What makes Andersson’s music so potent is that she has by now been living in New Orleans longer than she lived in her native country. She has absorbed both environments and is coming out swinging here. It’s a beautiful piece of work.
With its unconventional use of brass band and snare drum, “What Comes Next” quickly announces its boundary-free musical identity, blending traditional New Orleans sounds with an outlier sensibility that attentive listeners may just be able to link to Andersson’s home country of Sweden. Not that Sweden–with arguably the richest and most significant rock’n’roll history of any non-English-speaking country—has just one way of doing rock’n’roll. But from the outside looking in, one can hear generalized ideas and sensibilities that feel musically Swedish. What makes Andersson’s music so potent is that she has by now been living in New Orleans longer than she lived in her native country. She has absorbed both environments and is coming out swinging here. It’s a beautiful piece of work.
I love how she works the martial drum work into a song that glides and swings so smoothly. I love the eccentric punctuation provided by the loose/tight horn section (very NOLA). And I love the swaying hook of the romantic chorus, which sounds like nothing the introduction or the verse of this song has prepared us for, musically, and yet once heard, it’s exactly where we should be. Peter Moren, of Peter Bjorn and John, provides some multi-faceted backing vocals here, often of the fetching octave-harmony variety.
Andresson has been in New Orleans since 1991, when, at 18, she moved there to be with guitarist Anders Osborne both musically and personally. To date she is probably best known for the one-woman-band video she made for her song “Na Na Na,” which to me better shows off her appealing personality than her songwriting. You can add to the more than one million views it’s gotten if you haven’t already, below. (Note that she made the video for potential venues, so they would know what to expect from her loop-oriented performances. She was not trying to go viral.) “What Comes Next” is the first available song from Andersson’s forthcoming album, Street Parade, arriving in April on the New Orleans-based Basin Street Records.
Marianne Faithfull is 64 years old but I’m pretty sure that equates to, oh, at least 128 years in most people’s lives. Let’s just say she’s been through a lot, and a lot of it self-inflicted. Her scarred and ragged and potent voice tells a good part of the story, independent of what it’s actually saying.
Marianne Faithfull is 64 years old but I’m pretty sure that equates to, oh, at least 128 years in most people’s lives. Let’s just say she’s been through a lot, and a lot of it self-inflicted. Her scarred and persuasive voice tells a good part of the story, independent of what it’s actually saying.
For her new album she took her voice, and the rest of her, down to New Orleans, at the suggestion of producer Hal Willner, a frequent collaborator. The result is something at once familiar—no matter what she does, she sounds like herself and no one else—and a little bit anomalous. The goal was not to make a New Orleans record per se, but the local musicians and the authentic Bywater recording studio have surely added a vibe that Faithfull has not accessed previously. Check out here how “Why Did We Have To Part” manages its effortless shift in tone: what begins like a stately bit of British folk-rock soon enough settles into a song with a subtly slinky groove, thanks to bassist George Parker Jr. (listen to how he finds his own spaces to play in) and drummer Carlo Nuccio, not to mention the deft organ flourishes of none other than Bob Andrews, once a member of Graham Parker’s band the Rumour, but a NOLA resident since 1992.
And clearly the indomitable Ms. Faithfull has the voice for all of it. I’ll admit that I can’t quite shake the image of her as the Empress Maria Teresa in the film Marie Antoinette, but it’s true, there’s something in Faithfull’s accumulated history of decadence and despair that has, over time, lent her an aristocratic air. Listen to how she enunciates “What would I do without your love?” (1:38)—this is a woman who may have experienced immeasurable loss in life but she holds resolutely onto her dignity. Note that while this new album is, as is usual for her, primarily a covers album, “Why Did We Have To Part” is one of the four songs (out of 13) that Faithfull co-wrote.
The album, entitled Horses and High Heels, was released earlier this year in Europe, and is slated for a U.S. release on Naïve Records in late June.
The big party may be over down there—it’s Ash Wednesday now, after all—but in many real ways, the party never quite ends in that strange, troubled, and magical place. So here’s a bit of post-Mardi Gras stomp, courtesy of the forthcoming Rebirth Brass Band album.
So if you haven’t ever really felt connected to classic New Orleans music, there are only two reasons for this: 1) you’ve never been to New Orleans; or, 2) you’ve never watched Treme. I know, because it wasn’t long ago I qualified for both reasons. But no longer—I’ve been and I’ve watched. The music now sparkles and shimmies in a new way; it fires up my feet and my heart.
The big party may be over down there—it’s Ash Wednesday now, after all—but in many real ways, the party never quite ends in that strange, troubled, and magical place. So here’s a bit of post-Mardi Gras stomp, courtesy of the forthcoming Rebirth Brass Band album. What I love now, so much, about this music is how simultaneously casual and disciplined it is. But for the sax solo in the middle, it’s all ensemble work, and note the happy-hearted looseness about the playing, the way each melody line, enforced by the group playing it, continually frays around the edges by the sloppy-tight way the individual instruments blend together. This is even true with the vocals, which themselves become another instrument in the blend, half-melodic and half-percussive. Note too how the beat is at once strong and pliable—you can feel it even when the instruments are playing everywhere but the beat. Take the trumpets’ signature moment, that slinky I-V-IV-VI melody we hear first at 0:30: the emphatic blasts on the V and VI notes come entirely off the beat, yet this is exactly what makes you want to move your body.
Founded in 1982, Rebirth remains a fixture on the NOLA music scene, and continues to be notable and relevant for its signature blend of classic New Orleans brass band music with funk and soul and bop and hip-hop. “Do It Again” is from the album Rebirth of New Orleans, due for release next month on Basin Street Records. MP3 via the band’s site.