Archive for May, 2007|Monthly archive page

mySpace music trail – Xavier Rudd, Vusi Mahlasela, Jem

In jem, music, music trail, myspace, review, sapo sueno, vusi mahlasela, walnotes, xavier rudd on May 29, 2007 at 8:15 am

I checked my bulletins today on my own mySpace page. There were two from Sapo Sueno and one from Xavier Rudd. I reviewed Sapo Sueno recently. They are having a CD release party on June 7th in Modesto, CA. So they are promoting it by sending out random bulletins like “Taco Time. Anybody want to go taco truck?” Not a bad idea when you consider that one of their songs plays when you open the bulletin.

So when I opened the bulletin message from Xavier Rudd I instantly assumed his promotion of a new song (Choices) on his page would have a song playing in the bulletin. It didn’t happen.

Now that I’m on Xavier Rudd’s page though I’ll start my mySpace music trail here.

ArtistXavier Rudd

The song (Choices) is the first song on his playlist. It has the melodic delivery and smooth voice of a classic Xavier Rudd tune. As usual there’s a message within the poetic lyrics, although he doesn’t come across as preachy. I love the fact that Xavier is a hugely successful artist in Australia and he’s still rooted with good intentions for this world. He hasn’t lost his soul to the industry.

The second song is (Messages). It starts of with soft, slowly sung lyrics. Don’t be fooled away by this. When the Weissenborn slide guitar and foot powered stomp box start up you can’t help but remember the first time you saw Xavier play live. When the song’s tempo picks up the whole crowd starts nodding their head to both the beat and lyrics as they sing along. “You know some people they just won’t understand these things. Thank you for your message but I don’t understand these things.” When I saw him play in Byron Bay a year ago this song left an impression on me. Xavier sings of the troubles facing the indigenous, Aboriginal people of Australia. It’s as if the world has a second chance to protect the Native Americans as we screwed it up the first time around.

The third song is (Fortune Teller). Immediately you get to hear Xavier’s didgeridoo skills. He’s a one man band playing didgeridoo rather than kazoo. The lap guitar and foot drum (stomp box) drive the music further into intensity. Imagine Ben Harper back in the day when he played live shows with real intensity. Mix that with Jack Johnson’s voice and that’s Xavier Rudd live! This recorded version has the same feel as a studio version of a Ben Harper song. The comparisons run strong.

The fourth song right now is (Energy Song). It starts with a quick snare drum pacing the guitar melody. Xavier’s voice comes through and later the digiridoo again. I think this song is about environmental consciousness wrapped up with a beautiful tune that’s easy on the ears and keeps moving briskly along.

Go to Xavier Rudd’s bio page. It’s well worth the read. Also check the tour dates. He’s coming to The Attic in Santa Cruz on June 27. I will be there if I can make it!

From Xavier Rudd’s top friends I chose Vusi Mahlasela. It turns out he’s from South Africa. Neat. A quick Yahoo! Search (a Yearch!) suggests that Vusi Mahlasela is more than just a random musician. He won the “Best Male Artist of the Year” award in the South African Music Awards. His most recent album was just released in March and has guest appearances by Xavier Rudd, Dave Matthews, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo…all names you should know, or get to know.

ArtistVusi Mahlasela

The first song is (Jabula). It starts out with guitars singing in a round. Then a whistle joins the round. Later the singing starts and it’s in another language. It doesn’t sound like Afrikaans. The song is easy to listen to and has a quick pace. I recommend checking it out.

The second song from Vusi is (Heaven in My Heart). It’s an English language song that starts out sounding like an old Irish tale with an almost Caribbean feel, a new sound for me. The song is beautifully arranged and upbeat. I’m not sure it’s my taste but for those who dig it I’m sure it’s great. You know, even I dig it.

The third song is (Thula Mama). I love this song! It’s blunt, filled with skatting, and wonderful lyric delivery. Not to mention it has a good message. “Tomorrow is gonna be better. Thula Mama. My hero mama.” I’m not sure if some of the skatting might actually be lyrics in another language. Either way I like it.

The fourth song is (Everytime). Vusi’s folk/world/blues/soul style comes through on this track. I would consider this song both radio and cafe friendly. This is the kind of song that comes on and people perk up their ears and wonder who it is. “It sounds like someone but I can’t put my finger on it,” they’ll say. Enjoy the song for what it is, I say.

From Vusi Mahlasela’s top friends I chose to click on Jem. She is one of the guest performers on one of Vusi’s tracks. I’ve never heard of her so let’s check her out. Her profile info has a funny line on it. “Sounds Like: me!”


The first track (Come On Closer) sounds cool from the start. It’s got a beat Jay-Z could write. Jem’s lines are a beat shorter than the measure, so each line is separate from the next. It works. This song seems like it would be a good fit at a house party. Stack it between two songs while you’re looking for the next record. The room keeps moving while you do your thing.

The second track (They) is something I’m familiar with. I recognize the beat. Who produced this track? It’s got to be someone famous, or famous now. “I’m sorry. So sorry. It’s like this. I’m sorry. So sorry. They do this.” Those lines are the chorus. You’ve probably heard the song before but never new it was Jem. Or maybe that’s just me. I love the choir-esque background loop.

The third track is (Just A Ride). It’s like a folk song with an electronica background. This is a song you’d listen to at work to make the day keep moving. “It’s just a ride, just a ride.” There’s nothing too spectacular about the song except that it’s cool in a subtle way. Check it out, at work, to make the day go by. : P

The fourth, and final, track is (24). I love the orchestrated loop in the background. The singing is spot on. This song is radio friendly. I’m not sure I’ve listened to any of the lyrics. Oh wait, I’m tuning in for a second. The song has meaning. I like it for other reasons though.

Today’s mySpace music trail started with the Australian superstar Xavier Rudd. Then I checked out Vusi Mahlasela. It turned out Xavier Rudd appeared on Vusi’s latest release. And by curiosity alone I checked out Jem. She too performed on Vusi’s latest CD release.

All three artists are worth listening to, each of them in their own style.