November 24, 2010

V4YS Selection#11 - In The Mood For (more) Folk

Almost a year ago we published a first "folkish" selection (here it is), I thought it was time for another one!
Shorter days, cold setting in, this season often feels a bit melancholic to me and that's usually when I'm most in need of great indie/folk melodies!
So here are a few tracks in that space I enjoy at the moment, most being from contemporary artists that deserve some digging if you're not familiar enough with them.
From Iron & Wine to Mocky or The Helio Sequence, styles and sounds may be diverse but the great song and melodies writing ability is a clear common denominator.
And I had to include this Jeff Buckley live cut called "Night Flight" recorded in his favorite Ny Lower East Side spot of Sin-é. So close to my definition of genius...

Tracklisting and streaming below, podcast dwlnd link here.

Tracklisting :
Grizzly Bear - Don't Ask
Modest Mouse - Gravity Rides Everything (3'21'')
Feist & Ben Gibbard - Train Song (7'30'')
Iron & Wine - Bird Stealing Bread (10'20'')
Jeff Buckley - Night Flight (Live at Sin-é) (14'37'')
Brendan Canning - Antique Bull (wth Broken Social Scene) (21'10'')
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & The Cairo Gang - Troublesome Houses (24'43'')
Andreya Triana - Lost Where I Belong (Unplugged Version) (28'52'')
Matsi - Free (33'30'')
Dj Shadow - I've Been Trying (38'24'')
The Helio Sequence - Shed Your Love (41'20'')
Mocky - Sleepy Time (44'27'')

Podcast illustration : Laura Serra

Les jours qui racourcissent, le froid qui s'installe, cette période synonyme d'une certaine forme de mélancolie a toujours engendré chez moi un besoin de refrains indie/folk de qualité. Je ne déroge pas à cette règle cette année et j'en profite donc pour publier la seconde sélection "folkish" du blog (la première est ici).
"In the mood for (more) folk" rassemble une douzaine de morceaux d'artistes ou groupes principalement contemporains qui méritent toute votre attention si vous n'êtes pas déjà familier de leur discographie. 
De Iron & Wine à Mocky en passant par The Helio Sequence les styles et les sonorités sont variés mais la capacité à écrire de subtiles chansons & mélodies est un incontestable dénominateur commun.
Et puis je n'ai pas pu résister à l'idée d'inclure "Night Flight", un petit bijou du regretté Jeff Buckley, enregistré dans son spot préféré de Sin-é dans le lower east-side new-yorkais. Si proche de ma définition du génie....
Ci-dessus streaming et ici un lien dwlnd du podcast.

November 18, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Broken Social Scene - Live In London & Paris (Koko & Elysée Montmartre), 15&17/11/10

Sometimes everything seems to happen for a (good) reason.
After the fantastic Cinematic Orchestra sunday evening, a friend (thank you Denis!) made me realize that one of my other favorite band, Broken Social Scene, was playing the next day in the wonderful theater Koko in Camden.
Even though I had planned to see them live in Paris later in the week, I extended my London we for a day for another memorable musical experience.
So here are a few impressions on these two shows from the most soulful indie band I know!

Kevin Drew
Led by the band core members Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Andrew Whiteman and drummer Justin Peroff, the collective included up to 12 people on stage at some point during the Koko show when John McEntire, who produced their outstanding latest LP "Forgiveness Rock Record "(review here), briefly joined them for a track.
Adding to this "jam" or "tribe" spirit, the amazing ability of most of their musicians to switch instruments one song after the other (from bass to guitars, keyboards or horns)  brings a delicious feeling of organised chaos.
This is what I  love so much about them and that I find in their records. A variety of sounds, influences, styles that differentiate them so much from the regular indie crowd.

Lisa Lobsinger
That being said it is less true of the Paris show where the band was smaller (no trombone player, no occasional guests), the gig shorter (1h30 against almost 2h in London) and closer to a classic indie rock concert.

