Repetition is one of the core principles of music. If the rhythm of a song makes you dance involuntarily, blame it on repetition. When you can’t sleep because the “duh-duh-duh-duh” chorus of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” (good luck ridding your noggin of it now that it’s in there) is playing over and over in your head, the culprit is repetition. Bongo Love’s infectious music proves it doesn’t matter what country a musician is from or what language he or she speaks, the rule of repetition applies.
Bongo Love (the name of the frontman as well as the band) is originally from Zimbabwe, in southern Africa. Although he has been pigeonholed among reggae artists, Love’s music is decidedly different from the politically laced and laid-back Jamaican genre. Zula Zula sounds like the music Paul Simon came across during his African travels in the 1980s, sounds that influenced his Graceland and introduced Ladysmith Black Mambazo to American audiences. Like Ray Phiri’s guitar work on Graceland, the zippy, repeated electric guitar riffs and Love’s infectious drumming propel this self-proclaimed “happy” music. Even though most Montanans won’t understand the native-sung lyrics, our feet should respond to Love’s peppy message. (Caroline Keys)
Bongo Love plays The Other Side Thursday, Dec. 8, at 10 PM. $8/$10 18–21.
The Pocket Dwellers
Looks can be deceiving. The Pocket Dwellers’ band photo looks like a fashion poster for American Eagle Outfitters: the white guy with the faux-hawk on the left, a line of ethnically diverse grinning dudes and a beefy stud on the right with one fitted pant leg raised so he can rest his foot on a small boulder. Judging by the picture alone you’d expect some kind of gawd-awful frat-rock band, but thankfully that’s not the case. Listening to PD-Atrics reveals this Canadian hip-hop/jazz outfit to be more like a highly palatable, suburban version of The Roots. Comprised of an emcee, DJ, two sax players, live drums and two guitarists, The Pocket Dwellers put out groovy tunes that should appeal to hip-hop heads who like their music on the jammier side of the spectrum.
The musical composition of the album is multi-layered and methodical, with basic breakbeats accompanied by locked grooves, horns, acoustic guitar and other standard jazz tropes. N.I. Gel’s lyrics are smooth and noninvasive and deal with standard left-wing social issues in a fairly peripheral way. One definitely gets the impression that this music is best seen live, where The Pocket Dwellers have more room to jam out onstage, play up to the audience and debunk any preconceived notions drawn from how they look. (Adam Fangsrud)
The Pocket Dwellers open, with Tre Hardson and Fuqawi, for Heiruspecs at The Other Side, Friday, Dec. 9, at 10 PM. $10.
Ghostface Killah & Trife Da God
Put it on the Line
Full Clip Record
With Put it on the Line, Ghostface Killah and his up-and-coming protégé Trife Da God remind us that there’s more to NYC gangsta rap than 50 Cent. As a seasoned veteran of the Wu Tang Clan, Ghostface is no stranger to the game. His discography stands head and shoulders above countless other lackluster Wu Tang spinoffs, and although some fans have been turned off by his commercial direction on later albums, he’s recently been gravitating back to his roots with a new crew and grittier production.
As frontman for the Theodore Unit, of which Trife Da God is a member, Ghostface was the driving force behind the crew’s 2004 album, 718. The album’s banging beats and chopped samples hailed back to a classic late-’90s RZA-produced Wu Tang sound, making it a slick gem of a debut.
Put it on the Line is a logical successor to 718 both in production and lyrics. The simple, driving beats provide the perfect background for Ghostface and Trife’s tales of drug deals and dodging the legal system. Guest appearances by Raekwon, RZA, Kool G Rap and Slick Rick are an added bonus; the addition of a live DVD at no extra cost is yet another reason to pick it up. It’s a classic NYC gangsta sound that never gets old. (Adam Fangsrud)
Kate Bush released her last album, The Red Shoes, in 1993. You remember 1993, right? It was the year Frank Zappa and River Phoenix died, and all that crap went down in Waco, Texas.
Since 1993, Bush got married, had a son, and made one painstakingly beautiful double album, Aerial. It’s an effort that caps a career that started when Bush burst onto British radio in 1977 at age 19 with Wuthering Heights. She continued to make synthesized faerie-pop albums through the ’80s and her music was incredibly influential in sparking the careers of modern-day vocal divas Tori Amos and Bjork.
Listeners who may have been turned off in the past by Bush’s shrill delivery will be glad to hear that the 12-year silence has chiseled away the upper limits of her vocal register. While these worn-in and womanly pipes sound earthier than they did on earlier albums, Aerial is no less ethereal than Bush’s former work. The wispy piano and cello-laced songs address everything from motherhood to Pi (Bush sings the numbers following the decimal point into a fade-out).
The years have done Kate some good—and her comeback is welcomed with open arms, compared to would-be efforts from other 1993 darlings, like, say, Ugly Kid Joe. (Caroline Keys)