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We may be deep in a much ballyhooed vinyl revival but surprisingly, record cases haven’t seemed to have kept pace. With all these folks buying records again from their local record store Whole Foods, you would think there’d be more variety in boxes/cases available. RSD has nudged this along incrementally, especially with prestige releases that tout special packaging but compare the variety of vintage cases you might find on eBay or Etsy vs. new cases being manufactured now and you feel like there’s a missed opportunity.

The last time I saw anyone drop an interesting new case was Numero Group in 2012 for their massive Omnibus release. Even though I found the specs just a hair too tight, it didn’t feel like they were simply slapping a new skin on the same base case that everyone else uses.

I’m thinking about all this (again) because I recently got in the new Beat Bop Bundle from the folks at Get On Down. They already have some decent cases out there, including a faux reptile case that I use as my standard go-to 45 tote though I also like the canvas skin on their People Records case. Both are probably just skins-on-base-cases but the inner removable tray is a smart design feature for gigging out since it allows you to pack the case but then use the tray as a way of having twice as much room to rifle through your records.

This LP/12″ case that comes with the Beat Bop Bundle is something else though. Maybe it’s all that black but it just feels…substantial and slightly severe (in a good way). It’s certainly one of the bigger cases I have; even a couple of inches in height goes a long way. The reinforced corners, much like an anvil-style case (albeit this uses plastic corners) also makes you feel like this thing was built for abuse or the like.

This said, if I’m being candid here: it feels a bit bulky for its own good. It’s heavy just empty so I imagine that at full capacity (50 records/25 lbs), this would be a challenge to slog around, especially without a shoulder strap to even out the load. The lid is also substantial enough that if the case isn’t that full, the whole thing will tip over with the lid open; not ideal.

On the flipside, if you needed a case that could double as a blunt force weapon in a club scrum, this might come in handy. And if you were to combo this with a mid-90s Brooklyn throwback outfit – 20 below Timbos, black bubble goose – you’d be looking real proper. I know I haven’t even gotten to the music but while it’s cool to have a special edition of “Beat Bop”, complete with liner notes by Noz, it looks quite lonely inside that massive case. The disc feels like the bonus but the real package here is the box itself.

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I also recently got in Cultures of Soul new Brasileiro Treasure Box of Funk and Soul 7″ Box Set. Inside, you get seven 7″s, with about a third of them featuring songs that, far as I know, were never on 7″ single to begin with. That includes one of my favorite funky Brazilian cuts: “Bananeira” by Emiliano Santiago. I’m also feeling this one by Célia: “A Hora É Essa“. All in all, I didn’t know most of the songs on here so at the very least, I’m getting an education.

As for the actual box…eh. It’s ultimately a box for shelving purposes; it’s not designed for travel and odds are, you wouldn’t take the entire collection out to a gig but simply select a few 45s. I’m not a fan of the top-loading lid here, namely because it’s too shallow to allow you to flip through the 45s without first pulling them out. That’s a similar issue with “fold out” boxes (see below) but at least with those, you have cleaner lines on the front cover since you don’t have the lid breaking things up horizontally.

I also wish they had printed the track listing on the back. What they have is an insert that lines up on the back…if the box is still in the shrink. But once you take it out, the insert has no place to go (it’s slightly too big to fit into the box itself so it seems like you’re just meant to toss it).

Last but not least is the Big Box of Afrosound that Vampisoul released, with the curatorial help of DJ Bongohead. Musically, it’s the most generous: ten 7″s. And for me, it’s definitely the one that I vibe the most with sonically if only because I’m such a fan of the Afrosound, er, sound.1

I especially appreciate that more than half the songs on here were never on 45 to begin with, including “Salsa Boogaloo” by Sexteto Miramar, which I wasn’t familiar with prior. As with the Brasileiro box, even those songs that have been on 45 before aren’t exactly records you’re going to stumble across in your local U.S. store, especially standouts like Wganda Kenya’s wicked “Fiebre De Lepra” or one of my all-time favorite cumbias: “Cumbia De Sal” by Cumbias en Moog (which is as awesome as you may guess).

