Thursday, January 29, 2009

Casual Listening -- The Bird and the Bee, Mariza, Bruce Springsteen

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

January 30, 2009

* The Bird and the Bee – Ray Guns are Not Just the Future (rock)

Beguiling vocals by Inara George are enclosed in playfully retro beats and bleeps. Lush, late-night lounge music for the crewmember’s lounge on the starship Enterprise.

Listen to The Bird and the Bee “My Love

* Mariza – Terra (world)

Nostalgic, emotionally intense songs from a powerhouse vocalist. This is Fado, a little-known Portuguese tradition which is enjoying a mini-revival thanks in no small part to Mariza. Jazz and flamenco influences also make appearances throughout the album.

Listen to Mariza “Minh Alma

Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream (rock)

Springsteen’s rootsy rock has changed little in 30 years, but in a changing America, there are moments when his music really resonates. Now is one of those times. Stories of hard-hit ordinary people hoping against hope for a brighter day speak to the economic trauma and political possibility of the day. Not every song hits, but the ones that do would bring a smile to Woody Guthrie’s face.

Listen to Bruce Springsteen “Queen of the Supermarket

and the theme from the motion picture “The Wrestler

Master Musicians of Jajouka – Live vol.1 (world)

Jajouka is a small town in Morocco where one family is keeping alive some of the oldest musical traditions on the planet. Specialized flutes, oboes, and drums characterize a mesmerizing sound of droning tones and darting rhythms.

Listen to Master Musicians of Jajouka “If the Moon Loves You

Bill Evans & Megan Lynch – Let’s Do Something (folk)

A contemporary take on the fiddle & banjo, Evans & Lynch pair inventive tunes and reflective lyrics with serious stringwork.

Listen to Bill Evans & Megan Lynch “Rocks and Water

Grave Digger – Ballads of a Hangman (metal)

Fast and heavy. Although the macabre themes would suggest death metal, the clearly sung vocals and power-chord guitar work places this music in the realm of the speed metal of the late ’80s.

Listen to Grave Digger “Sorrow of the Dead

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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