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Four Lost Souls – “Four Lost Souls” – [Bloodshot Records]

humana   10/28/2017   CD, Country

“These songs aren’t going to sing themselves” (from “Poor Valley Radio”). And count your lucky stars that Jon Langford (who wrote and sings the songs along with Bethany Thomas and Tawny Newsome) and his band (rounded out by skilled guitarist John Szymanski) found themselves in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to sing the great Americana songs contained on this CD. Yes, the sobering election of 2016 made them feel lost, but they stepped up to the plate and responded with these sometimes rocking, sometimes ballad-y songs. Be sure to read the poem in the sleeve.

Flamin Groovies – “Fantastic Plastic” – [Sonic Kicks]

humana   10/22/2017   A Library, CD

They’re back and better than ever! What a fun and enjoyable collection of brand-new rock songs penned by Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson! These are uptempo songs and smooth ballads by this group whose origins are in San Francisco. Each song is great in its own way, but “She Loves Me” and “Lonely Hearts” are two of my favorites.

Seafang – “Solid Gold/ Stardust” – [Emotional Response Recordings]

humana   10/22/2017   7-inch, A Library

Of course I love this 7″ dimension of wonder because it’s shoegaze from a quintet in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Solid Gold” is an upbeat, fast-paced number, while “Stardust” is a bit slower, but both are fine examples of lovely haze with Heidi’s pretty vocals backed by the band’s energetic guitars, drums, and bass. Think Go-Gos KFJC-style.

Cotillion Soul 45’s [coll] – [Cotillion Records]

humana   10/1/2017   7-inch, Soul

Oh what fun it is to open a box of 10 7″ discs recorded in 1968- 1970 on the Cotillion label and dance to the soul sounds of artists including Darrell Banks, C and the Shells, Moses Smith, and Lou Johnson. There are ballads on here, too, and the liner notes are a must-read for cool background info. Covers of “Ain’t No Sun” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” are highlights. Pick any disc and get your soul groovin’!

Demen – “Nektyr” – [Kranky]

humana   9/24/2017   12-inch, A Library

This artist comes from Stockholm, Sweden, and her music and vocals create an atmosphere that is a lovely, murky swirl that makes you feel like you’re inhabiting some kind of cool night world where anything can happen, both good and bad.

Ilaiyaraaja, Isaignani – “Ilectro!” – [Finders Keepers Records]

humana   9/10/2017   CD, International

When I first listened to this CD, I thought, “Bollywood!” But it’s Kollywood with a K! Which refers to Tamil cinema. But this is so much more. Ilaiyaraaja is an incredibly prolific score-master of cinema, creator of “euphoric electronics and robotic funk,” and all you have to do is pick any track to hear the creative energy behind all that this Southern Indian pens. Though the songs have known popularity mostly in Tamil speaking territories, I know this will get a fair airing in Ann Arbor’s show, among others.

New Orleans Funk: Voodoo Fire In New Orleans Vol. 4 [coll] – [Soul Jazz]

humana   9/10/2017   CD, Soul

These songs from 1951-77 get the funk to rise in your blood in the best possible way, and the liner notes explain in a most excellent fashion how this type of music came to be from the earliest days in Congo Square, New Orleans, where “slaves, ex-slaves and free blacks congregated each Sunday to socialise, dance, party…and worship.” From Eldridge Holmes to Norma Jean to Chocolate Milk to Clifton Chenier to Zilla Mayes, this is a not-to-be-missed compilation, meant for more than just Soul Patrol.

Ferrat, Jean – “Les Annees Barclay” – [JBarclay]

humana   9/10/2017   CD, International

These two CDs take you back in time to the late 60s cabaret scene in France, where singer-songwriter Ferrat specialized in setting poetry to music. This very polished sound is easy on the ears, mellow and romantic, and, as the liner notes say, pop in the best sense of the word. Track 3 made the 2013 BBC list of 20 songs that most changed the world. Each song will transport you to the environs of France and all its boutique glory.

Salamander Wool – “Lunarsophic Somnambulist” – [Ehse Records]

humana   7/30/2017   A Library, CD

Salamander Wool’s music is by Carso Garhart and Twig Harper contributes electronic elements and production techniques. The first track is probably the best, with its field sounds (recorded over time in West Baltimore) and bells. Vocals join the sounds partway through the track, and are present on the other tracks as well. These are an acquired taste, but the music itself is pleasant enough, with its guitar strumming that is Americana-esque. Track 5 has water sounds and then whirring (a washing machine?). The lyrics have merit, and overall this might just be great music for the solar eclipse coming up.

My Cat Is an Alien & Jean-Marc Montera – “Union of The Supreme Light” – [Starlight Furniture Co.]

humana   7/30/2017   12-inch, A Library

In a worthy tribute to their mother, the Opalio brothers join with Montera for some instantaneous composition in Marseille, France. In addition to the lovely painting gracing the album cover, Roberto adds his haunting wordless vocalizations and alientronics to Maurizio’s self-made string instrument and Montera’s self-made guitar table. The effects are calming, atmospheric, strange, and out of this world superb.

Lockwood, Annea – “Breaking The Surface” – [Lovely Music Ltd.]

humana   6/13/2017   A Library, CD

These are two epic-length tracks, the first commissioned by Thomas Buckner and composed by Lockwood to showcase her vocalizations that call to mind shamanic chants with a large glass gong, wind, and a Cameroonian rattle, among other instruments. Track 2 records the voice of sculptor Walter Wincha, interviewed by Lockwood just over a day before he died at age 30. Interspersed with the interview are field sounds of running on a track. The entire experience is cathartic and mesmerizing.

Dufallo, Cornelius – “Journaling 2” – [Innova Recordings]

humana   5/7/2017   A Library, CD

Dufallo, violinist for Flux Quartet, Ne(x)tworks, and ETHEL, offers us a bracing treat here with his “journal” of work with living composers including, among others, Kinan Azmeh and Raven Chacon. Electronics manipulations combine with his sublime avant violin technique and each track is described well in the liner notes. Dufallo himself composed the last track, “Reverie,” which is a must-listen. Call it edgy, nostalgic, classical–but it is definitely exquisite.

5.00 Sampler Ai Records 2000-2005 [coll] – [Ai Records]

humana   5/6/2017   A Library, CD

Just in time to awaken you from your winter stupor we bring you this treasure from 2005, an electronica sampler from Ai Records packed with something for everyone. There are upbeats galore, vox on some (like 5, 6, 12, 13), marimba-like sounds on 13, and infectious dub sounds on others (9). Standing the test of time, these will get you moving in a good way.

Zopoula, Hermas – “Espoir” – [Asthmatic Kitty Records]

humana   4/2/2017   CD, International

The story of this double CD is as happy and heartwarming as the music on each CD. Disc 1 was recorded in a West African studio, and Disc 2 has the more homey and true experience of guitarist and singer Zopoula’s magic, recorded live in and around his home in Burkina Faso. Jonathan and Heather Dueck visited Western Africa and had the great fortune to meet Hermas Zopoula, who acted as guide and friend to them during their stay. It was almost by accident that they discovered he was a musician as well as an incredible person. Some of his songs have heartbreaking lyrics, but the upbeat nature of his music attests to his faith and big heart. Enjoy.

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