BALLYDOWSE 2/19, big Horse Here’s one more reason to keep opening the mail: The Land, the Bread, and the People (Grrr), a great and totally unheralded record by Ballydowse, a band whose nine members belong to the Jesus People USA commune in Uptown. They wear their anticorporate, antifascist politics on their sleeves, though their message can be hard to decipher without the lyric sheet, since their sleeves move so fast when they play their shit-kicking Celtic crunch punk. They put the old Highland pipes and scratchy fiddles to their proper use–getting folks on their feet and scaring the shit out of the enemy–and buck stereotypes with a harrowing Holocaust memorial and a song against drinking. And just when you start to feel cynical about their Kierkegaard quotes and Elie Wiesel homages, the sheer force of the music gets right up in your face and asks, “Well, what have you done?” STRANGEFOLK 2/19, Martyrs’ The latest conglomeration to emerge from the east-coast jam-rock circuit that gave us Hootie and Dave Matthews, Strangefolk released two CDs on its own before signing to Mammoth. I haven’t heard those, but the new one, Weightless in Water, sounds like a sure thing to me, with just enough of that 70s Jackson Browne studio shimmer to reassure all those “rockers” who go to bed at ten these days. DEEJAY PUNK-ROC 2/20, smart bar This Brooklyn-born turntablist spent his late teens serving in the U.S. military, then moved to England in search of more relaxed attitudes about both race and music. He’s brought home a few victories already, touring the world with the Prodigy and remixing megastars like the Beastie Boys and Korn. His debut LP, Chickeneye (Independiente/Epic), is a platter loaded with the loopy humor and fat beats that Fatboy Slim types have recently helped make palatable to Americans, and his belief that all source material is created equal is almost as seductive and infectious as the grooves. KODO 2/20, Medinah Temple The 15 or so percussionists of Kodo have been performing regularly since 1981; according to the detailed liner notes from last year’s Bill Laswell-produced Ibuki (Tristar), they spend about a third of the year overseas and a third touring their native Japan. The remaining third they devote to resting and preparing new material on Sado Island, where they all met in the early 70s while studying the taiko, a giant traditional Japanese drum played with sticks the size of Louisville Sluggers. By all accounts their performances are thrilling, pull-you-out-of-your-chair displays of synchronization and rhyth-mic and muscular power. In ancient Japan, it’s said, the outer limits of villages were established at the farthest distance at which the taiko could be heard–and in today’s global village, that’s pretty far indeed. On Kodo’s forthcoming Sai-so–The Remix Project (Red Ink), Laswell, DJ Krush, Kevin Yost, and others blend in New Agey synths and one-from-column-A-one-from-column-B beats that try to speak the unspoken sounds between the grooves and instead reach
new heights in redundancy. Thankfully this performance will be the simple product of decades of disciplined attempts to get primal. –Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ballydowse photo undredited.