Archive for WNYU

Count Ossie and The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari- “Grounation” 3xLP (1973)

Posted in music, records, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2008 by criticalreviews

Going to college in Charleston kinda left a bad taste for reggae with me…while Andolinis Pizza always played great old school stuff I was too blinded by all of the frat boys wearing Bob Marley t-shirts to notice the great music they had on. But reggae really hit me sometime last fall. I had been listening to Mystic Sound on East Village Radio and Tunnel One on WNYU, and really liked what I heard but didn’t know where to start with purchasing LPs. I had recently come back into contact with a friend of mine, Jay (formerly of Andolinis Pizza), who does a couple really rad internet radio shows out of Austin, TX. Jay started me off with some suggestions, and now when ever I have a question I tend to shoot him an email. My brother got me for X-Mas a copy of Soul Jazz’s Studio One Roots and the first song on it is a short little instrumental number by Count Ossie and the Cyclones (which I was living and dying with for most of January and February). I did some research into it, and didn’t come up with much so I sent Jay an email and he told me to check out Count Ossie’s classic album Grounation.

So I had heard that Jammyland, the great reggae shop in the East Village, had closed and stopped in to confirm this was just a rumor. While Jammyland was open I found out, and very sadly so, that they will be closing thier doors at the end of May. Jammyland’s rent was raised, and they are currently looking for a new spot, but the guy working the store didn’t sound super positive (I guess this will be a temporary end to Hospital Productions as well). One good thing that did come out of my visit to Jammyland was that they finally tracked down some copies of the currently out of print Grounation on LP.

So I was skeptical at first of the LP. I had read that Grounation was typically a scratchy sounding record, but I took my chances (after a little encouragement from klk). The album art is fantastic:

The records, and there are three of them, were housed in plastic bags (typical of reggae vinyl pressed in Jamaica from my experience thus far). I took care of that as soon as I got home getting them in proper dust jackets. While the records themselves have quite a bit of popping and crackling, especially when the needle gets toward the center, but this is just due to the press not the condition of the vinyl…. the music is amazing.

Count Ossie is known for bringing Nyabinghi culture (which is considered the strictest form of Rastafarianism) to reggae. Ossie is credited not only with creating many of the Nyabinghi rhythms as well as being the first to record Nyabinghi drumming, but many music historians credit his song “Oh Carolina” (a version of which is on Groundation) as being the first reggae record ever made.

Musically Groundation is extremely hypnotic, and this is mainly because of the drumming, and overall has more of a tribal feel(much more so than any of the other reggae records I have). The album lyrically is mainly talking and preaching over the music (there is a little singing), and chanting (which are characteristic of Nyabinghi Celebrations aka Grounations). The title track of the album is over 30 minutes long, and takes up the entire 3rd LP. This album is raw, and you can tell that it was recorded in the early days of reggae. I can see how reggae, overall, was greatly influence by The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari not only in Nyabinghi rhythms and drumming, but even in vocals and music, especially if you listen to “Oh Carolina” (this is the most traditional sounding tune on the album).

I think of this record as a cultural experience, and very few albums give me the feelings and chills that this one does…if you play it loud enough it almost feels like you are in the middle of the ceremony…like you are sitting next to one of the drummers (so much so that some of the drums are much louder at times than others), and the singer is preaching to you. Spiritual.

I can say it is really unlike anything I have ever heard, and I highly recommend it, if you have any interest in reggae music.

Although I can’t embed it…you can listen to “Oh Carolina” here (as well as many others)

Jay, mentioned above, helped me out with a bit of my history and currently spins roots and dub records on kvrx.org from Monday night/Tuesday from 12am-1am Eastern time, and on KAOS959 8-10pm on Tuesdays. Thank for everything Jay!

(Tom)

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The Dodos and No Kids @ The Mercury Lounge. Sunday April 6th, 2008.

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2008 by criticalreviews

I am not sure when this show got announced, but it sold out fast. On Tuesday I went down to the Mercury Lounge Box Office to buy tickets for it. I got all the way down there to find out that the show had sold out the day before, and that they had not had a chance to update the website (bummer). I thought all hope was lost for this show…but I had a stroke of luck. I was ridding the 1 Train home from work on Thursday (which I don’t normally do), and my phone rang while the train was underground. KLK had called to tell me WNYU was giving tickets away for the Dodos show. I was like “I’m underground I don’t know what I can do” (she would have called but she had already won tickets from WNYU this month). So when the train stopped at 145th Street I ran out of the train and up the steps….my phone is ringing and ringing….WNYU answers, and I ask “Have you given the Dodos tickets away yet?” and she was like “No, what’s your name?” So we still got to go even though the show sold out(sorry Leah).

