No more Al Jazeera English

To Pacifica Network listeners,

Thank you listening to Pacifca’s exclusive broadcasts of Al Jazeera English and for supporting your local community radio station. It is with great regret that we must report that Al Jazeera English is no longer available for distribution in the USA.

This happened because Current TV was sold to Al Jazeera and with this broadcast network here in the USA, they are creating “Al Jazeera America.” This is an entirely different organization, being currently built from former Current TV staff and new hires. All broadcasts of Al Jazeera English will cease in the USA on August 20th.

Pcifica has approached Al Jazeera America about being able to distribute their content for radio, the way we did with Al Jazeera English. However, they are not prepared at this time to discuss this possibility, partly because they are not fully organized and partly because they are working with stricter distribution procedures and are not sure if they will be able to make it available.

The afternoon Al Jazeera edited by Pacifica Radio ceased last month and as of August 20th the morning program will not be available.

As does your local community radio station, Pacifica is ceaselessly looking for ways to bring you excellent news and information. Thank you for listening.

Ursula Ruedenberg
Pacifica Radio Network

Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brazil: Hip-Hop, Beats, Afro and Dub

Daora was released on June 3rd by Mais Um Discos, a deliberately eclectic label, which specializes in Brazilian music, but is based in London. This compilation is not concerned with presenting a thorough picture of any of the many Brazilian scenes that it covers. Rather, as its title (Daora means “something that’s dope” in Sao Paolo) indicates, Daora shares the Brazilian music scene’s dopest gems– and there happens to be quite a few of them. Rodrigo Brandao put together the compilation, and his list of past collaborators– Tony Allen, The Roots, Prince Paul, various artists off the Ninja Tune roster– gives a good idea of his taste: Afrobeat, hip-hop rooted in jazz and funk, and thinking man’s electronic music.

Brandao cites both Big Boi and Arthur Verocai as influences on today’s breed of Brazilian innovators. Why shouldn’t the two go together? Verocai, whose lone 1972 solo album was first released in obscurity and later became highly sought after for obsessive record collectors, has been sampled by DOOM, whose Stones Throw labelmate Madlib has also professed his appreciation for the record. Between American and Brazilian music, it’s often hard to say who influenced whom. Of course, the Tropicalia movement of the 60s and 70s took cues from American and British psychedelia, but it twisted the music in new and exciting ways, melding it with traditional Brazilian music and inventing new innovations. Since then, Western artists like Stereolab and Beck have paid homage to Os Mutantes and others from that scene.

This is a 32-track compilation that somehow has very little in the way of weak moments.  Among the highlights are “Vestido De Prata,” a laid back reggae-psych track by Curumin (real name Luciano Albuquerque), a musician from Sao Paolo, who plays the cavaquinho, an ancient Portuguese variant on the guitar. “Balboa Da Silva” is fast-paced, funky Afrobeat performed by Bixiga 70, who take their name from the Sao Paolo neighborhood of Bixiga, which is home to immigrant populations from Italy and Africa, as well as displaced Brazilians from the Northeast. Anelis Assumpção‘s “Not Falling” first seems like a rare misfire, starting off as slow-burning dub before building up to a raucous dancehall finish in its last minute. It’s really hard to find fault with much here. The music is at once familiar and exciting– it builds off established genres, but does not repeat clichés. It fits into the long and outstanding tradition of Brazilian music.

-Jesse Brent

Thoth & Lila’Angelique: A WESU Interview

Thoth & Lila'Angelique performing at the Angel Tunnel in Central Park on July 24

Thoth & Lila’Angelique prayforming at the Angel Tunnel in Central Park on July 24

The prayformance of Thoth & Lila’Angelique is a truly unique experience. The two (together calling themselves Tribal Baroque) prayform every Wednesday-Sunday (weather permitting) in Central Park’s Angel Tunnel in New York from 3-5 PM. Thoth first showed up on my radar eleven years ago when I recall reading an interview with him around the time when a documentary about his life, Thoth won an Academy Award. Since then, I’ve accidentally stumbled into the audience of his (and Lila’s) prayformances three times, and been blown away each time. I was able to interview both of them over the phone yesterday.

What do you guys do on your days off from performing?

Lila’Angelique: We usually do all the things that we can’t do when we’re performing. We do our laundry. We rest. We work on things. Thoth works on Photoshop a lot.

Thoth: On our days off we get ready for our prayformance. We prepare our costumes. We do a lot of study and quiet time. Some times we treat ourselves to a nice meal (laughter).

Do you go out for food or do you cook yourself?

