Browsing articles tagged with " Drum Beats"
Dec 9, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Album Review: Årabrot- Årabrot

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 1:57 am
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Updated: 6:46 pm, Mon Dec 9, 2013.

Album Review: Årabrot- Årabrot

Norwegian noise rock band, Årabrot, combine their usual noisy flavor with sludge metal and some outlandish vocal work to produce a perdition perfect album. 


Given that there is spectacular noise rock scene at the moment where bands like Iceage and Melt-Banana are cultivating unique sounds ranging from brooding ballads to sporadic symphonies, Årabrot comes with a sound that is as ugly as the opener of that new Death Grips LP i recently reviewed.

The sludge metal elements found on this album are heavy. The guitar riffs are bassy and drag like molasses whilst the vocals are visceral at times but the frontman, Nibby Needle, can seamlessly segway to moans that sound like an Arabian hymn. 

Speaking of Arabian influences, the track “Throwing Rocks at the Devil” has a guitar motif that is reminiscent of some middle eastern persuasion which just contributes to the mix bag of influences this album presents at such a loud and abrasive volume. This is succeeding the shots of guitar sounds accompanied by some thundering kick drums. After the intro, we’re introduced to the dramatic vocals that spaz out over the spectrum– probably the apex of this album. 

However, this album does come with a set of potholes. At times the songs get a bit cartoony and laughable such as “The Horns Of The Devil Grows” that sounds like a B-Side from a Dethklok LP. Which would be totally fine if the band didn’t go to such lengths to be undesirable… I’d leave the torture and melancholy to Iceage as these guys come up short in that department when compared to the Danish Post-Punk prodigies.

When the album isn’t suffering from psuedo-sadness, they fall victim to the poor production. A number of these tracks have vocals being swallowed by heavy drum beats or overpowering bass lines rendering the songs sounding as distorted and squeezed as Gucci Mane’s “Swing My Door”

There are some highlights such as “Ha-Satan Defol” and “The Bitter Tears of Könt” but for every great song, there is either an underwhelming or overwhelming (in a bad way) song neutralizing it thus leaving my enjoyment of this album a bit limited. 

2.5/5

 

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Monday, December 9, 2013 1:57 am.

Updated: 6:46 pm.


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Dec 8, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Indian heartland votes give BJP boon over Congress

The Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has waged a fierce campaign fronted by its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who has charmed businesses but worried critics that his rise could worsen sectarian tensions between India’s majority Hindus and its 138 million Muslims.

Preliminary results released Sunday showed BJP trouncing Congress in the Indian capital, northwest Rajasthan and landlocked Madhya Pradesh. The race for central Chhattisgarh was neck-and-neck.

As the votes were being counted, dozens of BJP supporters held an impromptu street fest outside the party’s Delhi headquarters, dancing to drum beats and setting off firecrackers, while the area outside Congress headquarters was deserted.

Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala called the results disappointing but conceded “we have lost” in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Modi offered congratulations by Twitter to Madhya Pradesh’s incumbent chief minister “for BJP’s wonderful performance,” and to the party in Rajasthan for “the historic victory.”

The elections were seen as an important gauge of voter sentiment in this secular democracy of 1.2 billion, where there are no reliable opinion countrywide polls and at least one-fifth of the 800 million-strong electorate will be youths casting their first general election votes next year.

TV news channels gave breathless coverage to Sunday’s vote count, offering a taste of the nationwide contest to come. Ballots from a fifth state that voted, Mizoram in the northeast, will be counted Monday.

Overall, Congress — led by a dynasty descended from India’s first prime minister that for decades has dominated national politics — was seen to lose ground due to sustained national focus on widespread and systematic graft, with several members from the party, as well as the BJP, embroiled in corruption scandals. Meanwhile, bribery has remained an everyday feature in routine tasks, from getting a marriage license to securing a child’s place in school.

Congress has also taken a beating over stalled economic reforms and the soaring costs of living, exacerbated by the slowdown in economic growth from averages above 8 percent for five years up to 2011 to below 5 percent today.

