Does anyone remember that cheesy commercial for Maxwell House's International Cafés line from back in the day? You know the one I'm talking about. Two old friends are reminiscing about a trip they took senior year to Paris after sipping on some vanilla-infused coffee. (It was pre-Starbucks probably.) Anyway, it was a terrible commercial that ended with them remembering the name of the waiter at that cafe --- "Jean-Luc!" That little trip down commercial memory lane is brought to you for no reason other than for me to set up today's A-Sides with a band with a world view. (See what I did there? Yes, it's called an intentionally bad segue.) Rupa & The April Fishes have nothing to do with coffee, but its members (Rupa -- guitar, vocals; Mario Alberto Silva -- trumpet; Aaron Kierbel -- percussion, contraptions; Safa Shokrai -- upright bass; and Misha Khalikulov -- cello) are from all over though they currently call San Francisco home. The band's lead singer Rupa -- by the way -- has been singled out by NPR as having a voice "like sips of hot coffee with bits of spiced cake." See, that segue above wasn't as crappy as once thought.
Anyway, Rupa & The April Fishes are really a unique band with a jazzy, rock, and funkish soul, and I was delighted to catch up with them at the Music Conservatory of Westchester to film an A-Sides session on Oct. 2, which just so happened to be the release date of their new album 'BUILD.' Below, they perform "Weeds" and talk about it. This is for you, Jean-Luc.
Like Rupa, Brooklyn's Krissy Krissy has a distinct voice that stands out in a crowd, and by crowd, I mean a music industry with a bunch of pretenders and clones. A veteran who hasn't even cracked her mid-20's yet, Krissy Krissy has already charted the Top 10 on I Heart Radio with her debut "Dream," and placed on MTV with its Freshman Pick of the Week. Furthermore, her videos on Vevo and YouTube have a lot more hits than any of my videos on Vevo and YouTube. To be fair, however, I don't have any up on Vevo. Anyway, Krissy-squared learned to sing in the church, and honed her skills at karaoke bars all over. Her covers of tunes got her some notice as did one special night at a karaoke bar -- which I'll let her tell you about in the video below. The singer/songwriter just released a six-song EP called Above All, and its first single "Suspicious" is gaining some buzz. Watch her perform that track below, and talk about her career below. Watch. Listen. Love.
Rounding out A-Sides this week are two cover songs below that really are the bees knees -- what a dumb expression since bees don't have knees. The Easy Star All-Stars treat us with an exclusive performance filmed in NYC of two Michael Jackson tracks of their latest album Thrillah. Like their other LPs, the reggae band reinterprets favorite songs of ours and makes it their own. You may remember their awesome reggae tributes to Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and The Beatles, yes? Yes.
About A-Sides with Jon Chattman
Jon Chattman's music series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing.