Deap Vally’s Femijism has quickly become one of my favorite and most played albums of all time. Their fierce, intelligent rock would’ve fit perfectly in the early 90s Riot Grrrl/Grunge era, but it also absolutely relevant now. The standout track “Smile More” is my new theme song. Other tracks of note are “Royal Jelly” and “Post Funk,” but the whole album is magnificent.
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 Muruch.com 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.
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”…
California duo Fake Furs call their sound “Velvet Rock” and I suppose that’s an accurate description. Their high energy new single, “The Wolves Are Coming,” reminds me of all the “The” garage rock bands (The Vines, The Strokes, etc.) we loved in the early aughts.
“Garden Arm” by Heavy Hearts is such a perfect rock song, I feel righteous indignation that it isn’t everywhere. It’s the first single from the Canadian band’s new Somewhere a While Go EP, which will be released on Feb. 3rd by Niagara indie label Indoor Shoes. Listen and download the free mp3 below…