Listen to Ozomatli’s Spanish-language tribute to CCR, and two live albums to put on your playlist
Delroy Edwards, “Hangin’ at the Beach” (L.A. Club Resource). The curiously engaging bedroom dance music of Los Angeles producer and label head Delroy Edwards sounds duct-taped together, as though he gathered his beats and melodies via old Casio keyboards, fed them through a vintage MacIntosh computer and recorded the result onto cassette tape.
You can hear the human hand at work on the 30 tracks that comprise Edwards’ debut album, “Hangin’ at the Beach.” Aside from the four-minute track called “Moscow Girls,” most of the others clock in at under two minutes, each an electronic miniature that recalls the DIY synthesizer scene of the 1980s.
“Nervous Breakdown” isn’t the Black Flag punk song, but it sprints through its 1:18 with a similar urgency. “Wild Animal” opens with a recorded phone call in which a man expresses concern for a mysterious creature racing through his yard, before moving into a minimal exploration of chip music.
Ozomatli, “Bad Moon Rising,” from “Quiero Creedence” (Concord Picante). Cross-cultural projects such as “Quiero Creedence,” a Spanish-language tribute to the roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, serve a noble purpose but can sometimes get mired in the novelty of it all. The variety offered here should not only quiet the skeptics, but offers evidence that nearly 50 years after its birth, CCR’s work remains essential.
The 14 artists who work these classics include the Spanish singer-songwriter Enrique Bunbury, who re-imagines “Run Through the Jungle” as a crawling, conga-driven, reverb-heavy rock song. The Oakland-based group Bang Data updates the great protest song “Fortunate Son” until it’s a wonderful mess of Latin, hip-hop, rock and reggae sounds.
Also featured are Los Lobos (“Bootleg”), Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel (“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”) and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons & La Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia, who roll through a wild, psychedelic blues-rock take on “Green River.”
Best is Los Angeles stalwarts Ozomatli’s take on “Bad Moon Rising.” Seemingly written with the 2016 presidential election in mind, Creedence founder John Fogerty’s menacing, lyrical portent is a great match for the buoyant Ozomatli. It’s driven by a speedy ska beat to open, one that maneuvers through measures with both joy and intent.
DJDS, “Live in Tijuana” (Body High). Those of us who stare at screens during our work lives understand the necessity of “mid-ground” music, the kind that strikes a balance between foreground and background music, that resides at the periphery of attention rather than either consuming it with complicated lyrics or, alternately, vanishing into virtual silence.
The Los Angeles house music duo DJDS designs music built first for the dance floor, where its ability to inhabit entire bodies is a thrill to experience. But their thump-heavy, textured tracks also work as mid-ground soundtrack music.
Nuanced and not overbearing, dense with repetition and loops and devoid of verses and choruses that drives ADD brains to distraction, its new beat-based “Live in Tijuana” captures an exuberant recent set in Tijuana. Available as a free download and stream from the duo’s website, the live document works both as a loud, cruising-the-city-with-the-windows-down soundtrack or as block-out-the-noise meditative work-day music.
It was recorded a few months ago during a 3 a.m. set at a small Tijuana club called Wherehouse, where the duo originally known as DJ Dodger Stadium took over the open-air dance floor “for a crowd of what felt like all friends,” wrote the team on the download page. “It was warm and people danced.”
That simple description hardly captures the buoyant spirit of “Live in Tijuana.”
Thee Oh Sees, “Live in San Francisco” (Castleface). This great psychedelic garage punk band was born in San Francisco but relocated to Los Angeles a few years back, and in that time founder Jon Dwyer’s killer unit has changed membership without diminishing its power. That inventive, distorted fury is evident throughout the band’s new studio album, “A Weird Exits.”
But we’re here to celelbrate one of the best live guitar bands working today, and Thee Oh Sees rip through an excellent set on “Live in San Francisco.” It renders moot the question, ‘Who releases a live album in 2016?’ within a few well-scraped riffs.
Who releases a live album in 2016? A fearless band that understands how tight it is, that appreciates the wonder of locking into a musical groove and gripping it for the duration. The peak of “Live ...” hits at the end, when the band kicks into “Contraption” and rides the track past the 15-minute mark. Grueling? Intense? Deliriously so.
Wye Oak, “Watching the Waiting” (Merge). Like many of Baltimore duo Wye Oak’s songs, “Watching the Waiting” covers a lot of ground in a few minutes. Though rich with melody and hooks, the song’s speedy tempo mixes with verse-chorus joy and an occasional odd interlude that flip-flops through the measures.
The song is taken from their breathtaking fifth studio album, “Tween,” whose nine songs mix grooves and distorted chords with moments of beat-heavy pop.
When the band is in expansion mode, as on “Too Right,” it exudes power. The delicacy of “Trigger Finger” is presented through a mesmerizing, repetitive guitar line, one that is gradually overwhelmed by washes of noise. Like all of Wye Oak’s output, the record revels in the power of melody to surprise and celebrates the ways in which moments of silence and hesitation can lead to dramatic need for release.
There’s a lot of terrible music out there. For tips on the stuff that’s not, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit
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