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Revisiting Buena Vista's Ibrahim Ferrer

A set of albums created by accident and that "re-created" a mythical ensemble that never existed in the first place nevertheless made stars of some deserving musicians and opened up new audiences to the rich musical heritage of Cuba. This re-release is another opportunity to revisit music that never fully got its due in America and is worth seeking out.Keep Reading
Tags: Music, America, World Music, Son, Cuba, Music Review, Bolero, Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit, Buena Vista, Latin jazz, Ibrahim Ferrer, Guaracha

Tragedy of Australian Wildfires Is Illuminated on New Amanda Palmer Benefit LP

"If Australia is the canary in the dark climate coal-mine," Palmer wrote in the record's notes, "I hope a bunch of artists making a response record like this, so fast and with such generosity, can provide a little crack of light." Palmer's response revels in the darkness more than the light, but that's always what she's done best. And she puts herself out there for Australia and all the socio-political implications raveled up with it in the current crisis. For a $5 download, what more do you...
Tags: Music, Australia, Palmer, Amanda Palmer, Music Review, Folk, Alternative Rock, Dark cabaret, New Amanda Palmer Benefit LP

Cuba's Ibrahim Ferrer Is Celebrated with a Re-Issue of 'Buenos Hermano'

It's hard to say why the missing tracks - "Me Voy Pa Sibanicú", "Ojos Malvados", "Mujer", and "Ven Conmigo Guajira" - were left off of the original mix; Cooder calls them "overlooked for some reason". Perhaps it was for length. Perhaps it was for ease of production. It certainly was not for lack of fit or quality. Here, those tracks are interwoven carefully into the sequence, extending the vision in beautiful ways. Slow track "Mujer" is particularly beautiful, with a sparse guitar introduction...
Tags: Music, World Music, Jazz, Son, Cuba, Music Review, Bmg, Latin, Bolero, Buena Vista Social Club, World Circuit, Ferrer, Morricone, Mujer, Ibrahim Ferrer, Guaracha

Grimes' 'Miss Anthropocene' Watches the World Go Out With a Whimper

If an entire album in the vein of "4 ÆM" might've come off as disingenuous -- too gimmicky or light-hearted to capture the current feeling toward global collapse -- "We Appreciate Power" is the true tease of the bunch. It's still a song about meltdown and apathy, but Grimes is the arbiter, not the subject, and she plays a far more convincing overlord than an underling.Keep Reading
Tags: Music, Pop, Grimes, Music Review, Dream Pop, Synthpop, Electropop, 4AD Records, Art pop

Rebecca Foon Gets Honest and Raw with the Gorgeous 'Waxing Moon'

True to the raw beauty of the planet she's honoring, Waxing Moon sees Foon embracing a sparser, more piano-centric sound. There is a bare, unadorned quality to the first track, "New World", the earthy arrangement creating an exquisite feel. Eventually, the piano becomes busier, almost frantic, and melancholy strings are introduced to add another simple, stark layer. A coterie of fellow Canadians is on hand throughout the album for additional instrumentation: Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry,...
Tags: Music, Experimental, Paris, Music Review, Dream Pop, Patrick Watson, Chamber Music, Lasek, Sophie Trudeau, Rebecca Foon, Avant-Garde, Constellation Records, Post-rock, Foon, Waxing Moon, Pathway

Pop Music and Cultural Resistance in Nigeria via Apala

While Apala music was indeed popular during the time covered on this compilation, it also was a political statement. Nigeria had been ruled as a colony in the British Empire from 1901 until it became independent in 1960. Apala music, which was sung in the Yoruba language and didn't include western instrumentation, was seen as a rejection of decades of colonial rule and as a celebration of Nigeria's new independence. While the names of Apala's performers are not well-known outside of Nigeria, ...
Tags: Music, Nigeria, Africa, World Music, Colonialism, Music Review, Soul Jazz Records, Apala, Haruna Ishola, Ishola

yMusic Explore 'Ecstatic Science'

In addition to "Tessellations", Gabriella Smith is represented by the album's closing epic, "Maré", which was inspired by ocean tidal movements, but might conjure for some listeners the sound and feel of trains in the distance. Also, Ecstatic Science includes work by composers Missy Mazzoli, Caroline Shaw, and Paul Wiancko. The album's title track was commissioned by yMusic to Mazzoli, who is also one of the first female composers to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. "Ecstatic Scienc...
Tags: Music, Kanye West, Music Review, Classical, Shaw, Caroline Shaw, New Amsterdam, Chamber Music, yMusic, Mazzoli, Gabriella Smith, Modern classical, Missy Mazzoli Caroline Shaw, Paul Wiancko, Metropolitan Opera Ecstatic Science

EDEN Creates an Achingly Beautiful Modern Pop Album with 'No Future'

Album closer, "Untitled" rounds the album off in suitably stirring fashion. It's a sumptuous guitar ballad with Ng joined by a children's choir as they sing lines from the Jamaican folk song Linstead market. It's a hopeful, upbeat ending to an album that runs the gamut of emotions from despair to optimism. No Future is an understated, soulful pop gem that seems to exist in its own time and place. At its core is the voice of an artist looking for answers in a world where few are easy to find w...
Tags: Music, NG, Pop, R&B, Music Review, Eden, Dream Pop, Alternative pop, Astralwerks

Scantron's 'Electric City' Is a Four-Song Blast of Engaging Garage Rock

Opening track "Dreams" begins with the line "Some things never go away / Some situations just hold you in their sway" as the band's swagger seems to ape an almost psychedelic take on Britpop, complete with sneering vocals and Loss' vintage organ. There's an irresistible glam rock feel to "White Linen Sheets", as soaring chorus harmonies live comfortably among the gritty riffs. Rounding out Electric City are the hip-swaying "Tip Top Inn", a modern-day update of Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee", whi...
Tags: Music, Garage Rock, Rock, Music Review, Power Pop, Scantron, Lee, Lloyd Price, Glam Rock, Electric City

Sunny Jain's Impressive 'Wild Wild East' Is a Compelling Call for Human Rights

After this moving set of tracks, "Brooklyn Dhamal" brings us back to the idea of action. The percussion is in full force once more, and guitars, brass, and feedback build into the album's climactic final moments, a sonic peak that closes the album with a sense of urgency. Rightly so, as Jain's entire album has been working so hard to tell us. Wild Wild East presents stories that speak to the importance of human rights and criticizes a distinct and dangerous lack of them for so many Americans w...
Tags: Music, India, World Music, Jazz, Bollywood, Music Review, Folk, Jain, Smithsonian Folkways, Sunny Jain, Wild Wild East, Bhangra, Indian folk, Brooklyn Dhamal

Ben Watt Turns Middle-aged Angst Into Gold on 'Storm Damage'

Storm Damage is an album by a man in his late 50s, musing on his life, lost love, changing surroundings, and mortality. By some incredible sleight of hand, he's managed to make that unpalatable dish, delicious. On the credits amongst his numerous musical contributions, is the word "Alchemy". I believe it. He's turned his mid-life crisis into gold, and combine that with the clairvoyance, Mr. Watt has a couple of lucrative alternative careers if his muse ever departs him. On the strength of this...
Tags: Music, Music Review, Alternative Rock, Watt, Ben Watt, Folk Rock, Alternative pop

Shopping's Brand of Post-Punk Will Get You Moving

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Tags: Music, Shopping, Music Review, Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Post-punk, FatCat Records

Plugging Into the Third Mind

The Third Mind closes with a tribute to Roky Erickson and the 13th Story Elevators' dark classic "Reverberation". This cover feels like the most straightforward track on the album, coming across like a particularly sprightly (and Edgy) U2 tune with a dash of hair metal thrown in the mix. On paper that might sound horrific but scraping away a bit of the original's psychedelia reveals "Reverberation" to be a terrific rock tune, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's the cool thing about The...
Tags: Music, Rock, Music Review, Yep Roc Records, Alternative Rock, Roky Erickson, Dave Alvin, Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock, Experimental rock, The third mind

Euglossine Creates a Gleaming Electronic Vista with 'Psaronius'

"Utah Teapot", named after the famous 3D graphics test model, begins with breezy flourishes before a funky beat takes over, and the song is transformed into a strange, sparse dance track. If the sudden appearance of a standard time signature is Euglossine's bid for mainstream acceptance, he does an immediate 180 with "Dryocampa Messenger Service". It's a song full of random bursts of electronic squalls, in addition to random beats that (thankfully) never quite coalesce into a song-length pulse...
Tags: Music, California, Experimental, Music Review, Frank Zappa, Ambient, Jazz Fusion, Electronic, Sound Design, Orange Milk Records, John Tesh, Euglossine, Psaronius, Utah Teapot, Dryocampa Messenger Service, Megaphyton

Brooding Goth Meets Post-Punk on Bambara's 'Stray'

"Ben & Lily" plays out like the flipside to "Johnny and Mary" by Robert Palmer. With its sweeping orchestration and minimalistic and repetitive figures, it could be a post-punk movie score. Lyrically, It's an affecting, somber tale about a married couple who were chemically sterilized in the state of Georgia. "Made For Me" sounds like the Cramps channeling Johnny Cash on a country, goth surf rock journey while on "Sweat" Bateh howls with almost religious fervor as the band build and then rele...
Tags: Music, Georgia, Rock, Music Review, Mary, Johnny Cash, Johnny, Bambara, Indie Rock, Wharf Cat Records, Robert Palmer, Post-punk, Gothic rock, Noise rock, Ben Lily

Nada Surf Get Philosophical on 'Never Not Together'

The insistent "Ride in the Unknown" finishes out the album with an upbeat, high-energy feel. The driving beat and bass from Elliot and Lorca push the song along, and subtle saxophone and keys fill out the sound. Caws again has a strong melody and vocals here. And again, he's talking about empathy, in this case being there for one another no matter the situation. That lyrical focus on moving forward, supporting one another, and having empathy could easily have turned cloying throughout a whole...
Tags: Music, Rock, Music Review, Power Pop, Alternative Rock, Elliot, Indie Rock, Barsuk Records, Lorca, Nada Surf

Tame Impala's 'The Slow Rush' Is an Open Diary Set to Perfect Music

On the final track of The Slow Rush, "One More Hour", we are told time has passed. We are older now, together. Whereas the first track asked for one more year, now we ask for just 60 more minutes. Parker is at his most self-reflective here. There might not be another chance at connection, he warms. "Whatever I've done, I did it for love. I did it for fun. Couldn't get enough. I did it for fame but never for money!" Whether these are thoughts expressed tongue-in-cheek, they are also soaked in t...
Tags: Music, Rock, Tame Impala, Kanye West, Music Review, Neo-psychedelia, Parker, Psychedelic Rock, Psychedelic Pop

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