Sunday, July 31, 2016
Beirut brings us the random tuned for the day, called Bratislava. Beirut is a band initially formed as a solo project by Albuquerque-born Zach Condon and later expanded into a full band. Condon recorded the bulk of Beirut's debut album, Gulag Orkestar, in his bedroom and finished the album with the assistance of Neutral Milk Hotel's and A Hawk and a Hacksaw's Jeremy Barnes. The strength of the recordings brought Condon a contract with Ba Da Bing Records under the name of Beirut, and the album was released in 2006 in conjunction with some live shows in New York - Condon recruited some friends to play the concerts and they became the band Beirut. Beirut has released three albums, the latest in September 2015, and Condon has been involved in several side projects. Bratislava is from Beirut's 2006 debut CD, Gulag Orkestar.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Today's random tune is performed by Iranian vocalist Mamak Khadem. Mamak Khadem has been called "one of the wonders of world trance music" by the Los Angeles Times, and works from a base of Persian classical music and poetry to weave a sound steeped in ancient tradition but also completely new. While she continues to use Persian classical music and poetry as her foundation, she has widened the scope of her music to include rhythmic and melodic strains from other countries. Mehdi Bagheri is an Iranian kamancheh player and composer. You can find Varan (Rain) on Khadem's 2007 album Jostojoo (Forever Seeking). This video is a live performance from Texas in 2013.
Friday, July 29, 2016
A hit movie set in India gives us the random song today, which you've probably heard many times. Jai Ho is from the soundtrack to Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Academy Awards in 2008. The song is composed by A.R. Rahman and vocalized by Sukhwinder Singh, Tanvi Shah, Mahalakshmi Iyer and Vijay Prakash. A.R. Rahman is an Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer, musician whose work is known for its integration of Eastern classical music and electronica, world music and traditional orchestral arrangements. Sukhwinder Singh is an award winning Indian Bollywood playback singer, as is Tanvi Shah - she sings in multiple languages and is a frequent collaborator with Rahman. Mahalakshmi Iyer is also a playback singer with a repertoire in multiple Indian languages. Vijay Prakash is also a playback singer responsible for the numerous high pitches in Jai Ho. You can find Jai Ho on the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire, released in 2008 and re-released for download in 2013.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Nneka is the artist that sings our random song for today, called Believe System. A Nigerian hip hop/soul/reggae singer who sings in both her native Igbo language as well as English, Nneka cites Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, as well as Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Lauryn Hill as her key influences. Her first album, released in 2005, garnered rave reviews and subsequent releases have only cemented her reputation, and she has been compared to Erykah Badu, Neneh Cherry and Floetry. She has released five solo albums and two EPs. Believe System can be found on her 2015 release My Fairy Tales.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Today's random tune is by Susan McKeown and The Chanting House, and is entitled Jericho. Susan McKeown is an Irish singer, songwriter and producer. She originally studied opera in Ireland before abandoning it to sing folk and rock, and as a duo with John Doyle she performed as The Chanting House which they formed in 1989. After graduation from University College Dublin she relocated to New York City to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. There, she and Doyle teamed up with Seamus Egan and Eileen Ivers. However, Doyle left in 1993 and McKeown formed a new group called Susan McKeown and the Chanting House which performed in many places in New York City. In 1995, she released Bones, an album of original material that established her as a singer-songwriter and launched her solo career. She has released 21 albums of solo and collaborative work, and she often divides her albums between those that are strictly traditional and those that are original tunes. You can find Jericho on her 1995 album Bones, and on the compilation CD Putumayo Presents: Women of the World Celtic II.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Inti-Illimani brings us the random tune for today, called A La Caza Del Ñandú. Formed in 1967 by university students, Inti-Illimani gained popularity in Chile due to their song Venceremos (We Shall Overcome) which became the anthem of the populist movement. This led to their exile - Allende's government was overthrown while they were on tour in Europe and, fearing for their safety, they stayed in exile in Italy until 1988, leading them to joke that their exile was the longest tour for any band ever. While in exile, they began to combine their Latin musical heritage with elements of European baroque and popular music, and by doing so helped create some of the first "world" music. Their music was banned in Chile, though distributed underground, and in 1988 they were allowed to return to their country. They participated actively in the campaign that ousted Pinochet from power in a democratic election, and continue their political activism to this day. However, in 2001 the band split over musical and political differences, and there are now two bands. The first retained the name of Inti-Illimani, and the second became Inti-Histórico. A La Caza Del Ñandú is on Inti-Illimani's 2002 album Lugares Comunes. The song refers to hunting the large, flightless bird called the rhea (ñandú in the Guarani language).
