Music Reviews: Fela Soul / Wilco

Gummy Soul Records - Fela Soul
Released 9/13/11

Following the recent trend of musical mash-ups, this digital-EP combines vintage recordings of the afrobeat-soul legend Fela Kuti with hip-hop pioneers De La Soul.  As the creator/producer (Amerigo Gazaway) puts it, “Afrobeat, jazz, funk, and hip-hop are already so interconnected, I always thought it would be exciting to work on a project that combined all of these elements together.  I hope this project will help to bridge the gap between hip-hop and afrobeat, and serve as an introduction for hip-hop fans and music fans alike who are unfamiliar with Fela Kuti or De La Soul’s music.”  While this combination sounds too good to be true-- this release is for real, and it sounds exactly like what you’re imagining.  And the best part of all?  It’s available for FREE download on the Gummy Soul website (link below).  Yes, read that again- it’s FREE!!!

“Fela Soul” is an 9-track musical journey, combining afrobeat rhythms, funky horn riffs, and classic, clever hip-hop.  Even if you’re familiar with the original music, Gazaway seamlessly intertwines the two artists into something completely new, interesting, and original.  The album also features Redman, MF DOOM, and Gorillaz.  The FREE download package also includes full liner notes with a track-by-track breakdown of the EP’s creation.  A Radio Edit version of the EP and a bonus track are also available on the same website.  This online-release is definitely worth downloading and the price is right!  

Get it here:  

Wilco - The Whole Love
Released 9/27/11

“The Whole Love” is the eighth album by alternative/indie rock group Wilco.  This is the first release on the band’s own label, dBpm, emphasizing their artistic independence and ability to step out of the box of the music-industry-model.  After making music for more than 15 years, this album seems to be a return to a more “traditional Wilco-sound”, when compared to the post-addiction “Sky Blue Sky” of 2007 and the tongue-in-cheek “Wilco (The Album)” of 2009.  The songs on the new album are more adventurous and surprising, often steering away from the typical verse-and-chorus structure, but still staying true to Wilco’s talented use of tempo and key changes.  Whether you’ve been ignoring the Wilco hype for all these years, or you’re a returning fan, “The Whole Love” is definitely worth checking out.

The wide range of styles on this album is reminiscent of Wilco’s earlier rock-and-rollercoaster albums “Summerteeth” and “A Ghost is Born.”  The opening  track, “Art of Almost”, is probably the most experimental on the album- clocking in at just over 7-minutes, complete with polyrhythms, electronic noise effects, string arrangement, and droning industrial guitars.  The mood lightens considerably with tunes like “I Might”, “Dawned on Me”, and “Standing O”, which bring out the best of garage-rock, with catchy guitar riffs and retro-fuzz organ.  There are still a few soft, sentimental songs like “Open Mind” and “Rising Red Lung” which show that the band still has its alt-country roots.  My personal favorites include the jazzy, ragtime-esque “Capitol City”, the super-catchy title track “Whole Love”, and the final track, “One Sunday Morning”, which light-heartedly questions religion, the after-life, and dealing with mortality- while featuring one of the best instrumental hooks on the album.  It seems that Wilco is only getting better with age, and they are one of the few bands that can continue to experiment and still attract new fans at the same time.

No comments:

Post a Comment