Mardi Gras season just wrapped up and this week’s playlist plays homage to New Orleans with tunes by Kermit Ruffins and the Rebirth Brass Band. Plus, one of our “Timely Tunes” has a distinctly New Orleans feel. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
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The Feelies “When To Go” (From “In Between”)
The Feelies’ classic debut album, 1980’s “Crazy Rhythms”, was a fidgety, jangly, neurotic masterpiece that presaged and influenced a generation’s worth of heady dork rock from R.E.M. to Weezer. This is only their sixth album in 37 years (they were not a going concern from 1993 to 2007), but it’s even stronger than their comeback album “Here Before”. “When To Go”, like much of this record, is closer in spirit to 1986’s underrated sophomore album “The Good Earth” in its restrained pastoralism.
Rhiannon Giddens “Hey Bebe” (From “Freedom Highway”)
I came upon Giddens’ new record as a neophyte, unaware of her association with Grammy Award winning old-timey band the Carolina Chocolate Drops (was that a Mad Libs exercise?). Rhiannon is a multi-talented singer, violinist, and banjo player, and she is a deft navigator of African-American folk history. The distinctly New Orleans flavor of this particularly upbeat track stuck out to me. Mardi Gras is in the air right now, after all.
Michael Mayer “For You (DJ Koze Mbira Remix)”
Michael Mayer is one of the most well regarded producers in Germany’s storied techno/microhouse scene. “For You” is a gorgeous, spacious track featuring the sweetly sad vocals of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. This remix by another German wunderkind of minimalist techno, DJ Koze, subtracts most elements from the original and builds something even more beautiful out of a gorgeous mbira melody. It’s a virtuosic display of Koze’s patient slow-build craftwork.
Pissed Jeans “The Bar Is Low” (From “Why Love Now”)
I’m sure they are tired of the comparison, but if any American noise rock band were capable of taking the baton from The Jesus Lizard, it is Pissed Jeans. Acerbic, wild, hilarious, nasty, and one of the great live rock bands on this godforsaken planet. Singer Matt Korvette spits venom and shakes his hips in the drooling face of dimwitted masculine loutishness on “The Bar Is Low”, one in a series of great songs by this treasure of a band.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 37
1. Todd Rundgren “International Feel”
2. Chris Bell “I Got Kinda Lost”
3. The Feelies “When To Go”
4. Molly Nilsson “Hey Moon!”
5. Kourosh Yaghmaei “Saghe”
6. Kermit Ruffins “Leshianne”
7. Rhiannon Giddens “Hey Bébé”
8. Rebirth Brass Band “Do Whatcha Wanna”
9. Azimuth “Manhã”
10. Mkwaju Ensemble “Mkwaju”
11. Michael Mayer “For You (DJ Koze Mbira Remix)”
12. Konono Nº1 “Paradiso”
13. The Jesus Lizard “Nub”
14. Pissed Jeans “The Bar Is Low”
15. Shellac “Dude Incredible”