T: We cook our food most of the week, but on our days off we save money to go out, and have a nice romantic meal. We’re going to have a treat tomorrow. We also buy things that get us through the week. [Before our prayformances], we have smoothies so that we can sustain our energy throughout the day. We don’t eat anything…

Really? All day long?

T: Yeah, all day.

So just one smoothie gets you through the day?

T: Yes…. And also, the world is so… You learn to eat too much. And the reason you do is because everyone is selling food and they’re advertising really hard to people, so you have three meals a day, but you can [survive on just] a little snack. We have our snack bars right after the prayformance, and then we have a meal of whatever we feel like later. Usually [something] simple when we’re doing the prayformance five days [out of the week].

I was going to ask about your prayformance. I watched the documentary about you last night, and I know that at the time you were doing a solopera, which was all about this mythology and about a hermaphrodite. Correct?

T: I still do that.

Is there new material though that you’re working on now?

T: The new material is ours.

L: Yeah, we’ve created new material. Together we don’t do the solopera. He does the solopera every day, but we’re creating our opera.

And what’s your opera about?

L: Love and devotion.

T: They’re more miniature and more individual. They’re more thematic, whereas The Herma [his solopera] was more various chapters of an epic.

Is it still in the same world as your solopera though? Festad [Festad is the mythological world that Thoth invented]?

T: No. I can’t say it’s the same world because Festad is mythic, and we’re dealing with love and devotion and the paradigm of the movement to being.

What about the language, because I know you invented your own language. What is the language you are using now?

T: We’re still using invented language.

 So, how complex is this language? Does it have its own grammar?

T: My language has its own grammar, but what we do together is a little more simpler, more improvised.

L: His has 252 characters. We’re basically starting from the ground up again together. He built his own language and his own opera, and we’re building our own opera and our own language. His whole thing was his personal thing. He’s my teacher and he’s teaching me all the things that he learned, but now we’re building up our own thing. And we’re making an opera about how we met each other and how our lives have been. And that’s very epic too.

Can you tell me at all about that? How you met?

L: I met him in New York in the Angel Tunnel in 2008. I saw him a few times. I saw him on America’s Got Talent just in passing, and I saw him in the Tunnel and I didn’t think much of him at first. And then I saw him again, and I was really just head over heels in love basically from the moment I heard him sing, and I ran up to him, and, “Oh my God, you’re a counter tenor!” And he was really impressed that I knew that word, and I started dancing with him, and then I started singing with him. And after that winter, we teamed up and started playing together, and have been ever since.

So are you a trained opera singer?

L: Yeah. I studied to be an opera singer. That’s what I wanted to do. And then I met Thoth and realized he was making his own opera. And I found that more interesting than what I was doing singing old dead peoples’ music. That we could create our own music—I really liked that idea.

Read the rest of the interview after the jump

Continue reading

Smith & Smith top the WESU Charts!

2. CURT SMITH / Deceptively Heavy
3. DAFT PUNK / Random Access Memories
4. BOARDS OF CANADA / Tomorrow’s Harvest
5. CFCF / Music For Objects
6. ROBERT POLLARD / Honey Locust Honky Tonk
8. SYNCHRONICE / Countdown – EP
9. JAMES ZOLLAR / It’s All Good People
10. GOLD TOP / “Uh Oh” [Single]
11. MOLLY VENTER AND EBEN PARISER / Goodnight Moonshine
12. ELLIS / Wherever You Are
13. BOZ SCAGGS / Memphis
14. TRAVIS BRETZER / Making Love – EP
15. OXYLICE / Signs (feat. Katie’s Ambition) – Single
16. SPEEDY ORTIZ / Major Arcana
17. JIM JAMES / Regions Of Light And Sound
18. BENNETT & BRUBECK / The White House Sessions
19. BUDDY MONDLOCK / The Memory Wall
20. ALICE GERRARD / Bittersweet
21. ROBOKOP / Therapy
22. BIG STAR / Nothing Can Hurt Me
24. VARIOUS ARTISTS / Verve Remixed: The First Ladies
26. DOUGH ROLLERS / Little Lily
27. HOT CHIP / Dark And Stormy
29. BASS DRUM OF DEATH / Bass Drum Of Death
30. ROSE WINDOWS / The Sun Dogs

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me opened on July 3 at the IFC Center in New York and is now playing throughout the country in select independent theaters. The film is a documentary about one of the greatest bands that never made it big, the unfortunately named, Big Star. The documentary opens with one of the defining moments of Big Star’s career, a concert they played in front of music critics from all over the country, who had gathered in Memphis for the supposed reason of organizing a union of music critics. However, the organizers of this event secretly intended to bring attention to a little known Memphis group, namely Big Star. It worked, at least to some extent. One of the critics interviewed for the film recalls with bemused surprise that she even saw critics dancing at the concert.

