Before we get into the music, today we remember and celebrate the contributions of our veterans and current members of our armed forces. For those who have served or are currently serving our country here and abroad, thank you for your sacrifice, dedication, and courage.
With the opening of borders and the freer exchange of information, we’ve been able to learn and enjoy the many different traditions, sounds, and flavours of cultures from around the world. Today’s Mundo Musique focuses on band’s with a bit of an international flavour – either in name only or in their music.
PORTUGAL. THE MAN
Ok, Portugal. The Man is no longer an independent band, as they’re with Atlantic Records, yet their sound remains similar from their independent years. They still make moving music with intelligent lyrics and continue to push the envelope with the issues and themes they address. The Portland, Oregon band – which currently comprises of John Gourley, Zach Carothers, Kyle O’Quin, Kane Ritchotte, and Zoe Manville – released their eighth studio LP (second with Atlantic) since 2006. Produced by the forever-busy Danger Mouse, Evil Friends, sees the band moving more to a groovy, dance-oriented, pop sound. On “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”, the song is almost an anthem for the band itself, as it tries to balance its independence and anonymity with its growing popularity.
Like Portugal. The Band, Bosnian Rainbows is not from the country of its namesake. Instead, they’re originally from El Paso, Texas, comprising of former members of The Mars Volta, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on guitar and backing vocals and Deantoni Parks on drums and keyboards, Le Butcherettes vocalist Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes (who are an excellent band), and Nicci Kasper on keyboards. Their self-titled, debut album was released in June 2013, and it is filled with moody, psychedelic, alternative music, combining the influences and sounds of Bosnian Rainbows’ former bands. Midway through “Turtle Neck”, for instance, Gender Bender calls out her inner Geddy Lee while the band does it’s best Rush impersonation.
Another newish band that includes members of more well-known indie bands is L.A.-based Pyrramids. Drea Smith of He Say/She Say and Tim Nordwind from OK GO got together in 2011 and produced a six-song EP, Human Beings. This year, they released their first LP, Brightest Darkest Day, an eleven-song album of dark, pop-rock music. The song and video for “Invisible Scream” has similarities to R.E.M.’s “Drive” and Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit” – from its brooding rhythm to an ode to young people’s angst.
It’s been five years since Juana Molina has released an album, and she returns with a splendid record. Wed 21 is a loopy, acoustic record that can be best described as electronic/dance-folk. On “Eras”, the Argentinian actress/musician combines her two artistic sides with a stylish, quirky, and haunting video while the song, itself, is filled with hooks and a catchy beat. Let’s hope it won’t be another five years before Ms. Molina releases another album.
From New York City comes Yves Jean, a hip hop artist who has been making music for nearly 14 years. The son of Haitian immigrants, Jean’s music integrates sounds from his parents’ homeland and the Caribbean, pop, rock, electronic, and classical music. He’s released a number of EPs and a couple of LPs, including 2011’s Hope for the Best…But Expect Nothing. His sound, style, and messages are comparable to audience favourite, Michael Franti.
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