2015 Honorable Mention Pick 13

Qwanqa: Volume 2 (FPE, 2015)

I really like this Ethiopian four piece consisting of drums, electric bass, electric guitar, and violin.  I don’t think the first tune Gelani puts their best foot forward but they really start to stretch out on the second tune Kemekem.  Extended space for electric guitar and violin solos.

As three quarters of this band hails from Ethiopia listeners should not be surprised to hear Indian/Southeast Asian influences such as in the third tune Selam Selam.  An intricate and circular violin melody echoed by the guitar player over a simple groove that the rhythm section pounds into the ground.

The fourth tune Tezeta gets into a trip space with some interesting vocals.  It slowly transforms itself into a slow groove and sounds a lot like a jam band, except one that can play its instruments.  It ends up going out with a fairly brisk jam that would make the Dave Matthews Band jealous.

Before the album goes out with a galloping pogo with dueling guitar and violin, the tune Mela Mela gets sticky with a guitar player that hints that he owns rock records, an extended bass solo and some playing in unison by the violin player and the bassist.  That tune is clipped below for your earholes.

A special shout goes out to the drummer who I find very engaging — steady and flavorful.  He’s rocking a combination of hand drums and a cymbal and he more than gets the job done.


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