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In 1970, Canada via Philadelphia singer / songwriter Beverly Glenn-Copeland cut his first two records. One self-titled, the other just called Beverly Copeland, on both discs he creates an intense and intimate dialogue amongst backdrops of desolate blues, rambling folk, serpentine jazz, and luminescent classical rhapsodies. With a powerfully earnest and transfixing androgynous vocal spectrum, his three-octave range reaches through despairing lows, spirited outsider-pop affirmations, and soaring operatic dramas.

It was at the age of three that Beverly Glenn-Copeland announced he was a boy, a proclamation met with immediate dismissal by his parents. It wasn’t until sixteen years ago – at the age of 58 – that Glenn-Copeland fully transitioned into a man. His artistry was to endure. “I have always loved to be able to sing in a feminine way, in a sound that was very feminine, as well as a sound that was very masculine,” Glenn-Copeland told the CBC last year. “And I refuse to give that up because otherwise, I can’t completely express the total spectrum of emotion, from my perspective.”

Nonetheless, he seemingly wouldn’t record again for sixteen years. Instead, he wrote for Sesame Street. Appeared regularly on the Canadian children’s show Mr. Dressup. He infused love and positivity into the world, and in 1986, re-emerged with Keyboard Fantasies, a minimalist electronic masterpiece that finds Glenn-Copeland conquering a brave new world in an assuredly singular ambient expression.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland :: Sunset Village

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New label Kith & Kin comes storming out of the gate with a downright dazzling compilation of fresh cosmic American sounds, featuring stellar work from many of the scene’s leading lights and upcoming talents. It’s pretty safe to say that if you’re a reader of this website, you’re going to find a lot to like here.

Freedom of the Press is not only an expertly put-together and flow-tastic hour of music (with art by AD’s own Darryl Norsen to boot), it’s also for a good cause, which you can guess from the comp’s title. All proceeds are going straight to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization that protects and defends adversarial journalism — a resource that, sadly, is more important than ever in the 21st century. The highlights are too many to name, but I’m especially loving Wooden Wand’s swirly, Lennon-esque “Hall of Mirrors,” the Weather Station’s vigorous live version of “Thirty” and 75 Dollar Bill’s crunchy “WZN #1 (Olives In The Ears).” Maybe best of all is the track that kicks the whole thing off in fine fashion — Trummors’ hazed “Peacock Angel,” which cruises through the desert on a wave of gorgeous harmonies and burnt pedal steel. words / t wilcox

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It’s July, which means it’s time to check in with the third largest of the four Greater Antilles. Enter Bomboclat! Island Soak, Volume 8 – another batch of seasoned sides from the private collection of John Mascarenhas.

Bomboclat! Island Soak 8 :: Jamaican Vintage (A Mixtape)

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Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

Celestial Shore veteran Sam Owens returned last month via, You, Forever – his second lp under the nom de tune Sam Evian. Like his 2016 debut, the record is another slice of elegant 70s leaning rock and pop, as evidenced by his Lagniappe selections. Paying tribute to circa ’74 John Cale and Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend”, Evian’s north American tour lifts off later this week at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Owens in his own words, below.

Sam Evian :: You Know More Than I Know (John Cale)

I love songs that feel like circles. This song just keeps going. It probably has too many verses, but who cares. The first time I hung out with my partner Hannah, we drove around NYC listening to Fear, John Cale’s fourth solo record. I was pretty taken with her. So a week later I had a late night in the studio with some friends, and I convinced them to play through this tune. I’ve lost the multitrack to this recording. All I have is this stereo bounce that I made late late that night.

Sam Evian :: Unknown Legend (Neil Young)

Hannah and I learned this tune on our road trip across the country last Fall. We had Neil’s tape in the car, and we put it in right as we were coming down into this long flat desert valley. There was a big dust cloud in the distance. As “Unknown Legend” came in to its second chorus, we realized the dust was being kicked up by a handful of cowboys, herding a few hundred cattle through the desert. They were the first people we had seen for at least a hundred miles.

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As we approach the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, where hippies, Black Panthers, the MC5, and many others clashed spectacularly with The Man, few figures seem more worthy of reexamination than Jerry Rubin. Along with his compatriot Abbie Hoffman, Rubin helped articulate the voice of young America, employing vibrant and often satirical approaches that utilized performance art and provocation. The inside story of this counter-culture icon, anti-war activist, and all-around troublemaker comes to life in Pat Thomas’ Did It! From Yippie to Yuppie, which traces Rubin’s journey from high school journalist to stoned political freak and beyond. Speaking with 75 of Jerry’s closest peers, many of whom have never spoken openly about their experiences until now, Thomas creates a compelling, detailed narrative. It’s history, but a wild adventure too.

Thomas, a member of the psychedelic collection Mushroom and author of essential collections like Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974 and Invitation to Openness: The Jazz & Soul Photography of Les McCann, walked us through assembling this intense look at Rubin’s life.

Aquarium Drunkard: What attracted you to Jerry Rubin’s story? He was a household name, yet Abbie Hoffman became more well known. Why not Rubin?

Pat Thomas: Over the past 30 years, there have been about six different books about Abbie Hoffman, [but] there’s never been one about Jerry Rubin until now. That’s like saying there have been six John Lennon biographies published, but nobody has ever done a McCartney book. During the 1960s, Jerry & Abbie were joined at the hip, the co-leaders of the Yippies (Youth International Party), both equally pissing off Republicans, squares, and people who loved that America was killing people in Vietnam.

