Friday at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2009!!!

Wavin' Flag

The rain fell as the music filled the park. Mud seethed underfoot and gushed between toes. Among the strong aromas and beautiful sounds, the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival came alive and offered another memorable year of music. Although environmental factors change from year to year, from stifling heat and dust to drenching rain and mud, the show never stopped. The music continued. And Austin proved itself again as the live music capitol of the world.

I caught Dr. Dog at the Dell Stage for my first show. I found these boys from Philadelphia to be quite harmonic, reminiscent of the psychadelia rock of the Beatles and The Byrds. Songs like “The Breeze” and “The Old Days” displayed that smooth 1960s sound. But my favorite song on the set list was “The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer.”

I had heard of Phoenix, but I had never listened to their music. A friend convinced me to see this alternative rock band from Versaille, France. The comparisons to their French peers Daft Punk and Air interested me. Ultimately I understood the comparisons, finding the sound close to a New Order-like electronica pop. Phoenix pleasantly surprised me with tunes like “Lisztomania,” “Lasso,” “If I Ever Feel Better,” “Fences,” “Girlfriend,” “Run Run Run,” “Too Young,” “Rome,” and “1901.” Many of the songs appear on the new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

The best show of the day came from the Somalian born/Canadian based rapper k’naan. Under the Wildflower Tent the slender Somalian rocked the crowd with political prose, heart-felt lyrics, and blistering beats. Appropriate adjectives include humble, inspirational, and talented.  k’naan had a broad appeal, drawing young children and old people, and all those between the young and old. An intimate performance captivated the crowd.

The track “T.I.A. [Explicit]” thundered bass as K’naan introduced the crowd to his unique brand of hip-hop. “T.I.A.” samples Bob Marley’s classic ska tune “Simmer Down,” layers it over heavy beats, and atop raps the brilliant young wordsmith. In Africa, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, 2pac, and The Notorious B.I.G. reign supreme. k’naan studied these great performers and his sound reflects those influences. Yet the sound is original. The music is gangsta but peaceful, hard but soft, and always chalk full of the contradictions and realities of life.

From Africa the Somalian took us on a trip to “America.” On the album, Mos Def and Chali 2Na join the track with their rhymes on the studio version of “America,”  but solo and live K’naan brought this song to its full potential without the help of these great lyricists. The song “Take A Minute” brought emotion to the tent. The following love ballad “Fatima” lightened the mood. And then the hardcore rap song “ABC’s” (with a Chubb Rock sample) rocked the and rolled with pure energy.

K’naan then sang a song about “Somalia,” which brought tears to the crowd’s eyes. The lyricist played two different versions beginning with an acapella and moving into a full band version. As K’naan says “his real will makes your real look like a rental.” This track talks about the perils of childhood in Somalia and the suffering of the people. K’naan harnesses the pain and realities of the world and turns them into amazing poetry. The rapper followed the tear jerker with “Bang Bang,” a nice jamming pop tune. And he ended his set with the a sing-a-long to “Wavin’ Flag.”

K’naan was the highlight of the evening. But the jams continued with Thievery Corporation. The dub electronica duo and band played on the main stage this year kicking out funky electronica with “.” The crew from Washington, D.C. also played the sitar heavy “Mandala,” displaying their unique acumen at world music.

In a testimony to the diversity of the music at ACL I caught parts of sets from the Texas country group Reckless Kelly and the hard-rocking new super trio Them Crooked Vultures. Them Crooked Vultures features bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, drummer David Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme the guitarist and lead singer from Queens Of The Stone AgeKings Of Leon headlined Friday night playing their hits “Sex On Fire,”
”On Call,” and
”Use Somebody.”

The  music continued after the festival at the ACL after shows. I went to a Township Records showcase at the Ghost Room downtown on 4th Street in the Warehouse District. I caught the end of Danny Malone‘s set. This kid has a beautifully haunting voice. My wife described him as a creepy James Taylor. His new album Cuddlebug features the eerie track “Basement.” Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township played some of my favorite tracks from the new album Yearbook, including “Ragamuffin” and “Let It Go.”

Let It Go

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Friday at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2009!!!

World of Reggae Music: Third Wave Ska

Third Wave Ska

The Jam-Tex selector presents a new chapter in the World of Reggae Music Collectioncalled “Third Wave Ska.”

The Jam-Tex selector has been working on a study and organization of the essential tracks of reggae music called “The World of Reggae Music Collection.” The selector invites others to comment on the selected tracks and to join in on the conversation about the history of reggae music.  This collection of singles began with the greatest roots reggae hits in categories entitled: “Reggae’s Superstars: The Lions of Jah”and “Reggae’s Superstars: The Lion Youth.”

