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Django Django: A lovely bunch of coconuts

The foursome’s self-titled debut evokes moods and images and memories and senses, with coconuts used for a galloping effect and silverware percussion thrown in for good measure.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Django Django
Django Django
Ribbon Music

In an interview with the Guardian, the drummer of Django Django said something to the effect that his favourite records, including those by the Beach Boys and Bo Diddley, were the ones containing mistakes. He also talked about his use of coconuts on the debut record from the London-based group.

I hear those coconuts. But I don't hear the mistakes.

Django Django – forgive me if I repeat myself – makes lofty psychedelic folk music, fun stuff that is full of dance, adventure and eight-mile-high harmonies. This self-titled disc, which came out earlier in the year overseas, is out here digitally on Aug. 14, with physical copies arriving Sept. 25. There are Beach Boys and Diddley references, and the wild riffs of Link Wray strut their way in. Fans of the sadly departed Beta Band have something new and lighter to explore. And the hot-club jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt doesn't figure at all.

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"Sit down and talk to me," Hand of a Man begins softly. "Think of colours, shapes and harmony; put you where the space becomes a scene – open up your eyes and start to dream." This is the kind of thing the foursome does. Its sounds evoke moods and images and memories and senses, with those things often described lyrically, in real time. "That's the place where songs and laughs begin," singer-guitarist Vincent Neff closes, his vocals stacked but airy against hand claps and a slim synthetic beat. "Go back and take the hand of man."

About those coconuts: Love's Dart uses them for a galloping effect. There's also a bluesy two-string acoustic drone, with a type of psychedelia that is pastoral. Throw in some silverware percussion for good measure. And when Neff sings about remembering "the girl with the golden hair," you not only do that, but you recall the scent of her shampoo and other inside information too.

Zumm Zumm is a clacky, larky cha-cha thing, up until a serene break comes "straight out of nowhere, the greatest thing; seen nothing like it, just like a dream." Well, yes, like that, now that you mention it. Life's a Beach sounds like surf rock at Sun Studio. A few bars after I think I hear a little of Allen Toussaint's 1962 song Fortune Teller, Neff sings about a crystal ball.

This is a record about wavelengths and going with the flows. Crystal ball? The future for them is bright. Django Django gets it, gets it.


SOUL: Soul Sessions Volume 2

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  • Joss Stone
  • Stone’d/S-Curve

Joss Stone's first Soul Sessions, recorded when she was all of 16, was all about aspiration, an attempt to show that the vocal prodigy had the chops and confidence to take on a set of soul classics. Volume 2 is more about accomplishment, showing what the 25-year old Stone has learned since her debut. One obvious lesson is restraint; her singing isn't as showy as it was, and her use of melisma is both more tasteful and more affecting. But the biggest difference is how adult her singing has become, for the subtlety and knowingness she brings to Pillow Talk and Teardrops reveals emotional depth her early work never conveyed. J.D. Considine

AFROBEAT: Antibalas

  • Antibalas
  • Daptone

Brooklyn's Antibalas have been making Afrobeat—tranced-out funk/soul plus anti-imperialist critiques, as pioneered by the late Fela Kuti—since 1998, and despite being tapped as the house band for the Fela! Broadway musical, they've been derided as unoriginal. Fine, but if Afrobeat is a chain, Antibalas are the Franchisees of the Decade. Their fifth LP boasts songs, not just grooves: Him Belly No Go Sweet simmers with Amayo's shapeshifting vocal before erupting into Martin Perna's triumphant baritone sax solo, while Sáré Kon Kon bristles with percussion and frenetic horns harnessed perfectly by producer Gabriel Roth (Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones). You might reach for a Fela LP first, but you wouldn't be let down by reaching for Antibalas second. Dave Morris

POP: Cicada

  • Liam Titcomb
  • Nettwerk

Relationships are complicated. Pop songs, almost by rule, are not. And so, because of those two truths, singer-songwriters like Toronto's fetching Liam Titcomb happen. He makes smooth-voiced, accessible songs involving matters of the heart – earnest, polished, broadcasting things. Landslide has to it a boy-band vulnerability; other tracks on the Nashville-recorded LP go for pseudo-country crossover. Angeline rides the road's middle, looking for Gerry Rafferty maybe. It's all very ruthlessly bittersweet. Brad Wheeler

ROCK: Mondo Sex Head

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  • Rob Zombie
  • Universal

There may yet be hard rockers so devoted to the guitar's supremacy that their albums boast the disclaimer "no synths," but smart metal gods know that a square wave crunches as nastily as any Marshall. Rob Zombie is no stranger to the remix regimen, having dipped a first toe with White Zombie in 1996. Mondo Sex Head, however, is totally now, with remixes by Photek, the Bloody Beetroots, and born-again dub stepper Jonathan "JDevil" Davis of Korn. Nor are these retreads, as the best tracks stand as reinventions, from Drumcorps' intensely percussive Never Gonna Stop to the near-symphonic Das Kapital reinvention of Lords of Salem. – J.C

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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