a review of cool new music
by Jeff Pinzino
! Serge Severe – Concrete Techniques (rap)
Funk, Funk, and Funk! Serge Severe hearkens back to the birth of hip hop when the breakbeat was king – DJs taking the funkiest pieces of the funkiest records they could find and looping them to get people dancing. Serge Severe distills James Brown-style horns and drums and adorns them with articulate lyrics that revolve around the love of the music. Did I mention funky?
Listen to Serge Severe “Bring the Horns”
* Femi Kuti – Day by Day (world)
Prince of the Afrobeat nation, Kuti delivers horn-heavy, jazz-inspired tracks with a conscience. This album is less frenzied than what you’d expect from this style, drawing inspiration from the more relaxed rhythms of reggae and even chicha.
Listen to Femi Kuti “Eh Oh”
Technicolor synthesizers and electronics shape propulsive beats and voices. Bright vocal harmonics emerge from and disappear into a rainforest of sound. If the economy is squeezing your travel plans, let this album be your next voyage.
Tom Richards Orchestra – Smoke and Mirrors (jazz)
Big bands are hard to find these days, especially ones dedicated to music written after WWII. Tom Richards composes for the ensemble, and is adept at using the harmonic possibilities that so many instruments create. A vocalist takes focus on a couple of numbers, but it’s on the instrumental tracks that the broad weave of musical voices really shines.
Listen to Tom Richards Orchestra “Dropping Pennies”
Victor Manuelle – Una Navidad a mi Estilo (Latin)
The lyrics are about Puerto Rican holiday food and Christmas caroling, but the music is about a serious salsa dance party. It’s a shame to confine this one to the holiday season – you’ll want to take advantage of it while you can.
Listen to Victor Manuelle “Lechon, Lechon, Lechon”
Expect an “Extra” on Wednesday with a few highlights from the week – reports on Kanye West, Killers, Paul McCartney’s “Firemen” project, and the long-awaited Guns N’ Roses release, as well as a blog post with a handful of overlooked gems from the year. Send me your top 10 lists, and I’ll start posting them in December.
* highly recommended
! highest recommendation