Chapter one of his story should be a movie. Growing up in Massachusetts, Xavier A. Dphrepaulezz (also known as Fantastic Negrito) was the eighth out of 15 children. When you hear him sing, you just know he spent a lot of life trying to be heard. After moving to Oakland, a crime-riddled adolescence gave way to young Xavier sneaking into music classes at UC-Berkeley. A few busted record deals later and terrible car crash led Xavier to give up music. However, with a voice like his, he could not stay away.
Two albums and two Grammys later, Xavier has found a way to record with the same intensity as his live show. "Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?" may be the perfect message for these cordoned-off times. While the talk shows have neatly adapted to being "home shows," Fantastic Negrito gave Stephen Colbert one of his most electrifying performances even as all the others were toned-down and introspective. That same level of energy fires his third album where tracks like the Gospel-Funk of "Chocolate Samurai" and "I'm So Happy (I Cry)" provide much-needed relief and a throwback to days (not so) gone by. "Have You Lost Your Mind Yet" is a warrior's cry to everyone who cannot embrace each other but can embrace this steaming blend of Gospel, Funk, Blues, R&B, Soul and Folk music.
Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (LP/CD)
(Cooking Vinyl/The Orchard)
Nashville Tears [LP/CD]
(Cooking Vinyl/The Orchard)
English dulcet singers and songwriters from the American South always go together so well. Like Dusty Springfield, Rumer is an interpreter of song. When she relaxes and settles into the lush backdrop, her versions of the East Texan Hugh Prestwood's songs like "The Fate of Fireflies" capture their universality. While she is no Trisha Yearwood, Rumer's ease with a song as hard to capture as the Emmy-winner "The Song Remembers When" is also well worth the price of admission. "Nashville Tears" serves as a great introduction to Prestwood's writing.
The Lemonade Stand [LP/CD]
Canadians continue to come on strong in Americana Country. Townes has a small, delicate voice but an unavoidable emotional connection. Given Jay Joyce's atmospheric production, Townes wrote these autobiographical songs to have a little more intimate pull. "The Way You Look Tonight (with Keelan Donovan)" is a huge potential hit with a neat chord change that refreshes the song's direction. While the massive "Somebody's Daughter" is modeled as the hit single, Townes is even at home in quieter textures ("When I Meet My Maker.") Given the right spin, Townes could be the next Maren Morris.
REISSUES OF THE WEEK
Claudio Simonetti & Goblin
Deep Red (Score)[LP/CD]
(Deep Red/Rustblade ITALY)
Say what you will about film scores, no other genre relies on them as heavily as Horror. The Giallo films of Italy in the Seventies and Eighties continue to garner respect and be seen as an influence of their American counterparts.
Three years after "The Exorcist" and before "Halloween," Claudio Simonetti's thrilling score for Dario Argento's first masterpiece "Deep Red" is both heavily thematic yet able to stand on its own. A mixture of the surreal and bitterly realistic, "Deep Red" evolves from three standard themes its chilling "Tubular Bells"-esque main title, its tense Prog Rock-ish reveals ("Deep Shadows") and its Rock-oriented chase passages. While the accolades tend to favor Argento's next film "Suspiria," "Deep Red" feels like the seminal Seventies Argento score. This new reissue adds a live set from Goblin playing it with film sounds and effects that cements its place as a huge influence on Slasher films coming from America in 1978 beginning with John Carpenter's direction and scoring on "Halloween."
Jerry Garcia & John Kahn
GarciaLive 14: January 27, 1986
As renowned as Captain Trips is with the Dead, his roots lie in Acoustic music. In Tom Wolfe's classic "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," Garcia shows up in Berkeley during Ken Kesey's more Beatnik years. You can imagine their gatherings at that time were far closer to this set that features Garcia on guitar and vocals, accompanied by bassist Kahn. The retro "hoedown" feeling carries you a long way as Garcia and Kahn run through Folk ("Goodnight Irene") and Blues ("Deep Elem Blues") classics.
However, those are mere bookends for the main course as Garcia and Kahn serve up enough classic Dead ("Friend of the Devil" "Dire Wolf" and a rousing "Ripple") with a pair of Dylan favorites ("Simple Twist of Fate" and a thrilling "When I Paint My Masterpiece.") If you are a Deadhead or merely "related" to one, this is one set that will make all parties happy just like Garcia likely did back before there were acid tests, buses traveling Furthur and Merry Pranksters.
Mik Davis is the record store manager at T-Bones Records & Café.