Thundercat Drunk, Dark And Hypnotically Good

You might think hearing Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) sing about drunkenness, madness, the discriminatory police state, heartbreak, rejection, death and so on, would make you feel blue. But you’re probably wrong.

Despite its dark lyrical themes Thundercat’s third album Drunk in its whole sonic journey, somehow turns out to be a hypnotic, feel-good experience.

Thundercat - Drunk

Drunk (2017)

For starters any lyrical downers on the album are expressed by Thundercat straight up and honestly with refreshing kookiness and humour. There’s also a saving light to be found in the darkness as well as crazy space rides to be had, the joy of letting loose on anime and fish in Tokyo and the nine pleasurable lives of a cat hanging out in the sunshine. And more importantly, hearing Thundercat’s smooth falsetto voice singing those lyrics consistently over 23 tracks has the effect of lulling you into a hypnotic place of serenity, simple as that.

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Drunk is full of so many diversely weird and wonderful programmed beats care of Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus), Sounwave and Thundercat himself that you can’t help but feel you’re winning your way through a super-fun computer game. Add to that the living instrumental sounds of Thundercat on electric bass, Dennis Hamm on piano and saxophone by Kamasi Washington; plus vocal contributions by both likely and seemingly unlikely artists like Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald – and there you have your complete hypnotic, feel-good sonic experience.

Check out two sample tracks from Drunk below – with the usual ‘compressed-mp3-version’ warning. Get the real deal in hard copy from your local music store or direct from Brainfeeder so you don’t miss out on the pleasure of hearing all the many subtle sounds this album has to offer.

Show You The Way – Thundercat featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

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Walk On By – Thundercat featuring Kendrick Lamar

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Kingfisha – Offering Reggae Up Differently

After years in the making Brisbane band Kingfisha has finally released the second album Offered It Up. On it they deliver the sounds of reggae and dub differently to any Australian act associated with those genres, both past and present.

Kingfisha - Offered It Up

Offered It Up (2016)

That means none of its songs are formulaic or repetitive. And that Kingfisha aren’t trying to copy the sound of reggae from its original Jamaican source. Nor do their lyrics describe experiences of oppression far removed from their actual experiences within the privileged part of the world they live.

Instead each one of the ten songs on Offered It Up sounds different to the next. And within each one comes smooth-flowing changes galore; a diversity of sounds to keep your close attention and move you. Amongst them are some killer bass lines that hit you deep like you want the bass to do; and a whole lot of weird, wonderful, subtle and powerful synthesiser sounds seamlessly blended throughout to make this music so much more varied and special.

Another factor distinguishing Kingfisha and making their overall sound as refreshing as they come are the wide-ranging, sublime-sounding vocal melodies of singer/songwriter Anthony Forrest which seem more akin to a soul singer than your typical reggae vocalist.

Check out two sample tracks from Offered It Up, remembering they’re just compressed mp3 versions of the full sound recorded, and get your hard copy of the entire album here.

Kingfisha - Offered It Up

“Left It” by Kingfisha
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“Water Running” by Kingfisha

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Kingfisha tours regularly both at home in Australia and overseas. Keep an eye out for the live experience near you.

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and the Anonymous Nobody by De La Soul, finally

Put your hands up if you’ve been been waiting over a decade for De La Soul to deliver the new album fans excitedly starting funding last year. Keep them up if your expectations of how and the Anonymous Nobody would sound, have been building up during those years.

Well put ’em down. Cause expectations of music and in life generally, will only set you up for disappointment. And naturally the De La Soul music you know and loved so long ago is very different to the music delivered by the  trio in 2016 on and the Anonymous Nobody.

De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody

Heavy sampling has been replaced by the warm sounds of live instrumentalists with chops of gold. Skits are few and far between. And only a handful of the album’s 18 songs feature Posdnous, Maseo and Dave spitting rhymes front and centre.

This creation has a huge and diverse cast of contributors writing, producing, mixing, engineering, singing, rapping and playing on it. The results on many tracks are successful; on others, not. Hearing the album in its entirety feels like every so often someone’s gone and changed the radio station on you. Sometimes your happy to stay there; but occasionally you wanna scream at that person to change it back.

Those wanting De La Soul music reminiscent of yesteryear will find some satisfaction – most likely in songs like “Property of Spitkicker.com” (featuring Roc Marciano), “Pain” (featuring Snoop Dogg), “CBGB’s”, “Sexy Bitch” and “Trainwreck”. They’ll also likely appreciate that long-time De La collaborator Bob Power mixes some tracks.