The Big Box had fold-up/out lid which is a decent compromise in terms of keeping the cover art intact and still allowing you to flip through the 45s from right to left once fully opened. If I had to nitpick…not a big fan of the cover art but c’est la vie.

There you go: a few boxes (literally!) for you to sample.

  1. Full disclosure, I helped Bongohead with this project at a very early stage though I can’t remember if it was with “Mammy Blue” or a different Fruko song that didn’t make the cut.


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Quick opening note: not to sound like a broken record (pun intended) but the vinyl game is always humbling. No matter how many records you have, there’s always more/better ones to still learn about and yearn for. I’m reminded of this all the time, especially when DJing with my betters such as the Southern Soulspinners who always come with crazy heat at every gig. I try not to trains-spot on their sets too much but it’s hard to resist knowing what the hell it is they’re blowing my mind with. Their willingness to gladly share that knowledge is equally humbling and it’s a reminder of the importance of spreading that knowledge in turn.

Pigmeat Markham: Here Comes the Judge
From 7″ (Chess, 1968)

J-Zone’s recent column on his favorite drum recordings reminded me of how novel (nyuk nyuk) this single is. Basically a comedy song but set to the rugged-est of drums…as well as a great example of “rapping before there was rap music.”

Viva Brasil: Turn To Yourself + Skindo-le-le
From S/T (Sugarloaf, 1980)

The best Bay Area modern-soul-meets-Brazilian LP I know (as well as the only one). No, but really, I dig the grooves on here even if “Turn To Yourself” sounds almost like a parody of bad lyric writing. To me, the standout on here is “Skindo-le-le” which feels like the platonic ideal of what “samba soul” should sound like.

Sole Inspiration: Life
From 7″ (Soulsville, U.S.A., 197?)

This single (both sides) is at the crossroads between psych and soul, especially the moody, heavy and super-stoned out “Life.” It’s out of San Antonio if the inter webs has it right. (Flipside has a serviceable, hella garage-y cover of “Hold On, I’m Comin’.”)

Betty Wright: Pure Love
From 7″ (Alston, 1970)

When I first heard this, I just assumed it came out after the live version of “Tonight’s the Night” but now I realize I had it backwards. It’s interesting hearing “Pure Love” for the first time since it’s slower than “Tonight’s the Night” and that creates this moment of cognitive dissonance where the lick is familiar yet feels “off.” (Flipside is a good, funky Northern track: “If You Ain’t Got It”).

The Manhattans: I Call It Love
From 7″ (Carnival, 1967)

I’m slowly discovering the beauty of early Manhattans’s songs. This isn’t quite as sublime as “Follow Your Heart” but it’s still pretty damn good. They had a great ear for pairing their doo-wop harmonizing over strong, soulful arrangements. (Flipside is a solid, snappy Northern cut: “Manhattan Stomp“).

Amral’s Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra: The World Is a Ghetto + 90% of Me Is You
From Heat (Calypan, 1975)

On paper, the entire track listing makes you think this could be the greatest steel drum album ever. Cover galore, most of them R&B and funk. I mean, holy crap, they’re covering Gwen McCrae’s “90% of Me Is You,” which wasn’t exactly obscure but it’s not “Yellow Bird” either. I’ve been trying to figure out why this falls short of, say, the Dutch Rhythm Steel and Show Band (both groups cover Kool and the Gang’s “Funky Stuff’) and obviously, the Cavaliers have the sparser band…sounds like steel drums plus a drum kit and that’s it. I also feel like the conventional drummer is mixed rather low, thus blunting his/her presence. That said, their cover of “The World Is a Ghetto” works better, partially because so much of what carries the mood of the composition is in the melody rather than requiring a stronger rhythm section.

Muscle Shoals Horns: Addicted To Your Love
From Doin’ It To the Bone (Ariola, 1977)

A Soul Boulders classic. ‘Nuff said.

Tutti Hill: He’s a Lover
From 7″ (Arock, 1964)

Cool Chris talked me into this one, telling me it was one of his favorites. I was initially skeptical only because the notable absence of any real low end made this sound like a demo but the more times I listened to it at the store, the more that quality of the recording appealed to me. (That said, I feel like someone could remix this and throw in a stronger baseline and some drums).

