General Comments

This is the place for any comments you have that don't relate to a specific post. This is a place where you can leave any requests, suggestions and opinions that you have about this blog. It will always remain at the top of the blog so that it is visible to everyone. We can use this as a forum for an open discussion on music in general, as well as just simply saying hi. Let's get the ball rolling.

Journey into the World of Mdou Moctar

I'm sure that most of you will notice that some cosmetic changes were applied to the layout of Eclectic Grooves last week. These changes were mostly necessary due to the blog taking almost a minute to load in the past few weeks. I tested the site with the layout changes before finalizing everything, and was happily pleased that it now opens immediately. There are some things that I still need to tweak like getting the podcast player to work properly again, but it's mostly ready for prime time. I would love to hear what you guys think of it, as well as if you have any thoughts on making it even better.

Onto the music...

Mdou Moctar- Chet Boghassa and Maheyega Assouf Igan
From: Afelan [Sahel Sounds, 2013]

I first became aware of Mdou Moctar's music when I heard "Tahoultine" from the compilation called Music From Saharan Cellphones, released on Sahel Sounds in 2011.  This track was dominated by drum machines and Moctar's specially treated vocals sounded like auto-…

Rediscoveries of Lost Gems: Desert Heat

Desert Heat- Cat Mask at Huggie Temple
[MIE Records, 2013]

With a new Gunn- Truscinski Duo album on the horizon, I figured it would be fitting to explore one of Gunn-Truscinski's other projects called Desert Heatthat was released in 2013. Admittedly, this post would have made more sense earlier in the summer when the blistering heat in Portland was almost akin to a desert heat.

While most of Gunn's output of late has been of the laid-back variety, this record really kicks up the dust with two side-long epic jams filled with vitriolic guitar solos cranked to eleven and tempo changes that turn on a dime. Also along for the ride on this one is the equally talented guitar virtuoso Cian Nugent, who combines with Gunn for a dynamic one-two punch that never quits. The first track "Cat Mask at Huggie Temple" starts out with a transcendent guitar melody that slowly but surely kicks into a frenzy with Truscinski's drums serving as a sturdy backbeat to the mesmerizing interp…

Sweltering Hot Rats

Frank Zappa-Willie the Pimp and The Gumbo Variations
From: Hot Rats [Bizarre Records, 1969]

With the sweltering heat wave coming through the Pacific Northwest region as of late, temperatures are set to average between 95-100 over the next several days in Portland. With that said, I plan on writing this post as quickly as possible while not sacrificing the quality of the review.

I have never been the biggest Frank Zappa fan, mostly because the material I had heard up to that point was of the hokey parody variety, and it didn't sit quite right with my tastes at the time. Over the past couple years, I've grown an appreciation for the skilled musicianship and innovative ideas contained in much of Zappa's recording output from '66 to'72, especially Chunga's Revenge and Freak Out. Considering this, it's odd that I had yet to give Hot Rats, one of the most critically acclaimed records in Zappa's discography, a true listen until this past week.

Obviously I knew…

Choice Cuts Vol.7

The last Choice Cuts was posted over four years ago, so I figured that it was high time for a new entry in this series.

It is once again time for me to reach back in the refrigerator for some "choice cuts". Each time, I will be featuring sizzling and succulent morsels that are grabbing my ear right now that range from funk to country, from afro-beat to garage rock, etc. Sometimes there will be a theme to these songs that ties them all together in a nice bow, but other times the songs featured will just be a musical hodgepodge of eclectic delights. Without further ado, lets see what "choice cuts" the vinyl butcher has prepared for us today.

Blo-Chant to Mother Earth
From: Chapter One [1973, EMI]

Last week I was in my car listening to the Nigeria 70 compilation from Strut Records when this song by Blo instantly captured my attention. It starts out with a shimmering cymbal splash that segues into a slow groove featuring bass, congo, drums and acidic guitar. Once …

Rediscoveries of Lost Gems- Eddie Harris- Free Speech

Eddie Harris- Free Speech
[Atlantic Records, 1970]

Many moons ago, I wrote an in-depth feature on Eddie Harris and his pioneering use of the varitone saxophone on the now defunct blog Ear Fuzz. Today's edition of Rediscoveries of Lost Gems will focus on Eddie's oft-overlooked LP called Free Speech. In the canon of jazz, and specifically in Eddie's discography, this album was never fully appreciated when it was first pressed in 1970.   In a sense, Eddie Harris was an anomaly in the world of jazz, always looking for what's next while the rest of the jazz scene was struggling to keep up with him. He could have very easily stuck with the tried and true soul jazz sound that got him noticed, but instead he chose the road less traveled filled with potholes, bumps and dead-ends.

The opening cut "Wait Please," starts out unassumingly enough with a slow drum and bass groove accompanying the intoxicating sound of Harris's Varitone sax. In fact, the title is apropo, a…

Very Belated Favorite Albums of 2016 Part 2

As I promised last week, here is the conclusion to my list of favorite albums from 2016. I hope you find something on this list that grabs your attention.

6) Thee Oh Sees- A Weird Exits

When I listened to A Weird Exits for the first time, I made a snap judgement that this was finally going to be a Thee Oh Sees record that wouldn't make my year-end list. It didn't have the same melodic magic as much of the band's discography to that point, and a lot of the songs had a similar vibe to them. After giving the record some time to sink in, I realized that my initial thoughts were clouded by expectations of what they should sound like. Once I relaxed, and just let the sounds wash over me, I couldn't get enough of the blistering guitars and pummeling drums that filled my earhole. The sound that is presented on this record is pure ecstatic euphoria!

Gelatinous Cube and Unwrap the Fiend Pt.2

7) Aesop Rock- The Impossible Kid

It's been four years since the critically acclaimed,…