Author Archives: Brian Boyles

MadFro, I.F.W.I. (Independent)

These debut tracks from MadFro are laced with wah-wah pedals, catchy choruses and popping snares. Vocals come courtesy of Slangston Hughes, a well-known local emcee and host of the Uniquity monthly showcase. Matched nicely with the band’s steady funk, his steely flow features touches of the Roots’ Black Thought, and the Philly group remains a [...]

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Truth Universal: Grinding and Rhyming

If you had the time and the patience, you could find everything you need to know about life inside Jim Russell Records on Magazine Street. Racks and shelves brim with 45s, LPs, cassettes, and CDs. Concert posters and photos climb every horizontal surface. The Complete Riverside Recordings of Thelonious Monk stand atop an old speaker [...]

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Hello Negro’s Mystifying Mission

Scan the schedule for this year’s Voodoo Festival. I’ll bet you two drinks you’ve never heard of the artist who opens Friday on the Le Plur stage. Because Hello Negro is a phantom. “If you’ve worked in New Orleans music, you’re probably familiar with the man behind the moniker. A respected piano player and cultural [...]

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Derrick Freeman: Casual but in Command

As a keen observer of our quixotic metropolis, Derrick Freeman laughs a lot. Out of disbelief, in bursts of joy, as punctuation to his stories. Freeman has lived here long enough to tell great stories. One time Peter Jennings came to the Thursday night Kermit Ruffins gig at Vaughan’s, where Freeman held the drummer stool [...]

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PJ Morton’s Moves

“And now ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce my son…” It is Christmas, 1989. Standing in his living room, Bishop Paul Morton, Sr. aims a video camera at his eight-year-old son, Paul, Jr., a.k.a. PJ. The young man touches his hands to the keys of a piano. The only audience is family. There is [...]

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Zachary Richard: Le Fou (Avalanche Productions)

Le Fou translates as “the crazyman,” but it’s also the French name for the Northern Gannet, a seabird that migrates between Quebec and Louisiana. When Deepwater Horizon coated the Gulf Coast in 2010, the bird was the first to be captured and cleaned. An appropriate title for Zachary Richard’s new album, though there’s little chance [...]

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Ricky B, B Is for Bounce (Sinking City/Urban Unrest)

Ricky B is not merely a pioneering bounce artist—he’s also an essential geographer. With this reissue on vinyl of nine classic tracks, we get a detailed map of the city’s sound and its streets as they were circa ‘94-’95. Previously only available as a cassette single, the album’s version of “What School’s in the House?” [...]

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Micah McKee and Little Maker, Patrons of the Saint (Independent)

An industrious veteran of the local songwriting scene, Micah McKee has a distinctive voice, sweet but crackling, with a professional’s attention to detail. On this release, his band Little Maker gives him everything he could ask for, as does essential production by Allison Davis and Jeff Beninato. The result is a satisfying album that makes [...]

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Rik Ducci, Pride 4 Lunch Sleep 4 Dinner (Independent)

Over the last year, as popular hip-hop continued to lust for Molly and EMD, a sub-narrative evolved around veteran artists who issued quality records without compromising their original styles. See Nas, Killer Mike, and El-P as examples of sophisticated thinkers who adapted according to their own compasses. Amid the synthetic beefs and chains, the lonely [...]

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To Be Continued Brass Band, To Be Continued Brass Band (Independent)

Here is a document of brass band music in 2013. With urgent second line momentum and 808-esque rim shots and cowbells, To Be Continued’s new album captures a street sound sometimes lost when the genre is sealed into record. The band’s distinctive style makes that feat all the more impressive. The Dadaist tendency toward perpetual [...]

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