I must say, with everything COVID-19 related this week, it makes this Friday the 13th that much more ominous. Fortunately, you don't need to be in a crowd to enjoy music. So wash your hands, be safe and careful, and dive into these musical selections.
Jordan Mackampa - "What Am I"
Last year, on a beautiful fall afternoon, I have a distinct memory of heading west on the 10 Freeway when I heard a voice and song that was familiar yet different. After a few moments of basking in the music, Chris Douridas announced that the song was by Jordan MacKampa, titled "What Am I." A song you've most likely heard on KCRW airwaves over the last several months. We have all been so incredibly charmed by this London-based singer/songwriter. I had the great pleasure of interviewing him for MBE not too long ago and he is equally charming in person.
Mackampa's compositions evoke a seductive gravitational force. Covering topics from the social discord in the world, to the influence of growing up with a single mom — Mackampa's writing is honest, raw, and relatable. All of which is on full display with his debut full-length album Foreigner, which is out today! We expect big things to come from this young man. By the way, here's the aforementioned MBE interview to get a taste of his magnetism.
Christelle Bofale - "Miles"
I discovered Christelle Bofale a few weeks back and I was completely blown away the moment I heard her voice. Wow. Her vocal presence and guitar playing reminds me a lot of early, mellow Lianne La Havas. Her writing style reminds me a bit of Jensen McRae, another new artist we're all very excited about. Bofale is an Austin-based songwriter of Congolese descent. She grew up immersed in the sounds of soukous — a rumba-inspired genre of dance music from Congo.
Last Spring she released her debut EP, Swim Team, and explored the importance of family roots, mental health and self-discovery. Sonically she infused hints of the Congo with folk and elements of indie rock, soul, and jazz. She chose a slightly different approach with her new single
With "Miles," Bofale strips down the production to a guitar and background vocals. She uses her captivating voice to warn of society's apathy, as she sings, "nobody's scared enough, seems like nobody cares enough." She ends the song repeating the plea:
Put the brakes down
Put the brakes down
Put the brakes down
Before we break down
I absolutely love this song and have a feeling you will too. Enjoy.
Swamp Dogg - "Good, Better, Best"
Jerry Williams is a bit of an underground legend. He is a country, R&B, soul artist and record producer who has been making music for 65 years. His first song came out in 1954, "HTD Blues," when he was known as Little Jerry. The following decade he released several R&B songs under his birth name of Jerry Williams.
In 1970, he reinvented himself as his current moniker, because as he recently told NPR, "I needed an alter ego because I wanted to say some things." What things you ask? "I wanted to be able to talk about sex, religion, politics; I wanted to sing about everything." So he began releasing a series of satirical, offbeat, and eccentric recordings. First of which, was 1970's Total Destruction To Your Mind. Even if you had no idea what it sounded like, with a title like that, you know you're in for a ride.
Fifty years and over twenty albums later, Swamp Dogg is still at it.
Sorry You Couldn't Make It is his latest album and features collaborations with several contemporary artists like Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Channy Leaneagh and Chris Bierden of Poliça, and Jenny Lewis. When asked about working with acts several decades his junior, Dogg told NPR, "It was great because I'll be 78 in July, but I keep forgetting my age. I go in and do things as a 20-year-old. I feel phenomenal and don't want a bunch of old people around me." By the way, you might find it interesting to know that in the 1980s he helped develop Alonzo Williams' "World Class Wreckin' Cru," which gave birth to Dr. Dre... as I said, a legend.
Check out "Good, Better, Best" from Sorry You Couldn't Make It which is out now and also audio from his very first recording, the aforementioned "HTD Blues."