black queer woman-fronted rock band dakota jones shares bold ep

There’s a simmering intensity to Dakota Jones’ latest EP, the appropriately titled Pt. 3. Throwback blues grooves anchor tracks like “Have Mercy,” while singer Tristan Carter-Jones’ voice hints at explosion. The band has a timeless classic rock sound that revels in lean riffs and raw emotion. On the EP’s centerpiece “Beat Back Bones” Carter-Jones stretches her voice to its heights and the outcome is revelatory. It’s the kind of larger-than-life song that demands a larger-than-life stage.

Tristan Carter-Jones explains the band’s revolutionary posture, telling us “I’m a Black, queer woman expressing my thoughts and my love, and some folks still find that to be a transgressive act in and of itself. I work to fight that idea. I’m also a Black, queer woman- fronting three straight white men- in full control of our band’s message. I write a lot about my sexuality and the ways in which I express it – songs about rough sex and masturbation bounce back and forth between songs about the pain of love, good love, hangovers, self medication.”

Photo by Alexandra Johnson Photography

take the trip of a lifetime with psychedelic-blues duo mescalines’ ‘brazilian voodoo exportation’

The latest from Brazilian psych-blues duo Mescalines isn’t an album as much as it’s a long rambling walk through unfamiliar terrain. Their instrumental jams revel in open spaces, taking circuitous routes before evaporating.

The interplay between drummer Mario Onofre and guitarist Rubens is easy and open, rarely rising to tension but always full of interesting twists and turns. Highlights like “Samba de Essauouira” and “Homem Chuva” highlight a lowkey symbiosis, while the band is never better than when they focus on painting vivid sonic landscapes like the chilled out standout “Diaspora” and the twinkling stars of “Travesseiro de Nuvens.”

Brazillian Voodoo Exportation is an album you can get lost in. Like the best adventures, you come out the other side a little different than how you went in. It’s out now from Quadrado Mágico.

video premiere: celebrate black resilience with mississippi bluesman cedric burnside’s “we made it”

“Big ups to the Burnside family,” Cedric shouts out at the top of the video for his new single “We Made It.” The grandson of the influential but often overlooked electric bluesman R.L. Burnside, family has always been a source of strength. “I grew up very poor,” Cedric told us, “We hauled water for years. That’s what made me who I am today and I don’t take nothing for granted. My whole life was a struggle but as we got better playing music and lived a little bit better, I never forgot where I came from.”

“We Made It” pays tribute to his family’s past, while looking towards the future. The song is rooted by a deceptively simple finger picked guitar line with a decidedly modern energy. Burnside sings a song about surviving poverty and the struggle of growing up with nothing. It’s a song about strength, resilience, and hope that shows there’s a lot of life left in the classic country blues sound.

Cedric Burnside’s latest full length Benton Country Relic drops September 14 on Single Lock Records. You can pre-order it here.

Banner photo by Abraham Rowe

fuck la migra! the latest afropunk mixtape is a declaration of immigrant rights

The truth is that immigration law has always been about white supremacy. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 on down to the founding of ICE in 2003, these are explicitly racist laws designed to preserve a racist power structure, and they were always headed here: internment camps to imprison immigrant children and punish families for seeking a better life. We stand with refugees and immigrants the world over to demand an end to racist immigration laws. Close the camps. Reunite the families. Fuck la migra.

01. Intro: Abolish ICE (June 2018)
02. Samurai Shotgun – The Blast
03. Ebony Bones – No Black In The Union Jack
04. Fantastic Negrito – Plastic Hamburgers
05. Denzel Himself – Thrasher
06. Interlude: Rep. Maxine Waters (June 2018)
07. Mereba – Black Truck
08. G Matthews – Choices!
09. Emicida & Ibeyi – Hacia El Amor
10. Harville – Spill
11. Curtis Harding – It’s Not Over
12. Rest Ashore – Concussion
13. Interlude: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (June 2018)
14. Deathgrips – Black Paint
15. Joji Abot – Gods Among Men
16. Interude: Leah, 12 Year-Old Speech (June 2018)
17. Marci Phonix – Liberties

a retro-afrofuturist tribute to sun ra: rock and soul act barrence whitfield and the savages

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages’ latest record Soul Flowers of Titan is like travelling back in time to imagine the future. It’s a raw and raucus work of Afro-retrofuturism inspired half by the imagery of Sun Ra and half by the rock and soul coming out of the middle of the country in the 50s and 60s. The music would be at home on an early Stax or Chess record, but it’s a straight up trip to the stars in homemade rocket ship.