“Congress is getting in the neck on two sides — one for not being liberal enough, not giving enough incentives to corporates,” said political analyst Kamal Mitra Chenoy of Jaharwalal Nehru University in Delhi. “On the other side, the poor and lower middle-class are saying, ‘what about us, what are we going to get?’”

In the race for the 70-member Delhi Assembly, Congress’ Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was denied a fourth consecutive term as Delhi’s top elected official. Dikshit, 76, has presided over the city as it burgeoned into a megapolis of nearly 17 million people, many of them impoverished migrants in search of jobs.

A new political party called Aam Aadmi Party — or Common Man’s Party — played spoiler in the race, campaigning in Delhi’s poorest neighborhoods and pushing Congress into third place. Preliminary results suggested BJP would win 31 seats and the debutant party 27, with Congress collecting only nine.

Hundreds of AAP members danced wildly in the street outside the party’s Delhi office while holding up brooms — the new party’s symbol, alluding to its top platform promise to sweep corruption out of the ruling class. The party’s leader, former tax official Arvind Kejriwal, has said it hopes next to campaign nationally.

“It is very much fabulous. For the first time we are contesting elections, seven months of hard work,” said party member Balaji, a 26-year-old software engineer from the southern tech city of Bangalore who goes by one name. “We can give this country, this state, a very good opposition.”

It appeared to be a stunning fall for Congress, which took 43 seats in the last Delhi elections, and experts partly blamed anger over the deadly gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus last December and a corruption scandal involving the 2010 Commonweath Games.

“We accept our defeat and we will analyze what went wrong,” Dikshit told reporters after resigning as chief minister. “We respect what the people of Delhi have decided and thank them for supporting us for last 15 years.”

Both the AAP and BJP capitalized on Congress’ battered reputation. For several years after Congress won the national government in 2004, technocrat Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was praised for leading India to breakneck growth and economic reforms that enticed foreign investment.

But as the economy slowed and scandals surfaced, Congress found itself wrangling with regional coalition partners and unable to push through further reforms. In Rajasthan, for example, years of political infighting prevented a new law on free medicines and ambulance services from coming into force until this year — leaving little time to make an impact that could have helped Congress in the state’s vote.

Congress lost control of Rajasthan to BJP, with preliminary results giving Congress only 21 seats to BJP’s 159. The preliminary results also suggested BJP would easily retain Madhya Pradesh, with 157 seats to Congress’ 65.

Meanwhile, India’s benchmark Sensex rose by 1.4 percent in the two days after the recent elections as markets cheered early signs of a strong showing by BJP.

The BJP’s Modi, a three-time leader in Gujarat, is credited with turning his western state into an industrial haven. But he has been a polarizing figure as well, with critics questioning whether he can be a truly secular leader over India’s cacophony of cultures defined by caste, clan, tribe or religion, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.

For years, Modi has dodged allegations that he and his Hindu fundamentalist party colleagues looked the other way as marauding Hindu mobs killed and burned their way through Muslim neighborhoods in Gujarat in 2002, leaving more than 1,100 people dead in one of India’s worst outbursts of communal violence.

No evidence directly links Modi to the violence. The Supreme Court criticized his government, however, for failing to prosecute Hindu rioters who justified the rampage as revenge for a train fire that killed 60 Hindus. An independent 2006 probe determined the fire was an accident, but a 2008 state commission said it was planned by Muslims.

Dec 7, 2013
Rock D Fresh

A humbling life lesson

SUGAR RUSH: Korean Kpop group AOA showing off their slick dance moves. — Photos courtesy of Sundown Festival.

FUN: D=OUT bassist Reika (left) and guitarist Ibuki jamming together on stage.

HIGH ENERGY: Lead vocalist of D=OUT Kouki bringing high energy to the Festival.

GIDDUP: Fans doing what they do best – rooting for the performers.

YEARNING — an intense or overpowering longing, desire, need or craving — as described by the Collins English Dictionary — Complete and Unabridged.