Monday, July 25, 2016
We have an oldie for the random song today. El Baile de La Lechuza is by Daniel Santos and the song is from around 1953. Daniel Santos was a Puerto Rican musician whose family moved when he was eight to New York City hoping to escape their poverty. He dropped out of school and starting living on his own when he was fifteen, and one day while singing in his small apartment he was overheard by a member of the group Trio Lirico, who invited him to join their group. During the 1930s, he sang with Cuarteto Flores and solo until drafted for World War II. He received a tribute upon his return to New York City after the war. An ardent Puerto Rican nationalist, he supported the island's independence movement. He also took a keen interest in Cuba and established a residence there, but fell out of favor with dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s. Despite initial support for Fidel Castro's fight against the government and being courted by the Castros and Che Guevara after the Cuban Revolution, he rejected their claims that their revolution was nationalist and declared himself anti-communist. He established a residence in Florida - but in 1991 he collapsed in New York City. He was also suffering some some mental illness including Alzheimers. He died at his ranch in Ocala, Florida in 1992. El Baile de La Lechuza can be found on the 2010 retrospective El Corneta. La Lechuza refers to the Mexican legend of witch women who can turn themselves into giant birds.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Today's random song is by Irish legends Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy. Makem, who died in 2007, was a folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller known as the Bard of Armagh. Internationally acclaimed, he was a member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. A baritone, he played a number of instruments including 5 string banjo, tin whistle, low whistle, guitar, bodhrán and bagpipes. Liam Clancy, who died in 2009, was the youngest member of The Clancy Brothers. He was known for his powerful voice. Bob Dylan considered Clancy the greatest ballad singer ever and he was a hero to the young Dylan as he was learning his craft. He was a central figure in the folk revival of Europe and North America. This song, Four Green Fields, was considered Makem's signature composition and can be found on multiple albums. I (Mike) have it on The Makem and Clancy Collection by Readers Digest (2011). This video is concert footage from 1983.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Today's random tune is by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE), a unique ancient vocal music ensemble that is accompanied by early and traditional instrumentation. They made their debut in 1989 presenting Latin music from the colonial period. Its artistic director, Christopher Moroney, has penned arrangements and new compositions for the group by delving into ancient history and cultures. The group has been featured on national radio shows and has toured the United States and around the world. This song, A Siolo Flasiquiyo, can be found on their 1996 album Native Angels. The song describes a group of Africans entertaining the Christ-child, singing softly to him so as to not frighten him.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Swedish folk singer Sofia Karlsson brings us the random tune for today, called From Here to Here. Sofia Karlsson attended the folk music department of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, and was a part of the band Groupa from 1998-2002. She made a breakthrough with her second solo album in 2005, with songs interpreting the works of poet Dan Andersson. She has released seven solo albums. From Here to Here can be found on her 2011 album Levande.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Today's random tune is from the band Golem and is called 7:40. A rock-klezmer band, Golem was created in 2000 in New York City by Annette Ezekiel Kogan, who serves as bandleader, vocalist and accordionist. The band describes their music as Eastern European Jewish folk-rock, and combines elements of rock, punk, and klezmer with lyrics in mainly English, Yiddish and Russian. The name of the band refers to the monster created out of clay to protect the Jewish people, and turned back to clay when it got out of control. The band calls themselves a collective monster that approaches traditional music with respect, but without timidity and resistance to change. 7:40 can be found on Golem's 2014 CD Tanz. This is a live version of the song performed in New York.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Comment ça va! Today's random tune is by Québécois traditional music trio Genticorum, who was founded in 2000 and is based in Montreal. Formed by musicians who have a love for French Canadian fiddle tunes and folk music, Genticorum performs their own compositions and arrangements and meld different kinds of acoustical styles. Their lyrics are all in French. They have released five albums. This song, Hommage a André Alain, can be found on their 2009 CD La Bibournoise.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
We go back to early 20th century Paris for today's random song, called Impression. Henri Momboisse was a bal musette accordionist who was born in 1889 and died in 1960. While I don't have much information on Momboisse, bal musette was a dance music that typically used accordion, banjo and drums (called "jâze" after the American jazz). Sometimes a cabrette - a small pipe, was also included. Musette musicians created valse musette, a type of mazurka called the java, and put their unique stamp upon the foxtrot. This recording of Impression is from 1930, and can be found on The Rough Guide to Paris Cafe (2nd edition - 2010).
