Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The new Meshell Ndegeocello album

Next Tuesday, Meshell Ndegeocello’s latest studio album drops. It’s called “Devil’s Halo,” and it has a real alternative-rock feel.

For instance, click here and check out “Die Young” on my Vox blog. This is my favorite cut, based on first impressions.

But I miss the funkier flavors. I’ll have to spend some time with “Devil’s Halo” to see if it grows on me.

A free VEGA download

I’m having a ball checking out all this new music, looking for FREE MP3s to share for Hispanic Heritage Month.

And I’m not even halfway done... because Hispanic Heritage Month lasts until October 15. (I know. Weird, right?)

Found a young dude named Alan Palomo – based in Austin, Texas; born in Monterrey, Mexico – and he’s got a synth-pop project called VEGA.

Click here to hear “No Reasons.” I think it’s cute ’n’ tasty. To download it, follow this link to RCRD LBL.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UBM’s World of Glamour and Fame

Last night I was at my favorite sushi spot. As occasionally happens, I saw a movie actor come in there. Alone.

It was Scott Caan... James Caan’s son. (He was in those “Ocean’s Eleven” movies.) Previously I’ve seen Billy Crudup and Jason Biggs roll in solo, belly up to the sushi bar, and eat the freshest fish in L.A.

Thing is, if you were to drive past Sushi Nozawa... and the little strip mall it’s in... you wouldn’t give it a second thought. First time you step in the door, you won’t be impressed by the décor. There is no décor.

But the fish will make an addict out of you.

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Get Off’

Hispanic Heritage Month... steady funkin’ on...

I know y’all remember this hit by Foxy. Reminds me of my senior year in high school.

The leader of that Miami band – Ish Ledesma – was born in Cuba. His family got out after the Communists took over.

Ish uploaded an amusing video to YouTube where he tells the story behind “Get Off.”

Follow this link to watch, but basically... the band created that song to annoy the hell out of a club owner (in Ocean City, Md., of all places) who hated that “Oowa! Oowa!” chant, which the band was doing onstage already.

Random hotness

Monday, September 28, 2009

New cuts from CéU, Natalia Lafourcade

So... where does Brazil fit into Hispanic Heritage Month?

Brazilians aren’t Hispanic. (They don’t speak Spanish; they speak Portuguese.) And Wikipedia says the U.S. government doesn’t count Brazilian Americans as Hispanic or Latino.

But Brazil is certainly a part of Latin America. And Brazilian music is included in the “Latin Grammys.” I think the average Latino would say there’s a cultural kinship there.

So for my purposes, I’m including the Brazilians in. (It’s about the music.)

Okay, now down to business. CéU is a quirky young singer-songwriter from Brazil. Natalia Lafourcade is a quirky young singer-songwriter from Mexico. Both have been nominated for the “Best New Artist” Latin Grammy... and lost.

Both are on their way to bigger and better things.

CéU and Natalia put out new albums this summer. Let me give you a little taste.

Click here to hear “Cangote”... from CéU’s album “Vagarosa.”

Click here to hear “Cursis Melodias”... from Natalia Fourcade’s album “HU HU HU.”

Coming attraction: ‘Zombieland’

Oops... my mistake. This is actually video of a 16-year-old kid being murdered last week in Zimbabwe.

Whoops... my mistake again. Not Zimbabwe. Chicago.

Chicago, Illinois.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Random Hispanicness

A free Pacha Massive download

Another funky group I wrote about during Hispanic Heritage Month 2008 is Pacha Massive from the Bronx. (Leader Ramon Nova grew up in the Dominican Republic.)

Pacha Massive released its sophomore album last week. It’s called “If You Want It.” I can point you to a couple of FREE MP3s.

Click here to hear “Just Want to See Ya” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the song title below. Amazon is offering a different free track.

“Just Want to See Ya” (MP3)
More on this album

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A free Latin Soul Syndicate download

I first blogged about San Francisco’s Latin Soul Syndicate during last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month.

Well, they got a brand new album out... “Chicano Connection.”

Click here to hear a cut called “Mezcla Africano” on my Vox blog. To download it as a FREE MP3, click the title below.

“Mezcla Africano” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

In my younger days

An old buddy of mine, Bill Castronuovo, recently hit me with an old snapshot, circa 1991. That’s me toiling on one of Bill’s old Mac Classics, producing my short-lived fanzine UNCUT FUNK.

