5000lb. Man (WB)
Dave Pell Singers – Oh Calcutta! – Mah-na Mah-na (Liberty)
Tim Maia – O Caminho Do Bem – Nobody Can Live Forever (Luaka Bop)

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Ray Barretto – Mercy Mercy Baby – Acid (Fania)
James Brown – Sayin’ It and Doin’ It – Hell (Polydor)
The Heads – Land Of The Stoned Soul – Heads Up (Liberty)
Sapo – It’s The Music – Sapo (Bell)

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Farida – Il Pianoforte – Farida (Muza)
Poe – There Is A River/Your Prayers Have Been Answered Little Boy/What Do You Want To Do/I Want To Heal The Sick – Up Through the Spiral (UNI)
Research 1-6-12 – Lookin’ In My Toaster – In Research (Flick City)
The Meters – Stormy – The Meters (Josie)

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John Handy – If Only We Knew – Recorded Live At The Monterey Jazz Festival (Columbia)

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Siren – Wake Up My Children – Siren (Elektra)
Michael Bloomfield & Friends feat. Nick Gravenites – Blues On A Westside – Live At Bill Graham’s Fillmore West (Columbia)
John Mayall feat. Eric Clapton – Looking At Tomorrow – Back To The Roots (Polydor)

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{closing theme} Booker T & the MGs – Cleveland Now – Up Tight: Original Soundtrack (Stax)

Siren – Wake Up My Children
Siren – Gardener Man
Siren – I Wonder Where

Not sure why I hadn’t posted this one up months ago when I picked it up at Mount Analog, one of several recently opened and very good record stores in Highland Park. The name Kevin Coyne rang a few bells when I saw this record at the store, but what really piqued my curiosity was the fact that John Peel was the executive producer. Though my copy was on Elektra, the album was originally released on Peel’s short lived Dandelion record label. With one listen it’s pretty clear why Peel would have like the group. Aside from their fine bluesy sound, there are the very distinctive vocals and style of Coyne.

Coyne has an interesting back story, a youth spent admiring American bluesmen and time served at art school as you might expect, but also working as a therapist and nurse for the mentally ill before forming this band. Perhaps that explains his signature style, raw and seemingly a little manic. It’s a style that sticks with you and works it’s way deep down once you let it in. I’m not surprised the band didn’t attract a large audience, just as i’s no suprise that they were a cult favorite of quite a few, including John Lydon of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd. and Sting of the Police. John Peel sure knew how to pick ’em…



Dom La Nena – O Vento

Dominique Pinto is the woman behind Dom La Nena. Born in Brazil, Pinto has spent time moving around France and Argentina and her music has a simultaneously serene and restless quality that might be related to that background. There’s also a very cinematic quality which also makes sense since she’s worked as a cellist for a number of quite fantastic singer/actresses including Jane Birkin and Jeanne Moreau. “O Vento” is the kind of thing I expect to hear early in an Almdovar film before anything really crazy happens and instead Pedro is just allowing us to fall in love with his style and his characters. Quite a debut, and already a record that will likely be on our playlists for months to come.

Yesterday’s show feautred a few gremlins in the broadcast, though that’s been cleaned up for archiving. Quite a bit of newer tunes and many things that slipped through the cracks in 2012. Show begins with a short tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Civil Rights leader here in the US, and someone who we celebrate on this day. Playlist should be up tomorrow. Enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #113: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #113: Second Hour

The Dave Pell Singers – Oh Calcutta!
The Dave Pell Singers – Laughing
The Dave Pell Singers – Honky Tonk Women

Back in the early 1990s when I started out in radio, I was already pretty confident that I knew a thing or two about music. I deserved to be humbled just about every other week as I found more and more and more that I’d never heard before (even after almost 20 years as a DJ I’m still floored by how much music is actually out there just waiting to be heard).  One of the many head-blowing musical discoveries I made during that period of time was a well regarded collection of largely library music called the Sound Gallery.  I can’t remember entirely at this point, if I was asked to review it or if it came up during a “rotation” shift at Album 88, but I still remember how I felt the first time I heard “Oh Calcutta!” from the Dave Pell Singers.  Utter disbelief.  I was convinced that it wasn’t an actual group from the 1960s, but instead a clever ruse perpetrated by members of St. Etienne and/or Stereolab.  Something about the way the rhythm rolls out reminded me of those bands at that time, let alone the purring female vocals that sound exactly like Sarah Cracknell.  When I finally ran into some records from the Dave Pell Singers, I figured it had to be the real deal.

