2021: The Year In Retro

A selection of some of the finest legacy albums released in 2021, sorted in alphabetical order.

Alice Coltrane – Kirtan: Turiya Sings (Universal)

The Beatles – Let It Be 50 Anniversary Edition (Universal)

Bruce Springsteen – The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts (Columbia)
Can – Live Stuttgart 1975 (Mute/PIAS)
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (50th Anniversary Edition) (Universal)
Joel Vandroogenbroeck – Far View (Drag City)
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme – Live in Seattle (Impulse!)

Karate – The Bed Is in the Ocean (Numero/Secretly Canadian)

Magic Roundabout – Up (Third Man)

Nirvana – Nevermind (30th Anniversary Edition) (Universal)
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (Warp)
Various artists – It’s a Good, Good Feeling: The Latin Soul of Fania Records

2020 Year of the Rat: 10 archival greats

Various artists – Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 (Captured Tracks)

Pylon – Box (New West)

Jason Molina – Eight Gates (Secretly Canadian)

Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All the Rest (Warner)
Joni Mitchell ‎– Archives – Volume 1: The Early Years 1963-1967 (Rhino)
Thelonious Monk – Palo Alto (Impulse!/Verve)
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Live in Maui (Sony/Legacy)
Nina Simone – Fodder On My Wings (Verve)
Various artists – Sumer Is Icumen In (The Pagan Sound Of British And Irish Folk 1966-75) (Grapefruit)
Jon Hassell – Vernal Equinox (Ndeya)

Fantastic Negrito: Black Roots Music

This article was first published on May 27, 2016.

Fantastic Negrito is an ambitious musical project of Xavier Dphrepaulezz, who aims to unify the past and future of his native Oakland, a once dangerous city currently in the midst of a cultural and economic renaissance. The 46-year-old musician had all but quit music when a nearly-fatal car accident inspired him to pick up his guitar and channel a new persona, one inspired in part by bluesmen like Skip James. Once aptly called the “punk rock Al Green,” Xavier’s sound might best be characterized as a meeting of blues and punk, which creates a soulful and simultaneously high-energy blend that’s bound to move and impress.

Set for release on June 3, 2016 The Last Days of Oakland marks Fantastic Negrito’s eagerly anticipated full-length debut, one concerning the changes he’s seen amidst the decline and rebirth of his hometown. In the meantime, enjoy his latest hard-hitting single, “Lost in a Crowd”, and the to know him a little better.

Please introduce yourself. Who is Fantastic Negrito?

For the record my mother still won’t call me Fantastic Negrito.

I’m a musician out of Oakland, and I’m in a collective called Blackball Universe. I play black roots music for all people, and I try as hard as I can to be honest at all times, in my music — and in this interview.

What’s the story behind your artist name?

It first started off in a different form, Nigga Fantastic. It was a phrase I’d use to describe the polar extremes my brothers and sisters operate on. I always marveled at cats in the hood being half super villain, half super hero: knock a cop out, get a chick pregnant, save a baby from a burning fire while drinking a 40. When I started getting back into music I wanted to take that energy and make it something positive, and I knew many of my blues idols took on names that reflected their vibe, so I flipped it into something more celebratory: Fantastic Negrito. A celebration of blackness and black roots music….with a Latino twist.

Tell us a little about The Last Days of Oakland. What’s the main story you want to communicate with this album?

I came up with the title The Last Days of Oakland while I was touring last year, to mark the end of an era. Cities have become unaffordable. Black people are leaving in large numbers. Artists too. Everyone feels the loss of culture and diversity. People can’t afford to stay in the neighborhoods where they were born and raised.

Even with all of that, I feel the end of something always means the beginning of something new. It’s really up to us collectively to step forward and be heard. To protect the things we love and value about the communities we live in. We are in this together.

What’s in your opinion the biggest difference of being an artist now and back in the mid 90s?