If both sets were different, both nevertheless focused on the latest LP with a great pick of some of their best tracks from previous albums.
Among my favorite moments were the brilliant "Guilty Cubicles/Superconnected" medley, the moving piano/horns version of "Lover's Spit" or the atmospheric interpretations of "All To All" and "Anthems For  A Seventeen Year-Old Girl" sung by Lisa Lobsinger.
Talking about her I was charmed by her performance.
Vocals full of sincerity and emotions, a penetrating melancholic stare enhanced by her beautiful hair-style, she was some kind of angel floating bare-foot around the stage...
Andrew Whiteman

All in all I found that the quality of orchestrations, the positive energy and the friendly crowd conctact were the ultimate sign of a band in full maturity.
I'm sure Kevin and his friends will offer us many, many more splendid productions in the years to come!

Below a few rough videos from both shows, "Guilty Cubicles/Superconnected" medley at Koko, "Anthems For a Seventeen Year-Old Girl" and "Lover's Spit" at the Elysée Montmartre :

Le hasard fait parfois bien les choses. 
Après un we musical londonien mémorable conclu dimanche soir par la prestation magique de Cinematic Orchestra au Royal Albert Hall (voir review précédente), j'ai décidé au dernier moment de rester un jour de plus outre-Manche lorsque j'ai réalisé (merci Denis) qu'un autre de mes groupes adorés, Broken Social Scene, jouait lundi soir dans le superbe théatre rococo Koko
J'avais prévu de longue date de les voir la même semaine à Paris mais abondance de biens ne nuit pas et voici donc quelques impressions de ces deux shows du groupe indie le plus soulful que je connaisse!
Emmené par les deux leaders Brendan Canning et Kevin Drew, le collectif canadien a compté jusqu'à 12 personnes sur scène à Londres, dont trois cuivres, lorsque divers invités et amis les ont rejoint momentanément sur scène. 
Cet esprit de joyeux chaos organisé résume parfaitement l'identité de ce collectif à part qui allie sonorités, influences et styles musicaux variés pour produire depuis plus de 10 ans un post-rock mélancolique plein de finesse.
Les deux concerts furent néanmoins un peu différents puisque le show parisien fut plus classique avec moins de musiciens et un set plus "indé" comparè à celui de Londres que j'ai préféré. 
Globalement le groupe a utilisé comme fil conducteur son excellent dernier album "Forgiveness Rock Record" (review ici) en y ajoutant une sélection bien sentie de certains de leurs plus beaux morceaux précédents comme "Guilty Cubicles", "Superconnected"," Lover's Spit" ou bien encore "Anthems For A seventeen Year-Old Girl". 
La présence envoûtante et la voix planante de la chanteuse Lisa Lobsinger, l'énergie et le contact très chaleureux de Kevin Drew et de ses comparses ont fait le reste. Le groupe semble en pleine maturité et cela promet pour les années à venir.
Ci-dessus quelques vidéos des deux concerts.

November 16, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Cinematic Orchestra - Dorian Concept - London Metropolitan Orchestra Live In London - Royal Albert Hall - 141110

As a sort of climax of its 20th birthday celebration, Ninja Tune's crew brought back Cinematic Orchestra to the Royal Albert Hall.
Helped by the London Metropolitan Orchestra the band had already performed there a couple of years ago for a unique date that subsequently gave birth to a now famous live recording release.
Having missed this first gig in 2008, I could not pass on this second opportunity to see one of my favorite band in such an amazing venue.
As a surprise the label had also invited Brazilian Dj/producer Amon Tobin to introduce musician/composer Ilan Eshkeri's orchestral arrangements of some of his acclaimed electro productions but also the young Austrian producer Dorian Concept for a special set with several musicians from the Metropolitan.

Ilan Eshkeri & London Metropolitan Orchestra's Amon Tobin Project :
If Amon could not make it to the evening, Ilan Eshkeri and the London Metropolitan Orchestra could still open the evening by presenting what I found being a subtle and ethereal interpretation of some of Tobin's works.
This was another interesting example of the emerging connexion between electronic/soulful music and classical ensembles (Cinematic Orchestra of course but also Miguel Atwood-Ferguson or Floating Points Ensemble being some of the leading artists in that space). I do hope this performance will pave the way for a studio release, it clearly deserves it!