Now the selector moves back in time to the roots of reggae, exploring the greatest singles from the ska tradition. Please feel free to suggest your favorite singles. The examination of the ska genre included a focused study on the founders of ska music from the late 1950s to the 1960s called: “The Ska Originals.” The next post explored the “Two-Tone Ska” movement of the 1970s and 1980s often called the second wave of ska music. This post focuses on “Third Wave Ska” music that fused ska and elements of punk.

In the 1990s the revival of ska music, known as the third wave, came in a raw form with strong ties to the punk rock music scene. It’s no surprise since ska music comes with a fast-paced rollicking energy that appealed to young working-class youths. British and American punks ate up reggae and ska, and the sound fused well with rip-roaring punk rock. My favorites from this genre include Operation Ivy, Fishbone, Rancid, and Sublime. Brad Nowell of Sublime had a knack for making great third-wave ska punk rock.

The Aggrolites have mad a distinct impression on the third-wave ska movement, bringing their California soul-drenched sound to the mix. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are symbolic of this genre, laying grimy vocals over ska horns and rock guitars. Some of the great punk bands have made their own ska-infused tracks, including NOFX, Goldfinger, the Offspring, and even the hardcore punk group Propagandhi.

Propagandhi’s track “Ska Sucks” is really a critique of the ska revival. As a representative of the punk intelligentsia, Propagandhi questions everyone and everything, including authority, religion, and the quality of the ska revival.  The song makes a captivating argument why the ska revival “sucks,” singing the message over a wonderful third wave ska sound.

Third Wave Ska…

Operation Ivy Sound System

FishboneParty At Ground Zero

RancidTime Bomb

SublimeDate Rape

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones The Impression That I Get

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs – Strawberry Fields Forever

Hepcat – Marcus Garvey

Slightly Stoopid & Angelo Moore – Ska Diddy

The Slackers – Wasted Days

Manu Chao – Machine Gun (Live)

311 – Grassroots

Rancid & Dr. Israel – Coppers

The Aggrolites Countryman Fiddle

NOFX – Bob

Manu Chao – Machine Gun

Alborosie – Patricia

Seeed – Goosebumps

Sublime – Jailhouse

Jimmy Cliff – World Upside Down

Fishbone – Cheyenne Star Forever Moore

Rancid – Fall Back Down

No Doubt, Toots & The Maytals – Monkey Man

311 – Welcome

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Simmer Down

Sublime – Wrong Way

The Slackers – I Shall Be Released

No Doubt – Spiderwebs

Rancid – Brad Logan (California Sun)

La Vela Puerca – Llenos De Magia

Reel Big Fish– Take On Me

Sublime – All You Need

Gwen Stefani – All of the DJs

The Offspring– Why Don’t You Get A Job?

La Vela Puerca – Gente

Goldfinger – I Love You More Today

Rancid & Buju Banton – Life Won’t Wait

The Slackers – Married Girl

Propagandhi – Ska Sucks

Sublime & Gwen Stefani – Saw Red

Rancid – Ruby Soho

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Rascal King

Skalariak – El Tiempo Tuyo

Fishbone – Skankin’ to the Beat

The Aggrolites – Hot Stop

Manu Chao – Mr. Bobby (Live)

Suicide Machines – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Rancid & Skinhead Rob – Red Hot Moon

Sublime – Same in the End

King Chango – Sin Ti

Jimmy Cliff – Blessed Love

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Rudie Can’t Fail

Rancid – Cocktails

Sublime – Chica Me Tipo

Panteon Rococo – Asesinos

Seeed – Eminem Ska

Manu Chao – King Kong Five (Live)

La Vela Puerca – Pedro

311 – Reggae Got Soul

Reel Big Fish – Monkey Man

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Where’d You Go?

