Hallelujah Chicken Run Band - Take One
Oh man. I know, I know. I always say that I am so excited about each record but this month is truly something. I stumbled across this album a couple of years ago when I was combing through Spotify listening to everything that Analog Africa has ever done (you should really do the same). This album totally hooked me right away and I kept returning to it. Of course I thought it would make an amazing Good Thing selection. After conducting very little research I found that Take One was only Analog Africa’s second release from way back in 2006 and was only pressed (burned?) onto CD at the time. Bummer! Then one day the album also disappeared from Spotify. Major bummer! So you can imagine how hard I fell off my chair back in February of this year when I got word that, “due to popular demand” (glad I wasn’t the only one!), Take One was finally being pressed on vinyl. All of the members were still alive to license the music for this edition as well. Recorded in 1974 at a time when western style rock music was all the rage in Zimbabwe, Hallelujah Chicken Run set themselves apart by merging the new popular rock sounds with the traditional music of their homeland. This worked especially well because guitarist Joshua Hlomayi’s had mastered mimicking the sound of the mbira, a traditional thumb piano, on his electric guitar using a light staccato style - heard most famously on “Ngoma Yarira”. Pair that with the horns, harmonies and hi-hats and, man, I just can’t get enough. I think you’ll agree.
El Mirador - Huehuetenango, Guatemala
The Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Central America, is situated in the northwestern Guatemalan department of Huehuetenango. Miguel Gonzalez's farm is nestled in the foothills of these massive peaks, where he and eleven other growers contribute to El Mirador ("the lookout"). While El Mirador is usually a community blend, we're fortunate enough to have this lot from only Miguel's farm, Santa Clara. There is so much good coffee coming out of Guatemala that it's hard to keep track, but this is one of the better lots we've had from this region. The highlight of Miguel's coffee is easily its complexity, each sip tasting different than the last. Look for notes of pear and apple with some really complex baking spice qualities and a body that starts off juicy and ends up rich and creamy.