This was how I felt, writing this after attending a music festival in Singapore. Funny I should feel this way as I did not suffer the same post-travel yearning following a previous trip there three years ago.

Perhaps, it was because my trip to the city state was not the same as the one before. This time around, it was a working trip the first time — to cover a music festival billed as Sundown Festival.

Covering one of Asia’s music extravaganzas was scary enough but the thought that three more nations — the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia — had been added to the cast just upped the ante that bit more.

On the day of the Festival, I arrived at the F1 Pit at Marina Promenade which had been specially designed for the event, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how scenic the stage looked with the Singapore Flyer (Lion City’s version of the London Eye) and the island state’s horizon as backdrop.

Loud thumping music, courtesy of a DJ, helped to prep festival-goers before the concert as did the side acts and cultural performances, featuring the barong (an Indonesian story-telling dance form), muay thai as well as a performance by the Tinikling B-boys, mixing traditional Philippine pre-Spanish bamboo pole tap dancing with a modern twist of breakdance.

As I still had some time in hand before the concert, I decided to test my taste-buds at the ‘food street’ set up for the Festival — courtesy of Singapore food portal Hungrygowhere.com.

It was interesting to note the food stalls featured cuisine from all the nations participating in the concert — Korea, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Some of the more widely known foods were also featured such as Taiwanese bubble milk tea and sausages, and Indonesian curry and soto, but what caught my eye was a stall selling Taiwanese bear-paw buns.

These cute-looking munchables were not only shaped like bear paws but looked like yummy burgers as well. Although the fillings were usually fried chicken, spiced up with a variety of sauces, one special thing this store did was giving the bear paws a tropical makeover by introducing a gelato filling instead — something unconventional for a hot day.

At last, just as the sun was setting, the concert began. With the friendly and entertaining emcees from KissFM engaging the crowd, the first act begun with the Filipino rock band Rocksteddy.

With steady (pun unintended) drum beats and guitar riffs, the once Christian-rockers-turned-alternative-rock group hyped up the crowd with songs like Superhero, Love Is Your Bullet and the slightly mellower Drown.

They then gave way to Thai self-described PopPunk group No More Tear which resembles a Thai version of Paramore with the feisty front-woman’s flame-tinged hair. For me, this group was quite the understated group and definitely took me by surprise when I did listen to them. Even though I don’t understand a word of Thai, the emotion portrayed through the songs — Don’t Have Tears and Effort — resonated through, and I was pleasantly surprised when FukFang displayed her chops through a rocked-up version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.

Adonia Shao, girl wonder from China, displayed her new electronic-dance inspired tracks, and Nidji brought a mix of rock and electronic music to the Festival which refreshed the lineup and kept the crowd going throughout the night.

Cantonese actor and singer Bosco Wong regaled the crowd, proving himself to be quite a fan favourite among Singaporeans.

Rico Blanco amazed with his powerful vocals and incredible stage get-up, briefly transforming the stage into something out of a technicolour Amazon jungle.

Halfway through, festival-goers were granted a brief respite from upbeat rock by Yoga Lin who performed some acoustic songs before bringing the hype back up again.

Kpop group AOA brought a sugary sweetness to the show, mixing it up with a band performance with their new song Moya before transforming into their dance unit and sending screaming fans into a rocking frenzy with slick dance moves to the tempo of songs “Elvis” and “Love Is Only You” before showing off their sophisticated and mature side with Confused.

Of all the concert’s visual impacts, nothing could beat visual-kei groups — SCREW and D=OUT — from Japan with their amazing stage costumes and makeup. I found it interesting that despite both being visual-kei bands, it was almost as if SCREW were the ‘shadows’ to D=OUT’s light as the former’s music was slightly darker and edgier while the latter had some catchy and upbeat tunes.

Regardless, the one thing prevalent throughout the entire Festival was the universality of music that united people, regardless of race or musical preference. This was evident on the part of the fans who fully supported all the bands even if many had no inkling of the groups and their bias towards others.