Strangely, I’d never run into the record that features that lovely song until just recently.  Most of the record is not my cup of tea, far too easy listening.  But there are some nice moments, mostly because of the band that’s backing the singers.  I’d always thought this was a British group with British players, but hearing those drums on “Calcutta” and “Laughing” it’s really hard not to believe that Earl Palmer is not playing on this album.  Something in the sound of those drums reminds me too much of Palmer’s legendary work with David Axelrod from this same period of time.  Perhaps it’s all in my head, just as the St. Etienne conspiracy was, but you never know…one day someone may even track down an instrumental version of this record and that will be a most happy day.



p.s.  this is also the record that includes this:

…which might also remind you of this if you’re over the age of 30:

The Amazing – Flashlight

Despite all my best efforts, it seems there are always some amazing records that slip through the cracks from year to year. In this case, this was literally true, with Swedish outfit The Amazing’s album Gentle Stream. The Amazing have a very familiar sound, courtesy of Reine Fiske and Johan Holmegrad who are both members of one of my favorite contemporary bands Dungen (that duo also turned up in ANOTHER record that I missed from 2012, the more jazz oriented Svenska Kaputt). Needless to say it’s a sound that I’m very much enamored with even though The Amazing have a bit less neo-psych style going on and fall a bit more on the pastoral indie-rock side of things. In addition to missing hearing and playing this record, I’m really kicking myself that I missed them performing here in LA back in November. This video for “Gone” (featuring Moussa Fadera on drums instead of Holmegrad but absolutely no drop off in style or sound) gives a bit of a taste of what was missed and what is still yet to come.

First shows of the year are often difficult just because there’s not a lot of new music out at the very start of a new year. Today’s show was made more difficult because we lost our first major musician of 2013 in “Sweet” Lou Wilson of Mandrill. Our first hour was focused on a few newer and upcoming bits of music as well as a couple of things that slipped through the cracks in 2012. Second hour is devoted to some of my favorite tracks from Mandrill, all of which feature “Sweet Lou” on vocals, trumpet or percussion. Had a little technical difficulty with the first hour of the program, but thankfully everything worked out fine for the tribute to Lou Wilson of Mandrill in the second hour. I’ll add the first when I get a solid dub of the program later in the week.

Melting Pot on KPFK #112: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-13-2013
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Melody’s Echo Chamber – Some Time Alone, Alone – Melody’s Echo Chamber (Fat Possum)
Nosaj Thing feat. Kazu Makino – Eclipse/Blue – Home (Innovative Leisure)
Alpha feat. Hannah Collins – Cilla – Eleventh Trip (Don’t Touch)
Rodriguez – I Think Of You – Cold Fact (Light In The Attic)
Svenska Kaputt – Trolestlolesa Talerar – Svenska Kaputt (Moserobie)

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The Amazing – Flashlight – Gentle Stream (Partisan)
Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves – Among The Leaves (Caldo Verde)
Toro y Moi – SO Many Details – Anything In Return (Carpark)
Procedures – Give Me One More Chance – Eccentric Soul: Omnibus (Numero)

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Wganda Kenya – Shakalode – Diablos Del Ritmo (Analog Africa)
The Budos Band – Scorpion – II (Daptone)
Adrian Younge w/ William Hart of the Delfonics – Love’s Melody – Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics (Wax Poetics)

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Mandrill – Mandrill – Mandrill (Polydor)
Mandrill – Mango Meat – Just Outside Of Town (Polydor)
Mandrill – Fencewalk/Hagalo – Composite Truth (Polydor)
Mandrill – Lord OF The Golden Baboon – Mandrill Is (Polydor)
Mandrill – Silk – Solid (UA)

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Mandrill – Two Sisters Of Mercy – Just Outside Of Town (Polydor)
Mandrill – Peace and Love – Mandrill (Polydor)

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Mandrill – Love Song – Just Outside Of Town (Polydor)
Mandrill – Moroccan Nights – Composite Truth (Polydor)
Mandrill – I Refuse To Smile – Mandrill Is (Polydor)

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Mandrill – Chutney – Mandrill (Polydor)

Breakdown: Top 5 Songs of 2012

January 11th, 2013

Here is the final post in this week long look back at 2012’s year in music on Melting Pot, focused on the best songs I heard last year.   For the most part this was an easy list to put together.  Amongst the hundreds of songs I heard, four were absolute no-brainers.  When it came time to pick that final track though, I was hard-pressed to choose a final song.  There were a lot of songs that I felt very strongly about for that final spot, ultimately going with the one that affected most at an emotional level, as is often the case.  So here we are, we say goodbye to 2012 with Melting Pot’s Top 5 Songs of the year, let me know what you’re favorites were of the past year here or on our facebook page!

