Shot Of Rhythm

[ Saturday, February 10, 2007 ]


With Friends Like These, Pt. 2

A while ago, thanks to some mutual friends and associates, my band had the opportunity to play a gig with Christina Courtin's Running Kicks, an up-and-coming group from NYC that deftly bridges the gap between intimate, Norah Jones-style pop, the neo-cabaret of Nellie McKay or assorted Wainwrights, and the acoustic jazz of iconoclasts from Nickel Creek to Bill Frisell. Led by Ms. Courtin, whose wisdom of voice and lyric belies her young age, the band includes several virtuosic musicians, most regularly guitarist Kyle Sanna and percussionist Matthias Kunzli, and the assorted assemblage (performing mostly original material by Courtin) wraps up their songs in delicate, desloate beauty. At their best, on stage or on record, the Running Kicks transition seamlessly from spare, aching melancholy to full-throated intensity, with plenty of supple rest stops in between.

Two songs here from their debut EP, available through the website listed above. The EP features 5 tunes, along with 3 music videos, and is a tantalizing appetizer of the deep well of potential that, according to various well-sourced rumors, put big things in this group's future. I'm privileged to have hung out, jammed and shared a stage with these prodigious musicians, and I'm happy to help y'all get in on their ground floor.

"Someone Like You"


The third and final part of this hype-fest is coming soon. Contrary to what Nas might eloquently argue, hip-hop damn sure ain't dead, and I've got a primary source.

On the box right now: Patty Griffin, CHILDREN RUNNING THROUGH. Another beautiful work from a legitimate MVP of the music world...


Dove With Claws [5:13 PM]

[ Tuesday, February 06, 2007 ]


With friends like these, Pt. 1

Now it has come time to promote a few of the musicians who have, in one way or another, come into my universe through connections with friends, bandmates and colleagues, but whose artistic talent more than justifies their presence in anybody's airspace.

First is Amandla, an astounding funk-rock-soul project created by Claude Coleman, Jr., whose more famous gig as drummer for Ween shouldn't overshadow the restless creativity that Coleman and friends have put into Amandla's two albums, 2001's FALLING ALONE and 2006's THE FULL CATASTROPHE. Most obviously reminiscent of Shuggie Otis, Isley Brothers, P-Funk, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, and any number of others, Amandla's soulful records also recall - at various moments - everything from country to punk rock, a bubbling musical stew united by Coleman's deft songwriting and intimate performances. Even though the group has yet to achieve any significant mainstream notice, hopefully the clock is ticking.

They're currently touring the U.S., and the latest line-up features my good friend and bandmate Dave Gilbert on electric guitar. (Full disclosure, dear reader, full disclosure.) Their shows should continue off and on for a while, and I'll be checking them out down in Chicago on Friday night, at the Cobra Lounge, where I'm quite expecting to be as floored by their live show as I am by their records. Buy their records, and go see 'em if you get the chance. Tell the guitarist I said hello.

Here are three of the choice cuts from THE FULL CATASTROPHE, plus one gem ("I Think I Don't Mind) from FALLING ALONE.

"Right Mind"



"I Think I Don't Mind"

On the box right now: Amandla, THE FULL CATASTROPHE.


Dove With Claws [9:04 PM]

[ Sunday, February 04, 2007 ]


History lesson

Just when most folks stopped caring about the Nas-vs.-Jay-Z feud, Nas came roaring back with one of the better hip-hop albums of 2006, and a fiery artistic statement that staked out territory of ideological and musical resonance (and relevance) that Jay-Z - and his Budweiser ads - was not in danger of topping. Now, as 2007 dawns with a refreshed book of rules, regulations and rhymes, Nas comes out swinging with one of the more impressive attempts to (re-)write hip-hop history: three remixes of "Where Are They Now?" which feature, respectively, semi-forgotten contributors to the 1980s, 1990s and the West Coast. Not only academically-sound history lessons for those who might be in danger of losing the memory, the various "Where Are They Now" tracks are straight-bangin' examples of fresh, improvisatory hip-hop lyricism at its finest, featuring a consecutive battery of MCs so impressive as to stop the traffic of anyone who cares about the music, culture or its history. Here are the three remixes, plus a mega-mix of the three versions, spotted at our friend Oliver Wang's brilliant blog SoulSides. And it don't stop...

Nas ft. MC Shan, Raheem (Furious Five), Doctor Ice (UTFO), Kangol (UTFO), Kool Moe Dee, Sha Rock (Funky Four +1), Tito (Fearless Four), Grandmaster Caz (Cold Crush Brothers), Lique (Isis of X Clan), Dana Dane, Pebblee Poo & Just Ice - "Where Are They Now?" (1980s Remix)

Nas ft. Redhead Kingpin, The Original Spinderella, Rob Base, Father MC, Monie Love, Mike D (of the Jungle Brothers), EST (of 3XDope), Positive K, Das EFX, Lords of the Underground, Dres (of Black Sheep) - "Where Are They Now?" (1990s Remix)

Nas ft. Breeze, Kam, King Tee, Candyman, Threat, Ice-T, Sir Mix-A-Lot and the Conscious Daughters (with scratches from DJ Bobcat) - "Where Are They Now?" (West Coast Remix)

Nas ft. A Cast Of Thousands - "Where Are They Now?" (megamix)

On the box right now: Guy Clark, OLD #1.


Dove With Claws [8:08 PM]