Yeah, I’ve been nerding out on music for a looong time. If I were to try that beard again, it’d be more gray than brown.

Saturday morning cartoon

I can’t understand what’s being said. But this Cuban cartoon harshly disses James Cason, the senior U.S. Foreign Service officer in Cuba from 2002 to 2005.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Playlist: Los Lobos side projects

This week the new ballot of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees was announced: Kiss, Red Hot Chili Peppers, ABBA, Genesis, LL Cool J, Donna Summer, Laura Nyro, Darlene Love, the Stooges, the Hollies, the Chantels and Jimmy Cliff.

Five of them will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year. New Jerseyites are saying: “Where’s Bon Jovi?” I’m saying: “Where’s Los Lobos?”

Are Los Lobos not a Hall-of-Fame band? Shoooot... even their side projects are smokin’. Click these links to stream selected tracks on my Vox blog:

1. “Cuca’s Blues” – Latin Playboys

2. “Howling Moon” – Los Cenzontles & David Hidalgo

3. “Tough to Handle” – Cesar Rosas

4. “Teresa” – Los Super Seven

5. “All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints (Early Version)” – Paul Simon
(Read the hilarious behind-the-scenes tale of this “Graceland” track on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog. Thanks, Bay Radical!)

A free Susana Baca download

By now I have uploaded more than 1,500 sound files to my Vox blog... most of them music tracks. And I dare say the best singer I’ve ever featured is Susana Baca. (I blogged about her here and here.)

Ms. Baca has a new EP out on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. It’s called “Seis Poemas.” And I have a FREE MP3 for you.

Click here to hear “El Bosque Armado (La Canoa).” To download it, click the title below.

“El Bosque Armado (La Canoa)” (MP3)
EP available at iTunes Music Store

Anne-Marie Johnson update

Three weeks ago, I blogged about Anne-Marie Johnson’s campaign for the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild.

Well, the results are in. Anne-Marie lost.

Ken Howard (“The White Shadow”) was elected SAG president with 47 percent of the vote. Ms. Johnson pulled 33 percent, and Seymour Cassel got 18 percent.

After recent years of labor turmoil in Hollywood, Ken Howard was considered the “moderate” candidate.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Posted without comment

(Hat-tip: Denmark Vesey.)

A free Alejandro Escovedo download

Today’s FREE MP3 is from longtime hipster Alejandro Escovedo, whose famous musical family includes Sheila E. (his niece).

Escovedo took part in a tribute album for an unheralded singer- songwriter named Chris Gaffney, who died last year of liver cancer.

Click here to hear Escovedo’s version of “1968” on my Vox blog. To download it, follow this link to

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New jokes from Lisa Lampanelli

I am on record as being a fan of that filthy comic Lisa Lampanelli. But her appearance on “The Tonight Show” last night was pretty painful.

Lampanelli didn’t do her standup act. She was there to plug her new book... and to riff repeatedly on her fiancé’s “huge testicles.”

Conan O’Brien seemed uncomfortable, the audience was sometimes silent, and Johnny Carson probably spun in his grave. Wanna see for yourself? Follow this link to Hulu. I got the clip all cued up.

Lampanelli will be on Jimmy Kimmel’s show tomorrow... and will probably be funnier (though she’s at her best totally uncensored).

I didn’t catch Lisa Lampanelli’s HBO special in January. But the audio version of “Long Live the Queen” is available in MP3 form.

It is not a comedy masterpiece, that’s for sure. But I feel compelled to share with you her brief excursion into political humor. Click here to hear Ms. Lampanelli crack on President Obama and Sarah Palin. (Warning: The language gets rough.)

A free Miguel Zenón download

Speaking of MacArthur Fellowships, watch me segue slickly back to Hispanic Heritage Month.

Alto sax man Miguel Zenón, a native son of Puerto Rico, received a $500,000 “genius grant” last year.

And Zenón happens to be one of those generous jazz cats who gives away FREE MP3s of his live performances. (Halfway decent sound quality, too.)

I want to highlight an 11-minute piece called “The Chain,” performed six years ago in Conakry, Guinea. Click here to stream it on my Vox blog. It’s more fusiony than Zenón’s usual stroke.

