Thursday 17 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Funk-reggae musician and activist...

Funk-reggae musician and activist Michael Franti advocates the simple joys of life on 'The Sound of Sunshine'

Chris Parker September 23rd, 2010

It was a strange place for Michael Franti to find himself. In a quarter-century of making provocative, thought-provoking music, he had never enjoyed a top 20 single.

Michael Franti and Spearhead
7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center
425 E. California
$25 advance, $29 door

It was a strange place for Michael Franti to find himself. In a quarter-century of making provocative, thought-provoking music with his college avant-punk band, The Beatnigs; industrial hip-hop's Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy; and for 16 years now, as the leader of Spearhead, he never had enjoyed a top 20 single.

Adept at opening minds and challenging preconceptions, he also had never created anything that quite so effectively energized audiences like "Say Hey (I Love You)" did.

Written for Spearhead's 2008's "All Rebel Rockers," it was something of an afterthought. The producers suggested the album lacked something, and Franti obliged with his most infectious song since his '90s underground hit with Disposable Heroes, "Television, the Drug of a Nation."

In many ways, the song was a direct response to his trip to Iraq, during which he filmed his documentary, "I Know I'm Not Alone."

"When I got there, people would say to me, 'We don't want to hear songs about war and social issues. We want to hear songs that make us laugh and dance and sing and clap,'" he said. "If I was able to give someone happiness in a song, in that moment, that might be bigger than anything that I ever did in all the decades of writing political songs."

This was a bold discovery for an artist who'd spent his lifetime railing against the crimes of the system and global injustice. Indeed, it's only hinted at in Franti's 2006 album, "Yell Fire!" The follow-up, "All Rebel Rockers," seizes that spirit, but it really culminates with his new album, "The Sound of Sunshine."

The release is Franti's first for a major label since Spearhead's 1997 disc, "Chocolate Supa Highway."

Franti never really had his foot in radio's door before, and with the new album, he set out to write a few songs that could take advantage of this opening. The title track is the first of these, but it was equally informed by another dramatic realization in Franti's life, when he was stricken with life-threatening appendicitis while on tour.

"It was the same week that 'Say Hey' entered into the Top 20, and we'd never had a hit song, so we were all quite excited. And then I found myself wondering if I was going to live to hear it on the radio," he said. "So things just took on a whole new frame for me. It was less important to me that I had a hit song and so much more important that my kids and my family and the people I love and care about were around me."

The disc is an effortlessly upbeat, breezy blast of summery joy. If hope and positivity could be bottled, it'd go down much like "Sunshine."

But he's not only spreading this gospel musically. Franti is preparing to open a yoga retreat center on the island of Bali in December, to help others reconnect with themselves.

"One thing I found being an activist is that it's not hard to become an activist," he said. "All you have to do is show up, but it becomes hard year after year when you see the same things that we're dealing with years ago are still happening today. It becomes hard to stay in it." "Chris Parker
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5