 **Honorable Mentions:  Sureshot Symphony Solution – “Mr. Fortune & Fame” & “Chair On The Ceiling,” Michael Kiwanuka – “Tell Me A Tale,” Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn with Dennis Coffey – “Lovely Lady,” Big K.R.I.T – “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” Robert Glasper Experiment feat. King – “Move Love,” Spain – “I Love You,” Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro – “Magdalena,” Ana Tijoux – “Shock,” Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti feat. Dam-Funk – “Baby”

5. Sun Kil Moon – “Black Kite” – Among The Leaves (Caldo Verde)

Sun Kil Moon – Black Kite

Among The Leaves is an interesting record for Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek.  While he’s known as a guy who writes and performs epic songs about matters of the heart, and there’s certainly a fair amount of that on the release, the record also finds him giving himself over completely to all sorts of whimsical musings, mostly about women he seems to have met on the road (just the titles, let alone the lyrics of “The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman vs. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man” and “Not Much Rhymes With Everything’s Awesome at All Times” should give you a sense of what I mean).  Deeply embedded amongst the ephemera of the release is one of my favorite tracks from this period of Kozelek’s work, “Black Kite.”

Since his shift to nylon-stringed guitar, Kozelek’s skill as a guitarist has never been more evident.  Just based on the guitar playing alone “Black Kite” would be noteworthy, but for me what draws me in is the ambiguity of the song lyrically.  After a hundred or more listenings, I’m still not sure what to make of “Black Kite,” it has some of the same seemingly disconnected observational musings of other songs on Among The Leaves, held together by a search for someone and the appearance of a Black Kite in the sky that is following the narrator.  The song seems to have a wistful character to it, but there’s something about that reappearance of the “Black Kite” towards the end, sung three times in-between the final two verses that also seems to be filled with dread.   There are multiple ways to read this, is this a kite that is flown by someone (which was my original thinking) or is the Black kite a reference to the bird, which looks a bit like a hawk to untrained eyes and is found throughout Eastern hemisphere and is most ominously associated with the Egyptian goddess Isis, who would take the form of a Black Kite in order to resurrect the dead.  No matter the reference there’s something that troubles me about that Black Kite, something that fascinates me about it’s meaning and in addition to the gorgeous guitar work on display, keeps me coming back to this song to try to decipher it’s meaning.

4. Shintaro Sakamoto – “You Just Decided” – How To Live With A Phantom  (Other Music)

Shintaro Sakamoto – You Just Decided

“You Just Decided” was the song that pushed Shintaro Sakamoto’s record from a good record into one of my favorites of the year.  As I said virtually every time I played the record on the air, there’s a breezy funk in this song that reminds me not only of 1970s work from the likes of the Mizell Bros., but also especially the heyday of the acid jazz movement in the 1990s, a period of time I hold very dear to my heart and which coincided with my musical awakening as a young man in Atlanta.   It’s impossible not to move and groove to this song, impossible to feel bad while hearing it (though since I don’t know Japanese, I honestly have no idea what the lyrics are and how they connect to the title).  This entire write-up for this song was not only done in rhythm, but while I was dancing side to side as I typed, often with my eyes closed, which is when you know I’m really digging on the music.  “You Just Decided” also wins hands down for the most trippy and smile inducing video of the year.

3. Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn feat. Rebecca Jordan – “It’s Me” – Something About April (Wax Poetics)

Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn feat. Rebecca Jordan – It’s Me

While I most immediately gravitated to the Charles Stepney styled “Two Hearts Combine” and admit that “Lovely Lady” has some truly fine moments featuring Loren Oden’s falsetto and Dennis Coffey’s guitar.  The song that grabbed me the most from my favorite record of the year was also the shortest vocal song on the album, “It’s Me.”  At various times throughout the year, I’d have this one on repeat as I was driving around LA.  It’s one of the songs that best showcases the “post-Hip-Hop” sensibilities of Adrian Younge’s very distinctive retro “dark” soul sound.   Part of it comes through in the instrumentation, heavy bass and drums, fuzzy guitar and washes organ.  But as is the case with Adrian’s work, it’s more about the way in which all these various elements come together that draws you in, in the totality of the song and from moment to moment.