Now it’s all about having a direct relationship with the fans. The machine is broken, and maybe that’s a good thing. You have to do everything yourself, take chances, take risk. Really expose yourself creatively. It took me most of my life to learn how to do that. I’m still learning.

Also, because I didn’t have the burden of trying to “make it” the way they did in the 90s, I was free to allow myself to grow into whatever I am now. And I think I may be honing in on a sound that I can legitimately call mine…meaning I’m ripping great blues musicians off with style.

Who were your musical heroes growing up?

Not the same ones I have now. Except Prince, who taught a young kid from the streets that it was okay to be different. That it was okay to dress different and be a little wild. To not make music according to a genre or type. He made a lot of my choices okay when there were not a lot of other examples out there.

Now the musicians I admire the most are ones I was exposed to as a kid but didn’t appreciate. Music that my parents would play. Robert Johnson, Skip James, Leadbelly. They’re the standard. Along with people I’ve met in the last couple years like Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy.

Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music?

I just met Robert Plant. I love Zeppelin. Love them, turned my boys onto them once we were old enough to listen to “white” music without it causing drama. He came to one of my shows and dug it. Robert Plant doesn’t cut anyone slack. He doesn’t fuck around pretending to like shit he doesn’t like and there’s something awesome about that. I have that in me but try to resist it because in this era, musicians HAVE to support each other to survive, but Plant is a giant. He’s raw with his opinions. Also, had a deep deep knowledge of black roots music, which is really what he played.

What’s the best new song you recently discovered?

“Two Wings” by Utah Smith

Can you share a fun fact about you or your music?

There is a dash of hip hop in everything I do. Remember, though my heart is the blues, I grew up on Hip Hop. Some of those aesthetics are ingrained in me. I love the minimalism of Rick Rubin. What I will do is strip my music all the way down to just the few cords, then I loop those. So the loops are born specifically for the song, they’re not samples, but they’re distilled to just the hardest shit. And my drums are often done the same way.

What’s your favorite activity besides music?

If you’re from the Bay you can’t help but love great food. That doesn’t mean the fanciest restaurants; it means good authentic food from around the world.

If you see my twitter posts I’m always posting pictures of my meals. Everyone on my team tells me no one cares what I’m eating. They’re probably right, but that’s their problem. My twitter account is not part of the collective.

What’s coming next for Fantastic Negrito?

I’m about to go ham in the studio after I tour. I’m heading out with Chris Cornell in June, plus a few festivals like Bottle Rock and Outsidelands, then Europe and a short U.S. tour with my full band. But I also have some ideas on music that I’m excited to try out.

Looking one year ahead, where would you like to see yourself?

Like I said, I gotta get busy in the studio and make a couple of records. I have two approaches to what I’m gonna do. One will be a progression with Fantastic Negrito, keeping it raw and getting to the most primal essence of American music. The other’s gonna be something that has more hip hop fused into it, with a real concept. Trying to push. Push push push push.

And finally, if your music were a physical object what would it be? Please describe.

Maybe a bullwhip, or some object that ties directly to struggle and perseverance. Because that is at the essence of all American music. A shackle or a whip or something that brings out the raw angst and human condition that all people can relate to. That’s what’s great about black roots music, it is the distilled raw emotions that are at the heart of all emotions. When that whip cracks, power and misery connect all souls, including the individual administering it.

The Year In Music 2019: Legacy Albums

Høydepunkter fra den store mengden historiske plateutgivelser i 2019, i alfabetisk, ikke rangert rekkefølge:

Arthur Russell – Iowa Dream (Audika)

The Beatles – Abbey Road (Apple)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Live at Woodstock (Fantasy)

Ernest Hood – Neighborhood (Thistlefield)

Gene Clark – No Other (4AD)

John Coltrane – Blue World (Impulse!)

Neil Young – Tuscaloosa (Reprise)

The Replacements – Dead Man’s Pop (Rhino)

Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band ‎– Pedal Steal + Four Corners (Paradise of Bachelors)

Various Artists – Kankyō Ongaku (Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980 – 1990) (Light in the Attic)

Year In Music 2019: Nye Album

Albumåret 2019

Her er noen av svært mange plater det er verdt å hedre litt ekstra. Topp 10 i alfabetisk rekkefølge, og med et knippe andre godbiter under:

Big|Brave – A Gaze Among Them (Southern Lord)

Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence (Sargent House)


Drugdealer – Raw Honey (Mexican Summer)

Gatecreeper – Deserted (Relapse)

Ian Noe – Between The Country (National Treasury)

Lankum – The Livelong Day (Rough Trade)

Lumen Drones – Umbra (Hubro)

Purple Mountains – s/t (Drag City)

Steve Gunn – The Unseen In Between (Matador)

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (Sub Pop)

Honorable Mentions:
The Comet is Coming – The Afterlife
The Delines – The Imperial
The Dream Syndicate ‎– These Times
Garcia Peoples – One Step Behind
Inter Arma – Sulphur English
Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
The Long Ryders – Psychedelic Country Soul
Marcus Hamblett – Detritus
Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA
Moor Mother – Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
Numenorean – Adore
Paul Cauthen – Room 41
Red River Dialect – Abundance Welcoming Ghosts
slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance
Tyler Childers – Country Squire
Zonal – Wrecked

GospelbeacH: Where Breezy Songcraft Meets Sunny Harmonies

This article was first published on November 17, 2015. This piece also serves as a loving memory of Neal Casal who sadly passed away on August 26, 2019. Forever love, Neal. Thanks for all your music.

GospelbeacH might be a new acquaintance, but there’s something warmly familiar about them.

Led by singers, guitarists and songwriters Brent Rademaker and Neal Casal, and featuring guitarist Jason Soda, bassist Kip Boardman and drummer Tom Sanford, the band includes members of beloved acts Beachwood Sparks, The Tyde and Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. Just like the music itself, this prestigious collective defies the boundaries of time and style.

GospelbeacH takes us down on a warm and wonderful journey where breezy songcraft meets sunny harmonies, somewhere along the same ways The Flying Burrito Brothers, Grateful Dead and Buffalo Springfield once tread.

Their recently released debut album, Pacific Surf Line – referring to the replacement of the once-mighty steam engines of the Santa Fe Railway by the modern Pacific Surfliner that now traverses the Southern Californian coastline – forges five creative forces into one steamrolling train of cosmic American music.

We hooked up with Rademaker and Casal for this offbeat Q&A.

* * *

What’s the first thing you thought about this morning?

Brent Rademaker: Why did they try to make 12 Monkeys into a television show?

Neal Casal: Are there waves today?

What’s the best gift you ever received?

Brent: This year my wife bought me a Martin acoustic guitar. Materialistic, yes, but it was my birthday and it came from her so it’s the best hands down.

Neal: A job in GospelbeacH

Who were your musical heroes growing up?

Brent: Chicago, Kiss, Maynard Ferguson and my dad.

Neal: Brian Jones, Randy Rhodes, Sly Stone, Kate Wolf.

In case of fire, what three things would you rescue?

Brent: My wife, my dogs and my Martin.

Neal: My Gibson J-50, my Leica M-6 and my Source 9’10 longboard

Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music?

Brent: Gram Parsons.

Neal: Peace And Love by Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus

Most unlikely album, song or artist that inspires your own music?

Brent: Foreigner

Neal: Aerosmith’s Draw the Line.

Best new song you recently discovered?

Brent: “Something to Believe In” by Tall Tales and the Silver Lining

Neal: “Mrs. Gristle’s Reel” by Nathan Salsburg

Can you share a fun fact about your new album?

Brent: We recorded the name “Lompoc” by over-pronouncing it “Lom-Poke,” and then “Lom-Pock,” as it seems there is some controversy about just how the California city’s name is pronounced. The correct way is “Pock” but the locals say “Poke.” We sing it both ways in concert… oh well.

Neal: We honestly had a good time making it and we’re still friends after it was finished.

Explain your music to your grandparents?

Brent: It’s like what they played on the jukebox at Garbers Tavern in Emden, Illinois in 1974.

Neal: I’m guessing they would have dug it.

What’s your favorite activity besides music?

Brent: I enjoy writing these days.

Neal: Making photographs.

What’s your greatest fear?

Brent: Fear itself.

Neal: Running out of half & half.

What’s a place you’ve never been that you want to go?

Brent: The Bahamas.

Neal: India. I’d like to hear Indian classical music at its source.

What’s your favorite piece of gear on stage?

Brent: I love my thick curly black Vox guitar cable because Mick Jones had one just like it.

Neal: My tuner.

Can you share the recipe to your favorite dish.

1/2 avocado (not too ripe)
1 slice of sprouted grain bread
1 pad of butter (optional)
1 pinch of course sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

toast bread
apply butter (optional)
spread and smash avocado onto toast
crumble salt and drizzle olive oil

Neal: Capn’ Crunch and milk.

And finally, describe your music as if it were in physical form.

Brent: A red, white and blue vessel full of a golden flowing effervescent magic liquid that brings instant joy to everyone. Oh, wait, that’s a can of Miller Lite… yeah that!

Neal: An eraser.

PUP: Disillusionment and Desire

This interview was first published on May 27, 2016

Following up on their infectious 2013 debut, Toronto’s punk-rock foursome PUP has just unleashed their sophomore full-length. The Dream Is Over (SideOneDummy) is already hailed as ‘one of the most unapologetically over-the-top punk albums in recent memory’ (Sputnikmusic) and ‘more unhinged, louder and much more direct than ever’ (Punknews).

Dealing with straining relationships and a sense of adult disillusionment, The Dream is Over is channeling their energetic and catchy tunes into a raw and honest account of real life.

“I think that a lot of people in their mid-20’s start to feel this sense of disillusionment – realising that maybe life isn’t going to turn out exactly as you’d pictured it. I love touring and playing music more than anything in the world”, says singer and guitarist Stefan Babcock.

“But there’s also this realisation that maybe the romanticised version of this lifestyle I’d imagined 10 years ago has little or no relation to the actual experience. I used to dream about this shit when I was a kid. But I never dreamt about the bad days – waking up in a Walmart parking lot in a van full of dudes, and thinking ‘Fuck, I’m 27, broke, and lonely. What am I doing?’

Opening track “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” is a perfect picture of their current state, on an album packed with songs that bear the marks, bruises and scars of the realities of their experiences, as well as it also captures the sheer joy of their journey. It’s one hell of an album, and we invited drummer Zack Mykula for an Off/Beat Q&A:

What’s the best gift you ever received?
Either the original Ghostbusters playhouse, or the gift of having two Christmases due to my parents’ divorce.

The advice you wished someone would have given you.
“You’d better get a job where you’re allowed to hide your face, son. Cause your particular brand of ugly haunts the senses like the smell of a living dog turd smoking a cigarette.”

Describe your earliest memory that made you want to become a musician.
When I was young (about 3 y/o), and my parents would get sick of my yammering, they’d stick me in the back room with pots and pans and spatulas and I would let fly. Obviously, it sucked for all concerned – but I loved it.

Most unlikely band/artist/song that inspires your music.
Young Widows

What’s the first thing you thought this morning?
“I need an illegal amount of coffee”

If you weren’t an artist – what would you do?
Make beer / drink that beer / repeat / be on a waiting list for a new liver.

What’s your greatest fear?
Falling while walking up concrete steps and shattering my teeth, irreparably.

A genre that you just don’t understand.
Vaporwave. It will be the music that plays while the machines rise up and turn us all into living batteries, putting our collective consciousness in a virtual reality simulation of a comfortable existence.

A book that you wish everyone would read.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Make up a fake story about the title of your new album.
“The Dream is Over” is actually “Dre A.M. is Over”, and it’s a concept album about the tragic cancellation of Dr. Dre’s new, critically lauded but criminally under-appreciated morning show.

