Recent Posts in world music

September 18, 2015

Orlando Julius

Few artists have been more crucial to the invention, development, and popularization of Afro-pop than Orlando Julius. Starting in the '60s, Julius was fusing traditional African sounds and rhythms with those of American pop, soul, and R&B. Aside from performing and recording in his native Nigeria, he spent many years in the United States working on collaborations with Lamont Dozier, the Crusaders, and Hugh Masekela. His 1966 effort, Super Afro Soul, made him a national celebrity in Nigeria and even went so far as to influence music in the United States. The record's dramatic, highly melodic incorporation of soul, pop, and funk was very much ahead of its time, and some say that Super Afro Soul helped shape the funk movement that swept over the United States in subsequent years.

After Super Afro Soul, Julius released a long list of records exclusively in Nigeria and from them received a great amount of local fame. He went largely unnoticed by the international community until 2000, when Super Afro Soul was re-released on Strut and distributed throughout the world to wide critical acclaim. In 2011, his 1972 album Orlando Julius and the Afro Sounders was reissued by Voodoo Funk, and the artist increased his live activity at home and abroad. [All Music]

Afrobeat pioneer Orlando Julius is going on his first run of US dates in over a decade, beginning in Chicago tonight (9/18). After that, he makes his way to NYC for a show on September 25 at Le Poisson Rouge as Orlando Julius & The Afro Soundz, with support from Underground Soundsystem. Tickets for that one are on sale now.

Orlando's most recent album is 2014's Jaiyede Afro (Strut Records), recorded with backing band The Heliocentrics. Listen to the title track and his classic Super Afro Soul, with his list of tour dates, below...

Continue reading "Afrobeat pioneer Orlando Julius playing first US shows in over a decade (dates)"

August 17, 2015

Dengue Fever

Los Angeles band Dengue Fever, who make an updated take on '60s/'70s jazzy Cambodian pop, released The Deepest Lake earlier this year and you can check out the video for "No Sudden Moves," a KEXP session and a Rdio stream of the album below.

Dengue Fever will be going on tour this September, including a NYC stop at Le Poisson Rouge on 9/11 with Bombay Rickey and Nappy G. Tickets are on sale now.

Continue reading "Dengue Fever released 'The Deepest Lake,' touring in September (dates, videos, LP stream)"

July 14, 2015

Lee Scratch Perry's Vision of Paradise

Dub reggae icon Lee "Scratch" Perry is a one-of-a-kind dude whose influence cannot be overstated -- and where a term like "eccentric" is probably an understatement. A new documentary, Lee Scratch Perry's Vision of Paradise, aims to show at least a little of the method to his madness:

For the past 15 years Volker has followed Perry on a spiritual and geographical journey taking in Jamacia, Ethopia, Germany, Switzerland and London. Over this period Volker has earned Perry's trust, resulting in a never-before-granted level of access and insight into Perrys' fantastical, spiritual world. This classic-in-the-making tells a story of epic, magical propotions that's not a biography, more fairytale documentary, which is in turns funny, poetic and frequently mind blowing.
The film made its world premiere on July 4 at London's East End Film Festival. No word on North American screenings, but you can watch the trailer and watch a BBC news segment about it, below.

Lee Scratch Perry will be doing a little touring this fall, including a NYC date at Brooklyn Bowl on October 1 with Subatomic Sound System. Tickets for that show are on sale. He's also playing Bumbershoot in Seattle and Riot Fest Chicago. Tour dates are listed below.

Continue reading "Lee "Scratch" Perry subject of new documentary, touring this fall (dates, movie trailer)"

May 26, 2015

by Bill Pearis

marcos valle

If you watched the 2014 World Cup, chances are you saw a Southern Comfort commercial titled "Dance" which featured multiple versions of actor Onosky Ujorha boogieing to Marcus Valle's 1983 tropicalia/disco single "Estrellar." And maybe you, like I did, became a little obsessed with "Estrellar" and went on Discogs wanting to buy Valle's self-titled album the song is from (that's it above), only to learn it fetches for $100 on vinyl. Maybe that was just me. If you missed that commercial or that song, videos for both (and some other songs to check out) are below.

Valle, who's been a big name in the Brazilian music scene since the early '60s, is in NYC this week playing NYC's Birdland tonight through Saturday (May 27 - 30). The show, titled "Bossabrasil," is with Carlos Lyra and there are 8:30 PM and 11:30 PM shows each night. Tickets are on sale, though for tonight you'll need to call the box office to reserve.

Continue reading "Brazilian tropicalia artist Marcos Valle playing weeklong run at NYC's Birdland with Carlos Lyra"

March 26, 2015


Syrian singer Omar Souleyman will release his new album, Bahdeni Nami, on July 28 via Modeselektor's Monkeytown Records. That's the cover art above and Modeselektor produced some of it, like the nine-minute "Enssa El Aatab" which you can stream below. Four Tet and Giles Peterson offer up production as well on the album.

Souleyman is in the US currently, playing the Treefort Festival in Boise, ID tonight, Slingshot fest in Athens, GA on Friday (3/27) and the Big Ears fest in Knoxville, TN on Saturday (3/28). He'll be back in May for a few more shows, including one at NYC's Le Poisson Rouge on May 22 with Tasseomancy. Tickets go on sale Friday (3/27) at 10 AM.

All dates are listed, along with the new song stream, below.

Continue reading "Omar Souleyman worked w/ Four Tet & Modeselektor on new LP, touring, playing NYC in May (dates + new song stream) "

March 20, 2015

Suboi making her SXSW debut last night (via @BVAustin)

Rap was not popular in Vietnam when Suboi was growing up, so anything she heard remotely like it made a big impression. Before Eminem, the energy of Will Smith's song, "Nod Ya Head," from Men in Black II, captivated her when she saw it on TV. Smith, and especially Eminem, became Suboi's English teachers. She would listen to Eminen, repeat the words, go to an Internet café, look up the lyrics, write them down, and translate them.

"That's why my English is so rude," said Suboi, who also bought a couple of Oxford grammar books to supplement her hip-hop-based language lessons, and started hanging out in areas of Saigon where tourists go, talking with them. "Oh, man, it was all bad words. It was a great way to learn English."...

Suboi, who raps in both English and Vietnamese, got her stage name from her nickname, "Su," combined with "Boi" for being a tomboy.

Now she's known as the Queen of Hip-Hop in Vietnam, the first young woman in the country to make it big in the genre, with over a million followers on Facebook, tens of thousands of YouTube views and appearances in marketing campaigns for Adidas and Samsung, among others. - [Daily Beast]

Vietnamese rapper Suboi is over in the US for her first-ever shows in the country, having played San Francisco last week and is in Austin this week for SXSW. Another first: according to a press release she is the first Vietnamese artist to ever play the festival. Check out two Suboi music videos (both directed by BV photographer Bao Nguyen) and listen to a few tracks and remixes below.

Last night (3/19) was her official SXSW showcase and she'll also be playing the BrooklynVegan free day party at Red 7 on Saturday (3/21) and she'll be backed by Fool's Gold signed DJ Sammy Bananas. RSVP to attend if you're in town.

After SXSW, Suboi will head to NYC where she'll play Baby's All Right on Thursday (3/26) with Sandunes and Hashback Hashish. Tickets are on sale.

Continue reading "Vietnamese rapper Suboi made her SXSW debut, playing BrooklynVegan day party ++ NYC show at Baby's All Right"

January 22, 2015

by Bill Pearis

Ex Hex

Ex Hex have just made a video for "Don't Wanna Lose," which is the opening track to last year's awesome Rips (one of my favorites of last year). Directed by Lara Jean Gallagher, the video is an homage to the 1982 cult film Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains which tracks the rise and fall of teenage punk band The Stains (fronted by then-teenagers Diane Lane and Laura Dern). If you've never seen it, it's definitely midnight movie material made even more fun by the presence of The Clash's Paul Simonon and Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and Paul Cook as members of a UK punk band The Stains tour with (fronted by a young Ray Winstone). Ex Hex, who I'm going to guess have watched the movie many times, clearly had fun making this video and you can watch it -- and compare scenes against The Fabulous Stains trailer -- below.

Ex Hex will be in NYC when their tour hits Le Poisson Rouge on April 23 with Sheer Mag, Kuroma, and Roya opening. Tickets are still available. They'll then be back in NYC to play the 2015 Northside Festival at Music Hall of Williamsburg on June 12. Tickets are still available for MHOW as well.

Updated dates and "Don't Wanna Lose" video, below...

Continue reading "Ex Hex pay tribute to 'Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains' in new video (watch it ++ updated dates)"

December 9, 2014


The annual NYC world music festival globalFEST returns in 2015 to Webster Hall on January 11. This year's performers -- many of whom are making their US or NYC debuts -- include (descriptions via press release):

Bixiga70 (US debut; Brazil): Brazil's brassy Afrobeat orchestra

Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia/France/US): Electro-inspired voice of Tunisia's Arab Spring

Emil Zrihan (Morocco/Israel): Soaring Moroccan improvisations and Jewish songs

The Jones Family Singers (US): Hard-driving Gospel funk from Texas

Just a Band (Kenya): Nairobi's Super-Nerdy Electronic Music & Art Collective

Kahulanui (US): Hawaii's kings of swing

Kevin Johansen + The Nada (Argentina): De-genre-ate Sub-tropicalia from Argentina

The Nile Project (US debut; various): Trans-border collaboration across the Nile Basin

Puerto Candelaria (NYC debut; Colombia): Colombia's rebellious cumbia experimentalists

Riyaaz Qawwali (various): Pakistani Sufi Music made in the USA

Sam Lee (NYC debut; UK): Unconventional Songs of the British Isles

Zap Mama (Belgium): Polyphonic a capella Afropop pioneers

Tickets are on sale now.

November 13, 2014


The leading light of Garifuna music has come home to roost. After his adventurous 2011 release Laru Beya--for which he traveled to Senegal and recorded with West African musicians--Aurelio understood anew that his strength as a musician lay in his own roots. The Garifuna people descend from escaped African captives who interbred with Carib Indians on the island of St. Vincent for a century before being forcibly moved to the Central American coast by British colonials. On Honduran shores, young Aurelio used to listen to the fishermen coming home at sunset and lingering into the night to sing paranda songs by the sea. All this happened at the landing, the landini, the image that gives this album's title its most literal meaning.

This set of 12 rootsy songs was recorded under the direction of Aurelio's longtime producer Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records. Duran, who has produced a series of exemplary Garifuna releases, has mastered the sound--open and airy, deceptively simple, but graced with crisp percussion, layered vocals, and subtle tasty guitar sounds, from ambient slides to crunchy chops and melodious breaks. Voices are paramount, for these are first and foremost stories about love affairs, births, deaths and boats lost at sea. Duran notes that it is the collective sharing of an experience that gives a Garifuna song a long life in the community. [by Banning Eyre for Afropop Worldwide]

The above review is of Aurelio Martinez's newest and third album, Landini, which follows 2011's Laru Beya and 2004's Garifuna Soul. Aurelio's a Honduran musician and a member of the Garifuna community, and in addition to music served in the Honduran National Congress (the first black member of the congress) which explained the big gap between his first two albums. Since Laru Beya though, music seems to be a continuing concern, considering it only took three years to get out its followup. And now Aurelio has plans to come to the US for a tour here.

The tour begins in Teaneck, NJ on Friday (11/14) and then comes to Elmira, NY (11/18) before hitting NYC on November 22 at Symphony Space in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Tickets for that show are on sale now.

All dates (including New Year's Eve in Portland, OR) are listed, with a video of him playing "Irawini" from the new album, below...

Continue reading "Honduran musician Aurelio Martinez released 'Landini,' touring North America (dates, video)"

October 1, 2014

Paul Simon at Webster Hall in 2011 (more by Ryan Barkan)
Paul Simon

From October 8 - November 5, Carnegie Hall will be hosting the UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa festival which includes events at Carnegie as well as other NYC venues. Some more details from the press release:

With its UBUNTU festival, Carnegie Hall salutes South Africa, a country with its dizzying patchwork of cultures, eleven official languages, and a cultural life like none other. Roughly translated as "I am because you are," Ubuntu is a philosophy from Southern Africa that emphasizes the importance of community, a way of thinking that has influenced recent moves toward reconciliation and cultural inclusion in South Africa as fostered by South Africa's former president, the late Nelson Mandela. The spirit of this philosophy is embodied in the festival's programming, which features a varied lineup of artists representing the many threads that together make up the country's musical culture.
It's now been announced that African-music lover Paul Simon will be performing during the festival on October 18 at Carnegie Hall, joining South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who he performed with on his Graceland tour. This will be the first time they've performed together in NYC since 1993. Other guests on the concert include South African ensembles Thokoza (six-woman choral group), the Bakithi Kumalo Band (led by Paul Simon's longtime bass player), and Shabalala Rhythm, as well as Zulu maskandi musician Maqhinga Radebe. Ladysmith Black Mambazo also perform without Paul in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall the next night (10/19). Tickets are on sale now.

In 2015, Paul will tour Australia, New Zealand and Europe. All of his dates are listed, with a trailer for UBUNTU and a video of him performing "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, below...

Continue reading "Paul Simon joining Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Carnegie Hall during UBUNTU fest, touring overseas in 2015"