Nothing this year was more thrilling to hear than the blissfully short and extra hard breakdown that happens 1 minute and 20 seconds into the song.  There’s no real logical reason for that break to be there.  I don’t know what possessed Adrian to put it there, but damn it hits hard.  Those brief seconds of drums, organ and bass, seem to make the rest of the song sound even funkier even though nothing has actually changed.  Just fascinating the attention to detail and attention to how things should sound on display on “It’s Me” and throughout the album.

The vocal performance is also a major highlight.  In the way that Rebecca Jordan shifts from a breathy tenderness when singing “we kissed under the stars, we know just who we are,”  to more of almost an angry tone as she brings it back down with “it’s me, just let me be, it’s us, sorry to see two fools for love” you get the feeling that this song is a kiss off.  Sort of a “it’s not you, it’s me” break-up kind of a song.  However, in the context of the concept of the album, the rise and fall of an extra-marital interracial relationship in the 1960s, as well as it’s placement on the record as the second song (and a full two songs before “Two Hearts Combine” which has the feel of the moment where the relationship is fully realized), we have to consider this as a song about the confusion associated with the beginning of this multiply muddled relationship.  There’s nothing muddled at all about the way I feel about this music, and I can’t wait for even more from Adrian Younge and company in 2013 and beyond.

2.  Michael Kiwanuka – “Rest” – Home Again  (Cherrytree/Polydor/Interscope)

Michael Kiwanuka – Rest

“Tell Me A Tale” was the first song that I heard from Michael Kiwanuka and it’s certainly a fantastic song, one that insistently requires you to pay attention to it at every turn.  But anyone with ears and heart would surely agree that Kiwanuka’s finest work on his debut has to be the tender ballad “Rest.”  As with many of the other songs on this list, there’s such a careful attention to detail and sound, from the long notes produced on the guitars, the shuffling funk of the beat underneath to the unexpected sweeps and swoons of the strings.  Lyrically the song calls to mind a major hit form one of the artists Kiwanuka is often compared to, Bill Withers and his classic “Lean On Me.” “Rest” seems even more personally directed, more tenderly and lovingly sung.  A track not sung to a friend fallen on hard times, but instead to your love as assurance that you will be there to carry them should they need you.  Just plain gorgeous.

1. Allo Darlin’ – “Tallulah” – Europe  (Slumberland)

Allo Darlin’ – Tallulah

It’s fitting that I first heard Allo Darlin’ in the summer, since “Tallulah” has summer song written all over it.  But unlike most summer songs that are about falling in love, sunshine and reverie, this is an end of summer track.  These tend to be more plaintive, sometimes a bit sad and always seem to be related to reminiscing about the past or about how things could have been.  Elizabeth Morris wraps up all of that and more into the almost five minutes of “Tallulah.”  Armed with only her unamplified ukulele and her absolutely darling voice, Morris spins a tale built on memories and musings.  A summer drive, a letter written on a night out on the town with friends,  linked together by the redemptive power of music, from finding a tape of Tallulah Gosh or a bar playing Toots & the Maytals.  After these moments of reminiscing, Morris hits on a stunner of self-reflection.

I wondering if I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something,
And, I’m wondering if I’ve already met all the people that’ll mean something,

It’s a profound question, something that is often unsaid for many people in their youth and a question that many only find the answer to when you’re at the end of your life.  Implicit here is also a question, do you choose to move on with your life, or do you consider that what you’ve had in the past is the best that you’ll ever have and try to get it back. Morris seems to know her answer as she ends by fully engaging with the present, asking the unnamed person she’s been singing to if they’d like to go back to the places of their past, “when I’m finished over here, if you’re not finished with me.”

There’s a sadness in the sentiment of this song, Morris is clearly wishing she had appreciated the moments of her past more than she had, clearly wishing that she made her feelings more known or fought harder to keep alive a relationship that ultimately fell apart, perhaps due to distance.  But the song is also strangely hopeful with those final lines and crystal clear visualization of cherished moments of the past.  “Tallulah” is a rare thing, a love song that has as much potential to mend a broken heart as it does to leave you endlessly longing for something that will never come back to you, or forces you to come to grips with a truth that leaves you even more heartbroken than before.  No matter how it ends for Morris, “Tallulah” is absolutely the best thing I heard all year long and might end up as one of the best songs of this decade when it’s all said and done.