Over lean throwback blues and soul riffs, Whitfield shouts out message of love both cosmic and terrestrial. Highlights like “Let’s Go to Mars” and “Sunshine Don’t Make the Sun” update the hot rod era for the 24th century. Who needs the open roads of “Rocket 88” when you have the open skies and an actual rocket? Soul Flowers of Titan revels in the absurdity of its concept while turning in 36 minutes of retro soul classics. Like Sun Ra himself, it’s just weird enough to work but doesn’t get in its own way. At the end of the day, what matters is the hooks and the energy, and Whitfield’s got both.


the pedal steel has new life breathed into it on the gospel-inflected robert randolph track, ‘got soul’

The pedal steel guitar may not get a lot of love these days outside of country music, but one run from gospel prodigy Robert Randolph and it’s clear that needs to change. There are no treacly anonymously penned Nashville ballads here; this is pure soul and blues straight from the tap.

Robert Randolph had reportedly never heard secular music before he started playing outside the church, and on Got Soul he weaves the thread of blues, soul, R&B, and even country back into gospel. The band plays with impeccable chemistry, wisely trying to capture the energy of a late night jam session, rather than distilling their sound down to studio perfection. This is especially evident on the false endings and segues of the two part opener “Got Soul” and “She Got Soul.” It’s as if right before the finished the song, they realized there was still gas in the tank for one more riff.

Given that the band has spent the better part of the past 15 years on the road opening for basically everyone in the blues, soul, and jam scenes, it’s no surprise that they shine brightest when their interplay is pushed to the front. The instrumental “Travelin’ Cheeba Man” finds Randolph and co trading impossible riffs, creating the rare instrumental track that’s more than just a showcase for some technical chops (though it’s all that and more too). Surprisingly, it’s the solo “Heaven’s Calling” where Randolph goes back to his Sacred Steel roots that stands out most. Laid bare, you can hear every slide and pick; every nuance and hint to the performance. Where Randolph’s fingers usually summon fireworks, here they’re a river. The line between the sacred and secular vanishes and we’re just left with rawness.

Stream the whole thing below:

adia victoria turns blues staples into a biting indictment on her epic new ‘baby blues ep’

Since dropping her debut single “Stuck In The South,” Aida Victoria has been captivating ears with her signature gothic take on classic blues. On her latest Baby Blues EP, Victoria pay back the blues and country luminaries that inspired her. Taking 3 songs from Robert Johnson, Victoria Spivey, and Lee Hazlewood, Adia Victoria teases out threads she brings to her own songs. Through the murk and washes of feedback, her inimitable cry breathes new life into songs that have transcended time. The band turns up the noise into an ominous gloom, giving space to chilling lines like “I’m going to beat my woman / Until I get satisfied.” Robert Johnson may have sold his soul for guitar skills, but Adia Victoria lays evil bare.

Nowhere is that more present on the album’s centerpiece, her interpretation of Victoria Spivey’s “Evil Hearted Me.” The song let’s Adia Victoria stretch her gift for storytelling; snapping in and out of focus, letting the noise arc and burst with the song. Her impressive backing band keep the songs anchored, letting melody give way to noise and back again. On “Ugly Brown,” Victoria repurposes country icon Lee Hazlewood’s song of loneliness into a biting indictment of racism in the music industry. Lines like “Nobody wants me in this town / I won’t swim in the river and that’s a fact / Cause every time I come out you’re pushing me back / And you call me Ugly Brown” carry far more weight in Adia Victoria’s voice than the white oil tycoon scion who wrote them. The song ends with one of Victoria’s original poems, shining like a beacon through the grime of droning distorted guitars. There is hope here, but you have to dig to find it.

premiere: desert punk/blues band songhoy blues drop video for news single “yersi yada” + q&a

Songhoy Blues were born in an act of resistance, so it’s fitting their new record would take the name Résistance. After being forced from their homes in Timbuktu when Sharia law was imposed and secular music was banned in northern Mali, the quartet formed in Mali’s capital Bamako.

