Thursday, November 8, 2007

Casual Listening 11-9-07

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

November 9, 2007

* Jay-Z – American Gangster (rap)

Most gangsta rap gets by glorifying guns, drugs, money, and sex while begging the question “Why are you telling me this?” American Gangster is an hour’s worth of “because.” Jay-Z comments on the conditions that give rise to the gangster, the way its mythology perversely feeds into the American dream, and the ultimate emptiness of outlaw success. An intricate backdrop of 70’s funk and soul is in itself remarkable, but the real power here is in the storytelling. This is a disturbing record, the kind of art you can argue with, but not dismiss.

* Sigur Rós – Hvarf - Heim (rock)

Rainy day pop brightened with an angelic falsetto. Reverb-heavy bells, piano, and electronic tones create a sound you can easily get lost in. Entrancing sad innocence.

Loren Connors – As Roses Bow: Collected Airs 1992-2002 (classical)

A collection of 43 short, solo, electric guitar pieces in a deeply contemplative mood. The experience is like flipping through an artist’s sketchbook – the beauty lies in beholding a series of unfinished, unvarnished creative ideas.

Dan Mangan – Postcards and Daydreaming (folk)

On any given night, in any given coffeehouse in America, there’s a wide-eyed young man curved over a guitar playing songs he hopes are as good as this album sounds. Heartrending songs linger over a country-inflected backing band to make a soundtrack of blue reminiscence.

Robin & Linda Williams– Radio Songs (folk)

Sweet harmonies from the perennial folk duo recall the golden age of country radio. These are all live performances from A Prairie Home Companion and other assorted public radio programs. Close your eyes and picture yourself listening to a 1940’s version of the Grand Old Opry, or a clear channel broadcast of the Carter Family.

In the blog this week: Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Sones de México, Eagles.

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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