Ghanaian highlife artist Ata Kak was brought to light through ethnomusicologist Brian Shimkovitz’s Awesome Tapes From Africa blog when he posted the unstoppable “Daa Nyinaa.” Shimkovitz bought the Ata Kak tape more than a decade ago and finally found him living in Ghana. Only 50 copies of the original Obaa Sima tape were made, and though the original master DAT had disintegrated, Shimkovitz’s tape was used to reissue Obaa Sima. Details of Shimkovitz’s search for Ata Kak could likely fill a book (in fact, a documentary is being made), but it only serves to give the truly awesome Obaa Sima even more allure, as does the tape hiss from the transfer. Its seven tracks offer nothing but good times, a non-stop party that sounds removed from time, full of delightfully rinky-dink synths, instant-play beats and Ata Kak’s motormouth rap. The slightly off-time nature of the backups on “Agdaya,” the louder than necessary mix of the vocals—all things that could be construed as negative instead feel like happy accidents that make Obaa Sima sound so singular. One track flows into another across Obaa Sima, coming into centerpiece “Daa Nyinaa,” an Afro-house masterpiece of warehouse-party cool. But stick around for the slightly sinister “Yemmpa Aba” and head-bobbing vocal-less closer “Bome Nnwon,” which will have you replaying the entire album once its final handclap echoes into silence. When Ata Kak is on, you won’t want to listen to anything else. If you need me, I’ll be watching this video on repeat:
The year’s coming to a close, and it’s time to look ahead. There are already several sure-to-be great albums on the horizon. You can already preorder the ones below.
Out Jan. 13
Experimental pop auteur and Animal Collective member Panda Bear aka Noah Lennox is back with his fifth solo album and first in four years. Like his last album, Tomboy, it’s co-produced by Peter Kember, and it features two songs that have already been premiered, the woozy “Mr Noah” and mind-bending “Boys Latin,” for which you can watch the mesmerizing video below. “Mr Noah” has been already released on a four-song EP of the same name, which includes three more songs; those three extra songs will also be available on the deluxe editions of the album.
The Bay Area's own Wooden Shjips has been throwing down spacey psychedelic rock since 2006. The band has been on a steady rise to rock prominence and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Some of their early self-released 7" vinyl, such as Shrinking Moon For You, are hot items and can go for $50 online. That's of course, if you can get your hands on a copy.
For those of you not lucky enough to snag the rare vinyl don't fret! You can pre-order Wooden Shjips' lateset release, Back To Land (Thrill Jockey), via Amoeba.com. The new album is a follow up to 2011's West and is the band's first album produced outside of the Bay Area. Staying true to the band's aesthic, Back to Land boasts eight tracks of colorful fuzzy psychedelia, giving the listener what they want without being boring. It's business as usual and business is good! Back to Land out 11/12/13.
I, like many others, engaged in the cliche practice of going to the gym the day after New Year’s Day (which is reserved for hangovers) in order to “start the new year right” and “get on the right track.” During this delusional first couple of weeks — or if you decide to actually stay with an active workout routine (good for you!) — you’ll need some tunes to get you through the slow crawl back to fitness. Here are some of my favorite workout jamz, most of which you can download at Amoeba.com.
The only Prodigy song I ever liked. Its misogynistic overtone is unfortunate, even with the “shocking” video they used to try to counter that (which I think made it worse), but its mid-’90s MTV “Amp”-era beats surprisingly hold up.
Amoeba.com’s growing free downloads section had a ton of great stuff this year. Here are some highlights.
Sufjan Stevens – “Justice Delivers Its Death”
This delicate ballad comes from Sufjan Stevens’ latest Christmas opus, Silver & Gold, Songs for Christmas, though its delicate beauty would fit on any of Stevens’ early, more acoustic releases.
Pissed Jeans – “Bathroom Laughter”
Pennsylvania punks Pissed Jeans’ latest album, Honeys, is due Feb. 12 on Sub Pop. The first taste from the album is a ferocious blast, with singer Matt Korvette scream-talking lyrics quickly as the band bashes out two-and-a-half minutes of hardcore bliss.