I found that beautiful to watch, and was touched because I was reminded of ibu pertiwiku Sarawak and how, despite being hugely multi-racial and culturally diverse, we still manage to make it through day after day without any major conflict.

Thank you, Singapore for the humbling and unexpected life lesson and fret not I shall return.

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Dec 6, 2013
Rock D Fresh

‘Narco Cultura’ Explores The Violent Music Inspired By Brutal Drug Cartels …

Narco_004.jpg

While this year’s The Act of Killing candidly took us inside the mind of a man that committed acts of horror decades ago, the documentary Narco Cultura, directed by war photojournalist Shaul Schwartz, observes a contemporary world of horror through the perspectives of two outsiders. In both films, these acts of horror are refracted through popular entertainment that valorizes murder and its perpetrators. But unlike The Act of Killing, whose vanity film-within-a-film won’t be coming to a theater near you, the CDs of the music examined in Narco Cultura are available at your nearest Wal-Mart.

The two outsiders of Narco Cultura are Edgar Quintero and Richi Soto, a narcocorrido singer in Los Angeles and a crime scene investigator in the embattled Mexican city of Ciuidad Juarez respectively. Though they live on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, they are both trying to infiltrate the bloody world of drug cartels in their own ways. What makes the contrast especially chilling is that both are family men with humble lives.

For the singer Quintero, Mexico and the narco lifestyle is a glamorous fantasy. The band he fronts, BuKnas de Culiacán, performs onstage with prop weapons celebrating the heinous crimes perpetuated by members of drug cartels. In some instances shown on camera, he is commissioned by some of these individuals to write specific songs about them, with lyrical details honed down to their preferred nicknames and weapon caliber. A family man living in a small bungalow somewhere in Los Angeles, it is not hard to see what draws Quintero to the narco lifestyle. A visit by him to a graveyard in Sinaloa towards the end of the film shows that even in death their power and wealth are flaunted; their mausoleums resembling mini-McMansions are large enough to allow them to be buried alongside their favorite trucks.

But while Quintero and his band tour both Mexico and the United States, literally daily murders occur on the streets of Ciudad Juarez in the most active flashpoint of the drug war that has torn Mexico apart. There, Richi Soto works as a “bullet collector” for Mexican authorities. He nominally investigates these murders but in reality he spends most of his time organizing evidence and filing it away in unmarked boxes. The judicial process is halted either by corruption or fear. Investigators at crime scenes are seen wearing balaclavas out of fear for their own safety. In the course of the film one of Soto’s colleagues resigns after a threat and another is murdered. It is estimated that over 97% of murders go uninvestigated.

Using both perspectives, the film shocks the viewer not only with the bloody aftermath from these cartel murders but also with the sight of concert attendees singing and dancing along to songs of beheadings and revenge killings. Even the investigator Richi Soto is seen at a gathering of family and friends dancing with his girlfriend to a folksier narcocorrido performed live, albeit stripped of the aggression of electronic drum beats. Narco Cultura at first seems to cast a judgmental eye on the Latin community that glamorizes the narco culture, but when one of the narcocorridos entertainment moguls proclaims, “I think we can be the next hip-hop,” it causes us to rethink the collective consumption of real-life horrors through pop culture.

Narco Cultura opens in theaters nationally today.

Dec 5, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Warpaint – “Biggy”

warpaint-album-608x608

Warpaint already dropped “Love Is To Die,” the big and percussion-heavy first single from their upcoming self-titled album, and now they have a more subdued one to share. “Biggy” carries gentle cymbals and brushed drum beats; it’s an eerier track, and a good reminder that they’ve got Flood AND Nigel Godrich producing this thing. Listen below and look for the full album next month.

Warpaint is out 1/21 via Rough Trade.

Dec 4, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Smiths honored for preserving grist mill — and its future








Smiths honored for preserving grist mill — and its future


PERRYVILLE – Robert and Diane Smith have tended to the Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill for the past 25 years, keeping alive a Rhode Island tradition with their passion for the work and volunteers equally as enthralled with the workings of the mill. Recently the Smiths deeded the 310-year old mill to the South Kingstown Land Trust, and to show their appreciation for the donation members of the trust hosted a weekend gathering to honor the couple for their quarter century of care for the oldest continuously operated water-powered mill in the state.