Folks with broader tastes in music will probably find greater happiness amongst the smorgasbord of sounds. It might come from the guitar-heavy song “Lord Intended” – proclaimed vocally by Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) as “the hardest rock shit you gonna hear”, a grand statement that just ain’t quite right. Or maybe it’ll be found in the dreamy song “Drawn” – a killer collaboration between De La Soul and Sweden’s Little Dragon. Fans of Jill Scott talkin’ Love will certainly find themselves some extra goodness. Unfortunately even those with the broadest of musical taste might feel the same pain as me when the and the Anonymous Nobody radio-shuffle lands on a commercial station for five very long minutes with Usher singing “Greyhounds”.

But importantly, peeps like me who revere and cherish the sounds of funk will still thank De La Soul for helping to keep them alive in 2016. They’ll understand and especially appreciate this here song “Nosed Up”.

“Nosed Up” – and the Anonymous Nobody

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“Royalty Capes” –  and the Anonymous Nobody

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No matter what your experience when hearing and the Anonymous Nobody; whether you want to skip one, none or lots of its tracks, I’m sure of two things. That we should be forever thankful for De La Soul and all the music they’ve ever created for our listening and dancing pleasure. And with a killer band of instrumentalists now in tow, the most sublime of De La Soul experiences in 2016 will be found at a live show.

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Orishas Reunited For New Album

Orishas only did two things that troubled me during their 11 years together creating stunning, one-of-a-kind Cuban hip hop music. The first was featuring Pitbull on one of their tracks “Quien Te Dijo” – and there ain’t no way of ever undoing that.

The second and much more devastating thing was their decision to split up in 2010.  All five Orishas albums have been on high listening and dancing rotation since- well and truly part of my Love & Appreciate For Forever-After Music Collection. But each listen still made me wish for new Orishas music to add to it (I’m greedy I know).

Six years on and the trio has remedied that selfish trouble of mine by delivering the super-exciting news of their reunion.

Orishas

How far that reunion goes beyond the recently-recorded single is anyone’s guess. Hopefully it involves the recording of many more Orishas albums to come and the blessed opportunity for fans around the world to have themselves the live Orishas experience. It’s one I never got to have- and since the split thought I never could. With this news Orishas goes back up high on my Live Music Bucket List, in hope.

Orishas are Yotuel Romero Manzanares, Roldán González Rivero and Hiram Riveri Medina (“Ruzzo”). If their music-making history is at all reflective of what’s to come, the world is in for a special treat. The elements that make up their distinctive sound – the very different rap flows of Ruzzo and Yotuel, the heavenly singing voice (+ guitar & bass) of Roldán and the beautiful sounds of traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms seamlessly fused with modern hip hop beats and live instrumentation – with lyrical stories, sentiments and slang dearly particular to Cuba…ain’t found anywhere else in this wide world of music.

Orishas

If you don’t already know and appreciate the musical goodness of this group check out these sample tracks from their albums past- and watch the Orishas space to hear new music they’re gifting the world in 2016.

Orishas - A Lo Cubano (1999)“A Lo Cubano” – A Lo Cubano (1999)

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Orishas - Emigrante (2002)“Niños” – Emigrante (2002)

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Orishas - El Kilo (2005)“Al Que Le Guste” – El Kilo (2005)

 

 

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Antidiotico (2007)

“Que Vola?” – Antidiotico (2007)

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Cosita Buena (2008)

“Machete” – Cosita Buena (2008)

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Get any or all of those hard-copy Orishas albums into your own music collection here.

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Fat Freddys Drop – Beyond Easy Skanking

Every album so far delivered by Fat Freddys Drop has brilliantly captured and showcased the unique blends of soul, jazz, funk, R&B, reggae and dub that New Zealand music is known and loved for. Those albums have also captured the spirit and sounds of the epic live Fat Freddys Drop journeys – from which the group built their grass-roots following and ultimate success, way back since their beginnings in the late 90s.

Fat Freddys Drop live in Brisbane - Blackbird Tour 2013

Fat Freddys Drop live at the Tivoli, Australia

In many ways the new album Bays repeats that Fat Freddys history, in others not.

Fat Freddys Drop - Bays (2015)

Bays (2015)

More so than ever before, Bays captures Fat Freddys Drop creating music in the studio rather than in the live arena. Like always, studio-style includes recording equipment and techniques at their most superior (analogue of course), pressed to sweet vinyl. The gentle, soulful voice of Dallas Tamaira is the only one you’ll find on this FFD album, consistently soothing you throughout. The subtle, perfectly-placed horn lines of Toby Laing, Joe Lindsay and Scott Towers are still present. So too are the living guitar and keyboard sounds of Tehimana Kerr and Iain Gordon.

