Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland (Album Review, Videos & Full Album Stream)

Fantastic Negrito’s debut full-length album, The Last Days of Oakland, churns classic blues, soul, and funk with modern garage rock like somebody spun Lead Belly, Buddy Guy, Otis Redding, and Black Joe Lewis records in a blender.

Fantastic Negrito, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Xavier Dphrepaulezz, first caught my attention jammin’ with Jamal in a club on Fox’s Empire. At the time they only had a couple of EPs out, so I was very excited for this album’s release. It more than lives up to the anticipation.

The entire album is a nonstop brilliant and bombastic rumination on injustice and inequality of both social and economic natures. My personal favorite tracks…

“Working Poor” has a fiercely catchy guitar riff and twisted refrain of Little Richard’s “Keep on Knockin'” with lyrics about the working class’ struggle to survive despite working as hard as we possibly can.

When I was curating for RAINN, I tried and failed to arrange a worthy cover of the traditional Appalachian folk song “In the Pines” (aka “Black Girl” aka Lead Belly/Nirvana’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”), so my heart just about exploded when I saw the song title on The Last Days of Oakland‘s tracklist.

Fantastic Negrito not only delivers a magnificently revamped, reverberating rendition of “In the Pines,” they also composed a new, gut-punch verse envisioning the “Black Girl” as the single mother of a son shot by police. It is the most perfect cover, beyond anything I could have imagined.

photo credit: Robbie Welsh

Other highlights are “Hump Through the Winter,” which follows the same theme as “Working Poor,” “Rant on Rushmore,” and the song they jammed with Jamal, “Lost in a Crowd”…

Fantastic Negrito Official Site

Buy @ Amazon

Anna & Elizabeth: New Album

By: Brn

I have loved the purity of mountain music since seeing the movie Songcatcher. Anna & Elizabeth carry on the tradition and I am thrilled with the exposure they’ve gotten this year. You can read about their 2015 album on No Depression, listen to their Folk Alley Session, watch or download their recent Tiny Desk Concert and purchase their album at Free Dirt Records. Here’s the video for their song “Long Black Train”…

Goodnight Texas: A Long Life of Living

Listening to Goodnight Texas’ brilliant forthcoming debut, A Long Life of Living, for the first time was much like when I first heard The Felice Brothers’ debut. I kept thinking: who is this band and how can anyone make an entire album of music this good? Song after song, I would think I’d heard the best of the album only to be even more amazed by the next track. This is music for any band to aspire to and for any music fan to get very excited about.

I worked in her fields and under her trees
I picked all her cotton, it stung me like bees
I shoveled her dirt when no one else would
I gave her way more than I ever should
And I’m still here with nothing whatsoever
But I’m going to work on Maggie’s Farm forever

Goodnight Texas are San Francisco’s Avi Vinocur (formerly of The Stone Foxes) and North Carolina’s Patrick Dyer Wolf. They call A Long Life of Living their “transcontinental garage Appalachian collaboration.” Whatever genre label you slap on it, this is storytelling at its finest.

The opener “I’m Going to Work on Maggie’s Farm Forever” is an exquisite, lush, classic country-influenced folk song. It sounds like Springsteen covering Simon & Garfunkel, it’s that good. You can watch the song’s video below.

“Submarine” is a fiery, hard plucked acoustic ballad.

“Old St. John” is pure, deliciously eerie folk. The song exposes the hypocrisy of a so-called holy man with it’s foreboding refrain “haven’t you ever been lied to?

“Jesse Got Trapped in a Coal Mine” is a haunting, mesmeric Appalachian folk narrative set in a West Virginian coal mine. If the lyric “my love is somewhere in that mountain” doesn’t break your heart, I question whether you really have one. You can download this gorgeous song by entering your email address below or simply stream it.

Just when you think it can’t get any better, “The Railroad” rumbles in on a freight train of bluesy guitar, clap-and-stomp percussion and chilling chain gang harmony.

A Long Life of Living will be released on October 2nd and is sure to be on my best of the year list in December.

Buy @ Amazon (Available in October)

Goodnight Texas Official Site