All week long here on Melting Pot we’ve been taking a look at the year in music for 2012. Today’s post focuses on the best new releases I heard in 2012. As has been the case the last couple of years, this was the easiest list to put together, with very clear personal favorites (perhaps, thankfully, largely out of step with general consensus favorites) and a slew of other very good records. Thinking about why this might be the case a bit more than previous years, I think being at KPFK definitely has an effect on this. Not having a working library or a highly organized music department has the drawback of not getting a full sense of everything that is out there and it comes out and, especially in one particular case on this list, it means that I’m very late to the party with records that should be on my radar immediately. However, the benefit of having to hustle for each and every single bit of the music you play on the radio is that when I look for music, I really only mess around with the stuff that I think is really good, instead of bowing to industry pressures or the tastes of others. So, with further adieu, here are my top 5 new releases for 2012.

***Honorable Mentions: Kelan Phil Cohran & the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Kelan Phil Cohran & the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (Honest Jon’s), Sureshot Symphony Solution – Elegant Aggression (Nature Sounds), Allo Darlin’ – Europe (Slumberland), Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro – Look Around The Corner (Tru Thoughts), Menahan Street Band – The Crossing (Dunham/Daptone)

5. Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again – Cherrytree/Polydor/Interscope

Michael Kiwanuka – Any Day Will Do Fine

Michael Kiwanuka was one of several bright young stars to emerge over the past year after the 2011 release of his Tell Me A Tale EP spread like wildfire from across the UK to the States and likely every where else…except to me. I was VERY late on the Kiwanuka train, with my former midnight brethren on KCRW beginning to play him in May 2011, I didn’t hop on board until January of this year. Kiwanuka is a rare talent. A gifted singer and songwriter with a distinctive voice, that is evocative of others, without actually sounding like others. His sound looks to the past for inspiration, but isn’t completely anchored in a single style. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than on “Tell Me A Tale,” which begins with a weightless, breezy sound of flutes, guitars and drums that might remind the listener of Traffic, Astral Weeks era Van Morrison or Nick Cave, until those horns come in which give the song a rougher edge. Then comes the shift, so abrupt it’s as if you just walked into another room of music. It shouldn’t work, but I can’t imagine one side of the song without the other. While “Tale” is an unqualified highlight, it’s not even the best song on the album (which as you’ll find out tomorrow is “Rest”). From start to finish one of the most satisfying and stunning debuts in recent memory.

4. Ana Tijoux – La Bala – Nacional

Ana Tijoux – Shock

Original Post

I might be in the minority in this thinking, but 2012 did not seem like a particularly strong year for Hip-Hop. There were some solid releases, but few standouts that you could put up against the best of years past. Ana Tijoux’s La Bala was an exception, a truly exceptional and varied Spanish language Hip-Hop release that shows growth from an artist who we thought was already on top of her game. Few artists in the history of the genre have as easily balanced social commentary, fierceness, tenderness and lyrical and musical excellence the way that Tijoux has and we are very lucky to bear witness to her seemingly ever rising star.

3. Shintaro Sakamoto – How To Live With A Phantom – Other Music

Shintaro Sakamoto – My Memories Fade

Original Post

This one was quite a nice surprise. Shintaro Sakamoto’s debut arrived with several other releases, mostly psychedelic and avant-garde soundtrack and reissue work and from the look of it I was expecting something more along those lines. Funny thing is, if I had heard of Sakamoto’s prior band, Yura Yura Teikoku, that’s exactly the style of music I should have been expecting from this artist. Instead Sakamoto threw us a bit of curve ball and produced a record of slinky funk and glamish rock sounds that would be as welcome in the mid-1970s as it would have been at the height of the acid jazz movement in the 1990s. One of the most consistently enjoyable listening experiences of 2012 and this year’s “Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover” winner.

