Amid the myriad and constantly morphing techno subgenres that dominate pop music in Europe and have gradually become more prominent in North America, the practitioners that have made the biggest impact in the States are mostly British and French. There's certainly no Italian equivalent to Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, or Daft Punk. But if there was, it might be Nicola Conte.
Based out of Bari, Italy, Conte is a classically trained musician who turned his attention to DJ-ing and producing more than a decade ago and has been at the forefront of the international acid-jazz scene for more than 10 years, not only as DJ and producer but as a record-label chief. Conte's sound is bossa nova, jazz, and traditional Brazilian music as electronic dance music. Elegant, swanky, and unavoidably retro, it may remind some listeners of the mid-'90s "lounge music" trend, particularly a band such as Japan's Pizzicato Five. But Conte's music takes that sound (or, more specifically, the source material and atmosphere that scene drew from) and reproduces its charms without any kitschy aftertaste.
Conte records in America for the Washington, D.C.-based Eighteenth Street Lounge, whose most notable act, Thievery Corporation, is one of many who put their own twist on Conte's music on his latest album, the remix-oriented Jet Sounds Revisited.
Conte hits the U.S. this month for an eight-date tour, and his first stop, however improbably, is Young Avenue Deli, where he'll perform a set Friday, June 6th, alongside local DJs from the Jet Set collective.
Or for something not at all swanky, there's the combination of hardcore wrestling and local rock-and-roll to be seen and heard at the Old Daisy Theatre Saturday, June 7th. Bands Lucero, Clenched Fist, and Halfacre Gunroom will be playing sets in between matches that promise to be a lot rougher than anything you'll see on Saturday-morning TV.
Local favorite and expatriate Memphian Todd Snider will be at the Lounge Thursday, June 5th, in support of his new live album, Near Truths and Hotel Rooms. I've never been crazy about live albums, and they seem especially superfluous for singer-songwriter types, but the form works for Snider, playing up his engaging personality and sense of humor. His audience rapport enhances the performances, and the song selection tends toward his more playful material -- all a plus. Snider will be joined at the Lounge by fellow Nashville cat Will Kimbrough. -- Chris Herrington