The music portion of the Austin’s annual South by Southwest festival kicks off today, and many of our city’s finest up-and-coming bands have been spent the last week crammed in hatchbacks or vans with amps and instruments, making their trek to Texas. Several have, over the past couple years, recorded Key Sessions in our studio, and today we present you with a downloadable sampler of artists who are repping Philly in in Austin this week.
Beginning with a snappy performance of “Jackie” by Philly pop-rockers Cold Fronts, who won a JanSport competition to be a SXSW featured artist, all the way to the doom-y “Downward Years to Come” from Nothing, it showcases some of the rock (Cheers Elephant), hip-hop (Lushlife) and punk (Lantern) Philly bands on the various bills across Austin. Listen to the set below, download at Soundcloud. And check out some bonus video after the Jump – West Philly’s Waxahatchee performs a ton of shows this week, including an NPR Music showcase with Nick Cave tomorrow, while Bleeding Rainbow is making the rounds as well. See videos of the former playing “Dark Moon” in our studio and the latter tearing up “Get Lost” at Johnny Brenda’s.
Listening to Blayer Pointdujour and The Rockers Galore‘s debut LP The Bull, you can hear a broad range of influences at play. This eclectic taste becomes even more apparent in talking to Blayer, who gets excited about roots rockers like Adam and Dave’s Bloodline as easily as he does for rappers like Voss or alt rockers like The National Rifle. To wrap up this edition of Unlocked, we asked Blayer to give us an idea of the music he’s been vibing to; he hit us back with the 20-song playlist you can listen to below. Check it out, and celebrate the release of The Bull tonight at MilkBoy Philly.
This week on Unlocked, we’re featuring The Bull, the debut full-length from Blayer Pointdujour and the Rockers Galore. A revolutionary fusion of dub, reggae, kompa and punk rock, the album’s themes deal equally in struggle, escapism and empowerment. I sat down with Pointdujour over drinks at McGlinchey’s last Thursday, and while the digital jukebox shuffled our background music from Nirvana to Carly Rae Jepsen, Blayer pondered the process of making music of the people, for the people – writing songs that echo frustrations but also uplift.
The Key: This album tackles a lot. For one body of work, it’s three very distinct subjects. Was it a challenge, as a writer, to cover all this territory?
Blayer Pointdujour: I feel like the whole thing is very voyeuristic. I’m picking these moods. I’ll hear a drum beat – it always starts with the drums – and I’ll think ‘this mood fits that.’ And then I’ll write around it, and rewrite it, and rewrite again until it’s firm. It doesn’t feel hard; I’m just picking my moods, and finding the words to fit them.
TK: Seeing what stories fit what moods.
TK: And it’s not just your story. You talk about your family, your uncle. You take a third-person view, talking about history. And there are the guest vocalists. Everybody is weighing in, but all around the same area.
BPDJ: It’s crazy how just the music draws that out of people. Like, I cut this demo with Voss, a rapper – he’s kind of like Rone, like a pop rapper. But I sent him this one track, and he took the opportunity to talk about all this different stuff, all this real stuff. All the singers, all the guests, when they hear the music they’re like oh, now I can talk about something real. Continue reading →
Ultimately, Blayer Pointdujour wants people to be happy. He wants to create music that feels joyful and celebratory, even if a difficult situation sparked it. I talked about this at length in yesterday’s review of The Bull, the debut full-length album from Pointdujour and his band the Rockers Galore that we’re featuring on Unlocked this week. The video for “Gunz of Philly” strikes that same contrast, spinning an anthem of frustration and escapism during hard times into a drumline-led block party at 23rd and Berks in North Philly. The clip was shot last fall by director Marc Brodzik of Woodshop Films, and prominently features Project H.O.M.E’s North Philly Footstompers youth drill team. Check it out below.
The Bull is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; hear the spotlighted track “One Hit” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review; and check back tomorrow for an interview with Pointdujour.
