David Guetta’s Dance Music Melting Pot

People were so busy comparing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” earlier this year that they didn’t notice the similarities between the lead single from Gaga’s new album and French DJ/producer David Guetta’s 2009 Kelly Rowland collaboration “When Love Takes Over.” Indeed, when you strip both artists down to their sonics, the cultural revolution represented by Guetta’s two most recent records could be potentially more significant than anything yet manifested by Gaga. Continue reading “David Guetta’s Dance Music Melting Pot”

Live: The Boogaloo! Party Keeps It Moving at Nublu

Boogaloo! with Spanglish Fly, DJ Turmix
Friday, July 8

Better than: Paying twice as much to watch the same crowd drink and not dance.

It could have been a disaster — subway service to Loisaida was screwed up (again), it was raining, one of the club’s turntables was on the fritz, the band had had mere hours to warn Facebook fans to feed their own heads since the club would serve no booze due to a sudden (but temporary) problem with their liquor license. Not only did people from different age groups, classes, races, and boroughs come, they cheerfully paid to dance their asses off in a dry bar roughly the size and shape of a large railroad flat. Continue reading “Live: The Boogaloo! Party Keeps It Moving at Nublu”

More Than Words: Going Polyglot With Concha Buika and Les Nubians

In the ’60s and ’70s danceable jazz-pop in foreign languages made American radio more exciting: Jorge Ben’s “Mas Que Nada” charted when recorded by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66; it was followed by Miriam Makeba’s remake of “Pata Pata” in 1967, Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” when covered by Santana in 1970, and Manu Dibango’s irresistible “Soul Makossa” in 1972. Something about each single’s arrangements, rhythms, and vocals allowed these crossover miracles to seduce stateside listeners who only understand English. Continue reading “More Than Words: Going Polyglot With Concha Buika and Les Nubians”

The Rebirth Brass Band Bring Their Brashness to “Treme”

During the first episode of HBO’s Treme, members of the Rebirth Brass Band and the show’s trombone-playing character Antoine Batiste end a jazz parade in front of a neighborhood bar owned by Batiste’s ex-wife, LaDonna Batiste-Williams. The uncomfortable nature of their reunion is underscored when the younger band members try to flirt by asking why she left Antoine. “You wanna know what went wrong?” she replies, dryly. “Married a goddamned musician. Ain’t no way to make that shit right!” Continue reading “The Rebirth Brass Band Bring Their Brashness to “Treme””

Rise of the Anachronauts

On Dan Hicks, Leonard Cohen, Etta James, and other fearless time travelers

I call them anachronauts: performers whose core appeal stems from their ability to transport listeners to another time and place. Whereas ordinary pop stars strive to intensify awareness of the present moment so that nothing else matters, anachronauts use archaic language, modes, and instrumentation to expand our egocentric understanding of the present with illuminating reminders of forgotten history. Continue reading “Rise of the Anachronauts”

GlobalFest Surges On

A worldly showcase flourishes, recession notwithstanding

GlobalFest showcases so much high-quality talent that artists accustomed to headlining elsewhere can find themselves opening this three-stage marathon to less-than-capacity crowds. But not in vain. Magnificent early sets by Ghanian neo-highlife combo the Occidental Brothers and New Orleans’ resplendent Hot 8 Brass Band were streamed live to Internet millions via WNYC and NPR radio, which will also offer Sunday’s performances for download beginning this Friday. Continue reading “GlobalFest Surges On”

Janet Jackson’s Dungeon Master Chic

Why it’s still as vital and revolutionary as ever

Janet Jackson

Sure, Madonna repeatedly toyed with BDSM in her videos, but she never publicly admitted to breast and genital piercings like Miss Jackson did. So, in case you weren’t tipped off from the Velvet Rope tour onwards, Janet’s innocuous Dream Street ingenue had to die so a baby dominatrix could be born—one with enough foot-stomping power and petulance to bend bossy parents, nasty boys, and the pleasure principle itself to her indomitable will. Now, seven studio albums later, Discipline reiterates the premise of Control, but as its fully mature apotheosis. Back in 1986, her stylized defiance always sounded a little playful, like a Sesame Street routine. But 2008’s Dungeon Master Janet delivers id-riddled pop-funk that’s as serious as a heart attack and marks a truly impressive transformation. It’s not every day that an NAACP Image Award winner outs herself as a genuinely kinky girl who believes that hard work and focus turn pain into pleasure. Continue reading “Janet Jackson’s Dungeon Master Chic”

The Public Enemy Remix Project’s “Bring the Noise” b/w “Give It Up”

Although techno (and its subsequent sub-genres) is now associated more with its white European exponents than its black American progenitors, Ultra Records’ new series of Public Enemy remixes (finally available in CD form this week) will remind you as much of Todd Terry and Derrick May as Paul Van Dyk or Ti DJ/remixers Don Diablo and Ferry Corsten (both Dutch), along with Benny Benassi (Italian), have updated two trenchant hip-hop manifestos for optimum exposure on multicultural dance floors around the globe. Continue reading “The Public Enemy Remix Project’s “Bring the Noise” b/w “Give It Up””

More Melting Pot Jams From Jovial L.A. Hip-Churners

Don’t Mess With the Dragon

If you’re a giddy optimist like me, you hope to one day hear Ozomatli’s cheerfully rebellious politi-pop wafting from every car radio in New York City. Don’t Mess With the Dragon is a celebration of their native L.A. in all its multicultural vibrancy and socioeconomic volatility. Singing in both English and Spanish, toying with Tower of Power horn fills during “City of Angels,” paying homage to the polymorphous funk of New Orleans during “Magnolia Soul,” and lobbing tight rhymes amid their jam-band virtuosity throughout, Ozo’s 10-man crew salute the aural mosaic of ethnic signifiers that makes our country great. Continue reading “More Melting Pot Jams From Jovial L.A. Hip-Churners”

Various Blues Interpretations, From the Nuanced to the Masochistic


The Holmes Brothers
State of Grace

Coco Montoya
Dirty Deal

Vesta Williams
Distant Lover

When Led Zep covered Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie’s “When the Levee Breaks,” they thought they were making “rock ‘n’ roll.” When the Pointer Sisters covered Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” they thought they were making “pop soul.” And when Kanye West looped a famous Ray Charles riff, he thought he was making “hip-hop.” This only goes to show how the blues has always been wide and dynamic enough to contain and/or presage almost every subsequent American musical style. So naturally, these three albums manage to sound very different but remain recognizable as fruit or flower of the same tree. Continue reading “Various Blues Interpretations, From the Nuanced to the Masochistic”