Monday, January 25, 2010

KQED: Nneka Is Here To Save Us All

If the past decade has taught us anything, it's that mainstream American music can be subverted in many suprising and subtle ways. Sure, the bestselling artist in the nation right now may be the vanilla-voiced, bland-as-bread Taylor Swift, but just take a look at Rolling Stone's 100 best singles of the 2000s. It's a list dominated by massively successful outbursts of eccentric pop genius: "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, "Hey Ya!" by Outkast, "Paper Planes" by MIA, and on and on. All huge commercial hits, but each, in their own wonderful ways, really rather odd.

And it is this America that stands ready to welcome an unlikely pop hero called Nneka and her album Concrete Jungle. It switches through smoky blues, biting rap, and howling soul without missing a beat. But it also has something extra, something you don't normally hear in the US charts: the sounds of unfamiliar cultures and places. With a Nigerian father and German mother, Nneka spent her childhood in Africa before moving to Europe to study aged 19. This transcontinental journey has given her both an impassioned political perspective and an unusual set of musical influences. And now Nneka arrives on these shores to promote a record packed with more pop hooks than the Jackson 5 dressed in Velcro.

By Keith Laidlaw. Read the full article here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

KQED: Lymbyc Systym - More Fun than Your Sofa

So you overdid it during the holidays. You've resolved to subsist on a diet of raw vegetables and fruit smoothies for the month of January (and possibly February too). Right now, you probably want to do nothing more active than retreat to the sanctuary of your sofa and watch reruns of Scrubs. But let's face facts: you can only find solace in Zach Braff's puppy-dog eyes for so long. Eventually, you're going to have to leave the house. So why not get your year off to a proper start by braving the arctic chill of our northern California winter and going to see Lymbyc System play the Cafe du Nord?

By Keith Laidlaw. Read the full article here.