Monday, July 18, 2016
Soneros de Verdad brings us our random tune today. Their name means "Singers of Truth," and they call themselves the second generation of the Buena Vista Social Club, bridging the gap between the son cubano of 50-60 years ago with more modern sensibilities and original compositions. Fronted by Luis Frank Arias and Mayito Rivero, both international music award winners, the band also employs some other Cuban stars of the newer generation, giving a whole new sound layered on top of the old urban mixed with rural, son, jazz, and other genres. It's Cuba in one package. This song, Golondrina Guajira, is from the album Luis Frank Presents Soneros de Verdad: A Buena Vista Barrio de la Habana (originally released in 2000, CD release in 2010).
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Gustavo Santaolalla, a double Academy Award winning Argentine musician, film composer and producer brings us the random song for today, Seguir. Santaolalla started his musical career in 1967 in Argentina with the band Arco Iris, which pioneered the fusion of rock and Latin American folk as part of the "rock nacional" movement. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, he moved back to Argentina and pioneered the 80s sound in Argentine rock. He also served as producer for several Mexican and Argentine "rock en español" groups. In the 1990s he moved into film soundtracks, first producing albums for the films Amores Perros, 21 Grams and The Motorcycle Diaries. in 2006 he won the Academy Award for Best Film Score for Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, and followed it up in 2007 with the Oscar for Best Film Score for Babel. In 2015 he was inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he currently lives in Los Angeles. Seguir can be found on his 2014 album Camino.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Today's random tune is Tchon Di Massa Pé by Zeca Di Nha Reinalda, João Cirilio and Blick Tchutchy. Zeca Di Nha Reinalda, born Emmanuel Dias Fernandes, is a Cape Verdean who started his solo career in 1995 and specializes in a type of Cape Verdean music called funaná - he is known as the King of Funaná - which is considered the most upbeat music genre in Cape Verde with rhythms provided by the ferrinho, the saw and the güiro. I couldn't find any information on João Cirilio but assume he is also Cape Verdean, and Blick Tchutchy is a Cape Verdean musician currently living in France. You can find Tchon Di Massa Pé on the compilation album Putumayo Presents: Cape Verde (1999).
Friday, July 15, 2016
Today's random song is by Ron Korb with Hiroki Sakaguchi, called River Child (Kappa). The song refers to the Kappa, a mythical Japanese water spirit/demon/imp used by Japanese parents to warn their children of the dangers of rivers and lakes. Roughly humanoid in appearance, they have a kind of shallow depression on the top of their head filled with water and is the source of their power. Their tricks range from the relatively harmless such as looking up women's kimonos to malevolent including killing and rape. But they can be rendered harmless and even indentured to humans, and they have a particular Japanese sense of decorum that binds them to keep their oaths. Ron Korb is a Canadian flautist, recording artist, producer, composer and songwriter who has released over 30 solo albums and has also written songs for major Asian performers. He has mastered a variety of wind instruments and is known as Dragon Flute, Thunder Blessing and Prince of Flutes in China, Taiwan and Japan, respectively. You can find River Child (Kappa) on Korb's 1992 album Japanese Mysteries where he is joined by Hiroki Sakaguchi, a Japanese composer and pianist who composed five of the 13 songs that appear on the album.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Today's song, Waika, takes us to a lazy evening in the islands and is performed by Hapa, whose name means "half," and refers to the fact that one of the members, Barry Flanagan, is a white guy from New Jersey who is currently paired up with Hawaii native Ron Kuala'au. Flanagan has been a consistent 30 year member of the duo. He started out partnering with Keli'i Ho'omalu Kaneali'i. Following Kaneali'i, Flanagan teamed with Nathan Aweau, who eventually left for a solo career. Flanagan then partnered with Hawaiian chanter Charles Ka'upu, who described Hapa's goal as helping revive the Polynesian language and to totally change the way the world perceives Hawaiian music. Unfortunately, Ka'upu died suddenly and unexpectedly in his early 50s in 2011. In its new incarnation Hapa continues to draw from jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass, Latin, flamenco, rock, Irish music and slam poetry as well as traditional Hawaiian music. Hapa's debut CD in 1995 became the biggest selling album ever by a Hawaiian group, and they have since released eight albums. Waika can be found on Hapa's 2013 album Malihini.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Straight outta Ethiopia comes today's random tune by the Krar Collective. Originally from Ethiopia but now based in the UK, the Krar Collective have built their musical style around the krar, a traditional harp, but serve it up with a contemporary modes and rhythms and punctuate it with the vocals of Genet Assefa. They have been dubbed "the Ethiopian White Stripes." You can find this song, Mr Astatke, on their 2012 album Ethiopia Super Krar.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Matnaw Rera / OKI by opukeni
From indigenous Japan comes today's random song, by Oki Kano, also known as OKI. An Ainu Japanese musician who studied at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, he plays the tonkori, guitar and traditional Ainu percussion, and mixes traditional Ainu music with dub, reggae and other types of world music. He has collaborated with the traditional female Ainu musical group Marewrew (who can be heard in this song) and his own Oki Ainu Dub Band, which does traditional Ainu songs in an electric style with dub rhythms. You can find this song, Matnaw Rera, on his 2002 album No-One's Land.
