AMINA/Light of Aluna: New age girl friend music by a pair of fellow travelers that have been at it successfully since 2005 with a bunch of albums already in their wake. Using cosmic electronics as well as acoustic sounds, it all blends into some killer head music for non-chemical, mind expanding excursions within for the never ending quest to awaken the nerve endings and find the meaning of it all. Top of the genre material for new agers looking for some right on healing music.
BANDA MAGDA/Amour, t'es la?: It all makes sense. A Greek girl moves to New York, goes to Berklee and makes her bones as a film scorer. What's next? Reviving French 60s pop complete with writing all the lyrics in French. Mixing Serge Gainsbourg with a heavy dose of French now sound girls, the result is some of the greatest cotton candy music with substance to come this way in quite some time. Frothy without being light weight, this is the kind of music that's been needing to escape for quite some time. The genre splicing keeps it more than fresh as it sounds like you are at a French samba party on the Ivory Coast, all bottomed by a beat that can't be beat. You actually feel like you're listening to music in color. Well done.
FAT FREDDY'S DROP/Blackbird: When you come from New Zealand and you like dub, soul and whole lot of other non Maori sounds, own your own studio and can do what you want but don't want to fail, intriguing results are sure to come. Sexy, sinister dub with a Memphis/Chicago connection is on the move here. Wild stuff that comes at you from all directions, if this doesn't make people rejoice that blunts are getting legal all over, nothing will. Smoking (ha ha) throughout.
GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY/various: So, just after Stephen King says his new book with be a paper only release you have to go to book stores to get, along comes a wild new work where Stephen King joins up with John Mellencamp, who wrote the words and music to King's libretto, and T-Bone Burnett, who brings along the T-Bone Burnett All Stars (and some who would like to join the phlanx) for an audio/video presentation of a new King work for a new media. The good juju was flowing in the right direction when this was being put together because something that seems like it should have been quite unwieldy comes together quite nicely. A cd-dvd package, you can take this in doses any way you want to. Certainly Americana fans will take this to heart, but anyone that really wants to give their home entertainment system an event to have a work out on will enjoy this. Not only is it killer stuff, it takes entertainment packages to a whole new level of the game. Also, a lot of heritage acts in need of a second wind are going to find it given here. A must have experience for any adult listener with open ears and still harboring a thirst for cool, new stuff. A winner throughout.
ESA HELASVUO/Stella Nova: The Finish piano improviser makes his first record in over 20 years and it's a solo piano doozy. Sitting down jazz/instrumental music all the way, you would think only ECM could come with something this minimalist and make it sound so full. With the magic that comes from knowing how to play between the notes as well as playing the notes, you have to wonder why this guy you probably never heard of has been away so long, and what he'll have up his sleeve next. The perfect listening companion for those thoughtful, introspective moments when you want to be in that very late night piano bar that offers something extra. Killer stuff and highly unexpected.
WADADA LEO SMITH & TUMO/Occupy the World: Once again we are encountering music that needed to be made. Smith faces off against an improvising orchestra looking toward the future by drawing on the past. Reaching back to his early work with Anthony Braxton for some inspiration, gazing into the crystal ball for other inspiration, this work stretches over two cds and creative music hasn't had it so good since the early days of Watt Works where it seemed like anything could happen and you never knew just who would drop by in the process. Is there a place for creative music into today's listening world? Smith has his elbows up here, knowing he's not making music for everyone but making sure that those who need it get it. Left leaning, AACM tasting space journeys abound on this journey. Anyone who ever owned and enjoyed a BYG record will call this their own truck stop on the way back to the garden. Check it out if this is up your alley. Killer genre stuff.
ANDREW CALHOUN/Living Room: For a guy born in 1957, Calhoun has an amazing grasp of folk music the way it was when Elektra was it's primo commercial outpost and the Kingston Trio hadn't yet turned folk into pop. Without a trace of manqué about him, his sincerity and heart power songs and performances that sound like lost tracks from another time and place. Luckily for us, he continues to soldier on a road that's a backroad to the backroads without waver. On his first set of new songs in nine years, he delivers a stone cold winner that keeps you in the pocket throughout. If "The Midnight Special" radio show wants to stay true to the spirit of Nordstrom and Pelligrini, it has to put this record in rotation if it wants to have continued cred. This is a primo gateway drug for any newbie that's already had a taste of lo-fi and Americana and wants to hear what real folk music has to offer. Top shelf throughout.
THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK/A Sunshine State Mind: Soul/roots music for the post racial America you see in the ‘2 Fast 2 Furious' series, except the listeners for this don't have to be so extreme, the soul here has other urban/suburban elements tossed successfully into the mix as well. Pop music for listeners that don't really care what the charts have to say, it's like adult pop that anyone can listen to. Nu sunshine pop for sure. Hot stuff.
Volume 37/Number 212
June 1, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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