Billy Woods: No One To Blame
From 7″ (Verve, 1966)

I often forget that Verve recorded other genres besides jazz; this great little sweet soul side came sandwiched in their catalog between everyone from Irene Reid to Willie Bobo to the Righteous Brothers.

Souls of Mischief: Never No More (76 Seville Mix)
From 12″ (Jive, 1994)

It’s funny but this remix has been in the back of my head for months but I was too lazy to digitize it from vinyl and lo and behold: that new 93 Til Infinity box set has all the remixes connected to that album and that included this. Great remix and paired (on the original 12″) with the equally good 12″-only “Good Feeling.”

Overhott, Tate and Phillips: Peg
From Direct-to-Disc (Kiras, 1977)

Another one from Cool Chris (since he knows my weakness for covers). Most of this direct-to-disc are fairly loyal disco-era covers but somehow, hearing “Peg” sung with a female trio gives this particular track a spark. (They also perform a decent version of Player’s “Baby Come Back.”)


Debbie taylor

Earwaves: Young Girls In Mini-Skirts
From S/T (Surrend, 1984)

Earwaves was a short-lived S.F. group that grew out of another short-lived S.F. band: C.P. Salt; I got interested in both because half their personnel was Chinese American including “Hugh Dong” (yeah, I know what you’re thinking). C.P. Salt had more of a boogie feel but as you can hear here, Earwaves had more of a funky new wave style, especially in those crazy synths.

Chano Scotty and His Combo Society: Bossa-a-Go-Go + Consolacion
From The New Sound of Chano Scotty (Musicor, 1967)

Mod organ + Brazilian jazz = a winning combination. I don’t know a ton about this Argentinian bandleader but of the two LPs I know, this one is more Brazilian flavored and the other is more Afro-Latin (including a pair of decent boogaloo songs). I especially love the opening bars of “Bossa-a-Go-Go” – so ’60s, so slick.

Milton Floyd: I’m a Shadow
From 7″ (Rim, 1973)

I first heard this on Product Placement; perfect intro song for DJ Shadow. It does open beautifully and while Floyd sounds decent enough, don’t you wish there was a backup singer-only version? (I do).

Debbie Taylor: Just Don’t Pay
From 7″ (Arista, 1975)

This is one of those perfect crossover/proto-disco cuts and surprisingly, it’s one of the last singles Taylor ever put out, capping a modest (but largely slept-on) career that had begun a decade earlier.

The Baby Dolls: Please Don’t Rush Me
From 7 (Gamble, 1967)

Lesser-known Gamble release featuring the Baby Dolls, a girl group that I couldn’t find much on at all. I’m assuming they’re not the same duo that sang doo wop and if that’s the case, these Baby Dolls were one-and-done with this single.

The Off-Beats: Doodlum
From 7″ (Guyden, 1964)

I came across this 7″ because it has one of the early versions of Richard Berry’s “Have Love, Will Travel” (this is before it got the garage makeover) but it’s the flip side that struck me even more, especially with those electric keys (Wurlitzer?) and groovin’ jump blues rhythm. Barely 90 seconds long but if it’s short, it’s also damn sweet.

King Floyd: Walkin’ and Thinkin’
From 7″ (Original Sound, 1965)

I was surprised to come across this in a Minneapolis record store; I had never seen a King Floyd release this early and as Original Sound was a label I associated with L.A. (rather than anywhere near Floyd’s home state of Louisiana), that was also surprising. My guess is that the Original Sound release was a second issue for greater distribution but either way, this single would have been a few years before he struck it big with “Groove Me.” Great Southern soul sound on here with those horns; reminded me of a Hi Records production .

Johnny Scott: I’m Not Tired Yet
From 7″ (Twain, 196?)

Would this song sound better with better fidelity? Maybe. Is it pretty damn good in its current, some-dude’s-basement-studio version? Oh my, my yes.

Camp Lo: Coolie High (Paradise Remix)
From 7″ (Profile, 1996)

Promo-only 12″ release, deaded from going full commercial by the inability to clear the MJ sample. Pity – love how languid the remix is, honoring the feel of the original track but giving it an actual remix and not just a variation-on.