Monday, July 11, 2016
Today's random tune, Emoton, is performed by Värttinä, a Finnish folk group founded in 1983 by sisters Sari and Mari Kaasinen, who had performed together reading poetry in the 1970s. In 1983, the sisters formed Värttinä and entered a youth arts contest with their poetry reading. They made it into the finals that first year, and the next year changed to singing and won the event. They brought on some male members in 1985 and entered the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, becoming known as the group that sings high and loud. In 1987, at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, they were chosen "Ensemble of the Year," and in 1988 they released their first album. In the early 1990s, they moved to Helsinki and began training at the Sibelius Academy and perfecting their skills. The band first performed traditional Finnish folk songs, but in the mid-1990s began playing its own original compositions. Over the years the band has had many forms and lineup changes, and is currently made up of three female vocalists and three acoustic musicians. They have performed worldwide to international acclaim and have released 14 albums, including 3 compilation albums and one live CD. You can find Emoton on Värttinä's 1998 album Vihma. The song is the lament of "one born less beautiful" who wonders 'what will become of me?" This footage is from their 30th anniversary concert in 2013.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Today's song is about a dark chapter in Scotland's history, and the hope for some redemption. The band, Capercaillie, is a Scottish band founded in the Argyll region of Scotland in the early 1980s. Known for their mixing of traditional Gaelic tunes with modern recording techniques and instrumentation, Capercaillie started as a purely traditional band. In the 1990s, they began mix in funk bass lines, synthesizers and electric guitars into their repertoire of traditional tunes, but lately have been going back to more traditional instrumentation while retaining a light fusion feel to their music. In 1992, they recorded the first Scottish-Gaelic song to crack the UK Top 40. They have released eleven studio albums, four of which have made the UK Albums chart, and one live album. They also have two compilation albums and have performed on two soundtracks. This song, "Waiting for the Wheel to Turn" can be found on their 1991 CD Delirium, on the remix album Get Out (1992), and on the 1998 compilation album Dusk Til Dawn. This version above is their original 1991 version and video - they also have a longer remix version, seen below.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
A legendary group makes its appearance on today's random tune. Les Ambassadeurs was formed in 1970 in Mali at the suggestion of Mali's security chief. Their composer, guitarist Manfila Kante, attracted rising singer Salif Keita who defected from the hugely popular Rail Band. Les Ambassadeurs were pioneers who shaped Mali's musical landscape for decades by eschewing the "return to Africa roots" movement and allowing the traditional Manding music to be a platform from which they could experiment with modern musical styles. After revolutionizing Mali's musical scene, they moved to Parisin the late 1970s and became one of the most important bands in the burgeoning "world music" genre. They disbanded in 1985 because of creative and personal differences, but not after having a great deal to do with enhancing Mali's reputation as a musical powerhouse, and being one of the pioneers of African music on a world stage. You can find this song, Mandjougoulon, on their 2007 compilation Les Ambassadeurs feat. Salif Keita - Classic Titles.
Friday, July 8, 2016
How random is some Maori reggae from New Zealand? NRG Rising is a female-led reggae band based in Hamilton, New Zealand. It was founded by Benita Tahuri and her two daughters, Anahera-Pono and Honey, and her partner Bevin Hira. They describe themselves as "...the world’s first mother and daughters trio to front fresh, fun and conscious world music with a reggae feel and flavours of R&B." We happened upon them in Albuquerque at the Sandia Tram, where they made an impression because of their indigenous tattoos. Indigenous Maori from New Zealand are exploring connections with Native American tribes and so they were touring New Mexico to build those connections. This song, Journey, can be found on their 2011 CD From Darkness Into Light.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Our random tune today is penned by a legendary American musical icon, and put to music by a klezmer band. Holy Ground is a song by The Klezmatics, written to match lyrics penned by Woody Guthrie but never set to music. Based in New York City and formed in 1986, The Klezmatics are a Grammy award winning group that mixes older Yiddish tunes with contemporary styles of music. They have also recorded songs in Aramaic and Bavarian. Holy Ground is from their album titled Wonder Wheel (2006).