Big Star are, in a sense, the ideal pop group for music critics– smart, contagious pop music that you can dance to without feeling embarrassed. Alex Chilton, Big Star’s best known band member once said, “Most of the Big Star stuff was searching for how to get through two verses without saying anything really stupid.” That might be selling the group a bit short. Chilton was notorious for his curmudgeonly attitude toward the band that he would be most associated with throughout his prolific, if scattered, and at times sloppy career. Three years before he died in 2010, Chilton summed up his opinion on the group that he was constantly asked about in interviews: “I’m not as crazy about them as a lot of Big Star cultists seem to be. I think they’re good, but then again, I think Slade records are good, too.” Another critic admitted that Big Star was a group that critics didn’t want to share with the world. Instead, they preferred to keep them for themselves: the little band that everybody liked.

Part of the reason for the group’s lack of success was simply bad luck. Signed to Ardent, a local Memphis label tied to the more well known Stax, the band’s records received distribution by Columbia, but the corporate executives in New York cared little for this pop band from Memphis. They weren’t heavy enough for the ’70s rock scene, and they were from Memphis, a town much better known for its soul music than its rock scene. Though they received rave reviews in places like Rolling Stone, many towns didn’t even carry the band’s records in their stores or give them radio play. In the pre-Internet age, this meant that there simply was no way for the average music fan to hear their music. The band, and in particular, the band’s founder, Chris Bell, desperately wanted the adoration received by their heroes, like The Beatles. That adoration came, but not while the band was still around. In gushing interviews, musicians from bands such as Hot Chip, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Cheap Trick (whose cover of Big Star’s “In The Street” is the theme song for That 70’s Show), R.E.M., and, of course, The Replacements (whose song “Alex Chilton” introduced many of their fans to Big Star) speak of their fondness for the band, and the influence of Big Star on their own music.

Unfortunately, the delayed adoration was little solace for Bell, who left the band after the group’s first record, the hopelessly optimistically titled #1 Record. Bell is the truly tragic figure of the film. Chilton, though far better known, comes off as self-obsessed and spottily brilliant–the kind of guy it might be fun to share a drink with, but not necessarily work with every day (Big Star producer Jim Dickinson recalls at the beginning of the film seeing Chilton tripping on acid as a pre-teen and thinking that he was in for an interesting life– that’s certainly true, but he seemed to lack the emotional depth of Bell). Bell was tormented by several things– first of all by the fact that #1 Record was a flop, selling fewer than 10,000 copies. The reviews, though positive, concentrated mostly on Chilton’s role in the band. Chilton had previously served as lead vocalist for The Box Tops, a more traditional blue-eyed soul group from the late 60s, who had a hit with “The Letter,” a song that features a teenaged Chilton with an almost impossibly deep sounding baritone. Perhaps most significantly, Bell was (probably) gay. This is a fact that is hinted at several times during the film, though never declared outright. His gayness was certainly never referenced in the group’s music, or Bell’s later solo output. Bell’s brother recalls that Chris turned to Jesus, as well as drugs in order to distract himself from issues with his “sexuality.” Coming from a wealthy family in the south during the era before homosexuality became more or less accepted in this country, Bell must have felt deeply guilty (some have even suggested that he was in love with Chilton, though that remains the realm of rumor and hearsay).

In the midst of a deep depression, Bell’s brother took him to Europe, where he took the haunting cover photo of Bell’s lone solo record, I Am the Cosmos. Bell stands with snow covered mountains in the background, looking very cool in a jean jacket and sunglasses, but also lost in his own troubled thoughts. One of Bell’s friends from school tears up when discussing that album’s title track. It is a song that would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Bell was a very serious person, who felt things intensely. Chilton was his opposite. Though Chilton’s song “Holocaust” off Big Star’s last album Third/Sister Lovers may actually be one of the saddest songs ever written, it is a song about lack of feeling, rather than the overflowing feeling that Bell experienced. Bell’s sister admits that she, like Chilton, does not understand the cultish following that Big Star has received since the band broke up. She would rather have her brother alive than the music that he left behind. Bell became a member of the 27 Club (along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain), dying in a one-man car crash. Perhaps most tragic of all, the local newspaper reported his death as that of the “son of a restauranteur,” rather than the founder of one of the most beloved bands of American rock history.

