“The more we listen, the more we think that its primal yawp might be the only appropriate aesthetic response for these times.”—Philebrity
OOLALA will set you free from the constructs of space and time, through the vibrations of rock and roll.
They are the manifestation of celestial pulsation, expressed as virtuosic, searing vocals that soar over distortion-drenched guitar and a funkified beat.
Like Aristotle and Einstein before them, OOLALA are guided by mythical insights in their musical quest for answers to the cosmological mysteries that lie just beyond our scientific grasp. “I'm presenting visions of the expansions of human knowledge that we are just discovering,” explains bandleader Michael Baker.
Baker, a singer and multi-instrumentalist, spent his formative years in Kentucky soaking up the interplanetary free jazz of Sun Ra Arkestra, the in-the-pocket rhythms of Curtis Mayfield, and the cosmic, glam-rock stylings of David Bowie. A decade ago, Baker landed in Philadelphia, where he perfected his craft of storytelling through song with the seminal indie folk duo The Spinning Leaves. Later, his stage alter ego Rumi Kitchen emerged as the spiritual advisor to Philly party-soul cabaret heroes Johnny Showcase and the Mystic Ticket.
With OOLALA, Rumi Kitchen turns his sights toward distant galaxies, forming a sonic and spiritual triangle with Vince “The Lion” Federici of Johnny Showcase and The Bailey Hounds on bass, and Korey Jones, a.k.a. Lux Nauta, Light Sailor—OOLALA’s star stepper—on drums.
At every performance, OOLALA spawns a Golden Egg and presents it to the audience “as a symbol of this thing that has happened between us, as evidence of its cosmic birth.” The Golden Egg, Rumi Kitchen explains, is a perfect symbol of something being born; a divine shape.” Offstage, the trio can be found rehearsing in Philadelphia’s historic Germantown neighborhood, within close orbital influence of great Sun Ra Arkestra saxophonist Marshall Allen, on whom Rumi Kitchen drops in from time to time to offer baked goods and ruminate about the cosmos.
OOLALA’s debut EP, The New RockRoll Cosmology is out this May on The Giving Groove label. It’s a cinematic collection of tracks that draw on influences as diverse as psychedelic jazz, stadium glitter rock and heavy soul, offering themes both universal and personal—from lead single “Falling Out of the Universe,” a bombastic, riff-driven spiral through a black hole into that unknown realm beyond our earthly comprehension, to “Get Yo Ass In That Space Camaro,” a phase-y, hook-laden howler about a domestic space relationship gone wrong.
It’s all born from spontaneous jams—captured in the moment, often on iPhones, produced at Retro City Studios in Philadelphia by Tim Sonnefeld (Usher, Mary J Blige, Dixie Hummingbirds) and mastered by Fred Kevorkian at Avatar Studios in New York City.
With OOLALA so finely attuned to cosmic events, it’s no coincidence that the official video for "Falling Out of the Universe” (which was filmed in Philadelphia’s Fels Planetarium) premiered on February 10, a date that marked a trifecta of night-sky phenomena that included a green comet sighting, a Snow moon, and a penumbral lunar eclipse.
The track has been met with early acclaim: Philebrity, Philadelphia’s longest-running city blog, calls it “a scorching hot debut single from a refreshingly out-there young band,” adding, “the more we listen, the more we think that its primal yawp might be the only appropriate aesthetic response for these times.”
The New RockRoll Cosmology release features a limited-edition run of 500 hand-numbered 12” vinyl LPs packaged in gold foil. Following The Giving Groove’s artist-friendly, socially conscious model of donating one half of all profits to music charities, OOLALA will donate 50 percent of its album proceeds to MusiCares, which was established by the Recording Academy to provide a safety net of critical assistance for music makers in times of need.
For Korey Jones, the connection to MusiCares is personal: “Back in 2007, I was touring with my former band and when we played Detroit we had our van, trailer, and everything we owned stolen,” he explains. “MusiCares helped us out with a donation to the band, which helped us get on our feet so that we could finish our tour and replace some gear.
“It feels good to be part of a business model that can give back to organizations such as MusiCares,” Jones adds, “and to help out not only musicians in similar situations but future musicians through education services.”