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Our random song for today is by Rachid Taha. El H'Mame is from Taha's 1998 album Diwan. Originally from Algeria but now based in France, Taha's music is influenced by rock, punk, electronica and Algerian raï and has been described as "sonically adventurous." He first became exposed to music through his Algerian culture, but moved to France as a child where in his teens he worked menial jobs during the day and DJ'd at night playing Arab music, rap, funk, salsa and other genres. He also soaked up raï, which was a music of political protest in Algeria during the 1980s. He co-founded a rock band in 1981 and became lead vocalist. Later in the 80s he went solo, and in 1989 he recorded with producer Don Was playing Arabic style beats, but didn't achieve much success with American audiences. In 1998 he recorded his breakthrough album Diwan, which were remakes of songs from Algerian and Arab traditions. He is known for playing the mandolute, which is essentially a fretted oud. He is described as an eclectic artist who is gregarious, quick with a smile, and who loves to party through the night. The song is about pigeons serving as a metaphor for peace.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Garotas Suecas, a band from São Paulo, Brazil and whose name means Swedish Girls in Portuguese, brings us the random tune for today called Eu Vou Sorrir pra Quem É Gente Boa (something on the order of I Smile for Good People). The band incorporates many styles of sound, including funk, rock and soul. They have released two studio albums and four EPs, and are known for the high production quality of their music videos, which have won awards in Brazil. They also did a multi-country tour of Europe and the US in 2012. You can find Eu Vou Sorrir pra Quem É Gente Boa, a slow funk song with Beatlesque undertones, on their 2014 album Feras Míticas.
Monday, July 4, 2016
Happy Independence Day! And what better way to celebrate our multicultural country than with a song from a quintessentially American artist interpreted by a Mexican-American! Today's random song is by El Vez, also known as Robert Lopez. Lopez was part of the punk group The Zeros and later became El Vez, the Chicano Elvis. More than just an Elvis impersonator, El Vez also performs other major rock icons including David Bowie, Iggy Pop, John Lennon, and Bob Dylan, mixing them with his own Mexican-American musical traditions. He also is known for the satire and humor in his songs, which also often express his revolutionary views. This song, En el Barrio, can be found on his 2012 compilation album How Great Thou Art - The Greatest Hits of El Vez. This video is in Spanish - there is also an English language music video here:
Sunday, July 3, 2016
La Cherga, a group of Yugoslavian ex-pats based in Graz, Austria bring's us the random tune for today called Rembetiko. The song is remixed by Shazalakazoo, a two member electronic act from Belgrade, Serbia. La Cherga is a live sound system that fuses traditional Balkan brass and accordion seamlessly with dub. Rembetiko (Shazalakazoo Remix) can be found on La Cherga's 2010 album Fake No More Remixes. It can also be found on the Balkan Club Night #2 compilation CD (2011).
Saturday, July 2, 2016
Teddy Pendergrass performs our random song for today from the soundtrack to The Power of One, a coming of age movie set in apartheid South Africa based on the novel by Bryce Courtenay. Teddy Pendergrass was a singer, songwriter and composer. After growing up in Philadelphia, where he lost his father to a murder as a young boy and where he became a minister at age 10, Pendergrass rose to fame in the early 70s as the lead singer for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. He went solo in 1977 and had multiple hits in both the disco and R&B category on his debut album. As his fame grew, especially among women, he pioneered the "women-only concerts" concept. He was informally titled The Black Elvis and his popularity briefly eclipsed Barry White and Marvin Gaye. A car accident in 1982 left him paralyzed from the chest down, but he made a triumphant and emotional return to music in 1985. He died in 2010 of respiratory failure after having complications from a surgery for colon cancer. You can find this song, The Power of One, on the soundtrack for the movie released in 1992.
Friday, July 1, 2016
Today's song, Don't Worry, is by a special project called Playing for Change, which is a project to connect the world through music. Created by American producer and sound engineer Mark Johnson, the project records street musicians around the world playing one element of each of the songs they record. They then build, layer by layer, the song by melding the recorded parts, each with the individual interpretations of the musicians involved. They have since developed the Playing for Change touring band, and they have built the Playing for Change Foundation, which funds the construction of music and art schools around the world. In this video, you'll see the contributions of a variety of musicians recorded on the street in their respective countries including: Pierre Minetti (France), Junior Kissangwa Mbouta (The Congo), Dinesh Sunam (Nepal), Venkat (India), Clarence Bekker (the Netherlands), Tula (Israel), Washboard Chaz (New Orleans), Django Degen (Spain), Grandpa Elliot (New Orleans), Sinamuva (South Africa), Rajhesh Vaidhya (India), and Tenzin Jigme (India). Don't Worry can be found on Playing For Change's 2009 CD Songs Around the World.