Roots Online: Dub Echoes Documentary

Posted on June 19th, 2009 by JJ Loy

Documentaries about Jamaican music are popping up all over the place.  Here’s one that I can’t wait to check out.  Dub Echoes promises to form a direct connection from contemporary electronic music all the way back to 70′s Dub Reggae.  It’s surely not the first time these connections have been pointed out, but it looks like a pretty solid film none-the-less.

It features DJ Spooky, Theivery Corporation, Bunny Lee, Dub Pistols, King Jammy, Lee Perry, Ticklah, Mad Professor and many more.  But don’t take my word for it… check the trailer:

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Comments (1) Jun 19 2009

Ska Blah Blah: Small Talk Episode 01 – Victor Axelrod

Posted on April 15th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Your eyes have not deceived you- It is a new series for Ska Blah Blah. This time around, the interviews are a bit shorter and the artists are a bit newer. I’ve also broadened the focus from mere Ska Revivalism to a more encompassing umbrella of Jamaican Revivalism. This is to better fit with this millennium’s crop of bands and DJ’s.

I’m starting off strong with my interview with Victor Axelrod, but subscribe to the feed and you’ll automatically get interviews with The Impalers, Babylon Party Machine, The Aggrolites, and The Green Room Rockers as they become available.

Multi-instrumentalist, producer and Dub mixologist, Victor Axelrod isn’t quite a household name, even if you live in the hippest of households. He’s worked with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Antibalas, Easy Star All-Stars, Lily Allen, and even Amy Winehouse- so it isn’t like he’s shying away from the spotlight. However, Axelrod’s love of pseudonyms has at times prevented audiences from connecting the dots of his work. His newest solo record seeks to reconcile this by featuring a virtual soundclash between himself and his better known alias, Ticklah.

I spoke with Victor about making retro music, working with Victor Rice, and of course his newest solo record, Ticklah Vs. Axelrod.

Ticklah Vs. Axelrod is out now on Easy Star Records where you can purchase the cd or digital download LINK

National Geographic’s Podcast Interview with Ticklah LINK

Wishtank’s bit about Ticklah’s Don’t Trip Studio with lot’s of extra info LINK

Rock Paper Scissors bit about Ticklah with a great review and press pack goodies LINK

Be friends with the man himself at MySpace LINK

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Comments (0) Apr 15 2008

Take it or Leave it – Top 5′s of 2007

Posted on January 2nd, 2008 by JJ Loy

In case you haven’t noticed, we are now living in a New Year. It’s a time to reflect on the year before, a time to ask, “what were the best Ska and Reggae albums of the past 12 months?” More importantly, it’s a time where I answer that very question, in the form of various Top 5 lists.

Top Ska Albums

  1. The Pietasters – All Day I hesitate to call this a Ska album since it is largely Reggae with a fair share of Rock n’ Roll and Garage mixed into the track list. But the Pietasters will always be a Ska band at heart, and this album is their best yet.
  2. The Pepperpots – Shake It! I’d really like to hear the Pepperpots get a bit rawer. Shake It! is fantastic all over, although sterile at times. These girls are onto something.
  3. The Skatalites – On the Right Track I’ve reviewed this album previously, so to make a long story short: It’s far from the original line-up, but this album delivers new songs in the quintessential, straight forward Ska that you would expect.
  4. Kingston Kitchen – Today’s Special Not a full album, but Dr. Ring Ding fronts this Jazzy outfit through 6 tracks that push the stylistic boundaries of Ska-Jazz.
  5. Deals Gone Bad – The Ramblers These guys seem poised to be major players in the Ska scene. This album, once started, has a tendency to play all the way through. The soulful vocals and jazzy solos keep my fingers off of the skip button. But don’t rest on your laurels yet DGB, with power comes responsibility.

Top Dub Albums

  1. The Drastics – Waiting Easily my most played album of last year, and I haven’t had it for very long. Their brand of Dub is heavy and multifaceted, but never a nuisance. It’s mellow enough to be background music, but experimental enough to pay attention too. It is perfect Dub.
  2. Crazy Baldhead – Has a Posse Agent Jay has a very home made approach to Dub, and his recording aesthetic directly effects the end product. Warm and analog- very Version City.
  3. Ticklah – Ticklah vs Axelrod Brilliant Ska and Jazz Dubs in the style of Victor Rice. Rice is, in fact, on about half of the tracks. However, unlike In America, TvA has vocal tracks by a handful of musicians, while Rice tends to play straight instrumentals. I predict big things for Ticklah in the coming years.
  4. The Eternals – Heavy International This is not the mellow Dub Reggae that you used to see in the genre, this is noisy- circus style syncopation with mind warping effects, urban poetry and unsteady beats. The Eternals aggression has not fallen on deaf ears.
  5. Unnamed – The Good, The Bad and The Queen Damon Albarn now has side projects to his side projects. Blur and The Gorillaz front man, teamed up with the Clash’s Paul Simonon and Danger Mouse. Not a Dub album, and certainly not a Reggae album, GBQ is slow tempo Rock with moody Dub elements that make it worth mentioning here.

