Those who expected this compilation to feature the likes of Marisa Monte, Gal Costa or even newer names like Bebel Gilberto or Cibelle will be disappointed at first—this release contains none of their songs. Instead, we are presented with few names ever heard Stateside save for Luisa Maita or Mart’nalia, who have regularly toured in the US. The disc opens with Italy-based Nossa Alma Canta’s “Bossanova,” a tune that remembers the Brazilian movement that swept the world with the help of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. The tune name recalls many familiar hits like “Wave,” “Desafinado” while playing snippets of familiar tunes via instrumental interludes. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2008, British soul singer Alice Russell caught the attention of critics and fans alike with her catchy “Got The Hunger” the lead single from her US debut, “Pot of Gold” (Six Degrees, 2008). She seemed to tag along with her country’s embrace of young female singers like the late Amy Winehouse and Adele, who capture the essence of American soul and use it in their own way—apparently drawing more inspiration from Motown than more current stuff made here.
On her new record, “To Dust,” Russell goes further by incorporating gospel sounds and more organic instrumentation instead of the previous disc’s predominantly electronic sounds. For instance, “A to Z,” is a powerful guitar-driven tune with smart vocals and a very catchy groove. Read the rest of this entry »
A decade after her smash hit “Thank You” put this English singer on the pop map and five years after 2008’s “Safe Trip Home,” Dido reemerges with this concise album that brings together all the nuances of her style, blending folk-rock, electronica and straight-ahead pop. The album opens with the acoustic ballad “No Freedom,” whose lyrics reflect on the necessity of allowing people to have freedom within the confines of a relationship. The title track makes a playful allusion to the lover “who got away,” the sort of utopian dream-like person who many of us were unable to keep by our sides. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Daniel Coston.
The history of the dBs sounds almost like a rock ‘n’ roll movie: the band forms in the late seventies, makes some great recordings that are well received by critics but that fail to reach a larger audience. They put out a few more albums with some lineup changes and then ultimately break up after a few years, and the former members move on to make music on their own. Read the rest of this entry »
Canada-based Cuban Alex Cuba has been building a strong following in the Latin alternative and indie crowd with his mix of funk, soul and Cuban beats. The fact that he is a gifted performer with great charisma doesn’t hurt, either. Early on, he participated in showcases like the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, and he was able to engage audiences and get them to sing along with him almost immediately—even if that was the first time anyone in the room had heard the song. Read the rest of this entry »
Electronic/Dance, Funk, Latin, New Music, Pop, Psychedelic, R&B, Rock, Samba, Singer-Songwriter, Soul, World Music
Céu/Photo: Renan Costa Lima
Throughout her career, São Paulo-born Céu (pronounced SEH-uh) has been inspired by electronica and American soul music, but on her recent release “Caravana Sereia Bloom” (loosely translates as “Mermaid Bloom Caravan”) she goes into a different direction. The music is influenced by various elements of Brazilian regional music. An example is the lead single “Retrovisor” (“Rear View Mirror”), a tune whose main rhythm is reminiscent of the sounds commonly heard in countryside nightclubs around the country’s southeastern region. Read the rest of this entry »
If singer and guitarist Dar Williams didn’t have an idyllic voice, she could have sidled her way into the anti-folk scene about the time her earliest self-released tapes began circulating. She can be as caustic as anyone else armed with just a guitar and a set of pipes. But being a Joan Baez disciple—the pair toured together a bit during the nineties—means Williams values her singing abilities. Coupling that sort of talent with occasionally almost-comedic lyrics makes for an odd combination. Read the rest of this entry »
If Daniel Johnston could actually sing and had a penchant for rapping, he’d sound kinda like Willis Earl Beal. As it is, what Johnston lacks in traditional talent, he makes up for with melodic sensibility. It’s not something Beal lacks, but the lesser-known Chicago native deals in such an array of musical approaches that listeners should have a difficult time fully grasping what he’s aiming for. There aren’t too many albums that can include half-rapped tape-deck jams and Exuma-styled, guttural swamp sounds (Beal’s “Acousmatic Sorcery” was released April 2 via XL Recordings). Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: João Wainer
When Luisa Maita’s debut CD “Lero-Lero” first dropped in the U.S. in 2010, she joined the roster of many talented young Brazilian artists (Bebel Gilberto, Ceu, Seu Jorge—to name a few) to make it into the world music scene. Back then, she did a mini-tour that included small venues in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles that helped solidify her career and generate a buzz about her.
Maita’s sound is a mix of samba, rock and Afro-Brazilian influences. Read the rest of this entry »
Mark Kozelek doesn’t write folk songs, he weaves them. From his earlier fronting of the slowcore founders the Red House Painters twenty years ago, to his more recent critically acclaimed incarnation as Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek has made a career from quietly building genre-spanning epics and constructing fables from imagistic lyrics. While he’s been compared to Neil Young in the past for his falsetto and psychedelic take on folk, where Kozelek diverges is the sense of place and autobiography he invests into every song. “Environment inspires me,” Kozelek said in an interview with the website Identity Theory. “It’s the background to a lot of my songs.” This sense of environment, of a gradually cultivated atmosphere, permeates many of his tracks. Characters like Katy and Michael reappear from album to album, as if his total work is an extended roman à clef. Nine-minute epics like “Lost Verses” craft grandeur out of what begins simply as Kozelek’s strummed guitar. Nowhere is Kozelek’s penchant for constructing sonic atmospheres more clear than his most recent release, “Admiral Fell Promises,” where he takes the minimalist’s route, honing his songwriting down to ten tracks of him alone with his nylon-string guitar. Some of the grandeur is lost, but the remarkably vibrant details of his lyrics and finger picking shine through. (Michael Gillis)
July 8 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 North Lincoln, 9pm. $20.