Friday, June 27, 2008

Casual Listening 6-27-08

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

June 27, 2008

* Niyaz – Nine Heavens (world)

Global goth with Indian and Persian flair (remember the oud lesson from last week?). Imagine a Bollywood film scored by Dead Can Dance, and you’ll be in Niyaz’ magic neighborhood. This is 21st century music for ecstatic dancing.

* Dr. John – City That Care Forgot (funk)

Masterful party-time New Orleans piano syncopations belie one of the most incisive political albums to come out of the Crescent City since the hurricane, even with the amount of art that’s been made in the wake of that catastrophe. Dr. John gives voice to a heavy anger that’s just below the surface for New Orleans residents, and amplifies it by connecting their sense of abandonment to similar government carelessness with the war in Iraq and the destruction of the environment. Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, and Ani DiFranco help make sure the vitriol is backed up by great-sounding songs.

* Crooked Still – Still Crooked (bluegrass)

A bluegrass-inspired lineup playing beautiful, non-traditional folk. You’ll hear fiddle and killer banjo rub shoulders with cello and expressive alto vocals and duets. For those still mourning the loss of Nickel Creek, Crooked Still is your rebound band.

* Watermelon Slim – No Paid Holidays (blues)

Watermelon Slim is one of the freshest voices in blues today, and this album shows he just keeps getting better. Screaming slide guitar and dastardly harmonica drive a blues-rock sound that brings the essence of the blues into unconventional jams. Add to this the absolutely transcendent acoustic track “This Traveling Life,” and you’ve got a must-hear blues album.

Sigur Rós – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (rock)

The dulcet, ethereal tones that have endeared this band to the indie scene are here, but jolted to life with a mix of songs that verge on peppy. The translated title captures a piece of it: “With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly.” Put away your Coldplay album, and try on something more…well…Icelandic.

Seun Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80 – Seun Kuti and Fela’s Egypt 80 (world)

Big brass over driving percussion is the essence of Afrobeat, the influential jazz-pop form created by Fela Kuti, Seun’s father. Seun inherited the bandleader role in his dad’s band, and delivers a set of definitively thick grooves that would make Fela proud.

Eliza Carthy – Dreams of Breathing Underwater (rock)

Carthy brings a harder edge to the British folk-rock scene of which her parents were key figures a generation ago. Bold but tender vocals spin vivid ballads across a broad array of traditional and modern instruments, including violin, flute, electric guitar, and plenty of concertina accordion.

T-Model Ford – Jack Daniel Time (blues)

Just an old man with a guitar and a lifetime of hard living he channels into his music. Ford does blues standards plugged into an amp that sounds as old as he is, with a band that provides a minimum of adornment. If Lightnin’ Hopkins were still alive and making records, they’d sound a lot like this.

Be Your Own Pet – Get Dangerous (rock)

This EP consists of the three songs this band’s label thought were too edgy to put on BYOP’s latest album. Biting, punk-inspired tunes with gutsy female vocals and over-the-top vengeful lyrics that rewrite the yearbook on high school angst. I’d happily take these three songs over the full-length release.

In The Blog: Gilberto Gil on Democracy Now, Ry Cooder, Peter Gabriel’s new project, and many more.

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

Check out the blog at . To subscribe or unsubscribe, or just to say hi, send an e-mail to

No comments: