Thursday, May 1, 2008

Casual Listening 5-2-08

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

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May 2, 2008

* Lil Mama – VYP: Voice of the Young People (rap)

Unbelievably infectious rhymes from a teenage phenom. I dare you to listen to the lip gloss song (lip gloss?!?!) and not be hooked. Lyrics about peer pressure and college visits are a welcome change of pace from typical streetfighting rap fare.

* Estelle – Shine (R&B)

Rich harmonies and a shifting background of 1960’s R&B, reggae, and hip hop supports a vivacious voice. Some echoes of Lily Allen, but Estelle brings a meatier sound. This Brit soul songstress is an impressive talent.

Slackers – Self Medication (ska)

Old-school Jamaican jump-up from a new school American band. Slackers shoot for soul rather than speed, and this album shows their skill in creating the good vibe.

Maná – Arde el Cielo (Spanish rock)

Maná is the U2 of the rock en español world. Grandiose, often political arena rock that draws an enormously loyal following. If you’ve never heard Maná before, this live set will help catch you up to speed. If you know their work, you’ll appreciate the crowd energy as the band delivers recent work and older hits, not to mention the stray Mexican folk ballad.

Newton Faulkner – Hand Built by Robots (rock)

Faulkner’s strong songwriting chops are evident throughout this album. He’s among the best of the pleasant sounding folk-rockers that have gotten attention in recent years, although I think Faulkner is head and shoulders above the Jack Johnsons of the world.

ConstantinesKensington Heights (rock)

Two shades bluer than power pop. Fuzzed up, satisfying rock that drifts between driven and brooding.

In the blog this week: Def Leppard, The Underachiever’s Club

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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