Dorian Concept & members of London Metropolitan Orchestra :
Playing Rhodes keyboard and using his laptop to launch a few background samples, Dorian Concept was joined by a drummer, and 5 musicians from the Metropolitan (2 violins, 3 double bass) then later by a sax.
As much as I have been enjoying his recent abstract/electro productions, I have to say I was even more thrilled by this special set-up.
To makes things clear I'm a Rhodes junky so it's difficult for me not to enjoy when a gifted musician like him puts this instrument on the forefront of a live set! But that was not the only reason, the drummer (Clemens Bacher aka Cid Rim) was outstanding, with notably great long drumming parts focusing on cymbals, while the strings quintet presence added a beautiful dose deepness and spirituality.
Below a couple of rough audio extracts from the set, the first one rather deep/ambient with the strings quintet, the second one more soulful with the sax :
Extract 1 :

Extract 2 :

Cinematic Orchestra & The London Metropolitan Orchestra :
Heidi Vogel & Cinematic Orchestra
Cinematic Orchestra finally came on stage and offered us a 1h30mn-long show full of sensitivity and finesse.
If I was not really surprised by the performance in itself as I have been listening a lot to the multiple live recordings from the 2008/2009 "Ma Fleur" tour, I was nevertheless totally captivated by the softness and gravity of their music that truly takes another dimension when supported by such an impressive classical orchestra.
Jason Swinscoe's crew interpreted classic tracks from their 3 must-have albums "Everyday", "Man With A Movie Camera" and "Ma Fleur" (tracklisting below). I had secretly hoped they would play one or two brand new cuts from their fortcoming LP to be released next year but I'll have to wait!
Patrick Wilson made a stunning appeareance on a couple of tracks ("To Build A Home" and "Into You" if I remember well), the purity and spirituality emanating from his voice definitely makes him a very special artist.
The same goes for Heidi Vogel who contributed on 4 or 5 songs, the power and deepness of her singing and her undeniable charisma are a perfect addition to the band.

A moment of grace really, a big thank you to the Ninja Tune team for having set up this unforgettable evening!

Tracklisting (educated guess)  :
Burn Out / Child Song / As The Stars Fall / Into You / Flite / Familiar Grounds / Breathe / Man With A Movie Camera / To Build A Home (feat. Patrick Watson) / All That You Give

Below a video of "To Build A Home" with Patrick Wilson (sorry for the camera shaking at the start), and "Burn Out" that opened the set :

November 11, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - La Excelencia - Live In Paris - New Morning - 10/11/10

Ronald Prokopez
What a crazy latin party!
For its Parisian debut, Ny-based band La Excelencia chose the best possible venue, the New Morning, where it delivered its red-hot salsa message.

One of the most exciting combo in Big Apple, La Excelencia has really made a name for itself last year with the release of their outstanding second LP  "Mi Tumbao Social".
Their trademark? a rough and powerful sound reminiscent or 60's/70's salsa dura's golden age with strong afro-influence, combined with thoughtful socially-conscious lyrics.
I was really excited to finally be able to see them on stage and the resulting latin hurricane did not disappoint my high expectations!
Edwin Pérez
They presented themselves in a 10-member formation (slightly smaller than the full combo) : 1 keyboard, 1 bass, 3 percussionists, 2 trombones, 2 trumpets, 1 lead singer.
They focused on their original tracks, alternating between high-tempo "salsa dura" tracks and a few relatively lower-tempo rumba/mambo-style tunes.
 Jose Vazquez-Cofresi 
I enjoyed their musical excellence, I loved the pulsating rythmic frame powered by their trio of percussionists, I was stunned by their mind-blowing horn section or the catchy vocals of Edwin Pérez, but what really impressed me most was the freshness, enthusiasm and energy of the ensemble. You can easily feel how much these guys are hungry and happy to support the original salsa sound heritage.
An outstanding live moment really and neither the bunch of parisian salsa-schools members who kept moving on the dancefloor nor my 6-year old daughter (who was attending her first New-Morning gig) will disagree!