Their latest record builds on the sounds they explored in Music In Exile; a mixture of Songhai rhythms and blues and rock sounds. It mixes it up with contributions from Iggy Pop, grime MC Elf Boy, and violinist William Harvey. Lyrically, the album takes a more directly political edge, poignantly with new single “Yersi Yada” (which means “We Do Not Agree”). The song rides a buoyant beat and raucous horn section to take on those who use religion as a tool of oppression. The song’s energy masks a radical defiance; it’s a powerful message that in the face of cruelty and oppression, simply being joyful is a form of rebellion. The video opens with a reminder that 65.6 million people have been displaced by conflict and persecution before showcasing the faces of refugees from all over the world. “Yersi Yada” is exactly what the world needs right now.

We recently got a chance to speak with band leader Aliou Touré.

Did you know each other before coming to Bamako?

We actually met while at university in Bamako a few years before the band started. After we finished studying we all went back to our homes in the North of Mali; myself and Oumar to Gao and Garba to Timbuktu. Then when the trouble started in the North and we had to come back to Bamako for safety we re-connected and knew we had to play together straight away. We arrived back in Bamako and a few days later we were playing at a wedding together. Our drummer Nat is from Bamako and joined a little later.

Growing up, what music were you listening to?

We listened to a lot of different music, I guess because we were really the first generation to have the luxury of the internet to discover music from beyond Mali. Our first love was always Malian traditional music, the music of our culture. But apart from that it was a complete variety. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin. Bob Marley is a big hero for me. And our drummer Nat loves Red Hot Chilli Peppers. But we listened to everything: hip-hop, reggae, R&B, blues, rock.

Were you already fans of Iggy Pop before the collaboration? How did that come about?

In all honesty we didn’t really know Iggy Pop until we were looking at who could collaborate on the album. But he’d played us a few times on his radio show in the UK, so we knew he liked our music. Then when we were actually introduced to his music and watched the way he performs, we knew he was someone we wanted to work with. Luckily for us he felt the same way.

What are the Songhai music traditions you try to bring out in your music?

Songhai traditions will always be at the centre of our music because it’s what we grew up listening to most. I think the main things are the rhythms and structure. With the way music was played traditionally for us, songs would last for hours with these cyclical melodies that just looped and looped. Hopefully that comes through in the way we play now; we just wanted to find a way to be more direct.

How did exile change your perspective on music?

I think it made us appreciate how important music was for us. As soon as the music ban started in the North of Mali we knew we had to get out, we just couldn’t live without it. Then once we were safe in Bamako it became our way of protesting. It was just the only way we knew to get across a message of hope and reconciliation to as many people as possible.

Were there, or are there, things you worried about saying in songs? Or were there things you could say in songs that you felt like you couldn’t say in conversation?

I think on Music in Exile, the lyrics were mainly positive, they were messages of encouragement to our peers who were despondent and felt hopeless. It might seem like we were born out of a controversial situation, but the reality was, there was so much negativity at the time, we just wanted to be the ones to say something positive and bring a message of hope. With our new album, Résistance, I think that’s changed a bit. We never thought we would have the global audience that we’ve developed and with that it feels like there’s more of a responsibility to speak out against the things that we see that are wrong.

What responsibilities to artists have to use their art to resist and speak out about injustice?

In Mali in particular I think there’s a responsibility as a musician to talk about the things that are happening around you. So much is misconstrued or simply ignored by the news and literacy levels aren’t absolute so not everyone reads the newspaper. Music is a universal language, though, so even if you don’t watch or read the news you can find out about what’s going on through song. Music in a broader sense has always been about Resistance though. Most of the great social shifts in society over the last century have been soundtracked by the music of the time, whether that’s jazz, rock, hip-hop or house music. Great artists like Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and even today with Kendrick Lemar – they all had a sense of social responsibility. They all knew they had a platform to inspire change, and they did in many cases.

What kind of response has your music gotten in Mali? Is it different in the North than in Bamako?

Outside of Bamako we haven’t really played in Mali. While things are quieter and safer now, it still wouldn’t be safe to play a full concert in the North. So we don’t really know how our music will be received when we do. In Bamako, though, the best thing about playing our music is in seeing people from different backgrounds all enjoying it. Concerts are where you see people from the North and South coming together to share an appreciation for music.

What role do you think art has in healing Mali?

Art in general definitely has a big role to play in healing Mali. Music for one has the power to bring people together from different backgrounds – it’s why we started this band in the first place. We wanted to spread a positive message to people from the North and South and hopefully if people can come together over something as primal as music, they can begin to strengthen ties between those different communities.

What do you hope your music will accomplish outside of Mali?

To promote a positive picture of Mali and West Africa in general. That’s partly why we were so happy with the lyrics Iggy wrote for Sahara – they’re really simple but as one of the only english lines on the album we really hoped he’d be able to convey the simple message that we want to spread. The images that people see of West Africa in the news are seldom positive, war, famine, violence, that’s all people see. We wanted to show that that’s only a very small part of the picture and that there’s so much more to Mali than that. That’s why in the Bamako video we really wanted to transport people to Bamako – despite the fact that three different directors said no when we came to them with the idea – we wanted to show that it’s the same as any other place in a lot of ways, even down to a Saturday night out with friends…

What else do you have coming up that you want people to know about?

The rest of the year is just touring and more touring. We’ll be in North America again from 28th September for a big tour and then it’s back to Europe for more touring there! So we’ll see you on the road I guess!

Upcoming Tour Dates:
September 28 Washington, DC U Street Music Hall
September 29 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
September 30 Boston, MA City Winery
October 1 Montreal, QC L’Astral
October 3 Toronto, ON The Mod Club
October 5 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
October 6 Madison, WI University of Wisconsin-Madison: The Sett
October 7 Minneapolis, MN Cedar Cultural Center
October 10 Nashville, TN The Basement East
October 11 Atlanta, GA City Winery Atlanta
October 12 Oxford, MS Proud Larry’s
October 13 New Orleans, LA Tipitina’s Uptown
October 13-15 Austin, TX Austin City Limits
October 18 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
October 19 Los Angeles, CA Teragram Ballroom
October 20 San Francisco, CA Bimbo’s 365 Club
October 24 Eugene, OR WOW Hall
October 25 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
October 26 Seattle, WA The Crocodile
October 27 Vancouver, BC The Biltmore

garage-blues duo the london souls funk it up with con brio for ‘split 7″‘

One of my favorite things in all of music is when bands from totally different ends of the musical spectrum team up to show some mutual appreciation. Sometimes this can have disastrous results (sigh, Lulu), but when it works, it’s just fucking fantastic. That’s how you end up with a split 7” featuring the vintage garage blues of The London Souls and the funk and R&B of Con Brio.

Their two contributions don’t carry a common theme, and the 7” mostly stems from London Souls’ Chris St. Hilaire and Con Brio’s bassist Jonathan Kirchner having grown up together. But the two tracks both kill in their own ways. And both owe an uncertain debt to the music coming out of Memphis in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The London Soul’s “Certain Appeal” is a stripped down shuffle with a boogie-woogie piano taking on a world oversaturated with constant advertising and reality TV. Con Brio’s “All Over Me” is a little more next-wave but those horn licks sound straight out of that Stax records dirty R&B. Either side of the 7” is going to get your blood pumping. And look, I make it a policy not to trust anyone who only likes one kind of music. So the only question is: which side do you spin first?

alabama shakes are coming to a city near you to rock tf out

Good news for fans of Blues-Rock band Alabama Shakes, the group recently announced additional dates for their current tour, adding stops in Albany, NY, Shelburne, VT, Boston, MA, and Portland, ME, this summer. ‘Shakes fans in the rest of the country will still have a chance to catch them this week at two stops in Louisiana, in Pasadena on June 24 at Arroyo Seco Weekend and at the Sloss Music & Arts Festival in Birmingham, AL on July 16.

Singer Emily King will be opening for Alabama Shakes on those Northeast tour dates. See when they stop in your town and get tickets down below.

Apr 27— Shreveport Municipal Auditorium Shreveport, LA
Apr 29 — New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival New Orleans
Jun 24 — Arroyo Seco Weekend Pasadena, CA
Jul 16 — Sloss Music & Arts Festival Birmingham, AL
August 1st – Albany, NY – Palace Theatre
August 2nd – Shelburne, VT – The Green At Shelburne Museum
August 4th – Boston, MA – Blue Hills Bank Pavillion
August 5th – Portland, ME – Thompson’s Point

Ticket info

Photo credit: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage