Tuesday, March 3, 2015


On Wednesday, March 4, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun three itchy and scratchy hours of the choicest freshly unearthed Argentinian arias, melismatic madness from Malta, sweet sorrow on Swedish shellac, heavy Yiddish yawping, and much more. 

If you missed it, you can listen now in the archives, HERE

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


On Wednesday, February 25, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun three hours of music from al-Maġrib, from classic Berber, Chaabi, Gnawa + Malhun to psychedelic 70s superstars Les Frères Mégri and Nass El Ghiwane to the latest rai, rap, reggae + rock from the region.

Listen to the show in the archives

Josie Ho | Hell's Kitchen

Reupped a second time on Feb 25, 2015, here.

[Originally posted June 24, 2011.] A keen advantage of listening to "other" people's pop music is that, to the extent it's possible, doing so affords the listener at least the illusion of a far more visceral experience than listening to the music of one's own culture.

There is, alas, no such thing as a purely visceral experience--absent cultural, semiotic, etc., cues--not of anything human-made. We read, interpret, translate, bring our biases to everything. And everything is coded, even if we don't have the key, or have only part of it. There is, I'd argue, as a great a pleasure in completely misunderstanding something as there is in "getting" it--maybe even more so. Just ask the poets.

I bought the CD above--Hochiu (aka Josie Ho)'s "Hell's Kitchen"--in Manhattan's Chinatown one Saturday afternoon before straggling in to the Bowery Poetry Club to host a Segue Series reading. Once at the BPC, I spotted Franklin Bruno, a musician and music critic as well as a poet. I pulled out the CD in question, handed it to him and asked: "Okay, Franklin; you're an expert: What is this CD cover trying to tell us?"

Franklin chuckled a bit and then slowly flipped the CD cover back and forth a few times, before handing it back to me. "I'm picking up Patti Smith," he finally said.

As it turns out, despite "Hell's Kitchen"'s obvious nod to the cover of Patti Smith's "Horses," no one could be further from working-class androgynous hippy-dippy Romantic poet cum rock icon Patti Smith than Josie Ho. For one thing, Ho is the daughter of the purportedly richest man in Macau, casino tycoon Stanley Ho. The differences don't end with class background. Whereas Patti is also a poet, Josie is also a movie star. (And movie producer.) Whereas Patti's music is instantly recognizable for its shaggy, emotive intensity, Josie's music is slick, aggressive Canto rock and pop.

Look again into first Patti's eyes and then Josie's on those covers above. Patti looks soulful, vulnerable, almost frightened, even in what looks like "defiance." Josie looks something in between bored and simmering with sadistic energy. There's a way in which her cover feels as much of a nod to "A Clockwork Orange" as it is to "Horses." Take, for instance, this video, of "自衛術" ("Self-defense Art"), a song from the CD above, the only music video I'm aware of with a cake-fisting scene:

There aren't, to my knowledge, any other female pop artists who express this kind of energy (beyond the cake-fisting, I mean: the dancing with dogs in the tub, the messing with the fish, the singing to sock puppets, etc.). How, I want to know, do Hong Kongers "read" her? Is she a kind of Alex-from-Clockwork-Orange figure?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fatima Tihihit | CD 503


Reupped by reader request here.

Found in a little CD/cassette shop in Marrakesh a block or two south of Place Jemaa el Fna. The CD itself started to make horrible noises several months ago, rendering it useless. Thank to Tim at the mind-bendingly awesome music blog Moroccan Tape Stash, I was able to get the files I'd first posted back in April of 2011 of this terrific album, so now you can have them if you hadn't DLed it the first time around.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oulad El-Bouazzaoui | Milouda

Reupped by reader request, here.

[Originally posted on April 20, 2012.] Another of the many CDs I picked up while in Marrakech a few years ago. I think of this band as the Fezmatics, sort of like the Klezmatics--though, yes, I'm aware that that's the name of the production company or CD series and not the band. (And thanks to Hammer and Tim Abdellah for providing band and album name after this was originally posted -- for track list, see comments.)

I love the matching djellabas; it gives them a kind of early Beatles / Garage look that is oddly fitting with their music. (They are, after all, rawqin' Moroccans.)

Rais Omar Wahrouche | CD 5108

Reupped by special request on Feb 22, 2015, here.

[Originally posted on April 5, 2012.] I found this utterly fantastic CD in a little CD/cassette shop in Marrakesh a block or two south of Place Jemaa el Fna (where I also found this). 

I know nothing about the guy and there looks to be nothing in English about him on the Web anywhere. 

Perhaps Tim at Moroccan Tape Stash can fill us in the next time he stops in at the Bodega?

[Update: See comments for Hammer's track list and elucidation of the artist.]

Saturday, February 21, 2015


On Wednesday, February 25, from 7-10 PM ET, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio will spin three hours of music from al-Maġrib, from classic Berber, Chaabi, Gnawa & Malhun to psychedelic 70s superstars Les Frères Mégri and Nass El Ghiwane to the latest rai, rap, reggae & rock from the region.

Bookmark the page and see you Wednesday night!

Mahmoud Kania | Essaouira

Listen to track 1

Reupped the 16-track album here

[Originally posted on December 2, 2013.] I've got a number of gnawa and chaabi CDs that I've yet to post -- I suppose I've been reluctant in the past for two reasons: (a) I can't translate/or even transliterate the tracklists for you and (b) I don't know much about either genre, other than what each, generally, sounds like. Most were plucked from the Moroccan aisle of the late, great Princess Music in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; a few were brought back home with me from a trip to Marrakech. 

In the case of this morning's offering, I'm almost certain I picked it up in Marrakech, though I'm not 100% sure. While it looks like the CD version of this cassette posted by the mighty Tim at the xtremely fabulous Moroccan Tape Stash, the CD version here has 6 more songs, so could either be the cassette + 6 or simply a bunch of different songs with a similar cover image. If we're nice, perhaps Tim will hip us to what we've got here. 

[UPDATE: Special thanks to Tim, who provides a track list in the comments below.]

Hamid El Kasri | Bouhala Gnawa

Listen to "Saadi Belwali"

I pooshed it back up to webby web b/c U askit 4 it, here.

[Originally posted on Dec 17, 2013.] Another CD I brought home from a trip to Marrakech. Hamid El Kasri hails originally from Ksar El Kbir, thus his moniker "El Kasri," which literally translates as "dude B from Ksar." 

For the past week & change I've been wiped out with the flu, the sickest I've been in three years. On Sunday, having mostly recovered, but not quite enough to really venture out, I spent a long, leisurely day organizing my CDs ... which means, my pretties, I have near-instantaneous access to everything.

Sit back. Take your shoes off. It's time to crank up the heat in the ol' bodega ...

Mysterious Gnawa CD

Listen to the first track

Freshly reupped by special request, here.

[Originally posted on Dec 21, 2013.] I bought this CD from someone on the street in Marrakech for the equivalent of US fifty cents. It's an obvious bootlet, burned into a blank CD with a color laser printed cover. The cover says it's El Marhoum Sam & Hmida Boussou, but the metadata begs to differ. It thinks this CD is Gnawa Leila Vol. 4 - Red & Green Suites by Bel Ahmer and Khder Chorfa. 

Whatever the case, it's definitely gnawa. And now it's yours.