Tag Archives: accordion

Beirut – Elephant Gun (2007)

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Ten years ago, Beirut were in their pomp. Originally a musical project of Santa Fe native Zach Condon, the band’s first performance was in New York in May 2006, to support the release of their debut album, Gulag Orkestar. By January 2007,  they carried their critical acclaim into the release of their first EP Lon Gisland. Its opening track ‘Elephant Gun’ again combined elements of indie rock and world music so successfully. Prodigious stuff; Condon was still only 20. Have a great week.

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Les Négresses Vertes – Voilà L’été (1988)

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Les Négresses Vertes

I was reminded of the troupe Les Négresses Vertes the other day. All fusion and very 1980s – the accordion, punk, guinguette and flea-market shenanigans. It was rather chic in its own way, but the cabaret was evidently masking something rather sad. In 1993, vocalist and band leader Helno was found dead by overdose in his mother’s Parisian apartment – from whence he came. It was fun while it lasted, peut-être. ‘Voilà L’été!’

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Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Mondo Bongo (2001)

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Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

‘Mondo Bongo’ is the mellow sound of Joe Strummer and his Mescaleros (and an accordion). It can be found on their genre-mixing album Global a Go-Go. A great way to start the weekend.

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Astor Piazzolla – Libertango (1974)

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Astor Piazzolla

Written and played on bandoneon by an Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla, ‘Libertango’ is tango classic. But I didn’t know that when I first heard the tune as the backdrop to Grace Jones’s ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’ – her spoken journey through a Parisian nightlife. It was the mid 1980s and Jones’ 1981 album Nightclubbing remained an art-dance-pop template. That was many moons ago and I am now more drawn to the source. Those familiar with my blog will know that I am quite taken with the sound of the accordion – my ignorance means that I should really include the concertina, bayan and bandoneon in my broad definition. The latter provides a wonderful accompaniment to Yo-Yo Ma’s cello from his 1997 homage to Ástor Piazzolla.

 

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Beirut – Santa Fe (2011)

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Beirut’s Zach Condon released his debut album The Gulag Orkestar at the age of 19, having been inspired by the Balkan folk music he heard on his gap year travels. That’s youthful confidence for you. By his third long player The Rip Tide, you can still hear the frilly brass and accordions, but throw in a Talking Heads riff and you have ‘Santa Fe’. A song for a sunny day. We need one of those in Blighty soon (and perhaps their boat).

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MF Doom – Accordion (2004)

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MF Doom

Another purveyor of the alter ego, Daniel Dumile has had a number of masks: MF Doom, Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, Metal Face, Metal Fingers and The Super Villain. As MF Doom, he released the album Madvillainy. It was a collaboration with beatmaster Madlib and his unconventional samples. The second track ‘Accordion’ features a looped squeezebox that creates a wall of sound. But MF Doom’s rhymes are sent forth, seemingly unaware of any such barrier. And what’s more, there are no lazy, throwaway hooks in there. In 2004, this was exemplar hip hop. Have a great weekend.

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Mano Negra – Mala Vida (1988)

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Before the ‘Bongo Bong’ of his first solo album Clandestino, Manu Chao was fronting the French band Mano Negra (Black Hand). They were big on the European and Latin American continents, but did not break the US or the UK, despite their evident love of rockabilly and The Clash. The sound of punk rock and flamenco is an intoxicating mix. ‘Mala Vida’ shows them off at their energetic best. Gogol Bordello would go on to cover ‘Mala Vida’, if you like the idea of an accordion thrown in too.

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Yann Tiersen – La Valse d’Amélie (2001)

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Slight change of pace now. The soundtrack of the movie Amélie is laced with several versions of ‘La Valse…’ It is Yann Tiersen’s sensational original with his signature accordion that best fits the scenery of the movie. And don’t get me started about Audrey Tautou. Music and beauty.

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