Jay Som: Mild and Spicy

This interview was first published on March 20, 2017

Emerging indie artist Melina Duterte, AKA Jay Som, has managed to impress critics with her every release to date. After originally planning to pursue a conservatory program for jazz, Duterte rather enrolled in community college, studying studio technology, songwriting and music production instead. It was around this time that she began writing and recording demos in her bedroom studio, subsequently releasing them on Bandcamp in 2015 under her Jay Som moniker. The original 9 track EP has since been re-released twice to rave reviews. Everybody Works is just released on Polyvinyl Records to great acclaim.

Who is Jay Som? Can you please introduce yourself?
Hello!! Jay Som is me (Melina Duterte). I am 22 years old and I live in Oakland, California

Tell us a little about your new album. What’s it about, and what do we get?
It’s about whatever you want it to be about, nothing too specific. You get to hear 10 songs.

Who were your musical heroes growing up?
Karen O, Avril Lavigne, The Donnas, Beyoncé, DCFC.

When and how did you first get into music?
My mom bought me a tiny acoustic guitar for my 8th birthday and I taught myself for a while, then I picked up the trumpet and that shaped most of my musicianship skills.

Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music?
The Glow Pt.2 by The Microphones

What’s the best new song you recently discovered?
“To You” by Andy Shauf

Can you share a fun fact about you or your music?
I am very good at catching small things in my mouth (popcorn, candy, etc.)

Any other favorite activities?
I love to binge watch Netflix shows and movies until 4am.

What’s coming next for Jay Som?
Getting ready for hefty touring for most of 2017, I’m also working on some demos for the new record; definitely want to spend a lot of time on the next one.

Looking one year ahead, where would you like to see yourself?
I would like music to still be a consistent part of my life next year. Maybe I’ll be in a different city working on multiple projects in a house with a pool and a dog.

And finally, if your music was a food what would it be?
My music would for sure be a nice soup, kind of mild and spicy but pleasant.

J Hus: An English Mercedes Benz

This article was first published on July 10, 2017

Momodou Jallow is a British born genre bending singer and rapper of Gambian descent, better known as rapidly rising J Hus. The 21-year-old has already collaborated with high profiled British MC’s Stormzy, Nines and Dave, to mention a few, and fully broke through as a solo artist with the hit single “Did You See” earlier this year. In May he followed up with his debut full length, critically acclaimed Common Sense.

Pitchfork described the album as “the best of grime, Afrobeat, dancehall, and early ’00s hip-hop into a vibrant, wholly unique sound”, and this boundary-dancing playfulness is unquestionably one of J Hus most striking qualities.

London, the southern and eastern parts in particular, has for a long time been an artistic hub for urban globetrotting, and this scope is an aspect that makes J Hus a poster-boy for the sound of 2017. His flawless flirting with different cultures, including Jamaica, Ghana, London and Atlanta, would almost be unheard of just a couple years back. Now, this is the direction to the future of music.

J Hus has gone a long way towards this status. He was a name to watch already back in 2015, when he caught a buzz with the break-out track “Dem Boy Paigon” and mixtape The 15th Day. On a sour note, that same year he was stabbed multiple times and sparked a fury while “making gang signs from the hospital bed” according to British press.

He was tipped by the BBC in its Sound of 2016 list, and has constantly been in the limelight for the last couple of years – at least among the insiders of the scene. Without compromise and no sense of debutant nerves, Common Sense is a remarkable strong debut from a young, skilled and confident artist set for worldwide domination.

Who is J Hus?

I’m everything you’ve heard before, and nothing you’ve ever heard before…

Tell us a little about your recent album debut Common Sense. What do we get and what’s it about?

It’s a big mix of a lot of things; there’s rap on there, afro beat, bashment, some ballads, even a little garage. The opening track, “Common Sense”, is a statement for me. I wanted to start the album very confidently, 100%. People often think of me as a singer, and I wanted to reaffirm myself as a rapper. I’ve got bars!