We got to the show while Silje Nes was still on stage. She played guitar and had a drummer backing her. Her music was pretty (as was she). She layered her guitar tracks on a loop pedal crafting her songs. Other than the song that she was playing when we walked in (which was pretty rocking, and although she was sitting down she was still thrashing), her songs were slightly anticlimactic, but very pleasant. The loops didn’t quite build up into something more…the songs remained pretty minimalistic, not that this was a bad thing, I was just expecting the songs to keep building rather than breaking back down (when I think about it though this concept of building a song and breaking it down before the finish interests me). I can’t say too much more other than I think I would enjoy seeing her play again.

Next up was No Kids.

So the first time I saw Nick Krgovich was at the live preformance of Worried Noodles by David Shrigley at the Knitting Factory, and he was preforming with Phil Elverum. I was instantly intrigued by him. Not only was he collaborating with Elverum, but he has a sweet soulful R&B voice (ala Prince). The collaboration between the two was amazing, and I immediately looked into his band, No Kids. No Kids is Krgovich (keyboard), Julia Chirka (keyboards) and Justin Kellam (drums), all of whom were formerly in P:ano (whom I am not all that familiar with but am eager to look into).

No Kids jumped on the Dodos bill on their day off from being on tour with the Dirty Projectors (both of whom are playing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday). So they might have been just another keyboard rock band, but this band is so entirely unique that there isn’t anything quite like them going on right now (and if we hadn’t seen Krgovich play with Elverum we probably would have missed it). Live Julia and Justin are great musicians, but I really feel that Krgovich steals the show…not only with his voice, but his dancing…which I can say is second only to Calvin Johnson when it comes to indie rockers that can break moves. I might even say that my dream dance off would be Krgovich verses Johnson (where they choose the songs for each other….but this is far off in my dreams where they are dancing on clouds).

No Kids were actually really funny in between songs…including talking a little about their bad experience with Princeton frat boys, and even noting to the crowd that their world music tinged songs were “written before you know who” and noting their “Ivy League” vibe (ohhhh Vampire Weekend).

I feel like a lot of the reviews that I have read of the recent No Kids record Come Into My House (on Tomlab) rely far to heavily on a comparison between the member’s old band: P:ano. It’s not that I think it shouldn’t be noted that they were in what all of these reviewers consider a really great band previously, but you can’t expect a band to reproducing something that they have obviously moved on from (hence the new name). I almost feel like this album would have went over much better with reviewers if P:ano hadn’t existed, but whatever…I’m loving it. I was originally a little disappointed when Come Into My House was released because the CD came out way before the LP, but I was happy to pick it up from the band last night.

It was clear by the end of No Kids set that some of the people that were there to see the Dodos were getting a little impatient, but that was Ok with me…some people just might not be ready for the sexy voice of Krgovich, but we were…and we will be happy to see No Kids again on Wednesday.

The Dodos were up next. We had been given a heads up about these guys by our friend Cat who lives in San Francisco…and then a week and a half later they get best new music on Pitchfork. So I kinda had high expectations, and I was not disappointed. The Dodos set up was, for the most part, a duo with Meric Long playing mostly acoustic guitar and Logan Kroeber on drums…the stage set up has Long on a chair on the left side, and Kroeber’s drum set pulled up the the front of the stage (equally in the spotlight). They were backed occasionally by another gentleman who played xylophone, and a toy piano among other instruments. The intense folk sounds of The Dodos were absolutely tremendous, and they play with the fury of a punk band. I haven’t see a band produce as much sweat as The Dodos did in a really long time. I am really glad that I got to see them at a place as small as the Mercury Lounge. This is one of those bands that I think is going to get really big really fast. They are great both live and recorded. And I believe they deserve this…they are accessible and extremely innovative at the same time (this band is going to find itself a huge fan base while keeping music dorks, like me, interested). Musically The Dodos pull from an extremely large range of influences from Animal Collective to more traditional folk (I personally see a bit of old Mountain Goats or Billy Bragg), punk (even if it is just the speed and energy that these two guys put into their live music), blues, and even to The Magnetic Fields(see the song “Undeclared” if you think this is a stretch). They played for about an hour, which included a three song encore. The set consisted mostly of songs off of the new French Kiss release Visitor, but there were several songs played that I was unfamiliar with (new or old not totally sure). I have seen quite a few shows this year so far, but the Dodos and No Kids put on one of the best so far.

I don’t think that anyone who could physically see the Dodos, which might have been hard for some people both Long and Kroeber sit down while playing, would disagree that this band is great live, and their intensity can be matched by very few other acts out today.

The Dodos also had copies of the limited press of Visitor that French Kiss put out on white double LP (it looks wonderful).

I look forward to seeing The Dodos play again, but I am sure that it will be in a much large space, and that this show (I say this very sadly) may be the best show I ever see them play. It was just that good.

Media:

The Dodos “Fools” video

NO KIDS “The Beaches All Closed”:

Photos from Drew Katchen/Pitchforkmedia.com

(Tom)