As a steady wind blew wispy funnels of topsoil from a freshly-cut field on a fall day, a father and son unloaded a four-person drum at the land trust’s Weeden Farm barn at 17 Matunuck Road. Aborigine people believe the drum is “the heartbeat of Mother Earth.”

The drum is broadly considered to be the first musical instrument used by humans. The drum originally served as a warning or signal for indigenous people and its resonance could communicate an intruder from the sea or a wedding feast message.

Today, native people utilize the drum at powwows, games, sacred ceremonies and special gatherings such as “Honor the End of Whitecap Flint Corn Harvest Season,” held at the Barn in Matunuck.

Max Brown-Garcia of the Narragansett Nation, mixed corn pollen and tobacco in the southwest corner of the rebuilt barn that serves as headquarters for the land trust. Myantonomo Garcia, 7, listened as his dad said a prayer and together they sprinkled the mixture on the floor.

“We are here to honor the end of the harvest season and to offer prayers for the bounty of the corn which was a saving grace to my ancestors in the cold months,” said Brown-Garcia. “Corn pollen and tobacco are mixed to cleanse the area before I place my drum blessed by Medicine Man Lloyd Wilcox on the ground.”

This was Myantonomo’s public drumming debut and after the day’s lectures, songs, and jonnycake sampling he expressed how he felt embarrassed to have a room full of eyes focused on him.

“I can drum pretty good, I practice a lot,” he said. “At first I was shy. It got better. And I like how the drum makes a noise for people.”

To support Myantonomos, as well as honor the Smith’s dedication to the preservation and promotion of Rhode Island’s native strain of corn, Heidi Garcia, Brenda Pettiway Brown and Nancy Brown-Garcia donned their colorful shawls and in rhythm to the drum beats, gracefully danced among the seated crowd to a song called “Peewasu” – Honor of the Gathering.

“Teaching and playing with my son is one of my greatest honors,” said Brown-Garcia. “The drum group I belong to – Storm Boyz – is proud to have future members in training to carry on the tradition.”

Nancy Brown-Garcia, deputy historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian Nation, was the keynote speaker during the event.

“The Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island believed a crow carried a bean in one ear and kernel of corn in the other to my ancestors. We believe the crow brought this gift of sustenance from the Southwest of America – a place all men come from and all men will return in spirit to,” said Nancy Brown-Garcia to a packed barn. “The late Eastern Woodlands societies had a glorious variety of food sources. Oral history tells us that the coves in Narragansett Bay were governed by various members of the Narragansett Royal Family. Great banquets of land and sea bounty were presented to the people by the Royals to celebrate the Creator’s benevolence. Corn was a staple of my people’s winter sustenance but evidence shows the Pueblo People of the desert climate in the Southwest were much more dependent on a good corn harvest.”

“I do not see any red or purple kerneled ears in your collection,” said Susan Sosnowski. “What is the reason for that?”

Sosnowski, who has represented state Senate District 37 in South Kingstown and New Shoreham since 1996, operates a 60-acre organic farm in West Kingston. Her farm’s crops include R.I. native flint corn. Sosnowski also read a Senate proclamation that thanked the Smith’s for their quarter century of exemplary stewardship at the grist mill.

“Narragansett women planted, harvested and turned the crop while the men hunted small and large game,” answered Nancy Brown-Garcia. “The red and purple kerneled ears were cultivated out as they were much tougher than our much sought after, and easier on the teeth, light colored cobs.”

White cap flint corn jonnycakes were prepared for all attendees to sample by Charlestown Historical Society members Pam Lyons and Cheryl Gowey. They were distributed by one of the Smith’s faithful grist mill volunteers – Kevin McCloskey.

“We have a great crew here,” Smith said. “All volunteer. Diane and I could not have preserved this mill without many helpers like Kevin McCloskey and Bill Wright.”