Below a couple of rough videos extracts from the show, "Deja De Criticar" and "American Sueño" :

For those willing to discover  more great contemporary latin sounds, check our recent podcast, Latin' Cookin', a selection of cool Brazalian & Latin vibes.

Pour ses débuts à Paris, le combo salsa new-yorkais La Excelencia a choisi le meilleur endroit qui soit, le New Morning, afin d'y déverser sa salsa ravageuse.
L'une des formations les plus prometteuses de la mythique scène latino new-yorkaise, le groupe a vraiment commencé à se faire un nom l'an passé avec la sortie de son brilliant second album "Mi Tumbao Social". 
Sa marque de fabrique? un son authentique teinté de fortes influences afro qui rappelle la salsa dura des années 60/70, période dorée du genre, mais aussi des paroles engagées évoquant une multitude de thèmes sociaux et politiques.
C'est une formation quasi au complet qui était présente hier soir avec 10 membres : 1 clavier, 1 basse, 3 percussionists, 2 trombones, 2 trompettes, 1 chanteur
Ils ont interprété principalement des morceaux du dernier album, compositions originales qui alternent entre des morceaux de pure salsa dura aux rythmes rapides et des tracks mid-tempo rappelant la rumba ou le mambo.
Si j'ai aimé la base rythmique infernale assurée par le trio de percussionistes, si j'ai été transporté par les riffs démentiels de la section de cuivres ou par le flow explosif du chanteur Edwin Pérez, ce qui m'a le plus marqué est sans aucun doute la fraîcheur, l'enthousiasme et l'énergie du groupe. Ce combo a faim d'émotions et ça se sent!
Un live exceptionnel vraiment, et je pense que ni les danseurs de multiples clubs salsas de la capitale présents hier soir, ni ma pitchoune de 6 ans (qui découvrait pour l'occasion le New Morning)  ne me contrediront!
Ci-dessus deux petits extraits vidéos du concert : "Deja De Criticar" et "American Sueño".

Pour plus de bons sons latinos, vous pouvez écouter Latin' Cookin', podcast présentant une sélection Brazil/Latin d'artistes contemporains que j'apprécie tout particulièrement en ce moment.

November 5, 2010

V4YS Album Review - Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno - Dog With A Rope (TruThoughts Records)

Will Holland aka Quantic is one of my favorite musician/producer from the latin/world/funk space. Currently living in Cali, Colombia, he keeps on digging into a wide range of overlooked latin sounds that he rejuvenates helped by a host of outstanding musicians. Following his 2009 project with his "Combo Barbaro" that gave birth to one of our favorite LP from last year "Tradition In Translation" he recently released another sunny exotic album with his "Flowering Inferno" side.
"Dog With A Rope", released on the excellent label "Tru Thoughts", focuses on the interactions of Jamaican rythms (reggae/rocksteady/dub) with latin music (notably cumbia and rumba).
With the participation (among others) of reggae veteran Conrad Kelly (Steel Pulse, UB40) and legendary Peruvian pianist Alfredo Linares, this project reminds us how close and intertwined these two musical universes are.
Accordion (often present in colombian cumbian songs), classic reggae drums, rocksteady/dub reverb effects or rumba horns fit naturally together. In fact if most tracks are covers from latin or reggae oldies thay all sounds as if they had originally been written in this exotic way. "Dog with a Rope" is another very high-quality piece of music from Mr Holland that will probably be a nice surprise to both reggae and latin music fans!
Below a streaming of "Echate Pa'lla", a classic latin track on which the Flowering Inferno crew added a dub-touch, and the great original song "Dog With A Rope" :
You can also check our review and videos of Quantic and his Combo Barbaro recent great live show in Paris.