To download “The Chain,” follow this link to Miguel Zenón’s live downloads page, then scroll down a little. If you’re on a Mac, CTRL+click the download link.

Zenón also has a brand new studio album out (on Branford Marsalis’s label, Marsalis Music). It’s called “Esta Plena,” with Zenón exploring the African-rooted folk music of his homeland... plena music.

Click here to hear “Qué Será de Puerto Rico?”

Congratulations, Edwidge Danticat.

Edwidge Danticat, the Haitian-born American novelist, yesterday received a MacArthur Fellowship – the so-called “genius grant.” She’ll receive $500,000, no strings attached... just for being talented.

A list of all the 2009 MacArthur Fellows is here.

Below is a 2-minute video introduction to Ms. Danticat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lawrence Auster, my favorite Jewboy

Yes, I continue to read Lawrence Auster’s idiosyncratically ultra- conservative blog. It is immensely entertaining.

I even donated some cash during one of Larry’s recent panhandling campaigns. But the prideful fucker rejected my money!

(You can read his detailed explanation as to why, if you care to.)

One of the nuttiest aspects of Larry Auster’s career as a self-styled public intellectual is... he spends most of his time and energy attacking fellow conservatives.

Yesterday he crossed a line into ethnic name-calling, referring to David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, as a “Jewboy.”

This so offended some of Auster’s readers, he eventually removed the reference from his blog. But not before posting an earnest defense of himself this morning... arguing that he was right to call Mr. Frum a “Jewboy.” (“If I am being brutal toward him... he deserves it.”)

I copied all that stuff. Just in case.

Before I share it with you (and with future Google searchers), let me point out that Lawrence Auster himself is an ethnic Jew (and a staunch defender of Israel), though he converted to Christianity and is now a devout Anglican.

Mr. Auster also has denounced conservative writers more famous than himself – specifically Pat Buchanan and Paul Craig Roberts – for being “very close” to anti-Semitic. (Even though they’ve never called anyone a “Jewboy” in print.)

So here’s the deal. Auster yesterday put up a post slamming David Frum for, among other things, attacking Rush Limbaugh in a Newsweek essay last spring.

At the end of the post, Auster called Frum a “little Jewboy on the make”... which is a quote from Mordecai Richler’s novel “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.” Auster’s point was that David Frum “will do anything to advance himself.”

A reader asked Auster to remove the “Jewboy on the make” line... because it is “reprehensible, cringe-making, and not fair.”

Auster responded that it was not “some terrible expression.” “First, a ‘Jewboy’ is simply a Jew. Yes, the term is used by some people in a derogatory manner, but when I was growing up it was mainly a humorous term of affection used by one Jew about another.... It is not the Jewish equivalent of the ‘N’ word.”

Furthermore, Auster wrote, “think of the way [Frum] portrayed Rush Limbaugh.... It was an act of total treason and aggression against the conservative movement. Why then does he deserve any particular consideration in the way that he’s discussed?”

In finally erasing the word “Jewboy” from his post, Auster wrote: “I personally felt that the description, in the context in which I had presented it, was defensible, and I defended it. However, I also believe that to create offense unnecessarily is wrong.”

Cool. Now if only this douchebag could stop calling black people “savages.”

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Get It Up for Love’

Nuyorican R&B singer Tata Vega cut a few LPs for Motown in the late 1970s, but never burned up the charts.

For the past 25 years, Ms. Vega has been an active session vocalist, backing the likes of Ray Charles, Patti Austin, Melissa Manchester, Elton John, Julio Iglesias and Joe Cocker.

She’s also a “contemporary Christian” artist in her own right.

One of Tata Vega’s standout disco records was “Get It Up for Love” (1979). She sounds kinda Chaka Khanish on this track. Coincidentally, it was co-produced by André Fischer, Chaka’s old bandmate in Rufus.

(A further coincidence: Ned Doheny, who wrote “Get It Up for Love,” also co-wrote “What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me”... made famous by none other than Chaka Khan.)

Anyways... Viva Boricua!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Playlist: Covers en español

The melodies will sound familiar. But you won’t understand the words... unless you speak Spanish. Because I’m streaming Spanish- language covers on my Vox blog! Click ’n’ enjoy.

And if you know any other good ones, let me know. I’ll keep this thang going in the comments section.

