Leonino is the latest project from legendary Chilean artist Jorge Gonzalez, original member of and songwriter for the highly influential 80’s band Los Prisioneros. Coming up in Pinochet’s Chile, Gonzalez’s music was a resistance to the dictatorship, a rising cry for the alienated and disaffected youth of the nation. The group’s particular brand of new wave flavored, rock-a-billy punk made them arguably the biggest band in their native Chile, saw them achieve immense popularity throughout the rest of Latin America, and culminated with tours with artists like Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen. And then they disbanded in the early 1990’s.
There is a band that is doing something unlike any other band out there. I’d say they are the future of popular music but that’s a stupid knee-jerk reactionary statement that makes absolutely no sense and actually diminishes the band because, well, the future of popular music should be so good. That band is Tune-yards and they are making some of the most interesting music I have heard in years. And while their two newest records – 2011’s WHOKILL and this year’s Nikki Nack – are both great examples of the classic philosophy that presupposes to treat the musical album as an artistic statement they are also considerably eclectic, strange even when compared to modern rock/popular music.
I can’t claim to dig an entire record by Christopher Cross, probably not even all of his singles. However, there’s a handful of this guy’s music that, when time and space are properly aligned, I dig. Part of this is no doubt nostalgia. Part of it though is that I think Cross’ brand of Adult Contemporary-meets-Pop Rock wasn’t so much the former at the time but the latter. I’m pretty sure that when this guy was releasing music the term “Adult Contemporary” didn’t even exist. I think it was eventually made to accommodate Cross and his peers. This particular strain of rock is very much where a certain niche of “artists” in the early 80s headed after Michael McDonald segued out of The Doobie Bros. and hit it big making slightly atmospheric soundtrack music for aging hippies seduced from their thoughts of changing the world by thoughts of changing their income tax bracket by glombing onto the watered-down trappings of the “New Age” (or as I like to call it “Failed Hippy”) movement. You know New Age- that sinister pointlessness that, for a certain demographic in the early 80s replaced taking acid and holding sit-ins with taking cocaine, moving to New York City and selling candles and cassettes containing mantras. ALL of that baggage appears present in Christopher Cross’s music, but the funny thing is, after hating this for most of my life I’ve subsequently found, not so much a redeeming quality to it as an interesting musical archeological imprint from it.
Just like getting pummeled in the face by a barrage of instruments, a cacophony of cymbals, distorted harmonica, and sound, a weathered and guttural old voice coming from the deepest, darkest pit of defeated and downtrodden old bluesmen, the opening title track from legendary performer Tomás Doncker’s new album, Big Apple Blues, comes out kicking and scratching before settling into a familiar and comfortable flow. Pairing up with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, the record moves, dealing in blues, jazz, rock and roll, and world flavors, a kind of “global soul” music for the masses. It’s classic. It’s immediate. It’s timeless. It’s an ode to the big city.
Ah, the remix, the loving testament of re-imagining or reinterpreting a piece of audio art and putting one’s own sonic stamp on it. They’re fun to listen to, and it’s always a joy to discover one that equals, if not improves upon, the original jam…which brings us to producer Jneiro Jarel’s spacey and ethereal take on Brooklyn R&B synth-pop artist Amatus and her song “Messin’.”
So our main contributors have bared a small piece of their music skeletons. And I was tagged to enter the booth. I really had a tough time with because, you know ALL the music I listen is great and I have impeccable taste.
*Cue the eye rolls and bullshit cough in the background.