J'ai souvent mentionné le musicien et producteur Quantic (Will Holland) sur le blog tant ses multiples projets entre soul, funk et musiques latines sont à la fois séduisants et novateurs.
Après son superbe disque "Tradition In Translation" produit en 2009 avec son "Combo Barbaro" , il a sorti au début de l'été dernier une nouvelle pépite intitulée "Dog With A Rope" sur l'excellent label Tru Thoughts cette fois-ci avec son projet "Flowering Inferno". Toujours installé à Cali en Colombie, Quantic continue d'y défricher les multiples racines de la musique sud-américaine. Avec "Dog With A Rope" il s'intéresse tout particulièrement aux liens très forts unissant l'univers de la musique Jamaicaine à celui de la musique latine.
Aidé par un vétéran du reggae, Conrad Kelly (Steel Pulse, UB40) et une fois encore par le légendaire pianiste péruvien Alfredo Linares, il nous offre quelques titres originaux et plusieurs réinterprétations de vieux morceaux reggae ou latins en mélangeant les sons des deux familles musicales.
En écoutant l'accordéon (souvent présent dans la cumbia colombienne), les rythmes de batterie purement reggae, les effets réverbs venant du dub ou les cuivres de la rumba cubaine se mêler avec tant de naturel on se rend compte à quel point ces rythmiques participent d'une même grande famille.
Ce disque surprenant est tout simplement réjouissant!
Ci-dessus streaming de "Echate Pa'lla" qui est un vieux morceau rumba auquel le Flowering Inferno a rajouté avec bonheur divers effets très dub, et l'excellent titre original "Dog With A Rope".
Pour rappel vous pouvez trouver ici la review et quelques vidéos de l'excellent live de Quantic et son Combo Barbaro à Paris en Juillet dernier.

November 1, 2010

V4YS Album Review - Ebo Taylor - Love And Death (Strut Records)

Ebo Taylor may be a familiar name for those in love with highlife jazz and afro sounds.
In recent years he has been appearing on several high-quality afro-compilations such as the brilliant "Ghana Soundz" series on Soundway records. Still, this outstanding 74 years-old ghanaian musician/producer had never been internationally releasing a solo album on his own. The always prescient team at Strut records had the great idea to fill the gap and here comes "Love And Death".
Teaming-up with Berlin-based collective "Afrobeat Academy", he is offering us this true afro gem.
"Love And Death" is a remarkable afrobeat album with an old-school afro-jazz angle. It sounds so authentic, I would have bet it was recorded in the 70's  had I not been aware of its origins.
The LP blends some of his old tracks (like the splendid "Love And Death") which have been re-arranged to brand new songs. Groovy guitar rythmic lines, afrobeat drumming vibes, furious horns solos and chorus, catchy afro vocals, all ingredients of joyful ghanaian music are there. This is undoubtedly one of the best afro productions I've heard in a while!
I'm sure you'll agree if you listen to the streaming of "Love And Death" below (more extracts on the official site) :

I believe a tour is planned in the coming weeks, a must-see event for sure.

Ebo Taylor est sans doute un nom connu des amoureux de sonorités afros et highlife-jazz.
Certains de ses titres des années 60/70 sont notamment récemment réapparus sur d'excellentes compilations comme la série "Ghana Soundz" du label Soundway Records. Pourtant à 74 ans, ce musicien/producteur ghanéen n'avait jamais publié un album studio solo. Le très bon label Strut Records lui permet enfin de corriger cette anomalie et c'est accompagné du collectif  berlinois "Afrobeat Academy" qu'il nous offre un petit bijou afro intitulé "Love And Death".
Lignes rythmiques de batterie et de guitare impeccables, refrains et solos de cuivres subtils ou explosifs, vocaux afro entrainants, cet album rassemblant des compositions anciennes (ré-arrangées) ou nouvelles propose un afrobeat très jazzy dont on jurerait qu'il a été enregistré il y a une quarantaine d'années tant il sonne "authentique". Assurément une des meilleures productions du genre que j'ai pu entendre des derniers temps.
Pour preuve le streaming ci-dessus du morceau "Love And Death", plus d'extraits et d'infos sur le site officiel.
Une tournée semble aussi prévue dans les semaines à venir...