2. Dirty Three – Toward The Low Sun – Drag City

Dirty Three – Ashen Snow

Original Post

Perhaps I’m genetically predisposed to have included Australia’s Dirty Three in this list. As is clear from dedicating my 100th show entirely to the band, they are a very long-time favorite. After 7 entirely too long years there were many directions the band could have gone. After reuniting and performing their legendary album Ocean Songs at a few festivals, they might have produced something a similarly epic and elegiac. Or they could have continued with the trend from their most recent record until this one, 2005’s Cinder which saw them scale things down and incorporate vocalists to a much higher degree. Perhaps, pushed by Warren Ellis’ recent work with Grinderman, they would come out roaring and burn our ears with sonic fury. Toward The Low Sun in some ways achieved all these things, which is not an easy task, bringing together the terrifyingly ferocious (“Furnace Skies”) with the wistfully melancholic “Sometimes I Forget You’re Gone” to the stridently elegant “Rising Below” as well as the majestically rocking (“That Was Was”) and all the way back to the heartbreakingly beautiful (“You Greet Her Ghost” and one of the best songs the band has ever produced, “Ashen Snow”). Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait another 7 years for more music (or a return trip to Los Angeles!) from this magnificent band.

1.Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn – Something About April – Wax Poetics

Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn – Two Hearts Combine

Original Post

Something About April was one of the first records I heard in 2012. A lot of times with records that come out at the beginning of the year are lost in the flood of releases that follow, but that was not the case with this record. Overall, Adrian Younge was a presence that was hard to ignore over the past year. In a lot of ways, 2012 was the year of Adrian Younge, as also scored the music for the Black Dynamite animated series, did guest work on several releases (including Gaslamp Killer’s debut Breakthrough and a scintillating EP with Adrian Quesada) and recorded two other full-length records, one with William Hart of the Delfonics and the other backing Ghostface Killan (both to be released here in 2013)! Along with contemporaries on the East Coast in the Daptone family and here on the west coast with groups like Connie Price & the Keystones and Breakestra, Adrian Younge has a very careful attention to sound in presenting his own take on what might be described as “retro-soul.” Using largely vintage equipment helps to get the sound just “right,” but there’s much more at work here than simply attempting to recreate the styles of the past. In a lot of ways Something About April could be described as a “Post Hip-Hop” album. While there are moments, such as “Two Hearts” that to a degree evoke Charles Stepney’s production work with Rotary Connection and others, the crispness of the drums and the open-ness of the breaks speak to someone not only fascinating with the sound of older music, but hearing it through particular ears that have been attuned to listen in particular ways that comes from growing up with Hip-Hop. That sound is the culmination of a man who musical gifts largely emerged out of frustration with the inability of sampling technology to produce what he could hear in his mind, so he taught himself to play many many instruments. When that wasn’t enough he actually created instruments, such as the Celeste, which is kind of like a super-sized (in terms of what it can do) Mellotron. Without a doubt there wasn’t a single new record last year that I listened to more often to, sang along to more often (though I can’t always hit those Loren Oden high notes!), nodded my head to more often or was more responsible for almost snapping my neck just because of how hard and tight those drums were throughout than this one right here. Absolutely the best record of 2012.

Melting Pot’s Top 5 Reissues for 2012!

All this week we’re focusing on the best music we heard in 2012. Today’s post looks at the top reissues from the past year, truly a banner year for reissued material from around the world, but particularly from some sought after and long-cherished artists. Here are my picks for the top 5 reissues of 2012, let me know your picks here on the blog or on our facebook page!

***Honorable Mentions: Country Funk: 1969-1975 (Light In The Attic), The Best of Perception & Today Records: Funk, Soul, Breaks, Jazz, Latin & Rock From One Of NYC’s Finest Underground Labels (BBE), Wendy Rene – After Laughter Comes Tears: Complete Stax & Volt Singles + Rarities 1964-1965 (Light In The Attic), Soul-Cal: Disco and Modern Soul Masterpieces 1971-1982 (Now-Again), Thom Janusz – Ronn Forella…Moves!(Luv’n’Haight/Ubiquity), Donnie & Joe Emerson – Dreamin’ Wild (Light In The Attic), Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 (Chocolate Industries)

5. Eccentric Soul: Omnibus Vol. 1 (Numero Group)

The Procedures – Give Me One More Chance

Original Post

First came Light On The Southside, then the Syl Johnson Complete Mythology then last year’s expansive Boddie Recording Co., set. At some point you’d think that we’d stop saying “How are they going to top this?” But for three years running, amazingly, Numero has. Another year and another marvel from the folks at Chicago’s Numero group. What better way to mark the 45th release of the label than with a box set featuring 45 45s…every one of them a gem, most never before reissued, or at least not issued on 7” wax. You could spend a lifetime of digging and a minor fortune collecting all of these records (and I’m sure some purists out there are certainly going to try). Simply dynamite and just when you think they couldn’t possible top this one, by calling this “Vol. 1” they’ve already got us guessing about Vol. 2 and beyond!