Blayer Pointdujour isn’t one to make a point lightly. The lead-off track on his debut full-length The Bull, available digitally this week via Philebrity Label, is called “1804” – a reference to the year Haiti gained its independence from France in a slave revolt. Crashing cymbals and shredding rock guitar gallop out the gate, an onslaught back into history as Pointdujour takes the first person view of someone who’s “been working these fields in these plantation days / why should I work the land if I’m never getting paid?” As the song progresses, Pointdujour draws a parallel between the climate that led to the Hatian Revolution and echoes of division and struggle in the world today. It’s a bold and admirable opening statement to make on The Bull, an album that’s socially pointed and provocative, but also celebratory and inspirational.
“Iron Dread” continues this train of thought to a chugging reggae beat and a hook we’re familiar with from when Pointdujour and his band The Rockers Galore recorded a Key Studio Session last September. I’ve been returning to that song over and again for a year now, and I still don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it. Dig this: it’s a midtempo number, not because it’s trying to strike a breezy easygoing island vibe, but because it needs to be slow to fit in everything Pointdujour wants to say. Up front, he paints a picture of a division between the haves and have-nots with a story about his Hatian uncle, a well-off resident of Port au Prince who was robbed by militias – and was okay with it because “his passion’s for the poor and tales of Toussaint.” Again, Pointdujour turns self-reflexive, showing echoes of the scene in present-day America: “I’m too old to be dumpster-diving in the back for bread / I’ve done my damndest to keep my head above water / delaying my dreams of having sons and daughters.”
I’m sure making this sound heavy, aren’t I? Maybe a bit heavy-handed? Perhaps, but Pointdujour makes his argument in such a forceful way that you want to listen – you get drawn in and riled up. In this sense, you could call The Bull a revolutionary record. But the most revolutionary thing about it is how honest and human it is at the same time. Continue reading →
A fanfare of horns heralds this deep cut on The Bull, the debut full-length from Philly kompa impresario Blayer Pointdujour and his band The Rockers Galore. “Horn players, I think, walk a different plane of existance,” Blayer said to me when we interviewed him last year for his Key Studio Session video, and you hear his regard in “One Hit.” They drift in the ether, the shining beacon amid a hearty dub beat and a stormy hook: “One hit of the chalice and I’m good to go. I’ll be gettin’ high, I’m high all the time.” It’s a defiant escapist anthem, pointedly delivered in a rapped verse by Philly’s El Malito, and it echoes the concerns of The Bull, being digitally released this week via Philebrity Label. The record is partly about struggle, and numbing oneself from difficult times. But it’s also about overcoming, and we’ll dig into this contrast in this week’s installment of UNLOCKED, The Key’s recurring spotlight on significant new releases from Philadelphia-based artists. Tomorrow, I’ll review the record – that’s at turns danceable and distressing – and later in the week we’ll talk to Blayer about the story he’s telling with it. Today, it’s a free download of “One Hit” – help yourself below, and check back for more throughout the week.
Philly’s premier Kompa-rock outfit Blayer Pointdujour and the Rockers Galore just released a new single, “1804,” recorded with Larry Gold at Milkboy Studio. The track musically references “Rockfort Rock” by The Skatalites (one of Pointdujour’s favorites), and its title is a nod to the year Haiti gained independence from France after staging a successful slave revolt. Pointdujour says the song “deals with me trying to connect my family history to where we are today.” Grab a free download of the song below, check out the band’s Key Studio VIDEO Session here, catch them in concert at this year’s 2nd Street Festival in August, and look for Blayer’s full-length debut The Bull in September.
This coming Saturday, May 12th and Sunday, May 13th is the Art Star Craft Bazaar at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. The Bazaar is an outdoor retail art and craft show that is organized & juried by Philadelphia’s Art Star Gallery & Boutique. Over 140 local & national artists will be selling their work along the riverfront at Penn’s Landing. The live music for the day is being curated by Philebrity.com and will include performances from local bands including Oh! Pears, Attia Taylor, City Rain, Market East, Blayer Pointdujour & Rockers Galore and more. The music begins at Noon on Saturday and Sunday; you can check out the complete schedule here. Philebrity has put together a tasty 8 song sampler of bands performing at the Art Star Craft Bazaar that you can listen to below. Go here for more information about the Art Star Craft Bazaar.