Big Star’s story is a good one, filled with characters like Dickinson, whose wife sweetly recalls the time that Bob Dylan visited his eccentrically designed trailer park home (complete with Otis Redding‘s “decomposing” grand piano, on which he wrote “Dock of the Bay”) and said, “Jim, you must get a lot of thinking done here,” to which Jim replied, “Bob, I think all the time.” However, the film does not have much ambition to do anything besides simply report the facts. There are no experimental flourishes, or mythologizing, as in the more memorable Rodriguez documentary Searching for Sugar Man. Luckily, the story and Big Star’s music are good enough to stand alone. The most interesting and emotional segments of the film are those dedicated to the lesser known bandleader, Bell. The movie falters somewhat when discussing the years after Bell died, going into unnecessary detail about Chilton’s post-Big Star output. Nevertheless, it’s a film well worth seeing, especially for those interested in Big Star or the history of alternative music.

-Jesse Brent

The Stepkids win the WESU Lottery!

(aka: What decade is this? Fleetwood Mac & ELO in the WESU top 30!)

WESU Top 30 for the week ending July 18, 2013:

1 STEPKIDS / “The Lottery” [Single]
2 BROTHER SUN / Some Part Of The Truth
4 FLEETWOOD MAC / Extended Play
5 HOUNDS OF FINN / Gravity Pulls

6 CSS / Planta
7 SIMONE STEVENS / The Beautiful Old: Turn of the Century Songs
9 BETSE ELLIS / High Moon Order

10 GUIDED BY VOICES / English Little League
11 BEPPE GAMBETTA / The American Album
12 LONE BELLOW / The Lone Bellow
14 LAURA MVULA / Sing To The Moon
15 DEERHUNTER / Monomania

16 POKEY LAFARGE / Pokey LaFarge
17 BOZ SCAGGS / Memphis
18 CAROLINE DOCTOROW / Little Lovin’ Darling
19 BECK / “I Won’t Be Long” [Single]
20 KARYN OLIVER / Magdalene

21 ARI AND MIA / Land On Shore
22 GOGOL BORDELLO / “Maladrino” [Single]

26 VAMPIRE WEEKEND / Modern Vampires Of The City
27 HOT CHIP / Dark & Stormy
28 SHANE ALEXANDER / Meet Me in the Hurricane
29 BASS DRUM OF DEATH / Bass Drum Of Death
30 SHANNON & THE CLAMS / Dreams in the Rat House

Summer Music Festival Preview


It’s the middle of July and that means it’s time to bust out the Ray-Bans, grab the picnic blanket, put on your cut-off shorts, lather up in sunscreen and then run around the city holding the picnic blanket as a cape and shouting, “I am BAN-RAY! Here to save the day! Where hast the evil DENIM THIEF gone, and what did he do with the leg-sleeves of my blue jeans?!? Fear my radioactive-proof skin!”

Or, ya know, you could chill at a music festival. Here are a couple picks from throughout the US of A in the next couple months:


Chicago, IL • July 19-21

Say what you will about Pitchfork as a publication that doesn’t even get what Childish Gambino’s about man, they sure do know how to put together a surprising lineup. Seeing Belle & Sebastian’s names next to R. Kelly is enough to leave you wondering which moments of high school you’re most nostalgic for: burning CDs for sweethearts or awkwardly grinding on strangers. There are plenty of WESU favorites here: Autre Ne Veut, Foxygen, Chairlift, Toro Y Moi, and Lil B have all been featured in our charts or elsewhere on our Music Director’s Blog. Lil B might just retweet you. I’m also gonna recommend checking out Killer Mike, Mac DeMarco, and Swans to round out your festival weekend with some “Hard-Core G Shit,” some goofball rock, and peculiar epic-ness. This fest should be a whole slew of radically different parties happening at the same time, as long as Pitchfork fans manage to take off their cool jackets for a minute and enjoy themselves—something they’re notorious for avoiding.

Gathering of the Vibes

Bridgeport, CT • July 25-28

Right here in our backyard, you’ll find one of the chillest festivals around. If the name “Gathering of the Vibes” didn’t tip you off to this show’s hippy cred maybe the lineup’s massive “TWO LEGENDARY NIGHTS OF PHIL LESH & FRIENDS” top bill should make it clear that GotV is the place to let your inner Deadhead loose. While this festival embraces the jam as an art form it’s also open-minded about the wide variety of grooves and jams available in this day and age: The Roots never fail to get a crowd bouncing with their Philly hip-hop jamz, The Tedeschi Trucks Band should rep the southern rock jam with pride, The Funky Meters will bring classic funk jams, and Fishbone will likely whip out a ska jam or two. Who’s bringing the peanut butter?  Also, if you want to feel old, no matter how young you are, check out the School of Rock All-Stars, a group of 7-18 year old rock stars shredding through classic rock hits. Also, I’m having a hard time figuring out who will be at this festival and also want to see James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation DJ a “Late-Night Rager,” but that will be happening, so cool beans.