Who are your musical heroes?

I love 50 Cent, he’s been a massive inspiration of mine, from Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, which is one of the first albums I ever bought and listened to from start to finish.

When and how did you first get into music?

I always used to freestyle infront of the mandem but didn’t take music serious. 2014 I sat down in the car with one of my managers and spoke about taking it properly. Then started dropping freestyles, which people were feeling. Tried to put character in the freestyles, do and say things rappers wasn’t doing.

Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music?

50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’,

What’s the best new song you recently discovered?

Mr Eazi – “Leg Over”

Can you share a fun fact about you or your music?

You don’t know what to expect

What’s your favorite activity besides music?

I love boxing, I’m gonna take it up properly soon and get real hench.

What’s coming next for J Hus?

I’m still just grinding in the studio. Even since I finished the album, I’ve been recording more songs with my partner Jae5. I’ve got at least one EP’s worth of music ready to go, and loads more to come. I just wanna keep surprising people. I’m never satisfied, I always want more.

Looking one year ahead, where would you like to see yourself?

Want to still be the same J Hus but advancing in my music and still the most diverse. Hopefully I can achieve much more next year and continue just getting better and better.

Finally, if your music was a car what would it be?

Mercedes Benz

Half Moon Run: 5 Albums That Shaped Us

This article was first published on November 11, 2015

Montreal-based quartet Half Moon Run just returned with their sophomore album Sun Leads Me On, a lush and dynamic effort eschewing alt-folk melancholia while remaining guided by beauty. The album was written mostly between their hometown and a surfing sojourn to California, and recorded at the idyllic Bathhouse Studios in Ontario with acclaimed British producer Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele).

Half Moon Run surely have found a balance between powerful heartland rock, majestic chamber pop and art rock complexity, crafting a musical space somewhere around My Morning Jacket and Coldplay, as The Guardian once stated. Hard to pigeonhole, but easy to like, Half Moon Run manages to be both immediately appealing and remarkably intriguing at the same time. This is 5 albums that “changed their lives”:

Chosen by Dylan Phillips (vocals, drums, keyboard)
Patrick Watson – Love Songs for Robots (Secret City, 2015)

Patrick Watson (and his band) have been a big influence on us. We toured with them in Europe / USA / Canada and became good friends in Montreal. Their originality and musicality, on the record and live, leave us jaw-dropped. Love Songs for Robots is the record I currently spin most frequently at home.

Chosen by Devon Portielje (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Stars of the Lid: And their refinement of the decline (kranky, 2007)

This is an amazing ambient album with mastery of arrangements and tones. I use it in a functional way as a sleeping aid and to de-stress. I would listen to this record when I was living in difficult circumstances, and it reframed my experience, softening the edges as if it were in a film. Even after many listens, I still discover new elements regularly.

Chosen by Isaac Symonds (vocals, percussions, mandolin, keyboard, guitar)
Burial: Untrue (Hyperdub, 2007)

This album has been a huge influence on all of us. I particularly love the lo-fi, saturated drum tones, with the undeniable beats. The mood of this album is dark and groovy. It was my soundtrack for biking home each night from our rehearsal space in Montreal while writing Sun Leads Me On. Untrue has a permanent spot on my playlist.

Chosen by Conner Molander (vocals, guitar, keyboard)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (Warner, 1968)

There’s something magical about this album… it sounds very spontaneous, as though it flowed straight out of an ancient Celtic spirit. The lyrics are mystical yet lucid, and Van Morrison’s vocals are wonderfully soulful. It drifts on and on like a dream, and I love it more with every listen.

Chosen by Conner Molander (vocals, guitar, keyboard)
Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (Columbia, 1965)

The first side is good, but the second side is some of the most powerful songwriting that I’ve ever heard. Resonant, timeless, prophetic…just listen to the sorrowful longing in his voice in “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. In my opinion, this is Bob Dylan at the peak of his powers.