South by Nortec

Although electronic music has become well known, the field is usually packed with artists from well known Western countries while artists emerging from lesser known scenes bang out great material at copious rates while being unknown to audiences that could really value their music. Tijuana’s Nortec Collective is one such act and my focus here because their sound has a keen potential. I may be biased, but I tend to believe in underlying meaning even if it is manufactured.

My point that I am laboriously moving toward is that in my curious travels in this big world, a chance encounter brought me into contact with one of the members of a group he called the Nortec Collective. It was ’02, I had been wandering the Western side of the European continent and found myself in Madrid in early spring. It just happened that at the hostel I was staying at there was this Mexican guy named Roberto (though I’m uncertain through the haze of time) whom I had befriended in my solitary adventure.

When traveling alone, friendships form easily (and dissolve as well), histories are invented and realities inverted in the lens of the tale told. So everything is what it is…until you need to depend on something…but that’s another tale. This cat was cool and though I did not know him very long, I and some others did band together one day to explore the city however. I can’t remember what I saw that day other than that I had talked the entire time about music with Roberto. Though I wish I could remember the conversation I do still have the cd he gave me which turned out to be excellent and unlike anything I ave ever heard, like marching band music reorganized into an electro-funk jam, music to be resplendent in, brash and brassy it was some excellent stuff, like the cats were smoking something else in those tubas, locked into beats I have never encountered again….

Until I started running into their records years later…they had gotten even better. I too was happy to have been there early and imagined myself an original fan…their music was mine in a way that discovering an artist early seems to do. And the only thing better than being early is to share that… check these videos out and decide for yourself….

Nortec Collective is set to release Bostich + Fussible | Tijuana Sound Machine May 6 via Nacional. This album is their follow-up to the critically acclaimed and industry lauded Tijuana Sessions, Vol. 3, which crossed over onto CMJ’s Radio 200 as well as charted on Triple A and New World. Although Tijuana Sessions, Vol. 3 relied more heavily on vocoders, synths and drum machines, Tijuana Sound Machine looks to bridge the gap between acoustics and electronics. The group scored songs in the HBO series Big Love and NBC’s Friday Night Lights, along with movies Fast Food Nation and Babel, and they’ve even landed in the video games FIFA Scocer and FIFA Street 2.


Guru Amrit


Testa Rosa on This Week’s 414 Music

Testa Rosa

Tune into this Friday’s 414 Music at 5:30pm with Scott Mullins. He will have Testa Rosa live in our studios.

In the marvelously abundant world of music blogs, it is rare occasion when a new artist that is worthwhile has yet to be exposed. I have found over the years that there remains thousands of writers like myself who find satisfaction in exposing these artists to a broader audience, recognizing quality through a means of personal taste and quality musicianship. When I first listened to Testa Rosa, I was almost positive that other music blogs were already buzzing with excitement over the trio from Milwaukee. Not only does the music of Testa Rosa allow for a remarkably delightful experience, but their stylistic fervor is an exceptional blending of various styles that results in a sound all too rich to be ignored. From 60s Motown to synth-infused post-punk, Testa Rosa has created an experience that no other band will even come close to rivaling this year. Lead singer/songwriter Betty Blexrud-Strigens is an absolute driving force; a talent of a rare caliber to behold. -From Obscure Sound

Testa Rosa – Ollie & Delilah

Kuduro Bom

Once upon a time I had the opportunity to travel through Western Europe, along the way I found myself inexplicably drawn to the farthest Western shore. Portugal in particular. Can’t really say why other than I’d heard it was cool and a bit out of the mainstream for Europe in addition to being a bit cheaper to live which was the clincher for me and my modest budget. Lisbon, or Lisboa as it is for those that live there, was where I went, where I found incredible music and scenes not seen.

In particular, I found strange, small African clubs with names that had too many consonants for me to pronounce, frequented by Angolans, Brazilians and Portuguese, and music that demanded you dance. Hot like tropics, the beat is like liquid Dancehall or drumline Soca, super uptempo with a very specific, but creative style to the dance. When you do the dance correctly it looks like you have no knees and more bones. The sound is called Kuduro.

