Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Casual Listening Extra - Overlooked Gems

Casual Listening


November 26, 2008

Some good ones that slipped through the cracks this year

* Ani DiFranco – Red Letter Year (rock)

This is the best sounding record she’s done in years, scrapping the neo-folk for a texturally interesting rock album. She brings out everything but the kitchen sink – electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums and various percussion plus strings, piano, organ, bells and some electronics. It all melds together brilliantly, and for once the music turns as many heads as the lyrics.

Listen to Ani Difranco “Emancipated

* Otis Taylor – Recapturing the Banjo (blues)

Taylor’s rustic banjo playing feels like a séance for the African spirits who inspired the first blues music. On this album, he’s joined by a number of other young guns – Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Keb Mo among others on a mix of acoustic and electric tunes, all featuring multiple banjos.

Hear tracks at Otis Taylor’s MySpace Page

Why skimp on one of the world’s great instruments? Upload any song, and you can tell the program how much cowbell to add to it. I uploaded the first thing I could find on my hard drive (Radiohead’s “Bodysnatchers”), and a bunch of extra cowbell sure didn’t hurt. This is a site you just have to try.

Surf to

Carla BruniComme Si De Rien N’Etait (folk)

Imagine this: Michelle Obama decides to make a record. It’s actually good. Very good. And she wrote all the songs. And some of them are in Spanish. That’s roughly the feat that Bruni accomplishes here, and it’s why I continue to be ga-ga for France’s first lady. She’s got a warm, beautiful voice that would catch your attention even if you didn’t know she was an international celebrity.

And can I just say that despite Clinton’s loss, we’ve got a pretty intriguing crew of women on the world stage? In addition to Obama and Bruni, there’s Michelle Bachelet, the progressive single mom who’s now the president of Chile, and Tzipi Livni, the Israeli vegetarian spy-turned-likely prime minister, just off the top of my head. Their politics are widely different, but they’re all defying expectations of what women in power should be.

Listen to Carla Bruni “Tu Es Ma Came

Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile – Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile (jazz)

Virtuosic picking with ex-Nickle Creek mandolinist Thile alongside the renowned newgrass bassist. All acoustic with just the two instrumentalists, it’s an imaginative collaboration that busts genres – elements of classical, jazz, and bluegrass all sit side by side.

Listen to Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile – “Cassandra’s Waltz

Sars Flannery – Sale of the Century (rock)

A sly, nonchalant vocal style and an ear for pop songcraft make Flannery stand out. Spot-on production also lifts this above the crowd, each song embellished with a taylor-made sound that sharpens the mood while lifting up the guitar and vocals.

Listen to Sars Flannery here

Flobots – Fight With Tools (rap)

Soundtrack for the revolution. File under hip hop, but closer to spoken word with an often inventive musical background to ease it down. Politically intense. Thanks to James for the tip on this band.

Listen to Flobots “Rise

1 comment:

James Mumm said...

Now that I am old, and my younger brothers are now out of college, CL is the only way I know what to listen to! Jeff, you are a genius!