People on the local farmers’ market circuit know of the Smiths indefatigable ebullience toward all things created from Rhode Island white-cap flint corn. They watch with admiration as the sprightly octogenarians – with the help of Marge Bartlett – spring into action and in no time fill the air with the sweet smell of sizzling cornmeal guaranteed to attract a crowd.


Dec 3, 2013
Rock D Fresh

Video: North Walsham beatboxer returns to his old school for ‘inspirational’ talk



Former North Walsham High School student Tom Povey, also known as beatboxer Intensi-T, performing at his old school. With students, left to right, Amy Englestone 15, Millie Andrews 14, Will Taylor 14 and Megan Goodwin 14. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sophie Wyllie
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
5:19 PM

Practice makes perfect – that was the message from a Norfolk beatboxer who returned to give an inspirational talk to students from his old school today.

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Beatboxing facts

■ Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using the mouth, lips, tongue, or voice.

■ It may also involve singing or imitating the sound of a turntable, horns, strings, and other musical instruments.

■ According to the Guinness World Records, the current record for the largest human beatbox ensemble was set by Google employees. It involved 2,081 participants and was achieved by the Google staff together with UK beatboxers Shlomo and Testament. The record was set at the Convention Centre in Dublin on November 14 2011.

■ Beatboxing in hip-hop music originated in 1980s. Its early pioneers include Doug Fresh.

Tom Povey, 21, known as Intensi-T, spoke to year 10 pupils at North Walsham High School in the hall where he first tried beatboxing aged 15 in a school workshop.

He signed a major record deal with the Universal label in September this year after headlining the poetry tent at Latitude Festival this summer.

Other major popstars he has performed with include Ed Sheeran, Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud and Rizzle Kicks.

He said: “It is nostalgic coming back here. The hallway is still the same. It is important to inspire people, especially from my home town because young people have a lot of self doubt. When I was young I didn’t think I would be doing what I’m doing now. If you find something you enjoy and are good at work hard at it and be the best you can be at it.”

During the talk he performed his own versions of hits by rapper Eminem; rock band The White Stripes; and British rapper Dizzee Rascal.

He also combined his beatboxing while playing a harmonica.

Teenagers Millie Andrews, 14, Amy Englestone, 15, Megan Goodwin, 14, and Will Taylor, 14, had a masterclass from Tom.

The voice of headteacher Caroline Brooker was also sampled by the music artist.

“I love to hear success stories from all of our former pupils,” Mrs Brooker added.

Will, a budding beatboxer from North Walsham, said: “It makes you believe in what you want to do.”

Tom grew up in Earlham and North Walsham and after completing A-levels at Paston Sixth Form College in North Walsham, he studied a degree in music, business and production at the University of Westminster which he has just finished.

His first performance was at Sheringham Little Theatre in 2008 aged 15 with three other budding performers, including Britain’s Got Talent finalist Sam Kelly.

He was always enthusiastic about music and started guitar and drumming lessons aged 11.

After playing in school bands he focused on beatboxing – producing drum beats, rhythm and music sounds through the voice – after the creative school workshop.

He started busking and performing around Norfolk aged 16 and started rapping on top of his beatboxing last year.

He started performing at small festivals and has appeared at Latitude Festival for the past three years and Sundown Festival in Norwich this year and last year.

Highlights include performing with Ed Sheeran three times at the Waterfront in Norwich in 2010; performing with rap and grime act Rizzle Kicks in 2011; and appearing at T4 on the Beach at Weston-Super-Mare alongside Nicola Roberts in front of 50,000 in the same year.

He has written about 30 songs – based on real life experiences – and is in the process of recording his first single with Universal.

Tom hopes to appear at festivals across the country next summer.

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    Dec 2, 2013
    Rock D Fresh

    Paul McCartney’s ‘New’ album proves you can teach an old Beatle new tricks

    Being Paul McCartney is Paul McCartney’s greatest pro and con. Co-writing one of pop music’s most enduring and revered catalogs, and reaping the related rewards, is the achievement of a lifetime. But by accomplishing that achievement before age 30, McCartney was left with several decades – at this point, four and counting — to fill with music that would inevitably be compared to that of the Beatles.