Fat Freddys Drop - Bays

And yes Bays definitely delivers familiar doses of soul, funk, R&B and feel-good, easy skanking within its ten tracks. But this time around you’ll get a heavier-than-ever-before dose of techno rhythms in the mix. For some people those sounds will be welcome, for others they might bring discomfort. Either way, Fat Freddys Drop remain as true as always to the expression of their own evolution, independent of and unconstrained by the expectations of a label or others.

Love Bays or not. Take it or leave it. Whatever you do, at least try it.

I tried and took – ie. went to my local record store and bought it for my Forever-After Collection. And super-surprisingly, it was the epic techno-heavy journey of track 8 on Bays (“Cortina Motors”) that finally convinced me to do so. Producer and MPC genius Chris “Mu” Faiumu (who donated the base track) and the rest of Fat Freddys Drop have here achieved the unthinkable for me: made the experience of listening to techno rhythms an enjoyable and body-moving one.

Fat Freddys Drop concert - WOMADelaide 2014

Mu with Fat Freddys Drop live at WOMADelaide 2014

The killer groove of the album’s ninth and final track “Novak”, cemented my decision without doubt that I’d be a lot poorer if I didn’t have Bays in my music collection.

Check out these (mp3 only) samples of those two all-convincing tracks.

Fat Freddys Drop - Bays

Fat Freddys Drop – “Cortina Motors” – Bays
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Fat Freddys Drop – “Novak” – Bays
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Buy the whole of Bays direct from Fat Freddys Drop  here.

And be sure to find the live experience where you can. That’s generally where the most Fat Freddys Drop magic happens. Peeps around the world get their chance soon with upcoming tours happening in Aotearoa / New Zealand, Australia, the U.K. and Europe.

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De La Soul – Bringing The Fresh To Hip Hop At Soulfest 2015

De La Soul has been bringing fresh and innovative beats, rhymes, skits and emerging artists to hip hop since its “Golden Age”. If you grew up in the late 80s, 90s or thereafter if you were switched on to the evolution of hip hop, there’s a good chance De La Soul’s music makes up an integral part of your life tapestry.De La Soul

Decades later in 2015 that tapestry is soon to become richer with Posdnuos, Maseo, Dave and a huge number of musical collaborators working on the final touches of the highly-anticipated new studio LP – funded by loyal fans through Kickstarter at the first opportunity they had early this year.  This time around De La Soul and their cohorts have recorded all their own samples for the album and the mixing process is well underway with Bob Power again at the controls.

Rightly so – excitement is high in De La Soul camps around the world.

So Soulfest couldn’t have picked a better time to bring the group to its stages in Australia, New Zealand and Kuala Lumpur next month to perform their beloved songs of old and here’s hoping, a good dose of the new.

Soulfest 2015 poster

Remind yourself or (if you’ve been living under a rock) get to know “da inner sound, y’all” expressed and bought to us by De La Soul since the release of their first revolutionary album in 1989, 3 Feet High And Rising.

De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising

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“Buddy”-De La Soul feat. Q-Tip & Jungle Brothers- 3 Feet High And Rising (1989)
De La Soul - De La Soul Is Dead
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“A Rollerskating Jam Named Saturdays”- De La Soul Is Dead (1991)

De La Soul - Buhloone Mind State

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“In The Woods”- Buhloone Mind State (1993)

De La Soul - Stakes Is High

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“Big Brother Beat” feat. Mos Def – Stakes Is High (1996)
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The inclusion of De La Soul in this year’s festival line-up means the evolution of the innovative, conscious and humorous side of hip hop between the 80s and today will be represented in true style. Not to mention Ms. Lauryn Hill and Black Star with Talib Kweli and Mos Def, the latter whose career De La Soul helped kick off, and who fans will no doubt be hoping join De La Soul on Soulfest stages.

Check out the full festival line-up and get your Soulfest 2015 tickets here.

Soulfest Australia

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Trinity Roots: Citizen Tour Australia 2015

Direct from playing in their homeland of Aotearoa to a crowd of many thousands of loyal fans at WOMAD New Zealand, Trinity Roots have finally blessed Australia with their first-ever Australian tour.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live at Miami Marketta, Australia 2015

The very special bonus prize for people at all those shows was the chance to hear live and take home the long-awaited, fresh-off-the-press new album Citizen: the first studio album released by Trinity Roots in over a decade.

