A few years back, I first became enamoured of the music of the Tuareg people, sometimes referred to as desert blues, which blends traditional sounds and electric guitar. Of the notable names of the genre, Bombino stands out as one of the best. Not just an incredibly talented guitarist, he also puts on a top notch show, having held his own while opening for such heavyweights as Amadou & Mariam and Robert Plant.
The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach was on board as producer for Bombino’s last album Nomad, and for his latest, Omara Moctar has teamed up with perhaps a more intriguing collaborater with Dave Longstreth of Dirty projectors fame producing the upcoming album Azel (out on April 1 – no joke).
Apparently the recording sessions involved a bit of experimentation in the studio, with the introduction of a reggae influence (and the coining of the term ‘Tuareggae’) and Western vocal harmonies to Bombino’s sound. Despite all that, it still sounds unmistakably like Bombino.
Bombino will be playing a few shows around Austin for SXSW before embarking on a North American tour that starts off in Toronto on March 22 at The Horseshoe Tavern. Check out the lead single “Inar” below:
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) was a 50s country number by Hank Williams. The pace reminds one of exactly those meandering and circuitous swamps, and the lazy glance of alligators as they bobble between the cypress trees waiting to catch you unawares while enjoying a beer and jambalaya with your “cher ami-o”. You would think injecting rock energy into this kind of music would be very difficult. Enter Dash Rip Rock. With a high-octane, high-proof repertoire spanning 30 years and 13 albums, not to mention their Louisiana roots, this was almost second nature to them. Although I’d argue there is no speed slow enough for me to ever understand the lyrics – it’s a little like listening to Newfoundlanders (and I don’t mean it in any negative way).
This Jambalaya cover, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Since being inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2012, Dash Rip Rock had put out a few more albums, the latest one is titled “Wrongheaded”, which we will no doubt find on the set list when they play at SXSW. While I can’t even begin to articulate the difference between roots rock, country rock, and Rock rock, I look forward to being enlightened while turning temporarily deaf.
A lot of us at Panic Manual are no stranger to Austin, TX, justifiably the “live music capital of the world”. But it always adds a layer of scintillating mystery when you visit musicians and artists at their home base. I usually jump up and down at the opportunity: lyrics and conspicuous name-dropping aside, can one divine some source of spatiotemporally compartmentalized inspiration, be it cultural, historical, or geopolitical that the artists draw on? Well, if you try to parse that out using the Internets, the band that I’m about to introduce will itself introduce a brick wall of googleplex proportions. Looking for “Speak” in “Austin during SxSW” is likely second only to “Sing/song” in same and gives way to some convoluted contextual meta analysis that will delight only academics and self-identified intellectuals. In the past 10 minutes, I have had more instances of “does not compute” than I would from debugging a badly commented Fortran code.
If you haven’t figured out what I’m trying to say yet, here’s a layman’s summary: SPEAK is a band formed in Austin Texas with an unfortunate choice of name, but incidentally very fortunate choices in melody. Synthesized, remixed and sampled pieces typically form the backdrop to which the lead vocalist Troupe Gammage unleashes his talented howls. The synthpop component is never overly long-lasting and the aftertaste is strictly indie rock in a very pleasant manner. And now that I must think about it, there is hardly a detectable trace of Austin in the music. But that would be the difference between locals and tourists, or perhaps regular people and snobs, for all I know.
SPEAK put out a new album called Pedals last year – I particularly like “Congo,” “Gates” (below) and “Nightlight” from that effort. While it seems in all likelihood true, due to the aforementioned, significantly sturdy brick wall, I haven’t figured out whether they are confirmed at SxSW this year. But hopefully we will see them with hometown advantage this spring.
Kula Shaker is back! They only went away for a few years apparently, but I was not aware they came back. However, now they are releasing the sequel to their much heralded debut album (K) and have released a video to accompany this upcoming release.
Infinite Sun sounds like some Tame Impala song, or maybe I should say Tame Impala sounds like Kula Shaker in some twisted way. I don’t care. It’s got your expected eastern music meets psych rock vibe to it and the track is good.
The video has this kind of hippy peaceful commune feeling about it that reminds me of this Peep Show clip.