JEFF WEISS' MUSIC BLOG BEGETS ECLECTIC SHOWCASE AT THE ECHOPLEX
Here's a recipe for you, courtesy of Passion of the Weiss music blogger and regular L.A. Times contributor Jeff Weiss: Start with Rainbow Arabia's keytars and M.I.A.-like yelped directives to "Let them dance!" (plus their appropriation of Banksy's crayon bullets on their videos), enough to snake-charm hipsters and hippies alike. Add South African artist Spoek Mathambo's version of Kwaito (South Africa's answer to house music), whose sometimes sparse, sometimes clamoring — but always backbreaking — beats will have hip-hop heads crawling out as well.
To "assuage the beat-inclined," add Matthewdavid to the lineup. "He's kind of a digger," Weiss says. "like the guys in Portland's Mississippi Records, going from old funk to Appalachia folk."
Weiss, who is throwing this eclectic show at the Echoplex, is talking so animatedly on his cell phone while he drives that he can plead "rapping along with the radio" if he gets caught.
"Rap" is the right word: His blog is mostly a rapper trainspotter's delight. Even so, the show he's put together is a pinch of this, a pinch of that, reflecting his rapid-fire, ADD aesthetic voracity.
"With iPod shuffle," he theorizes, "people don't listen to entire albums much; they listen to jazz, then rap, then funk. There's no correlation, it just is as it comes. Instead of 14 rappers in a row, I'd rather see two rappers, then a funk group, then some Low End electronic beat thing."
The night also doubles as Rainbow Arabia's record release party.
In other words: Don't categorize it, just go.
Passion of the Weiss Presents Rainbow Arabia, Spoek Mathambo and Matthewdavid, Fri., March 25, at 8:30 p.m. at the Echoplex. 18 and older.
SOULSTRESS MELANIE FIONA HELPS YOU MAKE THE ULTIMATE BREAKUP MIXTAPE
Breaking through as an R&B singer without first singing hooks on a ton of rappers' singles is difficult. Breaking through with a slow song is almost impossible. But Melanie Fiona not only did just that with 2009's "It Kills Me," she also was nominated for a Grammy.
While "It Kills Me" is about a woman whose love won't let her leave her cheating man, "Gone and Never Coming Back," the first single from sophomore album The MF Life, finds her lover leaving.
We asked the lyrically lovelorn Fiona to make us a breakup mixtape:
"The first song will definitely be 'Gone' by Esthero. Not only is she one of the most creative artists, but her songs also always have a way to make me feel good. I'd add my own 'It Kills Me'; it's such an intense song, and that's what breaking up is about, emotions running high. Then I'd go with 'Giving Up' by Donny Hathaway because it is an amazingly soulful song. When I want to just dance, rock out and forget about it all, I'll listen to 'You Oughta Know' by Alanis Morissette, and of course I'd have a classic — 'Making Love Out of Nothing at All' by Air Supply.
Melanie Fiona performs Sat., March 26, 8 p.m., at El Rey Theatre. All ages.
ACE DESIGNERS: AARON DRAPLIN
All Tiny Creatures is Krautrock- inflected indie music from Wisconsin, masterminded by Thomas Wincek (member of Collection of Colonies of Bees and Volcano Choir, and the guy behind Emotional Joystick), and featuring Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. Their new album, Harbors, features art and design by Portland's Aaron Draplin (yup, two weeks ago we featured Portland's Sohale Kevin Darouian — something in the water up there, maybe). Draplin's design is as American as a vintage motel sign, and it takes the clear lines of corporate communication and turns them into something beautiful and new. Go to YouTube and check out his hilarious rant "Why America Is Fucked," which prompts the question: "Is crappy design a symptom or a cause of cultural decline?"
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Mommy, What's a Wheedle?
Light in the Attic is one of those reissue labels (like the Numero Group or the Sun City Girls' Sublime Frequencies) that keep the flame for amazing, neglected sounds of the past. Light in the Attic started in Seattle, but it now has an L.A. operation and is diversifying into DVD and soundtrack releases.
The label has just released the 2009 documentary Wheedle's Groove on DVD, a pet project that epitomizes the spirit of Light in the Attic. It all started when Seattle crate digger DJ Supreme contacted them about releasing a compilation of local soul and funk from the '60s and '70s. The resulting comp was named after the Wheedle (a much-derided dorky mascot for Seattle's SuperSonics between 1978 and 1985), and its release party in 2004 resulted in some of the musicians on those records forming an eponymous band.
The documentary charts the entire process of rediscovery and features a comprehensive who's who of Seattle music, from Sir Mix-A-Lot and Quincy Jones to Soundgarden, and even Seattle's most successful jazzman ever: Kenny G (does the "G" stand for "Groovy"?).