Trinity Roots - new album Citizen - 2015

Citizen (2015)

Beloved

For people in Australia in the musical know, both the Trinity Roots tour and the arrival of new Trinity Roots music was a big deal.  They count this group of artists amongst la creme de la creme of contemporary worldwide music-makers of recent history. Most Australian fans never had the opportunity to hear Trinity Roots play their beloved music live before the group disbanded and went their separate musical ways in 2005.

Since the welcome news of a Trinity Roots reunion a few years back and the making of a new album, folks in Australia (and elsewhere) had been waiting patiently with anticipation and excitement for the release of Citizen and the live tour that would follow.

It’s not surprising then that the excitement in Australian venues before Trinity Roots started playing was palpable. So too was the joyful satisfaction of the crowd during their set and long after it finished.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live at Brunswick Hotel, Australia 2015

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Trinity Roots + 1 Live

Trinity Roots in 2015 are original members Warren Maxwell (guitar/lead vocals) and Rio Hunuki-Hemopo (bass/vocals) plus new drummer/vocalist Ben Wood.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Warren Maxwell

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Rio Hunuki-Hemopo

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Ben Wood

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Joining the trio on their Citizen tour was the talented Ed Zuccollo on keys and synth – also the maker of mini-moog sounds on some of the studio album tracks.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live at Miami Marketta 2015

Trinity Roots’ live performances went above and beyond the crowd’s high expectations. Set lists were a balanced mix of long-beloved songs from past releases (‘Sense And Cents’‘Little Things’ – ‘Egos’‘Two by Two’‘Home, Land & Sea’‘Just Like You’…) and newly-beloved ones from Citizen (‘Bully’‘Haiku’ ‘El Kaptain’…).

Pick your musical flavours: blues – soul – punk – rock – jazz – reggae or dub. You’ll find all of them throughout Trinity Roots songs of old and especially the new – blended together seamlessly into a distinctive Trinity Roots sound that is perfectly reflective of the beautiful culture and natural environment of Aotearoa –  and is totally unique in this huge, wide world of music.

Those songs are played and sung with exceptional skill and musicality and an honest, passionate outpouring of heart and soul. The angelic voice and one-of-a-kind vocal tone of lead singer Warren Maxwell and the three-part harmonies of he, Rio Hunuki-Hemopo and Ben Wood are nothing but a delight to hear live.

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015

Trinity Roots live concert Australia 2015What else is there to say? All in all and simply put, the live Trinity Roots experience is absolutely sublime.

Check out video footage here from the shows in Brisbane and Miami – and try to imagine how much better it sounded live and direct in person (and in different venues with varying sound quality).  The first one ‘Haiku’, with its unusual time signature, is a new one from Citizen – with ‘Sense And Cents’‘Little Things’ and ‘Egos’ from earlier Trinity Roots releases.


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Karl S. Williams

Another bonus of catching an Australian Trinity Roots show was discovering the songs and vocals of Gold Coast-based support artist Karl S. Williams. Apparently (says my friend who insisted we get to the gig on time to catch his set) “deservedly, he’s going to be huge”. If you didn’t get there early enough to hear Karl S. Williams play you have another chance next week at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Karl S. Williams live at The Zoo, Brisbane 2015

Karl S. Williams live at The Zoo, Brisbane 2015

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Citizen

All of the above comments and praise about the live Trinity Roots experience apply to the new album Citizen.

Those live experiences are ones we had and loved – and hopefully will have again many more times. The studio version of Citizen is one we can have in all its beautiful musical subtleties and with its extra contributing musicians and vocalists from the lands of Aotearoa, over and over again forever hereafter – alongside previous and always-beloved releases Trinity Roots – True – Home, Land And Sea and Music Is Choice.

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Sample a couple of the more chilled-sounding tracks off Citizen below. Note like always – these are just compressed mp3 versions of the songs. You can buy the real-deal, hold-in-your-hand, hear-all-the-sounds-of-the-music album on cd now from any good independent music store or on-line – and hopefully on vinyl soonish.

new Trinity Roots album Citizen - 2015

Citizen (2015)

‘El Kaptain’ – Trinity Roots – Citizen (2015)

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‘This Road’ – Trinity Roots – Citizen (2015)

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I reckon people throughout the wide world beyond Aotearoa and Australia could find themselves a whole lot of goodness in getting to know the sounds of Trinity Roots. If you’re one of them you can check out samples of earlier Trinity Roots music here.

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