Thursday, August 31, 2006
PARA LA GENTE | Hurricane America EP
When forming three years ago, Para La Gente headed down the same path as Rage Against the Machine with political lyrics rapped over metal/punk riffs. Their new release, a six song EP titled Hurricane America, finds the band going in a more original direction.
The local four man, one woman collective is still political—rapping super earnest lyrics about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the immigration problem—but now the music is more interesting due to a sometimes knock down effective mix of organic hip hop, soulful singing courtesy of new vocalist Teresa Lindsay, funk and Sublime-ish reggae rock.
The best two tracks, “La Esquina” and “True Addicts,” both end up going in unexpected directions. “La Esquina” starts out with some killer spaced out guitar work before morphing into riffing on the chorus, while the verses in “True Addicts” are rapped over a propulsive bassline before stopping on a dime at the chorus, where Lindsay sings like a vocalist from an old soul record.
Hurricane America can be purchased online at www.cdbaby.com/paralagente.
VARIOUS ARTISTS | Ska Bonanza: The Studio One Ska Years | Heartbeat
A treasure trove of a reissue, this two CD set features 43 tracks of wonderfully muddy—although not nearly as murky as these were at first hearing—roots music of the ska/rock steady/bluebeat variety. And even though the second ska revival of the last thirty years is over, this is primo groove. Like a great blues collection, it never gets tired.
The sequencing is particularly adept, leaning heavily on the first wave of masters like Roland Alphonso and the Skatalites, Ken Boothe, Millie Small (the only one of these performers to bust the American charts) at the beginning of disc one; disc two commences with the trombone-laden musings of Don Drummond and segs into Marley/Toots. While the latter artists evolved into the more relaxed riddims of mother reggae down the road apiece, these are still critically seminal tracks.
Any real fan of this genre has to have most of this already. Still, the mastering has made the bass punchier and the drums audible and on sheer chant power alone, these are indelible choruses.
DJ LOGIC | Zen of Logic | Ropeadope
The title of DJ Logic’s new album is a stumper: What does logic, the science of abstract reasoning, have to do with Zen, a philosophy that honors direct intuition through meditation? Despite the apparent paradox, Zen of Logic is an excellent title for this release, which skirts the often-arbitrary border between instinct and intellect, between booty and brain.
Logic (né Jason Kibler), whose prodigious cutting and scratching skills helped establish the Bronx as a hip-hop mecca in the ’80s, is in the elite rank of DJs called “turntablists” — a highfalutin title, maybe, but one that makes a useful distinction. Logic doesn’t just collect obscure LPs and make club-thumping collages out of them; he concocts new percussive and melodic possibilities out of existing sounds and improvises, in the manner of a jazz musician, with players who use conventional instruments.
Assisted by a fantastic crew that includes bass heavyweight Melvin Gibbs, jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter, the Antibalas Horns, keyboardist John Medeski, and underground MCs SubConscious and Creature, Logic assembles an eclectic arsenal of tribal funk, mesmeric dub, scorching soul, scuzzy grime, and delirious world beat, all generously peppered with analog hiss and crackle.
Although Logic has been accused of being overly cerebral, at its best Zen of Logic achieves enlightenment by completely obliterating the brain/body barrier.
—Rene Spencer Saller