Top Early/Skinhead Reggae

  1. The Aggrolites – Reggae Hit LA My downstairs neighbor must hate it when I play this disc, because nothing gets my feet going like The Aggrolites.
  2. Tim Armstrong – Life of a Poet This record, backed by The Aggrolites is like a night out with the band and Armstrong, themselves. The tempo is steady and the drop is Skinhead, but there’s a Punky- sometimes Clubby sound to Life of a Poet.
  3. Green Room Rockers – Hoosier Homegrown These guys seemed to pop up out of nowhere, and now they’re winning over audiences on the East Coast. There is room for them to grow still, but a very impressive first album.
  • I have to give Honorable Mention to a few other bands who had Early-Style Reggae offerings from 2006, but didn’t become easily available (to me) until this last year. The Upsessions and The Caroloregians both released records that would have rivaled The Aggrolites for the top spot. I hope that in ’08 I will hear more from both bands.

Favorite Tracks

  1. Dr. Ring-Ding and Vic Ruggiero – What it Takes
  2. Tim Armstrong – Inner City Violence
  3. The Slackers – Mind Your Own Business
  4. The Pietasters – G to F
  5. Bedoin Soundclash – Nico on the Night Train

Albums Worth Mentioning

Some of these listed here are being noted for being torch carriers in other revivalist genres; and some for adeptly mixing various traditional sounds. It’s this that I look for in music, Jamaican influenced or not.

  1. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – 100 Days 100 Nights
  2. Antibalas – Security EP
  3. Beastie Boys – The Mix Up
  4. Manu Chao – La Radiolina
  5. Ozomatli – Don’t Mess with the Dragon

Comments (0) Jan 02 2008

Cut the Chit Chat – 06 – Even Newer Ska

Posted on November 13th, 2007 by JJ Loy

Way back before Episode 01 of Cut the Chit Chat I had scoured the internet trying to find the newest bands and the newest tracks. But I always felt the episode still wasn’t reflective of the unique time/space location that is late 2007. Luckily for me, the episode opened some doors with several prominent labels. Since the begining of this series, I’ve been swamped with samples from bands that I’ve never heard of.

New Skool and Traditional Style Ska are seeing a huge push in Europe and South America. Not to be counted out, the old USAok has it’s share of Traddy bands dotting it’s wide landscape.

Let me tell you a little bit about each band featured on this episode:

Downbeat Alley – Django Kill – Born from Royal Roost this group delivers heavy organ Reggae.

Deal’s Gone Bad – Rough and Ready – Chicago’s up and comers with a cut from the new album.

New Town Kings – Fire In the Hole – Do the Dog Records sent me this song, it’s fast, it’s rockin’ but it’s not typical.

The Dualers – Money – I found these guys on MySpace and was immediately impressed by their unique sound.

Bedouin Soundclash – Trinco Dog – See? I like them.

Miss Mad-e Ruthless – Dia De los Muertos – This fellow ska enthusiast has decided to lay down some tape of her own with this pretty song about scary things.

The Pepperpots – Be My Baby – Less of a band and more of a Ska Review, The Pepperpots prove their slickness with this classic cover.

3 Minute Warning – Sussed Out – Another Do the Dog offering seems to blaze past in an flash of high energy.

Green Room Rockers – Divided – A Soul Reggae group from West Lafayette, IN of all places, unplug their instruments and criticize foreign policy.

Rebelation – Minor Incident – This instrumental track takes it’s time and allows for so many solos; it might be my favorite cut on their whole cd.

Lord Mike’s Dirty Calypsonians – Rub My… – Classic Calypso tune- raised from the dead by this Chicago Revivalist group.

Ticklah/Victor Axelrod – Mi Sonsito – If you don’t have this cd- get it! A member of Easy Star All-Stars and many other dubby projects, Ticklah is Axelrod. But is the converse true?

The Slackers – Wanted Man – Vic and the guys cover the result of a Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan team-up.

Kingston Kitchen (Dr. Ring-Ding) – St. James Infirmary Blues – Another classic cover, with the Doctor taking on a very Tom Waits style voice.

The Pietasters – G to F – One of the best songs of last year. Great album great song.

The Toasters – Run Rudy Run Redux – I talk a lot of shit about the silly side of ska. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have a huge soft spot for cheezy spy-style ska. Run Rudy Run was on the second ska album I ever owned and this reworking of the classic Toasters track is really fun.

As I state on the show, this will be the last episode of the Cut the Chit Chat series. However, it is not the end for Ska Blah Blah. Expect a new interview series in January, and the blog will continue throughout. So keep your subscriptions active and you won’t miss a thing.

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Comments (3) Nov 13 2007