The Definite Article

There is a quiz today at Slate called Does This Band’s Name Start With The?

I did very badly on the quiz, but got the last question right, which led to this band that I’d heard of but had never listened to.

This is a San Francisco band from the 90s that I think still mittens on. This clip is the entirety of their seventh elpee, which I’m listening to as I type, and which I’m liking quite a bit. Retro, but also fresh. Good rockin’ sounds that could spiral into dancey camp, like the B-52s, but don’t. Unfortunately cute name, however.

Mainland, Leave the Lights On

Very Strokes-ish, which means it sounds pretty good. It’s two years old, and would be a welcome sound on the radio. On the other hand, could there be a worse band name than Mainland?

Listening to other tunes, they are pretty good at mining the same commercial rock vein as the Strokes, but the rhythm section doesn’t hit quite as hard, and the songs aren’t quite as good. And the arrangements can veer toward, ugh, the commercial crap we try to avoid (and ambitious rockers sell their souls to achieve).

But this one just dropped, and apart from the fake English accent it’s pretty jangly and rocking.


The Traditional Fools, a medley

So, came across this band tonight. A few years old, so not new, and referencing old music mostly, but trying more.

This song, Please, is like a soul cover, but it might be an original.

This is catchy. A real cover.

I like this one because it starts out like a Crystals song, though it goes in a different direction. But there is a lot of music, harmonies and arrangement going on here. And maybe I’m thinking of the Shangri-las.

Chazz Kaster Profile in the Nashville Scene

Who Da Fug is Chazz Kaster? Well, um, the killer guitarist in Hans Condor. The only rock ‘n’ roll band left in this world alive.

Screenshot 2016-06-22 00.13.26Kaster broke up the Condor a few years back because he became a dad, and because he was a dad he became a cop. Weird, eh?

But after some time spent in the Halls of Justice Nashville style, he gave up his badge and went back to bartending.

Plus playing kick-ass guitar in a great rock n roll band with better and cleverer songs than other rock bands.

You can read the profile here.

The odds of me getting to Nashville are slim. The band is in North Carolina this weekend, but that’s no better.

I want to see these guys live. That’s all I can say.

I think you can find most of their recorded work on this site if you search Hans Condor, but here’s a little reprise for those who are wondering what the fuss is about.

Here’s the coda to a tune:

Here’s their excellent music video, supporting their album, with a fine rock n roll song:



Maren Morris, My Church

Lots and lots of music sounds derivative of some other music. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, evoking the thought, Why bother? But other times the song is so right it feels absolutely fresh and absolutely classic at the same, which is the case with this new country song.

What’s extra-funny about this tune is that it is paean to listening to FM radio in the car, which is not the religious experience it once was (unless one finds one of those rare stations practicing the free form format).

Form meets function in My Church. I can’t stop playing this.

Songhoy Blues, Al Hassidi Terei

Mali was the home of the great blues guitarist, Ali Farka Toure, who channelled John Lee Hooker from across the water and brought him back home to the deserts near Timbuktu.

Songhoy Blues were formed by north-Mali musicians exiled to Bamako in the south by jihadists who banned western music in their appropriated shariahland up north. There’s a movie out about the exile of the musicians of Mali, called They Will Have To Kill Us First, which features Songhoy Blues.

I started watching this tune because of the colorful and appealing video, but I’m a sucker for Africans from all over the continent playing electric guitars, so I share this guitar music here.

Their first single was produced by one of the guys from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the video seems to have been recorded in a Soho loft in New York City. This is a rockier tune.

Pierre Kwenders at Lincoln Center

pierrekwendersatlincolncenterI went with some friends to see Pierre Kwenders at a small room off Broadway called the David Rubenstein Atrium last night. They regularly program free shows in the atrium, and this was the first I’ve gone to.

Kwenders is from Kinshasa, Congo, and now lives in Montreal. His band, three young Quebecois, play guitar and keyboards, various drums, and dj. It’s this last that was a little problematic. Being able to fire samples of strings and horns and chants distorts the small band vibe. Not that this world music wasn’t lush and gorgeous, it was, but when all that recording came to fore things started to sound more like a Peter Gabriel record than a four-piece band on a small stage playing for a couple hundred people. Live became qualified.

The best songs were popping and angular, with a little space between beats. Kwenders is a crooked and crafty dancer, a strong vocal presence in three languages (French, English and, maybe, Lingala–the predominant Kinshasa language), and a charming host. This was his first show ever in the US, and he got the decidedly mixed crowd (all ages, all colors, many nationalities) on their feet and singing and clapping along. The song that got us to the show was Mardi Gras, on record a Francophone hip hop hipster melange, but lacking the rap parts live seemed more a cajun lament.

Another good one was a raucous reggea-ish tribute to the Rumble in the Jungle called Ali Bomaye! This is a much sparer version than what the band played last night, but in a way the spareness is a tonic, an open window into Kwender’s lovely voice and lyrical songwriting.