For real…I thought I didn’t like this song much, (mostly) because A) it’s overplayed way too much at sporting events and B) much as I like “the hook = the song” this pushes things a bit too far. But that said, “Na Na Hey Hey” has a delicious backstory that I’m still not 100% clear on except to say that the group “Steam” never really existed outside of this song and supposedly, it was built from a drum track from a previous single by one of the core songwriters.1

The thing is though…I totally forgot that the song has a rather long drum break in the middle and I was reminded of this when, by coincidence, two of my “recent arrivals” came with covers of “Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye.” Here’s the first, from the orquesta Tejana band, Mexican Revolution:

Mexican Revolution: Na Na Hey Hey
From S/T (El Zarape, 196?)

Really dig the use of vibes on here and the vocals, while loyal to the original, have that Tex-Mex soul thing going. Their cover’s laidback-ness also translate to the drums, which do spark into more life during the break but despite a very insistent conga player, it’s pleasant but nothing to write home about. In contrast, this version from Brazil’s Wilson Das Neves is a bit shorter yet still sweeter:

Wilson Das Neves: Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
From Samba-Tropi (Elenco, 1970)

Given that he’s a percussionist, it’s no surprise that the drums knock on this cover (it also, depending on your perspective, mercifully spares you the rest of the song lyrics).

Bonus tracks: Both of these albums have other worthwhile fare besides a cover of a one-hit wonder so I wanted to highlight some of those songs too. For example, Das Neves’s album has this great slice of Tropicalia soul:

Bebete Vão Bora

Meanwhile, Mexican Revolution drops a simply lovely ballad:


  1. I went digging around for what that original drum solo was but no dice.


Bob Azzam & The Great Expectations: Rain Rain Go Away
Tricky Soul
From S/T (Audio Fidelity, 1969)

Where in the world is Bob Azzam from? If you knew nothing about him and needle-dropped through the album, you could easily believe he’s from (take your pick): the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, or the Middle East. Azzam was actually born in MonacoCairo to a Lebanese family but his career really got started in France even though much of his best known work (to contemporary ears) was originally recorded in Sweden. You got all that? As the liner notes to this album say, “Azzam is Universal” and who are we to disagree?

This is from one of the few Azzam albums to be released in the U.S., almost identical to his album New Sounds which came out in Sweden but this LP is two tracks shorter (from what I can tell, it’s not poorer for the loss of those two songs). “Rain Rain Go Away” is the most “American” sounding of the three tracks here, an unlikely cover of an Allen Toussaint original; it’s almost like when other bands were choosing “Get Out Of My Life Woman,” Azzam and friends decided, “screw it, let’s pick a similar song out of the catalog but avoid the obvious choice.” You can put this next to “Pease Porridge Hot” for funky kids tunes.

“Berimbau” though? Pure Brazilian classic, originally written by Vinicius de Moraes for Baden Powell. Azzam’s version is quite lovely, very smooth but with that snappy rhythm beneath. Not quite my favorite version (see below) but this is hardly slacking. (Azzam is also responsible for one of the all time incredible Brazilian club cuts: “Batucada Por Favor“).

And lastly, with “Tricky Soul,” you got a funky mod track that could have easily come out of Keith Mansfield‘s song book or elsewhere in the KPM-verse.

So which version of “Berimbau” do I think is better? This one:

Wilson Das Neves: Berimbau
From O Som Quente É O Das Neves (Underground, 1976)

Awesome opening on percussion and the horns set the whole thing off.


Even if you’ve never seen Brian Cross aka B+ in person, you’ve definitely seen his photography. Starting in the early 1990s, B+ has become one of the premier music photographers of the past 20 years, especially (but hardly exclusively) in the hip-hop community.

B+ is also one-half of the L.A.-based production outfit, Mochilla, who’ve put out the renown Keepintime, Brasilintime and Timeless series. And, he’s author of one of the best books ever written about hip-hop in L.A., It’s Not About a Salary.1 Suffice to say, of all the folks I’ve met through the Cali music scene over the last 15 years, B is one of the folks whose work and dedication is a constant source of respect and amazement.