4. Listen Whitey: The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic)

The Lumpen – Free Bobby Now!

Original Post

Light In The Attic had possibly the best year of any label, reissue or otherwise, in 2012. They celebrated their 10th anniversary with a really ambitious slate of releases, virtually every single one a winner (just look above, almost half of the honorable mentions are from LITA!). This collection of music associated with and inspired by the Black Power movement remained one of my favorites since it first hit my hands in February. It’s not a perfect collection (though from our conversation with Pat Thomas, there will be further volumes, particularly highlighting the jazz music created during this period which is completely absent from this set) but it does include such a wealth of obscured tracks that it was impossible to ignore when putting together this list. While there have been a few collections to highlight the music associated with the Civil Rights Movement, this particular moment, more intense, more confrontational and more militant hadn’t really been fully accounted for. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for that Lumpen 45, I still can’t believe that after 8 ½ years of living in Oakland I was never able to turn it up! Bringing back Bob Dylan’s acoustic version of “George Jackson,” a song as powerful as any of his vaunted protest tunes also more than justifies this collection being on this list.

3.  Tim Maia – Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia (Luaka Bop)

Tim Maia – Que Beleza

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Very much a no-brainer, considering what a cherished artist Tim Maia is for me. While I do still wish that Luaka Bop had included tracks from his first two albums, they more than make up for any shortcomings of this set with the wealth of material from his mid-1970s output. You should probably still track down all of his post-1973 Lps, but what you’ll find is that truly the best tracks are included here (with possibly the exception of the 1973 LP which I featured here at this blog’s founding). Finally, the godfather of Brazilian Soul music gets the acclaim he deserves!

2.  Loving On The Flipside: Sweet Funk and Heavy Soul Ballads 1969-1977 (Now-Again)

Rhythm Machine – Whatcha Gonna Do

A major part of the reason this record places this high is deeply personal. That’s not to discount the quality of the music or lovingly put together packaging, but there’s no way to escape that much of my connection to the style of music presented on Loving On The Flipside relates to the passing of my friend Matthew Africa. Many of the best songs on this collection first found their way to my ears via Matthew’s fantastic Soul Boulders mixes. Listening to this music helped in ways I can’t fully express to deal with the grief of losing one of major music mentors and a friend who I wished I had been much closer to in recent years. It also helped to solve several mysteries of Soul Boulders 2 which did not include any tracklisting. When I first heard “Whatcha Gonna Do” from Rhythm Machine, I was convinced that many of the effects were added by Matthew and B. Cause, but actually they were there in the mix to begin with. Egon also does us all a major favor by tracking down an extended mix of Thomas East’s “Slipping Around” where everything falls away and all you’re left with are glorious funky drums until everything comes back to slowly burn away. A cherished addition to my collection.

1. Can – The Lost Tapes (Mute)

Can – Dead Pigeon Suite

Despite the sentimental pull of Loving On The Flipside, I cannot deny (and likely Matthew Africa wouldn’t either) that the most momentous and amazing collection of music I heard in 2012 was this astounding 3 CD box set featuring unreleased music from German heavyweights Can. Over the past several years we’ve seen similar archeological work going on, where someone literally stumbles upon recordings that never saw the light of day. There are echoes of songs that were released, “Dead Pigeon Suite” has elements of “Vitamin C” loosened up and sprawled out over 12 minutes. “A Swan Is Born” has all the makings of an early version “Sing Swan Song” which is one of my favorite Can tracks. Perhaps, truthfully, there’s too much of a good thing spread out throughout all three discs, and a single release of just the best tracks would be stronger. But how would you make the decision? I’m firmly in the camp that Damo Suzuki “led” Can is it’s best material, but the tracks that feature Malcolm Mooney on this set are more than worthy of inclusion, as are the instrumental numbers here from after Suzuki left the band. I’ve exclusively focused on the studio material when I’ve played tracks from this on my radio show, but the live material gives you an even stronger sense of what a powerhouse Can was at their height. I appreciate and applaud the decision to include all of the material, perhaps as a final emptying out of the Can closet. Can was/is an extraordinary band, getting the chance to hear new music from their “heroic” period, that had never been heard before and that we’d never thought we ever get is truly the stuff of legends and exactly why this release deserves the top spot for reissues in 2012.

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