1. “La Ultima Milla” (“Folsom Prison Blues”) – Mingo Saldivar

2. “Todo Negro”
(“Paint It Black”) – Los Salvajes

3. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

4. “Todo Lo Que El Hace”
(“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”) – Soraya

5. “Yo Viviré”
(“I Will Survive”) – Celia Cruz

A free Roberto Gell download

This being Hispanic Heritage Month, I can’t leave the Dominicans out. Roberto Gell is a Dominican-American reggae artist based in Southern California.

Click here to hear “Work Hard” streaming on my Vox blog. This cut is from Gell’s 2009 EP “Midnight Ravers.”

To download it as a FREE MP3, click the song title below.

“Work Hard” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Random Hispanicness

A free Mijangos download

Andres Mijangos – known professionally as Mijangos – is a club DJ, remixer and record producer from Acapulco, Mexico. He is said to have spreaded house music throughout Latin America.

I have a FREE MP3 of a Mijangos remix for you.

The 2009 track “Que Belleza” is from a Hungarian techno artist known as Naga. To hear the “Mijangos Latin Soul Mix,” click here.

To download it, click the title below.

“Que Belleza (Mijangos Latin Soul Mix)” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roc Raida (1972-2009)

Roc Raida (Anthony Williams), a pioneer of turntablism, has reportedly died at the age of 37.

Rapper Busta Rhymes broke the news via Twitter. He wrote: “I am sorry 2 say that on this day at 2:05 Sept 19th we lost another incredible life...Dj Roc Raida died 2day my personal Dj is gone...” reports that Roc Raida’s family has confirmed his passing. According to a family statement, Raida’s death was the result of a recent “mixed martial arts accident.”

Roc Raida was a founding member of the X-ecutioners, one of the first DJ crews to get a record deal.

I’m not deep into turntablism. But the first X-ecutioners album (“X-pressions”) was one of my earliest downloads when I subscribed to eMusic back in 2001. And I like that album.

In honor of Roc Raida, let me spin one of his tracks off of “X-pressions.” Click here to hear “One Man Band” on my Vox blog.

UPDATE (09/20/09): There’s much video on YouTube of Roc Raida on the wheels of steel. This clip shows him demonstrating the art form in Japan in 1999:

UBM’s World of Glamour and Fame

I flew back to L.A. last night after a week of intense and fruitful story meetings in New Orleans.

Seated behind me on the plane was Byron Scott, a former Laker from the “Showtime” era. Scott won three NBA Championships alongside Magic and Kareem.

He is now head coach of the New Orleans Hornets.

I didn’t recognize him. But one economy passenger did... as soon as he boarded. Dude smiled and said, “Mr. Scott, can we trade seats?”

Something else cute happened. While Byron Scott was getting situated, his wife remembered that she left her cell phone in the departure lounge, recharging. Scott went out and got it.

I woulda been like, “Bitch, you left it out there, you go get it!” But Byron Scott was cool about it.

He was also gracious enough to share fist-bumps with a couple of young cats when we got off the plane at LAX... airline employees waiting behind empty wheelchairs. Made their night, no doubt.

A free Doña Maria download

To Buenos Aires we go for today’s FREE MP3... from a pop/folk band called Doña Maria.

Click here to hear “El Pescador” streaming on my Vox blog. To download it, click the title below.

“El Pescador” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Saturday morning cartoon

Friday, September 18, 2009

A free Luis Enrique download

Nominations for the Latin Grammy Awards were announced yesterday.

One nominee for Album of the Year is “Ciclos” by Nicaraguan-born salsa singer Luis Enrique.

I got a FREE MP3 for you. And it sounds hot to me.

Click here to hear “Sonríe” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the song title below.

“Sonríe” (MP3)
More on this album

Random silliness

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A free Bernie Williams download

Only recently did I discover that Bernie Williams, former New York Yankee outfielder, is a successful jazz musician.

Dude has four World Series rings, and now he’s kicking it in the studio with Ruben Blades, Béla Fleck and Springsteen. How cool is that?

And because Bernie Williams is Puerto Rican, it works that I waited until now – during Hispanic Heritage Month – to highlight a FREE MP3 off his latest album.

Williams is a guitarist in the style of Earl Klugh. Click here to hear “Go For It,” featuring guest player Mike Stern (a better guitarist). If you wanna download this track, click the title below.