Continue after the JUMP FOR FESTS in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, and NÜ York Continue reading

WESU TOP 30 for week of July 4, 2013

2 BOARDS OF CANADA Tomorrow’s Harvest
3 BASS DRUM OF DEATH Bass Drum Of Death
4 STEPKIDS “The Lottery” [Single]

6 EMILY HERRING Your Mistakes
7 RED TAIL RING The Heart’s Swift Foot
9 VINCENT CROSS A Town Called Normal
10 BEPPE GAMBETTA The American Album

12 DAVID FORD Charge
15 BLACK LILLIES Runaway Freeway Blues

16 GENE DUDLEY GROUP Saturday Shifting
17 STOLEN THYME Time Is Possibility
18 ROY BOOK BINDER The Good Book
19 OMAR “The Man” [Single]
20 MARK MULCAHY Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You

21 POST MODERN PANIC Lost In The Patterns
23 DUCKTAILS The Flower Lane Domino
24 IVAN ROSENBERG Oldies And Old Time
25 ROBYN HITCHCOCK Love From London

26 SALVIA PLATH The Bardo Story Weird World
27 MAPS Vicissitude Mute
28 HEAD FOR THE HILLS Blue Ruin Self-Released
29 BOSNIAN RAINBOWS Bosnian Rainbows Sargent House
30 BRIAN IRVING Radiant Things

David Ford Charges to the top of the WESU charts


1    DAVID FORD    Charge
2    COPPER PONIES    Ring Them Bells
3    ADAM STEFFEY    New Primitive
4    DARDEN SMITH    Love Calling
5    BETSE ELLIS    High Moon Order

6    GOLD TOP    Uh Oh [Single]
7    THE MANCHURIANS    Big Rhythm
8    DEADLY GENTLEMEN    Roll Me, Tumble Me
9    VARIOUS ARTISTS    Woody at 100
10    SCHOOLBOY & JAMES EGBERT    The Silver Lining [Single]
11    PROTOHYPE    Jelly Roll
12    GENTICORUM    Enregistré Live
13    STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES (& DUCHESSES)    The Lost Highway
14    PROTOHYPE & PRIMA VOLTA    Bigger Than You and Me
15    STOLEN TIME    Time Is Possibility

17    SINGULARITY    Horizon
18    DOCTOR P    The Champagne
19    KARYN OLIVER    Magdalene
20    ROY BOOKBINDER    The Good Book


21    HOLLAN HOLMES    Phase Shift
22    PATTY GRIFFIN    American Kid
23    AOIFE O’DONOVAN    Fossils
24    FEMI KUTI    No Place For My Dream
25    BASS DRUM OF DEATH    Bass Drum Of Death

26    JAPANESE GIRLS    The Shark Week EP
27    SIGUR ROS    Kveikur
28    STRANGLERS    Giants
29    ROSE WINDOWS    The Sun Dogs
30    DAFT PUNK    Random Access Memories

Dead Can Dance on top of WESU Top 30


1. DEAD CAN DANCE In Concert
3. GUIDED BY VOICES English Little League
4. LONELY ISLAND The Wack Album
5. VARIOUS ARTISTS Let Us In – Americana


6. ARI AND MIA Land On Shore
10. DAVID FORD Charge


12. DELBERT AND GLEN Blind, Crippled, And Crazy
13. DEERHUNTER Monomania
14. ANAMANAGUCHI Endless Fantasy


16. THE NOMADS Loaded Deluxe – EP
17. GENE DUDLEY GROUP The Fawcett Negotiation – Single
18. BASEMENT FREAKS Funk From The Trunk
19. FEAST OF FIDDLES Rise Above it
20. HARD PROOF Dragon – Tere – Single

21. ROGUE’S GALLERY Son Of Rogue’s Gallery
23. MURDER BY DEATH As You Wish: Kickstarter Covers
25. JOSEPH ARTHUR The Ballad Of Boogie Christ


26. ANNIE KOZUCH Mostly Jobim
27. BETSE ELLIS High Moon Order
28. PUTNAM SMITH Kitchen, Love…
29. URSULA GEORGE One Steady Roll
30. BOSQ OF WHISKEY BARONS Movin’ On / Keep Movin’ – Single