    To his considerable credit, McCartney is, at age 71, still not content to bask in the glow of past glories. He still very much desires to be in the fray. He still tours, filling stadiums around the globe. He still flirts with the female photographer who shot his cover portrait for a recent issue of Rolling Stone. He still seeks far younger collaborators, i.e. his rocking out with former members of Nirvana.

    And on “New,” released this fall, he and his collaborators deftly navigate the delicate task of putting a contemporary spin on songs that, for the most part, are still distinctly McCartney-esque.

    It is certainly not impossible for rockers of a certain age to find new creative life as retirement age approaches, or is surpassed. Former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty and a litany of latter-day admirers revived and reinterpreted CCR songs on his acclaimed 2013 album “Wrote a Song for Everyone.” In 2007, ex-Led Zeppelin howler Robert Plant, now 65, teamed with bluegrass songstress Alison Krauss for the Grammy-winning Americana album “Raising Sand.”

    From the light installation on the cover that spells the album’s title in abstract, to his choice of producers for the project, McCartney signaled that “New,” his first collection of all-original songs in six years, was something fresh. In a cheeky bit of then-and-now continuity, he enlisted Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer Sir George Martin, to serve as the executive producer of “New.” He also hired Mark Ronson, whose previous credits include Amy Winehouse, Adele, Bruno Mars and Lil Wayne (Ronson also deejayed at McCartney’s 2011 wedding to Nancy Shevell); Ethan Johns, the son of Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin producer Glyn Johns, whose credits include Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams and Counting Crows; and Paul Epworth, who has worked with Adele, Cee Lo Green and Florence + the Machine.

    mccartney new cd cover.jpgThe cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘New’ CD.

    Backed by an assortment of veteran musicians, including members of his touring band, McCartney and his production team crafted a cohesive album that is more than respectable, and at times quite good. “New” steps out smartly with the opening “Save Us,” all driving guitars and fuzz-tone guitars. McCartney and Epworth wrote and recorded “Save Us” on their own, with Epworth on drums and McCartney contributing vocals, guitars and bass.

    “Alligator,” a Ronson production, takes several clever turns and allows Macca to slip into a falsetto. The album’s highlight is “On My Way to Work,” a bittersweet rumination inspired by McCartney’s pre-Beatles adolescence. The song’s protagonist recalls collecting discarded cigarette packages on a double-decker bus, as McCartney did as a boy. “How could I have so many dreams,” the forlorn narrator asks, “and one of them not come true? How could a soul search everywhere, without knowing what to do?”

    “Queenie Eye” could pass for a lost track from mid-‘70s Wings. The rhymes aren’t the most clever he’s ever concocted, and the melody is merely adequate, but the song has an engaging personality nonetheless. The sweetly nostalgic “Early Days” opens with his voice set against a crisp acoustic guitar; he recalls how he and fellow aspiring musician John Lennon “dressed in black from head to toe/two guitars across our backs/We would walk the city roads seeking someone who would listen to the music that we were writing down at home.” He continues, “Now everybody seems to have their own opinion, who did this and who did that/But as for me, I don’t see how they can remember, when they weren’t where it was at.”

    With that line, he makes clear that despite all the books and articles that have dissected the Beatles ad nauseam, only two people alive know the true story. And he is one of them.

    The spry “I Can Bet” rolls along on an easy, agreeable melody. The “New” title track is a jaunty strut with a “Sgt. Pepper” flair (requisite Beatles comparison, check); saxophone, trumpet, harpsichord, Mellotron, maracas and a bouzouki all factor into the mix.

    “New” is not without its less-inspired moments. The tepid “Hosanna” drags a bit. With “Appreciate,” “New” goes back to the future, precariously so. Martin’s production wraps the arrangement in a sonic gauze, all muffled drum beats and compressed and distorted vocals. It’s a questionable fit for McCartney. The contemporary flourishes of “Looking At Her” would work better if the song was better; so, too, the concluding “Road” (stick around, however, for the uncredited coda of piano and voice).