He was kind enough to roll through the home studio on a sweltering July day and though, ostensibly, I wanted to have him contribute to the summer songs series, I also wanted to use the opportunity to talk about his career arc (I, for one, had no idea he was a former student and protege of Mike Davis though that fact suddenly made total sense to me in the context of his work), his interest in South American music, culture and people, and the greatest that is Labi Siffre. (In a special “bonus beats” section after the formal podcast ends, we also rap about his working with Damien Marley, bringing more Timeless shows back, and why you’ll have to pry his Hasselblad from his cold, dead fingers.

The Sidebar #12: Brian Cross/B+

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Music in this episode:

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  1. Cross is also at work on Ghostnotes his first formal monograph.


The last four weeks have been…awesome. Every day, I wake up and I get to write and write and write, usually pausing to get my noodle soup on. I’m trying to hammer my way through revising enough of this project to get it off to my publisher (the beginning of the end…but nowhere near “the end”). It’s great for my academic career, not so great for doing other stuff (hence why I’m writing this post at 11:36pm).

I love the Summer Songs series but this year, I just had to take a break from organizing it, mostly so I could divert that energy into getting The Sidebar off and running. As hopefully you’ve noted, I’ve used the podcasts as a way to talk about summer songs with various guests but I still felt like I needed to contribute something, at least to keep the tradition alive.

Since moving back to LA in 2006, my summers usually start out all the same way: getting writing done, usually in cafes or else at home. It’s a good routine for me and as I suggested earlier, keeps me productive. But it also means that in June especially, I more or less witness summer in small breaks, whenever I step out for lunch or go pick up my daughter from summer camp. It’s at those times that I notice, “holy shit, it’s summer!” and as boring as it must be to hear an Angelino talk about how great summers are in LA, blah blah blah…they really are. The air could be cleaner most days, but the summer light is intense and bright and hot and it takes all the colors of the outdoors – the blues and greens – and burnishes them. It would, of course, be easier to appreciate all this if it were about 10-15 degrees cooler but hey, at least it’s not 100 and humid. I’m not complaining.

Since I’m not commuting to campus right now, my drives tend to be short, 10-15 minutes, max. And that means I end up listening to the same songs again and again on my “current favorites” playlist since I never drive long enough to get to, say, the tune that would normally have started around the 34th minute. Right now, the top of that favorites list is heavily weighted towards all those Don Julian tracks I just posted (they’re awesome; if you haven’t peeped yet, you’re a sucker) but there’s three songs that have crept through that wall and which will likely be part of my early summer playlist, at least until late July.

Alice Smith and Aloe Blacc: Baby
From Red, Hot + Rio 2 (Giant Step, 2011)

For fucking perfect is this song, especially to kick off summer? Sure, it’s like the platonic ideal of a KCRW hit but in this case, that’s a good thing. Love the breezy, bossa feel, love Smith’s voice on here, love how it invokes all the possibilities that mark summer’s dawn, yet is also infused with the kind of nostalgia-tinged melancholy that will make this song sound bittersweet come late September. If the rest of Red, Hot + Rio 2 is half as good as this, it’ll be another classic in that series.

Fela Kuti/Nick Nielsen: Water No Get 8-Bit Enemy
From (2010)

Yeah, I know, this dropped March 2010. Late pass, my bad. But hey, I only started rocking Fela’s original “Water No Get Enemy” in the summer of 2006 and that was 31 years after it came out so I figured, I’m not running as far behind now. In any case, this remake is genius. I don’t think you can chiptune every song out there and expect it to sound good but this absolutely nails it, giving you some old school Nintendo thrills without offending the sublimeness of the original. NIelsen should be chiptuning “La Murga” or something next. Serious.

Los Rockin’ Devils: Juego De Amor (Book of Love)
From 7″ (Orfeon, 1965)

Shout out to Supersonido, who put me up on this song back in Feb. Took me a few months to track down a copy for self but man, totally worth the trouble. I always thought The Mindbenders’ “Game of Love” had a killer riff that belongs in the I-IV-V pantheon. De La Soul and Prince Paul knew the real.

I won’t claim this cover is better than the original…but you have to admit, replacing the original bass line with horns was absolutely the right way to go. I honking love it. Plus, you still have the signature guitar riff and best of all, Los Rockin’ Devils bring some garage sabor to their version. Keep it ruff!


