Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Kiwi – Mischief Reigns

You just gotta love it – a Brazilian-inflected dub reggae cd by a band named after New Zealand’s tasty green version of the blueberry. True to their name, Kiwi have made a tasty album, warm, summery and hypnotic like all the best roots reggae is. This is the group that big up-and-coming retro soul buzz band the One and Nines spun off of. The two bands share a vocalist, the irresistibly soaring Vera Sousa, a guitarist (the smartly incisive Jeff Marino), a tenor sax player (Barami Waspe) and a keyboardist. On this album Sousa shares vocal duties with Alex Tyshkov, who distinguishes himself on bass, guitars, keys, percussion and more. The rest of the laid-back horn section comprises Kasey Lockwood on trumpet and Matt Ryan on trombone, with Will Hansen on keys, David Delgado on drums and G.D. Hemmings on percussion. The bass is always way up in the mix, guaranteeing that it’ll sound fat even if you’re playing it on a lo-fi system. Like the One and Nines, a band who completely nail the ambience, arrangements and spirit of 60s Memphis soul music, Kiwi’s sound is straight out of Kingston, 1977 but with sonically improved production values.

The album opens with a tantalizing bass-driven interlude with organ, giving way to No One Else featuring Sousa doing one of her irresistible, wise, slinky vocals. Most of these songs segue into each other, often separated by little interludes, mostly brief, introspective guitar instrumentals except for a completely unexpected, rippling, gamelanesque passage toward the end. The third track, Lemon has reverb organ and fat bass with a stripped-down John Brown’s Body vibe, a feeling that returns on the sixth track, Against the Wall and later on the catchy midtempo pulse of And You.

After a tense, mostly solo guitar meditation, the fifth track reminds of Bob Marley around the time of the Kaya album, when he was blending an American R&B/soul influence into his songwriting. Track eight, Return is fat, dubwise and kind of morbid; the title cut is understatedly hypnotic – they don’t waste a note – and Sousa’s wary voice on harmonies in the background is arrestingly exquisite. She also gets to slide and shine, in both English and Portuguese, on Aprendiz, a duet with Tyshkov. The album winds up with its most psychedelic track, Cherry Tree, and then a cut that has the feel of being a catchy One and Nines groove rearranged as reggae. This is one of those rare albums that doesn’t have a single lame track, not even those little interludes. Watch this space for NYC area shows.

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June 9, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, reggae music, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great New Soul Single Out on Vinyl from the One & Nines

Jersey City oldschool R&B revivalists the One & Nines have released the first single off their debut cd (very favorably reviewed here earlier this year) – but the single is on 45 RPM vinyl. Of course you can download it from the usual places, but the sonics are sweet and one of the reasons – beyond the fact that both of the songs are bonafide A-sides – is that the album was recorded on analog tape, therefore, a pure, gorgeous analog sound.

Walked Alone is the upbeat number. A good 1960s comparison would be Bettye Swan, or Tammi Terrell backed by a Memphis band – it’s a catchy, fast shuffle anchored by fat baritone sax. An educated guess is that the fetching ballad Something on Your Mind is probably the B-side, with a tasty horn chart, organ and frontwoman Vera Sousa’s achingly beautiful vocal. Both songs were penned by the band’s guitarist Jeff Marino, a player who’s obviously immersed himself in oldschool soul of the Stax/Volt variety. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are the obvious comparison, but the One & Nines go for a smoother, more romantic, less funky vibe. A recent show at Spike Hill in Williamsburg unsurprisingly revealed the band to be a killer live act: when she sings, Sousa closes her eyes and goes off to an alternate universe called Soul Land, a place where she isn’t about to take any grief from anyone, guitar and keys pulsing behind her, organ and horns rising out of the mix to drive the songs home. Watch this space for upcoming NYC shows.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment