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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

next stop soweto

We received the much-blogged new Vampire Weekend record in our mailbox the other day, and made it about 2.5 tracks in before we realized we'd always rather listen to the real thing, in the form of Strut's amazing new compilation of rare lost gems deftly culled from the '60s + '70s South African "township jive sound." Vibrant, celebratory jams without a hint of affectation, which the label says go "far beyond the accepted township jive template into fusions with jazz, gospel, rumba, funk and traditional mining songs, all under-pinned by a gritty, uncompromising edge." NEXT STOP SOWETO is out February 16 on Strut. Here's the comp's glorious opening track:

Melotone Sisters with Amaqola Band :: I Sivenoe


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Blogger Kenny Bloggins said...

With much respect to GvsB, I'm curious why blogs that loved VW are now hating on them. I mean, that's fine with me, I've hated on 'em since Q4 of 07, but I'm just really curious. You all are definitely not the only ones.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

well, i never loved VW or even liked them (at all), but i don't know if/why other blogs would do that

12:50 PM  
Blogger Stark said...

Can't wait to hear more from this. Well played. I'm addicted to the Soweto tunes. The Indestructible Beat of Soweto series is another gem.

1:08 PM  
Blogger marathonpacks said...

"Without a hint of affect?" WHAT DOES THAT MEAN

2:21 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

should've gone with affectation (fixed, thanks professor), but you know exactly what it means: vamps weekend are posers

2:37 PM  
Blogger JM said...

I dig Vampire Weekend. I am not sure I get the backlash on them. It is simply great pop music. And if the African influence on VW's music is enough to dissuade somebody from listening to it because it is not authentic in some way, I think that is lame. Seriously, you might as well not listen to some of these old African comps that are reissued because of the American rock influence on that music. Everything has an influence, period. But that Soweto comp does sound great.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous shel said...

I don't even understand the point of mentioning Vampire Weekend... just raise props for next stop soweto.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

amazing song

2:44 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

yeah i don't know why VW rubs me the wrong way. just feels inauthentic to me.

as far as mentioning them at all, it seemed relevant in this particular case, since they've called their own sound "upper west side soweto"

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Creekside said...

Are the Talking Heads inauthentic? What about the Dirty Projectors and their polyphonic vocals on 'Remade Horizon' or the kora on 'Ascending Melody?' On one level it makes sense that musicians would return to the roots of American music to re-energize pop. On another level, it reeks of appropriation. I just wish these bands would give credit to their influences so more people would discover how fantastic African music is. As much as I dislike VW, I have to give them credit for spreading the African gospel, if distastefully.

11:08 PM  
Blogger ariel.socarras said...

this whole comment thread is making me sleepy

11:48 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I'm just baffled how much good music came out of east Africa in the 60's/70's that took 40+ years to find. God bless the internet and Strut, Now Again, etc.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Carlos D said...

Creekside is pretending to not like Vampire Weekend so his point about them actually being authentic seems more valid.

We all have bands that we like or dislike for reasons that can't be explained very well. You can only say 'give it another shot' enough times before you have to admit that you just don't like Pavement or whatever.

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Kenny Bloggins said...

Well, for me, my issue with VW is not just with appropriating Africa music, as lots of bands do that. It's the really lame juxtaposition of using influences from rather poor countries, then placing lyrics on top about sipping drinks on yachts or whatever, then reinforce said ideas in interviews extolling the virtues of prepiness. How is that cool? I don't get it. Seems overtly insensitive to me.

Moreover, groups like The Dirty Projectors and the Talking Heads earned their hype over years of recording and touring, whereas VW strikes me as a PR experiment. If you have the money to throw down $4000 a month on a Press Here PR campaign or whatever and have those folks pull favors in the publications and bigger music sites, you get that major boost.

While these ideas are outside just the music, no one can say that you don't associate thoughts, ideas, events, what-have-you while listening to something. It's not how our brains work, and you'd be naive to think otherwise.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly I couldn't be happier about the VW backlash as I've hated them from the get-go. Love the Soweto track!

5:21 PM  
Blogger Joe M said...

Kenny - Would you feel better if VW sang about being poor and from the slums?? They write songs about what they know and where the came from. Which happens to be middle/upper class I guess. And the reason people give for not liking them because they they copy other people's music is lamer than lame. If that is your argument then you should stop listening to all music. All music is influenced from other music. And I think the backlash is mostly a result of them becoming so popular. Some people are just too cool to listen to popular music. Only bands others have not heard of yet....and as soon as they are the slightest bit popular...these people are done.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

If you like this comp, check out the African Renaissance sets, particularly the Zulu and Ndebele ones. They're collections from the SABC archives from the 50s-80s. Some fantastic music on there. Amaqola is on the Zulu one, actually.

They're imports but places like Amazon Market place have them for not to bad prices.

2:40 AM  

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