Torontopia, at last? Graham Preston and his Tyee Music debut.

Music Picks April 7-14

6 Apr 2006, TheTyee.ca

KashmereBand

History in action: the Kashmere Stage Band, bells and whistles in tow

Currently pursuing an MA at the University of Toronto, Graham Preston of Regulate the Voice is our newest addition to the roster of Tyee music contributors. Focusing his academic studies on cultural theory and hip hop studies, Graham's blog has gained critical attention from the Globe and Mail's Carl Wilson and DJ Drama, among other participants in the Toronto indie community. Since relocating to Toronto from Vancouver, Graham has brought west coast living to the big city and has gained notoriety among his grad school classmates for partying like some kind of academic rock star who gets home at 6am and waxes poetic on psychoanalysis the next day. He continues to foster media roots in Vancouver, where he is a regular contributor to Discorder and other magazines.  [Tyee]

Band:

Laura Barrett

Song:

The Woods Between Worlds

Description:

Recently in Toronto music circles, there has been much discussion about the city’s status as an artistic utopia or, to use the favoured term, Torontopia. Carl Wilson has argued passionately for the concept while others, especially myself, have recently articulated a pointed voice of Torontopian dissent. What we all agree about though is the worth of the remarkable Laura Barrett, Hogtown’s esoteric master of the kalimba (African thumb piano). Her songs, like this unreleased home recording, have echoes of Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom but with a slightly more vulnerable quality to her voice.

Rather than reject the music for its difference, to its credit, Toronto’s scene has embraced Barrett’s work and especially all of its quirks. Barrett’s self described “neurotic sci-folk” is without doubt one of the most intriguing new developments in “Torontopian” music.

Album:

n/a

Label:

self-released

Notes:
Band:

Kashmere Stage Band

Song:

I Wish

Description:

When I was in high school, I had inclinations that I was going to be the next Eric Dolphy, the best dude to ever pick up a bass clarinet, and blow some mighty and scary jazz. I promptly joined the stage band and these aspirations quickly vanished as we played nothing but sterile arrangements of ossified standards. The Kashmere Stage Band though were completely unlike the band that I played with in the sense that they could actually play. Led and arranged by Conrad O. Johnson, an old jazz musician who had once played with Count Basie, the band lasted from around 1969 until 1978, toured the world and recorded a number of records which were never given their due until DJ Shadow repeatedly used them as a sample source.

And, now, Egon, an obsessive archivist of rare funk and DJ, has rescued them from the crates and released a number of Kashmere Stage Band’s best cuts as a series of 7 inch records. Recorded in 1975, “I Wish” is an amazing song; the band’s rhythm section is ridiculously tight and the arrangements are so well wrought that Cleanth Brooks could write a book about them. In any case, this seriously funky track is one of the most surprising songs that I’ve heard in a long time.

Album:

I Wish Parts 1 & 2 (7 Inch record, NA7016)

Label:

Now Again Records

Notes:
Band:

Cadence Weapon

Song:

Black Hand

Description:

Still only 20 years old, producer and emcee Cadence Weapon (aka Rollie Pemberton) has already had a cover story in Exclaim!, a feature in Macleans and countless articles and blog posts praising him. And, somehow, his music lives up to most of the hype. “Black Hand” is one of the strongest songs on his debut album and it features a typically great Cadence Weapon beat and one of his best raps. It’s only a short while until world domination (and I am serious here) for Cadence Weapon.

Album:

Breaking Kayfabe

Label:

Upper Class Recordings

Notes:

He plays Arts County Fair on April 7th and returns to Vancouver on May 9th, opening for Islands at Mesa Luna.

Band:

Dudley Perkins

Song:

Funky Dudley

Description:

Produced by the great Madlib, this track is from the forthcoming Dudley Perkins record. Though he started more as a traditional straight-ahead rapper, Perkins has gradually morphed into a sort of 21st century griot who sings, speaks and raps out his inspirations for the sake of getting the party started. Madlib flips an unrecognizable sample and turns what would have probably been a banal funk lick into something contemporary and relevant. Perkins shouts out the Ohio Players in between asking himself, “How did you get so funky, Dudley?” A totally fun little tune here.

Album:

Expressions (2012 a.u.) [available April 18, 2006]

Label:

Stones Throw Records

Notes:
Band:

Soul Position

Song:

Hand-Me-Downs

Description:

Consisting of emcee/producer Blueprint, the illest former computer programmer ever, and the widely-acclaimed DJ/producer RJD2, Soul Position is an underground hip-hop equivalent of a supergroup. Sometimes when one of these groups form, their records disappoint due to a lack of chemistry between the band members but for Soul Position this is not the case. Blueprint’s bouncy, energetic and passionate delivery fits perfectly on top of RJD2’s sample-heavy, epic and neck-snapping beats. Better yet, Blueprint actually has something worthwhile and positive to say about the community and the place of hip-hop culture in its uplift.

Album:

Things Go Better With RJ and AL

Label:

Rhymesayers Entertainment

Notes:

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