There are other songs that could have made this list but I really went with those songs that, at the end of the year, I still enjoyed as much as when I first heard ’em. Interesting trends I noticed in my listening taste as a result of putting this playlist together: gospel was obviously big for me this year, reggae was not, and despite a wealth of Latin, only a few songs really stayed with me. As always, soul was huge but not so much funk. Jazz was totally shut out. We’ll have to see what 2011 brings…

2010 MIX (RS)

Little Ann: Deep Shadows
Tammy Montgomery: Sinner’s Devotion (From Come On And See Me: The Complete Solo Collection)
The Five Stairsteps: Danger, She’s a Stranger
Mayer Hawthorne: I Need You (From 12″)
Al Sharp: Gentle Is My Love
Carlton & The Shoes: Never Give Your Heart Away (From Love Me Forever)
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: Better Things To Do (From I Learned The Hard Way)
Lord Echo: Thinking Of You (From Melodies)
Quantic y Conjunto: Dre en Cumbia
Trio Servando Diaz: El Viejito Cañandonga
Los Exciters: Morning
Ralph Thamar Featuring Mario Canonge: Siboney
Lee Moses: Got That Will
T.N.T. Band: Making Tracks (From Making Tracks)
Las 4 Monedas: Buena Suerte
Akwid: Esto Es Pa Mis Paisas [Explicit] (From Clasificado R)
Betty Moorer: Speed Up
Sugar Pie DeSanto: I Don’t Wanna Fuss
The Inspirational Gospel Singers: The Same Thing It Took (From Good God! Born Again Funk)
Numonics: You Lied (From Groove Merchant Turns 20)
Lou Bond: Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards (From Lou Bond)
Chicano Batman: Itotiani (From Chicano Batman)
Donnie and Joe Emerson: Baby
Kanye West: Devil In A New Dress (From My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy)
T.L. Barrett & Youth For Christ Choir: Like A Ship (From Like a Ship)
Marius Cultier: Nathalie
Erykah Badu: Out My Mind, Just In Time (Part 1) (From New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh))
The Gospel Hummingbirds: Trouble Don’t Last Always


I sat in for Michael Barnes on KPFK’s Melting Pot today. Included a few tracks I’ve had up here of late but a lot you haven’t heard from me yet. Enjoy!

The Melting Pot, 11-14-10

Quantic: Cumbia De Dilla
The East St. Louis Gospelettes: Have Mercy On Me
Kanye West: Devil in a New Dress
The Whatnauts: I’ll Erase the Pain
Golden Harmonettes: I Do Love You
Syl Johnson: Try Me (LP Version)
Syl Johnson: All I Need Is Someone Like You
Syl Johnson: Soul Heaven (All from The Complete Mythology)
Onuma SIngsiri: Mae Kha Som Tam
Plearn Promdan: Wan Maha Sanook (Both from The Sound of Siam)
Olguita: Hay Un Sentimiento
Dom Kennedy: Locals Only
Lee Dorsey: Give It Up
Numonics: You Lied
Ron Forella: Crystals (Both from Groove Merchant Turns 20)
Ozzie Dasilva: Zig Zag
Tammi Terrell: All I Do Is Think About You
Nottz: I Still Love You (feat. Mayer Hawthorne) (from You Need This Music)
Lito Barrientos: Para Que
Charles Bradley: Why Is It So Hard?
Since OUr Last Goodbye (Both from No Time For Dreaming)
N’ Goma Jazz: Mi Cantado Para Ti
Africa Tirmos: Pica O Dedo (Both from Angola Soundtrack)
Ramon Veloz: Comete Tu Pinol
Joe Bravo: Think It Over
Fitz and the Tantrums: Don’t Gotta Work It Out
Gladstone Anderson and the Mudies All-Stars: Mad Mad Ivy
Quadron: Baby Be Mine (Live on KPFK)
Finger 5: I Want You Back
Jackson 5: Walk On By/Love You Save
Please: Sing a Simple Song
Al Hirt: Harlem Hendoo
Timebox: Beggin’
Del-Tones: Rocking Chair
Sugar Pie DeSanto: I Don’t Wanna Fuss
Spider Harrison: Beautiful Day
Quantic: Cumbia En Dre