This is a treasure trove of folk rock inspired by Joni Mitchell’s 1970 album “Ladies of the Canyon,” so of course I love it. These ladies celebrated the rebirth of folk rock and hail from the canyons of California. Some have religious overtones because they were sung at church picnics; the first features a gorgeous voice of a 19-year-old and lasts for less than a minute; another (track 4) comes from singer who went on to perform in Disney films such as “Pocahontas”; all of them are unique tributes to a genre that will not be forgotten thanks to the researchers who curated this compilation. Great liner notes, too.
This lovely music finessed by Narcisi breathes in and out in a chill way like an accordion, the instrument which Fidanza brings to the table on tracks 6 through 9. Electronic manipulations and field recordings are what’s in store on this release, and listening to it will take you through time quite easily and dreamily. Track 9 even sounds like it has a vox humana which indeed sounds like the celestial voice indicated by the track title. Enjoy.
Phoenix, Arizona-based musican Owen Evans (AKA R.O.A.R.) says his influences include the Beach Boys and Beatles, and this is apparent in his vocals. The title of this album is a great description of the songs, which tell of a sad divide between two or more people. The lyrics are printed on the back of the album cover, and are heartwrenching: “I can’t get enough of feeling lonely” (“Patetique”). “Wondering Why” is perhaps one of the most upbeat sounding. All are worthy of a listen. The magenta vinyl is lovely and looks like a fuchsia or bleeding heart.
Some of these songs written and performed by Vassalotti are down-tempo and ballad-like, while others are more upbeat. Throughout, Vassalotti’s guitar weaves his stories together while his echoey voice delivers the lyrics. My favorite track is “The Other Light.” The lyrics are thoughtfully included inside the CD cover, so pull out your magnifying glass and contemplate what this musician is communicating to you.
This is lively, spirited music from the Merina, an ethnic group in Madagascar that lies in the center of the island. The zither, lute, and flute are featured in these folk songs, along with some vocals chiming in. Track 18 is especially fun, with children’s voices accompanied by earth drum and rhythmic games that will spark joy in many a set. Great add for the International Collective.
These recordings from 1964-1968 on the Kent Recordings label are perfect for our Soul Collective. Alternating between the catchy pizzazz of soul and the ballad-like nature of blues, Z. Z. Hill’s hearty, smooth baritone skates those soul-rock-blues lines with ease. You can choose almost any song on these two CDs and be assured of finding a gem for your set.
This 2-CD compilation is perfect for our International music collective. These popular Portuguese songs from the “bad boys” of Lisbon are often melancholy and accompanied by mandolins and guitars. The first CD features women singers whose voices are a bit grating to me; in the second CD the women seem to have softened their voices, or maybe I just got used to them. All recordings from a time long ago that must not be forgotten.
This CD is a jewel traveling to us from 1995 and debuts the rich, hearty, nourishing voice of blues singer Sista Monica. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll learn that she moved to Santa Cruz. It’s true that her voice is an instrument, and though she is known for her blues, she stirs in elements of soul and rock and gospel (in the last song you can hear her gospel singing roots). This is a great add for our library. Sista Monica may have left the world, but her voice reverberates on.
Cellos, marimbas, woodblocks, oh my! Composers who are classically trained and yet value uptown as well as downtown elements, minimal jazz within structures that allow for musical freedoms galore. This is what Bang On a Can is all about. Julia Wolfe, Louis Andriessen, David Lang, and Michael Gordon are the composers featured on this unique CD that offers the ultimate challenging listen.
To say this album breathed life back into me is an understatement. From the first song to the last, Van Goat is a band that makes you WANT to “follow them under.” The horns bring to mind the jaunty liveliness of a New Orleans funeral procession, the percussion sets up a heart beat beneath the catchy lyrics and fast-paced numbers that defy classification–is it jazz, punk, Americana? Only two slow down enough to be ballads, and they are “Nothing Matters” and “Saliva Monster,” both featuring the powerful female vocals of Lindsay Alexis. Aidan Ward offers lead vocals on the rest of these amazing songs. I LOVE THIS!!!
From Nigeria and a remastering of a 1975 album, this is just the ticket for injecting some funk into your life. Felix Day and Kevin Coburn make music that gets into your blood and makes your feet shuffle. The songs are long enough to satisfy your dance craving and lift your mood.
Dubbed “The Best of the JSP Studio Sessions,” these blues songs are infused with rock and funk, which put them into an enjoyable blues league of their own. Lucky’s father and his wife collaborate with him on these tracks, and rarely has a family reunion such as this sounded so good. This should get plenty of play.
This is fresh jazzy experimental music from a Bay Area band whose upbeat tempo changes and fanciful saxophones bring to mind plenty of influences, such as Sun Ra. The horn infusions even made me think of Chicago for a brief second or two, but the mix of international sounding beats distinguish this as its own unique sound. Highly enjoyable and energetic.
This is gorgeous music from singer-songwriter Carmen Hillestad from Oslo, Norway. The word “ethereal” has been used to describe it, and I wholeheartedly agree. She is as beautiful as her music is, yet she has the confidence to put Gena Rowlands on her album cover and let her work speak for itself. Lovers of loops, electronics, and atmospherics, as well as dreamy vocals, will want to play this one as much as possible.
This Swedish duo have been creating ambient music together since they were 15, and this album represents what can happen when musicians mature into fine creators of soothing atmospherics. Some field recordings from Australia and other locals are included on here, and some lovely lyrics bubble up from underneath the layers of a few of the songs. You won’t want this one to end.
This reissue of a 1951 King album is truly blue and moody, as the title promises. A great band accompanies the hearty voice of Lula Reed, changing the mood on alternate songs from jazzy blues to dark moods. Try “Going Back to Mexico” and then “I’ll Drown in My Tears” to see what I mean.
How lovely and simple are the compositions on this CD, a collection of stories from nature rendered beautifully by Berlin-based Japanese vibraphonist Fujita. Hoshiko Yamane’s violin and Arturo Martinez Steele’s cello layer in on a few of the songs. Read the liner notes as you breathe in the images of birds, waterfalls, forests, and trees summoned by Fujita’s exquisite vibraphone. “Memories of the Wind” (track 8) will reverberate through your consciousness long after the last key is struck.
This is an aurally fascinating concept album about an individual attempting to navigate through the maze of mind (which is Mara, a demon) in order to transcend worldly pleasures and achieve the awakened state of the Buddha. The musicians on here meld Eastern and Western traditions in a fascinating way, and you can hear elements of Indian classical ragas infused with jazz, hip hop, and spoken word. Brother-sister duo Aditya and Mythili Prakash have produced this CD that will get you dancing and awake in the best possible way.
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