Konono No. 1
Even in a age of infinite electronic modulation, it's rare to come across a sound you've never heard before. But there has never been anything quite like the distorted likembés, or thumb pianos, played by the Congolese band Konono No. 1. Fed through microphones made from auto parts, their compressed, tuneful buzzing does for traditional West African music what Ike Turner's shattered amplifier did for the electric guitar.
Although the band is led by septuagenarian Mawangu Mingiedi, its minimalist, massively danceable rhythms have found favor with electro-minimalists and noise rockers, not least of them Björk, who wove them into the fabric of her Timbaland-produced new single, "Earth Intruders."
- Sam Adams
Peter, Bjorn and John
One dose of Peter, Bjorn and John's "Young Folks," and it's stuck to the brain like bubblegum to a fashionably retro sneaker. With its descending whistle line, frantic bongos and adenoidal duet between Peter Moren and guest Victoria Bergsman of fellow Swedes the Concretes, the song is twee as, well, as twee can be. That's a good thing, but there's more to
PB&J's third album, including Magnetic Fields-like synth-pop, My Bloody Valentine-style wall-of-guitars, and plenty of bouncy, bittersweet power-pop. It's all done with unassuming ease and modest humor as Moren trades instruments and vocals with Bjorn Yttling and John Eriksson. PB&J top an attractively diverse bill with the catchy Krautrock of Brits Fujiya & Miyagi and the perky synth-pop of Brooklyn's Au Revoir Simone.
- Steve Klinge
The recent re-branding of the Theatre of the Living Arts as the Fillmore Philadelphia has met with a fair amount of confusion and even derision in some quarters. Sure, it gave the spot a good refurbishing, but why did the place get saddled with a name that recalls long-gone New York and San Francisco rock eras? Maybe it's appropriate that Upper Darby native Todd Rundgren is the first musician to perform there under its new name. The mercurial pop auteur has made plenty of odd career choices, perhaps none as peculiar as his recent stint fronting the New Cars. Now Rundgren is back as a solo artist, backed by session veterans Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), and Jerry Marotta (Gabriel, Indigo Girls).
- Michael Pelusi