The Kuduro sound is oddly electro with synthesized beats and a heavy rhythm. In many ways seems similar to Baile Funk from the favelas of Brasil in terms of style and synthesis of American Bass music and hip hop to an African rhythm. It makes sense since the style (both music and dance) originate from Angola, another of Portugal’s erstwhile colonies.

I could get deeper but enjoy the links. As far as artists to explore: Helder and Frederic Galliano are both at the forefront as well as the extremely hot Buraka Som Systema, who have been remixing for some of the hottest stars on the international scene. Here’s a video from the aforementioned Frederic Galliano…

and even better…

Enjoy, and if you have more music, blog me back.

Guru Amrit

Video Tuesday: Teenage Nasty


Hey all, time for something that I ran across the other day from a band that has…well not sure…but whatever it is it sounds good. They’re a group called The Teenagers, from Paris, they’re based in London at the moment and are on the insanely good label, Ed Banger Records.


Apparently, the Teenagers, three French non-teens with lots of black hair and Morrissey specs, are obsessed with sex, love, vodka, summer, puberty, Red Bull and ham rollz. Apparently they’re also gaining praise among critics and they write smart, dirty pop ditties laced with profanity as well as find the time to remix other artists, like the in vogue Simian Mobile Disco Unit. How good are they, you may ask, just listen…

or this “ode” to the ascendant star of Scarlett Johansson …


Guru Amrit

Body Worlds…See It!

I was blown away by the current Body Worlds exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. I don’t need to tell you what it’s all about. There’s been a slew of press coverage providing in-depth descriptions of the exhibit. Let me just say that it is one of the most fascinating, bizarre and thought provoking things I have ever seen.  It is also very humbling  and  brings you face to face with the mind boggling complexities, intricacies and frailties of these bodies of ours. Not to be missed.

Going back to 1956…Sort Of


Tune in this Friday at 5:30pm for 414 Music. Scott Mullins will have the band 1956 live in our studios. With their latest album Saboteur, 1956 have refined their sound, keeping their high energy roots intat but with a laid back swagger.

1956 – “Shake You”

My Top 5 Albums of 2007

With a tip of the hat to High Fidelity here are my Top 5 Albums of 2007

1. Jim Ford The Sound of Our Times – What happens when a white Southern musician takes his brand of mountain soul from the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky to Los Angeles and becomes a close friend and collaborator with Sly Stone in the late 60s? This Bear Family re-issue contains the results: the 1969 Harlan County album in it’s entirety and several other singles and previously unreleased gems. The long out of print Harlan County LP is considered by some to be the Holy Grail of Southern Country Soul. Talk about a band! The album was recorded with guitarist James Burton, drummer Jim Keltner and the always funky Dr. John. Ford’s friends and admirers included Sly Stone, Bobby Womack and Nick Lowe. Aretha Franklin, The Temptations and Bobbie Gentry recorded his songs. Killer!

2. Bettye LaVette The Scene Of The Crime – The long neglected Soul Queen is back with her second “re-discovery” album after the 2005 Joe Henry produced “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Pay”. This time she is backed by the ass kicking Drive By Truckers. Imagine Tina Turner fronting the Stones back in ’72. Well, that might be a stretch… but not much.

3. MofroCountry Ghetto – Socially and politically aware commentary immersed in a sanctifying bath of rhythm oil. Mofro brings the grit and the grease.

4. Paul CebarTomorrow Music For Now People – Cebar brings his r&b/rock/gospel hybrid into the 21st century with this extraordinarily well produced album that exudes an accomplished, confident soulfulness.

5. TinariwenAman Iman – Saharan buzz, crackle and drone from the celebrated toureg nomads. Low-fi out of nessecity not trendiness. This isn’t NPR safe “world music” for the Putumayo crowd. This is rough, gritty, politically charged rebel music with balls. Not for the faint hearted.