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Tuesday Reviewsday: Shabazz Palaces, Common, James Brown, Fonseca and Viento Callejero

It's time for Tuesday Reviewsday, our weekly new music segment. Joining A Martinez in studio this week is Justino Aguila - Associate Editor of Latin at Billboard Magazine and Oliver Wang from Soul-Sides.com.

Justino Aguila

Artist: Viento Callejero
Album: Viento Callejero
Songs: "La Burrita," "Cariñito"

"La Burrita"

Summary: Viento Callejero has arrived and in their debut album the trio of friends have managed to create music that's a nod to the past with cumbias at the core of their repertoire.

The band consists of Gloria Estrada (guitar), formerly of La Santa Cecilia; Federico Zuniga (bass) and Gabriel Villa (drums).

Founded in 2013, the group raised funds from a Kickstarter campaign to produce the album independently. The project takes on an urban tropical approach, which represents several musical styles from Cumbia Colombiana to merengue and dancehall.

"Cari

Originally influenced by Big Band cumbia and artists such as Colombian legend Lucho Bermudez, Viento Callejero’s mission is to create a big sound with danceable music.

Four songs on the album are penned by the group and the rest are classics from the cumbia world from artists such as Lucho Bermudez (Tolu), Alvaro Cifuentes (Cariñito) and Eliseo Herrera (La Burrita).

Artist: Fonseca
Album: Fonseca Sinfonico
Songs: “Te Mando Flores,” “Prometo”

"Te Mando Flores"

Summary: He was born Juan Fernando Fonseca, but he’s simply known as Fonseca—the “tropipop” singer/songwriter from Colombia known for his accordion-driven music known as the vallenato.

Fonseca’s latest album, Fonseca Sinfonico, features 11 compositions and three covers as heard with a 70-piece orchestra.

The latest project takes Fonseca into a new direction and allows the music to shine in a different way. The orchestration is epic, the reimagining of the music is poetic and vocally, Fonseca continues to illustrate his command of his artistic vision.

“Prometo”

“Te Mando Flores” and “Prometo,” like the entire album, are beautifully remade with the support of the orchestra, allowing each composition to build lyrically and musically.

Born in Bogota, Fonseca fell in love with music as a child and was part of a rock band right before he studied music in college. He has called this album the most important project of his career, and we agree.


Oliver Wang

Artist: Shabazz Palaces 
Album: Lese Majesty
Song: "They Come In Gold," "#Cake"

"#Cake"

Summary:  This is the second full-length LP from Seattle's Shabazz Palaces, which is fronted by Ishamael Butler, aka Butterfly from Digable Planets, joined by multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire . If you've never heard their music, Shabazz Palaces is difficult to describe in any consistent way since their approach is incredibly eclectic and experimental. I call it "wading into someone else's fever dream" and I've found that the reaction to their music is somewhat polarized. People either love the eccentricity of it or they find it unlistenable. Put me in the former category. 

Artist: Common
Album: Nobody's Smiling
Song: "Rewind That," "Speak My Piece"


"Speak My Piece"

Summary: The first new album from Common in three years and possibly his best album in at least seven years. It seems odd to describe Common as being "mid career" considering he's been recording now for over 20 years but as his Hollywood career has grown over the last 10 years, it can feel like his presence in music has taken a back seat. To me, Nobody's Smiling is partially an attempt at staying contemporary - I hear influences from Kanye West's last album creeping in here, but it's also a return to form in terms of Common and his long-time producer No ID working with the kind of soulful, jazzy samples that originally brought the rapper to prominence. 

Artist: James Brown 
Album: In the Jungle Groove
Song: "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose"

"Give It Up or Turn It Loose"

 

Summary: With the new James Brown bio-pic out, it's never a bad time to revisit the music of James Brown. The soundtrack to the film is fine if you really absolutely need some basic primer on Brown, but I always recommend people pick up "In the Jungle Groove," which came out in the mid-1980s and became one of the most influential releases of the decade, not just because it helped reintroduce people to the height of Brown's funky greatness, but because it coincided with the beginning of the golden age of sampling in hip-hop. Whether they'd admit it or not, a ton of rap producers used this anthology as the basis for countless hip-hop tracks that emerged in that era. 
 


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