AD: How did you gain access to Jerry’s archives?

Pat Thomas: I won the respect of Rubin’s family when they saw my first book Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, coupled with the fact that nobody else had ever expressed serious interest in digging through the thousands of photos, documents, letters, journals, and newspaper clippings spanning from the 1950s until his death in the early 1990s. Jerry kept letters from Yoko Ono, [members of the] Weather Underground, Eldridge Cleaver, Abbie Hoffman, Norman Mailer, and more. His own writings were also essential, since I couldn’t interview him. He wrote notes to himself all the time that I could reference.

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To become one of the best American funk bands of the 1970s, the Lafayette Afro Rock Band had to leave the country. After forming on Long Island in 1970, the group surveyed the landscape: Funkadelic had released their self-titled debut and would soon drop Maggot Brain; Sly Stone was a year removed from Stand! and was prepping There’s a Riot Goin’ On; Curtis was in the world; James Brown was Soul Brother No. 1. Funk was proving that its pliability went beyond its grooves: free your mind, and you know the rest.

So their asses followed to Paris, where a strong African immigrant community thrived in Barbès, a hard neighborhood adjacent to Montmartre in the north of the city. There, the group encountered concepts of percussion they’d never seen in the U.S., and by the time of 1974’s Soul Makossa, they’d learned to weave their flinty funk around the rhythms of their new neighborhood.

Unlike most hybridizations, it’s not terribly difficult to find the seams joining the Lafayette Afro Rock Band’s major influences. On the title track, a cover of Manu Dibango’s 1972 hit, drummer Donny Donable hammers away at his high-hats, almost holding the song still while percussionists Keno Speller and Arthur Young spin around him in circles. The horns, though, come together with a kind of bright uniformity so clean that it seems impossible they’re working in tandem with the clattering drums. You can practically point at the parts here and label their origin. Hand drums: West Africa. Stacked brass: East Bay.

They expand the idea on “Azeta,” whose horn lines are so shiny and clear they may as well be a recording of the USC Trojan Marching Band. If the influence of the Family Stone is evident in Michael McEwan’s guitar in “Oglenon,” the marathon drumming that underpins and eventually overtakes it pulls the song away from Woodstock and into The Shrine.

 Lafayette Afro Rock Band :: Hihache

But it’s the opening bars of “Hihache” that would cement their legacy. They’re not complicated. Donable plays a simple pattern by himself. The way he swings the kick drum and the languid pace make it sound like the song is stumbling forward and recovering every few beats. With that high-hat, snare, kick combo, Donable has played several hundred songs at once. The “Hihache” intro is one of the most sampled cuts of all time, having been used by everyone from Biz Markie and Ice Cube to Flying Lotus (twice!) and ’N Sync, who used it to propel their megahit “Tearing Up My Heart.” It backs A Tribe Called Quest’s “Check the Rhime” and Wu Tang Clan’s “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ ta Fuck Wit.” Even Chris Rock used it to score a hit in “No Sex in the Champagne Room.” It’s the kind of beat that’s so iconic it seems originless, completely devoid of context; when bassist Lafayette Hudson begins to knock along and McEwan enters with a wisp of feedback, it’s hard not to think of the music they’re making as nothing more than the first in a long line of ideas to wrap themselves around the beat.

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Wherever he ends up musically, from his work with Hiss Golden Messenger to sitting down with gospel legends the Blind Boys of Alabama, guitarist Phil Cook seems to be smiling. But it’s on his solo albums, including 2011’s Hungry Mother Blues and 2015’s Southland Mission, that he seems most jubilant. That’s doubly true of his latest recording, People Are My Drug. If our present moment feels like a strange one for rollicking party music, well, that’s the point. On the lp, Cook doesn’t avoid reality —the standout cut, “Another Mother’s Son,” centers its gaze on police brutality against black people —but the Durham-based singer/songwriter clearly views his mission as a celebratory one, recognizing that the work required right now is good work to do. He’s here to share the kind of joy that transforms, to bask in it, and he invites the listener in.

Cook’s sound draws freely from America’s vast musical traditions, incorporating country, soul, folk, gospel, and the blues, but it’s his personal spirit always shines through. Singing songs like Randy Newman’s “He Gives Us All His Love” or the Allen Toussaint-via-James Booker jam “Life,” Cook inhabits the grooves. He’s chiefly and enthusiast, and on People Are My Drug, he indulges in messy, abundant humanity. We caught up with Cook while on tour with Hiss and dove into the heady space the album occupies.

Aquarium Drunkard: I think just about everyone I know considers the times we live in precarious. But People Are My Drug just radiates joy. How do you tap into that feeling in a time when it’s difficult for a lot of people to get to that place? Is it a struggle for you to get there yourself?

Phil Cook: I think it should be a struggle for anyone to clarify where they stand…We’re living in times when you really need to sort out how you feel about certain things. [You have to pay] attention to your gut; pay attention to the news; pay attention to your body and how it’s receiving all these things. A natural response to all of the last year has been anxiety. Fear, depression, despair. Generations go through these cycles, [times] where power threatens to destroy the things you hold dear. To destroy your perception of reality, your understanding of how society works.