“Go For It” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

Playlist: UBM’s Latino Laffeteria

As Hispanic Heritage Month continues, let us enjoy a joke or two from some of America’s top Latino comedians. Click the track titles below to stream the funny on my Vox blog.

1. “Kids and Sports” – Willie Barcena

2. “He Doesn’t Speak Spanish” – Al Madrigal

3. “Mentos & Mexicans” – Pablo Francisco

4. “Latino Television” – Gabriel Iglesias

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrity Tweets of the Day!

(Below are actual Twitter posts from earlier today.)

Bill Cosby: “I agree with President Carter that racism is playing a role in recent outbursts against President Obama.”

Roland Martin: “It’s that kind of day! Turn to CNN’s Headline News now! We’re discussing, what else? President Jimmy Carter, race and President Obama.”

Al Sharpton: “I am still in las vegas. I appear live tonight on CNN LARRY KING show at 9 pm est tonight from vegas.”

Melissa Harris-Lacewell: “Who is loving Jimmy Carter? I am! He is seriously not playing: I live in the South fools, I know racism when I see it.”

Melissa Harris-Lacewell: “Get your MHL fix all over TV tonight. 6:15PM PBS NewsHour w/ Gwen Ifill & 8:15PM MSNBC Countdown w/ Olbermann.”

The new Living Colour album

I mentioned two months ago that it was coming. Yesterday, Living Colour’s new CD – “The Chair in the Doorway” – arrived in stores.

Click here to hear my favorite cut (based on first impressions). It’s called “Bless Those.”

Random hotness

Yes, UBM is your Hispanic Heritage Month headquarters on the worldwide internets!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A free Salvador Santana download

Speaking of Carlos Santana... did you know that his son, Salvador, is in the music business? (I did not.) He’s a Bay Area keyboard player and bandleader.

Salvador Santana has a new single out. A FREE MP3, in fact... featuring guest rapper GZA.

Click here to hear “Keyboard City (Hood Internet Remix).” To download it, follow this link to RCRD LBL.

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Jingo’

Today is September 15th, the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. On this blog, that means we’ll be celebrating the music of Hispanic and/or Latino artists for the next four weeks.

Let’s start with this 12-incher from Cuban percussionist Candido.

Befriended by Dizzy Gillespie, Candido Camero took the jazz world by storm in the 1950s. He recorded with the likes of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Wes Montgomery.

Then, for some reason, in 1979 he recorded a disco album. And Candido’s version of “Jingo” (a Nigerian tune popularized by Santana) became a dance-music classic.

Candido, at age 88, is still performing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A free Janet Jackson download

Janet Jackson last night used Twitter to point her fans to a FREE MP3.

Click here to hear “Make Me” on my Vox blog. To download it, follow this link.

Random blackness

(Thanks, Lisa.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Celebrity Tweets of the Day!

(While the U.S. Open was rain-delayed – again – Serena Williams killed time today on Twitter, tweeting a bunch of her fans... and making their day!

(Like one particular teenager named Amanda Nicholson...)

Amanda Nicholson: “@serenajwilliams Hi Ms. Serena you are an inspriation to me I’m an tennis player and a new business owner please check out:

Serena Williams: “@InuGome25 Congrats! How are you?”

Amanda Nicholson: “@serenajwilliams omg! you replied! I’m great! i love tennis i watched you play you are amazing. the site i showed you was all built by me”

Amanda Nicholson: “@serenajwilliams and I’m not trying to target you for publicity or something. thats low. im just a 14 yr old girl with a dream.”

Amanda Nicholson: “@serenajwilliams lol some people think your trying to use them! but since your my inspiration anyway I was hoping your very nice”

Serena Williams: “@InuGome25 Well, of course. What did you expect!!!”

Amanda Nicholson: “OMG. Serena Williams amazing tennis star actually answered my tweet. I swear I started tearing up!”

Saturday morning cartoon

Eight months ago, I posted an enchanting clip from Nina Paley’s animated feature “Sita Sings the Blues.”

Well... embedded below is the complete 81-minute movie. Ms. Paley has made “Sita Sings the Blues” freely available to the public. A beautiful gesture befitting a beautiful work of art. (It is also funny and has lots of good music.)

Please enjoy as much of it now as your time allows.