Rancid – Hooligans

Reel Big Fish – Walkin’ On Sunshine

Rancid – Wrongful Suspicion

Fishbone – Date Rape

Skalariak – La Solucion

Reel Big Fish – Keep A Cool Head

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Why Can’t We Be Friends

La Vela Puerca – Alta Magia

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs – What’s New Pussycat

Skalariak – En Mi Nombre

King Chango – Full Time Business

 

NEED

Reel Big Fish – Sellout

Skavoovie & The Epitones – One Mint Julep

The AggrolitesGhost Town

The Stingers ATX Painting Portraits

Supervillians – Resin

Buck-O-NineIrish Drinking Song

Dance Hall Crashers Lost Again

The Mighty Mighty BosstonesSomeday I Suppose

Sektacore – Cool Cat

The InstepsThe Insteps

Mu330Hoosier Love

The Scofflaws – Grazin’ in the Grass

Westbound TrainCheck Your Time

Hub City Stompers – Leave Me the Fuck Alone

The Pietasters – Out All Night

Deal’s Gone BadMovin’ On

The AquabatsPool Party

Stingers ATX – Let’s Be In Love

Less Than Jake – We Go Together

Mustard Plug – Mr. Smiley

Skavoovie & the Epitones – She Sure Can Cook

Streetlight Manifesto – Keasbey Nights

Mad Caddies – Drinking for 11

Soweto – Blue Ska

No 1 Station – Last Train

Skapone – Guns and Steeples

Soulsteppers – Warhead

Deal’s Gone Bad Messin’ Around

Soweto – Honey Rider

Stan or Itchy – Feelin’ Good

The New York Jazz Ensemble – Haitian Fight Song

The Pietasters – Maggie May

Buck-O-Nine My Town

Dancehall Crashers – Don’t Wanna Behave

MU330 – KKK Hiway

Deal’s Gone Bad – Be Mine Tonight

The Scofflaws Ska-La-Carte

The Hub City Stompers – I’ve Got A Boot

The Stingers ATX – Rock and Ska

Mustard Plug – Brain on Ska

Skavoovie & the Epitones – Parakeet

Westbound Train Why You Cry

World of Reggae Music: Third Wave Ska

The Best of April 2009!!!

The Best of April 2009!!!

1. Graham Wilkinson & the Underground TownshipYearbook [Township Records 2009]
2. K’NaanTroubadour [Octone Records 2009]
3. Buju BantonRasta Got Soul [Gargamel 2009]
4. Bob Dylan Together Through Life [Columbia 2009]
5. CunninlynguistsStrange Journey Volume One [QNS 2009]
6. J.J. Cale Roll On [Rounder 2009]
7. B RealSmoke and Mirrors [Duck Down 2009]
8. Jah CureThe Universal Cure [SoBe 2009]
9. Souls of Mischief Tour Stories [Hieroglyphics Imporium 2009]
10. JahmaliEl Shaddai [Penthouse 2009]
11. Various ArtistsEvolution Dub Volume 1: The Origin of the Species [Greensleeves 2009]
12. Various ArtistsEvolution Dub Volume 2: The Great Leap Forward [Greensleeves 2009]
13. SizzlaGhetto Youthology [Greensleeves 2009]
14. Bitty McLeanMovin On [Taxi 2009]
15. John Brown’s BodyRe-Amplify [Easy Star Records 2009]

Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township released a new album on Township Records, Yearbook, this month that brings the best of Texas roots music to the fore. Graham Wilkinson has proven himself not only as a songwriter but also as an arranger. Some of the songs on this album come from earlier albums but here they are arranged in new and lovely ways. On the track “Ragamuffin,” Hayes Carll lends his voice and Lloyd Maines plays his pedal-steel guitar. “Let It Go” stands out as an americana roots jam and “La Briza” casts an easy groovy spell. “Boys and Girls” is a reggafied track that has a ska sound.  On the strings laden “Ghosts,” a previously unreleased track,  Alejandro Esovedo adds his voice to this rock n’ roll piece of art. Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township and the boys at Township Records, including producer and bassist Wayne Dalchau, have done it again. And this time the album artwork and concept of the Yearbook make it worth getting the hard copy of this album. Get the digital album if need be but the artwork and music make this album a tangible item one needs to hold, see, listen, and appreciate. Like the old days before the digital single this album harkens back to the good old days of the concept album. This album, Yearbook, captures a year of creativity, music, and Austin vibes.

K’Naan the Somalian rapper dropped sweltering rhymes over fat beats on his new album Troubadour. The track “I Come Prepared” with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley stands out as a powerful song and the track “ABC’s” with Chubb Rock is slamming. Chali 2Na Fish, Mos Def, and Adam Levine also co-star on this album. But K’Naan shines on solo tracks too. The track “T.I.A.,” which stand for “This Is Africa,” samples Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Simmer Down” with heavy bass drops chopping the old rhythm into a new dancehall beat. The Somalian rapper shows his softer side on ballads like “Wavin’ Flag” and “Take A Minute.” I am looking forward to seeing the live show.

The Best of April 2009!!!