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.
This group is otherwise known as Mercury Rev, and consists of likely suspects Jonathan, Grasshopper, Nels Cline, Steve Shelley, Jesse Chandler, and Martin Keith. Woodstock-based guitarist Peter Walker joins this amazing band, and it is he who brings to mind Ravi Shankar’s sitar, seeing as he studied with Shankar. The music on this CD is pure psychedelic bliss, and the songs themselves take their time as they exemplify the Greek fates: past (lachesis), present (clotho), and atropos (future). Enjoy every minute.
The staticky quality of these recordings are perfect for the blues, and Carr proves that misery loves company with these songs. Recorded circa the years of the Great Depression, we get a true feel for how tough things can be. “Rainy Day Blues” is awesome, as are many of the other tracks. Looking to commiserate? Try any of these to keep those lonesome feelings at bay.
Such sparse loveliness coming from a trumpet can only come from a Norwegian musician. Compared to the sounds of a flute, Henriksen’s trumpet music tiptoes over your emotions, leaving you feeling sad and nostalgic, and the beauty of his high-pictched vocalizations (especially on 9) offers you just enough comfort to wish for more.
All hail A Divina (the Divine One), the great Brazilian singer/actress whose name became associated with samba and bossa nova. As soon as I heard the first notes of this CD, I knew I was in for a treat. Upbeat samba melodies along with ballads are rendered with equal beauty by this lovely singer. Hope you enjoy as much as I did. Songs 1 and 5 are my particular favorites.
When I first looked at the cover of this 2-CD package, I was reminded of Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” But as soon as I started listening to the music and reading the liner notes, I knew it was so much more. Not that I don’t like Julie, but this Smithsonian retrospective of 60 years of Barbara’s music runs the gamut from folk to blues to jazz, and her amazing voice adapts to each style as though she was born to it. Plus, she opted out of the fame route and chose to sing where her passions lay–in civil right and songs of the people. Memphis Slim, Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Chambers Brothers, Pete Seeger, and many others appear on here. Be sure to listen to Disc 2, which contains the unreleased recordings. See for yourself why Louis Armstrong referred to Dane thus: “Did you get that chick? She’s a gasser!”
This is a slice of blues history (first released in 1976) that is a great addition to our library. All compositions created, played on piano, and sung by Big Chief Ellis, with Tarheel Slim, Brownie McGhee, and John Cephas on guitar. Be sure to read the liner notes that describe how Wilbert Ellis, despite his religious parents’ mandate that forbade music in the house, got his aunt to let him play her piano by mowing her lawn. His clear, strong voice, and his sure-fingered piano work make this a must-play for any blues show.
Gordon Daniel, Jr. set out to play guitar, but added synths to his repertoire in a big way. His music is interesting, and his voice sounds like the synths. “Dark Knights” is the only instrumental track; all the others have vocals.
Hamish Kilgour (of The Clean) composed these songs about the kingdom of Finkelstein for his son, Taran. They were intended to be the soundtrack to a story, and that is still the intention. I’d say that, given the story contained in the songs themselves, and the cheery way they spark your imagination, the story has almost written itself. The CD art is reminiscent of that for the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” and you’ll just have to try this out to see how the whole experience works for you.
This psych/shoegaze music sounds as cool as the art on the CD sleeve looks. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, Asteroid No. 4 brings you this release of extra-aural pleasure that is sometimes mellow, sometimes intense, with bird sounds introducing “Weeping Willow” (which is graced by a lovely female voice). The rest of the vocals are male, hazy, and worth listening to. “Sagamore…bring the village to the shore…” Are they talking about the bridge to Cape Cod, or something else? Enjoy.
These four songs are rather long and give you time to get caught in the trance of the percussive (drums, bells, shakers, and more) beat that accompanies the deep, clear vocals of the Tewa speaking Native American inhabitants of the Pueblo of San Juan, which is found in New Mexico. It is whimsical and magical to imagine turtles dancing, and these songs incorporate that whimsy and magic.
What a soothing CD this is! This music was recorded in St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, CA “with the intention of creating a sonic sanctuary, a place of refuge where the spirit can soar.” The heartening voice of Tzvetanka Varimezova, Bulgarian folkloric soprano and coach of Kitka, resonates throughout these songs. Kitka formed as a grassroots vocal ensemble that sought to share the “resonant strength of Eastern European women’s vocal traditions.” Under Varimezova’s guidance, they do just that.
This is a great compilation giving you a slice of life from 1963-66 in London at the Ham Yard, where American soul made its way to the UK in a former basement jazz club. The acts on here are classic (including early Ike and Tina Turner and songs such as “Ol’ Man River”). You can’t go wrong anywhere on here. It’s distinctive soul of the time and place, and the liner notes are very informative.
The Doubling Riders are an Italian group that first released this album in 1991. The music is imbued with the spirit of the Garamantes described in the songs–these were the predecessors of the Tuareg tribes, the ones who carved the roads that became trade routes and then thoroughfares for revolutionary tribes seeking independence. Piano, synth, percussion create an ambiance of another time and place, and guest musicians add their voices and instruments to make this a worthy re-release.
Just in time for the summer heat waves comes this debut from James Williamson (former Stooges guitarist) and the Pink Hearts. His vocals and guitars, combined with Petra Haden’s vocals and violin, and Frank Meyer’s vocals and guitars, along with a bevy of talented musicians, keep you cool with the rock and roll of stellar songs. Try out “This Garden Lies” (6) and “Purple Moon” (7). All of it will keep you “Behind the Shade” (10) and grooving in your shoes.
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