Lo-Fi Mojo

Rather than dive deep into a single band or song this week, I’m going to tie up a few loose ends and make mention of some lo-fi goodies I’ve been meaning to write about but, for one reason or another, hadn’t gotten around to yet.

Are you clued in to King Khan yet? This guy’s a madman — a Berlin-based Indo-Canadian garage-rock madman (real name: Arish Khan). Most often you’ll find him playing with his regular band, the Shrines, blending rock, psychedelia, soul, cheerleaders, and crazy stage outfits and antics. He also frequently performs as the King Khan & BBQ Show, a two-man punk ‘n’ doo-wop amalgam that’s as fun and riotous as everything else he does. Here’s the duo performing a song called “Fish Fight”:

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Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears aren’t technically what you’d call lo-fi. (So sue me.) They do rock, however, in a bluesy, soulful, down ‘n’ dirty R&B kinda way. In fact they’re one of the best new bands of the last few years. Here they are doing “Bobby Booshay,” off their debut album:

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Nathaniel Mayer. Again, not exactly the textbook definition of lo-fi, but if there actually is a textbook definition of lo-fi, I doubt it’d stand up to much scrutiny. Besides, when Mojo Flucke, Ph.D., handed the reins of this column to me, he said it could just as easily become “music that Ed Murray likes, regardless of genre.” At least that’s what I heard …

Anyway, Nathaniel Mayer’s a Detroit-based R&B singer who’s been at it since the ’60s. After 35 years of not performing or recording, he broke back onto the scene with albums on some of my favorite lo-fi and blues skronk labels:Á‚ Fat Possum, Alive,Á‚ and Norton. His last two albums, 2007’s Why Don’t You Give It to Me? and 2009’s Why Won’t You Let Me Be Black?, are both mini-masterpieces of what I’ll call lo-fi soul. Here he is doing “Why Dontcha Show Me” from his ’07 release:

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I can’t believe I haven’t written about Atlanta-based “flower punks” (whatever the hell that means) the Black Lips before, but these lo-fi rockers really caught my ear a few years ago, and I’ve been enamored of them ever since. Their live shows are chaotic, frequently juvenile, and awesomely high energy, and the Lips themselves are sloppy, noisy, tuneful, and a lot of fun. Here’s their latest single, “Drugs”:

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