Well, why not avant-polka? Who says classical, jazz, and rock should have all the fun? Guy Klucevsek's "Polka From The Fringe" is just that, a newly released 2-disk set of originals and commisioned songs written for accordionist Klucevsek, an '80s downtown New York arty-smarty who grew up playing polkas in Pennsylvania coal-mining country. He originally released this album over twenty years ago, and the label promptly went out of business. This new version is greatly expanded, boasting a whopping 29 tracks, many written by prominent avant-garde composers like Tom Cora, Carl Stone, Fred Frith, and Elliot Sharp, whose "Happy Chappie Polka" is downright punk. Despite the heavy art credentials of all involved, it's still alot of fun. You just can't play a pretentious polka. (Tho it is a lot to absorb - took me a few listens before I finally realized how good this album is.)
Another awesome avant-accordion album comes to us from, of all places, Belarus. Pictured left, Port Mone's album "DiP" is an excellent collection of moody instrumentals sporting unusual ethnic percussion and some surprisingly funky poppin' bass. I can now say that I have listened to an entire album from Belarus (and so should you.)
Petrojvic Blasting Company (pic below) are a crazy-fun L.A. band featuring a big brass section that suits both European Balkan and New Orleans styles. Tho probably best experienced live and drunk, their debut album (also available on vinyl) shows off their ace songwriting and muso skillz. They recently toured the old country - Poland, Latvia, Lithuania - but, like the above artists, don't expect anything too authentic.
Norteño literally means "northern", as in the US/Mexican border areas where Mexican musicians mixed their Spanish melodies with Dutch and Geman settlers' polka. A muy bueno norteño album I discovered on the jukebox whilst waiting for my order at a local taquería is Los Dareyes De La Sierra's "Corridazos Con Tuba Y Acordeon." Yep, pretty much the whole album is nothing but accordion and tuba duets. And the tuba player is loco. Ever bought an album for the tuba? Now's your chance. Tho I have my reservations about recommending it - I suspect that some of the songs are "narco-corridos," songs about, or even in praise of drug cartel thugs.
Tijuana's Nortec Collective offers a more self-consciously experimental approach to norteño. Like Wu Tang, the Collective quickly split off into solo projects, some leaning more towards techno dance territory, and others, like Bostich and Fussible's 2008 release "Tijuana Sound Machine" still keeping that border-polka beat in there amidst all the space-age sounds.
We then head even furthur down south to Columbia, where the accordion rules the cumbia scene...even as they cover Queen. That's what happens when a British producer (Quantic, in this case) moves to Sud America. From the self-titled album "Los Miticos Del Ritmo."
Ah, what the heck - the link to Duckmandu's accordion cover of the Dead Kennedy's "California Uber Alles" is dead, so I'll throw it in here.
1. Duckmandu: California Uber Alles
2. Port Mone: River
3. Petrojvic Blasting Company: Princess Andy
4. Port Mone: Youth
5. Guy Klucevsek, Ain't Nothin' But A Polka Band: The VCR Polka (by David Garland)
6. Guy Klucevsek, Ain't Nothin' But A Polka Band: Happy Chappie Polka
7. Guy Klucevsek, Ain't Nothin' But A Polka Band: The Disinformation Polka (Fred Frith)
8. Los Dareyes De La Sierra: La Tragedia Del Compa Man
9. Bostich and Fussible: The Clap
10. Los Miticos Del Ritmo (Feat. Quantic): Otro Muerde El Polvo (Another One Bites The Dust)