By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
As for tweeness? Hardly — these aren’t even pop songs. Members Justin Moyer and Ryan Hicks turn out to be an adept and resourceful bass-and-drums unit, obviously informed by hardcore (as their association with Fugazi’s house label suggests), but far less taken with noise-as-power than such bottom-feeding twosomes as GodheadSilo (or current practitioners Pink & Brown). The opening riffs of “Faye Dunaway” or “Tom Cruise” could pass for Punch Line–era Minutemen (minus D. Boon), but nearly every cut makes room for self-interrupting elements, often referencing heavier-duty art music. The clattery improv passages come from the Paul Lytton/Barry Guy “non-idiomatic” playbook, while “Christina Ricci” builds on brown-frequencied bass sustain that would do Devin Sarno proud.
The point isn’t entirely parodic — these guys can actually pull off the sounds — but it does seem as though they mean to give the self-styled importance of several underground subgenres a healthy tweak, with a handful of cultural-studies savvy tossed in for good measure. First Reflections might be taken more seriously if it name-checked Gramsci and Adorno rather than Paltrow and Swank, but it wouldn’t be one whit more politically efficacious, nor half as much fun. (Franklin Bruno)
Orlando Cachaíto López
ORLANDO Cachaíto López
Cachaíto (World Circuit/Nonesuch)
After the soulful retro-Cubano of previous Buena Vista Social Club outings, Cachaíto injects shocks o’ mighty into the tropical-jam continuum. The guest-laden Havana and London sessions anchored by Social Club standup bassist Orlando “Cachaíto” López pull together the Latin-jazz improv of descarga (co-pioneered by López’s dad, Orestes, and uncle, Cachao) and occasional Orquesta Aragon–like strings with dub whoosh, R&B chomp and even metropole DJ style. A general rambunctiousness rules, fostering atmospherics far afield from the nostalgic ache of much earlier BVSC work.
Just two minutes into “Redención,” an echo-delayed string-section stanza signals this is not your father’s descarga, while Manuel Galban’s reverb-soaked Fenderisms roll over “A Gozar el Tumbao” like a rogue twilight. “Tumbanga” finds Hugh Masekela’s flügelhorn riding Miguel “Anga” Diaz’s monstrous congas, López’s fat-bottom badda-boom and Bigga Morrison’s Hammond-organ version-excursion deep into the postcolonial mystic. The aptly titled “Cachaíto in Laboratory” kicks it with DJ Dee Nasty’s scratch-and-burn turntablisms as the main bassman seeps clave and the brass section buzzes just over the treetops.
When I saw Cachaíto on a late-April European tour date at Brussels’ Ancienne Belgique, he fronted a more stripped-down group. Sans strings, turntables and extra horns, the sound vibed wide in a pan-Caribbean direction. Dread prankster Morrison’s humorous Hammond organics and dub-box echo bubbled through the irrepressible Havana rumblings of Diaz, bongo bruddah Carlos Gonzalez and ageless timbales ace Amadito Valdes. Galban’s stroked leads veered between shambolic and shimmering, though he kept a stranglehold on the montuno, vivifying the almighty Cuban groove that would normally flow from the pianist’s left hand. Astride it all, smiling and unfailingly deep in the pocket, Cachaíto maintained his master’s touch without heavy-handedness or ego gusts.
at the Hollywood Bowl, July 23
The most astonishing thing about Sade’s recent appearance at the Hollywood Bowl wasn’t her ageless beauty, the impressive chops of her criminally underrated band or the palpable love washing up from the crowd onto the stage. It was the surprising reach and power of her stage presence — a combination of soul-princess cool and earth-mother vibes — which brought the crowd to an absolute hush during songs like “The Sweetest Gift,” “Jezebel” and a lovely version of “It’s Only Love That Gets You Through,” then drove them insane when she unleashed guttural wails on “Pearls” and “Is It a Crime?” Where so many female entertainers today are on a cut-and-paste rampage through trends and pop history in order to secure iconic status, Sade effortlessly evokes the likes of Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday. She does it through a persona that — radical notion — fuses style with substance, in which compassion, empathy and a bruised but resilient heart are the points of connection between her and fans.
Regal and impossibly sexy (her low-key synchronized choreography with her two backing singers during “Flow,” and the African dance-inflected/ass-emphasizing moves she did throughout the show, were sexier than the entire careers of Janet, Madonna and Britney combined), Sade commanded the stage from the moment she stepped from behind the sheer scrim. And while it would have been very cool if the band had broken out with “Clean Heart,” “Bullet Proof Soul” or other lesser-known cuts, the inventive video projections and unexpectedly playful dance steps showed a willingness to tweak persona and defy expectation.
Opening act India Arie proved herself to be a muscular musician and outgoing performer. Playfully strumming the opening to OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” on her guitar, turning in a flawless rendition of “Summertime” in a duet with Leroy Osbourne (Sade’s longtime backup singer) and pumping up the soul quotient on tracks like “Part of My Life,” “I See God in You” and “Nature” from her debut album, Acoustic Soul, she made you want to see her in a smaller venue, where a more responsive crowd could vibe to the music and not just use her impressive set to bide their time. (Ernest Hardy)