    “Everybody Out There” casts him in more familiar environs, and offers an insight to his motivations. “There but for the grace of God go you and I/we’re the brightest objects in the sky..Do some good before you say goodbye.”

    And never be afraid to try something “New.”

    Read Entertainment Weekly’s review of ‘New.”

    Read Pitchfork’s review of ‘New.’



    Dec 1, 2013
    Rock D Fresh

    Drumming out hidden talents

    Feel the beat: (from left) Shao Yang, Mi Zhi and Chong Jue sitting on the cajon drums

    “Feel the beat: (from left) Shao Yang, Mi Zhi and Chong Jue sitting on the cajon drums

    Nov 30, 2013
    Rock D Fresh

    Dancers celebrate American Indian traditions at CSUN powwow



    In the 1970s, Debbie Martinez Rambeau was a student at Cal State Northridge, and part of a small group of 22 students who organized the first American Indian powwow event at the school, bringing together students from different nations to celebrate their shared history.

    Rambeau, now a retired Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school principal, returned to the campus Saturday, serving as Head Woman, responsible for leading the female dancers at the school’s 30th powwow.

    Dancers in brightly colored traditional dress with intricate beading and dazzling feathers entered the arena, led by elder Saginaw Grant, 77, and the other head staff while a local group provided the drum beats and chants.

    “It’s a big honor,” Rambeau said of her role in this year’s event. “What we try to do is try to bring together people from different nations to celebrate our shared heritage.” Rambeau is part of the Yaqui nation, and her family has been in California going back several generations.

    She said the inter-tribal nature of the event goes back to the first powwow, when student participants included dancers from the Navajo and Dakota Sioux nations, and even one student from a native Alaskan nation.

    Throughout the years, the event has grown in both size and scope, Rambeau said, and community members have brought children and grandchildren to the cultural celebration.

    “We have four generations in our tent,” she said, referring to the covered areas that different families and group had set up in a circle on the grass of the Chicano House lawn, creating an open dancing area in the center. While the Yaqui are based in Tucson, Ariz., Rambeau said there were four Yaqui villages in California going back to her mother’s generation. Her mother, who was there to see her daughter and even three great-granddaughters dance, was born in one of the villages in Pacoima, near the San Fernando Mission.

    “It’s so great to see the younger girls out there,” Rambeau said. “And they’re so excited about it and they’re even teaching others some words they’ve learned of our native language.”

    Rambeau’s family wasn’t the only one who attended the event with family members spanning all ages. Head Man Steve Sierra, of Santa Clarita – similarly responsible for leading the male dancers – entered the arena aside Rambeau, with his son Sam, 9, not far behind.

    “It’s a little education, a fellowship for our community and a way to let the community know we’re here,” Sierra said of the event.

    Sam, who started learning the traditional dances at age 3, said he loved being a part of the event.

    “I like dancing because I can feel the drums in my feet,” he said. “It’s like I can feel the stories.”

    The event is organized by community members with help from the school’s American Indian Student Association, the American Indian Studies Program, Associated Students of CSUN and the West Coast American Indian Music Awards.

    Although there was a period in the late 1990s and early 2000s where there wasn’t a powwow, the event was revived in 2003 by university students, and is now considered an annual affair.

    “Most of the students involved are from a Native background or are very passionate about the community,” said Wendy Goueth, a recent graduate of the school who returned to help with the event. “Every year the club gets bigger and that’s great because that’s the goal – to have more involvement and more awareness of the community.”

    As many in native communities have moved outside of their nation’s traditional homes and increasingly into urban areas, gatherings like Saturday’s powwow are a way to keep the community intact, said Scott Andrews, director of the American Indian Studies Program.

    “These events are important to the community, and are important to bringing together American Indians from different nations, to keep the cultural identity intact,” he said.

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